Saturday, February 29, 2020

Fred Smith - What our tests don't measure


A Day at City Council hearings on class size: It was so overcrowded, scores of parents and advocates turned away

Leonie Haimson doesn't allow a broken ankle to keep her away
I attended the hearing Friday from 11 AM until it ended almost at 4. Leonie reports below in full on the day. I was supposed to go on a class trip with to the NY Historical Society but the teacher got sick and I decided to head down to the hearing. Gloria Brandman was already there but still in the hallway - she didn't get to speak until after 3 PM. I think current and ex-teachers have real world stories to tell from the long-range career perspective.  

Leonie reported: When Chair Treyger asked her what number she would give to the importance of class size from one to ten, she refused to say. It was clear after questioning that the Quality Reviews that DOE officials carry out and that are supposed to highlight for principals what changes are needed in their schools never mention class size. I'd love to see Goldmark in a class.

A bunch of us were out in the hall for an hour because the room was filled to the brim. We missed the misleading and open lies told by DOE officials who defended their policies. One of them, Deputy Chancellor Karin Goldmark was quoted in the Chalkbeat article which claimed she had been a teacher. I wonder for how long she taught - and she makes around 220k a year.

The great Mark Treyger, the Ed committee chair, handled all these hours of testimony with grace and dignity, in addition to chiming in so many comments relating to his own teaching experiences. Former teacher and ed chair Danny Dromme was also present for part of the hearing, but through the afternoon the room thinned out considerably. Having political people who were teachers for more than 10 minutes is important.

I was not intending to speak but there to support Leonie, but as the hearing was ending she suggested I take the final slot to speak. With nothing prepared I still figured that I had enough experience with the class size issue to fill 3 minutes of time. There were about 5 people in the room to hear it. I barely remember what I said but Leonie did tweet out some of it -- maybe I'll look it up and put up some of my points later.
court officer explaining to crowd outside hearing

Leonie reports:

Today, from 10 AM to 3:45 PM, the City Council Education Committee held hearings on class size at City Hall.  So many people showed up to testify that it was standing room only in the Committee hearing room.  It was so overcrowded that City Hall guards did not allow many of the parents and advocates to  had planned to testify enter the room, and many left before they had a chance to speak.   

First, Chair of the Education Committee Mark Treyger, a former teacher himself, opened the hearings by saying that “Unfortunately, efforts to reduce class size in New York City public schools haven’t gotten very far despite all the passion & hard work of parents, advocates, teachers & students - including many here today.”  Indeed class sizes have risen substantially since NY state’s highest court said that class sizes in NYC schools were too large to provide students with their constitutional right to an adequate education.

Chair Treyger questioned Karin Goldmark , Deputy Chancellor of the NYC Department of Education, and Lorraine Grillo, President of the School Construction Authority, asking if they prioritized reducing class size as a goal.  Goldmark was non-committal, saying  that though the DOE realized the research shows that smaller classes do lead to better student outcomes, there is a lack of resources and NYC schools have many needs. When Chair Treyger asked her what number she would give to the importance of class size from one to ten, she refused to say. She also said she didn’t know if the DOE had ever tried to analyze the results to see if smaller classes were correlated with student success, and she did not know if Edustat or any of the other data systems that the DOE currently uses or plans to use in the future even capture class size as a critical factor. It was clear after questioning that the Quality Reviews that DOE officials carry out and that are supposed to highlight for principals what changes are needed in their schools never mention class size.

Then scores of parents, former teachers, students, advocates, education leaders, professors, school service providers and representatives from community based organizations testified from their own experience how NYC students are deprived of a quality education and a better chance to learn because of class sizes out of control.  Many urged the City Council to ensure that at least $100 million is allocated for class size reduction in next year’s budget, as the first step towards providing an equitable education for the city’s students..  All children benefit from smaller classes, the research shows, but especially those children from low-income families, students of color, English Language Learners, and students with special needs, which together make up the majority of NYC public school students.

"Class size is one of the reasons I helped start the Campaign for Fiscal Equity back in 1993, seeing how overcrowded the schools in District 6 were during my time as president of the board," said State Senator Robert Jackson. "I understand some of DOE's resistance to hiring more teachers comes from fiscal concerns. That’s why I’m committed to fully funding the Foundation Aid formula at the state level. I’ve introduced a bill that adds a new bracket to increase income tax on New York’s highest earners, generating an estimated $4.5 billion in revenue. But the DOE has to commit to use that in adherence to the Contracts for Excellence," Senator Jackson added, which requires NYC to implement class size reduction.

Joshua Aronson, NYU Professor of Psychology and Education explained: "I have visited many schools in NYC and elsewhere in the nation. Manageable class sizes aren’t sufficient to fix our schools. But from my personal observations as well my analysis of the research, I believe small class sizes may be necessary to creating the a powerful school culture, especially in underserved populations, that students need to succeed. All children can become eager, curious learners, but only when their key physical and social needs are met.  This takes time, care, compassion— and most importantly—small class sizes. When a school offers small classes it can accomplish what others can only dream of. Reducing class size is expensive on the front end, but the benefits will soon outweigh the costs in my opinion, and in the opinion of nearly every teacher and principal I have ever met."
Tiffani Torres, a senior at Pace HS and a member of Teens Take Charge, said: “Having been in both small and large classes, I know first-hand the difference between both.  In smaller classes, I can ask questions without fear of distracting 30 other students, and can receive more one- on- one help from my teachers.”  She talked about how many students had dropped out of her calculus class because it was too large, and how many of those who remained were confused because of the lack of focused feedback and support from her teacher. Both she and Lorraie Forbes, another student, said that they would give  class size a ten for its importance for student learning and engagement.

Jacqueline Shannon, Associate Professor and the Department Chair of Early Childhood and Art Education at Brooklyn College, said: “In 2014, I helped write a letter to then-Chancellor Farina, warning her that increases in class size that had occurred since 2007 in NYC public schools, particularly in the early grades, threatened to undermine the gains one might otherwise expect from the expansion of preK.  Our letter was signed by over 70 professors of education, psychology, and sociology. Since then, the city has made very little progress in lowering class sizes.  The number of children in Kindergarten in classes of 25 or more has risen by 68%  since 2007, and the number of  1st through 3rd graders of thirty or more has increased by nearly 3000%.  While the Mayor should be thanked for expanding preK and now 3K, early childhood education does not end at age 5.  The city should now  focus on lowering class sizes in our public schools.”

Shino Tanikawa, the co-chair of the Education Council Consortium, which represents the parent-led Citywide and Community Education Councils in NYC, said, “It has been nearly twenty years since the landmark CFE decision, which mandated smaller classes for NYC schools.  Although the City submitted a class size reduction plan, it was abandoned by both the DOE and the NYS Education Department, and instead our schools experienced a sharp increase in class sizes across the city.  The Chancellor has been pushing for school integration but we must reduce class sizes for integration to succeed.  Class size reduction is an urgent need that cannot wait. “

I’ve worked in many schools and know from my own personal experience that class sizes should be smaller to give students a better chance at success,” said Evie Hantzopoulos, Executive Director of Global Kids and public school parent.  “Research proves that this simple strategy helps all students, and especially our most vulnerable ones, achieve the positive learning outcomes needed for the 21st Century.”   

