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

Clinton Claims She Was Secretary of State in … the Bush Administration. (I think that’s what she’s claiming, anyway.)

Clinton put her presidential experience in stark terms by telling detail-laden stories about her political life, including one about dealing with a terrorist threat around President Barack Obama’s first inauguration from the White House’s Situation Room.

“I was able to bring my years of experience to the forefront,” Clinton said about having to decide whether to go on with the inauguration despite the threat against Barack Obama, who she described as the nation’s “newly elected young dynamic president.” “This is one of the biggest parts of the decision as you head toward February 1 that I want you to keep in mind. We’re living in a complicated world, to say the least. We know we have a terrorist threat — and I’ve laid out a detailed set of recommendations of what to do.”

The anecdote, which gripped town hall attendees here, squares with Clinton’s closing argument: I am ready for the presidency on Day 1 and you and your family don’t have time to wait for someone to learn on the job.

One Iowa city, two messages for Clinton and Sanders, Dan Merica and Jeff Zeleny, CNN, yesterday

The years of experience she brought to the forefront in early January 2009 were eight years as a United States senator.  She was not yet secretary of state, unless she was playing that role secretly in Bush’s State Department.

And, yes, the reporters’ phrasing above (“… Clinton said about having to decide whether to go on with the inauguration despite the threat against Barack Obama”) is an accurate description of her claim.  In a more detailed account I read elsewhere but couldn’t find just now to quote from, she did indeed claim that she was the one who made the call on whether the inauguration should proceed.  Which strikes me as probably not accurate.

I guess the implication is supposed to be that Sanders, who on Inauguration Day 2017 will have been a senator for 10 years and, before that a member of the House for 14 years, would make a different call in such a situation, because he lacks sufficient experience to weigh the complex pro and cons properly.  Only someone who has had no particular experience in foreign affairs other than as a run-of-the-mill senator for eight years but nonetheless was about to become secretary of state could have called that one right.

What worries me more than anything else about a Clinton general election campaign is her propensity to say obviously silly things. Elsewhere in that speech, in Clinton, IA on Friday, she again repeated her (and her daughter’s) complaint—without any hint of recognition of irony—that Sanders’ single-payer healthcare insurance plan would kill Obamacare.  As if it weren’t the very purpose of a single-payer healthcare insurance system to eliminate private healthcare insurance for the benefits that the single-payer plan provides.  As if the purpose of Obamacare was to create some living monument to Obama, rather than to provide healthcare insurance to people who had no access to it, and provide decent insurance to people who had policies that provided almost no coverage.

In a post here last week, I said about her contest with Bernie Sanders:

Live by the sleight-of-hand, die by the sleight-of-hand.  Or at least because of the sleight-of-hand: you’re own.  At least if your opponent is now, finally, getting real media attention and has a zillion followers.  Who use social media!

But if it is Clinton, not Sanders, who wins the nomination, is there some way to get her to speak in normal, sensical sentences and paragraphs?  Like her husband did on her behalf a few days ago in New Hampshire?

I think whichever one wins the Dem nomination will win the general election.  But will she make it an easier procession by ditching the incoherencies?  Or is that type of thing just inherent to her, something she lacks the ability to stop because she doesn’t realize that it is counterproductive and could be fatal to her candidacy?

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ADDENDUM: I posted the following comment in the Comments thread in response to a comment by Run75441 about Hillary and Chelsea Clinton’s (mis)representations about the single-payer healthcare insurance bill that Sanders proposed in 2013, and about the proposal he released two weekends ago:

The single-payer plan that Sanders released a few hours before the debate two weekends ago is administered entirely by the federal government, just as current Medicare is, run. I read that last night.

Sanders’ earlier proposal, from 2013, was structured like the marketplaces part of the ACA are, including the provision that if states refused to administer it, either at the outset or down the road, the federal government would do so.

The purpose of the state involvement was to give states some slight latitude in coverage and administration of it, in order to try to fend off the usual attacks about states having no say, no leeway. That, of course, was the reason that the ACA was structured the way it was.

