Saturday, February 06, 2016

The Republicans debate again tonight

I probably won't watch or Tweet any of it since there's an early Chinese New Year celebration, with dinner and a lion dance we'll be attending.  (I'm kinda Mardi-Graw'ed out after all these years.)

The Republican Party will hold its final debate before the New Hampshire Primary on Saturday night, Feb. 6. 
ABC will broadcast the contest starting at 8 p.m. ET, and will also live stream it on, ABC News mobile apps, and through apps on Apple TV, Xbox One, and Roku, according to a spokesperson for ABC News.

ABC has extended invitations to just seven candidates: Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Marco Rubio, Dr. Ben Carson, former Gov. Jeb Bush, Gov. Chris Christie and Gov. John Kasich. 
Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore did not receive invites, as they neither finished in the top three in the Iowa caucuses, nor the top six in a recent average of national or New Hampshire primary polls. ABC News stuck to its decision to keep Fiorina out of the debate, despite a public lobbying effort by the former technology executive in recent days to be included.

It's make-or-break time for a couple of guys.

Jeb Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie both invested time and money in Iowa. Together they got 5 percent. Christie said he had to do well in Iowa, which his campaign insisted meant that he had to finish ahead of the other governors. He did not do that, finishing ahead of only  Rick Santorum and Jim Gilmore. Bush spent a substantial amount of time in the Hawkeye State and thought he could get support from the network his brother and father had there. He did not get that support. At least Ohio Gov. John Kasich did not expend very much time or effort in getting just 2 percent in Iowa. 
The debate [...] may therefore be the last real shot for Bush and Christie to get into the race and reestablish themselves as something more than also-rans. It also will be critical for Kasich to remind New Hampshire voters that he is there and remains a viable candidate.

Let's say a soft goodbye to them both.  Kasich is still polling fourth, which means he's ahead of Jeb!, but that won't mean much after next Tuesday with southern and western primaries dominating Super Tuesdays ahead.  Christie faces another subpoena about Bridgegate, so if he manages to get into contention he'll still be damaged goods.  Bush's campaign is comatose and pathetic, but he apparently plans on being around for South Carolina because his brother is riding to his rescue.

I don't see anything developing here.  It still looks like Trump, Cruz, and Rubio -- in any order you like -- to be the remaining choices going forward.

The news post-Iowa is that Marco Rubio stole Ted Cruz's bounce.

Trump, by all indications, will return to the debate stage Saturday. We will see if the Iowa loss stripped him of any bravado or venom. Will he go right back after Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.)? That would be his natural inclination, but his arguments will have to be better than the birtherism canard. In some sense, both Trump and Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) have the same argument against Cruz: He is another slippery pol, tooting his own horn but as calculating and phony as the rest of them. Unlike Rubio, however, Trump does not need to show he is conservative enough for the GOP. His supporters by and large do not care what his ideology is; they want someone to show strength, candor, irreverence, and empathy for their anger and resentment. 
But married with Trump’s populist, less educated base of support is a certain sense of pragmatism — the opposite of Cruz’s appeal for rigid ideological purity. That contrast between deal-maker and enemy-maker should be on display at the debate Saturday. Cruz is right that Trump seems to have no governing vision. Trump is right that Cruz has little personal appeal and no sense of how to get things done. Between the two of them, they seem to embrace virtually every bad idea circulating on the right (e.g., protectionism, exclusion of immigrants, disregard for human rights) and every bad political trait of our times (e.g., anger, rudeness, dishonesty, lack of compassion).

Keep in mind all of these opinions belong to the WaPo's most Republican commentator, Jennifer Rubin.

If the GOP is gradually coming to its political senses, looking for an electable nominee and a plausible chief executive, this will be the week to knock out Trump and show Cruz has minimal appeal outside deep-red locales. Cruz’s support in Iowa came overwhelmingly from very conservative voters, about 44 percent of whom voted for him, and could get only about 19 percent of somewhat conservative voters and about 9 percent of moderates.That split works in the Iowa caucuses where  the most conservative voters predominate, but not in the majority of primary contests. Revealing him to be a rigid ideologue with very few answers for our problems should be the grown-ups’ focus.

