Jim Clyburn and Tim Kane Endorsements Are Wind in Joe Biden’s Sails Before South Carolina

If it’s true that a person can be known by the friends he keeps, voters will be impressed by the endorsements of Joe Biden’s friends this week.

Jim_Clyburn_official_portrait_116th_Congress

REP. JIM CLYBURN OF SOUTH CAROLINA, official congressional portrait

Rep. Jim Clyburn is revered by South Carolina’s African-American electorate, and his timely endorsement of Joe Biden would seem to ensure a Biden victory in the South Carolina Democratic presidential primary Saturday.

Now comes Virginia Sen. Tim Kane’s endorsement on the eve of the primary, providing an additional gust of wind for Biden as he sails into Saturday’s election.

The possibility of Bernie Sanders continuing his winning streak in South Carolina now seems remote. I venture to say it has evaporated.

What if Bernie runs far behind Joe, or if Bernie falls to third place behind Tom Steyer, who has poured part of his fortune into South Carolina advertising? Stop me from speculating further. What seems clear is that no one can predict what will happen a few days from now, when 14 states vote on Super Tuesday.

Cable news pundits have been ranting and fuming for a week, made crazy by the assumption that Bernie Sanders was about to run up an insurmountable lead in Democratic delegates. (MSNBC seems to have given up all pretense of impartiality. Their hair is on fire.)

Sanders still might impress on Super Tuesday. Or Joe Biden might rise again, or Elizabeth Warren. Or even, heaven help us, that billionaire, Mike Bloomberg. (I can’t claim impartiality, by the way. The thought of Bloomberg buying the White House sets my hair on fire.) It bears repeating, no one can predict beyond South Carolina. Let’s wait for the voters, even in South Carolina. Please pass the fire extinguisher.

Some endorsements really do make a difference

Jim Clyburn and Tim Kane are household names in their own states. Clyburn, a civil rights-era icon, is also well-known to African-Americans throughout America. He is the third-ranking leader in the House of Representatives. His endorsement of Joe Biden as a friend — a man he knows and trusts — was moving, to say the least. Clyburn’s heartfelt endorsement will not go unnoticed in South Carolina on Saturday.

Tim_Kaine_by_Gage_Skidmore

SEN. TIM KANE OF VIRGINIA, George Skidmore photo

Tim Kane is a U.S. senator from Virginia, and before that, Virginia’s governor. It’s because of leaders like Kane that Virginia has changed from a red state, to purple, and now to at least light blue. Tim Kane was Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential running mate in 2016. He’s a politician of national stature, even though not well-known nationally.

I doubt that Kane’s endorsement of Joe Biden will have as strong an impact as Clyburn’s. Nonetheless, Virginia and North Carolina are two of the states that vote on Super Tuesday. (Four days from today.) Kane is well-acquainted with the three U.S. senators still in the presidential chase, as well as with Biden. So I have to respect his opinion as based on knowledge.

Tim Kane’s support for Biden will influence at least a few voters in Virginia, where Biden needs all the help he can get to overcome the advertising bought by Mike Bloomberg’s money. Billionaire Bloomberg thinks he can buy anything, including Congress and the Presidency. Kane’s support will also be noticed in neighboring North Carolina.

Jim Clyburn’s support for Biden might also cross the South Carolina state line, and influence voters in North Carolina on Super Tuesday, and in Georgia, which votes March 24.

California and Texas both have enormous troves of delegates in the Super Tuesday sweepstakes. Sanders has been working hard and spending money in both those states. And Bloomberg is heavily invested. Maybe by late Tuesday night we will begin to know who has the most friends among the vast rank and file of voters.

But even California and Texas together will not be decisive.

— John Hayden

Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Donald Trump

 

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JOE BIDEN, Creative Commons

Who is electable?

That’s the question of the year for Democrats in 2020.

For insight on electability, the 2016 experience is instructive. Donald Trump appealed to a minority coalition of mostly white voters — voters seething with resentment because they felt disrespected and ignored by a prosperous, elitist urban America on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

Donald Trump’s coalition was, and is, somewhat short of a majority. The resentment coalition included:

  • Southern whites
  • Residents of “flyover country”
  • Evangelical Christians

Those three groups do not constitute a majority.

Trump added to his coalition a necessary margin of voters in the upper Midwest. Not quite enough to make a true majority. But Trump’s Midwestern voters were strategically located to swing the Electoral College. That made Trump president in 2016. Can he do it again, or will one of the Democrats be more electable?

