Tuesday, February 09, 2016

New Hampshire Now: What Voters Should Be Thinking About As They Make Their Final Decisions


Lots of progressive organizations are making a big deal out of Hillary Clinton taking a pledge to not cut Social Security. MSNBC Maddow blogger Steve Benen featured it on their blog yesterday. What's next? "Hillary Clinton is not still a Republican?" Yes, it's good she made the pledge-- second nature to progressives like Bernie but a real stretch to a multimillionaire corporatist like her-- especially when so many of her congressional Leadership Team back cuts. Benen explains why he thinks it's significant and a big deal.
In most of the major debt-reduction plans put forward in recent years -- the Grand Bargain, Simpson-Bowles, et al-- Democrats have been asked to accept some Social Security cuts as part of a broader compromise. For many on the left, such a provision is not only a deal-breaker, it’s also backwards, since they believe Social Security should be expanded, not cut.

And with this in mind, many progressive activists are looking for commitments from the presidential candidate: are Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton prepared to rule out Social Security cuts if elected? Sanders wasted no time in making that vow, tweeting on Friday, “I urge Sec. Clinton to join me in saying loudly and clearly that we will never cut Social Security.”
Clinton's husband has turned into a full-time attack dog against Bernie and he's dragging his name through the mud in the process. Unfortunately for Hillary, it's her name as well. Perhaps the Clinton's are desperate to get the election narrative to move away from her being a Wall Street pawn. Lee Fang's story in yesterday's Intercept is the last thing in the world the Clintons want voters to be talking about when they head for the polls today. And now her off-kilter campaign is buzzing about which incompetents are going to be fired on Wednesday or next week. Long time family retainer, sleazy lobbyist Tony Podesta-- brother of her equally sleazy campaign chairman-- closes Fang's story with a cringe-worthy quote. Discounting Bernie entirely, he predicted that Hillary would probably be the next president and that "whomever the next president is will not maintain the lobbying ban. It was a good applause line for Obama, but it didn’t seem to make much sense for policy." He asserted that Obama's ban on registered lobbyists will disappear if Hillary wins and that K Street will find a more welcome home in a Clinton White House. 

No doubt, since half her campaign is run by a pack of predatory, crooked lobbyists whose bread and butter depends on the success of the Clinton enterprise. She may want people to think she's the guardian of Obama's progressive policies but she doesn't count any of his anti-corruption policies, since her entire political career is based on corruption. The consultants and corporate lobbyists who run her campaign on every level help define what's wrong with American politics and many of them have worked hard and long to defeat all of the progressive policies she claims, thinly, she will protect. New Hampshire voters need to judge her on her disgustingly anti-progressive Senate record and on who's on her payroll, not on her laughable campaign promises.

Consultants associated with the Dewey Square Group, a lobbying firm that has been retained by business interests to defeat a variety of progressive reforms, are playing a major role in the Clinton campaign. Charles Baker III, the co-founder of Dewey, is a senior strategist and the campaign’s chief administrative officer. Michael Whouley, another Dewey co-founder, played an early role in advising Clinton’s plan for the current campaign by convening some of the very first strategy sessions. Senior Dewey officials Jill Alper and Minyon Moore are also close advisers and fundraisers for Clinton, while at least four other Clinton officials have worked at Dewey within the last four years. In addition, disclosures show that Clinton’s Super PACs Priorities USA Action and Correct the Record have also paid Dewey Square Group for a variety of services in this election.

Dewey, for instance, worked on behalf of the health insurance industry during the health reform debate, specifically to block the changes to Medicare Advantage that were critical for financing the Affordable Care Act. Medicare Advantage, which allows Medicare beneficiaries to use plans administered by private insurers, had long served as a cash cow for the health insurance industry. By one estimate, insurance companies over-billed the government by nearly $70 billion in improper payments over just a five year period. Dewey, which had been tapped to by health insurers to block cuts from the program starting in 2007, continued during the Obama era to lobby to protect Medicare Advantage, even as such reforms became a major part of how Democrats and the Obama administration sought to finance the Affordable Care Act.

One of the more deceptive components of the Dewey lobbying strategy was uncovered when an editor at the Lawrence, Massachusetts, Eagle-Tribune realized that the firm had worked quietly to place letters to the editor against cuts to Medicare Advantage under the names of elderly Massachusetts residents without their knowledge or consent.
That's the Hillary show-- always has been; always will be. She talks a good game to the voting public but what Charles Blow referred to in yesterday's NY Times as her "Half A Dream" may not be as horrible what the Republicans have in store, but is plenty horrible-- and not fit for a Democratic Party primary campaign. She represents the Blue Dog/New Dem contingent and her agenda is to go through the primary and the election and then revert to form. Young voters can smell it-- when is why only 17% of Democrats under 30 years old who caucused last week, picked her. (A stunning 84% went for Bernie, who, unlike Clinton, rings authentic. She defines inauthentic.) Clinton, Blow wrote, "represents much of what [young people] distrust or even despise. There is an aura of ethical ambiguity-- from the emails to the Wall Street paid speeches to the super PACs. (There is growing pressure for her to release the transcripts of those speeches and have the content of them compared to her public pronouncement.) There is the legacy of her military hawkishness, including her Iraq war vote. There is the articulation of her positions that are at odds with young folks’ aspirations and sensibilities, like saying Thursday, 'I don’t believe in free college,' and saying that she continues to support capital punishment. But possibly the most damaging of Clinton’s attributes is, ironically, her practicality. As one person commented to me on social media: Clinton is running an I-Have-Half-A-Dream campaign. That simply doesn’t inspire young people brimming with the biggest of dreams. Clinton’s message says: Aim lower, think smaller, move slower. It says, I have more modest ambitions, but they are more realistic."
Other lobbyists now closely associated with the Clinton campaign were active in the fight against Obama’s health reforms.

Heather Podesta is one of the most prolific fundraisers for the Clinton campaign, having personally raised at least $348,581, according to recently filed disclosures. In 2009 and 2010, Podesta worked as lobbyist for the health insurance company Cigna. While working for Cigna to influence the health reform bill, Cigna was one of several large health insurers to secretly provide over $86 million in secret payments used to air negative television and radio advertisements to defeat the law. Heather Podesta is one of several lobbyists now fundraising for the campaign who previously worked for insurance interests to influence health reform. Irene Bueno, a fundraiser who raised $26,675, lobbied on behalf of CareMore (a division of health insurer Anthem) and Blue Shield of California to influence health reform as the bill was being debated. Bueno and Podesta did not respond to a request for comment.

