Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Jeeps Made w/American Steel by Union Workers in Toledo

CLEVELAND — Hillary Clinton entered the final phase of her campaign on Friday, working to ensure a victory that is decisive enough to earn a mandate for her presidency and a surge of voters to help Democrats win congressional races.

Emerging from a nine­-day absence from the trail, Mrs. Clinton seized on the momentum of her performance in the final presidential debate, choosing Ohio — a battleground state where she has struggled the most against Donald J. Trump — as her first stop on a four­-day swing. With new polls showing Mrs. Clinton closing in on Mr. Trump in the state, her campaign is glimpsing the opportunity for a clean sweep of traditional swing states.

Reminding voters of Mr. Trump’s refusal in Wednesday’s debate to say definitively he would accept the outcome on Election Day, Mrs. Clinton said that as secretary of state she had visited countries whose leaders jailed political opponents and invalidated elections they did not win. “We know in our country the difference between leadership and dictatorship,” she said.

She also portrayed herself as a the candidate who could attract independent, undecided and even Republican voters unhappy with Mr. Trump’s campaign. “I want to say something to people who may be reconsidering their support of my opponent,” she said. “I know you still may have questions for me, I respect that. I want to answer them. I want to earn your vote.”

Her stop here marked the start of a rare multiday tour of swing states as the Clinton campaign revved up its efforts to decisively defeat Mr. Trump on Nov. 8, including releasing a powerful minute­-long ad featuring Khizr Khan, the father of a Muslim American soldier killed in Iraq. The ad featuring Mr. Khan, who was attacked by Mr. Trump after he spoke at the Democratic convention, will run in Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, as well as other crucial states.

Hillary Clinton Makes Pitch for Mandate and a Swing-­State Sweep, Trip Gabriel and Ashley Parker, New York Times, today

She knows some voters still may have questions for me, and she respects that and wants to answer them, and earn her listeners’ vote?  Does she think those questions are whether or not she would accept the outcome on Election Day if she lost?  And about whether as president she’d trash families of fallen U.S. Armed Services members who are Muslim, and attempt to categorically keep Muslims from immigrating here?

Who does she think that reminding voters of Trump’s actions and words of those sorts, including ones that has dominated the news and internet since last Wednesday night, is concerned about whether Clinton would do these things?

Clinton obviously thinks that these things are the only things that moderates and mainstream Republicans would support her about.  That’s what’s been at the heart of her campaign from its inception to, apparently, this very minute.  And it’s why she’ll win only because of who her opponent is, and why Dem Senate candidates are struggling so hard.

Paul Krugman keeps pushing the line that Clinton actually  is a terrific candidate, and by golly she’d be way ahead against Rubio or another mainstream Republican, partly because those candidates’ policy agendas and base-baiting lines are mostly pretty similar to Trump’s.  He’s right about mainstream Republican candidates’ policy agendas and, certainly, about the meaning of the Rubio bot.  But he probably still would be very much in the running to beat Clinton—who herself is trapped in a bot.

Meanwhile, yesterday, there was this little news story:

Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown and a staffer were in a car crash in the senator’s home state on Thursday, but have been released after receiving treatment for minor injuries at a Cleveland area hospital.

The Columbus Dispatch reports that Brown and the staffer were driving from Columbus to Brown’s home in Cleveland when they were hit by another car around 4 p.m.

Brown, a Democrat, thanked hospital staff and the makers of his Jeep Cherokee in a statement to the newspaper. “[M]y Jeep Cherokee, made with American steel by union workers in Toledo, made all the difference in allowing us to walk away from this crash, a little stiff, but unharmed,” he said.

Brown reaffirmed his thanks in a Twitter post on Friday: “Thx for care & concern. Doing fine. Grateful to Parma police, medical staff & my Jeep made w/American steel by union workers in Toledo,” he wrote.

The Dispatch also reports that “Brown’s rescue dog Franklin, strapped in with a harness, was uninjured.”

