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

Was Comey effectively extorted by NYC-based FBI agents? And did those agents illegally look at some of those emails without the prerequisite court order?

Most Democrats were outraged. “Mr. Comey said he was duty bound to inform Congress,” Bob Kerrey, the former senator and governor, told me. “Quite the opposite is the case. He was duty bound to make an announcement after he completes his examination of the emails.“

Indeed, he broke with the longstanding F.B.I. policy of not commenting on ongoing investigations.

Comey, Clinton and This Steaming Mess, Frank Bruni, New York Times, today

Bob Kerrey is exactly right, and I’ve posted two posts making that point, the second of them urging Newsweek to retract its representation yesterday that the law required Comey to do what he did, because Comey had told Congress under oath last summer that the FBI investigation was closed—a claim that is utter nonsense.

In response to the first of my posts, reader BillB, in replying to a comment by reader BKrasting, described what I believe amounts to a bizarre decision by some FBI agents involved in the Weiner investigation to effectively extort Comey into disclosing the discovery of the emails (which may be duplicates of ones already investigated).

Here’s what BillB wrote to me in the comments thread to the second of my posts:

BillB / October 29, 2016 4:25 pm

You are absolutely right. I’ll just resubmit what I put in your previous posting in response to bkrasting:

“Would you have preferred that the head of the FBI deliberately break the law?”

Broken what law? Name the law or you are just blowing smoke. There is no law requiring the FBI director to release preliminary information on an investigation it hasn’t even done yet.

Are the emails from or to Clinton? He doesn’t know because he hasn’t seem them yet. Are they related to any other investigation that the FBI has done? He doesn’t know because he hasn’t seen them yet.

The responsible thing to do was to wait until he had a determination of their relevance before making a public announcement. He is not withholding anything because at this point he doesn’t even know what he is holding. It may be absolutely nothing.

But Clinton is correct. At this point Comey has muddied the waters and the only way he can fix it is to immediately tell the public everything he knows and everything he does not know.

The back story to this is management incompetence. The New York FBI office is upset at the DC office because they pulled off and replaced the local FBI agents in the investigation of the Eric Garner case because they were refusing to aggressively pursue the case.

In retaliation, the New York agents were threatening to prematurely leak the email information in defiance of FBI protocol. Comey fell prey to the blackmail and felt that he had to get ahead of the leakers to preserve his credibility with Republicans in Congress. Comey was just covering his own ass. The fact that he can’t control his own office indicates gross incompetence.

I replied:

Beverly Mann / October 29, 2016 4:34 pm

That in itself is a BIG story. But since when does the FBI director make a premature or otherwise inappropriate announcement about a pending investigation because FBI agents are threatening to do so themselves?

This was an appallingly inappropriate use of the FBI itself–of the agency itself and its investigatory powers–in the service of a political goal.

If Comey was effectively extorted, that strikes me as itself a criminal act.

BillB responded:

BillB / October 29, 2016 4:58 pm

I don’t think there is any criminality involved. In any large government or private corporation the saying is that “Information is power.” And people will trade that information as a lever to further their own political interests within the organization. It happens all the time and it isn’t criminal.

But it is despicable. It is evidence that Comey is an incompetent leader. It is evidence that, contrary to Comey’s claims of acting out of ethical imperative, he was simply acting in his own self-interest to preserve his Republican credibility and cover up his own lack of leadership to control his staff.

I dunno.  This wasn’t trading information within an organization.  This was threatening to reveal to the public information that Comey himself already knew—raw, preliminary information obtained through a nascent FBI investigation—unless Comey himself made it public, in order to impact an election for president and for control of Congress.

Sure sounds to me like misuse of information obtained in an incomplete FBI investigation.

It also appears that these agents may have looked at some of the emails without the prerequisite court order  as required by the Fourth Amendment.  Descriptions of the nature of the emails have now been leaked, according to Greg Sargent this morning, who also questioned how this information was known to FBI agents when apparently no search warrant had yet been issued as of early this morning.

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ANTITRUSSSSST! (Dear Hillary: In a well-received economics-themed speech in Toledo on Monday, you mentioned ANTITRUST LAW and ARBITRATION CLAUSES. Please, please do so also at Sunday’s debate.)

Clinton also said she would push for new steps to crack down on “forced arbitration” fine print that prevents workers and consumers from suing companies, proposals aimed at reducing market concentration and increasing competition, and curbing tax rules that gave corporations and the super-wealthy, like Trump, tax breaks not available to ordinary taxpayers.

After Trump’s tax-return leak, Clinton accuses him of protecting a ‘rigged system’, Abby Phillip and David Weigel, Washington Post, Oct. 3

Yes, Monday was economic-policy day for the Clinton campaign.  Tuesday was, well, not.  And while Tim Kaine is taking the brunt of the criticism for that, he is not the one who made that decision.  Clinton and her campaign gurus are.

Abby Phillip reported last night in a blog post titled “Clinton debate prep is focused on what happens once the debate is done”:

Sen. Tim Kaine may have awakened Wednesday to poor reviews after the first and only vice-presidential debate, but his acerbic performance in Farmville, Va., revealed that the Clinton campaign’s strategy for these debates extends far beyond the stage.

Armed with pre-planned Web videos, television ads and tweets, the campaign has used key debate moments this week and last as a cudgel against the Republican ticket, showing a level of discipline and organization largely absent from Donald Trump and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s campaign.

“Kaine had a very clear and simple plan for the debate: remind a national televised audience of all of the offensive things Trump has said and done in this campaign,” said Dan Pfeiffer, a former senior adviser to President Obama. “The Clinton campaign was smart enough to know that who ‘wins’ or ‘loses’ the VP debate doesn’t move votes. Instead it’s an opportunity to communicate a message to a very large audience.”

“I don’t see a single thing that Pence did that moved the needle for Trump in any way,” he added.

Both Hillary Clinton and her running mate showed up on their respective debate nights well rehearsed. At moments, they seemed over-rehearsed. At one point Tuesday, Pence shot back at Kaine: “Did you work on that one a long time? Because that had a lot of really creative lines in it.”

But Clinton and Kaine had a larger goal in mind than winning the debates themselves: to create a series of compelling sound bites that they planned to weaponize for the reminder of the campaign. They logged scores of hours of preparation. They recited laundry lists of Trump’s faults. Their clear objective: to record him and his running mate embracing, denying or evading controversial positions that Trump has taken in recorded speeches.

That pattern is likely to continue Sunday at the next presidential debate, Democrats said.

“[Pence] claimed over and over and over again — he claimed, ‘He never said those things!’ ” exclaimed conservative radio host Glenn Beck on Wednesday. “We’re not living in the 1800s. We can go back to the clips on YouTube.”

And that’s exactly what the Clinton campaign did. Shortly after the debate Tuesday, the Clinton campaign tweeted out a glossy new site at hillaryclinton.com/literallytrump. The site highlighted dozens of moments “mentioned at the debate,” most of them by Kaine, with citations to back them up and the “share” button never too far away.

By Wednesday morning, a new video was blasted: a 90-second super-cut of Pence’s denials.

Here’s the problem with that strategy: It’s only half of what the Clinton strategy should be.

The other half?  Illustrating that on his fiscal, economic, and regulatory policy agenda—all of it intricately related—Trump and Pence are exactly the same.  It’s a Mercers/Kochs/Tea Party agenda.  Yet Kaine at the debate—at the orchestration of the Clinton campaign’s strategists—allowed Pence to get away with the more important of the Trump campaign’s two new lines.