On financial reform, Clinton has similarly tied herself to Obama’s legacy. Speaking with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow last month, Clinton asserted that on Dodd-Frank, Obama’s financial reform legislation, she is one of the “many Democrats” who are “fighting to prevent it from being turned back.”

Clinton’s inner circle, however, has lobbied to help obstruct and roll back many of Dodd-Frank’s signature reforms.

The Benenson Strategy Group, the consulting firm run by Joel Benenson, now serving as the Clinton campaign’s chief pollster and strategist, was retained by the Financial Services Forum, a lobbying group for Wall Street interests such as Citigroup and Goldman Sachs. Lobbying records show the Financial Services Forum has worked over the years to weaken a variety of Dodd-Frank reforms. In 2013, the Financial Services Forum paid Benenson’s firm $273,459 to lobby on a number of rules that were mandated by Dodd-Frank, including capital requirements designed to prevent another financial crisis. Danny Franklin, a partner with the Benenson Stategy Group, wrote to The Intercept to say the Financial Services Forum is not currently a client of his firm, but declined to comment any further.

Last month, Benenson convened a conference call with reporters to “deride Bernie Sanders for airing an ad that criticized Wall Street firms and the politicians who accept their donations,” according to a report from International Business Times. As IBTimes reported, Benenson has also represented JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America, among other corporate clients.

Steve Elmendorf, a campaign adviser and fundraiser who has collected $30,505 for Clinton, was retained by Goldman Sachs as one of the bank’s “primary lobbyists” working to weaken the Dodd-Frank bill. Records show that after the bill was signed into law, Elmendorf continued to work on behalf of a number of Wall Street clients to ensure the implementation was favorable to financial industry interests. Elmendorf was tapped by Citigroup, for example, to help the House of Representatives pass the Swap Jurisdiction Clarity Act, a bill strongly supported by Republican leadership in Congress to allow banks to avoid financial regulations by moving some operations overseas-- a change that experts say could lead to another financial meltdown.

Elmendorf is one of many lobbyists who worked to influence Dodd-Frank now helping the Clinton campaign raise cash. Dewey co-founder Charles Baker worked on a lobbying team with DLA Piper’s Matthew Bernstein, another major Clinton fundraiser, for Citizen Financial Group to help the bank lobby on Dodd-Frank. Disclosures show the efforts included work on the Volcker Rule, derivatives regulations, and rules concerning overdraft fees, many of the top concerns for the banking industry. Arshi Siddiqui, a lobbyist with Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld who is currently helping to raise money for the Clinton campaign, worked to influence Dodd-Frank implementation on behalf of the Mortgage Bankers Association, according to disclosures. Tony Podesta, the brother of the Clinton campaign’s chairman and a fundraiser for the campaign, worked for Bank of America to influence Dodd-Frank, according to filings.
Remember, Hillary insists she's a progressive on one stage while her husband is down the road on another stage bragging that she's been praised by war criminal Henry Kissinger, not exactly a hero to progressives. Instead of paying attention to Bill Clinton's vitriolic and false claims about Bernie, New Hampshire voters should ask themselves if they want one of the two outcomes of voting for Clinton today: a thoroughly sleazy administration that will disgust Americans or a Republican victory in November. And if you don't live in New Hampshire or if you do and are absent today...
Goal Thermometer

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Monday, February 08, 2016

Does Rubio's Malfunction Mean The Brokered Convention Is The Only Hope The GOP Establishment Has Left?


Not even Herr Trumpf calling Cruz a "pussy" tonight at a rally in Manchester-- for not being as gung-ho as he should be about torturing people-- could knock the Rubio robot out of the news. But no one could have gotten more of a hard-on from Rubio's agony at the hands of Chris Christie Saturday night than Paul Ryan. Christie may not have ever persecuted Al Qaeda or the Taliban or ISIS successfully, but he absolutely skewered former coke runner and ex-gay prostitute Marco Rubio, even if not in a way that will save Christie's own moribund campaign. And speaking of moribund campaigns, Jeb, called for the overturn of Citizens United! What a crazy campaign this has turned into!

At the big Koch brothers conclave near Coachella 2 weekends ago, the GOP elite fundraising machine had finally settled on Rubio and get the message to Jeb to stop spending his money attacking the sweaty and robotic last hope. Apparently they didn't bother telling Christie. Sunday morning on CNN's State of the Union, Christie told Jake Tapper that the "march to anoint Senator Rubio is over... You can't trust Senator Rubio to be the nominee of this party... Rubio is unprepared to be president of the United States."

Writing a quasi-obituary for Rubio's campaign in New York after the debate, Ed Kilgore opined that all the "robotic debater... probably had to do to move out of New Hampshire as the Establishment darling who still appealed to conservative evangelicals and movement conservatives was to do as well in this debate as he generally has."
Christie, in the worst condition of any of the Establishment challengers, in fifth place in the polls and with no obvious path to the nomination, landed the strongest blows on Rubio we've seen yet. Worse yet, Rubio responded to a pounding from Christie for being a paper-thin senator with no accomplishments by playing the part to a T: robotically repeating talking points even as the New Jersey governor mocked him for robotically repeating talking points.

...[I]t didn't work, and when you added in the pounding he took for his universally acknowledged achilles heel, his immigration flip-flop, it was by far his worst debate performance, at the worst possible time, and against exactly the wrong competition. He recovered during the second half of the event, but you could still smell the cordite in the air.

At Koch Central they're looking back at Saturday night in full realization that the hopeless tub of lard from Jersey had publicly humiliated and all but obliterated their best chance to stop Trumpf (or, less horrible to them, Cruz) from walking away with the nomination without them having to resort to the kind of bloody, divisive convention maneuver likely to tear the GOP apart so thoroughly that even as flawed a Democratic candidate as Clinton could win against their billion dollar push to buy the White House. Christie even managed to get the audience-- made up primarily of donors, which is who gets tickets to these events-- to boo Rubio, whose body language showed he was melting inside. Worse yet, Herr Trumpf managed to put on a semi-respectable face through the whole event, compounding their problem.

[Funny put what the Jackie Gleason of the 2016 campaign said "that’s what Washington, D.C. does. The drive-by shot at the beginning with incorrect and incomplete information, and then the memorized 25-second speech that is exactly what his advisers gave him," he was also describing, accidentally, Clinton's ugliest debate technique as well. She used it, repeatedly, last week against Bernie and although it was never called out, it continued to turn voters off to her candidacy.]

