Lazy Saturday Reads: Media Belatedly Begins Vetting Bernie

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Good Morning!!

Before I get started, I want to thank Delphyne for posting the above photo on Facebook. I just couldn’t resist it. Now to the news of the day.

After his big win in the New Hampshire primary, Bernie Sanders is finally beginning to get some serious vetting from the media. It will be interesting to see how he handles the pressure.

Last night, this story popped up at The New York Times: FEC Tells Sanders Campaign That Some Donors May Have Given Too Much. The FEC found more than 100 “small contributors” had given more than the legal limit of $2,700 to Sanders’ campaign. It’s not a huge deal according to the Times, but to me it seems to be part of a pattern of dishonesty on the part of the Bernie’s campaign.

Here’s a more critical take on this story from the Daily News Bin: FEC launches inquiry into hundreds of “excessive” contributions to Bernie Sanders campaign.

In what the FEC has titled “Excessive, Prohibited, and Impermissible Contributions” to the Bernie Sanders campaign, it lists nearly a thousand contributions from hundreds of donors, some of them repeat offenders. Sanders is accused of failing to provide adequate detail on who the contributors are beyond their names, which campaigns are required to make their best effort to do under federal law. The FEC is also informing Sanders that he “may have to refund the excessive amount” if he can’t adequately explain where all the money came from….

The FEC report also accuses the Bernie Sanders campaign of widespread “incorrectly reported” reimbursements for travel purposes and other costs. Sanders has been warned that if he cannot explain the stunningly long laundry list of violations, “failure to adequately respond by the response date noted above could result in an audit or enforcement action.” Read the full FEC report.

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Then there’s this from the Wall Street Journal: Sanders’s Record, Filings Show Benefits From Super PACs, Links to Wall Street Donors.

In nearly every speech, Bernie Sanders reminds voters that he doesn’t have a super PAC, doesn’t want money from Wall Street and rejects establishment politics.

Yet the Vermont senator has benefited from at least $1.5 million in backing from super PACs and from political groups that don’t have to fully disclose their donors, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission….

He may not have formed one of his own, but Mr. Sanders is getting help from National Nurses United for Patient Protection, a super PAC that gets its money from the nation’s largest nurses’ union, with nearly 185,000 members.

The union doesn’t have to disclose its donors, but a spokesman said the super PAC money comes exclusively from members’ dues. Representatives from the union have frequently joined the senator at events and this week launched a bus tour across South Carolina ahead of the state’s Feb. 27 primary. At an Iowa campaign stop, Mr. Sanders thanked the group for being “one of the sponsors” of his campaign.

In a five-minute video posted online by the nurses union in October, Mr. Sanders said he was “honored” to have the union’s support and highlighted his work on its members’ behalf.

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The rest of the article provides details on Sanders’ fundraising from big donors to the DSCC, which has supported in his House and Senate campaigns.

“He was just like any other senator hobnobbing with lawyers and lobbyists from DC,” said Rebecca Geller, a Washington attorney who attended with her husband, a financial services lobbyist. Ms. Geller, who has donated to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, said Mr. Sanders was happy to take photos with her family. “My kids have fond memories of him hanging out by the hot tub.”

In addition, Sanders’ claims in debates and other forums are getting more fact checking and scrutiny. Here’s one example from The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler: Bernie Sanders’s claim that Hillary Clinton objected to meeting with ‘our enemies.’ This is refeering to the exchange in which Sanders claimed that Clinton said that Obama’s proposal to talk to Iran’s leaders without preconditions was troubling. Kessler:

Some arguments never die. For readers who may not recall a pivotal exchange between then-Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, here’s what Clinton and Sanders are arguing about.

In a debate on July 24, 2007 hosted by CNN, a question came to the candidates from YouTube:

In 1982, Anwar Sadat traveled to Israel, a trip that resulted in a peace agreement that has lasted ever since. In the spirit of that type of bold leadership, would you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?

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Obama took the question first and answered emphatically yes:

I would. And the reason is this, that the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them — which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration — is ridiculous.

Now, Ronald Reagan and Democratic presidents like JFK constantly spoke to Soviet Union at a time when Ronald Reagan called them an evil empire. And the reason is because they understood that we may not trust them and they may pose an extraordinary danger to this country, but we had the obligation to find areas where we can potentially move forward.