The less-important line was the one that everyone knows is preposterous: that it is Clinton rather than Trump who is running a campaign based on insults.  Greg Sargent, linking to a Washington Post video clip of Trump’s rally in Nevada yesterday, writes this morning:

A new, self-effacing version of Donald Trump appeared on the campaign trail late yesterday. In Nevada, Trump said this:

“A vote for me is a vote for change, and common sense, and a strong military, and great veterans’ care, and Second Amendment rights, and good health care….But it’s also a vote directly for you. Because I am a reflection of you.

“You’re voting as people who believe in yourselves. You are voting to believe in your future. You are voting to believe in your great country. All together, we are going to make our country wealthy again….And we are going to make America great again.”

“This isn’t about me, it’s about you” is standard political boilerplate, of course. But in Trump’s case, it may signal a closing strategy.

The Post titled that video clip “Trump to supporters: ‘I am a reflection of you.”  And this time he wasn’t talking only about those who are in the basket of deplorables.

He also wasn’t talking about those who wouldn’t be assisted by the tax policy drafted for him at the Mercer-funded Heritage Foundation, nor to those who would be forced to make up some of the lost income and estate tax revenue in order to pay for the massive buildup in military defense and border security (among other things).  Although he, like Pence on Tuesday night, was claiming that is the “you” who he is talking about, and talking to.

I’ve written two or three posts here at AB in the last few months in which I’ve pleaded with Clinton to discuss antitrust law and also forced-arbitration clauses.  Antitrust law is the more important of the two, and truly implicates the very workings of the larger economy.  In a post several months ago, I recalled that it was a regular part of Bernie’s stump speech, and mentioned an article from back in the summer of 2015 in which the reporter sat not in the press section but instead amongst the crowd at a yugely enthusiastic rally in Iowa and reported that the young woman with long blond hair sitting next to him would rise from her seat and, cheerleader-like, punch the air to shout one or another subject line that Sanders was mentioning—and that one of those things was: ANTITRUSSSSST!!

But forced-arbitration clauses in consumer, employment, securities, mortgage and other loan, and various other types of contracts—as the Supreme Court, in a series of 5-4 opinions, has rewritten (er, “interpreted”) the Federal Arbitration Act to permit in breathtakingly sweeping form, also is important.

The two subjects, along with labor-law issues and campaign-finance law, get at the very heart of what so much of the public means when they say they want change: they want a major recalibration between the profoundly powerful and everyone else.  They want to regain some real power over the private and public institutions that have such a stranglehold on life in this country.

That’s what Bernie understood, and his policy proposals reflected that, and to the extent that they are incorporated into the Democratic Party platform, they still do. Trump understands this, too, and that’s why there has been that other basket—the one without the deplorables.

Trump began his campaign as both a racist and xenophobe and an economic populist.  But last October, in an attempt to fend off a threatened torrent of Koch spending to try to kill his campaign, he quietly switched to Paul-Ryan-on-steroids on fiscal and financial-industry-regulatory matters.  And when not long after that, after the Kochs made clear their continued hostility toward Trump’s candidacy, the hedge-fund-billionaire father-daughter duo Robert and Rebekah Mercer took up the slack.

And then some.

I had expected, naively, before Tuesday that Kaine would get this across at the debate, especially in the wake of the Trump 1995 tax return publication and its (momentarily, I guess) resulting attention to Trump’s tax plan.  And also because Pence is Paul Ryan with gray hair.

I had thought, although it was only wishful thinking, that Clinton and her campaign actually finally recognized that millennials, Rust Belt blue collar voters, and middle-class suburbanites all would be as repelled by Trump’s Heritage Foundation fiscal-and-regulatory-policy agenda.  And that, contrary to what Clinton clearly had believed throughout her campaign from its inception, middle class suburbanites, in large numbers—including many independents and moderate Republicans, like most of the genuinely progressive fiscal and regulatory agenda that Sanders had forced into the party platform.

But I was wrong. Clinton believes, apparently inalterably,  that moderate suburbanites, millennials and racial minorities care only about Trump’s racism, xenophobia, misogyny, vulgarity and such—and his obvious mental instability, which is why reportedly internal polling by both Trump’s and Clinton’s campaigns are showing an en masse movement toward Clinton among independents and moderate Republicans, and third-party-candidate-fan millennials in the last week—more so than the public polls are showing.

But Clinton could wrap this up and tie a bow on it—and significantly help Dem Senate and maybe even House candidates—if she talks about what she talked about on Monday in Toledo.

I also want to say this: For me, what mattered a lot about that speech was that she ventured away from the usual and discussed—mentioned and explained—two tremendously important aspects of the economic-power status quo in the current age: massive consolidation of, and massive control over the legal system by, large corporations, hugely increasing the power of mega-corporations over small and midsize businesses and individuals.

And a big part of what mattered to me is that Clinton trusted that her audience would understand what she was talking about, even though these things required some explanation.

Finally, I want to note that the Phillip and Weigel piece I quoted from above was the only report among the (I believe) three I read about Clinton’s Toledo rally that noted her mention of antitrust and forced-arbitration-clause law.  Neither the NYT report nor Politico did.

I’ve said a couple of times recently that in my opinion the Washington Post’s campaign coverage throughout the primaries and general election campaign has been far superior to any other that I’ve read.  I’ve mentioned John Wagner, who covered Bernie’s campaign and now helps cover Clinton’s, for its straight and thorough reporting on campaign events.  Jenna Johnson’s reporting and David Weigel’s as well have been terrific.  And then there is David Fahrentold’s Pulitzer-caliber investigative reports on the Trump Foundation.

As of right now I expect Clinton to win reasonably comfortably.  But she can win with a fairly clear mandate for the types of change that the Dem platform proposes, if she campaigns on them and—relatedly—on the specifics of Trump’s, and Ryan/Pence’s, actual fiscal and regulatory agenda.

As for Tim Kaine, my heart sort of goes out to him.  And the way that Clinton can make it up to him is not by claiming that he did great at the debate, but instead by pointing out this: Mike Pence built his name as a far-right but studiedly-smooth talk-radio host.  Tim Kaine built his career as a civil rights lawyer.

This matters.  And it favors Kaine, not Pence.

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What Clinton and her surrogates need to get across to millennials, racial minorities and union members

Coming soon: President Barack Obama, who’s expected to campaign [in Florida] at least twice before Election Day. First Lady Michelle Obama — more popular than her husband — will likely visit Florida as well, in addition to the ad she cut for Clinton that’s currently airing on Florida radio.

“Hillary Clinton’s campaign is in panic mode. Full panic mode,” said Leslie Wimes, a South Florida-based president of the Democratic African-American Women Caucus.

“They have a big problem because they thought Obama and Michelle saying, ‘Hey, go vote for Hillary’ would do it. But it’s not enough,” Wimes said, explaining that too much of the black vote in Florida is anti-Trump, rather than pro-Clinton. “In the end, we don’t vote against somebody. We vote for somebody.”

Part of the problem Clinton faces is that Obama, the actual black president, is the toughest of acts to follow. Obama enjoyed support from 95 percent of Florida’s black voters in both 2012 and 2008, according to exit polls.

Clinton campaign in ‘panic mode’ over Florida black voters, Marc Caputo and Daniel Ducassi, Politico, yesterday

“In the end, we don’t vote against somebody. We vote for somebody.”  Sounds like a plan!  If your plan is to ensure that the Supreme Court remains in the hands of the rightwing Federalist Society for another two decades, and that the lower federal bench, which after three decades of Federalist Society control is no longer in that stranglehold.

