Saturday, February 08, 2020

#DemDebate: New Hampshire wrap

Bernie strong as always.  Biden lost again, right from the get-go.  Warren got the fifth-most speaking time, not enough to call it a good night for her.  Buttigieg took incoming and withered (hey, he's the one claiming war duty).

Klobuchar consistently gets good marks from the talking heads, and they're universally perplexed as to why it's not translating into votes (it is, just not enough).  There are blindingly obvious reasons for this, which is why they are blind to them.

More on the top five from Jessa Crispin at The Guardian:

Here we are gathered together during the Year of the Rat, and I regret to report that Pete Buttigieg is ascending. I kept waiting for his fellow candidates to go after him for little things like, oh I don’t know, claiming victory over a caucus before all results were tallied? Minor despotic behaviors, that sort of thing? Instead, we heard mostly the same talking points coming from the same candidates who were almost all wearing the same outfits from the last debate. Is that Klobuchar dress plum or more of an eggplant? I’ve seen it so much by now you think I would have figured it out. (Is it just me, or does she spend most of her time on the debate stage explaining to people why they should like her more? Like someone who realizes she’s about to be broken up with suddenly listing out all their best assets?)

Steyer and Yang: At least the half-decent billionaire has stopped staring into the camera with each response, but his appeals for a middle path will go nowhere.  Yang spoke least, and the Gang is pissed again.  Both guys are going to get tired of pissing money away sooner than later, I suspect, and both should endorse Bernie when they reach that point.

So I will just be Tom Steyer yelling from the margins of the stage PULL IT TOGETHER for the rest of this campaign. While some of the Democrats have gotten better at addressing the lived experience of people in the country, most are still speaking in broad ways that don’t connect. 

James Carville said this too, though he was praising BootEdgeEdge and damning Bernie when he said it.  Carville is nucking futs but the Caucasian Washington establishment drools over him.  There are, to be sure, elements of 'not getting it' that ring like a fire alarm.

Whenever abortion is discussed on the stage, it’s always in terms of “protecting Roe v Wade,” and not the massive crisis of accessibility that is going on in most states, with clinics closing, prices rising, and distances traveled for care increasing. It’s easy to talk about “rehabilitation” being the solution to the opioid crisis, but no one talks about how ineffective, expensive, and dangerous treatment facilities are in this country. 

More Crispin:

It’s hard to talk in specifics when you’re given 75 seconds to address structural problems, but the distance between political speech and actual reform never seems to stop growing. It was the exasperated, exhausted outliers at the ends, Yang and Steyer, who spoke the most directly -- Yang channeled Marianne Williamson there for a second, talking about the “disease” of American society that Trump is but a symptom of -- but they are just biding their time, hoping if they stay in long enough they can force a cabinet position somewhere. The inevitable debate confrontation with Trump is coming, and only Bernie Sanders and the single-digit losers seem ready for the fight.

She nailed it.

Bloomberg:  He's still not losing, so when he finally shows up in Las Vegas he should catch a lot of well-deserved shit.

As for the pundits, Cillizza hit more often than he missed this go-round, except for his take on Sneaky Pete.  This was spot on, and if you noticed at the start, the sound was messed up too.

* Lighting: Was it only me who fixated on the fact that the candidates' faces were well-lit but their hands were basically in the dark? Just a weird thing -- particularly for those candidates -- Bernie, I'm looking at you -- who gestured a lot with their (unlit) hands.

Van Jones, another guy who tends to piss me off too often, did so again last night.

During a post-debate analysis, Jones reacted to a moment in the New Hampshire debate where all the candidates except one, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, put up their hands when asked if they were worried about a “socialist” (i.e., Sanders) at the top of the 2020 Democratic ticket.

“Joe Lockhart and I did the three count. Three Mississippis, before Klobuchar put her hand up,” host Chris Cuomo noted. “[Sanders] has been redefining the word. Can it be redefined in a way that works in America?”