And I think that it is a disgrace that we have not spoken to them. We’ve been talking about Iraq — one of the first things that I would do in terms of moving a diplomatic effort in the region forward is to send a signal that we need to talk to Iran and Syria because they’re going to have responsibilities if Iraq collapses.

They have been acting irresponsibly up until this point. But if we tell them that we are not going to be a permanent occupying force, we are in a position to say that they are going to have to carry some weight, in terms of stabilizing the region.

Closeup of ginger cat lying on old book near spectacles on books background

Closeup of ginger cat lying on old book near spectacles on books background

Then Clinton responded, saying that before any such high-level meetings, diplomatic groundwork first would be necessary:

Well, I will not promise to meet with the leaders of these countries during my first year. I will promise a very vigorous diplomatic effort because I think it is not that you promise a meeting at that high a level before you know what the intentions are.

I don’t want to be used for propaganda purposes. I don’t want to make a situation even worse. But I certainly agree that we need to get back to diplomacy, which has been turned into a bad word by this administration.

And I will purse very vigorous diplomacy.

And I will use a lot of high-level presidential envoys to test the waters, to feel the way. But certainly, we’re not going to just have our president meet with Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez and, you know, the president of North Korea, Iran and Syria until we know better what the way forward would be.

As president, Obama took the path that Clinton had recommended.

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During the PBS debate on Thursday night, Sanders tried to explain away his no vote on a comprehensive immigration bill that was sponsored by Ted Kennedy and supported by most Democrats. Matt Yglesias responded at Vox: What Bernie Sanders told Lou Dobbs in 2007 about why he opposed the Kennedy-McCain immigration bill.

In Thursday night’s debate, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders briefly exchanged words over his vote against the 2007 comprehensive immigration reform bill that John McCain and Ted Kennedy wrote and that both Clinton and Barack Obama supported, while Sanders and most Republicans plus some Democrats were opposed. Sanders cited as his motive opposition to the bill’s guest worker provisions, which he said were bad because a Southern Poverty Law Center investigation had likened conditions in existing agricultural guest worker programs to slavery.

It’s interesting to compare this with what he said about the bill at the time on Lou Dobbs’s show. Dobbs, for those who’ve forgotten, was a business news broadcaster who refashioned himself as a somewhat Trump-esque anti-immigration, anti–trade deal populist in the mid-aughts.

If you watch the interview you’ll see that Sanders isn’t particularly interested in working conditions for guest workers and he’s also not narrowly focused on the H2 programs the SPLC report was about — he also talks about H1 programs for skilled workers that, whatever their flaws, are clearly not slavery.

Dobbs is opposed to the whole idea of “amnesty,” which Sanders was not, but Sanders also doesn’t argue with Dobbs about it. Sanders doesn’t really say anything about the costs and benefits to immigrants themselves — whether that’s people who’ve been living illegally in the United States or potential future guest workers — one way or another. His focus is on the idea that “what happens in Congress is to a very significant degree dictated by big-money interests” and that “I don’t know why we need millions of people to be coming into this country as guest workers who will work for lower wages than American workers and drive wages down even lower than they are now.”

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Finally, Sanders got himself in some hot water at the Black citizens’ forum in Minneapolis yesterday. Politico reported on the meeting and Twitter went nuts.

Sanders criticism grows pointed at black community forum

MINNEAPOLIS – A warm, welcoming African-American crowd grew increasingly frustrated with Sen. Bernie Sanders on Friday evening, complaining that he’s too scared to talk about specifically black issues.

Sanders was here for “A Community Forum on Black America,” introduced by the local congressman, Rep. Keith Ellison, one of Sanders’ only two endorsers in the House, But unlike many of the packed rallies that have greeted Sanders in other parts of the country, neither the folding chairs nor the bleachers in the gym here at Patrick Henry High School were full….

Questions from a panel and the crowd drilled down on felon voting rights — which Sanders said he strongly supported restoring — but turned to environmental racism and reparations for slavery, with demands for more exact answers about actions the candidate for the Democratic nomination would take if he was elected president.

The tension quickly rose over his 40-minute appearance, with moderator Anthony Newby repeatedly calling for “specific redress.”

“I know you’re scared to say ‘black,’ I know you’re scared to say ‘reparations,’” said Felicia Perry, a local entrepreneur and artist on the stage. “Can’t you please specifically talk about black people?”

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Sanders responded:

“I said ‘black’ 50 times,” he said. “That’s the 51st time.”

But, Sanders said, the issues at hand are more about economics than race.

