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

Credit Card Interest Rates

Marquette Nat. Bank of Minneapolis v. First of Omaha Service Corp., 439 U.S. 299 (1978). In a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court decision, the court held states anti-usury laws regulating interest rates unenforceable against nationally chartered banks based in other states.

Justice William Brennan: It was the intent of Congress when it passed the National Banking Act, nationally chartered banks would be subject only to federal regulation by the Comptroller of Currency and the laws of the state in which they were chartered, and that only Congress or the appropriate state legislature could pass the laws regulating them.

This was one of the more important decisions by SCOTUS as it allowed banks chartered in one state to have the same interest rates in other states, offer credit cards nationally, and beat out the bank competition in other states who might be subject to stricter regulations.

At the time Justice Brennan felt congress would act to allow states to have more freedom in regulating banks within their borders by changing the National Banking Act. “This impairment may in fact be accentuated by the ease with which interstate credit is available by mail through the use of modern credit cards,” he allowed. “But the protection of state usury laws is an issue of legislative policy, and any plea to alter [the law] to further that end is better addressed to the wisdom of Congress than to the judgment of this Court.”

Of course, it did not happen. And who said Congress had any wisdom or care for their constituents?

Perhaps, someone can point to another time when Congress has altered the National Banking Act. The only other time I can recall was when Congress repealed Glass-Steagall and altered the National Banking Act to allow Sandy Weil’s Citibank to acquire Travelers Insurance and move into investing on Wall Street.

More recently, Bernie Sanders has introduced new legislation. In the past, Bernie had introduced legislation in 2009 to cap interest rates which went “no-where” quickly. There are probably other Senate or House members who have also attempted to cap interest rates and ran thee banking gauntlet opposing any such change to their usurious interest rates and other charges.

In a joint statement;

“The American people are sick and tired of being ripped off by the same financial institutions they bailed out ten years ago. If we are going to create a financial system that works for all Americans, we have got to stop financial institutions from charging outrageous interest rates and fees.”

Both Senator and Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Congressional Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) are teaming up on a bill to cap credit card and payday loan interest rates at 15%. In some cases, this is 50% lower than what is being offered today for what is termed as riskier loans or short term payday, etc. types.

Moving on and considering other presidential candidates who may have a difference of opinion than Sanders. It is no secret Delaware Senator Joe Biden has been a big supporter of banks since the seventies and has sponsored and helped to put into play many new laws which prevented students from getting relief or declaring bankruptcy to them from the signature loans made to them. When then President Obama spoke out against credit-card lenders calling them “‘outrageous’ and ‘looked forward to reviewing additional legislation that caps interest rates,'” VP Joe Biden was silent on the issue. Joe knew which side his bread was buttered on then and for that matter today also. Constituents can expect no help from Joe Biden.

When a similar bill capping credit card interest rates at 15% was introduced, half of the Democrats joined Republicans in 2009. It lost 60 to 33. This gives you an idea of how deep the politics run between Banks and the conservative Republicans and Democrats. Consider for a moment how long it took for either party to make this an issue or at least one party. Since 1978 . . .

In particular, I am eager to see how Joe Biden responds to Bernie Sanders proposal to cap interest rates. “Biden is more reliant on the kinds of big donors and high dollar events Democratic primary voters frown upon.”

Run75441 (Bill H)

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A Particularly Poignant, and Revealing, Juxtaposition of Politico Articles Published a Day Apart

Terry Havener, 62, a retired union carpenter, pictured with Johnstown in the background. He was hoping for Bernie. He voted for Jill Stein. | Scott Goldsmith for Politico Magazine

— Photo caption in THE FRIDAY COVER: What Trump Voters Want Now The blue-collar workers who put Donald Trump in the White House are ready for him to deliver. How much time will they give him?, Politico, article by Michael Kruse, yesterday

Juxtapose that article with a Politico article by Ben White, from a day earlier, titled “Bankers celebrate dawn of Trump era: A populist candidate who railed against shady financial interests on the trail is putting together an administration that looks like an investment banker’s dream.

Yesterday’s article is mostly about lifelong Democrats in Johnstown, Penn., who voted at least once for Obama (who won the town and its county both times) but who voted for Trump, who there decisively.  So Mr. Havener is the exception in that he didn’t vote for Trump.  But neither did he vote for Clinton.

These are not Trump’s “base” voters, and they make clear that Trump will not hold them for long by trying to lie his way through his administration.  The Mad Hatter routine will not work with them.  This will be the most virulently pro-corporate, pro-already-extremely-wealthy administration since Warren Harding’s, and they will know it.

