Monday, February 29, 2016

Sanders, The Confederacy and Super Tuesday

Light the Candle So Hope Can Find You
We knew this was coming...

As the prospect of electing Sanders as the 45th President began to "enter the realm of the possible," the sense of promise and relief was delirious and out rightly inebriating. A few of us may have indulged in the fantasy of imagining an electoral "ground swell," a clean sweep of victory after victory right into the Oval Office.
Super Tuesday states [RealClearPol]

Instead, we're eating cold corn on a chilly February, winter morning as we watch Mrs. Clinton racking up one primary success after another. Worse, this trend of events isn't going to let up any time soon. Super Tuesday is coming.

Surely, the responsible reaction to this is what might be generously labeled utter despair. And if utter despair is still not a grave enough companion for our dismal resignation, we can all just light our self-immolation torches and add "hair on fire."

Well, MeanMesa isn't having any of this. First of all, we'll put this post writing "on hold" for a few minutes to make another contribution to the Sanders campaign.

Done! It's painless. MeanMesa always contributes $10. Hopefully, $10 is enough. We are legion.

Steady. Steady. Hold your fire! [source -gif]
We haven't even joined the fight, yet. This is no time to lose our nerve. The stakes are even higher than ever before.

Now, back to business.

The Networks and the Confederacy Primaries
Necessary to elect a Democrat as President?
Evidence of a "Clinton surge?"

When we look over the map [above] in the cold light of day, we may want a "second opinion" about just how hopeless things have become for Sanders. Why should we be looking to states such as these Southern Republican basket cases for the future direction of the country? 

Further, what does it tell us when one of the Democratic candidates rushes headlong to "capture" the most beaten down, desperate voters in primaries which will have no particular influence on the November election? It's glitter. The electoral college votes from the Confederacy will be for the Republican nominee, not the Democratic nominee.

 2012 Presidential Election [map]
Thanks to Howard Dean's "50 state strategy," Obama actually pulled some of the Confederate states, but that occurred before the right wing media had an eight year window for "poisoning the soup." MeanMesa doubts if any Southern states will be casting their electoral college votes for anyone with a "D" on the 2016 ticket.

Rising to the occasion, the media narrative has also been predictably out of date. For weeks every pundit with access to a microphone has been relentlessly repeating the "dire prediction" that the minority vote -- in particular, the black vote -- in these "all important" early primaries in the Confederate states would surge blindly toward Hillary. Although this "prophecy" was about as risky as predicting that the sun would rise in the morning, all these "cutting edge," paleolithic, political wonks have taken great pride in the "astonishing" accuracy of these forecasts of theirs.

In other words there can be absolutely no doubt that these ossified political "experts" are frantically promising that they have their "fingers on the pulse" of the very latest political trends. At the very least MeanMesa assumes that this is the "claim to fame" the network marketers are plying with the toothpaste commercial corporate advertising crowd.

The reporting on this has become surreal in the last few weeks. The "background stories" accompanying these insightful predictions have grown so awkward and grotesque as to merit a teeny bit of straight thinking -- Short Current Essays style. No matter how embarrassingly tilted the corporate narrative becomes, there is always room for a little common sense and fresh air.

We can consider the implications of what is being "produced" as the media narrative by focusing on a few, obvious questions.

1. Why are the pundits insisting that the Confederacy's minorities are so hell bent on blindly supporting Mrs. Clinton? How permanent is this trend? 
2. Is there any reason to expect the 2016 electoral pattern to be appreciably different this time from the results of the Obama/Romney election? The hill billies and bigots of the GOP base remain in roughly the same electoral locations as they inhabited in 2012 -- i.e. the tumble weed, fly over zones.
3. How can we characterize the suffocating specifics of this unilateral media narrative? Why is the chorus of various voices in the "progressive" media all so suspiciously citing the same explanations and drawing the same conclusions? [Have they adopted persuasive, soporific unanimity of the right wing's "morning talking points" emailed from their network Owners' personal think tanks?]

There are, no doubt, plenty of questions which could be added to the list, but let's take a look at these three in a little more depth.

The Clinton Lock on the Southern Minorities
It may sound reasonable at first, but is it real or just convenient?

1. Why are the pundits insisting that the Confederacy's minorities are so hell bent on blindly supporting Mrs. Clinton? How permanent is this trend? 

MeanMesa suspects that this "imaginary inevitability" has deep roots in the racist milieu which defines the black experience in the Confederacy. Those of us fortunate enough to live almost anywhere else in the country have difficulty understanding how incredibly awful racial conditions in States such as Alabama and Mississippi can become. [Sanders' Super Tuesday Problem - DailyKOS]

States Under Complete GOP Control
Conditions for minorities there are aggravated even more by the catastrophic, reactionary economic policies which have been shoe horned into state law by these red state governments.

Most of these states have been gerrymandered by order of whichever Republican billionaire happens to hold sway locally. Voter suppression is rampant after the Republican controlled Supremes demolished most of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. [Voting Rights Act - ACLU]

When we isolate the Confederate states below the Mason-Dixon Line, we can see precisely where Mrs. Clinton hopes to "absorb" these minority voters. MeanMesa uses the term: "absorb" because these primary victories are largely attributable to "default" -- they are largely based on political factors other than specific or difficult to interpret campaign policy proposals. These "default" votes may derive primarily from name recognition and a quite informal consideration of her record.
Mason-Dixon Line [map]
[Missouri, Kentucky and Virginia
 are sometimes included.

The Southern minorities have been screwed repeatedly by both the national and state political systems in the past. They are understandably inclined to support the candidate, in this case Mrs. Clinton, which seems to offer the "safest bet" with respect to remaining loyal to their interests once elected. Because of this, these voters are less likely to be swayed by the "establishment vs. outsider" argument than the more urbane voters elsewhere.

Southern state minority voters are suffering from a beaten wife syndrome with a little Stockholm Syndrome added in for flavor. This is not an editorial conjecture. In this context the Clinton primary victories are an almost inevitable outcome. They will continue to roll in during the Super Tuesday contests, further menacing Sanders supporters who were hoping for "against the odds" outcomes.

