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It’s Good That Joe Rogan Endorsed Bernie. Now We Have to Organize.

One of the world’s most popular podcasters has said that he’ll “probably vote for Bernie Sanders.” He went on to say some glowing things about Senator Sanders’s consistency and integrity. Unsurprisingly, the Sanders campaign celebrated the moment by tweeting out the clip.

Why wouldn’t it? While Sanders, Tulsi Gabbard, and Andrew Yang have appeared on the Joe Rogan Experience, Rogan has said that Warren, Buttigieg, and Biden have all tried and failed to get booked on the show. It’s obvious why — the YouTube page for The Joe Rogan Experience has 7.29 million subscribers, and even more people download the podcast every month.

Better yet, this legion of fans isn’t made up of progressive activists who were already planning to vote in the Democratic primaries. Rogan spends far more time talking about drugs and movies and Mixed Martial Arts than he does about the presidential election. Many of his fans are relatively apolitical, but some may be moved to register to vote by Rogan’s ode to the integrity of Bernie Sanders — or his passionate defense of Medicare for All.

Of course, there’s a reason why Rogan is controversial. When he does talk politics, the host often does so in the context of chatting with “intellectual dark web” figures like Jordan Peterson and Dave Rubin about culture war issues like free speech on college campuses.

Rogan’s friendly relationship with these right-wing thinkers, along with his own reactionary views, has given many casual observers the impression that he’s a coherent right-winger. In reality, he’s about where many persuadable Americans are, which is to say that while he doesn’t think about politics all the time, he likes and dislikes some individual politicians, he has kneejerk reactionary positions on some issues, and he finds egalitarian proposals for universal programs deeply appealing.

The fact that the Sanders campaign can reach the Joe Rogans of the world is a very good thing.

However, more than a few progressives, appalled at some of Rogan’s statements over the years and his associations, thought that the campaign should repudiate the endorsement — or at least that it was wrong for Bernie’s social media team to tweet out the clip.

We disagree, but not because we don’t think the criticisms of Rogan are baseless. The “intellectual dark web” figures, for example, that Rogan promotes play a corrosive role in the public discourse. They’re all defenders of traditional hierarchies that stand in the way of human flourishing, they all use silly and sophistical arguments in pursuit of this cause.

We don’t object to “platforming” such people for the purpose of pushing back against their views, but Rogan has acted as an uncritical sounding board for them. (Though there was a hilarious moment in one his conversations with Rubin when Rogan pushed back against Rubin’s libertarian economic fantasies and Rubin — a man who says he cares about “ideas” above all else — was left with no coherent response.)

It’s also true that Rogan’s talent, knack for drawing out guests, and interest in a variety of topics has allowed him to build such a massive platform that he’s far more representative of an actually existing American “center” than any corporate prestige outlet that claims to speak for the “mainstream.” In some contexts, ranging from Palestine to health care to Trump’s child separation policy he’s been a voice of reason and compassion. On that last subject, he’s gone so far as to say that if you don’t oppose what Trump has done to immigrant and refugee families, “you aren’t on the team” of the human race.

This is the real Joe Rogan show: a total mix of the apolitical and apolitical, the reactionary and the progressive. He’s in a sense representative of the political zigs and zags of most ordinary people who don’t think and tweet about politics all the time.

It’s worth noting the often maddening inconsistency of many Sanders opponents. Some of the loudest voices assailing the Bernie Sanders campaign for putting out a 51-second video highlighting Rogan’s praise for their candidate are centrist Democrats who spent eight years defending the politics of Barack Obama and then supported Hillary Clinton in the race for the 2016 Democratic nomination.

Some of these critics seem to have very short memories. See for example this tweet from Alex Singer, a former Democratic Congressional candidate in Nevada.

In reality, Obama had homophobic pastor Rick Warren say the opening prayer at his first inaugural — a decision that was controversial even at the time. Part of how Obama could maintain a relatively friendly relationship with someone like Warren is that, when he first ran for president, he claimed to have religious objections to marriage equality. It was only years later that Obama started carefully “evolving” on this issue with one eye on the polls. By contrast, Sanders didn’t have to give up an inch — on trans rights or on any other issue — to get the support of Joe Rogan.

Even on the narrow question of shock jocks with a history of making “problematic” comments, some memories are very short. Hillary Clinton went on the Howard Stern Show and basked in Howard’s praise of her record — and happily agreed with his criticisms of Bernie Sanders — last month. There wasn’t a ripple of “controversy” about it from this crowd. And, if we’re going to be realistic about this, it’s hard to imagine that there would have been much controversy if Joe Rogan had said “I think I’m probably going to vote for Elizabeth Warren because she’s so smart and she has a plan for, like, everything, man” and the Warren camp had tweeted out a clip of that. In fact, we would be drowning in “Slay Kween” emojis.

