Friday Talking Points [460] -- #BillionairesFirst? #NotOnePenny!

[ Posted Friday, November 3rd, 2017 – 17:56 UTC ]

To date, the two best hashtags we've seen to counter the just-released Republican tax plan are #BillionairesFirst and #NotOnePenny, so we decided to use them in our title. Because over the next few weeks, there will be a monstrous messaging battle between Republicans and Democrats over how their new tax cut plan should be framed. Democrats seem poised to win this battle, but then again there is no guarantee that's how it will play out. So today we thought we'd devote a large portion of the column to mustering up the arguments Democrats should immediately start making to any who will listen.

The optimism about how the public will ultimately react comes from some recent polling conducted before the GOP bill was even unveiled. A full half of the public is already opposed to the GOP tax plan, sight unseen, while only one-third supported it, a difference of 17 points. And a whopping six in ten people already think that the GOP proposals on tax cuts will favor the rich. Similar majorities already see the tax system rigged in favor of the wealthy and want to see corporations pay higher taxes, not lower. The mood of the country is already set against large tax cuts for the one percent and Wall Street, in other words, and Democrats just need to successfully tap into that mood.

We're going to go into a lot of detail in the talking points section this week, so for now let's just hit the high points of what Democrats should be shouting from the rooftops:

  • The Republican tax plan increases the national debt by trillions, in order to give 80 percent of the benefits to big businesses.
  • An analysis for the New York Times shows that 13 million American families making less than $100,000 a year will actually see their taxes go up under this plan. Republicans are trying to sell this as a "middle-class tax cut," but that is just flat-out a lie for at least 13 million families.
  • While 13 million middle-class families will be paying higher taxes, the shifting of the tax brackets is going to guarantee a tax cut to the tune of $24,348 for every family making over one million dollars a year. Once again: these tax cuts are not targeted at the middle class, and anyone who tells you they are is lying to you.
  • Two of their tax cuts in particular will help only the very wealthy -- the elimination of the estate tax and the alternative minimum tax. This means Donald Trump Junior won't have to pay a single penny on his inheritance, and it means that his father Donald J. Trump will save -- from the only tax return from him that we've seen -- a whopping eighty percent of his tax bill each and every year. Targeted to the middle class? One of these tax breaks only applies to incomes above $130,000 and the other only to estates worth more than $5 million. Middle-class families get next to nothing, and the very wealthy make out like bandits, once again.
  • Teachers will no longer be able to deduct school supplies they have to buy. Cancer patients will no longer be able to deduct the costs of their medical care. Young Americans won't be able to deduct the interest paid on their student loans. Flood and hurricane victims won't be able to deduct the losses they've suffered. It is astonishing how Republicans have selected some very vulnerable groups to increase taxes on, seemingly out of nothing but the desire to be mean-spirited. Cancer patients? Hurricane victims? Really?
  • The bottom line: We have tried trickle-down before, and it has failed. It just failed spectacularly in Kansas, as a matter of fact -- check the facts. American workers are tired of being told that giving a massive tax cut to the bosses and owners is somehow supposed to make their lives better. The rich will get richer under this plan, and the middle class will continue to shrink. The income gap exists because of tax policies like these, and the gap will only continue to get wider and wider if this bill is passed.

President Donald Trump, who is supposed to be some sort of branding genius, was given the task of coming up with a name for the bill. His idea? "The Cut Cut Cut Act." No, really! That's the best he could do. Congressional Republicans wisely decided to name it on their own, instead. Trump also has been -- bizarrely -- pushing congressional Republicans hard to include a "repeal Obamacare" measure in the bill as well. This could spell doom for the already-shaky prospects the bill has for passage, so assumably congressional Republicans will ignore him on this issue, too. If Trump does get his way, it'll just make the bill that much easier for Democrats to defeat.

But that's enough for now -- as we mentioned, we'll get to more detail later. This fight is going to dominate Washington for at least the next two months, so everyone should be prepared for the effort that will be necessary to oppose the GOP tax plan.

Before we do, there was one other major story out of Washington this week, as Bob Mueller made his first public moves in his investigation. Paul Manafort and Rick Gates were indicted on money-laundering, tax evasion, fraud, conspiracy, and failing to register as a foreign agent, but the bigger bombshell was that it was revealed that George Papadopoulos had already pled guilty to the crime of lying to federal officers about contacts he made with Russia while he was a member of the Trump campaign. Papadopoulos was arrested months ago, and apparently then cooperated with Mueller's team -- which has got to make anyone connected to Trump who talked to Papadopoulos after that point extremely nervous.

Those are pretty big first steps, but what many noticed was the absence of one of the key figures -- Michael Flynn -- from the list of Mueller targets. Has Flynn flipped? Months ago, his lawyer was trying to get Flynn immunity for testifying fully before Congress about Russia, promising his client had a story to tell. So has Mueller already heard that story in full? Nobody knows, because unlike just about every other segment of the Trump administration, Mueller's team has been astonishingly leak-free, to date. There have been no inside rumors, no advance warning, no early releases of information at all -- which has left journalists with nothing to do but speculate about what Mueller might do next.

Court records from the indictments and the plea deal are being poured over, since in the absence of leaks it is the only hard evidence we've got of what Mueller has uncovered. The New York Times reports on a meeting attended by (among other advisors) Papadopoulos, Jeff Sessions, and Donald Trump:

"[Papadopoulos] went into the pitch right away," said J. D. Gordon, a campaign adviser who attended the meeting. "He said he had a friend in London, the Russian ambassador, who could help set up a meeting with Putin." Mr. Trump listened with interest. Mr. Sessions vehemently opposed the idea, Mr. Gordon recalled. "And he said that no one should talk about it because it might leak," he said.

This spurred Al Franken to openly question -- once again -- how honest Sessions has been in his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee. In a letter to Sessions, Franken asks: "This is another example in an alarming pattern in which you, the nation's top law enforcement officer, apparently failed to tell the truth, under oath, about the Trump team’s contacts with agents of Russia."

Trump, of course, insists that the whole thing is a made-up "witch hunt" launched by Democrats sore over losing the election to him. So how is he doing convincing the public? Well, not so good, according to a recent poll:

A 58 percent majority say they approve of Mueller's probe, while just 28 percent said they disapprove. Meanwhile, nearly half of voters -- or 49 percent -- believe the president committed a crime. Some other key findings:

  • Fewer than 4 in 10 Americans believe Trump is cooperating with the probe. Half believe he is not. And among the public overall, 19 percent think there is "solid evidence" Trump committed a crime. (30 percent say that is "merely their suspicion.")
  • 49 percent of all voters think it's likely Trump himself committed a crime in connection with Russian efforts to sway the election. 74 percent of Democrats and half of independent voters agree. (Meanwhile, 84 percent of Republicans feel the opposite.)
  • Nearly 7 in 10 approve of the charges against Manafort and Gates.
  • And more than half of Americans -- 53 percent -- say Papadopoulos's plea deal for lying to the FBI represented "broader wrongdoing" by Trump campaign aides.

No wonder Trump's job approval rating is sinking even further below the 40 percent mark. As Senator John McCain said at the beginning of this year, the Russia scandal is like a centipede -- because there are so many more shoes left to drop.

Let's see, what else is going on? We've got time for a quick rundown before we move on to this week's awards. Next Tuesday will be Election Day in New Jersey and Virginia, and if Democrats are truly going to have a chance at flipping either chamber of Congress next year, the Virginia governor's race may be an early sign. The Democrat is ahead, but his lead is shrinking as the Republican hammers away at sanctuary cities -- even though Virginia doesn't actually have any sanctuary cities. An honest (and disgusted) assessment of the state of the race (which he said was descending into "wild-eyed accusations") came from the Libertarian candidate:

What is politics coming to, what is our society coming to, when two candidates for statewide office spend millions of dollars on ads accusing their opponent of sympathizing with violent street gangs, pedophiles, white nationalists and neo-Nazis, and of harboring supporters who want to run over our children with trucks?

