Tuesday, October 25, 2016

ANS -- How Power Works

This is a good but depressing article about the abuse of power by our government.  It centers on the 1971 Attica prison rebellion, but generalizes the lessons.  I recommend reading the comments, if you like that sort of thing, just because they seem to be civilized discourse by people who know grammar and spelling.  

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How Power Works

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From Truthdig

Attica Correctional Facility
Attica Correctional Facility
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Heather Ann Thompson's book "Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy" is a detailed study of the inner workings of America. The blueprint for social control employed before and after the crushing of the Attica revolt is the same blueprint used today to keep tens of millions of poor people, especially poor people of color, caged or living in miniature police states. Thompson meticulously documents the innumerable ways the state oppresses the poor by discrediting their voices, turning the press into a megaphone for government propaganda and lies, stoking the negative stereotypes of black people, exalting white supremacy, ruining the lives of people who speak the truth, manipulating the courts and law enforcement, and pressuring state witnesses to lie to obstruct justice. Her book elucidates not only the past but also the present, which, she concedes, is worse.

"America by the early twenty-first century had, in disturbing ways, come to resemble America in the late nineteenth century," Thompson writes near the end of her book. "In 1800 the three-fifths clause gave white voters political power from a black population that was itself barred from voting, and after 2000 prison gerrymandering was doing exactly the same thing in numerous states across the country. After 1865, African American desires for equality and civil rights in the South following the American Civil War led whites to criminalize African American communities in new ways and then sent record numbers of blacks to prison in that region.

"Similarly, a dramatic spike in black incarceration followed the civil rights movement -- a movement that epitomized Attica. From 1965 onward, black communities were increasingly criminalized, and by 2005, African Americans constituted 40 percent of the U.S. prison population while remaining less than 13 percent of its overall population. And just as businesses had profited from the increased number of Americans in penal facilities after 1870, so did they seek the labor of a growing captive prison population after 1970. In both centuries, white Americans had responded to black claims for freedom by beefing up, and making more punitive, the nation's criminal justice system."

On Sept. 9, 1971, prisoners at the Attica Correctional Facility in upstate New York rebelled in the face of intolerable conditions. They were sick of the racist-fueled violence of the white, rural guards; angry at poor medical care and the dearth of vocational and educational programs; underfed (the prison allocated only 63 cents a day to feed a prisoner); unhappy about their mail being censored, or destroyed if it was in Spanish; living in poorly ventilated cells with little or no heat or stifling heat; unable to buy basic commissary items on salaries that averaged 6 cents a day; and tired of being given only one bar of soap and one roll of toilet paper a month and allowed only one shower a week.

The uprising was not premeditated. It took place when prisoners, trapped inadvertently by guards in a tunnel that led to the yard, thought they were going to be given another beating by sadistic correction officers. The spontaneous uprising took place "because ordinary men, poor men, disenfranchised men, and men of color had simply had enough of being treated as less than human," Thompson writes.

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Four hundred fifty prisoners had previously staged a peaceful sit-down strike in the prison's metal shop to protest wages that, as a witness later testified at a New York state hearing, were "so low that working at Attica [was] tantamount to slavery." Prisoners had formed committees and sent respectful letters to prison authorities asking them to address their concerns. The requests were largely ignored. Despite authorities' promises that there would be no retribution, those who organized the protests were put in isolation or transferred to other prisons. The callousness of the officials was especially unconscionable in light of the fact that the state had netted huge sums for sales of products made by the prisoners.

After three days of negotiations, in which the prison authorities refused to grant the rebellious prisoners amnesty, 550 New York state troopers, 200 sheriff's deputies and numerous Attica prison guards were issued high-powered weapons, including rifles loaded with especially destructive bullets that expanded on impact, bullets banned in warfare under the Geneva Conventions. The prisoners had no firearms. The assault force members were fed a steady diet of lies and unfounded rumors to stoke their hatred of the prisoners. Black radicals were coming, they were falsely told, to the town of Attica to kidnap white children, a rumor that led to the closing of the schools.

Through clouds of CS gas, the assault force stormed the yard, where some 1,200 prisoners held 42 guards and civilian staff members. It unleashed a blizzard of gunfire, shooting 130 people. Twenty-nine prisoners and nine hostages died. (One guard beaten by prisoners in the first moments of the uprising died later in a hospital.)

