GOP GOTV: Block Obama’s Supreme Court Nominee

I had an epiphany this morning.  The goal of the GOP maneuver to block any Presidential nominee and thus temporarily halt the eventual flipping of the law of the land from conservative to centrist is to get out the vote (GOTV) of those dwindling few who who still believe in the GOP brand.

The backbone of the Party of Money is not the few with the money for whom the GOP fights tooth-and-nail, but the religious conservatives to whom the Supreme Court trumps (sorry) governing, sound economic policies, etc.  It’s Guns God and Gays all in one and it’s brilliant in the short term and disastrous in the long term for the GOP.

The goal for the true believers in leadership is maintaining the Presidency and thus the Supreme Court.  But at this point Mitch McConnell must realize that the Presidency will go to a Democrat in 2016.  So why the continued intransigence?

In short, it’s a desperate political play to satiate their base and it will be pounded into the electorate’s mind come November that this is “The Most Important Election of Our Lifetimes” and one the reasons will be the Supreme Court.

Remember, they will not have a President to vote for, only a candidate to vote against.  We already know this in March.

Short Term:  (ie, November 8th, 2016)

This may cost the Republicans a couple of Senate seats such as Wisconsin if the Democrats can make their case well.  It’s the consensus American case that the Senate comes back with a result in less than 125 days and we’ve been doing this for 200 odd years.  However, the motivation to get out the vote (GOTV) to prevent the Supreme Court from flipping will be strong and it’s a way to get GOP voters motivated when there is nothing else that can unite them.

This means there will be a pull for Republicans to get to the polls, if not for President, then at least for the Supreme Court, and that will bolster those very close House races giving an advantage at least until 2 years from now when they will have (likely) 2 years of President Hillary Clinton’s record to run against.

Long Term:

The GOP is the party of no-governing and as much as they will like to call this the Biden Rule, the promised unprecedented 236 day hold on the President’s nominee is the GOP rule.

The leaders of the GOP and what seems to be the entire Party is united to prove the point that the people should chose the next Supreme Court Justice.(1)  What?  What was the idea behind the “republic” in Republican again?  Also, doesn’t that make the Supreme Court Justices blatantly political?  And this isn’t some left-wing blogger who, btw, would agree with you, but the leadership of the conservative party whose entire argument for putting conservative justices like Antonin Scalia on the court is he is apolitical, an originalist, a person who realizes the Constitution is above politics?

And now you are arguing that the President doesn’t get to decide who this nominee should be, but the people should be?

Stepping back, it is a brilliant short term plan to hold as many House seats as possible.  Long term it all but guarantees further Trump phenomena in the GOP’s future as the contradictions in priorities between the actual goal of the GOP – protecting wealth – desperately seeks to find reasons to get the people they depend on to get out and vote.  Even if these reasons, on their face, contradict those conservative principles for which the GOP leaders contend they are fighting.


(1)  From the Conservative Review: The ABCs of Blocking Obama’s Supreme Court Nominee

“Making the current presidential election process a referendum on who the voters want to choose the next Supreme Court justice is the best way to resolve the impasse where the appointing authority, a Democrat, is at loggerheads with the confirming authority, the Republican-controlled Senate. It is a myth that the President appoints and the Senate must vote on a nomination. Republicans in the Senate have power, under the Constitution, to merely do nothing.”

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Birdie Sanders’ Message: Voting Continues!

There was an endearing moment yesterday at a Bernie rally at the Moda Center in Portland – here is a youtube clip if you haven’t seen it.

And a link from Crooks and Liars with a snippet of what Bernie was going on about when the bird happened to stop by and tweet at Bernie.  He was speaking about education and that going to school and doing well should mean something – and it should.

Bernie’s reaction was priceless as he was clued into what the crowd was reacting to.  When the bird then decided to surprise everyone?   Awesomeness ensued.


Anyway, as the Democratic primary chugs along and we have some semblance of a race even into April I think it’s appropriate to take an objective look at where we stand.

Despite Hillary Clinton’s overwhelming lead in the invisible primary (which – and this frustrates me to no end – included Senator Sherrod Brown) which took place before citizens registered even one vote in Iowa, Bernie has galvanized the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party. The results can be seen in the democratic-socialist’s national poll numbers which may have a ceiling for Bernie only due to time and not message.

National Poll
Sceen grab from Real Clear Politics. Click this to open their interactive graphic.

