Stirring Up the Pro-Israel Status Quo at the DNC Convention

Democratic Party, Israel, Sanders and Clinton

Proof that perhaps the Sanders campaign has not been in vain, whatever the outcome:

A bitter divide over the Middle East could threaten Democratic Party unity as representatives of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont vowed to upend what they see as the party’s lopsided support of Israel.

Two of the senator’s appointees to the party’s platform drafting committee,Cornel West and James Zogby, on Wednesday denounced Israel’s “occupation” of the West Bank and Gaza and said they believed that rank-and-file Democrats no longer hewed to the party’s staunch support of the Israeli government. They said they would try to get their views incorporated into the platform, the party’s statement of core beliefs, at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in July.

According to a contributor to Juan Cole’s site, Sanders “will be allowed to name five members to the 15-member committee that writes the platform at the Democratic Party’s national convention in late July in Philadelphia even if he is not the nominee. Clinton will name six.” Debbie Wasserman Schultz will name the other four members, who no doubt will be Clinton sycophants. Although the DNC will deny that.

So the Sanders appointees will be outnumbered. But they aren’t going to be quiet. The New York Times continues,

The presence of Dr. Zogby and Dr. West on the 15-member panel, which also has six appointees of Hillary Clinton and four from the party chairwoman, does not guarantee their views will prevail. But it raises the prospect that one of the party’s most sensitive issues will be open to public debate while Mrs. Clinton is in a fight to unify her party and appeal to voters turned off by Donald J. Trump.

It also laid bare a steady shift in the Democratic Party, whose members have been less willing to back Israel’s government than in years past. According to a Pew Research Center survey in April, self-described liberal Democrats were twice as likely to sympathize with Palestinians over Israel than they were only two years ago. Forty percent of liberals sympathized more with Palestinians, the most since 2001, while 33 percent sympathized more with Israel.

Clinton surrogates, on the other hand, vow that the platform will reflect the Secretary’s views, which appear to be to allow Bibi Netayanhu to dictate our foreign policy.

Although Cornel West is a bit too much of a provocateur for my taste, I hope that at least some Dem insiders wake up to the fact that their slavish whatever-Likud-wants position is growing increasingly unpopular with Democratic voters. And if so, somebody should memo Chuck Schumer.

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The Fuse that Fizzled

Sanders and Clinton

The big news today was that the State Department inspector general issued a sternly worded report critical of Secretary of State’s email use. Paul Waldman explains this about as well as anybody. In short, yeah, she broke rules; no, it doesn’t appear there were any harmful consequences. The report didn’t include any new bombshell information.

And this is about what I’ve expected from the email thing. I’m not seeing the word “criminal” in any news stories. I expect the report to be the end of it. Well, as far as the government is concerned. Politics are something else.

Some Sanders supporters are still eagerly waiting for the indictments that will never come. And, of course, Republicans will be all over it. The problem is that there really isn’t any new information here, I don’t believe, and unless there are unexpected further developments I doubt they can keep the public interested in the emails all the way until November.

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Pub Quiz

Obama Administration

“The political and commercial morals of the United States are not merely food for laughter, they are an entire banquet.” — Mark Twain

I like to check in with British news sources like The Guardian and The Financial Times because sometimes they actually do a smarter job of figuring us out than we do.  FT content is behind a subscription firewall, alas, but sometimes I get lucky and find a usable link.

Anyway, because we’re all burned out, or at least I am, and to lighten the mood, see how well you do on this Pub Quiz created by the Brits at FT. I only got a couple of them right.

I’ll add some more questions. Eventually I’ll put the answers in a comment.

1. Which Republican candidate said “Net neutrality is Obamacare for the Internet”?

(a) Ted Cruz (b) Ben Carson (c) Rand Paul (d) Carly Fiorina

2. Bonus: What the hell does “Obamacare for the Internet” even mean?

3. At one point Jeb Bush was criticized for saying “Look, stuff happens.” What was he referring to?

(a) Global warming (b) Gun violence (c) That his brother George endorsed him (d) That his mother didn’t

4. Ben Carson recently was un-appointed from Trump’s vice president search committee. According to rumors reported at The Daily Beast, this was because …

(a) He nominated himself. (b) He nominated Sarah Palin. (c) He nominated Jesus. (d) He was vetting candidates by examining “the fruit salad of their life.”

Your turn.

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Clash of the Unpopular Titans

Bad Hair, Democratic Party, Republican Party, Sanders and Clinton

Or, what if they gave an election and nobody voted?

It says in the Washington Post:

Never in the history of the Post-ABC poll have the two major party nominees been viewed as harshly as Clinton and Trump.

