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Strange but true: Bernie takes a ‘very pragmatic’ turn

Bernie Sanders gave Washington whiplash this week — and it was all part of his plan.

Barely 24 hours after the Vermont senator publicly rejected a $ 3.5 trillion spending deal following a Monday meeting with President Joe Biden, he turned around to tout it as the most transformational policy proposal in nearly 100 years.

The shift in tone was a tactic Sanders used to coax moderate Democrats into going far higher than they might have otherwise felt comfortable. After he had insisted on shooting for the moon with a $ 6 trillion budget proposal, $ 3.5 trillion suddenly looked pretty reasonable.

The episode revealed a conciliatory side to the liberal icon often depicted by the media and Republicans as wild-eyed and well to the left of his party. Sanders has opposed some of Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s policies and nominees, but never in instances when his vote would prove decisive. He’s also softened his opposition to a bipartisan infrastructure deal, recognizing that he can’t alienate his fellow Democrats if he wants to move his own agenda.

Still, the Independent from Vermont isn’t quite ready for the “P” label.

“It’s not that I’m more pragmatic. It’s that there are 50 members of the Democratic Caucus. And unfortunately not all of them agree with me on everything,” Sanders said in an interview.

“It was important to have a vision going forward of where we needed to go. And I think that was the right vision,” Sanders added. “Obviously, it was a vision that was a little bit more comprehensive than some of my colleagues.”

Even after two presidential runs garnered him national stardom and effective ownership of the American left, Sanders has toiled in the Senate minority with few levers to pull. This Congress, as the Senate Budget chair and a member of Schumer’s leadership team, the 79-year-old is one of the most powerful people in Democratic-controlled Washington.

He also seems to be having a good time after decades of prowling the Capitol with gruff rebuttals for reporters delivered in his signature Brooklyn accent. After his interview with POLITICO, he was pressed by another reporter to take “one more question.”

“She makes me speculate,” he teased the second reporter, his voice rising in playful incredulousness. “One more question?!”

Jokes aside, moderates surmised it wasn’t easy for Sanders to shed his uncompromising stance on this year’s massive spending blueprint, which is still perhaps months away from becoming law. Tester, who quickly endorsed Sanders’ budget blueprint, despite reservations, observed that Sanders likely “had hesitation” in coming down by $ 2.5 trillion.

“It may have been one of those deals where it was: ‘Look, Bernie, if we don’t get this, we can’t do anything.’ And he decided to move with it,” Tester said of the haggling.

Yet senators on the Budget Committee viewed Sanders as taking an extreme position precisely so that it would yield a compromise all the more fruitful for liberal Democrats. If Sanders had started off endorsing Biden’s number of $ 4 trillion, it’s possible he and other progressives might have had to settle for a number lower than the $ 3.5 trillion they agreed upon.

“Bernie Sanders is like a human embodiment of shifting the Overton Window,” said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), who serves on the Budget Committee. “We wouldn’t be there without him putting out $ 6 trillion.”

With a ceiling of $ 3.5 trillion, Sanders says he can pursue all the changes that he’s prioritized, just not for not as long as he wants. That raises the possibility of future fights over the extension of programs like the expanded child tax credits championed by Democrats.

Nonetheless, Sanders argues every chance he gets that he’s pushing “the most consequential piece of legislation passed since the 1930s for working people.” On the price tag alone, he’s right: If successful, the current social spending bill will be the biggest ever passed by Congress.

Those ambitious aspirations, and his influence on the Democrat Party’s agenda, make Sanders a handy villain for Republicans. The GOP tried to use his possible ascension in the majority as an attack line in the Georgia Senate races — only to see Democrats win those contests, giving Sanders the budget gavel.

Senate Republicans still try to tie vulnerable Democrats to Sanders, more so even than Biden or Schumer.

“We applaud Bernie Sanders’ commitment to socialism and his influential leadership pushing 2022 Senate Democrat candidates to the far left,” said Katharine Cooksey, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee.

In addition to his central role in the Democratic caucus, Sanders also has the ear of former presidential rival Biden. Since winning the nomination and throughout the first six months of his presidency, the president has kept Sanders close.

White House chief of staff Ron Klain essentially had an open-door policy with Sanders as he pushed for a $ 15 minimum wage earlier this year. That hike was ultimately crushed by moderates and the Senate parliamentarian, an early blow for Sanders.

But Sanders returned quickly to press Biden to embrace an expansion of Medicare coverage for dental, hearing aids and vision. During a private Oval Office meeting ahead of the budget announcement, Sanders “made that case passionately” again and Biden “gave his full backing,” said a senior White House aide. Andrew Bates, a White House spokesman, said Biden “deeply respects Senator Sanders’ unflinching commitment to fighting for working people.”

