In debate with Clinton, Sanders makes it clear: He’s a radical

REUTERS/Mike Segar
Sen. Bernie Sanders gesturing during Thursday night's debate with Hillary Clinton at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, N.H.

I’ve heard Bernie Sanders described as one of the most “on-message” candidates in U.S. political history. It’s true. Sanders repeats himself, relies on a relative few facts and phrases — even more than a typical politician — in an attempt to break through a lot of conventional thinking and political speech and get us to confront his message. After watching Thursday night’s debate in New Hampshire, I felt I had a better understanding of Sanders’ message.

Bernie Sanders is a radical.

Note that the word “radical” refers to things that go to the “root.” The symbol in mathematics for “radical” (√) refers to a number’s square root. From this grew the political meaning, which refers to a level of change that gets to the root of a problem.

The root of the problem in America, according to Sanders, is the concentration of wealth in a small segment of the population and of power in a small number of enormous corporations. Sometimes he refers to “millionaires and billionaires on Wall Street.”

One on level, the fact of this concentration is not really controversial. It’s a fact that can be measured. And it has been measured.

In last night’s debate, Hillary Clinton accused Sanders of being too focused on “one part of our economy and indeed one street in our economy.”  

Perhaps she’s right, in a literal sense. Sanders uses “Wall Street” as a shorthand substitute for concentrated wealth and power. And she isn’t wrong if she means that for Sanders the concentration of wealth and power — including political as well as economic power — in a small number of superrich families (he often brings up the Koch brothers) and corporations (which he refers to with the shorthand term “Wall Street”) is the key fact that must be confronted in order to get a better deal for the vast majority of Americans who are not part of that nexus of economic and political power.

Pounding on this fact makes Sanders a revolutionary. He even uses the word. When Sanders calls for a “political revolution,” as he often does, he refers not to a violent overthrow of the government, but to a peaceful one, accomplished via the ballot box, but one designed to put into effect radical change, perhaps best symbolized by a single-payer health-care system.

Key facts

Sanders is obsessed with a few key facts. The United States is alone among the wealthy industrialized nations in having a significant portion of its population lacking health insurance. We spend more on health care than any other nation. We pay the highest prices for drugs. Yet average citizens in other countries are healthier and live longer. Why? All of this, to Sanders, is about a system that has been rigged for the benefit of the rich and powerful, who not only control the economy but the political system. He said last night:

Let’s talk about why, in the 1990s, Wall Street got deregulated. Did it have anything to do with the fact that Wall Street provided — spent billions of dollars on lobbying and campaign contributions? Well, some people might think, yeah, that had some influence.

Let’s ask why it is that we pay, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, and your medicine can be doubled tomorrow, and there’s nothing that the government can do to stop it. You think it has anything to do with the huge amounts of campaign contributions.

And lobbying from the fossil fuel industry? Let’s talk about climate change. Do you think there’s a reason why not one Republican has the guts to recognize that climate change is real, and that we need to transform our energy system? Do you think it has anything to do with the Koch brothers and ExxonMobil pouring huge amounts of money into the political system?

That is what goes on in America. I am not — I like…there is a reason. You know, there is a reason why these people are putting huge amounts of money into our political system. And in my view, it is undermining American democracy and it is allowing Congress to represent wealthy campaign contributors and not the working families of this country.

The last time I wrote about a Clinton-Sanders debate, the piece was headlined “Bernie Sanders thinks Wall Street owns the Clintons.” He certainly does emphasize the money that Hillary Clinton has received for speeches made to Wall Street firms. He also emphasizes the holes blown in the U.S. campaign-finance regulatory system by the Citizens United ruling, which inevitably leads him to mention that he is the only candidate who refuses to benefit from those loopholes by accepting help from super PACs. This is a thinly veiled attack on Clinton, who benefits from super PACs that get money from “Wall Street.”

But it goes way beyond Clinton. Sanders thinks “Wall Street” owns the government and virtually owns the country and uses its ownership to defend and even increase the concentration of wealth at the top.

Sums it up

I heard Tad Devine, a senior adviser to the Sanders campaign, after the debate sum it up in remarkably few words, thus: “A rigged economy held in place by a corrupt campaign system. That’s our theme.”

With that in mind, here is Sanders’ opening statement from last night, verbatim. It’s short. It’s on-message:

Millions of Americans are giving up on the political process. And they’re giving up on the political process because they understand the economy is rigged.

They are working longer hours for low wages. They’re worried about the future of their kids, and yet almost all new income and wealth is going to the top 1 percent. Not what America is supposed to be about. Not the fairness that we grew up believing that America was about. And then sustaining that rigged economy is a corrupt campaign finance system undermining American democracy, where billionaire, Wall Street, corporate America can contribute unlimited sums of money into super PACs and into candidates.

Our job, together, is to end a rigged economy, create an economy that works for all, and absolutely overturn Citizens United. One person, one vote. That’s what American democracy is about.

Clinton, over the course of the debate, expressed umbrage that Sanders’ version of reality casts her as a bought-and-paid-for tool of a corrupt system. In her most memorable line of the evening, she referred to “the very artful smear that you and your campaign have been carrying out” against her.

She defended, passionately and convincingly, her right to call herself a “progressive.” And, when she fills in that phrase with “a progressive who can get things done,” she commits not exactly an artful smear against Sanders, but a strong suggestion that he will be unable to “get things done.”

Still more subtle, but not all that subtle, is a suggestion of why Sanders won’t be able to get done the things he is promising: Because there are powers in the country that won’t allow those things to happen.

She sympathizes, she says, with many of Sanders’ goals, but they are “just not achievable.”

She’s probably right. But why are they “just not achievable”?

Here’s the Washington Post annotated transcript of the debate.

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Comments (84)

  1. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 02/05/2016 - 03:14 pm.

    Not Achievable

    HRC’s comment that Sander’s goals are “not achievable” is typical of a centrist, corporate Democrat. It’s why they don’t have a 50 state strategy, conceding large parts of the country to GOP rule. It’s also why Obama said he preferred single payer, he compromised right out of the box and adopted the GOP healthcare plan.

