Thursday, March 31, 2016

Fear Motivates

Guest Post:   Amygdalas on Overdrive

Hint:   The amygdala is a special structure in the back of your head where emotional memories are created.  You have two of them and the one on your right side responds to fear.  Wikipedia:

YIKES!   I better vote!!!

This campaign is stoking the fear button, because that is what is working.    

This guest post is by a John David Coster, a construction project facilitator who does primary research on the election by chatting up the people sitting next to him on airplanes.

That's essentially what I do in the hour or so before the presidential event happens: talk with the people around me.   Why do you like this guy??

His comment here is an amplification of what I wrote this morning: that Donald Trump's incautious comment on prosecuting women who have abortions created an instant flurry of email fundraising, and the fundraising was based on fear.   Fear of crazy Trump.  Fear the reign of terror on women.   Boo!

I didn't see a lot of joy in the support for Hillary.  There was some "high time a woman" talk but mostly Hillary support was contentment with her competence and fear that Bernie is too liberal and that the Republicans are crazy.    Republicans are scared to death that a commie socialist feminist lesbian like Hillary might be president, which is sort of odd since the Sanders supporters wish she were in fact a crazy commie socialist feminist and are frustrated that she is so moderate and is essentially an Eisenhower Republican.

A recurring theme in my observations about the campaign is that the candidates' talks are shaped by what audiences applaud.  They do not get excited about Hillary talking about incremental change.  They do fire up their excitement amygdala  when they hear Bernie's speaking of revolution against the utter degradation of our politics by billionaires.  They did not cheer for the experienced and measured incrementalism of Bush, Graham, and Kasich.   They do cheer for Trump and Cruz as they denounce immigrants and Muslims and the tremendous risks they pose.

Guest post by John Coster:
John Coster
Years ago I was working on a sheep ranch in the remote coastal hills of Langlois Oregon. I recall watching a herd of sheep flee from me the first time I entered the corral. They panicked and all ran as one, bleating loudly as they sprinted across the yard, crashing headlong into the fence and piling up onto each other. It seemed whatever one did, they all would immediately follow instinctively. At the time I remember thinking about Jesus' unflattering reference to people as being like sheep. I don't think we have evolved much in the last two millennia. 

Last week I was flying from San Antonio to Seattle and my neighbor very quickly let me know he was a big fan of Trump and had no regard for those "idiot" democrats. He also seemed to assume I agreed, or maybe didn't care, or was being provocative. I decided it would be a more pleasant flight to not disagree. But tried an experiment to see if I could, without using any political or 'tribal' jargon, find out his core wants, needs and motivations. 

It turns out he is very afraid. Afraid of all the things the far right says we should be afraid of. All he really wants physical security, economic prosperity, a good education and opportunity for his children, and a comfortable retirement. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And he feels these are threatened and something must be done. The key word I think is 'feels'. 

My limited observation is that both sides are now playing to our strongest emotion and our political identities. My inbox is full of panicky messages from Moveon, DCCC, Pelosi, Franken and others. Amygdalas on overdrive. Our increasingly atrophied attention spans and seeming diminished ability to reason is no match for the power of our emotions and beliefs that have been stoked by those powerful, ever present voices shouting at us.
I feel like an unwilling concert-goer in the mosh pit of fence-crashing sheep. As Dave Barry might say "what a great name for a band"

Trump on Abortion: a Mis-step Corrected

Yesterday was a big day for Democratic e-mails.

I began getting emails within minutes of Donald Trump thinking out loud about policy on abortion when talking with Chris Matthews

Washington Post Lead Story 

In some way what was most newsworthy was not that Donald Trump said that women who had abortions should have some sort of punishment, and then almost immediately began backtracking.   What is interesting is that 9 months into the campaign Trump has been able to get away with Policy-on-the-Fly without it blowing up in his face.

His instincts have been sure footed enough, and sufficiently in touch with the gut response of millions of Americans, that when Chris Matthews asked him if women should be punished for having abortions Donald Trump clearly hadn't thought much about it but went ahead and gave an off the cuff answer.

Donald Trump was obviously thinking out loud and making up policy on the fly.  

Matthews:   You can't dodge the question.
Trump is new at this.  He is coming up with policy live, in real time.   He didn't say he wanted to reflect and get good advice.   He answered.

Policy on the fly

You could see him thinking logically:  1.  I am anti-abortion now, which means 2. there will need to be laws against it, which sometimes people will break so, 3. there needs to be some sort of sanction or punishment otherwise it isn't actually illegal, but 4. I haven't actually thought it though so I better be pretty general and just say there should be "some sort" of punishment, and 5. but let's not take an angry tone, let's be thoughtful and sensible sounding, keep my options open.

Trump's off the cuff instincts have usually served him well enough.   When he said Mexicans immigrants are criminals, rapists, except maybe a few: lots of people actually liked it.   When he said we should ban Muslims from coming to America: turns out to be popular with Republican primary voters.   

This time he stepped on a hornet's nest.  He appears to be attacking women, not abortion, when he mentioned punishment.

Planned Parenthood was ready, and I got similar letters from Move On and Act Blue. 

Trump did something he rarely does: walks something back, as the current phrase goes.   He "clarified" his remarks.   Doctors get punished, he said, not women.   He would leave it to the states.  

This is unusual behavior for Trump, an exception to the "double down" tactic that has been part of his brand, where he re-affirms the validity of his first gut instinct.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

See for Yourself

"Who do you believe?   Me, or your lying eyes?"

Actual quote, from Grocho Marx, is, "Who do you believe, me or what you see with your own eyes?"

It is humor.   Obviously, what you see with your own eyes, right there in front of you, is more believable than something someone tells you is happening, especially someone with an interest in lying to you, or at least spinning an implausible version of it.   Right?


The liberal internet  and the anti-Trump internet (i.e. Huffington Post among many) are shocked at Donald Trump allowing his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, injure a reporter and get himself charged with "battery".    

A reader may have already decided it was a typical-Trump-mysoganistic-outrage.   OK.  Many people do not like Trump, and for good reason.   You may have heard something about her being "thrown to the ground", her having been man-handled and bullied.   You have a right to your opinion.

What do you see?
So--for fun--let's look at this as a Rorschach Test.   Let's find out what you see, with your own eyes. Try to dismiss the suspicion that I am trying to convince you of something you don't want to believe.   Also try to dismiss what you have heard about it.  It is about six seconds of video.   Give yourself a chance to be your own eyewitness.

Go ahead watch it again.   I watched it a couple of times.   Decide what you saw.

Here is what I saw:

1.  a crowded moving scrum of people around Trump moving left to right.

2.  a women wearing a yellow top next to, possibly attempting to talk with, Donald Trump as he continued walking away from her.

3.  a man behind her grab her upper arm and pull her away from Trump who kept moving, which separated Trump from the woman.

4.  all participants--Trump, the woman in yellow, and the man who pulled at her--were upright, with no scuffling or apparent agitation, but after a second or so Trump had moved away from her.

From the Video: Lewandowski and the reporter
Was this a "battery", or was this light crowd-control in a jostling crowd of people?  I am not a lawyer, but two lawyers currently in my home told me that "battery" consists of unwanted touching of any kind, although "consent" to touching is a defense.   If one is standing in a busy hotel elevator and one is bumped by a woman bringing her suitcase and baby stroller into the elevator you experienced "unwanted touch" but presumably the very fact of being in an elevator implied consent to the jostling that is common.

I have been in and near candidates at the end of public appearances.   There is jostling.  Camera-people want their shots, reporters want to shout questions, fans want selfies, people want their tee shirts signed, people hold up books to autograph.   It is crowded and one is touched on multiple sides.   And sometimes the candidate is late to his next appointment so aides are pushing him along.   

By multiple instances of personal experience I would say that jostling and touching is inevitable and a bit of shoving by aides and bodyguards is common, especially with or against someone attempting to delay or monopolize the candidate.   If it had been me there in the yellow top, saying "Mr. Trump, can I ask a question and get a quick selfie, please?" I would expect to have been pulled away from him by someone.

Here are some takeaways from the video:

Liberal media.  Right now, as I type, on MSNBC I hear a discussion by commentators on the "battery" and on Trump's problem with female voters.   The event is being used by the liberal media to document a story of Trump misogyny.  They are describing brutality and bullying.  What I saw was the normal effort of staff to keep the candidate moving.