Have Romney's Voters Moved to New Districts?
Not really. They're just now getting around 
to removing the MITT signs from their front yards
 so they'll be ready for Trump.

2. Is there any reason to expect the 2016 electoral pattern to be appreciably different this time from the results of the Obama/Romney election? The hill billies and bigots of the GOP base remain in roughly the same electoral locations as they inhabited in 2012 -- i.e. the tumble weed, fly over zones.

No matter which line of wishful thinking is the most tempting for the Pollyanna crowd among Sanders supporters, indulging the myth that Trump's meteoric ascension will spontaneously deflate from its own weight is reckless and politically dangerous. There are tens of millions of radios and televisions perpetually tuned into the wild, hateful broadcasts from FOX and the dithering, confused, feckless voices of the darling, well dressed "news" anchors employed by the industrial networks.

There is a huge population of Americans who are still wandering around in media induced confusion. We know what they have been led to think, what ideologue propaganda they consider to be absolute fact and what hateful, "post-Biblical" religious fears they are experiencing at the hands of savagely political, tax exempt preachers and priests.

17.5% of the delegate count it takes to win.
[Clinton Confederate Primary Victories 270toWin]
However, on the brighter side the vast majority of these lost souls are still precisely where they were when the Mittens was rambling fast and loose in the 2012 election. This doesn't mean that we can look over the electoral college map which showed Obama's election victory and breathe a sigh of relief, but it does tell us that the Democrats' "blue wall" is still there.

The point here is that Democratic Confederacy primaries and Democratic "blue wall" primaries will produce results as different as wrist watches and alligators. When "blue wall" primary voters have had their chance, Hillary's "big wins" in Super Tuesday primaries will slide back "into perspective."

The media narrative will almost certainly flash these primary results from the Confederate states to promote the idea that Sanders is essentially "out of the race."

This is probably fine. It may very well entice the Clinton machine to "take a break" between Super Tuesday and the start of the "blue wall" primary elections.

Mrs. Clinton's Wet Dream:
Converting Really Bad Media Coverage
Into Democratic Convention Delegates
Sure, it IS tricky, but the stakes are high.
Happily, NO ONE can remember the role of the Fourth Estate.

3. How can we characterize the suffocating specifics of this unilateral media narrative? Why is the chorus of various voices in the "progressive" media all so suspiciously citing the same explanations and drawing the same conclusions?

The media narrative is like the seven minute video tape which films continuously at the all night Quiki-Mart. It's only stopped when there's a robbery. If any of the blog's visitors are masochistic enough to "sample" even little nibbles of the corporate medias' "coverage" of this primary race, expect to encounter one "talking face" after another to be breathlessly spouting literally the same words over and over as quickly as possible.

The experience will offer a chilling indictment for the growing assertion that the industrial US broadcast and cable media is utterly useless. Still, we can catalog exactly what this "message" is and the motivation leading to it being so expensively packaged, delivered, re-packaged and redelivered ad nauseam.

This recent media "treatment" is alarmingly racist. The US corporate media has never been visibly interested in much "fair and balanced" reportage when it comes to minority interests, but -- for some reason -- this latest episode is careening off even those shaky tracks. Ferreting out the political motives behind this becomes more than a little nebulous right away, but the massive, coordinated repetition of this narrative has definitely "sparked MeanMesa's curiosity."

So, let's get a little more specific about this unilateral, cross media narrative's content and implications.

The central theme of this narrative was based on three assumptions. It is an unpleasant expedition into the realm of "really?" and cleverly disguised racism.

1. Minority voters -- especially blacks -- will automatically vote for Clinton, and they will automatically not vote for Sanders. Really?

This ugly narrative implies that minority voters don't know who Sanders is, what his platform proposals are and how these ideas might relate to their lives -- and, that they never will. This is an astonishingly "palatable," yet also astonishingly racist profile of black voters. The quiet implications continue.

Black voters aren't sufficiently interested to research the policy alternatives between the opposing Democratic candidates? Really?

Black voters are incapable of understanding Sanders' populist platform proposals and are not "sophisticated enough" to relate those proposals to possibly improving their conditions of life? Really?

Black voters are unable to pin point the obvious social inequities -- and the respective GOP legislative and economic reinforcements -- which reach into their lives daily? Really?

And finally this twisted "media picture" includes the charge of "automatic voting" reducing the black voters to blindly obedient automatons.  Really?

2. Super Tuesday early primary victories will almost guarantee Clinton's nomination.

In the "analytical" minds of the political pundits those successes in the Confederate primaries will "prove" this, and the political inertia of winning the Confederate primaries will steadily inflate to ultimately become an unstoppable [inevitable? -- BTW, she's been here before...] path to the Convention. Within days following Super Tuesday the media narrative will effortlessly slide into one constantly referring to Clinton as the presumptive nominee.

It will become an ugly case of media bias acting to determine the outcome of what should have been an open primary election. MeanMesa expects this narrative to flood the broadcast airwaves -- on both the reactionary networks of the right wing and the curiously willing voices of the progressive side.

"Now, with the Super Tuesday victories under her belt, all questions as to the Democratic choice have finally been settled." Really? With 20% or 30% of the primary votes cast?

3. Mrs. Clinton has the "message" that black voters want.

Don't be confused. Mrs. Clinton may enjoy some solid name recognition, and her record is, at least conveniently, mixed into the confusing memories of the prosperous times of her husband's administration. However, so far as her "message" is concerned, what is it?

In many respects it is as "detail free" and "proposal free" as the "message" employed by her opponent, Donald Trump. Further clouding the utility of this "injury proof" vagueness is her growing problem of trustworthiness. Granted, there are minority voters willing to "eat the dog food" of Clinton's substantial Wall Street money, reconciling their uneasiness with the prospect of "things improving" and "doing better" even with another abjectly soiled President.

Repeatedly selecting a "safe" establishment candidate who has essentially promised yet another "safe, establishment" Presidency may appeal to voters who have now lost all expectations of anything ever changing, but it is irritatingly cynical to cast minority and black voters as desperate nihilists crushed into a state where they will happily fight for ever so slightly more of the scraps while calling it prosperity.

