Quote of the Day: Conan On How Fox Covers The Obamas

Conan  Monologue

For Christmas, The First Lady Michelle Obama said both her daughters asked for money. Or, as Fox News reported it, “Obama Gives More Handouts to the Unemployed.”  –Conan O’Brien

Third Democratic Debate Showed Sanders’ Strength On Foreign Policy, Health Care, And Social Justice

Third Democratic Debate ABC News

The third Democratic Debate (transcript here) was most significant for Sanders doing his best job yet in the debates of taking on Hillary Clinton on foreign policy. Unfortunately, with the debate airing on the Saturday night before Christmas, The Guardian might have it right in this headline: Sanders outshone Clinton on foreign policy at the debate. But who watched? Both Sanders and O’Malley were also critical of Clinton’s Wall Street ties and economic views. During much of the evening I felt like I was watching a debate between two Democrats and a Republican.

While Sanders was prepared to take on Clinton’s foreign policy views, he did begin with his usual themes in his opening statement:

I am running for president of the United States because it is too late for establishment politics and establishment economics. I’m running for president because our economy is rigged because working people are working longer hours for lower wages and almost all of new wealth and income being created is going to the top one percent. I’m running for president because I’m going to create an economy that works for working families not just billionaires.

I’m running for president because we have a campaign finance system which is corrupt, where billionaires are spending hundreds of millionaires of dollars to buy candidates who will represent their interests rather than the middle class and working families. I’m running because we need to address the planetary crisis of climate change and take on the fossil fuel industry and transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy.

I’m running for president because I want a new foreign policy; one that takes on Isis, one that destroys ISIS, but one that does not get us involved in perpetual warfare in the quagmire of the Middle East but rather works around a major coalition of wealthy and powerful nations supporting Muslim troops on the ground. That’s the kind of coalition we need and that’s the kind of coalition I will put together.

The breech in security on the DNC’s voter data base came up. Sanders explained the situation, including an open admission of what staffers had done wrong, and then was asked if Clinton deserved an apology:

Not only — not only do I apologize to Secretary Clinton — and I hope we can work together on an independent investigation from day one — I want to apologize to my supporters. This is not the type of campaign that we run.

And if I find anybody else involved in this, they will also be fired.

Clinton appeared shocked, as if she didn’t see this coming. Such an honest response to a scandal is so foreign to her.

It didn’t take long for the debate to turn to foreign policy. Sanders criticized Clinton’s interventionist foreign policy views and support for regime change. There was a detour on gun control when Clinton was asked, ” Secretary Clinton, in the wake of the San Bernardino attack, you all emphasized gun control. But our latest poll shows that more Americans believe arming people, not stricter gun laws, is the best defense against terrorism. Are they wrong?”

Clinton stumbled in answering but I do think she was trying to say the right thing here. She finally did say, “Guns, in and of themselves, in my opinion, will not make Americans safer.”

O’Malley took advantage of this to attack the records of both Clinton and Sanders on guns. He is right, as I have discussed here, that Clinton changes her position on this every election year. He is also right that Sanders has had some votes which gun control advocates could rightly criticize, but as has generally been the case when this issue has come up, Sanders’ general history of support for gun control was distorted. Among the issues was that O’Malley raised was that, “Senator Sanders voted against even research dollars to look into this public health issue.”

The problem with citing a single vote against any Senator is that bills contain multiple items, and it is possible that Sanders voted against the amendment based upon details unrelated to the general issue. This vote took place in 1996 and in more recent interviews Sanders has not been able to recall the specifics of why he voted against this at the time. More importantly, Sanders now favors funding for this research. All three candidates are strongly promoting gun control.

Hillary Clinton often seemed to deflect from questions by bringing up criticisms of Donald Trump. Most were valid, but Clinton was wrong on one point:

And we also need to make sure that the really discriminatory messages that Trump is sending around the world don’t fall on receptive ears. He is becoming ISIS’s best recruiter. They are going to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists. So I want to explain why this is not in America’s interest to react with this kind of fear and respond to this sort of bigotry.

The fact check sites, including Factcheck.org, states that no such video exists. This is apparently as fictitious as the videos which Carly Fiorina claimed to have seen regarding Planned Parenthood at the second Republican debate.

Clinton was confronted with the contradictions in her statements on Syria by Martha Raddatz, who tried to force Clinton to defend her foreign policy failures several times during the debate:

Secretary Clinton, you too have ruled out a large U.S. combat force, yet you support sending in special operations forces to Syria, and sending those 100 to 200 troops to Iraq to do exploitation kill raids.

We’ve already lost one Delta Force member in a raid. It has looked very much to me like we’re already in ground combat on frequent trips I’ve made there.

After a weak answer from Clinton, Raddatz followed up:

Secretary Clinton, I want — I want to follow up on that. You do support sending special operations forces there. You support what the president has done already. One of the lessons people draw from Vietnam and war since is that a little force can turn into a little more and a little more. President Obama certainly didn’t expect to be sending 30,000 additional troops into Afghanistan the first year of his presidency.

Are you prepared to run the risk of a bigger war to achieve your goals to destroy ISIS, or are you prepared to give up on those goals if it requires a larger force?

Clinton continued to struggle to defend her foreign policy views. After Clinton mentioned her support for a no-fly zone in Syria, Raddatz asked, “Secretary Clinton, I’d like to go back to that if I could. ISIS doesn’t have aircraft, Al Qaida doesn’t have aircraft. So would you shoot down a Syrian military aircraft or a Russian airplane?”

Both O’Malley and Sanders criticized Clinton’s views, with Sanders putting it all in perspective:

I have a difference of opinion with Secretary Clinton on this. Our differences are fairly deep on this issue. We disagreed on the war in Iraq. We both listened to the information from Bush and Cheney. I voted against the war.

But I think — and I say this with due respect — that I worry too much that Secretary Clinton is too much into regime change and a little bit too aggressive without knowing what the unintended consequences might be.

