Author: Steve Prestegard

Presty the DJ for Feb. 23

The number one song today in 1991:

Today in 1998, the members of Oasis were banned for life from Cathay Pacific Airways for their “abusive and disgusting behavior.”

Apparently Cathay Pacific knew it was doing, because one year to the day later, Oasis guitarist Paul Arthurs was arrested outside a Tommy Hilfiger store in London for drunk and disorderly conduct.

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for Feb. 23”

Presty the DJ for Feb. 22

The number one single today in 1960:

Its remake 16 years later — which I had never heard of before writing this blog — finished 12 places below the original:

The number one British single today in 1962:

The number one single today in 1975

Proving there is no accounting for taste, even among the supposedly cultured British, I present their number one single today in 1981:

The number one British single today in 1997:

The short list of birthdays begins with one-hit-wonder Ernie K. Doe (whose inclusion certainly does not express my opinion about my own mother-in-law):

Bobby Hendricks of the Drifters:

Michael Wilton of Queensryche:

One non-musical death of note today in 1987: The indescribable Andy Warhol, who among other things managed the Velvet Underground:

One musical death of note today in 2002: Drummer Ronnie Verrell, who drummed as Animal on the Muppet Show:

 

The “bargain” Corvettes

The phrase “bargain Corvette” might seem as much an oxymoron as “jumbo shrimp” or “(insert branch of armed services here) intelligence.”

And yet that phrase has crossed my online reading twice recently. First, in manufacturing chronological order, Scott Oldham:

Chevrolet had the stones to call it the most advanced production car on the planet. The TV commercial said the all-new 1984 Corvette was superb in its engineering and technology and defiant in its performance. Sure, the advertising was lame, but the car was extraordinary.

The C4 Corvette was among the fastest cars you could buy during President Ronald Reagan’s first term, and its handling and braking redefined street performance at the time. The media swooned, and sales erupted. Chevy sold more than 51,000 units the first year, making 1984 the Corvette’s second-highest-volume model year ever.

It was a car we were all waiting for. Yearning for. The C3 had been around since 1968, and its chassis dated to the split-window Sting Ray of 1963. Design sketches for the fourth generation of the “plastic fantastic” were drawn as early as 1978, and its first clay models were produced in ’79.

Despite rumors of a mid-engine design, Chevy stuck with the front-engine layout that had served America’s sports car well since 1953. Chevy also kept the transverse leaf spring suspension that debuted with the C2 in 1963. But there was an all-new structure, aluminum A-arms, and 16-inch 50-series Goodyear Gatorback tires so massive we couldn’t believe our eyes. A targa-style, removable roof panel was standard, as was the busy, ahead-of-its-time digital instrument panel.

The C4 debuted with the anemic 205-hp L83 V-8 carried over from 1982, complete with Cross-Fire injection. (There was no 1983 Corvette.) A retuned suspension and real power arrived in 1985, when the Corvette got the 230-hp L98 that shared its tuned port injection with the Camaro and Firebird. Now the Corvette could top 150 mph.

In 1986, after an 11-year hiatus, Chevy reintroduced a Corvette convertible. A year later, the L98’s output climbed to 240 horsepower, but the transmission options remained the odd Doug Nash “4+3” four-speed manual (with three overdrives) or the four-speed automatic. Quarter-mile times dipped into the high 13s.

In 1989, Chevy added 17-inch wheels and tires and replaced the Doug Nash 4+3 with a ZF six-speed manual. The following year, the C4 got a new cockpit-style interior with airbags and plenty of gray, hard plastic. Most of the digital gauges were gone, too. New exterior styling with more-rounded lines came in 1991, and in ’92 the L98 was replaced with the second-generation small-block, the LT1. That engine made 300 horsepower, and although its Optispark ignition proved delicate, aftermarket solutions are readily available.

This engine family peaked in 1996 with the 330-hp LT4, optional on all Corvettes equipped with the six-speed. It also powered the Collector Edition and Grand Sport models, both of which exceed the $15,000 mandate of this page. We haven’t even mentioned the 1990–95 ZR-1 or the twin-turbo Callaway models.

They’re spendy, too. But other C4s remain cheap. Of note are the 1985–89 cars that feature the L98 paired with the retro charm of the harder-edged exterior lines and original interior design. They offer heady performance for little money, and they’re old enough to be retro cool. C4 Corvette prices are flat, but they’re starting to tick up as Gen Xers begin to seek out the cars they wanted in high school. As always, buy the absolute best one your budget can afford.