Nearly 6 in 10 registered voters say they have negative impressions of both major candidates. Overall, Clinton’s net negative rating among registered voters is minus-16,  while Trump’s is minus-17, though Trump’s numbers have improved since March.

It takes some real talent for our two major political parties to  (presumably) nominate two people most voters don’t like.

At this point, the two candidates are in a statistical dead heat among registered voters, with Trump favored by 46 percent and Clinton favored by 44 percent. That represents an 11-point shift toward the presumptive Republican nominee since March. Among all adults, Clinton holds a six-point lead
(48 percent to 42 percent), down from 18 points in March.

This data about the close race between Clinton and Trump have gotten a lot of attention, but as many rightly point out, these numbers are likely to shift significantly before the election and don’t mean that much now. I still think Clinton will beat him.

Meanwhile, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who has given Clinton a stiff challenge in the contest for the Democratic nomination, enjoys the most positive rating of the three. Among registered voters, Sanders is net positive — 49 percent to 41 percent — and has seen his image improve steadily the longer he has been a candidate.

He needed more time and public exposure to introduce himself to people before the primaries started. The Democratic establishment and mass media denied him that.

But what I really want to write about is, it appears the general election campaign will be between two unpopular candidates. How did that happen? And what does that say about the status of democracy in America?

First, this tells me the political system is being played, and not by the people. An honest competition actually decided by the people ought to have given us more popular candidates. What we’re seeing is a symptom of managed democracy, a term usually aimed at Vladimir Putin’s Russia but which, many argue, describes the United States.  In a paper about managed democracy in Russia, we find,

According to Tretyakov’s definition, managed democracy is a democracy (as there are elections, voters have alternative options, there is media freedom, leaders are changing), but it is corrected by the ruling class (or rather that part of it that holds power).

Put another way, this is why we can’t have nice things. We aren’t really in charge.

See also Ted Morgan in Salon, “This Isn’t How a Democracy Should Work.”

But the managing is happening in different ways in the two parties. If anything, Trump is a management failure.  He is not the guy the ruling class wanted. The faux populism the Right has cultivated so well all these years got out of control; thus, Trump.

Clearly, the Republican Party also has lost control of the nominating process; they barely controlled it in 2012.  Relaxed campaign finance laws allowed any clown into the race who could talk a few wealthy people into bankrolling him. Candidates on the Republican side more or less were independent franchises who didn’t need the RNC.

However, it’s also the case that the guy with the biggest fundraising chops, Jeb Bush, couldn’t sell himself to voters. One does wonder if he would have done much better with fewer, and saner, competitors.

With Hillary Clinton, we’ve got the candidate the Democratic Party elite chose over a year ago, and as I’ve said many times already, if she loses in the fall, that’s on her. And on them. She is a monumentally unwise choice. Not only is she unpopular, but as Queen of the Status Quo she is just plain wrong for the public mood. Her only advantage in this election is Trump; she may be wrong for the times; she may be a bad choice; but he’s absolutely appalling.

I hope the lesson the Democrats take from this is that competition is good. In the future, please don’t presume to choose the candidate for us. Give us a slate of candidates, and let us choose.

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Misreading Data and the Damage Done

Sanders and Clinton

Now they tell  us

After Bernie Sanders crushed Hillary Clinton in the West Virginia primary last week, the national media was ready with an explanation: the white working class.

The New York Times and The Atlantic, for instance, both attributed Sanders’s win to his strength among low-income white workers. “White Working-Class Voters in West Virginia Pick Sanders Over Clinton,” read NPR’s headline.

This trope has become the conventional wisdom in the media, with the Wall Street Journal, the NationThe Huffington Post, and a host of other outlets (including me at Vox) stating as fact that downscale whites have formed a crucial piece of Sanders’s base.

This interpretation makes for an interesting narrative, but it’s missing the real story. Sanders’s victories aren’t being powered by a groundswell of white working-class support, but instead stem from his most reliable base since the start of the primary: young voters.

This is what  you get when data are broken out in isolation of other data. If you look at income, it looks as if Sanders gets the working class vote. But this is skewed because young people make a lot less money than older people. Older lower-income people prefer Clinton.

If you look at race it seems Clinton owns the “black vote.” But Jeff Stein writes, “several polls have put Sanders ahead of Clinton among young African-Americans; in the Reuters polling data, for instance, Sanders beats Clinton by 25 points among black voters aged 18 to 29.

I bolded that last line because I’m very tired of being told that Sanders is the candidate of privileged white people.

