Bernie Sanders can't win the Democratic nomination, and he knows it, but by losing he's really winning.
The surest sign yet that Bernie Sanders isn't running to win the nomination is his staffing. Bernie has only 8 full time staffers in Iowa and New Hampshire put together. He has no staff or offices in South Carolina, the third primary state, or any of the other primary states. If the run for the nomination was a poker game, this would be a tell. Bernie doesn't plan to be around after Iowa and New Hampshire.
Despite closing the gap in New Hampshire, which he considers home turf, to 8 points and picking up some ground in Iowa, where he still trails Clinton by 20 points, the "surge" hasn't translated into a groundswell of national support. A month ago Bernie was polling around 12%. Now he's polling around 14%, about even with Joe Biden, who hasn't said anything about running. Overall, he still trails Hillary Clinton by close to 50 points.
For the most part Bernie Sanders hasn't been able to expand his base of support. Master prognosticator and statistical guru Nate Silver has done the math. Sanders does very well with progressive white voters, but fares poorly with other demographic groups, and particularity with minority voters. He's not doing well with the coalition of voters that Barack Obama was able to put together for wins in 2008 and again in 2012.
These numbers aren't good, but there's another number that's worse for Bernie. A recent Gallup poll asked voters what kind of presidential candidate they'd consider voting for. In every demographic, regardless of party affiliation, "socialist" came in dead last, behind "atheist" and Muslim." Even among Democrats, only 59% say they would consider voting for a socialist. There's no way to win the nomination of a party when 41% say they wouldn't even consider voting for you. The general election math is worse. Much worse.
In the current political environment, polarization is the keyword. Around 47% of voters will vote for the Democratic candidate, no matter what. This is the 47% Mitt Romney famously dismissed. About the same percentage will vote for the Republican, no matter what. It's the voters in the middle, voters whose votes can be swayed, that will decide this election. Moderates will not vote for a socialist. There's no math where 59% of 47% gets a candidate to 50% overall.
Math aside, there's an even more basic reason that Bernie Sanders can't win the nomination. Rule 1: The Democratic nominee must be a Democrat. A lot people believe Bernie is running as a Democrat. He's not. He's running for the Democratic nomination as an independent. There's only one segment of the party that supports Bernie, unions, and even that is more or less a 50/50 split. The rest of the party machinery is solidly lined up behind Hillary. Superdelegates, made up of senior elected officials and Democratic Party power players, are going to back the Democrat. Primaries, caucus and debate rules are all controlled by the party. It's simply not possible to win the nomination of a party that doesn't want you as the nominee.
Despite all of this Bernie Sanders is still winning, because he knows he can't win. He can and is doing two very important things. After decades of moving to the right, Bernie is succeeding at moving the political conversation to the left. Even trickle down, never met a corporation they didn't like, stash the cash in Caymans and incorporate overseas to avoid taxes Republicans are talking about the vast and growing gap between the 1% and everyone else. Their policies would make inequality worse, but at least they're talking about it.
The other way he's winning is to take some of the sting out of the word "socialist," a label that is political death in American politics. Bernie proudly calls himself a "democratic socialist," While some take pains to point out that this is different from the political ideology of socialism, in practice all socialist nations practice democratic socialism. There are no more autocratic socialist nations. The Gallup poll shows Americans still fear the term, but a likable, avuncular guy like Bernie Sanders makes it a lot less scary. Bernie is channeling the anger and frustration many Americans feel, but he manages to do it in a non-threatening way.
Bernie Sanders' campaign may not last beyond New Hampshire, but his influence will last. He's not a Democrat, but his campaign is good for the Democratic Party. It's also good for the country. In the end Bernie will continue to be a powerful progressive voice in the Senate, where along with other progressive like Elizabeth Warren, he will be at the vanguard of a long overdue progressive sea change of American politics, and that's the biggest win of all. Bernie Sanders is a winner.
Nikki Haley tried to grab credit for the Confederate battle flag coming down as Republicans in the House insisted the flag be allowed to fly on federal land.