I expect the vote next Tuesday to go pretty much how it's been polling: Trump in first, Rubio second, Cruz third, Kasich fourth.  My strongest recommendation is to go do something fun tonight, as we are, and then get ready for the Super Bowl tomorrow, and then go have a drink on Fat Tuesday rather than pay attention to election returns that evening.

It's time for me to blog about some local developments, such as the candidates on the Texas primary ballot and some other items closer to home.  That's coming up shortly.

Friday, February 05, 2016

How was it?

I feel asleep before it began (long, exhausting day).  I hear it had its moments...

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, in by far their testiest encounter of the campaign, tangled Thursday night over the role of money in politics and the philosophical underpinnings of the Democratic Party in their first one-on-one debate. 
The candidates scowled, frowned, and cut each other off as they traded attacks that had before been launched from the less personal remove of press releases and tweets.

Sanders said Clinton’s speaking fees and campaign finance donations from Wall Street would hinder her from bringing sweeping changes needed to protect the middle class.

Clinton accused Sanders’ operation of engaging in a “very artful smear campaign” to make her appear too cozy with Wall Street. Instead, she said, her ties to financial executives give her valuable insights into how they operate. 
"I don’t think these kinds of attacks by insinuation are worthy of you,’’ Clinton told the Vermont senator. “Enough is enough."

It's been kind of a scold all week from the Clinton side.

Somebody got booed from what I understand.  There were also purity tests galore, which to me is the most important distinction.  I have laughed until I cried for months now at Hillary's supporters' attempt to fit her square peg into that round hole.  (Now don't construe that as sexist; it's a common figure of speech and you are smart enough to be aware of it.)

It was by far Sanders’ strongest and smoothest performance. 
For a senator with limited experience on the national stage, he was finally able to go toe-to-toe with one of the most skillful debaters in the party —toggling between his signature anger and the occasional joke. 
This was the last time New Hampshire voters were scheduled to see them on stage together before voting Tuesday’s primary election, and came as the contest has taken a more personal turn. 
The candidates debated what it means to be a progressive in the Democratic Party. Sanders said Clinton represents the party establishment and that he represents "ordinary Americans." 
“Senator Sanders is the only person to characterize me — the first woman running to be the first woman president, as part of the establishment,” Clinton said. “It’s really quite amusing to me.”

She doesn't sound all that amused, does she?  Did she sound amused when she said it?  She played the "lady" card too quickly again too.  Did that work?

Did anybody use the word 'pragmatic' or 'pragmatism'?

About halfway through the debate, the pair returned to a fight that broke out via social media this week, when Sanders unleashed a Twitter offensive over Clinton’s progressive credentials. 
“You can be a moderate,” Sanders wrote. “You can be a progressive. But you cannot be a moderate and a progressive.” 
During the debate, Clinton confronted Sanders, calling him “the self-proclaimed gatekeeper of progressivism.” 
“I am a progressive who gets things done,” Clinton said. “The root word of the word progressive is progress.” 
She said that by Sanders’ definition, President Obama wouldn’t be considered a liberal because he took campaign donations from Wall Street. 
“Do I think President Obama is a progressive?” Sanders said. “Yeah. I do.”

Bernie is wrong about Obama, and Predator drones, Trans-Pacific Trade Partnerships, and not fighting for a public option when he had a Democratic Congress are just a few of the reasons why Sanders is in the hunt for the White House ... and of course why he's almost winning.  But the establishment is simply not going to be denied again.

Since I didn't watch, I missed all of the negativity but Oliver Knox seems to think they ended the evening in harmony.

