Tag: Bernie Sanders

Brazile Spills

When it comes to the Russia collusion thing, I find myself thinking two related thoughts:

  • There was definitely an effort by the Russians to at least cause disruption in our election. It’s worth investigating. And anyone who worked with the Russians should be run out of politics.
  • I seriously doubta few facebook memes and a Wikileaks e-mail trove that no one outside of Washington cared about decided this election. Or even had a big impact.
  • I think the attention on Russia’s influence is, to a significant extent, driven by the Democrats’ need to distract from their own incompetence. Indeed, accounts of the election night indicate that Clinton decided quickly to blame the loss on the Russians, rather than her own mismanagement.

That latter point just got a big jolt of support:

The Saturday morning after the convention in July, I called Gary Gensler, the chief financial officer of Hillary’s campaign. He wasted no words. He told me the Democratic Party was broke and $2 million in debt.

“What?” I screamed. “I am an officer of the party and they’ve been telling us everything is fine and they were raising money with no problems.”

That wasn’t true, he said. Officials from Hillary’s campaign had taken a look at the DNC’s books. Obama left the party $24 million in debt—$15 million in bank debt and more than $8 million owed to vendors after the 2012 campaign—and had been paying that off very slowly. Obama’s campaign was not scheduled to pay it off until 2016. Hillary for America (the campaign) and the Hillary Victory Fund (its joint fundraising vehicle with the DNC) had taken care of 80 percent of the remaining debt in 2016, about $10 million, and had placed the party on an allowance.

In return for this bailout, the Clinton campaign basically took over the DNC’s finances and strategy. It’s normal for Presidential campaigns to joint fundraise with the Party to bypass campaign finance limits. And it’s normal for the Presidential nominee to fill the DNC with their own people. But this began in 2015, long before she was officially the nominee. And the Clinton campaign canted the DNC’s strategies to favor Clinton and, instead of sharing money with the state committed, funneled almost all the money the Democratic Party was raising into Clinton’s presidential campaign. In short, the Democratic Party spent over a year serving as nothing more than a vehicle to advance Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, the rest of the country be damned.

You should read the whole thing, which is from Donna Brazile, current interim DNC chair. Brazile, of course, has her own history here: she was fired by CNN for feeding primary debate questions to Clinton. And this crosses me an effort to throw Wasserman-Schulz and Clinton under the bus to conceal her own perfidy. Althouse wonders if campaign finance laws were broken, which is a very good question.

We periodically get these reminders that, as bad as Trump is, Hillary Clinton was no panacea. Right now, her cultish followers are screaming sexism and crying, “Well, the DNC didn’t actually force people to vote for Clinton so the election wasn’t rigged!” But the DNC canted the entire process toward her. And she deprived them of any resources they needed for the kind of national presence that might have sustained her momentum. And then she went out and, despite these advantages, lost to her hand-picked tangerine opponent.

I said at the very beginning of the 2016 election that Hillary Clinton was bad at politics and the Democrats were going to be reminded of this in the hardest way possible. This decision to route all the money to her campaign wasn’t just corrupt and unethical, it was stupid. The Republican Party has as national presence; the Democratic Party does not. And decisions like this are why that is so. Even if Clinton had won, her burning of the party to support her own ambitions would have deprived her of the coattails needed to get a compliant Congress. Instead of Trump rage-tweeting about Congress, we’d have Clinton throwing lamps in the Oval Office. I guess that’d be an improvement, but not much of one.

The Single Payer Con

So yesterday, Bernie Sanders introduced his “Medicare for All” proposal. Single payer has suddenly become chic in Democratic circles with all of the 2020 hopefuls jumping on board. Because, apparently, the lesson they learned from 2016 was that they weren’t socialist enough.