State Senator Brad Hoylman, whose statement was read for him by a staffer, observed : “On average, NYC public school classrooms have 10-30% more students than elsewhere in the state. As the elected representative for thousands of families with young children, I know reducing class size is a primary concern. My constituents — and every child in New York — deserve the opportunity to succeed in school, and class size is an integral factor in determining student success. I’m proud to stand with my colleague Senator Jackson and Class Size Matters in support of reducing class size in New York.”

Tanesha Grant, a member of the Community Education Council in District 5 as well as AQE and CEJ, stated:  “Class size has grown tremendously since 2007 in our schools, which has a deep impact on the quality of education our children receive.  This impacts black and brown students the hardest. Our children are given hurdles to jump over to just to get an equitable  education. As a black mother of three and grandmother of an autistic grandson, I know class size matters. I see how it affects my children’s learning. The  data proves that class size MATTERS!”

Parent advocate Johanna Garcia and plaintiff in the class size lawsuit launched by nine NYC parents, Class Size Matters and AQE that was argued in the Appellate court last month said: "Class size matters. It’s a simple idea, and it’s one of the single most effective tools we have to improve the quality of the education our children receive. As a Black and Latina parent advocate, I understand the failures to reduce New York City class size to be a huge factor in educational racism because it has detrimental effects on a student body that is 85% Black and Brown and predominantly working-class. If we are serious about addressing that educational racism, we must get serious about class size in our schools. We have to be honest about the problems and clear-eyed about implementing the solutions going forward. Let's count our students fairly and hire more teachers in line with the law so our children  get the quality education they deserve."

Nearly half of all middle school students are in classes of 30 or more; and more than half of high school students are in classes thirty or more.  Jessica Siegel, a professor at Brooklyn College and a former teacher, recounted what one middle school teacher had told her about how she felt  being unable to give sufficient help to all her students: “My largest 8th grade class is a whopping 37 students. I teach two more classes, one with 32 and the last one with 28. Both include English Language Learners and students who require push in services for their Individualized Education Plans. I feel as though I’m being torn to shreds when I’m helping others, their eyes hungry and ready and yet there you are unable to reach them. It’s as if you have one life raft and must choose which child gets saved. It’s heart wrenching and demoralizing.”

Elsie McCabe Thompson, head of the Mission Society, one of the nation’s oldest social service organizations, testified that they see thousands of children in poverty. One third have diagnosed special needs; but most have suffered trauma. Smaller classes are important for ALL these children, she said, because as a teacher, “you cannot authentically have high expectations for kids that you do not know.”

A statement was read on behalf of Diane Ravitch, eminent historian and education advocate: “The single most effective way to improve instruction is to reduce class size. The benefits of class size reduction are greatest for the neediest students. . If you are serious about helping children, reduce class size. If you are serious about helping teachers to be more effective, reduce class size. Reducing class size is more effective than test prep; it is more effective than hiring coaches and consultants. It is more effective than buying new hardware and software. It is more effective than any of the many other "reforms" that have been imposed by the federal or state government.  New York State's scores on national tests have been flat for twenty years. It is time for fresh thinking. Do what works! Reduce class sizes!”

For data on current class sizes in NYC schools and trends, as well as the research on class size, check out

Friday, February 28, 2020

Is Bloomberg Buying the DNC? If So, What Does He Plan to Do With It?

From Naked Capitalism - and Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report

World behavior (and reader in better run emerging economies will no doubt say that that’s not a feature of their political landscape). But the US crossed that Rubicon with the intel-security state acting as if it has the authority to approve who sits in the White House. 
By Thomas Neuburger. Originally published at DownWithTyranny!

Paradise lost. One misstep is all it takes to take the proud down low.
Whom the gods would destroy, they first make proud.
—With apologies to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

This is a small point that leads to a larger one. Consider what Mike Bloomberg is building within the Democratic Party, within the DNC. According to the following analysis he’s turning the DNC into an anti-Sanders machine, a force loyal to himself, that will operate even after Sanders is nominated, even after Sanders is elected, if he so chooses.
With that he hopes to limit and control what Sanders and his rebellion can do. It’s the ultimate billionaire counter-rebellion — own the Party machine that the president normally controls, then use it against him.
Our source for this thought is Glen Ford at Black Agenda Report. Ford is one of the more vitriolic defenders of radical change in America, but in this analysis I don’t think he’s wrong, at least in making the case that Bloomberg is giving himself that option. But do decide for yourself.
Here’s his case:
Bloomberg Wants to Swallow the Democrats and Spit Out the Sandernistas
If, somehow, Bernie Sanders is allowed to win the nomination, Michael Bloomberg and other plutocrats will have created a Democratic Party machinery purpose-built to defy Sanders — as nominee, and even as president.
The details of his argument are here (emphasis added):
Bloomberg has already laid the groundwork to directly seize the party machinery, the old fashioned way: by buying it and stacking it with his own, paid operatives, with a war-against-the-left budget far bigger than the existing Democratic operation. Bloomberg’s participation in Wednesday’s debate, against all the rules, is proof-of-purchase.
In addition to the nearly million dollar down payment to the party in November that sealed the deal for the debate rules change, Bloomberg has already pledged to pay the full salaries of 500 political staffers for the Democratic National Committee all the way through the November election, no matter who wins the nomination. Essentially, Bloomberg will be running the election for the corporate wing of the party, even if Sanders is the nominee.
In an interview with PBS’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday night, senior Bloomberg advisor Timothy O’Brien made it clear that the DNC is in no condition to refuse being devoured by Bloomberg, even if they wanted to. O’brien predicted the Republicans will spend at least $900 million on the election, while the DNC has only about $8 million on hand. Even the oligarch’s underlings are telegraphing the takeover game plan.
Bloomberg is not so much running for president as making sure that the Democrats don’t go “rogue” anti-corporate to accommodate the Sandernistas. He is ensuring that the Democratic Party will be an even more hostile environment for anti-austerity politics than in the past – not in spite of the phenomenal success of the Sanders project, but because of it.
Ford has not much love for Bernie Sanders, as he finds Sanders (and his supporters) weak for sticking with the Democrats. Ford thinks Sanders should go “third party” in his opposition to the corrupt duopoly that owns our politics. That’s a point on which we can disagree without disagreeing that the duopoly is indeed corrupt, or that Bloomberg is setting himself up for post-electoral mischief.
Ford also thinks the Party will split in the face of this anti-Sanders resistance, especially if the counter-resistance continues after a President Sanders is inaugurated.
We’ll see about all that. Ford may be right in his estimate of Bloomberg’s intentions. He may also be right in Bloomberg’s ability to carry through if his intentions are indeed as Machiavellian as he says.
On the other hand, Sanders may gather to himself enough control of the DNC and other Party machinery that he does indeed transform it, and with it, slowly, the Party itself. That’s certainly been his game plan, and if he does indeed have a movement behind him — a really big one — I wouldn’t bet against him being right. I myself don’t see a way for a third party to succeed in the U.S. unless it’s a “virtual third party” — but more on that at another time.
The Larger Point
So this is our smaller point, that Mike Bloomberg may be positioning himself to “own” the DNC, and with it enough of the Democratic Party, so that he can himself rein in a President Sanders. Is that his goal? It certainly seems possible. “Mini-Mike” is certainly Machiavellian.
Which leads to the larger point: How much rebellion, within the DNC and elsewhere, with or without Bloomberg’s interference, will someone like President Sanders encounter and how long will it last? If it lasts throughout his presidency, that’s a horse of a different color — a much darker one.
In fact, the dark horse of today’s American politics is the entrenched, corrupt (and frankly, pathological) über-rich and their death grip on all of our governing institutions, including the press. Will that death grip tighten as the Sanders movement grows? And will they continue to squeeze the throats of the working class, even as the victims find their own throats and tighten in response?
Would you bet, in other words, that the rich who rule us wouldn’t kill the country that feeds their wealth — wouldn’t spark such a confused and violent rebellion that even they would be forced at last to flee — won’t do all all this out of animus, pique and world-historical hubris?
That bet is even money all the way. They just might try it, just might be willing to strangle the body itself, the political body, just to see how far it they can get by doing it.
Whom the gods would destroy…