Democratic presidential rivals Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton knocked each other around Thursday in their first one-on-one debate of the 2016 season, but ultimately closed ranks behind the notion of keeping the White House in their party’s hands. 
Sanders spent much of the evening arguing that he was the true standard-bearer for the Democratic Party, hammering the former secretary of state over her ties to Wall Street and vote in favor of the war in Iraq. Clinton focused her energies largely on defending her progressive bonafides, while arguing that the Vermont independent was putting ideological purity on a pedestal above pragmatic proposals that could actually become reality. 
But by the end of their MSNBC encounter, the two candidates closed ranks. 
It started when moderator Chuck Todd asserted that Clinton did not think Sanders could be president. She looked genuinely surprised, and said, “I never said that,” then brushed aside his follow-up about whether she might pick Sanders as a running mate if she wins the party’s nomination. 
“Well, I’m certainly going to unite the party, but I’m not getting ahead of myself. I think that would be a little bit presumptuous,” Clinton said. “If I’m so fortunate as to be the nominee, the first person I will call to talk to about where we go and how we get it done will be Sen. Sanders.”

Todd tried the question on Sanders. 
“I agree with what the secretary said. We shouldn’t be getting ahead of ourselves,” the Vermont senator replied. ”And as I have said many times, you know, sometimes in these campaigns, things get a little bit out of hand. I happen to respect the secretary very much, I hope it’s mutual. And on our worst days, I think it is fair to say we are 100 times better than any Republican candidate.” 
Clinton agreed, declaring “That’s true, that’s true.”

That sounds agreeable.  Bernie's already thinking about making sure his people line up behind her about a month or so from now; my revised prediction is shortly after their debate in Flint and the Michigan primary on March 8.

Plan B goes into effect at that time.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Round Two, El Caballero y La Dama

Last night was substantive, calm, rational, and revealing.  This evening we're probably back to the shouting and hand-waving and accusations and such.

The next Democratic debate is tonight at 9 pm Eastern. It will take place at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, and will air on MSNBC. An online live stream will be available at
This debate wasn't on the sparse original list of six that the Democratic National Committee approved. But when NBC and the New Hampshire Union Leader decided to host an "unsanctioned" debate between the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, without the DNC's approval, Hillary Clinton — who seemed to regret her allies' role in limiting the debates, and hoped for an opportunity to shrink Bernie Sanders's large lead in New Hampshire — said she'd show up. The Sanders team then used the opening to get Clinton to agree to three more debates in exchange for his own attendance. 
The upshot is that this will be the first face-off between the two candidates since they fought to a virtual tie in the Iowa caucuses. And it will also be the first featuring only Clinton and Sanders, since Martin O'Malley suspended his campaign Monday night.

Again from last night, I saw it as among Bernie Sanders' finest public moments.  He simply communicates with a sincerity and a humility that Hillary Clinton cannot.  She didn't really have too many bad moments; it's just that she comes off as your standard 'say anything' politician when you have the opportunity to compare the two closely.

This debate comes just five days before the February 9 New Hampshire primary — a primary Bernie Sanders is expected to win, since Clinton has trailed him in state polls for most of the past six months. 
Weirdly enough, this seriously raises the stakes of tonight's debate for Sanders. Because if he loses New Hampshire to Clinton, it will be interpreted as a major blow to his campaign. The Granite State is a really good fit for Sanders both geographically (he represents neighboring Vermont) and demographically (it's overwhelmingly white, and white Democrats are more likely to back him). And the next states to vote — Nevada and South Carolina — seem to favor Clinton. 
That's why Clinton was so eager to add this debate — to give her the chance to turn her numbers in New Hampshire around, and perhaps even pull off an improbable come-from-behind victory there like she did in 2008. If Clinton triumphs in New Hampshire, she could deflate Sanders's campaign early, and roll to victory elsewhere.

She'll roll no matter what happens tonight or on February 9.  I've been saying it since the summer.

It's nice to have hope and to be inspired, but the deck is stacked too strongly against him.  Maybe I'm just cynical after watching politics so closely for the past decade-plus, and after getting my hopes up with people like Howard Dean in 2004, David Van Os in 2006, John Edwards in 2008, and more recently Wendy Davis in 2014 and Chris Bell in the last municipal cycle.

Unsurprisingly, then, the contest between them has been getting more tense. In recent days, Sanders has more aggressively questioned Clinton's progressive credentials, criticizing her for raising money on Wall Street and voting for the Iraq war. And Clinton has been been increasingly focused on gun control, one of the few issues she has a more liberal record than Sanders on — while sowing doubts about Sanders's electability. Expect all these topics to come up quite a bit tonight.

