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AvatarComments by Saul Degraw in reply to Chip Daniels*

On “The Socialism of Bernie Sanders

The word socialism is an interesting because it produces extreme reactions. I think a lot but not all of those are based on age. For people of a certain generation, socialism will always be Leninism regardless of any fact or evidence to the contrary. But the reason I think younger voters do not feel this way is because of how much chicken littleling has been done for socialism.

On “Ryan Adams, Fandom, and Tolerating Bad Behavior

Maybe the problem is having idols in general? Humans are humans no matter what they achieve or what they do not achieve. And all humans are capable of a wide-range of behaviors including not great to very bad stuff. The issue with popular music broadly is that a lot of it is still about the appeal of not giving a fuck, being a rebel, and anti-authoritarian regardless of the genre. This has been more or less true since the 1950s. Maybe before. Maybe way before.

In a similar but not as bad vein, Chrissy Hynde broke the hearts of a bunch of fans last week for saying nice things about bloated bigot Rush Limbaugh:

Now I like a lot of Pretenders songs but Chrissy Hynde was never a role model to me but it is clear that the author of this article got a great deal personally out of Chrissy Hynde's bad ass/I don't give a fuck performances and is heart broken to see that such an attitude lead Chrissy Hynde to a different place than it lead the author politically.

On “From Fox News: Bernie Sanders projected to win Nevada caucuses

Adding to this is that the parties are also highly federalized and decentralized plus other aspects of the American system that make it impossible to have the shorter elections you see in Parliamentary systems. Americans always know when the election will be. The First Amendment makes it nearly if not completely impossible to smack down on people from announcing candidacies early. Trying to get the horse race press from covering it too early is a prior restraint.

On “Sunday Morning! “Four Souls” by Louise Erdrich

Yesterday I saw Gatz at Berkeley Rep as performed by Elevatir Repair Service. You can’t call it an adaptation because the text is every word of the Great Gatsby including “he said” and “she said.”

The performance starts in a low rent office building that looks like it is from the 1990s. There are still type writers. The one computer is clunky. They have filing space filled with banker’s boxes. A man can’t get his computer to work, he finds a copy of Thr Great Gatsby in a Rolodex and begins reading out loud. His office mates eventually become the characters. A sporty woman in a polo shirt and sneakers becomes Jordan Baker. The elegant blonde who tries to dress a bit nicer than everyone else becomes Daisy. The reader is of course Nick. The bullying ex-jock with rolled up sleeves becomes Tom.

It was wonderful and showed that a lot of the text in the Great Gatsby is intentionally funny. Really, really funny.

Still the evening begins at 2 and ends at 10:45 and 2.5 hours of breaks is not quite enough.

On “The Market is Eating Capitalism

There was a story I saw this week inn Vox I think about how Wal-Mart needed to pay 13 billion dollars in dividends in its most recent fiscal year and Amazon paid zero in dividends. Jeff Bezos was somehow able to convince investors that it is good to take profits and reinvest them in the company and new ventures.

The "shareholder value" theory is enshrined in Delaware law where many corporations are incorporated but I think the big issue with the short-term strategy is that it seems enshrined in the outsized way finance pays in economic life.

On “About Last Night: Democratic Debate Live From Las Vegas

North, lots of rank and file Democrats like Sanders even those who might prefer one of the moderate candidates get the nomination:

I think any Democrats chance of winning is about as good or bad as any other including Sanders. He is not going down in a Mondale or McGovern level of defeat. The people who dislike him have a centrist bias:

"The other reason Democratic insiders disproportionately oppose Sanders is that party elites and the journalists with whom they interact tend to distrust radicals of any stripe. “A quarter-century covering national politics has convinced me that the more pervasive force shaping coverage of Washington and elections is what might be thought of as centrist bias, flowing from reporters and sources alike,” the former Politico editor John Harris recently observed. “This bias is marked by an instinctual suspicion of anything suggesting ideological zealotry, an admiration for difference-splitting.” Pundits may not always express this fear of extremism as openly as MSNBC’s Chris Matthews did earlier this month, when his discussion of Sanders’s candidacy morphed into a broader indictment of socialism and of unspecified people who, Matthews said, would have cheered on “executions in Central Park” had “the Reds had won the Cold War.” But the centrist bias that Harris describes skews elite perceptions of public opinion. It keeps party and media insiders from recognizing that Bloomberg, a former Republican now running as a centrist, is a far more divisive figure among ordinary Democrats than the putatively radical Sanders."


