Wednesday, February 19, 2020

When will Bernie die? Plus: Why Dems should focus on the debt.

My headline may seem cruel, but it's a fair question. Sanders refuses to release further medical records, even though he had previously promised to do so, and even though the voting public has a right to know more about the health of a man in his late 70s who recently had a heart attack.

Every candidate should divulge all medical records and all recent tax returns. Period.

What are the chances that Bernie Sanders would live through his first term (should he win, which he won't)? Not as high as we would like. I direct your attention to this DU thread, which draws from this study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

By the way: Although you wouldn't know it from a perusal of the liberal blogs, Pete Buttigieg is the current frontrunner, kinda, sorta. Turns out he won Iowa by a hair.

If you hit that link, take a look at the comments. You'll find evidence that the Bernie Bros are the ones who destroyed, or at least hobbled, Elizabeth Warren (my favorite of the candidates):
The Bernie "fight" destroyed her chances. If you're going to go after someone go after them. Don't half-way go after them sideways, call them a good friend, and then have a public fight with them on stage after the debate. She ended up getting all the vitriol from Bernie Bros and none of the credit for people who would have supported her doing it.

Same thing that's been wrong with her campaign since the beginning. She tries to be all things to all people and ends up convincing almost no one.
Warren did not go after him though and she wasn't trying to.


Sanders directs campaign to start labeling Warren as an elite (and thus lean into the misogynistic narratives about women in power he weaponized in 2016.) This violated their agreement.

When this came out, Sanders lied about it. Denied it.

Then the whole 2018 conversation story dropped.

Top Sanders surrogates, aided by a campaign staffer, started pushing the Warren is a snake/liar label hard. (NYT did an article.)

Warren was on the defensive the whole time. One of the great gaslighting achievements of the Sanderistas is that they blame their victims for their own actions.
The Bernie cult's attacks on Warren were disgusting and beyond forgiveness. Calling her an "elitist" is like saying Mike Oehler built "skyscrapers." (Look him up.) Ironically, the crippling of Warren opened up a path for Bloomberg, who really is an elitist.

Speaking of Bloomberg: Paul Krugman (with whom I do not always agree) has come out with a very good opinion piece which takes Bloomberg to school for his outlandish misreading of the 2007-08 economic crisis. Krugman makes the same points familiar to readers of this humble blog: The laws against redlining did not force the banks to make loans to people who lacked the means to keep up with payments.
At this point the evidence against the liberals-did-it story is overwhelming. The surge in bad loans came neither from government-sponsored agencies nor from regulated banks, but from unregulated mortgage originators. The fallout was so severe because investors believed, wrongly, that fancy financial instruments protected them from risk.

And, crucially, the housing bubble was an international phenomenon: Spain had a bigger bubble than we did, followed by a worse slump. Did U.S. liberals force Spanish banks to make bad loans?

But zombie ideas can’t be killed by evidence. Perpetrators of the liberals-did-it lie are still out there, still getting space to spread their disinformation in mainstream media.
Later in the same column, Krugman criticizes Buttigieg for his focus on the nation's debt. Here's where I must part ways with Krugman.

Even if you share Krugman's "massive debt is A-OK" theory (which I don't), it is a simple fact that Trump's outlandish debt figures are a potent election-year issue. We can use this issue to counter Donnie's boasts about the rosy economic numbers. Don't hobble your best line of attack, liberals!

Although most people don't understand economics, they do understand the dangers of incurring debt in order to live the high life. At one point or another, most people go through a period where they get into trouble after maxing out their credit cards. That's how Trump bought pseudo-prosperity: He maxed out the national credit card. Bill Clinton, by contrast, presided over good times while balancing the budget.

All Dems should use this argument; personal economics can make macro-economics easier to understand. In other words, this argument is relatable -- and, unless your name is Paul Krugman, unanswerable.
MMT is very popular right now, and it's basically a left wing version of "deficits don't matter". Everyone likes free money.

In terms of a death timetable, all of these people will be dead soon, Biden, Bernie, Warren, Trump, Bloomberg, all born in the 40s.

The idea that Sanders was calling Warren elitist comes from one anonymous message board post. There's no reason to think it actually happened.
In a different article (I think "How Zombies Ate the GOP's Soul" )Krugman argues that deficit spending when the economy is in recession by introducing a stimulus is a good idea, but adding to the debt at times such as now when the economy is humming along is foolish. He also makes the point that the GOP only seems to care about the deficit when Democrats are in office. He does not categorically endorse deficit spending across the board.
As for Buttigieg, Krugman is warning the Democrats that the issue can be turned on it's head by the GOP to signal that the Democrats are entertaining cutting entitlements if they prevail and use the argument to veil their intent to slash entitlements and market it as a bi-partisan agenda.
Krugman is an economist not a political strategist, which is why his arguments need to go through some political polishing before being used as talking points.
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Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Trump makes a deal

Why would the most transactional president ever extend mercy to Rod Blagojevich, a corrupt Democrat who deserved more than the 14 years he received? And why did the Dem-hating Fox News spend so much time and effort paving the way for this commutation?

The answer is obvious.

For more than a decade, we've heard rumors that Blago and Obama worked together on various dirty deals A few of you may recall the strange case of Tony Rezko, an Obama fundraiser convicted of money laundering in 2008. When prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald publicly urged Rezko to lessen his sentence by ratting out more important players, many understood that Fitz was referring to Obama. Rahm Emmanuel once bragged that Blago's campaigns (which were, of course, corrupt) were informally headed by Emmanuel and Obama.

Blago will probably sing like a bird. Even if his song is filled with falsehoods, it will be widely heard during this election year.

Needless to say, the corruptions attributed to Obama are laughably insignificant when compared to Trump's filth. But what of it? The Republicans want the country talking about ancient Dem dirt, not Trump's outrageous acts of criminality. Widespread cynicism works to Trump's advantage. He wants the average voter to think: "They're all crooks, so I might as as well vote for Trump. At least the economy is doing well."

Obama is currently the most admired American pubic figure, and Trump wants to dethrone him. If Blago does a good enough job of smearing Obama, the former president may not even be able to show his face at the convention.

Trump also pardoned former NY Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik, who served a four year sentence (starting in 2010) for tax fraud and lying to federal agents. Lately, Kerik -- a Rudy Giuliani crony -- has been showing up on Fox News to chew out Michael Bloomberg. Trump probably granted this pardon as a favor to Rudy. Still, don't be surprised if you see Kerik level a brand-new smear against Bloomberg.

What charge could Kerik bring against him? I can't imagine. Will the charge have a factual basis? I dunno. Does it matter?

The pardon of Michael Milken (who pleaded guilty to conspiracy and racketeering charges in 1990s, and completed his sentence quite a few years ago) is also of no small interest. Once again, Rudy may be the key player here. Even though Giuliani led the prosecution, he has been angling for a pardon for years.

Milken has always been a hero to the libertarians. In the 1990s, Daniel Fischel ("a Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago" -- and you know what that means) produced a book titled Payback: Conspiracy to Destroy Michael Milken and His Financial Revolution, described thus:
Charges that the Wall Street trader and others were wrongfully prosecuted by a nervous corporate establishment
From a reader review:
It peels back the curtain that protects the reputation of federal prosecutors who deserve no curtain to hide what they really did. (Disclosure: I had a role in providing post-conviction legal advice to Milken.)
The rehabilitation of Milken could play into Trump's war against the New York justice system.

This L.A. Times piece offers a useful refresher course on Milken:
Through his pioneering use of junk bonds, Milken was credited with rescuing companies that were running low on cash or never had much to start. But critics accused him of enabling corporate raiders to plunder and gut otherwise viable corporations, laying off workers by the thousands and draining the savings of retirees.
If you're interested in Milken's connections to the gonzo libertarians, check out this rapturous love-letter written by the vile Murray Rothbard, whom I consider the key figure in the great libertarianism-to-fascism shift. His piece, written in 1989, includes a segment which now seems quite ironic.

First, a bit of background: When the Milken scandal broke, the public learned that Drexel had paid him $550 million a year. Although the specific charges against Milken befuddled most Americans (who have a hard time wrapping their heads around financial skullduggery), that absurdly-high figure shocked a lot of people. Some interesting public figures weighed in...
More interesting were billionaires Trump and Rockefeller. Speaking from his own lofty financial perch, Donald Trump unctuously declared, of Milken's salary, "you can be happy on a lot less money," going on to express his "amazement" that his former employers, the Wall Street firm of Drexel Burnham Lambert "would allow someone to benefit that greatly." Well, it should be easy enough to clear up Mr. Trump's alleged befuddlement. We could use economic jargon and say that the payment was justified by Mr. Milken's "marginal value product" to the firm, or simply say that Milken was clearly worth it, otherwise Drexel Burnham would not have happily continued the arrangement from 1975 until this year.

In fact, Mr. Milken was worth it because he has been an extraordinarily creative financial innovator.
If you've seen the film Wall Street -- which was inspired by Milken -- you'll have some idea as to what sort of innovations we're talking about.

