Sanders & O’Malley Object To Democratic Debate Schedule But Clinton Reportedly Only Wanted Four Debates

Democrats Demand More Debates

The scheduling of the Democratic debates has become one of the biggest issues of this primary season in light of the exclusivity clause which prevents candidates from appearing in the DNC sanctioned debates if they appear in any other debates. Both Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley have criticized the DNC over the new debate rules. New Hampshire Democrats criticized Debbie Wasserman Schultz over the weekend.

Greg Sargent has summarized information on the debate controversy. One interesting fact presented is that Hillary Clinton only wanted four debates:

Last spring, when negotiations between the DNC and the Dem campaigns over the debate schedule got underway in earnest, the Clinton camp’s preference was to have only four debates, one in each of the early contest states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, according to a senior Democrat with knowledge of those conversations.

Asked to comment on this version of events, DNC spokesperson Holly Schulman didn’t immediately dispute it, but declined comment. A Clinton spokesperson didn’t immediately return an email. (This version comports with Politico’s reporting that the Clinton camp prefers to keep the number of debates low.)

As I previously noted, the problem with the debates is not only the limited number allowed, but the dates they are scheduled:

The dates of the debates were announced in August. It was at that point that outrage really began to build, because the dates themselves created a situation that began to be seen as problematic. (Those dates are October 13, November 14th, December 19th, January 17th, and two in February or March that are not nailed down yet.)

The problem is that of the four debates that are actually scheduled, three come on weekends (as opposed to during weeknight prime time), one of them on the weekend between the end of Hanukkah and Christmas. The two remaining (as yet unscheduled) debates are in February or March, one on Univision and the other on PBS. Between those two and the one in January, there will be only three Dem debates in 2016, during the period in which Democrats will be voting in dozens of contests — from the early contests through the big state primaries in early and mid March, a period that could very well settle the outcome. By contrast, Republicans have six debates scheduled throughout that period, many on major networks.

Once the official DNC debates are either completed, or near completed, it also makes it easier for candidates to agree to appear in debates sponsored by other groups as the DNC’s sanctions will not be as meaningful,  but it remains questionable if Hillary Clinton would agree to participate in further debates.

This schedule does result in increased coverage for the Republicans over the Democrats:

As it is, the GOP debates are drawing very big audiences. It’s true that this is due to the Trump carnival — making this in some ways a negative for the GOP. But the positive side for the GOP is that enormous numbers of voters are seeing the other GOP candidates in strong moments, which is good both for GOP organizing in the primaries and for giving them and their ideas exposure beyond the GOP primary audience. Add to this the imbalance in the number of debates in this 2016 window, when voters are seriously tuning in, and Dems risk ceding the airwaves and squandering a chance to build excitement and engage more voters, some party officials have argued.

“Left unchecked, the superior RNC schedule could easily reach 50 to 100 million more eyeballs than the current Democratic schedule — meaning tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars of lost opportunities to persuade, engage and excite the audiences all Democrats will need to win in 2016,” argues Dem strategist Simon Rosenberg.

Democrats are risking a serious problem with turnout if Hillary Clinton wins the nomination in a year when the outsiders are creating all the excitement. This problem could be further exacerbated should she be the nominee by this limited debate schedule. Clinton’s fear of facing her Democratic challengers could seriously hurt her should she be the candidate in the general election.

Bernie Sanders on Late Show With Stephen Colbert

Sanders on Late Night

Bernie Sanders was on the Late Show With Stephen Colbert on Friday. Colbert did a great job of introducing the interview earlier in the show, which is well worth watching if you only watched the actual interview. He joked about Sanders’ surprising success in the nomination battle, declaring this the most shocking upset of Hillary Clinton since the last time it happened to her. A couple of other jokes in this segment:

Bernie Sanders popularity is surprising because he’s a self-described socialist, who would also be our oldest president ever. The man is 74-years-old. That’s five years older than Donald Trump and 50 years older than anyone Trump would marry.

Sanders had 27,500 in the sport arena in Los Angeles In August, 11,000 in Phoenix, 28,000 in Portland on a Sunday. A guy in his 70s filling stadiums? Who does he think he is, a Rolling Stone?

And the actual interview:

Bernie Sanders explained his meteoric rise in the Democratic race:

“I knew we had a message that would resonate with the American people. This is the wealthiest country in the history of the world, yet almost all of the income and wealth is going to the top one percent, and people do not feel good about that,” Sanders said of his rise. “At a time where we’re seeing more millionaires and billionaires, we have the highest rate of childhood poverty of almost any other major country on Earth. We are the only major wealthy country that doesn’t guarantee health care to all people, family and medical leave, paid sick time, paid vacation time, and people are asking, ‘Why?'”

Colbert asked Sanders about being a self-proclaimed socialist and a liberal, asking him why he didn’t accept these terms as the insults they were meant to be. Sanders explained his views, and also explained why he would make a strong candidate in the general election:

“If you look at the polls at me running against the Republicans, despite the fact that 20, 30, 40 percent of the people don’t know who I am or what I am fighting for, we do almost as well and in some cases better than Hillary Clinton does today, and that will only get better in the future,” Mr. Sanders said.

He added that “Republicans win when voter turnout is low” and that, through the crowds and excitement he sees his campaign building, he has the ability to not just take back the White House but recapture the Senate as well.

Sanders was especially critical of Donald Trump’s xenophobia and racism:

I think that what Trump is doing is appealing to the baser instincts among us: xenophobia and, frankly, racism. [He’s] describing an entire group of people (in this case Mexicans) as rapists or as criminals… That’s the same old thing that’s gone on in this country for a very long time. You target some group of people, and you go after them. You take people’s anger, and you turn it against them—you win votes on it. I think that is disgraceful and not something we should be doing in 2015.

What I am talking about is a vision that goes beyond telling us we have to hate a group of people. What I am talking about is saying that, in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, there are extraordinary things that we can do when people come together—black and white and gay and straight—and demand the government start working for all of us—not just a few.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Limitless; Supergirl; Gotham; You’re The Worst; Alison Brie; Continuum

Doctor Who Missy and Clara

Doctor Who returned with The Magician’s Apprentice. Does this mean that the Doctor is the Magician and Clara the Apprentice? This was a true Moffat episode, including both the strengths and weaknesses which that implies. The strengths include dealing with big issues, and a strong connection to the history of Doctor Who. The episode returns to the question raised in the classic 1975 episode, Genesis of the Daleks: “If someone who knew the future, pointed out a child to you, and told you that that child would grow up totally evil, be a ruthless dictator who would destroy millions of lives, could you then kill that child?”

