Pro tip: When you intend to argue that a prosecution is not politically motivated, don’t do this

Julian Assange

We are in the tricky position here of assuming that just because Donald Trump is a serial liar, everything anyone who contradicts him might say is true, but it seems that Dana Rohrabacher conveyed a pardon offer from Trump to Julian Assange. Assange, who has already denied—apparently almost no one in U.S. intelligence believes him[1]—that the Russians were behind “Gucifer 2.0,” who leaked “stolen” emails exposing Democratic National Committee favoritism for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 primaries, was to receive a pardon for doing so.[2] We actually still don’t really know, but merely “believe,” that the Russians were behind it.[3] We do know that Clinton had indeed taken over the DNC.[4]

John Simpson, “Trump ‘offered deal to pardon Julian Assange,’” Times, February 20, 2020, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/trump-offered-deal-to-pardon-julian-assange-zhtcfc2ld


  1. [1]Mark Mazzetti and Katie Benner, “12 Russian Agents Indicted in Mueller Investigation,” New York Times, July 13, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/13/us/politics/mueller-indictment-russian-intelligence-hacking.html
  2. [2]John Simpson, “Trump ‘offered deal to pardon Julian Assange,’” Times, February 20, 2020, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/trump-offered-deal-to-pardon-julian-assange-zhtcfc2ld
  3. [3]Philip Bump, “What we know — and don’t know — about WikiLeaks, Julian Assange and the 2016 campaign,” Washington Post, April 11, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/04/11/what-we-know-dont-know-about-wikileaks-julian-assange-campaign/
  4. [4]Donna Brazile, “Inside Hillary Clinton’s Secret Takeover of the DNC,” Politico, November 2, 2017, https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/11/02/clinton-brazile-hacks-2016-215774

Barack Obama failed to unite the country. He thinks he can unite Democrats.

Barack Obama

A while ago, I wrote,

Cornel West cites what “may have been our last [and lost] chance to break from our neoliberal soulcraft,” Barack Obama’s failure “to break with the Wall Street priorities and bail out Main Street,” the lack of “accountability of US torturers of innocent Muslims and the [lack of] transparency of US drone strikes killing innocent civilians,” his silence on stop-and-frisk, his demonization of whistle blowers, and his response to Black Lives Matter and to Israeli attacks on Palestine “with words about the difficult plight of police officers, department investigations (with no police going to jail) and the additional $225m in financial support of the Israeli army. Obama said not a mumbling word about the dead Palestinian children but he did call Baltimore black youth ‘criminals and thugs’.”[1]

Yet the mainstream media and academia failed to highlight these painful truths linked to Obama. Instead, most well-paid pundits on TV and radio celebrated the Obama brand. And most black spokespeople shamelessly defended Obama’s silences and crimes in the name of racial symbolism and their own careerism. How hypocritical to see them now speak truth to white power when most went mute in the face of black power. Their moral authority is weak and their newfound militancy is shallow.[2]

This is all true, but I would add that after Obama inherited wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where we’re still involved, and won the Nobel Peace Prize,[3] “the United States dropped 26,171 bombs in seven countries” in 2016[4] and that Obama’s much ballyhooed accomplishment on climate change is, to be generous, an ineffective non-binding half-measure.[5] I would amplify that Obama clearly cared not one whit for ordinary people, except when he wanted their votes, as he declared in 2009 that “[w]e all know that there are limits to what government can and should do [for the unemployed], even during such difficult times,”[6] allowed what should have been a bailout for homeowners blindsided by the crash in real estate values to become a bailout for bankers instead,[7] and used the promise of health care to bail out health insurance companies and pharmaceutical firms that didn’t even need a bailout.[8] Similarly, his disdain for the left,[9] which I guess just wasn’t neoconservative, neoliberal, or corrupt enough for him, should have been a caution about supporting Hillary Clinton.[10]

Barack Obama failed to unite the country. Jim Geraghty of the mostly neoconservative National Review suggests that Obama thinks he’s going to unite the Democrats:[11]

With each week and Sanders’s continued rise, I’ve been thinking about this report from Ryan Lizza, writing in Politico, back on November 26: “There is one potential exception: Back when [Bernie] Sanders seemed like more of a threat than he does now, [Barack] Obama said privately that if Bernie were running away with the nomination, Obama would speak up to stop him. (Asked about that, a spokesperson for Obama pointed out that Obama recently said he would support and campaign for whoever the Democratic nominee is.)”

