Friday Afternoon Reads

Good Afternoon!

imageIt took me awhile today to get going so I’m a little later on this than usual.  Miles snuck outside for a big adventure late last night and I got rather clawed up trying to bring him back in.  He’s a total love bug and not usually like that but he drew blood and it was not fun. Today, he’s back to his genial self but sometimes when his blood sugar gets a little out of whack from the diabetes he can get mighty testy about things. My animals are not outdoor animals so I freak when any of them gets loose. My left hand is pretty shredded up and bruised so using a keyboard is not very comfortable for me and sleeping was difficult last night. So, any way blame this late, short post on feisty old Miles.  He’s got me sleepy and cranky today.

I really enjoyed Paul Krugman’s blog today on the Pastrami Principle.  I could tell from the comments that a lot of Bernie supporters were bristling at the comparison between Bernie’s continual discounting of Southern Democratic Primary voters to that kind of description that comes from also-ran right wing populist Sarah Palin and her choice for President for 2016, Donald Trump.image

As Krugman points out, Sanders is trying to make an argument for Super Delegates to discount the popular vote which shows Clinton way ahead.  He is doing this on the back of Southern Democrats.  This is the second time he’s done this which is why it’s the second time I’m blogging about it.

But how can the campaign make the case that the party should defy the apparent will of its voters? By insisting that many of those voters shouldn’t count. Over the past week, Mr. Sanders has declared that Mrs. Clinton leads only because she has won in the “Deep South,” which is a “pretty conservative part of the country.” The tally so far, he says, “distorts reality” because it contains so many Southern states.

As it happens, this isn’t true — the calendar, which front-loaded some states very favorable to Mr. Sanders, hasn’t been a big factor in the race. Also, swing-state Florida isn’t the Deep South. But never mind. The big problem with this argument should be obvious. Mrs. Clinton didn’t win big in the South on the strength of conservative voters; she won by getting an overwhelming majority of black voters. This puts a different spin on things, doesn’t it?

Is it possible that Mr. Sanders doesn’t know this, that he imagines that Mrs. Clinton is riding a wave of support from old-fashioned Confederate-flag-waving Dixiecrats, as opposed to, let’s be blunt, the descendants of slaves? Maybe. He is not, as you may have noticed, a details guy.

It’s more likely, however, that he’s being deliberately misleading — and that his effort to delegitimize a big part of the Democratic electorate is a cynical ploy.

You should read the entire Op Ed and notice the comments of folks that think Krugman is out of line by comparing the tactics of the left wing populist to his right wing equivalents.  The denial runs deep in the Bernie crowd, but as I’ve blogged before, this has incredible racist overtones since he doesn’t discount the white outbacks that he’s won–like Wyoming, Nebraska, Oklahoma, etc–as not being representative. He prefers to characterize Southern Democrats only.  It drives me nuts.

imageThose of us that watched the Brooklyn Democratic Debate last night saw the campaign conversation get nasty. I was glad to see Hillary hitting back and I have to say that despite pundits calling the debate a tie, I found her to be absolutely presidential. She was tough and called him out on his constant hypocritical charges and his lies.   This is Rebecca Traister writing for NYMAG.

Oh my god, make it stop.

But it isn’t stopping, because Thursday brought Democrats, including me, our fondest wish and dream: another debate!

And from the start it was clear that this whole civil, respectful race had just deteriorated into some kind of nerdy Punch & Judy show, in which everyone screamed at each other, and over each other (and over the moderators) about 501c4s and Dodd Frank.

No, it was not all bad. Even though the crowd was bellowing with the vigor of their Republican brethren, Sanders and Clinton remained high-minded about the content of their debate, and managed to have some meaningful, if nasty, exchanges. On foreign policy, usually a weak spot, Sanders found a revelatory new groove, offering groundbreaking words about the value of Palestinian lives, and our moral responsibility to question Israeli leadership. His remarkable, electorally risky rhetoric was undercut somewhat by the fact that hours before the debate, Sanders had suspended Simone Zimmerman, the Jewish Outreach coordinator whose hiring had been announced just two days earlier, after reports that she had used vulgar language in reference to Benjamin Netanyahu. It was a move, in response to pressure from conservative pro-Israeli groups, that did not allay fears that as president, Sanders’s stated resolve to implement idealistic policy measures might wither quickly in the face of Republican opposition. Still, Bernie was really great on Palestine.

Meanwhile, in a discussion about guns, Clinton pussy-footed around her silly “per capita” line about guns pouring out of Vermont into New York (yep, @ItTakesAVillage92, I know it is technically correct; it is also lame), but did effectively lay into Sanders on his actually crappy stance on guns. Pointing to the fact that her opponent often laments the greed and recklessness of Wall Street, Clinton asked compellingly, “What about the greed and recklessness of gun manufacturers in America?”

