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Lunchtime Photo

This is Hoover Dam at sunset, taken from the Arizona side. It took me a couple of tries to finally get to this particular parking lot, but I eventually arrived there right on time and got several nice pictures of the dam sporting this delicate lavender hue. In the background you can see the newish bridge on Highway 93 that I posted a picture of last week. Note that although this makes a nice picture, if the water in Lake Mead were at normal levels it would reach all the way to the bottom of the purplish band that runs across the dam just barely below the roadway surface.

January 25, 2020 — Hoover Dam, Arizona

The Presidential Campaign That Made the Least Sense Has Come to an End

Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick was among the last to arrive in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. And now he’s gone. After earning 0.4 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, Patrick announced Wednesday that he would end his longshot campaign.

Patrick joined the race in November 2019; most of the other candidates had announced their bids by April. And, with neither the name recognition nor the massive wealth of former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who also entered the race in November, Patrick’s campaign was lackluster from the get-go.

“Having delivered health care to 99% of Massachusetts residents, nation leading student achievement and energy efficiency, responsible budgets, and the highest bond rating in Massachusetts history, I believed and still believe we had a strong case to make for being able to deliver better outcomes,” Patrick wrote in an email announcing the suspension of his campaign. “And having shown through legislative initiatives, economic recovery, natural and man-made disasters, and a terrorist attack that we can lead by asking people to turn to each other instead of on each other, I thought we had a pretty good case for a better way as well.”

Philippines Tell US to Take a Hike

Is this interesting or not?

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte told the U.S. Tuesday that he was scrapping a 2-decade-old defense agreement, throwing one of Washington’s most important security alliances in Asia into disarray.

….The Pentagon sees its relationship with the Philippines as a bulwark against China’s growing military ambitions in Southeast Asia. Beijing has built naval installations in the contested waters of the South China Sea and expanded security cooperation with authoritarian governments in Thailand and Cambodia, among other countries.

“The American and Filipino defense establishments will be working frantically to prevent VFA expiration by trying to convince their respective leaders of its value,” said Derek Grossman, a senior defense analyst at the Rand Corp. “Without the VFA, countering China in the South China Sea and conducting combined counter-terrorism missions in the southern Philippines will be virtually impossible.”

I vote for “interesting,” partly because this comes out of the blue to those of us who haven’t followed this dispute closely. This means that I don’t know what to think about it. Is there a liberal party line on relations with the Philippines? A conservative party line? A neocon party line? A Trumpist party line?

I don’t know, but it’s all part of a tightrope the US can’t walk forever. We want to maintain a serious military and diplomatic influence in southeast Asia, but it’s pretty obvious to everyone involved that China is the preeminent power in the region—if not quite now, then certainly in the very near future. Not only is the US obviously farther away and preoccupied with other problems, but President Trump’s attitude toward mutual defense treaties is making China look even more dominant. There’s a price to be paid for crossing China, while Trump is actively pushing back on maintaining treaty obligations. To resurrect a hoary old cliche, will the Philippines be the first domino to fall in an inevitable loss of US influence in Asia?

Alternatively, of course, Duterte is just bluffing and everything will work out fine over the next couple of months. Maybe this is just a routine nothingburger. Wait and see.

Bernie’s Young California Fans Spent Tuesday Celebrating—by Organizing

While Bernie Sanders locked down a primary win in frigid New Hampshire, a group of student Berners in the exact opposite corner of the country spent their evening celebrating and recruiting others to join their outreach efforts ahead of the big prize: Super Tuesday.

“What do we want? Bernie! When do we want him? Now!” chanted a group of roughly 80 to 100 students at the University of California–Los Angeles, holding up Bernie 2020 signs in both English and Spanish. The campaign event—one of several planned this week in Southern California—was smaller than I’d expected, perhaps due to midterms or what some students called “freezing” weather. (It was in the mid-50s.) But the folks I talked to were all-in, listing similar reasons for supporting Sanders for the Democratic presidential nomination: climate change, student debt, free college tuition, universal health care, and immigration reform.

Not surprisingly, the main theme of the campus event was the role of young people will play—on Super Tuesday, and beyond. FiveThirtyEight has predicted that Sanders could clean up in California; as Nate Silver pointed out on Twitter, that prediction is “a fairly big reason” why his organization’s model currently has Sanders as the frontrunner. The speakers encouraged the crowd to mobilize for the next three weeks to win Sanders the nomination, and then to stick with it throughout what promises to be a long campaign to defeat Donald Trump. 

“Political is personal,” emphasized Joseline Garcia, the student organizer manager for the Sanders campaign in California. Throughout the event, the 25-year-old daughter of Mexican and Guatemalan immigrants hyped up the crowd in her Bernie shirt, cowboy boots, and black cowboy hat, leading chants and imploring students to hold their lit-up cellphones to the sky. When I pulled her away for a moment after the event, Garcia was quick to talk up Sanders’ popularity with Latinx students and noted that this younger cohort of Latinx voters would be vital in mobilizing older generations.

Take Garcia’s family, for example. “My mother is going to be voting for the first time,” she told me. “For Bernie.” 

The Justice Department Is Now Trump’s Personal Fiefdom

Back in the day, if you got caught interfering with the Justice Department it was a big deal. No longer. The Trump strategy is to do it all in public:

BREAKING: AG Barr is taking control of legal matters of interest to President Trump, including the Roger Stone sentencing, according to multiple people familiar with the matter. https://t.co/TR87t1U1DW

— NBC News (@NBCNews) February 12, 2020

Trump is thrilled and wants the whole world to know about it:

Congratulations to Attorney General Bill Barr for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought. Evidence now clearly shows that the Mueller Scam was improperly brought & tainted. Even Bob Mueller lied to Congress!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 12, 2020

This is not even a major headline in most newspapers, just a bit of routine news out of the White House. What’s coming next?

Frontrunner

You don’t see a lot of political rallies like Bernie Sanders’ election-eve extravaganza at the University of New Hampshire. It was the first campaign event I’ve ever been to where a candidate’s staffers had to struggle to get people to stop crowdsurfing. It was also the first political event I’ve been to where cops rushed the stage to confront one of the headliners.

Unusual, for sure. But what was so unprecedented about the event on Monday at the university’s ice-hockey arena, officially called the “Bernie Beats Trump Concert and GOTV Rally,” was the sea change it portended. In front of 7,500 supporters, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a few people dressed up as fire emojis, and The Strokes, Sanders was making a statement not just about how well he would do in the primary here, but what kind of victory it would be.

Listen to Tim Murphy describe Bernie Sanders’ journey to frontrunner status, from inside the roaring Sanders celebration party, on this special New Hampshire primary edition of the Mother Jones Podcast:

New Hampshire would make history, he predicted. Sanders would deliver the highest turnout in the history of the first-in-the-nation primary, and he would win on Tuesday. And then he would just keep going down the line. He’d win California on March 3, and then the Democratic nomination, and then in November he’d win the whole damn thing. Sanders was getting ahead of himself, but it’s not such a crazy prospect right now. After his victory on Tuesday, Sanders has become something that for most of his political career would have seemed like a joke: Right now, Bernie Sanders is the closest thing the Democratic presidential race has to a frontrunner, and he’s done it with a campaign operation that is its own kind of statement of the country he wants to build.

Sanders’ narrow win in New Hampshire capped one of the wildest weeks in the recent history of the Democratic party, a chaotic seven days that blew up the equilibrium of the race, put the previous frontrunner on the ropes, injected fresh paranoia and ill will into what up until then had been a fairly mild contest, and left the nominating system itself a broken mess.

When I first caught Sanders in Manchester on Thursday afternoon, at a campaign office off a shopping center north of downtown, he was as close to pissed as the post-heart-attack, kindler-gentler Bernie seems to get. He, not Pete Buttigieg, was the true victor in Iowa, he declared; he trashed the caucus process and the fallout, said that it had been “very unfair” to him personally, and that he was looking forward to being in a place that calculates its winner by adding up votes.

