Sanders, Wyden fight to keep survival checks from being cut by ridiculous austerity arguments

Democrats are having a public fight over something that really matters: how much assistance hurting people are going to get from them in survival checks. It's a stupid fight, summed up best by Sen. Bernie Sanders:

Unbelievable. There are some Dems who want to lower the income eligibility for direct payments from $75,000 to $50,000 for individuals, and $150,000 to $100,000 for couples. In other words, working class people who got checks from Trump would not get them from Biden. Brilliant!

— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) February 7, 2021

He's not alone in this with powerful support from Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, the new chair of the Finance Committee. The other side is being spearheaded by Sen. Joe Manchin, with back-up from Mitch McConnell's favorite "bipartisan" water carrier, Sen. Susan Collins. They're trying to keep payments from what they call "high-earning" families.

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Look at how Manchin explains this: "An individual of $40,000 income or $50,000 income would receive it. And a family who is making $80,000 or $100,000, not to exceed $100,000, would receive it," Manchin said. "Anything over that would not be eligible, because they are the people who really are hurting right now and need the help the most." Who's missing there? Yeah, everybody making more than $50,001. So he's not even arguing in good faith here, couching this as cutting off payments at $80,000 when that's not what he wants to do.

The gap between $50,000 and $80,000 includes a lot of people who, as Sanders says, got two checks already from the Trump administration and are expecting the third one everybody is talking about, a point also made by Wyden: "I understand the desire to ensure those most in need receive checks, but families who received the first two checks will be counting on a third check to pay the bills." That's so glaringly apparent that it's hard to understand there is any constituency for this fight, including in the White House.

It gets even worse when you drill down to find out where the impetus for the cut comes from, as David Dayen has done at The American Prospect. The debate is being driven by a paper from Harvard economics professor Raj Chetty and others which showed higher-income households not spending the last, $600 round of checks immediately. Dayen uncovers the fact that the Chetty research is not on household-level income data. Instead, data for about 10% of U.S. credit and debit card activity sorted into ZIP codes by the address associated with the card. Those ZIP codes are then grouped "using 2014-2018 ACS (The Census Bureau’s American Community Survey) estimates of ZIP Code median household income," according to the appendix in the Chetty paper. So, as Dayen says, the conclusion that low-income people spent their checks immediately while higher-income people did not, "is by saying that ZIP codes that had lower-income people in them between three and seven years ago contained a higher level of immediate spending than ZIP codes with higher-income people during this period." A period before the pandemic.

That's a damned big supposition. Claudia Sahm, a former Federal Reserve and Council of Economic Advisers economist, tells Dayen, "I think the paper is unsuitable for the policy discussion. […] It's one paper at odds with 20 years of research. […] I know the sampling error has to be in the thousands of dollars, there's no way it’s that precise." What's even worse about this paper is that they didn't even disclose the out-of-date ZIP code basis for their data until late last week, more than a week after it had been highlighted in the traditional media and started taking hold. It's still out there, with The New York Times opinion page giving Chetty and colleagues space to continue their badly sourced argument.

All that's aside from the larger argument: we're in the middle of a global pandemic and the economy is in tatters—just spend the money helping as many people as possible and worry about sorting out who should have to pay any of it back later. Because the need is so great and this isn't a time to skimp. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said as much, and thankfully appears not to be so much on board with this push to reduce payments, though the White House has been vaguely supportive. "The exact details of how it should be targeted are to be determined, but struggling middle-class families need help, too," Yellen said on CNN this weekend. Asked if she thinks the targeting should be higher than $50,000 per person but less than $75,000, Yellen responded: "Yes, I—I think the details can be worked out. And the president is certainly willing to work with Congress to find a good structure for these payments."

There's also this: they're still going to base the payments on 2019 income unless they have 2020 income filed by the time the relief bill is passed. Which means you need to file immediately if you've had a big drop in income. Which means the IRS is going to be flooded with returns at the same time it's trying to make income determinations and trying to determine who gets what. But at least there is the recognition that a lot of people did not have the same income in 2020 as 2019.

Again, the survival checks have been means-tested already, with the first rounds of checks phasing out starting at $75,000 based on out-of-date data. Compounding that is this new argument based on really bad and irrelevant information. Not that what anybody does with their survival checks really matters right now, anyway. Worry about saving the maximum amount of people possible. That will make the economy come back stronger and faster and then the rest can be sorted out, if necessary, with tax reform.

Democrats ditch Republicans on COVID-19 relief, start budget reconciliation process

House Democrats are moving forward on a COVID-19 relief bill, preparing to ditch the Senate Republicans and provide critical relief to the American people without them. Initial votes could come as soon as next week, and President Joe Biden has signed off on using the procedure—budget reconciliation—to get his relief package through as Republicans in the Senate continue to obstruct.

"Reconciliation is a means of getting a bill passed. There are a number of means of getting bills passed. That does not mean, regardless of how the bill is passed, that Democrats and Republicans cannot both vote for it," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. "So the president obviously wants to make this bipartisan, hence he's engaging with members of both parties and he remains committed to that." House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth said Monday that he is preparing the reconciliation instructions for the package, and is even going to include Biden's $15/hour minimum wage increase, even though that's a "stretch" in his words to qualify under the rules for the procedure.

Budget reconciliation became a thing as an optional procedure under the Congressional Budget Act of 1974. That act requires Congress to come up with a budget resolution every year, and that resolution can instruct the committees to craft bills that would reconcile current law with the decided-upon budget plan. The main advantage of legislation developed with it is that it is considered under expedited procedures on both the House and Senate, and it is not subject to the 60-vote threshold in the Senate that has killed everything good any Democratic president has tried to do since 2008. It begins with a resolution that instructs the relevant committees in both the House and Senate to draw up legislation to meet a budget specified within the resolution—the bill that the committees finalize must either reduce or increase the federal deficit by no less or no more than the resolution determines. Anything included in the legislation after it is combined, or reconciled, by the House and Senate has to thus change either spending or revenue. Sort of. Budge reconciliations can't touch Social Security, they can't increase the deficit in a 10-year window, and they are limited to federal spending or revenue. Mostly.

The "sort of" and "mostly" as a limit in the Senate's rather expansive power to decide what it wants, one has a simple majority. The Congressional Budget Office and the Senate parliamentarian act as the referees for the process, the CBO making the budget projections and the parliamentarian ruling what provisions can be included depending on the degree to which a provisions budget impact is "incidental"—does it impact spending or revenue—or not. If the Parliamentarian rules it incidental under the Byrd rules (a tightening up of the process spearheaded by then-Sen. Robert Byrd in 1958), then it comes out. That is unless the president of the Senate, the person sitting in the chair who in this case would be Vice President Kamala Harris, overrules the parliamentarian. That hasn't happened frequently, but we also haven't been in a global pandemic that's crippling the economy frequently.

One authority on the federal budget and Senate rules believes that even the minimum wage increase could be passed in reconciliation, along with the rest of the provisions—including another round of direct $1,400 payments, increasing and extending emergency unemployment benefits, hundreds of billions in aid to state and local government and schools, funding for vaccine production and distribution, expanding testing and tracing, as well as other proposals. Bill Dauster, who served as deputy chief of staff to former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, "said in a guest op-ed column for CQ Roll Call that a minimum wage boost has enough budgetary impact to be considered under the Byrd rule."

Now that McConnell has caved to allow the Senate to organize, the committees can start the work of drafting their components of the reconciliation bill. There's a hard deadline for them to get it accomplished—another unemployment cliff in March, because that's as long as Senate Republicans would let that go. There's also that matter of an impeachment hearing that begins in a couple of weeks. The House, Yarmuth said Monday, is on it: "we will be prepared to go to the floor as early as next week."

Your blow-by-blow recap of the 10th Democratic debate, with a little help from Twitter

The 10th Democratic presidential primary debate kicked off in Charleston, South Carolina, ahead of that state’s primary on Saturday. Norah O’Donnell, anchor of “CBS Evening News,” and Gayle King, co-host of “CBS This Morning,” were the main moderators, but were joined mid-debate by “Face the Nation” moderator Margaret Brennan, “60 Minutes”’ Bill Whitaker, and CBS News chief Washington, D.C. correspondent Major Garrett. 

With Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders the current frontrunner after three strong finishes in Iowa, New Hampshire, and particularly in Nevada, former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg buying his way into every market, and former Vice President banking on South Carolina to keep his campaign alive, there is a LOT at stake in the Palmetto State, which will is the first of the early states with a significant black voting population.

Let’s dig right in—but be warned: The tension was high and the candidates have stopped being polite, and started getting real. Yes, that’s a MTV’s Real World  reference, but it really was quite hectic on that stage.

can someone get these dingdongs some jeopardy buzzers or something

— Mike Case (@MikeACase) February 26, 2020

CAN PROGRESSIVE IDEALS FIGHT TRUMP IN A “GOOD” ECONOMY?