A Bloomberg poll this week had Bernie up by 49-48.  This poll had some very interesting internal numbers which help define what is important to a Hillary voter and visa versa.  One telling number – 75% of those democrats polled said it doesn’t bother them that he describes himself as a democratic socialist.  Only 24% said it did. (pg. 11)


Below is a second or third installment of my MacGyver-inspired Democratic primary map.  I’m using an app called 270-to-Win which is built to allow users to create national maps of the general election, so please ignore the numbers.  These are the results of the primary so far, demonstrating Hillary’s electoral base.  A base of support that looks very similar at this point in the election to the Republican electoral base.

MacGuyver
Blue = Bernie, Red = Hillary.  Pastel red or blue = <5% victory, darker = 5-15% victory, darkest = >15% victory.  Source:  NYT

Another similarity between Hillary and the Republicans she will more than likely be running against this Fall is represented in the meme below which took off earlier this year and that Politifact found to be mostly true.  These are the sum-totals of the top lifetime donors to Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.  I don’t think there can be a clearer message about how either candidate would prioritize labor and capital as one peruses their donors.

vuvatut
BTW, University of California?  WTH?  Also, the above image was a capture through a Google search.  If anyone is familiar with the source of this campaign finance information please let me know.

I’d also like to mention of a speech given by Bill Clinton which made the rounds on right wing media (see below the fold) and TheRoot.com this week in which he said the 8 years of Obama’s presidency represented an “awful legacy”.  I wasn’t able to make it through the entire speech, but what struck me is one of the solutions that Hillary’s husband sees her implementing is creating a one-stop-shop for student loan financing.  He sold this as making life easier for students with crushing student-loan debt.  What I couldn’t help thinking about is how lucrative such a financial vehicle would be for investors.  Just another way for financial institutions to commodify our lives – buy , sell and trade.  And to top it off, he even compares the scheme to home mortgages which seems a little tone-deaf after 2008-9.


And to me, that is the difference that little bird brought into view this week as he or she interrupted Bernie on the importance of an education.  One candidate’s simple view of education and economics – that real government leaders should be in the business of encouraging learning and education AND insuring that hard work actually pays off.

The surrogate for the other candidate – a former President himself – seems to be selling more of the same.  We can succeed if only we put more of our lives into Wall Street’s hands.

In short, I’m with you Birdy Sanders.

Democratic caucuses today in Washington, Alaska and Hawaii.


Continue reading “Birdie Sanders’ Message: Voting Continues!”

The Missouri Compromise and the 2016 Democratic Primary

Democratic Primary 160323
From the NYT. This is a screen-grab from March 23rd.

Last night we added results of the voting in Utah and Arizona.

Why these clear distinctions in green (Sanders) and blue (Clinton) on this map?  Remember this map represents only people who chose to vote in the Democratic primaries.  Some contests are open (where Republicans and independents can cross party lines and vote in the Democratic primary) while others are closed (only Democrats can vote for their Democratic candidate of choice). However, given the stakes in the Republican contests, the people voting in the Democratic primaries are more than likely those that really care about the results.  In other words, more than likely those voting for a Democratic candidate are affirmatively voting for that candidate and not participating in some broader political game.

So what is going on here?  The easy answer is race, or more precisely the lack of racial diversity.  Bernie does better in largely homogeneously white states and districts.  But I don’t think it is that simple.  There is a great deal of cultural and historic context that I believe results in this very clear geographic divide in the Democratic Party.

To add a little of the context, here is the map of free and slave states including the demarcation of the 36th parallel which was meant to separate slave states to the south and free to the north as the nation was planning to expand.

640px-missouri_compromise_line-svg
From Wikipedia. Historic slave states in red and free states in blue. The line is the 36°30′ parallel – the line of the Missouri compromise which was meant to delineate future U.S. slave states

We’ll see where we go from here as the 2016 Democratic Primary votes roll in.  I just hope the Sanders and Warren wing of the Democratic Party is paying attention and figuring out how we can spread the message that there is something wrong in the heart of the Democratic Party.  And btw, that thing has absolutely nothing to do with race or ethnicity, it just seems to correlate well with it from the early maps of the 2016 Primary.  Imho.

 

 

Presidential Debate Topics: (shhh…don’t mention social secur…)

I’ve written briefly about the word count graphic before here where I linked to an excellent graphic by the New York Times.