M. Scott Brauer for Mother Jones

Some voters I spoke to in New Hampshire were less kind. It was a “clusterfuck,” I was told in West Lebanon. Sanders supporters raised questions about the app that had failed on caucus night, alleging that perhaps Buttigieg himself was somehow involved.

And it was a kind of existential debacle. Campaigns poured tens of millions of dollars into the state, logged thousands and thousands of man hours organizing there. Some candidates fucking moved there, and some candidates dropped out when they failed to gain traction. I took a stats class in college and one day a stack of our exams was set on fire by a disgruntled grad student. We would never truly know how well we did. Iowa was sort of like that.

But amid all the chaos, there was a lot about Iowa that was knowable. As he would do in New Hampshire, Sanders spent the final days of that race boasting about turnout. He would go into claustrophobic campaign offices in college towns and ag centers, and walk outside to address the spillover. Sanders didn’t stick around for the Super Bowl at his own Super Bowl party—his “Super Bowl…thing,” he called it—but he stuck around long enough to say he wanted “to create the highest turnout in the history of the Iowa caucus.” It was a promise in service of an argument; in turning out his voters, he would deliver up for the party and the media an irrefutable argument for his own electability.

That turnout didn’t materialize in Iowa—it was about on par with 2016—though turnout in New Hampshire came pretty close. So far Sanders hasn’t expanded the electorate quite like he’s promised to do, and his success in the general election (if he makes it that far) could hinge on his capacity to change that. But he’s engendered real loyalty in his supporters that has helped him weather an up-and-down campaign. No one raises more money from more people, and in the first two states, no one has been able to summon more people to do the work on the ground of getting out the vote for him. Their work meant that while Sanders didn’t realize all the gains he’d envisioned, he didn’t fall off either like some of his colleagues.

Sanders set out to build and consolidate his coalition by “centering,” as Ocasio-Cortez likes to put it, the kinds of working people who stand to benefit from his economic agenda. In October, I caught Sanders at a youth enrichment center outside Charles City, Iowa, the same weekend he’d led a series of high-profile rallies with Ocasio-Cortez—big flashy events at an arena, a college campus, and a conference center. The man who introduced him, to a crowd of a few dozen people off a two-lane road, wasn’t a nationally prominent politico or a state rep or even a county commissioner. His name was Steven Zimmer, he told the room. And he was a gas station clerk at Hy-Vee.

The local politics website Iowa Starting Line reported that Sanders’ Iowa field team included “an Olive Garden server in Iowa City, a Bettendorf brewery worker, a North Liberty Hy-Vee clerk, an Iowa City cashier at Lowes, a St. Kilda’s bartender from Des Moines, an Ottumwa security guard and a records store worker from Sioux City”—and relied on those staffers to organize their own networks with meetups and other events. Sanders featured Amazon warehouse workers in advertisements and crashed a Walmart shareholder meeting to advocate on behalf of employees, who rewarded his work in their own way—Walmart is one of the top employers of Sanders small-dollar donors.

The campaign itself, in other words, was a reflection of the message. This was the operation that staked out a meat processing plant in Ottumwa at midnight in the hopes of persuading enough voters, some of whom were immigrants from Eritrea, to turn out for him at special mid-day satellite precinct—the campaign’s commitment to principle merging with an attention to detail. In Waterloo, Iowa, I met a field organizer for a rural county whose previous job had been loading tractor trailers at a Target distribution center. Now he was at a union shop—the first presidential campaign to have unionized, in fact. Working for Sanders, he told me, was the only job he’d ever had where he could actually use his health insurance.

M. Scott Brauer for Mother Jones

Such an ethos instills a real loyalty among his supporters. Some of the same volunteers who descended on Iowa to knock doors for him moved on to New Hampshire a week later. At a canvassing kickoff in the small town of Plymouth, an hour north of Manchester in the White Mountains, nearly everyone I spoke with was from out of state—a professor from New York City, a student from Westchester, a supermarket seafood clerk from New Jersey. They had organized themselves, chartered buses and carpooled, and kept going up I-93 when the office in Manchester told them the city was full. Sanders brought on stage his campaign director in the state, Shannon Jackson, to rattle off the stats. They’d knocked a door every four seconds, he said.

In the back of the room I met Sam Jaffe from Bushwick, who had arrived in the state after five days in Cedar Falls, Iowa, where he’d help deliver Black Hawk County (but failed to convert his host).

“I would never go up to New Hampshire in February to canvass for anyone else,” he said.

He had to skip Nevada, though—he was running out of vacation days.

Sanders emerged by holding his own while the man who was supposed to beat him fell apart. The Vermont senator never subscribed to this view, of course, but heading into Iowa, there was a working theory that the Democratic primary might end up rather tame after all. Biden led the polls there for months in the summer and again in the final weeks, trotted out key endorsements—Reps. Abby Finkenauer and Cindy Axne, Tom and Christie Vilsack—and threw the full weight of his resources into the state. Perhaps Biden would win Iowa, and then he would win New Hampshire, and then he would win Nevada, and of course he would win South Carolina, and then it would soon be over. He’d break the back of Sanders campaign early on, shed the pesky Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren, and render unnecessary the whole notion of Michael Bloomberg’s centrist airlift. This was a season of optimism, and it’s never more in abundance than when professional Democrats are trying to paper over the weaknesses of a flawed candidate.

Alas.

Joe Biden: the cardboard candidate.

M. Scott Brauer for Mother Jones

Biden didn’t just lose; he lost in a way that gave the lie to the most insistent argument he’d offered for his candidacy—electability. Whatever that word meant, exactly, it was the subject of ads and stump speeches and debate monologues. It was an effective argument, up until the moment it wasn’t. Campaigns are still powered by people, and in Iowa, Biden’s lack of an organization was exposed. The campaign had to scramble to bring volunteers in from out of state to manage its caucuses and knock on doors. The Washington Post reported that some of them simply didn’t show up. On caucus night, Biden failed to hit the viability threshold in precinct after precinct across the state.

Biden switched gears a bit in New Hampshire. He started to emphasize what he would do in office a bit more, and he took some shots at Buttigieg (whom he had largely ignored) and Sanders. He called the Iowa results a “gut punch” and promised supporters they’d get a feistier Biden this time around. Nobody messes with Joe! Still, it was tough going. He went home midweek to sleep in his own bed, and his crowds were smaller when he came back. (Amy Klobuchar’s just kept growing.) At Saturday’s McIntyre–Shaheen 100 Club Dinner, a party fundraising cattle call that filled an arena in downtown Manchester, Biden supporters were almost invisible, cloistered in a corner and struggling to start the simplest of cheers.

As the campaign spiraled this week, Biden ditched his election-night party in Nashua for an early trip to South Carolina. Advisers played up the whiteness of Iowa and New Hampshire in explaining away their defeat. But that was never supposed to be his problem. Biden had previously said he could win both of those states, and he has built his political brand—a no-malarkey Irish-Catholic kid from Scranton—around winning back older and working-class white voters in swing states. His performance raised the question: how exactly?

Pete Buttigieg finished a close second in the New Hampshire primary.

M. Scott Brauer for Mother Jones

Elizabeth Warren, Sanders’ main rival for the liberal vote, stumbled to a fourth-place finish.

M. Scott Brauer for Mother Jones

Skepticism about Biden’s ability to take on Trump—his selling point for months—haunted him in New Hampshire. I heard it and over and over as I spoke with undecided (or recently decided) voters in line to hear Buttigieg. As one voter told me before a town hall in Lebanon: “At one point I thought he was the most likely guy to get elected, but now I don’t know.”

Now the campaign enters a much larger and far stranger map. On Saturday, while the rest of the field braved the icy roads of New Hampshire, Bloomberg lurked just out of the picture. As polls showed him gaining in the critical Super Tuesday states of California and Florida, and drawing close to even nationally with Biden among African-American voters, his campaign held a frenzy of organizing events in Massachusetts, which votes on March 3. That’s the strangest thing about the Democratic primary so far: the idea, proposed by Bloomberg, that none of it actually matters.

