Bernie Sanders

The Donald Trump Show (Tears for Fears)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump looks at a sheet of notes and talking points as he speaks during a rally in Eugene, Oregon, 6 May 2016. (Photo by Ted S. Warren/AP)

The Donald Trump phenomenon is admittedly a depressing spectacle to witness. Then again, not all of that sucking of souls is entirely on the candidate; a vampiric press must also answer; sometimes instead of simply toddling back and forth in search of sound bite, it seems useful to mark thresholds and declare an issue, well, if not over, then at least sufficiently defined:

Anthony Scaramucci, a New York financier who recently backed Trump, told Fox News that the real estate mogul’s reluctance is due to “the complication of the return, the fact that he’s under an audit, he feels that he doesn’t want to give out that information to the general public and have a whole nightmare situation with opposition research trying to pick holes through the return.”

(Trudo)

Consider, please, that the argument put forth by a surrogate is essentially that the GOP frontrunner and presumptive nominee is afraid.

Yes, really:

“… he feels that he doesn’t want to give out that information to the general public and have a whole nightmare situation with opposition research trying to pick holes through the return.”

Such are the dangers of surrogacy: Mr. Trump apparently does not want to release his tax returns because he is afraid to answer for what is in them.

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Two Bugs in an Office with a Severed Head

Detail of 'Bug Martini' by Adam Huber, 4 May 2016.You know, this time we don’t get to blame Adam; the white-collar rank and file would not have these problems if they had collective bargaining rights.

On the upside, the old lady was already dead; it’s not like the li’l bugger went on a spree.

Which raises another point about spree violence: Economic security might help reduce the number of incidents. So would good mental health benefits.

No, I don’t really have a plan for accomplishing all that, but, hey, if Bernie Sanders can make it this far without studying his own platform, it seems worth mentioning.

Yeah, you know, maybe I should just stick with bad puns and perverse vapidity for filler.

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Image note: Detail of Bug Martini by Adam Huber, 4 May 2016.

The Donald Trump Show (Pipe Bombs and Pussies)

Donald Trump speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference [CPAC], 6 March 2014, at National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

This is an important rule:

• It is not always fair to blame a politician for the actions of supporters.

And this is the flip side:

• Sometimes it is exactly fair to blame a politician for actions of supporters.

But there is also this:

• This is the quality of mind that supports Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy.

Or, as Ryan J. Reilly explained yesterday for Huffington Post:

A fanatical Donald Trump supporter, who was arrested by the FBI in Oregon this week after repeatedly threatening to kill President Barack Obama and federal agents, had multiple pipe bombs in his home, authorities alleged in court on Friday.

In one Jan. 31 Facebook post cited by the FBI, [John Martin] Roos referred to agents as “pussies” and wrote he would “snipe them with hunting rifles everywhere.” (Despite his threats to kill members of law enforcement, he also complained on Facebook earlier this month about the “liberal media … slamming police.”) In a post in November that was also cited by the FBI, Roos spoke out against accepting refugees and threatened to kill Obama.

John Martin Roos in detail of undated photo via Facebook.“Obama you goat fffing fudgepacker, the refugees are men of fighting age. Black lives matter! Sure we need someone to pick cotton and wash cars. Paris, burn diseased muslim neighborhoods to the ground and start over with human beings. Obama you are on a hit list,” he wrote in a post that appears to have been removed.

Beyond what was mentioned in the affidavit, Roos regularly posted on both Facebook and Twitter about his support for Trump and his hatred for Obama, who he called a “muslim faggot” and other derogatory terms. He indicated he wanted to kill Obama’s family and made other racist and sexist statements about Michelle Obama. He also made negative references to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, singer Beyonce, Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly and reporter Michelle Fields, and said he believed that the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was killed by Obama. He praised Ann Coulter and Stacey Dash, and posted several links to posts on Breitbart.com.

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An Important Day

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at her presidential primary election night rally, Tuesday, April 26, 2016, in Philadelphia. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

Today was supposed to be something of a good day. The question, then, is what tomorrow brings. Let us start, then, as Steve Benen did, with yesterday.

