Sunday, March 1, 2020
Joe Biden gets his first primary win in South Carolina, winning by a
larger margin than
polls had indicated. With 99.91% reporting, Biden had 48.45%, Bernie
Sanders 19.91%, Tom Steyer 11.34%, Pete Buttigieg 8.24%, Elizabeth Warren
7.06%, Amy Klobuchar 3.15%, and Tuli Gabbard 1.28%. He will have three
days to enjoy the win before Super Tuesday next week.
Before the election, Nate Silver posited
three possible Super Tuesday projections estimates based on how
well Biden does in South Carolina. According to the "Biden wins big"
scenario, Biden is expected to win Texas, North Carolina, Virginia,
Tennessee, Alabama, Oklahoma, and Arkansas next week, with Klobuchar
favored in Minnesota, and Sanders ahead in California, Massachusetts,
Colorado, Utah, Maine, and Vermont. Bloomberg will be on the ballot
then, but Silver doesn't expect him to win any states. His best bets
seem to be in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Virginia (with 28-25% share of
delegates). That would leave Sanders with 39% of committed delegates,
Biden 29%, Bloomberg 13%, Warren 10%, Buttigieg 6%, Klobuchar 3%.
Sanders best upset prospects are in Virginia, Minnesota, Oklahoma,
and Texas (where he's led several polls; see
NBC News polls: Sanders has the edge in Texas, is tied with Biden in
Following his big win in Nevada, a bunch of Bernie Sanders pieces,
including a lot of hysteria from Democratic Party elites and "Never
Trumpers," and a little more on the race:
Pete Buttigieg drops out of the presidential race. Given how little
time there is between South Carolina's primary and "Super Tuesday," and
how much of an outlier South Carolina is compared to other Democratic
primaries, I'm surprised that anyone would fold up their campaign between
the two, but we now have two candidates (Steyer and Buttigieg) doing just
that. Given that Steyer was self-funded, you can be pretty sure that his
decision was his own. It makes some sense: in the rich egomaniac lane,
he was certain to get crowded out by the even richer Michael Bloomberg,
so at least he's exiting on a plateau. Buttigieg, however, came into the
race as one of the poorest and least promising of candidates, and he's
actually had a pretty remarkable run. He may have never had the money or
oganization to run a national campaign, and his prospects weren't great,
but he would certainly do better on Super Tuesday than he did in South
Carolina, so why not give it a few more days? I have no doubt that the
answer was that his donors pulled the plug, hoping to move his votes to
Biden or Bloomberg in a frantic effort to stop Sanders. I never shared
the level of contempt directed toward Buttigieg from Sanders supporters,"
but I do think he hurt himself and his future credibility by going so
far out of his way to badmouth Sanders. I think he could have tried to
bridge the gap between business and its many victims, in a way which
would help reduce the social toll while still growing a healthy economy.
He could, in short, have made himself seem concerned and committed, as
well as cautious and pragmatic, but he didn't. Rather, he let himself
be a spokesperson for a bunch of rich assholes who discarded him as
soon as he became inconvenient. As Molly Ivans put it, "lie down with
dogs, get up with fleas." [PS: I finally got around to reading Masha
The queer opposition to Pete Buttigieg, explained, and found I
couldn't care less. Her conclusion, that "he is profoundly, essentially
conservative," explains why his gayness turned out to be so boring.]
What David Brooks gets wrong about Bernie Sanders: "The New York Times
columnist is a perfect exemplar of the baseless centrist freakout about
Sanders's supposed authoritarianism." Brooks' column is titled
No, not Sanders, not ever, where the guy who got rich voicing
conservative attacks on liberals declares "I'll cast my lot with
democratic liberalism," which for him means anyone but Sanders.
Beauchamp answers by quoting a Jedediah Britton-Purdy tweet:
The Sanders campaign is an effort to make real the principles of personal
dignity, autonomy, free association, plurality, & self-development
that liberalism prizes. To say the opposite sells criminally short both
liberalism and Sanders.
The case for Bernie Sanders: "Despite his age, he promises a true
break from the past." Part of a series, with: Michelle Goldberg on
Elizabeth Warren; Ross Douthat on
Joe Biden; Frank Bruni on
Pete Buttigieg; David Leonhardt on
Amy Klobuchar; and David Brooks shilling for
Mike Bloomberg. Bouie also wrote:
The Trumpian liberalism of Michael Bloomberg: "He may be running as
the anti-Trump, but when it comes to the politics of racial control,
there is a resemblance."
Fear powered Joe Biden's South Carolina victory.