It’s now mid-February, and the results of the latest national poll from Marist/NPR/PBS are: Bernie Sanders 31 percent, Michael Bloomberg 19 percent, Joe Biden 15 percent, Elizabeth Warren 12 percent, Amy Klobuchar 9 percent, Pete Buttigieg 8 percent. (How odd is it that the current leader in delegates is running sixth nationally?) If Sanders isn’t running away with the nomination, he’s starting to get close. If Obama’s going to object to Sanders, now is the time to do it. But according to the [Gabriel] Debenedetti report, he’s not going to. [emphasis added by Jim Geraghty][12]

I am by no means alone among progressives in speaking harshly of Barack Obama. He certainly did himself no favors when he let it slip that he would speak up against Bernie Sanders.[13] And with Nancy Pelosi’s impeachment of Donald Trump being, as I put it, “[t]he stupidest impeachment ever, historically notable first for all the offenses it failed to charge Donald Trump with,[14] second for its utterly predictable futility, and third for its transparent (and apparently failed) attempt to protect Joe Biden.[15][16] so-called “centrists,” including Obama, have absolutely zero credibility with progressives. If Obama wants to see just how far his star has fallen, he should just press on as he apparently intends.

To be fair, few progressives have quite my memory. Mostly they just remember 2016,[17] they’ve seen the shenanigans in Iowa,[18] and are pretty sure the Democratic National Committee is up to its old tricks. They’ve taken note of the narrow focus of Pelosi’s impeachment,[19] and seen Donald Trump’s response to it.[20] They’ve figured out that Obama is indeed just what he says he is, a so-called “centrist,” which, as they understand quite well, in real terms, means maybe just a little left of Attila the Hun. And progressives now range anywhere from pissed to furious.

These so-called “centrists,” Obama especially included, underestimate that anger.

Jim Geraghty, “When Is Obama Going to Speak Up?” National Review, February 18, 2020, https://www.nationalreview.com/the-morning-jolt/when-is-obama-going-to-speak-up/


Donald Trump

Philip Bump, “Trump is making it very clear how seriously he objects to official corruption,” Washington Post, February 18, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/02/18/trump-is-making-it-very-clear-how-seriously-he-objects-official-corruption/


