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

Okay, so how many of the 53 percent of voters who say they want a Republican Congress to thwart Clinton’s policy agenda have any idea what that policy agenda IS? Just wonderin’.

But those same polls [suggesting a Clinton lead] don’t suggest doom and gloom for down-ballot Republicans just yet. And in fact, there’s real reason for GOP optimism that Trump won’t ruin their year completely. …

For one, the so-called generic ballot — i.e., whether people prefer a generic Democrat for Congress or a generic Republican — still only favors Democrats by a small margin: 3 points in both the Post-ABC poll and NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll, among likely voters. That same Democratic edge on the generic ballot is actually down from 6 points in last week’s NBC-WSJ poll.

Put plainly, these generic ballots are unremarkable and don’t suggest a big Democratic wave ahead.

Part of the reason Trump’s woes might not have filtered downballot could be that a strong majority of people don’t really associate Republicans with their party’s presidential nominee. And many people also appear to dislike Clinton enough that they like the idea of a Congress that could keep her in check.

The Post-ABC poll includes a question about whether people think Trump represents the “core values” of the Republican Party, and a strong majority of likely voters say he doesn’t — 57 percent overall.

The number includes a whopping 62 percent of independents. Just 27 percent of them think Trump does represent the GOP.

And the NBC-WSJ poll might be even more encouraging for Republicans, because it suggests a path forward for them. The poll asked whether registered voters would be more likely to support a congressional Republican who would be a check and balance on Clinton and Democrats, and 53 percent said they would. Just 40 percent preferred a congressional Democrat who would help Clinton pass her agenda.

And now, some legitimately good news for Republicans, Aaron Blake, Washington Post, this morning

Of all the asinine comments by major political pundits about the presidential campaign during the last one and a half years, one that rates among the silliest is a recent claim by Paul Krugman on his Twitter feed pronouncing himself vindicated for his aggressive defense of Clinton as the only Democrat who could win the general election.

Why the claim of vindication?  Well, because no candidate other than Clinton would have had a campaign team deft enough to recognize that Trump could be baited into a meltdown during the first debate by reciting his awful treatment of 1990s-era Miss Universe Alicia Machado because she gained weight during her reign, a meltdown that spiraled for about a week afterward.  And that was what began the turning of the tide away from what appeared to be momentum for Trump and (apparently) triggered the release of the Access Hollywood Boys-on-the-Bus videotape.  See?

Because the only possible way that a Democratic nominee could defeat—at all, but especially soundly defeat—Donald J. Trump was that.  It couldn’t have happened instead based on, say, on a progressive platform pushed by Bernie Sanders in the primaries, or one that would have been advanced by Elizabeth Warren or Sherrod Brown, one or the other who likely would be the Dem nominee had she or he run. That is, on a progressive agenda that is broadly popular among the dominant swath of the public that wants significant change, and much of it among pretty much everyone else who isn’t in the basket of deplorables.

Or, hell, even a platform chosen by Joe Biden, who currently is far more progressive than he had been at any earlier time in his career, had he been the nominee.

That, of course, presumes—surely accurately—that each of these candidates would have run, and run aggressively and constantly, on their progressive platform.  A platform that argues for significant structural change in the power of mega corporations and the very wealthy vis-à-vis everyone whose interests are not the same as those of mega corporations and the very wealthy.

I chuckle every time Krugman or some other big pre-convention Clinton backer angrily notes that Clinton is running on the most progressive party platform ever. As if Clinton has actually campaigned on this, other than to mention it in passing when the last Trump outrage falls from constant view and his poll numbers begin to rise, or hers begin to drop because of some new email-related something-or-other.

I’ve thought countless times since the convention how lucky Clinton is to have a party platform to run on that was largely forced through by Sanders.  But that has presumed that eventually she actually would begin to run on it.  No.  I mean actually campaign on it.  It’s specifics.  Godot may arrive, but he hasn’t really yet.

But if he does, it should be in the form of asking this: What part of Clinton’s agenda is it, exactly, that all those voters want a Republican Congress to halt?  And what part of the Republican Congress’s agenda do those voters want Clinton to comprise on and agree to?