Recognizing the writing on the wall, Sanders’ aides conceded yesterday that the campaign will “reassess” its strategy going forward. While that’s often a euphemism for “quit,” that’s not the case here: Sanders isn’t prepared to walk away, but he is prepared to shift his focus in light of the recent results. Consider the statement his campaign issued last night:

“I congratulate Secretary Clinton on her victories tonight, and I look forward to issue-oriented campaigns in the 14 contests to come. […]

“The people in every state in this country should have the right to determine who they want as president and what the agenda of the Democratic Party should be. That’s why we are in this race until the last vote is cast. That is why this campaign is going to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia with as many delegates as possible to fight for a progressive party platform that calls for a $15 an hour minimum wage, an end to our disastrous trade policies, a Medicare-for-all health care system, breaking up Wall Street financial institutions, ending fracking in our country, making public colleges and universities tuition free and passing a carbon tax so we can effectively address the planetary crisis of climate change.”

Over the last couple of months, each of the Sanders campaign’s election-night statements have included at least one reference to his “path to the nomination.” This one did not. It wasn’t an accidental omission.

Sanders started the race as an issue-oriented candidate who didn’t expect to be the party’s nominee, and the recent results have brought him full circle. He’s not done fighting; he’s just going to fight for something new: he can’t catch Clinton through the ballot box, but he can “fight for a progressive party platform.”

This is the day, apparently, when the Democratic Party is supposed to come together and turn its eyes to November.

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Pretty Much a Useless Post

Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders, (I-VT) and Hillary Clinton interrupt each other during the Univision/Washington Post Democratic presidential debate at Miami-Dade College, Wednesday, 9 March 2016, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Roll Call offers a summary of “What We Learned From Wednesday’s Democratic Debate”, including commentary from Adam Green of Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Clay Shroers from League of Conservation Voters, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, and DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Two main questions emerge:

Adam Green: From a marketing standpoint―you know, trying to hook the audience with an idea―do you think there might be a better way to say it than “popular economic populism ideas”?

Reince Priebus: I just need to know: Is there some pathological reason Republicans can no longer say “Democratic Party” properly?

No, really, if you cannot correctly pronounce the words “Democratic Party”, you’re probably not smart enough to hold public office in the United States.

Still, though, can you say, “popular economic populism ideas” five times fast?

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Image note: Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders, (I-VT) and Hillary Clinton interrupt each other during the Univision/Washington Post Democratic presidential debate at Miami-Dade College, Wednesday, 9 March 2016, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Roll Call Staff. “What We Learned From Wednesday’s Democratic Debate”. At the Races. Roll Call. 9 March 2016.

The Conservative Conundrum, and Other Notes

Republican Presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks during the 2016 Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Candidates Forum in Washington, DC, December 3, 2015 (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)

Paul Krugman offers a curious observation:

As many have noted, it’s remarkable how shocked — shocked! — that establishment has been at the success of Donald Trump’s racist, xenophobic campaign. Who knew that this kind of thing would appeal to the party’s base? Isn’t the G.O.P. the party of Ronald Reagan, who sold conservatism with high-minded philosophical messages, like talking about a “strapping young buck” using food stamps to buy T-bone steaks?

Seriously, Republican political strategy has been exploiting racial antagonism, getting working-class whites to despise government because it dares to help Those People, for almost half a century. So it’s amazing to see the party’s elite utterly astonished by the success of a candidate who is just saying outright what they have consistently tried to convey with dog whistles.

We might call it curious not for being obscure, but, rather, for being obvious.

That is to say, despite the blunt force with which reality asserts itself, we are somehow expected to ignore it. The Republican Party, of course, seems very good at ignoring it. Even establishment tools like RedState managing editor Leon H. Wolf are getting in on the act:

Sadly, 35% of our party has decided to abdicate their responsibility as adults to take their civic voting duty seriously, and so the poisonous threat of Trump has completely altered my own personal voting calculus.

And we, too, might try the word, sadly.

Because, sadly, we find ourselves up against a baseline standard that can only break when conservatives need it to; blaming voters, even on those occasions when circumstance otherwise describes it as wholly appropriate, is problematic in the marketplace.

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The Mike Huckabee Show (Republican Virtue)

Mike Huckabee: "I trust @BernieSanders with my tax dollars like I trust a North Korean chef with my labrador! #DemDebate" (13 October 2015, via Twitter)

In truth, given the terrible rhetoric earning Ben Carson rewards, why wouldn’t Mike Huckabee, go out of his way to throw down a racist jab that only invites reminders about the time his son sadistically killed a dog.

This is Mike Huckabee, after all.

And this is your 2016 Republican presidential clown car.

Oh, right. That. You’re going to love the follow-up.

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Image note: Composite ― Detail of photo by Charlie Niebergall/AP; tweet by Mike Huckabee, 13 October 2015.

