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The Bernie super delegate panic is based on lazy reporting — here is what’s really going on in the DNC

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As the Democrats head to Nevada, Bernie Sanders has 36 delegates, Hillary Clinton has 32, but you might not know that if you’ve been exposed to some lazy or sensational journalism suggesting that Clinton is in the lead.

Following the New  Hampshire primary, a number of outlets reported that Clinton, rather than Sanders, was ahead in the delegate race because she had secured the backing of a number of Democratic super delegates – officeholders, party activists and officials who are not bound to vote for a candidate at the party’s convention in Philadelphia. In fact, if you Google “Democratic delegates,” this graphic appears:

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 2.12.29 PM

And while that storyline plays well with Sanders supporters who have a deep distrust of the party establishment, it’s also complete bullshit – and the last thing anyone should be worried about as we head to the third state on the primary calendar.

There are 712 Democratic super delegates. While they’re free to back whomever they choose at the convention, an Associated Press survey conducted in November found that 359 of them “planned” on supporting Clinton. Only eight said they’d support Sanders. But to count them as Clinton delegates at this stage is putting the cart before the horse in the most ridiculous way.

It’s highly unlikely that they will come into play in the first place. If Sanders were to arrive at the convention with a majority of bound delegates, but fewer than the 2,382 needed to secure the nomination, it’s hard to imagine the super delegates would dare to buck the will of Democratic primary voters by swinging the count to Clinton’s favor.

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David Karol, a professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland and author of The Party Decides: Presidential Nominations Before and After Reform, told me that “there is no historical evidence that super delegates have the backbone to go against a candidate who is leading the primary and caucus voting.” Karol notes that the mere suggestion this might happen became a scandal in 2008. “As a party scholar, I am all for super delegates as an institution,” says Karol, “but it’s really unclear whether they retain the legitimacy to do much of anything.” He notes that the only time super delegates played a meaningful role in selecting a nominee was in 1984, when they put Mondale over the top. But, he notes, Mondale “was well ahead of his rivals and that was a long time ago.”

Some Sanders supporters are convinced that the super delegates backing Hillary Clinton made some sort of corrupt deal with the Devil. They see it as evidence that the game is rigged. But people only become super delegates because they have a longstanding affinity for, and loyalty toward the Democratic Party. Some may be total hacks, but they’re party hacks, and that makes them unlikely candidates to completely rip apart the Democratic coalition for a generation or two, which would be the only possible result of these unelected delegates overturning the will of primary voters. They share a common sense of duty to the best interests of the institution.

It is no doubt true that many of them feel a sense of loyalty to the Clintons. But it doesn’t follow that they’d effectively become political suicide bombers because of that loyalty. They want to beat the Republican nominee in November, and those who hold elected office also want to be re-elected. The worst way to accomplish either goal would be to create a massive scandal within the Democratic Party just months before the election. The super delegates aren’t going to destroy the party from within just because they prefer one candidate over the other.

It’s also true that many of the super delegates who endorsed Clinton did so because they believe that she’s the better candidate for the general election. But that view isn’t set in stone. If the unlikely scenario in which Sanders comes into the convention with more bound delegates but not enough to secure the nomination came to pass, something significant will have happened to shift the nature of the race between now and then. And whatever that something might be, the fact that Sanders was ahead would mean that many of those super delegates would no longer be confident that Hillary is the superior candidate. They’re not crazy. They’re party activists.

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One interesting thing about this brouhaha is that it shows how quickly Americans have come to expect  that primaries should be decided through a transparent democratic process. The reality is that for around the first 200 years of our history, people took it for granted that party insiders would choose their parties’ nominees, and only expected the general election to be decided by the people.

It was only following the chaos of the 1968 Democratic National Convention that binding primaries and caucuses became a universal feature of our political landscape. The super delegates are a legacy of that shift – after the parties reformed their nomination processes, some felt that they had lost too much control. So in 1982, the Democratic Party adopted a resolution that set aside some delegates for party insiders in order to re-establish the party’s influence over who would become its standard-bearer.

But ultimately, it’s the widespread expectation that the choice of nominee will reflect the will of the voters that makes a super delegate coup so unlikely. They can back whomever they want according to the party’s rules, but it would be a huge violation of the prevailing norms. And that’s why it’s the last thing voters should be worrying about.

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Trump was ready to ‘blow up everything’: Biographer Michael Wolff on why Mueller didn’t indict

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It is not an easy task to discern the truth when confronting a president and his allies who have created their own reality, one in which truth and lies have no absolute meaning and are, for them, ultimately interchangeable.

Donald Trump does this on a personal level: he has lied at least 10,000 times while president.

During his recent interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, Donald Trump continued to lie in public, asserting that he did not try to fire special sounsel Robert Mueller. As multiple sources and witnesses agree, this is not true. Trump also asserted that he can do anything that he wants, according to the Constitution: He apparently believes he is a king or emperor. This too is a lie. The Constitution grants the president no such powers, and was drafted by the framers to stop demagogues and would-be tyrants such as Donald Trump.

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2020 Election

CNN panel destroys Trump’s mass arrest threat of millions as a wildly unrealistic Orlando rally stunt

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The panel on CNN's New Day cast a jaundiced eye at a threat Donald Trump made on Monday night where he threatened mass arrests of millions of immigrant families as part of an ICE operation.

On Twitter, the president wrote: "Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States. They will be removed as fast as they come in. Mexico, using their strong immigration laws, is doing a very good job of stopping people."

According to one panelist on CNN, the president's threat was timed as a political stunt, with the contributor Jackie Kucinich calling it "rally-fodder" before his Orlando campaign kickoff.

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Trump’s ‘no collusion’ lie is finally falling apart — but will Americans actually notice?

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Although the Mueller Report has been in the public domain for nearly two months, there’s still a ton of confusion and disinformation around it. The confusion is specifically due to two things: Very few voters have actually read it, and Donald Trump is delighted to exploit that fact. It doesn’t help that Robert Mueller has been more than a little cryptic about his findings — refusing to answer questions or to appear for congressional testimony to clear the air.

Consequently, the president and his Red Hat loyalists continue to repeat the “NO COLLUSION!' lie with very little push-back. The all-caps falsehood gains momentum every time Trump repeats it. Likewise, Bill Barr’s March 24 letter and his subsequent public remarks erroneously confirmed Trump’s lie before anyone, including Congress, was allowed to actually read the report.

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