“I don’t know if he can,” Jones said, before explaining that his take that the term is more problematic than Sanders’ actual agenda. “For his young supporters, they call themselves socialists, but they really just seem to have, like, grandparent envy. In other words, their grandparents pretty much get to see a doctor for free. And want the same thing. Grandparents went to college for $4 a semester. And they want to do the same thing. Why call yourselves socialist? You basically just say: ‘Grandma and grandpa, I want what you had.’ The idea that is some socialist revolution or whatever. This is not the socialist revolution we heard about in the ’60s and ’70s. And I think the label does harm when the policies are pretty reasonable.”

It's a generational difference for sure, and Jones' POV -- elitist and stale -- is coming from the grands'.  Chris Matthews, Exhibit A.

All evidence suggests that the yoots outnumber Boomers, especially those with this mindset, and they were the ones who got the job done in 2018.  Will they save their generation -- and the world -- from incrementalism and turn out in 2020?  I expect so from anecdotal observation, but I need confirmation.  I can at least predict that they will do a lot better than the (older) Latinx bloc, which apparently is still sitting around with its arms crossed waiting to be catered to.

What Twitter had to say: An extremely valuable round-up (for me).

The snark went a bit more cerebral.

Friday, February 07, 2020

Election 2020 Update: #coronavirus, #DemDebate, Iowa, New Hampshire ...

Will the contagion wreck the global economy?  What about the US economy; the issue Trump expects to win on?  There are as always multiple moving parts, and I'm obviously not an economist.  So take this news for what it may be worth.  Food for thought ... or empty carbs.

China announced on Thursday that it will halve additional tariffs on $75 billion worth of US imports, as the world's two largest economies continue to step back from a years-long trade war that has hurt both countries and dented global growth.

The move comes as China is grappling with the escalating coronavirus outbreak. The disease has killed 565 people, mostly in China, and infected more than 28,000 people in over 25 countries and territories.


(Asian economists) have warned that the coronavirus outbreak could dent China's economic growth this year and have knock-on effects for the global economy.

When the outbreak hit, Beijing took the extraordinary step of placing major cities on lockdown in order to contain it. The government also extended the Lunar New Year holiday, effectively bringing factories around the country to a standstill as workers have been ordered to stay home. Millions of people have pulled back on consumption, as they hunker down indoors and avoid public spaces.

I can tell you anecdotally that the same is true in this country.  There is low-grade fear -- that's the proper word -- among Americans that matches the description of the Chinese in the last sentence in the excerpt above.

Oil is crashing because demand is in free fall.  This could be very bad, obviously, for Texas oilmen  and Texas Republicans (a redundancy) and Sheldon Adelson -- who owns casinos in Macau, now a ghost town -- in the short run.  And all of that by extension bad for Trump.  Ironically, things might just rebound in time for the November election to save his fat, lying ass.

The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak is already scuttling supply chains and wreaking havoc on companies around the world that do business in China, but if analysts' projections are correct, the rebound from the virus could help propel the U.S. economy to new heights right around the time of the 2020 presidential election.

Why it matters: With President Trump touting the stock market's performance and jobs growth as key accomplishments, that bounce-back could play a major role in the election's outcome.

What's happening: S&P Global expects the outbreak to "stabilize globally in April 2020, with virtually no new transmissions in May."

And most economists predict the world will get back to business as usual by the summer -- and make up for lost time with accelerated economic growth in the second half of the year.

The economy will do whatever it does.  My POV is that there is much more to worry about with the flu.  I got my shot four months ago.  And I am not changing my behavior or buying any face masks or cutting Asian restaurants out of my dining options.  YMMV.

But on that note ... do you think these fears dampened Iowa caucus turnout?

Campaigns were expecting high turnout in Iowa, but it didn't happen -- and that has to be worrying for Democrats.

The closing campaign events were all packed. And yet, turnout was more on par with 2016 than the record-setting 2008 campaign. About 172,000 turned out this year. It was 171,000 in 2016, and 239,000 in 2008.

It very well may be that undecided voters stayed home and are fine with whoever wins. But Democrats were hoping to show just how enthusiastic their base is to turn out and beat President Trump.

