Michelle Obama, A True First Lady Of Grace & Dignity

Last night was the first night of the Democratic National Convention … a much different affair than in years past!  I must admit that I did not watch all of it … did not watch any of it live, for I was otherwise occupied, but I went back later and listened to the speeches by Bernie Sanders and Michelle Obama.  Both were good, but … man, Michelle Obama knocked it out of the park!  At times, her voice quivered and I felt tears welling (not that unusual these days).

I remember back during the presidency of John F. Kennedy, often referred to as ‘Camelot’, and how Jaqueline Kennedy was so revered as a lady of charm, grace and dignity.  It would be 2009, when the Obamas moved into the White House before we would again see such a First Lady.  Michelle Obama was no wilting rose, she was a woman of courage and convictions, and also one of grace and dignity.  The Obama years were virtually scandal-free … no sexual liaisons, no errant daughters, no … nothing but quiet dignity.  Oh how I miss those days!  At any rate, for those who may have missed Ms. Obama’s speech, I wanted to present both a transcript and the video here today. 


Good evening, everyone. It’s a hard time, and everyone’s feeling it in different ways. And I know a lot of folks are reluctant to tune into a political convention right now or to politics in general. Believe me, I get that. But I am here tonight because I love this country with all my heart, and it pains me to see so many people hurting.

I’ve met so many of you. I’ve heard your stories. And through you, I have seen this country’s promise. And thanks to so many who came before me, thanks to their toil and sweat and blood, I’ve been able to live that promise myself.

That’s the story of America. All those folks who sacrificed and overcame so much in their own times because they wanted something more, something better for their kids.

There’s a lot of beauty in that story. There’s a lot of pain in it, too, a lot of struggle and injustice and work left to do. And who we choose as our president in this election will determine whether or not we honor that struggle and chip away at that injustice and keep alive the very possibility of finishing that work.

I am one of a handful of people living today who have seen firsthand the immense weight and awesome power of the presidency. And let me once again tell you this: the job is hard. It requires clear-headed judgment, a mastery of complex and competing issues, a devotion to facts and history, a moral compass, and an ability to listen—and an abiding belief that each of the 330,000,000 lives in this country has meaning and worth.

A president’s words have the power to move markets. They can start wars or broker peace. They can summon our better angels or awaken our worst instincts. You simply cannot fake your way through this job.

As I’ve said before, being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are. Well, a presidential election can reveal who we are, too. And four years ago, too many people chose to believe that their votes didn’t matter. Maybe they were fed up. Maybe they thought the outcome wouldn’t be close. Maybe the barriers felt too steep. Whatever the reason, in the end, those choices sent someone to the Oval Office who lost the national popular vote by nearly 3,000,000 votes.

In one of the states that determined the outcome, the winning margin averaged out to just two votes per precinct—two votes. And we’ve all been living with the consequences.

When my husband left office with Joe Biden at his side, we had a record-breaking stretch of job creation. We’d secured the right to health care for 20,000,000 people. We were respected around the world, rallying our allies to confront climate change. And our leaders had worked hand-in-hand with scientists to help prevent an Ebola outbreak from becoming a global pandemic.

Four years later, the state of this nation is very different. More than 150,000 people have died, and our economy is in shambles because of a virus that this president downplayed for too long. It has left millions of people jobless. Too many have lost their health care; too many are struggling to take care of basic necessities like food and rent; too many communities have been left in the lurch to grapple with whether and how to open our schools safely. Internationally, we’ve turned our back, not just on agreements forged by my husband, but on alliances championed by presidents like Reagan and Eisenhower.

And here at home, as George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and a never-ending list of innocent people of color continue to be murdered, stating the simple fact that a Black life matters is still met with derision from the nation’s highest office.

Because whenever we look to this White House for some leadership or consolation or any semblance of steadiness, what we get instead is chaos, division, and a total and utter lack of empathy.

Empathy: that’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. The ability to walk in someone else’s shoes; the recognition that someone else’s experience has value, too. Most of us practice this without a second thought. If we see someone suffering or struggling, we don’t stand in judgment. We reach out because, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” It is not a hard concept to grasp. It’s what we teach our children.

And like so many of you, Barack and I have tried our best to instill in our girls a strong moral foundation to carry forward the values that our parents and grandparents poured into us. But right now, kids in this country are seeing what happens when we stop requiring empathy of one another. They’re looking around wondering if we’ve been lying to them this whole time about who we are and what we truly value.

They see people shouting in grocery stores, unwilling to wear a mask to keep us all safe. They see people calling the police on folks minding their own business just because of the color of their skin. They see an entitlement that says only certain people belong here, that greed is good, and winning is everything because as long as you come out on top, it doesn’t matter what happens to everyone else. And they see what happens when that lack of empathy is ginned up into outright disdain.