The episode started with a child endangered by a war. The Doctor appeared to try to save him, with the advice, “Your chances of survival are about one in a thousand. So heres what you do, you forget about the thousand and concentrate on the one.” Then, before trying to save him, the Doctor asked his name. “Davros. My name is Davros.” Davros, the creator of the Daleks

From the start we saw another characteristic of a Moffat episode–many interesting ideas thrown in. Davros was threatened by the hand mines. When there was an effort later to get Clara’s attention, it was done by stopping planes in the air–a simple time trick from Missy, who is not dead as appeared last season: “Not dead. Back. Big surprise. Never mind.” This led to a quick scene with Clara at UNIT, meeting with Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, and then the actual meeting between Clara and Missy.

The season began somewhat similar to how last season did, with the Doctor not around. It also felt like a repeat of an old theme with the Doctor preparing for his death, with the added twist this time of the Doctor sending Missy his confession dial, the Last Will and Testament of the Doctor. He hosted a rock party and, without regard to how it might change human history, “I’ve also introduced the word ‘dude’ several centuries early.”

Missy’s role was never entirely clear, other than for the Moffat tendency to try to find a way to bring back favorite ideas from previous episodes. It did make little sense for the Doctor to walk into such an obvious trap. If he did not see it himself, he even had his frenemy Missy to warn him, noting “I know traps. Traps are my flirting.” She was a little upset to find that she was not the Doctor’s number one enemy:

The Doctor: “Now, explain. Politely. Davros is my archenemy. Why would I want to talk to him?”
Missy: “No, wait, hang on a minute. Davros is your archenemy now?”
The Doctor: “Hush.”
Missy: “Not as much as I am.”

But the Doctor did walk into the trap, and apparently saw the death of both Clara and Missy, along with the destruction of the TARDIS. Of course there was never any question as to whether it would really end this way. If Davros is killing the Doctor’s friends (or friend and favorite enemy) because of remembering how the Doctor did not save him, this leaves two options. He could return to save him, or could make sure Davros did not survive.

I suspect that there is more Moffat misdirection, but the episode ended with the impression that the Doctor did go back time to make certain that Davros died. Or maybe he exterminates the hand mines. In the final scene, the Doctor again appeared in the hand mine field. “I’m from the future.” He then said to young Davros, “I’m gonna save my friend the only way I can: Exterminate!”

We will have to wait until next week to see how this really turns out, with Moffat mixed in providing satisfactory conclusions to the set-ups in two-part stories. Two part stories area also reportedly to become the norm this season. There will be twelve episodes and then a Christmas episode which includes the return of River Song.

Doctor Who Daleks Abbey Road

The return of Doctor Who was a major event. My favorite publicity picture is the one above with the Doctor and Clara along with two Daleks replacing The Beatles on Abbey Road. Steven Moffat discussed the entire season with Radio Times, possibly providing too many spoilers. Just like last year there were rumors that Jenna Coleman would be leaving the show, ultimately with confirmation that this will be her last season. There are also two Doctor Who Extra videos for this week’s episode which can be viewed here.

Supergirl

CBS made the pilot for Limitless available through there All Access service, and in this day and age that means a copy was quickly available all over the web. The pilot was enjoyable in setting up the series, essentially being an origin story for someone with superpowers. From here I fear that it might drift into a typical CBS procedural, with the setup for that type of storyline contained in the pilot. Maybe we will be pleasantly surprised, like with Person of Interest. While the pilot does appear to set up a procedural, it also left open questions about the drug which gave the protagonist his powers.

Originally reports also suggested that Supergirl would be more of a CBS procedural also, however watching its pilot (which leaked out weeks ago) it appears to be more similar to The Flash, with Supergirl having super-enemies who escaped from Krypton similar to the metahumans who provide conflict for Barry Allen. Pictures of the Red Tornado were also recently released, further suggesting that the show is headed in the direction of fighting super-powered foes.

Season two of Gotham will be a more serialized story, and it sounds from this interview like they might have fixed some of the problems with the first season.

The second episode of You’re The Worst, Crevasses, showed dilemmas including Jimmy and Gretchen having to make their own Bloody Mary’s when Edgar was out with Lindsay. Most important discovery of the episode: Jimmy’s kitchen has a Bloody Mary drawer.

Alison Brie of Community and Mad Men will be staring in  Julian Fellowes’ first  post-Downton Abbey show for ITV, a television adaptation of Anthony Trollope’s Doctor Thorne.

It is hard to believe that Continuum is half over, with three episodes having already aired on Showcase (two shown in the United States). I will avoid any spoilers for those who have only seen the first two episodes. It should be no spoiler to note that the questions I had after the first two remain after watching the third, even if the third did advance the storyline more than the first two episodes did. As is usual for Continuum, finding out a little more information often leads to even more questions.

The first episode included a scene which was later revealed to be a simulation created by Kiera’s  CMR after she was knocked unconscious. Kiera felt as though she woke up in 2080 after spending three years in a medically-induced coma after the explosion which actually sent her back in time. Kiera saw her family, and afterwards had regained the desire to return home. (I suspect this came about here due to the need to condense the series and wrap it up this year–otherwise I suspect Kiera might not have regained this interest until later in the series). This raises a huge question after seeing how the future changed after Kellogg had taken control of Piron.

If the future has changed, how does Kiera think she can return home? While not explicitly stated, does this mean she intends first to correct the time line? Is she envisioning a means of returning to one of multiple possible time lines? It is also hard to believe she will just consider her job done when the Time Marines are running around in the present. There is also the question  of what is their goal, and how this will affect the future. It is apparently only need to know for Brad, and we do not know if the soldiers returned from just after Brad left, from a time later on when things have changed, changing the mission, or if this is even the same exact timeline Brad came back from.

Kellogg should also have questions about the soldiers which his future self sent back. The Kellogg of the present would much rather live in luxury as a corporate CEO than become a future warlord. Everyone should wonder what Curtis is up to, as he might know more than anyone else, but appears to be playing each side off each other.

In other events of interest, Dillon is somehow still alive, and now working for Piron. We have seen since the start of this series that alliances change, and I would not write him off as one of the bad guys yet. Poor Emily has both been kidnapped, and after escaping being told she is not the mother of Alec’s son, leading her to pack up and leave. I’m not sure that it makes sense for her to expect to be Jason’s mother considering how the timeline has changed since Jason traveled back in time, and how in the original timeline she was killed. The whole point of Emily’s character is that she might keep Alec from turning out to be how we have seen his future self.

If you are watching the episodes as presented in the United States, you might feel that too little has happened so far, considering how close we are to the end of the series. The action does pick up in the third episode, but it certainly feels like there is far too much to fit into only three more episodes.

Clinton Camp Likely To Continue To Attack Sanders As Too Far Left Despite Previous Attacks Back Firing

Sanders Raise Money Clinton Super Pac

While Bernie Sanders is doing far better than expected against Hillary Clinton, with Clinton falling in both polls for both the Democratic nomination and in head-to-head races against Republicans,  Clinton supporters are grasping to the argument that Sanders is too far to the left. The Hill reports on Clinton supporters who claim that Bernie Sanders is unelectable. Fortunately the article also notes that other Democrats disagree:

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), a 2016 Senate candidate who has not endorsed a primary contender, characterized Sanders as one of Congress’s most effective legislators, saying all claims that he’s unelectable are “politically motivated attacks” designed to undermine his bid.

“Bernie has the appeal of being able to demonstrate to people that he can get good things done. He is not some kind of liberal stick figure; he’s someone who has a record of actual accomplishment,” Grayson said. “If Bernie’s the nominee, then Bernie very likely will be the next president of the United States.”

Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) echoed that message, warning that Democrats, by doubting Sanders’ viability as a candidate, risk undermining the party’s agenda.

“The expectation that he will fade, I think, is not true because the agenda he’s putting forward, instead of tamping down momentum, it’s increasing momentum. … He’s ignited the base in a way that we haven’t been able to do for six years,” said Grijalva, the head of the Progressive Caucus who has not yet endorsed in the primary. “So I would be very careful to marginalize the man. Because in a sense then you’re marginalizing the message.”

I would question the wisdom of Democratic leaders in recent years with regards to deciding winning elections, along with their avoidance of taking a stand on the issues and tendency to become Republican-lite which seriously hurt them in 2014. Clinton surrogates have been making the claim for months that Sanders is too far left. After Claire McCaskil, a supporter of Hillary Clinton, claimed that Bernie Sanders is, “is too liberal to gather enough votes in this country to become president,” I responded with a post arguing Claire McCaskill Is Wrong–Bernie Sanders Is Not Too Liberal, Hillary Clinton Is Too Conservative. Since then, Sanders has only improve his position against Hillary Clinton in the primary race.

As I have pointed out many times before, Bernie Sanders Is The Future Of The Democratic Party. As I’ve also pointed out previously, Sanders’ Views Are Becoming More Mainstream Than Clinton’s Conservative Views.

With Clinton openly moving back towards the center after few were convinced about the sincerity of her move to the left earlier in the campaign, we can be sure of more attacks from the Clinton camp, including that Sanders is too far to the left.  Much of the spread of misinformation, both to defend Clinton against legitimate criticism and to attack her opponents, comes from former right-wing hit-man David Brock through his organizations including Media Matters and Correct the Record. This includes recent email from Correct the Record which distorted Sanders’ views, trying to make him appear more extreme. This most recent attack on Sanders certainly back-fired, ultimately benefiting Sanders:

Bernie Sanders raised more than $1.2 million in less than 48 hours off a pro-Hillary Clinton super PAC’s attack on the Vermont senator, his presidential campaign said Thursday.

That’s an unprecedented response in such a short amount of time, according ActBlue, the non-profit that processes online donations for many Democratic campaigns, including Sanders.

“We’ve never seen an immediate donor response like what the Sanders’ campaign received on Tuesday,” said ActBlue Executive Director Erin Hill. “At one point, it drove 180 contributions through our platform per minute. Over its 11-year history ActBlue has sent money to over 11,000 campaigns and committees – and the Bernie Sanders campaign holds the record for the two biggest donor days ever for a campaign on our platform.”

The attack came from Correct the Record, which, unlike most super PACs, coordinates directly with Clinton’s campaign. The group has been sending trackers to Sanders campaign events and plying reporters with so-called opposition research about the Vermonter for months, but never with the intention of its work being made public.

But after The Huffington Post reported on a particularly controversial line of attack from Correct the Record earlier this week, the Sanders campaign took offense and saw an opportunity. They sent not one but two fundraising emails to supporters in response, and were astonished by the response.

“It was the kind of onslaught I expected to see from the Koch Brothers or Sheldon Adelson, and it’s the second time a billionaire Super PAC has tried to stop the momentum of the political revolution we’re building together,” Sanders said in one email.

Judging from how dirty the Clinton campaign got the last time she ran for the nomination, we can expect to see a proliferation of such attacks on Sanders (and on Joe Biden should he enter the race). Hopefully Sanders can continue to turn such attacks to his advantage.

Speculation Increases On Joe Biden Entering The Race

Ridin With Biden

Hillary Clinton’s campaign has been a disaster instead of the expected coronation. Democratic donors have an alternative solution to the problems seen in the Clinton campaign–pushing harder for Joe Biden to run:

Nearly 50 Democratic donors and party activists have signed a letter urging Vice President Biden to jump into the 2016 presidential race to compete against former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, calling him a leader “who understands the real challenges facing American families.”

The letter — whose signatories include some top bundlers for President Obama’s campaigns — underscores a nervousness among some in the party about Clinton’s standing and a building hope that Biden will decide to run.

Some, such as party fundraiser Lou Frillman, had already signed up to help Clinton’s campaign.

“We believe that the vice president is the best candidate,” Frillman said in an interview. “We have a lot of confidence in him….If he runs, we’re ready to support him.”

In a related report:

A wide swath of party financiers is convinced that Biden will make a late entry into the race, and a sizable number are contemplating backing him, including some who have signed on with Clinton, according to more than a dozen top Democratic fundraisers nationwide.

Their potential support — driven in part by a desire to recapture the passion they felt in Obama’s campaigns — could play a key role in helping the vice president decide whether to make a third White House bid. The chatter among a cadre of well-connected party fundraisers suggests that he could benefit from an early jolt of money should he run…

Many of the president’s fundraisers are still up for grabs. Of the 770 people who collected checks for Obama’s 2012 reelection bid, just 52 have signed on as a “Hillblazer” bundler for Clinton or have held a fundraiser for her, according to a Washington Post analysis.

Top Democratic money players — many of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations — said discussions among senior Obama fundraisers about Biden’s possible bid have taken a serious turn in the past few days.

The Wall Street Journal reports Joe Biden Edges Closer to Joining Presidential Race:

While the Biden team is still debating the best time to jump in, the vice president met Monday with his political advisers and talked about the merits of an early entry that would assure him a place in the Democratic debate scheduled for Oct. 13. They also are honing his campaign message and moving ahead with plans to raise money and hire staff, the people said…

The vice president’s team of advisers are still honing what would be his campaign message: That after inheriting a brutal economic recession, President Barack Obama has had a successful run, and Mr. Biden would keep the U.S. on the same trajectory.