Road & Track adds an owner interview:

I’ve always liked the compact look of the C4 Corvette. I finally bought one—a 1988 convertible—in 2009 and have put about 4000 miles on it since. It shares the garage with an ’87 Camaro I bought new and a trio of ’57 Chevys. The C4 had 62,000 miles on it, and the body and the interior were perfect. But it had been neglected mechanically, so I replaced the clutch and the radiator and rebuilt the pop-up headlight buckets. Now that it isn’t nickel-and-diming me anymore, it’s the perfect car to go out and cruise in on a nice day. I love the Doug Nash 4+3 transmission, with overdrive in second, third, and fourth gears. It’s like having a seven-speed. Compared to my Camaro, the Corvette is a whole different animal and outperforms it in every way.

 

I’m sitting in a 1984 C4. Not mine, unfortunately.

I have a few problems with the C4. Two would be right in front of me if I owned one:

1989 Corvette digital dash instrument cluster Rebuilt 85 86 87 88 1989 L@@K TPI

 

1990,1991,1992,1993,1994,1995,1996 Corvette Instrument Cluster Repair Service C4

The first photo is of the 1984–1990 C4 instrument cluster, known derisively as the “Star Wars” dashboard. That would bug me no end if I owned an early C4. The other problem is that, to no surprise, that cluster is known to die without warning. Chevy replaced it with the instrument cluster in the second photo, which for some reason still included a digital speedometer.

Since the second cluster was part of an interior redesign, no, you can’t swap one into the other. There are other alternatives …

… for a price, of course.

I’m not enamored with the original wheels either, which to me look like the wheel covers of my former 1975 Chevy Caprice.

They do look appropriate somehow for those interested in the last-generation Caprice. (These are actually the next wheel design, which looks better.)

Poor wheel aesthetics can be fixed, too, for a price.

The C4 lasted from the spring of 1983 (as a 1984 model) to 1996, when it was replaced by the C5. Which leads us to Jack Baruth:

It was the first modern Corvette to challenge the world’s best sports cars on truly level ground, the first Corvette to take a class victory at Le Mans, and the last Corvette to feature those oh-so-cool hidden headlamps. But the fifth-gen Vette (C5) came very close to not existing at all. According to Russ McLean, platform manager for the model, General Motors management made the decision to “sunset” America’s most iconic sports car in the Nineties. McLean and a group of rebels ignored the decision and continued development of the Corvette, much of it off the books and on their own time.

Eventually, the big wigs came back around to the idea of building the C5. Celebrated as world-class upon its debut, it would go on to win everywhere from the SCCA Solo Nationals in Topeka to the Mulsanne straight in France. Now caught in that uncomfortable middle ground between new-car smell and classic-car kudos, the C5 is arguably the greatest performance bargain on the market. It can still cut the mustard on a road course, at the drag strip, or at a Saturday night cruise-in.

If you’re looking for chrome trim, bronze-tinted T-tops, or ashy door handles that disappear into the horizontal surfaces, you won’t find them here, but much of the traditional Vette ownership experience persists, from the stubborn sag of the massive doors to the copious heat blasting from the transmission tunnel. At least there’s plenty of power. Fire up the V-8 and marvel at the lazy torque that can roll the car forward from a standstill in the (optional!) manual six-speed’s fourth gear.

The C5’s shoestring development shows through in the mismatched interior controls, the perishable nature of the interior trim, and the hilarious necessity of leaving a door open when you close the rear hatch, because there isn’t enough passive venting to let the air escape otherwise. But there’s plenty of smart engineering under the fiberglass skin. (Corvettes have always been known for having fiberglass body panels, but since 1973, General Motors has steadily increased the amount of plastic resin in what is now called sheet molding compound, or SMC, such that the h-generation Vette’s body panels used just 20 percent fiberglass.) Its hydroformed steel structure is four and a half times as stiff as the previous Corvette’s. Elsewhere, the use of aluminum, magnesium, and even balsa wood (in the door sections) cut weight. The aluminum LS1 V-8 was a clean-sheet design, sharing only bore spacing with earlier Chevy small-blocks. A few minutes at speed will dispel any doubts. Considering that some modern six-cylinders outpower a ’97 Corvette’s 345 hp, the C5 is no longer truly rapid by modern standards, but a well-driven example can still see off a challenge from today’s hot hatches, and a mint-condition Z06 is almost a match for a new Stingray.

