Friday Reads: Still not Raptured

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Good Afternoon!

I’m still not raptured or enraptured. How about you?

Those of us that watch debates a lot will remember that a split screen can bedevil  some politicians like nothing else.  Practicing composure while your opponent reams your ass or says something particularly irritating is the hallmark of the patience of a Job.  Remember Al Gore’s constant grimaces and sighs? Well, last night’s PBS debate introduced us to Finger Wag Bernie and it ain’t pretty.  People are beginning to chatter on about it.

It’s a gesture familiar to anyone who’s ever been warned, cautioned, scolded, told they are not very nice or otherwise belittled. A hand, often the dominant one, is raised. An index finger is extended skyward. The finger moves from left to right in a workmanlike arc or, for those with more rococo tastes, a flamboyant circle. Sometimes, a pen adds gravitas to the motion. Though the tempo and exact meaning may vary, the message is always similar, and always at least a little bit threatening. I know better than you. You are making a huge mistake. Back off.  

No politician in modern memory seems to favor the finger wag as much as Democratic presidential contender Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). And people are starting to talk about it.

“Sanders … likes to wave his index finger in the air like he just don’t care … although it’s clear when he does it that he actually does care very, very much,” Alex Gladu wrote at Bustle. “The gesture is sort of a mix between scolding his opponent — typically Clinton — and screaming for attention.”

It’s also important not to get a comparison like this when you’re getting all uppity about Henry Kissinger and the Vietnam War.

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“I think wagging a finger has an implications [sic] of shaming or pretend authority while waving arms is more expressive,” one commenter on a Mother Jones piece from last month wrote. “I wish he’d do it less, it makes me think of Nixon.”

Ouch.  Yes, the luster of the new shiny object is fading for those that haven’t already been raptured.

Sanders pretty much gestures continuously with his hands while he speaks. It makes for a very engaging and hardly ever distracting picture. He’ll point his finger or move his arms in a way that illustrates his point, but he only reserves the index finger wave for moments when you’re imagining him screaming, “I don’t think so, missy!” internally. On Thursday night, those moments even included talk of foreign policy, on which Sanders isn’t usually considered an authority when compared with Clinton.

The discussion of the content beyond the wag is quite telling.  Here’s the headline from The Guardian: ‘Sanders squandered his lead while Clinton shone at the latest debate’.  Lucinda Graves describes his performance as reaching for “petty one-liners”.

In what was easily her strongest debate performance in recent memory – and arguably her strongest since the campaign began – Hillary Clinton was calm, cool and collected at Thursday night’s debate.

Clinton could’ve been understandably on edge, as she was fresh off a resounding loss in New Hampshire on Tuesday and an effective tie in Iowa the week before. But it was Sanders who was oddly on the defensive despite what has been momentum in his favor, starting out the night more combative than Clinton and wasting his time on petty one-liners. (When Clinton talked about building political capital when she’s in the White House, for instance, Sanders began a rebuttal with “Secretary Clinton, you’re not in the White House yet.”)

Perhaps it was understandable that Sanders appeared to be on defensive as the major topics of the night – race, foreign policy and relations with Obama – are all considered areas of relative weakness for the income inequality-focused Sanders, though the the depth of his policy knowledge and ability to articulate it before audiences, particularly on race issues, has improved markedly since the campaign began.

Still, as winning over minority voters will be one of the principal areas of focus for both candidates going into southern primaries like the one in South Carolina and polls show that Sanders is struggling to eat into Clinton’s lead in the coming contests, expectations were high for Sanders this debate.

And while both candidates performed well initially in talking about systemic racism and reforming the criminal justice system, it was Sanders who stumbled when a moderator asked if race relations would be better handled under him than the current president. It was a foreseeable trap – asking a white man whether he’d do a better job on race issues than the first black president – but Sanders didn’t seem to see what he was walking into.

“Absolutely,” he said in response to the moderator’s question before slipping into his classic stump speech. “Because what we will do is instead of giving tax breaks to billionaires, we are going to create millions of jobs for low-income kids so they’re not hanging out on street corners. We’re going to make sure those kids stay in school are able to get a college education.”

It was as tone-deaf a line as any all night and, worse yet, it may have reminded Clinton of another line of attack she’d prepared in advance. In an MSNBC interview earlier on Thursday, Sanders had criticized President Obama’s failure to connect with Congress, saying in an interview with MSNBC, “There’s a huge gap right now between Congress and the American people. … What presidential leadership is about [is] closing that gap.”

sandersThere he goes again.  Back to the one note he’s played for over 30 years. Clinton closed the deal by basically telling every one that she was not a one issue candidate.  Bernie’s dogged attachment to his one issue put me in mind of Marco Rubio.  There’s a point when sticking to the message makes you look unable to to do anything else. It also gives your opponent plenty of time to think up nifty comebacks.  This is Matty Y. writing at VOX so be forewarned.

The morning after a debate, it’s natural to focus on the most dramatic moments. But in the case of Thursday night’s Clinton-Sanders showdown, the most significant exchange was arguably one that featured almost no drama. It’s a dog that didn’t bark: a moment where it initially looked like Sanders was going to hammer Clinton on her Achilles heel — personal, professional, and financial ties to Wall Street — but ended up retreating into generalities.

And what’s really striking about it is that it wasn’t a blunder or a missed opportunity on his part. He wasn’t able to blast away at Clinton’s weak spot because she very effectively covered it with a human shield named Barack Obama — forcing Sanders to choose between slamming a president who has a 90 percent approval rating among Democrats and abandoning his key argument against Clinton.

It came about midway through the domestic portion of the debate, when Sanders — who’d been rambling a bit — started to close in on his view that Clinton is hopelessly compromised by a system of money and power in Washington.
“Secretary Clinton’s Super PAC, as I understand it, received $25 million dollars last reporting period, $15 million dollars from Wall Street,” he said. “Our average contribution is $27 dollars; I’m very proud of that.”

Sanders was clearly winding up to throw some kind of punch, but before he could, moderator Gwen Ifill said, “Sen. Sanders, are you saying—” and then Clinton cut her off and launched her move.

I debated then-Sen. Obama numerous times on stages like this, and he was the recipient of the largest number of Wall Street donations of anybody running on the Democratic side ever.

Now, when it mattered, he stood up and took on Wall Street. He pushed through, and he passed the Dodd-Frank regulation, the toughest regulations since the 1930s. So, let’s not in anyway imply here that either President Obama or myself, would in anyway not take on any vested interested, whether it’s Wall Street, or drug companies, or insurance companies, or frankly, the gun lobby to stand up to do what’s best for the American people.

On its face, this isn’t an amazingly strong argument. “Barack did it too,” as we all remember from second grade, is not a real defense against charges of misconduct. But in the context of this particular Democratic primary, it’s a daring gambit. Rather than directly defend herself against the charge of having been corrupted by Wall Street campaign contributions, Clinton is taking Obama hostage.

The debate itself was actually quite historical.  There were two women moderators and a woman candidate.  This gave the debate its first female majority.

In a historic first, two women will ask all the questions at Thursday’s Democratic presidential debate.
Co-anchors Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff will moderate the PBSNewsHour debate between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Though women have moderated primary debates before, they’ve often been paired with male moderators or tasked with letting audience members ask the questions.

When the first two women moderated debates, they weren’t even allowed to ask questions.

NPR correspondent Pauline Frederick became the first woman to moderate a presidential debate in 1976, when she participated in thesecond debate between Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, but she was joined by three male journalists who asked every question.

A week later, ABC News anchor Barbara Walters moderated the final presidential debate between Ford and Carter, though she too was joined by three male colleagues.

In both cases, the women’s only role was to call on the candidates and introduce the male journalists.

“Thank you. Governor Carter, your response, please,” went a typical statement from Walters in that debate. “Thank you. Mr. Maynard, your question to Governor Carter.”

The moderators actually gave me the smile of the night when this happened.  Unfortunately, it turned out to be just a response to a producer because I basically was frustrated by this mechanical response to every c7527639f46e5b36d07ff16212e9dd7cforeign policy question so I’ll just have to say the original analysis fit me to a t.

[Update: PBS says the moderator was responding to a producer, not making an editorial comment. Their statement is appended below.] Following an otherwise lackluster (if not borderline uncomfortable) attempt at discussing foreign policy, Bernie Sanders moved to something he actuallycould speak confidently about: Hillary Clinton’s bizarre Kissinger boast. But as Sanders opened with a Vietnam reference, one of the debate’s moderators—apparently unaware her mic was still on—could be heard sighing in the background, “Oh, god.”

It was the reflexive response of an antsy kid who just had to listen to grandpa talk about his Iraq war vote for the 52nd time, and if you weren’t paying close attention, you almost certainly would have missed it. So in case you did, you can watch this rare bit of raw, uncensored moderator emotion above. Enjoy.

I was actually sitting in a local bar during part of the debate last night.  This is the kind of stuff we’re up against.  A older than middle aged woman was lecturing a young man (both white) on how Hillary always uses Bill and Chelsea as props post debate.  That she drags them up on stage like their all a package.  I basically mentioned that all candidate’s use their families that way.  She asked me where was Bernie’s wife then?  I said she’s probably down front and to just wait.