Bernie Sanders is gathering a coalition of the oppressed and left-out. That includes:

  • Voters of any age who feel mercilessly exploited by winner-take-all capitalism — the underemployed, underinsured, and over-indebted. Importantly, many younger Americans feel trapped at the bottom. They find hope in Bernie Sanders.
  • African-Americans who have always been — and remain — oppressed and exploited in America.
  • Latinos who feel downright unwelcome in Trump’s America.
  • Liberal white Democrats are supportive of the oppressed coalition.

Voila! It looks like a plausible Bernie Sanders majority.

Joe Biden can hold together the African-American and Latino parts of the oppressed coalition, and probably do even better with liberal white Democrats. But no one believes he can energize the younger generations the way Bernie can.

Elizabeth Warren could arguably hold together that same coalition of the oppressed, minorities, and liberal Democrats. Plus, she might increase participation of oppressed women. But her support among minorities and the young is unproven.

Young voters could destroy the Democratic Party in 2020 if they believe the nomination has been stolen from Bernie.

Unanswered questions

It is reasonable to question the electability of all three — Sanders, Warren and Biden — for different reasons.

Can Sanders or Warren energize and turn out African-Americans and Latinos in sufficient numbers to win?

Can Biden or Warren turn out the younger voters who are fervently committed to Bernie?

But wait. Any of the presidential hopefuls might enhance their electability with the right vice presidential candidate. It’s easy to guess that a popular African-American on the ticket could make all the difference. Cory Booker? Maybe a Latino running mate would have the same effect. Julian Castro? And if the nominee is Bernie or Joe, a woman running mate might change the dynamic.

Et cetera

Amy Klobuchar is the candidate with je ne sais quoi.  Klobuchar is the surprise waiting to happen. I like her because she could win Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania. Those states made all the difference in 2016. And don’t  forget that Klobuchar is potentially the first woman president. With the right running mate, a Klobuchar ticket could motivate minority voters. Alas, Klobuchar doesn’t have the numbers and she’s fading from the picture for 2020.

And former Mayor Pete? Wall Street Pete? Electability calls for experience, and Pete doesn’t have it. His support is limited and it’s difficult to imagine him putting together the necessary coalition.

Finally, Mike Bloomberg. Former Republican mayor of New York. He’s wealthier than Donald Trump. And perhaps more arrogant. Is any part of the Democratic coalition really waiting for another wealthy, arrogant New Yorker?

Conclusion

Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren. All plausible. In the end, it’s up to Democratic primary voters to decide..

— John Hayden

Democratic Debate Audience Packed With The Rich

Bernie_Sanders

The audience repeatedly booed Bernie Sanders, the Democratic Socialist, and applauded Michael Bloomberg, the Billionaire, during Tuesday night’s debate in South Carolina.

This was an audience of Democrats? The party of the working people of America? Or is it the party of the billionaires of America?

Here’s my guess: There aren’t enough billionaires to BE a political party. But it doesn’t take very many billionaires to BUY a political party.

New York Times headline and subhead:

With Tickets $1,750, Debate Audiences Are Elite of the Elite. But That’s Not New. 

Getting into one of the Democratic debates is like getting a ticket to the Super Bowl or the World Series.

We learned something Tuesday night that we should have known all along. The wealthy elite can pack the auditorium.

Here’s what’s new: Suddenly, the privileged are scared to death that Bernie Sanders might become the Democratic presidential nominee and the Democratic president. I wonder why the privileged are frightened?

Bernie Sanders has promised, time after time, that he will take on the health insurance industry, Wall Street, the big banks, the petroleum-industrial complex, the prison-industrial complex, the pharmaceutical-industrial complex, the National Rifle Association.

And Bernie Sanders has vowed to tax the rich.

So upon reflection, it’s no surprise that the wealthy elite is scared to death of Bernie Sanders. They’re scared enough to loudly boo Bernie and clap for one of their own, Bloomberg.

Bernie has warned repeatedly that America’s wealthy elite, the leaders of Wall Street, banking, health insurance, the pharmaceutical industry, the petroleum and prison and gun industries, all will fight him tooth and nail.

Now the booing has started. What else will the privileged class — be they Democrats or Republicans — do to stop Bernie Sanders?

Maybe the stakes are higher than we thought. Where will it all end?

— John Hayden

 

Bernie Sanders Proposes a 21st Century Economic Bill of Rights

Note: In an effort to help the voting public understand the positions of Bernie Sanders on the issues, and why he calls himself a Democratic Socialist, I’m reprinting below the text of an email I received from him this week: It is all a direct quote from the candidate. — John

“While the Bill of Rights protects us from the tyranny of an oppressive government, many in the establishment would like the American people to submit to the tyranny of oligarchs, multinational corporations, Wall Street banks, and billionaires.

