Sunday, February 7, 2016

White House "Terrified" Hillary Will Lose in November

CNN began reporting on Friday night, February 5, that the Clintons have taken an appalling $156 million as speaking fees since 2001. CNN further noted: "The two also reported at least $7.7 million for at least 39 speeches to big banks, including Goldman Sachs and UBS, with Hillary Clinton, the Democratic 2016 front-runner, collecting at least $1.8 million for at least eight speeches to big banks." index.html

By Saturday night CNN was further reporting that the White House is stunned by Hillary Clinton's bad judgment in taking all this money from banks and then shrugging it off by saying "It's what they were offering." The White House is now reportedly "terrified" Hillary will lose the November election, thus handing over all of President's Obama's hard-won gains for the American people into the hands of the GOP to demolish.

And can you guess who was on CNN disclosing the White House's terror?  None other than Carl Bernstein, one of the pair of Washington Post reporters who discovered and reported the Watergate scandal that drove President Nixon from office. In going to the White House to get this follow-up story of a new scandal, Bernstein showed the old-time initiative too often missing in today's reporting. Given his unforgettable association with the coverage of Watergate, just his appearance at the White House front door might have sent some shivers through the president's staff. After all, who better knows a scandal when he sees one than Carl Bernstein?

But I'm sure the White House was already scared before Bernstein got there. That's why they let him in and confided their fears to him. Perhaps they had even summoned him. Make no mistake: the message of White House terror was not accidentally or inadvertently slipped to Bernstein. A message this big was deliberately released. It's a message to the entire Democratic party and to Hillary Clinton, more powerful for having been delivered through such as Carl Bernstein. What the message seems to be saying is, "We have a big scandal on our hands, as big as Watergate in its potential damage. Prepare to abandon ship." And the ship is.....? Of course! It's Hillary Clinton.

Now things get really hairy!

Will Obama endorse Bernie Sanders? I doubt it. I think he'll continue to withhold any public endorsement of either. 

Will he take Hillary to the woodshed, i.e. call her in for a frank scolding and lots of coaching. That doesn't seem too likely. By letting Carl Bernstein publicize the White House's terror, Obama has as good as said that Hillary is hopeless. If he'd thought he could straighten her out, he would have done so quietly with no prior fuss. But everyone knows what a stubborn and uncoachable person Hillary Clinton is. 

Will the White House lean on Hillary to get out of the nomination race and make way for Joe Biden? I would suspect the White House is seriously considering this option. Obama genuinely likes Joe Biden and respects him. After all, he chose Biden's unhawkish advice in foreign affairs as against the hawkishness of Secretary of State Clinton. And maybe—just maybe–Joe Biden would change his mind about running. After all, he's Irish. To an Irishman, something that comes around for a second time does so for a reason. (Wait! you say. Surely that's not the way political people make big decisions! They sure do, especially if they are Irish.)

Maybe Obama will do a different kind of instinctive approach. He's a cautious man, and maybe his cautious nature is saying, "Let it play its own way out. Don't try to second-guess the way of things." 

But that isn't really caution, is it? 

At risk in November is all the monumental things Obama has worked for and achieved. The list of risks is stunning:

- A Republican president will reverse the Iran nuclear ban agreement. 
- He will immediately put our boots on the ground in the Syrian war. 
He will abrogate the climate protection treaty with China and the big international one this past fall in Paris. 
- He will reverse the federal orders mandating better car and truck mileage and tightening emission standards. 
He will also lift the new federal restrictions on coal-fired electric plants. 
- He will gladly sign a bill ending Obamacare and reverse the increased coverage of Medicare. 
- He will also loosen the protections Obama has placed on federal lands. 
- Of great importance to me and my good friends in the Native American community, he will quietly undo the justice that Obama—first of all presidents—has extended to them, including the long overdue payment of billions in contracted royalties for the timber, grazing, mining and water extracted by American businesses from Native American lands. 
- And what of the Dream Kids, the mainly "illegal" Latinos whom Obama ordered not deported so that they could finish their educations and military service and be on a path to citizenship. Do you think a GOP president will continue that program?
- And what of the federal tax policies and other rulings that have been changed by Obama on behalf of gay rights?

CNN speaks of the White House being terrified as to what will happen to "Obama's legacy" if Hillary loses in November. But it's not Obama's legacy, is it?

It's OUR legacy! It's even the legacy of the world's entire population.

Let's be real here. Without Obama's steps to save this planet from global warming, the planet is doomed. His "legacy" regarding carbon reduction is the last best hope of the world's human population and the possibility of saving most of the world's plant and animal species.  

We cannot and must not have a Republican succeed him in the presidency. If Hillary getting out of the race is a necessary step to stop a GOP victory in November, then that's what must happen.

Let us hope the Democratic and independent voters deny her the nomination. If not, then Obama must do all he can. Maybe he should even act now.

This is indeed a wild year!

Footnote: Boast and brag time. I've said all along that Hillary Clinton is a terrible candidate with terrible baggage. See my blog posting:   Hillary? They Call Her the Wagon Lady. It's from back in July. So I get to say "I told you so."


Saturday, February 6, 2016

Hillary Clinton, Appearances Do Matter.

[Since I wrote this post it has come to my attention that CNN is just this evening reporting the Clintons have actually received approximately $153 million in speaking fees since 2001, averaging about $200,000 per speech. I am astonished. I thought the $675, 000 discussed below was an unseemly amount for Hillary to get for three speeches. It's just their going rate! CNN further states: "The two also reported at least $7.7 million for at least 39 speeches to big banks, including Goldman Sachs and UBS, with Hillary Clinton, the Democratic 2016 front-runner, collecting at least $1.8 million for at least eight speeches to big banks." I repeat— I am astonished.]

Hillary Clinton is an attorney. I am an attorney. We both know one thing for sure. In fact, the attorneys' bar associations require we know this: Appearances do matter. As my sainted Irish politico mother used to say, "The appearance of propriety is as important as propriety itself."

We all know what that means. It's why judges "recuse" themselves, i.e. do not hear cases in which they have some connection to one of the parties. For the sake of protecting public respect for the law, judges must not even appear to have favorites in a case.

You don't have to be an attorney to get this. In Little League the general rule is that the umpire is not the father of one of the players.

When Hillary Clinton takes a lot of money from banks—and it's public record she has done so— she creates the impression she is beholden to them.  To add to this impression she has indeed favored them even when the public interest seemed contrary. The banks would have been greatly aided when she changed her prior position and supported making bankruptcy laws harsher on middle class families, who typically were being crushed into bankruptcy by catastrophic medical bills.  Before becoming a senator funded by the banks, she had actually opposed this crushing measure.

But even if we didn't know about this—and the media is just now digging up this sad act of hers—she has created the impression that she is the banks' bought-and-paid-for senator. You can't take $675,000 from Goldman Sachs in one year just to make three speeches without it looking pretty damn strange. When queried about the huge size of this fee by a moderator at a New Hampshire campaign event,  Hillary looked flustered and said, "Well, that's what they were offering."

Couldn't she see such questions were inevitable if she took such huge sums? Hillary's not stupid. Why couldn't she see that she was setting herself up for looking very bad indeed.

What's worse is that she has made the Senate seem more corrupt than it might have otherwise. Of course, I have to admit that Congress is already held in low esteem by the American public, with a favorable rating somewhere around 14%. That's pretty bad even for Congress. But it isn't the fate of Congress I worry about.

It's the kids that I worry about. All those kids ages18-to-25 now pouring into politics. I raised six kids on my own, have ten grandkids of approximately college age, and I have taught thousands more young people in law school and college. I love the young. They have a right to believe in their country and in their own future. If their government appears corrupt, then their vision of their own future is diminished. They know they can't win in a rigged game. In fact, they know they can't even survive.