Medicare expansion is included in Senate Democrats’ budget proposal, though it’s unclear whether Sanders will be able to lower the Medicare eligibility age as he set out to do months ago. Nonetheless, Sanders seems close to cinching a major change to an entitlement program that’s helped define the party’s legacy for generations.

For many years, Sanders played “a kind of gadfly role,” said David Axelrod, who served as an adviser to former President Barack Obama, who Sanders briefly entertained primarying during the 2012 presidential campaign. But now, he added, Sanders “has comfortably shifted into the role of deal-maker.”

“You’re seeing a very pragmatic Bernie Sanders, but he’s pragmatic in a principled way,” Axelrod said, observing that Biden and Sanders, “who really were from different places in the party, have come together in the sunset of their careers to do something potentially historic.”

Asked if Sanders is a pragmatist, Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) offered a clipped “yes” for an answer: “I don’t want to get him in trouble.”

This isn’t the first deal Sanders has cut, and it probably won’t be the last. In 2014 he memorably teamed with the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on a landmark agreement to reform the scandal-plagued Veterans Affairs Department. As part of that agreement, Sanders signed off on expanding private care access for veterans, a concession directly at odds with his long-standing commitment to single-payer health care. Sanders also struck an alliance last year with Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) in pushing for new pandemic stimulus checks.

“He’s obviously a passionate advocate. But he also understands this is a moment that we can’t let go by,” said Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a member of the Budget Committee and Democratic leadership. “He was able to read the room.”

Sanders is already digging in for the next round of fights. He may have centrist Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and the rest of the Budget Committee on board with his budget plan, but he still needs to win over more conservative Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. Manchin said he hasn’t yet talked to Sanders about the proposal.

Once again, Sanders is drawing a line in the sand, saying he’s not coming down any more from $ 3.5 trillion. Time will tell whether this one is real or tactical.

“No. Quite the contrary,” he said, hinting that progressive allies across the Capitol might drive the price back up. “We’ll see what happens in the House.”

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This post originally posted here Politics, Policy, Political News Top Stories

In Solo: Gary Kemp stays true to his pop roots with a smart and sometimes moving album

In Solo: Gary Kemp stays true to his pop roots with a smart and sometimes moving album

Gary Kemp’s hits include the timeless ballad True, inspired by his unrequited love for Clare Grogan, dancefloor favourite Gold and the band’s first smash, New Romantic anthem To Cut A Long Story Short. It’s one heck of a scoresheet.

Four decades on, Kemp is back with his second solo album, the follow-up to 1995’s Little Bruises, Gary’s way of dealing with his divorce from Sadie Frost.

The poignant opening ballad In Solo is about an urban couple whose lives are exactly that – solo. They’re together but alone. Kemp’s piano gives way to swelling orchestration and a tastefully searing guitar break.

A Rumour Of You moves the mood up a gear. It’s funky with an edge of menace.

Then the creepiness gives way to the reflective Waiting For The Band, Kemp recalling his teenage self at Hammersmith Odeon, with his painted face and “clockwork gang”, waiting for Bowie to play on the night he killed off Ziggy Stardust. Theo Travis’s sax break comes with an echo of archive fan voices.

Ahead Of The Game is more upbeat, with a late 70s’ pop soul vibe and terrific fluid guitar solo from Kemp.

This is smart, mature pop, thoughtful and sometimes moving.

Guest artists sparkle throughout the album, from Lily Carassik’s trumpet on I Remember You to Roger Taylor’s drumming on Too Much – Kemp’s reaction to the bad news that keeps afflicting us of late, making even the most optimistic feel occasionally helpless.

The Rolling Stones’ keyboardist Matt Clifford plays French horn on three songs, while bassists include Richard Jones (The Feeling) and some chap called Martin Kemp.

The result is slick, impressive and welcome.

To cut a long story short, Gary should do this more often.

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This post originally posted here Daily Express

Blackpool dreams come true for debutant duo

Watch all nine days of the World Matchplay, from Blackpool’s iconic Winter Gardens, which gets underway on Saturday July 17; Smith and Rydz feature in Sunday’s afternoon session, when they take on Cross and Durrant respectively

Last Updated: 15/07/21 2:02pm

Ross Smith sealed his maiden senior PDC title with victory over Brendan Dolan at the recent Super Series

Ross Smith sealed his maiden senior PDC title with victory over Brendan Dolan at the recent Super Series

The Winter Gardens – the theatre of darting dreams. The World Championship may be the pinnacle for any professional dart player, but the prestige and history attached to the Empress Ballroom makes for a unique summer spectacle.