Well Newsweek (yes, apparently it still exists) used similar data to come up with their own Venn diagram version.

venn

Again, this is a helpful reminder of the real differences in what the two parties talk about.  Please don’t be fooled into the mindset that there isn’t a difference between the parties because there is a difference and it is yuuge!

I’d be interested in others opinions, but it’s pretty clear to me that the difference is one party is trying desperately to govern while the other party desperately tries to define themselves and their constituents by explaining how others outside their party, their country or their favored religions are different and dangerous.

But there is something wrong in Democratopia too.  What did you notice is missing?  One thing that has been on my mind from a debate a few weeks ago is a passing moment where Social Security was mentioned.

This to me seems like a very simple, real policy issue that the Democrats can tackle that would emphasize some basic democratic socialism principles that is fueling Bernie’s candidacy while also being a real and achievable political goal – a tact that Hillary has been emphasizing.

Here is the question that the candidates should be asking:  why don’t we removed the cap on the Social Security tax?

If there is one concrete agenda item I’d like Bernie to add to Hillary’s list if her momentum continues it would be removing that cap.

Also, I’d like to recommend Thomas Frank’s new book “Listen Liberal -or- What Ever Happened to the Party of the People”.  Thomas Frank is the author of a seminal political book of my generation “What’s the Matter with Kansas”.

9781627795395

Beyond the obvious and well worn problems of Republicans and money Thomas talks about the pernicious political influence of the professional class.  He makes the case that the Democrats have lost their focus on being the party of the people (the bottom 90%) in large part because of a meritocracy of professionals (included in the top 10%).

Whatever the reason, I think a very good place for Democrats to start to begin to fix the wealth inequality problem that the Republicans created is to start by improving  Social Security by removing what seems to me to be a frustrating tax break only for those with very high incomes.


Resources:

Via naked capitalism and produced by The Real News Network  back on Jan 16th, 2015…

Removing the Social Security Tax Cap Would Benefit Most Workers

The NYT Changed the News to Favor Clinton

The story by journalistic super-hero Matt Taibbi is here or the response from an outstanding NYT public editor here.

It’s wrong, dead wrong, and there is no excuse just an explanation.  The explanation is even the media is political.  But… duh.

From Samuel Alito and Sonia Sotomayor (Supreme Court Justices) to the NYT (media) where we might hope for objectivity there is no escaping that we are subjective animals and in the end our institutions will be a reflection of this.

Again, not an excuse, it was wrong and the changes to a piece that told the story of how effective Senator Sanders has been was edited to tell the other side of the story.  You know the one, the story a Clinton staffer would have wanted to be written.  Here are two versions of the article from the NYT website.

Bernie Sanders Scored Victories for Years Via Legislative Side Doors

to

Via Legislative Side Doors, Bernie Sanders Won Modest Victories

But here is what we have to remember.  While the race for the Democratic nominee is not over, it’s mostly over.  If Bernie loses it won’t be because of clunky and partisan editor(s?) at the NYT changing a news story the day before the last set of primaries where Bernie seemed to have a very real chance of winning the nomination.

The reason Hillary will will is she has around 50% of the votes from most of the United States so far with a huge advantage in the South.  Here is the map from, of course, the NYT.

Democratic Primary 160316
From the NYT. Democratic primaries margin of victory as of March 16th, 2016

The stealth editing of the NYT story during what may have been one of the most critical moments in the 2016 Democratic primary will not have changed the election results.  What Sanders supporters such as myself need to understand is one unfair editing aside, we will have a long hard slog ahead to return this country to economic sanity for the middle class.

It’s a bigger story than the one the NYT edited this week, it’s one I don’t think the editorial staff at the NYT will write.  It is one that time to time their reporters do and will.  The reason is that as always reality has a liberal (and in this case – democratic socialist) bias.

You can do better NYT, it’s why I will continue to subscribe to what I consider the most important source of news in the U.S.

 

The Law of Rules

President Obama yesterday finally nominated his choice for a Supreme Court Justice, Merrick Garland.  Senate Majority Leader McConnell’s response?  There is such a thing as a “Biden Rule” that sets a president that allows for a 236 day block from any Senate consideration of President Obama’s nominee.

It’s completely understandable given what is at stake to their base, but they are neglecting their Constitutional duty and setting precedent and claiming it is a Democrat’s idea.

So here is the point.  It’s not my preference, but I’m actually OK with the idea in principle.  But what is good for the goose is good for the gander.  If this is a thing, if Presidents are elected for 3/4th of a term when it comes to nominating a Supreme Court nominee, let us make it a law, not a rule.

