Issue XCVI

21 OCT 2016

National

03/28/2016

It’s Time for Hillary Clinton to Concede the Democratic Nomination to Bernie Sanders

Natl1

With Bernie Sanders now slightly ahead of Clinton nationally in the latest Bloomberg poll, it’s time to reevaluate the meaning of pragmatism. Hillary Clinton might be ahead of Bernie Sanders in delegates, but Vermont’s Senator has a monopoly on political momentum. Sadly, his opponent has a monopoly on controversy, and will face FBI interviews in the near future. A Los Angeles Timesarticle titled Clinton email probe enters new phase as FBI interviews loomhighlights why Clinton’s campaign is stuck in political quicksand:

Federal prosecutors investigating the possible mishandling of classified materials on Hillary Clinton’s private email server have begun the process of setting up formal interviews with some of her longtime and closest aides, according to two people familiar with the probe, an indication that the inquiry is moving into its final phases.

Prosecutors also are expected to seek an interview with Clinton herself, though the timing remains unclear.

Yes, federal prosecutors will interview Hillary Clinton, in addition to her close associates.

At what point will establishment Democrats admit this fiasco is horrible for a general election? 

When federal prosecutors are interviewing your candidate for president, even Donald Trump has a good chance at the White House.

Furthermore, former U.S. attorney general Michael Mukasey believes A Criminal Charge is Justified. Former Obama intelligence official Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn says that “If it were me, I would have been out the door and probably in jail.” Former NSA director Michael Hayden called Clinton’s email setup “stupid and dangerous.” Even Edward Snowden, the antithesis of America’s intelligence community in many ways, says it’s “ridiculous” to think Clinton’s emails were secure.

It’s time for Democrats to deal with reality, not just allegiance to a political icon, and rally around the only candidate not linked to an FBI investigation, and othercontroversies. With recent victories and future wins ahead, Bernie Sanders has all the political momentum heading towards Election Day. Most importantly, Bernie Sanders is the only leading candidate with positive favorability ratings in 2016.

Hillary Clinton has negative favorability ratings in ten national polls. When people forget about Trump’s rallies, and the billionaire pivots to his...


Bernie Sanders won a battle over the weekend. Hillary Clinton is still winning the war — by a lot.

Natl2

There is a tendency when you are losing to try t0 change the rules in the middle of the game. Which makes sense. If the current set of rules isn't working for you, your only option is to insist those rules are somehow invalid.

That's what Bernie Sanders's chief campaign strategist Tad Devine did in a conference call with reporters on Monday afternoon.  Devine made the case that Sanders -- coming off three huge-margin victories in Alaska, Washington State and Idaho on Saturday -- is not only the momentum candidate against Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential race but is executing brilliantly on a broader, long-planned strategy.

So, um, here's the thing. It makes roughly zero difference how many states Sanders or Clinton win. The only -- and I do mean only -- thing that matters as it relates to actually being the Democratic presidential nominee is getting to 2,383 delegates. Pursuing a "state win strategy" is a choice that Sanders can make. But it's not what will make him the Democratic standard-bearer.

Then there is this from Devine:

That's like saying that if you don't count those 10 baskets you scored when my team was doing badly, the score is actually tied. That's not how it works. You don't get to pick and choose the races that matter. All delegates won in allcontests count the same -- that's the lesson Clinton learned when she watched then-senator Barack Obama wrack up massive delegate margins in a slew of February 2008 caucuses that gave the Illinois senator an insurmountable edge in the delegate chase.

In fact, Clinton's lead in pledged delegates is considerably larger -- even after Sanders's Saturday sweep -- than Obama ever held over Clinton.

And, finally, there is Devine's point that neither candidate will get to 2,383 pledged delegates before the Democratic National Convention.

That is a possibility -- as you can see for yourself by fiddling around with this awesome delegate interactive from Philip Bump. If, for example, the two candidates split the pledged delegates 50-50 from here on out, Clinton would wind up with 2,135 -- or 250 or so short of the win number.

