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Has U.S. Democracy Been Trumped? Bernie Sanders wants to know who owns America?

#14721 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2020-February-07, 12:48

Guest post from former NY congressman Steve Israel:

Quote

How Never Trumpers Fell in Line

During my 16 years in Congress, from 2001 to 2017, I worked closely with Republicans in the House and, occasionally, in the Senate. Still, as I watched my former colleagues defend the president during his impeachment trial, I was struck by the same question that baffles many: Why didn’t more Republican senators convict President Trump, or at least allow additional witnesses in his impeachment trial? My conversations with lawmakers, and my own experiences in Congress, offer up a theory.

Republican members of Congress broadly fall into two types: those who, on principle, have always supported the president, and those who, fearing electoral consequences, have rationalized their decision to stick with him.

When I think of this second type, I remember a House Republican who once told me he thought Donald Trump would destroy his party. Then, in the summer of 2016, I ran into him at an airport. He told me he’d just received the results of a poll.

“Who do you think is the most popular candidate in my district?” he asked.

“You?” I responded. (Congressional protocol requires consistent flattery.)

“Nope. Donald Trump.”

And so he began to shift his position. At first, he dipped in a toe, declining to criticize Mr. Trump when given the chance. Then, when he saw dissenting Republicans defeated in primaries or humiliated in tweets, he waded in deeper, publicly coming to Mr. Trump’s defense. Now, he’s undergone a baptism. When I recently asked him about Mr. Trump’s behavior, he told me about the strength of the economy, the reduction in taxes and regulation, and the danger of extremist Democrats.

How did he go from “Never Trump” to “never allow a witness who might implicate Trump”?

He’s part of a growing wing of the Republican Party: the rationalizers.

I’m familiar with political rationalization — I watched and even practiced it during my time in Congress. Like erosion, political rationalization is incremental, shaped by harsh winds and climates over a period of time. It usually begins when a small issue meets a larger electoral consequence. Constituents push you to vote “yes” when you want to vote “no,” so you rationalize: “I’ll wait for someone else to put it over the top, then my ‘yes’ vote won’t mean as much.” Or: “I’ll vote yes, but the Senate will defeat it. Or the president won’t sign it. Or if it does become law, well, there’s always the Supreme Court.”

Pressured by re-election, you make a tiny, inconsequential concession on a specific issue or vote. Nothing more than a small chip off your principles.

Early in my career, I had my own moment of rationalization. In 2001, only six months after being sworn into the House of Representatives, President George W. Bush proposed significant tax cuts. I was deeply concerned about their impact on the debt, but my polling showed that voting against lower taxes in my Republican-leaning districts was politically fatal. So I rationalized: “This will be the last tax cut I support” (it wasn’t); “the deficits will be offset” (they weren’t); “by voting with Republicans on this, it gives me more credibility to vote against them on other issues” (actually, in that case, it did).

An occasional concession does no harm to democracy. But when justifying compromises becomes an operating system — when each day, politicians contort their views to fit the politically popular, as ordained by the president — our representatives become unrecognizable. They transform from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde — or 2016 Lindsey Graham to 2020 Lindsey Graham.

The pull to rationalize is made stronger by the fact that the president doesn’t allow for nuance in the Republican ranks. You’re either with or against him. Several Republicans have told me the story of Representative Mac Thornberry, a Republican from Texas, who announced in September that he was not running for re-election.

Two months later, he was asked on ABC News about Mr. Trump’s call with Ukraine’s president. Included in his otherwise fulsome defense of the president was this: “I believe it was inappropriate. I do not believe it was impeachable.” Hours later, Mr. Trump tweeted: “Republicans, don’t be led into the fools trap of saying it was not perfect, but is not impeachable. No, it is much stronger than that. NOTHING WAS DONE WRONG!”

Message received: If your support of President Trump isn’t complete and unequivocal, he will go after you in a viral tweet.

As Republicans flock behind the president, they start to believe his exaggerations and misinformation. Soon, an initial concession of a few inches widens to an inescapable partisan trench. What was once an adopted position — a line pushed by the president — becomes a tribal truth. It’s the Ukrainians who meddled not the Russians. Separating children from parents and putting them in detention centers is an exaggerated liberal narrative. The real problem isn’t President Trump, it’s Hunter Biden. There’s no more dancing around these issues; now they stomp in unison.