Polls suggests that Clinton does better among women, but all the data I’ve seen says that young women prefer Sanders in even larger percentages than young men prefer Sanders.

The framing of Sanders as the white guys’ candidate has hurt his candidacy, I think, and now it turns out not to be true. It was just everybody not looking carefully enough at the numbers.

I swear, news media these days couldn’t report on making toast.

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Dear Democrats: Please Face Reality

Sanders and Clinton

Martin Longman writes,

So, what the Sanders campaign really is when you get past the idiosyncrasies of Bernie Sanders, is an expression of dissatisfaction with the status quo and a desire to change the party to meet the needs of the country on a more urgent basis. And the practical way that can be done is by having their voices heard at the convention. To the degree that this ambition is shunted, the progressive conscience of the party is marginalized and frustrated.

The focus shouldn’t be so much on personalities or the worst behavior of the loudest and most annoying people. It should be on the big picture. Young people, in particular, are vastly more attracted to the Sanders message than what is being offered by Clinton. These are potentially Democratic Party members for life, but that isn’t going to happen automatically, and especially not if they feel that their beliefs are unacceptable and have been defeated.

The youth, the committed organizers, the fighters who stood up when no one else would, these are not simple Bernie Bros. or chair-throwers or disloyal Johnny-Come-Latelys. If they are lumped all together, insulted, and told that they are not welcome, that’s going to come with a cost for the Democratic Party that the party won’t want to pay.

Clinton will be the nominee of the Democratic Party, and she wants to win. That means that dealing with this division in the party is her problem. She’s got to figure out the best way to bring the party together. If that means being a bigger person, or if that means making an uncomfortable concession, or if that means adopting or even co-opting some of the Sanders agenda, then those are things she’ll have to consider.

What won’t work is pretending that progressives are all primarily concerned with one individual named Bernie Sanders and that this is all about him.

“The youth, the committed organizers, the fighters who stood up when no one else would, these are not simple Bernie Bros. or chair-throwers or disloyal Johnny-Come-Latelys. If they are lumped all together, insulted, and told that they are not welcome, that’s going to come with a cost for the Democratic Party that the party won’t want to pay.”  This is something I’ve been saying all along.  For the past several years the Democrats have been assuring us that, some day, all the stupid old conservative, bigoted white people will die off and be replaced by younger, more liberal, voters. And then the Dems will be winners!

But now I’m watching the establishment Democrats kiss off a whole generation of voters, telling them to go home and play with their toys and leave politics to the grown ups. Good luck turning those people into Democratic voters in the future, geniuses.

Let’s review:

(Source: “Bernie Sanders Is (Still) the Future of the Democratic Party” by Matt Yglesias.)

I told someone this morning that it’s starting to feel like 1971 again; Sanders supporters are the antiwar movement, and the Democratic Party and its loyalists are the Nixon Administration. What should have been a temporary disagreement is turning into a generation-changing moment that will hurt the Democratic Party for years to come.

Martin Longman suggested also that Clinton herself step up and show some leadership to bring the situation under control:

What I think people should be focused on, and by “people” I mean the folks at the top of the Sanders and Clinton campaigns, is how to mend some fences and get this craziness under control. Precisely because Clinton has this thing wrapped up, she doesn’t need to resort to procedural hardball to squeeze every last delegate out of the process. She needs the votes of Sanders voters in the fall more than she needs a couple more delegates out of Nevada or a disproportionate number of seats on the power committees at the convention.

He had advice for Sanders also; he’s not saying Clinton alone should take action. He wants Sanders to be more forthright in telling his followers to cool it. But then Nancy LeTourneau — and I really like Nancy LeTourneau — argued that it wasn’t fair to expect Hillary Clinton to be magnanimous, because she’s a woman.

So…there is nothing wrong with expecting the winner to be magnanimous. But the truth is, women have been doing that for centuries. We’ve been smiling and taking it because to do otherwise diminishes our ability to reach our goals. When we ask this of Hillary, women all over the country know exactly what that feels like and we risk triggering their ire in response. In this case, what we have is a white male candidate whose supporters claim grievances that are expressed via tantrums and threats. But we place the burden on the woman to reach out and make nice.

Excuse me while I pound my head against a wall for awhile. In the meantime, read Shaun King at the NY Daily News.

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Some People Need a Serious Change of Attitude

Sanders and Clinton

Gail Collins wrote in the New York Times last March,

Hillary Clinton is by far the best qualified candidate for president. But at this point in the campaign, you can understand why some people feel that voting for her against Bernie Sanders is like rewarding Washington for its worst behavior.