But of course since 2013, it became clear that Republican-controlled states would not cooperate at all, in any respect, so the federal government would have to run a whole lot of it anyway.

But what Hillary and Chelsea Clinton did was to outright lie that the 2013 Sanders proposal was similar to the ACA’s Medicaid provision rather than the ACA’s marketplaces provision, and that the states could opt out or hamstring or cripple healthcare insurance.

This was especially strange since it is Clinton, not Sanders, who sings the praises of the ACA and says she wants to keep it and improve upon it. The ACA has separate marketplaces for each state, and therefore separate policies available in each state.

The Clintons’ misrepresentation of what part of the ACA Sanders’ plan resembled was classic Hillary Clinton: a bald misrepresentation about Sanders’ policy proposals and stated goals, via glaring misdirection and sleight of hand.

Added 1/25 at 11:27 a.m.

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Clinton’s Bizarre Attack on Her Husband’s 1992 Credentials to Be Elected Commander in Chief

The Clinton campaign is set to air this new, minute-long ad in Iowa and New Hampshire that has the feel of a closing argument: [picture from ad of a very solemn-faced Secretary of State Clinton standing next to Obama at the funeral of a fallen soldier or marine, and a link to the ad.]

— Greg Sargent, The Washington Post, this morning

Sargent goes on to say:

The ad makes the case that Clinton is the only Democratic candidate who has the fight, gravitas, and multi-faceted experience to handle both international crises and domestic economic challenges. The new spot has echoes of the infamous 3 A.M. ad that Clinton ran against Barack Obama in 2008, which argued that when your children are sleeping and a crisis is unfolding, the person you want in the White House is someone as experienced as Clinton.

But Clinton’s new ad is both less of an attack and also goes a bit farther. It is both an argument for Clinton’s fitness as commander in chief and an electability argument, in the sense that it suggests that only a candidate with this fleshed out a profile can win in November.

Good heavens.  This is someone whose husband was elected president in 1992 with government experience only as governor of Arkansas, against a sitting president who also attended military funerals, in his capacity as Commander in Chief, and who was a former CIA chief.

This attack is really dumb.

Clinton continues to run a really awful campaign, in my opinion—a campaign in which she’s spent the last few months adopting Republican talking points and making bald misrepresentations about Sanders’ policy positions, past and present, via strange sleights of hand or outright misstatement.

After taking a five-week hiatus from posting here at AB, I’ve posted a series of posts on the campaign in the last week, the most recent one titled “The little problem with Clinton’s message that Krugman doesn’t mention in his critique of Clinton and Sanders today: Her incessant claim that only taxes bears negatively against “incomes”.  The post was hastily written (I had only a few minutes to throw it together yesterday), and I’ve now edited it and added an addendum, which says:

Here in sum is the point: Clinton says that the only thing that matters to people’s bottom line is the amount of taxes they pay.

Which apparently is largely true for the wealthy, but is hardly true for the middle class and so-called working class–whose financial bottom line, financial security and standard of living is impacted tremendously by such things as healthcare insurance premiums, whether paid to the government or instead to a private company, and out-of-pocket payments to hospitals, medical labs and physicians.

That’s was so enrages me. Clinton claims by that soundbite of hers that all that matters is “income,” not income minus such things as private-healthcare-insurance premiums and out-of-pocket payments for health care.

That post was a follow-up to this one posted on Monday, titled “Why Do So Many Wealthy Democrats Think The Only Money That Matters To The Hoi Polloi Is The Money They Must Pay To The Government?

Which itself was in part a follow-up to one I posted on Sunday shortly before the debate, titled “Pre-Debate Contest: Guess which one of Sanders’ past or present policy positions or legislation he supported that Clinton will misrepresent most outlandishly tonight.

You get the idea.

Clinton certainly is qualified to become Commander in Chief. And as someone who is slightly more hawkish than Bernie Sanders, whose candidate I support obsessively, I think she would make a good one.  But I also think Bernie Sanders would make a good one.  Just as I think Bill Clinton made a good one.