The World Matchplay is the highlight of the calendar for many of the sport’s elite, and as the event returns to its spiritual seaside home in 2021, the anticipation is tangible, particularly among this year’s debutants.

There are seven players set to make their Blackpool bows at this year’s showpiece, one of whom is emerging star Callan Rydz, who claimed his first senior PDC title in February.

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“I am very excited,” the 23-year-old told Sky Sports.

“It is an iconic place for the darts and my Grandad has always said ever since I started playing that he would love to see me up there and now he can, so it is two dreams come true really.”

Rydz bidding to run riot

Rydz is part of a thriving North-East contingent within the PDC and he will take on Teesside’s finest Glen Durrant in an intriguing opening-round clash.

‘The Riot’ first locked horns with the three-time BDO world champion in a local competition as a 14-year-old, which he claims was instrumental in his darting journey.

Rydz defeated Premier League champion Jonny Clayton to triumph at Players Championship 2 back in February

Rydz defeated Premier League champion Jonny Clayton to triumph at Players Championship 2 back in February

“The first time I ever met Glen was the Northumberland Open about nine years ago. That was my first ever competition and Glen beat us that day in the last eight,” Rydz added.

“I didn’t really watch darts that much back then. I knew of him but I didn’t know much. I went into some research and saw he was an England player at the time, he was a very solid BDO professional and I was like, ‘Wow’.

“I did push him that day as well and I was only 14. I think from there, that competition has just spurred me on.”

Durrant’s current woes have been well-documented. Since lifting the Premier League title last October, he has suffered an alarming slump and has registered just nine victories on the PDC circuit in 2021.

‘Everybody knows how good Glen is’

Durrant has endured a nightmare start to 2021, which saw him lose all nine of his Premier League Darts fixtures

Durrant has endured a nightmare start to 2021, which saw him lose all nine of his Premier League Darts fixtures

However, Rydz is still in the fledgling stages of his career, particularly on the TV stage, and he insists complacency will not be a factor as he bids to match his best performance on the big stage, having reached the last 16 in November’s Players Championship Finals.

“Everybody knows how good Glen is, and it is only a matter of time before he starts hitting those 105 averages constantly again,” he continued.

“It’s one of them where Glen is struggling, but you cannot think he is struggling. You have got to go out there and try and do a job on him early doors.

“I didn’t pick up my darts from the Worlds to that Super Series. I had two months off and I didn’t play at all, and it was probably the best two months that I’ve actually had.”

Rydz reflects on his flying start to 2021…

“I would definitely say I am still learning the ropes. I am not used to the big TV cameras just yet, but it comes with experience and the more experience you get, it becomes an easier environment to come out and play in front of crowds.”

Another debutant set to fulfil a darting dream in Blackpool this weekend is Ross Smith, who takes on 2019 champion Rob Cross in his opener, with the winner set to take on Rydz or Durrant for a place in the quarter-finals.

Smith – a PDC Tour Card holder since 2012, has made considerable strides over the last 18 months, and although he is relishing his first taste of Matchplay action, it will not be his first pilgrimage to the Winter Gardens.

Smudger set to fulfil Blackpool dream

“This has been something I’ve been wanting to do since I was a kid watching it, so to make my debut – it has taken a while, but I’m just happy to be there,” he told Sky Sports.

“I went once when I was a kid. I was there for a tournament called the Bobby Bourn memorial, and that was the weekend before they started the Matchplay.

Smith is set to make his Winter Gardens debut, 16 years after attending the tournament as a teenager

Smith is set to make his Winter Gardens debut, 16 years after attending the tournament as a teenager

“I remember being there with a mate of mine, Kirk Shepherd, up in the balcony. I was about 16 so to be playing there now, it is massive.”

The 32-year-old is no stranger to claiming major scalps on the big stage. He memorably defeated Michael van Gerwen at the 2019 European Championship, having beaten James Wade en route to reaching the UK Open quarter-finals earlier that year.

However, ‘Smudger’ heads to the Matchplay buoyed by his exploits at last week’s PDC Super Series, where he captured the first senior ranking title of his career.

“It means everything to me [winning his first title]. It means absolutely everything. It is something I have worked hard for.

“I probably took my darts for granted a bit as a youngster, but now I’ve grown up, I just wish I had done this a bit sooner.

‘I’m sick of making the numbers up’

Smith will take on 2019 champion Rob Cross for a place in the second round

Smith will take on 2019 champion Rob Cross for a place in the second round

“I feel really good, but I want to keep my feet on the ground and concentrate on this tournament. I am sick of turning up at TV events and seem to be making the numbers up.