Elizabeth Warren on Thursday gave a fairly detailed speech on the Senate floor listing Trump’s many statements and explicit promises to working-class voters, juxtaposed with the express positions of the people in charge of respective relevant parts of Trump’s transition team: an aggressive proponent of privatizing Social Security in charge of selecting top people at HHS, as just one of many specific examples Warren listed.

I would love to see ads run on Rust Belt media markets showing that part of Warren’s speech.  And then warning that Trump will simply say that he’s doing exactly the opposite of what he’s actually doing.  This is the way to fight this.  It is the only way to fight this.  These are not terribly expensive media markets.

These ads also should run through social media, on Facebook as ads and in news feeds, and in Twitter feeds.  They should become a regular feature of American life.  They would be funded in the same way that the Sanders campaign was.  And they should say that.

Meanwhile, there is the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend.  People should get this information to their relatives through Facebook ahead of the holiday, if possible, and at the Thanksgiving dinner if Trump is discussed.

____

ADDENDUM: Reader EMichael, who is originally from Pennsylvania, and I just had an exchange of several comments in the Comments thread that readers of this post will be interested in, I think.

Added 11/19 at 10:40 a.m.

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It’s Clear By Now That the Second-Most Powerful Person in the Federal Government Will Be Bernie Sanders.

The Big Question Is, Who is the MOST Powerful Person: Paul Ryan or Donald Trump?

“I think my title [of head of outreach] is to be head of outreach and that’s something that I take very seriously,” he said, without explaining any more about the new role.

But Sanders did pound home his remedies for the Democratic Party.

“We need major, major reforms to the Democratic Party,” Sanders said going on to say that Trump was able to tap into discontent among Americans who felt completely ignored by the rest of the American political system.

Trump, Sanders continued, “said I hear that you are hurting and I hear and understand that you’re worried about the future, about your kids, and I alone can do something about it — and people voted for him.”

Sanders went on to tick off the promises Trump made that Democrats would hold him accountable for.

“He said we will not cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Now I think that we should expand Social Security,” Sanders continued. “That is what he said, and pay attention to see what he now does. The question that will be resolved pretty quickly is whether or not everything that he was saying to the working class of this country was hypocrisy, was dishonest or whether he was sincere — and we will find out soon enough.”

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The Democratic Establishment Thinks the Lesson of This Election Is That the Way For Democrats to Win Over White Voters In the Industrial Midwest Is to Switch Sides in the Culture Wars. I Guess. [Updated.]

The race to be the next head of the Democratic National Committee has quickly turned into a proxy fight between liberals and establishment types about where the party needs to go in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s stunning loss at the hands of Donald Trump on Tuesday.

Liberals are insistent that Clinton’s defeat was the result of nominating a candidate who failed to excite the party’s base of progressives, African Americans and Hispanics. Establishment voices fret that nominating a liberal to run the party misses the point of an election in which Clinton’s loss can be directly traced to her inability to win over white voters in the industrial Midwest.

“The next DNC chair needs to understand what became painfully obvious in the election — that there are two different Americas and that Democrats are really struggling to bridge the gap between the two,” said Mo Elleithee, a longtime Democratic operative who runs the Georgetown University Institute of Politics and Public Service. “The fundamental problem is that the party stopped really communicating what it means to be a Democrat.” …

“This is suddenly a really important gig as one of the centers of opposition,” said one longtime Democratic strategist who spoke on the condition of anonymity to candidly assess the DNC race. “You can’t do it part time, and you shouldn’t do it while sitting inside one of the most despised institutions in the country.”

What the DNC chair race tells us about the fight for the Democratic Party’s future, Chris Cillizza, Washington Post, yesterday

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At least as of yesterday morning, the Democratic establishment still didn’t get it. Then again, as of late yesterday, neither did the Republican establishment. And neither did Donald Trump. [UPDATED]

CHUCK SCHUMER’S TOUGH BALANCING ACT: CNN reports on an interesting dynamic to keep an eye on:

“For Schumer, the challenges will be formidable. He’ll have to listen to the vocal and outspoken progressive wing of his caucus, led by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who have legions of supporters. But he also has five red-state Democrats in states Trump won convincingly — Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia — up for re-election in 2018. And if Schumer takes his caucus too far to the left, he’s bound to could put his moderates in a difficult political spot.”

Worth watching: Whether those red state Democrats claim the party has moved too far to “the left” when it resists Trump’s agenda.

The first big political war of Trump’s presidency will be explosive, Greg Sargent, Washington Post, yesterday at 9:55 a.m.