Clinton also managed, almost two hours into this interminable thing, to bring up the concentrated attack on reproductive rights across America, a topic that has not been raised in any of the season’s debates so far, earning her a lot of enthusiastic applause and energetic engagement from Sanders on the topic before Dana Bash cut them off to talk some more about meaningless general-election polling.

But all this interesting stuff was hidden in two hours of yelling. Of “YUUGE” jokes and overcooked lines about “before there was Obamacare there was Hillarycare” and excuses about how Jane does the taxes, which makes them very inaccessible when really, guys, it’s been weeks; you can get someone to dig up copies of the tax returns. All that was good was buried beneath a sheen of rancor, culminating perhaps with Sanders circling around his campaign’s current strategic argument that Hillary’s lead in pledged delegates (and votes, and number of states won) is illegitimate because her victories were so decisive in southern states. “Secretary Clinton cleaned our clock in the Deep South,” said Bernie. “We got murdered there. That is the most conservative part of this great country … But you know what, we’re out of the Deep South now. And we’re moving up.” Putting aside the fact that Clinton’s wins have also come in Massachusetts, Florida, and the Midwest, Bernie’s seeming scorn for voters in southern states, who broke for Clinton perhaps not out of conservatism, but because she has so far done a far better job of reaching black voters, was a low point.

 13010843_10209470821551670_4858681463226966450_nYes, he went there again about us Southern Democrats right there in Brooklyn on CNN in front of every one watching.  I belong to a discussion group on Facebook called American Minorities for Hillary. It’s a very diverse group of minorities to include just about every category possible.  I posted the same link to that board as I did down in the comments yesterday which is the second set of analysis from Maddow Blog and Steve Benen on Bernie’s comments. I can unequivocally state that all the Southern Democrats on the board of all shapes and sizes along with a lot of others recognized the tweet of a racist dog whistle.

Bernie Sanders told “Nightly Show” host Larry Wilmore at a taping Wednesday evening that scheduling Southern states early in the Democratic primary “distorts reality.” […]
“Well, you know,” Sanders said, “people say, ‘Why does Iowa go first, why does New Hampshire go first,’ but I think that having so many Southern states go first kind of distorts reality as well.”

Iowa and New Hampshire go first.  Then, Nevada.  Tell me how those states represent the diversity that is this country.  South Carolina goes 4th. Again, are voters in Kansas, Idaho and Utah and more representative? This is why I’m glad the extremely diverse state of New York goes next.  You notice he never mentions that he lost Massachusetts which is probably one of the top five most liberal states in the country and he doesn’t mention he lost Ohio which is a bit of a US microcosm.  I’m getting tired of being his whipping boy. He’s not attracting Black voters.  He needs to own that and figure out why.

Krugman felt the need to qualify why he hasn’t Felt The Bern on his blog after writing the Op Ed today.picasso-paintings-images-3-background-wallpaper

Today’s column offers an opportunity to say, for the record, why I haven’t been the Bernie booster a lot of people apparently expected me to be. For the business about discounting Clinton support as coming from “conservative states” in the “Deep South” actually exemplifies the problem I saw in the Sanders campaign from the beginning, and made me distrust both the movement and the man.

What you see, on this as on multiple issues, is the casual adoption, with no visible effort to check the premises, of a story line that sounds good. It’s all about the big banks; single-payer is there for the taking if only we want it; government spending will yield huge payoffs — not the more modest payoffs conventional Keynesian analysis suggests; Republican support will vanish if we take on corporate media.

In each case the story runs into big trouble if you do a bit of homework; if not completely wrong, it needs a lot of qualification. But the all-purpose response to anyone who raises questions is that she or he is a member of the establishment, personally corrupt, etc.. Ad hominem attacks aren’t a final line of defense, they’re argument #1.

I know some people think that I’m obsessing over trivial policy details, but they’re missing the point. It’s about an attitude, the sense that righteousness excuses you from the need for hard thinking and that any questioning of the righteous is treason to the cause. When you see Sanders supporters going over the top about “corporate whores” and such, you’re not seeing a mysterious intrusion of bad behavior into an idealistic movement; you’re seeing the intolerance that was always just under the surface of the movement, right from the start.

I feel Krugman’s pain.  It’s really hard to watch Bernie and his folks go completely off the deep end on what is and isn’t possible on all levels and to ignore the concerns of women, minorities, and the GLBT community by suggesting all of our problems would be solved by closing all the big banks, giving us medicare for all, free college and a $15 minimum wage. Bernie never has solid answers for any of his policies.  In that way, he is very much like Palin and Trump.  After the ideological rants, there is very little “there there”.

I’ve actually found two somewhat unenthusiastic voters for Bernie that actually sound reasonable about their votes. Their eyes are wide open and they’d reconsider their votes for him in Maryland if it actually looked as though he was going to win.  This is an interesting read at TPM.

I guess a symbolic vote for a symbolic agenda has as much merit as anything I’ve heard from the BernieBro Cult.


So, we have to see what happens on Tuesday.  I’m hoping this puts the Sanders campaign to bed for a long summer’s sleep.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?