Huckabee, Mike. “I trust Bernie Sanders with my tax dollars like I trust a North Korean chef with a labrador!” Twitter. 13 October 2015.

Lavender, Paige. “Mike Huckabee Got Pretty Racist While Live-Tweeting The Dem Debate”. The Huffington Post. 13 October 2015.

The Ted Cruz Show (Pleasant Senate Sunday)

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks to reporters following a rare Sunday Senate session on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sunday, 26 July 2015. Senior Senate Republicans lined up Sunday to rebuke Cruz for attacking Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, an extraordinary display of intraparty division played out live on the Senate floor. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

There are a number of things to consider―aren’t there always?―about the weekend dispute between Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and pretty much the rest of his Republican colleagues in the United States Senate. First and foremost, Tierney Sneed brings the latest, in the form of a five-point overview, for the aptly named Talking Points Memo.

The elephant in the chamber, such as it is, however, is the entire question of the Export-Import Bank.

The Ex-Im controversy is, in a word, absurd.

Would you like a few more? How about worthy of ridicule.

Naturally, Mr. Cruz wants in.

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The Jeb Bush Show (Radical Restructure Remix)

Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush waits in a hallway after a campaign event Saturday, June 27, 2015, in Henderson, Nev. (Photo by John Locher/AP)

“My aspiration for the country and I believe we can achieve it, is 4 percent growth as far as the eye can see. Which means we have to be a lot more productive, workforce participation has to rise from its all-time modern lows. It means that people need to work longer hours.”

Jeb Bush

This is an occasion when it is instructive to read past the superficial narrative. True, this is another occasion on which Mr. Bush required a do-overα, and the line really didn’t sound all that good. Still, though, the rebound was good enough to get Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)―the ostenisble House GOP budget wonk and former vice-presidential nominee―onboard. And even Democratic-sympathizing pundits and politicians alike can find a reason to go with the later iteration; to wit, Steve Benen:

For what it’s worth, the Florida Republican, not long after his interview, clarified that his comments were about part-time vs. full-time employment. The Washington Post reported Bush saying, “You can take it out of context all you want, but high-sustained growth means that people work 40 hours rather than 30 hours and that by our success, they have money, disposable income for their families to decide how they want to spend it rather than getting in line and being dependent on government.”

As a matter of Economics 101, Bush’s broader points have at least some technical merit. When an economy has more full-time workers, it means more economic activity. When employees work more hours, it means more output and greater growth. None of this is controversial.

The problem with Bush’s rhetoric, however, is the real-world implications, and the degree to which he fails to understand the issue.

For example, the Republican candidate, who made $5.8 million in “consulting and speaking” income in 2013, makes it sound as if sluggish economic growth is your fault – you’re just not working enough hours. In reality, however, full-time employment is soaring when compared to part-time employment, and Americans are already working, on average, 47-hour weeks.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (S-VT), running for the Democratic nomination, is also willing to follow that course.

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The V.A. Shuffle

Grieving in Columbia

“If the price tag is any indication, Sanders compromised quite a bit – the Senate bill, which passed in June on a 93-to-3 vote, had a price tag of $35 billion over 10 years. This new agreement with the GOP-led House has reduced the aid package to $15 billion, less than half the original total.”

Steve Benen

Perhaps some of us recall a recent Beltway dustup when it was discovered that the Veterans Administration was apparently failing to do its job, even going so far as to keep secret lists describing reality while devising all sorts of lies on paper to suggest everything was … well … that is the question, isn’t it?

After all, perhaps some of us also remember that the idea of the VA as a bureaucratic nightmare akin to that planet-eating monster thing in Rise of the Silver Surfer, a film that, like the 113th Congress, probably should have been shelved, or else simply never greenlit.

We all know the cycle; this is just a particularly ugly manifestation. Indeed, it seems a perpetual part of our American experience; take a noble endeavor that cannot be recorded in body counts, territorial annexations, or ledgers, and think about how a society engages those challenges.

Twenty years ago, it was schools. The “No Child Left Behind” debacle was the height of a movement idea. The schools, facing budgetary issues challenging their ability to perform their jobs, were told that they needed to show they could do the job without the extra money, and then the legislatures would consider writing the checks.

Step one? Describe the problem.

Step two? Refuse to do anything about the problem.

Step three? Tell people that if they show they can solve the problem without the legislature’s help, the legislature will consider the possibility of just maybe deciding to do something to help.

To wit, perhaps some might also conjure up a strange memory, seemingly recent, in which a sitting U.S. Senator castigated veterans support groups for failing to agree with him. (more…)