Browsing the archives for the Obama Administration category.


How Badly Will the GOP Have to Screw Up in November to Lose to Clinton?

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Obama Administration

This was Hillary Clinton being interviewed on MSNBC last night. She’s basically telling Sanders supporters they can kiss her ass; she doesn’t need their votes.

The only way she’s going to win in November with that attitude is if the GOP accomplishes the biggest pooch-screwing in human history. And, of course, that is entirely possible. The fall campaign is not exactly going to be another Clash of the Titans, in other words.

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Why the Democratic Party Is in Bigger Trouble Than It Realizes

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American History, big picture stuff, Democratic Party, liberalism and progressivism, Obama Administration, Sanders and Clinton, self-destruction

Regarding the perpetual complaint that young voters don’t turn out for midterm elections, which gives Congress to Republicans — yeah, I used to complain about that too. But try to imagine what the Democratic Party must look like to younger voters.

I’m old enough to remember when Harry Truman and Eleanor Roosevelt were still alive and still influential in party politics. I was in middle school during the Kennedy Administration. For all his flaws regarding Vietnam, Lyndon Johnson initiated genuinely progressive domestic programs. I was in high school when Bobby Kennedy ran for President and was assassinated. I cast my first vote for POTUS for George McGovern. So that’s the Democratic Party I remember — flawed and messy, but still a vehicle for doing the right thing, at least part of the time.

But that party died a quiet death some time back. I’m not sure that other people my age realize this. The Democratic Party now is closer to where the Republicans were during the Nixon Administration than they are to being the party of Truman, Kennedy or even LBJ.

But at least the Nixon Republicans sort of stood for something. You knew where they were coming from. The current party Democratic Party stands for nothing.

I’m not sure when it happened, exactly, but sometime between the McGovern blowout in 1972 and the election of Bill Clinton in 1992, the party of FDR, Truman and Kennedy died. Clinton ushered in a fundamental change in the Democratic Party that made it about winning elections on the Right’s terms. It became the party of lowered expectations, learned helplessness and “at least we’re not as bad as they are.” But what does it actually stand for any more, as a party?

I recently got into a sad discussion about how the party abandoned the legacy of FDR. I mentioned FDR’s great 1941 State of the Union address — the “Four Freedoms” speech. This encapsulates what the party should still stand for, I said. A Clinton supporter dismissed this as ancient history. You want to have it both ways, she said. You keep saying it’s not 1972 any more, and now you want to go back to 1941. The Democrats have moved on.

So I quoted this portion of the speech:

Certainly this is no time for any of us to stop thinking about the social and economic problems which are the root cause of the social revolution which is today a supreme factor in the world.

For there is nothing mysterious about the foundations of a healthy and strong democracy. The basic things expected by our people of their political and economic systems are simple. They are:

Equality of opportunity for youth and for others.

Jobs for those who can work.

Security for those who need it.

The ending of special privilege for the few.

The preservation of civil liberties for all.

The enjoyment of the fruits of scientific progress in a wider and constantly rising standard of living.

These are the simple, basic things that must never be lost sight of in the turmoil and unbelievable complexity of our modern world. The inner and abiding strength of our economic and political systems is dependent upon the degree to which they fulfill these expectations.

Personally, I think anyone who wants to call himself a REAL DEMOCRAT ought to memorize that passage and recite it daily.

FDR continued:

Many subjects connected with our social economy call for immediate improvement.

As examples:

We should bring more citizens under the coverage of old-age pensions and unemployment insurance.

We should widen the opportunities for adequate medical care.

We should plan a better system by which persons deserving or needing gainful employment may obtain it.

And we’re still working on that stuff. Maybe we’ll always be working on that stuff. As technological and economic conditions change, we’ll have to keep adjusting. But it’s hard to even talk about some of these things now, never mind work on them. We’ve done something about health care, although we need to do more. But looking ahead I don’t see any plans from most Dems except to try to stop what we have accomplished from being further eroded.

Roosevelt went on to say that people would be required to pay more taxes to make these things happen. He was re-elected later that year anyway. And no, Pearl Harbor hadn’t been bombed yet.

In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

The first is freedom of speech and expression–everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way–everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want–which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants–everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear–which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor–anywhere in the world.

That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called new order of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb.

Compare/contrast to right-wing calls for carpet bombing the Middle East to get rid of ISIS. For that matter, compare/contrast to Hillary Clinton’s “vision” of dealing with ISIS. It’s all about military and anti-terrorist options. There’s no vision there.

Now, some would say that Pearl Harbor and the subsequent war proved FDR hopelessly idealistic. I don’t think so. These ideals lived on in programs like the Marshall Plan, which helped secure a lasting peace in western Europe and which is the sort of thing that would never get past a right-wing Congress today, and which the current Democratic Party would never even dare propose. And FDR was a great war president and hardly a pacifist weenie, btw.