Guess the “we” who, in the end, don’t vote against somebody but instead vote for somebody, are just fine with the Supreme Court’s killing of the Voting Rights Act; the Court’s killing of federal-court habeas corpus review of state-court and state-prosecutor actions wayyy beyond what the 1996 jurisdictional statute they purport to just be interpreting (they’ve actually rewritten it); the Court’s singlehanded creation of a legal doctrine called “qualified immunity” (by their own admission not based on any statute but instead solely on their preferred policy) that exempts all law enforcement people, including (especially) prosecutors (including those who falsify evidence and those who withhold clearly exculpatory evidence) from any civil lawsuit liability, like, ever.

And the possibility of the Supreme Court upholding new campaign-finance laws—federal and state. Including state judicial elections or appointments.  And state attorneys general and local DAs.

You think black lives matter, but you don’t care enough about who in the federal judicial branch is making policy that goes such a long way toward deciding whether or not black lives matter?  Or, you don’t know that it the judiciary—and particularly the federal judiciary—at least as much as Congress that determines the relevant policy, and that the person who determines the makeup of the Supreme court and he lower federal courts, and therefore determines how much latitude state court judges and state prosecutors and state and local police have, is either that person whom you won’t vote for because you’re not enthusiastic about her, or that the person whom you don’t want to just vote against?

Ditto for millennials in general.  Most of the African-Americans saying that are, best as I can tell, millennials, leading me to wonder where they were during the primaries, when African-Americans in the South effectively determined the outcome of the primary contest.  Was Sanders not someone they could vote for?  Apparently not, so I guess they just didn’t vote.  Which should, maybe, suggest to them that if there are things that matter to them that will be determined by whom the next president is, they should ditch their high-mindedness and vote for the one of the two candidates that they would rather see making those decisions who will be making those decisions (court appointments, for example).

But its by means just African-American millennials.  It’s millennials generally.  It’s just the in thing this year.  The fashion. Which is good, to a point.  But not beyond that.

I say: Heck, millennials, just tell reporters and pollsters whatever you want about how cool you are to vote for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein, or to not vote (even for Senate and House, and state legislators).  It’s certainly the millennial in thing to support Johnson or Stein, or not vote.  And it will be unless and until President Trump, say, fulfills his promise to appoint a justice like Antonin Scalia to fill Scalia’s seat on the Court.  But if that’s not what you want to actually see, then vote.  For Clinton.

It’s one thing to threaten to cast a vanity vote, but quite another to actually cast one, ceding to others, without an iota of input, the actual decision about who will become president.

Care about consumer and employee protections (including the Supreme Court’s series of 5-4 opinions rewriting the Federal Arbitration Act in favor of … well, not consumers and employees), and finance-industry regulations?  Really?  But you’re fine with the prospect of President Trump and all those someones he’ll appoint?  Because you only vote for someone—the candidate herself or himself.  You won’t vote against someone.  Or, apparently, all those someones the candidate will appoint once in the White House.

Clinton, her husband, and her campaign do seem finally, and ever so belatedly, to have gotten the message you’ve sent through the polls.  But she doesn’t seem to fully know what to do about it.  Yes, it’s great that she’s finally campaigning on the Party platform—and even doing so with Bernie!  And her most potent surrogate besides Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, is becoming active after (what I’m guessing) was a period of about seven weeks when Clinton and her campaign didn’t want these two prominently campaigning for her.  Suburban moderate women would have been thrilled about what platform planks these two would have highlighted.  But, y’know, all those name Establishment Republicans whose endorsements she was trying for (successfully, for the most part) might not have happened.

And since this election cycle is nothing if not one in which to highlight support of name Establishment folks, that seemed to Clinton, her husband and her campaign as the route to the White House.  Even if everyone else was stupefied by it.

Well, almost everyone else.  But Clinton, her husband and her campaign really, really do finally understand this (even if Paul Krugman does not and still thinks Clinton’s failure to campaign intensely, or at all, on the Party platform for six weeks, and to not herself respond immediately and very publicly to the late-August Clinton Foundation pay-to-play meme).  Sort of, anyway; Clinton still won’t tell the public about the Mercers or the oil-and-gas billionaires who will in effect be making these appointments—nor, apparently, even wants Sanders and Warren to do so.

But this week there does seem to be real progress. Or at least it had seemed that way.  But today there is this, from Greg Sargent:

Clinton may have erred in calling “half” of Trump’s supporters “deplorables,” but there’s little question she wants this broader national argument. Of course, in some ways, Trump might also want this debate. He obviously sees expressing outrage about Clinton’s “deplorables” and “implicit bias” comments as a way to juice up his base by playing to white grievance.

But Trump also needs to improve his appeal among college educated whites, who are already convinced that Trump is either personally biased against minorities or is running a campaign designed to appeal to bigotry, which could be one reason his unfavorable numbers remain so high among those voters. And in this context, it’s worth appreciating that there’s a basic political imbalance underlying this debate: It energizes the base for both candidates, but it arguably could limit the broader appeal of only one of them.

As Democratic strategists have pointed out, by fully confronting Trump’s bigotry, and by talking about systemic racism as a continuing societal problem, Clinton may be able to engage core Dem voter groups in ways that tip the composition of the electorate in her direction on election day. It is always possible that engaging this debate might alienate some swing voters. But it seems more likely at this point that a continuing national focus on Trump’s racism could further alienate from him those college educated whites that Clinton hopes to win among, which would make her the first Democrat in over half a century to pull that off.

Either way, Clinton appears fully committed to this debate at this point, and most signs are that Democrats broadly see this orientation of the party as a short-term and long-term positive. So she probably won’t stop taking about it anytime soon.

Presumably this is because there are a few people hiding in caves with not even radio transmission who don’t know that this has been debated intensely for the last 16 months.  Or who want to hear still more debate about it. Maybe that’s the ticket.  Then again, maybe not.

It’s the court and agency appointments, stupid.*

Got that?  It’s the court and agency appointments, stupid.**

But … whatever.  As always, it’s only the Republicans who understand and campaign on this.  Or at least who campaign on this–even if they’re not the only candidates who understand this.

Progressives of all generations are tired of this.  Really.  We are.  Although by and large, it’s only millennials who plan to play with matches.

 

____

NOTE: *That line is intended as a takeoff on the (I guess no longer) famous line that Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign manager, James Carville, posted to his office wall to remind himself of what to focus on above all else during the campaign: “It’s the economy, stupid.”

The “stupid” being a reference to … himself. As in: Remember, James, you idiot. It’s the economy that should be the main focus of the candidate’s campaign, not the side stuff (like culture wars issues). That campaign was during a recession.

After reading the first comment in the Comments thread I realized that I needed to explain that rather than presume that this would be understood, as it would have been, say, even a decade ago. Oh, dear.

Added 9/29 at 5:07 p.m.

**I just added this link to the Wikipedia article about “It’s the economy, stupid.”

Lordy.

Added 9/29 at 5:27 p.m.

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Oh, God. Why does Clinton refuse to run on the Democratic Party platform? And against pro-Citizens United justices?

The Clinton campaign today made a key concession about its analysis of the fundamentals of the race. This concession was made almost in passing, as an afterthought, in a statement released late last night by Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri:

“One upside to Hillary Clinton’s break from the trail was having time to sharpen the final argument she will present to voters in these closing weeks.  So when she rejoins the trail tomorrow, Hillary Clinton will deliver the second in a series of speeches laying out her aspirational vision for the country: that we are “Stronger Together.” Tomorrow’s remarks will focus on what has been at the core of who Hillary Clinton is as a person and the mission of her campaign — how we lift up our children and families and make sure that every child has the chance to live up to their God given potential.

“Our campaign readily admits that running against a candidate as controversial as Donald Trump means it is harder to be heard on what you aspire for the country’s future and it is incumbent on us to work harder to make sure voters hear that vision.”  [Boldface in original.]

