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

Oh, Please.

The Democratic National Committee brought on a new chief of staff Thursday: Brandon Davis, the former national political director of the Service Employees International Union.

The move is a sign Hillary Clinton is moving to consolidate control of the DNC now that she is the presumptive Democratic nominee for president. Davis was introduced as the new chief of staff at committee headquarters by Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook on Thursday, SEIU confirmed.

“The 2016 election is one of the most consequential of our lives,” SEIU President Mary Kay Henry said in a statement. SEIU has endorsed Clinton. “Throughout the primary season, SEIU members have come out by the thousands to get out the vote for Hillary Clinton and fight for the issues that will build a better future for our families. Together they have shifted the national consciousness and dialogue around inequality in this country.”

DNC brings on new chief of staff, David Strauss, Politico, today

Yup. It definitely was Clinton who was the Democratic primary candidate who shifted the national consciousness and dialogue around inequality in this country.

No mistaking it.  I think it was that thing she said at the first debate last fall about Denmark not being a capitalist country.

And that she opposes Sanders’ proposal of a FICA tax of $1.56 (or some such sum) a week in order to pay for guaranteed, paid medical and family leave because she wants to increase wages, not decrease them.

And that she opposes Sanders’s idea of tuition-free public universities and colleges because Donald Trump’s grandkids might use it, and because while Sanders also proposed much higher taxes on Donald Trump and his children (the parents of those potential freeloading state U. students) that would go in part to help support those universities and colleges instead of forcing them to rely almost entirely on tuition to fund them, as occurs now, she herself would tax Trump and his kids more but would not use any of that money for that purpose.

And that she told the public, repeatedly, that Sanders’s single-payer healthcare insurance plan would raise taxes substantially but that families, individuals and employers would continue to pay premiums to private insurance companies and that families and individuals would continue to pay large deductibles and co-payments to healthcare providers.  Or that taxes are the only expenses that matter to families and individuals and employers.  (It was never clear which of the two she meant, although now that she and the SEIU have managed to have shift the national consciousness and dialogue around inequality in this country, she might reveal which one of those she meant in order to push that consciousness and dialogue still further.)

And that she opposes a national $15/hr. minimum wage increased incrementally over a period of a few years because $12 would be better.

And that she opposes Sanders’s proposals to decrease the economic and political power of Wall Street and to rein in publicly-held-corporate top executive compensation, that her own proposals in this area have been, let’s say, not at the forefront of her campaign.  And that she jumped on the New York Daily News editorial board bandwagon to say that Sanders doesn’t know what’s in Dodd-Frank and that Dodd-Frank doesn’t provide what he said it provides–which is what she had said at two earlier debates (including a then-recent one) that it provides.

And that she’s oddly unwilling to campaign against Trump by pointing out that Trump indeed is taking orders from the Republican donors, which is why his policy proposals—which everyone keeps saying he doesn’t have, but he does—are being written by the Republican Billionaire Donor Foundation, a fact that finally, finally, was discussed at length by someone other than me*: Jonathan Chait, on the New York magazine website.  (YAY!!)  But not by, say, the Pennsylvanians interviewed by NYT columnist Thomas B. Edsall.

The Strauss article goes on to say, “Davis has also served as political director to Sen. Claire McCaskill.”

Which is good to know, because McCaskill implied on national television last fall in her capacity as Clinton surrogate that Sanders is a Communist.  Which doesn’t mean that Davis would imply that Sanders is a Communist.  Although, who knows?

I recognize that Clinton thinks she should be trying mainly to woo Republicans, because they won’t know enough about Trump’s views on Mexicans, Muslims, women, immigration policy, wall building, NATO and nuclear proliferation to make that choice all by themselves, and Clinton needs to educate them.  But if she thinks having surrogates say it was Clinton (along with a labor union whose top brass strongly supported her in the primaries) who shifted the national consciousness and dialogue around inequality in this country will help her secure the votes of supporters of the primary candidate who, everyone knows, was the one who did, she’s again highlighting her hallmark obliviousness.

____

*ALSO:  HereHere.  Here.   And here.

I’m tired of saying the same obvious thing again and again.  And I’m tired of being attacked for it. I’m happy to pass that torch to Chait–and anyone else with an actual media voice who is interested in picking up that mantel.

____

POSTSCRIPT:  Just to be clear, I’m absolutely going to vote for Clinton.  I wouldn’t be caught dead not voting for the Democrat.  And that’s in very large (but not exclusive) part precisely because I know what Clinton isn’t saying: that Trump would be Paul Ryan’s puppet on fiscal policy, labor policy, regulatory policy–and court appointments.

The Heritage Foundation would be staffing the administrate agencies from top to bottom and the Federalist Society would stocking the federal bench at all three levels. It does look like Clinton has decided not to go there in the campaign; she really, really wants all those Republicans to vote for her, every last one of them.  And partly because maybe she plans to be Heritage Foundation Light and Federalist Society Light on the non-identity-politics/culture-wars issues.  I.e., on fiscal and regulatory issues.  I just don’t know, at this point.

But Heritage Foundation Light and Federalist Society Light are better than Heritage Foundation Heavy and Federalist Society Heavy.  By a lot.  There truly is no equivalence there.  So I’ll be voting for her.  It’s not a close question, in my opinion.

But that’s because I actually know what the Federalist Society bench has done–the stuff that almost no one else knows. And because I know enough about the Heritage Foundation to really feel for any blue-collar voter who is confused about whose back Trump would have.

Clinton thinks it’s important to educate Republicans about what they already know about Trump, but it’s not important to educate most other voters about what the pig many of them think is in a poke about, say fiscal policy, but who is not would do through abdication of decisionmaking. Because, she thinks, these are mutually exclusive choices.  And she’s chosen.