Yes, we could get rid of Saddam Hussein, but that destabilized the entire region. Yes, we could get rid of Gadhafi, a terrible dictator, but that created a vacuum for ISIS. Yes, we could get rid of Assad tomorrow, but that would create another political vacuum that would benefit ISIS. So I think, yeah, regime change is easy, getting rid of dictators is easy. But before you do that, you’ve got to think about what happens the day after. And in my view, what we need to do is put together broad coalitions to understand that we’re not going to have a political vacuum filled by terrorists, that, in fact, we are going to move steadily — and maybe slowly — toward democratic societies, in terms of Assad, a terrible dictator. But I think in Syria the primary focus now must be on destroying ISIS and working over the years to get rid of Assad. That’s the secondary issue.

With Clinton lacking any arguments of substance to defend her views, Clinton resorted to her usual tactic of deception. She tried to deflect from such criticism, and deny the substantial difference in their views, by distorting  Sanders’ record in saying, “With all due respect, senator, you voted for regime change with respect to Libya. you joined the Senate in voting to get rid of Qaddafi.” As Politico pointed out after the debate, the vote referred to a nonbinding resolution he voted for, which asked the dictator to “desist from further violence, recognize the Libyan people’s demand for democratic change, [and] resign his position.” This was hardly comparable to the removal of Qaddafi by force which Clinton backed.

O’Malley criticized Clinton’s antiqued thinking, with this not being the only time he contrasted his age to his two older opponents:

During the Cold War — during the Cold War, we got into a bad habit of always looking to see who was wearing the jersey of the communists, and who was wearing the U.S. jersey. We got into a bad habit of creating big bureaucracies, old methodologies, to undermine regimes that were not friendly to the United States. Look what we did in Iran with Mosaddegh. And look at the results that we’re still dealing with because of that. I would suggest to you that we need to leave the Cold War behind us, and we need to put together new alliances and new approaches to dealing with this, and we need to restrain ourselves.

I mean, I know Secretary Clinton was gleeful when Gadhafi was torn apart. And the world, no doubt is a better place without him. But look, we didn’t know what was happening next. And we fell into the same trap with Assad, saying — as if it’s our job to say, Assad must go.

We have a role to play in this world. But we need to leave the Cold War and that sort of antiquated thinking behind.

O’Malley was strong in criticizing Clinton’s ties to Wall Street and pointed how in the second debate she “very shamefully, she tried to hide her cozy relationship with Wall Street big banks by invoking the attacks of 9/11.” Clinton down played her contributions from Wall Street by ignoring her super PAC contributions, while Sanders pointed out, “Secretary Clinton, I don’t have a super PAC. I don’t get any money from Wall Street.” I am even more concerned about the corrupting effects of the contributions to the Foundation and unprecedented speaking fees paid to her husband.

The debate moved to health care with Sanders repeating his support for Medicare for All and Clinton objecting based upon the tax increases this would require. Sanders defended his proposal from Clinton’s attacks:

But Secretary Clinton is wrong.

As you know, because I know you know a lot about health care. You know that the United States per capita pays far and away more than other country. And it is unfair simply to say how much more the program will cost without making sure that people know that, we are doing away with cost of private insurance and that the middle class will be paying substantially less for health care on the single payer than on the Secretary’s Clinton proposal.

Clinton continued to channel right wing attacks on progressive programs by concentrating on their costs while ignoring their benefits in saying, “I don’t think we should be imposing new big programs that are going to raise middle class families’ taxes.”

Sanders responded by once again showing how he supports the economic policies of FDR and LBJ:

Number one, most important economic reality of today is that over the last 30 years, there has been a transfer of trillions of dollars from the middle class to the top one-tenth of one percent who are seeing a doubling of the percentage of wealth that they own.

Now, when Secretary Clinton says, “I’m not going raise taxes on the middle class,” let me tell you what she is saying. She is disagreeing with FDR on Social Security, LBJ on Medicare and with the vast majority of progressive Democrats in the House and the Senate, who today are fighting to end the disgrace of the United States being the only major country on Earth that doesn’t provide paid family and medical leave.

Sanders was the strongest candidate in speaking out for social justice:

Well, this whole issue concerns me. And I agree with much of what the secretary and the governor have said. But let’s be clear. Today in America we have more people in jail than any other country on earth, 2.2 million people. Predominantly African-American and Hispanic.

We are spending $80 billion a year locking up our fellow Americans. I think, and this is not easy, but I think we need to make wage a major effort, to come together as a country and end institutional racism. We need major, major reforms of a very broken criminal justice system. Now, what does that mean?

Well, for a start it means that police officers should not be shooting unarmed people, predominantly African-Americans.

It means that we have to rethink the so-called war on drugs which has destroyed the lives of millions of people, which is why I have taken marijuana out of the Controlled Substance Act. So that it will not be a federal crime.That is why we need to make police — and I speak as a former mayor. I was a mayor for eight years, worked very closely with a great police department. And what we did is try to move that department toward community policing, so that the police officers become part of the community and not, as we see, in some cities an oppressive force.

We need to make police departments look like the communities they serve in terms of diversity. We need to end minimal sentencing. We need, basically, to pledge that we’re going to invest in this country, in jobs and education, not more jails and incarceration.

Towards the end, Martha Raddatz returned to Clinton’s failed policy on Libya, which Clinton has received considerable criticism for:

Secretary Clinton, I want to circle back to something that your opponents here have brought up. Libya is falling apart. The country is a haven for ISIS and jihadists with an estimated 2,000 ISIS fighters there today. You advocated for that 2011 intervention and called it smart power at its best. And yet, even President Obama said the U.S. should have done more to fill the leadership vacuum left behind. How much responsibility do you bear for the chaos that followed elections?

