Thursday, March 31, 2016

Donald Trump Again Shows He's the Dream Candidate

For Democrats. I argued this  first in July of 2015.

A lot of folks know that now, but I was one of the very first. Scott Adams seems to be the only other one who stood up and took notice of Trump early. Not so much as a Trump Democrat but as a 'master persuader.'

This has proven prophetic eight months. Yes, I'm calling myself-and sort of Scott Adams-prophetic.

But with abortion now, Trump has really kicked a hornet's nest.

I mean it's' not as if he hasn't galvanized Latinos enough to vote against him, now he's given women a huge reason to vote against him.

I also appreciate what Trump stepped in here: it's the quicksand that the prolife movement has tried to stay away from: do you punish women who have abortions? After all, if you break the law isn't it expected that you'd be punished?

The prolife answer that this is about redemption, that you only punish the doctors not the women, is smart politically, though it remains logically incoherent. If you believe this is murder why shouldn't people who 'kill their own babies' go to jail?

I mean a woman were to snuff the life out of her six month old, no one would deny that she should is a murderer who should face life in prison if not the death penalty.

Yet prolifers argue that there is literally no moral difference between having an abortion and killing a six month old baby. This disconnect is something that they usually keep under wraps. Thanks to Trump's bullhorn, they too now have to look for cover.

This is not just a huge embarrassment for the Republican party, but also specifically the prolife position. No wonder they are furiously trying to distance themselves from him.

Meanwhile for more proof of why Trump is the dream candidate-for Democrats-look at his favorables. He is literally unfavorable with every demographic, even white men.

Yet, a NY Times article a few weeks ago worried about how Hillary will do with white men. She's a Democrat and the potentially first female POTUS-how would you think she'd do? But if Trump trails among even white mean, this makes such qualms even more laughable.

Reason #297 Why Bernie Won't Win Over Many Super Delegates

He won't raise money for other Democrats. He's pretty much indifferent to the rest of what he says is his party-nod, nod, wink, wink.

Yesterday I pointed out that, say what you want about Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, at least she raises a lot of money for the Democratic party.

Yesterday on Rachel we saw the difference between Hillary and Bernie yet again.

"For example, Clinton, who has helped Democratic campaign committees and state parties raise money for the 2016 elections, twice emphasized how important she believes it is to help congressional Democrats. Sanders, an independent, is taking a wait-and-see approach.
MADDOW: I have to ask, though, if you have thought about whether or not you will, at some point, turn your fundraising ability toward helping the Democratic Party more broadly, to helping their campaign committees for the House and the Senate and for other – for other elections?"

SANDERS: Well, right now, Rachel, as you are more than aware, our job is to – what I’m trying to do is to win the Democratic nomination. […]

MADDOW: Well, obviously your priority is the nomination, but I mean you raised Secretary Clinton there. She has been fundraising both for the nomination and for the Democratic Party. At some point, do you think – do you foresee a time during this campaign when you’ll start doing that?

SANDERS: Well, we’ll see. And, I mean right now, again, our focus is on winning the nomination.
This is a pretty important difference, which I suspect some party officials – i.e., superdelegates – noticed.

Again, forget about 'momentum.' The super delegates aren't going to Bernie. Just look at who's raising money for the party and who is all about himself. 

As Rachel later said, Bernie also seemed a little peevish with all the coverage being 'wasted' on Trump's comment about a punishment for women who receive abortions. He felt it was a distraction for his message of the big banks and income inequality. Kind of again shows why Planned Parenthood endorsed Hillary. 

Trump Wants a Punishment for Women Who Have Abortions

He stated this position at yesterday's town hall with Chris Matthews. It was interesting. As Matthews said, if you really believe abortion is murder, then don't you believe they should be punished?

Trump mentioned they have to get something-maybe a fine-and Matthews did a great job of boxing him in: 'A fine?! For murder?'

Trump tried to turn the table on Matthews by pointing out that he himself is a Catholic-and of course the Catholic Church says abortion is wrong. But Matthews refused to bite, saying that's religion but we're taking about the law here.

"Donald Trump swiftly reversed his statement that women should be punished for abortions after his initial comments unleashed a storm of criticism from both anti-abortion and pro-abortion rights groups."

“This issue is unclear and should be put back into the states for determination,” the Republican front-runner said in a written statement released by his campaign."

"But as criticism from outside groups and his political opponents continued unabated, the Trump campaign issued another missive that aligned the candidate more clearly with the traditional anti-abortion platform. In that second statement he suggested that if abortions were illegal the doctor would be held responsible, not the woman — but said that he hasn’t changed his position."

“If Congress were to pass legislation making abortion illegal and the federal courts upheld this legislation, or any state were permitted to ban abortion under state and federal law, the doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be held legally responsible, not the woman,” the statement read. “The woman is a victim in this case as is the life in her womb. My position has not changed — like Ronald Reagan, I am pro-life with exceptions.”

Read more:

I do think, though, that this opens up an uncomfortable fissure in the prolife position. If it's against the law how can there not be penalties? The answer is that the prolifers have focused on doctors rather than the females who get the operation.

In other words, they hit supply not demand.

"The anti-abortion movement in recent decades has tried to avoid the perception that it is “punishing” women for having abortions. Instead, it has focused on penalties for the physicians who provide them, such as imposing medical or legal restrictions on their practice. In some rare situations, women have faced charges associated with abortions they have attempted on their own."

Read more:

This is interesting as previously, Trump has taken what looked like a more moderate position than his GOP rivals. Marco Rubio and John Kasich have very extreme views where they would ban abortion even in the case of rape and incest.

But in some ways this consensus prolife position begs the question. If you believe abortion is murder, how do you absolve the woman of any guilt? It's clearly a political calculation to make the position seem less monstrous.

"John Kasich, who said he would “absolutely not” punish women for abortions, accurately predicted Trump would scale back his comments. “I think probably Donald Trump will figure out a way to say that he didn’t say it or he was misquoted or whatever, but I don’t think so,” the Ohio governor told MSNBC. "I don’t think that’s an appropriate response, and it’s a difficult enough situation then to try to punish somebody.”

"Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign called the gaffe just another example of Trump misstepping. “Why? Because he’s a charlatan,” Cruz campaign chairman Chad Sweet said on CNN. “This is a man who for the vast majority of his life didn’t just embrace abortion. He embraced extreme forms of abortion all the way to partial-birth abortion.”

Read more:

Ted Cruz's criticism is interesting as he still doesn't want to be forced to hit Trump from the Left on abortion. So he suggests that Trump is just a charlatan on the issue-is really still prochoice.

And while Cruz doesn't call for women to be punished, he does want the death penalty for doctors who perform abortions. Which is pretty damn chilling in itself.

Again, what Trump has done is clumsily opened up a larger can of worms. The GOP usually doesn't like to discuss abortion too much in national politics-more at the state level. This embarrassment is going to keep this discussion front and center for perhaps a long time to come.

It may well be that Cruz is right-because Trump is a novice to the prolife movement he doesn't understand the way the movement handles politics. So again Trump kind of highlights what GOP policy really is.

The beauty is that once again, Trump uses a bullhorn for something the party prefers to use a dog whistle for.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

President Obama Endorses Debbie Wasserman-Schutlz

Holy wow. I have to say I love this move on so many levels but first and foremost because it outrages the Berners who hate her.

"If there’s one thing that supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton agree on, it’s this: When it comes to her work as chair of the Democratic National Committee, a position she’s held since 2011, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz is bad and should feel bad. Consensus holds that she’s either in the tank for Clinton, incompetent — or both."

I disagree. Most Democrats don't hate Ms. Wasserman-Schultz. Just the conspiratorial Berners who interpret everything in terms of being a corporate shill in the tank for Hillary. Anyone who says anything a Berner doesn't like is a corporate shill for Hillary.

But for a Berner like Elias Isquith this point is lost. He thinks most Democrats feel as he does. How does he know, did he take a poll? A lot of the Bernie folks have just inferred that the reason there were Saturday night debates was to hide them from the world so everyone wouldn't run out and vote for Bernie Sanders.

What was interesting is that when the GOP started having Saturday night debates no one went into wild eyed conspiracy theories then. In fact, the Saturday night debates were nothing to do with trying to hide them but a function of the fact that networks prefer not to have weekday debates.