Having said that, this obstructionism is outrageous, it is about leverage in the President’s selection of a nominee (which has worked) and hanging on to a decades-long strategic advantage for as long as rhetorically possible.  Ironically, this is one example of why Republicans will lose in November only guaranteeing another Democratic appointed nominee, but that should not be an excuse for fair-minded people in both parties to cry “foul”.

From the NYT and this handy graphic of the history of days from nomination to result…

The Senate has never taken more than 125 days to vote on a successor from the time of nomination; on average, a nominee has been confirmed, rejected or withdrawn in 25 days.

Yesterday there were 236 days left until the election.  If Mitch McConnell is good on his word then we will have waited 188% longer to get a result than ever before in American history.

Despite Republicans best efforts and wishes, this is a country that requires governance. The  Republican talking point “the rule of law” sounds good, but this is just another example that our political process is mostly interested in a rule of law if it suits their own purposes.  Democrats and Republicans should not be fighting for a country where we are governed by made-up rules. Senators too need to follow the law and if we are going to be following a new rule, we need to make it a law so we will all follow this in the future.

Why Democrats Win Humboldt Elections by 25%

The short answer is Democrats care about governing and the Humboldt electorate appreciates this (imho).  During debates Democrats talk about the stuff we need to talk about to decide how best to govern while given the same format, Republicans talk mostly about how to protect what they have and from whom.

You can see this in a brilliant graphic today headlining the NYT website.  Below is a snippet of this graph, please visit the site to see the whole thing.  What the NYT has done is categorized topics in a word then counted how often that topic was discussed in both Democratic and Republican debates.  Then they listed these top down from most discussed (Islamic State) to least discussed (hand size).  Then the topic was arranged from left to right  with the topics most discussed by Democrats on the left (of course) and visa versa.

Lots of words, just skip all of them and get to the graph here or the snippet below.  You’ll get it and it’s absolutely fascinating.


Snippet.JPG


 

More on the graphic above later, but just for fun, take a look at the following KKKK (Knights of the…) priorities from this well-researched reaction to Jeffrey Lord’s contention that the KKK is a leftist organization and see how these overlap. (I’ve removed the top two (anti-Semitism and racial segregation) b/c I don’t think either of these are part of the GOP agenda, at least not when using mouth words and it could be argued just as easily by those like Jeffrey Lord that either one is a part of the Democratic or Leftist agenda.)

— The quashing of civil rights for minorities

— The destruction of federal government power

— Anti-homosexual

— Anti-abortion

— Anti-immigration.

 

Well, That Went Well.

March 7th
From the NYT.

Actually it was an historic upset.  Here is Harry Enten from 538 who was convinced that Hillary would win Michigan last night.

“He won the Michigan primary over Hillary Clinton, 50 percent to 48 percent, when not a single poll taken over the last month had Clinton leading by less than 5 percentage points. In fact, many had her lead at 20 percentage points or higher. Sanders’s win in Michigan was one of the greatest upsets in modern political history.”

Again, the people have spoken and they are saying “hold on, why isn’t anyone listening to this guy?”

And nobody is listening, at least not those who normally would or probably should.  Not the NYT, not the Boston Globe, not Paul Krugman, not Sharrod Brown, Allan Grayson (was for her before he was against her), not David Brock, the founder of Media Matters, not Kevin Drum, not Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos and not all but 5 of national Democratic elected officials.

So how the heck is Bernie getting all these votes from largely rural Democrats outside of the South?  It is his message and these Democrats and independents and even possibly cross over Republicans are voting for Bernie’s admittedly single message of bringing back the middle class.

And this is not about identity politics no matter what the exit polls and geography points to.  I don’t want it to be, so maybe this is spin, but I can’t believe that there is a racial difference in the platform Bernie is fighting for.  Yes he comes from a nearly all white state, yes, I’m blogging from a nearly all white county in Northern California, yes, Bernie’s strengths is with Democratic voters of similar demographics (rural and white) but I contend that Bernie’s voter’s understand that Black Lives Matter, not all lives and why.

They understand inequality in justice and wealth when the only variable is race because many of them understand this themselves as they have been on the short side of influence even though they make up the 99%.

Hillary of course won a commanding victory in the Republican strong-hold of Mississippi and won more delegates yesterday because of it.  But Bernie’s upset victory in the populous and diverse Midwestern state of Michigan means that Bernie’s candidacy has every chance to last until the California Primary.

