Soooper Tuesday Morning Open Thread

texas babes super tuesday danziger

(Jeff Danziger’s website)

Per the NYTimes, “Donald Trump Finds Ally in Delegate Selection System, Much to G.O.P.’s Chagrin”:

… Hoping to avoid a repeat of the messy fight for the Republican nomination in 2012, the party drew up a calendar and delegate-selection rules intended to allow a front-runner to wrap things up quickly.

Now, with Republicans voting in 11 states on Tuesday, the worst fears of the party’s establishment are coming true: Donald J. Trump could all but seal his path to the nomination in a case of unintended consequences for the party leadership, which vehemently opposes him.

“Trump has significant advantages, and that’s the way the system is designed,” said Joshua T. Putnam, a political science lecturer at the University of Georgia with an expertise in delegate selection. “It’s right in line with what the folks designing these rules wanted. It’s just not the candidate they preferred.”

As the calendar flips, March brings a whirlwind of states voting on the same days and in quick succession. By the middle of the month, 58 percent of the total delegates will have been awarded, and Mr. Trump could be unstoppable in getting the 1,237 needed to clinch the nomination.

With the exception of Texas, the home state of Senator Ted Cruz, recent polls show Mr. Trump leading in the so-called Super Tuesday states that vote this week, including Alabama, Georgia, Massachusetts and Virginia. Though Texas has the most delegates of states voting on Tuesday, 155, they all award delegates proportionally, so that Mr. Cruz will most likely have to share the haul…

Meanwhile, on our “mostly harmless sane” side of the aisle, the people at the top have stayed about as civil as politics ever gets. Despite a fake NYTimes article “widely circulated on social media”, that includes my own senior senator, as reported in Politico:

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are battling it out in Massachusetts ahead of the March 1 primary here — and the state’s most important endorsement, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, is still sitting on the sidelines of the debate, watching and waiting for her moment of maximum leverage.

Even as Clinton turns Massachusetts — a predominantly white, progressive New England state that should be tailor-made for Sanders — into a battleground Super Tuesday state, the campaign has been quietly respectful of Warren’s desire to remain neutral.

In part, that’s because the progressive standard-bearer — and the only member of the state’s congressional delegation who has not endorsed Clinton — is expected to play the role of peacemaker in the Democratic Party at some point in the months leading up to the convention, sources familiar with Warren’s thinking said.

If Clinton wins enough delegates by the end of March to become the presumptive Democratic nominee, Warren is expected to negotiate hard before giving her support to Clinton. In doing so, she could play a critical role helping to bring young, enthusiastic Sanders supporters into her fold…

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Apart for stocking up on popcorn, and Pepto-Bismol, for this evening’s results-watching, what’s on the agenda for the day?



Open Thread: I {Heart} My Senior Senator

… and I hope she’s in the Senate, speaking the deeply partisan, rudely divisive TRUTH, for a great many years to come!



Saturday Morning Open Thread: Leftovers

gop leftovers sheneman

(Drew Sheneman via GoComics.com)

Because sometimes all you can do is cope. One foot in front of the other, one step at a time. Got a nice Thanksgiving message (okay, a block email) from my senior Senator Elizabeth Warren…

I buy all sorts of things for Thanksgiving that no one in the family eats much during the rest of the year. Jell-O for Aunt Bee’s special dish (she’s gone, but the green Jell-O salad lives on). Canned onion rings. Marshmallows.

I’d stopped doing the sweet potatoes with toasted marshmallows on top, only to get protests from the family. I said I wasn’t going to keep making it. “You don’t eat more than a few nibbles, and I end up throwing most of it out.”

My daughter Amelia and son Alex dissolved into gales of laughter. “No, no, you’ve got to keep making it.” Even Bruce was in on the joke.

Finally they confessed why they looked forward to the dish. The last thing I do, once all the dishes are laid out and the turkey is on the table, is put the sweet potato casserole topped with carefully arranged marshmallows under the broiler, while everyone heads to the table.