The assault force, which had done all the killings that day, immediately began to hide evidence of its crimes. State officials told the press outside the prison that seven or eight of the hostages had died when the prisoners slit their throats. They claimed that the genitals of one of the guards were cut off and stuffed in his mouth. These reports were untrue, but they dominated the news coverage.

Meanwhile, inside the retaken institution, many prisoners were suffering from gunshot wounds that would not be treated for days. Some were stripped and made to run gantlets in which they were beaten by guards with ax handles, baseball bats and rifle butts. Those singled out as the leaders of the rebellion were marked with Xs on their backs, forced to crawl through mud, tortured and in few cases, it appears, executed.

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New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller and the Nixon White House feared that the rebellion presaged armed revolution. The scores of dead and wounded were, for them, a message to the rest of the country -- defy us and we will kill you. Today, any citizen who seriously resists the corporate state can expect the same response.

Thompson writes, "All of those assembled in the president's office agreed that while the morning's events made a particularly 'gruesome story,' news of the slashings and castration would go a long way toward discrediting America's 'bleeding hearts' like 'the Tom Wicker s of the world.' 'I think this is going to have a hell of a salutary effect on future prison riots,' Nixon said. 'Just as Kent State [the May 4, 1970, shooting by National Guardsmen of unarmed students that left four dead and nine wounded] had a hell of a salutary effect. ... They can talk all they want about force, but that is the purpose of force.'"

The avalanche of government lies permeates the narrative -- not a surprise to anyone who has reported on the inner workings of power or spent time in our prisons and marginal communities.

There are heroes in the narrative. Their fate, which is almost universally bleak, is also instructive. The prisoner Sam Melville, who was serving an 18-year sentence in Attica for setting off explosives in government buildings to protest the Vietnam War, who taught classes to other inmates and who researched prison operations to show how the institution cruelly exploited prisoner labor for profit, was executed by guards after the uprising, according to other prisoners. So, apparently, was Elliot "L.D." Barkley, who was in prison for violating parole by driving without a license and who, although he was only 21, was one of the most articulate spokespeople for the prisoners. Prisoners such as Frank "Big Black" Smith, savagely tortured by guards after the uprising, and Bernard "Shango" Stroble rose up majestically during the revolt to protect hostages and maintain order, and they fought for justice long after their release from prison. Civil rights attorneys such as Ernie Goodman and William Kunstler came to the prisoners' defense.

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A few within the governmental system exhibited rare moral courage. Among them were Dr. John Edland of the Monroe County medical examiner's office, who refused to falsify autopsy reports and told the public that the hostages had been killed by state gunfire; Attica guard Michael Smith, who defied his own fraternity to speak the truth about state abuse; and government attorney Malcolm Bell, who exposed the state cover-up of the killings by the state troopers, sheriff's deputies and prison guards. However, most who knew the truth remained silent.

Edland was especially singled out for condemnation. He was attacked as incompetent by state officials and called a clown and, although a Republican, a radical left-winger. (State troopers were dispatched to local funeral homes to prevent morticians from informing families of the cause of death of hostages.) Edland received death threats and other hate mail, was shunned by the local community and saw state troopers menacingly idle their automobiles in front of his home. Edland called the day he released the autopsy findings "the worst day of my life."

When the state decides to isolate, discredit and crush you it has innumerable ways to do so. The press often is manipulated. Employers blacklist you. A gullible population is made to believe the caricature of you as a traitor or an enemy. Such smear campaigns are now directed against Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden.

New York State Police Capt. Henry "Hank" Williams oversaw the investigation into the 1971 assault. This meant that, in Thompson's words, "the main investigators of the crimes of Attica were those who may well have committed them." Williams made sure that "nothing related to the shooting -- shell casings, the weapons themselves -- was collected." No chalk outlines, usually required at a crime scene, were drawn to indicate where the bodies had fallen. No calculations were made regarding bullet trajectories. The yard where the killings took place was cleaned up under Williams' supervision as quickly as possible.

Prisoners were threatened with violence or indictment if they refused to incriminate the leaders of the uprising. The goal was not justice; it was to punish and isolate the prisoner leadership and protect law enforcement.

