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Jim Lane

Jim Lane's Journal
Jim Lane's Journal
June 8, 2018

Bernie Sanders Is Losing Primary Battles, But Winning A War

This NPR piece -- "Bernie Sanders Is Losing Primary Battles, But Winning A War" -- is a valuable counter to the overemphasis on scorekeeping of individual races.

There are two main points:
* First, tabulating results has to take into account the context, namely that Bernie is not endorsing favorites and is playing a longer game than just running up numbers in the 2018 primaries.
* Second, the big picture of all the primaries shows that the party has moved significantly in Bernie’s direction on issues like health care. This shift has multiple causes but certainly Bernie’s 2016 campaign and his follow-up advocacy have played a role.

On the first point, Bernie put his endorsements in context:

"I hope they win," Sanders said. "Maybe they don't. But if you get 45 percent of the vote now, next time you may well win."

Bernie is perfectly well aware that a challenger who faces an incumbent and who has less money is fighting an uphill battle:

"I could be 100 percent in terms of my endorsements," Sanders told NPR. "All you've got to do is endorse establishment candidates who have a whole lot of money, who are 40 points ahead in the poll. You know what, you'll come and say, 'Bernie, you were 100 percent supportive of these candidates, they all won.'"

The second point is the Democratic Party’s overall issue stance:

Even if many of his hand-picked candidates are coming up short, more of the Democrats who are winning are lining up closer to Sanders anyway. A Medicare-for-all, single-payer health care plan continues to gain support among Democratic candidates, and the $15 minimum wage Sanders made a key part of his presidential campaign has been adopted as a cause by party leaders across the country.

Along with health care and minimum wage, there’s similar movement on universal preschool and debt-free college, as Bernie’s longtime strategist observes:

"Many of these issues were considered fringe issues, and now they are mainstream issues that we take for granted that there, of course, are legions of Democratic candidates running on those platforms," said Jeff Weaver. "Three or four years ago you would not have seen candidates running on that platform I would have considered to be outside the mainstream."

Now, going beyond the NPR piece, I’ll venture my own prediction. The Democratic nominee in 2020 will not be Bernie Sanders, but it will be someone who calls for single-payer health care.
May 18, 2018

Vile smear against 12 Democratic Senators exposed as false

Last week saw the introduction in Congress of the Workplace Democracy Act. Its goal is to make it easier for workers to form and join unions and to bargain collectively. The sponsors were Bernie Sanders in the Senate and Mark Pocan in the House. Each introduced the bill, put out a press release crediting the other, and posted the text to his website. (Sanders press release and bill text; Pocan press release and bill text) In each chamber, several Democrats signed on as cosponsors.

Congress’s website reported the bill’s introduction but didn’t yet have the text. The website itself noted that bills aren’t posted immediately after introduction. Nevertheless, the charge was made that Sanders’s bill didn’t even exist, meaning that twelve Democratic Senators – Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Edward Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) – were being accused of cynically touting themselves as supporters of a nonexistent bill.

Well, the text of the Senate bill, S.2810, introduced on May 9, is now available at Congress.gov, along with the previously posted list of cosponsors. This should dispel the lie that those twelve Democrats were backing a bill that didn’t exist. Props also to the Democrats in the House whom Pocan identified as the cosponsors there: Representatives Brendan Boyle (PA-13), Katherine Clark (MA-05), Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Keith Ellison (MN-05), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Donald Norcross (NJ-01), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03), Mark Takano (CA-41), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12).

We can assume that the bill isn’t likely to pass in this session. Still, it’s a good thing for progressives in Congress to persist in putting ideas like this into the public dialog. There’s also the practical point that it can provide a campaign issue for Democrats who are challenging vulnerable Republican incumbents.

May 18, 2018

Governor Andrew Cuomo supports taxpayer ripoff to help developers

In New York City there’s been a decades-long dispute about the future of the Hudson River and its waterfront. Increasing attention is being paid to the way that the State and City are misusing their powers to aid well-connected commercial developers instead of emphasizing a public park and environmental protection.