Welcome to politics in Trump's America, in other words. The Washington Post has a very good rundown on not only the New Jersey and Virginia races, but also on all the other contests which will happen next Tuesday, if you're interested.

A terror attack happened in New York City, and within hours Trump was tweeting about necessary policy changes (while denigrating New York's senator, Chuck Schumer). So much for all that "we can't politicize a tragedy" that Trump and other Republicans were saying after the Las Vegas attack, eh? Schumer responded: "President Trump, instead of politicizing and dividing America, which he always seems to do at times of national tragedy, should be focusing on the real solution -- anti-terrorism funding -- which he proposed cutting in his most recent budget." Senator Chris Murphy also tweeted: "Now I get it. If the killer is an immigrant you can talk about policy change, but if he's natural born, you're 'politicizing the tragedy'."

Trump signed a law that will prevent consumers from suing their banks, but unlike all his other signing ceremonies, he didn't seem real proud of this one. There was no fanfare and no reporters in the room when Trump signed the bill behind closed doors. The White House released a statement on the signing after 5:30 P.M., and it was just one sentence long. I guess "allowing big banks to screw you over without allowing you your day in court" doesn't exactly fit in with making America great again, or something.

All this "winning" is tiring out one specific group of people -- Republican congressional committee chairs. It seems that droves of them are throwing in the towel and announcing they won't be running for re-election. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Meredith Kelly had a rationale for why so many of them were "dropping like flies" -- because "it's nothing short of miserable to be part of Speaker Paul Ryan's establishment Congress. These retiring Republicans have seen the writing on the wall, and they're not waiting around for the midterms." Let's hope she's right.

In foreign news, the Islamic State is about to become stateless. They are down to their last remaining towns on the border between Syria and Iraq, and their "caliphate" could entirely disappear within the next few weeks -- if not days. That's a pretty big deal, but the American media hasn't really noticed yet.

And finally, we have to at least mention how pizza has become part of the political divide. The very conservative head of Papa John's had a theory for why he's losing money -- it's all the NFL players' fault for "taking a knee." By his reasoning, as viewers tune out from football, they eat less pizza, therefore it is a clear case of cause and effect. Then Pizza Hut entered the fray, and pointed out that their sales were doing just fine, even with the NFL controversies. So much for the "fake news" from Papa John's....


Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week

An oversight was pointed out to us in the comments recently, and we found we agreed with the complaint. But when we checked this week, we found that we won't have to award the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week retroactively, since Representative Frederica Wilson was also pretty impressive this week, as well.

Wilson was at the heart of the controversy over Donald Trump's condolence calls to dead soldiers' families a few weeks back (which we did cover in FTP [458]), but we failed to even award her an Honorable Mention, even though she clearly deserved some sort of recognition for showing such strong backbone in her fight with Donald Trump.

This week, however, Wilson had the best response to a bit of idiocy from White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, on the Civil War. Kelly, in an interview, said that the Civil War happened because of a lack of "compromise" between the North and the South. He didn't mention slavery once. He also had warm words for General Robert E. Lee, to boot.

Many historians (both amateur and professional) took the opportunity to point out the enormous and numerous compromises which had been made to forestall the Civil War: the formation of the Senate (to give rural slave-owning states an outsized influence), the infamous "three-fifths" clause in the Constitution, the Missouri Compromise (where Missouri entered as a slave state and Maine as a free state, to preserve the political balance), and the Compromise of 1850 (another power-balancing compromise). Those last two, in particular, have "compromise" right there in their names, making them hard to ignore.

But Wilson took the prize for best response, tweeting a two-part response to Kelly:

What did Gen. Kelly mean there was lack of ability to compromise between the North and the South?

Would the compromise have been: you're enslaved on Mon, Wed., Fri., you're free on Tues., Thurs., Sat., and on Sunday, you decide?

Nicely done, Representative Wilson, nicely done!

We were also impressed with all the other tweets on Wilson's Twitter feed, including some very pointed attacks at the Republican tax bill. It seems like Wilson is a rising star in the Democratic Party, so perhaps this is a Twitter feed worth following in the future.

For destroying John Kelly's ham-handed historical revisionism, , and also (retroactively) for showing such backbone in a messaging war with President Trump, Frederica Wilson is this week's Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week. Keep up the good work!

[Congratulate Representative Frederica Wilson on her House contact page, to let her know you appreciate her efforts.]


Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week

Donna Brazile dropped a real bombshell into Democratic politics this week, in an extraordinary article detailing how Hillary Clinton's campaign successfully "rigged" the primary season against Bernie Sanders. She should know, because she was at the heart of the fray, taking over the leadership of the Democratic National Committee after Debbie Wasserman Schultz had to resign, right at the start of the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Her article in Politico (excerpted from the book she has just released) is worth reading in full, but here are the key passages:

My predecessor, Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz ... was not a good manager. She hadn't been very interested in controlling the party -- she let Clinton's headquarters in Brooklyn do as it desired so she didn't have to inform the party officers how bad the situation was. How much control Brooklyn had and for how long was still something I had been trying to uncover for the last few weeks.

By September 7, the day I called Bernie [Sanders], I had found my proof and it broke my heart.

. . .

[Gary Gensler, the chief financial officer of Hillary's campaign] described the party as fully under the control of Hillary's campaign, which seemed to confirm the suspicions of the Bernie camp. The campaign had the D.N.C. on life support, giving it money every month to meet its basic expenses, while the campaign was using the party as a fund-raising clearinghouse. Under F.E.C. law, an individual can contribute a maximum of $2,700 directly to a presidential campaign. But the limits are much higher for contributions to state parties and a party's national committee.

Individuals who had maxed out their $2,700 contribution limit to the campaign could write an additional check for $353,400 to the Hillary Victory Fund -- that figure represented $10,000 to each of the 32 states' parties who were part of the Victory Fund agreement - $320,000 -- and $33,400 to the D.N.C. The money would be deposited in the states first, and transferred to the D.N.C. shortly after that. Money in the battleground states usually stayed in that state, but all the other states funneled that money directly to the D.N.C., which quickly transferred the money to Brooklyn.

"Wait," I said. "That victory fund was supposed to be for whoever was the nominee, and the state party races. You’re telling me that Hillary has been controlling it since before she got the nomination?"

. . .

Yet the states kept less than half of 1 percent of the $82 million they had amassed from the extravagant fund-raisers Hillary's campaign was holding, just as Gary had described to me when he and I talked in August. When the Politico story described this arrangement as "essentially ... money laundering" for the Clinton campaign, Hillary's people were outraged at being accused of doing something shady. Bernie's people were angry for their own reasons, saying this was part of a calculated strategy to throw the nomination to Hillary.

. . .

The agreement -- signed by Amy Dacey, the former C.E.O. of the D.N.C., and Robby Mook with a copy to Marc Elias -- specified that in exchange for raising money and investing in the D.N.C., Hillary would control the party's finances, strategy, and all the money raised. Her campaign had the right of refusal of who would be the party communications director, and it would make final decisions on all the other staff. The D.N.C. also was required to consult with the campaign about all other staffing, budgeting, data, analytics, and mailings.

. . .

The funding arrangement with H.F.A. and the victory fund agreement was not illegal, but it sure looked unethical. If the fight had been fair, one campaign would not have control of the party before the voters had decided which one they wanted to lead. This was not a criminal act, but as I saw it, it compromised the party's integrity.

In other words, Bernie was right all along in his charge that the D.N.C. was rigging the primary election season in favor of Hillary Clinton.

While we do appreciate Donna Brazile coming forward with the truth, we also have to wonder what took her so long. Instead of raising the issue when it might have mattered, she decided to take notes and publish it in a tell-all book a full year after the election. Not exactly taking a stand when it might have changed things, in other words.

But as Brazile makes clear, we simply have no choice but to retroactively award Debbie Wasserman Schultz another Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week, for aiding and abetting these shenanigans.