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Medicare for All Perfidy: Randi Stands With Culinary Union - Leadership, not membership - what else is new?

.... early Saturday morning the union leadership texted its members not to vote for Bernie - they didn't listen.
Fred Klonsky: Last week on Facebook I got a message from American Federation President Randi Weingarten blasting me for supporting Bernie Sanders on Medicare for All.
“Why are you not listening to so many of our members that want to drive down costs, that want to take on big pharma and the insurance companies, but they want to have the choice on their insurance?” Randi challenged me.
“I agree with Culinary,” she said.
Randi is listening to the anti-Bernie crowd, not "our members" who will ignore her as they have in the past. Randi wants us to have a choice in health plans. But more on that later.

And of course much of the Culinary rank and file went against the union leadership (and Randi) recommendation and voted for Bernie as Fred reports below. The story was subverted with the claims of the leadership that they were under attack by Bernie Bros - which probably has some truth but I never saw the name of one clearly identified Bernie supporter - in fact when you hear the Bernie Bro stories why aren't those people revealed and publicly shamed? From what I was reading, the actions of the leadership were very influenced by Nevada machine head Harry Reid (who may be the source of those phony "Bernie wanting to challenge Obama in the 2012 primary" stories. (Bernie told people to ask Harry Reid if it's true, yet the opponents like Biden continue to pass the story on.)

Here is a report from The Nation:
“How a Rank-and-File Revolt in Las Vegas Dealt Bernie a Winning Hand” [The Nation]. “Shortly after noon, caucus participants were asked to rise from their chairs and vote with their feet. The vast majority promptly marched directly to Sanders’s side of the room. Surprised by their strength, Bernie’s supporters erupted in cheers and more than one of us broke down in tears. It would be hard to overstate the political importance of Saturday’s win, which was replicated across the seven Las Vegas strip caucuses. A workforce made up predominantly of women of color enthusiastically gave their votes to a candidate who mainstream media pundits have repeatedly told them is backed only by white guys. Though one should never underestimate the perfidy of the corporate punditry, it’s possible that these strip workers, together with Nevada’s broader multiracial working class, may have finally put the ‘Bernie Bro’ myth out of its misery.”
But back to Randi, who still gives me a good laugh.

At yesterday's debate, Bloomberg talked about how well teachers were treated in NYC - just ask the union. While most teachers laughed out loud, I wasn't laughing because by "ask the union" he meant his old pal Randi Weingarten, then UFT president and not president of the AFT.

I reported on the great articles exposing Bloomberg's horror stories but so far haven't seen critiques coming out of the UFT.

Now she tries to play it coy about the Bernie movement, even adding him to the list of three potential endorsements (Biden and Warren too). But she had no choice given that if he won the nomination she would look real dumb. So Bernie was tossed in to the mix - and I also think that internal polling probably shows Bernie has the most support -- witness the UTLA and other teacher union endorsements for Bernie. So she had no choice.

But you know my mantra that I created by observing Randi - watch what she does, now what she says. Like the fact her surrogate, Mike Mulgrew is running as a Biden delegate -as a "private citizen" LOL - for where the leadership is really at. Randi is a super delegate and if Bernie doesn't get the majority going into the convention, and it's between him and Bloomberg, do we think Randi would vote for Bernie? I have my doubts.

On medicare for all, Fred Klonsky, a former Chicago area union president, reveals the real Randi on his blog:

Here are a few excerpts:
Last week on Facebook I got a message from American Federation President Randi Weingarten blasting me for supporting Bernie Sanders on Medicare for All.
“Why are you not listening to so many of our members that want to drive down costs, that want to take on big pharma and the insurance companies, but they want to have the choice on their insurance?” Randi challenged me.
“I agree with Culinary,” she said.

By “Culinary” she meant the Las Vegas Culinary Union leaders who, while making no endorsement in Saturday’s Nevada caucuses, issued a strongly worded statement opposing Sanders on M4A.

Props to the Culinary Union. They do have good health insurance and coverage for their members. 
But then Culinary Union members spoke for themselves on Saturday.
More than 60% of Nevada caucus-goers support eliminating private insurance and moving to a single-payer healthcare system, according to a poll conducted by Edison Media Research as Democratic voters entered their precincts Saturday.
The entrance poll showed that 62% of Nevada caucus-goers “support replacing all private health insurance with a single government plan for everyone,” the Washington Post reported. Single-payer received a similar level of support among Democratic voters in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Nevada caucus-goers also ranked healthcare as their top issue, followed by the climate crisis and income inequality.
“It’s fair to say Democratic leadership fails to understand how much everyday Americans hate their private healthcare coverage,” tweeted TIME contributor Christopher Hale.
It turns out Nevada’s culinary workers have a better sense of class solidarity than the President of the American Federation of Teachers.
Despite the leadership of Nevada’s largest union criticizing Bernie Sanders over his health care plan in the lead-up to the state’s presidential caucus, the majority of union members caucusing at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas strip backed Sanders on Saturday.
Some workers who spoke to BuzzFeed News said they support Sanders’ Medicare for All proposal, even though they appreciate the union health care they have, because they have friends and relatives who don’t have union health care and worry about what would happen if they lost their jobs.

[Also see: Why Is Teachers Union President Randi Weingarten Attacking Medicare for All? - Jacobin -
Randi got all upset when they didn't give her space to reply - the very definition of entitlement.]

And note that the Clark County teacher union - the largest in Nevada - endorsed Bernie - and also note that they are one of the few independent large unions - not NEA (which they left) nor the AFT.