This was after her loss to Sanders in Michigan, where her campaigning against Sanders had gotten so dishonest and dirty that even mainstream media pundits were chastising her for it (see also  James Hohmann at the Washington Post).

On the same day the New York Times editorial board wrote,

Mrs. Clinton may be annoyed at the continued challenge posed by the self-described democratic socialist from Vermont. “The sooner I could become your nominee, the more I could begin to turn our attention to the Republicans,” she told a crowd in Detroit. But Mr. Sanders is likely to remain in the contest to the end, and if she is the Democratic nominee, Mrs. Clinton must win over and energize his supporters. The results in Michigan suggest she has a ways to go.

If you read the editorial you see they aren’t just talking about her winning more primaries. They were telling her that her attacks on Sanders had gone over the line, and she needed to reel them back if she expected to unify the party in November. Nobody likes to see his candidate vilified and lied about.

I know the Clinton people complain perpetually that people are unfair to Hillary Clinton. Then in the same breath they turn around and smear Sanders, or his supporters. I’ve had to disengage with a lot of people I’ve been in touch with in social media for many years because I can’t stand their lies and insults. Never mind the paternalistic (yes, paternalistic) and dripping condescension that is the hallmark of the Clintonistas. They feel entitled to the innate superiority of their opinions. They were the same way in 2008, btw; I don’t know how many times I was dismissed as naive because I planned to vote for that Obama guy.

But this primary is turning into something worse, and it could get a lot uglier.

I’m hearing more about what happened in Nevada, and it appears the local dignitaries in charge took it upon themselves to railroad the Sanders contingent to keep them from adding delegates and possibly flipping the state to Sanders. Like that would actually matter now. Having looked at accounts of this from both sides, it  seems that part of the problem was that many Sanders delegates were new to state politics and weren’t familiar with the Nevada party’s arcane and convoluted process. But it’s also the case that the officials in charge were loyal Clinton supporters who treated the Sanders delegates as foreign hostiles. It appears to me that instead of helping them navigate the process to enable a fair convention, the officials took advantage of the confusion and railroaded the Sanders contingent to keep their participation at a minimum.

Here’s an interview (start at about 32 minutes in)  with a Sanders supporter — Dan Rolle — at the convention who really did understand the process and tells his version of what happened, followed by an interview (start at about 50 minutes) with Nina Turner, former Ohio state senator who has been campaigning for Sanders and was at the convention representing Sanders. Even Turner, who strikes me as a level-headed person, says the Dem officials flat-out cheated.

Here is Rolle’s video. Rolle is currently running as a Democrat for a U.S. House seat, so he’s not a political neophyte.

See also D.D. Guttenplan in The Nation.

It fascinates me that many people bright enough to know that emails from Nigeria are possibly selling a scam accept the official Dem Party version of what happened in Nevada without question, in spite of what can be seen and heard in the many videos that support the Sanders’s delegates’ version, and in spite of the testimony of many people in attendance.

Now I’m reading from “establishment” media that violence was breaking out at the convention. There are many claims of chair-tossing and other physical violence. The chair says she had to flee because she feared for her safety. I’ve read several different accounts of participants and seen their videos, and among other things the participants deny that any chairs were thrown or that there were threats of violence within the convention itself. And the many videos I’ve seen support that claim. There was a lot of shouting and booing, but to say that the chairperson had to flee because she feared for her safety isn’t supported by what evidence has been available so far. It seems to be a claim being made by the Nevada state Dems to cover up their own bad behavior.

And any of us who lived through the Vietnam War protest era ought to recognize this tactic as a ruse to de-legitimize the Sanders contingent. Nixon’s people pulled that often enough back then.

I say that if the Democrats want to “unify” in November, they need to look to their own conduct. They can’t treat people in this ham-handed way and then demand they just get over it.

The chair of the Nevada state convention has received a lot of ugly threats, and that’s wrong. The Democratic Party condemned the threats, and rightfully so. But they’ve said nothing about what happened at the convention. If they had their heads on straight they would ask the chair to resign and issue an apology to keep the hard feelings from getting harder. But they won’t.

Bernie Sanders issued a statement that complained about what happened in Nevada, and Dem officials were outraged. How dare he question the official story? He’s supposed to be ordering his followers to behave, like a good cog in the machine. But instead of complaining to Sanders that he should turn his back on his followers and demand unity, the Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign need to adjust their own attitude, and fast, to avoid violence at the national convention.

I am utterly opposed to violence at demonstrations and remain so, but I’m seeing emotions get out of hand. And I think the only people who have the power to avoid it are the Dems and Clinton themselves, not Sanders. Right now if he were to order his supporters to stand down and pledge loyalty to Clinton, they would just turn on him. They are that fed up.