"When strong-arm tactics still proved ineffective," Thompson writes concerning one interrogation, "they switched their approach: should this witness help them, investigators suggested, they would, in turn, help him get paroled. In addition to enticing the witness with the possibility of parole, they also promised to make prison life easier for him in the meantime."

Scores of prisoners were indicted in connection with the uprising; only one member of the assault force was charged, with a minor offense. The state's entire case when it went to the courts was built on a scaffolding of lies designed to exonerate the assault force and punish prisoner leaders. Jurors, who saw doctored films and photographs, never knew they were being presented with fabricated and tainted evidence, including photos of crude knives that had been planted next to slain prisoners. Witnesses recited stories fed to them by government investigators.

The state has never admitted wrongdoing for the Attica assault, and important parts of the record -- autopsies, ballistics reports, trooper statements, and depositions -- remain sealed nearly five decades later. Thompson stumbled onto Attica files in the Erie County courthouse and the New York State Museum, but since her discovery, she writes, they have vanished or "been removed from anyone's view."

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"American voters ultimately did not respond to this prison uprising by demanding that states rein in police power," she concludes. "Instead they demanded that police be given even more support and even more punitive laws to enforce.

"Indeed, the 1960s and 1970s were all about the politics of the ironic. At the Democratic National Convention protests of 1968, Kent State in 1970, and Wounded Knee in 1973, unfettered police power each time turned protests violent, and yet, after each of these events, the nation was sent the message that the people, not the police, were dangerous. Somehow, voters came to believe that democracy was worth curtailing and civil rights and liberties were worth suspending for the sake of 'order' and maintaining the status quo."

Though immediately after the Attica uprising there were minor reforms, these improvements were soon rolled back. Conditions in prisons today are worse than those that led to the 1971 revolt. Control of prison populations is more brutal, more sophisticated and more inhumane. It is doubtful that the press, unlike at Attica in 1971, would ever be allowed inside a prison during an uprising to air the voices of the prisoners.

Much of the worst damage was done during the Clinton administration. President Bill Clinton signed into law, with Republican support, the draconian 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. It provided $9.7 billion to build more prisons. By 1995 the prison population exceeded 1 million. It would soon double.

"The fact that so many of these people now in prison had been arrested because they were drug addicts, mentally ill, poor, and racially profiled concerned few if any politicians, whether in a statehouse or in Washington, D.C.," Thompson writes. "Then, to make sure that this now enormous group of the incarcerated did not resist their deteriorating conditions of confinement via the nation's legal system as they had done so effectively both before and after the Attica uprising, in 1996 legislators passed the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA)."

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The PLRA made it difficult and often impossible for prisoners to use the courts to protect their Eighth Amendment right not to endure cruel and unusual punishment.

The New York Times columnist Tom Wicker, who was part of the negotiating team that tried to resolve the Attica uprising without bloodshed, singled out white fear as the central issue in the 1971 case. "White fear fixed itself upon the literal presence of black human beings. Black people, to whites, were the symbolic representation of the evil in man and thus were also the handy instruments by which white people could hold themselves symbolically innocent of that evil." Wicker concluded, "The heart of the matter was the fear of blackness."

This white fear remains unexamined in America. It allows us to stand by passively and watch the daily murders by police of unarmed black men and women. It allows us to maintain a prison system that holds a staggering 25 percent of the world's prisoners, the majority of them poor people of color. This white fear condemns us as a nation. It perpetuates the evil of white supremacy. Poor people of color have been robbed of the most elemental forms of justice and basic constitutional rights. But the state, in the age of deindustrialization, has no intention of stopping there. These forms of social control, so familiar to poor people of color, will bear upon all of us.


Biography of the author:

Chris Hedges spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years.

Hedges was part of the team of reporters at The New York Times awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for the paper's coverage of global terrorism. He also received the Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism in 2002. The Los Angeles Press Club honored Hedges' original columns in Truthdig by naming the author the Online Journalist of the Year in 2009, and granted him the Best Online Column award in 2010 for his Truthdig essay "One Day We'll All Be Terrorists."

Hedges is a senior fellow at The Nation Institute in New York City and has taught at Columbia University, New York University and Princeton University. He currently teaches inmates at a correctional facility in New Jersey.

