Left and Right versus the press

It wasn’t so long ago that Bernie Sanders supporters hated the press, and Bernie held events that the press was barred from. Much of Bernie’s own stump speech railed against the media. He wanted reform. His first big event after conceding a discussion of how to change the nature of mass media in America. He said instead of a media like we have now–which he insisted was entirely corporate, all of it–we need to have a network run by the Democratic Party to promote a progressive agenda. He wanted a progressive Fox News. Trump wanted, and got, Breitbart. Both Bernie and Trump ran against the media. It’s just that Trump was elected. What you are seeing now is what happens when a campaign that ran on an anti-media platform wins the presidency. The antipathy toward the press in America is equally strong on both ends of the political spectrum. Most people prefer to read or hear only what they agree with, a tendency that has been reinforced by Facebook, where people do not like to see opinions they don’t agree with. Probably at least half the population of the U.S., perhaps a lot more, would support some sort of restrictions on the freedom of the press in this country. It’s just that since Trump is the one in the White House, progressives suddenly love the independent press again. But that creepy totalitarian streak when it comes to the news is not far beneath the American surface, and should another progressive candidate with so little regard for a free media come along like Bernie Sanders (left over from his hard left days, where Marxists cannot abide a free press), then you could have both Democrats and Republicans running against the media, and our tradition of a free press could be in serious jeopardy. Of course, that is a tradition that neither Trump and the alt-right nor most Progressives are particularly attached to.

I think when it comes to Donald Trump on the media, the progressives of America are looking at a hideous, distorted funhouse mirror reflection of their own attitudes toward the media and the First Amendment not too long ago.

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Brokered convention

(Predictions for the nomination races written in early December, 2015)

The last time the GOP had a brokered convention was 1976, when the delegate count was so close a credentials vote–over whether Mississippi’s Ford or Reagan slate of delegates would be seated–was required to break the impasse. Ford’s slate won the vote, but just barely, and he was renominated. But the damage was done and Carter won that year. It was the last gasp of the old Eisenhower GOP, by 1980 Reagan conservatives, embittered by their loss at the 1976 convention, swept the party and convention and the liberal wing (that had been so essential in getting Civil Rights, social security, welfare and environmental laws passed over the objections of Southern Democrats–all of whom are Republicans now) ceased to be. The moderate Republicans clung on longer but are mostly gone. By now the GOP seems split between conservatives and flat out crazy conservatives. So brokered conventions seem to have lasting consequences. The last time the Democrats came close to a brokered convention was 1968 and the repercussions followed into 1972, when the left, furious at the treatment in Chicago in 1968 (tear gassed, among other things), gamed the process and got McGovern nominated. Alas, he was no Ronald Reagan as far as vote getting went, instead he was our Barry Goldwater.

So what does all this mean? Well, the odds of a brokered Democratic convention are near nil, Bernie will be beat solidly and early in the primaries. [Ha! Now there’s a prediction…. Yet Bernie was, actually, he was stomped on early and regularly thereafter, but no one knew in 2015 that he’d be able to raise 200 million dollars online and keep indefatigably pressing on, if never catching up, till the bitter end, and making an exciting and ideologically passionate race of what most of us political junkies thought back then was sure to be a snoozer. But I digress….] And the chances of a brokered Republican convention? Maybe, maybe not. Yet with Trump and now Carson both going mad dog and threatening to bolt the party should it appear there is a party establishment effort to block them, the results for the GOP are dire at best. Right now they are more interested in saving the party–the old Reagan GOP, this time–from being seized by crazed Trump revolutionaries. After all, Reagan’s people had seized the party the same way in 1980, and they know what it means for the old order. But the GOP has been riding Trump’s crazy beast for years now, kissing Rush Limbaugh’s ass and giving in to the extreme right at every opportunity, now suddenly and inexplicably it has turned on them. The GOP had thought all along they could control the reins and there was no danger of anyone Rush Limbaugh-like could ever have a shot at the nomination. But Trump has proven them wrong. There are more Republicans now who think of Trump as one of them than there are not. And if there’s anything a typical Republican hates it’s a RINO (Republican In Name Only), and suddenly all these Trump loving Republican voters consider the party itself to be RINO. As the race develops these next couple months the only thing a Trump voter will hate more than Moslems is another Republican.

Well, maybe. It’s early, and we have no idea what will happen. But keep you eye on Super Tuesday, that is March 1. There are a dozen primaries and caucuses that day, including Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. If Trump is as popular with Republican voters in those southern and/or Bible Belt states as he is right now in South Carolina (which votes a week earlier), then he could well sweep them all. Toss in some of the other states that day and Trump will come out of Super Tuesday with a juggernaut, and he can pile on southern states Kentucky and Louisiana on March 5, Mississippi on March 8, and three of the five states in the March 15 primary Florida, North Carolina and Missouri. By that date, almost every state south of the Mason-Dixon line has voted in a presidential primary. The north and west dominate the next two months, not that it matters much. Candidates who sweep the south tend to win the nomination, as every single southern state has their primary in the first six weeks of the primary a schedule. It’s one of the ways that southerners control the Republican nomination process, and it’s one of the ways that the Republicans have been driven so far to the right. Trump knows this, and has positioned himself to sweep those nativist southern republicans voters off their feet. The more he yells about Muslims, the more they love him down there.