"And when it comes to her work as a member of Congress, where she’s lately distinguished herself as a strong defender of the generally odious payday loan industry, her record is even worse. She’s against pot decriminalization, against an “open” Internet, against Edward Snowden, against refusing donations from corporate lobbyists, and skeptical (at the least) of President Obama’s recent nuclear agreement with Iran."

You know what this tells me then? Obama is not an ideologue like the Berners. He doesn't engage in litmus tests. Not everything is a test of who the True Progressive is.

We can as liberal Democrats have differences on certain policies. We don't have to agree 100 percent of the time, just much of the time. It's how a healthy party works-unlike the GOP where Tea Party ideologues have destroyed the party.

If Obama can get past her not supporting the Iran deal that is so important for his legacy, all the more power to him. That's totally good on Obama as I see it. As for Wasserman-Schutlz she is Jewish and a number of Jewish Democrats feel very strongly about Israel's security.

Don't get me wrong, I'm with Obama here. I think the Iran Deal-that Hillary and the President worked very hard on-is a great accomplishment. But this doesn't in my mind drum DWS and other Jewish Democrats out of the party. Not that all Jewish Dems opposed the deal to be sure.

This is the way a functioning party works. The GOP always called itself a big tent which was ironic as they are the party of purism and Holy Wars. But the Dems have always been liberal but pragmatic.

If you want what to see what a pragmatic Dem looks like in action, I'd recommend starting with former Massachusetts Congressman, Barney Frank.

Frank voted against the Iraq War but this was never a litmus test which means that he couldn't endorse Hillary in 2016 because she was mistaken on that issue in 2002. Unfortunately she believed W's lies. But she has apologized. While Obama was critical of her vote in 2008 he still afterwards trusted her judgement enough to have her as his Secretary of State.

Frank also supported John Kerry in 2004 despite the fact that Kerry was against gay marriage in the campaign. Frank even looking back doesn't castigate him but actually says that 'He was right to take that position then as the time wasn't ripe for it yet.'

I'm just saying this is how a functional party works, not as some purist Church where people are always been drummed out over various apostasies.

So Squith is besides himself trying to figure out why Obama would endorse the Devil Woman. Here is what he comes up with:

"So, there are a few possible explanations, here. They’re not mutually exclusive. (And, since this is high-level politics we’re talking about, they’re all rather grubby.)"

"One explanation is that the president did not feel like he could not endorse Wasserman Schultz without, implicitly, admitting that when he was wrong to appoint her as DNC chair in the first place. It would be an admission of error, which people are generally loath to do; but in the eyes of many politicos, it would also be a sign of disloyalty. All politicians are fair-weather friends, of course. But most try not to be so obvious."

"Another, somewhat related explanation: Obama knows that Wasserman Schultz is a superstar when it comes to fundraising — indeed, this has much to do with why she’s earned herself a left-wing challenger — and, with 2016 in mind, he wants to keep her, and her financial resources, in the game. Obama’s made clear that he sees a Democratic victory in 2016 as essential to his legacy; he may be doing whatever it takes to win."

"Yet one more answer? Obama is, at heart, a crypto-conservative plutocratic stooge, and he decided to endorse Wasserman Schultz simply because he agrees with her on the issues and thinks she’s good at her job. To put it lightly, this would not be my favored explanation. But I suspect some of this article’s commenters will beg to differ."

So Schutlz is a bad person for raising money for the Democratic party in order to ensure victory while Bernie is a Saint for not raising a cent for the party. He says he's leading a revolution and yet is not interested in even getting a Democratic majority in Congress if that means sullying himself with raising money for the party.

The biggest laugh at all is that Bernie thinks that he can get the superdelegates to support him when she has more pledged delegates. Why would any actual Democrat want this man anywhere close to leading our party?

Hillary Clinton Should no Longer Mention Bernie Sanders' Name

Here is one time I have to agree with Morning Joe. After playing an a new Hillary ad for NY this morning this was his response:

'That is a great ad. She should never mention Bernie Sanders' name again. I know he mentions her but she should just be like 'Whatever, this a race to defeat Donald Trump.'

I'm not quoting verbatim but paraphrasing, but this is basically what he said. He did say she shouldn't mention Bernie's name and he's dead right. 

Then Huffington Post's Sam Stein predictably said it's not time to ignore Bernie totally just yet. Uh, yes it is. Sam. I know you guys at Huff Po have this illusion that Bernie still has any meaningful path to victory but most actual Democrats are tired of the very name, Bernie Sanders. 

Micah also played the silly game that she can't ignore Bernie Sanders. Wrong. That was true in January, February, and March. But in March she put him away. It's time to pivot. For two good reasons that Morning Joe suggested:

1. It's smart politically to make this about Hillary-Trump. This will tire Democrats on the whole Hillary-Bernie meme. 

2. It's actually happening. Many Dems are sick of Bernie. Enough playing around. Let's get to the main event. 

So I agree she should use his name sparingly if at all. I think Bill Palmer at DailyNewsBin speaks for many Dems:

"I’ve just about had it with this democratic primary race. Bernie Sanders has gone off the rails in an increasingly foolish attempt at catching up, which is costing him the support and respect of an increasing number of democrats and liberals. Hillary Clinton has been forced to just sort of allow him to punch himself out, as there’s not a whole lot she can do until he’s out of the way. Meanwhile Donald Trump’s campaign manager was arrested today for allegedly assaulting a woman, a horrifyingly timely reminder of just how scary the true enemy is in this race. And I’m ready to move on to that fight. But I’m not allowed to."

"They’re not typical of his overall base, but the worst of the Bernie Sanders supporters are maddening. They run around spreading hideous coordinated lies about the publications and journalists who don’t kiss their candidate’s ass. They harass superdelegates. They harass respected liberal groups who haven’t endorsed their candidate. They harass Elizabeth Warren. They might be the most clinically obsessed sore losers in American political history. But they’re not the enemy. They just think they are."

"The real enemy is Donald Trump and the factions of the republican party that are aligned with him. He doesn’t just lie about people, he doesn’t just harass them, he has them beaten up. He employs top staffers who (allegedly) physically assault women. He stands behind his podium and encourages violence at his rallies. And that’s before getting to his policies, which now include everything from banning people from the country based on religion, to threatening to drop nuclear bombs indiscriminately."

I think Democrats are sick of Bernie's attacks on Hillary and the act is only going to grow thinner.

Will Bernie insist on going through till June 7? That's what he says. But she could conceivably have this wrapped up in May-as far as reaching the 2383 delegates-depending on how long it took 95% of the remaining 263 superdelegates who haven't pledged yet to pledge for her.

But whatever he does, she should keep talking about Trump not Bernie. That ad was pure gold. It was an ad for my state of NY and it showed the city and the new Twin Towers and many of the proud Muslim Americans we have in this country.

She also had footage of the Trump rally where that supporter punched the black protester. Very powerful.

So just keep on hitting Trump. And never again mention Bernie Sanders' name. Or not too often anyway.

On the Michelle Fields and Corey Lewandowski Incident

Politico notes that for Trump the 'truth doesn't seem to hurt.'

"The facts are no match for Donald Trump."

"Trump, who is already viewed “very unfavorably” by half of the country’s women, refused to criticize or discipline his campaign manager after he was charged Tuesday with battery for grabbing a female reporter."

"Rather, Trump defended him — and blamed the reporter for causing the altercation, which was captured by surveillance at Trump’s Florida estate where it occurred earlier this month, and then embellishing her story by accusing Corey Lewandowski of throwing her down."

“Did anybody see the tapes?” Trump asked the 1,000 supporters crammed into a hotel ballroom here Tuesday afternoon. “What did you think?”

“Nothing!” several people shouted.

"The video did show something. It showed Lewandowski, who called Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields “delusional” for claiming he grabbed her, doing just that. It also cut the factual foundation out from under Trump’s campaign, which repeatedly denied any wrongdoing on the night of March 8, when the incident occurred following a press conference at Trump’s resort in Jupiter, Fla."