And about half the time, I get distracted and remember the sweet potatoes only after the marshmallows have caught fire.

Amelia and Alex claim that, while they were growing up, that was the highlight of Thanksgiving: Would mom set the marshmallows on fire again this year? And, if I did start a fire, how exciting would it be? Would I scream? Would I set the kitchen towels on fire again? Would I carry the flaming dish to the sink while everyone rushed into the kitchen and yelled advice? …

Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful. As I look around this morning at my own kids and grandkids, making new traditions and hopefully not setting the house on fire, I’m deeply thankful to have the opportunity to fight for families in Massachusetts and all across the country – and I’m thankful to have you with me for those fights.

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Best of luck to all the people traveling after the holiday (or wishing they were). What else is on the agenda for the day?



Open Thread: Do the Right Thing

Have I mentioned recently that I {heart} my senior Senator? From the Hill article:

… “[Syrians are] terrified that the world will turn its back on them and their children. Some politicians have already moved in that direction, proposing to close our country to people fleeing the massacre in Syria,” Warren said. “That is not a real plan to keep us safe.”

She added that the United States has “a choice either to lead the world by example or to turn our backs to the threats and the suffering around us.”…

She also took a veiled shot at the Republican presidential field, where Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush have suggested refugee resettlement should focus on Christians.

Warren said that the United States isn’t a country that sends “children back into the hands of ISIS murderers because some politician doesn’t like their religion, and we are not a nation that backs down out of fear.” …

Back here in Massachusetts, Rep. Stephen Lynch has apparently decided to become the Masshole Pete King, but he’s not getting much backup, per local news channel WCVB:

… Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-MA, Wednesday called for a “pause” in Obama’s plan to bring 10,000 Syrian refugees into the United States, the only member of the Massachusetts delegation calling for a suspension…

But a survey of the other 10 members of the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation revealed continued support for Obama.

“Proposing to close our country to the people fleeing the massacre in Syria,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, “is not a real plan to keep us safe and that is not who we are.”

Warren said the current vetting process takes up to two years and is far more stringent and thorough than the “open border” policy now in place in most European countries.

The rest of the delegation agreed with Warren that most of the terrorists in the Paris attack had legitimate European visas that would allow them to enter the U.S. outside of any refugee plan.

“We can not shut the door on the very people that ISIS is trying to persecute,” said Rep. Seth Moulton, D-MA. “That is just playing into the hands of the enemy.

“We never let the enemy change our values,” said Moulton, a former U.S. Marine…

That Moulton kid is new to this politics stuff, but I get the feeling he should be included on the list of Young Dems with A Bright Future. He’s gone on the record criticizing our Governor, Charlie ‘Chickenshit’ Baker, for playing the ‘more study needed before we admit any scary Syrian refugees’ card. And, per the Boston Globe‘s Yvonne Abraham, he’s got a pretty good rebuttal to the inevitable “If you want them here so badly, why don’t you take in a refugee?”:

… His translator in Iraq was devoted to those values, Moulton said. “He exemplifies the American dream more than just about anybody I know.” He risked his life, and his family’s, to defend it. When civil war descended on his country, and insurgents targeted his family, it became impossible for the translator — here on a Fulbright scholarship — to return home, so he applied for asylum.

For a while, he lived with the Moulton family in Marblehead. Moulton says he is like a brother.

Even with a decorated Marine captain supporting his application, it took 16 months to complete the security checks and grant the translator asylum. “And he already had a record of service, of literally putting his life on the line for our country in combat,” Moulton said.

Refugees submit to more screening than any other category of traveler coming to the United States, Moulton said, and the State Department and the White House back him up. And it’s not like they’re piling onto boats and streaming over the borders en masse, as they have been in Europe. They don’t set foot in this country until they go through a vetting that takes 18 to 24 months…

Say it with me: Proud to Be A Democrat!