Bernie was right. The game was rigged against him, from the very start. People who denied this were wrong. With Brazile's bombshell, this is now impossible to deny.

[Contact Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz on her House contact page, to let her know what you think of her actions.]


Friday Talking Points

Volume 460 (11/3/17)

When we sat down this week to construct our talking points, we quickly found that it would be impossible to present them in seven discrete paragraphs. The Republican tax plan is so complex (and so odious) that it cannot be adequately covered in just seven talking points.

Democrats need to marshal their forces in the same way they did to defeat the GOP's "repeal and replace Obamacare" effort. This is a big deal, and handing the Republicans a defeat on it would dramatically increase the chances Democrats have of taking over either the House or the Senate in next year's midterm elections.

So Democrats need to be able to quote facts and figures, to counter the trickle-down snake oil the Republicans are already trying to peddle to the public. What follows are some early figures from analysts, as well as some good talking points from Democratic politicians, in no particular order. Call it a "make your own talking point" week, in other words.

We will begin with some sage advice from professional pollsters who have poll-tested language Democrats should really consider using, because it is so effective with the public:

According to the pollsters, the solution is staring Democrats in their faces. The voters who trust neither party need to be convinced that one party, the Trump-led Republicans, had already betrayed them. One of the best-testing messages mirrored what Democrats had said for years: "Trickle-down has failed and the richest need to pay their fair share of taxes." They had just not said so effectively about Trump and Republicans in Congress.

"It is time to recognize that these voters will not be motivated unless they hear a message from the Democrat who says he or she is 'fed up' and 'the economy and politics are rigged against the hard-working middle class,'" the pollsters advise. "The message deplores that 'corporate lobbyists and billionaires spend unlimited money to get their way,' which is more 'trickle down' while 'people who play by the rules are crushed by the cost of health care, child care, housing and student debt.' While it ends by proposing a range of changes 'so American grows the middle class again,' it is otherwise mostly negative and dramatic."

Negative and dramatic works, in political messaging. Remember that. There's also another very potent line of attack worth mentioning up front, because it also could be the most impactful argument to make:

The fact that some people will see a tax increase from this bill -- and the number who do will not be trivial -- gives Democrats a large opening. You can bet they're going to change their argument from "This is a giveaway to the wealthy and corporations" to "How dare Republicans raise taxes on hard-working families so they can give a tax break to the wealthy and corporations?"

That is also some very sage advice. Democrats' congressional leaders were quick to weigh in with their own colorful metaphors. From Chuck Schumer:

In the old days you could give a crumb to the middle class and give most of the tax breaks to the wealthy, and people would say, "Okay." But with income distribution, sourness and populism where they are, that's not working, so I think this bill has real trouble. The more people find out about it, the less they'll like. This bill is like a dead fish. The more it's in sunlight, the more it stinks, and that's what’s going to happen.

And, from the same article, Nancy Pelosi:

[The Republican tax bill is] a Ponzi scheme that corporate America will perpetrate on the American people. The American people deserve real, bipartisan tax reform that puts the middle class first. This Republican plan doesn't do any of that. In fact, it's a giveaway to corporations and the wealthiest.

But as we said, facts and figures help make the arguments tangible. Here is just a sampling -- which will doubtless be added to as more and more economists publicly analyze the effects of the GOP bill.

According to the New York Times, the bill will raise taxes on 13 million Americans who make less than $100,000.

The Joint Committee on Taxation put out a report, which "calculates the total revenue cut of the House tax bill at $1.49 trillion over the coming decade. Nearly 80 percent of that cost, however, is attributable to business provisions."

The Washington Post's Moriah Balingit points out: "Teachers spend nearly $1,000 a year on supplies. Under the GOP tax bill, they will no longer get a tax deduction."

According to Liz Warren (on the PBS NewsHour last night), of the "two trillion dollars" that Republicans are handing to big businesses, "Wells Fargo will get the biggest benefit."

While the top income tax bracket will remain at 39.6 percent, when the bracket kicks in is being hiked astronomically (from just under a half-million dollars a year to one million dollars per year). This will result in a huge tax cut for anyone in this bracket -- even though the top rate will remain the same:

That's because all the income between $470,700 and $1 million -- or $529,300 -- will now be taxed at 35 percent. That 4.6 percent cut means that right off the bat, people with incomes of more than $1 million will get a tax cut of $24,348 -- way more than most Americans will see from this bill.

Also from the same Post article, a rundown of the numbers on who the elimination of the estate tax will benefit (contrary to Republican claims):

Don't be fooled by all the talk of "small businesses and family farms," because almost none of those are worth enough to pay the estate tax. Let's say this real slow: When Republicans say the purpose of eliminating the estate tax is to protect family farms and small businesses, they're lying.

The Tax Policy Center estimated that only 80 family farms and small businesses in the entire country would owe any estate tax in 2017, and what they pay makes up 15 one-hundredths of one percent of the revenue the tax brings in. But if you’re terribly worried that Ivanka, Donny Jr. and the rest of the Trump kids might have to pay taxes on their inheritance, the Republicans have got you covered.

The New York Times ran an article on their front page titled "Math Problem Bedevils Republican Tax Rewrite," where they strip the whole effort down to the most basic of terms:

The tax rewrite is pitting businesses against individuals, as lawmakers look for ways to offset trillions of dollars of personal and corporate income tax cuts by limiting popular individual tax breaks, including preferential treatment for 401(k) plans and the state and local tax deduction.

The Washington Post helpfully breaks down who will be winners and who will be losers under the GOP tax plan. The winners? "Big corporations, the super-rich, people paying the alternative minimum tax, and 'pass through' companies." The losers? "Home builders, (some) small-business owners, people in high-tax blue states, the working poor, and charities."

Those home builders are already speaking out:

The prominent naysayers include the national Association of Realtors and the National Federation of Independent Businesses, which immediately said they couldn't support the overhaul that makes changes to both the individual and corporate side of the tax code. The National Association of Home Builders had already announced it's opposition and vowed to fight the revamp with its considerable firepower. "We will do everything we can to defeat this thing," said Jerry Howard, chief executive of the National Association of Home Builders, even before the plan made its debut to House Republicans this morning.

Some are also pointing out what happened the last time the Republicans slashed taxes on the wealthy (under George W. Bush), just in case everyone's forgotten:

The comparison with Bush's tax cuts is revealing, for a number of reasons. Then as now, Republicans tried to convince the public that the tax cuts 1) were really about helping the middle class, despite the fact the wealthy were getting most of the money, and 2) would produce an explosion of growth in GDP, jobs, and wages that would benefit everyone. The first was a lie, and the second was proven spectacularly wrong.

Jeff Flake, Trump's least-favorite Republican senator, weighed in on the fantasy math Republicans love to use to "prove" that tax cuts "pay for themselves." This is perhaps the most honest statement on the subject we've ever heard from a Republican, in fact:

We cannot simply assume that we can cut all taxes and realize additional revenue. It's important that tax reform comes as well. We've been hearing a lot about cuts, cuts, cuts. If we are going to do cuts, cuts, cuts, we have got to do wholesale reform. With the national debt exceeding $20 trillion, we've got to take this seriously. Rate reductions have to be accompanied by real reform. We cannot simply rely on rosy economic assumptions, rosy growth rates, to fill in the gap. We've got to make tough decisions. We cannot have cuts today that assume that we'll grow a backbone in the out years in terms of the real reforms that we're going to need.

Flake was dangerously close to giving away the entire Republican playbook, in fact, but while he inched close to the edge, he pulled back in the end. But that didn't stop one Democrat -- Senator Sherrod Brown -- from providing the big-picture view that Flake couldn't quite fully admit. This is, in fact, the best statement we've heard all week on the GOP tax plan, which is why we saved it for last:

"They're going to cut taxes for the rich, they're going to give the middle class a tiny little bit and then five years from now they're going to say, 'We've got this much bigger deficit. We can't believe this happened,'" Brown said, predicting that the GOP will cite the ballooning debt that they are about to cause as a justification for cutting Social Security benefits down the road. "If we follow McConnell's backroom deal way of doing business, the rich will get richer and the middle class will shrink."

