Choosing a presidential candidate

I hate that our presidential election cycle is two years long, but there’s nothing we can do about that. So, I though I’d start running down the list for the fun of it, because at this point, it means next to nothing. If anything. I want to dispel some myths I hold that may or may not be true and discover somethings I don’t know, which are many. So here we go!

33 thoughts on “Choosing a presidential candidate

  1. Opinion
    Who Do Jared and Ivanka Think They Are?
    A new book probes the Kushner family’s secrets.

    As political actors, the couple are living exemplars of the Dunning-Kruger effect, a psychological phenomenon which leads incompetent people to overestimate their ability because they can’t grasp how much they don’t know.

    Partly, the Jared and Ivanka story is about the “reality distortion field” — a term one of Ward’s sources uses about Kushner — created by great family wealth. She quotes a member of Trump’s legal team saying that the two “have no idea how normal people perceive, understand, intuit.” Privilege, in them, has been raised to the level of near sociopathy.

    Read more (pdf)



  2. A Mar-a-Lago Weekend and an Act of God: Trump’s History With Deutsche Bank

    As President Trump delivered his inaugural address in 2017, a slight woman with feathered gray hair sat listening, bundled in a hooded white parka in a fenced-off V.I.P. section. Her name was Rosemary T. Vrablic. She was a managing director at Deutsche Bank and one of the reasons Mr. Trump had just taken the oath of office.


    It was a moment of celebration — and a moment of worry for Ms. Vrablic’s employer.

    Mr. Trump and Deutsche Bank were deeply entwined, their symbiotic bond born of necessity and ambition on both sides: a real estate mogul made toxic by polarizing rhetoric and a pattern of defaults, and a bank with intractable financial problems and a history of misconduct.

    Read more (pdf)


  3. Where Beto O’Rourke Stands on the Issues

    Beto O’Rourke, the former Texas congressman who just joined the Democratic presidential race, gained an instant following last year when he came within three points of unseating Senator Ted Cruz.

    But while he was able to stand out in his Senate campaign with a broadly liberal message and no signature policy issue, that broad message is not likely to be enough in a ballooning Democratic field.

    This time, the specifics are going to be crucial. Here’s a look at where Mr. O’Rourke stands on some major issues.

    Read more (pdf)


  4. Opinion
    It Isn’t Complicated: Trump Encourages Violence
    He doesn’t deserve blame for any specific attack. He does deserve blame for the increase in white-nationalist violence.

    This wasn’t the first time Trump had mused about violence, of course. He has talked about “Second Amendment people” preventing the appointment of liberal judges. He’s encouraged police officers to bang suspects’ heads against car roofs. He has suggested his supporters “knock the hell” out of hecklers. At a rally shortly before 2018 Election Day, he went on a similar riff about Bikers for Trump and the military.

    I’m well aware of the various see-no-evil attempts to excuse this behavior: That’s just how he talks. Don’t take him literally. Other Republicans are keeping him in check. His speeches and tweets don’t really matter.

    But they do matter.

    Read more (pdf)



  5. Hello Kristen, are you out there?

    Yesterday, upon learning of Gillibrand’s announcement to run, I assumed I’d be leading with that story. However, this morning neither the NYT or WaPo had her story on the front page because Beto sucked up all that space. While I don’t personally favor her, she has more policy positions than Beto and would so if she only had one.

  6. Opinions

    Mick Mulvaney is in over his head


    Representing the White House Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation” and on “Fox News Sunday,” acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney had to expect questions about Friday’s terrorist attack on two New Zealand mosques. But his answers only further discouraged any hopes that the Trump administration might lift even a finger to prevent future attacks by white supremacists.

    Perhaps unsurprisingly, Mulvaney showed no concern that the shooter wrote: “Were/are you a supporter of Donald Trump? As a symbol of renewed identity and common purpose? Sure.” When Fox’s Chris Wallace displayed the passage, Mulvaney responded:

    I’m a little disappointed, you didn’t put up the next sentence, which the next sentence, because I looked at it last night, was, what about his policies and he’s a leader, and he said, “dear god, no.”

    I don’t think it’s fair to cast this person as a supporter of Donald Trump any more than it is to look at his — sort of his eco-terrorist passages in that manifesto that align him with Nancy Pelosi or [Alexandria] Ocasio-Cortez.

    Well, the difference is the killer didn’t see either Ocasio-Cortez or Pelosi as a “symbol,” only the president. That he didn’t agree with Trump’s methods doesn’t make it any less disturbing that he liked what he thought Trump’s aims were. So while, as Wallace put it, “the only person responsible for this slaughter is the shooter,” the shooter’s own words make it fair to raise Trump in the context of the attack.

