SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; SHIELD; The Flash; John Snow; Jessica Jones; Getting Hooked on Netflix; Black Mirror; Continuum

Doctor Who s09e02

The Witch’s Familiar, the concluding episode of last week’s episode of Doctor Who, The Magician’s Apprentice, works despite the weakness in its plot due to its dual match-ups. One was the Doctor and a supposedly dying Davro,s and the other pair was Clara and Missy.

Pairing the Doctor and Davros was an idea which Steven Moffat has had since watching Genesis of the Daleks according to an interview at blastar:

“When I was very young, I watched Genesis of the Daleks and began a long plan.”

“I was doing what I do in my spare time which is watch old episodes of Doctor Who – because I really know how to kick back and relax,” he explained. “Davros had already returned within the series…and it occurred to me, and I think this is just true, there isn’t a bad scene between the Doctor and Davros.”

“Whatever you think of the stories – and I think they’re all good – all the time, every time you have the Doctor confronting Davros, in the classic series and in the new series… every time they meet, it’s really quite electric. There’s something about those two characters meeting, so I wanted to have a go at it.”

“What surprised me, looking back at the old stories, was how little screen time they have together. In Genesis of the Daleks they have a couple of scenes, that’s all – brilliant scenes, beautifully written and played, beautifully done. But they’re very short – they’re not long at all. I’d imagined it in my memory as being most of the story, but it wasn’t at all.

“So my notion was to actually stick them in a room together and see what happens after a long while. So that’s, you know, a childhood ambition that hasn’t changed into my 50s.”

Doctor Who s09e02a

The pair spent a considerable part of the episode talking to each other and launching plots against each other. Reminiscent of the question posed by the Doctor last season, Davros even asked the Doctor, “Did I do right Doctor? Tell me, was I right? I need to know before the end. Am I a good man?”

The pairing of Clara and Missy was more amusing. This included Missy’s implied threat to eat Clara if there wasn’t anything else to hunt and Missy’s response when Clara suggested throwing a stone down into the sewers to see how deep they were. “Ah yeah, good idea.” And she pushed Clara in. Plus what is the deal with Missy’s reference to a daughter?

The resolution of the story was weak. Even if we accept that the Doctor can just turn on regeneration energy at will, what was his end-game? He was assisted in escaping by Missy, but at the time the Doctor thought that Missy was dead. His plan might have worked to have the decaying Dalek sewer slime attack the other Daleks, but how was the Doctor planning to escape?

It is also questionable why the Doctor revealed to Davros that Gallifrey still existed. Other questions also came up in the discussion with Davros, such as the idea that the Doctor might have been running from something when he left Gallifrey, and a possible Dalek/Timelord hybrid. Presumably some, if not all, of this will come up in future episodes.

Missy posed an additional threat to Clara when Clara was inside a Dalek. This was actually the third time she was, one way or another, inside a Dalek. We  saw Clara’s mind trapped inside a Dalek in Asylum of the Daleks in Jenna Coleman’s first appearance. Last season there was the journey by a team inside a Dalek in Into the Dalek.

This was an amusing sequence in which Clara tried to communicate but there were many words which the Dalek  translated differently from what she desired, being limited by what it knew. Then she said “mercy” which was not a concept the Dalek should have known. This led to the other somewhat weak aspect of the conclusion as the Doctor went back in time to show mercy to young Davros, therefore introducing the concept of mercy into the Dalek DNA.

The episode also eliminated the sonic screwdriver for now, with the Doctor moving on to wearable technology. There is still the question of the confession dial, which I bet will play a part later this season in typical Moffat style.

The two-part format did allow for many ideas to be inserted into the story, along with a cliff hanger. As plot holes have always been a part of Doctor Who, being present well before Moffat despite the frequent criticism of him for this, it does make sense to have less stories and include more in each one.

ABC has released the first four minutes of Agents of SHIELD, which is returning on Tuesday. Video above with Daisy and other SHIELD agents helping an Inhuman.

TV Guide has some information on Cisco’s new powers on The Flash.

TV Guide also has some set pictures which might provide spoilers on the fate of John Snow on Game of Thrones.

Fox will have a two part trailer for The X-Files on Monday night on Gotham and Minority Report. Minority Report did premiere last week but I’ve held off on watching until I hear more about how the show is. Starting to follow genre shows on Fox doesn’t always turn out very good. The season premier of Gotham left me with hope for improvements in the second season over the first.

