Saturday, April 30, 2016

Justice ?

Sanders Has Spent More Money Campaigning Than Others

Ask any Bernie Sanders supporter and they'll tell you that Bernie has received the most money in small donations directly to his campaign than Hillary Clinton (donations directly to a campaign cannot exceed $2700). It is not true. Both candidates have received an almost equal amount donated directly to their campaign -- with Clinton receiving slightly more ($186.7 million to $185.9 million. And more than 90% of that money donated to both the Clinton and Sanders campaigns was in amounts of less than $200.

So both the Democratic campaigns have millions of small donors contributing to them -- and both have received much more money from individuals donating directly to their campaigns than any of the Republican candidates -- with Cruz receiving $79.1 million, Trump receiving $$49.3, and Kasich receiving $16.6 million.

But while Sanders hasn't raised quite as much as Clinton is direct contributions, he has spent more -- about $10.5 million more ($157.8 million for Clinton to $168.3 million for Sanders). And both Democrats have spent more than any of their Republican opponents -- probably because they had raised a lot more money.

It seems that individual donors prefer Democrats (both Clinton and Sanders) over Republicans. But don't feel sorry for the Republicans. Once their nominee is final, you can expect many millions in dark money to be spent supporting their candidate -- corporate money, given in secret.

Sinking Ship

Political Cartoon is by Rob Rogers in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Public Views Democrats More Favorably Than Republicans

This chart should make Democrats smile a bit. It shows that the voting public looks more favorably on Democrats than Republicans by a 12 point margin (45% to 33%). And that favorable view holds across all demographic groups (gender, race, age) but one (Whites view them equally at 37%). And although I didn't include it in this chart, all education groups also favor Democrats (HS or less 42% to 36%, Some college 45% to 35%, College grad 47% to 25%, and Postgrad 56% to 26%).

Also significant in this survey was what the members of each party thought of their own party. While 88% of Democrats have a favorable view of their own party, only 68% (about two-thirds) of Republicans view their party favorably.

These numbers are from a new Pew Research Center survey -- done between April 12th and 19th of a random national sample of 2,008 adults, with a 2.5 point margin of error.

Skeptic Shock

Political Cartoon is by Ruben Bolling at Daily Kos.

Trump Is Wrong About Immigration

From Bloomberg Politics:

Donald Trump says a record number of undocumented immigrants are “pouring” over the U.S. border. The latest data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection suggests he’s wrong. Apprehensions at all U.S. borders, a proxy for undocumented immigration attempts, tumbled to about 337,000 in the 2015 budget year, the fewest since at least 2000, as the U.S. ramped up spending on fencing, ground surveillance and unmanned aircraft to more effectively catch potential violators.

Not Better

Political Cartoon is by Clay Jones at

Creating Terrorists

Friday, April 29, 2016

A Child Who Reads

Cowboys Use #4 Pick To Select Running Back Ezekiel Elliott

The Dallas Cowboys used their number 4 pick in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft to select Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott.

I was a bit surprised, because I think the Cowboys have more holes on defense than offense -- but Elliott seems to be the consensus best running back in this year's draft. If it takes us back to the type of run offense Dallas had with Emmitt Smith, then I won't complain. And that could happen, since Dallas has one of the best offensive lines in the NFL.

The pick of Elliott could also take some pressure off of quarterback Tony Romo, as defenses will have to respect the run now. And according to the sports pundits, Elliott is also an excellent blocker and pass receiver.

I think this might have been a very good pick -- and I'll like it even better if the Cowboys can get some defensive help in the second and third rounds.

(NOTE -- The "fashion-plate" picture of Elliott is from Newsday. The football photo of Elliott is from


Political Cartoon is by Nick Anderson in the Houston Chronicle.

Will Young Voters Abandon Clinton In November ?

It is no secret that a significant majority of young people (voters 18 to 29) have jumped on the Bernie Sanders bandwagon -- and their support of Sanders is passionate. But it is becoming very clear now that Sanders will not be the Democratic nominee. Hillary Clinton will be the nominee.

And social media is full of young people who are saying they will not vote for Clinton. The question is whether this is just a small minority of young voters, or represents the feelings of most of them. Could young people actually abandon Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party in November?

The answer, according to a new Harvard University Youth Poll, is NO. A huge majority of young voters will vote Democratic in November. That poll showed that 61% of young voters preferred the Democratic Party in this election, and only 33% preferred the Republican Party. That an even bigger majority than preferred the Democrats in the Spring of 2015 (when the percentages showed 55% for Democrats and 40% for Republicans).

The chart above, by Daily Kos using Harvard youth poll figures, represents the position of young voters in a Clinton versus Trump race. Note that overall, and in most groups of the young, the figures of those supporting Clinton are pretty overwhelming -- even better than the youth vote for Barack Obama in 2008 (which went overwhelmingly for Obama).

Young people are not stupid. They know this is a very important election. And in a Clinton - Trump race, they will be solidly behind Clinton.

NOTE -- This speaks well for the future of this country also. As political scientists have shown, most people tend to stick with the party they voted for in their youth.


Political Cartoon is by Stuart Carlson at

More Republican Voters Dislike Donald Trump Than Democratic Voters Who Dislike Hillary Clinton

It's looking very likely that the Republicans will nominate Donald Trump, and the Democrats will nominate Hillary Clinton. What happens if those are the nominees? Some in both parties are unhappy with that, and are saying they will not vote for the party's nominee.

The Rasmussen Poll did another survey to see which party might be hurt the most if these candidates are the nominees. The survey was done on April 25th and 26th of a random national sample of 1,000 likely voters, and has a margin of error of 3 points.

Their poll showed that about 25% of Democrats say right now that they would not vote for Clinton, while 31% of Republicans say they would not vote for Trump (and another 3% are unsure).

I believe that most of those people will eventually, if grudgingly, fall in line and vote for their party's nominee -- but it is clear that the Republicans have a bigger job to do in winning back voters than the Democrats have.

The Best He Could Do

Political Cartoon is by Mike Luckovich in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Ted Cruz - "Lucifer In The Flesh"

(Image is from Down With Tyranny.)

Ted Cruz has a small following among the most fundamentalist and bigoted evangelicals, but he is almost universally despised by his colleagues in Washington -- including his Republican colleagues. If you doubt that, just look at what former Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner had to say when asked about Cruz last Wednesday:

"Lucifer in the flesh. I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life."

A Match Made In . . .

Political Cartoon is by Steve Sack in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Protecting (Chinese) Jobs

Looking At The Delegate Math For Democrats

(These caricatures of Sanders and Clinton are by DonkeyHotey.)

Bernie Sanders has run a passionate (and many times negative) campaign, and he has done better than many people (including myself) ever thought he would. And I don't begrudge him continuing that campaign until Democrats in the last 10 states have voted. But, whether his supporters are ready to admit it or not, this race is over -- since he has no chance now to win enough delegates to get the nomination. Last Tuesday night made that a certainty.

Let's just look at the delegate math (from Bloomberg Politics):

Primary/Caucus Delegates

Total Delegates

Hillary Clinton has a 328 delegate lead among the delegates won in primaries and caucuses, having won 56% of those delegates -- while Bernie Sanders won 44%. And when you consider all the delegates pledged to the campaign, Hillary has 809 more delegates, having 61% -- while Sanders has 39%.

There are still 1246 delegates still to be allocated. Clinton just needs to win 219 (or 17.6%) of those delegates to reach the magic number of 2383 delegates. Bernie has an impossible mountain to climb -- needing 1028 (or 82.5%) of the remaining delegates. Is there anyone with half a brain who thinks Clinton can't get 17.6% of the remaining delegates, or that Sanders could get 82.5% of the remaining delegates?

I know that Bernie and his supporters are now pinning their hopes on convincing super delegates to change their minds at the convention. That's a false hope (though I realize it's all that's left now). Why would any super delegates change their mind? Hillary Clinton has won more states, more delegates, and more votes (about 3 million more) than Sanders. By supporting Clinton, those super delegates are just reflecting the will of the majority of voters in their party.

We've still got a little shouting to do before the final states vote, but Hillary Clinton is going to be the Democratic presidential nominee. And that's because a substantial majority of Democrats want her to be the nominee.

Helping The GOP

Political Cartoon is by Pat Bagley in the Salt Lake Tribune.

Clinton Smashes The Odious Sanders "Red State" Myth

A couple of weeks ago, Bernie Sanders said the Democratic nominating process was unfair because the primaries had a bunch of "red states" scheduled early, and that Clinton had gotten her lead in both votes and delegates in those red states.

His remark was stupid, and his followers carried it even further by inferring that Clinton could not win "blue states" (states likely to vote Democratic in November) -- and that Bernie should be the nominee (in spite of having fewer votes and delegates) because he did better in those "blue states".

This angered a lot of "red state" Democrats, because it inferred that they shouldn't have a voice in choosing the Democratic presidential nominee. These people don't seem to realize that those "red state" Democrats work as hard for the party (if not harder because of the obstacles they face) as any other Democrats -- and sometimes they are successful. The Bernie supporters putting forth this odious idea are quick to claim to support "one man - one vote", but seem to not want that in red states. Where's the fairness in that?

Fortunately, last Tuesday night, Hillary Clinton smashed that stupid "red state" myth. She won significant victories in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Delaware -- all "blue states". And when you add in the victories in other blue states (like New York, Massachusetts, and Illinois), it becomes clear that Clinton can win in either red or blue states -- and in purple states like Virginia and Ohio.

Hillary Clinton is going to be the Democratic presidential nominee -- and that is true because most Democrats (regardless of the color of their state) want her to be the nominee.

Clearance Sale

Political Cartoon is by Clay Bennett in the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Ted Cruz Exhibits His Desperation

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, one of the most disliked politicians in America, has chosen a vice-presidential running mate -- Carly Fiorina. I must admit that I was a bit surprised at the choice. She brings nothing to the campaign, being a loser in both business and politics. Why this choice?

