Saturday, June 09, 2018

DNC changes rules to stop Bernie Sanders, but it might not work

His agreement with the Vermont DP is precedent (if the matter has to be litigated).

For those who are familiar with what's been going on for the past year and a half -- that would not include the little old lady at the Beauty Shop, by her own declaration -- I'll cut to the chase.

Sanders, who is currently running for reelection, typically runs in the state’s Democratic primary but declines the party’s nomination after winning. The move allows him to fend off Democratic challengers in the state while still running as an independent. Last month, the Vermont Democratic Party passed a resolution supporting this strategy and proclaiming that Sanders would still be considered a member of the party “for all purposes and entitled to all the rights and privileges that come with such membership at the state and federal level.” That membership could inoculate him against the DNC’s rules change.

In fact, it might be on the path to... not killing off, but neutering the superdelegates.  At least on the first ballot for the presidential nomination, taken at the national convention.

One source familiar with the discussions told Yahoo News the rules change was not aimed at Sanders and wouldn’t necessarily affect him. In fact, the source described it as a step that was designed to make it easier for party leaders to accept one of Sanders’s main priorities — the end of superdelegates.

Committee members are continuing to discuss the proposal to eliminate superdelegates. They will meet again to make a final vote on the proposal in the coming weeks before all proposed changes head to the DNC for a final vote in August.

I am wary that this is progress, and don't harbor any hope that the Donks can manage to do the right thing in two months.  The easy arguments against blocking Bernie from the nom on the "he's not a Democrat" fallacy are obvious: the 2016 split becomes a canyon, the centrists and the establishment succeed in driving him away to run as an independent or to anoint someone who does, and Trump cruises to re-election.  And the blame game begins anew.

Squandering the millennial and independent base of votes ready to line up behind an FDR Democrat and not another incrementalist isn't something most of the neoliberals running the DNC seem to be concerned about.  Doing the same thing over and over again -- like Texas Democrats trying to get Republicans to vote for them -- and expecting a different result is ... well, you know.

Just not a fight the Democrats ought to be having.

(In my proposed wager to Ted, this would have been one of those 'rules' things I would have been forced to accept.  He wasn't smart enough to take my bet; it's off the table now.)

Monday, June 04, 2018

The Weekly Wrangle

With this week's lefty blog post and news roundup, the Texas Progressive Alliance doesn't need any guns as part of its hurricane preparedness plan.

Melissa del Bosque at the Texas Observer writes about the decade-long surge of money and resources committed to border security, and how it has turned South Texas into one of the most heavily policed and surveilled places in the nation.

Grits for Breakfast finds a contradiction in Greg Abbott's school shootings-security plan: if someone should be "considered a child" at 17 for the purpose of having access to firearms, how does Texas justify prosecuting 17-year-olds as adults in other crimes?  And Mimi Swartz at Texas Monthly suggests the governor's ideas are a step back to a more dismal era.

Abbott’s report, then, has the musty whiff of a darker time, despite protestations that more protections—offering gun training to nearly everyone who isn’t a student—are needed to keep kids safe. This despite an FBI report, among others, that shows no statistical evidence that putting more armed people in schools reduces school violence.

Somervell County Salon finds evidence that Ted Cruz does know the truth when he sees it ... and can actually speak it, too.

In another analysis of the TXGOP runoff last month, Rep. Jonathan Stickland's $300,000 in campaign cash may -- or may not -- have been enough to push the Texas House further to the right, says Anna Tinsley at the FWST.

PDiddie at Brains and Eggs found some Democrats who just don't want to talk about the lingering rift in their party from the 2016 primary.  Or would rather pretend it doesn't exist.  And News Taco answers the question "Will the Latino vote tip the elections THIS year?" with some unsettling numbers.

(A)ccording to the University of Southern California’s Program for Environmental and Regional Equity, young Latinos are not showing up to vote. The USC study says that just 43% of Latinos 18-29 registered to vote and, of those who registered, only one-third actually voted in 2016.

The study also states that Latino Millennials’ turnout in 2016 was less than African-Americans and Anglos of the same cohort, who voted at 48% and 44%, respectively.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, the state's largest HMO insurer, was forced to postpone implementation of a controversial change in reimbursement after pushback from Texas doctors, reports Houston Matters.

“Make no mistake—lives will be lost if this policy is allowed to go into effect,” said (Texas Association of Freestanding Emergency Centers executive director Brad) Shields, of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas’ potential change in review process. “Patients’ lives and well-being are threatened by health insurance companies who are treating Texans like second-class citizens. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas’ ER patient penalty policy that was set to go into effect on June 4th is a direct violation of both federal and state laws, and indefensible by any logical, ethical, and moral standard.”

At the Texas Capitol this afternoon, the Poor People's Campaign rallies for economic, social, and environental and healthcare justice.

