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

Paul Krugman: The cruelty of a Trump Christmas Medicaid, Work Reqmts, and Food Stamps Edition

This sets the tone in Michigan as the richest Republican controlled County of Livingston continues its attack on women along with the State of Michigan House and Senate using a petition to pass a veto-proof law limiting abortion without putting it forward on a ballot initiative. A tyranny of a minority imposing its will upon others.

“By Trump-era standards, Ebenezer Scrooge was a nice guy.

It’s common, especially around this time of year, to describe conservative politicians who cut off aid to the poor as Scrooges; I’ve done it myself. But if you think about it, this is deeply unfair to Scrooge.

For while Dickens portrays Scrooge as a miser, he’s notably lacking in malice. True, he’s heartless until visited by various ghosts. But his heartlessness consists merely of unwillingness to help those in need. He’s never shown taking pleasure in others’ suffering, or spending money to make the lives of the poor worse.

These are things you can’t say about the modern American right. In fact, many conservative politicians only pretend to be Scrooges, when they’re actually much worse–not mere misers, but actively cruel. This was true long before Donald Trump moved into the White House. What’s new about the Trump era is that the cruelty is more open, not just on Trump’s part, but throughout his party.

The conventional wisdom about today’s Republicans is that they are Scrooge-like. The story is that they want to serve the interests of the rich (which is true), and that the reason they want to slash aid to the poor is to free up money for plutocrat-friendly tax cuts.

But is that really why the right is so determined to cut programs like food stamps and unemployment benefits?

(more by Krugman)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hey, Midwestern and Rust Belt Blue-Collar Voters: How’s THIS Workin’ Out for Ya So Far?

UPDATE: LOL.

____

President-­elect Donald J. Trump, who campaigned against the corrupt power of special interests, is filling his transition team with some of the very sort of people who he has complained have too much clout in Washington: corporate consultants and lobbyists.

Jeffrey Eisenach, a consultant who has worked for years on behalf of Verizon and other telecommunications clients, is the head of the team that is helping to pick staff members at the Federal Communications Commission.

Michael Catanzaro, a lobbyist whose clients include Devon Energy and Encana Oil and Gas, holds the “energy independence” portfolio.

Michael Torrey, a lobbyist who runs a firm that has earned millions of dollars helping food industry players such as the American Beverage Association and the dairy giant Dean Foods, is helping set up the new team at the Department of Agriculture.

Trump Campaigned Against Lobbyists, but Now They’re on His Transition Team, Eric Lipton, New York Times, today

What?  No steelworker?  No auto-plant worker?  Not even a family farmer?  Might y’all have been had?

Who’d a thunk?

Bernie and Elizabeth to the rescue.  Now, pleaseNow.

But, hey, white blue collar folks: You get what you vote for.  The problem for me is that I get what you vote for.  I said roughly 540 times here at AB in the last year: Trump isn’t conquering the Republican Party; he’s the Republican Party’s Trojan Horse.  What was that y’all were saying about wanting change so badly?  Here it is.

Welcome  to the concept of industry regulatory capture. Perfected to a science, and jaw-droppingly brazen.  LOL. Funny, but Bernie talked about this.  Some of you listened.  Then.  Elizabeth Warren has talked about it, a lot. Some of you listened.  Back then.  But she wasn’t running for president.  Hillary Clinton was, instead.  And she couldn’t talk about it because she had needed all those speaking fees, all the way up to about a minute before she announced her candidacy.

Aaaaand, here come the judges.  And of course the justices.  Industry regulatory capture of the judicial-branch variety.

I called this one right, in the title of this post yesterday.  I mean, why even wait until the body is buried?  No reason at all.

So he thinks.  But what if he’s wrong?

Anyway … can’t wait for the political cartoons showing Trump on Ryan’s lap, with Ryan’s arm showing reaching up under Trump’s suit jacket.

Edgar Ryan and Charlie Trump.

Oh, and I do want to add this: If one more liberal pundit or feminism writer publishes something claiming that Clinton lost because of all those sexist men out there who couldn’t handle the idea of a woman president, or claims she ran a remarkable campaign cuz of all that tenacity and stamina she showed in the face of what was thrown at her from wherever, see, or makes both claims (if not necessarily in the same columns or blog posts or tweeter comments), and I read so much as the title of it, I’m gonna … something.