I was sitting next to a younger woman at the time and muttered on about how it’s bad enough to face sexism and misogyny from men but from women it was particularly disturbing.  So, when the debate closed, lo and behold! there was no Bill or no Chelsea on the stage their in Wisconsin.  Hillary spent the handshaking ending all by herself accompanied primarily by Secret Service and possibly one aid that I did not recognize.  But who was looking all nice and Vermont homey standing by her man? By that time, I was not able to correct the older woman and had to satisfy myself with asking the younger one to be my witness.


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What’s on your reading and blogging list today? 


Thursday Reads: I’ve Had it with the Haters.

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Good Morning!!

This morning I feel as if I’ve gone through a long dark tunnel and come out the other side. I’ve finally accepted that Hillary Clinton will be continue to be attacked unmercifully by the media and her opponents on both the right and left forever. I’m sure the attacks will continue if she gets the Democratic nomination and even if she becomes President of the United States. I don’t care anymore.

Can you imagine if Bernie Sanders–or Donald Trump for that matter–were being attacked as personally and as relentlessly as Hillary is? They would both be screaming bloody murder. In fact, they both whine and complain at the slightest criticism. Hillary is strong as steel. She never gives up. She will fight for the presidency so she can fight for us from the most powerful position in the world. She will fight for women and children around the world as she did for four years as Secretary of State.

I’ll stand with her to the end, through thick and thin. I’ve had it with the haters, especially the fake “progressive” ones.

There is another Democratic debate tonight, this one in Milwaukee. Someone will start a live blog to discuss it later tonight.

Now to the news.

Oregon Standoff

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton greets the children of U.S. Embassy employees at the embassy in Tokyo Sunday, April 17, 2011. Clinton is on a brief visit to Tokyo intended as a morale boost to the crucial U.S. ally. (AP Photo/Saul Loeb, Pool)

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton greets the children of U.S. Embassy employees at the embassy in Tokyo Sunday, April 17, 2011. Clinton is on a brief visit to Tokyo intended as a morale boost to the crucial U.S. ally. (AP Photo/Saul Loeb, Pool)

The Oregonian reports: Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy arrested by FBI in Portland.

Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who touched off one armed showdown with federal authorities and applauded another started in Oregon by his sons, was arrested late Wednesday at Portland International Airport and faces federal charges related to the 2014 standoff at his ranch.

Bundy, 74, was booked into the downtown Multnomah County jail at 10:54 p.m.

He faces a conspiracy charge to interfere with a federal officer — the same charge lodged against two of his sons, Ammon and Ryan, for their role in the Jan. 2 takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Burns. He also faces weapons charges.

The Bundy Ranch Facebook page reported Cliven Bundy was surrounded by SWAT officers and detained after his arrival from Nevada.

He was arrested at 10:10 p.m., authorities said.

The Bundy patriarch had traveled to Portland with plans to go on to Burns, where four occupiers had been the remaining holdouts of the refuge occupation.

Bundy has been under federal scrutiny since his ranch standoff with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. He has not paid grazing fees on federal land and he owes the agency $1 million in unpaid fees and penalties. He and militia supporters confronted federal agents who had impounded Bundy’s cattle that were found on federal property.

REFILE - CORRECTING SPELLING U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is greeted by human trafficking victims Van Sina (2nd L) and Somana (3rd R) at the Siem Reap AFESIP rehabilitation and vocational training center October 31, 2010. Clinton's visit to Cambodia is the first by a U.S. Secretary of State since 2003. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA - Tags: POLITICS)

The FBI is getting more confrontational with the occupiers Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Again from The Oregonian: Oregon standoff: FBI moves in on last refuge occupiers. The story begins with two recent updates:

UPDATE: 5 a.m. THURSDAY Franklin Graham, North Carolina evangelist, said on his Facebook page this morning that he was on his way to Oregon to help end the refuge standoff. He said he was on the phone with the remaining four last night as the FBI closed in. He expects to reach the refuge around 7 a.m.

UPDATE 10 p.m.: The live stream that broadcast online what appears to be the last stage of the refuge occupation stopped after more than five hours. The phone feed ended as the occupiers headed to their night camp, preparing to surrender Thursday morning. They said they have a promise that the encircling FBI agents would leave them alone overnight.

BURNS – FBI agents in armored vehicles moved in Wednesday night on the last four occupiers at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, hemming them into their rough camp and insisting they put down their guns and surrender.

The occupiers rejected the demands for hours before one of them said they will turn themselves in at a checkpoint once a national religious figure and a Nevada state legislator arrive. It was scheduled for 8 a.m. Thursday, but it wasn’t clear if the deal involved all of the four occupiers.

The standoff played out for hours through an open phone line being streamed to YouTube. At one point, an estimated 60,000 people listened as the occupiers displayed anger and panic, prayed with those on the phone and yelled at the FBI agents surrounding them.

They’re the remainders of a group of anti-government militants who took over the wildlife refuge headquarters Jan. 2. The four have been on their own since Jan. 28 — two days after the occupation leaders were arrested on a highway north of Burns and protest spokesman Robert “LaVoy” Finicum was shot and killed.

Those left at the refuge 30 miles southeast of Burns are David Fry, 27, of the Cincinnati area, Jeff Banta, 46, of Elko, Nevada, Sean Anderson, 47, and his wife Sandy, 48, of Riggins, Idaho.

Sanders Campaign Updates

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CNN has finally reported on the Sanders campaign’s vile treatment of a Nevada DREAMer: Sanders campaign touts another endorsement that didn’t happen.

Brenda Romero, a Nevada student leader and DREAMer that Bernie Sanders’ campaign touted as someone who endorsed their campaign, tells CNN she never endorsed the Vermont senator and is backing Hillary Clinton.

Romero said Monday she had agreed to be part of Sanders’ Nevada Latino Steering Committee, but that she never endorsed the senator.

Sanders released the list of activists and elected officials on his Latino committee in January.

“Tomorrow, a group of highly respected community leaders will announce their support for Bernie Sanders for president,” said a statement about the press conference.

The list included Lucy Flores, former Nevada state assemblywoman and congressional candidate, and Romero, a undocumented DREAMer and class president at College of Southern Nevada.

“I didn’t agree to such an endorsement,” Romero said Monday, noting that while she agreed to be part of the steering committee, she was told that the role would be advising the “campaign and potentially Sen. Sanders about immigration issues.”

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The Sanders campaign retaliated by releasing private emails between Romero and a Sanders staffer.

In an emails provided by the Sanders campaign, Romero did agree to be part of the steering committee, telling a Sanders staffer that she would be “honored to be part of this.” ….

Nowhere in the email exchange, though, does Romero agree to endorse Sanders. In fact, Romero asked not to have her title included in any campaign lists because as student body president, she has “to stay neutral to candidates.”

But because Romero has grown frustrated with the Sanders campaign, she said Monday that she is backing Clinton.

“I believe that Hillary has my back, and that she is the only candidate capable of accomplishing things in the face of Republican obstruction,” Clinton said. “She will get things done for immigrants families.” ….

I’m also disappointed by the attacks from senior staffers on the Sanders campaign on Astrid Silva,” she said. “It shows how disconnected they are from Nevada, and they should apologize to her. There is no room for hate between DREAMers in this campaign.”

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, right, greets Cambodian children during her visit to a shelter for victims of sexual exploitation in Siem Reap about 230 kilometers (140 miles) northwest of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Sunday, Oct. 31, 2010. Clinton was in the midst of a two-week, seven-nation tour of the Asia-Pacific. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

In other Sanders News, there was quite a reaction on Twitter yesterday when the United Nurses superpac that supports Bernie tweeted that it was holding an education session in South Carolina for Sanders supporters on how to talk to black women. There wasn’t a single black woman in attendance. The tweets was resoundingly mocked and then deleted, but there are screenshots all over the place.

If you search for “how to talk to black women” on Twitter, you’ll see some hilarious responses.

Clinton Campaign News

Yesterday, President Obama essentially endorsed Hillary for the Democratic nomination. He had already indicated as much in an interview with Politico’s Glenn Thrush in January.

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Huffington Post: Obama Speech Sure Sounds Like A Tacit Endorsement Of Clinton.

President Barack Obama on Wednesday gave a rousing speech on America’s political culture, decrying the influence of big money, encouraging compromise and warning people against believing in absolutes from either party.

“Trying to find common ground [with Republicans] doesn’t make me less of a Democrat or less of a progressive,” Obama told an audience in Springfield, Illinois. “It means I’m trying to get stuff done.”

The speech was delivered the day after two ideologues, billionaire Donald Trump and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I), won the New Hampshire primaries by harnessing voter anger at the perceived “establishment” in politics. But Obama’s words on Wednesday sounded like a tacit endorsement of his former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton….

Obama, who appointed Clinton his first secretary of state after defeating her in the 2008 Democratic primary, seemed on Wednesday to clearly fall on the Clinton side of the ideological divide.

He said that labels, such as “not a real progressive” — which Sanders has used against Clinton — are damaging to the national discourse.

“So when I hear voices in either party boast of their refusal to compromise as an accomplishment in and of itself, I’m not impressed,” Obama said. “All that does is prevent what most Americans would consider actual accomplishments, like fixing roads, educating kids, passing budgets, cleaning our environment, making our streets safe.”

