Archive for Presidential Race


The selling of “Hillary fraud”

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With Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race, you knew the “Clinton Rumors” would be back with a vengeance. Along with the chain emails from your dad. David Mikkelson has been collecting them at since the 1990s:

As he did in 2007, Mikkelson has seen a recent uptick in interest in Clinton rumors. The popular one recently was that Clinton was fired from the Watergate investigation. “It’s everything that people want to believe of her,” Mikkelson said — “she’s a liar, she’s corrupt, she’s unethical — all in one piece.” It is also important to note: This rumor is false.

Somebody once said they’ll keep doing this stuff as long as they think it works.

A few days ago we had a media blitz over Clinton Cash written by Peter Schweizer, a former Bush speechwriter and contributor. The pattern is familiar:

Schweizer explains he cannot prove the allegations, leaving that up to investigative journalists and possibly law enforcement. “Short of someone involved coming forward to give sworn testimony, we don’t know what might or might not have been said in private conversations, the exact nature of the transition, or why people in power make the decision they do,” he writes. Later, he concludes, “We cannot ultimately know what goes on in their minds and ultimately provide the links between the money they took and the benefits that subsequently accrued to themselves, their friends, and their associates.”

So then, nothing. Yet again.

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Best in Show?

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A Sen. In The Foxhouse

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Bernie Sanders representing today on Fox News Sunday:

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Not captured yet

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“The populists capture the Democratic Party,” declares the headline on Dana Milbank’s Washington Post column. “Can Hillary Clinton manage those rowdy populists?” asks Katrina vanden Huevel.

Well, not so fast. The big split to be managed soon is over a Senate resolution to give the president “fast track” trade authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. Milbank writes:

Twenty years ago, half of Senate Democrats and 40 percent of House Democrats voted for the North American Free Trade Agreement. This time, even if Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.), top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, signs off on a fast-track deal, proponents say a best-case scenario has them winning only 10 of the 46 Democrats — and an even smaller percentage of House Democrats, despite aggressive lobbying by the usually passive White House.

Progressive Senators and Representatives from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA) to Rep. Alan Grayson (FL), alongside labor leaders, may have staged a protest outside the Capitol yesterday, but the Obama administration has so far not flinched on supporting TPP. Milbank’s headline writer may have jumped the gun.

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But will she fight?

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Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich isn’t worried about Hillary Clinton’s values or ideals. “I’ve known her since she was 19 years old,” he writes, “and have no doubt where her heart is. For her entire career she’s been deeply committed to equal opportunity and upward mobility.” The question Reich poses is: Will she fight?

If she talks about what’s really going on and what must be done about it, she can arouse the Democratic base as well as millions of Independents and even Republicans who have concluded, with reason, that the game is rigged against them.

The question is not her values and ideals. It’s her willingness to be bold and to fight, at a time when average working people need a president who will fight for them more than they’ve needed such a president in living memory.

Hillary Clinton gave a nod to the vocal and enthusiastic “Elizabeth Warren Wing” of the Democratic party in her announcement video, echoing Warren by saying “the deck is still stacked” against ordinary Americans. In 2008, she spoke about “invisible Americans,” but she couldn’t make the sale. There is an “Elizabeth Warren Wing” because Warren is credible, and she’s credible because she’s proven she’s a fighter. The question is will Hillary Clinton come out swinging or will she follow Bill and “triangulate”?

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The Democrats’ “Iron Lady”?

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Hillary Clinton is “a pretty good person,” according to Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus. Today seems like a fine day for starting the competition for the best 2016 out of context quotes, so that’s my entry:

“Hillary Clinton is actually a pretty good person for us to run against,” he said in an interview on Fox News. “She unites the [Republican] Party, she allows us to raise a lot of money and allows us to recruit a lot of volunteers.”

There is much Sturm und Drang on the left over Hillary Clinton’s second run for president (the announcement is expected any minute). Clinton is not well liked on the left, considered yet another corporate Democrat, and in spite of hints that she might be “significantly to the left” of her husband on some issues. Elizabeth Warren’s economic populism is much more in keeping with the left’s sensibilities (mine included). But I wanted to play the contrarian this morning.