We’ve most likely passed the bottom of the market for manual-transmission C5 Corvettes in good condition. Early coupes and convertibles with automatics can sometimes be had for 10 grand or even less, but expect to pay $15,000 and up for six-speed coupes and FRCs. The 405-hp Z06s sit at the top of the price spectrum, with transaction prices for clean 2004 Z06 variants often approaching $30,000. If you’re buying for the long term, don’t consider anything but a Z06. But if you’re looking for a daily driver, keep in mind that $5000 in upgrades to a coupe or convertible will enable it to leave a stock Z06 in the dust. …

The C5’s performance came as a surprise to many owners, so look carefully for crash damage and be sure that the car’s steel backbone is intact. Despite having plastic body panels, Corvettes can corrode underneath, which makes a full inspection worth your time. The first few years used fussy tire-pressure sensors and key fobs, so budget $500 or so to bring them up to 2001–2004 spec. If you aren’t sure about the condition of the clutch or transaxle, get it looked at before purchase, because they are labor-intensive to repair.

The LS1 and LS6 engines are renowned for durability and ease of tuning. Swapping the heads, cam, and intake can yield as much as 500 hp at the crank. There are also well-tested supercharger upgrades.

The C5 was raced extensively in the SCCA T1 class and elsewhere, so there are virtually limitless options for firming up the handling. If you’d rather improve the street usability of your Corvette, there are aftermarket solutions, from upgraded seats to complete interior swaps. For about $1000, you can replace a tired targa top with a tinted aftermarket variant that recalls the spirit of 1970s Vettes.

The C5 has one particular feature no Corvette afterward has — hidden headlights, which are for me a requirement. (The first Corvette I ever saw was a C3.) The C5 also fixed the C4’s bad-instrument-panel-design issue, though as you read fit and finish are a problem. (As with every GM car I have ever seen, including the two we own.)

Some people don’t like the C5s because of their (in their opinion) generic styling. The C4s look more like the C3, and I find it interesting how much the C6 looks like the C4. The C5s, however, have more horsepower than any C4 other than the ZR1, with its 32-valve V-8 built by Mercury Marine’s stern drive division.

The C4 and C5 eras also have cars available in my favorite color:

Whether a particular car is “affordable” depends on your definition of that word. It also recalls the aphorism that you get what you pay for.

Years ago I interviewed a classic car dealer, and he said that a lot of people wanted a Corvette from the year of their high school graduation. Corvette aficionados know that means I won’t own a Corvette. (For those who aren’t: I graduated in 1983. There is no 1983 Corvette because the 1984 Corvette, the first C4, came out in the spring of 1983.)

I suppose I could buy a 1988 Corvette to represent the year of my college graduation. Or I could buy a red 1999 Corvette to represent my two favorite Prince songs …

The Bloomberg and (Comrade) Bernie Show

Jonah Goldberg:

The Bloomberg and Bernie battle is almost like a comic book come to life. The two combatants cover almost every cliché on the right-wing scorecard.

The right couldn’t have invented a better candidate than Bernie Sanders. In 1971, he was kicked out of a commune for talking too much. In 1987(!) he recorded a folk album. The following year he got married and left the next day for a combination fact-finding delegation and honeymoon in the Soviet Union. When he returned, he sounded a bit like Lincoln Steffens, the famous journalist who had said of the USSR, “I have seen the future and it works.” In Steffens’ defense, he visited in 1919, two years after its founding and before most of the inconvenient mass murder and starvation. Sanders thought the Soviet Union was the future three years before it collapsed.

Of course, this isn’t why most of his fans like him. He was on the right side of the civil rights movement when it really mattered. He’s been a consistent advocate of what he calls democratic socialism here at home all his life. And, he’s an unreconstructed enemy of the economic elites, particularly the hated “billionaire class.”

Which brings us to Michael R. Bloomberg, who sits atop the 1% of the 1%. Bloomberg is a perfect stand-in for a completely different kind of liberalism, one that doesn’t even like to call itself liberal. He headlined the launch of No Labels, an organization dedicated to getting ideology out of politics. A lifelong Democrat, he switched labels to become a Republican to run for mayor in 2001. By his third term he was an independent. Now he’s a Democrat because he’s running for president.

As mayor of New York, he was a poster boy for a kind of arrogant progressive-post-partisan technocratic government that prizes data over feelings. The data showed that obesity cost the healthcare system money, sugary sodas contributed to obesity, so Bloomberg said let’s clamp down on them. The data showed that young black men committed most of the gun homicides, so Bloomberg said, let’s clamp down on them with stop and frisk. “Ninety-five percent of murders, murderers and murder victims fit one M.O. You can just take a description, Xerox it, and pass it out to all the cops,” he explained in 2015.

