Patterico's Pontifications


The Frighteningly Ignorant Candidate (part 2)

Filed under: General — JVW @ 9:08 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Yesterday we covered the unceasing intellectual shallowness of Senator Bernard Sanders (Dem Socialist-VT) with respect to economics, finance, and trade as evidenced by his unbelievably obtuse interview with the editorial board of the New York Daily News, a newspaper whose editorial posture is ideologically in line with Sanders’ simplistic beliefs. But the interview went way beyond pocketbook issues and delved into several interesting areas such as foreign policy, social policy, and over political trends.

Let’s take the last of those three first. Sanders, whose largely respectful media coverage is inversely proportionate to his ability to lay out a coherent and sensible agenda, is asked how he can deliver upon all of his grandiose promises for free goodies and government beneficence with a Congress that is so starkly divided in a partisan manner and, ever since the Democrats’ thrashing in the 2010 midterm elections, adverse to sweeping changes. In his reply, Sanders treats us to his version of the uniqueness of his campaign:

[. . .] We are talking about a political revolution and we are already delivering on a political revolution well before Election Day. What do I mean by that? What I mean is this country, and what I say in every speech that I give, no President, not me or anybody else, can do it alone. We need to revitalize American democracy, get people engaged in the political process, in a way that we have not seen for a very, very, very long time. [. . .]

So what we are seeing already, in this campaign, is, we have received over six million individual campaign contributions. That’s a political revolution, you know that? That’s unprecedented, I believe, at this point in the campaign, in history. [. . . ]

I never believed that we could have voter turnouts higher than Obama did in 2008. Because I thought his 2008 campaign was one of the great campaigns in American history. And, yet, in at least five states, the voter turnout in this campaign so far has been higher. So we are striking a nerve. [. . .] (emphasis added)

Six million individual donations sounds like an awful lot, and for all I know the number may be accurate. But Open Secrets pegs the number of actual tracked donors to the Sanders campaign to a more pedestrian 120,000, which isn’t really all that different from Hillary! Clinton’s 95,000 tracked donors or even Ted Cruz’s 65,000 tracked donors, and is nowhere near the 285,000 tracked donors that Barack Obama had in his 2008 campaign (I will stipulate that Obama’s number are for the entire 2008 cycle while Sanders’ numbers are through today). The New York Times describes the Sanders fundraising operation as follows: “Mr. Sanders has depended almost exclusively on millions of grass-roots supporters making repeated small contributions. Such supporters can give again and again without hitting federal contribution limits. According to his campaign, more than two million supporters have made more than six million contributions.” Given that Open Secrets only tracks donors who give at least $200 in an election cycle, we are led to believe that Sanders has some 1,880,000 donors who have thus far given under the threshold amount. It’s certainly possible, I suppose, but I would far be less skeptical if these numbers were verified independently of the Sanders campaign.

And let’s dig into this implication of Sanders’ that voter turnouts this year are comparable to those of Obama in 2008. The Pew Research Center has looked at the numbers and finds that thus far the Democrat turnout in this year primary elections is way short of what Obama’s candidacy inspired eight years ago. While it may be true that this year has seen a larger turnout than 2012 (when Obama ran unopposed), or 2004 (when the Democrats fielded a uniquely uninspiring slate of candidates), or 2000 (when Al Gore sewed up the major endorsements early and crushed Bill Bradley), or 1996 (when Bill Clinton ran unopposed), it is equally true that turnout this year is significantly below that of 1992, 1988, 1984, and 1980, when the party had competitive races similar to what has happened this year. For Sanders to pretend that his small band of dorm-room Marxists represents some future groundswell of democratic socialism is the sort of grandiosity usually associated with South American caudillos or Barack Obama.

Guns are an area in which Representative and Senator Bernard Sanders has been under withering attack from the Clinton machine. Despite having represented Vermont, a state with pretty high levels of gun ownership, Sanders has mostly compiled a relatively low rating from the NRA throughout his career in the House and Senate. That didn’t stop the gun control zealots from the Daily News from circling in for the kill:

Daily News: There’s a case currently waiting to be ruled on in Connecticut. The victims of the Sandy Hook massacre are looking to have the right to sue for damages the manufacturers of the weapons. Do you think that that is something that should be expanded?

Sanders: Do I think the victims of a crime with a gun should be able to sue the manufacturer, is that your question?

Daily News: Correct.

Sanders: No, I don’t.

