Lazy Caturday Reads

Good Morning!!

The Nevada Caucuses will wrap up this afternoon, but thousands of people have already voted. Political pundits have already crowned Bernie Sanders the winner, but that may not be a sure thing.

David Byler at The Washington Post: We lack the data to predict Nevada’s outcome. Be wary of pundits’ gut instincts.

Nobody really knows what’s going on in the upcoming Nevada Democratic caucuses. Sure, we have a little bit of polling to go on — the RealClearPolitics average includes three recent polls, and it shows Bernie Sanders leading the pack at 30 percent, with Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Tom Steyer and Amy Klobuchar all clustered between 16 percent and 10 percent of the vote. But it’s hard to nail down the electorate in a caucus state, and Nevada is flush with the sort of young, Hispanic voters that pollsters often have trouble contacting. So all we really know is that Sanders has a lead, but that he’s not invincible.

In a normal election, this lack of concrete information wouldn’t be a problem: Nobody ever died because they didn’t see enough Nevada polling. But primaries aren’t normal elections. The trajectory of the race is often influenced by media-created “expectations” and narratives about “momentum.” And in Nevada, many political pros will be setting those crucially important expectations using gut feelings and groupthink rather than real information. That’s a riskier undertaking for them than they might acknowledge — and for the voters who listen to them.

Much more at the link.

Harry Enten at CNN: Why Nevada could surprise us.

There have been just eight polls released publicly over the last three months. Two of those were internal polls. Only five of those have been taken since the primary season began a few weeks ago, and of those, a grand total of zero meet CNN standards for publication….

Put all together, Sanders is something around a seven in 10 favorite to win in Nevada. That’s based off of the prediction markets and how good the polling in Nevada has been since 2008 (the first year in which Nevada was one of the first four states to vote). Biden and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg are next with somewhere around a one in 10 chance to win. Everybody has less than a one in 10 shot in Nevada.

Sanders clearly has a better shot than anyone else to win, but a seven in 10 shot is not an overwhelming favorite. It means that there’s a decent chance Sanders won’t win.
The lack of confidence we should have in the Nevada outcome is partially because of the lack of polling data, but also because the polling data has not been particularly predictive in the past.

Since 2008, Nevada has b een a polling wasteland. Looking at all candidates who polled at 10% or better after undecideds were allocated, Nevada polls taken after the Iowa caucuses have had an average error per candidate of 8 points. The 95% confidence interval for each candidate above 10% is something closer to +/- 20 points. That is, to put it mildly, a huge range.

Read the rest at CNN.

Cat Nap – A Pink Chair by the Window, Lara Meintjes

And we can’t forget that early voting has already been going on in many Super Tuesday states. I’ll be voting early here in Massachusetts next week.

Kelly Mena at CNN: Forget Nevada. Almost 2 million votes have already been cast in Super Tuesday states.

Super Tuesday is still more than a week away, but almost 2 million ballots have already been cast — including in delegate-rich California and Texas.

More than 1.3 million vote-by-mail ballots have been returned in California since February 3, according to county data provided by Sam Mahood, a spokesman for Secretary of State Alex Padilla. That’s out of more than 16 million ballots sent out — a flood that allows the vast majority of the state’s more than 20 million registered voters to cast their ballots before March 3.

“The California presidential primary may be on Super Tuesday, but for millions of Californians, it is really Super February,” Padilla said in a news release earlier this month.
California, with 494 delegates at stake — the most of any single state — has taken on new prominence this year after moving its primary date up in the calendar. Democratic candidates need 1,991 to clinch the nomination.

The other big delegate haul up for grabs on Super Tuesday is Texas, with 261 delegates. Almost half a million ballots have already been cast since early and by-mail voting opened on February 18, according to the secretary of state’s office. Texas has more than 16 million registered voters.

Unfortunately, Bernie is also leading in California polls; and he’s so confident of winning Nevada that he has already left to campaign in CA.

Cat on a chair, Diane Hoepner

Two polls released this week in California show Bernie Sanders holding a comfortable lead. The latest poll from The Public Policy Institute of California, released on Tuesday, shows Sanders ahead at 32%, with Joe Biden (14%), Elizabeth Warren (13%), Pete Buttigieg (12%) and Michael Bloomberg (12%) closely knotted in a race for second. Amy Klobuchar stood at 5% in that poll, with Tom Steyer at 3% and Tulsi Gabbard at 1%.

Monmouth University also released a California poll this week. Their poll finds Sanders leading with 24%, Biden at 17%, Bloomberg at 13%, Warren at 10% and Buttigieg at 9%. Behind them, Steyer (5%) and Klobuchar (4%) were about even, with Gabbard at 2%.

