Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Party leaders in the dark about how to deal with candidates' lack of party "loyalty"

Democratic insiders tend to be institutionalists. They are more likely than ordinary voters to care about the fact that Sanders hasn’t always been a registered Democrat, that he often criticizes party officials, and that he didn’t do more to help Clinton in 2016. -- Atlantic
As Bernie Sanders and Mike Bloomberg surge to the top of the polls, and party favorite, Joe Biden continues to sink like a stone, Dem leaders are crying foul. "They're not really Democrats", they shout, pointing to Sanders' history as an independent and Bloomberg's as a Republican.

Actually, Sanders, the self-described socialist has always caucused with Senate Democrats while Bloomberg, a lifelong Democrat before seeking elective office, switched his party registration in 2001 to run for mayor as a Republican. Yes, I know. It's hard to imagine the billionaire autocrat Bloomberg as anything but a Republican and he really isn't.

Case in point. Amid one of the most pivotal campaigns in the country in 2016, one many thought could decide control of the Senate, Bloomberg poured millions of dollars into the contest — to help Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey.

Each of them recently has in fact, sworn fielty to the eventual nominee with Sanders signing a loyalty pledge and Bloomberg offering to donate a much as $1 billion to the eventual nominee's campaign, even if it's not him.

That being said, the charge of party disloyalty doesn't seem to be hurting either of them in the primary and in fact, might even be helpful with white suburban Democrats who just want to beat Trump, or in some of the battleground states where the aroma of the disastrous Hillary Clinton campaign still lingers.

Sanders spokesperson, David Sirota on party loyalty:

Monday, February 17, 2020


Wow! Cool photo from Daytona 500, posted by Trump's campaign manager. Only problem is, it's from 16 years ago. 

Common at the All-Star Game
"If this city could talk..." -- NBA on TNT
James Taylor
"It’s like the Confederacy has won the civil war.” -- Guardian
1,143 former Justice Dept. officials
Each of us strongly condemns President Trump’s and Attorney General Barr’s interference in the fair administration of justice...Governments that use the enormous power of law enforcement to punish their enemies and reward their allies are not constitutional republics; they are autocracies. -- DOJ Alumni Statement
Bernie Sanders 
“It is unacceptable that we are closing public schools in the wealthiest country in the history of the world. Together alongside Washington Teachers’ Union and teachers across the country, we will make transformative investments in our public schools, our teachers, and students.” -- Washington Post
Amy Klobuchar
Q: Do you even know the Mexican President's name?
 A: No -- Noticias

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Dems being played by Trump. Now they're echoing his attacks on Bernie.

Bernie Sanders got more young voters in New Hampshire than everyone else combined/
Bernie Sanders Is The Front-Runner For Democratic Nomination. The democratic socialist is assembling a broad coalition of voters. -- Huffpost 
"I don't understand how Bernie is considered a frontrunner' after New Hampshire primary." -- Chuck Todd, MSNBC
Donald Trump is still the tail wagging the Democratic dog. His every tweet has Dems running from pillar to post in shock-and-awe.

Whether it was calling nazi thugs in Charlottesville "fine people"; or ICE agents raiding communities and separating thousands of immigrant children from their parents on the southern border; or now, the Stone sentencing outrage. Each outrage was going to be the big thing that would break Republicans away by, in the words of Chuck Schumer, putting them in touch with their "better angels."

When the needle didn't budge, they turned to impeachment, certain that the Ukraine quid-pro-quo scandal would resonate with disenchanted swing voters and peel off a section of Republicans. It was also hoped that the impeachment trial would boost the campaign of their chosen one, Joe Biden, while keeping their progressive opposition, Sanders, and Warren, out of the media spotlight.

It didn't. They didn't.

The good news, at least from my perspective, is that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi now says that she is jumping back off the impeachment train-to-nowhere and will be refocusing the party away from the Ukraine shitshow (which probably hurt Biden as much or more than it did Trump) and on to "economic issues." Up til now, Dems have conceded them to Trump.

According to Politico:
To further underscore that point, Pelosi hosted a special speaker’s meeting on Tuesday with a top Obama economics adviser to explain to Democrats why the economy isn’t actually as strong as Trump claims and how they can message that to voters.
 “I’m glad that we’re shifting and pivoting to something else. Every time I poll in my area, it’s always the same thing: education, health care and the economy,” said Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas, who is facing a fierce primary challenger from the left in his sprawling south Texas district.
 “Impeachment didn’t move the needle ... so continuing to focus on that target, you’re not going to convince anyone at this point,” said Rep. Ron Kind of Wisconsin, who represents a Trump-district. Kind said Trump’s real problem is in states that are key to his reelection, like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, where some haven’t benefited from the president’s economic good fortune.
But the risk for Pelosi and the DNC is that a focus on the economy and the environment will strengthen Bernie Sanders, who they currently see as a greater threat to their power than they do Trump himself.

