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.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Victory for Instacart Workers

Chicago Federation of Labor President Bob Reiter released the following statement in response to Instacart workers in Skokie, IL. winning the first union election in company history:
 “Workers in Chicago have recently won significant battles in the legislature, on the picket line, and at the organizing table. From the landmark Fair Workweek Ordinance to a $15 minimum wage law at the city and state to strikes in our schools, hotels, and hospitals, the Chicago labor movement is fighting every day to give all workers a voice on the job. Today’s historic election helps extend that voice to gig workers, who desperately need the freedom to join together in a union. This is a fight that is just beginning.
 “To any worker who does not have a voice on the job, who does not have dignity at work, know that you can be the catalyst for change." -- Press Release 
Bob Reiter will be our guest on Hitting Left Friday, Feb. 7th, 11-noon on WLPN 105.5 FM, streaming live at

DNC knives may be pointed at Biden as well as at Bernie

As filmmaker Michael Moore put it the other day, "the knives are out."

He was, of course, referring to the divisive campaign being waged by the DNC against the party's progressive wing. Bernie Sanders' surge in the polls has DNC leaders in a panic and they're pulling out all stops to split party regulars from Sanders, to ensure his defeat, and maintain their power regardless of the consequences in November.

But at least some of their knives are also aimed at their own guy, frontrunner Joe Biden. There's lots of buyer's remorse over Biden whose bumbling debate performances and poor fundraising ability have party leaders in a sweat. While he may eke out a win in Iowa, his numbers are weaker than anticipated, especially with younger voters who aren't content with returning to the pre-Trump status quo.

This week's Iowa State/Civiqs poll finds Sanders leading among 18-to-34-year-olds with 33% while Biden got just 1%.

They're also worried that the Hunter Biden/Ukraine scandal has legs heading into November.

Every day we're hearing talk about a possible late replacement jumping into the race in case big campaign donors lose confidence in Biden.

Yesterday, it was John Kerry.  ABC News reported that Kerry, co-architect with Clinton of the party's "regime change" foreign policy, was overheard Sunday on the phone explaining what he would have to do to enter the presidential race amid "the possibility of Bernie Sanders taking down the Democratic Party — down whole."
Sitting in the lobby restaurant of the Renaissance Savery hotel, Kerry was overheard by an NBC News analyst saying "maybe I'm f---ing deluding myself here" and explaining that to run, he'd have to step down from the board of Bank of America and give up his ability to make paid speeches. Kerry said donors like venture capitalist Doug Hickey would have to "raise a couple of million," adding that such donors "now have the reality of Bernie."
More NBC News...
 It's not clear how serious Kerry was on the call about jumping into the race. But that he would even discuss the possibility suggests that prominent members of the Democratic Party remain deeply unsettled by the current field, Sanders' strength in the polls and the ability of any candidate to defeat President Donald Trump.
Yes, Kerry is f---ing delusional. As is Hillary Clinton who has been sending up her own trial balloons. Clinton has been telling party leaders for months that she would be willing to come back from the political graveyard and enter the race. Last week, in an interview with Variety, Hillary admitted she was feeling "the urge to run because I feel the 2016 election was a really odd time and an odd outcome."

In recent weeks she has assumed the position as chief gunslinger, firing not only at Bernie but his supporters as well. Clinton's anti-Bernie tirades led to booing at a rally in Iowa, at the very mention of her name by Sanders supporters and Michigan Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib. Remember that Michigan is a must-win state for Dems if they have any hope of defeating Trump.

According to CNN,
From the Sanders perspective, it's hard to not want to push back against Clinton saying that the Vermont senator has no friends and cost her the election. While Tlaib's booing may not have been the perfect response, you can understand the frustration among the left toward Clinton, who not only lost what everyone in the Democratic Party assumed was a slam-dunk election in 2016 but has spent the last 3+ years blaming everyone but herself for it.
Smelling blood in the water, even Sanders-hater and former Maryland GovMartin O'Malley, whose 2016 campaign was a dismal failure, is raising his hand -- meekly.
“If there’s a muddled finish [in Iowa and New Hampshire] or an unelectable leftist, that’s Bloomberg time. In 2016, there were some people who said to me, ‘Well, if you could only have hung in until we got totally sick of Bernie.’ And I said, ‘Well, I couldn’t. I had no money.’"
Yes, as they say, bullshit walks. And as I keep saying, Biden better watch his back. The DNC's knives are out and they're not just pointed at progressives.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Trying to make sense of Iowa

Lots of Chicago activists are driving to Iowa this weekend to knock on doors for Sanders or Warren. Is the trip worth their while? Hard to say.