The Democratic debate next month is one of two important events in October that are on the minds of Mr. Biden’s top advisers as they consider a campaign start date.

Democratic National Committee leaders have scheduled only four debates before the Iowa caucuses set for Feb. 1. Delaying a presidential announcement would mean passing on a chance to appear before a national TV audience and make the case that he would be a better nominee than Mrs. Clinton. Yet as a sitting vice president, Mr. Biden already has a platform that keeps him in the public eye…

Stretching out the announcement has other pitfalls. Mid-November brings the first in a series of deadlines to get on the ballot for the first caucuses and primaries in 2016. Meeting those filing deadlines requires money and, in some cases, petition signatures, so preparations would need to begin weeks in advance.

It appears that Biden remains very interested in running for president, but possibly hesitant about running against Clinton should she resume a dominant role in the race. There has also been speculation, such as at Politico, that instead of announcing soon, Biden might wait to see if Clinton collapses:

It turns out that instead of simply deciding yes or no on a presidential run, Biden may have a third option — make no announcement at all, wait until December (or longer) and hope Clinton gets out of the race or is pushed to the sidelines without him having to get in…

“They’re testing it,” said one person who’s spoken with the people laying the plans. “They’re feeling it out.”

Drawing the decision out to November has risks, they know: It’s a gamble between whether she’ll implode (perhaps under indictment over her personal email server), whether he could wait so long that she’d rebound (perhaps fueled by strong performances at the debate or in congressional testimony on Oct. 22).

And November isn’t really a deadline, either. Close observers say they’re not convinced Clinton could survive losing Iowa and New Hampshire in February, given the fall from front-runner grace either would entail…

“He’s trying to keep the door open as long as he can,” said one former staffer who’s been in touch with his aides. “If you do nothing, then the door just closes on its own.”

…Taking his time might mean missing deadlines. There are petition and paperwork requirements that will quickly pile up as the end of the year nears. But in the topsy-turvy circumstances that would have to click into place for Biden to have any kind of realistic shot at the nomination anyway, he might have to make the campaign happen without being on the ballot in every state.

Few are convinced that would matter much.

“If he decides to go after all this, it’s not going to matter if he’s missed two filing deadlines,” said Democratic consultant Joe Trippi…

If Biden’s serious about actually running for president, Trippi said, he’s got to move quickly to assess whether he has the support on the ground in the early states, and among key constituency groups, from labor to African-Americans.

But if he’s hoping to just be handed the keys to the Oval Office, he’s got lots of time.

“If you’re waiting for her to implode, just wait. You could wait until June,” Trippi said. “If she implodes next May, the party’s going to turn to Joe Biden.’’

It would seem a very risky move to sit back and hope that Clinton implodes to the point where she leaves the race. Even if the news were to become far worse for Clinton, she would probably remain in the race if at all possible, even if her chances of winning a general election campaign were to become greatly diminished.

If Biden wants one last shot at the presidency, I think he is best off getting in the race soon, ideally in time for the first debate. However, if Biden does not enter the race, it is a safe bet that he will never close the door to accepting the nomination should Clinton somehow be forced out of the race.

Update: Some reports recently have suggested that Jill Biden was reluctant for Joe to run. Today NBC is reporting that sources are saying Jill Biden is 100 percent on-board with Joe running.

Bernie Sanders “Wins” GOP Debate & Makes Cover Of Time–Will He Get To Debate Hillary Clinton More Than Six Times?

Sanders Time Cover

Two articles at The Hill proclaim Bernie Sanders to have been the winner of Thursday night’s debate. Brent Budowsky wrote that Bernie Sanders was GOP debate’s real winner and has some other major news:

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has won a doubleheader victory this week. His dramatic gains in the presidential campaign have been recognized by TIME magazine placing him on its cover, a major breakthrough in conventional media for Sanders, while his critical commentary about the debate in his Facebook post was by far the single most-read Facebook post of the evening!

The decision by TIME to make Sanders its cover story is hugely important. It is a long overdue recognition by a bastion of the old media that Sanders offers an extraordinary populist message that has ignited a powerful populist grassroots movement. Almost all of the mainstream media have been far too slow to recognize the power of the progressive populist movement that Sanders calls a political revolution. This is finally, fortunately, beginning to change and the TIME magazine cover story is exhibit A of the progress Sanders and his supporters have made.

On the second front, the ability of Sanders to win the social media front to criticize Republicans and promote his populist agenda combines the medium of the moment with the message that resonates with voters.

Several weeks ago, Jenny Q. Ta, a nationally prominent entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of the social media “net-WORTH-ing platform” Sqeeqee.com told me that social media in the 2016 campaign will be as powerful as television was during the Kennedy-Nixon debates in 1960. How right she was!

My point today is that Sanders won the GOP debate on two levels.

First, don’t miss the story in The Hill by Neetzan Zimmerman, who is spearheading The Hill’s social media initiatives, reporting that Sanders’s critique of the debate on Facebook was far more popular than any other presidential candidate of either party. This triumph by Sanders in the new medium of social media has powerful implications for Sanders winning the battle of ideas of his message against Republicans.

Second, Sanders has the advantage of the message conveyed by the media, old and new. Sanders’s core argument is that our economy is unjust, unfair, rigged in favor of the super-wealthy and rigged against poor and middle-class Americans.

Being declared the winner of the GOP debate by pundits is hardly the same as having the opportunity to debate, and hopefully beat, Hillary Clinton before a prime time audience. Just imagine Sanders pointing out how he reviewed the same information about the Iraq war as Clinton, and he is the one who clearly got the vote right. Contrast Sanders and Clinton on virtually any other issue. More often than not, it will be Sanders who is in the Democratic mainstream, with Clinton off to the right.

The situation has changed considerably since Debbie Wasserman Schultz helped rig the debate schedule for Hillary Clinton, over the protests of Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley. At the time it was expected that Clinton would be a strong front runner, and would benefit from limiting  publicity for her challengers. Since then the Republicans have received extensive coverage from two debates, while the Democrats can only claim symbolic victories from the media. Clinton has fallen behind Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire, and maintains a diminishing lead in Iowa. At this point it is clearly in the interest of the Democratic Party to receive coverage from debates, and perhaps even Hillary Clinton might decide a debate is in her interest, potentially becoming the underdog in the first two contests.

