Useful Idiots: Jimmy Dore on Bernie Sanders and the CARES Act

In this week’s quarantine episode of our Useful Idiots podcast, hosts Matt Taibbi and Katie Halper are joined by Jimmy Dore, comedian and podcast extraordinaire.

Matt and Katie explore the psyche of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who Katie believes might be a beta. “He’s always being out-alpha’d by Andrew Cuomo,” says Katie.

“He’s physically quite a big dude. He’s very tall. But he seems to always be intimidated by everybody who’s in his presence,” says Matt. Katie dubs this anti-Napoleon conundrum the “de Blasio complex.”

Our duo believes this analysis helps explain New York City’s handling of aid, or lack-thereof, for homeless New Yorkers during COVID-19.

Matt and Katie discuss Matt’s recent piece on Democrats abandoning the cause of civil liberties. They also break down the recent development of police departments using drones to monitor civilians regarding cooperation with social distancing, and a trend in Texas school districts to arm employees in an effort to deter school shootings.

Jimmy Dore of The Jimmy Dore Show joins our hosts to share blistering remarks about Bernie Sanders, as well as his thoughts on how the Senator and former presidential candidate hasn’t leveraged his movement to push the Democratic agenda left, especially when it comes to the CARES Act.

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“We have a bunch of progressives who we thought were going to fight for us who are rolling over at nuclear speed inexplicably, without getting a goddamn thing back. At least Mitch McConnell, you know what he’s getting. What the fuck is the squad, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren getting? They’re getting nothing except invitations to parties,” exclaims Dore.

Dore goes on to lambast Sanders and other progressive politicians for making symbolic appeals rather than affecting policy.

“There’s no heroes here. There’s nothing but bad guys who are doing evil things to our country while trying to distract us with online news shows with Cardi B. That’s what Bernie Sanders has turned into, a late night talk show host who’s completely ineffective as a Senator, and tweets out platitudes and will not use the power of his movement to get anything done. The reason why you don’t drop out of a presidential campaign when half the states haven’t voted is because you’re supposed to be leading a movement, you fucking jagoff,” says Dore.

You can find the Useful Idiots podcast on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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Bernie Sanders Challenges His Possible Removal From New York Primary Ballot

The presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) submitted a letter to the New York State Board of Elections on Sunday challenging a looming decision on whether to keep him on the ballot for the state’s primary.

Sanders formally suspended his campaign earlier this month, but said that he planned to stay on the ballot in upcoming primaries in order to maximize his influence on the Democratic Party’s platform and rules.

Five days later, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed a budget bill with an obscure provision authorizing the state’s board of elections to remove from the primary ballot those candidates who have withdrawn from the presidential campaign.

Malcolm Seymour, an attorney representing the Sanders campaign, argued in the letter to the board that the provision should not apply to Sanders “retroactively,” since he might have acted differently if it had been in effect when he decided to suspend his campaign.

“The retroactive application of [the change in election law] would severely impact Senator Sanders’ core substantive rights,” Seymour wrote in the letter obtained by HuffPost. “Because of the severity of this potential deprivation, the presumption against retroactive application must operate with maximum force.”

Seymour further noted that the new law merely states that the board of elections “may,” rather than “must,” decide to remove from the ballot candidates who have ended their campaigns for the nomination.

“The legislature would not have given the Board this discretion if the legislature had not anticipated that situations would arise in which a candidate’s removal would be improper,” the lawyer said. “This is clearly one such situation ― Senator Sanders has publicly stated that he wishes to remain a candidate and has formally objected to his removal.” 

Seymour noted that no interested party ― including former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic National Committee and the New York State Democratic Party ― has asked the board of elections to remove Sanders.

“His involuntary erasure from the ballot, on grounds of a law that was not in effect when he announced his campaign’s limited suspension, would sow needless strife and distrust, impeding Senator Sanders’ efforts to unify the Democratic Party in advance of November elections,” Seymour added.

HuffPost reported last Tuesday that the two Democratic members of the board, co-chair Douglas Kellner and commissioner Andrew Spano, were due to meet the following day to decide on Sanders’ potential removal. The two men must reach a unanimous decision in order to cut Sanders from the ballot. Prior to that meeting, Kellner told HuffPost that he thinks he is legally obligated to remove Sanders. Spano expressed ambivalence, however, weighing the inconvenience to county governments against the desire of Sanders supporters for a “voice at the convention.”

Following HuffPost’s reporting, which brought to light the complaints of a select group of local Sanders supporters, a larger contingent of Sanders activists and allies escalated their calls to keep him on the ballot. The board of elections announced that it was delaying its decision until Monday.