Apparently the Trump rally Jaybird was invited to falls under batshit insane even by Trump's syphilitic standards:


1. I suspect Bloomberg will not get the nomination.

2. The overwhelming majority of people do not vote on policy. They vote on personality largely. This is true across parties. Trump's personality repulses me but it is clearly a positive for many Republicans. People are also heavily influenced by advertising and Bloomberg's 60 billion can buy a lot of it and not dent his fortune that much. According to my brother, a family friend has Sanders as her first choice and Klobuchar as her second. If people thought about policy that makes no sense. It would be like a Republican in 2016 deeclaring themselves for Trump and then Jeb!

2a. Lots of Democrats really hate Trump and want him gone. More so than Bush II in my opinion. How to achieve this is anyone's guess and people are being seduced by Bloomberg's fortune in that way. He is an actual billionaire who created a real company. As opposed to Trump who probably has negative net worth and some kind of neurological decline condition. Possibly syphilis combined with dementia.


Is it too little to late for Warren? Nevada and South Carolina are happening soon and Super Tuesday is two weeks away. Granted that Bill Clinton in 1992 was the last person with a slow built momentum but this primary cycle might be an exception to current rules. The whole 2020 election is going to upend a lot of traditional narratives on politics one way or another.

What I find perplexing is that everyone is sticking to traditional methods of evaluating a race even though anything involving "Donald Trump is President of the United States and running for reelection" should indicate that traditional factors should at least be given a grain of salt. These are supposed to be intelligent people with graduate degrees and they are still saying "Well if the economy is good and this and that...." Let's look at the fact that Donald Trump spent his post-impeachment weeks doing all the things that normally give him a brief rise in polling and then a crash. Just like 2017-2019.

You could be right. 538 has Warren at a 1 in 100 chance of cinching the nomination but Silver is usually worse with primary predictions than general election ones. But the view of actual Democrats seems to be that Bloomberg was pummeled and Warren was on fire last night.

I concede that Warren's base is probably more for intensity than actual numbers within the party and I am part of her core base.

On “Wednesday Writs: Silkwood Showers and Plutonium Flowers Edition

As much as I dislike the Smith decision, I don't think this is a great case for overturning it.


An interesting thing about the Silkwood case is that it the majority was a strange bedfellows coalition of: White, Rehinquist, Brennan, O'Connor, and Stevens. The dissenting opinions were by Blackmun, Marshall, Powell, and Burger.

On “Gone With the Wind: The Great American Feminist Novel

There are lots of great Feminist novels that are not written with sympathy for the war of treason in defense of slavery. This seems more about not wanting to abandon something and working backwards to find the evidence to support the conclusion.


The problem is not Scarlet O’Hara but that the author of the book is clearly racist.

On “Very Stable Genius Predictions


Sanders is leading in California and Texas:


Submitted without comment but somehow Elizabeth Warren does best against Bernie Sanders in a head to head assuming a two-person Democratic primary:


There has been one caucus and one primary. Despite hardcore online Berniestans, the overwhelming majority for Democrats have already expressed “vote blue, no matter who” for November.

I think “Dems in disarray” is basically a showing of elephant undies to be honest.


I think there are elements of truth to this but I also think older black voters are more socially conservative than younger black voters. I am honestly kind of pissed at psychological speculation when people you like make decisions you disapprove of. The same thing was happening when black voters went for Biden instead of Warren and Sanders. What is wrong with just admitting that older black voters might be actually moderate instead of radical reformists?

It is just as bad as false consciousness as an explanation for working class people not voting communist. It is a balm to console the writer or speaker that people disagree with him or her.

A good ideology can wrestle with its short comings openly.


Bloomberg has 60 billion and can spend lots of money going after Trump and appealing to minority voters in Super Tuesday states. Plus he has more experience than Buttigieg in politics for moderate voters and with a larger city.

Will it work? We need to wait until March 3rd to see.



1. There has only been one caucus and one primary.

2. There hasn’t been a brokered convention in decades.

3. Buttigieg has the lead for actual delegates.

4. I get that following twitter is cheap and easy but the very online are not a majority.

5. I suspect a lot of Sanders supporters are generally not loyal Democrats.

6. That being said if Sanders has a significant plurality of the votes like 40-49 percent by the convention, he should get the nomination.