Late yesterday I received a listserve email from Bernie Sanders’ new organization, Our Revolution, asking what we most wanted the organization to do immediately.  I haven’t responded yet, but my message will be a plea that it begin an intensive effort to inform the public in the Rust Belt states, and the Midwest generally, of what exactly the Conservative Legal Movement was, and is, up to regarding handing control of the federal courts, and federal law, to billionaires and mega-corporate interests.

That’s what Citizens United was really about.  But it’s also what a slew of other 5-4 Supreme Court rulings have been about since the Conservative Legal Movement gained that majority on the Court.  And during the three decades when it thoroughly controlled the federal appellate and trial-level courts.

The Supreme Court effectively rewrote the Federal Arbitration Act to forced-arbitration clauses in almost every aspect of employment, consumer (including banking and credit card law), and securities law.  It also rewrote that Act so that it uses those forced arbitration clauses to effectively eliminate class actions.

It literally rewrote the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure, Rule 8(a), that sets the parameters for what lawsuit complaints, the legal pleading must state

It has been extremely hostile to labor unions; Samuel Alito openly invites the filing of litigation whose very goal is to undermine or outright eliminate them.

Every single one of these attacks, and many others, were born and grew up through a precision pipeline system of think tanks and so-called legal foundations, small, non-profit (thus “Foundation” as part of their title) law firms, all funded by extreme economic self-styled libertarian (the Madison Avenue-inspired ideological label they use) billionaires, including the Kochs, financial-industry billionaire families that include the Mercers and the Ricketts and who were top funders of Trump’s general-election campaign, and oil-and-gas billionaires, including top funders of Trump’s general-election and primary campaigns.

And that includes, extremely significantly, the Federalist Society, cofounded in about 1980 by Antonin Scalia, and whose most aggressive and unabashed members include Alito, Clarence Thomas and a slew of high-profile members of the federal appellate bench.  John Roberts also apparently was a member, although very quietly, throughout his career as a lawyer.

What I want most, and most immediately, for Our Revolution to do is to begin a major public-awareness push to tell all those Midwesterners and other Rust Belters—including those in rural areas and small towns—what exactly Trump was saying when he promised during the campaign to appoint justices in the mold of Antonin Scalia.  And who, exactly—who, exactly—is feeding him the names on list of possible Supreme Court nominees.  And who exactly will be feeding him recommendations for lower federal court appointments.

Suffice it to say, it ain’t the Rust Belters and Midwesterners who brung him, late in the game, to this dance because they support the Paul Ryan fiscal plan whose goal is to all-but-eliminate both taxes on the wealthy and the social safety net programs, such as food stamps and Medicaid, that many of them rely upon for, literally, survival.

Nor was it because they salivate at the thought of industry lobbyists writing legislation to be fed quickly through Congress and onto President Trump’s desk for him to sign.

Nor, I’ll venture, was it because they want the Supreme Court and the lower federal courts to be proxy arms of economic-winger billionaires and industries ranging from Wall Street to Walmart to communications to chemical and pharmaceutical, to Big Ag, to fossil fuel and lumber industries.   As they were for roughly three decades.

Mitt Romney received the votes of the deplorables, without whose support Trump would not have won.  But Romney isn’t president.  Barack Obama is.  Trump’s bizarre efforts beginning in 2011 to change that fact, notwithstanding.

Yet throughout the day yesterday, the news was filled with Ryan’s and McConnell’s exaltation at their expectation that President Trump will effectively be President Ryan.  Puppet Trump, in other words.  They’ll serve him avalanches of legislation to sign.  And they will control the key appointments to every single federal agency and commission that they want to control.  Which is almost all of them.

Including the SEC and the NLRB, the FDA, the FTC and the FCC.  As well as the Interior Dept., which they presume now will simply hand over to the lumber and fossil fuel industries massive amounts of federal lands.

Which brings me to this: Every bit as important as informing the public of this, for Our Revolution, for the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, for Democracy for America, and the reconstructed, soon-to-be-Sanders-supported DNC—and for Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren themselves—to do, right now, is to begin a massive public information campaign about this that targets House members and Senate Republicans up for reelection in 2018.  In their states.  In their districts.  Including seemingly safe ones in the Rust Belt and the entire Midwest.

We have their number.  As we do Donald Trump’s.  And we have the grass-roots movement and the social-media networks to determine their latitude for installing these virulently anti-working class, pro-billionaire, pro-mega-corporate, pro-mega-powerful-industry cooptation of each of the three branches of the federal government.  Including that professed savior of the working class, Donald Trump.