    How did that work out, Obama’s being “realistic” with his healthcare plan?

    How has the lack of a 50 state strategy worked? Are there more or fewer Democratic legislators and governors and US House members?

    Obama has left the party in a shambles, after 8 years no less!

    Yeah, that pragmatism is really working well!

    • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 02/05/2016 - 04:31 pm.

      Here’s another alleged pragmatism: war policy.

      “Staying the course” in Iraq and Afghanistan to protect our prior investments left some of us shaking our heads and wondering, “What’s the essential difference between Bush’s policy and Obama’s policy in the Middle East?” And BTW, for those of you who might tend to answer that Obama got us out of Iraq:

      A. He didn’t; and
      B. The proximal cause of our “withdrawal” was Iraq’s refusal to sign our proposed Status of Forces agreement, wherein U.S. Forces could not be held accountable for their actions, no matter how egregious, under local law.

      A fundamental shift in U.S. foreign policy, which currently and basically views foreign sovereign states as U.S. provinces, subject to our interference when and how we please – was what was actually required to protect our national interests.

      There is a real question whether the political soil in which ISIS took root and grew was our creation.

      How “pragmatic” has all this turned out to be??

  2. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 02/05/2016 - 03:23 pm.

    Excellent question

    “‘…why are they “just not achievable‘?” That seems to be the crux of the matter.

    It’s amusing to consider the Republican pointing to Sanders’ form of radicalism in a kind of hysteria when, by the parameters of this article, the leaders of the Republican field are equally radical. I would never have guessed, years ago, when I was teaching American government, that we’d ever have a presidential race with so many candidates, if you’ll permit the baseball analogy, so far out into the left and right field corners. What’s less amusing is that the general populace seems much more willing to tolerate – even celebrate – the radicalism exhibited by the right than the radicalism exhibited by the left. That, in electoral terms, is a huge problem, and it’s a problem that I think – speaking strictly as an amateur – will probably work in Mrs. Clinton’s favor as the convention and the election draw ever closer. Anyone with a single progressive bone in their body will want to keep the White House in Democratic hands as long as the Congress remains in the hands of those who would drag us back to the 15th century. Philosophically, I’m with Bernie, but I don’t believe that’s the case for the electoral majority – at least not at present – and with multiple SCOTUS justices on the doorstep of retirement, a host of foreign policy problems, and, not least, a government in the hands of the 1% and a few dozen multinational corporations, my own personal preference is to do whatever it takes to prevent a complete takeover by the oligarchy. Doing that will require a Democratic candidate who’s basically a moderate, perhaps moderately progressive, Republican.

    Given the two candidates left (none of the current Republican field qualify as “moderate”) on the Democratic side, I’d prefer that Mrs. Clinton had far fewer ties to Wall Street than she does, since, along with Senator Sanders and numerous others, I’m of the opinion that money shapes opinions, both in the collective and the individual senses. That said, however, I think she’s quite correct in pointing out that getting *anything* done in Washington nowadays is far from certain for a Democratic president, as Mr. Obama can attest, I’m sure, and there are probably Republicans whose hatred for the Clintons is exceeded only by their reflexive nausea over the term “socialist,” though few Republicans have a good idea of what the term means. And, lest this be seen as some sort of backhandedly sexist tirade, I’m all in for electing the nation’s first female president, something long overdue.

    Bernie has drawbacks. Hillary has drawbacks. Neither of them have drawbacks that come close to being the national catastrophe offered by the top three Republican candidates.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/05/2016 - 04:04 pm.

      I agree with your basic points

      Both Bernie and HIllary (as shown by the adult tone of their debate) are far more competent and responsible than the three leading Republican candidates (being an adult seems to baar one from being a Republican candidate these days).
      I will admit to being underwhelmed by Sanders’ experience.
      He was mayor of a city of about 40,000 (less than half the size of Rochester or Duluth; about the size of Mankato) for nine years.
      Then he was in Congress for about 25 years. During this time I believe that he got three bills passed, two of which named post offices in Vermont. This is not an impressive history of executive preparation to govern the country. Yes, I’m aware that Obama had even more limited experience, but he was much younger, and possibly better prepared to acquire new skills.
      As someone of Bernie’s age and background, I’m not sure that I want to look at myself eight years in the future. One wonders why he didn’t run eight years ago. I think he could make a serious contribution to the governance of this country — there might be a cabinet position in his future. That would not require an eight year commitment

      • Submitted by Tim Smith on 02/05/2016 - 08:04 pm.

        Its fun

        To watch extremist liberals back pedal to support a well greased corporate candidate who pays lip service to the extreme anti american views of her party, it must hurt.

      • Submitted by Richard Helle on 02/06/2016 - 06:12 pm.

        I believe you are wrong about believing only 3 bills were passed

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/06/2016 - 09:21 pm.

          It’s complicated

          I followed your link.
          It lists many bills sponsored by other people that he signed on to.
          Many of these bills never got out of committee.
          My original comment referred to legislation that he had authored and which became law. I could probably dig through all 6,208 bills and amendments to see which were sponsored by him (he was the original sponsor) and which had passed — I don”t have that patience.
          I did look at his Web site, figuring that it would summarize his Congressional record. It talks about his interests and priorities, but doesn’t seem to have any specifics on bills presented and passed.
          So I’m left by someone else’s statement (attribution lost in the mists of memory).
          Do you have any more specific information?

      • Submitted by DENNIS SCHMINKE on 02/10/2016 - 08:49 pm.


        I am a GOP’er and a REALLY hope Democrats nominate Bernie. It would be a fun four yours to watch.

        I also get a kick out of all the Dem/Libs commenting here on how disappointed they are in Obama. We told you so!

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/12/2016 - 11:09 am.


          “I am a GOP’er and a REALLY hope Democrats nominate Bernie. It would be a fun four yours to watch.”

          Are you saying we would look forward to four years of obstructionism for its own sake? That the Republicans in Congress would not even attempt to work with a President Sanders, or find some common ground?