-- Chris Weigant


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Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground
Cross-posted at: The Huffington Post


71 Comments on “Friday Talking Points [460] -- #BillionairesFirst? #NotOnePenny!”

  1. [1] 
    Paula wrote:

    I figured you'd jump on the Donna Brazile bandwagon. As an HRC supporter I was naturally concerned when the story hit, and therefore began looking at it closely. Numerous follow-ups have pretty much killed the whole fucking thing.

    One of the many interesting notes is that while Hillary was accused of not sending money raised to the states, the reality was that the DNC was not allowed to release it until commencement of the General Election Campaign, which was delayed because Bernie refused to concede. As soon as he did the money went out. And lots and lots of it went out.

    Other notes of interest? The 2015 JFA HRC signed was the same as the one signed a few months later by Bernie, and neither contained the conditions that made up the essence of the supposed smoking gun. BUT! there was a memo that laid out a bunch of conditions in the 2015 JFA which ALSO concluded with statements to the effect that nothing was to interfere with the impartiality of the DNC and that similar agreements could be offered to other candidates.

    Note: HRC raised a fucking ton of money for the DNC and 32 states that signed on to the JFA; Bernie signed a JFA, raised no $ for DNC and little to none for states.

    The Politico article was noticeably sketchy about dates. That was the first thing people began reacting to (at least those of us who aren't invested in the "we were robbed!" story). As the day wore on Brazile felt compelled to tweet that nothing she alleged had actually impacted the outcomes of the primaries -- wasn't that nice of her?

    While Berniers are busy cleaning up all the splooge they ejaculated yesterday, most of the non-rightwing media has conceded Brazile's accusations are wildly misleading-to-outright-dishonest. Since she's busy appearing on Tucker Carlson tonight, I personally have to wonder what the hell she's doing. I am not aware of her appearing on CNN or MSNBC, let alone ABC, NBC or CBS. (I could be wrong - but I haven't seen it.) FOX is, of course, friendly to Dem-haters. Someone speculated she's looking for a concern-troll spot at FOX since she lost her job on CNN. Which is sad. But she released this shitstorm a week before elections, guaranteeing a kick-up of the primary wars, and she released it through Politico, an outlet that has always made a point of going after HRC. She could well have been motivated by the simple desire to generate interest in her book, but if she gave a damn about the Dems or the country she could have at least waited until after next Tuesday.

    Here's a link, more follow:

  2. [2] 
    Paula wrote:

    This twitter thread covers a lot and has a bunch of links in it:

  3. [3] 
    Paula wrote:
  4. [4] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Regarding the polling on what people believe about the Mueller investigation and who did whatever to get in trouble, how meaningful is it to ask people about things they have zero knowledge of? Their responses invariably are no more nor less than a reflection of their political ideology.

    Regarding Donna Brazille's book, she just confirms what everybody already knew resulting from the hacked emails.

    Regarding the income tax 'reform' plan(s), the whole income tax system is simply a mechanism for transferring the fruits of the labors of the most productive to the least productive. Of course, that is the only possible means by which government could perform the functions we ask of it, so all we're doing is arguing over how to tweak the details.

  5. [5] 
    Paula wrote:

    Also worth noting: the Politico article quotes Brazile's text about how she investigated all the departments and activities in the DNC and found nothing that she deemed "partial" -- until she found the Joint Fundraising Agreement!!! Which she decides is legal but "unethical". Then she has a dramatic phone call with Bernie, only he seems strangely unmoved.

    She leaves out the language about "impartiality" that concludes the Memo, and everything about Bernie's JFA. Thus she is able to do a perfect "innuendo hitjob" -- she discovers no evidence of any specific thing that HRC's campaign did that hurt Bernie via the DNC, but the agreement makes it sound possible. Since no one can prove a negative: how can HRC prove she didn't do anything? -- and no has proved a positive, why it just lays there, looking bad.

    All this in the big shitstorm article. Maybe those things are addressed in the book, which would change the implications (and perhaps improve Brazile's credibility). But the Politico piece was written to create the impression of a definite, irrefutable smoking gun. And all the usual suspects swallowed it.

    And all the usual suspects (like me) were suspicious. And Berniers will continue to scream they were robbed and we'll think you're a bunch of crybabies and Trump/GOP laughs.

  6. [6] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Watch your language, Paula.

  7. [7] 
    John M wrote:

    C. R. Stucki [4]

    "Regarding the income tax 'reform' plan(s), the whole income tax system is simply a mechanism for transferring the fruits of the labors of the most productive to the least productive."

    The United States is the richest country in the history of the world. Last year our GNP was $18.6 trillion dollars. We owe just $6.2 trillion in debt to other countries, or roughly just 4 months of one year's GNP. The question of what the American government can afford is functionally meaningless. If any nation has ever been able to afford quality housing, education, health care, parks, museums ? anything ? the United States can.

    Our country’s wealth is created by everybody. It’s not created by rich people. Sometimes rich people receive their wealth in the form of inheritances. Sometimes they siphon them from other people through the daily operations of commerce. Sometimes Washington decides to hand them more. Increasingly, a lot of the very rich become wealthier without doing anything productive at all. They become richer simply because they own stock that only increases in value because the taxes on that particular business has been cut by government, and not because of anything particularly innovative that that company has done.

    There is no economic law that governs how the $19 trillion we produce each year must be distributed. There are however questions of justice, social prestige and most especially political power, in saying just how that wealth is distributed. You can, in fact, skew the tax code so that it will ensure that more and more of the nation’s wealth goes to the people who already have most of it. That is a political choice, not an economic one. Shoveling unearned benefits to people who just happen to own or inherit financial assets is not good for growth, productivity or anything else.

  8. [8] 
    chaszzzbrown wrote:

    [4] CR S

    Regarding the income tax 'reform' plan(s), the whole income tax system is simply a mechanism for transferring the fruits of the labors of the most productive to the least productive.

    And we would have gotten away with it, too; if it weren't for those meddling kids!

  9. [9] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    great article, very informative on a number of fronts. making the wealthy wealthier has been at the top of the GOP agenda for as long as i've been alive, at least. brown's explanation really is the case, it's a shell game that sticks it to the middle and working classes every single time.

    sad to read that the primary actually was rigged. not that bernie would necessarily have won, but it's unfortunate there wasn't a more level playing field.

    minor grammar issue:

    Court records from the indictments and the plea deal are being poured over

    i think you meant "pored over" - as the other way would be somewhat messy.

  10. [10] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    John M

    Your terminology (the standard terminology of the left) reveals why it is that you and your fellow liberals do not understand the laws and principles of the science of economics.

    When discussing the subject of who earns what in our economy, you skip over 'production' and go straight to 'distribution'.

    Before wealth can ever be distributed, it first has to be PRODUCED! And wealth is produced (in archaic biblical terms), "by the sweat of somebody's brow". Unfortunately, we've kinda gotten away from that old fashioned terminology because in the modern economy, the most productive people (those who produce by means of talent and skill, as opposed to physical effort), don't actually perspire during the process.

    Nevertheless, it's still a fact of life that wealth has to be produced before it can be distributed, and by virtue of that fact, it tends to originally belong to the people who produced it.

    Only now, at that point in the process, can it possibly be 'distributed', meaning that in reality, what we're actually describing is NOT 'distribution', but rather 'RE distribution', right?

    Your are absolutely correct, our wealth is indeed "Created by everybody", but the problem is, it is not created by everybody EQUALLY, and that fact is in serious conflict with liberal ideology, so you guys devise terminology that enables you to avoid facing the reality of how the cold, cruel world actually functions.