The paths by which Sanders and Bloomberg could win the nomination have always depended on the scenario that’s played out so far. Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar will have their say, of course, and Biden is drawing a line in the sand down the road. But right now it’s a collision course between two people who have never held elected office as a Democrat—a lifelong independent who has shattered small-dollar fundraising records and trashes billionaires, and a Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat who has shattered spending records simply by being a billionaire. If it holds, it would be the starkest contrast the same party has offered since the civil rights re-alignment.

  In Waterloo, Iowa, I met a field organizer for a rural county whose previous job had been loading tractor trailers at a Target distribution center. Now he was at a union shop—the first presidential campaign to have unionized. Working for Sanders, he said, was the only job he’d ever had where he could use his health insurance.

You can get lost in the numbers and the war-gaming, the endless hypotheticals spiraling off an extremely small set of data points (thanks again for that, Iowa). Being a frontrunner isn’t always what it’s cracked up to—just ask Joe Biden. But it’s worth taking a step back to remember that this is Bernie Freaking Sanders we’re talking about.

In 1969, a few years before Sanders stood up at a local meeting of the Liberty Union Party in Plainfield, Vermont, his 2-year-old son Levi in his arms, and volunteered to run for office, he wrote an essay for a short-lived alternative newspaper called the Vermont Freeman. Sanders was trying to make a go of it as a freelance writer at the time, and he wasn’t very good at it. His writings in the Freeman, in which he criticized compulsory public education and suggested that some women fantasize about rape, have been a headache for him as he’s risen in national politics. He was in a weird place, personally and professionally, and the focus of his politics has, truly for everyone’s good, moved from the psychoanalytic to the structural. But there was a thread in his writing back then that sounds familiar today. He was painting a picture of change.

M. Scott Brauer for Mother Jones M. Scott Brauer for Mother Jones

“The Revolution is coming and it is a very beautiful revolution,” he wrote.

“The revolution comes when young people throughout the world take control of their own lives and when people everywhere begin to look each other in the eyes and say hello, without fear. This is the revolution, this is the strength, and with this behind us no politician or general will ever stop us. We shall win!”

A lot has changed in four years, to say nothing of 51, but this vision hasn’t. In New Hampshire, as in Iowa, his ads feature a line from his speech in New York City last October, his first rally since suffering a heart attack—what his supporters call the #BerniesBack speech. “Take a look around you,” he said, “and find someone you don’t know,” and then ask yourself: “Are you willing to fight for that person as much as you’re willing to fight for yourself?”

On stage at the rally in Durham, it was an idea invoked by the closest thing he has to proof of concept, Ocasio-Cortez, whose rapid ascent reflects the growth and reinvention of the movement over the past four years, from a coalition doomed by its demographics (or at least by perceptions of its demographics) to the No. 1 choice of non-white Democrats, according to a Monmouth University poll. While thousands watched in Durham, far more tuned into the livestream of the event, which the campaign had turned into a telethon of sorts, posting the names of contributors as their dollars rolled in—$11 from Juliette P., $12 from Adam C., $3 from Tse P.

People listen as Bernie Sanders speaks at Saturday’s “Our Rights, Our Courts” forum in Concord, New Hampshire.

M. Scott Brauer for Mother Jones

The show wrapped, an hour later, with an appropriate dose of chaos. The Strokes’ frontman, Julian Casablancas, was upset that the second half of their show had played out with the overhead lights of the arena turned on. This, he told the crowd, was the police’s fault, and so as the fundraising ticker crept closer to the target, the band broke into the familiar chords of “New York City Cops.” “Holy crap they’re doing it,” someone wrote in the live chat.

One last crowdsurfer rode the wave and rolled onto the stage, dropping in front of Casablancas, and when a security guard stepped in to haul the man off, Casablancas threw up his hands.

“Come up on the stage, y’all!”

The front row obliged—the barriers holding them back had been removed in an unsuccessful bid to stop the crowdsurfing—and for the final minutes, the crowd and the band were as one, the people had taken control, the establishment had been overthrown. As they approached the final chorus there was a cop at Casablancas’ side, gesturing, trying to get his attention, but the band just kept playing, until the last chord hit and he turned and walked off. This was the revolution, and for the moment, at least, no one could stop it.

Trump Congratulates Barr After Intervention in Stone Sentencing

President Donald Trump praised Attorney General William Barr on Wednesday for intervening to reduce Roger Stone’s sentencing recommendation, a move that came after Trump complained on Twitter that the initial recommendation, put forward by the Justice Department’s own career prosecutors, had been too severe against his longtime political adviser.

Four prosecutors who had worked on the Stone case have since withdrawn.

Congratulations to Attorney General Bill Barr for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought. Evidence now clearly shows that the Mueller Scam was improperly brought & tainted. Even Bob Mueller lied to Congress!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 12, 2020

It was the latest in an extraordinary series of fast-moving developments surrounding Stone’s sentencing this week for obstructing a congressional investigation. The burgeoning scandal has since renewed questions over Barr’s apparent willingness to use the Justice Department to bend to Trump’s various political demands, as new reports show that Barr has seized control over a number of legal matters significant to the president.

On Monday, career prosecutors at the department released a filing memo recommending a sentence of up to nine years for Stone’s crimes that included making false statements to Congress, obstruction of justice, and witness tampering. Hours after the memo’s release, Trump tweeted his displeasure. “This is a horrible and very unfair situation,” he wrote. “The real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them. Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!”

Sixteen hours later, the Justice Department released a new filing calling its previous recommendation “excessive,” and four prosecutors who had worked on the case abruptly withdrew.

But Trump didn’t stop there. Amid the shock over Barr’s intervention, the president on Tuesday attacked the federal judge who had presided over his former campaign manager Paul Manafort’s case before moving on later in the night to accuse the four prosecutors of political bias.

Who are the four prosecutors (Mueller people?) who cut and ran after being exposed for recommending a ridiculous 9 year prison sentence to a man that got caught up in an investigation that was illegal, the Mueller Scam, and shouldn’t ever even have started? 13 Angry Democrats?

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 12, 2020

Do you realize intimidating judges is the behavior of failed-state fascists? Just asking! https://t.co/kcEzirsGUF

— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) February 12, 2020

The impeachment sequel is really coming together quickly. https://t.co/O9m9SIEG0u

— Molly Jong-Fast (@MollyJongFast) February 12, 2020

Democrats are now demanding an investigation into the Justice Department. 

Opponents Second-Guessed This All-Muslim Girls Basketball Team. Bad Move.

Welcome to Recharge, a weekly newsletter full of stories that will energize your inner hellraiser. See more editions and sign up here.

Their opponents are in gym shorts and jerseys on the court. The Salam Stars, in long-sleeve shirts, sweatpants, and hijabs, huddle and stretch before taking their positions. “Sometimes we see [our opponents] laughing” at us, says Jumana Badwan, captain of the Stars, the girls basketball team at an Islamic academy in Milwaukee. “Sometimes we see them whispering to each other [about us].”

The Stars have found ways to confront and see through the looks of suspicion and surprise from opponents: Last year the team finished 14–4. This year their goal is simply to play their hardest.

Badwan, a senior, tells Great Big Story that the team gains strength and solidarity from a disciplined coach, Kassidi Macak, who grew up five minutes from the school but had no connection with the Muslim community whose players she is training.

The history of exclusion and inclusion in basketball and sports broadly is never far from the mind of Macak, who doesn’t let up on her players. She challenges them on and off the court to play for more than points: The students team up to break boundaries in basketball, but also dispel myths and challenge assumptions about what Muslim girls and women—in hijabs or not—are setting out to tackle.

“We’re a small family, and we take on any task together,” Macak says. “We support each other.”