A recent Sanders surge in the polls has the party leadership in a panic. But there's not much they can do about it, fearing a push to stop him would backfire

I can only imagine what Warren's Chicago people are saying to Iowans about Bernie and vice-versa.

How important are the Iowa caucuses as a predictor of who will win the nomination? Not very. Since 1972, caucasions (sic & pun intended) have had a 55% success rate at predicting which Democrat will win. It's more than obvious that states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania are the key states to watch, with candidates rising or falling on black-voter turnout in cities like Detroit, Milwaukee, and Philly.

But that doesn't mean Iowa isn't important. For example, if certain candidates, ie. Buttigieg, Warren, Klobuchar, stumble badly in Iowa, they may never get to MI. On the other hand, if an unlikely winner pulls an upset in Iowa, like Obama did in 2008, it could mean more credibility with voters and campaign donors nationally. The Iowa campaign is also important as a prerequisite to battling Trump on issues like farming and trade war with China.

My prediction: A close finish between Sanders and Biden who will put some distance between themselves and the rest of the pack. I think Biden will win, mainly because the progressive movement on the ground is so badly split.

Biden is currently at 23% in the polls. Bernie at 21%. Warren at 10%. Put those last two numbers together and you've got something.

But prospects for progressive unity in Iowa and beyond, are pretty dim right now, especially given the all-out anti-left assault by the DNC, aimed mainly at Sanders voters (so-called "Bernie Bros"). See my previous post for more on this.

An interesting side note... Iowa State/Civiqs poll found Sanders leading among 18-to-34-year-olds with 33% while Biden got just 1%! That survey estimated that 47% of likely caucus-goers will be under 50 years old, a boon for Sanders’s topline number, whereas the 2016 entrance poll found that just 42% of caucus-goers were under the age of 50.

A trend to watch after Iowa.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

An irreparable split?

"Nobody likes [Bernie], nobody wants to work with him, he got nothing done...It is not only him. It's the culture around him. It's his leadership team. It's his prominent supporters. It's his online Bernie Bros... -- Hillary Clinton
 "The knives are out." -- Michael Moore
Until a few weeks ago, I was backing either Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders in the primary, whichever one was shown to have the best chance of defeating Trump in November. They were both seen by voters as the representatives of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party and despite their own obvious differences over some issues, they refused to attack each other during the primary debates.

But that all changed when party leadership, including Warren, decided to launch an all-out anti-Bernie offensive, aimed at splitting and defeating their left opposition, no matter what the cost in November.

Just when the polls started showing a possible victory for any of the top Democratic Party nominees in November, a seemingly irreparable split between regulars and progressives has badly damaged the party's chances.

Panicking over Joe Biden's floundering campaign and Sanders' emergence as the frontrunner in Iowa, his running strong New Hampshire, and Nevada, and his having emerged, according to The New York Times, as "the dominant liberal force in the 2020 race", party leaders have stepped up their attacks on Bernie and his supporters.

In Iowa.

The attacks have been crude, vicious, and broad-brushed, leaving little room for retraction or resolution once the primaries are over.

The latest tossed out there by AFT Pres. Randi Weingarten, referred to Bernie supporters as a "virtual lynch mob". Ugh! 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.
Talk about intolerance for different opinions... Doesn't Hillary loyalist Weingarten realize that this supposed lynch mob includes thousands of her own union's rank-and-file members?

Sadly, Elizabeth Warren, possibly feeling the pressure from big party campaign donors and seeing a possible path to replace Biden as the party leadership's chosen one, has broken ranks with the progressives and joined in the anti-Sanders assault. An early sign was her campaign's leak of a private conversation she had with Bernie and the unprincipled bloc she formed with Amy Klobuchar (see my January 16th post) during the last debate. Warren and Klobuchar share little in common on the most important political issues, but their attack on Bernie earned them the NYT's co-endorsement. Whatever that's worth.
Brother Fred and I will be discussing this and more, Friday on Hitting Left. Tune in 11-noon CT on WLPN 105.5 FM in Chicago. Streaming live at
Party leaders, desperate for a credible centrist flag bearer, have even rehabilitated Hillary Clinton who has become their main anti-left gunslinger. She fired the first big barrage, claiming that most Bernie supporters weren't loyal Democrats, and then this assessment of Sanders' populist-socialist agenda?
"It's all just baloney and I feel so bad that people got sucked into it."
Clinton's blast was the green flag for her followers to join in.

