Discord & Dissension — Part X — Bernie or Bust?

Although Hillary Clinton actually won the 2016 election by nearly three million votes, thanks to gerrymandering and the anomaly of the Electoral College, Donald Trump now occupies the Oval Office.  There were a number of factors that allowed him to gain as many votes as he did and win the electoral vote.  One, of course, was the influence of Russian propaganda intended to denounce Hillary Clinton with misinformation fed to the unwitting public.  There was significant voter suppression in a number of states that denied the vote to poor, minorities and youth.  Another was FBI Director James Comey’s ‘October Surprise’, and yet another was Hillary Clinton herself.  Despite the fact that it makes no sense, you would be surprised how many people vote for a candidate based on looks or that “warm, fuzzy” persona.  Clinton was highly qualified, had both the experience and education to have made an excellent president, but for some her forthright manner was off-putting.  And then, of course, there was that moment when she used really poor judgement in her comment about ‘deplorables’.

But the biggest single factor that handed Donald Trump enough votes to win the Electoral College was the fans of Bernie Sanders.  Let’s take a brief walk back through those times, shall we, for there are large parallels between 2016 and 2020.

Although Bernie was an Independent, when he threw his hat into the ring on May 26, 2015, he did so as a member of the Democratic Party, for the odds are so stacked against an Independent that most often they cannot qualify for debates, and will not be allowed on the ballots in many states. Bernie-Sanders-logoBernie ran his campaign much as he has this year, on a platform of populist, socialist, and social democratic politics, which gave him the support of a large portion of the under-40 crowd.  Then, as now, he focused on income and wealth inequality, which he argued is eroding the American middle class, and on campaign finance reform. Unlike most other major presidential candidates, Sanders eschewed an unlimited super PAC, instead choosing to receive most of his funding from direct individual campaign donations.

By the time of the final primary election in June, it was obvious that Clinton would be the nominee, and on July 12th, Sanders officially endorsed Clinton at a unity rally with her in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  But then … On July 22, 2016, various emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the governing body of the Democratic Party, were leaked and published, revealing apparent bias against the Sanders campaign on the part of the Committee and its chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz.  I have always believed this was part of the Russian campaign to put Trump into the Oval Office, but as far as I know, there is no evidence to support it, so I can only speculate.

Although the race was close, with Clinton leading by only 291 delegates before the superdelegates weighed in at the nominating convention, Hillary won the party’s nomination.  Sanders threw his support to Clinton, campaigned with her, and asked his supporters to please vote for Hillary Clinton.  But … his supporters were bitter about a number of things, especially the leaked DNC emails.  They also believed that the media had short-changed Bernie by covering his campaign significantly less than Clinton’s or Trump’s.

And thus began ‘Bernie or Bust’, a movement by some of Bernie’s die-hard supporters with the goal of taking votes away from Hillary Clinton.  They urged Democrats to write in Sanders, vote for a third-party candidate such as Jill Stein or Gary Johnson, or not to vote at all.  Sanders repeatedly said he would vote for Clinton in the general election in order to avoid a “disastrous” Trump presidency and encouraged his supporters to do the same, but few of his supporters listened.  If every Bernie supporter had given his or her vote to Hillary Clinton, we would have been talking and writing about President Clinton these past 38 months, even despite the Russian interference, despite Jim Comey, despite Hillary being “anatomically incorrect” in the eyes of some, and despite her lack of a ‘warm & fuzzy persona’.

All of which brings us to today and the looming 2020 election.  This year, it is Joe Biden vs Bernie Sanders, or as I’ve been calling it, the Bernie & Joe Show.  The circumstances are much the same as they were four years ago, with Biden leading in delegate count and almost certain to become the Democratic nominee in July.  Just this past Tuesday, in the three states that held Democratic primary elections – Illinois, Florida, and Arizona – Joe Biden was the clear winner in all three.  And already, “Bernie or Bust” and “Never Biden” movements are in full swing.

Allow me to share with you some of the comments from Bernie supporters …

  • “I can’t vote for Joe Biden. It feels like the party doesn’t want us — the people who were pushing for Bernie Sanders and were enthusiastic about it. I think it just means I don’t vote for president.”
  • “The rationale for us is that our votes need to be earned and that we’ve been taken for granted, and the party never moves to us. If they install Joe Biden, I will not vote for Biden. … This is not democratic what’s happening in the Democratic primary.”
  • “If we lose to Trump then hopefully within the next four years maybe an AOC or Rashida Tlaib would be able to run. Maybe there would be a better chance to save the planet.”
  • “I don’t think that I should put aside my values and vote out of fear. The DNC needs an overhaul, it lacks values, real leaders that represent the people not its donors.”
  • “For me not voting would be to send a message: what you’ve done is not OK. I wish there was a way to vote for Biden and still send that message.”