I suppose it could be the old Republican idea that putting a woman on the ticket will make women forget all the anti-woman policies of the party (policies that are wholly supported by Cruz). This same tactic was used by John McCain, who chose a woman so stupid she can't make a coherent speech. I'll give Cruz some credit. The woman he chose can make a coherent speech (even though the point she is usually making is nonsensical).

Republicans don't seem to understand that picking a woman as a token doesn't fool female voters -- especially when those women are as incompetent as Palin or Fiorina. American women (and many men) would like to see more women in positions of power in this country, but they must be competent and intelligent women.

Frankly, I think Cruz just showed his desperation at realizing that whatever slim chance he had to be the GOp nominee was fast slipping away. He just wanted to do something to grab some attention. But what he did just emphasized that he makes poor decisions, and should never be president.

GOP View On Rights

Political Cartoon is by Adam Zyglis in The Buffalo News.


Wednesday, April 27, 2016


April 26th States Make Their Presidential Preference Known

Yesterday's five-state primary turned out to be a big night for Hillary Clinton, as she won four out of the five states. She won big in Delaware, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. She also won a closer victory in Connecticut. Bernie Sanders rather easily won Rhode Island.

Here are the results for each state:






But the important part of the night was what happened with the delegate totals. Here is how that stands, with some of Tuesday's delegates still to be determined (according to NBC News):

Primary/Caucus Delegates

Total Delegates

That means Hillary Clinton just needs to get 266 more delegates to win the nomination, while Bernie Sanders needs 1,053 more delegates. There are now 10 states left to vote (plus the District of Columbia, Virgin Islands, Guam, and Puerto Rico).


Political Cartoon is by Joel Pett in the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Should Democrats Worry About Non-Support From Sanders ?

The chart above is from The Washington Post concerning a new USA Today / Suffolk University Poll. It shows that currently only about 6 in 10 Sanders supporters say they would vote for Hillary Clinton if she wins the Democratic nomination. The others say they will vote for the GOP candidate, vote third party, or just stay at home. This has many Democrats worried -- and adding to that worry is the fact that Sanders seems to be recently saying that his support will depend on how much he can get from Clinton regarding the platform she will run on.

Should Democrats be worried about this? Would a "sore loser" intransigence from Sanders hurt Democrat's chance to win the White House? I say NO. Here are several reasons why I don't think this is worth worrying about.

1. The Republicans are more split than the Democrats are. And the chances of all Republicans unifying behind either Trump or Cruz is far less than the chance Democrats won't unify.

2. Despite what Sanders and his supporters claim, he and Clinton agree on most issues. There is very little chance the Democratic convention will come up with a platform that Sanders couldn't support.

3. This same thing was feared in 2008, when many supporters of Hillary Clinton said they would not vote for Barack Obama. It was about the same 40%. That didn't happen. When November rolled around, most of them came to their senses and realized they must vote to keep a Republican out of the White House. The same thing will happen this year.

4. Even if Sanders broke his promise to support the Democratic nominee (which I don't think he will), the Democrats have another powerful weapon to bring progressives on board -- Elizabeth Warren. The Massachusetts senator is perhaps even more popular with the progressive element in the Democratic Party than Bernie Sanders -- and was their first choice of candidates they wanted to run. Warren has been neutral during the primary season, but that will end once a nominee is chosen. She will fully support, and work hard for the Democratic nominee (Clinton) -- and she will bring most progressives back into the fold.

Will a few Sanders supporters vote third party or stay home in November? Probably. But it won't be enough to matter for the reasons I give above. It's not worth worrying about.

License To Complain

Political Cartoon is by John Cole in the Scranton Times-Tribune.

The Troubles Facing The Republican Party

(This caricature of the Republican elephant is by DonkeyHotey.)

The Republican Party faces a bigger crisis than just having to choose between two bad candidates. It also has a growing demographic problem, and finds itself on the wrong side of many issues these days. The following post is by Stuart Rothenberg in Roll Call. He does a very good job of laying out the GOP's dilemma.