It’s effing asinine.  Everyone’s entitled to their little personal delusions, but why the obsessiveness about this patent silliness?  What exactly is the emotional hold that Hillary Clinton holds on these people? It’s climate-change-denial-like.

Elizabeth Warren would have beaten Donald Trump in a landslide.  So would have Bernie Sanders.  And brought in a Democratic-controlled Senate and House.  Because either of them would have run a remarkable campaign, under normal standards, not standards with a special low bar.

That’s the efffing truth.

 

____

UPDATE:  From a new blog post by Paul Waldman titled “If you voted for Trump because he’s ‘anti-establishment,’ guess what: You got conned“:

An organizational chart of Trump’s transition team shows it to be crawling with corporate lobbyists, representing such clients as Altria, Visa, Coca-Cola, General Electric, Verizon, HSBC, Pfizer, Dow Chemical, and Duke Energy. And K Street is positively salivating over all the new opportunities they’ll have to deliver goodies to their clients in the Trump era. Who could possibly have predicted such a thing?

The answer is, anyone who was paying attention. Look at the people Trump is considering for his cabinet, and you won’t find any outside-the-box thinkers burning to work for the little guy. It’s a collection of Republican politicians and corporate plutocrats — not much different from who you’d find in any Republican administration.

And from reader EMichael in the Comments thread to this post about 35 minutes ago:

OH, it will be worse than that, much worse.

Bank regulation will go back to the “glory days” of the housing bubble, and Warren’s CFPB will be toast.

Buddy of mine works HR for a large bank. He has been flooded with resumes from current employees of the CFPB the last couple of days.

Yup.  HSBC ain’t in that list for nothing.  But, not to worry.  Trump’s kids will pick up lots of real estate on the (real) cheap, after the crash.  Their dad will give them all the tips, from experience.

And the breaking news this afternoon is that Pence–uh-ha; this Mike Pence–has replaced Christie as transition team head.  Wanna bet that Comey told Trump today that Christie is likely to be indicted in Bridgegate?

Next up, although down the road a few months: rumors that a grand jury has been convened to try to learn how, exactly, Giuliani got all that info from inside the FBI two weeks ago.  Once the FBI inspector general completes his investigation.  Or once New York’s attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, begins looking into violations of NY state criminal law.

How downright sick.  And how pathetic.

Update added 11/11 at 3:19 p.m. 

Krugman expresses his hope … and mine

Paul Krugman Verified account‏@paulkrugman

My hope is that soon I can start writing, finally, about what a sensible person in the WH should do, and have anyone myself incl care 4/

Amen.

There are a few legal-issues posts I hope to post soon–one in particular.  (Although actually I have been posting on legal issues in the last 10 days, haven’t I?)

Several thoughts about Paul Krugman’s NYT column today – UPDATED regarding the Fourth Amendment issue, and (separately) the suddenly real possibility that Putin had the emails planted on Weiner’s laptop

Paul Krugman’s column today titled “Working the Refs,” which I linked to this morning in this post, is absolutely wonderful for its account of the breadth of what amounts to largely successful attempts at movement-rightwing takeover of so very much of American public life—journalism reportage and editing methodology, political punditry, decisonmaking by college and university academic hiring committees, self-styled-centrist fiscal policy organizations. (There is also the courts, but that’s really a separate matter.)

But there are two points I want to make about statements in his column.  One concerns the nature of Comey’s misconduct, which Krugman describes as violating “longstanding rules about commenting on politically sensitive investigations close to an election; and [doing] so despite being warned by other officials that he was doing something terribly wrong.”

That is only part of it, albeit the most immediately harmful part.  But pundits, and the public, should understand that it is a profound misuse of government investigatory and prosecutorial powers to release to the public raw information obtained through compulsory, and secret, investigatory information gathering—information gained through search warrants, grand jury testimony, etc.—and that this is so not only for politically sensitive investigations.

Comey’s deliberate decision, his acknowledged motive, to affect voters’ decisonmaking in an imminent election strikes me as criminal misconduct, as does the release of raw investigatory information irrespective of its political intent.  But these are two distinct issues, of equal importance.

Then again, as I said here yesterday, by Comey’s definition of cover-up, he is engaging in it, as Harry Reid noted in the letter he released yesterday.