  1. [1]Cornel West, “Pity the sad legacy of Barack Obama,” Guardian, January 9, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/09/barack-obama-legacy-presidency
  2. [2]Cornel West, “Pity the sad legacy of Barack Obama,” Guardian, January 9, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/09/barack-obama-legacy-presidency
  3. [3]Kathleen Hennessey, “Once Lauded as a Peacemaker, Obama’s Tenure Fraught with War,” Military.com, October 6, 2016, http://www.military.com/daily-news/2016/10/06/once-lauded-peacemaker-obama-tenure-fraught-war.html
  4. [4]Micah Zenko, “Scary Fact: America Dropped 26,171 Bombs in 7 Countries in 2016,” National Interest, January 6, 2017, http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/scary-fact-america-dropped-26171-bombs-7-countries-2016-18961
  5. [5]Kasia Anderson, “Pre-eminent Climate Scientist James Hansen Calls Paris Deal a ‘Fraud’; John Kerry Begs to Differ,” Truthdig, December 13, 2015, http://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/preeminent_climate_scientist_calls_paris_deal_a_fraud_-_kerry_20151213; Marty Lederman, “The constitutionally critical, last-minute correction to the Paris climate change accord,” Balkinization, December 13, 2015, http://balkin.blogspot.com/2015/12/the-last-minute-correction-to-paris.html; Arthur Neslen and Karl Mathiesen, “Paris climate pledges ‘will only delay dangerous warming by two years’,” Guardian, June 3, 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jun/03/paris-climate-pledges-will-only-delay-dangerous-warming-by-two-years; David Roberts, “No country on Earth is taking the 2 degree climate target seriously,” Vox, October 4, 2016, http://www.vox.com/2016/10/4/13118594/2-degrees-no-more-fossil-fuels; Alissa J. Rubin and Elian Peltier, “Protesters Are in Agreement as Well: Pact Is Too Weak,” New York Times, December 12, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/13/world/europe/climate-activists-gather-in-paris-to-protest-outcome-of-conference.html
  6. [6]Barack Obama, “Remarks by the President on the Economy,” White House, November 12, 2009, http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-economy-jobs-forum
  7. [7]Neil Barofsky, Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street (New York: Free Press, 2012).
  8. [8]Brad Jacobson, “Obama received $20 million from healthcare industry in 2008 campaign,” Raw Story, January 12, 2010, http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/01/12/obama-received-20-million-healthcare-industry-money-2008/; Gaius Publius [pseud.], “Obama Got $20 Million from Healthcare Industry in 2008. Was Killing Single-Payer Part of the Deal?” Naked Capitalism, February 5, 2014, http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/02/gaius-publius-obama-got-20-million-healthcare-industry-2008-killing-single-payer-part-deal.html
  9. [9]Blue Texan [pseud.], “Ed Rendell Tells Democratic Base to “Get Over It” on Rachel Maddow,” Firedoglake, September 23, 2010, http://firedoglake.com/2010/09/23/early-morning-swim-ed-rendell-tells-democratic-base-to-get-over-it-on-rachel-maddow/; Blue Texan [pseud.], “Stop Whining, Liberals!” Firedoglake, September 27, 2010, http://firedoglake.com/2010/09/27/late-night-stop-whining-liberals/; Michael Falcone, “Opposite Day On The Campaign Trail?” ABC News, September 21, 2010, http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2010/09/election-2010-opposite-day-on-the-campaign-trail/; Glenn Greenwald, “Obama’s view of liberal criticisms,” Salon, September 17, 2010, http://www.salon.com/2010/09/17/obama_139/; David Neiwert, “President Obama lashes out at his liberal critics: Choice is to ‘get things done’ or feel ‘sanctimonious’,” Crooks and Liars, December 7, 2010, http://crooksandliars.com/david-neiwert/president-obama-lashes-out-his-liber; Heather Digby Parton, “‘It’s always the hippies’ fault’: Why the left treats its idealists all wrong,” Salon, February 5, 2015, http://www.salon.com/2015/02/05/its_always_the_hippies_fault_why_the_left_treats_its_idealists_all_wrong/; Greg Sargent, “Liberal blogger directly confronts David Axelrod, accuses White House of ‘hippie punching’,” Washington Post, September 23, 2010, http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/09/liberal_blogger_directly_confr.html; Stephen Stromberg, “Joe Biden scolds progressives — and he’s right,” Washington Post, September 16, 2010, http://voices.washingtonpost.com/postpartisan/2010/09/joe_biden_scolds_progressives.html; Sam Youngman, “White House unloads anger over criticism from ‘professional left’,” Hill, August 10, 2010, http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/113431-white-house-unloads-on-professional-left
  10. [10]David Benfell, “Barack Obama’s legacy,” Irregular Bullshit, January 10, 2017, https://disunitedstates.com/2017/01/10/barack-obamas-legacy-daily-bullshit-january-9-10-2017-early/
  11. [11]Jim Geraghty, “When Is Obama Going to Speak Up?” National Review, February 18, 2020, https://www.nationalreview.com/the-morning-jolt/when-is-obama-going-to-speak-up/
  12. [12]Jim Geraghty, “When Is Obama Going to Speak Up?” National Review, February 18, 2020, https://www.nationalreview.com/the-morning-jolt/when-is-obama-going-to-speak-up/
  13. [13]Justine Coleman, “Obama privately said he would speak up to stop Sanders: report,” Hill, November 26, 2019, https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/472090-obama-privately-said-he-would-speak-up-to-stop-sanders-report; Ryan Lizza, “Waiting for Obama,” Politico, November 26, 2019, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2019/11/26/barack-obama-2020-democrats-candidates-biden-073025
  14. [14]David Benfell, “The whiteness of impeachment,” Not Housebroken, December 15, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/15/the-whiteness-of-impeachment/; Democracy Now, “Law Professor: Trump Could Also Have Been Impeached for War Crimes, Assassinations and Corruption,” January 24, 2020, https://www.democracynow.org/2020/1/24/donald_trump_senate_impeachment_trial
  15. [15]David Benfell, “It’s still a smoke-filled room,” Not Housebroken, December 6, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/06/its-still-a-smoke-filled-room/; David Benfell, “How the neoliberal (usually known as Democratic) party may well lose in 2020,” Not Housebroken, December 7, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/07/how-the-neoliberal-usually-known-as-democratic-party-may-well-lose-in-2020/; David Benfell, “The whiteness of impeachment,” Not Housebroken, December 15, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/15/the-whiteness-of-impeachment/; David Benfell, “The least violent solution,” Not Housebroken, December 16, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/16/the-least-violent-solution/; David Benfell, “The sham (pick your partisan flavor) is on,” Not Housebroken, December 19, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/19/the-sham-pick-your-partisan-flavor-is-on/; David Benfell, “The asterisk,” Not Housebroken, December 21, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/21/the-asterisk/
  16. [16]David Benfell, “One farce down, one to go,” Irregular Bullshit, February 5, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/02/05/one-farce-down-one-to-go/
  17. [17]Donna Brazile, “Inside Hillary Clinton’s Secret Takeover of the DNC,” Politico, November 2, 2017, https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/11/02/clinton-brazile-hacks-2016-215774
  18. [18]David Benfell, “Neoliberal hubris and the Iowa fiasco,” Not Housebroken, February 5, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/02/05/neoliberal-hubris-and-the-iowa-fiasco/
  19. [19]David Benfell, “The whiteness of impeachment,” Not Housebroken, December 15, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/15/the-whiteness-of-impeachment/; Democracy Now, “Law Professor: Trump Could Also Have Been Impeached for War Crimes, Assassinations and Corruption,” January 24, 2020, https://www.democracynow.org/2020/1/24/donald_trump_senate_impeachment_trial
  20. [20]Philip Bump, “Trump is making it very clear how seriously he objects to official corruption,” Washington Post, February 18, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/02/18/trump-is-making-it-very-clear-how-seriously-he-objects-official-corruption/; Seung Min Kim, “These Republicans said they hope Trump has learned a lesson from impeachment. He said he hasn’t,” Washington Post, February 5, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/these-republicans-said-they-hope-trump-has-learned-a-lesson-from-impeachment-he-said-he-hasnt/2020/02/04/fa68c18c-478e-11ea-ab15-b5df3261b710_story.html

A billionaire likely loser

Michael Bloomberg

It might not be cold enough in Hell for a snowball, but it’s still a pretty cold day there when I’m reading Ross Douthat (if you’re being a smartass, it was 36° here in Baldwin Borough). That said, here’s Glenn Greenwald, whom I have a little more respect for:

Greenwald is right. This[1] is a very smart column.

