Dismal Calamities

I now began to consider seriously with myself concerning my own case, and how I should dispose of myself; that is to say, whether I should resolve to stay in London or shut up my house and flee, as many of my neighbours did. I have set this particular down so fully, because I know not but it may be of moment to those who come after me, if they come to be brought to the same distress, and to the same manner of making their choice; and therefore I desire this account may pass with them rather for a direction to themselves to act by than a history of my actings, seeing it may not be of one farthing value to them to note what became of me.

I had two important things before me: the one was the carrying on my business and shop, which was considerable, and in which was embarked all my effects in the world; and the other was the preservation of my life in so dismal a calamity as I saw apparently was coming upon the whole city, and which, however great it was, my fears perhaps, as well as other people’s, represented to be much greater than it could be.

– Daniel Defoe, A Journal of the Plague Year (1722)

This week’s featured post is “Coronavirus Reaches My Town, and other notes“.

This week everybody was talking about Joe Biden

It’s hard to remember that just two weeks ago, the talking heads were saying that Super Tuesday might give Bernie Sanders an insurmountable lead in the delegate count. The splintered field of his opponents might be able to deny him a first-ballot victory, but none would get close enough to claim that they deserved the nomination instead.

Then South Carolina happened. Joe Biden won big, particularly among black voters (who hadn’t been a big factor in the previous contests). Then Tom Steyer dropped out of the race. Then Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar dropped out of the race and endorsed Biden. (Trevor Noah: “We all know that once a gay guy sets a trend, white women won’t be far behind.”)

The ground seemed to be shifting, but it still looked like Sanders would come out of Super Tuesday with a delegate lead, though maybe not an insurmountable one.

And then it was Super Tuesday. And while Sanders did win the California primary (or so we think, the final results are still not in), Biden swept the South by such large margins (and also won in Minnesota and Massachusetts) that he became the delegate leader. That caused Mike Bloomberg to withdraw and endorse Biden. Then Elizabeth Warren (who I voted for) also dropped out. (More about her below.)

Tomorrow is another round of primaries, with basically two candidates rather than half a dozen, and now the talking heads are wondering if Biden will emerge with an insurmountable lead.

I’m thinking we should maybe wait and see. A series of unlikely things just happened bang-bang-bang, so I’m reluctant to assume that everything will settle down and be predictable from here on.

The analysis of Michigan (which votes tomorrow, along with Mississippi, Missouri, Washington state, North Dakota, and Idaho) is particularly interesting: Sanders narrowly won Michigan over Hillary Clinton in 2016, a surprise victory that kept his campaign going at a time when things were beginning to look hopeless.

He won then on the strength of his support from white working-class voters, particularly rural and small-town ones. But something has happened to that support between 2016 and 2020.

Mr. Sanders has so far failed to match his 2016 strength across the white, working-class North this year, and that suggests it will be hard for him to win Michigan.

This pattern has held without exception this primary season. It was true in Iowa and New Hampshire against Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar. It was true in Maine, Minnesota, Massachusetts and even Vermont on Super Tuesday against Mr. Biden.

Over all, Mr. Biden defeated Mr. Sanders by 10 points, 38 percent to 28 percent, in counties across Maine, Minnesota and Massachusetts where white voters made up at least 80 percent of the electorate and where college graduates represented less than 40 percent of the electorate.

One possibility: Sanders’ 2016 support was more anti-Hillary than pro-Bernie. And that raises the question: Did traditionally minded voters support a man over a woman, without ever enlisting in the progressive movement?

Meanwhile, let’s think about what did happen on Super Tuesday. My social media feed includes a lot of Sanders supporters, who were quick to see a DNC conspiracy behind Biden’s resurgence. I’m seeing a lot of “The DNC is screwing up the same way it did in 2016” posts.

However, it’s hard for me to see what the DNC has to do with anything. The candidates all did sensible candidate-like things: They dropped out after a major defeat left them without a viable path to their goal, and they endorsed the remaining candidate whose policies best matched the ones they’d been running on.

The real authors of these surprising two weeks have been the voters. Attributing Biden’s surge to “the DNC” or “the billionaire class” simply ignores the millions of people who voted for him. It’s especially disturbing given that Biden’s vote totals were driven largely by black voters, who have been disenfranchised and depersonalized often enough in American history, without liberals doing it again now. Michael Harriot at The Root is just not having it.

Sanders’ political failings are his own, and black people are not here to channel the political yearnings of white progressives. We are not here to carry your water or clean up your mess.

Blaming the DNC also allows the progressive movement to put aside a bunch of challenging questions, like: Why aren’t more voters attracted to progressive proposals that are intended to benefit them? Does the movement need to change those policies? Or the messaging around those policies? Or the kinds of candidates the movement puts forward?

Why did black voters in particular flock to Biden? Why didn’t the young voters Bernie has been counting on show up in the numbers he expected? What does that say about the case for Bernie beating Trump in November if he does get the nomination?

Ezra Klein makes a good point: Persuading former rivals to unite around you is precisely the kind of skill presidents need.

The work of the president requires convincing legislators in your party to support your agenda, sometimes at the cost of your political or policy ambitions. If Sanders and his team don’t figure out how to do it, they could very well lose to Biden, and even if they win, they’ll be unable to govern.

