Category Archives: Democrats

Blowing up the anti-Brazile narrative

Democratic political operative (and former interim DNC chair) Donna Brazile.

Is Donna Brazile a self-important traitor to the DNC cause? Or has she been smeared by reporting-by-Twitter?

The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald thinks the latter, and has set forth what he says are four falsehoods that have been put forth about Brazile’s  bombshell allegations in her new book that the Clinton campaign had inordinate amounts of control over the key processes during the entirety of the last presidential campaign.

As early as this morning — Sunday, Nov. 5 — CNN is still reporting that Brazile said she had the unilateral power to remove Clinton as the nominee, even though the newspaper that originally reported that claim has had to walk it back (see below). This is important because this claim is  central to some others because it is being used to ridicule Brazile as being an ill-informed megalomaniac with an anti-Clinton agenda. 

Notes Greenwald:

Viral Falsehood #3: Brazile stupidly thought she could unilaterally remove Clinton as the nominee.

[On Nov. 4], the Washington Post published an article reporting on various claims made in Brazile’s new book. The headline, which was widely tweeted, made it seem as though Brazile delusionally believed she had a power which, obviously, she did not in fact possess: “Donna Brazile: I considered replacing Clinton with Biden as 2016 Democratic nominee.” The article said Brazile considered exercising this power after Clinton’s fainting spell made her worry that Clinton was physically debilitated, and her campaign was “anemic” and had taken on “the odor of failure.”

But Brazile – as a result of her stinging criticisms and accusations of Clinton, Obama and the DNC – is currently Public Enemy Number One among Democrats in the media. So they seized on this headline to pretend that she claimed the power to unilaterally remove Clinton on a whim, and then used this claim to mercilessly vilify her – the chair of Al Gore’s 2000 campaign, last year’s interim head of the DNC, and a long-time Democratic Party operative – as a deluded, insane, dishonest, profiteering, ignorant fabulist who lacks all credibility.

But the entire attack on Brazile was false. She did not claim, at least according to the Post article being cited, that she had the power to unilaterally remove Clinton. The original Post article, buried deep down in the article, well after the headline, made clear that she was referencing a complicated process in the DNC charter that allowed for removal of a nominee who had become incapacitated.

The Post then amended its story to reflect that she made no such absurd claim in her book, but rather noted that “the DNC charter empowered her to initiate replacement of the nominee” and that “if a nominee became disabled, she explains, the party chair would oversee a complicated process of filling the vacancy that would include a meeting of the full DNC.” The Post then added this note to the top of the article:

Journalists on Twitter spent hours yesterday mocking, maligning and attacking the reputation of Brazile for a claim that she simply never made – all because a tweeted headline, which they never bothered to read past or evaluate, made them think they were justified in doing so in order to malign someone who has, quickly and bizarrely, become one of the Democrats’ primary enemies.

Greenwald details three other ways he thinks the narrative of the story about Brazile’s claims in her book have been hijacked by credulous reporting of things reporters see on Twitter and then repeat as received wisdom without bothering to check their veracity, including her claim that the DNC agreement  with Clinton  applied to both the primary and general election — a claim that was allegedly debunked and for which Greenwald says requires a debunking of that debunking.

You can read all of it here.

I have my issues with Greenwald and The Intercept. They have been proof, at times, of the danger when people on the Left let their own beliefs get in the way of good reporting. (Witness Greenwald’s one-time insistence that claims of Russian interference were  a smokescreen to cover up Democratic Party ineptitude in the last presidential election — a claim he has had to abandon as evidence mounts of Russian interference happening on many fronts, including planting inflammatory stories supportive of third-party candidate Jill Stein.)

But Greenwald seems to be into something here. It does appear some Clinton loyalists have been fudging the truth in order to discredit Brazile. 

There are lingering questions about whether the agreement between the Clinton campaign and the DNC was an unseemly grab for power meant to exclude Bernie Sanders and others from an honest nominating process and campaign, or simply a wise candidate saying that if she was going to prop up the DNC financially to benefit the party and down-ticket candidates, she expected some control ensuring the money was spent wisely?

Absent further evidence, those are questions to which he may never have sufficient answers because we can’t read the minds of the people involved and those interpretations may largely depend on whom you supported in the presidential election. 

What Liberal Academics Don’t Get (via The Chronicle of Higher Education)

I don’t care much for the poorly educated — and by “educated” I don’t mean secondary education. I know a lot of ignoramuses with degrees and more than my share of self-taught renaissance people with no degree but all the wisdom one needs to be a caring and well-informed American.

