New York Primary’s Dirty Little Secrets Come Out of the Shadows

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: April 18, 2016

According to, 43 percent of Americans identify as politically independent. In New York state, voters who haven’t chosen a party affiliation total more than 2 million – more than 20 percent of all registered voters in New York. Unfortunately for them, they will be shut out of tomorrow’s New York primary where the stakes for the country’s future have never been greater.

New York state is one of only 11 U.S. states that hold a “closed primary,” meaning that unless you are registered as either a Republican or a Democrat, you are precluded from voting in that party’s primary on April 19 in New York. Not only will Independents be barred from voting but those registered as Greens (about 26,000) or part of the Working Families Party (about 48,000) will also be locked out. This hits the Bernie Sanders campaign hard because he has won by large margins in states with open primaries where independents were allowed to vote. According to a national NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll conducted March 3-6, Sanders led Hillary Clinton 59 percent to 35 percent among independents. Sanders has also been endorsed by the Working Families Party which is actively engaged in his New York campaign.

What is particularly outrageous to the millions of Independents that have been barred from participating in closed state primaries this year is that all taxpayers pay for these primaries – and yet, only registered Republicans and Democrats get to cast a vote. That hits people as decidedly un-American and fuels growing anger at a system perceived as rigged for the benefit of the one percent.

But New York state has one other unique trick that is increasingly being viewed as a stealth form of voter suppression. In New York state, if you wanted to change your voter registration affiliation to Democrat in order to vote for Bernie Sanders, the cutoff was October 9 – a stunning six months before the actual primary. That’s the longest cutoff period of any of the 11 states with closed primaries. Most people are not even thinking about a primary election six months ahead of the actual date. The first Democratic debate which would allow people to become inspired about a candidate did not occur until after the cutoff for changing party affiliation in New York state.

The six-month cutoff in New York looks even more bizarre when contrasted against other closed primary states. In Florida, the cutoff to change your party affiliation is just 29 days before the primary. In New Jersey, it’s 55 days before the primary. It’s just a few weeks in other states.

Now allegations of outright voter suppression or voter fraud are coming forward in New York, sounding uncomfortably similar to what occurred in Arizona’s closed primary in March. In the Arizona matter, an online petition to the White House has drawn over 213,000 signatures asking for an investigation of potential voter fraud and suppression. The petition reads:

“Petition to have the Obama Administration investigate the voter fraud and voter suppression on 3/22/2016 in Arizona. Numerous voters who switched from Independent to Democrat could not vote and were turned away or given provisional ballots which in turn were never counted. We the people of the United States of America find this act alarming and would like a complete investigation to uncover the violations that occurred during the Arizona voting on 3/22/2016 and prosecute those responsible to the fullest extent of the law.”

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Two weeks after Bill de Blasio jubilantly marked the start of his campaign for re-election

—with “a boisterous rally in Foley Square to celebrate the passage of key elements of his