I also want to point readers to Orin Kerr’s Washington Post blog post from yesterday titled “Was it legal for the FBI to expand the Weiner email search to target Hillary Clinton’s emails?”  Kerr blogs at the Washington Post’s The Volokh Conspiracy blog, whose contributors all are former law clerks to Republican-appointed justices, and current law professors.  All are center-right libertarians. Kerr, perhaps the least right of them is a law professor at George Washington University and a former law clerk for Anthony Kennedy. 

Kerr’s post begins:

FBI Director James B. Comey recently announced that the FBI had discovered new emails that might be relevant to the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email server. The emails were discovered in an unrelated case, and the FBI now plans to search through the emails as part of the Clinton server investigation.

Comey’s announcement raises an important legal question: Does expanding the FBI’s investigation from the unrelated case to the Clinton case violate the Fourth Amendment?

We don’t know all the facts yet, so it’s somewhat hard to say. But here’s why the expansion of the investigation might be constitutionally problematic. Consider this a tentative analysis unless and until more facts emerge.

He goes on to raise two Fourth Amendment concerns, one which he says, and I agree, seems sort of weak, the other which he says is a significant concern, his take on which is the same as mine in the comments thread to this post.

The FBI obtained a search warrant late yesterday, so the judge who granted it thought the Fourth Amendment wasn’t a bar to it.  But it should be noted that Comey issued his announcement before a search warrant was obtained and in the face of a potential Fourth Amendment issue that might have prevented the FBI from obtaining one.

The other point concerns Krugman’s awesome recitation, yet again, of how deficit mania grabbed a stranglehold on elite policymakers and so-called public intellectuals for so very, very long—and how devastating it has been throughout the last decade.  What he doesn’t mention—appropriately, I think, in that column, whose point is much larger, but inappropriately in any discussion by him (there have been many) of Hillary Clinton and her candidacy in the two or three weeks since a stolen WikiLinks document—this one, a transcript of a paid speech by her to (I think) Morgan Stanley in 2013—in which she says she supports the really awful Bowles-Simpson proposal that Krugman has deconstructed so often since it was announced years ago.

I do get his reluctance during this campaign to address that.  And Clinton clearly has reversed her views on virtually everything in that proposal, a change on her part that I believe is genuine.  But what angers me about Krugman’s consistent refusal to acknowledge this and other significant changes in Clinton’s policy positions, prompted to a significant extent initially by Bernie Sanders’ campaign—not least the healthcare insurance “public option” proposal”, which Clinton should campaign on at rallies—is Krugman’s borderline-vile attacks on Sanders during the primary season.

Clinton’s win in this election will be based on the sheer awfulness of Donald Trump and on the policy proposals Clinton adopted last summer because of the strength of Bernie’s campaign.  All that matters now is a Clinton victory and Democratic control of the Senate and large gains in the House.  And I plead with Bernie, with Elizabeth Warren, with Michelle and Barack Obama, to campaign maniacally for these candidates in the now-waning days of this campaign.

___

UPDATE:  About an hour ago, Politico posted a lengthy discussion of the Fourth Amendment issue, by Josh Gerstein, Politico’s legal-issues correspondent.

Gerstein’s article also discusses the fact that Abedin says she does not know how what appears now to be a huge trove of emails of Abedins came to be on Weiner’s personal computer–an issue I discussed here yesterday in a post suggesting the possibility that NYC FBI agents planted it on Weiner’s computer after they gained custody of it.

But Gerstein’s article notes this: that Abedin had an email account on Clinton’s server.  Is it a reach to now suspect that Putin planted those emails on Weiner’s computer and planned somehow to make public just before the election that State Dept. emails are on Weiner’s computer hard drive?  As I mentioned in the Comments thread yesterday on my earlier post, in response to a joke by a reader’s comment, I’d considered that possibility by rejected it as implausible.

It’s now not at all implausible.  And it makes it imperative that, as Harry Reid demanded in his public letter to Comey yesterday, the Justice Department release the information it and other national security agencies have indicating direct coordination between Trump, or people on behalf of Trump, and Putin.

Adedin and Clinton and the Democratic National Committee should file an emergency court petition requesting a court order requiring release of that information.  I absolutely mean that.

