Photo of the day

From an In Focus animals in the news gallery:

A macaque monkey catches knives as it works with a trainer at the Qilingang Monkey Farm on February 2, 2016, in Baowan village, Xinye County, Henan Province, China. The area boasts a centuries-long and lucrative history of raising and training monkeys for performance. In Xinye, villagers are seeing an increase in business with the lunar calendar’s “Year of the Monkey.” Farmers say most of the monkeys are bred and raised for domestic zoos, circuses, and performing groups, but add that some are also sold for medical research in China and the United States. Despite the popularity of the tradition, critics contend the training methods and conditions constitute animal cruelty.

Kevin Frayer / Getty

Why it matters that Bernie Sanders is not actually a Democrat

Obviously, Bernie Sanders is running for the nomination of the Democratic Party and he has been working and voting closely with Democrats in Congress for years.  But that doesn’t make him a Democrat.  And that matters.  Paul Starr in the Atlantic:

Sanders and his supporters see the party support for Clinton as evidence that “the establishment” is against him. But there are two other interpretations. What party leaders necessarily care about is winning the next election. They look at the electability of the presidential candidate as it affects the electoral prospects of candidates at all levels, including their own. The endorsement primary is a symptom of deep anxiety about what Sanders would do to the entire party’s fortunes in November…

Sanders has left a long trail of denunciations of the Democratic Party. He began on the revolutionary left; in 1980, he served as an elector for the Socialist Workers’ Party, founded by Leon Trotsky and committed to nationalizing major industries. In 1989 he said the Democrats and Republicans were “in reality, one party—the party of the ruling class.” That year he wrote an op-ed in the New York Times describing the two parties as “tweedle-dee” and “tweedle-dum” since both subscribed to what he called an “ideology of greed and vulgarity.” As the Republican Party has moved to the right, Sanders has said the Democrats are better, but he has refused to run as a Democrat and continued to insist—as late as the 2012 election—that he is not a Democrat because the party fails to support the interests of workers…

Though he refers to “Wall Street” and “big corporations” in his current campaign rather than to “the ruling class,” his attacks on Democrats are basically the same as before. They’re just focused on Clinton now. But what he says about her he could just as easily say about most Democrats running for Congress or in the states—and they surely know it…

To people on the left who have long attacked both parties, Sanders’s disdain for Democrats may not be a problem. But it would be a remarkable and difficult situation for any party to go into an election with a presidential nominee so at odds with its other candidates.  [emphases mine]

And Michael Tomasky:

A party’s nominee, to these people, needs to lead the party—he or she needs to be the country’s No. 1 Democrat. Sanders has never been a Democrat, which is fine, it’s served him well. But even as he made the decision to seek the presidency as a Democrat, he doesn’t seem to have made any effort to act like he cares about the party he wants to lead…

Now, my argument is not that endorsements matter that much. Rather, the important part is the likely consequence of this lack of support. Say it’s late spring, and somehow or another, Sanders is charging toward the nomination. He’ll pick up some more Democratic endorsers, in safe liberal districts in states that he won. But here’s what’s going to happen. Every one of those roughly 3,200 elected officials is going to conduct a poll of his or her district to ascertain whether association with Sanders helps or hurts. It’s my guess that for a lot of them—and I would say the substantial majority of them—the answer is going to be “hurts.”

And even if that’s not the case, these legislators will sound out, as they inevitably do, their top donors, and their districts’ major employers. How many Sanders enthusiasts are going to be found among those two groups? These legislators will keep their distance from Sanders. They won’t do the things that party people normally do for their nominee—go out and make speeches, share voter information, give tips about the district that only they know, and so on…

Having never been a Democrat, and having even not given them any of his money in this past year, Sanders just isn’t going to get much help from Democrats…

And now, here’s where my first and second reasons relate to each other. If a nominee has strong backing from his party, when those attacks come, the other folks will have his back. If he doesn’t, they won’t. Mind you it is not my intent here to scold Sanders, even though many readers will take it that way. My intent is just to describe what I think would be the reality. When the right started savaging Sanders over foreign policy (and over socialism too, of course), the bulk of the support systems that are usually there for a candidate under attack won’t be…

As I’ve written before, current general election head-to-head polling is meaningless, since conservatives haven’t yet spent a dollar attacking him. If he’s the nominee, they’re going to spend at least five hundred million of them doing that. And some Democrats, more likely a lot of Democrats, are going to run away from him. I can’t see how that ends well.

Yeah, all that.  Everything else aside, it really would be preposterous for a major political party to choose as it’s nominee somebody who has spent a lifetime in politics assiduously refusing to openly identify with that party.

North Carolina re-districting

So, because it seemed there was a clear racial bias in North Carolina’s current gerrymander, it’s been sent back for the legislature to give it another whack.  WRAL:

Republican lawmakers on Wednesday rolled out a proposed reconfiguration of North Carolina’s 13 U.S. House districts after federal judges ruled two of the current districts were unconstitutionally drawn based on voters’ race.1

The General Assembly is under a Friday deadline to reconfigure the maps after a three-judge panel on Feb. 5 invalidated the 1st Congressional District and the 12th Congressional District.

Although GOP leaders hold out hope that the U.S. Supreme Court will stay the judges’ order and allow the March 15 primary to proceed under the map that has been in place for five years, Gov. Pat McCrory called a special legislative session for Thursday morning to approve the new map.

I imagine the new districts may be marginally better, but I’m sure Republicans have a plan that preserves their 10-3 advantage in Congressional representation in a state that basically votes 50-50 for Congress.  Now that’s what you call a gerrymander.  Yes, Democrats do it, too (though, rarely this good), but that sure doesn’t make it right.

Great FB commentary from my friend and long-time reformer of election laws, Damon Circosta:

For those of you following the saga of our state lawmakers redrawing maps, I want to say something before the moment passes and our collective attention turns elsewhere. For years now, whenever the republican map drawers talked about what they did, they were sure to mention that it was “fair and legal”. It was bizarre how much fidelity they have to that phrase. Fair and legal. On repeat. In lockstep.

Tomorrow our legislature will go into emergency session and begin voting on hastily drawn new maps because a court said their “fair and legal” maps weren’t legal. Without getting into the nitty gritty of the voting rights act, let’s leave aside the legal aspect and let’s talk about fair. Is it fair to use the power to draw voting boundaries to stack the deck in your favor? Many of the folks who are doing it now didn’t think so when they were in the minority. Back then they were right there with me supporting legislation to do away with gerrymandering. Is it fair to claim at every turn that “the Democrats did it too”? Well sure, I suppose it is fair to call out past transgressions… But that’s only if you are working to improve matters, not justify your own wrongful behavior. My children learned that before they started kindergarten.[emphases mine] Is it fair to further erode our collective confidence in the political system so that you can be insulated from voter dismay over the laws you pass regarding our schools, our healthcare system and our environment?

These new maps that are getting drawn up this week in a slapdash fashion may or may not be legal. But fair they are not. No matter how many times you say it.

My only complaint?  It’s taken my kids well past kindergarten to learn this lesson :-).

%d bloggers like this: