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The Democrats’ War in New Hampshire

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Sanders, Biden, Warren and Harris face tough competition in the primary. Many US analysts believe that the victory or defeat of either candidate in Iowa’s New Hampshire can change the equation completely in the Democratic Party. If one of these candidates wins the Iowa primary in New Hampshire, his run in the presidential election will be paved. In recent days, all four Democratic candidates have been trying to garner votes in Iowa and New Hampshire. Here’s a look at the latest analysis of the Democratic primary:

 New Hampshire voters are torn between Sanders and Warren

The Vox reported that New Hampshire is a rare state where Joe Biden doesn’t hold a commanding lead over the Democratic presidential field, creating an opportunity for Northeasterners Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren to not only take the state with the first-in-the-nation primary but potentially emerge as the field’s progressive favorite. It’s a bona fide race already. Sanders carried the state by a wide margin in 2016, but voters aren’t so sure they’ll support him again in 2020 with Warren on the ballot.Voter Mallory Langkau of Groveton, New Hampshire, is torn between the two. Langkau voted for Sanders in the 2016 Democratic primary and was leaning toward him again in 2020. But after she watched both Sanders and Warren speak back to back during their recent swings through the state, her decision became more difficult.

“I’m more confused,” she told me. “As a voter, I’m really stuck. In a perfect world, they’d be running mates.”

Recent New Hampshire polls show Sanders slightly ahead of Warren; an August Suffolk University poll of 500 likely primary voters showed Biden at 21 percent, Sanders around 17 percent, and Warren around 14 percent. A July CNN/UNH Survey Center poll had Sanders and Warren each tied at 19 percent, with Biden leading at 24 percent. Some earlier polls even had the Vermont senator ahead of Biden, but he and Warren have settled into a close competition for second place.

National polls have shown Biden is typically the second-choice candidate for Sanders supporters and vice versa. But in New Hampshire, 34 percent of Sanders voters said Warren was their second choice, compared to 18 percent who selected Biden, per the July CNN/UNH poll. Sanders was the second choice for nearly 40 percent of Warren voters, and the poll showed Warren and Sanders competing for second among Biden voters.

I interviewed more than 35 voters at Sanders’s and Warren’s most recent New Hampshire campaign events and found many people trying to make up their minds between the two. Some undecided voters were attending back-to-back Warren and Sanders campaign events to suss out the differences between the candidates.

A few fervent Sanders supporters told me that Warren’s dogged stance on anti-corruption and corporate responsibility made her the only other candidate they’d even consider.And few of these progressive voters said they were considering Biden, even with his lead in state and national polls. Many said he was a last resort; they’d vote for him if he was the Democratic nominee, but they wanted to support a candidate they genuinely believed in during the primary. Others said Biden was a nonstarter.

“Biden is Hillary Clinton dressed up in a man’s suit,” 80-year-old Sanders supporter Fletcher Manley told me outside a campaign event in Berlin, New Hampshire.

New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary and second major presidential contest is a crucial contest for Warren and Sanders. For one thing, the two candidates are from neighboring states (Sanders from Vermont and Warren from Massachusetts). It’s also high-stakes for Sanders because he won the New Hampshire primary by a historic 152,000 votes in 2016 when he faced off against Clinton. The question is how many of his 2016 supporters he can hang on to, and how many Warren can scoop up.

At one stop in North Conway, a voter asked Sanders point-blank why they should support him over Warren.

“Elizabeth is a friend of mine, and you will make that decision yourself,” Sanders replied.

New Hampshire voters still have six months to do so. But many of them know all too well: In order for Sanders and Warren’s progressive ideas to win, one of the candidates will eventually have to lose.

A close competition between Sanders and Warren in New Hampshire

In New Hampshire, the competition among these two progressives is fierce — if still largely for second place. Sanders has typically polled a few points ahead of Warren in New Hampshire, and at times has even polled ahead of Biden. But national pollsters have noted a problematic trend for Sanders: He seems to have more of a ceiling on his base, causing some doubts he can expand beyond his fervent core supporters. Warren is still third in most New Hampshire polls but has shown herself more able to grow — nationally, and here in the Granite State too.

“In terms of trajectory, it’s all in Warren’s favor,” said Patrick Murray, director of Monmouth University’s Polling Institute. “I think you see it on the ground, Sanders still has his core support, which is huge support, but you don’t see him expanding on that. Warren … you see her drawing out new people at each event.”