Rather, it suggests another calculation at work. There's a yawning chasm
between black people's recognition that we deserve better from the political
order and our belief that elected officials will deliver it. More likely
than not, Biden didn't win South Carolina because he built the best case
for himself. He won because black people have seen what it looks like when
he fails them. Saturday was not a glowing endorsement of his candidacy. If
anything, it was a concession to a politics of fear.
Thomas L Friedman:
Dems, you can defeat Trump in a landslide: The idiot-savant of the
New York Times argues for a "national unity" ticket, combining Sanders
and Bloomberg, with cabinet-level positions for everyone from Mitt
Romney (Commerce Secretary) and William McRaven (Defense Secretary) to
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (UN Ambassador). Once again, Friedman shows
off his boundless faith in the benevolence of the rich and famous. I
wonder if he realizes that the track record for pairing antagonists
on the presidential ticket has a pretty checkered record: especially
Lincoln-Johnson and Harrison-Tyler, where death elevated unpopular
vice-presidents who were politically opposite to their mandate, but
I can think of other Friedmanesque dream tickets that could have gone
as badly (e.g., Jefferson-Burr, Jackson-Calhoun).
What Bernie Sanders should have said about socialism and totalitarianism
in Cuba: Actually, I don't have any problem with what Sanders said,
except that I might have been more impolitic in pointing out that Castro
started with one of the most corrupt and savagely inequal nations in
Latin America -- a state can can be traced to its last-in-the-hemisphere
abolition of slavery and to colonialism by American economic interests --
and struggled heroically to fashion one of the most egalitarian ones,
despite constant hostility from the US, including the imposition of
crippling blockades and sanctions. I'd also point out that America's
hostility had nothing to do with concern for the civil or human rights
of the Cuban people, and everything to do with spite engendered by
Castro's expropriation of American business property and the threat
international companies felt from the existence of the revolutionary
government. I'd also point out that anti-communism in America has
always been dictated by business interests, and has been especially
effective at undermining unions and the left inside as well as beyond
US borders. It also bugs me when emigres from the Soviet bloc have so
completely internalized cold war propaganda that they continue to use
it reflexively to promote militarist, anti-left, and anti-democratic
Who's afraid of Bernie Sanders?
To deny Sanders victory if he conjures up a plurality rather than a
clear majority is to make Sanders's evaluation of the party its epitaph.
Democrats would confirm to the public that the party isn't working for
anyone who isn't well-educated and well-off -- and that they don't
really want to change. They would damage not only their credibility
but the lives of the nation's poor, for whom another Trump term would
Bloomberg has hired the vice chairs of the Texas and California Democratic
Joe Biden has a long history of giving Republicans what they want:
"For Republicans, Joe Biden has long been the ideal negotiating partner --
because he's so willing to cave in on most anything Republicans want."
A excerpt from the author's forthcoming book, Yesterday's Man: The
Case Against Joe Biden.
If anti-Bernie Democrats were serious, they'd unite around Joe Biden
right now. This is basically a taunt, but ego aside (and sure,
that's a big aside) Bloomberg got into the race because he doubted
Biden's up to the task. Biden's first win doesn't prove otherwise,
but his comeback does seem to reflect a belated recognition that
the other "center lane" candidates no longer look promising -- as
Jonathan Chait argues:
Joe Biden now the only Democrat who can stop Bernie Sanders.
Heading into Super Tuesday, Biden gets big funding boost, although
"big" here is still way short of what Sanders is raising, let alone how
much Bloomberg is spending. [PS: Buttigieg dropping out looks like his
donors pulled the rug out from under him to move votes to Biden. By the
way, the ducks are lining up:
Wasserman Schultz endorses Joe Biden for president.]
Bernie Sanders posts a record $46.5 million February fundraising haul.
The selling of the Democratic primary. [PS: Pareene tweet: "my no-irony
take is that Biden would've won in 2016 but he's incoherent now and it
would be deeply irresponsible to nominate him."]
Bernie Sanders can beat Trump. Here's the math.
Charles P Pierce:
The biggest challenge for the Sanders campaign is its own premature
triumphalism. Sample bloviage:
Bernie Sanders has surrounded himself with people so utterly pure in
their own opinion of themselves that they object to compromises that
they themselves made. . . . Bernie Sanders is not a Democrat.
He is an independent who quadrennially cosplays as a Democrat because
he wants to run for president. For this, he should be eternally grateful
that a) nobody makes the point that at least Ralph Nader had the stones
to be an independent and run as an independent; and b) that he is running
now and not back in the days when there really was a Democratic
establishment that would have been able to crush him like a bug. . . .