Here is what Bernie is doing and why his candidacy is important:

a) He is changing the Democratic debate on trade and making the point this is not about nationalism, it is about fairness and our government does have the responsibility to fight for a living wage for it’s people.  We’ve voted in some of the world’s toughest labor and environmental protection laws, now we have to make sure that Americans remain working too.  Not only is it good for American jobs, it’s good for the American and global environment as we produce locally and sustainably.

I also will not believe that our gain will mean a loss for citizens of other countries either.  Actually the opposite, I believe we can be a leader worldwide in becoming a high standard of living manufacturing country.

also changing the Democratic dialog on…b) Campaign finance,  c) Universal health care, d) Expanded public education and e) A federal living wage

Additionally, I believe voters are also voting for Bernie despite the polls and the odds because of the integrity of this political ideas.  This is not to say that  Hillary has any less personal integrity, but what Bernie is fighting for is the political idea that the economy and politics serve the people and not the other way around and this idea is not subject to compromise when the other side uses imagination, fiction and denial to make their cause for governing.

So when the Vice President of Donor Relations for the United Way asked during the Fox News Democratic town hall Monday night:  “How do you anticipate getting anything done in Washington when compromise is a bad word”.

Hillary’s answer was her record in finding common ground like working for important programs like CHIP despite the odds.

But after 35 years have proven that Reagan’s ideas and ideals fail consistently, the voters are proving that liberal ideas are in the ascendancy and as one example, we now we finally have the ACA instead of CHIP to cover not only children, but entire families and adults without children.  Don’t forget that not a one Republican compromised to vote for the ACA and they have been throwing tantrums about this effective government program to this day.

In 2008 Hillary lost to the eventual Democratic nominee who, like Bernie, was an elected official who did not fall for the on-it’s-face-wrong idea of attacking Iraq because a group in Afghanistan employing Saudi Arabians attacked the Twin Towers and the Pentagon and murdered thousands of people along the way.  Compromising is definitively not a “bad word” but how do you compromise with destructive and wrong ideas as going back into Iraq in 2003?  The only answer is you shouldn’t have.

I’m sorry Hillary, I would be proud to vote for you if you are the nominee in November, but the past 2 decades of governing actions and policies remain with us today and they need to be a subject we debate.  We should be also noting that we will be re-working the policies of the past 3 and a half decades which continue their decimation of our middle class.

Thanks to states like Michigan and Minnesota Bernie now has another month or two (if not more) to make his case to the American people.


One More Chance for Berniementum

If the voters can’t prove the polls wrong today, I don’t see any realistic chance that Bernie has for the nomination and, as such, his very important message becomes diluted by the simple fact that he can’t win.

Democratic voters in Michigan and Mississippi have their primaries and as always we are listening.  Mississippi will likely go the way of it’s neighbors, but Bernie does need to capture Midwestern states if he is to have any hope.  And if his leadership on the realities of international free trade is not what those in the state of Michigan chose to vote for, then Democrats must begin to realize that Hillary will be the voter-approved nominee.

Also, here is the Fox News town hall last night in case you missed it.  Rating:  Not Bad.


I’ve been working on a post on one of the big lies.  Kevin Drum beat me to one of the links I will use, but he addresses this tone-perfect.  As he does and b/c it is such a short post, I’m going to break a rule and post it here verbatim.

Black Voters Are Going to Be Pissed When They Hear About This — By Kevin Drum | Mon Mar. 7, 2016 2:04 PM EST

Well, crap. Dinesh D’Souza has somehow uncovered the secret history of the Democratic Party: Not only were we once the party of slavery, but racism among prominent Democrats continued “well into the 20th century.” Can you imagine? But we’ve been working feverishly for decades to keep our shameful past swept under the rug, so virtually nobody knows this anymore.

Well, some of us knew it. It so happens that I’m part of the inner circle, so I knew it. But the rest of you sheeple didn’t, and that’s the way we intended to keep it. Unfortunately, someone ratted us out. I guess we should have kept D’Souza locked up longer on that bogus campaign finance violation. The foreign oligarchs who have been funding our propaganda efforts are not going to be pleased.

 

 

Hey, There is a Democratic Debate Right Now

Who knew?

When it’s over, or during the commercial break, check out this amazing fake Trump ad from Saturday Night Live.