Am I the only one who was put off by Nikki Haley making the signing of the bill to remove the flag a giant media circus with her center ring? Is it naive to think that a quiet, dignified, closed ceremony with only the families present would have been appropriate? I don't mind her taking a victory lap, though it was primarily the pressure from corporate America and the RNC, not Nikki Haley, that led to this, but to do it at the signing of the bill was tasteless.
It's particularly inappropriate considering that less than a year ago, when she was running for reelection, Haley vigorously defended the presence of the flag at the Statehouse. Her idea of a fix was to sugar coat the reality with peppy phone greeting.
What I can tell you is over the last three and a half years, I spent a lot of my days on the phones with CEOs and recruiting jobs to this state. I can honestly say I have not had one conversation with a single CEO about the Confederate flag.”
“But we really kind of fixed all that when you elected the first Indian-American female governor. When we appointed the first African-American U.S. senator, that sent a huge message.”
Haley said that she had tried to improve the perception of the state by ordering employees to answer the phone with the phrase “it’s a great day in South Carolina.”
It was also a bit weird that she referred to the "actions" of the people massacred at the Mother Emanuel Church multiple times. To my mind it was the actions of the families of the 9 at Dylann Roof's arraignment, expressing forgiveness, not anger, that led to South Carolina finally being dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century and being forced to do what it should have done long ago.
“I will never be able to hold her again, but I forgive you,” a daughter of one victim said. “We have no room for hating, so we have to forgive,” said the sister of another. “I pray God on your soul."
I'm glad they've taken down that rag of bigotry, hate and treason, but Nikki Haley and the government of South Carolina should be apologizing, not celebrating. It's everyone who has had to walk past that flag to do any official business with their state government and everyone everywhere who has chaffed under this symbol of hate who have the right to celebrate. Does the bully deserve a victory lap for finally ceasing to beat on his bloodied victim?
This certainly has symbolic meaning in the long struggle for civil rights, but corporate pressure can't end bigotry. Legislation can't force attitudes to change. Changing the status quo, however, does lead to real changes over time. Succeeding generations grow up in a South Carolina where official displays of bigotry and oppression are no longer the norm.
State troopers remove the Confederate battle flag from Statehouse grounds
The battle was joined Tuesday night, when Democrats offered a series of amendments to prohibit Confederate flags from being displayed at federal cemeteries, and to stop the U.S. Park Service from doing business with enterprises that sell the flags. These flags are typically displayed alongside the centuries-old tombstones of deceased confederate soldiers.
“This House now has an opportunity to add its voice to end the promotion of the cruel, racist legacy of the Confederacy,” California Rep. Jared Huffman said in a floor speech before his initial amendment was adopted Tuesday.
The measures passed by voice vote.
Outraged Southern Republicans shouted their opposition to the voice vote and chaos ensued on the House floor. All or most of the congressional delegations from Texas, Virginia, Mississippi, Georgia and Alabama, as well as majorities of the delegations from other Southern states, demanded that leadership include language protecting the display of the flag. A representative from California, of all places, Rep. Ken Calvert, R-CA, introduced an amendment to overturn the voice vote and allow the display of the flag on federal grounds, specifically federal cemeteries. Stung by immediate and harsh criticism, Calvert, issued a statement that blamed GOP leadership, and, of course, President Obama.
Rep. Ken Calvert, R-CA
The amendment offered last night to the Interior and Environment Appropriations bill was brought to me by Leadership at the request of some southern Members of the Republican Caucus. The Leadership amendment would have codified existing National Park Service policy set by the Obama administration. Those Obama administration policies prohibit the sale and display of the Confederate flag on National Park Service properties, except when displayed in a historical or educational context. To be clear, I wholeheartedly support the Park Service's prohibitions regarding the Confederate flag and the amendment did nothing to change these prohibitions.
Looking back, I regret not conferring with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, especially my Ranking Member Betty McCollum, prior to offering the Leadership's amendment and fully explaining its intent given the strong feelings Members of the House feel regarding this important and sensitive issue.
It was yet another embarrassing fiasco for a completely dysfunctional GOP House that can't even control its worst, most extreme members. The Confederate battle flag has been taken down in South Carolina, but it's still being waved by Southern Republicans in Congress.
In South Carolina, Republicans had used procedural tricks to stop the bill calling for the removal of the flag before finally capitulating and allowing the bill to proceed. There are two Republicans in South Carolina who deserve credit for removing the flag, and neither of them is Nikki Haley. The son of segregationist Strom Thurmond, Senator Paul Thurmond, R-SC, called for the flag to be removed in a moving speech just days after the Charleston massacre.
“For the life of me, I will never understand how anyone could fight a Civil War based in part on the desire to continue the practice of slavery,” Thurmond said. “Think about it for just a second. Our ancestors were literally fighting to continue to keep human beings as slaves, and continue the unimaginable acts that occur when someone is held against their will. I am not proud of that heritage.”
“Now we have these hate groups and the symbols that they use to remind African-Americans that things haven’t changed and that they are still viewed as less than equal human beings,” Thurmond continued. “Well, let me tell you, things have changed. Overwhelmingly, people are not being raised to hate or to believe that they are superior to others based on the color of their skin.”
“I am proud to be on the right side of history regarding the removal of this symbol of racism and bigotry from the Statehouse,” Paul Thurmond said on Tuesday. “But let us not be satisfied to stop there. Justice by halves is not justice. We must take down the Confederate flag and we must take it down now. But if we stop there, we have cheated ourselves out of an opportunity to start a different conversation about healing in our state.”
Despite Thurmond's plea it looked like Republican effort to stop the South Carolina bill, led by Rep. Rick Quinn and Rep. Michael Pitts, the latter adding dozens of amendments to the bill to stymie any possible progress, would succeed. They might have succeeded, had it not been for the amazing, impassioned, emotional speech from Republican Jenny Horne, that finally shamed Republicans into allowing the bill to proceed.
Many people deserve credit for the flag finally being taken down, including Republicans who called for the flags removal and voted for the bill, but Nikki Haley, who only reversed her support for flying the flag when political pressure mounted, isn't one of them.
MediaMatters caught a screenshot of a since deleted post from NRA board member Charles L. Cotten on a message board for Texas gun nuts. Cotton blames Pastor Clementa Pickney for the nine deaths at the hands of white supremacist domestic terrorist Dylann Roof. Speaking about Pinckney, who was also South Carolina State Senator, Cotton wrote...
And he voted against concealed-carry. Eight of his church members who might be alive if he had expressly allowed members to carry handguns in church are dead. Innocent people died because of his position on a political issue.
Screenshot of Cotten's post
At the bottom of Cotten's post was an image promoting NRA membership. This isn't the first time Cotten has posted something truly appalling. This is the same shitbag who wrote in favor of corporal punishment in public schools...
"I'm sick of this woman and her 'don't touch my kid regardless what he/she did or will do again' attitude, Perhaps a good paddling in school may keep me from having to put a bullet in him later," he added."
Cotten has been a NRA board member for a decade. His current term expires in 2017. It's bad enough that these are the sick bastards that make it impossible for America to enact sane gun laws. This kind of rhetoric simply has no place in any civilized society. Sadly, it's the norm for the NRA.
underestimate the lack of class or the pure ghoulishness of the right wing. In
the wake of the race-based domestic terrorism attack at the historic Emanuel
African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina that left nine
dead, right wing media and politicians rushed to use this terrible tragedy for
partisan political gain. There are some common threads to these efforts.
Nowhere is a motive mentioned. There’s no mention of race. The word “terrorism”
is never used. Even the phrase “hate crime” is carefully avoided. Instead, the
attack is blamed on gun free zones, not enough religion, mental illness and
even speculation about psychiatric drugs. And this isn't just the fringe. Just
hours after the attack assumed presidential candidate Rand Paul tried to pander to a group of Evangelicals by
blaming it on, "...people not understanding where salvation comesfrom."
had a shooting this morning in South Carolina,” Paul said (the shooting
happened last night). “What kind of person goes into church and shoots nine
people? There’s a sickness in our country, there’s something terribly wrong,
but it isn’t going to be fixed by your government. It’s people straying away,
it’s people not understanding where salvation comes from. And I think that if
we understand that, we’ll understand and have better expectations of what we
get from our government.”