This media narrative implies that minority and black voters will demonstrate no appetite at all for the possibility of a social/cultural/economic revolution. Perhaps unhappily for Mrs. Clinton's shockingly awkward, out of date campaign strategy, that social/cultural/economic revolution option is going to be on the same primary ballot.

And, Finally...This

If any of you have missed this little jewel, the link is posted here. Relevance-wise, it is both not relevant and relevant. Chris Matthews is the voice of the establishment past painfully leaking into our present.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

2016 - A Glimpse Into The Political Future

Facing Facts About the 2016 Election

No, these are NOT the "facts"
we have usually been hearing about
Sanders, Clinton and Trump.

While we're on the subject, we should also "clear up" any lingering confusion about the opinions to be found in "Current Affairs." The very best possible way to accomplish this is read the article quoted [in its entirety] below.

MeanMesa sometimes hears a bit of Norman Goldman's afternoon radio show. Norman has, of late, been utterly transfixed with his ambition to paint Clinton's Presidential chances as essentially a political inevitability. Goldman is an old, experienced trial lawyer, so he's quite familiar with the "ins and outs" of presenting his case. The radio show is full of the predictable back and forth between Norm an Sanders supporters, but this host's unrelenting admonition to "face the facts" of the "reality of the situation" have been wearing a little thin.

Goldman is NOT a single focus Hillary fan. His claim to credibility is almost entirely based on what he sincerely and realistically considers to be the electability of Sanders -- odds Goldman considers extremely unlikely.

MeanMesa doesn't have a three hour, nationally syndicated radio show, but this is not a reason to "hold back" when it comes to sizing up Sanders' chances at the Presidency. Goldman's assessment notwithstanding, MeanMesa considers the highly realistic prospects for Sanders to become the next President to be very good.

This is no time to begin quivering in hopeless despair.

Go Ahead. Treat Yourself to 5 Minutes of Stark Realism
It will take the average visitor to the blog about five minutes to read this article.

Current Affairs
A Magazine of Politics & Culture
[Visit the original article here CURRENT AFFAIRS]

Democrats need to seriously and pragmatically assess their strategy for defeating Trump. A Clinton run would be disastrous; Bernie Sanders is their only hope.

With Donald Trump looking increasingly likely to actually be the Republican nominee for President, it’s long past time for the Democrats to start working on a pragmatic strategy to defeat him. Months of complacent, wishful insistences that Trump will disappear have proven false, and with a firm commanding lead in polls and several major primary victories, predictions are increasingly favoring Trump to win the nomination. If Democrats honestly believe, as they say they do, that Trump poses a serious threat to the well being of the country and the lives of minority citizens, that means doing everything possible to keep him out of office. To do that will require them to very quickly unite around a single goal, albeit a counter intuitive one: they must make absolutely sure that Bernie Sanders is the Democratic nominee for President.

The electability question should be at the center of the Democratic primary. After all, elections are about winning, and high-minded liberal principles mean nothing if one has no chance of actually triumphing in a general election. Hillary Clinton has been right to emphasize that the pragmatic achievement of goals should be the central concern of a presidential candidate, and that Bernie Sanders’s supporters often behave as if this is immaterial.

Instinctively, Hillary Clinton has long seemed by far the more electable of the two Democratic candidates. She is, after all, an experienced, pragmatic moderate, whereas Sanders is a raving, arm-flapping elderly Jewish socialist from Vermont. Clinton is simply closer to the American mainstream, thus she is more attractive to a broader swath of voters. Sanders campaigners have grown used to hearing the heavy-hearted lament “I like Bernie, I just don’t think he can win.” And in typical previous American elections, this would be perfectly accurate.

But this is far from a typical previous American election. And recently, everything about the electability calculus has changed, due to one simple fact: Donald Trump is likely to be the Republican nominee for President. Given this reality, every Democratic strategic question must operate not on the basis of abstract electability against a hypothetical candidate, but specific electability against the actual Republican nominee, Donald Trump.

Here, a Clinton match-up is highly likely to be an unmitigated electoral disaster, whereas a Sanders candidacy stands a far better chance. Every one of Clinton’s (considerable) weaknesses plays to every one of Trump’s strengths, whereas every one of Trump’s (few) weaknesses plays to every one of Sanders’s strengths. From a purely pragmatic standpoint, running Clinton against Trump is a disastrous, suicidal proposition.

Sanders supporters have lately been arguing that their candidate is more electable than people think, and they have some support from the available polling. In a number of hypotheticals, Sanders does better than Clinton at beating Trump, and his “unfavorable” ratings among voters are a good deal lower than Clinton’s. In response to this, however, Clinton supporters insist that polling at this stage means very little, and since Bernie is not well known and there has not been a national attack campaign directed at him from the right yet, his supporters do not account for the drop in support that will occur when voters realize he is on the fringes. Imagine, they say, how viciously the right will attack Sanders’s liberal record.

Clinton’s people are right to point out that these polls mean very little; after all, Sanders’s entire campaign success is a caution against placing too much weight on early polling. And they are especially right to emphasize that we should visualize how the campaign by conservatives will realistically play out, rather than attempting to divine the future from highly fallible polling numbers. But it’s precisely when we try to envision how the real dynamics of the campaign will transpire that we see just how disastrous a Clinton-Trump fight will be for Clinton.

Her supporters insist that she has already been “tried and tested” against all the attacks that can be thrown at her. But this is not the case; she has never been subjected to the full brunt of attacks that come in a general presidential election. Bernie Sanders has ignored most tabloid dirt, treating it as a sensationalist distraction from real issues (“Enough with the damned emails!”) But for Donald Trump, sensationalist distractions are the whole game. He will attempt to crucify her. And it is very, very likely that he will succeed.