"But in the hours between the tape’s release and Trump taking the stage here, any chance of it separating Trump from his fans vanished. As the networks played the tape on loop, the footage — much like Trump itself — became a Rorschach test, with everyone seeing what they wanted to."

Read more:

I have to say that in actually looking at the footage released yesterday it's hard to know what to make of it. She doesn't looked anywhere close to being 'knocked to the ground.'

At the time there was footage of her after the incident. She was a little surprised 'Oh my God, that is so unprofessional' but she did not sound traumatized exactly.

I do think part of why the media is beating its breast so much over this is the principle of the thing-they are protecting their own. I mean she was hardly roughed up like Dan Rather in 1968 or something.

He shouldn't have touched her or 'grabbed her' but it's still sort of being puffed up for him to be arrested. What are Field's damages? She showed some pictures of her arm being a little bruised but has she had medical bills? As she had any ongoing pain or injury?

I agree his supporters will probably just love him all the more. And in standing by Lewandowski, I think we have an interesting study in contrasts.

Think about what happened with Ted Cruz when he was pressured to come down on his trusty campaign manager, Rick Tyler. Cruz immediately gave the Beltway its pound of flesh. Tyler's sin was mischaracterizing something Marco Rubio had allegedly said about the Bible.

"In a bizarre, blindingly fast revolving-door situation, Rick Tyler, the Ted Cruz campaign spokesperson who was fired Monday for lying about how Marco Rubio feels about the Bible is now a “political contributor” for MSNBC, appearing for the first time Friday afternoon. Who...who asked for this?"

"Tyler was asked to resign from Cruz’s campaign after sending out an incorrectly subtitled video of Cruz and his dad reading the Bible; it claimed Rubio walked by and said, “Got a good book there, not many answers in it.” He didn’t say that."

The contrast between Trump and Cruz couldn't be more stark. Cruz immediately bailed on a guy who seemed pretty devoted to him. Trump damns the torpedoes and stands behind his guy.

"Trump wrapped up the hour-long town hall by portraying Lewandowski, a former police officer, as a sympathetic family man wrongly accused, and later — in yet another hour of national television afforded to him — portrayed himself as a defender of the downtrodden who stood with his maligned staffer when others wouldn’t. “At first I said, ‘Oh this is terrible’,” Trump said. “And then I saw the tape. She bolts into the picture, she hits me on the arm and then he goes by and maybe he touched her a little bit,” Trump continued. “It was almost like he was trying to keep her off me, like he was trying to help her.”

"Trump’s critics saw a misogynist caught lying to defend another misogynist, and the condemnations came from all corners. Trump’s GOP rivals, Ted Cruz and John Kasich, both condemned Lewandowski’s behavior and Trump’s reaction to it. Democrats pounced, and a host of groups waiting for Trump should he reach a general election gave him a taste of what’s in store."

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Exactly. As usual, critics and supporters will come to diametrically opposite conclusions.

P.S. Another thing Trump said last night at the Town Hall was 'I don't discard people.' This idea of being loyal to someone rather than throwing them overboard at the first sign of trouble. a la what Ted Cruz did to Rick Tyler, will have some appeal for his supporters.

Some Thoughts on the Trump Doctrine

As I watched Trump last night talk about how South Korea and Japan should get nuclear weapons, it occurred to me that, say what you want about his foreign policy ideas, they aren't incoherent.

Now, of course, coherence is not proof of truth but coherence does enable you to at least engage an idea.

The Trump Doctrine is basically America First. It's Pat Buchanan's foreign policy. The idea is let Japan and South Korea get nuclear weapons, then we can cut back on our defense of the countries.

There is a piece in Time magazine that argues that Trump's foreign policy ideas need to be engaged.

"Trump isn't an isolationist, but his view of foreign policy is dangerous for the U.S. and the world."

“I know the outer world exists, and I’ll be very cognizant of that, but at the same time, our country is disintegrating,” says Donald Trump, who wants to “make America great again” by refocusing U.S. foreign policy to rebuild American strength from within. This idea comes not from a civil libertarian’s respect for the constitution, but from his trademark exhibitionist belligerence. He’s less Thomas Jefferson than George Jefferson, moving on up to win his party’s presidential nomination."

"Trump is no actual isolationist. He says he wants to build U.S. military might. He has floated the use of American ground troops in Syria, pledged to torture suspected terrorists, argued for increased use of drones and for “knocking the hell out of ISIS”—maybe even with nuclear weapons. Trump doesn’t oppose trade. He wants to shred the “stupid” agreements of the past and bring his state-of-the-art negotiating skills to secure much better deals, all to restore America’s lost prosperity and U.S. manufacturing jobs."
I don't know that I'd agree that he doesn't at least have isolationist tendencies. He has a clear desire for America to 'go it alone.' What might be interesting is to ask him about the other international institutions. Or even the big climate deal with China.

Does he think this was another case where we got 'robbed by the Chinese?'

The idea of letting South Korea and Japan have nukes is commensurate with a world view in which the US has less international allies and is involved in fewer alliances.

A world with fewer alliances and treaties is a more dangerous world-think about the era prior to postwar Europe. It would seem to mean the opposite of Hillary's smart power that she developed at State while serving Obama's Administration.

Remember: the corollary of Trump saying Japan and South Korea can get the bomb is his not ruling out the use of nuclear weapons. For their part, Japan and South Korea want no part of Trump's' permission.

"Evidently, Trump did not run this idea by Japanese and South Korean leaders before proposing it. According to the Washington Post, officials and newspapers from both countries responded to Trump's remarks with confusion at best and derision at worst. "We are dumbfounded at such myopic views of a leading candidate in the U.S. presidential race who tries to approach such critical issues only from the perspective of expenses," JoongAng Ilbo, one of South Korea's biggest newspapers, wrote in an editorial.

"Another paper, Hankyoreh, urged the South Korean government to "express its firm opposition to Trump’s foreign policy plan, which constitutes a threat to security on the Korean Peninsula." Meanwhile, the spokesperson for South Korea's defense ministry told the Post that there would be no change in diplomatic relations with the U.S."

"Tokyo's chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, assured the Post that "whoever becomes president of the United States, the Japan-U.S. alliance, based on a bilateral security agreement, will remain the core of Japan’s diplomacy." He went on, "We will adhere to our three principles that prohibit Japan from owning, developing and transporting a nuclear arsenal."

"Saudi Arabia has yet to respond to Trump's "take the oil" proposal, and there's no word from China regarding Trump's plan to cut off Chinese access to American markets. At this rate, by the time the Republican National Convention rolls around, the United States won't have any allies left."

That's the key. Trump's foreign policy is strictly 'go it alone.' This is a recipe not for less war but more. The lesson of WWII is that alliances and treaties-internationalism are the way to avoid such disasters in the future. 
Trump seems to think a world in which everyone has nuclear weapons and uses them the negotiate foreign relations is going to be more peaceful. Obviously the truth is quite the opposite. 
Still, purely on political grounds. Trump's philosophy might have some appeal. The Clinton team is right to be concerned about his unpredictability. This is not an orthodox Republican candidate. In this way, Ted Cruz would be much simpler to prepare against. 
Time decides there is a need to show why the Trump Doctrine is wrong. I think they are correct here. I think there are some voters who might think America First makes a lot of sense right now in a time of nagging economic insecurity. 
"I’ve written in recent weeks that Trump has embraced an “America first” foreign policy. I didn’t mean that as a compliment, and I’m surprised to see him grab that label with both hands. But “America first” won’t make America great again, because the country’s exceptionalism is based not simply on its military strength and wealth. For all its faults and shortcomings, the U.S. remains a nation—and an idea—worth emulating. It provided a winning alternative to fascism and communism when the world needed one and has created many of the institutions and innovations that have helped lift hundreds of millions out of poverty. It has set a standard of individual freedom and opportunity against which people everywhere measure their own governments. The American idea of citizenship is based on allegiance rather than tribe, drawing people to its shores from around the world."

"These are the choices and values that make America great. Donald Trump lives in a zero-sum world in which China’s leaders “have drained so much money out of our country that they’ve rebuilt China.” He divides the world into winners and losers, good and evil, workers and freeloaders, us and them. That’s hardly an exceptional idea for an exceptional country."