This all leaves plenty of space for the Ayn Rand worshipper to call for unity and mouth mindless platitudes about right-wing aspirations and delusions, while establishment allies continue to ominously denigrate Trumpf and Cruz and he builds up his reputation as a Republican Man For All Seasons,
"With respect to Donald Trump, I just think he has a lack of experience in this space. And I just find his temperament and his sense of purpose to not be conducive to succeeding as president," Baker said. "And on Ted Cruz, he is already a forceful and articulate advocate for his point of view. But he hasn't demonstrated an ability to work with others."
Even if they can't bring guns into the Quicken Loans Arena in July... they can reject being pushed around and trampled on by The Man and instead smuggle in nitroglycerine and make explosives in the toilet.

UPDATE: Dixville Notch Voters Tell Hillary To End Her Bitter, Divisive Campaign Now

Dixville Notch, way up near Canada, voted at midnight. There were 9 voters. Bernie beat the dishonest establishment Democrat 4-0. And Kasich beat Herr Trumpf 3-2. No votes for Rubio, Cruz, Christie, Jeb or the other also-rans. But how predictive is this town? In 1960 Nixon beat JFK 9-0. Four years later Goldwater beat LBJ 8-1. And then in 1968 Hubert Humphrey beat Nixon 8-4. So do we look at the Dixville Notch results as a contrary indication? Well, more recently they correctly picked Bush over Kerry; Obama over McCain and... oops-- a 5-5 tie between Obama and Romney.

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Top 5 Reasons Why Hillary Will Not Reform Wall Street


-by j. darcy

In the most recent Democratic debate of what is quickly degenerating into the political counterpart of bare-knuckle boxing, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Bernie Sanders went at it toe-to-toe, all snippy like, to the delight of the assembled audience and anybody else not in the punditry business who happened to be watching. Which, if the ratings are to be believed, weren't quite as many as MSNBC probably would have liked. That said, there was one part that stuck out rather curiously.

It was the part where Hillary took apparent umbrage at the notion (oh, just floating around out there, somewhere...) that she could be, for all intents and purposes, some sort of Wall Street shill! Far be it from me to even suggest such an uncouth thing, and maybe Hillary had every right to steam a little (it is her political life she's fighting for, after all), and she could have couched her response in the kind of typically vapid political doublespeak that experienced pols of her ilk are known (and reviled) for, but she goofed (in my opinion, the political equivalent of the baserunner who gets picked off stealing). She took a step too far and got nipped before she could dive back in.

I mean, to wit, when Secretary Clinton said this: "...time and time again, by innuendo, by insinuation, there is this attack that he is putting forth, which really comes down to-- you know, anybody who ever took donations or speaking fees from any interest group has to be bought... I think it’s time to end the very artful smear that you and your campaign have been carrying out in recent weeks, and let’s talk… about the issues. Let’s talk about the issues that divide us."

Uh, come again?

Unless the Senator from Vermont has been speaking in tongues this whole time (yes, his accent is kinda New York-y, but not that New York-y), I don't think he's been using innuendo to insinuate much of anything. He's made his position about her Wall Street ties pretty plain, I think, as well as his ideas about Wall Street excess and what needs to be done about it. But her use of the term "artful smear" is where she let herself be picked off. If Hillary is claiming that Bernie telling the truth about her generous Wall Street backing is a "smear," isn't she pretty much saying he's lying? And if Bernie's whole platform is built around the need for Wall Street reform and that he's the guy to do it, by hinting he's fibbing on her, (misleading people, mischaracterizing her...take your pick) then she's really saying his whole platform is a lie. He's not the guy who will fix Wall Street, she is! How will she do it? In nice, easy-to-swallow bits and pieces, of course. Slow and steady...

Or so it would seem. With that in mind, here are, in no particular order, a few reasons why we would be unwise to hold our breath waiting:


Among the crowning achievements of the New Deal was the Banking Act of 1933 (commonly known as the Glass-Steagall Act). In plain English it legally separated commercial banking from investment banking. Because it was understood that type of shenanigans was directly responsible for the Crash of '29 and its aftermath, this was considered sound public policy for at least the next thirty years or so, until Wall Street went to work on it. President Clinton signed the repellent piece of legislation repealing that law in 1999. Hillary was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2000. I'm not suggesting a quid pro quo here, quite the contrary. It's fair to say that when she took the oath of office, she did so knowing the guys on the Street owed her and her husband a favor-- a BIG one.


I remember when Barack Obama got elected with all the hope-y, change-y stuff back in 2008. I was as pumped up as anybody until I heard that he was bringing back...Larry Summers. Much of the bad economics advice President Clinton listened to came from him (and others like him), and the economic policies of both Presidents Clinton and Obama showcase his misguided influence. (He was this close to becoming Fed Chairman in '13 until rank-and-file lefties-- pretty much anybody who reads this blog-- collectively pitched a fit). If Hillary makes it, do not be surprised to see this guy make yet another comeback. (Hint: dude is very Wall Street-friendly)


For a few years during the Clinton Administration, she was the chairperson of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). She had misgivings about some exotic financial products called over-the-counter derivatives, and attempted to sound what in retrospect seems like a fairly mild alarm... but that was all Deputy Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, among other government bigshots friendly to Wall Street, needed to hear. He threw his not inconsiderable weight around, and didn't stop until he had essentially rendered her and her office meaningless. Born all but prophesied what would wind up happening in 2008 if those little buggers remained unregulated, but Larry was having none of that. Getting rid of her was ultimately one more thing Wall Street owed the Clintons for.


So said, more or less, one of the Clinton campaign's economics advisors back in June. (Doesn't last summer seem so...quaint compared to where this campaign is now?) This is a big deal for obvious reasons, and the fact that Hillary seems to regard that pesky old Depression-era law like something akin to Bubonic plague, is telling in and of itself. Repeal of that law opened the floodgates to much of the irresponsible behavior that characterized the early 2000s in the world of high-finance. While Hillary to her credit (?) is on record as supporting Dodd-Frank, critics charge that this new law was not enough to prevent another financial crisis or more bailouts. A common sense solution would be to bring back Glass-Steagall, but that is something Wall Street specifically does not want and which, to date, Hillary will not get out in front of.


Some critics argue that Bernie Sanders is a one-trick pony for hammering away at this, but since Wall street folderol is the centerpiece of his campaign (and his opponent's greatest weakness), why shouldn't he? It's literally the one thing that Hillary can't say much, if anything of substance, about-- namely, what to do about the guys (and their interests) who have helped make it possible (at least financially) for her to be in the position she is in right now? It's like her Achilles heel, her glass jaw, that problem. At least two noteworthy bloggers on this very site have reeled off all sorts of ginormous dollar amounts with respect to Wall Street's largesse to the Clintons over the years. I won't rehash any of that because it makes my head hurt, but take my word for it-- it's a LOT. I'll give you a hint-- it rhymes with Goldman Sachs.