I’m not going to get into the debate over single payer … ah, who am I kidding? I’ve written about it many times. Years ago, I wrote a post detailing why the claims that single payer would be more efficient were nonsense. It’s actually gotten worse since then. Medicare has tried to institute quality controls which have imposed billions in compliance costs on hospitals. Meanwhile, Medicare and Medicaid pay 80 cents and 60 cents on the dollar of what private insurers do. Switching to that would mean a lot of providers leaving the field. Which means fewer services and longer waits. It would also slow the pace of innovation, which I’ve previously identified as my biggest fear with regard to socialized medicine. I worry about the cures and miracle treatments we won’t get because our government controls the purse strings.

It would also put Congress in charge of deciding which medical procedures get covered and which don’t. This would not be based on any scientific evaluation but on politics. We’ve seen this already. Research has repeatedly shown that the guideline used for mammograms — every year or two after age 40 — is outdated. The new recommendation is that women get them every other year after age 50. The main reason is that mammography for low-risk women is more likely to result in unnecessary surgery than finding a cancer that wouldn’t be detected by other means. Congress, however, under intense pressure from women’s groups and mammography providers, overrode that decision. And this is not the first time they’ve done that.

Anyway, I don’t want to get too far into the weeds here because, in those two paragraphs above, I’ve already invested more thought into this than the Democrats have. Suderman

To call it a plan is, in some sense, too generous: Although it envisions a sweeping and generous system that would make government the primary payer for nearly all health care in the United States and virtually wipe out employer health coverage in the space of just a few years, it is not really a plan. Instead, it is a legislative fantasy built on a combination of wild overconfidence in government and an almost comical refusal to grapple with costs or trade-offs.

The likely outcome of such a transition would be massive, sustained chaos across the health care sector. Even if the chaos were somehow manageable, the easy access that Sanders promises would be swiftly undermined by service disruptions and other complications stemming from the changeover. In making his case, Sanders tends to ignore all of this. His plan exists in an imaginary world without economic tradeoffs or consequences.

Nowhere is this more obvious than in its promise of benefits. Sanders frequently argues that his preferred system would merely put the United States in line with other developed nations. On the contrary, it would go far beyond what other countries with single payer systems offer. The Sanders plan would offer a far greater array of benefits than Australia, the Netherlands, or Canada—a country that Sanders often uses as a comparison with the U.S., but where the majority of the population relies on supplementary private insurance to cover the gaps left by the government system. Many international single-payer systems also require some form of copayment from the individual seeking service; the Sanders plan would make all of its benefits available without any individual contribution.

Instead, it would be paid for entirely through tax increases. Which tax increases would those be? On who, and for how much? On these questions, the Sanders plan is silent.

This is the real tell in Sanders’ pitch. Although it is willing to imagine long lists of benefits in great detail, but it has essentially nothing to say about how to pay for them. It is a fantastical sales pitch for a luxury product with no price tag attached.

One can support universal healthcare. I’m somewhat neutral on it. But one has to acknowledge that it’s going to be expensive. You can not insure million of currently uninsured people and save money. We’ve been down this road before. For example, we were told that Obamacare would save money because people wouldn’t need to go the ER as often. But ER visits actually rose under Obamacare, as anyone with two brain cells to rub together could have predicted. When healthcare is cheap, people use more of it. As P.J. O’Rourke famously quipped, if you think healthcare is expensive now, just wait to see how much it costs when it’s free.

The Democratic “plan” doesn’t grapple with this at all. It says nothing about controlling costs or how to pay for all this. It’s just a collection of vague promises. In this sense, it’s way worse than the Trumpcare fiasco which, for all its massive flaws, at least acknowledged the tradeoffs.

To be fair to Sanders, specifically, he actually does have a plan to pay for this. He just couldn’t get any of his fellow Democrats to sign on if it was included. And it’s easy to see why. Here are the details on it. It includes an 11.5% payroll tax, the elimination of tax breaks for insurance, an income tax rate as high as 52%, capital gains taxed at income rates, a massive estate tax, a wealth tax, etc., etc. All told, the wealthiest Americans would be facing marginal tax rates of 82% — just for federal. With state and local taxes, marginal rates could exceed 100%.