affordable housing plan”—New York City’s notionally “liberal” mayor is taking endless flak,
“peppered with uncomfortable questions at news conferences and on national television,
at a time when he hoped to be acting as a liberal standard-bearer for Hillary Clinton ahead
of New York’s presidential primary on Tuesday.”
Thus the NYTimes portrays the mayor’s faux-tragic situation in “Inquiries Upend de Blasio’s
Bid to Reboot for ’17,” yesterday’s front-pager on the clutch of scandals suddenly bedeviling him,
“as four separate investigative agencies pursue inquiries into possible wrongdoing on the part
of his administration.”
That’s very sad, for him; but not for any of the countless pressed New Yorkers who have
watched as he’s maintained Michael Bloomberg’s quasi-totalitarian tradition of enabling the
annihilation of their city—lot by lot, block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood—by the
almighty real estate cartel.
Under Bloomberg, as Jeremiah Moss wrote in Vanishing New York at the end of 2013, “we
lost approximately 6,926 years of New York City history in only a dozen years” (http://—a suicidal process
that our “liberal” mayor has never questioned, and continues to abet, thus making New York
City ever less affordable and (therefore) less diverse (despite his much-hyped plan to solve
that problem), as well as darker, uglier, less green, and way less interesting.  
How many beloved sites have disappeared since his inauguration? We think of F.A.O. Schwarz
Cafe Edison, Roseland Ballroom and Famous Oyster Bar in Midtown; Rizzolli’s Bookstore on
the Upper West Side, and Subway Inn on the Upper East Side; Yaffa Cafe, Bowlmor Lanes and
Kim’s Video & Music in the East Village; Avignone Chemists, Gray’s Papaya and Bonnie Slotnick
Cookbooks in the West Village; Glasslands, 285 Kent, Death by Audio and the Domino sugar factory
in Williamsburg; Pearl Paint in Chinatown; Shakespeare & Co. in NoHo; Milady’s and Hair Box
Barber Shop in SoHo; Galapagos Art Space in DUMBO; and Barnes & Noble’s flagship store in
Flatiron—just to name a few.
Such high-profile closings and/or demolitions have been variously noted by the press, in elegiac
reportage that’s all too common nowadays. Meanwhile, Mayor de Blasio has also been complicit
in the shuttering of countless other businesses less famous, yet even more essential to the
working people of this city—businesses whose vanishing the press does not lament so often, or
at all: supermarkets, grocery stores, bodegas, laundromats, dry cleaners, barber shops, and all
the other necessary places that have been replaced by the exclusive lobbies of more luxury
apartment buildings, and/or more banks, chain drugstores, nail salons and boutique outfits for
the tourists. Nor has our “liberal” mayor made any effort whatsoever to preserve those vital non-
commercial spaces—parks, libraries, public hospitals, playgrounds, community gardens—that
New York’s working people need at least as much as we need shoe repair and hardware stores.
That’s why Mayor de Blasio is so unpopular; although you wouldn’t know it from the press, because
they also serve the Lords of Real Estate. We therefore have to read between the lines to glimpse the
public outrage over his complicity—as in the (proper) scandal over his team’s (evident) collusion
with Allure Group in its plan for “flipping a nonprofit Lower East Side nursing home to a luxury
condo developer” *(to quote the New York Post).
Sparks of that same outrage also glitter through another article in yesterday’s Times—on p. A15,
far removed from that front-pager on the mayor’s predicament: “With Gas Station’s Closing, a Fuel
Desert Expands in Manhattan,” a long piece, vividly illustrated, on the shutting down of the long-bustling
gas station in SoHo, at the corner of Lafayette and East Houston, “to be replaced by a glass-and-steel
luxury office building” (“a seven-story, $200 million project of zigzagging glass designed by the architect
Rick Cook”).
It’s first-rate journalism, nicely catching the complexity of this particular erasure. “For many, the closing
is a nonissue,” writes Sarah Masin Nir, noting that it doesn’t bother “those who rely on the subway
system or believe New York is still too car-oriented.” (It was an outlet for BP.) “Many neighbors are
happy to see the station, which they see as an eyesore, go, including members of Community Board 2,
which approved the new building.”
While duly noting that complacent view (down in the 14th paragraph), Nir subtly devastates it through
careful placement of this closing in its proper context, which she lays out with rare bluntness:
As New York City’s molten property values have made selling off a parcel of land often more profitable 
than operating the grocery, hardware store or gas station sitting on it, the gas station’s passing appears 
to be the latest example of a common trope. And while Amazon and FreshDirect may fill the hole when 
the corner store goes condo, there is no doubt it is getting harder in Manhattan to get many of the
basics that make life livable. 
This latest disappearance, Nir suggests, will only add to New York’s traffic woes and air pollution, as
more cars and trucks drive ever further to converge, in ever longer lines, on ever fewer gas stations
Today there is not a single operating gas station left on the city’s East Side from the southern tip of
the island to 23rd Street, a chunk of Manhattan that includes some of the most highly trafficked
portions of the city, like the truck-packed transverses between the bridges to the east and Holland
Tunnel to the west, and the taxi-filled corridors of Wall Street and NoHo. With the exception of a
small station in the West Village, the West Side is similarly parched.
And while “[Community] Board members did not respond to requests for an interview,” Nir got strong
quotes from some of those who will be hurt, or even ruined, by the closing: people like “Maqsood
Ahmad, 49, a former cabdriver who owns Little Lahore, a restaurant on Crosby Street next to the
gas station that has sold Pakistani cuisine to a mostly cabby clientele for two decades”—a restaurant
Ahmad will have to close, “when the cabs no longer have [that] pit stop.” (His monthly rent, which was
$1,100 twenty years ago, is now $10,000.)
Ahmad “believes gas stations have evaporated unchecked in part because their most loyal clients are
working-class immigrants who often feel voiceless. The city, he said, needs ‘the lower people, middle-
class people and upper-class people.”
“They need all the mix,” he added. “But right now they are running on the path that they need only money.”
Such New Yorkers have no ally in the would-be “liberal standard-bearer for Hillary Clinton”—and they know
it: “The mood at the gas station a few days before its closing was bitter,” Nir concludes,
“I worry about my mayor: Where is his driver going to fill up the gas?” Janusz Krawczynski, 65, said as he 
sat in his cab in the station’s lot, his voice loaded with sarcasm. “Right now, any place he goes, he’s late,” 
he said, referring to the mayor’s well-documented history of tardiness. “The driver is going to have to go to 
fill up the gas in New Jersey, Brooklyn, the Bronx,” he said. “He’ll never go to a meeting!”
Although the press observes it only now and then, that anger at our mayor is evident all over New York
City, where scores of groups have mobilized to save their neighborhoods, libraries, parks, playgrounds,
hospitals and other precious places from the players supporting him (and all too many other useful

