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

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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Will Jeff Merkley or Sherrod Brown now decide to run for the 2016 presidential nomination?

So who won the 2014 midterm elections?

The easy answer is the Republican Party.

On election night, the party managed to seize control of the Senate by picking up at least seven seats previously held by Democrats, a goal that has eluded Republicans since 2006.

The GOP also captured at least 14 House races, expanding its already sizable majority to at least 243 seats — the most it’s claimed since Harry Truman was president.

While a dizzying 14 gubernatorial races were tossups heading into Nov. 4, almost all of them broke toward the GOP — meaning that Republican governors will still vastly outnumber Democratic governors on Inauguration Day.

And Americans are plainly disillusioned with President Barack Obama; according to the exit polls, a full 54 percent of voters disapprove of his performance as president, and 65 percent say the country is headed in the wrong direction.

There was good reason, in other words, for conservative journalist Philip Klein to crow on Twitter that “this is what a wave feels like” — because it is.

But here’s the thing: In politics, the easy answer isn’t always the only answer, and the winner of an election isn’t always the one who benefits most. Take a closer look at demography, geography and the road ahead for the parties, and it’s clear that the long-term winner of the 2014 midterms wasn’t the GOP at all. The long-term winner, in fact, wasn’t even on the ballot this year.

Her name is Hillary Clinton.

Of course the GOP is celebrating right now, as it should. Any election that ends up putting Republicans into the governors’ mansions in Illinois and Maryland is worth getting worked up about. But under the surface, almost everything about last night’s midterm results — and the map, the math and the legislative morass that lies ahead in the run-up to 2016 — suggests that the former first lady and secretary of state could have a better next two years than the party currently guzzling champagne.

Which is not to say that Clinton will be unbeatable (even if her path to the Democratic nomination got a little easier after Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, a likely rival, watched his hand-picked successor lose Tuesday night). Far from it. Clinton spent the last two months holding 45 campaign events in 18 hard-fought states, but almost all the big candidates she stumped for lost, from Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky to Bruce Braley in Iowa. Critics will say her campaign skills leave a lot to be desired, and she certainly won’t be heading into 2016 with many chits to cash in. But that doesn’t change one simple fact: Even Tuesday’s huge GOP victory shows that Republicans still have some catching up to do if they want to defeat her in 2016.

—  How Hillary Clinton won the 2014 midterms, Andrew Romano, Yahoo News, yesterday

Why, of course! Isn’t everything Democrat all about, always about, Hillary Clinton?  All Hillary Clinton, all the time?

Please stop.  PLEASE. STOP.

I read somewhere (I can’t remember where) this morning that Clinton is huddling today with some of the Clintons’ longtime political aides to analyze the election results and figure out how she should proceed.  Not whether she should proceed, but how.  And yesterday I read that she and her longtime aides are trying in light of the election results to figure out what her “messaging” should be.

Does anyone remember reading anything about Hillary Clinton and her impending campaign that doesn’t mention longtime aides, longtime associates, longtime supporters, longtime consultants?  Y’know, people in her “orbit”?  People who hope to profit directly from a Clinton campaign and then a Clinton presidency?  I sure don’t.

And, while—granted—the Yahoo News story I excerpt from above was published yesterday, the day after the election, rather than, say, today, two days after the election, it does show how thoroughly the political news and commentary media has precluded even from consideration that the Democratic Party recognizes Tuesday’s earthquake for what it is.  And what it is is a primal call for a Democratic presidential nominee who doesn’t have to search for and then settle on a message.  Someone who already had one of those.

One that is long steeped in what matters to voters and potential voters now: issues that can be addressed only by policies of populist economics.

The Democrats have won the culture-wars issues, everywhere except in Texas and the South, and it’s (past) time to accept their victory and move on from it.  They also have won the economic-policy issues.  It’s time for them to recognize that … and move on to it.  In depth.  In specifics.  In spades.

In other words, what they need—and soon—is a presidential candidate who really knows the specifics, the actual nitty-gritty, of these policies, because he or she has been deeply involved in and openly committed to them for a long time.

Last year, when it appeared likely that Obama planned to nominate Larry Summers to replace the retiring Ben Bernanke as Fed chairman—reportedly, Obama had offered it to Timothy Geithner, who declined; Timothy GeithnerSeriously!—three members of Senate Banking Committee told Obama that they would vote against Summers’ confirmation.  Those three members effectively nominated Janet Yellin, by forcing Obama’s hand.  Those three Banking Committee members were Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown, and Jeff Merkley.

I’ve noted several times here at AB my abiding hope that Brown would run for the nomination, whether or not Clinton runs.  I know that others here and there have voiced the same hope, and I don’t know whether he would be interested were it not that Clinton has the entire Democratic establishment cowed, and if so, he might reconsider in light of Tuesday’s message.  But I’d also wondered whether Merkley has toyed with the idea of running against Clinton, once he was past his reelection campaign.  He won comfortably on Tuesday, albeit against an awful, self-imploding Tea Party opponent, in a largely liberal state that votes entirely by mail.

