Sunday, February 16, 2020
New Hampshire finally voted last week.
Bernie Sanders won, although not by the margin I had hoped for --
25.58% to 24.27% for Pete Buttigieg, 19.69% for Klobuchar, with
significant drops for Elizabeth Warren (9.19%) and Joe Biden (8.34%).
Sanders did, however,
get more young voters than everyone else combined. As I note in
the German Lopez note below, the Buttigieg/Klobuchar bubble seems to
have less to do with anything attractive about their platforms than
with the irrational fears of many Democrats (including some older
ones who are philosophically aligned left, but grew up in a world
where red-baiting was always effective) that Sanders would wind up
losing to Trump. How they figure Buttigieg or Klobuchar might fare
better is something I don't care to speculate on. Neither has the
familiarity or national organization they'll need in coming weeks,
and their repeated (misinformed and disingenuous) attacks on Medicare
for All in recent months, while effective for raising donations and
establishing themselves as niche candidates, makes them improbable
(as well as damn unsatisfactory) party unifiers.
Biden is still better positioned to recover in later primaries, but
did himself much harm in Iowa and New Hampshire. In particular, he lost
favor with the "anybody but Trump (except Sanders)" party faction, and
his support among Afro-Americans was never any deeper than a cautious
wager. Biden has slipped behind Sanders in national polls, lost his big
lead in Nevada, and may even lose his "firewall" state of South Carolina
FiveThirtyEight, which also forecasts Sanders to lead in most
"Super Tuesday" contests, including: California, Texas, Florida,
North Carolina, Virginia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Colorado, and
Tennessee -- in fact, the only state Biden is still favored in is
Alabama). FiveThirtyEight still projects Biden to finish second,
but they already have Michael Bloomberg in a close third, with
Buttigieg a distant fourth, Warren with vanishingly slim chances
in fifth, and Klobuchar even further behind. That assumes they
all keep running, which almost certainly won't happen.
[PS: Closing this now to get it up and out of the way. I've been
running into frustrating dead ends seems like everywhere.]
Some scattered links this week:
The modern GOP is built on lies. A few tired examples here, going
back to Nixon, but nothing that even pretends to argue, "in some ways
Trump is more truthful than previous Republican presidents." I might
concede that Trump's lies are more self-revealing than those of his
predecessors, and add that the biggest lie of all was Reagan's "morning
in America" slogan, which encouraged Americans to deny reality and live
in their own heads. Do that long enough and you eventually get to a
guy like Trump, who can't tell the difference, let alone care.
Amy Klobuchar says she would work on increasing support for Israel if
elected president. Related: Stephen Zunes:
Klobuchar has pushed extreme right-wing policy on Israel/Palestine.
Take it from an activist who was there: Stop and frisk cost New Yorkers
Michael Bloomberg isn't a smug technocratic centrist. He's something far
Alexander Burns/Nicholas Kulish:
Bloomberg's billions: How the candidate built an empire of influence.
As David Sirota tweeted:
In investment terms, this story makes clear Bloomberg spent years buying
large blocs of shares of the Beltway Democratic apparatus, and now he's
trying to buy the primary to complete a hostile takeover.
Obama auto standards may survive because Trump staff can't do math:
"Malevolence tempered by incompetence."
Barr wants to hide Trump's authoritarian plans, but Trump keeps
confessing: "A president uninterested in theory never stops
asserting his 'absolute right' to destroy democracy."
Trump: If Romney was truly religious, he'd have convicted me on both
counts. Sounds like Trump has a pretty bizarre notion of religion,
but also reminds us that Romney's stand on principle was wobbly at the
The GOP elite couldn't stop Trump in 2016. But maybe Democrats can stop
Bernie. Yeah, but how hard did the "GOP elite" really try? Trump is
an embarrassment, but he never really challenges orthodoxy, and he
delivers votes for an agenda that is deeply unpopular. (When he does
slip up, he apologizes quickly. Sure, his racist outbursts are the
exception, suggesting that's something "GOP elites" have no serious
problems with). By the way, who are these "GOP elites," and how do
they enforce party discipline? Looks to me like a loosely connected
circle of like-minded but mostly independent billionaire donors, kept
in sync by propaganda networks like Fox News. The donors signaled
their acceptance of Trump when they pulled the rug out from under
Cruz and Kasich, when they were still likely to win a few primaries.