HILLARY CLINTON HUGS FORMER FOSTER CARE YOUTH.

And from Politico: Jay Carney: Obama wants Clinton to win.

“I think the president has signaled while still remaining neutral that he supports Secretary Clinton’s candidacy and would prefer to see her as the nominee,” Carney said on CNN Wednesday following coverage of the president’s speech to the Illinois state Senate in Springfield.

Obama will not “officially embrace her unless and until it’s clear she is going to be the nominee,” Carney said.

“I think he is maintaining that tradition of not intervening in a party primary,” he added. “But I don’t think there is any doubt that he wants Hillary to win the nomination and believes she would be the best candidate in the fall and the most effective as president in carrying forward what he has achieved.”

Today the Congressional Black Caucus will endorse Hillary. Politico: Congressional Black Caucus PAC to endorse Clinton. Bernie’s supporters are busy tweeting that the CBC doesn’t represent Black people, lol.

The Congressional Black Caucus PAC will formally endorse Hillary Clinton on Thursday.

It’s a coup for the Democratic presidential contender, as many of the black lawmakers can help leverage support for Clinton in African-American communities that will be critical during her primary battle against Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), a former CBC chair said the former Secretary of State is a better candidate for African-Americans on national security and economic security.

“It is really, really clear to people who are paying attention at this point that she probably knows more about how to move us forward,” said Fudge. “As I look at her history, she has worked with people who are undeserved for her entire career…she’s been talking about this for her entire life. I’ve only heard about it from Sanders in the last year.”

This endorsement has been planned for some time, but many in the media are reporting that the CBC is rushing to rescue a struggling Hillary Clinton. ROFLOL!

Sen. James Clyburn has not yet officially endorsed Hillary, but he made no objection to the CBD endorsement. He is reportedly thinking about endorsing her soon, and says he could never endorse Sanders.

What stories are you following today?


Lazy Saturday Reads: New Hampshire Primary Weekend

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Good Afternoon!!

So now it’s New Hampshire’s turn–a state that is even whiter than Iowa. Iowa is 92% white and New Hampshire is 94% white. Some interesting facts about New Hampshire from The Connecticut Post:

New Hampshire is even whiter than Iowa. Its largest “city” has 110,000 people in it.

Its population is slightly more educated and well off than the rest of the country.

Together, Iowa and New Hampshire tell us something about the voting behavior of white people who don’t live in or near large cities.

Blacks, Asians and Hispanics are basically excluded from the first two elections in the presidential nomination process.

This distorts results for both parties, but it especially affects Democrats because minorities vote in Republican primaries far less.

Hillary Clinton, for example, does far better than Bernie Sanders with minority voters in all the polling so far, so Sanders is lucky that Iowa and New Hampshire come first.

The big contest after the first two is South Carolina, which has a large minority population.

If Clinton wins big there, the Democratic race will suddenly look very different than it does today.

The U.S. is growing more diverse very quickly. For example, in 2012 there were 23.3 million Hispanic eligible voters; there are 27.3 million this year, making Hispanics the largest block of minority voters.

In 2014, there were four states where minorities make up the majority; by 2044, the U.S. will be majority-minority.

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Some primary envy from The Detroit News:

The campaigns spent $40 million to sway Iowa caucusers; at the end, the spending hit a $6 million-a-week pace. Over the the past year, Iowa and New Hampshire residents had to be in hiding to avoid bumping into a candidate.

It would be one thing if these two states were microcosms of the nation. But neither represents the industrial or demographic diversity of America.

Fewer people live in Iowa than in Metro Detroit. Ninety-two percent of the population is white; fewer than 1 percent of businesses are owned by African-Americans. New Hampshire is even smaller and, at 94 percent, whiter.

Appealing to Iowa and New Hampshire voters requires different messages than would resonate nationwide. But if candidates fail to move the homogenous voters of these states, they’re at risk of seeing their funding dry up and their ambitions busted.

Presidential hopefuls should have to prove their appeal to a broader audience early on. The primary season should be revamped to force them to spend those early months demonstrating the resources to mount a national campaign.

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The lack of diversity in the two earliest states has handed a big advantage to Bernie Sanders. We’ll have to wait for Nevada and South Carolina to see how much impact his “enthusiastic” support in Iowa and New Hampshire has had on voters in states that are more representative of the U.S. population.

And let’s not let voters forget that Sanders clearly stated in a debate that he considers white people to be the “general population” and African Americans and Latinos to be somehow outside the “general population.”

From Time:

Sanders was asked about this exact problem at the debate Sunday night in Charleston. His answer:

“When the African American community becomes familiar with my Congressional record and with our agenda, and with our views on the economy, and criminal justice — just as the general population has become more supportive, so will the African American community, so will the Latino community. We have the momentum, we’re on a path to a victory.”

A little bit condescending, no? So we can only wait and see what happens on Tuesday and go from there. I don’t think it’s time for the Clinton campaign to panic just yet.

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For a little deep background on the New Hampshire primary, here’s a great article from 1988 by the Washington Post’s Henry Allen: New Hampshire is a fraud.

New Hampshire is a fraud.

Which is to say that behind that idyll of white-steepled, sleigh-belled, town-meeting, republican-with-a-small-R America lurks a much realer and hidden New Hampshire — the souvenir hustlers, backwoods cranks, motorcycle racing fans, out-of-state writers, dour French Canadians and tax-dodging Massachusetts suburbanites who have conspired as New Hampshire has conspired for two centuries to create an illusion of noble, upright, granite-charactered sentinels of liberty out of little more than a self-conscious collection of bad (if beautiful) land, summer people, second-growth woods full of junked cars and decaying aristocracy, lakes howling with speedboats, state liquor stores that are open on Sundays and the most vicious state newspaper in America — the Manchester Union Leader, which recently greeted the birthday of Martin Luther King by describing him as a Communist dupe.

They sell the rest of the country maple syrup, lottery tickets and Yankee sagacity the way Indians on reservations sell moccasins, bingo and environmental wisdom. They never shut up about how closemouthed they are. They beat you rich and they beat you poor. They do this by taking a Calvinist pride in the riches from the high-tech boom in the southern part of the state, and then asssuming the smugness of Thoreau in defending the poverty of the swamp Yankees and shack people living back in the woods with yards full of mean dogs and broken snowmobiles. They exhibit the ethics of Switzerland and the shrugging shabbiness of New Jersey.

Or as Emerson wrote: “The God who made New Hampshire taunted the lofty land with little men.”

The question is not who they think they are, to be holding us hostage every four years with their presidential primary. Instead, who do we think they are, to let them get away with it, this white, tight and right smidgen of a place, this myth-mongering bastion of no-tax/no-spend conservatives with no minorities to speak of and a total of .43 percent of the American people? As Thomas Jefferson said, after New Hampshire town meetings had attacked his Embargo Act, “The organization of this little selfish minority enabled it to overrule the union.”

Read more at the link. It’s a long read, but a fun one.

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The media is finally beginning to vet Bernie Sanders with some serious research. Some examples:

Michael Grunwald at Politico: Bernie’s Radical Dilemma: If we need a revolution, how does he explain that things are already getting better?

Now that Bernie Sanders is looking less like a quixotic left-wing protest candidate and more like a serious contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, a contradiction at the heart of his campaign is becoming more glaring. You can call it the Radical’s Dilemma, or the Revolutionary’s Quandary, or maybe just Bernie’s Obama Problem. Whatever you call it, it was on stark display at last night’s debate in New Hampshire, even though Sanders tried to gloss over it.

The conundrum boils down to a schizophrenic view of a nation where progressive change is impossible and where progressive change is simultaneously happening. On one hand, Sanders argues that the political system is hopelessly corrupt, that the economy is outrageously rigged, that nothing good can happen as long as Wall Street, drug companies and fossil-fuel interests own Washington. On the other hand, Sanders says President Barack Obama has done a “fantastic job,” that America is in “much better shape than we were seven years ago,” that there has been significant progress on financial reform, health reform and climate action.

This is not just a political problem, as Sanders tries to carve out space to Obama’s left without denouncing a president with a 90 percent approval rating among Democrats. And Sanders can’t wave away the problem by saying the progress under Obama has been impressive, considering the Republican opposition, but insufficient; Obama says the same thing. This is a philosophical problem for a radical candidate, a question he hasn’t figured out how to answer: If things are never going to get better without a political revolution to take power back from special interests, how is it that things are getting better?

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Tim Mak at The Daily Beast: The Veterans Scandal on Bernie Sanders’ Watch.

Bernie Sanders’s tenure as chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee was characterized by glaring neglect of his oversight responsibilities, allowing the 2014 VA scandal to unfold under his watch, veterans’ rights advocates argue.

Sanders has touted his work on veterans’ issues, most recently citing his involvement in “the most comprehensive VA health care bill in this country,” in a debate Thursday.

Left unsaid however, is that he was the chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, responsible for overseeing the Department of Veterans Affairs, as the scandal erupted.