The problem with Clinton’s campaign in part concerns the substance of her proposals vis-à-vis the substance of most of Sanders’, but she certainly is entitled to make her arguments on those, as long as she does not use Republican slogans to make them, and as long as she does not misstate Sanders’ past and present policy proposals.  Least of all, habitually.  And she does both of these things habitually; they’re mainstays of her campaign.

I’ve covered these points in the posts I link to, and I don’t have time right now to further elaborate anyway.  But if Clinton becomes the nominee, I dearly hope will somehow learn of my posts here at AB and take to heart what they say, because they will be pertinent to general election campaign, just as they are to her primary campaign.

Hey, maybe she’ll ditch her campaign consultants and replace them with … me!  I’d be wayyy better.  And I’m much cheaper.

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Pre-Debate Contest: Guess which one of Sanders’ past or present policy positions or legislation he supported that Clinton will misrepresent most outlandishly tonight [Updated!]

UPDATE: To see the winning Clinton claim, read my my comment to Robert Waldmann’s post above. 

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Last week when Chelsea Clinton made he now-infamous statements about Sanders’ single-payer healthcare insurance plan—specifically, the one he proposed as a bill in 2013, but presumably a blueprint for the one he plans to propose—I wondered how Sanders had managed to enlist her in the service of his own campaign.  Most memorable was the part about the horror that would be life without private healthcare insurance and the stripping of healthcare insurance frommillions and millions and millions of people by providing universal, comprehensive, and nearly identical insurance to all American citizens and legal residents.

To refresh your memory, she said (among other things):

Sen. Sanders wants to dismantle Obamacare, dismantle the [Children’s Health Insurance Program], dismantle Medicare, and dismantle private insurance.  I worry if we give Republicans Democratic permission to do that, we’ll go back to an era — before we had the Affordable Care Act — that would strip millions and millions and millions of people off their health insurance.

But in my opinion, that wasn’t even the oddest part of her trip down the rabbit hole.  This was:

Sen. Sanders wants to devolve the authority to set up state health insurance programs to individual state governors. Now maybe if I lived in a place like New Hampshire, with your governor, I would feel okay about that. But if I lived in a state that had a Republican governor, particularly a Republican governor who already turned down Medicaid expansion matching funds, I don’t think I would be comfortable, right? Because I don’t want to live in a country that has an unequal health care system again.

Sooo, I said when I read that, Chelsea Clinton wants to move to France.  Or Canada.  Or Scandinavia, or Germany, or Thailand.  Or one of the many other Western-style democracies that has an equal health care system.  Which is what she will have to do under this country’s current system if she feels that strongly about not wanting to live in a country that has an unequal health care system.

Sanders’ 2013 proposal no more gives the states the option to join or decline to join the program than does Obamacare—the program Chelsea and her mother champion and want to preserve rather than move to a single-payer-healthcare-for-all system—give states the option of participating in the state-based marketplaces that have minimum coverage requirements and mandate acceptance of patients irrespective of preexisting medical conditions.  The Medicaid-expansion option that states have under the ACA has no analogy in Sanders’ 2013 single-payer proposal.  Chelsea was parroting her mother on this bald misstatement.

And having no healthcare insurance is not the same as having healthcare insurance.  Unless of course the medical care you need is not covered by the insurance you have, because the deductibles and co-pays under your employer-provided insurance or under the policy you bought through a state marketplace under Obamacare for a premium low enough that your employer or you could afford it, means (unlike more comprehensive plans that others have but you do not) that you must pay those medical bills yourself.

Apparently, Chelsea Clinton doesn’t get out much these days.

But then, neither, it appears, does her mother, who has claimed repeatedly, including in comments in defense of her daughter’s odd statements about Sanders’ single-payer concept, that the only expenses—the only money people pay—that actually matters to them is money paid to the government.