Trump’s political dominance is highly dependent on his idiosyncratic, audacious method of campaigning. He deals almost entirely in amusing, outrageous, below-the-belt personal attacks, and is skilled at turning public discussions away from the issues and toward personalities (He/she’s a “loser,” “phony,” “nervous,” “hypocrite,” “incompetent.”) If Trump does have to speak about the issues, he makes himself sound foolish, because he doesn’t know very much. Thus he requires the media not to ask him difficult questions, and depends on his opponents’ having personal weaknesses and scandals that he can merrily, mercilessly exploit.

This campaigning style makes Hillary Clinton Donald Trump’s dream opponent. She gives him an endless amount to work with. The emails, Benghazi, Whitewater, Iraq, the Lewinsky scandal, Chinagate, Travelgate, the missing law firm records, Jeffrey Epstein, Kissinger, Marc Rich, Haiti, Clinton Foundation tax errors, Clinton Foundation conflicts of interest, “We were broke when we left the White House,” Goldman Sachs… There is enough material in Hillary Clinton’s background for Donald Trump to run with six times over.

The defense offered by Clinton supporters is that none of these issues actually amount to anything once you look at them carefully. But this is completely irrelevant; all that matters is the fodder they would provide for the Trump machine. Who is going to be looking carefully? In the time you spend trying to clear up the basic facts of Whitewater, Trump will have made five more allegations.

Even a skilled campaigner would have a very difficult time parrying such endless attacks by Trump. Even the best campaigner would find it impossible to draw attention back to actual substantive policy issues, and would spend their every moment on the defensive. But Hillary Clinton is neither the best campaigner nor even a skilled one. In fact, she is a dreadful campaigner. She may be a skilled policymaker, but on the campaign trail she makes constant missteps and never realizes things have gone wrong until it’s too late.

Everyone knows this. Even among Democratic party operatives, she’s acknowledged as “awkward and uninspiring on the stump,” carrying “Bill’s baggage with none of Bill’s warmth.” New York magazine described her “failing to demonstrate the most elementary political skills, much less those learned at Toastmasters or Dale Carnegie.” Last year the White House was panicking at her levels of electoral incompetence, her questionable decision making, and her inclination for taking sleazy shortcuts. More recently, noting Sanders’s catch-up in the polls, The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin said that she was a “rotten candidate” whose attacks on Sanders made no sense, and that “at some point, you cannot blame the national mood or a poor staff or a brilliant opponent for Hillary Clinton’s campaign woes.” Yet in a race against Trump, Hillary will be handicapped not only by her feeble campaigning skills, but the fact that she will have a sour national mood, a poor staff, and a brilliant opponent.

Every Democrat should take some time to fairly, dispassionately examine Clinton’s track record as a campaigner. Study how the ‘08 campaign was handled, and how this one has gone. Assess her strengths and weaknesses with as little bias or prejudice as possible. Then picture the race against Trump, and think about how it will unfold.

It’s easy to see that Trump has every single advantage. Because the Republican primary will be over, he can come at her from both right and left as he pleases. As the candidate who thundered against the Iraq War at the Republican debate, he can taunt Clinton over her support for it. He will paint her as a member of the corrupt political establishment, and will even offer proof: “Well, I know you can buy politicians, because I bought Senator Clinton. I gave her money, she came to my wedding.” He can make it appear that Hillary Clinton can be bought, that he can’t, and that he is in charge. It’s also hard to defend against, because it appears to be partly true. Any denial looks like a lie, thus making Hillary’s situation look even worse. And then, when she stumbles, he will mock her as incompetent.

Charges of misogyny against Trump won’t work. He is going to fill the press with the rape and harassment allegations against Bill Clinton and Hillary’s role in discrediting the victims (something that made even Lena Dunham deeply queasy.) He can always remind people that Hillary Clinton referred to Monica Lewinsky as a “narcissistic loony toon.” Furthermore, since Trump is not an anti-Planned Parenthood zealot (being the only one willing to stick up for women’s health in a room full of Republicans), it will be hard for Clinton to paint him as the usual anti-feminist right-winger.

Trump will capitalize on his reputation as a truth-teller, and be vicious about both Clinton’s sudden changes of position (e.g. the switch on gay marriage, plus the affected economic populism of her run against Sanders) and her perceived dishonesty. One can already imagine the monologue:

“She lies so much. Everything she says is a lie. I’ve never seen someone who lies so much in my life. Let me tell you three lies she’s told. She made up a story about how she was ducking sniper fire! There was no sniper fire. She made it up! How do you forget a thing like that? She said she was named after Sir Edmund Hillary, the guy who climbed Mount Everest. He hadn’t even climbed it when she was born! Total lie! She lied about the emails, of course, as we all know, and is probably going to be indicted. You know she said there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq! It was a lie! Thousands of American soldiers are dead because of her. Not only does she lie, her lies kill people. That’s four lies, I said I’d give you three. You can’t even count them. You want to go on PolitiFact, see how many lies she has? It takes you an hour to read them all! In fact, they ask her, she doesn’t even say she hasn’t lied. They asked her straight up, she says she usually tries to tell the truth! Ooooh, she tries! Come on! This is a person, every single word out of her mouth is a lie. Nobody trusts her. Check the polls, nobody trusts her. Yuge liar.”

Where does she even begin to respond to this? Some of it’s true, some of it isn’t, but the more she tries to defensively parse it (“There’s been no suggestion I’m going to be indicted! And I didn’t say I usually tried to tell the truth, I said I always tried and usually succeeded”) the deeper she sinks into the hole.

Trump will bob, weave, jab, and hook. He won’t let up. And because Clinton actually has lied, and actually did vote for the Iraq War, and actually is hyper-cosy with Wall Street, and actually does change her positions based on expediency, all she can do is issue further implausible denials, which will further embolden Trump. Nor does she have a single offensive weapon at her disposal, since every legitimate criticism of Trump’s background (inconsistent political positions, shady financial dealings, pattern of deception) is equally applicable to Clinton, and he knows how to make such things slide off him, whereas she does not.