Sanders and Warren will choose, too, once they start campaigning for Democrats. Their choice, of course, will be different than that of the person at the top of the ticket.

Added 6/16 at 5:15 p.m.  Postscript edited for clarity, 6/16 at 7:30 p.m.

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Paul Waldman conflates two entirely different things about media coverage: media coverage of and about Trump himself and media coverage of Republican congressional policy proposals. He’s right about one of those things, but clearly wrong about the other.

[The left’s] belief that Trump’s success is primarily a media failure has a parallel in the way conservatives have always explained their own defeats. We would have won, they insist, if only the media hadn’t been against us! If only they had told the voters just how much Barack Obama hates America, or if only they had explained what a reprobate Bill Clinton is, then of course we would have won, because the truth is so irrefutable.

It’s now becoming clear that this kind of thinking is rampant on the left as well. “I think if we had a media in this country that was really prepared to look at what the Republicans actually stood for,” Bernie Sanders said in March, “It is a fringe party. Maybe they get 5, 10 percent of the vote.” That’s a fundamental misunderstanding of how Americans think and what they believe. There are plenty of critiques you can make of how Republican policies are described in the press while still granting that they have substantial support. Conservatism isn’t going to disappear once Bernie Sanders has the opportunity for a full airing of his views, any more than Donald Trump’s support will fall to nothing once he’s “exposed.”

Here’s the truth: journalists are exposing Trump every day. How do you know about what a scam Trump University was? Because journalists told you. How do you know what a liar Trump is? Because journalists explained the difference between the truth and what he says (and yes, they need to do it more often and more quickly). Want to know more about the extent of his business shenanigans? Here’s an article on how he stiffs his contractors and workers, and here’s an article on how he bled investors for millions while mismanaging his Atlantic City casinos into bankruptcy. It’s solid investigative journalism, and it’s vitally important to the public understanding who he really is.

The media isn’t going to save the country from Donald Trump. Here’s why., Paul Waldman, Washington Post, today

I like Paul Waldman.  And I certainly agree with his basic critique of the premise that the media hasn’t exposed Trump himself—his utterances—sufficiently.  That’s pretty much all cable news and many other media outlets have covered, apparently.  And he’s clearly right that journalists have exposed Trump’s business frauds and business-failures-cum-profit-makers-for-only-him.

But what does that have to do with whether or not the media has covered Republican congressional policy sufficiently—which is what Sanders was talking about?

It’s not simply a matter of the New York Times or the Washington Post or the Wall Street Journal reporting on the Ryan budget or the legislation to kill Dodd-Frank or the separate legislation passed by both houses of Congress to repeal the Obama administration’s rule under Dodd-Frank making financial advisers legal fiduciaries.  In a story last week titled “Obama vetoes legislation to thwart financial adviser rule,” the Associated Press summed it all up:

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama has vetoed legislation designed to nullify Obama administration rules that will require financial professionals to put their client’s best interest first when giving advice on retirement investments.

Obama says that some firms have steered clients into products that had higher fees and lower returns, which he says costs families about $17 billion a year.

Republicans say the regulations will make it more expensive for smaller businesses to provide retirement savings plans to their employees, resulting in less advice and fewer choices for many consumers.

Under the “fiduciary rule,” advisers who charge commissions will be required to sign a promise to act in the client’s best interest and disclose information about fees and conflicts of interest.

The rule will take effect next April.

Paul Krugman writes today that Paul Ryan includes repealing that rule in his “anti-poverty plan.” Lewis Carroll ghostwrites for Ryan, something I already knew but most people don’t.

I regularly read the New York Times, the Washington Post, and blogs that cover this type of thing, so I knew of the legislation to repeal the fiduciary rule.  But even I didn’t know that the legislation had actually been passed and had reached Obama’s desk.

What percentage of voters knows any of this, do you think?  Was it covered on the cable stations?  Was it on the front pages of any newspapers?  What about the nightly network news shows that are watched mainly these days by seniors?

For that matter, did our presumptive Democratic Party nominee for president mention it?  Not that I know of.  Then again, she became the presumptive nominee early last week and that made her the first WOMAN presumptive major party nominee.  And Donald Trump doubled down on his the-judge-is-biased-because-he’s-of-Mexican-descent tack.  And had Clinton not mentioned these things again and again last week, the public never would have known.

Unless, of course, the news organizations hadn’t saturated print, internet, network and cable media with them.  Which they did.

Mr. Waldman, most voters don’t know what’s in the Ryan budget.  And most don’t know that financial advisers aren’t legal fiduciaries and that their business model is conflict of interest.  Much less do they know that the Obama administration has used its authority under a financial-industry regulation statute passed by a Democratic Congress and signed by Obama to end that, beginning shortly after either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton is sworn in as president.

And it’s a safe bet that few people know that the repeal of that new rule is part of Paul Ryan’s poverty, I mean anti-poverty, legislative proposal.  And they don’t know what’s in Ryan’s budget plan, and they don’t know that Donald Trump’s budget plan posted since last October on his campaign’s website is the Ryan plan on steroids, and they don’t know that the Heritage Foundation folks wrote it, and they don’t know what the Heritage Foundation is, and they don’t know that Ryan says Trump has assured him that Trump will be Ryan’s puppet.  And the Heritage Foundation’s.  Which is redundant, I know.  But they don’t.

Waldman is right that conservatism isn’t going to disappear once Bernie Sanders has the opportunity for a full airing of his views, any more than Donald Trump’s support will fall to nothing once he’s “exposed.”  But Sanders is right that conservatism will disappear if the public finally learns what it actually is.  Instead, mainly they’re learning how many times Trump’s latest racial or ethnic or religious or gender slur can be mentioned in a given time period.  And they’ve probably stopped counting.