Let’s consider where Hillary Clinton is at the moment. She might have assumed all along that once she had the nomination people would just get over their hard feelings and vote blue no matter who. There were a lot of hard feelings in 2008 — mostly caused by her own bad behavior — and Barack Obama won, anyway.

But this is a different situation from 2008. Barack Obama wasn’t the one fomenting the bad feelings; she was. She attempted to use her followers’ passions to hold the Dem party hostage to get the veep position until she finally relented some time in June, and I suspect she only relented because she was offered a cabinet position if Obama won.

But you know she’s not going to offer Sanders anything, and if she did I doubt he’d accept it. He’s going to go back to the Senate to be a dedicated thorn in her side. And as soon as she has the Dem nomination clinched, she’s going to move right and campaign to the center, ignoring the progressive Left.

As I write this the Kentucky primary is till too close to call. Sanders and Clinton will split the delegates no matter who is declared the winner. But Clinton made a big show of claiming victory several hours ago. This tells me she’s an insensitive ass whose own ego takes precedence over common sense. She’s far enough ahead that a delegate here and there won’t matter. A little sensitivity and magnanimity on her part would go a long way right now to soothe the anger. But she doesn’t have it in her to do that, apparently.

I cannot emphasize enough that Sanders didn’t create this schism in the Democratic Party. It’s existed, and has been widening, for at least a few years. Sanders was simply the guy who stepped up and articulated what a lot of us already were thinking. The Dems seem to think that if they can squash Sanders everything will go back to normal. And they are wrong. They have to address this. They can’t just smack Sanders’s supporters around and order us to get into line. The establishment Democrats must adjust to a change in the political landscape, starting with their own attitudes.

Sean Illing wrote a couple of days ago,

It’s not at all surprising – or wrong, to be fair – that establishment Democrats would support Hillary Clinton. Clinton is a party veteran and a known commodity. She’s been at the center of Democratic politics for decades. … But the Democratic establishment can maintain neutrality in this process without compromising their preferred candidate. The fact is, Clinton has received at least 2.5 million more primary votes than Sanders. She was – and is – likely to win the nomination. There’s no need to rig the process or skew the rules in her favor – doing so only adds to the suspicion that the process itself is undemocratic, which is ruinous to the party’s long-term viability.

People shouldn’t have to feel compromised when they vote, that they are rewarding someone for bad behavior.  The establishment Democrats need to swallow their egos and develop some class, and fast. If Clinton loses to Trump in November she’s going to scapegoat Sanders, but it really will be on her and on the Democratic Party.

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What Went Down in Nevada

Sanders and Clinton

I’ve had a busy day while trying to grasp what happened yesterday at the Nevada state Democratic convention. Every source I consult is telling a different story. All I know for certain is that the Sanders contingent believe they were steamrollered, and the Clinton people think Sanders supporters are barbarians with bad table manners.

A little background — the state convention is where the Nevada the delegation to the DNC convention is finalized. You might remember that Clinton won the Nevada caucuses back in February, giving her 20 delegates and Sanders 15 delegates. Then in April, Sanders’s supporters took advantage of Clinton delegate no shows at the Clark County convention to increase the number of Sanders supporters Clark County (home of Las Vegas) sent to the state convention, where 12 more delegates would be chosen. This potentially made it possible to flip the state from Clinton to Sanders.

Well, that didn’t happen. Somehow, 56 Sanders delegates (enough to have changed the final vote) to the state convention were stripped of their delegate status. Various reasons were given, the most common being that they couldn’t prove they had registered as Democrats or that they even lived in Nevada. But it’s not clear how those determinations were made. I believe (again, news stories are not consistent on this) that Clinton got seven more delegates and Sanders five.

What went wrong?

Convention Credential Committee Co-Chair Leslie Sexton said 64 Sanders delegates – almost double Sanders’ eventual 33 delegate shortfall – were disqualified for various reasons and not given the opportunity to appeal, The Hill reported.

Sexton initially said she was not allowed to give a report about Sanders’ delegates – for an unspecified reason – but she eventually presented her findings once chants of “recount” and “let her speak” broke out, The Hill reported.

“Contrary to procedures and precedents set by the committee, nearly none of the 64 people were presented with the opportunity to be heard by the committee or to demonstrate that they are registered Democrats,” Sexton said.

“Sanders supporters have accused state party leaders of rigging the process against them, and they objected to procedural votes to approve the rules of the event,” it says here. Sanders people booed Sen. Barbara Boxer when she called for “unity,” and the senator didn’t take it well. Eventually the chair, Roberta Lange, called for an adjournment; according to several accounts she then seconded herself and banged the event to a close. State troopers immediately took over to clear people out of the hall.

