Last week, Jacobin and the New York Times published reviews of Matt Tyrnauer’s new documentary The Reagans. Both focus on a key factor enabling the Reagan Revolution, the capitulation and in many cases active complicity of the Democratic opposition. Neither, however, mentions what is perhaps the most revealing and consequential instance, the Tax Reform Act of 1986 which radically cut rates on corporations and upper income individuals.
It has by now been mostly forgotten that “the real hero of tax reform,” according to the Washington Post, was a Democrat, New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley.
Dollar Bill and Neoliberalism 1.0
Widely seen as representing the liberal center of the party and a likely nominee for president, it should now be apparent that Bradley was not at at all a liberal. Rather, he and other centrist Democrats of the time referred to themselves as *neo* liberals committed, like Reagan, to undermining the social welfare programs of the New Deal and Great Society.
Continue reading The Road to Destruction: The Reagan Revolution Reconsidered
Bernie Sanders’s stump speeches are often criticized for neglecting his personal story including a hardscrabble Brooklyn upbringing and the early death of both of his parents. Sanders’s failure to “share his feelings” is sometimes contrasted to the “I feel your pain” emotionality of Bill Clinton.
What this omits is what has become increasingly obvious to the victims of Clinton’s economic policy. Clinton’s personal affinity with average citizens masked an underlying lack of concern and even contempt towards their suffering. Sanders’s reticence is the polar opposite, of a piece with a campaign based on a profound sympathy and solidarity with the victims of economic violence.
What Sanders understands is that for a fraction of the population, the experience of normal human emotions, including pain, has by now become a form of privilege.
Continue reading Bernie Sanders Does Not Feel Your Pain
Introduction: Why Do They Lie?
Those whose main experience with politics begins with Barack Obama are often unaware that Obama was unusual in at least one respect: he was honest to the left and liberals who had strongly supported him. Obama made few promises that his policies would be anything other than corporate friendly, establishment neoliberalism. And it should have surprised no one (though it did) that that is exactly what he delivered.
Obama’s honesty broke sharply with previous campaigns. Prior to Obama, Democratic candidates would typically promise much during their campaigns and deliver little in office.
A dramatic example was the Clinton campaign which was based on the slogan “putting people first.” This was understood to mean Continue reading Sanders vs. Warren: Which Side Are You On?
Berniebots are not going to want to hear it, but the fact of the matter, is that Hillary did “win” the debate in the only way that matters: as polls have clearly indicated, she was perceived as having won not just by media pundits but by the overwhelming majority of those who saw it.
Rather than deal with this reality, the left has responded, typically and depressingly, by claiming a conspiracy involving CNN’s corporate ties to the Clinton campaign, allegations of deleted comments from Sanders supporters, pundits
Continue reading Bernie Lost. Here’s How to Deal with It.
Any performer knows that “polished”, “confident” and “assured” performances such as that delivered by Hillary Clinton on Tuesday do not just happen. One factor relevant to the specific circumstance was previously discussed: it’s easy to sound convincing in a debate when you can invent whatever facts are required to support your assertions as Clinton did again and again.
But lying is one thing, lying well is something else.
Continue reading Clinton Lies
The media’s characterization of Clinton’s debate performance last night as polished is accurate so far as it goes. But what is elided from the coverage is any reference to what should be understood as the actual noun which the adjective “polished” modifies. That noun is “liar”. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise that Clinton’s handlers have managed to polish their turd of a candidate to such a high gloss metallic sheen, but modern PR continues to amaze, and it did so again and again last night.
E.g. Clinton’s looking directly into the camera as she earnestly described herself as an “enemy” of the pharmaceutical industry, an advocate of breaking up the big banks, and “enemy” of Wall Street. That the audience didn’t dissolve into hysterical laughter was a tribute both to the magic wielded by “communications specialists” combined, of course, with the utter cynicism and incompetence of the mass media which has veiled the leading role of the Clintons in creating the conditions for the financial bubble which burst in 2008.
Continue reading Polishing a Turd? (Dis)honesty is the Best Policy
We could have saved so much time and trouble and had we listened to Adolph Reed back in 1996.
In Chicago, for instance, we’ve gotten a foretaste of the new breed of foundation-hatched black communitarian voices: one of them, a smooth Harvard lawyer with impeccable credentials and vacuous to repressive neoliberal politics, has won a state senate seat on a base mainly in the liberal foundation and development worlds. His fundamentally bootstrap line was softened by a patina of the rhetoric of authentic community, talk about meeting in kitchens, small-scale solutions to social problems, and the predictable elevation of process over program – the point where identity politics converges with old-fashioned middle class reform in favoring form over substances.
Continue reading All You Need(ed) to Know