Ah.  It must be re-deregulation of the finance industry that they want.  And immense cuts in taxes for Donald Trump, his heirs, mega corporations, CEOs of mega-corporations, and the insurance that Citizens United will never be overturned, and that the Supreme Court and the lower federal courts will continue to be steady-as-she-goes unapologetic proxies for mega-corporate America; Clinton’s agenda includes some very specific legislation on campaign financing, some of proposals which I did not know of until I read yesterday’s NYT editorial listing them.

Or maybe it’s the stuff about handing federal lands and environmental and energy policy to the likes of the Koch brothers.  And control of the SEC by the Mercers and the Ricketts. The Kochs don’t support Trump, but they sure as hell fund the rest of the Republican Party.  And Harold Hamm, Forrest Lucas, the Mercers and the Ricketts fund Trump—bigly—as well as the Republican Congress.

For starters.  There’s also the healthcare-insurance public option.

Every one of those proposals by Clinton is supported by a majority of the public, some by wide margins.  And every one of the Republican Congress’s proposals are opposed by a majority of the public, most by very wide margins. Yet Clinton’s campaign focuses so little on this that, according to that poll, 53 percent said they want a Republican Congress, to keep Clinton from enacting these policies, and just 40 percent preferred a congressional Democrat who would help Clinton pass her agenda.

I’ve wondered—and wondered, and wondered—for many weeks now why Clinton continues to allow the misconception to persist that Trump’s general election campaign is not funded in part by billionaires and has no ties to the finance industry.  I actually had expected her to mention at one or another of the debates that Trump is funded extensively not only by two oil-and-gas billionaires, Hamm and Lucas, but even more so, apparently, by two finance-industry-titan families: the Mercers and the Ricketts.

When she didn’t, and didn’t mention the Mercers and the Ricketts even when campaigning in Toledo, Ohio, I presumed it was because she was concerned about angering some of her Wall Street donors.  But in light of the leaks of the transcripts of her paid Wall Street speeches, I think there was something more.  I think she knew or suspected that these had been hacked, and she didn’t want to provoke their release.

So now, to borrow from Trump, she’s been unshackled. She can detail to the public the reports that the Mercers in particular, but other billionaire donors as well, including the fossil fuel ones, are directly dictating policy proposals to Trump.

And that the Heritage Foundation—the far-right policy arm of none other than Congressional Republicans, the very ones whom the public wants to write laws, rather than seeing Clinton’s administration do so—in fact has written a fiscal and regulatory policy agenda for Trump that curiously mirrors the policy agenda of Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell.  Neither of whom is exactly popular.

In my opinion, there isn’t much in Clinton’s paid speeches—at least from the articles I’ve read about them—that are really a problem, other than that she said that Wall Street folks should help craft the laws to reign in Wall Street, since they know better than anyone else how Wall street works.  Well, not better than Warren.  And not better than some other law and business professors. And not better than former Wall Street folk who left in disgust.  But, okay; that was three years ago, in a paid speech.

What is seriously problematic, in my opinion, though, is the hacked email discussion about how to go about trying to persuade an angry, adamant Hillary Clinton that Bill Clinton should cancel his paid speech to Morgan Stanley scheduled for a few days after Hillary Clinton was scheduled to announce her candidacy.

The hero in that incident, as in several others, was campaign manager Robby Mook, who appears to be the only actual modern-era progressive in Clinton’s entire inner circle. He’s a millennial, but so are a (precious) few others.  But only Mook appears to be a circa 2016-style progressive.

Trump likes to say that if it weren’t for the conspiratorial news media, he would be beating Clinton by 15%.  But that misses, well, a few points, but this one in particular: that the news media and the Clinton campaign seem to have conspired to keep from the public the most critical fact of all.  Which is that Clinton’s progressive policy agenda is the agenda that a majority of the public wants.

And that the Republican Party’s, so much of it actually adopted by Trump, with a steroid cocktail thrown in, is precisely the opposite of what that very majority wants.