Netflix has released the above teaser for Jessica Jones, providing a glimpse of her super powers.

Netflix has released some interesting information on how many episodes viewers had to watch of certain shows before becoming hooked on them. They found the episode at which seventy percent of those viewing would then go on to finish the season. Viewers were hooked with the second episode of Breaking Bad. Some other shows took longer.

Streaming has become a way to provide a future for television shows, in addition to provide access to old episodes of shows. Netflix has ordered twelve new episodes of Black Mirror.

Steven Spielberg has always been a master of fiction. Reportedly Hillary Clinton turned to Spielberg for acting coaches to help her appear more likable. This comes from the book Unlikable by Edward Klein. I’m not sure how much of this book is fact versus fiction.

Tonight we have the rare super blood moon total eclipse. National Geographic describes how to view it.

Continuum Power Hour

The third episode of Continuum, Power Hour, finally started to reveal much more of what is going on (and the reveals are even greater in the fourth episode–but no spoilers for episode four as this has not aired in the United States yet). Kiera and Garza teamed up to find out what the Time Marines are up to. In the process Curtis met a heroic death. After previously warning Alec that his superpower was in computers, not fighting, Curtis himself got drawn into the action.

Julian tried to destroy the Theseus manifesto. Leading a rebellion against the Corporate Congress in which there would be thousands of casualties, followed by failure, just did not seem like a good future for him. He could not escape his fate as, in sort of a time loop, Chen made sure a copy of the manifesto from the future came out, also leading Julian to a toddler Kagami. This leads back to the question of whether the future we know about will still come about, which directly impacts Kiera’s attempts to return home.

After two episodes which were largely setup, the story did progress in the third episode–already half way into the final season. The fourth episode does move the story forward considerably, making it possible to speculate as to the end game of the series. Here are a some teasers which will not spoil the episode, but those who want to go into the episode with zero information might want to look away. Alec responds to Emily being gone, but does not destroy the entire timeline this time. There is an unexpected conversation between characters. A puzzle from the first season is resolved. Keep wondering whether Kellogg should trust his future self.

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Pope Francis, President Obama, Multiple Politicians, & Celebrities Snub Clinton Foundation Due To Scandals

Clinton Foundation Scandals

The Clinton Foundation is being snubbed in response to the influence-peddling scandals. Politco reports:

The Clinton Foundation invited everyone from Pope Francis and Leonardo DiCaprio to Bill de Blasio and Janet Yellen to its showcase gathering starting Saturday in New York City, according to multiple sources familiar with the planning.

But those invitations were among the dozens turned down by all manner of celebrities, dignitaries and donors, according to the sources, who said the controversies swirling around the foundation and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign have made some bold-faced names and donors wary of the foundation.

The glitzy Clinton Global Initiative gathering in New York, which has the lofty title “The Future of Impact,” was supposed to have been a celebration of the accomplishments of the $2-billion Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation’s past work as it pivots towards a future with Chelsea Clinton at the helm.

Instead, it’s become emblematic of the foundation’s struggles to regain its luster, while scaling back some of its ambitions and restructuring amid heightened scrutiny of its internal workings, the diminished role of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the prospect that former president Bill Clinton also could be forced to step back.

“They’ve had a lot of rejections from people – both for membership renewals and speaking roles this year between the campaign, Hillary not being at CGI this year, bad press,” said one person who has worked on planning foundation events…

The documents, reviewed by POLITICO, also show that the foundation had hoped to land either Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen or French economist Thomas Piketty to deliver a presentation on income inequality. Both declined, as did Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Rock legend Elton John was invited to receive an award for his efforts to fight AIDS, but he’s not coming, and neither is New York City Mayor de Blasio. He had been invited as a guest rather than as a speaker and notably has refused to endorse Clinton, despite having managed her successful U.S. Senate campaign in 2000…

Likewise, a White House spokesman said President Barack Obama’s decision to skip CGI for the first time since taking office stemmed from his busy schedule ― not the fact that Vice President Joe Biden is actively weighing running against Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination.

British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were among the foreign heads of state who turned down invitations, according to sources, though they have not attended previous CGI meetings. Among those who are scheduled to appear are Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

To be sure, it’s not unusual for organizers of major conferences with dozens of speakers to be turned down by some invitees, but sources who have worked with CGI say the percentage of regrets seems higher this year. They attribute that to politically charged suggestions that foundation donors ― and particularly foreign donors ― sought or received favors from Hillary Clinton’s state department, as well as media scrutiny of the foundation’s finances and staff.