We have to acknowledge that FDR didn’t always live up to his own ideals — the Japanese-American internment, for example — but that doesn’t mean the ideals themselves were wrong.

As I’ve written elsewhere, there’s a good argument to be made that in 1992, Clintonian “triangulation,” moving Right to finesse the Reaganites on their own turf, was the only way a Democrat could have won the White House. But it’s time to drop that strategy now, because it’s holding us all back. The current Dem establishment, never mind Hillary Clinton herself, is stuck in the past and ignoring the realities of the current political climate, which is that the Republican Party is falling apart and the young folks are hungry for a more assertively progressive left-wing party that actually stands for something other than technocratic responses to whatever problems arise. Which is all Hillary Clinton knows.

And when some of us start talking about a real progressive vision, the Clintonistas dismiss us as naive “purists” who don’t understand what’s practical. I guess by their definition FDR wasn’t practical (see: New Deal; victory in World War II).

But y’know what? We’ve complained for years about how younger voters don’t turn out for midterm elections and let the Republicans take over Congress. I’ve complained about that, too. But try to look at the Democrats through their eyes. They don’t remember Truman or Eleanor Roosevelt or even George McGovern or Hubert Humphrey.  They remember the Clintons. They see Democrats in Congress that sell out liberal values a large part of the time, and who can’t effectively push back against right-wing craziness. Even President Obama — who has done a lot more good than he’s given credit for — has disappointed them often by trying to make “Grand Bargains” with the Right that would have compromised essential “safety net” programs. And his foreign policy hasn’t been all that great, which is largely Clinton’s doing, IMO.

From that perspective — what’s there to vote for? Why bother?

Again, I always do trudge out and vote, if only because the Dems are not as bad as those other people. But the Dems have been coasting on we aren’t as bad as they are way too much and way too long. It’s like they’re using the Republicans to hold us hostage — vote for us or they’ll shoot your dog. And then most of them go about being way too compromised by money and lobbyists and not really responding to the people.

No, they aren’t as bad as the Republicans. But maybe the young folks are right for not settling. And if the Democratic Party doesn’t change, I wonder if it can survive.

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Re-explaining Why the Hillary Victory Fund Is an Issue

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Obama Administration

It appears, from comments here and on Facebook, that I failed utterly to explain my concerns about the Hillary Victory Fund yesterday. So I’m making another attempt.

The Hillary Victory Fund is a joint fundraising effort set up with the Clinton campaign, the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic parties of 33 states.  It’s essentially a PAC. Individual donors can give up to $356,100 per year, and since this was set up in 2015 some have given this maximum for two years, for a total of $712,200. Of course, a lot of donations are smaller.

All the money raised by the HVF goes to the Clinton campaign first. I had previously read that she gets to keep the first $2700 from each individual per year, or $5400 for contributions made in 2015 and 2016. But I just read that is for the primary only; she can keep another $2700 per each individual contributor for the general election fund.

Since the money goes to her first, she can always keep the maximum amount allowable. For example, if the donation is $2700 she keeps all of it. This money can be treated as individual donations, with no strings attached; the Clinton campaign can do whatever it wants with it. And this is completely legal. We can quibble about whether it is ethical, considering the fund is being touted as some altruistic effort to raise money for down-ticket Democrats. But let us put that aside for now; it’s not part of the newer allegations.

What Clinton cannot keep goes to the DNC, where it is allocated by a joint committee that includes Clinton campaign staff. The DNC keeps $33,400 of each individual donation per year, which is the biggest portion. That’s where the spending issues get murky. I’ll come back to this in a bit.

And then the portion the DNC cannot keep goes to the state Democratic parties in chunks of $10,000. It appears that by then what’s left over amounts to crumbs. Again, this is legal, but it burns me whenever somebody chirps about all the millions of dollars Clinton is raising “for down ticket Democrats.” The largest portion of the money stops with the joint committee at the DNC.

There are also huge ethical questions about whether this is, in effect, turning these state Democratic party organizations into arms of the Clinton campaign committee. As long as she’s in the race, the crumbs keep coming. This would be a huge incentive for them to “help” Clinton win primaries and for their superdelegates to remain loyal to Clinton, corrupting the primary process. Similar kinds of joint fundraising operations have been set up before, but not until after a candidate had secured the nomination. This is the part about the fund I’ve complained about before. It’s legal, yes, but it still stinks.

However, the new allegations are about something else.

Let us go back to the DNC and the joint committee allocating the funds passed on to them by the Clinton campaign. Here is where the new allegations come in. The joint committee, as I’ve said in earlier posts, includes Clinton campaign staff. Its treasurer is Clinton’s chief operating officer. The joint committee also includes DNC officials, I assume, who have reason to be loyal to Clinton because the HVF saved their financial asses and hauled the DNC out of the red last year.