The Washington Post Description of that Video
The Washington Post is unabashedly anti-Trump, and their commentary on this is Grocho Marx-ian, telling us to believe their description of the event rather than what I, for one, think I observe.   See for yourself:     Washington post:

Trump wins.  Trump does what Trump does: double down, which strengthens his brand.   He is widely criticized by the media and by Cruz for his shocking defense of a batterer.  Trump said that Lewandowski did nothing wrong, that the videotape proves it, that the battery story was based on a dishonest police report by the woman (saying she was thrown to the ground).   Trump is showing a trait people like: defense for his team.  The implication is that he will defend America when it is falsely accused just as he is defending Lewandowski when he is falsely accused.

Backlash against hyper-correctness
Plus Trump gets in another criticism of a political correctness that is quick to claim victimhood, sort of another version of campus trigger warnings and instant-offense that makes everyone a target vulnerable to a charge of racism, sexism, or some other "ism" of offense.  She was a reporter trying to get a story from a candidate walking away from her.  Trump was doing what he had to do, keep moving.   Lewandowski was doing what he was supposed to do, get the candidate free of a delay.   

This is the real world of grown up crowd control, and now someone is claiming it is a criminal act.  If this is a criminal act then there is no safe harbor anywhere and every person who jostles or bumps into anyone anywhere, any handshake, any pat on the back, could be later defined as unwelcome,  then by definition "criminal', and people could start demanding you be fired from your job or put in prison, marriage destroyed, bankrupted,  life destroyed.   On the basis of an accusation, for doing your job of getting your candidate to his next event in one piece.   There is no stopping it.  Political correctness has gone amok, Trump says.   

Trump has found a sympathetic audience.

Hillary Clinton has a hazardous matchup for Trump on this issue.   Hillary's coalition of the discriminated against, women, Blacks, Hispanics, etc., position her inevitably as a defender of victims.   Part of Trump's appeal is that he is pushing back against that notion, saying people are crying "victim" too quickly.   

If this case goes to trial Trump may well get to testify and he could come away looking like the truth teller.   But it may depend on what people decide they see on the video tape.   Maybe people see a criminal act.  If they do, then Trump loses.

Did you see what you would define as a criminal act?

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Cruz Karma

Deflection and Hypocrisy


Two days ago I posted on Cruz karma, saying that Cruz getting trolled by Trump was payback.  Cruz sat silent while Trump said outrageous things about his their mutual opponents, so it was poetic justice--or karma--that Cruz was being outrageously and unfairly trolled by Trump.

There was an un-sourced story in the National Enquirer alleging Cruz having five affairs, full of unfair allegations.   I assumed the story was utterly untrue, but Cruz would be put in the position of denying it.   And denying it.  And denying it.   Bad for him.

Carly tries to run interference.  The press won't let her.
Many voters assume where there is smoke there is fire and "Trusted Cruz" would be damaged by having to deny it.   I had no idea that Cruz would volunteer on camera that he does not want to have sex with rodents or with Donald Trump.  Say what?!   

That was a self inflicted wound.

Ted Cruz is mortally wounded, now by direct questions being given him by the press.   He has been put into the "perjury trap" that many Republicans found so delicious when Bill Clinton was put into it and asked a direct question under oath about Monica Lewinsky.   He works desperately to avoid a direct answer. 

Watch this brief question and answer:

Guilty look.   Guilty manner.  Embarassed.
It is devastating for Cruz. 

He won't answer the question.  Carly attempts to block and run interference.   Cruz's answer is to attack the National Enquirer.   What he does NOT say is that he has not been committing adultery.

Does it matter?  Well, Ted Cruz is the campaign of righteousness.   Cruz points the finger at others, calling them compromisers and unworthy.  Cruz calls himself Trusted, spelled out in print as TRUSTED.

If Ted were to be the nominee the GOP attack on Hillary and her constituency of women was to use the Swift Boat approach:  attack at her point of strength.  (Remember, the Swift Boat attack said that medal winner and Purple Heart holder John Kerry was actually a coward in battle under fire on the Mekong River, compared to George Bush who bravely fought communism in the Alabama Air National Guard.   The brilliance of the technique is to challenge the opponent at her strength: Hillary supported women.   No!  Hillary defended Bill and hurt women.)
Now there is a reason for Heidi to have been despondent on the side of the freeway

Now Ted is being Swift Boated, being attacked at his point of strength: the TRUSTED Conservative.

