SocraticGadfly: 2/7/16 - 2/14/16

February 13, 2016

Nino Scalia is dead: Please, no unseemly faux mourning

Note: That header applies to Bernie Sanders, too — see below.

For those not living in the US political subdivision of Planet Earth, Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, as of earlier today, is dead.

My thoughts?

First, Scalia, with the possible exception of his junior clone, Samuel Alito, was probably the meanest judge on the Supreme Court.

Second, don't try to lighten up his personal life by saying, "But he went to the opera with Ginsburg." For everybody spouting that, Doug Henwood's got your number.
And, beyond that? Herman Göhring was an art lover.

Vox writes up her "moving tribute" to Scalia.

Scalia hated gays and lesbians, period. He pushed hardest the line of "civic religion" on many occasions on about any church-state separation issue, and it often wasn't just "civic religion" but explicit endorsement of Christianity on the state dime, as well as supporting public, corporate school prayers, per the Santa Fe ISD case. As a secularist with a number of gay and lesbian friends, I have reason to loathe and despise him, with no faux mourning needed nor desired. If I didn't cut Chris Hitchens slack on his death, Nino's sure not getting it.

And, as a secularist who feels confident there is no heaven, nor hell, and that an eye for an eye doesn't work in this life, I also have no reason to mourn his demise. He lived a full life, at or beyond his life expectancy. He wasn't black, hispanic or female, so had little discrimination against him. He wasn't physically or mentally disabled.

So, no, there's no need to mourn him. The Onion gets it right in a politer, humorous way.

So, on to speculating about his replacement.

As for this:
I don't know if that's simple aspirational musings by GG, or ahistorical lack of grounding.

Those were Democrats, and that's not the first or last time they've engaged in kowtowing. The GOP Senate of today may well dig in on an Obama nominee less to the left than Kennedy was to the right.

A counterexample for Greenwald?

Back in 1968, even before he ethically self-imploded, the Dixiecrat/GOP working majority in the Senate was doing all it could to obstruct the appointment of LBJ's "payoff" appointee, Abe Fortas. (I've blogged before that LBJ was an idiot in this sense. Fortas was already an associate justice, the GOP and Dixiecrats both were leery of him, knowing his "Landslide Lyndon" lawyering past, and knew that LBJ was a semi-lame duck. I noted that LBJ had a better option: Thurgood Marshall. Dixiecrats would oppose him, but northern GOP Senators couldn't take that risk, especially those up for re-election in 1968, and it would have made for good alternative history, too.) That said, Fortas' nomination didn't happen until June 1968.

And Chuck Grassley, chair of Senate Judiciary, has already said, in his opinion, no nomination now. He's obviously not alone. And that's why Democrats aren't Republicans.

As for who the replacement might be? Cass Sunsein reportedly is already making sniffing noises.

And Jeff Toobin already had a "Democratic farm system" piece. About all on there had at least one of three strikes against them, if not two — appellate court judges, Ivy Leaguers, Obama Administration past or present staffers.

Given that all nine of the current justices have the first two issues, appointing another of similar ilk smacks of establishmentarianism. We'll get someone who will be reliably liberal on the two hot-button issues of abortion and gay rights and that's it. We could well get a tech-neoliberal who's deferential to the Deep State (like Kagan), a squish at times on the free speech portion of the First (like Sotomayor), deferential to unduly broad interpretations of unduly broad tech laws like the DMCA (Breyer and somewhat Ginsburg).

That said, if the wingnuts stall the game out, a President Clinton would nominate similar. A President Sanders would get a chance to live up to his Citizens United pledge.

And, the wingnuts are out in force at the GOP debate. John Dickerson caught Ted Cruz lying about Tony Kennedy's appointment, but didn't push it. If Kennedy was actually nominated in 1987, that's Jesuitical hair-splitting. Besides, it's Reagan's fault for nominating Bork first, then Bork's fault for not pulling his name from consideration, then the national fault of being afraid of a pot-smoking history of Douglas Ginsberg.

As for what happens with cases now in the pipeline, SCOTUSblog answers that.

Meanwhile, back to the faux mourning, or calls not to do it.

Sadly, and maybe because he's gotten his hands slapped by the establishment over his incarceration ideas at Thursday's Dem debate, Bernie Sanders has also jumped the shark in calling Scalia "brilliant" as part of his civic mourning.

Oh, Scalia was very, very smart compared to the average American. But, brilliant as a Supreme Court justice? No.

