Tuesday Reads

Good Morning!!

Just shoot me now. Could we really end up with a general election choice of Sanders vs. Trump? Please tell me this isn’t really happening. The latest NPR/PBS national poll came out this morning.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has opened up a double-digit lead in the Democratic nominating contest, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll.

Sanders has 31% support nationally, up 9 points since December, the last time the poll asked about Democratic voters’ preferences.

His next closest contender has 19%. But that second-place rival is former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Many Americans have become familiar with Bloomberg lately in this race because of his ubiquitous TV ads. But now get ready to see him on the debate stage for the first time Wednesday. With this poll, Bloomberg has qualified for the Nevada debate, despite not being on the ballot there for Saturday’s caucuses.

You read that right. Joe Biden is now in third place, but he’s still running the strongest against Trump.

Third among Democratic voters and Democratic-leaning independents is former Vice President Joe Biden with 15%, down 9 points since December.

The debate Wednesday, as well as Biden’s performance in Nevada Saturday and South Carolina a week later, are critical to whether the former vice president has a real chance at the nomination after disappointing fourth- and fifth-place showings in Iowa and New Hampshire, respectively….

Following Biden is Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 12%, also down from December — by 5 percentage points — after poor showings in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Next is Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar at 9%. She’s up from 4% in December after surprisingly good finishes in the first two contests, and she has leaped ahead of Pete Buttigieg in this national survey.

The former South Bend, Ind., mayor is at just 8%, down from 13% in December, not a good sign for the candidate after very solid finishes in the first two contests [in Iowa and New Hampshire].

Politico reports: Major Latino group backs Sanders on eve of Nevada caucus.

A prominent national Latino group is endorsing Bernie Sanders four days ahead of the caucuses in Nevada, a state with a significant Hispanic electorate.

Mijente, a grass-roots organization that mobilizes Latinx and Chicanx voters, decided to make its first-ever presidential endorsement in response to President Donald Trump’s rhetoric and policies targeting Latinos. The endorsement adds to the growing collection of progressive groups coalescing around the Vermont senator, after earlier expectations they would be divided between him and Elizabeth Warren.

The organization will use its reach on social media, its roughly 1,000 dues-paying members and more than 300,000-person email list to mobilize Latinos to vote and hit the pavement for Sanders in Nevada and other states.

Marisa Franco, director and cofounder of Mijente, said the group’s members picked Sanders after a lengthy process that included sit-downs with multiple candidates. In January, its members voted on four options: endorsing Sanders, Warren, both of them, or no endorsement at all. In the end, 70 percent of its members voted to endorse Sanders.

Of course the powerful Culinary Workers Union in Nevada strongly opposes Sanders’ “Medicare for all” policy. And there’s this Telemundo poll:

Early voting is going on this week in Nevada and will continue until the caucus on Saturday.

Folks, we are in deep deep trouble. We can only hope that someone other than Bernie wins in South Carolina. Unfortunately, that someone could be Bloomberg if Black voters give up on Biden. This entire primary has been a disaster. Tom Perez should resign and slink off into the sunset.

The debate is tomorrow night, so Sanders and Bloomberg will have an opportunity to attack each other in person. I think I’ll skip watching it and just read about it on Thursday.

To give you a sense of how Trump would run against Bernie Sanders, read this piece by Never Trumper Tom Nichols in USA Today: Sanders was ridiculously naive about the Soviet Union. The Trump ads write themselves.

As a Soviet expert and a politically homeless Never Trump voter, I am certain of three things when it comes to Bernie and the Soviets. First, his comments about the USSR show that his judgment is terrible. Second, he will be unable to wave away his comments merely by appending “democratic” to his preferred version of Soviet ideology.

And third, the Republicans will weaponize his remarks, and this will likely cost him the election. Indeed, it would be professional malpractice if Trump’s campaign people passed up this chance. Were I still a Republican and hoping for a GOP win, I could write those ads myself.

…Sanders visited Yaroslavl and other cities — another coincidence, since that is a city I’ve visited as well — in 1988, when the Cold War was nearly over. By that point, Mikhail Gorbachev had been in power for three years and had welcomed Ronald Reagan to Moscow after they both had signed a landmark nuclear arms treaty.

Still, Sanders came back sounding like he had been bamboozled, like so many other credulous Westerners who visited the USSR and took what they were shown by their hosts at face value. Some of the juicier quotes, like the wince-inducing praise of Soviet youth organizations, are already floating around on social media.

Sanders was impressed with the Soviet Union’s government health care program. Nichols was actually part of a group that investigated it.

What we saw was grisly. Patients draining their wounds into open jars of pus. Post-operative infections worse than the problem that required surgery. Reusable metal hypodermics, dirty bedclothes, untended patients wandering about dimly lit hallways.