No other expenses count as money—as loss of income or as other expenditure that actually effects your and your family’s financial bottom line and therefore standard of living.  Money paid to UnitedHealthcare or Anthem Blue Cross in premiums, and to hospitals, physicians and medical labs in co-pays and deductibles, don’t count.  That’s not money paid to the government, see.  So it’s wayyy better to pay more for less-comprehensive coverage to private insurance companies, and still be financially insecure about medical expenses, than to pay less money in healthcare costs to the government and be financially secure about medical expenses.  Because, y’know … the government.

Which—I wish Sanders would point out—is exactly what Clinton saysAgain and again. Just like the Republicans do.

Hillary Clinton should get out more, too.

Okay, Clinton of course doesn’t want you to realize that that’s what she’s saying.  She wants you to think she’s saying that the large price tag for Sanders’ plan is in addition to private insurance premiums and deductables and co-pays.  But her own daughter says that Sanders wants to end private insurance.  Clinton should check with her daughter. Best to get the story straight.

What Chelsea Clinton did, in other words, is highlight the two reasons that her mother’s campaign is flailing: that the candidate sees even issues as important to people’s lives as the costs and breadth of healthcare coverage as something to mislead about as a campaign tactic, and that at bottom she, like Republicans, believe that the only thing that matters as personal or family expenditures is the amount paid to the government.  And according to a New York Times report today, Bill and Hillary Clinton both believe that the mistake Clinton and her campaign made is that they didn’t begin these tactics months before they did.  (Shucks!  The public loves to be played like toys about really important things. Why didn’t our consultants figure that out earlier?  What are we paying them for?!)

So, buckle your seatbelts, folks.  What will the biggest sleight of hand, the most outlandish assertion or inference about Sanders’ policy proposals, be?

We’ve already had the Denmark-isn’t-a-capitalist-country-and-it-would-be-a-grave-mistake-and-unAmerican-to-emulate-them thing in the first debate, which sort of backfired when in the days following that debate the news media was filled with articles about Denmark’s vibrant capitalist economy, large number of small businesses, and high level of innovation.

We’ve had the no-industry-except-the-gun-industry-has-immunity-from-strict-liability-for-criminal-use-by-a-customer misrepresentation about the gun-manufacturer and gun-retailer legal immunity statute that Sanders voted for in 2005.  Actually, no other industry is strictly liable, in any state under state law, under such circumstances, a fact that got little media attention but enough, apparently, to cause Clinton to stop making the claim.

And there was, of course, the he-told-ME-to-stop-shouting-even-though-I-wasn’t-shouting-because-I’m-a-woman dust-up.  She didn’t accuse him of supporting legislation that would arrest women for disturbing the peace when they speak, but she came close to it.

In addition, of course, to the Sanders-is-coming-for-your-healthcare-insurance-and-is-out-to-lower-your-standard-of-living stuff.  Denmark! Somalia-level healthcare coverage!  Bankrupting the country because the $10 trillion (or whatever) currently spent annually on healthcare in this country WILL EVAPORATE upon enactment of Sanders’ single-payer plan, and so won’t be available to pay instead for the single-payer plan.

How about Denmark-level healthcare coverage?  For less than what is spent annually in this country for our current Swiss-cheese sandwich.  Which is what Sanders is proposing.

My bet is that one of tonight’s treasures will again be on the gun-industry immunity law, along the lines of a message to the media last week by Clinton Campaign chief John Podesta.  Podesta conflated manufacturing with sales.  Specifically, the level of control that the fast-food industry has over the content of the food it serves, and the level of control that gun retailers have over their customers’ later use of the purchased gun.

But there’s still time for you to enter this contest.  Okay, not much time; I should have posted this earlier.  But for all you very quick thinkers, that should not be problem.

The prize is an interview with the Clinton Campaign for a job as a campaign consultant.  The job will pay well, I’m sure.

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Instead of nominating Marco Rubio, the Republicans should just cut out the pretense and nominate his doppelgänger: Charlie McCarthy

Bill Clinton had a line during his 1992 campaign that he said, mantra-like, so often in fact that eventually it lost its meaning and was just a cringe-inducing song-like chorus.  The line, the slogan, was, “People who work hard and play by the rules.”  It was—until he repeated it to a point well beyond when people actually would think of its meaning when they heard it, rather than just cringe or role their eyes—a very effective campaign mantra and also one that said something meaningful.  And it’s a line that I’ve thought of repeatedly since Thursday night’s debate.

