Thursday, January 23, 2020
Marc Nozell / Flickr joe biden...

Don’t Count Joe Biden Out, He’s Still In the Game and It’s High Time...

A few days ago when Pete Buttigieg polled number one in Iowa, it was seen as yet another death knell for Joe Biden. Buttigieg’s showing in Iowa is not that surprising, nor that unexpected, given it’s proximity to Indiana. But let us not forget South Carolina, which is another key state, and from the looks of those stats, Uncle Joe is doing just fine. Chris Cillizza, The Point: Two polls released Monday out of South Carolina tell that story. In a Quinnipiac University poll, Biden is at 33% with Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts a distant second at 13%. A University of North Florida poll showed much the same — Biden at 36% with Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont lagging well behind at 10% each. Among black voters in the Quinnipiac poll, Biden took 44% to 10% for Sanders and just 8% for Warren. (South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg received less than 1% of the black vote in South Carolina in the new Q poll. Ouch.) Of the UNF poll, Dr. Michael Binder, faculty director of the Public Opinion Research Lab, said: “Buoyed by his support among African American voters, Biden has an established lead far above the other contenders in South Carolina.” Biden’s lasting strength in South Carolina and with black voters is mirrored in his improving performance in national 2020 polling as well. Biden was in danger of losing his edge over Warren in national 2020 surveys as recently as a few weeks ago. Now? He averages more than 7 points over Warren, according to the polling database maintained by Real Clear Politics. Just last Friday, Barack Obama caught a lot of heat for telling a group of wealthy Democratic donors that it would not be a wise move to be too progressive in the choice of a 2020 candidate. Common Dreams: According to the New York Times, which first reported on Obama’s “too far left” advice: While Mr. Obama did not single out any specific primary candidate or policy proposal, he cautioned that the universe of voters that could support a Democratic candidate—Democrats, independents and moderate Republicans—are not driven by the same views reflected on “certain left-leaning Twitter feeds” or “the activist wing of our party.” “Even as we push the envelope and we are bold in our vision we also have to be rooted in reality,” Mr. Obama said. “The average American doesn’t think we have to completely tear down the system and remake it.” Specifically not mentioned by name but clearly a target of the comments was Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has made the phrase “political revolution” central to his 2020 primary campaign. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, also running for the nomination, was likely another candidate the former president had in mind as she, along with Sanders, has used her campaign to argue that the U.S. political and economic systems are rigged against working people in favor of the wealthy and corporations—a dynamic that is going to need massive “structural change,” the U.S. senator from Massachusetts says, if it is to be undone. Let me be clear. I think Elizabeth Warren is brilliant. Her ideas certainly resonate with me. But I’m with Obama on this one. I think a return to sane government and getting back the White House is where we have to go. I think Obama is right, we need to caution […]
CNN / YouTube Democratic Debate Bernie Sanders explains Democratic...

Bernie bites the hand he wants to feed him.