Here are more Recharge stories to get you through the week:

Shutting down poison. Scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency wanted to ban a neurotoxic pesticide suspected of causing lower birth weights, lower IQ, and attention deficit disorder. Higher-ups at the EPA, however, were fine with chlorpyrifos, although California, Hawaii, and New York banned it. Now, the pesticide’s biggest US supplier, Corteva, has decided it will stop making it. Corteva’s decision to halt pesticide sales came on the same day that California’s ban on the chemical took effect. “Due to this reduced demand,” the company announced, “Corteva has made the strategic business decision to phase out our production of chlorpyrifos in 2020.” Jennifer Sass, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, called the move “a victory for our kids, farmworkers, and rural communities nationwide.” (Mother Jones)

Stopping Russian hackers. Estonia, right on Russia’s border, could teach the United States a thing or two about stopping Kremlin disinformation. Russia launched cyberattacks on its neighbor in 2007, but Estonians fought back. Now there’s a growing nationwide volunteer organization devoted to stopping Vladimir Putin’s campaigns of disinformation and deception—and it would be willing to help the United States, if Americans wanted. “We decided we just have to become much more resilient, and make sure, in case something similar happens again, we will be ready,” says Heli Tiirmaa-Klaar, Estonia’s ambassador at large for cyberdiplomacy. (Christian Science Monitor)

Equal time. Finland has decided: seven months of paid family leave for each parent. The decision was made by 34-year-old Prime Minister Sanna Marin and her four other governing coalition parties, all led by women. A single parent will have access to the seven-month allowance for both parents. The decision was lauded inside and outside the country. That’s “what happens when women lead politics,” NPR’s Diaa Hadid tweeted. The goal is to promote gender equality and raise the birth rate. Last year, Finland had the fewest babies born since 1868, when a famine struck. (NPR)

Recharge salutes: The Kansas City Chiefs’ Derrick Nnadi, who made good on his promise to pay for 100 dog adoptions if his team won the Super Bowl; and 91-year-old scientist Dr. Ananda Prasad, who challenged conventional wisdom to show that zinc could cut the duration of the common cold.

I’ll leave you with a big welcome back to NASA’s Christina H. Koch, who set a women’s astronaut record of 328 consecutive days in orbit. Have a great week ahead!

Welcome home, @Astro_Christina!

This morning, family, friends and coworkers were reunited with the astronaut, who landed in Kazakhstan on February 6 after a record-breaking 328-day mission to the @Space_Station. #CongratsChristina! pic.twitter.com/z5PceKIHI7

— Johnson Space Center (@NASA_Johnson) February 7, 2020

Trump’s Biggest Vulnerability Is His Climate Change Denial

A little more than 10 years ago, Donald Trump and his children signed a letter that ran as a full-page ad in the New York Times. In it, they urged global leaders to reach an ambitious climate change deal at the annual United Nations conference.

The position didn’t hold. Months later, Trump said he thought Al Gore should be stripped of his Nobel Prize because of an unusually cold winter. Since then, Trump has tried on many different excuses for ignoring climate change, from calling it an outright hoax on Twitter to claiming in an Axios interview that it’s part of a natural cycle that will “go back like this,” he said, making an ocean-wave gesture with his hand. 

More than half of respondents gave Trump a D or F on climate, while just 21 percent gave him an A or B.

But most Americans don’t agree with that assessment. For the last year, there’s been a clear trend in polls finding that climate change is Trump’s most unpopular position, outranking health care, immigration and foreign policy as the issue he gets the worst marks on from registered voters.

A Politico/Morning Consult poll released in late January—smack in the middle of the impeachment trial—asked 2,000 voters about Trump’s performance on a number of issues ranging from jobs, economy, and terrorism to trade, climate, immigration, foreign relations, health care, and draining the swamp. They were the least impressed with climate: More than half—54 percent—gave Trump a D or F, while just 21 percent gave him an A or B.

Then there was an August survey from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs. The research group found that 64 percent of the 1,058 people included disapproved of his record on climate, while 32 percent approved—”the lowest among six issue areas that the poll asked about, including immigration (38%) and health care (37%),” the AP reported. And in July a poll by the Washington Post-ABC News poll found Trump’s lowest rating was on climate: Just 29 percent approving, with 62 percent disapproving, the widest spread in the poll. 

The problem with this kind of polling is that the issue is widely polarized, so while climate change is a top-tier issue for Democratic primary voters, it ranks far lower in importance for Republicans. In swing states, it’s unclear whether climate will turn out voters. 

In Florida, it just might. In October, Florida Atlantic University polled 1,045 Floridians on whether they believed climate change was real and primarily caused by human activities. Among Republicans, 44 percent agreed. That figure wasn’t as as high as independents and Democrats who agreed—59 and 70 percent respectively—but still a significant percentage for a party led by outspoken deniers.

Another poll in North Carolina in 2018 showed a spike in Republican voters’ concern about climate change following back-to-back direct hits hurricanes. The American Conservation Coalition, a group representing younger conservatives, has done its own polling of 1,000 voters nationwide under age 35—77 percent of whom said climate change was important to them and that they want to see more solutions from their party. 

It’s getting harder for Trump to ignore the loudening chorus of conservative voices calling for climate action—and he and his advisers have taken notice, however halfheartedly. He held an event at the White House this summer touting his love for clean air and water, despite the revolving door of energy lobbyists rolling back environmental regulation and enforcement. Now, on the heels of impeachment, Trump has pledged US support of an initiative to plant 1 trillion trees globally. 

His critics say it’s an empty gesture, noting his 95 and counting environmental rollbacks and opening of lands like Alaska’s Tongass National Forest and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. “The same man who is proposing to cut down the Tongass National Forest wants to plant a trillion trees,” said Center for American Progress Senior Policy Analyst Ryan Richards. “He can’t have it both ways.”

This Is the Phase of the Campaign Elizabeth Warren Has Been Preparing For

Elizabeth Warren’s campaign knew things weren’t looking good by mid-afternoon on Tuesday, several hours before the final ballots would be cast in New Hampshire. Campaign manager Roger Lau tempered expectations in a memo to supporters that looked ahead to Nevada and South Carolina—“two of the most diverse contests in the country”—and the Super Tuesday states, suggesting that Warren could still win the nomination with a slow, steady drip of support. “The road to the Democratic nomination is not paved with statewide winner-take-all victories,” Lau wrote. “This is a district-by-district contest for pledged delegates awarded proportionally.”

The message was one that Warren, her campaign, and its allies had recently been pushing: Slow and steady wins the race. In an interview with Time last week, Warren set aside the “pollercoaster” and argued a combination of that expansive organizing and her treasure trove of plans would be the keys to persuading voters only Warren could right the rigged system that was responsible for the everyday hardships they face.

Our reporters fanned out to victory parties for the top three Democratic finishers for this edition of the Mother Jones Podcast, “How Bernie Sanders Won New Hampshire.” Listen:

To be clear, the idea, at least at that point, was to rely on this famous organizing infrastructure to clinch the first-in-the-nation primary (not to mention to finish more prominently in the first-in-the-nation caucus). Throughout the past week, New Hampshire Democrats told me how much time and money the Warren campaign had spent on organizing not only its own campaign, but also the campaigns of state and local  officials who won their offices over the course of Warren’s long candidacy. Crystal Paradis, who won her seat on the Somersworth City Council last fall, told me Warren’s team showed up to her canvasses with a “vanload” of volunteers, compared to the one or two door-knockers other candidates sent her way. Paradis endorsed Warren last week, one of nearly 700 New Hampshire elected officials, activists, and community leaders to do so; the Warren campaign bragged about the “widest and deepest coalition” any candidate had built in the state.

“If I had to vote just based on the campaign built, designed, and organized, Warren’s team has been there—they’ve been kind, they’ve been generous,” Emmett Soldati, the chair of the Somersworth Democrats, told me.