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What Bernie Sanders is doing to help Hillary Clinton [UPDATED]

One charge against Sanders by the likes of Paul Krugman that I just could not abide—there were others, but this post is about this one—was that while Clinton was actively soliciting campaign funds for the Democratic Party to use for down-ballot candidates, Sanders was not.  In a post here about that a couple of weeks ago I pointed out that Sanders and his campaign will be playing a large role both in soliciting campaign funds from ordinary individuals for down-ballot campaigns—especially congressional campaigns—simply through ActBlue.com’s huge database of Sanders donors, and that in fact those solicitations already had begun.  ActBlue.com is the organization that Sanders donors use to make their donations.

I also said that Sanders will play a large part in garnering support for Senate and House candidates simply by noting as he campaigns with candidates that he remains a senator and he, Elizabeth Warren and the other few real progressives in Congress need a Democratic-controlled Congress for their policy proposals to get heard in Congress.

Today I received this email message:

Beverly —

As Democrats, we believe that no one who works hard every day should have to live in poverty because they’re paid a minimum wage that’s too low. We know that climate change is a challenge we must confront. We believe no young person should have to spend so much on a college education that they end up shackled by years of debt.

And we know that we can never, never allow Donald Trump to become President of the United States.

Will you donate $3 or more today to help keep that from happening and to elect Democrats who will fight for everything we believe in?

If you’ve saved your payment information, your donation will go through immediately.

QUICK DONATE: $3

QUICK DONATE: $10

QUICK DONATE: $25

QUICK DONATE: $50

QUICK DONATE: $100

Or donate another amount.
Any Republican president would put President Obama’s progress on economic security in danger, make moves to repeal health care reform that millions of Americans are now relying on, and try to move backwards on the steps we’ve taken these past seven years to make our country more equal and more fair.

But it’s clear that Trump — with his repugnant attitude toward women, immigrants, Muslim-Americans, and pretty much anyone he comes across — is the worst of the bunch.

We’re going to be going up against him this fall. So right now, I’m asking you to pitch in $3 or whatever you can so that we can stop Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans:

https://my.democrats.org/Stop-Donald-Trump

Thank you,

Hillary

­­­____

Paid for by the Democratic National Committee, 430 South Capitol Street SE, Washington DC 20003 and not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee. Contributions or gifts to the Democratic National Committee are not tax deductible.

There is, I believe, no way that the Clinton campaign would have my email address—that ActBlue would forward it to the Clinton campaign—unless the Sanders campaign agreed at the Clinton campaign’s request to allow it.

Me?  I’m delighted.  I’m with him.  But I’m also now with her.  There’s no conflict there; she will be the nominee, and he will play a large role in policy matters, during the campaign and during the Clinton administration.

As for the message itself, I think the tone was pretty near perfect at this stage, as an opener.

I think Clinton has made some serious blunders in the last few days.  I have no idea why, for example, she thinks she needs to do anything affirmative to gain the votes of moderate Republicans, least of all by rehashing what everyone already knows about Trump.  Just as I don’t know why she thinks women who place a great deal of importance on electing a woman as president need to reminded that she is one and if elected will be the first.  I don’t share her fondness for highlighting the obvious or the already-very-well-known.

And her decision to court, in personal phone solicitations, no less, Republican donors, as the NYT reported two or three days ago—Wall Street ones and others—is stupefying.  Money for TV ads and the like will be far less important than handing Trump, who apparently now expects to be mostly self-funding his campaign because there aren’t all that many Republican donors who want him elected, such tangible campaign arguments to make in his own TV commercials and at his rallies and in interviews.  Trump is a New Yorker; he probably reads the New York Times.  (Well, okay, Paul Manafort probably reads the New York Times.)

Like ordinary voters—actually, even more so, probably—these donors will decide to support Clinton, or not, based not on Clinton but on Trump.  But that is less likely to be so for many Sanders supporters than for most other voters.  Her campaign priorities are skewed here, illustrating yet again her lack of agility in recognizing the differences between this campaign year and, well, others.  Jeb Bush had record amounts of money.

But this post is about Bernie Sanders and his campaign.  And I’m happy that he and it took the step they took.

And I’ll offer this tip to Clinton now that I’m WithHer: A key to beating Trump is to point out that on fiscal and other domestic policy at least, the election contest will not be to determine whether there will be another President Clinton or instead a President Trump.  There will be either a new President Clinton or a President Manafort.

Every time Trump tries to hint at the beginning of a back-away from Conservative Movement fiscal and other domestic policy, and toward some genuine economic-populist fiscal and anti-Chamber of Commerce regulatory policy, Edgar Bergen, er, Paul Manafort, quickly aborts it.

This will be a source of amusement for me going forward, although less so if Clinton fails to note this early and often, whether for fear of losing campaign donations or otherwise.  And less so still if she appears to be running as President Manafort Light.

____

UPDATE:  Yikes.  Yves Smith posted this comment at Naked Capitalism:

What Bernie Sanders is doing to help Hillary Clinton Beverly Mann, Angry Bear. I am posting this only because I am just about certain this is wrong. Mann is almost certainly correct on her opening point, Sanders will help on downticket Democratic party races, but I assume he will help only ideologically aligned Dems, not the remaining Blue Dogs. But if these Congresscritters are to the left of Clinton, they could serve to keep her honest (or more accurately, less dishonest) rather than “help” her. But I am certain she is wrong about her getting an anti-Trump DNC message via Bernie sharing his list with her. First, I am told by someone in the Sanders operation that Sanders will not do that (although there is the risk that his list is hacked or stolen). Second, I have given to Sanders via ActBlue and have gotten no such message. Third, as a blogger, I have gotten DNC propaganda upon occasion, including solicitations, before I gave to Sanders (and I haven’t given to anyone save a couple of locals via check since I gave a mere $20 to Obama as a result of seeing Palin’s acceptance speech). Every time I unsubscribe. Mann has written often about Clinton and Sanders, so I suspect she got added to the list that way.