Pragmatism, compromise and even ideological agility have always been part of politics. But what is happening now is dangerous. The rationalizers aren’t just turning against their own principles; many are turning against fundamental norms of democracy. The constant rationalization has made them unrecognizable. Unlike the Republicans who were Trumpian even before Donald Trump, the rationalizers have forgotten that what they now believe they once made up.

So they will stick with Mr. Trump. No matter how damning the facts or clear the evidence, they will defend him.

For so many of them, the loyalty is, well, quite rational.

If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
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#14722 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2020-February-07, 19:36

From John Gans at NYT:

Dr. Gans is the author of “White House Warriors: How the National Security Council Transformed the American Way of War.”

Quote

On Friday, the White House announced that it was transferring Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who testified during the House impeachment hearings, out of the National Security Council. The move is unsettling, petty and vindictive. But it’s not a surprise: The dismissal is just one part of a campaign by the national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, to trumpify one of the most powerful and important institutions in government.

Over the last six months, while impeachment dominated the news, Mr. O’Brien undertook the first restructuring of the council in a generation. He cut 60 to 70 positions, about a third of the staff, many of them career professionals. He also directed that the National Security Council focus less on transnational issues like global economics and nonproliferation, and more on bilateral and geographic priorities. In all, Mr. O’Brien’s trumpification of the staff will hamper the United States’ ability to meet the world’s challenges, and hamstring the next president.

The staff of the National Security Council has evolved since its creation in the National Security Act of 1947, which sought to connect the various departments and agencies that together drive the nation’s foreign policy. At first, the staff served merely as administrative clerks to the principals on the National Security Council — the president, secretaries of state and defense and other leaders. According to its first director, the staff coordinated and integrated the “ideas in crisscrossing proposals” from around government.

But over the years, various presidents have coopted the council’s staff, which grew both bigger and more influential, especially after 9/11 — to the point where it not only distributes a meeting’s agenda, but sets the government’s.

Congress mostly indulged the presidents a “personal band of warriors,” as George W. Bush called the staff, to fight their fights in Washington. And agencies like the Pentagon and C.I.A. lent the White House almost a battalion’s worth of diplomats, intelligence analysts and career military officers like Colonel Vindman.

Mr. Trump inherited from Barack Obama the most powerful National Security Council in history. But the new president struggled to win over the hundreds of staff members who’d fought for the sorts of globalist policies — like trade deals and alliances — he had long opposed. Mr. Trump certainly tried to conquer the staff, naming a loyalist retired lieutenant general, Michael Flynn, as his first national security adviser and his nationalist adviser Steve Bannon to a high-level committee within it. The message was, as a Trump hire told one member of the staff, “The president doesn’t care about the things you care about, and the sooner that you know about it, the better.”

The public outcry over the resulting turmoil at the council — even the Hollywood celebrities Sarah Silverman and Judd Apatow tweeted their concerns — forced Mr. Trump to back down and bounce Mr. Flynn and Mr. Bannon (Mr. Flynn’s legal troubles helped ease his way out). But the fight continued in the council’s cipher-locked offices and classified memos. Mr. Trump’s loyalists on the staff attempted to spy on, scapegoat and smear their nonpolitical colleagues. Within a year of the inauguration, Mr. Trump was tweeting about a “deep state” working against him.

The dysfunction at the council, which Mr. Flynn’s successors H.R. McMaster and John Bolton failed to end, helped break the government. Congress’s impeachment hearings revealed the depth of the crisis: Mr. Trump used the staff and others to help shake Ukraine down for dirt on a political rival, while Colonel Vindman, the staff’s Ukraine point person, and the rest the council pursued a different policy altogether. Far from becoming Mr. Trump’s warriors, staff members like Colonel Vindman became witnesses against the president, exposing the sordid breakdown to Congress.

As the Ukraine inquiry and impeachment distracted everyone, Mr. Bolton’s replacement, Mr. O’Brien, decided to launch his own operation to transform the National Security Council after less than a month as its leader. He explained his aggressive job cuts were meant to reaffirm the staff’s traditional “mission to coordinate,” but that never added up. The cuts’ size and speed are instead deeply destabilizing to Washington. The timing and targets also smack of ulterior motives: A smaller staff mean fewer potential witnesses and fewer questions about Mr. Trump’s priorities.

More than simply ridding the staff of resistance to the president, Mr. O’Brien’s has locked Trumpism into the government’s bureaucratic hub. His restructuring prioritizes geographic policy (like, ironically, Ukraine policy) while cutting or combining teams in functional and transnational issues such as international economics, nonproliferation and global health. The council is now tailor made for a president who sees foreign policy in transactional, bilateral terms, as either decisions to make alone or deals to be cut with another head of state.

But a Trumpian National Security Council is a terrible fit for today’s world. The coronavirus emerging from China is just the latest proof of how rarely global events cooperate with presidential preference, and how often they spread across continents and policy disciplines. Mr. Trump may not believe the whole world is interconnected or that it requires whole-of-government policymaking, but that does not make it so. Nor does it mean he can combat a potential pandemic armed only with talking points for a phone call with China’s president. Challenges like coronavirus demand the sort of dot connecting that had once been the métier of the National Security Council, and is now lost in Washington.

At great risk to the country, Mr. Trump and Mr. O’Brien are finally winning the war at the council. But it’s the next president’s loss, and thus all of ours. Whoever replaces Mr. Trump will inherit a weaker and less worldly National Security Council, and learn the hard way it’s far easier to deconstruct a staff than rebuild one. As a result, even after Mr. Trump leaves the White House, Trumpism will continue to corrupt American foreign policy.

If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
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#14723 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2020-February-08, 05:29

From a conversation between James Carville and Sean Illing at Vox:

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Sean Illing - What’s the answer?

James Carville - By framing, repeating, and delivering a coherent, meaningful message that is relevant to people’s lives and having the political skill not to be sucked into every rabbit hole that somebody puts in front of you.

The Democratic Party is the party of African Americans. It’s becoming a party of educated suburbanites, particularly women. It’s the party of Latinos. We’re a party of immigrants. Most of the people aren’t into all this distracting sh#t about open borders and letting prisoners vote. They don’t care. They have lives to lead. They have kids. They have parents that are sick. That’s what we have to talk about. That’s all we should talk about.

It’s not that this stuff doesn’t matter. And it’s not that we shouldn’t talk about race. We have to talk about race. It’s about how you deliver and frame the message. I thought Cory Booker’s “baby bonds” plan was great and the kind of thing the party could connect to people’s actual lives.

We have one moral imperative here, and that’s beating Trump. Nothing else matters.

Illing - So your complaint is basically that the party has tacked too far to the left?

Carville - They’ve tacked off the damn radar screen. And look, I don’t consider myself a moderate or a centrist. I’m a liberal. But not everything has to be on the left-right continuum. I love Warren’s day care plan just like I love Booker’s baby bonds. That’s the kind of stuff our candidates should explain and define clearly and repeatedly for voters and not get diverted by whatever the hell is in the air that day.

Here’s another stupid thing: Democrats talking about free college tuition or debt forgiveness. I’m not here to debate the idea. What I can tell you is that people all over this country worked their way through school, sent their kids to school, paid off student loans. They don’t want to hear this sh#t. And you saw Warren confronted by an angry voter over this. It’s just not a winning message.

The real argument here is that some people think there’s a real yearning for a left-wing revolution in this country, and if we just appeal to the people who feel that, we’ll grow and excite them and we’ll win. But there’s a word a lot of people hate that I love: politics. It means building coalitions to win elections. It means sometimes having to sit back and listen to what people think and framing your message accordingly.

That’s all I care about. Right now the most important thing is getting this career criminal who’s stealing everything that isn’t nailed down out of the White House. We can’t do anything for anyone if we don’t start there and then acquire more power.

Can I say one more thing about the cultural disconnect?

Illing - Sure.

Carville - I want to give you an example of the problem here. A few weeks ago, Binyamin Appelbaum, an economics writer for the New York Times, posted a snarky tweet about how LSU canceled classes for the National Championship game. And then he said, do the “Warren/Sanders free public college proposals include LSU, or would it only apply to actual schools?”

You know how f#cking patronizing that is to people in the South or in the middle of the country? First, LSU has an unusually high graduation rate, but that’s not the point. It’s the ***** smugness. This is from a guy who lives in New York and serves on the Times editorial board and there’s not a single person he knows that doesn’t pat him on the back for that kind of tweet. He’s so f#cking smart.

Appelbaum doesn’t speak for the Democratic Party, but he does represent the urbanist mindset. We can’t win the Senate by looking down at people. The Democratic Party has to drive a narrative that doesn’t give off vapors that we’re smarter than everyone or culturally arrogant.

Illing - A lot of Democratic candidates don’t talk like that. Warren doesn’t talk like that. Sanders doesn’t talk like that. Buttigieg doesn’t talk like that. Cory Booker never talked like that.

Carville - Warren knows her stuff, and I’m particularly hard on her, because she was the star pupil, the one who was smart, had a good story. But I think she gets distracted and loses her core anti-corruption message, which resonates. With a lot of these candidates, their consultants are telling them, “If you doubt it, just go left. We got to get the nomination.”

And then Biden gets in and blocks out good candidates like Cory Booker or Michael Bennet or Steve Bullock by occupying this mainstream lane. There just isn’t enough oxygen and they couldn’t get any traction. But these are serious people, professional people, and they could’ve delivered a winning message.

Illing - Are you confident that any of the remaining candidates can beat Trump?

Carville - I don’t know, I just don’t know. I’m hoping that someone gets knocked off their horse on the road to Damascus.

Illing - Buttigieg seems to model the sort of candidate you think can win.

Carville - Mayor Pete has to demonstrate over the course of a campaign that he can excite and motivate arguably the most important constituents in the Democratic Party: African Americans. These voters are a hell of a lot more important than a bunch of 25-year-olds shouting everyone down on Twitter.

Illing - I take all your points about power and the Senate and the need to be a majoritarian party. I just wonder where the limits are, especially in this media ecosystem where even the best Democratic messaging gets deformed and bastardized in right-wing media and thus never reaches the people Democrats need to reach, or at least doesn’t reach enough of them.

Carville - I think the other side wants us to think there are no swing voters, that we’re doomed and it doesn’t even matter if you have a message because you can’t reach anyone. I think that’s bullshit. I think that’s a wholly incorrect view of American politics. But look, if no one’s persuadable, then let’s just have the revolution.

Falling into despair won’t help anyone, though. I mean, you can curse the darkness or you can light a candle. I’m getting a f#cking welding torch. Okay?

If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
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#14724 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2020-February-08, 07:44

View Posty66, on 2020-February-08, 05:29, said:

From a conversation between James Carville and Sean Illing at Vox:




Another very interesting selection. Thanks.

An amusement: At the beginning (above the part you copy) Illing says "A lightly edited transcript of our conversation follows." . Lightly edited indeed! We left in all the effing obscenity.
Not that I completely agree with him. But there is reason to worry.

Ken
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#14725 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2020-February-08, 09:07

Ross Douthat has an essay titled the Age of Decadence from his new book in todays NYT.

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Following in the footsteps of the great cultural critic Jacques Barzun, we can say that decadence refers to economic stagnation, institutional decay and cultural and intellectual exhaustion at a high level of material prosperity and technological development. Under decadence, Barzun wrote, “The forms of art as of life seem exhausted, the stages of development have been run through. Institutions function painfully. Repetition and frustration are the intolerable result.” He added, “When people accept futility and the absurd as normal, the culture is decadent.” And crucially, the stagnation is often a consequence of previous development: The decadent society is, by definition, a victim of its own success.

Note that this definition does not imply a definitive moral or aesthetic judgment. (“The term is not a slur,” Barzun wrote. “It is a technical label.”) A society that generates a lot of bad movies need not be decadent; a society that makes the same movies over and over again might be. A society run by the cruel and arrogant might not be decadent; a society where even the wise and good can’t legislate might be. A crime-ridden society isn’t necessarily decadent; a peaceable, aging, childless society beset by flares of nihilistic violence looks closer to our definition.

Nor does this definition imply that decadence is necessarily an overture to a catastrophe, in which Visigoths torch Manhattan or the coronavirus has dominion over all. History isn’t always a morality play, and decadence is a comfortable disease: The Chinese and Ottoman empires persisted for centuries under decadent conditions, and it was more than 400 years from Caligula to the actual fall of Rome.