MSNBC NH Democratic Debate Live Blog

FILE - In this Jan. 17, 2016 photo, Democratic presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, stand together before the start of the NBC, YouTube Democratic presidential debate at the Gaillard Center in Charleston, S.C. The Democratic presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders reached an agreement in principle on Saturday to hold another presidential debate next week in New Hampshire and three more later this spring. (AP Photo/Mic Smith)

Here we go!

Another confrontation between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, who has made himself the arbiter of who and what is “progressive.” He’s decided that doesn’t include his opponent. Geeze why didn’t I ever notice how arrogant this man is before?

The moderators of tonight’s meetup are Republican fanboy Chuck Todd and Bernie ass-kisser Rachel Maddow. That means another two hours of softball questions for Sanders and really hard ones for Clinton.

I hope the entire focus of the “debate” won’t be on trying to make Clinton look evil because she made a few speeches at Goldman Sachs; but that’s kind of what I’m expecting.

I also expect Rachel Maddow to repeat her lie that Bernie is the one who first highlighted the situation in Flint, Michigan. Sigh . . . Can you tell I’m in a bad mood already?

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What I’m looking forward to is Hillary’s responses to all this. After last night, I have complete faith that she will rise above all the hate and come out looking good to the voters if not the media.

The debate will be live streamed online at both MSNBC and NBC News: “How to Watch the New Hampshire Democratic Debate on Thursday.”

The debate, set for the University of New Hampshire in Durham, begins at 9 p.m. ET. It will be moderated by NBC News’ Chuck Todd and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.

Here is what you need to know about how to watch and be a part of the experience:

  • The debate will air live on MSNBC, beginning at 9 p.m. ET.
  • You can also watch the live stream of the debate online at NBCNews.comand MSNBC.com. And if looking for real-time reactions and analysis, you’ll find it at all decision2016.nbcnews.com.
  • If you’re on the go, you can also download our apps on Android and iOS to get all the latest.
  • If you live in New England, you can submit questions through our local partners at New Hampshire Union Leader and NECN.
  • The hashtag on social media will be #DemDebate.

I honestly don’t know if I can watch the whole thing. I’m going to try, but I’m exhausted from staying up late last night and I also have a cold. I will hang in there as long as I can.

A few articles of possible interest:

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Amy Chozick has another Hillary hit job and Bernie blow job at the NYT: Young Democrats Flock to Bernie Sanders, Spurning Hillary Clinton’s Polish and Poise.

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Bernie Sanders is 74. He grew up playing stickball in the streets of Brooklyn and watching a black-and-white television.

Yet this child of the 1940s, who says Franklin D. Roosevelt is his favorite president, has inspired a potent political movement among young people today. College students wear shaggy white “Bernie” wigs on campus, carry iPhones with his image as their screen saver, and flock to his events by the thousands.

And armies of young voters are turning what seemed like a long-shot presidential candidacy into a surprisingly competitive campaign.

“He may seem like some old geezer who doesn’t care about stuff,” said Caroline Buddin, 24, a sales associate in Charleston, S.C. “But if you actually give him the time of day, and listen to what he has to say, he has a lot of good ideas.”

In interviews, young supporters of the Vermont senator’s presidential bid almost all offer some version of the same response when asked why they like him: He seems sincere.

ROLFLMAO! “He seems sincere.” Those kids must be fucking geniuses.

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Guess what? Hillary Clinton was born in the 1940s too. So was I. I played organized games in the street too and we didn’t even have a TV, much less a black and white one. Does that make me qualified to be POTUS?

Whatever. This election isn’t just about entitled college students who’ve suddenly discovered politics for the first time and have no idea how it works. It’s about all of us, including us geezers. It’s also about more than white people in Iowa and New Hampshire. I’m going to be sooooo glad when the campaign moves on to Nevada and South Carolina.

Brian Beutler at The New Republic: Bernie Sanders Will Be Unelectable If He Keeps This Up.

Lobbing familiar attacks over familiar differences is what candidates do before elections. But at this stage of the campaign it also serves to deepen enmity between party factions, without the added benefit of bringing any new information to bear.

That’s why it makes Democrats uncomfortable, and why Republicans can barely contain their enthusiasm.

Unlike most political spats, though, this one turned out to be at least minimally instructive, because it underscored a legitimate strategic concern many liberals have about Sanders and his allies. It’s also newsworthy coming on the eve of Thursday’s Clinton-Sanders debate, because it promises to bring the question of Sanders’s electability to the forefront.

No kidding. I’m amazed that Bernie bro Beutler finally realized that.

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Kevin Drum: Yes, Bernie Sanders Is Questioning Hillary Clinton’s Integrity. You can read the whole thing at Mother Jones, but here’s the conclusion:

Is it true that Sanders is just too nice a guy to name names? Maybe. But I’m a little less inclined to be generous about this kind of thing. To my ears, it sounds more like typical political smarm. “Hey, I’m not saying she’s a crook. I’m just saying she drives a pretty nice car, amirite?” Contra Sargent, I’d say that Sanders is very much questioning the integrity of Clinton herself, and doing it in a pretty familiar way.

Yes, Virginia, Bernie Sanders is just another politician. Sorry you had to find out kiddies.

—  Sincerely, The Reality-Based Community.

Meanwhile the people who actually care about the Democratic Party and don’t want to lose the presidency to some insane Republican are getting worried.

Politico: Sanders under fire from Senate Democrats. A number of Sanders’ Senate colleagues are beginning to speak out:

They’re criticizing his platform as naive, taking exception to his criticism of Clinton as a fake progressive, and imploring the media to put the Vermont independent and self-described democratic socialist under the microscope.

“You need to start asking him questions about his plans and his background,” said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.). Ask “how he’s going to address foreign policy and national security, how he’s going to pay for his higher education and health care proposals. There are a lot of unanswered questions.”

Shaheen has begun making that argument in her home state as New Hampshire prepares for another referendum between Clinton and Sanders. And she’s being joined by a growing group of Sanders critics after he made the claim Wednesday, on Twitter and the campaign trail, that Clinton is a progressive “some days, yes. Other days she announces she is a moderate.”

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Oh really? Well at least she’s a Democrat.

“Hillary Clinton is a progressive and I don’t think any other progressive gets to judge … and be the gatekeeper of progressivism,” said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), who won a 2014 Senate primary running as the more liberal candidate. “We need to remember who our real adversary is, and that’s the tea party and what they’ve done to the country.”

Some went further, saying Sanders, who caucuses with Democrats but identifies as independent, isn’t really a Democrat..

“Hillary’s a progressive in the way she views the issues every day,” said liberal Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). “Bernie’s a Democrat some days. And that’s a fact with evidence.” ….

Even members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, of which Sanders is the only Senate member, bristled at his attempts to label Clinton.

“I certainly think she is progressive enough. One could ask progressive enough for what?” said Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.). “Although there are a lot of positions that Senator Sanders has that I agree with in theory, I also believe that we are not going to get [them] done in this current political environment.”

One more. David Axelrod remembers very clearly what happened when he and his candidate took Hillary Clinton for granted in New Hampshire in 2008. He writes at CNN:

Famous last words

Famous last words

Is New Hampshire about to flip the script for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders?

We landed in Nashua before dawn, a conquering political army arriving in New Hampshire to negotiate the terms of surrender.

Hours earlier, Barack Obama had won a stunning victory in the 2008 Iowa caucuses and the putative nominee, Hillary Clinton, had placed a disappointing third. Now we had a chance for a quick knockout. Two straight wins and the nomination battle effectively would be over.

But even as Obama was triumphantly crisscrossing New Hampshire, the state’s famously contrarian voters were preparing to rewrite the script.

Five days before the primary, Obama was leading Sen. Clinton and a field of other challengers by a gaudy double-digit margin. The Sunday before the Tuesday primary, our own polling showed us ahead by eight.

But on primary day, Hillary was resuscitated by the voters of New Hampshire with a two point upset victory.

The message for campaigns here? Don’t take anything for granted in the Granite State.

That’s exactly what I’ve been saying for weeks. New Hampshire voters switch back and forth and often don’t make up their minds until the last minute. Sometimes they’re not even sure if they’ll vote in the Republican or Democratic primary until they get to the polling place.

I just hope Bernie keeps insulting Hillary right up until next Tuesday. I guarantee it will only help her with NH voters.

So anyway, here’s a fresh thread to share your thoughts on what has been happening today and your reactions to tonight’s debate. Have fun!

 


Lazy Saturday Reads: Eghazi!!

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Happy Saturday!!

Has any other presidential candidate in history had to fight the corporate media in addition to attacks from the other party and her opponents for the nomination to the extent that Hillary has to? I don’t think so. In just two days, Iowans will head to the caucuses. What “bombshells” will the media find to hype against Hillary before Monday night?

Today it’s “Eghazi” once again. Yesterday, the State Department announced that some of Clinton’s emails have been retroactively deemed to be “top secret.” The emails were not sent by Hillary from her private email server. They were sent to her by other people using the State Departments unclassified email server, because the information was not classified at the time.

Unfortunately, someone in the “intelligence community”–presumably GOP partisan(s)–told the State Department they cannot release these emails, so now the Hillary haters can speculate to their hearts’ content. Some of these withheld emails were exchanges between then Secretary of State Clinton and President Barack Obama! But you know, “Benghazi!!” Eghazi!!