"What if the America that others emulate is the small-minded, self-interested version? What would that mean for the future of Europe’s union, law and order in Asia, efforts to contain wildfires in the Middle East or to coordinate foreign and trade policy in Africa and Latin America? Will it help the world harmonize its efforts to fight terrorism? Can Americans remain safe in an increasingly volatile world?"

"It’s not enough to dismiss or denounce Trump and his foreign policy views, even if he never becomes President. The questions he raises, and the resentments they engender, must be answered, clearly and confidently, or they will linger. That’s a risk that America and the world can’t afford."

Where Trump is wrong is his assumption that the US pays all the costs and derives none of the benefits from international alliances and relations.

Things like the NATO treaty have many moving parts which benefit all the members in different ways.

Trump's working assumption is we live in a zero sum world. The whole point of diplomacy and alliances is this is not the case. That nations can find common ground. Trump's world would be one where things are more and more decided by sheer brute force.

But I do think that this idea could have some appeal to some voters which is why this has to be understood. In some ways, it's almost like there has been total amnesia on what we learnt after WWII-that a zero sum world is a very dangerous one.

Last Night all Three GOP Candidates Vowed not to Support Eventual Nominee

Assuming that it isn't them. Actually this Politico piece's headline is somewhat misleading:

"Trump takes back pledge to support GOP nominee."

"Donald Trump has rescinded his pledge to support the Republican nominee for president."

"Asked during a CNN town hall whether he stood by the earlier pledge — which he signed in September after meeting with party chairman Reince Priebus — Trump said: "No, I don't."

"We'll see who it is," he told moderator Anderson Cooper.

"Trump said he had been treated "unfairly" by the Republican National Committee and the GOP establishment. He said he was unsure whether the Republican establishment was plotting to take the nomination away from him during the convention in Cleveland."

"He also said he didn't need Ted Cruz to promise to support him should Trump win the nomination."

"I’m not asking for his support," Trump said.

Read more:

Actually Ted Cruz himself has sort of taken it back. He's been hinting at it.

"Ted has said he does not make a habit of supporting people who insult his wife," Cruz communications director Alice Stewart said when asked whether Trump's remarks affect Cruz's decision regarding backing the nominee, echoing comments Cruz has been making for several days."

"Trump reiterated his support for the ultimate GOP nominee as recently as early March, when he said during a debate with Cruz, John Kasich and Marco Rubio that they all deserve some credit for energizing the party this election cycle."

"Later Tuesday night, Kasich backed off the pledge to support the ultimate GOP nominee too, suggesting he'd wait and see if it's someone he believes is good for the country."

"Frankly, all of us shouldn’t have even answered that question," he said, referencing when, in an early debate, all of the candidates were asked to raise their hand if they'd agree to support the eventual nominee.

Read more:

Of course, even as big a political junkie as me didn't watch the Kasich Town Hall last night as CNN was considerate enough to place his Town Hall last after the other two.

I did watch Cruz and Trump but when they announced Kasich I said screw this, I'm going to bed. I mean talk about an hour you won't get back. As Cruz says, Kasich shouldn't even have a place at the convention as he hasn't won eight states.

To be sure, Cruz is kidding himself that he can get 88 percent of the remaining 943 delegates needed for him to hit 1237.

Well the initial question was an attempt by Fox at it's first debate to pigeonhole Donald Trump. Clearly this has worked as well as everything else the GOP Establishment has tried.

Susan Sarandon's Leninist Push to 'Heighten the Contradictions'

You have to say that only a fairly privileged person could take the prospect of a Trump win as an opportunity.

And  as long as we are doing Hitler analogies, there was a subset of the European Left who welcomed the rise of Hitler.

"What Sarandon is voicing is the old Leninist idea of “heightening the contradictions,” which holds that social conditions need to get worse in order to inspire the revolution that will make them better. In this way of thinking, the real enemy of progress is incremental reform that would render the status quo tolerable. That was the position of the German Communists in the early 1930s, who refused to ally with the Social Democrats, proclaiming: “After Hitler, our turn!” A similar—if less deadly—assumption underlay Ralph Nader’s 2000 presidential campaign, for which Sarandon served as co-chair of the national steering committee. George W. Bush, Nader argued then, could serve as a “provocateur,” awakening the power of the left. “If it were a choice between a provocateur and an ‘anesthetizer,’ I'd rather have a provocateur,”said Nader. “It would mobilize us.”

"To be fair to Nader, under Bush, the contradictions got pretty high. He left the Middle East in flames, and the economy hasn’t recovered from the financial implosion he presided over. Had Bush not wrecked so many lives, we might never have gotten President Obama and the Affordable Care Act, or, for that matter, a democratic socialist running a credible presidential primary campaign. Yet the Bush example should also make it obvious that the cost of electing a Republican provocateur is human misery on an inconceivable scale, inflicted on people who lack Sarandon’s many resources."

This was why many Leftists opposed FDR in the 30s. As to the question of how many Berners will vote for Hillary:

Susan Sarandon is like a lot of Bernie backers: She finds the Vermont senator to be a paragon of probity, doesn’t totally trust Hillary Clinton, and she’s upset about the status quo in the United States, which she fears Clinton would perpetuate.

Unlike most Bernie backers, Sarandon is an Oscar winner who owns a chain of ping-pong lounges. But it turns out those are not the only ways she is atypical.

"Sarandon appeared on Chris Hayes’s MSNBC show Tuesday night, where she made her case for Sanders, citing his record on free trade, prisons, genetically modified foods, and more. Hayes pointed out that elections are choices, and asked whether she would vote for Clinton in a general election matchup against Donald Trump."

“I think Bernie would probably encourage people [to vote Clinton], because he doesn’t have a lot of ego in this,” she said. “But I think a lot of people are, ‘Sorry, I just can’t bring myself to do that.’” As for herself, “I don’t know. I’m going to see what happens.”

So is she saying that she 'has an ego?'

"There are a variety of critiques one could level of Sarandon’s argument. If you’re interested in sampling them, simply look at Twitter, where many users took issue with Sarandon’s strategy while others simply posted GIFs of the closing scene from Sarandon’s Thelma and Louise. (Spoiler alert, I guess, but c’mon.) Suffice it to say that in terms of risky political strategies, whatever you think of the status quo, it’s hard to imagine that a violent revolution would do much to solve the country’s problems, as other nations that have experienced constitutional crises can attest. (There’s a reason Sanders is pushing for “revolution” through the ballot box and not other means.)"

"Setting aside the polemic, however, is Sarandon especially representative? Polls consistently show Clinton leading Sanders nationally, and more votes have been cast for her in the primary so far. In a tight election, though, a bloc of Democrats who refused to vote for Clinton or crossed over could cost her a win. Are there really “a lot” of people who support Sanders now but who, given a choice between Clinton and Trump, would either sit on their hands or pull the lever for Trump?"

"The answer is almost certainly no."

Here is the way I look at it. There are more than one type of Bernie voters.

1. I have a few friends on Twitter who voted for Obama but who have flouted with Sanders.

Nanute is one. But he pointed out last night that in his view anyone who would not vote for Hillary in the general is not a Democrat. But keep in mind he has voted since 1971-the year I was born incidentally.

One test is who voted for Obama in 2012. I would guess that very few who voted for POTUS in 2012 wouldn't vote for Hillary this time.

Basically, past is prologue. If someone voted in 2012 it's a good sign that they will. If they have a longer history of voting Dem it's even more likely they will.

2. Sarandon in her interview, talked about people who haven't voted in the past. I'd say that is the group that is a risk for not voting for her in November.

But you have to look at it this way: anyone who didn't vote for Obama in 2012 certainly won't be missed in 2016.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Media Continues to Cherrypick the Dem Primary

The media is trying to see the absurd claim of the Bernie team that they have 'momentum' based on their blowouts in some white caucus states. The idea is silly. When Hillary won by almost 50 in South Carolina that 'mometum' didn't stop Bernie from winning Washington by almost 50.

There is no 'momentum' in primaries, just good states demographically and bad states demographically. Ultimately it's not about anything but delegates. HRC has an over 700 delegate lead over the Bern (1712-1004).

Everything else is noise.

Today there is some noise about a national poll that shows Bernie within six points. Two things about that.

