“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Hillary is questionable, and not a single Republican candidate has a message that is positive for the average American. Then there is Bernie Sanders.

CNN poll:
BUSH: 47%
TRUMP: 38% 

Clinton Is Not a Stronger Candidate Than Bernie Sanders

It's just so obvious.
A recent CNN poll shows Sanders can beat the possible Republican nominees; and mind you, that’s with Sanders not having full name-recognition yet (as in, 41 percent of respondents said they didn't know who he was).
But you can put it really simply.
  • The Democratic base is about as excited about Clinton as the Republican base was about Romney (there, I said it); and Democrats are already much, much less inspired about the election than Republicans;
  • Clinton is so reviled by the Right (almost entirely unfairly, but still), that they will come out in droves to oppose her. It's not hard to see that that plays a role in Republicans being so much more excited about the election; they, like so many, are assuming Clinton will be the nominee, and they can't wait to vote against her.
  • Sanders speaks to, inspires and motivates people all over the political map -- not just the "far Left" as the simple-minded, when-you're-a-hammer-everything-looks-like-a-sickle-wielding-socialist media would have us believe. 
  • Sanders is inspiring people to register to vote who have not registered before, and engaging millennials (only 20 percent of whom voted in 2014) in huge numbers.
Beltway insiders do not know how to talk about Sanders; all of the rules they use to frame their conversations don't apply. It really shows just how lazy and formulaic political coverage has become -- how out of touch with real people. I'm reminded of Thomas Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions. According to Kuhn, scientists will brush off data that call into question accepted theories (and they do that because they have a lot invested in those theories -- published work, research grants, tenure). 
Eventually, though, enough information comes in that challenges the established way of looking at things that a crisis point is reached; the inadequacies of the previous way of understanding become impossible to ignore any longer. Then a scientific revolution takes place and a new way of understanding is embraced -- a new paradigm. (The classic example is the topic of Kuhn's book The Copernican Revolution, which chronicles the shift away from believing that the Earth was the center of the universe... Hmmm.) 
You can see that crisis of understanding taking place in American politics, and it applies to those who cover it just as much as it applies to the elected officials they cover. They all seem to be saying, "how can this guy be doing so well? Everything we know about politics tells us he can't." 
Maybe they should start paying attention to what is really going on with Sanders -- and perhaps exercise a few brain cells to come up with a new insight or two. Instead, they try to ignore him, or play the same games they usually do with candidates -- who, truth be told, are so afraid themselves of offending the press that they play right along. 
Sanders, of course, will have none of it, as his Sunday appearance on Meet the Press amply shows. Chuck Todd tried to play the oversimplified, sensationalist hand he’d carefully constructed and Sanders owned him.


This is part of why Sanders appeals; it's not just that he's disrupting the dysfunctional, sleazy, corrupted political game for the people who play it, he's deconstructing political coverage at the same time. It's truly a joy to watch; and it's an edge he has over every other candidate.
The message to those inside the beltway is simple: there's a new paradigm in town. So get with the revolution, already.


  1. Through a live feed, Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vermont, will deliver a message to supporters of his presidential campaign, a news release states.


    Sanders will speak about signing up to volunteer and organize locally for his campaign from 6-7:30 p.m. Wednesday, the release states.

  2. The Prediction Markets are making the Democrats 60 / 40 to win the White House,

    and are making Hillary Clinton 50%.

    Bernie is about 20%, if I remember correctly.

  3. Bush is the only Republican that has a chance. The Rufus Prediction Market puts a race between him, and Hillary, in the 3%, or less, range.

  4. RCP President:

    Bush / Clinton - Clinton +4.6
    Clinton / Walker - Clinton +9

  5. .

    As of now, it appears it will be a while before Pollard gets his parade. According to the parole agreement, Pollard will be restricted from leaving the country for five years.


    1. That doesn’t stop him from addressing both houses of Congress.

    2. He can be very helpful to any number of GOP candidates that want to zionize their credentials with their core constituency, Aipac.

    3. Sorry if you are against Zionism.

      But even Jews have a right to survival.

      Sorry Deuce.