While we all understand that Bernie Sanders and his devoted minions are making it next to impossible for Hillary to run the laid back, feelgood campaign she wishes like hell she could run, there's no getting around the fact that this is fair game for Bernie to question her on, and not merely to score cheap political points. A lot of people in the long run felt pain as a result of the economic policies of the Clinton Administration, to which Hillary, whether she likes it or not, is terminally joined at the hip. Sanders has repeatedly asserted in so many words that he represents that faction of the electorate, and unless somebody should surreptitiously catch him somewhere acting out scenes from John Waters' Pink Flamingos (or something equally disturbing), she's going to have to continue deflecting those questions for the foreseeable future. Her bona fides as a "progressive" Democrat ring hollow to most people, politically savvy and otherwise, and the everybody-does-it defense will never explain away her ties to big campaign donors, especially running against an opponent who clearly does not and presumably will not play ball.

Who's up for some hippie punching?

 Goal Thermometer

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Can Anyone Fill Grayson's And Edwards' Shoes In The House? Meet Pramila Jayapal


Two of our very first Blue America candidates, a decade ago, were Alan Grayson and Donna Edwards, who have been inspirations from the moments they ran, won and started pushing their strong progressive agendas in the House. These are two admirable people who have made a substantive difference in a screwed up, largely dysfunctional Congress. Grayson, in fact, passed more legislation than any other member of Congress, even with the House under GOP control! Now both Donna Edwards and Alan Grayson are leaving the House and running for the Senate. (You can contribute to either or both of them here on the Blue America Senate page.)

But our concern this week is about who will replace their powerful, brilliant leadership in the House. And we think we found her: Washington state Senator Pramila Jayapal. She's running for the seat her political ally, Jim McDermott, is retiring from in Seattle. It's a deep blue district and the winner of the Democratic primary is virtually guaranteed the congressional seat. (Obama won the district with 80% in 2008 and 79% in 2012.)

Senator Jayapal has been a lot like Grayson, in fact, strongly progressive and reform-minded and known as a serious legislator who works across the aisle to pass sensible legislation, even in a state Senate controlled by the GOP. "I'm running for Congress," she told us Friday, "because our system is rigged for corporations and the wealthy, but we can fight back. The time has come to tackle this inequality: we need to raise the minimum wage, expand Social Security and Medicare, and ensure debt-free college for young people across America."

And if you think that sounds familiar... yes, she has officially endorsed Sanders. "The vision has to be to fundamentally change the system." And when it come to the divisive issue of immigration her thinking is values-based and she pointed out that "we're stronger because of our diversity; being American is defined by common beliefs, not common blood; by faith in each other, not in any one faith-- that are at stake in this election. The choice before us is whether to continue to be a pluralistic society, where new ideas and varying perspective allow our cultural, economic and civic life to prosper as it has for 250 years-- or to cower and retreat.  
America is strong because we continually rise above the hate-- not always in time, not always gracefully, and we will certainly continue to be tested. But still, we recognize that one of the truly defining factors of America-- different than any other country in the world-- is that we are a nation that has built its identity on the contribution of immigrants from all over the world, many who have escaped the worst terrors in order to gain freedom.
This week John Nichols pointed out for readers of The Nation that "Jayapal came to prominence more than a decade ago, when she founded the group Hate Free Zone to battle intolerance in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. 'When September 11 happened, I just thought to myself that everything is going to change for people who look like me,' said Jayapal, an immigrant from India. The group evolved into OneAmerica, an activist organization that focuses on advancing 'the fundamental principles of democracy and justice at the local, state, and national levels by building power within immigrant commu­nities in collaboration with key allies.' ... She won’t be pulling any punches, as was obvious at an announcement event where she ripped into 'people like Donald Trump [who] are whipping up hate and fear across the country, resulting in a rise of anti-Muslim violence.' [She] is amplifying messages that have been taken national by Sanders... 'The vision has to be to fundamentally change the system,' says Jayapal, who argues that 'corporations and special interests have their voice in Congress, and they have too many members scared of their power. What Congress needs is a progressive voice who is unafraid to take on these powerful interests-- who is willing to fight for all Americans, not just the wealthiest 1 percent.'"

We're proud of all the Blue America candidates and we feel certain that Pramila Jayapal will stand strong like our favorite incumbents from Grayson, Edwards and McDermott, who are leaving, to Barbara Lee, Raul Grijalva, Mark Pocan, Ted Lieu, who will need courageous allies. Please consider contributing to her campaign here on the Blue America main page.

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Are the Wheels Coming Off in the Democratic Primary? A Roundup.


Carl Bernstein explains why the White House is "horrified" at the state of the Clinton campaign, which they (and Bernstein) favor.

by Gaius Publius

This is a roundup of recent pieces with a common theme — the wheels may be coming off the effort to keep the insider game alive on the Democratic side. Note, for example, in the Bernstein portion, the great concern by the White House that Hillary may not be able to take the crown.

I didn't expect to see this explosion of concern. Putting all this in one place makes interesting reading. I do encourage clicking through. The sections I touch on are listed below, if you want to skip around, please do. The assembly of all this worry is interesting. Our sections are:

◾ Reuters: Sanders / Clinton race in "dead heat"
Carl Bernstein: White House "horrified" ... Clinton "blowing up" her campaign
Bill Curry: "It’s almost over for Hillary ... a mass insurrection against a rigged system"

For the latter sections, click the links above to go there directly.

Reuters: Sanders, Clinton in "dead heat"

Let's start with this, the data, hot off the Reuters presses:
Exclusive: Presidential hopefuls Sanders, Clinton in dead heat - Reuters/Ipsos poll

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has erased Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's wide lead for the Democratic presidential nomination since the start of year, putting the two in a dead heat nationally, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.

Clinton leads Sanders 48 percent to 45 percent among Democratic voters, according to the poll of 512 Americans, conducted Feb. 2-5 following the Iowa caucus. The poll has a credibility interval of 5 percentage points.
The data sets the stage. Now for the gnashing of teeth, which strongly indicates these polls aren't very far off.

Carl Bernstein: White House "horrified" that "Hillary Clinton is blowing up her campaign."

For reaction, let's begin with Carl Bernstein, speaking recently on CNN. This is enormously interesting. Note that Bernstein, though clear-eyed about her vulnerabilities, is coming to this as a Hillary Clinton supporter — not a criticism, just something to note. He's open about that in the interview.

I hope you have time to read or listen to this through. Bernstein is well connected, and he has a lot to pass on (italicized emphasis and ellipses mine):
Bernstein: There is a huge story going on. I've spent part of this weekend talking to people in the White House. They are horrified at how Hillary Clinton is blowing up her own campaign.