Sanders willingly signed a loyalty pledge required of all candidates, promising to run and govern as a Democrat if he won the presidency.

But my first question is, will party leaders themselves honor the pledge should Sanders win the nomination? Answer, doubtful.

My second question is, can the progressive coalition be put back together again after the split? Answer, if the similar split that happened around Chicago's mayor's race is any indication, not likely.

And third, can the Democrats defeat Trump without active support from their progressive base? Answer, no.

Monday, January 27, 2020


Jim Carroll
“In basketball, you can correct your mistakes immediately and beautifully, and in midair.” -- Esquire
Betsy DeVos
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos compared the choice to have an abortion with the choice to own slaves, saying President Abraham Lincoln also had to contend with a misguided “pro-choice” argument. -- Washington Post
Chesa Boudin
John Raphling, Human Rights Watch
“For too long, prosecutors have used money bail and pretrial incarceration as leverage to pressure people to plead guilty regardless of actual guilt. Boudin’s policy favoring pretrial release is a welcome change and will build the credibility of our courts.” -- The Nation
Mary Louise Kelly, “All Things Considered” host on NPR
Kelly, remarkably, said that Pompeo asked her after the interview, “Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?” and asked her to find the country on a blank map, apparently suggesting she didn’t even know. She said she did, and Pompeo concluded the scene by saying, “People will hear about this.” -- Washington Post
 Donald Trump
"Take her out." -- Recording

Monday, January 20, 2020

The radical Dr. King

“In a sense, you could say we’re involved in the class struggle.”
Quote to New York Times reporter, José Iglesias, 1968.
Today we, as a nation, celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King who was born 91 years ago and assassinated in Memphis in 1968 while speaking in support of unionizing municipal workers. It's a good day to remember Dr. King, not as the harmless icon, portrayed in the mainstream media and in textbooks, but as the unapologetic radical anti-war, anti-capitalist, he was.

This is how King saw things:
“We must recognize that we can’t solve our problem now until there is a radical redistribution of economic and political power… this means a revolution of values and other things. We must see now that the evils of racism, economic exploitation and militarism are all tied together… you can’t really get rid of one without getting rid of the others… the whole structure of American life must be changed. America is a hypocritical nation and [we] must put [our] own house in order.” -- Report to SCLC Staff, May 1967.
Trump's "very fine people" want no part of King's legacy. Instead they are rallying today in Richmond, VA to defend their precious assault weapons from Gov. Wortham's proposed modest gun-control legislation. Small groups of armed white supremacists, vigilante groups,  and nazis are moving to infiltrate the march and cause a "white uprising" resulting in an all-out race war.

Trump gave them all the green light on Friday when he tweeted:

Yes, I was onto something in my previous post (Klobuchar was the worst of the six). NYT just co-endorsed Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar in an anybody-but-Bernie move. Yes, they're both women. And Democrats would vote for either in a face-off with Trump.

But Warren's blocking with Klobuchar to attack Sanders during the last debate was an effort to legitimize herself to party leadership and peel away Sanders voters. It's an unprincipled block since up til now, she's had much more in common with Sanders than with Klobuchar. Whether the tactic will work or not in Iowa remains to be seen.

Those wringing their hands over the growing and undeniable polarizing of national politics and the rise of right and left-wing populism should remember that the political polarization is an echo of economic polarization, meaning the widening wealth and income gap and the collapse of the middle class.

Bernie Sanders, and to a lesser degree, Elizabeth Warren, are the only candidates speaking directly to the wealth and income gap. Their split and the ensuing rupture of their progressive base and any liberal consensus should leave both Biden and Trump smiling.

Anton Seals Jr. was on Hitting Left, Friday...
Cooperative farming is a central aspect of Seal’s community organizing. When he talks about the development of cooperative farming on the hundreds of acres of open land in Englewood, Seals draws a clear historical connection to the African and African American experience as stewards of the land, even in slavery, and the forced migration – as a result of racist terror – from the former Confederacy to Chicago. -- Fred Klonsky's blog
You can download the entire Seals interview from

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Klobuchar was the worst of the six.

"And then when it comes to Iraq, right now, I would leave our troops there, despite the mess that has been created by Donald Trump." -- Amy Klobuchar at Des Moines debate.
Of the six candidates on stage in Des Moines Tuesday night, Amy Klobuchar was by far, the worst.

