Day 86: 8/14/19

On Wednesday, Michael Bennet launched a book with a truly attention-grabbing email, Julian Castro was clapping back at Trump, and while Bernie Sanders kept his subject shorter, he doubled down in his email length.

Kirsten Gillibrand continues to ignore her existing donors. It’s been 23 days…

Kamala Harris papered my inbox with her emails today, sending me 3 in twenty-four hours. She was followed by Michael Bennet, Joe Biden, Kirsten Gillibrand, Tim Ryan, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren all with 2 each.

Cory Booker likes to spread the love.

While most candidates were still interested in money, including Cory Booker asking me to split a donation between himself and J.D. Scholten, the man running against Steve King in Iowa, I had an unusually high amount of merch plugs. Jay Inslee had one final day of his free spec sticker (and I hear he hit his 120,000 donor goal, just 10,000 more to go!). Kamala Harris reminded me that her bus sticker was free, totally free, and didn’t even ask for a donation. Joe Biden had another 10% off code to his merch store, though he didn’t claim this one was exclusive (AVIATORS10 if you’re interested, he thinks his shirts will look great on us).

The real entertainment of the day was Michael Bennet plugging his new book. It’s called Dividing America: How Russia Hacked Social Media and Democracy and his email was… memorable.

That 125 is very outdated.

Caught your attention, didn’t it? Who doesn’t love a good bobblehead?

The website is very real, and it redirects to a page on Bennet’s campaign website. In exchange for your email, you can download a free digital copy of the book for your e-reader, or you can donate $35+ to get a physical copy mailed to you. You can also, as depicted above, donate anything to Bennet to get him to send a copy to Mitch McConnell. As of this writing, 1,949 copies have been sent. There are also examples of the sort of memes and ads Russians used to influence the election and plenty of links to get more information about Bennet.

Regardless of how you think or feel about Bennet, this is a much more exciting way to get his name out there. It’s really too bad that it only went to his mailing list, which I’d imagine isn’t very big. Like I was saying about Steve Bullock in yesterday’s post, the successful candidate is one that catches the imagination of Americans. Bennet pulled in nearly 2,000 donations through this page in 24 hours, and all it took was some bobbleheads and a book.

Nobody was happy to the point of being optimistic

I read yesterday that you can tell by a campaign’s tone how their internal polling is going. Winning campaigns are happy. Losing campaigns are angry. Many emails yesterday did fall into the “happy” category, but happy is not quite the same as optimistic. Optimistic, on this blog, requires an overall active excitement about the future with positive verbs such as building, growing, engaging, or “we will win!” or “We can do this!” A lot of emails were borderline optimistic, but when in doubt, I default to neutral.

Any campaign that emails me with the words “good news” and “bad news” (or “less than good news”) is immediately put into the Mixed category. On Wednesday, that was Bernie Sanders. The good news: 2.5 million contributions for the campaign in total. The less good news: the average contribution has gone done, from $27 in 2016 to $19 overall and $16 in Q2.

The low donation amount is obviously a source of great pride for us, but if we are going to keep pace with some of our rivals — and we must — we either need more individual contributions, or even just slightly larger donations.

Not much higher. Like, normally we ask people making their first online contribution to give $2.70. But with so many donations, even a $5 first contribution from people would put us in terrific shape.

Faiz Shakir, Campaign Manager, Bernie 2020

This campaign is powered by the people, but the people are broke.

I have to laugh. I really have to. Sanders makes such a huge to-do about not taking money from the people who can actually afford to give money, and then he flounders because the people who can’t afford to give much aren’t giving as much as he needs. I really don’t know what else he was expecting.

He still, as I need to remind everyone every time he cries about not having enough money, has the most cash-on-hand out of all other Democrats in the primary thus far (except probably Tom Steyer, who hasn’t released any FEC filings yet).

Kamala Harris and Joe Biden were the two pessimistic campaigns on Wednesday. For two supposed front-runners, they certainly are worried. In fact, Biden’s first email of the day had the subject “we’re worried”.

In our August survey, over 95% of our supporters said that defeating Donald Trump is THE most important thing.