“What fascinates and terrifies us about the Roman Empire is not that it finally went smash,” wrote W.H. Auden of that endless autumn, but rather that “it managed to last for four centuries without creativity, warmth, or hope.”

Whether we are waiting for Christians or barbarians, a renaissance or the Singularity, the dilemma that Auden described is now not Rome’s but ours.

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If we feel that elements of our own system are, shall we say, dystopia-ish — from the reality-television star in the White House to the addictive surveillance devices always in our hands; from the drugs and suicides in our hinterlands to the sterility of our rich cities — then it’s possible that an outsider would look at our decadence and judge it more severely still.

So decadence must be critiqued and resisted — not by fantasies of ennobling world wars, not by Tyler Durden from “Fight Club” planning to blow every Ikea living room sky-high, but by the hope that where there’s stability, there also might eventually be renewal, that decadence need not give way to collapse to be escaped, that the renaissance can happen without the misery of an intervening dark age.

Today we are just 50 years removed from the peak of human accomplishment and daring that put human beings on the moon, and all the ferment that surrounded it. The next renaissance will be necessarily different, but realism about our own situation should make us more inclined, not less, to look and hope for one — for the day when our culture feels more fruitful, our politics less futile and the frontiers that seem closed today are opened once again.

Dystopia-ish feels right. I like his definition of decadence and his insistence of the need to resist and critique it and his guarded optimism that where there’s stability, there also might eventually be renewal. Ditto for his description of our crucial task which is to make the most of our prosperous stagnation, live within limits, distribute resources more justly, use education to lift more people into the creative class, and do everything we can to help poorer countries become as successful as we are.
If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
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#14726 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2020-February-08, 13:48

What's next for Trump's post-acquittal purge - defenestration and Novichok? The ACE* of Trump

*American Caligula Era.
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter.
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#14727 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2020-February-10, 14:08

Alternet commentary:

Quote

A trumpbot is someone who simplifies and doubt-proofs their life by means of a simple robotic formula expressed with automatic, robotic confidence. Here’s the formula or algorithm could be programmed easily into a natural language AI program:


If it sounds good, it’s about me. If it sounds bad, it’s about my competitors.

To apply this formula, one need not attend to the meaning of words, only to their positive and negative connotations. For example, a trumpbot operating in a culture where “communist” or “capitalist” has positive connotations, will proudly declare that they are a communist or capitalist respectively. In a culture where “communist” or “capitalist” has negative connotations, a trumpbot will accuse his competition of being a communist or capitalist respectively.

What “communist,” “capitalist” or any word means is not only unimportant to the trumpbot; it is crucial that the trumpbot ignores all meaning. Their sole and absolute priority is robotic sorting – all positives to them, all negatives to threats to them. To pay attention to the meaning of terms would be a bug in the software. It would complicate the algorithm’s performance, and return the trumpbot to human fallibility.

A robotic, confident insistence is, however, important to trumpbots. It’s how they can convince non-trumpbots to attend to the meaning of the words as though the trumpbot cared. It’s also how they can wear opponents down and therefore declare another victory in their uninterrupted, infallible winning streak.

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter.
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#14728 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2020-February-10, 18:03

The latest Monmouth poll (Feb 6-9), which is rated A+ by 538, finds that Trump’s job rating stands at 44% approve and 50% disapprove, which is statistically indistinguishable from his 43%-52% rating last month. Over the past 12 months, Trump’s approval has ranged from 40% to 44% in Monmouth’s polling, while disapproval has ranged from 50% to 54%.

The latest Quinnipiac poll (Feb 6-9), which is rated B+ by 538, shows all of the top Democratic primary contenders beating Trump in the general election: Bloomberg +9 Sanders +8 Biden +7 Klobuchar +6 Buttigieg +4 Warren +4 based on a sample of 1,519 self-identified registered voters with a margin of sampling error of +/- 2.5 percentage points.
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#14729 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2020-February-10, 18:20

From Cameron Peters at Vox:

Quote

Israel runs into cybersecurity trouble with elections app

  • Days after the disastrous Iowa caucuses, Israel ran into election tech issues of its own — first reported on Sunday by Haaretz — after it was revealed that the personal information of nearly 6.5 million Israeli voters was leaked by the right-wing Likud party as a result of a faulty voter outreach app. [Haaretz / Ran Bar-Zik]
  • The leak exposed the addresses, full names, genders, and in some cases phone numbers of every eligible voter in Israel for easy download; it has raised fears of widespread identity theft or national security implications ahead of Israel’s upcoming parliamentary election. [NYT / Daniel Victor, Sheera Frenkel, and Isabel Kershner]
  • The vulnerability in the app has since been addressed, and the app’s security has been heightened, but it’s unclear how many people accessed the information before the flaw was repaired, and whether that data will be exploited. [AP / Ilan Ben Zion]
  • Israelis will go to the polls for the country’s third election in less than a year on March 2; the result will determine the political future of longtime Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who leads the Likud party and is under indictment on corruption charges. [BBC]

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#14730 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2020-February-11, 06:09

View Posty66, on 2020-February-10, 18:20, said:

From Cameron Peters at Vox:




I hope everyone is aware of hacking dangers. How could they not be? Hacking must be addressed.


That said, comparison with what happened in Iowa is off base. I don't think anyone is claiming that the caucus results were hacked or that the problems were due to some evildoers. It was old fashioned incompetence. Yes, modern technology was involved but, just as everyone knows about hacking, everyone knows that using an untested app in a large scale endeavor is asking for problems. Problems are what they got.

I await the news story that begins: Person X is the one whose name appears on the contract with Shadow, person Y (perhaps X=Y) is the person who was to test the app and organize its usage, and persons X and Y are now looking for work elsewhere.
Ken
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#14731 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2020-February-11, 08:11

Michael Gerson was a speech writer for W, he is conservative, he is religious. I read and, often, enjoy his column in the Post. Today he invoked a strained but amusing analogy for the D candidates.

Quote


There is a certain charisma that comes from preternatural talent. Following the French Revolution, some Frenchmen wanted the restoration of the old Bourbon monarchy — let's call them the Bidondines. Others wanted a more vigorous application of the revolution through the guillotine — let's call them Bernobins. But those who eventually supported Napoleon — the Butticidaires — were attracted to a man of destiny. (Let's forget, for the purposes of my metaphor, the roughly 5 million military and civilian deaths caused by the Napoleonic Wars.)


Full column here .
Ken
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#14732 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2020-February-11, 08:43

View Postkenberg, on 2020-February-11, 08:11, said:

Michael Gerson was a speech writer for W, he is conservative, he is religious. I read and, often, enjoy his column in the Post. Today he invoked a strained but amusing analogy for the D candidates.

[/font]

Full column here .


I guess Warren and Klobuchar were too hard of names to work with. B-)
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#14733 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2020-February-11, 09:39

View Posty66, on 2020-February-10, 18:03, said:

The latest Quinnipiac poll (Feb 6-9), which is rated B+ by 538, shows all of the top Democratic primary contenders beating Trump in the general election: Bloomberg +9 Sanders +8 Biden +7 Klobuchar +6 Buttigieg +4 Warren +4 based on a sample of 1,519 self-identified registered voters with a margin of sampling error of +/- 2.5 percentage points.

These predictions seem to be about the popular vote. Trump lost to Hillary by 2% in the popular vote, but won handily in the electoral college (not the biggest margin ever as he claimed, but still pretty big).

#14734 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2020-February-11, 10:02

View PostWinstonm, on 2020-February-11, 08:43, said:

I guess Warren and Klobuchar were too hard of names to work with. B-)

The Bethanots are basically a noisy sub-group of the Bernobins for the moment and the Bucharians are essentially irrelevant.
(-: Zel :-)

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#14735 User is offline   awm 

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Posted 2020-February-11, 10:41

Probably too much is made about the difference between Democratic candidates. Basically we are trying to answer a small number of questions:

1. Should we try to convince traditional “swing voters” who are truly undecided between the parties (Biden, Buttigieg, Klobuchar)? Or is it more effective to go after folks with generally liberal views who are disillusioned with politics and rarely vote (Sanders, Warren)? Can we rely on either of these groups being so disgusted by Trump that they will vote Dem regardless?

2. If we win the election, can we expect Republicans to bargain in good faith, especially if the president is an elder statesman with strong personal relationships across the aisle (Biden, maybe Klobuchar)? Or do we need to change the rules somehow to counter the Republican scorched earth tactics combined with their structural advantage in the Senate (Warren, Buttigieg, surprisingly not so much Sanders)?

