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Kellyanne Conway Plays With Matches

If Kelleyanne Conway wants to see truly massive protests, she should continue to threaten Harry Reid with (il)legal action for making fact-based allegations against Trump, while herself alleging that protesters against Trump are professional protesters—that they’re being paid.

She seems unaware that she’s playing with matches.  But she is.

 

 

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Do be sure to watch this video news clip on CNBC, folks

The first part of the video news clip (h/t Paul Waldman), by CNBC correspondent Eamon Javers, is smoking-gun stunning.  And sickening.  Just watch the video or read the accompanying article.

The second part of it, which is a clip of White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, sure seems to me that for all his hesitation and careful wording, Earnest hints that Obama will fire Comey right after the election.

As for me, I want to forcefully retract my suggestion in this post yesterday that NYC FBI agents working on the Weiner case may have planted the emails of Weiner’s computer.

When I wrote that post, the reporting was that the emails at issue numbered about 1,000.  Today it is reported that they number in the tens of thousands—a number almost certainly not within the capacity of investigative FBI agents who are not computer forensics experts to gain access to and put onto a hard drive without it being obvious that that is what happened.  And it’s also now been reported that the agents knew of the emails on the laptop shortly after they took custody of it; the emails were on the hard drive shortly after the FBI took custody of it.

I wrote that post in reaction to the report early yesterday that Abedin has told friends and colleagues that she does not know how the emails came to be on Weiner’s personal computer–something that rings awfully likely to be true, given the enormous number of her personal emails that are now on Weiner’s personal computer.

I wrote here today that in light of today’s information, it appears far more likely that it was Russia that pulled this off than that it was an FBI-agent job.

The Oct. 7 report issued jointly by the NSA and Homeland Security Department stating their conclusion that Russia is responsible for the massive hacks of emails of the Democratic Nationals Committee, Clinton campaign officials and other organizations connected to Clinton or the Democratic Party, and was done with the intent to disrupt the national election—which is the focus of the CNBC report and is quoted in the video—has received almost no attention from the press.

That, I trust, will change now.  Oh, the irony.

Although, of course, you never know.

So Clinton and the Democrats should run ads showing that CNBC clip.  Big ad buys for it on the internet and TV would be good.

And BTW, the CNBC little bombshell nails it that Harry Reid was right about Comey and the Hatch Act, in my opinion.

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Several thoughts about Paul Krugman’s NYT column today – UPDATED regarding the Fourth Amendment issue, and (separately) the suddenly real possibility that Putin had the emails planted on Weiner’s laptop

Paul Krugman’s column today titled “Working the Refs,” which I linked to this morning in this post, is absolutely wonderful for its account of the breadth of what amounts to largely successful attempts at movement-rightwing takeover of so very much of American public life—journalism reportage and editing methodology, political punditry, decisonmaking by college and university academic hiring committees, self-styled-centrist fiscal policy organizations. (There is also the courts, but that’s really a separate matter.)

But there are two points I want to make about statements in his column.  One concerns the nature of Comey’s misconduct, which Krugman describes as violating “longstanding rules about commenting on politically sensitive investigations close to an election; and [doing] so despite being warned by other officials that he was doing something terribly wrong.”

That is only part of it, albeit the most immediately harmful part.  But pundits, and the public, should understand that it is a profound misuse of government investigatory and prosecutorial powers to release to the public raw information obtained through compulsory, and secret, investigatory information gathering—information gained through search warrants, grand jury testimony, etc.—and that this is so not only for politically sensitive investigations.

Comey’s deliberate decision, his acknowledged motive, to affect voters’ decisonmaking in an imminent election strikes me as criminal misconduct, as does the release of raw investigatory information irrespective of its political intent.  But these are two distinct issues, of equal importance.

Then again, as I said here yesterday, by Comey’s definition of cover-up, he is engaging in it, as Harry Reid noted in the letter he released yesterday.

I also want to point readers to Orin Kerr’s Washington Post blog post from yesterday titled “Was it legal for the FBI to expand the Weiner email search to target Hillary Clinton’s emails?”  Kerr blogs at the Washington Post’s The Volokh Conspiracy blog, whose contributors all are former law clerks to Republican-appointed justices, and current law professors.  All are center-right libertarians. Kerr, perhaps the least right of them is a law professor at George Washington University and a former law clerk for Anthony Kennedy. 