And those are just a sampling.  But I think what those comments tell us is that the Democratic Party has some work to do.  Unity.  The party is deeply divided at present, and you know that saying, “United we stand, divided we fall”?  It’s true.  I think that Joe Biden stands a very good chance to beat Donald Trump, especially considering that Trump has been shooting himself in the foot these past few weeks.  BUT … it will not happen unless both the party and the man get busy and unify the party.

The best-case scenario probably would have been for Joe Biden to pick Bernie to be his running mate, but that is not going to happen.  To his credit, Biden did say in Sunday night’s debate that he would chose a woman to be his running mate, which should help with women voters, at any rate.  The most likely is Kamala Harris, second most likely is Stacey Abrams.

My own personal choice was Elizabeth Warren, and when she dropped out, it became Bernie Sanders.  However, I believe Joe Biden to be at least as qualified as Hillary Clinton was in 2016, I believe that Bernie will support Joe if Joe is the nominee, and I will most assuredly vote for Biden.  I think that many of the younger voters who comprise “Bernie or Bust” fail to understand what another four years under Donald Trump would mean.  I think, based on all the comments I’ve seen, that they want to shake things up within the Democratic Party, and I understand that, for I share their frustration with the Party. Bernie-or-BustHowever, having watched the progressive destruction of our constitutional democratic republic over the past three years, and having studied at some length the current incumbent, his lack of values, lack of intelligence, and his monumental ego, I will throw my full support behind Joe Biden if he is the Democratic nominee, because I honestly believe that by 2024 the United States of America under Donald Trump would be a full-blown dictatorship, plain and simple.  If Trump is handed another four years, I do not believe there will be an election in 2024, but that Trump will have found a way to circumvent or disavow the U.S. Constitution and extend his term.  Nope, I am neither a conspiracy theorist nor a drama queen, but rather I am an observer with enough knowledge to understand what we are seeing.

What I ask of you is twofold.  First, please VOTE on November 3rd for whomever the Democratic nominee is.  Second, please, when you hear someone say they will throw away their vote either by staying home, writing in Bernie Sanders, or voting for a third-party candidate, try to talk to them.  Try to explain the dangers for the future if Trump is re-elected.

Discord & Dissension — Table of Contents

Just Another Snarky Thursday …

There are, apparently, only two news stories this week: Joe Biden & the coronavirus.


Joe Biden …

It was obvious from the day Joe Biden announced his candidacy in the 2020 election that he was the candidate Trump most feared.  Hence, the now-infamous call to the president of the Ukraine that got Trump impeached, and if we had conscionable senators, would have removed him from office.

Just to set the record straight before I go any further, it has already been proven that Joe Biden did nothing illegal when his son worked for Burisma in the Ukraine.  It has been discussed, investigated, etc., ad nauseam, and there is nothing.

For a time, when Bernie Sanders seemed to be coming out ahead of the pack, Trump dropped off on his rhetoric about Biden.  It was reported that Russia was not only intervening on Trump’s behalf, but also on Sanders’.  Why would they do that?  Well, Russia helped put Trump in office in 2016 because Putin saw a puppet he could use.  Putin could never have manipulated Hillary Clinton in the ways he has Trump, he understood that Trump would be easy to sway, and that was that.  It’s in Putin’s best interest to keep his puppet in the White House.  It’s largely believed that Trump could beat Bernie Sanders, if for no other reason that that label, ‘democratic socialist’, that Bernie wears.  So, if Russia helps Bernie, they help Trump as well.

But now, it appears that Trump’s nemesis on November 3rd may well be Joe Biden after all, so … the day after Biden’s Super Tuesday win, Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin attempted to plant a seed of doubt about Biden’s credibility.  He told reporters that the Senate Homeland Security Committee, of which Johnson is chairman, will be releasing an interim report on his panel’s probe of Hunter Biden’s ties to a Ukrainian gas company, Burisma.  Oh for Pete’s sake, get over it, Johnson!  ENOUGH already!  First, it has been clearly established that, while Hunter Biden may not have used good judgment, he broke no laws, and at any rate, it was nothing whatsoever to do with his father!  DROP IT!