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I’ll post just one corporate media article about this from eminent Clinton hater and Washington Post columnist Chris Cillizza: Hillary Clinton’s email defense just hit a major bump in the road. Seriously? Oh, and the article is accompanied by an unflattering photo of Hillary frowning.

For months, Hillary Clinton and her presidential campaign have stuck to a consistent story line when faced with allegations of classified information on the private server she used exclusively as secretary of state: She was the victim of an overzealous intelligence community bent on categorizing information as top secret or classified when it was, in fact, neither.

That defense hit a major snag on Friday when the State Department announced that it, too, had found “top secret” information on Clinton’s server — 22 emails across seven separate emails chains. The information, the State Department said, was so secret that those emails would never be released to the public.

Suddenly Clinton’s narrative of an overly aggressive intelligence community or a broader squabble between the intelligence world and the State Department didn’t hold water. Or at least held a whole lot less water than it did prior to Friday afternoon.

The Clinton team quickly pivoted. “After a process that has been dominated by bureaucratic infighting that has too often played out in public view, the loudest and leakiest participants in this interagency dispute have now prevailed in blocking any release of these emails,” said campaign spokesman Brian Fallon.

Calling for the release of the allegedly top secret emails is a smart gambit by the Clinton folks since it makes them look as if they have nothing to hide while being protected by the near-certainty that the State Department won’t simply change its mind on the release because the Clinton team asked them to.

Still, the timing of the State Department announcement, coming just three days before the pivotal Iowa caucuses, and the nature of that announcement seem likely to further complicate a situation that has already caused Clinton and her campaign huge amounts of agita since the existence of her private email server was revealed almost one year ago to the day.

You can read more Cillizza lies and distortion at the link.

1402956532996.cachedIt’s not likely you’ll see the true story in the corporate media, so here are some calmer responses from people who actually know what they’re talking about. By the way Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon is one of those people. He was previously director of communications for the Department of Justice and dealt with classified material on a daily basis.

Why does the Clinton campaign want the emails released if they are show shocking? Because they’re not.

This from Sen. Dianne Feinstein:

From Hillary:

So what is really happening? As far as I can tell, there is absolutely nothing new here. It’s all about politics and trying to keep Hillary Clinton from becoming POTUS.

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Max Fisher at Vox: The Hillary Clinton top-secret email controversy, explained.

If it’s top secret, then it must be really sensitive, right?

Not necessarily. A large proportion of documents that our government classifies are not actually that sensitive — more on that below. So the key thing now is to try to figure out: Were these emails classified because they contain highly sensitive information that Clinton never should have emailed in the first place, or because they were largely banal but got scooped up in America’s often absurd classify-everything practices? [….]

According to a statement by the State Department, “These documents were not marked classified at the time they were sent.”

In other words, they do not contain information that was “born classified,” but rather fall into the vast gray area of things that do not seem obviously secret at the time but are later deemed that way — not always for good reason.

Go over to Vox to read about “America’s problem with overclassification.”

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CLINTON US ETHIOPIA

Big Tent Democrat AKA ArmandoKos at Talk Left: eGhazi: Same BS IC story: different day. Check the links in the post also if you want to know more.

Josh Gerstein and Rachel Bade:

The furor over Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email account grew more serious for the Democratic presidential front-runner Friday as the State Department designated 22 of the messages from her account “top secret.” [. . .]

These documents were not marked classified at the time they were sent [and they weren’t sent by Clinton imo – BTD my emhphasis] ,” Kirby said in a statement.

Sound familiar? It should because it is the same story I’ve been writing about since this nonsense started. See in particular State v. IC classification battles:

Now what does this mean? It means the Intelligence Community, represented here by the IC IG, disagrees with the State Department’s determination on the classification of certain information contained in the Clinton e-mails. In their opinion, the information should have been designated classified and should be so designated now. But State does not agree.

Now what were those “classified documents then? I reviewed some that got through. As you can see, the IC is full of crap.What about this batch? I think we can safely say that the bulk of these are news stories discussing drone strikes.

Gerstein writes:

The messages deemed “secret” also vary widely. One from Feb. 25, 2012, appears to discuss U.S. drone operations in Pakistan.”This is hitting the news, with Taliban or HQN [the Haqqani Network] claiming responsibility,” State policy planning chief Jake Sullivan wrote to Clinton. The message originated with the U.S. Ambassador in In Pakistan, Dick Hoagland. Nearly all the text is deleted, but press reports that day described the crash of a drone in North Waziristan.

U.S. drones in Pakistan are operated by the Central Intelligence Agency, but the program is officially covert and therefore classified, even though President Barack Obama has acknowledged it publicly.

In short it is just more crazy crap from IC – news articles are Top Secret!! seems to be the theory.

But leaving aside the overclassification issue, there is just a little problem for those who want to take Clinton down with this nonsense – she didn’t transmit any of the information – just received it. And the issue is not a private server – after all the State’s unsecure email system would not be appropriate for “classified” material either.

As you have heard from me often, if anyone is in trouble, it will be career State officials like the current Ambassador to Bahrain, William Roebuck, Timothy T. Davis and William J Burns.

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Addicting Info: Hillary Clinton Did Not Send ‘Top Secret’ Emails On Private Server.

To summarize:

  1. There are seven emails which the State Department says are now considered classified.
  2. The emails originated from inside the agency’s unclassified system.
  3. They were not marked ‘classified’ or ‘top secret’ when they were sent.
  4. The emails were not sent by Hillary Clinton, but were sent to her, along with a number of other people.
  5. One of the ‘top secret emails’ is likely a published newspaper article.

In other words, this is not the huge scandal republicans were hoping for. Instead, it’s just another baseless right wing attack on Hillary Clinton that falls apart under even the slightest amount of scrutiny.

Sigh . . . I’m already exhausted from this crap and the weekend is just beginning.

I’ll end with two Politico pieces, one on Bernie Sanders and his campaign’s “foreign policy advisers” and another on Sanders’ claims that he is more electable than Clinton.

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Bernie’s foreign policy deficit. ‘I don’t know how I got on Bernie Sanders’ list,’ says one expert cited by his campaign, by Michael Crowley.

Not long after President Barack Obama ordered U.S. airstrikes in Libya in 2011, his national security adviser, Tom Donilon, trekked to Capitol Hill to brief Democratic senators. After a few minutes of discussion about the military operation, Bernie Sanders took the floor.

To talk about the economy.

“Sanders delivered a meandering manifesto about Democratic messaging on the economy,” says a former Senate chief of staff. “It wasn’t that his insights were wrong. It just wasn’t the time or place. Everyone was thinking, ‘Here goes Bernie!’ ”

Current and former Senate aides call the episode typical of Sanders, who on any given day would rather talk about Wall Street profits than about Middle East conflict….

Sanders has yet to give a speech exclusively on foreign policy, and on Friday his campaign backed away from an earlier commitment to deliver one before the Iowa vote. Numerous Democratic foreign policy insiders contacted by POLITICO could not name anyone who regularly advises the Vermont Senator on world affairs — a stark contrast to a Clinton campaign teeming with several hundred foreign policy advisers.

Oddly, the Sanders campaign is claiming to have foreign policy advisers who had no idea they were advising Bernie.

When asked whether Sanders has a full-time campaign staffer who handles foreign policy issues, his campaign did not respond. And several people whom the Sanders campaign has cited as sources of national security advice tell POLITICO they barely know the socialist firebrand.

“Apparently I had a conversation with him last August,” said Tamara Cofman Wittes, a Brookings Institution Middle East scholar, after checking her calendar upon hearing that her name was on a list of people the Sanders campaign said he had consulted in recent months. “My vague recollection is that it was about [the Islamic State] but I don’t really remember any of the details.” Wittes added that she backs Clinton.

“I don’t know how I got on Bernie Sanders’ list,” said Ray Takeyh, an Iran scholar at the Council on Foreign Relations who says he spoke to Sanders once or twice about the Iran nuclear deal at Sanders’ request in mid-2015.

What the hell? But of course Bernie voted against going into Iraq in 2002, so he’s the real foreign policy expert, right?

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Bernie Sanders might have an electability problem, by Stephen Shepard.

“Not only is Bernie Sanders electable in the general election,” insisted Sanders senior adviser Tad Devine, “he’s a stronger candidate than Hillary Clinton in the general election.”

Indeed, public pollsters who’ve conducted surveys in both Iowa and New Hampshire caution that the Sanders team might be misreading the data the campaign is relying on to make its case that Sanders would broaden the Democratic electorate and make more states competitive by luring young, more independently minded voters.

Patrick Murray, who runs the Monmouth University Polling Institute in New Jersey, said the independent voters who are backing Sanders in the primary are more liberal in orientation and would be likely to vote for the Democrat in November anyway.

“It’s a big leap of faith to take primary poll data and jump to the general,” added Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, which has conducted recent polls for NBC News and The Wall Street Journal. “You do ask the questions, and it tells you something: Hillary has a problem with independents, and Bernie doesn’t. Fast forward to September, October and November. The campaigns will change, and that dynamic will be different.”

Duh. Read the rest at the link.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a great weekend. 


Friday Reads

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Where Y’at?