Hillary Clinton’s campaign just admitted she has a real problem, Greg Sargent, yesterday morning

 

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Kellyanne Conway Says Trump Lied About Not Having High Cholesterol, High Blood Pressure, and Chronic Gastroenterological Disorder

AND THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN IS VERY GOOD AT DECEIVING PEOPLE: Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway has this to say on CNN about whether Trump will release his health records:

“As far as I can see, there are two major party candidates running for president and only one of them has pneumonia and lied about it….He won’t be releasing the fact that he had pneumonia for two days and lied about it.”

It’s true that Clinton was too slow to release her pneumonia diagnosis, but that is not tantamount to “lying” about it, and once again, that letter that Trump’s doctor wrote in five minutes was nothing more than a bad joke.

— Greg Sargent, The Washington Post, this morning

Well, now we know why Trump is refusing to release his medical records: He doesn’t want his campaign manager to have to acknowledge that he lied about his specific health problems.  Including the gastroenterological one that his longtime doctor, Harold Bornstein, M.D., a gastroenterologist—he of letter-writing fame—has been treating him for.

Seriously, folks.  Kellyanne Conway is consistenntly ridiculous.  She thinks she’s just so very clever at misdirection.  And the media seems to agree.

But they’re wrong.  Let’s have a show of hands here; how many of you are deceived by Conway’s statement into thinking that a failure to announce a transitory illness—walking pneumonia, in this instance—means she told the public that she doesn’t have pneumonia?

Clinton said her cough was caused by allergies, before she knew it was caused by pneumonia.

A hallmark of Conway’s modus operandi is responding in a quick sentence to an inerviewer’s specific question about Trump and, without pausing, segue clumsily into some statement about Clinton or Obama or Obamacare or the like that she claims is what the news media really should be concerned about.

Trump himself is the antithesis of transparent, but his campaign manager is the very essence of it.

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Trump apologizes for being too truthful in his statements about Mexicans, Muslims, the Khan family and … me [with update!]

CHARLOTTE — Donald Trump on Thursday expressed regret over causing “personal pain” through ill-chosen words he has used “in the heat of debate,” an unexpected and uncharacteristic declaration of remorse for a candidate whose public persona is defined by his combative and bombastic style.

Speaking during his first campaign rally since rebooting his campaign, the Republican presidential nominee sought to frame himself as a truth-telling candidate who occasionally crosses boundaries in that pursuit. He also sought to contrast himself with his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, whom he accused of dishonesty and pandering.

“Sometimes in the heat of debate, and speaking on a multitude of issues, you don’t choose the right words or you say the wrong thing. I have done that,” Trump said, with a slight smile, during a campaign rally here.

“And believe it or not, I regret it. I do regret it, particularly where it may have caused personal pain. Too much is at stake for us to be consumed with these issues,” he said. “But one thing; I can promise you this: I will always tell you the truth.”

The speech marked a sharp departure for Trump, who has avoided apologizing or expressing regret in more than a year of campaigning, after a seemingly endless stream of feuds and controversies.

Trump, speaking after campaign shake-up, expresses regret over causing ‘personal pain’, Jose A. DelReal, Robert Costa and Jenna Johnson, Washington Post, today

Okay, so Trump said he told the truth when he said, for example, that Mexicans streaming across the border are rapists, murders and other types of criminals.  (None of them routinely commit white-collar crimes such as bank fraud, commercial fraud and tax fraud, but we’ll put that aside here.  Trump hasn’t accused them of that, although he knows firsthand how this could be accomplished, but ….)

And he said he told the truth when he said Muslims are coming into this country by the thousands as agents of ISIS or in order at least to commit terrorist attacks in sympathy with ISIS.

Among other such truths he has revealed.

But now he apologizes for being too truthful about these things.  He says he regrets having offended so many voters by being too truthful.

Much of the news media (those Post reporters excepted, obviously, but many others) is playing this as … an apology.  And as big news, since after all Trump said he was apologizing for … something. He regrets … some things he said.

Which I can understand.  If someone—Trump, say—said about me, “Beverly is really ugly, ignorant, stupid and dishonest, and I don’t know how she managed to avoid indictment for that bank robbery she committed a few years ago,” and then said he regretted offending me by being too honest, I would interpret that a heartfelt apology and as a retraction.

Proving the truth of the “ignorant” and “stupid” allegations.  And maybe even the “ugly” one, too.

____

UPDATE: OMG! Trump’s new campaign manager says it’s presidential of Trump to reinforce his offensive fabrications of fact:

WHICH REMARKS DOES TRUMP REGRET? On ABC News, Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway tried to explain it:

“He was talking about anyone who feels offended by anything he said,” Conway elaborated today. “He took extra time yesterday going over that speech with a pen so that was a decision he made. Those are his words.”…

“Conway did not clarify whether Trump would apologize for specific comments or whether he would personally apology to the parents of Capt. Khan. ‘He may. But I certainly hope they heard him,’ she said. ‘I hope America heard him because of all the people, David, who have been saying, hey, let’s get Trump to pivot, let’s get him to be more presidential. That is presidential.’”

Never mind the specifics. If the Trump campaign says he’s pivoting and acting presidential, it must be true.

Trump’s ugly and dishonest new TV ad shows he isn’t changing a thing, Greg Sargent, Washington Post, this morning

Actually, no, this isn’t a pivot.  It’s reiterating the false claims—saying they’re true but that it was, well, impolitic of him to have told those truths.

Added 8/19 at 1:04 p.m.

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What Bill and Hillary Clinton Don’t Get: That the way to win Rust Belt white blue-collar voters isn’t to go centrist; it’s to go economic populist.

The changes to the platform testify to the strength of the Sanders campaign, and, like that campaign, they are a sign that the dynamism within the party arises right now from its left­wing faction, led by politicians like Mr. Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

What is less clear is if Mrs. Clinton is aiming to dispel that momentum with some gestures, including a few planks in a platform, or if she intends to actually lead the Democrats in the direction demanded by Mr. Sanders — a direction that would mean a radical redefinition of what was once understood to be Clintonism.

Hillary Clinton’s New Democrats, the NYT editorial board, yesterday

One thing that puzzles me is the anger among so many pundits that the Sanders supporters who still protest and won’t vote for Clinton are doing so because Sanders didn’t get everything he wanted in the platform.  These pundits are offended that there remain such vocal holdouts notwithstanding the extensive concessions to Sanders that were made.

But as I mentioned earlier this week and as the NYT editorial board understands, for (I believe) most Sanders supporters—those who, like me, will vote for Clinton, and those who will not—the critical issue is whether she intends to renege on her current support of those platform concessions, in the remainder of the campaign and then, if elected, as president.

One line late in Bill Clinton’s speech concerned me.  I don’t remember the precise phrasing, but it suggested that voters should vote for Hillary Clinton because her policy proposals are affordable and possible to get through Congress.  The line, in borrowing Hillary Clinton’s selling point on her policies over Sanders’ throughout the primary campaign except suddenly just before the California primary, struck me as a dog whistle to, I guess, moderate Republicans that it’s the proposals she campaigned on, not the ones in the platform, that she plans to offer and push.

Washington Post columnist and blogger Dana Milbank, a Clinton supporter all the way and one who throughout the summer, fall and early winter trashed Sanders’ proposals as utterly unrealistic, surprised me by writing (I guess) Monday afternoon, in a lengthy post titled “Clinton leaves Democrats’ liberal wing high and dry”:

That the Sanders supporters were frustrated is understandable. Clinton and the Democratic Party have given the progressive wing of the party short shrift in favor of an appeal to the political center. …

Clinton, after securing Sanders’s endorsement, chose as her running mate Virginian Tim Kaine, who has a centrist reputation and has been a free-trader.