Mysterious foam fills the streets of Japanese city in the wake of the country’s second deadly earthquake this week

  • Foamy substance appeared in the centre of the southern city of Fukuoka
  • Videos and images of the foam were posted online by bewildered residents
  • One theory is that second earthquake caused an underground pipe to burst
  • Mystery comes as Japan suffers second quake, bringing death count to 41


A mystery layer of foam covered the streets of a city in Japan in the aftermath of an earthquake which hit the country this week.

The foamy substance appeared in the centre of the southern city of Fukuoka in the early hours of Saturday, following a 7-magnitude quake which shook the Kumamoto region.

A magnitude-6.5 earthquake had struck the same area on Thursday night, but residents of Fukuoka reported little damage in the aftermath of either.

People posted images and a video of the unexplained foam on Twitter, leading many to speculate on its cause, with one theory that a tremor may have caused a underground water pipe to burst.

The mystery comes as Japan woke up to scenes of devastation earlier today after a second huge earthquake struck the nation, bringing the total death count to 41 and rising.

The 7.3 magnitude earthquake destroyed buildings and roads, causing massive mudslides that washed away entire bridges and dumped hundreds of tonnes of soil on buildings and roads.

More than 1,500 people were injured and 31 killed by yesterday’s quake in southern Kyushu island, and authorities say they expect the death toll to rise.

It struck just a day after another 6.4 magnitude shock, killing ten, and the country’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, said it is now a ‘race against time’ to find survivors.

Mr Abe said: ‘Nothing is more important than human life and it’s a race against time. Daytime today is the big test. I want rescue activities to continue with the utmost effort.’

The disaster left 410,000 homes without water and 200,000 with no power, forcing crowds of people to queue for food and water at emergency aid centres set up in the wake of the aftershocks.

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Sanders’ Net Worth: Less Than Half of Clinton’s Honoraria from Goldman Sachs

Bernie Sanders Publishes Tax Returns Showing $205,000 Earnings Following Hillary Clinton’s Challenge

Hillary Clinton was paid $675,000 for just three speeches by banking giant Goldman Sachs

by Matt Broomfield

Bernie Sanders has revealed he earns $205,000 dollars (£145,000) a year, after being challenged by Hillary Clinton to publish his tax returns.

