Thursday, January 10, 2019

Back to the future: 2020's latest news

It's been over six months since Blue Dog Ted turned down easy money in my proposed wager between his lap dog, Joe Biden, and my man Bernie Sanders.  The national conversation is still mostly centered around those two old white guys, although our Texas boy Beto moved in and up in the polling, and Liz Warren is occupying portside Democrats' attention with her first-out-of-the-gate exploratory announcement.  We should have Julian Castro to kick around by Saturday.  There's also Kamala Harris waiting in the wings; this account says she'll kick off on MLK Day, January 21.  She'll benefit greatly from a California primary that comes very early on the calendar.

Quietly organizing under the radar are Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand.  A mash of stale reruns like John Kerry and Hillary Clinton are trying to draw attention to themselves, and there are a few very long shots in early: WA Gov. Jay Inslee, (signature issue: climate change); Andrew Wang (the UBI candidate), and Maryland Congressman John Delaney, the extremely wealthy centrist.  He's been running since last July; has staffed up for -- and scheduled meet-and-greets next week in -- New Hampshire, and is capable of pouring millions of his own dollars into his bid.

Here's a few headlines, Tweets, and assorted other thought-provokers I've collected over the past several days, along with some of my usual salty opinions.

Warren's been most talked-about, so she gets to lead off.

-- Start with the TexTrib's profile from 2016, about how her decade teaching at UT Law influenced her (if you haven't read it already).  I found it seminal.  It suggests to me that she will have some network of support in Keep-It-Weird that competes with the Berners.

Warren is the progressive Democrat that establishment Democrats prefer over Sanders, who is still being smeared by orthodox Donkeys because he gets elected as an independent.  This is its own purity test, as thinking people clearly get.  Those who squeal "Vote Blue No Matter Who" will have to put up or shut up in 2020 if Bernie wins the nom.  History reminds us that the PUMAs failed in 2008 where the Sandernistas did not in 2016.

Daily Kos kicked off their every-two-weeks straw poll and the inaugural gave Liz a big win.

Let's note a few things for the record: Kos has been a vituperative gasbag against Sanders for a long time now.  The author of this Tweet is also the co-author of this piece.  And the DK straw poll is an Internet poll, which didn't stop Nate Silver from performing an act of seppuku.

So much credibility lost in such a short period of time.

A lot of people think Warren and Sanders are competing for the same voters, but that's lazy and uncareful.  She ain't him in her own words.  This Tweet thread was instructive as an academic exercise if you're into that.

More on those differences from Jacobin.

As for my M4A litmus test ... well, Warren is a capitalist, a believer in markets, like she said above.  She also said in autumn 2017 that she supported Sanders' Medicare for All bill, "but until we get there"... six months later (as in last March) introduced her own bill strengthening the ACA instead.  That was of course prior to the recent decision by a federal judge here in Texas that struck down Obamacare.  Her position ten months ago -- there is no clarity on her presidential website -- is best explained by Daniel Callahan at STAT.

(Warren) has proposed an alternative plan. She judges that a single-payer plan would be difficult to get through Congress and concedes that private insurance will have to continue. But that insurance would “have to be at least as good and priced as reasonably as the coverage provided by our public health care programs.” The obvious advantage of her plan is that it aims to build upon and improve the embattled Affordable Care Act, likely making it easier to get through Congress than a single-payer plan. Warren’s plan would benefit from the strong gain in public support for the ACA over the past couple of years despite assaults on it by President Trump and other Republicans.

Too mealy-mouthed for me.  She's gonna hafta take a mulligan.

-- Lots has already been posted about the "war" on Beto by the "Berniebros", its own double smear.  I summarized it in the Xmas Eve Wrangle.

In the span of seven days, Beto O'Rourke went from expanding his statewide cult of personality from sea to shining sea to exploding on the 2020 launching pad, writes PDiddie at Brains and Eggs, in a post originally motivated by two hilarious takes about Bernie Sanders from Bay Area Blue Dog John Coby.  But it was a takedown by David Sirota at Capital and Main of Beto's voting record that did the most damage to the erstwhile Congressman's reputation as a "progressive", and that in turn spawned an article about a "war" on O'Rourke being waged by "Berniebros".  The geek fighting didn't just carry on all weekend on Twitter, it again ruptured the 2016 fault lines between the center of the Democratic Party and the left. 

Give the shitlibs credit for rapidly counter-attacking, especially when you consider that examining the Congressman's voting record does not constitute a "war" by any stretch of the definition of the word.  As was said repeatedly in 2015 and '16 regarding Hillary Clinton's long public service history, facts are not attacks.  For fuck's sake, vacation in Yemen soon, you fucking neoliberal fuckwads.