In this first contest, it didn't happen.

That was Takeaway #4 from Domenico Montenaro at NPR about Iowa.  Number 5 -- you probably could have guessed it -- had to bash Bernie.

The Sanders campaign points to polls showing that he beats Trump in a general election. And that's true.

But his performance in Iowa didn't help make his case. Sanders promised turnout would be north of 239,000. It wasn't. And he didn't turn out new voters. In fact, the percentage of first-time caucus-goers went down this year, even compared to 2016. In 2008, the percentage of first-time caucus-goers was 57%; in 2016, it was 44%; this year, it was just 35%.

Sanders has a massive base of support with voters under 30, but he didn't appear to expand beyond that. Sanders won the raw-vote total, but losing in rural areas cost him delegates. Sanders' votes came from urban areas and college towns. That's not where Democrats need to show strength.

So with moderates splitting the vote, and Sanders beating out Warren in Iowa, he looks stronger today for the nomination than he did before Iowa, but he didn't do much to help his argument that he's best to beat Trump.

A reasonable enough argument, but conclusions drawn from one state -- where 92% of the caucus-goers were white -- and a counting process so fraught with errors that most news organizations refuse to declare an outright winner, make this premise watch-worthy, not predictive.

(A sidebar about Iowa: there's been an awful lot of crap -- not a pun -- Tweeted about the sad display of incompetence at best, and corruption at worst, of the convoluted tabulation.  I just don't care to refry those beans.)

Hawkeye results are showing us once more that they have always been about media spin and momentum, almost to complete exclusion of any other value.  To that end, I can certainly agree that Uncle Joe is gasping for oxygen, and that Elizabeth Warren desperately needs to finish ahead of Buttigieg.  New Hampshire can reinforce Sneaky Pete as a front-runner or dispel that notion.  See Takeaways 1, 2, and 3.  If Klobuchar finishes fifth again she should really drop out.

Meanwhile, Yang reboots:

... Andrew Yang's campaign laid off staff Wednesday after a dismal showing in the Iowa caucuses and with the New Hampshire primary less than a week away.

The bulk of the layoffs came in the digital and communications departments, as well as in policy, according to a source familiar with the move, who described the result as an abrupt surprise to staff. Yang had garnered only about 1% of Iowa's state delegates as of the latest results, released Thursday.

He had a nice moment in his town hall Wednesday night ...

... and he'll be debating tonight, having missed the last one.  Yang is a cypher; an intangible when it comes to electability.  I have no idea what his end game might be at the moment.  Here's the news only the paid political consultants care about.

By the end of 2019, Yang's campaign had an 87% burn rate with $4.2 million in cash on hand, according to FEC filings.

-- Speaking of the "E" word:  IMO only #MayoCheat is not electable.  As applied to Bernie and Warren (as a democratic socialist and a woman respectively, duh) it's foolish.  Biden's electable but he can't beat Trump.  This is a difference, not a distinction.

BootEdgeEdge's biggest problem isn't that the US electorate will not vote for a gay person.  That finishes second to his invisible support among African Americans.  A larger-than-expected number of Black men and women are already empirically demonstrating that they won't turn out to vote for Democrats.  Why any Democrat who wants to defeat Trump -- irrespective of skin pigmentation -- would cast a ballot for Pete strikes me as the epitome of ignorance.

For the moment let's put aside these socially uncomfortable truths.

Pete Buttigieg is too inexperienced to be president of the United States.  He got one vote when he ran for DNC chair against Tom Perez and Keith Ellison a few years ago.  He lost 62.5% - 37.5% when he ran for Indiana state treasurer.  In the two elections he won -- elected and re-elected South Bend mayor -- he did so with a grand total of 10,991 and 8,515 votes respectively.

And to put it more diplomatically than I wrote above: despite his showing in rural Iowa, his biography is simply too problematic in culturally conservative counties and states that Democrats must recapture in 2020.

The highest government office Pete Buttigieg is qualified to be, today, is VA secretary.

