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Ugh. Okay, still …

In a letter co-signed by 15 other Senate Democrats — and every Senate Republican — Kaine asked the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to exempt community banks and credit unions from many of its regulatory requirements. In justifying these exemptions, the letter suggests that these regulations would make it more difficult for these small banks to continue “spurring economic growth” and that such rules are unnecessary, anyhow, since community banks “were not the primary cause of the financial crisis.”

This latter point is a bit of non sequitur. Just because a reckless activity was not the “primary cause” of the last global economic crisis doesn’t mean that activity isn’t worth preventing. According to the Intercept’s David Dayen, the rule Kaine proposes “could allow community banks and credit unions to sell high-risk mortgages or personal loans without the disclosure and ability to pay rules in place across the industry.” Such bad loans may not take down our financial system, but they could ruin the lives of the families that receive them.

In a second letter to the Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Kaine and his co-signers argue that large regional banks like PNC, BB&T, and SunTrust should be exempt from two regulations meant to reduce their risk of collapse.

Currently, these banks are required to issue daily reports about their levels of liquidity, so as to assure the government that they hold enough assets to cover a 30-day period of financial stress. Kaine and 69 of his colleagues would like to exempt regional banks from this requirement, regardless of their size.

Kaine would also like these banks to be exempted from the “advanced approaches” capital requirements that dictate the ratio of reserves a bank must hold to cover potential losses. At present, any bank that holds $250 billion in assets is deemed systemically important and thus subjected to these requirements. Kaine argues that this threshold is too low, in light of the fact that the financial sector has grown substantially since the rule was written. Since regional banks “do not share the same risk profile or complexity as their larger, systemically important brethren,” the letter writers argue, they should not be forced to comply with the same regulations. But it’s not clear why the signatories believe that the collapse of a large regional bank wouldn’t create significant ripple effects in our deeply interconnected financial system.

While Kaine stepped up to the plate for banking interests this week, he simultaneously snubbed consumer-advocacy groups. On Wednesday, Kaine was one of 13 Democratic senators to withhold his signature from a letter authored by Sherrod Brown, which called for strengthening new rules against abusive payday lenders. The senator’s office told the Huffington Post that he is “working on his own separate ‘Virginia-focused’” letter on payday lending.

Clinton VP Favorite Just Gave the Left Two More Reasons to Distrust Him, Eric Levitz, New York magazine, yesterday (H/T Naked Capitalism)

An article I read late last night (I can’t remember where) said Clinton had been leaning toward Kaine partly because she thinks he will help her win votes of white men because he is originally from the Midwest and is, well, a white man.

That concerned me, because it suggests that Clinton sees white men as somewhat fungible: What matters is the region of the country he hails from and the fact that he is white and male.  But this election season has shown rather clearly that there are two distinct types of populism, one far more important in the South than elsewhere, the other far more important in the Midwest and the Northeast—respectively, the racial and xenophobic white-grievance mania that Trump has promoted so successfully, the other traditional economic-populism issues of the sort that Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have come to represent in the minds of so many voters.

The article I read last night also reported, and the New York magazine article also says, that Bill Clinton had been pushing strongly for Kaine.  This too concerns me.  Bill Clinton remains ossified in the ‘90s; there has been indication upon indication of that in the last year.  He makes Hillary Clinton look observant of the current political climate.  Hillary Clinton spent the last year and a half until roughly three weeks ago seemingly unobservant of the current political climate—the very morning after the California primary, when she effectively secured the nomination, she was on the phone to moderate Republican donors, apparently on the assumption that they couldn’t figure out for themselves that if they couldn’t abide Trump they should support her, since she’s the only actual alternative.  So Bill Clinton’s feat is notable.

And Hillary Clinton’s decision to choose Kaine suggests what I, and I know many other progressives, fear: that she is manipulated by her husband to an unnerving extent.