Sanders got the first question, which positively framed the current economy and asked the Vermont senator how he thought he “can do better” than Donald Trump. Sanders was quick to note that the current economy only benefits people like Bloomberg, before listing several realities that millions of Americans currently face.

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Bloomberg got the rebuttal and deflected the economy talk to bring up recent intelligence that indicates Russia aims to support Sanders’ candidacy. The audience erupted in “oohs” reminiscent of the “Jerry Springer Show.” Sanders, clearly disgusted by Bloomberg’s statement, alluded to the billionaire’s relationship with China and vowed to shut down Putin as president. 

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren chimed in, asserting that progressive ideals are clearly popular now, and that while she and Sanders agree on a lot of issues, she’s got the plans to actually get it done—with a side note about the attacks she’s been fielding from the Sanders campaign.

Buttigieg was next, and said that Russia wants chaos. He then asked people to imagine a campaign that pitted Sanders vs. Trump, and what that political climate might do to our country between now and November. He then acknowledged the progressive wing of the party before demanding that a different tone was needed.

The other billionaire on the stage, Tom Steyer, asserted that he agrees with Sanders’ analysis of, but not his solutions to current issues. He then vowed to end corporate control of the government, while still keeping a robust private sector in place. 

Former Vice President Joe Biden brought up Sanders’ gun voting record against the Brady Bill in particular, implying that it enabled Dylann Roof’s deadly 2015 attack at the Mother Emanuel A.M.E. church near the debate venue; he also brought up recent oppo research that revealed Sanders once considered primarying Barack Obama in 2012. 

�I�m not saying he�s responsible for the nine dead.,� says Biden, the nicest thing anyone has said about Bernie so far.

� Dan Froomkin/PressWatchers.org (@froomkin) February 26, 2020

Sanders noted that Buttigieg has accepted billionaire donations. Buttigieg used it as an opportunity to entice grassroots voters to donate via his website.

Biden was asked why his support was dropping in South Carolina. He voiced his long relationship with the state before stating that he intended to win the state on Tuesday. King asked him if he’d drop out if he didn’t—and Biden repeated that he would win.

BLOOMBERG: IS HE RISKY? HOW ‘BOUT STOP AND FRISKY?

Bloomberg was then asked what exactly he’s apologizing for when he apologizes for Stop and Frisk. He repeated the false talking point that he stopped using it by 95% when he “realized” it was a bad practice, before attempting to segue into a different topic.

Bloomberg did not �cut back� stop and frisk. He continues to lie about this, and it�s disturbing. A judge ruled stop and frisk unconstitutional. Bloomberg fought for *years* defending the policy, and only reversed course when he decided to run for president.

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 26, 2020

King pushed back on the topic—though not the facts—and Bloomberg asserted that people are only talking about Stop and Frisk because it benefits their campaigns, before rattling off several of his other accomplishments as mayor of New York City, including another lie—that he supported teachers.

So - Bloomberg was in an all out war with the teachers union in NYC for years. If you call them as Bloomberg suggested you will get quite an earful.

— Eliza Shapiro (@elizashapiro) February 26, 2020

When asked, “mayor to mayor,” if Stop and Frisk was racist, Buttigieg agreed that it was, quoting Bloomberg’s comment that “white people were being stopped too often.” Stopping just short of owning his own controversy with black people and the police in South Bend, the former mayor noted that it was weird to be talking about racial justice as one of seven white people on the stage, listing a bunch of racist and harsh experiences that people of color have.

Pete's outreach to black voters getting a little desperate pic.twitter.com/DefnSKYwou

— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) February 26, 2020

Bloomberg then piped in with the newsflash that his life would have been harder if he’d been black, and vowed to do more than “just demagogue” about it. Klobuchar was asked about race next; after quoting MLK, she vowed to protect voter rights nationwide.

Warren was asked about her characterization of Bloomberg as the “riskiest” Democratic primary candidate. She confirmed she still feels that way before pointing out all key races he’s thrown his money and voice into, including his support of her own opponent and Sen. Lindsey Graham, and said no Democrats would accept him as the nominee.

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Bloomberg said he’s been training for the presidency since 9/11; Warren shared her oft-repeated story of workplace discrimination while pregnant before invoking the “Kill it!” allegation against Bloomberg—to boos from his supporters.

�Mike Bloomberg has on repeated occasions faced and fought allegations that he directed crude and sexist comments to women in his office, including a claim in the 1990s that he told an employee who had just announced she was pregnant to "kill it."� https://t.co/MVc30HsNjp pic.twitter.com/w9kwzvbBcG

— Mona Eltahawy (@monaeltahawy) December 16, 2019

Bloomberg denied the allegation before noting that Warren wouldn’t have been fired for being pregnant in today’s New York City. Warren then repeated her call for the billionaire to release his former employees from their NDAs. He was then asked if he was wrong to make “jokes,” or if the women just took them wrong. Yes, that was an actual question.

After saying he did not recall the jokes, Bloomberg noted that since the Nevada debate, he’d released three women from their NDAs and his company would no longer use them, saying that, for Warren, “enough is never enough.”

Still thinking about Bloomberg saying about Warren, �The trouble is with this senator, enough is never enough.� Which basically is the equivalent of �Nevertheless she persisted.� ������

— Meena Harris (@meenaharris) February 26, 2020

Instead of stopping there, Bloomberg then said that he’d changed the world and corporations everywhere by banning the NDAs. Warren was then asked what her basis was for the “serious” allegation, and she cited the woman’s “own words.” Bloomberg insisted again that he never said “Kill it” to a pregnant employee.

FUNDING PROGRESSIVE DREAMS

O’Donnell asked Sanders about the math on his proposals, saying he can only pay for “about half” of his proposals. Naming recent research from the Lancet, which endorsed the financial and human impact of Medicare for All, he started to list potential revenue streams to fund it—starting with a payroll tax. He was cut off by Klobuchar, who cited different data and Sanders’ own recent “60 Minutes” interview. Calling his plans “a bunch of broken promises on a bumper sticker,” she touted her own proposals.

All hell broke loose right about then, as Sanders tried to respond, Buttigieg started shouting soundbites over him, and Steyer entered the fray for the first time. 

Out of control! WTH #DemDebate

— Andrew Gillum (@AndrewGillum) February 26, 2020

Sanders was given the chance to respond. He said that Buttigieg’s program was more expensive both financially and with regards to human impact. More chaos ensued before Steyer declared that Democrats are on the cusp of either choosing a “democratic socialist or a lifetime Republican,” and thus handing Trump the win. Bringing up economic, racial, and climate justice, the philanthropist fought for his last seconds on the clock when the moderators tried to silence him.

Buttigieg promised that with Sanders as the nominee, we were facing four more years with Trump, Kevin McCarthy as Speaker, and the continued GOP control of the Senate; he then entreated candidates to pay attention to who was behind the Blue Wave of 2018. 

Biden came in hot, noting that the majority of those Blue Wave folks were supporting him for president, and calling out Sanders for few accomplishments in his lifelong tenure in Congress, and Steyer for owning private prisons that he knew were toxic, citing harmful policies in both South Carolina and Georgia. When Steyer angrily protested his innocence, Biden shut him down.

Joe Biden ate his Wheaties this morning. #DemDebate

— Imani Gandy (@AngryBlackLady) February 26, 2020

The shouting resumed; Steyer insisted that he didn’t know about his prisons’ atrocities and sold them as soon as he learned of them. He then declared his commitment to racial justice. Klobuchar got the floor by shouting over the fray. She then explained that she’s far more effective when it comes to legislation than Warren or Sanders, before noting that many promises have been broken to the African American community by our society.

Bloomberg than noted that he helped fund half of the Blue Wave Democrats, to an audible grunt from Buttigieg. 

wait, did Bloomberg just refer to the new House Democratic majority by saying **�I bought that?�**

— Amanda Fischer (@amandalfischer) February 26, 2020

The former mayor then echoed the same story about Sanders vs. Trump that the other moderates told, namely that he’ll lose and commit the nation to four more years of the madman in the White House. Sanders was greeted by boos when he said only billionaires supported Bloomberg before highlighting his diverse coalition as a counter to the former New York mayor’s prediction that moderates will never vote for him. Warren then asserted that she too has popular progressive plans that will unite moderates, stressing that she knows how to pay for them all.

Then, 38 minutes in, it was time for our first glorious break!

NEW MODERATORS, SAME LACK OF GUN REFORM

The new moderators joined O’Donnell and King, who circled back to Biden, who had been the first to bring up the Mother Emanuel A.M.E church massacre of 2015. She asked why anyone should believe he can finally get meaningful gun reform through Congress. Calling out Sanders’ gun stances, while listing his gun control accomplishments going back to the 90s, Biden asserted that he was the only one on the stage who’d gotten gun legislation through in the past, end promised gun manufacturers that “I’m coming for you.”