Daily News: Let me ask you. I know we’re short on time. Two quick questions. Your website talks about…

Sanders: No, let me just…I’m sorry. In the same sense that if you’re a gun dealer and you sell me a gun and I go out and I kill him [gestures to someone in room]…. Do I think that that gun dealer should be sued for selling me a legal product that he misused? [Shakes head no.] But I do believe that gun manufacturers and gun dealers should be able to be sued when they should know that guns are going into the hands of wrong people. So if somebody walks in and says, “I’d like 10,000 rounds of ammunition,” you know, well, you might be suspicious about that. So I think there are grounds for those suits, but not if you sell me a legal product. [. . . ]

From there, Sanders makes a point of expressing his bona fides on being against “assault weapons” like the AR-15, perhaps understanding that his principled stance against the lawsuit by Sandy Hook victims will be relentlessly demagogued by Her Clintonic Majesty, who indeed wasted no time in cynically surfing the gun control wave on the bodies of the dead Sandy Hook children. But Sanders sensibly points out that these types of lawsuits against gun manufacturers are nothing more than a back-door way to enact gun control legislation that otherwise cannot possibly pass through Congress, using the tort system to harass gun manufactures into removing their product from the market.

Sanders’ worldview is naturally imbued with the trendy anti-cop sentiments that afflict his party. For the life of him, he just can’t understand why police officers need to shoot so many people, especially people of a certain skin tone:

Daily News: Two quick questions. One is your website talks about physical violence perpetrated by the state against African Americans.

Sanders: Yeah.

Daily News: It also says, “We need new rules on the allowable use of force.” Such as?

Sanders: Such as do what many other countries are doing. Look, you’ve got somebody who’s clearly mentally ill outside, right? Ranting and raving, and maybe they have a knife in their hands. Are there ways to deal with that issue other than shooting that person? We have seen instances in my own state, all over this country, where the way that was dealt with by killing that person. There are ways to deal with that. So I think what I am suggesting here very forcefully is that we have got to train police offices to use lethal force as a last resort, not a first resort.

That’s just so precious. I hope that next time some 250 pound raving lunatic is hopped up on meth and waving a knife around in the middle of a busy city street some kind progressive government sends in a bunch of social workers with masters degrees from Columbia and Berkeley to disarm him.

And, to wrap-up the annals of inanity, Sanders shows himself to be aggressively stupid about foreign affairs. Consider this exchange regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:

Daily News: And I’m going to look at 2014, which was the latest conflict. What should Israel have done instead?

Sanders: You’re asking me now to make not only decisions for the Israeli government but for the Israeli military, and I don’t quite think I’m qualified to make decisions. But I think it is fair to say that the level of attacks against civilian areas…and I do know that the Palestinians, some of them, were using civilian areas to launch missiles. Makes it very difficult. But I think most international observers would say that the attacks against Gaza were indiscriminate and that a lot of innocent people were killed who should not have been killed. Look, we are living, for better or worse, in a world of high technology, whether it’s drones out there that could, you know, take your nose off, and Israel has that technology. And I think there is a general belief that, with that technology, they could have been more discriminate in terms of taking out weapons that were threatening them.

Daily News: Do you support the Palestinian leadership’s attempt to use the International Criminal Court to litigate some of these issues to establish that, in their view, Israel had committed essentially war crimes?

Sanders: No.

Daily News: Why not?

Sanders: Why not?

Daily News: Why not, why it…

Sanders: Look, why don’t I support a million things in the world? I’m just telling you that I happen to believe…anybody help me out here, because I don’t remember the figures, but my recollection is over 10,000 innocent people were killed in Gaza. Does that sound right?

Daily News: I think it’s probably high, but we can look at that.

Sanders: I don’t have it in my number…but I think it’s over 10,000. My understanding is that a whole lot of apartment houses were leveled. Hospitals, I think, were bombed. So yeah, I do believe and I don’t think I’m alone in believing that Israel’s force was more indiscriminate than it should have been.

Reports of the number of people killed in Gaza during the 2014 incursion range from 1500 (the IDF’s number) to 2300 (the Gaza Health Ministry’s number), with estimates of the proportion of civilians among those body counts ranging from 1 in 3 (Israel) to 2 in 3 (Palestinian Authority). Sanders overshot the number of dead by five-fold, believing that more people were killed in fighting in Gaza than were killed in the World Trade Center attacks in 2001 or in the ongoing crisis in the Ukraine. For someone whose alleged intellectual acumen seems to be based upon his ability to recall facts and figures, missing this key statistic by a factor of five is pretty egregious, and suggests to me that he is captive to whatever leftwing criticism of Israel is currently in fashion, notwithstanding his attempts to identify as a Jew and a supporter of Israel’s right to exist. Maybe Sanders can send the same Columbia and Berkeley trained social workers to the Gaza Strip to disarm the Palestinians after they are done fixing Urban America.