We are, in fact, in a life and death struggle this election year. The young know it. They fear climate change. They also struggle with inadequately paid jobs and severe college debt. Fewer and fewer can even marry, buy homes, start families. They see corruption in our government as a literal death warant for the planet, let alone the death of their own modest dreams of a home and family. With government bought and paid for by money-making, short-sighted businesses, limiting global warming is doomed and thus we are all doomed. We need laws and enforcement that make sense for our future rather than laws that just make money for the one percent.

If our government continues to appear corrupt, something really bad could happen. We see inklings of it in Donald Trump strutting and posturing like Mussolini. The media thinks his popularity depends entirely on his anti-immigrant tirades, but that's not entirely it by a long shot. He is speaking to the blue-collar men who are already so disheartended that they are reported as dying in droves from the virtual suicide of drugs and alcohol. The media is startled to find that some of the blue-collar men are also considering voting for Bernie Sanders because he too is against the rigged game. Donald Trump's biggest move was to declare he was financing his own campaign and would be beholden to no monied interest.

If Hillary's appearance of impropriety continues, it's not just that she will lose the nomination or lose the general election. She will help start the snowball downhill as we continue the beginnings of a slide toward some dreadful sort of rebellion in this country. I don't mean the "political revoluton" Bernie Sanders talks of. Not at all. It could be brown shirts and boots and torches. It could be broken shop windows and rounding up of "the others" who supposedly made the problems. I was a child when it happened in Europe as fascism and—yes!—it could happen here.

America is an act of faith. The appearance of a corrupt government destroys faith.

Is that worth the $675,000, Hillary?

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Did You Win the $20 Million in the Political Revolution?

Yesterday I claimed that Bernie Sanders' "political revolution" has already arrived. Chapter One has been written by his stopping the mighty Clinton machine in Iowa against all the odds and predictions. He has thus written the First Commandment of the revolution: Thou shalt not hand over the American presidency as an "entitlement".  Hillary Clinton is not getting a crown on a silk cushion.

And the Second Chapter has also been written. I said yesterday that if you guessed what it was, you'd win $20 million dollars. Well, I lied. But only a little bit. You'll win $23 million!

I am referring to the huge accomplishment of Bernie Sanders in fund-raising. He got $20 million in January alone! A new record in fund-raising! In average contributions of $27! That's also a new record in fund-raising. Then in the hour after the Iowa caucuses' result was obviously a tie, he got another $1 million. Within 24 hours that grew to another $3 million.

And it's all yours. Because this is how we buy back our country. It's how we buy back your future and that of your kids.

Forever! Because this can be the end of big money controlling politics and dictating the laws by which we live, the laws that favor the very rich.

Bernie Sanders has proved—come what may—that ordinary people can do what it takes to get back their country.  If we the people finance campaigns, there's no longer room for big money to buy politicians.

If...... That little word that means so much. "If we the people finance campaigns..." Of course we can do it. Do we have the will? I believe we do!

So let's mark February 2 as another July 4.  We can declare ourselves and our elected officials to be free of the dominion of big money.

I am not alone in this conclusion that Bernie's fund-raising is a great gift to us all and to the future of America. Regarding the New Hampshire debate a truly objective expert says:

“I think Sanders spoke the only central truth of both campaigns. Neither one of their platforms means anything unless there is first real campaign finance reform. Without it, the gerrymandered and legally bribed Congress and the leadership of both parties will block any significant change. ” — Marc Cooper, retired professor at USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism

Bernie Sanderd has unshackled us and American politics from enslavement to big money financing of campaigns.  Free at last!  Free at last! Great God Almighty, we are free at last!

So now what do we do about the gerrymandering that has given us a Congress controlled by the most conservative rural areas of America?  I'm working on it, folks. I'm working on it.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Bernie Sanders' "Political Revolution" Is Resoundingly Here

On Monday night in Iowa, Bernie Sanders, a 74-year-old socialist Jew who looks like an unmade bed, came from obscurity and with no monied backers nevertheless stopped the most powerful political machine in America in its tracks. Even with a ground game modeled on Obama's in 2008 and run by Obama people, Hillary Clinton still needed some coin-tossing shenanigans in several precincts to eke out a "winning" margin of two-tenths fraction of one percent.

She was like that mighty tank in Tianamen Square facing that lone man with the flower in his hand. Except this time the tank didn't roll forward. The lone man still stands, with his millions of supporters behind him.

With all her deep-pocket backers, well-known identity, wealth of endorsements, and legendary campaigner of a husband, a tie in Iowa against "Mr. Nobody" Bernie Sanders was for her a resounding defeat.

Bernie Sanders has proved that he is one hell of a campaigner and that Hillary Clinton is not. In fact, she is a dreadful candidate. In forty+ years of active political campaigning, I have seldom seen a candidate as bad as Hillary Clinton. I will not rehearse here the familiar litany of her phoniness, stiltedness, lack of clear message, and hautiness. On caucus night she tried to be forceful and instead came across as ugly angry. Maybe she was angry. After all she had just had her clock cleaned by an out-of-nowhere contender.

This was the first chapter in Bernie Sander's political revolution. Call it the First Commandment: Thou shalt not hand off the American presidency on the basis of "entitlement".  You want it, you gotta win it! Hillary is not entitled to anything. She may be the wife of an ex-president. She may have been Secretary of State. But nothing she accomplished in either capacity or since entitles her to more than a cup of coffee. In fact, her messing in on health care insurance in 1993 cost us that much needed program for 20 years. From the time she grabbed the issue and began "holding hearings", Congress was set against her and the program she was pushing. Congress makes the laws, not First Ladies. As for Secretary of State, she accomplished nothing in six years, while John Kerry has accomplished plenty in one year.

And I say as a woman who helped break down barriers in politics, journalism, and law: Hillary Clinton is not entitled to anything because she's a woman. In fact, as far she's come she has ridden on her husband's back. That's not what we real women do. We make it on our own. And we don't need Hillary Clinton. We don't need a woman in the presidency in order to know that we are equal.

And the Second Commandment in Bernie Sander's "political revolution"?  Next time. Until then guess what it is and win $20 million!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Bernie Sander's Big Breakthroughs. Both of them.

No matter how Iowa comes out tomorrow, Bernie Sanders has just done two important things.

Today his campaign announced that he has raised $20 million on-line in just one month! This is unprecedented. It could be the beginning of the end of fat cat funding across the entire political spectrum. The fat cats will die hard, as will their lazy recipients. But the day may be coming when the people will finance all the campaigns, local and state and Congressional, out of their own pockets and thus get the governing they want. It started with Howard Dean, continued with Barack Obama but never at this scale.

The second big achievement was announced today in the New York Times. Bernie Sanders is now drawing voters from the biggest block of all, the under $50,000-a-year income group. This is huge news about a huge voting block. Until now skeptics have said Sanders' base was too narrow, consisting of the young, educated, and affluent. The middle class and poorer voters have now begun to hear him and respond. This is good for Sanders' campaign but it's also good for these folks who have been getting squished by the rich. They need a champion and now they have one.  You can see the article at…/bernie-sanders-is-making-surprisin…

Meantime, a snowstorm threatens Iowa for tomorrow evening. If it arrives, will it suppress turnout?

And so we wait to see how this wildy interesting year progresses through Act One of the choosing of the president of the United States of America. Can a simple thing like a snowfall make the difference?

Footnote: The NY Times article alleges Sanders is losing some affluent people but offers no substantiation. If so, it's still better to gain from the bigger pool of under $50K per year.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Hillary Clinton Believes Sanders Is Winning

Is Bernie Sanders going to win in Iowa on Monday?

I don't know. No one knows. But it's getting obvious that Hillary Clinton thinks he is.

She has just done three things which telegraph what looks like enormous fear.

First, she has had her own daughter tell a huge and blatant lie about Sanders, one that could be refuted in an instant, claiming that he is going to take away Medicare, the children's health care program and Obamacare. Her daughter did not note, as truth would oblige her to, that Sanders wants to replace them with single payer health care coverage, effectively making them an extension of Medicare to cover everyone. Hillary herself has told the same lie. Only real panic could have driven her to say something so outrageous that the media sucked in its collective breath and hardly knew what to say about her whopper and the obvious panic that spawned it.