Warren used the topic as an opportunity to voice her support to end the filibuster in order to push through gun reform.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren talks about her plan for passing gun safety legislation as President. #DemDebate pic.twitter.com/MaJD0XBAc3

— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) February 26, 2020

Sanders was then asked why, out of all the industries he’s gone after, gun manufacturers get a pass. Sanders admitted his vote to shield gun manufacturers from wrongful death lawsuits was “a bad vote,” careful to point out Biden has a few bad votes in his history. He then touted his D- rating with the NRA.

Bloomberg then cited his funding of the gun reform groups Moms Demand Action and Everytown before Klobuchar noted that she wrote the bill that closes the “boyfriend” loophole. She then invoked her ability to win Midwestern voters, again citing her dear “Uncle Dick in the deer stand.”

Noting Sanders’ refusal to support the ending of the filibuster, Buttigieg explained that he was in high school for Columbine and waited for the government to fix things so it never happened again. They never did. Buttigieg next invoked his military experience as giving him an understanding of what guns can do. 

Sanders again invoked his D- NRA rating before Steyer brought up popular polling for gun reform and the Senate’s endless blocking of it. He segued his support of term limits as a way to get McConnell, Ted Cruz, and Graham out. 

EDUCATION FOR THE NATION

Whitaker brought up the education gap among white and black students in South Carolina. Citing Bloomberg’s heavy-handed expansion of charter schools in New York, he asked if he’d expand them nationwide. Bloomberg claimed that New York’s charter schools are some of the top in the nation, but he couldn’t speak to whether or not such expansion would work nationwide.

Warren boldly stated that her Secretary of Education would be a former public school teacher, who would eliminate high-stakes testing and keep public funds in public schools. She also noted that “education is not free,” and that an investment in education was necessary.

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Sanders went further, by naming several of the policies that they agree upon, including universal pre-K and free college tuition. He cited his funding plan—taxing “Wall Street speculation”—clearly in a preemptive strike against criticism of his lack of funding plans.

Noting that he was married to a public school teacher, Buttigieg brought up the fact that teachers are expected to defend their classrooms from gun violence. Warren tried to keep the education discussion going, but Garrett jumped in with the first Twitter-sourced question of the day.

Klobuchar got the first chance to respond: How will she help minimum wage workers with housing and education equity. Klobuchar focused on affordable housing in urban and rural areas. Warren cut her off, pointing out that race-neutral housing policies don’t acknowledge redlining, with a quick jab at Bloomberg for blaming its end for the 2008 crash. 

�We can no longer pretend that everything is race neutral� @ewarren nails it!!! I�m tired of this �I don�t see race BS�.... #WokeAF #DemDebate2020 if your plans don�t incorporate people of color throw them TF out! Period.

— DanielleMoodie-Mills (@DeeTwoCents) February 26, 2020

Bloomberg denied that he supported redlining, despite that not being the question, before pausing for a failed joke about winning the last debate. He then segued awkwardly to his early support of marriage equality.

pic.twitter.com/hTf7IGWd1f

— Rob Flaherty (@Rob_Flaherty) February 26, 2020

Biden was then asked why black voters should believe he can change centuries of inequality. The former vice president focused on supporting black entrepreneurship and first time homeowners, as well as a pushback against gentrification and the institutionalized devaluing of homes in communities of color. While talking about dismantling institutional racism, he was cut off by moderators. Biden then openly declared that his signature politeness about time limits was a thing of the past in this debate.

Sen. @AmyKlobuchar (D-MN) reacts as former Vice President @JoeBiden and @TomSteyer get into it during the South Carolina Democratic presidential primary debate #DemDebate2020 �: @WinMc pic.twitter.com/HL92lONWFH

— Getty Images News (@GettyImagesNews) February 26, 2020

Steyer explained his banking approach to affordable housing, then asserted that he’s the only candidate open to establishing on commission on reparations, but moderators squashed all other attempts to discuss it—O’Donnell even demanded that candidates “respect the rules of the debate.”

Sigh. I like Tom Steyer. I think he could be so useful. Just not on this stage.

— Tiffany Cross (@TiffanyDCross) February 26, 2020

She then lobbed a question at Klobuchar, about health care access in rural areas. Klobuchar spoke about making it easier for better and more doctors to get their education, and for immigrant doctors to come to the U.S.

Buttigieg was next, saying that there was no difference between life expectancies along rural and urban Americans when he was born, but there is now. He then cited his Douglass Plan’s voting rights act before Sanders brought up the tenets of his Medicare for All plan that support rural health care. 

Bloomberg admitted that what works in New York won’t work everywhere (via a Naked Cowboy joke) before he asserted the value of science, and noting that his policies shaped the nation’s policies. He specifically cited the city’s indoor smoking bans as an example, conveniently omitting the fact that California banned smoking in public places in 1995, while New York City got there eight years later. He also pointed out the crisis at the CDC that Trump’s created.

Biden explained his plan to expand the National Institutes of Health, insisting that it would have bipartisan support, before Klobuchar was asked if it marijuana conviction expunging was realistic; after citing the importance of process, she agreed that it could be done. Bloomberg was less eager to legalize cannabis. saying that while he would not take legal weed away from states who had passed it, it was too soon to move on legalizing marijuana without doing the scientific due diligence about its effects, particularly on young minds.

Sanders then clarified the differences between narcotics and opiates versus marijuana and vowed to effectively legalize it, expunge convictions, and support people of color as they enter the legal-cannabis industry.  Biden began to assert that he wrote the “drug court” bill before it was time for yet another break!

Once again, shocking that a dem debate goes this far and does NOT mention Trump post impeachment purge, attacks on independent justice and intelligence, and just today Supreme Court justices...

— Susan Glasser (@sbg1) February 26, 2020

COMBAT, CORONAVIRUS, CHINA, AND CASTRO

Back from commercial, O’Donnell asked Warren about how bringing combat troops back from the Middle East will impact national security. Citing a need to use “all the tools in the toolbox,” Warren contrasted her multi-faceted foreign policy against Trump’s. Bloomberg was asked if he’d pull all combat troops, and he made a jab at George W. Bush and the Iraq War looking good on paper. 

As the only combat veteran on the stage, Buttigieg noted that he first visited South Carolina as a member of the military, just before he headed to the Middle East. He also focused on his own multi-pronged ideas, starting with restoring American credibility. 

Klobuchar was asked about the coronavirus: Should we close the border to those who have been exposed? Klobuchar didn’t answer, instead zooming in on the need to treat and quarantine those who are sick, agreeing with Bloomberg’s earlier assertion of Trump’s failure to properly support the work of the CDC. She then plugged the CDC website, noting that she could have given the one of her campaign instead. 

Biden was then asked what he would do. He invoked his work containing the Ebola virus during the Obama administration, including supporting and funding the CDC and NIH, also noting that he had the relationships with world leaders to get them to better cooperate.

After a Trump joke, Sanders essentially agreed with Biden. Bloomberg was then asked about his statements about working with Chinese president Xi Jinping, and asked if Chinese firms should be permitted to help build critical U.S. infrastructure. He vehemently asserted that he did not, but that he also planned to negotiate with Xi as president. Biden got the same question and also answered “No,” before noting that he had a relationship with him. Warren got the same question and, noting that Bloomberg had long relationships with China, brought up the billionaire’s tax returns, which have not been released, before saying that she would not work with China on infrastructure. 

Bloomberg, as in the last debate, said the tax returns were on their way, but fellow billionaire Steyer dismissed his excuse, saying he’d already released a decade of his own. He then brought up his commitment to combating climate change. Sanders got into a small bicker with the audience after noting that the communist Chinese had made great strides in education before saying that he wouldn’t work with authoritarians—all referencing former president Barack Obama, who once noted that authoritarian governments are bad thing but still could manage to do good things. Buttigieg took that as an opportunity to allude to the recent Sanders-Castro scandal, and offered general disdain for nostalgia for the mid- to late-1900s, but Sanders was not having it. 

Pete pretends to be intelligent, but pretending that the coups from the 1950s and 1960s don't have a bearing on today's foreign policy just shows that you're dumb as an effing rock. #DemDebate

— Jonathan "Boo and Vote" Cohn (@JonathanCohn) February 26, 2020

As the audience exploded, Klobuchar got in there to say that the whole conversation was the worst nightmare of a moderate, particularly in Super Tuesday states. Sanders responded by reminding her that he’s got the highest favorability scores among anyone on the stage.

Biden was then asked if he’d launch cyberattacks in retaliation if it was proven that Russia intervered in the 2020 election. Biden asserted that it’s already been proven they are interfering, it was proven they interfered in 2016, and that sanctions should be imposed now. Steyer then asked where Trump was in the face of the “hostile” acts of cyberwarfare, noting that Trump has sided with a hostile foreign power—getting the biggest applause of the night.