Both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have glaring weaknesses as presidential nominees, but that’s only the beginning of the GOP's problems. Just as important, the current mix of top issues is simply terrible for Republicans in general and conservatives in particular.
The country moved noticeably to the right starting in the early 1980s with Ronald Reagan and continuing through the presidency of Bill Clinton (“The era of big government is over”) and even the first years of the George W. Bush administration.
That isn't to say that Republicans always got their way. But issues like taxes, welfare reform, crime, wasteful spending, and national security and foreign policy dominated the national debate. And that gave Republicans the upper hand with an electorate unhappy with President Jimmy Carter’s weak leadership, a Democratic Party held captive by organized labor, and a federal government that had been expanding since the Johnson administration.
Cultural issues also worked to the Republicans’ advantage as many Americans tired of the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s.
Even many Democrats demanded that their party become more pragmatic and responsive to the middle class, and the centrist Democratic Leadership Council aggressively criticized the party of George McGovern, Walter Mondale and Carter.
Today, the national debate sounds very different.
Corporate America is under assault, with income inequality and Wall Street getting more attention than jobs, wages or over-regulation. Many Americans seem hesitant to support a muscular U.S. foreign policy. Democrats are united on immigration reform and campaign finance, while the Republicans are conflicted or divided.
There was once a bipartisan consensus on free trade, but now a majority in the Democratic Party and a significant minority in the GOP oppose it. And politicians from both parties talk more about criminal justice reform than crime.
The debate over cultural issues has also changed over the past few years, fueled by changing attitudes among younger voters.
Not surprisingly, the Pew Research Center found last year that Americans are becoming less religious.
“The falloff in traditional religious beliefs and practices,” noted Pew, “coincides with changes in the religious composition of the U.S. public. A growing share of Americans are religiously unaffiliated, including some who self-identify as atheists or agnostics as well as many who describe their religion as ‘nothing in particular.’ Altogether, the religiously unaffiliated … now account for 23 percent of the adult population, up from 16 percent in 2007.”
The current issue mix strongly favors Democrats and suggests that the party will have momentum beyond the November election, assuming it retains the White House and wins a Senate majority.
This is odd given that a polarizing liberal Democrat is into his eighth year in the White House, and his party is poised to nominate an extremely damaged candidate to succeed him.
True, many of the GOP’s problems can be traced to the fact that Republican voters have been more interested in sending a message of frustration with the party’s current leadership than in selecting a nominee who could both keep the allegiance of the party faithful and attract new supporters.
But the Republicans’ problems go much deeper than their 2016 presidential nominee. The party has failed to dictate much of the national discussion despite opportunities on issues like terrorism, economic growth and government paternalism. Instead, it has preferred to argue with itself about policies, personalities and who is a real Republican.
If you are a Republican and want to blame the media for the party’s problems, go right ahead. But doing so doesn’t change the near-term reality or help the GOP frame the national debate.
None of this means that the Grand Old Party will become irrelevant next year or that the current issue mix will last. Issues come and go, and so will the current ones — though probably not until Hillary Clinton enacts part of her agenda and turns the Supreme Court considerably to the left.
The GOP could very well have a good 2018, since the midterm turnout will likely be more Republican than 2016's and midterms often offer a rebuke to the incumbent president’s party.
But Republicans have plenty of work to do to adapt to the new electorate and to the new issue mix, including looking beyond their own preferences to see what will sell nationally, among all voters.
Temper tantrums of the kind that we are seeing from GOP voters in 2016 may make the Republican rank-and-file feel good for the moment, but they aren’t a sign of seriousness or pragmatism in the adult world.

Tripping Up Trump

Political Cartoon is by Pat Bagley in the Salt Lake Tribune.

The Divider

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Fox News

Americans Don't Like Extremists From The Left Or The Right

 Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz are extremists. Their supporters don't like that label, but that doesn't mean it's not true.

Sanders is an extremist of the left, while Cruz is an extremist of the right. Both of them (and their supporters) are convinced that a majority of Americans would agree with their extremist views -- if only the media would help them get their message out. They are both wrong.

There has been plenty enough media coverage of both for the American public to know where they stand on the issues. Americans now know who these candidates are and what they believe. They just don't want what these men are selling.

It is just a fact that the great bulk of American voters are moderates. Extremism scares them -- whether it comes from the right or the left. The country moves slightly to the left or the right at different times, and after a few presidencies, tends to move the other way. But they almost always reject overwhelmingly a candidate of either party that is too extreme. Just look at what happened to Barry Goldwater or George McGovern. Both were viewed as extremists, and both were soundly defeated.

This does not mean that American voters don't want change. They do. They just don't want extreme change. They don't want to upset the apple-cart -- just make that cart a bit better. They understand that the system is out of whack right now, and has been tilted to favor the rich -- but they also understand that the system has been good for this country, and can be made fairer without radical changes. Americans want their change to come in steps, with each step being evaluated before moving to the next. That may not make the extremists in either party happy, but it is the way things are in this country.

And it is not just the general public that feels this way. Note that neither Sanders nor Cruz have been able to outright win the nomination of their respective political parties. The Democratic Party is not an extremist party of the left. It is a moderately progressive party. And while the Republican Party is solidly a right-wing party, it is not an extremist far-right party. That's why both parties have rejected their most extreme candidates (Sanders and Cruz).

This is not to say that Sanders and Cruz don't have their supporters. They do, and those supporters are passionate about their candidate. But those supporters are a minority, and they need to realize that now that the presidential campaigns are winding down. I don't know if they'll stick with the party of their chosen candidate, or vote third party or stay at home on election day. I just know that the American people, as a whole, will vote for the candidate who best represents moderate change in November.

(NOTE -- The caricatures of Sanders and Cruz above are by DonkeyHotey.)

Unifier ?

Political Cartoon is by nick Anderson in the Houston Chronicle.