Sooo … I was wrong in my assumption about the underlying source of that DNC email to me.

Meanwhile, reader EMichael linked in the Comments thread to this article today by Matthew Yglesias at Vox.  I responded to EMichael’s comment:

Nice article. Thanks for linking to it. I don’t read Vox; I don’t care much for it. So I probably wouldn’t have known of the article otherwise.

I’m really glad to see someone with a high profile say what I, a low-profile type, have been saying here at AB for weeks now.

The Yglesias article is titled “The real reason Bernie Sanders will enthusiastically back Hillary Clinton in November.”

So I guess the bottom line is that Sanders indeed is helping Clinton, just not directly.  Not yet.

Added 5/10 at 12:14 p.m.

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Just watched Bernie Sanders’s speech at a rally in Louisville. It was one of the best speeches I’ve ever seen a politician give.

Sanders was at the very top of his game tonight in Louisville.  A genuinely beautiful speech, delivered in perfectly modulated tone, with a wonderful, mostly young group standing on the stage very close behind him and to his sides, and a crowd that several times broke into chants of “Bernie! Bernie!”.  I felt like I was there.  I hope he uses clips of it in internet ads as he campaigns in California and the other remaining states.

This is the first primary night speech I’ve watched more than just a few minutes of.  I haven’t watched most of the election night speeches at all, and have seen only short clips of a few rally speeches.  But I clicked on the Washington Post website to see the early Indiana returns, and when I saw that Sanders was beginning a speech in Louisville that the Post was showing live, I clicked it.  Watching it was really an experience.  I’m guessing that his convention speech will be a version of tonight’s speech, modified somewhat as necessary—a tremendous spur for the Democratic Party from the top of the ticket on down.

It is a mistake to misread the role Bernie Sanders will play in what will be a tremendous victory for progressives—a true turning point.  He talked tonight about some legislation he’s currently presenting in the Senate, and I’m sure there will be more legislation and a larger focus on it as the convention approaches.  This is what I’ve been hoping he’d do.  He probably won’t be the presidential nominee, but he’s making it clear that progressive governance will be a team effort among progressive Democratic elected officials.  And Hillary Clinton seems to be indicating now that she wants to be a part of that, not a hindrance to it.  Good for her.

Although most of those on the stage with him tonight were young, photos I saw of his rally last night in downtown Indianapolis, with about 8,000 in attendance, showed a largely middle-aged crowd.  Tonight Sanders is winning Marion County, where Indianapolis is, and most of the suburban Indianapolis counties, and the county where Fort Wayne is.  At this writing, with 76% of the vote counted, he’s ahead in Indiana by more than 6%.

Clinton will win the nomination and the general election, but Sanders will be the Most Valuable Player, in November and beyond.  The Democrats are uniting around progressivism.

And both uniting and progressivism are operative words here.

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Dealing the Woman’s Card—Clinton’s. And Mine. And Dealing the Man’s Card—Bernie Sanders’s. And Donald Trump’s.

There are limits to the analogy between Clinton’s 2008 primary contest with Obama and Sanders’s primary contest now with her.  Clinton doesn’t get that.  But she needs to figure it out because the differences matter.

There are limits to the analogy between Clinton’s 2008 primary contest with Obama and Sanders’s primary contest now with her.  Clinton doesn’t get that.  But she needs to figure it out because the differences matter., Me, Angry Bear, yesterday

Later yesterday I posted a short follow-up, saying:

When I wrote this post today I wasn’t aware of this piece by Jonathan Cohn (a longtime favorite of mine, dating to his time at The New Republic).  It was published early this morning but I just learned of it (h/t Paul Waldman).  But it makes the same key point that I do in mine.

Which is that Sanders supporters will know that their vote for Clinton in November will mean something much more than just a vote for Clinton or a vote against Trump.  Most of us will be out en force on election day, voting not because of Clinton but because of Sanders.  And voting, really, not for Clinton but for Sanders.  As well as for progressives in the down-ballot contests.

The movement has taken hold.

Which managed to garner some attention to my first post, since I’d linked to it, and spurred the following in the comments thread to it this morning:

Beene

April 28, 2016 7:57 am

People if you take nothing else from the above article. Except that change is possible if you help Bernie and Warren when they ask for help for explicit people; reform of the democratic party is possible.

If you believe that the common belongs to the nation and those who benefit should be taxed according to assistance they have received as a member of this nation. But, dino’s like the Clintons’ or Obama are no better than having a republican, as the goal is not the common good.

 

EMichael

April 28, 2016 9:26 am

” But, dino’s like the Clintons’ or Obama are no better than having a republician, as the goal is not the common good.”

It is hard to imagine the stupidity required to write that sentence.

Prompting this lengthy comment from me:

You know what’s sort of funny to me about this thread?  I had forgotten this until this weeks’ Woman’s Card contretemps—specifically Clinton’s “Deal me in” response to Trump—reminded me of it.  Clinton responded with something like “If equal pay, and guaranteed paid family leave, and affordable preschool, and women’s healthcare are playing the Woman’s Card, deal me in.”  Ah; then I remembered the moment when I concluded that Clinton really DOESN’T have a core, or much of one anyway: When at the first debate last fall, after Sanders mentioned his proposal to tax everyone’s income at (I think) $1.54/a week (it was well less than $2.00) to pay for guaranteed paid medical and family leave, Clinton used, for the first of many times during the fall and very early this year, her rebuttal line that she wants to raise middle-class incomes, not lower them.

