Monday, July 24, 2017

A More Thoughtful Letter to an Angry Clintonite

Some recent comments by the Senate Democratic Leader has prompted Clintonite Hillary Schwartz to write "An Angry Letter To Chuck Schumer," in which she asserts that the New York Senator has thrown Hillary Clinton under the bus. Her subject line: "When You Throw Hillary Clinton Under the Bus, You Throw Millions of Her Supporters Under It Too, Especially Women." A brief response:

Get over yourself. When you assert, "I speak for millions of women," you’re not going to get--or earn--anything but ridicule from anyone worthy of being taken seriously. To clear the air on the subject under discussion, this is the allegedly terrible thing Chuck Schumer said:

"'When you lose to somebody who has 40 percent popularity, you don’t blame other things — Comey, Russia--you blame yourself,' Schumer (D-N.Y.) told The Washington Post’s Ed O’Keefe and David Weigel. 'So what did we do wrong? People didn't know what we stood for, just that we were against Trump. And still believe that.'"

That’s not riding some wave of "Hillary hate"; it’s what's known as taking responsibility. For Clintonites who have never learned about that, it's what adults do when they screw up, as Democrats have so royally screwed up in recent years.

Now, if it's any consolation, Schumer is probably just putting on a show when it comes to reform. For the moment, he can tell which way the wind's blowing but if he were serious, he would have offered a much more forthright acknowledgement of the colossal mistake that was Clinton and, more broadly, Clintonism, as embraced by Obama.

You write:
"Unfortunately, you are following the lead of Bernie Sanders whose outreach on behalf of the Party is 'Democrats suck.' That is not a winning pitch, other than for him."
Unfortunately for you, we have numbers on this and they tell a very different story. From the big Harvard/Harris survey:

This is a couple months out of date at this point but I have the graphic handy and the numbers haven't changed that much since. On the other hand, the numbers have changed a great deal since your talking-points were minted around 2 years ago. Bernie Sanders enjoys massive support among Democrats. You play the usual game of pretending as if Sanders was just the candidate of middle-class white guys; these numbers correct that. In the same poll, he's not only more popular with women than with men, he's significantly more popular with women than Hillary Clinton (Sanders has 58% support among women, Clinton only 45%). He's even more popular among those who voted for Clinton than Clinton herself (81% of Clinton voters say they have a favorable view of Sanders vs. 76% with a similar view of Clinton). So you're not actually speaking for anyone when it comes to this pointless hypersensitivity about Democrats taking any responsibility for their mistakes. You talk about having been "thrilled to vote for HRC" but HRC was hated by most people--on election week, she was polling at 55% unfavorable. You're complaining about Schumer allegedly rolling over the Democratic base but this is the Democratic base, and you’re not representative of it.

Democrats have been brought to one of their lowest levels in the very long history of the party. Doing nothing isn't an option. Sanders' message isn't "Democrats suck." It's that Democrats need to proactively embrace a progressive agenda. That's not only entirely sensible, it's essential for Democrats if they ever want to dig themselves out of the very deep hole in which they find themselves at the moment.[1]

Like so many Clintonites, you freely assign nefarious motives to Sanders with absolutely nothing to support your claims--the ludicrous notion that he's "not interested" in helping the party and is merely "playing both sides of the fence… to boost himself." Sanders has a progressive agenda he's pursued significantly longer than most people reading these words today have even lived. If, after all that time, he hasn't proven that agenda is the thing to which he’s committed, no one has ever proven such a thing of themselves. Sanders wants the Democratic party to reform so it can win and enact that agenda. Said agenda is incredibly popular, enjoying not only overwhelming support within the Democratic party but widespread support from the general public. Some good news for those who want it: Sanders is also the most popular politician in the U.S. at the moment. No positive purpose is served in smearing him with this garbage and no end is served except to harm the progress of that agenda. Donald Trump and his Trumpanzees will certainly appreciate that. No one of good conscience should offer it a moment's kind thought.

Here are the facts of life: Clinton was not only a bad candidate, she was an historically bad one who launched her campaign when polls were already showing more people disliked than liked her, ran one of the all-time awful campaigns and lost to the most unpopular major-party presidential candidate in the history of polling. She and those who supported her--and Schumer himself was a key member of Team Clinton--have saddled us with Trump. Democrats are now looking to pick up the pieces and try to rebuild. You can be a part of that process or write things like your "open letter," which is basically a declaration that you're part of the problem instead. Choose wisely. This time.

--j.

---

[1] You write:
"I understand the urgency of having a more cohesive and strong economic message, as well as boosting support, but how about surrounding it with an overall positive message by going straight to the plans that the Democrats have and what the Democrats have and are fighting for? Must you do an anti-sell with the sell?"
Despite your implication, Schumer and the congressional Democrats are already rolling out the broad outlines of that positivist economic message. It's still early days, so somewhat sketchy and experience has dictated one should be fairly cynical about the commitment of these Democratic leaders to any genuine reform but at least on paper, they’re making steps in the right direction. Your suggestion that they simply not address what got them to their present sorry state is a non-starter.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Exposing Faux-Progressive Clintonite’s Latest Anti-Sanders Scam

Another piece from Medium: In my last few months on Medium, I've frequently challenged the claims of a clique of hardcore Clintonites who seem to be fairly concentrated here. Essentially a cult of personality built around Clinton herself, the writers of this clique are intent on perpetually scourging both Bernie Sanders and progressives in the name of Hillary Clinton. Because Clinton herself sometimes posed as a progressive, this scourging is, perversely, often even done in the name of progressivism.

In the latter category falls "Progressivism: Bernie's Doing It Wrong," the latest screed by Val Perry (previously, Val Perry Rendel). Perry is an obsessed Clintonite crackpot, if not the worst on Medium certainly the most unhinged. Her view of Clinton: "We love her... she's goddamn brilliant and fearless and formidable and terrifying." I first came across Perry in April, in an ugly rant entitled "Fuck Bernie Fucking Sanders" in which she expressed her venomous, completely irrational hatred of Sanders and his supporters and declared her intention to make ceaseless war on both until they go away. She ended with a statement of the principle that would guide her in the conduct of this war: "See you on the low road." I dismantled that article and some others that followed. Those debunkings have mostly occurred secondhand, as Perry blocked me pretty quickly, something she seems to do to any more-than-semi-articulate critic.