Yesterday we learned that Russia is trying to help Bernie win the Democratic nomination. The Washington Post reports:

U.S. officials have told Sen. Bernie Sanders that Russia is attempting to help his presidential campaign as part of an effort to interfere with the Democratic contest, according to people familiar with the matter.

President Trump and lawmakers on Capitol Hill also have been informed about the Russian assistance to the Vermont senator, those people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence.

It is not clear what form that Russian assistance has taken. U.S. prosecutors found a Russian effort in 2016 to use social media to boost Sanders’s campaign against Hillary Clinton, part of a broader effort to hurt Clinton, sow dissension in the American electorate and ultimately help elect Donald Trump.

So Bernie has known this for a month and did and said nothing about it. And he’s not happy with the media for reporting the news. He attacked the Post for reporting the story.

He is also furious with MSNBC for some reason. As far as I can tell, he is getting full support from Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow and Ali Velshi, but I guess he’s angry with some of the guests on the network. Page Six: Bernie Sanders calls out MSNBC over campaign coverage.

Bernie Sanders went ballistic at NBC and MSNBC execs ahead of the Democratic debate this week — jabbing one top TV exec repeatedly in the face with his finger and accusing the networks of offensive negative coverage.

Surging Sanders stormed through the walk-through for the Las Vegas debate, singling out one top producer at the end and aggressively sticking his finger in his face. One shocked witness said, “Bernie marched right up to NBC and MSNBC’s head of creative production and began jabbing his finger right in his face, yelling, ‘Your coverage of my campaign is not fair . . . Your questions tonight are not going to be fair to me.’ ”

Sanders did not hold back as he continued to rant about MSNBC coverage. According to the witness, “The NBC exec told Sanders he would be treated fairly.”

A separate insider confirmed the confrontation, saying Sanders was so steamed he also sparred with MSNBC boss Phil Griffin outside the green room moments before the debate began. “Sen. Sanders stated, ‘Phil, your network has not been playing a fair role in this campaign. I am upset. Is anything going to change? . . . I hope you will do better.’ ”

The Democratic front-runner has been left seeing red over repeated slights against him by liberal MSNBC pundits and hosts, including Chris Matthews, who suggested the senator might cheer socialist executions in Central Park. And Chuck Todd — a moderator of Wednesday’s debate — even quoted a story that described Sanders supporters as a “digital brownshirt brigade.” Todd was also tackled by seething Sanders onstage after the debate: “I do not appreciate your comment about my supporters,” adding the Holocaust reference was “offensive.”

Sanders’ campaign manager Faiz Shakir has said that even Fox News has been “more fair than MSNBC . . . which . . . is constantly undermining the Bernie Sanders campaign.”

There’s no doubt in my mind that Bernie is just a “socialist” mirror image of Trump. But Trump is actually president right now, and he’s undermining democracy in every way he and his thugs can think of. His latest efforts include a Stalinist-style purge of anyone who crosses him and a hostile takeover of the Intelligence community.

The Washington Post: Trump embarks on expansive search for disloyalty as administration-wide purge escalates.

President Trump has instructed his White House to identify and force out officials across his administration who are not seen as sufficiently loyal, a post-impeachment escalation that administration officials say reflects a new phase of a campaign of retribution and restructuring ahead of the November election.

Maine Coon Cat Sitting On Chair, by Rosanne Olson.

Johnny McEntee, Trump’s former personal aide who now leads the effort as director of presidential personnel, has begun combing through various agencies with a mandate from the president to oust or sideline political appointees who have not proved their loyalty, according to several administration officials and others familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

The push comes in the aftermath of an impeachment process in which several members of Trump’s administration provided damning testimony about his behavior with regard to Ukraine. The stream of officials publicly criticizing Trump’s actions frustrated the president and caused him to fixate on cleaning house after his acquittal this month.

“We want bad people out of our government!” Trump tweeted Feb. 13, kicking off a tumultuous stretch of firings, resignations, controversial appointments and private skirmishes that have since spilled into public view.

The New York Times: Richard Grenell Begins Overhauling Intelligence Office, Prompting Fears of Partisanship.

Richard Grenell’s tenure as the nation’s top intelligence official may be short-lived, but he wasted no time this week starting to shape his team of advisers, ousting his office’s No. 2 official — a longtime intelligence officer — and bringing in an expert on Trump conspiracy theories to help lead the agency, according to officials.

Mr. Grenell has also requested the intelligence behind the classified briefing last week before the House Intelligence Committee where officials told lawmakers that Russia was interfering in November’s presidential election and that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia favored President Trump’s re-election. The briefing later prompted Mr. Trump’s anger as he complained that Democrats would use it against him.

Joseph Maguire, the former acting director of national intelligence, and his deputy, Andrew P. Hallman, resigned on Friday. Mr. Grenell told Mr. Hallman, popular in the office’s Liberty Crossing headquarters, that his service was no longer needed, according to two officials. Mr. Hallman, who has worked in the office or at the C.I.A. for three decades, expressed confidence in his colleagues in a statement but also referred to the “uncertainties that come with change.”

