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I really like Greg Sargent's take on how the Iraq Q is sanitizing the runup to the Iraq Debacle, for everyone but Jeb. and that's not right. Sargent writes:

Jeb’s contortions make good fodder for political reporters (who have mined the unique situation he finds himself in as George W. Bush’s brother) and Democratic political operatives (who are tormenting Jeb for flip-flopping and reviviving bad memories of the aforementioned George W. Bush). Jeb’s Iraq follies are a real political story on their own terms.

But ultimately, this whole line of questioning for Jeb, while creating untold problems for him, is also having the unintended effect of airbrushing out of the picture some really crucial historical facts about the run-up to the Iraq War. And those historical facts indict the woeful performance of Democrats such as Hillary Clinton as well as Republicans, which means that both parties have a strong incentive not to revive them.

The woeful performance of the Media is also whitewashed by this. But Greg is right, given Hillary Clinton's strong position in the Dem nomination race, much of the Dem reflex here will be to pile on Bush and muddy the water for everyone else.

But my biggest concern about Hillary Clinton remains her unmerited faith that American hard power can solve the world's problems.

I hope Bernie Sanders  (and Jim Webb and yes, Linc Chafee) call her on this.

The reality is Hillary has never properly explained how she made the mistake she made on Iraq and how she will avoid similar ones in the future. Indeed, as far as I can tell, there has been no conversion from Clinton regarding her unmerited faith in hard American power to solve the world's problems.

I'm hoping Jeb does not create a free pass for her.

Discuss

President Barack Obama is in a fierce debate, most notably with Senator Elizabeth Warren, regarding the Trans Pacific Partnership.

As a free trade advocate, I'd like to be able to take the President's side on this. And indeed, some of what he says has great appeal to me (for example, I like the idea of using trade liberalization as an incentive for global action on climate change, human rights, workers rights, etc.)

But here's my problem - I don't know what's in the TPP (absent some very technical language on dispute resolution.) President Obama's argument seems to be "Trust me."

But we should not have to trust any public official - we should be able to see what he is proposing.

With regard to TPP we don't have a chance to see it for ourselves and apparently won't have such a chance.

It's possible, even likely, that the President will gather enough Dem votes to join a solid bloc of GOP votes and get approval for fast tracking TPP. But I don't see how he can truly  persuade anyone on the substance of TPP without, you know, letting us see the substance.

If I had a vote, it would have to be No on TPP - because I don't know what is in it.

Discuss

[UPDATE]

Very encouraging first morning from the Bernie Sanders' campaign for president:

No nonsense for Bernie. What will he run on? The issues:

Like foreign policy, trade, Wall Street, etc.

Sanders will run on the actual issues that matter to "everyday" people, to coin a phrase.

And that's why it's great he is in the race.

Discuss
Sanders-021507-18335- 0004
Senator Bernie Sanders is running for President.
From Vermont Public Radio:
VPR News has learned from several sources that independent U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders will announce his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday.
Sanders will release a short statement on that day and then hold a major campaign kickoff in Vermont in several weeks.
This is welcome news imo. His voice will be important for discussing the most important issues for progressives.

In the latest polls of Iowa and New Hampshire, Sanders runs in second (amongst candidates who have said they will or are interested in running) behind Hillary Clinton, albeit the gap is considerable.

Bernie's first salvo:

I think that Hillary Clinton and every candidate out there should in fact address whether or not they support this T.P.P
Discuss

Fri Apr 24, 2015 at 06:09 AM PDT

The Media's "Clinton Rules"

by Armando

Pierce with a tour de force:

It appears that the "exclusive" ratfking arrangement entered into by The New York Times and Washington Post has brought us all back to the Mena Airport again, and that it has done so by strict application of the Clinton Rules, first devised in the mid-1990's, as the nation's elite political press turned laundering oppo research into a smoothly running machine. The very first Clinton Rule, established by most of the original reporting into the Whitewater non-scandal, is that if you can blow enough smoke, you can say there's fire.
Pierce's formulation of Rule 2:
Wealthy interests might use their wealth to "build friendly relations" with politicians? In 2015? Has anyone told Anthony Kennedy? He might plotz.

(This, by the way, is Clinton Rule No. 2 -- what is business as usual for every politician since Cato is a work of dark magic when practiced by either Clinton.)