I’ll spare everyone the sad details regarding the moment when Sanders tries to convince the editorial board that he’s an aw-shucks populist who rides the NYC Subway when he finds himself in town. The quick story is that it turns out Sanders still thinks you purchase a subway token to pass through the turnstiles, even though the NYC Subway has been using a card system exclusively for over a decade now.

Everybody’s favorite grandfatherly curmudgeonly socialist has been roundly mocked and criticized since the transcript to this interview was posted. The Daily News’s token conservative columnist likened Sanders’ ramblings to those of “your stoner college roommate.” Powerline quotes General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt — who puts the “crony” in crony capitalism — reminding Sanders that GE directly employs close to 1500 people in Vermont, and indirectly helps employ suppliers and subcontractors at dozens of locations through the state, and thus suggests Sanders put a sock in his “GE is a bad corporate citizen” schtick. Over at the Washington Post, liberal Hillary! shill Jonathan Capehart joins us in pondering the depths of Sanders’ ignorance while the editorial board expresses astonishment that Sanders is so clueless about his pet issue. Even at dear old reliable leftwing Mother Jones some callow kid blogger seems pierced in his pink bleeding heart that Sanders isn’t more strident about gun control.

Whether this is the jump the shark moment for Sanders’ attempt to remake the party in his own image or whether this will turn out to just be a bump in the road on his way to the nomination remains to be seen, but I think even those of us who are quietly cheering him on out of loathing for his opponent are now forced to recognize that this guy is an elderly beatnik (he’s too old to qualify as a hippy) crank with a political philosophy that manages to be both incomplete and nonsensical, and who is a continuation and extension of the ruinous idea that there is no problem we face that Big Government cannot effectively address on our behalf. Bernard Sanders is useful inasmuch as he is vexing the shrill, dishonest, and loathsome Hillary Clinton, but we must be sure to keep up the constant ridicule of his loony ideas lest anyone be tempted to take them seriously.


26 Responses to “The Frighteningly Ignorant Candidate (part 2)”

  1. Good post, JVW.

    I Love this description as it perfectly fits today’s Democrats (not t be confused with yesterday’s Democrats, which by all current standards were nearly quaint and provincial):

    with a political philosophy that manages to be both incomplete and nonsensical

    His views on the relationship between citizenry and government is really unbelievable. Self-sufficiency and independence don’t appear to be qualities he admires. He prefers the masses rely upon government because it validates the Leviathan’s worth, justifies its existence, and makes it appear that growth is necessary for Americans to survive:

    In 1994, welfare provided a vital safety net to more than 14 million Americans. Today, it only helps 4.4 million.

    (Perhaps that’s because Americans needing welfare has markedly decreased. Shouldn’t that be considered a feature and not a bug?)

    Dana (0ee61a)

  2. Well, actually, I’d like to see the numbers on Social Security “disability”. That may have replaced welfare.

    nk (dbc370)

  3. (Perhaps that’s because Americans needing welfare has markedly decreased. Shouldn’t that be considered a feature and not a bug?)

    I don’t know who said it first (Goldwater, Reagan, someone else?) but conservatives have always proclaimed that we define compassion by how many people we help get off of the welfare rolls, not how many we help get on.

    JVW (9e3c77)

  4. Oh, okay then:

    ”I don’t believe in charities,” said Mayor Sanders, bringing a shocked silence to a packed hotel banquet room. The Mayor, who is a Socialist, went on to question the ”fundamental concepts on which charities are based” and contended that government, rather than charity organizations, should take over responsibility for social programs.

    His views in the post make perfect sense when you understand how he views the role of government in our lives.

    He sounds young, like someone in their 20’s who is just beginning to start the journey of working out their personal politics and formulating their positions. But it’s like he got stuck at that point.

    I find him fascinating. As in, simply unbelievable… that he is a contender for the WH.

    Dana (0ee61a)

  5. I hope that next time some 250 pound raving lunatic is hopped up on meth and waving a knife around in the middle of a busy city street some kind progressive government sends in a bunch of social workers with masters degrees from Columbia and Berkeley to disarm him.