Kerr’s post begins:

FBI Director James B. Comey recently announced that the FBI had discovered new emails that might be relevant to the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email server. The emails were discovered in an unrelated case, and the FBI now plans to search through the emails as part of the Clinton server investigation.

Comey’s announcement raises an important legal question: Does expanding the FBI’s investigation from the unrelated case to the Clinton case violate the Fourth Amendment?

We don’t know all the facts yet, so it’s somewhat hard to say. But here’s why the expansion of the investigation might be constitutionally problematic. Consider this a tentative analysis unless and until more facts emerge.

He goes on to raise two Fourth Amendment concerns, one which he says, and I agree, seems sort of weak, the other which he says is a significant concern, his take on which is the same as mine in the comments thread to this post.

The FBI obtained a search warrant late yesterday, so the judge who granted it thought the Fourth Amendment wasn’t a bar to it.  But it should be noted that Comey issued his announcement before a search warrant was obtained and in the face of a potential Fourth Amendment issue that might have prevented the FBI from obtaining one.

The other point concerns Krugman’s awesome recitation, yet again, of how deficit mania grabbed a stranglehold on elite policymakers and so-called public intellectuals for so very, very long—and how devastating it has been throughout the last decade.  What he doesn’t mention—appropriately, I think, in that column, whose point is much larger, but inappropriately in any discussion by him (there have been many) of Hillary Clinton and her candidacy in the two or three weeks since a stolen WikiLinks document—this one, a transcript of a paid speech by her to (I think) Morgan Stanley in 2013—in which she says she supports the really awful Bowles-Simpson proposal that Krugman has deconstructed so often since it was announced years ago.

I do get his reluctance during this campaign to address that.  And Clinton clearly has reversed her views on virtually everything in that proposal, a change on her part that I believe is genuine.  But what angers me about Krugman’s consistent refusal to acknowledge this and other significant changes in Clinton’s policy positions, prompted to a significant extent initially by Bernie Sanders’ campaign—not least the healthcare insurance “public option” proposal”, which Clinton should campaign on at rallies—is Krugman’s borderline-vile attacks on Sanders during the primary season.

Clinton’s win in this election will be based on the sheer awfulness of Donald Trump and on the policy proposals Clinton adopted last summer because of the strength of Bernie’s campaign.  All that matters now is a Clinton victory and Democratic control of the Senate and large gains in the House.  And I plead with Bernie, with Elizabeth Warren, with Michelle and Barack Obama, to campaign maniacally for these candidates in the now-waning days of this campaign.

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UPDATE:  About an hour ago, Politico posted a lengthy discussion of the Fourth Amendment issue, by Josh Gerstein, Politico’s legal-issues correspondent.

Gerstein’s article also discusses the fact that Abedin says she does not know how what appears now to be a huge trove of emails of Abedins came to be on Weiner’s personal computer–an issue I discussed here yesterday in a post suggesting the possibility that NYC FBI agents planted it on Weiner’s computer after they gained custody of it.

But Gerstein’s article notes this: that Abedin had an email account on Clinton’s server.  Is it a reach to now suspect that Putin planted those emails on Weiner’s computer and planned somehow to make public just before the election that State Dept. emails are on Weiner’s computer hard drive?  As I mentioned in the Comments thread yesterday on my earlier post, in response to a joke by a reader’s comment, I’d considered that possibility by rejected it as implausible.

It’s now not at all implausible.  And it makes it imperative that, as Harry Reid demanded in his public letter to Comey yesterday, the Justice Department release the information it and other national security agencies have indicating direct coordination between Trump, or people on behalf of Trump, and Putin.

Adedin and Clinton and the Democratic National Committee should file an emergency court petition requesting a court order requiring release of that information.  I absolutely mean that.

And as I suggested in my earlier post, they should petition a court to allow private computer forensics experts, along with FBI forensics experts from an office far from NYC and Washington, DC. to examine the computer in order to determine when and how those emails came to be on it.