In 1944, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt proposed an economic bill of rights, because he knew that there cannot be true freedom without economic security. He was not able to enact it before his death. Seventy-five years later, that job falls to us.

That is why I am proposing we complete the unfinished work of FDR and the Democratic Party by putting forth a 21st Century Economic Bill of Rights. These rights include:

  • Quality health care
  • A complete education
  • A good job that pays a living wage
  • Affordable housing
  • A secure retirement
  • A clean environment

I am asking for your support for this 21st Century Economic Bill of Rights. Will you add your name to say you endorse these rights?

Please add your name to support our 21st Century Economic Bill of Rights to guarantee a living wage, quality health care, a complete education, affordable housing, a secure retirement, and a clean environment for every person in our country.

ADD YOUR NAME

These are my values, and that is why I call myself a democratic socialist.

What I believe is that the American people deserve freedom – true freedom. Freedom is an often-used word, but it’s time we took a hard look at what that word actually means.

Ask yourself: what does it actually mean to be free?

Are you truly free if you are unable to go to a doctor when you are sick, or face financial bankruptcy when you leave the hospital?

Are you truly free if you cannot afford the prescription drug you need to stay alive?

Are you truly free when you spend half of your limited income on housing, and are forced to borrow money from a payday lender at 200% interest rates?

Are you truly free if you are 70 years old and forced to work because you lack a pension or enough money to retire?

Are you truly free if you are unable to attend college or a trade school because your family lacks the income?

Are you truly free if you are forced to work 60 or 80 hours a week because you can’t find a job that pays a living wage?

Are you truly free if you are a mother or father with a newborn baby but you are forced to go back to work immediately after the birth because you lack paid family leave?

Are you truly free if you are a small business owner or family farmer who is driven out by the monopolistic practices of big business?

Are you truly free if you are a veteran, who put your life on the line to defend this country, and now sleep out on the streets?

To me, the answer to those questions, in the wealthiest nation on earth, is no, you are not free.

It is time for the American people to stand up and fight for their rights to freedom, human dignity, and security.

Please add your name to endorse our 21st Century Economic Bill of Rights.

Thank you for being a part of our movement.

In solidarity,

Bernie Sanders”

 

America Has Some Of The Best Immigrants In The World, By Peggy Noonan

“However the illegal immigration crisis is resolved, or not, there are tens of millions already here. Who helps make them Americans? . . .

“They need instruction on the meaning and history of America. Here it should be noted that we have some of the best immigrants in the world, who work hard and have no hostility to American religious culture. In fact, they’re part of that culture. Help Americanize them in other ways.”

— PEGGY NOONAN, speechwriter and special advisor to President Ronald Reagan

WALL STREET JOURNAL, May 4-5, 2019, p. A13

EDITOR’S NOTE: There’s a lot to unpack in the above brief quote. Upon first reading, the thought that came to my mind was: Well, this is NOT President Donald Trump’s view of immigration. No it isn’t, but look further.

Ms. Noonan was careful about what she said, and what she did not say. Let me suggest that you may need to read between the lines a little in order to discern the subtle observations she is making about immigration in present-day America.

Here’s a hint. Obviously, the subject is “immigration.” However, the key words may be “religion” and “culture.”

If you comment below, please try to be as circumspect as Ms. Noonan was. Any disrespectful or inflammatory comments will be deleted at the discretion of the blogger-in-chief.

— John Hayden

America It Will Be Bad, By Peggy Noonan

Quote

“You can’t see all the world’s weapons and all its madness and not know that eventually we will face a terrible day or days when everything will depend on our ability to hold together and hold on. Maybe it will involve nuclear weapons, maybe an extended, rolling attack on the grid, maybe bioterrorism. But it will be bad; there will be deep stress and violence. The great question in those days, under that acute pressure, will be:   Will we hold together? Will we suffer through and emerge, together, on the other side? Which is another way of saying:   Will we continue as a nation, a people?

“My belief is that whatever helps us hold together now, whatever brings us together and binds us close, is good, and must be encouraged with whatever it takes.

“If these are your predicates — America in cultural catastrophe, and hard history ahead — you spend your energies on a battle not to make government significantly smaller, but to make it significantly more helpful.”

— PEGGY NOONAN, speechwriter and special advisor to President Ronald Reagan

WALL STREET JOURNAL, May 4-5, 2019, p. A13

America’s Continuing Cultural Catastrophe, By Peggy Noonan

Quote

“The old conservatism of smaller government, tax cuts and reduced spending . . .