Krugman’s Times column today is largely about the striking similarities between Trump’s depiction of the current state of this country and Ryan’s warnings in a speech last week about this country’s future if Clinton wins.  But the similarities are more in style than in substance. Krugman writes:

But for what it’s worth, consider the portrait of America Mr. Ryan painted last week, in a speech to the College Republicans. For it was, in its own way, as out of touch with reality as the ranting of Donald Trump (whom Mr. Ryan never mentioned).

Now, to be fair, Mr. Ryan claimed to be describing the future — what will happen if Hillary Clinton wins — rather than the present. But Mrs. Clinton is essentially proposing a center-­left agenda, an extension of the policies President Obama was able to implement in his first two years, and it’s pretty clear that Mr. Ryan’s remarks were intended as a picture of what all such policies do.

According to him, it’s very grim. There will, he said, be “a gloom and grayness to things,” ruled by a “cold and unfeeling bureaucracy.” We will become a place “where passion — the very stuff of life itself — is extinguished.” And this is the kind of America Mrs. Clinton “will stop at nothing to have.”

So, DSCC and DCCC, why not take this ball and run with it?  Why not take that little clip and juxtapose it with parts of the Dem Party platform and pieces of Clinton’s proposals, such as those on campaign finance reform?  And follow that with a summary of, say, Ryan’s budget’s Greatest Hits?

Clinton, of course, could do this, too.  Robby Mook, can you try to persuade the candidate to start campaigning on this, now that the sexual assault and voyeurism admissions and allegations are becoming old news?

I said here after the second debate that I myself believe that Clinton is very much a changed person now in her support of genuinely progressive structural-power changes.  I still believe that.  But she already has my vote.

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“Why would you want to be associated with a party that’s so awful?”

This morning I overheard a part of a conversation between two 30-ish old high school friends, both from career-military families; their high school was on a military base.  One is a disabled Marine veteran, having lost his right leg below the knee, significant muscle in his left leg, a good part of the movement in his right hand (he’s right-handed), and enough of his colon to wear a colostomy bag, when he stepped on an explosive during deployment in Afghanistan, ending his plan to be career Marine.  During an earlier deployment in Iraq he watched as a friend of his was blown up by a suicide bomb in a car.

His friend was in the Navy for two years and then in a National Guard unit for several more.

Neither is a college graduate, although both of their wives are.  At least one, the Navy vet, is a comedy-talk-radio devotee, which I think means right-leaning.  Both of their families are decades-long Republicans.

Their conversation was about junk mail.  The Navy vet, one of my neighbors (I live in a college town, but one that has a good number of military vets and a major veterans’ hospital, which makes for a nice mix, in my opinion), made some off-hand comment about it, which I didn’t hear.  The disabled Marine vet responded, “Oh, yeah.  It’s all that campaign stuff.  I said to [I think he said, his mother, but I’m not sure], ‘Why would you want to be associated with a party that’s so awful?”  His friend said, “Yeah.”

What struck me was the indictment of the party, not merely of Trump.

I was so glad to read this morning about Obama’s speech last night in Ohio, in which he indicted the Republican Party itself for Trumpism—a change from the tack he took in his convention speech in July.  The purpose is to–finally–force Clinton to make a serious effort to swing control of the Senate and the House.

I also was struck by Paul Krugman’s column this morning, the purpose of which–notwithstanding its title, “The Clinton Agenda”—is to try to shift the discussion from the Clinton-Trump contest, whose outcome no longer is in doubt, but to which party controls Congress.  Because which party controls Congress will determine whether or not federal policy shifts to what a large majority of Americans want—especially on climate-change-related law, but also on so much else on which there is broad public consensus.

The WikiLeaks-released emails from John Podesta seem to be largely-irrelevant history.  They show the dismaying extent to which Clinton and her aides, other than Podesta, failed so completely, for so very long, to grasp the nature of this election cycle.  But they continue to matter unless Clinton finally does recognize that most of the policies that progressives so care about—foremost, I believe, the policies (a.k.a., law) that the Supreme Court and the lower federal courts and federal agency heads will determine—are supported by the moderates she so fears reminding that she’s a Democrat, and who may decide to vote Democratic for Senate and House precisely on that basis.