Today is one of those perfect New Orleans Winter days!  It’s sunny and 68 degrees F.  It’s brisk enough for a walk in a sweater which is just how I like it.  It’s a great day for checking out the local Mardi Gras decorations prior to the descent of the Ugly Tourist.  It’s always so glittery until the day it all goes down. Then, it’s mostly drunk people and disappointment.

Speaking of drunk people and disappointment, the Iowa caucuses are Monday night which supposedly signals the end of the silly season.  I guess we’ll see about that. I’m still struck by the similarities between the Trump and Sanders campaigns.  Perhaps it’s the nature of so-called “outsider” campaigns.  You know me, I still wonder how a long term Senator and a Trust fund Baby Billionaire can be outsiders.  It just seems that mostly what we’re getting is attacks on the press and disassociation of policies with reality and intersectionality.

Bernie Sanders and WAPO are going back and forth today about the paper’s criticism of his campaign and policy suggestions.  Jonathan Capehart–speaking on Hard Ball last night–said that the voice of the editorial page on this was Chris Cillizza so that’s who probably wrote this response today.    I actually find myself agreeing with him.  Sanders ideas simply are lofty goals. They do not add up when actually put to the pencil which is the kind of thing that I’ve spent my 35 years of adult life having to do for huge corporations, for the Fed Atlanta, and for primary research.  The term used at WAPO was “half-baked”.

Sanders suggests they are too “bold” for the staid WAPO.  Today, WAPO characterizes them as over-promising.

What concerns us is not that Mr. Sanders’s program to tackle these issues is “radical,” as he put it, but that it is not very well thought out. We are far from the only ones, for example, to point out that his health-care plan rests on unbelievable assumptions about how much he could slash health-care costs without affecting the care ordinary Americans receive. “Their savings numbers are — well, politely said — simply wrong,” Emory University health-care expert Kenneth E. Thorpe told Vox. Mr. Thorpe, who is not hostile to single-payer systems of the type Mr. Sanders favors and has even advanced single-payer plans of his own, released an analysis Wednesday finding that Mr. Sanders’s proposal would cost $1 trillion more than the candidate estimated. That is not over a 10-year budget window. That is every year.

Mr. Sanders’s response to concerns over health-care costs was that other countries, such as Canada and France, spend much less than the United States per person on health care. That is true, but the question is how, specifically, he would make the model work here. The countries he praises ration care in ways that federal health programs in the United States, such as Medicare, do not. While there may be a fair case for a single-payer health-care system, Mr. Sanders does not make it. Instead, he promises comprehensive benefits without seriously discussing the inevitable trade-offs. That is not just bold; it is half-baked.

Health-care policy is only one place where Mr. Sanders makes solving the country’s difficult problems seem easy and obvious when reality is messier. He would use higher taxes on Wall Street and the rich to fund vast new programs, such as free college for all, but has no plausible plan for plugging looming deficits as the population ages. His solution to the complex international crises the United States must manage is to hand them off to others — though there is no such cavalry. This might not distinguish him much from other politicians. And that is part of the point: His campaign isn’t so much based on a new vision as on that old tactic known as overpromising.

Mardi Gras decorations on a Bourbon Street balcony, French Quarter, New Orleans, Louisiana USA

Mardi Gras decorations on a Bourbon Street balcony, French Quarter

This is one thing that I’ve really noticed from all the outsider campaigns this year which definitely have some political steam.  Trump promises a wall across our Southern Border paid for by the Mexican Government.  This project would cost tens of billions of dollars. 

“I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me, and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border. And I will have Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words,” Trump said in his presidential announcement speech.

The jingoistic Rubio and Cruz promise to level ISIS and hundreds and thousands of their innocent victims right along with them.  The rhetoric in this campaign is so over the top that I find myself wondering if so many candidates have overpromised on so many things in one presidential primary before.  It’s really odd because I actually found Jeb Bush’s attempts to bring the Republicans back to reality last night at the debates both sad and heartening.  No one seemed to care much about Jeb’s pronouncements except the few folks with a firm grip on political and scientific reality.  But even then, we continue to get treated to crap like the question-ability of global warming and the call to defund Planned Parenthood which provides so many health care services to so many people that it’s essentially a call for mass slaughter of one’s own citizens.

We continue to see absolute phony promises and little desire on the part of electorate to wake the fuck up. They cannot complain about being sorely disappointed in their elected officials when the elected officials they fall in love with spout absolute crap and nonsense.  The numbers are relevant.  The analysis is by Albert Hunt for Bloomberg so it comes with a be forewarned from me.

The overpromising may be more egregious than ever in the 2016 presidential race. Yet taxes were glossed over in the debate of Republican candidates last week.

Donald Trump says that his tax plan, which has huge reductions in rates and on the amount paid on investment income, focuses on working folks and sticking it to billionaires such as himself. A recentanalysis by the Tax Policy Center showed just the opposite. The Trump plan would cost the Treasury $9.5 trillion over the first decade, and almost $25 trillion over 20 years. The tax cuts would principally benefit the wealthy, almost 40 percent would be for the top 1 percent. The superrich — the top one-tenth of 1 percent — would get an average annual tax cut of $1.3 million.

By comparison, the lowest, or poorest quintile, would get an average tax cut of $130, or 1/1000th of what the wealthiest receive. In percentage terms, the top 1 percent gets a 7 percent cut, the poorest taxpayers a 1 percent reduction.)

The center also analyzed Jeb Bush’s proposal, which would cost less: $6.8 trillion in a decade. The distributional effects would be almost the same, the center found, with upper-income taxpayers receiving much of the benefit. The wealthiest 1 percent would get an average annual tax deduction of $167,325.

The center plans to examine the plans of Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz next week. Although some of the specific proposals are different, the bottom lines are expected to be similar.

Both the Bush and Trump tax plans would “improve incentives to work, save, and invest,” the center stated, while noting that these gains could be partly offset by increases in the national debt.

Also, while both these Republican plans would remove any limits on exemptions for charitable contributions, the Tax Policy Center projected that the steep reduction in rates would reduce the incentive to give to charities.

Conservatives complain that the center is associated with the left-leaning Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute. But the analysts include Republicans, and the team reached out to the campaigns and Republican economists for input. The conservativeTax Foundation, while projecting smaller revenue losses, concurs that the distribution of the cuts heavily tilts to the wealthy.

The center has also said that the liberal Democrat Bernie Sanders significantly exaggerates the revenue that would be brought in by his financial transaction tax. The Vermont senator hasn’t produced a comprehensive tax plan that would pay for the enormous expansions of social programs he proposes: universal health care coverage, free tuition at public institutions and huge infrastructure projects. He advocates further tax increases on the wealthy, but some hikes for the middle class seem inevitable under his plan.

Hillary Clinton, seeking to stem a surge by Sanders in the Democratic nomination race, rushed out a proposal last week that would impose a levy on annual income of more than $5 million. Her spending proposals are more modest than those of Sanders, as is her tax plan. But she has vowed not to increase taxes on anyone making $250,000 or less, a promise that some Democratic economists say is unrealistic.

I suppose no politician ever really lost an election by overpromising, but sometimes you just have to wonder how gullible the American populace really is.  However, these are the same folks that send money to Pat Robertson and think that Rick Warren speaks for an actual and very angry Sky Fairy.

Some of us made it through the Republican Debate last night that had the notable absence of Donald Trump who is perhaps the beacon of over-promising, under-delivering, and covering it up with bravado. 02416428a205cbf7bfe68bad0e35d35d

Here comes Donald Trump, again, and again, and again, touting his prowess at dealmaking. There goes Donald Trump, again, and again, and again, touting his prowess at dealmaking. Gliding into February’s Republican presidential primaries atop a flotilla of polls, Trump has made “deals” the litmus test of his candidacy.

“If I’m president,” he announced at the most recent GOP debate, “there won’t be stupid deals anymore.”

But a well-documented and widely reported trail of bad deals litters Trump’s career as a real estate developer and gambling mogul. (Disclosure: I wrote a book about the Republican candidate,“TrumpNation,” for which he sued me in 2006 because, among other things, it questioned the size of his fortune; the suit was laterdismissed.)

Fueled by a slew of bank loans in the late 1980s, Trump absorbed an airline, a football team, a landmark hotel, a bunch of casinos, a yacht, and other nifty stuff — almost all of which he eventually lost because he couldn’t juggle the debt payments.

He overcame those setbacks, but the man who emerged from that mess wasn’t really a dealmaker anymore. Kept afloat by his wealthy father’s funds and his own gifts for self-promotion, Trump became a reality TV star, golf course developer and human shingle who licensed his name on everything from real estate and vodka to mattresses and underwear.

Through Trump’s rise, fall and rebirth, there was one major real estate project that he tried to keep. The tale of what happened to that property should be of interest to anyone looking for insight into how Trump might perform as president. It was a deal of genuine magnitude and would have put him atop the New York real estate market. And he screwed it up.

I’d like to say that gullibility is symptomatic to the new, disintegrating Republican Party but it’s alive and well in the Sanders campaign too. However, it does look like the Sanders campaign will burn out.  There’s some indication that what will happen in 2016 will be a burn out of the Republican Party itself.  Frankly, I’ve been expecting this ever since the evangelicals stormed the country club back in the 1980s. Donald Trump may be the straw meeting the camel’s back.  Read this interview with Rick Perlstein who has documented modern conservatism for a number of years.