The money passed on to the joint committee by the Clinton campaign is not supposed to be used by the Clinton campaign any way it wants. There are legal strings attached. Are we all clear on that?

The new allegation is that this money being allocated by the joint committee is mostly being spent in ways that help the Clinton campaign, either primarily or exclusively. This is where the legal issue gets sticky. Instead of keeping a wall between Clinton money and DNC money, which I believe is what the law calls for, it appears the money is being treated as something fungible that is still mostly being spent according to the wishes of the Clinton campaign.

This takes me back to what I wrote yesterday that nobody seemed to get. The Sanders campaign said,

The financial disclosure reports on file with the Federal Election Commission indicate that the joint committee invested millions in low-dollar, online fundraising and advertising that solely benefits the Clinton campaign. The Sanders campaign “is particularly concerned that these extremely large-dollar individual contributions have been used by the Hillary Victory Fund to pay for more than $7.8 million in direct mail efforts and over $8.6 million in online advertising” according to the letter to the DNC. Both outlays benefit the Clinton presidential campaign “by generating low-dollar contributions that flow only to HFA [Hillary for America] rather than to the DNC or any of the participating state party committees.”

This seems to me a legitimate beef, yet no one in media is taking it seriously. There was a segment on Rachel Maddow in which Maddow and Andrea Mitchell sat around and talked about what a mistake it was for the Sanders campaign to make an accusation like that, since the Hillary Victory Fund is perfectly legal, and Mitchell said she had talked to the DNC, which had told her nothing was amiss.

Yes, of course the DNC would say that. Duh.

Steve Benen also wrote a post at the Maddow Blog that is being widely linked to as a rebuttal of the Sanders charges. But Benen doesn’t seem to me to address what the charges actually are.

Now, I would be the first person to confess I don’t have a head for numbers. But as I wrote yesterday, this Politico article seemed alarming:

Yet, during the first three months of the year, the $2 million transferred by the Hillary Victory Fund to various state party committees paled in comparison to the $9.5 million it transferred to Clinton’s campaign committee or the $3.5 million it transferred to the DNC.

Is this saying that the joint committee is just donating the money back to the Clinton campaign?

And the Hillary Victory Fund [meaning the joint committee] also spent $6.7 million on online ads that mostly looked like Clinton campaign ads, as well as $5.5 million on direct marketing. Both expenses seem intended at least in part to help Clinton build a small donor base, an area in which Sanders has far outpaced her.

Knowing Clinton, she probably does have some team of lawyers keeping an eye on this to be sure there’s at least a fig leaf of legality stuck to this operation. But does this not seem questionable?

Update: You can click on this link to see the list of participating states and the amount of money each has received as of the end of March. As you can see, the states are getting peanuts compared to what the Hillary Victory Fund has taken in.

 

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How the Primaries Don’t Work, Colorado Edition

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Obama Administration

Get this, from the Denver Post:

Bernie Sanders won one more delegate in Colorado than first projected after the Colorado Democratic Party admitted this week that it misreported the March 1 caucus results from 10 precinct locations.

The error — first uncovered by The Denver Post — was shared with rival Hillary Clinton’s campaign by party officials but kept from Sanders until the Post told his staff Monday night. …

… The revelation that the state party misreported the results to the public March 1 — and kept it quiet to all but the Clinton campaign for five weeks — comes as Sanders promotes his case that he can win the Democratic nomination.

Let’s review. This story is dated April 12. The caucus was March 1. The Denver Post says the Clinton campaign and the state Dem Party knew about this for five weeks before the Denver Post informed Sanders.

The story is not clear when the Denver Post learned about it, but it suggests the Denver Post uncovered the error and shared it with the Clinton campaign and nobody else until yesterday. And that stinks, too.

The mistake is a minor shift with major implications. The new projection now shows the Vermont senator winning 39 delegates in Colorado, compared to 27 for Clinton.

Even if Clinton wins all 12 superdelegates in the state, Sanders can finish no worse than a split decision. It contrasts with prior projections from the Post, Bloomberg Politics and The Associated Press that indicated Clinton would probably win the majority of the 78 delegates in Colorado because of her support from party leaders with superdelegate status.

Yeah, and bleep the Democratic superdelegates. They shouldn’t exist.

The Colorado Republicans have a mystery system that resulted in a sweep for Ted Cruz. I’ve been trying to find out exactly how this happened and have yet to find a news story that explains it. It’s like shamans go to a sacred lake to receive visions.

Steve House, the chairman of the state’s Republican Party, is now sorry his cell phone number was made public.

The convoluted Nevada system potentially could give the state to Sanders, even though Clinton won more votes in the caucus. While I like that outcome I do question whether that’s a sensible way to choose a nominee. I’m hearing on the Web that something similar is happening in Missouri, although I found no corroboration for it in mainstream media.

