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“Stop Global Whining”: In This World, You Can’t Break An Appointment With Disappointment

New York Times columnist Charles Blow didn’t go far enough: frankly, anybody who subscribes to the “Bernie or Bust” mentality needs to have his or her head examined. I’m sure such scans are covered by Obamacare (i.e., the shameful corporate compromise by that closet Republican in the White House!).

It is unfathomable that so-called committed progressives would selfishly sit out the 2016 general election because they can’t get over the fact that their preferred candidate did not win the Democratic nomination. It is unconscionable that those who claim to want to move America forward would allow the country to race backward over the next four to eight years. It is unbelievable that anyone with a halfway-rational mind thinks “Bernie or Bust” is a good idea.

The hatred that the “Bernie or Bust” camp holds for Hillary Clinton defies logic: how can one love Sanders and loathe Clinton? Both candidates are among the most accomplished public servants of the past half-century: despite their differences, they are united in their compassion for America’s shunned, stigmatized and suffering.

Sanders clearly respects Clinton, but for some reason, a critical mass of his supporters have nothing but disrespect for the former Secretary of State. These supporters have fallen for the false narrative that Clinton worships the wealthy and pleases the powerful–and that Sanders is the only morally sound candidate in the race. The Hillary-as-corporate-sellout meme is just as jaw-droppingly dopey as the argument that there was no substantive difference between Al Gore and George W. Bush sixteen years ago. What did Santayana say about those who don’t learn from history?

By the way, what exactly do the “Bernie or Bust” folks mean when they call Clinton a “corporatist”? Isn’t “corporatist” an inscrutable insult, not unlike the use of the term “politically correct” by right-wingers? I doubt any member of the “Bernie or Bust” crowd can provide a non-convoluted explanation of the term “corporatist.” The term is all sound and fury, signifying nothing.

What will these holier-than-Hillary folks say if Donald Trump is elected President–and his hate-filled rhetoric leads to more Mexicans being mauled by the malevolent? “Oops”? “My bad”? “I wasn’t thinking”?

Neither Clinton or Sanders are saints: Clinton is as imperfect on fracking as Sanders is on firearms. Yet I don’t see Clinton’s supporters threatening to stay home if the Vermonter is victorious in the Democratic primary.

The “Bernie or Bust” folks are just as irrational in their quest for ideological purity as the Tea Partiers who went after Dede Scozzafava, Bob Inglis, Mike Castle and Richard Lugar were. By choosing to stay home in the general election in the event Sanders loses the Democratic primary, these folks could effectively rig the game against the middle class for good.

In addition to harboring a heightened hostility towards Hillary Clinton, the “Bernie or Bust” crowd is notorious for its obnoxious opprobrium towards President Obama.

How many times have you heard the #NeverHillary types lambaste the 44th President as a compromising “corporatist” who stabbed progressives in the back at every turn and genuflected to the 1 percent? (Even Sanders himself bought into this odd narrative: why else would he have called for Obama to be primaried in 2012, knowing full well that such a primary would have weakened Obama in the general election, just as Ted Kennedy’s 1980 primary challenge to President Carter made the incumbent easy prey for Ronald Reagan?)

I’m not exactly sure where the “Bernie or Bust” crowd got the idea that Obama was supposed to be the ultimate progressive warrior: his famous speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention made it clear, to everyone who actually paid attention, that Obama was a pragmatist at heart, someone who believed that reaching across the aisle was a moral duty, someone who was committed to the idea that the red, white and blue, involved, well, red and blue.

That speech–an insight into Barack Obama’s soul–was not a particularly progressive address, and anyone who expected Obama to govern from a perspective of progressive purity apparently failed to grasp the true tenor of that speech. Having said that, progressives made gains during the Obama administration, as Paul Krugman has noted. Too bad some of those progressives don’t seem to appreciate it.

I argued last year that “a compelling case can be made that Barack Obama is one of the greatest presidents of all-time.” Sadly, it appears that Obama will not get the historical props he deserves for his accomplishments–not only because of the revisionist history of the reactionary right, but also because of the revisionist history of the self-righteous “Bernie or Bust”-ers on the left, the Union of the Ungrateful that fails to acknowledge Obama’s victories on economic reform, equality, climate change and health care, among other issues. This time, the cliche is appropriate: if Obama walked on water, progressive purists would say he couldn’t swim.