Hedges began his career reporting the war in El Salvador. Following six years in Latin America, he took time off to study Arabic and then went to Jerusalem and later Cairo. He spent seven years in the Middle East, most of them as the bureau chief there for The New York Times. He left the Middle East in 1995 for Sarajevo to cover the war in Bosnia and later reported the war in Kosovo. Afterward, he joined the Times' investigative team and was based in Paris to cover al-Qaida. He left the Times after being issued a formal reprimand for denouncing the Bush administration's invasion of Iraq.

He has written nine books, including "Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle" (2009), "I Don't Believe in Atheists" (2008) and the best-selling "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America" (2008). His book "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning" (2003) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction. His latest book is "Death of the Liberal Class" (2010)

Hedges holds a B.A. in English literature from Colgate University and a Master of Divinity degree from Harvard University. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, Calif. Hedges speaks Arabic, French and Spanish and knows ancient Greek and Latin. In addition to writing a weekly original column for Truthdig, he has written for Harper's Magazine, The New Statesman, The New York Review of Books, Adbusters, Granta, Foreign Affairs and other publications.

Friday, October 21, 2016

ANS -- Donald Trump Confuses Birth With Abortion. And No, There Are No Ninth Month Abortions.

In response to the part of the presidential debate that was about abortion, here is an abortion doctor's description of late term medical abortions.
As someone said on TV -- a ninth month "abortion" is called a C-section. Yes, apparently, Donald Trump and his cohorts want to make C-sections illegal.  (If they had been illegal when I was born, I and my mother would have both died.) I don't think they have realized that's what they are asking for.  

Donald Trump Confuses Birth With Abortion. And No, There Are No Ninth Month Abortions.

Trump's abortion stance is about punishment and control.

 10/20/2016 11:48 am ET | Updated 12 hours ago

The third and final presidential debate focused very quickly on abortion. Clinton defended choice, and Trump ― not one to be bothered with facts ― countered with this doozy of line:

I think it's terrible if you go with what Hillary is saying... in the ninth month you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby. Now, you can say that that's okay, and Hillary can say that that's okay, but it's not okay with me. Because based on what she's saying and based on where she's going and where she's been, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb in the ninth month, on the final day. And that's not acceptable.

First of all, we don't "rip" anything in OB/GYN. In surgery, we use sharp dissection and blunt dissection, but we don't rip. Some women do tear during a vaginal delivery, but that's not a doctor ripping the baby out. Even with a forceps delivery, I wouldn't call it ripping. We also don't rip tissues during c-sections.

Perhaps we can forgive Donald Trump for not knowing this as it is hard to believe that a man who bragged that he doesn't change diapers and said he wouldn't have had a baby if his wife had wanted him to actually physically participate in its care would have attended the birth of his own children. It's certainly not for the faint of heart as there is, after all, lots of blood coming out the "wherever."

Trump's statement, as incorrect as it may be, supports the fallacy of the due-date abortion. It is a common anti-choice narrative that women come in at 39 weeks and have some kind of abortion for fun or out of boredom and that we doctors are only to happy to comply. I'm sure some people think there are Groupons. The more graphic the description of the procedure, the better as it helps to distract from the facts.

Talking about abortion from a medical perspective is challenging when you are not a health care provider. Even someone familiar with the laws can get confused. For example, Mrs. Clinton made an error speaking about late-term abortion when she said it was a health of the mother issue. Typically, it is not (it's almost always fetal anomalies). However, this error on Clinton's part only underscores how important it is for politicians to not practice medicine.

To put it in perspective, 1.3 percent of abortions happen at or after 21 weeks and 80 percent are for birth defects. Put another way, 1 percent of abortions that are at or after 21 weeks and are for birth defects and 0.3 percent of abortions are at or after 21 weeks and are not for birth defects (some of these will be health of the mother and a very few will be for other indications). Let's take it situation by situation.


Birth Defects

This could range from Down syndrome to anomalies incompatible with life. The generally accepted limit of viability is 24 weeks. Before that, gestational age abortions can happen for any reason. After 18 or so weeks, the options are an induction of labor or a dilation or an evacuation (or D and E), which is a surgery.

With induction, it can take a few days as labor can be hard to trigger so early. If all goes well, the cervix dilates and the fetus delivers. Sometimes indictions fail because you can't always get such a premature uterus to contract. With a D and E, the cervix is dilated, with the help of medication, instruments or both, and the fetus is removed. The fetus is essentially taken apart with a D and E to fit through the dilated cervix (the cervix is dilated less with a D and E than for an induction). This is no secret to the women having the procedure. This is also no ripping; there is simply surgical technique. Women know they were pregnant before the procedure and that they were not after ― and trust me, they don't think their doctor waved a magic wand or had a time turner.

