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2020 Primary: Bullock, Sestak, Harris drop out

Finally, the field is starting to thin out.

  • Steve Bullock, MT governor
  • Joe Sestak, former PA representative and retired admiral
  • Kamala Harris, CA senator (term ending 2022). Just dropped per cnbc

Bullock and Sestak had negligible impact on the race (below 1% in Morning Consult poll released yesterday [538]).

Harris, on the other hand, was a relatively big name from a big state. I thought she might stay in just to have a shot at VP, which would be an especially sought after position this year, and her profile is ideal to be paired with a conservative white guy like Biden or even Buttigieg. Although unclear to what degree that is still a possibility after she took a shot at Biden in the first debate.

It will be interesting to see where Harris’ support will go, especially in CA. It was as much as 3-5% nationally (e.g. yesterday’s MC poll), and 6-10% in CA (e.g. Nov26th SurveyUSA poll).

Continuing to look at yesterday’s MC poll, Booker, Klobuchar, and Bennet have another 5% national polling between them, and a Senate seat to go back to.

Whistleblower & Politicization of Intelligence [Scott Ritter / Consortium News]

Detailed article by the former Iraq weapons inspector


[via NakedCapitalism (in the comments)]


Before I say anything else, happy thanksgiving to all!  Wherever you are, relax, try to take it easy, and be kind to one another.

The article paints a picture of the difficult situation the originators of the current impeachment effort found themselves in. (the whistleblower was not alone in the views he held.)

As 2016 rolled into 2017, the whistleblower found himself in an administration about to roll back policies that were his. He and colleagues now reported to Flynn, who they were not only suspicious of, but had just been investigating and trying to keep from becoming their boss.

Ritter’s problem with this is that in such a situation, the whistleblower and like minded colleagues weren’t working for the current administration any more. The article doesn’t specifically say so, but essentially they are acting in the interests of the former administration, or if you like the opposite political party – the divisions happen to coincide here. Entering into the arena of politics (i.e. impeachment) is the avenue the whistleblower etc had available to resolve their predicament. This is a big no-no for the “IC”, but they decided that the level of wrongdoing (as they saw it) justified breaking this rule. Without even judging whether they were right in their judgment of the Trump administration, bringing the “IC” into politics opens up a heck of a can of worms right there.

My problem (actually I have several, but I am looking for an angle that can also be broken down without making a judgment about the actual accusations – doing so would be about as useful as arguing over religion) – my problem isn’t so much with the acting contrary to orders or chain of command. After all, there are cases when doing so is justifiable – the very existence of the whistleblower concept is an acknowledgment of this. But even besides this, we now have, in essence, the two sides investigating each other for the crime of having investigated each other. That situation is kindof ridiculous. There can be no resolution besides firing everyone on both sides and starting from scratch. And to be honest, that doesn’t sound so bad, as many of them deserve it for other reasons that are vastly more serious. (like starting wars, killing lots of innocent people, covering it up – that kind of thing).

Harvey J. Kaye interview [Maximillian Alvarez]

Historian Harvey Kaye (U of Wisc., Green Bay) talks history, politics, the present, and how American audiences are and have always been primed for a radical message, such as one now carried in many ways by Bernie Sanders. Audio, hour and a half.


alternate link:

Dem Primary: TX and CA polls

Brief look at Primary polls for Texas and California.
(using fivethirtyeight‘s handy collection of polls.)


  • Biden, Warren in mid 20’s, Sanders around 20%
  • Warren + Sanders together more than double Biden in nearly every poll
  • Harris is down to single digits, hasn’t cleared 15% in any poll since August
  • Buttigieg is in the 10% ballpark, within striking distance of 15% which would be a big deal
  • Total for candidates highly likely to drop out before super tuesday: ~6%


  • There’s one poll since Beto dropped out. Biden=28 Warren=19 Sanders=18
  • This seems to be slight deterioration for Biden in relation to Sanders+Warren,
    vs when Beto was in and getting 15%. Sanders and Warren seem to have picked up a good chunk of his support.
  • Buttigieg not getting much traction
  • Total for candidates highly likely to drop out before super tuesday: ~10%

These states are going early (Mar 3 Super Tuesday), have high spanish population, high population overall, and will set the tone for the rest of the race.