Clearly, Trump has changed his tune. As for Rothbard -- well. We really have to talk about that guy one of these days.

The Bernie cult (like the Trump cult) must be DESTROYED!

I'm starting to lean toward Bloomberg, even though he's the sort of candidate I usually despise, and even though I've complained about him in previous posts. Why? Here's why.

This is precisely the sort of attack that Warren, Biden and Klobuchar should have launched months ago. We can no longer tolerate chickenshit tactics. We have to support someone who brings a nuke to a knife fight.

Why aren't all the candidates launching similar anti-Bernie campaigns? My only problem with this ad is that the listed examples of bad Bro behavior fly by too rapidly. Watch several times. Hit pause repeatedly. If your blood doesn't boil, you're either bloodless or a Bro.

Bernie Sanders is 100 percent responsible for the disgusting online antics of his cultists. Charles Manson tried to argue in court that he bore no responsibility for the actions of his followers, but the law didn't accept that line of reasoning. We shouldn't let Bernie get away with the Manson defense.

The Bernie cult has been acting this way since 2016, and not once has Bernie Sanders made a serious effort to rein them in. Why hasn't he done so? Obviously, because Sanders wants his people to boycott the general election if he does not win the nomination. Sanders wants chaos and divisiveness.

Sanders is part of the Trump effort. Everyone knows it. Everyone knows that the Republicans are mounting an organized effort to encourage Republicans to cross over and vote for Bernie in the Dem primaries. Everyone knows that Russian bots and trolls are doing everything possible to pump Sanders, to inflame the trolls and to divide the Dems.

Bro rhetoric is every bit as violent as Trumpist rhetoric. Whenever the Bros feel the slightest pushback on their horseshit, they scream for blood and stomp the floors and concoct conspiracy theories with all the wild abandon of a meth-addled Alex Jonesian. In Colorado, they committed an actual act of violence -- and the target was a black man. Get this: The Bros accused him of being racist!

And that's not all. Even though the zombies for Sanders tend to be very pale, they are actually trying to argue that the phrase "Bernie Bro" is a racial slur. The Berners are also heckling Pete Buttigieg for -- and I'm not making this up -- being hostile to the LGBT community. And of course, the Berners argue that Saint Bernie is better on feminism than either Warren or Klobuchar.

I predict that the Nevada caucus will go very sour. I predict violence and disinformation, followed by an organized Twitter smear campaign and by conspiracy theories galore. The Bernie Bros will do everything possible to split the Dems along every imaginable fault line.

Here are some numbers which demolish the claims we've heard about a grand coalition...
Of the 40+ swing districts Democrats flipped in 2018, not one was won by a "Justice Democrat," or any candidate campaigning on Medicare For All or Green New Deal. On the other hand, there are plenty of red-state Democrats who are anti-abortion, pro-gun, pro-coal, ...

Bernie claims he can inspire voter enthusiasm and turn out droves of college kids. But this would mostly run up the margins in states like California, Massachusetts, etc., not the ones he needs to win.

At the end of the day, he needs 270 electors to win the presidency; the popular vote is irrelevant. Clinton won 232. Flip Michigan (16) and Wisconsin (10) and that only gets to 258. Pennsylvania (20) could be flipped by a more moderate Democrat, but the coal mining & natural gas industries (which make up 20% of the state's industry!) aren't going to vote for the Green New Deal, period.

Ohio (18) is no longer considered a swing state. Florida (29) elected a Republican governor and senator in a D+10 wave year. Texas & Georgia likely won't flip yet. Arizona (11) is not enough to offset losing PA. Without these states, the path to 270 is even narrower...or perhaps nonexistent.
Bernie's success has thrilled the Republicans. They aren't at all worried about losing any of the states they won in 2016. In fact, they are seeking to flip purple states that went for Hillary. See here and here.

Thanks to the success of the Biden smear and the weakening of the Warren campaign, Trump now has 2020 in the bag. The real fight is downballot: The nomination of Bernie Sanders will destroy the Democratic brand across the board -- and not just in 2020, but for many elections to come. Goodbye House of Representatives!

Hell. Goodbye democracy.
If Bloomberg were serious about defeating Trump, he’d have gotten behind one of the actual Dems (Bennett, say or Klobuchar) instead of taking his present course, which will guarantee a Republican, either himself or Trump. He wins either way, freakin billionaire. Not to look too closely at the deep damage he is and will continue to do to the Democratic Party.

I agree with Wallace. Stick a fork in us, we’re nearly cooked.

Scoop Nisker used to say, “Don’t like the news? Go make some of your own.”

The thought has never been more necessary, but at this point, we’re hoping for miracles.

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Sunday, February 16, 2020

Fake news, Bloomberg, Biden, Bernie

Come on. Does Matt Drudge really think we're going to believe this?
“Sources close to Bloomberg campaign tell DRUDGE REPORT that candidate is considering Hillary as running mate, after their polling found the Bloomberg-Clinton combination would be a formidable force...,” the tweet continued, pointing to Drudge’s eponymous website, where the scoop was played in underlined type above the scroll and a bright-red all-caps headline.
Yes, I know that the Bloomberg camp did not issue a denial. They probably don't want to annoy the many Hillary fans who still exist in Camp D, and they certainly don't want to trigger the rabid Hill-haters in Camp R. The latter will be screech in equal horror at a confirmation or a denial: Any mention of the Clinton name evokes an autonomic response. From Bloomberg's standpoint, the best course of action would be not to mention the name "Clinton" at all.

It's sad. The name of one of our greatest presidents -- the only one to give us both prosperity and a balanced budget -- is now toxic, thanks to a decades-long propaganda barrage.

How would Drudge, and no-one else, learn of such a thing? This story is ridiculous on its face. Drudge concocted this little fantasia for two reasons: He is tossing raw meat to the Alt Right lions, and he seeks to trigger the godawful Bernie Bros.

As for Bloomberg: Apparently, black people are starting to switch from Biden to Mr. Stop N. Frisk.

Meanwhile, Anita Hill still won't forgive Joe Biden because Biden blocked a witness from testifying on her behalf -- a witness so weak, so easily discredited, that the Republicans were dying for the chance to cross-examine her. Like Ms. Hill, they haven't forgiven Biden for his refusal to put that witness on TV!

I generally vote the way black people vote, but let's face it: African Americans can be as easily bamboozled as any other voting bloc.

Bloomberg. I cannot freakin' believe it. I'll vote for the guy if I have to, but...jeez. Do I have to?

(That said, I must concede that Bloomberg's ubiquitous TV and YouTube commercials are superb. One of the all-time best ad campaigns. Genuinely artful. Those ads should be studied in cinema classes in every university. Biden and Warren -- who have nothing to lose at this point -- should use Bloomberg's ads as templates for their own attacks on Bernie.)

Finally! Biden has demanded that Bernie Sanders take responsibility for the ghastly online behavior of the Bernie Bros.
“You know me well enough to know if any of my supporters did that, I’d disown them. Flat disown them,” Biden said. “The stuff that was said online. The way they threatened these two women who are leaders in that Culinary union. It is outrageous. Just — just go online.”
I've been saying it since 2016. Sanders' supporters are monsters, and Sanders deserves to be held accountable. He's the King of the Monsters. He has never apologized for the hateful antics of H.A. Goodman and Cassandra Fairbanks and all of the other beasts. What the Bernie Bros did in Nevada last time was unforgivable.
In an exclusive interview airing Sunday on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” Biden said the Vermont senator “may not be responsible for it, but he has some accountability.”
No, Joe, no! That's not the way to make your point and that's not the way to win an election. You can't weaken your own argument with too many qualifiers. Go for the jugular.

Bernie is responsible. He could have put a stop to the vileness with one stern lecture addressed to his own followers, warning them to start behaving like human goddamned beings. The fact that he has not delivered such a lecture in four fucking years proves that Bernie himself deserves full blame for the many displays of dickishness conducted in his name.

Another point about Bernie...
Florida (29 electoral votes) - Guaranteed win for Trump if Bernie is the nominee simply because of the fact that Sanders praised and had/has a soft spot for Fidel Castro. Cubans make up 1.2 million people in Florida.

Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes) - Fracking supports 320,000+ jobs in the state. Sanders wants to outlaw fracking by 2025.

I don't see a scenario where Trump wins PA but loses Wisconsin and Michigan. It doesn't matter either way as Florida, Ohio, PA, and NC put him at 279
None of this will matter to the brainwashed Bros, who actually believe that they can win the election WITHOUT voters.

Here's an interesting follow-up comment:
I believe he'd be Corbyn 2.0 in the general, but you know what makes it hard for the public to see the disaster ahead? The near lack of urgency from other campaigns and the party in general, which serves as a tacit advertisement of his electability. They're not exactly doing anything vigorous to stop him Corbyning us, unless they have convention machinations in mind, which would be terrible because there are many ways of stopping him pre-convention
"Lack of urgency." Yes! "Tacit advertisement of his electability." Yes!