[Michael] Bloomberg has adapted his policy views to better fit the current liberal consensus, and his views on social issues were liberal to begin with. But he has the record of a deficit and foreign policy hawk, the soul of a Wall Street centrist, and a history of racial and religious profiling and sexist misbehavior. More than any other contender, his nomination would pull the party back toward where it stood before the rise of Bernie Sanders and Black Lives Matter and #MeToo, and root liberalism once more in professional-class interests and a Washington-Wall Street mindmeld.[2]

Douthat also points to how as mayor of New York City, Bloomberg accomplished what Donald Trump can only aspire to as president and is thus, potentially, even more dangerous, concluding that his victory would amount to “[a]n exchange of Trumpian black comedy for oligarchy’s velvet fist.” Douthat does not think Bloomberg can win.[3]

I don’t believe it either. Even if Bloomberg were to win the Democratic nomination, he would be an elitist—a New York City mayor, for crying out loud—to authoritarian populists, would fail to advance a social conservative agenda, and would be a billionaire to the Left. He would rely on votes from a mythical “center,” but truth be told, on some level, pretty much everyone knows, on some level, that it was Wall Street that precipitated the 2007-2008 financial crisis. And everyone knows, on some level, that the bankers got away with fraud and are now even richer than before. Then there’s Charles Blow:

One of the lessons I’ve taken from talking with Blacks since arriving here in Pittsburgh is that to live with the incredible racism here[4] and yet still to function requires one of two responses: Either, as I think most Blacks do, one adopts a suspension of disbelief, or as some Blacks do, one buys into “respectability.” Bloomberg is relying on the latter, which Bill Cosby made himself the face of.[5] Cosby has since been convicted of sexual assault and labeled a “sexually violent predator” by a judge, requiring him to register as a sex offender for life.[6] I’m pretty sure that only gets you so far.

Ross Douthat, “The Bloomberg Temptation,” New York Times, February 15, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/15/opinion/bloomberg-trump-2020.html


  1. [1]Ross Douthat, “The Bloomberg Temptation,” New York Times, February 15, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/15/opinion/bloomberg-trump-2020.html
  2. [2]Ross Douthat, “The Bloomberg Temptation,” New York Times, February 15, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/15/opinion/bloomberg-trump-2020.html
  3. [3]Ross Douthat, “The Bloomberg Temptation,” New York Times, February 15, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/15/opinion/bloomberg-trump-2020.html
  4. [4]Colin P. Clarke, “One Year After Tree of Life, We Still Aren’t Talking Enough About Violent White Supremacy,” Rand, October 27, 2019, https://www.rand.org/blog/2019/10/one-year-after-tree-of-life-we-still-arent-talking.html; Eric Heyl, “Neo-Nazi, White Supremacist, Islamic Hate Groups Active In Pittsburgh,” Patch, August 16, 2017, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/pittsburgh/neo-nazi-white-supremacist-islamic-hate-groups-active-pittsburgh; Moriah Ella Mason, “Pittsburgh Doesn’t Need More Guns — We Need Less White Supremacy,” Forward, October 29, 2018, https://forward.com/scribe/413104/pittsburgh-doesnt-need-more-guns-we-need-less-white-supremacy/; Charles Thompson, “Pennsylvania housed 36 active hate groups last year, ranking 8th in the country: report,” Penn Live, February 21, 2019, https://www.pennlive.com/news/2019/02/southern-poverty-law-center-counts-36-active-hate-groups-in-pennsylvania-in-2018.html
  5. [5]Associated Press, “Cosby berates blacks for abuse, failure as parents,” NBC News, July 2, 2004, http://www.nbcnews.com/id/5345290/ns/us_news-life/t/cosby-berates-blacks-abuse-failure-parents/
  6. [6]British Broadcasting Corporation, “Bill Cosby sentenced to state prison for sexual assault,” September 26, 2018, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-45644374; Manuel Roig-Franzia, “Bill Cosby sentenced to 3 to 10 years in state prison,” Washington Post, September 25, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/bill-cosby-sentenced-to-3-to-10-years-in-state-prison/2018/09/25/9aa620aa-c00d-11e8-90c9-23f963eea204_story.html