Yeah, we once had 97% marginal tax rates. Very few, if any, people ever paid those rates. Bernie is almost certainly massively overestimating the revenue he’ll raise. Even with his rosy assumptions, analysts in 2016 estimated that he was many trillions of dollars short in paying for Medicare for all. In the end, as I’ve said many times, you can only pay for a welfare state with heavy taxes on the middle class. That’s how the European welfare states do it; that’s what we would have to do.

One last thing. The slogan of Bernie’s circus and of the Medicare-for-all movement is that healthcare is a “right”. This is straight garbage. You can not have a right to things. You can not have a right to people’s labor. Real rights — like freedom of speech — are unlimited. When I exercise my right to free speech, that does not preclude you from exercising yours. But if I exercise my right to healthcare, that may take it away from someone else. Doctors can only treat so many patients. There are only so many organs to go around. Yes, our healthcare system grows. But at any one moment, those resources are limited. If there’s only one heart available for transplant, which patient gets it? Who has the “right” to it?

That’s not necessarily an argument against universal healthcare. No one has a “right” to food, but we can make sure people don’t starve because we are a wealthy and generous nation. No one has a “right” to housing, but we can keep people off the streets because we are a wealthy and generous nation. That may sound like hair splitting, but it’s an important hair to split. Because the minute you decide people have a “right” to healthcare, you change the shape of the debate. It suddenly becomes a race to give away as much as possible and an effort to keep the hated evil rich from getting care that’s too good.

So apart from the Democrats having unveiled a comically incomplete plan that makes no hard choices and promises to plunge us into a bureaucratic nightmare and an orgy of spending while destroying a major industry … how did you like the play?

Clinton Wins

So yesterday was our seventeenth or eighteenth Super Tuesday of this electoral season and Clinton won big, taking the prizes of New Jersey and California. This morning, she is estimated to have 2168 pledged delegates. With superdelegates, she is well past the 2383 required to clinch the nomination. Barring both Sanders crushing her in every primary left and a mass revolt by the superdelegates, she will be the nominee.

(An interesting result out of California’s Senate primary: because of the way the Democrats have rigged the system, the November election will be between two Democrats with no Republican nominee. The choice is between the authoritarian Kamela Harris and the authoritarian Loretta Sanchez. The Democrats claim they changed the primary system to prevent candidates from becoming too extreme. Now we see the real reason they did it. If Texas did something like this, there would be howls of outrage and fainting spells.)

I’ll pause for a moment to note that we have the first woman Presidential candidate and likely the first woman President. OK, there, that’s all the time I’m prepared to spend basking in that accomplishment. Clinton, despite Vox’s desperate efforts at revisionist history, is a terrible candidate for President. And no, it’s not because she’s a woman and it’s hard for women to find the right balance to appear authoritative without appearing “bossy” (that is a difficulty women politicians face; it’s also a difficulty women like Margaret Thatcher have transcended for years with more skill and energy than Clinton). She was basically handed the nomination eight years ago and blew it. She was then guaranteed the 2016 nomination and almost blew it against a crackpot socialist Senator. So spare me the butt-kissing.

Speaking of that crackpot Senator … Politico has a piece up about the end game of the Sanders’ campaign. It’s worth reading in a schadenfreude way. Sanders’ staffers have been trying to tell him that the race is basically over. And Sanders refuses to accept that.

There’s no strategist pulling the strings, and no collection of burn-it-all-down aides egging him on. At the heart of the rage against Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party, the campaign aides closest to him say, is Bernie Sanders.
It was the Vermont senator who personally rewrote his campaign manager’s shorter statement after the chaos at the Nevada state party convention and blamed the political establishment for inciting the violence.