Clinton tried to deflect and Raddatz followed up:

Secretary Clinton, I want to go back. That — government lacked institutions and experience. It had been a family business for 40 years. On the security side, we offered only a modest training effort and a very limited arms buy-back program. Let me ask you the question again. How much responsibility do you bear for the chaos that followed those elections?

Sanders also showed his disagreements with Clinton on regime change:

SANDERS: Look, the secretary is right. This is a terribly complicated issue. There are no simple solutions. But where we have a disagreement is that I think if you look at the history of regime changes, you go back to Mossaddegh (ph) in Iran, you go back to Salvador Allende who we overthrew in Chile, you go back to overthrowing Saddam Hussein in Iraq, you go back to where we are today in Syria with a dictator named Assad.

The truth is it is relatively easy for a powerful nation like America to overthrow a dictator but it is very hard to predict the unintended consequences and the turmoil and the instability that follows after you overthrow that dictator.

So I think secretary Clinton and I have a fundamental disagreement. I’m not quite the fan of regime change that I believe she is.

After many questions of substance, the final questions were rather lame regarding the role of the president’s spouse. The candidates then gave their closing statements, with Clinton going last and concluding, “Thank you, good night and may the force be with you.”

The force was strong in Bernie Sanders, while Hillary Clinton (and Debbie Wasserman Schultz) have been taken away by the dark side.

SciFi Weekend: Arrow; Legends of Tomorrow; Jessica Jones; Luke Cage; The Man In The High Castle; The Expanse; Childhood’s End; 11.22.63; Minority Report; House of Cards; Fargo; Doctor Who; Ted Cruz Christmas Infomercial

Arrow -- "The Magician" -- Image AR304a_0155b -- Pictured (L-R): Katrina Law as Nyssa al Ghul and Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen -- Photo: Ed Araquel/The CW -- © 2014 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Matt Nable will be reprising his role of Ra’s al Ghul from Arrow in the ninth episode of Legends of Tomorrow. Considering that much of the cast is made up of people who either died or appeared to die on Arrow, this doesn’t really come as a surprise. Damian Dark will also be making an appearance on Legends of Tomorrow. On Arrow, Nyssa will also continue to fight Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) for her dead father’s title.

I really liked Daredevil, and liked what they did with Jessica Jones even more. Jessica Jones also has me looking forward to Luke Cage. Collider had an interview with Mike Colter, who plays Luke Cage. The discussion included how Luke Cage will differ from Daredevil and Jessica Jones.

Man In The High Castle

I was happy to hear that Amazon has renewed The Man In The High Castle, as expected, for a second season. The entire series was enjoyable, but that ending has me really wondering where the show is headed. I read the book many, many years ago and don’t remember how it ended. Plus there are already major changes from the book so that might not matter.

I’ve  been far too busy around the holidays to keep up with everything on television. I thought I was doing well completing both Jessica Jones and The Man In The High Castle. (My original plan was to review these two series this week, but holiday plans have prevented it.) I haven’t had time to start The Expanse, but I hear that if some time opens up it is possible to stream the first four episodes, and get ahead of what has been shown on television.

I have recorded Childhood’s End with hopes of watching it sometime later over the holidays. Meanwhile this article, which I haven’t read to avoid spoilers, looks like the type of article with a show’s producer on the ending which I would be quoting from if I had seen the show.

Yet another new genre show I haven’t had time to watch–The Magicians. IO9 has a review here.

Hulu is releasing teaser trailers of 11.22.63, produced by J.J. Abrams and based upon the Stephen King novel. Abrams also has something else major out this weekend.

I also haven’t had a chance to watch the movie version of The Martian yet, but did enjoy the book last year. Nerdist has news on Andy Weir’s next book, to take place on the moon and feature a female lead.

With so much to watch on television, I didn’t watch Minority Report after some poor reviews of the first episode, followed by news that production was cut to ten episodes. The final episode aired recently and I have heard some buzz that the series ended well. This is a positive sign of how television has changed. In the past a network needed at least a few years of a series to make money in syndication. If it looked weak after a few episodes, they would be tempted to just pull the plug.

These days a series can still bring in episodes with even a short run. By giving the producers a cut off date, they were able to make a series which stood on its own with ten episodes, or expand into subsequent seasons if it did build an audience. It is still possible to sell a self-contained ten episode series as a Blu ray or DVD set, as well as have it on one or more streaming networks. The networks have reason to continue a show with a small audience for at least a short time, current viewers get a conclusion as opposed to having a show they like abruptly pulled, and genre fans have one more thing available to watch when desired in the future. Plus maybe a show will even be brought back by another outlet.

Netflix ran the trailer for the fourth season of House of Cards during last week’s Republican debate. The show returns on March 4. “America, I am only getting started” sounds sort of scary.

The third season of Fargo won’t be filming until next winter, and therefore won’t be seen until sometime in 2017. It will take place in 2010, four years after the first season. We got an unexpected view of some of the characters from the first season in the second season finale, but reportedly the regulars from the first season will not be the major characters for the third season. Some could appear briefly.

Doctor Who TV has an advance review of this year’s Christmas special, The Husbands of River Song.

ABC will be airing a one hour special, Captain America’s 75th Anniversary, on January 19th, just prior to the season premiere of Agent Carter. It will be opposite the return of The Flash on CW, but that is why we have Hulu, and modern DVR’s which record more than one show at a time.

Vox looks at Tina Fey’s response to some of the internet outrage over Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt for having  the blonde, Polish actress Jane Krakowski playeding a Native American woman who was hiding her true ethnicity.

Ted Cruz has paid for a Christmas-themed parody infomercial to air during Saturday Night Live tonight. Steve M. has a review, and finds Cruz to be scary. I agree.