Mr Sanders’ annual income, which is shared with his wife, is less than his multimillionaire rival made for three recent speeches delivered to Goldman Sachs employees.

The banking giant paid Ms Clinton $675,000 (£475,000) for the appearances. She and her husband have an estimated net worth of $110m (£77m), far surpassing the Sanders, who are worth around $300,000 (£210,000).

Income inequality has been a key plank of Mr Sanders’ campaign, leading Ms Clinton to challenge him to publish his earnings. On Thursday, she said: “I’ve released 30 years of tax returns, and I think every candidate, including Senator Sanders and Donald Trump, should do the same.”

The veteran Senator rapidly fired back, saying: “They are very boring tax returns. No big money from speeches, no major investments.Unfortunately, I remain one of the poorer members of the United States Senate.”

Ms Clinton generally commands a minimum of $225,000 per speech, or over four times as much as the $52,000 (£36,000) the average American citizen earns in a year. She once pocketed $315,000 for a 20-minute address to Ebay staff.

Mr Sanders’ income, by way of contrast, is largely derived from his $175,000 Senate salary. His wife, Jane Sanders, makes $5,000 annually as a radioactive waste disposal commisioner, and the couple also receive social security benefits and a small annual pension.

With an estimated wealth of around $3m, the average US Senator is worth 10 times as much as Mr Sanders. While his income puts him in the top 5 per cent of US earners, the Vermont senator is one of the poorest 20 per cent of members of the Senate.

He also has tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt, a rental property in Vermont capital Burlington and a condo in Washington, DC.

Mr Sanders has raised nearly $140m to support his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, without recourse to big business or Super PAC backing. His campaign is almost entirely funded by an estimated three million small donors.

All 10 companies cited by Mr Sanders as “America’s biggest tax dodgers” have donated directly to Ms Clinton’s $220m campaign or the Clinton Family Foundation.

Neither Mr Sanders nor Mr Clinton, however, come close to matching Donald Trump. The tycoon has not published any tax returns, but is believed to be worth somewhere between $3bn and $10bn.

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Hillary Clinton’s campaign team reportedly used a static noise machine on Thursday to block reporters outside of a fundraiser in Denver from hearing her remarks.

That’s according to Stan Bush, a reporter for Denver’s CBS-4, who was stationed outside of the event, which was held outdoors at the home of Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a superdelegate who has endorsed Clinton.

Bush said that the noise interference machine was turned on after a band — later identified as Big Head Todd and the Monsters — finished playing music and before Clinton spoke. The device was placed inside of a fence on the property and aimed in the direction of the press, Bush wrote.

He posted video showing what it sounded like outside of the event before and after the machine was turned on. The device produced a low-intensity throbbing noise, much like a helicopter off in the distance.

After the sound machine was quieted, music can be heard coming from inside the event.

Clinton’s visit to Denver was solely for fundraising purposes. She lost to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders by 20 points in last month’s caucuses. According to The Denver Post, the top donor level for the fundraiser was $27,000. Funds will be dispersed between the Clinton campaign, the Democratic National Committee and state party committees.

The Clinton campaign frequently uses noise in another way to prevent reporters from overhearing the candidate’s remarks. Often, while Clinton is shaking hands with voters at campaign events, staff will crank up music to prevent reporters from recording their conversations.

Democratic U.S. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton attends a workshop meeting at La Casa The Resurrection Project, a immigrant community center during a campaign stop in Chicago Illinois

The Clinton team has also been criticized for using a rope line to prevent reporters from getting too close to the former first lady.

The Clinton campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

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DC Press Corps Spins Itself Silly Over Sanders’ Specifics

By Dean Baker

The Washington press corps has gone into one of its great feeding frenzies over Bernie Sanders’ interview with New York Daily News. Sanders avoided specific answers to many of the questions posed, which the DC gang are convinced shows a lack of the knowledge necessary to be president.

Among the frenzied were theWashington Post‘s Chris CillizzaThe Atlantic‘sDavid Graham and Vanity Fair‘s Tina Nguyen, with CNN‘s Dylan Byers telling about it all. Having read the transcript of the interview, I would say that I certainly would have liked to see more specificity in Sanders’ answers, but I’m an economist. And some of the complaints are just silly.