He was the one who made the choice to go after Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz after his wife read him a transcript of her blasting him on television.
He chose the knife fight over calling Clinton unqualified, which aides blame for pulling the bottom out of any hopes they had of winning in New York and their last real chance of turning a losing primary run around.

And when Jimmy Kimmel’s producers asked Sanders’ campaign for a question to ask Donald Trump, Sanders himself wrote the one challenging the Republican nominee to a debate.

There are many divisions within the Sanders campaign—between the dead-enders and the work-it-out crowds, between the younger aides who think he got off message while the consultants got rich and obsessed with Beltway-style superdelegate math, and between the more experienced staffers who think the kids got way too high on their sense of the difference between a movement and an actual campaign.

But more than any of them, Sanders is himself filled with resentment, on edge, feeling like he gets no respect — all while holding on in his head to the enticing but remote chance that Clinton may be indicted before the convention.

This comports with my general impression over the last few weeks. I was impressed with Sanders early. But as it has became more and more obvious that he isn’t going to win, he has become increasingly strident and bitter. This isn’t a protest campaign like we’ve seen on the GOP side where someone like Ron Paul or Rick Santorum will stay in well past their expiration date because they feel like the party needs to address an important issue. Clinton has already moved way left to capture Sanders’ support. No, this was increasingly about Sanders himself. It pains me to say it, but … I think the Democrats made the right choice.

So … this is how we may end up with our first woman President. A dishonest, disliked establishment insider elected because her opponents were two septuagenarians with the combined political knowledge of a tootsie roll. That is, if she’s not indicted, which she probably would be if she were anyone other than Hillary Clinton.

So, I guess you can celebrate that. But right now, it crosses me as celebrating your victory in a marathon because you ran it in three days but all the other runners were eaten by bears.

Update:

Why is everyone acting as if this was not expected?

Blazing headline: “WEST VIRGINIA PRIMARY RESULTS

As I expected, Shillary lost. What I didn’t expect was all the hand wrining.

This was West Virginia. A state that has an economy with a heavy reliance on the coal industry. The other Clinton, stealing a page from Obama’s playbook, talked about how she would destroy the coal industry to appease the usual collectivist Gaia worshipers. Why would anyone think that the majority of democrats in that state would vote against their own interests, and cast a vote for Shillary? I certainly don’t know if she is unraveling or not, but I am loving the freak show.

This win was all but a given for the Bern-minator, and while it is a boon for those of us that enjoy the left eating itself up, there is a far juicier story, one of real criminal activity, to investigate.

Yeah, I know, wishful thinking. The DNC mouth pieces will never actually investigate anything unless they can use it to help democrats and hurt everyone else, so we are not going to see any justice here it looks like. Ain’t the fundamentally transformed America Obama promised us great?

The Price of Socialism

Holy cow:

Sen. Bernie Sanders’ tax and spending proposals would provide new levels of health and education benefits for American families, but they’d also blow an $18-trillion hole in federal deficits, piling on so much debt they would damage the economy.

That sobering assessment comes from a joint analysis released Monday by the nonpartisan Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center and the Urban Institute Health Policy Center, well-known Washington think tanks.

The bottom line: Democratic presidential candidate Sanders would raise taxes by more than $15 trillion over 10 years, with most of that paid by upper-income earners. But that wouldn’t be enough to cover the cost of his proposed government-run health care system, along with free undergraduate college, enhanced Social Security, family and medical leave, among other new programs.

As a result, Sanders would add $18 trillion to federal debt over a decade.

The Sanders campaign is trying to wriggle out of this, claiming that their healthcare plan will save lots of money because … because … well, because they want it to. But I am totally unsurprised by this. I have said it in this space a million times: you can’t pay for a social welfare state just by taxing “the rich”. There’s not enough money. Every European welfare state pays for itself with heavy taxes on the middle class — VATs, sales taxes, excise taxes, income taxes. Their tax systems are way less progressive than our because they have to be. In the end, you have to go where the money is.