I still remember looking that the map of Michigan’s counties the day after the primary last March, showing how each county voted in each of the two primaries—and being utterly stunned looking at the one for the Democratic primary.  If I recall correctly, every single county except Wayne (home to Detroit) and Genesee (Flint and surrounding area)—both counties largely African-American—voted for Sanders.  The Republican stronghold counties in the western part of the state all the way along or near Lake Michigan, went heavily for Bernie.  And, had African-Americans in Wayne and Genesee voted for Clinton roughly 3-1, as projected, instead of roughly 2-1, as they did, Bernie still would not have beaten her.

Apparently Chuck Schumer is unaware of this.  Bernie should tell him.  The old sheriff is gone, run out of town, or more accurately, the country, on Tuesday.  There’s a new sheriff in the country.  Named economic populism.

It could have been our sheriff; thanks to folks like you, it wasn’t.  But we can make due with the one who is not ours.

One side of this divide—the wealthy Republican and corporate elite, proxied by Ryan, McConnell, and the Federalist Society, or the folks responsible in such large part for bringing Trump to the dance—will control the federal government.  Puppet Trump. Puppeteers Ryan, McConnell, Wall Street and other industry lobbyists, and the Federalist Society.  On the other side, Rust Belt and Midwestern blue-collar voters.  Including labor union members.

And if it’s the former, it will last only until January 2019.  Believe me.

Better yet, believe Bernie Sanders.

 

____

UPDATE:  Holyyyy macaroni.  Chuck Schumer’s gotten the message now.  It took two and a half days.  But he’s gotten it now.

See “Schumer throws his support behind Keith Ellison for DNC chairman,” posted about an hour ago on the Washington Post’s website.

Wow.

So the first big political war turned out to be a two-and-a-half-day-long skirmish.  And this is why.  The times, they are a-changin’.  Really, really quickly.  In the Democratic Party.

Updated added 11/11 at 11:19 a.m.  Just past the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.  It’s Veterans’ Day, folks.  Not to equate the two events, of course.  Just to acknowledge the meaning of Veterans’ Day, which originally was called Armistice Day.

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I RETRACT MY RETRACTION: A cabal of NYC FBI agents (including, or solely, Bret Baier’s false “indictment” leaker), may well have PLANTED those emails on Weiner’s laptop–

possibly at the behest of Rudy Giuliani or James Kallstrom, or both, who ARE part of the cabal’s conspiracy to violate the Hatch Act (to name just one of a slew of federal criminal statutes these folks have violated).*

Did NYC FBI Agents Plant Those Emails on Weiner’s Computer Once They Gained Custody of It?  The Evidence Appears to Suggest … Possibly.

— Me, in a post bearing that as its title, Oct. 30

I retracted that the next day, writing, “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.”

And now I am retracting the retraction.

At 1:03 a.m. on Thursday, the Daily Beast published a detailed investigative report by Wayne Garrett  titled “Meet Donald Trump’s Top FBI Fanboy” and subtitled “Trump supporters with strong ties to the agency kept talking about surprises and leaks to come—and come they did.”

The words “‘Integrity Questioned’” appear above the title in small red lettering.  It is a quote from this paragraph in the article:

Along with Giuliani’s other connections to New York FBI agents, his former law firm, then called Bracewell Giuliani, has long been general counsel to the FBI Agents Association (FBIAA), which represents 13,000 former and current agents. The group, born in the New York FBI office in the early ’80s, was headed until Monday by Rey Tariche, an agent who just retired from the New York FBI office. In Tariche’s letter to the Association stepping down as president because he’s retiring from the Bureau to take a job “within the Banking Industry,” he wrote that “we find our work—our integrity questioned” because of it, adding “we will not be used for political gains.”

The paragraphs preceding that one read:

Hours after Comey’s letter about the renewed probe was leaked on Friday, Giuliani went on a radio show and attributed the director’s surprise action to “the pressure of a group of FBI agents who don’t look at it politically.”

“The other rumor that I get is that there’s a kind of revolution going on inside the FBI about the original conclusion [not to charge Clinton] being completely unjustified and almost a slap in the face to the FBI’s integrity,” said Giuliani. “I know that from former agents. I know that even from a few active agents.”

I follow political news quite closely, yet it wasn’t until late last night that I knew of the Daily Beast article, when I read a comment in the Comments thread to this post of mine, linking to it.

What did get a lot of publicity is Bret Baier’s Wednesday announcements fabricated by what turned out to be the concoction of a single NYC FBI agent.  Roger Stone may have played a role in it, but Kallstrom and Giuliani almost certainly did.  Giuliani knew a couple of days before Baier’s false reports that these would occur.