Nancy Pelosi has joined those calling for more debates:

Hillary Rodham Clinton’s rivals in the Democratic primary have been demanding for weeks that the party hold more presidential debates than the scant six that are planned, and on Friday they got a big boost when House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco said she agrees with them.

Asked in an interview with The Times whether she would like to see more debates scheduled, Pelosi responded, “I would.”

…The debate schedule has become an increasingly awkward issue for the Clinton campaign as the first scheduled event, on Oct. 13 in Nevada, approaches. Clinton’s primary challengers have suggested the schedule was designed by party insiders to favor the front-runner, who was so far ahead in the polls when it was drafted that there seemed to be little for her to gain in the race by sharing a stage with lesser-known opponents.

Clinton’s support in early voting states has slipped considerably since then, particularly in New Hampshire, where some polls show her trailing Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Now, some longtime Clinton allies are saying it may be in her interest to have more debates.

When asked about the schedule, Clinton campaign officials have repeatedly said it is not up to them, that it is controlled by the Democratic National Committee. DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has repeatedly said the issue is closed.

But Pelosi’s comments put more pressure on the DNC to reopen it.

The problem with the debate schedule is not only that it limits the candidates to six debates, but that many of the debates appear to be scheduled at times to limit the potential audience. There will only be four before the Iowa and New Hampshire contests, and three of these are on weekends, including December 19, competing with holiday parties.

Incidentally, for sticklers who insist upon only considering those actually at the debate in determining the winner, the consensus in the media and the polls is that Carly Fiorina won the debate. It is the outsiders who are generating the excitement in both parties, but of these outsiders (also including Donald Trump and Ben Carson), only Sanders has the right ideas to lead the United States.

The Second Republican Debate: Faux Controversies, Lies, And One Candidate Was Even Right Twice

CNN Republican Debate

The second Republican debate (transcript here), this time hosted by CNN, didn’t raise as much controversy as the first. Donald Trump was still a dominant force, but whenever the talk got to policy, Trump didn’t know what to say and was quieter. CNN did try to liven things up with having the candidates respond to comments about them from other candidates. This included both comments during the debates and often insults made to the media before the debates. While at times it was a good idea to have the candidates interact, often it was over matters far to trivial to really belong in the debate.

This did allow Carly Fiorina to have one of the better moments of the debate, and she was obviously ready to comment on this insult from Donald Trump:

TRAPPER: In an interview last week in Rolling Stone magazine, Donald Trump said the following about you. Quote, “Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?” Mr. Trump later said he was talking about your persona, not your appearance. Please feel free to respond what you think about his persona.

FIORINA: You know, it’s interesting to me, Mr. Trump said that he heard Mr. Bush very clearly and what Mr. Bush said. I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.

While candidates often exceeded their time, Fiorina responded perfectly with this brief comment.

It was overall a good night for Fiorina, who might have done more than anyone else to improve her position in the GOP race with her debate performance. Unfortunately doing well in a Republican race does not require telling the truth. She repeated previously debunked claims about her record at HP. While she sounded more forceful than Donald Trump in saying how she would deal with Russia and Syria, Ezra Klein pointed out how she got the facts wrong. Klein, along with Sarah Kliff also pointed out how she was wrong about the Planned Parenthood tapes. There was no scene such as the one she described:

FIORINA: I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama to watch these tapes. Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.

Of course most, if not all, of the candidates were also lying about Planned Parenthood during the debate. Even if they didn’t make a claim as blatantly false as Fiorina did, they repeated the debunked claims that Planned Parenthood was selling fetal tissue.

The biggest whopper came from Jeb Bush when he responded to criticism of his brother from Donald Trump:

TRUMP: Your brother — and your brother’s administration gave us Barack Obama, because it was such a disaster, those last three months, that Abraham Lincoln couldn’t have been elected.

BUSH: You know what? As it relates to my brother, there’s one thing I know for sure. He kept us safe.

Both Trump and Jeb Bush were wrong about Obama and George Bush in the above exchange, but it is Jeb’s comments which were the most absurd. The most destructive terrorist attack on the United States occurred on George Bush’s watch, with Bush ignoring intelligence reports which might have enabled the United States to prevent the attack. Bush then followed up the attack by foolishly getting us into the quagmire in Iraq.

Rand Paul is one of the candidates who was nearly forgotten. Donald Trump, who insulted so many of the other candidates that I thought he was preparing to fire one, even said:

TRUMP: Well, first of all, Rand Paul shouldn’t even be on this stage. He’s number 11, he’s got 1 percent in the polls, and how he got up here, there’s far too many people anyway.

While Paul is certainly wrong on many, many things, I noted he was right on two points during the debate.  For this group, just being right twice makes him stand out.

First he pointed out that military intervention is not always the best idea:

PAUL: I think this gets to the point of wisdom on when to intervene and when we shouldn’t. Had we bombed Assad at the time, like President Obama wanted, and like Hillary Clinton wanted and many Republicans wanted, I think ISIS would be in Damascus today. I think ISIS would be in charge of Syria had we bombed Assad.

Sometimes both sides of the civil war are evil, and sometimes intervention sometimes makes us less safe. This is real the debate we have to have in the Middle East.

Every time we have toppled a secular dictator, we have gotten chaos, the rise of radical Islam, and we’re more at risk. So, I think we need to think before we act, and know most interventions, if not a lot of them in the Middle East, have actually backfired on us.

Paul missed the point Obama successfully stepped back from the brink, but his overall point is correct about thinking before engaging in senseless military intervention.

Paul also also criticized the drug war during the debate:

TAPPER: Many people on social media wanted us to ask about marijuana legalization. Senator Paul, Governor Christie recently said, quote, “if you’re getting high in Colorado today,” where marijuana has been legalized, “enjoy it until January 2017, because I will enforce the federal laws against marijuana.” Will you?

PAUL: I think one of the great problems, and what American people don’t like about politics, is hypocrisy. People have one standard for others and not for them — for themselves.

There is at least one prominent example on the stage of someone who says they smoked pot in high school, and yet the people going to — to jail for this are poor people, often African-Americans and often Hispanics, and yet the rich kids who use drugs aren’t.

I personally think that this is a crime for which the only victim is the individual, and I think that America has to take a different attitude. I would like to see more rehabilitation and less incarceration. I’m a fan of the drug courts which try to direct you back towards work and less time in jail.

But the bottom line is the states. We say we like the 10th Amendment, until we start talking about this. And I think the federal government has gone too far, I think that the war on drugs has had a racial outcome, and really has been something that has really damaged our inner cities.