I absolutely mean that, too.

And please remember: Trump kept saying that Abedin was a State Dept. security risk because Weiner would have access to her emails.  He’s now saying he called it correctly.  The court petition should note this.

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PS: Since I’m more or less the legal-issues guru on this blog, I want to point readers to Jennifer Rubin’s blog post on this, with which I agree in every respect.

And since I’m also one of the political-issues gurus here, I want to recommend two perfect political cartoons, one by Tom Toles, the other by Ann Telnaes.

Added 10/31 at 4:08 p.m.

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Nope! Was the response when Senator Warren was asked about Harry Reid’s job.

By happenstance I heard today, Senator Warren’s interview on Here and Now.

I just wonder, was the answer to the question about running for the Democratic Senate top position adamant enough for those who keep pushing to have her run for a leadership position?  How is it that some of the leadership in the progressing/liberal genre not get that she is already a leader?  She’s leading already!  Now, let’s get a few more please.

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“Run Elizabeth Run” : for Majority Leader

Well quite the interesting news twist this morning as Senate Democratic Minority Leader Harry Reid announces he will not be running for re-election. Which of course launched the standard narrative of which current lieutenant would move up, giving us the rather stultifying debate of “Schumer vs Durbin”. Or Clinton’s former senior colleague vs Obama’s former senior colleage. Or Chicago vs Wall Street.

But DFA and the PCCC decided to throw a hand grenade in the mix. Progressives push for Warren as next Senate Democratic leader And this might just fly. Certainly it gives an outlet for the Ready for Warren folk and allows them to align with those people (like me) who always thought Elizabeth Warren could do more from the Senate. The beauty of this particular gambit is that Warren really doesn’t have to do anything different except double down on efforts to elect progressive Senators. Something she would naturally be doing anyway. With the bonus that this gives an outlet for frustrated progressives.

Can the Democrats retake the Senate? Well in a good turn-out year sure, we could reasonably expect Clinton coattails. But if you could energize that turnout among progressives who don’t exactly trill to Clintonian magic by showing that pushing for your own Senator could have big impacts should that translate into a Warren leadership that could indeed be a Big Biden Deal (hey this is a family blog). At a minimum it could strengthen Warren’s hand in leadership even if she didn’t nab the top spot.

Something to think about and kick around if you like.

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Greg Sargent confuses Obama with Elizabeth Warren. Or with Harry Reid. While Obama confuses the congressional Republicans with Michelle.

Presuming Republicans win the Upper Chamber, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will claim a new era of constructive governance has arrived, while simultaneously claiming a mandate to chip away at President Obama’s already achieved policy gains. (Those who profess a love for bipartisan cooperation will politely ignore this absurdity.) But McConnell’s only way to re-litigate Obama’s policies will remain budgetary guerrilla warfare that will only work if Obama allows it to work, which he won’t, which he won’t. This election won’t resolve any of the larger arguments of the Obama era — whether backward looking or forward looking — and while compromises may be possible here and there, the big picture will mostly be more stalemate.

Morning Plum: Get ready for more gridlock and dysfunction, Greg Sargent, this morning

McConnell’s only way to re-litigate Obama’s policies will remain budgetary guerrilla warfare that will only work if Obama allows it to work.  Which, if past is prologue, he will.  And with Obama, past is always prologue.

Obama spent the first three years of his presidency, and, intensely, 2011, waving the budgetary white flag so desperately that it was only the farthest-right contingent of House members that prevented significant changes to Social Security, Medicare and other major safety-net programs.  The House contingent that blocked the deal did so because it didn’t go far enough, in their opinion.  But it went very far.

What I remember most strikingly from that period, and what Sargent apparently has forgotten, is Obama’s angry public response to the death of this Republican-dream legislation. Always one to invoke some stunningly stupid family-is-like-government analogy, however clearly the analogy adopts the Republicans’ factually erroneous and very harmful policy mantras (“Families are tightening their belts, so the government should tighten its belt, too.”), Obama said he was willing to give the Republicans 90% of what they wanted if they would give him 10% of what he wanted, because that’s his arrangement with Michelle.