The whole Clinton campaign has been unraveling from its inception. It fell apart completely in 2008, and has barely held together against the longest of long shot candidates. No matter how likely she may be to win the primary, things do not bode well for a general election, whomever the nominee may be. As H.A. Goodman put it in Salon:

Please name the last person to win the presidency alongside an ongoing FBI investigation, negative favorability ratings, questions about character linked to continual flip-flops, a dubious money trail of donors, and the genuine contempt of the rival political party.

The “contempt” bit of this is obviously silly; we all know levels of contempt have reached their world-historic high point in the Republican attitude toward Obama. But the rest is true: it’s incredibly hard to run somebody very few people like and expect to win. With the jocular, shrewd Donald Trump as an opponent, that holds true a million times over.

Nor are the demographics going to be as favorable to Clinton as she thinks. Trump’s populism will have huge resonance among the white working class in both red and blue states; he might even peel away her black support. And Trump has already proven false the prediction that he would alienate Evangelicals through his vulgarity and his self-deification. Democrats are insistently repeating their belief that a Trump nomination will mobilize liberals to head to the polls like never before, but with nobody particularly enthusiastic for Clinton’s candidacy, it’s not implausible that a large number of people will find both options so unappealing that they stay home.

A Clinton/Trump match should therefore not just worry Democrats. It should terrify them. They should be doing everything possible to avoid it. A Trump/Sanders contest, however, looks very different indeed.

Trump’s various unique methods of attack would instantly be made far less useful in a run against Sanders. All of the most personal charges (untrustworthiness, corruption, rank hypocrisy) are much more difficult to make stick. The rich history of dubious business dealings is nonexistent. None of the sleaze in which Trump traffics can be found clinging to Bernie. Trump’s stand up routine just has much less obvious personal material to work with. Sanders is a fairly transparent guy; he likes the social safety net, he doesn’t like oligarchy, he’s a workaholic who sometimes takes a break to play basketball, and that’s pretty much all there is to it. Contrast that with the above-noted list of juicy Clinton tidbits.

Trump can’t clown around nearly as much at a debate with Sanders, for the simple reason that Sanders is dead set on keeping every conversation about the plight of America’s poor under the present economic system. If Trump tells jokes and goofs off here, he looks as if he’s belittling poor people, not a magnificent idea for an Ivy League trust fund billionaire running against a working class public servant and veteran of the Civil Rights movement. Instead, Trump will be forced to do what Hillary Clinton has been forced to do during the primary, namely to make himself sound as much like Bernie Sanders as possible. For Trump, having to get serious and take the Trump Show off the air will be devastating to his unique charismatic appeal.

Against Trump, Bernie can play the same “experience” card that Hillary plays. After all, while Sanders may look like a policy amateur next to Clinton, next to Trump he looks positively statesmanlike. Sanders can point to his successful mayoralty and long history as Congress’s “Amendment King” as evidence of his administrative bona fides. And Sanders’s lack of foreign policy knowledge won’t hurt him when facing someone with even less. Sanders will be enough of an outsider for Trump’s populist anti-Washington appeal to be powerless, but enough of an insider to appear an experienced hand at governance.

Trump is an attention-craving parasite, and such creatures are powerful only when indulged and paid attention to. Clinton will be forced to pay attention to Trump because of his constant evocation of her scandals. She will attempt to go after him. She will, in other words, feed the troll. Sanders, by contrast, will almost certainly behave as if Trump isn’t even there. He is unlikely to rise to Trump’s bait, because Sanders doesn’t even care to listen to anything that’s not about saving social security or the disappearing middle class. He will almost certainly seem as if he barely knows who Trump is. Sanders’s commercials will be similar to those he has run in the primary, featuring uplifting images of America, aspirational sentiments about what we can be together, and moving testimonies from ordinary Americans. Putting such genuine dignity and good feeling against Trump’s race-baiting clownishness will be like finally pouring water on the Wicked Witch. Hillary Clinton cannot do this; with her, the campaign will inevitably descend into the gutter, and the unstoppable bloated Trump menace will continue to grow ever larger.

Sanders is thus an almost perfect secret weapon against Trump. He can pull off the only maneuver that is capable of neutralizing Trump: ignoring him and actually keeping the focus on the issues. Further, Sanders will have the advantage of an enthusiastic army of young volunteers, who will be strongly dedicated to the mission of stalling Trump’s quest for the presidency. The Sanders team is extremely technically skilled; everything from their television commercials to their rally organizing to their inspired teasing is pulled off well. The Sanders team is slick and adaptable, the Clinton team is ropey and fumbling.

There’s only one real way to attack Bernie Sanders, and we all know it: he’s a socialist fantasist out of touch with the Realities of Economics. But Trump in the worst possible position to make this criticism. Economists have savaged Trump’s own proposals as sheer lunacy, using every word deployed against Bernie and then some. And while from a D.C. policy veteran like Clinton, charges of a failure to understand how political decision making works may sound reasonable, Sanders is a successful legislator who has run a city; the host of The Apprentice may have a more difficult time portraying a long-serving congressman as being unfamiliar with how Washington works.

Of course, the American people are still jittery about socialism. But they’re less jittery than they used to be, and Bernie does a good job portraying socialism as being about little more than paid family leave and sick days (a debatable proposition, but one beside the point.) His policies are popular and appeal to the prevailing national sentiment. It’s a risk, certainly. But the Soviet Union bogeyman is long gone, and everyone gets called a socialist these days no matter what their politics. It’s possible that swing voters dislike socialism more than they dislike Hillary Clinton, but in a time of economic discontent one probably shouldn’t bet on it.

One thing that should be noted is that all of this analysis applies solely to a race against Trump; the situation changes drastically and unpredictably if Marco Rubio is the nominee or Michael Bloomberg enters the race. Yet the moment, it doesn’t look like Marco Rubio will be nominated, but that Donald Trump will be. And in that case, Clinton is toast.

Some in the media have rushed to declare Sanders’s campaign moribund in the wake of his recent loss in Nevada. This is absurd; after all, out of 50 states, only three have voted, one being a tie, one being a major Sanders win, and one being a small Clinton win. The media has dishonestly pointed to Hillary Clinton’s higher superdelegate count as evidence of her strong lead, despite knowing full well that superdelegates are highly unlikely to risk tearing the party apart by taking the nomination out of voters’ hands, and are thus mostly a formality. The press has also crafted a narrative about Sanders “slipping behind,” ignoring the fact that Sanders has been behind from the very start; not for a moment has he been in front.