          It seems to me that a true patriot would wish for whatever is best for the country. Support–fervently–your own candidate, but acknowledge reality if he loses. Governing is not just about scoring points or winning elections, it’s about trying to accomplish things. That goal should not vanish just because it would be “fun” to watch a President founder (you don’t think any of the “statesmen” running on the Republican side would beat him, do you?).

          Or isn’t patriotism a valid motivator anymore?

          • Submitted by DENNIS SCHMINKE on 02/16/2016 - 09:01 pm.


            Oh my!

            At the highest level, I do not see ANYTHING about a Bernie presidency that would be good for the nation. There might actually be a couple of things that Bernie and I agree on (Wall street is a big problem), but after that, virtually NO common ground.

            Thus, to paraphrase Rush…”I would hope he fails’.

            And if/when he does, the nation would be better off for it.

    • Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 02/05/2016 - 08:37 pm.

      Crux of the matter

      I agree with Mr. Schoch’s comment. If HRC is the nominee, she will be my candidate. But I think the country is ready for a faceoff between a Trump, Rubio or Cruz and a Bernie Sanders, come what may.

      HRC’s comment “they are not achievable” sounds like the answer to a question to a five year old. I resent such a response nit just because I am an adult voter but because I expect a candidate like HRC who holds herself out to be a progressive to explain herself. HRC’s response doesn’t even pretend to offer any explanation to Eric’s question (and mine) “why?” It sounds a lot like: because you are not among the “powers that be” so therefore you don’t deserve an answer or “because the answer I give will be politically embarrassing for me” by revealing the truth of who I really am for.

      Bernie has framed one goal of taxpayer funded (OK, “free”) tuition for college education in terms of 15% of the Iraq War. To me, that says when “responsible people” talk about fiscal prudence and the need for austerity, they are talking through their hats because, clearly, we are not talking “tax capacity”; we are talking about priorities. It is when the government wears the “priorities hat” is when it forgets about all those “hopey changey” political speeches. Forget (for a second and only that) about his (and his AG Eric Holder’s) non-prosecution of a single malefactor in the 2008 subprime mortgage collapse. HRC signed off in 2008 on the 1 page bailout deal presented by Pres. Bush’s Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson when he presented the TARP program. Bernie did not.

      The 2008 crisis rolled over into 2009 during the beginning of the Obama presidency. Obama could have forced further concessions in 2009 when he became President. Instead, he offered HAMP, a program hat offered huge windfalls to the corrupt mortgagee and servicer industries but virtually nothing for the victimized homeowners. None of those who designed and profited by the subprime mortgage collapse and the 2008 TARP bailout were ever prosecuted.

      I think the public got a pretty good idea of who the “powers that be” are in this country during this crisis. Bernie and HRC votes are very similar except in some few cases. These are the ones who I think really define them.

  3. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 02/05/2016 - 03:44 pm.

    Bernie is a pure as the driven snow….

    It is so good to hear that big government – trickle down – tax and spend – socialist Bernie is unaffected by special interests and solely motivated by for a revolution out of the goodness of his heart.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/05/2016 - 03:52 pm.

      Yes, it is

      Glad to see you recognize that, Mr. Gotzman. We certainly want to see a President who is not beholden to corporate masters. After all, look at what happened in Wisconsin!

      • Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 02/07/2016 - 06:45 pm.


        Hey DFL – – Please, please have Bernie as your nominee!!!!!

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/08/2016 - 08:44 am.

          Just to be clear

          You do know that the DFL is in no position to nominate a national candidate, right? That the DFL is the Minnesota-only iteration of the Democratic Party?

          You were just checking to see if the rest of us knew, right?

          • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/08/2016 - 09:49 am.


            There used to be a Farmer/Labor party, but that was a hundred years ago.
            Of course, that’s where some conservatives (properly ‘reactionaries’) would like to take us.

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 02/05/2016 - 04:06 pm.

      He’s not motivated by money

      He’s motivated by his envy and hatred of rich people. That’s his only issue. That’s why he was clueless on any other topic. That’s all he’s interested in.

      • Submitted by colin kline on 02/05/2016 - 06:55 pm.

        He is motivated to make our country better. Why is that so hard to grasp? Where is the evidence for envy and hatred? It is possible to believe that our political system is bought and paid for and not hate or envy the rich. I don’t understand why republicans are so worried about government over reach but not by corporations or the wealthy. Do you really think that they have your best interests in mind? The goal of maximization of wealth is not a worthy if it is earned through the suffering of others.

        • Submitted by Joe Musich on 02/05/2016 - 08:04 pm.

          Going to a Bernie gathering is ….

          like going to a concert to discuss, interpret, or understand the story rather then engage in the adulation of the performer. Too long have we engaged in hero worshipping or demon degradation. As was so eloquently said by the ink stained wretch the facts are present that glaringly show the oxidation of the American Dream. Doing the same thing over again will result in the same happening again. Bernie brings attention to the national need to reinvigorate everyone but primarily our national sense of equality and equity. We are being reminded by the collective force of the Sanders campaign by something said insightfully and artistically by Neil Young “Rust Never Sleeps!”

    • Submitted by colin kline on 02/05/2016 - 07:35 pm.

      It sure is!

    • Submitted by Brian Simon on 02/06/2016 - 11:54 am.

      Trickle down?

      Um, I think you’re misunderstanding Sen Sanders if you think he’s promoting “trickle down.” That fraudulent theory comes to us from the right, not the left.

  4. Submitted by Jim Million on 02/05/2016 - 03:58 pm.


    How about news from Waning War Rooms: Carly, Carson, Christie, whoever is under 10%, whatever?

    I’d appreciate knowing about Right to Rise. Are they talking direction or entitlement?
    How about “Left to Loom”? Can’t we have some fun? This is only politics, after all, not the real world.

    Please, Eric, promise us lighter fare on Fridays.

    We can then celebrate TBIF: Thank Black It’s Friday!

  5. Submitted by Howard Miller on 02/05/2016 - 05:43 pm.

    Hope inspiring change

    Was drawn to Barack Obama for several reasons, a key one being that he wanted to change the tone of Washington DC away from the hyperpartisan polarized mini-universe it has become of late. He did not succeed, of course. But he got expanded health care to become law in the USA, something that few hoped would be possible.