Sanders then was asked about being Jewish, and about Jews who might believe he is unsupportive of Israel; he was also asked if he’d move the U.S. Embassy from Jerusalem back to Tel Aviv. After calling out Benjamin Netayanhu for his corruption and evil deeds, Sanders voiced that he wouldn’t make any action as president without considering the Palestinians. Bloomberg, as the other Jew on the stage, vowed to leave the embassy where it was, and was cut off as he began to explain his own two-state solution.

American Jews overwhelmingly vote Democratic & are not single-issue voters who favor whatever is in the Israeli government's best interest. Acting like this isn't reality is deeply problematic

— Stephen Wolf (@PoliticsWolf) February 26, 2020

Warren agreed with Sanders that a two-state solution was essential, but that it’s not up to the United States, as allies, to decide what that looks like: It’s up to Israelis and Palestinians. She refused to answer further when pressed about moving the embassy. 

Klobuchar was then asked if she, like Trump, would meet with Kim Jong Un of North Korea. She said that she would, but not like Trump has, instead working with allies and having required deliverables. Biden said he would not work with any dictator; noting that Trump has given Jong Un, whom he called a “thug,” legitimacy. Despite his feisty promise to go over time, Biden stopped talking when moderators asked, noting that it must be his “Catholic school training” that made him do it.

The next Twitter question, which centered on the chaos in Idlib, Syria, which is facing violence at the hands of the Syrian regime and Russia, came to Buttigieg first; he cited military action, while Warren voiced a desire for anything but.

It was then time for the final break; King promised the final question would be a personal one, letting candidates share their “words to live by.”

A CORNY CLOSE: MOTTOS AND MISCONCEPTIONS

King asked the final question, a two-parter: What’s the biggest misconception about you, and what’s motto that describes you?

Steyer noted that he draws a cross on his hand every day, as a reminder “to tell the truth and do what’s right no matter what.” He said it’s untrue that he’s defined by his business success and money.

Tom Steyer doesn't want to be defined by his billions even though he's only on stage because of his billions. #DemDebate

— Secular Talk (@KyleKulinski) February 26, 2020

Klobuchar asserted that she is not boring before quoting Paul Wellstone; “Politics is about improving people’s lives.”

Biden didn’t offer a motto; rather he named several mottos about resilience and representation before vowing to put a black woman on the Supreme Court, to huge cheers. He also noted his loyalty. Biggest misconception? “I have more hair than I think I do.”

Sanders declared that “the ideas I’m talking about tonight are not radical,” he said. He quoted Nelson Mandela as his motto: “Everything is impossible until it happens.” 

Warren joked that she eats all the time as a joke; but the real misconception was that she’s always thought she was supposed to be president. She returned to Matthew 25 for her motto: “In as much as ye hath done int unto one these, the least of thy brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

Buttigieg said that the biggest misconception was that he’s not passionate, since he’s “kinda level”; his motto? “Of you would be a leader you should first be a servant.”

Bloomberg joked that people mistakenly believe that he’s six feet tall; his motto was his own word: “I’ve trained for this job for a long time, and when I get it, I’m going to do something, not just talk about it.”

"What is your motto?" BIDEN: Stay loyal WARREN: Be true to yourself BLOOMBERG: [mouth opens and money shoots out]

— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) February 26, 2020

O’Donnell then attempted to end the night—but King said there was time for more debate after the break … yet when they came back, O’Donnell then actually ended the debate.

Wait, did CBS seriously delay the conclusion of the debate to get in another commercial block? Truly insulting to viewers

— Matt McDermott (@mattmfm) February 26, 2020

Once all was said and done, it was hard to declare a clear “winner”; but talking time was a pretty evenly distributed, according to CNN, as long as you look past Sanders and Steyer, that is.

At the end of the #DemDebate, Sen. Bernie Sanders had a clear lead in speaking time with nearly 16 minutes, followed by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, all at more than 13 minutes. https://t.co/nSKHArYd3p pic.twitter.com/OSVt6Pc8NA

— CNN (@CNN) February 26, 2020

Fascism at CPAC, Bernie winning by being the least-weak, and more you might have missed

Doesn’t it feel like February is fully blurring together AND that it’s lasted about a decade? The New Hampshire primary was this week. THIS week. Feels like a month ago.

Anyway, here’s what you might have missed. 

Disgusted with Republicans? You don't have to wait until November—we can beat one next month

By David Nir

At moments like these, November can feel a long way off. But if you want to channel your disgust and your anger into productive action right now, there’s something you can do: Help elect union plumber Harold “Howie” Hayes to the Pennsylvania state House next month.

Of course, we can’t all help but be worried and paying attention to the huge presidential race in November, but we need to make sure that we’re fighting for progressives EVERYWHERE, ensuring that our candidates are getting the resources that they need. 

Howie’s race is particularly interesting. Please help out if you can, it’s one of the best ways that we can #resist. 

On March 17, the Keystone State will hold a special election in the 18th House District, located in the Philadelphia suburbs. The seat became vacant when its former representative won a different office last year—one of more than a dozen Republicans in the chamber who’ve decided to bail rather than seek re-election.

Better still, this area has a history of supporting Democrats at the top of the ticket: It voted for Hillary Clinton by a 53-44 margin in 2016, and supported Gov. Tom Wolf and Sen. Bob Casey by more than 20 points apiece in 2018. And here’s the key stat: Thanks to big gains two years ago, Democrats need to flip just nine seats to take control of the 203-member House this fall, despite the GOP’s extreme gerrymander. If we win in March, that figure shrinks to eight.

Sanders wins New Hampshire by being the least-weak of a suddenly weak field

By kos

In 2016, Bernie Sanders won roughly 50% of the Iowa vote (if not more; no popular vote was recorded). This year? His final vote was 26.5%, essentially halved.

In 2016, Sanders received 152,193 votes in New Hampshire in a 60-38 blowout of Hillary Clinton. This year, he barely eked out a one-point victory over small liberal college-town Mayor Pete Buttigieg, receiving only 75,690 votes, or 25.7% of the vote. Again, he lost half of his 2016 support.

Are you a Sanders supporter? Are you still on the fence? Here at Daily Kos, we are staunch Blue No Matter Who folks. That doesn’t mean that we’re not concerned about the current state of the primary. 

No white male has ever gotten 63 million votes in a presidential election. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton both hit 65 million. When our nominees look like our base, we perform better. But this latent fear of the white Republican voter, stoked by Biden, did a real disservice to the women in the race.  So he stomps into the race, when no one was asking for him, damages serious, credible candidates by dint of his name recognition, and then runs the most godawful campaign of the cycle, leaving nothing but a damaged legacy in its wake. Unbelievable.

Fascism: CPAC head warns Romney to stay away, saying he would fear for senator's 'personal safety'

By Hunter

It was easy to miss in all the [raises arms, gestures broadly in all directions], but on Sunday Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Chair and aggressive Trumpophile Matt Schlapp delivered a warning of sorts to Utah Sen. Mitt Romney: Not only are you not invited to this year's CPAC, Mitt, but it could be very bad for you if you dared show up.

Romney dared to do his job and follow his sense of values and ethics. Unfortunately, if you’re a Republican, you now face serious consequences for daring to have any sense of morals. 

"We won’t credential him as a conservative. I suppose if he wants to come as a non-conservative and debate an issue with us, maybe in the future we would have him come. This year, I’d actually be afraid for his physical safety, people are so mad at him," Schlapp told interviewer Greta Van Susteren.

What will Trump do if there is violence enacted toward a member of his own party who openly disagrees with him, like Romney? Do we have to look further than to remember how he treated Senator McCain? 

Indeed, CPAC is in many ways now the heart of the new Republican fascism. It has always been a den for the crackpots of the far-far-right, but that did not stop it in past years from becoming a must-stop speech location for conservative lawmakers, pundits, hangers-on and archconservative administration officials. The discussion has always been conspiratorial and angry, but in recent years has become more explicitly fascist in nature.

Great. Wonderful. Yikes. That’s no terrifying at all. …

House Judiciary Committee passes NO BAN Act to terminate Trump's Muslim ban

By Gabe Ortiz

The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday voted 22-10 to advance the NO BAN Act, which would terminate impeached president Donald Trump’s Muslim ban, to the full House floor. Politico reports that the vote was split along party lines, with Democrats voting in favor of ending this discriminatory policy, and Republicans voting in favor of continued state-sanctioned discrimination against Muslims.

Advocates cheered the bill’s passage in committee, with the executive director of the civil rights organization Muslim Advocates, Farhana Khera, saying in a statement, “This historic bill could be the first ever passed by a chamber of Congress to specifically affirm the civil rights of American Muslims.” A hearing held by House Democrats last year on the NO BAN Act was believed to be the chamber’s first-ever hearing on Muslim civil rights.