Rand Paul, opportunist jackass
Paul’s unabashed opportunism was both clumsy and tasteless, but it also was also far removed from reality. The vast majority of white supremacist terrorists like Dylann Roof are devout evangelical Christians.
Kerry Picket, a reporter for Tucker Carlson’s ‘Daily Caller,’ was quick to try to link the attack to Sandy Hook and the Aurora movie theater shooting by chanting the gun nut mantra that the attack occurred in a gun free zone.
The Charleston, S.C., church massacre is already drawing
comparisons to the tragedies at the Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Conn., and at
a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. because it happened in a gun-free zone.
only thing the Charleston attack has in common with Sandy Hook or Aurora is the
use of a gun, but gun nuts blame anything and everything but America’s gun
fetish. Conservatives talk about mental health and lone wolves, even when it’s obviously not the case. This attack wasn’t the work of some random nut going
on a rampage. Dylann Roof is a white supremacist who had a clear motive to
terrorize the African-American community. The attack was well planned. The
target was carefully chosen. Even the pastor,
Clementa Pinckney, who was also a state senator and a rising star in
South Carolina Democratic politics, was specifically targeted.
This isn’t the first
race based attack on this church. The iconic Mother Emmanuel, as the church is
known locally, was founded in 1816. It’s the oldest AME church in the South,
with a long history of racial struggle. In 1822, one of the church’s founders,
Denmark Vessey, helped plan what would have been the largest slave revolt in US
history, had it not been discovered beforehand. Vessey and five co-conspirators
were hanged and the church was burned to the ground by an angry mob of whites.
Charleston later passed a law banning black churches, because they were hotbeds
of abolitionist activism. Members of Mother Emmanuel met in secret until the
church could be rebuilt after the Civil War. Booker T. Washington spoke at
Mother Emmanuel, as did Martin Luther King. The church was at the forefront of
the fight against slavery and later the struggle for civil rights, and is still
a focal point for the African-American community in Charleston and beyond. But to hear conservative politicians and the
right wing media machine tell it, this was anything but a well planned
terrorist attack by a white supremacist.
"This is out of character for Charleston, for South
Carolina. It does not make sense. It is an outlier."
in the real world this is completely in character for Charleston and South
Carolina, but Sanford is infamous for having only a loose connection to the
real world. He’s best known for disappearing from office for five days without
a word, thenlying about “hiking the
Appalachian trail” when he was actually holed up in South America with a woman
not his wife.
Dylann Roof posing with his "Confederate States" license plate
Charleston is a city with a long and troubled history of racial
strife in a state that has always been a flash point for virulent racism. Specifically
citing protection for the institution of slavery as the primary motive, South
Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union. The first shots of the
Civil War were fired by Confederate troops on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor.
The Confederate battle flag, the same symbol of racial hate emblazoned on
Dylann Roof’s “Confederate States” license plates), which still flies today at the
Confederate Soldier Monument, directly in front of the South Carolina
Statehouse in Columbia. South Carolina
today is at the very heart of the white supremacist movement in the United
The Confederate battle flag and Soldier Monument at the South Carolina Capitol
a poignant irony that the Confederate battle flag, alongside the seven star
flag of the Confederacy still flies from very near to Mother Emmanuel at Castle
Pickney, a Civil War era fort in Charleston Harbor close to Fort Sumpter.
Castle Pickney was named for Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, a slave holder and
signer of the Declaration of Independence. Clementa Pinckney was a descendant of those slaves.
Confederate flags flying alongside the American flag at Castle Pickney
For its part, leader of the right wing media machine Fox
News has avoided any mention of domestic terrorism and has struggled mightily
to avoid “hate crime” and “racism” as much as is possible, only briefly
mentioning that the Justice Department has opened a hate crime investigation. Fox
and Friends set the spin machine in motion the morning after the shooting by
claiming it wasn’t a hate crime (no mention of terrorism), but an attack on
Christianity. Co-host Steve Doocy stated, “It's extraordinary that Charlestonchurch shooting is being called a hate crime.” What’s extraordinary is that a
man this stupid can anchor a show on a supposed leading news network.