    Read more (pdf)


    Note: Sorry Mick but the president sending out a Tweet when a written or televised statement is in order doesn’t come close to cutting it.

  7. Opinion

    Is Computer Code a Foreign Language?

    No. And high schools shouldn’t treat it that way.

    The difference between natural and computer languages is not merely one of degree, with natural languages’ involving vocabularies that are several orders of magnitude larger than those of computer languages. Natural languages aren’t just more complex versions of the algorithms with which we teach machines to do tasks; they are also the living embodiments of our essence as social animals. We express our love and our losses, explore beauty, justice and the meaning of our existence, and even come to know ourselves all though natural languages.

    Read more (pdf)



  8. Can legal weed ever beat the black market?
    Even in Canada and some US states where marijuana is legal, the illegal market remains a tenacious competitor


    One big reason to legalize cannabis is to wrest the market away from criminal enterprises and tax the proceeds. But in Canada and the US states where weed is legal, the illegal market has proven to be a tenacious competitor – and it’s likely to remain so for years.

    Take California, the largest and most complex of the legal US markets. Here underground sales can be divided into two broad categories: the illegal or “black” market includes everyone growing and manufacturing products for export out of state, which is always against the law. The so-called “gray market” refers to companies that continue to operate in California even though they either can’t or don’t want to go through the time and expense to acquire licenses.

    Weedmaps: why ‘Yelp for pot’ is under fire for its Silicon Valley attitude
    Read more

    For licensed businesses trying to follow the rules, California’s gray market presents the bigger problem. Because these companies don’t adhere to the complex regulations covering everything from security to product testing, they can undersell their law-abiding counterparts by up to 50%, according to Bryce Berryessa, the president of the licensed California cannabis company La Vida Verde.

    Read more

  9. The Cambridge Analytica scandal changed the world – but it didn’t change Facebook
    A year after devastating revelations of data misuse, Mark Zuckerberg still hasn’t fulfilled his promises to reform


    It can be hard to remember from down here, beneath the avalanche of words and promises and apologies and blogposts and manifestos that Facebook has unleashed upon us over the course of the past year, but when the Cambridge Analytica story broke one year ago, Mark Zuckerberg’s initial response was a long and deafening silence.

    It took five full days for the founder and CEO of Facebook – the man with total control over the world’s largest communications platform – to emerge from his Menlo Park cloisters and address the public. When he finally did, he did so with gusto, taking a new set of talking points (“We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you”) on a seemingly unending roadshow, from his own Facebook page to the mainstream press to Congress and on to an oddly earnest discussion series he’s planning to subject us to at irregular intervals for the rest of 2019.

    The culmination of all that verbosity came earlier this month, when Zuck unloaded a 3,000-word treatise on Facebook’s “privacy-focused” future (a phrase that somehow demands both regular quotation marks and ironic scare quotes), a missive that was perhaps best described by the Guardian’s Emily Bell as “the nightmarish college application essay of an accomplished sociopath”.

    Read more

  10. @Cat Chew: If it was a more normal election year I’d cut the kid some slack but the more we learn what’s behind the theatrics on countertops the more he comes across as a narcissist.

    Our garden of candidates needs prompt and regular weddings so we can find the one who can do more than just beat trump.

  11. @chris: Kinda hate to dismiss a person so quickly, but that’s all I really need to know about Beto. I will give the stink eye to anyone who suggests he’s the best because “electability.” I want to pat Matt Taibbi’s head, and bake him a batch of cookies for this:

    The role of “electability” has always been to convince voters to pick someone other than the candidate they prefer. The idea is to tell audiences which candidate has the broad appeal to win.

    The metric pundits usually employ is, “Which Democrat could most easily pass for a Republican?” and vice-versa.

  12. Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace
    Can South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg break out of a crowded field of Democratic presidential hopefuls?

    Read transcript/see video

    Note: I like everything this guy has to say and the way he says it. Seemed to me he had Wallace on the edge of his seat b/c every question got a definitive answer and when Wallace tried to “what about” him, he came right back with more facts.

  13. Rightwing media news
    Fox News Bumps Jeanine Pirro’s Show After Anti-Muslim Remarks

    Jeanine Pirro is off Fox News prime time — for one night, at least.

    Fox News removed Ms. Pirro’s program, “Justice With Judge Jeanine,” from its usual 9 p.m. time slot on Saturday, one week after the network took the rare step of publicly rebuking the host for an on-air monologue that questioned a Muslim lawmaker’s loyalty to the United States.

    Fox News declined to say whether Ms. Pirro had been formally suspended. “We are not commenting on internal scheduling matters,” the network said in a statement on Saturday evening.

    A former prosecutor known for fiery monologues, Ms. Pirro is one of the most fervent on-air champions of President Trump, an old friend from her days in New York political circles who often urges his Twitter followers to tune in to her show.