Perry is a loon, a demagogue and as congenital a liar as the "President" she claims to despise,[1] all traits on display to various degrees in her new piece, which sees her spinning up a new variation on a tactic Clinton used during the Democratic primary campaign. Boring background stuff: The appropriations bills that fund the federal government are massive and contain thousands of items. When congress considers them, amendments are added and taken away, deals are cut, compromises are made, items both good and bad end up attached to them and at the end, congressmen and senators must vote yea or nay on the entire package, each member having to decide whether the good in them outweighs the bad. Hillary Clinton was a senator--she knows how this works. Despite that, she would, in commenting on Bernie Sanders' congressional record, dig through those massive appropriations bills, pull out one item and insist Sanders had voted for or against that item based on his vote on the entire package of which it was a part. Even as sycophantish a pro-Clinton outlet as the Washington Post condemned Clinton for this practice.

By this method, Perry, in her latest trip down the low road, sets out to prove Sanders isn't really a progressive, a theme she's hit in the past.[2] She provides a list of all the alleged anti-progressive things Sanders has done while in congress. Relevant here is the fact that Perry aggressively blocks articulate critics of her material; while she provides links for each item on her list, she relies on her adoring readers not to check them. If one looks into them, one finds that same Clinton-style scam from last year. Perry's assertion that Sanders "opposed legislation banning imports from forced child labor," for example, leads one to an appropriations bill from 1998 that funded the entire Treasury Department. The claim that Sanders "opposed allowing breastfeeding on federal grounds" leads to the Treasury Department appropriation for 2000. Perry Reader Daniel Sullivan pointed out that, in reality, Sanders stands up for women who breastfeed in public. Sanders has championed banning the importation of products from forced child labor for years.

Anyone who goes looking for anti-progressive votes by Sanders isn't going to come up with much and in silent recognition of this, Perry carries Clinton's tactic further and pads her own list with the same item repeatedly. Follow this: Perry's claim that Sanders "opposed federal funding to help the homeless," that he "opposed additional funding for rural housing and development," that he "opposed funding for assisting prospective homeowners with AIDS," that he "opposed legislation requiring federal agencies to create and enforce anti-sex discrimination politics," that he "opposed funding going towards investigations of unfair trade practices," that he "opposed increased education funding," that he opposed "increased funding for poor students," that he "opposed legislation increasing financial aid," that he "opposed increased agricultural funding,” that he "opposed increased funding for prominent farming communities," that he "opposed funding for drought assistance" and that he "opposed increased food safety and inspection"--all of these claims--are all based on a single Sanders vote against a single appropriations bill from 2003. There are 29 items on Perry's list and that one vote accounts for 12 of them. The claims that Sanders "opposed increased funding for nutritional programs for women, infants and children" and "opposed legislation marketing overseas agricultural practices" (how's that for a big progressive issue, eh?) are, likewise, based on a single vote on a single Agriculture Department funding bill from 1995.

Perry also includes Sanders' proposal that the U.S. withdraw from the World Trade Organization. The WTO is, of course, another of those grant-superpowers-to-multinationals orgs--Sanders proposal there was a progressive one. It's noteworthy that this is the sole item on the list wherein Perry deals with something Sanders has proposed; everything else is just assertions about things he allegedly opposed, which seems a rather curious way to judge the credentials of a progressive.

I’ve referred to this as Perry's list but while publishing it under her name, she doesn't actually take responsibility for it. Instead, she asserts "someone has compiled his [Sanders'] list of greatest hits, reproduced here for your edification." The "someone" is unnamed. Looking over what I've just covered here, readers can make of that what they will.

Perry's central thesis in this piece, that Sanders isn't a progressive, is, of course, ludicrous. A short trip over to Vote Smart will reveal to the uninitiated that Sanders has sterling ratings from liberal interest groups and exceptionally poor ones from their conservative counterparts.[3] Among other things, Sanders has gotten a 95%-100% liberal rating--usually 100%--from Americans For Democratic Action every year since 1996, with the exception of 2011 (when he was at 80%). At the same time, he holds a whopping 6% career score from ADA's rightist counterpart, the American Conservative Union. Zipping over to Progressive Punch, one finds Sanders has a 96.96% progressive rating.[4] By any serious estimation, he's one of the most progressive members of either house of congress and has been for the entirety of his stay there and Perry's assertion to the contrary is sheer crackpotism.

--j.

---

[1] While I deal with a few specifics here and in my other rebuttals aimed at her, one must, to get the full flavor of her mania, read her.

[2] And she goes about it in pretty much the same way she has in the past, accusing Sanders, in her opening, of "telling black folks they don't know what's best for 'em," of "dismissing racial justice as 'identity politics'" and of "throwing abortion rights down the toilet." And, of course, Sanders has done none of those things. Sanders was dismissive of Southern states during the primary/caucus campaign--the basis for Perry's claim regarding "black folks"--because those states are overly conservative and don't contribute anything toward a general-election win. Sanders has stood for racial justice all of his life. On abortion, Sanders holds a 100% lifetime record from both Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Rights Action League.

[3] The usual caveat about interest-group ratings: they're always framed to make their own players look better. "Better" is relative though, whereas Sanders' ratings are impeccable.

[4] I'm not a fan of Progressive Punch's system, which is convoluted and built on very questionable premises.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Hating On Hillary's Detractors: What the Left Really Doesn't Need

Susan Brassfield Cogan has written a brief piece, "Hating On Hillary: What the Left Really Wants." It is, at heart, a plea for an affirmative agenda by progressives, a good idea indeed if progressives want to win, but Cogan weakens her argument with some very wrongheaded premises. Having a little time on my hands this afternoon, I thought I'd address them.

Cogan begins with an unsupportable premise, that, if you're a progressive, Hillary Clinton is 90% your friend and ally. She isn't with you on everything, but she is on most things. It is, of course, impossible to actually quantify something that abstract with a number--that 90% is just an emotional impression, a ballpark estimation. Tasked with coming up with a similar number, a lot of progressives--specifically, those at whom Cogan is aiming her comments--would say Clinton was more like a 20% friend and a very unreliable 20% at that. Just as unquantifiable but their own emotional impressions would be much closer to the truth.