They see our leaders labeling fellow citizens enemies of the state while emboldening torch-bearing white supremacists. They watch in horror as children are torn from their families and thrown into cages, and pepper spray and rubber bullets are used on peaceful protestors for a photo-op.

Sadly, this is the America that is on display for the next generation. A nation that’s underperforming not simply on matters of policy but on matters of character. And that’s not just disappointing; it’s downright infuriating, because I know the goodness and the grace that is out there in households and neighborhoods all across this nation.

And I know that regardless of our race, age, religion, or politics, when we close out the noise and the fear and truly open our hearts, we know that what’s going on in this country is just not right. This is not who we want to be.

So what do we do now? What’s our strategy? Over the past four years, a lot of people have asked me, “When others are going so low, does going high still really work?” My answer: going high is the only thing that works, because when we go low, when we use those same tactics of degrading and dehumanizing others, we just become part of the ugly noise that’s drowning out everything else. We degrade ourselves. We degrade the very causes for which we fight.

But let’s be clear: going high does not mean putting on a smile and saying nice things when confronted by viciousness and cruelty. Going high means taking the harder path. It means scraping and clawing our way to that mountain top. Going high means standing fierce against hatred while remembering that we are one nation under God, and if we want to survive, we’ve got to find a way to live together and work together across our differences.

And going high means unlocking the shackles of lies and mistrust with the only thing that can truly set us free: the cold hard truth.

So let me be as honest and clear as I possibly can. Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country. He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us. It is what it is.

Now, I understand that my message won’t be heard by some people. We live in a nation that is deeply divided, and I am a Black woman speaking at the Democratic Convention. But enough of you know me by now. You know that I tell you exactly what I’m feeling. You know I hate politics. But you also know that I care about this nation. You know how much I care about all of our children.

So if you take one thing from my words tonight, it is this: if you think things cannot possibly get worse, trust me, they can; and they will if we don’t make a change in this election. If we have any hope of ending this chaos, we have got to vote for Joe Biden like our lives depend on it.

I know Joe. He is a profoundly decent man, guided by faith. He was a terrific vice president. He knows what it takes to rescue an economy, beat back a pandemic, and lead our country. And he listens. He will tell the truth and trust science. He will make smart plans and manage a good team. And he will govern as someone who’s lived a life that the rest of us can recognize.

When he was a kid, Joe’s father lost his job. When he was a young senator, Joe lost his wife and his baby daughter. And when he was vice president, he lost his beloved son. So Joe knows the anguish of sitting at a table with an empty chair, which is why he gives his time so freely to grieving parents. Joe knows what it’s like to struggle, which is why he gives his personal phone number to kids overcoming a stutter of their own.

His life is a testament to getting back up, and he is going to channel that same grit and passion to pick us all up, to help us heal and guide us forward.

Now, Joe is not perfect. And he’d be the first to tell you that. But there is no perfect candidate, no perfect president. And his ability to learn and grow—we find in that the kind of humility and maturity that so many of us yearn for right now. Because Joe Biden has served this nation his entire life without ever losing sight of who he is; but more than that, he has never lost sight of who we are, all of us.

Joe Biden wants all of our kids to go to a good school, see a doctor when they’re sick, live on a healthy planet. And he’s got plans to make all of that happen. Joe Biden wants all of our kids, no matter what they look like, to be able to walk out the door without worrying about being harassed or arrested or killed. He wants all of our kids to be able to go to a movie or a math class without being afraid of getting shot. He wants all our kids to grow up with leaders who won’t just serve themselves and their wealthy peers but will provide a safety net for people facing hard times.

And if we want a chance to pursue any of these goals, any of these most basic requirements for a functioning society, we have to vote for Joe Biden in numbers that cannot be ignored. Because right now, folks who know they cannot win fair and square at the ballot box are doing everything they can to stop us from voting. They’re closing down polling places in minority neighborhoods. They’re purging voter rolls. They’re sending people out to intimidate voters, and they’re lying about the security of our ballots. These tactics are not new.

But this is not the time to withhold our votes in protest or play games with candidates who have no chance of winning. We have got to vote like we did in 2008 and 2012. We’ve got to show up with the same level of passion and hope for Joe Biden. We’ve got to vote early, in person if we can. We’ve got to request our mail-in ballots right now, tonight, and send them back immediately and follow-up to make sure they’re received. And then, make sure our friends and families do the same.

We have got to grab our comfortable shoes, put on our masks, pack a brown bag dinner and maybe breakfast too, because we’ve got to be willing to stand in line all night if we have to.