Persuading the Amy Klobuchars of the world to support you, even when they know it’s a risk, is exactly what the president needs to do to pass bills, whether that’s a Green New Deal or Medicare-for-all or just an infrastructure package. Biden, for all his weak debate performances and meandering speeches, is showing he still has that legislator’s touch. That he can unite the party around him, and convince even moderate Democrats to support a liberal agenda, is literally the case for his candidacy.

Sanders hasn’t demonstrated that same skill over the course of this primary, or his career. Worse, his most enthusiastic supporters treat that kind of transactional politicking with contempt. Senators like Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren, who co-sponsored Sanders’s Medicare-for-all bill but quibbled with details or wanted to soften sections, were treated not as allies to cultivate but as traitors to exile.

We’re in the season where people try to construct their dream ticket, usually without thinking about whether the two people actually get along. So what about Biden/Sanders or Sanders/Warren or Biden/Klobuchar or Biden/Buttigieg or some other combination of candidates?

I’ve been saying from the beginning that the ticket needs to be integrated by gender and race, and that seems more important than ever now that it has come down to two old white men. Either Sanders or Biden would lucky to get Michelle Obama to take the VP slot, though I don’t think she will. Either Kamala Harris or Stacey Abrams would make a good Biden VP. Harris is probably too moderate for Bernie, but Abrams could work. I’m having trouble coming up with Hispanic options; AOC is not old enough to be eligible.

When Drew Millard went looking for a Democratic-establishment Biden voter to interview, he didn’t have to look far: His Dad, who chairs his county’s Democratic Party, and didn’t care for being cast as the Establishment. “That irritates the crap out of me, I gotta be honest.” But his account is interesting:

As soon as Biden won South Carolina, I knew exactly what I had to do: I had to vote for Joe on Super Tuesday. Nobody called me, I didn’t get together and plot anything, I just knew in my gut I had to do that. Everybody I heard from in the next day or so said the exact same thing. I do believe that’s what happened in all those states. Because at some point we’ve gotta settle on somebody.

and the virus

See the featured article.

and Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren’s exit from the campaign was a sad day for me and for a lot of the people I know. (We’re in that educated-white-liberal demographic that is her base. We believe in facts, and we like people who are really smart.) Women particularly took it hard, because it will be at least another four years before we have the first woman president. And if both Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren weren’t good enough, what’s it going to take?

It’s hard to look at that diverse collection of qualified candidates we had a year ago, and conclude that merit alone winnowed it down to the two septuagenarian straight white guys. (John Hickenlooper is a straight white guy, but at 68, he still missed the cut.)

But since we’re the educated white liberal demographic, our pain seldom goes unexpressed. Here are a few well-written articles:

  • Warren’s Loss Hurts. Let Women Grieve.” by Versa Sharma in Now This. “And here’s the key: the default lens through much of our news and media is filtered through a very male point of view. That determines what issues are elevated, which candidates get the most coverage, who is presented and understood to be a viable candidate, all based on conscious and unconscious biases.”
  • America Punished Elizabeth Warren for her Competence” by Megan Garber in The Atlantic. “To run for president is to endure a series of controlled humiliations. … The accusation of condescension, however, is less about enforced humiliation than it is about enforced humility. It cannot be disentangled from Warren’s gender. The paradox is subtle, but punishing all the same: The harder she works to prove to the public that she is worthy of power—the more evidence she offers of her competence—the more ‘condescending,’ allegedly, she becomes. And the more that other anxious quality, likability, will be called into question.”
  • Let’s Face It, America: We Didn’t Deserve Elizabeth Warren.” by Amanda Marcotte: “Americans apparently couldn’t see that she is a once-in-a-generation talent and reward her for it with the presidency. That is a shameful blight on us. She wrecked Bloomberg in the debate and, in the process, may well have spared us from seeing a presidential election purchased by a billionaire. We responded as we so often do for women who go above the call of duty: We thanked her for her service and promoted less qualified men above her.
    “This feels personal to women, and it should. The same forces that pushed Warren out of the race — such as asking her to do the work of figuring out how to finance Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All plan, and then criticizing her for it while he skated by on generalities — offer a microcosm of how we treat women generally, and the reasons why women work so hard both at home and on the job yet make less money.”

Finally, watch the interview Warren did with Rachel Maddow right after dropping out.

Politics in the Trump Era is a series of disillusionments. Trump’s victory blew up my belief in the Power of Truth. No American politician has ever spat on Truth as contemptuously as Trump, and here he is. And now Warren’s defeat emphasizes  that you can’t get to be president — or even make it to the Democratic convention — by caring about people and figuring out how to solve their problems. We prefer men who don’t have a plan for that.

and you also might be interested in …

In Tuesday’s Washington Post Daniel Drezner said what I’ve been thinking about the Trump regime’s deal with the Taliban:

Pretty much everything Trump’s critics say about this deal is correct. It probably will not hold. It throws a regional allied government under the bus. It shreds America’s reputation and credibility. The thing is, Trump has already done all of this for the past three years — not just in Afghanistan but in Europe, Asia and the rest of the greater Middle East. The United States has paid the price of the disaster that is Donald Trump’s diplomacy. Maybe, just maybe, it is time to accrue some of the benefits — like extricating the country from a generation-long morass.

The race for Alabama’s Republican Senate nomination (to challenge incumbent Democrat Doug Jones) demonstrates how far the Republican Party has devolved into a personality cult. Jeff Sessions, who held the seat before getting appointed as Trump’s first attorney general, is in a runoff with football coach Tommy Tuberville after Tuberville narrowly outpolled Sessions 32%-31% in Tuesday’s primary.

