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Readers Respond to the Sanders’ Surge, Pt. 1

TPM Reader MR says it’s not all about the presidential horse race …

I’d like to expand on an important disagreement I have with a portion of your recent Editor’s Blog post “Don’t go overboard with this”. It’s a disagreement that I have with you that spans several of your posts, and I think it’s summed up nicely here.

You wrote, “Given the enormous stakes, you don’t just want someone who has a shot. You want to be sure it’s the candidate with the best shot, to the extent you can ascertain that.“ I disagree with this statement vehemently. I suppose this is the liberal version of the old “Buckley Standard”. It’s something that I felt was cynical when he laid it out, and I find defeatist and shortsighted in this context.

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Where Things Stand: Why Did Collins Turn Down Trump Just To Defy His Party, Pursue Pipe Dream?
This is your TPM mid-morning briefing.

There’s got to be something going on behind the scenes here.

Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) has been a bulldog for President Trump from his perch on the House Judiciary Committee for months, most notably with his aggressive defense of the President throughout the impeachment inquiry. Trump rewarded his loyalty by floating to reporters Thursday night that the lawmakers is among the candidates he’s considering to become director of national intelligence.

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Mulling A Possible Contested Convention, Pt. II

Reader RS has a different perspective from AC — “ultimately, the party should be allowed to pick” who wins the nomination, he writes.

Here’s part of his email.

As far as I understand it, the Democratic Party has always required a majority vote at the Convention to nominate a candidate. If that doesn’t occur on the first ballot, pledged delegates are released and the deliberations continue. That reflects the desire to try, as best as possible, to get a consensus nominee.
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Mulling A Possible Contested Convention, Pt. I

Readers have been writing in about the possibility that, by this summer, Democrats could be facing a contested convention — one in which Bernie Sanders is leading in delegates, but without enough to win the nomination outright.

Reader AC reflects on the angst that could result should the party step in and select another nominee.

I get that there are reasons to be worried about Bernie, but I think the worries about the other candidates, and especially a contested convention in which a Bernie clear lead doesn’t translate to a Bernie nomination, should be much more significant.
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Where Things Stand: Sentencing May Not Be The Final Word
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 20: Roger Stone, former adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump, arrives at E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse on February 20, 2020 in Washington, DC. Stone will be sentenced Thursday morning on his convictions for witness tampering and lying to Congress. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Longtime political operative and President Trump confidante Roger Stone will be sentenced this morning, bringing to a close a tumultuous and outright bizarre case that spun out of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.

Or not.

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So Much Bigger Than Roger Stone

Tierney Sneed is at the federal courthouse in DC for Roger Stone’s sentencing this morning. She’ll have the proceedings for you in real time here.

A few weeks ago, the sentencing of Roger Stone seemed like it would be an anti-climax, a colorful footnote to the historic Mueller probe. But now it has become ground zero for the epochal battle to protect the rule of law from the assault of Donald Trump.

How will that play out today?

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Bernie And Obama

The Atlantic published an article yesterday speaking to various Democrats about a primary campaign Bernie Sanders floated against Barack Obama in the 2012 election. Joe Biden referenced that would-be Sanders 2012 campaign in his post-debate comments last night. The senator ultimately didn’t run, and his aides say he was never serious about it.

But another episode in the article stood out.

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Where Things Stand: Judge On Stone Case Speaks For First Time Since Sentencing Scandal
This is your TPM mid-morning briefing.

The judge on Roger Stone’s case will hold a “scheduling” conference call with both Stone’s defense team and the prosecution within the hour, speaking publicly for the first time since the debacle over the Justice Department’s sentencing recommendation for Stone spiraled out of control early last week.

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Readers Reply on Despair and Withdrawal, Part 2

From TPM Reader MC

I can believe that you’re describing a real phenomenon with your recent post. I feel it myself sometimes. My take is that it’s linked to the differential poll response we seem to have observed in the last week or two.

That said, it’s insanity-making, unwise, and unworthy of us.
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Readers Reply on Despair and Withdrawal

TPM Reader DM kind of took my breath away …

In contrast to the decision to withdraw from politics, my wife and I, both recently retired, launched ourselves, for the first time, into the fray. We attended the 2016 women’s march, then she ran for Alabama state house in 2018, knocking on 6000 doors in her attempt to oust an eighty-year-old white male incumbent When that failed, we sold our Alabama home, stored our belongings and moved on January 1 to Arizona for the 2020 election to help Arizona Democrats elect Mark Kelly to the Senate to put a check on this administration. This dark week just reinforces our decision to stand up against a President who is following every authoritarian’s playbook in methodical fashion.

