Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Want To See Bernie Defeat The Two Conservatives And Become President? Keep Fighting


Almost everyone I know is desperate to see Trump defeated in November-- but no one wanted it to be this way. CNN analyst Stephen Collinson reported yesterday that Trump is being forced to lead the country into what is shaping up to be one of its most tragic months in history "as experts say the coronavirus pandemic could kill more citizens than the Vietnam and Korean wars combined." But instead of a figure the country could rally behind, we are stuck with a self-congratulatory, divisive sociopath. "It’s no exaggeration." wrote Collinson, "to say Trump faces the most critical month of his presidency yet-- and how he conducts himself will be crucial for the country and his own hopes of reelection. But there are signs that he does not fully understand the stakes nor is willing to relegate his own interests in favor of the common good. Trump still appears to be marveling at the spread of the virus, which he says no one could have predicted. Health experts had anticipated its arrival in the US for months as he predicted a miracle would occur and it would just go away. And on a day when so many Americans died, he boasted at one point that his hair blowing in the breeze in the White House Rose Garden was his own, marking an inappropriate tone for a harrowing national moment. Trump blasted reporters for asking "snarky" questions when they use facts and his own words to point out shortcomings in the effort to combat the virus in the United States, which now has more confirmed infections than any other nation. His reaction did not dispel the impression that he is more interested in protecting his reputation than fixing mistakes that may worsen the pandemic."

With Trump in the thick of his reelection race, his daily early evening briefings are increasingly fusing with his political strategy, and the crisis is already shaping the 2020 race.

On Sunday, he embraced warnings by senior health officials that 100,000 or more Americans could die from coronavirus if he failed to extend his self-distancing guidelines. Trump alone among senior officials had been itching to ease the measures.

There was a subtle yet significant shift in his rhetoric on Monday.

"By very vigorously following these guidelines, we could save more than 1 million American lives. Think of that: 1 million American lives," the President said.

The comment suggested that at the end of a national disaster that has been exacerbated by his leadership failings, he will bill himself as a victorious wartime President who rescued many Americans from death.

...Trump's news conferences remain a self-serving mix of the most positive developments in the coronavirus fight, saved up for campaign-style announcements. On Monday, Trump posed like a game show host's assistant as he lifted a new testing kit out of its box for the cameras-- and the President basked in testimonials to his leadership from Cabinet officials and invited corporate CEOs.

The reality of the coronavirus crisis appears far less upbeat on the front lines than it does from Trump's boisterous sessions in the White House Rose Garden, however.

Maryland's Larry Hogan, a Republican who's one of several governors who introduced tough stay-at-home orders on Monday, warned that the Washington metro area was likely to replicate the difficult scenes in New York soon.

"We're just two weeks behind New York, with... higher numbers here than they were at two weeks ago," Hogan told CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

Hogan warned that warnings by the federal government's top infectious disease specialist Dr. Anthony Fauci that 100,000 Americans could die in the pandemic were a best case scenario.

"Just to put that in perspective, that's more than the number of Americans that died in the Vietnam war and the Korean war added together. And we're not talking about over a number of years. We're talking about in a very short period of time," Hogan said.
Goal ThermometerThe Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor piece in yesterday's New Yorker, Reality Has Endorsed Bernie Sanders, spread online like wildfire. But if you get your news from corporate media-- particularly from Comcast-TV, the beating heart of the #NeverBernie movement-- you will never hear about how Taylor personified the debate over the role of government in addressing income inequality, housing insecurity, debt accumulation, and health care to the battle between Bernie on the one hand and the two conservative candidates, populist-right Trump and down-the-center establishmentarian Biden on the other. "It is difficult to articulate the speed with which the U.S. and, indeed, the world, has descended into an existential crisis," wrote Taylor, a professor of African American Studies at Princeton. "We are experiencing an unprecedented public-health event whose diminution and potential resolution rests with a series of prescriptions, including settlement-in-place orders, that will annihilate the economy. The deadly spread of covid-19 demands enclosure as a way to starve the searching virus of bodies to inhabit. The consequences of doing so removes workers from work and consumers from consumption; no economy can operate under these conditions." The Act Blue thermometer on the right is where you can contribute to Bernie's campaign and to the progressive congressional candidates running on his platform. You may want to use it when you think more about what Taylor had to say.
American life has been suddenly and dramatically upended, and, when things are turned upside down, the bottom is brought to the surface and exposed to the light. In 2005, when Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath ravaged the Gulf Coast, it, too, provided a deeper look into the darkness of U.S. inequality. As the actor Danny Glover said then, “When the hurricane struck the Gulf and the floodwaters rose and tore through New Orleans, plunging its remaining population into a carnival of misery, it did not turn the region into a Third World country, as it has been disparagingly implied in the media; it revealed one. It revealed the disaster within the disaster; gruelling poverty rose to the surface like a bruise to our skin.”