Still, in the end, it wasn’t enough. And perhaps it was never going to be. New Hampshire, after all, is a swing state, where voters have elected two Democrats to the Senate but a Trump-loving Republican to the governor’s mansion. The Granite State’s largest voting bloc is comprised of independents who can choose which party’s primary to participate in, a dynamic that creates an opening for moderate candidates like Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg, who both finished above Warren. And while Warren is from neighboring Massachusetts, Bernie Sanders, the winner of the New Hampshire primary, is from neighboring Vermont. His organizing machine and populist appeal were evidently the right mix to make him victorious—a win five years in the making.

For all the ways Warren’s particular brand of progressivism and field operation failed her in New Hampshire, the biggest test of her overall strategy is the slate of contests before her. As I’ve previously reported, Warren designed her many, many plans—from housing to banking to student debt—with, first and foremost, a racial justice lens. That lens, though crucial in drawing white progressives to her campaign, arguably wasn’t the most natural message for Iowa and New Hampshire; after all, these states are, respectively, 90 percent and 93 percent white. The rubber meets the road for Warren now that Nevada and South Carolina are up next—states where Warren’s organizers have been on the ground for almost her whole year-plus long candidacy.

“There’s nobody who can weave together economic justice and racial justice like she can,” says Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Committee, which backs Warren.

As she moves forward, Warren will need to make up ground with black voters, and she certainly won’t be alone in trying to sustain her campaign with appeals to a more diverse electorate. A flagging Joe Biden is relying on voters of color to keep his candidacy alive—and the most recent polls suggest that support is still strong (at least it was before New Hampshire). And Sanders, Warren’s chief progressive rival, has also leaned into a racial justice agenda, with rhetoric that’s far more explicit than what he said during his 2016 run. He, too, has a solid operation going in the Palmetto State and strong support among nonwhite voters.

When I saw Warren’s campaign in South Carolina in November, she’d made headway with white progressives whose “great awokening” has expanded their racial consciousnesses in the Trump era. Now, we’ll see if she can convert those voters of color, too.

Major Labor Strikes Surged in 2019

Last May, for the second year in a row, thousands of North Carolina public school teachers marched to the state Capitol in red t-shirts to demand better funding for public schools and Medicaid. In part because of the strike, Governor Roy Cooper has refused to sign a budget that doesn’t include robust pay raises for educators.

North Carolina’s teachers weren’t the only ones who walked out on the job en masse last year. Data released this week from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that 2019 had a higher number of “major work stoppages,” meaning strikes and lockouts, involving 1,000 or more workers than any year since 2001. The Economic Policy Institute notes that 2019 also saw the most strikes involving 20,000 or more workers than any year since 1993, when BLS first started keeping track.

The General Motors strike in September and October was the largest strike of the year in terms of work days lost; the 29-day strike, involving 46,000 workers, resulted in a cumulative loss of more than a million days of labor and a $600 million loss for GM.

But the rise in strikes has overwhelmingly been dominated by the education sector. More than half of all workers on strike last year were teachers, BLS data shows. The three largest strikes of the decade were held by teachers in North Carolina (twice, in 2018 and 2019) and in Arizona. While some teachers went on strike for better pay, many focused on legislative cuts to education and expansion of charter schools.

In a 2018 Mother Jones story,  Eddie Rios and Annie Ma analyzed data to show the decline of public school funding since the economic crash. “Education spending fell sharply following the recession,” they wrote. “In 2016, 25 states provided less funding per pupil for public schools than they did before the 2008 recession.”

As I wrote in December, the 2010s saw a surge of labor strike activity led largely by teachers unions:

The Chicago strike, which won teachers a 16 percent raise over four years and reduced emphasis on test scores in their evaluations, showed teachers around the country what was possible. By the end of the decade, the tactics used in Chicago had surged nationwide. The West Virginia teachers’ strike of February-March 2018 was soon followed by statewide strikes in ArizonaOklahomaKentuckyColorado and North Carolina—and by big wins. West Virginia teachers won a five percent pay raise and a commission to deal with insurance costs. In 2019, Los Angeles teachers won more counselors, nurses and librarians for their students. In Kentucky, Gov. Matt Bevin’s battles with the teachers’ union may have cost him reelection.

The end-of-decade rise in strikes comes even as the unemployment rate remains below 4 percent. In a report released yesterday, researchers at the Economic Policy Institute suggest that this means workers feel confident that if they lose their job for striking, they can find another. It also suggests workers are unsatisfied with their pay. “Working people are not seeing the robust wage growth that one might expect with such a low unemployment rate,” the researchers stated, “and inequality continues to grow.”

Joe Biden Had a Bad Night in New Hampshire. His Supporters There Hope Their State Doesn’t Matter.

It’s never a good sign when you’re addressing your New Hampshire supporters on primary night from South Carolina. Yet this was the position Joe Biden found himself in on Tuesday evening as his campaign sought to downplay his dismal showing in the Granite State, where he was on pace to finish 5th with a little over 8 percent of the vote. Once it had become clear that the outcome in New Hampshire would be nothing to celebrate, he and his wife Jill bailed on the campaign’s primary watch party at the Radisson Hotel in Nashua and jetted to Columbia to kick-off his South Carolina campaign.

Beaming into the Radisson’s half-full ballroom via video, Biden thanked his backers and pledged to return to New Hampshire as the Democratic nominee. He spoke for all of three minutes before vanishing from the screens positioned on either side of the stage to get back to the pressing task of salvaging his troubled campaign.

“I don’t blame him. He needs to be heading to Nevada.”

“I don’t blame him,” Biden bundler and DNC member William Owen said of the former vice president’s decision not to stick around New Hampshire. “He needs to be heading to Nevada.” Biden is headed there on Friday to campaign ahead of next week’s caucus. “Nevada’s the critical state. He has to score in Nevada.”

Owen added that he wasn’t surprised by Biden’s showing in the first-in-the-nation primary. “I kind of expected it. New Hampshire is unique. It’s basically an all white state. It’s dominated by the neighboring candidates,” he said, referring to Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Sanders won the New Hampshire primary, with former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg trailing narrowly behind him. 

Former New Hampshire governor John Lynch, a top Biden surrogate, echoed Owen’s sentiments: “It’s always hard running against elected officials from neighboring states.” He said he expected Biden to perform well in South Carolina. “The whole primary process, it’s a marathon, it’s not a sprint,” Lynch added, in what seems to have quickly become the mantra of the campaign. Addressing the Radisson crowd, Valerie Biden Owens, Biden’s sister, similarly assured supporters that “right now we’re at the very beginning of a long marathon.”

But Biden now has a sizable gap to close if he hopes to regain the frontrunner status he started the campaign with. And his campaign seems destined to confront ongoing questions about whether he can go the distance against President Trump.

Our reporters fanned out to victory parties for the top three Democratic finishers for this edition of the Mother Jones Podcast, “How Bernie Sanders Won New Hampshire.” Listen:

At campaign events in New Hampshire over the past week, numerous voters said they liked and admired the former vice president, but they seemed unsure about—or outright opposed to—betting on him in a high-stakes election they view as a referendum on the fate of the country. “I respect him, he’s a great American,” said Portsmouth neurosurgeon Henry Pallatroni, who was attending a Pete Buttigieg rally in Londonderry on Sunday. But he went on: “I wouldn’t vote for him. I think he’s done. I don’t think he’s up for the job.”

Heather Webster, a New Hampshire voter who was attending an Amy Klobuchar rally in Manchester on Sunday, said she initially favored Biden in the race but had begun to reconsider. “I feel like Biden doesn’t have as much an ability to beat Trump,” she said. “I was leaning towards him until Friday—I just didn’t feel good about his debate style.” 

“Right now we’re at the very beginning of a long marathon.”