Obama talked yesterday only about the Trumpian awfulness of the Republican Party itself—a subject that certainly deserved a speech all its own.  But Clinton should pick up the fiscal and regulatory mantle from her biggest cheerleader pundit and campaign for a Democratic-controlled Congress.  He says she’s done enough on that, but then belies that in the rest of his column.

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Why does Krugman hold Clinton and her campaign harmless for . . .

the public’s cluelessness about Trump’s policy agenda vs. her own?

PHILADELPHIA — On Wednesday night, the Harvard Institute of Politics pulled together a focus group of eight millennial voters from the Philadelphia area, and a small group of journalists watched. One of the millennials supported the Green Party presidential candidacy of Jill Stein. The rest professed to be totally undecided — despondent about the election, offended that they were being asked to choose between major party candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Most of the participants asked for anonymity. A few, including the Green-voting 27-year-old Amanda, offered up their first names and allowed a few follow-up questions. The small sample of voters, in one swing state, was illustrative just as the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs and Researchpoll had been — and with the same tantalizing power for Democrats. Unlike some of the white working-class men who are breaking for Trump, the millennials were onboard with the Democrats’ 2016 agenda. But they were struggling to cast a vote. Among the lessons:

1. They agree with the Democrats on the issues. For the better part of an hour, the members of the group listed their most pressing policy concerns, from climate change to taxes to education to agriculture. When all the terms were written on a whiteboard, they were ask to list their top three, and for each, say which candidate they agreed with. Seven of the eight millennials ended up preferring Clinton on the issues; the eighth, as mentioned above, preferred Stein.

4. They’re counting on something — an assassin, impeachment — to prevent Trump from doing too much damage. Alex paralyzed the room with laughter when he floated a strange and “dark” idea. “If Trump wins,” he said, “he’s probably going to be assassinated, and Mike Pence will become president.”

Alex, a Democrat who had voted for Barack Obama in 2008, had stayed home in 2012 and cooled on most politicians. He had come to like Pence for his demeanor, as seen at Tuesday night’s debate. But the more important point was that a Trump presidency did not seem like a four- or eight-year proposition.

“He’s going to be in court most of the time as president,” said one focus group member who preferred to be anonymous. “He’s going to get impeached.”

5. They’re not necessarily thinking about all the powers a president would have. One of the questions that halted the group’s discussion was simple: How was the Supreme Court affecting their vote? Several members of the group admitted that they had not considered this; when they did, as in the issue round, they preferred that Clinton appoint members of the court.

— Five lessons about millennial voters from a Philadelphia focus group, David Weigel, Washington Post, yesterday

Meanwhile, today, Paul Krugman, Clinton’s penultimate cheerleader pundit, continues to pin on the political news media the entire blame for this epidemic of cluelessness about Trump’s and the Republican Establishment’s actual policy agenda. And for such things as the unawareness that Trump will be appointing Supreme Court justices, lower-federal-court judges, and federal-agency heads, and will be signing Paul Ryan’s fiscal and regulatory bills.

And that if Trump resigns, is impeached, or is assassinated, Mike Pence (the rightwing talk-show host cum Tea Party pol) will.

Krugman often beats the drum with praise for Clinton by reminding the public of such things as how poised and how much stamina she showed last fall during that 11-hour Benghazi House Committee hearing.  He can’t understand why that doesn’t suffice as reason to be fond of her, or at least to vote for her against Donald Trump.

He even more often rages in anger at the appalling, diametrically opposite manner in which the mainstream political media has covered both Clinton and Trump—and its god-awful-absurd, unremitting obsession with Clinton’s email for a full one-and-a-half years until finally it stopped late last month.

But never, ever, does he acknowledge that the profound lack of knowledge, particularly among millennials, about the differences between these two candidates’ agendas, and between their respective parties’ agendas, may be as much because Clinton herself has failed to apprise the public of this.  Some of it at all, some of it with actual specifics, the rest of it with anything resembling consistency.