And the Beaumont Enterprise picked up the AP's account of renowned heart transplant hospital Baylor St. Luke's being forced to temporarily suspend operations in the wake of patient deaths and the departure of several senior physicians.  This news followed accounts published in the Houston Chronicle and ProPublica regarding unusually high numbers of patients' demise.

It's early June, but the Metroplex is already in violation of national clean air standards, according to Downwinders at Risk.

SocraticGadfly analyzes a Daily Beast story about Jill Stein's post-recount transparency issues while speculating that she may have some sort of end game for this.

David Collins links to Bruce Dixon about why the Green Party can't get going in the US.

The Green Party then, is required to run every race in ankle chains, deprived of media and funds to buy media, and legally barred from appearing on the ballot in large sections of the country by laws which have been enacted and upheld by courts for a century and more. And these are just the external factors.

The internal barriers to transforming the Greens into a mass party are equally daunting.

Go read it and give your feedback (at David's).

Pages of Victory shares Truthdig's piece on a sorely-needed authentic left movement.

Project Row Houses in Houston's Third Ward celebrates its 25th anniversary with a series of events all summer.  Get the details at Free Press Houston.

Rag Blog luminaries and fans will gather for the best Austin metro book presentation and celebration this weekend at Half Price Books on North Lamar.

Harry Hamid is having some trouble dealing with the heat.

And Ty Clevenger at Lawflog warns that Sergeant Tallywacker is back on the streets.

Friday, June 01, 2018

Is it too soon to gamble on 2020?

It is, but Ted and I are going to do so anyway.  (Scroll down to the comments.)

Terms of the wager are at the end of this post, and Ted will have to agree to them, so before we get there, let's set the stage here 29 months prior to the national decision, and perhaps two years or less before our bet is settled.

Ted's already in the tank for Joe "No Back Seat Progressive" Biden, on the basis of the poll Matthew Rozsa at Salon mentions in this spin piece for Bernie Sanders.  Ted blogged that poll; it shows Biden leading in early preferences for 2020 but I grew wearisome of looking for it to link here.  Rozsa -- an unreliable opiner IMO since he believes all of Jill Stein's votes belonged to Hillary Clinton in 2016 -- buried the Biden lede.

When asked on the C-SPAN program "Washington Journal" on Tuesday about whether voters would have another chance to cast their ballots for Sanders, (former Sanders presidential campaign manager Jeff) Weaver deflected the question but definitely didn't say no.

"Voters in Vermont certainly will, coming up in November," Weaver said. (Sanders is up for re-election to the Senate this year and is likely to face little or no serious opposition.) "Nationally, you know, he is considering another run for the presidency. When the time comes, I think we’ll have an answer to that, but right now, he’s still considering it."

The former campaign manager later told USA Today that what motivates him "is the desire to have a new president in the White House -- and a heavy consideration is, who is the best person to beat Trump in 2020.'"

He added, "Bernie is the person best positioned to defeat Trump in 2020. That's my personal view. He brings a lot of new voters into the process. He is also incredibly strong with independent voters."

Weaver's sense about Sanders' chances is certainly backed up by recent surveys on the 2020 election. A CNN poll from March found that 76 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents were very likely or somewhat likely to support Sanders if he ran in 2020, putting him close to the lead among Democratic prospects. He was surpassed only by former Vice President Joe Biden (84 percent) and followed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts (68 percent), Sen. Kamala Harris of California (53 percent), Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey (50 percent) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York (47 percent).

Joe is just a tad younger than Bernie; either would be by far the oldest man ever elected president.  For perspective, Sanders would be 79 in 2020; Biden would turn 78 shortly after the election.  The current longevity record is held by Trump, who was 70 in 2016 (that's what a bad diet and no exercise looks like), and Ronald Reagan completed his second term in office at age 77.

Before we get to gender and race concerns -- will America elect another old white guy two years from now? -- let's note that Elizabeth Warren has emphatically rejected a bid for the White House in 2020.  Ted doesn't believe her, though.  I think Republicans would gleefully traduce her with the Pocahontas smear, something she is working to overcome.  But lies this malicious die hard; just ask Wendy Davis.  My HO is that Warren could be somebody's running mate in 2020, but likely not Sanders' or Biden's.  Too much white, too much New England.

As the wave of successes experienced by female Democrats in the 2018 midterm election cycle demonstrates, this is an extraordinary period for women in politics. In the wake of Hillary Clinton's agonizing defeat, many Democratic voters will be eager for a female candidate, which could make both Harris and Gillibrand major contenders. Both have worked to shed their more moderate images and have moved toward the party's progressive wing on a whole range of issues.

Harris checks all the identity politics boxes, but the progressive wing won't tolerate her law enforcement background nor her pandering to Clinton's funders.  Gillibrand could be the woman's choice, as her voice has been loudest w/r/t to the #MeToo caucus.  Both Al Franken and more recently Bill Clinton have felt her wrath.