When asked how he would break up the big banks, Sanders said he would leave that up to the banks. That’s exactly the right answer. The government doesn’t know the most efficient way to break up JP Morgan; JP Morgan does. If the point is to downsize the banks, the way to do it is to give them a size cap and let them figure out the best way to reconfigure themselves to get under it.

The same applies to Sanders not knowing the specific statute for prosecuting banks for their actions in the housing bubble. Knowingly passing off fraudulent mortgages in a mortgage-backed security is fraud. Could the Justice Department prove this case against high-level bank executives? Who knows, but they obviously didn’t try.

And the fact that Sanders didn’t know the specific statute—who cares? How many people know the specific statute for someone who puts a bullet in someone’s head? That’s murder, and if a candidate for office doesn’t know the exact title and specifics of her state murder statute, it hardly seems like a big issue.

There is a very interesting contrast in media coverage of House Speaker Paul Ryan. In Washington policy circles, Ryan is treated as a serious budget wonk. How many reporters have written about the fact this serious budget wonk has repeatedly proposed eliminating most of the federal government? This was not an offhand gaffe that Ryan made when caught in a bad moment; this was in his budgets that he pushed through as chair of the House Budget Committee.

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Juan González Was at Bernie Sanders’ NY Daily News Editorial Board Meeting. What Really Happened?

By Democracy Now

Much of the corporate media has been openly criticizing Bernie Sanders’ performance during an interview with the New York Daily News editorial board. The Washington Post ran an article titled “9 Things Bernie Sanders Should’ve Known About But Didn’t in That Daily News Interview.” Former Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer tweeted: “The Transcript of Sanders’ meeting with the Daily News Ed Board is almost as damning as Trump’s with the WaPo.” We get a different perspective from someone who was actually there: Daily News columnist Juan González.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: So, right now the race comes to New York.


AMY GOODMAN: April 19th. And immediately, there was this New York Daily News meeting. Juan, you were at it. It’s being—the transcript has been released. Hillary Clinton has sent it to her supporters. What did Ryan Grim write in The Huffington Post? “A notion is rapidly crystallizing among the national media that Bernie Sanders majorly bungled an interview with the editorial board of the New York Daily News.” CNN just said, “Several times during the interview, Sanders expressed uncertainty over facts, said he couldn’t give a proper answer to a question because he didn’t have all the relevant information, or simply stated, ‘I don’t know.’” CNN said, “In one exchange, Sanders acknowledged that he wasn’t sure exactly how he intended to break up the big banks, a proposal that has been a centerpiece of his Wall Street reform agenda.” A Washington Post says, “This New York Daily News interview was pretty close to a disaster for Bernie Sanders.”

But not everyone agrees. Juan, you raced out of here on Friday, because you were racing back to the New York Daily News to attend and question Bernie Sanders at this New York Daily News editorial board meeting.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Yeah, well, I certainly didn’t get that impression, tell you the truth. The editorial board is notorious, especially our editorial page editor, Arthur Browne, for his laser-like one question after another, and he bombarded, as several others of us also asked questions. I, overall, thought that Bernie Sanders handled the exchange very well. And I think that there were a few places where he stumbled, and—but I was amazed at his ability to parry the questions that were thrown at him and to, basically, for instance, bluntly say, when he was asked about the Israeli-Palestinian situation, that Israel needed to withdraw from the illegal settlements in Palestinian territory, which I was astounded that he was quite frank and clear on his position, while at the same time saying he would do everything possible as president to negotiate peace and security for Israel in an overall settlement. And I think there—he did stumble a little bit when he was pressed on how he would break up some of the too-big-to-fail banks. He clearly did not have that down pat.