1. First of all that this is being sold as big news just shows the usual cherrypicking. There was a Bloomberg poll last week that showed Bernie up by one point-yes one. It's about the second poll this entire primary which has shown him up-there was a Fox News poll where he lead by three in late February.

"Clinton leads Sanders 49 percent to 43 percent, with 8 percent saying they do not know. The former secretary of state has dropped by six points in the survey since the beginning of March, while the Vermont senator has gone up by 5 points in support. In the weekly tracking survey conducted between Feb. 29 and March 6, for example, Clinton led Sanders by 17 points—55 percent to 38 percent."

Read more:
So what? So I guess, the answer is 'momentum.' But this is cherrypicking. There are other polls which show a different picture. For instance, that Fox News poll that had Bernie up by three? The most recent edition showed her back up by 13. This is recent. Similarly, Quinnipiac which had Bernie within two points in February now show her up by 12.

So while Bernie is up in the Survey Monkey poll he's down in the Quinnipiac and Fox News polls. The punchline? As Nate Silver and Harry Enten, etc. say: focus on the averages. The averages have been fairly rage bound the last few months.

And what do you know? A new PPP poll that was taken recently has her up by 18. There is no momentum just fluctuations.

2. But the bigger point is why give so much attention to national polls at this stage of the race? This is the larger point that the Nates and the Harrys would argue. Considering that the majority of states have now voted, why would you call those states and pol them as part of a national poll?

Why not check the actual results? There she clearly has a strong 2.6 million vote lead or a lead of about 18 percent.

Finally the words of David Plouffe, Obama's campaign manager in 2008.

"President Obama’s former campaign manager on Monday argued that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has no hope of defeating Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination."

“I believe Hillary Clinton has zero chance of not being the Democratic nominee,” David Plouffe wrote on Medium. "The Clinton lead is almost 300 in pledged delegates. And over 700 in total delegates."

"Clinton will end the primary, even if she underperforms the rest of the way, with a pledged delegate lead greater than Barack Obama’s in 2008.”

She has a very large margin of error the rest of the way to underperform. She has 1712 of the needed 2383 delegates. There are 2149 remaining so she can win just 33 percent of those or 671 delegates and still win
As her campaign rightly argues today, this race should be all but over on April 26. 
By then she will easily have over 2100 delegates or 88 percent of those needed. And of course there are still an outstanding 260 super delegates which she will get the majority of-say she gets 240. 
By then a number of them will feel they can safely go from undecided to her column. 
"On a conference call with reporters Monday, Hillary Clinton's chief strategist, Joel Benenson, said the former secretary of state will have expanded her delegate lead enough by the end of April to be the clear winner of the primary contest over Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Benenson predicted that the upcoming Wisconsin primary, on April 5, would be close. But after that, Clinton is expecting victories in the delegate-rich states of New York on April 19 and Pennsylvania on April 26."

"The truth is, after April 26, there just simply is not enough real estate left for Sen. Sanders to close the commanding lead that we've built," Benenson said. "We expect to come out of that day with a pledged and total delegate lead that will make clear who the nominee will be, and that it's going to be Hillary Clinton."
So if you hear any Berners or pundits claim that Bernie has momentum you know based on Washington and Utah or because of one cherrypicked poll,  it's gibberish. Indeed, the Berners on Twitter are starting to truly be comical. They honestly believe they have the momentum and that a discussion like this is nothing but #scaretactics. 

That's what some Berner told me this morning. The only person it scares are Bernie and his Berners as they fear when the discussion veers back to reality. 

The Bernie folks don't get it. At this point their shtick is just #comic relief. 

Tad Devine Explains Why Bernie's Losing: We Haven't Started Trying Yet

Bernie and campaign manager Tad Devine have fallen back on some dubious explanations of why March has been so tough on them.

There was this attempt to marginalize the South as 'red state voters'-somehow they don't matter. Only states that vote Democrat in the general matter. Of course, this changed after he won Utah and Idaho and lost Michigan and Ohio.

There was an attempt to suggest that Northern blacks are smarter and more discerning than Southern blacks. This is a rather unfortunate argument:  the votes of Southern blacks matter less, considering the whole history of Jim Crow and the Voting Rights Act.

Also there's the stock Bernie answer: Wait till they get to know me and discover I'm a saint. He's been saying that for a year.

The new one is that Bernie is doing very well in the states that he actually tried in. This is something Tad Devine came up with yesterday. He seems not to understand that this isn't how it works. All the states get delegates not just the ones that you 'really tried to win.'

And why didn't they try to win these other states? As Jamil Smith says, this is kind of embarrassing for Tad Devine to say as it would be his failure.

As Smith also says, it is provably false. Bernie sure did try in Arizona and lost by nearly 20 points. And this seemed to shell shock Tad as he seemed very surprised that night and said 'Wait till the later returns are in.'

As Joy Reid says, he tried very hard in South Carolina and got crushed.

If there are states he didn't campaign much in they were states he knew he had no chance in.

Meanwhile, the attempts by Bernie and Devine to argue they do have a path to victory leads mostly to lots of stories of how they don't have one.

"Sanders campaign harping on its path to victory results mostly in bad stories about how there isn't one. They do it to keep donors giving."

Speaking of comic relief, consider that this Berner is actually serious.

HA Goodman Triples Down

Just when you thought he couldn't bring Huffington Post any  lower. I mean last week they had the most embarrassing piece imaginable.

Now HA Goodman increases the comic relief. And he's had some real knee slappers in the past.

Bernie was supposed to win every state in the Union. He was going to sweep the South because of the crime bill-for some reason Bernie's own vote for the crime bill wasn't important.

Now HA says it's time for Hillary to drop out. Right. I mean she's so far she'll never come back.

Oh wait.

"With Bernie Sanders now slightly ahead of Clinton nationally in the latest Bloomberg poll, it’s time to reevaluate the meaning of pragmatism. Hillary Clinton might be ahead of Bernie Sanders in delegates, but Vermont’s Senator has a monopoly on political momentum. Sadly, his opponent has a monopoly on controversy, and will face FBI interviews in the near future."

Wow. So first of all why quote from the one poll out of the last 50 that shows Bernie ahead? What worth are national polls at this point as they interview people from states which have already voted?

That Bloomberg poll showed her trailing voters who had already voted. Kind of a hint that the poll may not be accurate. HA has been shameless in using the GOP fake email scandal as a talking point for months.

It ought to disqualify him from even taking part in a conversation with Democrats. He ought to peddle this at Fox News. But the truth is she isn't being investigated by the FBI. It's the email set up. Colin Powell and Condeleeza Rice have also had a request for them to turn over their email.

Bernie and his Berners are more and more simply making themselves look absurd with their denial about the fact that he is losing this race badly and it's time to get behind Hillary and defeat Donald Trump.

David Ploufe-a major campaign manager for Obama in 2008 says there's no way Hillary doesn't win this now. It's impossible for Bernie to catch up.

"President Obama’s former campaign manager on Monday argued that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has no hope of defeating Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“I believe Hillary Clinton has zero chance of not being the Democratic nominee,” David Plouffe wrote on Medium. "The Clinton lead is almost 300 in pledged delegates. And over 700 in total delegates.

"Clinton will end the primary, even if she underperforms the rest of the way, with a pledged delegate lead greater than Barack Obama’s in 2008.”

Note: even if she underperforms the rest of the way she will end up with a pledged delegate lead larger than Obama in 2008.

Clinton leads Sanders with 1,712 delegates to his 1,004, according to the latest RealClearPolitics delegates count.

Plouffe argued on Monday that the former secretary of State’s edge is mathematically impossible for Sanders to overcome.

“In fact, Hillary Clinton has strengthened her hold on the nomination in the most recent contests,” he said.

“Because for every state that holds a contest, more delegates come off the board, and the percentage of remaining delegates Sanders has to win grows larger. The hill Bernie Sanders has to climb becomes more and more steep. Like a sheer, rock cliff.”

Plouffe added that Democratic superdelegates are not likely to change sides for Sanders, even after his wins in three states last weekend.

“And no, there is a zero percent chance the ‘super delegates’ will somehow go against the will of the voters and choose the second place candidate,” said Plouffe, who endorsed Clinton last October."