And as I suggested in my earlier post, they should petition a court to allow private computer forensics experts, along with FBI forensics experts from an office far from NYC and Washington, DC. to examine the computer in order to determine when and how those emails came to be on it.

I absolutely mean that, too.

And please remember: Trump kept saying that Abedin was a State Dept. security risk because Weiner would have access to her emails.  He’s now saying he called it correctly.  The court petition should note this.

____

PS: Since I’m more or less the legal-issues guru on this blog, I want to point readers to Jennifer Rubin’s blog post on this, with which I agree in every respect.

And since I’m also one of the political-issues gurus here, I want to recommend two perfect political cartoons, one by Tom Toles, the other by Ann Telnaes.

Added 10/31 at 4:08 p.m.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But it will penetrate now, almost certainly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jeeps Made w/American Steel by Union Workers in Toledo

CLEVELAND — Hillary Clinton entered the final phase of her campaign on Friday, working to ensure a victory that is decisive enough to earn a mandate for her presidency and a surge of voters to help Democrats win congressional races.

Emerging from a nine­-day absence from the trail, Mrs. Clinton seized on the momentum of her performance in the final presidential debate, choosing Ohio — a battleground state where she has struggled the most against Donald J. Trump — as her first stop on a four­-day swing. With new polls showing Mrs. Clinton closing in on Mr. Trump in the state, her campaign is glimpsing the opportunity for a clean sweep of traditional swing states.

Reminding voters of Mr. Trump’s refusal in Wednesday’s debate to say definitively he would accept the outcome on Election Day, Mrs. Clinton said that as secretary of state she had visited countries whose leaders jailed political opponents and invalidated elections they did not win. “We know in our country the difference between leadership and dictatorship,” she said.

She also portrayed herself as a the candidate who could attract independent, undecided and even Republican voters unhappy with Mr. Trump’s campaign. “I want to say something to people who may be reconsidering their support of my opponent,” she said. “I know you still may have questions for me, I respect that. I want to answer them. I want to earn your vote.”

Her stop here marked the start of a rare multiday tour of swing states as the Clinton campaign revved up its efforts to decisively defeat Mr. Trump on Nov. 8, including releasing a powerful minute­-long ad featuring Khizr Khan, the father of a Muslim American soldier killed in Iraq. The ad featuring Mr. Khan, who was attacked by Mr. Trump after he spoke at the Democratic convention, will run in Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, as well as other crucial states.

Hillary Clinton Makes Pitch for Mandate and a Swing-­State Sweep, Trip Gabriel and Ashley Parker, New York Times, today

She knows some voters still may have questions for me, and she respects that and wants to answer them, and earn her listeners’ vote?  Does she think those questions are whether or not she would accept the outcome on Election Day if she lost?  And about whether as president she’d trash families of fallen U.S. Armed Services members who are Muslim, and attempt to categorically keep Muslims from immigrating here?

Who does she think that reminding voters of Trump’s actions and words of those sorts, including ones that has dominated the news and internet since last Wednesday night, is concerned about whether Clinton would do these things?

Clinton obviously thinks that these things are the only things that moderates and mainstream Republicans would support her about.  That’s what’s been at the heart of her campaign from its inception to, apparently, this very minute.  And it’s why she’ll win only because of who her opponent is, and why Dem Senate candidates are struggling so hard.

Paul Krugman keeps pushing the line that Clinton actually  is a terrific candidate, and by golly she’d be way ahead against Rubio or another mainstream Republican, partly because those candidates’ policy agendas and base-baiting lines are mostly pretty similar to Trump’s.  He’s right about mainstream Republican candidates’ policy agendas and, certainly, about the meaning of the Rubio bot.  But he probably still would be very much in the running to beat Clinton—who herself is trapped in a bot.

Meanwhile, yesterday, there was this little news story:

Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown and a staffer were in a car crash in the senator’s home state on Thursday, but have been released after receiving treatment for minor injuries at a Cleveland area hospital.

The Columbus Dispatch reports that Brown and the staffer were driving from Columbus to Brown’s home in Cleveland when they were hit by another car around 4 p.m.

Brown, a Democrat, thanked hospital staff and the makers of his Jeep Cherokee in a statement to the newspaper. “[M]y Jeep Cherokee, made with American steel by union workers in Toledo, made all the difference in allowing us to walk away from this crash, a little stiff, but unharmed,” he said.