She outflanked the others on the right on nearly every issue, from war to the economy, to the environment. She doesn't support a wealth tax or Medicare for all, tuition-free K-16 public ed, and if elected, won't repeal Trump’s tax break for the rich.

She wants to keep troops in Afghanistan and Iraq and keep nuclear weapons in southern Turkey. She defended the assassination of Gen. Soleimani. She's a big fan of Israeli policy towards the Palestinians and says that as president, she would "bring in American support again in a big way for Israel." She wants to keep the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem and leave in place the Trump administration’s policies on Israeli settlements.

And on it goes.

In other words, Klobuchar represents a wing of the Democratic Party that stands in direct opposition to progressives like Sanders and Warren on most of the fundamental issues.

She even slams Warren personally for being "too wonky."

So my question is, why would Elizabeth Warren decide to block with Klobuchar against Sanders Tuesday night? Was it just to score a few quick points against her long-time political ally in order to supplant him as the current progressive frontrunner? Was it simply an act of retaliation for Sanders' alleged "a woman can't win" comment in a private conversation? If so, it failed badly. It was a short-sighted, opportunist move that will divide the progressive wing of the party and will likely hurt mainly her as well as Sanders' chances of winning the nomination.

I hope not.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Last night, they somewhat, actually debated the war.

Bloomberg on Colbert: "We are the superpower of the world.” 
I missed the beginning because the Duke/Clemson basketball ended late. Clemson pulled the exciting upset over #2 Blue Demons (fallen angels?)

But I did catch the war debate.

Bernie Sanders and to a lesser degree Elizabeth Warren were the only candidates who took a forthright anti-war stance following Trump's assassination of Gen. Soleimani.

Last night, the rest were wavering on the war issue. You know, keep our embassy in Baghdad. Leave special forces in place. OK to use mercs, drones or even all-out war with congressional approval. All especially seemed agreed on that last point -- no spending on war with Iran without a vote in Congress. That's a good thing, given the current situation.

However, it belies the fact that congress (including most Democrats), has already given Trump and the Pentagon the trillions they need to carry on their eternal war to protect the oil.

But you could watch, especially Joe Biden, wriggle around the question,
BIDEN: Well, I tell you what, there's a difference between combat troops and leaving special forces in position.
Biden admitted he "mistakenly" voted for the war in Iraq (Oops!). But then tried to hide behind Obama.
I said 13 years ago it was a mistake to give the president the authority to go to war if, in fact, he couldn't get inspectors into Iraq to stop what — thought to be the attempt to get a nuclear weapon. It was a mistake, and I acknowledged that.
But right — the man who also argued against that war, Barack Obama, picked me to be his vice president. And once we — once we were elected president, he turned — and vice president, he turned to me and asked me to end that war.

But, only a few days ago, Biden had John Kerry arguing he hadn't really voted for the war. Or if he did, it was because Republicans tricked him into it.
“It was a mistake to have trusted them, I guess, and we paid a high price for it,” Kerry added. “But that was not voting for the war.”
These two need to get in a room together and get their stories straight.

Today's Washington Post summed it up best:
With tensions with Iran and controversy over President Trump’s decision to kill Qasem Soleimani big in the news, Democrats had a chance to define their party on the issue. And the debate began on that subject, with the candidates talking at some length. What we got instead was a lot of general talk about taking out combat troops but leaving in other troops who would be tasked with other missions.
As for the rest of the debate, again it was Sanders and Warren standing up for real reform on healthcare and education and the rest arguing “How we gonna pay for it”? (on everything but war).

Biden, Buttigieg, Klobuchar want Medicare for some, college for some, daycare for some, bring some troops home. It’s the Some Party.

Some of the craziest moments came from Buttigieg, who argues against Bernie's call for tuition-free college. PB doesn't think the wealthy should be allowed to send their kids to tuition-free public universities (and I assume to public schools in general).
And I don't think subsidizing the children of millionaires and billionaires to pay absolutely zero in tuition at public colleges is the best use of those scarce taxpayer dollars. 
Mayor Pete, I believe that's why they call it PUBLIC EDUCATION, public healthcare, public parks, and public space in general. Public schools would be much better funded if white parents and yes, rich white parents sent their kids there. You should be about taxing the wealthiest the most. Not excluding them from tuition-free public space.