For years, the United States has gotten away with persistently chipping away at its weak welfare state by hiding or demonizing the populations most dependent on it. The poor are relegated as socially dysfunctional and inept, unable to cash in on the riches of American society. There are more than forty million poor people in the U.S., but they almost never merit a mention. While black poverty is presented as exemplary, white poverty is obscured, and Latinos and other brown people’s experiences are ignored. As many as four in five Americans say they live paycheck to paycheck. Forty per cent of Americans say that they cannot cover an unexpected four-hundred-dollar emergency expense.

...Thus far, the Trump Administration has predictably bungled the response to the coronavirus. But the Democratic Party’s response has been hampered by its shared hostility to unleashing the power of the state, through the advance of vast universal programs, to attend to an unprecedented, devolving catastrophe. About half of American workers receive health insurance through their employer. As job losses mount, millions of workers will lose their insurance while the public-health crisis surges. In the last Democratic debate, former Vice-President Joe Biden insisted that the U.S. doesn’t need single-payer health care because the severity of the coronavirus outbreak in Italy proved that it doesn’t work. Strangely, he simultaneously insisted that all testing and treatment of the virus should be free because we are in crisis. This insistence that health care should only be free in an emergency reveals a profound ignorance about the ways that preventive medicine can mitigate the harshest effects of an acute infection. By mid-February, a Chinese government study of that country’s coronavirus-related deaths found that those with preëxisting conditions accounted for at least a third of all covid-19 fatalities.

Dismissing the necessity of universal health care also shows an obliviousness to the power of medical expenses to alter the course of one’s life. Two-thirds of Americans who file for bankruptcy say that medical debt or losing work while they were sick contributed to their need to do so. The costs of medical treatment become a reason for postponing visits to the doctor. A 2018 poll found that forty-four per cent of Americans delayed seeing a doctor due to its cost. Already, half of Americans polled have said that they worry about the costs of the testing and treatment of covid-19. In a situation like the one we are in, it becomes easy to see the ways that encumbered access to health care exacerbates a public-health breakdown. N.B.A. players, celebrities, and the wealthy have access to the coronavirus test, but attending nurses and frontline health-care workers, community health centers, and public hospitals do not. Health-care inequalities are problems that have been left unattended, creating so many small, imperceptible fractures that, in the midst of a full-scale crisis, the structure is collapsing, shattering under its own weight.

The case has never been clearer for a transition to Medicare for All, but its achievement clashes with the Democratic Party’s decades-long hostility to funding the social-welfare state. At the heart of this resistance is the pernicious glorification of “personal responsibility,” through which success or failure in life is seen as an expression of personal fortitude or personal laxity. The American Dream, we are told, is anchored in the promise of unfettered social mobility, a destiny driven by self-determination and perseverance. This ingrained thinking evades the fact that it was the New Deal, in the nineteen-thirties, and the G.I. Bill, in the nineteen-forties, that, through a combination of federal work programs, subsidies, and government-backed guarantees, created a middle-class life style for millions of white Americans. In the nineteen-sixties, as a result of prolonged black protest, Lyndon Johnson authored the War on Poverty and other Great Society programs, which were intended to lessen the impact of decades of racial discrimination in jobs, housing, and education. By 1969, with Richard Nixon at the helm, during an economic downturn that ended what was then the longest economic expansion in American history, the conservatives attacked the notion of the “social contract” embedded in all of these programs, claiming that they rewarded laziness and were evidence of special rights for some. When Nixon ran for reëlection, in 1972, he claimed that his campaign pitted the “work ethic” against the “welfare ethic.”

