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How to watch the New Hampshire primary like a pro

Just 27 voters turned out in Dixville Notch, Hart’s Location and Millsfield, a small fraction of the 292,000 Democratic voters that New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner expects to have their say on Tuesday — but those voters gave a very early lead to Amy Klobuchar before the bulk of the votes pour in.

Here’s everything you need to know to watch the New Hampshire primary like a pro when the rest of the polls open and close on Tuesday:

Who can vote in the Democratic primary?

In order to vote in the Democratic presidential primary, voters must either be registered Democrats or not be members of any political party. Registered Republicans can only vote in the GOP primary, and the deadline for voters to change their registration was last October.

Unenrolled voters who wish to remain independent must sign an additional card before leaving their polling place to avoid becoming a member of the party whose primary ballot they just pulled.

Who’s on the ballot?

This is one of those questions with no short answer.

There are 33 names on the Democratic primary ballot, including candidates who have since suspended their campaigns, like Cory Booker, Julián Castro and Kamala Harris. The Republican ballot is a little smaller: President Donald Trump has 16 other GOP challengers.

The ballot is so crowded because the qualification criteria are so small. In order to get on the ballot, candidates need to meet the constitutional requirements to be president (a natural-born citizen, at least 35 years of age), fill out a form, and pay a $1,000 filing fee.

The low bar to qualify creates some weirdness. Take this one: On the Republican ballot is “Roque ‘Rocky’ De La Fuente,” the California-based serial candidate who ran for Senate in roughly a dozen states in 2018. Meanwhile, his son, “Roque De La Fuente,” is on the Democratic ballot.

What time do the polls open?

There’s more quirkiness here, even putting the midnight-voting towns aside. The voting hours vary by city and town. In the two largest cities — Manchester and Nashua — the polls open at 6 a.m. Eastern.

But the polls open at 7 a.m. in Concord and Derry, the third- and fourth-largest cities. In other towns, the polls open at either 8 a.m., or as late as 11 a.m.

What time do the polls close?

Given all the eccentricities of voting in New Hampshire outlined thus far, do you really expect all polling places to close at the same time?

They don’t. Again, besides the three towns that open at midnight and close immediately, precincts in New Hampshire close at different times depending on the town, either at 7 p.m., 7:30 p.m. or 8 p.m. Polls close at 7 p.m. in Manchester, but 8 p.m. in Nashua.

When do we expect first results?

After the handful of votes cast at midnight, more results should begin streaming in shortly after 7 p.m. — but no news organization will project a winner until after all the polls have closed statewide at 8 p.m.

News organizations will also begin to report the results of the exit poll — which consists of interviews with voters as they depart their polling places — beginning at 8 p.m. We’ll probably have a small chunk of the votes counted by then, too.

How is the winner declared?

Unlike the Iowa caucuses, the New Hampshire primary is more straightforward: The candidate with the most votes wins.

But there is still some national delegate math at play. New Hampshire has 33 delegates, which will be doled out proportionally to candidates who get more than 15 percent of the vote statewide or in at least one of New Hampshire’s two congressional districts. The upshot: A narrow victory in the raw vote count may lead to the top candidates winning similar numbers of delegates.

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War on Drugs: Is America Ready to Decriminalize Meth and Heroin?

Pete Buttigieg at a campaign event in Nashua, N.H., February 9, 2020. (Eric Thayer/Reuters)

In 1969, the height of the Sixties’ cultural revolution, Pew found that only 12 percent of Americans supported the legalization of pot. Fifty years later, 67 percent of voters support it. Virtually every candidate on the Democratic presidential slate backs some form of marijuana legalization. Even the Trump administration has left states to manage their own business on the matter. This year, at least one candidate supports going further and decriminalizing all drugs.

On Sunday, Fox News’ Chris Wallace pushed Iowa caucus winner Pete Buttigieg to explain his support for the “decriminalization” of all narcotics.

First, he asked Buttigieg whether laws act as a deterrent to those willing trying “meth and heroin” for the first time. Buttigieg dissembled, and never answered the question. One supposes, “this is America, Chris, and if someone wants to freebase it’s none of my business,” is still tad bit too libertarian for the average American voter.

That happens to be my philosophical position: Americans should be free to ingest whatever they choose — cigarette smoke, trans fats, mega-sodas, and/or methamphetamine. I’m skeptical that significant number of people will begin shooting heroin simply because possession of small amounts of the drug have been decriminalized. We already enforce our drug laws arbitrarily.

My rational self is forced to concede that on the margins, people already inclined to do hard narcotics will find it easier to obtain them if we decriminalize, and that may cost lives. There’s plenty of evidence that alcohol consumption fell during Prohibition and then increased again when it was overturned. In Seattle, where drug possession has been effectively legalized, the trend of rising overdoses hasn’t changed.

It’s a banal observation, no doubt, to say that there are no easy answers. There are, however, some obvious questions to consider: Is the War on Drugs worth the cost? Is it worth throwing non-violent criminals into prison rather than rehab? Is it worth spending billions on police-state efforts that do little to mitigate the problem rather than diverting those funds to figuring out other ways to combat addiction?

Yet when Wallace pushed Buttigieg to clarify what decriminalization might entail, he couldn’t provide any specifics, declaring that we shouldn’t worry about the “legal niceties” but rather about the failures of the drug war.

Well, the difference between a felony, a misdemeanor, or no punishment at all isn’t a legal nicety, it’s the distinction between criminalization and decriminalization, as anyone with a criminal record will tell you.