And, Sanders isn't alone.  Some liberals, or 'liberals," will point to him being at an ACLU dinner. But, that was with ACLU president Nadine Strossen, who along with Executive Director Anthony Romero, first tried to gag board members then purge them.

He showed his "originalism" to be nothing but JellO on recess appointments, on a host of other issues, and above all, on Bush v Gore.

Yes, he did vote to restrict executive powers somewhat in Hamdan. But even that was spoiled by his earlier opposing giving Gitmo detainees access to federal courts. And, contra some allegedly liberal lawyer on Facebook, his concerns about jury trials didn't extend to right to competent legal counsel, death penalty appeals or other things related to the death penalty — in Atkins, he supported executing the mentally handicapped, and he said racial profiling by officers of the law passed constitutional muster.

He also tried to roll back Miranda whenever possible.

The Morning News is trying to portray him as a great civil libertarian on criminal law. He was OK at times. Great? No. See all of the above. Criminals just got lucky in some cases because Scalia's civil libertarianism extended into criminal law. (Except for states that had still criminalized sodomy.)

Beyond that, this plays into Democrats-right-or-wrong whipping out the "But the SCOTUS" arguments against third-party voters like me. Jacobin has their number.

Mark Kleiman puts being a #Clintonista ahead of fighting #WarOnDrugs

Mark Kleiman: Full metal Clintonista
Many people who oppose the stupidity of the War on Drugs know the name of Mark Kleiman as one of the top academic-sector crusaders for a more enlightened drug policy. And, his "more enlightened," as in examining state-by-state marijuana legalization, is often very in-depth and thoughtful.

That's why, after last Thursday's Democratic debate, it was not sad, but disgusting (and also, not at all unexpected, from what I know), to see him showing his in-the-tank Clintonista colors to go "gotcha" on Bernie Sanders' drugs and incarceration thoughts from there:
Consider, for example, this from Bernie Sanders:
… at the end of my first term, we will not have more people in jail than any other country.
That’s a very specific promise, with a timeline attached. And it is a promise that no President has the power to fulfill.

I agree it's a more specific promise than anything Clinton said.

And, I knew before reading the piece that the feds account for only about 10 percent of incarcerations. So, no, Sanders can't do that.

Beyond that, though, it's "gotcha." Clinton, like Sanders (and like all presidential candidates), when they talk about "crime," never limit themselves to federal crimes, the federal judiciary, etc. All of them talk about crime as though it's primarily a federal issue.

That said, there are two things a president could do, by executive action, that would immediately reduce federal drug crime arrests and convictions, AND would send a message to states. 

One would be to move marijuana from the Schedule 1 list to something more fitting it. Marijuana and/or other cannabis products have known medicinal value and have a medically safe usage level. The DEA and FDA, per the Controlled Substances Act, determine what listing a drug fits into, so no Congressional action is needed. Moving it way down, to, say, Schedule IV, is about right. (Lest it stir up wingnuts in Congress too much, I don't think I'd drop it to Schedule V.

After that, all Sanders needs is an executive order to DEA to tell them that, in the wake of a rescheduling, DEA efforts should solely be focused on illicit growing, ie, pot farms in national parks.

Third would be to use another executive order to note that the DEA and other federal law enforcement agencies would no longer participate in federal-state drug task forces that focus on marijuana.

Fourth would be to direct the Department of Justice, and drop hints to the various federal financial agencies, about openly accepting profits from marijuana growers and sellers as part of the rescheduling.

With all that, Sanders can definitely cut federal drug incarceration, and get state drug incarcerations to drop.

Other executive orders could do things like tie COPS grant applications to police use of body cameras, non-incarceration sentencing alternatives, etc.

As for which of the two Democrats would be more likely to do this? It ain't Hillary Clinton, that's for sure.

That said, let's look at the rest of the piece.

Let's start here:
Those of us supporting Hillary Clinton this year are sometimes accused of wanting to settle for political small-ball rather than sweeping change. But no matter how good Sen. Sanders’s intentions may be, he’s not going to be able to change very much for the better unless he’s willing to learn something about the way the world, and the political system, actually operate.
First, as I already knew, from an exchange on Twitter, Kleiman's very much a Clintonista.

That's despite her "super-predators" comment showing she's never been enlightened toward people of color, nor toward stopping the WOD. 

And, I know Kleiman's well aware of this, which only makes his wrong-footing worse.

And, yes, per Brains, other people, reporters as well as pundits, think Bernie made too bold of claims. That said, with Mother Jones, his campaign has followed up with more specifics, more narrowly tailored.