Fred had another excellent post on the story:
My main take away from the election, aside from pleasure at the size of Bernie’s victory, is how it exposed a giant chasm between union leadership and the rank and file over Medicare for All.
Health care and health insurance was the number one issue for caucus voters and over 60% support Bernie on the issue.
Even as the leadership of the Culinary workers union trashed Bernie over it.
American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten has been outspoken in her opposition to Bernie and Medicare for All.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumpka says he “hates” Medicare 4 All.
They all claim their members love employer-provided health insurance.
But nobody loves it.
Most workers don’t have it.
Get fired and there’s nothing to love.
But Nevada’s voters rejected their leadership’s position and demonstrated the rejection on Saturday in a big way.
Why are the union leaders so clueless about it?
Because they live lives that have nothing in common with the lives their members live.
They don’t share their members fears of serious illness and what that would cost them.
They say it is a great benefit that was bargained and won by them.
Those of us who had to bargain for health care every contract know how fragile a benefit it is for even those that have it.
 OK - it's Fred Klonsky celebration day here at ed notes: A third blast from Fred - I wish he were doing commentary for the Bernie campaign - where  he explodes Randi's argument that we want choice (jeez, echoes of the charter school bullshit).
Weingarten's Healthcare "choice" has echoes of Janus
What I find most troubling about Randi Weingarten’s response (the personal stuff about me not listening is just silly and typical of union leadership whenever their positions are challenged) is that she frames the issue with the language of choice. I was startled to hear a public employee union leader frame this debate using the language of the enemies of collective bargaining rights and collective action.

Digging into the Culinary Workers union story
The actions of the leadership of the Culinary Workers in its attack on Bernie Sanders for his health care plan were somewhat dishonest and the response of the members in giving Bernie the big victory is telling about many union leaderships and the rank and file. Leaderships are often part of the Democratic Party apparatus. Harry Reid is a power in Nevada. A non-reported part of the story was that early Saturday morning the union leadership texted its members not to vote for Bernie - they didn't listen.

Esquire reported on the story soon after the New Hampshire primary before the Nevada primary:
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders would “end Culinary Healthcare” if elected president, according to a new one-pager the politically powerful Culinary Union is posting back of house on the Las Vegas Strip.
The new flyer, a copy of which was obtained by The Nevada Independent, compares the positions on health care, “good jobs” and immigration of six Democratic presidential hopefuls who have come to the union’s headquarters over the last two months to court its members. But the primary difference outlined in the document, which is being distributed in both English and Spanish, is in the candidates’ positions on health care, taking particular aim at the Vermont senator over his Medicare-for-all policy, which would establish a single-payer, government run health insurance system.
The flyer says Sanders, if elected president, would “end Culinary Healthcare,” “require ‘Medicare For All,’” and “lower drug prices.” The language it uses to describe the position of Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who also supports Medicare for all after a transition period, is much gentler: “‘Medicare for All,’” “replace Culinary Healthcare after 3-year transition or at end of collective bargaining agreements,” and “lower drug prices.”
This is a huge and diverse union and it does not play games.
The union, considered an organizing behemoth in the Silver State, has been known to tip the scales in elections in the past. Though the 60,000-member union has not yet decided whether it will endorse in the Democratic presidential primary, the flyer appears to be part of a coordinated campaign ahead of Nevada’s Feb. 22 Democratic presidential primary and shows the union will not be sitting idly by, with or without an endorsement. A spokeswoman for the Culinary Union said the flyer is also going out to members Tuesday night via text and email.
Another Esquire story worth checking out:

The Kids Like Bernie. Maybe Everyone Else Should Listen.
A campaign that depends on The Youth Vote is a liberal-Democratic horror story. Can Bernie Sanders' movement be different? Sanders will get more and more McGovern comparisons if he keeps winning primaries.

Also see John Oliver on Medicare for all:

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Leonie Haimson on Michael Bloomberg’s Disastrous Public Education Legacy - The Indypendent

No one has their hand on the Bloomberg years than Leonie. I wish the people on the debate would challenge some of his claims based on this article.

Michael Bloomberg’s Disastrous Public Education Legacy

As of mid-February, Michael Bloomberg has spent over $400 million on his presidential campaign, including blanketing the air waves with ads and is on track to spend more than a billion dollars. As a result, he has risen sharply in the polls, and in turn, begun to receive critical attention regarding his record on certain issues, such as racial profiling and his stop-and-frisk policies.

When I heard that he was running for president, it felt like the return of a bad dream.
However, Bloomberg’s record on education has been glossed over. When it is mentioned at all, he has been vaguely praised, as in a recent Thomas Friedman column, for championing  “virtually every progressive cause” including “education reform for predominantly minority schools.”

Michael Hudson: The Democrats’ Quandary – In a Struggle Between Oligarchy and Democracy, Something Must Give

A quandary does not have a solution. There is no way out. The conflict of interest between the Donor Class and the Voting Class has become too large to contain within a single party. It must split.....Sanders rightly calls this “socialism for the rich.” The usual word for this is oligarchy. That seems to be a missing word in today’s mainstream vocabulary. call oneself a “centrist” is simply a euphemism for acting as a lobbyist for siphoning up income and wealth to the One Percent. In an economy that is polarizing, the choice is either to favor them instead of the 99 Percent..... Michael Hudson, posted at Naked Capitalism
This is worth reading - twice. A deep dive by Hudson into what is really going on in the Democratic Party and the role it really serves. The attacks on Bernie are the symptom. MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace freaked out when Bernie called Bloomberg an oligarch. (The donor class and its sycophants in the press are oh so sensitive about being called out.)

I went to a Naked capitalism event and met Hudson who sat next to me in the bar and had an excellent chat with him. I was very interested in the UFT stories I had to tell.

Michael Hudson: The Democrats’ Quandary – In a Struggle Between Oligarchy and Democracy, Something Must Give

Posted by Yves Smith who comments: Further down in this post, Hudson suggests how Sanders could address the false dichotomy between capitalism and socialism posted by Democrats aligned with the super wealthy.
By Michael Hudson, a research professor of Economics at University of Missouri, Kansas City, and a research associate at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College. His latest book is “and forgive them their debts”: Lending, Foreclosure and Redemption from Bronze Age Finance to the Jubilee Year

To hear the candidates debate, you would think that their fight was over who could best beat Trump. But when Trump’s billionaire twin Mike Bloomberg throws a quarter-billion dollars into an ad campaign to bypass the candidates actually running for votes in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, it’s obvious that what really is at issue is the future of the Democrat Party. Bloomberg is banking on a brokered convention held by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in which money votes. (If “corporations are people,” so is money in today’s political world.)

Until Nevada, all the presidential candidates except for Bernie Sanders were playing for a brokered convention. The party’s candidates seemed likely to be chosen by the Donor Class, the One Percent and its proxies, not the voting class (the 99 Percent). If, as Mayor Bloomberg has assumed, the DNC will sell the presidency to the highest bidder, this poses the great question: Can the myth that the Democrats represent the working/middle class survive? Or, will the Donor Class trump the voting class?