This was an attack not only on public aid and subsidized housing but also on the people using those programs. Republicans successfully tapped into the racial resentments of white suburbanites, who decried “their” tax dollars going to unruly, rioting African-Americans. They resented “forced integration,” “forced busing,” and “the bureaucrats,” as Nixon derisively called the previous Democratic Administrations. It is important to understand that this was not demonization for its own sake or because of some irrational antipathy toward African-Americans. This was about keeping the corporate tax rate low and reëstablishing the profitability of capital in the aftermath of another, longer economic downturn. It is hard for businesses and their political representatives to counsel ordinary workers to do more with less. It was easier to blame welfare queens, welfare cheats, and an oblique, yet black, underclass for the end of these “wasteful” programs. In 1973, Nixon unceremoniously declared an end to the “urban crisis”—the catalyst for much of Johnson’s welfare state. This created the pretext for his gutting of the Office of Economic Opportunity, the office that managed the web of anti-poverty programs created by the War on Poverty.

The eventual defection of ordinary white voters from the Democratic Party to the Republicans meant that the Democrats soon aped the right’s strategy of downplaying the structural roots of inequality while portraying black communities as ultimately responsible for their own hardships. By the end of the nineteen-eighties, the Democratic Party was championing law-and-order politics and harsh, racist attacks on welfare entitlements. In a 1988 column for the Post of Newark, Delaware, titled “Welfare System About to Change,” the then Senator Biden wrote, “We are all too familiar with the stories of welfare mothers driving luxury cars and leading lifestyles that mirror the rich and famous. Whether they are exaggerated or not, these stories underlie a broad social concern that the welfare system has broken down-- that it only parcels out welfare checks and does nothing to help the poor find productive jobs.” This statement was hardly extraordinary; it reflected widespread efforts to transform public perceptions of the Democratic Party. By the early nineties, President Bill Clinton was promising to “end welfare as we know it,” which he succeeded in doing by the end of the decade.

This is the historical backdrop to the hypocrisy of U.S. government-spending priorities today. Bipartisan denunciations of big government do not apply to the obscene amounts spent on the military or the maintenance of the nation’s criminal-justice system. The U.S., across all levels of government, spends more than eighty billion dollars annually to operate jails and prisons and to maintain probation and parole. The budget for the U.S. armed forces topped out at a stunning seven hundred and thirty-eight billion dollars for this year alone-- more than the next seven largest military budgets in the world. Meanwhile, social-welfare programs-- from food stamps to Medicaid, to subsidized and assisted housing, to public schools-- are forced to provide on the thinnest margin, triaging crises, rather than actually pulling people out of poverty.

When Bernie Sanders’s critics mocked his platform as just a bunch of “free stuff,” they were drawing on the past forty years of bipartisan consensus about social-welfare benefits and entitlements. They have argued, instead, that competition organized through the market insures more choices and better quality. In fact, the surreality of market logic was on clear display when, on March 13th, Donald Trump held a press conference to discuss the covid-19 crisis with executives from Walgreens, Target, Walmart, and CVS, and a host of laboratory, research, and medical-device corporations. There were no social-service providers or educators there to discuss the immediate, overwhelming needs of the public.

The crisis is laying bare the brutality of an economy organized around production for the sake of profit and not human need. The logic that the free market knows best can be seen in the prioritization of affordability in health care as millions careen toward economic ruin. It is seen in the ways that states have been thrown into frantic competition with one another for personal protective equipment and ventilators—the equipment goes to whichever state can pay the most. It can be seen in the still criminally slow and inefficient and inconsistent testing for the virus. It is found in the multi-billion-dollar bailout of the airline industry, alongside nickel-and-dime means tests to determine which people might be eligible to receive ridiculously inadequate public assistance.