During the 2016 election cycle, it was a common failing in Clintonite commentators to make assessments of Clinton's politics based on policy positions officially advocated by the Clinton campaign and Cogan's own ballpark figure seems to reflect this. If one reduces the official platforms of Clinton and her 2016 primary opponent Bernie Sanders down to a series of simplistic bullet-points, the two would look remarkably similar but such a process conceals far more than it reveals and ultimately produces a gross misimpression. Not all policies are equal; candidates may agree on 9 policies of little consequence but have a fundamental disagreement with one very big, critical issue and on paper, it's still 90% agreement between them.[1] And, of course, one can't take some politicians at their word and Hillary Clinton is one of the best--worst--examples of that. For the whole of her time in the national spotlight, she's been an unprincipled triangulator whose instincts, in a liberal party, are conservative. Her politicking is straight '90s "New Democrat" Dick Morris stuff--throw your own base under the bus in order to portray both left and right as extremes and to position yourself as the sensible center. She looks out for herself before all other things and has never once taken point on any controversial issue, always opting to follow the trends and play it safe. She didn't have some sort of sudden epiphany on gay marriage in 2012 when she flip-flopped on her previous opposition and came out in favor of it; the only thing that had changed was that a majority of Americans had started telling pollsters they supported rather than opposed it. That tide of public opinion changed in 2010; Clinton waited two more years to make sure it was a "safe" position to take. That's how she's always operated. Whenever an election looms, she'll take any position she thinks she must to win. On most of the important ones, she plays the liberal then scurries right back to the right as soon as the election is over. Sometimes, her complete lack of principles is transparent. Clinton joined Sanders, for example, in decrying the corrupting influence of money in politics and endorsing campaign finance reform--for progressives, the single-most important issue in politics and the one around which every other issue turns. Then, out of the other side of her mouth, she angrily rejected the notion that politicians accepted campaign contributions for votes, thus forcefully rejecting the entire premise of reform. So the apparent similarities between Clinton and Sanders in a simplistic paper analysis is very misleading.


Cogan opts to follow the hardest-core (and least thoughtful) Clintonite writers in insisting progressive opposition to Clinton was rooted merely in unreasonable "ideological purity" demands and that's simply not a supportable position. The divisions between Clinton and Sanders were real and substantial.

Cogan's only case for her own assessment that Clinton is a 90% friend is to note several bad things Donald Trump has done since assuming office and to assert that Clinton wouldn't have done those things, a fairly bizarre argument given the context of her own article. Clinton probably wouldn't have done most of the things Cogan lists (though Cogan overstates her case) but Cogan's article addresses a dispute within the Democratic party, a milieu wherein few indeed would ever suggest a Clinton presidency would be worse than Trump. Saying someone is a friend because they'd be better than Trump is setting the bar about as low as it can go, and trying to make an affirmative case for a pol merely because said pol will defend past successes is a reactionary argument. In an article that's supposed to be making a plea for an affirmatively progressive agenda, what's up with that?

Finally, Cogan's fundamentally misguided focus on Clinton critics is worth a few words. It's over a year since the Democratic primary contest ended, yet everywhere Democratic politics are discussed on the internet, people are still getting into vitriolic wars over it. Cogan's own article is a response to this development but for someone with her goal, she's points her finger in a very wrong direction. These fights continue because a mouthy faction of Clinton's die-hards, aware that Clinton's loss indicts them, have decided to make war on progressives, whom they ludicrously blame for Clinton's loss. They're unrepentant, relentlessly hostile to Sanders and his supporters and intent on refighting the 2016 primaries over and over again.[1] Any time Sanders' name is even mentioned in mixed company, they boil out of the woodwork, spewing lies, slanders and nonsense left over from the campaign,[2] damning progressives to hell and making any sort of reasoned discussion impossible. For all their noise, the polling makes clear they're relatively few in number. The monthly Harvard-Harris poll shows Democrats have largely moved on from 2016;[3] while Clinton is less popular than even Trump, Bernie Sanders is now the most popular politician in the U.S. and is, in fact, consistently more popular with people who voted for Clinton than is Clinton herself. Clinton is the political equivalent of a dead woman--she'll never run for office again--but Sanders is not only still a Senator, he's the most prominent exponent of progressive policies in American politics. That's good news for progressive policies--there's no downside to having the most beloved politician working for your cause--but demented Clintonites will have none of that. To the extent that their constant scurrilous attacks on Sanders have any significant impact, they're really just hurting the progressive cause, which no doubt fills them with glee but it should be a matter of concern for a professed progressive like Cogan. For the moment, the overwhelming majority of Democrats are pretty much united. Cogan lists some things she thinks should comprise an affirmative agenda for the political left and they're all things progressives support (though not all things Clinton supported). If, as she says, she wants progressives to stand together and behind them, it would seem a good idea to direct her scolding toward the faction that, over eight months after the election, is still actively--and pointlessly--sewing discord in the ranks.

--j.

---

[1] A much-circulated talking-point during the campaign was that in the years Clinton and Sanders’ respective Senate tenures overlapped, the two voted the same 93% of the time. In reality, the overwhelming majority of those votes--and this is always the case when one goes bulk-rate on the congressional record--are on entirely inconsequential matters. So, again, a misrepresentation.

[1] Clinton spurs them on by turning up in public and, as is her habit over the last few decades, casting blame for her loss in every direction while, herself, accepting no more than superficial responsibility.

[2] Lies, slanders and nonsense I've been addressing in some detail in a string of articles over the last few months.

[3] Some have moved on a bit too quickly. Clinton ran an historically bad presidential campaign and lost to a joke, a protofascist clown, the most unpopular major-party presidential candidate in the history of polling. In the process, she dragged to oblivion Democratic candidates across the U.S., leading to a string of disastrous losses that have left the party at one of its weakest points in its long history. Democrats made some very bad decisions in 2016 and those were just the latest in a long string of very bad decisions in recent years. An autopsy is not only appropriate, it's essential if the party is to learn anything from these mistakes. Unfortunately, those in positions of power within it are largely the same people who have dragged it to ruin; they made sure to keep their own cushy jobs in the important leadership roles and they're not going to be sanctioning any soul-searching that may shine a light on themselves any time soon. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi spoke for the lot of them when, sitting in the smoking ruins of the party left in the aftermath of the general election last year, she declared that she didn't think people wanted the Democratic party to change. Like Clinton herself, they'd rather just blame Russians, FBI director James Comey or anyone else.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

How A Clintonite Hangs Himself Trying To Smear the Bernie Movement

More Medium misadventures: Poking around Medium, I came across another noxious Clintonite article, this one trying to blame Bernie Sanders and progressives for creating an atmosphere of conspiracy and violence that, this week, led a deranged man in Virginia to open fire on congressional Republicans as they took part in baseball practice. As often happens, my reply ran a little long and I've reproduced it here:

Oh, look, another Clintonite article on Medium that checks out on reality in order to echo the anti-progressive narrative of the nut-right. How shocking! Dismantling yet another one on points seems a waste of time, as neither "Roy Delfino" nor his target audience have any interest in the truth, but I have some time on my hands and it's a despicable-enough article that someone should probably tackle it.