-- That leaves Steyer and Money Bags.  One of these is better than the other.  One is in tonight's debate and one is not.  One has had exceptions made on his behalf, to the dismay of candidates who have left the race, so that he can appear in the next debate.  One has more momentum than the other, especially in Texas.  That giant sucking sound you hear is blue lips all over his ass.

“I like that he is here. I strongly believe we have a chance to deliver the state’s 38 electoral college votes to the Democratic nominee. But it won’t happen of its own accord. It’s going to take a massive level of organizing and a significant investment. … The fact that he’s willing to do that bodes very, very well for the state, and may bode well for his candidacy.”

Who said it?  No peeking.

Hard pass, Lillie.

-- Oh yeah, the debate.

Vox's take suggests that Warren may have to get after Bernie again, Biden might jump on Pete, and a few other incendiary possibilities.  I'll Tweet some tonight and post a wrap-up tomorrow.

-- Here's your Socialist Workers Party ticket.

SWP vice presidential candidate Malcolm Jarrett, at left, joins presidential candidate Alyson Kennedy on autoworkers’ picket line in Arlington, Texas, during GM strike last fall. Right, Kennedy discusses politics, SWP program with 
Jason Denton on his doorstep in Dallas, Jan. 25, 2019. Photo credit: The Militant

Alyson Kennedy grew up in Indianapolis, where she was attracted to the massive battles she followed on TV against racist cops and KKK thugs across the South that tore down Jim Crow segregation, strengthening the whole working class. After she move to Louisville, Kentucky, she joined the fight to desegregate public schools there in 1975.

Today she works at Walmart in Dallas, where she organizes with other workers to press for higher wages and better working conditions and builds support for other struggles in the interests of working people.

A socialist and trade union fighter for more than four decades, Kennedy, 69, is a member of the Socialist Workers Party’s National Committee and was the party’s vice presidential candidate in 2008 and for president in 2016.

It's not clear to me whether the party's candidates will be on the Texas ballot even as a qualified write-in, if that.  Kennedy was supposed to be a challenger to Ted Cruz in 2018, but failed to appear.  I tried to contact her campaign several times that year without response.

Malcolm Jarrett, Socialist Workers Party candidate for vice president, 49, works as a cook at a catering company in Pittsburgh. He was attracted to working-class struggle as an African American youth in eastern Missouri, as his family joined in the defense of the Black community in Cairo, Illinois, from assaults by cops and vigilantes. In these struggles, he gained a real appreciation of the support from farmers in the area. Jarrett was also influenced by the popular revolutionary movement that overthrew the apartheid regime in South Africa.

He joined the SWP while organizing protests at Southeast Missouri State University to oppose Washington’s war against Iraq in 1991. Today he stands in solidarity with protests by workers and youth against wars promoted by both Washington and Tehran in Iran and Iraq.

SWP has also announced US Senate candidates, including Texas.

-- Joe Walsh falls by the right-hand wayside.

-- Snark, anyone?

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Election 2020 Update: Iowait

And wait.  And wait.

Monday night’s Iowa caucuses were supposed to offer America a first look at the Democratic Party’s front-runner in the 2020 presidential race, based on the results of the first primary battle. That didn’t quite happen. Instead, after a chaotic night full of errors and mismanagement, the party had still failed to name a winner by the next afternoon.

While party leaders and pundits alike are struggling to figure out what went wrong, it looks like a hastily-built and reportedly insufficiently tested smartphone app is at the center of the disaster.

As you can click and see in the excerpt ... still no final tallies as of this mornng.  Nobody could have anticipated that technology might prove to be democracy's undoing, after all.

It's a shame they can't blame the Russians.

The 2020 Iowa caucuses turned out to have been designed to depend on the use of a new, untested app with extensive ties to establishment insiders and to the Pete Buttigieg campaign, and because of problems using this app as of this writing we are still waiting on the full results of the election. The Iowa Democratic Party has bizarrely released a partial result with 62 percent of 99 counties reporting, which just so happens to have favored the campaign of a Mr. Peter Buttigieg, who in the sample came out on top in delegates despite coming in second in votes.