So it has always been with the Media regarding the Clintons.
Discuss

Tue Apr 21, 2015 at 05:42 AM PDT

The Politics of TPP

by Armando

Hillary Clinton will be the Dem nominee for President. Now Martin O'Malley or Jim Webb may not agree, but, well, she is. Imo of course.

That said, if Webb or O'Malley want to make a splash, there is 1 issue that might work - opposition to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) (not just opposing but making that opposition everything in your campaign, at least for now.) I'm not going to pretend I have a substantive opinion on it, have not seen the terms (I'm generally pro free trade), but I recognize the political potency.

Greg Sargent's interview with Labor Secretary Thomas Perez highlights the difficulty of arguing for trade agreements:

THE PLUM LINE: There’s a tremendous amount of suspicion about trade deals. Prior trade deals didn’t raise wages or bargaining rights. What specifically will be in TPP that is somehow different from these other deals, from the point of view of the standard of living of American workers?

THOMAS PEREZ: I share the skepticism that my friends have about NAFTA. It was woefully weak in protecting workers and on the enforcement side. The question is: Can we meaningfully build a trade regime that has as its North Star protecting American workers and American jobs through meaningful enforcement? I think we can. It’s imperative that we not default to the status quo, which would mean we don’t fix NAFTA.

We have to bake labor provisions into the core of an agreement. TPP would do that. Under NAFTA, countries had to simply promise to uphold the laws of their own nations. Now the provisions baked into TPP are: You must enact or make sure you have already in place meaningful labor protections, such as the freedom of association, health and safety, acceptable conditions of work.

Perez is arguing that TPP can actually be a vehicle for globalizing labor rights (and presumably environmental standards). I'm sure it sounded good when some one wrote out the idea but is that really a saleable line? (I have no opinion on whether it is true. Need to study more.) I'm skeptical.

Sargent asks a vital question that really emphasizes the importance of  winning the Presidency independent of "bold new ideas!":

PLUM LINE But how would the mechanism work? Is it at the discretion of a future president to pursue enforcement? Is the argument that labor shouldn’t be concerned about non-enforcement under a future labor-unfriendly president, because there will be committed prosecutors in place?

PEREZ: I can’t speak for what a future president will do. But I can say the structure is indistinguishable from the structure we have at the Justice Department to do enforcement in a wide array of civil and criminal contexts, where you have a dedicated cadre of career professionals. That critique — that a future president may do less — could apply to every aspect of enforcement. Trade is no different. We want to get the best laws on the books. Do we throw up our arms and say, “We’re just going to stick with the status quo?”

Perez is arguing for TPP, but really his argument expands the whole "It's the Supreme Court, Stupid!" argument for voting for your Party. And it's right.

But that's a general election argument, not a primaries argument. For the primaries, if Webb or O'Malley REALLY want to make a splash, this is the time and TPP is the issue.

Discuss

So now the NYTimes is openly in the business of doing steno for the GOP. Just awful:

The Times, The Washington Post and Fox News have exclusive agreements with the author  to pursue the story lines found in the book ["Clinton Cash."
Who cares if the author write for Breitbart, worked for George W Bush? It's a hit piece on Hillary Clinton! Does anyone at these news organization care about ethics anymore?

And the awfulness is patent even in this prelude piece. Consider this:

“We will see a pattern of financial transactions involving the Clintons that occurred contemporaneous with favorable U.S. policy decisions benefiting those providing the funds,” Mr. Schweizer writes.

His examples include a free-trade agreement in Colombia that benefited a major foundation donor’s natural resource investments in the South American nation, development projects in the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake in 2010, and more than $1 million in payments to Mr. Clinton by a Canadian bank and major shareholder in the Keystone XL oil pipeline around the time the project was being debated in the State Department.

Leave aside the insane idea that Keystone originated with Clinton, think about the sheer nonsense on the Colombian free trade agreement. First, as a Senator, Clinton was AGAINST at the same time the Clinton Foundation was getting donations from the Canadian oil executive:
In a Wall Street Journal story from 2008, Giustra is described as a “friend and traveling companion” of former President Clinton who donated more than $130 million to Clinton’s philanthropies. [. . .] On the campaign trail in 2008, Hillary Clinton, along with then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, opposed the deal.
So when Giustra had already directed hundreds of millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation, she opposed the deal. It was only after she became Secretary of State that she felt beholden? Oh by the way, why would Obama change his mind because of donations to the Clinton Foundation?