We’re, of course, worried that this will die in the Senate. But it’s vital that the House and the rest of us activists and organizers keep up the fight. We have to show that we have better values than the current Senate and our racist wannabe fascist president.

This is how democracies die': House Democrats' flagging urgency on Barr's depravity is inexcusable

By Kerry Eleveld 

The rule of law is the very virtue that separates a democracy from a dictatorship. Though one’s ability to vote is a feature of democracy, elections are meaningless without a functional legal apparatus to safeguard them. People are allowed to cast votes in virtual dictatorships all the time, but their collective will is ultimately crushed by leaders who rig the outcomes. Without the rule of law America is doomed as a democracy, and the sanctity of the legal system is exactly what Donald Trump and his attorney general, William Barr, are working to dismantle in real time by turning the Department of Justice into a tool of the State.

This was easily the biggest story of the week here in the United States, but it is truly terrifying that it doesn’t seem to be spurring rampant national protests instantly. This is a code red.

Trump is reportedly seething after enduring three years of investigations for which he is constitutionally incapable of taking any responsibility. Sure, he called for Russia to find Hillary Clinton’s emails in 2016, and Russia followed suit almost immediately by hacking the Democratic National Committee. Sure, he asked the Ukrainian president to investigate his political rival Joe Biden and withheld desperately needed funding and political backing to pressure him into doing so. But Trump is never wrong, can never be questioned, and surely has never been held accountable in his life. And now that he will carry the stain of impeachment to his grave, there’s going to be hell to pay and the nation’s top law enforcement officer has proven eager to help wherever possible.

I can not repeat myself enough here: we can not let this stand.

But this goes way beyond the interference Barr ran last year on public release of the Mueller report, which otherwise would have been devastating to Trump. Barr is now intervening in the administration of justice on multiple cases, weaponizing the Justice Department against Trump’s political enemies, and shielding Trump’s allies from the full force of the law.

The list of interventions is simply staggering. In brief, they include a relentless effort to find wrongdoing by the officials at the FBI and CIA involved with launching the Russia investigation in 2016, taking specific aim at former FBI Director James Comey and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe (who was already denied his pension benefits by Barr’s predecessor after decades of service at that bureau).

And on the leniency side, Barr has moved in recent weeks to lighten the punishment for two Trump loyalists and former campaign advisers, Mike Flynn and Roger Stone. In service of that goal, Barr removed the Senate-approved U.S. attorney in D.C. and replaced her in the interim with a close ally from his office, Timothy Shea, who has gladly done Barr’s bidding. Shea is the guy who earlier this week signed off on overruling the sentencing recommendations made by the four federal prosecutors on Stone’s case who have all since resigned in protest. While all these actions are indefensible, Barr’s interference with the sentencing recommendations of a Trump ally was so unprecedented that it has elicited an outcry from a groundswell of former federal prosecutors and Justice Department officials.

We are living in truly terrifying times. We can not grow disheartened or weary; we have to take care of one another and fight like our republic depends on us; because it does. Now more than ever. 

Friends, were there any stories this week you thought we should have highlighted? Are you also totally freaking out but in it for the long-haul to defend our country from the CPACs, the Trumps, the racists?

I’d love to talk to you all below. Let me know. 

Iowa happened: The first post-voting Cattle Call of the season, and Bernie catapults into the lead

Iowa happened, and what a clusterfuck it was. We already knew that new caucus rules would make a mess out of any post-caucus clarity, and final results didn’t disappoint. CONFIRMED: The Iowa caucuses suck and this should mark the end of their unearned first-in-the-nation status. Also CONFIRMED: There was no winner. Just hand the prize to Pete Buttigieg, or maybe Bernie Sanders. 

But seriously, who cares? Iowa allocates less than 1% of national delegates, so whether Buttigieg got 11 or 12 or 13 delegates, and whether Sanders got 10 or 12, the tally needed for victory is 1,990. Iowa was about one thing and one thing only: media narrative. And despite that mess, Buttigieg got the bump he needed, now catapulting into second place in myriad polling in Bernie-friendly New Hampshire. 

Still, in this fragmented field, no one showed dominance, with Buttigieg and Sanders around one-quarter of the vote, Elizabeth Warren at about one-fifth, and Joe Biden really just impatiently waiting for South Carolina to vote. Remember, Sanders got around half the Iowa vote in 2016, so he lost support in the four years of nonstop campaigning since. And given turnout was just as poor as it was in 2016, no one is reshaping the electorate. Sanders isn’t spurring a new wave of youth turnout. We don’t have a Barack Obama in the race. 

Anyway, let’s dive in to the rankings. 

1. Bernie Sanders ⬆️ (Last week: 2)

At a New Hampshire town hall, Anderson Cooper asked Sanders if he saw himself as the front-runner, and his answer was a hard “NO!” But too bad: That moment has arrived—not because of his own strength—he’s barely cracked 20% in the national polling aggregate, but because of continued weakness and fragmentation of the field. Of course Bernie doesn’t want to be tagged as the front-runner. That means being the target of the kind of incoming fire that he’s never had to face. For now, he's kinda lucked out—Elizabeth Warren shows no interest in taking him directly on. And in Friday’s debate, most of the fireworks were directed at Pete Buttigieg, as a surprising fight for the “moderate” lane has shaped up. 

But the honeymoon won’t last, and how he responds to it will inform much of the rest of the race. Warren and Kamala Harris and even Joe Biden wilted under their respective assaults. Buttigieg has his turn in the firing lane. It’s not easy being the target of the combined rest of the field. 

Still, it might not matter. It’s not as if Bernie has any “soft support” in his coalition. He’s easily the most polarizing candidate, and people either love him or hate him. His supporters’ actions have further alienated potential second-choice voters. You don’t sit and call Warren a snake and then expect her supporters to come to you as a plan B. No other candidate has this problem. No one else’s supporters are as consistently nasty and toxic as his. And Bernie supporters can get mad at me and hurl insults for saying so, but truly national candidates work to broaden the tent and bring new supporters into their coalition. That’s why I don’t see Sanders winning in the end: He still can’t push beyond his core base. (And to be clear, no one else can, this isn’t picking on just Sanders). But what’s most damning is that he’s not even trying to broaden his coalition. 

So what’s ahead? Sanders should do well in New Hampshire. He won it decisively in 2016. He’ll hit a brick wall called “black voters” in South Carolina, but he should do fine in the Nevada caucuses and head into Super Tuesday with a bit of momentum. His problem isn’t competing in a fragmented field. His problem will be the inevitable rise of the anti-Bernie candidate once the field becomes further consolidated. It’s inevitable. If that candidate happens to be Joe Biden or Michael Bloomberg, then life will truly suck. I’m suddenly hoping its Amy Klobuchar, just so that Plan B isn’t as soul-sucking depressing. 

I do wish the left could consolidate around Warren, a far less-polarizing candidate. But that’s a pipe dream now.  

2. Biden ⬇️ (Last week: 1) 

Biden wasn’t expected to do well in Iowa: His job was just to minimize the damage. And while he wasn’t entirely successful with that, it’s enough to limp through to New Hampshire, one step closer to South Carolina, where he can power up (in video game parlance). 

Biden’s entire game at this point is older black voters. As long as he holds them, he can scoop up big chunks of delegates in the South. Did his poor performance in Iowa damage that support? We don’t see it in the public data, but private data suggests that he definitely took on water. (What “private” data? My polling firm Civiqs. And look how we outperformed almost the entire polling industry in Iowa.), and Buttigieg and Bloomberg are the beneficiaries. Still, his firewall of Black support remains mostly intact, and as long as that holds, he should be en route for a win in South Carolina. 

Biden’s big problem right now isn’t electoral, it’s financial. “In one troublesome sign for the financially strapped campaign, it canceled nearly $150,000 in television ads in South Carolina, which votes Feb. 29, and moved the spending to Nevada, whose Feb. 22 contest follows New Hampshire’s. The move seemed to acknowledge that Biden’s campaign cannot sustain a continued run of bad news.” Kamala Harris didn’t drop out because of poll numbers, she dropped out because she ran out of money. Bloomberg greedily eyeing Biden’s ideological lane, Buttigieg has already made inroads into it, and Amy Klobuchar is desperately trying to muscle her way in. That’s a lot of threats from a lane that was supposed to be his alone. 

We’ve long talked about the Left being split two-way between Sanders and Warren. Few if any saw the center line stacking up four-way. What this means is less pressure to consolidate the Left flank, and a greater chance for a contested convention this summer. 

Uh oh. 