Brown reaffirmed his thanks in a Twitter post on Friday: “Thx for care & concern. Doing fine. Grateful to Parma police, medical staff & my Jeep made w/American steel by union workers in Toledo,” he wrote.

The Dispatch also reports that “Brown’s rescue dog Franklin, strapped in with a harness, was uninjured.”

Sherrod Brown treated for minor injuries after car crash, Madeline Conway, Politico

I don’t doubt that the ad featuring Mr. Khan is powerful.  But I do doubt that it will sway many wavering Rust Belters, because they already know Mr. Khan’s message.

Had the Clinton stranglehold on the Democratic Party apparatus (certainly including donors) not elbowed out the very thought of any progressive other than Bernie Sanders—who ran only because no other progressive would—Sherrod Brown I think would have.  And would be about to witness a largely-progressive Democratic wave not seen since Franklin Roosevelt’s death.

Instead, Democrats may not even retake the Senate.

Even Franklin probably knows that things such as NLRB appointments would be good to mention in Ohio.  Maybe he can tell Clinton.  Since her campaign gurus apparently haven’t.

 

____

ADDENDUM:  Gail Collins’s NYT column today, titled “Don’t Take Donald Trump to Dinner,” is mostly about Trump’s jarring use of the annual Catholic Charities dinner in NYC a few days ago as just another forum for his usual ugly comments about Clinton.  But Collins also said this:

In a perfect world, Hillary Clinton would then have gotten up and given the most good-­natured speech in political history, scrapping all the barbed lines in her prepared script, like the one about how a Trump White House would be awkward for gatherings of the ex­-presidents (“How is Barack going to get past the Muslim ban?”). But she didn’t change a word, because Clinton is not a spontaneous politician.

If this were a normal election, we could have a very interesting discussion about how programmed she can be, and whether that would be a problem if she’s elected. But as things stand, unless we discover she’s actually an android, there’s just no point.

I wouldn’t have expected Clinton to spontaneously scrap her prepared speech and give an entirely off-the-cuff one, and at least that joke that Collins quoted was funny and pointed at Trump’s and the alt-right’s actual words and positions.

But this is a person who genuinely seems unable to take a breath on her own, and who apparently delegated to campaign consultants and advisors her campaign’s very raison d’être.  G.W. Bush did the same.  But that was unusual.  And it was a very different political era, although Clinton and her circle hadn’t noticed this until Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump forced them to belatedly, and even then not really.  Or at least not fully.  Even yet.

We have no choice now but to look forward, not backward.  But anyone who thinks that had either one run, Elizabeth Warren or Sherrod Brown would not be about to usher in a genuinely progressive era, is willfully blind.  That is precisely because a Warren or a Brown campaign’s raison d’être would be Warren’s or Brown’s own raison d’être as politicians to begin with, argued eloquently and passionately, and contrasted to their Republican opponent’s and the Republican Party’s—in their own words, their own sentences, their own paragraphs.

Added 10/22 at 4:40 p.m.

Really disappointed that Clinton last night didn’t mention Trump’s single-year businesses losses of $916 million and his habitual stiffing of employees and contractors, and didn’t directly protest Wallace’s absurd the-stimulus-led-to-the-slow-growth assertion

After the first debate, there was some criticism of Clinton that she came off as “too prepared”—a semantic contrast to Trump’s lack of preparation—and then criticism of the criticism: How can someone be too prepared for something?

The answer to that question is that what was really meant by “too prepared” was “too programmed.”

That was true again last night to some extent, in my opinion, particularly when she didn’t respond to Trump’s bragging about his business prowess that Trump’s businesses lost $916 million in a single year and that he habitually stiffs employees and contractors.  Instead she just mentioned that Trump started his business with a yuge loan from his multimillionaire father—an important point, but one that should have been joined to a comment noting that he lost $916 million in a single year and that he habitually stiffs employees and contractors.

That’s a point Clinton has made many times, including at each of the two earlier debates, when, granted, it mattered more.  But the points are key to so much deconstructing Trump’s claim to business genius and also as critical evidence of his sociopathology.  I hope she places this at the center of ads and rally comments going forward.