But, but BUT. That's not how the rules work. Superdelegates -- the panoply of elected officials and former officials who also get a vote -- count the same as delegates won in the various votes across the country. Them's the rules. And when...



11/11/2015

Marco Rubio Is the Nominee in Waiting

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Another winning debate performance seals it.

It’s good to be Marco Rubio. You’re young, smart, and good-looking. In a party that needs credibility with Hispanic voters, you’re Cuban-American. You’re a great talker. You’re a rising star in a party that’s eating its elders. Insurgents admire you, yet the GOP establishment trusts you. Republicans are looking for a new leader, and you seem to be it.

Tuesday night’s GOP debate showed how everything is opening up for Rubio. He’s good, and he’s lucky. He didn’t dominate the conversation, but the dynamics worked in his favor. To begin with, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie got bumped off the stage. Christie isn’t a threat to Rubio, but he’s a terrific debater. With Christie and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee banished to the undercard event, the visible field of candidates narrowed to eight.

Jeb Bush, who once again needed to stand out, didn’t. On stage after stage, it has become obvious that Rubio is a much better talker. Bush, sensing the threat, staged a head-on collision with Rubio in their previous debate. And Bush lost it.

Bush was better on Tuesday. But if you’re a Republican donor or undecided voter, you saw the same liabilities you’ve seen before. When Bush tries to look strong, he sounds weak. He repeatedly summarized his foreign-policy vision with the passive phrase, “Voids are filled.” He said carbon emissions were down thanks to “the explosion of natural gas.” At one point, he babbled, “I was in Washington—Iowa—about three months ago talking about how bad Washington, D.C., is. It was—get the—kind of the—anyway.” Bush pleaded for air time, telling Donald Trump, “Thank you, Donald, for allowing me to speak at the debate.” Later, in a succinct display of their alpha and beta personalities, Trump silenced Bush during an exchange by extending an arm and barking, “Hold it.” In his closing statement, Bush promised not to be an “agitator in chief.”

Any viewer looking for a pragmatist was probably more impressed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who seized that role from Bush. Kasich presented himself as the candidate of fiscal responsibility and sensible compassion, particularly with regard to immigration and government assistance. By taking market share from Bush, Kasich can help clear the way for Rubio.

The debate’s moderators might as well have been on...


Rubio's Gift: Avoiding Traps

If you want a headline for Tuesday night's Republican debate in terms of the horse race, it's this: Nothing much happened, and therefore the march of Republican party actors toward Marco Rubio most likely will continue. 

Oh, plenty happened, both in the matinee and the main event. Candidates got in their prepared zingers; several did a good job discussing substantive policies; others sounded foolish on various subjects. But six days ago I noted that Rubio was moving up rapidly in endorsements from Republicans. Since then, he's added another senator and three more members of the House. It's still not certain that the party has decided for him, but it's looking better and better.

And nothing on Tuesday night should change that. His debate skills are solid. He's especially good at knowing exactly which prepared answer to match to which question -- far better than any of his competitors, if not quite as good so far as Hillary Clinton (who, after all, has a lot more experience at this part of the game). 

He's also good at keeping his head down when that's the best choice. At one point there was a major dust-up between several candidates over immigration which Rubio -- perhaps the most vulnerable on the issue -- managed to ignore entirely. When he does speak, he avoids the traps that exist all over the place. To his credit, his policy statements are grounded enough in reality so that those who care about such things aren't going to pick on him as a target. On Twitter during the debate, about the worst hits he took were about being overly robotic -- which, as Mitt Romney and Al Gore can tell you, isn't the worst criticism a candidate for a party's nomination can encounter.

Most of the other candidates did fine, too. No one was smacked down the way Jeb Bush was (by Rubio) in the last debate, or the way Donald Trump was (by Carly Fiorina) in the second debate. To my ears, neither Bush nor John Kasich is especially strong in this format, but they each had their moments this time. Ben Carson almost disappeared for the first two hours -- but had (again, to my ears) by far the strongest closing statement, reinforcing the reasons why Christian conservatives like him. Even on the undercard event, most candidates did well. It's a skilled bunch.