The argument for resuming a viable social-welfare state is about not only attending to the immediate needs of tens of millions of people but also reëstablishing social connectivity, collective responsibility, and a sense of common purpose, if not common wealth. In an unrelenting and unemotional way, covid-19 is demonstrating the vastness of our human connection and mutuality. Our collectivity must be borne out in public policies that repair the friable welfare infrastructure that threatens to collapse beneath our social weight. A society that allows hundreds of thousands of home health-care workers to labor without health insurance, that keeps school buildings open so that black and brown children can eat and be sheltered, that allows millionaires to stow their wealth in empty apartments while homeless families navigate the streets, that threatens eviction and loan defaults while hundreds of millions are mandated to stay inside to suppress the virus, is bewildering in its incoherence and inhumanity.

Naomi Klein has written about how the political class has used social catastrophes to create policies that allow for private plunder. She calls it “disaster capitalism,” or the “shock doctrine.” But she has also written that, in each of these moments, there are also opportunities for ordinary people to transform their conditions in ways that benefit humanity. The class-driven hierarchy of our society will encourage the spread of this virus unless dramatic and previously unthinkable solutions are immediately put on the table. As Sanders has counselled, we must think in unprecedented ways. This includes universal health care, an indefinite moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, the cancellation of student-loan debt, a universal basic income, and the reversal of all cuts to food stamps. These are the basic measures that can staunch the immediate crisis of deprivation-- of millions of layoffs and millions more to come.

The Sanders campaign was an entry point to this discussion. It has shown public appetite, even desire, for vast spending and new programs. These desires did not translate into votes because they seemed like a risky endeavor when the consequence was four more years of Trump. But the mushrooming crisis of covid-19 is changing the calculus. As federal officials announce new trillion-dollar aid packages daily, we can never go back to banal discussions of “How will we pay for it?” How can we not? Now is a moment to remake our society anew.
The RealClearPolitics head-to-head general election averages show Bernie beating Trump by nearly 6 points. The average is 50.5% to 44.8%. The most recent poll (last week by Harris) shows Bernie beating Trump 53-47%, exactly the same as the most recent Emerson polling of the week before.

It doesn't matter if Bernie has far more support in California than Biden does because no matter which candidate faces Trump in November, California's 55 electoral votes will go to that candidate. Nor does it matter that Biden has far more support than Bernie does in South Carolina because no matter how much huffing and puffing Jim Clyburn does this fall, South Carolina's 9 electoral votes are going-- uncontested-- to Trump. But you know what is important? Swing states, where the winner of the 2020 election will be determined. The RealClearPolitics polling average of Wisconsin shows Trump and Biden tied all year-- 45.0% to 45.0%. Democrats need those 10 electoral votes, that their status quo candidate lost in 2016. And Bernie has been ahead of Trump in Wisconsin all year-- and their average right now shows Bernie leading 46.2% to 45.2%. The average in Florida shows Biden and Bernie both losing to Trump, Biden by less... but the polling this year shows that Florida's 29 electoral votes are going to Trump no matter who the Democratic candidate is. That just makes Michigan's 16 electoral votes all the more crucial. Again, the Democrats' status quo candidate lost Michigan to Trump in 2016. This year Bernie is ahead of Trump 46.3% to 41.8%. Trump is so unpopular in the state that even Status Quo Joe is ahead of him-- albeit by a bit less than Bernie: 46.2% to 41.8%. Both Bernie and Biden lead Trump in Pennsylvania, Minnesota and North Carolina. And Trump is ahead of both in Texas, although Bernie is closer and has a better chance of closing the gap. It's the opposite in Georgia where Trump leads them both but Biden is closer.