“Poorly educated” in my world means someone with a willful ignorance of facts at hand. It’s partially borne of living in the fact-free bubble of America’s right-wing movement as much as it’s about a lack of formal education.  There are plenty of self-serving right-wingers on the economics faculties at Harvard and the University of Chicago.,

Trump voters — and not a few of us on the other side — seem to be unable to live by this dictum: What’s most important is knowing what you don’t know more than what you do know. 

But there were enough of those people to get Donald Trump elected and give me a few days of deep despondency over the future of this country.

And yet, as more time passes since that election, simply marveling at the stupidity of half the voters has seemed increasingly insufficient and nihilistic. Too simple. Too childish.

Yes, a lot of his voters are racists, sexist and homophobic. But I’ve also wondered how many of them are not any of those things overtly, but rather were just easy marks for a con man real estate developer playing the pied piper of resentment?

Are racism, sexism and homophobia the primary motivators of the vast majority of Trump supporters, or do they go along with that for other reasons — or just plainly choose to ignore those things in favor of a candidate whom they think spoke to their needs on other issues?

I had a middle-aged black woman in my car today, sweet as can be, and she brought up the election. I assumed she was for Hillary and against Trump. And she was, but only so far. “I can’t stand the racists, but I get why Trump people are mad at where this country is going, she said. “I’m mad, too. And I think a lot of them just wanted to overturn the system.”

Teasing all this out would be impossible without putting a great many of those supporters through a battery of well-designed tests.

So we are left to guess. And this piece from the The Chronicle of Higher Education takes a decent stab at it.

It’s hard to talk about this stuff and not feel the pain of bigotry if you’ve experienced it. These debates can never not be filtered through that. Nor should they be.

The first time I read this piece I thought,  “You’re expecting us to meet bigots halfway!”

Then I read it again with a more open mind. I still disagree with some of it, at least how it’s worded. Yet some of what is said here makes sense:

After winning the Nevada Republican caucuses, Trump said, “I love the poorly educated.” We laughed and made fun. But poorly educated whites were listening. And they vote, too.

For decades those people have felt ignored and belittled. During the campaign they heard a great deal about the concerns of African-Americans, gay and transgendered people, immigrants, refugees. For us, those concerns are part and parcel of a necessary compassion; they dovetail with our sense of being American. For many white voters in the other America, though, stuck in dead-end jobs and low-rent neighborhoods, those comments make them want to say, “But what about me?”

The educated elite — professors, artists, journalists, “expert” commentators — can judge the emotions behind that question as stupid and unfair, even brand them as racist or homophobic. But those feelings of exclusion are very real and not unfounded. As the saying goes, and as last week’s depressing election result clearly demonstrates, we have ignored them at our peril.

I don’t want to spend the next four years in an ideological war with half the electorate. That feels like we’re all puppets with Fox News and the radical Right as our puppeteers, keeping the entire country on edge so that none of us can focus on the truly important issues. Surely there is some common ground that we must try for with those people on the other side who are not unreformed bigots.

We should still call out bigotry in all its forms when it rears its ugly head, which it is likely to do many times (even more than usual) over the next four years. We should still work very hard to ameliorate the damage a Trump administration can do, including working our asses off on the mid-term elections. 

However, as much as I laughed along with everyone else at the pitiful spelling and horrific grammar of many Trump supporters, I feel less proud of it in retrospect.

It’s easy to make fun of someone who doesn’t know the difference between “your” and “you’re,” but if you are a coal miner who barely feeds his family and is watching your future die while politicians seems not to care much — and much of the Left seems to care less than the elected officials about income inequality — the niceties of spelling and grammar are not very high on your list of priorities.

Are spelling and grammar yardsticks by which we decide someone is a good person, worthy of respect?

After all, my side –the progressive side — is supposed to be the side with all the education and, for lack of a better term in mind now, the “adulthood” to see our way past raw emotions and ad hominem attacks.

If we don’t try to break the impasse with at least some of these people — the ones who can be reached with good will, compassion and/or some semblance of reason — nobody else will. And they will be ripe for the picking the next time someone even worse than Trump comes along.

I find it hard to believe with all the marketing talent in this country that we can’t do more with that than get people to, as we do now, buy cars based on nothing more than feelings and self-image. Where are the people who will show us how to market a progressive agenda to a population that sorely needs one yet rejects it more than anyone else?

We need to learn how to talk to that part of America. I don’t have the answer on how to do that. But I hope somebody does.