Clinton also failed to explicitly correct a glaring and really significant misstatement of fact by Chris Wallace, when he said that the low level of economic growth was caused byled to—the 2009 Obama stimulus program.  That was a preposterous falsehood, and I wondered whether any pundit would actually catch that and make an issue of it.

Thankfully, one did.  Thank you, Professor Krugman.  And I bet (and hope) you discuss it fully in your column tomorrow.

Look, I fully recognize that Clinton is at this point emotionally exhausted—really drained—as is Trump.  It was evident on both of their faces almost from beginning to end last night.  And on balance, she did fine, I thought.

But her very best moment last night came in a spontaneous comment, when she retorted, “Well, that’s because he [Putin] wants a puppet.”  Obviously, it’s important to come to a debate armed with specific points to get across.  But that should not preclude responding extemporaneously to statements by your opponent or by the moderator.

Still, ….

Paul Krugman Gets Berned. Er, Burned.

In a speech to a Morgan Stanley group on April 18, 2013, WikiHillary praised the Simpson­Bowles deficit reduction plan, which included reforming the tax code to increase investment and entrepreneurship and raising certain taxes and trimming some spending and entitlements to make them more sustainable.

The ultimate shape of that grand bargain could take many forms, she said, but Hillary stressed behind closed doors: “Simpson-­Bowles … put forth the right framework. Namely, we have to restrain spending, we have to have adequate revenues and we have to incentivize growth. It’s a three-­part formula.”

She is right. We’ll never get out of this economic rut, and protect future generations, unless the business and social sectors, Democrats and Republicans, all give and get something — and that’s exactly where WikiHillary was coming from.

WikiHillary for President, Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times, today

Eeewwwwwe.  I mean, um … yikes.

Friedman, of course, has spent the last decade or more obsessively pushing a “Grand Bargain.”  He says in today’s column that he wishes Clinton had campaigned on this.  In order to build an electoral mandate for it, see.

Seriously; he says this.

Paul Krugman, by contrast, has spent the eight years or so trashing deficit mania, and the last five years mocking Simpson-Bowles.  And Simpson and Bowles.  And their ilk.  Including Thomas Friedman.

Also in Friedman’s column today:

In an October 2013 speech for Goldman Sachs, Clinton seemed to suggest the need to review the regulations imposed on banks by the Dodd­Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which was passed in 2010. Her idea was not to get rid of all of the rules but rather to make sure they were not imposing needless burdens that limited lending to small businesses and start­ups.

As Clinton put it, “More thought has to be given to the process and transactions and regulations so that we don’t kill or maim what works, but we concentrate on the most effective way of moving forward with the brainpower and the financial power that exists here.” Again, exactly right.

Friedman thinks this, too, would have been a hit with the public if only Clinton had had the guts to campaign on it.

Krugman in his Twitter feed has been pushing the proposition that Clinton really, honestly, dammit, was the strongest possible Democratic nominee to beat Trump, cuz she so deftly baited him during the first debate into his weeklong meltdown about that former Miss Universe, and no other candidate would have thought to do that.  Then again, there are a few possible candidates whose victory would have been assured without that.  But, whatever. Candidates who speak like this, for example.*

And he responded to some pundits’ dismay at the tail-wagging-the-dog role that Clinton’s campaign consultants and friends—as Frank Bruni put it recently, the extensive array of Clinton whisperers—who crafted everything from minutia to the very raison d’être for her candidacy, by insisting that that’s what consultants do.  Making me wonder why we don’t just cut to the chase and cut out the puppet, and nominate a consultant instead.

None of this matters now, of course.  I’ll reiterate, yet again, that I believe that Clinton is a genuinely different candidate, politician, and in important respects, person now than she was until recently.  And I support her wholeheartedly now.  But even if she were who she was in 2013 I’d be supporting her, if grudgingly.

But the instant I read that Friedman column—particularly the part about Clinton telling Morgan Stanley she supports Simpson-Bowles—I thought of Krugman.  And wondered whether upon reading that, if he did, he was moving close enough to the bonfire to feel a tad Berned.

____

*The link, inadvertently omitted originally, is to an op-ed by Elizabeth Warren in yesterday’s Washington Post titled “Elizabeth Warren: Trump didn’t invent the ‘rigged election’ myth. Republicans did.” The second Friedman excerpt also was not indented here originally.  All is now corrected.  10/20 at 2:12 p.m.