I’m on a listserve of Sanders supporters whom the Clinton campaign occasionally targets with messages from Clinton promising to be a progressive president, and last night I received a message titled “Welcome Tim Kaine”.  It begins by assuring that she and Kaine both are genuine progressives.  The rest of the message is, I assume, the message she sent to her supporters announcing her choice of Kaine.  What caught my attention was something that also caught my attention when I read his Wikipedia page last night before posting this post (and titling it as I did): Kaine graduated from Harvard Law School and then practiced law in Richmond.

Why Richmond? I wondered when I read the Wikipedia entry, which doesn’t answer that question.  Kaine had no ties to Virginia.  And, it hit me, after graduating from Harvard Law he didn’t work for the government and didn’t work for a corporate mega-firm.  Yet he did practice law.  That’s really important.  (Trust me.  It is.)

In her email, Clinton details this.  After graduating from Harvard Law School, Kaine moved to Richmond to litigate against that city’s pervasive racial discrimination in housing.  He practiced law there, in Richmond, for 17 years.  Just ordinary law, I guess (although Clinton doesn’t say); not law of the corporate variety, I presume.

This matters.  But not as much as, I fear, Clinton thinks.  Economic populism matters right now in domestic policy, beyond all else.

I can’t emphasize enough that there is, I’m pretty sure, nothing that would cause me to not vote for this ticket.  But I’m a single vote.  And the way to win the votes of enough white men in Midwestern swing states is run on the progressive economic policy platform that so largely reflects Sanders’ and Warren’s policy prescriptions, if not enough.  It is not to rest on the belief that a majority of voters want experience and steadiness.  And that a majority of white men in swing states care mostly about whether or not the candidate has chosen a white man as her running mate.

____

UPDATE: I want to really emphasize my point above that Bill Clinton apparently is having disconcertedly undue influence over Hillary in critical respects.  I’ve just read more about Kaine’s time as governor, and while these essentially Republican actions and positions he took may well have been necessary in order to enable a potentially successful Senate run, this is not a candidate who should be the Dem VP nominee, least of all in this election cycle.

As I say above, I was just dismayed when the very morning after the California primary, Hillary Clinton was on the phone soliciting contributions from moderate Repub donors.  But in thinking about this today, I realize that this probably was at Bill’s  elated suggestion.  This is NOT good–this retro chokehold on the current nominee.

Added 7/23 at 12:47 p.m.

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I think Kaine will be fine. [UPDATE: I’m no longer so sure.]

When I posted this earlier today it was because I had just read an article about these letters Kaine had joined other members of Congress in signing last week.  The article wasn’t the one I just linked to; I can’t find the one I read.  But I misunderstood it in two respects: I thought the letters were recommending reduction in the Dodd-Frank capitalization requirements for all banks, and I thought they were objecting to important new regulations by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  Instead, the signers want the capitalization requirements reduced for community-type banks and credit unions, in order to make it easier for them to compete with the mega-banks.

That’s not a bad thing, in my opinion.  Anything that makes community banks more able to compete with the internationals is probably a good thing, I think.  Of course, reinstating Glass-Steagall would help, too.

In any event, here is an article I just read about Kaine that makes me think he’ll be fine.  Freed from the constraints of Virginia politics, he could become quite progressive.  We’ll see.  He does seem to be genuinely intelligent and thoughtful.

And anyway, he’s not Hickenlooper.

Time to rally around Clinton-Kaine.

____

UPDATE: This excerpt from a just-posted Washington Post article contains one of the quotes in the earlier article I read that prompted me to post this earlier today:

In recent television interviews, Sanders has praised Kaine, but some of his supporters have sharply questioned his progressive bona fides, pointing to Kaine’s support of trade deals and regulations favorable to big banks.

Charles Chamberlain, executive director of the activist network Democracy for America, which backed Sanders in the primaries, said Thursday that it should be “disqualifying” for any potential Democratic vice-presidential nominee to “help banks dodge consumer protection standards.”

Those two paragraphs in the Post article are followed by these:

And on Friday, Norman Solomon, the coordinator of a group billing itself as the Bernie Delegates Network, called Kaine “a loyal servant of oligarchy.”

“If Clinton has reached out to Bernie supporters, it appears that she has done so to stick triangulating thumbs in their eyes,” said Solomon, whose organization claims to represent hundreds of Sanders delegates attending the convention in Philadelphia but is not coordinating with the campaign.

