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“An Infinite Loop Of Bullshit”: Bernie Sanders Has Some Strange Ideas About Why He Deserves The Nomination

The season-finale episode of Saturday Night Live imagines a bar-stool conversation between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in which the two candidates bond over Sanders’s stupidity in refusing to attack Clinton, and Clinton having rigged the primary system. (Clinton: “Remember all those states like Wyoming where you beat me by a lot, but I still got most of the delegates?” Sanders: “That was so stupid! It’s rigged!” Clinton: “I know. It’s so rigged!”)

The system isn’t rigged. Clinton is going to win the nomination because she has won far more votes. She currently leads with 55 percent of the total vote to 43 percent. That’s fairly close for a primary, but it’s not Bush-versus-Gore close. It’s not even Bush-versus-Dukakis close (the 1988 election, widely seen as a landslide, was settled by less than 8 percent). Clinton’s lead in pledged delegates is proportionally smaller than her lead in total votes because Sanders has benefited from low-turnout caucuses. Yet Sanders has enjoyed astonishing success at framing his narrative of the primary as a contest that, in some form or fashion, has been stolen from its rightful winner. His version of events has bled into the popular culture and fueled disillusionment among his supporters.

Sanders initially discounted Clinton’s success as the product of “conservative” states, which is a technically accurate depiction of the states as a whole, but not of the heavily African-American Democratic voters in them who supported Clinton. As Sanders has continued to fail to dent Clinton’s enormous lead in votes and delegates, his campaign has devised a series of increasingly absurd formulations to defend its theme that Sanders, not Clinton, is the authentic choice of the people.

  1. The activists love Bernie. “Any objective analyst of the current campaign understands that the energy and the grass-roots activism of this campaign is with us,” Sanders said recently. “Not Hillary Clinton.” But that’s not how you decide elections. Energy and activism are definitely part of the election process. But the way you determine the winner is by holding elections.
  2. Bernie has won more a lot of states. Sanders’s “top advisers” tell Politico that he will make “an aggressive pitch” for his nomination because Sanders “will be able to point to victories over Clinton in more than 20 states.” There are two problems with this pitch. First, unless you’re really into states’ rights, the number of states won is not a terribly useful metric — Sanders has done disproportionately well in low-population states, while Clinton’s supporters are concentrated in larger states. That is hardly a democratic basis to award him the nomination.

Also, 20 states is definitely less than half of all the states.

  1. Pledged delegates don’t count because of superdelegates. When presented with Clinton’s insurmountable lead in pledged delegates, Sanders notes dismissively that pledged delegates alone are not enough to win (i.e., “Hillary Clinton will not have the requisite number of pledged delegates to win the Democratic nomination at the end of the nominating process on June 14. Won’t happen. She will be dependent on superdelegates.”).
  2. Superdelegates also don’t count because of pledged delegates. The superdelegate system, he has charged, “stacks the deck in a very, very unfair way for any establishment candidate.” Or, alternately, “The media is in error when they lumped superdelegates with pledged delegates. Pledged delegates are real.”

The nomination is won by adding up pledged delegates and superdelegates. Clinton has a large lead in pledged delegates, and an even larger lead in superdelegates. You could rely entirely on one or the other, or change the weights between them in any fashion, and Clinton would still win. Sanders simply refuses to accept the combination of the two, instead changing subjects from one to the other. Ask him about the pledged delegates, and he brings up the superdelegates. Ask about the superdelegates, and he changes to the pledged delegates. It’s an infinite loop of bullshit.

Sanders deserves some sympathy. He set out to run a message campaign to spread his ideas. At some point, the race became quasi-competitive, and he discovered that he needed a competitive rationale in order to make the news media cover it, and as he has failed to gain ground, his competitive rationale has gone from strained to ludicrous. Meanwhile, his message has attracted fervent supporters who like him so much they actually believe his crazy process arguments.