It turns out that many of the Bernie stans can be more insufferable in
victory than they were in defeat. I say this in all love and Christian
fellowship: Bernie Sanders and his more fervent followers and the many
sanctimonious ratfckers who run his campaign can fck right off.
It's hard to tell where the various smear campaigns against Sanders
supporters start and end (if indeed they have any limits at all). I'm
not involved in the campaign, and I doubt I know anyone who is, but it's
hard not to feel personally insulted by such blanket slanders. Makes
me feel like one of Hillary Clinton's deplorables, which I guess we
were even before she took aim at Trump's minions.
Admittedly, I'm less bothered when Pierce applies his vocabulary to
What a day it's been for the paranoid little terrarium that is the
modern conservative mind, or
Trump's coronavirus press conference was the apotheosis of 40 years
of Republican philosophy.
Sanders' most rabid fans on the left no improvement over Trump's on
the right. Pitts is nationally syndicated, and the Wichita Eagle
runs his weekly column as its sole token liberal alternative to Cal
Thomas, Marc Thiessen, and a host of other reactionary cranks. This
is the most disappointing column I've ever read from him, as he casts
even wider shade on Sanders' supporters than Pierce did (while also
reminding us that Sanders is not a real Democrat). A self-appointed
moderate, Pitts likes to assume that left and right are symmetrical,
so he asserts that "Sanders could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth
Avenue and not lose any supporters" -- Trump has actually made that
boast about his supporters, many of whom are into guns and violence.
But more basically, you don't get to the left without developing the
critical and moral faculties to question the use and abuse of power
and wealth, and that makes it impossible to blindly follow anyone --
for examples of Der Führerprinzip, look to the right.
Tom Steyer drops out of the presidential race: "It turns out
Democratic voters were not seeking their own billionaire to save them
from Trump." One might argue that they were waiting for a richer,
more obnoxious billionaire. The jury's still out on Bloomberg, but
Steyer's campaign casts doubts on how easily one rich guy can buy
Bernie Sanders' plans may be expensive but inaction would cost much
America's crisis of trust and the one candidate who gets it. He
identifies a core problem: "how to break out of the doom loop and
get on a trajectory of better governance and rising trust." His one
candidate is Warren, "on the right track, substantively," but "on
the wrong track, politically."
Bernie Sanders is winning his war on cable news. My primal fear
is that the so-called liberal media, much more than the hapless DNC,
is going to go all-out to sabotage Sanders' candidacy. For example:
There's little love for Bernie Sanders on the television news circuit.
After his landslide win in Saturday's Nevada caucuses, MSNBC host Chris
Matthews compared the victory to Nazi Germany's successful invasion of
France in 1940. Also on MSNBC, James Carville, who ran Bill Clinton's
1992 campaign, deemed it a big win for Vladimir Putin. On CBS, former
Obama chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel fretted that Democrats were making
a suicidal choice in going for Sanders. Donna Brazile, the former
Democratic National Committee chair turned Fox News contributor, and
Joe Lockhart, the former Clinton administration press secretary and
current CNN contributor, were irked by a Sanders tweet that read:
"I've got news for the Republican establishment. I've got news for
the Democratic establishment. They can't stop us." . . . Trump has
a cable news channel in his pocket -- Sanders does not. His campaign
has responded by building a media infrastructure that could withstand
attacks from mainstream networks. So far, it's worked wonders.
Is Bernie the American version of Jeremy Corbyn? Gulp.
Why Bernie Sanders drives so many people out of their minds.
For whatever it's worth, my take on the presidential election is that
as long as it remains a referendum on Trump and his Republican cohort,
any at-all-reasonable Democratic candidate (which includes Sanders and
Biden but maybe not Bloomberg) will beat Trump. He is, after all, very
unpopular, both as a person and even more so for his issues and policies.
The only way Trump wins is if he can make the campaign be about his
opponent (as he did in 2016), and find in that opponent flaws that he
can exploit to make "persuadable" swing-votes fear that opponent more
than they are disgusted with him. This will be harder for him to do
this time around, because he has his own track record to defend, and
unless you're very rich and/or very bigoted, he hasn't done much for
On the other hand, all Democratic candidates have tics and flaws
that a savvy campaigner can exploit. We can debate endlessly on which
"flaws" are most vulnerable and which are most easily defensible. My
own theory is that "red baiting," which we've seen a huge burst of
this past week (and not just at CPAC or on Fox, where the approach
is so feverish it's likely to be extended against Bloomberg), is a
spent force, but one Republicans won't be able to resist. On the
other hand, Sanders is relatively secure against the charges of
corruption and warmongering that were so effective against Hillary
Clinton, and could easily be recycled against Biden.