The real winner of the debate may have been a candidate who didn't even take part. Appearing on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” immediately after the debate, Billionaire Michael Bloomberg got more unchallenged talk time than any of the six.

Bloomberg echoed the neocon line, promising that he would lead the U.S. to war if the national security of America is directly threatened,
“and if the rest of the world is threatened, we have an obligation to go and help. We are the superpower of the world, and with superpower status comes responsibility.” 
When you're as rich and powerful as Bloomberg and the leader of the "superpower of the world," I don't suppose you need congressional approval to do anything, invade or bomb anyone. Just ask Donald Trump.

Monday, January 13, 2020


Champaign State’s Attorney Julia Rietz
...told WBEZ in an interview Friday afternoon that her office is involved in a “comprehensive investigation” with the Illinois Attorney General, the Illinois State Police and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of Illinois into the content of the email.
“There are efforts being made to unravel this – again – cryptic, unspecific allegation regarding a sexual assault,” Rietz said. -- WBEZ
Hamilton Nolan at the Guardian
Nothing requires less courage than letting yourself go along with a march towards war when you have the biggest military in the world. Show me a candidate willing to fight for peace, and I’ll show you the future. -- The Democrats must become a real anti-war party
State's Atty. Kim Foxx
We've got to have an inside/outside game. Chesa's [Boudin] election should speak to that. -- Hitting Left interview
Tracy Littlejohn, educator and homeschool coordinator
“I’ve gone into some fourth-grade classrooms where they thought we were extinct,” said Littlejohn, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation. -- LaCrosse Tribune
D.T.'s mercenary army
“I said to Saudi Arabia, you want more troops, I’ll send them to you, but you’ve gotta pay us... they’ve already deposited $1 Billion.” -- Rolling Stone

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Complicit Democrats can redeem themselves on Iran war budget vote

Senators Bernie Sanders and Ro Khanna push anti-war legislation
"Every member of Congress who voted to give the most corrupt, unhinged, and unstable president in history $738 billion to fight endless wars...must never tell us that we cannot afford Medicare for All or a Green New Deal." -- Warren Gunnels, Sanders senior adviser

Despite their claims that congress wasn't consulted in advance of the latest U.S. aggressive moves against Iran, Democrats had a chance to make their voices heard. Instead, they are in many ways complicit.

For one thing, they passed on chances to constrain military aggression against Iran in the recent Pentagon budget debate. Only 41 House Democrats, voted against the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which increased the Pentagon budget by $22 billion, including billions for Trump's bogus Space Force. The final vote was 377-48. Democrats voted overwhelmingly for passage without any restrictions on the use of funds in a war with Iran.

One of the omitted amendments in the annual National Defense Authorization Act, sponsored by Reps. Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL), would have barred Trump from using federal dollars for military action against Iran without congressional approval. Although the measure was included in an earlier draft of the NDAA, it was later stripped out in the compromise version that Democrats voted for anyway.

Khanna, one of the members who vocally opposed the NDAA in December, argued that his amendment would have prevented the US from using government funds to conduct the strike against Soleimani. Whether his claim is real or not remains a question, given Trump’s potential for ignoring Congress and violating the Constitution.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) also sought to include an amendment in the NDAA that would limit the 2001 Authorization of Use of Military Force (AUMF), which permits the president to take action against anyone responsible for or associated with the 9/11 terrorist attacks, arguing that it was too broad. Administrations have since used the AUMF to wage military action across the Middle East, efforts that have been seen as further expanding the executive branch’s war powers.

More than 30 progressive and anti-war organizations — including MoveOn and Indivisible — expressed disagreement with the bill, too. “It is a blank check for endless wars, fuel for the further militarization of US foreign policy, and a gift to Donald Trump,” they wrote in their December statement.

On Sunday, Trump warned Iranian leaders against any military retaliation by boasting on Twitter that,
“The United States just spent Two Trillion Dollars on Military Equipment” and that if necessary he would use it to hit Iran “very fast and very hard.”
The $1.4 trillion spending deal for 2020 that became law in December includes about $695 billion for the Pentagon, an increase of about $19 billion from the 2019 level.

But Democrats still have a chance to redeem themselves in an effort to prevent all-out war with Iran by supporting a House bill introduced by Lee and Rep. Ilhan Omar and a Senate bill sponsored by Khanna and Bernie Sanders that would block funding for any military action "in or against Iran" without congressional authorization.

We should be watching closely and taking names on who votes which way.