This is the big problem with Sanders’ promises. You have to raise taxes on everyone to pay for them. And people don’t want higher taxes even if they supposedly come with Awesome Government Benefits. Sanders’ own state rejected socialized medicine because it was too expensive.

I’d say this would be the nail in the coffin of the Sanders campaign except that (1) many of his supporters don’t care about math; (2) I’m sure Clinton will find a way to bungle this incredibly easy and salient talking point.

End Game

Last night came very close to ending the Presidential primaries. Trump won all five primaries by decisive margins, outpacing Cruz and Kasich combined by over 300,000 votes and taking, according to one analysis, 110 of the 118 delegates. Barring a complete collapse in Indiana and California, he is likely not only to have a plurality of delegates but a majority. The hopes of a contested convention would appear dashed.

This was obvious to me a while ago when Paul Ryan took himself out of the running for a contested convention. It would have been political suicide for him to offer himself as a candidate if Trump won. I think that Ryan, being one of the smartest people in politics, saw the writing on the wall and wanted no part of that. I also think this is why Christie and others have been flocking to Trump since this election season has shown that a) endorsements don’t ultimately make a difference in the outcome; b) endorsements do make a difference in cozying up to the nominee. And, the more I think about it, the more I think Cruz and Kasich saw this as well. The last few weeks, it has seemed more like they are running for 2020 than 2016.

So this is it. Trump 2016. Despite a media insistence that it wouldn’t happen, despite an onslaught of opposition, despite constant “gaffes”. I think we can finally retire the notion that media elites know what they’re talking about.

I don’t expect this will go well. Trump might win. His opponent is Hillary, after all. But the possibility of an electoral massacre looms large. Trump is trying to pivot to the center but I don’t see that working for two reasons: Trump can’t keep his damned mouth shut; Trump is already well-known. This isn’t like Romney where he could rebuild his image to a public that hadn’t been paying attention.

There will be a lot of post mortems and I’m sure the media will find a way to blame it on Southerners or something. But make no mistake: Trump won almost everyone in the GOP tent. He won the supposedly more intelligent and urbane East Coast elites by massive margins. The only people who opposed him were midwesterners and Mormons, the latter of whom overwhelmingly rejected him. So I don’t want to hear any more crap about the supposed intellectual deficiencies of people in flyover country or the supposed craziness of Mormons. They were the only ones who kept their wits about them.

Clinton won four of five states, increasing her delegate lead to the point of being insurmountable. I’m sure there will be a lot of post mortems of the Sanders campaign, too. My take? Well, Sanders did way better than anyone expected, mostly because people don’t like Hillary Clinton. But, in the end, Clinton had too many advantages: heavy support among blacks, backing of the party elites, support from unions and special interests, name recognition. Moreover, as the campaign went on, Sanders was exposed as a guy who was long on rhetoric and short on policy detail. His foreign policy credentials didn’t exist. His plan to pay for all his new spending didn’t work. His answers to detailed questions got increasingly evasive. You can only go so far with huge glittering promises of free shit.

So here we are: the contest no one wanted. Clinton v. Trump in the contest to see who the voters dislike more. If the Libertarian Party can’t get a significant part of the vote this year …

Bernie to the Left of Sweden

Reason ran a great article this week, pointing out again that Bernie Sanders idea that we should be more like Sweden ignores the reality of Sweden is like these days:

Bernie Sanders thinks the U.S. should look to Sweden and other Scandinavian countries to “learn what they have accomplished for their working people.” The Vermont senator has said so repeatedly throughout his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, prompting GOP rival Marco Rubio to say, “I think Bernie Sanders is a good candidate for president—of Sweden.”

This reality will not endear my home country to American socialists, but it’s better to be hated for the right reasons than to be loved for the wrong ones, as the saying goes. Being more like modern Sweden actually means deregulation, free trade, a national school voucher system, partially privatized pensions, no property tax, no inheritance tax, and much lower corporate taxes. Sorry to burst your bubble, Bernie.