Until that moment I had thought that the one thing that really WAS her core politically was the panoply of traditional women’s issues, including guaranteed paid family leave.  Guess I was wrong about that, I said to myself.  So, apparently, did a good swath of other progressives.

She was raked over the coals for that—a stunning, dumbfounding comment from a Democratic candidate for president—yet she kept repeating it until the polls showed Sanders effectively even with her in Iowa and leading her in New Hampshire.  I remember the dismay and anger from commentators and others.  Several pointed out that that comment was straight from the Republican Party playbook.  And that apparently Clinton thinks FDR and LBJ wanted to lower incomes because, well … Social Security and Medicare.

Clinton thinks her problem in not being a natural politician is simply that she’s cold and stiff in her physical presence and speaking style.  She doesn’t recognize—and either do her campaign folks her feed her these sound bite lines she adopts—that her biggest problem, by far, is fondness for sound bites that are actually appalling.  Her husband raised taxes.  Guess he wanted to lower incomes rather than raise them.

I’ve debated here in AB threads several times with people who disagree with me that Clinton simply is not very bright.  That she’s so fond of this kind of thing—the asinine, self-defeating sound bites and sleights of hand that have been a hallmark of her campaign—is what I’m talking about.

NYT columnist Charles Blow has a good column today in which he calls Clinton a waffling contrivance.   Perfect!

But all that said, the bottom line is that EMichael is, extremely obviously, exactly right.  Why would anyone who is appalled by Citizens United and the Voting Rights Act opinion—two Supreme Court opinions that, unlike most of their other truly awful ones, most ARE aware of—think the outcome of the election between Trump and Clinton doesn’t matter?

I know that most people have no clue that most of the really important stuff that happens in federal courts happens at the district court (trial court) and circuit court (appellate court) levels. Much less do they know the genuinely appalling effect of the complete takeover of the entire civil and criminal justice systems, state and federal, by the Conservative Legal Movement.  Even less do they know the extraordinary breadth and reach of what this has affected.

Nor do they know that, finally—finally—in the last three years, thanks mostly to the decision by Harry Reid to kill the filibuster for circuit and district court nominees, the makeup of those courts has changed significantly and VERY meaningfully.

So, yeah, I repeat what EMichael said:

“”But, dino’s like the Clintons’ or Obama are no better than having a republician, as the goal is not the common good.”

“It is hard to imagine the stupidity required to write that sentence.”

Indeed.

Indeed.

I’m a Card Carrying Woman, but I prefer Sanders’s Man’s Card to Clinton’s Woman’s Card.  And Clinton’s Woman’s Card to this: Trump’s fiscal, healthcare and environmental positions will be drafted by the Club for Growth and the Koch brothers’-sponsored so-called think tanks and lobbyists.  Just as his actual policy proposals published on his campaign’s website were.

____

UPDATE: Greg Sargent has an up-to-date summary of efforts at a Clinton/Sanders rapprochement.

And Alexandra Petri discusses her own Woman’s Card.  Hilariously.

Added 4/28 at 11:24 p.m.

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A beautiful essay by Jonathan Cohn

When I wrote this post today I wasn’t aware of this piece by Jonathan Cohn (a longtime favorite of mine, dating to his time at The New Republic).  It was published early this morning but I just learned of it (h/t Paul Waldman).  But it makes the same key point that I do in mine.

Which is that Sanders supporters will know that their vote for Clinton in November will mean something much more than just a vote for Clinton or a vote against Trump.  Most of us will be out en force on election day, voting not because of Clinton but because of Sanders.  And voting, really, not for Clinton but for Sanders.  As well as for progressives in the down-ballot contests.

The movement has taken hold.

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There are limits to the analogy between Clinton’s 2008 primary contest with Obama and Sanders’s primary contest now with her. Clinton doesn’t get that. But she needs to figure it out because the differences matter.

We got to the end in June, and I did not put down conditions. I didn’t say, ‘you know what, if Senator Obama does X, Y, and Z, maybe I’ll support him.’ I said, ‘I’m supporting Senator Obama, because no matter what our differences might be, they pale in comparison to the differences between us and Republicans.’ That’s what I did.

At that time, 40 percent of my supporters said they would not support him. So from the time I withdrew, until the time I nominated him — I nominated him at the convention in Denver — I spent an enormous amount of time convincing my supporters to support him. And I’m happy to say the vast majority did. That’s certainly what I did and I hope that we will see the same this year.

— Hillary Clinton, at an MSNBC town hall-style event, Apr. 21

That is true.  Six days after she lost the California primary to Obama in early June 2008 she made a gracious speech strongly endorsing Obama and urging her supporters to support him, and repeated it in a primetime speech at the Convention.

Which almost certainly is what Sanders will do, almost exactly.  But what he also will do is attempt to play a role in the drafting of the party platform.  And when he endorses Clinton and then campaigns for her he will point out both that Trump’s actual fiscal-policy and healthcare policy proposals, published on his website, are geared toward gaining favor with the Republican Party elite, especially the donors who have been (very) effectively financing the so-called think tanks that draft and dictate Republican Party dogma and have been doing so for several decades now.

And Sanders also will remind the public that he remains a senator, as does Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown and three or four others–among them now Chris Murphy of Connecticut, he made clear a day or two ago in an eloquent statement–who comprise the Senate’s contingent of what’s often referred to as the Warren wing of the Party.