But, Trump is clearly not going to drop it, either, for in an interview Wednesday night on Fox, he opined that it …

“will be a major issue in the campaign, I will bring that up all the time because I don’t see any way out.”

So … in other words, if you can’t win fair and square, then lie, cheat and steal!  Why should we be surprised, for that’s how he ‘won’ in 2016, though he didn’t actually win, for he lost by nearly 3 million votes!


Coronavirus …

In the U.S., it isn’t so much the virus itself that is making headline news, as the response of the loon in the White House.  He (Trump) has been on some sort of tirade for weeks now, as if somebody must have concocted the virus to personally offend him.  First, it was a hoax, or rather the media coverage of it was a hoax, designed to “bring him down”.  The latest?

Due to slow and insufficient response to the virus by the Trump administration, testing has been haphazard and inadequate.  But, since nothing can ever be Trump’s fault, it must be Obama’s fault, right?  BINGO!  He’s blaming Obama for the shortage of test kits (is there really a shortage of kits, or is it simply that they aren’t being distributed properly?) …

“The Obama administration made a decision on testing that turned out to be very detrimental to what we’re doing and we undid that decision a few days ago so that the testing can take place in a much more accurate and rapid fashion. That was a decision we disagreed with — I don’t think we would have made it — but for some reason it was made but we’ve undone that decision.”

As I said in this morning’s post … don’t believe a word of it.  But, as if that weren’t enough, Trump called in and had a chat with his good buddy Sean Hannity over at Fox last night.  Hannity asked Trump about the new estimate by the World Health Organization (WHO) that the global fatality rate for the coronavirus is around 3.4%.  Trump, however, had a ‘hunch’ …

“I think the 3.4% is really a false number. Now, this is just my hunch, based on a lot of conversations with a lot of people that do this, because a lot of people will have this, and it’s very mild – they’ll get better very rapidly, they don’t even see a doctor, they don’t even call a doctor. You never hear about those people, so you can’t put them down in the category of the overall population, in terms of this corona flu, and/or virus. So, you just can’t do that. You know, all of a sudden it seems like 3 or 4%, which is a very high number, as opposed to a fraction of 1%. So I think that that number is very high. I think the number, personally, I would say the number is way under 1%.”

I didn’t realize you could earn a medical degree at Wharton School of Business.  Obviously, Trump knows sooooo much more than the scientists and medical experts.  Who needs all those experts when we can just ask Trump for his latest ‘hunch’?


I don’t know about you guys, but I am getting damn sick and tired of the childish, harmful games that Trump and his republican sycophants are playing.  They have put their own interests much higher on their priority list than ours, and now are even willing to gamble with our very lives.  Let’s send them a HUGE message on November 3rd … Let’s send them all packing!

The Bernie & Joe Show

While there remain four candidates in the running for the Democratic nomination, it is obvious that there are really only two viable ones.  Tulsi Gabbard should have dropped out long before, as she never stood a snowball’s chance.  Mike Bloomberg, who won not a single state last night, announced he is dropping out this morning, and will be supporting Joe Biden.  And, much as I hate to see her go, the time has come for Elizabeth Warren to remove her hat and announce her support for either Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden.  Yep, folks, for the next four months it will be the Bernie & Joe Show.

A few of my own thoughts …

I am sometimes saddened and sometimes angry that the people of this country, even some who are supposedly liberal-minded and forward-thinking, are still too cowardly to actually elect a woman as president.  Why did Hillary Clinton lose?  Sure, Trump with the assistance of Russia, Julian Assange, and FBI Director James Comey sabotaged her campaign.  Sure, she had some baggage and she was lacking the ‘warm, fuzzy’ persona that people expect from a … woman.  Despite the Trump/Russian interference, despite the Bill Clinton debacle, and even despite her faux pas when she referred to republicans as ‘deplorables’, Hillary Clinton won the election by nearly 3 million votes.  If Hillary Clinton had been a man, if she had been “anatomically correct” for a presidential candidate, she would have swept the election and the electoral college, for she had experience, decorum, and intelligence.  All she lacked was a penis.

And it disgusts me that on the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment that gave women the right to vote in this nation, we still cannot pass an Equal Rights Amendment to legally give women equal rights under the Constitution.  Then again, we haven’t managed, after all these years, to pass an anti-lynching bill, either.  We still refuse to place a woman in the Oval Office.  Some churches in this country still teach that a woman’s place is in the home, barefoot and pregnant, subservient to her husband.  Elizabeth Warren would have made a great president.  Perhaps in another hundred years or so, the people of this country will accept that women are as capable as men of being leaders.  Obviously, it isn’t going to happen in my lifetime.

