Saturday, April 16, 2016

Sentendo l'ustione*

*Feeling the Bern, Italian-style:

Bernie Sanders had a brief (five-minute) meeting with Pope Francis after all. The Pope couldn't attend the economic conference at which Bernie spoke, because he was otherwise busy comforting Syrian refugees on the Isle of Lesbos, and even ended up rescuing a dozen of them.

I couldn't find video of Bernie's formal address in the Vatican, but a full transcript is here.

This is the part that particularly struck me: 
We need a political analysis as well as a moral and anthropological analysis to understand what has happened since 1991. We can say that with unregulated globalization, a world market economy built on speculative finance burst through the legal, political, and moral constraints that had once served to protect the common good. In my country, home of the world’s largest financial markets, globalization was used as a pretext to deregulate the banks, ending decades of legal protections for working people and small businesses. Politicians joined hands with the leading bankers to allow the banks to become “too big to fail.” The result: eight years ago the American economy and much of the world was plunged into the worst economic decline since the 1930s. Working people lost their jobs, their homes and their savings, while the government bailed out the banks.
Sanders is calling for a philosophical and anthropological analysis of greed. He is calling for a scientific inquiry into what makes plutocrats tick. He is going so far beyond the usual political platitudes that turn so many people off during the endless presidential horse-race. What he is calling for is unprecedented in American politics.

And it is a vital necessity. The whole planet is burning and melting. Una senzione di bruciore!

But it's no surprise that our corporate media are concentrating mainly on his meeting with Pope Francis, (would he or wouldn't he?) the cost of his chartered flight to Rome, his entourage, his itinerary, his tax returns.... and last but not least, the massive hand-wringing concern over his abandonment of the campaign trail right in the middle of a fraught primary contest in the wealth inequality capital of the universe: New York City. 

Hillary, meanwhile, was on her own greed trail, heading to California for that George Clooney fundraiser, where a seat at the head table was going for nearly twice what Sanders earns in an entire year. It was even going for about a third more than than one of Hillary's secret quarter-million dollar Goldman Sachs speeches.  Where are the anthropologists to do a study on just that one grotesque pattern of wealth culture alone? Forget Coming of Age in Samoa! We need a passel of Margaret Meads and Ruth Benedicts to settle themselves among the billionaires for some heavy-duty insight into their folkways, customs, status symbols and tribal psychology. How much does it really cost a Hollywood chieftain to score the ambassadorship to the Court of St. James?  What makes these people tick?  Because one thing's for sure: it's their group behavior that's making the rest of the world so damned sick.

(I can't verify this because of all the white noise emanating from the event, but I've heard rumors that the underpaid temporary wait staff added candied Diavolo Sterco to the dessert tray at the Clooney confab.)  


Meredith NYC said...

Karen...what an excellent idea. Where are the anthropologists like Mead and Benedict to enter our exotic political culture as outsiders and objectively record our warped standards—for the sake of future historians!

I happened to see Krugman ‘s blog -- Why I Haven’t Felt the Bern, April 15. Over 700 comments....I glanced over the some of the most rec’d and saw they mostly agreed with Krugman and are stridently anti Sanders. New names. Maybe this is a change? Before, it seemed a great many if not most comments were pro Sanders, and criticized Krugman. Now this was after the debate and many anti Sanders commenters went to PKs blog. (But I didn’t read too far into the comments, yet.)

So Krugman is still digging around in Twitter and Facebook to find Sanders fans being nasty, accuses them of extremism, then uses them in his posts. He pounces on the words ‘corporate whore’ somebody used. Can you imagine him wasting his time with this and then writing it up in his blog?

So this is what a Princeton prof, Times columnist, Nobel economist stoops to now? He's still NEVER analyzed any of Sanders actual proposals.
What about the old phrase “The Kept Press”?
Has the Nobel memorial prize ever been taken back?

Pearl said...

Barack, Hillary and the Libya Crime

Ste-vo said...

Thanks Karen. I found this a rewarding read today. I for one have given up on AmeriKa. All of my comments to the today's digital NYT were snarky, smarmy, and cynical. We will see how many get published. As I read this I was wondering how many of the wait-staff in addition to "il diavolo di sterco" pulled a Tyler Durden prank? And since we are having our FIFTH day in a row of intense sunshine and warming temperatures in Vermont, as I am sure you are as well, I am going take the dog at the lake for run. GOD BLESS AMERIKA! GOD BLESS AMERIKA! GOD BLESS AMERIKA!

Meredith NYC said...

Let’s be objective. The question is .....why hasn’t Sanders released all his tax returns, not just 2015? Why the delay on 2015? Why the excuse that his wife does them and she’s been busy with the campaign? His tone says---why don’t we realize this?
That is Billary type talk.
This is the 1 problem that doesn’t fit with Sanders image. It’s absurd that Jane, or his family, or a devoted volunteer or staff couldn’t take a few minutes to copy the taxes and get them out to media long, long ago. He must be hiding something---no other conclusion. What could it be?