PPP Survey - Connecticut, Maryland, Pennsylvania, R. Island

Public Policy Polling has released its final surveys of four of the states voting today in Democratic primaries -- Maryland, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. Their numbers, except for Maryland, look a little better for Sanders than some previous polls have shown. They have him four points ahead in Rhode Island, two points behind in Connecticut, and ten points down in Pennsylvania.

That means Sanders could win Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Delaware (which has not been polled). But the victories, if they happen, would just be moral victories -- and he needs to do much better than that. The truth is that to have a shot at the nomination, he needs to win 70% of the delegates in the remaining states -- and he will come far from doing that in any of the April 26th states.

Today's voting will just get Clinton closer to the Democratic nomination, and make it much harder for Sanders to compete.

Taxation W/O Representation

Political Cartoon is by Signe Wilkinson in the Philadelphia Daily News.

Job Approval - President Obama And Congress

This chart is from a Gallup Poll just released. It shows the job approval of the president versus that of Congress. Note that the presidential approval is currently about 34 points higher than congressional approval (49% to 15%). Congressional approval has been pretty bad for a while now, and after the GOP seized control in 2010, it got even worse (and has not rebounded at all).


Obama's job approval ratings reviewed in this article are based on annual aggregates of data from the Gallup U.S. Daily tracking survey. The aggregates include roughly 150,000 interviews each year with a random sample of adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, interviewed by landline and cellular telephone. For annual results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.
Congressional approval and U.S. satisfaction results are based on combined data from Gallup's monthly Gallup Poll Social Series surveys. These aggregates generally include at least 12,000 interviews each year with a random sample of adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, interviewed by landline and cellular telephone. For annual results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Civic Duty

Political Cartoon is by Mike Stanfill at


Monday, April 25, 2016

Damaging Ignorance

Bernie Is Wrong About Why He Is Losing

(This photo of Bernie Sanders is from


Sen. Bernie Sanders has built his campaign on a message of combating income inequality, but that message doesn't seem to be resonating in many of the states with the country's highest levels of income inequality. 
Of the 25 states with the highest levels, 17 have held primaries so far — and Hillary Clinton has won 16 of those contests. 
When asked why he thinks he's losing in those states, Sanders responded, "Well, because poor people don't vote. I mean, that's just a fact."
Bernie Sanders is just wrong. While it may be a fact that poor people don't vote in as large a percentage as some other demographic groups, many of them do vote. And they vote their conscience, just like other people do.

Sanders seems to have the impression that all poor people would prefer him to be president -- that he is some kind of savior for the poor. That's just nonsense, and more than a bit narcissistic. He does not own the votes of poor Americans. In fact, most Democrats earning less than $50,000 a year support Hillary Clinton (from a recent CNN poll).

The poor are not stupid, and no politician (including Sanders) owns their votes. Most of them know that they would be better off if a Democrat stays in the White House, and they are fully capable of choosing which Democrat that should be.

Sanders doesn't want to admit the real reason that he is losing. It is simply that the huge majority of Democrats prefer Hillary Clinton to be their nominee -- at this time about three million more than for Sanders. That's a huge difference in voters, and it is very likely to grow even larger after the April 26th states have voted. Poor people are not to blame, and Sanders should be ashamed of himself for saying they are.

Thinking Hate

Political Cartoon is by Andy Marlette in the Pensacola News-Journal.

The Shattered Statue

(This cartoon image is by Dave Granlund at

More from Jim:

Again a hat tip to my wife for being my editor, copyeditor, proofreader, and sometimes almost translator.  I mention it because it is only fair to say she doesn’t entirely agree with me about Bernie.  Not that she supports him, just that she feels he is entirely sincere, but so arrogant that the arrogance becomes self-defeating.  I am still trying to decide if I can credit the level of both arrogance and naivete this would require.  But I am literally making up my mind – and changing it – as I write.

Similarly, I am being given this opportunity by Ted.  But I am my own, eccentric self, and my opinions are mine and not his.  I cannot always assume he agrees with me, and certainly no reader should blame my opinions on him. 

And this piece is not quite working out as I planned it.  So many additional pieces of metal keep getting added to the pile of scrap with every news cycle.  Even now, as I type, the Sunday morning talking heads are certainly making punditry that needs discussion – or, for some of them, a suitably loud horse laugh.  I had mentioned I would discuss some recent ‘thunks’ as the chunks of gilded tin fell off the once revered statue of Bernie in the ‘backyard of my mind.’  But by now so many pieces have been scattered on the ground that the statue is as bare as the metaphor has become. 
So this will be a general column, covering many of Bernie’s problems, particularly the most egregious and absurd of them, including his violations of what is supposed to be his ‘creed’ and what I feel are actual abuses of his followers, abuses that could drive them from politics entirely. 

Then, next time, after the rubble – and the metaphor – is carted away, maybe we can at least be able to argue about whatever turns out to have been inside.]
We have to start with what was the most important single moment of the electoral year so far.  It was the night when FOX hosted a Town Hall for the Democrats – but this is a rare case of FOX not being responsible for roiling the waters.  (Bret Baier is no Shep Smith, FOX’s token nod to journalism and integrity, but he frequently shows at least a passing acquaintance with a distant relative of the truth.)