This account of events at Real Clear Politics, with lots of videos, is especially damning.

Since I wasn’t there, and there are so many conflicting accounts,  I can’t say who responsible for things getting out of control, but the end result is a lot of anger. Sanders supporters are increasingly certain the entire nominating process has been rigged for Clinton (possibly because it has) and they are increasingly hostile to the Democratic Party.

Way to go, folks.

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They Aren’t Listening to Us

Obama Administration

Following up the last post, I want to direct you to an article by Ted Morgan: “This isn’t how a democracy should work.”

In his book “Democracy, Inc.,” the late, distinguished political scientist Sheldon Wolin has argued that we have a “managed democracy,” that elite “management” of elections is the key to perpetuating the “primal myth” that the people determine the rulers. As Wolin put it, this “antidemocracy” doesn’t attack the idea of government by the people, it encourages “civic demobilization” – conditioning the electorate to be aroused for a brief spell, controlling its attention span, and then encouraging distraction or apathy.

Yeah, pretty much.

For decades, going back to another supreme practitioner of cultural politics, Ronald Reagan, the right side of the elite has moved into a dominant political position by sounding unconventional, like they are on the side of millions of Americans who have long felt that their place in society and the economy is being marginalized. The right consistently trots out scapegoats – “liberals,” protesters, “welfare cheats,” immigrants, Muslims, etc. – to “explain” why this audience’s fortunes are declining.

This is the faux populism that the right has mastered in its ride to power. It’s also the faux populism of advertisers when they suggest they’re on our side as we try to make our lives better. But neither one is on the side of the people. They’re all on the side of corporate America. Despite his conservative rhetoric, Ronald Reagan arguably did more than any other president to accelerate the decline of family-supporting jobs and manufacturing communities than anyone else. Similarly, with the Trump campaign, building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico won’t improve the livelihood of American citizens one iota. But it feels that way to significant numbers of Americans.

There’s no question that the Right has done a better job than the Left of generating faux populism and making it downright tribal. But the Dems keep trying.

Not surprisingly, the Democratic Party establishment embraced Hillary Clinton from the start; she plays the same big-money, managed democracy game they play. Nor is it surprising that the national news media have also embraced her candidacy while dismissing the “unrealistic” campaign of the “unelectable” Bernie Sanders – though he does keep surprising them.

I’ve said before that a big part of Hillary Clinton’s appeal with among those who genuinely support her is that they identify with her on a deep level. Her followers can get pretty tribal also. Many of them refuse to even look at questionable aspects of her record — her hawkishness, for example — and dismiss all criticism of her as sexism, or just repetition of the mud from the Whitewater era.

Clinton doesn’t just play the same games the Dem establishment plays; it’s obvious she is queen of the establishment realm. Speaking as someone who doesn’t identify with her, it’s obvious to me that the ultimate source of her power comes from a place that has nothing to do with democracy. And that’s the primary reason I refuse to support her.

The quote at the top of the post about managed democracy says it pretty well. Clinton did not offer herself as a candidate; she was packaged and marketed to us as the inevitable nominee. The entire Democratic Party aligned itself to make that happen early last year; the primaries were supposed to be just formalities.  We’re being “managed” to accept her as a candidate, and as a president. I’m sure the insiders fully expect us all to go back to sleep as soon as she’s inaugurated.

And whatever innocent idea I still harbored that the system was still more or less democratic has been destroyed this primary season. Seeing Rachel Maddow all-too-obviously provide cover for the Clinton Machine was too much.

Back to Ted Morgan:

Our news media, television in particular, work at two levels simultaneously. One level is cultural. This is where market-driven news accentuates its entertainment value, seeking to maximize audience or readership by grabbing attention with all the devices common to entertainment. News stories are brief, dramatic fragments; they accentuate eye-catching imagery, conflict, and personalities. They play on our emotions, but tell us almost nothing about why the world is the way it is.

The other level is ideological, or political.  This is where the mass media are corporate institutions that reflect the consensual and competing views of elites who dominate our politics.  This is where Democrats and Republicans “debate” political issues, where they tell us how to interpret the world.  It is definitely not where more fundamentally critical, or outsider, views are taken seriously.

Yes to both. Mainstream media set the parameters of “acceptable” political thought and discourse, and at the same time they fail to provide information or context that might enable people to reach unacceptable conclusions.