This could be thought of as “election interference” – not from Russia but from the DNC on behalf of its Donor Class. That scenario would make the Democrats’ slogan for 2020 “No Hope or Change.” That is, no from today’s economic trends that are sweeping wealth up to the One Percent.
All this sounds like Rome at the end of the Republic in the 1stcentury BC. The way Rome’s constitution was set up, candidates for the position of consul had to pay their way through a series of offices. The process started by going deeply into debt to get elected to the position of aedile, in charge of staging public games and entertainments. Rome’s neoliberal fiscal policy did not tax or spend, and there was little public administrative bureaucracy, so all such spending had to be made out of the pockets of the oligarchy. That was a way of keeping decisions about how to spend out of the hands of democratic politics. Julius Caesar and others borrowed from the richest Bloomberg of their day, Crassus, to pay for staging games that would demonstrate their public spirit to voters (and also demonstrate their financial liability to their backers among Rome’s One Percent). Keeping election financing private enabled the leading oligarchs to select who would be able to run as viable candidates. That was Rome’s version of Citizens United.

But in the wake of Sanders’ landslide victory in Nevada, a brokered convention would mean the end of the Democrat Party pretense to represent the 99 Percent. The American voting system would be seen to be as oligarchic as that of Rome on the eve of the infighting that ended with Augustus becoming Emperor in 27 BC.

Today’s pro-One Percent media – CNN, MSNBC and The New York Timeshave been busy spreading their venom against Sanders. On Sunday, February 23, CNN ran a slot, “Bloomberg needs to take down Sanders, immediately.”[1]Given Sanders’ heavy national lead, CNN warned, the race suddenly is almost beyond the vote-fixers’ ability to fiddle with the election returns. That means that challengers to Sanders should focus their attack on him; they will have a chance to deal with Bloomberg later (by which CNN means, when it is too late to stop him).

The party’s Clinton-Obama recipients of Donor Class largesse pretend to believe that Sanders is not electable against Donald Trump. This tactic seeks to attack him at his strongest point. Recent polls show that he is the only candidate who actually would defeat Trump – as they showed that he would have done in 2016.

The DNC knew that, but preferred to lose to Trump than to win with Bernie. Will history repeat itself? Or to put it another way, will this year’s July convention become a replay of Chicago in 1968?

A quandary, not a problem. Last year I was asked to write a scenario for what might happen with a renewed DNC theft of the election’s nomination process. To be technical, I realize, it’s not called theft when it’s legal. In the aftermath of suits over the 2016 power grab, the courts ruled that the Democrat Party is indeed controlled by the DNC members, not by the voters. When it comes to party machinations and decision-making, voters are subsidiary to the superdelegates in their proverbial smoke-filled room (now replaced by dollar-filled foundation contracts).

I could not come up with a solution that does not involve dismantling and restructuring the existing party system. We have passed beyond the point of having a solvable “problem” with the Democratic National Committee (DNC). That is what a quandary is. A problem has a solution – by definition. A quandary does not have a solution. There is no way out. The conflict of interest between the Donor Class and the Voting Class has become too large to contain within a single party. It must split.

A second-ballot super-delegate scenario would mean that we are once again in for a second Trump term. That option was supported by five of the six presidential contenders on stage in Nevada on Wednesday, February 20. When Chuck Todd asked whether Michael Bloomberg, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar would support the candidate who received the most votes in the primaries (now obviously Bernie Sanders), or throw the nomination to the super-delegates held over from the Obama-Clinton neoliberals (75 of whom already are said to have pledged their support to Bloomberg), each advocated “letting the process play out.” That was a euphemism for leaving the choice to the Tony-Blair style leadership that have made the Democrats the servants’ entrance to the Republican Party. Like the British Labour Party behind Blair and Gordon Brown, its role is to block any left-wing alternative to the Republican program on behalf of the One Percent.

This problem would not exist if the United States had a European-style parliamentary system that would enable a third party to obtain space on the ballots in all 50 states. If this were Europe, the new party of Bernie Sanders, AOC et al.would exceed 50 percent of the votes, leaving the Wall Street democrats with about the same 8 percent share that similar neoliberal democratic parties have in Europe (e.g., Germany’s hapless neoliberalized Social Democrats), that is, Klobocop territory as voters moved to the left. The “voting Democrats,” the 99 Percent, would win a majority leaving the Old Neoliberal Democrats in the dust.

The DNC’s role is to prevent any such challenge. The United States has an effective political duopoly, as both parties have created such burdensome third-party access to the ballot box in state after state that Bernie Sanders decided long ago that he had little alternative but to run as a Democrat.
The problem is that the Democrat Party does not seem to be reformable. That means that voters still may simply abandon it – but that will simply re-elect the Democrats’ de facto 2020 candidate, Donald Trump. The only hope would be to shrink the party into a shell, enabling the old guard to go way so that the party could be rebuilt from the ground up.

But the two parties have created a legal duopoly reinforced with so many technical barriers that a repeat of Ross Perot’s third party (not to mention the old Socialist Party, or the Whigs in 1854) would take more than one election cycle to put in place. For the time being, we may expect another few months of dirty political tricks to rival those of 2016 as Obama appointee Tom Perez is simply the most recent version of Florida fixer Debbie Schultz-Wasserman (who gave a new meaning to the Wasserman Test).

So we are in for another four years of Donald Trump. But by 2024, how tightly will the U.S. economy find itself tied in knots?

The Democrats’ Vocabulary of Deception
How I would explain Bernie’s program. Every economy is a mixed economy. But to hear Michael Bloomberg and his fellow rivals to Bernie Sanders explain the coming presidential election, one would think that an economy must be either capitalist or, as Bloomberg put it, Communist. There is no middle ground, no recognition that capitalist economies have a government sector, which typically is called the “socialist” sector – Social Security, Medicare, public schooling, roads, anti-monopoly regulation, and public infrastructure as an alternative to privatized monopolies extracting economic rent.

What Mr. Bloomberg means by insisting that it’s either capitalism or communism is an absence of government social spending and regulation. In practice this means oligarchic financial control, because every economy is planned by some sector. The key is, who will do the planning? If government refrains from taking the lead in shaping markets, then Wall Street takes over – or the City in London, Frankfurt in Germany, and the Bourse in France.

Most of all, the aim of the One Percent is to distract attention from the fact that the economy is polarizing – and is doing so at an accelerating rate. National income statistics are rigged to show that “the economy” is expanding. The pretense is that everyone is getting richer and living better, not more strapped. But the reality is that all the growth in GDP has accrued to the wealthiest 5 Percent since the Obama Recession began in 2008. Obama bailed out the banks instead of the 10 million victimized junk-mortgage holders. The 95 Percent’s share of GDP has shrunk.

The GDP statistics do not show is that “capital gains” – the market price of stocks, bonds and real estate owned mainly by the One to Five Percent – has soared, thanks to Obama’s $4.6 trillion Quantitative Easing pumped into the financial markets instead of into the “real” economy in which wage-earners produce goods and services.

How does one “stay the course” in an economy that is polarizing? Staying the course means continuing the existing trends that are concentrating more and more wealth in the hands of the One Percent, that is, the Donor Class – while loading down the 99 Percent with more debt, paid to the One Percent (euphemized as the economy’s “savers”). All “saving” is at the top of the pyramid. The 99 Percent can’t afford to save much after paying their monthly “nut” to the One Percent.

If this economic polarization is impoverishing most of the population while sucking wealth and income and political power up to the One Percent, then to be a centrist is to be the candidate of oligarchy. It means not challenging the economy’s structure.