You open with a false premise:
"This is not, however, the first act of violence by a Bernie supporter. Far from it. From leading violent anti-Trump riots in Chicago, to sending death threats to superdelegates, to forcing superdelegate Jim McDermott to defend himself with a shovel against a Bernie fan threatening to cut out his tongue, violence has long been a hallmark of Bernie's movement."
The astute reader will note that even if all of those were entirely accurate, they don’t really add up to anything, certainly not the picture you’re trying to paint. Your language, setting up the pattern you follow throughout, is obfuscatory. Lacking incidents to make a convincing case, you were forced, when constructing that sentence, to divide "death threats to superdelegates" from, well, a death-threat to a superdelegate--trying to make one thing look like two (the other item is bullshit too).[1] On the charges themselves, death threats against public officials are just an unfortunate fact of life. Officials from both parties get them-- it’s been going on for years. In a country with more than 320 million people, there’s always a few cranks out there. This is how you try to pin this big wave of violence--a wave that you haven’t established and that, in fact, doesn’t exist--on Sanders:
"But a large part of this violence springs from feelings of desperation, helplessness, and raw anger that fermented in Bernie’s base... This is where Bernie Sanders does bear an enormous responsibility, because this sentiment and worldview was propagated, recklessly and intentionally, by Bernie and his campaign."
Sanders, of course, doesn’t foment "desperation" or "helplessness"; he was the energizing hope-and-change candidate in the 2016 primaries who enunciated a positive progressive agenda. And it’s on those progressive politics, particularly the anti-corruption, pro-democratic components of them, that you’re attempting, in a rather artless smear, to pin violence.

Sanders supporters were upset by those superdelegates, for example. Here’s how those supers work (a subject you carefully avoid): Sanders won 72% of Washington--completely destroyed Clinton--yet Jim McDermott and the other five state superdelegates, granted by mere party decree the same voting-power as hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians, supported Clinton. It’s a story that repeated itself all over the U.S. Sanders flattened Clinton in New Hampshire, beating her by 22%, only to see the state’s superdelegates side with her and give her the state, 17 delegates to his 15. Throughout the process, the corporate press, which was a virtual monolith in support of Clinton and against Sanders, used the superdelegates in its accounting of the race in order to make Clinton look unbeatable. In the end, Clinton failed to win enough real delegates to take the nomination and had to rely on the supers to put her over the top.

In short, the superdelegates are an anti-democratic cancer on the party nomination process.
When you create something like that then use it to give one candidate unfair advantage over everyone else, everyone with any respect for democratic values is going to be upset by it, yet you take the position that Sanders’ supporters are only upset by it because Sanders is propagating that sentiment, blaming the progressive pro-democratic values and their prominent proponent rather than the anti-democratic portion of the process. What, exactly, are they supposed to think?

Worse, you later quote Sanders explaining this part of the process and, going off into the ozone entirely, characterize his words as some sort of effort "to send a clear dogwhistle to online conspiracy-theorists":
"'When we talk about a rigged system, it’s also important to understand how the Democratic Convention works,' Sanders said Morning morning. 'We have won, at this point, 45 percent of pledged delegates, but we have only earned 7 percent of superdelegates.'"
To note the obvious, there’s no "dogwhistle" there, "clear" or otherwise. The superdelegate system is, quite literally, a rigged system, party bosses operating entirely outside the democratic process yet being allowed to manipulate its course, and Sanders forthrightly and correctly says so. Sanders doesn’t like that. It runs counter to his progressive views, those being both pro-democracy and anti-corruption. You insist that Sanders, by merely enunciating those views, is sending some sort of secret signals to nuts on the internet, in which case the only way to avoid such a thing is just to shut up and not to offer them.

Which is, of course, what you want. You’re following the lead of Fox and the rest of the Trumpanzee-right press in tarring those progressive views as feeding nuttiness and violence for the same reason they do it: because you want them to go away. In something else that forms a pattern throughout your article, you avoid the substantial objections to the superdelegate system because those objections are entirely reasonable and honestly addressing them would put an end to your little anti-progressive smoke-and-mirrors show. Speaking of which:
"Fully aware of the delusions of his base, Bernie used phrases, and pushed an agenda, that dovetailed with those delusions."
The part that’s missing: anything that established Sanders’ base as delusional. You simply present that as a given and think yourself clever. You’re not.
"For instance, Bernie created the image of a DNC managed by corporate puppetmasters, and his campaign worked overtime to paint this image in the minds of Bernie fans on a nearly daily basis"
The DNC spent the campaign aggressively prostituting itself and the potential future Democratic presidency of Hillary Clinton to Big Money sources. Among other things, it progressively eliminated Obama-imposed bans on accepting money from lobbyists and PACs. Sanders didn’t create that image of the DNC; it did that all by itself (a fact that, again, you entirely ignore so you can bash the progressives). Sanders stands against the bribery-and-donor-service system that characterizes so much of our politics and again, you blame his enunciation of progressive anti-corruption values, rather than the corruption. Shaddup, Bernie.

In order to treat the rigged system as just some sort of kooky conspiracy theory, you don’t address the substantive facts regarding it and in one of your more outrageous moments, you insist the Wikileaks disclosures from the DNC "contained nothing more controversial than a few frustrated insults." Meanwhile, in the real world, those emails showed that the DNC, which is supposed to be neutral in a primary/caucus process, had, among other things, conspired with the Clinton campaign to rig the debate schedule in Clinton’s favor while ignoring the wishes of the other campaigns, had placed "spies" inside the Sanders campaign--and yes, they actually use that word--feeding them info and discussed strategies to deploy against Sanders. I’ve written at some length on the larger matter of the DNC’s efforts to tilt the primaries (the emails are a good resource for this). This piece has a section devoted to it. Just scroll down to the header, "A Rigged Process?"

