Judging By His Enemies

As Steve M. has noticed, suddenly the Right-Wing Noise Machine is very much taking Bernie Sanders as a real threat.

Maybe I just haven’t noticed it, but this seems new to me. It’s as if Sanders topped Hillary Clinton in both Iowa and New Hampshire in one poll and the word went out on the right to scramble the jets and start trying to take Sanders down.

I’d have thought the wingers wouldn’t worry about a wild-haired old lefty, but they know it’s a crazy year and a significant portion of the public might go for a candidate who’d have been deemed unacceptable even a year or two ago. They also know that even in defeat Sanders might have a real influence on the way we talk about taxes and government programs and economic inequality.

Right-wingers don’t let grass grow under their feet. I guess they’re going to try to address this threat now.

The Wall Street Journal, FOX News, even the Daily Mail are all going after Sanders this week, doing everything from saying his policies would cost $18 trillion dollars over ten years to Krauthammer attacking him as “insignificant” (why attack him then, Chuck?)  Add too the meatheads at Power Line, who literally are reduced to repeatedly screaming “Bullshit” at lines of Sanders’s speech at Liberty University.

Suddenly attacking Bernie is really, really popular in the epistemic closure bubble. Yeah, I’m still not sold on the Sanders 2016 train (or Hillary for that matter) yet, but if Bernie’s making enemies like these pay attention to what he’s doing, he’s probably on the right track in some fashion.

Turn The Machines Back On

The Kroog looks at the state of global markets after Friday’s bad day (and the impending bad day today) and notes there’s something of a global commodities glut.

What’s causing this global glut? Probably a mix of factors. Population growth is slowing worldwide, and for all the hype about the latest technology, it doesn’t seem to be creating either surging productivity or a lot of demand for business investment. The ideology of austerity, which has led to unprecedented weakness in government spending, has added to the problem. And low inflation around the world, which means low interest rates even when economies are booming, has reduced the room to cut rates when economies slump.

Whatever the precise mix of causes, what’s important now is that policy makers take seriously the possibility, I’d say probability, that excess savings and persistent global weakness is the new normal.

My sense is that there’s a deep-seated unwillingness, even among sophisticated officials, to accept this reality. Partly this is about special interests: Wall Street doesn’t want to hear that an unstable world requires strong financial regulation, and politicians who want to kill the welfare state don’t want to hear that government spending and debt aren’t problems in the current environment.

Once again, with interest rates at rock bottom, Republicans refuse to invest in government spending so they can privatize and profitize as much infrastructure as possible (which is the real problem), and they’re shocked that years of Austerity Bombing hasn’t created utopia yet (ask Kansas how that’s going.)

Meanwhile, Trump’s solution is “I’m really rich and I want to go after hedge fund guys“, which makes about as much sense as the rest of his campaign, but I guess that’s the point.

Life After Death

Some good news today on the capital punishment front, as Connecticut’s state Supreme Court has ruled the state’s use of the death penalty to be unconstitutional.

After a sweeping two-year review, the state Supreme Court outlawed capital punishment in Connecticut Thursday, saying the state’s death penalty no longer comports with evolved societal values and serves no valid purpose as punishment.

The 4-3 decision would remove 11 convicts from Connecticut’s death row and overturn the latest iteration of the state’s death penalty, a political compromise effective April 2012 that halted executions going forward but allowed death sentences to be imposed on the inmates already sentenced.

The majority decision, written by Justice Richard N. Palmer, found flaws in the death penalty law, which banned “prospective” death sentences, those imposed after the effective date of the law. But the majority wrote that it chose to analyze capital punishment and impose abolition from a broad perspective.

After analysis of the law and “in light of the governing constitutional principles and Connecticut’s unique historical and legal landscape, we are persuaded that, following its prospective abolition, this state’s death penalty no longer comports with contemporary standards of decency and no longer serves any legitimate penological purpose,” Palmer wrote.

“”For these reasons, execution of those offenders who committed capital felonies prior to April 25, 2012, would violate the state constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.”

This is excellent news, given all the numerous examples of execution of innocent people, and people exonerated from death row based on DNA and other evidence. There’s just no way the death penalty can be justified anymore, and I’m glad that Connecticut realizes this.

Now if only we could get five SCOTUS votes on a ruling like this…

They were careless people, Tom and Daisy

This will never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever happen, but it’s a good thought (via):

I have a fantasy. It’s that every politician and pundit who goes on TV to discuss the Iran deal is asked this question first: “Did you support the Iraq War, and how has that experience informed your position?”

Alaska: Home to oil, polar bears and Medicaid Expansion

Via Think Progress:

Alaska will become the 30th state to accept Obamacare’s optional Medicaid expansion, after Gov. Bill Walker (I) announced on Thursday that he will use his executive power to bypass the GOP-controlled legislature and implement the policy on his own.

Walker — a former Republican who has since become an Independent — has been advocating for Medicaid expansion for over a year. Implementing this particular Obamacare provision, which was ruled optional by the Supreme Court in 2012, would extend health coverage to an estimated 40,000 low-income residents in his state.

Decent chance there will be a court fight on the expansion, but establishing facts on the ground that this is what a civilized state does (especially when someone else is paying either the entire bill or the vast majority of it), and more importantly getting the hospital groups on board and used to the revenue will start entrenching the program.

And here is the Republican response to Medicaid expansion in Alaska:

“I think in this time, in these lean years, it’s time for communities to pull together, it’s time for churches to step up, it’s time to help give a hand to each other as individuals. We can be kind as people. It’s not government’s place to be kind,” State Rep. Shelley Hughes (R) said in reference to uninsured Alaskans when the House voted down Medicaid expansion in March.

Counting on churches, private charity, bake sales and magical unicorns flying out of a yeti’s ass has been the working poor health insurance plan for years. That has not worked, but let’s try it again and clap louder. Asshole.