A lack of journalistic imagination

Bernie Sanders

I believe this[1] is likely the same Margaret Sullivan who criticized New York Times coverage of Bernie Sanders in 2016 as the paper’s public editor.[2] If I’m right, she’s back, criticizing media coverage of Sanders more broadly.[3] But to illustrate her point,

I tend to disagree with Nate Silver on methodology, because I think appallingly low response rates in survey research[4] eviscerate the rationale for this type of research, but his reply here is well taken:

In the wake of an election that Sanders just won, a McClatchy newsletter manages to cover campaign news for ten, count ’em, ten whole paragraphs before Sanders’ name even appears.[5]

Sullivan notes that Sanders does not bother to massage journalists’ egos and I would hope we can all agree that some self-reflection may be long overdue when framing may be determined in whole or in part by whether a candidate congratulates reporters on their birthdays.[6] Here’s Jon Allsop at the Columbia Journalism Review who, having noted numerous complaints from Sanders and his supporters and a number of specific possible causes,[7] concludes,

In a broader sense, such parts of the media often have a hard time conceiving of possible worlds beyond the status quo. Inevitably, that failure of imagination has limited our coverage of [Bernie] Sanders. That’s not to say Sanders shouldn’t face scrutiny—his agenda is highly ambitious, and we should ask sharp questions about its political viability as well as its logistics. But those aren’t the questions we’re asking; not consistently, at least. Instead, when he toured the Sunday shows this past weekend, Sanders faced questions about remarks he made 50 years ago, competency concerns raised by the mess in Iowa (for which he was not responsible), his hostility toward billionaires (They’re People, Too! Chuck Todd said), and the likelihood of Trump weaponizing the toxicity of “socialism” to harm him. (This is a fair point, but in making it incessantly, we risk wielding the weapon on Trump’s behalf.) Too often, we channel a world in which the status quo is neutral; where action always costs money but inaction does not.

Do we ask other politicians to justify capitalism every time we interview them? Do we ask how much not doing Medicare for All or the Green New Deal would cost as often as we ask the inverse? Again, this isn’t about advocacy; it’s about recognizing that, at present, we tend to talk about such ideas, and the politicians who espouse them, in a one-sided way. “Imagination” might not seem a desirable trait to fact-based journalists, but without it, our coverage is constrained by the deadweight of conventional wisdom, which is a bias in itself. It’ll take imagination—more than we’re currently showing—to adequately frame, and interrogate, the choice facing America this year.[8]

However we attribute the causes, mainstream journalism has been downplaying Sanders’ unconventional candidacy, betraying a bias that Allsop sees in its treatment of his unconventional proposals.[9] It should go without saying that if you’re going to call yourself “objective” and “unbiased,” you need to be doing better than this.

Jon Allsop, “Coverage of Bernie Sanders suffers from a lack of imagination,” Columbia Journalism Review, February 11, 2020, https://www.cjr.org/the_media_today/bernie_sanders_media_new_hampshire.php

Alex Shephard, “Bernie Sanders Has an MSNBC Problem,” New Republic, February 12, 2020, https://newrepublic.com/article/156545/bernie-sanders-msnbc-problem

Margaret Sullivan, “The media keep falling in love — with anybody but Bernie Sanders,” Washington Post, February 12, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/the-media-keep-falling-in-love–with-anybody-but-bernie-sanders/2020/02/12/0f55cc12-4d9c-11ea-bf44-f5043eb3918a_story.html


Iowa

On Wednesday, the [Iowa Democratic Party] said it had agreed to conduct the recanvass of certain precincts as requested by the [Bernie] Sanders and [Pete] Buttigieg campaigns.

The party said the recanvass, which is a less-involved check of the results than a formal recount, will start Sunday and take about two days.[10]

Also, the state party’s chairman, Troy Price, will resign.[11]

John McCormick, “Iowa Democratic Party Chairman to Resign Position After Caucus Debacle,” Wall Street Journal, February 12, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/iowa-democratic-party-chairman-resigns-position-after-caucus-debacle-11581548239