Heidi is being kept out of sight so she need not answer direct questions.

It is a sad moment for people who like Ted Cruz.  

Monday, March 28, 2016

Invisible, Disperse, and Not Up Close

The Race for Delegates is Taking Place Behind the Scenes

I won't be describing it, because I cannot see it or keep track of it, but it is right now determining the Republican nominee.

There is the delegate race we see on TV, where voters or caucus attendees pick their nominee.   Then there is an allocation formula we see on TV news shows where networks put two numbers on the screen, the vote total percentages and the delegates won.

So that's that.  Right?


The delegates won are supposedly allocated to people who will go to the national convention and vote for the candidates, for example 20 to Trump, 8 to Cruz, 3 to Rubio.  There is the issue of what happens to the Rubio votes.  Are they free to switch?

 And more important is the selection of the actual delegates who are supposedly there to vote for Trump, in this example.   Those people may hold the slot dedicated to Trump, but are actually people who favor Cruz.

That is happening in real life.

Things like this are happening in multiple states

It is a wide consensus of observer opinion that Cruz is much more organized and tied to long term party officials in the state parties than is Trump.   Trump is the outsider with nothing but votes and media attention, but not local party people with long term loyalties.   A Trump supporter in Louisiana, Kay Katz described the state process to an MSNBC reporter this way:

“I do not know Mr. Trump, I do not know his staff people,” she said. “Quite frankly, we don’t have much of a campaign in Louisiana. All we have is voters.” 

If the Republican race were a landslide for Trump it would not matter.  But the Republican delegate race is likely to be close, with the actual selection coming down to who was formally pledged to vote a certain way, during which ballot, and what rules govern who is seated.   The further the process gets from voters and the more it gets into party loyalty and alliances and relationships the less good for Trump and the more good for the alternatives to Trump.
Winning at the ballot box, losing behind the scenes

Elections have legitimacy.   The people voted.   

But in fact they are voting for people who will nominate and select other people who will then go to Cleveland to vote.   That process has some legal legitimacy through the fact that supposedly each state has rules for how that process works, but the rules are changeable and they are the rules of  people who choose other people who sometimes choose yet other people who then vote: the legitimacy is the rule of backroom dealmaking, and backroom dealmaking has almost no legitimacy whatever.   Indeed, from a public opinion perspective it has negative legitimacy, a system certain to be corrupt.   People who assert that "rules are rules" will be claiming the legitimacy of "the rule of law" for a process that is understood to be dishonest: a tough sell.   

People who voted for Trump thought they were voting for Trump, not a person who actually hates Trump and loves Cruz.  If their votes are ignored, or "stolen", the words already being used in the conservative press, then the selection of a nominee will be unlikely to create unity.  Quite the opposite.

No one is covering closely what is going on in Louisiana and Arizona and the other delegate selection process because it is complicated and boring.   (I listened to the rules of the various convention delegate selection process for becoming an Oregon delegate for the Philadelphia convention myself and ran out of time and energy.)

But whether or not it is interesting or understandable or newsworthy there is a serious selection process going on right now.   It is not democratic, it has questionable legitimacy, and it will likely determine if Trump gets the votes he needs in Cleveland.  If he does, it is a Trumpian Republican Party.   If he does not then Trump may lose because delegates that Trump won on election day will in fact go to Cleveland and vote for Cruz, which I predict will create a crisis within the GOP.   

Such a crisis might be fixable if Trump were to announce that the rules are the rules and he lost fair and square by the complicated rules and that Lying Ted is an honest guy after all and everyone should unite behind Cruz.   Nothing I have observed about Trump makes me think he would do that.   

Here are a sample of news stories that describe the delegate selection process.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Signals from God: Good News for Sanders and Cruz

We Got a Sign: Bernie's The One.   Right there in front of 20,000 people.

Glenn Beck also got a sign, on behalf of Ted Cruz.   Cruz is the "Anointed One."

Witness to a miracle
Signals from the unseen spiritual world are pointing toward two candidates, both of whom are catching fire politically in the temporal world of voters, polls, and 24 hour election coverage on cable news.