  6. He could appear in front of select congressional committees to give them insight into why Israel needs a significant bump up in their annual Vig gig for US taxpayer supplied goodies.

    1. Maybe if Obama wasn't giving 150 BILLION to Iran to use to genocide Israel, Israel would not require a "bump"?

  7. John Pollard is the poster boy for all the benefits to the US/Israel unbreakable bond to the US.

    1. Pollard is yesterday's news.

      But not to worry, America, under obama, is raising up Cuba, Hamas, Iran and Syria.

      What's not to love?

  8. John Pollard puts the chips on the table and clarifies the FIRST n the Israeli-firsters. Why else would all the Israeli-firsters have petitioned so long and so hard for his release. They own Jonathan Pollard.

    Mazel tov.


    Turkish fighter jets have mounted their heaviest assault on Kurdish militants in northern Iraq since air strikes began last week, hours after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said a peace process had become impossible.

    The strikes hit six Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets including shelters, depots and caves, the prime minister’s office said. A senior official told Reuters it was the biggest assault since the campaign started. .

    Turkey says Kurdish peace process impossible as Nato meets
    Read more
    Turkey began bombing PKK camps in northern Iraq last Friday in what government officials have said was a response to a series of killings of police officers and soldiers blamed on the Kurdish militant group.

    On Tuesday, fighter jets also bombed PKK targets in the south-eastern Turkish province of Şırnak, bordering Iraq, after an attack on a group of gendarmes.

    Erdoğan said the peace process, launched in 2012 in order to put an end to the bloody conflict between the Turkish government and the PKK that has killed over 40,000 since it began in 1984, had become impossible to maintain. The PKK has said the air strikes, launched virtually in parallel with Turkish strikes against Islamic State fighters in Syria, render the peace process meaningless. But it has stopped short of formally pulling out.

    In a special Nato meeting called by Ankara on Tuesday, the US and other Nato members expressed solidarity with Turkey and underlined the country’s right to self-defence, but also urged a proportionate response to the security threat and called on the government not to abandon the fragile peace process, now hanging by a thread.

    The Turkish government said the operations would continue until the threat posed by the PKK was neutralised.


    FYI - My planned Turkey visit has been cancelled, by me.

    1. Probably a good decision. :)

    2. Deuce, go to Turkey, you will love it, they have TONS of "death to Israel" posters..

  10. International agreements always involve trade-offs, especially when those agreements are with hostile and expansionist adversaries. The Iran nuclear deal is no exception. A lot of people who support the deal are naturally glossing over those trade-offs.

    But deal opponents are increasingly focusing not so much on those trade-offs but on the very idea of a nuclear deal itself: Any remotely viable deal, in their telling, is unacceptable. This seems odd, given their repeatedly stated position that they share deal-supporters' aim of limiting Iran's nuclear development. Shouldn't they be pushing for a better deal, rather than no deal? Why the repeated reassurances that having no deal at would be fine?

    This all starts to make more sense when you look a little more closely. Iran hawks are making their case in a way that exposes a very telling contradiction in their arguments, one that is so brazen and transparent it is almost hard to believe. If you look at what they've said in the aggregate, an odd position emerges: Delaying Iran's nuclear program for 10 years via diplomacy is bad, whereas delaying it for two years via war is good. What does that tell you?

    1. Iran hawks have had an odd journey on the nuclear issue

      For years, Iran hawks have been warning the world that Iran was getting closer to a nuclear bomb. And while their timelines often overstated how close Iran had gotten — Iran always seemed to be "18 months" away — they were correct that Iran's nuclear program was growing more or less unchecked.

      Iran got to the point, in 2013, where its "breakout time" — the time it would take the Iranians to build enough nuclear fuel for a single nuclear bomb, if they rushed to complete it — reached only three months. Ehud Barak, then the Israeli defense minister, warned that if Iran developed enough nuclear fuel to reduce its breakout time to one month, it would be within a "zone of immunity" whereby it would be too late to stop them.

      The hawks warned, with good reason, that if we were to prevent Iran from going nuclear, that timeline would need to be extended. Many advocated for military strikes. Military analysts said that strikes would only stretch Iran's time to a bomb by two years, or at the most four — and at the cost of war.