“It’s not just black,” he said. “It’s Latino. In some rural areas, it is white.”

WTF?! Could this guy be any more tone deaf? Even though he has to know he needs black voters to win Southern primaries, Sanders just can’t break away from his obsession with Wall Street billionaires and income inequality to see that racism is a separate though related issue that affects how people fare in our culture.

You can read about the exchange in a little more detail in this CNN article: Bernie Sanders faces frustrated crowd at race forum in Minneapolis. The story ends with this interesting description of the chaos:

The forum finished inconclusively when activist Clyde Bellecourt commandeered the microphone to talk about issues relating to Native Americans being what he called “completely forgotten” by the federal government.

His statement drew on for several heated and emotional minutes as moderators asked him to get to his question and Bellecourt declared, “If you have to carry me out of here, carry me out of here!”

Sanders rose from his chair, thanked the crowd and scurried offstage.

Sanders simply doesn’t understand racism. As a white person, I can’t claim a deep understanding either, but at least I get that racism is a powerful force keeping Black people down and the problem won’t be solved by breaking up big banks or raising taxes on the wealthy and middle class to pay for free college and single payer health care.

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Sanders’ tunnel vision on the income inequality issue blinds him to the systemic effects of racism, sexism, and other forms of prejudice, which interact with economics but cannot be solely explained or remedied by economic policies.

This attitude goes along with Sanders’ odd statement at the debate when he was asked what he would do about systemic racism. From USA Today:

The African-American community lost half of their wealth as a result of the Wall Street collapse, says Sanders. When “you have unbelievable rates of incarceration,” which leaves children without their parents, “clearly we are looking at institutional racism” and an economy in which the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, he says. Race relations would be better under a Sanders presidency, he says, because he’d create millions of jobs for low-income kids “so they’re not hanging out on street corners.”

How does Bernie expect to pull in Black voters when he claims he would do better on this issue than the first Black American president and when he characterizes Black kids as “hanging out on street corners.” Good grief. Kids hang out on street corners in my middle class town and the even wealthier communities nearby. Kids in cities tend to do that.

Bernie just doesn’t get it, and he doesn’t even seem able to tailor his message to groups whose votes he desperately needs.

What stories are you following today? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a great weekend!


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!

 


Thursday Reads: Irrational Hatred and the Exhaustion it Creates

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Good Afternoon!!

I’ve been struggling all morning over writing this post. I knew that if Hillary ran for president again we would face unprecedented sexism and misogyny from the media and from many people who claim to be Democrats. But I never imagined it would be this bad. It was bad in 2008, but in 2016 the CDS is magnified beyond belief.

Since I was a child I have had a difficult time understanding why people hate those who are different from themselves. It was around 1956 when I noticed the prejudice that black people have to deal with. I just couldn’t make sense of it. I was 8 years old.

Later I followed the Civil Rights Movement closely and again I was mystified by the hatred of Americans for their fellow Americans. I could empathize and feel rage at the injustice perpetrated against African Americans, but of course I couldn’t really comprehend what it felt like to be the targets of so much ugly, vicious hatred.

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As someone who has dreamed her whole life that women might finally achieve equality, and who believes that electing a woman president would go a long way toward making that dream a reality, I am beginning to truly understand how it feels to be hated and reviled by the culture I live in. It is exhausting.

It requires superhuman strength and courage just to get up every day and keep trusting my inner voice no matter what other people say and do, and internally trying to counter the ugly attacks on the first woman to have a real chance to win the Democratic nomination and perhaps to become the first woman President of the United States.

The only thing that gives me the strength to keep believing is the the example set by Hillary Clinton. I don’t know how she does it, but I think she has the courage and the competence to keep fighting for us all the way to the White House.

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Last night in the CNN Democratic Town Hall, I saw a woman who is comfortable with herself, who believes in her ability to pull this off, and who has truly found her voice as a candidate. I have never seen a better performance by Hillary Clinton in any debate or forum. She was magnificent.

But don’t expect the media to report that. They’re busy praising Bernie Sanders, the man who answered every question by returning to his boring stump speech far outshone the woman who following him (why does Bernie always get to go first, by the way?) according to the largely white male Washington press corps.

You know what? I don’t care. Hillary is speaking to the voters and I think enough of them will hear what she is saying.

Last night Bernie got mostly softball questions from Anderson Cooper and the audience. Hillary got mostly tough questions, and she rose to the occasion. She never whined or complained. She was humble and she listened carefully to what she was asked.

Bernie on the other hand did his usual nodding and waving–he doesn’t seem to listen to the questions at all. He makes up his mind what the question is while the person asking it is still talking. Hillary doesn’t do that. She actually cares about the person who is talking to her. It’s amazing that so many people can keep right on hating her even after they watch her be so open, so willing to listen, to learn, to get better as a person and a candidate. But that’s what hate is about–hence the cliche “blind hatred.”

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Just for today I’m going to leave aside the many media arguments for why Hillary Clinton just isn’t good enough and why she can never be good enough in their minds. There’s another debate tonight, and I need to psych myself up; because I am determined to watch it no matter how exhausting it is to see the irrational hatred my candidate has to face.

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First, a couple of positive moments from last night:

From a mostly negative article by Eric Bradner at CNN, a wonderful quote from Hillary Clinton after she was asked for the umpteenth time why younger voters like Bernie Sanders so much and why they are rejecting her (although I see so many young women and men on line and on TV who do like her):

“I’m impressed with them, and I’m going to do everything I can to reach out and explain why good ideas on paper are important, but you’ve got to be able to translate that into action,” Clinton said.

“Here’s what I want young people to know: They don’t have to be for me. I’m going to be for them,” she added.

Could Bernie Sanders have been that humble and non-defensive? Not from what I’ve seen so far.

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From Maxwell Tani at Business Insider, here’s another sincere and humble moment from Hillary last night.

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton delivered a deeply personal answer to a question about how she stays self-confident while being conscious of her ego and staying humble.

Responding to a question from a rabbi at a CNN town-hall event, Clinton seemed to allude to damaging past public scandals, saying she kept a parable from the Bible in mind during tough situations.

“It’s not anything I’ve ever talked about this much publicly. Everybody knows that I’ve lived a very public life for the last 25 years. So I’ve had to be in public dealing with some very difficult issues,” Clinton said.

She continued: “I read that parable and there was a line in it that became just a lifeline for me. It basically is, ‘Practice the discipline of gratitude.’ Be grateful for your limitations, know that you have to reach out to have more people be with you to support you advise you. Listen to your critics, answer the questions, but at the end, be grateful.”

I thought that was straight from the heart. But it will be minimized and then brushed aside by the haters.

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In Michael Moore’s Casual Chauvinism, Michael Tomasky writes about the endorsement of Bernie Sanders by the liberal icon. In a letter, Moore lists a series of historical “firsts” in the history of presidential campaigns. The first Catholic, JFK. The first president from the deep South, Carter. The first divorced man, Ronald Reagan, and so on up till the first black president, Obama.

But Moore never mentions women at all. He doesn’t think the first woman president would be important. No. He’s thrilled by the idea of the first socialist president–ignoring the fact that Sanders would also be the first Jewish president if elected. Sanders clearly agrees with him.

Tomasky:

Here’s what’s weird and gobsmacking about this endorsement. In a letter that is almost entirely about historical firsts—it goes on to discuss how “they” used to say we’d never have gay marriage and other changes—Moore doesn’t even take one sentence to acknowledge that Clinton’s elevation to the presidency would represent an important first.

I mean, picture yourself sitting down to write that. You’re a person of the left. You are writing specifically about the first Catholic president, the first black president, the first this, the first that. You want people to believe that if those things could happen, then a “democratic socialist” could win too. Fine, if that’s your view, that’s your view.

But it’s also the case the other candidate winning would make history in a way that is at least as historically important from a politically left point of view—I would say more so, but okay, that’s a subjective judgment—and it’s not even worth a sentence? I wouldn’t expect Moore to back Clinton or even say anything particularly nice about her. But he can’t even acknowledge to female readers that this great progressive sees that having a woman president would be on its own terms a salutary thing?

I obviously have no idea whether Moore contemplated such a sentence and rejected it or it just never occurred to him. Either way, it tells us something. To a lot of men, even men of the left, the woman-president thing just isn’t important.

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Please read this magnificent essay by Melissa McEwan at Blue Nation Review: I Am a Hillary Clinton Supporter Who Has Not Always Been One.

I am a Hillary Clinton supporter who has not always been one. She was not my first choice in 2008.

But it was during that campaign I started documenting, as part of my coverage of US politics in a feminist space, the instances of misogyny being used against her by both the right and the left, amassing a “Hillary Sexism Watch” that contained more than 100 entries by the time she withdrew from the primary. And it was hardly a comprehensive record.