In addition to conspiracy to violate the Hatch Act, these people have violated a slew of federal criminal statutes including wire fraud, misuse of government property and personnel, and conspiracy to commit those crimes.

So here’s what I would like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren to ask millennials when they campaign today, tomorrow and Monday for Clinton AND Senate and House candidates: Why on earth do they think that the sudden discovery of Huma Abedin’s email correspondence with Clinton on Anthony Weiner’s laptop—however it got there—should entitle Donald Trump to control the FBI, the entire Justice Department, the Supreme Court, and the lower federal courts?

As well as painting with a Republican-controlled Senate and a Republican-controlled House?

Weirdly, apparently this isn’t a rhetorical question.  Read the comments of millennials in this article.

They’re just too disgusted with politics, you know, to care who is president and who controls congress, who controls the federal agencies, who controls the Supreme Court, and who controls the entire federal bench, and their own state’s legislatures, see.

Bernie and Elizabeth, please inform them on this.  Loudly.

The transformation of the FBI into a government investigative arm and innuendo and false or partial information arm of the Republican Party during elections is a profound matter. And the decision by the FBI director to announce that federal and state law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies should be “transparent” by announcing raw, unformed, and uncertain information about candidates for public office on the eve of elections so that voters will know about it when they vote is serious banana republic stuff.

Comey almost certainly will resign shortly after the election.  Succumbing to extortionate threats of leaks by some of the agency’s agents and making a series of ridiculous claims that the devil, er, the law, made him do it, while also outright stating to the agency’s entire employment roster and therefore to all the world that he acted as he did in part to provide voters with in formation he thought they should have before they voted, would, I assume, sort of make it hard for him to remain in that post.

And maybe these faint-of heart millennials should care whether or not it is Trump or Clinton who names the next FBI director.  And whether its a Democratic-controlled, or instead a Republican-controlled, Senate that holds (or doesn’t) confirmation hearings on this nominee.  And Supreme Court an lower-federal court judicial nominees. 

But if that involves just tooooo complex an analysis for them to engage in, there is that email thing that is a handy excuse.

Apparently.

*Post title edited for clarity. 11/5 at 3:23 p.m.

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Here’s what’s missing from reports that “[t]he FCC just passed sweeping new rules to protect your online privacy” by a 3-2 vote: That the three who voted for the Rule are Democrats and that the two who voted against it are Republicans. And that the president’s party gets the majority of board members, from which the chairman is selected.

Federal regulators have approved unprecedented new rules to ensure broadband providers do not abuse their customers’ app usage and browsing history, mobile location data and other sensitive personal information generated while using the Internet.

The rules, passed Thursday in a 3-2 vote by the Federal Communications Commission, require Internet providers, such as Comcast and Verizon, to obtain their customers’ explicit consent before using or sharing that behavioral data with third parties, such as marketing firms.

Also covered by that requirement are health data, financial information, Social Security numbers and the content of emails and other digital messages. The measure allows the FCC to impose the opt-in rule on other types of information in the future, but certain types of data, such as a customer’s IP address and device identifier, are not subject to the opt-in requirement. The rules also force service providers to tell consumers clearly what data they collect and why, as well as to take steps to notify customers of data breaches.

“It’s the consumers’ information,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. “How it is used should be the consumers’ choice. Not the choice of some corporate algorithm.”

The fresh regulations come as Internet providers race to turn their customers’ behavioral data into opportunities to sell targeted advertising. No longer content to be the conduits to websites, social media and online video, broadband companies increasingly view the information they collect on users as they traverse the Web as a source of revenue in itself.

With its move, the FCC is seeking to bring Internet providers’ conduct in line with that of traditional telephone companies that have historically obeyed strict prohibitions on the unauthorized use or sale of call data.

But the Internet era has brought new challenges, in some cases creating different categories of personal information — and ways to use it — that did not exist in the telephone era. And as the line increasingly blurs between traditional network operators and online content companies, regulators have struggled to keep pace.

For example, Verizon’s acquisitions of AOL and Yahoo are both aimed at monetizing Internet usage beyond the straightforward sale of broadband access. With greater insights into customer behavior, the company could market additional services or content to its wireless subscribers as part of a bundle, policy analysts say. That arrangement could allow Verizon to effectively earn money twice from the same subscriber — once for the data plan, and then again when the customer consumes Verizon-affiliated content.

Although Thursday’s vote by the FCC requires companies, such as Verizon, to obtain explicit permission from consumers when it shares sensitive personal data with outside firms, it does not require broadband providers to ask permission before using the data themselves.