And once he nails every one of those states–as he probably will–there might well be nothing left to stop him but back room deals at a brokered convention. Provided there are other candidates who have won enough delegates to keep Trump from coming into the convention with enough to win the nomination outright. And then there’s this…”a new Republican National Committee rule that requires any GOP nominee win a majority of delegates from eight different states”. Which guarantees a mad scramble as candidates beg other candidates to withdraw and release their hard won delegates to them. Imagine the promises made during those conversations. It’s impossible to figure out ahead of time how many delegates a candidate will get…each state has their own method of allotting them. Even if Trump wins every state I mentioned it does not mean he gets all the delegates. He’ll get most, but not all. But somebody besides Trump will have to win at least eight primaries and have access to enough delegates to keep Trump from winning the nomination before the convention even convenes. Not only to stay in contention, but to keep Trump from winning the number of delegates he needs before the primaries are even over. As it looks now, Trump doing just that is a likely scenario. If there are any more attacks like in San Bernardino, that likelihood becomes all the more certain.

But here is the Republican establishment hope: that the anti-Trump vote in the Republican primary is high enough so that he did not quite get the number he needs for the nomination, and that those anti-Trump delegates would do anything but vote for Donald Trump, and that one candidate besides Trump manages to win a minimum of eight states. Those are high hopes, but they are feasible. Then (and only then) is there a possibility of a brokered convention. Of course that also means Donald Trump very likely storming off in a huff and announcing a third party bid, and of the Republican Party, at least at a presidential level, flushing itself down the toilet. They might even lose Congress.

But what the hell, they got the state legislatures and governorships sewn up. We handed the states over to the GOP and have paid for it ever since. So even the worst possible outcome for the GOP in 2016–a split party and a Democratic blow out–leaves them with a solid base to rebuild from. Donald Trump is a one time freakout. The GOP will revive.

This was originally an endless Facebook post about this CNN story: http://www.cnn.com/2015/12/10/politics/rnc-brokered-convention-preparation/

Silenced

So a Berniecrat wrote a long and beautifully composed Facebook post yesterday complaining about the condescending attitude of those among us who condemn him for planning on voting for a third party this November. It went on and on with considerable eloquence and fire.

So can I put you down as a vote for Trump, I asked.

He responded with a long and angry and beautifully written paragraph explaining how stupid my statement was. It went on and on in eloquently outraged prose, nearly as long as his original post, and even more passionate. He explained his original points in university level English, to make absolutely sure I understood.

Now you’re being condescending, I said.

That bought forth his angriest paragraph yet, full of outraged long words and beautifully placed fuck yous.

But I was joking, I said.

Nothing came in response. Not a peep. Not even a barfing emoji.

Silenced.

A supporter of former Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders wears tape across her mouth in protest on the floor at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia

 

Bernie or Bust

Somebody who gets mad at everything, gawd love him, got mad at me on Facebook for posting some of the wackier comments from the Bernie or Bust webpages. He thought I was making fun of Bernie supporters. But this was not about Bernie supporters, this was about the Bernie or Bust people, who were more often than not quite, uh, zany and confused. Their posts were really funny. After all, these are people who sat inside the convention hall staring into their iPhones completely oblivious to reality all around them. Posting that the evil Hillary forces had cancelled the roll call while that roll call was actually happening. That is funny. There is no way that isn’t really funny. And I saw that a dozen times. These raging space cases, out to save the world and completely oblivious to that very world. They are a funny bunch, a lot of them, passionate and clueless.

But my favorite Bernie or Bust moment, hands down, was the white guys chanting “Black Lives Matter!” as Cory Booker spoke. I swear he did a double take.

Booing Bernie

I am not surprised that Bernie was booed by his own true believers. If you have been looking at any of the Bernie or Bust pages you would have already seen comments from people who think he’s a traitor or a sell out, and lots more comments that were convinced he was still running and would win the nomination. People have been trying to contact superdelegates all week long, thinking they could be convinced to turn this around.

A lot of these delegates have had to spend everything they had just to get to Philadelphia, and a lot of the posts on FB are for crowdfunding Bernie delegates to get to the convention. No effort was made by Bernie’s campaign to help at all, even though he is sitting on millions. So the connection between Bernie Sanders and many of his delegates has gotten tenuous…they came there to support Bernie Sanders the presidential candidate, and not Bernie Sanders the Democratic Senator. His speech to the DNC will be his biggest challenge. He might well be booed by his own people as he is cheered by Hillary’s. Embarrassing….