MSNBC has done everything its corporate masters have demanded to make it look like the race is over and that Biden is the nominee. It isn't over and yesterday Juan Cole noted that elections will be conducted in such a way going forward that will be advantageous to progressives and harm those who have benefitted from keeping voting to a minimum, namely the conservative establishment. He began with Trump's admission on Fox News "that a mail-in ballot program that made it possible for the public to vote with ease and increased turnout would keep Republicans from ever being elected again."
Hispanics are now 18 percent of the US population, up from about 6 percent in 1980. In order to win fairly, Republicans needed to gain a significant proportion of that vote. The Bush’s knew this, and cultivated that constituency. George W. Bush typically attracted 40 percent of the Hispanic vote. But the dominance of Evangelicals and xenophobic southern and rural whites turned the party increasingly xenophobic and anti-immigrant. (Most Hispanic Americans are not immigrants, but many whites coded them that way). The increasingly vitriolic racism of the Tea Party and the Republican base against Hispanics drove some of them out of the party. Trump only got 28 percent of the Hispanic vote, very substantially off from Bush’s percentages. His favorability ratings by late last fall had further fallen among Hispanics to only 25 percent.

Then, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders now make up 6 percent of the US population, up from 1.6 percent in 1980. They now comed to over 20 million people. Many were conservative and business-oriented and the old Republican Party had a shot at them. But the racism has also caused many of them to flee. They heavily now favor the Democrats and they really don’t like Trump.

Further, according to Pew, white evangelicals as a proportion of the population have plummeted from 23 percent in 2004 to only 16 percent today. Pew finds that among white Protestants, evangelicals have retained their proportion, but not in the general population (i.e. many fewer Americans identify as Protestants or as religious at all). So white evangelicals could help put Bush in the White House, but just don’t have that kind of moxie any more.

And another thing: the proportion of whites in the population has fallen to only 60 percent from 75 percent in 2000. The number of counties that are majority non-white is rising. So since some significant proportion of whites vote Democratic, you can’t get elected just with what’s left of the white vote. Trump got in only because a few tens of thousands of traditionally Democratic whites in the Midwest switched to him because he said he’d bring jobs back from China and because there was a significant fall-off in the African-American vote, at least a point in Michigan, for instance.

So the lesson is that Republicans can now only win by poaching whites from the Democrats and by suppressing the minority vote.

They succeeded in 2016 (and the lackluster campaign of Hillary Clinton helped). But in the electoral college, Trump’s victory was by the skin of his teeth in three Midwestern states. The old saying attributed to circus impresario P. T. Barnum is that “A sucker is born every minute.” But the opinion polling in Michigan, at least, does not support the notion that white workers are likely to be suckered again.

So if Trump can’t steal some white Democrats this time, that really does leave only one hope, which is to find ways of preventing African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asians from voting.

The Republican Party has obviously made some very bad choices. Gravitating to the Neo-Fascist Breitbart crowd, the nativist crazies, the rapidly declining evangelicals, and generally old white people has been stupid policy. But it is in many ways Nixon’s legacy. What worked in the 1980s may not work in the 2020s. And if the numbers are any indication, the Republicans could become a long-term minority in the near future, as there were from 1931 until 1952.

The arc of history may or may not bend toward justice but it sure as hell bends toward reality.

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At 5:14 AM, Blogger davidchop said...

The math simply doesn't work for Bernie. It'd take nothing short of a miracle to overcome his delegate deficit at this point. I'm not happy with Biden either, but Bernie needs to man up and admit defeat.

At 7:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

to flesh out David's truth, the 771 $uperdelegates will be added to whatever biden gets from the dumbest voters in the history of humankind. I know it's math-n-shit, but that means that even if biden doesn't get 51% on the first ballot, he's guaranteed to get 67% on the second ballot.

Given the current disaster, Bernie's the bridge is out on his path to the presidency as a democrap. If he's serious, and his own history and promises show he is not, his path can only be as an independent.