Although the New York Times is a major enabler of the management, they do sometimes give us a peak behind the curtain:

This year the Republican and Democratic nominating conventions in Cleveland and Philadelphia will be bankrolled entirely with money from corporations and wealthy individuals. Not since the Watergate era, when a $400,000 pledge to the 1972 Republican convention from ITT Corporation was linked to a favorable outcome for the company in a federal antitrust decision, has this happened.

Industries with business before the federal government have long found opening their checkbooks for the conventions to be one of the most efficient means for influencing an incoming administration and Congress in one quick action. …

… The ITT scandal prompted legislation that provided public financing for conventions, and limited their budgets to that amount. But the parties soon found multiple ways around that, including using “host committees” that operate in the cities where the conventions are held, soliciting unlimited amounts of convention money from corporations and wealthy individuals. These committees, established to skirt federal laws banning corporations from giving to political parties directly, should be abolished.

And what’s different about this year?

The demise of public convention financing is a result of the 2014 Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act, named for a Virginia girl who died of brain cancer. The law ended government funding for nominating conventions, which in 2012 amounted to about $18 million, or one-quarter, of each political party’s convention costs, and redirected $126 million over 10 years to pediatric disease research.

Talk about unintended consequences. Of course, I’m sure no sponsor expects direct quid pro quos for their money.  The benefits they receive will be more indirect and more subtle.

And this is just one example. There have been allegations about the foreign governments that donated to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State. Some of those governments were lobbying the U.S. State Department about something. I have defended the Clinton Foundation in the past, but one does wonder.  And I’m sure there’s plenty of ammunition in there somewhere for the Republicans to use against her in the fall.

Remember what I said in this post about foot dragging? We are in for some epic foot dragging. Clinton and her allies will be pragmatically certain that whatever she does will be incremental enough to not cause the clients, or the sponsors, much consternation.

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Is the Democratic Party Sustainable?

Democratic Party, Sanders and Clinton

Last week I wrote about the way Democratic Party power brokers and insiders decided that Hillary Clinton would be the Dem nominee several months before the primaries began. No “establishment” Democrats challenged her in the primaries for that reason.

A few days later I got into an online conversation with a Dem apologist, who insisted this was not un-democratic because Clinton was the first choice of “the base.” And how do we know what “the base” wanted months before any votes were cast? Polls, he said. Polls of likely Democratic voters taken early in 2015 made her the heavy favorite for the nomination.

Just as polls taken in 2007 before the primaries started also made Clinton the heavy favorite for the nomination in 2008. Oh, wait …

I believe it has been long established that voter polls taken a great many months before serious campaigning even begins are fairly worthless as predictors of the eventual winner, because people are mostly just reacting to name recognition. Once they actually get a good look at all the candidates they often change their minds.

That’s why I’m not too concerned that polls are showing a tight race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in November. Opinion is going to shift around once we move into general election campaign mode. Clinton has huge advantages in the electoral college map, and most news media will want her to win and will give her sympathetic treatment.

However, it does amuse me that now there is reason to be worried about Clinton’s electability against Trump. Last week David Catanese wrote in U.S. News

Then came Tuesday, when a trio of battleground state general election polls dropped into the inboxes of the political intelligentsia with a disorienting thud. Surprise (!) – the numbers showed that despite all the disunity, resistance and hand-wringing, The Donald was competitive with Clinton. The tales of a great blowout were, in fact, blown out of proportion: Quinnipiac University polling placed Trump essentially tied with Clinton in Florida and Pennsylvania and ahead of her in Ohio. Even critics who quibbled the survey’s sampling could not deny these were single-digit, margin-of-error contests.

The icing on top: Trump begins in a marginally better place than Romney did in 2012. At this same point in the race, the former Massachusetts governor was behind President Barack Obama by 8 points in Pennsylvania; Trump is down just 1 point to Clinton. In Ohio, Obama was ahead of Romney by 1 point; Trump leads Clinton by 4. In Florida, Romney led Obama by 1 point; Trump is down by 1 point.

On Tuesday night, as Trump rolled to easy victories as nominee-to-be in the West Virginia and Nebraska primaries, there was Bernie Sanders, the 74-year-old steadfast socialist, scoring another victory against Clinton. The Vermont senator not only won West Virginia – he trampled her in a 15-point rout that marked her biggest drop in support in any state from her 2008 White House bid.

Propelled by rolling cable television coverage – which repeatedly flashed the Quinnipiac numbers on full-screen graphics – and the dizzying Twittersphere – which now had more reason to buzz about Bernie’s staying power – Trump looked like the winner and Clinton, a limp loser.