To wit, Krugman’s column today, titled “What About the Planet?”  It begins:

Our two major political parties are at odds on many issues, but nowhere is the gap bigger or more consequential than on climate.

If Hillary Clinton wins, she will move forward with the Obama administration’s combination of domestic clean-­energy policies and international negotiation — a one­-two punch that offers some hope of reining in greenhouse gas emissions before climate change turns into climate catastrophe.

If Donald Trump wins, the paranoid style in climate politics — the belief that global warming is a hoax perpetrated by a vast international conspiracy of scientists — will become official doctrine, and catastrophe will become all but inevitable.

So why does the media seem so determined to ignore this issue? Why, in particular, does it almost seem as if there’s a rule against bringing it up in debates?

He goes on to castigate Kaine/Pence debate moderator Elaine Quijano for her general awfulness and, specifically, for this:

[I]t’s really stunning that in the three nationally televised forums we’ve had so far — the “commander in chief” forum involving Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump, the first presidential debate and the vice­-presidential debate — the moderators have asked not a single question about climate.

This was especially striking in Tuesday’s debate.

Somehow Elaine Quijano, the moderator, found time for not one but two questions inspired by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget — an organization concerned that despite relatively low budget deficits now and extremely low borrowing costs, the federal government may face fiscal problems a couple of decades down the line. There may be something to this, although not as much as deficit scolds claim (and Ms. Quijano managed to suggest that Mrs. Clinton’s proposals, which are fully paid for, are no better than Mr. Trump’s multitrillion-dollar debt blowout).

But if we’re worried about the longer­-term implications of current policies, the buildup of greenhouse gases is a much bigger deal than the accumulation of low-interest debt. It’s bizarre to talk about the latter but not the former.

And this blind spot matters a lot. Polling suggests that millennial voters, in particular, care a lot about environmental protection and renewable energy. But it also suggests that more than 40 percent of young voters believe that there is no difference between the candidates on these issues.

I watched that debate from beginning to end (although I’m sure I broke a record for times checking the clock during a 90-minute period).  And I couldn’t believe this moderator’s focus on the national debt.  Or, to be accurate, I couldn’t believe her loaded, circa-2011 questions about it and deep urgency in the tone of her voice.  Might a question specifically about what Trump’s massive tax cuts and massive military board-patrol buildup relative to the debt not have been, y’know, a good thing for her to ask?

But it also might have been a good thing for Kaine to ask.  And it might have been helpful if he’d responded to Pence’s false statement that the debt has increased massively since Obama assumed office with a truthful statement that in fact it has been significantly reduced, but he didn’t.  But Kaine had one, and only one, assignment in that debate, and it wasn’t to make either of those two points.  It was instead to force Pence to accept, reject, or deny the fact of Trump’s racist, xenophobic, misogynist, vulgar, etc., etc., pronouncements.

Mission accomplished.  Unless, of course, the mission was to educate the public about the Trump agenda that huge swaths of the public—including, apparently, most millennials—doesn’t know about.

Including all those court and agency-head appointments. And what that would mean.

I don’t expect that Clinton and her campaign strategists can be disabused of their foundational presumption that moderate suburbanites just love extreme tax cuts for the wealthy, further deregulation of the finance industry, global warming, and complete control of government at every level by a handful of billionaires and some mega-corporations.  Which is why she doesn’t campaign on these, and campaigns almost entirely on the racist, xenophobic, misogynist, etc., etc. stuff, in the belief that only that will sway or hold moderate suburbanites.

So I suppose it would make no difference if someone other than me—someone like, say, Krugman—pointed out that Clinton’s been an extreme enabler of the political news media’s de facto blackout on these dramatic policy-and-appointments agenda differences.  But it would be worth a try.

Although first the people I’m urging to do this would themselves have to be persuaded that Clinton’s poise and stamina during the Benghazi hearing did nothing to educate the public about those policy-and-appointments agenda differences.

I guess I won’t hold my breath.  Even though time is now so short that I probably wouldn’t even turn blue.