The Sanders campaign’s letter to the board on Sunday marks its first official intervention into the deliberations in New York.

Remaining on the ballot in New York is a priority for Sanders because he hopes to win enough convention delegates nationwide for his allies to receive at least 25% of the seats on the three key convention committees in August: those concerning rules and bylaws, the party platform, and convention credentials. A quarter share of the committees’ membership ensures that Sanders’ bloc will have the opportunity to submit a minority report to the convention floor for a vote on matters such as permanently disempowering the party insiders and elected officials known as “superdelegates.” (Sanders’ allies previously helped shepherd through rule changes barring the superdelegates from voting for a presidential candidate on the first convention ballot, but that move applies only to the 2020 nominating contest.)

It is unusual, if not unprecedented, for presidential candidates to continue to compete for convention delegates after formally suspending their campaign. 

But the Biden campaign, which believes that mollifying Sanders’ base would help the former vice president defeat President Donald Trump in November, has already shown a willingness to negotiate with Sanders over delegate allocation. The two campaigns are in talks over how to divvy up the one-third of convention delegates awarded based on statewide primary and caucus results. Normally, candidates who are no longer running can hold on to their share of the two-thirds of delegates awarded based on their primary performance in each congressional district but are not eligible to keep statewide delegates they’ve won.

Currently, there are 11 Democratic presidential candidates who remain on the ballot in New York: Biden; Sanders; Sens. Michael Bennet (Colo.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.); billionaire businessmen Mike Bloomberg and Tom Steyer; former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg; Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii); and entrepreneur Andrew Yang. Aside from Sanders, none of the other candidates who have dropped out of the race have asked to remain on the ballot. Should the board decide to remove all of those candidates, the state’s presidential primary would be canceled. Some 20 of the state’s 62 counties would not hold any primary elections at all as a result.

In late March, Cuomo postponed the New York presidential primary from April 28 to June 23 because of the coronavirus pandemic. That made the presidential primary coincide with New York’s congressional and state legislative primaries. Some left-wing activists in the state hoped that Sanders’ continued presence on the ballot would benefit progressive candidates running for lesser offices who might get the support of Sanders voters who would not otherwise turn out. Those activists now fear the effort to remove Sanders is motivated by a desire to undermine primary challengers.

Larry Cohen, a top Sanders ally and former president of the Communications Workers of America, is urging the board of elections to give Sanders supporters in New York a chance to make their views known.

“Your mission is democracy. Your mission is to let people vote, not to come up with some scheme to stop them,” he said of the board’s responsibility. 

New York state will face issues of its own if it decides to remove Sanders. It will have to get the Democratic National Committee’s approval for a new plan to allocate convention delegates who would otherwise be awarded based on the outcome of the primary. If necessary, Cohen told HuffPost, he is prepared to try to challenge the legitimacy of the state’s delegates in the convention’s credentials committee.

Cohen also cautioned Biden that Sanders’ removal could hinder efforts to rally the Democratic Party’s progressive wing behind the presumptive nominee. 

“This is not the way you build unity,” Cohen said.

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Most Democratic Voters Are Satisfied With Biden, But Fewer Say He Was The Best Option

Most Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters are satisfied to see former Vice President Joe Biden as their presumptive nominee, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll finds, but they’re split on whether he was the party’s best option. The poll was taken after Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Biden’s last remaining rival for the party’s nomination, dropped out of the race, but prior to Sanders’ official endorsement of Biden this week.

Two-thirds of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters say they’re at least satisfied to have Biden as their likely nominee, with 35% describing themselves as enthusiastic. Meanwhile, 28% are dissatisfied or worse, with 13% calling themselves upset. They’re close to evenly divided on whether Biden was Democrats’ best option, with 40% saying he was, 44% that he was not, and the rest unsure.

Views are sharply divided along generational lines. Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters ages 45 and older are roughly four times likelier than those under 45 to call themselves enthusiastic about Biden, and more than twice as likely to regard him as the best choice. Self-described moderates are also far more likely to be enthusiastic than are self-described liberals.

Democratic voters’ divided views of Biden as his party’s presumed nominee are similar to Republicans’ views of Donald Trump after the crowded 2016 GOP primary. Republican and Republican-leaning voters that year were evenly split on whether Trump was the best choice. By contrast, in June 2016, 56% of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters said that Hillary Clinton was their party’s best option, and only 32% didn’t think she was.