Regarding the Nevada Democratic convention, you write that Sanders delegates "rioted on the floor," which is a fiction carefully nurtured by the Clintonites:


That letter you quote at some length was written by Bradley Schrager, the Nevada Democratic party general counsel and, more importantly, a Clinton supporter; you treat his words as some legitimate account rather than what it was, a piece of Clinton campaign propaganda. You take up the cause of Robert Lange, another Clinton supporter and the head of the convention, without a word about how her extremely bad behavior--acting like some half-assed dictator--contributed to what happened to her.

In Nevada, as caucus day approached, Clinton was on the verge of losing the state, which could have had a major impact on her national campaign, when, at the last minute, Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid intervened, arranging with the state’s big hotel and casino worker’s union to allow their workers to leave the job for long enough to go caucus for Clinton while still getting paid for their time. A pretty nifty trick. That's how Clinton won the first stage of the contest. That's also probably how, during stage 2 at the county level, the state flipped to Sanders, as large numbers of Clinton delegates, apparently not given the day off and marching orders this time, failed to appear. All of this is the preface that forms the context for the third stage, which was the state convention. In order to cut down on the Sanders contingent, it was scheduled to begin the same day the state’s largest institutions of higher learning were holding their graduation ceremonies and Lange--again, a Clinton supporter--was made a virtual dictator, a position she took up with great relish. That and the often-confusing and inappropriate rules under which the convention was conducted --mentioned by the source you cite, not by you--led to a raucous convention and a lot of Sanders supporters who felt they were being rooked. The Clintonites took full advantage, manufacturing the bullshit about a chair-throwing riot and running to every press outlet that would put them on to crow about it. Number of violent incidents recorded at that convention: 0.

You hit another of your low points when covering Sanders’ reaction to what happened. You write that "Democratic leaders, including Harry Reid, pressured him [Sanders] to end his silence and condemn his supporters’ actions. What they got instead was what can only be described as a tacit endorsement of his supporters’ sentiment and behavior."

But as you’re well aware, the few readers who bother to look at that statement will get a very different story from it. You quote only a portion of it, without indicating you’re only quoting a portion, and only from the preamble--in order to make your grotesque mischaracterization, you end your cut-and-paste early, right after he first mentions Nevada.

"Within the last few days there have been a number of criticisms made against my campaign organization. Party leaders in Nevada, for example, claim that the Sanders campaign has a 'penchant for violence.' That is nonsense."

And that’s where you stop. Continuing from there, Sanders wrote:

"Our campaign has held giant rallies all across this country, including in high-crime areas, and there have been zero reports of violence. Our campaign of course believes in non-violent change and it goes without saying that I condemn any and all forms of violence, including the personal harassment of individuals."

Sort of speaks to your own honesty as much as anything I could have said.

The Russian conspiracy nonsense became tiresome long ago. Clintonites love it is because it’s so entirely free of substance; it allows them to impugn the Sanders campaign without ever having to provide any real evidence of anything and, it being this thing of wind, can never really be subject to any sort of strict interrogation. The Clintonite press has been absolutely obsessed with it. You construct on it a series of allegations in an entirely incurious way while, seemingly without any sense of self-awareness, accusing the Sanders camp of fomenting an atmosphere of conspiracy theories.

The U.S. intelligence community insists there was a concerted Russian operation to influence the election. Perhaps there was. Did it involve the sort of network you describe? Who knows? You play a number of Clintonite shell-games with this matter. In one, you throw the much larger--massive and long-running--problem of fake news, trolls, etc. in with the Russia allegations and hope no one notices. Suddenly, it’s all Russian, even if we can’t actually prove any of it is. In another, you assert that
"Bernie supporters fell for it hook, line and sinker, and the narrative of the Russian propaganda machine quickly became dogma in Sanders circles."
But you fail to provide any examples or, more importantly, any real-world effect of any of it. It’s impossible to say that no one voted for Sanders because they believed the Pope had endorsed him or because they thought Clinton ordered her critics murdered but if there are any such people, we can say with great confidence that the number is going to be microscopic.[2] Fake news seeps into pro-Sanders communities the way it seeps into any internet community--there’s a lot of it here on Medium--but none of that bullshit has become "dogma." It's just stuff a relatively few people believe and most don't. Presenting the former rather than the latter as representative of the overall movement is as arbitrary as it is counterintuitive. You play still another game with timelines when you assert,
"The Sanders campaign was well-aware of the efforts by Russian intelligence and other fake news sources to help his campaign."
And...
"Make no mistake, Sanders and his campaign knew exactly how this massive campaign of weaponized disinformation was being used to aid his candidacy at the expense of Hillary Clinton. They did absolutely nothing to stop it."
The story about a concerted Russian effort to interfere in the presidential election first broke in the Summer of 2016 after the primary season was already over and it mostly played out in the months after that. The high-profile stories attributed to it--the murder of Seth Rich conspiracy, the "Pizzagate" thing, etc.--all happened long after the primary season (and, it’s worth noting, all, in reality, started in domestic nut-right circles, not on any foreign shore). The Huffpost article you cite uses murky language to speculate that it started earlier but it’s really just describing suspicious activity that may or may not have been part of a Russian campaign that may or may not have even existed. In any event, the Sanders campaign wasn’t "well-aware" of Russian intelligence efforts that weren’t even reported until the primary season was over and, contrary to your demagoguery, wouldn’t have been able to do anything about it if it had been. A presidential campaign can’t call in an airstrike on some theoretical Estonian warehouse full of internet trolls. And while you’re very down on Sanders benefiting from internet trolls and "weaponized disinformation" based on these sketchy Russian allegations, things over which he had no control, you decline to offer a single word about the only organized campaign of trolls and weaponized disinformation we know existed, David Brock’s Correct the Record, a super PAC which openly collaborated with the Clinton campaign to skirt campaign finances laws and attack her opponents and critics.

You switch back to the weasel-wording, insisting Sanders has
"repeatedly and recklessly stoked the flames of anger and paranoia, while refusing to shut down, push back against, or take any responsibility for the conspiracy theories and violent rhetoric that spread like a virus in his base."
...wording that blames Sanders without actually blaming him, because, of course, he’s neither engaged in nor encouraged violent rhetoric or conspiracy theories and has no responsibility for such things, and his stoking "the flames of anger" amount, in your account, to merely expressing his progressive values, something he isn’t gong to stop doing just because you (and Fox News) don’t like them.