538 tells me that Trump has a 52.2 percent disapproval rating and a 43.3 percent approval rating. These numbers have been consistent through out his administration give or take a point here or there. He has never to my knowledge gotten close to a 50 percent approval rating. His disapproval rating is a bit up from what it was earlier this week and last week.

Yet horserace pundits and people who want to be horserace pundits seem to think that his approval rating is going to rocket past 50 percent any day now. This assumes a lot of facts that are frankly not in evidence. I really don't understand this assumption. Donald Trump has always been massively unpopular. Maybe Jesse is right, there is something about a lot of the commentary here that makes every election since 2016 not count or disappear.

All 47 Democrats in the Senate voted for impeachment. This includes Democratic Senators from reddish to very red states like Doug Jones, Kristen Sinema, and Joe Manchin. It is was a remarkable showing of party unity and I think most Democrats knew that impeachment was not going to happen but supported it anyway because it was the right thing to do considering Trump's actions and corruption. Do you think Susan Collins and Cory Gardner are going to survive in reelection because of their votes against impeachment?

Yes Trump is being an emboldened authoritarian because he was not convicted by the Senate but this always causes his popularity to decrease, not increase.

Help me understand why you think Trump's popularity is actually rising to significant levels. What does it take to break the Dems in Disarray cliché?

On “About Last Night: Leaving New Hampshire Edition

What does Klobuchar offer to any voter under 55 and/or any voter who is not economically secure? During one of the last pre-Iowa debates she made a point about how there is going to be a shortage of nursing assistants. I think she gave a five figure number. The problem is that this point was made during a question on student debt and college tuition affordability. What she neglected to say is that nursing assistants make very little money, work long hours, and generally do not have great benefits. There was a strong implication of "Millennials and Generation Z, you will just need to suck it." If she discussed unionization during that point, it would have been better.

Obama in 2008 was Yes, we can. Klobuchar in 2020 seems to be "Hell no, we can't." Again, I will crawl over broken glass to vote for her but Bloomberg of all people seems to be running a more progressive campaign than Klobuchar.


Are you talking about Jordan Weismann's piece? I thought the major point was trying to thread the needle between Sanders' universal healthcare supporters and professionals who like her wonkiness.


1. I will give this to political twitter, they predictably saw that Biden's polling was a mirage based on name recognition. According to Chait, Biden has never finished higher than 4th in any primary during his various attempts at the Presidency. Somehow his defeat in 2008, got him promoted to VP and he was a good VP for Obama. Biden was too senior for anyone to tell him no but not senior enough to get a lot of endorsements.

2. Chait is also concerned that the Bernie storm is going to lead to a McGovern or Mondale style defeat. I am not certain based on polling and a lot of Chait's hyperventilation is because he thinks Bernie is too far to the left and he admits it. If Bernie gets the nomination, I am going to crawl over glass to vote for him. Same with any other Democratic nominee. That being said, I don't thin Chait's predicition is true. The demographics of the voting public are very different than 1972, 1984, or even 2008. Plus Trump is massively unpopular and seems to be going back to not helping himself because of his authoritarian rage.

3. Poor Warren. My very small solace is that Bill Clinton apparently did not win any primaries or caucuses until March in 1992's primary cycle. This is a small solace. She is probably not going to be the nominee.

4. College-educated women apparently fled to Klobuchar and Buttigieg in New Hampshire. I still don't get the appeal of Klobuchar. She seems to be the candidate of "No we can't have nice things." Proposing lowering eligibility on Medicare to 55 is good but I hate the fact that the United States is seemingly a country where if you are under 55, no one pitches anything to you. Sanders and Warren at least are more robust in their policy proposals for all Americans. Even when it came to student debt relief, Klobuchar began talking about how we need more nursing assistants and home health aides and ignored the fact that those jobs pay poorly with bad conditions and long hours. Her whole view seems to be that late Generation Xers and Millennials just need to suck it up with worse jobs, less pay, and fewer benefits. But if she is the nominee, I will crawl over broken glass to vote for her.

4. Bloomberg appears to be playing a very smart ground game. I like his environmentalism. Plus I think he can get under Trump's skin easily as an actual self-made billionaire. I am not enthused because of his previous contempt for the Democratic Party. I wonder how many Bloomberg-curious voters are attracted to him because of his wealth and his ability to go after the right-wing dark money machine. Political twitter is sputtering at him right now.

5. Steyer is apparently polling at 18-19 percent. What is up with that?

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