But even if it was correct to say that Sanders was “starting to” lose (instead of progressively losing less and less), this should only motivate all Democrats to work harder to make sure he is nominated. One’s support for Sanders should increase in direct proportion to one’s fear of Trump. And if Trump is the nominee, Hillary Clinton should drop out of the race and throw her every ounce of energy into supporting Sanders. If this does not occur, the resulting consequences for Muslims and Mexican immigrants of a Trump presidency will be fully the responsibility of Clinton and the Democratic Party. To run a candidate who can’t win, or who is a very high-risk proposition, is to recklessly play with the lives of millions of people. So much depends on stopping Trump; a principled defeat will mean nothing to the deported, or to those being roughed up by Trump’s goon squads or executed with pigs’ blood-dipped bullets.

Donald Trump is one of the most formidable opponents in the history of American politics. He is sharp, shameless, and likable. If he is going to be the nominee, Democrats need to think very seriously about how to defeat him. If they don’t, he will be the President of the United States, which will have disastrous repercussions for religious and racial minorities and likely for everyone else, too. Democrats should consider carefully how a Trump/Clinton matchup would develop, and how a Trump/Sanders matchup would. For their sake, hopefully they will realize that the only way to prevent a Trump presidency is the nomination of Bernie Sanders.

Nathan J. Robinson is a Social Policy PhD student at Harvard University, as well as an attorney and children's book author. He is the editor of Current Affairs.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Sanders/Clinton: The Embarrassment of Riches

The Glorious Companion 
Progressive AM Radio in the High Desert:
KABQ Albuquerque
A chance to connect with the REAL sentiment of America's vast majority

It should be no surprise that this old blogger has the typical geriatric habit of listening to the radio.

Here in Albuquerque we are blessed with our own progressive station, KABQ AM 1350. This is mentioned here because plenty of other cities much more populous than Albuquerque are virtually "progressive radio deserts" in which every progressive station which has ever attempted to gain a foot hold has been ruthlessly murdered by the "big money boys."  

Thanks to KABQ, MeanMesa enjoys broadcast access to a very robust collection of progressive talk shows every week day. Stephanie Miller, Thom Hartmann, Bill Press and so on. [A late night favorite, Mike Malloy, finally threw in the towel and began selling subscription pod casts. Unhappily, the household budget won't quite stretch far enough to include them in MeanMesa's daily fare. On a positive note, however, it is now being hinted that another of MeanMesa's all time favorites, Randi Rhodes, may be returning to the airwaves after her well earned sabbatical.]

MeanMesa has slowly realized that listening to an unending litany of citizens trying to validate either a Sanders or a Clinton decision has induced a rather stubbornly unpleasant episode of "gastric disturbance." These stuttering "debates" are now the "meat and potatoes" of most of these favorite talk shows. Predictably, each of the respective hosts of these shows from time to time is accused by some breathless partisan of "being biased" in favor of one or the other of these candidates.

All this was mildly interesting for a while, but when presented in an unending, glacial flow of such petulant rantings, it has become tiresome indeed.

Come on, folks. THIS IS WHY WE HAVE DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY ELECTIONS! So, relax. Campaign if it pleases you, but acknowledge the fact that WE KNOW HOW THIS IS GOING TO TURN OUT! SOMEONE is going to win these primaries and become the Democratic nominee at the convention.

There is no possible reason for us to be so eagerly "hoisting ourselves on our own petards" with this
Remember? We're DEMOCRATS!
[image fB]
 endless bickering and name calling. Let's save all this energy to make sure that the oligarchs don't capture the White House simply because we were so exhausted that we couldn't fight.

Finally, there should be a short "disclaimer." MeanMesa will be voting for Sanders in the New Mexico primary. However, there are both a Sanders and a Clinton bumper sticker on Galactic Headquarters' front apartment window. Tomorrow morning MeanMesa will be at the Democratic Party ward meeting at a near by high school selecting a nominating delegate for the NM State Democratic Convention. AND, MeanMesa will be voting for THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY Candidate in the 2016 election.

THAT is where we are.

Given all this, have a look at MeanMesa's modest little graphic statement.


Replacing Scalia - No time for Pretending

Note To Obama:
"Don't Wait, Don't Deal and Don't Cave"

There is absolutely no possible reason to even imagine that the Senate's mood offers any reason to offer a "moderate" candidate. The GOP Senates' long knives are already drawn.

They've sharpened them up, and they've already put on the blindfolds for the hearings. It won't matter whom you send.

More importantly, the Americans don't want a moderate. The Americans are sick and tired of taking a deep sigh and groaning in despair every time the news broadcasts the "latest Supreme Court decision."

Stay true to yourself. If this "turns out bad," we will simply be getting what we deserve because we set it up this way. If the outcome is painful enough, at some future date we may even realize what we have been doing.

Not Particularly Mourning the Not-So-Dignified Departure
 of the Not Particularly Dignified Associate Justice
The details -- if there are any -- remain unimportant.

MeanMesa is, indeed, sorely taxed when faced with any genteel inclination to engage in any effort to dignify this dead man's life -- at least not beyond the very common effort to acknowledge the fact of sharing of the planet with him. In MeanMesa's view, Antonin Scalia's style of "juris prudence" could elicit only the very lowest level of merit enjoying that, admittedly, already heavily soiled distinction. 

Bury him, and forget him as quickly as possible.

There is not a chapter in the biography of Scalia which might command any particular dignity, grace or sorrow. These "excluded chapters" include the entire account of both his rise to such high office and his conduct while occupying it.