  1. [1]Margaret Sullivan, “The media keep falling in love — with anybody but Bernie Sanders,” Washington Post, February 12, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/the-media-keep-falling-in-love–with-anybody-but-bernie-sanders/2020/02/12/0f55cc12-4d9c-11ea-bf44-f5043eb3918a_story.html
  2. [2]Margaret Sullivan, “Has The Times Dismissed Bernie Sanders?” New York Times, September 9, 2015, http://publiceditor.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/09/09/has-the-times-dismissed-bernie-sanders/
  3. [3]Margaret Sullivan, “The media keep falling in love — with anybody but Bernie Sanders,” Washington Post, February 12, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/the-media-keep-falling-in-love–with-anybody-but-bernie-sanders/2020/02/12/0f55cc12-4d9c-11ea-bf44-f5043eb3918a_story.html
  4. [4]Courtney Kennedy and Hannah Hartig, “Response rates in telephone surveys have resumed their decline,” Pew Research Center, February 27, 2019, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/02/27/response-rates-in-telephone-surveys-have-resumed-their-decline/
  5. [5]Emily Cadei to Impact2020 list, “On to Nevada, and South Carolina, and California, and Florida,” February 12, 2020, https://m1.news.mcclatchydc.com/nl/jsp/m.jsp?c=%40HaihNrJgXP9DKJOMklZgSPecJyZURC%2FWyrMcimAku28%3D&ac_cid=DM136835&ac_bid=2041820311
  6. [6]Margaret Sullivan, “The media keep falling in love — with anybody but Bernie Sanders,” Washington Post, February 12, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/the-media-keep-falling-in-love–with-anybody-but-bernie-sanders/2020/02/12/0f55cc12-4d9c-11ea-bf44-f5043eb3918a_story.html
  7. [7]Jon Allsop, “Coverage of Bernie Sanders suffers from a lack of imagination,” Columbia Journalism Review, February 11, 2020, https://www.cjr.org/the_media_today/bernie_sanders_media_new_hampshire.php
  8. [8]Jon Allsop, “Coverage of Bernie Sanders suffers from a lack of imagination,” Columbia Journalism Review, February 11, 2020, https://www.cjr.org/the_media_today/bernie_sanders_media_new_hampshire.php
  9. [9]Jon Allsop, “Coverage of Bernie Sanders suffers from a lack of imagination,” Columbia Journalism Review, February 11, 2020, https://www.cjr.org/the_media_today/bernie_sanders_media_new_hampshire.php
  10. [10]John McCormick, “Iowa Democratic Party Chairman to Resign Position After Caucus Debacle,” Wall Street Journal, February 12, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/iowa-democratic-party-chairman-resigns-position-after-caucus-debacle-11581548239
  11. [11]John McCormick, “Iowa Democratic Party Chairman to Resign Position After Caucus Debacle,” Wall Street Journal, February 12, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/iowa-democratic-party-chairman-resigns-position-after-caucus-debacle-11581548239

What’s this? Results? Actual results?

New Hampshire

Bernie Sanders won, as expected. Elizabeth Warren can probably be counted out at this point. Joe Biden remains in the race only because he’s widely expected to do better in states with significant minority populations (Nevada and South Carolina, and not Iowa or New Hampshire) but he’s in real trouble. Pete Buttigieg placed a close second and Amy Klobuchar had a respectable showing.[1] The rest probably have no business even still being in the race, and yes, that includes the billionaires Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer. (Andrew Yang and Michael Bennet have now dropped out.[2])

At this point, I’m expecting the race to come down to Sanders versus Buttigieg, but the latter has real problems with Black voters based on his record as mayor of South Bend,[3] and while Sanders probably deserves to do better outside the straight while male demographic than he does, I’m seeing some real rumblings of discontent.

This isn’t just that the race has shed people of color and women, though it has.[4] It’s that Sanders has drawn support from out-and-out racists and sexists, and that he failed to recognize, let alone respond to, sexism in his 2016 campaign.[5] There is a “Never Bernie” faction out there that isn’t neoliberal; I don’t know how it will translate electorally.

Hence my hedges in the first paragraph: There are wild cards still in play. And yeah, I’m still really afraid Donald Trump wins in November.

Aaron Blake, “Winners and losers from the New Hampshire primary,” Washington Post, February 11, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/02/11/takeaways-new-hampshire-primary/


  1. [1]Aaron Blake, “Winners and losers from the New Hampshire primary,” Washington Post, February 11, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/02/11/takeaways-new-hampshire-primary/
  2. [2]Aaron Blake, “Winners and losers from the New Hampshire primary,” Washington Post, February 11, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/02/11/takeaways-new-hampshire-primary/
  3. [3]Matt Pearce, “Black residents of South Bend unload on Mayor Pete Buttigieg,” Los Angeles Times, June 23, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-2020-pete-buttigieg-mayor-police-shooting-black-voters-20190624-story.html
  4. [4]Aaron Blake, “Winners and losers from the New Hampshire primary,” Washington Post, February 11, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/02/11/takeaways-new-hampshire-primary/
  5. [5]David Benfell, “Bernie Sanders should not have endorsed Cenk Uygur in the first place,” Not Housebroken, December 14, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/14/bernie-sanders-should-not-have-endorsed-cenk-uygur-in-the-first-place/; David Benfell, “All of us,” Not Housebroken, January 26, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/01/26/all-of-us/

Larger lessons

Iowa

Much of what’s in the New York Times article[1] had been previously reported,[2] but there is a little more detail.

The widespread lack of faith in the Iowa results has shaken many Americans’ confidence in their electoral system. Mr. Trump has reveled in the meltdown. Democrats have proposed abolishing caucuses and ending Iowa’s time at the front of the presidential nominating calendar.