If he declared as an Independent (should have been done a month ago) and started hammering biden and trump as equals; and reminded everyone of every. single. time. biden. tried. to. ratfuck. people... who knows. But all I do know is that, as a democrap, he was never going to be allowed near the nomination.

as for the article... truth qualified by Nazi talking points? Is that really what the democraps are about? Can the potted geraniums not see this? (that was rhetorical):

"The case has never been clearer for a transition to Medicare for All, but its achievement clashes with the Democratic Party’s decades-long hostility to funding the social-welfare state. At the heart of this resistance is the pernicious glorification of “personal responsibility,” through which success or failure in life is seen as an expression of personal fortitude or personal laxity."

What MFA clashes with is the billions the democraps, specifically Pelosi, will rake in from health insurance and phrma to NEVER do MFA. Only a Nazi party loyalist would bring up personal fortitude or laziness as the operative factor. Sheepdogs used to at least pretend not to be sheepdogs.

"The arc of history may or may not bend toward justice but it sure as hell bends toward reality."

This actually contradicts the sheepdoggery. What history bends toward is dependent on who is writing the history and who is "understanding" history. If slick willie and obamanation are viewed favorably by history and those who "understand" history, it very clearly does NOT bend toward reality.

Even W is viewed pretty benignly by history at this point.

Reagan has his name on an airport for fuckssakes!

At 10:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


When you say Bernie had NO CHANCE at the nomination this year (and presumably 2016 as well), you're overlooking something important: He simply hasn't racked up the votes to do so anyway. Not then, not now. The DNC looked at the contest this year, figured out that Bernie might end up with at least a plurality of delegates out of a crowded field, and acted accordingly to protect the party. If you want to refer to that as "rigging", fine. Just seems like common sense to me. Running Bernie for President is not in their best interests, since at least a THIRD of currently elected Dems would disavow (or at the very least significantly distance themselves from) him in the general election. Yes, this certainly proves that there are few, if any, actual progressives among the party leadership. Which sucks, but, whatever.

I suspect that if Bernie had more personal charisma (and hadn't just had a heart attack, weren't pushing 80, and didn't identify as a Socialist), there's a good chance he COULD actually win the Democrat nomination. As for what would happen if he ran as an Independent - he'd run into the same brick wall he runs into anyway - lack of personal charisma (among other issues) keeps him from scoring with voters despite great policies + loads of incredibly stupid whites all across the country who won't vote for a new "Great Society" because it would benefit lazy colored people. And if he somehow won as either a Democrat or an Independent - he'd still be hamstrung by a hostile Congress and Senate. And Supreme Court.

It's idiotic (on the part of both you and DwT!s contributors) to keep thinking some heroic outsider (Dem or Indy) is going to come along and single-handedly save the world, either by transforming the Dems or as an Independent candidate. When a valid alternative party that runs for local and federal seats has some success and then decides to run a someone for President as part of a 50-state slate, we can have this conversation. You talk as if you're the only realist on the planet, but in your own strange way, you're even more deranged than the DwT! folks. You really think these Wonderful Unicorn Candidates will magically appear as soon as people stop voting for Democrats? I suspect the DwT! people have already dismissed that as nonsense and decided that working to transform the Democratic Party FROM WITHIN makes more sense to them. They may be wrong, but at least they're doing SOMETHING as opposed to standing on the roof and waiting for Santa to bring presents even though it's March and pretty obvious that he ain't coming (which is basically what you're doing, dummy).

Just a reminder: no rain predicted for the DC area today, so you can set yourself on fire in front of the Capital Building as an act of public protest if you wanna let everyone know how bad things are. Just sayin'.

We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you do is post useless comments on the internet! And you take yourself so seriously! UGH! How dare you! Greta Thunderbird

At 11:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Trump could fall on his face and the Democrats will beat the Republicans to his side to help him back up and dust him off.

There is no opposition party to corporatism.

At 9:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steve, just go ahead and flush the meds. they're not working anyway.

First you say Bernie wouldn't be allowed to win, justify it and at the same time validate my indictment of the party, then you say if Bernie was just prettier and younger, maybe he could. Do you not also understand my indictment of lefty voters?

it's ok. but maybe come up with a more creative way to implore me to do myself in.

At least we all now understand the real steve. no doubts remain.


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