    Robert Kennedy was quoted to say, “There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not.”

    I see Mr. Obama’s hope for change, Mr. Kennedy’s optimism for the possible in strong combination in Bernie Sanders. He looks around the world, sees France enjoy universal health care at 1/2 the cost we pay in the US for inferior coverage and results. He sees public university being a right of citizenship, something to be sustained like clean water supplies for all, and that actually works in major industrialized nations today. Just not in the USA. he sees a government beholden to the richest few, at the expense of the rest of us.

    Bernie Sanders envisions a future where the American economy and political system work for all of us, not just the top fewest. And he is not intent on destroying our richest folks, just asking them to help pay for a system that has rewarded them nearly beyond counting.

    Hillary seems convinced that all that is possible is to hold on to gains made during Obama’s tenure on health care, equal rights. She doesn’t want to try for better, just to hold ground. We need a stronger more positive vision for the American future.

    Why shouldn’t everyone be able to obtain health care from a doctor or nurse? Why shouldn’t everyone capable study at university, underwritten by a society that knows we all benefit as more of us are well educated? Why not? Bernie Sanders will try. Hillary Clinton dismisses it as pie in the sky. I much prefer the optimist who will show up and try, rather than the one who has folded her hand before betting even starts.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/05/2016 - 07:21 pm.

      Public higher education

      I’ll talk about this area, since I spent a 45 year career in it.
      Public colleges are supported mainly by the states, not by the Federal government. The main reason that tuition costs have gone up is that state support has dropped from about two thirds of the cost of providing a degree to one third. There is not a whole lot that the President can do about this beyond tinkering with loan costs.
      The other reason the cost of a college education has gone up is that the ratio of administrators to students has increased while the relative number of faculty members has decreased. Again, since the governance of public institutions is at the state level, federal action is limited to mild coercion through research support and some title funds.

      As for health care, a single payer system means putting insurance companies out of the business of financing health care, which in some cases would simply mean out of business. This might be possible, but at best (and against political opposition) this would have major economic birth pangs which would need very skillful management. A better solution might be Germany’s highly regulated private insurance system, which leaves private insurance companies managing medical care, but under much more tightly controlled parameters. I haven’t seen any evidence that Sanders has considered these details, much less tried to get a bill through Congress in his 25 years as a Representative and Senator.

      All I see so far is “We’re mad as hell and not going to take it any more”, which makes a better movie than a real world policy.

      • Submitted by Howard Miller on 02/05/2016 - 08:58 pm.

        discontinuous change

        When slavery was ended, that was an economic catastrophe for many southern US farmers. But it was the correct thing to do as a society. What is defensible about the US government not using it’s vast purchasing power to gain better prescription drug prices for citizens from pharmaceutical suppliers? Current high pricing occurred because Big Pharma wields large influence among both political parties, notably those who serve on appropriations and heath/human services. Could not get “Obamacare” done unless citizens were devalued relative to Big Pharma, giving them huge guaranteed margins.

        Our French allies pay something like 1/2 the cost per person for excellent health care. Maybe it is worth a significant period of dislocation to shake out unjustified costs in US health care. The idea that we should keep a current system because change would be disruptive is not sufficient cause. That was true for slavery. The change will be worthwhile for the US. We need to learn from others who are doing it better.

      • Submitted by Howard Miller on 02/05/2016 - 09:12 pm.


        btw no quibble with your analysis. seems spot on, as your posts typically are. I just really think it may be worth the dislocation to put private health insurers out of business. As for tuition free public higher ed, it is a state level issue as you note. But the feds can make it possible through invest in Americans grants … it just takes political will, which exists nowhere among our Republican friends. Bernie Sanders might, in a long shot, muster the political will. Hillary Clinton has already conceded the field. That’s why I prefer Bernie Sanders.

  6. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/05/2016 - 07:28 pm.


    I’ve never heard of the one you used.
    Going to the OED (Oxford English Dictionary),
    I find definition 7b to be most appropriate to this usage:

    “b. Polit. Advocating thorough or far-reaching political or social reform; representing or supporting an extreme section of a party; spec. (also with capital initial) (a) Brit. belonging to, supporting, or associated with the extreme wing of the Liberal Party which called for a reform of the social and parliamentary system in the late 18th and early 19th cent. (cf. radical reform n. at Special uses 2); (b) U.S. belonging to a faction of the Republican Party seeking extreme action against the South during the Civil War and Reconstruction. Now more generally: revolutionary, esp. left-wing.”

  7. Submitted by Ken Bearman on 02/05/2016 - 08:33 pm.

    Just not achievable?

    If “Sanders’ goals … are ‘just not achievable'”, neither are Clinton’s. Even if the Senate turns over to the Democrats in November, the House will be GOP until gerrymandering is overturned either by courts or by demographics.

    And if the GOP candidate wins, GOP goals are just as unachievable if the Dems take the Senate. If they don’t, a GOP majority would have to end the filibuster for most everything. How likely is that?

  8. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 02/05/2016 - 10:51 pm.

    Dialogue, anyone?

    Mr. Schoch made an interesting reference to “those who would drag us back to the 15th century” meaning Republicans and that is a common theme among liberals. Does it promote conversation and tolerance? No wonder Republicans think liberals are tomorrow communists who, without any proof, claim that top Republican candidates offer “the national catastrophe.” But what about the fourth and fifth and sixth? Democrats have only two…

    Mr. Brandon, what do you consider to be “adult tone of” the Democratic debate? Is it when the candidates were competing who can offer their kids (sorry, American people) more sweats and toys? Usually real adults ask their kids to be responsible…

    Mr. Miller, when you asked “Why shouldn’t everyone capable study at university…” did you mean anyone or anyone capable of studying? Also, do you know that the reason European governments pay much less for drugs is that Americans pay much more? Someone has to pay for research and development and for all lawsuits…

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/06/2016 - 09:41 am.


      Drug companies spend a lot more on marketing/advertising than they do on research, and most of their research is devoted to the development of me-too drugs which are no more effective than existing ones, but are just different enough to get around patents.
      New Zealand is the only other developed country which allows the advertising of pharmaceuticals.