Did he goof by making an overly ambitious statement, and in too concrete of terms? Yes.

Contra Elias Isquith, not Kleiman, as I first thought:

And if the press decides that it no longer sees Sanders as America’s cranky but lovable socialist grandpa, and that it no longer sees his promises as ambitious rather than demagogic, then it could turn on his remarkable presidential campaign — hard and fast.
Is he demagogic? No. If Isquith is implying that he is? Screw you. But, he doesn't seem to be implying that — but he does seem to be hinting that the bipartisan Inside the Beltway media has a finger posed over the "smite" button on their keyboards.

Back to Kleiman. But it's not just on selling out his integrity on the War on Drugs to be an establishmentarian.

Beyond that, others on his group blog are elitist about ending the War on Drugs. In addition to decrying a state-by-state approach to marijuana legalization, they also decry the possible Walmarting of marijuana.

And? If some people want to pay Walmart prices for "junk food" pot rather than break their wallet for Whole Foods type organic, artisinal pot, that's their choice, isn't it?

As I've blogged before, the real can-do candidate? One who's been flexible in meeting goals, like the community land trust when he was mayor of Burlington? Bernie Sanders.

And, stuff like this is all part of the "kitchen sink" that Sanders already warned about.

On the other hand, Kleiman's intellect in general is sometimes overrated. He, like Doug Henwood, and perhaps a few other non "liberal" people of the left, for some strange reason thinks the Bundys et al are not terrorists.

And, he's flat-out wrong. They have used fear and intimidation as deliberate tactics — and it worked two years ago.

I hadn't seen that piece until after I started this blog post. Having now seen it, I've lost yet more respect for Kleiman. I'm like the 91 percent of New Hampshire Democratic voters who voted based on valuing integrity.

February 12, 2016

Backfire on poking Putin with a sharp stick — Seven Days in May?

This piece squares VERY much with news 1 month ago that, when Martin Dempsey was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, DIA undercut Dear Leader on Syria, Russia. It also explains how warhawks in State contributed to the Ukraine semi-coup and more, as well as how the sarin attacks were NOT by the government of Assad, something the U.S. has tacitly, but not formally, admitted. There's a time when Realpolitik is actually a good thing, not a bad one.

Former Colin Powell consigliere Larry Wilkerson confirms all this, calling both Ukraine and Syria proxy wars by the "Deep State" of American empire.

Yes, does Putin have a lot of bad behavior? Of course.

Have we poked him repeatedly and strongly with a sharp stick? Absolutely, beginning with both sides of the bipartisan warhawk establishment wanting to bring Georgia into NATO.

This is yet another reason I will NOT vote for Hillary Clinton. Oh, and the Schmuck Talk Express, John McCain, was just as devious and stupid on this if not worse. (The nation of Georgia was just as stupid, arguably, for believing the U.S. would actually do something to help it after it provoked Russia into war.)

It's also why I think there's a left-liberal case for Realpolitik of some sort. And, that needs to be noted, because some left-liberals, in decrying the bipartisan foreign policy establishment, may risk a left-liberal version of Wilsonianism in its place.

This all said, I mentioned a piece one month ago.

The venerable Seymour Hersh detailed how, during the time period mentioned above, the Defense Intelligence Administration deliberately undercut Obama's foreign policy in Syria by moving closer to the Assad regime and, by extension, Russia, going as far as to leak intelligence to Russia via Turkey.

This is (the information, not Sy's writing) the "good," the bad, and the ugly, all in one. It's good in that the DIA, as combined with the first piece, kept Dear Leader from a possible missile launch against Assad, let alone the possibility of putting boots on the ground in Syria. That "good" is in scare quotes because it's a very relative good and was brought about in very scary ways.

It's bad in that this was some sort of "Seven Days in May" situation. Brass hats and scrambled eggs should never be running our policy. Per Clemenceau, if war is too important to be left to generals, that goes in spades for anything contingent to it.

And, back to the first link. Anybody who knows anything knows that Victoria Nuland is a neocon "piece of work," married to Robert Kagan of the neocon family of even bigger pieces of work.

Who knows, given the second link, how much Dear Leader even is aware of some of this until after it happens? And, whether he is or is not, things like this are why, even should Bernie Sanders get the Democratic nod, I'll likely still vote Green. He's not a neocon, but he's not outside the box of the bipartisan foreign policy establishment, either. I said last week that MSNBC missed some real foreign policy questions, to the left of Sanders as well as Clinton.