Source: What Liberal Academics Don’t Get – The Chronicle of Higher Education

Yes, it's a funny sign for this issue particularly. But which seems the better course of action? Endless laughter at this person's expense? Or trying to find some agreement somewhere with them and starting from there?
Yes, it’s a funny sign for this issue particularly. But which seems the better course of action? Endless laughter at this person’s expense? Or trying to find some agreement somewhere with them and starting from there?

Leave it to Sen. Elizabeth Warren to hit the nail on the head regarding election

Sen. Elizabeth Warren
Sen. Elizabeth Warren

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), one of the smartest people ever elected to Congress, reminds everyone of all the terrible things Trump did during this bruising election.

Then she reminded all of Trump opponents of a hard truth: it wasn’t just bigotry that got him into the White House:

The truth is that people are right to be angry.  Angry that wages have been stagnant for a generation, while basic costs like housing, health care, and child care have skyrocketed. Angry that our political system is awash in barely legalized campaign bribery.  Angry that Washington eagerly protects tax breaks for billionaires while it refuses to raise the minimum wage, or help the millions of Americans struggling with student loans, or enforce the law when the millionaire CEOs who fund our political campaigns break it.  Angry that Washington pushes big corporate interests in trade deals, but won’t make the investments in infrastructure to create good jobs right here in America.  Angry that Washington tilts the playing field for giant corporations – giving them special privileges, letting them amass enormous economic and political power.

Angry that while Washington dithers and spins and does the backstroke in an ocean of money, while the American Dream moves further and further out of reach for too many families. Angry that working people are in debt. Angry that seniors can’t stretch a Social Security check to cover the basics.

President-Elect Trump spoke to these issues. Republican elites hated him for it. But he didn’t care.  He criticized Wall Street and big money’s dominance in Washington-straight up. He supported a new Glass-Steagall. He spoke of the need to reform our trade deals so they aren’t raw deals for the American people. He said he will not cut Social Security benefits. He talked about the need to address the rising cost of college and about helping working parents struggling with the high cost of child care. He spoke of the urgency of rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and putting people back to work. He spoke to the very real sense of millions of Americans that their government and their economy has abandoned them. And he promised to rebuild our economy for working people.

The deep worry that people feel over an America that does not work for them is not liberal or conservative worry. It is not Democratic or Republican worry. It is the deep worry that led even Americans with very deep reservations about Donald Trump’s temperament and fitness to vote for him anyway.

I was scared for this country long before this election and Trump came on the scene. 

Democrats and mainstream Republicans ignored these things at their peril.

Now we have President-elect Donald Trump.

So let’s get to work changing all of them, for everyone.

The most slimed candidate in modern history?

It’s a testament to Hillary Clinton’s remarkable strengths that her presidential candidacy has, thus far, been able to withstand the relentless campaign of character assassination which has followed her since her husband entered politics. 

She is easily the most accomplished, capable and qualified presidential candidate in my memory, yet she is still answering to attacks  on her abilities. No man would have had to endure such doubts if his curriculum vitae were similarly packed with stints as stand-out Wellesley and Yale law graduate, her years as a successful practicing attorney, a U.S. senator, Secretary of State, etc.

I include her years as First Lady in those qualifications, keeping in mind also that she would have had a much more central role in her husband’s administration had America’s right-wing not been so adept at painting her as a power-hungry harpy trying to take over a major portion of the American economy.

She wanted to help reign-in our health care mess that continues to this day, but Republicans decided otherwise and began a campaign to portray her as a stereotypical bitchy, man-hating female; portrayals lapped up and regurgitated so relentlessly by the mainstream media that even many women — a demographic which should know better — now believe this cheap rendering of a woman who managed to do all she has done, all while raising a competent, capable and well-adjusted daughter.

This is also in spite of having to live out the nightmare of having your marital problems become GOP scandal fodder, front-page news and the eventual subject of impeachment proceedings on Capitol Hill.

Hillary Clinton, at yet another of the GOP-instigated hearings questioning her integrity.
Hillary Clinton, at yet another of the GOP-instigated hearings questioning her integrity.

To add insult to injury, many of these essentially manufactured scandals now follow her in the form of Bernie Sanders supporters doing the right-wing’s job by parroting back these often groundless or simply overblown charges.

Hillary will be indicted! Hillary is untrustworthy! Benghazi! Emails! Email servers! It’s all so ridiculous.

It’s been all the more wearying to watch other progressive people jump so readily on these made-up scandals, becoming willing dupes on social media helped along without doubt by GOP astroturfers and sock puppets galore.