Sanders Wins Battle With DNC & Shows He Is Better Than Clinton At Responding To Scandals

DWS v Sanders

It didn’t take long after the Sanders campaign carried out its threat to file suit against the Democratic National Committee for the DNC to give in and allow Sanders access to his voter data:

After midnight, Sanders and the DNC put out statements that both indicated the impasse had been resolved but that put remarkably different spins on the outcome. Sanders’s campaign said the DNC had “capitulated” and that Sanders would soon regain access to the data. The DNC said what happened was “completely unacceptable” and that it would continue to investigate the circumstances even as Sanders regained access to the valuable information.

I think that this result was inevitable. First, Clinton supporter Debbie Wasserman Schultz was clearly taking advantage of the situation to hinder the Sanders campaign at a moment when it was showing increased strength. Her actions were far out of proportion to the infraction committed by a Sanders staffer, who was subsequently fired. Secondly, the actions were in clear violation of party rules:

The suit, filed in federal court in Washington, argued that under a contract between the DNC and the campaign governing the data system’s use, formal notice in writing is required if either side believes the other has violated the deal. In addition, each side is supposed to be allowed 10 days to address any concerns, the suit said.

“The DNC may not suspend the Campaign’s access to critical Voter Data out of haste or desperation to clean up after the DNC’s own mistakes,” the suit says.

This incident shows the difference between the Sanders campaign and the Clinton/DNC camp. The Sanders campaign showed its integrity in both immediately reporting the breach and  firing the person responsible. Will Debbie Wasserman Schultz or anyone at the DNC be held accountable for their improper response to this on Friday?

Debbie Wasserman Schultz has also been talking about an independent audit. In contrast, look how hard Clinton fought to try to prevent her emails as Secretary of State from being released, with half of her emails having been deleted under the false claim of all the deleted email having been personal. How about a full audit of  donations to the Clinton Foundation, as suggested by Common Cause, in light of the unethical manner in which Clinton ruled on matters as Secretary of State involving parties contributing to the Foundation and paying unprecedented speaking fees to her husband?

The response by the Sanders campaign shows a major contrast with how the Clintons handle scandals. Instead of the usual denials and stone walling, the Sanders campaign took responsibility and resolved the matter. The Sanders camp also showed their strength in quickly winning this battle with the DNC.

It will be interesting to see if the increased conflict between Sanders and Clinton is reflected in tonight’s debate. Maybe now Sanders won’t be so quick to defend Clinton if her far more serious scandals should come up.

Sanders Campaign Sues DNC; Response To Crisis Shows Difference From Clinton Crisis Management

Sanders Sues DNC

Bernie Sanders’ campaign has filed suit against the Democratic National Committee after they were suspended from access to the party’s voter database. The database is being used by all three campaigns, with each campaign adding their own voter data. A breech in the system led to members of Sanders’s campaign improperly obtaining access to information from the Clinton campaign. While the actions of the staffers involved do appear to be wrong, the incident does demonstrate differences between how Sanders and Clinton respond to ethical questions.

The staffer responsible for members of the Sanders campaign accessing the Clinton’s vote file claimed that he was doing this to evaluate the breech and to provide proof to the vendor of the existence of the breach. He was interviewed by CNN:

The Bernie Sanders campaign staffer who was fired for accessing data unique to the Hillary Clinton campaign’s vote file, told CNN on Friday that he was only trying to “understand how badly the Sanders campaign’s data was exposed” and not attempting to take data from the Clinton campaign.

“We knew there was a security breach in the data, and we were just trying to understand it and what was happening,” said Josh Uretsky, reached by phone on Friday morning, a day after the campaign let him go.

He added, “To the best of my knowledge, nobody took anything that would have given the (Sanders) campaign any benefit.”
The Sanders campaign fired Uretsky over the breach. “That behavior is unacceptable and that staffer was fired immediately,” Sanders’ spokesman Michael Briggs said Thursday night.

It is impossible to know if Uretsky was being honest about his motives. Due to the questions caused by his actions, the Sanders’ campaign was right to immediately fire Uretsky.

The Sanders’ campaign had been threatening to file suit throughout the day on Friday after they were subsequently denied access to their voter data on the sever by the DNC, and ultimately did file suit late Friday afternoon.

The suit claims that the loss of the voter file could “significantly disadvantage, if not cripple, a Democratic candidate’s campaign for public office.” It also argues that the agreement between the candidate and the DNC mandates that a candidate get 10 days written notice to fix any issue before the party can restrict access.

“The DNC’s unwarranted, unilateral suspension of the Campaign’s Voter Data access directly impacts one of the nation’s most important electoral races, and carries political implications on a national scale,” the suit says.

“The DNC should not be permitted to tip the scales of the Democratic presidential primary without clear justification and contractual cause. The fairness of this pivotal national election should not be compromised because of security flaws introduced by the DNC and its vendor.”

Politico described the consequences of the DNC’s action:

The DNC’s punishment is a potentially crippling blow to the Vermont senator’s campaign: it means he temporarily loses access to critical voter data just weeks before voting is set to begin in Iowa and New Hampshire, where he is within striking distance of Clinton. Without access to the voter file, on-the-ground organizing will become far more difficult for Sanders.

This also hinders fund raising efforts, and the Sanders campaign is suing for damages.

Democracy for America, which endorsed Sanders the previous day, and Move On have both defended Sanders and called on the DNC to allow his campaign access to their data.

The rather extreme manner in which the DNC handled the situation has exacerbated tensions in the Democratic Party due to the manner in which DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a long-time Clinton ally, has used her position to favor Clinton. This includes both the limiting the number of debates allowed, as requested by the Clinton campaign, which only wanted a total of four debates,  along with scheduling the debates at times they were less likely to be viewed–such as this Saturday night.

While the improper actions of staffers does not reflect well on Bernie Sanders, sometimes it takes a crisis to show the true character of the candidates. There was a considerable difference between the reaction of the Clinton campaign to this matter and how Bernie Sanders desired to keep the Clinton email scandal out of the Democratic debates.