Look, we have already sacrificed so much this year. So many of you are already going that extra mile. Even when you’re exhausted, you’re mustering up unimaginable courage to put on those scrubs and give our loved ones a fighting chance. Even when you’re anxious, you’re delivering those packages, stocking those shelves, and doing all that essential work so that all of us can keep moving forward.

Even when it all feels so overwhelming, working parents are somehow piecing it all together without child care. Teachers are getting creative so that our kids can still learn and grow. Our young people are desperately fighting to pursue their dreams.

And when the horrors of systemic racism shook our country and our consciences, millions of Americans of every age, every background rose up to march for each other, crying out for justice and progress.

This is who we still are: compassionate, resilient, decent people whose fortunes are bound up with one another. And it is well past time for our leaders to once again reflect our truth.

So, it is up to us to add our voices and our votes to the course of history, echoing heroes like John Lewis who said, “When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something.” That is the truest form of empathy: not just feeling, but doing; not just for ourselves or our kids, but for everyone, for all our kids.

And if we want to keep the possibility of progress alive in our time, if we want to be able to look our children in the eye after this election, we have got to reassert our place in American history. And we have got to do everything we can to elect my friend, Joe Biden, as the next president of the United States.

Thank you all. God bless.

♫ Where Have All The Flowers Gone? ♫ (Redux)

This song suits my mood tonight.  I think perhaps it suits the state of our nation tonight.

Pete-Seeger-1

Pete Seeger (May 3, 1919 – January 27, 2014)

Pete Seeger, who died in January 2014 at the age of 94, wrote this song, and the following is his story of how the song came to be:

“I had been reading a long novel—”And Quiet Flows the Don”—about the Don River in Russia and the Cossacks who lived along it in the 19th century. It describes the Cossack soldiers galloping off to join the Czar’s army, singing as they go. Three lines from a song are quoted in the book: ‘Where are the flowers? The girls plucked them / Where are the girls? They’re all married / Where are the men? They’re all in the army.’ I never got around to looking up the song, but I wrote down those three lines.

“Later, in an airplane, I was dozing, and it occurred to me that the line ‘long time passing’—which I had also written in a notebook—would sing well. Then I thought, ‘When will we ever learn.’ Suddenly, within 20 minutes, I had a song. There were just three verses. I Scotch-taped the song to a microphone and sang it at Oberlin College. This was in 1955.

“One of the students there had a summer job as a camp counselor. He took the song to the camp and sang it to the kids. It was very short. He gave it rhythm, which I hadn’t done. The kids played around with it, singing ‘Where have all the counselors gone? / Open curfew, everyone.’

“The counselor added two actual verses: ‘Where have all the soldiers gone? / Gone to graveyards every one / Where have all the graveyards gone? / Covered with flowers every one.’ Joe Hickerson is his name, and I give him 20 percent of the royalties. That song still brings in thousands of dollars from all around the world.”

bernie sandersThe song has been recorded by many, including Joan Baez, The Kingston Trio, Olivia Newton-John and even Dolly Parton, but the one that surprised me was Bernie Sanders!  Yep, the one and only Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont apparently produced an album in 1987, 20 years before becoming a senator, titled We Shall Overcome.  Who knew?

My favourite version of the song has always been Peter, Paul & Mary’s, but tonight I came across a version Seeger did sometime late in life, playing banjo and singing, and I found it moving.  So, I am including both here, and you can pick one or listen to both.  Or neither, I suppose, but then my feelings would be hurt, so listen to at least one, ‘k?

Where Have All the Flowers Gone
Pete Seeger/Peter, Paul & Mary

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the flowers gone?
Girls have picked them every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the young girls gone?
Taken husbands every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young men gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young men gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the young men gone?
Gone for soldiers every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Covered with flowers every one
When will we ever learn?
When will we ever learn?

Songwriters: Peter Seeger
Where Have All the Flowers Gone lyrics © The Bicycle Music Company

♫ Where Have All The Flowers Gone? ♫

This song suits my mood tonight.  I think perhaps it suits the state of our nation tonight.  I have played this before, at least twice, and a total coincidence, but the last time I played it was on this exact date last year, following a mass shooting in Virginia Beach.  Tonight, it isn’t a mass shooting, but it is a nation on fire that has my angst meter running at high speed.  It makes that one line, “When will we ever learn?” all the more meaningful.  I think, perhaps, the answer to that question is “Never”


Pete-Seeger-1

Pete Seeger (May 3, 1919 – January 27, 2014)

Pete Seeger, who died in January 2014 at the age of 94, wrote this song, and the following is his story of how the song came to be:

“I had been reading a long novel—”And Quiet Flows the Don”—about the Don River in Russia and the Cossacks who lived along it in the 19th century. It describes the Cossack soldiers galloping off to join the Czar’s army, singing as they go. Three lines from a song are quoted in the book: ‘Where are the flowers? The girls plucked them / Where are the girls? They’re all married / Where are the men? They’re all in the army.’ I never got around to looking up the song, but I wrote down those three lines.