And we know Joe is the best candidate to do just that. But here’s what we’re up against:

Trump’s campaign raised $12 million in one day — but we have a plan to fight back:

We’re setting a goal of 20,000 new grassroots contributions before Saturday at midnight. Every dollar will go toward defeating Donald Trump.

Will you chip in now? The only way we can hit this goal and go toe to toe with Donald Trump is if we have all hands on deck:

Team Joe

This was considered pessimistic because while it had bad news–Trump is out-raising us–it wasn’t reassuring that we were definitely going to hit that goal. Considering that I didn’t donate in response, the “win” situation here (“only way we can hit this goal…is if we have all hands on deck”) has failed.

Harris had a very similar message:

I can’t wait to head back to the Hawkeye state soon, but right now I’m focused on a pressing issue: my team tells me we’re not on pace to reach our mid-month fundraising goal right now.

We have a lot of ground to cover if we’re going to keep our campaign in position to win this primary. And that means we have to reach this goal. So I’m turning to you for help:

Can you add another donation before our mid-month fundraising deadline on Friday? If you chip in today, we can close the gap quicker than you think, but it will only be possible if lots of grassroots donors like you pitch in what they can:

Kamala Harris

Again, we’re not on track to reach our goal, the only way it’s possible is if people like you pitch in. And then I didn’t pitch in. At least with Harris, her success isn’t banking on me specifically the way Biden’s was.

One campaign whose tone was neither optimistic nor pessimistic, but more like “smug” was Julian Castro.

Over the past week, Castro’s brother, Joaquin, tweeted a list of San Antonians who maxed out donations to Donald Trump and expressed his disappointment in them. This sparked outrage and was seen as intimidation… except all of this data was publicly available on

If you donate more than $200 to a candidate or political cause (and not necessarily all in one lump sum), they are required by law to make your information public. Most of the time, the public doesn’t bother searching for it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there.

Trump fired back at Joaquin via tweet, calling him “the lesser brother of a failed presidential candidate (1%)” and saying he was not the man his brother is, but his brother, “according to most, is not much.”

Julian Castro has been using this tweet to go on the attack against Trump ever since, declaring it a personal attack on himself (and his family, usually as an afterthought). On Tuesday, he announced his first ever TV ad in response to Trump, and on Wednesday, he told me that it was very expensive and I should donate to keep it running.

I don’t like Trump. I had to grit my teeth just to quote him here. And maybe my bias against Castro is showing as well, but…

Donald Trump personally attacked me.
He smeared my family.
He denigrated my community.
I won’t let his hateful attacks go unanswered.
I just launched the first TV ad of my entire campaign to send this racist president a crystal-clear message: 

When you refer to countries as “shitholes”…
When you call immigrants rapists…
When you come after our communities with your toxic, hateful message…
We will always — ALWAYS — rise to the occasion to shut you down.

Julian Castro

To me, Castro almost seems excited that Trump finally attacked him so he can swing back. Like Joe Biden, like Bill de Blasio (at the start of his campaign), like Amy Klobuchar, this message feels more about “Look at how I’m so much of a ____ person than Trump!” (tougher, smarter, stronger, etc.)

Look how hard I can hit him!

I don’t want another bully in the White House.

I don’t care if the next bully would agree with me on things like people are people regardless of the color of their skin, their gender, or their home country, and all people deserve basic levels of respect and dignity. If they’re a bully, I don’t want them representing me. I don’t want to drag more filth through the White House by getting into a mud wrestling match with Donald Trump.

Yes, Trump needs to be called out and smacked down. Yes, it feels good to watch people attack him for his vile behavior. Yes, I think there is a place for those people in our country.

But not in the White House. We need to be better than that. We need our leader to be better than that.

None really should be “Other.”

Not all the campaigns were focused on Trump on Wednesday. Several were looking at Tom Steyer with nervousness: Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Steve Bullock all referenced their opponent with billions of dollars at his disposal. And while a lot of campaigns were asking for money, they weren’t always asking in a way that fit nicely with the other topic options. Pete Buttigieg, for example, sent emails asking for more donors to help his campaign grow. It wasn’t so much about fundraising as it was just building a bigger and steadier donor base: to my donor account, he asked if I could become a monthly donor, stating he was looking for 150 new reoccurring donors from my state, and to my non-donor account, he asked if I’d give my first donation, stating he was looking for 5,000 new donors from my state. Joe Biden’s merch advertisement also fell into that category, as did Michael Bennet’s second book email in which he had testimonials about the content of his book from prominent Democratic women, including Hillary Clinton.