Thanks to the Clintons and Obama, Democrat elites are more organized
to control the party, and they are ideologically disposed to beat
down any leftist deviations, as a big part of their pitch to donors
over the last 30-40 years was that they could control the masses
while making the world more profitable for the oligarchs. And unlike
GOP elites view of Trump, they really do see left-populism as a threat,
to their worldview as well as their all-important patronage. So Chait
won't be able to lament their lack of effort, although he still may be
disappointed at how ineffective they may be. Biden, Buttigieg, and
Klobuchar don't have half a vision between them, and their resolve
to do nothing but accommodate business interests is less inspiring
than ever. Chait regrets that the do-nothings don't have a charismatic
candidate in 2020 like Obama in 2008, but why should he think that
would do the trick? (It's not clear now that Obama had much vision
either, but at least he let people imagine he did.) Obama showed us
how little progress mere competent moderation delivers -- not enough
to lift Hillary over Trump, who was able to campaign on "what do you
have to lose?"
Joe Biden's campaign was a disaster for liberalism and the Democratic
Party: If "liberalism and the Democratic Party" couldn't find a
more articulate candidate than Biden, maybe the disaster was already
there, just something not just Biden couldn't fix. After Hillary lost
to Trump, it should have been obvious that the Clinton-Obama-Biden
formula had run its course. Chait blames Biden for denying promising
candidates the money they needed to run competitive races, but wasn't
his weakness clear a year ago?
Trump fires Defense official for refusing the break the law on his
behalf: Elaine McCusker.
Here's what I do like about Bernie Sanders.
The lessons of the Culinary Union health care fight. Turns out
the reason the Las Vegas union is so anti-Sanders is that they own
and run their own health care provider system, which gives them a
conflict of interest between their own business interest and the
class of workers they represent. One reason unions are in such sad
shape these days is that too many of them started thinking of
themselves as separate from the broader working class. By the way,
Pete Buttigieg tried to latch onto this one particular (but in next
week's Nevada caucuses, strategic) union as support for his attacks
on Medicare for All, not realizing (or caring) it's a minority
position among unions. See Jason Lemon:
Union president accuses Pete Buttigieg of 'perpetuating this gross
myth' about union health care: 'This is offensive'.
Michael Bloomberg's campaign is an insult to democracy.
Global financial giants swear off funding an especially dirty fuel:
Alberta oil sands.
The real John Bolton. By the way, Jeffrey St. Clair:
Roaming charges: The steal of the century, has an amusing screen
shot of Lou Dobbs backed by a framed photo of Bolton captioned: "A
TOOL FOR THE LEFT." It's true that Bolton's always been a tool, but
you only have to be marginally smarter than Dobbs to realize he's
never been one of ours.
Antarctica broke two temperature records in a week. Related:
It is 65° F in Antarctica and if the Thwaites Glacier plops in, expect 4 ft
of sea level rise.
Michael Bloomberg defended fingerpriting food-stamp recipients in 2018
$2 million book deals about the Trump administration are anything but
brave: "John Bolton's latest tell-all book deal is part of a worrying
trend within publishing."
The hidden depression Trump isn't helping.
John le Carré:
On Brexit: 'It's breaking my heart'. Also colors his remembrance of
Olof Palme, the assassinated Swedish statesman whose name adorns a prize
le Carré was just awarded.
A tense relationship: "The vexed history of Zionism and the left."
A review of Susie Linfield's book, The Lion's Den: Zionism and the
Left From Hannah Arendt to Noam Chomsky.
Pete Rose's plea to be unbanned from baseball is right out of the Trump
playbook. Well, with Trump in his corner, maybe this isn't the best
time to even partially rehabilitate Rose. Trump seems to feel that the
right politics excuses (or at least merits forgiveness for) all manner
of wrongdoing, while those with wrong politics should be harassed and
jailed. As such, he's managed to lump Rose in with the likes of Joe
Arpaio and Eddie Gallagher (the Navy SEAL charged with war crimes).
Nonetheless, I will say, as I've always said, that being banned from
ever working for (or owning a stake in) any MLB organization is one
thing, and being ineligible to have your pre-ban achievements evaluated
by the Base Ball Hall of Fame is (or should be) another (and the fact
that they aren't is really the fault of the BBHOF). I always thought
Rose was slightly overrated as a ballplayer, but I was more bothered
by the adoring sports writers who bought into his Charlie Hustle act.