I’m waiting for 2020, for someone to challenge Hillary’s 2nd term.

Jay–Ottawa said...

2020 might be enough time to pump up a real revolution; but if, instead, you're just standing by reading the ticker tape at the Times and waiting for someone special to lead the charge, well, maybe by 3020. By then we'll have lots of volunteers to take us off the hot griddle of climate change, endless wars and uninvited population shifts.

In the meantime, you've got to admire Bernie going to Rome to do his thing on the subject of greed. It's a fitting subject for moralists within the Vatican. Not clear about the value of pursuing its anthropological dimensions, though.

For the ancient Greeks the pivot of the moral order was justice. Greed is simply one of the major violations of justice. See the Ten Commandments of Moses for the rest. Or Plato with his magic Ring of Gyges. The ring made you invisible so that you could get away with anything you wanted to do. Most of the celebrity figures in American politics act as though they are wearing one of those rings all the time. Bernie, not so much. And with his mostly polite revolution he's pointing fingers and making their hypocrisy and injustice embarrassingly apparent.

Hedges has delivered his Monday essay a day early this week. His revolution, as we know, is less polite, has lately been taking place around the White House and has gotten him and many others arrested. A resurrection of Occupy is under way. Its new name: Democracy Spring––more bouncy, less static, don't you think? More people arrested, so far, than since Peak Occupy or the Vietnam protest days. But you've heard nothing about it because the MSM has blacked out news from the streets, which is where Hedges says the revolution must begin. Occupy, Democracy Spring and Hedges are also concerned at bottom about injustice, presently the injustices laid on our backs through the abuse of power.

"The question, as the philosopher Karl Popper pointed out, is not how to get good people to rule. Most people attracted to power, Popper wrote, are at best mediocre and usually venal. The question is how to build movements to stop the powerful from doing sustained damage to the citizenry, the nation and the environment. It is not our job to take power. It is our job to keep power constantly off balance and fearful of overstepping its reach to pillage on behalf of the elites."

Ask not why you fear the elites, ask what you can do to make the elites fear you.

Meredith NYC said...

Does anyone know--- is Bernie Sanders the 1st candidate to raise large sums of campaign money from millions of voters with small donations, instead of from the wealthy sponsors and corporations? Has any other candidate done same in recent times?

If he is the 1st, then other liberals who might be future candidates are watching this event and will make plans to run against Hillar/Billary in 2020.

Before Sanders' example, authentic progressives knew they couldn't get big sponsor money to run a campaign, against the centrist Dems who could. The elites have held the purse strings and power to pick our nominees.

A democratic party person on msnbc today just cited how other countries have free media time for all candidates. About time someone cited this,since it's our biggest campaign expense. So big media doesn't publicize this huge difference.

annenigma said...


Maybe the Sanders do their taxes the old fashioned way like I do, on paper, and theirs is in the file cabinets at home, the home they haven't been to in months. Recall the big stink that was made when Ben Carson flew home to get another set of clean suits and Ted Cruz started the rumor that he dropped out? Taking time out from the campaign trail to do simple things like that are a headache in more ways than one. I suppose Bernie not speaking to AIPEC but taking time off the campaign trail to speak at the Vatican is a big deal too, but I think it shows great judgment!

Since this is the second time you've suggested, or at least wondered, if they have something to hid, so how about taking some wild guesses about what that might be. Do you think they have a secret bank account in Panama? Took no charitable tax deductions in previous years, hence looked uncharitable? Claimed some tax deduction for charitably donating Bernie's underwear, like Bill Clinton did with his? Claimed a deduction for an illegitimate child of Bernie's? As you say, it would be very uncharacteristic of them - there's no long history and pattern of evasion, secrecy, or lies like there is for the Clintons.

Speaking of the Clintons and secrecy and evasion, Bernie just gave a speech and immediately released the transcript, so when is Hillary going to reveal the transcripts of her secret speeches?

Interestingly, it was discovered from recently filed campaign finance reports that among the many groups paying exorbitant 'fees' for Hillary's speeches, was the NY chapter of the American Camp Association. It sounds like such an innocuous group that Hillary even named them to shut Bernie up during one of the debates. Well, as it turns out, the hefty fee paid by that group equaled more than 10% of their entire yearly budget! They had to file with the Charities Bureau at the NY Attorney General's office to explain that it was a one time, non-recurring expense because it was so out of line. Now we find out that the person with this Camp Association who set this up for them was Jay Jacobs, a long time Clinton campaign BUNDLER. How convenient.

So even when Hillary seems like she's revealing something, it's carefully crafted to hide something. Fortunately for the rest of us, it doesn't work when there are bloodhounds like and investigative correspondent Michael Isioff hot on the money trail. Now it looks more like Hillary has been using her speeches as 'pass throughs' to fund her campaign. She's too clever by half. And too corrupt.

Ste-vo said...

Read this article in the actual paper at the pool last Wednesday.