Sherrod Brown treated for minor injuries after car crash, Madeline Conway, Politico

I don’t doubt that the ad featuring Mr. Khan is powerful.  But I do doubt that it will sway many wavering Rust Belters, because they already know Mr. Khan’s message.

Had the Clinton stranglehold on the Democratic Party apparatus (certainly including donors) not elbowed out the very thought of any progressive other than Bernie Sanders—who ran only because no other progressive would—Sherrod Brown I think would have.  And would be about to witness a largely-progressive Democratic wave not seen since Franklin Roosevelt’s death.

Instead, Democrats may not even retake the Senate.

Even Franklin probably knows that things such as NLRB appointments would be good to mention in Ohio.  Maybe he can tell Clinton.  Since her campaign gurus apparently haven’t.

 

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ADDENDUM:  Gail Collins’s NYT column today, titled “Don’t Take Donald Trump to Dinner,” is mostly about Trump’s jarring use of the annual Catholic Charities dinner in NYC a few days ago as just another forum for his usual ugly comments about Clinton.  But Collins also said this:

In a perfect world, Hillary Clinton would then have gotten up and given the most good-­natured speech in political history, scrapping all the barbed lines in her prepared script, like the one about how a Trump White House would be awkward for gatherings of the ex­-presidents (“How is Barack going to get past the Muslim ban?”). But she didn’t change a word, because Clinton is not a spontaneous politician.

If this were a normal election, we could have a very interesting discussion about how programmed she can be, and whether that would be a problem if she’s elected. But as things stand, unless we discover she’s actually an android, there’s just no point.

I wouldn’t have expected Clinton to spontaneously scrap her prepared speech and give an entirely off-the-cuff one, and at least that joke that Collins quoted was funny and pointed at Trump’s and the alt-right’s actual words and positions.

But this is a person who genuinely seems unable to take a breath on her own, and who apparently delegated to campaign consultants and advisors her campaign’s very raison d’être.  G.W. Bush did the same.  But that was unusual.  And it was a very different political era, although Clinton and her circle hadn’t noticed this until Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump forced them to belatedly, and even then not really.  Or at least not fully.  Even yet.

We have no choice now but to look forward, not backward.  But anyone who thinks that had either one run, Elizabeth Warren or Sherrod Brown would not be about to usher in a genuinely progressive era, is willfully blind.  That is precisely because a Warren or a Brown campaign’s raison d’être would be Warren’s or Brown’s own raison d’être as politicians to begin with, argued eloquently and passionately, and contrasted to their Republican opponent’s and the Republican Party’s—in their own words, their own sentences, their own paragraphs.

Added 10/22 at 4:40 p.m.

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John Boehner Lists Our Presidential Thieves–And Ronald Reagan Is Among Them!

“The revenue issue is now closed,” Mr. Boehner said Thursday, before the House left town for the weekend without acting on the cuts and a Senate attempt to avert them died. Mr. Boehner said the dispute with Democrats amounted to a question of “how much more money do we want to steal from the American people to fund more government.”

“I’m for no more,” he said.

Boehner Halts Talks on Cuts, and House G.O.P. Cheers, Ashley Parker, New York Times, today

So Ronald Reagan was a thief.  Who knew?  

And so, it’s now clear, was every president beginning with Abraham Lincoln. Until George W. Bush, that is.  Teddy Roosevelt? Yup. Calvin Coolidge? Uh-huh. Harry Truman? I guess that’s what they meant by “hell” that he was giving ’em. They each stole from the American people via income taxes to fund the federal government. 

But since FDR was the one who initiated the stealing to pay for such specifics as Social Security, the Tennessee Valley Authority and other New Deal programs, we’ll start with him.  He also stole–a lot–from American people to pay for WWII.  