Full Transcript Here: 


PBC News & Comment: Swiftboating of Bernie Sanders Escalates

Podcast by Peter B. Collins

Paul Krugman and Washington Post editorial repeat and amplify phony attacks on Sanders using intentionally twisted Daily News interview quotes…–Krugman plays the role of Clinton surrogate, using campaign talking points and spin to claim that Sanders is “over the edge” in today’s column

–inflammatory headline and pro-bankster editorial in Washington Post built on false analysis of Daily Newsinterview

–latest polls in NY and CA show why Clinton team is worried: HRC’s 60-point lead in California is reduced to 6 points 2 months before last big primary

–in episode first reported by right-wing Weekly Standard, Bill Clinton unravels HRC’s effort to distance herself from his awful record on crime and prisons

–News American blog provides “a short history of the Clintons and racism”

–Hillary Clinton laughs off the email investigation

–but legal scholar Jonathan Turley isn’t laughing, as he comments on the unusual lawyer arrangement for her top aides

–GOP law professor makes case against HRC for mishandling classified information, in USA Today

–Pope Francis issues his encyclical that changes tone, not teachings; he also invited Bernie Sanders to speak at Vatican next week on social and economic justice

–Koch brothers and their rich pals are giving up on GOP presidential race, will focus its millions on buying Senate races

–DEA tells Sen. Elizabeth Warren it is considering reclassification of marijuana

–belying its pledge about hacking “one phone, one time”, FBI continues to fight the same fight in Brooklyn drug case, with a very skeptical judge

–neocon Max Boot exposes Obama’s furtive escalation in Iraq, which Boot supports and PBC doesn’t

–Syria releases American photojournalist after 4 years

-–RT releases report based on CIA officer’s new book, with some details of the US plan for regime change in Syria

Full Podcast Here: 

Paul Krugman Crosses the Line

By Gerald Epstein, Professor of Economics and a founding Co-Director of the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Originally published at Triple Crisis

In his recent New York Times opinion column, “Sanders Over the Edge” (4/8/16), economist Paul Krugman offers his readers a basketful of misinformation on important economic matters about which he should – and probably does – know better. The column contains a large number of snipes and a great deal of innuendo against Bernie Sanders and his supporters, but here I focus on his claims about “Too Big To Fail” (TBTF) banks, their role – non-role, according to Krugman –  in the financial crisis, and Sanders’ understanding of the policy tools available to deal with them. Krugman’s claims about these issues are misleading, almost certainly wrong, and, in my view, call into question the credibility of his New York Times column as a source of economic information and analysis.

Krugman starts here:

“Bernie is becoming a Bernie Bro.” I’ll leave it to others to dissect this one. Moving on:

“Let me illustrate the point … by talking about bank reform.

“The easy slogan here is ‘Break up the big banks.’ It’s obvious why this slogan is appealing from a political point of view: Wall Street supplies an excellent cast of villains. But were big banks really at the heart of the financial crisis, and would breaking them up protect us from future crises? Many analysts concluded years ago that the answers to both questions were no.”

As you can see by following Krugman’s link here, this is not, what Krugman suggests it is: it is not a link to an article quoting multiple analysts presenting strong arguments with evidence that large banks were not responsible for the crisis. It is a link to an opinion piece by Paul Krugman himself. Period.

And, moreover, in this linked piece, Krugman is far more circumspect and uncertain of the answers than if implied in his statement “that many analysts concluded years ago.” So, who are these “many analysts”? On what basis did they reach their conclusions?

Certainly, we can find some analysts who argue (“conclude” is a word that suggests an answer based on a comprehensive analysis of the facts) that the financial crisis was the result of government mismanagement, or was simply a textbook example of a bank run and not due to the actions of large financial institutions per se, or were the result of the decisions of a bunch of sub-prime mortgage providers – like Angelo Mozilo Countrywide Financial that operated more or less independently, and were outside of strict government regulation, that is they were in the “shadows.”

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In today’s NYTimes “Sunday Review,” there are several letters written in response to Paul Krugman’s
“Learning from Obama,” a (typically) effusive take on what this “hugely consequential” president has
done (column/letters are below).