In a new video going around, Bloomberg offers a quasi-endorsement of “death panels.” “If you show up with prostate cancer, you’re 95 years old, [we] should say go and enjoy, you’ve lived a long life, there’s no cure. We can’t do anything,” Bloomberg says. “If you’re a young person, we should do something about it. Society’s not willing to do that, yet.”

This isn’t why his fans like him. For a long time he was an icon of the credentialed upper class who saw ideological culture war fights as so much boob-bait. More recently, he’s become the liberal’s “Chicago way” response to Trump. If the right comes at you with a billionaire would-be Putin, you come back with a bigger billionaire and would-be Lee Kuan Yew.

Both men represent two strands of liberalism with very long pedigrees. Sanders can trace his lineage back to antiwar socialists and populists like William Jennings Bryan and Eugene Debs, as well as to reformers like Jane Addams. Bloomberg’s antecedents can be found in the democracy-skeptical “disinterested” progressive pragmatists like Walter Lippmann, Oliver Wendell Holmes and the Wisconsin school economists. Usually these two strands intertwine and overlap, (Barack Obama had a foot in both camps. He was both the anointed leader of a mass movement and the overseer of the Affordable Care Act, with all of its data driven rationing). But when stripped to their purest elements, one camp is all about solidarity and people power and the other is about technocratic expertise.

Like Trump, both men are beneficiaries of our hollowed-out political parties, which are incapable of performing the gatekeeper function of the nomination process.

And that raises the stakes of their contest. Trump has transformed much of the GOP in his image. Too weak to protect their own brand, the Republicans have adopted his.

If either Sanders or Bloomberg wins the nomination, it will be interesting to see if the same thing happens to Democrats. If it’s Sanders, will they become a populist party of Social Democrats? Or if it’s Bloomberg, will the Democrats become the party of bureaucratic authoritarianism?

Again, normally Democratic politicians straddle these two tendencies. There are, of course, still other options for primary voters. But the choice between these two is zero-sum, and if either man wins, the Democratic Party could end up making a choice that will define it as much as Trump has come to define the GOP.

Humans are beneath Bloomberg

Timothy P. Carney:

Mike Bloomberg once pointed to the in utero child of an employee and said “kill it, kill it,” according to two witnesses.

According to another female employee, he would say of attractive women, “I’d like to do that piece of meat.”

“It’s a f—ing baby,” Bloomberg reportedly yelled at another female employee when she was scrambling to find a nanny for her child. “All it does is eat and shit! It doesn’t know the difference between you and anyone else! All you need is some black who doesn’t even have to speak English to rescue it from a burning building!”

It’s easy to assume that Bloomberg, like the man he wants to replace in the White House, is simply selfish, crude, and misogynistic. It’s tempting to see Bloomberg’s cutthroat capitalism as unrelated to, or even at odds with, his social liberalism. But there’s a bigger story here, a pattern that becomes clear when you consider Mike Bloomberg in full.

Bloomberg’s odd apology for China’s authoritarian communist regime is not some weird blind spot. His embrace of stop-and-frisk policing was not just some New York City thing. And his nanny-statism on sodas, cigarettes, and trans fats is not merely an over-enthusiasm for clean living.

Nor is Bloomberg an inconsistent thinker or some nonideological independent. He has a very clear view of the world that underlies his economic policies, his social policies, his personal life, and his behavior. Bloomberg’s ideology is neither left nor right. Instead, his worldview is supremely materialistic, and ultimately inhuman.

In Bloomberg’s eyes, any talk of the dignity of the human person is mawkish sentimentality. Mike Bloomberg doesn’t see people as ends in themselves, but instead as means to ends.

Begin with Bloomberg’s disturbing warmth toward China’s regime. Bloomberg News has, according to insiders, spiked stories that were critical of the regime. Bloomberg also kicked off his current presidential run by praising China’s environmental record and lauding the way the government holds power, in addition to rejecting the idea that Xi Jinping is a dictator, suggesting that a majority of the population approves of his rule.

At best, Bloomberg is saying that individual liberty and free expression can be suppressed, so long as the guy suppressing them could, in theory, find public support for it — and by “support,” he’s not necessarily referring to a free election. That’s unnerving, coming from a guy running to become president.

In this context, consider his Big Gulp bans, his smoking bans, his trans-fat bans, and his tireless campaign to outlaw guns. Bloomberg clearly rejects the notion that ordinary people should be allowed to make their own mistakes. Treating adults as adults and respecting their self-determination is not something Bloomberg believes in.

So, how then to understand his massive support for Planned Parenthood, his 100% pro-choice record on abortion, and his call to deregulate abortion clinics? Just go back to his workplace conduct.