Dwight Eisenhower, JFK, LBJ, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter perpetuated this theft. Big time.  Of course, Nixon, who assured the country that he was not a crook, did turn out to be one after all, so in retrospect, his theft from the American people was just in character.  And we knew all along that Dwight Eisenhower was the perpetrator of the theft from Americans that established a Soviet-style interstate highway system–or so Florida Rep. John Mica, the last Congress’s chairman of the House Transportation Committee, would describe the socialist ownership of the interstate highways. (That is the way he described Amtrak. And he wasn’t talking about its slowness and disrepair.)*

That controversial statue of Eisenhower that’s planned for D.C. should be scratched, not because of its design, which his ancestors dislike, but because of his criminality.

LBJ, of course, stole a lot of money from American people in order to fund the Vietnam War, a theft that this country did pay a very high price for, although not in a lengthy prison sentence after indictment and conviction for grand larceny.  But if that weren’t bad enough–from a criminal-law standpoint, that is–he also stole lots of money to fund the student-loan program that helped so many baby boomers go to college and graduate school.  Some of them–the ones who became hedge fund managers, anyway–would now be in imminent danger of becoming crime victims themselves, rather than the beneficiaries of thefts past, but John  Boehner has infiltrated the den of thieves and had has called the FBI, which, luckily, still has some agents working full-time schedules, despite the sequester.

And we won’t even get into George H.W. Bush, who, as we all know, lost his reelection bid to Bill Clinton partly because he had firmly and repeatedly promised during his first campaign to not steal more from the American people than was already being stolen, only to turn around and rob the American people blind. Luckily, he son was available eight years later to provide restitution, although his Department of Justice never did indict his father.  

And, speaking of Bill Clinton–well, they didn’t call him Slick Willie for nothing, did they?

But Reagan? Reagan?  Et tu?  Yup. I keep forgetting that tax rates were much higher during Reagan’s time as president then they are now, and that after lowering tax rates, he raised some.  He’s dead now, so he can’t be indicted.  And anyway, I think the statute of limitations has run. Which is too bad.

But Bill Clinton is very much alive, and active.  And since Obama seems unwilling to rebut Boehner’s and other Republicans’ intended inferential misrepresentation that Obama’s and the congressional Democrats’ tax-increase proposals, now and the ones enacted as part of the “fiscal cliff” resolution in early January, would tax Americans other than Americans who are quite wealthy, or who have income from capital gains or dividends and who still pay taxes for that income at lower rates than during the Reagan or the Clinton era, or who are corporate Americans.  

The Republicans expect that they will get a majority of Americans to believe falsely that the Dems are proposing to raise their taxes.  If Obama remains mute instead of correcting this misrepresentation, Clinton should step in and do that.  He should hang the taxes-as-stealing statement around John Boehner’s neck, and then tighten the noose by answering the question Boehner posed: How much more money do we want to steal from the American people to fund more government?  He then should answer the questions, from which American people, and for what? And he should be specific.

But he also should ask this: Since when is it theft of Americans to institute tax increases that a majority of Americans who voted in the recent election actually specifically voted for? And he should point out that what Boehner really thinks the crime is is that public prefers that the federal government continue to fund Medicare and other social safety-net programs, as well as myriad other services, agencies and perks of being an American; the National Institutes of Health, the National Parks Service, FEMA, and the EPA come quickly to mind, but of course there are many others.

As criminality goes, the aggressive attempts to undermine the very nature of democratic government, through an unremitting series of stunts and use of bizarre language and concerted campaigns of disinformation, strike me as more serious ones than the theft of wealthy Americans through tax increases that would remain substantially lower than they were during most of the 20th Century.  

But, by all means, Speaker Boehner, bring on the theft language, again and again.  Keep it up, all the way through the 2014 midterm elections. Please. But if you don’t feel like it, hopefully the Dem congressional candidates will pick up the slack and help you out with that, in their TV and Internet commercials.  

It should help them steal some elections.

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*Parenthetical added after initial posting.

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