Which is why it is so off-base, so missing the point, for Clinton and many pundits to claim that Sanders’s primary campaign and his decision to remain an active candidate seeking additional elected delegates in the remaining primary and caucus states endanger Clinton’s, and the down-ballot candidates’, chances in the general election.  Because of critical distinctions between the nature of Obama-vs.-Clinton in 2008 and Clinton-vs.-Sanders now, the very opposite is likely true: There were few significant distinctions between Obama’s and Clinton’s domestic-policy proposals, but fairly large distinctions between some of Clinton’s and some of Sanders’.

The main policy distinction between Clinton and Obama in 2008 was on foreign policy. Clinton as a senator had voted in favor of the Iraq war authorization.  Obama, not yet a member of Congress, nonetheless had publicly voiced opposition to it.  The virulently angry Clinton supporters—the 40 percent of her backers who, if the poll she referenced was accurate, thought in June 2008 that they would not vote for Obama that November—almost certainly were mostly middle-aged women, many of them upscale career women like her, and older women, who were angry at Obama for halting the road to the presidency for a woman.  They were not, suffice it to say, pro-Iraq war voters; instead, for them the chance to see woman elected president was paramount. Policy differences, such as they were between two candidates, were secondary.

As Paul Krugman often reminds, the key domestic policy difference between Obama and Clinton was Clinton’s support of an individual mandate to obtain healthcare insurance as a key part of her detailed healthcare-insurance proposal, and Obama’s rather craven opposition to the mandate in his own proposal.  As someone who supported John Edwards in 2008 until it became clear that the race was between Clinton and Obama, but who remembers well that it was Edwards who brought healthcare insurance into the primary contest, proposing a plan that Clinton quickly adopted almost in full as her own because Edwards was gaining media and voter admiration for making it an issue—and who was not pleased that Obama needed to be prodded to propose his own plan and then proposed one that clearly was weaker than Edwards’s and Clinton’s—I seriously considered switching my allegiance to Clinton rather than to Obama.

The deciding factor for me then in choosing Obama?  That I didn’t want another triangulator as a Democratic president, and figured that while Clinton surely would be that, Obama only might be one.  He wasn’t particularly specific about most domestic-policy positions, something that annoyed ad concerned me.  But he was promising change.

Clinton fails at her own (rather large) risk to recognize the differences between the 2008 primary contest and this one, and why Sanders’ campaign is helping her own chances in the general election—a well as those of down-ballot candidates.  To illustrate the key differences between then and now, I’m selecting excerpts from two campaign reports, one by Baltimore Sun political reporters Kate Linthicum and Chris Megerian, from April 24, the other a lengthy Campaign Stops blog post by New York Times correspondent Emma Roller. Both reports are from

Linthicum and Megerian write from the campaign trail in Reading, PA:

In recent months, Bernie Sanders has transformed Dennis Brandau from a guy who hated politics into a first-time voter. On Tuesday, the 29-year-old line cook will proudly cast a ballot for the Vermont senator in Pennsylvania’s Democratic presidential primary.

But the bruising campaign this year also has turned Brandau into a fierce opponent of the Democratic front-runner, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He says he has a hard time imagining backing her this fall if she wins the nomination.

“I don’t know if I can vote for her,” Brandau said. “I don’t even want to hear her talk.”

Sanders’ chances of winning the nomination have dimmed since his 16-point loss to Clinton in last week’s New York primary. Polls show he faces an uphill race in several of the five Eastern states that vote on Tuesday, as well as in California’s June 7 primary.

Some of his supporters remain so steadfast, however, that a #BernieOrBust movement has picked up momentum on Twitter. So has an online pledge for supporters who vow to vote for Sanders as a write-in candidate if he loses the nomination.

Roller reports, also from Reading:

KEITH MANDICH had been to this theater before, to see John Mellencamp.

Now Mr. Mandich, a retired steelworker, was back in downtown Reading, Pa., to see another guy he thought of as a hero for working-­class America: Senator Bernie Sanders.

In his bid for the Democratic nomination, Mr. Sanders has nurtured vocal support from young, college-­educated liberals. But he also has fervent support from people who remember the era of well­-paying union jobs at manufacturing plants — and who are very aware of how far we are from that time.

“I just like Bernie because he’s old like me,” joked Mack Richards, 70, another retired steelworker at the Reading event. Pennsylvania is among the five states holding a primary on Tuesday, and it has the most delegates at stake. Since neither party has locked up its nominee yet, the state’s white working­class voters have more of a voice in the primary process than they have had in years past. In 2008, they were considered Biden voters — the white working-­class denizens of Scranton, Pa., and places like it — whom Joe Biden, Scranton’s own, was supposed to win over for Barack Obama.

This time around, the fight for these voters has focused significantly on a somewhat unlikely contender for juiciest campaign issue: international trade deals and their repercussions.

Any presidential candidate on the stump knows how to work a good metaphor into a speech, and Mr. Sanders knew to use the very ZIP code he was rallying in.

“In many ways, what is happening here in Reading, what has happened over the last several decades, is kind of a metaphor for what’s happening all over this country,” Mr. Sanders told the crowd. “We have seen a city which once had thousands of excellent-­paying jobs lose those jobs because of disastrous trade policies.”

He went on to list corporations, including the Dana Corporation, that had shut down plants in Reading and moved overseas. Mr. Mandich, the Sanders supporter and Mellencamp fan, said that he was laid off from his job at the Dana Corporation, which manufactured automobile frames, when the company closed its Reading plant in 2000. The Dana Corporation was one of the companies that supported the Clinton administration’s effort to pass the North American Free Trade Agreement, which activists and liberal economists argue did more harm than good to the United States economy.