Maybe it’s just me, but this seems to be getting just a wee ridiculous. We’re still 6 1/2 months from the first primary votes being cast, as everybody likes to tell me whenever I talk about a poll, “It’s early yet!”, and already the recriminations are flying around. In q statement to Politico, Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir dumped a bucket of shit on the heads of the very people the campaign needs for its oxygen, the media; “This isn’t intended to be a sweeping generalization of all journalists,” he told POLITICO, “but there are a healthy number who just find Bernie annoying, discount his seriousness, and wish his supporters and movement would just go away.” OK, chis is cheap, petty, and obnoxious for a number of reasons. For starters, while Shakir disavows making it a “blanket statement,” he goes on to infer that it’s a “healthy number,” clearly indicating he believes it’s a majority of reporters. Second, no responsible journalist would ever allow any personal feelings to seep in and color the way that they cover any candidate. And third, as long as the reporters keeps their feelings to themselves, and out of their reporting, the claim is specious and inconsequential in the first place. This is not the first time that Bernie Sanders and his campaign have jousted with the press. The article points out that in 2016, Sanders complained that the media largely ignored him especially in the early stages of the campaign, ignoring the fact that the media regularly touted his prolific small donor contribution efforts. Worse yet, this is not the first time Sanders has voiced public complaints this early in the campaign. Several weeks ago, when he fell further behind Biden after his campaign announcement, and as Elizabeth Warren started to climb in the polls, Sanders groused that the other candidates were holding him back by “stealing his thunder,” in pushing the same programs and ideas that he pioneered in 2016. This is like Bill Walsh complaining that other NFL teams snaffled his “West coast offense.” The real problem here is that the optics are absolutely terrible. We’ve only had one debate, only 12% of voters have fixed on a single candidate, which means that nobody is out of the game, no votes have been cast, and yet the Sanders campaign is throwing shine all over the place. This tends to lead to two conclusions, both of them negative. Either Sanders is blaming other people for his performance and current standing in the polls, or worse yet, he’s starting to pick scapegoats to blame if his campaign fails. Neither one should be an image the campaign wants to portray, especially this early in the campaign. Look, full disclosure, I’m not a Bernie supporter, but I’m not a Bernie hater either. I am not going to “back” any one particular candidate before the completion of the second debates at the earliest. And if it turns out that Bernie is the candidate, I will certainly vote for him. Anybody who follows politics knows that different candidates often have similar, or nearly identical solutions for major issues. Sanders should be proud that his once “radical” ideas are now a part of the mainstream conversations in the campaign. But rather than blaming everybody else for his current showing, I would […]
Washington Post / YouTube Trump holds rally in Montana...

How democratic IS democracy in South Carolina anyway?

I love this phrase, Free and fair elections are a hallmark of democracy. What the hell is a hallmark anyway? When I hear the word hallmark, I think of two things. One, the most expensive pieces of folded over, colored cardboard in the world, and two, if you make a hallmark, you’re standing around after school with a brush and a bucket of water. Be that as it may, elections with plenty of free choices is suposed to be out thing. But then I remembered something that I think most people have long ago forgotten. Most of you know that I can’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday, but I can remember useless shit by the closet full. And just now I remembered a headline I saw some 8 months ago. The headline on CNN read “South Carolina GOP could forego 2020 presidential primary in support of Trump. The article, dated December 20, 2018 reported that because reports were already swirling around about possible 2020 GOP primary contenders against an already dumpster diving Trump, the South Carolina state GOP was preparing to forego having the presidential primary on the 2020 SC ball out if anybody other than Trump filed the proper paperwork and signatures to get on the ballot.They’d have a standard GOP primary ballot, there just wouldn’t any presidential choices at the top of it. That report surprised the shit out of me at the time. South Carolina is supposed to be redder than a baboon’s ass, and world class Trump country. After all, didn’t they trade in a perfectly good middle aged lecher in hiking boots for a Democrat because Trump felt that there was only room in Washington for one middle aged lecher, regardless of his footwear? What were they so worried about all the way back then, before they even had any names of possible primary opponents? *Full Disclosure* There was nothing in the CNN report to indicate that either Trump or the White House had any involvement in South Carolina’s considerations, this was a hare brained scheme that they had apparently dreamed up all on their own. But it does beg the question, with the primaries more than a year off, and with no announced opposition, why was South Carolina already so worried that an opponent, any opponent, could siphon off 15-25% of SC primary voters away from Trump? To the extent that they were willing to look like an authoritarian state in depriving their citizens any choice in presidential candidates? This bears closer watching, and not just in South Carolina. Things have only gotten worse for Trump, not better, and figure to continue on that trajectory. There is plenty of time for candidates like Weld, Walsh, and even possibly Sanford to gather the required signatures on petitions to get on state ballots, and turn them in. South Carolina is supposed to be Trump country, and they’re already working on a bail out plan. What about not so red states, more traditionally conservative states like New Hampshire, or Massachusetts, where a traditional Republican like William Weld could make a serious fight out of it, if not pull off a stunning upset? Say, what about California? Trump is about as popular as ebola out there, what if he lost a squeaker there, or only narrowly pulled it out? Look, I know that South Carolina is just trying to […]
Wall Street Journal / YouTube Can the Democrats Ride a Blue...

Could 2020 be 2016 on steroids in the primaries?