Like Prince’s parents in “When Doves Cry,” the “Bernie or Bust” crowd is too bold and never satisfied–and they will find new reasons to be disgruntled if Sanders upsets Clinton in the Democratic primary and becomes the 45th president. They won’t be happy once President Sanders compromises with Republicans and conservative Democrats, as he must in order to govern. They won’t be happy if President Sanders authorizes drone strikes and sanctions the strengthening of the surveillance state in an effort to incapacitate ISIS. They won’t be happy when President Sanders makes it clear that he cannot fully, or even partially, implement his economic vision.

Presumably, they will then turn on Sanders and denounce him as another traitor to the cause, another sellout to the “Democratic establishment” (cue the horror music). They will never acknowledge the truth: that governing is hard work and requires compromise. Bill Clinton understood this. Barack Obama understands this. If he succeeds Obama as President, Bernie Sanders will understand this. However, his most fervent supporters won’t–because, at bottom, they do not understand that in this world, you can’t break an appointment with disappointment.

 

By: D. R. Tucker, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, April 3, 2016

April 4, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Bros, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Progressives | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Huge, Glitzy, Unembarrassed”: Trump’s Incoherence Veers Into The Danger Zone

Perhaps the laws of political gravity are about to take hold in the case of Donald Trump. But the lesson of this appalling primary season cautions against discounting Trump’s appeal — which prompts another Trump column, this one on the utter incoherence of his policy views.

It’s not simply that Trump is wrong on policy. Ted Cruz is wrong on policy. Trump is wrong on policy and argues for policy positions glaringly inconsistent with his asserted principles. All politicians do this, sure. But Trump’s incoherence is classically Trumpian — huge, glitzy, unembarrassed.

That phenomenon was on vivid display last week, as world leaders gathered for a summit on nuclear nonproliferation. On this topic, Trump stands, or says he does, with the global consensus. He raised the issue in his discussion with The Post’s editorial board, in response to a question about whether he believes in man-made climate change.

“The biggest risk to the world, to me . . . is nuclear weapons,” Trump said. “That is a disaster, and we don’t even know where the nuclear weapons are right now. . . . The biggest risk for this world and this country is nuclear weapons, the power of nuclear weapons.”

Okay, and — leaving aside the strange suggestion that authorities don’t know where the nukes are — give Trump credit for emphasizing the nuclear risk.

Except, jump ahead a few days, to Trump’s interview with the New York Times and his CNN town hall. Given Trump’s argument that the United States should withdraw military protections from Japan and South Korea, the Times’s David E. Sanger and Maggie Haberman asked: Should those countries be able to obtain their own nuclear weapons?

Trump’s answer managed to combine his concerns about proliferation with opening the door to more. “There’ll be a point at which we’re just not going to be able to do it anymore,” he said. “Now, does that mean nuclear? It could mean nuclear. It’s a very scary nuclear world. . . . At the same time, you know, we’re a country that doesn’t have money.”

So the United States can’t afford a nuclear deterrent? The cost of maintaining and modernizing the U.S. nuclear arsenal was $24 billion in 2015, and is expected to total about $350 billion over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The cost of Trump’s proposed tax cuts is around $1 trillion — annually. I’m no billionaire, but that doesn’t seem like a smart balance of spending priorities.

CNN’s Anderson Cooper pushed Trump further on the conflict between his anti-proliferation stance and his willingness to allow more proliferation — during which Trump opened the door to a nuclear Saudi Arabia, closed it, and then cracked it open again.

Cooper: “So you have no problem with Japan and South Korea having . . . nuclear weapons.”

Trump: “At some point we have to say, you know what, we’re better off if Japan protects itself against this maniac in North Korea, we’re better off, frankly, if South Korea is going to start to protect itself . . .”

Cooper: “So if you said, Japan, yes, it’s fine, you get nuclear weapons, South Korea, you as well, and Saudi Arabia says we want them, too?”

Trump: “Can I be honest with you? It’s going to happen, anyway. . . . It’s only a question of time.”

This is a radical position, even contained to South Korea and Japan. “That would be an incredible catastrophe,” said Kingston Reif of the Arms Control Association. “We have a big enough problem with stability in that region without introducing two new nuclear weapons states.”