Obama murders Scalia
[Screen shot/fB]
The predictable right wing drivel appearing immediately in the comment sections of the various, hate blogs" and wing nut chat rooms may, actually, represent the most revealing legacy in evidence as the man's work while living. An endless number of these comments very comfortably espouse the proposition that the Associate Justice was murdered by Obama. These paranoiac snippets should not surprise anyone -- they amount to nothing more than a tasteless, breathless repetition of the internet "indictments" attributing the demise of hate-blogger, Andrew Breitbart, to the hands of the same President. [What Really Killed Andrew Breitbart? ALTERNET]
suspiciously well funded "

With this agonizingly durable Justice now permanently "set aside" from the annals of Supreme Court history there is little to be gained by posting an overly generous history of the incredible damage to the "rule of law" Scalia wrought in the historical sense. However, in the day to day affairs of the Court, the impact may be interesting.

First, any decisions currently pending in the Court bearing Scalia's signature influence are invalidated immediately. Not even SCOTUS opinions can revisit the living from "beyond the grave." Such products may be re-considered by the eight survivors or simply "returned" to the same lower courts which had already demonstrated their inability to resolve them.

Why the Oligarchs and Neo-Fascists Loved Antonin
What's not to love? The price was ALWAYS right!
This also happens to be the reason they don't want a Democrat on the Court.
Too expensive.

A quick review of Scalia's "past work" as a SCOTUS gives us a clue as to the man's favorite "impact target areas." Not mentioned in the perhaps "over generous" NPR article [following] is, of course, Scalia's participation in the most scandalous -- not to mention the most murderous -- Supreme decision in the history of the country -- Bush v. Gore [Bush v. Gore - THINKPROGRESS]. The "W" racked up over a million and a half corpses before he left office in disgrace. The cases noted in the article are collected from a more recent list of "billionaire friendly" Roberts Court decisions in which Scalia played his role.

No, they're not JUST-THUGS, they're JUST-ICES. [image source]

In fact this unusually "non-damning" selection betrays NPR's infectious, ideologically tainted PR image these days. MeanMesa has posted the idea many times -- the billionaires could care less about gay marriage, abortions, ISIS or infrastructure. Their "well monied" interests in such things focuses on a single ambition. These are the issues which will turn out zombie-like GOP voters who will self-righteously be gripping the voting lever in one hand while desperately clutching their Bibles in the other. There are enough self-identified, hateful "evangelicals" to pump out a sizable pile of ballots.

Pay attention to the specific issues resolved in each of the Scalia supported decisions listed below.

Close Cases Affected By Scalia's Vote

Eyder Peralta

[Excepted. Visit the original article here - Scalia's Footprint - NPR]

1. Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission:

The 2010 decision restructured the campaign finance landscape. According to SCOTUSblog, the court decided that the "government may not keep corporations or unions from spending money to support or denounce individual candidates in elections. While corporations or unions may not give money directly to campaigns, they may seek to persuade the voting public through other means, including ads, especially where these ads were not broadcast."

2. Hollingsworth v. Perry:

In this case, the Supreme Court sidestepped a big, broad decision on gay marriage. The majority opinion drew an unlikely coalition — Scalia joined Chief Justice John Roberts and the more liberal Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan — saying that petitioners did not have standing to challenge a lower court ruling that struck down Proposition 8, a 2008 ballot initiative that made same-sex marriages illegal in California.

3. Glossip v. Gross:

Amid a rash of botched lethal injection cases, the Supreme Court took up a case challenging the constitutionality of the drug cocktail used by Oklahoma. In 5-to-4 decision in 2014, the court decided the cocktail did not violate the Constitution's ban on cruel and usual punishment.

4. Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores:

In a case that challenged the contraception mandate of the Affordable Care Act, the Supreme Court sided with Hobby Lobby, saying family-owned and other closely held companies can opt out of the mandate if they have religious objections to it.

5. Town of Greece v. Galloway:

The question before the court for this case was whether a town in upstate New York was violating the Establishment Clause of the Constitution when it opened its meetings with a prayer. By a narrow margin, the court decided the town was using prayer for "permissible ceremonial purposes," not as an "unconstitutional establishment of religion."

6. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes:

In 2011, the Supreme Court threw out the largest sex discrimination lawsuit in American history.

As NPR's Nina Totenberg wrote at the time: "The issue before the Supreme Court was whether female employees as a group could be certified as a single class, suing Wal-Mart at a single trial. Lawyers for the women introduced evidence showing that female employees held two-thirds of the lowest-level hourly jobs at Wal-Mart, but only one-third of the management jobs, and that women overall were paid on average $1.16 per hour less than men in the same jobs, though the women had more seniority and higher performance ratings."

A federal judge had certified the class, but Wal-Mart appealed all the way to the Supreme Court and won.

What this "Latest Torpedo" Might Sink for the Oligarchs
Cruel Destiny. The billionaires invested a lot
 to get these cases this close to the "pay out."
There are no other interests left to protect or defend.

In 2000 the billionaires got a chance to "taste the Florida candy" at the end of their unquestionably very most favorite election of all time. Before this all these plutocrats had never even imagined that they could snatch the Presidency if they just greased the right palms and sat in the right offices, but, suddenly, there it was. Not a single one of them has had a wet dream about anything else since.

Unhappily, another one of these embarrassingly "pregnant moments" could be approaching the Republic at this very moment. If the 2016 election results roll in as a tie on the evening of November 8, there is more than a fleeting possibility for the eight surviving Supremes to be deadlocked in a 50%-50% split, ushering in another agonizing Presidential theft like the one in 2000. [The Supremes Find Themselves in an Awkward State AGAIN - Maddow]

In the meantime all those tasty "in progress" cases which were being prepared for final decisions are spontaneously igniting in the "in boxes" of the remaining Supremes. The "final destination" for those cases is currently at the tender mercy of a Constitutional crap shoot.

On The Docket, In Limbo: 
Scalia's Death Casts Uncertainty On Key Cases

Ron Elving

[Excepted. Visit the original article On the Docket - NPR]

These include cases that test abortion-access restrictions in Texas; the right of public employee unions to collect mandatory dues; two cases of conflicting rights involving religious liberty; the means by which population is defined for political purposes; and the legal enforceability of President Obama's executive actions broadening a program of deferred deportations for certain immigrants.