3. Elizabeth Warren ⬇️ (last week: 3)

Once upon a time, the media gave three candidates a pass out of Iowa, but that only was until a woman was the third, so she’s been all but ignored this past week. She overperformed the polling (the Iowa aggregate had her around 15%) to get to around 20% of the vote. While it was nice to outperform those expectations, it’s hard to forget that at one time she was actually leading in those Iowa polls. She still hasn’t fully recovered from her Medicare for All plan rollout, a debacle that might have ended up costing her the nomination. 

But she’s not out of this, not by a long shot. Obviously, she won’t win anything hovering at around 15% in the national polling, but it’s not as if anyone else is consolidating support. A first-place showing in New Hampshire would dramatically reshape the race, but a second place would be a boost. Third place, despite representing next-door Massachusetts, would be a disappointment, and that’s but that’s what the polls currently suggest. Fourth place would be brutal. 

Warren, like every candidate not named Joe, is having a hard time attracting black voters. South Carolina will be rough. But Nevada could very well end up a battle between her and Bernie. A victory somewhere this month would provide a strong boost heading into delegate-rich March, but as of now, no place seems obviously ready to give her that victory. 

Like every other candidate, her problem is, where does she grow support? The Bernie Left is locked in. They’re not going anywhere. More moderate to centrist Dems are spooked by Medicare for All, and now see her as too liberal. She’s wooed black voters heavily with little success, but might that accelerate if Biden falters? And is Buttigieg really going to survive into Super Tuesday, particularly given the renewed attacks he’s facing? 

At this point, Warren’s best chance for victory is, ironically, to become the anti-Bernie candidate. Biden needs to be gone and Pete needs to stall. Klobuchar needs to stay in the back of the pack. Wall Street Dems can rally around Bloomberg, but there's not enough of them to matter electorally. A coalition of part of the Left plus the party mainstream would give Warren the nomination. Probable? Heck no. It’s almost an impossible scenario, actually. But nothing in this crazy race is “probable.” No one can win, but someone has to, eventually.  

4. Pete Buttigieg ⬆️ (Last week: unranked)

Small-liberal-college-town mayor Pete Buttigieg co-“won” Iowa with Sanders (helped by impeachment keeping his Senate rivals in Washington), and that has given him new life as a potential Biden replacement, at least for the moment. He claimed a surge in big-dollar donations after Iowa (at the same time that Biden saw his fundraising hit a wall), so it seems like the Wall Street crowd, already in love with Buttigieg, could be going all-in on him.

Now Sanders is getting young people of color, and Warren is doing okay with younger educated women of color—nowhere near Biden’s dominance with black voters, but you know, it adds up to 10-15% support each among black voters. Shitty, to be sure, but it’s something. Buttigieg? He’s at zero. Any genuine rise in Buttigieg’s overall support would be a clear signal to black America that white liberals really don’t give a shit about justice issues. (Which is probably already true, but still ...) You want the gory backstory on how he fired his city’s Black police chief for exposing racist beat cops on his force? It’s here (and the story goes far beyond the police chief). It’s enough to generate enough distrust and hostility with perhaps the most important voting group in our party to last a generation. 

It’s not just a primary problem. We don’t win November without strong black turnout in Milwaukee, Detroit, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Jacksonville. If we don’t have a nominee that can talk the language of black America and can motivate those voters to turn out, we’re toast. 

Now I know Buttigieg supporters will say I’m just taking shots at their guy, but here’s the thing: This issue matters in the primary. It matters to black voters, who will chose hundreds of delegates to the conventions, and it matters to some white allies eager to show solidarity. It’s akin to Bernie’s refusal to expand his coalition, except Sanders refuses by choice. Buttigieg can’t because of his past history.

More immediately, however, polls have Buttigieg moving up to second place in New Hampshire. Can he hold it despite the attacks during the New Hampshire debate and a serious barrage of negative attention like this?

Former Mayor Pete doesn�t think very highly of the Obama-Biden record. Let�s compare. pic.twitter.com/132TB7MHaq

— Joe Biden (Text Join to 30330) (@JoeBiden) February 8, 2020

Simply brutal. And effective. Buttigieg’s “experience” truly is a joke, and the arrogance inherent in him thinking he deserves a promotion to the White House from a small liberal college town mayorship is breathtaking. He’s never received more than 11,000 votes in an election, and in his small-town reelection bid, that number went down to 8,500. 

Now he needs to weather those attacks and notch that top New Hampshire finish, because South Carolina and Nevada don’t look to be hospitable territory. 

The wildcards at this point are Amy Klobuchar, who seemed to be well received after Friday’s New Hampshire debate, and Michael Bloomberg, who seems to be trying to buy himself a pass to the nomination at a brokered convention. But just think of all those voters in Florida, Texas, Arizona, and Georgia that we could’ve registered with the half-a-billion spent so far by Bloomberg and Tom Steyer. It’s sickening seeing all that money spent on the altar of egoism.

Astronauts, Romney making history, and more you might have missed this week

The Iowa caucus, impeachment, town halls, and Democratic debates? Did you miss anything? Did we? Check out our staff picks below.

Astronaut Christina Koch returns from her record-setting 328-day trip in space

By Walter Einenkel 

The original mission was meant to keep Koch in space for six months, but she extended her time and in so doing put herself in the history books, while giving scientists more data on how weightlessness affects the human body over time.​​​​​​

Republicans have hell to pay for torching our republic. Make. Them. Pay. NOW

By David Nir

We are disgusted, we are dismayed, we are filled with sorrow. But we are also very, very angry, and we must channel that anger. Republicans want to put our democracy to the torch, but together we can douse those flames and build anew.

Romney made history. He also changed the news cycle and the anti-GOP ads to come in 2020

By Walter Einenkel

But Romney didn't just change the story and the way the story would be told, he also changed how that story would reverberate through the 2020 election cycle. Trump, who will target Romney incessantly between now and November, will deprive himself of the talking point that it was Democrats and Democrats alone who took issue with his so-called "perfect call" and voted to convict. In addition, Democrats' discipline as a caucus which included some brave votes from Sens. Doug Jones of Alabama and Joe Manchin of West Virginia robbed Trump of declaring his acquittal was a bipartisan consensus.

No Democratic president will get Republican help—not even Bernie

By kos

But no one should take seriously the notion that Mitch McConnell would suddenly decide to play ball with him, because that’s either willful stupidity, or cynical bullshit. Neither is a good look for Sanders, Biden, or anyone else who might want to pretend.

Terrorist-in-training Chris Hasson's 13-year sentence is a signal to far-right 'lone wolf' wannabes

By David Neiwert

Court papers released to the public this week featuring some of prosecutors’ key exhibits in Hasson’s case file underscored the realities of Hasson’s interests and motivations. In interviews with prosecutors, he had acknowledged having been an active racist “skinhead” in the 1990s, but claimed to have shed his white-supremacist views by the late ‘90s and become an upstanding citizen instead.

Let us know in the comments: What stories did you read this week that stuck with you? Anything that you think flew so under the radar that we might have missed?

Looking forward to chatting with y’all below!

Democrats seek to make a move in New Hampshire debate: Live coverage #1

Between Iowa’s confusion and unclear result and the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 11, we have a Democratic debate. Your cast of characters for the evening, in alphabetical order: former Vice President Joe Biden, former Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Bernie Sanders, rich guy Tom Steyer, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and online fave Andrew Yang.

Per CNN: “The debate will air live nationally on ABC and locally on WMUR-TV. ABC News will livestream the debate on ABC News Live, featured on Apple News, Roku, Hulu, AppleTV, Amazon Fire TV, Xumo, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, the ABC News site and mobile phone apps. WMUR-TV will livestream the debate on www.WMUR.com and WMUR's mobile app.”

Daily Kos will have live coverage.

Coverage continues here.

Saturday, Feb 8, 2020 · 1:05:42 AM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

And the candidates come onto stage. Elizabeth Warren certainly gets an enthusiastic greeting, as do Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, and Andrew Yang. That’s not to say that Joe Biden wasn’t welcome, just that his supporters in the room may have been less shouty.

Saturday, Feb 8, 2020 · 1:08:08 AM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Biden gets the first question—why did Pete and Bernie win in Iowa, and are voters taking a risk going for them. Biden’s response seems a bit hurried and bland, already talking about the “first four” debates. Stephanopoulos forces Biden to take a swing at Bernie and Pete. Which gets a mention of Democratic socialism, and inexperience, but it’s pretty bland.

Saturday, Feb 8, 2020 · 1:10:00 AM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Sanders gets a chance to defend himself, says that Trump shouldn’t be trusted when he says he wants to run against the “democratic socialism” label because “Donald Trump lies all the time.” Sanders is lays claim to Iowa popular, defends a shot from Stephanopoulos about the failure to pump up turnout numbers in Iowa.

Saturday, Feb 8, 2020 · 1:11:06 AM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Klobuchar rises to Stephanopoulos’ invite to attack the “democratic socialist” label. Klobuchar is clearly a candidate on the bubble here, so it makes sense for her to look for any opportunity to squeeze in.