According to an Iowa precinct chair, the problems using the app (developed by the aptly named Shadow, Inc) included literally switching the numbers entered into it on the final step of reporting results.

“A precinct chair in Iowa said the app got stuck on the last step when reporting results,” CNN reports. “It was uploading a picture of the precinct’s results. The chair said they were finally able to upload, so they took a screenshot. The app then showed different numbers than what they had submitted as captured in their screenshot.”

Here's a live look at an Iowa precinct captain attempting to use the app.

And here is your executive summary.

It doesn’t actually matter any more who really won Iowa at this point; the damage is already done.

Iowa is a sparsely populated state with an insignificant number of delegates; nobody campaigns there for the delegates, they campaign to make headlines and generate excitement and favorable press for themselves in the first electoral contest of the presidential primary race. This has already happened, and with Buttigieg first declaring victory before any results were in, followed by his delegate count lead announced hours later, the favorable press has predominantly gone his way.

More reading if you care:

-- Buttigieg and/or Sanders will win Iowa.  What's next?

-- Iowa's biggest loser wasn't Joe Biden, though that should have been the media's top story.

-- Worst in the Nation: What the Iowa caucus disaster means for the Democratic Party.

Trump’s campaign wasted no time in sowing doubt about the legitimacy of the outcome and ridiculing the Democratic Party for its incompetence. “It would be natural for people to doubt the fairness of the process,” Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale said in a statement. “And these are the people who want to run our entire health care system?”

-- And my personal favorite: the Iowa caucus choked itself to death.

"A Systemwide Disaster." "Meltdown." "Debacle." These are the headlines coming out of the Hawkeye State after its caucus on Monday night. Maybe it had to end this way for Iowa, a state that re-elects men like Chuck Grassley and Steve King with dreary consistency, and which has now seen caucus disaster for the third straight time.

Alllllllllrighty then.  On To New Hampshire!

-- We have CNN town halls tonight, continuing tomorrow night.

There is one glaring omission from this slate.

Gabbard is polling ahead of Yang, Steyer, and even Bloomberg in the RCP collated averages, but CNN is including ... Deval Patrick in this lineup.

I don't care for CNN picking favorites among presidential candidates any more than I do the Texas Tribune selecting their/"our" Senate Democratic contenders.  (It's remarkable how hard they have worked to ignore the woman who earned 24% in the 2018 primary against Beto O'Rourke, but when all you care about is fundraising, that's what happens.)

-- That's a segue-way into Friday night's debateUpdate: This isn't the one the oligarch bought his way into; that one's in Vegas on February 19.

Slated for February 7 in Manchester, New Hampshire, the debate is the first of a trio happening that month as individuals in all four early states head to the polls (or caucuses). The debate’s start time will be 8 pm ET; it’s expected to run for about three hours.

Scheduled just days after Iowa’s caucuses and less than a week before New Hampshire’s February 11 primary, the debate, hosted by ABC, WMUR-TV, and Apple News, is poised to inform last-minute voter decisions both in the state and across the country. As Vox’s Ella Nilsen reports, roughly two-thirds of voters in New Hampshire still haven’t made a final decision about their top candidate. It’s possible candidates’ last-ditch debate appearances -- and arguments -- could make the difference.

Nina Turner's use of the 'O' word got a well-publicized rise out of MSNBC contributor/The Root politics editor Dr. Jason Johnson.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, Money Bags is buying entire statewide Democratic parties, not just the DNC, and not just a place on the debate stage.

Click The Root link for their take on Bloomberg's purchase of a debate podium from the POC perspective.  Both of these issues w/r/t debate qualification -- class and race -- are another pair of problems for the DNC, at a time when Trump is ascendant.

-- Bloomberg has doubled his ad buying after the Iowa clusterf.  He bought so much airtime in Houston in November that a politico working for Sylvester Turner in his runoff against Tony Buzbee whined about escalating media costs.