Sanders ideas of … really, everything … seem not to have moved much from the 1960’s ground in which they were sewed. Nowhere is this more pronounced than on economic policy. He still thinks of the Scandinavian countries as bastions of socialism when all of them have moved in a decidedly laissez faire direction over the last twenty years: smaller government, free trade and economic deregulation. They are still way more socialist than the United States. But all rank as “mostly free” in the Heritage Foundation’s economic freedom, with Denmark having occasionally ranked as more free than the United States. All of them rank ahead of us on Cato’s Human Freedom Index by dint of having more personal freedom and comparable economic freedom.

I think a large part of Bernie’s success so far has been that he’s not Clinton. The party elite and the Clintons themselves went to great efforts to preclude an alternative to Clinton this year (even, some conspiracy theorists think, to the point of encouraging Trump to run). Sanders, however, is not a Democrat and is not controlled by them. So he ran a real campaign and not a token one. The result has been a surge of support because his earnestness is so refreshing by comparison to Clinton’s deviousness.

I also think a large part, however, was the novelty. It’s been a while since an avowed socialist was on the political scene and I think that appealed to a lot of Democrats. However, Bernie’s ideas are as outdated now as they were when Bill Clinton reformed the Democratic Party back in ’92. And polls have shown that support for Bernie’s ideas evaporate when people become aware of how much they will cost (as the Sweden article notes, you can’t fund a welfare state entirely on the backs of the rich).

That’s why I think Clinton will still win this thing. As the hope of spring turns into the realities of summer/fall, people will remember why we don’t elect honest-to-God socialists in this country. And they will turn away from the junk food that is Sanders to the broccoli that is Clinton.

Democratic Debate #425

Here’s the wonderful thing about Democratic Part debates. Any time I even entertain the notion of voting for a Democrat, all I have to do is watch them debate and I am instantly dissuaded. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton debated again last night. I don’t know (or care) who the winner was. I know who the loser was: anything approaching sanity.

Here is a short list of the things the candidates basically agree on:

  • We should address global warming. But in doing so, we should abandon the technologies that have made the most progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions: nuclear power and fracking.
  • Government should spend yet more money making college more expensive. I mean, cheaper, definitely cheaper.
  • We shouldn’t reign in exploding retirements. We should expand them. And we can pay for that with taxes on the rich.
  • We need way more liberals on the Supreme Court.
  • Any SCOTUS opinions liberals like is “established law” and should not be touched. Anything they don’t like, such as Citizens United should be overturned.
  • We need a $15 national minimum wage.
  • Boy, do we need to spend more money. For jobs and stuff.

There is some daylight between the candidates. Clinton is more of an interventionist abroad while Sanders is more isolationist. Clinton is also a bit more hostile to civil liberties. And, to be fair, Clinton has frequently taken the opposite opinion on the minimum wage and fracking. But it was kind of scary listening to these chowderheads last night and imaging what they might do with a Democratic Congress.

On style, Sanders won. But, were I a Democrat, I would probably be voting Clinton. Sanders has the big ideas and high-sounding rhetoric. But Clinton is the one who could actually get things done. If I were a Republican, I’d probably want Sanders since even a Democratic Congress wouldn’t do all the crap he wants.

The more I turn this over, the more I think retaining Congress has to be the priority for the GOP. I’ve basically given up the White House for lost this year. I think Clinton is going to win the nomination and the election, despite her high negatives and ethical problems. I base this partly on intuition. In every election since 1980, I’ve gotten a feeling for who was going to win. It has rarely failed me. The only time I was even uncertain was 2000. I’m now getting that feeling about Clinton. I see her on TV and think, “Jesus, we’re actually going to do this thing, aren’t we?”