Biden did little to allay those concerns over the weekend. At the McIntyre-Shaheen dinner on Saturday, where thousands of local Democrats gathered to hear speeches from the candidates, Biden gave rambling and, at times, halting remarks filled with anecdotes that never seemed to land. The following day, he engaged in a bizarre back-and-forth at a campaign event in Hampton that culminated with him jokingly calling an audience-member a “lying, dog-faced pony soldier.” (Biden has said this was a line from a John Wayne movie, but even then…)

Still, vintage Biden did show up occasionally. Hours after his “pony soldier” comments went viral, he hosted an at-times emotional Q&A in Hudson, displaying his unique ability to connect with voters on a personal level. He referred to elderly audience members as “mom” and “dad,” and on two occasions offered to speak privately to attendees who asked questions following the event. (“Maybe you and I can talk afterwards.”) When one of his handlers called out “last question,” Biden spoke up: “No, we’ll take a few more.” 

This was also the Biden who showed up to a rally in Somersworth last week, where some supporters expressed relief over seeing a feisty, fired-up Biden take shots at Sanders and, for the first time, Buttigieg. And just yesterday, he moved a packed community center in Gilford, when he spoke openly about his struggles with stuttering and welcomed a 12-year-old boy with similar difficulties to share the lectern with him, kissing the boy on the head with signature Biden affection.

These are the encounters that enrapture Biden crowds. But in the end these appearances failed to squelch doubts about whether he was the right candidate to take on Trump—the paramount concern of many voters agonizing over the issue of electability. 

“I think Joe Biden on his worst day is better than Donald Trump could ever hope to be,” said Jim McGuire, a 72-year-old retired attorney from Nuangola, Pennsylvania, who had traveled to New Hampshire to assist with Biden’s get-out-the-vote effort and attended the candidate’s primary night party. 

“I need to see more fire in the belly. I’d like to see more of that passion.”

But he acknowledged he would like to see more energy out of Biden: “I need to see more fire in the belly. I’d like to see more of that passion.”

Biden’s supporters are hopeful that he will reclaim his momentum in the upcoming contests. “I think Joe will be fine if he comes in first or second in Nevada and rights the ship in South Carolina,” Owen said.

Lynch, referring to Buttigieg’s second place finish in New Hampshire, said voters in the state “tend to gravitate toward someone new. We’re ‘live free or die.’ We’re independent. We’re contrarian.”

He added, “New Hampshire always matters. But it’s just the start of the process. Not the end.”

Additional reporting by Russ Choma. 

The Democratic Primary Is About to Get Wild After New Hampshire

Sorry, New Hampshire. A conventional rule of American politics is that the Granite State imposes order on the presidential campaign, with one of the top two finishers in its first-in-the-nation primary always going on to snag the nomination. But not this time. At least not in terms of smoothing out the bumpy process.

Bernie Sanders, the US senator and democratic socialist from next-door Vermont, achieved an impressive victory, placing first with, as of current vote totals, 26 percent. And former small-town mayor Pete Buttigieg, the first openly gay candidate to mount a major presidential bid, scored an impressive second, collecting 24 percent. The surprise was Amy Klobuchar’s late surge that landed her in third, 4 points behind Buttigieg. Both Elizabeth Warren (9 percent) and Joe Biden (8 percent) were smacked with worse-than-expected results.

Though the New Hampshire numbers will boost the campaigns of the top three, this primary has not diminished the chaos of the race. Instead, it has demonstrated the Democratic Party, as it seeks to find a champion who can defeat Donald Trump, remains intensely fractured. 

Our reporters fanned out to victory parties for the top three Democratic finishers for this edition of the Mother Jones Podcast, “How Bernie Sanders Won New Hampshire.” Listen:

That conclusion is not a dig at Sanders. It is statement of math. Look at the past winners of competitive New Hampshire primaries. Last time, Sanders won with 60 percent of the vote (to Hillary Clinton’s 40 percent). Eight years before that, Clinton beat Barack Obama 39 to 36 percent. In 2004, John Kerry took 38 percent to Howard Dean’s 26 percent in a five-way contest. Al Gore in 2000 triumphed with 50 percent to Bill Bradley’s 46 percent. Typically, the New Hampshire winner crosses the finish line with a vote count between a third and three-fifths of the electorate. This year, Sanders emerged victorious with a quarter.

Sanders is coming out of New Hampshire with a smaller slice of the vote than any other Democratic winner in the primary’s history. (Jimmy Carter placed first with 29 percent in 1976). That means a large majority of the Dems and independents who voted in this contest do not prefer to see Sanders become the party’s standard bearer. In previous cycles, the victories were more decisive, with the successful candidates having won over a much larger chunk of the voters (in this highly non-representational state).

Of course, the winner’s vote take was lower this year partly because there were more credible candidates. But in 1992, with five top-tier candidates in the contest, Paul Tsongas, the senator from next-door Massachusetts prevailed with 33 percent. (Bill Clinton placed second with 25 percent.) And in 1988, Michael Dukakis pocketed 35 percent, with none of his five rivals gathering more than 20 percent. So even in full-field competitions of the past, the victor had a stronger showing than Sanders’ 2020 take.

The bottom line: There was a winner, but Sanders does not at this point hold a dominant position within the Democratic cosmos. With no single candidate staking a claim on more than about one-fourth of the vote, there is plenty of incentive for other candidates to stay in the hunt. This may be especially true since the two leaders at the moment each trigger questions among some voters about their electability. Sanders would be the first Jewish and socialist presidential nominee of a major party, and Buttigieg is a gay nominee with modest political experience.

In her concession speech, Warren, looking for a path forward, warned that the Democratic primary could descend into bitterness among “factions” in the party, and asserted that despite her dramatic loss in the backyard of her home-state Massachusetts her campaign was “best positioned to unite our party.” In other words, she’s not going anywhere. Biden, who fled New Hampshire before the votes were even counted, presumably is going to try to hang in there through the upcoming Nevada caucuses and the South Carolina primary. And Klobuchar has a gust of wind in her sails. (New Hampshire did break the backs of Andrew Yang and Michael Bennet, who each fared poorly and announced the suspension of their campaigns.)

A sharp battle of factions—Warren might be correct about that. This race could become a bloody crawl to Super Tuesday on March 3, when Michael Bloomberg and his hundreds of millions of dollars appear on the ballots—and then perhaps a different bloody crawl toward the convention in Milwaukee this summer. 

The New Hampshire and Iowa results—and national polls—suggest that Sanders has a solid core of support of about 25 percent. (Buttigieg’s die-hard bloc is harder to assess at this point.) And if four or so other major contenders stick around, this one-in-four slice could propel Sanders to place first in many of the primaries and caucuses to come. But that’s not necessarily enough for Sanders to take a commanding lead in delegates. In the GOP, the first-place finisher in many primaries snag all the delegates. (That rule benefitted Trump in 2016.) In the Democratic contests, all states award delegates on a proportional basis. That would make it tough for a candidate who wins primaries with smaller percentages to acquire a majority of delegates. (Sanders and Buttigieg are projected to earn the same number of delegates out of New Hampshire.) 

After New Hampshire, Sanders and his devotees can declare that—and celebrate that—he’s the leader.  But can Sanders, with his call for a political revolution, coax other Democratic voters into his camp? For years, Democratic strategists have contended that Sanders has a high floor but a low ceiling. He rattles centrist, moderate, and corporate Democrats. And it was common to hear non-Sanders voters in New Hampshire repeat the fear that Sanders’ embrace of the “democratic socialist” label will doom him and the party, should he become the nominee. 

Those non-Sanders voters have been divvied up mainly between Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Warren, and the free-falling Joe Biden. How many of them can Sanders reach? His advisers maintain he will expand beyond his robust base by making progress with African American and Latino voters, who will play big roles in the next face-offs in Nevada and South Carolina. But Biden is counting on black voters to keep his political career alive, and Warren has also aimed organizing efforts at voters of color.