Sessions was the first senator to endorse Trump’s candidacy in 2016. And in any policy sense, Sessions is a Trumpist. He was, in fact, a Trumpist before Trump was.

The primary in Alabama was a humbling experience for Mr. Sessions, who was treated as a castoff by the Republican Party he helped transform by championing a more nationalistic, anti-immigration, anti-free trade agenda years before Mr. Trump ran for office sounding those themes.

But as attorney general, he followed Justice Department rules and recused himself from overseeing an investigation he was too closely connected with: the probe into the Trump campaign’s illicit relationship with Russia. Trump wanted Sessions to obstruct justice, and Sessions refused. Trump has never forgiven Sessions for this act of loyalty to the law rather than to his boss’s personal interest.

So Tuberville’s campaign is based on the idea that he would be a better member of the Trump personality cult, and could do the Great Leader’s bidding without any of these pesky issues of conscience. Trump, meanwhile, is relishing Sessions’ distress.

This is what happens to someone who loyally gets appointed Attorney General of the United States & then doesn’t have the wisdom or courage to stare down & end the phony Russia Witch Hunt.

and let’s close with something that looks like a lot of work

There are places in China where people still do things the old-fashioned way. Here — reduced down to 11:20 — is how to grow some cotton and process it into a nice bedcover and some pillows.

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  • Will Fields  On March 9, 2020 at 12:32 pm

    Do I need to remind Mr. Mudar that there are three candidates still in the race for president and only two of them are septuagenarians as noted. If the DNC and the corporate owned and controlled media hadn’t marginalized the only democratic candidate critical of US foreign policy, Tulsi Gabbard, into oblivion perhaps she would fare better. The disappearing job on her was so effective that even Laura Flanders, an independent journalist, overlooked Tulsi recently.

    It is criminal that media and the DNC has chosen to throw the 99% under the bus in favor of carrying water for the 1%. And because of their efficacy to this end it clear why Mr. Mudar also omitted her in the article above. Perhaps a sidebar to at least mention her and why and how she has been vigorously rejected from debates and consideration by last minute DNC rule changes while Bloomberg has at the same time been encouraged also buy last minute DNC rule changes would have been helpful.

    It is all so undemocratic and the irony of the party name is not wasted on me.

    My apologies if my complaints have been covered in previous posts but I still believe Tulsi deserves the recognition during her run and respect for her platform.


    • Guest  On March 9, 2020 at 1:31 pm

      Bernie’s obviously been critical of US foreign policy and has been advocating against senseless wars and interventions consistently for decades, but otherwise, yeah, point well taken. And to be fair, the DNC and corporate media (two fingers in the same satin glove) have done their best to marginalize him as well. However, Tulsi’s “present” vote was a tactical bet that blew up in her face in terms of primary performance, so some of the damage is self-inflicted. Same with Bernie putting chips into the “youth” basket and talking up socialist revolution when he’s really just a New Deal democrat. On foreign policy specifically, it really is a shame, and I wonder if it signals that we’ve just resigned ourselves to perpetual war. Being anti-war was a great boon for Obama against Clinton. Let’s see how the dynamic plays out with Bernie vs Joe.

    • pauljbradford  On March 9, 2020 at 1:31 pm

      I have a positive view of Gabbard, since being anti-war is my biggest issue. Gabbard is generally ignored because nobody wants to vote for her, not because of any plot. She got enough attention that anybody who preferred her would know her most important positions. She just never caught on, like many other worthy candidates in a large field. It’s totally democratic – people don’t want to vote for her.

      • Will Fields  On March 9, 2020 at 2:07 pm

        Can we be absolutely sure that people would not be interested in the candidacy of Tulsi Gabbard if she received even half the attention some of the other candidates received. Do not believe for a moment that the media didn’t disappear her for her anti-war and therefore anti-media profiteering. This can no longer be considered supposition or conspiracy. This is the way of the world now. Much of the US economy depends upon permanent warfare and Tulsi understands it may not be too late to change this. This becomes less likely upon each successive election cycle. Think back to all of the ”unelectable” alternative candidates who had been marginalized for their views as being “non-viable”. That moniker, “non-viable” was adhered to the candidates by the media. The fact is one really didn’t need to pay very close attention to see this.

      • George Washington, Jr.  On March 10, 2020 at 5:07 pm

        I’ve encountered a number of conservatives who heartily approved of Gabbard. It’s liberals who don’t like her. Maybe she should have run against Trump as a Republican. As I recall, Trump also ran on an anti-war platform and a promise to reduce American military presence abroad.

    • D. Michael Wells  On March 9, 2020 at 3:45 pm

      Tulsi Gabbard may be ignored for the simple reason that she has shown herself not to be a serious candidate. She has never polled above 1%, lost every primary vote by huge margins and got a grand total of 1 delegate from American Samoa where she was born. She is more of a Trump bot than a Democrat, has given up trying to retain her seat as a Hawaii rep because she knows she will lose and as of the last reporting, has 2 million in the bank in her campaign funds and continues to solicit campaign contributions. She showed her moral courage by voting “Present” on the impeachment vote. Rather than claiming some DNC conspiracy against her and the media, complain about all those millions of voters who wisely chose someone else.
      It saddens me that a serious candidate, Elizabeth Warren has left the race (and I’m an old white guy). Watch the Rachel Maddow interview of Warren.