The Village Voice has a good article by Jake Offenhartz about the impact of a bill that Cuomo signed: “Hudson River Development Could Stick Taxpayers With Cost of Storm Repairs”. The main feature isn’t surprising – the private developers stand to reap the profits while shifting much of the cost to state or city taxpayers. Another feature of the bill is the fanciful notion of selling “air rights” (i.e., transferable development rights) for the area over the Hudson River itself. The whole thing, besides the fiscal issue, has great potential to harm an important ecosystem.

I’m one of the people quoted in the article. The reporter got a response from the quasi-government agency that’s handling this, and followed up with me to get a comment. I explained to him why the response was fundamentally dishonest. It was, in fact, such a crock that he didn’t even deem it worthy of mentioning and refuting in his piece.

April 14, 2018

Progressive candidates flood Washington for targeted training

This is where the rubber meets the road: practical help for progressive candidates, in the form of a training session. "Progressive candidates flood Washington for targeted training":

Unlike the memorable, mega-events from [Bernie Sanders's] presidential campaign, with throngs of mostly young voters, a year and half later this room was made up of 450 fresh-faced, Democratic candidates seeking public office themselves, many for the first time.

The scene Thursday afternoon was a snapshot of the revolution the independent senator always wanted -- or at least the one he hoped for after his bid for the White House fell short -- coming to pass.

Candidates from 48 states, running in races big and small, gathered in Washington, D.C., for a four-day training session to learn tricks of the trade from some of the savviest grassroots organizers in the country with the hope of perpetuating a progressive brand of politics back home in their districts.

Sanders' legacy political organization, Our Revolution, partnered with the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) to host the conference and the organizers were excited by the number of signups. According to event representatives, 70 percent of the conference attendees were actively running in 2018 -- 64 percent of them in districts President Donald Trump won in 2016. The group was noticeably diverse too: 55 percent women, 40 percent people of color and 82 percent who have never held political office.

With most of them running in pro-Trump districts, I have to assume that a lot of them will lose. Still, with the blue shifts we've seen in other elections since the Inauguration, Democrats rate to be more widely competitive.

And those who lose? They'll build name recognition, contact lists, and campaign skills, and be in a better position to win next time around. Also, I'm sure some of them will run in districts where, in the last cycle, the Republican ran unopposed. Losing by 65-35 is better than giving a Republican a complete free ride.
January 16, 2018

Opinions sought: Is this transphobic?

Someone wishing to disparage Chelsea Manning wrote, "As a woman* she* is still a treasonous weasel."

People can call Chelsea Manning a treasonous weasel without being transphobic. (I myself don't like what I know about Caitlyn Jenner's politics. Being trans is no guarantee of virtue.) In this instance, though, I thought that the inclusion of the asterisks could have no import other than a sneering implication that there was something phony, or maybe downright evil, about Manning's gender identity. I concluded that this particular attack on her embodied transphobia.

As a straight cisgender man, I admit my lack of personal expertise on the subject. I'd be grateful to hear the reactions of people who are closer to the front lines of these battles. Was I overreacting?

September 20, 2017

Bernie Sanders supported the ACA. His support was crucial.

Bernie has long supported single payer. When the ACA was being debated in Congress, many single-payer supporters urged that it be voted down. Their argument (which has some merit to it) was that enactment of the ACA would further entrench the role of the big for-profit private insurance companies, and make getting to single payer that much harder.

If Bernie had agreed with them, he could easily have said, "I want single payer, I won't settle for anything less, and on that basis I'm voting Nay on invoking cloture to end the GOP filibuster of President Obama's bill."

On December 23, 2009, the vote on cloture was 60-39. Cloture requires a minimum of 60 affirmative votes. The bill just barely scraped by. If Bernie had voted Nay he would have strangled the ACA in its cradle.

This has been a message from the Department of Looking at the Actual Goddamn Record. We now return you to your regularly scheduled flame war.

August 24, 2017

Question about the 2020 race

My question is about rules and procedures, not a specific candidate, although it’s triggered by some DUers’ animosity toward Bernie Sanders.