Reminder: The 15% minimum threshold for scoring delegates is an important part of strategy here. At the moment, it looks like only Biden, Warren, and Sanders will be going home with delegates. Harris looks to be on her way out, and Buttigieg, although moving up in CA, isn’t there yet.

Candidates who are likely to stay in the race thru super tuesday, but unlikely to clear 15%, will probably add up to 15-20% of votes. (i.e. Harris, Yang, Gabbard, probably Buttigieg). These are split pretty evenly in terms of conservative vs progressive, with Buttigieg being the wildcard, since he has a shot at 15% in CA. Also Gabbard is kindof in her own category, as she defines herself with her anti-war foreign policy.

Also take all state polls with a grain of salt. LV models are prone to being wrong when there are candidates who find their support among voters who would otherwise be inconsistent to turn out. (such as Sanders, or Trump for that matter).

Dylan Ratigan interview [Jimmy Dore]

2.5 hours and they take their time, but Ratigan is a great interview guest.

Topics: brief bio, then media, wealth/income inequality and especially the scam surrounding the 2008 bailouts, how it created Trump, politics, etc etc…

Dem Primary: Centrists losing confidence in Biden?

Former MA governor Deval Patrick announced his candidacy this morning. I have to conclude that whatever “centrist” consensus there was around Biden’s candidacy, is no longer a consensus.

Some combination of losing condfidence in being able to get Biden the nomination, and maybe even a few influential centrists actually realizing that Biden represents a reversion to history that is better left behind.

Weekly update

Looks like fall, cold enough to be winter. Good time to be indoors. Here we go

  • In election results, some truly encouraging news this past week, as New York City adopts Ranked Choice Voting [Vox], by referendum. I strongly believe RCV is an absolutely necessary technical fix to our electoral system, as it eliminates the phony lesser-of-two-evils game that is so often played. It is not enough by itself to fix everything, but is an indispensable step. For US national politics, states currently have the power to implement it and Maine recently has. So no constitutional amendment required. Seeing it in major cities like NY will give other states the confidence to do the same. (A successful ballot initiative in California would be the watershed moment, but perhaps too soon). By the way, the DNC should have it too – if Sanders is in a position to ask for concessions next summer, this should be one of them!
  • The big Democratic Primary news: We got a new candidate! Former three term NYC Mayor Bloomberg, who is also a billionaire (#8 on the Forbes 400). He is also a former Republican, but hardly the only one. Bloomberg is greeted in the media with a bit of confusion, or even hostility. Which is how I think “establishment” Democrats should feel. Bloomberg can realistically hope to get votes from white fiscal-conservative-Democrats, which would otherwise go to Biden or Buttigieg. It is doubtful that all three will be in a position to collect delegates per the 15% threshold. Perhaps Bloomberg will knock out Buttigieg, and that may be his intention. But I’m not sure why, as he would also take white voters away from Biden. Anyway, it is great news as it shifts the discussion squarely back to spending priorities, which is where I think it should be. (for example, the wealth tax and Medicare-For-All both have a majority of Democrats supporting them). This seems to be good news for Warren and Sanders. It could, maybe, indicate that Bloomberg knows something about Biden that he thinks will undermine the former VP. Alternatively, if one were cynical, one may think Bloomberg is just in it to position himself for some backroom deal in exchange for NOT running.
  • House Intel Committee Impeachment Investigation … moving along. They really seem intent on taking it to the Senate before the election, i.e. before there is any possibility of Dems controlling the Senate proceedings. Why? Don’t ask me. Looks like there’s a theme here, and it’s lack of common sense.
  •  Polls… recently released general election polls by NYT/Siena, conducted in mid-October, have Biden ahead of Trump in the swing states, but by perilously thin margins (i.e. not statistically meaningful). Biden’s RV margin vs Trump as follows– WI:+4  NC:-2  FL:+2  PA:+3  MI:-1  AZ:+5  …  Sanders is close to that, the others are not. The poll also provides a “LV” model typically shifting by -1 (toward Republicans), which itself is optimistic in my opinion. I expect FL,AZ,NC to go to Trump, WI, MI to go to the Democratic nominee, and PA as a toss-up. I also think Sanders would actually do better than Biden, because he attracts Democrats who do not normally vote – the working class and the Hispanic demographic. Biden can’t do that.