So it should some as no surprise that since Hillary Clinton has rightfully started to hammer Donald Trump on an issue where he could be hurt most — his long history of gross, insulting comments about and toward women — the right-wing has decided to fire back by questioning Mrs. Clinton’s basic bona fides as a strong, independent woman.

One of the ways they are doing this is interviews where Hillary Clinton is to blame for “enabling” BIll Clinton’s marital misadventures. (See video above and below.)

I cannot claim to understand political marriages, including that of Bill and Hillary Clinton. Essentially I consider all of it none of my business, particularly where children are involved. 

But if you are a woman who has ever been done serous wrong by a man, consider how ridiculous it would seem if someone tried to pin that lying, cheating, etc, on you — as primarily being about your character flaws. 

Yet somehow America’s GOP considers this a winning strategy against Hillary Clinton. She has been slimed for so long it just might work, too.

Unbelievable. But just barely so.






Sanders comes to his senses on supporter misbehavior?


Bernie Sanders primary range of responses up to now as to reports of violence and threatening behavior among his supporters has been to adopt the Alfred E. Neuman stance — who me? worry? — or talk about the unfairness of the system that is allegedly holding him down and stoking their basest emotions.

Both of which have essentially served to encourage and inflame them even more.

Now comes this from Bloomberg (caution: LOUD autoplay video) suggesting that the avalanche of last week’s of negative stories about Sanders’ inability or downright unwillingness to confront his followers’ excesses might be coming to an end.

As tensions were escalating between Bernie Sanders and Democratic Party leaders over the chaos caused by his supporters at a Nevada convention, Dick Durbin got an unexpected call from the Vermont senator.

Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, came away from the conversation on Wednesday convinced that Sanders, who has all but lost the presidential nomination battle to Hillary Clinton, understands the need for party unity and will do his part to defeat presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.

“We talked about the demonstrations and such,” Durbin said Thursday in an interview. “I am convinced, as Bernie has said repeatedly, he is going to be on the team to defeat Donald Trump. I don’t have any question in my mind.”

We will see how long this lasts.

I’m of the mind that Sanders is a good guy who nonetheless has had the taste of the presidency in his mouth, no matter how long ago that became unrealistic, and will not give it up easily –especially with a campaign manager who has a taste for political blood in the water.

Rest of story here.


Josh Marshall says animus comes from Sanders himself

When all is said and done, is the acrimony and bullying which have come to mark the Sanders campaign in its final days plainly the fault of the candidate himself?
When all is said and done, is the acrimony and bullying which have come to mark the Sanders campaign in its final days plainly the fault of the candidate himself?

Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo, one of the more even-handed journalists out there, pulls no punches in this post that reads like an indictment of the Sanders campaign:

Actually, I didn’t realize it. People who know told me.

Over the last several weeks I’ve had a series of conversations with multiple highly knowledgable, highly placed people. Perhaps it’s coming from Weaver too.

The two guys have been together for decades. But the ‘burn it down’ attitude, the upping the ante, everything we saw in that statement released today by the campaign seems to be coming from Sanders himself. Right from the top.

This should have been obvious to me. The tone and tenor of a campaign always come from the top. It wasn’t obvious to me until now.

Keep reading at this link.

Tiny number of families vying to control election

New York Times election money
While there are a few wealthy progressives supporting the Democratic side, the vast majority of money given by the super wealthy is going to the GOP.

There is an article in this morning’s New York Times which shows what anyone who is tired of a world that is, in Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s words, “rigged against the little guys,” is up against in this election:

They are overwhelmingly white, rich, older and male, in a nation that is being remade by the young, by women, and by black and brown voters.

Across a sprawling country, they reside in an archipelago of wealth, exclusive neighborhoods dotting a handful of cities and towns.

And in an economy that has minted billionaires in a dizzying array of industries, most made their fortunes in just two: finance and energy.

Now they are deploying their vast wealth in the political arena, providing almost half of all the seed money raised to support Democratic and Republican presidential candidates.

Just 158 families, along with companies they own or control, contributed $176 million in the first phase of the campaign, a New York Times investigation found. Not since before Watergate have so few people and businesses provided so much early money in a campaign, most of it through channels legalized by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision five years ago. These donors’ fortunes reflect the shifting composition of the country’s economic elite.

Relatively few work in the traditional ranks of corporate America, or hail from dynasties of inherited wealth. Most built their own businesses, parlaying talent and an appetite for risk into huge wealth: They founded hedge funds in New York, bought up undervalued oil leases in Texas, made blockbusters in Hollywood. More than a dozen of the elite donors were born outside the United States, immigrating from countries like Cuba, the old Soviet Union, Pakistan, India and Israel. But regardless of industry, the families investing the most in presidential politics overwhelmingly lean right, contributing tens of millions of dollars to support Republican candidates who have pledged to pare regulations; cut taxes on income, capital gains and inheritances; and shrink entitlement programs.