-- Meanwhile, Elizabeth Warren is canceling ads her campaign purchased in the two states that vote after South Carolina.  Make of this whatever you like.

^^This^^ is your site for all of that shit right there.  Tea leaves and goat entrails no charge.

Got more but I think I'll stop here since I will have to blog a lot about these people this week.  One little bite of snark before I go.

Monday, February 03, 2020

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance celebrates Black History Month and the many Texans to be feted: Bessie Coleman, Barbara Jordan, Hattie Mae White, Juanita Craft, Curtis Graves, Wallace Jefferson, Beyonce', Simone Biles, Dr. Thomas Freeman, S. Lee Merritt, and many, many others.

We'd also like to congratulate the former Dallas Texans -- and the Hunt family of Dallas -- on their Super Bowl victory yesterday.  And with the Iowa caucuses on the calendar this evening, Democrats will "soon" have some actual White House front-runners as opposed to polling ones.

In his regular Update of the Democratic presidential primary, PDiddie at Brains and Eggs tried not to get too excited about the Bernie surge taking place.  ( is currently projecting delegate counts in IA, NH, and NV as winners for the Vermont senator.)  Berners have been out in force across the Lone Star State ...

PDiddie also got a momentary thrill out of the Texas Lyceum poll, but last night's UT-Tyler/Dallas News survey splashed a little cold water on that.

Meanwhile Kuff examined that Lyceum pollSocraticGadfly, having seen the Chomskyites beg Howie Hawkins to run a "safe states" strategy if he's the Green Party nominee, loudly applauded Hawkins for essentially telling them to STFU.

Two weeks prior to the Texas primary, Jolt Action is hosting these presidential candidates in Pasadena (presuming none of them drop out before then, of course):

Unfortunately Jolt is not doing the same for John Cornyn's challengers, as they have already endorsed their founder in the US Senate primary.

That would be in concert with their candidate's continued disingenuousness about her surname (something she has apologized for, but continues to say).

The TexTrib's Patrick Svitek tweeted some polling about the Senate Ds.

In the wake of the HD-28 Democratic debacle, everybody had a take.  Some were hot; some were not.  Some were lukewarm.

Mustafa Tameez, blogging for the Houston Chronicle, says the road to the majority in the Texas House goes through the middle of the electorate.  ('Middle' is the wrong label for independent voters as Tameez describes them.  Using his research, a better label would be 'seldom' or 'sporadic' voters; certainly not 'low information' or 'non-voters'.)

In last week's Wrangle, this blogger ranted about misuse of the word 'progressive'.  This week, both Gadfly and Jaime Abeytia picked up on that with rants of their own.

Robert Rivard at his Report noted that SBOE member Ken Mercer (who represents a district Hillary Clinton carried in 2016) is big ol' peddler of wingnut dishonesty.

Nonsequiteuse thanked the Houston GLBT political caucus for listening to members who asked them to hold lawmakers credibly accused of sexual harassment to account.  The Caucus made several surprise endorsements at their weekend meeting.

As is often the case at these meetings, a few took offense.

Houston Justice Coalition showed how they're registering voters currently in county jail.

Some developments in recent chemical plant explosions:

Houston Public Media reported that the Houston and Dallas metro areas both suffered over 100 days of poor air quality in 2018, according to a report from Environment Texas.

Scott Henson at Grits for Breakfast has the police blotter.

And a second helping of Grits.

The Justice Collaborative has launched The Ogg Blog, providing background on various criticisms vs. embattled Harris County DA Kim Ogg as she faces a bevy of opponents in the coming March primary. Grits is grateful; I'd intended to compile a long, greatest-hits post for Ogg as a bookend to this one about Travis County DA Margaret Moore, so they've saved me the trouble.

Closing out another week with some Great State items on the lighter side of the news.

The battleship Texas will be relocating from its longtime berth at the San Jacinto State Historic Site following repairs to its hull.  Where it is going is still to be determined.

This book review from Justin Miller at the TO regarding El Paso politics is revealing.