So … here are highlights about his Senate record, from Wikipedia:

Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, citing Bernanke’s failure to “recognize or remedy the factors that paved the road to this dark and difficult recession.” As a member of the Senate Banking Committee, Merkley became a leading force in the effort to pass the Wall Street reform bill. Along with Michigan Senator Carl Levin, successfully added an amendment, usually called the Volcker Rule, to the Dodd–Frank Wall Street reform bill, which banned high-risk trading inside commercial banking and lending institutions. Merkley also championed an amendment that banned liar loans, a predatory mortgage practice that played a role in the housing bubble and subsequent financial collapse.

He was a founding signatory of a mid-February 2010 petition to use reconciliation to pass legislation providing for a government-run health insurance program in the Senate. Merkley also championed legislation that provides new mothers with a private space and flexible break times to pump breast milk once they return to work. Merkley’s breastfeeding amendment was included in the health care reform law and signed into law by President Obama in 2010.

In late February 2010, Merkley again made headlines when he unsuccessfully tried to persuade Republican colleague Jim Bunning of Kentucky to drop his objection to passing a 30-day extension of unemployment benefits for jobless Americans. Bunning replied, “Tough shit.” A spokesman for Merkley claimed that the Oregon senator did not hear Bunning’s remark at the time.

In late 2010, Merkley began circulating a proposal to his fellow Senate colleagues about the need to force Senators to filibuster in order to block legislation.  In 2011, Merkley introduced a bill to reform the filibuster and help end gridlock in the Senate. He was joined by Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico and Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa.

Brown would have the advantage in the general election of being from large swing-state Ohio, and I suspect at this point that John Kasich will be a strong contender for the Repub nomination, as might Rob Portman.  But if he won’t run, then maybe—hopefully—Merkley will.

And, yes, in light of Tuesday, it’s conceivable that Elizabeth Warren will change her mind and run Certainly she will be urged to, more intensely than she has been.  But I don’t think she will.

But the nascent Ready for Warren movement could be easily adapted to a Ready for Sherrod or a Ready for Jeff movement.  And there are, I’m certain, some large Dem donors who have had more than enough of “women’s issues” campaigns and don’t give a damn whether the Clintons will cut them out, should Hillary win the nomination and the election.

It’s time now, folks, for an end to the Hillary Clinton obsession and an end to the Clintons’ campaign-industrial complex.  Really.

Maybe the long-term winner, in fact, was on the ballot this year, after all.

His name is Jeff Merkley.

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Dear Greg Sargent: “Re your Morning Plum reference to Krugman’s column today”

Update appended below.

—-

After a two-and-a-half-month hiatus from regular blogging here—most of my few posts this summer related to my passion about animal rescue and animal welfare—I’m once again feeling like posting about politics, at least more regularly than I posted this summer. (And maybe soon I’ll once again feel like posting about legal issues, but I don’t yet, so y’all who’ve been waiting for that with bated breath, well ….)

I wanted a break from all-politics-and-law-all-the-time, and (mostly) took one.  My active reentry here at AB began with two posts within the last few days—one that I thought would get some attention, but did, not; the other that I thought would get little attention, but got more than a little.

After reading emailed Greg Sargent this afternoon an embarrassingly long… eeeek … rant about that post of mine that got little attention—and, while I was at it, about two of my current political obsessions: the silly Hillary Clinton presidential-nomination anointment, by the press and (unwittingly, I think, courtesy of the press) the Democratic Party; and the silly six-year failure of our current White House standard bearer to ever trouble himself to … y’know … like … engage in any refutation of misinformation by … y’know … stating facts, coherently and specifically—I jumped all-in (to use an “in” cliché that really annoys me, but fits here) today.

But since emails from no-names are treated, I’m sure, as emails from no-names, and because, well, I’m just really in the mood right now, I’ll share my rant with all you AB readers, should any of you actually be interested:

Greg, you write this morning in the Morning Plum:

“REPUBLICANS AND THE ‘LAZY JOBLESS’:  Paul Krugman’s column today marvels at the ways GOP lawmakers continue to suggest the unemployed are choosing their plight, even as benefits have been slashed and we’re treating them with “unprecedented harshness.” But why?”

The answer to your question is, of course, that most people have no idea that unemployment compensation benefits have been dramatically slashed and are, as Krugman highlights, far lower than they have been in relation to the level of involuntary short-term and long-term unemployment in many decades.

Just as most people have no idea about one after another after another other facts concerning public policy—in Florida, for example, there is a TV ad asking people to vote for Rick Scott against Charlie Crist because “Obamacare has raised healthcare costs” and is “taking money from your pocket,” or words to that effect.

And of course most people think government employment—federal, state, local—has increased during Obama’s presidency; of course, actually, it has decreased, dramatically.

And on and on.  Which has been the case throughout Obama’s presidency.  Neither of our two current Democratic national standard bearers, Obama and Hillary Clinton, would be caught dead actually educating the public about, y’know, actual facts; neither one will speak in anything other than banal generalities.  Clinton, who probably could actually educate the public about such things as facts, instead talks incessantly about how excited she is about her daughter’s pregnancy—because, y’know, we’re all so deeply interested in this–and makes childish jokes about her failure to declare an intention to run for the presidency, deigning to add a few banalities about such things as income inequality so that we all know that her heart is in the right place.