Two TPM Reader Views on Bloomberg

First from TPM Reader EH

I will not vote for Michael Fucking Bloomberg. I’m no kind of “Bernie or Bust” zealot. The only candidate I’ve donated to in this cycle is Warren. I’ll be thrilled to support her or Bernie against Trump. I’ll be perfectly willing to pull the lever for Biden or Klobuchar. I’ll even hold my nose and try to keep my lunch down if I have to vote for Pete. Bloomberg? No fucking way.
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Despair and Withdrawal

I generally don’t like amplifying counsels of despair. As I’ve written previously, optimism is less prediction or analysis as a moral posture toward the world. But I also think it is important to understand what many Democrats, liberals, opponents of President Trump of less defined ideology are feeling. Yes, there’s plenty of anger. There’s plenty of fear. But what I have listened to and noted over his years in the White House are the voices of withdrawal. To be very specific, people who find the news so bad and toxic that they are trying to make a voluntary exit from the public sphere — withdraw into work, family, hobbies. Needless to say, many of us who live politics 24/7 could probably use a bit more focus on those. But what we’re seeing here is something different and more dangerous: the way quasi-authoritarian governments constrict the public sphere, pushing people into their private worlds and away from civic engagement.

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Settling All The (Trump) Family’s Business

We have a lot of different developments coming out of the Justice Department at once. Let’s try to put them in some ordered perspective. We have the brazen interference in the Stone trial which has already led to multiple resignations. We have the breaking news that Andrew McCabe has finally been told that he won’t face any criminal charges. And just now we have news that Bill Barr has assigned a group of outside prosecutors to “review” the prosecution and conviction of Mike Flynn.

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Where Things Stand: Trump Is Just Screaming The Quiet Part Now
MANCHESTER, NH - FEBRUARY 10: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a "Keep America Great" rally at Southern New Hampshire University Arena on February 10, 2020 in Manchester, New Hampshire. New Hampshire will hold its first in the national primary on Tuesday. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

None of us were operating under the illusion that President Trump would somehow stay quiet about the Ukraine scheme post acquittal or this latest effort to politically interfere in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.

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A Reply on Barr

TPM Reader HR disagrees with TB. But I think TB is saying something similar. From HR

I disagree with your reader. I read Barr’s remarks as a signal to Trump that the tweets are getting in the way of Barr doing Trump’s bidding. Kind of like McConnell ignoring Trump’s maximalist tweets during the impeachment trial. Let me do my job and I’ll get you the result you want, trust me. It’s not defiance, it’s a plea to let Trump’s professional henchmen do their job. But it’s a bonus that it can be read wishfully as a plea for independence.

I think TB is saying just the same thing. Barr just wants Trump to allow him to do his dirty work efficiently and in the background. The tweets are making the corrupt enterprise harder to pull off. TB’s point, if I understand it, is that Trump is too dominance motivated to understand, too impulsive not to need to hit back.

Could Barr Have a Problem?

I’m pretty skeptical it will come to this. But I think TPM Reader TB makes a good point that is worth keeping an eye on.

I can’t avoid the conclusion that Barr will now inevitably be fired because (as you have pointed out) Trump sees everything through the lens of a domination ritual, and Barr attempted to be the dom on TV just now by saying it’s impossible for him to do his job with Trump’s constant tweeting. The commentary about how Barr just wants Trump to shut up so he can keep doing corrupt things for Trump with a veneer of legality or acceptability is irrelevant, is too complex a thought for Trump, and is not a game that Trump has the patience to play. Trump must win every domination ritual, and the only way to reestablish dominance in this situation is to fire Barr. My guess is it will happen after a period of weeks.

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From Facebook To CNN To Fever Swamps: How Bogus Stone Juror Story Emerged

How did we get to this point?

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Where Things Stand: Warnings From The Outside
This is your TPM mid-morning briefing.
on January 31, 2017 in Washington, DC.

In the past 24 hours, two ex officials — both ousted by the mercurial Trump — have spoken out against the administration for actions that prompted his impeachment– former White House chief of staff John Kelly and the ex-ambassador and impeachment witness Marie Yavonovitch.

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Where Things Stand: Echoes Of Obstruction
This is your TPM early afternoon briefing.

The debate over whether President Trump pressured the attorney general to shorten his former associate Roger Stone’s sentencing recommendation or if the Justice Department acted on its own is missing the point. This is all bad.

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Stone Debacle Takes Fears About Trump Influencing Mueller Probe To Next Level

Remember the all-consuming panic that President Trump would exert political influence on special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe?

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The Billionaire Question

From TPM Reader AL

I completely agree that Bloomberg’s ads are very persuasive. I also feel something is missing from the discussion on your blog. If we have a billionaire nominee because that person was the best individual in the primary, well so be it. I would prefer if the nominee was not a billionaire, but in that situation the best candidate won and I certainly don’t think billionaires should be barred from running.
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