    Actually, the cops shouldn’t shoot him, that’s just being lazy. Instead a bunch of them should get out their billy clubs and go all Rodney King on his as… hunh? what? did I say something wrong?

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  6. Dana–

    What was the role of charities in the Soviet Union?

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  7. Has anyone ever asked Bernie this?

    “Senator, most people choose a romantic spot for their honeymoon. What possessed you to choose Leonid Brezhnev’s Soviet Union for yours?”

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  8. Kevin M @ 6,


    Dana (0ee61a)

  9. “Let’s take the last of those three first. Sanders, whose largely respectful media coverage is inversely proportionate to his ability to lay out a coherent and sensible agenda, …”

    HEH! I love a well-turned phrase.

    Warning: You wisenheimers, do not correct “proportionate” to “proportional.”

    felipe (56556d)

  10. “The hungrier you get, the tastier the meal.”

    – Bernie Sanders

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  11. I seriously doubt the nominal numbers on welfare programs is lower today.

    Rodney King's Spirit (db6706)

  12. whose largely respectful media coverage

    Example #1,000,000 of why the MSM cannot be trusted or taken seriously.

    A link at the drudgereport going to a story about the traditional print media, particularly broadsheets, not finding things any easier in the world of newspaper websites — in both revenues and readership — brought a slight tear to my eyes (not really).

    As in, simply unbelievable… that he is a contender for the WH.

    Along with horrible Hillary, much less the bilge from the Democrat Party in 2008 and 2012.

    America in the 21st century.

    Mark (0f444a)

  13. “I seriously doubt the nominal numbers on welfare programs is lower today.”

    Rodney King’s Spirit (db6706) — 4/9/2016 @ 8:24 am

    You probably believe that because the welfare bureaucracy never seems to shrink no matter how their caseload goes down. Parkinson noted that the British Naval bureaucracy was still as large as when Great Britain had an empire and an ocean spanning navy.

    Mike Giles (39aa12)

  14. Low welfare rate? Horse manure. 46 million were on food stamps last year.

    SPQR (e53149)

  15. welfare is so trashy especially the wic rice where it says on the package not to rinse it or you lose valuable nutrients

    omg that’s so third whirl

    subsisting on rice dust i can’t even handle this

    happyfeet (831175)

  16. same as the might have been president,

    narciso (732bc0)

  17. Low welfare rate? Horse manure. 46 million were on food stamps last year.

    This is in part due to the administration changing the rules on food stamps. It used to be nigh impossible for a single person or childless couple to get food stamps. Now it is routine.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  18. I like food stamps cause food stamps can make you mine
    I like food stamps
    closing my eyes and feeling fine!
    cause of we has free welfare food!
    nom nom nom

    happyfeet (831175)

  19. Also, the rules on who can get SSDI and SSI have changed. Persons over 50 who claim disability need show only prima facie proof, rather than a full investigation. For those who have adequate Social Security credits, this means getting their full SS benefit plus Medicare as early as age 50. For other it means getting a much smaller SSI check and perhaps MediCaid. In either case it gets them off the unemployment rolls. This money comes out of the SS Trust Fund, which doesn’t help that one bit.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  20. reverend green be glad to see you

    when you haven’t got a prayer

    happyfeet (831175)

  21. the consequences are endless,

    narciso (732bc0)

  22. Kevin, the politicians and bureaucrats who dream up these dodges (getting people off the potential worker roles by allowing them to pretend they’re disabled so that reported “unemployment” drops) consider themselves geniuses, and part of the solution. Just as the Japanese government thinks that another go at QE will solve their problems.

    But in the real world, ordinary Japanese citizens are hoarding cash in anticipation of the crash, forcing Japan to print a record number of 10,000 yen ($92) notes, and the American economy no longer responds to tinkering with official reports of “unemployment”, which are known by almost everyone to be bogus.

    And we spend all our time making fun of each other depending upon whether we support Trump or Cruz.

    The ship has sailed.

    BobStewartatHome (7b7fb2)

  23. like this whole goofy campaign hadn’t jumped the shark like forever ago

    paul ryan’s failmerica can’t even pretend to go through the democratic motions with a shred of dignity anymore

    it’s embarrassing

    happyfeet (831175)

  24. But Open Secrets pegs the number of actual tracked donors to the Sanders campaign to a more pedestrian 120,000,

    I think that could be donors of over $200, whose names have to be reported publicly. Open Secrets wouldn’t have names of donors whose cntributions to a single campaignn totalled less than $200 to that campaign. You can still suspect some double counting.

    Sammy Finkelman (966b43)

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