Language is being crafted to confuse voters into imagining that their interest is the same as that of the Donor Class of rentiers, creditors and financialized corporate businesses and rent-extracting monopolies. The aim is to divert attention from voters’ their own economic interest as wage-earners, debtors and consumers. It is to confuse voters not to recognize that without structural reform, today’s “business as usual” leaves the One Percent in control.

So to call oneself a “centrist” is simply a euphemism for acting as a lobbyist for siphoning up income and wealth to the One Percent. In an economy that is polarizing, the choice is either to favor them instead of the 99 Percent.

That certainly is not the same thing as stability. Centrism sustains the polarizing dynamic of financialization, private equity, and the Biden-sponsored bankruptcy “reform” written by his backers of the credit-card companies and other financial entities incorporated in his state of Delaware. He was the senator for the that state’s Credit Card industry, much as former Democratic VP candidate Joe Lieberman was the senator from Connecticut’s Insurance Industry.

A related centrist demand is that of Buttigieg’s and Biden’s aim to balance the federal budget. This turns out to be a euphemism for cutting back Social Security, Medicare and relate social spending (“socialism”) to pay for America’s increasing militarization, subsidies and tax cuts for the One Percent. Sanders rightly calls this “socialism for the rich.” The usual word for this is oligarchy. That seems to be a missing word in today’s mainstream vocabulary.

The alternative to democracy is oligarchy. As Aristotle noted already in the 4thcentury BC, oligarchies turn themselves into hereditary aristocracies. This is the path to serfdom. To the vested financial interests, Hayek’s “road to serfdom” means a government strong enough to tax wealth and keep basic essential infrastructure in the public domain, providing its services to the population at subsidized prices instead of letting its services be monopolized.

Confusion over the word “socialism” may be cleared up by recognizing that every economy is mixed, and every economy is planned – by someone. If not the government in the public interest, then by Wall Street and other financial centers in theirinterest. They fought against an expanding government sector in every economy today, calling it socialism – without acknowledging that the alternative, as Rosa Luxemburg put it, is barbarism.

I think that Sanders is using the red-letter word “socialism” and calling himself a “democratic socialist” to throw down the ideological gauntlet and plug himself into the long and powerful tradition of socialist politics. Paul Krugman would like him to call himself a social democrat. But the European parties of this name have discredited this label as being centrist and neoliberal. Sanders wants to emphasize that a quantum leap, a phase change is in order.

If he can be criticized for waving a needlessly red flag, it is his repeated statement that his program is designed for the “working class.” What he means are wage-earners and this includes the middle class. Even those who make over $100,000 a year are still wage earners, and typically are being squeezed by a predatory financial sector, a predatory medical insurance sector, drug companies and other monopolies.

The danger in this terminology is that most workers like to think of themselves as middle class, because that is what they would like to rise into. That is especially he case for workers who own their own home (even if mortgage represents most of the value, so that most of the home’s rental value is paid to banks, not to themselves as part of the “landlord class”), and have an education (even if most of their added income is paid out as student debt service), and their own car to get to work (involving automobile debt).

The fact is that even $100,000 executives have difficulty living within the limits of their paycheck, after paying their monthly nut of home mortgage or rent, medical care, student loan debt, credit-card debt and automobile debt, not to mention 15% FICA paycheck withholding and state and local tax withholding.

Of course, Sanders’ terminology is much more readily accepted by wage-earners as the voters whom Hillary called “Deplorables” and Obama called “the mob with pitchforks,” from whom he was protecting his Wall Street donors whom he invited to the White House in 2009. But I think there is a much more appropriate term: the 99 Percent, made popular by Occupy Wall Street. That is Bernie’s natural constituency. It serves to throw down the gauntlet between democracy and oligarchy, and between socialism and barbarism, by juxtaposing the 99 Percent to the One Percent.

The Democratic presidential debate on February 25 will set the stage for Super Tuesday’s “beauty contest” to gauge what voters want. The degree of Sanders’ win will help determine whether the byzantine Democrat party apparatus that actually will be able to decide on the Party’s candidate. The expected strong Sanders win is will make the choice stark: either to accept who the voters choose – namely, Bernie Sanders – or to pick a candidate whom voters already have rejected, and is certain to lose to Donald Trump in November.

If that occurs, the Democrat Party will evaporate as its old Clinton-Obama guard is no longer able to protect its donor class on Wall Street and corporate America. Too many Sanders voters would stay home or vote for the Greens. That would enable the Republicans to maintain control of the Senate and perhaps even grab back the House of Representatives.

But it would be dangerous to assume that the DNC will be reasonable. Once again, Roman history provides a “business as usual” scenario. The liberal German politician Theodor Mommsen published his History of Romein 1854-56, warning against letting an aristocracy block reform by controlling the upper house of government (Rome’s Senate, or Britain House of Lords). The leading families who overthrew the last king in 509 BC created a Senate chronically prone to being stifled by its leaders’ “narrowness of mind and short-sightedness that are the proper and inalienable privileges of all genuine patricianism.”[2]

These qualities also are the distinguishing features of the DNC. Sanders had better win big!
[1] Joe Lockhart, opinion. For the MSNBC travesty see from February 23,, by Jake Johnson.
[2]Mommsen, History of Rome, 1911: 268.
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Monday, February 24, 2020

The Public Option Still Makes Money for Private providers

Your text online says:  "This NYT article on the faults in current medicare for those who choose medicare advantage and other plans points out that once in you can't get out."

There's a difference between Medicare Advantage Plans and Medigaps (=supplementary plans).   Your statement is wrong to group them because these two things have different rules.  
Here's what the Times article actually said:
"During the six months after you sign up for Part B (outpatient services), Medigap plans cannot reject you, or charge a higher premium, because of pre-existing conditions. After that time, you can be rejected or charged more, unless you live in one of four states (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine and New York) that provide some level of guarantee to enroll at a later time with pre-existing condition protection." 

When I read the Times article, I had mistakenly and stupidly transferred your "medicare advantage" wording into the NY Times text.  They were ONLY talking abut MEDIGAPS, which are definitely restrictive in other states, and don't allow you back in, etc., etc.
Your sentence has to be fixed to reflect what the Times article says:  Medigaps.   The Advantage plans do not throw you out.

My colleague dealt directly with the MEDIGAPS reference:  
" Medigaps  are state regulated.  Each state is different.  That is what they are saying.  And I got confirmation about the pre-existing in NYS, it is only if you did not enroll in Medicare when first eligible and had no coverage (employee, retiree, etc.) for 8 mo.  If clients are thinking of moving out of state, they should be referred to that state's SHIP, phone # available on

If I had read the TImes wording better first time round, I would have told you pretty much the same thing.
Definitely recommend fixing that wording in Ednotes.  It's misleading.
A long read but worth it and it exposed Mayor Pete's medicare for all that want it and other Dems pushing the so-called "public option."