Marco Rubio neither works hard nor plays by the rules.  Except, of course, the rules that politicians these days play by, although Rubio has throughout his political career—which is to say, virtually throughout his adult life once he graduated from law school—been jaw-droppingly adept at it, finding two billionaires to sponsor his political career and shore up his personal finances. One of them is human, the other is a corporate person.

The corporate person is GEO Group, the second-largest private, for-profit prison company in the United States—is there another country that has a private-prisons industry?  I have no idea—and whose company’s only client is government entities.  Including the State of Florida, thanks to Rubio during his tenure as Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives (of billionaires, human and corporate).  The other is Miami billionaire Norman Braman.

A common refrain about Rubio is that he’s a man in a hurry.  A refrain that I trust is about to become common is that he also is a man on the take.  Which he is.  Pure and simple.  This spade needs to be called a spade, and will be, whether it’s Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders—or a massive swell from the news media of the sort that, finally, is occurring in the wake of Wednesday’s debate calling all but one member of the entire cast (Kasich was the exception) grifters, scam artists, fraudsters, liars on a truly grand scale—that begins it loudly enough to be heard.

Regarding GEO-Group-as-Rubio-family-financier, the first article about it (to my knowledge) in a major national publication was by Staten Island-based freelance writer Michael Cohen published in the Washington Post on April 28 of this year.  Its title is “How for-profit prisons have become the biggest lobby no one is talking about.”  Its subtitle is “Sen. Marco Rubio is one of the biggest beneficiaries.”  Among its paragraphs about Rubio is this one:

Marco Rubio is one of the best examples of the private prison industry’s growing political influence, a connection that deserves far more attention now that he’s officially launched a presidential bid. The U.S. senator has a history of close ties to the nation’s second-largest for-profit prison company, GEO Group, stretching back to his days as speaker of the Florida House of Representatives. While Rubio was leading the House, GEO was awarded a state government contract for a $110 million prison soon after Rubio hired an economic consultant who had been a trustee for a GEO real estate trust. Over his career, Rubio has received nearly $40,000 in campaign donations from GEO, making him the Senate’s top career recipient of contributions from the company. (Rubio’s office did not respond to requests for comment.)

The statute of limitations has run on potential public corruption charges under the federal criminal code.  But many public officials have been charged and convicted for conduct that bears, let’s just say, a resemblance to Rubio’s. Former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell would dispute that his was one such case, since McDonnell contends that when he pushed that vitamin supplement in exchange for $165,000 (or whatever the amount was) in gifts and sweetheart loans, he did so not in his official capacity but as a private individual.

Then there is the curious case of Norman Braman, Florida tax policy when Rubio was speaker of the Florida House, and Rubio’s job teaching Political Science at a Florida public university courtesy of a newly created and paid for in full by Braman after Rubio left the Florida House in order to run full-time for the U.S. Senate.  (Full time except for that adjunct teaching position, of course.)  In an article published Monday on Alternet, Lou Dubose of the Washington Spectator summarized the details as revealed earlier by The New York Times:

In an interview with The New York Times, the senator described Norman Braman, a Miami billionaire who once owned the Philadelphia Eagles and now sells BMWs, Rolls-Royces, Cadillacs, Audis and Bugatis, as “a father figure who had given him advice on everything, from what books to read to how to manage a staff.”

Braman, the Times reported, gave Rubio more than advice.

He contributed $255,000 to an advocacy group Rubio formed to lobby for one of his signature-mark initiatives while he was speaker of the Florida House of Representatives: a dramatic reduction of property taxes and increase in the state sales tax.

When Rubio left state government, he got a job teaching at Florida International University, committing to raise his salary from private donors. Braman contributed $100,000 to the university, earmarked for Rubio’s salary.