Since New Hampshire is a primary, at least we won't have any coin flips.

I used to be a big, big proponent of caucuses, but not any more.

Update: A party divided.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

What's the most you ever lost on a coin toss?

The stakes weren't as high as if you had the misfortune of meeting Anton Chigurh, but the answer to his question with regard to the Iowa Democratic Caucus events is: "perhaps our democracy", and with respect to certain Clinton supporters... their dignity.

Last night, as the story of the coin tosses in some Iowa precincts began to take on Kennedy-assassination dimensions (among both believers and heretics, mind you) I thought I would join the fun in teasing the Clintonistas a little about it.  I had not been online much of the afternoon and some of the evening, so I didn't know that so many people had already lost their sense of humor about the matter.  I did post about the six-for-six yesterday, and did research a little further and received a good answer about the county delegates versus the national delegates conflation, which satisfied me.  Steve Kornacki at MSNBC made the same mistake in interpretation that I did, and apologized for it, but I didn't know that either until after the following Twitter exchange.

Let's disclose that Susie is a long-time Democratic activist and blogger, most recently at Crooks and Liars but now at Blue Nation Review, which is owned by David Brock, who is ... you get the picture.  (Suzie is also my Facebook friend, we've interacted recently and not just on the 2016 campaign, and C&L under her stewardship has linked to Brains several times over the years, producing traffic in the hundreds and even thousands of daily clicks on each occasion.)

Her professional association with Brock isn't the biggest problem here, sadly.  Click on the Blue Nation Review piece -- after the word "Sorry!" in the Tweet above -- and then click on the link she has there to this Des Moines Register story about the coin flips, and then compare it to her excerpt at BNR.

They don't square for me, but the excerpt she used does appear in this DMR story, which I found at the end of this Snopes link, which describes the coin flip caper as a 'mixture' of proven and unproven (and perhaps yet, or never to be, proven) claims.

Update, 1 p.m CST: Susie's fixed the link at the original without noting the correction.  Aren't there journalist rules about that?  (I have a screenshot of the original in case anybody wants it.)

So... in the spirit of snark, I'm offering the following to Madrak and everybody else who feels so upset about the whole thing:

"For a limited time, receive this 'Hillary Clinton Victory in Iowa' coin when you make a $1 campaign contribution!" *We're only asking for a dollar instead of $49.95 plus shipping and handling so that Hillary can demonstrate she has some small donor support, according to James Carville's recent e-mail

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Groundhog Toons

Let's do it all over again next Tuesday, shall we?

"We might never be this close again ..."

Kissing your sister

Or in Ted Cruz's case... like kissing your daughter.  With coin flips awarding split delegations in six precincts to Hillary, the "inevitable" candidate's campaign might finally be able to declare actual victory sometime this morning.  If they find that missing 5% of the vote, that is.  I'm sure it's amongst all those scraps of paper in a postal bin or a plastic bucket, in a half-dozen or so high school gyms scattered across BF Iowa.  In the middle of a blizzard at the moment.

This is the most even-handed account, but that doesn't mean someone isn't spinning...

The Democratic battle in Iowa was so close that both Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders — the 74-year-old socialist with no major endorsements — and Hillary Clinton left the state without a clear-cut victory.

The race was too close to call when the candidates headed to the airport to escape an impending blizzard, bound for New Hampshire and its primary just over a week away. 

How about that?  Old and socialist in the first sentence.

 Aboard a charter jet bound for New Hampshire, Clinton Press Secretary Brian Fallon told reporters that "we believe strongly that we won."

"It's not clear post-Iowa what Senator Sanders' path to victory is," Fallon added.

He means "post-new Hampshire", but whatever.  He was probably exhausted after being up so late, maybe a little drunk from all that champagne.

(Fallon's) claim got a boost at around 4:00 a.m. ET, based on a statement from the Iowa Democratic Party which NBC News reported showed Clinton was the apparent winner.

Oh, so they did find those missing votes.  Good.

With just one precinct yet to declare, NBC News has declared Clinton the apparent winner based on a report from the Iowa Democratic Party showing her narrowly ahead of Sen. Bernie Sanders.