A frequently recurring view on DU is that the DNC shouldn’t have let Bernie run in 2016, because he’s not a Democrat, and should bar him in 2020. This seems to assume that there was a DNC vote to allow him, but I never read about anything like that.

It’s my impression that primaries are governed by the states. Each state with a primary has its own laws about ballot access (filing fee, petition signatures, whatever). The DNC doesn’t control those laws.

The DNC could conceivably decide to play hardball: “We demand that every state adopt legislation to exclude from its primary ballot anyone who’s not a registered Democrat. If any state fails to comply, we won’t seat delegates from that state at the 2020 convention.” That would be seen by many as excessive. Furthermore, in Republican-controlled states like Texas or Ohio, the GOP would be delighted to defy this rule. Then, in races up and down the ballot, the Republican candidates would be saying, “The Democratic Party wouldn’t even admit our state’s representatives at their convention.” That would hurt a lot of downticket Democrats.

There’s also a real question about whether, if push came to shove, the DNC would be willing to punish an entire state. Note that, in 2008, Florida and Michigan violated DNC rules about the scheduling of the primary. The DNC ruled that their delegates would not be seated, then it sort of relented and seated them with half a vote each, then it ultimately caved completely and imposed no penalty.

There are some technical questions about how a no-non-Democrats policy could be enforced. What about candidates from states (like, ahem, Vermont) that don’t have partisan registration? What if a group of registered Democrats want to run for delegate slots as “Unpledged” while letting it be known that they like Bernie or some other candidate whom the DNC regards as unclean? How would caucuses, as opposed to primaries, be affected?

The important issue, though, is whether the DNC could actually do what some DUers keep calling for. Frankly, it seems to me that people are vindictively lashing out at Bernie without thinking through what they propose. Am I missing something? I’d be glad to be enlightened about the mechanics of this idea.

April 25, 2017

The hypocrisy of the latest round of Bernie-bashing

In almost all American elections, only two candidates – the Democrat and the Republican – have any realistic chance of winning. A thoughtful citizen will usually have disagreements with each of them on one or more issues. Some people take the pragmatic course of supporting the candidate who’s better overall, even if not perfect. Others say “the lesser evil is still evil”; refusing to vote for a candidate with whom they disagree, they stay home or vote for a no-hoper minor-party candidate.

Bernie Sanders faced this situation. He came down on the side of the pragmatists. He voiced his support for the Democratic nominee because he looked at the Republican and said, “We’ve got to keep that guy out.”

Did he do the right thing?

Well, here’s where the hypocrisy comes in. Some of the loudest pro-Hillary people on this board are now spewing vitriol at Bernie because he’s supporting a Democratic nominee with whom he’s not in complete agreement, while ignoring that he did exactly the same thing by supporting Hillary last fall.

The hypocrisy is compounded with intellectual dishonesty, as they pretend that support for the Democratic nominee means deprecating the issue of reproductive rights. My view, and I think Bernie’s view, is that reproductive rights are important. So are issues of war and peace, international trade, economic inequality, etc. That all these issues are important doesn’t change the problem I described in the first paragraph: Sometimes, the choice is between two candidates, neither of whom is perfect on all important issues, but one of whom is better than the other overall.

People like Bernie and me voted for Hillary despite our major disagreements with her. That doesn’t mean that we suddenly decided those issues were unimportant. It means only that the Democrat was better than the Republican.

February 28, 2017

Does an alerter see the results of the alert?

I've alerted only a few times, but my recollection is that I was told of the disposition -- at least once it was that someone else had already alerted so my alert was a nullity, and at least once I was sent all the jurors' votes and comments.

I alerted this week but I've heard nothing. Has the procedure of notifying an alerter been changed?

Profile Information

Name: Jim Lane
Gender: Male
Hometown: Jersey City
Member since: Fri Nov 12, 2004, 10:22 AM
Number of posts: 11,175

About Jim Lane

I spend most of my online time on Wikipedia, where we desperately need more people to help counter right-wing bias. Please PM me whenever you want help with a Wikipedia-related issue. (Remember that Wikipedia material must be neutral, but we can and should include facts that conservatives would prefer to suppress.)

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