“Bernie did well last weekend but he can’t possibly win the nomination,” a friend told me for what seemed like the thousandth time, attaching an article from the Washington Post that shows how far behind Bernie remains in delegates.
Wait a minute. Last Tuesday, Sanders won 78 percent of the vote in Idaho and 79 percent in Utah. This past Saturday, he took 82 percent of the vote in Alaska, 73 percent in Washington, and 70 percent in Hawaii.
In fact, since mid-March, Bernie has won six out of the seven Democratic primary contests with an average margin of victory of 40 points. Those victories have given him roughly a one hundred additional pledged delegates.
As of now, Hillary Clinton has 54.9 percent of the pledged delegates to Bernie Sanders’s 45.1 percent.That’s still a sizable gap – but it doesn’t make Bernie Sanders’s candidacy an impossibility.
Moreover, there are 22 states to go with nearly 45 percent of pledged delegates still up for grabs – and Sanders has positive momentum in almost all of them.
Hillary Clinton’s lead in superdelegates may vanish if Bernie gains a majority of pledged delegates.
Bernie is outpacing Hillary Clinton in fundraising. In March, he raised $39 million. In February, he raised $42 million (from 1.4 million contributions, averaging $30 each), compared to Hillary Clinton’s $30 million. In January he raised $20 million to her $15 million.
By any measure, the enthusiasm for Bernie is huge and keeps growing. He’s packing stadiums, young people are flocking to volunteer, support is rising among the middle-aged and boomers.
By Seth Abramson
Bernie Sanders will win more pledged delegates than Hillary Clinton in the second half of the Democratic nominating season.
In fact, he’ll almost certainly win more pledged delegates than Clinton in the final three and a half months of the primary season.
And virtually without question, he’ll win more states than Clinton in these final three and a half months — it’s just a matter of how many more.
He’ll also close out the primary season, it appears, beating Donald Trump by as much or (more often) substantially more than Clinton in nearly every national and battle-ground state poll taken.
Yet none of it is a surprise, even in the context of a race the media told us was essentially over a month ago.
In fact, everything that’s happening now in the Clinton-Sanders race was predicted, long ago, by either Sanders himself or the hard data of this election season. Moreover, none of what’s happening is a surprise to the politicos on the Clinton side, either; that’s one reason they’re working overtime to control and then shift the narrative from the inevitability of a major Sanders comeback. While it’s still up in the air whether that comeback will be total or near-total, only by manipulating the narrative can the Clinton campaign keep Sanders at bay.
And that’s why understanding that what’s happening now is no more or less than what was readily predictable a year ago is crucial to understanding the current state of the Democratic primary race. This means unpacking not just the Clinton camp’s transparent attempts to skew the media narrative, but also, and more importantly, the hard data behind a comeback that could end up being every bit as historic as Sanders supporters are now suggesting it will be.
By Robert Reich
I’ve been reluctant to use the “f” word to describe Donald Trump because it’s especially harsh, and it’s too often used carelessly.
But Trump has finally reached a point where parallels between his presidential campaign and the fascists of the first half of the 20th century – lurid figures such as Benito Mussolini, Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Oswald Mosley, and Francisco Franco – are too evident to overlook.
It’s not just that Trump recently quoted Mussolini (he now calls that tweet inadvertent) or that he’s begun inviting followers at his rallies to raise their right hands in a manner chillingly similar to the Nazi “Heil” solute (he dismisses such comparison as “ridiculous.”)
The parallels go deeper.
As did the early twentieth-century fascists, Trump is focusing his campaign on the angers of white working people who have been losing economic ground for years, and who are easy prey for demagogues seeking to build their own power by scapegoating others.
Trump’s incendiary verbal attacks on Mexican immigrants and Muslims – even his reluctance to distance himself from David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan – follow the older fascist script.
That older generation of fascists didn’t bother with policy prescriptions or logical argument, either. They presented themselves as strongmen whose personal power would remedy all ills.
They created around themselves cults of personality in which they took on the trappings of strength, confidence, and invulnerability – all of which served as substitutes for rational argument or thought.
Seen from the ground in Syria, the positions staked out by Republican politicians are crazy. And that’s because they have no real alternative to Obama’s policies.
By Patrick Hilsman
As we come to the end of a year of terror—actually, of horror—and we enter a year of terrible campaigning by some horrible candidates for the presidency of the United States, one might wish the Republican frontrunners would step back from the path of religious zealotry, racist paranoia, and torture envy. But … no.
As the debates in mid-December and the sparring since have showed us, they are detached from many realities, but especially the reality on the ground in Syria, which I have been covering firsthand with frequent trips there since 2012.
So, now, back in the United States, I watch in consternation the nauseating spin about Radical Islam, carpet bombing, waterboarding, surveillance of everyone, blaming refugees. The Republican “strategies” for dealing with the so-called Islamic State sound like a laundry list of the monumental failures from the 9/11 decade.
Was it “political correctness” that knocked down the twin towers and kidnapped and tortured my friends? No, it was something much more sinister, and something much more sophisticated than these candidates seem to realize, or to be.