But I also base on the GOP, which is either going to nominate Trump or nominate someone else to lead a badly fractured party. I’m hoping it’s Cruz, since he will probably lose but would at least bring enough voters to the polls to hold Congress. But if Trump is the nominee …

This is a bad year. I’ve been watching politics since 1980. I’ve been blogging about it, off and on, for the last 15 years. I’ve never seen anything like this. Even Gore and Obama had their redeeming features. Even Bush and Dole had reasons to vote for them. I look at this field — a socialist, a criminal, a fascist and a twerp — and all I can think is, “please, someone else.”

No, You Can’t Sue

Hillary Clinton, feeling the heat of Bernie Sanders’ surging campaign, has decided to go after him for his support for the limited legal immunity given to gun owners. This attack became particularly sharp after Sanders gave an interview in which he said the families of the Sandy Hook victims should not be able to sue the gun manufacturers for damages, a statement that prompted this hysterical reaction from the New York Daily News:

LGF2440

However, this is one issue where Bernie is absolutely right and Clinton is absolutely wrong.

The liability protections for gun companies were created in the mid-2000s. The reason it was created was because Democrats like Richard Daley and Andrew Cuomo were trying to use the Courts to bypass the legislatures. They were filing massive suits against gun manufacturers to hold them liable for the cost of people getting shot. Such lawsuits have no basis in common law or American legal tradition. You can sue people for making defective products or breaking the law (or lying about their products as the cigarette companies did). But you can’t sue someone who makes a perfectly legal product because you don’t like what people do with it. This would be like suing airplane manufacturers over 9/11. Or suing Apple because someone wrote something libelous on a Mac.

Walter Olson:

PLCAA codified the common-law principles that have long applied in tort claims following shootings: if an otherwise lawful firearm has performed as it was designed and intended to do, its maker and seller are not liable for its misuse. (Exceptions permit liability in some situations where, e.g., a defendant has broken regulations or knowingly sold to a buyer intent on harm.) In other words, Congress acted specifically to preserve the law’s traditional handling of gun liability as against activists’ efforts to develop novel legal doctrine.

A good way of visualizing it was posted by Harley on Facebook earlier this week:

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While the lawsuits were bullshit and were mostly rejected by judges and juries, the hope was that either a) one jury would get stupid and open the door to multi-billion dollar suits; or b) the pressure of being sued by governments with effectively unlimited legal resources would force gun companies to make changes to their guns or sales procedures. In fact, this is exactly what happened in 2000, when Bill Clinton coerced Smith and Wesson into adopting more restrictive sales procedures. That’s what’s really going on here: having failed to get gun control through Congress, the gun grabbers want to use the threat of lawsuits to enact gun control through the back door.

And that’s why Congress was absolutely right to put a stop to it. Because allowing anyone to bypass Congress and legislate through the courts is an invitation to disaster. Once you’ve opened that door, there’s nothing to stop interest groups from using it to do whatever the hell they want. There’s nothing to stop President Cruz from effectively outlawing abortion by allowing thousands of wrongful death suits against abortion providers. There’s nothing to stop President Lieberman from enacting censorship on movies and video games by suing claiming it causes violence. When you’ve embraced the idea that companies can be sued for doing something legal because you don’t like it, the entire rule of law is upended. All that has to happen is for an industry to become unpopular and they can be crushed.

Hillary Clinton is not an idiot. She knows this. Any Democrat with two brain cells to rub together knows this. But the gun grabber hysteria on the Left is too strong right now for them to say, “Uh, no I favor gun control but we can’t upend the rule of law to do it.” This is effectively what Bernie Sander is saying. And for that, he’s being castigated by a gullible press and a desperate Presidential candidate.

The Bernie Pill

The amazing thing about the Bernie Sanders campaign is that his ideas are so … tired. Nothing he has proposed — “free” healthcare, “free” college, “free” daycare — is particularly original or innovative. Sanders admits as much, saying that he wants is to imitate the model of the social democracies of Scandinavia. Of course, that itself is an indication of how outdated his ideas are. Many of those social democracies have moved beyond Sander’s 1970’s ideal of what they really are, privatizing and shrinking government and now enjoying comparable or even superior economic freedom compared to the United States.