While such measures would help protect their own wealth, the donors describe their embrace of them more broadly, as the surest means of promoting economic growth.

Of course that is how they — including the notorious Koch brothers — frame their efforts. If they came out and admitted what they do is meant to benefit only them and people like them, they would lose every election. Instead they build astroturf front groups with high-minded names to fool the electorate.

Which begs the question: if what they are doing is so good for America as a whole, why do they have to hide it so much?

New York Times election money
Graphic: New York Times


Candidates ranked by supporters’ grammar

Washington Post: Candidates ranked by the supporters' grammar
Washington Post: Candidates ranked by the supporters’ grammar

Britain’s Bernie Sanders sweeps to victory

Bernie Sanders
Jeremy Corbyn waves to supporters at his victory party.

Jeremy Corbyn, who has electrified Britain’s many disaffected voters — much like Bernie Sanders is doing in America — surprised everyone with a decisive victory in Labour Party elections.

His supporters are savoring his win at the polls:

On Saturday there were jubilant scenes after the release of results showing that Mr. Corbyn had won almost 60 percent of the vote, crushing his three opponents, Yvette Cooper, Andy Burnham and Liz Kendall.

“We don’t have to be unequal, it doesn’t have to be unfair, poverty isn’t inevitable,” Mr. Corbyn told a cheering audience in a short acceptance speech.

“Things can change and they will change,” he added, denouncing “grotesque” levels of inequality and placing blame for the migration crisis currently sweeping Europe on the bitter legacy of going to war.

One of his first acts, Mr. Corbyn said, will be to attend a demonstration in London to highlight the plight of refugees. Mr. Corbyn’s perceived integrity and his willingness to speak his mind have struck a chord in a party in which many supporters were left disillusioned by the leadership of Mr. Blair, whose decision to join President George W. Bush in invading Iraq poisoned his legacy.

Yet Mr. Blair is one of only a handful of Labour leaders who has ever won a general election, and Mr. Corbyn’s critics fear he will turn the Labour Party into a protest movement, rather than a realistic alternative to the Conservative government of Prime Minister David Cameron.

Sound familiar?

The same voices that are nay-saying Sanders’ candidacy despite drawing crowds which dwarf his opponents’ rallies, are the same people who are predicting doom for Corbyn — namely the Labour (and Democratic Party) regulars who say their countries are not ready for so hard a shift to “the Left.”

Of course, all of this assumes that voters agree with those party stalwarts’ analyses of the election — and the mainstream media’s take on it. Many of both’s men’s policies and stances are resonating with voters across their respective countries’ political spectrums.

The New York Times spent almost as many words explaining why Corbyn’s victory is bad news for the general election as it did explaining why all those “misguided” voters chose Corbyn in the first place.

Corbyn’s victory will be interesting if for no other reason than to see if the voices of the Labour Party establishment will hold true, or if Corbyn’s supporters can keep up their numbers and enthusiasm in the general election.

No doubt the Conservative Party in Great Britain will begin doing exactly what they will do to Bernie Sanders should he win: pull quotes from a long career fighting the establishment out of mothballs  and use them to paint Corbyn as too extreme for his country.

Source: With Jeremy Corbyn Elected as New
Leader, Britain’s Labour Party Takes a
Hard Left Turn – New York Times

Sarah Silverman at Bernie Sanders rally in LA

OK, so it’s a few days old, but it’s worth watching if you have not seen it.

Silverman is the thinking person’s comic, and even when she’s being entirely inappropriate for polite company — who likes polite company, anyway? — there is almost always a deeper message beneath the blue.

Bernie Sanders appears to be fast becoming the thinking person’s alternative candidate, if only we could guarantee his candidacy will not hand the election to the Republicans. 

That is not to say I would not support the guy. He is great and he’s been one of my favorites since before the campaign. But if he cannot win, and that is not yet clear, what is the point if it hands the White House to the GOP?

We will have won a battle and lost the war.

I’m keeping an open mind for now.

In any case, nice introduction by Silverman. The comic begins by declaring that she wants to take back the co-opted words “values” and “morals” from the people who misuse them to promote bigotry and greed.

To great cheers from the audience, of course.

bernie sanders sarah silverman
Bernie Sanders being introduced by Sarah Silverman at an Aug. 13 rally in Los Angeles.