Bernie’s interview had been concluded and he was already leaving the stage when Baier asked him a final question: 

“Senator Sanders, do you think Secretary Clinton is honest and trustworthy?” 

Until then, despite some disputes, both Democrats had run reasonably fair campaigns, respectful, on point and about the issues.

Certainly some Sanders supporters had managed, already, to drag the campaign into the slush-grimed gutters.  For some of them, the point was to condemn Hillary, usually winding up with some ‘charmingly’ misogynistic comment – maybe banking it off the bumpers so it could include a slam at an ethnic group before the 8-ball reached the pocket.  [Prup – never metaphor he didn’t like.]  Supporting Bernie almost seemed secondary, and if they were challenged on one of his positions, they’d declare that didn’t matter as much as defeating the ********.

Hillary supporters were, some of us, getting a little dubious, and the more the acolytes raged, the more we decided to look closely at their candidate.  But even then most of us were in the ‘we have two great candidates, I prefer Hillary but would be glad to take either one’ stage.  At worst it was “I couldn’t vote for him because I’m not sure he could do what he promises, but I admire Bernie’s honesty, integrity, and devotion to his causes.”

And all the time the shadows of Trump and Cruz loomed over the polling places and we remembered the past sculptures the Republican Mud Machine created – once ‘pink slime was banned from human consumption, you had to do something with it.  So along came the ugly, warped statues, from Vince Foster to birtherism, to swiftboating, to Bill Ayers.  (I could have added two dozen more, especially from the folks who see ISIS and Mexicans as obvious allies.

Trump and Cruz should have been the ultimate peacemakers, the 21stCentury equivalent of MAD – Mutual Assured Destruction.  We could, did, and should’ve disagreed between ourselves on a lot of things.  That’s one of the benefits of being a liberal, not having a ‘party line’ even with the set of values -- honesty, equality, economics that works for all sectors, anti-bigotry, education and infrastructure over lower taxes, regulation of dangerous products and workplaces and respect for both law and justice – and the others that most liberals agree on.

We could disagree, but we couldn’t attack each other.  Any personal attack, any argument that went beyond ‘we disagree on that area, perhaps the other showed weak judgment, maybe his/her position looked worse than it was.  But we are still going the same direction’ risked triggering the explosion, risked weakening us enough that we’d lose time, money – and, of course, down-ballot votes -- dealing with a condemnation from our own side.

The Republicans were waiting for the chance to grab an attack, plant it, and wait until it sprouted poisonous tendrils before they fed it back to us.  We had to take the high road. 

And it was more than handing them quotes from our candidates they could use.  Our high-road, issue-oriented debates sharpened the contrast between us who cared about issues and governing and the circus in the opposite party.
Then Baier asked the question…

…And Bernie answered it.

It was Bernie’s big test.  He had several possible responses.  The most honest and accurate would have been: “She has been in public life as long as I have, there have been investigations into her about every part of her life, there have been new, phony scandals concocted about her every year, she has been accused of everything from poor billing practices to murder and drug running, people have lied about what she said and did concerning Benghazi, not to mention those damned e-mails where she did precisely what Colin Powell and Condolezza Rice have done.  And every single investigation has shown her to be innocent of whatever it was she had been charged with.  Do I think her judgement has always been good?  No.  Do I think she has made herself vulnerable to pressure and questioning because of her bank and other connections?  Yes.  Do I think, do I know from years of working with and against her, that she is honest and trustworthy?  Absolutely.”

But he didn’t have to go that far.  He could have been modest, admit fallibility.  “Compared to who?  Neither of us are saints, we both sometimes push the edge a little, exaggerate a bit, pick the version of a story that makes us look better,  That’s the sort of thing anyone can slip into doing.  But compared to our Republican opponents – including those that dropped out, but specifically in comparison to Mr. Trump and Senator Cruz – our honesty shines like the beacon in a mile-high lighthouse.” 

Or, simply, “Yes.”

Even “Yes, for the most part.” would have been an ‘acceptable’ answer.
But Bernie said “We’ll let the voters decide about that,” and the dampness and mud on his boots came straight from the bed of the river Rubicon.

Maybe he could have lessened the consequences if he’d acted with unaccustomed speed – and humility.  The words were out, on tape, and they would be shown a thousand times if Hillary won the nomination.  But he could have, even the next day, pointed out how long a day it had been, and explained that ‘what I said about Hillary is true,  It is the sort of question for the voters to decide, about both of us, but there’s no question that, compared to any of our possible opponents…’

He didn’t.  If anything, he and his spokespeople doubled down on the original statement.  And that meant that Bernie was betting he could win it all, and was determined to do so, whatever damage he might cause in the meantime.  Not just damage to Hillary, but to the entire Progressive cause he proclaimed so loudly.