Specifics are going to be important. Most Americans have had at last some interaction with pot, which, though it might make us useless or stupid, won’t kill us. When you start talking about meth and heroin, average Americans probably start picturing drug supermarkets on Main Street, kids shooting up behind 7/11s, and resultant criminality.

To this point, Buttigieg, who is further to the left than is generally understood, seems unable to defend his position effectively or even fully. It’ll be interesting to see how the issue plays out if he solidifies as a major contender — though I suspect the majority of the electorate isn’t ready for legal meth.

David Harsanyi is a senior writer for National Review and the author of First Freedom: A Ride through America’s Enduring History with the Gun


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Something Elizabeth Warren may not have a plan for (Opinion)

But Warren and other Democrats will also need another set of plans — for how to campaign against President Trump in 2020 on the perilous election playing field that they will face. If being “electable” is the top priority for Democrats, then voters should be hearing more about the political strategy of each candidate, not just their policies.

With Trump at the top of the Republican ticket, this won’t be an ordinary election. As Hillary Clinton learned in 2016 — when, for example, Republican delegates were encouraged by convention speakers in chanting “Lock Her Up! — the old rules no longer apply.

In any presidential campaign, a main objective for each party is to influence the media narrative. The goal is to shift the conversation among producers, editors, and reporters toward issues that are favorable to their campaign. Whoever the Democratic nominee is, this will be an immense challenge. The President has repeatedly demonstrated his ability to use Twitter and campaign rallies to throw the media into a frenzy over his latest outrage or controversial statement. If Democrats want to keep issues like health care or inequality front and center, they will need to have a plan for counteracting Trump’s uncanny ability to send the news cycle down a rabbit hole debate about the latest thing that he has done.

What’s the plan for dealing with social media disinformation?

By all accounts the social disinformation campaign that we will see in 2020 will make the last election look like child’s play. The President has already raised a campaign war chest to finance social media operations on Facebook, Twitter, and more. The Democratic candidate will have to survive an onslaught of divisive videos, memes and stories as well as outright falsehoods circulating in the online public square. These efforts will be compounded by third party operations, as well as overseas governments seeking to interfere in the election. When the President retweeted an altered video of Speaker Nancy Pelosi that made it appear as if she was inebriated, he offered just a small preview of what’s to come.

What’s the plan for surviving reality show debates?

The fall debates, assuming that they take place and the President agrees to participate, could well be uglier than a hard core professional wrestling match. Trump will turn each debate into a piece of reality show television. He might convene pre-debate press conferences with guests who are politically damaging to his opponent, as he did in 2016. He will physically hover around his opponent as they speak and blast them with insults, and he will make it literally impossible to sustain any kind of conversation about public policy. The President will lie and twist the truth without remorse. Julian Castro’s barbs against Joe Biden last Thursday will seem innocuous by comparison. For any Democrat, it will feel like the longest hours of their lives, with cameras trained on them as they try to make it through without losing their composure.

What’s the plan for confronting investigations?

Unlike in 2016, this time around Trump has the power of the presidency behind him. With that power comes the potential for the administration to unleash damaging investigations in the middle of the campaign that will put the Democrats on defense. Already there have been hints of where the administration might go should Biden be the nominee, with stories about Rudy Giuliani urging investigation into conflict of interest allegations about Hunter Biden while Joe Biden was Vice President.

Joe Biden has denied the allegations and numerous reporters have shot down the existing claims. When running against Hillary Clinton, candidate Trump capitalized on an email investigation by the FBI over which he had no control. Now he is President — with immense power — and it is fair to speculate that he will use it to improve his odds for victory.

Too often, the discussions about the rival candidates revolve around early poll numbers and memories of how elections worked in the past. This won’t be the case come next fall, and Democrats won’t have any excuse to say at that point,”I can’t believe this is happening!”

The kind of politics that Democrats will confront are now perfectly clear, and the party needs to give much more serious thought to the question of which of the candidates will be best suited to sell their message and mobilize voters in our new dystopian political world.

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Paul Ryan Predicts Biden Likely Won’t Get Dem Nomination Despite Being ‘Hardest’ Candidate for Trump to Beat

Paul Ryan, the former Republican representative of Wisconsin, said Tuesday that though former Vice President Joe Biden may not get the Democratic nomination, he would be the candidate that would be the most difficult for President Donald Trump to beat.

Appearing at the yearly Milken Institute Middle East and Africa Summit in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Ryan told CNBC that Biden’s appeal with moderates and “suburbanites” could lead him to a victory over Trump were he to get the nomination.

“I think Joe is probably the hardest to beat, because it’s going to come down to the suburban [voter], it’s going to be the suburbanite that’ll basically be the difference-maker,” Ryan said, before describing the hypothetical suburban voter as a “first-generation Republican” who likes “Trump the idea,” but not the president’s personality.

“So they’ll be tempted to vote for what they think is a safe moderate—and I think Joe Biden, it’s all relative, will fall into that category, and is the likeliest to be able to win that voter,” Ryan said.

He then warned that Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and billionaire and former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg could instead take the nomination, despite Biden being “the best bet the Democrats have.”

“If Bernie keeps racking up wins and is seen to be going toward the nomination, then you can probably make the case that Bloomberg will get enough proportional delegates, because he’ll play in enough states, to go into the convention with a claim, and then you’ll have one whale of a mess of a convention,” Ryan said.


Paul Ryan, shown here delivering his farewell address as outgoing House Speaker in 2018, said former Vice President Joe Biden was the Democratic candidate most likely to beat Donald Trump, even though he may not get the party’s nomination.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Tuesday is the day of the New Hampshire primary—the first primary in the United States and second nominating contest after the Iowa caucuses. Sanders, who won with 60 percent of the vote in the 2016 primary over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is again expected to win.

In the latest CNN poll, Sanders is leading the race with 29 percent support. Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg is second with 22 percent, ahead of Biden with 11 percent support. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren followed with 10 percent support, and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar garnered 7 percent.

A poll by Morning Consult also puts Sanders in the lead with 25 percent, while Biden is second with 22 percent. This poll puts Bloomberg in third at 17 percent, however, the late-entrant does not appear on the New Hampshire ballot, but voters could write him in.

In the three small townships that vote at midnight, Klobuchar led the voting with eight votes, followed by Sanders and Warren with four votes each. Entrepreneur Andrew Yang came in fourth with three votes, with Biden and Buttigieg rounding out the rear with 2 votes each.

In a strange turn of events, Bloomberg won both the Democratic and Republican primaries in Dixville Notch with two write-in votes (out of five votes total) in the Democratic primary, and 100 percent of the vote in the Republican primary. While that last number may sound impressive, it’s worth noting that only one person voted in that race.

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Three Roger Stone prosecutors resign from case after DOJ backpedals on sentencing recommendation

Three prosecutors in Roger Stone’s criminal case abruptly resigned from the case on Tuesday after the Justice Department said it planned to reduce the recommended sentence for the longtime Trump associate.

The Justice Department on Tuesday said it was pulling back on its request to sentence Stone to seven to nine years in prison after President Donald Trump blasted the sentencing proposal as “a miscarriage of justice.”

The revised recommendation doesn’t ask for a particular sentence but says the one that was recommended earlier “does not accurately reflect the Department of Justice’s position on what would be a reasonable sentence in this matter.”

“The defendant committed serious offenses and deserves a sentence of incarceration,” but based “on the facts known to the government, a sentence of between 87 to 108 months’ imprisonment, however, could be considered excessive and unwarranted under the circumstances. Ultimately, the government defers to the Court as to what specific sentence is appropriate under the facts and circumstances of this case,” the filing said.

After the reports of the imminent softer sentencing recommendation, lead prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky withdrew as a prosecutor in the case. A footnote in his court filing noted that “the undersigned attorney has resigned effective immediately.”

Zelinsky, who was a part of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s team investigating Russian election interference, is not resigning from the Justice Department but is leaving the Washington, D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office and returning to his old job with the U.S. Attorney in Maryland.

Another one of the prosecutors, Jonathan Kravis, also resigned— both from the case and his job as an assistant U.S. attorney. Kravis on Tuesday filed a notice with the judge saying he “no longer represents the government in this matter.” A third prosecutor, Adam Jed, also withdrew from the case.

Trump in a tweet earlier in the day called the department’s initial sentencing proposal “disgraceful!

“This is a horrible and very unfair situation,” the president wrote in a follow-up post on Twitter. “The real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them. Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!”

He told reporters in the Oval Office later Tuesday that he did not speak to the Justice Department about Stone’s sentencing.

Joyce Vance, an MSNBC contributor and former federal prosecutor, tweeted the dual withdrawal notices from the prosecutors speak “loudly to those of us who used to work at DOJ. There is a 4-alarm fire at Justice.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., in a tweet called on the Justice Department Inspector General to “open an investigation “immediately.”

“The president seems to think the entire Justice Department is just his personal lawsuit to prosecute his enemies and help his friends. Rule of law in this grand tradition in this wonderful Justice Department is just being totally perverted to Donald Trump’s own personal desires and needs and it’s a disgrace,” Schumer told reporters in Washington, D.C. “Roger Stone should get the full amount of time the prosecutors recommended and we’re going to do some oversight of that.”

Rep. Adam Schiff, the California Democrat who was the lead prosecutor in Trump’s impeachment trial, said that “if If reports are correct, the Department of Justice and Attorney General Bill Barr are poised to overrule career prosecutors who made a sentencing recommendation yesterday, following a midnight tweet from the President attacking the proposed length of sentence.”

Schiff said it would “it would be a blatant abuse of power if President Trump has in fact intervened to reverse the recommendations of career prosecutors at the Department of Justice.”

“Doing so would send an unmistakable message that President Trump will protect those who lie to Congress to cover up his own misconduct, and that the Attorney General will join him in that effort. Coupled with the President’s blatant retaliation against those who helped expose his wrongdoing, the Trump Administration poses the gravest threat to the rule of law in America in a generation,” Schiff said.

David Laufman, a former senior Justice Department official, tweeted that the move was “a shocking, cram-down political intervention in the criminal justice process. We are now truly at a break-glass-in-case-of-fire moment for the Justice Dept.”

Federal prosecutors initially sought seven to nine years in prison for Stone in a sentencing memorandum they filed Monday in Washington, D.C. Prosecutors said the recommendation was in line with the sentencing guideline outlined by federal law.

“Roger Stone obstructed Congress’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, lied under oath, and tampered with a witness,” prosecutors wrote in a 26-page memo. “When his crimes were revealed by the indictment in this case, he displayed contempt for this court and the rule of law.”

In Stone’s sentencing memo, his lawyers argued a sentence of 15-21 months would be appropriate — and that anything above that was excessive.

Stone, a self-described “dirty trickster,” has been well-known in conservative circles dating to President Richard Nixon’s campaign. Stone, a Trump associate for over three decades, also served early on as an adviser to Trump’s 2016 campaign and has called the case against him politically motivated.

Stone was arrested and charged just over a year ago. He was the sixth Trump aide or adviser to be convicted of charges brought as part of the former special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe. The colorful trial in Washington lasted nearly two weeks and featured references to “The Godfather Part II,” threats of dognapping, complaints of food poisoning and a gag order. The jury deliberated for two days before handing down the verdict.

As a member of Mueller’s team, Zelinsky would play both good and bad cop while questioning witnesses in the Russia probe, witnesses told MSNBC’s Ari Melber last year. Former Trump campaign adviser Sam Nunberg said Zelinsky, who has clerked for Supreme Court Justices Anthony Kennedy and John Paul Stevens, was professional and asked appropriate questions. Another witness, Jerome Corsi, said Zelinsky was “a thug” who was “acting up” during his questioning.

This is not the first time a Trump associate in a Mueller-derived case has caught a sentencing break. Former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was sentenced to 47 months in prison last March by a federal judge in Virginia on financial fraud charges, considerably less than the federal guidelines of 19½ to 24 years. The judge in that case, Judge T.S. Ellis, called the guidelines “excessive.”

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Was Pete Buttigieg’s Father a Marxist Who Spoke Fondly of ‘Communist Manifesto’?

In early 2020, we received multiple inquiries from readers about the accuracy of a 10-month-old article which purported to highlight the left-wing ideology of Joseph Buttigieg, a prominent academic and the late father of Democratic presidential primary contender Pete Buttigieg.

The article, published in April 2019 by the right-leaning Washington Examiner, was later shared on social media at a time when the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, appeared to perform well in the disputed Iowa caucuses, and joined U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders in leading the polls ahead of the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 11.

The Washington Examiner piece bore the headline, “Pete Buttigieg’s Father Was a Marxist Professor Who Lauded the Communist Manifesto.” The article read:

The father of Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg was a Marxist professor who spoke fondly of the Communist Manifesto and dedicated a significant portion of his academic career to the work of Italian Communist Party founder Antonio Gramsci, an associate of Vladimir Lenin.

Joseph Buttigieg, who died in January at the age of 71, immigrated to the U.S. in the 1970s from Malta and in 1980 joined the University of Notre Dame faculty, where he taught modern European literature and literary theory. He supported an updated version of Marxism that jettisoned some of Marx and Engel’s more doctrinaire theories, though he was undoubtedly Marxist.

He was an adviser to Rethinking Marxism, an academic journal that published articles “that seek to discuss, elaborate, and/or extend Marxian theory,” and a member of the editorial collective of Boundary 2, a journal of postmodern theory, literature, and culture. He spoke at many Rethinking Marxism conferences and other gatherings of prominent Marxists.

In a 2000 paper for Rethinking Marxism critical of the approach of Human Rights Watch, Buttigieg, along with two other authors, refers to “the Marxist project to which we subscribe.”

In 1998, he wrote in an article for the Chronicle of Higher Education about an event in New York City celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Manifesto. He also participated in the event. “If The Communist Manifesto was meant to liberate the proletariat, the Manifesto itself in recent years needed liberating from Marxism’s narrow post-Cold War orthodoxies and exclusive cadres. It has been freed,” he wrote…

In analyzing the political beliefs of academic writers, one must often be careful not to conflate a researcher’s focus and dedication to a particular area of study, or to the writings and work of a particular subject, with unambiguous endorsement and support for those writings. (For example, think of historians who dedicate their careers to studying and writing about the actions of brutal dictators, or criminologists who pore over the lives and appalling offenses of serial killers.)

Likewise, it is common for academics ⁠— especially in the fields of philosophy, literary criticism, and political theory ⁠— to advance or speak highly of a certain argument or piece of writing based on the thoroughness or logical coherence of its arguments, or the novelty of its insights, rather than based purely on whether they “agree” with it in a straightforward sense. 

It’s also worth noting that Pete Buttigieg himself has clearly and consistently affirmed his support for capitalism (although he has emphasized that “it has to be democratic capitalism”), so it’s not clear what relevance his late father’s political ideology has to any discussion around the mayor’s presidential campaign.

With all that in mind, we carefully examined several of Joseph Buttigieg’s published writings, including those cited by the Washington Examiner. Based on those writings and pronouncements, it’s clear that he did indeed consistently articulate a broadly Marxist worldview, used terminology associated with Marxism and with the writings of the Marxist Italian theorist Antonio Gramsci, and also professed a fondness for — but also a critical view of — “The Communist Manifesto,” the massively influential text published by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in 1848. 

Analysis

Joseph Buttigieg moved to the United States from his native Malta in the 1970s, ultimately settling in South Bend, Indiana, where he was the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of English at the University of Notre Dame from 1980 until his retirement in 2017. He died in January 2019 at the age of 71. He researched the works of the Irish novelist James Joyce and most prominently, the life and work of Antonio Gramsci, the early 20th century Marxist theorist and co-founder of the Italian Communist Party.

The elder Buttigieg made a significant contribution to the study of Gramsci’s works with his three-volume English translation of Gramsci’s “Prison Notebooks” (“Quaderni del carcere”), and he served for a time as secretary of the International Gramsci Society.

Gramsci’s principal contribution to Marxist thought was in his development of the concept of “cultural hegemony,” according to which a ruling class exerts and perpetuates the existing power dynamic in a capitalist society by molding social norms, values, and mores in such a way that the oppressed class (referred to in Marxism as the “proletariat” and in Gramsci’s work as the “subaltern” class) adopts those values as if they were fixed and inevitable. In this way, according to the theory, capitalist power structures can perpetuate themselves in a non-violent, orderly manner by manufacturing and manipulating the unspoken and unwitting consent of those who are oppressed by those structures. 

In writing about Gramsci, Marxism, and concepts related to cultural hegemony, Joseph Buttigieg often engaged in comparative analysis and close reading of various texts, describing and contrasting the arguments of various contributors, assessing their weaknesses and strengths, and so on. This is typical of academic writing in the field of critical theory and philosophy. However, at times his own personal viewpoint became clear. 

For example, in a 1999 paper on the subject of globalization, colonialism, and the English language, Buttigieg described the work of Frantz Fanon, a post-colonialist political philosopher from the Caribbean island of Martinique. In his essay, Buttigieg first outlined Fanon’s arguments, quoting heavily from his writings, but then wrote that Fanon’s arguments “revealed” how “the colonized individual participates in his or her own subordination from the moment in which he or she aspires to acquire the language of the colonizer […].”

The use of the word “reveal” is crucial, because it signals that Joseph Buttigieg, in the ensuing passage, is switching modes from merely describing what Fanon had written, to offering his own personal viewpoint, which is that Fanon’s arguments illustrate a certain reality, rather than merely constituting a particular viewpoint. In doing so, the elder Buttigieg clearly demonstrates that he himself thinks the teaching of the English language in British colonies is an instance of Gramscian cultural hegemony, and articulates his own broader Marxist worldview. The passage reads as follows:

“Fanon’s exposition, constructed around a series of vignettes, reveals how the colonized individual participates in his or her own subordination from the moment in which he or she aspires to acquire the language of the colonizer and thus gain access to and appropriate the culture — the worldview — of the colonizer. The efforts of the colonized to gain fluency in the language of the colonial master only reinforce the stranglehold of the colonizer.”

Buttigieg also articulated his own personal viewpoint in a 1995 paper, also published in Boundary 2, a journal of postmodern theory. There, he wrote that Gramsci “could…perceive” how “a dominant class becomes securely entrenched […].” Buttigieg did not write that Gramsci “thought” or “claimed” or “argued” that the dominant class in a society perpetuated its power in a particular way. He wrote that Gramsci was able to perceive the way in which that happened — meaning that, according to Buttigieg’s own viewpoint, Gramsci had recognized a particular reality, rather than simply making a claim.

Even more clearly than the first example, the ensuing passage demonstrates that Joseph Buttigieg did not merely study or write about Gramsci’s strand of Marxism — he himself subscribed to it:

Even before he developed his concepts of civil society, hegemony, and so on, Gramsci could already perceive how a dominant class becomes securely entrenched not by forcefully repressing the antagonistic classes but rather by creating and disseminating what he calls a forma mentis [a mindset], and by establishing a system of government that embodies this forma mentis and translates it into an order, or, better still, makes it appear to be orderliness itself. 

For this to happen, of course, the dominant class or classes must accept that the government apparatus cannot always assert their corporate interests narrowly and directly; the necessary fiction that the government of the state transcends class distinctions can remain credible only if concessions are made to address the most pressing needs and to accommodate some of the aspirations of the disadvantaged strata of the population.

The groups that are out of power in this kind of state are allowed to aspire for power, but the prevailing forma mentis will induce them to pursue their goals in a manner that does not threaten the basic order or orderliness as such; in other words, they will not aim to overthrow the state and establish a new kind of state but instead will compete for a greater share of influence and power according to the established rules of the game. (This is what trade unions, for example, have often done; in the United States today, the same function is performed by so-called lobby groups.)

The two citations provided by the Washington Examiner were also authentic. In 2000, Joseph Buttigieg joined with two other authors in publishing a paper which evaluated some of Human Rights Watch’s proposals from a Marxist perspective, centered around “The Communist Manifesto.” One of the premises of that analysis was that human rights advocacy was often reductively legalistic, and failed to properly take into account the local, regional, and global socioeconomic forces that facilitated and perpetuated the kinds of human rights abuses highlighted by groups such as Human Rights Watch — a classic Marxist stance. 

In one section of the paper, the authors critically assessed some of the specific recommendations made by Human Rights Watch, drawing a distinction between “utopian” proposals and “fantastic” solutions to social ills and rights violations, as follows:

“Although we agree with Marx and Engels that one should reject fantastic solutions, we believe that it is important to distinguish between a Utopian imaginary that is conducive to social change and mere fantasies that are counterproductive. The very creation and promotion of an imaginary that transcends existing practices is essential to movements striving to generate social change. Even the discursive production of a Utopian future can affect public conceptions and expand the horizon of imagined possibilities. In fact, the Marxist project to which we subscribe is based on this kind of utopianism. While most of Human Rights Watch’s proposals are also Utopian in this constructive sense, at times it offers fantastic recommendations.” [Emphasis is added].

As an example of a counterproductive “fantastic” solution, the authors point to Human Rights Watch’s proposal that child workers in India be encouraged to form unions. According to the authors, including Joseph Buttigieg, that proposal fell into the category of a destructive fantasy, rather than a constructive, utopian goal, because it “lacks contextual sensitivity” and “does not take into account the powerlessness and utter vulnerability of these children,” as well as the violence and retribution to which even adult workers were subjected in response to efforts at organized protest.

The passage highlights two main points of interest. Firstly, it provides yet another demonstration that the elder Buttigieg not only wrote about and studied a particular version of the “Marxist project,” but that he subscribed to it, quite explicitly, as highlighted in the line quoted by the Washington Examiner. 

Secondly, it alludes to the fact that while Joseph Buttigieg clearly articulated a reverence for “The Communist Manifesto” (explicitly using it as the cornerstone of the paper’s examination of Human Rights Watch’s proposals), he also took a critical approach to it. This was shown at the outset of the paper, where the authors wrote:

“While we have chosen to use the Manifesto as the point of reference — and as a way of commemorating its recent 150th anniversary — we would like to indicate at the outset that we do not subscribe to a form of Marxism that privileges the economic base over the superstructure, nor do we concur with the Manifesto’s reductionist elements.”

Buttigieg and the other authors were alluding there to a strand in Marxist thought which somewhat de-emphasizes the importance of what Marx presented as the “base” — purely economic forces and power dynamics in society, such as the means of industrial production, relations between employer and employee, and so on — and somewhat emphasizes the importance of what Marx presented as the “superstructure” — politics, civil society, institutions, and culture. 

This is in keeping with Gramsci’s shift beyond “economic determinism” and his emphasis on the role of culture in perpetuating power dynamics (cultural hegemony), and also illustrates his anti-dogmatic vision of Marxism, referred to as “open Marxism” — two key tenets that Buttigieg shared. On the subject of Gramsci’s “open Marxism,” Buttigieg wrote in 1992:

“The antidogmatism of Antonio Gramsci — so salient a feature of his behavior as a political leader, of his theories, and of his overall approach to intellectual inquiry — is one of the principal reasons why his work continues to attract sympathetic consideration from readers of all political stripes even at a time when Marxist thought has been given up for dead.”

So while it’s true, as the Washington Examiner pointed out, that Joseph Buttigieg took part in a 1998 event commemorating the 150th anniversary of “The Communist Manifesto,” and clearly regarded that text with a degree of reverence, he also viewed it critically and, like Gramsci, explicitly rejected what he presented as its overly-narrow emphasis on the role of purely economic forces in class struggle. 

In the same report on that 1998 event, the elder Buttigieg described how live readings from “The Communist Manifesto” were juxtaposed with Tony Kushner’s live reading of his play “Slavs!” which includes a satire of Gorbachev-era dogmatic Marxists. Buttigieg wrote:

“After a musical interlude, seven people read different portions of the Manifesto. Listening to it read, one could not help but be struck by the poignancy of its prose. Yet, Kushner et al. had implicitly warned even us faithful to guard against conferring upon it the status of Scripture, a repository of doctrinal verities.” [Emphasis is added].

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Why Joe Biden’s South Carolina firewall isn’t as solid as he thinks

Our conversation, conducted via email and lightly edited for flow, is below.

Cillizza: How much (or little) does what happened in Iowa (and will happen tonight in New Hampshire) impact South Carolina voters? How closely are they following it?

Kropf: I don’t think what happened in Iowa or New Hampshire tonight matters a plate of potatoes in the South Carolina race in terms of siding with the winners. It is a complete and total restart, or can be.

Geographically, those two states are places far away from South Carolina, where the results are seen as “association” performances with where the candidates come from. Pete Buttigieg is a Midwesterner, so of course he is going to do well in Iowa. Same with Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in New Hampshire.

Joe Biden isn’t a Southerner, but he comes to South Carolina with deeper associations: Barack Obama, [Rep.] Jim Clyburn and [late Sen.] Fritz Hollings.

If anything, the results could scare Biden folks into rallying for him if that becomes the message his campaign sends out forcefully.

But — and this is what I think has been overlooked the most so far — this is the FIRST RACE HERE OF ANY KIND IN DECADES in South Carolina where Democrats have ballot choices.

For the past 25 years, Democrats have been clobbered in every statewide race, whether the candidate has some credibility or is a complete inexperienced longshot. None of these races since the 1990s have been competitive as the state went solid red, be it for governor or US Senate.

The lack of choices was especially a factor in 2008, when Barack Obama smashed Hillary Clinton, and then four years ago when Clinton won in a walkaway, even to the point that Sanders left the state early before the primary.

So of course the favorites won.

But now Democrats have a dozen people on the ballot. They are ecstatic.

With 6-7 new fresh voices Democrats have to pick from, both men and women, that is what is really confounding the so-called Biden firewall collapse.

Sanders, Steyer, Warren, even Yang and Bloomberg have their followers now, which is like I said, the rarity in a Democratic primary as the electorate spreads out and sprinkles across the board.

Even if Buttigieg is hypothetically polling at 10%, that’s 35,000-plus voters in his camp in the state (assuming the turnout is above 2016’s 350,000).

Cillizza: What is the current state of the race in South Carolina? Biden comfortably ahead?

Kropf: Biden is ahead horse-race style, but I don’t know about comfortably.

We did a survey of the 46 county party Democratic chairs and most all mentioned Biden’s name first as being the candidate at the top of their community’s interest.

That’s good news for him. But we described it as more as a “shrug” of support than clapping enthusiasm.

Sanders, Warren and Steyer all got votes from the chairs so it means Democrats are looking around, which is not what the Biden people want.

The big question that’s to be determined is, what will non-committed Democrats do in three weeks, make a pick on some policy choice or play ping-pong in their heads over who has the best chance in the fall of defeating Donald Trump?

Cillizza: How much of a presence have the candidates had in South Carolina? Who has been in the state the most? Who is seen as having the best organization?

Kropf: Cory Booker and Kamala Harris made the most stops in the state, but they are long gone. Who’s next among the current candidates? Steyer, with 38 events. Biden, meanwhile, is way down the appearance list at 23.

Steyer has made significant outreach to the black community, which will be better than 60% of the turnout in the primary.

He’s doing more advertising and home mail outs than anyone. It shows what can happen with an unlimited budget.

Even if he finishes behind Biden here by 10 points, it’s a huge bounce toward Super Tuesday.

Cillizza: Is there an “average” or “typical” South Carolina Democratic primary voter? What does he or she look like? What are his or her politics?

Kropf: No, there is no average or typical South Carolina Democratic voter.

South Carolina is going through an incredible influx of retirees and new faces moving in. We did an event with [former Massachusetts Gov.] Deval Patrick recently and someone from his high school was in the audience to surprise him. He had retired down here [and] 50% of the 100 people there were Massachusetts transplants with Boston Red Sox hats on, so that tells you the appeal of getting out of the cold to the sunshine.

Beyond the black vote (which is by no means monolithic) that will dominate the turnout, we also have the same demographics as in other states. College students and young people, suburbanites.

Cillizza: Finish this sentence: “Joe Biden’s biggest threat in SC is . Now, explain.

Kropf: “… not being here 24/7 from here on out.” Biden is seen as a candidate who really hasn’t been here that much. Is he counting on his name to win? That would be a mistake.

He has to campaign here and have big events even if his numbers don’t keep up with the rockstar-like forums Sanders is famous for. The night before the February 25 debate, Biden is doing a big-dollar closed fundraiser. No big rallies have been planned. Shouldn’t he be here all day Wednesday?

Meanwhile, it wouldn’t be out of sorts to expect Trump to come down to South Carolina for a rally of some kind before the primary where he will say things about the Democrats. Biden needs to show energy.

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2020 New Hampshire primary: Fast facts

Tuesday night marks 100 years of New Hampshire being the first-in-the-nation primary state. It will also, hopefully, be the same night the state announces who won its Democratic primary.

The Democratic field didn’t narrow after the Iowa caucuses, which were marred by technical issues and delayed results. The question is whether New Hampshire will provide more clarity. Sen. Bernie Sanders appears to have solidified support among liberals, but the moderate vote is still up for grabs.

Here’s what you need to know about tonight’s Democratic primary election:

What time do the polls close?

It varies by location — polling places can’t close until 7 p.m. Eastern, when the majority of locations will shut their doors. Some, however, will stay open until 8 p.m. A few dozen New Hampshirites will also cast votes in small towns that traditionally open their polling locations from midnight until every eligible voter has cast a ballot.

Who’s on the ballot?

There are a few dozen names on the ballot, including nearly all the major candidates still in the race, some who dropped out, and others most voters have never heard of before.

Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar are battling to be the main moderate alternative to Sanders, with former Vice President Joe Biden falling behind in polls. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren needs a strong finish after coming in third in Iowa to Sanders and Buttigieg.

Also on the ballot: Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer and businessman Andrew Yang.

Wait, I feel like someone’s missing

Former New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg opted to skip qualifying for the ballot in all four early-voting states in favor of focusing his time and vast fortune on the 16 primaries happening on March 3, also known as Super Tuesday.

Will New Hampshire run more smoothly than Iowa?

The bar has been set low, but primaries are way less complicated than caucuses. Primaries are run by state governments, while caucuses are run by political party volunteers. And instead of using a new app, New Hampshire will stick to paper ballots.

How many delegates are up for grabs?

New Hampshire has 24 national delegates. There are 16 district-level delegates divided between the state’s two congressional districts, five at-large delegates and three pledged party leader and elected official delegates. Candidates need to get at least 15% of the vote in a district or statewide to reach the delegate threshold. If no candidate reaches 15% — which is unlikely based on current polling — the threshold is half of whatever the front-runner’s vote percentage is in the district.

Who can vote in the primary?

The primary is open to registered Democrats and independent voters who request the Democratic ballot. Voters must be 18 years old on or before Feb. 11. Same-day voter registration is allowed.

John is a special correspondent.

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Mueller’s Prosecutor Abruptly Resigns From Roger Stone Case After DOJ Backs Down From Excessive Sentencing

BREAKING: Mueller’s Prosecutor Abruptly Resigns From Roger Stone Case After DOJ Backs Down From Excessive Sentencing


Roger Stone

Aaron Zelinsky, one of Mueller’s prosecutors abruptly moved to withdraw from Roger Stone’s case on Tuesday after the DOJ backed down from Stone’s abusive sentencing recommendation OF 7 to 9 years in prison.

BRAD HEATH: The notice doesn’t give a reason – it cites to a local court rule that requires the U.S. government to designate a DOJ attorney who will appear on behalf of the government. Zelinsky signed the withdraw notice.

CNBC reported:

A federal prosecutor in the criminal case against President Donald Trump’s ally Roger Stone dramatically resigned Tuesday shortly after the Department of Justice said it will force prosecutors to cut their recommended prison sentence for Republican political operative.

Aaron Zelinsky’s resignation as a special assistant U.S. Attorney in Washington, D.C., was announced in a footnote of a court filing notifying a judge that Zelinsky was withdrawing from Stone’s case.

“This Court is advised that the undersigned attorney has resigned effective immediately after this filing as a Special Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia,” the filing said.

The Department of Justice said it was “shocked” at the excessive prison term being sought by Mueller’s prosecutors because it wasn’t what the DOJ was initially briefed on.

“The Department was shocked to see the sentencing recommendation in the filing in the Stone case last night,” the official told Fox News. “The sentencing recommendation was not what had been briefed to the Department.”

Either Mueller’s thugs lied to the DOJ or they sought more prison time for Roger Stone in retaliation for Trump’s impeachment acquittal.

Good riddance, Zelinsky!

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Justice Department undercuts own prosecutors on Trump ally Stone’s sentencing

The stunning and politically charged decision, which is expected to be filed in Washington federal court later Tuesday, comes hours after Trump publicly criticized the recommendation, and the move will again raise questions about the Justice Department’s independence from political pressure.

Prosecutors from the US Attorney’s office in Washington, who are employees of the Justice Department, had said Monday that Stone should be sentenced to seven to nine years in prison after he was convicted on seven charges last year that derived from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, including lying to Congress and witness tampering.

But on Tuesday, the senior official said that that sentencing recommendation, transmitted to a judge and signed off on by the office’s top prosecutor, had not been communicated to leadership at the Justice Department.

“The Department was shocked to see the sentencing recommendation,” the official told CNN. “The Department believes the recommendation is extreme and excessive and is grossly disproportionate to Stone’s offenses.”

Overnight Tuesday, Trump objected to the prosecutors’ recommendation, lambasting them on Twitter for what the President called a “horrible and very unfair situation.”

“The real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them. Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!” Trump said.

The decision to make the change was directed by the leadership of the Justice Department, the official said. The department made the decision before the President’s tweet and without consultation with the White House, according to Kerri Kupec, a Justice Department spokeswoman. The White House referred a request for comment to the Justice Department, and the US attorney’s office in Washington declined to comment.

Grant Smith, an attorney for Stone, said they look forward to reviewing the government’s latest filing shortly.

“We have read with interest the new reporting on Roger Stone’s case. Our sentencing memo outlined our position on the recommendation made yesterday by the government. We look forward to reviewing the government’s supplemental filing,” Smith said in a statement. Stone’s attorneys had argued a sentence of 15 to 21 months would be appropriate.

Shock over department’s move

It’s not immediately clear whether the Justice Department’s revised recommendation will affect the decision of the presiding judge in the case, Amy Berman Jackson, who will have broad authority to sentence Stone as she sees fit on February 20.

But the move to overrule federal prosecutors after they’ve already made a public commitment is rare, and quickly reverberated throughout the ranks of career Justice Department employees, with prosecutors from another high-profile US attorney’s office expressing shock to CNN.

Tensions have simmered at the department in recent months over Attorney General William Barr’s penchant to be closely involved in matters big and small in the department, Justice officials say. The attorney general has a reputation as a micro-manager and that has manifested itself in odd ways.

Barr in recent weeks appointed Timothy Shea, a close aide, to be acting US attorney in Washington in a clumsy transition with the former US Attorney Jesse Liu, who was moving to a post at the Treasury Department.

Liu had been waiting to move to the new job, but Barr’s move to appoint Shea while Liu was still awaiting her hearing created an awkward transition.

Shea had qualms about the sentencing recommendation on Stone made by line prosecutors, but went along with it, perhaps as a way to win over his troops in the office, one official said

Barr’s decision to disavow and sharply criticize a decision made by Shea severely undermines him in his new job, officials say.

Federal prosecutors and a person convicted of crimes both have the opportunity to submit a memorandum to the court ahead of their sentencing hearing, asking for certain amounts of prison time or less severe punishments. At the sentencing hearing, they’ll speak again to the judge about their wishes before the judge makes a final decision.

In Stone’s case, prosecutors reasoned on Monday that he deserved seven to nine years in prison especially because of his threats of violence as he attempted to intimidate an associate from testifying to Congress and because he broke a gag order several times while awaiting trial, including when he posted a photo of Jackson on Instagram with crosshairs behind her head. Stone disagreed that these actions were as serious as the prosecutors said.

Major player in Russia investigation

Stone lied to Congress five times while testifying to the US House privately in September 2017 about his attempts to gain information from WikiLeaks and help Trump. Federal prosecutors have also argued that Stone’s lies to House investigators substantially interfered with their Russia investigation.

“Investigations into election interference concern our national security, the integrity of our democratic processes, and the enforcement of our nation’s criminal laws. These are issues of paramount concern to every citizen of the United States. Obstructing such critical investigations thus strikes at the very heart of our American democracy,” the prosecutors added.

Prosecutors also discussed how Stone pressured an associate to lie to Congress and slammed Stone for the “low regard in which he held these proceedings” in court. They revisited several episodes where Stone posted on social media or communicated with members of the media and right-wing radio host Alex Jones about his case and Mueller’s investigation while he was barred by the judge from speaking publicly.

This story has been updated to include additional context, background information and reaction.

CNN’s Shimon Prokupecz, Katelyn Polantz, Sara Murray and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.