In a way I wish I knew the specifics of what Chamberlain and Solomon are talking about, but in a way I don’t.  I’ll be voting for this ticket no matter what.  And right now I just want to see what Kaine says.

Added 7/22 at 10:24 p.m.

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Okay, so Hillary Clinton thinks the election outcome will be determined by whether or not her running mate has a national security background, because Donald Trump has pronounced this a law-and-order election. Seriously.

Facing a fall contest against a Republican opponent focused on law and order, Hillary Clinton has narrowed her search for a vice­-presidential candidate, telling several potential running mates that she needs a No. 2 who would bring national security experience to the Democratic ticket.

Mrs. Clinton’s shortlist includes James G. Stavridis, a retired four-­star Navy admiral who served as the 16th supreme allied commander of NATO, and Senator Tim Kaine, a former Virginia governor who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. She is widely expected to present her choice at a rally in Miami on Saturday, according to people involved

Hillary Clinton Is Said to Seek National Security Experience for Vice Presidential Pick, Amy Chozick, New York Times, today

Oh.  Brother.

This, folks, is what’s wrong with Hillary Clinton as the Democratic Party nominee for president.  I ask you folks: How many of you think the folks who’ve been downsized from, say, their well-paying blue-collar jobs in the Rust Belt will determine their vote based on whether or not Clinton’s running mate has national security experience, because Donald Trump has pronounced this a law-and-order election?

Seriously.  Vote on this in the Comments thread.

Setting aside for moment that her supposed big selling point is the breadth of her government experience, and particularly her national security, and that most people don’t recognize that presidents normally have several national security advisors and that all that’s really necessary is that the president have a, y’know, brain and a semblance of mental stability, the fact that Clinton is so, so easily spooked into triangulation-and-toughness mode is genuinely scary.

So I’ll repeat here what I wrote yesterday:

One of my pet peeves about Hillary Clinton is how mindless—how autopilot-y—her political instincts are.  I wrote recently, and had written earlier, about her factually off attempt last summer to pander to current and aspiring small-business owners by promising that she could have the federal government streamline the time it takes to start a business and cut down on regulations on small businesses.  The federal government plays virtually no role in the regulation of small businesses—local and state governments regulate most small businesses—and the role that government at any level plays in business startup time is a matter of about a week for most businesses.

But hiding in plain sight were things she could have mentioned about the role that the federal government could play in things of critical importance to small business owners of various types.  And some things that, thanks to Dems, it already does.  Specific regulation of the financial services industry, for example—such as the Durbin Amendment, a form of antitrust regulation of Visa and Mastercard concerning business fees for credit and ATM card transactions, enacted by the Dem.-controlled Congress in 2009—has mattered a lot, and should be strengthened.  And other antitrust enforcement and proposed legislation, such as to decrease the market chokehold of the major transportation companies and Big Ag, would make a significant difference to small-business owners, including farmers.

Elizabeth Warren talked about this in a highly publicized speech a couple of weeks ago.  And Bernie Sanders discussed it often on the campaign trail, including, in Iowa, proposals for antitrust legislation to limit the market power of Big Ag.

Clinton reflexively equates the possibility of Dems attracting white rural and small town residents with triangulation.  I myself have long believed that standard-issue triangulation is not the ticket to winning some support in rural and small town areas, but that specific sophisticated policy discussions about nonconventional issues—such as about antitrust regulation—is.  Ditto for small-business owners and aspirants.

The rap on Vilsack apparently is that he’s boring.  And that he wouldn’t make a good attack dog against Trump.

I don’t think Clinton needs an attack dog, in the conventional sense, as her running mate.  Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders both get extensive media coverage for what they say, and people really listen to and care about their speeches.  They’ll play a tremendous dual role in educating the public about the Dem platform—and the Repub one.  And Warren can skewer Trump like she was born to do it.

