Archive for Presidential Race

Aug
26

Biden time, or what?

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Speculation in the press about a Biden run for president caught fire after Vice President Joe Biden met with Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Saturday. But Politico reports that Biden will not attend this week’s Democratic National Committee meeting in Minneapolis. That should dampen the speculation unless Biden turns up by surprise. All the major Democratic contenders are expected.

If Biden decides to run, writes Michael Tomasky, the Warren meeting was brilliant press. But things could get ugly fast. The Obama-Clinton primary fight of 2008 was ugly enough. In the end, Tomasky believes, “Obama had the larger and more morally urgent historical claim to make in the minds of most Democrats and liberals. The woman would have to wait, as women so often do.” Making women wait again while yet another white guy takes the White House could be a gut punch to women who believe it’s now Clinton’s turn. Whatever their policy differences with Clinton, too many of the male persuasion on the left don’t seem to appreciate that. Remember the PUMAs?

The Washington Post offers several more reasons why a Biden run would be risky for his legacy. Also, as pretty much everyone observes, it is pretty late in the game for Biden to get in, unless he is positioning himself, as Tomasky suggests, to be the contingency candidate should Clinton succumb to some new “scandal,” as she never has before.

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Aug
25

Beyond the fringe

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Lazier pundits like to view Sen. Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump as fringe candidates. But that’s Village-speak for “not establishment.” What fans find attractive about both is their iconoclastic styles, which couldn’t be more different. Writing for Bloomberg News, Will Leitch attended Donald Trump’s event in Mobile, Alabama last weekend and found that the common thread among those standing in line in the heat was this:

They were sick of all the bulls–t. They were sick of being talked to like they’re idiots. They might not be up on the policy papers or every specific detail of the Iran deal. But they can smell bulls–t.

Trump, the flashy billionaire, the reality show host, the consummate bullshitter, uses bullshit to cut through bullshit. They like that. Leitch explains:

They hate Hillary Clinton, they hate Obama, they hate Jeb Bush, and they hate them all for the same reason: They think they’re lying to them. Many, I found, especially hated Bush for his Spanish-language campaign ads. This came up several times. Bush is “as bad as any of them,” said Tony Hamilton, a truck driver from nearby Pensacola, Florida. “I voted for his brother and his dad, but not him, never. He’s just like the rest of them.”

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While we’re believing that Donald Trump is going to deport millions of undocumented immigrants without a plan to pay for it, and while we’re believing he’ll build a 2,000 mile-long southern border fence and get Mexico to pay for it (because Donald knows how to negotiate), why not engage in a military buildup without a plan to pay for it? (And without raising taxes. That’s a given.)

According to Politico, “a growing roster of Republican hopefuls” believe the U.S. needs dozens of new warships if it expects to keep throwing around its global weight. Not that the news outlet could find any to quote for the article. Honestly, this almost reads as if it should be labeled “sponsored content” from the Navy League of the United States for the group’s lobbying campaign, “America’s Strength: Investing in the Navy-Marine Corps Team”:

It’s a love affair steeped in the ideology that more warships bristling with aircraft and missiles translates into more security — and that control of the high seas will not only guarantee international trade but also check the worst ambitions of other powers like Russia and China. And it’s also fueled by a powerful shipbuilding lobby in Washington that is also calling anew for billions more in federal spending to beef up the sea service.

Christie was the first to raise the issue earlier this election season, saying the Navy “should be an armada without equal,” and pledging, if elected president, to reach the goal of 350 ships. Walker also noted earlier this year that “we’re at, what, 275, 280 vessels right now? We’re headed down toward 250. That’s less than half of where we were under Reagan.”

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Aug
22

Cons not ready for the Big Con

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Real activists work in community organizing, political campaigns, voter registration, call-your-congresscritter, and Get-Out-the Vote efforts, etc. Then there is conservative James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas. Anti-government militiamen play with weapons in the woods, pretending they’re Rambo. O’Keefe’s hidden-camera crews play at being undercover agents, hoping to coax real activists into doing or saying something that, with the right editing and promotion, will appear nefarious on Fox News.

Project Veritas now seems to have set its sights on the Hillary Clinton campaign, Time reports:

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Aug
20

They Said What?

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The Washington Post’s Editorial Board scolds Republican presidential hopefuls (with the exception of Jeb!) for “kneeling before [Grover] Norquist’s make-believe anti-tax theology.”

It is ludicrous, the Board believes, to “pre-reject an entire range of policy options” for dealing with government spending projected to expand from the 20.1 percent of gross domestic product the U.S. averaged from 1965 to 2014 to 25.3 percent by 2014:

At that time, federal revenue is projected to equal about 19.4 percent of GDP absent any policy changes. There is, in other words, a vast budget gap that will need to be filled. Unlike his opponents, Mr. Christie has proposed specific benefit cuts that would narrow the gap somewhat. But neither his proposals, nor any other, can close the gap entirely in the absence of increased revenue. Trying to do so would leave the government paying pensions and rising interest costs (as it borrowed more and more) and devoting little or nothing to the other things Americans expect from government: defense, roads, bridges, basic scientific research, national parks and more.