And, Dear Leader didn't have to appoint her to an assistant secretary of state position. (It's political, not civil service.)

That, and the fact that Bernie's still inside the two-party/bipartisan foreign policy establishment box, is the ugly. On issue after issue, Dear Leader's been even more of Beltway president on foreign policy than domestic policy. Sanders is basically Beltway bipartisanship-lite.

This is all "the ugly."

And, it has fallout, like turning Syria into a football, having Russia highly distrust us there, so that even a temporary cease-fire there becomes a tussle. As of Feb. 16, that cease-fire looks shakier by the day.

Again, Putin's not nice, nor trustworthy. But, siccing Georgia on him as a two-bit ankle-biter, followed by the quasi-coup in Ukraine, were not the right answers.

#DemDebate: Rapid reactions on lack of true foreign policy questions

Overall grades?

Sanders a B+, Clinton a C.

Domestic policy? Sanders an A-, Clinton a B-.

Foreign policy? Sanders gets a B-, Clinton a C-.

Strategery and presentation? Sanders B+, Clinton B.

1. Domestic policy

Clinton, on domestic policy, managed to not get grilled on how she has supported private prisons, re minority quality of life and living standards. But, on the super-PAC issue, Judy Woodruff hit her right between the eyes with that "horns of a dilemma" question about why, if it's wrong for GOP candidates to get all that PAC money, much of it from financiers, it's not wrong for her. And, even less than her ability to answer Wall Street-related questions in previous debates, was she able to answer this.

Otherwise, her attempt to look "tough" on Wall Street? As Mark Shields of PBS News Hour put it afterward, that's like trying to look more anti-busing than George Wallace on busing — while debating him.

She did try to tangle and obfuscate some domestic issues, like immigration, in bureaucratic or Senate voting snares. However, for someone who thinks ISIS is infiltrating all of our computers, she must think that none of us have Google.

Missing? As it has been from all Democratic debates — reproductive choice issues. Sanders might be a hair more liberal than her. He's certainly more so on gay rights, though she tried to make things look different at the end.

2. Foreign policy

Sanders did score some very good points related to Henry Kissinger. Unfortunately, while talking about coups, he didn't talk about the 2009 coup/semi-coup in Honduras that occurred during Clinton's watch as Secretary of State — a change of government that was manipulated by her and her boss, Dear Leader. Nor, per a blog post that's going up this afternoon, did he talk about how we repeatedly sandbagged and kneecapped Russia, from the semi-coup in Ukraine two years ago to prodding Georgia into war against Russia (strongly backed by Clinton as well as lots of GOPers) before that.

(And, I wonder how many Millennials are googling Henry Kissinger?)

Lawrence Korb, former director of national security studies at the Council for Foreign Relations, claims that Sanders is a lot more "serious" on foreign policy than Clinton paints him. Unfortunately as underscored by the piece running in a site like Politico, that's not necessarily a selling point for Sanders in my book. (But it does refudiate Hillary Clinton's "we don't know who you're talking to on foreign policy claim.)

Of course, Sanders had a big whiff at the start of the second hour, in the lead-in question about whether he would cut any federal programs. Sure, he talked about "auditing" the Defense Department (no mention as to whether that would include auditing the cost to build F-35 planes that Bernie wants in Vermont), but he whiffed on giving a straight answer like:
I will cut the Department of Defense and the CIA.
How hard is that to say? Jill Stein can say it, and chide you for not saying it.

Unfortunately, besides no questions on Honduras, and both candidates getting Russia wrong, we had nothing (are you surprised) about Israel/Palestine. We also had nothing about foreign aid, and little about trade (which is surprising). I blogged about the foreign policy questions missing from the previous debate, and with only one more on the Dems' schedule for now, don't expect that to change. It's issues like these that will be key to me to seeing if Sanders, should he beat odds and gets nominated, has any chance of swaying me away from Dr. Jill Stein or whomever the Greens nominate, as I've already blogged. At least he didn't talk about "crushing" ISIS, unlike a week ago. More weirdly yet, no North Korea questions.

Clinton, smartly here, waved the experience flag. Knowing about things like Honduras and Russia, I rate her lower than much of the MSM world probably does.

On the "presentation" side, I agree with David Brooks, among others, that Sanders picked up more steam as the debate went further on. That said, I think focusing on Clinton's "low blow" (and it was at least as much of one as the "artful smear" she alleged he's done) rattled him somewhat during his close, and interrupted his momentum.

