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I wonder if any readers share my concerns about what has happened in the Democratic campaign, so far. Was anyone upset that Bernie got the most votes in Iowa but mayor Pete got the most delegates? Didn't something like that happen in 2016? Why so little mention of it in Democratic circles this month? How many share my upset that the corporate "liberal media" are growing more pro-Trump as the voters grow more pro-Bernie?

Where Democratic Candidates Stand

In this column, I offer my own preferences for candidates, as we move toward Super Tuesday. I was both excited and appalled by the Feb. 19 debate. I hope that it clarified the distinctions between candidates. I won't follow the popular pattern of counting down to the ultimate choice. I start with my first choice and move down explaining my declining preferences.

These candidates are our ONLY choices. There is NO "3rd party" choice. Any choice to "sit this one out" or vote 3rd party is, in actuality, a choice to support the re-election of the orange messiah. If you support the Donald's re-election, stand up and say so. Don't waste everyone's time by pretending that your "3rd party" vote is some kind of "statement." If you vote in a way that helps re-elect the Donald, your statement is that you want to continue with the Republican Party march away from Americanism.

Elizabeth Warren:  I have been a Warren supporter almost since she announced. Yes, I am attracted to her law professor thinking, her reliance on facts and logic. But at least important for me is her work, both before and after becoming a Senator, to promote consumer and financial rights.

While "socialists" and other corporate-skeptic folks (like me) write about the problems and evils of corporate oligarchy, Warren stepped out and tried to take on those problems.

While "socialists" and other corporate-skeptic folks (like me) write about the problems and evils of corporate oligarchy, Warren stepped out and tried to take on those problems. In her Senate career, Warren has been an indefatigable warrior against the forces that strive to wreak financial havoc on all but the far upper classes. She understands the reality of middle- and lower- class finances and problems.

No, Warren doesn't have any better foreign policy chops than any of the other candidates. Which is to say that she has far better education, skills, knowledge, and temperament for the job than the current president. The Donald now has more than three years of foreign policy experience. The result? A destroyed international reputation for our nation; Renting our troops as mercenaries to the anti-Christian, wahabi Saudi government for its war of conquest on Yemen; and complete rejection of what the rest of the world sees as "science." Could Warren ever be that bad?

Bernie Sanders: People are whining that Michael Bloomberg is a "narcissist" trying to buy the presidency. But is there really any candidate in the race as narcissistic as Sanders? He is so self-important that I want to puke. ALMOST as bad as the Donald. But listening to what he says about policy, getting past his "my way or the highway" inflexibility, and learning to ignore both the Trump campaigners imbedded into the Sanders campaign and the millennial hero-worshippers, the reality is that Sanders is simply campaigning for the U.S. to join the rest of the industrialized world in the 21st Century.

The whole "socialist" label is a pointless distraction that can be weaponized against Sanders. What a terrible shame. The U.S. is a largely socialized nation already. We pour BILLIONS of dollars into corporate subsidies for all manner of things. Our entire infrastructure is a monument to the effectiveness of socialist planning (then built by lavish grants to for-profit corporations). The V.A. gave us a start on socialized medicine, and the vast majority of veterans in need of care prefer V.A. care to any private, for-profit care. Medicare has proven that socialized healthcare can be better, cheaper and more popular than any other form.

But instead of hammering attention on what socialism exists now, and actually benefits people, Sanders drones on about how great the label is, rather than the substance. That sets him up for attacks. That excites acolytes who want the label sloganeering, without the hard work of governing.

If Sanders would acknowledge and promote the amount of socialism we already have, as models of how socialism could achieve some of his goals, he'd be much more persuasive, beyond the base that he has attracted. IF he becomes the nominee, perhaps some of his supporters will take the opportunity to place him in the mainstream of our already socialist nation, instead of constantly wallowing in "outsider" fantasy paradise.

Joe Biden: I have never been a Biden supporter. He always strikes me as too mainstream, too "establishment." But I am really outraged to hear other Democrats mouthing Republican talking points about Biden.

Joe Biden has always been a bad public speaker. Look back at his history - the attacks on his verbal bungles and obvious plagiarisms started when he first started campaigning for any office. He isn't "losing it" in recent years. He's just being "Joe."

And what "just being Joe" means is being a very effective legislator. While we lament the dysfunctional, polarized Congress, too many people condemn Biden precisely because he has a history of working "across the aisle." And while Biden may rightly be criticized for being too supportive of all the corporations that call Delaware "home," Biden has honestly won the support of union workers and the black community, with his decades of congressional work that benefited those people. (And they ARE people, not just "interest groups" to be courted or ignored as needed.)