It is debatable whether Sanders made the right decision considering the far more serious nature of the scandals surrounding Hillary Clinton. Considering the number of supporters who question voting for Hillary Clinton if she wins the nomination, it might be prudent for Clinton to support Sanders’ right to access to his voter information to avoid further alienation of progressive voters. Clinton press secretary Brian Fallon has not been helping her campaign by attacking Sanders on Twitter over this.

Other differences between Sanders and Clinton came to mind after Debbie Wasserman Schultz defended her decision on CNN:

DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schutz, speaking on CNN, said its action to suspend Sanders’ access to the voter file was “certainly not unreasonable.”

She said if the shoe was on the other foot, and the Clinton camp had accessed Sanders’ data, “I’m confident that this is the decision that they would expect from us.”

Except that if it was the Clinton camp, they [probably would not have notified the vendor of the security vulnerability as the Sanders camp did, they probably would not have fired the individual responsible, and they would have come up with a series of lies to justify their actions as they were exposed by fact checkers of doing regarding the email scandal.

While it is unfortunate that such a crisis has developed during the campaign, there is the risk of scandal in any campaign. There is also the risk of scandal during a presidency. Sanders actions suggest that he would respond to a scandal in his administration far more honorably than Clinton would. Is there any doubt that any crisis in another Clinton administration would lead to endless stonewalling, dishonesty, and attacks?

Update: Sanders Wins Battle With DNC & Shows He Is Better Than Clinton At Responding To Scandals

Bernie Sanders Receives Two Major Endorsements

Democracy For America Endorses Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders has picked up two major endorsements today from the Communications Workers of America union and Democracy for America. MSNBC reports on the first endorsement of the day:

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is set to pick up one of his biggest endorsements yet Thursday from the powerful Communications Workers of America union, sources told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell.

The group represents some 700,000 workers nationally, making it by far the largest union to back Sanders yet.

Politico reports on the second endorsement:

Bernie Sanders picked up his second significant progressive endorsement of the day on Thursday afternoon, and this one might sting for Hillary Clinton.

Democracy For America, the 1 million-member liberal group that helped stoke much of the pro-Elizabeth Warren movement early in the 2016 election cycle, is backing the independent Vermont senator after he earned 88 percent of the over 270,000 votes cast in the group’s online membership poll, compared with 10 percent for Clinton and 1 percent for both Martin O’Malley and the option not to endorse at all.

 The move is significant given DFA’s high threshold for endorsing. The group has existed since 2004, and no candidate had ever previously made it past the two-thirds mark necessary for the nod — which will come with fundraising help and an on-the-ground organization in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, DFA executive director Charles Chamberlain wrote in an email due to go to supporters on Thursday.

As the strong establishment candidate, Hillary Clinton remains far ahead of Sanders in terms of endorsements, but it is likely that many union members will vote for Sanders regardless of the position of their union leadership. I am not surprised that the DFA’s threshold to endorse a presidential candidate was met for the first time this year. With Hillary Clinton’s move to the right during this campaign, in addition to her overall conservative record and political philosophy, this represents  a clear choice between a liberal and conservative candidate for the Democratic nomination. Clinton’s positions are generally contrary to the views which led many liberals to get involved in politics and groups such as Democracy for America.

The Sanders campaign achieve another goal this week in receiving two million campaign contributions:

Aides to Bernie Sanders said Wednesday night that his campaign has now collected more than 2 million contributions and that they expect to outpace President Obama’s 2012 reelection effort on that count by the end of the year.

The number reflects an operation that has focused on raising money in small increments from an exceptionally wide range of donors — with the vast majority of contributions coming over the Internet…

Sanders has already taken in more individual contributions than Obama did at this point in his 2008 campaign for president. Aides to Sanders said they are confident by the end of the year, Sanders will have more than the 2.2 million donations that Obama did during the equivalent stretch in the 2012 race.

Debate Shows Why Republicans Cannot Be Trusted On Foreign Policy

Republican Debate Los Vegas

The Republican debate (transcript here) showed once again that most of the GOP candidates have not learned a thing from the mistakes made by George W. Bush. The debate did play towards Rand Paul’s areas of sanity in opposing military interventionism and infringements on civil liberties, and did not include the many other areas where Paul is no better than the others in his parties. Jeb Bush, whose candidacy was derailed partially due to attacks from Donald Trump of being low energy, did manage some good counter-attacks on Trump. Chris Christie, back from the kiddie table debate, showed moments of strength, for better or worse.

As Esquire pointed out, Rand Paul didn’t win the debate (primarily because most Republican voters would not go along with his views) but did raise the important questions.

BLITZER: Senator Paul, was getting rid of Saddam Hussein a pretty good deal?

PAUL: These are the fundamental questions of our time, these foreign policy questions, whether or not regime change is a good idea or a bad idea. I don’t think because I think the regime change was a bad idea it means that Hussein was necessarily a good idea.

There is often variations of evil on both sides of the war. What we have to decide is whether or not regime change is a good idea. It’s what the neoconservatives have wanted. It’s what the vast majority of those on the stage want.

They still want regime change. They want it in Syria. They wanted it in Iraq. They want it in Libya. It has not worked.

Out of regime change you get chaos. From the chaos you have seen repeatedly the rise of radical Islam. So we get this profession of, oh, my goodness, they want to do something about terrorism and yet they’re the problem because they allow terrorism to arise out of that chaos.

Ted Cruz said he wanted to “carpet bomb ISIS into oblivion,” and to have”sand can glow in the dark.”When asked about killing civilians, Cruz replied, “You would carpet bomb where ISIS is, not a city, but the location of the troops.” But ISIS is in cities. does he think they are just sitting targets out in the desert, away from civilians, waiting to be bombed?

Ben Carson bragged about being tough enough to kill children:

HEWITT: So you are OK with the deaths of thousands of innocent children and civilian? It’s like…

CARSON: You got it. You got it.

Donald Trump both spoke of closing portions of the Internet and killing the families of terrorists. Rand Paul responded:

I’d like to also go back to, though, another question, which is, is Donald Trump a serious candidate? The reason I ask this is, if you’re going to close the Internet, realize, America, what that entails. That entails getting rid of the First amendment, OK? It’s no small feat.

If you are going to kill the families of terrorists, realize that there’s something called the Geneva Convention we’re going to have to pull out of. It would defy every norm that is America. So when you ask yourself, whoever you are, that think you’re going to support Donald Trump, think, do you believe in the Constitution? Are you going to change the Constitution?

Carly Fiorina pointed out that, “Hillary Clinton has gotten every foreign policy challenge wrong.” That is generally true, as she has the same neoconservative views as most of the Republicans, who are no better.

Chris Christie did sound strong when he mocked Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz when they argued.

CHRISTIE: Listen, I want to talk to the audience at home for a second. If your eyes are glazing over like mine, this is what it’s like to be on the floor of the United States Senate. I mean, endless debates about how many angels on the head of a pin from people who’ve never had to make a consequential decision in an executive position.

But being tough does not necessarily mean being wise, and Christie showed a quite foolish attitude towards Russia. Again Rand Paul displayed a sense of reality lacking in both other Republican candidates, as well as Hillary Clinton, in their support of the no fly zone:

BLITZER: Governor Christie, if the U.S. imposed a no-fly zone over Syria and a Russian plane encroached, invaded that no-fly zone, would you be prepared to shoot down that Russian plane and risk war with Russia?

CHRISTIE: Not only would I be prepared to do it, I would do it. A no-fly zone means a no-fly zone, Wolf. That’s what it means.

See, maybe — maybe because I’m from New Jersey, I just have this kind of plain language hangup. But I would make very clear — I would not talk to Vladimir Putin. In fact, I would talk to Vladimir Putin a lot. But I’d say to him, “Listen, Mr. President, there’s a no-fly zone in Syria; you fly in, it applies to you.” And yes, we would shoot down the planes of Russian pilots if in fact they were stupid enough to think that this president was the same feckless weakling that the president we have in the Oval Office is right now.

BLITZER: Senator Paul — Senator Paul, I want you to respond to what we just heard from Governor Christie. If there was a no-fly zone, you say that potentially could lead to World War III. Why?

PAUL: Well, I think if you’re in favor of World War III, you have your candidate. You know, here’s the thing. My goodness, what we want in a leader is someone with judgment, not someone who is so reckless as to stand on the stage and say, “Yes, I’m jumping up and down; I’m going to shoot down Russian planes.” Russia already flies in that airspace. It may not be something we’re in love with the fact that they’re there, but they were invited by Iraq and by Syria to fly in that airspace.

And so if we announce we’re going to have a no-fly zone, and others have said this. Hillary Clinton is also for it. It is a recipe for disaster. It’s a recipe for World War III. We need to confront Russia from a position of strength, but we don’t need to confront Russia from a point of recklessness that would lead to war.

This is something — this type of judgment, you know, it’s having that kind of judgment; who you would appoint and how you’re going to conduct affairs, that is incredibly important.

I mean, I think when we think about the judgment of someone who might want World War III, we might think about someone who might shut down a bridge because they don’t like their friends; they don’t want to — you know, they want to (inaudible) a Democrat.

So I think we need to be very careful.

Jeb Bush didn’t have much of consequence to say on policy, but he did do a good job of responding to Donald Trump’s antics. He told Trump, “Donald, you’re not going to be able to insult your way to the presidency. That’s not going to happen.” He summed up Trump here:

So Donald, you know, is great at — at the one-liners, but he’s a chaos candidate. And he’d be a chaos president. He would not be the commander in chief we need to keep our country safe.

He also questioned Trump’s source of information, referring back to a previous statement from Donald Trump that he obtained information on foreign policy from television shows:

HEWITT: Governor Bush, a commander-in-chief question. You’ve said that Mr. Trump is not qualified to be president because he’s not qualified to deal with Vladimir Putin. Why are you better qualified to deal with Vladimir Putin than Mr. Trump?

BUSH: Because I — first of all, I know what I don’t know. I know what I don’t know. I would seek out, as I have, the best advice that exists. I won’t get my information from the shows. I don’t know if that’s Saturday morning or Sunday morning. I don’t know which one.

None of the candidates was remotely qualified to be president. (While Rand Paul was generally right in this debate, his economic views and opposition to reproductive rights, which did not come up in this debate would disqualify him.) Unfortunately the Democratic front runner holds essentially the same views, even if Clinton uses different rhetoric in appealing to Democratic as opposed to Republican primary voters. Bernie Sanders represents our best hope to both have a president who has not made the errors which destabilized the region, and who can inspire voters to turn out to defeat the Republicans in a general election.

Quote of the Day: Conan on Donald Trump’s Medical Report

Conan  Monologue

Donald Trump’s doctor wrote a letter saying that if elected, “Mr. Trump will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.” Then, when asked about Trump’s mental health, the doctor got very quiet. –Conan O’Brien

Many Young Women Not Necessarily Ready For Hillary, And Will Consider Sanders

Young Voters For Sanders

Support for Hillary Clinton has been characterized by a tremendous gender gap in many polls as women voters, along with some men, are so eager to have a female president that they are willing to overlook Clinton’s rather serious flaws, both on policy matters and character. It is encouraging to see a report in The New York Times  which found that many younger women are looking more at the candidate than their gender. The article begins:

Barbara Schierenbeck, a 59-year-old nurse in Brooklyn, is swept up in the excitement of potentially electing Hillary Clinton the first female president. She cannot understand why her 19-year-old daughter, Anna, does not feel the same way.

“Fifteen or 20 years ago, no one would even think about a woman being president,” Mrs. Schierenbeck said. “Certainly, when I was 20 years old in the 1970s, I don’t think I would even have thought about it.”