Yes, you read me right. Despite recognition of the fact by both camps that without party unity, it will be impossible to beat Trump in November, party leaders and media allies are doing everything possible to make post-primary unity impossible.

First, they have become an echo for Republican red baiters. Check out one of their media faves, Chris Matthews, raising the specter of Bernie's commie assassination squads.
Leading up to Sanders’s win this week in New Hampshire, Matthews truly lost it, implying that Sanders would cheer on his public execution: “I have an attitude towards [Fidel] Castro,” Matthews explained. “I believe if Castro and the Reds had won the Cold War there would have been executions in Central Park and I might have been one of the ones getting executed. And certain other people would be there cheering, okay?” -- Vice
Second, they have targeted Sanders' young activist base harder than Sanders himself, calling his supporters "Bernie Bros" and "a mob." This, even knowing that without these young activists, the party has little chance of pulling off the kind of mobilization necessary to win in November.

DNC surrogate & AFT Pres. Randi Weingarten has been leading the attack on the Sanders activists often referring to them as a "mob." Here she retweets this post by Kurt Bardella, a media strategist who previously worked as a spokesperson for Breitbart News:
Virtual lynch mobs are not something people of color or women — or anyone — should have to just live with.
Third, they are using their control of the party apparatus to tilt things in favor of their chosen candidate(s) and diminishing Sanders' primary victories in their media spin. Think Iowa and Chuck Todd's quote at the top of this column.

But here's the thing...Without young voters and a huge turnout of voters of color, a Democratic win is virtually impossible. The votes in Iowa and NH show that Bernie has the youth vote behind him. He got more young voters in New Hampshire than everyone else combined. Those are the foot soldiers every presidential campaign needs to turn out the vote.

They may not be enough to assure a win in November. But the Democrats sure can't win without them.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Only losing candidates will take black voters for granted

Biden's support is sliding among black voters. -- Washington Post
Just to be clear, at this point in the race I support Bernie Sanders. First, because his politics are closest to my own and secondly because current polls show he is among those who have the best chance of defeating Trump, head-to-head. In the final election, I will vote for whoever the Democratic nominee is, even if I have to hold my nose while doing it.

The latest Quinnipiac poll has Trump at 42% and losing to every potential Democratic nominee

Bloomberg 51 - 42
Sanders 51 - 43
Biden 50 - 43
Klobuchar 49 - 43
Warren 48 - 44
Buttigieg 47 - 43

Of course, I never underestimate the Democrats' ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, especially in the battleground states where Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election by not campaigning and working to turn out voters of color in cities like Detroit and Milwaukee.

But these numbers also belie the claim, repeated over and over by DNC leaders, that Sanders can't win and that their chosen one, Joe Biden, is the only candidate that can beat Trump.

Biden's claim to DNC's chosen-one status is based on the premise that he has the black vote in his pocket. But I wouldn't be so sure. That same poll shows Michael Bloomberg cutting into those numbers.
While Biden is still holding onto his lead among black voters, according to the poll, his support has plummeted from 49 percent before the caucuses to 27 percent. Bloomberg, meanwhile, has rocketed into second place among black voters, with 22 percent support compared to 7 percent late last month. -- Politico
I'm no fan of the oligarch, stop-and-frisk Bloomberg, but I can understand why this is apparently happening. Rev. Jesse Jackson offers a plausible explanation in an op-ed appearing in both Chicago papers this morning.
Democrats can’t inherit the black vote. Joe Biden is finding that his support for mass incarceration legislation costs votes. Pete Buttigieg is discovering that the opposition of black leaders in his own city amid failure to reform the police costs at the national level. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are learning that relationships in the black community have to be built over time, not simply forged by championing bold economic reforms.
Speaking of Sanders and Warren -- favorites of this city's progressive voters (including this one) -- they really blew it when it came to getting a key endorsement of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Neither candidate bothered to meet with the city's popular black, female, gay mayor and even ask for her endorsement.

They both came into town to show support for the CTU strikers (good on them) but got caught up in the wave of vicious personal attacks and overheated rhetoric directed at the mayor by CTU leaders and especially by AFT Pres. Randi Weingarten. Fearing a loss of the union's endorsement, they each left town without paying any respect to Lightfoot, who has become a key figure in state and national Democratic Party politics.

Now, they will likely neither receive endorsements from the union nor the mayor. The CTU has decided not to endorse anyone. With members split between Sanders and Warren, a CTU endorsement would mean little. It didn’t mean a thing in the 2019 mayoral race under similar circumstances when CTU-backed Toni Preckwinkle lost to Lightfoot in every ward in the city.