Even as party officials scramble to contain the fallout, the full extent of the problems in Iowa is still not known.[3]

The Times doesn’t say so, but folks who work for a living and fans of Scott Adams’ Dilbert cartoon will recognize the pattern. This is meritocracy at its finest.[4] Naturally, we will not be absorbing the larger lessons even in the primary contest, let alone in our system of social organization at large.

Reid J. Epstein et al., “How the Iowa Caucuses Became an Epic Fiasco for Democrats,” New York Times, February 9, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/09/us/politics/iowa-democratic-caucuses.html


Veganism

I’m not seeing the Vitamin B-12 line here:

An issue is of ethical concern when there is a choice: Do we have alternatives?

On May 5, I will have been vegan for 12 years, despite not liking vegetables. In 2008, I went cold turkey from a “meat and potatoes” diet in which I considered green the color of decay.

Going vegan remains the single most effective action an individual can take to counter the climate crisis and the other forms of environmental catastrophe humans wreak upon the earth. It does so not only in terms of practical action but also in a recognition that this planet, the only planet we have, and the life on it do not exist for our exploitation. The latter rebuts a presumption that leads to pervasive abuse not only of our fellow human beings, but of the environment and of other species.[5]

I don’t care who you are. You have a choice. You need to be doing the right thing for yourself, for your fellow human and non-human animals, and for the environment.


  1. [1]Reid J. Epstein et al., “How the Iowa Caucuses Became an Epic Fiasco for Democrats,” New York Times, February 9, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/09/us/politics/iowa-democratic-caucuses.html
  2. [2]Nate Cohn, “New Doubts From Iowa Caucuses: How ‘Satellite’ Votes Are Being Measured,” New York Times, February 6, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/06/upshot/iowa-caucus-satellite-votes.html; Nate Cohn et al., “Iowa Caucus Results Riddled With Errors and Inconsistencies,” New York Times, February 6, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/06/upshot/iowa-caucuses-errors-results.html
  3. [3]Reid J. Epstein et al., “How the Iowa Caucuses Became an Epic Fiasco for Democrats,” New York Times, February 9, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/09/us/politics/iowa-democratic-caucuses.html
  4. [4]David Benfell, “Bipartisan ‘meritocracy’ and ‘vote Blue no matter who,’” Not Housebroken, February 6, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/02/06/bipartisan-meritocracy-and-vote-blue-no-matter-who/
  5. [5]Steven Best and Anthony J. Nocella, II, eds., Terrorists or Freedom fighters? (New York: Lantern, 2004); Greta Gaard, “Vegetarian Ecofeminism: A Review Essay,” Frontiers 23, no. 3 (2002): 117-146.

An Iowa-sized yawn

Iowa

Apparently, this (figure 1) is final for state delegate equivalents. The Associated Press has apparently not provided final results for the popular vote; that page still indicates results for one precinct shy of 100 percent.[1]
FireShot Capture 072 - Election Results - U.S. ELECTIONS - elections.ap.org
Fig. 1. Screenshot of Associated Press Iowa Caucuses state delegate equivalent result, 8:46 pm.[2]

If there are no requests to recanvass or recount, Buttigieg would be the winner of the Iowa caucuses. Though Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir told CNN Sunday night that the Sanders campaign plans to ask for a partial recanvass of the results on Monday.

“You can expect us to be asking the Iowa Democratic party for a recanvass of the discrepancies that we have identified and found tor them. We’ll be searching for and identifying even more. It’s been handled incompetently from our perspective, and we’ll be asking them to take a look at some of these obvious discrepancies that have affected our count and I think after it is all said and done, it should be the case that we have the same number of national delegates as Pete Buttigieg,” Shakir said.

According to the Iowa Democratic Party, he will claim 14 delegates. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders will receive 12, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren will get eight, former Vice President Joe Biden will receive six, and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar will get one.[3]

It doesn’t seem like this is getting a lot of coverage. I think probably everyone holds these results in low esteem.

There is a new blog post, written before the results above, entitled, “The Democrats don’t need ‘election interference’.”

Jennifer Agiesta et al., “Buttigieg gets the most delegates and Sanders comes in second, Iowa Democratic Party says,” CNN, February 9, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/09/politics/iowa-democratic-party-precincts-review/index.html


  1. [1]Associated Press, “Iowa Elections Results,” February 9, 2020, https://elections.ap.org/dailykos/results/2020-02-03/state/IA/race/P/raceid/17278
  2. [2]Associated Press, “Iowa Elections Results,” February 9, 2020, https://elections.ap.org/dailykos/results/2020-02-03/state/IA/race/P/raceid/17275
  3. [3]Jennifer Agiesta et al., “Buttigieg gets the most delegates and Sanders comes in second, Iowa Democratic Party says,” CNN, February 9, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/09/politics/iowa-democratic-party-precincts-review/index.html

Monday maybe?

Iowa

So does this mean we’ll actually have final results Monday?