I'll say it again: Biden has to go for the jugular. Show some passion, dude. The Bernie Bros are never going to stop biting and snarling and mauling. Time to bite and snarl and maul back.
Biden and Sanders and the mayor are all going to flame out in the next few primaries. Unfortunately Bernie is going to take warren down with him. That leaves klobechar. She is no match for Trump (I saw her on Bill Maher and she isn't even a match for Maher much less Trump).she does well on the debates, but when it comes to thinking fast on your feet, she stumbles.
That leaves Bloomberg. He may not be perfect, but he can think fast on his feet, has the money and the organization behind him that rolls out great ADs in a hurry AND can stand up to Trump.
Added bonus: Bloomberg does not have to pass the democratic litmus tests. He is and will put all his efforts in attacking Trump which is a winning strategy.
So hang from a tree, wear a clown suit, and hold your nose, but vote for Bloomberg if he is the nominee. Because on any given minute of any given day, he is a hundred times better than Trump.

And that's why we call this place Despair Central.

Although we may have to revert to the name "Cannonfire." A few sites still link here. They may not continue to offer those links if they notice the name change.

-- W
Krugman said it, Bernie is no socialist. He is playing one on tv.
Anon, you're missing the point. There is no need to "play one on TV." Playing one on TV is counterproductive. How many times must we say it? SOCIALISM IS NOT POPULAR.

No, I am not referring to programs or ideas which right-wingers would identify as "socialist." I am saying that the WORD ITSELF is not popular. It is, in fact, hated. In the public mind, socialism will always and forever be associated with the USSR. That association is simplistic and foolish, but it cannot be eradicated anytime soon, so we must live with it.

FDR figured it out: He enacted socialistic programs while decrying the word itself. Had he embraced the word, he never would have been elected. Would the world be a better place right now if FDR had never been elected? No, it would not!

Bernie is doing the exact opposite. He is embracing the word but not the programs. He is thus the ANTI-FDR. He won't be elected -- but he will forevermore associate the Democratic party with an unpopular label.

Get it?
Of course I get it. What I am trying to say is that he's a fake. I am a leftist far leftist in fact. The word socialism is very attractive to me, at the same time Bernie repulse me. I don't share your opinion that all Americans strongly associate socialism with USSR because along time had passed since the cold war. A lot of Americans didn't mind that Putin had picked their president. I know Putin isn't a communist but still. Anyway, foe younger generations the S word isn't scary, some are curious about it. That's why Sanders successfully rides that horse still. I think we should use that against him the fact he has nothing to show for as a socialist and he said he isn't a democrat. So what is he.

No bernei
You must be young. Under 30, am I right?
When I was your age, I was smart, progressive and lived in a bubble.
I wanted to be heard, to be different, to change the world, to spit in the face of tradition,to be part of the future not the past. I read, I participated,I stood up and protested.
I don't regret what I did, but I wish I was smarter, more informed, smarter, more realistic .
Now, I am still a fighter,I still read, I still participate, I still stand up.
What I don't do anymore is be reactionary, let ideals move me where I should not go, ignore obvious problematic situations, and above all, chase unicorns.
So please, don't lose your passion, or your idealism. But please understand that this election is EXISTENTIAL .
Trust the people that have lived a few more decades than you to say, don't play around. This is important. You can have time and space to play once we have dodged this bullet.

Has it occurred to anyone besides me that Bernie does not really want to be President -- that he is merely campaigning for the grift?

He certainly is not the only one to do so. It is clear that he cares not what damage his campaigning nor his rabid supporters do to the chances of real Democrats. He was perfectly happy to let the country suffer under Trump so that he could run his grift one more time.
Well, my problem with our young friend comes down to that old saying: "You're entitled to your own opinion but not to your own facts." Your opinion of socialism may be positive, but the fact is that the term is toxic with voters. All polls indicate that fact. Only a fool relies on bullshit rationalizations to sweep away data that does not accord with said fool's prejudices.


They're not the only voters. And they are not the category most likely to vote. In 1972, many starry-eyed idealists sincerely thought that a youth wave would propel McGovern to the presidency. Didn't happen.

Besides, people become more conservative over time. That tendency has been noted for a couple of centuries. You think YOUR generation will be the great exception to that rule? Back in the 1965-72 period, the hippies were absolutely 100 percent convinced that THEY were the big exception to that rule. The truly believed that, within ten years, we would all be living as one in groovy back-to-nature communes in the new Socialist Utopia -- an Age of Aquarius, with harmony and understanding and sympathy and trust abounding, with mystic crystal revelations and the mind's true liberation. What self-deluded ninnies! By 1980, they were voting for Reagan.

As then, so now. Bank on it.

Besides, the young are more attracted to libertarianism and the Alt Right than to socialism. I did a fair amount of research into the Occupy movement and found that a lot (as in a LOT) of those dunderheads had actually drunk the Prager U kool-aid. I didn't notice a lot of greybeards weilding tiki-torches in Charlottesville. Gamergate was not something that attracted the attention Old Fuckers like me. The Klan is more powerful than before, and they are recruiting young people. This generation is by far the most racist and anti-progressive I've ever known.

Don't kid yourself, and don't stay locked within a bubble. Don't fall for the "Me and my friends" fallacy. The world is WAY bigger than you and your friends. Instead, read some history. In particular, read about the rise of the Nazi movement in Germany. You'll see that the far left inadvertently aided Adolf's rise to power every step of the way -- and in the end, many of them joined the Nazi party.

To avoid that fate, the center must hold. The CENTER.

Good piece on Bloomberg and his friendship with China:

The last time someone called me young was decades ago. My point which got lost the minute I declared my leanings is that attacking Sanders as a socialist is less effective than calling him a failed one. For over four decades he did nothing to advance his beliefs no extensive literature, as a senator no work there to distinguish him as one. Also in his state nothing either. So why investing and wasting our time on him. He is fake and a failure. He was sold to people as a different politician so let's examine that claim closely. Let's tell people whether you hate or like the S word he isn't going to deliver.
anon- your second comment clarifies your point much better and you do have a valid point. I don't have a short answer for your question, but I just read an article in NYT that touches on the subject indirectly.
And here is another article about Sanders and his appeal to the under 30 population.
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Saturday, February 15, 2020

Lindsey Graham: Is the covert truth about to come out?

I have not read any books by bestselling author Don Winslow, but he appears to be a serious person. He was once a PI. In his previous life, he established contacts with various federal officials. So we should not be too quick to dismiss the following message, which purports to be a "teaser trailer" for an upcoming grand revelation...

What do you think? On the level?

I don't like being teased. Failure to deliver the goods leaves a lingering bad taste in the mouth. Still, a person in Winslow's position has nothing to gain from pulling the old bait-and-switch, so I am going to allow myself to hope that he has proof, not just surmise.

It's pretty obvious that Team Trump has been using kompromat to manipulate potential critics and to enforce alliances. We need just one of these compromised actors to break down and admit the truth.

Winslow made news in October with his claim that Graham was being blackmailed.
Have you wondered why @LindseyGrahamSC has been defending @realDonaldTrump like his life depended on it? A friend in federal law enforcement told me about a certain threat @realDonaldTrump has made to Graham. It's personal. It's awful. And it's working very well.
Most respondents presumed that the Big Damn Secret concerned gay sex or underaged sex or gay underaged sex. Others posited financial chicanery as the motive. To me, the wording suggests the possibility of an actual threat against someone's life, though not necessarily to Graham's life. (In a future post, we may go into the evidence suggesting that Trump's forces threatened the life of Ambassador Yavonovich.)

From an Inquistr piece published last December:
Others have made similar claims. Back in January, MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle implied that Trump was blackmailing Graham with some kind of unknown dirt.

“It could be that Donald Trump or somebody knows something pretty extreme about Lindsey Graham,” Ruhle said, via WFTL. “We’re gonna leave it there.”

Ruhle did not offer evidence to back her claim and did not give any hint about what the blackmail could be.
Other political opponents have hinted in more vague terms that Graham is being leveraged in some way. As Vox reported, Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar suggested that Graham was “compromised” into supporting Trump. The report noted that Graham had previously revealed that his email account was hacked by the Russian government, a revelation that has been used as the basis for claims that he is compromised into supporting Trump.
Let's not get our hopes up. Whenever we tell ourselves "This latest development will finally topple this rotten presidency," we end up with spit decorating our faces. That said, everyone understands that blackmailing a senator -- or threatening a senator -- would be really fucking serious business. At the very least, we would have another impeachment.

If a new impeachment inquiry revs up, Nancy Pelosi must also include the obstruction charges outlined in the Mueller report. Her obstinate refusal to touch anything Mueller-related has allowed the Trumpists to promulgate the myth that the Mueller probe failed to find anything, that there was no there there.

(Do not count me among those who consider Pelosi a brilliant tactician.)