After 24 weeks, birth defects that lead to abortion are very severe and typically considered incompatible with life. These procedures are either a traditional induction, just like labor, or something that requires instrumentation. Because of the nonsensical partial birth abortion law women who wish to have a dilation and extraction (a modified technique for more advanced procedures) need to have fetal cardiac activity stopped with an injection into the uterus. Either way, it's a two or three (or even four) day process to get the cervix to dilate enough.

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The further along in the pregnancy, the more likely the procedure will be an induction of labor. But a skilled practitioner can do a dilation and extraction at 32 or 34 weeks. I've never heard of a dilation and extraction for any other reason than severe birth defects, and often, it is for a woman who has had two or three c-sections for whom inducing labor might pose other health hazards, like uterine rupture. Are we to force women to have c-sections for a pregnancy that is not compatible with life?

Why do some women end up with these procedures later on in their pregnancy? Sometimes it can take weeks or even longer to fully understand what is going on with the fetus. Some patients might think they can make it to term and then at 34 weeks cave and ask to be delivered because they just can't bear one more person asking them about their baby. Do they just smile and walk away or say, "Well, actually, my baby has no brain and will die at birth"? Some women go to term and others can't. To judge these women for requesting an early delivery is cruel on so many levels. I wrote more about it here if you are interested.  

Regardless, terminations for birth defects isn't ripping "the baby out of the womb in the ninth month." At 38 or 39 weeks, it's always an induction and is simply called a delivery.

Health of the Mother

This definitely happens between 20 and 24 weeks. The most likely scenario is ruptured membranes and an infection in the uterus. The treatment of this is delivery or the infection will spread and kill the mother; however, someone with lupus or renal disease or heart disease (for example) could have a deterioration of their health and with their providers make the decision to have a termination.

After 25 weeks, this would simply be a c-section or an induction of labor and the baby would go to the neonatal intensive care unit. Between 24-25 weeks, there could be some leeway as conditions that are serious enough to require delivery at 24 weeks often also have devastating effects on the fetus. For example, the fetus could be so severely growth restricted making viability at 24 weeks unlikely and a woman with a severe heart condition may not elect to risk her health with a c-section for a likely non viable pregnancy and choose a termination.

These are difficult and nuanced decisions, and everyone is simply working together to make the best decision for the pregnant person. I don't know where Mrs. Clinton got this "bad news at the end" of the pregnancy being about maternal health. I have only ever heard of one very late abortion for maternal health and that was for the rape of a minor by her brother and that was still not at term.

So no one is performing health of the mother abortions at 38 or 39 weeks/ We just do deliveries. It's called obstetrics.


Some of the 0.3 percent of abortions after 21 weeks will be for personal reasons. Often these are called elective abortions, but I don't like that term. Usually this happens when it took too long to find a clinic and raise the money. These abortions happen before 24 weeks. There is no ninth month action here either.

The Facts

There are no ninth month abortions. Really. A ninth month abortion is a unicorn and so it's ridiculous to even discuss it. Terminations after 24 weeks are for severe fetal anomalies.

If it's a unicorn, why not legislate it? Introducing a gestational age limit is introducing the thin edge of the wedge. Once you say abortion is illegal at say 37 weeks then you have agreed the subject is up for negotiation and more legislation.

If someone were truly interested in reducing abortion, they wouldn't start with the 1.3 percent. More reductions can be made in the first trimester where most terminations are due to unplanned pregnancies. These abortions could be reduced dramatically with access to free and accessible long-acting reversible contraception. To dismiss these abortions and focus on the later procedures means it is not about reducing abortion at all, so it can only be about punishment and control.

A version of this post originally appeared on DrJenGunter.wordpress.com.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

ANS -- Paul Ryan: If Republicans Lose the Senate, Bernie Sanders Wins

This is an exciting prospect -- if Democrats regain the Senate, Bernie Sanders is in line to become chair of one of the most important committees -- Either the Budget Committee or Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.  Please be sure to vote!