Then, having "stumbled badly", as the media called it upon recovering its breath, she made her next big mistake. She repeated Bill Clinton's 2008 type of attack on Obama. Bill Clinton had called Obama's campaign ideas "a fairy tale." The American public in 2008 didn't like being told that a vision for a better future was just nonsense. By implication that makes the voters a bunch of fools for believing things could get better. They actually did get lots better under Obama in spite of the GOP Congress, but the real point is that people like to hope. After all, when Bill Clinton ran for president, he was touted as "the man from Hope". Hillary's sneered at Bernie Sander's ideas for bettering people's lives as being "impossible", thus reminding people of the naysayers in Congress blocking the changes Obama hoped to bring. It's like Sarah Palin saying "Where's all that hopey changey stuff now?" It was desperation politics on Hilary's part. And the desperation showed.

Then came this week's giveaway, the sure sign that Hillary is indeed desperate. Suddenly she has proposed there be a debate among the Democratic would-be nominees, such to be sponsored by MSNBC. This is mighty strange coming from the establishment candidate who had received the huge favor from the Democratic National Committee of having very few debates and almost all of them on weekend nights when no one watches TV.  She had obviously hoped by this DNC schedule to deny Bernie Sanders much public exposure, oblivious to the new day that on-line media has brought to campaigning.

Now, amazingly,  Hillary Clinton, the presumed easy winner in the Democratic nomination process, seemingly needs another appearance before the public to save her skin. She's a good debater in the sense of a high school debate that is based on scoring the most points. She might have done herself some good. But there could be no reason to ask for this debate unless she felt she really needed it. No one who is leading ever wants the other guy to have another chance at changing the public's mind. What's also interesting is that she wanted it between the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. We have known from polls for weeks—and so has Hillary— that Sanders has a huge lead in the New Hampshire polls. So why this last minute wild attempt to pull New Hampshire away from him?

Is it because of South Carolina?

I think Hillary Clinton's much-vaunted "fire-wall" of South Carolina has begun to smolder. The theory of the establishment-oriented commentators has been that Clinton can afford to lose both Iowa and New Hampshire because the large black vote in South Carolina and other Southern states assures she will win that block. Black people supposedly love her because they supposedly love Bill Clinton.

I don't believe black people are automatons. None I know are. They can change with the times. They can reflect now that so many black men are in prison because "their" president Bill Clinton pushed some hideously hard "law and order" measures so he could be "a centrist" and more popular. Ferguson and similar outrages have pulled back the curtain on America's shameful abuse of law enforcement, and this has further fueled the recognition that we imprison minorities at an unconscionable rate, aided by Clinton era measures. I'm not black, but I figured out that one. Blacks can too.

As for blacks loving Hillary because they loved Bill, well, I loved Harry Truman but his wife Bess made my skin crawl. People, be they black or whatever, choose whom they like.

Besides, there's a lot of young black people who do not remember the Clinton years in a compelling way. If you are twenty now, the Clinton years happened when you were a toddler. So it's not surprising that a rumor is coming from the black South that a generational divide has developed in the black community.  Young black people are drawn to Bernie Sanders, just as young white people are. People aren't their color; people are people. Youth calls to youth.

So maybe Hillary feels she must fight like hell for New Hampshire, that she can no longer count on a firewall of the black South.

Well, I'll say this. Given these three startling moves on her part these past two weeks, either she believes that she's in deep trouble or she sure is giving a good imitation of a candidate who believes just that.

What a year!


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Super Pacs Are Failing!

Well, well, well.

The truth is out. The super pacs aren't worth much in an election, nor is big money the real weapon of campaigning. And Citizens United has not ruined the country.

Sometimes this old gal is right.