Another thing that disgusts me about the Democrats this year, or perhaps I should say about the Democratic Party, is that they are so determined to squeeze Bernie Sanders out.  Now, don’t get me wrong … I like Joe Biden just fine and will be happy as a lark if, by this time next year, we are talking about President Biden.  However, I don’t like the hatchet job that the Party is doing on Bernie Sanders.

There may be good reasons that Bernie is not the ‘best man for the job’, as our friend Gronda notes in her post this morning.    But, it should not be up to the Democratic Party to decide, nor the media.  It should be up to We the People.  That, my friends, is one of the principles upon which this nation was founded … that the people have the right to choose their leaders.  Will the people sometimes make mistakes?  Sure … that much is painfully obvious from the result we’ve lived with for over three years now.  But, it is still the people’s right to choose, not a handful of people who control the Party.

I would very much like to see the media use their loud voices to educate and inform, rather than to try to tell us what is good for us.  I’m willing to bet that more than half the people who are either registered Democrats or Independents don’t know the actual platforms of either Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders.  They hear that label, “democratic socialist” and that’s all they want to know.  They form their opinions directly from the opinions of whichever media personality they most like or most often watch.  The media could play such an important role, but instead they pander to gossip and emotion.

I strongly suspect that Joe Biden will be the Democratic nominee, and as I said, I’m fine with that.  I would love to see him pick Elizabeth Warren as his running mate, but I doubt that will happen.  My next best hope is that he will choose Senator Kamala Harris, who is an intelligent, well-spoken woman who I might have even voted for, had she not dropped out of the running early on.  It is time, folks, to drop those preconceived notions that a woman is “too emotional” or somehow just not qualified to sit in the Oval Office.  If Biden selects Harris, perhaps in time she will be our first woman president.  And about damn time, too!

So, folks, fasten your seat belts and prepare for the next four months of … The Bernie & Joe Show!

A Different Perspective About Bernie

Everywhere I look, I see pundits opining that Bernie Sanders is the worst possible choice for Democrats, that he is too far left, that moderates will never vote for him, that he cannot possibly beat Donald Trump.  It disturbs me to see even the democrats writing such drivel, but I hadn’t been able to come up with my own well-reasoned response, though I knew there was one somewhere inside this head, if only I could find it.  Well, once again Robert Reich comes to the rescue!

Calm down, establishment Democrats. Bernie Sanders might be the safest choice.
“Moderate” candidates won’t be electable if they can’t speak to middle- and working-class frustrations.

Robert Reich-4Right after Sen. Bernie Sanders’s big win in last week’s Nevada caucuses, Joe Lockhart, President Bill Clinton’s former press secretary, expressed the fear gripping the Democratic establishment in an op-ed for CNN: “I don’t believe the country is prepared to support a Democratic socialist, and I agree with the theory that Sanders would lose in a matchup against Trump.”

Like much of the party establishment, he is viewing American politics through outmoded lenses of left versus right, with Sanders (I-Vt.) on the far left and President Trump on the far right. So-called moderates such as former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg and former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg supposedly occupy the political center, appealing to a broader swath of the electorate.

This may have been the correct frame for politics decades ago, when America still had a growing middle class, but it’s obsolete today. As wealth and power have moved to the top and the middle class has shrunk, more Americans feel politically disempowered and economically insecure. Today’s main divide isn’t left versus right. It’s establishment versus anti-establishment.

Some background: In the fall of 2015, I visited Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Missouri and North Carolina, researching the changing nature of work for my book, “The System: Who Rigged It, How We Fix It.” I spoke with many of the same people I had met two decades prior, when I was secretary of labor, as well as some of their grown children. I asked them about their jobs and their views about the economy. I was most interested in their sense of our system as a whole and how they were faring in it.

What I heard surprised me. Twenty years before, most said they had been working hard and were frustrated that they weren’t doing better. Now they were angry — at their employers, the government and Wall Street; angry that they had not been able to save adequately for retirement, and that their children weren’t doing any better. Several had lost jobs, savings or homes during the Great Recession. By the time I spoke with them, most were employed, but the jobs hardly paid any more than they had years before.

I heard the phrase “rigged system” so often that I began asking people what they meant by it. They spoke about the bailout of the banks, political payoffs, insider deals and out-of-control CEO pay. The resentments came from self-identified Republicans, Democrats and independents; white, black, Latino and Asian American; union households and non-union. The common thread was that everyone was either middle or working class.