Most Supreme Court cases are not decided by the minimum majority of 5-4. But many of the most significant cases in recent years have come down that way. That includes recent landmark cases invalidating parts of the Voting Rights Act and weakening campaign finance laws. In those cases, Scalia's vote was crucial to the victory of the court's conservative bloc.

Now, with Scalia gone, any case in which his vote would have been decisive will be left in stalemate, and the last ruling by a lower court will remain in force. Usually, that lower court in question will have been one of the 13 federal circuit courts of appeal. It will be as if the Supreme Court had simply allowed the appeals court ruling to stand and never taken the case in the first place.

De-Presidentializing the Lame Duck Obama
Even the screams of the NAZIs sound a little hollow at this point.
Nonetheless, words count -- especially these two.

Plenty of "mouth junk" has been "hitting the media" about what might be coming next, but let's just focus in on a couple of things.

The oligarchs have obviously ordered their Congressional servants to begin an unusually frantic political attack on the President. The main "theme" is that there are all sorts of reasons -- thousands and thousands of them -- for Obama to NOT move ahead with the process of filling the Supremes back up to a full quota. At the first hint of an approaching shortage of these "thousands and thousands of reasons," the billionaires' obedient hate radio servants are commanded to immediately replenish the supply.

Most of the effort so far has amounted to the anticipated, meat handed Rush Limbaugh style of barely disguised racism, but a couple of the bedraggled voices are actually spouting content which MeanMesa suspects is "just a little too complicated" for the hill billies and bigots in the GOP's trailer park base.

CASE IN POINT - Number One: 

With a thread of manipulated content descending like a horde of hungry locusts EVERY domestic media stream is now using a certain, specific verb:


"The President shall NOMINATE a replacement Justice for the Court."

This is NOT what the Constitution says. The Constitution says that the President will NOMINATE AND  APPOINT a replacement Justice for the Court.

Article Two of the United States Constitution requires the President of the United States to nominate Supreme Court Justices and, with Senate confirmation, requires Justices to be appointed. This was for the division of power between the President and Senate by the founders, who wrote:

"he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint ... Judges of the supreme Court..."

CASE IN POINT - Number Two:

We can attribute point number two to a specific old white Senator from Utah, Orrin Hatch. Someone got a hold of Orrin to deliver the specific instructions to make sure this these words were published.


HATCH: Well, let's put it this way. The notion that lame duck presidents' judicial nominees should not be confirmed during an election season is a well-established rule, historically. And it was observed by both Republicans and Democrats. The Senate has never, in my review, 

allowed a term-limited president to fill a Supreme Court vacancy 

created this late in his term. In fact, the only time the Senate has confirmed the nominee to fill a Supreme Court vacancy created after voting began in an election year was in 1916. And that vacancy only arose because Justice Charles Evans Hughes resigned his seat on the court to run for president himself. And in this particular case, I think most every Republican has to feel like in this really robust election year with all the fighting and back and forth going on, that this is not the time to have a Supreme Court - a battle over a Supreme Court nominee.

Of course this is nonsense. If the Senator can't perform his memory functions any better than this, it may be time for "assisted living." Further, the old Senator isn't the only one who should be on the bus.

Why the Righties Are So Exercised
This poker game was such great fun while the deck was still stacked.

Still, even the spread of this more or less innocuous toxin through the air waves is enough to suggest how hopelessly desperate the denizens of the sold out elephant party have become. Although it may be madness to speculate about the November voting, MeanMesa can "take a crack" at it.

2016 Dreamin'
There may be as many as 20% of the electorate who blindly vote "R" regardless of any of the issues and absent any particularly relevant knowledge of any contemporary events. These would generally be many of the grumbling, persistent unemployables in the rust belt and the low education, disgruntled types who remain perennially susceptible to persuasion by the wing nut talkers because they haven't updated their ideology since the Cold War days and, finally, the low income bunch of right wing "dead enders" inhabiting the dismal, broken down, red state trailer parks and beer halls across the nation.

Additionally, somewhere in the neighborhood of another 10% of the electorate would be easily manipulated, single issue, post Biblical "evangelicals." These pious types would be joined by possibly another 10% of those we could classify as out right racists. We already know that the "bigot vote" will continue at about this same rate whether the last -- or next -- President promises to be white or black.

The Owners of the Republican Party have invested heavily in voter suppression focused on Democratic Districts, but MeanMesa anticipates the electoral reward for this effort to be only around 3%-5% at most. Gerrymandering has a direct effect on the resulting Congress once the election is over, but in terms of actively disenfranchising citizen voters in the Presidential vote, twisting election district boundaries doesn't exert that much influence.

As for gerrymandering's effect, we have lived in the chaotic wealth redistribution of a minority government since the redistricting frenzy of 2010. Not surprisingly, billionaire money applied to overwhelm state races [including the massive, painless campaign funding for primary challenges to the disobedient] has presently placed 31 red state governments entirely under the control of the oligarchs. The main mission in these unfortunate red states is to sustain minority control at least long enough for yet another opportunity to gerrymand in 2020 -- that is, to extend anti-democracy power for another decade to 2030.

The Republicans might actually be losing a few votes in such places because the state economies are almost uniformly all basket cases even though the process of actually reaching such a conclusion in the minds of voters may be asking too much from the illiterate hordes of the GOP's carefully crafted base.

If we all get busy, we can bail this thing out of the muck. Today's national "head to head" polls show Sanders defeating EVERY GOP candidate in the general.

Additional Reading

It's been a good long stretch since the Supremes have ruled to visibly serve the popular interests of the electorate. Even the rulings where the Court's question enjoyed overwhelming popularity -- for example the decisions upholding the ACA and marriage equality -- contained barely detectable "poison pills" cunningly woven deep in their fabric.

The blatant cynicism and arrogance, coupled with judicial deliberation of such poor quality as to belong in a parochial catechism class rather the the Supreme Court, has stripped all hope and expectation of a "better time" coming in the future. Happily, so long as many of the Constitution's provisions for self-governance remain in effect, we can solve this.

Here's one idea about exactly how we might do this from MeanMesa: