Last night’s debate: discussion and poll

February 26, 2020 • 9:00 am

I haven’t seen the news on television, and of course missed last night’s debate in Charleston as I was asleep in Paris. But I gather from today’s New York Times that it was somewhat of a messy pile-on, with the targets being Bernie Sanders (of course) and Michael Bloomberg (who’s already effectively gone).

Some NYT summary:

 The Democratic presidential candidates delivered a barrage of criticism against their party’s emerging front-runner, Senator Bernie Sanders, at a debate on Tuesday night, casting him as a divisive figure with unrealistic ideas, even as they continued to batter Michael R. Bloomberg for his extreme wealth, his record on policing and his alleged behavior toward women.

Mr. Sanders, in his first debate since a smashing victory in the Nevada caucuses last weekend, cut a combative but perhaps not a commanding figure, firmly defending his left-wing agenda on subjects like health care and foreign policy against attacks from all sides. The forum plunged repeatedly into an unsightly spectacle of flailing hands and raised voices, and even outright chaos, with candidates talking over one another and the moderators struggling and failing at times to direct an orderly argument.

But Mr. Sanders said little that seemed intended to ease the concerns of Democrats who do not share his views or who worry that such stances could be politically damaging to the party. And the debate underscored vulnerabilities that are likely to shadow him for as long as the race lasts, and perhaps into a general election against President Trump.

. . . But it was not clear by the end of the debate that any one opponent stood apart from the pack as the most successful rival to Mr. Sanders, and time is running short for anyone to do so. If Mr. Biden is counting on a surge of support from black voters in South Carolina this weekend to propel him back into contention nationally, the rest of the contenders have even less certain paths forward.

The pile-on atop Sanders is of course understandable, even as we would like the Democrats to unite; but that is a futile hope when each candidate seeks to separate themselves from the pack.

With Bernie as front-runner, the best way to do that is to attack him for everything, and so we get a taste of what the GOP has in store should Sanders wind up the Democratic nominee. The other Dems apparently went after The Bern for his past praise of Cuba and, in the case of Biden, for Sanders’s past opposition to the Brady Bill’s 5-day waiting period for gun purchases, though Sanders said he’s modified those views. (Don’t worry, the G.O.P. will find a way to go after Sanders for whatever views he’s expressed on gun control).

Can you imagine Democrats attacking other Democrats for stuff like that? This is exactly what the G.O.P. wants them to do, and will do in spades themselves. There’s no doubt that Bernie will be painted not just as a socialist, but as a Communist bent on destroying American capitalism.

Even Elizabeth Warren, who professed again to share Sanders’s views, said she would make a better President, though I couldn’t find out how from the news report—apart from her self-praise for attacking Wall Street. Warren, like the others, is desperate, but is as yet unwilling to jettison some of her more far-left views. She was once my favorite candidate but I find her hectoring desperation distressing.

The NYT also fact-checked some of the candidate’s assertions. Nobody came off unscathed, including Sanders for saying that all studies show that his “Medicare for All” plan—which I support only as a  public option among other health plans—will save money. From the NYT:


“What every study out there, conservative or progressive says: ‘Medicare for all’ will save money.”

False. There have been several analyses of Mr. Sanders’s Medicare for all health care proposal, which would provide every American with generous government-funded health insurance benefits. Those studies have shown a range of potential costs, including several that estimate that the plan would cost substantially more than what the country would otherwise spend on health care.

The NYT published a variety of analyses last October, and, as the paper said yesterday, the results varied, with many studies showing that “Medicare for All” would increase the government’s share of healthcare costs, which of course would have to be made up for in tax increases. It’s still not clear how The Bern will pay for his plan.

But I digress. Since I didn’t hear the debate, and still don’t have a favorite Democratic candidate (but will vote for whoever the Dems nominate), the rest of you are welcome to discuss the debate, recognizing that it’s still early and that Super Tuesday hasn’t yet arrived.

But do answer two questions for me (people don’t seem to like these polls much, though I find them interesting as a gauge of reader sentiment).

Poll 1:

Poll 2:

And of course leave your comments below.

201 thoughts on “Last night’s debate: discussion and poll

  1. The polls showing Bernie defeating Trump in a general election (by a wide margin in fact) are often including unlikely voters. Trump will crush Bernie in a general election, I believe. Trump will call him a communist 10,000 times in the debates and it will stick.

    If Trump is reelected, we’re looking at a 7-2 conservative majority on the supreme court, most likely. That’s not good for the survival of abortion rights, among other issues.

    If only Michelle Obama would jump in and save us!

  2. Sanders was not my choice, but I think he may be the best choice to beat Trump and win the Senate. Sanders is the only candidate to excite young voters who normally don’t come out to vote, Turnout, as always, is the key to a big Democrat win.

      1. Because of anti-establishment populism Trump won in 2016. I think Sanders might do the same. None of the other candidates excite young voters. We can only take the Senate with a large turnout. Without the Senate, no judges and no legislation and it may be better to have Trump win, so Democrats don’t get blamed. Four more years of Trump disaster could make for a big win in 2024. With the House and Senate the size of the SCOTUS could be increased, which already needs to be done since it’s a Republican tool. I still think Sanders may be the best chance for a useful victory.

        1. The size of the SCOTUS will not increase.

          If FDR couldn’t do it, no one in 2025-2029 will be able to either.

          Although I loathe Moscow Mitch, if we get a Dem in the WH, then I think he will be forced to give fair hearing to judicial nominees, though he will slow-walk them as best he can. As he did in 2009-2017.

          I would expect RBG (and maybe Breyer) to retire sometime 2021-2025 if a Dem gets the WH in 2020.

          We must lance the boil, and drain the poison from the system: Get rid of the Orange Abomination.

          1. I hope that you are right, but hostility has reached such a level that I think Republicans will repeat what they did to federal judiciary appointments with SCOTUS. The court is a tool of the wealthy and big business and can be packed if the House, Senate and Presidency are won.

  3. I think Bernie could’ve beaten Trump in 2016, but his moment has passed. I’m not optimistic about any of the candidates can beat Trump. Maybe Bloomberg if he can climb the steep campaign learning curve.

    1. I think he has a better chance of winning in 2020 than in 2016. Trump is no longer an unknown quantity. If he manages to get back in after the last three years, well, good luck, you’re gonna need it.

  4. It’s like this.
    The moderate centrist voter will flatly reject the socialist / communist mantra that Bernie represents.
    It is really just that simple.
    Add to that his hardcore followers are in fact ‘anti-capitalists’ and pardon the pun, ‘Bern it all down’ types.
    As one who has defended merely the idea of the free market of goods and services AND ideas, I have been called a nazi and alt-right among a host of other derogatory terms from the far left. The more the left eats its own, the greater their loss come November.
    I cannot support these kind of people and will not vote for Bernie as a result.I am not alone in this thinking either.
    Not to mention the squad’s odd rhetoric and their endorsement of Bernie which is a complete turn off to this moderate Dem.

    1. You will not vote for Bernie and if Bernie doesn’t get the nomination, his supporters will not vote for the the nominee. Hence, the Democratic Party may self-destruct. Enjoy four more years of Trump or perhaps even longer as he will continue to shred the Constitution. Also, have lots of fun watching Bill Barr attempt to foist a theocracy on the nation.

      1. I believe that you are correct Historian.
        The fact that the Democrats remain unable to stand together and unite the majority of people is going to be their downfall.
        It is easy to see this problem if one can remain objective about it.
        Not to mention that Bernie is really too old for such a stress filled job. He would be almost 80 by the time he would take oath of office.

          1. Oh stop that garbage.
            The ‘everyone is a nazi’ meme is just stupid and is completely wrong.
            It is also the very reason why the meme of the left ‘eating its own’ persists. It is splintering itself and will fail because of this smearing of good non racist people.
            A ‘white supremacist’ nation would not have elected Obama twice.

            1. Then we are a nation that has an awful lot of white supremacists. How many people still think Obama is Muslim? Stephen Miller is running policy on immigration. People are enthusiastically supporting building a ridiculous wall. Proud Boys. Jews will not replace us! All MAGA supporters.

              1. Oh stop.
                I mean here we go with the ‘if you’re not with Bernie you mist be a ‘white supremacist’ nazi thing.
                It just fails.

              2. I don’t understand what you are saying. I’m not a Bernie supporter. I intend to vote for someone else in the primary. If Bernie is the Dem nominee in November, however, I will vote for him.

        1. Please elaborate:

          What are we, exactly, to your mind?

          To my mind, we are not:
          About lying continuously
          Disdainful of the Constitution
          In possession of the mentality of a 4th grader
          In possession of the emotional development of a 12-year-old
          Entirely self-centered
          Entirely mercantile
          Without compassion for others
          Hateful towards other nations
          Malignantly, salaciously, obscenely narcissist

          Certainly we are imperfect; but we also certainly aim much higher than Trumpistan.

          1. Who we are? A goodly number are exactly everything you said you are not. Maybe you aren’t. Maybe I’m not. But 63 million people voted for this. Huge swaths of the country are for all this. And you give the average American way too much credit.

            We are not hateful towards other nations? Ask some of the 63m voters how they feel about Mexico. Not racist? Many of my relatives live in western Pennsylvania. I’d love to introduce you to some of them. They aren’t alone. Not entirely self-centered? Let’s add a $5 tax on every person to cover climate abatement. Let’s see how that goes.

            Go for a drive and let me know of all the courteous treatment you get. Go to a sporting event and see how the fans treat the refs or umpires. Yep, a bunch of self-centered assholes is pretty much exactly who we are.

            1. Well, certainly, as a fine young woman in Australia once told me, “Thayze dickheads everywhere!”

              And certainly, much (not all; maybe not even 50%) of Trump’s core support are as you described. That’s the core.

              I, too, have many relatives who voted for Trump for the reasons alluded to. And I know red America very well. (My father was a founding member of the Minnesota Conservative Union.)

              However, I surmise that a big chunk of those 63M who voted for Trump in 2016 are (hell, he only won by 77,000 votes in WI, MI, and PA):

              1) One-issue voters (guns, abortion) who held their noses and voted Trump. (And they got Gorsuch and Kavanaugh for their trouble; I’m sure they are pleased.)

              2) Traditional Republicans who couldn’t pull the D lever; but really stand for probity, dignity, fiscal responsibility, moral rectitude, integrity, self-sacrifice for the nation. They, too, held their noses and voted for Trump.

              3) Independents and fence-sitters who thought, what the hell, the regular guys aren’t doing so well by me, let’s give him a try.

              4) Voters who simply hated Hilary Clinton.

              5) Voters who did not want a woman for POTUS.

              I think great numbers of these will shun Trump for his appalling behavior, demeanor, amorality, and chaos. If they are presented with a D whose name they can check, they will. (Some will, even if it’s Bernie and they don’t like him.)

              Bernie or Warren would capture the fewest of these voters.

              Those in (1) are highly unlikely to switch. They are getting what they want. (The whole “Moral Majority” shit is all out the window now. They can never go back to “morals” and any retain integrity. But, then again, it doesn’t seem like integrity matters in the GOP anymore.)

              From my reading and listening to NPR, many in (2) will vote Dem this time.

              I would guess almost none in (3) will go with Trump this time.

              1. Those are reasons I can see a possible landslide for the Dem no matter who. My intuition says there has to be a backlash among those who disapproved of tRump, but gave him the nod anyway. My intuition, however, is not all that reliable.

            2. I drive in rural USA (MN, WI, IA, OR, WA) all the time. I am treated very well. Of course, “Thayze dickheads everywhere.” No avoiding that.

              (I find the people of the UK and Australia the friendliest in the world; but I still run into dickheads in those places.)

              Sports behavior is pretty much the same around the world. Especially for young (and not-so-young) males, (in my opinion) it substitutes for gladiatorial combat, which substituted for actual warfare and inter-tribal combat. Dickhead behavior is what I would expect as the norm.

              Of course this varies pretty wildly, based on the sport. Team sports that involve a ball/puck and scoring points seem to be the worst; and I never pay any attention to them. These sports are too directly an analog to tribal conflict.

      1. That is unlikely at this point, but who knows come election day.
        Considering Bernie’s age, his choice for VP is critical for me if I am to vote for him.
        BTW, when are we going to know the VP choices? I mean, we’re only about 8 months out and that has yet to be sorted.

    2. So because some far left people were rude to you you’ll help Trump get another term as POTUS?

      How much of his agenda do you think Bernie will be able to get implemented, just the way he wants it? Not much, that’s for sure. In any case, of the changes Bernie would like to make which are so bad that you think allowing the degradation of our institutions under the Trump administration to continue is a better option?

      1. The point is that the a lot of Bernie supporters are far left extremists and act like that.
        No sane person wants those kinds of ideas to be considered OK.
        I am not a nazi and all the rest of that and am appalled that I should have to accept that kind of language from the people that want me to support them.
        I know. I have interacted with some of them on the most sane issues like freedom of speech and the free market. They turn rabid quickly and that is something I cannot support.

        1. Has anyone here called you a Nazi?
          Refusing to vote against Trump because of upset feelings seems, well,… immature?

          I cannot only because I’m not a USian, as most perhaps know.

        2. IMO, anyone who seriously looks at Bernie Sanders, flawed as he is, and says ‘I don’t like him, so I’m going with the guy who mocks the disabled, calls for his supporters to kill his opponent, threatens witnesses in his own impeachment, openly tries to rig his own election, says he has the police and the army are on his side, talks lovingly about the most violent, fascistic butchers in the world and wants to turn America(IS turning America) into an authoritarian state’…well, I just don’t find it credible that they were ever going to vote Democrat in the first place.

          1. Many of those people voted Obama, Obama, Trump in the last three elections. In Pennsylvania, they do a lot of fracking and for some people, it is their livelihood and one of the best jobs they’ve ever had. Heard a discussion with the union that represents these people who said that with Sanders promising to ban fracking on day one of his presidentcy via EO, none of his union members will vote for him. They would vote for Biden. This sector employs 106,000 workers. Trump won PA by 44k votes.

            1. I don’t set much store in conversations people heard. Sanders is famously strong with unionised workers. That’s one of the things Trump fears the most about him.

              And none of that speaks to my original point. If you look at Sanders and turn your nose up, but then go and vote for the outright lunatic who gave 80% of a trillion dollar tax break to the wealthiest 1%, was best friends with Epstein and spends half his time leching over his own daughter then it’s vanishingly unlikely that you were going to vote Democrat in the first place.

              I think it’s more likely that Sanders steals Republican voters than Trump steals Democrat voters frankly. And I think Trump knows it.

              1. Saul: “I don’t set much store in conversations people heard. Sanders is famously strong with unionised workers.” The conversation was an interview with union leaders who are supposed to have the pulse of their membership. I wasn’t in a coffee shop eavesdropping. And would you vote for a candidate that said that on January 20, 2021 he was going to outlaw your job? Because that is what Bernie has said he is going to do to the 106,000 people in this industry.

              2. Nevada’s culinary union leadership opposed Sanders in the caucuses. The membership supported Sanders by a large margin. It seems that union leadership doesn’t always have a pulse on the membership.

              3. You overheard a conversation. That’s all it was. Meanwhile, unions were crucial in Sanders’s win in Nevada:


                “According to NBC’s entry polling, 25 percent of the Nevada electorate was made up of union members and that group went decisively for Sanders. The Vermont senator took 34 percent of the union vote to 19 percent for Vice President Joe Biden, 15 percent for Pete Buttigieg, and 11 percent for Sen. Elizabeth Warren.”

                P.S. I’d be interested in hearing when exactly Sanders promised to make 106,000 people redundant by January of next year. That strikes me as…dubious, to say the least. In fact, it sounds like the kind of specious semi-truth that gets Chinese-whispered around the right-wing web and then shambles briefly into the light before collapsing in a heap at the first inspection.

        3. No sane person wants children put in cages or allied governments subject to extortion or the environment destroyed or convicted criminals pardoned for donating to a president’s re-election campaign or a judiciary packed with lackeys to the president.

          And yet here we are.

    3. But Bernie isn’t his most effusive supporters, or a member of “the squad”, he’s an old-school left wing guy. He doesn’t spend his time banging on identity politics, he talks about jobs, health care, college costs, etc. If you don’t like being labeled a nazi, why carelessly smear Bernie as a communist? Where has he proposed seizing the means of production or a planned economy?

      And if you find his supporters obnoxious, have you *seen* the Trumpists? I don’t like the woke crowd either, but I mean… between the people overly concerned with not seeming racist, and the people actively promoting unlimited corruption, treason, and complete disregard for the truth in a naked pursuit of power and spite, I know who I’ll pick.

      Not saying Bernie has to be your number one pick, and the nomination is hardly fixed at this point, but if he wins not voting against Trump is just unconscionable in my opinion.

      1. I hope if Sanders wins that his supporters will have enough self-awareness to notice that moderates and centrists will have done exactly what so many Sanders supporters didn’t do in 2016: ie. held their noses and voted for the least-unappealing choice.

    4. I cannot support these kind of people and will not vote for Bernie as a result.

      It astounds me that any Democrat (I realise I’m making an assumption here) would say something like that. How could Bernie and the kind of people that support him possibly be worse than Trump and the kind of people that support him.

      Trump puts children in cages FFS. That’s a pretty low bar.

  5. Here in Texas the GOP has already started a vicious campaign of red baiting and commie scaring with pictures of Bernie next to Stalin and Lenin. Most of his support seems to be coming from young people who are not so influenced by these attacks but for the rest of us it looks like 4 more years of Trump if Bernie gets the nomination.

  6. The fact is that only 15% of Democrats self identify as very liberal, 32% as liberal, 38% as moderate and 14% as conservative. Among all voters, 72% identify as either moderate or conservative. Sanders is leading a motley group of candidates, most of whom are at least 70. I think it’s a mistake to think that he can defeat Trump. Hillary led every poll. Trump’s team will inundate us with messages that Sanders hates America, capitalism, etc. Sanders has changed his rhetoric as a presidential candidate and would not be able to achieve his personal vision anyway, but I think a lot of people will stay home rather than vote for Trump or Sanders. If you’ve ever watched a Trump rally, you’ve seen that his base of support is surprisingly strong. I wish Warren hadn’t tried to play games. I wish Yang had resonated more this time around. I wish Klobuchar was more compelling.

  7. Bernie will bring in more young voters than usual, but will that be enough, given that the youth vote has always been disappointing?
    More here:

    In 2018 the Democrats did well by (truthfully) painting the Republicans as potential destroyers of health care—my worry is that Trump in 2020 will frame Sanders that way.

    Assuming Bernie will be the nominee, I think it would help if he picked a VP that’s more to the center, like Klobuchar, and reassuring to all those Democrats and Independents who aren’t necessarily feelin’ the Bern.

      1. Though Kamala Harris talks a good game, I don’t consider her a principled person by a long shot, but rather a crass opportunist who’s got a wet finger to the wind.

      2. I think an African American woman would be a great VP pick for any of the candidates. I would put my money on Stacey Abrams over Harris though. She’s savvy, experienced, fiercely dedicated to justice and has no baggage (so far as I’ve heard). Currently, she’s working hard on her “Fair Fight” initiative, attacking the GOP’s voter suppression efforts. Iirc, she said she wasn’t opposed to a VP nod, I hope that still stands.

        1. “[A]n African American woman would be a great VP pick for any of the candidates.”

          However, a slick opportunist of any race or sex would be a decidedly bad choice for a VP, and Harris is extremely squirrelly when it comes to actually embodying the ethics she professes to believe in. The more I learn about her track record as SF District Attorney, the more disillusioned and disgusted I become.

          I also agree that Stacy Abrams would be ideal. From what I know about her, I think she’s a principled person and I hope that’s borne out as things transpire.

          But my enthusiasm for Stacy Abrams would depend on whom she’s paired with. Hate to say it but if Biden won the nomination and he chose her as his running mate and she accepted, I wouldn’t be at all keen on that — because of Bide, though I’d vote. I know others are far more sanguine about Biden as the Democratic nominee, I ain’t.

          1. All Dems need to turn out on 3-Nov-2020 (or earlier) and Vote Blue No Matter Who.

            I am not sanguine about any of the candidates. They all have significant negatives. (But the same was correctly said of Obama in ’08.)

        2. Bernie will have a lot to explain to his base if he picks either. Kamala’s baggage as a prosecutor is well known. Abrams has recently not only accepted $5m from Bloomberg (which by itself may be defensible because the money goes to a voter registration initiative of hers iirc, not to her own campaign) but also defended Bloomberg’s political spending with a ridiculous argument, something along the line of “everyone uses their advantage, some use charisma, some use their dogs, so why can’t he use his money” (not a literal quote but close, I kid you not). If the VP is to be a black woman (good direction, I agree) it would be Nina Turner.

            1. Nothing. But Bernie is not a usual candidate. He doesn’t need balancing. Or if you prefer, he’s not balanceable.

              What kind of people will vote for Bernie with a Kamala-like VP but wouldn’t otherwise?

              Not Dem moderates who’ll “vote blue no matter who” (if they mean it, that is, which remains to be seen).

              Not working-class Trump voters who may be turning blue. Imagine they do it for Kamala of all people…

              Not never-Trump Republicans. They are probably never-Bernie as well.

              Not low-info “undecided”s for whom the VP might as well be a lamppost.

              I can’t imagine a non-negligible demographic to whom a Kamala or Abrams is supposed to have vote-changing appeal.

              On the other hand I can easily imagine a Kamala-like VP sinking Bernie outright. He base will ask: is he selling out? Is he really going to fight for the people he says he will? Are his knees as easily bendable as Obama’s? And that will be the end of his candidacy.

              1. What you are proposing is Bernie and Bernie lite. Not exactly a formula to broaden appeal.

                What Abrams, for example, might bring to the ticket is not only a black female presence, but a woman who barely lost the GA governorship despite Republican shenanigans, and who has been a tireless organizer of grass roots get out the vote campaigns. This in a state where we might flip a reliably R state blue in the EC, perhaps grab a senate seat, and keep our newly elected congresspersons. Plus she has a compelling personal story and good legislative experience.

                What, other than a Bernie lookalike, do I get with Turner? And I would posit that if you are really going to write off that many voting groups, we may as well concede defeat now. You aren’t winning without some of them.

              2. I don’t deny that Abrams can “broader appeal” (I note that she will also restrict appeal in the other direction). What I don’t buy is the claim that her appeal will translate into net electoral gain. You seem to believe there is a significant voting block who will not vote for Sanders/Turner but WILL vote for Sanders/Abrams. Who are these people? What’s evidence of their existence?

          1. If Bloomberg spends a ton of money supporting the Dem candidate (and he says he will), I will welcome it.

            I can’t fathom anyone thinking that the DP can compete with the GOP nationally without deep-pockets donors.

            Bloomberg spent many millions in the 2018 elections supporting DP candidates. Of whom 21 were successfully voted into office; of whom 15 (71%) were women.

            I think that is wonderful.

            1. Buying elections for Democrats is better than buying them for Republicans, but that’s far from what I’d call wonderful.

              Anyway I didn’t suggest it was wrong for Abrams to take Bloomberg’s money. What’s appalling is her inability to see that maybe buying political influence is a problem (alternatively, her unwillingness to bite the hand that feeds her, which is about as bad).

              1. In our world, no one can compete without cash.

                If we refuse to play the game, we forfeit the world to the assholes.

                What is needed is transparency. We should be fighting hard for that. No covert funding in elections, 100% reporting, stiff penalties for violations.

              2. Transparency is a good first step (so is the repeal of Citizens United). But there are more “radical” measures we should take, or at least be discussing, however unthinkable they may seem to USians who are habituated to a far right climate: public funding for campaigns, ceiling on campaign spending, etc.

                Another reason to vote for Bernie: shift the Overton window.

  8. The candidates will rip each other apart on the debate stage but, barring outright gafs, none of it will matter much once the primaries are over. It’s not like Trump needs help crafting his message, especially if Bernie Sander wins the nomination.

    Right now, the action is not on the debate stage but in the huge number of important Dems and Never Trumpers who are warning everybody that all may be lost if Bernie is the candidate. I don’t know if Bernie will definitely lose but I see him as the weakest against Trump. Bernie, like Trump, has his rabid base but he hasn’t really grown it that much since 2016. What we need is a uniter and someone closer to the center.

    1. “he hasn’t really grown it that much since 2016”

      Evidence so far is that you are probably wrong here, Paul. Nevada showed Bernie having grown his support from Hispanic voters considerably. True, also, among Black voters in Nevada although the that population is smaller in the state.

        1. That comment is illogical, GPFrog. It was a Democratic caucus, all contenders were Democrats. Sanders got 51% of Hispanic voters. The other Democratic candidates shared the rest among themselves. (In 2016 Sanders got 42% of the nonwhite vote in Nevada against Clinton.)

          1. GBJames I think you need to read beyond my first sentence to catch what I am talking about. Grabbing 49% instead of 42% of the vote pie is nice but it’s still the same pie.

            Bernie claims that he will expand the democratic base, turn out new voters and energize young voters so that even if he loses some of the centrists Trump voters, so many will come out because of his base expansion, he and fellow down ballot Democrats will be elected in the wave of Bernie support.

            So far, this is not happening. Paul Topping and I are not denying (in this thread anyway) that Sanders is expanding his appeal. What he isn’t doing is expanding the Democratic Party base.

            “There was also no clear evidence across the early states of much greater participation by young people, a typically low-turnout group that makes up a core part of Mr. Sanders’s base and that he has long said he can motivate to get out to the polls.”


            Excerpt from NYT article so you may not be able to read the entire article without a subscription.

            1. I’m not sure you’ve got a handle on the difference between a party caucus and a general election.

              The big criticism (well, a big one) has been that Sanders is weak in core Democrat demographics: Hispanics and Blacks. This is not apparently true. If Democrats turn out, they win. Trump at this point has way to increase his support. Sanders can only gain at this point. The numbers will tell in the next couple of weeks, of course.

              1. I understand the difference perfectly well. I concede, for the sake of discussion, that if he’s the nominee, he’ll get every Democratic vote. None of this proves that he has the ability to bring out voters that are currently sitting on the sidelines like the young do. And if going from 42% to 49% is a big deal, then is it also a big deal that he dropped in votes received in the first two states. I repeat myself but….

                First of all, young people historically don’t vote so getting them to vote is a bonus. It’s not like if they don’t that this would be unusual. The reason old people get more breaks than the young has something to do with the fact that they turn out to vote.

                Second, the claim is that Bernie is going to turn out massive number of new voters and the young is so far not supported by the evidence. In Iowa in 2016, 171,517 people turned out, Bernie got about half or 85.8k. 2020, 176,574 voted first round, Sanders got 43,699 or 24.75%. Such enthusiasm was generated that a full 5k extra people came out and Bernie pulled half as many as he did in 2016.

                In 2016 in NH, Bernie got 152,193 out of 247,548 votes for Clinton and he, or ~60%. 2020, he gets 76,352 or 25.6% of the vote. Total votes cast was a record at 300,612. Once again, his support is halved from 2016. Not only that in a year in which 53k more votes were cast, Bernie certainly did not get any share of all this “surge” of enthusiasm.

                Sure the field is more crowded but if his message was resonating deeply with voters, his support should at least be similar to his last ballot and with a bunch of new voters in NH, shouldn’t we expect them to be turning out for Bernie if the narrative surrounding him is true?

              2. Only time will tell what turnout will be, assuming Sanders gets the nomination.

                Similar arguments to yours can be made about all of the candidates, changing this or that complaint. I’m not much interested in that sort of prognostication. Nobody knows.

                My gut tells me that Biden would result in an far lower level of enthusiasm and turnout. Bloomberg would turn huge numbers of voters into apathetic despair. The others…? I don’t have a clue any more than you do.

                My main and original point is simply that the anti-Sanders case has gotten weaker since Nevada because he showed an ability to motivate non-white Democrats considerably more than four years ago. That is significant, I think.

              3. GBJames:

                “My main and original point is simply that the anti-Sanders case has gotten weaker since Nevada because he showed an ability to motivate non-white Democrats considerably more than four years ago.”

                I certainly agree with this.

                My big worry with Bernie (w/regard to the Dem voters) was: The Black and Latino vote.

                He has done well with them so far. SC will tell much.

                Then I am left with my main worry about Bernie: Will he bring in more votes than his embrace of Socialism turns away? I continue, very worried.

  9. Sanders will probably win the nomination and take the whole party down with him. Already Florida Democrats are distancing themselves from him.

    His MFA numbers are BS, not that he’ll ever get it passed anyway. Listened to him talk to a bunch of Culinary union people in Nevada. Said “Your employer pays $15k for your health insurance. Under MFA they will pay $3k. Guess who gets that extra $12k? You do!”

    So first, he has no numbers to back that up. And a show of hands of those who believe that employers will just turn over any savings they see from letting the government provide employee health insurance.

  10. If Sanders ends up with the highest percentage of delegates at the 2020 convention and doesn’t get the nomination, a significant number of his followers may not vote.
    My wife was a delegate at the 2016 national convention and Sanders people were not treated well by Hillary supporters. In some cases, they were openly nasty, which certainly discouraged support for Hillary. Heidi Heitkamp (ND D senator) would not even visit the ND delegation which supported Sanders. A nasty 2020 convention may produce a similar result including another Trump win.

    1. I should’ve written this in my other post, but you put it well. I don’t think anyone but Sanders can win.

      Whether it’s justified or not, there’s so much resentment among the progressive far-left towards the DNC. If anyone but Sanders gets the vote they’ll cry ‘rigged!’ and just sit on their hands. Pathetic imo, but that’s the way it is.

      Look at the venom spat at Buttigieg from these people – he’s basically a fascist to them. There’s no way they’d vote for him.

  11. As a Canadian, I am surprised why Americans are so scared of publicly funded healthcare. People do live a decent life on countries like Canada or UK or France

    1. Because, as a nation, we are idiots on this score.

      In 2018 (I think) I heard an NPR interview with a woman in (IIRK) West Virginia, who had health insurance under the ACA (“Obama Care”) and hadn’t had it before and had no other real options for it.

      They asked her about the ACA and she said (paraphrase), “It should be repealed.”

      NPR: “Won’t that hurt you?”

      “Yes; but there shouldn’t be any handouts!”

      Such is the power of the word “Socialism” in the USA.

      – We pay 2X to 3X what the nations of Europe and Australia, Canada, etc. pay for their health care.

      – We get worse outcomes compared to the countries listed above

      – We still don’t cover some millions of US citizens with health insurance*. (Hence we will pay for them at Emergency Room rates (ERs can’t turn them away) and will get even worse outcomes in consequence of longer waits prior to going to the ER.)

      – Medical bills are the #1 cause of personal bankruptcy in the US.

      Gosh! Idiots!

      1. The asterisk was meant to state:

        * The “insurance model” is not the right one for health care.

        Insurance is for when something might happen. I might have a car wreck. I might have a tree fall on my house.

        Health care is needed by everyone.

        Every single person I know above the age of 50 has at least one “pre-existing condition”, which is usually their major health worry, and if they weren’t required to by law, the private insurers in the US would exclude those (or charge you so much the effect would be the same).

        Again, this is not an insurance model. This is a social contract model (or should be) just like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, taxes for infrastructure, fire departments, police departments, the military, publicly-funded nursing homes, etc.

        There are some in the US who reject the social contract. The Ron Paul supporters in 2011 comes to mind.

        1. Yes. This is why it bugs me to see so many objections to universal care based on the insurance model. As far as I can see, the single payer model is extremely simplifying and rather elegant. It removes the idea of insurance from basic care. Ron Paul is a total jerk.

        2. Single-payer is the American future, no doubt about it. The only issue now is whether (as seems to be the case) a halfway measure like the “public option” is more palatable to a majority of voters.

          The rightwing had people up in arms about the ACA from 2010 to 2016, but almost no one any longer wants a return to the exclusion for pre-existing conditions. (And even the Trump maladministration seems at best lukewarm to its own persistent and pending efforts to have Obamacare declared unconstitutional in the courts.)

          1. Well, the rightwing had people up in arms about Obamacare but many of those were, at the same time, quite fond of the ACA. Unfortunately for us all they were not aware that the two are one and the same.

            This economically captures all the problems we face.

  12. NPR was out again with microphones this morning (or last night) and the chorus continues, most especially from Republican voters this morning:

    “I hate Trump. Give me a Dem I can vote for. Bernie is not that!”

    I fear the Bernie enthusiasts are too sanguine about his chances should he get the nod. (I seriously fear another 1972.)

    Nevertheless, if he is the nominee, I will enthusiastically vote for him and encourage as many as I can to do likewise.

    1. “I hate Trump. Give me a Dem I can vote for. Bernie is not that!”

      When I hear this line of reasoning I hear: “If Democrats want to win they need to satisfy Republicans.”

      No, thanks. I’d rather they work to get Democrats to the polls.

      1. It’s a tough call.

        I think I’d be fine with Bernie’s policies. I just, still, come down on the side of: He’s likely to turn away more voters than he attracts. And I fear Trump II more than anything.

        From the people I am hearing on NPR, the only thing they wouldn’t go for is Bernie or Warren. They are OK accepting a Dem.

        It’s not just the Republicans who are saying this. Many Dems are saying it too and may (I fervently hope not) not bother to vote if it’s Bernie.

        We have a bad choice this time. Risk turning off the Obama 2008/12 + Trump 2016 people or risk having the Bernie fans sit on their hands again in 2020.

  13. … Michael Bloomberg (who’s already effectively gone).

    Never underestimate the ability of someone who can essentially print his own money to stick around and screw things up.

    I’ve already got a recycling bin full of mailings from Bloomberg for the primary here on St. Paddy’s Day.

    1. I agree. There were Bloomberg ads playing in the commercial breaks in the debate. It’s pretty high density. Even for someone like me who watches very little actual TV it’s hard to miss his ads. Plus the things he gets criticized for are all areas (race relations, misogyny, etc)where Trump is a much worse offender.

  14. This was the first debate I actually watched. I followed live blogs on some of the earlier ones. I found it pretty depressing. Warren seems the best prepared. Mayor Pete and Amy Klobuchar seemed to come over OK, through all the shouting. I thought Biden was pretty absent and then heard a comment on NPR this morning that this was probably his best showing, heaven help us.

    I’m skeptical that Bernie can beat Trump, but it’s not a foregone conclusion – Michelle Goldberg said recently that she hopes she doesn’t have to spend the late summer/fall writing columns aimed at either persuading moderates to vote for Bernie or the Bernie bros to vote for Bloomberg, on the grounds that either is a world better than Trump.

    There have been two truly gifted Dem politicians that I remember, Bill Clinton and Barak Obama. On the R side probably Reagan. And their gift really was to project an optimistic vision. None of those individuals turned out to be perfect, even if you agreed with their policy positions going in. Hard to envision the Bern as a cheery optimist, but he does have a message. And much as I don’t want him to be the nominee he’d be better than the present toddler in chief, and would not get his plans through a senate that will likely still be in Repub hands if he’s the nominee. (A point Buttigieg made repeatedly)

  15. Soon after tRump was elected, I thought the Dems could nominate a rusty bolt and beat him by a landslide. I thought people would come to understand his corruption, and regret having voted for him. Not sure any more.
    Probably the saddest conclusion is many people are selfishly motivated. If they now have a job and didn’t under Obama, they just go with the flow. One potentially good thing about the Corona virus, if I can call it that, it might bring the economy to a halt so that his fair weather fans will toss him off the bridge (not that I would wish anyone to get sick, but still…).

    1. Unfortunately, I interact with many online who fully embody the 5th Avenue Effect.

      Nothing Trump has done or could do will shift their support for him. Impervious to data.

      It’s real insanity and it rhymes with the 1920s and 1930s far too much for my comfort.

      I seriously fear a number of things:

      1. Trump II (Hank preserve us!)

      2. Trump refusing to step down on 20-Jan-2021 (others are more sanguine on this score; I think it’s a very real possibility), leading to

      3. Armed rebellion by the 5th Avenue Effect nuts.

      4. Loss of confidence in our democratic system, elections, and thereby our government (along with our media, social institutions, etc.). (Trump has gone a long way along this path with his bullshit, chaos, and crimes.

      Undermining social institutions and public confidence in elections, etc. is the first move of all totalitarians. And, you had better believe it, Trump would be a full-on totalitarian if he could get away with it.

      “I alone can fix it” Trump, July 2016

      1. Pretty dire scenarios. Alternatively,…

        1. If he wins reelection, Ceiling Cat forbid, he’ll probably make one more Supreme Court appointment and then die in office – to everyone’s relief, including many Republicans.

        2. If he’s defeated I think we’ll see him make some lame excuses (“rigged, I tell you!”), and start a new reality TV show with his family. Later, when they take pictures of the current living presidents, they’ll find an excuse not to invite him.

        1. Said it before, but I think future historians will simply write off the last three years as ‘non-canon’.

          1. It will be very interesting to see what is written about this time. I probably won’t live long enough to read those books.

            A Very Stable Genius is a pretty good contemporary peak at it. I highly recommend this book.

      2. I’ve read the relevant clause in the US Constitution: there’s no “stepping down” as president. At midday on Jan 20, you simply are no longer in charge. All the personnel in the Whitehouse formerly charged with protecting Trump will suddenly have a duty to eject him from the premises. Part of me wishes he would try it.

        1. Well, stepping down is there in the form that Nixon demonstrated. (Not that this is the point here. It is the pedant in me…..)

        2. But only tradition enforces this. He is a career criminal and has a rabid, thoughtless following.

          All this rhymes with the 1930s way too much for my comfort.

            1. Yes, but the Constitution is “just a piece of paper”.

              People have to execute the peaceful transfer of power through their direct actions.

              Of course a refusal to step aside would be illegal and unconstitutional. My point is that such niceties are irrelevant to der Drumpfenführer and his mob.

              He would be wrong, legally, of course. But that wouldn’t stop Trump trying, if he felt like it.

              We would be relying on other actors following the rules and confronting the malefactor, physically and violently if necessary, if the event comes to pass. We know such actions have failed in the past.

              I am not entirely confident in the likes of Moscow Mitch, Devin Nunes, Jim Jordan, et al., standing behind the constitution rather than Trump.

              I know this sounds like bombast; and I sincerely hope I am wrong; but, based on Trump’s mentality and behavior and his public statements, I am not sanguine on this.

              He hasn’t even won a second term yet and he’s aiming at more.

              His core supports are all of the 5th Avenue Effect camp: Thoughtless, incorrigible.

              I highly recommend A Very Stable Genius for a good look at the Trump personality, mental state, and style of action.

  16. It was pretty much a bare-knuckles brawl in Charleston last night.

    It’s become painfully obvious that the entire system we’ve embarked upon is no way for a major party to go about picking its presidential nominee in our self-proclaimed “world’s greatest democracy.”

    For one thing, “We need more caucus states” is a thing I should hope to hear no Democrat utter ever again.

  17. I think Sanders genuinely cares about people and Trump genuinely doesn’t. I also think Sanders has this ideology that he just can’t resist. Example: just thoroughly denounce Castro. It is like this obsession that he just can’t let go. Also, Sanders mentions US involvement in Chile. Pinochet was a horrifying person and the US was not innocent, but I have this slightly paranoid feeling that what Sanders was thinking was that a country lead by the Communist Allende was brought down with the assistance of the capitalist US. Bernie is doing this in a debate with democrats. Can you imagine Trump provoking him? Also 30 trillion for a healthcare program that a lot of democrats don’t want is insane. At least student loan forgiveness will look like a drop in the bucket.

    1. It is well known that the Cuban exiles in Florida hate Castro so much that they won’t tolerate anything positive said about him regardless of what else is said. They are irrational. Still, Bernie should know that and act accordingly. No one who tells the truth in cases like this will survive to become president. It’s not like Castro’s literacy efforts are on the ballot.

    2. “I have this slightly paranoid feeling that what Sanders was thinking was that a country lead by the Communist Allende was brought down with the assistance of the capitalist US.”

      Isn’t that true though? (Except Allende, while a Marxist, was not a member of the Chilean Communist Party.)

      For me, Sanders’s defense of Cuba and his condemnation of US foreign policy were the high points of the debate. He didn’t say all that could be said—how the US had supported the much worse Batista before Castro overthrew him, for example—but he made no apology for what he did say, even though he must know it was extremely inconvenient. This is one of his major appeals. If he papered over facts for political expediency he’d just be another Warren.

      Assuming he gets the nomination, yes, Trump will probably provoke him over Cuba, Chile, Iran, Guatemala (if Trump can so much as pronounce it)… and he will tell the truth, and the media will have to fact check him, and maybe instead of sinking his campaign, the American people will finally get a much needed education in their own history. Maybe. But not impossible. I’d love to see it.

      “Also 30 trillion for a healthcare program that a lot of democrats don’t want is insane.”

      How much is “a lot”? 70% Americans support M4A according to polls.

      1. Recent polling suggests less than 70%. I saw around 50%. Also, answers to polls depend greatly on how the question is asked. If you were to ask me if I think all Americans should have health insurance I would say absolutely. But the path to do that is not limited to the path Sanders proposes. Also, what a 30 trillion dollar price tag means for taxes will change a lot of minds. The points made about the some of the positive effects Castro had and some of the disastrous effects that US intervention has had are good points. Sanders has integrity and I really do think it is admirable. And because Trump is a hideous person I will vote for Sanders without hesitation. There are good criticisms of aspects of capitalism. Marx had some. He did not have good solutions though. In fact, when his solutions were instantiated the results on the whole were pretty bad. And because Sanders insists on labeling himself a socialist and unnecessarily picking examples of communist leadership to defend, he will have a much harder time winning. It may also cause a lot of problems for House democrats.

        1. KFF polling shows 72% of democrats support. 51% overall. (As of July). I remember that with the ACA surveys showed overwhelming support for coverage for preexisting conditions, letting children stay on parent’s plans longer, and the elimination of charges for some preventative procedures (like, I suppose, colonoscopies).

          Ask them what do they think about Obamacare, which implemented all these individual parts they like, and they think it should be repealed. There is also a significant difference between the favorability overall of respondents to Obamacare and ACA, showing the general public’s complete ignorance. One survey showed that 1/3 didn’t know they were the same.

        2. All the money needed to run a MFA of some sort, and considerably more by nearly all accounts, is already being spent to run the system we have now. A reasonably well designed MFA would cost much less than what we currently spend, both as a nation and individually. Saying the program will cost $30 trillion as if that’s additional money we’ve all got to fork over in worse than false advertising.

          Sure, we might get taxed thousands more per year for it. But we won’t be paying a $1000 a month, plus deductibles, co-pays, out of network specialists, colonoscopies that aren’t covered if they find and remove a polyp (but are if they don’t), and numerous other convoluted costs. Guess which one will be a lot less? We don’t really have to guess. There are tens of examples of such systems around the world that have been running for many years and the most expensive system is less than 1/2 the cost per person than ours. On top of that, they all have better healthcare outcomes than the US too.

          Aren’t we the greatest nation on Earth? If we are then why can’t we do this better than everyone else? Should be a piece of cake.

          1. I do not pay anything remotely close to $1000 plus other costs a month. So perhaps my taxes would increase significantly.
            I am a pharmacist so I will restrict my commentary to pharmaceuticals. What I have noticed is that patients often look for the latest and greatest medications. These are the most expensive. So say a type 2 diabetic patient wants Invokana and Victoza when for years there diabetes was managed with glipizide and metformin. The first combo costs about $1200 a month the second you can get for $20 a month. Not false advertising. If their copay is only $20 a month for the former a lot of people don’t worry that the insurance is covering the rest. When people have good insurance they use it. In another country that has universal care they may not have Victoza as an option so the costs stay down. Americans may not accept those conditions.
            As far as the poor health outcomes the US has compared to other countries, I would be interested to know to what extent higher rates of obesity contribute to that. Also criticisms of high costs of US healthcare don’t at the same time acknowledge just how much the US healthcare companies contribute to global improvements in healthcare. Sorry for some of the longer posts, but you folks are helping me clarify my thinking.

            1. From eHealth

              “According to eHealth, the average of an individual health insurance plan is $440 for an individual and $1,168 for a family. Nov 18, 2019”

              From The Balance

              “Data from the annual Milliman Medical Index shows the most common health care plan for a family of four costs on average $28,166 in 2018. This estimate includes employee and employer contributions as well as out-of-pocket expenses such as co-pays and deductibles.”

              Those are the statistics. I’ve had a variety of health insurance plans in my life and the numbers from these sources are completely in line with my experiences. And I and my family are healthy.

              If you don’t have copays, deductibles, and any of the other added costs above the basic cost of your policy, then you’ve got some very special health insurance and somebody is paying a lot more than the average for it. Perhaps your employer? If you do pay all those costs, wouldn’t you rather have a plan that doesn’t have any of those costs, doesn’t restrict what doctor or specialist you use and costs you less than what you currently pay? And completely removes the risk of financial ruin due to serious medical need?

              The myth that the US is the only source of medical innovation and that somehow that would be lost if we went to a single payer system needs to die. It’s inaccurate on the one hand and on the other we have examples demonstrating that it doesn’t mean the death of innovation. It’s inaccurate in that there are many innovations produced in many other countries all around the world. And pretty much all of those countries have something much more like a single payer system than our thoroughly buggered pyramid scheme.

              1. I did not say the US was the only source of medical innovation? As far as my monthly premium, including dental I believe it is under $250 a month. I don’t have those other costs and no one else is paying for it because I hardly use it. Grant it the point of insurance is that it is there if I do need it. But I have a concern that my monthly costs would increase substantially. And yes, there are tragic cases where some accident or disease hits someone and it causes financial ruin. It is completely obscene and totally unacceptable. Also, I should have stated” the $30 trillion dollar price tag” differently and it is misleading.
                Also, Sanders analysis of problems is often a lot more emotional than reasonable. Like the $100 billion a year the pharmaceutical companies pull in. Let’s say that $100 billion is instead divided evenly among $300 million Americans every year. That is $330 a person and it erased any profit incentive. Is that money to each American really going to improve health. Or say you only took 75% or 50%. I don’t actually know. If that money is utilized differently maybe it would. At work the costs for anti hyperglycemics is crazy. Massively worse than the Epipen costs popularized by the media a couple of years ago. Regulation on those prices may become necessary.

                Also,you are exaggerating some of my points. I never said “death of innovation”. But isn’t it reasonable to assume there will be some costs to innovation?

                Getting the rest of the country healthcare coverage should be a a primary goal. Maybe things would play out in a way that first payer is more efficient and cost saving. I do worry some that extrapolating the success that other countries have had onto America may have blind spots. I am not ideologically opposed to first payer. I have a feeling Sanders is ideologically attached though.

              2. A couple of things.

                I tend to agree with you about Sanders being ideologically attached to his policy positions. But I also think he is largely correct about healthcare. By that I mean the current state of it and that single payer is better and that we should implement it. I differ from Bernie on healthcare in that for purely pragmatic reasons the change to a single payer type of system should be done incrementally rather than instantly because if done instantly people will fight it more. People tend to resist rapid change no matter what data you try to show them.

                If you have anything other than one of those “in case of catastrophe” health insurance plans I am amazed that it costs you only less than $250 even for you alone, including dental. And it’s not from an employer who pays some of the cost? It’s not subsidized by the ACA? This is much less than average for any level of plan that has any reasonable utility. Here are some stats pulled from eHealth.

                Average monthly premiums for individual plans by metal level were:
                $206 for catastrophic plans
                $434 for bronze plans
                $498 for silver plans
                $597 for gold plans
                $709 for platinum plans

                Average monthly premiums for individual plans by gender were:
                $461 for women in 2018
                $418 for men in 2018

                The only plans I’m aware of for the price you are paying (not subsidized by anyone) are the lowest level catastrophe plans for the cheapest cohort. I do not begrudge anyone who is happy with such a policy their choice. But it is not a good choice for anybody. Yes, I acknowledge that it is possible that such people may end up paying more in a single payer system. I don’t think it is clear at all that they would, but it is certainly possible. I am perfectly okay with that. It is worth the price to live in the kind of society I’m pretty sure nearly all of us want to live in.

              3. “Getting the rest of the country healthcare coverage should be a a primary goal. Maybe things would play out in a way that first payer is more efficient and cost saving.”

                I agree.

                On the costs, my insurance is in the ballpark the GBJames noted.

                A few years ago, I had an annus horribilis, when I had, in succession:
                – Shingles*
                – Syncope (from the shingles symptoms), resulting in
                – A severe concussion (4 weeks in bed, 20+ hours per day, 6 weeks out of work)
                – BPV (a sequel of the fall from syncope)
                – A stroke
                – Hypo natremia
                – Post-herpetic neuralgia, resulting in permanent sensory nerve loss in one and and permanent motor nerve loss in one leg
                – 3 trips in an ambulance
                – 2 hospital stays

                And of course:

                – Zillions of tests, including MRI, CT scan, Echocardiagram, cardiac stress test, electomyogram (EMG, you don’t ever want one of these. I have a tiny window into what the electric chair must be like), etc., etc., etc.

                The total bill was around $100,000 for that year. Fortunately I have excellent health insurance and work for a company that stood behind me. If I were a working class Joe-sixpack, wihthout good insurance, I’m sure I would have been bankrupted. I paid about $5000.

                A bit later, I had a total hip replacement surgery (at an orthopedic center that specializes in these surgeries and has very low costs, high outcome ratings, and extremely low infection rates). The bill for that was about %50,000. I paid about $4K.

                (* The root of evil: Make sure you get vaccinated (both vaccine types) against shingles. You do not want this disease. It’s a big deal. I know people who have been blinded and deafened by shingles.)

              4. I looked up my plan’s information. I pay $95 every two weeks for medical(including prescriptions with $4 genetics), vision, and dental. Annual deductible in network is $1750 and annual max out of pocket is $6850. I appreciate the data you gathered so I took the time to look up my plan. Plus, frankly I should have a better clue of what my benefits are. I trust the numbers you put out and I may just be on the lucky side of average.

              5. Interesting. My wife and I pay 657 per month in Medicare Part B, 433 for supplemental Anthem coverage, and CU pays 921 towards our medical and dental – grand total is $2,011 per month, $24,132 annually.

              6. rickflick, Thanks, I am over it all. And, actually, fitter and lighter weight than I have been in about 20 years.

                A stroke will do that to you! 🙂

                When the neurologist (Dr. Sandra Hanson, a wonderful doctor) came to my room shortly before discharge, to show me my MRI images (that was very cool), she said, “You have had a tiny stroke.” Me: “That is a very fine word, doc, ‘tiny!’ ”

                I feel no affect-effects of the stroke (thank Hank); but they tell me symptoms can return if you are very ill or tired (“recrudescence”). Great!

  18. Anyone so frightened of Sanders’ vision for America (little of which will come to pass in our lifetimes) that they would rather have Trump for another four years, should still vote Democratic for the sake of the Supreme Court alone.

  19. If Sanders goes into the convention with a plurality but not a majority of delegates, it will get very interesting. The superdelegates, by and large, will not want him as the nominee. If he loses in the second round due to their votes, his supporters will probably take it as confirmation that the DNC was never going to allow him to win. They’ll either push him to run as an independent, vote Green, or stay home. In that case, Trump wins.

    If Sanders somehow wins the nomination, Trump will convince enough voters that Sanders is a communist that the moderates will either stay home or vote for Trump. In that case, Trump wins.

    The only hope for the Democrats is if a moderate makes a solid enough showing on Super Tuesday to get the others to consolidate behind him or her. According to the polls, that’s not looking likely.

    We live in interesting times.

    1. “[Bernie] run[s] as an independent, [they] vote Green, or stay home. In that case, Trump wins”

      This is certainly true.

      Never has DP unity been more essential. Unfortunately, the DP is not known for this.

      And, Bernie is not a Democrat and never has been, which makes party unity rather more difficult.

  20. I was disappointed with tge debate last night. On the issues I agree more with Biden and Bloomberg. No agreement at all with Warren and Sanders comes in last with hardly any agreement.

    Early voting starts in Georgia next week, the primary is March 24. Polls will be open one day a week until then. Most people will vote early.

    I think the process is too unsettled to make any predictions. We should no more after super Tuesday. Two thirds of the delegates will be decided by the end of March. We should know more by then. We should be down to two or three candidates by then. Predict they will be Bloomberg, Pete and Sanders

  21. Only in Trump’s America is Vdare considered a “Foundation focused on immigration.”

    They’re a damn white nationalist group! I know, I’ve had many encounters with them.

  22. Voted “dunno” on the first question, though Bernie’s got the inside track, and may be all but unstoppable if he pulls out another win this weekend in SC.

    Voted that the Bern can beat Trump on questions two, if only because I can bring myself to do no other.

    Plus, people overrate Trump as a candidate because he pulled off such an unlikely upset in 2016 (and because they know he’s got unlimited campaign financing as well as an utter lack of scruples regarding how low he will go, including, quite obviously, by soliciting and embracing unlawful foreign interference in our 2020 election). But, since the first weeks of his presidency, Trump hasn’t had an approval rating above the low 40s or a disapproval rating that’s dipped below 50%.

    No way an incumbent with such lousy numbers can be considered an odds-on favorite to win reelection. Trump may yet eek out another electoral college victory by drawing yet another inside straight in swing-state voting. But over half the US electorate will NEVER for Donald Trump under any circumstances, even should the Democrats put up a ticket of the two Charlies — Manson and Starkweather.

    Bernie’s by no means my first choice, but if he’s to be the Democratic nominee, then I say “Go Bern, Go.” I’ll be out there humping the local campaign trail for him (and for my local down-ticket Democratic candidates) come the Fall.

  23. I have a simple principle that I adhere to when deciding whom to vote for: if I can’t be enthusiastic about a candidate then I go for the lesser of two evils. It is very rare that there is a candidate with whom I agree on everything. Half a loaf is better than none. The Republicans have realized this; the Democrats perhaps not. This is why that in 2016, even though they were insulted by Trump to an extraordinary degree, the likes of Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz supported him and now are his toadies. People who claim to disdain Trump, but will not vote for the Democrat candidate for one reason or another are handing the nation to an authoritarian, a climate change denier, a science denier, a tool of the religious right, union buster, an enemy of a women’s reproductive rights, a grifter and a malignant narcissist (I’ve probably forgotten a few things). Is this what they really want?

    1. You forgot a tool of Putin and one of his many sycophants…perhaps the most imminent threat to democracy should he win 2020.

      1. + a large number.

        I assume everyone knows that Putin’s circle holds all of Trump’s paper? When the US banks shut out the many-times-bankrupt, he headed east.

        This was, in my opinion, the focus of the Helsinki tete-tete; and why he covered up the details (which is, I think, a violation of the Presidential Records Act). Putin was grasping der Drumpfenführer’s lapels and whispering sweet nothings into his ear.

        Putin plays the long game. He knew a puppet in the WH would be very valuable.

    2. Tragically, many people do not understand that there is ALWAYS a lesser evil. I had thought Americans would have learned that lesson after the elections in 2000 and 2016, but nope.

    3. In a two-party system, it’s invariably a choice of the lesser evil.

      Only two times I’ve ever felt completely clean and righteous casting a ballot for president were in my first trip to the voting booth for McGovern ’72 and and in ’08 to vote for Barack.

      And even then, I gotta admit, by the time I returned in the Fall to vote for McGovern in his doomed effort against Nixon in the general election, I thought ol’ George had compromised himself in his effort to curry favor with the Party bosses. And, while I was happy to vote again for Barry in 2012, it wasn’t with quite the same enthusiasm I’d felt in ’08.

  24. It saddens me to see the supposed left party of America attacking concepts like universal healthcare which, as Bernie correctly points out, is a human right in all other developed countries. The fact that the US does not already have universal healthcare is barbaric and embarrassing. To characterize universal healthcare as radical left is to have drunk the corporate Republican kool aid. Sad days when Democrats are fear mongering single payer healthcare.

    And all democrats need to stop fear mongering the word socialism, especially when it is preceded by the word “democratic.”

    And finally, we nominated a centrist last time. She lost to that guy from The Apprentice.