Then there’s Bloomberg. He is the X-factor of the Democratic contest and engaging in an intriguing political science experiment. Can a billionaire dump all that money into a race and buy a seat at the table? Will his presence further divide the non-Sanders voting bloc and actually help Sanders preserve a plurality? Will the former Republican mayor of New York City become the first choice of Dems who crave an alternative to Sanders? In that event, the Democratic nomination contest could turn into a vicious battle between the anti-billionaire socialist and an actual billionaire. 

There’s a lot of supposin’ going on in the immediate aftermath of New Hampshire. This election did not afford the Democrats a major sorting out, and they may now be slouching toward a race in which the front-runner consistently comes in first with only 25 to 30 percent of the vote. What will happens if the number-one delegate-grabber only grabs a third or so of the delegates? There will be plenty of time between now and the convention in the summer to cook up and ponder all sorts of possible scenarios.

As voters headed toward the polls in New Hampshire, political reporters, who had spent many hours with the state’s undecided voters, repeatedly proclaimed the race was volatile. It was. (See Klobuchar’s rise and Biden’s collapse.) The opening primary crowned a front runner, but it did little to remove the volatility from the contest. Here comes a wild ride.

Bernie Sanders Wins the New Hampshire Primary

Sen. Bernie Sanders has won Tuesday’s New Hampshire Democratic primary, according to multiple news outlets.

Tuesday marks Sanders’ second primary win in New Hampshire, which borders his home state of Vermont. Sanders defeated former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the state’s 2016 primary with more than 60 percent of the vote.

Sanders narrowly lost to Pete Buttigieg in last week’s Iowa caucus. Sanders won the most individual votes in the caucus, but lost to Buttigieg by two state delegate equivalents. Following a week of intense competition between the two candidates, Buttigieg came in second and a rising Amy Klobuchar finished a close third.

Former vice president Joe Biden came in fifth, as the results stand now, a markedly poor result for a candidate who prides himself on name recognition. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), previously considered a front-runner in the race, placed fourth. Because neither candidate looks on track to hit 15 percent in the state, neither Warren nor Biden will gain any delegates out of New Hampshire, per CNN.

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang dropped out of the race Tuesday night, as did Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet.

"This victory here is the beginning of the end for Donald Trump." – @BernieSanders pic.twitter.com/PT6vRE4EQO

— Mother Jones (@MotherJones) February 12, 2020

Our reporters fanned out to victory parties for the top three Democratic finishers for this edition of the Mother Jones Podcast, “How Bernie Sanders Won New Hampshire.” Listen:

The Big Winner in New Hampshire Is . . . Amy Klobuchar?

As we all know, the key to winning the media race is to do “better than expected.” By that measure, Amy Klobuchar blew away the competition in New Hampshire tonight. She went from 9 percent in the weekend polls to 12 percent in the final polls to 20 percent in the actual voting. That’s a helluva surge.

Still, Sanders and Buttigieg remain the frontrunners, and it’s not clear how much support Klobuchar has in the upcoming contests in Nevada in South Carolina. Or, rather, it is clear, and the answer right at this moment is “not much.” But her surprise finish in New Hampshire could change that overnight. It could also change her fundraising just in time for Super Tuesday in three weeks. I’ll let you know if I start seeing Amy For America ads here in California.

It looks to me like Joe Biden is dead in the water. The worst possible thing for an electability candidate is to lose, and Biden has now lost twice in spectacular fashion. Will his “firewall” of South Carolina stick with him now that he doesn’t seem so electable after all? I doubt it.

There are still some votes to count in New Hampshire, but probably not enough to change things much. It looks like this is how the evening will end.

As the Democrats Await Results From New Hampshire, Trump Has Taken to Twitter

As results from the New Hampshire Democratic primary rolled in Tuesday night, President Donald Trump—who, despite doing very bad things earlier in the day, strode to an easy victory in the state’s Republican Primary—took to Twitter with a string of unhinged remarks about Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, John Podesta, and Elizabeth Warren.

Is this the Judge that put Paul Manafort in SOLITARY CONFINEMENT, something that not even mobster Al Capone had to endure? How did she treat Crooked Hillary Clinton? Just asking! https://t.co/Fe7XkepJNN

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 12, 2020

…And a swamp creature with “pull” was just sentenced to two months in jail for a similar thing that they want Stone to serve 9 years for. A phony Mueller Witch Hunt disgrace. Caught! https://t.co/6baxv3Lvuk

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 12, 2020

Whatever happened to Hillary campaign manager Podesta’s BROTHER? Wasn’t he caught, forced to leave his firm, with BIG BAD things to happen? Why did nothing ever happen to him, only to the “other” side?

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 12, 2020

Elizabeth Warren, sometimes referred to as Pocahontas, is having a really bad night. I think she is sending signals that she wants out. Calling for unity is her way of getting there, going home, and having a “nice cold beer” with her husband!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 12, 2020

Oy.

Andrew Yang Suspends His Campaign

Andrew Yang ended his presidential campaign on Tuesday night as polls closed in New Hampshire, capping off a run that transformed a mostly-unknown entrepreneur into a digital celebrity. Though Yang will not be the Democratic nominee, his campaign achieved a success and dedicated following that multiple US senators, governors, and House representatives were unable to muster. Yang proved an engaging campaigner who clearly enjoyed running for president, with a verve his crowds and competition could feel as well. His concise, single-issue message pushing universal basic income broke through the political noise as he warned about the threat he saw in technological automation and called for cash payments to combat a coming, dystopian wave of unemployment.

Yang’s greatest achievement was putting the idea of basic income on the national radar.

From the outside, Yang’s unlikely success—he continued to qualify for debates into February and raised tens of millions of dollars as higher profile candidates faltered—looked like a fluke. Yang, who mounted the most successful presidential primary campaign of any Asian American in history, showed he could command large crowds, who donned gear bearing his MATH slogan, short for “Make America Think Harder.” Online, his supporters generated countless memes, helping build an army of true believers.

Yang’s strong showing may be more a glimpse of the future than a one-time accident. Yang, steeped in the culture of Silicon Valley, tapped into a pool of online support that future candidates would be remiss not to seek. At 43, Yang campaigned as an enlightened techie, costumed in a campaign ball cap and stars and stripes soccer scarf. He skateboarded, crowd surfed, and paced stages with the swagger of a confident bro. His message spoke to voters, particularly young men, who get their news from podcasts, YouTube, and Reddit. Yang connected with people who didn’t feel that they had a place in the current economy, warning that as automation continued their sense of displacement would only grow worse. In this way, Yang’s support had echoes of Bernie Sanders’—a dedicated online following rooted in communities that were young, concerned about their economic future, and often male. 

At the heart of Yang’s campaign was a simplistic, libertarian-style solution to economic struggle. Yang argued that the country was already deep into an automation revolution that will eventually cost millions of Americans their jobs as truck drivers, call-center workers, health care administrators, and even lawyers are replaced with artificial intelligence and robots. The solution, Yang argued, was a $1,000 check per month for all Americans, funded by a form of a sales tax. Yang’s single greatest achievement was putting the idea of basic income—which has been embraced in different forms by both progressives and conservatives for decades—on the national radar.

Whereas Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, the two most progressive Democratic candidates, campaigned on taxing the rich and redistributing their wealth, Yang’s so-called Freedom Dividend would have been more regressive in both funding and allocation. Progressive advocates suspiciously viewed Yang as having disguised a regressive set of economic policies in Sanders-style rhetoric. One tell-tale sign that Yang’s proposal dovetailed with libertarian economic policy: he wanted his universal basic income to replace much of America’s hard-won social safety net. 

Progressive advocates suspiciously viewed Yang as having disguised regressive economic policies in Sanders-style rhetoric.