But for her daughter, electing a woman, while a nice idea, is not a motivating factor. “I want to see someone who, like, has the fervor to fight for me,” Anna Schierenbeck said. A woman will be elected president “pretty soon” anyway, she said, regardless of what happens in 2016. Why does that woman have to be Mrs. Clinton?

The problem is with Mrs. Clinton, which is exacerbated by how much she has moved to the right this fall, along with her life-long record of undermining liberal causes. While her supporters often claim that opposition to her is based upon sexism, in reality it is based upon principle, as many of the left do not want to see what would amount to a third term for George Bush on far too many policy matters, with the ethics of Richard Nixon.

If Elizabeth Warren was the nominee there would be no objection from the left. Should Clinton win the nomination, many on the left, especially those of us who do not live in battleground states, are now talking about happily voting for a woman candidate. Except she would be Jill Stein of the Green Party, not Hillary Clinton.

The objection is not to a woman president. The objection is to Hillary Clinton.

Getting back to the article:

The mother-daughter debate unfolding in the Schierenbeck household reflects a debate taking place across the country, as women of varying ages and backgrounds confront the potential milestone implicit in Mrs. Clinton’s bid very differently. As her chances of becoming the first woman to be nominated by a major political party improve, many women are considering how much gender should play into their decisions to embrace Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy — or not.

The generational divide in how they answer that question has added urgency to Mrs. Clinton’s efforts to focus on how she appeals to younger women, who overwhelmingly vote Democratic but who might sit out an election if they are not excited by a candidate. After beginning her candidacy in April with hopes of inspiring women that this was their moment, she is now more intent on trying to forge common cause on specific issues, and less on merely shattering the glass ceiling.

Unlike in her 2008 campaign, Mrs. Clinton has this year leaned heavily on her gender, often ending speeches by invoking an America “where a father can tell his daughter, ‘Yes, you can be anything you want to be, even president of the United States.’ ”

It is a powerful line for Mrs. Clinton’s most avid supporters: college-educated women in their 50s and 60s. “For baby boomer women, in particular, it’s ‘I fought this whole war, and now we’re running out of time, and if not Hillary, then who would it be?’ ” said Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster who is herself a baby boomer.

But younger women are less impressed.

Meghan Speed, a 20-year-old college junior from Concord, N.C., said she expected a woman to be elected president in the next 20 years, but planned to vote for Senator Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary because of his record on issues like income inequality.

“For me it was very difficult to wrap my mind around not fully supporting Hillary, because she is a woman,” she said. “But I came to the realization that if I am supporting her because she is a woman, that’s equally as bad as not supporting her because of her gender.”

Yes, supporting Clinton because of her gender, ignoring her conservative views and history of unethical behavior, would be the wrong decision. So is it for Democrats who would oppose the same policies or behavior coming from Clinton if they came from a Republican, but ignore them because of her gender or party affiliation. Candidates should be judged by the same standards, regardless of party.

The generational gap, with the young supporting Sanders over Clinton regardless of gender, is reminiscent of the generational gap between those who supported Obama over Clinton eight years ago:

The generational gap haunted Mrs. Clinton in the 2008 primary: In Iowa, Mr. Obama took 51 percent, John Edwards 19 percent and Mrs. Clinton just 11 percent of the caucus vote among women younger than 24. The only demographic cohort that Mrs. Clinton won, exit polls showed, was women older than 65…

Mrs. Clinton’s standing among white women has declined in some recent polls, but women remain the backbone of her support. More than half of all women said they had a favorable opinion of Mrs. Clinton, compared with 36 percent of men, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released this month.

But just 38 percent of women aged 18 to 29 said they supported Mrs. Clinton in the Democratic primary, compared with 40 percent for Mr. Sanders, according to a poll of 2,011 young people released Thursday by Harvard’s Institute of Politics.

A major question in this campaign will be how young voters, former Obama voters, and voters who have not typically participated in the nominating system turn out in Iowa and New Hampshire. Polling does not give a reliable indicator of such caucus and primary states, as I have discussed many times before, as most voters do not decide until the last minute, and pollsters cannot reliably determine who will turn out to vote. It is always dangerous to count on young voters, who vote in smaller percentages than older voters. I am hopeful that having the Iowa caucus take place this year after students are back at school, as opposed to over the holiday break eight years ago, will lead to an improvement in their participation.

Sanders’ views are far more in tune with those of the young, and hopefully his support will increase as more people become aware of the vast differences in his views compared to Clinton’s. Those who are concerned about the state of the economy and getting good jobs, are likely to join Sanders’ coalition as opposed to supporting the policies from Clinton to benefit her Wall Street cronies. While fear of terrorism is once again affecting the electorate, overall Sanders’ views should be preferable to the militaristic, neoconservative views of Hillary Clinton. Younger voters who tend to be more secular and socially liberal should prefer Sanders over Clinton’s socially conservative and more theocratic views. Younger voters who tend to be more libertarian on civil liberties issues should prefer Sanders over Clinton.

The important thing is that voters look at the actual candidates, and not vote simply based upon gender. It is a hopeful sign that young women are not making the same mistake which many older women are with their knee jerk support of Hillary Clinton.

SciFi Weekend: Arrow (Is Felicity Dead?); Martian Manhunter Joins Supergirl; You’re The Worst; Fargo; The Leftovers; More Renewals

Arrow Felicity Shot

Mid season finales have now become a big thing on network television as many shows take a hiatus for the holidays, while some cable shows have completed their season. There were several big WTF moments on television recently, often, but not entirely, part of a midseason or season finale.

Two of the superhero shows from Andrew Kreisberg  and his group featured big WTF moments. The biggest one would be the death of Felicity on Arrow if anyone really believed it was real. Last year we saw Oliver die and come back to life, with Thea and Sara Lance having also come back from the dead. While there is no longer a Lazarus Pit, it seems a safe bet that they would never kill off Felicity. They replayed a portion of the grave scene, to imply that it was Felicity’s, but we’ve also been led to believe that the scene takes place later this spring, not currently to coincide with Felicity getting shot.