This was not a minor matter.  It seemed such, but only because of the Junior High Smack Talking Contest from the other party.  But I have searched my memory of all the other Presidential contests our party has lived through, and my historical memory of all the others since the beginning of the Twentieth Century, and can think of no case where this type of attack was made on one Democrat by another.  (Perhaps in 1968, against Humphrey, but if anyone has any other examples, please let me know.)

There has been plenty of bad blood and animosity between candidates, Along with the ordinary political challenges about experience, wisdom, and general policy and on how liberal they were, candidates have been accused of weakness (Muskie’s tears), immaturity (Dean’s ‘Yee-Haw!’), feelings of ‘entitlement’ due to family (Ted Kennedy before Hillary).  They have attacked each other over the eccentricities of their relatives (Remember Billy Beer?), and even for their religion (Kennedy and Al Smith).  And opposing candidates were always fair game for both sides. But even in the twenties, in which all three conventions had to wrestle with the attitude of the Party to the KKK, no Democratic candidate in over a hundred years has ever accused another of corruption, dishonesty, or (implied) hypocrisy in the way that the Sanders campaign – and, with that one sentence, the candidate -- has.

His more rabid supporters were already making the same claim, usually with a misogynistic noun added.  They were probably lost causes to begin with, but there were less toxic supporters who had their own doubts – after 25 years of Republican attacks, it is easy to say ‘so much smoke, there has to be a fire somewhere.’  How, when he loses, is Bernie going to reach out to them, or to anyone, and ask them to vote for her?

For that matter, he has condemned the whole political system as corrupt and shares Donald Trump’s certainty that it is rigged, and his ungracious way of losing is likely to add to the certainty expressed by his noisier supporters.  Some of them might not have voted for Hillary in any circumstances, but, were they seeing clearly, they’d at least see the opportunities we had to regain the Senate – which we needed to have any chance of moving SCOTUS in our direction – and that we could even wind up with a Democratic House that would spend time governing, instead of repeatedly ‘repealing’ the ACA in a scene worthy of the finest Kabuki entourage. 

And but what is worse, in the long range, is that when another, more honest and serious, candidate reaches out to touch their idealism, it will be so sore and bruised by what (they were told) they had experienced that it would be too painfully sensitive to be touched.  And they’d become lost in the statistics of non-voters. 

(There is a delicious flavor of irony, for us gourmets of the stuff.  If Hillary were not the pragmatist, the political animal her opponents condemn her for being, when Bernie comes to the convention, asking for some form of tribute for the votes he acquired  she would answer him appropriately – maybe borrowing one of his more abusive acolytes to help her with the speech.  “What?  You want to be rewarded for costing the party votes, potentially even states, for spreading lies against me, for turning maybe hundreds of thousands of voters who share the ideals we both do, away from this most vital of elections?  You have already made it harder for us to replace Justice Scalia, or to fill any other vacancies on SCOTUS and in the lower courts, lessened the chance of state legislatures stopping these horrible bills on voter restriction, Medicaid reduction, LGBTQ matters.  And you want us to reward or bribe you?...”  And that’s when the fine craftsmanlike use of obscenity, profanity and scorn that seems to be the only thing some of Bernie’s supporters have brought to the campaign comes into play as the only appropriate response.

(But Hillary is a politician, a better one than she claims to be, and she ‘knows the rules.’  She’s also a Clinton, and they have a problem in judgment that frequently keeps them loyal to someone who has claimed to be a friend far beyond the point they’ve shown themselves to be dangerous – DWS, Dick Morris, David Gergen, even Terry McCauliffe.  So she’ll be gracious and generous to this ungracious and dangerously deluded – at best – and uncontrollable bomb thrower, even though she knows kind words towards this ‘wildman of a Democratic Socialist’ will be used against her in speech after speech.

(And, another flavor of irony is that of anyone in the country, Hillary knows Bernie’s weaknesses.  She’s done he opposition research and know how easily it would have been to destroy the Sanders campaign – without even needing the Republican flair for lies.  The “Ortega Tape” and the ‘dark satire’ that looks more like simple rape porn would have been enough.)

          And it has only gone on from there, even as the losses, the ethnic and gender disparities, the difficulties with primaries instead of caucuses, and the certainty of defeat grew ever bigger,   A prominent surrogate, a black state legislator who has been debating with Barney Frank on MSNBC – I think her last name is Turner, and *blush* I am not sure if the first name is Mona argues that even if Bernie loses, Hillary would have to ‘earn’ their votes.  (No word as to how much NOT being the candidate supported by every major White Nationalist helps, or being the only defender of women’s health needs, of sane economics, of education and infrastructure counts with that.)

          And the same campaign that had condemned – as the Ultimate example of the Establishment foiling the democratic will and voted of the people -- the idea of trying to win the nomination by getting SuperDelegates to switch candidates based on electability began saying they would do just that, guaranteeing the mudbaths would continue beyond California to Cleveland and keep distracting her from making headway against the real enemy.