Not only do the drugs damage them, we damage them again by incarcerating them and then preventing them from getting employment over time.

So I don’t think that the federal government should override the states. I believe in the 10th Amendment and I really will say that the states are left to themselves.

Paul was generally right on two points, but neither are going to help him in a Republican primary battle. It is also rather sad that the Democratic front-runner has been wrong on both issues, with Clinton supporting both greater military intervention and being a hard-liner on drug laws.

Paul was more mixed on vaccines. He didn’t go along with Donald Trump’s claims about a connection between vaccines and autism, but also wasn’t consistent with the science:

TAPPER: Mr. Trump, as president, you would be in charge of the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health, both of which say you are wrong. How would you handle this as president?

TRUMP: Autism has become an epidemic. Twenty-five years ago, 35 years ago, you look at the statistics, not even close. It has gotten totally out of control.

I am totally in favor of vaccines. But I want smaller doses over a longer period of time. Because you take a baby in — and I’ve seen it — and I’ve seen it, and I had my children taken care of over a long period of time, over a two or three year period of time.

Same exact amount, but you take this little beautiful baby, and you pump — I mean, it looks just like it’s meant for a horse, not for a child, and we’ve had so many instances, people that work for me.

Just the other day, two years old, two and a half years old, a child, a beautiful child went to have the vaccine, and came back, and a week later got a tremendous fever, got very, very sick, now is autistic.

Paul later responded:

One of the greatest — one of the greatest medical discoveries of all times was — were the vaccines, particularly for smallpox. And if you want to read a story, it’s called The Speckled Monster, it’s an amazing story, it was all done voluntary.

But people came in by the droves. George Washington wouldn’t let his wife visit until she got vaccinated. So I’m all for vaccines. But I’m also for freedom.

I’m also a little concerned about how they’re bunched up. My kids had all of their vaccines, and even if the science doesn’t say bunching them up is a problem, I ought to have the right to spread out my vaccines out a little bit at the very least.

The debate will probably not change the race very much but it is a good thing that the candidates were provided this opportunity to present their views to a national audience on a repeated basis. If only the Democratic National Committee would do the same this year and allow more than six debates total.

Update: The New York Times reviewed  Crazy Talk at the Republican Debate with Paul Krugman adding additional Fantasies and Fictions at G.O.P. Debate

Bernie Sanders Fights Back Against Conservative Attacks From Wall Street Journal & Clinton Camp

Sanders Responds WSJ

I imagine it is a good thing that both conservatives and the Clinton campaign now see Bernie Sanders as a threat, with both attacking him from the right.

The Wall Street Journal ran a scare story earlier this week entitled, Price Tag of Bernie Sanders’s Proposals: $18 Trillion:

He proposes $1 trillion to repair roads, bridges and airports. His college-affordability program would cost $750 billion over a decade. Smaller programs would provide youth jobs and prevent cuts to private pension plans. He would raise an additional $1.2 trillion in Social Security taxes in order to increase benefits and pay those already promised for 50 years. That would bolster the program but fall short of the 75 years of solvency that is typically what policy makers aim to achieve.

Mr. Sanders says he also would propose an expansion of federal support for child care and preschool, though he hasn’t said how much those programs would cost, and they aren’t included in this total.

His most expensive proposal, by far, is his plan to extend Medicare, the federal health program for seniors, to all Americans.

Sanders has responded, pointing out how a single payer plan would be more cost effective:

“That is not the reality. We will be responding to The Wall Street Journal on that,” Sanders told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell of the overall estimate.

“I think most of the expense that they put in there, the expenditures have to do with the single-payer healthcare system,” he continued. “They significantly exaggerated the cost of that, and they forgot to tell the American people in that article that that means eliminating the costs that you incur with private health insurance.”

Paul Waldman has also defended Sanders in a post entitled, No, Bernie Sanders is not going to bankrupt America to the tune of $18 trillion:

…while Sanders does want to spend significant amounts of money, almost all of it is on things we’re already paying for; he just wants to change how we pay for them. In some ways it’s by spreading out a cost currently borne by a limited number of people to all taxpayers. His plan for free public college would do this: right now, it’s paid for by students and their families, while under Sanders’ plan we’d all pay for it in the same way we all pay for parks or the military or food safety.

But the bulk of what Sanders wants to do is in the first category: to have us pay through taxes for things we’re already paying for in other ways. Depending on your perspective on government, you may think that’s a bad idea. But we shouldn’t treat his proposals as though they’re going to cost us $18 trillion on top of what we’re already paying.

He next discussed single payer systems, leading to this key point:

There’s something else to keep in mind: every single-payer system in the world, and there are many of them of varying flavors, is cheaper than the American health care system. Every single one. So whatever you might say about Sanders’ advocacy for a single-payer system, you can’t say it represents some kind of profligate, free-spending idea that would cost us all terrible amounts of money.

He next discussed spending on infrastructure, and then how much less we would have to spend under Republican tax plans which primarily provide tax cuts to the wealthy:

The conservatives who are acting appalled at the number the Journal came up with are also the same people who never seem to care what a tax cut costs, because they think cutting taxes is a moral and practical good, in the same way that liberals think providing people with health coverage is a moral and practical good. For instance, Jeb Bush recently proposed a tax cut plan whose 10-year cost could be as high as $3.4 trillion. That’s a lot of money that the government wouldn’t be able to spend on the things it’s doing right now, although the campaign argues that we’d get much of that money back in increased revenues because of the spectacular growth the tax cuts would create. If you remember the claims that George W. Bush’s tax cuts would create stunning growth and prosperity for all, you might be just a bit skeptical of the Jeb campaign’s similar assertions. But in any case, we can’t evaluate the value of Jeb’s plan just by saying that $3.4 trillion is a big number. If you knew that the average family in the middle of the income distribution would get less than $1,000 from Jeb’s plan, while the average family in the top one percent would get a tax cut of over $80,000, then you’d have a better sense of whether it’s a good or bad idea.

Sanders not only defended himself against this attack from the right on economics. He has also defended himself against attacks from a Clinton Super PAC in a recent fund raising email.

Attacks from the right from the Clinton camp might become increasingly common. Many liberals have been certain that Clinton’s move to the left was insincere, and that she would move to the right for the general election and if elected. We never guessed she would move towards the right so soon. As I noted last week, Clinton’s support has been falling among liberals, with Clinton now returning to calling herself a centrist to contrast herself with Sanders. Jonathan Allen picked up on this shift more recently writing, While everyone else was talking about her authenticity, Hillary Clinton changed her position.