    Of COURSE as you say, a government as rich as ours can afford all sorts of goodies for everybody. Nobody, left or right, would ever dispute that, so the argument distills down NOT to "SHOULD we re-distribute, but rather just to 'HOW MUCH', or 'to what DEGREE' should we re-distribute, right?

  11. [11] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    John M

    It occurs to me that I skipped over one of your points, namely the fact that in addition to the old fashioned "sweat-of-somebody's-brow" thing, wealth in the modern world can also be created by people's previously-produced wealth (what economists call 'capital', essentially people's savings.) And often this turns out to be previously produced NOT by the current person in question, but rather by one of his ancestors.

    That reality tends to offend those of the liberal persuasion, and I would not seriously object to the concept of believing that such new wealth should perhaps be subject to a greater degree of re-distribution than the traditional 'sweat-of-the-brow' thing, but we should still be honest and face the fact thhat is IS 're-distribution, and not 'distribution'.

  12. [12] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    It's not productive to get hung up on the redistribution thing.

    Better to focus on what tax policies actually promote growth.

  13. [13] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Don H

    The concept of "a living wage" is simply an artificial social construct, having no relation whatsoever to the principles of economics. A person's income (in a competitive labor market), is the market value of whatever the person contributes to whatever it is the business produces, and has zero connection to the "cost of living".

    Your Utopian idea of "giving everybody a basic minimum income, and letting businesses compete for those who want to work" is obviously predicated on the assumption not only that there will actually BE somebody who wants to work, but that there will be enough of them to provide the BMI for the others, and there is room for serious doubt as to the validity of that premise. (For what it's worth, I'd be one of the BMIers.)

    You are absolutely correct about the insanity of our employer-provided health care delivery system, and the fact that it handicaps our domestic businesses in international competition.

  14. [14] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Thanks, Paula [1,2,3,5] for putting up the proof of Donna Brazile's big "buy my book" lie.

    Supporters of "the other russian-backed candidate" have yet to explain how any of this influenced Dem voters to prefer Hillary in the primaries.

    At least he was classy enough to do what most Hillary supporters did in 2008, and many of his supporters (egged on by the troll farms) failed to do - be gracious, and support the nominee in the General.

  15. [15] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    the primary elections weren't rigged, but based on CW's commentary the fundraising certainly was. of course money doesn't necessarily equal votes, but let's not pretend it's unrelated.


  16. [16] 
    Paula wrote:

    [18] the primary elections weren't rigged, but based on CW's commentary the fundraising certainly was. of course money doesn't necessarily equal votes, but let's not pretend it's unrelated.

    How? How was the fundraising rigged? The Politico article puts some incendiary language out there, which CW was only to happy to repeat, but what are the actual specifics here?

    Here's Kevin Drum's summary of events:

    "- After 2012, President Obama basically left the Democratic National Committee broke.

    - Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, the DNC chair, did little to address this. Also, pretty much everyone agrees she was a crappy chair for a variety of other reasons.

    - In mid-2015, Hillary Clinton set up a “joint fundraising agreement” with the DNC.

    - The gist of the JFA was that Clinton would raise tons of money by asking rich donors for roughly $350,000 each in both 2015 and 2016. This is way above normal contribution limits, but it was legal because it bundled together donations to Clinton, the DNC, and 33 state parties. Clinton’s campaign would then split up the money and send it to the appropriate places.

    - However, the money for the state parties was mostly routed immediately back to the DNC for things like building voter lists. That was the deal the states accepted when they signed onto the JFA. Depending on your outlook, this is either slightly shady or just a smart way for state parties to help finance things that will help them in the long run.

    - Although states didn’t get much actual cash from the JFA during primary season, they did get it during the general election. So states did pretty well in the end.

    - Bernie Sanders was also offered the opportunity to set up a JFA, but he decided to go the small-dollar route instead."

    Money is always persuasive, certainly. But in the end, you have to show how money HRC raised to save the DNC caused members of the DNC to do specific things that amount to "rigging" if you're going to throw that word around. Because its easy to allege things that are false if you never have to prove them. That's what the GOP does all day long -- it's character assassination. Make the accusation, stir up noise, never prove anything, move on to new accusation.

    That is what has been done here. The bottom line is that a majority of Democrats preferred a Democrat to an Independent and the Independent thought that was unfair and so did his followers. Instead of dealing with a perfectly predictable tendency of human nature constructively, he chose to resent it and encouraged his followers to resent it.

    Bernie wanted it both ways. He's spent his career trolling "parties" -- both GOP and Dem. But his policy preferences were more Dem than Repub so he voted along Dem lines. And he recognized 3rd Party candidates don't win so he "joined" the party purely to use it's structural assets. Which presented certain challenges since that party had its own candidate and party members were understandably biased in her favor. That's one of the advantages OF memberships in groups. Bernie wanted to be an "outsider" while reaping "insider" benefits.

    But unless someone shows what the DNC fucking DID to advantage HRC or disadvantage Bernie -- and Donna Brazile admits she found nothing -- the "rigging" allegation remains disproven. And continuing to throw it around stinks.

  17. [17] 
    Paula wrote:

    Now, here comes the next volley:

    The gist is Jeff Weaver says they were never offered a "side-deal", i.e. "the memo".

    I have no trouble believing that but of course we need context. HRC team came on board and said "we'll bail you out". Sanders came on board later and said: ???

    And after all the smoke has cleared away WHAT DID THE DNC DO THAT ADVANTAGED HRC AND DISADVANTAGED BERNIE?

  18. [18] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Good God!

    While the last presidential election campaign keeps on keeping on while the state of all aspects of the planet tend ever more toward chaos, what becomes clearer with each passing day is that America is tearing itself apart and neither the Republicans nor the Democrats seem capable of doing anything about it.

  19. [19] 
    Paula wrote:

    And as people work through the stuff coming out, keep in mind you have to separate primary stuff from GE stuff. And look for "specifics" versus vague statements.

  20. [20] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    It would be laughable if it wasn't all so damned pathetic.

  21. [21] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Or, a better idea, focus on what really matters.

  22. [22] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I guess Americans prefer to fight each other over solving problems that are merely existential in nature.

  23. [23] 
    Paula wrote:

    Elizabeth: It is an unfortunate fact that the media plays a very large role in our politics. Media failures literally resulted in this disastrous presidency.

    Russian operatives worked as hard at splitting the left as they did on promoting Trump. They succeeded whenever people believed their lies. And lots of people believed their lies because media wasn't fact-checking or providing context, it was simply amplifying. Some of this may be, in part, due to the fact that media was unaware -- at the time -- that interference was going on.

    I posted often about the incredible crap I was seeing on FB, which lots of people didn't take seriously. But I spoke to people who didn't like HRC because of the crap they were reading on FB. Literally.

    Now stuff about that is coming out:

    And Russian misinformation wasn't just on FB it was all over social media.

    The point is, right here and now we have a breaking story that illustrates, in real time, just how Democrat-slandering works. Unless people begin to see through this sort of manipulation it will continue to be effective.

    Re-litigating 2016 is a waste of time. But noticing when you're being manipulated into re-litigating, and how, 2016 is crucial.

  24. [24] 
    Paula wrote:

    Better stated: But noticing when you're being manipulated into re-litigating 2016, and how, is crucial.

  25. [25] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    You two women give the electronic media and political advertising in general, FAR too much credit. Never in my life have I ever once met a person who switched his political allegiance based on campaign advertising.

    People cast their votes based on only two criteria, philosophical/ideological leanings, or their pocket book, and nobody ever gets persuaded to change his mind by political advertising.

  26. [26] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    What about an up-wing vision and the courage to carry it out, CR ... has that ever persuaded you?

  27. [27] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Don't know what that is, but inasmuch as nothing has ever induced me to switch political philosophy, I presume the answer is no.

  28. [28] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Better stated: But noticing when you're being manipulated into re-litigating 2016, and how, is crucial.

    Just so long as what's really important - beyond nasty politics - isn't being ignored.

  29. [29] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Don't know what that is, but inasmuch as nothing has ever induced me to switch political philosophy, I presume the answer is no.