My own choice for VP nominee is Sherrod Brown, whom I’ve been a huge fan of since he appeared on my radar screen during his 2006 Senate campaign; he and Dick Durbin are my favorite senators.  Brown would make a wonderful candidate, and would appeal to rural and small town voters precisely because he’s a liberal—in ways that would matter to them.  But I share the hesitation about him that Clinton and other Dems have: his seat would be turned over to a Kasich appointee for a while.

And I think his teaming up with Sanders, Warren, Durbin, Jeff Merkley, Baldwin and Jack Reed in a Dem-controlled Senate, along with a couple of new true progressives, would prove historic.   Which is what I think Clinton should campaign on.

And, innocently, I added:

As for progressive NeverHillary holdouts, I think they should understand the possibilities that would come from that.  And, conversely, from this.

Then I added this:

ThesePeopleAreCrazy.

That crazy thing, though, may not be enough to determine the outcome of this presidential election, after all.  And it’s not because, see, Donald Trump has declared this a law-and-order election.

Just when I thought we’d gotten lucky, in that someone within her trust-and-personal-comfort realm who is among her finalists actually could make a difference in the campaign, for the right (no, not that way) reasons, and would make a good president should that situation arise, she reverts to form.

Toughness-and-triangulation forever!

Whatever. …

Clinton will have my vote.  But I recognize now my naiveté in expecting her to run a rational, spooked-free campaign.  It’s not what she does, because it’s not who she is; whoever she is, it’s not that.

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Imagine a Dem VP nominee who can speak with clarity about antitrust legislation to limit the market power of Big Ag (and other such things)

I don’t want to compare myself to other people [in contention for the job], but I will tell you I’ve spoken with so many groups and I’ve represented those folks as a small-town lawyer, as a small-town mayor, as a state senator, then representing the state. I understand those folks and their struggles,” [Agriculture Secretary Tom] Vilsack said. “In this particular election, given the uneasiness people have about Mr. Trump in small towns where I’ve been working, there’s an openness [to Democrats].”

Vilsack stock rises as Clinton nears VP pick:The former Iowa governor is the subject of increasing speculation within Clinton’s political orbt., Gabriel Debenedetti and Helena Bottemiler Evich, Politico, today

One of my pet peeves about Hillary Clinton is how mindless—how autopilot-y—her political instincts are.  I wrote recently, and had written earlier, about her factually off attempt last summer to pander to current and aspiring small-business owners by promising that she could have the federal government streamline the time it takes to start a business and cut down on regulations on small businesses.  The federal government plays virtually no role in the regulation of small businesses—local and state governments regulate most small businesses—and the role that government at any level plays in business startup time is a matter of about a week for most businesses.

But hiding in plain sight were things she could have mentioned about the role that the federal government could play in things of critical importance to small business owners of various types.  And some things that, thanks to Dems, it already does.  Specific regulation of the financial services industry, for example—such as the Durbin Amendment, a form of antitrust regulation of Visa and Mastercard concerning business fees for credit and ATM card transactions, enacted by the Dem.-controlled Congress in 2009—has mattered a lot, and should be strengthened.  And other antitrust enforcement and proposed legislation, such as to decrease the market chokehold of the major transportation companies and Big Ag, would make a significant difference to small-business owners, including farmers.

Elizabeth Warren talked about this in a highly publicized speech a couple of weeks ago.  And Bernie Sanders discussed it often on the campaign trail, including, in Iowa, proposals for antitrust legislation to limit the market power of Big Ag.

Clinton reflexively equates the possibility of Dems attracting white rural and small town residents with triangulation.  I myself have long believed that standard-issue triangulation is not the ticket to winning some support in rural and small town areas, but that specific sophisticated policy discussions about nonconventional issues—such as about antitrust regulation—is.  Ditto for small-business owners and aspirants.

The rap on Vilsack apparently is that he’s boring.  And that he wouldn’t make a good attack dog against Trump.

I don’t think Clinton needs an attack dog, in the conventional sense, as her running mate.  Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders both get extensive media coverage for what they say, and people really listen to and care about their speeches.  They’ll play a tremendous dual role in educating the public about the Dem platform—and the Repub one.  And Warren can skewer Trump like she was born to do it.