Because Sanders and Warren’s policy positions are so similar, New Hampshire voters are considering a number of other factors not so easily quantifiable when deciding whom to vote for. Bernie supporters talk about their love for the Vermont senator’s passion and longtime advocacy of progressive issues. Warren supporters say they are drawn to her intelligence, relate to her personal story, and appreciate her clear, detailed plans.

“They love Bernie’s message, but they can individualize with Elizabeth,” said Arnie Arnesen, a progressive radio host and longtime political figure in New Hampshire (Arnesen hasn’t endorsed either candidate). “People walk out of a room with Elizabeth and realize she has a plan for me. Not for the generic worker, not for America, for me.”

Langkau, the Groveton voter who’d attended both candidates’ events, would be personally affected by their proposed policies. A third-year school teacher, she makes $37,000 per year and is bogged down by $80,000 in student debt. She likes Sanders’s proposal to raise teachers’ starting salaries to $60,000 but also appreciate’s Warren’s background as a public teacher and her plan to erase student debt for most Americans.

“I want to see what makes them different,” Langkau told me. “They’ve linked themselves together. If they had to separate themselves, how would they do so?”

How New Hampshire voters are choosing between Sanders and Warren

New Hampshire voters gave Bernie Sanders his first big win during his scrappy 2016 run against Hillary Clinton. Sanders’s decisive primary victory shocked the political establishment and helped drive lasting momentum for his “political revolution.”

The 2020 primary is a far cry from the binary choice between the establishment-backed Clinton and the anti-establishment Sanders. With more than 20 Democrats still running, voters are overwhelmed with choices. But a few hardcore Sanders supporters told me the only other candidate they’d consider taking a look at is Elizabeth Warren.“I’m looking at Bernie … he surprised me, he’s on top of his game,” said voter Mike Lydon of Lancaster, who voted for Sanders in 2016. Lydon had hopped between a Sanders ice cream social and an outdoor Warren town hall against a picturesque backdrop of New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

“I think Elizabeth and Bernie have very similar ideals. She’s a dynamic candidate; she’s taken on corporate elites,” Lydon said.

A Sanders supporter from the senator’s home state of Vermont, Richard Balzano, said he thinks Bernie is the only candidate “not held down by corporate responsibility.” Balzano even floated the idea of Sanders running as a third-party candidate if he doesn’t win the Democratic nomination. But he also said he’d be open to Warren, even with his lingering frustration that she endorsed Clinton in the 2016 general election (Warren stayed neutral during the primary).

“I would consider Elizabeth Warren if he didn’t get the nod,” Balzano said.

Bernie supporters like Lydon and Balzano still see Sanders as the truest representative of progressive ideas and the more electable candidate against President Donald Trump. Sanders himself is fond of mentioning head-to-head matchup polls that show him beating Trump in a general election. But importantly, the animosity many Sanders supporters harbored towards Clinton in 2016 just isn’t there with Warren, which could give the Massachusetts senator an opening with his base. Progressive voters in New Hampshire are parsing the two candidates’ personal narratives, and whom they connect with more.“I’m kind of interested in Elizabeth Warren, but Bernie’s forever like this — no wavering,” said Sanders supporter Kacey Marsh of Whitefield, New Hampshire. “He cares about the people; he’s not corporate. We don’t deserve him.”

And with a Democratic electorate obsessed with beating Trump, it’s worth noting the gendered “electability” concerns dominating 2020 cut both ways. Just as many voters told me they’re concerned about Sanders’s age (he’s 77, compared to Warren’s 70) and want to see a woman take on Trump.

“I think he’s too old,” said Warren supporter Lizzy Berube of Campton, New Hampshire, who added she thinks the same of the 76-year-old Joe Biden. “I think it’s time for a woman. Picture Elizabeth Warren on a debate stage with Donald Trump. She will eat him alive.”
Other voters said they see Warren’s personal story as more relatable.“There’s something about Bernie I’m not excited about,” said Nashua resident Rory O’Neil. “Warren has that track record. Her personality feels more genuine to me.”

One thing’s for sure: Sanders and Warren supporters alike told me they’re excited by two candidates railing against corporations and corruption, who are not taking PAC money or holding high-dollar fundraisers. The fact there is so much overlap in New Hampshire voters considering both Sanders and Warren speaks to something else: Both campaigns are trying to build a larger progressive movement.