His party controlled the executive branch and one-half of the legislative branch.  But he was willing to give the one-half of the legislative branch controlled by the Republicans 90% of what they wanted.  If only they would stop looking that gift horse in the mouth.

Biden said yesterday that “we’re willing to compromise.”  Read: “We’re willing to cave.”  And the Dems’ standard-bearer-apparent—who’s aggressively blocking anyone else from running for the presidential nomination—couldn’t explain Keynesian economics, or cite healthcare coverage or healthcare-cost-reduction specifics, to save her life, yet she’s what will pass for the Dems’ fallback voice.

Great.

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Ted Olson Wants Congress to Bar the Koch Brothers’ Contributions to Incumbents. I Say: Good Idea!

Post updated below.

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Forty-six Senate Democrats have concluded that the First Amendment is an impediment to re-election that a little tinkering can cure. They are proposing a constitutional amendment that would give Congress and state legislatures the authority to regulate the degree to which citizens can devote their resources to advocating the election or defeat of candidates. Voters, whatever their political views, should rise up against politicians who want to dilute the Bill of Rights to perpetuate their tenure in office.

Led by Majority Leader Harry Reid, these Senate Democrats claim that they are merely interested in good government to “restore democracy to the American people” by reducing the amount of money in politics. Do not believe it. When politicians seek to restrict political speech, it is invariably to protect their own incumbency and avoid having to defend their policies in the marketplace of ideas.

—  Harry Reid Rewrites the First Amendment. When politicians seek to restrict speech, they are invariably trying to pr otect their own incumbency.  By Theodore B. Olson, Wall Street Journal, today

Hmmm.  The McCain-Feingold campaign-finance statute, which the Supreme Court largely eviscerated in Citizens United v. FEC in early 2010 and all but completed the job earlier this year in McCutcheon v. FEC, was enacted in 2002.  In 2006, the Democrats unexpectedly gained control of both the Senate and the House, largely by defeating, y’know, Republican incumbents, and substantially increased their majority in both houses in 2008, mainly by defeating, um, Republican incumbents.  Citizens United certainly helped the Republicans gain control of the House in 2010, but failed that year and again in 2012 to recapture the Senate.  Harry Reid won reelection in 2010, despite the Kochs’ and Karl Rove’s very best efforts.

Led by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Republicans, as Koch puppets, claim that by defeating the proposed constitutional amendment to nullify Citizens United and McCutcheon, they are merely interested in good government to “return democracy to the American people” by continuing to allow unlimited amounts of money in politics. Do not believe it. When politicians seek to have Congress and state legislatures controlled by plutocratic puppeteers who actually draft legislation secretly and then deliver the finished draft to their legislator puppets, it is invariably to protect their own incumbency and try to gain or retain a stranglehold on mechanisms of government and avoid having to defend their policies in the marketplace of ideas.

That said, if Ted Olson’s real concern is that a return to pre-Citizens United, McCain-Feingold-like campaign finance laws would just serve to strengthen incumbency, the obvious answer is to demand that Mitch McConnell, an incumbent currently running for reelection, step up to the plate, return his Koch contributions, and propose legislation that would restrict contributions to incumbents in order to give challengers a stronger voice.  That’s something that McConnell and his challenger, Alison Lundergan Grimes, might agree on.

It’s all about the First Amendment, see.

What a moronic op-ed.

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UPDATE: I posted the following comment in the Comments thread in response to some comments there indicating that some readers missed the specific intended point of this post:

The intended point of my post is that Olson’s claim is clearly false that removing restrictions on contributions by the very wealthy and corporations hurts incumbents. This is a canard that the right is using to try to tamp down anger about Citizens United and McCutcheon and the unlimited amounts of money that are now purchasing elections, candidates and elected officials—and to undermine attempts to nullify those opinions.

Clearly, the Kochs and other very, very wealthy people are individually paying huge amounts of money to finance McConnell’s campaign. McConnell is an incumbent. So are the current Republican House members whose reelection campaigns these people are funding. McConnell’s opponent isn’t an incumbent; she’s a challenger. So are the Democrats trying to unseat House Republican incumbents. This is a sleight-of-hand that Olson and the others think no one will notice. I noticed. It’s a false statement of fact.