The presidential primaries are more than just the marathon of hysteria, lies and spin we’ve come to loathe. They also are something of a sham; it’s increasingly obvious many states are set up to provide only an illusion of voter participation. It wasn’t that long ago that the parties chose the candidates in convention, of course. But if we’re going to go to a primary system for choosing presidential nominees, let’s go to a primary system. Let’s stop with this nonsense of holding what look like primaries but aren’t really.

The order in which states vote seems skewed to me, too. IMO the Democrats shouldn’t be allowing the Deep South to have so much power by voting first when you know those states are not going to help the Democrats in the Fall. Of course, the DNC knew this would help Hillary Clinton, so that’s how it was. If the situation had been reversed, the South would have voted last. This year’s system was set up to nominate Hillary Clinton, not to discover who the people want or who might have the best shot of taking the big blue states and “swing” states.

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Wisconsin, the Race Going Forward, and Hillary Clinton’s Patience

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Obama Administration

According to ABC News, Sanders won these demographics in Wisconsin:

  • He won 63 percent of men and 50 percent of women
  • He won liberals by 18 points
  • He won 78 percent of whites under age 45
  • He won 56 percent of nonwhites under age 45

Although you don’t hear this anywhere, he’s been winning a small majority of nonwhites age 29 and under just about everywhere except maybe the Deep South.  He also tends to do better than Clinton with younger women. He’s not so much the white man’s candidate as he is the younger people’s candidate.

You’ll hear over and over that he can’t win, but if you don’t count the superdelegates he’s only 250 delegates behind right now.  (By my count, Clinton has 1280 pledged delegates and Sanders has 1030.)  And that’s a lot, but making up that difference is not impossible, I don’t think, especially with several big states — New York, Pennsylvania, California — yet to be heard from. The most recent McClatchy poll has Sanders slightly ahead of Clinton nationally. But it’s going to be an uphill slog, no question.

Clinton is reacting to this as Clinton does, by going even more negative against Sanders than she was already.

One of her talking points is that Sanders isn’t a real Democrat. Like that matters, at a time when party identification is at a historic low.  Eric Levitz wrote,

It makes sense that Clinton isn’t sure if Sanders is a Democrat. But she needs to do everything in her power to make sure that he is one. Despite his independent label, Sanders has been a member of the Democratic caucus and a reliable vote for the Democrats throughout his time in Congress. He likens his political philosophy to that of Franklin Roosevelt. Ideologically, there is little distinguishing Sanders from Elizabeth Warren or Sherrod Brown: He should feel comfortable in today’s Democratic Party. More critically for Clinton, his supporters should. In Wisconsin last night, Sanders once again notched a double-digit victory on the strength of his support among independents. Clinton needs to keep those left-leaning voters in the Democratic fold.

I hear from Clinton supporters that the PUMAs, or enough of ‘em anyway, eventually made peace with Clinton’s loss and voted for Obama in 2008. But Obama didn’t treat the PUMAs the way Clinton treats Sanders supporters. For example, after the recent flap about accepting money from the fossil fuel industry, she said, ““I feel sorry sometimes for the young people who, you know, believe this. They don’t do their own research.” Yes, sneering condescension is a sure way to win people over.

This is from the Washington Times, but I’ve seen the quote elsewhere:

The Hillary Clinton campaign has “lost patience” and will start going after Sen. Bernard Sanders much harder and hoping to destroy his campaign, CNN reported Tuesday night.

In a report after Mrs. Clinton’s latest defeat at the hands of the Vermont socialist, reporter Jeff Zeleny said the Clinton campaign has decided that party unity can come later.

In the meantime, she will go after Mr. Sanders hard on issues such as gun control in the next two weeks before the New York primary, Mr. Zeleny said.

The question is, can Clinton win the nomination without doing it in such a scorched-earth way that it will hurt her chances in November? She needs those Sanders supporters she is alienating. Does she assume they’ll all be struck with amnesia? Some will vote blue no matter who, but a lot probably won’t (especially the independents and young voters) unless Clinton can give them a reason to do so.

Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver warned against such a strategy, noting that their primary has been much less personal than the Republican race.

“Do not destroy the Democratic Party to satisfy the secretary’s ambitions to be president,” he said on CNN.

If she wins the nomination the Dem Party may never recover.

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Hillary Clinton’s Remarkable Record of Accomplishments

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Obama Administration

Actual conversation I just had with a Clinton supporter about Clinton’s accomplishments; names changed to protect the guilty.

ME:  I don’t doubt she works her butt off. But what has she actually accomplished? Except a few ineffectual tweaks here and there?