On the other hand, I do have some sympathy for "down ballot"
candidates for Congress who worry that having a ticket led by a
candidate with such sharply defined views as Sanders has will hurt
their chances in swing districts. At some point, Sanders needs to
pivot to acknowledge and affirm the diversity of opinions within
the Democratic Party. A model here might be Ronald Reagan's "11th
commandment" (never speak ill of a fellow Republican). That didn't
stop Reagan from orchestrating a conservative takeover of the
party, but it make it possible for the few surviving liberals
in the party to continue, and it made it possible for Republicans
to win seats that hard-line conservatives couldn't.
A Sanders nomination would be the most radical shift in the
Democratic Party since 1896, when populist William Jennings Bryan
got the nod to succeed arch-conservative Grover Cleveland. Bryan
lost that election badly, and lost two of the next three, partly
as a result of Democratic Party sabotage, partly because Theodore
Roosevelt outflanked him with a more modern progressivism. My
generation is more likely to recall George McGovern's epic loss
in 1972, also occasioned by deep splits within the Party bosses,
but McGovern and 1968 nominee Hubert Humphrey had very similar
backgrounds and programs -- their big divide was over the Vietnam
War. Nixon did a very effective job of getting McGovern portrayed
as a far-out radical, while covering up his own negatives (at least
until after the election -- he wound up resigning in disgrace).
Trump will certainly try to do the same to Sanders (or for that
matter to any other Democrat), and Republicans have been remarkably
successful at manipulating media and motivating their voters, so
one has to much to worry about. Indeed, I've been fretting a lot
this past week, and will continue to do so until the election is
Some scattered links this week:
How will Trump's Supreme Court remake America?
The war on Israeli democracy: "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has
attacked the foundations of democracy. If he wins his 2020 reelection
bid, things could get a lot worse." Ignoring the more basic fact that if
you're Palestinian, things are already a lot worse.
The Trump-Modi lovefest is sickening.
Watch Trump fondle an American flag at CPAC: Making Americana porn
Daniel R DePetris:
RIP, Libya. For more background, see Ted Galen Carpenter:
How Barack Obama's good 'intentions' destroyed Libya.
James K Galbraith:
The past and future of antitrust. Review of Matt Stoller's book,
Goliath: The 100-Year War between Monopoly Power and Democracy.
Evidently Stoller regards the replacement of Wright Patman by Henry
Reuss in 1975 as chairman of the House banking committee as a turning
point against antitrust enforcement. I remember both: I never thought
much of Patman's progressive reputation, but I had a lot of respect
for Reuss, especially as one of the first half-dozen Representatives
to oppose the Vietnam War. Turns out Galbraith worked for Reuss.
Under Trump, income growth slows across US, including in key battleground
The case that America's in decline: Interview with conservative
pundit Ross Douthat, who has a new book called The Decadent Society:
How We Became the Victims of Our Own Success.
Can you really negate your carbon emissions? Carbon offsets,
When a pandemic meets a personality cult: "The Trump team confirms
all of our worst fears."
How Christian nationalism drives American politics: Interview with
Andrew Whitehead, author of Taking America Back for God: Christian
Nationalism in the United States. Also mentions Katherine Stewart's
book (out next week), The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous
Rise of Religious Nationalism. Not sure what either book has to add
to Chris Hedges' 2007 book, American Fascists: The Christian Right
and the War on America, other than the plentiful examples offered
by Trump and Pence.
America's bad paid sick leave policy could make the coronavirus outbreak
James B Stewart/Jesse Drucker:
Milken had key allies in pardon bid: Trump's inner circle: "Rudolph
Giuliani and Sheldon Adelson were among those who asked President Trump
to pardon a symbol of 1980s greed."
The real meaning of 'religious liberty': A license to discriminate.
Trump is pushing a dangerous, false spin on coronavirus -- and the media
is helping him spread it.
Russia isn't dividing us -- our leaders are.
Hosni Mubarak's death and despotic rule, briefly explained.
Trump announces the US and Taliban will soon sign a peace deal. A
couple days later: Riley Beggin:
The US and Taliban sign agreement meant to end America's longest war.
"The US has agreed to pull all of its troops from Afghanistan within 14
months" -- i.e., after Trump's presidential term ends, dependent on the
Taliban negotiating a further deal with the Afghan government.