I have previously said that the super pacs and their ad money are not the whole game in election campaigns, that the U.S. Supreme Court in Citizens United did not throw good old-fashioned on-the-ground campaigning into the trash bin. I have even gone so far as to say you can run succesful campaigns on the cheap. Money is actually the least of it in winning an election.

That is, of course, heresy. In a society that worships money, it is inconceivable that money doesn't buy everything. That people can beat dollars in getting the most valuable of all commodities — votes.

But now comes the dawn. The  New York Times is reporting that a number of super pacs have learned the truth of what I've maintained for 50 years. Note a recent NY Times story: ‘Super PACs’ Move Beyond Ads, Taking On Campaign Jobs. It tells how super pacs find that ad buying isn't working and are trying to get into campaigning door-to-door. (I'll explain in a moment why that won't work for them.) Also take a look at another story just published in the Times today about how Jeb Bush's $100 million super pac is failing:  As Bush Struggles, Some Allies Blame His ‘Super PAC’.

In the first story the super pacs claim they are backing off from heavy advertising because it's more expensive than they thought. Nonsense! Are we supposed to believe that these successful business men invested their milions and the millions of others in an enterprise without knowing the cost of the biggest commodity they'd  be dealing in? If you swallow that line, I have a bridge I'd like to sell you.
They just blindly blundered into this pac business of theirs without knowing that ads don't get votes. Wedded as they are to the great American myth that money can buy anything, it never occurred to them that it can't buy campaign votes, that it can't compete with volunteers going door-to-door. Nor can money hire effective substitutes for those volunteers.

Why can't hired workers sub effectively for volunteers? Because their hearts aren't in it. You can't buy votes and you can't buy heartfelt devotion to a task like going door-to-door. For one thing, voters can tell the real commitment from the purchased. We voters weren't born yesterday. We don't have to be political junkies to tell when someone is genuine. Plus paid canvassers quite often ditch the hand-out materials they were given and just say they did the job.  No supervisor is going to go door-to-door in their wake, checking up on them before paying them.

People are what win elections. Volunteers sipping morning coffee in a little storefront HQ, getting their precinct maps, their lists of registered voters, their packets of handouts. And being sure they have a pen to mark the precinct list with each voter's leanings so the campaign can be sure to get the supporters to the polls on election day. Ideally the precinct volunteers  will go out in teams of two, one for each side of the street. (Two people at someone's door can be a bit unnerving for a resident.) They've been given precincts to work that have a high percentage of Democratic voters. In an "open primary", where registered independents can vote in the party primary, the volunteers may knock on their doors. At the end of the hours in the precincts, the workers gather back at the HQ for pizza and a couple of pitchers of beer. It's fun. It's good. It's democracy.

So why don't campaigns besides those of Obama and Bernie Sander mount these massive efforts by volunteers? It's partly because most professional campaign managers and consultants hate working with volunteers. They don't know how to deal with people they can't hire and fire. But most of all, the political campaign pros know they can make a lot more money if they convince the candidate that money for advertising is the really big gun in winning.  Beyond their paid salaries they frequently get a 10% fee for all ad placement. That's a lot of gravy in campaigns where $10 million to $100 million may be spent on ads.

It isn't the cost of advertising that has led the super pacs to attempt to shift their role, as they claim in the NY Times story. It's that the ads don't do the job. People hate it. The fast forward button is the nemesis of the TV ad. Phoning is also hated. So is political junk mail.

But when someone comes to the voter's  door, it's entirely different. Here's what I wrote elsewhere. Never foget it.
                                               YOU ARE MORE POWERFUL
than the most powerful rich man or the biggest corporation. When you go to a voter's door, that's the most powerful thing that happens in politics. People fast forward through the TV ads, but a volunteer at their front door is galvanizing. Someone cared enough about this candidate to walk up and down the streets pounding on doors! No TV ad can touch that for impact on a voter. Think about it. When was the last time a volunteer came to your door in a political campaign?

Now, folks, let's hit the streets! Citizens United didn't ruin this country. America is still ours for the taking! 
Or, more accurately, it's still ours for the walking! 

Let's go!