Saturday, Feb 8, 2020 · 1:12:34 AM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Steyer gets to talk … and says that we need to get out a diverse base, then claims he’s pulling better numbers with blacks and Latinos than I’ve seen in polling. But at least he can point at the Democratic base.

Saturday, Feb 8, 2020 · 1:13:44 AM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Yang is the next to get a chance to talk, I’m not sure there was actually a question here. At this point Stephanopoulos seems to be just letting him talk about AI, capitalism, etc. without making him come back to any of the points as he did Biden and Sanders.

Saturday, Feb 8, 2020 · 1:14:56 AM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

For Warren, Stephanopoulos tries to reframe the questions as “her vs. Bernie,” but Warren pushes past that quickly and says that the issue that Democrats can agree on is fighting against corruption, and that this is something that can bringing in independents and Republicans.

Saturday, Feb 8, 2020 · 1:18:10 AM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

For Buttigieg, Stephanopoulos makes the question about the word “socialism,” rather than pressing him to attack Sanders … but Stephanopoulos didn’t need to, because Buttigieg goes there on his own by immediately claiming that Sanders “goes all the way to the edge” and says that people shouldn’t even be Democrats if they don’t agree 100%.

Stephanopoulos is clearly happy to see some sparks, and invites Sanders to join in. Sanders does a good job in replying about “bringing people together” with better wages, fair taxes, better healthcare. 

On this exchange, Sanders did much better than Buttigieg.

Saturday, Feb 8, 2020 · 1:20:43 AM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Stephanopoulos gives Buttigieg another shot to say he will “galvanize and energize but not polarize.” And defends his health care plan.

Then Biden gets a chance to jump on Sanders. Biden gets extremely angry / shouty immediately as he bellows about the cost of Medicare for All. Not a good look, but he definitely paints himself as the guy “who got Obamacare passed.”

Saturday, Feb 8, 2020 · 1:22:31 AM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Sanders gets the chance to defend Medicare for All, point out the true cost of healthcare as it exists. Stephanopoulos gives Biden a chance to swing again — funny, it already seems like we’ve spent a lot of time allowing Biden, Buttigieg, and Sanders to talk.

Saturday, Feb 8, 2020 · 1:25:01 AM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Klouchar presenting herself as the person who understands “what leadership is about” … which is not providing universal healthcare of making any changes that would seriously change anything.

Warren finally gets a chance to talk again, gets in a slight dig at Klobuchar by saying she can define her plan for herself. And because it’s Elizabeth Warren, she does that.

Saturday, Feb 8, 2020 · 1:28:42 AM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Buttigieg pushing himself as the “outsider” who is there to fight against the “politics of the past.”

Biden “I don’t know what about the past of Barack Obama and Joe Biden was so bad” rattles off a list of legislative accomplishments. 

Buttigieg gets another chance to reply to Biden, talking about “meeting the moment” without giving specifics.

Saturday, Feb 8, 2020 · 1:30:19 AM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Klobuchar gets a chance to talk about the impeachment hearing, giving praise to Doug Jones and Mitt Romney and for showing political courage. She drubs Buttigieg for running against Washington, points out that Trump is also the “newcomer” and in general does a helluva job on that response. Points to Klobuchar.

Saturday, Feb 8, 2020 · 1:35:00 AM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Sanders gets the chance to talk again and returns to talking about healthcare, and specifically drug companies. It’s energetic … but it’s kind of a speech. I’m still giving points to Klobuchar for recognizing that this debate isn’t debate #1, or #2, or  #3. 

Steyer “all the healthcare plans are better, a million times better.” Has praise for all the candidates—though takes a knock at Buttigieg’s experience.

Buttigieg’s turn to talk and … wow, did you know he lives in the Midwest? A half point to Buttigieg for mentioning Trump’s National Prayer Breakfast, then take away that point for doing all but jumping into bothsiderism.  

Saturday, Feb 8, 2020 · 1:35:55 AM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Yang … makes Yang supporters happy. 

Saturday, Feb 8, 2020 · 1:42:19 AM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Warren confronted by charges that she’s being divisive in saying she wants to investigate Trump. Brings it to her “government that works great if you’re [rich / lobbyists / etc]” point and manages to swing her entire pitch into the response. 

Unhappy with the response, Hernandez gives Yang a chance to refute Warren. Which he kind of sorta does.

Sanders gets his chance to respond and does an pretty darn good of talking about the reason Trump needed to be impeached, and the sadness of the Republican rolling over for Trump.

Steyer says “is he a crook? I knew that two years ago. Is he going to be more of a crook? Of course he is.” Steyer has really had some pretty good lines tonight, but keeps coming back to an electability issue that doesn’t really favor him.

Saturday, Feb 8, 2020 · 1:43:26 AM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Buttigieg is pitched the idea that Biden shouldn’t be nominated because Republicans are threatening to investigate Hunter Biden. Buttigieg gives an emphatic response. His best of the night by far.

Saturday, Feb 8, 2020 · 1:44:30 AM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Biden brings up Lt. Col. Vindman and encourages the whole room to stand and applaud Vindman. It’s a little bit of a stunt, but also not a bad move.

Saturday, Feb 8, 2020 · 1:45:34 AM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

I’m going to credit Buttigieg with that response on Hunter Biden. With it, some of the tension seems to have broken and there’s more camaraderie in the room as Klobuchar handles the next issue.

Saturday, Feb 8, 2020 · 1:49:04 AM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Klobuchar talks up her ability to “work with people” and the newspaper endorsements she has received.

Sanders notes that he doesn’t get many newspaper endorsements. He moves past a Hillary moment quickly, saying that he hopes that everyone will look to 2020 rather than 2016. Speaks a moment to his own claims of being able to work across the aisle.

Saturday, Feb 8, 2020 · 1:51:54 AM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Muir’s first question to Buttigieg speaks to the war in Iraq, Trump’s killing of Soleimani, and the situation in the Middle East. Buttigieg gets in several good lines here, and handles the issue well.

Muir comes right back to Buttigieg and give him more time to expand on this, and again Buttigieg is doing a good job on the issues of intelligence and military.

Pete has a wall. Bernie has a ceiling. Biden hit the floor. Warren has a path

One would never know it by the post-Iowa media narrative of the Democratic race, but there is a fourth candidate in the top four coming out of Iowa. That candidate finished third, over-performing expectations and beating out the national front-runner. Wow! Who’s that?, you say. She’s a woman, tall and a touch lanky. She’s got a famous dog. Oh … right!

Seriously, the mainstream media counted Elizabeth Warren out before Iowa happened. Then when she claimed one of the three tickets heading out of Iowa, they counted her out again. The only stories I have seen for a solid four days now are about the jostling for first between Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders and then an onslaught of stories perseverating over whether Joe Biden can rise from the dead. Since the mainstream media won’t write a single thing about Warren, I’m going to because, while Warren isn’t getting the post-Iowa boost that Buttigieg and Sanders are, I still think she’s got the best chance of building a coalition that can appeal to the broadest range of voters.

Here’s why: Buttigieg is gaining in New Hampshire and might pull out a first or second place win there. But he’s still nowhere with people of color. He’s got a wall once he hits more diverse states, South Carolina, in particular. Could that change? Perhaps, but we haven’t seen any evidence of that yet and his efforts to broaden his appeal have fallen flat so far. 

Bernie’s theory of the case has always been that he can beat Trump because he will motivate more people to the polls, including an army of youth and other nontraditional voters, to vote for his revolution, as he calls it. He has continually polled strongest among voters under 30 and, to his credit, across a range of demographics. He was well organized in Iowa and his campaign predicted turnout there would rival that of 2008, when Barack Obama drew a whole new generation of voters to the polls. "I will tell you this without a shadow of a doubt,” Sanders said, heading into Iowa, “If there is a large voter turnout—if working people and young people come out in large numbers—we will win and win big." Sanders campaign spokesperson Mike Casca told Politico, “If there's a huge voter turnout, you can turn off your TV—Bernie won.”

Unfortunately for Democrats as a party, turnout was nowhere near ‘08 levels (roughly 240,000 caucusers), rather it was closer to 2016 levels (roughly 170,000 caucusers). The record-level turnout that the Sanders camp hyped doesn’t seem to have materialized. Perhaps to Sanders’ credit, turnout among voters under 30 appears to have increased slightly from 2008 levels. The Sanders camp also put serious energy into increasing participation with nontraditional voters by organizing satellite caucuses, which the campaign argues could still help Sanders edge out Buttigieg in the state delegate equivalent count. But any way you slice it, turnout was underwhelming and perhaps even concerning given the necessity of beating Donald Trump.