I have spent an enormous amount of time with Hillary Clinton, although I have never spoken to her. I have read transcripts of her speeches, her policy proposals, her State Department emails. I have watched countless hours of interviews, debates, addresses, testimony before Congress. I have scrolled though thousands of wire photos, spoken to people who have worked with and for her, read her autobiography, listened to her fans and her critics.

And what I have discovered is a person whom I like very much.

Not a perfect person. Not even a perfect candidate. I am not distressed by people who have legitimate criticisms of Hillary Clinton and some of the policies she has advocated; I share those criticisms.

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Is any person or candidate perfect?

What is distressing to me is that I see little evidence of that person in the public narratives about Hillary Clinton. Not everyone has the time nor the desire to deep-dive into documents the way that I have. If I hadn’t had a professional reason to do so, I may not have done it myself.

I may have—and did, before I was obliged otherwise—relied on what I learned about Hillary Clinton from the media.

Which, as it turns out, is deeply corrupted by pervasive misogyny.

The subtle misogyny of double-standards that mean she can’t win (even when she does), and the overt misogyny of turning her into a monster, a gross caricature of a ruthlessly ambitious villain who will stop at nothing in her voracious quest for ever more power.

Please go read the rest. I only wish I could quote the whole thing.

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Emily Crockett at Vox: This awful Morning Joe clip shows how not to talk about Hillary Clinton.

MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Wednesday featured a tone-deaf discussion of Hillary Clinton’s tone, which you can watch in full here.

“She shouts,” journalist Bob Woodward said of Clinton. “There is something unrelaxed about the way she is communicating, and I think that just jumps off the television screen.”

That kicked off an eight-minute, slow-motion train wreck of a conversation that used Clinton’s alleged problems with volume to support arguments about how voters find her untrustworthy — and even to suggest that Clinton doesn’t know or trust herself as a person.

“I’m sorry to dwell on the tone issue,” Woodward said later, “but there is something here where Hillary Clinton suggests that she’s almost not comfortable with herself, and, you know, self-acceptance is something that you communicate on television.”

Host Joe Scarborough compared Clinton unfavorably to 1980s conservative icons Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, both of whom were apparently self-confident enough to keep the noise down.

“Has nobody told her that the microphone works?” Scarborough said. “Because she always keeps it up here.” The “genius” of Reagan, Scarborough said while dropping into a deep baritone for emphasis, is that Reagan “kept it down low.”

The panel also included Cokie Roberts talking about how people think Hillary Clinton is untrustworthy and dishonest. Gee I wonder where they got that idea, Cokie?

I’m running out of space already. I’ll put some more links in the comment thread. We’ll have a live blog tonight for the MSNBC Democratic Debate.

 


Iowa Caucus Monday Reads

Let the Games Begin!!!

Waverly_iowaToday are the Iowa Caucuses that will likely make or break a lot of the more iffy candidates hanging on to the slim hope that somebody takes them seriously.  Iowa first is a long tradition with some interesting twists. Some of the things that I learned so far in the 2016 silly season include the idea of a “kiddie table” debate and that pundits take Uber and that all those Iowa Uber drivers seem to be the source of anecdotal evidence on voting patterns.

This Iowa Caucus is not the Iowa Caucus of my parents. My father was the Ford Dealer in Council Bluffs, Iowa for over 25 years.  They voted in the same elementary school where I practiced “duck and cover” during the Cuban Missile Crisis and saw my second grade teacher Miss Irma Long cry as she announced we’d be sent home because our President, Mr. Kennedy, had been shot in Texas.  Most of the candidates of the ilk we have today would’ve been a really odd sight on the stump back then.

I can only imagine what my parents and their friends would say if this crazy looking man from Northern Louisiana showed up looking as he does–which is like someone who’s been lost on an island for years ranting crazily from too much sun–to rally for a candidate. But, the same group of Baptists that harassed one of my father’s clerks for doing laundry on Sunday because they saw the steam coming out of the dryer vent is probably uber excited about Ted Cruz and the duckstasy of religious fever.  They want to holy roll all gay marriage supporters off the planet, I guess.

While stumping in Iowa for Ted Cruz on Sunday, “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson declared that gay marriage is a sign of growing “depravity” and “perversion” in America.