    2. But a number of hawks said this was a necessary trade-off: The benefits of adding even two years to Iran's breakout time were worth the costs. It is just that important to delay Iran's time to a nuclear bomb.

      So you would think that Iran hawks would have been overjoyed to learn, earlier this month, that the United States and world powers had struck a deal with Iran to severely limit and monitor its nuclear program for 25 years. Hawks had been willing to go to war for a delay of 24 months. Now they would get a quarter century — and without firing a single shot.

      But that is not what has happened. Rather, hawks are furious. Why are they furious? Because, they say, the nuclear deal only extends Iran's time to a bomb by a measly 10 years! (Different provisions last for different periods; the shortest 10 years, others up to 25.) Here, for example, is Leon Wieseltier:

      It is only a deferral and a delay. Every pathway is not cut off, not at all. The accord provides for a respite of 15 years, but 15 years is just a young person’s idea of a long time.

    3. Here is Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer:

      The second problem with this deal is that the restrictions being placed on Iran’s nuclear program are only temporary, with the most important restrictions expiring in 10 years.

      Elliott Abrams: "After ten years, the nuclear limits start falling away."

      And so on. To sum up, the hawk's position on Iran is as follows:

      1Delaying Iran's time to a nuclear bomb is of paramount importance.
      2Delaying it by two years, with a war, would be great.
      3Delaying it by 10 years or more, with a diplomatic agreement, is a disaster.

      This is the umpteenth sign of what Iran hawks really want

      This is all pretty inconsistent, but it's inconsistent in a very telling way. A small delay to Iran's nuclear program via war is great; a large delay via diplomacy is bad. It certainly gives the appearance that hawks' actual reason for hating the Iran deal is not that it insufficiently forestalls a nuclear program, but rather that it forestalls war.

      Robert Farley, a professor at the University of Kentucky, puts this very well:

      These groups have shifted, almost effortlessly, from whining about Iran achieving nuclear capability in "18 months," to whining about Iran achieving nuclear capability after the sunset of the current inspection provisions in ten years. This isn’t even an accurate characterization of the deal, but that’s beside the point; the threat of a nuclear Iran has never amounted to more than a side-show for the hawks.

      What the hawks want is indefinite militarized confrontation between the United States and Iran. From the perspective of Israel and Saudi Arabia, this is hardly irrational. Iran supports terrorist groups and other non-state actors that like to mess with the Saudis and the Israelis, and both the Saudis and Israelis would like to have the military capabilities of the United States at their disposal. Nor is it irrational for the Saudis and Israelis to believe that the US will come through with this kind of support; the entire GOP Presidential field (with the possible, partial exception of Rand Paul) seems committed to making it happen.


    4. ... And for someone who really wants a semi-permanent guarantee that the United States will threaten to bomb Iran, only nukes work, even if nukes aren’t the central concern. As Fred Kaplan has noted, the really big problem for Israeli, Saudi, and US hawks is that the deal might work, that Tehran might take nukes off the table, and the Iran might reintegrate itself back into the community of nations.

      Farley's theory here squares with my own conversations with conservative-leaning or even centrist Middle East security experts, who worry that the Iran nuclear deal is a first step toward thawing US-Iran ties, which will make it easier for Iran to cause trouble in the region. That is indeed a valid, salient concern: Read more here and here about why this matters.

      For a number of hawks, the only really viable solution to this problem is to permanently militarize US-Iran relations, to have the threat of war constantly on the table, and maybe even to use it. Fear of an Iranian nuclear program is the best way to keep relations tense and, if necessary, trigger war. But if it looks like Iran is complying with the deal, not only will hawks have lost one of the easiest mechanisms for war, but they will see US-Iran relations become significantly less militarized.

      This is how you can have a lot of hawks making the seemingly nonsensical argument that the most important issue is to elongate Iran's time to a bomb, but also that elongating by it 10 or 15 or 25 years is somehow bad.

  11. This past year, more than 100 of the 120 Knesset members signed a letter to President Obama asking for Pollard to be released a year before the end of his sentence.