Nam-myoho-renge-kyo   Meditation enlightenment chant Calm your mind grasshopper, there are many long miles to go until this journey is complete. Or maybe not. Seems to me that we’ve been down this road before, and it turned out to be more of a trip to the mall than a cross country trek. Back in October of 2015, two and a half months before the Iowa caucuses, I posted an article online at Daily Kos, where I predicted that the GOP nomination was Trump’s for the taking. There was no crystal ball required (sorry Marianne Williamson), it was simple math. There were 17 candidates in the GOP field, and Trump was running in the high 20’s to low 30’s, and nobody else was even in double digits. Most, if not all of the early GOP primary states were “winner take all” primaries, which meant that Trump could bank all of the primary delegates from those states with only around 32% of the vote. This would allow him to amass such a huge delegate lead that by the time the field winnowed down, he would be almost impossible to catch. That’s what happened in real time. The problem with a large, unwieldy field is that if a single candidate jumps out to a big lead in the polls, especially in early primary states, he’s halfway there. Because, when people start to drop out, it won’t be the ones closest to the front runner, it will be the ones farthest behind. And when they do drop out, their 1-2% isn’t going to help anybody above them appreciably cut into the front runners lead. And while that culling out process continues, the front runner keeps banking early primary state delegates. I am seeing the same dynamic at play so far in the 2020 Democratic primaries, but with even ore exaggerated implications. There are 24 active candidates as we speak, and well more than half of them are polling at under 4%, most of them at 1-2%. Again, the dropping out of any of these candidates, even two or three at a time are not going to help a second tier candidate to make much of a push upwards. And while in this case, there are other candidates in double digits, namely Sanders, Warren, and in some polls Harris, Biden is near or over double digit leads against them, and 1-2% isn’t going to close the gap much. There are a couple of other factors in play here that weren’t present in the GOP primaries of 2016, and they are going to work against anybody whose last name isn’t Biden. First of all is the trajectory of the primary itself. In most primaries, they are basically popularity contests to start with, between the personas of the individual candidates, as well as their positions on issues. That doesn’t seem to hold true as much this time. Persistent polling shows that the #1 issue for Democratic primary voters is finding the strongest candidate to defeat Donald Trump. As the front runner, Biden is already perceived as having the best shot at beating His Lowness, and any other candidate is going to have to prove that they’re a better option, which is going to be difficult to do unless Biden implodes on his own. And that dynamic plays into another similar aspect. Americans love a […]
WMNF Community Radio / Flickr Joe Biden in Tampa 2011...

For the media, it’s “The land of confusion.”

There’s too many men, too many people, making too many problems. And not much love to go round. Tell me why this is the land of confusion   Genesis, Land of confusion One of the small perks of tuning into FOX News once in a while, other than seeing if Jason Chaffetz’ and Tucker Carlson’s arrest warrants have come through yet, is watching the hosts tiny little Murdoch soaked minds struggle with the simplest of lucid thoughts, until their heads explode like a mosquito whose stinger gets stuck in your arm. I hope this may just be a one-off outlier, but I fear that the mainstream media, led in this case by MSNBC, may be about to struggle themselves with the simplest of concepts. Chris Jansing led off a segment today by saying, “Joe Biden is leading the Democratic primary field, and by a lot, but are the polls masking a lack of enthusiasm among his voters?” Followed by a GOP strategist who said, “I’ve spent days in Iowa, talking almost exclusively to Biden supporters, and not a single one of them was what you could call enthusiastic about voting for him.” OK, now I’m the one whose struggling,  my little head spinning. What is so damn difficult about the above situation? For almost all of my adult life, the #1 political axiom has been Democrats fall in love, Republicans fall in line. Yes, Democrats want liberal ideas and programs, but they want George Clooney to have them, not Steve Buscemi. Meanwhile, the current GOP President looks like the rough artist’s sketch for Hellboy, and Evangelicals are as happy as pigs in slop. What is it about this simple political reality that the mainstream is struggling so mightily with? When the GOP will accept pretty much anybody whose conviction isn’t under appeal to appoint conservative judges, when the Democrats do it, it’s like satellite photos suddenly confirmed the fact that the world is flat! It’s not like they haven’t had sufficient warning that this was coming. Almost from the opening polls, Democratic primary voters have shown a strong majority in that their #1 requirement in a presidential candidate was one who could expedite Trump’s new career in modeling orange jumpsuits. They are even willing to vote for a Democratic candidate with whom they have serious differences on core issues, as long as they send The Mango Messiah packing. So why are they so stunned when a Biden supporter says, “Is Biden my dream choice? Pffft! Not likely. But I know what I’m getting with Joe, and at least he doesn’t want to put up condos in Tora fucking Bora!” My advice to Chris, and the rest of the nattering nabobs in the mainstream media? Get used to it. Back in 2017 Indivisible used the Tea Party playbook to put town hall pressure on GOP legislators to save healthcare, among other things.That worked so well that in 2018, we used it again to flip 40 seats in the House. Why is it so inconceivable that we would do a Bill Belichick and steal another page from the GOP walk through, and actually start to give a shit about electing the candidate we want to do stuff for us. It’s a brave new world out there!