Then there was the leak of DNC emails, which proved what Sanders had long alleged: The party was working to help Clinton defeat him. Democratic National Committee Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was ousted after the email revelations, but Clinton promptly named her an “honorary chair” of her campaign.

From a strategic perspective, this is probably a mistake. Clinton’s playing down of the progressives in Philadelphia comes from a belief that she can do better among the non-college-educated whites who have been the core of Trump’s support. But her deficit among non-college-educated white voters, about 30 points, isn’t much worse than President Obama and John Kerry did. Rather than making overtures to the shrinking ranks of blue-collar white voters (just over 30 percent of the electorate, down from half in the 1980s) who aren’t likely to be persuaded, Clinton could have used her vice-presidential selection and her convention to boost enthusiasm among progressives.

I certainly agree with Milbank that this probably is a mistake, but for an additional reason as well as the numeric one he cites.  The substantial number of white blue-collar workers in the upper Midwest and northeast who support Trump not because of his Build the Wall and bar-Muslims promises but instead for the strictly economic-populist reasons that Trump uses as bait.  Some of these voters voted for Sanders in the primaries and caucuses.

Hillary Clinton should remember that taxes and net wages aren’t the only thing that matters to people’s bottom line—her repeated claims to the contrary during the primary season in challenging Sanders’s proposals notwithstanding.  Suffice it to say that healthcare deductibles and co-payments and healthcare insurance premiums, whether deducted from wages or salary or paid independently, are for many, many millions of people not affordable. If she does not understand that, she truly is out-of-touch.  Same for college affordability.  Etc.

The Clintons reflexively reach for centrism as their crutch.  Always.  But they appear unaware that the very definition of centrism has changed within the last year and a half.  As someone who views their electoral success as a personal existential necessity, I wish Clinton would consider this.

Meanwhile, Greg Sargent reports this morning that during an interview of Trump this morning Bill O’Reilly said there “has to be” a federal minimum wage. And then Trump said this:

There doesn’t have to be. I would leave it and raise it somewhat. You need to help people. I know it’s not very Republican to say…I would say 10….But with the understanding that somebody like me is going to bring back jobs. I don’t want people to be in that $10 category for very long. But the thing is, Bill, let the states make the deal.”  (Italics Sargent’s.)

Sargent added:

So basically, Trump flip-flopped and then back-flipped, holding three different positions in succession. The real story here is that Trump has no actual position on the minimum wage. His whole candidacy is a scam.

To me it looks less like a flip-flop than that Trump actually doesn’t recognize that the two are mutually exclusive.  The states can’t legislate—Make the deal? With whom?—a lower minimum wage than the federal minimum wage, since it’s not a federal minimum wage if states don’t have to adhere to it.

So maybe all Clinton has to do in order to win white blue-collar votes in the Rust Belt is quote that quote there.  Most blue-collar voters in the Rust Belt know that a federal minimum wage is, y’know, a federal minimum wage.  And that states can’t make a deal on that.

Trust me on this; they know.

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ANTITRUSSSTTT! (Bernie Sanders did SO talk about antitrust during his campaign. A LOT. But thank you, Elizabeth Warren, for picking up that mantle now.)

A detailed update follows the original post.

____

Is the window closing on Bernie Sanders’s moment? A number of folks, your humble blogger included, have suggested as much. We’ve argued that with Democrats seeming to unite behind Hillary Clinton, it’s possible that the longer Sanders withholds his endorsement for her in the quest to make the party platform more progressive, the less leverage he’ll end up having.

But a new battleground state poll from Dem pollster Stan Greenberg’s Democracy Corps suggests Sanders’ endorsement could, in fact, still have a real impact, meaning he may still have some genuine leverage to try to win more concessions designed to continue pushing the party’s agenda in a more progressive direction.

A Sanders endorsement of Clinton could still make a big difference, Greg Sargent, The Plum Line, Washington Post, yesterday at 3:24 p.m.

____

Paul Glastris reports that a speech Elizabeth Warren gave that was virtually ignored by the news media could provide a template for an argument about the economy that changes the course of the presidential election. — gs

— Greg Sargent, The Plum Line, Washington Post, yesterday at 6:21 p.m.

Just about exactly a year ago—early last summer—as Clinton was picking up the pace of her campaign appearances and formulating her substantive arguments, she said something that the news media caught onto immediately as really strange.  In an attempt to woo aspiring and current small-business owners, she did her default thing: She adopted a Republican slogan and cliché, this one that government regulation and bureaucracy are the main impediments to starting and expanding small businesses, and are, well, just making the lives of small business owners miserable.

Federal regulations and bureaucracy, see.

It shouldn’t take longer to start a business in America than it does to start one in France, she said, correctly.  And it shouldn’t take longer for a small-business owner to fill out the business’s federal tax forms than it takes Fortune 500 corporations to do so.  Also, correctly.  And as president she will … something.

There were, the news media quickly noted, though, a few problems with this tack.  One was that regulations that apply varyingly to other than a few types of small businesses—those that sell firearms and ammunition, for example—small-business regulations are entirely state and local ones and are not of the sort that the federal government even could address.

Another was that Clinton was relying upon a survey report that provided average times to obtain business licenses in various cities around the world, for companies that would employ a certain number of employees within a numerical, midsize range (or some such), and that cited Paris as the only French cities; showed that the differences in the time it took on average to obtain a business license there and in several American cities was a matter of two or three days, and that only Los Angeles (if I remember correctly) among the American cities had a longer average time than did Paris; and that the all the cities listed had an average of less than two weeks.

Some folks (including me, here at AB) also noted that the actual time it takes to open a small business depends mostly on the type of business, often the ease of obtaining a business loan, purchasing equipment such as that needed to open a restaurant, leasing space, obtaining insurance, and ensuring compliance with, say, local health department and fire ordinances.

And one folk (me, here at AB) pointed out that the relative times it takes to fill out a federal tax form for a business depends far more on whether your business retains Price Waterhouse Coopers to do that, or has in-house CPAs using the latest software for taxes and accounting, or relies upon the sole proprietor to perform that task.

But here’s what I also said: Far, far more important to the ease of starting a business and making a profit in it than regulatory bureaucracy—state and local, much less and federal ones—is overcoming monopolistic practices of, well, monopolies.*

I didn’t just mean Walmart and the like, I explained.  I also meant the monopolistic powers that aren’t obvious to the general public.  Such as wholesale suppliers and shippers.  And such as Visa and Mastercard, which impacts very substantially the profitability of small retailers and franchisers.

Which brought me then, and brings me again, to one of my favorite examples of how the Dems forfeit the political advantage on government regulation by never actually discussing government regulation, in this instance, what’s known as the Durbin Amendment.  It limits the amount that Visa and Mastercard—clearly critical players in commerce now—can charge businesses for processing their customers’ credit card and ATM card transactions.

Talk to any owner of a small retail business—a gas station franchise owner, an independent fast food business owner, an independent discount store, for example—about this issue, as I did back when the Durbin Amendment was being debated in Congress.  See what they say.

The Durbin Amendment was one of the (very) precious few legislative restrictions on monopolies, on anticompetitive business practices, to manage to become law despite intense lobbying of the finance industry or whatever monopolistic industry would be hurt by its enactment.  To my knowledge, though, it was never mentioned in congressional races in 2010 or 2014, or in the presidential or congressional races in 2012. Antitrust issues have been considered too complicated for discussion among the populace.

Which presumably is why the news media never focused on the fact that Bernie Sanders discussed it regularly in his campaign.  And that it resonated with millennials.