My own choice for VP nominee is Sherrod Brown, whom I’ve been a huge fan of since he appeared on my radar screen during his 2006 Senate campaign; he and Dick Durbin are my favorite senators.  Brown would make a wonderful candidate, and would appeal to rural and small town voters precisely because he’s a liberal—in ways that would matter to them.  But I share the hesitation about him that Clinton and other Dems have: his seat would be turned over to a Kasich appointee for a while.

And I think his teaming up with Sanders, Warren, Durbin, Jeff Merkley, Baldwin and Jack Reed in a Dem-controlled Senate, along with a couple of new true progressives, would prove historic.   Which is what I think Clinton should campaign on.

As for progressive NeverHillary holdouts, I think they should understand the possibilities that would come from that.  And, conversely, from this.

These. People. Are. Crazy.

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If Clinton chooses Hickenlooper as her running mate, I will not vote for her. I mean it. [Updated]

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was spotted being dropped off at Clinton’s home and remained there for about an hour, according to CNN and NBC News. A person familiar with that meeting confirmed that Warren did meet with Clinton.

The same networks reported that Clinton also met at her home with Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, whose name has been less prominent on Clinton’s list of potential running mates. Clinton also met with Hickenlooper while campaigning in Denver late last month, and he later told reporters that the vice presidential search “briefly” came up.

Clinton meets with Warren, Castro, Hickenlooper as part of VP search, Abby Phillip and Ed O’Keefe

Time and again when asked by a reporter why she thinks so many people, including many Democrats and Dem-leaning Republicans, don’t trust her and don’t like her, Hillary Clinton offers her opinion that that is the result of a quarter-century of vicious attacks by Republicans.  And again and again she claims that her vaunted toughness in defending herself against those Republican attacks will translate into toughness in fighting congressional Republicans on policy issues.

Neither claim is accurate, and both are part and parcel of the heart of Clinton’s campaign problems: That she has a long history of feigning cluelessness about what is so off-putting about her, and that one reason so many people don’t like or trust her is that she feigns cluelessness about what is so off-putting about her, or, worse, isn’t feigning cluelessness about the reason for a problematic public reaction to something about her or something she has said or done.  Or even just the meaning of a term like “the establishment.” which, her protestation notwithstanding, is unrelated led to gender.  And that she’s a triangulator and that, with the exception of traditional women’s issues, her progressive feints appear to be exactly that: feints.

For those who don’t know, although I assume Clinton does: Hickenlooper, who won reelection in 2014 by a hair to, um, this character, spent his entire first term as the ultimate triangulator.  So eager was he to advertise his nonpartisanship (read: moderate-Republican leanings) that he appointed a Republican nobody trial-court judge known for his illiteracy in anything resembling actual law, including his state’s statutes in the main area of law specifically assigned to him to handle as a judge, to the state Supreme Court.

Colorado has an appalling method of judicial selection that gets high praise because the judges are selected initially not via election but instead by appointment of the governor.  The problem is that a private committee, operating secretly, is charged with receiving bids for vacancies and then forwarding to the governor three names from which to choose.

But the three names become public (so to speak) only after they are announced as the three finalists; the names of the applicants are not publicly announced when they become applicants.  And then there is a window of approximately three minutes (okay, I think it’s 15 days) before the governor must make the appointment.  The blink-and-you’ll-miss-it time period is of course long enough for the three to get their supporters to weigh in, but unless you know the announcement of the three is coming, not long enough for anyone else to do so.  Hickenlooper, provided with a choice between two Dems and this Republican-out-of-your-guess-is-as-good-as-mine, chose, to the dismay of many Dems, many progressives, and many victims of this judge’s stupidity, chose the latter.

In (I believe) the second election cycle after the appointment, the judge must run for “retention” by the voters—getting 60% (or some such figure) approval of the voters.  For this (misnomered) justice, that election was the one in November 2014, the one in which Hickenlooper running for reelection topped the ballot for state offices.  A state agency charged with contacting people (i.e., lawyers) who have had cases before the judges running for retention, and summarizing the statements, had reported about this Republican-out-of-your-guess-is-as-good-as-mine that many lawyers—some who had argued cases at the state Supreme Court since his appointment there and some who just had to try to deal with the opinions (such as they are) authored by this moron—that he was notably ignorant of the law and was either unable or unwilling to explain the bases for his opinions.  The agency’s report assured readers, though, that the moron said he’s working on improving.  Apparently, no one had noticed, though.