3. Does it matter if our candidate is well over 70 and doesn’t draw big crowds?

The various policy differences won’t matter much in practice. Even Biden’s relatively moderate proposals will have trouble passing the Senate (even if Dems have a small majority), and Sanders/Warren’s medicare-for-all bills are pretty much DOA. It’s all just aspirational — should we “aim high” and try to get the youth vote out or “aim low” to avoid turning off the swing voters? Seems like either way could work, but in practice I doubt there will be much difference in government between Dems given the realities of the Senate and Supreme Court.
Adam W. Meyerson
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#14736 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2020-February-11, 11:32

re: the tradeoff between animating young voters and turning off swing voters -- this is the sweet spot Buttigieg has staked out for himself. Seems to be working.
If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
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#14737 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2020-February-11, 12:08

View Postbarmar, on 2020-February-11, 09:39, said:

These predictions seem to be about the popular vote. Trump lost to Hillary by 2% in the popular vote, but won handily in the electoral college (not the biggest margin ever as he claimed, but still pretty big).

Good point. I think they are intended to measure who has the best chance of beating Trump in November vs what will happen in the electoral college in November. For the electoral college scenario, Dems have to figure out how to get more Sanders' supporters and black voters to the polls in 2020 than they did in 2016 if they want to win. Can Buttigieg figure out how to do this? Maybe if he teams up with Corey Booker.
If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
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#14738 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2020-February-11, 16:38

For the swamp file via Tara Lachapelle at Bloomberg:

Quote

A U.S. judge has ruled in favor of T-Mobile US Inc.’s deal for Sprint Corp., joining President Donald Trump’s competition regulators in their perplexing move to approve a merger that has the potential to go down in history as among the most harmful to American consumers.

District Court Judge Victor Marrero issued his decision Tuesday morning, handing a surprise victory to T-Mobile and Sprint. News reports will call it a blow to the group of state attorneys general who brought the lawsuit to try to stop the merger, but it’s a bigger blow to wireless-phone customers. They may see plan prices creep up as a consequence of a more concentrated industry to be dominated by the new T-Mobile, AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc., even though the judge wasn’t convinced that would be the case.

The companies’ triumph comes as a shock to investors, who rightly saw all legal precedent and conventional wisdom about antitrust regulation pointing to the deal getting blocked. Indeed, previous government administrations did deem a T-Mobile-Sprint deal off limits for the same reasons. In recent weeks, shares of Sprint traded at a massive discount to the value of T-Mobile’s offer — some days a spread as wide as 80% — in a sign of traders’ apprehension about the deal’s fate. Sprint’s stock price shot up Tuesday on word of the ruling.

The deal will give T-Mobile a level of market power it’s never had by removing its fiercest and cut-rate competitor, Sprint. It effectively calls off the industry price wars that their own rivalry sparked in recent years. These skirmishes benefited consumers who were presented with affordable unlimited-data plans as smartphones became the center of communication.

In court, the state lawyers, led by Letitia James of New York, argued that allowing T-Mobile to buy Sprint would result in costlier service. “No, it won’t, just trust us,” was essentially the companies’ response, with T-Mobile CEO John Legere figuratively waving a 5G-embossed American flag in one hand, his other fingers crossed behind his back.

The companies pushed the notion that a combined T-Mobile-Sprint will be better-equipped to deliver the ultra-fast next generation of wireless networks to Americans, creating the illusion that without the deal, the country’s 5G ambitions would be somehow diminished. And yet the biggest beneficiary of this deal’s approval is a Japanese billionaire by the name of Masayoshi Son, whose telecommunications conglomerate, SoftBank Group Corp. of WeWork investment-disaster fame, is also Sprint’s controlling shareholder. Selling to T-Mobile bails him out of a bet gone wrong on the U.S. wireless market’s weakest player and instead hands him a stake in the fastest-growing player. (To be sure, the terms of the all-stock deal are likely to be renegotiated to account for Sprint’s shrinking value since the transaction was initially struck in April 2018.)

