S3E35:Democratic debate: Syria! Guns and Drugs!

On today’s podcast we discussed the topics brought up at last Tuesday’s 2020 democratic debate.  On tap was a continued discussion on Syria and the withdrawal of US troops from that country.

Then the candidates discussed guns where the murder of Atiatiana Jefferson came up thanks to Julian Castro.

I was very impressed with Andrew Yang’s direct talk about how he would handle the drug epidemic in rural areas.  Not so much for Senator Amy Klobuchar.

Listen to the debate below:

Mayor Pete moves up in Iowa

The south bend mayor has seen his fortunes go up in a recent poll in Iowa.  I expect it to be a debate performance bounce. But what is interesting is who is he taking votes from?  According to USA Today – it’s Joe Biden:

Biden, long viewed as the Democratic frontrunner, is faltering in the wake of a debate performance last week that those surveyed saw as disappointing.

The poll, taken Wednesday through Friday, put Biden at 18%, Warren at 17% and Buttigieg at 13% among 500 likely Democratic caucusgoers.

Those standings reflect significant changes since the Suffolk/USA TODAY poll taken in Iowa at the end of June, when Biden led Warren by double digits and Buttigieg trailed at a distant 6%. California Sen. Kamala Harris, who was then in second place after a strong showing in the first Democratic debate, has plummeted 13 percentage points and is now in a three-way tie for sixth. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders earned 9% support, the same number as in the June poll.

Drug deal reached

Earlier today the three major drug manufacturers and one opioid manufacturer struck a $260 million dollar settlement deal with a couple of Ohio counties.   The deal would help them avoid a federal trial involving opioid drug addiction set to begin Monday.

The deal, which is a combination of cash payouts and donations of addiction treatments, could become a model for settlement of thousands of similar cases brought in an attempt to hold the pharmaceutical industry accountable for an epidemic of addiction that has killed hundreds of thousands of Americans.

In the settlement, the drug distributors — McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen, which distribute about 90 percent of all the medicines to pharmacies, hospitals and clinics in the United States — agreed to pay $215 million to the two Ohio counties that brought the lawsuit. Teva, the Israel-based manufacturer of generic drugs, agreed to pay $20 million in cash over three years and donate $25 million worth of addiction treatment drugs such as a generic Suboxone, which blunts cravings for opioids.

Sanders weighs in

After getting a much needed endorsement over the weekend, Bernie Sanders weighed into the back and forth with Tulsi Gabbard and Hillary Clinton.  Mrs. Clinton called the congresswoman from Hawaii a Russian asset and mused that Putin was grooming her for an independent run at the white house.

Gabbard struck back calling her a warmonger (although I cannot think of a single war started by the former secretary of state).   Now Bernie has come to the aid of Gabbard tweeting:

Tulsi Gabbard has put her life on the line to defend this country. People can disagree on issues, but it is outrageous for anyone to suggest that Tulsi is a foreign asset.— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) October 21, 2019

Gabbard has confirmed she will not run an independent presidential campaign if she does not get the nomination (perhaps that’s what Clinton was looking for).  Clinton’s accusations aside, there has been reporting Russians online have been trying to support the Iraq war vet’s campaign.

And “high-level democrats” have been questioning her campaign for some time.  From The Atlantic:

These are people who have been wary since Gabbard became a Fox News favorite for criticizing Obama’s foreign policy. They believed that their distrust was vindicated when Steve Bannon brought her in for a meeting with then-president-elect Donald Trump just two weeks after the 2016 election, which was one of Trump’s first meetings with a Democrat. To this group, Gabbard looks like Jill Stein, who also talked about progressive politics and peace, but whose 2016 Green Party run was, to them, a self-centered campaign that blew a crucial hole in Hillary Clinton’s chances, eating up money and getting Russian support along the way.

RT, the Kremlin-backed news agency, often highlights Gabbard’s campaign. The Russian embassy in South Africa has tweeted defensively about her, Russian bots have boosted her, and neo-Nazis bragged about helping her small-donor count so she could qualify for the first two debates. (She fell just a few polls short of qualifying for the September debate, but might make the stage once again in October.)

Theories I’ve heard from top Democrats include that Gabbard is trying to get a TV show—“I already know which network: Fox,” one senior Democrat not affiliated with any campaign said, speaking anonymously to remain publicly neutral—and that she’s gearing up for a Trump-benefiting third-party run. “Green Party. Willing to take bets on this,” Center for American Progress President Neera Tanden tweeted last week after Gabbard appeared on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show to trash the Democratic National Committee because she hadn’t qualified for the September debate. Gabbard later tweeted the clip with the banner “No transparency = no trust.”

UPDATE: 10/23: The History of Court Packing

As mentioned in the podcast, the idea of Court packing has been tried before. FDR, after the great depression, tried to pass through a series of progressive laws that the conservative court struck down.

History.com highlights those actions in a post called How FDR tried to Pack The Court. The difference between then and now is the people are behind the idea of adding justices to the Supreme Court.

Make no mistake there is a rich history in adding seats to the Court and it is constitutional. But what may be instructive for us today is how this whole thing ended. From History.com:

Hoffer says historians disagree about what happened next. Some argue that Justice Owen Roberts had shifted in his opinion of the New Deal before the election, giving later New Deal acts like social security, the National Labor Relations Act and other economic regulations his vote on the Court. That shifted the majority to favor federal welfare and regulatory enactments. Others contend that the threat of adding justices to the Court was enough to swing Roberts’ vote.

In the end, Perry says, two members of the Court switched to a pro-New Deal position, known as “the switch in time that saved nine.”

“And FDR eventually packed the Court the old-fashioned way,” she says, “through attrition, naming nine members.”