For instance, Verizon would be able to use a wireless subscriber’s usage history to recommend purchasing a larger mobile data plan. It could also use the customer’s information to market its home Internet service, Verizon FiOS, even though FiOS is a separate product operated by a different part of the company. In neither case would Verizon have to ask for the subscriber’s affirmative consent.

But Verizon would have to allow consumers the chance to opt out of having their usage history shared with other Verizon businesses that do not sell communications services, such as AOL or Yahoo, according to the rules.

Consumer advocates say it’s a step in the right direction, even if they would have preferred stricter requirements.

“It’s not so far off the mark that it guts the provision,” said Harold Feld, a senior vice president at the consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge. “It still provides sufficient protections for consumers to regard this as a positive step.”

A trade association for the cable industry criticized the regulations Thursday as “profoundly disappointing.”

“Today’s result speaks more to regulatory opportunism than reasoned policy,” said the National Cable and Telecommunications Association.

The FCC just passed sweeping new rules to protect your online privacy, Brian Fung, Washington Post, 10:41 a.m. today

Here’s what Wikipedia’s summary of how commissioners are selected under the Federal Communications Act, which established the FCC:

The FCC is directed by five commissioners appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the United States Senate for five-year terms, except when filling an unexpired term. The U.S. President designates one of the commissioners to serve as chairman. Only three commissioners may be members of the same political party. None of them may have a financial interest in any FCC-related business.

Okay, look, folks.  The big news story today is Washington Post reporter Rosalind Helderman’s report on a 13-page memo from 2011 by Clinton Foundation and “Bill Clinton Inc.” impresario Douglas Band (the term “Bill Clinton Inc.” is Band’s, in the memo).

A lot of what’s detailed in there has been out there for a while, but has not penetrated virally during the general election—and did not during the primary season possibly because Sanders limited his attacks on Clinton mainly to her record as senator and to her post-Secretary of State speaking-circuit career.

But it will penetrate now, almost certainly.

Which is why it is even more important now than it has been for voters to distinguish between Clinton the person and the Democratic platform and Democratic agency and judicial appointees, which Clinton is now, finally, campaigning on.

Among last weekend’s (I think; I’ve lost track specifically) WikiLeak’s hacked Podesta-emails dump, there were two that just took my breath away.  Both were from early 2015, shortly before Clinton deigned to finally formally announce her candidacy.

One involved intense efforts by her newly hired campaign manager and Podesta and longtime Clinton surrogate and Podesta protégé Neera Tanden to convince Hillary Clinton that Bill Clinton badly needed to not give a scheduled paid speech to Morgan Stanley days after Clinton’s long-anticipated announcement of her candidacy.  Clinton was adamant that this paid speech not be cancel, and agreed finally to its cancellation only when told that Bill Clinton agreed it should be cancelled.

The other concerned equally fraught attempts by the same players plus Human Abedin to persuade Hillary Clinton that she should not fly off to Morocco shortly after that scheduled announcement, to attend gaudy festivities paid by the Moroccan government and accept a large donation to the Foundation from the Moroccan king.  The particular difficulty in her cancelling this was that she herself had solicited it.  Ultimately Clinton agreed to have Bill substitute for her.

I held my fire here on these, because it was a matter of first things first.  All that matters to me now in this election is seeing her win and seeing the Democrats recapture the Senate and do as well as conceivably possible in House races.

But what angered me intensely about these two revelations—the Morgan Stanley speaking fee even more that the Morocco trip—was the unmitigated lack of concern by this couple for the immense harm to so many people if the Republican nominee won the White House and Republicans retained control of the Senate.  It appeared at the time that the nomination was Clinton’s simply for the asking; she would have no real competition for it.  And the fact of the exorbitant speaking fee from Morgan Stanley would become known with the release of the Clintons’ tax returns in mid or late April 2016—too late for a primary challenge, but nicely available to the Republicans in the general election.

Granted, the Republican contest back then appeared likely to be between Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, both of whom were profoundly compromised candidates. Rubio is a wholly owned subsidiary of one of the two major national private-prison companies and some Miami financial industry billionaire who effectively supported Rubio and his wife for several years.  Bush was making millions as a member of a yuge number of corporate boards and also as a hedge fund executive whose value came from his last name.

But the bottom line (so to speak) is that Hillary Clinton is the Democratic presidential nominee only because so much that would have mattered, pre-nomination, was not publicly known until now. Had they been known by late 2014 the primary field would have included a progressive Democrat who unlike Sanders would have been taken seriously by the news media. Had these things come out during the primaries, Sanders would be the nominee, despite Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s and the Clinton apparatus’s best efforts.