Are you surprised that things seem to be turning up Trump?

I had a very interesting experience this summer. I remember exactly when it was. It was when I was reading an article by [Evan] Osnos in the New Yorker about Trump. He happened to be covering the white nationalist movement, basically neo-Nazis. Coincidentally, it was right when Donald Trump burst onto the scene, and he wrote about how these guys were embracing Trump, as they never had embraced any Republican candidate before. The feeling I got was that this was the first time in a very long time that I’ve read anything about the Republican Party that I couldn’t assimilate into my normal categories. That was a very uncanny and uncomfortable feeling for me. I realized that I had to go back to the drawing board and rethink what was going on. This is something that’s very new, very strange, and very hard to assimilate into what we thought we knew about how the Republican Party worked.

How has it changed your opinion of how the Republican Party works?

Well, of course, the whole of my intellectual project, which I have been working on for a good, solid 15 years now, has been the rise of a conservative infrastructure that has taken over the Republican Party and turned it into a vehicle for conservative policy. If there’s one thing that I thought I knew, it is that basically the ideas and the institutions that were born through the Goldwater movement were a backbone of this conservative takeover of the Republican Party. Donald Trump is perhaps most interesting in his lack of connections to that entire world. The first sign that something very different was happening was when he basically rejected Fox News, threw them over the side, and had no interest in kowtowing to them.

That has been amazing to behold.

By the same token, things I’ve been tracing about conservatism and the conservative takeover of the Republican Party as a backlash against the forces of liberalism—and anger at perceived liberal elites and all of the racial entailments of that—are part of the Trump phenomenon, too. So, how these things mix together and how they produce the phenomenon we’re seeing now is something that’s been very humbling for me.

Do you think the things that Trump has been exploiting have always been exploitable, or do you think that some conditions, either in the Republican Party or the country at large, have changed and made Trump possible?

That’s a good question. I think that people who base their political appeal on stirring up the latent anger of, let’s just say, for shorthand’s sake, what Richard Nixon called the “silent majority,” know that they’re riding a tiger. Whether it was Richard Nixon very explicitly, when he was charting his political comeback after the 1960 loss, rejecting the John Birch Society. Or whether it was Ronald Reagan in 1978 refusing to align himself with something called the Briggs Initiative in California, which was basically an initiative to ban gay people from teaching, at a time when gays were being attacked in the streets. Or whether it was George W. Bush saying that Islam is a religion of peace and going to a mosque the week after 9/11. These Republican leaders have always resisted the urge to go full demagogue. I think they understood that if they did so, it would have very scary consequences. There was always this boundary of responsibility, the kind of thing enforced by William F. Buckley when he was alive.

I think that Donald Trump is the first front-runner in the Republican Party to throw that kind of caution to the wind. As demagogic as so much of the conservative movement has been in the United States, and full of outrageous examples of demagoguery, there’s always been this kind of saving remnant, or fear of stirring up the full measure of anger that exists.

Mardi-Gras-bead-tree-deedeeflower-22452394-500-375Again, I will say that a good number of both Trump and Sanders supporters are angry white men and they love all these promises because the lack of talk on intersectionality is taken as a return to their predominance in one way or another.  The separating feature appears to be age.  They seem to bask in white male privilege and view the idea of any one else achieving equality with them as a lose on their score cards.   Melissa at Shakesville has some very astute analysis here about Sanders which explains to me why so many young, white, scared males are attracted to Sanders’ vision.

I will never forget having to see a female president start her campaign event by addressing misogyny, intended as a “compliment.”

I will never not understand that Hillary Clinton is not allowed to forget her womanhood for a moment, even if she wanted to, while she is running for president, and what it means that Bernie Sanders’ primary line of attack against her depends on treating her womanhood like it doesn’t matter.

This, of course, is indicative of Sanders’ entire campaign, where gender, or any identity, isn’t what’s important; the issues are. And no wonder: If Sanders actually embraced an intersectional approach that detailed how marginalized people are disproportionately and differently affected by economic, social, and political injustice, it might become abundantly clear how absurd it is to continually suggest that a woman is representative of the establishment.

And oh how absurd it is, truly, when one takes a long gaze at the uninterrogated misogyny that is being lobbed at Clinton, even by ostensible progressives. (That link shared with Erica’s permission.) If gender really didn’t matter, then it wouldn’t matter to Clinton’s opponents, either.

But it does. Clinton’s womanhood matters. Her clothes matter. Her hair matters. Her voice matters. Her tone matters. Her likeability matters. Her emotions matter. Her “murderous cackle” matters.

The thing about “the establishment” is that it’s impervious to such demeanment.

It sets the rules by which Hillary Clinton is judged ever wanting, by virtue of metrics that are inextricably tied to womanhood.

There is a person in this Democratic primary who can be visibly angry, who can shout, who can use any tone and show any emotion, who can show up to campaign events looking like they just rolled out of bed after a bender. Who can coast by on the double-standard defined and enforced by the establishment.

It is not Hillary Clinton.

All the things I am admonished to admire about Bernie Sanders, that he is passionate, that he is unpolished, that he is impolitic, that he doesn’t give a fuck, are things that the very establishment he allegedly wants to dismantle do not afford his female competitor.

i-QXR9Mdx-MHow is this different from all the things that Trump has said about Megyn Kelly which increases his viability in the eyes of so many pundits and voters alike?  Yes.  Just like we’ve had to defend Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann from slut slamming and misogyny, we have to defend Megyn Kelly.  Republican Rednecks and Democratic DudeBros both swim in the same shark tank and spout the same sexist nonsense.

Early Thursday morning, Trump followed up with a new line of attack,retweeting a pair of images from a photoshoot Kelly did for GQ magazine and the message: “And this is the bimbo that’s asking presidential questions?” The images were captioned: “Criticizes Trump for objectifying women. Poses like this in GQ magazine.”

We also were treated, last night, to Rand Paul mansplaining that Hillary Clinton can’t be a feminist icon because Monica Lewinsky and because Bill’s still her husband.

So, tell me, how are these campaigns essentially any different when you’ve got most of them promising things that they can never deliver and acting like there’s no such thing as sexism or institutional racism outside of making the right minimal  gestures and that every one will benefit the same from their beneficence? How many people are going to get fooled by this again?  And which campaigns acknowledge that the US is in fact full of a women, children, and men of many creeds and colors?  Oddly enough, it’s the two big “establishment” candidates that speak to inclusion and to varying degrees, intersectionality.

Frankly, I have one thing to say.  This country does not need any more Great White Fathers in Washington. The majority of us have been the White Man’s burden and chattel for too long.  Campaigns and politicians like these two need to be stopped now.  They’re establishment wolves in anti-establishment sheep’s clothing.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today? 


Blue Monday Reads

bonne soirHello from the depths of Mardi Gras and the despair of the press coverage of the US Presidential Primary.

“Planet earth is Blue and there’s nothing I can do.”

I never really understood the double entrendre enveloping that lyric when I was a a preteen first turning into a Bowie Fan.  I grok it now.

That’s a view of New Orleans there on the left today!  It was taken from space by US Astronaut Terry W. Virts who posted it to his Twitter page a few days ago.  He had a simple message for us: “Good night . Bonsoir La Nouvelle-Orléans”.  

I thought I’d also treat you to Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield singing Bowie’s Space Oddity from the International Space Station. He’s got a great voice and some interesting change in lyrics.  I’m not sure how he got the guitar up there but watching it float around is a trip.   Stick around to watch his collaboration with Barenaked Ladies and some high school kids from 2013. It’s so kewl!!!

I’m not sure why–of all the Bowie songs out there–this song is haunting me.  It’s not really bothering me that I feel compelled to sit at the Steinway and grab a guitar for it then arrange away.  It’s sort’ve a life time hazard of being a musician with me that melodies grab me and hold tight. So, I’m passing my brain Tweak on to you, lucky you!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=apemYk2oz7M

Now for more earthly matters…

I’m really trying to understand wtf is going on with the media and the Democratic primary.  Maybe they’re tired of Republican crazy and want to create some lunacy among the Democrats.  Maybe, they’ve just got caught up in the mythos of a great outsider still itching to take down the Clintons.  It’s just early and getting old already.

Glenn Thrush of Politico has interviewed President Obama and the dissection has begun. 

Barack Obama, that prematurely gray elder statesman, is laboring mightily to remain neutral during Hillary Clinton’s battle with Bernie Sanders in Iowa, the state that cemented his political legend and secured his path to the presidency.

But in a candid 40-minute interview for POLITICO’s Off Message podcast as the first flakes of the blizzard fell outside the Oval Office, he couldn’t hide his obvious affection for Clinton or his implicit feeling that she, not Sanders, best understands the unpalatably pragmatic demands of a presidency he likens to the world’s most challenging walk-and-chew-gum exercise.

“[The] one thing everybody understands is that this job right here, you don’t have the luxury of just focusing on one thing,” a relaxed and reflective Obama told me in his most expansive discussion of the 2016 race to date.