That said, Sanders showed even more a sense of humor than he did a week ago in New Hampshire.

The audience was from a university, but, in the second half of the debate, Clinton got more cheers a fair amount of the time. Dunno if that was because more tickets were sold to the general public, or if it was a higher percentage of minority students than at UNH last week and they still don't back Sanders, or what.

Turns out that the Wisconsin Democratic Party was in charge of ticket allocation. And a bunch of older white establishmentarians got theirs. I've not heard Sanders protest an unfair allocation, but I don't think he got his on tickets. So, like his muted protest about the Iowa Democratic Party's stonewalling on a caucus audit, this is probably about preparing to fold his tents at the right time.

Or else, per Clinton wrapping herself in the flag of Obama, and Milwaukee neighboring Chicago, some attendees were naive about Dear Leader. However, this mainly seems to be stacking the deck against Sanders, and him not — at least for public consumption — protesting.

February 11, 2016

2016 vs 2008: Two GOPers vs one Dem

As the GOP primaries continue to play out, I can't help but look at Havana Ted Cruz and Marco Polo (Rubio) and compare them to Dear Leader eight years ago.

Surely both, a couple of years ago, looked at Obama's rise to fame, as a Wunderkind, and said, "I can do that."

Of course, they made a couple of incorrect simplifying assumptions, or oversights, or something, that meant they were wrong.

First, neither of them were "anointed" at the 2012 GOP convention, unlike Obama at the 2004 Democratic confab. Obama was deliberately eyeballed by John Kerry for his keynote spot.

Second, whether it matters positively in the GOP primaries, or negatively in the general, if one of them is nominated, while both are technically Hispanic minorities, both are really whiter shades of pale in that regard.

Rubio, at least, like Obama, had pre-Senate elective office experience. Cruz, before his Senate run (and the luck of the delayed 2012 primary) had never before ran for, let alone been elected to, public office. With the luck of a low-turnout primary in a highly red state, he didn't face a real challenge in getting that Senate seat.

Looking ahead, to the rest of this campaign and beyond?

If Rubio can't rebound from his New Hampshire implosion (and per old Florida friends and pundits, his Robot Rubio is a long-standing problem), his larger political career is toast. Bill Nelson is up for re-election for Florida's other Senate seat in 2018, but I don't see Rubio beating him if he tries. Rick Scott is term-limited as governor at the same election, but I can't see Rubio winning that statewide office either, assuming that Robot Rubio picks back up again.

Cruz? If he isn't elected, he can run for the Senate again in 2018. However, if not nominated, or more, nominated but not elected, I expect he'll get a massive amount of Senate shunning in the future, primarily from his own party — even more than now. He could run for governor in 2018, in a steel cage death match against Greg Abbott, but realistically, that's not an option.

Frankly, him pulling a Sarah Palin wouldn't totally surprise me.

That said, it does make one wonder what would have happened to Dear Leader, had he not been elected in 2008. He might have tried running again in 2012, had Clinton lost to McCain. Otherwise, he probably would have left a light, almost invisible, mark in the Senate.

February 10, 2016

On to Nevada/South Carolina

Not a lot to say on the Democratic side, other than warning about repeated spinning, even the #WarOnSanders, to ramp up, if but subtly, in days ahead.

Bernie crushed Clinton, including having a double-digit margin of victory among women; in fact, he won every demographic except senior citizens and the rich. That includes winning among Democrats, not just independents. So much for Gloria Steinem, Madeleine Albright, Rebecca Traister, Katha Pollit and many other gender-feminist types playing the solidarity/token card. Yet, I'm sure we'll have part of the MSM spinning on even that. (On cue, post-NH, Pollit is doubling down on stupid, and doubling down on Steinem.)

What next? That rumored staff shake-up for Chez Clinton is surely coming up, along with more spin from John Podesta to deny that's what happened.

In a quick turnaround (Debbie Wasserman Schultz trying to hide Clinton's loss?) the next Democratic debate is already on Thursday, and not in Las Vegas, for the Democratic caucus there, but Milwaukee, for some bizarro-world DNC reason.

Dems caucus there on Saturday, Feb. 20, then primary in South Carolina a week later.

Real Clear Politics has no fresh polling in Nevada. In South Carolina, Clinton has a big lead, but already in the last month, Sanders has gained about 10 percentage points and Clinton's lost the same. Old Nevada polls (as in late 2015), without trendlines, show a 20-point gap, but that was before some Hispanic Democrats started to #FeelTheBern out in the desert.