 

By: Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, June 6, 2016

June 8, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democratic National Convention, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , | 4 Comments

“Without The Help Of Superdelegates”: Hillary Clinton Shatters America’s 240-Year-Old Glass Ceiling

History was a long time coming, but it arrived last night when the venerable Associated Press broke the news that Hillary Rodham Clinton had surpassed the needed number of delegates to secure the Democratic nomination.

For women born in the middle of the last century, this is the kind of unimagined achievement that makes you wonder if you stepped into the middle of a new Broadway play, perhaps “Hamilton” spun in another way to make the Founding Fathers turn over in their graves.

Like Clinton herself, these women, and I’m one of them, found their voices during the women’s movement of the 1970s, the civil rights movement of the 1960s and beyond, and the antiwar movement of the sixties and seventies. And while Clinton has her flaws, as we all do, she was on the front lines of all this social change, especially when it comes to women and girls.

“I got to tell you, according to the news, we are on the brink of a historic, historic unprecedented moment, but we still have work to do, don’t we?” Clinton said at a rally in California, one of six states holding elections today, and the one that could send her off with a big boost if she can edge out rival Bernie Sanders.

History made quietly with math is history all the same.

Yet its arrival in the midst of a still heated primary race makes it awkward for Clinton to fully embrace all that it means. The AP’s count includes the so-called superdelegates, party leaders and lawmakers who Sanders has vilified as unelected and unrepresentative of the voters.

The irony, of course, is that, Sanders—if he weren’t running for president—would be a superdelegate along with every Democratic member of Congress, and Democratic governor. Also, Clinton is expected to win enough pledged or earned delegates in the other contests, that by the time the polls close in New Jersey, she will reach the magic number and be the victor without the help of superdelegates.

It is another irony that Clinton while achieving what no other woman in America has done at the same time is so disliked. How can that be? It’s partly a function of the Clintons themselves, the dodging and weaving we’ve come to know so well, and partly the fault of our politics. Negative campaigning works, and we’re in for a sustained period of mudslinging as the two presumptive nominees work to define each other as the worst of the worst.

Clinton campaigned in 2008 as a fighter, and the Democrats chose Barack Obama, the healer. Obama leaves the presidency with extraordinary accomplishments, but bringing the country together is not one of them.

Clinton often says on the campaign trail that after everything the other side has thrown at her, “I’m still standing.”

The changing nature of the country is on full display. After a long line of white men, Obama shattered the tradition, and now Clinton is poised to continue the change that Obama’s presidency began.  It’s been a long time since we’ve seen an incumbent president enthusiastically out on the campaign trail working to elect his successor.

President George W. Bush was constrained by an unpopular war from helping his party, and in 2000 Al Gore kept his distance from President Clinton, believing that Clinton’s moral lapses would hurt him.

Obama has given every indication he will be an active campaigner for Clinton, rallying the coalition of young people, single women, and minorities that elected him twice with over 50 percent of the vote, a threshold that Bill Clinton did not quite reach in his two elections—and that Hillary Clinton surely has set as her goal.

Perhaps it’s fitting then that 2016 is shaping up as a referendum on diversity, with Donald Trump making statements that have alienated certain groups and ethnicities, while Obama and Clinton have embraced this new America.

There are plenty more tests ahead, but for now Clinton has gone where no other woman in American history has gone. Adapting what Neil Armstrong said when he set foot on the moon, “That’s one small step for woman, one giant leap for humankind.”

 

By: Eleanor Clift, The Daily Beast, June 7, 2016

June 8, 2016 Posted by | Democratic National Convention, Election 2016, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The First Of Many”: Sen. Mark Kirk ‘Un-Endorses’ Donald Trump

The Associated Press‘ congressional correspondent Erica Werner tweeted Tuesday afternoon that Senator Mark Kirk, in the middle of a fierce re-election fight in Illinois against congresswoman Tammy Duckworth.

First un-endorsement — Sen. Mark Kirk. “I cannot and will not support my party’s nominee for President.”