This is your friendly reminder that the Clintons are toxic to Democrats' electoral fortunes in 2020.  If no one convinces them to take their retirement from politics, then a nominee connected to them is DOA.  You don't agree?  It's already happening in the midterms.  With nothing for the GOP to run on, all they have are the tried and true attacks.  The same holds for an Obama alumnus like Biden, Eric Holder, or Julian Castro.  The Obama presidency will be relitigated to a significant degree anyway by Trump's re-election campaign.  I see no point in giving them extra ammunition.  YMMV.

Since I've tipped longshots Holder and Castro ...

Finally, it is hardly unknown for a dark horse candidate to emerge in the final months before the primaries kick off, who winds up taking the field by surprise. There hasn't been a total shocker in American politics since perhaps Jimmy Carter's unexpected run for the Democratic nomination in 1976, but it's fair to say that relatively few voters had heard of Barack Obama in 2005 -- and for that matter, most Democratic Party insiders initially viewed Sanders' 2016 campaign as a harmless act of resistance. Indeed, the fact that the 2020 field appears so unsettled suggests that the situation is ripe for precisely such an unknown quantity.

That said, Sanders has one factor working for him that none of his prospective alternatives can claim. He has managed to marshal a loyal army of progressive activists who stand for principles of social and economic justice that had seemingly been abandoned by the Democratic Party since the Bill Clinton years. Many of Sanders' followers will support no one else -- unless and until he tells them too. That alone will make Sanders a formidable opponent for any and all Democrats who are considering taking him on.

Biden has serious, serious baggage with women and people of color.  Sanders has already been vetted in both regards (doubtful his old essay nor his association with Killer Mike and many others was good enough for the StillHerz, but that's a digression).  Democrats still soaking their hemorrhoids over Sanders and his 2016 run would be making a tremendous mistake in selecting the affable yet goofy and somewhat creepy (the author and source are right-wing freaky, but the article, links, and quotes speak for themselves) former vice president just to spite progressives.  Bernie also has the favor of millennials, aka the future of the Democratic Party ... if there is to be one.  A younger, female, person of color -- I'd be compelled to give front-runner status to Kamala Harris, misgivings referenced above to the side -- as his running mate should be enough to quiet the ageists in the chattering class, as well those horrified by the notion of a democratic socialist nominee.

Thus we get to the crux of my offer to Ted: Bernie Sanders, by the premises outlined above, has to be, needs to be, must be, and I contend will be the Democratic nominee for President in 2020.  I think he's the only Democrat that can defeat Trump, and the evidence lies in places like West Virginia and the candidacy of Richard Ojeda, who supported Bernie in the primary but Trump in the general.  You may know a local blogger who did the same thing.  They were not outliers.

All else by the Dems is folly.  I think -- despite the fact they have let me down time and again with respect to their support for progressive candidates, most recently a couple of weeks ago -- that even Texas Democrats will come around to this conclusion.  Frankly, that's a much steeper trust incline for me than losing a handful of samolians to Ted on "not-Bernie".

(If you're capable of blaming everybody but yourself -- like nasty, ignorant Moni at Transgriot -- for Hillary Clinton losing those three Midwestern, union-heavy states, then you probably can't believe that Bernie Sanders would have won them.  Which would make you, like her, irredeemable.  This post is not for your, plural, consumption.)

I've given Ted the most favorable terms; Sanders will be the nominee.  He says, as you can read in the comments at the top, "NEVER".  That's pretty absolute; I would imagine he has reasons for feeling so certain about it.  But that certainty, combined with so many of the uncontrollable and unforeseeable variables at play this far out -- sort of like a bet on who wins the Super Bowl, except in this case the season after next -- means Ted will have to give me 20-1 odds on the $50 bucks I will send him by his method of choice; PayPal or Western Union or whatever, as soon as he tells me.

That would be a grand from you if I'm right and you're wrong, Ted.  Even the Houston Texans are 18-1 to win the Supe next January.  Those are terrific odds (and you can believe I'm already in on that).  Your Cowboys are 20-1, and those are probably lousy chances.

Naturally, if Sanders decides not to bid for the presidency next year, the deal is off.  A couple of other conditions you would need to accept ...

-- No cheating.  If the DNC -- to use one example -- is only so much as accused of the kind of dirty tricks they pulled in 2016 on the Sanders campaign, our wager is voided and Ted is to return my money immediately.

-- I consent to (what I consider to be) unfair groundrules, such as superdelegates not voting the will of their states, as part of the judgement left to the referees and umpires, so to speak.  Rules is rules; cheating is cheating.  We can hash out other scenarios that might nullify our bet as they arise if either of us chooses, at any time.

After Ted agrees ... does anybody else want to get in on this action?