Something is going on regarding Bernie Sanders.  There is huge new word of mouth excitement over his campaign.   He has charisma and star power, greater than before.  The stars are coming into alignment for him.  
A sign

He swept the states of Washington, Hawaii, and Alaska with overwhelming majorities.  And his events have become bigger and more exiting.

His events are now "an event", an exciting hot ticket.   People don't just attend.  They wait in lines for hours and text their friends while they wait.   He excites people, especially young politically active people.  People talk about him as if there is something magical and transformative, like a horse becoming a unicorn.  Only Bernie calls for something rarer and less likely than unicorns: American politics undergoing a revolution in which the government represents the interests of the middle class instead of the rich.
Crowd was amazed and delighted

There was a big event in Portland on Friday.  People looking for these things got their sign:  Bernie is The One.  

 In Portland on Friday a cute little bird found its way inside the arena, flew around a while and landed, of all places, right in front of Bernie Sanders on the lectern, then stayed put for a few seconds, long enough for the crowd to roar approval and long enough for people looking for "signs" from some unseen power to get their signal.  

It was as if Apollo sent a signal.  Or  the Biblical God sent a ram to exchange for Isaac.    The gods spoke in the way gods do, through a sign.

The Bible is full of religious signs, as is the unseen world of other religions in myth and witchcraft.  Unseen powers speak through others.  And now, when Ted Cruz really needs divine help to stop Trump and replace him as the nominee Cruz gets a spokesman, Glenn Beck.   Only actually better, since Glenn Beck is flesh and blood in the temporal world and the mere translator.  The actual message is from God Himself in response to prayer.

Beck has taken to saying that Ted Cruz has "been anointed" by God as the chosen one

Beck prayed silently and aloud, in private and with his staff and family, and God spoke to him.  "I have prayed about this man.  I have prayed about it out loud, in quiet."    And God spoke to Glenn Beck:  Ted Cruz was anointed.
Glenn Beck on his knees.  Cruz "Anointed for this Time."

Glenn Beck said: "Is it perhaps possible that just like in the Bible people were raised from birth for a specific time.  Are we really not that important enough for Him to raise someone up at this critical juncture?"

It is possible, indeed, Beck said.  Ted Cruz is God's choice.

Should anyone pay any attention to this "sign from God" stuff?   Many people take it very seriously.   It is easter today.   A great many people are in church.   Do people believe Glenn Beck gets direct guidance from God?   Apparently some do.  Millions of people listen to him every day.
People believe this:  Jesus talks through his chosen minister

It is a premise of this blog that most people on the margins of voters are the ones who determine elections: the swing voters who don't have strong party affiliation as well as people who are occasional voters and only vote sometimes.  Swing voters and voter turnout is what determines who wins or loses.   These lightly-informed voters vote on impressions, on body language, on tone, on likability, on who "seems honest", on who they think they would be willing to see on TV for 4 years, on who "makes their skin crawl".  

They are looking for cues as to whom to vote for.   A little birdie told them.  

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Ted Cruz's Multiple Affairs!

Karma Boomerang

For every force there is a reaction.   You reap what you sow.

The news is full of Ted Cruz extra-marital affairs.     

Five Extra-Marital Affairs.   Are there others????

I am reading that he had five different affairs, but only two of the women have come forward to claim it is false.   There are photographs of the women. Of course there is no way to know if the women denying the affair are lying now, trying to cover things up to protect themselves, or to protect Cruz.

Claims No Affair

Three women have not even denied it.   Of course, it takes two to have extramarital sex and Ted Cruz is claiming it is untrue.

But as Donald Trump noted, lots of other people have claimed something in the National Enquirer was untrue then were shown to be lying:  

"While they were right about OJ Simpson, John Edwards, and many others, I certainly hope they are not right about Lyin' Ted."
There is smoke.  Is there fire?

Today there is Breaking News that this is something that Marco Rubio's campaign uncovered several months ago, posted with file photos of Rubio, which makes the campaigns associated with the accusation two against one.   What is Cruz hiding?   Why won't  Ted Cruz come clean and apologize to Heidi and the American people???

  Surely people have questions on where the sex took place and whether Ted has been tested for sexually transmitted diseases.   Were there others, or were these five the only ones Cruz had sexual relations with?