Incidentally, Winslow has also made some interesting noises about Barr. See here.
Matthew Chapman of RawStory: "On Thursday, former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner tweeted that the House of Representatives should 'make it rain subpoenas' -- and attach the threat of jail time to officials who refuse to honor them -- in order to find out whether Attorney General William Barr has quashed any Justice Department investigations into President Donald Trump. His tweet came in response to author Don Winslow, who asserts that sources in the DOJ tell him Barr has shut down six investigations into 'Trump and Trump related companies and surrogates,' and prevented two other investigations from beginning." --s
I find this claim credible. It would explain why we've heard so little from SDNY.

The Twitter trail suggests that Kirschner (now an MSNBC legal analyst) is acquainted with Winslow. Thus, it is fair to posit that Kirschner may be one of Winslow's sources on Lindsey Graham, although Winslow's wording suggests that his main source of info comes from someone currently "on the inside."
Talk about teasing!!!

The video cannot be played.
A couple of things:
1. Graham and Barr are doing exactly what they want to do. Graham is part of the Republican Party that has only one principle, money for the rich. That's it, that's the list. Everything else is just for show. Barr, as you have repeatedly pointed out, is not a believer in democracy, he believes in an authoritarian state. Barr and Graham are achieving their goals.
2. About Israel, the key question is whether Judaism is a tribe or a religion. But the question goes way beyond Jews, the question of tribalism and its relation to other tribes is the real issue. Take the Seminoles for example, what is the relationship of that tribe to the larger tribe of United States? How does one become a member of the tribe? Is it only by birth or is it by identity? What of the Black Seminoles? Who decides who belongs or is a member of the tribe? Is the tribe inclusive or exclusive? Those questions just begin the inquiry into tribalism. This is an important issue and my cursory reading of Dugin leads me believe that his ideas of tribalism are inimical to a free and just society. Thanks for the reference.
3. There is a book I just added to by queue, "Real Enemies" by Kathryn Olmsted. Have you heard of it? It's about conspiracies. You might enjoy it.
4. And about Flynn, the worst thing that could happen to him would be for the government to drop the charges. Jeopardy has not attached and if a Democrat is elected, all the cases could be reinstated. The charge he pled guilty to was part of a plea bargain and the more serious charges were dropped. A real prosecution might see him spending decades in prison.

Al Franken said that Lindsey Graham "has a shoplifting problem."

Wow, shoplifting can be a symptom of a bigger problem unless you are grabbing a loaf of bread because you are starving.
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Friday, February 14, 2020

Bloomberg and Stone and the GOP's "original sin"

I'll vote -- very reluctantly -- for Michael Bloomberg if he secures the nomination. Whatever else one may say about him, he stands a chance of defeating Trump. Bernie Sanders does not.

Imagine the difference between a Bloomberg replacement for Ginsberg versus a Trump replacement for Ginsberg. Need one say more?

I won't vote for Bernie if he is the nominee. Again: He stands no chance of winning in November. Why make myself vomit if no good can come of it?

That said, I don't like Bloomberg and I hope that Dems find some way to block his attempt to buy the nomination. The guy has enough baggage to fill Samsonite's warehouse.

Consider the recent controversy over his 2015 comments about the 2007-08 real estate crash. Bloomberg claimed that the mega-recession was created by Clinton-era laws against redlining. In other words, he sounded a familiar theme: "Blame the blacks."

This analysis was totally false.

Nothing in those anti-redlining laws sanctioned or encouraged home loans to unqualified applicants. Nothing in those laws forced the banks to give massive loans to anyone (white, black, brown, green) who walked into a bank and said "Gimme." Nothing in those laws encouraged Credit Default Swaps and the mis-labeling of sub-prime mortgages and all of the other eldritch financial chicanery that nearly tanked western civilization.

Bloomberg now claims that he is sorry for what he said in 2015. Well, at least the man knows how to apologize, a concession to civilization which puts him several cuts above Trump. But we have to keep in mind that he made his egregious statement a full seven years after the recession hit, at a time when the sordid truth was no mystery. Many documentaries, books and articles told the whole awful story of the financial crisis.

Bloomberg ignored this mountain of evidence -- ignored the truth. Instead, he promulgated a big, big, big lie -- one of the biggest lies libertarians have ever told.

Contrary to libertarian myth, regulation did not cause the recession. The lack of regulation invited disaster.

I have another big problem with Bloomberg: I don't like his fervently hawkish, Likudnik attitudes toward Israel and Iran. Bloombergism could well lead to war.

The following comes from a piece in Jewish Currents.
Time and again, Bloomberg’s unquestioning devotion to Israel has led him to defend immoral and disastrous policies. In 2004, he told an AIPAC reception that on “the one issue that matters . . . standing up for Israel, which I think is like standing up for America, George Bush has been there.” In fact, Bush’s invasion of Iraq—which Bloomberg supported—damaged both Israeli and American security by creating a power vacuum that empowered Iran and enabled the rise of the Islamic State.

Bloomberg has also lauded Benjamin Netanyahu; in 2014, he called the Israeli prime minister a “great leader and friend.” And despite Netanyahu’s demonization of his own Palestinian citizens and relentless opposition to a viable Palestinian state, the former mayor repeatedly sided with him over Barack Obama. Michael Oren, who interacted with Bloomberg frequently while serving as Israel’s ambassador in Washington, last year told The Jerusalem Post that Bloomberg “is not a progressive. He has a deep tribal connection to Israel” that made him “very upset about the [Obama] administration’s treatment of us.”

Bloomberg broke with Obama on the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which he opposed. He also parted ways with Obama on Israel’s 2014 war in Gaza. In July of that year, when the Obama administration called Israel’s bombing of a United Nations school “totally indefensible,” Bloomberg objected. Repeatedly referring to the Israeli government as “us,” the former mayor insisted, “Nobody is attacking schools or hospitals, we’re attacking Hamas,” adding that “if Hamas hides among the innocent, the innocent are going to get killed.”
Speaking as someone who considers the Iran deal a laudable accomplishment (which has been unfairly smeared by opportunistic Trumpists), Bloomberg's hawkish stance worries me. Would a President Bloomberg hire John Bolton? I fear so.

Roger Stone. Barr's corrupt intrusion into the Stone case baffles me. Why did Barr bother?

Everyone knows that Trump will pardon Stone. Trump has admitted as much. Alex Jones says so as well, based on info he got from a White House source, who may well be Trump himself.

Since the fix is in, what does Barr hope to accomplish? Judge Amy Berman-Jackson may now go harder on Stone than she might have done otherwise.

Yes, Barr gave an interview in which he dared to tell our Twitter-addicted President to lay off the tweets. Many Republicans have offered that same sentiment, privately and in public, but Barr may be the only one who can say such words and make them stick. Trump needs Barr.

The truly important takeaway from the Barr interview was his unwillingness to explain why he thumbed his nose at the sentencing guidelines.

Writing in Rolling Stone, Rick Wilson says what so many are thinking and too few are saying aloud:
Roger Stone Knows Trump’s Secrets. That’s Why He’ll Avoid Prison
Horseshit. The sentence Stone faced was appropriate because his actions weren’t simply a criminal — and criminally stupid — defense of the president. They were just one part of a wider assault from the transparently corrupt Trump-Barr kleptocracy on the entire administration of justice in the United States.
Of course, Stone likely won’t serve his full hitch, because Trump and Barr know that without a pardon Stone will squeal like a rat in a blender, proving that Trump lied to Mueller and about the details of the Trump-Stone-WikiLeaks connections. Stone sure as hell deserves his time in the graybar hotel for reasons of both ordinary and moral justice, and Judge Berman-Jackson has also likely had enough of Stone’s weapons-grade bullshit and may treat the revised DOJ sentencing letter as the political trash it is.
Pay attention to this next bit...
In the late 1990s, I once asked the famous (or infamous, depending on your perspective) New York political operator Ray Harding about Stone. Harding was a man who knew where all the bodies — literal and metaphorical — were buried. He looked across his desk from behind a cloud of unfiltered-Camel smoke and said to me, “Roger parlayed one line of bullshit into a career. The only person who buys his bullshit is that moron Trump.”
I go back and forth on the mystery of whether Donald Trump believes his own BS. Much evidence suggests that Trump possesses the ability to pull the wool over his own eyes.

Wilson believes that Stone's true punishment will come in the form of "penury" and legal bills. How naive! If Stone really does know Trump's darkest secrets -- and he does -- then his "penury" cannot last for long. Trump (or his oligarch pals) will have to find some way to make Roger Stone prosperous and content.

What secret might Stone be hiding?

Stone was found guilty of intimidating witness Randy Credico, a gadfly radio humorist whom Stone wanted to finger as the "go-between" passing messages between Stone and Julian Assange. But why would Stone go to such lengths -- even threatening Credico's dog -- in order to create this false impression?

The only theory that makes sense to me is that Stone had some other means of contacting Assange. As noted in this earlier post, evidence indicates that Sean Hannity played a role.

During the period in question, Assange contacted a puckish Twitter user who had created a parody account, pretending to be the real Sean Hannity. Thinking that he was in contact with the real McCoy, Assange offered the dirt on a Democratic bigwig -- dirt which would be delivered via "other channels."