Late Night SMDH Open Thread

And this won’t help the Media Village Idiots get focused, but kudos to my senior Senator. Wesley Lowery, at the Washington Post, “Elizabeth Warren just gave the speech that Black Lives Matter activists have been waiting for“:

In a Sunday speech on racial inequality, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) called for broad policing reform — including de-escalation training and body cameras for all police officers — and likened the current Black Lives Matter movement to the civil rights movement that won black Americans the right to vote in the 1960s.

“None of us can ignore what is happening in this country. Not when our black friends, family, neighbors literally fear dying in the streets.” Warren said. “This is the reality all of us must confront, as uncomfortable and ugly as that reality may be. It comes to us to once again affirm that black lives matter, that black citizens matter, that black families matter.”…

“Economic justice is not — and has never been — sufficient to ensure racial justice. Owning a home won’t stop someone from burning a cross on the front lawn. Admission to a school won’t prevent a beating on the sidewalk outside,” Warren declared. “The tools of oppression were woven together, and the civil rights struggle was fought against that oppression wherever it was found — against violence, against the denial of voting rights and against economic injustice.”

Warren’s address, delivered at the Edward Kennedy Institute in Boston, was perhaps the most full-throated endorsement to date by a federal lawmaker for the ongoing protest movement, and it drew immediate praise from some of the most visible activists…



Fast-Track to Nowhere

George Zornick reports at The Nation:

Senators Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown sent Obama a letter demanding that he release the bracketed negotiating text of TPP before Congress votes on fast-track authority. The duo noted that even George W. Bush released the texts of the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas “several months” before Congressional action was required, and asked Obama to do the same.

In comments to reporters Friday, Obama said “The one that gets on my nerves the most is the notion that this is a ‘secret’ deal.” In a shot widely interpreted as directed at Warren, he said: “Every single one of the critics who I hear saying, ‘this is a secret deal,’ or send out emails to their fundraising base saying they’re working to prevent this secret deal, can walk over today and read the text of the agreement. There’s nothing secret about it.”

Warren and Brown took this claim on directly in their letter…

… As a result of your administration’s decision, it is currently illegal for the press, experts, advocates, or the general public to review the text of this agreement. And while you noted that members of Congress may “walk over…and read the text of the agreement”—as we have done—you neglected to mention that we are prohibited by law from discussing the specifics of that text in public.

While experts, the public, and the press are not allowed to review the latest draft of the TPP, executives of the country’s biggest corporations and their lobbyists already have had significant opportunities not only to read it, but to shape its terms. The Administration’s 28 trade advisory committees on different aspects of the TPP have a combined 566 members, and 480 of those members, or 85%, are senior corporate executives or industry lobbyists. Many of the advisory committees—including those on chemicals and pharmaceuticals, textiles and clothing, and services and finance—are made up entirely of industry representatives…

Warren and Brown also noted that the fast-track bill being considered in Congress now could be in effect until 2021, meaning future presidents (i.e., President Scott Walker) could use the authority it grants to ram through even worse trade deals with no amendments possible, and a low vote threshold.

The fast-track legislation has passed both the House Ways & Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, and awaits full floor action in the coming days…

More information, including the full text of the letter, at the link.

Additional notes from the Huffington Post:

… Some of Obama’s claims about TPP on Friday took some creative license with the truth. He said that he wanted a trade deal that would allow American automakers to sell more cars overseas, without mentioning that Ford and autoworker unions do not support the pact. He also said that he had not included any language barring currency manipulation — a key tactic by which Japan and China undercut American production — because it might hamper the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy operations. That scenario would only be possible if the pact defined “currency manipulation” in a particularly bizarre manner… Read more



“Fast Tracking” the Trans-Pacific Partnership (Against Us)

Hurrah, the scintillating spirit of bipartisanship is loose in DC again, per the NYTimes:

[I]ncreasingly, Congress, under Republican control, is pressing forward on broad aspects of President Obama’s end-of-term agenda.