But the New York Times, dutifully taking  GOP stenography credulously reports this absurdity.

Here's the clincher from the story:

“Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich,” by Peter Schweizer — a 186-page investigation of donations made to the Clinton Foundation by foreign entities — is proving the most anticipated and feared book of a presidential cycle still in its infancy.
So the New York Times cuts a deal with a Republican hit man and NewsCorp, and proudly trumpet its failed ethics. The ultimate irony is that this is unethical journalism ostensibly to cover alleged unethical behavior. What it is of course is a disgrace.
Discuss

Paul Krugman delivers a needed reality check to the "there's no difference between the 2 political parties" nonsense. On the social safety net:

[A]ny Democrat would, if elected, seek to maintain the basic U.S. social insurance programs — Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid — in essentially their current form, while also preserving and extending the Affordable Care Act. Any Republican would seek to destroy Obamacare, make deep cuts in Medicaid, and probably try to convert Medicare into a voucher system.
On tax policy:
Any Democrat would retain the tax hikes on high-income Americans that went into effect in 2013, and possibly seek more. Any Republican would try to cut taxes on the wealthy — House Republicans plan to vote next week to repeal the estate tax — while slashing programs that aid low-income families.
On financial regulation:
Any Democrat would try to preserve the 2010 financial reform, which has recently been looking much more effective than critics suggested. Any Republican would seek to roll it back, eliminating both consumer protection and the extra regulation applied to large, “systemically important” financial institutions
On climate change:
And any Democrat would try to move forward on climate policy, through executive action if necessary, while any Republican — whether or not he is an outright climate-science denialist — would block efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions.
These differences are stark. And very important. But that's not the end of the story. Too much of our political discourse takes place on conservative turf. The Overton Window has been moved far to the Right.

Krugman outlines a lot of policies to defend, but does not speak to things that need to be fought for.

While acknowledging the truth of Krugman's statements, we also need to look at what we're not talking about.

That's why I always welcome the agitation from the Left FLank.

Frederick Douglas understood this. As Eric Foner wrote:

In his celebrated 1919 essay, Max Weber defended the social utility of the politician's calling and identified three qualities as a politician. Yet Weber concluded by noting the symbiotic relationship between political action and moral agitation. "What is possible, [Weber] wrote, "would not have been achieved , if, in this world, people had not repeatedly reached for the impossible."
There is much to achieve beyond defending past achievements. A Left Flank is vital to that.  

 

Discuss
Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton smiles during her remarks at a campaign rally for Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown, Democratic nominee for Maryland governor, at the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland October 30, 2014.  REUTER
Hillary Clinton is smiling today as she launches her campaign to become the first woman president. Will Wall Street be smiling with her?
This is the first of a series of essays to be written by Left Flank Daily Kos users providing substantive critiques of Hillary Clinton. Serendipitously, the former First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State announces today her run for the White House. Time to take a long hard look. The first entry comes from fladem/Twitter: dcg1114—Armando

Perhaps the best way to open the topic of Hillary Clinton and Wall Street is with the following story from David Corn in Mother Jones in July of 2014:

Hillary Clinton delivered a much-touted policy speech at the New America Foundation in Washington, where she talked passionately about the financial plight of Americans who "are still barely getting by, barely holding on, not seeing the rewards that they believe their hard work should have merited." She bemoaned the fact that the slice of the nation's wealth collected by the top 1 percent—or 0.01 percent—has "risen sharply over the last generation," and she denounced this "throwback to the Gilded Age of the robber barons."
Sounds great, I suspect most here would agree. Corn went on to note:
Here was Hillary, test-driving a theme for a possible 2016 presidential campaign, sticking up for the little guy and trash-talking the economic elites. She decried the "shadow banking system that operated without accountability" and caused the financial crisis that wiped out millions of jobs and the nest eggs, retirement funds, and college savings of families across the land. Yet at the end of this week, when all three Clintons hold a daylong confab with donors to their foundation, the site for this gathering will be the Manhattan headquarters of Goldman Sachs.
Taken in isolation, the story would be easy to dismiss. So she held a meeting a Goldman Sachs? But the event was illustrative of a long-running connection.