    On Sunday morning, Israel’s three leading newspapers all ran front-page articles on Pollard’s possible release, with headlines reflecting Israeli sentiment, such as “On His Way Home,” “Crossing Fingers” and “Pollard: Because It’s About Time.”

    Columnist Ronen Bergman in the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth wrote that it was hard to see the timing of Pollard’s release “as a mere coincidence.” He called Pollard “a consolation prize” for the Iran deal.

    Bergman and other Israeli political commentators noted that U.S. and Israeli diplomats discussed releasing Pollard as a way to bring Israel back to the negotiating table after talks with the Palestinians collapsed this past year.

    What will happen to Pollard if he is released in November is another matter of concern to the Israelis, who want Pollard to come to Israel and not be required to remain under supervision in the United States.

    “We are not responding to reports over the weekend in the media; we are waiting for an official announcement before we comment,” said Effi Lahav, head of the Free Pollard Campaign.

  12. Pollard is a national hero in Israel. Pollard claimed he spied out of love for Israel.

    When US officials visit, “Free Pollard” signs line their motorcade route. They’re pressed to get him released.

    Surely the US Congress, spearheaded by The GOP Likuds Force can increase their cred with AIPAC by awarding him some congressional award.

  13. One of Time Warner’s top executives moonlights as a speechwriter for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, warning the west about Iran.

    Gary Ginsberg, executive vice president of corporate marketing and communications for Time Warner, advised Netanyahu to pull out the famous bomb cartoon at the United Nations General Assembly in 2012 and helped craft such lines as the claim that Iran threatens Israel with “nuclear extinction.”

    “When he’s in the United States, he’s a friend of mine, I help him,” Ginsberg told me today. Time Warner is “fully aware” of his unpaid work for the Israeli prime minister, he said, but the company has not disclosed his work to the public.

    “No. Why would they do that?” he said. “I do this in my free time as a friend of the prime minister’s. I in no way get paid… This is my free time. This is not as a corporate executive, this is in my personal capacity.”

    Ginsberg’s contributions to four Netanyahu’s speeches are disclosed by former Israeli ambassador Michael Oren in his new book Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide.

    - See more at:

  14. The Israel lobby isn’t just AIPAC. It is a loose coalition of pro-Israel activists, including at the highest levels of the US Media .

    1. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he looked forward to the release of the 60-year-old Pollard.

      “Throughout his time in prison­, I consistently raised the issue of his release in my meetings and conversations with the leadership of successive US administrations,” he said.

  15. For one it is the best of times. For the other, it is the same as it ever was. The difference, a red state without Medicaid Expansion and a blue state with Medicaid Expansion.

    I lived in Chicago for a couple years and remember the battles to fund Cook County Hospital. I've lived in the Atlanta area and north Georgia much of my life and am very familiar with Grady Hospital and its vital role in providing care for the indigent in the metro area and trauma care for people from everywhere in the state. Life flights are common from rural areas.

    A news article in the Global Post did an excellent review on the fate of both hospitals, which fates have diverged greatly since the passage of the ACA and the adoption of Medicaid expansion in Illinois and the stubborn refusal of Georgia's governor and legislature to expand Medicaid.

    The Global Post Article details how Cook County Hospital has shown a profit for the first time in the 180 years of existence. Imagine that, in less than two years since Obamacare became more or less fully effective, Medicaid expansion allowed a major public hospital to show its first profit. Uninsured patients at Cook County decreased by nearly two-thirds. Cook County went from a $67.6 million loss in fiscal year 2013 to a profit in fiscal year 2014.

    And how did Grady Hospital in Atlanta fare without Medicaid Expansion? An increase of almost $130 million of bad debt as there was no change in the uncompensated care at the hospital. The taxpayers of Atlanta and Georgia pick up the tab for this uncompensated care. The hospitals and nursing home administrators in Georgia begged the Governor to expand Medicaid to save them. In addition to the continuing shortfalls at Grady, smaller rural hospitals have closed down:

    Others have dropped care units that they can no longer afford to keep open:

    So long as Medicaid Expansion is denied, Georgia patients . . . . .

    A Tale of Two Hospitals (with links)