Finally, a bit of bizarro world on Facebook. (It was on the stream of a person who normally posts as "public," so I can blog about it.

A young black Clinton supporter commented on the thread of a person, a Facebook friend of mine and of his, though this Clinton supporter is not a friend of mine, about, well, this:

As a black man I have this to say: Black people have themselves to thank for going to prison due to drug use. Black people tend to heavily concentrate themselves in areas where drug use is high. This is a fact. Police will go to areas where drug use is highest. This means that more black people are going to be going to jail for drugs. Nobody is making black people do drugs.

I said that national drug rates were even by ethnicity. When that didn't satisfy him, I said that he was ignoring largely white "hillbilly heroin" in Appalachia and meth in the Midwest and South, as well as national drug use statistics. I added the line about Clinton and her "superpredators" in the 1990s doing more damage to minority communities than drugs themselves. I also rhetorically asked if blacks chose to cluster themselves that way.

As Michelle Alexander, author of "The New Jim Crow," puts it, Clinton doesn't deserve black votes, but many African-Americans? "It seems we're eager to get played again," Alexander says.

Part of the damning story is not just the incarcerations themselves, but how the Clintons (sic, if she's the campaign manager of their team) made it harder to get jobs or into college after prison, as Alexander shows they did.

Riffing on a famous, perhaps somewhat stereotyping, yet certainly with grains of truth, phrase about "self-hating Jews," I almost said the same to him. I didn't, but I was tempted. It's true, and no, sir, ignorance is no excuse in this case, especially if you're using a picture of Clinton as your Facebook icon.

Especially since he has images of Bill Nye and other theoretical symbols of skepticism. 

I did poke him with a sharp stick in another way, telling him that of New Hampshire Dems who said honesty was important, 91 percent went to Sanders. Maybe he's poor, and that's the self-loathing? I'm trying to still be charitable.

At the same time, Sanders voted for the 1994 crime bill too.

Moving on .... 

The GOP? Other than Trump doing better than my expectations, it did about as I figured.

Since, for it, South Carolina comes before Nevada, Trump doesn't get a lot of immediate bounce. His supporter's P-bomb might have been OK in the Granite State, but I have a feeling it will come back to hurt him in the Palmetto State.

Related? He's going to get the cat-belling on his past pro-choice stance. And, about all the candidates have incentive to do that, now. Given that he surprised many, including me, with the depth of his support, he's a targeted man, now, and this is the issue for South Carolina.

The next GOP debate is at 8 p.m. Central on Saturday, Feb. 13, in Greenville, South Carolina. Trump is currently leading in polls, but I can't believe that's going to stand up.

Kasich, with his surprising second-place finish (surprising in its margin) may do his best to stay above the fray. Kasich also, for New Hampshire voters, seemed the best "establishment" alternative. But Marco (Rubio) Polo, after his New Hampshire cratering, has no choice but to go on the attack.

Jeb!, if he's smart, rides in Rubio's wake with some "me-too" shots. He and Kasich will probably get most of the Christie backers, though some could go Trump.

On the other hand, the three, plus Cruz, may play Alphonse-and-Gaston with each other, each waiting for the other to draw Cruz's ire. The debate is being hosted by CBS, so there's no Faux News type angle to play to the Religious Right and do the candidates' dirty work on Trump for them.

Overall, New Hampshire was glass half-empty, glass half-full for Bush. He finished ahead of Rubio, with enough incentive to stay in through the Florida primary in mid-March, if nothing else. On the other hand, he couldn't quite catch Cruz, which would have given him a real boost.

Christie, by his words Tuesday night, sounds like he'll withdraw. And he has.

I'm also assuming Fiorina and Carson have the brains to drop out. She has; no word yet from America's First Black Pharaoh.

The GOP primaries in South Carolina on Feb. 20, then caucuses in Nevada just three days later. That too could hurt Trump. His sprawling populism probably plays halfway well out there, but the short turnaround might not.

February 09, 2016

What to watch for in the #NHPrimary

First, the Democrats.

No. 1 with not just one bullet, but several? Mainstream media spinning against Sanders. Pseudo-data analysts Nate Silver Biggus Dickus and Sam Wang are already claiming Sanders "has to" win big to get momentum for Nevada and South Carolina. They ignore that his polling among African-Americans is already on the upswing, that he got the endorsement of former NAACP head Ben Jealous and that superdelegates aren't bound to anybody.