And they're worried that the Democrats could blow -- they are horrified that the whole business of the transcripts, accepting the money -- that she could blow the Democrats' chance for White House. They want her to win. Obama wants her to win.

But Sanders has shown how vulnerable she is. These ethical lapses have tied the White House up in knots. They don't know what to do. They're beside themselves. And now, you've got a situation with these transcripts a little like Richard Nixon and his tapes that he stonewalled on and didn't release.
At this point CNN put up a graphic — "Total Hillary Clinton speech income from "big banks" 2013-2014: At least $1.8 million for at least 8 speeches" (highlight theirs).

Then the host asks, "You're saying this is akin to the [Watergate] tapes?" (a significant question given Bernstein's role in Watergate). Bernstein replies:
Bernstein: No, what I'm saying that if she stonewalls on it and does not release them and enables the Republicans to paint her again into a corner. This is not just a vast right-wing conspiracy that is causing her problems. She has caused herself these problems. The server is not the vast right-wing conspiracy. It's Hillary Clinton deciding that she could put a server in her closet, the same with these transcripts, the same with accepting this money in a presidential year when she knew that she was going to probably be running for president.

To the people in the White House I talked to, it is unfathomable that she did this and has endangered President Obama's legacy. As I say, they are terrified at this point and they want Bernie Sanders to not do well [in New Hampshire] on Tuesday and Hillary to do well. Because if this keeps going like that, they see real problems ahead.
The host asks about Clinton's shrugging defense of having been paid $600,000 by Goldman Sachs, "I don't know; that's what they offered."
Host: "So what should she have said?"

Bernstein: "I can't advise her. Maureen Dowd in her column tomorrow calls that answer obscene. ... Some of this is unanswerable because it represents such terrible judgment, which is what people in the White House are saying. They're just dumbfounded by this and want her to get back on track."
The host then offers that maybe Clinton didn't know she was going to run when she made those speeches. The reply:
Bernstein: "It's disingenuous. She knew she might [run for president]. And this has been a problem I say in the last pages of "A Woman in Charge," my book on Hillary written before she ran the last time, she has had a difficult problem with the truth going back to the Arkansas years. It's not about outright lying. It's about obfuscation. It's about not being transparent.

[Note this heavy praise] "She is so qualified to be President of the United States. She is so much in the right lane on Democratic issues, she has the experience, and yet she keeps tripping herself up. That's what she did in the last campaign, and that's what she's been doing in this campaign.

"She's got to get herself righted, meaning up-straight and moving forward. She might have to show some humility and start explaining that she has exercised some terrible judgment here. I don't know what the answer is for her to do, except to keep going forward, but she's got a big problem here.
And then comes this exchange on Sanders' "socialism," which Bernstein — conventionally — sees as a problem. The host pushes back on that.
Host: "Where does this go?"

Bernstein: "I don't know where it goes. I think the good news for Hillary Clinton in some ways, that Bernie Sanders, a self-described "socialist," is out of touch with mainstream America..."

Host: "But that wasn't reflected in Iowa..."

Bernstein: "Exactly, and particularly with young people he is tuning in and touching a nerve in mainstream America and with young women, which is Hillary Clinton's worst nightmare.

"In fact, I think you have to go back to the candidacy of Bobby Kennedy in 1968 -- and I don't want to care Sanders and Kennedy in some regards, but this is a movement. He's right, Sanders. He has started a movement. And that, too, has got the White House very upset."
Keep that "touching a nerve with young women" in mind, especially as you read about the "BernieBro problem" in the Clinton-supporting press. Bernie has far less of a BernieBro problem than Clinton has a "Feminists for Bernie" problem, based on the available data so far.

The host then raises the question that the Clinton campaign keeps raising as their differentiator — (paraphrased) "Pragmatism vs. passion. Doesn't she have that passion?"
Bernstein: "The last pages of my book are about her passion, her passion for America, her passion for doing good things for the people of this country ... and she has that fire, she has that passion, but so does Bernie Sanders. ...It's possible she is not in tune with her time and her country and her party. And somehow she has to get herself aligned with whatever this new strain of economic populism.

"She's got a problem. If she's cozy with Goldman Sachs, and she's got transcripts that she can't release that show her cozying up to Goldman Sachs, it's a problem. It would help her if she could get these transcripts out there. She's said, judge me by her record. Part of her record is what she has said to these investment bankers in these meetings, and we ought to be able to know what she has said."
I like Carl Bernstein and don't begrudge him his insider perspective, especially since he's doing a good honest job as a reporter. His bottom line — "It's possible she is not in tune with her time" — is fairly astute. Especially when coupled with "If she's cozy with Goldman Sachs, and she's got transcripts that she can't release that show her cozying up to Goldman Sachs, it's a problem."

And note, he wants those transcripts released as well, and for the right reason. Voters really do have a right to read them.

Bill Curry: "It's almost over for Hillary. This is a mass insurrection"

Now Bill Curry writing in Salon. He talks first about the establishment-rigged process (my emphasis):
It’s almost over for Hillary: This election is a mass insurrection against a rigged system 

It would be hard to overstate what Bernie Sanders has already achieved in his campaign for president, or the obstacles he’s had to surmount in order to achieve it. Not only has he turned a planned Hillary Clinton coronation into an exercise in grass-roots democracy, he’s reset the terms of the debate. We are edging closer to the national conversation we so desperately need to have. If we get there, all credit goes to Bernie.

Many of those obstacles were put in place by Democratic national party chair and Clinton apparatchik Deborah Wasserman Schultz. Without pretense of due process, Schultz slashed the number of 2016 debates to six, down from 26 in 2008, and scheduled as many as she could on weekends when she figured no one would be watching. ...

Sanders got bagged again in Iowa, this time by a state party chair, one Andrea McGuire. Like Schultz, McGuire’s specialty is high-dollar fund raising, and like Schultz she was deeply involved in Clinton’s 2008 campaign. Under the esoteric rules of the Iowa Democratic caucuses, and after a string of lucky coin tosses, Clinton eked out a 700.52 to 696.86 margin, not in votes cast but in a mysterious commodity known as “delegate equivalents.” ...

All evidence indicates Sanders won the popular vote [in Iowa]. It isn’t a minor point. If the public knew he won the only vote anybody understands or cares about, Clinton wouldn’t be “breathing a sigh of relief,” she’d be hyperventilating. McGuire refuses to release vote totals. She says keeping them a secret is an Iowa tradition. So what if it is?
And about the rigged press coverage:
Throughout the campaign the press has been nearly as big an obstacle for Sanders as the party. Even jaded political junkies were startled when the Tyndall Report exposed the media blackout of Sanders. In 2015, ABC News devoted 261 minutes to the 2016 campaign. Donald Trump got 81 minutes. Bernie Sanders got 20 seconds. Nearly as harmful is the dismissive tone of the cable commentariat, and I don’t mean just Fox News.

CNN has larded up ‘the best political team on television’ with partisans, including Bush acolyte Ana Navarro and Trump minion Jeffrey Lord. On the Democratic side, Paul Begala advises a Clinton Super PAC; David Axelrod was Obama’s guru; Donna Brazile a DNC chair; Van Jones an Obama staffer; David Gergen a Clinton advisor. All are bright, honorable people, but it’s hard to report on a peasant revolt from inside the castle. (The network just added Sanders sympathizer Bill Press to the mix, but it’s far too little and too late.)

Things aren’t all that different over at MSNBC though to its credit it lets reporters do more of its analysis. ... The whole press corps still treats politics as theater or sport. No one ever explains policy on a post-debate show.
What makes the media blackout of Sanders an even greater travesty is that it was imposed over a period of many months in which he led all 21 other candidates in both parties in nearly every general election poll. When a self-described socialist leads every poll, something historic is happening. ... Even horse-race reporters should have seen that a story so big ...
Something historic is indeed happening, or about to happen. There's much more on that subject in the piece. Curry dismisses Clintons's three main arguments (as he sees them) — her electability, her greater ability to govern, and her greater "loyalty to the [Democratic] establishment."

And yet, with all that rigging and all that obfuscation of the core economic issues:
My guess is the middle class sees what [Sanders] sees and wants what he wants: a revolution. If he can continue to drive the debate, they may get one.
At which point, you should refer back to Curry's headline. "It's almost over for Hillary." I'm not so sure yet, but Curry — and maybe Bernstein — appear much more certain.

Where We Stand Now

Nationally, Democratic voters had been supporting Clinton by a more than 2-to-1 margin at the beginning of the year. Sanders has narrowed that lead considerably over the past several weeks, to a "dead heat" in the most recent polls.

I'm not ready to wring my Sanders hands the way the White House is wring their Clinton hands, but I do want to see what's happening in the South. I'm optimistic that the tide is turning, but we're still in the second quarter (sorry for the sports metaphor) with the momentum just beginning to turn our way. We'll see.

This is the most interesting election of your life, I'm willing to bet. Also the most consequential.

(Blue America has endorsed Bernie Sanders for president. If you'd like to help out, go here; you can adjust the split any way you like at the link. If you'd like to "phone-bank for Bernie," go here. You can volunteer in other ways by going here. And thanks!)


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Kathleen Matthews: AKA Kathy Cunningham, Republican Political Operative


-by Jeffrey Hearn

Kathleen Matthews has had to face questions regarding her true political identity since day one of her campaign for the open congressional seat in Maryland's Eighth District. Since before then, actually, since her personal campaign contribution to conservative Republican Senator Roy Blunt-- during this election cycle-- was widely reported even before she formally announced her candidacy.

On the day she announced, therefore, she went out of her way to stress that she was "a lifelong Democrat." She had been inspired to get involved in politics, she said "by a local Congressman where I went to college, who fought against the Vietnam War, who looked at the incumbent President, Richard Nixon, and looked at the corruption that was going on, and fought for his impeachment."

When pressed, she eventually named that congressman: Pete McCloskey. What she did not say that day, and never says when she uses this anecdote on the stump in this Democratic primary, is that McCloskey was a Republican, and she was, according to reporting at the time, McCloskey's co-campaign manager for his 1974 general election campaign against Santa Clara Mayor Gary Gillmor, the Democratic nominee in California's 12th District that year, and that she continued to serve McCloskey after the election as a press assistant in his Palo Alto office.

Pete McCloskey was the kind of Republican who was usually referred to as a liberal Republican if they were on the east or west coast, and as a moderate Republican if they came from the Midwest; the kind of Republican congressman who was a loyal follower of Minority Leader Gerald Ford in the House in those days.

And it is true that he was an opponent of the Vietnam War. In 1972 he even entered the Republican primary in New Hampshire as a protest candidate opposed to sitting President Richard Nixon before turning his attention back to getting himself reelected to Congress.

It was said at the time that McCloskey had managed to win his own congressional primaries in 1972 and 1974 "with Democratic volunteers, money, and votes." The Republican primary in 1974, in a newly drawn district, was an especially close call. McCloskey won by just over 800 votes after his campaign persuaded 4000 Democrats to re-register as Republicans so they could vote for him in that GOP primary. One thousand of those Democrats-turned-Republican came from the Stanford campus.

"Lifelong Democrat" Kathleen Matthews-- maiden name: Kathy Cunningham-- was McCloskey's co-campaign manager in that race. And she was a student at Stanford University at that time. Was she one of those Stanford Democrats who re-registered as a Republican in an effort to help McCloskey survive a tough primary? How could she not have been?

The general election contest against Democrat Gillmor would prove a cakewalk by comparison. McCloskey routed Gillmor 69.1% to 30.9%.

By the spring of 1975 there were reports of growing dissatisfaction with McCloskey within the antiwar community at Stanford as a result of his support for funding for the short-lived Lon Nol regime in Cambodia, his support for bombing the Khymer Rouge at the time of the Mayaquez incident, and his failure to stand with the antiwar community during consideration of the Vietnam Humanitarian Assistance and Evacuation Act of 1975.

It also didn't help when McCloskey added Watergate "plumber" Egil "Bud" Kroegh to his payroll in 1975, though Matthews did her best to spin the story in her boss's favor: "Kathy Cunningham, press assistant in McCloskey's Palo Alto office, said staffers had received little student reaction to Krogh's hiring."

It was not even clear if McCloskey would run for re-election to his House seat in 1976. There was talk of a Senate run against incumbent Democrat John Tunney. McCloskey probably wouldn't be making a decision until the fall, Matthews told the press. "So far, none of the other candidates are his type of Republican." But by fall Kathleen Matthews had graduated and headed off to Washington, D.C.

"I was inspired by a local Congressman,where I went to college, who fought against the Vietnam War, who looked at the incumbent President, Richard Nixon, and looked at the corruption that was going on, and fought for his impeachment…" (Kathleen Matthews, campaign launch event, Silver Spring, Maryland, June 3, 2015)

All of that is true.

But it is a half-truth.

And it's not the only one.

Jeffrey Hearn is an historian by training. He is also a longtime movement progressive and a longtime resident of Maryland’s Eighth District. And, of course, he is a Jamie Raskin supporter, something he has previously blogged about here. And, of course, Blue America has endorsed Jamie. You can contribute to Bernie's campaign by tapping the thermometer below.