Ten Key Counties That Could Tank Trump In 2020

Okay, it’s past Labor Day and the election ramps up in earnest now. Get out the crystal ball and the tea leaves, because it’s time to participate in the dark arts of political prognostication. As you are painfully aware, the political equivalent of the ten biblical plagues, i.e., the Trump administration, came upon us as the result of 77,000 votes in three swing states. The 2020 battleground is predicted to be even larger, with up to a dozen states in play. However, political scientists and strategists have boiled down the fate of the election to ten key counties, believe it or not. Based on how these ten vote, it’s either more boils and locusts, or salvation, if we can believe the soothsayers. The Hill: Erie County, Pa. “What you have is a working-class county that’s socially conservative,” said Terry Madonna, director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin and Marshall College. “Many Democrats there believe that their party has deserted them and become the party of big cities.”  In 2016, Trump beat Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton there by 1.6 percentage points — about twice the margin by which he won Pennsylvania’s electoral votes. In 2008 and 2012, Obama won Erie County by double-digit margins. Democratic success there will be a sign that the party has bridged the divide with its own voters who feel left behind. Sauk County, Wis. The historical home of the Ringling Brothers circus has become a political circus itself, as once-genteel Wisconsin politics has descended into acrimonious partisanship. […] Sauk County has predicted the winner of Wisconsin’s electoral votes in nine of the past 10 presidential elections. Trump was the first Republican to carry the county in 28 years, when he won it by just 109 votes out of about 30,000 cast. He carried Wisconsin’s electoral votes by about eight-tenths of a percentage point.  Muskegon County, Mich. Today, its economy is dominated by a struggling manufacturing industry and a growing health care sector. Though the county has voted Democratic in every presidential election since 1992, Clinton won it by just 1,200 votes — the closest margin of any county in Michigan, which gave its electoral votes to Trump. “Muskegon will be indicative of the statewide vote in the next election,” said Holly Hughes, who represented the area in the Michigan legislature and served on the Republican National Committee. Maricopa County, Ariz. In 2016, Trump beat Clinton in Maricopa County by just 3 percentage points, a slightly lower margin than his statewide edge. Only one Republican in recent history has won a statewide election without winning Maricopa County. The areas most at risk for Republicans are middle-class precincts where college-educated residents tend to make between $50,000 and $100,000 a year, said Mike Noble, a Republican pollster in Phoenix. “It’s in these suburban areas where we are seeing the biggest shift in party voter preference,” Noble said. “Those [who] are college educated or above is where the GOP is currently hurting.” Tarrant County, Texas “In Tarrant, you still have some of those Country Club Republicans,” said Ed Espinoza, a Democratic strategist who runs the progressive group Progress Texas. “There is a greater discomfort among Republicans with the rhetoric coming from the president and the party in Texas than there might be in Dallas or other places.” Tarrant County hasn’t […]
CBC News / YouTube Twitter bot purge sparks backlash...

Twitter Stabs Facebook, ‘Political Message Reach Should Be Earned, Not Bought’ As It Stops...