Robertson, notorious for his racist and anti-gay remarks, said of marriage equality: “It is evil, it’s wicked, it’s sinful and they want us to swallow it.”

“We have to run this bunch out of Washington D.C.,” Robertson said. “We have to rid the earth of them. Get them out of there.”

Cruz followed Robertson on stage, calling the reality TV star “a joyful, cheerful, unapologetic voice of truth.”

Cruz is in hot water for a number of things.  First, there are many they are still not convinced he meets the “natural born” qualification stated in the Constitution and Donald Trump mentions it every chance he can.  Additionally, Cruz has used a push piece that has come under criticism by the Iowa Attorney General. The Strump is making a lot out of Cruz’s possibly illegal mailer.2_0.685694001389844425_osage_iowa

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump condemned mailers sent by Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) presidential campaign over the weekend, which implied Iowa voters had violated election law.

The mailer, which uses social pressure to urge potential voters to the polls, “grades” Iowa voters on their voting history — a practice not done by the state.

“I think it’s one of the most disgraceful things I have seen in politics,” Trump told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews on Sunday’s “Hardball.” “When you say violation, and then they’re giving you F’s for your voting records and they’re saying immediately come and vote. I think it’s one of the most horrible things that I have seen in politics.”

You can follow the link to TPM to see an example of the mailer.  Meanwhile, every time Trump uses music, another musician tells him to cut it out.  This time it’s Adele.

The Republican presidential candidate, whose slogan is “Make America great again”, has recently been playing Adele’s hit Rolling In The Deep as his “warm-up” music.

“Adele has not given permission for her music to be used for any political campaigning,” her spokesman confirmed.

It is not the first time Trump has been criticised for appropriating pop songs.

Lawyers for Aerosmith star Steven Tyler sent Trump’s campaign a cease-and-desist letter last year, after the politician played the band’s hit single Dream On at numerous rallies around the US.

The letter said Trump’s use of the song gave “a false impression” he endorsed Mr Trump’s presidential bid.

Trump responded on Twitter, saying he had the legal right to use the song, but had found “a better one to take its place”.

“Steven Tyler got more publicity on his song request than he’s gotten in 10 years. Good for him!” he added.

Blizzard conditions will be heading tonight to my childhood home in Council Bluffs which basically means there will be no fair weather turnout in a good deal of Eastern Iowa.  It also means that youngest daughter will be digging out on Tuesday since she’s out there in the Omaha Boonie Suburbs.

My continued fascination with the parallels between Bernie and the Strump has me thinking on how the both of them seemed to have made the Super Pac and the billionaire donor class appear irrelevant. Trump is self-financing his campaign. Sanders has just passed a record for collecting money from small donors. It’s amazing to watch Jeb Bush struggle for attention while swimming in all that money. 

With billionaire Donald Trump sitting firmly atop the Republican field, the willingness of big establishment donors to underwrite his competitors’ war chests has fizzled.

About 17 donors gave $1 million or more to groups backing Republican presidential candidates in the last six months of 2015, 60 percent fewer than the number who gave that much in the first half of the year, according to Federal Election Commission filings. And outside groups that can accept unlimited contributions accounted for about 27 percent of Republican fundraising in the second half, down from 78 percent.

Many donors contributed large sums early to create the perception that their candidate was financially viable to go the distance. Now, with the first-in-the-nation caucuses taking place today in Iowa and several other primaries happening in the coming weeks, much of that money isn’t being replenished as candidates enter a grueling and expensive phase of the campaign.

“Part of this is the Trump effect,” said Tony Corrado, a government professor at Colby College. “Some major establishment Republican donors are undoubtedly waiting to see which candidate will emerge as the best alternative to Trump.”

For some, that’s already begun. Marco Rubio, who has emerged as the leading establishment candidate in recent months, won the backing of two major conservative hedge fund donors — Paul Singer and Ken Griffin — each of whom gave $2.5 million in late 2015 to a super-PAC supporting Rubio, Conservative Solutions PAC.

Rubio’s also winning over some big money that previously backed Bush, who, as a frequent target of Trump’s jibes, has struggled to get traction with voters. After raising a record $103 million in the first half of the year, the super-PAC supporting Bush, Right to Rise USA, pulled in only $15 million over the next six months, the bulk of it from one donor.

iowa-grantsRubio joins Clinton and Sanders as the top fund raisers.