The cornerstone of U.S. nuclear policy for decades has been to prevent additional countries from acquiring nuclear capability. The more countries with nuclear weapons, the greater the risk of use, and of technology and material falling into the wrong hands. China would likely respond by increasing its nuclear arsenal. Other countries would lobby to go nuclear. U.S. influence in the region — on trade rules that Trump cares about, for example — would wane.

“No contender for the presidency of the United States in either party has ever said that since nuclear weapons were invented,” Michael Green of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, who served on the National Security Council under George W. Bush and advised the Jeb Bush campaign, said of Trump’s view. “It would cost us enormously . . . in terms of the steps we’d have to take to defend ourselves against a much more weaponized world.”

There are other examples of Trumpian incoherence, but perhaps none so striking, and so dangerous if taken seriously.

 

By: Ruth Marcus, Columnist, The Washington Post, April 3, 2016

April 4, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Nuclear Weapons, World Leaders | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Trump’s Many Racist Supporters”: Not All — But A Lot Of ’Em

In a Republican debate last month, Donald Trump was asked whether his claim that “Islam hates us” means all 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide hate the United States.

“I mean a lot of ’em,” Trump replied, as some in the crowd — Trump supporters, presumably — laughed and applauded.

That ugly moment comes to mind in describing how many of Trump’s supporters have racist motivations for backing him: Not all — but a lot of ’em.

Just as it’s unfair to paint all Trump backers as bigoted, it’s impossible to ignore a growing volume of public-opinion data showing that a large number of his supporters are indeed driven by racial animus.

A Pew Research Center national poll released Thursday found that 59 percent of registered voters nationwide think that an increasing number of people from different races, ethnic groups and nationalities makes the United States a better place to live; only 8 percent say this makes America worse. But among Trump backers, 39 percent say diversity improves America, while 42 percent say it makes no difference and 17 percent say it actually makes America worse. Supporters of GOP rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich were significantly more upbeat on diversity.

This was no anomaly. The week before, my Post colleagues Max Ehrenfreund and Scott Clement reported on a Post/ABC News poll that asked whether people thought it more of a problem that African Americans and Latinos are “losing out because of preferences for whites” or that whites are “losing out because of preferences for blacks and Hispanics.”

Trump had the support of 34 percent of Republican-leaning voters overall, but among those who said that whites are losing out, 43 percent supported Trump. Ehrenfreund and Clement did a further analysis finding that racial anxiety was at least as important as economic anxiety — the factor most commonly associated with Trump backers — in predicting support for Trump. Though the two factors were statistically close, those “who voiced concerns about white status appeared to be even more likely to support Trump than those who said they were struggling economically.”

Other somewhat-related attributes may be as or more predictive of whether somebody will support Trump: approval of deporting undocumented immigrants, strong feelings that the government is dysfunctional, and support for banning Muslims from entering the United States. (Authoritarian child-rearing attitudes, believed by some to be closely related to Trump support, were less predictive.)

But Clement, The Post’s polling manager, told me: “What was striking to me in analyzing the data is that even after controlling for a variety of demographics and attitudes [including all those above], believing whites are losing out continued to be a key predictor of Trump support. . . . Its importance persisted under a wide range of scenarios.”

This, in turn, confirms previous findings. Earlier this year, University of California at Irvine political scientist Michael Tesler, citing data from Rand Corp.’s Presidential Election Panel Survey, found that “Trump performs best among Americans who express more resentment toward African Americans and immigrants and who tend to evaluate whites more favorably than minority groups.”

Trump’s supporters overall tend to be older, disproportionately male, less likely to have a college degree and more likely to be suffering economically. But race is an ever-present factor among Trump supporters. Trump support, it has been shown, is high in areas where the number of racist search queries on Google is also high. The Post’s Jeff Guo has documented that Trump, in GOP primaries, performs best in areas where the middle-aged white death rate is highest — that he effectively channels “white suffering into political support.”