With the 2016 primaries on the horizon, I asked which candidates they found most attractive. At the time, party leaders favored Democratic former secretary of state Hillary Clinton or former Florida Republican governor Jeb Bush. But the people I spoke with repeatedly mentioned Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. They said Sanders or Trump would “shake things up,” “make the system work again,” “stop the corruption” or “end the rigging.”

The next year, Sanders — a Jewish, 74-year-old Vermonter and self-described Democratic socialist — barely lost to Clinton in the Iowa caucuses, beat her decisively in the New Hampshire primary, garnered 47 percent of the caucus-goers in Nevada and ended up with 45 percent of the pledged delegates from Democratic primaries and caucuses.

Trump, then a 69-year-old egomaniacal maybe-billionaire and reality TV star who had never held office and never had any previous standing in the Republican Party, won the GOP primaries and then went on to beat Clinton (though not, of course, in the popular vote), one of the most experienced and well-connected politicians in modern America.

It was seismic, and it cannot be fully explained by Sanders’s or Trump’s appeal to their core base voters. It was a rebellion against the establishment. Clinton and Bush started with all the advantages, but neither could credibly convince voters they were not part of the system.

A direct line connected decades of stagnant wages, the 2008 financial crisis, the rise of the tea party and the occupy movement and the emergence of Sanders and Trump in 2016. The people I spoke with no longer felt they had a fair chance to make it. National polls told much the same story: According to the Pew Research Center, the percentage of Americans who felt most people could get ahead through hard work dropped by 13 points between 2000 and 2015. In 2006, according to Gallup, 59 percent of Americans thought government corruption was widespread; by 2013, 79 percent did.

Trump galvanized millions of blue-collar voters living in places that never recovered from the tidal wave of factory closings. He promised to bring back jobs, revive manufacturing and get tough on trade and immigration. “We can’t continue to allow China to rape our country, and that’s what they’re doing,” he roared. “Five, 10 years from now — different party. You’re going to have a workers’ party,” he forecast. “A party of people that haven’t had a real wage increase in 18 years, that are angry.” He blasted politicians and financiers who “took away from the people their means of making a living and supporting their families.”

Trump’s populist pose, of course, was one of the biggest cons in American political history. Since his election he has given the denizens of C-suites and boardrooms almost everything they’ve wanted and hasn’t markedly improved the lives of his working-class supporters, even if his politically incorrect, in-your-face style continues to make many feel as if he’s taking on the system.

The frustrations today are larger than they were four years ago. Even though corporate profits and executive pay have soared, the typical worker’s pay has barely risen, jobs are less secure, and health care less affordable.

The best way for Democrats to defeat Trump’s fake populism is with the real thing, coupled with an agenda of systemic reform. This is what Sanders offers. For that reason, he has the best chance of generating the energy and enthusiasm needed to regain the White House.

He will need a coalition of young voters, people of color and the white working class. He seems on his way: In Nevada, according to entrance polls, he won with Latino voters and white voters, women and men, college and non-college graduates. He was the first choice of every age group except for over-65. Nationally, he is narrowing former vice president Joe Biden’s edge with African American voters.

In a general election, Republicans would surely do everything they can to tag Sanders with the “socialist” label. But that hasn’t hurt him so far, partly because it doesn’t come with the stigma it once did.

And worries about a Nixon-McGovern-like blowout in 2020 seem far-fetched. In 1972, the middle class was expanding, not contracting. Polls currently show Sanders tied with or beating Trump: A Quinnipiac poll released last week shows Sanders beating Trump head-to-head in Michigan and Pennsylvania (but shows Trump beating all Democrats head-to-head in Wisconsin). A CBS News-YouGov poll released this week has Sanders beating Trump nationally.

Instead of hand-wringing about Sanders’s electability, maybe establishment Democrats should worry that a “moderate” Democrat might be nominated instead.

Think about it …

The Week’s Best Cartoons ⚡ 2/22

And, to break the darkness of my last post, here is TokyoSand with the best cartoons of the week! Thank you, TS!

Political⚡Charge

Here are some of the best editorial cartoonists in the country with their visual opinions about this week’s news:

Trump Pardons / Roger Stone

By Steve Sack, Star Tribune

By Lalo Alcaraz

By Ann Telnaes, Washington Post

ByJim Morin, Miami Herald

Russia’s Back

By Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

By Bill Bramhall, New York Daily News

The Primary

By Signe Wilkinson, Philly Daily News & Philly Inquirer

ByDavid Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Daily Star

By Nate Beeler, The Columbus Dispatch

And Other News

By Nick Anderson

By Ed Hall

By Marc Murphy, Louisville Courier-Journal

ByDavid Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Daily Star

By Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Want an email with the political cartoon roundup every Saturday? Subscribe today!