"Tonight we saw an historically close Iowa Democratic Caucus," the party said in a statement shortly before 4 a.m. ET.

NBC News has allocated 21 of the 52 available national delegates to Clinton and 20 to Sanders as of 2:37 a.m. EST.

The Iowa Democratic Party said Clinton has been awarded 699.57 state delegate equivalents while Sanders has been awarded 695.49. 

A five-delegate margin because they went for six-for six in coin flips.  VICTORY!

The narrow victory in Iowa could offer a whiff of vindication for Clinton, who in 2008 lost Iowa in humiliating fashion to Barack Obama when her third place finish set in motion the destruction of her first presidential bid. 
But for Clinton this time to barely edge out Sanders, who was dismissed as a gadfly just months ago, showed continued weaknesses for the former secretary of state among significant portions of the Democratic coalition — particularly younger voters and those seeking a more progressive vision. 
And it demonstrated the limits of a state-of-the-art political operation to make up for lingering doubts with the candidate herself, who on paper seemed build a campaign that did everything right this time around in Iowa.

I missed Clinton's win by six percentage points on the high side but did a little better with Cruz, Trump and Rubio.  I called it 26-23-20 Carnival, Clown, Cubanito and it came out ...

The Texas senator garnered the support of 28 percent of caucus goers, a significant win in a field of a dozen candidates splitting the vote. Trump finished a disappointing second place, four points behind Cruz.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio had a surprisingly strong showing, coming in a close third place with 23 percent and performing better than polls had suggested. 

With Martin O'Malley and Mike Huckabee turning in their resignations early in the evening, the field clarifies somewhat.  Jeb Bush at 5% and sixth place is a dead man walking, has been for some time.  Chris Christie needs to make something happen in New Hampshire.  John Kasich's NYT endorsement didn't help at all, and the rest of the stragglers need to go on and go home for fresh clothes, or maybe forever.

So a woman, an old Socialist Jew, and two Cubans, one born in Canada, will be duking it out in the headlines for the next week, until the media can get Trump back on his feet in the Granite State. That stands a better chance of happening than Clinton making a comeback there (JMHO).

In other breaking news...

Groundhog Punxsutawney Phil saw no shadow when he emerged from his Pennsylvania home this morning, meaning early springlike weather, according to tradition.


Monday, February 01, 2016

The big political week ahead

-- With the capitulation of Debbie Wasserman Schultz's embargo on Democratic debates, there are now two events scheduled post-Iowa and pre-New Hampshire: a town hall on Wednesday evening hosted by CNN and the debate that almost wasn't on Thursday night, moderated by MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and Chuck Todd.  These events will take place with whatever spin the campaigns will be generating from the Hawkeye State's caucus results, which I have predicted will be a Clinton win of some proportion larger than the last and most historically accurate poll conducted.  With a sizable lead in New Hampshire, Sanders must still improve his standing with not-so-white electorates in Nevada (he's not close) and South Carolina (he's not close) in order to make it a contest to Super Tuesday, where the biggest prize is Texas (and he's not close here either, though the polling is dated).

Should Bernie pull off the upset tonight -- after all, his 2-point deficit is within the Register's MoE of 4% -- and with NH all but in the can for him, history would be Feeling the Bern.  That would scramble the race tremendously.  I'd like to see it happen but I just don't think it will.

Update: Quinnipiac's poll released today shows Sanders with a 3-point lead over Clinton -- precisely at the MoE -- and Trump pulling away from Cruz, for whatever these last-minute results are worth. Q's polling gets a good report card from Nate Silver, if that also means anything.  I'd say it means "nailbiter" for both parties late into tonight.

-- As for the Republicans, Trump is favored to win tonight also in the polling, but my stated belief is that he gets upset by Ted Cruz, whose ground game in Iowa is unmatched and his followers are as fervent as The Donald's.

So watch the turnout for the GOP tonight, because that will produce higher (or lower) expectations for Trump, Cruz, and Marco Rubio, who's finally showing some signs of life.  Update: And may win the crown awarded by the media if he finishes a close third.