— Erica Werner (@ericawerner) June 7, 2016

On his own Twitter page, Kirk confirmed that he would not be supporting Trump, who as the GOP’s presidential nominee is the leader of the Republican Party:

Given my military experience, Donald Trump does not have the temperament to command our military or our nuclear arsenal.

— Mark Kirk (@MarkKirk) June 7, 2016

Yesterday, Duckworth blasted Kirk for his refusal to distance himself from Trump after the presumptive nominee’s racist attacks against federal judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is presiding over two class action lawsuits by former students at Trump University.

“Trump’s statements are outrageous. They are un-American and they are dangerous. They betray the weaknesses of a man who is fundamentally unsuited for the office of the presidency,” Duckworth told about 200 people, according to the Chicago Tribune.

A month ago, Kirk said that Trump’s candidacy would be “a net benefit” for his Senate re-election, referencing the large numbers of Republican primary voters he was bringing out to polls. He said at that time that he would endorse the Republican nominee for president, but that he was confident voters would be able to separate his candidacy from Trump’s

“These days I’m probably the best-positioned Republican to weather the institution of Trumpism because I have been voting pro-gay rights and against the gun lobby and solidly pro-choice,” Kirk said in the CNN interview at the time.

Read Kirk’s full statement to the press on his un-endorsement below:

“I have spent my life building bridges and tearing down barriers–not building walls. That’s why I find Donald Trump’s belief that an American-born judge of Mexican descent is incapable of fairly presiding over his case is not only dead wrong, it is un-American.

“As the Presidential campaign progressed, I was hoping the rhetoric would tone down and reflect a campaign that was inclusive, thoughtful and principled. While I oppose the Democratic nominee, Donald Trump’s latest statements, in context with past attacks on Hispanics, women and the disabled like me, make it certain that I cannot and will not support my party’s nominee for President regardless of the political impact on my candidacy or the Republican Party.

“It is absolutely essential that we are guided by a commander-in-chief with a responsible and proper temperament, discretion and judgment. Our President must be fit to command the most powerful military the world has ever seen, including an arsenal of thousands of nuclear weapons. After much consideration, I have concluded that Donald Trump has not demonstrated the temperament necessary to assume the greatest office in the world.”

 

By: Matt Shuham, The National Memo, June 7, 2016

June 8, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Voters, Mark Kirk, Tammy Duckworth | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“A Monumental Headache”: Conservative Media Struggles To Defend Trump And His Widening University Scam Scandal

What good is having a right-wing echo chamber if it’s not cranked up and blaring out a disciplined message during the presidential campaign? The conservative movement continues to grapple with that propaganda question in the wake of Donald Trump clinching the nomination, which has created deep fissures within the right-wing media and its historically united front.

For decades, conservatives have taken pride in their media bubble that not only keeps Republican fans selectively informed about breaking news, but also bashes away at all political foes. In full-fledged campaign mode, the right-wing media can effectively serve as a battering ram that Republicans use to attack their enemies or fend off in-coming volleys.

But Trump has scrambled that long-held equation. Embracing positions that often fall outside the orthodoxy of modern-day conservatism, while simultaneously rolling out non-stop insults, Trump has presented conservative pundits with a monumental headache: How do you defend a creation like Trump? Or as one National Review Trump headline lamented last month, “What’s a Conservative to Do?”

That riddle is especially tricky when Trump puts would-be allies in the uncomfortable position of having to defend the truly indefensible, like the widening scandal surrounding Trump University, the presumptive nominee’s former real estate seminar business. Over the years the dubious venture has been the subject of several ongoing fraud investigations and lawsuits, including one by the state of New York on behalf of 5,000 alleged victims.

“It’s fraud. … straight-up fraud,” the state’s Democratic Attorney General Eric Schneiderman reiterated during an MSNBC interview last week after a judge unsealed court documents from one of the Trump U. lawsuits and allowed for a more detailed look into the allegations of deceit.