Our point here isn’t that Warren would have been wrong to “tout Rogan’s endorsement” if that had happened, or that Clinton shouldn’t have gone on Howard Stern. Demonstrating that a criticism is hypocritical isn’t enough to demonstrate that it’s wrong. It just means that the people making it are being inconsistent, and thus that they must be wrong about one or the other half of their inconsistent stance.

As grating as it is that Bernie is being bombarded with outrage for being endorsed by a podcast host with a mishmash of views while hardly anyone raises an eyebrow at Biden’s failure to repudiate his endorsement by Steve Lynch, whose record includes some truly despicable homophobia, we aren’t asking for a more equal distribution of outrage. Quite the opposite. We’re asking what it would take to build a movement capable of taking on oppression and exploitation.

Joe Rogan has some views on trans issues that anyone on the Left should oppose. Unfortunately, at least half the country holds similar views. The issue isn’t whether Bernie Sanders should compromise with such positions. As a matter of principle, he can’t and shouldn’t do that. The question is whether the best way to build a movement that appeals to rather than alienating the tens of millions of Americans who have reactionary views on at least some issues is to moralistically condemn them for those views or whether it’s to welcome them in an open and compassionate way while continuing to educate them on, and while sticking to our own principles.

As a matter of real-world power, it’s also worth noting that the person Rogan said he is probably going to vote for is the most pro-trans candidate in the race. Sanders was a pioneer in the support of trans rights and he hasn’t changed course. Despite the ideological flaws Rogan has on these questions, the material meaning of his announced intention to vote for Sanders is that he plans to help empower a candidate who wants medical transitions to be paid for by the only insurance program that will continue to exist after the enactment of Medicare for All.

Anyone who’s serious about changing the world has to think hard about what compromises they might be willing to make in order to achieve power. This issue has preoccupied organizers for as long as struggles for justice have existed. It’s one thing for people operating in good faith to disagree with each other about those questions. It’s quite another to denounce Sanders for “touting” an endorsement which required no such compromises.

Sanders supporter Mark Pocan, one of the few openly LGBT members of Congress, put this point particularly sharply in his remarks about the controversy. He said, “I usually find that you win elections when more people support you.”

It’s disturbing that this simple truth doesn’t seem to figure in the calculations of those leftists who say that it was wrong for the Sanders campaign to make a play for the votes of some of Rogan’s millions and millions of fans by calling attention to the endorsement. It would be political malpractice for the campaign not to try to get those votes.

Every successful presidential campaign is by definition a coalition of voters who don’t agree with each other about everything but are willing to get behind a given candidate and their platform. The question is whether we’re so allergic to having people in our coalition who haven’t yet reached progressive positions on every issue that we’re willing to risk losing what is arguably the most important election of our lifetimes.

Which is more important — stigmatizing Rogan for his bad views by refusing to make any welcoming gestures when he expresses interest in joining our coalition, or shutting down Donald Trump’s concentration camps?

Changing personal attitudes is important. It’s also a subtle and complicated project. We can at least start by bringing people together in a shared political project to elect a candidate who is committed to the whole list of progressive goals ranging from Medicare for All to protecting trans people from discrimination.

And this leads us to the final point. To the extent that we can change people’s personal views, what’s the best strategy to do us? Are we likely to reach them if we start by drawing a sharp line between us and them, demanding that they repent their bad views before we’ll have anything to do with them? We don’t think so.

The lesson of history is that reactionary attitudes are best combated by human interactions from within coalitions of people who have already been brought together around a shared purpose such as a union organizing drive — or, say, a campaign to elect the most left-wing president in US history.

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Bloomberg Opposed Iran Nuclear Deal But Also Trump’s Withdrawal

(Bloomberg) — Michael Bloomberg said Sunday that despite his opposition to the U.S. nuclear deal with Iran, he also opposed the way President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from it in 2018, saying it was “tantamount to giving Iran permission to re-launch its nuclear program.”In a speech in Miami to launch his outreach to Jewish voters, the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate said he spoke out against the 2015 deal at the time because it should have done more to address Iran’s ballistic missile program and other concerns. But Trump shouldn’t have left the deal made with the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany because Iran is once again moving toward the development of a nuclear weapon after years of compliance, he said.“As president, I will work to make the strongest deal possible to constrain the Iranian regime’s aggression and territorial ambitions, and put an end to their nuclear program, because the world must never allow Iran to threaten Israel and the whole region with a nuclear attack,” Bloomberg said in his prepared remarks.

Bloomberg also addressed the rise in anti-Semitic violence in America. He said that while one person can’t be blamed for it, Trump’s rhetoric, support of conspiracy theories and silence about racist groups means “there is just no escaping the direct line between his conduct in office and the rise of violent attacks targeted at minority groups.” He vowed to launch a national effort to crack down on violent extremists.The former New York mayor also said Trump was harming the U.S. relationship with Israel because the president is “trying to use Israel as a wedge issue for his own electoral purposes.”“We must never let Israel be a football that American politicians kick around in an effort to score points,” Bloomberg said. Bloomberg also vowed never to impose conditions on U.S. military aid to Israel, including missile defense, and said he wouldn’t wait three years to release an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan. His remarks came just days before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main election challenger, former Israeli military chief Benny Gantz accepted invitations to the White House this week ahead of Trump’s planned release of his long-awaited plan.It was a public embrace of his Judaism by Bloomberg, who launched a “United for Mike” national coalition Sunday with a council of Jewish community leaders to rally support from Jewish voters in his bid for the Democratic nomination. In his speech Bloomberg discussed the connection between his faith and American values and the 2020 race against Trump.“Sometimes democracy is a birthright,” Bloomberg said. “Sometimes it is a gift. And sometimes it is a fight. Today, it’s a fight — and I’m asking you to stand and fight with me as proud Americans, and as proud Jews.”

Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg.  (Updates with additional comments from fifth paragraph.) 

To contact the author of this story: Mark Niquette in Columbus at mniquette@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Wendy Benjaminson at wbenjaminson@bloomberg.net, Magan SherzaiRos Krasny

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

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©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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Fact-checking Bernie Sanders in Ames, Iowa

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., at a speech in Ames, Iowa, on Jan. 25, 2020. (Louis Jacobson/PolitiFact)

AMES, Iowa — Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., called for a systematic change in the economy, health care, criminal justice, and the environment during 45 minutes of remarks to an overflow crowd near the campus of Iowa State University.

“We not just fighting to win an election — we are fighting to build a movement,” Sanders said Jan. 25.

How was he on his facts?

PolitiFact is traveling through Iowa in the run-up to the Feb. 3 caucuses this week fact-checking statements made by the Democratic caucus candidates. We previously fact-checked Andrew Yang at Muscatine Community College and we will be covering other candidates in the coming days.

Sanders’ opportunities to campaign in Iowa in the home stretch have been limited  

RELATED: Fact-checking Andrew Yang in Muscatine, Iowa

RELATED: Stump speech analyzers for Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden.

The crowd frequently cheered Sanders’ calls to action, with some voters rising to their feet and chanting “Bernie! Bernie!” Voters yelled out “boos” when he railed against what he described as the military-industrial complex, the prison-industrial complex and GOP efforts to cut taxes for the ultrarich. 

Sanders’ opportunities to campaign in Iowa in the home stretch have been limited because he is required to be in Washington D.C. for Trump’s impeachment trial.

“That’s my responsibility and that is what I will do,” he said, however, “we are going to try to get back in the next 10 days as often as can.”

Here, we’ll briefly tackle the accuracy of several remarks by Sanders. 

The U.S. pharmaceutical industry “charges us the highest prices in the world.”

This is accurate.

The Commonwealth Fund, a New York-based health policy group, compared many common medications in the United States and several other countries. Using the American cost as a benchmark of 100, it calculated the cost in Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Switzerland and Australia. Germany was the closest match to the American price tag, but Canada, the UK and Australia were all about half the cost. Other studies reached the same general result. Broadly, the United States spends more on drugs because prices for many drugs are higher, and patients, usually on the advice of a doctor, take newer, high-cost drugs.

“The average American worker is not making a nickel more in real, inflation-accounted dollars than he or she did 45 years ago.” 

This is exaggerated. 

The median worker in 2018 did make more than a worker in 1974 once you adjust for inflation. That said, the growth was quite small — a cumulative increase above inflation of only about 11% over those 45 years. 

In the meantime, it’s also worth noting that the wage data used for this calculation excludes income from Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and refundable tax credits like the earned income tax credit. So it’s an incomplete picture of income.

“49% of all new income goes to the top 1%.”

We fact-checked that claim in September and rated it Mostly True. Sanders was referring to growth in pre-tax, pre-government benefit income during the economic recovery following the Great Recession from 2009 to 2017, which was calculated by one of the leading experts in the field of income inequality research.

However, it’s not the only way to measure income, and other economists pointed to more comprehensive, though slightly more dated, studies that compare income growth after accounting for what people pay to and receive from the government

“If you are a woman you should not make 79 cents on the dollar compared to men.”

This is more complicated than it sounds. 

The median earnings for men and women who worked full-time, year-round were $55,291 and $45,097, respectively, according to 2018 Census Bureau data. In other words, women made 81.6 cents for every $1 a man made. 

However, that is not the figure for equal work. The gender discrepancy reflects the professions, seniority, and hours worked by the two sexes, whether by choice or by historical patterns; discrimination is one factor but not the only one. Attempts to measure the gap between men and women doing equivalent work have shown a narrower difference, though it depends heavily on the specific profession in question.

RELATED: The fight between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders over Social Security, explained

“Today we spend twice as much money per person on health care as do the people of any other country on earth.”

The United States spent more per capita on health care than every other country studied by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in 2018, and the U.S. total was twice as much as most of the countries studied — but not all of them.

The countries that the United States did not exceed by twice as much in 2018 were Switzerland, Norway, Germany, Sweden, Austria and Denmark.

“We have more people in jail in the United States than China does.”

This is accurate, according to World Prison Brief, a project of the Institute for Crime and Justice Policy Research and the University of London’s Birkbeck College. 

The United States had 2.12 million imprisoned people, compared to 1.65 million for China, which ranked second. On a per capita basis, the United States also ranked first in the world, ahead of El Salvador and Turkmenistan; China ranked 113rd on a per capita basis.

“What the United Nations tells us — if present trends continue —  there will be tens of millions of climate refugees.”

There is much uncertainty about this prediction, though Sanders was more cautious about his projection in Ames, citing “tens of millions” rather than an instance last year when FactCheck.org checked him saying “hundreds of millions.”

A 2014 report by the International Organization for Migration, a UN agency, addresses the issue of how many people who will move as a result of climate change and environmental factors.

“There is great uncertainty about the figures,” the report states. “Forecasts for the number of environmental migrants by 2050 vary by a factor of 40,” specifically between 25 million and 1 billion.

The report said the figures will ultimately depend on multiple factors, including what actions are taken to combat climate change and economic growth. Due to the uncertainty, the report states that the organization “does not advance an estimated figure.”

A 2018 report by World Bank predicted that climate change could lead to more than 140 million people migrating within their countries’ borders by 2050 in three developing regions of the world: Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Latin America.

RELATED STORY: Fact-checking Joe Biden in Ankeny, Iowa​

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Kobe Bryant was one of five people killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California

A banner hangs in the gym at Lower Merion High School in Philadelphia honoring Kobe Bryant among the other members of the school’s 1,000 Point Club. Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

Kobe Bryant’s alma mater, Lower Merion High School in Philadelphia, issued a statement Sunday about his death.

“This is a difficult day for everyone in our school community. The Lower Marion School District is deeply saddened to learn of the sudden passing of our most illustrious alumni Kobe Bryant. Mr. Bryant’s connection to Lower Merion High School where he played basketball prior to joining the NBA has raised the profile of our high school and our district throughout the world. Our school community will always be grateful for his ongoing generosity to his alma mater including his dedication of our Kobe Bryant gymnasium and his support of our girls and boys basketball teams,” said Amy Buckman, school spokeswoman.

Gregg Downer, the school’s head basketball coach, coached Bryant from 1992 to 1996. Bryant led the team to the 1996 state championship, Buckman said.

“Mr. Downer said he was completely shocked and devastated today upon hearing the news, adding that Aces nation has lost its heartbeat,” Buckman said.

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Four new polls of Iowa and New Hampshire: Bernie, Bernie, Bernie, Bernie

Democrats are really gonna do this, huh?

I’m imagining Barack Obama looking at these new polling numbers and contemplating his legacy: A wipeout of Democrats in federal and state races by 2016, the election of a Republican president whom O himself allegedly describes as a “fascist,” and the increasing likelihood that his own party will choose an out-and-out socialist as its next nominee. In time, the Obama/Romney contest of 2012 may come to be seen as the last non-“European” election America had for many years.

The well-respected NYT/Siena poll finds that everything’s coming up Bernie in Iowa:

Elizabeth Warren’s loss is Sanders’s gain, unsurprisingly, as the Times notes that she’s lost seven points since October while Bernie has gained six. Partly that’s due to young Democrats defecting from her camp to his. But another part may be perceived electability, ironically the core dispute between her and Bernie in their now famous 2018 conversation about whether a woman can beat Trump. Ask Biden and Sanders supporters if their guy has the best chance to beat POTUS this fall and 80 percent or so of each group says yes. Ask Warren supporters the same question about their candidate and the number drops to … 51 percent. It’s hard to see a Warren comeback in Iowa and New Hampshire if late deciders think she’s DOA against Trump. (Although, interestingly, she fares slightly less badly in Iowa matched up with the president, trailing 47/42, than Bernie does. He trails 48/42.)

Bernie’s seven-point lead in the NYT poll is the biggest of any candidate in Iowa since mid-November, when the Buttigieg boomlet was in full swing. Sanders is now the frontrunner there according to the two most highly regarded polls of the state; the Des Moines Register also found him leading at the beginning of the month, albeit narrowly. Even so, Iowa remains a jump ball, with Biden having led in two of the three most recent surveys. He still leads Bernie in the RCP average, in fact, but now by less than a point. Another new poll this morning from CBS, in fact, Sanders ahead by exactly one point:

It could go either way next Monday, although CBS makes a smart point in its story about how the 15-percent threshold for delegates could end up benefiting Bernie. There are actually two ballots on caucus night, with the initial vote designed to see how many candidates have at least 15 percent support. Supporters of any candidate who falls short of that number on the first vote can then switch to a different candidate on the second ballot. Joe Biden stands to benefit from that rule potentially, as one would assume most of Amy Klobuchar’s more moderate backers will switch to him on the second vote. But Sanders could benefit enormously if Warren come up just shy of the threshold at 14 percent or so, freeing her progressive fans to stampede over to Bernie. He might win going away.

For the moment, though, it’s close in Iowa. Is the same true in New Hampshire? New from CNN:

Overall, 25% of likely Democratic primary voters back the Vermont senator, with former Vice President Joe Biden (16%), former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg (15%) and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (12%) battling for second place. Behind these four, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar (6%), Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (5%) and businessman Andrew Yang (5%) make up a third tier of candidates…

As in polling elsewhere, shifting preferences among liberals have changed the dynamic of the race: Sanders has gained 13 points among liberal likely primary voters in New Hampshire while Warren has dropped 7 points. Sanders now holds a clear lead within that group: 39% back him, 21% Warren.

Again we find Bernie ahead and again it’s because Warren is bleeding liberal support to him. (To add insult to injury, he’s increased his share of women voters there by eight points since October, yet another sign that Team Warren’s “sexism” attack on him has failed, if not backfired.) A nine-point lead is a sizable margin by the standards of this primary and this isn’t the only poll lately showing Bernie pulling away: Remember that a different poll of New Hampshire a few days ago found him ahead by 12(!). He’s led in the last five surveys of the state and his lead in the RCP poll of polls of New Hampshire now exceeds five points, the biggest advantage any candidate has enjoyed since mid-August. Given how easily he beat Hillary there in 2016, there’s every reason to think NH Democrats are coming home to him as they make up their minds.

If he wins Iowa comfortably and then takes New Hampshire going away, what does the Democratic establishment do? Barack Obama doesn’t want to weigh in on the primary, it seems, but can Biden talk Michelle Obama into an endorsement?

There’s a second poll of New Hampshire out this morning, this time from NBC. Guess who’s leading:

Not a rout, but if Pete Buttigieg is the last obstacle in the path of a Bernie Sanders nomination then the establishment’s in bigger trouble than I thought. In fact, Buttigieg is something of an asset to Bernie right now. Both the NBC poll of New Hampshire and the CBS poll of Iowa find him cutting into Biden’s advantage with older Democrats while Sanders runs away with the youth vote. Biden needs Mayor Pete out of the race ASAP so that he can reclaim some of those voters before Super Tuesday.

The only good news for Biden in today’s poll-a-palooza is a national survey from ABC/WaPo that finds him still ahead nationally, with 28 percent. But even that comes with a bad omen: Sanders has risen to 24 percent, confirming that this is now a two-man race nationally as Warren remains stuck at around 14 percent or so. (Biden’s lead widens to 12 points among likely voters, but obviously the trends in national polling will shift depending on the results in the early states.) Warren has lost double-digit support among women since October and again is perceived as an especially weak match-up for Trump. When asked who has the best chance to defeat POTUS, 38 percent of Democrats in the ABC poll say Biden. Just 10 percent say Warren.

If Bernie has a weakness, it’s his own electability issues. In Iowa, the NYT poll found 56 percent of Dems agreeing that a democratic socialist would have a harder rather than easier time winning and the CBS poll found just one-third of Dems there willing to say that they think Bernie would defeat POTUS versus 45 percent who said so of Biden. In the CNN poll of New Hampshire, a mere 20 percent gave Sanders the best shot at beating Trump compared to 41 percent who said so of Biden. The results were basically the same in ABC’s national poll, with 18 percent claiming that Sanders would have the easiest time against Trump versus 38 percent who said so of Biden. This is Grandpa Joe’s great hope on election night next week — that a critical mass of Iowans will head down to caucus, have a hard conversation with themselves about whether the party is doomed with an avowed socialist as nominee, then switch to Biden at the last minute, however reluctantly.

One more data point for you, from the CBS Iowa poll. I wonder if … this might explain why Sanders hasn’t suffered in polling ever since Warren accused of him believing a woman couldn’t win:

In lieu of an exit question, here’s a clip you’ll see played 8,000 times in Republican attack ads over the next nine months if Democrats really do pull the trigger on Berniemania.

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Democrats have to talk to everyone

Good news for Andrew Yang – he has qualified to participate in the New Hampshire Democrat primary debate. The bad news for Andrew Yang – he is still at the bottom of the heap of Democrat candidates.

Yang recently criticized the DNC for rejecting a Democrat debate on Fox News Channel (FNC). At the time, DNC Chairman Tom Perez justified the decision based on the coziness between President Trump and some of the anchors on FNC. It is a fact that no one disputes, especially Trump’s relationships with the nighttime opinion show hosts – Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham. Ingraham was even reported to have been considered for a job in the Trump administration. Perez seems to have based his decision on the opinion anchors, which is unfortunate. The other opinion show hosts on cable news channels all lean left, some rabidly so. Is Perez not confident enough in the party’s candidates to face objective or conservative-leaning debate hosts? Apparently that is the case.

“Recent reporting in the New Yorker on the inappropriate relationship between President Trump, his administration and Fox News has led me to conclude that the network is not in a position to host a fair and neutral debate for our candidates. Therefore, Fox News will not serve as a media partner for the 2020 Democratic primary debates.”

In the minds of the left, one cable news channel that leans right is unacceptable. All channels must lean left and promote groupthink. This, by the way, is why FNC is the most-watched cable network. There is a market for half of the country that doesn’t want to swallow Democrat talking points 24/7. And, Independents are a part of FNC’s audience. Andrew Yang gets it. He thinks candidates should talk to everyone. “How can you win an election and bring the country together if you literally won’t talk to 40 or 50 percent of the population?”

He then brought up the debates specifically and said if he was in the DNC, he would’ve “jumped” at the opportunity to do a debate on Fox: “Let me show my candidates to people who generally watch Fox News.”

“But the DNC turned it down!” Yang said. “I was like, ‘What are you doing?’”

He’s right, of course. It’s also just lazy for Democrat candidates to avoid FNC interviews. It’s a lot easier to go to venues solidly in the Democrat camp than to go and try to bring in conservative or independent voters. It’s short-sighted, too because the winning candidate will need independent or swing voters to win the general election in 2020.

I watch the Sunday talking heads shows and conservatives are underrepresented on all of them, except Fox News Sunday. Conservative politicians do, though, sit for interviews on all of the shows. For example, Senator Mike Braun of Indiana was on NBC’s Meet the Press and Senator Tom Cotton on was CBS’s Face the Nation. They were answering questions about impeachment, the topic du jour. Andrew Yang was the guest on Fox News Sunday this week.

Some of the Democrat candidates appear on FNC. I can say I’ve seen interviews – mostly on Special Report with Bret Baier or Martha MacCallum’s show – with Amy Klobuchar, John Delaney, Tom Steyer, and Pete Buttigieg. Buttigieg is doing a town hall with FNC tonight in Iowa. All of the candidates have been offered time for a town hall but few have taken the opportunity. Yang did, as did Klobuchar, and even Bernie Sanders did. It just makes sense.

Yang didn’t qualify for the Democrat debate in Iowa this month but he will be on the debate stage in New Hampshire on February 7.

To qualify, candidates need to hit 5 percent in four polls approved by the Democratic National Committee (or 7 percent in two polls in New Hampshire, Nevada or South Carolina) and receive donations from at least 225,000 individuals. Alternatively, candidates can automatically qualify by winning at least one pledged delegate to the Democratic convention out of the Iowa caucuses.

He hit that polling mark in two separate polls released Sunday, and has long cleared the donor mark.

He isn’t at the top of the polling but he is hanging in there. He’s gaining name recognition, if nothing else.

In a Washington Post/ABC News national poll conducted by Langer Research, Yang was at 7 percent among Democratic adults and Democratic-leaning independents surveyed. In the poll, Biden was at 28 percent to Sanders’ 24 percent. Warren was at 11 percent, Mike Bloomberg was at 8 percent and Buttigieg was at 5 percent, the last candidate at or above that mark.

A second poll released on Sunday got Yang past the polling threshold. In a CNN/University of New Hampshire poll in the Granite State, Sanders was at 25 percent. Biden was at 16 percent, Buttigieg was at 15 percent and Warren was at 12 percent. Klobuchar was at 6 percent and Tulsi Gabbard and Yang were each at 5 percent.

Yang knows he has the opportunity to appeal to swing voters. He’s not a crazy leftist like most of the other candidates, even his $1,000 monthly entitlement proposal (Universal Basic Income) pales in comparison to other proposals we’ve heard this election cycle. He’s a Democrat and I wouldn’t vote for any Democrat but he’s less scary than most. It still looks like a contest between Biden and Bernie for the 2020 nomination and Trump is likely to be re-elected.

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Defense resumes in key impeachment week; Dems seek witnesses

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial enters a pivotal week as his defense team resumes its case and senators face a critical vote on whether to hear witnesses or proceed directly to a vote that is widely expected to end in his acquittal. The articles of impeachment charge Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

The Capitol Hill maneuvering will be complemented by high-stakes efforts on both sides of the aisle to claim political advantage from the proceedings as the presidential nominating season kicks off in Iowa on Feb. 3.

What to watch as the Senate impeachment trial resumes Monday at 1 p.m. EST:

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STAR TURN IN DEFENSE

After a two-hour opening argument Saturday, Trump’s defense team will lay out its case in depth beginning Monday. White House counsel Pat Cipollone said Trump’s lawyers don’t expect to take the full 24 hours allotted to them, but there will be arguments from some familiar faces.

Harvard law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz, former independent counsel Ken Starr and former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi will speak on specific topics.

Dershowitz said Sunday he would argue that the charges against Trump are too minor to warrant the president’s removal from office under the Constitution. “Even if true, they did not allege impeachable offenses,” Dershowitz told “Fox News Sunday.”

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QUESTION TIME

Once Trump’s team concludes, senators will have 16 hours to ask questions of both the House impeachment prosecutors and the president’s legal team. Their questions must be in writing.

Chief Justice John Roberts will read the questions aloud. He is expected to alternate between both sides of the aisle. Many senators have been talking copious notes throughout the trial in preparation for the question-and-answer time.

Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., told reporters Saturday that Republicans expected to get together on Monday to start formulating a list of questions. “We will meet as a conference and decide what questions we want to pose, what the order may be of those of those questions,” he said.

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WILL THEY OR WON’T THEY

Under the Senate rules passed last week, senators will vote whether to consider new witnesses and evidence after the Q&A time is elapsed. Four Republicans would have to break ranks to join Democrats in the GOP-controlled Senate to extend the trial for an undetermined amount of time.

If that happens, expect a bitter fight over which witnesses might be called and which documents might be subpoenaed. Democrats have called for testimony from Trump’s former national security adviser, John Bolton, and his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney. An attempt to call either probably would lead to a showdown with the White House, which claims both men have “absolute immunity” from being called to testify before the Senate, even in an impeachment trial. Still, Bolton has said he would appear if issued a subpoena by the Senate.

While Republicans have hoped for a speedy trial, Trump has called for the testimony of former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter and the intelligence community whistleblower whose summer complaint about Trump’s July telephone call with Ukraine’s leader instigated the impeachment inquiry. Hunter Biden served on the board of a Ukraine gas company while his father was vice president.

But some Republicans, including Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., have expressed resistance to calling those witnesses.

If the vote fails, the Senate could move swiftly to its vote on whether to remove or acquit Trump, giving the president the result he’s been looking for as soon as the end of the week.

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THE POLITICS

The trial is resuming with one week to go until the Iowa caucuses, and is again keeping four Democratic contenders — Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Michael Bennet and Amy Klobuchar — in Washington instead of campaigning at a critical point in the race.