While there could be misdirection, Emily Bett Rickards is also present in set photos (such as here) from episodes still being filmed.

This leaves the question of who is in the grave. While there are other possibilities, at present I like the fan theories that it could be Samantha or William Clayton, Oliver’s former girlfriend and their son. This would explain why all of Team Arrow, along with Felicity’s mother, weren’t at the grave site if it was Felicity’s. In a recent interview, producer Wendy Mericle did warn of “serious consequences” that “come to a head” because of the decisions Oliver made regarding them. This most directly seems to be regarding Oliver and Felicity’s relationship, but perhaps it also leads to putting Samantha or William in danger.

Supergirl Martian Manhunter

The big WTF moment on Supergirl was that Hank Henshaw didn’t turn out to be an evil alien as many fans suspected. As with Harrison Wells on The Flash, Hank Henshaw’s body was taken over by someone else, but in this case not be someone evil. Henshaw turned out to be J’onn J’onzz aka The Martian Manhunter. The show’s producers discussed this with The Hollywood Reporter:

“It’s the secret of Supergirl: Within the body of the series of Supergirl, there is a Martian Manhunter series rolling throughout it,” executive producer Andrew Kreisberg tells The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s the thing that makes us giggle the most.”

Back when the showrunners were on set to shoot the pilot, the idea to make DEO head Hank the Martian Manhunter was initially floated as a joke.

“[DC Comics CCO] Geoff Johns, [executive producer] Greg Berlanti and I were saying, ‘It’s so funny we cast David because he’s got those weird ears. Like alien ears,’ ” Kreisberg says. “I don’t remember which one of us said it, but it was like, ‘If we were ever going to make a Martian Manhunter show, David would have been the perfect Martian Manhunter.’ And Geoff said, ‘Well, why can’t he be?’ We already had it set up that Hank was keeping this bad secret, and then we started thinking about well, what if it was a good secret? You think he’s bad but then he turns out to be not only good, but the most good person in the DC universe.”

…Executive producer Ali Adler teases that John’s abilities will blow Kara’s out of the water. “He’s got such tremendous powers,” Adler says. “We really want to show off what he can do, and we’re definitely going to do that in upcoming episodes.”

“There’s a lot of fun to be had,” Harewood adds. “He’s a shape-shifter so he can be whoever he wants to be. So you’ll find me being other members of the cast at some various points of the story.”

You're The Worst Season 2 Finale

You’re the Worst picked up a renewal for the third season as the second season concluded, plus Stephen Falk received a deal to produce additional shows for FX and FXX. While the second season of You’re The Worst was not as good as the first, Stephen Falk deserves credit for taking the season in such a different direction for the second season. I suspect that it might have been the added depth he showed in the second season which led to his deal to produce additional shows.

The arc with Gretchen’s depression showed more depth in writing by Falk, as well as acting by Aya Cash, but it was the comedy, not potential for such drama, which made the show television’s best (even if under-rated) sitcom last year. Another consequence was that there was less interaction between the story lines of the various characters. On the plus side, this ultimately did lead to further development in the relationship between the two dysfunctional leads. Gretchen decided to consider medications for depression, which she never considered in the past, now that she was involved with someone else who was affected by her depression. (Her friendship with Lindsay doesn’t count.)  Jimmy almost ran off with the girl who owns the bar, but in the end did not. Plus the two of them managed to tell each other that they loved the other, even if it required them to be drunk at the time.

Fargo Flying Saucer

Noah Hawley will not only be doing more of Fargo, but has signed a deal to develop additional shows for FX. He had one of the big WTF moments on Fargo last week (“It’s just a flying saucer, hon”), and there is still an episode to go. A UFO was also seen briefly in the first episode of the season. I now wonder if it will play a role in the finale, or just be something without further explanation. It sounds like it will be the later from Hawley’s comments. Perhaps Fox is getting us ready for the return of The X-Files.

Fox has renewed Wayward Pines for a second season. I haven’t seen this one, but a recent plug for the show and news of its renewal might change that.

The Leftovers 2x08 – International Assassin

The Leftovers has been renewed for a third and final season on HBO. This sounds about right. The second season was much better than the first, having completed the events of the Tom Perrotta novel and now able to explore new territory, but I’m not sure there is enough to do in this world which cannot be wrapped up in one more season.

This is the perfect series for Damon Lindelof . He can write about how people respond to unexplainable situations, without being expected to ultimately give an explanation as on Lost. A lot happened in the season finale, but for me seeing the Guilt Remnant show up and seeing Mary wake up was nothing compared to the WTF moment in the eighth episode, International Assassin, when Kevin was in a  hotel from purgatory, if not hell. That episode alone made the season a success.

Blacklist has been much better this season with Elizabeth on the run with James Spader’s character. It has been renewed for a fourth season.

Melissa Benoist Homeland Supergirl

Showtime has renewed Homeland and The Affair. After its slip in quality over the years, I haven’t watched this season of Homeland yet, but might watch binge it Netflix style if time permits. There are many reasons to remember the first season fondly, but the recent start of Supergirl has led to additional attention for the show as viewers recall a topless Melissa Benoist being asked questions such as whether she enjoys anal sex and other women in the first season of Homeland. (Video here–not safe for work.)  Kara would turn as red as the star she was born under if asked those questions on Supergirl.

Person of Interest strangely is not appearing on CBS’s schedule yet. There is speculation that it is being held back until spring or summer, and hope that maybe it can be renewed beyond this year if it is more successful than Extant and Under the Dome, which have been canceled.

The Man In The High Castle, which I completed this week, ended the first season with a couple of WTF moments. One was foreshadowed by events in the book, despite some major differences between the book and the television series. As there are still likely to be many who have not finished the series yet, I’m holding off on discussing this streaming series, as well as Jessica Jones, a little longer. Both are highly recommended.