While Sanders stumped against the “billionaire class” and Warren took on the rigged system, Yang trained his fire on big tech companies, pointing out how they’ve extracted wealth from towns and cities, and stashed it overseas to avoid taxes. But unlike Warren, who advocates for regulating giants like Facebook and Amazon with New Deal-style anti-trust measures, Yang’s approach to reining in big tech was more hands-off. “It’s not like breaking up these big tech companies will revive Main Street businesses around the country,” Yang argued in one of the autumn debates. “Using a 20th century antitrust framework will not work. We need new solutions and a new toolkit”—one that, according to his proposals, hinged on cooperation over aggressive regulation, once again suggesting Yang’s progressive rhetoric masked laissez-faire policy details. Yang himself eschewed ideological classification and instead falling back on nominally apolitical frames of math and rationality, saying that he was simply seeking 21st century solutions to modern problems.

In Iowa, about 5 percent of Democratic caucus-goers indicated Yang was their first choice; the earliest returns suggest he will not exceed that number in New Hampshire, showing his strong online following didn’t translate into huge electoral wins. But his campaign remains a warning shot to Democrats and Republicans. Yes, an outsider candidate can marshal the power of online organizing to develop a cult following that can raise real money and outlast more conventional strategies. And he did so in a way that hints at the allure of a message tapping into Americans’ anxiety about technological progress—even if the proposed solutions he laid out to the havoc wrought by Silicon Valley would ultimately be too small to stop it.

We Asked Pete and Bernie Fans If They’ll Team Up to Beat Trump

Following former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s narrow win over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in last week’s Iowa Democratic caucuses, the two presidential candidates are duking it out in New Hampshire: Sanders slammed Buttigieg for accepting campaign contributions from billionaires, and Buttigieg said Sanders’ policies skew too far to the left.

Mother Jones’ digital producer Mark Helenowski caught up with Buttigieg and Sanders supporters on the trail this week to find out what pushed them to support one candidate over the other—and whether they’d vote for their candidate’s opponent. One common theme emerged, no matter what the voter’s current predilections: the need to unify the Democratic party to take on President Donald Trump in November.

Watch:

Thomas Angell, a 21-year-old student and Sanders supporter, said that the senator alone had the support base to win. “To actually beat Trump, we can’t just be opposed to Trump,” he said. “We have to offer something else. He actually believes in something incredibly concrete that we can all get around.” Multiple Sanders supporters—some sporting “Bernie Beats Trump” pins—pointed out that the senator tends to perform well in polls that pit him against Trump. 

But others Mother Jones spoke to, including Phillip Benkert, a 65-year-old retiree, think Sanders’ policies would do more to divide than to unify. “This country’s splitting into pieces, and you need to bring the suckers together and not go over there,” he said, gesturing to his right, “or over there,” he added, gesturing to his left.

“You’ve gotta have a centrist candidate,” Donald Marcus, a 73-year-old retired veterinarian, agreed. “I don’t see why the Democratic Party can’t figure that out.”

But in order to unseat the president, Democrats will have to rally around their nominee, even if he or she isn’t their first choice in the primaries. Most of the New Hampshire Democrats we spoke to said they would do just that.

“I don’t care if it’s somebody who just got out of an insane asylum,” Marcus said. “Anybody but 45.”

Mystery Woman Targets Sanders Campaign in Suspected Sting Operation

Sanders campaign operatives believe his campaign may have been the target of an attempted sting operation, after a woman recently attempted to bait local Sanders allies into discussing shady fundraising tactics in phone calls and in one in-person interaction.

New Hampshire Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky, a longtime Sanders ally who’s running for governor, received one of these calls on Monday evening, less than an hour before he was to appear onstage at Sanders’ 7,500-person “Bernie Beats Trump” rally in Durham. The caller, identifying herself as Megan MacDonald, offered to fundraise for Volinsky’s gubernatorial campaign. She claimed to represent Our Revolution, the Sanders-aligned organization spun from his 2016 campaign, and unidentified gambling interests, according to Volinksy. She volunteered to help Volinsky raise funds through both this organization and the gambling industry. Volinsky asked her to provide a resumé to describe her fundraising qualifications, and MacDonald said she didn’t have one. An Our Revolution spokesperson says it has never employed anyone with that name and has no connections to gambling interests.

MacDonald also asked Volinsky if she could volunteer in the Sanders campaign’s “boiler room”—the nerve center where campaign staff and loyalists would gather on election night—and asked him where it would be located. Volinsky declined her offer to help, and he did not provide her an address.

A New Hampshire Democratic Party official received a phone call on Monday from a woman identifying herself as Megan MacDonald, who said she wanted to help Volinsky with fundraising and requested Volinsky’s contact information.

Last Thursday, a woman who introduced herself as MacDonald attended a Sanders campaign roundtable geared toward LGTBQ voters in Somersworth, New Hampshire. According to an attendee, MacDonald claimed to be a political tourist from Chicago. This person said MacDonald asked him leading questions suggesting Hillary Clinton had “stolen” the 2016 Democratic nomination from Sanders and inquired whether someone could vote in multiple primaries across different states. The source said that a camera crew entered the event a few minutes before MacDonald did and departed moments after she left. They identified themselves as media but did not have credentials. 

Shannon Jackson, Sanders’ New Hampshire campaign director, says these are the only contacts that he is aware of between the campaign and MacDonald. Mother Jones tried to reach MacDonald via the phone numbers she had used to reach Volinsky and the New Hampshire Democrats’ staffer. Neither call was answered. A voicemail left at one of the numbers was not returned. An email sent to an address she had given the New Hampshire Democrats’ staffer was not returned. 

The Sanders camp is well-acquainted with efforts to infiltrate its operation. During the 2016 cycle, Project Veritas, a right-wing group known for conducting sting operations against liberal targets, secretly recorded Sanders staffers in their Manchester, New Hampshire, office. Last month, the group conducted operations against Sanders’ organization in Iowa and South Carolina. Project Veritas did not respond to a request for comment.

The Sanders campaign tells Mother Jones it has developed guides for staff and volunteers to help them identify the signs of a potential sting. “Being the frontrunner in the race, we’re going to get attention—both good and bad,” Jackson said. “It’s a shame we have to be guarded—we want to embrace and bring in as many people as possible.”

It’s Another Tuesday Afternoon Massacre at the Department of Justice

Here’s our timeline for the day. At 1:48 am President Trump tweets his displeasure with the 7-9 year prison sentence that prosecutors are recommending for his pal Roger Stone:

This is a horrible and very unfair situation. The real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them. Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice! https://t.co/rHPfYX6Vbv

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 11, 2020

11:40 am: Word leaks that DOJ plans to override its prosecutors and reduce their recommended sentence:

The DOJ is changing its sentencing recommendation for Roger Stone, according to a Senior DOJ official.
“The Department finds seven to nine years extreme, excessive and grossly disproportionate,” the source said, adding the DOJ will clarify its position on sentencing later today

— Jake Gibson (@JakeBGibson) February 11, 2020

1:56 pm: DOJ spokesman says they had not even seen Trump’s tweet when they made this decision. It was solely because the sentence seemed excessive.

3:01 pm: One of the prosecutors withdraws from the case and resigns as Assistant US Attorney for Washington DC:

Aaron Zelinsky, who had been a prosecutor in the special counsel’s office, has moved to withdraw from Roger Stone’s case. pic.twitter.com/3mHkuvgHhz

— Brad Heath (@bradheath) February 11, 2020

3:59 pm: Another prosecutor withdraws from the case and resigns from DOJ:

New: Another prosecutor in Roger Stone’s case has withdrawn after DOJ said it was reconsidering its sentencing recommendation. Jonathan Kravis “has resigned as an Assistant United States Attorney and therefore no longer represents the government in this case.” pic.twitter.com/eXbBjhXNFW

— Brad Heath (@bradheath) February 11, 2020

4:40 pm: Yet another prosecutor on the Stone team withdraws:

A THIRD Stone prosecutor has now dropped out of the case: Adam Jed. pic.twitter.com/vLzMxJi5Z7

— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) February 11, 2020

5:33 pm: The fourth and final member of the prosecution team is out:

MARANDO OUT pic.twitter.com/cG8uS2tjbo

— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) February 11, 2020

The corruption just keeps rolling along. Stay tuned for more.

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