In other words, there was a secret, secure means of communication.

Stone sent a revealing text to a key Trump supporter (probably Erik Prince):
On or about October 3, 2016, STONE wrote to a supporter involved with the Trump Campaign, “Spoke to my friend in London last night. The payload is still coming.”
The next day (October 4, 2016), Stone and this supporter had another text exchange:
...the supporter involved with the Trump Campaign asked STONE via text message if he had “hear[d] anymore from London.” STONE replied, “Yes - want to talk on a secure line - got Whatsapp?”
What does this exchange prove? It proves that the "dirty tricks" arm of the Trump campaign had devised a means of secret communication. Stone -- and, I feel certain, others -- used this channel to speak directly to Assange -- and, I feel certain, others.

If he spoke to Assange, then he could speak to Bog-knows-who-else. 

If Stone were to divulge the existence of this communication system, the revelation could harm even the seemingly-invulnerable Trump. Such a revelation would be akin to Alexander Butterfield divulging the existence of the Watergate tapes.

Here's another other deep, dark secret: Election rigging. I am quite sure that the Republicans have been doing it for decades, "nudging" the results a few points in various close elections. For obvious reasons, they have used this tool subtly and only when absolutely necessary.

Stone surely knows all about it. He must know. The ultimate dirty trickster cannot be ignorant of the ultimate dirty trick. Although it is now trendy to dismiss Stone as a blowhard, I was never one for trends and I refuse to underestimate the man's expertise in scumbaggery.

If Stone goes down, Trump goes down. And if Trump goes down, that whole filthy history of election rigging will come out. If Trump goes down, he'll bring the whole damned GOP with him.

No other theory explains how Trump has gained complete control over the party. This theory explains why so many people who once hated Trump -- Ted Cruz, Lindsay Graham, Paul Ryan, Susan Collins, and even Mitch McConnell (who once returned a donation from Trump) -- have abased themselves so thoroughly.

I doubt that Stone will ever see the inside of a prison. If he does go in, his stay will be brief -- just long enough for the right-wing propagandists to concoct a "martyr" narrative. In the end, he'll be a free man with millions in the bank.

The money will probably be laundered through a book deal. The usual mechanism.

Meanwhile, Reality Winner is still in prison. Her crime? Leaking the truth about Russian interference in our elections. Specifically, she leaked intelligence report about Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections to the news website The Intercept. The report suggested that Russian hackers had tried to access voter registration rolls in the U.S.
Election rigging is the secret. Computerized vote fraud is the original sin that has forced so many Republicans to swear fealty to a man they detest.
I think you are correct about the big secret that the Repbulicans are so willing to bow before Trump over. I've suspected election rigging for decades, so your investigation seems to confirm something I've always suspected. I think you are spot on regarding Stone as well.

As to Bloomberg, I think he would be worse than Trump in some ways. I really don't expect he would make much different of a choice for the supreme court than the Republicans would. He's a Republican in Dem clothing after all. Still, I would vote for anyone who gets the Dem nomination at this point, even Bernie (though I understand why you wouldn't be able to do that).
Bloomberg and baggage: after Trump baggage has lost it's effect. What matters is how shameless one is. A normal Democrat will try to apologize or worse withdraw in the face of a controversy. A Republican will dig in and defend the indefensible. Bloomberg will follow the republican play book.
The big secret: I totally agree about election rigging being the ultimate must keep secret.
BTW, I just started reading Wilson's new book.
Is Stone shrewd enough to have arranged for any damaging information which he knows to come out if he "has an accident" or "commits suicide"?

If not, then his stay in prison might be brief indeed--like Jeffrey Epstein's.
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Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Trumpists lay groundwork for abolishing the CIA

This won't be an easy post to write. I've been a CIA critic since, like, forever. But now that the Trump-worshipping Claremont Institute has come out in favor of abolishing the CIA, all I can say is: YIKES!

Don't dismiss this story as kooky outsider stuff. We once dismissed the Trump movement and the Alt Right as kooky outsider stuff. You'd do better to view the following words as an insight into Trump's second term agenda.

Why does the Claremont Institute advocate abolishing the CIA?
Intelligence officials abuse their positions to discredit opposition to the Democratic Party, of which they are part.
The author, one Angelo Codevilla, offers no evidence for this absurd assertion -- although if pressed, I'm sure that Angelo could point to scattered nuggets of nonsense published by the Alt Right press. If you root and snort your way through that madhouse library, you can find a way to rationalize any suggestion, however contrary to common sense that suggestion may be.

I probably shouldn't have to say this, but I'll say it anyways. A vast library of espionage-related literature (start here) demonstrates that American spooks have always favored the right, domestically and abroad. I need only mention the case of Richard Nixon, whose ascent in 1968 was covertly aided by CIA Director Richard Helms. Then there's Democrat Frank Church, whose career was cut short after he took on the CIA. Bill Barr got his start as George H.W. Bush's henchman at CIA. There is plenty of evidence that CIA worked to undermine both Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. CIA man William Casey was the key figure in the election of Ronald Reagan. The Agency was hardly on great terms with Obama, who shut down the torture programs. And let's not even talk about JFK.

I could go on and on, but why bother? After a certain point, anyone who wants to keep his lunch inside his belly must walk away from a debate with a creationist or a flat-earther. For the same reason, sane people can't debate a Pizza-gater or a Holocaust denier or anyone from the Claremont Institute. Basically, the Trumpers have taken the anti-CIA literature written by lefties over the past 50 years and turned it (ideologically) upside down.

Let us peruse further illustrations of right-wing madness:
CIA is obsolete. Cables show agents’ intelligence takes are inferior to diplomats’. Agent networks are unprotected by counterintelligence. FBI success at counterintelligence ended when the Bureau was politicized and bureaucratized in the 1970s. CIA bottlenecks and incompetently controls strategic intelligence, while the Army and Marines show demonstrable tactical superiority.

As a result, CIA is ideologically partisan. Its strength is in leading or joining domestic campaigns to influence public opinion. FBI has followed suit.

Senior intelligence officials were the key element in the war on Donald Trump’s candidacy and presidency. CIA used meetings that it manufactured as factual bases for lies about campaign advisors seeking Russian information to smear Hillary Clinton. Intelligence began formal investigation and surveillance without probable cause. Agents gained authorization to electronically surveil Trump and his campaign and defended their bureaucratic interests, sidelining Lieutenant General Michael Flynn and denying or delaying Trump appointments and security clearances.
And so on. Translation: People from the intelligence community were concerned when they found out about Team Trump's very real collusion with Russia. The Agency may be conservative at heart, but many within it have a healthy disdain for Vladimir Putin and his dreams of dominance.

And that's the real reason why the Trumpers seek to make this country vulnerable.

By the way: You shouldn't miss the implications of these words: "...the Bureau was politicized and bureaucratized in the 1970s..." Translation: They want to return to the bad old days of J. Edgar Hoover.

This type of thinking is dangerous. Beyond dangerous. The Trumpers have constructed an all-purpose conspiracy theory which scapegoats the CIA and the FBI for every news story that reveals Trump's sordid misdeeds.

The Claremont Institute is more Alex Jonesian than Alex Jones himself. For background on the institute, see here.
Among those Claremont is honoring in its new incarnation as a Trump-justifying toady is Jack Posobiec, the internet phenom most famous for promoting the “Pizzagate” conspiracy.
Posobiec may have been influenced by Alex Jones (he travels in the same circles), who had said: “When I think about all the children Hillary Clinton has personally murdered and chopped up and raped, I have zero fear standing up against her. Yeah, you heard me right. Hillary Clinton has personally murdered children. I just can’t hold back the truth anymore.”
Statesmanship is not the first word that jumps to mind when you mention the name Jack Posobiec. In addition to this role in the Pizzagate fiasco (which inspired a North Carolina man to burst into the restaurant armed with an assault rifle in 2016), he’s also known for showing up at an anti-Trump rally carrying a sign saying “Rape Melania.” See, it was the old “false flag” maneuver, attempting to discredit Trump protesters.
Many conservative institutions and individuals have adjusted their standards and long-proclaimed principles to accommodate Trump and Trumpism. Some have become almost unrecognizable. But Claremont stands out for beclowning itself with this embrace of the smarmy underside of American politics.

It ain't over. It has barely begun.

The chart above shows who won what throughout the 1992 primaries. Bill Clinton didn't score a single victory until the sixth race (in Georgia), and didn't score a big victory until South Carolina, the twelfth race. Granted, few saw much reason to campaign in Iowa against favorite son Tom Harkin. Still, these results tell us that we have little reason to consider our two "frontrunners" -- Pete and Bernie -- to be permanent fixtures.

Here's another tweet which may change your perspective on this race:

Speaking as a Liz fan, it pisses me off to be rooting against the progressive lane. National Health Insurance would make me very happy. A Warren presidency would make me extremely happy.