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Would this lengthy statement by Clinton about millennials, make millenials MORE, rather than LESS, likely to vote for her?

Here’s the article, by Yahoo News’ Michael Walsh, titled “#basementdwellers — The actual words and spin on Hillary Clinton’s remarks about Bernie Sanders supporters.”

Clinton should run the video clip on her campaign’s website.

And I say that as a virulent Bernie supporter who remains angry recalling some of Clinton’s public statements during the primary campaign—including some she made at debates with Bernie—and who laughs at Paul Krugman each time he claims that Clinton has run a decent campaign and has appeared appealing throughout her campaign, and (weirdly) that a good reason to vote for her is how poised she remained throughout that 11-hour Congressional Benghazi Committee hearing in defending herself when she had no choice but to be there and do so.

Whatever, Prof. Krugman.  You’re completely right about the outrageous mainstream-media obsession with Clinton’s emails, the appalling AP report in late August and other mainstream (e.g., the NYT’s) coverage of that, and the failure to give Trump’s business-related-and-pay-to–assure-the-friendship-of-a-state-AG scandals.  But, seriously, Clinton has run a really off-kilter, out-of-touch (literally as well as figuratively) campaign.  But it’s not at all too late to make up for lost time.

I’m most definitely absolutely completely and thoroughly with her now, as is Bernie.  And I wish she’d take my advice (including in this post, but, wayyy more important, in other recent ones) about how to nail this election down.

 

____

UPDATE: Hey!  Bernie’s back in the spotlight!  For HER!

Yayyyy.  (Luv ya, Bernie.)

Added 10/2 at 12:27 p.m.

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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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No, Mr. Trump, nothing made you smart. To illustrate: You think a VAT tax is a trade tariff.

Nick Confessore

Reporter

9:20 PM ET

Just to pull back for a second here, you can see a part of Clinton’s strategy. She is not campaigning against him as a crazy man. She is campaigning against him as a traditional and, in her argument, flawed conservative Republican.

First Clinton and Trump Debate: Analysis, New York Times, live blogging of debate

Yay.

Okay, all you regular Bear readers won’t be surprised that my most favoritist lines in the entire debate were, “We settled the suit with zero — with no admission of guilt. It was very easy to do.”  And, “I settled that lawsuit with no admission of guilt, but that was a lawsuit brought against many real estate firms, and it’s just one of those things.”

He settled that lawsuit with no admission of guilt.  Which is how lawsuits traditionally are settled.  It’s also why lawsuits of certain types are settled for more money than they otherwise would be; an admission of guilt gets you a settlement discount.

This particular type of lawsuit normally is settled with no admission of guilt–just a court decree in which the defendants promise to stop doing what they were not guilty of doing.  An admission of guilt would defeat the main purpose of settling: minimizing harm to the reputation of the business and its owners or executives.

Those lines of Trump’s last night, stupifyingly stupid as they were, did have some tough competition for my designation of The Best.  After all, there was that protestation by Trump that his cheering for the housing-bubble collapse is “called business, by the way.”  And that an architect Clinton mentioned who was among the thousands of workers and small-business owners whom Trump has refused to pay after they’s completed the work for him “maybe” “didn’t do a good job and [Trump] was unsatisfied with his work.”

And that Trump’s never paying any federal income taxes “makes [him] smart.”

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Hillary Clinton was NOT right to separate Trump from the GOP on racism, xenophobia, and sheer meanness.*

She was wrong to separate him from the GOP on fiscal and regulatory policy and on court and administrative-agency appointees. It wasn’t a package deal, or rather, it should not have been. She could have made the distinction, but she didn’t; not with specifics and not even generically on any regular basis, anyway.

Washington Post blogger Paul Waldman yesterday posted a lengthy post titled “Why Hillary Clinton was right to separate Donald Trump from the GOP” in which he makes the same mistake that Clinton herself has made since she secured the nomination in early June: conflating the five-decades-long Republican racial/xenophobic/culture-wars Southern-and-blue-collar-white strategy with economic, fiscal and regulatory policy.