But Hickenlooper, who apparently also used other important appointments to advertise his nonpartisan (read: pro-business) cred, got a big look-at-me-I’m-not-really-a-Democrat-or-at-least-not-really-a-progressive chit.  The problem, though, was that his triangulation damn-near cost him reelection.

Someone I know who badly wanted to see Hickenlooper’s Republican Supreme Court appointee denied retention, and who believed he could accomplish that by reporting certain specifics to high-profile journalists, instead made the very painful decision to not do that.  The governor’s race was nip-and-tuck until the end.  Anyone appointed by the alternative to Hickenlooper would be horrific.  And highlighting the utter cravenness of Hickenlooper’s I’m-not-a-progressive-just-look-at-my-appointments tenure as governor conceivably could tip the balance toward the other guy in such a close election; progressives, whom Hickenlooper belatedly realized were sooo not pleased that some were considering not voting, and who late in the campaign he started frantically to court, could find it even harder to vote for this guy.

Which should be a lesson to Clinton and to the two people charged with drafting her Convention acceptance speech, and who want to try to explain what, specifically, their candidate means by her slogan “Stronger Together.”  They want, they say, to convey what kind of country Clinton will try to mold as president.

That is incredibly weird, if you think about it.  On virtually the eve of the Convention, this nominee is still debating between the candidate who will assuage her financial-industry donors—after all, who recommended Hickenlooper to her in the first place?— and, well, probably no one who won’t, notwithstanding her token among the VP-choice finalists.

What strikes me is the odd similarity between what Trump is doing and what Clinton is doing.  Or, more accurately, the similarity between the reason for what each of these two respective nominees is doing.  Trump went uber-base in his running mate choice in order to get some mega-donors to fund his campaign.  For Clinton, the opposite is necessary in order to achieve that goal.  I shouldn’t have succumbed to wishful thinking.

But neither Clinton nor her speechwriters need wonder any longer why so many people don’t like or trust her.  Nor what she can do about it.  She’s answered the first question, just fine.  And the second question answers itself, although she still thinks banalities, constant idiotic playacting, looking for a slogan that will fly, and of course triangulation dog whistles, are the way to go.  If at first you don’t succeed, ….

The encouraging news if she chooses Hickenlooper, I guess, is that she may not have him help select her judicial nominees.  Although you never know.

Truly.

____

UPDATE:  Oh, stop.  Just stop, all of you in the comments thread who are excoriating me and think I will continue to be angry enough to actually not vote for Clinton.

Look. There really is no choice, in my opinion.  There just isn’t.

I meant it when I wrote the post, yes.  But since then I watched Clinton’s video address to the Netroots convention, and I feel about it much the same as I did her comments to us Sanders supporters on Tuesday during her joint with him.  I think it would be hard not to watch that video and not see it as sincere.

But if I’m wrong, there’s still no choice.  Not for me.

I wish Clinton would step back and ditch her standard persona and truly be the person she is in that video.  But doing that would require moving away from many of the people who have her ear and whom she relies so much on for political advice.   It also would require her to decide finally that the candidate she says in that video that really is is the candidate she truly is now.

As for Hickenlooper, I think now maybe she really didn’t know much about what transpired in his first term.  But if so, it really should be a warning to her that before she just accepts advice from someone who has the ability, the access, to give it to her, she should speak with some actual progressives who know about the person she’s considering or the issue she’s being lobbied about.

If she does pick Hickenlooper as her running mate, it will be a decision that runs contrary to her statements in that video about who she now is as a candidate, which I interpret as something beyond the two main issues she spoke about in it.  But if she does, I will vote for her anyway because I don’t think I have the option not to.

Update added 7/17 at 4:21 pm.

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