2020 Democratic Primary Dynamics Will Be Different

[ Posted Wednesday, February 20th, 2019 – 18:17 UTC ]

When looking ahead to the 2020 Democratic primaries, many pundits are suffering from a lack of imagination. Either that, or they just don't remember the 2016 Republican primary race, for some reason. Because unlike the last two close-fought Democratic primary seasons (in 2016 and 2008), this time around it will not be a binary process. There will not be a single frontrunner challenged by a single underdog. The field is already too big for that to happen. What this means in practical terms -- the thing that most haven't grappled with -- is that the winner of the early primaries and caucuses could win not with a majority of the votes but with a smallish plurality of the votes. Even winning 30 percent might be enough, with so many others in the race splitting the remaining votes among them.

How this will play out has yet to be determined. But my guess is that it could mirror the 2016 Republican primary season in a fundamental way. One frontrunner may emerge while the others fight for votes and dilute the anti-frontrunner total. This is how Donald Trump won the GOP nomination, after all.

Continue Reading »

Bernie's In

[ Posted Tuesday, February 19th, 2019 – 18:19 UTC ]

Will American voters "feel the Bern" in 2020? We're soon going to find out the answer to that question, since Senator Bernie Sanders just announced he'll be making a second run for the Democratic presidential nomination. To mix a few pyrotechnical metaphors, Bernie certainly caught fire once, but the question is whether lightning will strike twice for him again.

Before we get to assessing Bernie's chances for success, though, we've got to examine how his announcement helps define the Democratic field, so far. Bernie becomes the tenth serious entry in the Democratic race, with a number of possible candidates still waiting on the sidelines. I should also mention before I begin that Senator Amy Klobuchar also announced her candidacy since the last time I reviewed the Democratic field. So how do they all stack up so far? For the time being, I'm going to separate the candidates into three tiers, based solely on name recognition (which is about all we've got to go on so far).

Continue Reading »

Truman's Supreme Court Ruling On Emergency Powers

[ Posted Monday, February 18th, 2019 – 18:48 UTC ]

First of all, happy Presidents' Day to everyone!

Well, of course, I should say "everyone in states such as Hawai'i, Massachusetts, and Texas" and all the others who officially apostrophize the plural. To those living in California, Alaska, and George's own namesake state of Washington, we would have to wish a happy President's Day to you. To occupants of Michigan and New Jersey, we bid you all a happy Presidents Day. And we'd have to individually wish all the other variations, but instead we'll just go with our favorite and wish everyone in Arkansas a happy "George Washington's Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day!" We wrote at length upon this chaos a few years back, while also pointing out that George Washington wasn't actually born on George Washington's Birthday (just for fun).

Continue Reading »

Friday Talking Points -- Trump Throws His Biggest Hissy Fit Yet

[ Posted Friday, February 15th, 2019 – 18:28 UTC ]

Emergency! Ahh! Everybody run!

Sigh. Well, here we are. Not only has Donald Trump become the first president to order the military to do essentially nothing just to make a political point (see: midterms 2018, border deployment), he has now become the first president to declare a national emergency because he made a political promise he just couldn't keep. He couldn't keep it because -- counter to his own self-portrayal as a dealmaking genius -- Donald Trump is such a terrible dealmaker that he couldn't even get a Republican Congress to give him what he wanted, for two whole years. And if that isn't a national emergency, then what is?

Let's just take a moment to quickly review how we got here. Donald Trump began his presidential campaign warning about the flood of evil brown people who were coming to rape and murder us all in our own beds. He boiled this down into one call-and-response phrase to use at his rallies:

"Build the wall!"

"Who is going to pay for it?"


Once sworn into office, he immediately signed an executive order calling for his wall to be built. This was meaningless, of course, and the wall didn't get built. Trump also, in his first call to Mexico's leader, tried to strongarm him into giving him a bunch of money so he could claim he made good on his campaign promise to make Mexico pay for his wall. The Mexican president essentially laughed at Trump's suggestion. This was about when all talk of having Mexico foot the bill ended, for Trump, who conveniently threw that notion down the memory hole.

Continue Reading »

Taking A Look At The Green New Deal

[ Posted Thursday, February 14th, 2019 – 18:09 UTC ]

Freshman Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has unveiled her first legislative effort, the "Green New Deal" resolution. The rollout was a little rocky, with some rookie mistakes made. But putting all that aside, I thought it'd be worthwhile to take a look at the actual text of the resolution itself. It's already being demonized by Republicans in a way not seen since the "death panels" demonization of Obamacare, so it's important to see what is actually in it, rather than the caricature of it that its opponents are already creating.

The actual text of the resolution begins by laying out the problems in some detail. It explains why climate change should be a governmental priority, and offers up the solution that we need to act as decisively as we acted during World War II and the Great Depression. Here's just one representative excerpt to sum the introduction up:

Continue Reading »

A New Political Scale For Democrats

[ Posted Wednesday, February 13th, 2019 – 18:00 UTC ]

Do we need new labels to adequately describe the Democratic Party's ever-widening 2020 presidential field -- and, beyond, to more accurately describe the factions currently at play within the party at large? Because when most everyone agrees on the goals but differs mainly on the tactics that should be used to get there (or how fast we should try to get there), this doesn't really fit the old "leftist-versus-centrist" political scale at all anymore.

It's an interesting question to ask, but I hadn't given it much thought until now. I was recently directed by a reader to an interesting New York Times article written by Jamelle Bouie, which made the case for looking at the party through a new political lens. He makes the point that calling some Democrats "liberal" versus those who are "moderate" or "centrist" doesn't really capture the nuances of their very real differences about what direction the country should go in next. Or, to be even more accurate, the differences in how we should go about moving towards goals that most Democrats actually agree upon.

Continue Reading »

Trail Of Smears

[ Posted Tuesday, February 12th, 2019 – 17:55 UTC ]

Today I experienced one of those rare times when I had in mind what I wanted to write, and then I read somebody else's article and it made pretty much all the points I was going to make (with some of them made better than I could have). This kind of takes the wind out of one's sails, it should be noted. So what I'm left with is mere commentary around the edges of the issue.

The article I'm referring to was written by Bob Cesca and it appeared in Salon. It was titled "Scandal Double Standard: Democrats Pay The Price For Every Misdeed While The GOP Skates." I encourage everyone to read it in full, because it's worth your time. It covers more than the one "scandal" I was thinking about writing about today, but it does such a good job there that it's worth a long excerpt:

Continue Reading »

The Taxman Cometh

[ Posted Monday, February 11th, 2019 – 17:33 UTC ]

Tax filing season is underway, and the process of millions of Americans understanding the brand-new tax code and tax forms has now begun. So far, it doesn't seem to be going particularly well. Stories are appearing in the media about people being shocked and surprised that things have changed. Some will be pleasantly surprised, but they're not the ones the stories have been written about. Because for many, this year's tax season is going to mean they either get a much smaller refund or that they actually owe additional taxes, when they were used to getting an annual refund. This is bad financial news for any family, but it also points out how skewed most people's general thinking is on income taxes.

By this, I am not referring to the ideological or partisan debates over taxes, but rather the practical nuts-and-bolts way we go about paying our income taxes in this country. In other words, Trump supporters and Bernie supporters alike will probably have the same reaction, because most people focus on the wrong thing when thinking about their own taxes.

Continue Reading »

Friday Talking Points -- Trump's Big Speech, And A Virginia Meltdown

[ Posted Friday, February 8th, 2019 – 18:52 UTC ]

It's been an eventful week, with Trump's second State Of The Union speech and Virginia politics entering complete free-fall. Democrats in the House began work in earnest this week as well, on both the legislative and investigative fronts. Also, there are now some new Boondocks comics! So the week was anything but dull, although it was a bit disjointed.

President Donald Trump gave his second State Of The Union speech this week, in which he flat-out threatened the United States economy if Democrats had the temerity to investigate him. Here are the two relevant passages, from the transcript:

Continue Reading »

Presidential Assment? Har!

[ Posted Thursday, February 7th, 2019 – 17:30 UTC ]

President Donald Trump is not a happy camper. This was plain to see in his morning tweetstorm, where he finally realizes that he did not, in fact, win the 2018 midterm election. There has been a transfer of power in the House of Representatives, and Trump is finally waking up to what this is going to mean for both him personally and for his administration. Most normal politicians would have cottoned onto this basic fact over three months ago, but Trump is anything but normal.

He expressed his shock and anger at the prospect of Democratic-led congressional investigations in typical Trumpian fashion -- in other words, tweeting in all caps: "PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!"

In begging to differ with Trump's assessment, I accidentally coined a new word. Here is my dictionary definition of the new term, which I hope everyone will soon start using as many times as necessary:

(1) accusing others of harassment when you are guilty of harassing them.
(2) revealing voluntarily to the world that you are an ass.
[synonym for (2): BECLOWN]

Of course, by changing HARASSMENT to just ASSMENT, we'll have one syllable left over, so allow us to dispense with a few of these, in direct response to Trump's claims of "presidential harassment": HAR HAR HAR!!!

Continue Reading »