At this point the Berners are simply making themselves a laughing stock. Last night a Berner sent me a tweet boasting about all his wins in Idaho and Washington-it had a picture with Bernie in shades strutting and I literally laughed out loud.

Susan Sarandon: President Trump Could be Good for Revolution

Just when you think the comic relief can't get any greater-HA Goodman writes another piece for the Huffington Post.

I had thought that Huffington Post hit it's nadir with this piece.

But just as the GOP primary between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz never gets so low it cannot get lower, the Berners can not get more absurd in their delusions about the fact that this primary is over.

Last night Chris Hayes interviewed one of the most absurd Berners of them all-Susan Sarandon. While Gloria Steinem was crucified for comments she made about young women who vote for Bernie, there was no similar outrage to Sarandon's dismissively sexist comment that 'It's not about gender it's about policies' and 'Don't vote with your gender.'

Last night listening to her was rather scary. She thinks it's 'egotistical' to think Hillary will be a good President. To make any argument she doesn't like she finds egotistical.

"She then said the Berners will have a hard time voting for Hillary and that she will have a hard time. She thinks that a President Trump could be a good thing for 'The Revolution.'

"Chris Hayes tried to interpret this on Twitter after all it was his interview:

"Some people think that if Trump is elected that will bring the revolution." -- @SusanSarandon #inners

"@chrislhayes Did @SusanSarandon mean DJT would be the revolutionary change agent, or his awfulness will gin-up left's revolutionary fervor?"

"The latter, I think. "

From my perspective either interpretation is equally awful. And I do suspect that some Berners might think Trump is better than Hillary: after all, he wants to rip up trade deals and end China's most favored trade status too.
There was some real reaction to Sarandon on Twitter:

Jeffrey Wright:

"Vapid, self-serving, sanctimonious dunce "Susan Sarandon: Trump Might Be Better for America Than Hillary Clinton "

Goldie Taylor:

"Sure, hand Trump the WH, both houses of Congress and 2 or more SCOTUS picks for the sake of your "revolution."

"Privilege is a helluva drug. "

There is real privilege in this Leninist position where we want to the worst possible governance as that will bring the Revolution all the quicker.

But what about those folks who aren't insulated like Sarandon from this terrible governance? Does it actually effect her personally if the voting rights of black people are cracked down on or if Planned Parenthood is destroyed?

PP serves the health of especially poorer, less affluent women. A President Trump may well not effect a Susan Sarandon day to day but there are millions for whom it would be a nightmare.

As for all this revolution talk it goes both ways. Some argue it costs Bernie with many Latino voters-certainly it did with Cuban Americans in Florida.

.@laseptiemewilay it's why Sanders couldn't win Florida. Cuban- Colombian- and Venezuelan-

Americans have total recall."

"@JoyAnnReid That's what #SusanSarandon said; total crazy far-left . These folks have no idea what revolution is-- i lived it & it's Ugly"

".@laseptiemewilay If you came here from somewhere else, as you did and my parents did in the '60s, it certainly has a different meaning."

The folks who come from 'revolutionary countries' are not eager for another one. They know the drill too well.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Al Franken for Hil's Vice President?

It's an idea now making the rounds. There has been a lot of speculation about who the choice will be.

A new name we're hearing for the first time is Minnesota Senator Al Franken. I love it. I mean I have always been a yuge fan of his since before he was even a politician for real. He used to be a political satirist who made fun of politicians and then he became the real thing.

The idea has some real appeal in the year of Trump. I buy this argument in Politico that says that if Trump is her opponent, Franken could enable her to do what she does best and stay on a higher plane and Franken could be an attack dog.


"Here’s the thing about Al Franken: despite his roots as a Saturday Night Live comedian, he’s turned out to be an excellent senator. He’s a smart politician who is as progressive as they come on the issues, but he’s savvy enough to know how politics works, and he’s pragmatic enough to know how to get things done. In the responsible sense of “Would he make a good President if something happened to Hillary Clinton,” the answer is a resounding yes. But there are also three very different strategic reasons why he’d make sense."

"One is that Franken is widely viewed around the nation as being a bona fide progressive. If Hillary were to put him on the ticket, it would erase the perception among some democratic voters that she’s not progressive enough or liberal enough. It would give the ticket instant credibility with far-left voters. There are other excellent progressives Hillary could pick as her running mate, but it’s unlikely Elizabeth Warren would want to leave her powerful role in the senate, while someone like Sherrod Brown lacks the national profile to move the needle much."

"Second is that Al Franken, despite being a serious and cerebral politician, is also a charismatic entertainer. At a time when the 2016 race is full of reality show stars and cult figures, Franken would give the Hillary Clinton ticket the kind of entertainment value that she herself can’t provide. This on its own is absolutely not a reason to pick someone for a running mate. But because Franken is highly qualified for the job to begin with, his longtime broadly beloved mainstream national profile would come as a strategic bonus.

"Third, at a time when the democratic party is fighting tooth and nail to regain a majority in the senate so republican obstructionism can finally be put to bed, Hillary Clinton has to be careful about not plucking anyone who might get replaced by a republican. But with Al Franken being from Minnesota, where the democratic governor would be likely to replace him with another democrat in the short term and the voters would be likely to do the same in the long term, that’s not a concern."

Since Franken has gotten into politics he's been careful to keep it serious a lot of the time to ensure his constituents he doesn't think his job is a joke. As Politico says, after Trump, none of Franken's' antics would seem inappropriate on the campaign trail.

I'm not sure about the progressive question. I mean think he is a prog, but I'm not sure of the Elizabeth Warren wing, etc. 
You can argue that HRC needs someone who either:
1. Is a clear progressive in the minds of the Warren wing. 
2. Someone who balances the ticket in terms of diversity. 
It seems to me that number 2 is more important as: Hillary's base is not the Warren wing who went for Bernie Sanders. Her base are women, blacks and Latinos. 
My guess is that a second woman on the ticket would be seen as overkill this time. Corey Booker and Julian Castro have been discussed a lot. 
My guess would probably be Castro over Booker. Not that I don't like Booker a lot but in the year of Trump it seems most appropriate for her to have a Latino to round out her ticket. 
As for Warren, she would never do it which makes her smart. Give her credit for knowing what her role is and what it isn't. She's great at flagging her cause in terms of bank oversight and financial reform but she's not a President and she apparently knows this. 
Sherrod Brown would be very good. I actually might disagree with DailyNewsBin in that I think in progressive circles he has the name recognition. Certainly in union circles. 
But, it's pretty simple: he's a white male. Again, she has to remember her base is number 2 not 1 first and foremost. While Hillary is making history as the first female President, as she is white herself she needs a person of color. 
Despite what you hear in the press, she doesn't need to win the vote of angry white males as she is going to get virtually everyone else. 

Hillary Calls Out Chuck Grassley for Senate Blockade Merrick Garland Nomination

She calls them out for their historic intransigence. Never before has it taken this long to confirm a SCOTUS pick.

"Hillary Clinton on Monday will make an old foe the center of a new battle."

"In a speech about the Supreme Court that Clinton is scheduled to deliver at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, the Democratic front-runner is expected to single out Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley and challenge him to hold hearings on the nomination of Merrick Garland to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated last month by the death of Antonin Scalia, according to a campaign official."

"Clinton has spoken out forcefully against the Republicans’ intransigence to hold nominating hearings, accusing the GOP of implicit racism in ignoring President Barack Obama's nominee, and noting that it has never taken the Senate more than 125 days to vote on a Supreme Court nomination.

Read more:

"Ironically, this obstruction makes it most likely that she will end up picking Antonin Scalia's responses. To be sure, Hillary is happy to single out Chuck Grassley who has lead the Senate investigation into her emails. When's he going to investigate Colin Powell's private emails while at State?"
"Senate Democrats — who are making pressure for a hearing a centerpiece of their strategy to retake the Senate in November — lauded Clinton’s push from the campaign trail. And New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, who is leading the strategy, noted it also makes for good politics as Clinton tries to pivot to a general election while still fighting off a heated challenge from Bernie Sanders."