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has differentiated Twitter from Facebook in an important way: Twitter has stopped accepting political advertising. The Hill: “It’s not credible for us to say: ‘We’re working hard to stop people from gaming our systems to spread misleading info, buuut if someone pays us to target and force people to see their political ad…well…they can say whatever they want!'” Dorsey wrote in a clear stab at Facebook. This is a very good thing. Twitter is doing what Facebook laughably claims to be doing, which is providing a forum for public discourse, without the profit motive being first and foremost. “We’ve made the decision to stop all political advertising on Twitter globally,” Dorsey wrote in a Twitter thread. “A political message earns reach when people decide to follow an account or retweet. Paying for reach removes that decision, forcing highly optimized and targeted political messages on people. We believe this decision should not be compromised by money.” Twitter’s announcement comes as its much larger rival, Facebook, faces a whirlwind of controversy over its decision to allow misinformation in political advertising. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said at a hearing earlier this month that the platform runs political ads out of a desire to promote public discourse. All of the top Democratic presidential candidates have slammed Facebook over its policies around political advertising, accusing the social media giant of profiting from misinformation. Facebook’s most recent waffling on not having to fact check political ads to assure veracity was indefensible. If there’s one thing Donald Trump could use right now, it’s another platform from which to launch phony facts. Facebook gave every appearance of playing into just that, recently. Facebook is used to being the Goliath of social media. Maybe Twitter’s actions will level the playing field a bit and get some accountability going on. It is devoutly to be wished.
DonkeyHotey / Flickr Donald Trump Caricature...

The GOP divides with race, the Democrats need to unite with it.

All men are created equal. Some are just more equal than others.  Old Joke Most pundits are fond of saying that the 2020 election will be a “base” election. Then again, most pundits, including me, have our heads so far up our asses that we can see our lungs. Reference how many times we’ve all predicted Trump’s certain demise for some stupid thing he’s said or done. But when you come right down to it, every election is a “base” election, who can turn out their base supporters, and hopefully snag a share of the ever dwindling pool of true “independent” or “undecided” voters out there. And 2020 will be no different. But as we all know, raw numbers are not always dispositive. Hillary Clinton garnered almost three million more votes that His Lowness, and yet The Great Pumpkin still occupies the White House, due to the vagaries of an antiquated electoral college system. It’s not always a matter of how many you turn out in electoral politics as where you turn them out. Every time I mention the contention that race is an issue that may not work out well for Trump and the GOP in 2020, I am respectfully reminded in the comments that the use of race is nothing new for the Republicans, in fact, they’ve been thriving on it for more than 40 years. And I have repeatedly agreed with that. But as I remind people, the systemic racism that the GOP has successfully exploited for nearly a half a century comes with a thin veneer of respectability and whitewash to it. Nixon spoke of “law and order,” and Reagan of “welfare queens.” But here’s something else for the race nay sayers to chew on, and it’s something more dispositive. Simple question. If Trump’s vitriolic rhetoric and actions against “shithole countries,” and crumbling, mostly minority large cities, and Mexican drug runners, murderers and rapists are such a 100%, guaranteed winner for the GOP in 2020, hell, even in 2018, then why aren’t more mainstream Republicans in the House and Senate rallying behind Trump with those statements? They aren’t parroting Trump. In fact, they’re fleeing from him, for one simple reason. Because that shit only works for Trump, and with his base. For everybody else out there in GOPland, it’s pure, undiluted poison, and they know it. Race is going to be an issue in this election for one reason, and one reason only. Because Donald Trump made it one. And he’s going to keep right on doing it, to try to keep his base motivated, and the hell with everybody else on the GOP side. But properly used, it can also rev up the Democratic minority base. There’s a damn good reason why Republicans like to claim that Democrats are “playing the race card” all of the time. Because every time the Democrats bring it up, the GOP has just done or said something stupidly racist that they can’t afford to get caught at. A simple reminder. In 2016, Donald Trump won the electoral college by a combined 77,000 votes spread over three states, WI, MI, and PA. A statistical comparison shows that if Hillary Clinton had motivated African American voters in Milwaukee the way that Barack Obama did in 2012, she would have blown Trump out in WI. The same thing with Detroit and Philadelphia. We wouldn’t […]

House Votes Along Tribal Lines, Steve Scalise Calls Rules ‘Soviet Style’