And also presumably, it’s why the news media ignored Elizabeth Warren’s speech on Wednesday entirely about the decisive, dramatic effects of the federal government’s aggressive reversal over the last four decades of antirust regulation and the concerted failures of one after another White House administration (including the current one) to enforce the regulation that remains.

Here’s what Glastris wrote in preface to his republishing of the full Warren speech:

Yesterday, straight off her high-profile campaign appearance Monday with Hillary Clinton, Sen. Elizabeth Warren gave a keynote address about industry consolidation in the American economy at a conference at the Capitol put on by New America’s Open Markets program. Though the speech has so far gotten only a modicum of attention—the press being more interested in litigating Donald Trump’s Pocahontas taunts—it has the potential to change the course of the presidential contest. Her speech begins at minute 56:45 in the video below.

Warren is, of course, famous for her attacks on too-big-to-fail banks. But in her address yesterday, entitled “Reigniting Competition in the American Economy,” she extended her critique to the entire economy, noting that, as a result of three decades of weakened federal antitrust regulation, virtually every industrial sector today—from airlines to telecom to agriculture to retail to social media—is under the control of a handful of oligopolistic corporations. This widespread consolidation is “hiding in plain sight all across the American economy,” she said, and “threatens our markets, threatens our economy, and threatens our democracy.”

As our readers know, economic consolidation is a subject the Washington Monthly has long been obsessed with—see hereherehereherehereherehereherehere, and here. In our current cover story, Barry Lynn (impresario of yesterday’s event) and Phil Longman argue that antitrust was the true legacy of the original American Populists and a vital, under-appreciated reason for the mass prosperity of mid-20th Century America. But this legacy, and the new Gilded Age economy that has resulted from its abandonment, is not a narrative most Americans have been told (one reason why even the “populist” candidates running president have shied away from it).

What amazed me yesterday was how Warren synthesized the main points of virtually everything we’ve published into a single speech that, while long and wonky, was Bill Clintonesque in its vernacular exposition. You can imagine average Americans all over the country listening, nodding, understanding.

Though many in the press didn’t notice the speech, you can best believe Hillary Clinton’s campaign operatives were paying attention (Trump’s too, I’ll bet). That’s why I think the speech has the possibility of changing the course of the campaign. The candidate who can successfully incorporate the consolidation message into their campaign rhetoric will an huge, perhaps decisive advantage. Hillary has already signaled, in an op-ed she published last fall, that she gets the larger argument. Yesterday, Elizabeth Warren showed her how to run on it. You can read the full prepared text below.

I’m thrilled.  Except for that parenthetical that says “even the “populist” candidates running president have shied away from it, which is inaccurate regarding Bernie Sanders. The link is to an article by Glastris in the November/December 2015 edition of Washington Monthly titled “America’s Forgotten Formula for Economic Equality,” which regarding Sanders concludes based upon an answer to a question by Anderson Cooper at a then-recent televised debate in which Sanders asked the question about how he expected to win the presidency as a democratic socialist failed to mention the issue of antitrust, that Sanders did not campaign on the issue of the demise of antitrust law and enforcement.

But as it happens, I knew that was incorrect.  One of my fondest memories of the Sanders campaign dates back to a detailed first-person report by a journalist covering the Sanders campaign in Iowa last summer, who attended a rally not as journalist but instead from the cheap seats in the midst of the attendees.  I can’t remember the journalist or the publication, and was unable to find it just now in a search.  But I remember this: He sat next to a young woman, blond, cheerleadery-looking, who whenever Sanders said a word or phrase referencing one of his favorite topics, would stand up, thrust her arm up in a punch-the-air motion, and shout the word or phrase.  Cheerleader-like, the reporter said.

One of the words?  Antitrust.  Or, as the young woman said it, “ANTITRUSSSTTT!”

In searching for that article, which as I said I couldn’t find, I did find a slew of references by Sanders to antitrust—the economic and political power of unchecked and ever-growing monopolies—in reports about his rallies.  One, about a rally in Iowa, for example, quoted Sanders as saying that Agribusiness monopoly has reduced the prices human farmers receive for their products well below their market value in a competitive economy.

Other statements made clear the critical reason that Sanders has so focused on the call to break up the big banks: their huge economic and political power.  Including the resultant demise of community banks of the sort that made America great when America was great—for obtaining small-business loans and mortgages, anyway.

So here’s my point: If you click on the link to that Democracy Corps poll, you’ll see what so many people whose heads are buried in the sands of the pre-2015 political era (including the ones who constantly trash me in the comments threads to my posts like my last one) don’t recognize.  All that the Democrats need do in order to win a White House and down-ballot landslide is to campaign on genuinely progressive issues, and genuinely explain them.

Which is why Warren is so valuable to the Dems up and down the ballot.  And why Sanders is, too.

Warren endorsed Clinton last week, and on Tuesday campaigned with her in a speech introducing her, singing her praises, and trashing Donald Trump.  Headline-making stuff.  But not the stuff that will matter most.  When she goes on the road and repeats her Wednesday speech, not her Tuesday one, and then asks that people vote Democratic for the White House on down, it will matter far more.

And that is true also for Sanders. But I don’t expect many politicos over the age of 40 to recognize that.

Glastris’s piece yesterday in titled “Elizabeth Warren’s Consolidation speech Could Change the Election.” Yes.  Exactly. Consolidation.  As in, monopolies. And monopolistic economic practices and political power.

Antitrusssttt!

Surprisingly, apparently in response to the release of the Democracy Corp poll yesterday, hours after suggesting that Clinton was about to begin campaigning as a triangulator because Sanders was refusing to endorse her, and anyway that’s what some Clinton partisans have been urging, someone in the Clinton campaign rescinded that, indirectly.  Presumably, it was someone under the age of 40.

Or someone who reads Angry Bear.  Probably someone who’s under 40 and reads Angry Bear.

Rah-rah! Sis-boom-bah!

*Sentence edited slightly for clarity. 7/2 at 10:43 a.m.

____

UPDATE: Greg Sargent is reporting now:

The latest draft of the Democratic Party platform, which is set to be released as early as this afternoon, will show that Bernie Sanders won far more victories on his signature issues than has been previously thought, according to details provided by a senior Sanders adviser.

The latest version of the platform, which was signed off on recently by a committee made up of representatives for the Sanders and Clinton campaigns and the DNC, has been generally summarized by the DNC and characterized in news reports. Sanders has hailed some of the compromises reached in it, but he has vowed to continue to fight for more of what he wants when the current draft goes to a larger Democratic convention platform committee in Orlando coming weeks, and when it goes to the floor of the convention in Philadelphia in late July.

But the actual language of the latest draft has not yet been released, and it will be released as early as today. It will show a number of new provisions on Wall Street reform, infrastructure spending, and job creation that go beyond the victories that Sanders has already talked about. They suggest Sanders did far better out of this process thus far than has been previously thought. Many of these new provisions are things that Sanders has been fighting for for years.

We already know from the DNC’s public description of the latest draft of the platform that it includes things such as a general commitment to the idea of a $15-per-hour minimum wage; to expanding Social Security; to making universal health care available as a right through expanding Medicare or a public option; and to breaking up too-big-to-fail institutions.

Warren Gunnels, the chief policy adviser to the Sanders campaign, is Sargent’s source.  Gunnels listed six additions to the platform draft:

1) Eliminating conflict of interest at the Federal Reserve by making sure that executives at financial institutions cannot serve on the board of regional Federal Reserve banks or handpick their members.

2) Banning golden parachutes for taking government jobs and cracking down on the revolving door between Wall Street and Washington.