Telling an expectant mother to kill her baby, mocking a new mother’s desire for quality child care, cursing whenever a female employee gets pregnant, and publicly denigrating marriage among professional women all reflect a clear and consistent mindset: The women who worked for him were worker bees. Their humanity, their fertility, their love, and their human attachments were all impediments to productivity. He saw these women as means to his ends of profit.

Hence the misogyny, the keeping of a girlfriend in every city (and bragging about it), the jokes that some employees’ value was in providing sexual favors — that all fits in, too.

Once you see Bloomberg as someone who rejects the dignity of the individual, his attitude toward policing makes sense. The virtue of his “stop-and-frisk” practice, Bloomberg once explained to a crowd of elites, was that officers would stop black and Hispanic children without probable cause and “throw them up against the wall and frisk them,” so as to scare them straight.

That may seem to you to be inhumane and demeaning. Bloomberg sees that as being realistic. The former mayor tellingly described criminals and crime victims in New York as all being the same: “You can just take the description, Xerox it, and pass it out to all the cops.”

Human beings, to Bloomberg, are not unique creatures, all deserving freedom, respect, and dignity. They are not ends in themselves, in Bloomberg’s eyes. People are either inconveniences to be ignored or terminated (babies), threats to be neutralized and intimidated (minority males), corporate machine parts to be exploited for profit (employees), or tools for sexual gratification (women).

It may look like Bloomberg’s views and policies are all over the place, until you see people the way Bloomberg does. And once you’ve seen him for what he is, you can’t unsee it.

Jim Geraghty:

Another cautionary note about Bloomberg that is emerging: His critics on the right and on the left see the same traits that trouble them.

Zaid Jilani: “It’s hardly a surprise that Bloomberg is on record defending the Chinese system of government, insisting that Xi Jinping is “not a dictator”. Bloomberg sees himself as an enlightened autocrat, who uses his money to get around inefficient democratic processes.” …

We probably all know someone in life who is a genius or indisputable runaway success in one area — making money, working out computer problems, cooking, understanding the tax code, being a coach, sorting out engineering problems — but who is not nearly as wise and astute in other areas of life. His relationships are a mess, he freezes up when speaking in public, he’s socially awkward, he micromanages others. Human beings are rarely good at all tasks.

Mike Bloomberg is that kind of personality who believes that because his judgment was proven correct in one area — building a fortune — that his judgment must be inerrant in just about all areas. (You no doubt have noticed that the current president is not exactly a bubbling fountain of humility, modesty, and self-effacement, either.) Colorado Springs and Pueblo are “a part of Colorado where I don’t think there’s roads.” Bloomberg is unconvinced God exists, but believes that if He does, “when I get to heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It’s not even close.” He declared, “if you want to have a gun in your house, I think you’re pretty stupid.”

If you disagree, hey, he’s the eighth-richest man in America, and you’re not. What could you possibly know that he doesn’t?

Presty the DJ for Feb. 20

The Beatles had quite a schedule today in 1963. They drove from Liverpool to London through the night to appear on the BBC’s “Parade of the Pops,” which was on live at noon.

After their two songs, they drove back north another three hours to get to their evening performance at the Swimming Baths in Doncaster.

The number one song today in 1965:

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for Feb. 20”

Bloomberg vs. Sanders vs. the Democratic Party

Jim Geraghty:

Assume, for a moment, that the Democratic primary comes down to a choice between Bernie Sanders and Mike Bloomberg. (Some might argue that it already has; yesterday the Bloomberg News organization reported an exclusive that the Bloomberg presidential campaign organization believed that the race already came down to Sanders and the Bloomberg presidential candidate. That strikes me as premature, as well as far too many “Bloomberg” monikers in one sentence.)

That said, former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe contends that right now Sanders is on pace to lock up a pledged delegate lead he will not relinquish by Super Tuesday, March 3. The Vermont senator wouldn’t clinch the nomination that day. But he would be so far ahead that he would be virtually guaranteed to go into Milwaukee with an insurmountable lead in delegates. At that point, the party couldn’t afford not to nominate him. He would finish about 20 percentage points ahead of anyone else.

For Democrats, the decision in the coming weeks may come down to a particularly challenging conundrum. If you nominate Sanders, how many anti-Sanders Democrats and independents drift away in the general election? And if you nominate Bloomberg, how many anti-Bloomberg Democrats and independents drift away in the general election?

The Trump campaign and fans of the president shouldn’t fool themselves; the vast majority of people supporting either Sanders or Bloomberg are going to vote for the eventual Democratic nominee. But “vast majority” might mean about 80 to 90 percent, and that might not be enough where it counts when all the votes are tallied on Election Day.