“Winning that Players Championship has definitely given me the confidence to believe I can push on in this now and do some damage.”

This year’s World Matchplay has been touted as one of the most open in recent memory. World champion and world No 1 Gerwyn Price has a miserable record at the Winter Gardens, while Michael van Gerwen is extraordinarily still without a PDC title in 2021.

“I want to push on in my career. I don’t want to be somebody there to make the numbers up or win something once. I want to really kick on with my career.”

Smith aiming high ahead of Blackpool bow…

Dimitri Van den Bergh triumphed on debut in last year’s event, and Smith insists there is no reason why he cannot replicate the Belgian’s heroics.

“I remember watching Dimitri win it, and the likes of him and Jose De Sousa – seeing how they have come on leaps and bounds over the last few years.

“That is a big motivation for me. When I look at them, I think: ‘Why can’t I do that?’ It is making me practice harder, it is making me want it, and there is no reason why I can’t do it.”

Darts is back on your Sky Sports screens this month, with nine days of coverage from the iconic Winter Gardens and the World Matchplay – the action gets under way on Saturday July 17.

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This post originally posted here SkySports | News

South Carolina GOP erupts in civil war as ‘true MAGA supporters’ seek censure of state party chair for calling them ‘lepers’

South Carolina GOP erupts in civil war as 'true MAGA supporters' seek censure of state party chair for calling them 'lepers'

Far-right supporters of former president Donald Trump in South Carolina are seeking to censure the state Republican Party chairman, after he compared them to a “leper colony” in a recent newspaper interview.

FITSNews reported Monday that GOP officials in at least four South Carolina counties are mulling censure resolutions against state party chair Drew McKissick, who defeated Trump attorney and conspiracy theorist Lin Wood to win the post earlier this year.

According to FITSnews, the censure resolutions are “the latest front in an increasingly caustic civil war within the party.”

Last week, three top officials from the Greenville County Republican Party abruptly resigned, in response to a campaign by pro-Trump activists that allegedly involved “intimidation, threats, bullying, disenfranchisement and character assassination,” according to the Post and Courier newspaper.

In the wake of the resignations, McKissick called the tactics of the far-right activists — who have created their own grassroots group called mySCGOP.com“absolutely insane.”

“They have essentially preyed on Trump supporters, telling them the county and state party organizations didn’t support President Trump, which is a total lie, and then they’ve gone forward spreading rumors and innuendos about people — everything from sex trafficking to embezzlement to rigging elections, all this garbage,” McKissick said, warning that the Greenville County GOP could “fall into a state of disrepair, become a complete dumpster fire and essentially be a leper colony for the next year and a half.”

Pressley Stutts, a longtime Tea Party leader who led the campaign to get the Greenville GOP officials to resign, responded by saying: “We are following the advice of President Trump, who encouraged all of the MAGA supporters to go out, get involved and take over the parties with their true MAGA supporters. That’s what we did.”

According to the draft of a proposed censure resolution targeting McKissick, he “has publicly insulted and disenfranchised Republicans within the Greenville GOP, and by proxy others within the (state Republican Party).”

The Horry County GOP was scheduled to be the first to take up the censure resolution against McKissick on Monday. Republicans in Horry County recently elected Tracey Beanz, who’s been credited with pushing the QAnon conspiracy theory movement into the mainstream, to the state GOP’s executive committee.

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel explains joy that Champions League superstition came true

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel explains joy that Champions League superstition came true

“For Kai, I was so happy,” Tuchel said. “It would have been nice in the moment to have gone 2-0 up though!

“It’s so hard to defend, there was deflected shots, throw ins, long balls but we got out the other side.

“It was very intense on the sideline, very fast. It was a tough match to step in, step out constantly and not lose your shape.”

Chelsea midfielder Mason Mount added: “I can’t put it into words. It’s impossible. I just mentioned then that I’ve played in two finals for Chelsea and we lost them both. The way that hurt… It’s all I’ve dreamt winning a trophy with Chelsea. To go all the way in the Champions League.

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed

Jimmy Kimmel questioned Harry’s key response about The Crown: ‘Didn’t ring true to me!’

Jimmy Kimmel mocks Queen statement after Oprah interview

Jimmy, a late night talk show host, is also a famous American TV personality and comedian who was part of the celebrity lineup for Vax Live earlier this month. The concert was co-chaired by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and aimed to raise money for vaccine equity. But, weeks before sharing a stage with the Duke of Sussex, Jimmy actually mentioned the couple’s bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey during his show — and questioned one particular aspect of the jaw-dropping tell-all.
Speaking on Jimmy Kimmel Live! the star said: “I thought Meghan and Harry came across well, they seemed genuine — but there was one part of the interview that didn’t ring true to me.