Kevin Wright, a high school physics teacher in line to see Mr. Sanders, saw parallels between the populism on the left and similar sentiments on the right. “We’re the response to the Tea Party,” he said.

His sister, standing next to him, laughed nervously. “Careful!” she warned.

“The Tea Party has taken over the Republican Party,” Mr. Wright continued. “I think our movement’s stronger, and has more numbers, and is more rational and grounded in reality. And you can see that just based on the people here.”

The crowd in Reading skewed a bit older than a typical Sanders rally — possibly because it took place on a weekday afternoon. Fritz Von Hummel, 55, a self­-employed appliance technician who was laid off from his previous job in November, canceled a couple of appointments to come to the event. He said he had not had health insurance for the past seven years because he could not afford it, and he was eager to talk about the shortcomings of President Obama’s signature health care law.

“I’m just furious with the situation the way it is,” he added.

Roller went on to report from a Trump rally a few miles away.  Some of the people she spoke with there echoed refrains similar to those of the Sanders’ supporters.  Here article is titled “CAMPAIGN STOPS: Pennsylvania, Where Everyone Is ‘Furious’.”  The Linthicum and Megerian piece is titled “Voters’ ‘Bernie or Bust’ efforts persist despite Sanders’ vow not to be another Ralph Nader.”

I myself think there’s little danger that most millennials like Dennis Brandau and perhaps-millennials but anyway youngish Sanders supporters like Kevin Wright and his sister won’t ultimately vote for Clinton.  I think they’re more likely to fear Trump than the middle-aged and elderly working-class Sanders supporters.  And I think that thanks in part to social media, they’re more likely to know or learn before November, simply from their web use, that Trump’s fiscal-policy platform is drafted by standard-issue Republican operatives, borrowing from Republican lobbyists and the Club for Growth/Koch brothers’ think-tank-payroll folks.

I think this is so even though Clinton effectively wrapped up the nomination by winning by 16 points in the New York primary in which only those who were registered as Democrats by early October 2015 were able to vote in that primary, and large percentages of young and younger New Yorkers were independents.  Clinton, understandably, doesn’t mention that publicly.  But it is a fact.

And what about the middle-aged one-time factory workers who support Sanders now?  And the middle-class white collar workers whose kids will borrow, or have borrowed, large amounts in student loans?  What about those who pay high healthcare premiums with out-of-pocket expenses that to Clinton may seem negligible but seem less so to the ones who pay these?

These are not people who are livid that Clinton is keeping a Jewish 74-year-old male from gaining the nomination.  They are people who care, deeply, about the policy differences between the two candidates.  And I’m pretty sure that many of them care, as I do, that Clinton keeps feigning ignorance about what people mean when they use the phrase “the establishment.”  And that Clinton has campaigned against Sanders largely using a playbook seemingly co-opted from a used-car-salesman sales manual, pre-lemon-laws.

I myself harbor not so much as a second of doubt that I will vote for president in November, and about whom I vote for.  It will not be the Republican nominee.  And I absolutely know that I will be joined in that by many, many millions of Sanders primary supporters.

And I dearly hope that Sanders will follow the playbook I say above that I expect him to.

And I will say this: Far from hurting down-ballot candidates’ fundraising chances for the general election, those of us who have contributed to Sanders’ campaign—we’ve done so through ActBlue.com—will continue to receive, as we already have, ActBlue’s solicitations for contributions to the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.  We’ll click the buttons and fill in the blanks, like we have done for Bernie Sanders.  We’ll do so upon our own accord, and also at Bernie Sanders’s urging.  We will be reminded that the Warren wing, the Sanders wing, of the Democratic Party badly needs to grow.  Into a majority in Congress.

Turns out that millennials already have figured this out, according to dramatic results of a newly released poll taken by the Harvard Institute of Politics.  And many progressive older folks know this, too.  At least those who aren’t New York Times op-ed columnists or the like.

____

ADDENDUM: Just want to add that once Trump chooses Scott Walker as his running mate–he seriously seems headed in that direction, and recently hired Walker’s campaign manager as his campaign’s deputy director or something–the Dems’ problems will take care of themselves, thank you very much.

Added 4/27 at 4:29 p.m.

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Denmark, the VAT Tax and Paul Krugman

So Sanders and Clinton are arguing about soda taxes — Clinton for, as a way to raise money for good stuff while discouraging self­-destructive behavior, Sanders against, because regressive. I have no illusions that rational argument will make much difference in the short run; we’re in that stage where anything Clinton supports is ipso facto evil. It’s like that point in 2008 when Obama supporters hated, hated the individual mandate that eventually became, as it had to, a central piece of Obamacare.

But anyway, it does seem worth pointing out that progressivity of taxes is not the most important thing, even when your concern is inequality. Notably, Nordic countries — very much including Denmark, which Sanders has praised as a model — rely heavily on the VAT, which is a regressive tax; but they use that revenue to pay for a strong social safety net, which is much more important.

If we add in the reality that heavy soda consumption really is destructive, with the consequences falling most heavily on low-­income children, I’d say that Sanders is very much on the wrong side here. In fact, I very much doubt that he’d be raising the issue at all if he weren’t still hoping to pull off some kind of political Hail Mary pass.

A Note on the Soda Tax Controversy, Paul Krugman, yesterday

One of the hallmarks of this Democratic primary season is the extent to which high-profile liberal baby-boomer political journalists and pundits have been willing to make what are, at least to me, transparently illogical arguments in support of Hillary Clinton.