      • Will Fields  On March 9, 2020 at 4:44 pm

        It difficult to be considered a serious candidate when the media refuses to inform the public you are in fact running for president. One may continue to believe the electorate selects our president but there is far too much proof that the media’s influence actually does.

      • Guest  On March 10, 2020 at 10:15 am

        It’s hard to overestimate how powerful the union of the DNC and legacy media outlets (CNN, MSNBC, NYT, WaPo) is in this country, Will. But it may be even harder to get most people in these parts to simply acknowledge the dynamic, let alone critique it. My guess is that it’s because they get their marching orders from those same outlets. It’s similar to the stranglehold Fox has on the minds of older Republicans, but in this case the older Democrats have the additional mental armor of looking down on Fox viewers for being worse and patting themselves on the back for being so serious and fact-driven by comparison. It’s insidious. It brings to mind passages from MLK’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail. There’s a serious need for the insights of Manufacturing Consent. But bring any of this up and you’re written off as a blowhard or you get a steady stream of victim blaming (which, as bitter a pill as it is, has some truth to it – a lot of, say, Tulsi’s damage really was self-inflicted) but there’s not a care in the world left over for the underlying power dynamics. To me it is anti-democratic, and perhaps a bit fascist in the sense of the merger of the state and corporate power. To many conservative democrats, as you can see, it remains invisible.

        To use a sports analogy, “corporate” Democratic candidates simply have to defeat their political opponents, ie the blowhards, the naive idealists, the disconnected working class movements. For those candidates who truly care about the slaughter of innocents and endless-war policies, about letting 68,000 Americans die annually for lack of insurance and millions more face immirseration under an unjust healthcare system, about doing something positive on climate change that matches the scale of the problem, about reforming a racist 19th century approach to criminal justice, about Gilded Age level wealth disparity, etc etc etc, they have to overcome not only their political opponents, but, crucially, the refs as well.

      • Kelly Schoenhofen  On March 11, 2020 at 2:48 pm

        > I wonder if we are moving to make the same mistake with Biden.

        There’s a line between a legitimate inquiry/concern and fake news/trolling. You say to “push hard” on a topic, but I don’t think anyone would argue that questioning President Obama’s citizenship is anything but trolling at this point. I would put HRC’s email server in the same category.

        There is no Burisma mess, and Hunter Biden is a non-issue; the facts have been examined and his conduct is completely unremarkable.

        As far as Biden “losing his temper on voters” – I too fail to see how any of Biden’s lukewarm gun control policy equates to he’s “coming to take away our guns”. Biden responded to his audience in that town hall in a way he felt related directly to that audience, and you can agree or disagree with his approach, but it’s his approach.

        Lastly, I don’t know what “pushing hard” on Biden’s “mental/cognitive decline” means. I’m not sure that even passes a basic smell test. Re-reading your post, I’m not sure anything you’re saying passes a basic smell test.

        Weekly Sift, can you look at restricting replies from “guests”? I’m not sure we’re in good faith territory here.

      • Guest  On March 12, 2020 at 10:54 am

        Kelly, there’s just one Guest and I’m arguing in good faith and some others do agree with me. Looking at your other comments I believe we have a lot of common ground as well. I realize talking about cognitive decline and Burisma is unconformable, uncouth, and impolite. But if we ban those as topics of conversation in the primary, we will be that much more unprepared in the general, or worse, promote a candidate with weaknesses that we dared not utter, but that will come crashing down on us in November (not a fantasy, it happened in 2016). Bernie has not brought these things up…does anyone think Trump will pay the same courtesy?

        Not a rhetorical question, have you seen the video clips of Biden struggling with speech? For people who have had friends or family members go through cognitive decline, and I can raise my hand on that one, the similarities are striking. Honestly, not blowing smoke. Matt Stroller and others have confirmed that party insiders have been aware of Biden’s cognitive decline for months, but it’s a joke to them, they don’t care. Biden’s own camp has restricted his speaking engagements to seven to fifteen minutes tops. When his handlers do let him out in public, he’s liable to get weirdly hostile with citizens or become “confused” or “mixed up” in his speech. You smell anything yet? Has Bernie ever brought up any of that as a line of attack in any debate?

        Lumping the Obama citizenship fabrication in with HRC’s email server or Bursima is way out of line. The former is pure, racist fabrication. The server and Burisma, while there was no fire per se, there was plenty of smoke, and like it or not, and that’s all Trump needed. The server investigation concluded that while improper, the actions fell short of illegality. Democrats focused on “nothing illegal!” but immediately forgot and still refuse to admit the “improper” part. A lot of independent voters sure didn’t forget. It’s an open secret that foreign governments and executives were pouring hefty sums into the Clinton Foundation…so questions about an improper, private server cut-off from oversight were legitimate. Asking if Obama was really born in Kenya as a Muslim this is not. Same with Burisma. Nothing illegal, we agree. But will independents and disillusioned Republicans all agree that Hunter Biden was paid tens of thousands of dollars a month to sit on their Board because of his oil expertise? That’s asking a lot. This is uncomfortable to speak about, but like it or not, this is enough smoke for Trump to play with…it sure looks like “her emails” 2.0 even if nothing illegal occurred. These weaknesses are double edged, because they weaken the Democrat’s case while also offsetting similar and worse deeds by Trump in the minds of many general voters. You end up losing defensively and a credible line of attack at once.