The revelation that Hillary Clinton is planning to be more spontaneous and authentic brought a booming collective laugh from Republicans, some Democrats, and opinion writers last week. The group guffaw drowned out a related shift in her positioning that is far more important: Now she wants to be known as a moderate.

“You know, I get accused of being kind of moderate and center,” Clinton said in Ohio September 10, according to CNN. “I plead guilty.”

That’s a tire-squealing turn from the first five months of her campaign, when Clinton emphasized her progressive credentials. She built a policy platform significantly to the left of where many Democrats expected her to stand — in favor of new regulations of the financial services industry, “ending the era of mass incarceration,” and reforming campaign finance laws, to name a few items on her agenda. The focus on populism was described as a newfound affinity for the left, a return to liberal roots, an effort to crowd out the competition, a general election strategy based on energizing Democrats, or some combination thereof. The truth is that Clinton’s record is pretty liberal, except when it comes to national defense and trade.

Now she’s pivoting back toward the centrist label that defined her husband’s campaigns and presidency. The obvious reason for Clinton to switch tacks now is that her initial strategy didn’t work: On the strength of backing from liberals, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has surged to leads in New Hampshire and Iowa. That’s a good reason for her to shake things up a bit, but it’s only part of a story that is more about drawing a contrast with Sanders, sending a signal to her supporters that she’s ready to really fight for the nomination, and making sure that she’s comfortable in the political skin she’s wearing for the rest of the campaign.

Allen caught the general direction of the shift, but missed how conservative her record actually is. Beyond national defense and trade which he mentioned, she has also been rather conservative on civil liberties, the environment, and social/cultural issues. While her views on economics might technically be labeled as liberal, she is far to the right of where Democrats influenced by the views of people such as Elizabeth Warren are now at.

After looking at more wonkish policy matters, Allen hit the key matter with the subtitle: The shift is partly about portraying Sanders as too extreme

By portraying herself as a moderate, Clinton is subtly saying that Sanders is too extreme — that he’s one of the people standing on the sidelines shouting rather than trying to “get something done.” The inference voters are supposed to draw is that would make it harder for Sanders to win the presidency and even harder for him to govern.

Running as a moderate (or to be honest, a conservative) might be more “authentic” for Clinton, but in joining the right wing in calling Sanders too extreme, Clinton is missing the direction much of the country is moving in. As I have pointed out many times before, Bernie Sanders Is The Future Of The Democratic Party. As I’ve also pointed out previously, Sanders’ Views Are Becoming More Mainstream Than Clinton’s Conservative Views.

Bernie Sanders Calls For Justice In Talk At Liberty University–Updated

Bernie Sanders Liberty University

Bernie Sanders spoke on Monday night at Liberty University. He did not try to triangulate or hide his views which differ from most in the audience, pointing them out at the start:

And let me start off by acknowledging what I think all of you already know. And that is the views that many here at Liberty University have and I, on a number of important issues, are very, very different. I believe in a woman’s rights….

And the right of a woman to control her own body.

I believe gay rights and gay marriage.

Those are my views, and it is no secret. But I came here today, because I believe from the bottom of my heart that it is vitally important for those of us who hold different views to be able to engage in a civil discourse.

The New York Times pointed out how he made an appeal for morality and justice:

Senator Bernie Sanders took his message of confronting inequality to unfamiliar ground on Monday at Liberty University, a leading evangelical Christian college, where he sought to build what he called “common ground” with students, beginning with the foundations of Christianity itself: the Bible.

“I am far, far from a perfect human being, but I am motivated by a vision which exists in all of the great religions — in Christianity, in Judaism, in Islam, Buddhism and other religions — and which is so beautifully and clearly stated in Matthew 7:12,” Mr. Sanders, who is seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination for president, told the crowd at a convocation. “And it states: ‘So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the law and the prophets.’ That is the golden rule. Do to others what you would have them do to you.

“It is not very complicated,” he added.

Mr. Sanders, who is Jewish, was greeted politely by the crowd. He noted at the outset of his speech that he and the audience members would have views “on a number of important issues that are very, very different,” especially on abortion and same-sex marriage.

But he then spoke almost entirely on the issue of poverty and income inequality, borrowing from his traditional stump speech while framing the populist message within the confines of a sense of social justice and faith.

“I want all of you, if you would, to put this in the context of the Bible, not me,” Mr. Sanders, of Vermont, told the crowd of nearly 12,000 at a college where attendance at convocation is usually compulsory.

His speech was peppered with repeated calls for “morality” and “justice” when he spoke about issues that have been central to his campaign, like fighting childhood poverty and raising the minimum wage. He used the phrase “family values” when making a case for extended maternity and paid sick leave. He quoted another verse from the Bible, Amos 5:24, when calling for people of all races to be treated with “respect and with dignity.”

He saved some of his most strident remarks for discussing race and racism in a question-and-answer session after the speech.

Speaking about America in response to a question on race and racism, he said: “I would also say that as a nation, the truth is, that a nation which in many ways was created, and I’m sorry to have to say this, from way back on racist principles, that’s a fact. We have come a long way as a nation.”

Over all, he said he hoped that these calls for “justice” would rise above the divisions surrounding social issues.

“That’s the main point I was trying to make, that morality is more than just your view on abortions or gay rights,” Mr. Sanders said in an interview after the event. “Moral issues are also hungry children. Moral issues is also the state of our planet and climate change.”

Sanders also put his economic views in a moral perspective:

Some of you may agree with me, and some of you may not, but in my view, it would be hard for anyone in this room today to make the case that the United States of America, our great country, a country which all of us love, it would be hard to make the case that we are a just society, or anything resembling a just society today.

In the United States of America today, there is massive injustice in terms of income and wealth inequality. Injustice is rampant. We live, and I hope all of you know this, in the wealthiest country in the history of the world.

But most Americans don’t know that. Because almost all of that wealth and income is going to the top 1 percent.

You know, that is the truth. We are living in a time — and I warn all of you if you would, put this in the context of the Bible, not me, in the context of the Bible — we are living in a time where a handful of people have wealth beyond comprehension. And I’m talking about tens of billions of dollars, enough to support their families for thousands of years. With huge yachts, and jet planes and tens of billions. More money than they would ever know what to do with.

But at that very same moment, there are millions of people in our country, let alone the rest of the world, who are struggling to feed their families. They are struggling to put a roof over their heads, and some of them are sleeping out on the streets. They are struggling to find money in order to go to a doctor when they are sick.

Now, when we talk about morality, and when we talk about justice, we have to, in my view, understand that there is no justice when so few have so much and so many have so little.