But the important thing is to retain some chance of defeating Donald Trump -- which means that we must do everything we can to prevent a sure loser like Bernie from attaining the nomination. If Trump wins, he'll pick the next two or three Supreme Court Justices, and where will we be then? A Trumpist Court will last long after Donnie himself has gone off to patronize the great Mickey D's in the ninth circle of Dis.
There is also the distinct possibility of a brokered convention, especially if Bloomberg stays in until the end. What would happen then? I like to think that perhaps someone, not now a candidate, would give a James Garfield type speech and get the nomination.
If Biden should somehow drop out, which I doubt, the election is over. Trump will be re-elected. The rest of the candidates can't win anything nationally, and that includes Amy Klobuchar, who is more a VP candidate than a presidential one.

Warren will be out after Super Tuesday. She is already in decline. She is a poor speaker and debater, and she has been caught in a couple of lies. She isn't as bad as Sanders, but the lies are not helping her (why she left teaching, for example, was a flagrant lie when she claimed she was non-renewed or fired because of her pregnancy when in fact she voluntarily left).

It angered me that the Democratic field was so cluttered with candidates who can't win the general. Only Biden and Klobuchar on one ticket, have any chance at all in the general.

To follow up, fivethirtyeight says that a contested convention is likely and getting likelier.
The question is, in a contested convention, who wins and you do you like? As far as Bernie and Corbyn go, Corbyn's personal negatives were astronomical by any measure. Bernie's aren't nearly as bad, but they could get much worse once the negative campaigning starts. Of course, the same with just about any candidate. The important thing for Democrats is to refrain from demanding ideological purity and to stop judging candidates for actions taken years by today's standards.
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New Hampshire. Plus: "Beefsteak" Bernie Bros

Although Sanders nosed out a victory in New Hampshire, the results should cheer the hearts of Berniephobes like me. This is a state which he won handily in 2016 -- a state which ought to be friendlier to him than any other, aside from Vermont. If memory serves, he got 60 percent of the vote four years ago -- yet in 2020, he barely eked out a win.

Here are the numbers as of this writing -- numbers which will no doubt shift by morning, though not by that much.
With 82% of expected vote reporting, as of 10:46 p.m. ET, Bernie Sanders is currently leading with 26%, followed by former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, with 24% and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, with 20%.
MSNBC had Biden at 9 percent, which is pretty disheartening. Joe's not my favorite candidate, but I don't want him to lose this way. That is to say: I don't want him to lose because Trump's smears proved effective.

Let's focus on Bernie vs. All Others. The current numbers tell us that, this time around, the candidates considered moderate (Amy, Pete, Joe) received roughly 60 percent of the vote. This isn't 2016. 2020 is the "Beat Trump" election, not the "Socialism now!" election. Only a quarter of the NH electorate looked at Bernie Sanders and thought: "Yeah, this is the guy who can beat Trump."

David Corn makes much the same point here.
The bottom line: There was a winner, but Sanders does not at this point hold a dominant position within the Democratic cosmos. With no single candidate staking a claim on more than about one-fourth of the vote, there is plenty of incentive for other candidates to stay in the hunt. This may be especially true since the two leaders at the moment each trigger questions among some voters about their electability. Sanders would be the first Jewish and socialist presidential nominee of a major party, and Buttigieg is a gay nominee with modest political experience.
If Biden and Warren flicker out, Klobuchar becomes our only real choice. I don't care for either of the billionaires, though Steyer is preferable to the baggage-laden Bloomberg.

Biden will bounce back in South Carolina, though I'm not sure that he'll bounce hard enough. I'm comfortable with Klobuchar: She may not be the most charismatic candidate in history, but she speaks well, she wears well, she has a moderate/liberal persona, and she has the experience that Mayor Pete lacks.

Warren remains my personal favorite, and her apparent fall saddens me immensely. She and Bernie vied for the hard left vote, and she lost that contest. Too bad: She's the brightest, best-prepared, most inspiring of the candidates, and -- unlike Bernie -- she could plausibly veer toward the center during a general election contest.

Unlike Bernie, she was always bright enough not to call herself a socialist.

My problem with the "socialist" label has little to do with policy, though I would appreciate it if Bernie offered clearer ideas about how to pay for all of those promised goodies. My problem concerns the word itself. This story from last year destroys the oft-heard argument that BS is the new FDR: Roosevelt was always too canny a politician to align himself with the S-word. His example proves that any American politician must contrive to escape that label if he wants to enact ideas that a zealous F.A. Hayek fan might consider unforgivably socialistic. This situation isn't fair, but reality is reality is reality: The S-word will always reek of Bolshevism to the American nose, and no amount of "education" will deodorize the terminology.

The Jeremy Corbyn example should terrify us all. I'd like to share a few observations from this Reddit thread:
One of the reasons Corbyn suffered a catastrophic defeat - the worst for Labour in 80 years - is because Corbynites were more focused on demanding liberals bend the knee than in fighting Tories.
they thought that because they were able to bully people through brigading, swarming, shouting-down, shitposting, trolling, banning and downvoting in threads on reddit and social media they had 'won the argument'

they turned major subs here into echo chambers by doing this

they could only hold the upper-hand by bullying people - rather than by genuinely engaging in substantive discussion - so for all their effort they went into the general with totally unprincipled arguments that often defeated each other when tested

imo, that's the most damaging and dangerous similarity between corbyn and sanders that we need to recognize now
And in their worship of Corbyn they ignored the fact that he had major flaws that made him profoundly unappealing to those outside of their bubble.
Someone else pointed it out, but once you see it you can't un-see it.

Pre-election Corbyn and Sanders were two peas of a pod, hardly able to tell them part. After all they were both olde tyme lefties who are going to deliver electoral victory and FULL COMMUNISM NOW. There supporters always loved to point out how similar they were.

Right until Corbyn got dumpestered by an inbred Ronald McDonald clone wearing a mop as a wig. Then the two were nothing a like.
BuT wE cAn WiN iT WiThOuT yOu!
That last bit was meant sarcastically.

Actually, I doubt that anyone can win it without Bloomberg's promised billions. Although I'm not a Bloomberg fan, I must admit that his commercials have been incredibly effective, and I was heartened to learn that he will run anti-Trump ads even if he loses the nomination. But will he truly work hard to elect a billionaire-basher like Bernie? I don't think so.

"Beefsteak" Bernie Bros...?
The elections that brought Hitler to power offer us a profound warning from the past. The left-most German party was the KPD; we may consider those voters the Bernie Bros of their time and place. They concentrated not on defeating Hitler but on weakening the center -- on weakening democracy itself.

Believe it or not, the prospect of a Hitler victory appealed to many within the KPD. They said: "After Hitler, our turn." It didn't occur to those naive ninnies that they would never get a turn because Hitler would eliminate the vote. The Reichstag fire was a trick that the KPD-ers did not see coming.

Once Hitler consolidated power, a surprising number of KPD rank-and-filers decided to join the Nazi party. They were derisively labeled "Beefsteak Nazis" -- brown on the outside, red on the inside. Before not too many years had passed, the browning had gone all the way through.

I wonder how many Bernie Bros have the potential to turn into Beefsteak Nazis? Quite a few, I'd reckon. Consider the example of H.A. Goodman.
You mean the KPD not the KDP.

The analysis of Labour's effort in Britain in the December 2019 general election that you found on Reddit is utter rubbish. As soon as I read the quote that "One of the reasons Corbyn suffered a catastrophic defeat - the worst for Labour in 80 years - is because Corbynites were more focused on demanding liberals bend the knee than in fighting Tories" I immediately suspected it was written by somebody from the US who was very ignorant about British politics, because nobody here would say that the reason Labour lost was because they "demanded" that "liberals bend the knee" rather than focusing on fighting the Tories. Neither Labour nor the group around Corbyn did anything of the kind. (Who are the "liberals" in Britain anyway? Labour went all out against the Tories - they didn't focus on fighting the Liberal Democrats; nor did Jeremy Corbyn concentrate on fighting his opponents in the Labour party.) It turns out that the author is Neera Tanden, president of the "Center for American Progress" in the US, a person who worked for both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

If Ms Tanden had a clue about recent British politics, she would know that Corbyn was ready to form a government before the general election was called, in order to prevent Britain leaving the EU without holding another Brexit referendum first, and that it was the Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson's refusal to cooperate with Corbyn that prevented that route from being taken. There wasn't any particular policy reason that was cited. A Corbyn government at that time would have been little but a caretaker one anyway: it would have negotiated a Brexit deal with EU27 and then put it to the people in another referendum before a general election in the spring. Swinson basically treated Corbyn as untouchable and said he had failed to "deal with" anti-Semitism. She was too scared to condemn the Tory lies against Labour, basically.