3) Prohibiting Wall Street from picking and choosing which credit agency will rate their product.

4) Empowering the Postal Service to offer basic banking services, which makes such services available to more people throughout the country, including low-income people who lack access to checking accounts.

5) Ending the loophole that allows large profitable corporations to defer taxes on income stashed in offshore tax havens to avoid paying less taxes.

6) Using the revenue from ending that deferral loophole to rebuild infrastructure and create jobs.

Okay, folks.  While being credited to Sanders, this far more likely is a blunt-force impact of Warren, since every one of these points concerns Warren’s particular area of interest: financial industry regulation.

But there are, I believe, clear Sanders hallmarks in there, too: particularly item 4, empowering the Postal Service to offer basic banking services, which makes such services available to more people throughout the country, including low-income people who lack access to checking accounts.

In other words, Warren is the intermediary between the Clinton and Sanders campaigns.  And in exchange for her unbridled campaigning for and with Clinton has combined her own top priorities—precise legislative ones that Warren has the deep expertise to demand and to draft, e.g., items 1 and 3—with one very specific one of Sanders and with more generic ones of his as well, e.g., items 2 and 5.

This will be an unbeatable platform and team.  During the campaign, and in the four years that follow.

Game on.

Update added 7/1 at 3:34 p.m

 

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Why are so many pundits conflating U.S. blue-collar voters’ concerns that are similar to their British counterparts’ who voted for Brexit with the separate issue of whether the Brexit vote itself will influence U.S. blue-collar voters’ votes in November? These are completely different issues.

Some of our wisest political observers informed us that Brexit would be great news for Donald Trump, because it shows (somehow) that there may be more support here than expected for his nationalist message of restoring American greatness through restrictionist immigration policies and turning the clock back on globalization.

So it’s a bit surprising to see that a new Bloomberg/Morning Consult poll shows that Brexit will not influence the votes of a majority of Americans, and if anything, may benefit Hillary Clinton marginally more than Trump:

“A majority of U.S. voters — 57 percent — say they don’t expect the U.K. verdict will influence their vote in the presidential election. For the roughly quarter who say it will, almost half say it will make them more likely to support Democrat Hillary Clinton, while 35 percent say Republican Donald Trump.”

This is only one poll, so don’t place too much stock in it, but I wanted to highlight it to make a broader point: There is simply no reason to assume that the debate over globalization, which Trump joined with abig speech on trade yesterday, will automatically play in the Donald’s favor. Indeed, Trump is running a massive scam on American workers on many fronts, and the contrast between his positions and those of Hillary Clinton on trade and other economic matters may prove more important in the end than his blustery rhetoric.

Neil Irwin has a good piece this morning on Trump’s big trade speech, in which he pledged to rip up our trade deals with his  large and powerful hands and to bring manufacturing roaring back. As Irwin notes, Trump is right to highlight the very real possibility that trade deals have badly harmed American workers, and that elites have in many respects let those workers down. (Bernie Sanders, too, isrightly calling on Democrats to fully reckon with this phenomenon.) But as Irwin also notes, Trump is selling American workers a highly simplistic, anachronistic tale that doesn’t level with them about the likelihood of reversing trends in globalization and automation

Morning Plum, Greg Sargent, Washington Post, today

I’m certainly no fan of NYT columnist Thomas Friedman—he of “Go for the Grand Bargain, President Obama!” and “Michael Bloomberg for President!” fame.  But his column today is, in my opinion, exactly right.

The first several paragraphs sum up what has become clear to everyone following the news on the Brexit-vote aftermath: that the leaders of the Brexit movement harbored no compunctions about selling it with lies and gross distortions because they didn’t expect their campaign to actually end in, well, Brexit.  And that now that that these dogs have caught the car, they have no idea what to do with it.  They have the car keys but don’t know how to drive the car.

This certainly is why, as Sargent points out, the Brexit vote itself has not helped Donald Trump and instead appears to be helping Clinton slightly.

But the remainder of Friedman’s column addresses the separate issue—and clearly, it is that—of the reasons why so many Britons and Americans and citizens of several other Western countries are susceptible to the type of simple-elixir manipulation that apparently many Britons now regret that they fell for.

Friedman writes:

Because although withdrawing from the E.U. is not the right answer for Britain, the fact that this argument won, albeit with lies, tells you that people are feeling deeply anxious about something. It’s the story of our time: the pace of change in technology, globalization and climate have started to outrun the ability of our political systems to build the social, educational, community, workplace and political innovations needed for some citizens to keep up.

We have globalized trade and manufacturing, and we have introduced robots and artificial intelligence systems, far faster than we have designed the social safety nets, trade surge protectors and educational advancement options that would allow people caught in this transition to have the time, space and tools to thrive. It’s left a lot of people dizzy and dislocated.

At the same time, we have opened borders deliberately — or experienced the influx of illegal migration from failing states at an unprecedented scale — and this too has left some people feeling culturally unanchored, that they are losing their “home” in the deepest sense of that word. The physical reality of immigration, particularly in Europe, has run ahead of not only the host countries’ ability to integrate people but also of the immigrants’ ability to integrate themselves — and both are necessary for social stability.

And these rapid changes are taking place when our politics has never been more gridlocked and unable to respond with just common sense — like governments borrowing money at near zero interest to invest in much­-needed infrastructure that creates jobs and enables us to better exploit these technologies. “Political power in the West has been failing its own test of legitimacy and accountability since 2008 — and in its desperation has chosen to erode it further by unforgivably abdicating responsibility through the use of a referendum on the E.U.,” said Nader Mousavizadeh, who co-­leads the London­-based global consulting firm Macro Advisory Partners.

But we need to understand that “the issue before us is ‘integration’ not ‘immigration,’” Mousavizadeh added. The lived experience in most cities in Europe today, is the fact that “a pluralistic, multiethnic society has grown up here, actually rather peacefully, and it has brought enormous benefits and prosperity. We need to change the focus of the problem — and the solution — from the physical reality of immigration to the political and economic challenge of integration.” Schools, hospitals and public institutions generally will not rise to the challenge of the 21st century “if social integration is failing.”

Which brings me to another current conflation by much of the punditry: that Bernie Sanders has squandered his clout by waiting to endorse Clinton until after the party platform is completed, by which time most of his supporters already will be planning to vote for her, swayed partly by Trump’s simple awfulness and partly by Elizabeth Warren, who has started campaigning with Clinton.

That analysis misses two key points.  First, Sanders’s supporters who are not so thoroughly horrified at the thought of a Trump presidency that they have not yet decided to vote for Clinton care a great deal about the policies they will have some reason to believe will be enacted, or, conversely, blocked, by a Democratic White House teaming with a clearly ascendant and finally-high-profile progressive wing of what hopefully will be a Democratic-controlled Congress.

Second—and a point I’ve made repeatedly in my posts here at AB—there are two types of Trump voters or potential ones, and only one of these will matter to the outcome of the election.  Suffice it to say that the Build the Wall and Ban Muslims voters in the South and Southwest are not the ones who will matter.

The ones who will are Democrats in the Rust Belt who support much of Sanders’s proposed platform and are now considering voting for Trump.  And whose vote could turn on such things as discussions about what political consultants wouldn’t dream of advising their clients to discuss, but that Sanders did discuss during his campaign: hostile labor union policy, including NLRB member appointees; antitrust enforcement; banking regulations that reign in the political power of the financial services industry generally and the mega-banks in particular; the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau—what it is and does.

Free tuition at public colleges and universities.  Guaranteed access to healthcare.  Guaranteed medical and family leave, for the cost of $1.50 a week in, yes, taxes.  Increased Social Security benefits, in recognition of the demise of defined-benefit pensions.

