Once you've been impersonated by an A-list comic who regularly plays golf with Obama, you have finally arrived as a respected mainstream politician. Paul Krugman will even break down and write a whole column about you. OK, so I exaggerate. He actually wrote a column about Denmark, and somehow concluded that Hillary and Bernie are the same person. Or, to be more specific, he glibly turned Hillary's snarky debate remark about Denmark into a "demure" Bernie mind-meld in order to spread the message that Hillbern is better than Republicans. She is not only a progressive, she's a damned born-again socialist to boot!
Krugman boldly goes where no pundit has gone heretofore. He goes to Denmark, and proves that it is not the scary Commie place that the Beltway Thought Collective makes it out to be. It turns out that not only are those dour Danes outrageously fortunate, they rank at the very top of the global life satisfaction heap:
My published comment:Denmark maintains a welfare state — a set of government programs designed to provide economic security — that is beyond the wildest dreams of American liberals. Denmark provides universal health care; college education is free, and students receive a stipend; day care is heavily subsidized. Overall, working-age families receive more than three times as much aid, as a share of G.D.P., as their U.S. counterparts.
The Nordic countries in general rank among the happiest places on earth. Our own version of the happiest place on earth is the Disney theme park. The wages are low, and the high price of admission is way out of the reach of what is still quaintly called the middle class. In that sense, Disney is a true American symbol.
Despite this being a rich country with the highest health care costs on earth, we still lack universal coverage, still rank near the bottom in morbidity and mortality. Inequality is extreme.
Scandinavian happiness is predicated not upon money and consumerism, but upon societal solidarity. Their politicians don’t wage wars, have SuperPACs, or campaign for years on end. That fascism is now gaining a toehold even in Northern Europe speaks to the contamination by Eurozone austerity and the migrant crisis spawned by American wars of aggression.
It's no wonder that deficit hawks don’t want to hear about Scandinavia. But how ironic, their crabbily calling Bernie Sanders a grumpy Quixote as he talks about happy countries. He merely speaks the truth that we, too, could get a good thing going if we’d only tax the richest families and corporations at about the same rates that they were taxed during the Eisenhower years. You might even remember those wonder years, when Walt Disney built his empire, and the middle class reached its zenith, and all you needed to be happy was a steady job and a living wage and a secure retirement.In response to another Times commenter who took umbrage at my unpatriotic dissing of Disney, I wrote:
The price of a one-day Disney pass has been jacked up to $108 per person, while the workers employed there as characters are paid low wages and no-to-low benefits. Rich families can go to the head of the line by paying extra, or by paying down-and-out people to wait in line for them. It is truly all-American, right down to the classism and the jingoism and the buy-buy-buy mentality.
At Tivoli Gardens, Denmark's iconic amusement park, children under 8 are admitted free and adults are charged the equivalent of $15.
My point was that American and European values, and their measurements of happiness and well-being, are worlds apart.But I digress. Upon further reflection, I fear that my toast to Bernie may have been somewhat premature, if not downright misplaced. My Bernie-emblazoned mug of Carlsberg is not only losing its froth, it's going flatter by the minute. It seems I'd missed Bernie's TV appearance yesterday in which he declared himself A-OK with Obama's wars. How can you be a democratic socialist and a war-monger at the same time?
And I personally don't know any struggling families who can afford a day at Disney World.
As always, the good folks over at the World Socialist Website have the bummer of a lowdown. From the transcript of Bernie's interview with ABC-Disney's George Stephanopoulos, in which he dodged and weaved on how, why, when and where he would use unilateral military force:
BS: Well, I’m not going to get into hypotheticals.... I think sensible foreign policy and military policies suggest that it cannot be the United States of America alone which solves all of the world’s military…The WSW's Patrick Martin is scathing in his assessment:
GS: In all circumstances?
BS: Well, of course, you know, I’m not saying, you know, I don’t want to get into hypotheticals. I didn’t say in all circumstances.
While Sanders is happy to denounce George W. Bush's decision to go to war in Iraq as one of the worst decisions ever made in US foreign policy, he made no reference to the devastation created by Barack Obama’s interventions in Libya, Yemen, Syria and Afghanistan.Krugman was wrong about the Bernary mind-meld, but only insofar as it pertains to their economic policies, which are as different as FDR and Clinton. Bernie and Hillary are, unfortunately, of the same mindset as regards US militarism. Why else would he not confront her about her pathological plot to bomb Libya and the subsequent refugee crisis that it engendered? Why else would he ignore the corruption of her family foundation, and her record billions of dollars in arms sales to despotic regimes?
Sanders is in no sense an “antiwar” candidate. He uses demagogic condemnations of “millionaires and billionaires” and the growth of social inequality to appeal to working people and young people who are deeply opposed to American militarism, but only to divert their attention from the growing danger of the imperialist war. His support for the policy of the ruling class abroad exposes his pretense of opposing the policy of this same ruling class within the United States.
Even on the infrequent occasions when he has discussed the disastrous consequences of US policy in the Middle East, it is only from the standpoint of American nationalism, not genuine opposition to imperialist war. Once in a while, Sanders bemoans the casualties suffered by American troops or the waste of resources better used at home, but he has never indicated any sympathy for the people of the countries targeted for destruction by US military interventions.
So, to be a Bernie supporter or not to be? All I can say to you is "to thine own self be true."
Meanwhile, Bernie proclaims himself so pleased with Larry David's impersonation of him that he thinks the comic can substitute for him on the stump.
But if you think Bernie tells it like it is, how about Lewis Black trying to explain Amerikan kapitalisme to a bunch of socialists from Amsterdam? This rant makes Bernie look like a centrist Democrat on Valium:
"Pull out your gold fillings and put them on E-bay. I'm getting the &*$% out of here!"-- Lewis Black.