“The [Iowa Democratic Party] has initiated the process of review of the requested precincts, and any corrections will be released before Monday at 12pm CST in a single update – reported prior to the allocation of national delegates,” an unsigned statement from the state party read.[1]

Zach Montellaro, “Iowa Democratic Party reviewing results from 95 precincts,” Politico, February 8, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/02/08/iowa-democratic-party-reviewing-results-112532


Gig economy

U.S. District Judge Dolly M. Gee said during a hearing in Los Angeles that it was “a steep hill to climb” for Uber and Postmates to argue that the statute [California’s AB 5] irrationally targets the app-based companies on the grounds that many workers in other industries were exempt from it.

“I can’t second guess the legislature unless you show me an example of an exemption that absolutely doesn’t make sense,” Gee said.[2]

Thud.

Joel Rosenblatt and Edvard Pettersson, “Uber Falters in First Legal Attack on California Gig Worker Law,” Bloomberg, February 7, 2020, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-02-07/uber-poised-to-lose-bid-to-block-california-gig-worker-law


  1. [1]Zach Montellaro, “Iowa Democratic Party reviewing results from 95 precincts,” Politico, February 8, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/02/08/iowa-democratic-party-reviewing-results-112532
  2. [2]Joel Rosenblatt and Edvard Pettersson, “Uber Falters in First Legal Attack on California Gig Worker Law,” Bloomberg, February 7, 2020, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-02-07/uber-poised-to-lose-bid-to-block-california-gig-worker-law

Looking at South Carolina

Iowa

Sometimes, even on Twitter, somebody comes along and really hits the nail on the head:

I actually almost forgot to look, but no, there is no further progress to report in Iowa,[1] which leaves us with not so much of a picture of who’s winning as it does who’s losing.

I’m seeing a lot of punditry about New Hampshire now but for me, the real question is South Carolina, allegedly Joe Biden’s “firewall.” I don’t know who those voters will ultimately turn out for, but I’m pretty sure it won’t be Pete Buttigieg.

Longer term, I’m wondering if this race really devolves into Bernie Sanders versus anybody-but-Bernie. It calls to mind the Republican dilemma in 2016, with important differences: Republicans were complacent about Donald Trump; when #NeverTrump, a largely neoconservative project, finally arose, it was much too little, much too late. Democrats are anything but complacent; Sanders already has the neoliberals in a panic.

And for me, here in Pittsburgh, it looks tough. I see more enthusiasm for Trump than anyone else. In itself, that doesn’t say much: The Republican field consists of Trump; Democrats have yet to settle on a single candidate and it isn’t yet clear who that is.

The dynamic comes down to this: If, as some predict, Sanders does indeed win the nomination, will the desperation to be rid of Trump outweigh neoliberal and so-called “moderate” loathing for Sanders? Would neoliberals stay home? Would they, as I’m inclined to think, actually vote for Trump because he advances at least some of their project?

Conversely, say Buttigieg wins the nomination. Will the desperation to be rid of Trump be sufficient to bring Sanders supporters to the polls? There’s a lot of suspicion of the Democratic National Committee right now. #BernieOrBust might alienate many so-called “moderates,” but #VoteBlueNoMatterWho is not looking like a winner either.

If I were a betting man, my money would be on Trump winning re-election.


  1. [1]Associated Press, “Iowa Elections Results,” February 7, 2020, https://elections.ap.org/dailykos/results/2020-02-03/state/IA/race/P/raceid/17275; Associated Press, “Iowa Elections Results,” February 7, 2020, https://elections.ap.org/dailykos/results/2020-02-03/state/IA/race/P/raceid/17278

Keep it simple, Iowa

Iowa

It appears I went to bed just a little too early. The Clintonista New York Times had already reported discrepancies in the Iowa count.[1]

They’ve found more, enough, potentially, to tip the race in state delegate equivalents from Pete Buttigieg to Bernie Sanders. It appears the applicable rule is poorly worded and ambiguous. “[W]ith so many other irregularities in the results, one wonders whether the Iowa caucuses will have a definitive winner at all.”[2]

The Times is still not alleging intentional bias. The trouble lies in the preponderance of these irregularities and the simple fact that this shouldn’t be nearly so hard as the Democrats have made it.

One of the other things I remember from my programming days is the acronym KISS: “Keep It Simple, Stupid.” Failing that simple edict, the Democrats invite suspicion. And my Twitter feed is full of just that.

Nate Cohn, “New Doubts From Iowa Caucuses: How ‘Satellite’ Votes Are Being Measured,” New York Times, February 6, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/06/upshot/iowa-caucus-satellite-votes.html


  1. [1]Nate Cohn et al., “Iowa Caucus Results Riddled With Errors and Inconsistencies,” New York Times, February 6, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/06/upshot/iowa-caucuses-errors-results.html
  2. [2]Nate Cohn, “New Doubts From Iowa Caucuses: How ‘Satellite’ Votes Are Being Measured,” New York Times, February 6, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/06/upshot/iowa-caucus-satellite-votes.html