        And look, if you’ve seen the struggling speech videos and the holding uncomfortable females videos and are unfazed, fair enough. If the older suburban voters that are surging for Biden now are fully aware of all of it and will stand by for him and surge again for him in November if he holds his delegate lead, great. Let’s process that collectively now. We ignored all the big red flags last time and paid dearly for it. If I have offended you personally, Kelly, I do apologize. The intent is not to offend but to frankly and openly address policies and strategy alike so we are on as firm a ground as possible in what I’m sure you’d agree will be a contentious November. If we aren’t open, honest, and willing to learn from our mistakes and failures, Trump’s first term will only be the beginning of our troubles.

    • George Washington, Jr.  On March 10, 2020 at 5:05 pm

      Gabbard has not been honest about her background. She was raised in a viciously anti-Muslim, anti-LGBT cult that was an offshoot of the Hare Krishna movement, under the complete control of a single individual. Her lukewarm affirmation of gay rights notwithstanding, we don’t know to what degree she is still under this individual’s control. I might have taken her seriously if she had completely disavowed the cult and its leader, Chris Butler, to the degree of Robert Byrd’s condemnation of the Ku Klux Klan and repeated apologies for his membership in it.

      Gabbard’s failure to do so casts serious doubt on her separation from the group she was raised in, and until she unequivocally demonstrates that she has done this, I’d be about as comfortable with her as president as I would have been with Fred Phelps or Anwar al-Awlaki.

  • Jay Conner  On March 9, 2020 at 12:53 pm

    Isn’t it time we gave up this old myth that the American Constitutional election system was devised to pick the best qualified candidate for president ?
    I was not. It was designed to prevent, or in a sense to enable, future non-violent revolutions by legitimating the status quo. The electoral class would be consulted, heard from in a meaningful way and involved in the selection process in as minimal a way as could be devised. And here we are, with another last chance to avoid a catastrophe for which we can be counted responsible.

  • Carol  On March 9, 2020 at 12:57 pm

    Yep, the DNC went out and BRAINWASHED ALL THOSE VOTERS! It’s a plot, I tell, a plot against unqualified blowhards. And opportunistic Dems.

  • Kelly Schoenhofen  On March 9, 2020 at 1:20 pm

    Two things:
    > The candidates all did sensible candidate-like things: They dropped out after a major defeat left them without a viable path to their goal, and they endorsed the remaining candidate whose policies best matched the ones they’d been running on.

    Except they didn’t – they dropped out the day _before_ a major litmus test – Super Tuesday – and endorsed the remaining candidate (Biden) whose policies best matched theirs, leaving the rest of the field in the lurch.
    All is fair in love, war, and politics, but let’s be clear – Klobuchar and Buttigieg pulled a fast one there.

    > Blaming the DNC also allows the progressive movement to put aside a bunch of challenging questions, like: Why aren’t more voters attracted to progressive proposals that are intended to benefit them? Does the movement need to change those policies? Or the messaging around those policies? Or the kinds of candidates the movement puts forward?
    > Why did black voters in particular flock to Biden?

    This has recently re-surfaced – it’s from four years ago, before the 2016 election. The original question someone had was “Why are black Americans voting for Hillary” but the answer is more of a deconstruction of “Why aren’t black Americans voting for Sanders” and a roadmap for how to attract voters to progressive proposals. This resonates even more strongly today than it did then (to me) – the benefit of hindsight I guess: https://www.reddit.com/r/OutOfTheLoop/comments/48kyzj/why_are_black_americans_voting_for_hillary/d0kv5pf/

    • Will Fields  On March 9, 2020 at 1:41 pm

      Great points. But…

      The DNC has undermined the American public interest in favor of the power structure for more than 80 years. So, yes, I believe they deserve some blame. Also the media, owned by oligarchs and in their interest weed out all voices counter to their collecting more power and more profit, deserve blame. How else does one explain the purging of anti war journalists? It’s a no-brainer and can only be referred to as propaganda outlets at this stage. We must also blame the electorate too lazy to proactively research the truth very much available today via non-corporate news sources. And there are many. One only needs an interest in garnering the truth. As for Klobuchar and Buttigieg, I do not believe for a moment the DNC didn’t force them out, given the timing.

    • jh  On March 11, 2020 at 12:07 pm

      Another point is this… Bernie is promising the stars. Meanwhile, minority groups understand that for every step forward, there is an extreme backlash. It’s called minimizing the backlash. For example, blacks get their civil rights legislation. What happens afterwards? We get crazy conservative whites radicalizing and entering the republican party and we get the War on Drugs and extreme attacks on black communities. Even the liberal whites get in on the “fun” as seen by the Clinton years. (yeah, the clintons aren’t bad per se but they aren’t good either. In the US, it’s a case of looking for the silver lining on a whole pile of honking steaming crap.)

      So blacks look and think.. yeah, we had segregation and that was bad. But look at how vicious the whites are when we got the desegregation. Look at how they chant “We voted for a black president which means racism is gone”. Meanwhile, the blacks are looking at the systematic defunding of programs and services in their neighborhoods because “white farmers and white coal miners” are apparently the important demographic to cater to. We get the 80’s and 90’s crack nonsense but where is that hysteria when it comes to white male mass shooters and the overall violence of white conservative culture? (I mean, when whites go out to buy guns, that is a threat. Why do we normalize white violence to this extent while patholgizing any violence committed by truly lone individuals in minority populations such as the San Bernadino shooting? Two muslims vs. over a billion muslims who live in peace. Meanwhile, not one white is innocent. We all participate in a society where we are okay with minorities paying more for the “opportunity” to be American in name. )

      Look, I like Bernie. I like Warren. They’re positions are far more my type of position. But here’s the problem…. Conservatives and liberals are like men and women quite literally. Conservatives can get drunk, sleep around with 100 people, can curse and murder and do all sorts of things and it’s excused because “boys will be boys”. In contrast, liberals are like females … they always need to be proper. They can’t even kiss or have the idea that they might be sexual beings. They need to show how pure they are. And when they do normal human things, they are lambasted not only by the hypocritical conservatives but the pernicious liberal who refuses to fight back and vociferously defend their fellow liberal.