Instead, we have a Democratic presidential nominee so hamstrung by her own and her husband’s profound disregard for norms of conduct by pre-presidential and presidential contenders, and by their spouses, that she is unable to mention even the identities and backgrounds of the four billionaires who are funding her opponent’s campaign and who are determining his proposed policy agenda and his planned agency heads and court appointees who would carry out this agenda.

What matters now—all that matters now—is getting this candidate over the line, and getting down-ballot Democrats elected.  And the way to do that is to focus on the Democratic platform, and on Democratic agency and judicial appointments.  And on the Republican platform and Republican agency and judicial appointments.  Because Clinton’s belief notwithstanding, the majority—probably the large majority of voters—supports the Democratic agenda and opposes the Republican one.

To wit: The composition of the FCC, and today’s 3-2 vote by the board.  It should be noted that FCC Chairman Wheeler originally leaned toward the internet providers on the hot-topic net-neutrality issue last year, but he changed his position after the outcry that ensued.  But a Republican chair would have pressed right ahead with the providers’ agenda.

One of the current oddities of political punditry is an effort by a couple of high-profile baby boomer progressive pundits to sell the idea that the fact that Democrats are finally solidifying behind Clinton because, contrary to conventional wisdom, she’s actually been an excellent general election candidate and so voters now like her.

Polls are now showing that largely millennials, including black millennials, and Latinos are now plan o vote for her rather than for a third-party candidate and rather than now vote.  And that these polls showing that Democrats in large numbers are now finally saying that they are voting for her not just because her opponent is Trump but because they support her.

Notably missing from these pundits’ analysis, though, is mention of, say, policy positions.  Instead, it’s that Clinton hasn’t made any serious gaffs during the general election campaign, and that voters—presumably millennials and Latinos—who harbored hostility toward the idea of a woman president, are now losing that sexist hostility sufficiently to vote for Clinton and like it.  Or to vote for her at all.  The millennial generation really hated the idea of Elizabeth Warren as president, too.  But see?  They would have come around two weeks before election day.

What these pundits haven’t noticed, apparently because neither of them can read graphs, or neither of them recalls the Democratic Convention, is that Clinton led by double digits in the polls only during two periods.  She led in the aftermath of the Convention—which famously adopted a whole lot of Bernie Sanders’s policy agenda, and at which Clinton touted that platform in her acceptance speech.  And she led in the last week, after Sanders and Warren began aggressively campaigning for her, and in which she, finally, is campaigning on the most progressive parts of the platform.

And there actually are pundits—no, not just me; real, professional punditswho are making that point.

If Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren campaign, say, at college campuses throughout Florida, for Rubio’s opponent Patrick Murphy, who apparently many voters have never heard of but who, according to polls, is running only two to three points behind Rubio, Murphy probably will win.  If Bernie and Warren remind voters that they’re choosing or opposing a slew of policies, agency heads and judicial appointments, when they vote for president, Clinton and Murphy and Dem congressional candidates probably will win.

Nothing else—nothing else—should matter to Democratic-leaning voters.   But no one should mistake support for the Democratic Party platform and for the agenda of the ascendant progressive wing of the Democratic Party as support for Hillary Clinton in the abstract.

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No, Mr. Trump, THIS is what a movement looks like

There it was.  That familiar logo, the one I’d seen on so many lawn signs and bumper stickers in my (very) liberal small-city college town, and at the top of so many emails I’d received since early summer 2015.  The logo with “Bernie” in sky blue, with a little star over the “I” instead of a dot, and the narrow wave of a sky blue line underlining it, with the similar line except in red under the blue one.

I’d checked my emails late last night and had seen the one from him.  With a subject line reading: Yuuuge.

Below the familiar logo at the center top was this message:

Beverly: Since earlier today, 10,000 people have donated more than $400,000 to Catherine Cortez Masto, Deborah Ross, Maggie Hassan, and Katie McGinty.

That’s how much people want Paul Ryan’s warning about Bernie Sanders becoming chair of the budget committee to become true.

What you’re doing for these candidates is yuuuge. It’s game-changing for their campaigns. But there’s still more to do, because we can do more than just take back the Senate. We have a chance to take back the House. It starts with helping candidates for Congress who are inspired by the political revolution.

So we’re going to set an audacious goal that we don’t know is possible to hit by tomorrow night’s final FEC fundraising deadline – but it’s one that is very important to try to reach.

Let’s raise $1 million for candidates for the House and Senate by tomorrow’s final FEC fundraising deadline of the campaign. Split a contribution between Deborah Ross, Zephyr Teachout, Nanette Barragan, Tom Nelson, Pramila Jayapal, Rick Nolan, and Morgan Carroll.