I’ve been figuring there would be a lot of excitement on the floor for a week now, even before Julian Assange dumped all those DNC emails. Since then, though, the Bernie or Bust pages have gone ballistic, with loud demands that Bernie withdraw his endorsement. I suspect that a lot of people in that crowd of delegates today were expecting to hear just that, Bernie withdrawing his endorsement and announcing he was still in it to win. The boos were by people hearing what they had refused to believe all along, that Bernie Sanders had no attention of contesting Hillary Clinton for the nomination on the floor. The chants of Lock Her Up are no surprise either, as the Bernie of Bust pages are rife with crazy conservative propaganda lately. Breitbart was everywhere. Not every Berniecrat is a democratic socialist. Don’t forget he got all those Rand Paul people, H.A. Goodman being the most famous. Libertarian one week, socialist the next, and then back again. Far more Sanders people have switched to Johnson than to Stein so far. More have switched to Trump than to Stein so far. Maybe this will change now, but some of those booing Bernie today will be voting for Trump, guaranteed. And while the vast majority of Bernie Sanders supporters in the country switched their support to Hillary weeks ago, they are not the ones in Philadelphia booing and chanting in front of television cameras.

It will also be interesting watching how angry Bernie delegates, nearly all of them white, interact with Hillary delegates, a great many of them African American and Hispanic. Progressives might discover a racial divide they did not was even there, one they exacerbated every time they claimed that Hillary’s victory margins–propelled as they were by black and Hispanic voters–were fraudulent. White people angry that their votes did not mean more than black and brown votes. It wasn’t meant that way, but it was often heard that way.

Fun times ahead, maybe. Like I said before, the Democrat in me wants a smooth running convention, but the political junkie in me is thrilled at the prospect for so much excitement….

Tweets

Donald Trump has tweeted Bernie Sanders supporters eight times in 24 hours, more than Bernie has tweeted Bernie Sanders supporters. Donald is tweeting new messages to them, Bernie is tweeting old slogans. I haven’t seen any Bernie supporters mentioning anything that Bernie has tweeted them (“If this country stands for anything, we have to stand with those people who came home from war injured in body and soul”), but they sure are talking about the same things Trump is tweeting them (“Tim Kaine is, and always has been, owned by the banks. Bernie supporters are outraged, was their last choice. Bernie fought for nothing!”). Perhaps it is a coincidence. Perhaps not.

Bernie Sanders is still a candidate for the nomination but not the kind of candidate who actively seeks the nomination but just the kind of candidate who can’t stand the idea of conceding ever, so he won’t.

Asked if Bernie Sanders is actively seeking the nomination, his campaign manager Jeff Weaver says no. Is the campaign still polling super delegates? No. Asked 12 hours later if Bernie Sanders is still a candidate for the nomination Jeff Weaver says yes.

For a campaign that is different than all the others because it tells the truth, it says, truth seems to have become very relative. It’s hard to see what advantage Bernie has by maintaining the fiction that he is still a presidential candidate when he cannot possibly be one because there are no more delegates to be had and he is not trying to flip any super delegates. But many of his core supporters, the true believers, the ones who have been the most dedicated donors even when they couldn’t afford it, those people still believe in their heart of hearts that Bernie can and will the nomination. And as long as Bernie has not conceded, the campaign can still continue to raise money from these people. Doubtless donations spiked after his speech last night. You have to wonder just how much of this equivocation nonsense–he is not actively seeking the nomination but is still a candidate for the nomination–is because they were flat broke after the California primary. Maybe they couldn’t pay the bills and meet whatever payroll remained, the fate of most failed political campaigns. But then no campaign ever collected donations the way Bernie’s does, in smallish dollar amounts via social media. As long as they have that dedicated base of followers they have money coming in, provided that base still thinks Bernie is actually seeking the nomination. Is that what is happening? Is that why Jeff Weaver takes such pains to state that Bernie is still a candidate? Maybe, maybe not. It’s impossible to tell since they stopped releasing monthly donation totals a couple months ago. For a campaign that began so idealistically, it’s a rather unseemly finish.

He spent part of his speech last night saying how important it was to defeat Trump. But you do not defeat Trump by donating to the Bernie Sanders for President campaign. You do not help other progressive candidates by donating to the Bernie For President campaign. You don’t take back congress or statehouses or state legislatures by donating to the Bernie Sanders for President campaign. You don’t fund ballot initiatives to stop open carry or legalize marijuana or provide homes to the homeless by donating to the Bernie Sanders for President campaign either. It’s hard to tell just who you are benefiting by donating to the Bernie Sanders campaign. Sometimes campaigns wind up existing only to feed themselves, aimless organizations serving no purpose other than collecting funds to collect more funds. I don’t know if the Bernie Sanders campaign has reached that point yet, but I am starting to wonder. Because right now, for all political intents and nomination purposes, the campaign serves no function at all. As current events and filibusters pass it by, the campaign seems to be just spinning its wheels, going nowhere and making money doing it.

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Bernie’s final campaign rally, Washington D.C. (Photo by Molly Riley, Getty Images.)