As so many pundits note, and as Sanders himself says, the Sanders campaign has achieved a great deal in the general outlines of the party platform.  The process has been like pulling teeth, but still ….

But one of the Clinton campaign’s super PACs, I read a day or two ago, is about to flood the internet with ads reminding people that Trump is a misogynist—because apparently there are three or four voters who, although they already know this, will decide against voting for Trump after they’re reminded of it yet again.

And the Clinton campaign itself, I also read, has ads running on TV in some swing states apprising voters that in the ‘70s and ‘80s Clinton pushed some policies that helped children in Washington, DC and in Arkansas, and that as First Lady in the ‘90s she devised and helped push through the CHIPS healthcare insurance plan—not a trivial thing, by any stretch, but also not relevant to voters’ current concerns about this candidate and about the likelihood of major change of the sort so many people who badly want major change want.

Those who continue to cite Clinton’s popular-vote margin over Sanders in support of resistance to this overlook the critical fact that it was, until late in the primary seasons of both parties, broadly believed gospel that an economic populist could not win the general election—and that that, not some broad antipathy toward populist economic policy proposals, tells the tale of that popular-vote differential.  It is, for example, unlikely that a majority of African American and Hispanic voters oppose free public university and college tuition.  And universal, Medicare-like healthcare coverage.  And a $15/hr. minimum wage.  And guaranteed medical and family leave in exchange for a $1.50 weekly tax.  And the reduction of the size and economic and political power of the largest financial institutions.

Polls have not been taken on this, to my knowledge.  That’s too bad.  But in any event, Rust Belt voters considering voting for Trump despite rather than because of his personality and offensiveness would not be among those interviewed in a poll limited to Clinton primary voters.

The real hope for the Clinton campaign lies not just in showing Trump for what he is, not just regarding his temperament, breadth of ignorance, and breathtaking grifterism, and not just the Build the Wall and Ban Muslims policies that everyone already knows about, but also in apprising the pubic of his actual proposed fiscal policies.  And Paul Ryan’s.  And also every bit as much in Clinton’s appearing comfortable with the fact that her campaign’s car was caught by the Sanders dog.

And in seeming fine with allowing that dog’s tail to wag her campaign, to a very large extent.

The fallout from Brexit is already being recognized by U.S. voters as a warning about gullibility and a belief that any dramatic change is better than no or little change.  Turns out that some of the positive changes Britons were promised already have been withdrawn, and the changes that cannot be withdrawn aren’t particularly promising ones.  But as Friedman’s column makes clear, the status quo in the remaining EU is untenable, too, and the EU leaders now recognize that.  So there is a silver lining after all to the Brexit vote.  It’s just not one that helps Britain.  But in addition to helping the remaining EU members, it could help the Clinton campaign.

____

UPDATE: OH. WOW.

Finally, the Clinton campaign is being forced, by Trump’s speech yesterday on trade, to actually educate the public about Trump’s actual fiscal and regulatory policies.  Well, more accurately, it is Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute, the source Trump cited more than a dozen times in that speech, who is doing that.  In spades.

Painful though it may be for the Clinton campaign to see someone who has the attention of the news media apprise the public that Trump’s fiscal and regulatory policies are long those of the Republican Party elite and Republican elected officials at every level of government—the very mission of which has been to crush ordinary workers, duly accomplished—it looks like it will have to suffer this indignity.

Which is better than having to do this themselves.  Anything is better than having to do that themselves.  For some reason.

Added 6/29 at 4:49 p.m.

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I doubt that Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee.

I’m not sure whether this is a serious post or not.

How likely is it that Donald Trump, if elected, would serve more than a few months of his term?  How likely is it that he will even continue as the nominee much beyond the convention?, Me, Angry Bear, Jun. 3

That sentence is how I ended that post.  A few days later I read, on Politico, I think, that conservative Republican donors (yes, that’s redundant, but that’s what the article said) are trying to persuade the RNC to pass an emergency rule change at the opening of the convention to release the delegates from their primary commitment on the first ballot.  (The article said this group was leaning toward favoring Scott Walker as the nominee, to which I said to myself, “Please do.  That’ll put the Rust Belt states in your corner!”)

But last night, after I posted this post arguing that the Dems and progressive pundits should not conflate media coverage of and about Trump himself, which obviously is extensive, and media coverage of Republican congressional policy proposals, which is almost nonexistent and which Ryan says Trump has assured him that he will help implement, I read this piece by the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank.  It’s titled “Trump exploits Orlando’s tragedy to smear Muslims and Obama.” Posted at 6:35 p.m. it ran through all of Trump’s many statements yesterday, and one by Trump surrogate Roger Stone.

As I read that, I realized that Trump likely won’t be the nominee.

I recalled reading a news report late last week that I had expected to gain significant traction.  Titled “Florida AG sought donation before nixing Trump University fraud case,” by CNN’s Tom LoBianco, Drew Griffin and Scott Zamost, it is stunning even by current standards: The Florida AG, Pam Bondi, announced in 2014 that she was considering having Florida join litigation by several states alleging fraud by Trump U.  There had been many complaints to Bondi’s office by former victims.  A few days later, Bondi, who was running for reelection, solicited a $25,000 campaign donation from Trump, who obliged.  A few days after the check was received, Bondi announced her decision against having Florida join he lawsuit, claiming insufficient evidence.

My first thought was that Trump wouldn’t be calling Clinton “Crooked Hillary” much longer.  My second thought was that Trump will be indicted after a plea deal with Bondi.

The article was posted at 9:31 p.m. on Friday.  Perfect timing for Sunday’s papers.  Then there was the Orlando horror, barely more than 24 hours later.  And Trump’s appalling reaction, on Sunday and throughout the day yesterday, and I guess into today.

And mainstream Republicans’ reactions to Trump’s, which Greg Sargent recounts.

Politico’s Jake Sherman reports today that Trump will meet with House Republicans on July 7:

“Since Mr. Trump became the presumptive nominee, members have asked for us to organize an opportunity for our conference to spend time with him before the convention,” an aide to McMorris Rodgers said. “The chairwoman announced to members at the morning’s conference that on July 7th they will have the chance to meet with Mr. Trump; share their policy priorities, learn about his plans to unite the party; and get details about his plans to move America forward. This was the first date that worked with everyone’s schedules for a special conference. Details of exact time and location will be forthcoming.”

I’m interested in what they tell Trump are their policy priorities.  And what happens 11 days later, when their convention begins.

____

UPDATE: Greg Sargent writes:

After President Obama ripped Donald Trump today for betraying American values and further endangering the country with his ban on Muslims and all around hatemongering, Trump responded in a brief statement to the Associated Press:

“President Obama claims to know our enemy, and yet he continues to prioritize our enemy over our allies, and for that matter, the American people.

“When I am President, it will always be America First.”

He titles his post “Republicans discover nominating world’s most famous birther might not be a great idea.”  Perfect.

I meant to say in my original post, but for forgot to, that I think the Republicans will say that their primary motive in refusing as a party to nominate Trump is based not on ideology but on Trump’s clear mental instability, which poses am existential threat to this country.  For some of them, that will be their motive.  For others it will be ideology.

I think they’ll point out that Trump did not win a majority of that primary and caucus popular vote, and they’ll say that since the effective end of the primary season more than a month ago Trump’s mental instability has become obvious enough that some voters who voted for him probably would not do so now.

I do suspect–possibly naively, I recognize–that for many party elites, concerns primarily about ideology and even the likelihood of devastating electoral losses are starting to seem like unaffordable luxuries.

Added 6/14 at 5:16 p.m.

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