Undeterred, Tina Nguyen at Vanity Fair throws more gas on that fire.  She opens with the premise that the GOP will use the data that Sirota, et. al. have published about Beto for themselves, as advanced by The Hill.  Somehow I find it difficult to believe that Trump, or any of his potential primary challengers, could make a credible case for criticizing O'Rourke for taking money from oil & gas industry executives.  Just ridiculous.

Maybe I need to turn off my hypocrisy sensor.  Is it a common practice at this point in the presidential election cycle for Republican political consultants to share mud with their Democratic professional advisor "friends", where that might benefit the Dem's clients and help the GOP overall (by, say, hurting Beto with the Sanders/Inslee/anyDemocratwhosupportsclimateaction caucus)?

Or do they sell it to them?  Capitalism, you know.  And how does the invisible hand of the free market set a price for that commodity?  Berning questions.

-- Bern Notice: six of these are in the Houston area, two in DFW and San Antone, five in Austin, and one each in Abilene, Waco, Bastrop, Luling, and Temple.  I'm attending the one at AxelradSema Hernandez, challenging John Cornyn in 2020, is the organizer.  For people who would rather work on revolution than mere resistance, this is the place for you.  As I see it, that's the role of the Democratic Socialists as well (but YMMV and I could just be wrong since I don't attend the local chapter's meetings due to my various handicaps.)  With the implosion of the Texas Green Party, I remain a Bernie or Buster.  He's got his faults; he's a rural state gun supporter and also a Defense Department grifter for Vermont, but he's better on BDS than anybody else, especially Warren.  They both have a bit of a complicated relationship with the Pentagon, but they're both also saying and doing things that are breaking new ground in Democratic foreign policy.

Brian Hanley has listed 20 reasons why Bernie is the only one who can beat Trump in 2020.  I agree.  If the Democrats nominate anybody else, Trump will be re-elected and everybody can blame us all over again.  I just don't GAF any more.

-- Read everything in this hot 2020 take but especially the excerpt below.  It's certainly true that there are far too many trolls online -- no matter your social medium of choice -- who will make the next almost-two years somewhat intolerable for all of us.  Clean up your own feeds and timelines; use 'mute', 'ignore', 'block', and 'report' to your advantage.

Will there be assholes online getting in circular arguments and making inappropriate personal attacks on the integrity and intelligence of anyone who supports the wrong candidate(s)? Of course! There always will be assholes. Always, always, always. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that there are always going to be some big assholes in the mix. But we don’t have to let online wankers define the discourse around what is shaping up as the most ideologically significant Democratic primary in at least a generation. All we need to do is pay attention to what the candidates themselves are talking about and remember that social media apps come with a mute button

-- And let's not let the vile corporate media and their 'he said, she said', 'soandso' slams 'what'shisface' on Rachel/Hannity, "Entertainment Tonight"/"A Current Affair"/TMZ panel of political experts masquerading as news reporting BS fuck this up again, either.  When they show Trump saying 'Pocahontas', you turn them off.  When they show a video of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez dancing, don't you click on it.  If Beto's head appears Photoshopped onto the nude body of a male stripper ... well, try not to click on that, okay?

Matt Taibbi, from his book Insane Clown President: Dispatches from the 2016 Circus.

“Elections are about a lot of things, but at the highest level, they’re about money,” Taibbi writes. “The people who sponsor election campaigns, who pay hundreds of millions of dollars to fund the candidates’ charter jets and TV ads and 25-piece marching banks, those people have concrete needs. They want tax breaks, federal contracts, regulatory relief, cheap financing, free security for shipping lanes, anti-trust waivers and dozens of other things.”

And Chris Hedges, in this Truthdig piece entitled "The Election Circus Begins".

“The corporate media ignores issues and policies, since there is little genuine disagreement among the candidates, and presents the race as a beauty contest. The fundamental question the press asks is not what do the candidates stand for but whom do the voters like.”

The only way we'll avoid Idiocracy again is if we don't pay for idiocy.  Don't give them the clicks, ratings, subscriptions, or eyeballs.  Set your adblocker to 'vaporize'.  Block the social media trackers (the latest version of Firefox is doing this now).  And for the love of Dishrag, get off Facebook and use DuckDuckGo and not Google.

-- Debates begin in June, with six this year and six next.  We'll have a clearer picture about who's in, out, up, down, sideways, and every other direction between now and then.  I'm still of the opinion that Beto and Castro are in it not to win it but to be picked veep, and before Christmas comes around again one of those is better-than-even-odds to drop out and file to run against John Cornyn.

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