“That old conservatism was deeply pertinent to its era and philosophically right, but it is not fully in line with the crises of our time or its reigning facts . . .

“The federal government will not become smaller or less expensive in our lifetimes . . .

“But beyond that fact is something bigger. America needs help right now and Americans know it. It has been enduring for many years a continuing cultural catastrophe — illegitimacy, the decline of faith, low family formation, child abuse and neglect, drugs, inadequate public education, etc. All this exists alongside an entertainment culture on which the poor and neglected are dependent, and which is devoted to violence, sex and nihilism . . .

“America to my mind is what Pope Francis said the church was: a field hospital after battle. We are a beautiful and great nation but a needy, torn-up one in need of repair.”

— PEGGY NOONAN, Speechwriter and special assistant to President Ronald Reagan

From the WALL STREET JOURNAL, May 4-5, 2019, p. A13

The Real State Of The Union

As the captain gave his State Of The Union address, he was standing on an unsteady deck.

I had the opportunity this week to speak with a federal employee recently retired after 40 years with the U.S. government.

Federal workers’ morale is not good, he said. For a long time the government has pursued a policy of converting federal employee positions to contract positions. I presume the goal is to save money and to relieve government of responsibility for employees, and it’s working.

Federal employees idled during the month-long government shutdown will receive back pay, the retiree explained. Contract employees who work alongside federal employees in the same buildings will NOT be paid.

The numbers:

Approximately 800,000 federal employees will be paid; approximately 1 million contract federal workers will not be paid.

You might say it’s a dirty little secret. But it’s not a well-kept secret. I read the same information in a newspaper. However, most Americans are unaware that 1 million workers will not be paid. Or they simply don’t care.

The U.S. is fighting wars (sometimes secret wars) with mercenaries paid by private contractors, instead of soldiers paid by the U.S. Army. And the civilian government is staffed by contract workers, instead of official federal employees.

Morale is horrible among both official employees and their contract fellow workers, said the long-time employee. Contract workers are leaving the government in droves, he said. Departing workers are taking years of experience and irreplaceable skills with them, said another man at the table. The government is being weakened, and possibly wrecked.

I suppressed the image of rats leaving a sinking ship. It’s not the right image.

I summoned a vision of contract sailors, classified as “non-essential” and deemed not worth paying. They are disembarking from a stricken ship, with unseen damage below the waterline. A skeleton crew remains aboard.

Sailors are manning the lifeboats in orderly fashion. Meanwhile, a proud and inattentive captain is on deck reading a speech. Assembled officers applaud dutifully. The captain is unaware that the deck beneath his feet is unsteady and the ship is listing.

sunset ship boat sea

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

— John Hayden

 

New And More Dangerous Stage In U.S. Constitutional Crisis

The 35-day (partial) government shutdown, longest in American history, ended Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, with a temporary and grudging truce between President Donald Trump and the U.S. Congress. The truce expires on Feb. 15. Some Federal agencies began reopening on Saturday, and about 800,000 government workers will receive paychecks. Date of paychecks to be announced.

The shutdown, the fight over a border wall at the Mexican border, and most importantly, the Constitutional crisis involving the power of the U.S. Congress to appropriate government funds and the power of the president to do . . . whatever . . .  is off the front pages of American newspapers.

We might be forgiven for thinking the storm is over.

But the Constitutional crisis has entered new and more dangerous territory. Trump has threatened to declare a state of emergency and/or shut down the government again if Congress fails to meet his demands by Feb. 15.

President Trump made a concession, gave in to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s demand to reopen the government before negotiations could begin. Trump’s seeming capitulation means nerve-rending pressures on both sides.

Trump is being portrayed as the loser. He is vilified by his Republican base. His most hard-core supporters adopted his promise of a wall as a divine right, a modern Manifest Destiny.  I can only imagine that he believes he must deliver on his promise to build a border wall, or all is lost for him.

Pelosi and Democrats are portrayed as the winners. Many on the far left are celebrating. The reality is that Pelosi is now under excruciating pressure to negotiate in good faith. Does she have any good faith?

Pelosi will feel pressure even from her own Democrats in the House of Representatives. But Pelosi says she will never agree to build any border structure, anywhere. Many Democrats agree. And of course many Democrats are willing to make at least some concessions, to build a little bit of wall, or a fence. Here, or there.

Let’s talk about it?

How negotiations will play out is totally unpredictable.

