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Bernie Sanders' subtle warning to the Democratic Party

General 1 hour ago

Bernie Sanders' subtle warning to the Democratic Party"Should the person with the most delegates at the end of this primary season be the nominee, even if they are short of a majority?"That was the final question to the panelists at the Democratic debate in Las Vegas, and it was a very appropriate one — as appropriate as the question asked of the Republican candidates in 2016 about whether they would support whoever the nominee was in the general election. Only one candidate in 2016 refused to say yes — Donald Trump. Bernie Sanders was the outlier last night as well — he was the only candidate this time to say yes — and it matters for the same reason.Cast your memory back to 2016. Why were Trump's rivals so reluctant for so long to attack him, when he was the frontrunner in the polls almost continuously from the moment he formally announced? One reason is that they knew he had a passionate following they didn't want to alienate — but Trump himself was in the best position to bring his supporters back into the fold if he lost. That's why Trump's refusal mattered. Trump was saying clearly that he had no loyalty to the Republican Party. If they attacked him frontally, he might attack the eventual nominee, or possibly even run as an independent, and thereby assure Hillary Clinton's victory. So they waited for his candidacy to deflate of its own accord. It wasn't until it was clear that was never going to happen that his surviving rivals proved willing to attack him, but by then it was too late.That's why Sanders' answer mattered as well. The prospects of no one winning a majority of delegates — once widely underestimated — are now widely recognized to be quite high. (FiveThirtyEight's model estimates the odds at 40 percent, slightly more likely than an outright Sanders victory.) In that circumstance, the various candidates will come to Milwaukee with their pledged delegates in tow, and on the first ballot nobody will win the nomination.That's when the horse-trading begins. On subsequent ballots, pledged delegates are no longer bound to vote for their pledged candidate. They will probably take their cues from that candidate about how to vote, though, which means other candidates can offer something of value — a VP slot, a place in the Cabinet, support for legislative priorities, or changes to the party platform — in exchange for their delegates' support. And they can also woo the so-called "superdelegates," party leaders who were never pledged to any candidate, and who cannot vote on the first ballot.By this means, a minority candidate could theoretically become the nominee. Let's say Sanders comes to the convention with 40 percent of the pledged delegates, Mike Bloomberg has 30 percent, and Pete Buttigieg has 15 percent. Bloomberg could offer to make Buttigieg his VP, taking his delegate count to 45 percent, and then use his own fortune — promising jobs on his campaign, financial support for their candidacies, contributions to their non-profits — to win over enough super delegates to put him over the top. That's the nightmare scenario that my colleague, Damon Linker, sketched in his recent column about the Democratic Party's institutional weakness, and it's precisely the scenario that Sanders wanted to foreclose by answering that the plurality delegate winner should win the nomination, full stop.Sanders has good self-interested reasons for taking his position; he is far more likely at this point to come into Milwaukee with a delegate plurality than any other candidate. But he's not by any means certain to do so. Consider the following alternative: Bloomberg comes into the convention with a delegate plurality of 32 percent, with Sanders at 30 percent, and some more conventional candidate — Biden, say, or Warren — at 25 percent. That's not an impossible scenario. Sanders might turn out to have a ceiling of support, and either Warren or Biden could parlay a better-than-expected showing in Nevada and/or South Carolina to a significant delegate haul on Super Tuesday. And states further along in the calendar — Georgia, Florida, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania — may be easier territory for Bloomberg or Biden to beat Sanders on than either lopsidedly-liberal California or heavily-Hispanic Texas. In that case, would Sanders want the convention to be bound to give Bloomberg the nomination?Perhaps he would; perhaps, in principle, he believes that the will of the voters should prevail. But in the second scenario sketched above, it's not at all clear that giving Bloomberg the nod would be respecting the will of the voters. The candidate with the most support may not be the ideal choice even of his own voters, merely the perceived best choice to defeat another loathed candidate. He could even be the candidate with the most opposition — indeed, he could be the absolute last choice of a majority under the right circumstances. If you want to find the candidate with the greatest consensus support, ranked choice voting is a much better (though still imperfect) method rather than simply giving the nod to the plurality winner.That's not the system the Democrats have (and the difficulties in Iowa suggest that they shouldn't be trying to make voting more complicated any time soon). Instead, they've got a system where, if no candidate wins a majority, the party gets to decide.So how should they decide? They have to consider which candidate would, in the abstract, have the best chance of winning in the general election, as well as helping down-ballot: who will best mobilize their side, who is least-likely to mobilize the other side, and who will win over the wavering middle. They also need to take seriously the possibility that failing to choose a particular candidate will alienate that candidate's supporters to the point that they don't vote or even defect in the general election — an especially likely prospect if that candidate actually was the plurality winner.That's why Sanders' comment matters. What he's saying is: My people are not just going to vote for the Democrat if you deny me the nomination at the convention. And I'm not going to help you convince them to do so.Is that what will actually happen? I suspect it depends on precisely which scenario comes true. If Sanders comes to the convention with a large plurality, clearly outdistancing the competition, I think the party would be insane to deny him the nomination. The damage they would incur by so doing far exceeds any possible risks of a Sanders candidacy.But if the result is more muddled, the case will be more muddled as well. If Sanders limps into Milwaukee with a narrow and small plurality, having lost most of the late contests and polling poorly against Trump, and there is a clear compromise candidate with wide support within the party and decent general election numbers, then Sanders risks being perceived as a hostage taker if he persists with his current line and denounces the convention as undemocratic. And if Bloomberg earns a narrow plurality, I suspect even Sanders would change his tune and push for a compromise candidate rather than supporting the pledged delegate leader.Right now, though, Sanders is laying down a marker to any candidates who are unlikely to accumulate a plurality of delegates. The longer the field stays big, the less likely it is that anyone gets a majority. If they can keep funding their candidacies, Biden, Warren, Klobuchar and Buttigieg could justify staying in even without hope of a plurality by saying that the convention could pick anyone and maybe they'll emerge as the compromise candidate. But the longer the field stays divided, the more likely it is that Sanders gets a plurality. So Sanders is warning them that if they stay in just to keep him from earning a majority, and then try to deny him the nomination, he'll tear the party apart. So at the point their chances of prevailing are over, they should get out.And with Bloomberg in the race, he's laying down another marker as well: That if the billionaire tries to tip the nomination at the convention to himself, or to any other non-Sanders candidate, he'll attack that effort for being a flagrant corruption of the democratic process. Which is not how anyone who cares about defeating Trump wants to kick off the general election campaign.Want more essential commentary and analysis like this delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for The Week's "Today's best articles" newsletter here.More stories from theweek.com How much will Medicare-for-all save Americans? A lot. The stunning Southern Baptist controversy over Donald Trump and Russell Moore, explained Friends reunion special officially announced for HBO Max


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Police: Couple forced boys off road, angered by Trump flags

General 6 hours ago

Police: Couple forced boys off road, angered by Trump flagsA northwestern Indiana couple allegedly used a car to force two teenage boys off a road, angered that the twin brothers were riding bicycles adorned with flags supporting President Donald Trump, before ripping one of the sibling’s flag from his bike, police said Friday. Hobart police said Snapchat videos helped officers secure charges against Kyren Gregory Perry-Jones, 23, and Cailyn Marie Smith, 18, in connection with a July 22 incident. Police Capt. James Gonzales said the Hobart couple are accused of driving in their car, running the 14-year-old boys off of the road, and making threats toward them.


Animal and Pet News

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Trump’s Fury at Intel Briefing Shows Putin’s Bet Keeps Paying Off

General 10 hours ago

Trump’s Fury at Intel Briefing Shows Putin’s Bet Keeps Paying OffIntelligence officials warned House lawmakers last week that Russia is interfering in the 2020 campaign to try to get President Donald Trump re-elected, The New York Times and The Daily Beast report. During the briefing to the House Intelligence Committee, Trump’s Republican allies reportedly challenged the conclusions of the intelligence community, arguing that under Trump the U.S. has been tough on Russia and strengthened European security.Russians Think Triumphant Trump Is More Their Man Than EverBut Russia’s state media—tightly controlled by the Kremlin—contradicts that assertion all the time. It has consistently conveyed the message that Trump’s election has proven exceedingly beneficial for the Kremlin.Indeed, Trump’s presidency is so valuable for Vladimir Putin that even “tough” sanctions are minor by comparison. The Chekist in the Kremlin is willing to make temporary sacrifices in order to keep such a disruptive figure in charge of the mightiest country in the world, and Russian state media repeatedly makes the point that Russia’s gamble will continue to pay off, since the Kremlin is holding, as it were, the trump card. Russian experts and pundits on state television frequently express their desire to see President Trump re-elected. Appearing on Russia’s popular state television news talk show 60 Minutes last October, political analyst Mikhail Sinelnikov-Orishak gushed: “I look at Trump and think: ‘May God grant him good health—and another term.’ This is a great situation for Russia… may he flourish and get re-elected… Trump is a great candidate. I applaud him… For America, this isn’t a very good president.”* * *POST-ELECTION CONCESSIONS* * *Once Trump is re-elected—which, according to Russian experts and pundits, is a fait accompli—they expect U.S. concessions on every front, from the removal of sanctions imposed after Putin annexed the Crimean Peninsula and backed a separatist war in Ukraine, to restoration of access to diplomatic compounds the U.S. seized after Russia’s effort to murder a defector in Britain.Appearing on a state TV show, The Evening With Vladimir Soloviev, last week, Russian politician Sergey Stankevich said Trump is “obligated” to accept Putin’s invitation to attend the Victory Day parade in Moscow this May. As he explained, “Trump owes us a serious debt… from back when he privately met with our president [Putin] in Helsinki one-on-one. They made a deal about creating working groups of entrepreneurs to discuss business, sanctions, de-escalating tensions, disarmaments, etc.” Russian state media has taken Trump’s side at every turn and fully supported him throughout the impeachment. Kremlin-controlled news media outed the Ukraine whistleblower, referred to the U.S. president affectionately as “Donald Ivanovych,” “Trumpushka,” and as an “agent” of the Kremlin. Normally, spymasters seek to shroud in secrecy their relations with those who wittingly or unwittingly serve their interests. But Russian state media openly gloats about the Kremlin’s influence over Trump, believing that he can endure the exposure without repercussions, and by flaunting the Kremlin’s sway with the White House, Russia further weakens U.S. democracy, which has always been one of its main pursuits.Appearing on The Evening With Vladimir Soloviev in March 2019, Karen Shakhnazarov, CEO of Mosfilm Studio, noted: “They say Trump is making Russia great. That’s basically accurate… The chaos brought by Trump into the American system of government is weakening the United States… So when they say that Trump is weakening the United States—yes, he is. And that’s why we love him… The more problems they have, the better it is for us.”* * *TARGETING BIDEN AND UKRAINE* * *Kremlin-controlled media offered their full-throated support for Trump’s pursuit of derogatory information that could be used to discredit former Vice President Joe Biden. State-television hosts not only helped to spread conspiracy theories about Biden and his son, but also threatened Ukraine, trying to push it toward complicity in Trump’s efforts. In November 2019, the host of Russian news talk show 60 Minutes, Evgeny Popov, warned: “If Trump gets re-elected, and you don’t investigate Biden… [Ukraine] won’t get anything from America. Not a thing.” Two months earlier, Dmitry Kiselyov, the host of Russia’s most popular Sunday news program Vesti Nedeli urged Trump to keep digging in Ukraine for “the sweetest” kompromat of all: “Proving that Ukraine—not Russia—interfered in the U.S. elections.”The resulting situation presents a boon for the Kremlin on multiple fronts: fraying confidence in the integrity of the U.S. elections and the rule of law in America, combined with the weakening of U.S. relations with Ukraine, as well as with other strategic partners and allies. The pursuit of “Biden dirt” is widely seen in Russia as a successful operation. Last week, pundits and experts on the Soloviev show described Joe Biden as a “political corpse,” openly hoped that Mike Bloomberg would run as a third-party candidate.* * *BERNIE BROS* * *They also said President Trump should wish the best of luck to presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, whose candidacy brings “nothing but joy” for the incumbent.Reporting for channel Rossiya-1’s Saturday News Show on Feb. 8, Valentin Bogdanov pegged Sanders as an ideal opponent who can be taken down easily by Trump. The host of the program, Sergey Brilyov, surmised that “Socialist Sanders” simply “can’t compete” with the current occupant of the White House. This month, Izvestia, which was formerly the newspaper of record in the Soviet Union, described Trump as “the only real contender” in the upcoming presidential election. Konstantin Blokhin, research fellow with the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, told Izvestia that in spite of his popularity, Sanders can’t win, because he is too old and too radical for most Americans.Appearing on The Evening With Vladimir Soloviev this month, political scientist Dmitry Evstafiev concluded that barring unforeseen circumstances, Trump “already won his re-election.” Last year, following the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report,  Popov, the 60 Minutes host, promised: “Soon, we will help you elect Trump once again. Just like the last time. Get ready!” After the conclusion of the impeachment hearings this month, Russian state television channel Rossiya-1 host Artyom Sheynin exclaimed: “Trump forever!” and asked: “Is America finished?”* * *HATE AMERICA, LOVE TRUMP* * *The continued pro-Trump tendencies of the Russian state media stand in sharp contrasted to its virulent anti-American propaganda. While the Trump presidency is considered to be highly beneficial for the Kremlin, the United States remains Russia’s biggest adversary. Trump is therefore seen as one of the best tools the Kremlin has in its efforts to undermine, discredit, and ultimately destroy the American way of life. And Russian state media openly praises Trump’s authoritarian tendencies, predicting civil war in the United States in the event he is not re-elected. Russian experts and pundits also have divined that a Trump dynasty will rule the United States for decades to come, with the president’s children following in his footsteps.   Russia’s State TV Calls Trump Their ‘Agent’Appearing on Sunday Evening With Vladimir Soloviev this month, Konstantin Zatulin, a leading figure in Putin’s United Russia party, said that Russia has been fighting “information wars” against the West for the longest time, but now they’re much more technologically advanced. During the same show, Boris Yakemenko, one of the chief architects of the pro-Kremlin youth movement Nashi, asserted that World War III between the United States and Russia is already in progress and is playing out in social media. This fits with the reported conclusions of the U.S. intelligence community that “the Russians have been preparing—and experimenting—for the 2020 election… They have made more creative use of Facebook and other social media. Rather than impersonating Americans as they did in 2016, Russian operatives are working to get Americans to repeat disinformation.”The task of getting Americans to repeat the Kremlin’s talking points is an easy errand from the standpoint of the Russian state media. Back in 2017, Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of Russia’s state-controlled broadcaster RT (formerly Russia Today), described Americans as poorly educated and ignorant. Simonyan concluded: “They’ll believe anything!” * * *U.S. IGNORANCE=RUSSIA BLISS* * *The Russian state-operated news agency RIA Novosti recently noted that suspension of disbelief is easy, since “only one in six Americans can find Ukraine on the map, only one in four can find Iran, and about a quarter of American voters aged 24 to 35 are not sure that the Earth is round.”Perennially insulted by the descriptions of Russia as “a gas station masquerading as a country” or “Zimbabwe with nukes” because of its economic dependence on oil production and its well-armed autocracy, the Kremlin’s mouthpieces inadvertently reveal the reasons for boasting about election interference and other anti-Western active measures. This month, Ivan Danilov wrote for RIA Novosti that Russia—“the country that ‘organized Brexit’ and ‘elected Trump’—is by definition “a global hegemon.”Such remarks have a purpose in state policy. As Trump’s former Russia adviser, Fiona Hill, testified in October 2019 the Kremlin often sends signals “publicly through the press and through press articles—that’s the way that they operate.” When the Russian state media openly brags about interfering in the U.S. elections, the desired effect is akin to showing off Russia’s new and purportedly “invincible” high-tech weapons of war. This month Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov asserted that “Russia’s foreign policy concept since 2000 has made it possible for us to develop principally new qualities on the international arena, to restore our status as a great power.”The Kremlin wants to be perceived as a force to be reckoned with, fostering an atmosphere devoid of accountability for Russia’s human-rights violations, foreign invasions, land grabs, and assassinations. In the style of “fake it till you make it,” Putin is determined to persuade the world that resistance is futile and the Kremlin is omnipotent. Every denial of Russian election interference coming out of the White House brings Putin one step closer to the fulfillment of his goals. Every election-security bill that is blocked by the GOP in the Senate gives advantage to our foreign adversaries—and they are not sick of winning.           Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.


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