    And, therein lies the underlying problem with the current sad state of affairs that is the devolutionary nature of American political and media culture.

    Something different is in order and long overdue.

    I think a description of "up-wing" is also in order.

    Again. :)

    It's a term used by one of my favourite political analysts, William Bradley, and was derived from an idea that former Senator Gary Hart showed him to characterize political figures using a past-future spectrum instead of the usual right-wing/left-wing classification.

    To paraphrase Bradley, this past-future spectrum naturally runs from the up end to the down end of the spectrum, with the futurist end characterized by new technology, creative utilizations of existing technology, and new structural forms to pursue enduring values and new visions.

    The up-wing leader places a special emphasis on big think/think big future-oriented and enlightened policies in an effort to position a society on the global cutting edge, even in the midst of great challenges and crises that would paralyze a down-wing political leader.

    Additionally, to quote Bradley, "big thinking, big ideas need not be about big items per se. In fact, some of the biggest thinking is about small things, or more accurately, how to bring smaller things into play to solve problems that big things might make worse."

    This is a far superior method of characterizing political figures today than the outdated and tired left-wing/right wing labels because it identifies the candidate most capable of outlining a coherent vision for the future and of possessing the courage to carry it out.

  30. [30] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Yes, it could! It might even be up-wing!!

  31. [31] 
    Paula wrote:

    [28] You two women give the electronic media and political advertising in general, FAR too much credit. Never in my life have I ever once met a person who switched his political allegiance based on campaign advertising.

    There is a very big difference between obvious political ads and covert activity where what appears to be "regular people" are passing along stories, that appear to be approved by friends and acquaintances, etc. The seeding of social media was done very differently than political advertising. It was covert. It was very specifically targeted. Turns out Russian trolls actually got idiots to turn up at white supremacist rallies -- events CREATED by Russian trolls. Russian trolls caused Americans to DO things. Not just think things and yap online. That's serious. People most definitely WERE influenced by their efforts and all this is coming out now.

    Furthermore, in the case of Trump, the free ride he got from major media -- and the consistent False-Equivalencies where crime after crime after crime by Trump were paired with Emailgate most defiinitely accomplished 2 things: that nothing Trump had done was really serious because none of it got the level of emphasis as Emailgate, and that the level of emphasis given to Emailgate cemented in the public's minds that THE EMAILS were something bad and HRC was guilty of something bad because of those emails.

    CW doesn't do Facebook. I do. He has pretty much ignored stories about covert Russian interference there, possibly because he's unacquainted with the platform. It's going to turn into a bigger and bigger story and it should.

  32. [32] 
    neilm wrote:

    @C.R. Nevertheless, it's still a fact of life that wealth has to be produced before it can be distributed, and by virtue of that fact, it tends to originally belong to the people who produced it.

    Did you ever cover the subject of rents in your economics courses C. R.? For somebody who wishes to lecture everybody from your perch as the self declared Weigentian expert in economics, there seems to be a gaping hole in your understanding.

  33. [33] 
    neilm wrote:

    I don't care what happened in the 2016 primaries or the election. I just want this orange idiot gone as quickly as possible before he does too much harm to our country.

  34. [34] 
    Paula wrote:

    Re: Facebook -- its also not just Russian interference that is notable. Trump's campaign strategy was built on social media. All the Cambridge Analytica stuff is about how Trump's team leveraged data they were able to get through FB and Twitter (and others) and target their messages. Now much of their messaging echoes/piggybacked on the Russian-backed messaging -- which is part of what Mueller is investigating. But whether they did it deliberately or unknowingly, it's clear Social Media was not some insignificant player in the last election -- if anything it may have been far more decisive than we yet know.

  35. [35] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:


    I'm with CW on the no Facebook thing. Actually, there's a story there. I don't even own an iPhone, and I'm of the generation that frequently has to call the grandkids to get the computer up and running in the morning. Anyway I had no interest whatsoever in 'social media' interaction, until a couple yrs ago, when my local newspaper decided that they would only accept entries on their political blog if the blogger belonged to Facebook, so I had a grandkid set me up with a FB acct. I never posted a single entry to my FB page for all the time I had it, and then maybe 6 months ago, I used it get onto the Huffpost. I responded to some HP blogger who had an intense dislike to something I posted, to the effect that I considered her a moron, and the next time I tried to post, my acct came up "deactivated', which was fine by me.

    So, there's very likely a chance that I'm selling FB short, like you said about CW, but I still think you guys are giving them, and everybody else in that business, FAR too much credit.

  36. [36] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:


    My econ courses were very likely long before you were born, but no, I don't specifically remembering "covering the subject of rents", but I doubt that whatever you have in mind will de-legitimize anything I've written about "wealth having to be produced before it can be distributed."

    That's sorta like a basic fact of life, right?

  37. [37] 
    Paula wrote:

    [40] C.R.: I think you ARE selling it short.

    Keep in mind, political advertising on TV has a set of rules that have to be followed -- the "I'm Hillary Clinton and I approve this message" and "paid for AARP" stuff. But none of those rules applied to social media during the last campaign because the platforms are out there ahead of the rules. All kinds of stuff was spread without being identified. There were ads, but there were also bots -- fake people -- who were passing along the stuff being cooked up by Russian actors.

    Additionally, execs from Facebook and Twitter were actually grilled recently by the House Intelligence Committee because the info they've gotten has been so worrisome.

    This is a big problem that has to be dealt with, and Trump/GOP has no interest at this time in doing so because, till now, it's helped them win. Nothing, but nothing, could be better for the GOP than access to avenues where they can spread lies without pushback. Which leads us back to this whole Donna Brazile business -- whenever people are able to throw allegations out there without having to prove them, they win. It is easy to allege. It is harder to prove. If you never have to prove you get the benefit of the damage.

  38. [38] 
    neilm wrote:

    "wealth having to be produced before it can be distributed."

    That's sorta like a basic fact of life, right?

    Not really, because you only quoted part of your statement:

    it tends to originally belong to the people who produced it

    Time to crack open an Economics book and understand rents.

    Also, laddie boy, if you were studying economics long before I was born, we should be seeing your name in the Guinness Book of Records.

  39. [39] 
    John M wrote:

    C.R. Stucki

    While it is true that political advertising does not change someone's political affiliation, i.e. turn a liberal into a conservative or vice versa, it has been proven that it can either motivate or discourage someone as far as actually showing up at the polls. In other words, it can definitely have an impact on voter turnout. Otherwise, negative ads would not work so well, nor would political advertising be invested in so heavily. Your goal can be as much to turn people off as it can be to turn them on, or even frighten them, a la the Willie Horton ads etc. as either a positive or negative motivational tool.

  40. [40] 
    Paula wrote:

    [44} John M: Yep.

  41. [41] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:


    I'm just gonna hazard a guess here that we're using different definitions of 'wealth'. I probably should have mentioned that for purposes of the economic principles now under discussion, I'm using the term to mean the actual physical production of goods or services. I'm betting you are thinking of the accumulation of money. I realize that one can accumulate money without producing any goods or services, perhaps robbing banks, playing the stock market, shakedowns, and the like, but the laws and principles of economics don't play much of a role in that area.

  42. [42] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    John M

    As I've previously stated, my experience and observation is that people who vote cast their votes for political candidates almost exclusively based on either ideology or pocketbook issues.

    I can't begin to explain why people who do not vote, do not vote. Perhaps you have a point, maybe some are dissuaded by lies spread on social media. I just couldn't say.

  43. [43] 
    neilm wrote:

    I'm using the term to mean the actual physical production of goods or services

    What about the extra cost we pay for sugar because the sugar industry has protections - they make a lot of their money from that particular rent - who owns that wealth? The sugar manufacturers, or the consumers who are foced to give up their wealth due to the rent?

    Or how about the $1,800 extra we pay for new cars because the dealerships have a monopoly on selling cars?