Since it appeared on April 1, this column is not Krugman’s latest shot at Bernie Sanders. That would
be “Sanders Over the Edge,” a livid and deceptive piece that ran on April 8, and that has raised
some questions as to Krugman’s motives and—I’m sad to say—integrity. (I’ll be sending something
out about those questions in a moment.)

Bad as it is, that hatchet job is less disquieting than “Learning from Obama,” and the letters chosen
for today’s NYTimes. While Krugman’s take on Sanders is a propaganda shot that no one will remember
once the Democratic nomination has been settled (or, as Krugman sees it, rightly handed off to Hillary),
his rosy take on “the Obama years” is very likely to become the Standard Liberal Version of this period—
a likelihood apparent in those letters (or, to be more accurate, in the NYTimes’s selection of them).

While there is much to say against each one of Krugman’s boosterish assertions re: Obama’s record
(“very significant action on climate change”? “the real threat to financial stability … has been greatly
reduced”?), here I will note only one important aspect of Obama’s record that does not come up at all
in Krugman’s column or those letters: the hard fact that Obama is “probably the worst president we’ve
had” on civil liberties.

Those are the words of Robert Scheer, whose verdict has been variously reconfirmed by Glenn Greenwald,
Wendy Kaminer, Jonathan Turley, John Cusack, John Whitehead and many others on the left and right,
noting all the ways in which Obama has been even more repressive than Bush/Cheney—largely going
further than they did with government surveillance, official secrecy, targeted assassination, criminalization
of journalism and peaceful protest, denial of FOIA requests, and prosecution of whistleblowers, among
other lethal blows against the Bill of Rights.

There is no way to justify that catastrophic record—or the New York Times’s tacit willingness to white it
out, since our free press depends on the strict maintenance of the very freedoms that this president
has systemically attacked since taking office, while paying strenuous lip service to their preservation.
(The Times’ white-out is especially bizarre in light of Team Obama’s threat to jail James Risen, Times
reporter, for refusing to identify his confidential sources.)

Even if Obama were the Great Accomplisher that Krugman says he is, it couldn’t possibly make up for
his long drive against our civil liberties—unless, of course, you think a president who “gets things
done” should be allowed to trample on the Constitution if he wants to. If that’s the case, this president’s
apologists are just like those who overlooked Bush/Cheney’s crimes against democracy—and those
who’d do the same for Pres. Trump (or Pres. Clinton 2.0).


Learning From Obama

By Paul Krugman

Like many political junkies, I’ve been spending far too much time looking at polls and trying to understand their implications. Can Donald Trump really win his party’s nomination? (Yes.) Can Bernie Sanders? (No.) But the primaries aren’t the only things being polled; we’re still getting updates on President Obama’s overall approval. And something striking has happened on that front.

At the end of 2015 Mr. Obama was still underwater, with significantly more Americans disapproving than approving. Since then, however, his approval has risen sharply while disapproval has plunged. He’s still only in modestly positive territory, but the net movement in polling averages has been about 11 percentage points, which is a lot.

What’s going on?

Well, one answer is that voters have lately been given a taste of what really bad leaders look like. But I’d like to think that the public is also starting to realize just how successful the Obama administration has been in addressing America’s problems. And there are lessons from that success for those willing to learn.

I know that it’s hard for many people on both sides to wrap their minds around the notion of Obama-as-success. On the left, those caught up in the enthusiasms of 2008 feel let down by the prosaic reality of governing in a deeply polarized political system. Meanwhile, conservative ideology predicts disaster from any attempt to tax the rich, help the less fortunate and rein in the excesses of the market; and what are you going to believe, the ideology or your own lying eyes?

But the successes are there for all to see.

Start with the economy. You might argue that presidents don’t have as much effect on economic performance as voters seem to imagine — especially presidents facing scorched-earth opposition from Congress for most of their time in office. But that misses the point: Republicans have spent the past seven years claiming incessantly that Mr. Obama’s policies are a “job killing” disaster, destroying business incentives, so it’s important news if the economy has performed well.

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“While We Were Sleeping”

While We Were Sleeping is an urgent call to save Greenwich Village from New York University's uncontrolled expansion.

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