As with the 2016 GOP race, the latest poll also finds no evidence of voters belatedly coalescing around any of the winning candidate’s former rivals. Asked which of the lengthy slate of presidential hopefuls they would most like to see chosen if they could restart the primaries, a modest 24% plurality of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters picked Biden, 18% picked Sanders, 16% chose Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and 5% or fewer gravitated toward another candidate.

Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters are, ironically, close to evenly divided on the current cohesiveness of their own party ― 39% say it’s united, while 36% call it divided. By contrast, about two-thirds of Republican and Republican-leaning voters see the GOP as mostly united.

About two-thirds of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters say they’re at least satisfied with the future they see for their party, though just 28% call themselves enthusiastic. A 64% majority say they’re at least somewhat confident that the Democratic primary was conducted fairly, with 38% very confident.

Use the widget below to further explore the results of the HuffPost/YouGov survey, using the menu at the top to select survey questions and the buttons at the bottom to filter the data by subgroups:

The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted April 8-10 among U.S. adults, using a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.

HuffPost has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov’s nationally representative opinion polling. More details on the polls’ methodology are available here.

Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some but not all potential survey errors. YouGov’s reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.

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Useful Idiots: Matt Stoller on the Covid-19 Bailout, Plus Reactions to Bernie's Campaign Suspension

In this week’s quarantine episode of our Useful Idiots podcast, hosts Matt Taibbi and Katie Halper are joined by Matt Stoller, author of Goliath: The 100-Year War Between Monopoly, Power and Democracy, a book that Matt describes as having “venom for all the right people.” He is also the Research Director at the newly formed American Economic Liberties Project.

They discuss the COVID-19 bailout, how economics factors into partisan politics in 2020, what the Democrats and Republicans are both getting wrong, and what Stoller calls “concentrated financial power and consumerism.”

Matt and Katie respond to the backlash against Joe Rogan for his Trump vs. Biden quote, in which Matt describes Rogan’s “off-hand comment about how he likes Trump better than Biden.”

“It’s this moralistic, totally out of touch, and ironically purity politics, where god-forbid people are encouraged to vote,” says Katie. “Do you want them to vote for Trump, or do you want them to vote for the person running against him?”

Our hosts find out in real-time that Bernie Sanders is suspending his 2020 campaign, with Katie initially responding. “I’m actually surprised I’m not crying,” and Matt responding “Well, it’s been over for a while, hasn’t it?”

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Stoller joins the Zoom call to discuss the bailout and election, among other issues of the day. The trio delves into heady territory, breaking down the 1970’s American psyche shift from identifying as citizens/workers/producers to consumers, and how that fight over financial institutions (coupled with a  lack of full understanding) continues within the Democratic party today.

When it comes to the COVID-19 bailout, and Bernie and Warren’s approaches from the more progressive Democratic wing, Stoller discusses the shortcomings. “It wasn’t just them. You saw a total system-failure. You didn’t see any progressive non-profits really noticing the corporate bailouts. I mean, my organization, American Economic Liberties Project, we were basically the only ones saying ‘this is a real catastrophe. Don’t vote for this bill.’”

Stoller’s ultimate assessment? “I think this bailout’s going to be a fiasco, and it’s going to shift a lot of power and wealth upward.”

You can find the Useful Idiots podcast on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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Biden Poised for Democratic Nomination as Sanders Bows Out

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Joe Biden became the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee Wednesday after Bernie Sanders ended his presidential run, setting up the former vice president to face President Donald Trump in November.

Biden will now have to find a way to take on Trump in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic, which has made in-person campaigning impossible and has grabbed the public’s attention away from the 2020 race.

“I want to express my deep gratitude for helping to create an unprecedented grassroots campaign that has had a profound impact on our nation,” Sanders said in a livestreamed address to his followers. “Together we have transformed American consciousness as to what kind of nation we can become.”

While Sanders explicitly conceded the presidential nomination to Biden, he also said he would remain on ballots and continue to collect delegates so that he could push the Democrats closer to his vision.

“I will stay on the ballot and continue to gather delegates,” Sanders said. “But Vice President Biden will be the nominee. We must continue working to assemble as many delegates as possible at the Democratic convention, where we will be able to exert significant influence over the party platform and other functions.”

Biden, who will need to motivate young and progressive voters to turn out in November, promised Sanders’s supporters that he would focus on the issues championed by the Vermont senator, including fighting climate change and income inequality, and fixing the social safety net.

“I see you, I hear you, and I understand the urgency of what it is we have to get done in this country,” he said. “I hope you will join us. You are more than welcome. You’re needed.”