  44. [44] 
    Paula wrote:

    From a few days ago:

    On that day, protesters organized by the two groups showed up on Travis Street in downtown Houston, a scene that appeared on its face to be a protest and a counterprotest. Interactions between the two groups eventually escalated into confrontation and verbal attacks.

    Burr, the committee's chairman, unveiled the ads at a hearing Wednesday morning and said Russians managed to pit Texans against each other for the bargain price of $200.

    Social media was "weaponized" as they say, during the 2016 campaign. Some steps have been taken recently, such as the closing of twitter accounts, FB pages, reddit sub-groups, etc., found to be Russian frauds or white supremacist efforts. The Russian goal was general sowing of chaos, and destruction of democratic norms. They've been actively encouraging anti-everyone sentiments: anti-gay, anti-Muslim, anti-Jewish, anti-BLM -- starting fights both between left and right, and left and left.

    But we're really just starting to cope with this. It is unlike anything we've seen before in terms of the "how". The "what" -- propaganda, isn't new. But the stealthy "how" was new.

  45. [45] 
    Speak2 wrote:

    Sorry, DH [50]:

    You beat that horse every single chance you get. Most of us would agree that money is a corrupting influence in the political process. However, you need to play by the rules, as they exist. Only by winning (with existing rules) do you get to change the rules for the better.

    I will admit, it's rare for a sitting politician to actually work to change the rules, but that doesn't change the reality of how it can or can't be done.

  46. [46] 
    Speak2 wrote:

    Here's my thoughts that no one seems to address (I think my dates are accurate, or close enough - don't quibble).

    Sanders first ran for office in '72. He ran his first successful campaign in '80. He joined Congress in '91 (after the '90 election and before the Clintons came to DC).

    Why does anyone believe that anything was "stolen" from him? He has been around long enough to know the "game." If he got beat (fewer votes, games being played), then that's on him. He's not a "naive" player who didn't know what this was.

  47. [47] 
    Speak2 wrote:

    Continuing on this [52] theme, Clinton had every advantage in '08 that she had in '16. The Obama campaign came in and figured out the primary rules in a way that Clinton's people (Penn) did not. They used that to their advantage and won.

    Clinton had superdelegates before 2007 was out and had a commanding lead in Dec '07. Yet, the reason no one has jettisoned superdels is because they have never actually gone against the popular vote. By March, most were switching allegiances.

    Obama took Clinton in '08, fair and square, even with every element of the establishment Dem party pulling for Clinton.

    Sanders, on the other hand, seemed to get beat exactly the same way Clinton got beat in '08 (e.g. Nevada).

    Again, Sanders is no novice. His loss is on him.

  48. [48] 
    Paula wrote:

    Speak2 [52] and [53]: Yep and yep.

  49. [49] 
    Paula wrote:

    Another mass shooting...

  50. [50] 
    John M wrote:

    Conservatives always complain about how they want a smaller government, and how liberals always want a bigger, nanny state government. But let the discussion turn to something that they dislike, whether it be abortion or food stamps, for example, and suddenly they too want a bigger more intrusive government into people's private lives as well. Take food stamps, for example. They see someone using them to buy cake or lobster. But then they never stop to think, maybe that cake is the only time during the entire year that that mother buys one for the birthday of her child, trying to make an otherwise dreary life just a little better. Or maybe that lobster is the only time she buys one because she has planned for it all year long for her wedding anniversary, and wants to celebrate and forget for just one night her otherwise grinding poverty. But all conservatives see is that suddenly they want to micromanage someone else's consumer choices and not the hypocrisy of their own anti nanny state position.

    Another example would be the guaranteed basic income for everybody. Suppose someone does just want to live on that and not work a day in their life, so what? Why try to control them to do otherwise? Once you have provided them with the basics, the rest is really up to them. How is it really any business of yours? That would actually be the true conservative, Libertarian position. Once you have provided them with the ability to avoid starvation, sickness and death, what they actually do with it really is up to them.

    Say you give an ongoing annuity, inheritance, allowance, whatever, to two siblings. One uses it to further their education and provide a safety net for themselves. The other gambles it away every year. That's up to them isn't it? At least you, as a society, have set an even playing field for everyone to really strive from their based on their own talents and ambitions.

  51. [51] 
    John M wrote:

    Paula [55]

    Yes, sadly, apparently 27 dead in a small Baptist church in Texas, including the pastor's 14 year old daughter.

    I still don't understand how thinking that having even more armed individuals with even more guns will help the situation.

    Did you know that even in the old supposedly wild west, when you entered a town like Dodge City, you had to turn your gun over to the town Marshall for safe keeping, and could only collect it again when you were ready to leave town? In fact, the city passed an ordinance that guns could not be worn or carried north of the "deadline" which was the railroad tracks. The south side where "anything went" was however wide open.

    Guns don't kill people. People kill people. But one person who can only kill 5 people with a knife, can kill 30 to 100 people with a gun, and can kill a million with a weapon of mass destruction. Yet no one argues we should allow just anyone to have a chemical bomb in their garage simply because they want and can afford one. Or that we would all only just be so much safer if everybody carried some deadly poisons around with them all the time everywhere they went. Other countries seem to have figured this out. Why can't the USA?

  52. [52] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Fresh human sacrifies to the cult of "Gun Culture." It has become State
    Ritual with familar prayers, icons and shrines. Mumbo Jumbo, don't try to make rational sense of it.

  53. [53] 
    neilm wrote:

    The NRA and their politicians enable another mass killing. Will dumb America ever learn?

  54. [54] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Don H [61]

    Doesn't your own last sentence drive home the fact that it ain't EVER gonna happen!???

  55. [55] 
    Paula wrote:

    John M [56] Yep.

    Re: basic income -- the idea threatens a host of western/American/"Christian" beliefs about "why we're here" and "who deserves what" as well as how economies work. If we were/are ever to actually have a national discussion about GBI, it would be interesting to say the least.

    [57] Why can't the USA? Because a whole lot of money is spent to keep the USA from dealing with this problem. Personally I don't think the problem is unsolvable because of that (tons of # being spent to stop responsive action) -- but no solution if problem isn't clearly understood.

    [63] One Demand: your solution is based on individuals choosing to take a risk in a situation where that choice could cause them to lose. The incentive, therefore, isn't there for the politician. And any solution to a serious problem that is entirely reliant on voluntary choice is doomed.

    Humans are human. Thats why the notion of "checks and balances" is so important. Ideally you build incentives and constraints into systems in ways that keep any one individual or group from amassing too much power. But the constraints can't be limited to one person/group. They have to be distributed in multiple places. With respect to campaign finance, there needs to be positive incentives for politicians as well as constraints against abuses. Your solution offers a theoretical incentive -- "do the right thing!" -- built on an extremely limited and questionable track record -- as balanced against definite incentives for pols to raise as much $ as possible and limited constraints against them.

    And if getting your idea to even be considered by individual politicians is reliant on grassroots pressure you're in an even weaker position in terms of convincing anyone than if there was a legal mechanism. The grassroots are really busy right now trying to save the republic as well as advancing a number of other causes.

    However you can continue to scream into the wind if it makes you happy.

  56. [56] 
    Paula wrote:


    Many people assert that HRC losing to Blotus is ipso facto proof she was a weak candidate because Blotus was so clearly flawed. If they don't factor in the covert work being done to prop up Blotus, destroy his GOP rivals and create cracks on the left, they aren't telling the whole story. And therefore their prescriptions for future success will fail.

  57. [57] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:


    Regardless of how hard to try to rationalize Clinton's defeat, you're always gonna be stuck with the fact that the Dems nominated the only person out of 225 million Americans capable of losing to the ass hole in the oval office.

    As you're aware, I think you WAY over-rate the "covert work" stuff. People vote their ideology or their pocketbook, not what they hear or especially not what they read on the social media stuff. The people who are dumb enough to believe the social media stuff are likely mostly non-voters anyway.