Cruz hugs wife

Careful readers will notice that this whole story above is built on accusations and innuendo., including my summary of the "story."  The "story" is a series of questions.    Who would give it credence?   How could anyone justify raising the accusations this way, implying that 3 of 5 women say it is true and that the other 2 are lying, as is Cruz?  

Is it outrageous to make these accusations?  Yes.   It is also karma's boomerang, the kind of accusation that Donald Trump has been making and Ted Cruz and the conservative media-political-entertainment industry developed, nurtured, enjoyed, stayed silent,  and profited from. 

For years talk radio, Fox News, and the Republican candidates for president made or circulated outrageous claims directed at Barrack Obama and chortled at it.  Any charge directed at Obama by Trump or talk radio was OK.   Trump's various charges against Democrats and Republicans alike are interesting, and way better TV than a discussion of policy options in Libya.

Donald Trump persisted on raising "the question" of whether Obama was born in Hawaii.  It was given such credence in conservative media, who kept saying that there was "a question" that 59% of Iowa Republicans said they doubted Obama was born in the USA and was therefore a legitimate president, and fully 42% told Pew pollsters they were confident he was not born in the USA.   Did the media agree with the charge.   No.  But they enjoyed having the charge out there and were happy to keep "the question" alive.  And the main proponent of birtherism was so welcome on Fox that he was allowed to call into the show while the screen showed a photograph of Trump.   

  Claims no affair.  Is she lying?
Trump brings ratings.  Better for ratings for CNN to point a camera at an empty lectern marked "Trump" than at Bernie Sanders talking about policy--which is why CNN did exactly that.

Trump understands something very important about the conservative political-media industry: it is a business.  There are audiences to grab, books to sell.  It is not about journalism or justice, it is about ratings, and Donald Trump is good business.   He draws a giant audience.  And if your network isn't showing people what they want to watch then they will change the channel to some network that does.

It was not in the media's interest to correct any record or press Trump for evidence.   A wild accusation by Trump, especially against a Democratic target, was interesting, it built audience,  and it was politically useful to Fox.   A book industry grew up in this environment, with authors like Ann Coulter making interesting TV with outrageous comments while promoting books with titles like: Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism.   Her book was a NY Times best seller.  But the trouble with empowering a media and political celebrity is that one cannot control him.   
Fox and Friends Welcome Trump

Trump created an extraordinary political brand and a huge audience whose appetites must be fed. Ted Cruz was the beneficiary of this as Trump named then eliminated Weak Bush, Little Marco, Sociopath Carson, Zero Graham, Bridge-blocker Christie, and so on.   He traveled in the wake of Trump's destruction.

Denies a desire to have sex with Donald Trump.  What is he hiding???

But now the direction turns on to Lyin' Ted, and charges of adultery are way more interesting than disagreements over tax policy.   Fox, who now wants Anyone-But-Trump is stuck with the Trump-elephant they helped create as well as an audience that has been trained to enjoy National Enquirer type journalism.

Ted Cruz is reduced to telling reporters that he does't want to copulate either with rats or with Donald Trump.

Does Ted deserve better?  He had a full year as a candidate to say loud and clear that Trump birther-talk and accusations against Obama and his Republican opponents were nonsense, and the source was unreliable and the content was garbage.  Instead he sat back and enjoyed it.  

Now he is saying Trump is unreliable and the content "garbage."

Trump has Cruz in exactly the place he had other targets, with Cruz attempting to prove a negative, Cruz saying ("claiming") he is not an adulterer, Cruz saying the charges are false. But the subject on the table is not about Trusted Ted the Consistent Conservative.   It is:  How much of the Cruz adultery story is true, and can Ted prove it?

What seems obvious is that none of it is true, but that doesn't matter, just as it didn't matter that Trump was obviously inventing a birth certificate controversy out of nothing.  The controversy was delicious to Republicans.

Well, if it is "garbage" how come the media is so full of the question and every cable channel is covering it?   It is on TV.  There must be something to it!   Where there is smoke there must be fire, right?  Some 42% of Iowa Republicans think Obama was born in Kenya.  You reap what you sow.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Bernie Sanders in Portland

Spring in Portland, Oregon:  People stood in the rain all morning to get into the Sanders event.   He spoke to 20,000 people.