JANE DOE: From US News & World Report of all places

USNEWS.COM|BY LESLIE MARSHALL

 ME: //Although her major initiative, the Clinton health care plan failed, it certainly set the groundwork for the health care law we have today, the Affordable Care Act.// Stopped reading there. Absolute crap. Her initiative didn’t lay the groundwork for anything except many years of not being able to even talk about health care reform. So no, her accomplishments don’t “speak for themselves.” Talk about resume padding.

JANE DOE: You should have continues reading

ME: Don’t waste my time with resume padding. Give me one real accomplishment. Something really impressive.

JANE DOE: I know it is hard to read. But you should try

ME:  I read very well. I am a writer. You’re the one who wants to persuade me. So give me one real accomplishment. Just one. How hard is that?

ME:  (Waiting while Jane Doe picks through the padding to find something that will stand up to scrutiny.)

JANE DOE:

Answer (1 of 12): As a young woman: * Hillary Rodham became engaged in politics from an…
QUORA.COM

JANE DOE:  And after you go through that you may google it for yourself as I have actual work to do

ME: I have actual work to do, too. And I asked you for just one accomplishment. You give me more resume padding. Obviously, you don’t know what she’s accomplished, either.

JANE DOE: it is not padding dear it is what she has accomplished/not accomplished/attempted to accomplish. Not my fault you simply cannot understand or accept.

ME: I’m seeing a lot of things that she took part in, such as playing “a leading role in investigating the health issues that 9/11 first responders were facing.” (I did read it, you see.) But that is not an “accomplishment.” That was an “effort” that went on long after she left the Senate, and which we’re still having to fight. Show me an “accomplishment.” Something she did that actually was, you know, “accomplished.”

ME: She did take part in getting some helpful legislation passed, but it’s all relatively picayune stuff for a senator.

SOMEBODY ELSE: one accomplishment, something impressive: she survived, she thrived, it takes a great deal of strength, character, fortitude, gratitude, love, (for a start) to thrive when you are both one of the most admired women in the world and the most hated in this country.

ME: I survived, too, but I’d make a crappy POTUS.
This is classic “cult of personality” stuff, folks. I acknowledge that Sanders as a Senator wouldn’t look that good if put to the same test, but Sanders supporters on the whole don’t harbor illusions that he could have “accomplished” much as a liberal independent in today’s Washington.  He did have some good and actual accomplishments as Mayor of Burlington, and I think his record of getting progressive amendments added to bills makes his legislative record look damn good compared to Clinton’s.

But I think that if you’re going to march around proclaiming that so-and-so has fought hard for her constituents and gotten stuff done, you ought have half a clue of what she actually did.
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The Clinton-Sanders Divide and Moral Foundation Theory

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Obama Administration, Sanders and Clinton

I am fond of Moral Foundation Theory. It isn’t a perfect explanation for everything that people think, but it explains a lot.

Moral Foundation Theory was developed by social psychologists to explain how people arrive at moral judgments. In brief, few if any of us simply think what we’re told to think by religion or by our cultures. Well, we do in a way, but it’s more complicated than we might think. Instead, our moral judgments arise from deeply subconscious intuitive orientations, and the social psychologists believe we are born pre-wired with these orientations.

Life experiences and cultural conditioning determine how our orientations develop. But someone who is pre-wired to be a prude, for example, is unlikely to completely escape being a prude no matter how he is raised. Judgments happen when we get emotional cues from the subconscious, and then we seize upon a narrative or some explanation for why we think the way we do.

When applied to politics, the Moral Foundations people list six orientations:

  • Care/harm
  • Fairness/cheating
  • Liberty/oppression
  • Loyalty/betrayal
  • Authority/subversion
  • Sanctity/degradation

A longer explanation:

1. Care/Harm – Being kind, gentle and nurturing and protecting people from harm.

2. Fairness/Cheating – Treating people with equality and justly, in proportion to their actions.

3. Liberty/Oppression – Giving people freedom and protecting them from tyranny.

4. Loyalty/Betrayal – Being patriotic, self-sacrificing and loyal to one’s group, family and nation.

5. Authority/Subversion – Respecting leadership, tradition and legitimate authority.

6. Sanctity/Degradation – Living in an elevated, noble way and avoiding disgusting things, foods and actions.

As the chart suggests, if your wiring causes you to value care and fairness over authority and sanctity, you are a liberal. Vice versa, you are a conservative.

Conservatives and centrists tend to value loyalty much more than liberals, and I’ve noticed that loyalty comes up a lot in arguments Clinton supporters make for their candidate. It’s very important to them to be loyal to the Democratic Party, and they are upset that Sanders is “not a real Democrat” but an independent who caucuses with Democrats. I hear this over and over again. Per Moral Foundations Theory, this pegs them as centrists if not conservatives.

They even argue that closed primaries are a better indicator of who should be nominated, because we shouldn’t be allowing independents to choose the Dem nominee.  The notion that we should nominate the candidate with the least appeal to independents rather flies in the face of common sense, to me, but I hear that one all the time.