  58. [58] 
    Paula wrote:

    Did Donald Trump collude with the Russians? Did Wikileaks know they were acting as a Russian pawn? Did the Russian hacks do enough damage to steal the election from Hillary Clinton? Nobody knows. It’s possible we’ll never know. But we do know that Russian officials were behind all this, and that their goal was to weaponize a personal grudge and ensure that Clinton never became president of the United States. This should outrage you even if you support Trump. The fact that an awful lot of Republicans don’t seem to care is a grim harbinger of a decadent political system on the precipice of decline and collapse.

  59. [59] 
    Paula wrote:

    {66} You are missing the larger picture. When a covert activity is happening -- for the first time ever -- the candidate it's aimed at doesn't even know what it is they're fighting. Which makes it really hard to combat effectively.

    This was not a routine campaign. This was not a conventional wisdom campaign. Your old assumptions aren't helpful. They just keep you from taking a hard look at actual events. And it is always the easiest to discount things that you are, confessedly, ignorant about.

  60. [60] 
    Paula wrote:

    [69] And around we go. I don't (neither do others here) discount the problem that Big Money types will not pass legislation, yada, yada" -- I discount your solution. Your solution won't work. You suggest candidates should take the risk and they'll look at you and say "what the eff?"

    You telling other people THEY have to risk their success to satisfy you isn't persuasive to them, methinks.

    Your "incentive" won't beat the disincentives.

  61. [61] 
    Paula wrote:

    [72] You are telling candidates they have to agree to your terms in order to attract a group of voters you have to have convinced should make their choice based on your criteria. So you have to sell to voters that your idea is the most important criteria in their choice.

    And you have to convince candidates you can deliver enough voters relative to their opponents who have not agreed to your terms.

    So you are inserting yourself between candidates and voters in an attempt to bend them to your will and you think you can do this because, to you, the idea is so obviously good.

    Like gun-control or Single Payer or scores of other obviously good ideas that struggle in the face of countervailing incentives.

  62. [62] 
    Paula wrote:

    [74] All we have to do is prove to candidates that if they choose not to meet our criteria that we will register a vote against them and their opponent if that candidate does not meet our criteria. If they lose because they did not get our votes- the candidates in the next election will get the message.

    Uh huh. You have to fire up those people who don't normally participate in primaries and you have to prove you have that magical 15-20% on board who are going to vote the way you want them to for the reasons you want them to. Up front.

    How you gonna do that?

    Even after the fact, a failure to vote doesn't do shit because no one comes around later and asks people about why they didn't vote. And even if they did, so what? It's too late and good luck being persuasive next time. All you'll do is convince pols to focus more heavily on people they know DO vote, if you make any impression at all.

  63. [63] 
    Paula wrote:

    [76] So I will continue to press CW, Ralph Nader and anyone else in the media that claims to present different perspectives and consider all options to live up to their claims and journalistic responsibilities until I succeed in entering One Demand into the public debate and achieve the 15-20% national participation that has nothing to do with magic.

    Really don't want to harsh your buzz but I think you grossly underestimate your ability to accomplish the above, and grossly underestimate what it means not merely to enter an idea into public debate, but actually turn that debate into action, by enough people, to achieve your objectives.

    As for the "not-voting" part of my previous comment, my point is that you can threaten to not-vote for candidates who don't cooperate but being able to convince them or others that they lost due to those non-votes would be hard to do. How would you do it? Your scenario has to meet a set of theoretical conditions to work. There has to be one candidate who goes along, a bunch that don't, then the one who goes along has to win and agree that he/she won coz of One Demand. If the One Demander loses, your argument is shot. If several people go along and one of them wins, you can't prove they won because of One Demand because now people had multiple criteria from which to choose. If people stay home because no one signed on no one cares about them and their reasons, they focus on the people who show up.

  64. [64] 
    Paula wrote:

    [78] You are probably right -- I have not read your posts closely enough to understand the details.

    The theoretical conditions that you ramble on about such as "there has to be one candidate that goes along, etc." are conditions that have nothing to do with how One Demand works and have already been explained.

    Feel free to paste from old posts -- or don't bother if you don't feel like it -- to describe how you would approach a group of 4 candidates running in a primary (we have 4 running on the Dem side for Governor next year) and pitch One Demand to each of them and then game out what happens when:

    1. None agree
    2. One agrees, three don't
    3. Two agree, two don't
    4. Three agree, one doesn't
    4. All four agree

    Separately, how, specifically do you reach the voters to inform them about One Demand?

    Finally, how do you track the voters' actions to confirm they followed through?

  65. [65] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Don H

    It isn't that people don't admire your vision and idealism, but we don't live in an ideal world, nor do we even live in a world that ever was or ever will have a ghost of a chance to become ideal, so long as it's operated by humankind!

  66. [66] 
    Kick wrote:


    And we would have gotten away with it, too; if it weren't for those meddling kids!

    *LOL* My glasses! I can't see without my glasses!

    Charles Brown, Esq.! So good to "see" you Chuck!

  67. [67] 
    Kick wrote:


    the primary elections weren't rigged, but based on CW's commentary the fundraising certainly was.

    Not sure this FACT will ever be given the proper attention it deserves, but much of Bernie's "27 dollar" contributions didn't exactly come from American donors. And as I said many, many months ago:

    Follow the money:

    Russia ---> Cyprus/Wilbur Ross ---> Trump ---> RNC

    Paul Manafort and his employee Tad Devine... the same Tad Devine who was the chief strategist of Bernie's campaign -- and their "friend" from the Ukraine/Russia, Viktor Yanukovych, could explain how that whole thing works.

    Like Paula so very rightly noted: Bernie was "strangely unmoved" by Brazile's phone call. Of course Bernie was unmoved, unfazed, unimpressed with Brazile's "news." Bernie... not a Democrat... was working under the same DNC rules and signed the same agreements. The RNC has similar rules and similar agreements, but I digress.

    Maybe Devine's buddy Manafort will have the decency to explain that whole money laundering thing and how vast sums of money from overseas are flooding into our elections of late. Regardless, as I have said on this board many times over: Some of them are going to prison. :)

  68. [68] 
    Kick wrote:


    Bernie wanted to be an "outsider" while reaping "insider" benefits.

    I know, right?! And Bernie sued the DNC when Bernie's staffers accessed data belonging to HRC's campaign. Can you imagine the whining of the Berners if HRC staffers had breached Bernie's data?

    But unless someone shows what the DNC fucking DID to advantage HRC or disadvantage Bernie -- and Donna Brazile admits she found nothing -- the "rigging" allegation remains disproven. And continuing to throw it around stinks.

    Yes, ma'am. I believe Brazile's book is much ado about nothing new. The irony here, of course, is there are many more instances of Donna Brazile actually doing the "rigging" in HRC's favor, and somebody lost their job at CNN and needed a new source of income -- but that's another debate (pun intended). :)

  69. [69] 
    Kick wrote:

    C.R. Stucki

    You two women give the electronic media and political advertising in general, FAR too much credit. Never in my life have I ever once met a person who switched his political allegiance based on campaign advertising.

    You simply need to get out more.

    People cast their votes based on only two criteria, philosophical/ideological leanings, or their pocket book, and nobody ever gets persuaded to change his mind by political advertising.

    "Only" two criteria? *LOL* You're a laugh riot, and you really do need to get out more. You also seem to prefer to communicate in terms like "every" and "all" and "nobody," where you lump groups of people into your little "simple" boxes, and to that I would like to inform you that if you continue this nonsensical BS in every post on these comment boards, we're all going to think your mind is simple, and nobody will take you seriously. :)

  70. [70] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:


    I presume that constitutes your confession that you DO switch your political allegiance based on campaign advertising, right?

    That would indicate that some people do indeed BELONG in a "simple box". Perhaps you should try "getting out" (of your simple box) more.

  71. [71] 
    Kick wrote:

    C.R. Stucki

    I presume...

    *LOL* Yep. I answered you in the latest comments section.

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