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You can also find my…

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The “Great” Debate …

I actually managed to watch the full debate last night without once trying to punch my computer or throw it across the room.  In fact, there were several points at which I laughed aloud, causing the girls to look at me in awe, for it is a sound they don’t often hear coming from me these days.  Typically, I think the value of the debates is far over-rated by the pundits, but it is an opportunity to see the candidates speak for themselves, see how they handle pressure under fire.  But, if I want to know what their platform is, I will go to OnTheIssues.org  which is the best place I have found over the years to get all the candidates’ platforms in one place.

What follows is only my takeaway from last night’s debate.  I have no doubt that others will have different opinions, but since I gave up two hours of my life that I can never get back, I thought the least I could do is opine just a bit.

There are six democratic candidates left from the 20+ that entered the race:

  • Bernie Sanders
  • Elizabeth Warren
  • Joe Biden
  • Pete Buttigieg
  • Amy Klobuchar
  • Michael Bloomberg

The main reason I watched this debate last night … the first one I watched all the way through … was that I wanted to see how Mike Bloomberg handled the pressure of the questions he was inevitably going to get regarding his racist profiling in the stop-and-frisk policy he implemented in New York City, and the reports of sexist behaviour toward women in his businesses.  So, let me start with my take on Bloomberg’s performance last night.

The first word that comes to mind here is: arrogant.  His body language and facial expressions said:  I’m above all of this, I’m far above all these others, why am I even here?  Not one time did he actually smile, not once did he engage in any form of camaraderie with the others, and he rolled his eyes several times when asked a question that he felt unfair, or when critiqued by another candidate.  I sometimes think that body language and facial expressions tell as much as the words that come out of a person’s mouth.

But going beyond that, Mr. Bloomberg’s responses were unsatisfying, at best.  He seemed to defend his stop-and-frisk policy, though he has apologized for it.  But an apology is just words, and as they say, actions speak louder than words.  His defense of the reasons he started the policy was a turn-off for me.  Then there was the little matter of the treatment of women in his company.  Much of what women have alleged, Bloomberg denies, and yet … and yet, those women have been made to sign non-disclosure agreements.  One must ask why.  Elizabeth Warren called on Bloomberg to release the women from the agreements so the public could hear their allegations, but Bloomberg flatly refused.  According to much of what I have read, Bloomberg’s attitudes toward women, his vulgar language and crass remarks, are no better than Donald Trump’s.  If he wants transparency, what better place to start?

There were two candidates whose fire and genuine passion stood out last night:  Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.  The media have declared Sanders the winner of the debate, but in my humble opinion, while they were both great, I’d give Warren the prize.  Perhaps this is a slight prejudice on my part, for I frankly think the time has come for us to steer away from the old, white, male image of the presidency.  Nonetheless, Warren showed us what she’s made of, and I liked it.

Joe Biden.  Sigh.  Poor Joe … by most standards, and judging by history, Joe Biden should be the #1 frontrunner.  He has the most applicable experience, he understands foreign policy in a way that not a single one of the others do, and he has good ideas.  What he lacks, though, is the persona.  He simply hasn’t got the passion, seems to have lost his way somewhere along the line.  Perhaps it is still the effects of his son’s death that have turned his world to grey, or perhaps it is the constant barrage of mindless accusations by Donald Trump that have taken the wind out of his sails.  Either way, he just wasn’t quite … there.

I like Pete Buttigieg, though perhaps not quite as much as I did in the beginning.  A few things stood out last night, but the biggest one was his almost continual attacks on Amy Klobuchar, some of which seemed unfair, to say the least.  The media, and Pete, have made much of the fact that when asked the name of the president of Mexico last week, she couldn’t remember.  It has been blown far out of proportion, and Buttigieg seized on it last night … unrelentingly.  Heck, there are days that I cannot remember my own name, let alone the president of Mexico’s!  Buttigieg does his homework, but it would have shown humanity to have let it drop.  He disappointed me in his attacks on Klobuchar. Buttigieg has a few things in his favour with me, though, and one is that while the other five have a net worth in the millions, or in Bloomberg’s case, billions, Pete Buttigieg’s net worth is approximately $100,000.  This impresses me far more than Bloomberg’s $63 billion.