When it comes to blowing up things or threatening other countries with sanctions or invasion, Republicans take nothing “off the table.” When it comes to paying bills or leaving their country better than they found it, they take away the table.

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Aug
14

Great balls of foreboding

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With Hillary Clinton getting Swift Servered in the media for being, you know, Hillary Clinton, and with Bernie Sanders being used as a progressive effigy by Black Lives Matter, Washington-level Democrats are feeling a bit uneasy about their 2016 prospects this week. Opposed as they are by a Republican cornucopia of clowns, that’s saying something.

BuzzFeed News reported yesterday that, according to “a senior Democrat,” Al Gore supporters are “getting the old gang together” to explore the prospect of Gore entering 2016 presidential race:

“They’re figuring out if there’s a path financially and politically,” the Democrat said. “It feels more real than it has in the past months.”

[snip]

A member of Gore’s inner circle asked to be quoted “pouring lukewarm water” — not, note, cold water — on the chatter.

“This is people talking to people, some of whom may or may not have talked to him,” the Gore adviser said.

It is not clear what the purpose is of floating this story to BuzzFeed, but it smacks of some foreboding about Clinton’s electability. A retired white woman I spoke with last week expressed dislike for Clinton, if that’s any indication. She had voted for Obama, and now is eager for Joe Biden to jump into the race. It’s not just about trust, but likeability.

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The Doors performing for Danish television in Copenhagen (Gladsaxe Television-Byen studio)
By Polfoto/Jan Persson (Den Store Danske – The Doors) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The 1960s are back. Campaign for America’s Future’s Bill Scher looks at the no-win scenario Bernie Sanders faces, not just from Black Lives Matter activists, but from the whole progressive spectrum:

In effect, Bernie isn’t running for President of the United States of America. He’s running to be President of Progressive America. And when you are running to be an ideological standard-bearer, your ideological fellow travellers all demand you adhere to their own standard. That involves not just checking every box on the liberal to-do list, but giving maximum rhetorical emphasis to everyone’s top priority. Which is impossible. It’s a game that can’t be won.

Sanders has already proposed immigration reform more liberal than the 2013 bipartisan Senate bill in a speech to the National Council of La Raza and incorporated a searing critique of entrenched racism into his regular stump. His reward was a public scolding by Seattle activists who prevented him from speaking at a Social Security rally, one of whom demanded the crowd “join us now in holding Bernie Sanders accountable for his actions.”

Perhaps what they (and other activists) really want to hold Sanders accountable for is whatever hope and change Obama failed to deliver. This time, no prisoners.

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Aug
12

Has his time come?

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“The soulless pursuit of profit has vulgarized American society,” writes Charlie Pierce. Looking at Donald the Vulgar, Pierce sees a man whose time has come:

… He has looked at the American political landscape as it has evolved since 1980 and decided that it has become just the kind of place where Donald Trump could get himself elected. Unfortunately, he was correct in that assessment. He was a vulgarian in an unusually vulgarian time and he is now a vulgarian in an age in which vulgarianism has become so normalized that we hardly notice its most deleterious consequences any more, or we call them “freedom,” which is the most vulgar thing I can think of.

Yet even as Trump pursued profit, Bernie Sanders toiled through those same years at the sort of unglamourous civil rights and social justice efforts that never pay well. As Republican candidates make vulgar obeisance before the likes of the Koch Brothers or, as Pierce dubs him, “international vice lord, Sheldon Adelson,” Bernie Sanders’ growing popularity may signify rejection of the vulgarian model.

Has his time come:

A stunning new poll has Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) beating presumptive Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire.

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Aug
09

No, it’s not a metaphor. Really.

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Comedy writer and playwright David Castro shared some impressions of Thursday’s Republican presidential debate:

Some final thoughts on the 10 Guys at Open Mic Nite at the Chuckle Hut in Cleveland:

1. How did Ben Carson operate as a neurosurgeon when he can barely open his eyes?

2. I want to see Trump and Rand Paul in a wind tunnel.

3. Jeb Bush isn’t even the kind of guy his brother would want to have a beer with.

4. Marco Rubio says he knows what it’s like living paycheck to paycheck. What else does he know?

5. Mike Huckabee said the Supreme Court isn’t the Supreme Being. Is this that Cthulu I’ve heard so much about?

6. Chris Christie is clearly running to be the head of the Five Families.

7. Mike Huckabee believes in DNA so his finally accepting the heliocentric view of our solar system is not out of the question.

8. This Kasich guy – he arm-wrestled Carly Fiorina and won the right to be here, right?

9. Ted Cruz – look up the etymology of decimated. You were decimated tonight.

10. Scott Walker looks like the church group youth leader that parents know not to leave their kids with.

Man’s Dominion,” David’s show about a 1916 lynching in Erwin, Tennessee drew great reviews at the Hollywood and Toronto Fringe Festivals. The good people of Erwin once lynched a circus elephant. No, really.

“Man’s Dominion” is at the Chicago Fringe Festival – Sept 3 – 13, 2015.

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