Did Sanders voters cost Hillary Clinton the presidency? Many political scientists have gone through the exit polls and come up with different estimates of just how many Sanders primary voters ended up voting for Trump in the general elections. The low end of estimates is 6 percent, the high end is 12 percent. Political scientist Brian Schaffner put it at 12 percent nationally, and offered a state-level estimate: In Wisconsin, 9 percent of Sanders voters cast ballots for Trump, in Michigan, 8 percent of Sanders voters cast ballots for Trump, and in Pennsylvania, 16 percent of Sanders voters cast ballots for Trump. That comes out to about 51,000 voters in Wisconsin, where Trump’s margin of victory was 22,000. That comes out to about 47,000 voters in Michigan, where Trump’s margin of victory was 10,000. That comes out to about 116,000 voters in Wisconsin, where Trump’s margin of victory was 44,000. Notice that even if you cut the Sanders-to-Trump estimates in half . . . you still end up with a sum larger than the Trump margin.

In other words . . . yeah, Bernie Sanders voters ended up making Donald Trump president in 2016.

The good news for Democrats is that nominating Sanders brings back at least a chunk of those voters. A “socialist grandpa” candidate doesn’t give off a vibe of urban elitist condescension. The bad news for Democrats is that nominating Sanders probably loses a chunk of Hillary Clinton voters.

Down-ticket Democrats aren’t mincing words: Nominating Sanders puts a lot of them in danger of defeat in November.

“They’re terrified,” Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., the first House Democrat to endorse Buttigieg, told ABC News of his colleagues’ response to Sanders’ rise. “Very few people see Bernie as electable.”

“It could be challenging in parts of the country that we have to win in order to win the presidency and win a majority in the Senate,” Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., a centrist who dropped his own White House bid after the New Hampshire primary, said Thursday of a Sanders’ nomination.

Rep. Anthony Brindisi, a New York Democrat fighting for reelection in a district carried by Trump in 2016, wouldn’t commit to supporting Sanders if he becomes the party’s nominee for president.

“He won’t be the party’s nominee,” he said Thursday when repeatedly asked if he’d support Sanders in the general election. “I’ve made it clear that I think we should nominate a more moderate candidate who has the ability to reach across the aisle and get things done.”

A House Democrat in a swing district who did not want to be identified told the New York Times that if the Democrats nominated Sanders, “there is a growing concern among especially those of us on the front lines that we will not only lose the White House but the House of Representatives.” Texas Democrats believe Sanders would torpedo their hopes of big gains in the state legislature.

Socialism — explicit socialism, wearing the label proudly — has only niche appeal in this country. The Democratic Socialists of America endorsed 42 candidates in 20 states in 2018. None of their senatorial candidates won, neither of their gubernatorial candidates won, and three of their twelve House candidates won: incumbent Danny Davis in Illinois, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Rashida Tlaib. As you may have noticed, those are heavily Democratic districts.

Wait, there’s one other wrinkle, and I’m not making an age joke. Sanders said yesterday he had changed his mind and will not release any more of his medical records. This is a 78-year-old man who had a heart attack in October. At the time, the senator’s campaign said he had been hospitalized with “chest pains,” and three days later announced he had a heart attack and that doctors had inserted two stents.

From Feb. 18 to April 7

Dan O’Donnell:

Like any good politician, Jill Karofsky wants the public to know where she stands on the issues and how she will enact an agenda based on her ideals once elected.

“I believe in protecting our environment from corporate polluters, protecting women’s health care, and holding corrupt politicians accountable,” she says in a television ad that has been running all month.

It’s direct, to the point, and effective.  It also completely disqualifies her as a serious candidate for the office she seeks.

“As your Supreme Court Justice,” she concludes in her ad, “I’ll make decisions based on the law.”

The irony here is at once laughable and terrifying.  Karofsky, a very liberal Dane County Circuit Court judge, is promising to make decisions based on the law while listing off decisions that she would leave to her own conscience.  Restrictions on abortion? She’d strike them down because she believes in “protecting women’s health care.” Disputes over mining regulations? Sorry, corporate polluters, but she will be the greatest champion for the environment since Captain Planet.

Not content to simply legislate from the bench, Jill Karofsky is promising to legislate from a hunch—relying on nothing more than the brilliance and morality of…Jill Karofsky.

Hers is the worst sort of judicial arrogance; a deeply held belief in her own ability to delineate right from wrong independent of the U.S. or Wisconsin Constitutions, applicable statutes, and relevant case law.  It also violates the state’s Code of Judicial Conduct.

SCR 60.06 3(b) explicitly provides that “a judge, judge-elect, or candidate for judicial office shall not make…with respect to cases, controversies, or issues that are likely to come before the court, pledges, promises, or commitments that are inconsistent with the impartial performance of the adjudicative duties of the office.”

Promising to stand up against “corporate polluters,” “corrupt politicians,” and anyone who would threaten “women’s health care” is about as blatant a violation of both the letter and spirit of this guideline as one could imagine.

Land use, abortion issues (which is rather obviously what Karofsky means by “women’s health care”) and political corruption cases will obviously come before her, should she be elected to the Supreme Court, and could conceivably come before her in her current role on the Dane County Circuit Court.

How can she possibly adjudicate these cases fairly when she is openly advertising the fact that she will rule for certain parties and against others?

In December, she used her Twitter account (@JudgeKarofsky), which clearly identifies her as a judge, to publicly call for stricter gun control legislation.

“Families in Sparta and at Waukesha North have also had to deal with lockdowns in the last couple of days, and incidents like these have been happening all over Wisconsin, including a ‘hit list’ in Shorewood,” she tweeted in the wake of a particularly troubling week in the state.  “I’m thankful for first responders who keep us safe.

“But that’s not enough. As a parent, I know our kids shouldn’t have to fear for their lives at school, and not a single parent should be worrying about whether our kids are coming home after school.  It’s up to the policy-makers to decide what the law should be, and judges like me are here to apply and interpret the law. But I know action is needed.

“We can respect constitutional rights and at the same time take steps to make every family safer.  It’s way past time for lawmakers to step up to the plate.”

Does that screed leave any conceivable doubt about how she would rule on gun control legislation signed by Governor Evers?  Even if such a law represents a gross violation of the citizenry’s Second Amendment rights, Karofsky’s stated belief that “more action is needed” to “make every family safer” prejudices her in favor of the law’s constitutionality.

It is thus impossible for Karofsky to impartially (and therefore ethically) hear any gun control case that would come before the Wisconsin Supreme Court, but given her stated mission to crusade against the proliferation of firearms, does anyone really believe that she would recuse herself?

Of course not.  Activists like her live to decide these sorts of cases by substituting personal political preferences like the ones Karofsky tweeted for actual precedent and Constitutional principle.

By contrast, her opponent, incumbent Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly actually did recuse himself from the most hot-button political case of the year, even though it meant handing a (temporary) victory to his political opponents.

Last month, Kelly recused himself from the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty’s lawsuit against the Wisconsin Election Commission over the Commission’s refusal to follow state law and remove more than 200,000 names from voter registration lists.

Because the ruling would affect the Spring Election and Kelly is on the ballot and could theoretically benefit from that ruling, he recused himself.  Political conservatives were beside themselves since his vote would have broken a 3-3 tie (fellow conservative Justice Brian Hagedorn sided with the Court’s two liberals) and allowed the Supreme Court to immediately take up the case instead of waiting for it to make its way through the appeals process.

Even though it could have benefited him and his political supporters, Justice Kelly recognized that sitting on the case would have violated the Code of Judicial Conduct.  Even though political conservatives were furious with him, as a judicial conservative Kelly could not have made any other decision.

Wisconsin faces a clear choice on April 7th: Principled, moral deference to governing law or shameless, reckless politicking.

Karofsky’s advertisements and Twitter rants are the very essence of judicial activism and illustrate why it is so dangerous.  Justice Kelly, on the other hand, has just demonstrated his strict adherence to the Rule of Law. The April 7th election, then, isn’t so much a contest between two judges as it is a battle for what Wisconsin wants its Supreme Court to be.

Sanders vs. Democrats

Ryan Saavedra:

Democrats are panicking over the prospect that socialist Bernie Sanders could win the Democrat nomination for president, saying that he would cause massive damage to the United States.

South Carolina Democrat Representative Joe Cunningham strongly pushed back on Sanders’ extremist proposals, which would cost between $60 trillion to $100 trillion, a figure that would easily bankrupt the U.S.

“South Carolinians don’t want socialism,” Cunningham said. “We want to know how you are going to get things done and how you are going to pay for them. Bernie’s proposals to raise taxes on almost everyone is not something the Lowcountry wants and not something I’d ever support.”

Self-described “registered Democrat” Lloyd Blankfein, the former CEO of Goldman Sachs, warned that Sanders would destroy America’s economy and that Russia would use him to destroy America.

“If Dems go on to nominate Sanders, the Russians will have to reconsider who to work for to best screw up the US. Sanders is just as polarizing as Trump AND he’ll ruin our economy and doesn’t care about our military,” Blankfein said. “If I’m Russian, I go with Sanders this time around.”