For Clinton this explains her decision to highlight to the Democratic Convention delegates her embrace of so much of Bernie Sanders policy agenda by agreeing to incorporate it into the Party platform—and then never mention most of it again.  And to never mention (until very recently, and then only generically and only very sporadically) that Trump’s fiscal and regulatory policy is Paul Ryan’s on steroids, that that his economic advisers are the Koch brothers’ and other Republican donors’ dream-come-true, as will be his Supreme Court and lower-bench nominees and key federal-agency heads.  Trump is the far-right-libertarian billionaire’s Trojan Horse.**

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The Bizarre and Manipulative Crusade by Centrist NYT Columnists to Persuade Clinton to Adopt the Republican Fiscal and Regulatory Agenda – [with update]

All the experts tell us not to pay too much attention to polls for another week or two. Still, it does look as if Hillary Clinton got a big bounce from her convention, swamping her opponent’s bounce a week earlier. Better still, from the Democrats’ point of view, the swing in the polls appears to be doing what some of us thought it might: sending Donald Trump into a derp spiral, in which his ugly nonsense gets even uglier and more nonsensical as his electoral prospects sink.

As a result, we’re finally seeing some prominent Republicans not just refusing to endorse Mr. Trump, but actually declaring their support for Mrs. Clinton. So how should she respond?

The obvious answer, you might think, is that she should keep doing what she is doing — emphasizing how unfit her rival is for office, letting her allies point out her own qualifications and continuing to advocate a moderately center-­left policy agenda that is largely a continuation of President Obama’s.

But at least some commentators are calling on her to do something very different — to make a right turn, moving the Democratic agenda toward the preferences of those fleeing the sinking Republican ship. The idea, I guess, is to offer to create an American version of a European-­style grand coalition of the center­-left and the center-­right.

I don’t think there’s much prospect that Mrs. Clinton will actually do that. But if by any chance she and those around her are tempted to take this recommendation seriously: Don’t.

No Right Turn, Paul Krugman, New York Times, Aug. 5*

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The New World ORDER

Paul Krugman has a terrific column today titled “Donald Trump, the Siberian Candidate,” but really he suggests that Trump is the Manchurian candidate. Krugman suggests that Trump is actually fronting for Putin on the world stage. I think he’s right.

The only difference between the Manchurian candidate in the movie and Donald Trump is that Trump, unlike the movie character, would be doing what he would be doing completely consciously and wittingly. In a word: treason. Or something darn close to it.

This is jarringly serious stuff.

I think the Clinton campaign and the Dem Party would be crazy not to run a series of ads, and soon, making and an elaborating on the points Krugman makes in that column, first and foremost Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s longtime ties to Putin folks and to other rightwing dictators.  There also should be footage of Soviet armored tanks marching into Czechoslovakia in 1968 and Hungary in the mid-1950s.

I also think they should run ads juxtaposing video of Trump making some of his fascist-like statements (and pointing out that Trump repeatedly threatens the press, bars unfriendly media organizations from covering his events when he can) with footage of Adolph Hitler’s speeches in the early and mid-1930s.  There certainly are significant similarities.

The ads should flash the slogan “The New World Order.”  They should actually illustrate what type of order Trump has in mind.

This has crossed a line, and needs to become a major part of Clinton’s and the Dems’ campaign.  I’m not sure—at all—that the Clinton, which strikes me as just as slow-footed as Clinton herself—is up to the task of recognizing and dealing with this, though.

And I do think, notwithstanding the gist of the comments in the comments in the Comments thread, that as a political matter I was right in what I said here yesterday.  But, really, only if Clinton and her campaign actually inform the public of these specifics.  And I don’t mean just via Twitter.

___

UPDATE: The ad banner immediately above this post is from the Trump campaign, showing Trump with his right arm raised chest-high and his hand pointing forward and off toward the right.  It inaugurates what apparently is his campaign’s brand new slogan: Leading the Way.

Yes; exactly.  Clinton, her campaign and the Dem Party need to illustrate what Trump is leading the way toward.

Added 7/22 at 10:29 a.m.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The rule will take effect next April.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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