“What they’re doing by tag-teaming, they’re enhancing their position, solidifying their solutions, and attracting more people to their base,” Arnesen told me. “That’s the goal.”

For the progressive ideology to win, either Sanders or Warren will eventually have to lose

Though the competition between Sanders and Warren is still friendly, the fact remains that they have many of the same policy ideas and are competing for the same voters. Eventually, those voters will have to make a choice; in order for this progressive agenda to win, one candidate will eventually have to make way for the other.

As the current Democratic frontrunner, Biden is holding on to his lead primarily with an argument about electability: that he is the best candidate to take on Trump and return the country to pre-Trump “normalcy.” Sanders and Warren, competing for second place, have a vision for a future that goes beyond that. Both of them have far wider-ranging progressive plans to shape the future of the United States. But with a general election with Trump looming in everyone’s minds, is there room for two progressives in this lane?

“They’re both very progressive, [but] the only issue that matters to everyone is electability,” said voter Nancy Hirschberg of Wolfeboro, New Hampshire.

Biden’s electability message is resonating in New Hampshire, too, but not overwhelmingly — according to RealClearPolitics, he averaged a 1.7 percent lead over Sanders from July to early August. Some New Hampshire progressives think Warren and Sanders can focus on building a movement bigger than either of their respective campaigns.

“I think they can certainly work together, whether intentionally or by virtue of their positioning, to advance a progressive agenda,” said New Hampshire immigration attorney Ron Abramson, a Sanders delegate in 2016 who is now supporting Warren. “I don’t view them as much as competitive [rather than] collaborative or complementary.”

But voters will also eventually have to make a decision, and the race is on. Warren’s and Sanders’s campaigns are both hard at work in New Hampshire. Warren has established a formidable ground game in the state, texting, calling, and emailing voters after they show up to an event to connect them with organizers. Sanders’s state team has mounted a widespread door-knocking campaign to get face time with thousands of New Hampshire voters well before the primary. Voters are taking notice; nearly 35 percent of 500 likely New Hampshire voters polled by Suffolk University said they’d gotten outreach from the Sanders campaign, while nearly 32 said they’d been contacted by Warren’s campaign.

As Warren has become known for making herself accessible to voters at events, Sanders has noticeably changed his campaign strategy from the huge rallies of 2016 to small, intimate events where he has a long dialogue with voters. Contrary to recent reports that Sanders is still grumpy and inaccessible, the Vermont senator is clearly trying to shed that image as he mounts his second presidential campaign. Sanders often reminds voters that the very ideas driving the policy debates in 2020 — Medicare-for-all and tuition-free college — were his ideas in 2016, and they were considered “radical.” During one of Sanders’s campaign stops, a voter asked the senator why he wasn’t “calling out” his Democratic opponents for “taking all your ideas.”

“I’m not going to call them out, I’m proud of it!” Sanders replied. There’s no doubt Sanders has successfully elevated the progressive agenda.

From our partner Tehran Times

Americas

Trump’s blind spot

Iveta Cherneva

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The year is 1962. In the midst of the Cuban missile crisis, the United States needs Mexico to place nuclear missiles on its territory. In a phone call, Mexico’s President tells US President Kennedy that Mexico will provide whatever the United States needs. This was opening Mexico up to a potential nuclear strike by the Russians in the midst of the tense crisis, exposing the vital security of the country for the benefit of the United States, writes Iveta Cherneva.

What is remarkable about this episode is that Mexico was agreeing to a thing so ludicrous, and this was the result of a successful decade-long US foreign policy towards Latin America.

The benefit of carefully crafted US foreign policy is noticed in times of need and further down the path, not immediately. US standing and credibility matter precisely in critical situations.

Unfortunately, US President Donald Trump’s blind spot is foreign policy.

When he took the decision to betray the Kurds by withdrawing US troops from the Kurdish parts of Syria, Mr. Trump did not expect the deserved backlash from Senate Republicans. Senator Lindsey Graham, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has called it “the biggest mistake of his presidency” and Trump didn’t understand why.

Through his approach to US foreign policy, Trump is undoing years of planning and careful calculation, and not just in the Middle East.

Trump’s Kurdish decision does not come from a specific school of thought, as some might have suggested. Trump’s moves are all over the map; he just doesn’t understand the intricate game of chess that is involved in crafting US foreign policy.