      • Submitted by Jim Million on 02/07/2016 - 11:02 am.

        Relative Truth (edited)

        This directly from a close relative in new drug R&D: It easily can cost $1Billion to develop one molecule. That’s to find one that works, not considering the countless that fail. That does not include all public trials under FDA regs, and does not include post-approval marketing expense…if, indeed, the drug is approved and goes to market.

        Some R&D horizons are 10-12 years out. Of course, they are expensive.

    • Submitted by Jim Million on 02/06/2016 - 04:37 pm.


      Your voice is one of perspective from both within and without our current culture of division. Much of what is posted here comes from “old guys” (including me), some of whom appear to be in final throws of youthful anger. Others surely seem to be chewing on the same canker sore since the 1970s.

      Others write viewing themselves as Liberals, when their words often put them far beyond that realm.
      Those few and brave conservative readers comment at risk, but generally come out OK. The more clearly conservative, certainly those deemed right of center, are subject to what I call “gang posting,” where those usual suspects gather to beat up a little bit on that person in the other lane, as it were.

      I read many many comments, and also add mine, and definitely follow yours. Please continue to appear here. A thoughtful position is worthy of respect and audience, regardless of philosophical tilt.

      If anything, sourcing helps control the retorts. Noting the sourcing of others very much helps reveal their specific gravity, so to speak. Accuracy matters here.

      “Clarify to edify” is the password to this place.

  9. Submitted by bruce fisher on 02/06/2016 - 07:49 am.

    “…just not achievable.”

    The paradox of progressive thought that HRC expresses is that in order to counter the vast amount of money in the Republican attack machine she needs to accumulate a competitive sum to fight off the attacks & defeat the evil Republican in order to save progress. She understands and agrees that money in politics is bad for our political system but she wants us to believe that she is unaffected by it. So for HRC, the reason Bernie’s ideas are not achievable is that he is too naive to accept corporate money to save progress. That is what the 1% want us to believe. I don’t think regular folks will buy it.

  10. Submitted by Mike Schumann on 02/06/2016 - 08:25 am.

    Bernie Sanders

    I’m a pretty conservative guy. I may disagree with 90% of Bernie Sanders’ proposals, but I agree 100% with his observations of what the fundamental problem is in this country. I’m part of the 1%, so I’m not part of the envy crowd, but I recognize that the entire political fabric of the country is being destroyed by the uncontrolled greed of the 0.1% ers.

    Republicans talk a lot about the negative impact that high taxes have on the economy. The enormous profits and earnings that the 0.1% ers are sucking out of our economy is having exactly the same effect.

    We’re living in a new gilded age. At some point there is going to be a correction, either political change, economic collapse, or a populist revolt.

    The 1st step to change course is to hire a captain who understands the fundamental problem. Right now, Bernie Sanders is the only person in the race who meets this test.

    • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 02/09/2016 - 01:22 pm.

      Exactly this

      I’m comfortably in the top 10%, income-wise. Yet, my vote counts less (influence-wise) than those in the top 0.1%. That’s not ok. As a citizen of the United States of America, my vote and influence should be equal to the least and the greatest of the other citizens in this country. Being “realistic” about the problem and relying on “getting things done” is just code for “I’m not concerned with fixing anything.”

  11. Submitted by joe smith on 02/06/2016 - 09:07 am.

    One big contradiction

    How is big business bad but big Government good? How is the power, money and influence in business bad but the same power is good concentrated in DC? How can he say you can’t trust Wall Street, banks, or any business with money but you can trust Bernie (plus 550 elected officials) with the money? How does trickle down not work but Top Down socialism does?

    My favorite comment on Bernie was a Minnpost commenter saying Bernie never talks about power for himself. When you are the person saying don’t trust the evil 1% whether they be bankers, businessmen or whomever with power, money and influence BUT we will tax more, collect more, run more nation wide programs (free college, free healthcare, free everything) from DC, who has the power? Think for a minute about where all that power will be concentrated, will it be with you, me or Bernie and his elitist friends?

    No dictator (yes socialism is run by dictators) talks about power, they talk about a chicken in every pot for every person. After 10-15 years the people realize there are not enough chickens to go around. I love when Bernie says constantly that we are the richest country on earth, blah, blah, blah…… stop for a minute and think how we became the richest country on earth? It surely wasn’t by emulating Cuba!

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/06/2016 - 06:00 pm.

      A chicken in every pot

      was Herbert Hoover’s line.
      Is he your idea of a socialist dictator?

      And does your idea of “how we became the richest country on earth” include stealing a land of immense natural resources from its indigenous people? We and Cuba both started that process in the 15th century.

      And socialism is no more necessarily run by dictators than is capitalism. Neither system has ever been tried in its pure form on a national level.

    • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 02/06/2016 - 08:02 pm.

      One simple answer

      Governments are elected by the people, Companies are not.
      When was the last time a company had to fight a war? Ever here of monopoly or oligopoly behavior, these are economic realities. As Mr. Sanders clearly points out, when companies get too big they run the government (as they do today) and who do they run it for, their stock holders, just as they do their companies. No surprise the average American is not a company stock holder, i.e precisely Mr. Sanders point, American is not being run for Americans. There is nothing complicated here, here is an Irony, lots of “R’s were peeved about the Wall Street Bail out, and still are today. Why did we have to bail them out?
      A. Because they would have probably dragged the entire country, perhaps world into a depression?
      B. They are/were extremely well connected in DC at Treasury and then some?
      C. Running Wall street means be well connected to anyone that can or could play a major influence in protecting your proverbial ass-etts
      D. All the above
      (D) Its just good business.

      • Submitted by DENNIS SCHMINKE on 02/10/2016 - 08:54 pm.



        But for the most part–most of them do not survive, much less make a profit unless they please their customers. More than you can say for government.

    • Submitted by colin kline on 02/09/2016 - 11:12 am.

      Singular objective

      Corporations one and only goal is profit, often at the expense of the environment or any one of us who can’t afford a lobbyist.

      • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 02/09/2016 - 01:46 pm.


        Generally, a corporation’s first responsibility is to the legal requirements of its existence, then profit to shareholders. Then, ethics and corporate social responsibility kicks in. However, lots of corporations are aware that all three of those things are linked. That is, long term sustainability of the company, and therefore the profits of the shareholders, hinge on not only complying with the legal letter, but treating its consumers ethically. However, that is on a company-by-company basis, with some being better than others.

        However, aside from the typical corporations (S corps, C corps, and regular LLCs), there is another kind of corporation called the benefit corporation (B corp), that is legally obliged to provide some outside social benefit as well as profit to shareholders. Ben and Jerry’s is an example: they are legally obliged to promote economic justice in addition to make profit as a requirement of their charter.

        That said, despite what SCOTUS suggests, corporations are not people. They are legal entities designed to shield individuals from legal liability in order to provide an environment suitable for building a business. While they should be able to lobby, more should be done to keep the large amount of money they handle from fixing politics to advantage them unreasonably. Three things could help this: 1. No monetary donations to candidates, elected politicians, or PACs; 2. No non-monetary donations (travel, extravagant meals, job offers, etc.); and 3. Once elected, a person becomes ineligible to be a lobbyist at the same level as elected (local, state, or federal, as appropriate)

      • Submitted by DENNIS SCHMINKE on 02/16/2016 - 09:03 pm.


        Note the problem. Lobbyist. That is a problem with GOVERNMENT not with big-bad-evil corporations.

  12. Submitted by Jim Million on 02/06/2016 - 09:40 am.

    Another Appropriate Photo Here

    Yesterday I asked a friend in fun: “Would you allow this man near your granddaughter?”

    The reply: “Yes, to save her from Donald Trump!”

    Who can top that??

  13. Submitted by Brian Simon on 02/06/2016 - 11:48 am.

    A progressive who…

    Gets things done, or quits without trying? Clinton wants to criticize Sanders for being naive or unrealistic while appearing to hold the same principles. She wants to take offense at the ‘artful smear’ while collecting big money and defending the status quo.

    Liberals who were disappointed with Obama for failing to deliver enough hope and change should not expect Clinton to surpass his accomplishments. Certsinly, she’s competent to do the job. But don’t set your expectations very high for a new progressive era. Instead, you’ll get more triangulation & middle class stagnation.

    • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 02/06/2016 - 07:49 pm.


      #1 Sales strategy, set expectations low, deliver products that exceed expectations, maximizes delight in your customers and minimizes disappointment.

  14. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 02/06/2016 - 05:47 pm.


    Mr. Brandon, will you please provide a proof of your statement? By the way, you replied to Mr. Miller’s question, not yours…

    Mr. Schumann, I can only guess that 0.1%ers think that the evil is in 0.01%ers, and so on…

    Mr. Smith, a very nice point about trust in large companies vs. government. Government in many cases acts like the largest company except there is very little oversight (sure, election are free but one can make it on promises only).

    Mr. Simon, how is Hillary competent to be the President?

  15. Submitted by Fredric Markus on 02/07/2016 - 05:49 am.

    Seconding Eric

    As it happens, I posted this on Daily Kos this morning as a comment on a lead article noting Bernie’s lead among young voters.

    For the record, I’ll be turning 78 this coming July and I’ve been active in politics and other such communitarian pursuits since I first voted for JFK in 1960. Hillary is a hawk tied with golden chains to the forces Eisenhower warned us about and her protestations of extremely well financed innocence are laughable. Conversely, Bernie is well situated in the progressive stream of conscience that dates back to FDR’s fierce resistance to the old guard in the Congress and the Supreme Court that would have preserved the illusions of the Gilded Age and the crushing abuse of all manner of ordinary Americans. Here in 2016, we live in interesting times in part because agitprop and fascism are once again eating away at the foundations of our Republic.

    Without doubt, the affinity for Bernie shining forth in our younger set is a teachable moment for those of us born before WWII. We older voters need not be voting on automatic and IMHO we have an affirmative obligation to be sharply critical of Hillary’s crowd who would push us ever closer to another round of financial catastrophe and oligarchic pretension.

    Hillary has stated categorically that there will never be single-payer health insurance. What an outlandish proposition from a would-be progressive. If FDR and his fellow New Dealers had been infected by that defeatist virus, I wouldn’t have the secure retirement I enjoy. I wouldn’t have found focus for my enthusiastic embrace of higher education. I wouldn’t have had the array of supportive tools that gave credence to my work in diverse cultural settings that are in fact the norm in our nation of immigrants and their progeny.

    Arms merchants have meddled in American politics throughout every century of our existence as “The Great American Experiment”. Blood and treasure have been tools of their trade and the greed of political lackeys their version of “social insurance”. Hillary’s financial wizards run amuck with fanciful rationales reminiscent of the waning days of the Roaring Twenties — technology is a centerpiece in our twenty-first century environs but we leave its use to callous manipulators at our considerable peril.

    Bernie understands this. Hillary is stuck on a power trip. She is no Paul Wellstone whatever foolish and self-indulgent gesture Senator Al Franken may have made with Wellstone’s “torch”.

    • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 02/07/2016 - 08:53 am.


      To begin with, I want to remind you that JFK lowered the taxes to improve economy and was very firm with the Soviet Union during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Then I want to mention that FDR turned away a ship full of Jews fleeing Nazis meaning that most of them most likely died. And third I want to say that the “military-industrial complex” (a favorite in the Soviet propaganda that I, while living there, thought was their invention but even that was stolen) that Eisenhower talked about is responsible for America’s survival and winning the Cold War and developing the Internet, both of those being among the major things helping you enjoy your retirement… I also wonder where you see fascism in America today.. By the way, all of the above does not mean I suggest you vote for Hillary…

      • Submitted by Bill Willy on 02/07/2016 - 06:47 pm.


        Because you regularly reference and warn against socialism and communism, and because I’m somewhat familiar with your background (from your postings) and how that gives you a unique perspective on the realities of communism in particular, I’d like to ask what, from your perspective, was the cause of the Russian Revolution in 1917? What were the political, social, economic circumstances during the year’s leading up to it? What was it that inspired the people of Russia to “buy into” and fight for communism and the subsequent creation of the Soviet Union?

        • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 02/07/2016 - 08:37 pm.

          I can go in depth with economy, previous wars, etc. but the easy answer is this: People fell for promises that were as well sounding as unfullfillable.

          • Submitted by Bill Willy on 02/07/2016 - 10:25 pm.

            Better off?

            Based on your answer I’m assuming you believe the people of Russia (and Russia itself) would have been better off then — and better off today — if they had just gone along and stuck with whatever the political, social, economic circumstances were in the early 1900s. Correct?

            • Submitted by Matt Haas on 02/08/2016 - 09:01 am.


              It is, generally speaking, the next turn of the wheel when conservatives get anything approaching what they would consider an acceptable society. Not that they would acknowledge their base level desire for a rigid caste structure and rule by their “betters”. They just find life so much more comfortable when there is a clear set of instructions for interpersonal relations.

            • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 02/08/2016 - 12:52 pm.

              Absolutely. It would have also been better for the entire world. Otherwise, was communist revolution “progressive?”

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/08/2016 - 10:00 am.

          Historical note

          Of course this is before Mr. Gutman’s time, but the actual revolution that overturned the Tsar’s was the democratic Kerensky revolution. Properly speaking, the Russian Communists staged a counter-revolution after someone else had taken the risks and done the dirty work. Russia had not history of democratic government; they went from feudalism to ‘communism’ (fascism really) with a very brief stopover in democracy.
          On the recommended reading front:
          Harry Turtledove’s ‘Joe Steele’ (hint — Steel is English for Stalin).
          An ‘it can happen here’ book.

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/08/2016 - 10:11 am.


        Listen to Donald Trump.
        He wants to be ‘The Leader’
        (translate that into his grandfather’s German).

        • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 02/08/2016 - 12:54 pm.

          And you mean that Hillary doesn’t want to be “the Leader?” Does she want to be a follower? Let’s not use fascism terminology in vain.

    • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 02/07/2016 - 03:21 pm.

      “extremely well financed innocence”

      No one could say it better.

      I wonder how many Americans believe, as Mrs. Clinton would have it, that all those Wall Street speaking fees and corporate donations are merely investments in good government.

      I think those donors are thinking, here’s someone we can do business with, here’s someone who will compromise on OUR essential issues.

      I think they are exactly right. Hilary is reassuring them with her mantra of “getting things done”.

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/08/2016 - 10:03 am.

        Clinton’s speeches to financial audiences

        can quite reasonably be looked as at an insider’s advice on how to work effectively with government. This would be quite worth the pittance that they paid (hedge fund operators can make that much in a day) without buying influence.

        • Submitted by cory johnson on 02/11/2016 - 11:25 am.

          If only there were transcripts of her speeches….

          Oh wait- there are. And she refuses to release them. But nothing to see here….

      • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 02/08/2016 - 08:01 pm.

        Could it be?

        That even Wall street knows something has got to change, and a small losing revolution with a voice is better than a large losing revolution W/O a voice? They understand volatility better than most, minimizing uncertainty is tantamount to making money. “Free Market 101”
        There are those of us progressives that believe, a certain level of redistribution will increase market stimulation, that market stimulation will lead to all boats rising. That’s correct, call it trickle up economics! You read it here first.

  16. Submitted by Jim Million on 02/07/2016 - 10:45 am.


    Isn’t HRC from the Hubert Humphrey pool?

    I’m surprised Eugene McCarthy hasn’t been considered here, given references to young voters.

    • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 02/07/2016 - 03:09 pm.

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe HHH…

      …went to Washington with little, and after his long career, came out a millionaire.

      It seems he had opportunity for some crafty investments.

      • Submitted by Jim Million on 02/08/2016 - 10:41 am.

        Exactly the Point

        Hubert had little of his own, but $$ connections that got him there, as did Bill & Hillary.

        Why do you think HRC spends much time in Minnesota? Her healthcare advisers were/are here, as well as many “Bluetocrat” benefactors.

  17. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/07/2016 - 06:26 pm.

    It’s sad that progressivism IS radical in the US

    It’s important to realize the radical perspective Eric describes here has been the progressive narrative in the US for the last 4+ decades. Despite the fact that none of these propositions has ever been controversial, they’ve been deliberately relegated to the fringes of mainstream liberal (i.e. democratic party) consideration. To the extent that these observations and the agendas that flow out of them surprise or even shock “liberals” that’s simply a reflection of the conservative nature of US liberalism, not a reflection of their validity or appeal.

    It’s simply embarrassing for H. Clinton to stand on a stage now and claim to have some progressive credentials. Clinton’s entire adult political career has been organized around the “Third Way” which is was conceived as a liberal antidote to progressive agendas. The whole point of this brand of “moderate” liberalism that captured the Democratic party in the late 80s was to create a firewall against more ambitious liberal policies and agendas. The primary function of the Democratic Leadership Council and the “Third Way” was to steer American liberalism towards more conservative, pro-business, and pro-market policies. Hillary and Bill were at the forefront of this movement and have been enthusiastic champions of it their whole adult political careers. It’s profoundly dishonest (in my view) for H. Clinton to claim that she has somehow subscribed or advocated agendas and policies she’s spent her whole adult life combating.

    The truth is progressive candidates like Sanders never get anywhere near a democratic nomination because the DLC and Third Way party machine has always blocked them. We don’t know how well such a candidate will do in a general election because with few exceptions they simply don’t get to step up to the plate. The “problem” with Bernie is that he’s got a seat at the table because he’s spend decades working with the democrats, they can’t lock him out… they’ve tried but he’s earned a spot, and his exploiting that fact.

    Meanwhile the obvious alienation that Clinton is experiencing from American liberals tells us just how far afield Third Way democrats have led the party from their natural base. And this is the second election cycle out of the last three where this has happened, i.e. the preferred DLC candidate has faced a crippling backlash from the left. How can the democrats claim to be liberal champions when their preferred candidates keep ending up so far to the right of American liberals that socialists have become a viable and preferred alternative?