The ball has dropped and it’s an historical day in the House, as it voted formally on a resolution governing the public portions of the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump. The resolution passed 232-196, with two Democrats voting no, no Republicans voting yes, and only Justin Amash, now an Independent but formerly a Republican voting yes. Roll Call: Two Democrats, Reps. Collin C. Peterson of Minnesota and Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, voted “no.” Van Drew has said that while Trump’s behavior has been “distasteful” and makes him “feel uncomfortable,” he doesn’t believe the president has committed any impeachable offenses. It’s unfortunate that this issue has to be a partisan, i.e., “tribal” one, but that is the way that it’s shaking down. And true to form, even though the Republicans have been screaming for a more public impeachment process, now they find fault with the way things are to go forward. House Republicans, to different degrees, have objected to the process run by their Democratic counterparts. Some, like Tom Cole of Oklahoma, the top Republican on the Rules Committee, want Trump to be allowed to have counsel representing him before the Intelligence Committee. Democrats, though, object to that request saying that the panel is gathering facts and that the president will be represented once the probe reaches the Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over articles of impeachment. Ahead of the vote, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana ripped into the resolution. “It gives veto authority by the chair to literally reject any witness that is brought forward by the minority,” Scalise said, standing next to a sign held by a staffer that said “37 days of Soviet-Style impeachment proceedings.” “This is Soviet-Style rules. Maybe in the Soviet Union you do things like this where only you make the rules, where you reject the ability for the person you’re accusing to even be in the room, to question what’s going on. It’s noteworthy that when the Benghazi investigation was going on, Trey Gowdy and other Republicans defended private depositions to the hilt. Gowdy even reiterated his defense of the procedure the other day. However, now that it’s a Republican president who is the object of the investigation, all the other Republicans seem to have forgotten why it’s such a good idea.

Crunch Time

If this kind of news cycle keeps up, soon you can start looking forward to the newest Netflix piece of shit series, Wednesday is the new Friday. This upcoming Wednesday is Robert Mueller’s long awaited, potentially make-or-break-impeachment in front of two House committees, and the following Wednesday, July 31st, is the second and final Democratic Presidential primary debate under the old qualification rules. The face of the Democratic primaries for President will fundamentally change starting on August first. And actually, the scheduling of these two debates is problematic for several of the second tier candidates, although not due to any malevolent, discriminatory intention of the DNC. But there are two reasons why making a lasting impression next week is going to be of critical importance to all of the candidates, especially the second tier candidates. Two things are going to happen after the debates next week. One, in the following week, congress is going to adjourn for their 6 week summer recess.This means two things. One, the impression that the candidates create in the debate is going to have to tide-them-over until sometime in September. And two, while all of those candidates are free to campaign to their little hearts content, nobody is going to be paying the slightest bit of attention! Because they’re all on vacation too, or at least spending all of their time trying to keep the kids from reenacting the Battle of Blenheim in the living room. The second event again is bifurcated. First, in the week after Labor Day, congress will resume their session, and attention will again return to legislative issues. And two, with the kids once again safely shepherded off to school, where they become somebody else’s problem for 8 hours a day, people will finally start turning more serious attention to politics, and the Democratic primary brouhaha. Which, like everything else I’m writing in this article, i both a blessing and a curse for the Democratic contenders. It’s a blessing because, of course the candidates want the public paying more attention to what they’re saying and proposing. But it’s a curse because once again, the timing of the debate in September is problematic. because sadly, any noise that any of the candidates make during the debate is likely to be muted by the impending Saturday night drunken brawl in congress over things like the budget, the debt ceiling limit increase, and a potential government shutdown if His Lowness feels that people aren’t paying enough attention to his Pampers clad ass. Especially for the second tier candidates, making the stage in September is of paramount importance, nothing else matters. Because the mechanics of the debate is going to fundamentally change, they are going to be smaller. Right now, there are currently only six candidates who have already met the requirements to be on the stage in September. It is likely that there may be fewer than ten candidates in  single debate, which will give every surviving candidate more speaking time to make their pitches. And if more than ten candidates qualify, the DNC will be forced to make a choice, either cull out the lowest qualifiers to narrow the stage to ten, which I hope they don’t do, or again hold identical events on simultaneous nights, which would again offer each candidate more speaking time. This is especially important to three current denizens […]

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