The most interesting performance, perhaps, was Rand Paul's. Early in this electoral cycle, Paul made a play to be a serious nomination candidate,...



10/23/2015

HILLARY CLINTON TESTIMONY JUST THE BEGINNING OF THIS STORY

Natl1

It was a day of evasive answers, where Hillary Clinton rolled her eyes, palmed her face, shuffled papers, and rarely made eye contact with those on the committee asking her questions. She did everything but break out in a Nixonian sweat.

Democratic media will be defending her for taking so much time to answer questions in a calm voice, claiming she has put all the issues they have never even covered – private servers, hidden emails, donations to her foundation from international entities who were given special favors by the State Department – to bed. But some liberals weren’t so convinced. Politico‘s Jack Shafer tweeted: “I want a bust of Hillary Clinton with her palm to her cheek, eyes rolling.”

One can imagine a lot of people in blond wigs, orange pantsuits, with a hand glued to their face and novelty shop rolling eye glasses wandering around next week on Halloween.

She was asked three times for whom Mr. Blumenthal worked. Taking a page from Middle East politics of old, she denied him three times, finally just saying “He worked for my husband.”

Of course, he actually worked, on a lucrative salary, for the Clinton Foundation, which is as much her organization as it is her husband’s.

In Mrs. Clinton’s mind, receiving more emails – including those about Benghazi and Libya generally – from Blumenthal than from anyone else, while the Clinton Foundation paid him, does not amount to his being in her employ.

As always with the Clinton’s, it depends on what the meaning of “is” is.

The committee spent a lot of time on Blumenthal’s emails, and that’s mainly what liberal media planning to defend Mrs. Clinton are going to concentrate on. Huffington Post‘s reliably establishment flak Amanda Terkel quoted Democrats on the committee as calling the committee’s work a “taxpayer funded fishing expedition” complaining that the costs of the various committees that have looked at Benghazi have spent over $4 million.

They never compare this to the more than $40 million spent investigating Abu Ghraib for a decade. They never note that the “expedition” caught a fish – that only by investigating Hillary and Benghazi did the American public find out that a leading presidential candidate used a secret, private, unsecured server and private emails to do business, a system that was likely hacked by foreign interests and that may have been used by Mrs. Clinton to cover up selling government favors in exchange for donations to her via her foundation.

It may even be where “Al-Qaeda type terrorists,” as Mrs. Clinton identified those...


The Benghazi Hearings Sham

Natl2

The performance was a self-destructive, partisan embarrassment for the GOP.

For three years, Republicans have struggled to find a political scandal in the 2012 attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya. First came an investigation by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Then an investigation by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Then more probes by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, the House Judiciary Committee, the House Armed Services Committee, and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. When those inquiries failed to implicate Hillary Clinton, who was secretary of state during the attack and is now the Republicans’ main target in the 2016 presidential race, the GOP created one more investigative unit: the House Select Committee on Benghazi.

The select committee, Republicans figured, would finally nail Clinton. It scrapped plans to publicly interrogate other officials. It subpoenaed Clinton’s emails and deposed her aides. Gradually, the GOP’s fixation on her became the story. Three weeks ago, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy boasted that the committee’s investigation had driven down Clinton’s poll numbers. Then a former Republican staffer on the committee said he had been fired for refusing to focus on Clinton.

Thursday was the committee’s big day. The panel called one witness, Clinton, andinterrogated her for 11 hours. The committee’s Republicans promised a decisive confrontation, and they delivered it. But it wasn’t Clinton who unraveled. It was the Republicans.

The committee’s chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, started with a defensive speech. Alluding to the seven previous investigations, he declared again and again that “this committee is the first committee” to obtain new information the others had missed. Then he turned on his Democratic colleagues:

I want you to take note during this hearing how many times congressional Democrats call on this administration to make long-awaited documents available to us. They won’t. Take note of how many witnesses congressional Democrats ask us to schedule for interview. They won’t. We would be closer to finding out what happened … if Democrats on this committee had helped us just a little bit pursue the facts.