Sanders had endured a string of losses since Super Tuesday on March 3, giving Biden an all but insurmountable lead in delegates. Yet in mid-March he showed little obvious desire to step aside.

Biden has earned more than half the nearly 2,000 delegates needed to secure the nomination, making it nearly impossible for Sanders to have caught up in the nominating races ahead.

Former President Barack Obama has spoken with Sanders and other 2020 Democratic presidential candidates in recent weeks about positioning the party to win in November, a source familiar with the conversations said. The former president and the former candidates, including Sanders, agreed that winning in the fall was paramount, the person said.

By late March, the pandemic all but paralyzed the Democratic race. Most of the states that still had primaries on the calendar were moving to mail-in balloting and the candidates were unable to campaign except through television interviews and livestreams.

Americans’ interest in the campaign waned as well, as the crises in both public health and the economy weighed on their minds.

Trump tweeted that Sanders’s candidacy had been crushed by the Democratic Party and invited the Vermont senator’s followers to join the GOP, which shares a dislike for trade agreements.

“Bernie Sanders is OUT! Thank you to Elizabeth Warren. If not for her, Bernie would have won almost every state on Super Tuesday! This ended just like the Democrats & the DNC wanted, same as the Crooked Hillary fiasco. The Bernie people should come to the Republican Party, TRADE!,” Trump wrote.

Sanders’s campaign was built around some of the most progressive proposals in U.S. political history, including his centerpiece Medicare for All plan to abolish all private insurance and create a government-run health care system. His agenda, which was largely also supported by Elizabeth Warren, pushed the Democratic Party to the left. Biden has already adopted versions of some of Sanders’s ideas such as free public college tuition in a bid to appeal to Sanders’s supporters.

Sanders was the top fundraiser among Democratic candidates, bringing in $169 million through the end of February, with 58% of that amount coming from donors who contributed $200 or less. Biden had raised $88 million, Federal Election Commission filings show, with small-dollar donors providing 35% of his money.

Sanders’s decision to step aside is a marked change from 2016, when he took the primary battle against Hillary Clinton until June, just as Clinton did with Barack Obama in 2008.

A Democratic primary contest that in mid-February had Sanders as the clear front-runner slipped away from the Vermont senator in surprisingly quick fashion.

Sanders scored a strong performance in the first contest in Iowa, and followed up with wins in New Hampshire and Nevada. But an overwhelming defeat to Biden in South Carolina on Feb. 29 was followed by a dismal showing on Super Tuesday, when he won just four of the 14 states holding contests.

Those losses were compounded by others on March 10, including in Michigan, which Sanders had envisioned as a firewall.

Sanders failed to attract African-Americans, who form an essential constituency for any candidate seeking the Democratic nomination, to his campaign. In the Mississippi primary on March 10, Biden won 86% of the black vote, while in South Carolina, the former vice president won almost two-thirds of black voters.

Sanders’s campaign was stalled in October, when he suffered a heart attack. The incident, which the campaign first called chest pains, was the first time a candidate experienced a potentially life-threatening health incident while campaigning for a major party’s presidential nomination.

At 78, Sanders was the oldest candidate in the race and the health scare led to doubts about his fitness to serve, even though he said he had fully recovered and resumed a full slate of campaign activities.

— With assistance by Magan Crane, Max Berley, Emma Kinery, and Bill Allison

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Bernie Sanders Calls For Wisconsin To Delay Upcoming Primary Due To Coronavirus

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Wednesday urged election officials in Wisconsin to postpone the state’s Democratic primary out of concern for the spread of coronavirus. 

“People should not be forced to put their lives on the line to vote, which is why 15 states are now following the advice of public health experts and delaying their elections,” Sanders said in a statement. “We urge Wisconsin to join them.”

The state’s primary is scheduled to take place next Tuesday. 

Sanders, who is vying with former Vice President Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination, said Wisconsin should push back its primary voting day, extend early voting and move entirely toward a vote-by-mail process. 

More than 1 million voters had requested absentee ballots in Wisconsin as of Wednesday morning, according to the state’s elections commission. 

On Wednesday afternoon, the state’s Democratic Party shared a Twitter video reminding voters of the April 7 deadline for mail-in ballots.

The Wisconsin Democratic Party did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Biden leads Sanders in delegates, 1,271 to 914. A candidate needs 1,991 pledged delegates to earn the nomination.

Still, Sanders told “Late Night” host Seth Meyers on Tuesday that he sees a “narrow path” to victory and vowed to stay in the race.

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