At least five major companies that sponsored the 2014 Clinton Global Initiative have backed out of sponsoring this year’s meeting.

Let’s hope that Democratic primary voters similarly snub the Clinton campaign. Otherwise there is considerable danger that Hillary Clinton will be similarly toxic among general election voters in 2016, greatly increasing the risk of having a Republican president. It just seems inconceivable that a major political party would consider nominating a candidate who has been exposed for such corruption while a cabinet official.

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Additional Non-Personal Email Found Among Among Clinton’s Deleted Email Threating To Further Weaken Her Candidacy

Clinton Email Cartoon Deleted

It has been another bad week for Hillary Clinton. On Tuesday the State Department contradicted Hillary Clinton’s claims about the Justice Department investigation, stating it was prompted by Clinton’s exclusive use of a private email system. The week ended with two separate reports of business related email being among the email which Clinton deleted, claiming it to be personal.

AP reports:

The Obama administration has discovered a chain of emails that Hillary Rodham Clinton failed to turn over when she provided what she said was the full record of work-related correspondence as secretary of state, officials told The Associated Press Friday, adding to the growing questions related to the Democratic presidential front-runner’s unusual usage of a private email account and server while in government.

The messages were exchanged with retired Gen. David Petraeus when he headed the military’s U.S. Central Command, responsible for running the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They began before Clinton entered office and continued into her first days at the State Department. They largely pertained to personnel matters and don’t appear to deal with highly classified material, officials said, but their existence challenges Clinton’s claim that she has handed over the entirety of her work emails from the account.

The Hill reported on a second case of business related email which was not turned over, along with the above AP report noting, “they fly in the face of Clinton’s previous claim that she had turned over all of her work-related emails.”

Obama administration officials made new revelations about Hillary Clinton’s emails on Friday, as the ongoing controversy continues to spin against the Democratic presidential front-runner.

In one announcement, a senior State Department official said that the department was handing over “a small number” of new emails related to the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, to a House committee investigating the incident.

Separately, the Associated Press reported that the administration had discovered a new chain of emails that Clinton had declined to turn over, despite her claims to have provided the government with all work-related messages.

The news builds on the growing scrutiny on Clinton, which has threatened to derail her White House campaign.

The AP report in particular is likely to add to mounting allegations that Clinton had repeatedly tried to deceive the public by using a personal email address routed through a private server…

The emails have been implicated in nearly three-dozen ongoing public-records lawsuits against the State Department, and the ongoing fallout threatens to stretch at least into 2016.

The Guardian had more on the email exchange with Petraeus, showing further false from Clinton regarding the email:

The Petraeus emails, however, represent a more serious breach of protocol. The State Department’s record of Clinton emails begins on 18 March 2009 – almost two months after she entered office. Before then, Clinton has claimed, she used an old AT&T Blackberry email account, the contents of which she no longer can access.

The Petraeus emails, first discovered by the Defense Department and then passed to the State Department’s inspector general, challenge that claim. They start on 10 January 2009, with Clinton using the older email account. But by 28 January – a week after her swearing in – she switched to using the private email address on a homebrew server that she would rely on for the rest of her tenure. There are fewer than 10 emails back and forth in total, officials said, and the chain ends on 1 February.

They also commented on the political ramifications:

The revelations could not come at a worse time for Clinton, who has been dogged for months by questions about her email practices.

Her poll numbers have also been slipping in recent weeks. The latest poll of likely Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire show the former secretary of state 16 points behind the frontrunner, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders.

Her favorability rating has dropped six points since last March, and a Fox News national poll this week found 58% of responders believed she had lied about how her emails were handled while secretary of state.

I don’t know how much we can trust information from a Fox poll, but other polls have similarly shown a growing distrust of Hillary Clinton.

This is not the first example which has been uncovered of email related to Libya and terrorism which was missing from the email turned over by Hillary Clinton. Missing and altered email was uncovered when compared with Sidney Blumenthal’s email conversations with Clinton.

It is unfortunate that the investigation of deleted email is centered around Benghazi. There is unlikely anything further to find about Benghazi, with no evidence having been found to support the Republican conspiracy theories. It would be more interesting to see if there is any email regarding parties in cases where Clinton was making a decision happened to make large contributions to the Foundation, or happened to pay extraordinarily high speaking fees to Bill at the time. While Congressional Republicans are currently concentrating on Benghazi, information on other topics might come out in further Congressional investigation or in the multiple Freedom of Information Act suits in progress.

Do Democrats really want to nominate a candidate whose ethical misconduct will likely be the subject of headlines well into 2016?

Update September 27, 2015:

The email was also a major topic of discussion on Meet the Press today. Hillary Clinton tried to write this off as “another conspiracy theory” against her. If so, the “conspiracy” includes the Obama Justice Department, the State Department, most of the mainstream media which is reporting on this,  multiple news organizations, such as AP, which have filed Freedom of Information Act law suits regarding the email, and liberal groups concerned with government transparency and ethics which have criticized Clinton for her actions. In reality, this is a scandal which originates directly from Clinton’s own actions.

Chuck Todd also played a montage of Clinton’s shifting positions on various issues  on Meet the Press and asked if she had shifted her positions out of political expediency. Previously, after Clinton made a statement critical of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Jake Tapper of CNN posted a list of 45 times Secretary Clinton pushed the trade bill she now opposes, noting that “Clinton was one of the leading drivers of the TPP when Secretary of State.”

Additional news reports on the email since the original post  are at CNN and Reuters.

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Sanders Leads Clinton By 16 Points In New Hampshire & Narrows Gap to 10 Points Nationally

Sanders Clinton

We could be seeing the biggest political upset in politics since Hillary Clinton was upset eight years ago. Bernie Sanders now has a sixteen point lead over Hillary Clinton in the latest CNN/WMUR poll in New Hampshire:

Hillary Clinton trails Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the race for the Democratic nomination for president in New Hampshire, even if Vice President Joe Biden decides not to make a run for the White House, according to a new CNN/WMUR poll.

Sanders has the backing of nearly half of those who say they plan to vote in the first-in-the-nation Democratic primary next year — 46% support him — while just 30% say they back Clinton. Another 14% say they would support Biden, 2% former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, 1% former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, and less than half of 1% back former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee or Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig.

Clinton trails Sanders across most demographic groups, with broad gender and ideology divides bolstering Sanders’ run. He holds 56% of male Democratic voters compared with just 20% who back her, while the two are much closer among women, 39% back Sanders, 37% Clinton. Likewise, Sanders holds a 56% to 30% lead among liberals, versus a 37% to 31% race among moderates.

Sanders also continues to gain on Clinton in some of the national polls. The Ispos/Reuters Poll shows Sanders down by only ten points:

Hillary Clinton continues to lead among Democrats nationwide, with 40% of Dems. Sanders (30%) has gained ground on the front runner.

National polls are virtually meaningless at this point, but it is worth pointing out how close Sanders is in this poll considering how much noise Clinton supporters make when a poll shows any increase in her support nationally, no matter how briefly this lasts or what the other polls are showing.  Sanders has plenty of opportunity to close the gap nationally should he beat Clinton in New Hampshire and/or Iowa. The debates will also provide a major opportunity for Sanders, even with the limited debate schedule.

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State Department Disputes Clinton Claims On Email Investigation

Clinton Email

The State Department has undermined Hillary Clinton’s account of the investigation into her email, showing major discrepancies from Clinton’s recent statements. The Washington Post reports:

Throughout the controversy over her use of a private e-mail system while she was secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton has described her decision last year to turn over thousands of work-related e-mails as a response to a routine-sounding records request.

“When we were asked to help the State Department make sure they had everything from other secretaries of state, not just me, I’m the one who said, ‘Okay, great, I will go through them again,’ ” Clinton said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “And we provided all of them.”

But State Department officials provided new information Tuesday that undercuts Clinton’s characterization. They said the request was not simply about general rec­ord-keeping but was prompted entirely by the discovery that Clinton had exclusively used a private e-mail system. They also said they first contacted her in the summer of 2014, at least three months before the agency asked Clinton and three of her predecessors to provide their e-mails.

Most likely Clinton-apologists, who have been spreading false claims that she was “cleared” by the State Department, will continue to ignore such information which contradicts Clinton’s statements. Hillary Clinton continues to make the false claim that what she did was allowed despite being contradicted by multiple fact-checking articles and government officials.

In other developments, the FBI has reportedly recovered email which was deleted from Clinton’s server. It is unlikely the public will obtain any specific information in the near future. It has already been established that email deleted by Clinton included email related to Libya and terrorism, as opposed to being limited to personal email.

This all comes as Clinton continues to fall in the polls. She received yet another setback this week when top unions have decided to hold off on making an endorsement in the nomination battle.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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” 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.

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