          Now he is making a play to get his ideas into the platform.  No surprise there. An intelligent 11th Grade Civics class would have predicted that.  But Bernie – that ‘nice old man’ -- has his own twist.  Ordinarily a candidate would withdraw, but state some specifics he wanted in the platform, his delegates on the Committee would work for them, and would get most of what he wanted.  Meanwhile, the candidate would be working hard to defend the winner and see that she and their mutual party – won the election.

          Not Sen. Sanders, who seems to be saying that he’ll keep fighting, not just to California – that’s reasonable, to give his supporters a chance to vote for him – but until the convention.  Then he’ll look at the platform, and if it meets his standards, he’ll ‘consider’ asking his supporters to vote for Hillary.  Not urge them, not suggest it is as important to vote for Congressional candidates, but at least suggest they vote for Hillary.

          Over Donald Trump.

         ‘But who am I to tell people what to do?”  That was his response, as he runs for an office that, by his view of it, consists of nothing but ‘telling people what to do.’

          Doesn’t Bernie realize how this makes him sound, when the real enemy is a man with no experience, with the support of neo-Nazis and White Nationalists and anti-Mexicans and anti-Muslims, along with his other delusional supporters, and beyond them, the collection of religious cranks, bigots, fools, Laffer-curve worshippers, climate change deniers, and collectors of only the finest conspiracy theories that makes up today’s Republican Party?

          How does what Bernie is doing differ from someone who chooses to attempt to block a free shipment of trucks filled with water to Flint, because he decides he doesn’t like the way the gifting company treats its employees?

          Bernie has raised this fervently, passionately devoted ‘revolutionary army.’  They follow him, they tout his praises – often in the most – er, shall we say ‘pungent’ – way.  No, it isn’t as large as he claims, or as inclusive, but it is still an amazing force that could accomplish some important good – and by doing so, boost Bernie as well.  Think about it, twenty Bernie volunteers from every state, wearing Bernie shirts, delivering water in Flint,  Or groups of Bernie supporters going into the states where voting rights are being restricted, and running a registration campaign, if necessary, walking the person through each step, driving wherever necessary to get the right documents.  (Bernie’s the veteran of the Civil Rights Movement, you’d think he would have thought of that.)  Or pick the twenty most underfunded school systems, get ten volunteers per state, and have them open a free tutoring service through the summer for those students.

          There are lots of openings for just the sort of things this type of eager young person can do.  Surely he can think of some way they could be used against the ‘bathroom bills’ or think of some way they can inspire people to do something about the attacks on abortion rights, and what about male employees publicly splitting their paychecks with women in the same job who are paid less.

          (All of these are things Hillary should consider doing as well, of course, but she has never thought of her followers as an ‘army.’)

          It’s funny, but Bernie Sanders has all these people who he tells, “Listen to my speeches, vote, and most of all send in your contribution of $27 and wondrous changes will begin happening in your life, colleges will open to you, your paychecks will grow, all with just your help and most of all your faith in me.”

          Now where have I heard that before?  Oh, yeah.  Just change ‘vote’ to ‘pray,’ call the speeches ‘sermons,’ maybe change the amount of the ‘free will offering’ and throw in some Bible verses and it becomes the speech of the Reverend Ike, or any other preacher of the ‘Prosperity Gospel.’

          I was going to go into even more detail, but I’ll spare you that.  Tthere are limits, and this is just Part 2.  But two things, one hilarious, one as sad as it is sickening will end this.

          The first was Bernie’s attempt to pull a Kim Davis on the Pope.  They used the same basic scheme.  Get invited to a function at Vatican City – Bernie even got to make a speech, and chose has standard one despite the different topic of the meeting.  Ignore Vatican attempts to uninvite you (they tried to schedule Bernie at a time he couldn’t make because of the debate).  Then wangle a picture with the Pope and claim it was evidence of his supporting you.

          This time the Pope was ready.  "When I came down, I greeted them, shook their hands and nothing more. This is good manners. It's called good manners and not getting mixed up in politics. If anyone thinks that greeting someone means getting involved in politics, they should see a psychiatrist," the pope said.

          Finally, for now, and sadly…

          Tonight I read the statement that Hillary is winning because ‘poor people don’t vote.’  When a black blogger had suggested that Bernie would wind up throwing blacks under the bus to win working class white votes, I argued against him strenuously, insisting that ‘Bernie didn’t see colors, it was just that his economic determinism blinded him to the distinct existence of racism.’  Even when it was ‘the South doesn’t count’ but places like Idaho, Wyoming, Alaska did, that was just the campaign talking, not Bernie.

          But this, and my friend was right.  It isn’t that Bernie doesn’t see colors.  Sadly, it looks more and more like he doesn’t see ‘colored people.’  (And have you ever seen him be the first to bring up immigration as an issue if he isn’t challenged on it?  That one may be just my memory.)

          So next column will try and take a hard look at Bernie Sanders’ Progressivism, to try and understand whether it is just blind arrogance and self-defeating grasping of the ‘both parties are alike’ meme that makes him so ineffectual, or if there is something else.

          I have no idea if I will be able to make sense of it, but I have to try.

Jim "Prup" Benton