Publicly anyway, Republicans seem to relish the thought of running against Hillary Clinton. With its new “Stop Hillary” web ad and more:

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Who’s afraid of Elizabeth Warren?

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Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren
(Public domain via Wikipedia.)

“It will not work,” Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren said bluntly after reports last week that some Wall Street banks may withhold campaign donations from congressional Democrats over tensions with her:

“They want a showy way to tell Democrats across the country to be scared of speaking out, to be timid about standing up, and to stay away from fighting for what’s right,” Warren wrote. “… I’m not going to stop talking about the unprecedented grasp that Citigroup has on our government’s economic policymaking apparatus … And I’m not going to pretend the work of financial reform is done, when the so-called ‘too big to fail’ banks are even bigger now than they were in 2008.”

It’s that intensity, the appearance that Warren cannot be bought and is in the Senate more to represent the little guys than herself that has the effort to draft Warren for president hard at work in Des Moines, Iowa (funded by and and Democracy for America):

Toria Pinter, a law student who is on medical leave, said that she was drawn to Warren because of the senator’s vocal call to lower the interest rates on student loans. Pinter said people should not misconstrue this campaign as anti-Clinton effort, but rather a pro-Warren movement.

“The campaign is not about Clinton,” she said. “That’s not what we are here to talk about. We are here to talk about Warren and how important she is to us. Because she embodies the ideals and issues that are important to us at the end of the day.”

[Blair Lawton, Iowa Field Director for the Run Warren Run campaign] said even if Warren decides not to run, he believes there are some long-term benefits from this campaign including “putting a big investment into the progressive community.

Meanwhile back in Washington, D.C. (cue theme from The Empire Strikes Back), Republicans are pushing back on Warren, reports Politico:

Republicans are deploying a new taunt to needle Democrats they say refuse to consider even modest changes to financial oversight laws: Why are you so afraid of Elizabeth Warren?

It’s part of an effort by the GOP to portray Democrats as being completely inflexible when it comes to changes to the 2010 Dodd-Frank law because they are running scared from the populist wing of the party that views Warren, the most outspoken Wall Street critic in Congress, as their champion.

In an appearance at the American Bankers Association conference, House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) joked that they might need extra help when lobbying Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Warren: “May the force be with you.”

Reading through the rest of the article about what changes Big Bidness wants to to see in Dodd-Frank, one comes away asking whether Congress would show the same level of effort and concern over the needs and wants of less well-heeled and less well-connected constituents. Which explains why volunteers are busting their tails for Warren in Des Moines.

Who knows what words Republican old boys are actually using in D.C. to cast Democrats as inflexible or “running scared” or weak-kneed by asking “Why are you so afraid of Elizabeth Warren?” But that strikes my ear as, “What are you afraid of, a girl?

With any luck, someone will catch one on tape saying explicitly what they really think.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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Charlatans and cranks

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Paul Krugman this morning smacks down three of the right’s preeminent purveyors of supply-side voodoo. The column is sure to leave them fuming.

“Charlatans and cranks,” Krugman suggests, invoking a phrase used by former George W. Bush chief economic adviser, Greg Mankiw. The occasion was Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s appearance at a New York dinner featuring supply-siders Art Laffer (of the eponymous curve), CNBC’s Larry Kudlow, and Stephen Moore, chief economist of the Heritage Foundation. Making obeisance before the high priests of bunk – like questioning climate change, evolution, and the current president’s American bona fides – has become a “right” of passage for Republican presidential contenders.

Reality takes a holiday. Ideology takes precedence. Because, to riff on a song, it’s all about that base. But we’ll come back to Krugman later.

The New York Times also reports this morning on something I’ve mentioned before. The University of North Carolina’s Republican-appointed Board of Governors is closing several academic enters on its campuses dedicated to studying poverty, climate, and social change. It couldn’t also be about ideology, could it? The Times writes:

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Is it something in the water?