While they are trapped in Washington, Trump will venture outside the capital as he seeks both to exert political retribution on Democrats who impeached him and reward a party-switching lawmaker who backed him in the House.

Trump will hold a rally Tuesday in New Jersey to repay the favor to Rep. Jeff Van Drew, who became a Republican last month after voting against the articles of impeachment as a Democrat. And Trump is set to appear in Iowa on Thursday, days before the caucuses.

Meanwhile, Trump is already looking ahead to his likely acquittal, whenever it may come, promising that Democrats will face consequences for trying to remove him from office. “Shifty Adam Schiff is a CORRUPT POLITICIAN, and probably a very sick man,” Trump tweeted Sunday. “He has not paid the price, yet, for what he has done to our Country!”

Schiff, D-Calif., is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and the lead impeachment manager. Asked on NBC’s “Meet the Press” whether he viewed the tweet as a threat, Schiff replied, “I think it’s intended to be.”

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Fact-checking Joe Biden in Ankeny, Iowa

A “Joe” sign using a real-life tire for the “O” at a Joe Biden event in Ankeny, Iowa. (Louis Jacobson/PolitiFact)

ANKENY, Iowa — Former Vice President Joe Biden ignored his Democratic rivals and focused extensively on attacking President Donald Trump at a campaign event, saying Trump is “a commander-in-chief who has no notion — none — of what it takes to lead.”

Biden mocked Trump for saying he was the one who protected pre-existing conditions and portrayed Trump as a divider who has bashed the press and Congress. In the 2020 election, Biden said, “the character of the country is on the ballot. The character of our candidates is on the ballot.”

Biden’s Jan. 25 event attracted about 300 voters on a near-freezing evening to the John Deere Exhibition Hall at Des Moines Area Community College in Ankeny. Ankeny is a northern suburb of Des Moines.

PolitiFact is traveling through Iowa this week to fact-check Democratic caucus candidates. The home stretch leading up to the Feb. 3 caucus coincides with Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate. Biden made a vague reference to the trial, saying that Trump has “gone after my family.”

RELATED: We analyzed the stump speeches of Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden.

Biden told the crowd a few statements that we wanted to fact-check.

“Fact check this — fewer people have signed up to take the foreign policy exam to become a foreign policy officer than at any time in history.”

This captures the general trend, though Biden exaggerated some of the details revealed in an NBC News report last year.

First, he’s referring to the Foreign Service Officer Test, which is offered to aspiring diplomats three times a year. 

NBC News reported that the number of test-takers had dropped to its lowest point since 2008. 

The data only went back to late 2007, so it did not reflect “any time in history,” as Biden said.

That said, the downward trend has accelerated since Trump was elected.

Between October 2017 and October 2018, the network reported, 8,685 people took the test, a 22% decline from a year earlier. The number has been falling since fiscal year 2013, when 21,069 people took the test.

“Let’s be clear about something. 400,000 of our warriors — Americans troops — in these two wars (Afghanistan and Iraq) have suffered traumatic brain injury.”

This is close to what Defense Department statistics show. The department found 413,858 service members were diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries worldwide between 2000 and the third quarter of 2019. Not every case stemmed from battlefield injuries in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The majority of these injuries are classified as “mild TBI, also known as concussion,” the department said. Most service members were back on regular duty after a week or 10 days.

“Service members can sustain a (traumatic brain injury) during day-to-day activities, such as while playing sports or participating in recreational events, military training and military deployment,” the Defense Department report said.

Says that Trump said of a judge who had ruled against him, we “can’t trust him because his father is Mexican.”

This paraphrases what Trump said about U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curielo in 2016. 

Curiel, who was appointed to the federal bench in San Diego by President Barack Obama, was born and raised in Indiana. His parents were naturalized U.S. citizens from Mexico.

On June 2, 2016, Trump told the Wall Street Journal that Curiel had “an absolute conflict” in presiding over the Trump University litigation given that he is “of Mexican heritage” and a member of a Latino lawyers’ association.

The next day on CBS’ Face the Nation, host John Dickerson repeatedly asked Trump why Curiel’s Mexican heritage was relevant.

“He is a member of a club or society, very strongly pro-Mexican, which is all fine,” Trump replied. “But I say he’s got bias. I want to build a wall. I’m going to build a wall. I’m doing very well with the Latinos, with the Hispanics, with the Mexicans, I’m doing very well with them, in my opinion.”

Trump’s attack on the California La Raza Lawyers Association of which Curiel was a member rated  Mostly False. The group focuses on broad Latino issues and civil rights but had stayed out of the recent immigration debate.