“When Oprah asked them if they had seen a certain Netflix show.”

During the interview, the Sussexes explained how their dynamic within the Royal Family changed after their South Pacific tour back in 2018.

The success of that tour has since been compared to the triumph of Princess Diana and Prince Charles’ tour of Australia back in 1983, an event which featured heavily in The Crown’s latest season.

Oprah said: “I’m thinking, because I watch The Crown, OK? I watch The Crown. Do you all watch The Crown?”

Meghan giggled, while Harry said: “I’ve watched some of it. You’ve watched some of it?”

Jimmy Kimmel questioned Harry’s key response about The Crown: ‘Didn’t ring true to me!’

Jimmy Kimmel questioned Harry’s key response about The Crown: ‘Didn’t ring true to me!’ (Image: Getty)

Jimmy Kimmel with friend and actor Ben Affleck for Vax Live

Jimmy Kimmel with friend and actor Ben Affleck for Vax Live (Image: Getty)

Nodding, Meghan repeated: “I’ve watched some of it.”

Discussing this particular clip of the interview, Mr Kimmel told his audience: “Alright, no one watches some of The Crown — once you start The Crown, you finish The Crown, you’re hooked.”

Oprah then probed the couple to see if they were referring to Diana’s Australia tour, where she won over the hearts of the public — and was accused of outshining the Prince of Wales, as portrayed in Netflix’s fictional series.

Harry agreed the treatment of Meghan after their tour did bring back memories of his mother’s popularity, and added: “I just wish that we would all learn from the past.”

This line of questioning over The Crown came up again in Harry’s most recent appearance last week, when he was a guest on Dax Shepard’s Armchair expert podcast — but, the Duke maintained that he had not watched much of the series.

Podcast host Dax asked Harry: “So you’ve never seen it? I would imagine or have you seen The Crown?”

READ MORE:  Harry has copied Diana’s hurtful acts but wants to break ‘pain cycle’

Harry speaking during Global Citizen's Vax Live event

Harry speaking during Global Citizen’s Vax Live event (Image: Getty)

Meghan and Harry speaking to Oprah Winfrey back in March

Meghan and Harry speaking to Oprah Winfrey back in March (Image: Getty)

Harry replied: “I managed to get away with…”

Podcast host Monica Padman interjected: “Not answering.”

Harry continued: “I’ve seen elements of it.”

He then noted: “I hear it’s very popular.”

Dax, a famous Hollywood actor, said: “They make, you know, like seven season about my family, I would certainly be curious.

“And then also, I would feel very protective.”

Dax said it would be difficult for people to “indulge” in a traumatic family event, such as Diana’s death, but “you’re very drawn to find out as well”.

Harry admitted: “I think we all are, right?”

The Duke of Sussex discussed the divisive show, which his father’s friends dubbed “trolling on a Hollywood budget”, back in February as well.

Harry told his friend and TV personality James Corden he wanted Damian Lewis to play him in The Crown, if he had to choose a famous actor.

Anne and Mark Phillips brutally mocked after Queen’s joke about kids [EXPLAINED]
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Emma Corrin as Princess Diana on the 1983 tour of Australia

Emma Corrin as Princess Diana on the 1983 tour of Australia (Image: Netflix)

Meghan and Harry on their South Pacific tour in 2018

Meghan and Harry on their South Pacific tour in 2018 (Image: Getty)

He also defended the programme and said: “It’s fictional.

“But it’s loosely based on the truth.

“Of course it’s not strictly accurate.”

He claimed it gave a “rough idea” of the pressures that come with “putting duty and service above family and everything else”.

He continued: “I am way more comfortable with The Crown than I am seeing stories written about my family or my wife

“That [The Crown] is obviously fiction, take it how you will.

Prince Harry drinks tea on a bus with James Corden

“But this is being reported on as fact because you’re supposedly news. I have a real issue with that.”

Harry’s words were heavily criticised afterwards, especially considering the unflattering light Charles and the Queen were painted in during the fourth season.

Many thought the Duke did not want to insult the programme considering he had only recently signed a lucrative contract with the same streaming platform, Netflix, at the time.

Harry and Meghan’s dramatic time on the royal frontline is not expected to be covered in the ongoing series.

Although The Crown started at the beginning of the Queen’s marriage in 1947, the series is said to be coming to a conclusion around the year 2000.

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Celebrity News Feed