Various polling of more dubious methodology has found that Trump supporters are more likely to support the Confederate battle flag, oppose Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and support the Japanese internment camps of World War II. But Thursday’s poll by nonpartisan Pew, a well-respected outfit, finds antipathy toward minorities as well: Sixty-nine percent of Trump supporters say immigrants burden the country, and Trump supporters are significantly more likely than other Republican voters to want illegal immigrants deported, to favor a wall along the Mexican border and to support extra scrutiny of Muslims in the United States solely because of their religion.

Some Trump supporters may not be overt about (or even conscious of) racial motivations. One indication: Trump support is higher in automated or online polls than in surveys conducted by a live interviewer — about five percentage points, according to a study by the polling firm Morning Consult. One possible factor is a “social desirability bias” that leads them to tell an interviewer not what they believe but what they think is acceptable in society.

This may mean some Trump supporters feel a sense of shame — and that’s good. Trump makes bigots feel safe to come out of the shadows. But that doesn’t excuse them.

 

By: Dana Milbank, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, March 31, 2016

April 4, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Racists, Trump Supporters | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“GOP Convention Rule 40(b)”: How An Obscure Rule Could Limit The GOP Convention To A Choice Of Trump Or Cruz

Back in the day, when national party conventions were largely autonomous events rather than infomercials for a nominee chosen in primaries and caucuses, you’d have many names, including multiple “favorite son” candidates who were not really running for president, placed in nomination, with extensive time spent on nominating speeches and even “spontaneous” floor demonstrations. As conventions became more tightly controlled and their managers worried about things like ensuring that the balloting and acceptance speeches occurred before East Coast television viewers were asleep, nonserious candidacies were sacrificed to efficiency. Among Republicans, the tradition developed that no one’s name could be placed in nomination without support from at least three delegations; that cut off the pure favorite-son candidacies. Beyond that, the status of conventions as ratifying rather than nominating events exerted its own pressure on “losers” who typically succumbed to the pressure to unite behind the nominee and grin for the cameras.

That was before the Ron Paul Revolution appeared on the scene. In 2012, the Paulites shrewdly focused on winning fights for delegates that occurred after primaries and caucuses in hopes of making their eccentric candidate and his eccentric causes a big nuisance at Mitt Romney’s convention. And so the Romney campaign and its many allies reacted — some would say overreacted — by using its muscle on the convention Rules Committee (meeting just prior to Tampa to draft procedures for the conclave) to change the presence-in-three-delegations threshold for having one’s name placed in nomination to this one:

Each candidate for nomination for President of the United States and Vice President of the United States shall demonstrate the support of a majority of the delegates from each of eight (8) or more states, severally, prior to the presentation of the name of that candidate for nomination.

This Rule 40(b), moreover, was interpreted to mean that no candidate who did not meet the threshold could have votes for the nomination recorded in her/his name.

Rule 40(b) succeeded in keeping the Paulites under wraps in Tampa, but as is generally the case, it remained in effect as a “temporary” rule for the next convention, subject to possible revision by a new Rules Committee meeting just prior to the 2016 gathering, and by the convention itself, which controls its own rules. In fact, its drafters may have intended to keep the rule in place to head off some annoying convention challenge to President Romney’s renomination.

Back in the real world, Rule 40(b) may have been in the back of some minds early in the 2016 cycle as a way to keep the convention from being rhetorically kidnapped by noisy supporters of Rand Paul, or of the novelty “birther” candidate Donald Trump.

Now, obviously, the shoe is on the other foot, and there is a growing possibility that the two strongest candidates for the GOP nomination, Trump and Ted Cruz, could join their considerable forces to insist on maintenance of Rule 40(b) or something much like it to prevent their common Republican Establishment enemies from exploiting a multi-ballot convention to place someone else at the top of the ticket.

Trump is currently the only candidate who is beyond the eight-state-majority threshold for competing for the nomination under the strict terms of Rule 40(b). But Team Cruz is confident enough that its candidate will also satisfy the rule that he’s the one out there arguing that Rule 40(b) means votes for John Kasich are an entire waste because they won’t be counted in Cleveland. And with both Trump and Cruz repeatedly claiming that the nomination of a dark horse who hasn’t competed during the primaries would be an insult to the GOP rank and file, maintaining Rule 40(b) is the obvious strategy to close off that possibility. A good indicator of the new situation is the evolving position of Virginia party activist and veteran Rules Committee member Morton Blackwell, a loud dissenter against Rule 40(b) before and after the 2012 convention, who now, as a Cruz supporter, is arguing that changing the rule “would be widely and correctly viewed as [an]  outrageous power grab.”