Michael Bloomberg: Yes, "the billionaire" ahead of either Buttigieg or Klobuchar. I don't like billionaires any more than anyone else does (wish I could be one, though). A lot of people glommed onto the Donald in 2016 simply because he claimed to be a billionaire. I think that it is just as fatuous to dismiss Bloomberg because he is a billionaire.

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Billionaires come in different flavors. There are the Koch, Scafie, Mellon types and the Soros type. Not knowing any of them, I expect that they are as complex humans as the rest of us. Tens of thousands of middle-class Americans dote on every word of Warren Buffet, and have prospered by his investing example. That is the same Warren Buffet who owns Wells Fargo Bank and approved the fake account creation scam that recently earned the bank a $3 BILLION dollar banking fraud penalty. The same Warren Buffet who has decades of history of anti-consumer insurance scams undergirding his investment empire.

Bloomberg undoubtedly has some bad looking skeletons in his numerous closets. So did Al Franken. We all lost a strong, effective progressive voice when we drove Al Franken from office, and replaced him with a more conservative voice. I fear that a lot of the facile, and often out-of-context, comments about Bloomberg's less attractive actions and beliefs are distracting voters from the substance of his policies and proposals.

Pete Buttigieg: I doubt that Americans will vote for a married gay man as president. In 2008, I doubted that Americans would vote for a black man as president. Maybe American voters are more open-minded than I give them credit for.

But Buttigieg is a small city mayor, with what appears to be a small, Midwestern city devotion to established ways of doing things. He, with Amy Klobuchar, wants to claim that America is the greatest, but that for some, always unexplained, reasons, it is beyond our greatness to be able to join the rest of the industrialized world in providing healthcare to all its residents.

Buttigieg seems to think that "capitalism" and "capitalists" can solve all of our problems. He doesn't see that capitalism only thrives when built on a socialist infrastructure base. If you read this column online, you are reading through the service provided by a for-profit service provider that uses a government-developed and maintained internet. If you plug your computer into the wall, or charge your cell phone or tablet at a wall outlet, you are using electricity delivered to you only because the government guarantees the for-profit power lines.

Serving in a war zone, even as an "intelligence analyst" does not provide a footing on which to build foreign policy experience or thinking.

I think being gay gives Buttigieg cache with a lot of people who see him as edgy, new-age, "the future." And he has a facile, smooth presentation style, far from the verbal stumbles of Biden. But his smooth presentation and practiced, polished rejoinders are less about factual accuracy than about scoring points. Far, far better than the Donald. But no where near forward looking. No thanks.

Amy Klobuchar: We have a president who is brutal in his treatment of his own loyal staff and friends. His temper tantrums lead to actions that show no signs of being thought out, or even briefly considered, before being taken. We don't need to replace his heavy handed, impetuous, often counter-productive rantings with a "Democrat" who acts the same.

Before she ran for Senate, people who worked for Klobuchar the attorney and state politician, reported that her office manner was to put blame on subordinates, and to try to manage her office through intimidation and retribution. Reports say she brought the same style to her Senate office. We do not need more of that behavior in a president.

The president has to deal complex cultural and personal relationships, on both domestic and international matters. Even without considering her near-Republican politics on every major issue, Klobuchar's heavy-handed style disqualifies her from the White House.

That's my take on the candidates who still qualify for the TV debates. I think that the mix explains the Democratic ambivalence on what should be a central issue in the campaign - healthcare. Everyone agrees that we need healthcare reform. Even the Donald promised to deliver "better coverage at lower cost" in his 2016 campaign.

But of all the Democratic candidates, only Bernie Sanders is cutting to the chase. No matter what reform plan is pursued, Medicare for all or something preserving (socialistically) guaranteed profits for insurance companies, the reality is that EVERY other industrialized nation on the planet, and many "lesser" nations, provide healthcare for all their residents, and always at lower cost (and higher quality) than our healthcare system.

The reality is that if we are the greatest, then we can do what "lesser" countries do. But the Republican Party position is that we are simply unable to provide for our people as well as those "lesser" nations. And Buttigieg and Klobuchar both agree with the Republicans.

Tragically, the other Democrats are bogging down in nuance and detail, thus allowing the Republican lie, that we are not as capable as other industrialized nations, to prevail. But we are as capable. We have centuries of innovation, creative thinking and fighting for civil rights. Healthcare is a civil right. We can fight for it. We can win that fight.

Tom Hall

Tom Hall

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