Note also that Loyalty/betrayal rather quickly segues into Authority/subversion. We’re wading pretty deeply into conservative orientation at this point.

To Sanders supporters, this is a stupid argument. Who gives a hoo-haw whether Sanders is a “real Democrat”? The Democratic Party is a big part of the problem, anyway. Again, this is a common orientation for a liberal, who doesn’t place a high value on group loyalty for its own sake.

Sanders supporters are quick to accuse the Clinton camp of cheating. Given the messiness of many of the primaries and caucuses, this would be expected of liberals, who place a very high value on fairness and not cheating. They sometimes do go overboard, IMO, such as in the current flap over election, um, irregularities in Arizona. Everything I’ve read about it traces the problem to some incompetent Republican appointees; I haven’t seen anything that connects the problem to the Clinton campaign.

But then there were the PUMAs, die-hard Clinton supporters from 2008, who also charged the Obama campaign of stealing votes from Clinton. They were a fascinating crew. This article is from 2015:

The PUMAs—which, depending on the temperament of the person asked, stood for People United Means Action or, more likely, Party Unity My Ass—were a group of disillusioned, mostly Democratic voters who protested the nomination of then-Senator Barack Obama as the Democratic Party nominee in 2008. In their view, party leadership machinations (remember the “super delegates?”) robbed Clinton of the nomination.

In the weeks between Obama surpassing the delegate threshold and his formal nomination at the convention, these PUMAs appeared dozens of times on cable news to defend Clinton and to promise mischief at the nominating convention and in the general election. Their anger epitomized a wider unrest that has been mostly forgotten as Obama went on to win two general elections: In the days before the convention, only 47 percent of Clinton supporters said they were certain to vote for Obama.

I get a kick out of posting this whenever some Clintonista lectures Sanders supporters on how they are stupid if they won’t vote for Clinton in November. See above about more than half of Clinton supporters thinking about not voting for Obama. Somehow, he won anyway.

The PUMAs believe they were being cheated, but Obama supporters saw Clinton as the chief cheater. Remember the flap over the Michigan and Florida delegates? If not, see this article from 2008 that explains it pretty well. Very simply, Clinton attempted to skirt rules to claim delegates from Florida and Michigan who were not rightfully hers. Here are more articles touching on this controversy from the Maha Archives from 2008 that are fun to read in retrospect:

“Win, Lose, Draw,” January 16, 2008

“Over the Line,” January 25, 2008

“Just Say No,” May 22, 2008

“He Said No,” May 22, 2008

“Votes on the Votes,” May 31, 2008

“The Last Dog,” June 1, 2008

While the PUMAs believed they were being cheated, they were blind to the outrageous cheating that Clinton herself attempted in order to claim the nomination in 2008. In their own minds, apparently, whatever Hillary Clinton was justified … because why? She was the leader? Kind of a mash-up of Fairness/cheating and Loyalty/betrayal. I’d like to think most Obama supporters would not have been so blind if he had attempted such a thing.  Of course, he did not, so we will never know.

Anyway, I offer the hypothesis that the biggest cause of the divide is that Clinton supporters tend to be centrists and Sanders supporters, for the most part, are genuine lefties. So we’re all operating out of entirely different moral foundations. I see a lot of stupidity in both camps; some of the denser Sanders supporters tend to dredge up old, discredited right-wing smears of Clinton, for example, which of course is both stupid and counterproductive.

But it’s fascinating to me that Clinton supporters refuse to acknowledge issues from her actual policy speeches and record that ought to give any liberal pause. The AIPAC speech comes to mind, for example. And they won’t look at it; they won’t acknowledge there might be a problem. Perhaps that would be disloyal.

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The Fundraiser Lives

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Obama Administration

I found a place to live, and moving day is nigh. But I am still a bit short of paying for the move. So reluctantly I’m cranking up the Quickie Fundraiser once again for a brief time to get it over the top.

Here’s a PayPal link.

And for those who hate Paypal, here’s a GoFundMe link.

Go Fund Me!

Thank you all for your help and support over the years. You help keep me sane.

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The Many Roads That Led to Trump

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Obama Administration

Here are some articles to read together — “How the G.O.P. Elite Lost Its Voters to Donald Trump” by Nicholas Confessore; “How The Democratic Elite Betrayed Their Party And Paved The Way For Donald Trump” by Zach Carter; and “The truth about Donald Trump’s angry white men: Inside the media narrative that the media doesn’t understand” by Heather Digby Parton. And don’t miss “The Media, Nick Kristof Included, Still Doesn’t Understand Its Role in Creating Donald Trump” by Charles Pierce.

In brief, Confessore says that the working-class whites that Republicans counted on as their base finally realized that GOP elites were doing nothing for them. Carter writes that Democratic Party elites have nothing to offer them, either. Digby points out the Great Ironic Myth beloved of both parties and the media that salt-of-the-earth working-class whites are the only constituency that matters. And Pierce wrote that news media have been afraid of the truth for a long, long time.

