US News (4)

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg opening ...
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg opening the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Dems to Bloomberg: Don't run
Senate Democrats say former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has almost no chance of winning the presidency if he mounts an independent run and would likely only act as a spoiler. ..... A new Reuters/Ipsos poll shows Bloomberg’s entry into the race would cut Clinton’s lead over Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump from 10 percentage points to six. ..... A recent Morning Consult poll showed that Bloomberg has only 13 percent support in a three-way match against Trump and Clinton. ..... Sources close to Bloomberg say the most likely scenario for him to get into the race would be if Trump or conservative Texas Sen. Ted Cruz won the Republican nomination and Sanders, a self-described socialist, won the Democratic nod. ...... But even if Clinton wins the Democratic primary, Bloomberg might still run if she looks weak enough to give him an opening for success. .....

He will likely have to make a decision before the end of March in order to get his name on the ballot in all 50 states. The outcomes of the Democratic and Republican primary fights may not be known at that time.

....... One Senate Republican speculated that he might even be able to carry New York state — an unlikely possibility but one that would prove devastating to Democratic chances of winning. .......

Bloomberg is widely seen as a pragmatic centrist. He was a longtime registered Democrat who switched his party affiliation to Republican before running to become mayor of New York. He left the GOP to become an independent before running for a third mayoral term.

...... “He’s not been known to make a lot of unwise decisions. He’s been known to make pretty good decisions. I think he’ll evaluate it pretty well.”

Iowa and New Hampshire Are As Good As It Gets for Bernie Sanders
You don't have to be white and liberal to support Bernie Sanders, but it is a thing. ..... his biggest challenge is to find some traction in states dominated by centrist and minority voters. ..... the top three states by this measurement are Vermont (59 percent), New Hampshire (54 percent), and Iowa (50 percent). ..... Sanders could prove to have greater appeal among African-Americans and Latinos — and maybe even non-liberal white folks .....

we should not underestimate the media reaction to back-to-back Clinton losses in Iowa and New Hampshire

...... Sanders would have an avalanche of momentum going for him after wins in Iowa and New Hampshire. The national press corps, which spins even minor stories into crises for Clinton, would portray Clinton’s campaign as being in a meltdown. Momentum usually matters in the primaries — and sometimes it matters a lot ....... if Sanders wins Iowa Monday, the odds of him winning New Hampshire, perhaps by a big margin, are extremely high.

The Trump Party vs. the Republican Party
a party that is cleft in two. But there is something puzzling and ethereal about this schism. The opposing factions are not divided over a policy question, like pro– and anti–Vietnam War Democrats in 1968, or pro- and anti-slavery Whigs in the 1850s. ....... Trump’s main policy differentiator is immigration, and here he differs from his opponents only in tone and emphasis. ....... Trump is offering something genuinely transformational.

His candidacy would reshape the Republican Party as more of a European-style white-identity party

, rather than a party rooted in opposition to big government. ....... a welfare state whose benefits should be restricted to people like us. ...... Richard Nixon’s “silent majority,” Ronald Reagan’s disdain for “welfare queens,” both presidents Bush depicting their opponents as elitist fops — these are all iterations of white identity politics. The second President Bush took the racial edge off his appeal without losing the cultural thrust. ....... his racial demagoguery .... Cultural appeal was the means, and economics the ends. What conservatives fear is that Trump might upend that delicate, unstated system by turning the means into the ends. ...... He has in the past praised single-payer health care, proposed higher taxes on the wealthy, and supported Democrats, casting justifiable suspicions on his true intentions. ...... Trump has promised to save Social Security, to raise taxes on the rich, to let Medicare negotiate down the price of the prescription drugs it finances,

and to replace Obamacare with “something terrific.”

......... Conservatives justifiably fear that Trump could upend this configuration — that he might use populism not just as an electoral strategy but as a governing blueprint.

How Barack Obama has reformed America’s prisons
Mr Obama continues to emphasise action over rhetoric. Nowhere is this more evident than in his continuing efforts to reform the criminal justice system, an American institution that incarcerates nearly 1m black people. According to statistics provided by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the fact-gathering wing of the Department of Justice,

non-Hispanic blacks make up about 13% of America’s population and about 40% of its prison population.