In order to resolve the deadlock and end the Constitutional crisis, there must be good-faith negotiations. Compromises must be made. Both sides must give up something in order to achieve compromise, unless one side is willing to accept defeat and declare unconditional surrender. Compromise is essential. See the problem?

What happens if compromise is not reached by Feb. 15?

It’s totally unpredictable. It appears that Trump would have little choice but to declare his emergency, spend money on a wall without Congressional appropriations. Or shut down the government again, and who knows when it would reopen?

Or maybe the deadline could be extended?

Unpredictable negotiations, unpredictable presidential actions. Weeks of uncertainty.

And it probably wasn’t on the front page of your Sunday newspaper. Nothing about the shutdown on Page 1 of the Tampa Bay Times, which claims to be the largest newspaper in the third-largest state. Nothing on page 2A or 3A. Nothing about the shutdown, the temporary truce, the Constitutional crisis. Not until Page 10A, at which point the Tampa Bay Times reports:

“Some national parks open to visitors post-shutdown”

Well, national parks ARE important. The story also reports that airports are returning to normal operation. But the Smithsonian Institution won’t reopen until Tuesday.

So now we know what’s important to Americans, or at least to newspaper editors. National parks, airports, and the Smithsonian.

The callow irresponsibility of the media is as much to blame for this crisis as the actions of politicians. And the American public, with its short attention span, is not interested. The American public has gone shopping, or something.

In the end, we Americans will get what we deserve, whatever that may be.

— John Hayden

Secret Agenda Behind Government Shutdown

Is it possible that President Trump is prolonging the partial government shutdown to reduce the size of the government workforce? That’s been a Republican goal for decades: Starve The Beast.

I am not the type to entertain conspiracy theories.

At least I never was before. But with the shutdown more than a month old, and 800,000 government workers unpaid, people are getting desperate. And angry. One attempted suicide has been reported. How much longer can unpaid workers hang on? How many paychecks can workers miss before they turn away in desperation to other jobs?

Sorry, but after 70 years, I’m cynical enough (or maybe I’m old and dotty) to wonder if there’s a secret motivation behind this shutdown. Trump thinks federal workers are part of the “Deep State.” Trump wants to “drain the swamp.”

But let’s be fair. Maybe Nancy Pelosi has motives, too. Her motives are not so secret. Pelosi is intractable. No negotiations for her. Does she care about government workers? Or is she motivated by the glory of a Democratic victory in 2020? Talk about cynical.

Between Trump and Pelosi, “political ethics” is an oxymoron.

Is the Administration ready to fire workers who fail to show up? How many “essential” workers are calling in sick because they have no money for gas, or lunch, or daycare for the children? The most often cited problem is gasoline. Do you know anyone who walks to work? People commute to work. They drive or take the train. Many workers drive SUVs or pickup trucks that guzzle gas. Some have long commutes, 80 to 100 miles is not common, but neither is it unheard of.

Gasoline to drive round trip to and from work for a week adds up, unless you drive a Prius. What happens when a worker can’t pay for gas?

What happens when the time comes to choose between gas and food? 

If federal prison guards call in sick, guards on duty are held over at the end of their shift. Work without a paycheck? How about work a double shift without a paycheck! Under dangerous conditions.

Some federal prisons are reportedly providing cots for sleeping so guards don’t have to drive back and forth. Solves the gas problem. Work without pay, remain on site 24 hours a day.  Might as well work an extra shift. With guards transformed into virtual prisoners, who takes care of the children at home? Some federal workers are single parents.

Are children alone at night, with no one to feed them or keep them safe? It is possible. Somewhere in this great big country, a child is alone and hungry because a parent is at work and unpaid.

Similar problems must be developing for FBI agents, and yes, Border Patrol agents. And air traffic controllers and airport security personnel. Dangerous prisons, dangerous airports. No gas, no food, no money, no one to care for the children. How long can a worker stand it before he gives up? Or blows up?

It sounds like hysterical speculation. I’m embarrassed to write it. And yet . . .

Most Federal workers are well qualified for something. What about Border Patrol agents? Aren’t they be qualified to be police officers? And maybe get paid more than their present jobs. Certainly get paid more regularly. An FBI agent could make big bucks managing security for a corporation. Coast Guard members? No, they’re military, they are the only ones who can’t just up and quit and go drive for Uber.

So I ask the crazy questions:

How many workers will be in nervous breakdown when the shutdown ends? How many workers will be gone when the shutdown ends?

How many will take other jobs and not look back? How many will be fired? Will Donald Trump celebrate?

It’s preposterous. It can’t be true.

— John Hayden