Adding a contribution to these candidates – even if you’ve already supported them – is so important right now. Every poll shows these races within a handful of percentage points. And every contribution you make to these candidates will go to the critical work of communicating with voters and organizing for Election Day.

We don’t know if we can reach $1 million for House and Senate candidates tomorrow. But it’s very important that we try.

Adding a contribution to these candidates – even if you’ve already supported them – is so important right now. Every poll shows these races within a handful of percentage points. And every contribution you make to these candidates will go to the critical work of communicating with voters and organizing for Election Day.

We don’t know if we can reach $1 million for House and Senate candidates tomorrow. But it’s very important that we try.

If you can, add a contribution to reach our goal.

Thank you,

Jeff Weaver
Team Bernie

By this morning I’d forgotten about it.   And anyway, I’d sworn that that donation I made last week to the DSCC during one of their triple-match drives was my absolute last campaign donation.  Ever.  Okay, I’d meant, in this election cycle.  Which feels like ever.  (I haven’t donated to Clinton.)

But then.  There it was again.  The logo.  Bernie had emailed me again, this time with the subject: I hear you want me to have a gavel.

I do, so I’d clicked the message, which read:

Beverly,

I heard what Paul Ryan said about me: that if the Republicans lose the Senate, I will be the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.

That sounds like a very good idea to me. It means that we can establish priorities for working people, and not just the billionaire class.

What would be equally exciting is if the Democrats took back the House, and Congressman Ryan was no longer Speaker. That would mean the clearest possible path to enact our agenda – the most progressive agenda of any party in American history.

In the last day, you have responded tremendously to our call to support four leaders who will help shift the balance of the Senate. More than 20,000 people have contributed more than $900,000 to ten candidates who are inspired by the political revolution.

During our campaign we pushed ourselves to reach goals that many thought impossible. That is why we set a very big, very audacious goal that we didn’t know if we could reach, but that we thought it was very important to try. But you’re about to smash that $1 million goal.

So, we’re going to need a bigger goal.

Let’s raise $2 million before tonight’s final FEC deadline of the campaign for candidates for the House and Senate. Can you start with a contribution between Paul Clements, Catherine Cortez-Masto, Deborah Ross, Zephyr Teachout, Morgan Carroll, Nanette Barragan, and Rick Nolan?

Consider for a moment the power that exists in the U.S. Senate. Right now, the Republican majority is using their power to block any meaningful action on addressing income inequality or climate change. In addition, without a Democratic majority the Senate is refusing to confirm federal judges and, incredibly, has left open a critical seat on the Supreme Court.

With a Democratic majority, we can change all of that. What Paul Ryan is specifically afraid of is the power of the budget committee. That committee defines the spending priorities of the entire government. The work of that committee says how much revenue the government should have, and where its money should go.

I have some thoughts on how the government should allocate its spending. I’m sure you do, too.

The first step to being able to enact our progressive agenda is taking back the Senate. And if we take back the House… well, the sky is the limit for what we can achieve.

Help us reach for our new, audacious goal of raising $2 million for candidates for the House and Senate by midnight tonight. Add a contribution now split between Paul Clements, Catherine Cortez-Masto, Deborah Ross, Zephyr Teachout, Morgan Carroll, Nanette Barragan, and Rick Nolan.

Thank you for all you do.

In solidarity,

Bernie Sanders

Sigh.  I’ll hate myself in the morning.

Here’s the link, folks.  And, btw, a graphic inserted into the second email, sent at 2:10 this afternoon, shows that they’d raised $1,137,888. Since yesterday morning.

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Trump Says the Establishment and the News Media Deemed Bernie Sanders a Sexist, a Racist, a Xenophobe and Morally Deformed

“The establishment and their media neighbors wield control over this nation through means that are very well known,” Mr. Trump told a crowd in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Thursday. “Anyone who challenges their control is deemed a sexist, a racist, a xenophobe and morally deformed. They will attack you. They will slander you. They will seek to destroy your career and your family. They will seek to destroy everything about you including your reputation. They will lie, lie, lie, and then again, they will do worse than that. They will do whatever’s necessary.”

Partisan Crowds at Trump Rallies Menace and Frighten News Media, Nick Corasaniti, New York Times, yesterday

If I’d read, say, the New York Times and the Washington Post during the primary season, I never would have supported Bernie all those many months. Unless, of course, I’d figured out that they were just making it all up and that Bernie isn’t a sexist, a racist, a xenophobe and morally deformed.

Either that or ….

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