Labour did unexpectedly well under Jeremy Corbyn in the 2017 general election and fought the 2019 one on a programme of widespread social reform. The reason they lost was because the Tories successfully deployed xenophobia (winning working class votes for the Tories in northern and midland English constituencies) and benefited from a huge amount of explicit help from the pro-Israel lobby who constantly and lyingly condemned Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party for "anti-Semitism" (losing Labour support among the urban middle classes). Things were mentioned such as Jeremy Corbyn's pronunciation of the surname "Epstein". Garbage was spread around on the internet such as the idea that when Labour leaders used the word "billionaire" they were thinking of the qualifier "Jewish". But no mention was made of Labour's promises to recognise Palestine and to remove protection for Israeli war criminals. Tanden hasn't got the faintest idea what she is talking about.
This comment has been removed by the author.
I have corrected the mixup in nomenclature. But from what I've read, there really was an awful lot of intransigence on the part of Corbyn supporters -- and a good deal of communication between the Corbyn camp and the Bernie camp. The fact is that Corbyn's supporters wildly over-estimated their own popularity, as do Sanders' supporters.

You say the name "Hillary Clinton" as though she's a big scary monster.
And yes, I can still edit things around here. The blog remains under my account.
Neera Tanden has worked for leading figures on the non-socialist wing of the US Democratic party and she is imagining that what she thinks has been so in the US [*] has also been present in Britain. The reality is that no big division in the Labour party played much of a role in the three year period leading up to the recent general election, a period in which Labour under Jeremy Corbyn performed extremely well in one election and very badly in another. Conjuring up imaginary analogies is a terrible look.

(*) Personally I would point more of a finger at Jill Stein and the Greens. Four years ago during the presidential election campaign period I watched her respond to a question about how best to fight Donald Trump by ranting against Hillary Clinton. You can't get much clearer than that. (I still don't understand why Stein was even allowed to attend Democratic party events.) I didn't see Bernie Sanders behave in anything like that fashion. Perhaps some of his supporters did. He didn't go third party as some predicted he would. He supported the party's chosen candidate. If those in the various factions of the Democratic party get behind the winning candidate this time (rather than "PUMA"-ing out), this vile Republican president can be unseated. The Trump campaign will love a big PUMAfest among Democrats. The age-old rules of conflict apply.

PS The person who refers to Boris Johnson as "an inbred Ronald McDonald clone wearing a mop as a wig" may like to get a bigger box of cultural references and consider whether Ronald McDonald is known for reciting lengthy passages from Homer in Ancient Greek. Donald Trump had wide recognition as a cartoon-type character in TV wrestling and on "reality TV", and he only became a politician when he announced he was running for president. Johnson is certainly similar to Trump in that they are both far-rightwing bastards, and yes his mop-like hairstyle is part of his shtick, but to characterise him in the way that this person did is to fail to get a grip on what Johnson and his puppetmaster Dominic Cummings are all about. (Those readers of this blog who aren't already aware of Cummings may like to take a look at him.)
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Monday, February 10, 2020

For once, I agree with QAnon

Should we refer to QAnon in the plural or the singular? For the sake of convenience, let's use he instead of they.

QAnon advises his followers to drink bleach to ward off the coronavirus. I heartily agree. If you believe in the things that QAnon has to say, you definitely should drink bleach. Lots and lots and LOTS of bleach.

Of course, the QAnon Qrazies insist that MMS is not bleach. Oh yes it is, sayeth the FDA.
Websites selling Miracle Mineral Solution describe the product as a liquid that is 28 percent sodium chlorite in distilled water. Product directions instruct people to mix the sodium chlorite solution with a citric acid, such as lemon or lime juice, or another acid before drinking. In many instances, the sodium chlorite is sold with a citric acid “activator.” When the acid is added, the mixture becomes chlorine dioxide, a powerful bleaching agent.

Both sodium chlorite and chlorine dioxide are the active ingredients in disinfectants and have additional industrial uses. They are not meant to be swallowed by people.
I suspect that Trump's FDA will change this message if Trump decides to profit from the bleach biz. I hear you can make a killing.

"Miracle" cures are fun. Did you know that some people drink turpentine for health reasons? They even bathe in the stuff to cure erectile disfunction. If that's your problem, you'd do better to drink bleach: It's a great way to get stiff.

They are withholding the real secret cure. The secret is colloidal silver. But taken in large enough doses, for a sufficient length of time, it will change the color of a white person’s skin to a strange pale blue.

(That sad result is not suffered by very many people likely since the stuff is, one imagines, expensive. And, since it does not actually cure anything, most customers do not keep returning for long,)


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Has democracy degenerated into mob rule?

Fortunately, everyone now admits what became obvious during the 2016 race: Bernie Sanders presides over a disgusting, rage-filled, conspiracy-crazed, potentially violent and downright Trumpian mob. I wasn't surprised when the only left-wing mass shooter of recent years turned out to be a Bernie Bro.

Even if you like Sanders, this new piece by Jonathan Last should disturb you. Last begins by quoting a few choice bits of vileness offered by Bernie's bros and hos. Last then offers this observation:
This is, as everyone else has pointed out, not very different from Trump’s social network army.

By which I mean that it’s morally different, but functionally the same. Unlike Trump, Sanders does not encourage online bullying himself—he only employs some people who do. That’s a big difference in terms of the moral framework!
Bullshit. There is no moral difference between Michael Corleone ordering someone else to kill his brother and Michael Corleone doing the job himself. Charlie Manson didn't kill Sharon Tate but he went to jail for it. Bernie refuses to take responsibility for the lies, paranoid accusations, threats, brutality and demeaning language routinely offered by his crazed minions. His refusal to apologize makes him 100 percent culpable.

(You should read the quotes in Last's article. It's just so bloody adorable: The same easily-offended progressives who always demand "trigger warnings" -- who get the vapors and demand safe spaces whenever they receive even the lightest criticism -- always use the worst possible language when denouncing a perceived enemy. The bros have turned hypocrisy into a fine art.)
No other candidate has anything like this sort of digital brownshirt brigade. I mean, except for Donald Trump.

The question no one is asking is this:

What if you can’t win the presidency without an online mob?

What if we now live in a world where having a bullying, agro social media army running around popping anyone who sticks their head up is either an important ingredient for, or a critical marker of, success?
Then give up on democracy.

If democracy has devolved into mob warfare, then the result will not be a unified nation but Chicago, 1925. Or maybe Syria, 2014. Recall the words of Abraham Lincoln:
When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty – to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.”
The only bright news on the election front today was Amy Klobuchar's uptick in New Hampshire. Boston Globe shows her in 3rd place. Chris Matthews actually said she was the only one who looked presidential in Friday's debate. Trying not to hold my breath but I like her. I don't like Bernie and I especially don't like his chances. Just wait for him to become the nominee and they will drag out all the socialist rallies he's attended and vet him like nobody's business. Most Americans are stupid and incapable of thinking. Bernie will be successfully labeled a communist and there goes the election.
If I believe Bernie to be a socialist i will vote for him. But I don't think he is, at least not anymore. In 2016 his campaign and followers openly said there are no difference between Trump and Hillary. Actually they preferred Dump bc that may lead to a real revolution. Is their plan working? Let's not help them. They don't a revolution if it hit them on the face. The they talk about is almost comical, if it's not so sad.
No Bernie.
If you need proof the left is just as capable of brazen lying as the right, just watch or listen to The Majority Report With Sam Seder on YouTube. He and his sidekicks have no compunction at all about lying if it benefits their sacred Bernie Sanders. Anybody with half a brain knows Sanders, an old New Left activist from the sixties, is radioactive because of such a background. Shame on anybody who supports him.
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Progressive purists make me puke

This is exactly the sort of thing I can't stomach...

No. It's a matter of acquiescing to reality.

Reality: A general election is a popularity contest. Reality: Socialists are NOT POPULAR. Reality: Feminists are NOT POPULAR. Reality: Political correctness is NOT POPULAR. Reality: Identity politics are DEFINITELY NOT POPULAR.

Reality: The Democratic nominee must distance herself or himself from these unpopular stances if she or he wants to have any chance at winning.

Here's another piece of discomforting reality: Progressives who pretend to love-love-love black people continually disdain the way black people vote. Yes, it's true that there are no people of color in the top tier of current Democratic candidates -- but you can't blame the DNC for that situation, and you can't blame an imaginary white conspiracy. The simple truth is that black voters said no to Harris and Booker while saying yes to Joe Biden. Nobody made that decision for them.

Most blacks are not progressives. In fact, most disdain the label "liberal."

Sanders supporters still promulgate the myth that, in 2016, African Americans would have voted in greater numbers if Sanders had been the nominee. Bullshit. Many African Americans just plain hated Sanders; they backed Hillary in massive numbers throughout the primaries. Without their support, she probably would not have won the nomination.

Sanders supporters will no doubt offer a screwball rationalization as to why most black people won't vote for their candidate. There's always a screwball rationalization. Progressives are really, really good at coming up with screwball rationalizations.
A movement that is about half the human race being treated like human beings--feminism--exists not because it is popular--it exists because it is right. Too bad whiny white dudes like you feel threatened by it. Evidently you see women as inferiors, for how you be threatened about them otherwise? BTW, women's rights and the rights of racial minorities are NOT identity politics, a right-wing term that came from the era of McGovern's campaign.