........ at its heart, America is a nation of second chances
Obama targets gender pay gap with plan to collect companies’ salary data
would require every large company in America to report employees' pay based on race and gender, an effort to reduce longstanding pay inequities for women and minorities. ...... would order companies with at least 100 employees to add salary numbers on a form they already annually submit that reports employees’ sex, age and job groups .......

Oftentimes, folks are doing the same job and being paid differently

......... if company data shows typical female managers earn, say, 25 percent less than typical male managers, the government may launch an investigation. ...... The EEOC also intends to turn the aggregated data into an annual salary report, showing the average pay for workers in different sectors and industries across the country ....... The measure also abolished all “gag rules,” which prevented federal contractors from discussing their salaries. ...... The proposed policy, she said, would “allow enforcement agencies to look at it, and it will allow researchers to get at it. It’s definite progress.” ...... Federal law has prohibited pay discrimination since 1963. But in the United States, women on average earn 79 cents for every dollar paid to men. The gap widens by race, with black women ........ Women, for example, concentrate in low-paying jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while male-dominated fields, like finance and technology, tend to pay more. Mothers also tend more time off work than fathers to care for children, delaying professional growth and promotion opportunities. ........

“Discrimination is not necessarily overt or conscious,” Blau said. “It could be subtle. People have stereotypes about males and females, and they can creep in during hiring or promotion decisions.”

...... Bosses in corner offices may not be aware that men in their company may make, say, 20 percent more than their female counterparts.

Rihanna's Anti Capitalism
The new way to make money off a blockbuster album
her tweeting out a free download code for an album that fans have spent three years anticipating. ..... The Recording Industry Association was then able to certify Anti as platinum—one million downloads or physical copies sold in the U.S., as opposed to streams—within about 14 hours of its release. ....... Another financial factor is that Rihanna is a co-owner of Tidal; the platform’s success is to some extent also her success. It getting Anti before Apple or Spotify probably counts as its biggest win yet in the streaming wars. The many people who used the free download code for Anti are also possible new Tidal customers (they’re each eligible for two-month subscriptions, and the company now has their contact info). Tidal reps said the album was streamed 13 million times in 14 hours.
'Autism in Love': Dating and Courtship on the Spectrum

Why Isn't Bernie Sanders's Superior Foreign-Policy Judgment a Decisive Edge?
The Vermont senator seems far less likely to start a war of choice as president, but that doesn’t seem to count for much in the Democratic primary.
Bernie is off to Hillary's left—either genuinely or rhetorically—but in office they'd both be constrained to the same place. ....... Hillary doesn't want to highlight her relative hawkishness in a Democratic primary and Bernie doesn't really want to highlight what his dovishness would mean in practice. ...... she’s a bit more electable than her opponent and a bit more likely to broker effective deals with Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. “There have been a million noxious compromises along the way, but that's how politics works in the real world. Plus I'd love to see a woman in the White House,” he concludes. “I like Bernie. I like what he says. If I believed he could do all the stuff he talks about, he'd have my vote. But I don’t.” ........ the consequences of the Iraq War that Hillary Clinton favored: ..... The rise of ISIS......Hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis.......Roughly 4,500 dead American soldiers.....Tens of thousands of Americans wounded.....

$6 trillion in costs.

......... War must be the last recourse in international relations, not the first. ....... We are opposed by Osama bin Laden and religious fanatics who are prepared to engage in a kind of warfare that we have never experienced before. ..... “An attack on Iraq at this time would seriously jeopardize, if not destroy, the global counterterrorist campaign we have undertaken.” ..... Who will govern Iraq when Saddam Hussein is removed and what role will the U.S. play in ensuing a civil war that could develop in that country? Will moderate governments in the region who have large Islamic fundamentalist populations be overthrown and replaced by extremists? .......

Sanders has much better foreign-policy judgment than Hillary Clinton. You could hardly make up a more stark illustration. They were on different sides of the most consequential and disastrous war since Vietnam. Yet this difference is dismissed as if it amounts to no more than an afterthought in most comparisons.

....... Clinton lobbied President Obama to help orchestrate a regime change in Libya. Predictably, that country is in chaos too ...... Hawkish Democrats should vote for Clinton. ..... Another dumb war of choice is much more likely with Clinton in the White House.

Why the Gap Between Worker Pay and Productivity Is So Problematic
Labor has become more efficient and profitable, but employees aren't sharing in the benefits.
The stock market may be booming, corporate profits increasing, and home values rising, but middle and lower-class workers often don't truly feel the benefit of such improvements unless wages rise. ...... Though productivity (defined as the output of goods and services per hours worked) grew by about 74 percent between 1973 and 2013, compensation for workers grew at a much slower rate of only 9 percent during the same time period ...... companies and the people who own and run them are doing much better than the people who work at the companies. ...... Large businesses and the people who run them, and invest in them, are thriving but working and middle-class Americans are struggling—as are many small businesses. ..... systematic underinvestment in the commons, which is a set of shared resources that every business needs in order to be productive: an educated populace, pools of skilled labor, a vibrant network of suppliers, strong infrastructure, basic R&D and so on. ....... the decline in collective bargaining and the weakening of labor unions. ....... weakened the connections between companies and their communities ..... intense pressure on the middle class, which found itself competing for jobs with hundreds of millions of skilled, ambitious workers around the world—so this is the point at which we see the divergence between productivity growth and median-wage growth. ........... For those who had unique skills, this became a golden age because now those individuals were able to sell their talents around the world, amplified by technology. ....... We could have doubled down on making the middle class so capable that it could compete with anyone, but I think instead, what we did collectively is we made a series of unsustainable promises to maintain the illusion of prosperity. Promises like let's extend credit to the middle class so that people can consume—especially houses; promises like the government will increasingly cover your healthcare costs in retirement; promises like the government will directly employ you. You then take those promises, couple them with a nasty recession and two wars and you wind up with a government that is physically hobbled and politically divided. So

from government and from business you've got a systematic underinvestment in those shared resources that we need for the middle class to thrive.

............... Without a strong middle class we see weak consumption. .......

The damage done by underinvestment is a self-inflicted wound.

...... companies can't thrive for long if their communities are struggling. ...... The current path is one where federal policy makers squabble for partisan gains, delay tough choices, and make America a less attractive place to compete. Business leaders pursue their narrow short-term interest and free ride off each other's investments—the business environment deteriorates, businesses leave America, the government enacts anti-business policies, companies reduce their U.S. activities further, and distrust deepens. ........ far-better path possible.

Federal policy makers put their long-term fiscal house in order, invest in infrastructure, enact policies that make America a great place to do business.

........ a skilled workforce, to upgrade local suppliers, to foster innovation, to reinforce education ...... with robust growth, government and business gather the resources to reinvest in making the business environment better and better over time. ..... The first steps down that attractive path are fairly clear

Can We Ever Take a 3rd Party Run Seriously?
Here's Ralph Nader with some advice for Michael Bloomberg.
The biggest variable Bloomberg faces is whether the two parties will nominate candidates he considers to be polarizing figures representing the extremes of each party: Donald Trump—or worse, Ted Cruz—and Senator Bernie Sanders. ...... the speaker is John Crittenden of the Constitutional Union Party. The year is 1860 and Crittenden is arguing to push the uncomfortable issue of slavery down the road once again. The "statesmen of great integrity" are John Bell and Edward Everett, the CUP's national ticket in that year's election. The man whose election would be "a great calamity" was the Republican nominee, a gawky Illinois lawyer named Abraham Lincoln. ......... We have problems in this country with how we have chosen to govern ourselves. The only solution to most of them are rigorous, involved, and occasionally raucous politics.

What The Washington Post (and Nearly Everyone) Gets Wrong About Bernie Sanders
Every presidential campaign is necessary aspirational.
The Washington Post, a once-great newspaper now doing business as an adjunct to the home delivery industry ..... There's nothing like the scorn of the Church Of The Savvy. ...... Fred and his minions find Sanders' proposals to be unrealistic, an insight now shared by almost every putatively liberal pundit, as well as every gas station attendant between Des Moines and Ottumwa. ....... Wall Street has already undergone a round of reform, significantly reducing the risks big banks pose to the financial system. The evolution and structure of the world economy, not mere corporate deck-stacking, explained many of the big economic challenges the country still faces. And even with radical campaign finance reform, many Americans and their representatives would still oppose the Sanders agenda. .......