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Is there something in London’s water? From the Not Gonna Happen Here Dept.:

The Conservative party needs to break its dependence on millionaires, the former Tory chancellor Ken Clarke has told the Observer, amid a growing furore over the tax affairs of the party’s donors.

After a week of some of the most intense fighting between the parties in recent years, Clarke said the Conservatives would be strengthened by loosening the hold of rich men on their financial survival.

He called on David Cameron to cap political donations and increase state funding of political parties to put an end to damaging scandals and rows. The Conservatives have been rocked in the past week by a potentially toxic combination of allegations of tax evasion by clients of the HSBC bank, whose chairman, Lord Green, became a Tory minister; tax avoidance by party donors; and leaked details of the secretive black and white fundraising ball.

Meanwhile here in the Colonies, The Man Who Would Be Bush III is looking to lock in Mitt Romney’s network of presidential campaign donors from the “private equity and investment worlds.” It’s a trick Jeb Bush learned from his no-accountability brother, George. Suck all the air out of the GOP candidates’ Green Room room along with the money:

“It’s absolutely a kind of aggressive shock-and-awe strategy to vacuum up as much of the fund-raising network as you possibly can,” said Dirk Van Dongen, the president of the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors and a prolific Romney fund-raiser now helping Bush. “And they’re having a large measure of success.”

On the other side of the pond, however, the conservative Ken Clarke has had the scales fall from his eyes:

“What happens is that the Conservatives attack the Labour party for being ever more dependent on rather unrepresentative leftwing trade union leaders, and the Labour party spends all its time attacking the Conservative party for being dependent on rather unrepresentative wealthy businessmen. In a way both criticisms are true. And the media sends both up.

“The solution is for the party leaders to get together to agree, put on their tin hats and move to a more sensible and ultimately more defensible system.”

As previously noted, Clarke wants to see a cap on political donations. And it’s not just Tories having attacks of common sense:

Announcing that a Labour government would launch an independent investigation into the culture and practices of HMRC [Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs service] with regard to tax avoidance, [Labour leader Ed] Miliband told a Welsh Labour conference in Swansea: “The government’s failure to tackle tax avoidance is no accident. It has turned a blind eye to tax avoidance because it thinks that so long as a few at the top do well, the country succeeds. It thinks that wealth and power fence people off from responsibility. It thinks the rules only apply to everybody else.”

Imagine that.

Could any of this be contagious? Maybe there’s a vaccine they’re not taking in London that Villagers can not take here.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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Gonna soak up the sums

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If nothing else, Sarah Palin’s “bizarro” speech at the Iowa Freedom Summit this weekend warmed up the crowd for the real cowboys.

But even as Republican presidential wannabes tried to out-right each other in Iowa, the people who count most in this country — those with the most to count — held their annual donors’ summit at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Rancho Mirage, CA. John Nichols, writing for The Nation:

“Americans used to think Iowa and New Hampshire held the first caucus and primary in the nation every four years. Not anymore,” explains Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. “Now the ‘Koch brothers primary’ goes first to determine who wins the blessing and financial backing of the billionaire class. This is truly sad and shows us how far Citizens United has gone to undermine American democracy.”

Sanders was referencing the five-year-old US Supreme Court ruling that struck down barriers to corporate spending to buy elections—one of a series of decisions that have dramatically increased the influence of not just of corporations but of billionaires like the Koch brothers.

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida chose not to attend the Iowa event, instead reserving their time for supplication at the Koch brothers’ event, along with another unofficial 2016 presidential contender, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker:

An hourlong panel discussion featuring U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida will take place at 8:30 p.m. Sunday. [PST, presumably]

ABC News chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl will moderate it, and the network will livestream part of it.

Perhaps Cruz will again repeat the Churchill’s bust nonsense as he did again in Iowa on Saturday. Debunked three years ago? No obstacle in this alternate universe.

Update: More detail on bustgate.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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