Braman donated to Rubio’s U.S. Senate campaign, and hired Rubio as a lawyer for seven months while he campaigned. He hired Rubio’s wife, and her company, to work for his charitable foundation. And he is reported to have committed $10 million to Rubio’s presidential campaign.

The New York Times reporters suggested that Rubio’s involvement with Braman will lead to a more thorough examination of the Florida Senator’s personal finances as the presidential campaign continues.

Dubose’s article is titled “Marco Rubio’s Financial Messes” and subtitled “Fishy financials don’t make for a great campaign.”  And, really, they don’t.

Rubio’s debate riposte—not about any of this, which he wasn’t asked about, but to a question about problems with his and his wife’s handling of their family’s cash flow—was that, well, he unlike Bush and Trump comes from a family of very modest means, and as an adult he received no financial assistance from his parents.  This presumably will do double duty as a response to questions about what the conduct that many people, I suspect, will view as amounting to public corruption.  But it’s a line that will continue to work only until someone other than me—to reiterate, e.g., Trump, Sanders, Clinton, or journalists—points out that many, many people who come from families of very modest means actually do work hard and do play by the rules.

Many of them, like Rubio’s mother, whom he mentioned during the debate in reference to Medicare and Social Security—he said she relies on them—are weak as people.  So, too, is he, by his own admission, for allowing his mother to rely on those federal programs rather than supporting her, including paying her healthcare costs.  Like people did in the old days. I was unaware of this admission by him, and in fact was unaware that he thinks Medicare and Social Security weaken us as people, until I read Steve Benen’s post yesterday on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC blog (h/t Paul Waldman):

Later, the far-right Floridian referenced entitlements – Rubio is on record condemning Medicare and Social Security for “weakening us as a people” – and said to laughter, “Nothing has to change for current beneficiaries. My mother is on Medicare and Social Security. I’m against anything that’s bad for my mother.”

That same record (video, actually) includes, specifically, Rubio’s statement that Medicare and Social Security have made us as a people lazy.

It will be a relief to many that as long as Mrs. Rubio is alive, Medicare and Social Security will be safe under a Rubio presidency.  Enabling the lazy Rubio to avoid having to support her.

The Democrats can only hope that Marco Rubio will be the Republican nominee for president.  Our current campaign finance system reduces most American politicians to ventriloquists’ puppets, but Rubio is unmistakably Charlie McCarthy reincarnate.  To the point of comedy.  Like the original Charlie McCarthy.  Next time you hear or see him speak, just think of how comfortably he would fit on Edgar Bergen’s lap.*

A week or two ago I read—I don’t remember where—that there is a Super PAC tied to Rubio that has a huge amount of funding but only one donor, whose identity is anonymous.  Rubio indeed would fit perfectly on Edgar Bergen’s lap, but here’s betting that that donor isn’t Edgar Bergen.

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*Link to Paul Krugman’s blog post from this morning titled “Policy and Character” added. 10/30 at 11:01 p.m.

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Why Does Hillary Clinton Think We Want Elizabeth Warren to Be Vulnerable?

Hillary Clinton says women are “held to a totally different standard” in politics — and that it’s been that way since she first ran for office.

“You’re expected to be both strong and vulnerable at the same time,” Clinton said in BuzzFeed’s “Another Round” podcast that was published online Sunday. “That’s not easy to do.”

The Democratic frontrunner said it’s “frustrating” for women in “any profession” to be criticized for being themselves.

“It’s just so hard to get people to realize that, you know, we’re all different,” Clinton said. “We may all be women, but we all have our strengths, we all have our weaknesses. We get up every morning and do the best we can. And eventually people either get you or they don’t.”

Clinton said she faced similar sexist questions when she first ran for Senate in 1999 and again during the 2008 presidential campaign — but, interestingly, not during her time as secretary of state.

“Because I wasn’t in politics, people were really nice,” Clinton said. “They said all kinds of nice things about me, which, you know, I appreciated.”

But that changed when she announced her 2016 presidential bid.

“How is a woman supposed to behave? Well, how about the way she is,” Clinton said. “And then people have to figure out her as opposed to her having to figure out everybody else.”

Hillary Clinton: ‘How is a woman supposed to behave? Well, how about the way she is’, Dylan Stableford, Yahoo Politics, yesterday

Yup.  We definitely expect Elizabeth Warren to be both strong and vulnerable.  And since she’s only one of those things, we Democrats are darned lucky that she’s not running for the presidential nomination!

Heck, I’m not sure Warren will even be reelected to the Senate, unless she adopts Barbara Mikulski’s or Debbie Stabenow’s feigning-vulnerability thing. They did it so well that they have both had a cakewalk to reelection.  Mikulski, repeatedly!  And Stabenow, in a swing state!

What concerns me most about Hillary Clinton’s candidacy is that she believes, obviously unshakably, that what really matters in this election is herHer personality.  Her gender.  Her ongoing, decades-long war with the Republican Party, not about policy but instead about her.  It permeates every single thing about her campaign.  Because ultimately, yes, it does show, to use her words, the way she is.

One of the ways she is is a politician who is paying consultants exorbitant fees to advise her that she should be a guest on one after another comedy-skit show or women’s daytime interview show, and talk about herself and act silly.  But who apparently don’t advise her that, maybe, her actual problem is that she never actually engages in a back-and-forth discussion publicly about policy specifics and their impact, and that her vaunted toughness toward Republicans has almost nothing to do with the specifics their economic and fiscal policy proposals but instead in defending herself against their allegations of misconduct.

See?  She can go toe-to-toe with those Republicans!  Just not in explaining that, contrary to their incessant claims, this country’s most successful and creative period was when income taxes were far more progressive, and far higher for higher-income individuals and for corporations, than they have been during periods of slow economic growth.  And that it was during those decades that most of this country’s dramatic upward mobility occurred.

And that while, say, Marco Rubio makes patently ridiculous claims like that Uber couldn’t exist in any other country because only in the United States is it not banned by regulations instituted at the behest of taxicab drivers and taxicab company owners.  And even here in the United States it didn’t exist in Miami when it did exist in New York City because of those of those regulations that taxicab drivers had managed to successfully lobby the city’s government to kill Uber’s plan to that city.

Mm-hmm.  Only the likes of taxicab drivers lobby for favorable legislation and contracts.  Not, say, private prison corporations.  Although, of course, private corporations taking over government functions in exchange for payment to them of huge public funds and payment by them to, say, Marco Rubio’s campaign funds is capitalism!  And democracy!  Unlike taxicab driver and labor union lobbying.

And Uber operates not just in the United States but in cities all over the world.  Even in Scandinavia.  And also in Miami.  But it didn’t start in Miami.  Probably because of the strength of the taxicab driver lobby there.

For months and months after Clinton announced her candidacy, as it started to become clear that it wasn’t quite taking off as they’d expected, her campaign engaged in an intense attempt via political journalists to characterize her as a wonk. Repeatedly, sometimes several within a few days, there were articles describing her as a wonk.  Which, it turns out, now means, simply, a claimed interest in policy.  (Jeb Bush began to borrow the he’s-a-Wonk-campaign campaign strategy, also with some success.  Jeb Bush is not a wonk, but he is a Wonk.  Then again, he can explain why the left wants slow growth; it’s that it means people are more dependent upon government.”  The thing is, though, that he can’t explain why his brother wanted slow growth.  Or at least wanted much slower growth than lefty Obama has wanted.  Or, if he’s wonkish enough to know why, he has so far kept it to himself.)

After reading yet another Hillary-Clinton’s-a-wonk article, circa July, shortly after she made political headlines with an addition to her website in which she assured small-business owners and people who aspire to be one that she fully understood that the biggest problem in starting and then in owning a small business is federal regulation, and that she planned to get right on that as soon as she’s inaugurated, I said to myself:

Yep.  She’s a wonk.  It’s just that she’s a wonk who thinks small businesses are regulated mainly by the federal government, and  thinks that the locale and the nature of the business are irrelevant to the type of regulations required to start and then operat a small business.