Taibbi/Halper podcast – Whistleblower John Kiriakou [Rolling Stone]

If you have an hour and a half to fill with some audio, the Nov 1st episode of the Matt Taibbi + Katie Halper podcast [Rolling Stone] is a good one. I like this one better in audio format.

Kiriakou, the interview guest, is the one and only person punished in the US for the Bush era CIA torture program. He did 2 years in prison for revealing it (was threatened with 45 years as originally charged…). He talks about his own experiences, which I think are actually the more important part, but of course also about the current whistleblower in the House Intel Committee’s investigation into Trump’s phone call with Ukraine PM Zelensky .

Additional nuggets include:  A brief discussion of Max Blumenthal’s arrest, the story of John Brennan’s rise in the CIA, the technical meaning of the term “asset” (as in Clinton vs Gabbard), and remarks on the so-called deep state (think “federal bureaucracy” with a members-for-life mentality).

Democratic Primary update

It’s November, election day 2019 is coming up in the US (go vote). We are a year from the 2020 general election, and 3 months before the first primary in Iowa! So I’ll try to do a little more blogging, at least a monthly post.

First some schedule and geography. Below is the primary schedule for the first month (per NY times) and number of DNC delegates. Note the enormous weight of Super Tuesday on the 3rd of March.

Feb 3: IA (41 delegates)

Feb 11: NH (24)

Feb 22: NV (36)

Feb 29: SC (54)

Mar 3: CA (416), TX (228), NC (110), VA (99), MA (91), MN (75), CO (67), TN (64), AL (52),  OK (37), AR (31), UT (29), ME (24), VT (16)

Next, the very important “15% threshold” rule (from This will be VERY significant this year. Note that delegates correspond to electoral votes, some per-state, some per-congressional-district. Thus the 15% rule is applied at one of these the state granularity.

Pledged delegates are allocated in a proportional manner based on the vote share received by each candidate.  This is at both the statewide and congressional district level.

There is a 15% minimum threshold to receive any delegates. Those not receiving the minimum are excluded, with the delegate pool divided proportionately among those candidates receiving 15% or more.

Got it? Now let’s look at how this impacts the strategy.

First of all, all the “mid-tier” candidates polling at 5-10%? They will have little impact if they don’t get any delegates. But remember the state-level polls still have 20% or more undecided voters, so when analyzing current polls, we should translate them into expected results that are a little higher.

Of note:

Kamala Harris has been at or below 10% in the half dozen polls done in CA in the  past month, not to mention nationally. She will be lucky to get a single delegate outside her home state and she may fail to place even there. In terms of media coverage, it looks like they “pulled the plug” on her after she attacked Biden. Result: Good news for Biden.

Beto, who dropped out, had over 15% in TX in the most recent polls (Sept), and would’ve had a good chunk of delegates just from there. But he just dropped out of the race! This is not what I would’ve expected – he would’ve been “useful” in terms of keeping TX delegates away from Warren or Sanders. However, maybe he was annoyed that they had earlier “pulled the plug” on him also, probably after he made off-script remarks sympathetic to Palestine in March 2019. Result: Good news for Bernie and perhaps Buttigieg.

Klobuchar, I expect her to clear 15% in MN, but few other states if any. She seems funded well enough, and is actually a pretty likable candidate as far as the “moderates” go (i.e. lack of exposure, blank slate, no negatives thus far). For whatever reason she never got a chance.