And because the punditry insists that Dem presidential candidates are fungible, Clinton’s home free.  Clinton, Warren, and male longtime progressives such as Sherrod Brown, who can’t run because, well, Hillary Clinton probably will run, are all the same; one’s as good as the other.  After all, didn’t Clinton say in some speech back in November 2007 that, yeah, maybe income inequality has become a problem? I mean, who needs any more evidence that she’s an economics progressive than that?!

Giving speeches is, of course, what Clinton does.  In November 2007 she had been a senator for nearly seven years.  During which she voted for a really bad bankruptcy bill, and did nothing at all, at least to my knowledge (or, I think, to anyone else’s), that could matter to, say, people who aren’t upscale women trying to break corporate-hierarchy glass ceilings and such.

I’m a contributor to the blog Angry Bear, and last Friday, after learning about Boehner’s comments from Krugman’s mention of it on his blog, I posted an item about it titled “John Boehner Says the Obama Economy Has Eliminated Involuntary Unemployment!  Seriously; that’s what he said. The Dems should use this in campaign ads.”  The title was not facetious; I pointed out that Boehner’s representation of fact necessarily presumes a thriving economy in which jobs are available for anyone who wants one; in other words, we really have full employment now.  My post gained no attention, best as I can tell, so I’d like to see someone whose blog posts do get attention make the point—because it is an important one. Isn’t it?  My post is [here].

Apologies for this lengthy rant.

Beverly Mann

As for Obama, coherency and specificity, which require actual explanation rather than sound-bite-speak, are just not his thing; I understand that.  By which I mean that I understand that that is so—and by which I don’t mean that I understand why it is so, although I suspect that the culprit is a stunning lack of mental agility coupled with an apparently overriding belief that he need not do anything by way of outreach, education and persuasion, that he doesn’t really feel like doing.

As for Clinton … well … speaking in specifics is not her thing, either.  It doesn’t pay well, and policy specifics would entail her actually learning specifics (better late than never, but, whatever) and maybe even proposing specifics of her own.  Okay, specifics that someone in her quarter-century “orbit” (the media’s euphemism for closed circle of decades-long Clinton operatives) learning specifics.  Sorta like what Warren and Sherrod Brown have done by themselves!

We’re all, of course, tremendously happy for Clinton and her husband that they’re about to become grandparents.  It’s just that we’re interested in other things, as well.  And just that other thing that she’s interested in: ridiculous, cutesy, will-she-or-won’t-she games.

I’m a progressive who cares about more than 1980s-and ‘90s-era women’s issues. (And not just because I’m aware that it is no longer the 1980s or ‘90s; some of those issues remain potent and important, but they are not the end-all-and-be-all of progressive economic concerns, some of which actually have to do with men as well as women.)  I don’t want any more generic, look-at-who-I-am-rather-than-what-I’ve-actually-done theater-of-the-ridiculous. Been there, done that. (Okay, I was never a big fan of Obama, but supported him against Clinton because I feared another triangulator president—one who would be hemmed in by her husband’s 1990s policy choices, no less. One who still is hemmed in by her husband’s 1990s policy choices.)

I’ll end this rant by asking this question: Why have the progressives who want so badly to see a Warren draft not trying to encourage, say, a Sherrod Brown draft?  Wrong gender? Really?? Warren’s popularity comes not from her gender but instead from her economic population and deep knowledge of, emersion in, and passion for actual specific policy issues.  Brown has that, too.  And he, unlike Warren, may simply be waiting for someone to ask him to run.

Take a look, progressives. I’m serious.  It’s time now to support an economic progressive who’s the real deal, not someone’s who really just a political celebrity.  My dream ticket is Brown and Jeff Merkley.  Both have been in the economic-progressive trenches for decades. Neither is the spouse of a former president, even a popular and still-popular one who actually knows how to make a point without using a denegrating, condescending manner to do it.

That said, if what Dems are looking for, and if Dem presidential candidates really are fungible, then how about Kim Kardashian?  Who knows?  She may even be a genuine economic progressive.

We economic progressives finally have the ear of a large segment of the population.  And we’re going to squander it by nominating for president someone who’s little more than just a professional political celebrity?  Why?  Seriously; why?

—-

UPDATE: Turns out that I’m a few days late to this party, at least as it’s host.  Molly Ball posted a piece on Sept. 19 on The Atlantic’s website titled “Does Hillary Clinton Have Anything to Say?” Ball reaches the same conclusion that I do: The anwer is, no.

But there are, as I noted above, national politicians in addition to Elizabeth Warren, who do.

I mean, look: Just because your husband was a popular president in the 1990s doesn’t mean that you get to be the Democractic presidential nominee yourself.  Your prsumption to the contrary notwithstanding.

Although Molly Ball, Bernie Sanders and I are, thus far, the only partiers. Want to join us?

Updated 9/22 at 4:10 p.m.

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