But can the Republican Establishment stack the Rules Committee with party insiders determined to overturn Rule 40(b) and keep the party’s options wide open going into Cleveland? Not really. That committee is composed of two members elected by each state delegation. No likely combination of Kasich and Rubio delegates and “false-flag” delegates bound to Trump or Cruz but free to vote against their interests on procedural issues is likely to make up a majority of the Rules Committee, or of the convention. Indeed, most of the anecdotal evidence about “delegate-stealing” in the murky process of naming actual bodies to fill pledged seats at the convention shows Team Cruz, not some anti-Trump/anti-Cruz cabal, gaining ground. If Trump and Cruz stick together on this one point no matter how many insults they are exchanging as rivals, they almost certainly can shut the door on any truly “open” convention and force Republicans who intensely dislike both of them to choose their poison.

That would leave Kasich with his fistful of general-election polls and the proliferating list of fantasy “unity” candidates on the outside in Cleveland, playing to the cameras but having no real influence over the proceedings. And you can make the case that this is precisely what the Republican “base” wants and has brought to fruition through the nominating process. It would, of course, be highly ironic if the Republican Establishment’s Rule 40(b) became the instrument for two candidates generally hated by said Establishment to impose a duopoly on the party. But there’s no President Romney around to put a stop to it.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine,  March 31, 2016

April 4, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, GOP Convention, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Dawn Of Justice”: What Exxon Mobil Knew About Possible Consequences Of Climate Change And When Did They Know It

I hope Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were paying close attention to the press conference New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman held with former Vice President Al Gore on Tuesday:

More government officials are asking what Exxon Mobil knew about climate change.

Attorneys general from Massachusetts and the Virgin Islands announced Tuesday that they would join Eric T. Schneiderman, New York’s attorney general, in his investigation into whether Exxon Mobil lied in decades past to investors and the public about the threat of climate change.

The additional participation was announced during a news conference at Mr. Schneiderman’s offices in Lower Manhattan announcing support from 15 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands for the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan.

Attorneys general from Vermont, Maryland, Massachusetts, Virginia, Connecticut and the Virgin Islands, as well as former Vice President Al Gore, attended the event.

While none of the other officials present, aside from Maura Healey of Massachusetts and Claude Walker of the Virgin Islands, announced inquiries of their own, Mr. Schneiderman said, “not every investigation gets announced at the outset.”

Mr. Schneiderman began his investigation in November. His staff is looking at whether statements the company made to investors about climate risks — some as recently as last year — conflicted with the company’s own scientific research.

Part of that inquiry includes the company’s funding, for at least a decade, of outside groups that worked to dispute climate science, even as its in-house scientists were describing the possible consequences of climate change, along with the areas of uncertainty.

If either Clinton or Sanders becomes the 45th President of the United States, they will face intense pressure from climate activists to nominate an attorney general willing to hold ExxonMobil and other major fossil fuel companies legally accountable for their efforts to deceive the American public and distort the American political process in an effort to thwart federal efforts to combat carbon pollution–and they must respond to this call for justice. As Gore noted at the press conference, what ExxonMobil did in the late-1980s and beyond is indistinguishable from what the tobacco industry did for decades in an effort to protect their profits at the expense of the public.

Holding ExxonMobil legally accountable for its amoral actions in the late-1980s and beyond would seem to be a no-brainer. That’s why it’s so odd to see the acclaimed science blogger David Appell lashing out against the calls to bring ExxonMobil to justice, using a variation of the “Leonardo DiCaprio flies private jets, so he’s a hypocrite!” argument you often hear from the anti-science right. Appell seems to think that climate activists just want revenge on ExxonMobil. Future generations will want revenge, of course, but today’s activists just want accountability.

Appell is wrong. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey noted that “…her office had a moral obligation to act” on ExxonMobil’s extremism. The next US Attorney General will have a moral obligation to act as well. Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders, take note–and take heed.

 

By: D. R. Tucker, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, April 3, 2016

April 4, 2016 Posted by | Big Oil, Climate Change, Exxon Mobil, U. S. Attorney General | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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