"The evolution and structure of the world economy" is a nice touch, especially coming from folks with sinecures in places like the editorial boards of once-great newspapers. (Talk to a steelworker.)

..... the many legitimate checks and balances in the political system that he cannot wish away. ..... there is no indication from recent history that President Hillary Rodham Clinton will be treated any differently than either President Bernie Sanders or the guy who has the job at the moment. She claims that her financial-reform package is tougher than both the existing Dodd-Frank regime and the proposals put forth by Sanders. If we assume that to be the case, then her proposal is as dead as Kelsey's nuts in the House of Representatives. So, by the way, would be any attempt to use the Affordable Care Act as a stepping-stone to true universal health-care. ....... His proposals may seem a bit blue-sky, but are they really as improbable as Ted Cruz's promises to roll us back to the Counter-Reformation, or Marco Rubio's threats to go to war in Iran, or Jeb (!) Bush's sudden lust for a second Constitutional Convention? Every single Republican candidate is pledged to the death to defend the complete fiction that is supply-side economics. ........

What Bernie Sanders proposes may be blue-sky stuff, but at least it's looking at the sky. It's not the shoe-gazing trudge toward oligarchy with which The Washington Post is comfortable.

Poll shows Bloomberg has a good shot at becoming president

Mike Bloomberg has a better chance of becoming president as an independent candidate than most people realize, a new poll found Thursday.

....... The survey by veteran pollster Frank Luntz

shows Bloomberg within striking distance

of the two leading major party candidates — Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary ­Clinton. ........

Bloomberg would garner 29 percent, compared to 37 percent for Trump and 33 percent for Clinton.

Bernie Sanders tries to be the next Barack Obama in Iowa, not the next Howard Dean
“the energy, the enthusiasm is with our campaign.” ....... Obama bested Clinton by motivating huge numbers of voters who normally wouldn’t participate in the caucus process to show up. Sanders himself is doubtful his campaign can reproduce the turnout Obama achieved, saying this week that the 2008 election “is really going to stay in the history books. It was an unbelievable campaign. In places they ran out of ballots, as I understand it.” ........

he will be using a lot of the same organizational tools Obama did

...... Targeting technologies pioneered by Obama’s campaign have made it possible for outsider candidates like Sanders to turn out Iowans who a decade ago might have showed up at a rally and then faded away before the caucuses. Now, computers can quickly link them up with a caucus coach who can walk them through the bewildering voting process and even make sure they have a ride on election night. ......

ultimately, much of the work of sealing a commitment from voters happens through human contact

....... the Sanders campaign has been rushing to build the infrastructure to capture enthusiasm and turn it into votes. ...... Sanders has invested heavily in field offices, opening nearly two dozen in Iowa, just a few less than the much better-funded Clinton operation.

The offices are a crucial hub for connecting with voters, and Obama opened an unprecedented 37 in Iowa in 2008.

........ Another problem for Sanders is that everything he is doing, Clinton is also doing. Her campaign is determined not to be out-organized in Iowa again, and many of the strategists who set up Obama’s infrastructure are now working to elect her. ....... Clinton is, of course, using the same tactics. ...... The enthusiasm for Sanders, meanwhile, tends to be concentrated in a few parts of the state where there are big college campuses. That creates a challenge on caucus night, when the victor is decided by how many local precincts choose them, not the total number of votes they garner statewide. ...... It’s a big problem that did not affect Obama, even though his support was also concentrated in college towns. The caucuses were held in early January of 2008, when most students were home on break, so they voted all over the state. ....... he wants help college students return to their hometowns to caucus, rather than just gathering on campus, to spread support as widely as possible.......“We’ve rented every van in a four-state area” ......

said he became a fan of the senator after watching the debates and researching his speeches on YouTube.

...... “I said, ‘This is the guy,’” Miller said. “Everything I support, he supports.” .....

“She’s like a robot,” he said. “Bernie talks with passion.”

...... “He gets at the issue more. I feel like Hillary skirts around it,” said Hannah Will, 20, a nursing student at Luther College who has attended speeches from both candidates.