Paul Ryan: If Republicans Lose the Senate, Bernie Sanders Wins

The house speaker knows that if the GOP loses seats in Congress, Bernie Sanders could become the Senate Budget Committee Chairperson.

Paul Ryan is famously described as what Republicans think a smart person sounds like. But sometimes the speaker of the House outsmarts himself.


Ryan lectured Young Republicans in his native Wisconsin last Friday, and the national news media were invited to listen along. The speaker wanted to make the case for Republican voters to turn out and back GOP congressional candidates, even if they can't stomach their party's scandal-plagued presidential ticket. Implicit in Ryan's argument was the suggestion that a Republican-controlled House of Representatives and Senate could be counted on to obstruct Hillary Clinton's supposedly "liberal progressive" agenda.

But in a question-and-answer session following his unremarkable speech, Ryan inadvertently made a case for liberals and progressives to turn out in big numbers in order to elect Democratic candidates in the fight for control of the Senate.

As he outlined his Wall Street–friendly proposals for tax reforms that would more rapidly redistribute wealth upward, and for budgets that would put vulnerable Americans at greater risk while increasing burdens for middle-class families, the speaker explained that his agenda can advance only if Republicans control both the House and Senate. "If we keep control of the Senate in the Republican hands…a nice guy named Mike Enzi from Wyoming is the Senate budget chair and he helps us get these budgets to the president's desk, gets these tax bills through," he said.

On the other hand, Ryan warned, "If we lose the Senate, do you know who becomes chair of the Senate Budget Committee? A guy named Bernie Sanders. You ever heard of him?"

Ryan's comment drew a tepid response from the Young Republicans he was lecturing. No surprise there. Polling suggests that Bernie Sanders is among the most well-regarded political figures in the country, especially among younger voters, and the long-time independent generates far less partisan antipathy than veteran Democrats.

But when word got out that Ryan was rattled by Sanders, the response from around the country was electric. People who might have been having a hard time getting excited about the presidential race were most intrigued by the possibility that Sanders might become a powerhouse in the Senate.

The possibility is real enough.

The senator from Vermont is the ranking member of the budget committee, and if Democrats gain control of the chamber on November 8, he would be in line to chair it. But Sanders could also end up chairing then powerful Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, which he could use to advance many of the proposals (for affordable college, empowering unions, and investing in public-health programs) that made his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination so popular.

The final list of committee assignments will be influenced by the choices of senior senators, such as Washington's Patty Murray. "There's lots of individual choices ahead, of people who are senior to Bernie," says Senator Charles Schumer of New York, who is set to replace retiring Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada. Yet Schumer says of Sanders, "He will chair a significant committee if we win the majority.''

That prospect scares Paul Ryan.

But it excites a lot of other people.

Because Ryan's Friday event—at which he avoided mentioning the candidate he has endorsed for the presidency—was otherwise devoid of news, the speaker's reference to Sanders got a good deal of attention. Reporters tweeted about Ryan's comments regarding the Vermonter, and made mention of them in articles on an otherwise inconsequential event.

The response was immediate—and enthusiastic.

The news that Sanders might end up in a top position in the Senate, and that he might be positioned to thwart Ryan's plans, became a digital sensation. Twitter and Facebook exploded—with messages like "Awesome!" and "Sounds like a plan!" and "Too bad for Ryan, that's a scenario millions of millennials would welcome."

Sanders fans created images of the Vermont senator with the Ryan quote superimposed on it, and bloggers mocked the speaker's "doomsday scenario" with assessments like this Daily Kos observation: "Good god, people! Sanders might try to expand Social Security. He might look for ways to ease the burden of college debt. By god, he had a 'Medicare for All' platform. Just think of it: Insured people everywhere! Talk about an apocalypse!"

Of course, liberals and progressives understand that an empowered Bernie Sanders is no doomsday scenario, no apocalypse. For them, it's a thrilling prospect that builds enthusiasm for voting—and perhaps for volunteering. Even among young voters are not all that thrilled with the prospect of a Hillary Clinton presidency, the prospect of Bernie Sanders writing budgets and setting national priorities is, well, "awesome."

So Democrats will undoubtedly be pleased if the speaker keeps talking about the Sanders "threat."

Paul Ryan is making a muscular case for why control of the Senate should be grabbed away from right-wing Republicans and handed over to a party that plans to put Bernie Sanders in a position of power.