    Meanwhile perfectly workable and efficient policy solutions for everything from unstable financial sectors to affordable health care are kept beyond arms reach by irrational claims that common sense and basic competence are alien notions upon the American political landscape. This is not sustainable. In the end it’s Sander’s, not Clinton that ends pointing to a realistic and viable “third way”.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/07/2016 - 07:04 pm.

      The political question

      is not whether Democratic candidates are to the right of liberals — it’s whether they are to the left of Republicans they are running against.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/08/2016 - 08:45 am.


        I know more than a few people who like to say: “Bill Clinton was the best republican president the republicans ever had”. And this from a republican leaning Facebook friend:

        “It occurs to me that I’ll probably vote for Hillary because she’s the moderate Republican the GOP refuses to produce. I was talking to a guy from Boston in the St Louis airport and he asked me, “did you ever think you’d say, ‘I miss Mitt Romney? ‘”

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/08/2016 - 10:08 am.


          Can you say ‘triangulation’?
          Clinton positioned himself as neither a Democrat or a Republican in the classic sense, and also not simply between the two.
          He tried to define a third position equally distant (and acceptable to) both parties, but not directly between them. Effectively, he ran as a third party candidate under the Democratic aegis.
          I don’t think that this is what Hillary is doing. The times have changed, and she’s running as an incumbent whereas Bill was running against the incumbent party.

          • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/08/2016 - 10:54 am.

            I disagree

            Hillary has always been triangulator and that’s exactly how shes ran in 2008, and now. The difference is Bill never faced any serious liberal opposition or “backlash”. What you see now isn’t Hillary not being a “Third Way” candidate, you see her trying to cope with liberal criticism by pretending to distance herself from herself from her moderate/conservative history.

            It looks to me like her campaign is a mess right now because they never anticipated this kind of election battle and they cannot for the life of them come up with an effective response. The Clinton’s and DLC democrats always based their campaign models on the assumption that “liberals” and democrats would vote for them regardless, so they essentially ran campaigns targeted at conservatives and moderate republicans. Despite some spectacular defeats with that model it’s persisted, and clearly that was Clinton’s plan of attack.

        • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 02/09/2016 - 08:54 pm.

          Most interesting!

          Paul, didn’t think about it that way but you struck a thought, kind of like an Arnie Carlson only at a federal level. The “R”s couldn’t find the wisdom to endorse a standing Governor, who beat the DFL almost 2:1! I like it, great observation! Social liberal fiscal conservative, man us progressives are good!

  18. Submitted by DENNIS SCHMINKE on 02/10/2016 - 08:59 pm.


    It’s nice to see that all you Sanders fans see nothing wrong with taking that which was legally earned by others, at the point of a gun, and giving it to those who did not earn it.

    (PS–for the sake of this argument, let’s leave out those who CANNOT take care of themselves, and focus on those who simply WILL NOT.)

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/11/2016 - 12:16 pm.


      I’m not sure what Oregon Militias have to do this, unless your suggesting that taxes are theft, at gun point? No one puts a gun to my head, I just hit “Enter” on my keyboard, and I’m proud to do it.

      • Submitted by DENNIS SCHMINKE on 02/11/2016 - 07:30 pm.

        Proud to do it

        You may be…I regard it as an incredible burden. By FAR the biggest bill I have. Government is essential. Ours is out of control at both federal a s state level. Waste, incompetence, corruption, no accountability, other peoples’ money.

        The things they do reasonably well (example-military) cost three times what it should.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/12/2016 - 11:38 am.

          “No accountability”

          “Accountability” is another word for “an election.”

          “Other people’s money.” FYI, government employees at all levels also pay taxes. It’s their money, too.

          Where do you get the “cost three times what it should” figure?

  19. Submitted by Matt Haas on 02/11/2016 - 11:03 am.

    Why yes

    Because the alternative is? Forcing folks at the point of a gun to labor for others (ie debtor prisons)? Allowing folks to starve in the street (perhaps driving some toward criminal activity to survive)? Forcing charity to make up the difference (as opposed to addressing their current concerns)? Unfortunately, no matter how much you’d like them to, or wish you could force them to, there is nothing that can be done to make these “undesirables” conform to the lifestyle you surmise they should lead. Society is damaged by the options listed above, less so by the implementation of a governmental safety net. Any questions?

    • Submitted by DENNIS SCHMINKE on 02/11/2016 - 07:35 pm.

      No questions. We just disagree. Safety net–fine. Just turns out to too often to be a snare from which there is no escape.

      • Submitted by Matt Haas on 02/12/2016 - 06:40 am.

        Who cares

        Taxes aren’t punishment to you for the ease of others. They are the cost of citizenship. We enjoy the benefits of living in a society that offers one ample opportunity to have bills larger than one’s tax levy. (Sadly I have several, given what I make a year, all I can say is congrats must be nice to be in the 1%) Why should we give up those benefits, in favor of Machiavellian chaos, for the promise of a few bucks off our tax bill? To often the argument becomes a simple matter of spite directed towards those “others” that one finds less “special” and “deserving” than oneself.

        • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 02/12/2016 - 08:39 pm.


          “Spite!” Good noun, cuts deep, to the potential core, suggests that so called idealism is potentially a cover up?

        • Submitted by DENNIS SCHMINKE on 02/16/2016 - 09:13 pm.

          I am nowhere near the top 1% and what is stated is STILL the case with respect to taxes. It’s not a few buck…more like a couple of 10’s of thousands.

          Other comments: Sounds to me like ‘we enjoy’ really means ‘you enjoy’. Beyond the basics (fire, police, courts, military, roads, etc.) I am not getting much out of it…just paying a lot in.

          With respect to government, I am just suggesting that smaller is better, and that we would ALL be a lot better off of everyone was working a lot harder at attending to their own business, family, etc.; and spent less time trying to cajole the government into buying them something they are not willing to work and pay for themselves.

  20. Submitted by Jim Million on 02/12/2016 - 01:33 pm.

    Another Friday Afternoon

    Another weekend to reflect upon the psychological defense shields of the blog universe.

    Time for MinnPost to publish pieces from authors not caught in the wheel ruts of political repetition.

    Been an active week, this.

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