- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 12, 2017


They refuse to give up on Sen. Bernie Sanders: Former staffers and campaign workers are determined that the 75-year-old Vermont independent and self-described socialist step back into the political fray. Behold, it’s “Draft Bernie for a People’s Party,” a fierce new organization still fixated on the man who rattled the 2016 election with progressive populism.

“The candidates for Democratic National Committee chairman have been meeting with billionaire donors at fancy retreats to discuss the future of the Democratic Party and our country. Grass-roots activists and working people were not invited. How can we free our government from the influence of the oligarchs without even challenging their mechanisms of political control?” asks Nick Brana, founder of the group and former political outreach director for Mr. Sanders’ presidential campaign.

A slick new website is up and running. Fundraising apparatus is in place, and the group is now conducting its own survey. A petition to draft Mr. Sanders instantly drew over 12,000 signatures. Mr. Brana, meanwhile, is consulting recent Gallup Poll data that indicate “a remarkable exodus from the Democratic Party since the presidential election,” he says — almost 20 percent.

“The people are leading the way to an independent alternative. Imagine if instead of struggling against the populist progressive current, we swam with it and created a new party to represent the working majority?” Mr. Brana observes. “Lobbying the superdelegates for Bernie taught me that the Democratic Party sees progressives as worse than Republicans. They would rather lose than allow a progressive to rise to the presidency.”

The group faces an interesting dynamic, however. Attuned to the 2018 midterm elections, the Libertarian and Green parties, plus an emerging “liberal tea party,” also hope to woo disenchanted Democrats.


White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller earned his keep Sunday, appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” NBC’s “Meet the Press,” ABC’s “This Week” and “Face the Nation” on CBS in the space of two hours. Mr. Miller did a lot of heavy, effective lifting. Two examples:

“The president of the United States has accomplished more in just a few weeks than many presidents accomplish in an entire administration. You’ve seen, for instance, profound regulatory reform. For every one new regulation, two must go. You’ve seen ethics reforms to drain the swamp,” Mr. Miller told CBS moderator John Dickerson. “You’ve seen efforts to bring back jobs with Intel and Ford and General Motors. You’ve seen action taken with an executive order to go after criminal cartels that have plagued our cities for years with no effective response. On issue after issue, we’re taking forceful action to deliver on the president’s campaign promises on a breathtaking scale.”

And to questions posed by NBC moderator Chuck Todd regarding immigration, Mr. Miller had this to say:

“We should have a program in which American workers are given jobs first. The president campaigned on this; it’s an issue where the labor unions agree with us. It’s an issue where many Democratic members of Congress agree with us. If you have an open job in this country, a U.S. citizen or existing legal permanent resident ought to have the ability to make the first application for that job. The problem is in the way the media covers this issue — that they don’t spend enough time talking about the well-being of the 300 million people here today — the U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents, many of whom are living in poverty, many of whom who haven’t seen wage growth in 20 or 30 years. And it’s time we talked about them — their needs, their families and their concerns. And yes, we’ll have a lawful immigration system. It will enrich and benefit our country.”


Sooner or later President Trump and Russia President Vladimir Putin must have a face-to-face meeting. But where? According to veteran columnist Andrew Malcolm, the powerful pair are going to have a rendezvous in Slovenia, the idea proposed from the man in charge of the potential host nation.

“Meeting with Putin at the Kremlin on Friday, Slovenian President Borut Pahor issued the invitation, which Putin called an ‘excellent’ location for his initial encounter with the new American leader,” Mr. Malcolm writes in Townhall.com, noting that Slovenia was also the site of the first meeting between President George W. Bush and Mr. Putin in 2001.

“Possibly the coolest reason for the Russian-US rendezvous in Slovenia is that it’s Melania Trump‘s homeland where she was educated and grew up. Slovene is one of five languages spoken by the new first lady,” Mr. Malcolm points out.


The National Retail Federation reports that Americans will spend $18.2 billion on Valentine’s Day. Ninety percent will buy something nice for their spouse or significant other, 53 percent for family members or their children, and 20 percent for friends.

The furred, feathered, finned and scaled friends have not been forgotten — 20 percent of Americans will also get something for their pets.


Best-selling author Bill Gertz — a Washington Times columnist and longtime friend of Inside the Beltway — has a new book out, and will celebrate that fact Monday. Fans and friends will gather at the tallest office building in the D.C. region, just over the bridge from the nation’s capital in Arlington.

Mr. Gertz’s new book — his seventh — is called “iWar: War and Peace in the Information Age,” published by Threshold Editions, the conservative imprint of Simon & Schuster.

“America is at war, but most of its citizens don’t know it. Covert information warfare is being waged by world powers, rogue states — such as Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea — and even terrorist groups like ISIS. This conflict has been designed to defeat and ultimately destroy the United States,” warns Mr. Gertz, who offers methods to counter this “nonkinetic warfare” — the cyberattacks, media warfare, disinformation, legal maneuvers and other tactics that don’t produce the physical damage that traditional arms and weaponry do.


55 percent of Americans approve of the way President Trump is handling U.S. employment and jobs; 33 percent disapprove.

53 percent approve of the way Mr. Trump is handling the U.S. economy; 36 percent disapprove.

51 percent approve of the way Mr. Trump is handling the threat of ISIS; 35 percent disapprove.

48 percent approve of the way the president is handling health care reform; 42 percent disapprove.

48 percent approve of the way the president is handling immigration; 45 percent disapprove.

Source: A Reuters/Ipsos poll of 1,896 U.S. adults conducted Feb. 3-5.

• Chit-chat, factoids to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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