By Robert A. Vella
Analyzing the dynamics of the 2020 U.S. presidential election is like trying to see distinct patterns in the spiraling debris of an F5 tornado as it cuts a swath of destruction through residential areas. Nevertheless, I will endeavor to do so no matter how much discomfort it causes to me and to the readers of this blog. It’s indescribably important. America, and perhaps the world, has arrived at an incredibly dangerous crossroad. What we do in the here and now, and how well we understand it, will have profound consequences far beyond the next four-year term of the U.S. presidency.
Today, the Nevada caucuses are being held amidst the turmoil of corrupt, dictatorial and traitorous Donald Trump as POTUS, Russian interference to help him get reelected, a sycophantic Republican Party which has enabled him, and an opposition Democratic Party riddled with incompetence, conflicted over its identity, and vulnerable to a host of outside forces determined to fracture it into impotence. And, if all those weren’t bad enough, there are more beasts prowling in and around the 2020 election such as the intense cultural polarization ripping the country apart, the slow but steady demise of an informed and engaged citizenry, and the terribly unfortunate rise of ideological extremism which rejects the very public institutions that are essential for social cohesion.
Although the 2020 general election will be first and foremost a national referendum on Trump, the primary elections leading up to it are focused on one candidate who is challenging him. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is leading the Democratic field and from all indications he is gaining momentum. His campaign infrastructure in most states is superb, his grassroots fundraising operations are strong, and he is eliciting enthusiastic support from typically unenthusiastic young people like no other candidate has in recent memory. Voter turnout, which is vital for Democrats and a death-knell for the GOP, is undeniably up from 2016 due to widespread anti-Trump sentiment plus this particular Bernie factor. Conversely, it is also a target for Republicans’ voter suppression schemes, very unsettling to the Democratic Party’s corporate establishment, and – as we shall see – exploitable by Russia and possibly other foreign powers.
Earlier this month, I speculated about the “mood of the electorate” being different in 2020 compared to 2016 after 3+ years of President Trump. Certainly, the massive shift of suburban voters (mostly women) away from Republicans and towards Democrats supports that assertion. It also supports my other contention that a “likeable moderate” candidate would be the best choice for Democrats to pit against Trump. However, it appears that I underestimated Bernie’s self-proclaimed ability to expand the electorate. He is not only inspiring young people, he is gaining support among Blacks and Hispanics too who largely supported Hillary Clinton four years ago. Bernie also appeals to disaffected working class white men, most notably in the Midwest rustbelt states, who voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012 but who voted for Trump in 2016. So, it seems that America’s populist sentiment is still present. Don’t believe rhetoric to the contrary, Bernie can win the general election.
Here’s where it gets tricky for a Bernie-versus-Trump matchup in November, however. First, we have absolutely no idea how many of those swing suburban voters might switch back to Trump. Second, we do know that the corporate establishment’s ideological resentment of Sanders has been and still is being exploited by Vladimir Putin’s Russia to divide the Democratic Party. If Dems lose their unity as they did in 2016, they have virtually no chance of defeating Trump.
Addendum: The GOP cancelled its primaries in Nevada, South Carolina, and Kansas last year to prevent a viable internal challenge to Trump. Former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld is running against Trump, and he wants to garner enough delegates to earn a speaking role at the Republican National Convention.
Here’s today’s stories (note; Donny Deutsch referenced in the following article is a marketing professional and frequent talking-head on MSNBC and other news networks who is well-connected in corporate circles):
From November 17, 2019: Krystal Ball rips report saying Obama would intervene to stop Sanders [emphasis by The Secular Jurist]
Well, one thing that’s important to realize is that not just Obama, but many of the elite preservers of the status quo in the Democratic party would rather see trump re-elected than Bernie as president. Some of them have said it outwardly. Donny Deutsch gave up the game when he said he’d rather vote for Trump than a socialist. Everyone in the donor class I know is never Bernie. Remember, they’re all making money under trump! that includes Obama, that includes the oligarchs, that includes the professional managerial class. And that’s why Obama, who stayed silent through all sorts of Trump era atrocities, feels that he simply must intervene if Bernie had a shot. After all, nothing would be a bigger repudiation of Obama era politics than for Democrats to nominate Bernie Sanders.
U.S. officials have told Sen. Bernie Sanders that Russia is attempting to help his presidential campaign as part of an effort to interfere with the Democratic contest, according to people familiar with the matter.
It is not clear what form that Russian assistance has taken. U.S. prosecutors found a Russian effort in 2016 to use social media to boost Sanders’s campaign against Hillary Clinton, part of a broader effort to hurt Clinton, sow dissension in the American electorate and ultimately help elect Donald Trump.
“I don’t care, frankly, who [Russian President Vladimir] Putin wants to be president,” Sanders said in a statement. “My message to Putin is clear: Stay out of American elections, and as president I will make sure that you do.
“In 2016, Russia used Internet propaganda to sow division in our country, and my understanding is that they are doing it again in 2020. Some of the ugly stuff on the Internet attributed to our campaign may well not be coming from real supporters.”
At a rally Friday in Nevada, Trump called reports that Putin wanted to help him “disinformation.”
Michael R. Bloomberg’s presidential campaign has been experimenting with novel tactics to cultivate an online following, or at least the appearance of one.
But one of these strategies — deploying a large number of Twitter accounts to push out identical messages — has backfired. On Friday, Twitter began suspending 70 accounts posting pro-Bloomberg content in a pattern that violates company rules.
“We have taken enforcement action on a group of accounts for violating our rules against platform manipulation and spam,” a Twitter spokesman said. Some of the suspensions will be permanent, while in other cases account owners will have to verify they have control of their accounts.
As part of a far-reaching social media strategy, the Bloomberg campaign has hired hundreds of temporary employees to pump out campaign messages through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. These “deputy field organizers” receive $2,500 per month to promote the former New York mayor’s candidacy within their personal social circles, in addition to other, more conventional duties. They receive campaign-approved language that they can opt to post.
LAS VEGAS, Nevada — Nearly 75,000 Nevadans participated early in the state’s Democratic U.S. presidential nominating contest, the party said on Friday, a sign of a potentially large turnout in the first test for the candidates in the diverse western United States.
Nevada on Saturday holds its caucuses, the third contest in the state-by-state battle to determine a Democratic challenger to Republican President Donald Trump in the Nov. 3 election. The party said the majority of the early caucus voters were first-time participants in the process. The number of early participants is nearly as high as the entire caucus count from 2016, when 84,000 Nevadans participated.
The large early turnout might represent a positive sign for U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who is relying on bringing in new voters to fuel his campaign.
The Nevada State Democratic Party is asking site leaders for Saturday’s caucuses to sign non-disclosure agreements that would prevent them from speaking to the media.
The news comes just one day before the Nevada Democratic caucuses. The caucus process here in Nevada has come under intense scrutiny after a similar process melted down in Iowa. Nevada Democrats, led by operatives with ties to former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, have worked for weeks to ensure the caucus goes smoothly, worried that a poor showing could imperil the state’s first in the west status and further undermine the entire nomination process.
The NDA appears to be one that is used for other purposes by the NSDP, since it also references activities other than the caucuses.
“If I am a volunteer and answering phones at the NSDP office or volunteering at an official NSDP event, I am a representative of the NSDP and am not authorized to speak to the press unless given permission by the Executive Director or Communications Director.”
President Donald Trump’s new acting intelligence director, Richard Grenell, used to do consulting work on behalf of an Eastern European oligarch who is now a fugitive and was recently barred from entering the U.S. under anti-corruption sanctions imposed last month by the State Department.
In 2016, Grenell wrote several articles defending the oligarch, a Moldovan politician named Vladimir Plahotniuc, but did not disclose that he was being paid, according to records and interviews. Grenell also did not register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which generally requires people to disclose work in the U.S. on behalf of foreign politicians.
FARA is the same law that Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and former deputy campaign manager Rick Gates were convicted of violating. (Manafort went to trial. Gates pleaded guilty.)
When President Trump ticks off his accomplishments since taking office, he frequently mentions his aggressive makeover of a key sector of the federal judiciary — the circuit courts of appeal, where he has appointed 51 judges to lifetime jobs in three years.
In few places has the effect been felt more powerfully than in the sprawling 9th Circuit, which covers California and eight other states. Because of Trump’s success in filling vacancies, the San Francisco-based circuit, long dominated by Democratic appointees, has suddenly shifted to the right, with an even more pronounced tilt expected in the years ahead.
Trump has now named 10 judges to the 9th Circuit — more than one-third of its active judges — compared with seven appointed by President Obama over eight years.
A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, filed in 2019 against Fusion GPS, the firm at the heart of the controversy surrounding Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Judge Liam O’Grady of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia wrote in a two-page ruling that Nunes’s complaint was too vague to move forward with a civil case and that the Virginia court was not the appropriate setting for the suit.
Fusion GPS was the firm that produced the Steele dossier, which was the result of a project for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee. The document, named for its author, former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, produced raw intelligence on connections between Trump and his allies and Russia.
Nunes said in his suit that the defendants targeted him with a litany of ethics complaints and negative publicity after he challenged the dossier’s veracity.
A federal court blocked efforts Friday night to transfer dozens of patients who tested positive for the coronavirus from Travis Air Force Base in Northern California to an empty building in Southern California.
U.S. District Judge Josephine Staton granted a temporary restraining order after the city of Costa Mesa filed a request for an injunction earlier in the day. Named as defendants were the Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Defense, U.S. Air Force, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and the California Department of General Services.
The man accused of fatally stabbing two people and injuring a third during a hate-filled rant aboard a Portland, Oregon, train in 2017 was found guilty Friday on all 12 charges, including two counts of first-degree murder and three counts of second-degree intimidation.
Jurors also found Jeremy Christian, 37, guilty of assault, unlawful use of a weapon and menacing passengers. He will be sentenced during a separate hearing.
Authorities said Christian shouted hate speech that included anti-Muslim comments on a light-rail train. Some of the rants were directed at two teenage girls, one of whom was wearing a head scarf. In Oregon, second-degree intimidation includes hate speech.
During his tirade, Christian also spoke of beheadings and shouted “Go home, we need America here!,” the Oregonian reported.
The girls moved to the back of the train to get away from Christian, and three people tried to intervene. Two of them, Rick Best, 53, an Army veteran and father of four, and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, 23, were stabbed and killed. A third victim, Micah Fletcher, who was 21 at the time, narrowly escaped death.
In New Jersey’s annual Terrorism Threat Assessment report, released Friday, the state raised the threat level for white supremacist extremists to “high” — the topmost category for threat levels for any extremist group there.
The only other threat listed as high as white supremacist extremists are homegrown violent extremists, who also held the top place in 2019’s report.
SEATTLE — Greyhound, the nation’s largest bus company, said Friday it will stop allowing Border Patrol agents without a warrant to board its buses to conduct routine immigration checks.
The company’s announcement came one week after The Associated Press reported on a leaked Border Patrol memo confirming that agents can’t board private buses without the consent of the bus company. Greyhound had previously insisted that even though it didn’t like the immigration checks, it had no choice under federal law but to allow them.
In an emailed statement, the company said it would notify the Department of Homeland Security that it does not consent to unwarranted searches on its buses or in areas of terminals that are not open to the general public. It said it would provide its drivers and bus station employees updated training regarding the new policy, and that it would place stickers on all its buses clearly stating that it does not consent to the searches.
Wells Fargo, the nation’s fourth-largest bank, agreed Friday to pay a $3 billion fine to settle a civil lawsuit and resolve a criminal prosecution filed by the Justice Department over its fake account scandal.
Under pressure to meet sales quotas, bank employees opened millions of savings and checking accounts in the names of actual customers, without their knowledge or consent. Since the fraud became public in 2016, the bank has faced a torrent of lawsuits. The scheme lasted more than a decade, Justice Department officials said, and was carried out by thousands of Wells Fargo employees.