Pollsters have noted differences in their results when they change their assumptions about voter turnout. Trump's success in particular depends on first-time voters registering and showing up to caucus. A recent Monmouth University poll found that when likely Iowa caucus-goers are polled, Trump leads Cruz 30 percent to 23 percent. However, when the pollster narrows the sample size to registered Republicans who have a history of voting, the odds shift in Cruz's favor and he leads Trump 28 percent to 23 percent.

Monmouth's poll of likely Iowa caucus-goers is based on an estimate of 170,000 voters coming out, which surpasses Iowa's 122,000 record turnout in 2012. Increasing the turnout estimate to 200,000 gives Trump an 11-point lead, while decreasing it to 130,000 ties the two opponents at 26 percent.

There's also this from Cong. Steve King, R-Cantaloupe Calves, a demonstrated moron on immigration but probably not as dumb about his state's politics.

"If there is a turnout that goes well above 135,000, then that looks well (sic) for Trump," said U.S. Rep. Steve King of Iowa, a national co-chair of Cruz's campaign. "If there's a turnout that's down in that area, still a record turnout — something 135,000 or less — then that looks really good for Ted Cruz, and it's a more legitimate measure — the loyal caucus goers that are paying attention and evaluating on the issues."

King's been taking lessons from the Sarah Palin School of English, but we can still divine the point: turnout around 130-135K makes Ted Cruz look genuinely happy instead of his usual fake and creepy.

I wasted an hour of my life watching the second episode of "The Circus", with the four guys running for third place in the GOP primary, on Showtime over the weekend.  Don't bother with it.  It's terrible, they're terrible, the reporters -- Mark Halperin, John Heileman, Mark McKinnon -- are terrible.  Maybe the first episode with the front-runners was better, but I'm not giving the series any more chances.  Just watching McKinnon, in that short brim Stetson that looks too big on him, who's so scrawny he looks like a cancer victim, pick at -- but not taste -- any of a beautiful pastrami sandwich from Katz' Deli in New York was enough to put me off, but then they started in with Jeb and Fat Bastard, who's allegedly had a lap band for over three years and still looks morbidly obese. I had to take my nausea meds before they even got to Rubio.  What does that tell you?

But do read this on the four roads out of Iowa, with the bias of mine being on Road Number Four.

-- Voting in New Hampshire a week from tomorrow, more spin for a couple of weeks, and then Nevada and South Carolina close out February.

The "Yes We Can/No We Can't" Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance is quite ready to go back to ignoring Iowa as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff highlighted how the tables got turned on the video fraudsters who tried to sting Planned Parenthood.

Libby Shaw at Daily Kos is quite pleased to learn that in Texas justice can trump politics, in the most ironic way. The Texas Blues: A Stunning Royal Backfire.

South Texas Chisme knows Texas Republicans love business owners way more than citizens. Why else do they allow dangerous companies to operate next to schools?

John Coby at Bay Area Houston asks: Can the Democratic Party carry Bernie Sanders' socialist message and win?

Ted at jobsanger also went the full 'socialist' on Sanders.

While those two Clinton-supporting bloggers played the "soshulist" card, PDiddie at Brains and Eggs is at least glad to see that some Democrats know how to find -- and push -- the panic button.

With less inflammatory words like "pragmatism" on the table, SocraticGadfly looks at who the more "can-do" Democratic presidential candidate is, and shows that it's Bernie Sanders.

Egberto Willies shares the video of Pastor Robert Jeffress calmly explaining the hypocrisy of evangelicals' support of Donald Trump.

TXsharon at Bluedaze has to explain changing paradigms to confused Denton city officials who misused research on fracked natural gas.

Neil at All People Have Value considered both everyday life and the full picture at the intersection of Main & Cosmos in Houston. APHV is part of


And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Some Texas legislators want to keep affordable housing out of their districts, and they've given themselves the power to do it. The Texas Observer reminds us that The House Always Wins.

Millard Fillmore's Bathtub reveals democratic socialism's darkest secret: it's more democracy than socialism.

A second case of the Zika virus has been confirmed in Harris County, according to the Houston Press.