It all proved to be a persuasive enough argument for Ajit Pai, the chair of the Federal Communications Commission, and Makan Delrahim, the Department of Justice’s antitrust chief, who each approved the transaction in exchange for mild concessions. Both were appointed by Trump, who has been cheerleading for the U.S. to lead in the so-called 5G race, namely against China. The states emerged as an unusual last line of legal defense, and their defeat could embolden more companies operating as direct competitors in similarly highly concentrated industries to pursue tie-ups.

Ironically, the Trump administration this week asked Congress for more funds to expand its antitrust oversight. “Because God has a terrific sense of humor, yesterday was the day the DOJ announced it was adding 87 new staffers and a 71% budget increase for the antitrust division,” Blair Levin, a U.S. policy and regulation analyst for New Street Research, wrote in a report Tuesday morning. “Is it to deal with all the new cases that, based on this precedent, will now be viable?”

Regulators have placed incredible faith in Dish Network Corp. and its wily chairman, Charlie Ergen, to help maintain competition in the wireless market by putting the satellite-TV billionaire on the receiving end of T-Mobile and Sprint’s concessions. Dish, a wireless wannabe, will have access to T-Mobile’s network while it constructs its own using the spectrum licenses Ergen has stockpiled over the years. But Dish has a long way to go to ever fill the hole that Sprint will leave behind.

Some say Sprint would be gone soon anyway because of its financial distress, and therefore T-Mobile should be allowed to acquire it before Verizon and AT&T get to dance on its grave. But if the only options are a) allow a merger that makes the market leaders even more powerful, or b) block the merger, allow Sprint to die and open the door for concentration to happen another way, then that right there signals too much market power is already held in too few hands. It’s also hard to imagine that Sprint, a willing seller that has 42 million retail wireless subscribers and a boatload of valuable spectrum, wouldn’t attract other acquirers if a T-Mobile deal were blocked. Now we’ll never know.

When the FCC, DOJ and a federal judge all agree that a merger should get the A-OK, the decision may be presumed justified. But fascination with 5G and Dish’s maybe-someday entry doesn’t change this: reducing the market from four to three national carriers can’t possibly be good for consumers. As for Sprint shareholders, it's a good day to buy a lotto ticket.

If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
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#14739 User is offline   awm 

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Posted 2020-February-11, 16:42

View Posty66, on 2020-February-11, 11:32, said:

re: the tradeoff between animating young voters and turning off swing voters -- this is the sweet spot Buttigieg has staked out for himself. Seems to be working.


While one would think that the first millennial candidate would do well with young voters, Bernie Sanders has a commanding lead with the under 35 set (54% to Warren's 15% with Buttigieg and Biden down at 6%). Buttigieg actually does much better with older voters (latest poll). Apparently a lot of millennials feel that Buttigieg is one of these people obsessed with checking things off on a resume and don't see him as very "real" -- he does remind me a bit of the main character of the Politician. While he took a number of further left positions early in the primary, he has since moved quite a bit to the center.

If there's one thing this primary has shown, it's that black voters don't necessarily prefer a black candidate (they like Biden and Bloomberg while Cory Booker and Kamala Harris never really got any traction)... young voters don't necessarily prefer a young candidate (overwhelmingly for Sanders)... and female voters don't necessarily prefer a female candidate (Warren does better with women than with men, but she still polls behind Sanders and Biden -- and Klobuchar actually seems to do better with men than with women).
Adam W. Meyerson
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#14740 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2020-February-11, 19:05

Reagan beat Carter, and a lot of it was due to this:

Quote

Before the Bush administration, there were only three presidential terms in which the misery index rose at least 4 percentage points over a 12-month span. The first was in 1949-53, and the second in 1973-77. In each case, the incumbent party lost the following election.

The third was President Carter’s term, from 1977 to 1981, when the combination of soaring oil prices and recession caused the misery index to peak at 21.9 percent. Ronald Reagan famously asked voters, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” and defeated President Carter.
my emphasis

We now have to do the same thing with Trump. I think a great plan would be to take all his lying promises - repeat them - and then say, And what did you get? And the answer: Nothing!

Trump said you'd have better healthcare for less money. What did you get? Nothing.
Trump said you'd get manufacturing jobs. What did you get? Nothing.
Trump said he'd bring back coal mining jobs. What did you get? Nothing.

Trump is a blowhard who lies with promises but delivers nothing. Put him where he belongs - in the dump!

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter.
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