Strangely, on his radio show Rush Limbaugh was one of the
few voices on the right to clearly label the attack as terrorism. On his radio
show he said, "Keep in mind, there are more people dead, this church in
Charleston, South Carolina, than in the Boston bombing. I'm just trying to draw a comparison here. It's real terrorism, if you want to look at
Rush’s moment of clarity didn’t last long. He quickly
pivoted to blaming Barack Obama for supposedly politicizing the tragedy by
pointing out the fact that these kinds of mass killing killings don’t happen in
other advanced nations, where not any nut can walk into a store at any time and
buy as many guns as he wants. In the Wingnutosphere, mentioning gun violence
after yet another incidence of gun violence is unseemly and inappropriate,
because, as Saint Ronald of Reagan said, “Facts are stupid things.”
Democrats have often used attacks on African Americans not
just as opportunities to express their horror at racism or violence, but also
to imply that Republicans secretly approve of racism. Al Gore did this in 2000.
But in 2000, to support Al Gore’s campaign, the NAACP ran ads featuring the
voice of Renee Mullins, James Byrd’s daughter.
The point of the ad was not to argue the merits or demerits of hate crime laws,
it was to reach down into voters’ psyches and squeeze the chords of resentment
Hillary Clinton has already dealt this card with her
announcement speech urging that Republicans are trying to prevent African
Americans from voting. I very much fear that in short order, last night’s
horrible massacre in Charleston will be deployed for the lowest kind of
sheer scope of the irony here is truly stunning. What, if not deploying the
lowest kind of divisive politics, is Charen doing with this post? She’s not
responding to anything anyone has actually said about this tragedy. She’s just
trotting some favorite conservative shibboleths to attack liberals for
something no one has done. This post perfectly sums up the very heart of modern
conservatism. It’s no longer about ideology. The defining characteristic of
American conservatism is paranoia. Fear, real or imagined, has become the
driving force. Fear of Muslims. Fear of Hispanics. Fear of African-Americans,
and especially young African-American males. Fear of gays. Fear of Ebola. Fear that “their”
country is changing and there’s nothing they can do about it. Invading Iraq, a
country that had neither attacked the United States in the past nor had the
capability to attack us, is the multi-trillion dollar proof of this fear made
manifest. Bush and the neo-cons chose to believe the lies fed to them by a
single source with no credibility because those lies fit their fears. This
justified in their own minds telling even larger lies to the American people,
who they needed to be as afraid as they were.
Irrational conservative fear on display
is this underlying fear that causes conservatives to so often lash out in ways
that are breathtakingly inappropriate, even in the face of a terrible tragedy
like what happened at the Mother Emmanuel church. The people who were inside
that church when Dylann Roof opened fire know the real meaning of fear. Even in
the face of that fear, the kind of sheer terror most of us will never know, Clementa
Pinckney, the church’s pastor, a state senator carrying the name of a man who
signed the Declaration of Independence, a forty-one year old married man with
two children, tried to calmly talk Roof out of it right up to the moment he was
shot dead. Conservatives could learn a thing or two about true fear, and true
courage in the face of fear from Clementa Pinckney. We all could.
UPDATE: Since I posted this a short while ago B.B. King has passed away. I first met B.B. King almost 30 years ago. Here's the story of one night I got to spend with the man...