When you look at his numbers in context, he wasn't anyway near the
second coming of Ty Cobb, but he was comparable to long time Hall of
Famers like Sam Crawford, Zack Wheat, Paul Waner, and Paul Molitor (who
Baseball References regards as Rose's most similar batter, followed
by Robin Yount, Waner, and George Brett; they also list Tris Speaker
and Ty Cobb at 2 and 3, and Cap Anson at 7, but clearly aren't making
necessary adjustments for cross-historical context; more telling is
the "most similar by ages" chart, which only matches Rose with three
HOFers, for a single year each, from ages 22-37: Molitor, Rod Carew,
and Freddie Lindstrom; on the other hand, he has multi-year matches
with Buddy Lewis and Johnny Damon; everyone from 38-45 is in the HOF,
but few lesser players last that long; even so, 38-41 is Molitor, 42
Waner, 43-44 Rickey Henderson, and 45 Anson). One irony since Rose
was banned is that the steroid scandal has kept far greater stars
like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens out of the HOF (Bonds' most similar
matches are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and Babe Ruth; Clemens' top ten
matches are all in the HOF, and that doesn't include what would have
been my first guess, Lefty Grove). Another irony is that if you gave
in and considered Rose, you'd probably also have to consider another
banned gambler whose career (until he got banned) resembled Cobb's
even more: Shoeless Joe Jackson. On the other hand, if you do insist
on imposing a morals clause on HOF membership, why not kick a few
folks out? Cap Anson was singularly responsible for driving black
players out of MLB in the late 1880s, and a long list of executives
continued the color ban until 1947 -- first among equals there was
Kenesaw Mountain Landis (the commissioner who banned Jackson and
set the precedent for Rose, although he later whitewashed similar
charges against Cobb and Speaker).
Can journalism be saved? A review of many books, one of the few
posts at this site without a paywall lock.
Mary Kay Linge/Jon Levine:
Bloomberg reportedly considering Hillary Clinton as his running mate:
One thing I've noticed this week is that I find Bloomberg so despicable
I'm willing to give credence to any story, no matter how dubious the
source, that makes him appear even more evil (or stupid or vain or
conceited or vile).
Bernie Sanders lost among New Hampshire voters focused most on beating
Trump. I saw this poll referred to first in
FiveThirtyEight's New Hampshire live blog (since deleted?), and it
goes a long way to explaining the results.
But among the 34 percent of New Hampshire voters who prioritized a
candidate who agrees with them on major issues, Sanders led with 39
percent support, with Buttigieg and Klobuchar lagging far behind at
21 and 12 percent respectively. (The top issues, according to the
same poll: health care, climate change, and income inequality.) . . .
While voters may name concrete priorities when asked by pollsters,
voters in reality balance a whole host of variables, from electability
to policy positions to personal likability, when picking a nominee.
But given that so much of Democratic voters' attention is going to
beating Trump -- and has been for some time -- this conflict between
electability and policy positions will likely be a major one for the
rest of the primary season.
For Sanders, now the frontrunner, it also seems to be a notable
weakness. It's not just that he lost among voters who prioritize
beating Trump. Democrats in general seem to view him as less electable,
at least according to the New Hampshire exit polls: Asked who stands
the best chance against Trump, 27 percent of voters said Buttigieg,
21 percent said Klobuchar, and 19 percent said Sanders.
This sounds like a lot of Democrats are so chickenshit they're
willing to pick inferior candidates if they think they might fare
better against Trump. The reasoning, I suppose, is that any Democrat
would be better than Trump, which runs the risk of sliding into the
notion that the Democrat most similar to Trump would capture the
widest slice of in-between voters.
Virginia is poised to decriminalize marijuana.
The Berniephobes are wrong: "Wall Street fears the rise of the Vermont
senator. The rest of America has less to worry about."
Ann E Marimow:
Trump takes on Judge Amy Berman Jackson ahead of Roger Stone's
Trump is sending armed tactical forces to arrest immigrants in sanctuary
End the GOP: "In order to save our democracy, we must not merely
defeat the Republican Party."
Michael Bloomberg's polite authoritarianism.
There's no resurgence in American manufacturing. It's a myth.
Nathan J Robinson:
A Republican plutocrat tries to buy the Democratic nomination: "No
Democrat should consider Michael Bloomberg as a candidate."
Charlie Savage/Adam Goldman/Julian E Barnes:
Justice Department is investigating CIA resistance to sharing Russia
Bill Gates orders £500m hydrogen-powered superyacht. [PS: This
article was subsequently removed. Evidently Gates did not buy this
Superyachts and private jets: spending of corrupt super-rich revealed
- Alanna Vagianos:
Michael Bloomberg quietly rejoined clubs that largely exclude women,
Joyce White Vance:
If Trump is allowed to turn the Justice Department into a political
weapon, no one is safe.
Bloomberg said ending a racist housing practice caused financial
A conservative judge draws a line in the sand with the Trump
Trump's proposed budget is fuel for American militarism.
The Senate just voted to check Trump's ability to take military action
against Iran. Have you noticed that when a president wants the
authorization to use military force, it only takes a bare majority,
but when Congress wants to limit a president's warmaking, it takes
two-thirds to override a presidential veto?