Iowa isn’t just a state on the map for Obama. It’s the birthplace of his hope-and-change phenomenon, “the most satisfying political period in my career,” he says — “what politics should be” — and a bittersweet reminder of how far from the garden he’s gotten after seven bruising years in the White House.

So, from Thrush’s vantage point, Clinton seems the obvious Obama follow-up.  There also these overall daunting poll numbers when you look beyond the February openers.  What’s with the conversation on a Bernie Bump? 

natesilver: FWIW, our FiveThirtyEight national polling average (which we’re not publishing yet — stay tuned) has Clinton up 22 percentage points. Although that was before the Monmouth poll released today, which might tighten things a bit. But somewhere in the high teens or perhaps low 20s nationally is where the race seems to be. By contrast, our averaging method would have had Clinton up by 25 points at the end of December.

So that suggests some tightening, but not as much as the media narrative — which is pretty blatantly cherry-picking which polls it emphasizes — seems to imply.

From there, I’m seeing some other headlines which I don’t quite grok.

From  BC News: First Read: Get Ready for a Long Fight for the Democratic Nod.  It’s Chuck Todd so be forewarned because as you know the Republicans are rooting for Bernie big time.  The weird thing is the fine print doesn’t connect with that clickbait headline.  But, FYI there is this which is factual and remember, we’re always around to Live Blogs Debates and Townhalls.

Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O’Malley participate at a CNN forum at Drake University in Des Moines, IA beginning at 9:00 pm ET… Clinton holds three earlier events in Iowa, hitting Waukee, Knoxville, and Oskaloosa… Sanders, meanwhile, stumps in Iowa Falls, Ames, and Grinnell… Donald Trump holds a rally in Farmington, NH at 7:00 pm ET… Ted Cruz spends his day in Iowa… So does Marco Rubio… Chris Christie is in New Hampshire… Ben Carson hits the Hawkeye State… And John Kasich is in New Hampshire.

Countdown to Iowa: 7 days

Countdown to New Hampshire: 15 days

I’m really looking forward to hearing this debate because Bernie isn’t standing up well to media scrutiny and I’m denying to hear a response to this: “Sanders: Clinton is running a ‘desperate’ campaign that lacks excitement.”

Asked about his comments last spring that he had no intention of playing the role of spoiler or weakening Clinton’s standing in the general election, Sanders turned the question on its head.

“That’s a two-way question, isn’t it?” he said. “When Hillary Clinton’s hit man is throwing garbage at the media, she is in a sense making it harder for me to win the general election.

“Our campaign is not going to simply sit back and accept all of these attacks,” Sanders added. “We are going to win this thing.”

In another sign of growing confidence, Sanders has stepped up his talk of the general election. “I would very much look forward to a race against Donald Trump,” he said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” In speeches at his rallies, he sprinkles in previews of “a Sanders administration.”

Over the course of The Post interview, Sanders said Clinton was running a “desperate” campaign incapable of generating the kind of excitement his has. He raised questions about her motives and character. He said he expects Clinton and her campaign to “throw the kitchen sink” at him in the coming week in what he described as a craven attempt to avoid an embarrassing loss in Iowa.

Sanders questioned Clinton’s association with David Brock, the head of the pro-Clinton super PAC Correct the Record, whom Sanders called a “hit man.”

Even more bizarre is this comment: “Sanders says the flak he’s getting from Clinton reminds him of what Obama got in 2008.”  Is this Sanders way of warming up to black folks?

“We get attacked about five times a day,” Sanders told a crowd of about 700 people here. “But it really reminds me very much of what happened here in Iowa eight years ago. Remember that? Eight years ago, Obama was being attacked for everything. He was unrealistic. His ideas were pie-in-the sky. He did not have the experience that was needed. You know what? People of Iowa saw through those attacks then, and they’re going to see through those attacks again.”

tumblr_o0s8ybjsRl1tryuqbo1_500This must be the Clinton speech that gave Bernie the heebie jeebies.

Indianola, Iowa (CNN)Hillary Clinton delivered a blistering assessment of Bernie Sanders’ credentials here on Thursday and implored Iowa voters to scrutinize his policies and readiness for the White House, declaring, “Theory isn’t enough. A President has to deliver in reality.”

It was the most forceful and direct contrast Clinton has drawn with Sanders yet, a speech that underscored the increasing urgency and acrimony of the race. From health care to foreign policy, Clinton repeatedly referenced Sanders by name and questioned whether his ideas could ever become reality.

“I am not interested in ideas that sound good on paper but will never make it in the real world,” Clinton said. “I care about making a real difference in your life and that gets to the choice you have to make in this caucus.”

Clinton acknowledged that while she and Sanders “share many of the same goals” they have “different records and different ideas on how to drive progress.”

The former secretary of state used a Teleprompter to deliver her remarks to hundreds of supporters on the campus of Simpson College. The speech, one adviser said, was designed to “shake some sense into Iowans” and escalate the experience argument she has been making against Sanders with limited success.

“Senator Sanders doesn’t talk much about foreign policy, but when he does it raises concerns,” Clinton said. “Sometimes it can sound like he really hasn’t thought it through.”

Clinton’s campaign had multiple cameras here and plan to turn part of the speech into an ad, according to aides.

More bizarrely, we now have hints of a Bloomberg third party candidacy because of some perceived weakness on the part of the Clinton campaign.  Doesn’t any one have enough math background these days to get real?

Democratic primary front-runner Hillary Clinton on Sunday vowed to win her party’s nomination for president to “relieve” former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg of any thoughts of running for president.

“The way I read what he said is if I didn’t get the nomination, he might consider it,” Clinton said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Well, I’m going to relieve him of that and get the nomination so he doesn’t have to [run].”

“He’s a good friend of mine, and I’m going to do the best I can to make sure that I get the nomination, and we’ll go from there,” she added.

Bloomberg is reportedly considering a third-party White House bid if the race comes down to Democratic primary candidate Bernie Sanders and Republican primary front-runner Donald Trump.

Clinton on Sunday also defended lucrative speaking fees that she collected from big banks before her presidential run.

She said the payouts will not influence her policy platform as president.

“Absolutely not,” she said. “You know, first of all, I was a Senator from New York — I took them on when I was a senator.”

 Bloomberg has some ‘splaining to do.  And I have the heebie jeebies at thinking between a President Bloomberg and President Trump.moonpostertop1

A close confidant of Michael Bloomberg told ABC News the former New York City mayor plans to make a decision on whether he will make an independent run for president in the first week of March.

His decision will be based in large part on the state of the Democratic and Republican primaries after the Super Tuesday contests on March 1, the confidant said.

If after Super Tuesday it looks like Bernie Sanders has a good chance of winning theDemocratic primary and the Republicans seems likely to nominate either Donald Trump or Ted Cruz, Bloomberg’s odds of running are at least 50-50, according to this long-time Bloomberg friend.

If, on the other hand, Hillary Clinton looks poised to win the Democratic nomination, the odds that Bloomberg will run drop to close to zero, the friend said.

 And I’m going back to Tiger Beat on the Ptomac for my closer.  I guess I’m with Paul Starr on this one.  (“Paul Starr, a winner of the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction, is co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect and professor of sociology and public affairs at Princeton University. Among his books is Freedom’s Power: The History and Promise of Liberalism.”)

I have a strange idea about presidential primaries and elections: The purpose is to elect a president.

And I have a strange thought about primary voters: They have a choice between sending the country a message and sending it a president. That is a choice Democratic voters in Iowa and New Hampshire ought especially to be weighing with the first caucuses and primary only days away.

But as appealing as Sanders may be, he is not credible as president. Elizabeth Warren would have been a credible candidate, but Sanders isn’t. The campaign he has been waging is a symbolic one. For example, the proposals he has made for free college tuition and free, single-payer health care suggest what might be done if the United States underwent radical change. Those ideas would be excellent grist for a seminar. But they are not the proposals of a candidate who is serious about getting things done as president—or one who is serious about getting elected in the country we actually live in.

If he were elected, Sanders would be 75 years old on assuming office, the oldest person to become president in American history by more than five years. (Ronald Reagan was 69.) Some of his supporters were outraged by David Brock’s recent demand that he release his medical records—did they think no one was going to notice how old Sanders is? The presidency is an enormously taxing job, physically and mentally. His age is a legitimate issue, and if he were the Democratic nominee, even many people sympathetic to his views would have reservations about putting him in office.

Two other obstacles, however, would be so decisive that the question of Sanders’ age might hardly come up. Sanders’ self-identification as a “socialist” is all that many voters would need to know to reject him. A recent Pew poll found negative reactions to the word “socialist” outpacing positive reactions by two to one—59 percent to 29 percent.

In June 2015, Gallup asked people whether they would vote for a “well-qualified person for president” who had various possible characteristics, and “socialist” was a deal-breaker for more Americans than any other attribute, including gay, Muslim or atheist.

“Socialism” is the label Republicans have been trying to pin on Democrats; it is not the flag Democrats want to be waving. Not only would Sanders find it difficult to get elected, Democratic candidates up and down the ticket would disassociate themselves from him.

 

If that’s what Bernie and his groupies feel is an attack then consider me a warrior princess.  I feel the same way.

So, that’s my venture into Spaciness today.

What’s on you reading and blogging list?