The longest “None” email came from Bernie Sanders. He started with the shortest subject he’d ever written: “The media.”

I read that subject and braced myself. Sanders has been in the news a lot lately for implying The Washington Post gave him poor coverage because his plans were bad for WaPo’s owner, Jeff Bezos, owner of Amazon. I was not looking forward to a rant about how the media was out to get him.

Much to my surprise, that wasn’t exactly what Sanders was talking about. (I have cut out large portions of the following email and indicated where I did with ellipses (…))

But even more important than much of the corporate media’s dislike of our campaign is the fact that much of the coverage in this country portrays politics as entertainment, and largely ignores the major crises facing our communities.

In fact, what I have learned from experience is that, as a general rule of thumb, the more important the issue is to large numbers of working people, the less interesting it is to the corporate media…

…Or if the conversation does happen with any depth, it is almost always framed in conservative terms and talking points — or the ostensibly Democratic viewpoint shared by moderates from the party…

…And what we have to ask ourselves is why.

Why is it that the corporate media sees politics as entertainment and largely ignores the major crises facing our country and how candidates are addressing those crises?

And the answer lies, in fact, with something that is very rarely discussed, and certainly not in the media: and that is that the corporate media is owned by a small number of large media conglomerates.

In 1983 the largest fifty corporations controlled 90 percent of the media. That’s a high level of concentration.

Today, as a result of massive mergers and takeovers, only a few large corporations like Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, Fox, Disney, Viacom, and CBS control the vast majority of what we see, hear, and read. And there is news that Viacom and CBS want to merge next.

This is outrageous, and a real threat to our democracy.

Because in case you haven’t heard, these corporations have an agenda that serves their bottom line…

…Now I could be wrong, but I don’t expect that you will see programming tonight on ABC discussing the plight of low-wage workers here in the United States or, for that matter, in China.

But if you do watch TV tonight, check out how many ads come from drug companies, insurance companies, the fossil fuel industry, Wall Street, and the rest of corporate America. They even ran ads targeting Medicare for All during the CNN presidential debate.

These powerful corporations also have an agenda, and you can be sure it isn’t our agenda.

Now, Donald Trump thinks that media in America is the “Enemy of the people.”
To me, that is an outrageous remark from a president which has the purpose of undermining American democracy.

Because the truth is, a knowledgeable and informed electorate is essential to a working democracy, and the work of journalists in this country and abroad is absolutely critical to our communities and to maintaining a free society.

Bernie Sanders

Yes, that is the shorter version of Sanders’ email, with specific examples and talk about how his campaign is covered cut out for brevity.

Sanders makes a very valid point that is being lost in the “media conspiracy” narrative. The media tells stories, because stories sell. They tell interesting stories. They try to push candidates into the narratives for optimal drama. For an example, just look at the July debates. So many questions were framed as “X, Y said this bad thing about something you support. What do you have to say about that?” They were deliberately trying to set up conflict between the candidates to increase the drama, and many of the candidates struggled against that narrative (though some did embrace it).

And Sanders is correct: most of the media is ultimately controlled by very few companies and very few people. Even local news can be owned and controlled by these corporations. And yes, many of these owners claim that they do not influence the reporting or news coming out of their companies… but who would say that they do? And who would look into it if they are?

I’m not saying there’s a conspiracy against Sanders, but there is a definite problem with companies merging that really shouldn’t. Some candidates have come out with plans and proposals that when mergers are proposed, the default position needs to be “this will be bad for Americans,” and it will be on the companies merging to prove that it will not before the merger can go through. It’s definitely a start.

This blog is sponsored entirely by Ko-fi donations from readers like you and the ads WordPress chooses to scatter around in exchange for giving me free hosting. If you don’t like a specific ad (I hear I get a lot of pro-Trump ones), there is a “Report this ad” link very faintly near each ad, usually by the bottom-right corner.

Jay Inslee is one away from triple-digits!

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