…Other so-called “moderate” Democrats warned that nominating Sanders could cost the Democrats the m majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“The anxiety is particularly acute on Capitol Hill among a small but politically important group of freshman Democrats who helped their party win control of the House in 2018 by flipping Republican seats in districts that President Trump won in 2016. Now, they fear that having a self-declared democratic socialist at the top of the ticket could doom their re-election chances in November,” The New York Times reported. “Members of the group of about three dozen — often called ‘front-liners’ or ‘majority-makers’— have toiled to carve out political identities distinct from their party’s progressive base, and most are already facing competitive re-election challenges from Republicans who bill them as radicals who have empowered a far-left agenda in Congress.”

Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) told The New York Times: “I’m the first Democrat to win in my district since 1958. I attracted a lot of independent and moderate Republican support, many of whom probably voted for a Democrat for the first time in a long time. And while I respect Bernie Sanders as a senator, as a candidate, his candidacy is very challenging for people who come from districts like mine.”

Another member of Congress, who did not feel comfortable criticizing Sanders publicly, told the Times: “There is a growing concern among especially those of us on the front lines that we will not only lose the White House but the House of Representatives.”

Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA) said, “If Bernie Sanders was at the top of the ticket, we would be in jeopardy of losing the House. We would not get the Senate back.”

Steve Israel, former chairmen of the party’s House campaign arm, told the Times that Trump will use the fact that Sanders is a socialist to decimate Democrats in down ballot races.

Israel said, “Donald Trump will paint every Democrat — whether they’re running for U.S. Senate or county sheriff — as a socialist, as a ‘Bernie Sanders socialist,’ and that’s a tough deal in a lot of these districts.”

One wonders specifically how that will go over in the Third Congressional District, represented by supposedly moderate, bipartisan Rep. Ron Kind (D–La Crosse).

Sanders, however, is not a Democrat. He remains an independent in the Senate, though he is running for president for the second time.

Someone who is an actual Democrat isn’t impressed, according to Paul Bois:

A fiery feud has escalated between veteran Democratic Party strategist James Carville and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Just one day after the socialist candidate referred to him as a “political hack,” Carville angrily fired back, denouncing Bernie Sanders as a “communist.”

According to Peter Hanby, a contributor to Vanity Fair, James Carville said in a phone interview on Thursday that he relishes the label “political hack” and took it as a compliment.

“Last night on CNN, Bernie called me a political hack. That’s exactly who the f*** I am!” said Carville. “I am a political hack! I am not an ideologue. I am not a purist. He thinks it’s a pejorative. I kinda like it!”

“At least I’m not a communist,” he added. …

The feud between the former Clinton adviser and Bernie Sanders kicked off last week when Carville told Vox that he was “scared to death” of the upcoming election following the disastrous Iowa caucus.

“Look, the turnout in the Iowa caucus was below what we expected, what we wanted. Trump’s approval rating is probably as high as it’s been,” said Carville. “This is very bad. And now it appears the party can’t even count votes. What the hell am I supposed to think?”

“We have candidates on the debate stage talking about open borders and decriminalizing illegal immigration,” Carville continued. “They’re talking about doing away with nuclear energy and fracking. You’ve got Bernie Sanders talking about letting criminals and terrorists vote from jail cells. It doesn’t matter what you think about any of that, or if there are good arguments — talking about that is not how you win a national election.”

“There’s no chance in hell we’ll ever win the Senate with Sanders at the top of the party defining it for the public,” he added.

Shortly thereafter, Carville doubled-down on his attacks against Sanders and specifically denounced the “cult” that seems to have built up around him.

“The only thing, the only thing between the United States and the abyss is the Democratic Party. That’s it. If we go the way of the British Labour Party, if we nominate Jeremy Corbyn, it’s going to be the end of days. … So I am scared to death, I really am,” Carville said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“If we lose that, we’re going to be the British Labour Party and be out in some theoretical left-wing la-la land,” he continued. “There’s a certain part of the Democratic Party that wants us to be a cult. I’m not interested in being in a cult.

Wednesday night, in an appearance on CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Bernie Sanders dismissed Carville as a “political hack” while vowing to fight establishment figures like himself from being in control of the Democratic Party.

“Look, James, in all due respect, is a political hack who said very terrible things when he was working for Clinton against Barack Obama,” Sanders said. “We are taking on Trump, the Republican establishment, Carville, and the Democratic establishment. At the end of the day the grassroots movement we are putting together of young people, of working people, of people of color, want real change.”

Democrats continue to fail the normalcy test.