I thought Amy handled the stress of Pete’s attacks fairly well, but a few times she did seem overly emotional, such as when she said, “Are you trying to say that I’m dumb?” Far too much has been made over a bit of momentary forgetfulness, I think.  Overall, I was impressed with Ms. Klobuchar’s heart.  I believe she cares very much about people and would be a strong advocate for human rights, but I have to wonder if she’s a bit too emotional and too thin-skinned for the job of president, for more than once it seemed as if she was near tears.

As for the debate itself … two main takeaways.  First, while climate change and the environment was briefly discussed, it was altogether too brief.  When the DNC refused to hold a debate focused solely on climate change, they made a huge mistake, in my book, for this is the single most crucial issue on the ballot.  While each candidate said one of their first moves as president would be to re-join the Paris Accords, that’s about all we learned.  I want to know details!  I want to know more than the 5 minutes or so that climate change was discussed last night provided.

Secondly, I was put off and rather disgusted by the structure of the debate.  Candidates had small bits of time to answer a question, then when time was up they kept on talking, while all the others on stage were rudely interrupting, and with six people plus the moderators all talking at once, the closed captioning was useless and it was impossible to discern what anybody was saying.  I don’t know what the answer to this is for future debates, but I do wish somebody would come up with one.  It would have been far more helpful if all the candidates had stuck with giving their opinions of the issues rather than their opinions of their opponents.

Overall, I was glad I watched for I got a bit of a feel for the personas of the candidates, but as I said in the beginning, if I want to know their platforms and ideologies, I’ll turn to another venue.   Unfortunately, the infighting is doing nobody any good, and it is almost certain that no single candidate will end up with a clear majority by the time of the nominating convention in mid-July, which opens a whole ‘nother can of worms.  Sigh.

Democratic Jitters

As always, our friend Jeff over at On the Fence Voters is spot-on in his assessment of the current Democratic candidates and their campaigns. He has also drawn a scenario about Michael Bloomberg that, while it doesn’t please me, I certainly cannot argue otherwise. The goal that we must not lose sight of is to topple the bully-in-chief, for another four years under Trump, who has been handed the keys to the kingdom, is unthinkable. Good work, Jeff!

On The Fence Voters

It’s time to state the obvious: Beating Donald Trump must be the main objective in the 2020 election. While we all may have our personal favorites, and should proudly vote for that person in the primary, when it comes to November 3, whoever is the Democratic nominee deserves all of our support.

No matter who it is.

I know this upsets a lot of people. Ideological purity tests are running rampant all over social media. “But wait, he’s too far to the left.” “Hold on. We need to excite the base and increase the turnout. Only a real progressive can do that.” I’ve heard and seen them all. Everyone’s nerves are frayed. We know what the King is doing to our democracy, and none of us want to see what another four years of Trump will do to our beloved country.

Right now, the bane of all of the hand-wringing…

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Some Food For Thought …

Like many of you, I’m extremely disappointed in the events of the past few days … the Iowa caucus chaos, the State of the Union reality show, and of course the Senate’s unconscionable acquittal of the most corrupt and criminal president in history.  To say that I’m discouraged would be an understatement.  I am overwhelmed, burned out by the onslaught of news and the number of times the face of the ugliest man in history has cropped up on my computer screen.  I’ve spent the last three hours trying to pull together a meaningful post, and finally gave up … decided there would be no morning post on Filosofa’s Word today.  But then, I stumbled across Robert Reich’s latest video.  I’ve shared his work before … he is intelligent, well experienced in government, and has a good head on his shoulders.

This video is from Tuesday, the day of the State of the Union address, and in it, Reich puts forth some thought-provoking premises about why we are where we are today, and what Democrats must do in order to beat Trump in November.  Much of what he says, we have all talked about before, but he puts it all together in a way that makes us stop and think for a moment.  Now if only we can get the democratic candidates to watch the video!

Take a look, let me know your thoughts, and I hope to get a bit of sleep and come out of the rabbit hole in time for my afternoon post.

Wine Caves and Chandeliers

It is rare that our friend Jeff over at On the Fence Voters steps up on the ol’ soapbox and lets forth a rant, but when he does, he does it with far more grace than I do! Tonight’s rant is about how politicians finance their campaigns and what the ramifications are for We the People. Take a look …

On The Fence Voters

My good friend over at Filosofa’s Word, Jill Dennison, likes to warn when there’s a rant ahead. So, Jill, I hope you don’t mind, but I feel the need to notify of an impending rant.

Perhaps it’s the non-stop rain here in the Pacific Northwest, or maybe it’s the grey skies. Whatever the case, something got under my skin from the Democratic debate on Thursday night, and today it’s boiling over.

The whole thing started when Senator Elizabeth Warren went after Mayor Pete Buttigieg, bringing up a recent fundraiser he had in Napa Valley wine country at the lavish home of real estate developer Craig Hall and his wife, Kathryn. The property features a wine cave, with bottles selling for hundreds of dollars each. Photos of the event showed a long table decorated lavishly, with a large crystal chandelier hanging overhead.

But my rant isn’t about Warren going after Mayor…

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Robert Reich: Make America Decent Again

When I first read Robert Reich’s latest column, I wasn’t sure I agreed with him, but the more I’ve thought about it, what he says makes a great deal of sense.  Take a look and let me know your thoughts …


Donald Trump fears only one Democrat: Warren Sanders

By Robert Reich

Robert Reich-4There aren’t 20 Senate Republicans with enough integrity to remove the most corrupt president in American history, so we’re going to have to get rid of Trump the old-fashioned way – by electing a Democrat next 3 November.

That Democrat will be Warren Sanders.

Although there are differences between Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, I’m putting them together for the purpose of making a simple point.

These two have most of the grassroots energy in the 2020 campaign, most of the enthusiasm and most of the ideas critical for America’s future.

Together, they lead Joe Biden and every other so-called moderate Democrat by a wide margin in all polls.

That’s because the real political divide in America today is establishment versus anti-establishment – the comparatively few at the top who have siphoned off much of the wealth of the nation versus everyone else whose wages and prospects have gone nowhere.

Warren and Sanders know the system is rigged and that economic and political power must be reallocated from a corporate-Wall Street elite to the vast majority.

This is why both Warren and Sanders are hated by the Democratic establishment.

It’s also why much of the corporate press is ignoring the enthusiasm they’re generating. And why it’s picking apart their proposals, like a wealth tax and Medicare for All, as if they were specific pieces of legislation.

And why corporate and Wall Street Democrats are mounting a campaign to make Americans believe Warren and Sanders are “too far to the left” to beat Trump, and therefore “unelectable”.

This is total rubbish. Either of them has a better chance of beating Trump than does any other Democratic candidate.

Presidential elections are determined by turnout. More than a third of eligible voters in America don’t vote. They go to the polls only if they’re motivated. And what motivates people most is a candidate who stands for average people and against power and privilege.

Average Americans know they’re getting the scraps while corporate profits are at record highs and CEOs and Wall Street executives are pocketing unprecedented pay and bonuses.

They know big money has been flooding Washington and state capitals to cut taxes on corporations and the wealthy; roll back health, safety, environment and labor protections; and allow big business to monopolize the economy, using its market power to keep prices high and wages low.

Most Americans want to elect someone who’s on their side.

In 2016 some voted for Trump because he conned them into believing he was that person.

But he’s given big corporations and Wall Street everything they’ve wanted: rollbacks of health, safety, and environmental protections, plus a giant $2tn tax cut that’s boosted stock prices and executive pay while nothing trickled down.

Trump is still fooling millions into thinking he’s on their side, and that their problems are due to immigrants, minorities, cultural elites and “deep state” bureaucrats, rather than a system that’s rigged for the benefit of those at the top.

But some of these Trump supporters would join with other Americans and vote for a candidate in 2020 who actually took on power and privilege.

This is where Warren and Sanders come in.

Their core proposals would make the system work for everyone and alter the power structure in America: Medicare for All based on a single-payer rather than private for-profit corporate insurance; a Green New Deal to create millions of good jobs fighting climate change; free public higher education; universal childcare.

All financed mainly by a tax on the super-rich.

They’d also get big money out of politics and rescue democracy from the corporate and Wall Street elites who now control it.

They’re the only candidates relying on small donations rather than trolling for big handouts from corporations, Wall Street and the wealthy – or rich enough to self-finance their own campaigns.

Only two things stand in their way of becoming president.

The first is the power structure itself, which is trying to persuade Democrats that they should put up a milquetoast moderate instead.

The second is the possibility that as the primary season heats up, supporters of Warren and Sanders will wage war on each other, taking both of them down.

It’s true that only one of them can be the nominee. But if the backers of both Sanders and Warren come together behind one of them, they’ll have the votes to take the White House and even flip the Senate.

President Warren Sanders can then start clearing the wreckage left by Trump, and make America decent again.