There's been some
confusion, so to set the record straight, no, B.B. King is not dead. Soul
legend Ben E. King died at 76 on the same day that 89 year old blues legend
B.B. King announced on his website that he was in Hospice care at his home in
Soul legend Ben E. King
B, as his friends and
family know Riley B. King, was first diagnosed with Type II diabetes almost
three decades ago, after he was found in his Rolls on the side of the road in
Vegas in a coma. There were premature reports of his death then, too. I know
all too well. I co-promoted his very first show back after recovering, 'Love
Comes to Town: A Blues Benefit for the Homeless' at Michigan State University
in East Lansing. It was also the first show in 40 years of touring where he sat
down. Sitting down, talking to the audience and playing a few songs without his
fantastic orchestra became a regular part of his show from then on. It was a
brilliant show. B.B. never sounded better. Everything that night went off
without a hitch, but that was far from the case for everything that had come
Me with Kenny Kinsey, Ralph Kinsey, BB King,Lester"Big Daddy" Kinsey, Donald Kinsey and Ron Prince
From the beginning we
had problems. The first problem was the university missed the ticket release
date by almost two weeks. It was during this delay that we encountered the
second problem: B.B. King's health problems. Because he was initially
hospitalized in a coma, premature reports of his death were flying. Some
newspapers ran their canned B.B. King obits and radio stations paid homage with
special B.B. King programming. Early ticket sales were disappointing, to say
the least. Who buys a relatively high dollar ticket to see a dead guy? It
didn't help that his management cancelled six weeks worth of shows, every
single show right up to ours.
B.B. King with U2 at Sun Studio during the recording of 'When Love Comes to Town'
shows do bigger walk-up business than other genres, so we were still optimistic
that with a strong promotional effort we could sell out the house. B.B was
touring on the strength of, ‘When Love Comes to Town,’ recorded at Sun Studios
with U2. The single hit number 2 on the US charts. Plus, B.B. King had always
done well in Lansing. With the right promotion we hoped we could get his
long-time fans to drive the few miles to East Lansing. We hit the barbershops,
community papers and community radio stations in the African-American
neighborhoods of Lansing and also promoted heavily on classic rock radio,
around East Lansing and on campus. Then we were hit with the knockout punch.
Magic Johnson drives on Isaiah Thomas
There was no way to know
it in advance, but show night turned out to be the same night as Game 7 of the
NBA Finals between the Detroit Pistons and the Los Angeles. The Pistons, only
75 miles down the road, had a rabid local following. Compounding the problem,
the Lakers were led by Earvin “Magic” Johnson, who was not only a Lansing
native, he had taken Michigan State to the NCAA Finals, where MSU beat Indiana
State, led by another future Hall of Famer, Larry Bird. Magic was more than
just a local sports hero. He was THE sports hero.
Magic John and Larry Bird, 1979 NCAA Final
The crossover between our audience and the audience of the game was too much to
overcome. We sold about half of the tickets we had expected to sell. Any one of
the problems we could have overcome. Maybe even two. But this was a perfect
storm of promoter's nightmares. After expenses, including a guaranteed donation
to a homeless services agency, we lost just over $14,000 on the show.
Shortly before he went on B.B. sought me out backstage. There was no way to
hide the fact that half of the seats were empty. Or to hide my disappointment.
He put an arm around me and pulled me in close for a hug and said, “Sometimes
things just don’t work out. Don’t let it get you down. This isn't your fault.
It’s just one of those things. What you’re doing here is a beautiful thing.
Keep the faith.” It mean the world to me at the time and still does.
I've known B.B. King for
many years. We aren't friends; we had a business relationship, but he treats
everyone he meets as a friend and I’ll always think of him as a friend. He’s a
very humble man. He always has a kind word. He is one of the most giving
artists I've ever met, and one of the most giving human beings. He played 150
or more shows every year for nearly seven decades, a touring career unmatched
by any other artist. Even in his senior years he would stay after a two hour
show for hours more to talk with fans and sign autographs, despite being
physically exhausted and often having a show hundreds of miles away by bus the
B.B. King greeting fans and signing autographs after a show
I'll cherish every
moment I was lucky enough to spend with this great man. He's far outlived any
expectations, and he's lived a life as full as full can be doing the thing he
loves the most and bringing joy to millions doing it. B.B King is not going to
recover this time. He hasn't left us yet, but this is the last chapter of an
amazing life. That's what Hospice care means. But instead of being sad about
this, celebrate the life, the art and the humanity of Riley "Blues
Boy" King, the true King of the Blues. I guarantee you, that's how B would