The ouster of Mr. Hallman and exit of Mr. Maguire, who also oversaw the National Counterterrorism Center, allowed Mr. Grenell to install his own leadership team.

Much more at the WaPo link.

Finally, here’s a deep dive into Trump’s attack on our National Security by Garrett Graff at Wired: How Trump Hollowed Out US National Security.

While vacancies and acting officials have become commonplace in this administration, the moves by President Donald Trump this week represent a troubling and potentially profound new danger to the country. There will soon be no Senate-confirmed director of the National Counterterrorism Center, director of national intelligence, principal deputy director of national intelligence, homeland security secretary, deputy homeland security secretary, nor leaders of any of the three main border security and immigration agencies. Across the government, nearly 100,000 federal law enforcement agents, officers, and personnel are working today without permanent agency leaders, from Customs and Border Protection and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement to the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

All the posts, and many more top security jobs, are unfilled or staffed with leaders who have not been confirmed by the Senate. Trump has done an end-around, installing loyalists without subjecting them to legally mandated vetting and approval by Congress.

Trump’s surprise ouster of Maguire, who took over as acting director of national intelligence last summer, came apparently in a tantrum over a congressional briefing that outlined how Russia is already trying to interfere with the 2020 election and help reelect Trump.

But understanding the true cost of Maguire’s firing requires understanding how the role first came to be. The director of national intelligence position was created after 9/11 specifically to coordinate the work of the nation’s 17 intelligence agencies and help “connect the dots” on disparate data and threats, work that wasn’t done before September 11, 2001. DNI is an immensely challenging job that includes serving legally as the president’s top intelligence adviser, and traditionally involves giving the president’s daily briefing on potential threats.

Graff also address Trump’s destruction of the Department of Homeland Security–including FEMA. I hope you’ll read the whole article.

Have a great weekend, Sky Dancers! As always, this is an open thread.


Tuesday Reads: Berning It All Down

Bernie bros getting ready to burn it all down

Bernie bros getting ready to burn it all down

Good Afternoon!!

Once again, I’ve been sitting here for hours trying to figure out where to begin a post on what’s happening in the news today. So far May has been so terrible for me personally and for my family that I can barely deal with the insanity that is happening in the world of politics. Has it ever been this bad before? I suppose it has, but somehow this election year seems so tawdry, so ugly, so ridiculous, and so horrifying that it’s hard to find a comparison, at least in my lifetime.

Hillary Clinton, one of the most qualified candidates for POTUS ever, is being forced to deal with two insane old white men who are using lies and conspiracy theories to try to bring her down as well as an irresponsible media full of “journalists” who want nothing more than to see her shamed and brought low. If they could get away with burning her at the stake, I believe they would do it without hesitation. I’m not alone. I found this in my Twitter feed:

It is well past time for Bernie Sanders to drop his vicious attacks on Hillary and the Democratic Party, but it has become clear that he is not going to do it. I’m beginning to believe that he actually wants to help elect Donald Trump so that “the revolution” he (Sanders) has dreamed of all of his life will come to fruition.

Bernie is delusional, and I don’t think the Democrats in DC realize the extent to which he has begun to live in his own fantasy world. I don’t think he is going to stop his attacks, and I would not be at all surprised if he tries running third party. I hope and pray that I’m just catastrophizing because of my own stress level.

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One of the first things I clicked on this morning was a link on Memeorandum to Cannonfire: A sin against democracy. It’s a rant about what has become of Salon. You need to read the entire post, but here’s an excerpt:

Salon has become something worse than Fox. Comparing the two, I’m reminded of Steve Martin’s great line from Leap of Faith: “Manipulators are sneaky. I’m obvious!” Fox, at least, has the virtue of being obvious.

Here’s the truth: The Clinton Foundation is a charity. Watchdog groups consider it transparent and honest. It does an enormous amount of good. Liars have painted a completely false picture of that Foundation, what it does and how it runs. (They’ve also seeded the internet with utterly bogus stories about how much money actually reaches the needy.)

The attacks on the Clintons Foundation mirror the infamous “swiftboat” attacks on John Kerry’s war record. That, too, was a Republican smear campaign designed to target an opponent’s strength.

If people like Rove, Stone, Atwater — and the writers for Salon — had been around in 1960, they would have found ways to make people believe that JFK had acted abominably in the PT109 affair. I’m not sure how they would have created that impression, but casuistry can achieve miracles.

While you’re at Cannonfire, you can also check out Joseph Cannon’s previous post: 50 reasons why Sanders would lose all 50 states.