You keep circling this same drain right up to the end:
"Violence and conspiracies are, and have always been, a fundamental characteristic of Bernie’s movement, and Bernie’s cowardly attempts to absolve himself and his reporters of responsibility must be called out loudly and repeatedly until he is forced to clean up the absolute mess he has made."
"Bernie’s movement" presently consists of 80% of Democrats, who say tell pollsters they approve of him. "Violence and conspiracies" are, it should go without saying, not characteristic of most Democrats, nor are such things their "hallmark." While Sanders is the most popular politician in the U.S., you’re doing this blaming-without-blaming dance while demanding that he be held accountable for something he hasn’t done and somehow clean up some mess he couldn’t clean up and hasn’t, in fact, made.

Get lost.

--j..

---

[1] The Chicago events occurred after Trump had spent months on the campaign trail encouraging his followers to commit violence against anti-Trump protesters. This built to critical mass in the Windy City, where demonstrations forced Trump to cancel a planned event. Trump’s immediate response was to blame Sanders for what happened. "Get your people in line, Bernie." So in attempting to pin those demonstrations on Sanders, you’re parroting an entirely fictional narrative crafted by Donald Trump.

What actually happened is that congressman Luis Gutierrez and other elected officials--all, btw, Clinton supporters--openly called on their constituents to join them in protesting Trump, a Facebook page dedicated to protesting the Trump event was launched (by a Sanders supporter) and a multitude of different groups--Black Lives Matter, MoveOn, Mijente, Assata’s Daughter, the Black Alliance for Just Immigration and on and on--organized the demonstrations.

[2] You make the outrageous claim that "we witnessed the phenomenon of Sanders supporters voting en masse for Trump." Over 80% of Sanders supporters voted for Clinton. A small number of them voted for Jill Stein, a larger number of them simply stayed home. We don’t have any real numbers on how many voted for Trump but we do know it’s microscopic, because there weren’t enough left after all that. For that matter, the number of Sanders voters in the Democratic primary, something around 10 million people, is tiny compared to the number of general election voters (136.67 million). "En masse" my ass.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Clintonite Troll Offers More of the Anti-Sanders Vitriol That Fuels Her Fan-Base

Another piece from Medium. Of the hardcore Clintonite clown contingent on Medium, Sasha Stone is one of the more prominent. Since the election, she's primarily concentrated on expressing her completely irrational loathing of and rage toward Bernie Sanders and progressives. I've rebutted her dismal work a few times now when the mood struck me, and that's how this piece came about as well, as a response to another half-baked rant, "Bernie Sanders Has Yet to Address the Way Misogyny and Russian Trolling Has Fueled His Movement." Subtle, eh?

Stone:
"Every day I think about who Bernie Sanders is and what he represents"
That kind of obsessive nuttiness is obvious to anyone unfortunate enough to stumble upon your dismal work on Medium. It’s interesting that you choose to open with it, given that your central theme here--and in article after obsessive article--is attempting to portray Sanders supporters as the nutty, pathological ones. Sanders’ supporters, you contend, were driven by "shared hatred" of Hillary Clinton and "the hate is non-stop, as though the election never ended," but of the 13 articles you’ve written here since the election, at least 9 of them were primarily devoted to expressing your own completely irrational hatred of Sanders and his progressive supporters. While Democrats have moved on--I’ll get to that next--you’re the one who keeps going back to this matter from last year and pouring on the "pathological hatred."

A helpful tool in contextualizing your unhinged ravings against Sanders supporters is to establish, up front, who it is that actually supports Sanders. A helpful chart from the big Harvard-Harris poll:

These numbers are alone sufficient to consign most of your article to the crank file.

The one that jumps out is Sanders' incredible level of support among Democrats. In light of it, your constant attacks on what you call "the Bernie wing of the party," portraying it as making war on the Democratic party, trying to "disrupt and destroy the Democratic Party" and so on, are self-evidently absurd.

You reference the tired Clintonite line about Sanders supporters being white males and insist Sanders supporters have made "“women and African American activists... their enemy"; in reality, Sanders is more popular with minorities than whites.

You haul out the tired nonsense about "the hatred and misogyny that has infected their [the Sanders supporters] movement from the beginning" and darkly hint that if the party goes with Sanders' progressive policies, "most of us will be long gone by the time 2020 rolls around, especially women"; in reality, Sanders is more popular with women than with men (and his agenda is wildly popular across the board). The other political figures most beloved by the Sanders supporters--Elizabeth Warren, Tulsi Gabbard, Nina Turner--are women, not men (and they're all Democrats). A handful of Sanders supporters voted third-party last year; their candidate was Jill Stein. No "y" chromosome there.

You aren’t offering any reasoned analysis with any of this, just the same sort of empty smears of progressives one has come to expect from the right. Describing Sanders’ efforts to build a better, stronger Democratic party that can actually win at the polls as Sanders trying to "disrupt and destroy the Democratic Party" is strictly Orwellian. The beauty of the "Russian trolls" conspiracy narrative is that it allows Clintonites to write things like "Bernie himself was one of Putin’s puppets" without ever having to provide any evidence of anything. Who cast their vote because of allegedly Russian trolls? No one. You insist the Russia matters "remain unaddressed by Bernie Sanders and his top supporters"; in reality, Sanders has been addressing them for months. The claim of “violence and death threats” by Sanders supporters in the Nevada Democratic convention was, like the BernieBros narrative, a falsehood cynically manufactured by Clintonites in the press and the Democratic party.

This is a particularly deep dive into the loon pool:
"All he [Sanders] had to do was convince those who were THAT angry (mostly white males, but some females) to pay her back by voting for him. That’s how caught up in mass hysteria they were, how manipulated by Putin and Banon and Kushner they were. They voted against the environment, civil rights and civil liberties just to pay ‘that bitch’ back."
Fact: The overwhelming majority of Sanders supporters --as in, more than 80%--voted for Clinton. Sanders was the energizing candidate in the race, meaning he brought large numbers of people into the process that wouldn’t ordinarily have participated, meaning Clinton’s final vote tally in the general was padded with significant numbers of votes she wouldn’t have received without Sanders.