I guess HRC has him beat with the millions the Clinton Foundation raises.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Has the 99% begun to push back? More on Democracy Spring. Over There. Nuit Debout (Up All Night).

And then there's Brazil, where Dilma just got impeached, her conviction thereof yet to come. Complicated, but its many mobs in the streets for months might be seen as another expression of the same fever.

Jamie said...

"Sanders is calling for a philosophical and anthropological analysis of greed."

Very laughable ... I think Sanders' would be more enlightened if he focused on a purely psychological analysis of greed, since it was his psyche that compelled him to vote for the 700 billion F35 fighter ... a lemon, a scam, a waste of money that could have paid for 10 years of free college. Like John McCain, he folded in his opposition to the F35 once Vermont was promised a few goodies.

His psychological self-analysis of greed should also focus on his vote to deregulate swaps in 2000, and his vote to send Vermont nuclear waste to a poor Texas community in 1998.

Unlike Doug Kucinich, a real peace candidate, Sanders also voted for a number of Iraq war supplementals. He needs to start his psychological analysis there ... why did he vote to give Bush 100s of billions of dollars for a war he opposed?

Sanders supports Obama's drone wars ... he needs to self-analyze his man-crush on Obama ... and the war crimes he wants to commit with drones in the future.

Sanders is not ready for a 'a philosophical and anthropological analysis of greed,' he needs to correct his poor judgement and stick to the psychological roots regarding his hypocrisy and bourgeois triangulation.

annenigma said...

In response to the NYT article 'Sanders and Kasich Should Ignore Any Pressure to Quit', here's the comment I submitted. I'm not sure if/when it will get printed.

I disagree and I'm a staunch Bernie supporter.

The NYT is sounding magnanimous as if defending Bernie, but the truth is that the Democrats need Bernie to stay in the race because he's inspiring new voters who are registering as Democrats and who will be hit up for money and votes for the Hillary's general election campaign. They can't afford to lose us to sour grapes if Bernie is pushed out. Besides, Bernie has already promised to endorse Hillary, effectively selling us to her without even naming a price.

By staying in the race, Bernie is lending legitimacy to a charade of democracy. The two major parties are in on it and they're now rubbing our faces in it. Donald Trump is speaking out, but Bernie's still playing along when he should be making a loud racket about the election racket.

Since his campaign is about a political revolution, Bernie should refuse to keep participating in the sham and instead endorse the DemocracySpring movement. The corporate media STILL isn't covering it, but they'd have to if Bernie joined in. He should retire from the Senate to lead it.

The Superdelegates, which even includes some corporate lobbyists, own the system anyway, so let them have it. Let's vote with our feet since they clearly DON'T WANT our votes to count.

There's a movement that needs Bernie far more right now than Hillary does. I hope he keeps his priorities straight.

Make like a bird, Bernie! Fly the coop and be free.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Right. If Bernie stays put, or bows out, he's complicit with the DNC. If he doesn't go Third Party after the NY primary, you can be sure he's sheepdogging for Hillary.

Bernie, running as an independent need not be suicidal, or vengeful (by splitting the vote total to the left of Trump, thus allowing Trump, or whoever becomes the Republican nominee, to win in the general election with a plurality).

Bernie just lost in NY by a hefty margin, 58% - 42%. But that's not the reality in NY. Thousands of NYers who would have voted for him could not unless they were registered Democrats. However, an open primary in NY might have given Bernie the 58% and Hillary 42%.

Those uncounted votes for Bernie are still around, in the wings, and they'll show up at the polls in November. I suspect there's an enormous number of unregistered voters for Bernie. I'm one of them, an absentee voter residing in another country. I bailed out of the Dems in the early 90s, so I could not vote for Bernie today. In the general election, if Bernie is running under another banner, people like me will be able to weigh in. Some anti-Trump Republicans, too.

Look at what happened in Michigan a few weeks ago: Bernie won big, surprising the pollsters as well as Hillary. Why? Because Michigan's primary was o p e n like a general election to all interested voters.

So, Bernie Babie, stamp your feet and run as an independent. The crowds you've drawn lately couldn't make it to the polls today, but they'll be there for you in November. You have nothing to lose, except maybe a dog collar.

annenigma said...

Jay, don't forget all the well known Republicans (financial and neocon types) who have already stated they'll vote for Hillary because there's no one else acceptable to them. The list is long. Glenn Greenwald has noted them.

I doubt Bernie wants to keep being called the new Ralph Nader. The only way he can redeem himself with the Democrats is by helping Hillary win, just as he's pledged to do. Then all will be forgiven. He is, after all, an inside player.

Besides, many states have rules about independent parties and write-ins, written by the Parties to keep challengers out. They Party tentacles are everywhere.

I wish the Democracy Spring movement wasn't called that because it makes it sound like a springtime event only, even if it's not. I'd prefer 'Democracy Rising'.

Karen Garcia said...

Anne and Jay,

You are welcome to republish your comments on the NY primary results beneath my newer post if you would like.