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Yesterday the DNC let Bernie pick five of his supporters to be on the platform committee at the Democratic Convention in July. I’ll give him this much credit: he didn’t name Susan Sarandon or Rosario Dawson.

Sanders’s slate includes James Zogby, a longtime activist for Palestinian rights as well as a DNC member and official. Zogby currently co-chairs the party’s resolutions committee. His inclusion is a sign of Sanders’s plans to push the party’s policy on Israel toward what he has called a more even-handed approach to the Palestinian cause….

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, who will chair the committee, was named by Wasserman Schultz. Most others named by Wasserman Schultz and Clinton are party stalwarts or Clinton supporters — the establishment Sanders has railed against to great effect. Sanders’s picks include people from outside the usual sphere of party influence, including a Native American activist and author and racial justice activist Cornel West….

Sanders also named Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, among his most prominent elected backers, author and environmental activist Bill McKibben and Native American activist Deborah Parker….

The Clinton campaign’s choices are Wendy Sherman, a former top State Department official and Clinton surrogate; Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress and a longtime Clinton confidante; Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez of Illinois; Carol Browner, a former director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy and former head of the Environmental Protection Agency; Ohio state Rep. Alicia Reece; and Paul Booth of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union.

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I wonder if Cornell West will ask for inclusion of a plank containing some of his most outrageous attacks on President Obama? Read examples at the links below.

Cornel West: Obama Is First ‘Niggerized’ Black President, by Karoli Kuns.

The Ghost of Cornel West, by Michael Eric Dyson.

Bernie Sanders should be invisible at this point, but he just won’t stop screaming for attention, and neither will his abhorrent surrogates. Rosario Dawson was in fine form in California yesterday. The Daily Mail:

Actress Rosario Dawson told Bernie Sanders supporters this afternoon that winning the White House is only the beginning of the political revolution.

It’s time for a ‘clean sweep,’ she said.

‘It’s time for us to start looking at everyone down the ballot and go, “Are you really representing us?’ Dawson said at this afternoon at a Sanders rally in East LA. ‘Who are these superdelegates? Who are these Congress people and these senators – are they really with you?’

Dawson told the California crowd, ‘We need to reform, not conform.’ ….

At a rally later in the day for Sanders in Santa Monica she said ‘when they’re telling us that your vote doesn’t matter right now, but on the side they’re talking about party unity, what they’re really telling you’ is to conform….

Dawson intimated this afternoon as she campaigned for the U.S. senator in California ahead of the June 7 primary that the rest of the Democratic Party establishment ought to watch its back, too.

‘We need to vote together. They’re gonna do anything and everything in their power to stop you from doing that,’ she said, ‘to say that it doesn’t matter.’

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Tommy Christopher at Mediaite: Rosario Dawson Thinks Prince’s Ghost Will Help Bernie Win California or Something.

Rosario Dawson, last seen bringing up Monica Lewinsky at a rally in Delaware [is now] somehow connecting a predicted Bernie Sanders win in the California Democratic primary to the birthday of recently-deceased music legend Prince. To cries of “Down with Hillary!”, Dawson explained that Bernie’s appeal to Republicans, Democrats, and independents meant that they were all going to “vote purple,” so,

So actually, I think it’s quite fitting that on June 7, the day that we’re going to win California, that that would’ve been Prince’s birthday.

Bernie is never going to go away. Never.

Meanwhile Donald Trump is doing his darndest to swiftboat Hillary with tired 1990’s attacks on her husband Bill, who is not running for anything. When will the mainstream media start writing about what Trump’s campaign is really about?

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TPM Muckraker: Great White Hope: Trump Unites Generations Of White Nationalists.

According to Taylor, this year’s conference saw a 100-person jump in attendance from 2015; a show of hands identified half of the participants as first-time attendees and one-third as under the age of 30.

This is the man Bernie Sanders is helping–presumably because he thinks a Trump presidency will trigger a left-wing “political revolution.”

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More links to explore:

NYT: Kenneth Starr, who tried to bury Clinton, now only praises him.

Business Insider: Bill O’Reilly confronts Donald Trump over Bill Clinton attacks: ‘I’m not sure that’s a good idea.’

NBC News: Obama Hits Highest Job Approval Since Second Inauguration.

Right Wing Watch: Trump ‘Christian Policy’ Adviser Is A ‘Prophet’ Who Stopped A Tsunami, Says AIDS Is Result Of ‘Unnatural Sex.’

TPM: Sanders: It’s ‘Insulting’ For Clinton To Decline Fox News Debate.

Amanda Marcotte: Bernie insults voters: He must drop notion that everyone who disagrees with him is corrupt or a dupe.

Hollywood Reporter: Bernie Sanders’ Campaign Drops Tommy Chong as Intro Speaker Hours Before L.A. Rally.

Dana Millbank: Donald Trump, the welfare king.

What stories are you following today? Please share in the comment thread below.