Fact: The presidential contest was lost in key Rust Belt states and it wasn’t at the hands of the microscopic number of Sanders supporters who voted for Trump, it was because of normally Democratic voters who, faced with the prospect of so unappealing a candidate as Clinton, opted to sit out the election:


And then there’s this chestnut:
"The fact that candidates backed by Bernie aren’t winning the way 'the revolution' promised they would has not made them rethink their strategy of alienation or purity tests for candidates"
Rob Quist, the candidate in question, was running in deep red Montana. Trump had just beaten Clinton there by more than 20 points; Quist came within 6% of Republican Greg Gianforte. The Kansas special election in April occurred in a gerrymandered Republican district that went 2–1 for Trump over Clinton; the Berniecrat James Thompson lost by only 7%. These special elections in very red places are the only ones we’ve had so far this year--hardly any basis for declaring Sanders’ candidates failures--and the Sanders-backed candidates have done substantially better than did Clinton.

The complete lack of self-awareness in this judgment speaks for itself:
"Hillary Clinton deserves a lot better than the treatment she’s getting by Van Jones and others who don't know how to lose with dignity."
And observers of the 2016 primary season, who saw Clinton engaged in an active conspiracy with the DNC to rig the process in her own favor and who watched Sanders run a principled issues campaign absent personal attacks while Clinton reacted to this by calling Sanders, among other things, a liar, a smear-merchant and unqualified to be president, will be perplexed by this assertion:
"...she [Clinton] always supported Bernie and was far more kind to him than he deserved"
But, of course, a reasoned analysis isn’t the point of this or any of your other many articles in this vein. The point is just to hate Sanders and progressives, not to have any actual reason for doing so, and to obsessively vent that hatred over and over again while accusing progressives of obsessive hatred.

No sale.

--j.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Busting A Bernie-Or-Bust Buster, Buster

Cruising through Medium, I came across an item called "Bernie Or Bust People: Wake Up, You Were Conned." As so often happens, my reply to it ran a little long, so I decided to log it here:


It's still a minor marvel to me that so many Clintonites, who so often associate themselves with the reality-based community, feel no compunction against indulging in the same sort of ludicrous political fantasies as the absolute worst rightists. Some are, in this regard, so far gone there doesn’t even feel like much of a point in even trying to set the record straight.

Oh, well. Once more unto the breach...

No, Sanders supporters weren't "duped" nor "conned." They're not crazed cultists mindlessly following some messiah figure. They're not useful idiots who believed and acted on nonsense allegedly spawned by some foreign dictator. They represent a genuine political disagreement with the corrupt, rightist way of doing business of the Clintonites who dominate the party apparatus. And no matter how many of these fantasies you weave while entirely refusing to address it, you no more have the power to change that carved-in-stone, nowhere-to-run-or-hide fact than you have the power to make gravity reverse itself.

It should always go without saying (but usually ends up having to be said anyway) that any political movement--any political movement--attracts a certain percentage of kooks. The progressive left, which coalesced behind Sanders, is no different. I'd always cringe when I'd see some internet Berniecrat repeating the fiction that Hillary Clinton had smeared women who had been involved with her husband (in the more lurid versions, Bill is said to have sexually assaulted the women in question). They've always just been a small fringe though, certainly much smaller in number than the nutbar contingent that attached itself to Clinton (and is so generously represented here on Medium). We don't have any polling on the subject but we can say with confidence that the number of Sanders supporters who believed Clinton had ordered hundreds of people killed would be microscopic. Not even worth mentioning, unless the point is merely to come up with some way to try to smear Sanders’ supporters by an unsupportable inference.

Into that same category falls the efforts to blame such tales on Russian interference. There's no need to go looking to foreign lands; the American right has spun them for decades. Fairy tales are not why any significant number of people were supporting Sanders and opposing Clinton.

Fairy tales do, however, play a not-insignificant part in your own "analysis." You see fit here, for example, to repeat your claim from a previous article that "Bernie Sanders was never vetted by the media," which will, of course, be instantly received as a very poor-man's Brothers Grimm by anyone who paid any more than minimal attention to last year's campaign. Your examples of this alleged failure to vet are some vile ad hominems drawn from a bunch of anti-Sanders oppo-research the Clintonites dumped in the press during the campaign. Adam Johnson of Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting covered how press Clintonites used this material to produce a seemingly endless array of anti-Sanders hit-pieces throughout the primary season. No matter how often they published it, though, Sanders' popularity continued to rise. The "information" has been a matter of public record since early 2016 and Sanders is, today, the most popular politician in the U.S..[1]

You cite a graphic which you assert tried to "separate truth from what was now a BernieOrBust created fiction" and source it to Politifact but you provide no link and reproduce the image so small, it's difficult to read most of it. Politifact isn't generally in the business of generating such graphics. It does, however, consider the claims made in graphics produced by others. Searches via Google, Bing and Politifact's own search engine turn up multiple examples of the org fact-checking various graphics from the Democratic primary season (or what passes for fact-checking from Politifact) but no stories in which that particular graphic appears. General internet searches for the graphic itself based on its legible wording also turn up nothing.

Of the Clintonite oppo-research and "Politifact" chart, you assert, "This, along with many other variables may be just one of other reasons why Bernie Sanders seemed to only attract a mostly white younger crowd of followers," but nothing you'd written makes any case for any of that material being particularly appealing to young white people, unless, of course, one assumes that young white folks are, as you'd just described Sanders supporters, particularly prone to being ignorant dumbasses blindly following a messiah-like cult-leader. I suppose it wouldn't be a Clintonite tract unless it had the standard race-baiting in there but if you can't bottle the ends, wouldn't it be better to simply leave that on the cutting-room floor for once? It isn't as if that particular breed of weaponized faux-"identity politics" isn't already generously represented in practically every Clintonite attack on Sanders these days. I doubt they'd have revoked your credentials in the club for failing to work it in somewhere.

You approvingly quote Clintonite smear-artist Steve Stoft:

"Sander's Vermont strategy was always to run as a spoiler, knowing that even if he couldn't win, he might throw the race to the Republicans."

That is, of course, a strictly tendentious characterization of Sanders' political activities over the years, with essentially nothing to support it. It's very clear that Sanders does have problems with both the major parties and has, throughout his political career, attempted to stand as a choice for views not represented by them and thus locked out of the system. More to the point, Sanders made it very clear throughout the course of his presidential campaign--starting, in fact, long before it even launched--that he wouldn’t act as a spoiler in that race.