“It’s really smart of Hillary Clinton to put this issue front and center,” Schumer told POLITICO in a statement. “This issue unites Democrats and excites our base, while also appealing to independents and Republicans.”

"Clinton has expressed support for Garland, a centrist appeals court judge, but has not said whether he fits her own criteria for a Supreme Court nominee — and whether she would commit to reappointing the 63-year-old if GOP Senate leaders succeed in blocking him for the next year. An aide told POLITICO the campaign is not entertaining the premise that Republicans could succeed in blocking Garland, as they have promised to do."

Read more:

If the GOP believes that there is some legal basis why they can't confirm SJC in the last year, they should take a commensurate pay cut in the last year.

Hillary Leads Bernie 47-36 in California

In an earlier piece this morning, we looked at the anticipated $15 minimum wage in California, and how this possibly could co-opt Bernie's attempt to use his $15 federal proposal as a wedge issue in Cali.

Either way, she's got a a good chance of reaching the necessary 2382 delegates for the nomination before California and of winning the state itself. A new poll seems to show the race roughly where previous polls have shown it: HRC leads 47-36.

What's interesting is that most of Bernie's own Cali supporters expect her to be the next President.

"Most of Sen. Bernie Sanders' supporters in California say they expect that come November, Hillary Clinton will be elected president — and, by and large, they're OK with that."

"While both Democratic camps prepare for a final battle in the state’s June 7 primary, the latest USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times statewide poll found that just over half of Sanders’ supporters said they expected Clinton to be the next president. About a third of Sanders’ backers said they expected the Vermont senator to emerge the winner, and 12% said they thought Donald Trump would prevail."

"Close to 8 in 10 Sanders supporters said in the survey that they would vote for Clinton in a race against Trump, although many said they would do so reluctantly."

"Those findings show the reality underlying the still-heated rhetoric of the Democratic primaries: By contrast with the civil war that divides Republicans, Democrats in the country’s largest state have begun to coalesce behind their front-runner."

"In the primary race, Clinton holds a modest lead over Sanders, 45% to 37%, among all Democrats and independent voters eligible to vote. Her lead is slightly larger, 47% to 36%, among those most likely to vote. Either way, that’s a significant problem for Sanders."

"The poll was conducted before Sanders’ sweep of three Western states — Alaska, Hawaii and Washington — on Saturday, but those victories don’t change the electoral math much. Sanders would need not just a win in California, but something close to a landslide to overcome Clinton’s large lead in delegates before the party’s nominating convention in July."

Time to coalesce around Trump is the feeling in Cali as elsewhere. By then she will be so far ahead if she hasn't clinched the California vote will be basically a formality.

She leads 42-37 among white voters and 48-39 among nonwhite voters. That's all Democrat and independent voters. Among likely voters, the gap is a little wider.

Her lead in California has been pretty stable for months.

He will argue that he has time to turn it around but that's the whole problem. He still talks about winning states and moral victories not making up huge delegate shortfalls. But Cali is the end of the line.

Trump Leading in Votes but What About Delegates?

He currently needs 53 percent of the remaing 944 delegates to reach 1237. It's doable but not a cinch.

It's less that every vote counts as every delegate counts. This could be a real disadvantage against the ultra organized Ted Cruz who deeply understands the system.

While some populists might think it's a scandal, you can win the most votes and fail to win the most delegates. What is Trump doing about it? Would you believe he's put Ben Carson on the case?

"Trump’s delegate danger."

"He’s beating Cruz at the ballot, but he’s months behind in the battle to make those wins count at the convention."

"Ben Carson is hitting the trail for Donald Trump this weekend, but don’t expect to see him at any rallies or town halls. In fact, don’t expect to see him at all — unless you’re a North Dakota Republican insider."

"Carson is flying into Fargo to huddle with the state’s GOP activists, who are convening to elect 25 delegates to the Republican National Convention. They’re a small bloc of the 2,472 delegates who will ultimately pick the party’s presidential nominee when they meet in Cleveland in July, and Carson is meeting with them this weekend to make sure at least a few of them pick Trump when they get there."

"Carson’s trip is the Trump campaign’s highest profile play yet for delegates, and it comes as the mogul arrives at a perilous moment: he may be lapping Ted Cruz at the ballot box, but Cruz is outmaneuvering him in the quieter — and equally crucial — hunt for loyal delegates."

"Trump is virtually certain to arrive in Cleveland with millions more votes than Cruz or John Kasich, but he could still fall short of clinching the nomination outright. That would throw the contest to the delegates — and if Cruz packs the arena with supporters, Trump could watch the nomination slip away from him. And he knows it."

Read more:

At least he knows the risks. One response by him is to throw Cruz some shade and suggest that Lyin' Ted is trying to steal the nomination.

“I have a guy going around trying to steal people's delegates. This is supposed to be America, a free America,” he said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “You know, welcome to the Republican Party. What's going on in the Republican Party is a disgrace. I have so many more votes and so many more delegates. And, frankly, whoever at the end, whoever has the most votes and the most delegates should be the nominee.”

"Trump’s palpable frustration is a sign of how rapidly the hunt for delegates is overtaking the primary itself as the most critical battle in the 2016 GOP nominating process."

Read more:

Still, as much fun as that is, he should also be talking to the RNC.

"While Trump cries foul, Cruz is racking up support from prospective delegates across the country, even in states where Trump dominated the primary. From Louisiana to Georgia to South Carolina — all Trump victories — delegates and delegate candidates are lining up to back Cruz, who’s romped among the Republican activist class that tends to control this part of the process. South Dakota’s delegates and early contests in Iowa also appear to favor Cruz."

“I've been telling the Trump campaign for eight months now that they're making a mistake by not reaching out to RNC members to establish relationships,” said one South Carolina Republican participating in the state’s delegate selection process. “He hasn't done any of that. ... That's usually the kind of thing that presidential candidates do.”

"None of this matters much if Trump grabs the 1,237 pledged delegates he’d likely need to win a majority vote on the convention’s first ballot. But if he doesn’t, the convention could go to further rounds of voting where many delegates are free to vote for a candidate of their choosing — and that’s where Trump could run into trouble."

Read more:

That's the key. He needs to win outright. If he's short it will be harder than for most GOP candidates for him to get support from unbound delegates. But it also matters how short of 1237. If it's 20 or 30, then he's still got a good claim but if it's 200 or 300, that's another story.

California Raises Minimum Wage to $15 an Hour

They are the first state to do so. Previously, we saw big cities like Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles go to $15.

California appears poised to raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour.
"Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration has told leaders in the Democratic-controlled state Legislature he supports boosting the state’s minimum wage to $15 by 2022, a person familiar with the matter said. The approach would give the governor some control over an issue that looked set to be decided directly by voters in November."

"Moving ahead with the plan would give the most populous U.S. state the nation’s highest minimum pay floor. The minimum wage in California is now $10 an hour, already one of the highest of any state, though some cities have set higher minimum levels."

"The deal proposed to California lawmakers by the Democratic governor, reported earlier by the Los Angeles Times, comes after one of two labor-sponsored initiatives to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour qualified for the November 2016 ballot."

"A wage of $15 an hour—about $30,000 a year for full-time workers—has become a rallying cry by many on the left in recent years, with intensity rising amid concerns about economic inequality."

The DailyNewsBin points out that this takes the issue off the table for the Hillary-Bernie primary on June 7. It would at least seem to defuse it.

"Bernie Sanders has, all along, been campaigning on an overnight doubling of the national minimum wage to fifteen dollars per hour. Regardless of what might or might not be fair, such a move would risk inflation and recession, as such things must be done in a more sophisticated and incremental manner in order to be economically valid. Hillary Clinton is arguing for a more nuanced approach to raising the minimum wage which would fix the issue without wrecking the economy. But she’s had a difficult time selling that kind of intelligent thinking to those who are too economically naive to realize the simplistic Sanders plan would be a disaster."

"As it turns out, California Governor Jerry Brown just struck a deal to raise the state’s minimum wage to that same mark, fifteen dollars per hour. Of course his plan includes exceptions and increments and the kind of smart economic policy one might expect from a politician who knows what he’s doing. So now those undecided democrats in California who might have been tempted to support Bernie Sanders simply for his magical $15 wage hike have now seen that issue vanish in their state. Sanders just lost the one talking point that he thought he could use to win there."

Hillary's call for a $12 federal MW would itself be an increase of 70 percent of the current $7.25. The real case for not going for $15 overnight is the need for what the economists call natural experiments.

I personally like the idea of a $15 MW but agree that it should be done incrementally. In recent years economists have decided that small increases in the MW don't increase unemployment but what about a rise of 100 percent or more?

I think you'd at least want to test it out incrementally rather than doubling it overnight. There are, of course, some who think going for $15 in the entire state is a mistake-as opposed to big cities like LA and San Francisco.

My home state of NY might see a $15 MW in the not so distant future either.

Again, I think it's a good idea but it should be done incrementally.

"States appear to be the next battleground. Lawmakers in New York are in advanced discussions to bring that state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, from $9 now. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, is trying to include a vote in the Legislature on the measure as part of the state’s budget, due April 1, although details are still under negotiation."

"The proposed increases have met resistance from business groups and Republicans—including presidential front-runner Donald Trump—who say they will lead to fewer jobs for low-skilled Americans. Critics say they are an inefficient way to help the poor, as many minimum-wage earners are high-school students or others without dependents."

"Of particular concern is the magnitude of the proposed increase. Previous hikes have generally been more gradual, and large swaths of big states like California have a low cost of living and fragile economies."

“I think there’s going to be job loss everywhere,” said David Neumark, an economist at the University of California, Irvine. “You get out of the big cities and California is not a rich place at all.”

The plan, which was outlined to legislative leaders by Mr. Brown’s office last week, would raise the wage from $10 an hour to $10.50 on Jan. 1, 2017, followed by a 50-cent increase in 2018, the person familiar with the proposal said. Yearly $1 increases would continue through 2022, the person said."

There is, however, value in going a little slower at the federal level to gauge the effects at the local and state level. There are always going to be states that go higher than the federal level.

Oregon has an interesting approach:

"In March, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, signed a landmark minimum-wage law that makes that state the first in the nation to mandate higher pay in cities than rural areas. The law, which enacts a series of minimum-wage increases through 2022—with the level set to reach $14.75 an hour in Portland—was proposed by the governor after labor officials and activists in that state also proposed minimum-wage ballot initiatives."

"Gabe Horwitz, economic program vice president at Third Way, a left-center Think Tank in Washington, said California’s approach is “blunt” compared with the tiered increases Oregon passed."

“Fifteen dollars an hour may work in places like San Francisco or Los Angeles, but it could have very different economic effects in some of the very rural areas in the state,” Mr. Horwitz said. “Oregon took that into effect and adjusted their wage to address fears that a big-city minimum wage would destroy jobs in low-cost small towns.”

P.S. Regarding the California primary, there's a good chance she will have over the 2383 delegates for the nomination by then.

P.S.S. I should ask Last Men and OverMen reader extraordinaire Tom Brown what he thinks about a $15 MW across his state of California? What effect does he see it having on the economy out there?

Bernie is Worried and Has Every Right to be

He is worried that she won't debate him in NY. Maybe she won't. I have no idea, but she has no obligation to.

"Appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Mr. Sanders said he wanted to have a debate in “New York City, upstate, wherever, on the important issues facing New York and, in fact, the country.” The Democrats have held eight debates so far, the last one on March 9 in Miami, and the two campaigns pledged to hold an additional debate in April and another one in May before the final primaries in June."

"Asked by Chuck Todd, the host, if he was worried that Mrs. Clinton would not debate him again, Mr. Sanders replied, “Yeah, I do have a little bit of concern about that. But I certainly would like to see a debate in New York State.”

"A Clinton campaign spokesman declined to comment about the debate proposal on Sunday."

"Mr. Sanders, fresh off three caucus victories on Saturday, is seeking every opportunity to keep his chances alive despite Mrs. Clinton’s delegate lead, which has not significantly changed. Sanders advisers consider New York to be a crucial battleground; if Mr. Sanders could beat Mrs. Clinton in her home state, it would be a humiliating blow and – perhaps more than any other contest – cast doubts on her strengths as a general election nominee. Yet Mr. Sanders would need a landslide victory in New York to start chipping away at her lead in delegates."

This is the latest desperate Bernie theory. That a 'loss in NY' constitutes an existential threat. A two point loss like in Michigan would still give her about half of the almost 300 delegates from the state.

Right now she has 1712 delegates to Bernie's 1004. There are 2049 delegates left to be won.

What this means is she can get to 2382 by winning just 671 of the 2049: ie, just 33 percent. Bernie for his part needs 1378 or 67 percent. If she takes roughly 150 delegates in NY even if Bernie technically 'won' the state, that would even in defeat take her 22 percent more of the remaining needed 671 delegates to win the nomination.

In truth, it's worse than that as there are still 252 outstanding superdelegates most of which will go to her. Factor that in and she's more than 82 percent of the way there.

Even without the 'momentum.' All you need to know about the state of Bernie's campaign is that they use the word 'momentum' so much. That's now how Obama 2008 won. Indeed, Hillary won NY in 2008 and this didn't magically give her the nomination and she won it by 14 points-even if Bernie won my home state which I doubt, it's unlikely it would be by the margin she won it in 2008.

As for more debates, we've had a lot of them already along with the town halls. It's understandable he wants more debates: when you trail you want more debates when you're leading, you're less excited about the prospect.

But Bernie needs to give it up in trying to make this a question of absolute justice. If he were leading he wouldn't want more debates. It's not that I think a debate would hurt her. To the contrary, she's a great debater. But it's up to her if she wants one and where.

The demand for a NY debate is just a Hail Mary pass. But few Hail Marys work. There is no silver bullet.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

If Hillary Clinton Can do for America What She did for the State Dept, Our Future Will be Bright

Donald Trump brags a lot that if he is President the nation will win so much we'll get 'tired of winning.'

As I mentioned in an earlier piece I'm currently reading a book by John Allen about Hillary's time at the Obama's State Department-and her concurrent political rebirth.

I have to say that based on her time at State, it may be more likely under here that the country could experience some real progress and successes.

You have to reset to the time she got to State in early 2009. The Department was demoralized after the disastrous Bush years. Our standing with our allies had never been lower. The great diplomats that make up State was the abused spouse of Donald Rumsfeld's Defense Department.

Even in the best of times, GOP Administrations don't see the percentage in diplomacy unless it's gunboat diplomacy. So State had been relegated to a useless appendage of Defense for eight years.

Hillary had gotten with a school of foreign policy in 2004 called 'smart power.' In a recent debate that was her answer to a woman at a Town Hall who had asked her whether or not she was a hawk. Hillary said she believes in 'smart power.'

No doubt some saw this as 'equivocation' or just trying to hide the fact that she's a hawk. But that's not it. The idea of smart power is to be robust in both military might and diplomacy where military intervention comes last.

In her Senate confirmation in 2009 she explained her and Obama's philosophy to foreign policy as 'pragmatism and principles over ideology.' The idea that Obama has no 'doctrine' was something Hillary herself had laid out at her own hearing in early 2009.

Again, in 2009 after eight years of Bush who didn't value what State does, HRC was able to come in and revitalize the Department. Before she got there most diplomatic relations with their foreign counterparts had decayed to the point of just defending George W. Bush's not so defensible foreign policy.

With Obama leading the country and HRC leading at State, America has had a resurgence in terms of international opinion.

She was also able to totally rehabilitate State and bring back its moral. Obama had given her unheard of power by allowing her to bring in her own staff-something that  some on the Obama team hated but this was what their boss chose to do.

What is particularly impressive and what may bode well for the country is she was able to facilitate a huge spike in the federal budget for State.

In 2009, OMB Director, Peter Orszag, had called for a modest contraction of budget for State. HRC had Jack Lew on her team-the one guy was a former OMB Director himself-who could deem to try to negotiate with Orszag.

She actually wanted a 10 percent increase in spending for the State Department and by going above everyone's head to Obama himself, she was able to get it.

I guess you can read this different ways. It was a great thing for State but you wonder who had to absorb the budget cuts? But if she's able to do for the US what she did for State I think it's clear there will be a lot more success in a Hillary Administration than anything Trump can promise.