Buttigieg, I think, is the only candidate outside the top-3 who has a shot at breaking 15%. He is already above 15% in recent polls in Iowa, since it is a more “moderate” electorate and close to his home state. As of now, I expect him to pick up more support, and I expect the media to help him a lot – More on that later. Also note that Buttigieg is generally close to the DNC and was seriously considered for the DNC chairman position in 2017.

Biden – the most recent polls have him below 20% in IA and NH. If he slides more, it is possible he may fail to place in one or more of the first four states! (ah that would make me happy, but not holding my breath). His “firewall” is SC, of course – it will be do or die for him. If he does not make up ground in SC, his “electability” argument will be critically wounded.

Sanders – I think he will have a very strong start, top-2 in each of the first 4 states. Looking at Super Tuesday, TX and CA which dominate it have a significant Hispanic population, which is a very strong demographic for Sanders. Net result, per current polls I expect Bernie will be roughly tied for 2nd place after the first month, close behind the leader.

Warren – She looks set to win at least 2 of the first 4 states. Super Tuesday, we shall see. All depends on whether they manage to keep Biden away from the cameras. I expect her to be roughly tied for 2nd place, but she and Biden may well change places.

This state of events should make the Biden quite nervous. Extremely nervous, in fact, if the number of candidates clearing 15% is 3 rather than 4.

If it is a 3-way race, and I understand the DNC rules correctly, The Sanders candidates can endorse Warren (or vice versa), and together their delegates will have a convincing numerical advantage over Biden’s delegates. Biden doesn’t get the benefit of superdelegates (who are about 15% of total delegates) in the first round.

Note: I haven’t read the fine print (DNC rules per ballotpedia) on that… It wouldn’t surprise me if there are other obscure rules that apply when no single candidate has 50%, as will likely be the case. For example I’m 100% not totally sure that the rules are actually set up for candidates to “join forces” when the superdelegate-free first-ballot is a 3-way situation. Although I think they are, since for example candidates who drop out of the race can “release” their pledged delegates, etc). We may be revisiting this in painful detail 9 months or so.

UPDATE: Here (The Week 9/17/2019) is an additional article on DNC strategy in a 3-way race that explains it better than I did.

In a 4-way race, however, Biden + Buttigieg (or whoever is 4th) could hold out into more rounds, bring the superdelegates into play, and then we know what they will do.

Thus the DNC / Biden will want to do one of 3 things:

(1) get Biden’s numbers back up, high enough to beat Sanders+Warren together. (unlikely)

(2) get Bernie below 15% (very unlikely, committed Bernie supporters are I think 20%+ of Democrats and 30% or more of the most enthusiastic primary voters).

(3) get a fourth candidate (Buttigieg?), above 15%. Then offer that candidate whatever they need to have their delegates vote for Biden at the convention. This is possible, and the DNC-allied TV/press could push for it by giving him lots of exposure. If they are going out of their way to put him on the air, we know this is what is happening.

Oh yeah, the Impeachment. As it would be politically suicidal for elected Republicans to support it, the number of Senate Republican votes will be at most the number of Senators who are about to retire.

Also state level polling tentatively suggests that it will push FL and AZ into Republican hands in the general election. If that happens, it would give Trump a second option on the electoral map besides having to win PA. Namely, winning NC + WI + all the toss-up individual electoral votes awarded proportionally per-congressional-district in ME and NE).

Thus, impeachment is either a waste of time or worse, unfortunately.

All in all though, I think this is pretty decent news for the primary. Better than I expected at this point.

Happy fall!


Journalist and anti-war activist Max Blumenthal arrested [Grayzone]

Here’s how the anti-venezuela program rolls…

Blumenthal, by the way, has been doing some great journalism via The Grayzone, along with Aaron Mate, and several others courageous enough to take on our out-of-control militarist foreign policy, which hasn’t changed much under Trump.