On a huge trade agreement, Republicans are pursuing legislation with virtually no Democratic support… The forward movement also reflects Republicans’ eagerness for legislative achievements before the 2016 presidential race, and their far larger say in drafting legislation and setting the terms of the debate after gaining full control of Congress last year…

On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee will hold its final hearing on legislation granting the president “fast track” negotiating authority to complete a trade accord with 12 Pacific Rim nations, and it will formally draft the bill on Wednesday. The House Ways and Means Committee will draft similar legislation on Thursday, moving forward on one of the president’s top priorities over the vociferous opposition of much of his party…

The new push on trade promotion authority stems from Mr. Obama’s “strategic pivot” to Asia since the opening months of his presidency and a yearslong effort to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would be the largest trade deal since the North American Free Trade Agreement….

…[C]onservative groups like Americans for Tax Reform, the Cato Institute and the American Enterprise Institute have come out strongly in favor of the trade authority, as has the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal.

In a first for Mr. Obama, he may achieve a legislative victory on an almost party-line vote in which his party votes no…

So, amazingly, the Grey Lady is cheerleading a “bipartisan” trade agreement that will give megacorporations even more control over our government, and prove a boon to the Republicans and their legislative enablers, while making the lives of us 99%ers that much harder?

Timothy B. Lee Vox has a long comprehensive explanation of the agreement: “The Trans-Pacific Partnership is great for elites. Is it good for anyone else?

Via Ed Kilgore, at the Washington Monthly, here’s Professor Krugman’s opinion in late February:

It’s far from clear that the T.P.P. is a good idea. It’s even less clear that it’s something on which President Obama should be spending political capital. I am in general a free trader, but I’ll be undismayed and even a bit relieved if the T.P.P. just fades away…

What the T.P.P. would do, however, is increase the ability of certain corporations to assert control over intellectual property. Again, think drug patents and movie rights.

Is this a good thing from a global point of view? Doubtful. The kind of property rights we’re talking about here can alternatively be described as legal monopolies. True, temporary monopolies are, in fact, how we reward new ideas; but arguing that we need even more monopolization is very dubious — and has nothing at all to do with classical arguments for free trade…

So what I wonder is why the president is pushing the T.P.P. at all. The economic case is weak, at best, and his own party doesn’t like it. Why waste time and political capital on this project?…

And I got an email from my senior Senator this morning:

Have you seen what’s in the new TPP trade deal?

Most likely, you haven’t – and don’t bother trying to Google it. The government doesn’t want you to read this massive new trade agreement. It’s top secret.

Why? Here’s the real answer people have given me: “We can’t make this deal public because if the American people saw what was in it, they would be opposed to it.”

If the American people would be opposed to a trade agreement if they saw it, then that agreement should not become the law of the United States.

Let’s send a loud message to our trade officials: No vote on a fast-track for trade agreements until the American people can see what’s in this TPP deal. Sign this petition right now to make the TPP agreement public…

For more than two years now, giant corporations have had an enormous amount of access to see the parts of the deal that might affect them and to give their views as negotiations progressed. But the doors stayed locked for the regular people whose jobs are on the line.

If most of the trade deal is good for the American economy, but there’s a provision hidden in the fine print that could help multinational corporations ship American jobs overseas or allow for watering down of environmental or labor rules, fast track would mean that Congress couldn’t write an amendment to fix it. It’s all or nothing.

Before we sign on to rush through a deal like that – no amendments, no delays, no ability to block a bad bill – the American people should get to see what’s in it.

Sherrod Brown has been leading this fight, and he points out that TPP isn’t classified military intelligence – it’s a trade agreement among 12 countries that control 40% of the world’s economy. A trade agreement that affects jobs, environmental regulations, and whether workers around the globe are treated humanely. It might even affect the new financial rules we put in place after the 2008 crisis. This trade agreement doesn’t matter to just the biggest corporations – it matters to all of us…