Hence, Donald Trump.

It may seem hard to reconcile Carter’s and Parton’s opinions, since they appear to be saying the opposite — Parton is saying that the Dems have catered to white “Reagan Republicans” way too much, while Carter says the Dems threw the working class under the bus. But I think both perspectives are valid, within their own contexts. The bottom line is that the elites of both parties and of the news media covering national politics have no clue whatsoever what the lives of real working-class people are like. And this is true even as both parties (and the news media) pay lip service to how much they respect real working-class people.

But in truth this beloved constituency is treated in somewhat the same way 19th century Europeans treated their colonial subjects in Africa and Asia. They are increasingly seen as uncivilized and indolent, and possibly dangerous. They’re also a resource that often is easily exploited, as needed.

Confessore:

Many trace the rupture to the country’s economic crisis eight years ago: While Americans grew more skeptical of the banking industry in the aftermath, some Republicans played down the frustrations of their own voters.

While wages declined and workers grew anxious about retirement, Republicans offered an economic program still centered on tax cuts for the affluent and the curtailing of popular entitlements like Medicare and Social Security. And where working-class voters saw immigrants filling their schools and competing against them for jobs, Republican leaders saw an emerging pool of voters to court.

“They have to come to terms with what they created,” said Laura Ingraham, a conservative activist and talk-radio host. “They’ll talk about everything except the fact that their policies are unpopular.” …

… Most of these voters had long since given up on an increasingly liberal and cosmopolitan Democratic Party. In Mr. Trump, they found a tribune: a blue-collar billionaire who stood in the lobby of a Manhattan skyscraper bearing his name and pledged to expand Social Security, refuse the money of big donors, sock it to Chinese central bankers and relieve Americans of unfair competition from foreign workers.

If it weren’t for the fact that Trump seems to have no clue whatsoever how the federal government works, or to care about anyone but himself, one might argue a President Trump might not actually be that bad compared to other Republicans. Of course, we still don’t want to think about his foreign policy.

See also The White Man Burden.

On to Zach Carter:

But this only explains why the rabble are abandoning their well-heeled overlords in the GOP. It does not explain why they have embraced a xenophobic authoritarian instead of, say, the Democratic Party.

The most comforting rationale for Democratic true believers is that these voters are racist and ignorant and hostile to Democratic policies on social issues. That’s part of the explanation. But the full truth is a bitter pill for Democrats to swallow. Thomas Frank’s new book Listen, Liberal Or, Whatever Happened to the Party of People? documents a half-century of work by the Democratic elite to belittle working people and exile their concerns to the fringes of the party’s platform. If the prevailing ideology of the Republican establishment is that of a sneering aristocracy, Democratic elites are all too often the purveyors of a smirking meritocracy that offers working people very little.

Of course, we could point to the Affordable Care Act as something that has helped tons of working-class people, and yet those same working-class people want to see it destroyed.

Carter reviews Thomas Frank’s argument that the Dems pulled away from the working class in the 1970s.

Organized labor’s status was about to plummet within the Democratic Party. Gary Hart started winning Senate campaigns by denouncing Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal. Jimmy Carter lent his ear to deregulation advocates and appointed a Federal Reserve chairman bent on breaking union power. Frank quotes former Carter adviser Alfred Kahn:

“I’d love the Teamsters to be worse off. I’d love the automobile workers to be worse off. You may say that’s inhumane; I’m putting it rather baldly, but I want to eliminate a situation in which certain protected workers in industries insulated from competition can increase their wages much more rapidly than the average without regard to their merit or to what a free market would do.”

As fond as I am personally of President Carter, his economic policies were Reaganism Lite.

The idea that collective bargaining is incompatible with a free market would have been madness to FDR or Lyndon Johnson or Elizabeth Warren. But there’s also a not-so-subtle moral judgment about union workers embedded in Kahn’s econo-speak. The rednecks don’t deserve high wages because it takes money away from the good people. You know, the ones who went to college. This brand of elitism would come to dominate the worldview of Democratic Party leaders and the agenda of President Bill Clinton.

For most Democrats today, the Clinton years remain the good old days. The country prospered, incomes rose, and good-guy Bill survived all the insane political attacks from the Republican bad guys. Frank’s chapters on Clinton will make these Democrats feel terrible. Because for anyone who takes economic inequality seriously, the chief villain of the Clinton years wasn’t Ken Starr. It was Bill Clinton.

I’ll let you read the rest of this argument for yourself.

Both Digby and Charles Pierce criticize this Nic Kristof column, titled “My Shared Shame: The Media Helped Make Trump.” Sounds like he has a clue. Kristof’s perspectives aren’t bad, as far as they go. He admits media didn’t take Trump seriously and has not provided a context to readers/audience to explain how Trump’s various ravings might actually translate into real-world policy.