There is no justice, and I want you to hear this clearly, when the top one-tenth of 1 percent — not 1 percent, the top one-tenth of 1 percent — today in America owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. And in your hearts, you will have to determine the morality of that, and the justice of that.

In my view, there is no justice, when here, in Virginia and Vermont and all over this country, millions of people are working long hours for abysmally low wages of $7.25 an hour, of $8 an hour, of $9 an hour, working hard, but unable to bring in enough money to adequately feed their kids.

And yet, at that same time, 58 percent of all new income generated is going to the top 1 percent. You have got to think about the morality of that, the justice of that, and whether or not that is what we want to see in our country.

Sanders’ liberal secular views would not be expected to be accepted at Liberty University. It is not surprising that he did not receive the “thunderous applause or the enthusiasm that greeted Senator Ted Cruz” earlier this year. While Sanders raised the morality behind his positions, he did not alter his general message, regardless of what he expected or hoped for in terms of obtaining votes from members of the audience

The original post was updated with major additions on September 16.

Sanders Gains on Clinton, Biden Met With Obama Bundler, and Trump Loses Job To Foreigner

Clinton declining support women

The Democratic race has become far more interesting than many expected, but we are seeing variations of the same stories the last few weeks: Clinton’s support falling, including in Iowa, New Hampshire, and among women, and along with continued questions about whether Joe Biden will run as the Democratic establishment gets more nervous about Clinton as a candidate.

Among recent polls, ABC News/The Washington Post show non-career politicians Donald Trump and Ben Carson dominating among the Republicans while support for establishment candidate Hillary Clinton is slipping among Democrats:

In the Democratic contest, Clinton’s drop is dramatic, yet not enough to threaten her clear lead. She’s supported by 42 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents who are registered to vote, down from 63 percent in July, while Sanders has gained 10 points, to 24 percent, and Joe Biden’s up by 9 points, to 21 percent. If Biden doesn’t run, most of his support moves to Clinton, boosting her to 56 percent – exactly double Sanders’ support in this case.

Even if still in a strong position, Clinton’s trajectory leaves no question that she has trouble. Just 39 percent now see her as honest and trustworthy, matching her career low; that has dropped by 14 points since last summer. At 46 percent, her rating for empathy –- understanding the problems of average Americans -– is at a career low (albeit by a single point). Her support in the primary has tanked in particular among women, previously a mainstay of her candidacy, from 71 percent in July to 42 percent now.

The e-mail imbroglio is part of it. Fifty-five percent of Americans in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, disapprove of Clinton’s handling of questions about the matter, 54 percent think she’s tried to cover it up and 51 percent think she broke government regulations by using a private server for work-related e-mail during her time as secretary of state…

In the Democratic contest, Clinton and Sanders run essentially evenly among whites, 31 vs. 33 percent; Clinton’s lead relies on nonwhites, among whom she has 57 percent support, to Sanders’ 13 percent. It’s the only major demographic group in which Clinton still maintains a clear majority.

Clinton’s support from nonwhites has dropped, by 14 points, from 71 percent in July. But her support from whites has fallen farther, by 25 points, in the same time.

As noted, too, Clinton’s support among women has cratered by 29 points since July. Among men she’s lost 9 points in the same period, from 52 to 43 percent. Her gender gap has evaporated.

While Clinton still maintains an overall lead nationally for the Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders continues to show increased support in Iowa and New Hampshire, with victories there likely to impact the polls nationally should he hold onto these leads. The YouGov/CBS News Battleground Tracker showed a continuation of the trend seen in other recent polls:

The new poll finds Sen. Sanders with 52% support among Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire, while former Secretary of State Clinton, long considered the front-runner for the 2016 Democratic nomination, receives 30%. Recent polls have shown Sanders’ lead growing in the Granite State, but this would be the first to show the Vermont Senator over 50%.

Possibly more worrying for the Clinton campaign is her performance in Iowa, where Sanders now leads by 10 points, with 43% to Clinton’s 33%.

The entry of Joe Biden into the Democratic race would have a major impact, with Biden dividing the establishment vote, possibly creating a better chance for Bernie Sanders to win the nomination, or in any event decreasing the chance of Clinton winning. At this time Biden has given out mixed signals, I suspect largely because he has not decided what he is going to do. Bloomberg provides further evidence that he is seriously considering the possibility of running:

The 28 hours Joe Biden spent in New York City at the end of last week were a whirlwind of activity—much of it feeding the mounting speculation that he is inching ever closer to launching a late-starting presidential campaign. Biden stood alongside Attorney General Loretta Lynch and announced an $80 million plan to clear the backlog of rape kits in police departments around the country. He appeared with Governor Andrew Cuomo at a rally with some of the city’s most powerful unions to support Cuomo’s push to hike the minimum wage. He made his now-famous appearance on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. He took part in an evening roundtable for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. And, the next day, he delivered remarks at a 9/11 memorial aboard the Intrepid Museum, at which firefighters, cops, and other first responders chanted, “Run, Joe, run!”

Each of these events was freighted with political meaning. For some, the turn on Colbert, with Biden expressing his enduring anguish about the loss of his son Beau and his heartfelt doubts about his ability to rise emotionally to the rigors of a campaign, was the most telling, signaling what many in the political establishment have believed for weeks: that for all of Biden’s dalliances with a bid, he would in the end find himself unable to get to yes.

And that may still prove true. But fewer than 12 hours after the Colbert interview aired, Biden partook in a meeting that signaled something entirely different. The meeting appeared nowhere on his public schedule. It was held in secret at his hotel in Midtown Manhattan and lasted for more than 90 minutes: a private, one-on-one session with one of the most prominent and powerful fundraising stars in the Democratic firmament—a mega-bundler who happens to be, at least for now, publicly committed to Hillary Clinton.

The bundler in question was Robert Wolf: the former chairman and CEO of UBS Americas, a prodigious buck-raker on behalf of Barack Obama in two successive campaigns, a four-time appointee to economic panels in the Obama administration, and perhaps the only person in the American business community—and certainly the sole Wall Street potentate—with whom Obama during his time in office has developed a deep and genuine friendship…

There is also some news of interest which is somewhat related to the Republican race. Arnold Schwarzenegger has been named the new host of Celebrity Apprentice, replacing Donald Trump. Trump is being replaced due to running for president, along with alienating NBC and many potential viewers with his xenophobic talk. Schwarzenegger very well might have been a contender for the Republican nomination (either now or in the past) if not disqualified due to not being a natural born American citizen. Plus, ironically in light of the xenophobia he is spreading, Donald Trump is losing his job to a foreigner.