(Brains believes I'm too optimistic on Democratic superdelegates. I noted back to him that my angle is they "may" shift somewhat to Sanders. It's not a "will." No, I'm not that naive. I added that this is just part of another medium-small blogger's efforts at, to use a hoops analogy, working the refs. And there's two sets of refs here — the Democratic establishment where the supers are, and the MSM.)

Spinning against Sanders? Indeed, I Tweeted last night that #SpinningAgainstSanders needed to be a hashtag through Wednesday morning. Better yet, per this hard-hitting Jacobin piece, might be #WarAgainstSanders.

This hatchet job by Paul Starr of The American Prospect is the latest. It trots out the tired old "Sanders raised no money for other Dems last year," as one line. Well, considering he didn't even announce his presidential candidacy until mid year, that's irrelevant.

Another irrelevance is that Sanders' version of single-payer has zero co-pays or anything else.

Hey, Paul, this is one of the biggest complains I have against Dear Leader. On Obamacare, on the stimulus package for the Great Recession and many other things, he has negotiated away the compromise in public, in advance, on issue after issue.

If Sanders gets elected, I'm sure he'll negotiate compromises for getting true single-payer coverage as part of the political process.

That relates to No. 2, which is a carry-over from last Friday's Democratic debate. How hard will Sanders hit back against the Democratic Establishment and Clinton Empire? As I noted in my blogging about that debate, his calls for the Iowa Democratic Party to audit or recount raw vote numbers were less than full-throated, and his dander was less than fully up after Clinton accused him of an "artful smear."

The Jacobin piece raises some of these very issues. Friend Brains also raises the issue of whether Bernie isn't greasing the skids to have that happy dance at the Democratic National Convention, with an appropriate submission before that.

If he doesn't win by eleventy-seven points, seeing how Sanders fights the MSM spin is itself going to be a "tell."

Sanders needs to claim anything over 10-12 points as a "big win" and specifically cite the "War on Sanders," plus crossover voting if it hurt him, as part of that.

Finally, are rumors of a Clinton staff shake-up true? If so, how deep of a shake-up? Her performance in New Hampshire will tell. As for John Podesta's "zero truth" claim, ain't buying that one at all. Politico, meanwhile, has updated its original piece.


Second, the Republicans.

I'm still seeing Trump as winning, though I think the polls may be shooting high, as in Iowa, and he could well finish below 25 percent. If Cruz and Rubio both finish below 20, but Bush and Kasich both are above 10 percent, this race gets more interesting, as it keeps all of them on life support. If Christie comes in above 10 percent, then it really gets fun.

Looking at Real Clear Politics' latest polling aggregate, especially if The Donald is overpolling, this is all very possible.

Probably the GOP's worst nightmare wold be Trump winning, but not breaking 25 percent, with Cruz and Rubio functionally tied for second and both below 20 percent, followed by Bush and Kasich both above 10 percent. That said, some polling indicates one or both of them could finish ahead of both Cruz and Rubio.

Why do I say that?

Trump would be able to claim a win, and some sort of crossover popularity. Cruz would look weak anong non-RR Republicans. Rubio would look weak for not building on alleged Iowa momentum, and not setting himself apart as THE "establishment alternative" to Cruz and Trump. Bush would get enough of a boost to guarantee staying in until Super Tuesday, and probably past that (see below). And Kasich would get just enough boost to not be written off.

As for the likelihood of this? I still Trump's support is thin, though I don't think the P-bomb will severely hurt him.

I mean, per the video above, Trump's core audience actually eats it up.

More likely to hurt Trump? Per Charles Pierce, someday, more and more of his backers are going to realize that they're "them" and not "us" and never will be "us" in the money-fueled world of Trump.

Meanwhile, back to videoland

This 2013 video may be a portent of the future for "Robot Rubio."

 Robot Rubio malfunctioned again on Monday and Cruz is just not a good fit for New Hampshire.

That leaves the door open for Bush, Kasich and even Christie. (Which is why I don't get Squirrel Hair sticking it out, even given the time crunch of Kentucky's GOP caucus. And, is he so weak in his home state he couldn't get that pushed later?)

And, this door is open even if Trump does break 25 percent, because of Robot Rubio's malfunction.

Up next on the GOP primary calendar?

South Carolina is hard-core Religious Right and should favor Cruz. But, will his apology for the Ben Carson shenanigans stand? Or will he start looking slippery? And, is Rubio the fallback Religious Right candidate, or whom?

Nevada? The populist-to-libertarian portion could go strong for Trump. Hispanics might tilt Rubio, then Bush.