But Digby writes:

Evidently, Kristof believes that if you’re talking about racial, ethnic and gender diversity you aren’t talking about the jobless or the part of America that is struggling. Basically, he’s saying the media’s ignoring white men. Again. …

… Every single election cycle since 1968 the press has been obsessed with this mythical Real American who is always angry, always frustrated, always railing against the so-called elites because they allegedly only care about the racial minorities or the women or somebody other than them. Then we end up with a mass soul search in which we all come to understand that the key to the election is to address these people’s grievances.

Yes and no. The “angry white man” has become a stock character in American political theater. He gets a lot of attention in every election cycle, but at the same time no one seems to take him seriously. He is treated as a kind of anthropological specimen. He is reported on but not engaged with. His more flamboyant Joe-the-Plumber behaviors get on the teevee. But there’s no attempt to look deeply at the rage, what is fueling it, who is exploiting it.

(Aside: This is a delicate point, apparently, but I reject the notion implied in a lot of leftie political commentary that economic inequality is a white’s only issue. Yes, racial minorities and women bear additional burdens in our economy, but ultimately economic inequality is hurting all of  us.

I reject the idea that because racial minorities and women get the worst of it, as a result of systemic bias built into the system, that economic inequality can be ignored while we work on the systemic bias. That makes no sense to me. By the same token, of course, addressing economic inequality by itself doesn’t mean those systemic biases will go away.  Both issues need to be addressed together, seems to me.)

Finally, we get to Charles Pierce, who writes of Kristof’s column:

This is all my bollocks on a number of levels. First, there are people covering the plight of the disappearing middle class all over the place—in local papers, in academic studies, on the electric teevee machine, and even in Kristof’s own newspaper. There is a Democratic candidate for president whose entire damn campaign is based on the premise that the American middle class is going the way of the Anasazi. It’s a little late for the elite political media that boomed “free trade” and the miracles of the “globalized economy” in a “flat” world to suddenly look up and discover that a 55-year old steelworker in Indiana likely will not be getting a job writing code for the Next New Thing. It’s a little late for the elite political media to discover that de-unionization has not been altogether a boon in those few sectors of the industrial economy that haven’t been cored out or sent to Vietnam.

But, in any case, as far as Kristof’s main point goes, that’s not the story that that “we in the media” missed. For four decades now, ever since Ronald Reagan fed it the monkeybrains in the 1980, hitching his party to the snake-oil of supply-side economics and to the sad remnants of white supremacy, often as expressed through an extremist splinter of American Protestantism, the Republican Party has been afflicted with the prion disease that now has blossomed into utter public madness. That’s the story everyone was too blind, stupid, or afraid to tell. You know who in the media really created He, Trump? Anyone who laughed at Ronald Reagan’s casual relationship with the truth and with empirical reality. Anyone who blew off Iran-Contra. Anyone who draped C-Plus Augustus in a toga after 9/11. Anyone who cast Newt Gingrich as a serious man of ideas. Anyone who cast Paul Ryan as an economic savant, that’s who. Anyone who wrote admiring profiles of how shrewd Lee Atwater and Karl Rove were. Anyone who put Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck on the cover of national magazines based simply on their ratings. Anyone who put Matt Drudge on a public-affairs program. Anyone who watched the conservative movement, the only animating force the Republican party has, drive the party further and deeper into madness, they are the ones who share the blame. He, Trump merely has taken the bark off ideas that were treated as legitimate for far too long by far too many people, most of whom don’t really give a damn about the plight of the vanishing middle class except for its use as fuel for rage-based, self-destructive politics.

Let me repeat what Pierce says here: You know who in the media really created He, Trump? Anyone who laughed at Ronald Reagan’s casual relationship with the truth and with empirical reality. Anyone who blew off Iran-Contra. Anyone who draped C-Plus Augustus in a toga after 9/11. Anyone who cast Newt Gingrich as a serious man of ideas. Anyone who cast Paul Ryan as an economic savant, that’s who. Anyone who wrote admiring profiles of how shrewd Lee Atwater and Karl Rove were. Anyone who put Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck on the cover of national magazines based simply on their ratings. Anyone who put Matt Drudge on a public-affairs program. Anyone who watched the conservative movement, the only animating force the Republican party has, drive the party further and deeper into madness, they are the ones who share the blame.

Kristof’s mea kulpa should go back decades. Coverage of national politics has been junk for decades. Both parties have ignored the real problems of the American people. People march to polls and vote in ignorance.  And here we are.

 

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Happy Late Easter

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Obama Administration

Here’s my new Easter baby grandson, Dylan Richard O’Brien, who really was born yesterday.

dylan

Update: I think Dylan looks like his Auntie Erin.

dylan and erin

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