Bernie Sanders is old school socialist:  social problems derive from the economic system.  The wealthy powerful special interests have captured the political system, he says.   They get tax breaks, they break the rules, they ruin the economy, and they get away with it.    "In the past 30 years there has been a vast redistribution of wealth from the middle class to the top one tenth of one percent.   I believe we need to impose a tax on Wall Street speculation.  That tax, not a radical idea, would bring in more money than we need.   The American people bailed out Wall Street and now it is Wall Street's time to bail out the American people."

The crowd roared approval.

His chief villain are the bankers on Wall Street.   He said that after being bailed out no bankers went to jail, the largest banks who were too big to fail before are even bigger now.  They get away with murder and it isn't fair.   Meanwhile, millions of kids have been picked up for marijuana and have a criminal record they will carry the rest of their lives.   But not bankers.   They prosper and get their bonuses.

Sanders has adjusted his speech from when I first heard him back in New Hampshire in September.   He has gotten tougher and more direct in references to Hillary.   He called her out on campaign contributions from Wall Street and on her paid speeches to Goldman Sachs.    We need a revolution and people whose campaigns are funded by Wall Street and the pharmaceutical industry will not be agents of change, Bernie said. 

Sanders is old school in speaking of class struggle.   The golden rule:  he who has the gold makes the rules.

Hillary sees the world differently.  Politics isn't understandable in terms of money and economic class warfare.   People have--and sometimes vote--their economic interests but they are first of all complex social animals with identity of gender, race, religion, culture, ethnicity.  The system is unfair--just as Sanders says--but it is unfair because of subtle and unsubtle barriers some people put in front of others.   It isn't primarily unfair to women because billionaires rig the system.  The system is unfair because women are treated unfairly as women.  As are Blacks, Hispanics, gays, the disabled, etc.   Our country is in struggle of values and respect, and there are people in every economic status who are fair and people who are unfair.   Of course rich people have political power, and Citizens United have pushed that too far, Hillary says, but her objection isn't to wealth, it is to the bad, selfish values of some rich people, and then the political party they have captured and corrupted, Republicans, who keep power by pandering to the ethnic and racial tensions in voters that persist in this culturally complex world. 

Bernie says rich bankers are screwing the average American, which they do because they are rich and bankers and as such want to hang onto power.   Hillary says that Wall Street is only bad when they act excessively to protect themselves from reasonable regulation.

So, in Hillary's world view, yes billionaires like their tax benefits, but there are a lot of really good people who are billionaires and she has enjoyed their hospitality, their campaign contributions to Democrats including her, and their donations to good causes like gun control, the environment, peace, reproductive rights, gay equality.    Her villains are racists and xenophobes both rich and poor, and Republican candidates and office holders who are the agents and puppets of conservative billionaire special interests.  And, of course, the villains are the voters the right wing manipulators have pulled into their orbit by appeals to divisive social issues like abortion, gay rights, and general appeals to xenophobia and fear of immigrants and Muslims.

Hillary focuses on the barriers to advancement faced by the Democratic Party's coalition of identity groups: young people, students,  women, Latinos, Blacks, Native Americans, Gays, the indebted.  And Bernie focuses on economic class warfare.

But Bernie is changing.   Now he calls out those groups by name and grievance.   His speech starts off about money and social class warfare but the second half of the speech is about identity--Hillary's turf.   This is new and different for old school socialists.   (Traditionally old school socialists considered race, ethnicity, and religion as false markers used by the rich to distract workers from their true unity and solidarity as victims of the rich.)  Now Sanders is using those identity markers himself, just like Hillary.

His speech called out young people:   free tuition at public colleges and refinancing student debt at lower interest rates.

And women:  pay equality, reproductive rights, family leave.

And "our brothers and sisters in the Latino community":   comprehensive immigration reform, end mass deportation.

And "our black brothers and sisters": redress centuries of discrimination, end mass incarceration, and hold police accountable.

Same for Native Americans and gays.

Hillary used to be the one who scooped up all the identity group voters, especially women, Hispanics, and Blacks, and it got her nice victories in the south.   Sanders is no longer conceding identity politics to her.  

And the crowd in Portland went wild.