One last look before caucus night –> With a week left before the Iowa caucuses, CNN hosted a televised town hall with the Democratic presidential candidates last night. Instead of the media, the questions came from Iowa Democrats, some of whom still claimed to be undecided. Sophia Tesfaye has highlights at Salon.
Soul-searching continues –> The town hall was well-timed, as the press and party elite finally are taking Bernie Sanders’ campaign seriously and debate has surged as to whether he could be a successful party candidate in the general election or an effective president.
Jonathan Chait denounces Sanders in New York magazine for what he sees as a lack of pragmatism: “In place of any practical road map to enacting his ideas, Sanders substitutes the ‘political revolution,’ an event he invokes constantly that will sweep aside all impediments… Sanders draws upon the left’s frustration with the limits of shared power in much the same way as Cruz has done.”
BUT: At Jacobin, Seth Ackerman takes issue with those who criticize Sanders. Taking aim at a recent attack against the senator by Matt Yglesias in Vox, Ackerman writes that many of the candidate’s proposals, including single-payer health care, are well within the Democratic wheelhouse, and have been promised in the past to mobilize support for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton: “The predicament the party finds itself in now, judging by the new poll numbers out of Iowa, is that it faces a base that took it at its word” — and is thus looking to Sanders.
AND: At New Republic, Brain Beutler considers the options and finds that the Clinton campaign has yet to fully understand Sanders’ widespread support among Democrats or to make an effective case as to why Hillary Clinton is the better candidate to run against the Republicans. “The downside risk of losing this election is greater than it was in 2008, and for many Democrats, the desire to mitigate that risk is the decisive factor drawing them to Clinton’s campaign. But if Sanders’s candidacy is genuinely reckless, his critics must be more persuasive than they have been on that point.”
LASTLY: At Common Dreams, Peter Bloom argues that the words radical and unelectable aren’t necessarily synonymous: “The mindset of the Democratic Party and much of the Liberal intelligentsia must be radically updated. It is more opportunistic than substantive and perhaps even worse largely ineffective. A potential Sanders’ victory represents a chance to infuse the Party with some desperately needed new thinking.”
Still flogging away… –> At Grist, Heather Smith looks at an analysis of tactics used by conservative climate denial groups, and finds that they haven’t shifted much over the last two decades: “Even while evidence continues to mount that climate change is a real thing caused by human action, the volume of propaganda declaring that it is not has been rising in parallel.”
But in case you had any doubt –> A new study makes clear that the record-breaking hot years we’ve been having would have been nearly impossible if not for human-generated climate change. Damian Carrington writes for The Guardian, “Thirteen of the 15 hottest years in the 150-year-long record occurred between 2000-14 and the researchers found there is just a 0.01% chance that this happened due to natural variations in the planet’s climate.”
Campaigning post-Citizens United –> “A political action committee with a track record of questionable tactics is attempting to use the recent death of a Ben Carson campaign volunteer to raise money. The group has no connection to Carson’s presidential effort, and a spokesman for the retired neurosurgeon who is seeking the GOP presidential nomination tells Mother Jones that the Carson team was ‘disgusted and appalled’ by the ploy.” Russ Choma reports for Mother Jones.
Important move by SCOTUS –> Mark Sherman at the AP: “The Supreme Court ruled Monday that people serving life terms for murders they committed as teenagers must have a chance to seek their freedom, a decision that could affect more than 1,000 inmates. The justices voted 6-3 to extend a ruling from 2012 that struck down automatic life terms with no chance of parole for teenage killers. Now, even those who were convicted long ago must be considered for parole or given a new sentence.”
AND: At The Washington Post, Obama has an op-ed explaining his executive order to ban solitary confinement for teens.
Plot twist! –> Manny Fernandez reports for The New York Times that in Houston, Texas, “A grand jury… that was investigating accusations of misconduct against Planned Parenthood has instead indicted two abortion opponents who made undercover videos of the organization.”
Revolutionary flavor –> Headline on Nick Gass and Ken Vogel’s Politico story: “Ben & Jerry’s founder unveils new ‘Bernie’s Yearning’ ice cream flavor.” The taste treat features “a milk chocolate disk covering the top of plain mint ice cream. The disc is meant to represent ‘the huge majority of economic gains that have gone to the top 1% since the end of the recession. Beneath it, the rest of us,’ reads the description on the back of the pint posted on the website.”
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