"[T]hough he’s an independent, he has implied he wouldn’t run as a third-party candidate so as not to play spoiler."
--The Atlantic, 13 Nov., 2014

"I won’t play the spoiler."
--Sanders, New York magazine, 28 Dec., 2014

"Sanders rejected the idea of running for president as an independent. 'No matter what I do, I will not be a spoiler,' Sanders said. 'I will not play that role in helping to elect some right-wing Republican as President of the United States.'"
--In These Times, 26 Jan., 2015

"[Sanders] emphasized that he would never run as a spoiler if it could lead to the election of a Republican president."
--Vox, 30 April, 2015

And on into infinity. And, indeed, once the primaries had played out, Sanders endorsed Clinton and spent the rest of the campaign working to elect her.

Contrary to the characterization of Sanders supporters as a cult, they didn’t go along with this. Throughout the 2016 race, Sanders had hosted the largest political rallies of any candidate of either party but when he started appearing on Clinton’s behalf, this dried up to the same nearly-nothing that had always greeted Clinton’s rallies. A lot of people loved him but they weren't cultist robots and weren't interested in simply doing what he told them. The movement wasn't about him. In the end, over 80% of them ended up voting for Clinton but they'd been telling pollsters they'd do that all along, and followed through on this even as Clinton went out of her way at every opportunity to aggressively alienate liberals/progressives while devoting her energies to courting Republican voters. You make the bold claim that
"In the meantime, the statistical information is in and those that made the choice to vote third party, sit out or even write Sanders name in, were the cause of the loss to Trump."
…which is the same farcical misrepresentation of the campaign one always gets from Clintonites. It's a fact that in the critical Rust Belt states, significant numbers of formerly Democratic voters either voted third-party or, much more often, simply stayed home, another smaller contingent of them voted for Trump and Trump won those states. Contrary to your assertion, there's no relevant data on people writing in Sanders' name (total write-ins nationwide accounted for only 0.56% of the vote in 2016), nor is there any relevant data on how many of those taking any of these other options being Sanders supporters. It's reasonable to assume that some unquantifiable percentage of Jill Stein's voters were former Sanders backers but only in Michigan and Wisconsin did her total vote exceed Trump's margin of victory. Absent the assumption that Clinton was somehow entitled to the votes of people who didn't want to give it to her, this is a non-issue.

More importantly, the entire suggestion that this is "the cause of the loss to Trump" in the way you make it is a comical atomization of the campaign. We have no real numbers for how many people participated in the Democratic primary/caucus process. The count on which Clintonites depend when making their oft-repeated (and bogus) claims of a "popular vote" victory in that process credits 15.8 million total participants but this excludes 8 contests entirely and has no real numbers for several others. Even if we had some way to theoretically fill in those blanks, the resulting number, less than half of which would be Sanders "voters," would still be utterly dwarfed by the total number who participated in the general election: 136.67 million people. Enough to swallow the total number of Sanders voters whole several times over. Clinton drew 65.85 million votes. The only reason one can pretend as if micro-factors like Jill Stein even mattered in the general is that Clinton, running against the most unpopular major-party candidate in the history of polling, couldn’t manage any significant lead over him, at which point it's necessary to point out that Clinton was the second-most-unpopular major-party candidate. That's what happens when you nominate such an unappealing, weak, loser candidate that most people hate.[2]

Moreover, Sanders was an energizing candidate, meaning he brought into the process large numbers of people who otherwise wouldn’t have participated in it. The fact that more than 80% of his supporters went for Clinton means that even her losing vote-totals are padded with an unquantifiable number of people Sanders delivered whom she would not have ordinarily received.

Now tell me I lack critical thinking skills and am a cultist, rather than a thoughtful, rational observer like you.

--j.

---

[1] More generally, the corporate press was a virtual monolith in forthright opposition to Sanders. After initially trying to ignore him to death--the usual treatment afforded any liberal or left candidate--it switched to attack mode and anti-Sanders editorials, both those clearly labeled and those presented as "news" articles, became a daily offering. In 16 hours leading up to the ever-important Michigan primary, the Washington Post ran 16 anti-Sanders stories. After Sanders trashed Clinton in Wisconsin, Clinton launched a new campaign to present Sanders as unqualified to be president but when Sanders responded, the entire press corps went nuts (at the behest of the Clinton campaign) and presented it as if he had gone negative and said she was unqualified to be president. When they realized a positive story about Sanders' legislative record somehow made it onto the New York Times website, Times editors took it down, rewrote it in order to turn it into an anti-Sanders hit-piece then republished it, without ever indicating they'd made any changes at all. In a great indication of how far this went, the Post ran a hard-hitting piece of investigative journalism wherein Philip Bump asserted that Sanders was lying when he was forever saying the average donation to his campaign is $27. Bump crunched the numbers and discovered that the actual average contribution was--wait for it--$29.14. In June, as the campaign was winding down and Sanders took some questions in California, a New York Times reporter actually asked if Sanders was "sexist" for running against Clinton, thus perhaps getting in the way of her becoming the first woman elected president. If the primary season had run another month, they would have been accusing him of being a sexist for merely existing. That Johnson piece at FAIR charts the course of this with many more examples. The claim that Sanders was never vetted is a standard one in Clintonite literature and it's just as false as the just-as-standard claim that Clinton's popular-vote victory over Trump was the largest in U.S. history.

[2] Priorities USA, the Clintonite super PAC, has conducted a bit of an autopsy of the 2016 loss, studying both former Obama voters who cast their ballot for Trump and the much larger group of drop-off voters who previously voted for Obama but declined to vote in the 2016 general. The org tries to fudge parts of the results, perhaps to soften the blow, but it shines through the numbers loud and clear. The drop-off voters have very negative general feelings about the Republican party and very positive general feelings about the Democratic party. They overwhelming believe the policies of Trump and of congressional Republicans will favor the wealthy over everyone else. Their values are forthrightly progressive on issue after issue. Overwhelming majorities of both the drop-offs and the Obama-Trump voters say their income is either falling behind the cost of living or just keeping pace with it. Asked about their priorities for the president and congress, here's a chart showing how Obama-Trump voters replied:


There are a handful of noxious Trumpite items among them, to be sure, but nearly all of these are progressive priorities (the circles were added by Priorities USA, not me; the "strongly support" and "mixed feelings" columns refer to respondents' view of Trump). Priorities USA concludes from this that "Clinton and Democrats' economic message did not break through to drop-off or Obama-Trump voters," but the problem here definitely isn't one of messaging; it's of the messenger with which Democrats had been saddled. Priorities USA gets squishy when it comes to to make an accounting of why the drop-off voters said they didn't vote, declining to provide a detailed breakdown, but disgust with the choices offered plays prominently in their accounting of it.