“Later, in an airplane, I was dozing, and it occurred to me that the line ‘long time passing’—which I had also written in a notebook—would sing well. Then I thought, ‘When will we ever learn.’ Suddenly, within 20 minutes, I had a song. There were just three verses. I Scotch-taped the song to a microphone and sang it at Oberlin College. This was in 1955.

“One of the students there had a summer job as a camp counselor. He took the song to the camp and sang it to the kids. It was very short. He gave it rhythm, which I hadn’t done. The kids played around with it, singing ‘Where have all the counselors gone? / Open curfew, everyone.’

“The counselor added two actual verses: ‘Where have all the soldiers gone? / Gone to graveyards every one / Where have all the graveyards gone? / Covered with flowers every one.’ Joe Hickerson is his name, and I give him 20 percent of the royalties. That song still brings in thousands of dollars from all around the world.”

bernie sandersThe song has been recorded by many, including Joan Baez, The Kingston Trio, Olivia Newton-John and even Dolly Parton, but the one that surprised me was Bernie Sanders!  Yep, the one and only Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont apparently produced an album in 1987, 20 years before becoming a senator, titled We Shall Overcome.  Who knew?

My favourite version of the song has always been Peter, Paul & Mary’s, but tonight I came across a version Seeger did sometime late in life, playing banjo and singing, and I found it moving.  So, I am including both here, and you can pick one or listen to both.  Or neither, I suppose, but then my feelings would be hurt, so listen to at least one, ‘k?

Where Have All the Flowers Gone
Pete Seeger/Peter, Paul & Mary

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the flowers gone?
Girls have picked them every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the young girls gone?
Taken husbands every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young men gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young men gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the young men gone?
Gone for soldiers every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Covered with flowers every one
When will we ever learn?
When will we ever learn?

Songwriters: Peter Seeger
Where Have All the Flowers Gone lyrics © The Bicycle Music Company

Discord & Dissension — Part XIV — How To Lose An Election

I was pondering what direction to take for this week’s Discord & Dissension post when something crossed my radar that caused my jaw to drop, made me sit up and really take notice.  It disturbed me so badly that it sent me plummeting back into the rabbit hole from which I had only recently emerged, as I thought:  If this is what Democrats are thinking of Biden, we’re doomed.

But I’m not a quitter, and we’ve got 28 weeks left to try to turn things around.  This election season is like none in history, with no campaign rallies, little advertising that I have seen, but then I don’t watch television, and who knows whether there will even be national conventions or debates?

I am an Independent, though most assume I am a registered Democrat, but I am pulling for the Democrats and will be voting Democrat, needless to say.  Joe Biden is the presumptive nominee for the Democratic Party, and the only choice other than Donald Trump, a criminal and conman who currently resides in the White House.  Now, what I want to talk to you about today is … inspiration, motivation, passion, and support.  The thing that set me off on this tangent was this cartoon …Biden

What bothered me about it … well, a couple of things.  One, is that it paints Biden as totally worthless, not much better than a brick, and the cartoonist’s point was, “Okay, Biden is worthless with no redeeming qualities, but hey, he’s better than Trump.”  Well friends, a tarantula is better than Trump, but it won’t win an election.  Now granted, there are groups whose motto is “Vote blue, no matter who”, but the reality is that it won’t win the election, either.

In a retrospective of the 2016 election, we can define certain hurdles, obstacles, which played a role in the defeat of the more worthy, more experienced, more intelligent candidate, Hillary Clinton.  Heavily gerrymandered states that dilute the vote of poor and minorities who typically vote Democrat.  The Russian influence and attempts to hurt Clinton’s image while helping Trump is well-documented, contrary to what Trump claims.  In Republican-led states, various dirty tricks were used to disenfranchise voters.  And, of course the media played a role by giving Trump, rather an anomaly at the time, nearly unlimited airtime … free airtime.

