Joe Biden wins big in South Carolina

With about 3% of the votes counted, Joe Biden has been projected to win the South Carolina primary. Given that the result was called almost immediately after the polls closed, it looks like he will have a big margin of victory over the currently second Bernie Sanders.

Currently Biden has about 50%, Sanders 19%, Tom Steyer 12%, Pete Buttigieg 8%, Elizabeth Warren 6%, and Amy Klobuchar 4%. Michael Bloomberg was not on the ballot here, staking everything on the 16 contests to be held in three days time on Super Tuesday.

These numbers will change as more votes come in but usually not by more than a few percentage points.

The large margin of victory will undoubtedly give a boost to the flagging Biden campaign going in to Super Tuesday and revive the hopes of the Democratic party establishment that he can stop the rise of Sanders. It will be bad news to those who were hoping to pick up the centrist mantle from him if he should falter.

More candidates skipping AIPAC

There was a time when it was pretty much mandatory for any Democratic candidate for the presidency to attend the annual conference of AIPAC, the premier Israel lobby group, and proclaim their unwavering allegiance to Israel irrespective of whatever horrors the government there unleashes on the Palestinians. That has changed, thanks to pressure from grassroots organizations that include progressive Jewish groups like IfNotNow.

This year so far, of all the candidates, only Michael Bloomberg has announced that will be attending. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, and Pete Buttigieg have said they are skipping it. Joe Biden and Tom Steyer have still not publicly said if they are going but a Biden spokesperson said that he will go.

The increasing distancing of the Democratic party from the apartheid policies of the Israeli government is why the Israel lobby has stepped up its efforts at all levels to punish critics of Israel and to get colleges and state and local governments to act against the BDS movement.

Finally, an end to the war in Afghanistan?

The US and the Taliban have signed an agreement that will eventually, if all goes well, result in the removal of all US troops from the country in 14 months. The full text of the treaty can be read here. The main features are described in this report.

The two sides have long wrangled over the US demand for a ceasefire before the signing of the final peace agreement, which has four points: a timeline of 14 months for the withdrawal of all US and NATO troops from Afghanistan; a Taliban guarantee that Afghan soil will not be used as a launchpad that would threaten the security of the US; the launch of intra-Afghan negotiations by March 10; and a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire.
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Bernie Sanders is making all the right enemies

It turns out (surprise!) that the big corporate lobbying firms are getting really concerned about what the possibility of Bernie Sanders becoming president might mean for their clients.

Federal government lobbyists told The Hill Friday that they are increasingly concerned that a Bernie Sanders presidency could be “uncharted waters” for their clients given the Vermont senator’s history of antipathy toward big business and the role of corporate power in U.S. politics.

“In our lifetime we have not had a [presidential candidate] so openly hostile towards corporations,” said lobbyist Kevin O’Neill, a partner with D.C. firm Arnold & Porter.
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What a surprise! Bolivian coup was based on false premises

Two researchers from MIT write that the fraud claims that were used to launch a US-backed coup against president Evo Morales cannot be substantiated.

A new study released by a pair of MIT researchers Thursday reveals that, contrary to claims from the U.S.-backed Organization of American States, there was no fraud in Bolivia’s Oct. 20, 2019 elections — an accusation used by the OAS and others as a pretext for supporting the coup in the country that deposed President Evo Morales and replaced him with an unelected right-wing government.

MIT researchers John Curiel and Jack R. Williams reviewed the OAS report on the election for the Washington Post and found that the “election irregularities” cited by the group were based on “problematic” statistical claims. The OAS report rested its claim on the assumption that these so-called irregularities gave Morales a boost in numbers that raised his results over 10% higher than any other candidate, precluding a runoff election.
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Medicare For All sure looks like a winner

It seems like Bernie Sander’s’ landslide win in Nevada was boosted by the popularity of his signature proposal Medicare For All.

In Nevada, as in both Iowa and New Hampshire, about 6 out every 10 voters in both entrance and exit polls said they supported eliminating private insurance and creating a single-payer system like the one Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren both support. Among Nevadans who supported a single-payer plan, according to entrance polls from Edison Research, 49% said they were backing Sanders — more than three times that of any other candidate. Even as the leaders of the powerful Culinary Union, the state’s largest, opted to publicly oppose Sanders’ Medicare for All plan without endorsing another candidate, he won 34% of caucus-goers from union households, and crushed other candidates among culinary workers specifically.

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Anderson Cooper is no journalistic hero

The CNN TV personality has been garnering a lot of praise for his interview of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich where he really dragged him across the coals. Blagojevich was one of the well-connected people Donald Trump pardoned recently when he was serving his sentence for trying to sell the Illinois senate seat that became vacant when Barack Obama became president. In the interview, Cooper strongly challenged Blagojevich’s attempts to rewrite history in self-serving ways.
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The strange logic of some anti-Sanders Democrats

I move around in circles that are pretty much entirely supportive of Democrats and hate Donald Trump. But when they express reservations about Bernie Sanders as the nominee, they frequently say that this is because while they may like his plans, they feel that they have zero chance of being passed by Congress. They seem to think that they are being ‘realistic’ and that the Sanders supporters are hopelessly idealistic.
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