But Bloomberg, who has some appeal to big-city mayors because of the resources he brings as well as his strong stand on gun control, was smart enough to visit with Chicago's mayor, sparking rumors that Lightfoot would endorse him.

Bloomberg has racked up more endorsements from mayors in the 100 largest U.S. cities than any other candidate. D.C.'s African-American, female mayor Muriel Bowser has endorsed him. And former U.S. Conference of Mayors president Steve Benjamin, an African-American whose city of Columbia, South Carolina, whose position in an early voting state with a majority-black electorate gives him clout among Democrats—is leading Bloomberg’s campaign as co-chair.

So far, Lightfoot has said nothing to confirm or deny the rumor and might just as easily decide not to endorse anyone at all.

I've heard from some Warren people that she's apologized for the Lightfoot slight and is making new overtures to the mayor. But I can't confirm and doubt that would change things. Nothing yet from the Sanders camp.

But the fact remains that the road to the White House goes through urban America where black and Latinx voters will make the difference. Candidates who forget this will do so at their own peril.

Monday, February 10, 2020


With SEIU members packing the stage behind her, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot endorses Marie Newman for Congress in the Democratic primary against Republicrat Dan Lipinski.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot 

“Dan Lipinski is on the wrong side of history and he doesn’t represent our values,” Lightfoot said. She said Lipinski also didn’t support Barack Obama’s reelection in 2012, voted against the Affordable Care Act and had disenfranchised Latino voters. Lightfoot said Lipinski also had opposed same-sex marriage in the past. “I’m happy to be here supporting Marie Newman,” she said. “We are not ever going backward, not ever.” -- Tribune
MSNBC host Chris Matthews 
...drew rebukes on social media Friday night after suggesting that as a Democratic Socialist, Sen. Bernie Sanders could lead a dictatorship in which establishment political figures would be “executed,” should he win the presidency. -- Truthout
Kalyn Belsha, Chicago education writer
Educators say the [CTU] votes not to endorse were a result of a variety of concerns. Some were procedural, including questions about whether members had been adequately consulted. Others were local, including lingering tensions over the union’s endorsement of and spending on a losing 2019 mayoral candidate. -- Chalkbeat
Barbara Duffield, the Executive Director of SchoolHouse Connection
"The record number of children and youth experiencing homelessness nationwide is alarming. But for many of these children and youth, public schools are their best — and often only — source of support." -- CBS News
Robert Reich on Bloomberg
The word “oligarchy” comes from the Greek word oligarkhes, meaning “few to rule or command”. It refers to a government of and by a few exceedingly rich people or families who control the major institutions of society. Oligarchs may try to hide their power behind those institutions, or excuse their power through philanthropy and “corporate social responsibility”. But no one should be fooled. An oligarchy is not a democracy. -- Guardian

Friday, February 7, 2020

Me and Limbaugh, Ohio 2012

"Truly nauseating" -- Rep. Ocasio-Cortez

So DT got Melania to give racist oinker Rush Limbaugh the Medal of Freedom, the country's highest civilian honor. It's one that was awarded in earlier, less bizarro-world times to the likes of Mother Theresa and Rosa Parks (BTW, happy birthday to Mrs. Parks on her 110th). That's at least two former winners a-mouldering in their graves.

Nothing he does shocks me anymore and I would expect nothing less from the racist grifter that occupies the WH. But I was a little surprised to hear some liberals, including one of my media FB friends, Bruce Dumont, longtime host of Beyond the Beltway, defending giving the award to Limbaugh. 

awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
For those who object to Rush
do not understand the impact
of the man on American politics.
Perhaps they are blinded by their hatred or pure ignorance.
I’ve checked the very long list of past winners:
Tennessee Ernie Ford?
Lorne Michaels?
Barbara Mikulski?
Bill Cosby?
Give me a break!

I won't waste space countering Dumont's assessment. @AOC, in USA Today, does a better job of that than I could.

But as far as impact on American politics goes, I really do understand it as well as anyone because it has hit me directly a few times. I'll recount one of them here from a 2012 column I wrote that reposted at NEPC.

Turning Right Off the Interstate: How Obama and I Settled the Teachers Strike

Driving through southern Ohio to speak to students at Kenyon College and Bowling Green University I hear the steady stream of right-wing radio and see the dozens of anti-Obama billboards paid for by Clint Eastwood and his wing-nut super PAC. In the towns, there's more of a mix of Obama and Romney signs and of course, the university towns are mostly Obama. Those in the know think that Obama will narrowly win Ohio. I'm not so sure.
The main media spokesman for the Republican Party and for national conservatives is, of course, Rush Limbaugh. Here's what his 20-30 million listeners, mostly small town and rural, heard from Limbaugh about the Chicago teachers strike:
It was all a set-up, says Limbaugh, so that Pres. Obama could step into the fray and settle it by getting union head, Mike Klonsky [hey, that's me], a former member of the Communist Party U.S.A, to get his members to accept a compromise on their wage demands.
Yet the Wizards of Smart say, "No way! Impossible. Couldn't happen. Obama's got too much to lose." The only way Obama has too much to lose is if he inserts himself and there is no solution. I'm sure that's what they mean, but Obama wouldn't insert himself unless there were a pre-ordained, pre-established solution. Like somebody gets on the phone to the teachers union. 
The head teachers union guy in Chicago was a member of the Communist Party USA. He's a huge Obama supporter. So somebody from the White House calls him and says, "Here's what's going to happen," and they lay out the deal. The communist teacher guy says either yes or no. If the guy says, "Screw that! I'm not taking it," then Obama doesn't get involved. But if he takes the deal, then it works. It would be made to look like Obama couldn't take it anymore.
Now first let me say, with apologies to Groucho Marx,  that I would never belong to a union that would have someone like me as its leader. As for the Communist Party U.S.A.? Never been there. Other radical left groups back in the day, but never that one.
And finally, neither the prez nor his people have ever called me. But if he or they did, I would have asked him to put on his "walking shoes" and come down here and man the picket lines like he promised back in 2007. While, I'll probably vote for him again next month, calling me "a huge supporter" is really far fetched. As my readers all know, I've been highly critical of Obama, especially around his education policies and the continuation of his "smart war" in Afghanistan.
As for bloated, drug-addicted, demagogic windbag Limbaugh, you would think he would at least get one fact right if only to preserve some semblance of credibility. He didn't -- not even one.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

If Biden's toast, who's the new chosen one?

“I’m not going to sugarcoat it. We took a gut punch in Iowa." -- Joe Biden
It's now Wednesday evening and I still don't have the final Iowa vote count. With 86% of the vote in, Buttigieg leads Sanders by a point. I'm told, they're still trying to find my friend Burt's vote. You know Burt. He's the guy in the plaid shirt that caucused over at the Shell station in Dubuque.

But given all that, let me say I'm startled at how badly Team Biden did. Remember, JB was touted by DNC leaders as the most likely to beat Trump in a head-to-head. That claim was made with no polling evidence to back it up. But it was repeated over and over until it was accepted by many Democrats on faith, who felt, and still feel that Sanders will fall victim to Trump's red-baiting.

Now it's a desperate Biden that's using Trump's McCarthyite tactics to play on fears about Sanders. Today he told a crowd in New Hampshire:
"If Senator Sanders is the nominee for the party, every Democrat in America...will have to carry the label senator Sanders has chosen for himself,” Biden said of Sanders’ self-proclaimed "Democratic Socialist" label.
On last week's show, I actually told Brother Fred I thought Biden would win Iowa in a close race with Sanders. I thought the intense infighting between warring factions would divide the progressive vote and demoralize voters so badly that Biden would slip in front.

I was wrong as I'm sure my brother will remind me this Friday.

Instead, after spending months and practically his whole war chest in Iowa on stupid Iowa caucuses that helped few and hurt many, Biden now sits holding his gut and grimacing, in fourth place. He trails behind Buttigieg, Sanders (11 delegates each), and Warren (5), with zero delegates, slightly ahead of Klobuchar (also with zero).

With five months to go before the convention in Milwaukee and less than a month 'til Super Tuesday, Biden's campaign is in deep doo-doo. The DNC's anybody-but-Bernie campaign is proving to be a bust.

According to the New York Times which endorsed Warren and Klobuchar:
...he now faces jittery donors, an uncertain landscape in upcoming Democratic contests and a sharp challenge to the central argument of his campaign message: that he is the party’s strongest candidate to win a general election.
I may be getting ahead of myself on this, but if he's no longer the DNC's chosen one, then who is?

I know some of those jittery donors and they don't want to piss away billions on a loser again. One party bundler told me she's now backing Buttigieg. But it's hard for me to believe that many will ride a candidate who has no visible black support.

Another Dem donor told me that party leaders are now in meetings with Bloomberg's team and that with a few concessions on his part, a Bloomberg/Harris duo could be DNC-knighted. That assumes he wants their official support.

Take note of how they've been slamming Bernie for the past four years for not being a bonafide Democrat. One wonders how they will rationalize supporting a Republicrat oligarch like Bloomberg, should it happen?

My take at this point is that Democrats may or may not be able to beat Trump with Bernie as their candidate. No one knows for sure. But I doubt they can win without him and his young, activist base.

In other words, they're meeting with the wrong team.