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Monday, May 23, 2016

Joan Walsh: What will be fatal to [Bernie] Sanders's future as a mass-movement leader -- as opposed to the messiah of an angry, heavily white and male cult -- is his continued insistence that his enemy now is not so much the corporate overlords, or income inequality, or the big banks, but a corrupt Democratic Party, epitomized by Wall Street flunkie Hillary Clinton, that has "rigged" the election to thwart him -- as he raged in a tone-deaf speech Tuesday night, as cable news was showing the texted death threats to Roberta Lange in the background (which Sanders did not even mention). This is starting to get delusional, and dangerous to the American movement for social justice. read more


A former marathon runner has spent 24 hours on a giant hamster wheel to raise money for charity.

Dean Ovel, 40, from Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, completed the challenge in Southend High Street from midday on Saturday to midday on Sunday.

Mr Ovel designed and built the 8ft (2.4m) tall wheel himself, and only escaped it for "short comfort breaks" during the challenge.

His efforts are part of a £100,000 dementia appeal at Southend Hospital.

Mr Ovel fell to his knees as he ran through the finish time, saying he was "glad it is over". read more


Sunday, May 22, 2016

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump stumbled to clarify his stance on guns in classrooms, contradicting his position on the issue in one breath.

"I don't want to have guns in classrooms. Although, in some cases, teachers should have guns in classrooms," Trump said Sunday on "Fox & Friends."

The real estate mogul doubled down on his contradictory stance as the phone interview continued. "I'm not advocating guns in classrooms," he reiterated. "In some cases -- and a lot of people have made this case -- teachers should be able to have guns, trained teachers should be able to have guns in classrooms."

Trump's comments came in response to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, who accused him of pandering to the gun lobby after he spoke at the National Rifle Association's annual meeting on Friday and pledged to abolish gun-free zones. read more


Kevin Mattson, Democracy Journal: For Donald Trump, narcissism takes precedence over fascism. Sinclair Lewis's It Can't Happen Here is set during the time it was written, the 1930s, and traces the rise of an authoritarian leader named Buzz Windrip (love that name). The book's hero, Doremus Jessup, is a newspaperman who ponders how "there could be a dictator seemingly so different from the fervent Hitlers and gesticulating Fascists" arising at the time. This American dictator, Jessup imagined, would possess "something of earthy American sense of humor of a Mark Twain" and could "be ever so funny about solemn jaw-drooping opponents." I think that starts to get the Donald right better than simplistic comparisons to European figures like Mussolini, Hitler, or Franco ... It's Trump's narcissism that makes him a few nachos short of a fascist taco platter. read more


Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor has been killed in a US strike in Pakistan, according to multiple sources, a year after he was appointed leader of the group.

US officials said the strike happened at about 1000 GMT, which would have put it late on Friday night in the target area. Several drones targeted the men as they travelled in a vehicle in a remote part of Pakistan near the border with Afghanistan, southwest of the town of Ahmad Wal, one US official said. The Pentagon confirmed the US army had tried to kill Mansoor, but gave no information about his condition. "We are still assessing the results of the strike and will provide more information as it becomes available," spokesman Peter Cook said read more


Comments

Summing up, the author writes:

When he derides most Democratic primary voters as everything wrong with a party of "limited participation and limited energy," when he looks for ways to nullify Clinton's popular vote and pledged delegate majority, when he touts his support among working-class whites and dismisses (predominantly black) Southern Democrats and their votes, Sanders is attacking the coalition that elected Barack Obama -- the coalition that arguably made his progressive movement possible -- whether he realizes it or not.

This coalition is predominantly nonwhite, centered in black and Latino communities, and it's the reason Clinton stands as the likely nominee. These voters have enabled liberals to, for the first time, craft a national coalition that doesn't have to shy from questions of racial justice and gender equality, or -- like the Democratic Party of Bill Clinton -- acquiesce in the face of white backlash, subsuming nonwhite concerns to the anxieties of white voters. And critically, these voters are among those Americans with the most to lose if Sanders decides that his shot at the nomination -- or at changing debate and primary rules -- is more important than keeping Donald Trump from the White House....

And all of this is counterproductive to his stated goal of pulling the Democratic Party to the left. If Sanders is going to have any influence -- if the Sanders coalition is indeed the Democratic coalition of the future -- then his supporters need to see the party as a viable vehicle for their interests, a place where they can win victories and move the needle in their direction, which isn't possible if they view the entire political system as irreversibly flawed.

Sanders should fight until the last vote, and he should use his influence to put his stamp on what Democrats do in the fall. But this scorched-earth campaign is foolish. It helps neither him nor his message.

From Bouie:

There is a case that all of this is proper, that if Sanders wants to change the Democratic Party -- and bring independent voters into the tent -- he has to attack the nominating process and the institutional Democratic Party. It's a bad case. To start, the risk of a destructive drive to the convention -- a divided party against Donald Trump -- doesn't remotely justify the gains of a more open nominating process.

Even if it did, it's worth looking at the grievances on display. Sanders believes he was harmed by the debate schedule. But that's hard to gauge....Sanders' most expansive argument is against "closed primaries," which have entered his stump speech as a fundamentally unfair part of the process. But closed primaries weren't created in response to Sanders -- they are a long-standing feature. Critically, they are far from the least democratic part of the process. That goes to caucuses, which by their design preclude the vast majority of a given electorate from participating. If closed primaries are undemocratic for keeping out registered independents, then caucuses are undemocratic for keeping out everyone. Yet Sanders hasn't railed against them. And why would he? They've delivered his largest victory margins and have fueled his campaign.

All of this might be different if Sanders held any democratic legitimacy -- a majority of the popular vote or a pledged delegate lead. But he has neither....If he were, somehow, to persuade superdelegates -- i.e., elected officials and longtime party activists -- to abandon Clinton, he would have negated those voters and their choice, after six months of arguing that the party must respect his supporters. A cynical observer might say that Sanders isn't angry with the lack of democracy as much as he's angry at losing. In any case, it's more than a bad look for his effort -- it's ugly.

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