Matt Welch has a thorough rundown of just how bad many of his ideas area. A lot of them are things I’ve hit on these pages: how expensive socialized medicine would be, how ineffective “universal pre-K” is, how bad a federal minimum wage of $15 would be. But it also hits a few topics I haven’t gotten around to such as Sanders’ opposition to reforming the VA:

Sanders was lucky the question wasn’t about his actual track record as chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs. As The New York Times reported in February, “a review of his record in the job…shows that in a moment of crisis, his deep-seated faith in the fundamental goodness of government blinded him, at least at first, to a dangerous breakdown in the one corner of it he was supposed to police.” Ouch.

What was Sanders doing in May 2014 instead of holding oversight hearings and sounding the alarm bell over a national disgrace? Complaining to The Nation magazine about “a concerted effort to undermine the V.A.,” led by “the Koch brothers and others,” who “want to radically change the nature of society, and either make major cuts in all of these institutions, or maybe do away with them entirely.”

(The VA, incidentally, was long upheld as the shining model of what single payer healthcare would be like in this country. Well … they weren’t entirely wrong about that. Much of Sanders’ blind support for the VA was precisely because he wanted it to be the example for single payer.)

You should read the whole thing.

So why is Sanders so popular? Is it because America loves his crackpot ideas? No.

First, like Trump, he really isn’t that popular. He’s drawing about half the votes in a Democratic primary, which means about 10% of the vote. If he were the nominee, he’d have to get a lot more independent and conservative votes, which I don’t see materializing unless Trump is the Republican nominee.

Also, like Trump, he’s appealing to economic populism. Sanders supporters hate it when you compare Trump to Sanders (which is one of the reasons I like doing it). But they both harp on a similar message — trade is bad, Washington doesn’t work, you’re being rooked, vote for me. That sort of populism traces through a long and diverse array of politicians from Roosevelt I to George Wallace to Trump/Sanders. It never has worked out.

(Both also prefer a more isolationist foreign policy; another key element of populism).

But I think the main reason, as I’ve said before, is that Sanders isn’t Clinton. Sanders is honest about what he thinks, has stayed positive and his earnestness is almost refreshing contrasted against the calculated fumbling of Clinton. Last week, the Clinton camp said she wouldn’t debate Sanders any more unless he changed his “tone”. Even for Clinton supporters, like the ever-reliable Vox, this was laughable. Sanders’ tone has been very respectful toward Clinton. The only thing she could complain about is that he’s called her out — accurately, as it happens — on such things as her Wall Street ties, her support for the Iraq War and her role in runaway criminalization.

In any case, I don’t expect Sanders to be the nominee. But I do expect that his success will lead to an insistence that his ideas are awesome and that this country is ready for socialism. Don’t be fooled. Single payer healthcare failed to gain support in Sanders own state once it became obvious how much it was going to cost. Even Clinton’s plans are going to require big tax increases that I don’t see the public swallowing.

So let the socialists enjoy their moment. Once the extent and cost of their ideal system becomes clear, support for it will evaporate. Because it’s one thing to promise the moon; anyone can do that. It’s another to actually deliver it.

(PS – Speaking of Vox, Yglesias has another article arguing that the Democrats shouldn’t be too concerned with how to pay for their pipe dreams. Since interest rates are low, he argues, we should be borrowing to pay for “investments”.

Yglesias is usually a reasonable voice but this is one area where he, and many liberals, have lost their minds. Interest rates will not remain low forever. And when they come up, we’ll not only have $19 trillion in debt to roll over, but massive structural deficits for all this new spending. Any increase in spending increase the baseline for future spending. Deficit spending now because interest rates are low is a long walk off a short plank.

Besides, it’s not like the deficit isn’t about to explode anyway.)