      Look at the James Gunn (Galaxy of the Guardians director) nonsense. Sure. He made some really inappropriate tweets. But by all accounts, this person grew up and the person they are NOW is not the type of person who makes those kinds of tweets. But a bunch of conservatives dug up those tweets and then, laughed it up as liberals did their work for them. As if there was some equivalence to Roseanne being a racist b***** in the present and Gunn being a stupid b**** who grew up into a decent human being. Liberals buy into the conservative nonsense and that disgusts me. This is why I advocate that liberals just attack attack and attack because defense doesn’t work. Explanations don’t work. Reason and nuance doesn’t work. The moment I took the time to look into the “scandal”, I swiftly realized that Gunn didn’t deserve to be treated like he was. Sure.. he did say bad things. But where’s the “but” … liberals rushed to judgment in their quest for purity just like the women suffragettes wore white in their quest to gain some humanity by getting the vote.

      It’s all well and good for well-intentioned white liberals to mutter about how corrupt the DNC is. But if you look at their mutterings, you understand that they are the same losers who demanded that the women wear white to allay the fears of conservatives that whores must not be able to vote. The proof is in the pudding. Voters aren’t drones who vote like that. The news media isn’t all that. Most of the younger generation gets their news from online sources. They are not “the media”. for example, the young turks is a blatantly pro-bernie pro-liberal online news source. That’s just one example.

      Bottom line… shut up. Be vociferous in your protection of your fellow liberals. Understand that you have an enemy who will do anything to create division in the ranks. Your enemy is not your fellow liberal. It is the conservatives. Come election day, I don’t care who is on the ticket. Conservatives are a clear and present danger to the US. They are a threat to democracy. They are a threat to our society. They are worse than Al-Qaeda or any terrorist group. They’re body count is far higher than even 9/11. (And I was there that day and I’m not minimizing the loss but look at the suffering and death that conservatives revel in. children are put in cages and they are sexually molested. people are gunned down or run down. This is what conservatives are… they are a terrorist group that has the luxury of being white and therefore not treated like the terrorist group they are.) Are you guys seriously going to vote Trump to spite the democrat (even Biden) if Bernie doesn’t win? Because I’m for a pan-liberal movement that moves that dial just a bit closer to humane.

      BTW – during this disease outbreak, remind conservatives that a nationalized healthcare system would benefit like a national defense would. we’re a “superpower” who can’t even get our act together for this disease unlike say.. China. We are losers because conservatives hate blacks and browns more than they love America.

      • Guest  On March 11, 2020 at 1:50 pm

        Lots of good points as usual, j.

        “This is why I advocate that liberals just attack attack and attack because defense doesn’t work.”

        I’m very sympathetic to this view, and I think the lack of attack has been a great weakness of Sanders…he’s just too darn nice and collegiate in primaries. He held punches on Clinton and is doing the same on Biden. I mean stuff like the FBI investigation and semi-secret back channels on Clinton and the mental/cognitive decline and Burisma mess with Biden. By not attacking these things he does his own campaign a disservice, but it also “hides” those issues from primary voters, only for them to be revealed in the general with full force. By then, it’s too late for a test-run on how to respond effectively to those weaknesses. So, to use the Clinton example, if Bernie pushes her hard on the email server and it’s effective, great, the stronger candidate moves forward; if it’s not effective, great, then she would at least have a framework on how to successfully respond to the issue going forward.

        I wonder if we are moving to make the same mistake with Biden. How many Biden supporters who have already cast ballots had recently seen any of the completely embarrassing videos of Biden struggling to finish sentences or remember where he is or what he’s doing, losing his temper on voters, sneaking up behind clearly uncomfortable women (and little girls) and holding them in place/getting handsy/smelling their hair, etc etc. And that’s not even mentioning the Hinter Biden mess. If Biden primary supporters haven’t processed how that will play out in an election (and, if Bernie is bringing it front and center, why would they?) November may be another rude awakening. No guarantees, of course. Perhaps that has been collectively processed, and his supporters will stand by him regardless. Maybe *this* time is different.

      • George Washington, Jr.  On March 11, 2020 at 6:50 pm

        You’ve got to be kidding. Bernie has done nothing but attack his opponents, including the “Democratic establishment” which is basically the Democratic party that he’s never bothered to join. Most of the candidates supported increased access to health care, for example, but unless they agreed with Bernie 100%, they were dismissed as corporate stooges. Bernie’s strategy wasn’t to convince his opponents to join him, but to purge anyone who disagreed – which is why he hasn’t accomplished much in his time in Congress.

        This goes back to 2016 when Clinton and Sanders agreed to run a negative-free campaign, but only Clinton stuck to that promise.