This wasn’t a spontaneous outburst. It was a prepared statement. Thirteen...



09/15/2015

Sanders Courts Conservative Christian Students

Natl1

In an unlikely appearance at a prominent Christian university, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said Monday the “massive injustice” of income and wealth inequality should unite people across the political spectrum.

From the outset, Sanders noted in his speech at Liberty University that he believed in women’s rights and gay marriage, drawing some cheers but mostly tepid applause in the cavernous Vines Center, where the school regularly assembles during the week. But the Vermont senator said the problems of wealth inequality and economic justice showed that “maybe, just maybe, we can try to work together to resolve that.”

“It would be hard to make the case that we are a just society or anything resembling a just society today,” Sanders said at the influential Christian college in Virginia that usually draws Republican presidential candidates. “In the United States of America today, there is massive injustice in terms of income and wealth inequality.”

His pitch was met with scattered applause and many students sat politely with their arms folded during his appearance, declining to clap.

In a question-and-answer session, the student body erupted when Liberty senior vice president David Nasser noted that many students felt “children in the womb need our protection.” Sanders defended abortion rights, acknowledging it was “an area where we disagree,” but said it should not be a decision dictated by the government.

“I do understand and I do believe that it is improper for the United States government or state government to tell every woman in this country the very painful and difficult choice that she has to make on that issue,” Sanders said.

Sanders’ appearance at Liberty was the boldest example yet of his attempt to appeal to people outside the traditional umbrella of the Democratic party and expand the party’s base — something he called engaging in “civil discourse.” The independent who calls himself a “democratic socialist” is challenging Hillary Rodham Clinton for the party’s presidential nomination.

“It is easy to go out and talk to people who agree with you,” Sanders said, adding, “But it is harder, but not less important, for us to try and communicate with those who do not agree with us on every issue.”

In an interview at the University of Virginia, Sanders contrasted himself...


BULLSHIT FROM BERNIE

Bernie Sanders, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, spoke at Liberty University today. You can read his speech here. It is useful, in that it exposes the extent of Sanders’s ignorance and radicalism. Any deconstruction of a speech this bad must be selective.

I am far, far from being a perfect human being, but I am motivated by a vision, which exists in all of the great religions, in Christianity, in Judaism, in Islam and Buddhism, and other religions.

And that vision is so beautifully and clearly stated in Matthew 7:12, and it states, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them to do to you, for this sums up the war and the prophets.”

Bullshit. Islam does not teach that Muslims should do unto infidels as they would have infidels do unto them. The idea that the Golden Rule sums up the universal wisdom of religious faith is very silly, but is commonly held by non-religious people.

it would be hard for anyone in this room today to make the case that the United States of America, our great country, a country which all of us love, it would be hard to make the case that we are a just society, or anything resembling a just society today.

In the United States of America today, there is massive injustice in terms of income and wealth inequality. Injustice is rampant.

Bullshit. Inequality does not equal injustice. In fact, a society without unequal incomes and wealth would scarcely be worth living in. One wonders: what society, contemporary or ancient, does Sanders consider more just than ours? Soviet Russia? Maoist China? Communist Cuba? He doesn’t say, of course.

In my view, there is no justice, when here, in Virginia and Vermont and all over this country, millions of people are working long hours for abysmally low wages of $7.25 an hour, of $8 an hour, of $9 an hour, working hard, but unable to bring in enough money to adequately feed their kids.

Bullshit. There is a market for labor, whether Sanders likes it or not. Someone who wants to earn more than $7.25 an hour should gain skills and experience that are worth more than $7.25 an hour. Actually, hardly anyone works for that low wage, and 64% of those who do are working part-time. Half are aged 16 to 24, doing precisely what I said–gaining skills and experience so that they can advance and make more. Sanders wants to make it illegal for teenagers and part-timers to work for the wages they can command, even though they want to...



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