In the 2008 primaries, when she was running against that black guy, Clinton did very well among white blue-collar men. Now all of a sudden the old Democratic “rust belt” states look vulnerable for Dems, mostly because those white blue-collar men prefer Trump or Sanders. Like this should surprise anybody. But apparently, it did. Abby Phillip writes for the Washington Post that Clinton may have a fight on her hands in what should be reliably “blue” states.

Clinton performed poorly against Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont in Democratic primaries in this part of the country — partly because of her past support for free-trade agreements and partly because Sanders’s promises to focus on economic issues and income inequality resonated with voters. Those factors could work against her with Trump, who has criticized her positions on trade and has also found deep appeal among the working class.


Do you remember all the times we were told that not voting for Clinton was a vote for President Trump? A big part of Clinton’s marketing strategy has been that she was the only Democrat running who could beat Trump. The only Clinton television ads I saw here in New York were basically trying to frighten voters with the Trump boogeyman, so you’d better vote for for Hillary. There’s no way to know, but I strongly suspect that Clinton’s margin of victory in many states (like New York) was made up of people who bought that argument.

I should say, who bought that argument that was unfounded on anything like a factual basis. It’s probably the case that among all the Democrats who might have run had the power brokers told them not to, just about any of them would have been a stronger general election candidate against Donald Trump than Hillary Clinton will be. It’s also possible that Bernie Sanders would be a stronger general election candidate against Donald Trump than Hillary Clinton will be. Poll data certainly says so, although that’s not necessarily proof of anything this far in advance of the general election.

The moral of this story, seems to me, is that rather than allowing a cadre of elites to decide ahead of time who The People want, maybe it’s better to encourage competition and let The People decide for themselves who they want. You end up with a more marketable product in the end. However, the reaction of the DNC seems to be in the opposite direction — let’s eliminate open primaries! We need to be even more isolated and ideologically inbred than we already are! That’s the ticket!

This is so obviously a “change” election. To run a candidate who represents the past, who promises to be pragmatic and not attempt anything radical, is an obvious misstep. Loyal Democrats will vote for her, but independents have already shown they’d prefer somebody else. And while Clinton currently looks weak against Trump, if the GOP had gotten its act together and nominated a more “establishment” Republican, I doubt she’d have any chance at all. Given a contest of two candidates both promising to not do anything, it would come down to a likeability contest. Cough.

A few days ago David Atkins wrote at Washington Monthly that the Democratic Party elites (including news media elites) have now decided voters aren’t really angry about economic unfairness after all.

There is a growing amount of contrarian analysis these days suggesting that Americans really aren’t so angry about the economy after all, that what appears to be economic populism is really just a cover for racism, sexism or other cultural issues, and that ultimately the only thing the majority of voters really want is a stable technocrat who will keep the good times rolling while fixing some social issues….

…In most cases, these writers are trying to use broad quantitative data about economic satisfaction to explain away what seems to be obvious on its face, which is that Sanders and Trump are both running economic populist campaigns that have resonated deeply with large and different sections of the electorate. The corollary to this argument is that it’s not economics but raw racism that is driving Trump’s success, and that Sanders’ success is a factor less of economic anger than some combination of sexism and cult of personality.

I think that most Clinton supporters sincerely believe this. They believe they can ignore Sanders’s popularity because it’s just sexism, or a fad. They don’t have to listen to what his supporters actually are saying (although, to be honest, a lot of them aren’t saying it very well) because they’ll get over it once Hillary Clinton is president and they see how awesome she is.

To believe these things, of course, you would have to assume that voters aren’t actually being inspired by the rhetoric and policy positions of Sanders and Trump but by other factors they’re subtly tapping into. You would have to ignore most of the actual reasons given in interviews and focus groups by Sanders and Trump voters for why they support their candidates. You would have to ignore what they actually say in media comments sections and at various political forums.

You would, in essence, have to ignore all the qualitative data in front of you showing what people say in their own words, in favor of polling data about their generic feelings about the economy or their own current personal economic situation.

So, basically, opposition to Clinton / support for Trump is being attributed to bigotry, and all the other reasons are being swept under a big, expensive rug, as far as the elites are concerned.

I still (although sadly) expect Clinton to be the nominee, and I still expect her to win. As I said, her advantages will be that (a) Trump is an odious oaf, and (b) most news media will prefer her to him and will treat her sympathetically. Women and minorities will turn out to vote down Trump in epic numbers.

But the question I initially asked is, is the Democratic Party sustainable? How long can it continue to be this oblivious to reality and still function?

I have more to say on this, but will continue later …

Update: See also This is one weak nominee: Hillary Clinton’s problem isn’t Bernie Sanders. It’s Hillary Clinton

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