All of those obstacles still exist going into the 2020 election, but we have newly added hurdles.  Due to the coronavirus, most primaries have been pushed back until June or July, and it’s questionable whether or how they will happen even then.  The nominating conventions are a big question mark.  And, the biggest potential hurdle is the election on November 3rd.  Will it be safe to visit the polls, where hundreds of people are packed into a high school gymnasium?  The obvious answer is to immediately plan for voting by mail in all 50 states, but the Republicans are fighting that one tooth and nail.  Not to mention that Donald Trump seems to be on a one-man crusade to cause the United States Postal Service to become officially bankrupt around June, which could throw a wrench the size of Seattle into that plan.

So, as you can see, if the Democrats are to oust Donald Trump in November, they have a huge task ahead of them, and only 28 weeks in which to accomplish it.  Time to get busy, but denigrating Joe Biden is definitely not the way to go about it!

Joe Biden has a very good platform.  Yes, it is more moderate than either Bernie’s or Elizabeth’s, but in truth, Bernie Sanders would never have been able to get half of his ideas passed into law.  His ideas were great, and I fully supported them, while at the same time realizing that in reality, they were a roadmap, a goal for some point in the future, and would be achieved only over time, one step at a time, two steps forward and one step back.  I think that Biden’s platform is more realistic, while at the same time, putting people first, people over corporate profits.  Let’s take a look at some of Biden’s talking points …

Let’s start with some of the things that are the highest priority to the average person.

  • There can be no issue more relevant, more critical, than the environment  and combating climate change. He will re-commit to the Paris Climate Accord and take the steps to ensure the U.S. achieves a 100% clean energy economy and reaches net-zero emissions no later than 2050, including regulations that go well beyond those that were in place before Trump rolled back every single one in 2017.
  • Health care  is on everyone’s minds these days.  President Obama’s administration, which included Joe Biden, developed the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  While not perfect, it was the first step in a progressive program that would have led to Universal Healthcare.  ACA was working until Donald Trump arrived on the scene and began decimating it.  While others would tear down ACA and start over with something akin to Medicare for all, Biden is in favour of building on the foundation of ACA, expanding and enhancing it.
  • Minimum wage was last raised on July 24th, 2009. At that time, it was raised from $6.55 to $7.25, where it has been for nearly eleven years, and remains today.  Republicans have fought against raising the federal minimum wage because it would raise costs to business, thereby cutting into the corporate profits.  Biden supports immediately raising the federal minimum wage to $15.
  • One of the issues I consider most important is that of gun regulations. There was absolutely no reason for the assault weapon ban to be allowed to expire, and since it did, nobody in the federal government even talks about re-instating it.  Nobody is willing to discuss enhanced background checks, restrictions on those found guilty of domestic violence, and just to breathe the notion of limits on number of guns a person can own will make you a target.  Biden’s plan includes holding gun manufacturers accountable, and banning the production and sale of assault weapons for non-military use.

Needless to say, I have only covered the tip of the iceberg.  Biden’s platform covers a number of topics from bankruptcy reform to immigration, from infrastructure to LGBTQ rights.  I can only cover a small bit here, but please, I urge you, go to and check out his views on the issues … I think you’ll find that he has some very progressive ideas.

No, Joe Biden isn’t Bernie.  He doesn’t have the fire and passion that both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have.  But, Joe has good ideas, workable ideas, and ideas that may just even float in Congress.  Joe takes a stand for We the People, for those of us working and struggling to take care of our families, to get ahead a bit.  Donald Trump takes a stand for the wealthy capitalists and to hell with We the People.  Now really, my friends … which do you want?

Okay, if you don’t want Trump, whether you’re a Bernie fan, or simply a “vote blue, no matter who” supporter, you’re going to have to find a way to generate some genuine enthusiasm for Joe Biden.  Not just, “Well, he sucks, but he’s better than Trump”.  That attitude won’t get it!  It won’t win the election on November 3rd.  What it will do is cause an even higher number to stay home, either because they see no reason to vote, or because they think they are making some sort of a statement.

Get excited, folks!  Show some enthusiasm, else you’re likely to find out, in case you ever wondered, how the average German citizen felt by the end of 1933.  No, I’m not being an alarmist, not being a drama queen … I am being dead serious.

Please, folks, no more cartoons like the one at the beginning of this post, or like …

apathy

apathyboring-bidenThese do not help the cause, they actually help Trump more than anybody, and those of us who truly care about having a president who knows what he’s doing, who cares about the people of this nation, do not find them remotely funny.

Joe Biden has been endorsed by President Obama, by Bernie Sanders, by Elizabeth Warren, and numerous members of Congress, ambassadors, governors, and others far too numerous to list.  This is likely to be the single most critical election in our lifetimes, the one that will define the next 50-100 years or more of the nation.  It is the one that will decide whether the U.S. Constitution of 1787 will survive, or be buried forever.

Discord & Dissension — Table of Contents

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.