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Sunday, February 07, 2016

Alex Law-- Fighting Back Against Corruption In South Jersey... On A Bernie Platform


If Bernie Sanders wasn't running for president this year, Alex Law would still be a compelling candidate for Congress in the badlands of South Jersey where politics are under the control of the state's most corrupt family, the Norcross Machine, something that harkens back to past darker decades. When the grotesquely corrupt retainer who had been serving as the Machine's Member of Congress, Rob Andrews, was given the option of leaving Congress or going to prison for improper use of campaign funds, he resigned and Boss Norcross stuck his right-wing younger brother into the seat. Andrews is now chief a lobbyist and Norcross is one of the House Democrats most frequently crossing the aisle to vote against President Obama and against progressive governance. His first vote after being handed his new job was in favor of the Keystone Pipeline and he is widely considered the most anti-environmental Democrat in the House-- as he was in the New Jersey legislature.

Last week the Political People Blog interviewed Alex for their podcast about his June 7 primary campaign. You can listen to it above and, if you want to, contribute to his campaign on the Blue America ActBlue page.
Alex Law is 24 years old, seriously progressive and has launched a primary challenge against Representative Donald Norcross, who he says is "the most conservative Democrat in New Jersey," His unique campaign and intellectual approach has sparked quite an interest in the Bernie Sanders supporter, particularly among progressive young people who view him as nothing less than a political idol. In a recent interview on the Political People Podcast, however, Alex contended that there is no magic recipe behind the success of his campaign, "really, all that is unique about our campaign here in South Jersey, is that we are putting people first."

Alex with Marianne Williamson in NJ-01
Alex isn’t kidding when he says that his primary opponent, Donald Norcross, has "voted with the Republicans on every controversial issue since he has been in office." Some of the whole spectrum of issues which Norcross has aligned himself with the GOP on include; the Keystone Pipeline, USA Freedom Act, GMO Dark Act, the Iran Deal, and various Defense spending votes.

Law also makes no secret of his support for Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. "My values, simply put, are progressive," he told the Political People Podcast, "I am the only only person running for federal office in New Jersey to have endorsed Bernie Sanders for President. I did so (endorsed Bernie Sanders) because I believe in similar progressive values such as campaign finance reform, sustainable energy student loan reform and criminal justice reform."

Law’s campaign was inherently different before he even began due to the fact that, similar to Bernie Sanders, he has decided to run a campaign that is 100% SuperPAC free. In a country, where money has systematically corrupted the political system to such an extent that elections now revolve around campaign donations, this is an extremely brave and risky move. Alex, however, doesn’t believe this principled stance will have any implications when it comes to his primary in New Jersey, "[What impact will the decision not to establish SuperPACs have on the election]. Very little.  Without the support of SuperPACs, millionaires and billionaires and instead, with real money from real people-- we can win this thing."

Alex doesn’t deny he faces a huge challenge. The latest Monmouth University poll has Hillary Clinton, who is a fundamentally different candidate to Law, beating Bernie Sanders, who Law is backing and ideologically similar to, in New Jersey by a large margin of 17 points. If he is to win, Law needs to dismantle a ruthlessly efficient political machine created by the Norcross family which has lucrative donations and big name backers behind it. Law, however, is not discouraged, "The only reason he (Donald Norcross) is currently in office right now is because of his brother George. He is someone who is only a Democrat because if he was a Republican he wouldn’t be able to win in NJ. And I firmly believe that if we can get passionate supporters to turn up, he can be beaten."

Where does he stand on topical issues? Alex has said he supports the Black Lives Matter movement and that the phrase “All Lives Matter” is nonsense. He believes firmly in campaign finance reform and has said that, eventually, he wants a constitutional amendment to deal with the issue of campaign donations and the resulting implications. He is for legalizing marijuana as he says it is “used to bring young, black males into the [prison] system."

If you would like to contribute to Alex Law’s campaign you can do so at his website’s donations page.

You can follow his campaign on his FacebookTwitter or on his email list.
You can also contribute to Alex's campaign on the ActBlue page that is dedicated to congressional candidates who have endorsed Bernie Sanders and who are running on the same issues he is by tapping in the thermometer below:
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If You Don't Think Hillary Is Part Of The Establishment, You Should Probably Go Back To Fifth Grade


I hope you read yesterday's post, The Pervasive, Sickening Impact Of Wall Street On Politics, which made the case-- strictly based on cold, hard facts-- for why Hillary should drop out immediately and endorse Bernie for president-- for the sale of the country. She won't ,of course; she is a breathtakingly corrupt careerist. No one even defends her except people on her payroll, people who want to get a job in her administration or those who, tragically, refuse to look at her horrifying public record of deceit and corruption. A few minutes ago one of her morons on Twitter repeated that "None of Bernie's ideas are feasible!," exactly what conservatives said about...
The American Revolution
The Bill of Rights and the forging of a democracy
Universal white male suffrage
Public education
The emancipation of the slaves
The national park system
Food safety
The breakup of monopolies
The Homestead Act
Land grant universities
Rural electrification
Women’s suffrage
The abolition of child labor
The eight hour workday
The minimum wage
Social Security
Civil rights for minorities and women
Voting rights for minorities and the poor
Cleaning up our air, our water, and toxic dump sites
Consumer product safety
Medicare and Medicaid
Hillary is just a year older than I am-- let's say we're the same age. When far right extremist nut Barry Goldwater was running for president, I was smart enough to back LBJ, while she was campaigning for Goldwater. A couple of years later I was at a state university and president of the Young Democrats and she was at a 7 Sisters school and president of the Young Republicans. Many years later I was offered a position on the Board of Directors of McDonald's. It would have been very financially advantageous but it just took me 30 seconds to turn it down. She served on the Board of Directors of Walmart. I know her type... I know her type real well, and the times I've met her in person, one-on-one, I've been aware I was in the presence of a not very nice person.

Iowa's corrupt Democratic Party chair grudgingly releases new results, although still unverified

A few days ago Conor Friedersdorf, writing for The Atlantic went beyond just commenting on the absurd moment in the Democratic debate "when one of America’s most powerful insiders took umbrage at an accurate characterization of who she represents" and denied she is part of "the establishment." He points out that she's very much like a garden variety GOP insider in this regard.
Of course, “the establishment” has no agreed-upon meaning. By Wikipedia’s definition, “a dominant group or elite that holds power or authority in a nation or organization,” Bernie Sanders qualifies. He has spent 26 years in Congress, 10 as a senator. As he points out repeatedly, he sat on the committee that wrote Obamacare. And he was chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. On the other hand, he’s the longest-serving independent in the history of Congress and cast lonely votes against establishment endeavors as popular as the Persian Gulf War and the Patriot Act. He disliked Alan Greenspan long before the financial crisis. He’s fiercely critical of America’s existing economic power structure. And he once recorded an album of folk music titled “We Shall Overcome.”