I'll explore this connection on the flip.

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A line from this recommended diary. The full quote:

The most common tactic employed by Obama supporters, when deflecting criticism away from the president, is to play the race card. But that ploy only resonates with a very small segment of American voters today. It has been so overplayed it has lost its credibility.
Speaking for me only, I stop reading when I see that. Period. It's offensive and unacceptable. To me at least.

If a progressive populist wants to persuade, who is he aiming his message at? Whites Only? Because that type of rhetoric destroys your ability to persuade any person of color imo.

It surely did with me.

Discuss

Mon Mar 30, 2015 at 06:04 AM PDT

A competitive primary about issues

by Armando

If you envision Elizabeth Warren running for the Democratic nomination, what kind of campaign would you like to see her run?

Would you want to see her run on the issues that have made her a progressive favorite? Blasting Wall Street influence and pols cozying up to big money? Expanding Social Security? Fighting for a fair chance for working Americans? Expressing some hesitance about the unshaken view that American military might can solve the world's problems (she has not spoken much on this.)

Or would you be excited if a Democratic primary became about Politico issues like DYNASTY! and e-mails?

The presumptive frontrunner has a lot of questions to answer (and maybe she can't answer them adequately anyway.) But, at least for me, DYNASTY! and MoDo psychobabble is not what I want to hear about. YMMV.

Whomever chooses to take on the daunting task of running for president in the Democratic primary will be doing our party and our country a great service, IF they run on issues. But if a candidate decides that running a Politico campaign is the way to go, I have doubts about the benefits of such a run - not just for the Party but for the candidate.

In 2000, Bill Bradley decided to run against Al Gore. Bradley had no issues to run on so he ran a Politico campaign, one that fed every BS negative Media nonsense narrative about Gore.

A few weeks ago I argued that Democrats need a contested primary. Eric Boehlert, among many, pushed back on this idea, asking pointedly if Bill Bradley's challenge in 2000 help Dems and Al Gore? The answer is no, it did not.

But it does not have to go that way. In 2008, in one of the toughest political races you'll ever see, the Democratic candidates talked about issues for months on end. The now disgraced John Edwards, the longest shot of the top tier candidates, pushed the conversation into important issues, like health care, forcing other candidates to think hard and comprehensively on the issues.

While this didn't matter to Politico, it mattered to us I think.

The talk of DYNASTY! and other MoDo type crap was at a minimum from our candidates in 2008. And this during a bruising primary fight.

We can have that again I think. I know folks look back and think 2008 was too rough and tumble, but the reality is the 2008 Democratic primary produced some of the sharpest and best political talk on real issues that we have had.

For me, the model I'd like to follow, whatever the outcome, is the 2008 race, not the 2000 race run by Bill Bradley.

YMMV.

Discuss
Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton
A President Warren or a President Clinton would have power, but not as much as you think.
In his piece You Can't Make The Congress Do Anything, which reviewed the book "The Fierce Urgency of Now", Scott Lemieux writes:
We don’t have to speculate how effective LBJ’s leadership would be without a rare functioning liberal majority in Congress. After suffering major losses in the 1966 midterms, Johnson’s legendary leadership capabilities were of little value. In his final two years in office, he was forced to accept huge cuts to domestic spending, and could only pass a watered-down version of the Fair Housing Act [. . .]
Lemieux's argument points to trying to win at the Congressional level as the key to enacting policies you want to see. Too often we all forget this through our obsession with the Presidency. And not just activists, even the rich suffer from this:
In the words of one veteran GOP fundraiser, traditional bundlers have been sent down to the “minor leagues,” while mega-donors are “the major league players.” [. . .]  [B]undlers, on the left and the right, are turning their attention to congressional races, where they can get more personal attention.
They get more than "personal attention." They get real influence over those lawmakers. And that matters a ton, as Lemieux describes. The reality is there can be no progressive project without a progressive Congress, no matter who is president.

But there are certain powers a president has that transcend Congressional leanings: (1) the power to make war and formulate foreign policy, and (2) the power to nominate Supreme Court justices. More on this on the flip.

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