The alphabet soup movement (LGBT,etc.) IS about "identity," especially the "T" movement, which at bottom is a right-wing movement and not on the left at all. It is virulently anti-feminist.

You DO understand, don't you, that you hold the EXACT position about this as the man you despise, Bernie Sanders. He thinks women's rights are not important or the rights of racial minorities aren't, because everything is about economic CLASS. That is total bullshit because there are vital issues separate from economics. Just because you can improve the economic lot of working people doesn't mean women and racial minorities' issues are just willy-nilly taken care of. It doesn't work that way. However, it benefits the butthurt white dudes, the group that IS in power, so it is okay to ignore or trash the rights of women and minorities.

You would have been right up there with George Wallace and the segregationists back in the 1960s because the civil rights movement was not "popular." Of course, you are too young to remember those years. Nixon promoted his "southern strategy" because the civil rights movement was not "popular" with the working class, the "hardhats" as they were known then. You are just like them, and you are wrong.

Twice the dickishness and a quarter of the writing ability of Cannon. Goodbye worthless hillary bot.
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Sunday, February 09, 2020

Tulsi the lawn-viper

Tulsi Gabbard has consistently said that she would not run as a third party candidate. Looks like she lied.

Never trust a cultist.

We're talking a lot about cults these days, aren't we? I used to think that the '70s was the decade of the cult. But now... 
Why didn't the Democrats win the Senate in 2018?
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"First he came for Comey..."

Before we get to our main item, we need to talk about Bernie. This blog will be doing that a lot until the vampire is finally staked.

That said: Part of me hopes that Bernie wins the nomination, because America's more fanatical progressives need to be discredited once and for all. Maybe that won't happen until we stage our own version of the Jeremy Corbyn disaster.

The latest news is that Bernie claims to be in good health, yet he won't release his medical records.

What bullshit! A man of his years who has had a heart attack is not in good health and never will be again. If you're in that position, the best you can say is "I'm in good health considering" or "I'm in relatively good health."

Am I being harsh? I'm being candid.

Bernie's refusal to be forthright about his medical records is just as Trumpian as his Russian troll army. Think about how his refusal will play out during a general election: The propaganda-pushers managed to convince the voters that Hillary was at death's door, even though she was actually in fine health. Bernie is not. Azrael follows us all, but the angel of death stalks Bernie Sanders more closely than he trails any other Democratic candidate.

A discussion of Bernie's bullshit on this blog contains a few choice items worthy of quotation here:
While it's normal for politicians in campaigns, to make lots and lots of promises, including ones bordering on impossible. Bernie's magic hat of policies, kind of blows me away that people fall for the breadth of his agenda with no true political rationale on how to achieve it. He always cops out and says it's a revolution. Like....that's a thing.
And if you question the Revolution, then you’re not pure enough and therefore deserve to be stomped on.
By the way, Reddit has effectively banned all criticism of Sanders. True, you are allowed to dis him all you want in a Reddit ghetto created for that purpose. But if you venture outside of that ghetto, you dare not utter one word against Saint Bernie.

"First they came for Comey."If you haven't seen it yet, this thread by Benjamin Wittes demands your attention.
First he came for @comey, and I said nothing because I was mad at @comey because of the Clinton email investigation and I blamed him for Trump’s election.

Then he came for Andy McCabe and I said nothing because there was this inspector general report that said McCabe lacked candor.

Then he came for Jim Baker and I said nothing because I had never heard of Jim Baker and the FBI director is entitled to his own leadership team anyway.

Then he came for @NatSecLisa and @petestrzok and I said nothing because they sent text messages and the president and Fox News kept reminding me that they had an affair.

Then he came for Bruce Ohr and I said nothing because that one was so deep in the weeds that it made my head hurt and maybe Bruce Ohr shouldn’t have been doing what he was doing anyway.

Then he came for Jeff Sessions and I said nothing because, shit, he was Jeff Fucking Sessions and it actually took Donald Trump to discover the one or two honorable bones in his body.

Then he came for Sir @KimDarroch, and I said nothing because he’s a British government official and I have no dog in a fight over how the UK staffs its embassies.

Then he came for Masha Yovanovich and I said nothing because ambassadors serve at the pleasure of the president and he can remove ambassadors for any reason or no reason at all.

And then he came for Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and his brother, Evgeny Vindman, and I said nothing—because I was used to it.
Later, Wittes was reminded that he left Preet Bharara off this list. Since Wittes and Bharara are friends, the omission tells us that Trump's vindictiveness has been normalized and internalized. Living with Trump's barbaric behavior is like living on an island with a constantly-sounding foghorn: After awhile, one stops noticing the sound.
Thanks for alerting me to this thread - I have been increasingly concerned about the number of Trump scandals that are down the memory hole. It is a very powerful impulse in America, to "normalize" whatever a president does, and it seems to be very difficult for the media to keep themselves from falling into this trap.
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Saturday, February 08, 2020

The Bernie Bros must be destroyed

Fuck unity. You can't unite with toxic sludge.

Unity with the Bernie Bros is impossible, and don't let anyone try to convince you otherwise. We can no longer coddle them. These cultists are thought-free, brainwashed monsters, and must be confronted as such.

Look at the video embedded above. The purpose of this production is to instill hatred of the Democratic party in an election year. One viewing of this video and you'll know why my attitude has hardened.

What can one say about a Bernie spokesperson who is so odious, so obnoxious, so disgusting, so vile, so unendurable? Tellingly, Sanders himself has refused to denounce or to chastise his monstrous mouthpieces. He views them as plausibly deniable assets.

Not only is this bosomy swine-ette trying to make all Bernie cultists hate the Dems, she seems to be determined to make all non-cultists hate Bernie Sanders. Division is her raison d'etre.

Why is she acting this way? Look to Moscow. I can't prove that Rania is paid by the Kremlin, but I'd be lying if I pretended not to have my suspicions. When you are playing the "spot the provocateur" game, always look for one key "tell": The Trumpian inability to apologize. An ineradicable arrogance is characteristic of the paid schill.

Remember 2016? Bernie was represented by H.A. Goodman and Cassandra Fairbanks, two lawn-vipers pretending to be liberals. Bernie has never denounced them, even though they both now support Trump. You've probably seen the picture of Cassandra with Roger Stone, who was, in all likelihood, her mentor.

Rania Khalek is the new Cassandra. You'll be particularly infuriated by her claim that Democrats should simply suck it up when insulted and belittled. Yet t the same time, the Bernie Bros (or Bernie Hos, as in the case of Rania and Cassandra) act outraged whenever anyone says one unkind word about them.

Do they really expect us to accept this outrageous double standard? I sure as hell won't.

They remind me of a classic Matt Groening cartoon from the '80s, in which he depicted the nine types of bosses. The final image -- depicting the worst of the lot -- perfectly summarizes the Bernie cultists.

The Bernie Bros actually expect everyone else to accept -- meekly, humbly, obsequiously -- abuse and humiliation. Anyone who has any understanding of human psychology knows that this will never happen. Most people are not masochists.

That's why I have no choice but to conclude that the Bernie cult was engineered by Putin and/or the Alt Right and/or Team Trump. The goal is to divide and demoralize the Dems.

Let's face facts: They've done it.

At this point, we have no choice but to take harsh action. The wound is deep and filled with pus. We must cut off the limb or we will lose all.

The Democratic party must amputate the festering Bernie cult.

The vast majority of Bernie Bros are beyond redemption. They must be eradicated mercilessly. People like Rania and Cassandra have made Bernie Sanders absolutely unacceptable.


Meanwhile: Mayor Pete. Despair fans, take note: The gods have given you new reason for hopelessness.
Democratic presidential candidate and former South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg is facing questions after recent revelations that his 2020 effort has taken campaign contributions from an infamous Republican Party billionaire with direct links to the Russian oligarchy. That’s according Federal Election Commission (FEC) data reviewed by Law&Crime.

Previously described in the press as “The Giver,” Leonard “Len” Blavatnik is a well-known GOP donor with a New York address who previously took it upon himself to fund President Donald Trump‘s lavish — and allegedly criminal — inauguration festivities in 2017 to the tune of some $1 million.

Now, Blavatnik and his wife are apparently shifting allegiances. As of this writing, they have donated thousands of dollars to Pete for America, Inc., Buttigieg’s official campaign organization.
I like Mayor Pete. I don't think he's the right candidate this cycle, but I like the guy. This, however...this is concerning.

Looks to me as though Team Trump read the same poll I did. A quarter of the country won't vote for a gay guy. The situation is unfair, no question about that. But it is what it is.

Well, in 2008, there were people who said they wouldn't vote for Obama because he is black. I don't know the percentages but I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't at least 20 per cent (though maybe they would have been too embarrassed to tell a pollster that reason.)
I'm hopeful Mayor Pete has enough charisma to overcome the prejudice - I am starting to think that he is going to win enough delegates in the primaries to be competitive at the convention, if not the outright winner.
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