The former secretary of state brought in over $37 million in the final three months of 2015 and started the year with $38 million in the bank. At the same time, the campaign spent $35 million in those three months. She continues to benefit from millions of dollars raised by her super PACs, including Priorities USA, which said Friday it has raised $50 million through this month. Two other groups supporting Clinton, American Bridge and Correct the Record, brought in an additional $6 million total.

And while Sanders has sworn off super PACs and criticizes Clinton’s largesse, a group run by National Nurses United is backing the Vermont senator regardless and has raised $2.3 million, with about half of that remaining, the group reported.

Clinton’s haul also meant a windfall for the Democratic National Committee and state Democratic parties across the country, who worked with Clinton’s campaign to raise money for the Hillary Victory Fund. In total, Clinton’s campaign raised $18 million for the DNC and state parties.

“We’re heading into the first caucuses and primaries with an organization second to none thanks to the support of hundreds of thousands of people across the country,” said Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager. “We will have the resources necessary to wage a successful campaign in the early states and beyond.”

Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver touted the number of individual contributions — 3.25 million — the campaign has received. “As Secretary Clinton holds high-dollar fundraisers with the nation’s financial elite, our supporters have stepped up in a way that allows Bernie to spend the critical days before the caucuses talking to Iowans about his plans to fix a rigged economy and end a corrupt system of campaign finance,” Weaver said in a statement.

It looks like Hillary and the Strump are the expected winners tonight.  Sanders, Cruz and Rubio all appear poised to close with some delegates since Iowa is not a winner take all state.roseman-covered-bridge

It would be entirely reasonable to presume that Bernie Sanders has momentum in Iowa. He’s gained on Hillary Clinton in national polls. Hekeeps pulling further ahead of Clinton in New Hampshire. And he’s made substantial gains in Iowa relative to his position late last year. December polls of Iowa showed Sanders behind by an average of 16 percentage points; the race is much closer now.

There’s just one problem: Sanders’s momentum may have stalled right when it counts the most.

The Des Moines Register’s Iowa poll released Saturday, for example, had Clinton leading Sanders by 3 percentage points. That means Iowa is close and winnable for Sanders; polling errors of 5 or even 10 percentage points are not uncommon in the caucuses. But it also means that Sanders hasn’t gained on Clinton. The previous Des Moines Register poll, released earlier in January, showed Clinton up by 2 percentage points instead.

The same story holds for other polling companies that have surveyed Iowa twice in January. A couple of these pollsters — American Research Group and Quinnipiac University — show Sanders leading. But they don’t show him gaining; Sanders also led in the previous edition of the ARG and Quinnipiac surveys.

Location_Des_Moines_IowaClinton and Cruz are relying on a substantive ground game and good commit to caucus plans for GOTV activities.  Sanders and Trump are hoping for a large turnout and the ability to overwhelm the caucuses where they do have a base. Cruz appears to be the one Republican with a substantive ground game.  Cruz has a natural base with evangelicals that Trump has somewhat eroded.  Cruz goes after the right wing religious voters.

It’s little more than 24 hours before the pivotal Iowa caucuses begin, and the presidential campaigns are still going strong. Especially for Ted Cruz, who TIME reporter Alex Altman says digs deep to his religious roots to connect with his conservative voters on the trail.

“Ted, the voice of sanity, in this time of calamity!” a voter exclaims at a campaign stop in a public library in northwest Iowa.

Cruz has been touring several towns in Iowa, and is one of the few candidates who planned to stop in all of the state’s 99 counties.

“This is part of Cruz’s strategy to win it the old fashioned way,” Altman said, “which is to go hand-to-hand in small towns, visit people, and tell them why he wants their vote.”

Iowa is primarily a rural state although there are vast differences between the east and western sections of the state.  It is home to several really good universities and to the Amish. There are still plenty of farmers there including the grandfather of my future son-in-law who used to buy his F150s from my dad.   Iowa folks are also very fond of their agriculture and ethanol subsidies.  It’s going to be interesting to see how they weigh in tonight. I’m seeing lots of pictures and shots from places I recognize that don’t seem to have changed much in my 60 years on the planet. Parts of the state do not have reliable wifi still.  There is also a large contingent of immigrants that work the slaughterhouses.   It’s a state that looks like Mayberry in many ways.  We’ll just have to see.

We will be posting a live blog with the returns later tonight.  Caucus doors lock down around 8:30 cst.  The weather will be important as will the intensity of the supporters.  Who do you think is going to win tonight?