His withdrawal of US forces from the Kurdish territories is not grounded in isolationism of the principled kind preached by Senator Rand Paul. It soon became apparent that the US troops in Syria are not coming back home, they are simply being repositioned to guard the oil fields in Syria.

Coupled with the decision to send US troops to Saudi Arabia to do the same, it became clear that Trump simply likes to guard oil. He told the Kurds to go live in the Syrian parts that have oil because apparently then the US would care to protect them. He also said that the US wants some of that oil.

But guarding oil is not a grand strategy. That is oil-centered trumpism of the kind that even George W. Bush didn’t dare to articulate quite like this.

In his surprise at Republican Senators’ anger, it was apparent that Donald Trump didn’t understand what in terms of geopolitics was contained in a small group of US soldiers. Neither did he get the fine geopolitical balance at play. It seems that there are very few things that can make Republican Senators break ranks and foreign policy is what gets them.

A Bulgarian proverb says that “where you hit it is not where it cracks”. The Kurdish decision will reflect on other areas — US standing will crack elsewhere, not immediately and not where Trump expects it to.

Across issues and across geographical regions, Trump is undoing decades of carefully crafted policy and language where every phrase and every move meant something.

As the Mexico nuclear shield episode shows, the benefits of carefully crafted US foreign policy are noticed in times of need and further down the path, not immediately.

US standing in the international arena matters. Trump has harmed it and the results won’t be immediately apparent.

But Republican Senators see further in foresight. They will be the key figures in Trump’s impeachment. Republican Senators have the right to be angry at this lack of grand strategy and they will remember that when the impeachment comes to Senate.

Foreign policy is Trump’s blind spot and what he does not realize is that it might cost him the impeachment.

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The coup in Bolivia shines yet more dark light on America

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Just when one might have thought things geopolitical might be about to turn for the better, which means the worldwide geopolitical nightmare engineered by the U.S. and Trump and all the rest of the mob in Washington might fade a bit, it just gets worse.

Bolivia’s recently re-elected and then self-resigned President Evo Morales because he is graciously trying to avoid more upset and possible carnage in Bolivia, was on the chopping block of the U.S., and chopped he was although he is not dead yet and apparently hiding out among his indigenous supporters somewhere in Bolivia but has accepted asylum in Mexico.

Yes, Morales may have tried to overstay his presidential term by extending the term limits and maybe, just maybe, there were some very minor “irregularities” in the voting process in his country, but that’s immaterial. He still won a huge plurality of the votes against his challenger.  The U.S.’s government changing machine has been out for his head for over a decade, and he had the guts at the U.N. not long ago with Trump and Pompeo nearby to point out to the world just what the U.S. has been about for far too long: criminal meddling all over the globe.

It’s weird, though. Evo did a good job for over a decade. You cannot argue about his economic record in Bolivia. He created, surprisingly, what might be termed a “prosperous socialism” wherein ALL boats were lifted, and especially the prospects for the poor majority. One would think the oligarchs and the “rich” in Bolivia might see some benefit in a society where most everyone got at least something better than they had. But the “rich” and particularly the obscene rich, and imperialists, they can never get enough. Any diminution in their wealth, or more importantly any restrictions on how wealthy they might become because some sharing with the poor is mandated by good government, has now been forbidden. Do they not realize that social calm for all, relatively, is better than total societal discord? Apparently not. Whatever new government is formed in Bolivia, the country is going to regress violently and the poor set back forcefully, with extreme prejudice. People who are by nature cruel and lacking compassion, feeling themselves exceptional, like oligarchs, never learn…until they are strung up on lamp posts and finally destroyed, as has happening time and again in history in various locations.

It may be hard to believe, but the U.S., which is largely controlled by multi-billionaire oligarchs (and this is a phenomenon that has been building for 30 or 40 years) under an increasing “neoliberal” regime (and not just in the U.S.), may see a day when even they will see their fortunes vanish both materially and socially. Lamp posts likely await them, too, when things become unbearable for the 95 percent of the citizenry. For the privileged, greed really is bottomless for most of this class of people. They live in a fantasy world. But of course there are exceptions. Yet the U.S. aims for resources overseas that it does not control – like Venezuela’s oil, like Bolivia’s as yet mostly untapped lithium, like Afghanistan’s riches, and much more.