  • Chrs  On March 9, 2020 at 2:04 pm

    In response to “I’m having trouble coming up with Hispanic options; AOC is not old enough to be eligible,” Biden should seriously consider Julian Castro. In San Antonio and Texas more generally, he has automatic support, partly because he was a popular mayor and because of his stature as a Cabinet secretary, but also because the Latino community remembers the labor leader Rosie Castro, his mother.

    • weeklysift  On March 11, 2020 at 9:24 am

      I was already limiting myself to women, because I think Biden’s VP has to be a woman. Castro brings the additional baggage of de-criminalizing unauthorized border crossings, which is one of those proposals that makes sense but sounds terrible to low-information voters.

  • Nancy Minter  On March 9, 2020 at 2:24 pm

    “As soon as Biden won South Carolina, I knew exactly what I had to do: I had to vote for Joe on Super Tuesday. Nobody called me, I didn’t get together and plot anything, I just knew in my gut I had to do that. Everybody I heard from in the next day or so said the exact same thing. I do believe that’s what happened in all those states. Because at some point we’ve gotta settle on somebody.”

    That’s what happened to me too. Joe wasn’t even my third choice, but when I saw where the black vote was going I just knew.

  • Anonymous  On March 9, 2020 at 2:51 pm

    we can no longer survive if there continues to be a 1% class hoarding sooo much more of the common wealth -using the hoard to hoard more, preserve themselves in splendid out of whacked imbalance and thus destroying life so they can still be riding on the top of the sinking ship- we can no longer identify with our puny egos and the illusion of ownership as if we are not interconnected with everyone else.

  • Guest  On March 9, 2020 at 4:59 pm

    You had some really good challenging questions for the Sanders camp, Doug, and thank you for that, but you saved none for Warren? Just pointing to sexism and then moving along sounds like what you and many others did with Clinton’s loss. No further self-reflection, no learning from defeat, just bitterness and blaming others. I say all this as someone who had Warren as their number 2 choice through thick and thin for the last year, and like you was very disappointed to see her crash and burn. If I can offer one subject for consideration in this context, it would be class privilege. It’s also strange to see you quote passages reducing Warren’s detractors to nothing more than sexism-induced condescension…but in the same section talk up how well educated (upper class) white liberals are the only ones who believe in facts. Bit of a disconnect there?

    • weeklysift  On March 11, 2020 at 9:25 am

      There was a certain tongue-in-cheekness there that maybe didn’t come through as well as I hoped.

  • Camilla Cracchiolo  On March 9, 2020 at 5:17 pm

    Warren absolutely should not be VP! She has real power in the Senate. The governor of Massachusetts is a Republican and would probably appoint a Republican to replace her. It is essential that we take the Senate. This would mean not only sticking Warren in a relatively powerless do nothing position but would mean losing a Democratic seat at a crucial time when taking the Senate is iffy at best and we’re almost certain to lose Doug Jone’s seat from Alabama.

    No. I want Warren for Senate Majority Leader if we can take the Senate back,

    • weeklysift  On March 11, 2020 at 9:27 am

      I also think Biden needs a younger VP. When he appeared in Detroit with Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, he said something like “You are the future.” I’d like to see Biden pitch himself as an interim president, somebody who will spend one term cleaning up Trump’s mess and then pass the torch.

      • ccyager  On March 14, 2020 at 6:52 pm

        I agree with this thought, Doug. Maybe now is not the time for an Elizabeth Warren because we need someone who will clean up the mess so she can move the country forward.

  • Igor  On March 9, 2020 at 6:20 pm

    I work on Syria for the State Department, and with the courageous doctors and civilians resisting Russian and Assad-regime bombardment of Aleppo in 2016. Tulsi Gabbard went immediately afterwards to meet with Assad and decry U.S. policy, blaming it for the Russians BOMBING HOSPITALS. This horrible absolving of Putin and Assad for war crimes got the appropriate amount of attention, and Tulsi got the appropriate amount of attention in response, which is to say dismissal as unqualified.

  • Kosti Jokinen  On March 10, 2020 at 8:23 am

    Reading the Sift over the years I’ve found myself mostly in agreement with your views, but one area that I find completely outlandish is your rosy outlook of the establishment Democrats. Looking at the US political landscape from Europe, it’s incredible how far the Overton window has been pushed and how widely it’s accepted that there are exactly two alternatives to everything, embodied by the two major parties. The differences between Sanders and Biden aren’t just some minor policy details, they run on completely different platforms and as AOC famously noted two months ago, in any other country she (and Sanders) would not be in the same party with Biden.

    The DNC money comes from huge corporate donors, and it shows. They side with progressives on social issues, but economically they are on the billionaires’s side almost to the same extent as GOP (see https://www.businessinsider.com/mike-bloomberg-taxes-under-joe-biden-bernie-sanders-wealth-tax-2020-3 for one amusing recent example). The single most impactful thing in Sanders’s platform is getting rid of that influence, and simultaneously, it’s the most frightening thing to everyone currently enjoying that money and could literally cost them their jobs.

    Personally I didn’t quite appreciate how bad the situation was until Sanders looked like the frontrunner for a while and got everyone serious. Just look at the framing of the debate questions, as detailed here https://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/02/29/democratic-debate-moderators-frame-questions-define-acceptable-politics . Look at the media coverage of Sanders – you’d think “Can either coronavirus or Bernie Sanders be stopped?” would be satire but it’s a real headline that ran on CNN. MSNBC compared him to nazis. NYT looks like this https://twitter.com/BernieWatchdog/status/1236021894828249089 . When they can’t attack him on issues, they make stuff up or attack his supporters as in the cartoon you chose to highlight here. *That* is what’s driving the impression of Sanders’s lack of electability, while Biden is enjoying a free ride.

    What “electability” really means on Democrats’s side of things is being “moderate”, which in turn means pre-emptively compromising with the Republican position, which in turn keeps moving further and further out as far as they can get away with at any given point. That’s what Biden stands for. Looking up references for this post I eventually came across Nathan Robinson’s scathing indictment of Biden from the last weekend, which encapsulates all the key points I wanted to cover here and a lot more https://www.currentaffairs.org/2020/03/democrats-you-really-do-not-want-to-nominate-joe-biden . Yes, it’s very long, but that’s because there’s just *so much* to cover, going over his record of consistently voting for corporate interests, his continuous lying about his past, and his alignment with the Republicans over his own party to ludicrous extents.

    At this point the race is looking like a repeat of 2016, and as someone else pointed out in the comments of your post about electability last week, Clinton not only failed to flip red states, but lost key purple ones. That Current Affairs article goes on to detail all the opportunities Trump has for attacking Biden and hoo boy he would be an even easier target than Clinton. You give a lot of credit to the anti-Sanders theories, but what’s the supposedly better alternative? What pro-Biden message do we have besides the current coverage being favourable to him and presenting him as the default option? On what grounds do you believe that the same outcome in the primary as in 2016 would result in anything other than the same outcome in the general?

    • weeklysift  On March 11, 2020 at 9:35 am

      A few things: (1) Biden 2020 is out-performing Clinton 2016 in the primaries. (See Michigan.) (2) Everything had to break perfectly for Trump to beat Clinton in 2016. (3) The country overwhelmingly elected a Democratic House in 2018, with the swing-districts going to Biden-like Democrats.

      • Guest  On March 11, 2020 at 4:10 pm

        On (1), I think this should have a giant asterisk. A huge competitive field that saw swift consolidation behind the DNC’s chosen one and subsequent wins at a time in the race where there has been no one-on-one debates. Different context than 2016. Being able to “hide” Biden is working wonders in the primary, but there’s no place to hide in the general. And again, some of his biggest margins came in southern states that, like Clinton, he will likely not carry in the general anyhow. That said, if we end up yet again with another gun-to-the-head, lessor-of-two-evils choice, I guess I’d rather the lessor evil outperform Clinton than not.

        On (2), yes, but everything *did* break perfectly for him. And now he has the power of the incumbent. The point that 2016 was so close than any little shift of circumstances might have changed the outcome is appreciated, but going forward it’s as much a boon to Biden as to any candidate that can be competitive with Trump, Bernie included. This is a wash.

        On (3), yes, taking the House in 2018 was very encouraging. But where are swing-district victories that were Biden-like? Meaning, who among them had visible, in-your-face signs of cognitive decline and won anyway? Who had to also simultaneously answer for nepotism/corruption scandal charges involving their son and oil companies? Not all centrists are created equal. And again, local district elections and presidential generals are apples and oranges. One is not a reliable indicator of the other. Plenty of moderates won seats in 2018. Clinton lost several swing states just two years prior.

        How will it all shake out this year? My crystal ball remains stubbornly cloudy. If this is the case for Biden, though, I don’t see much on offer for leftists, progressives, or independents/disillusioned Trump voters reaching out in the darkness for hope and change. But, maybe they can be dismissed, maybe they aren’t needed. Famous last words, but maybe this time really is different.

    • Guest  On March 11, 2020 at 3:13 pm

      Thank you so much for posting this, Kosti. I 100% cosign on each and every little point you made, except for “They (DNC/establishment Dems) side with progressives on social issues.” The actual track record has been hit or miss. The Obama/Biden ticket was infamously against marriage equality/gay civil rights and they, like Clinton, didn’t “evolve” until years later, for example. Biden is apparently still for keeping marijuana prohibition and the drug war going, he’s been vocal in the past about putting social security, Medicaid, and women’s reproductive rights on the bargaining table, etc. On social issues, sadly, you’re about as likely to get a roadblock as a helping hand from the Dem establishment. And if their billionaire funders don’t want something done? Forget it.

      “one area that I find completely outlandish is your (Doug’s) rosy outlook of the establishment Democrats”

      It’s not just that rosy outlook, it’s also actively rooting against Bernie too (he admitted as much in the comments some weeks back, although maybe it was meant to be tongue-in-cheek). Given his moral stances elsewhere, I, like you, find it baffling. Clearly it’s a view that many democratic primary voters agree with, though. However, notice how in his reply to your request for his pro-Biden message, there is nothing directly of substance policy-wise, or even on moral/ethical grounds, things that both you and I have seen him deftly present on any number of other topics. It feels like a big blind spot.

  • Sharon Palmer  On March 10, 2020 at 7:30 pm

    Liziqi, the young woman growing cotton is not exactly “where people still do things the old-fashioned way”.
    She is a Chinese food and country-life blogger, entrepreneur, and internet celebrity. She is known for creating food and handicraft preparation videos in her hometown of rural Pingwu, Mianyang, Sichuan, often from basic ingredients and tools using traditional Chinese techniques. She does these things to be filmed. Lovely films, remembering the way things used to be.


  • By same marriage Problems on July 4, 2021 at 11:20 pm

    same marriage Problems

    Dismal Calamities | The Weekly Sift

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