What that suggests is that bringing more voters into the fold as Sanders aimed to do isn’t enough. On the other hand, nominating someone who alienates Democrats’ most loyal voting bloc, as Buttigieg seems to, could produce exactly the type of turnout problems in the Rust Belt states that hobbled Hillary Clinton in ’16, not to mention the fact that it would make expanding the map very difficult for Democrats. 

And while Joe Biden on paper seems to be the perfect candidate to hit both of those notes, on the stump he has proven to be uninspiring, which is exactly why he finished fourth in Iowa. Once voters really start paying attention to Biden, he fails to make the conversion. That was true even though both he and Buttigieg had a wide open state for two weeks while Sanders, Warren, and Amy Klobuchar were all stuck in Washington at Trump’s impeachment trial. Buttigieg was able to capitalize on that advantage, Biden wasn’t and it’s telling.

So who, you ask, could put together a coalition that motivates progressives, working class voters, and people of color, while still drawing cross-over votes among never-Trumpers? Warren. While Warren did not dominate hardly any counties across Iowa, her numbers were strong enough among a wide variety of voters and regions of the state that she pulled off a third-place finish. The fact that Warren actually outperformed expectations in Iowa is a story that has been completely ignored. She also remains third in national polling and third in FiveThirtyEight’s 2020 forecast behind Sanders (who got the biggest bump) and Biden for securing a majority of delegates to win the nomination.

Warren still edges out Buttigieg in the forecast, albeit by a single percentage point. As Nate Silver put it, “The case for Warren is that she's in 3rd place, more or less, and the Top 2 candidates aren't that far ahead of the pack and have big vulnerabilities.” All of which is to say, her complete erasure from the political discussion is curious to say the least. But as Democrats continue their quest for a candidate who can beat Trump, they need one that doesn’t turn off voters in any direction while having the fire in their belly for a fight over the long haul. Unless and until voting patterns and polling suggests otherwise, Warren is that person.

Warren’s overall appeal was apparent in two pre-Iowa polls: one showing that given the choice of nominating a candidate through the wave of a magic wand, voters chose Warren over every other Democratic candidate, which was also true in June 2019; and the other showing that Warren would be the least likely candidate to alienate Democrats if she were to win the nomination.

If you're a Democrat and could wave a magic wand�that would nominate any candidate for 2020, who you would pick? New polling by @Civiqs @DataProgress says: ***Elizabeth Warren*** That was true in June 2019, as well. Write up by @markhw_ https://t.co/UWVz9mRGjK pic.twitter.com/IfGKPzPWrJ

— meredith conroy (@sidney_b) February 3, 2020

If this poll is accurate @ewarren would be the most unifying nominee for Democratic voters. https://t.co/e6sFaUOihy

— Lawrence O'Donnell (@Lawrence) January 29, 2020

It's not that I think Warren is the perfect candidate, no candidate is ever perfect, as the recent exit of several staffers of color in her Nevada campaign demonstrates. It's just that I believe she has the best path to pull from all the demographics Democrats need to beat Trump, which includes both motivating nontraditional voters and attracting votes from high-propensity voters who don’t necessarily identify as Democrats. We will need every single vote we can get and, at this point, Warren bridges those gaps better than any other candidate in the field.

But whether Warren gets through the next few contests where other candidates have advantages is still an open question. Buttigieg is already getting a sizable bump in New Hampshire polling and Sanders just proved that he’s a fundraising juggernaut with a $25 million haul in January alone. Warren’s chances will likely depend on perhaps outperforming in one of the next several contests with a first- or second-place finish and remaining viable through Super Tuesday. But if Warren really does have a chance, don’t expect the mainstream media to let you know.

Eleven takeaways from last night’s Iowa debacle

What a night, huh? Here are the big takeaways:

1) Ever since there was a Daily Kos in 2002, I’ve railed against the Iowa caucus system. It is unfair (who made Iowa king?), unrepresentative (91% white and mostly rural), and undemocratic. With turnout expected to be around the same as 2016’s, and well off the 2008 mark, it means that only about 6% of Iowa voters turned out. And yet it’s this small group of people that’s supposed to shape the field for us? Enough is enough. The first-in-the-nation Iowa caucus is a disgrace, and finally everyone else sees it. 

2) There is no conspiracy theory that explains away the incompetence of Iowa’s Democratic Party. That’s what happens when an unelected elite thinks it deserves an unearned gift—complacency and unresponsiveness.

3) That said, Joe Biden benefits the most, given what seems to be, by all indications, a dismal night. In our world of media micro-cycles, we’ll be moving on to chattering about whether Donald Trump will mention impeachment in tonight’s State of the Union address, the New Hampshire debate, and New Hampshire’s looming primary (another unrepresentative state with an unearned pole position in the primary). 

4) The biggest loser, conversely, is the person who appears to have won the night—Bernie Sanders. He loses his prime-time victory speech. Ironically, it was his campaign’s insistence that Iowa count actual votes that led to last night’s disaster, but don’t blame him—he was right. While Hillary Clinton won the delegate counts in the 2016 caucuses, chances are very good that Sanders would’ve won a count of the popular vote. And why are we recreating everything that is wrong with the Electoral College at the state level? The obvious answer was to ditch the stupid delegate counts and just declare the popular vote winner the winner, right? But the Sanders camp didn’t push that. 

5) The biggest asshole of the night was small-liberal-college-town Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who gave a victory speech utterly divorced from the reality on the ground. His pretend “I won and shocked the nation” speech was everything we hate about politics—a Trumpian attempt to create reality by merely declaring it so. 

6) It’s hard to see how Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar continue forward from here. Sure, there’s no reason to quit before New Hampshire, but they’ve got no juice left. They bet all on Iowa, and Iowa said, “We suck,” and that was that. 

7) Republicans are taking a victory lap, with a “If they can’t run a caucus, how can they run a country?” tour. Let them have it. We’d do the same if they were in these shoes. Luckily for everyone, the Iowa Democratic Party isn’t on the presidential ballot. I think we could agree to vote for the other candidates instead. And you can always ask them about the raging success of their “repeal and replace” strategy. 

8) The cable networks pretty much all cut away from Elizabeth Warren’s speech, for reasons that make zero sense. Now, Klobuchar was smart enough to go onstage when the cable network pundits were all staring at each other with nothing to say or do. But really, with all that dead air to fill, just play the candidate speeches. All of them. I mean, CNN cut away from Warren to put on RICK FUCKING SANTORUM. Unacceptable. 

9) Given last night’s mess, it’s extrafortuitous that our new national pre-primary primary (aka “2019”) whittled down the field before Iowa could get its grubby hands on it. As a result, candidates spent less time in Iowa than they had in prior cycles.

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Now I’m looking forward to seeing that number go down to single digits in future cycles. 

10) Another note on turnout: 

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11) For all the talk about Sanders reshaping the electorate, it’s just not happening. If he eventually gets 25%, which seems about right, he will have lost half his support from 2016, without managing to increase the number of caucus-goers. Fact is, only Barack Obama has managed to “reshape the electorate” in recent history, and we have no one of his caliber on the line. Michelle Obama would’ve done it. Hard to see anyone else. And that’s tragic, because Obama made everything so much easier. 

Watch this ‘Daily Show’ truck blast clips of Trump mocking senators in downtown Washington D.C.

Donald Trump has a long history of insulting people, including senators. Unsurprisingly, he has no problem insulting progressives, like calling Sen. Bernie Sanders “crazy” and Sen. Elizabeth Warren “Pochahontas.” He’s also insulted a number of Republicans, including saying that Sen. Mitt Romney is “not a smart person,” and of course, dubbing Sen. Ted Cruz “Lyin’ Ted.” Now, The Daily Show has compiled clips of these insults into a loop video that’s playing on the side of a truck that’s bopping around Washington D.C. during his impeachment trial, as reported by the Washingtonian. Because this video focuses on senators, we don’t even need to get into all of the times he has insulted women, including Hillary Clinton.

Here is the original video.

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Here is what The Daily Show truck driving around downtown Washington D.C. looks like.

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The Washingtonian reports that The Daily Show has been airing 30- and 60-second versions of this video on local news channels in D.C. The publication says the truck has been on the move in the Capitol since Monday.

“We’re trying to always think of ways to take jokes that we have and take them outside the boundaries of 11:00 to 11:30. Like, how can we exist in the real world? How can we get closer to the people that we’re covering?” Ramin Hedayati, a producer at The Daily Show, told the Washingtonian in an interview. “Literally driving a truck outside of the building they’re in is a way to do that.”

Of course, it’s far from the first time The Daily Show has taken the Trump administration to task. On Monday, host Trevor Noah called out Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham, as well as Trump’s defense lawyers.

Trump attacks everyone from government officials to private citizens seemingly with little regard to the possible consequences. People say that actions speak louder than words, but with Trump, his words and actions actually line up pretty well—and it’s nothing good.