Which begs the question whether it was a good idea that President Rouhani told the world this week that Iran has discovered an additional 53 billion barrels of oil. Even if only 25 percent of this can be eventually extracted, it’s fabulous. Iran IS wealthy, fabulously so in every respect, especially in its people, except that for now it can’t market its petroleum wealth. Maybe that is a good thing temporarily, for Iran appears to be growing other industry, including the growth and export of saffron to name just one item.

Meanwhile, as risky as it may be, Iran has allegedly “blown past” uranium enrichment levels mandated by the JCPOA. This is absurd. Iran is allegedly enriching uranium up to levels of 4.5 percent. That nowhere close to bomb material at over 90 percent. The JCPOA permits 3.6 percent, allegedly.  The IAEA and the European signatories to the JCPOA are concerned and want Iran to go back to the limits of the deal. This includes limits on the size of the stockpile of enriched material, too, which is currently, according to reports, less than 100 kilos above that limit.

However, Iran is doing just what it said it would and no more — inching away from the JCPOA because the signatories of the JCPOA, the Europeans, have done virtually nothing, cowards that they are, to stand up to the Trump mobsters and realize that their long-term interests reside east of the Bosporus. At least Nordstream 2 is soon going to be a delivering fact. Europe did not back down to U.S opposition to that, and should have stood by Iran when Trump, caving to Netanyahu, abandoned the JCPOA. As far as many observers are concerned, particularly after the U.S.- coup in Bolivia, Iran is doing just the right things and the world, literally, prays that pariah America falls on its own swords.

From our partner Tehran Times

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Floods, Fires, Coups and Impeachment Make a Busy Week

Dr. Arshad M. Khan

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Venice is flooded.  The water is hip high in St. Mark’s Square threatening the church and the expensive shops and restaurants on its perimeter.  The mayor blames climate change.

In Australia, the bush fire season is underway.  One in New South Wales is scorchingly close to nearby homes having already destroyed two buildings on a country property owned by the actor Russell Crowe.

Floods, too, in the north of England, while Boris the chameleon has a comfortable 10-point lead in the polls over his labor opposite number, Corbyn the plonker.  No matter how outrageous or inept, Boris might be, the plonker makes nary a dent on that voluminous target.  So much for the left in Britain as it awaits another drubbing at the polls.

Then in Bolivia, Evo Morales has fled to Mexico claiming his life was at risk.  If he clearly looks Bolivian Indian, his successor, the leader of the senate, Jeanine Anez is just as clearly white.  As in South America elsewhere, the white Spanish elite are at the top of the food chain, followed by the mixed mestizos and at the bottom the indigenous people.  The exceptions are Argentina where the original inhabitants were massacred out of existence, and Chile which is German immigrants from long ago.

Trump welcomed the coup in Bolivia — was there covert support?  If Morales won plaudits for fighting poverty and as the country’s first indigenous leader, he also overstayed his welcome, at least internationally.  He defied constitutional limits by running for a fourth term in a close election which the Organization of American States faulted for “clear manipulation”.  Mr. Morales promised fresh elections.  But the elite-run military and police clearly saw an opportunity.  Morales supporters are organizing demonstrations. 

The US does not have coups; it has impeachment.  Bill Clinton notable for his expression, “It depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is” … and for a new low in disgusting personal behavior, was impeached.  The procedure requires the House to determine articles of impeachment and then send a team to prosecute in the senate.  The individual being impeached has the right to his own lawyers to mount a defense.  The senate eventually retires to consider and deliver a verdict.  A two-thirds majority is required for conviction.  Bill Clinton survived despite his impeachment being based on facts unearthed by Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr.  Can anyone then imagine a Republican senate convicting Donald Trump over a sentence in a phone call?

So what is the purpose of this futile exercise in the House of Representatives?  Perhaps Democrats hope to sling enough mud to sway the independent note in the forthcoming election.  Perhaps they want a few moments in the limelight, and TV interviews before, during and after.

A fraught world with real climate issues the legislators prefer to ignore — after all they are well-funded by fossil fuel interests.  Forget the actual storms, our elected representatives prefer storms in a tea cup.  The House Intelligence Committee, which is holding the hearings, will probably forward the matter to the full house as the political games continue. 

Meanwhile, record numbers of homeless sleep under bridges as temperatures plunge to -15C (5 F)  in the midwest and the east of this wealthy country.  Do the politicians care?

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