9/9 at 12:09 p.m.

 

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Julie Boonstra, Americans for Prosperity, and the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire Trial

The Tea Party group Americans for Prosperity has now released its factual documentation for its misleading ad featuring Julie Boonstra, a Michigan woman stricken with Leukemia who suggests Obamacare forced her to take on a new plan that is now “unaffordable.” The ad has been widely pilloried ever since Glenn Kessler discovered that her premiums had come down, likely making her overall costs a wash or even cheaper. Gary Peters, the Dem candidate for Senate in Michigan, had written to TV stations insisting on documentation.

The documentation provided by AFP, which was passed along from TV stations by the Peters campaign, doesn’t actually back up the ad’s key claim. But it tells us something interesting about how the AFP campaign — and by extension, the broader GOP strategy against Obamacare — really work.

To buttress the ad’s charge that Boonstra’s “out of pocket charges are so high, it’s unaffordable,” AFP cites a single Politico article reporting that “consumers may have to dig a little deeper into their wallets to pay for health care in the Obamacare insurance exchanges,” because the law could mean additional out of pocket expenses. Needless to say, that doesn’t shed light on Boonstra’s individual situation. And on that front, AFP’s documentation offers this (emphasis mine):

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Eh. I’ve changed my mind. [UPDATED, twice!]

I want to remove the post I posted this afternoon called “Harry Reid Throws Down the Gauntlet In Front of … Obama.  Hurray.”  I think Reid has done exactly that, and I think he’ll play a much larger role in the debt ceiling debate and other fiscal-policy debates going forward, as will the other Dem senators.  Obama will have to get Reid’s approval before he caves on anything major.  And I don’t think Reid will approve of any major cave.  So it doesn’t matter that much whether Obama wants to cave.  What matters is the extent to which Reid will let him cave.  

The main point of my post was to say that the pol/pundit/news-analysis crowd seems to have missed this.  But in my post, I also said I’m glad that the agreement was reached, and gave my reasons why I thought it was better than going over the cliff.  I said I was concerned about the effect of failing to extend unemployment insurance, and some other things.  And, although I didn’t say this in my post, I think Boehner would not have allowed an up-or-down vote on the $250,000 income-tax-hike floor, so some compromise probably would have come about then anyway.

But I’ve changed my mind–or, rather, I’m just not sure–that going over the cliff would not have gotten a better result on the Bush tax cuts.  So … apologies to my hero. I agree with Paul Krugman, after all. 
Whew. A return to normalcy.

That said, I don’t think this deal is the end on the issue of the permanence of the Bush tax hikes.  I think that during the upcoming debt ceiling controversy, the public will come to realize that important expenditures will have to be cut, or the deficit reduced less, because of the loss of revenue as a result of the failure to end those tax cuts except for those with incomes above $450,000, and the failure to lower the estate tax floor (a real travesty).  

But while Obama can’t seem to articulate this with any specificity or clarity, others–including Elizabeth Warren–in the new Senate will, I think.  The public is paying attention.  And Obama is no longer the only Democratic game in town.  A recognition of this is what’s been missing from most of the commentary and analysis.  But the next two years, and the 2014 campaign, will be playing out on a Dem-policy home field.  The Republicans lost the home-field advantage when they lost the election.  

To borrow a line from Ann Romney, it’s our turn now.
Should I leave the earlier post, or remove it, readers?

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UPDATE:  Oh, no! I’ve changed my mind again!  I just read Matthew Yglesias’s take on all this, and he agrees with my first post.  (Okay, my first post agrees with his take; he posted first.)  And he’s completely convinced me that I was right the first time.

So, now the question is: Should I remove this post?  OMG.  This cliff thing is really stressing me out.

The good news, now that I’ve changed my mind again, is that Yglesias thinks Krugman agrees with my first post, not my second one.

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SECOND UPDATE: Wow. A consensus is developing. I was right the first time!

Seriously, E. J. Dionne posted the definitive column on this. He’s right. This is a significant start to a progressive future. That was my immediate reaction. And it’s my final one.

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