Every day the media reports on health care mayhem but doesn't connect to the solution of medicare for all. This NYT article on the faults in current medicare for those who choose medicare advantage and other plans points out that once in you can't get out. I was tempted initially but luckily Carol worked in the field dealing with all the plans and learned that the more the government ran it the better it was for everyone - so even in medicare, people have been pushed into semi-private aspects - due I'm sure to the lobbying of private insurers who wanted to get their cut. Check to see which dem candidates they are contributing to and how much they attack Bernie's plan.
    This is where the public option as opposed to medicare for all leads us. So when Dem cand sell the public option - beware.
    Don't believe the advertising - Medicare’s Private Option Is Gaining Popularity, and Critics As more Americans sign up for Medicare Advantage, detractors worry that it’s helping private insurers more than patients.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Hint of why no Bernie for AFT/UFT - In 2007 UFT Leadership Attacked Opposition Presidential Candidate for Being a Socialist

While the AFT Ex council recommended locals choose between Biden, Warren or Sanders, I still think Sanders is fundamentally taboo to the leadership but due to strong Bernie sentiment and support they couldn't leave him out. (Later I will report on that "democratic" phone call they used to make things appear democratic.)

UFT leaders come from a less radical socialist background that was shaped by the cold war and the 1930s battles in the teacher union in NYC between hard-core communists and socialists.

Despite the AFT Ex Bd including Bernie Sanders as one of its three recommended candidates, activists on the left in the UFT - which is the engine that moves the AFT - know full well that the historical anti-left stance of the union since its founding 60 years ago has not disappeared. As recently as 2007, the ruling Unity Caucus put out a red-baiting hit job on the opposition presidential candidate for being a socialist. Since the opposition to Unity has always included a strong left component, even in the recent incarnation of the opposition as MORE (before The Faction hit the self-destruct button), we still were hearing hints of red-baiting.

We saw at the debate the other day when Bloomberg called Bernie a communist that there is the tendency to lump all people on the left in one band - Marxixt-Leninist revolutionary socialists - which is very different from Bernie's democratic socialism which I interpret more as social democracy which is a European model, especially Scandinavia, far from Marxist-Leninists. Now I do believe that Bernie decades ago probably flirted with M-L brands of socialism as I and others did. But Bernie needs to

In March 2007 Ed Notes reported on the attack on ICE-TJC presidential candidate Kit Wainer who was running against now AFT president Randi Weingarten.

Unity Propaganda Machine Treads in Dangerous Territory, March 14, 2007

From its very founding, the UFT has had an anti-left strain in its DNA. And no matter how Bernie brands himself, and his brand of socialism should be amenable to our politics, in reality our leaders see Bernie's history as being a sign that he is not to be trusted. Signs that he has flirted with more radical elements in the past with his support for the 1980s version of the Sandinistas being a clue, along with some kind words for Castro. I and many others supported the Sandinistas when they overthrew a vicious dictatorship and opposed the Reagan Iran-Contra deal to overthrow them. So most progressives supported the Sandinistas as the alternative to the old American-supported dictatorship where American nuns being raped was considered OK. Are we surprised that there were people in the streets yelling death to the yanqi that propped up an vicious dictatorship? And we hear even liberals talking about how undemocratic the Sandinistas were - but especially bad today with its own form of dictatorship under Ortega. I think we have learned to be very careful about undemocratic socialists. (Yes Virginia, I have personal experience with that type.)

As for Castro, many on the left opposed the non-democratic nature of Cuba while praising certain aspects like medical care and education --- I visited in 1978 and also praised some of what I saw. The other big charge against Bernie is his honeymoon in the Soviet Union in the 80s - horrors. Many Americans went there - and his comments that there are things we could learn from them are not that outrageous -- like they did have universal health care and an education system that was much praised. Too bad they learned more from us in terms of oligarchic capitalism which led to Putinism and then we learned from them to go  to Trumpism.

Bernie need to emphasize the democratic aspect of democratic socialism vs the capitalistic socialism where government flows money to the top 10% instead of the bottom 90%.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Will Bloomberg Destroy the Democratic Party?

Bloomberg must be buying super delegates by the bushel.
Who has a better chance of unifying the Democratic base? Bloomberg or Sanders?

Bloomberg is as interested in making sure Bernie doesn't get the nomination as he is in defeating Trump. But a bigger outcome of his efforts may be to undermine the Democratic Party.

To me it is clear as I said in my last post (AFT Endorses 3, I Predicted Bloomberg Brokered Convention Strategy) that Bloomberg entered the race banking on a brokered convention, which would fracture the party. If he hadn't entered the race and merely put his money behind one candidate who could challenge Bernie he could have had moved the needle down to a two person race.

But his ego wouldn't allow that and thus he has weakened the middle candidates - Biden, Pete, Klobuchar - probably fatally - thus leaving him to hope he is the last man standing. But his performance in the debate has really exposed him. However, if Biden shows a glimmer, he's still in the game. If Pete finishes a strong second to Bernie so is he.

Ironically, Bloomberg seems to have boosted Warren back into the discussion and the powers that be may settle on her as the alt to Bernie instead of Bloomberg. But she is hemorrhaging money and will barely cling on until super Tuesday.

Bloomberg and his class are so threatened by Bernie - and were by Warren but since she turned toward the center maybe not so much now since they feel she can be influenced. So fundamentally Bloomberg and even some others in the party may be willing to engage in open warfare even if Trump wins to keep the left from gaining control of the party like Trump did to the Republicans.

AFT Endorses 3, I Predicted Bloomberg Brokered Convention Strategy In Nov. 2019

  • POLITICO Pro Breaking News: American Federation of Teachers urges members to support Biden, Sanders, Warren

  • Bloomberg Strategy: A Brokered Democratic Convention, Super Delegates (Randi is one) - I bet on Klobuchar being the brokered choice- Nov. 25, 2019

So the news yesterday was that the AFT held some kind of town hall - I found a message on my machine -- another rigged event to make things look democratic - we heard for months that Randi wanted Warren but her weakness put them in this position of Biden (Mulgew running as delegate), Warren and Bernie who we know is the last choice so a victory of sorts for Bernie, just like the non-endorsement by the Culinary Workers in Nevada after they attacked Bernie was a victory of sorts after some kind of pushback from the rank and file. I bet the AFT polls must have showed some strength for Bernie. But to endorse these 3 pretty much takes us nowhere and in fact moves us to a brokered convention - which I where I believe Randi wants to go so she and her super delegates make the difference.

And it is clear that Bloomberg is the least likely candidate to beat Trump.

OK. So I was wrong on Klobuchar as a consensus. But the article below from Politico pretty much affirms my prediction on the Bloomberg strategy, though I didn't consider how many Dem hypocritical politicians Bloomberg would buy, including my own congressman, Gregory Meeks -- and I'm going to a fund raiser tomorrow for his primary opponent Shaniyat Chowdhury -

The key to the Bloomberg strategy are the 750 party chosen super delegates, of which Randi is one (and possibly Mulgrew). We know that Bernie is not the choice of the party leaders because he is an existential threat to their control in addition to being a threat to their political stances on a number of issues, including on foreign policy of policing the world. And note the Bloomberg team's suggestion that the others get out of his way -- and don't be surprised to see some money floating in their direction (I wonder about Yang dropping out.)

In 2016, the super delegates threw their support to Hillary and the way that unfolded upset Bernie people since they are not elected delegates. But Hillary did have the majority anyway. This time the super delegates can't vote until the 2nd ballot - which Randi claimed was one of her ideas when we saw her at an appearance at the CUNY Labor School a few months ago. Recently with Bernie looking like a threat, there were some calls to go back to giving them a vote on the first ballot to stop Bernie.

Bernie is expected to have a plurality but with so many candidates not a majority, so on the first ballot no one will win.

The question that was asked by Chuck Todd at the debate about these rules and only Bernie said the plurality should get the nomination - he wasn't given time but did get in the point about the unelected super delegates having the ability to overrule the leader.

Now if it's close in terms of numbers - say Bernie  has 1000, Biden 700, etc - then I can see some discussion where someone with 51% of the delegates gets the nomination. That process would be a problem. But say Bernie has 1700 out of the 1900+ and the others gang up to pool their votes along with super delegates. That will not be pretty and already people are thinking of going to the convention to push back in the streets against this possibility. It would certainly split the party and lead to the same type of situation we saw in 1968 in Chicago where the party machine made sure to hand Hubert Humphrey the nomination over Eugene McCarthy and cause enough of a split to elect the much hated Nixon (even more than Trump is in some ways  - of course in 1968 Trump was recovering from his bone spurs). Even with that split Nixon only won be a hair.

If say Bloomberg get pushed ahead of Bernie in a brokered convention, we will have a disaster. I'm not even shocked at how many Democrats are willing to overlook so much baggage Bloomberg carries. Imagine Trump trotting out woman after woman who makes claims against Bloomberg. And imagine Trump trotting out example of people who were stopped and frisked just for giggles.

Bloomberg quietly plotting brokered convention strategy

The effort is designed as a potential backstop to block Bernie Sanders by poaching supporters from Joe Biden and other moderates.


LAS VEGAS — Mike Bloomberg is privately lobbying Democratic Party officials and donors allied with his moderate opponents to flip their allegiance to him — and block Bernie Sanders — in the event of a brokered national convention.
The effort, largely executed by Bloomberg’s senior state-level advisers in recent weeks, attempts to prime Bloomberg for a second-ballot contest at the Democratic National Convention in July by poaching supporters of Joe Biden and other moderate Democrats, according to two Democratic strategists familiar with the talks and unaffiliated with Bloomberg.

The outreach has involved meetings and telephone calls with supporters of Biden and Pete Buttigieg — as well as uncommitted DNC members — in Virginia, Texas, Florida, Oklahoma and North Carolina, according to one of the strategists who participated in meetings and calls.

With Sanders’ emergence as the frontrunner in the presidential primary, Democrats in those states have recently raised the prospect that the democratic socialist could be a top-of-the-ticket liability.
“There’s a whole operation going on, which is genius,” said one of the strategists, who is unaffiliated with any campaign. “And it’s going to help them win on the second ballot … They’re telling them that’s their strategy.”
It’s a presumptuous play for a candidate who hasn’t yet won a delegate or even appeared on a ballot. And it could also bring havoc to the convention, raising the prospect of party insiders delivering the nomination to a billionaire over a progressive populist.
Other candidates have quietly been in contact for months with superdelegates — the DNC members, members of Congress and other party officials who cannot vote on the first ballot at a contested national convention — but none have showcased it as a feature of their campaign, as Hillary Clinton did in 2016.

Asked about Bloomberg’s efforts, spokeswoman Julie Wood said Thursday, “We have an enormous apparatus that is constantly reaching out to all types of people for support and to explain why we think Mike is the best candidate to take on Donald Trump."
The rule prohibiting superdelegates, or automatic delegates, from voting on the first ballot of a contested convention was instituted only after the last convention, which followed a primary in which superdelegates overwhelmingly sided against Sanders and with the establishment-oriented Clinton.
The reduction of those delegates’ power was a major victory for the Democratic Party’s left flank, while many Democrats, regardless of ideology, believed it could help broaden the party’s appeal to young voters skeptical of centralized party power. Earlier this year, when a small group of DNC members began gauging support for a potential policy reversal to allow superdelegates to vote on the first ballot, DNC officials quickly dismissed the idea, and even proponents of a change acknowledged they could not get traction for it.

If Sanders secures a plurality of delegates but loses the nomination on a second ballot, many moderate and progressive Democrats alike predict the national convention in Milwaukee would devolve into chaos.

Bloomberg’s effort comes as the prospect of a contested convention becomes less and less remote. That development is in part because of Bloomberg’s own late entry into the race. The billionaire former New York City mayor’s deluge of spending on television advertisements and campaign infrastructure put him into contention, while further muddling the Democratic primary field.

Many moderates, including Bloomberg’s supporters, fear that the centrist vote may be divided, allowing Sanders, the more progressive senator from Vermont, to reach the convention with more delegates than any of them.
If Sanders accomplishes that — but fails to amass the 1,991 delegates necessary to clench the nomination on the first ballot — superdelegates could prove pivotal, a possibility raised in Wednesday’s presidential debate.

Asked if the person who arrives at the convention with the most delegates should become the nominee, even if he or she falls short of a majority, Sanders said “the will of the people should prevail” and that “the person who has the most votes should become the nominee.”

In contrast, Bloomberg and every other candidate suggested convention rules should dictate the outcome — meaning only a candidate with a majority of delegates should claim the nomination.

Following the debate, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who has endorsed Bloomberg and chaired the 2012 Democratic National Convention, said a second ballot will likely be required this year.
“I think everybody’s going to be scrambling for delegates,” he said. “And I think all the candidates made that clear, except for Sanders.”

Bloomberg was battered in the debate here Wednesday, his first since announcing his candidacy. Bloomberg, who is bypassing the first four nominating states and focusing instead on Super Tuesday, was criticized for his extraordinary wealth, for allegations that he made derogatory remarks about women and for his years-long defense of “stop-and-frisk” policing.
But Bloomberg’s fortune has allowed him near-limitless spending, and his campaign’s outreach to superdelegates reflects an operation that can afford not only to advertise, but to organize in any state.
Rising in recent polls, he has sought to cast the contest as a two-person race between him and Sanders, despite the votes that other moderates — unlike Bloomberg — have already won in early contests. The campaign this week suggested Biden, Amy Klobuchar and Buttigieg are only siphoning votes away from Bloomberg and enabling Sanders.

“Look, I think if the election were today, Bernie Sanders would come out of Super Tuesday with the delegate lead,” longtime Bloomberg adviser Howard Wolfson told reporters Wednesday night. “In part that is because the moderate lane of the party is split, and … many of the candidates are going to split that vote. Now, that may change between now and Super Tuesday, but I think if the election were today, that would be the result.”
He called Bloomberg “the best-positioned candidate to take on Bernie Sanders.”
Responding to a question at the debate on Wednesday about whether the person with the most delegates should be the nominee, Bloomberg said, “Whatever the rules of the Democratic Party are, they should be followed.”
Asked if that meant the convention should “work its will,” Bloomberg replied, “Yes.”