Grits for Breakfast posts the chart drawn by Black Live Matters that assesses the police department's use of force policies in Austin, Houston, San Antonio, and other cities around the country.

Harold Cook reviews Jay Newton-Small's book Broad influence; How Women Are Changing the Way America Works.

Keep Austin Wonky interviews Travis County Commissioner candidate James Nortey.

Raise Your Hand Texas quantifies Texas school enrollment.

Raj Mankad rides along on a driverless car test drive.

Rainey Knudsen pens an open letter to the other 49 states.

Francisca Ortega reports that many child brides are still being forced to marry in the United States.

Rick Campbell tells of a quest to help Houston preserve its music history.

Katharine Shilcutt sets the record straight on Texas food.

The Makeshift Academic explores ways to limit the potential damage of the Friedrichs decision.

Not of It has the details on the American (Urban) Planning Association's biennial conference in Austin in March.

And The Rag Blog posted a moving eulogy of Harris County Commissioner El Franco Lee.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

A-Skeered uh Soshulism

Ted (he's blocked me from commenting at his shop, so I'm going to be a little rougher on him even than usual).

Bernie Sanders (and his supporters) think they can explain his socialist identity to the voters, and that voters will flock to him once they understand his "democratic socialism". I am a democratic socialist myself, and I wish that was true -- but I don't think it is.

We'll stop there and let you read the rest if you choose.  I really and truly feel sorry for Ted; he suffers from the very worst case of "Battered Democrat Syndrome" I have ever observed.  Be sure and follow the link therein to Molly Ivins declaring in 2006 she wouldn't support Hillary Clinton.

John (who is only occasionally full of wit, and not this particular time).

Now Socialists across the country have found their re-emerging leader, Senator Bernie Sanders, to carry their flag and to possibly lead a major party with established infrastructure and resources. Sanders, the former 8-year Chairman of the Liberty Union Party has given them a once in a lifetime opportunity for their socialist ideas of free health care, free college, and never ending peace and love. 
The Affordable Healthcare Act is no where near socialism. Not even close. It was nothing more than an overhaul of our insurance industries policies and regulations. Unfortunately facts don't matter to the hoards of ignorant voters the GOP has learned to manipulate. Just one shout of SOCIALISM! and the battle is lost, the ideas are dead. Sanders should know this. After spending over 2 decades disguised as an independent his socialist ideas have failed in Congress.

Update (2/1): Two posts in two days on the same topic -- on a previous schedule of about one post every two weeks -- qualifies as an obsession.

I think he was going for the insult but was overcome with passive-aggressiveness, not to mention he's just plain wrong about Sanders' legislative record.  For his part, though, John gets the point that Ted misses; "soshulism" is an equal opportunity smear.  Those hammer-and-sickle ads Claire McCaskill has ominously warned us about will be employed irrespective of whether Sanders can pull out the nomination or not.

And once more for the sake of clarity: I support Sanders' campaign, have donated and planted a yard sign, but do not think he can be nominated for reasons that do not include "soshulism".  And I was on the record about that two weeks before Black Lives Matters inserted itself into the national conversation.

What's being used here is -- as we know well by now -- garden variety fear, a motivational tool the Republicans use constantly and the power of which fearful and intellectually lazy Democrats understand.  On evidence in the GOP primary: Ted Cruz has been stunned to watch Donald Trump get to the right of him by using the worst possible language, and that has turned into the success model for 2016: say anything, push the buttons of people's worst instincts, and let the chips fall.

It's sad to see Democrats Red-scaring and Red-baiting, but hey... as long as our gal wins, right? That's just politics, after all.  Exciting our base, driving up turnout and all that.  About the best thing that can be said about the 2016 primary battles is that we're not hearing that "too much money" complaint.  Reuters, from last summer:

"There's growing public awareness about rich people trying to buy elections and that makes the task of winning all the more difficult," said Darrell West, the author of "Billionaires: Reflections on the Upper Crust," and the director of governance studies at the Brookings Institution think tank.

Once we get Trump against Clinton in the general, he can use that "I can't be bought" tactic on her. Won't that be something to see?

How bad does socialism look compared to plutocracy and fascism?  That's the right poll question.

Sunday Funnies