The strange part? Some key conservative voices agree with the Democrat’s legal assessment. That’s why back in February, a National Review writer denounced the Trump seminars as “a massive scam.” And last month, The Weekly Standard warned that Trump U. represented a “political time bomb” that could doom the candidate’s November chances: “Democrats will see to that.” (Both magazines have opposed Trump for months and have pointed to Trump U. as a reason for their opposition.)

That’s what’s so startling about watching the conservative media this campaign season: It’s been completely knocked off its game. Known for its regimented messaging and willingness to almost robotically defend any Republican front-runner and nominee, Trump is finding only a smattering of defenders when it comes to damning allegations about his scam seminars.

And when Trump recently escalated the Trump U. story by attacking Judge Gonzalo Curiel and insisted he couldn’t be impartial because of his “Mexican heritage,” the presumptive nominee found himself even further isolated within the conservative movement. (The Wall Street Journal editorial page called Trump’s judiciary attack “offensive” and “truly odious”; Bill O’Reilly did defend Trump last night.)

As for the scamming allegations, even for members of the conservative media who are willing to try to assist Trump, there’s very little to grab on to in terms of defending the scandal-plagued Trump U. Based on mountains of allegations and complaints from angry students — students with no partisan political ax to grind — all indications point to a widespread fraud operating under Trump’s name and one that bilked victims out of millions of dollars.

As The Atlantic noted after reviewing previously secret training materials for Trump U., “the playbook focuses on the seminars’ real purpose: to browbeat attendees into purchasing expensive Trump University course packages.” According to an affidavit from former student Richard Hewson, he and his wife “concluded that we had paid over $20,000 for nothing, based on our belief in Donald Trump and the promises made at the free seminar and three-day workshop.”

The con appeared to touch every aspect of the real estate selling events. Instead of getting an implied, in-person meeting with Trump at one three-day seminar, some attendees were allowed to take their picture with a cardboard cutout of him. That’s one reason Schneiderman dubbed the whole program an “elaborate bait-and-switch” scheme. (Trump’s personal, immersed involvement was a key selling point.)

Still, some loyal conservative have tried to explain away the allegations. Last week on Fox, Tucker Carlson tried to downplay the damage by wondering if Trump U. was a “scam” the same way Princeton is a “scam.” Over at Outnumbered, co-host Jedediah Bila asked if Trump U.’s allegedly fraudulent practices weren’t just good “aggressive sales tactics.” She added, “I mean when the public hears this story, I’m wondering do they just see this as non-story?”

Bila’s co-host Melissa Francis also didn’t see what the big deal was: “You know, it goes to the story of him as an aggressive businessperson who wanted to sort of profit at all costs which is kind of what business is all about.”

And former Republican candidate Ben Carson assured Sean Hannity that, “I recently talked to a physician who went to Trump University, and this man is very wealthy, but he’s not wealthy from being a physician. He’s wealthy from what he learned at Trump University and learning how to do investments.”

Note that many of Trump’s other friends at Fox have been a bit more suspect on the matter. “Trump has a simple assignment, find five people who are graduates who are willing to go on TV and say, you know, my life was improved, my income went up, it was a good experience,” announced Newt Gingrich on Sean Hannity’s show, rather than categorically defending the dubious seminars. (To date, Trump has struggled to produce a multitude of satisfied graduates.)

Conservative talk show host Larry Elder also appeared on Hannity’s show last week to discuss Trump U. and insisted that while it was a “minor issue,” nonetheless “Trump should have settled this a long time ago.”

Even Trump’s fiercest media defender, Breitbart.com, has taken a timid approach to the Trump U. fraud story, with the site refusing to offer up a full-throated defense of the alleged scam.

The ferocious conservative echo chamber isn’t built for nuance and it’s not designed for internal debate. But by sparking so much general dissention and by putting conservatives in the position of having to defend something as noxious as Trump U., the nominee is helping to mute the right-wing media voice this campaign season.

 

By: Eric Boehlert, Media Matters For America, June 7, 2016

June 8, 2016 Posted by | Conservative Media, Donald Trump, Trump University | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

   

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