Establishment or not?

Here’s what Sanders said Thursday after Hillary Clinton touted the long list of prominent Democratic Party officials who have endorsed her bid for the presidency:
I  will absolutely admit that Secretary Clinton has the support of far more governors, mayors, members of the House. She has the entire establishment or almost the entire establishment behind her. That's a fact.

I don't deny it. But I am pretty proud that we have over a million people who have contributed to our campaign averaging 27 bucks apiece. That we have had meetings where 25,000-30,000 people have come out. That our campaign is a campaign of the people, by the people, and for the people.

So, Rachel, yes, Secretary Clinton does represent the establishment. I represent, I hope, ordinary Americans, and by the way, who are not all that enamored with the establishment, but I am very proud to have people like Keith Ellison and Raul Grijalva in the House, the co-chairmen of the House Progressive Caucus.
Notice that Sanders didn’t say he isn’t a member of the establishment. He said he doesn’t “represent the establishment.” That strikes me as a perfectly defensible claim.

Hillary Clinton didn’t dispute it. But she did take umbrage at how Sanders characterized her. “Honestly, Senator Sanders is the only person who I think would characterize me, a woman running to be the first woman president, as exemplifying the establishment,” she said. “And that it is really quite amusing to me.”

Did you notice how she changed his words?

Sanders said that she “represents the establishment,” not that she “exemplifies the establishment.” But even the stronger claim strikes me as true. There may not be one true definition of “the establishment,” but Hillary Clinton is a member by any reasonable definition.

...[When] became New York’s junior senator after the September 11 terrorist attacks she voted with the establishment for the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, the Patriot Act, and the Iraq War. She joined the Senate Prayer Breakfast. When the Democratic establishment opposed gay marriage, she did, too.  She didn’t flip until 2013, when equality was an establishment position. In the interim, she was a cabinet secretary.

Throughout her tenure, she believed that America’s governing elite was justified in running a secret program of mass surveillance and waging secret drone warfare.

“A few weeks after Hillary Clinton was sworn in as secretary of state in early 2009, she was summoned to Geneva by her Swiss counterpart to discuss an urgent matter. The Internal Revenue Service was suing UBS AG to get the identities of Americans with secret accounts,” the Wall Street Journal reported. “If the case proceeded, Switzerland’s largest bank would face an impossible choice: Violate Swiss secrecy laws by handing over the names, or refuse and face criminal charges in U.S. federal court. Within months, Mrs. Clinton announced a tentative legal settlement-- an unusual intervention by the top U.S. diplomat. UBS ultimately turned over information on 4,450 accounts, a fraction of the 52,000 sought by the IRS.”

Later UBS paid her husband seven figures in speaking fees.

After leaving Foggy Bottom, she joined one of the nation’s most powerful philanthropic organizations, underwritten by ultra-rich donors, including foreign governments.

Its name: the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation.

In addition, she was paid lavishly to give speeches to some of the most powerful corporations on the planet. She earned more on three Goldman Sachs speeches than many Americans earn in their lives. Forbes estimated her individual worth at $30 million.

Given all that, one of the most absurd statements in any debate this cycle has got to be, “Senator Sanders is the only person who I think would characterize me, a woman running to be the first woman president, as exemplifying the establishment.” And again, that wasn’t even Sanders claim. But it is nevertheless accurate.

I don’t think Hillary Clinton is unaware that she’s a part of the establishment. Rather, I think that she was willing to feign offense to deflect from a charge that she knows to be true. “She has the entire establishment or almost the entire establishment behind her,” Sanders declared, and she “does represent the establishment.”

That is absolutely correct. See for yourself.
It's a useful list (at the link just above). That's where I do my research on posts like the one about the handful of disgustingly corrupt conservative Democrats-- all on her leadership team of course-- like Patrick Murphy ("ex"-Republican, New Dem-FL), Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog, future Republican-AZ), John Delaney (New Dem-MD), Brad Ashford ("ex"-Republican, Blue Dog-NE) and Ron Kind (head of the New Dems-WI) who voted with the Republicans this past week to allow Wall Street to rip off customers and share holders.
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The Politics of Diminishing Expectations-- Guest Post By Erik Peterson


Erik, founder of Bending the Arc Strategies, wrote this after listening to the Hillary Clinton/Bernie Sanders Debate in New Hampshire last week.

When did politics become the art of diminishing our expectations?

When did it become naïve and impractical for leaders to speak of their dreams?

When did it become the role of politicians to convince us about what we can’t become, or dream about, or dare hope for because they couldn’t realistically deliver it?

I recently re-read FDR’s Economic Bill of Rights, perhaps the one memorable State of the Union address ever given. Delivered six months before D-Day, with a war raging on multiple continents, it spells out a revolutionary and legislatively impractical program.

As I read the address, excerpted below, I wondered how many people were telling FDR that he couldn’t say that. That he couldn’t possibly deliver it. That there was a war raging and his were idealistic, distracting, even harmful dreams. That he should not say anything he couldn’t deliver. And that he should talk about practical plans and programs rather than laying down a mark of the inalienable right to economic security.

It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people-- whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth-- is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.

This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights-- among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.

As our nation has grown in size and stature, however-- as our industrial economy expanded-- these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.

We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. "Necessitous men are not free men." People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all-- regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:
The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
The right of every family to a decent home;
The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
The right to a good education.
All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.

America's own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens.

As I read FDR’s speech I was reminded again that Martin Luther King did not deliver the famous line "I have a plan." He had a dream. And although it took a plan to achieve it, even more important were the 10s of millions of people inspired and believing in a dream. Millions who could imagine and begin demanding a different and better world.

I don’t think the problem we are facing today is that we expect too much, or our programs are too ambitious, or our dreams too big.

I think for the most part they are too small. What we can politically achieve in this moment is more or less all that we dare hope for or realistically demand. That our politics must relinquish speaking to what is necessary, and that we resign ourselves to the realism that a bit more is all we can expect and is as good as it can be.

Change of course usually comes incrementally. Built on the hard slog of compromise and imperfection. Oftentimes it feels disappointing and insufficient.

But I don’t think we manage our way to a better world, however crucial competent management is. More than ever I feel we need to dream bigger, be more outraged, and speak ever more hopefully.

Our politics need to boldly go where it is unreasonable to go, to speak courageously to what is necessary, so we can imagine again, and in the impracticality of our dreams be more strategic and win more of a better world that is possible.
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