That leads to Super Tuesday. A number of GOP states have 15 percent vote cutoffs to get delegates. I expect that Christie's going to miss enough that, even if he's around until here, he's gone afterward. A few are winner-take-all past a certain threshold, including Texas, with a 50-percent threshold.

That's not happening. "Gang up on Cruz" will make sure he doesn't get favorite-son winnings here.

After that, March 15 becomes big. Florida is a Bush-Rubio death match. Well, it's a certain death match for Jeb, if he's still around. Midwestern Missouri and Illinois will be likely targets for Kasich, if he's still in (possible?) and Christie (very unlikely.) Trump will probably stir things up in Florida, but otherwise target those Midwestern states plus Ohio. Cruz will probably target Florida plus North Carolina.


Third, the crossovers.

Do Dems or Dem-leaners go over to vote for Republicans? If so, how big a tide and for whom? The same applies to GOP leaners. This could add to volatility. At the same time, we shouldn't read too much into the "independent voter" idea.

And, with Trump and Sanders, especially, I don't think polling can well address this.



1. Sanders and Kasich have won the legendary Dixville Notch

February 08, 2016

TX Progressives looks forward to primaries

The Texas Progressive Alliance reminds everyone that early voting for the primaries begins next week as they bring you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff published interviews with three of the candidates who hope to succeed Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner in the Legislature.

Libby Shaw contributing to Daily Kos canít decide whether the junior U.S. Senator from Texas, Ted Cruz, more closely resembles former Senator Joe McCarthy or President Tricky Dick Nixon in his campaign tactics. The Texas Blues: Everything is Bigger Especially the Tricksters and Their Sleazy Tricks.

Socratic Gadfly, while liking many things about last Thursday's Democratic debate, regretted the missing foreign policy questions that likely won't get asked in ANY "mainstream media" debate.

"What's the most you ever lost on a coin toss?" asked PDiddie at Brains and Eggs of a prominent national political blogger.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wants everyone to know that South Texas people are waiting for clean water, too.

Nonsequiteuse has run away to join the circus. Or, gone to New Hampshire to meet the candidates.

Neil All People Have Value said we are not always best represented by people who resemble us in some superficial manner. APHV is part of

Egberto Willies has video of David Cobb from Move to Amend at Kingwood College.


And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Scott Braddock reports on the latest attempt to move the Texas GOP even further to the right.

Glen Maxey dropped by Juanita's to give an update on how the Democratic effort to get absentee ballots out to people is going.

The Lunch Tray notes that Ted Cruz wants your kids to eat more French fries.

OutSmart salutes 10 black LGBT leaders in Houston.

Mary Flood calls for an end to judicial candidates spamming requests for favorable votes in the Houston Bar Association poll.

BOR implores us to support Rep. Jessica Farrar against her notoriously hateful non-Democrat primary opponent.

Grits for Breakfast discusses the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

What $675,000 really bought from Hillary Clinton

Look, Bernie Sanders is doing the best he can to fight the continued Overton Window rightward shift of the Democratic Party — without doing too, too much to alienate too, too much of the hierarchy of that party. I sincerely believe that he will, if he doesn't get the nomination, be like Jesse Jackson and accept it, accept his crumbs at the convention and be a good boy.

It's why he hasn't directly called for an audit of Iowa caucus returns and hasn't pushed Clinton harder on doing the same.

It's why, although he showed some angst at her "artful smear" comment last Thursday, he didn't go into gasket-blowing mode.

And, it's also why he's willing to go down a rabbit hole about "content" for the %675,000 that Clinton got for speaking to Goddam Sachs, and the $225,000-$400,000 a pop she got for other such speeches.

Look, Bernie, and people who haven't become real left-liberals yet.

These companies were buying two things.

One was prestige for themselves. But that was just the appetizer.

The other was "access" in a potential, even anticipated, even desired, Clinton presidency.

And, Bernie, when are you going to call a spade a spade?

Nothing Hillary Clinton said was actually worth $225,000-$400,000 to any banksters. They have Ph.D. financial analysts they pay that much or more for real insight.

No, they wanted access.

Just like, a year from now, Barack Obama will start getting the same $225,000-$400,000, but in payback for the access they've gotten over his two terms. Let's not forget about Dear Leader's $500,000 "checking account with Jamie Dimon and JP Morgan Chase. That's beyond Obama running a generally money-grubbing administration.

You know what another term for "access" is?


So, Bernie, are you going to call a spade a spade, or not?