One particularly annoying canard, offered originally by Jill Abramson in an op-ed published in The Guardian last month, is that Politifact found Clinton to be the most honest of the candidates.  Specifically, Abramson wrote:

As for her statements on issues, Politifact, a Pulitzer prize-winning fact-checking organization, gives Clinton the best truth-telling record of any of the 2016 presidential candidates. She beats Sanders and Kasich and crushes Cruz and Trump, who has the biggest “pants on fire” rating and has told whoppers about basic economics that are embarrassing for anyone aiming to be president. (He falsely claimed GDP has dropped the last two quarters and claimed the national unemployment rate was as high as 35%).

Referencing both the Abramson op-ed and the Politifact statistic that Abramson used, but dropping the qualifier “on issues” that Abramson had used, Nicholas Kristof wrote in his column last Sunday titled “Is Hillary Clinton Dishonest?”:

One basic test of a politician’s honesty is whether that person tells the truth when on the campaign trail, and by that standard Clinton does well. PolitiFact, the Pulitzer Prize­winning fact­checking site, calculates that of the Clinton statements it has examined, 50 percent are either true or mostly true. That compares to 49 percent for Bernie Sanders’s, 9 percent for Trump’s, 22 percent for Ted Cruz’s and 52 percent for John Kasich’s. Here we have a rare metric of integrity among candidates, and it suggests that contrary to popular impressions, Clinton is relatively honest — by politician standards.

Apparently it didn’t occur to either of these writers that the statistic was a mathematical function of the high number of statements of Clinton’s that fact-checking websites, including PolitiFact, are asked to and do fact check.  And that a high percentage of those statements are ones citing statistics of one type or another.

A review of a number of Clinton’s statements that PolitiFact examined shows that she usually is accurate when stating simple statistics but often misrepresents her opponent’s—Sanders’s—policies, statements or positions, sometimes explicitly, sometimes by clearly-intended inference.  An example of both in a single sentence was one I’ve mentioned in earlier posts: her recent statement that she “couldn’t believe” that Sanders opposes the Paris climate change agreement.  The express falsehood was that Sanders opposes the agreement.  The intended inference, clearly false, was that he opposes it because he thinks it goes too far.  Sanders supports the Paris climate agreement but thinks it doesn’t go far enough and believes much more is necessary.

A favorite tactic of Clinton’s in this primary campaign has been to rely upon the public’s presumption that her statements support (or at least are relevant to) the claim she’s clearly trying to make, in order to mislead by stating something that may be true—e.g., Sanders complained about the Paris agreement—but is irrelevant to her presumed point.  In that instance, Clinton slyly told her listeners that Sanders opposes the agreement because it goes too far.  These pundit apologists for Clinton fool mainly themselves with their obliviousness.  They get neither the substantive policy reasons for the strength and durability of the Sanders movement nor the nature of the distaste for Clinton herself among progressives.  Sleight-of-hand-as-prime-modus-operandi tends not to instill confidence about the general veracity of the hand-sleighter.  People do catch on when it’s a habit.

But Krugman’s Clinton-vs.-Sanders writings stake out a territory all their own.  They are rants notable less for their Clinton puffery than for their vitriol toward Sanders and his supporters, and sometimes include what seems to me real intellectual dishonesty.  That’s how I read his VAT tax remark in the excerpted post above.

It is, as Krugman says, worth pointing out that progressivity of taxes is not the most important thing, even when your concern is inequality.  And the Nordic countries’ strong social safety net, I agree, is much more important than the progressivity of the tax to fund it.*

But the Nordic VAT taxes are on all, or at least most, types of products.  The social safety net, or any one part of it, is not funded mainly by lower-income people by applying the tax only to a product or products favored more by lower-income people.  And since the gap there between lower and higher income people is tiny compared with the gap in this country, and since lower-income people have access to a full panoply of safety-net and other government programs and therefore can better afford to contribute substantially to the funding of the safety net, Krugman’s invocation of Denmark as a slam against Sanders for voicing objection to the soda tax proposed by Philadelphia’s mayor is a real sleight of hand.

Krugman links to a blog post from last Friday in the New York Times by Margot Sanger-Katz titled “A New Policy Disagreement Between Clinton and Sanders: Soda Taxes,” which reports:

Last week, Mrs. Clinton became the first presidential candidate to explicitly endorse a tax on sugary drinks. At a Philadelphia event Wednesday, she said a proposal there to use a soda tax to fund universal prekindergarten was a good idea.

“It starts early with working with families, working with kids, building up community resources,” Mrs. Clinton said, according to a CNN report. “I’m very supportive of the mayor’s proposal to tax soda to get universal preschool for kids. I mean, we need universal preschool. And if that’s a way to do it, that’s how we should do it.”

Yes, that’s a way to do it.  But of course there are other ways to do it, too.  One would be a small across-the-board sales tax increase, rather than a large one on this one product.  Another, albeit not one available to city mayors, of course is a slight income tax increase or a securities-transaction tax.

Clinton’s statement that “[i]t starts early with working with families, working with kids, building up community resources” strikes me as really troubling.  She’s running for president.  Does she really think the best way to fund universal preschool is to build up community resources?   How about building up federal resources, via a more progressive tax code, and funding universal preschool universally?  A municipal soda tax may be okay as a stopgap funding method.  But beyond that?  That’s it?

The issue of whether or not to tax soda pop as a way to discourage its use, especially by kids from lower-income families, is separate.  I think there are better ways to try to accomplish that goal, just as I think there are better ways to fund universal preschool.  But my concern here about Krugman’s post is his disingenuous use of Northern European VAT taxes in the service of another of his gratuitous attacks on Sanders and Sanders’ supporters.  Including me.

*Sentence rewritten for clarity and typo correction. 4/26 at 11:25 p.m.

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