It didn’t occur to her, apparently, to not condescend to small-business owners and aspirants, and state that most small-business regulation is not by the federal government but by states and municipalities. Much less did she think that maybe she should point out that, regarding small businesses, federal regulation usually supports them as against mega-businesses that control such things as credit/debit card payment methods and fees, and as against business-sector monopolies.  That’s what the Durbin Amendment and the Sherman Antitrust Act respectively do.

Then again, in order for her to do that she’d have to have the ability to do that, as well as the willingness to do it.  Bernie Sanders has the ability to do that.  And does do it. So does Clinton’s husband, even now; he did it, extemporaneously, on some complex subject—I can’t remember what, but I read about it—when he appeared recently on some interview show.  Granted, they’re both men.  But Elizabeth Warren is a woman, and she can, and does, do it too.

Hillary Clinton speaks only in soundbites because, apparently, she thinks only in soundbites.  And because, maybe after all, and for all her feminism talk, she believes that complex discussion of such things as the Sherman Antitrust Act and the level of its enforcement (or lack of it), and of Keynesian economics, and of the actual history of federal taxation, spending, and regulation—and the actual nature of federal regulation—are subjects only for male politicians to discuss with journalists for the enlightenment of the hoi polloi.

Clinton doesn’t have to show she’s vulnerable.  But, oh, she does.

And she doesn’t realize that it is she who is really the one with the gender bias.  Or at least for whom it will forever be the 1990s.

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Bill Clinton thinks corps will put people first, profits second…all on their own.

So, Bill baby thinks the corps are going to see the light and return to the good old days of having a social conscience.  Heck, they will even see the light regarding their role as a member of society in the US.   And, here is the best part.  This is all going to happen without the government!

“I think the government can have incentives that will encourage it, but I think by and large it will happen, if it does, because of proof that markets work better that way,” Clinton said…

Right out of the Milton et al, Republican, conservative free market text book.  (Hope you are all reading Beverly’s post.)

He quantified it with:  “This corporate change, Clinton said, will be one of the most important keys to building a better future.”   Well he sure has that correct.  It is important as a key to building a better future.

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

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

“I’m for no more,” he said.

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

So Ronald Reagan was a thief.  Who knew?  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It should help them steal some elections.

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*Parenthetical added after initial posting.

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Romney Says Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton Did Not Believe In Free People and Free Enterprise

Romney didn’t apologize for [his] comments, instead he doubled down, saying that his opponent, President Barack Obama, believes in “redistributing wealth,” while “we believe in free people and free enterprise.”

Democrats “believe you have to take from some and give to others. I don’t believe in that,” he said, repeating the same theme.

“I believe America was built on the principle of government caring for those in need but getting out of the way and allowing free people to pursue their dreams,” Romney said. “Free people pursing free enterprises is the only way we’ll create a strong and growing middle class and the only way we’ll help people out of poverty.”

— Mitt Romney, speaking to Neil Cavuto on Fox News today

Yup. That’s right. Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton didn’t believe in free people and free enterprise. All presided over redistribution-of-wealth schemes of the sort that Romney warns against. 

Which is why George Romney made so little money in the ‘50s and ‘60s and why America’s economy and American society were so awful all those decades after we abandoned freedom of people and free enterprise after 1929, until George W. Bush restored some of our freedom and our free-enterprise system—but not enough of it.  No wonder George Romney left the auto industry for government.  He wanted to make some money!

We need to end this redistribution-of-wealth thing completely!  Forever! I don’t see why we have to tax people like Mitt Romney at all. Why does Romney want to reduce their taxes just 20% further?  I demand an answer! Free people pursing free enterprises is the only way we’ll create a strong and growing middle class.  Which is why we weren’t able to do that between the 1920s and the 2000s!
Poor Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and others so hampered by our non-free-enterprise system during the decades preceding 2001, toiling under Communist rule and longing for freedom and a non-redistributive economic system.

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Seriously, folks.  If Obama doesn’t remove this straw man from this economic-history savant’s arsenal of parading apparitions by the end of the day tomorrow, I’ll be really frustrated.

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