From The Archives -- Celebrate The Fourth -- Pursue Some Happiness!

[ Posted Thursday, July 4th, 2019 – 18:54 UTC ]

[Originally published July 4, 2007]


We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

-- Preamble to the Declaration of Independence


That line will be widely quoted across this land today, in parks and bandstands, on radio and in newsprint, from California to the New York islands, in countless big-city parades and from a myriad of small-town gazebos.

The more serious-minded of these proclaimers will go on to read the entire text of the Declaration which began the idea of the United States of America. It's an interesting text to read, and if you haven't read it since Junior High, I certainly encourage you to do so. There are obvious parallels in the deprivations of King George III which may sound uncomfortably apt today, for various reasons.

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Trump Fails To Deliver On Coal Promises

[ Posted Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019 – 16:48 UTC ]

For King Canute, it was the relentless tides that proved greater than royal decree. For Donald Trump, there are many examples of how reality has simply not matched up to his grandiose promises to personally make everything better for his base. The financial devastation hitting farmers is the most obvious, but there's a new contender for "biggest broken promise to people who overwhelmingly voted for Trump," and that is the people employed by the coal industry.

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From The Archives -- Happy Independence Day!

[ Posted Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019 – 16:22 UTC ]

Program Note:

For roughly the next two weeks, columns here at are going to become rather sporadic. The reason for this interruption in service is that it is Netroots Nation time, once again. This year we'll be in Philadelphia, and hopefully we'll see a whole bunch of the presidential contenders address the convention. So it should be a good one.

But what this also means is that I cannot commit to posting new columns for the entirety of next week. I may get inspired, but the real stumbling block is finding the time to write and edit, so if the past is any prologue, the whole week may go by without any new columns at all. Just to warn everyone in advance. I will try to get some column repeats ready to go before I leave, so at least there will be something to check out here while I'm gone, but I can't even 100 percent promise that, at this point.

What I am going to mightily try to do is to get together a Friday Talking Points for the end of this week. To do this, though, I'm running an old column today and will also be running a repeat on Independence Day as well. Tomorrow, I will likely comment on Trump hijacking the best Washington D.C. celebration day of the year, because it is so odious for him to do so.

In any case, my apologies for the interruption in service over the next two weeks. New columns will likely resume either Monday the 15th of July, or by Tuesday for certain. Thanks to everyone for their patience during my annual pilgrimage to the gathering of the lefty tribes.

Please enjoy the following column, which was written in 2012, long before the term "fake news" began to be bandied about. I mention this only because if I wrote the article today, I would surely be tempted to use this term several times while drafting it.


Originally published July 2, 2012

Happy Second of July, everyone! Happy Independence Day!

Now, you may be thinking: "Has Chris gone bonkers? Why is he jumping the gun, two days early?" The answers to these important queries are: No, Chris has not gone any more bonkers than usual; and, in fact, the rest of you are celebrating a fictitious event on a fictitious anniversary date. So there.

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Two Women Won The Debates

[ Posted Monday, July 1st, 2019 – 17:18 UTC ]

The poll numbers are starting to trickle in, and what is becoming apparent is that women won both nights of last week's first round of 2020 Democratic presidential debates. The first night belonged to Elizabeth Warren (which was exactly as expected), and Kamala Harris won the second night (which came as much more of a surprise). In the first presidential debates in history with multiple women onstage, these two ladies outperformed the gentlemen, hands down. It wasn't even close.

That is good news for the two candidates, but it is also good news for the overall state of American politics and good news for the Democratic Party. Women -- both suburban women and women of color -- provided the decisive edge in the 2018 midterm victory, meaning currently they are the most important demographic in the Democratic coalition. Having two women emerge victorious from the first debates means those voters are being represented quite well, which bodes well for the 2020 general election and beyond.

Snap polls taken right after the debates showed that Harris and Warren were both surging in the electability and favorability categories, much more so than anyone else sharing the stage with them. Two other major polls just out show that Joe Biden is losing ground while Kamala Harris is gaining a lot of ground, probably at his expense. The results were more mixed for the other two candidates polling in the double digits, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. But what has become clear that for roughly the next month (until the next debates happen, that is), this group of four can now all be considered the frontrunners.

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The First Democratic Debate (Round 2)

[ Posted Friday, June 28th, 2019 – 18:12 UTC ]

Last night was the second of two nights of the first 2020 Democratic presidential debates, which showcased another ten candidates on stage sparring with each other. And it certainly lived up to its "adult table" billing, since Thursday night was a lot more high-energy than the previous night. There were fireworks, there was shouting, and there were a few punches landed. In other words, a good time was had by all (all the pundits watching, that is).

I'd like to make a few general observations before getting into each candidates' performance. What struck me most was the volume of the second debate night. Bernie Sanders, of course, shouted out a lot of his answers. He always does, so this was no surprise. What was surprising was that almost every other candidate matched Bernie's decibel count at some point or another, even the mildest of them. Obviously, they were all told to "show passion" on the stage, and most of them managed to do so without appearing too contrived. Not only were a lot of the candidates' answers loud, they all also talked as fast as they could to get as much as possible into their 60-second answers. This was also much more noticeable than the quieter pace of the previous night.

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The First Democratic Debate (Round 1)

[ Posted Thursday, June 27th, 2019 – 17:07 UTC ]

Along with millions of other Americans, I watched the first round of the first Democratic 2020 presidential debates last night. Although there were a few standout moments, the general impression I was left with was that any one of the people on that stage would do a much better job leading the country than the current occupant of the Oval Office. Of course, I could probably say the same thing about any random 10 people stopped on the street -- or even Michael Moore's ficus plant candidate -- so that's not really saying a whole lot. But it was indeed, as one late-night host pointed out later in the evening, sincerely refreshing to hear adults discuss the issues of the day in complete sentences, full paragraphs, and intelligent language without once resorting to playground bullying or other nasty taunts. In other words, it felt like a return to normalcy just to see them all up there.

NBC, perhaps eager to balance the crowd behind the podiums (podia?), had two tag-teams of moderators, three for the first hour and two for the second. This was rather disjointed, but other than microphone problems during the handover, it worked well enough. They tried a few things out (asking candidates to raise their hands if they agreed with a few issues), and generally asked intelligent questions.

Where the moderators fell down on the job was in reining unruly candidates in. Bill De Blasio was the most notable offender in this regard, jumping in on any old question he felt like answering. During the first hour, he was not constrained by the moderators in the slightest, as they just let him get away with stealing the spotlight. Other candidates eventually picked up on this laxity and began inserting themselves into random questions on their own. Now, this might not have mattered with a smaller debate field, but with ten people on the stage, it was essentially robbing some of the candidates of their allotted time. I haven't seen a breakdown of who got the most time, but I'd be willing to bet that De Blasio got more than his fair share. Rachel Maddow and Chuck Todd were better at shutting this sort of line-jumping down, but they still allowed more of it than I would have liked.

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Illinois Becomes 11th State To Legalize Marijuana

[ Posted Wednesday, June 26th, 2019 – 15:30 UTC ]

Illinois just became the eleventh state in the country to legalize recreational marijuana for its citizens. When added to Washington D.C., this means that 23.5 percent of the country's jurisdictions have now fully legalized marijuana. The tide has obviously now turned on what used to be an unthinkable political concept.

Illinois is notable because they passed this new law through their legislature, rather than via a ballot initiative. This means that politicians are getting more comfortable with the concept, and they no longer have to live in fear of being punished at the ballot box for not being tough enough on crime. This more than anything else fueled the War On Weed through its darkest decades (the 1980s and 1990s). Republicans successfully painted Democrats as being weak on law-and-order issues, and Democrats reacted by trying to appear the toughest drug warriors around. You can argue that the culmination of this downward spiral was the 1994 crime bill -- the same one that Joe Biden is going to have to try to defend later tonight -- but we're going to leave debate analysis until tomorrow for now.

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We Really Need A Right-To-Vote Constitutional Amendment

[ Posted Tuesday, June 25th, 2019 – 17:18 UTC ]

Today, Elizabeth Warren announced her prescription for fixing American elections. Like other Democratic presidential candidates' plans, it would usher in sweeping changes to the way Americans vote and the way their elections are administered, by essentially nationalizing the elections process. But, as with many other such plans, even this doesn't really go far enough. Because what is truly needed is a new constitutional amendment that overhauls our wildly out-of-date elections system from top to bottom.

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Heading Into The First Debates

[ Posted Monday, June 24th, 2019 – 17:01 UTC ]

It looks like I spoke too soon when I declared the Democratic field for was complete, as we now have yet another entrant -- Joe Sestak -- whose chances of winning the nomination are about as good as being struck by lightning while simultaneously winning the lottery. Officially he becomes the (are you sitting down?) twenty-sixth Democrat to run for president. Most only count the 25 people who are currently running, but we scrupulously have to add in to our total the one candidate (Richard Ojeda) who has already officially dropped out.

But of course, the real attention this week will be on the 20 candidates who have qualified for the first round of nationally-televised debates. So Sestak will have to wait on the sidelines with Steve Bullock, Seth Moulton, Mike Gravel, and Wayne Messam, the other four candidates who didn't make the first cut.

While things may change if any of the minor candidates (the ones polling at one percent or less) has their magic breakout moment during the first debates, currently there are only seven candidates who seem to have any sort of chance at all, if the polling is correct. No polls have been released in the past few days, which usually means the pollsters will all release their most recent polls right before the big debate event, to set a "before" benchmark. This could be important, because there have been developments for several of these candidates in the past week which have not had a chance to show up in the polling yet.

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Friday Talking Points -- Dragging Up Dead Racists

[ Posted Friday, June 21st, 2019 – 17:49 UTC ]

Joe Biden drew a huge target on himself this week, with his comments on getting along with stone-cold racists in the United States Senate. Conservative commenter Ana Navarro perhaps best summed up Biden's error, criticizing him for "dragging up these dead racists instead of talking about the live racists."

Biden's gaffe came at an inopportune time for him, seeing as how the first Democratic debates are now less than a week away. All the other candidates had been struggling with whether to attack Biden next week, since he is so well-beloved by Democratic voters. Biden is the clear frontrunner in the race at this point, regularly polling many multiples of the numbers of almost all the other candidates (excepting perhaps Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, whom Biden only outpolls by a factor of two). It was tough, before Biden stepped in it, for the other candidates to develop any debate strategy for taking Biden down a peg. But that just got a whole lot easier, due to Biden's own words.

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