I saw an operating theater with windows — to the outside. As I looked at the trees and grass while standing next to the surgical table, I asked: “Do you open these? Ever?” When it gets hot, the Soviet doctors replied, nodding.

The American doctor was polite and professional, but at one point he leaned over to me and whispered that this was where American medicine was … in 1890.

The point here isn’t that Sanders should have known more about medicine. Rather, he should have known more about the Soviet Union. Maybe the Soviet health care system was behind by a decade in the best Kremlin hospitals. In the rest of the country, it was behind by a full century.

Of course the details are irrelevant. The Trump gang can just show all the videos of Sanders visiting and praising the Soviet Union.

No matter who wins the Democratic nomination, Trump will cheat again. Former Obama speechwriter Sarada Peri writes in the Atlantic: Trump Is Going to Cheat. How should Democrats fight against a president who has no moral or legal compass?

Democratic primary voters care deeply about electability. What most want is simple: a candidate who can beat President Donald Trump in November. So they worry about whether former Vice President Joe Biden will inspire young people, and about whether Senator Bernie Sanders will scare away old people. They debate whether a political revolution is necessary to energize the base, or whether the revolution will dissuade independents. Will the historic candidacy of a woman or a gay man take off or implode?

But these concerns about policy and broad cultural appeal are secondary to the true “electability” crisis facing whichever Democrat wins the nomination: He or she will need to run against a president seemingly prepared, and empowered, to lie and cheat his way to reelection….

If past is prologue, Trump will say absolutely anything necessary to attract and maintain support, including patent untruths. His pathological lying has been well documented and yet never ceases to stun….

How can Democrats run against a candidate who will simply deny his unpopular positions and make up nonexistent accomplishments? No amount of fact-checking can counter his constant stream of mendacity, which has become white noise in our political culture.

Peri enumerates all the ways Trump will cheat, and he will probably find others. I kept reading to learn her recommendations for how to deal with this, and I didn’t find any. Here’s her concluding paragraph:

Electability, ultimately, cannot rest on the shoulders of whomever the party nominates, talented though that person may be. Electability does not depend, simply, on the nominee’s ability to earn the votes of a wide array of Americans in a few battleground states. It depends on all Americans’ willingness to demand an election that is, indeed, free and fair.

Good luck with that.

I’m sorry to sound so discouraged but all we need is another narcissistic screamer who has no clue how to accomplish anything through legislation. Would Bloomberg be better? I don’t know. I can’t stand to think about it anymore today.

Stories to check out, links only:

USA Today: Federal judges’ association calls emergency meeting after DOJ intervenes in case of Trump ally Roger Stone.

The Washington Post: Jeff Bezos commits $10 billion to fight climate change.

Quinta Jurecic and Benjamin Wittes at The Atlantic: Imagine If a Democrat Behaved Like Bill Barr.  What would the attorney general say were a future administration to follow his lead?

Rebecca Traister at New York Magazine: The Immoderate Susan Collins: After a long career voting across the aisle, why did the Maine senator gamble her legacy on Trump?

AP: Homeland Security waives contracting laws for border wall.

Raw Story: Trump’s grab for border wall funds could backfire spectacularly in a key swing state.

Financial Times letter to the editor: George Soros: Remove Zuckerberg and Sandberg from their posts.

That’s all I have for you today. What stories are you following?

13 Comments on “Tuesday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

  2. bostonboomer says:

  3. bostonboomer says:

  4. Pat Johnson says:

    Let’s face it: America is in a free fall and there is really not a hell of a lot we can do to stop it,

  5. bostonboomer says:

  6. bostonboomer says:

    Amy Berman Jackson conference call on Stone case.

  7. jslat says:

    When will they learn? While Sander supporters coalesce, the moderates continue to split the vote. I hope that one moderate candidate will emerge to overtake Sanders.

    • quixote says:

      The split, frankly, is because there are enough Dems with hostile sexism (term used by research that studied core attitudes of supporters of different candidates). That was, by a large margin, the core of support for both Bernie and Biden.

      Bloomberg became a factor after that research, so it could just be “God get me out of here Never Trump” with him.

      But Harris, Warren, Klobuchar, and Gillibrand were from the start the best qualified. Castro, Inslee, and Booker were strong candidates too. Most of them would have also been dynamite at getting out the vote.

      The media and enough voters –and I guess that idiot Tom Perez — decided they weren’t “safe” and here we are. Staring at a Bernie plurality and a devastating election loss because women have had it with voting for the sexists because they won’t vote for us.

  8. dakinikat says:

    He’s lawless …

  9. quixote says:

    “Would [X] be better? I don’t know. I can’t stand to think about it anymore today.”

    Yup. Me too.