    Read more (pdf)


  14. OK, moving right a long today I wanted to get Beto O’Rourke out of the way. Full disclosure I supported him in his race against Cruz because I felt a Republican lite was better than the current asshole holding the seat.


    When it comes to President, Beto is a lot like trump in that he really seems to be in it more to build his brand than anything else. This fits in well with his life story which you can read about in the link below for Maureen Dowd’s opinion piece. For a conservative view I’m posting Kathleen Parker’s piece which is a little kinder but still points to the vanity factor of the privileged kid who got into politics with the help of rich Republicans and went on to Congress to vote against Obamacare, against Nancy Pelosi and for raising the retirement age for Social Security.

    I’ll find and post more stories later, but for now:

    Is the Force With Beto? Maureen Dowd

    Beto O’Rourke’s 2020 campaign is a youthful folly. Kathleen Parker

  15. @Beth Bohon: You can’t help liking Joe Biden. His core values are inline with the mainstream. His life story is a made for TV Hallmark movie. His career in government is long, he knows where the levers are and how to pull them.

    Do we judge him forever for his mistakes in the past, like Anita Hill? I believe Joe Biden immerses himself in the present but when he makes a mistake he learns from the past.

    Maybe we’re all blinded by his personna but given all we’ve seen, I think what you see is what you get with Joe Biden. I don’t know how he’ll stand up next to trump in the debates or in the general media battles that are certain to come. I don’t see him going tit for tat on Twitter, he’ll make his comments directly to the press. While this is the high ground, we all know that a lie gets half way around the world before the truth has had a chance to get its shoes on. Will he get buried in a backlog of trump lies or rise above and bomb the bastard with incontrovertible truths (my current buzz word)?

    All told he would be a good next President, but would he be the best given the current crop of candidates? It’s too soon to tell, we have a long road ahead.

    And like you say, if he’s not the President, he’d make the perfect Secretary of State to rebuild America’s place on the global stage.

    Thanks for the post Bafney, er Beth. 😉

  16. I really like Joe Biden. I believe he is one of the few politicians who lives out “family values”. The way he took care of his boys after they lost their mother and sister, his devotion to his family in general speaks volumes to me of his character. That being said, while I love him, I have concerns. He sometimes speaks before he thinks (something I can relate to), but as you point out, he has made gaffes in the past that hurt him. I’m also concerned about the age factor, although he appears to be in much better physical condition than the person in the WH right now. ( not sure how much effort that would take though). I’d like to see him as, perhaps, Secretary of State. If he could get the nomination though, is campaign for him in a heartbeat.

  17. N.Y. attorney general says Trump illegally used his foundation for campaign

    New York’s new attorney general alleges that the Trump Foundation functioned as a wing of the 2016 campaign

    President Donald Trump illegally used his charity to benefit his presidential campaign, New York’s attorney general said in a court filing Thursday.

    Attorney General Letitia James said that Trump turned the Trump Foundation into a wing of his campaign in a 37-page court filing. James asked a judge to order the organization to pay $2.8 million in restitution for using charitable donations for political and business purposes, the Associated Press reported.

    James also asked a judge to order President Trump to pay a $5.6 million penalty in the case, and to bar the president and his three eldest children from running any charities in the state for the next 10 years, Bloomberg reported.

    “In this vacuum of oversight and diligence, Mr. Trump caused the foundation to enter repeatedly into self-dealing transactions and to coordinate unlawfully with his presidential campaign,” James said in the filing.

    Read more

  18. @chris: When it comes to Biden the first thing that pops into my mind is if he has continued to grow as a liberal Democrat. Throughout his career he has been a proponent of the status quo but over the years he has moved further left.

    The big unknown now is how will he campaign on the social and economic issues vs the already more progressive candidates already in the race?
    I’ll stick my neck out and guess that he’s going to stay relatively centrist on the social issues and tack left economically. (No, I won’t bet money on it.). His religion is important to him but as he’s admitted in the past, he doesn’t govern based on his personal beliefs but what is inline with the Constitution.

    Maybe most importantly is his ability to talk down to Trump which will be very important in the General Election.

  19. Joe Biden: can a veteran centrist win in the polarised age of Trump?

    Image from The Guardian

    Yes, he’s not yet declared but he is the early odds-on favorite. The big questions for Biden are:

    1. Can he outlive his past?
    2. Is he progressive enough?
    3. Can he avoid the gaffs that cost him his prior runs for President?

    Since I’ve never done this before I’m not sure how I’ll approach it but never being afraid to fuck up, I’ll start by listing some articles on him, starting with one from The Guardian from March 16, 2019: Joe Biden: can a veteran centrist win in the polarised age of Trump?

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