There is a reason, of course, for them to deflect questions about military tactics against ISIS. There are no easy answers, and even the difficult options are severely limited. No realistic proposal for tackling the jihadi group will play well with primary voters and all of the candidates know it. Presumably, this is why the Republican candidates have taken the discussion into the realm of paranoid fantasy and insinuation, where they seem much more comfortable.
Read more at The Daily Beast
By David Corn in Mother Jones
On “Hardball,” Michael Morell concedes the Bush administration misled the nation into the Iraq War.
For a dozen years, the Bush-Cheney crowd have been trying to escape—or cover up—an essential fact of the W. years: President George Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and their lieutenants misled the American public about the WMD threat supposedly posed by Saddam Hussein in order to grease the way to the invasion of Iraq. For Bush, Cheney, and the rest, this endeavor is fundamental; it is necessary to protect the legitimacy of the Bush II presidency. Naturally, Karl Rove and other Bushies have quickly tried to douse the Bush-lied-us-into-war fire whenever such flames have appeared. And in recent days, as Jeb Bush bumbled a question about the Iraq War, he and other GOPers have peddled the fictitious tale that his brother launched the invasion because he was presented lousy intelligence. But now there’s a new witness who will make the Bush apologists’ mission even more impossible: Michael Morell, a longtime CIA official who eventually became the agency’s deputy director and acting director. During the preinvasion period, he served as Bush’s intelligence briefer.
Appearing on MSNBC’s Hardball on Tuesday night, Morell made it clear: The Bush-Cheney administration publicly misrepresented the intelligence related to Iraq’s supposed WMD program and Saddam’s alleged links to Al Qaeda.
Host Chris Matthews asked Morell about a statement Cheney made in 2003: “We know he [Saddam Hussein] has been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons. And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.” Here’s the conversation that followed:
MATTHEWS: Was that true?
MORELL: We were saying—
MATTHEWS: Can you answer that question? Was that true?
MORELL: That’s not true.
MATTHEWS: Well, why’d you let them get away with it?
Read more at Mother Jones
David Brooks’ rendition of poverty is as “representative” of people with low-incomes as corrupt corporate titans are of small entrepreneurs.
By Greg Kaufmann in The Nation
“The idea that poverty is a problem of persons—that it results from personal moral, cultural, or biological inadequacies—has dominated discussions of poverty for well over two hundred years and given us the enduring idea of the underserving poor.”
—Michael Katz, The Undeserving Poor
In a recent op-ed, New York Times columnist David Brooks called for a “moral revival,” one which requires “holding people responsible” so that we have “social repair.”
To illustrate the need for said revival—which he frames as a reassertion of social norms—Brooks offers what he describes as three “representative figures” of “high school-educated America”: a man whose mother was absent, Dad is in prison, attended seven elementary schools, and “ended up under house arrest”; a girl who was “one of five half-siblings from three relationships,” whose mom lost custody of the kids to an abuser, and whose dad left a woman because another guy had fathered their child; and, finally, a kid who “burned down a lady’s house when he was 13” and says, “I just love beating up somebody and making they nose bleed…and beating them to the ground.”
So goes the latest iteration of the “undeserving poor,” an age-old concept brilliantly excavated by the late historian Michael Katz in his book of the same title. Like the long lineage it stems from, Brooks’ rendition is as “representative” of people with low-incomes as corrupt corporate titans are of small entrepreneurs. Anecdotally, in my years working for Boys and Girls Clubs, reporting as a poverty correspondent for The Nation, and now editing TalkPoverty.org which regularly features posts from people living in poverty—Brooks’ “representative figures” remind me of exactly zero people I have met during this time. I’m not saying that these individuals don’t exist, but they have little to do with the policies or the morality we need to dramatically reduce poverty in America.
Read more at The Nation
By Viktor Rezunkov
ST. PETERSBURG — Last May, Tatiana N decided she wanted a higher salary than the average journalist can expect.
After responding to an advertisement in the popular HeadHunter job-search website, she became a Kremlin-paid Internet troll. Tatiana — who, like others interviewed for this story, asked that her last name not be used — worked out of a 2,500-square-meter warehouse in the suburbs of St. Petersburg.
The job paid 40,000 rubles a month, significantly more than the 25,000-30,000 most journalists make. But it came, she said, “with pain.”
Tatiana joined a round-the-clock operation in which an army of trolls disseminated pro-Kremlin and anti-Western talking points on blogs and in the comments sections of news websites in Russia and abroad.
The operation, Internet Research, is financed through a holding company headed by President Vladimir Putin’s “personal chef,” Evgeny Prigozhin.
“So you write, write, write, from the point of view of anyone,” Tatiana, 22, says.
“You could be [posing as] a housewife who bakes dumplings and suddenly decides: ‘I have an opinion about what Putin said! And this action by Vladimir Vladimirovich saves Russia.”
The roughly 400 employees work 12-hour shifts and are split into various departments. Some focus on writing up themes and assignments, others concentrate on commenting, and others work on graphics for social media.
The daily assignments — shown in a document first published on March 11 by independent St. Petersburg newspaper My Region — are usually drawn directly from pro-Kremlin media and go into sometimes excruciating detail about the message the bloggers and commenters are supposed to relay.
One assignment instructed trolls how to frame the February 27 assassination of opposition figure Boris Nemtsov: Either it was orchestrated by Ukrainian oligarchs to frame Russia and harm Moscow’s relations with the West, or it was carried out by Nemtsov’s supporters as a “provocation” ahead of opposition protests.
Lena N, another former employee, says she stopped working at Internet Research after refusing to blog the company line about Nemtsov’s killing.
“It was necessary to bring people to believe that the killing of Boris Nemtsov was a provocation before the march and a murder carried out by his own [supporters],” she says.
From the Associated Press
MOSCOW (AP) — A top pro-Russia rebel commander in eastern Ukraine has given a bizarre version of events surrounding the Malaysian jetliner crash — suggesting many of the victims may have died days before the plane took off.
The pro-rebel website Russkaya Vesna on Friday quoted Igor Girkin as saying he was told by people at the crash site that “a significant number of the bodies weren’t fresh,” adding that he was told they were drained of blood and reeked of decomposition..
The Malaysia Airlines Boeing-777 was shot down Thursday, killing all 298 people aboard. The plane was flying 10,000 meters above an area where Ukrainian forces have been fighting separatist rebels. Each side accuses the other of downing the plane.
U.S. intelligence authorities said a surface-to-air missile brought down the plane, and U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power told the U.N. Security Council in New York on Friday that the missile was likely fired from a rebel-held area near the Russian border.
Read more at Talking Points Memo
By Roger Cohen in The New York Times
LONDON — Sheldon Adelson’s right-wing Israel Hayom, the biggest-selling newspaper in Israel, has called for Gaza to be “returned to the Stone Age.” During the last Israeli bombing campaign in Gaza, in 2012, a government minister called for Gaza to be consigned “to the Middle Ages.” Before that, there was the Gaza War of 2008-2009, in which 1,166 Palestinians died and 13 Israelis, according to the Israel Defense Forces.
The story goes on and on. There is no denouement. Gaza, a small place jammed with 1.8 million people, does not recess to the Stone, Iron, Middle or other Ages. It does not get flattened, as Ariel Sharon’s son once proposed. The death toll is overwhelmingly skewed against Palestinians. Hamas, with its militia and arsenal of rockets, continues to run Gaza. The dead die for nothing.
Israel could send Gaza back to whichever age it wishes. Its military advantage, its general dominance, over the Palestinians has never been greater since 1948. But it chooses otherwise. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s talk of a ground invasion is empty. The last thing Israel wants, short of a cataclysm, is to go into Gaza and get stuck.
What Israel wants is the status quo (minus Hamas rockets). Israel is the Middle East’s status quo power par excellence. It seeks a calm Gaza under Hamas control, a divided Palestinian movement with Fatah running the West Bank, a vacuous “peace process” to run down the clock, and continued prosperity. Divide and rule. Hamas is useful to Israel as long as it is quiescent.
Read more at The New York Times
By Karl Vick in TIME magazine
Raising questions of how long air campaign can go on
The death toll among Palestinians scrambling under a relentless Israeli air assault in the Gaza Strip edged above 80 on Thursday, including four toddlers and at least another 10 children under age 16.
Meanwhile, the barrage of rockets Gaza militants launched toward Israeli cities failed to produce a significant casualty on the third day of Israel’s offensive. A media report that a missile had critically injured someone in a car in Ashdod, a coastal city near Gaza, was withdrawn by smartphone alert 28 minutes later.
Everything about the latest offensive is moving fast, especially relative to the last round of fighting. That November 2012 air campaign — dubbed Operation Pillar of Defense by Israel — lasted eight days. Israel’s current offensive, Operation Protective Edge, has bombed more than half as many targets in Gaza in less than half the time — 860 in three days compared with 1,500 in eight days last time. The Israeli military said it destroyed more buildings in the first 36 hours of the current campaign than in all of Pillar of Defense. More people are dying too: the 80 fatalities reported so far is, once again, more than half the reported death toll from the longer bombing two years earlier.
All of it raised the question of how long the Israeli bombardment can go on.
Israel’s wars have a half-life, a variable that slides with circumstances and unscheduled events, but which is decided, to a significant degree, by how the world views the fight. So long as it sees a democracy defending its people against terrorism, Israel enjoys considerable leeway. And that’s how most of the Gaza wars start out: Gaza, a coastal enclave of 1.8 million Palestinians patrolled on three sides by Israeli forces, which also parcels out its electricity, water and food, is a hotbox for militants. Those militants want to hit Israel any way they can, and the way that works best is missiles. More than 500 rockets have roared out of Gaza since Tuesday. Each triggers a siren somewhere in Israel, and often sympathy from some parts of the world moved by photographs of panicked mothers scrambling to shelter their children.
Read more at TIME