    1. They are not attacking universal healthcare. The DP passed Obamacare.

      They are attacking forcing Medicare onto all citizens, for political reasons, not because they would really oppose a single-payer system.

      They judge that the US voters are not ready for single payer. I, unfortunately, agree in this judgement (though I strongly favor single payer health care in US).

      I’ll say it again: We face a bad choice: Drive away the swing voters and Obama 2008/12+Trump 2016 voters or have the Bernie fans sit on their hands again.

      Attacking each other is the nature of the Primary/Nomination process. Nothing new there.

      The last time we nominated someone from the left end of the party, the GOP won an historic landslide in 1972. (3rd largest EC margin in the 25 elections since 1920: McGovern won one state: MA, 17 EC votes out of 538.) And McGovern was probably less to the left than Bernie is. And the voters have drifted right since 1972 (especially since 1980).

  25. My preference for election scenarios:
    1) Moderate Democrat (Biden, Buttigieg, Klobuchar) wins. We need someone with reasonable policies to clean up Trump’s mess.
    2) Trump beats Sanders. Trump idiocy continues but Democrats moderate their views causing 2024 to look better. I have trust in the American political system to prevent Trump from doing any great damage. He has destroyed American politics but has not destroyed the economy (but has causes absurdly huge deficits.)
    3) Trump beats moderate Democrat – continues the Trump damage and Democrat learn nothing. 4) Sanders wins. The country veers from one idiotic economic policy to another. The only bright spot is that the American political system will prevent him from destroying the economy no matter how much he tries. And he will try.

    1. “I have trust in the American political system to prevent Trump from doing any great damage.”

      There’s more evidence of the existence of God and Bigfoot than evidence that political norms and institutions will keep Trump in check.

      1. Your hyperbole is absurd. I could be wrong but I imagine that four years ago you were (most progressives certainly were) worried about the economy, abortion rights, gay rights (especially marriage), rights of minorities, theocracy and a major war. Am I right?

        Four years ago, I despised Trump but I was confident all these were safe (with some erosion of abortion rights). I was correct and I am confident that they are safe under 4 more years of Trump. I am also confident Trump will not be president in 2025.

        1. You’re much mistaken. I was very much in the “there’s no way this idiot can do that much harm” camp in 2016. The gutting of the federal government and full-throated defense of election tampering and other criminality changed my mind something fierce.

          1. I totally agree that his talk of fraud and defense of election is deplorable and is part of why I said “has destroyed American politics.”

            What exactly do you expect to go wrong and what do you mean by “gutting the federal government”? And why do think differently from 4 years ago? Despite my confidence in the American system of government, I admit that I had niggles of doubt. Surviving four years of bad government has silenced them. I am surprise that your worries have grown.

            I apologize for the word absurd in my first response to you. I am trying my best to learn about and from other people but, all too often, I respond without proper decorum. I blame Trump 😉

          1. I am going to respond here to your other comment.
            “I’m sorry to say, he has done incalculable damage to the American political system and continues to do so. ”

            I totally agree that Trump has cause major damage to our POLITICAL system and it will years or decades for it to recover. I could quibble with your other statements but they are basically correct.

            Other than Trump being elected to a 3rd term what exactly do you expect (or fear) to go wrong? Please mention something that will directly affect me or my fellow citizens. What rights will we lose or economic catastrophe will occur? The long-term deficit is the only thing that come to my mind and most of the Democrats are as bad. The states are the ones abridging abortion rights not the federal government.

            1. Stripping of environmental regulations (and probably illegally so, given that we’re talking Trump) to start.

              His invitations for foreign interference in our elections (going on right now, publicly and in the dark).

              His undermining of the EU and NATO (and other multilateral agreements): The organizations and measures that have enabled the Great Peace. This will haunt us for generations. He is Putin’s tool.

              The exodus of core civil servants who are being replaced (if at all) by public sycophants.

              It is much easier to destroy than to build. If you are worried about deficits and costs, you have much to worry about. Our rebuilding costs will be great: In blood and treasure, I predict.

              1. My first reply to got eaten, let me try again. I will try to summarize and generalize your comments and respond.
                1. Environmental concerns – Global warming is a strong, valid concern about Trump. I believe that nuclear energy and geoengineering are the proper response. Since Sanders advocates closing nuclear plants, he not much better than Trump. The other Democrats are probably significantly better than Trump. I think the other environmental concerns are overblown. Moderates good – Trump and Sanders bad in different ways.
                2. Foreign meddling in our elections – the Chinese and Russians are going to interfere in our elections regardless of who is president. Trump is a bozo about this but the states run the elections, so I do not see this as a major issue. I also worry about the Democrats’ solutions being abridgements on the first amendment.
                3. Foreign policy – Trump has undoubtedly weakened relations with our allies. Bush and Obama helped cause catastrophes in the middle east which makes me question the establishment’s foreign policy. However, the establishment democrats are probably better but most are too militant for my taste. I like Sanders’s pacifism in the middle east but his fawning to leftist dictators is abhorrent. Moderates ok – Trump and Sanders bad in different ways.
                4. Exodus of civil servants – true but not a major issue IMO.
                5. Destroy and build – this is too vague to reply to.
                6. Deficit – Trump is horrible on this. Sanders wants to double the size of the government so it is hard to imagine him being much better without causing severe economic damage. I have no faith in any politician on this but the moderate are likely to be significantly less awful.

              2. Sorry, I didn’t get past your #1, your claim that outside of global warming, other environmental concerns with the Trump administration are overblown. This NYT article lists 95 Environmental Rules Being Rolled Back Under Trump, broken into a number of categories; Air pollution and emissions; Drilling and extraction; Infrastructure and planning; Animals; Toxic substances and safety; Water pollution; and a few miscellaneous. Mainly targeted are environmental rules seen as burdensome to the fossil fuel industry and other big businesses.

                Now some may perceive concern about these burdensome regulations as overblown, Trump obviously does, but not everyone. As the article concludes, “All told, the Trump administration’s environmental rollbacks could significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions and lead to thousands of extra deaths from poor air quality every year, according to a report prepared by New York University Law School’s State Energy and Environmental Impact Center.” Air quality, clean water, these things, IMO, aren’t so unimportant.

              3. @tomh – We are too deep for me to reply directly.

                Thanks for the thoughts. First of air and water are quality are not simply “clean” or “dirty” but on continuum. I was happy with their state in 2008. Tighter standards can be expensive and the price for cleanup may be worse than an increase in cleanliness or not. It is very difficult to know unless you have done research which I have not. BTW, I did work in lab on CO2 emissions so I am fairly well versed in climate change.

                I tried to follow the quote about thousands of extra deaths from air pollution. It led me Trump repealing the Clean Power Plan would allegedly cause over 1000 deaths per year. However, the CPP was put on hold because of court challenges. So this is possibly significant or maybe nothing but is certainly a strong point for your argument.

                The NYT article is paywalled so I will reference this article by Eco Watch entitled “Trump Named ‘Worst President for Our Environment in History’ by Nine Green Groups.” It highlights 4 changes that Trump has made. I will respond to these because it seems like a good overview for environmental layman like myself.

                Two of these are rollbacks of Obama regulations which might be bad but returning to 2008 pollution standards does not concern me as I stated earlier. A third revokes California’s ability to set emission standards for cars which is a very bad idea. However, no car company is going to significantly change their pollution standards when things are likely change back in 2024. So this is a bad idea with limited impact. The fourth item is changing the Endangered Species Act. I do not have the knowledge to judge this. I stand by my statement that on climate change Trump is horrible but the rest of his environmental policy is only poor.

            2. “Please mention something that will directly affect me or my fellow citizens.”

              This is an odd argument. You concede that Trump has “destroyed American politics”. But apparently, unless you see the effects of his actions directly manifest in front of you, it’s not an issue?

              …Most Germans went on living perfectly satisfactory lives under Hitler. The freedoms of minorities were shrunk to nothing, the state was purged of anything but loyalists, the judicial system was co-opted by the ruling party, jurors were intimidated into acquiescence, elections were rigged, the media was relentlessly attacked…yet the average German wasn’t particularly affected.

              Just saying ‘I’m alright Jack’ is not an argument in favour of America’s political health. By the time you begin to notice things changing in serious ways for you on a day-to-day basis it’s far too late to do anything about it. The referees have been bought, the jurors cowed, the media suborned. You are living under authoritarian rule.

              Some people are okay with that kind of society so long as their tribe comes out on top though.

              1. I am trying to respond politely but you implying I would be a Nazi sympathizer makes it difficult. I specifically mentioned “my fellow citizens.” In case you have forgotten, Hitler killed millions of German

                You might want to look up Godwin’s Law.

                BTW, I will do my best to avoid dealing with you in future.

              2. I didn’t compare you to a Nazi sympathiser, don’t be so ridiculous. I thought my point was pretty clear – that abridgements of freedoms take place under people’s noses and it doesn’t affect them until it’s too late. The same thing happened under the Nazis. And saying ‘it doesn’t affect me’ is not any kind of argument.

                And if you want to storm off in a huff that’s your prerogative but don’t be so pompous and finger-wagging as to pretend I was calling you a Nazi.

                “BTW, I will do my best to avoid dealing with you in future.”

                D’you promise? So far as I can see you’ve avoided answering anyone’s questions, complained of being victimised as a Nazi sympathiser, made excuses for Trump, and now you’re taking your ball and going home. Well, bye bye.

  26. JAC states “Michael Bloomberg (who’s already effectively gone)” but I am not sure that is a done deal. While I wish that he would pick up his money and pack up his tent because he ain’t goin’ nowhere, other non-Trumpers make the argument that Bloomberg would not energize the Trumpers and not cause Dems and independents to stay at home as might Bernie, Warren or others in the pack. I just hope that Bloomberg spends as much money on the eventual nominee as he has on himself.

  27. My impression, based on nothing but my own intuitions… I think Sanders could win. Democrats are going to vote for him no matter what, and the fact that he is older makes him more palatable to moderates, to my mind. He’s not some scary dictator type trying to bring in Communism, he’s an elderly liberal Jewish guy who is barely distinguishable from Larry David playing him on SNL. That gives him enough “cuddly” factor for moderates to say “whatever, he probably won’t get anything done anyways” and vote for him. I also think one should not underestimate the guilt factor among Democratic moderates. I mean I look at myself, and I’m lucky to make an upper middle class salary. Even then, a good salary can be stretched pretty tight when all is said and done. You pay a ton to live in a safe neighborhood, you pay a ton for good schools, even with good insurance you pay a ton for healthcare (I’ve spent a few thousand already this year), you pay to be able to delay having kids so that you can establish a career that allows you to pay for all of these things, you pay to be in more high paying fields like contract work (so many random taxes, licensures, insurances, etc., not to mention the cost of education), you pay to have the basic staples (laptop, two cars, iPhone, etc.) that allow you entry into middle class working life. It all costs a lot. My impression is that a lot of Dem moderates are middle class to upper middle class. When push comes to shove, are they going to explicitly vote against giving more to others who aren’t as fortunate? I doubt it. It might not happen the way they would want it to happen, but if pushed into a binary yes / no situation, I think most would grudgingly go with ‘yes’.

    I think the GOP will be shooting themselves in the foot if they go with the “Communist!” line. First off, it’s 2020, the Red Scare is pretty dated. Second, Sanders speaks to a group of Americans who feel disenfranchised and want something more from their government – I don’t think insulting Sanders on that particular front is going to resonate.

    Just my impressions, again. I do like crystal ball gazing just for the sake of it.

    1. I agree with most of what you say there, especially on the GOP’s tactics backfiring on them. I don’t know, but it looks and feels like Americans are sick to death of the negativity of Trump and the GOP; the hatred and empty bragging and nastiness. There’s only so long that you can enjoy that…even if you’re the winning side.

      If you set that next to the positivity of Sanders, a guy that people actually like(and I totally agree that seemingly insignificant stuff like Larry David’s SNL impression makes a difference here – little things like that soften Sanders’s sharp edges, and it all adds up), I think he has a good chance of giving Trump a kicking.

      I’m quietly hopeful that Trump will be extirpated this November.

      1. Me too. Then I think about the mindset of those who get their news from Fox and feel that the rest of MSM hates Trump and lies about him. There is also all the cheating (voter suppression, fake census mailings, etc, which will only escalate between now and election day. Finally, there’s the GOP opening the floodgates to foreign interference in our elections.

        We depend on the courts and the Dept of Justice to protect us but they have been compromised and, even on a good day, they move too slowly to be effective against those who hold the reins of power.

        Trump will take to Twitter and Fox News but refuse to debate. Bernie, or whoever runs against him, will only have ads and town halls to get the message out. It’s not going to be easy.

        1. Yes, I can’t remember if it was you who first suggested to me the possibility that Trump would just refuse to debate, but it’s lingered in my mind. That’s why the Democrats should start niggling at him about the debates right now, try and box him in asap. Don’t wait until he starts mumbling about them being rigged: gain control of the narrative by suggesting he’ll chicken out of them because he knows he’ll lose. Do it before he gets a chance to make up a reason. King of the weasels remember.

      2. I may be a bit more cynical in that I don’t know if people are actually sick of negativity, I just think they’d be just as happy to channel it towards “The 1%!” I’ve noted before, the strange thing about the more newly Red states is that some of them were actually very very blue, highly unionized areas in the past. My anecdotal impression, having grown up in such an area, is that this general style of thinking – ensure the wealth is spread to all workers, blame ‘the rich’ – has very deep roots. I am actually very wary of this mentality (the cautionary tales of my youth were how unions, according to my parents at least, more or less shut down the steel mills; and how a ‘blame the rich’ policy drove almost all of the doctors in some specialties out of state, after years of ambulance chasing lawyers and sympathetic juries awarding huge payouts to anyone who filed a suit against a doctor.) But, my feelings aside, I do think that sentiment is still there in many parts of the country (and I think it’s basic human nature to want to help the less fortunate – despite my wariness and the fact that I am not a fan of socialism, I don’t fault Sanders for his views. I think whether Right or Left, most people agree that helping others is an admirable goal, even if you disagree with the methods.)

  28. Trump’s slim chance at victory is predicated upon a good stock market (which is often called a strong economy, but is not the same thing).

    We’re in the early stages of normal market correction compounded with what is looking to be a disastrous response to an emerging public health crisis. The numbers are going to look much worse in eight months.

    1. My Schadenfreude cheers this prediction. We have been in (I think) the longest Bull Market since the Dow was established. So, a correction is inevitable. Maybe COVID19 is the trigger.

      I always have a word for Trump supports banging away on the economy: Coattails.

  29. I think the argument that Uncle Bernie will bring out a large, magical youth vote has been oversold. (1) The 18-29 demographic has always shown by far the lowest level of participation in elections, below 40% in 12 of the last 17 elections, and merely approaching 50% only once, in 2008 (see ). (2) Although some young things are conspicuous among Bernie’s most avid supporters, it does not follow that most young people are “woke”. The antics of the campus Left may suggest this, but those antics are due to a minority of college students with the indulgence of professional diversicrat administrators. I think it likely that many young people outside of Oberlin and Williams (and maybe even within such enclaves) are quite fed up with the tyranny of the woke, and might actually react against a candidate vociferously supported by wokies. [This reaction obviously applies to a significant number of older voters as well.]

    On these grounds, I think it unlikely that a torrent of young Bernie voters will counterbalance the moderates, centrists, independents, and anti-Trump Republicans who will be turned off by Bernie’s candidacy and refrain from voting. It seems to me that this imbalance will doom his candidacy, and thus probably also doom many down-ticket Democratic candidates.

    Too bad, since even a doddering elder engaged in a fantasy of re-living his YPSL youth would be an improvement over the present racketeer, and Uncle Bernie’s wilder fantasies will never make it through the legislative branch in any case. This is why, although I believe Uncle Bernie has been slipping into second childhood, I would still vote for his losing presidential campaign if he becomes (alas) the Democratic nominee.

    1. I don’t think people will associate Sanders with political correctness and identity politics. We do, because we read about it, and we read about the people who boost him online and on TV, but Sanders himself tends to avoid that whole area pretty well. The reason he’s popular is because his politics are not about race or gender or sexuality; they’re about class.

      To the extent that he’s addressed issues that chime with the woke it’s been mostly in these primaries, while he’s fighting for their votes. Once the election campaign is underway(assuming he wins the primary) I see him and his allies and boosters pivoting towards anti-establishment populism and policy issues. They’re not stupid. They know that identity politics is electorally toxic. And the GOP will have a hard time painting Bernie as overly ‘woke’. It just doesn’t fit – the culture war has never been high on his list of concerns.

  30. “I have trust in the American political system to prevent Trump from doing any great damage.”

    Huh? This is one of the most naive statements I’ve ever heard regarding Trump. You’re probably not paying that close attention, so I can understand that; not many people are.

    But when the AG is Trump’s personal defense lawyer and prosecutor, when Moscow Mitch’s Senate will allow Trump to get away with blatant obstruction of Congress and abuses of power, when lawful subpoenas are unlawfully ignored, when extorting a foreign power for political gain is “perfect”, when the judiciary (including SCOTUS) is pro-Trump and becoming ever more pro-Trump (including just last week that bastion of liberal jurisprudence, the 9th circuit, turning into a conservative majority), when autocracies are seen as strong and democracies seen as weak, when every government agency and institution has been stripped of resources, hollowed out in terms of patriots and professionals, and corrupted by the very people who head these agencies, when American intelligence agencies are depicted as “deep state enemies” and Russian intelligence is the truth rather than American intelligence, when the media is deemed “the enemy of the state”, when Trump speaks of 3rd and 4th terms as President, when telling the truth will get you fired, when holding Trump accountable will get you fired, when many of the President’s most powerful and sycophantic advisers are “acting” (since they’d never get Congressional approval), when FOX news is essentially a tool of the President and the GOP’s propaganda arm, when science is supplanted by monetary interests and ideology, when the President only uses the presidency as a means for personal wealth and unbridled power with no arm of the government save the House to check him, when the President and his followers believe he is above the law, then I’m sorry to say, he has done incalculable damage to the American political system and continues to do so.

    I hope my rant helps you see how much damage has already been done to our political system and that this is just the beginning should he get a second term. I’m not being hyperbolic when I say if Trump gets reelected, it may very well be America’s last free election.

    Everyone who cares about this country needs to vote blue no matter who. We also need to stop the hand wringing over Sanders or whoever the candidate might be. Trump is an order of magnitude far more dangerous than any potential democratic nominee running, and that’s as true as evolution.

  31. Putting my neck on the line here a bit, but I think he’ll win the nomination…and I think he’ll win the presidency.

    I think people are underestimating the difference it will make, to have someone people actually like up against Trump. Biden, Klobb, Warren, even Pete…people would have approved, but they wouldn’t necessarily have liked them very much, just in terms of the ‘I’d go for a beer with them’ heuristic. The difference that makes in politics is startling. Genuine affection, enthusiasm can make anything happen.

    And remember he’d be going up against the single most loathed president in modern history.

    ….I also believe that a big chunk of Trump’s voters really don’t like him very much. They know he’s an arsehole, they know he’s a prick. He’s just <itheir prick. He is…was…their avatar against the establishment.

    …Well he can’t own that role anymore, not if Sanders is the nominee. And the Dems will hopefully weaponise the anti-establishment angle and point out what a tool of the financial status quo Trump has been.

    I also believe that the more hysterical the right get about Sanders’s ‘communism’ – and they’ll go nuts of course – the more people will tire of it. People don’t particularly like negative campaigns.
    Trump’s 2016 campaign was positive(in its messaging at least), it appealed to a harebrained ‘I’ll solve all problems’ kind of optimism – this one will be desperately negative, because Trump’s very scared of Sanders. I don’t think it will work.

    Of course it’s up in the air but I think Sanders will beat Trump.

    1. “…this one will be desperately negative, because Trump’s very scared of Sanders. I don’t think it will work.”

      I agree and there is precedent. As you noted, he was belligerently optimistic in 2016: best health care for everyone, never touching the safety nets, hire the best people, tax the rich and alleviate the poor and middle class, etc.

      Fast forward to 2018 and his rhetoric in support of republicans was essentially a spite and malice strategy. He used immigrant fear mongering (“massive caravans heading to the border”), screamed about a need for a border wall, demonized democrats by calling them baby-killers, etc., lied about and abused democrat leaders like Schumer and Pelosi; he lost the optimism and didn’t dwell on kitchen-table issues like jobs, affordable education and health care. From the evidence so far, it seems his 2020 reelection campaign will rely on the “spite and malice” strategy. If the Dem sticks to the issues affecting average Americans and Trump sticks with an exhausting months-of-hate strategy I think he’ll turn off voters like he did in 2018. Once the Dem is nominated and Trump can finely dial in his attacks, he will manufacture the ugliest Presidential race any American alive has ever experienced. Cult45 will eat it up, but I think he’ll turn off a lot more people than excite. And by turning off, I don’t necessarily mean they’ll vote for the Dem, but they’ll stay home or vote 3rd party.

  32. Trump is known to be fearful of Bernie. Last month, the NY Times released a 1+ hour private conversation at the White House(recorded on Lev Parnas’ cell phone) in which he admitted that he was relieved Hillary did not pick him as the VP, expressly because of his admirable stances on ‘free’ trade (quotes necessary, since there’s nothing free about corporate patent protections). It’s also getting harder to deny the severity of climate change. I write this from snowless Philly. The military frequently talks about the dangers. Even South Park recently apologized for their ‘Man-Bear-Pig’ episode making fun of Al Gore’s ‘alarmism’.

    Bloomberg is the real gamble, imo. He is hated by the progressive wing for his arrogance and politics, and the argument to GOTV for this odious pick (I’m tempted to make that a five-letter word) will be difficult.

    1. Bernie should also emphasize how dirt cheap some of this agenda is. Free tuition at public colleges/universities is ~$70 bn/year. That is practically a rounding error as Trump added that amount to his military budget some years ago, and it was barely a topic of discussion. His funding mechanism for this (a small tax on speculation) would be a good thing to do on its own, even if they just ended up burning the revenue on the White House lawn.

      M4A, contrary to what pundits say, will most certainly save money. It’s true not ‘all’ studies say this, but most do. A meta-analysis (PLOS Medicine, Jan 2020) concludes in its favor. That’s the exactly the kind of analysis to undertake when multiple studies conflict. And no one asks the centrists how they will pay for the status quo, which is a clear media bias. The answer is implicit: let working people fork over a third of their income, and if they go bankrupt, so what.

      1. Bernie’s student loan get-out-of-jail-free cards would be a bit more expensive.

        > 1.4 trillion dollars.

        Student loan debt rose from $480.1 billion (3.5% GDP) in aQ1 2006 to $1,397.3 billion (7.5% GDP) in Q3 2016.


        (I know you did not address this specific proposal.)

        From the NCES:

        In 2016–17, degree-granting postsecondary institutions in the United States spent $584 billion (in current dollars). Total expenses were $372 billion at public institutions, $197 billion at private nonprofit institutions, and $15 billion at private for-profit institutions.


        If tuition became free at state universities, many private-college students would move to state schools, driving that number up.

        I am in favor of supporting citizens in their university education. We need to be factual on it. Education is the best investment people make in there lives, by and large, and this applies to the state’s investment in that education as well.

        I think many measures could be implemented:
        – Increase support for state schools
        – Bring back old-style student loans (interest deferred until graduation + grace period, supported by federal and/or state funding)
        – Cory Booker’s child bond idea

      2. On MFA, I think many in the DP think the US voter isn’t ready to be moved wholesale into MFA (I would be).

        I agree in this assessment.

        People are, by nature, pretty conservative. Especially about major life issues. Most people are highly sensitive on health care and its costs.

        The studies show that people “like their doctor” and want to keep them. What was one of the big tag lines for the GOP against the ACA? You won’t keep your doctor.

        People, in general, will be fearful of a huge shift in the health care delivery system.

        I am all for single-payer.

        But I don’t think it’s the issue to push in 2020. I think MFA will alienate more voters than it brings in.

        Everyone who would be in favor of single-payer is already voting Dem. Especially so in 2020 with the imperative to get the Orange Abomination out of office.

        1. On M4A, I would just say that as a reform, it will be far less vulnerable to Republican attack, since it will be everyone’s insurance that they are attacking. As I’m sure you recall, Obamacare survived thanks to a single Republican thumb, after not even a decade of existence. No way that happens after a several years of universal Medicare, as that would likely end the Republican party for good. That’s how I would play out the hypothetical anyhow. The same really applies to universal programs in general, so the Democratic strategy of saving pennies to avoid “sending rich kids to college” is really a poor defense strategy.

          Actually, on the topic of free college, the plan some of the Democrats have to exclude the children of wealth families from free tuition will necessarily require a bloated bureaucratic apparatus determining who is above or below the arbitrary threshold for exclusion, and the whole mess will spawn a parasitic industry for borderline-rich families to game the system. The costs would undoubtedly be less by just going universal from the get-go. I don’t doubt college applications would skyrocket to public colleges in the first years of implementation, but I wonder whether there will be a long-term downward pressure on tuitions generally, and so the field will even out eventually.

        2. That is all to say, I think going ambitious with a Democratic agenda is only an electoral risk when the media have a constant naysaying type of coverage. But if Bernie gets the nomination, I expect this one-sided scrutiny to lessen significantly, and that CNN, MSNBC, NY Times, et al. will be open-minded since the heat of primary competition will be over. They’ll have fair-minded policy experts, not just pundits, describing the reforms, which do pass muster by and large. This might translate into an electoral boon for all we know. Americans of all stripes do have fond memories of FDR, after all.

    2. EB, not sure what you are driving at here:

      …‘free’ trade (quotes necessary, since there’s nothing free about corporate patent protections)

      I have worked for 4 decades in industry, designing products that people’s lives depend on. These businesses are highly dependent upon intellectual property (IP).

      Are you suggesting that IP and protecting it are bad things?

      Please explain, thanks.

      1. The remark was only pointing out that free trade agreements are protectionist with respect to intellectual property, so that aspect is farcical. Wasn’t suggesting more per se, although I’ve read the economist Dean Baker (one of the few great twitter accounts, btw) make a strong case for replacing the patent system for pharmaceuticals with increased public funding for research, which would save us gazillions. I believe he goes farther than that for other industries as well (e.g. software, Hollywood), as he identifies intellectual property as the one of the chief mechanisms of upward wealth transfer. He likes that approach better as a leveling mechanism than things like Warren and Bernie’s wealth tax, which the rich will likely evade.

        1. Having seen both academic research and industrial research first-hand, I am not very sanguine on the former producing anywhere near the innovation in terms of field-able products compared to the latter.

          No one is going to put in the (extensive) money and time and personal energy into something for which there is no pay-off. Opportunity cost (in cash and in one’s own life’s time).*

          My company gives (not insubstantial) cash awards for patent filings. This is a powerful motivator.

          New patent filings are a direct gauge of innovation.

          I can see state (federal+state) funding of pharmaceutical research. Great idea. But as a full substitute for private IP? I’m not seeing how that will work.

          New antibiotics are a case in point. They are used for short periods and tend to become useless due to resistance in the target organism. Mush more money to be made in chronic, new drugs, for things like diabetes. (This is where, contra libertarianism, some manipulation of the market is called for.)

          There the government can (and is) providing funding for the research and development of new antibiotics. (I recommend Superbugs by Matt McCarthy.)

          There is asshole behavior around IP, no doubt. IP accumulators come to mind immediately. Thayze dickheads everywhere.

          (* Almost no one will work nearly as hard “for the good of the people” or “for the good of humankind” or whatever slogan you want to plug in there.

          Kind of like expecting teachers (with student loan debt, their own kids lives that they want to be part of, with a desire to some day retire, living on a low salary) to become “super teachers” and perform surrogate parenting of their charges, spending their lives with other people’s children, instead of their own. This is not realistic.)

          1. “Having seen both academic research and industrial research first-hand, I am not very sanguine on the former producing anywhere near the innovation in terms of field-able products compared to the latter.”

            What is it–something like 40% of the US economy is based on quantum theory–e.g. transistors.
            I don’t recall Planck, Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg, Schrodinger, Dirac, Feynman nor any of the others had been working on building a better (electronic??) mouse-trap.

            1. Which reminds me of an exchange during a mechanical engineering final exam.

              Student: “Can we ignore friction in the bearings?”

              Prof: “No, all the frictionless bearings are kept in the physics department, down the hall.”


              I don’t recall any pharmaceutical or medical device or consumer/industrial electronics products brought to market by: Planck, Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg, Schrodinger, Dirac, Feynman.

              But, I could well be wrong about them never doing so.

              The idea that developing the theory and publishing a paper on it brings a product to market or even advances that research and development work towards that at all, aside from pointing the direction is — hmmm.

              If you’re saying that theoretical work is important and product R&D is trivial, then my comment would be that you can’t have worked in R&D on regulated products.

              Until something is available to public, it doesn’t have much of an impact.

              The discussion was related to developing pharmaceutical products that are useful in protecting human health. It was a discussion on the practical means of doing so.

              Obviously, the focuses of academic research and product R&D are very different. Which was basically the point I was making.

              1. Actually Einstein himself had several inventions and attempts at commercialization–see Isaacson’s very good biography.

                But that’s beside the point:
                “If you’re saying that theoretical work is important and product R&D is trivial..”
                Not intended or said at all by me.

                To be specific, it is the phoney symmetry of that parallel between applied and pure research which gets up my nose.
                There are a lot more people of Shockley’s talent than of those pure researchers I mentioned. But still not many–Shockley himself, inventor of the transistor (and big jerk with his racist views of course), had actually a very clear and sensible view of the relationship between the two sides of research.
                Even if everyone in the world had worked on trying to invent the transistor for several millenia, they would have made exactly zero progress with nobody left to figure out basic quantum physics.
                So speaking as though there is symmetry there is completely misleading, and short term thinking which politicians engage in to get elected all the time.
                The US is not alone in this anti-intellectual attitude, but has always suffered some of that. The contrast between 1960 and 2020 in this respect is quite depressing. I’ve been involved and a (hopefully) mature adult at both these times, even lived in Newark and Chicago for a few years way back, supported somewhat by USian taxpayers.

              2. phoffman56, I would click “like” on your comment, if it were possible.

                I agree with everything you wrote there, except that no one would have invented the transistor.

                It would have taken longer, sure; but people are active little monkeys and we invented lots of things without understanding the underlying biology, chemistry, physics. Work in electronics was exploding in the mid-20th century. Of course, we don’t get to rerun history (thank goodness).

                My experience has often been with PhDs in the engineering world. Until I came to my current employer, I could count on 40% of one hand the number that were outstanding engineers, who could get things done and done well. The rest could never seem to escape “analysis paralysis”.

                Nothing against PhDs, of course; but my experience has been poor. Others’ mileage will vary.

                (This has also permanently directed me away from pursuing further degrees, though I could have done so, tuition-free. Too old now, anyway.)

                My main point is (and I think you agree): Doing academic research work does not mean you are going to be inclined and skilled in doing the work to develop, verify, and safely market a product. Which, for the general public, is where the rubber hits the road.

                We need both skill sets. Both should be recognized as important.

                I have read Einstein and loved it; and it turned me on to Isaacson’s work, with much enjoyment coming from that. I did not (and still do not) remember his inventions. The early 20th century was a very different time for such combinations (theoretical inventors). And Einstein was, well, effing Einstein. 🙂 (This is to the side; but I find an Australian movie, Young Einstein, hilarious. I recommend giving it a try. Great sound track too.)

                Bell Labs of the mid-20th century was very fruitful and fairly unique. The cash brought in by the telephone monopoly allowed this thing to exist. Since the 1980s raiding of the funds of large companies, few companies can fund undirected research anymore. (My employer does a little of this; but it’s not purely undirected. It has to be related to what the company does for a living.) We need publicly-funded institutions for that. Let’s hope the GOP don’t succeed it effing those institutions up.


              3. Yes, Isaacson writes well. I never read the Winston Churchill biography, but the more recent Leonardo was also good (for me, anyway, a moron w.r.t. visual art). Now I have a 3rd historical Italian hero to go with Galileo and Verdi. Somehow no popes.

                When we meet up with ‘outer space intelligent aliens’, perhaps we’ll learn of the transistor invented with no understanding of how it works. Unlikely I think.

  33. Sanders has a better than even chance of getting the nomination, though Biden will make a run. If Sanders is the nominee, Trump will handily defeat Sanders in the general…not by Reagan/Mondale margins, more like Bush/Duakis margins. The popular vote will be closer.

  34. I live in Spartanburg, South Carolina. I have the most-comprehensive Medicare plan and the least-expensive prescription coverage. The whole package costs me about $375 a month.

    A recent hospital consolidation resulted in the laying off of the internist who had been my primary care physician for several years. She was very good, and I tried to follow her to her new job. The new place, being owned by competitor Humana, wouldn’t accept my Blue Cross Medigap insurance.

    I asked some friends for recommendations and tried to sign up with a doctor that sounded good. Turns out that the wait was six months for new patients (I sucked it up and waited). I had a similar experience getting a new-patient appointment with a dermatologist. I’ve found that lots of doctors aren’t taking new patients at all.

    A few years ago I had surgery to repair an inguinal hernia, and the whole process only took a couple of weeks.

    We have an odd system, high on technology and often crappy and unpredictable with delivery.

    1. My own experience in a similar situation is different. I’m on Medicare. The doctor I’ve had for the past 15 years or so decided to move his practice to western suburbs of Milwaukee (I live near Lake Michigan), too far for me to reasonably follow. I had the pick of a dozen or so other doctors at the clinic I’ve been going to but went to a doc at another local clinic based on my old doctor’s recommendation. It was all quite easy in my case.

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