Clinton Support Eroding As Sanders And O’Malley Fight Back

OMalley Sanders Clinton

The latest Quinnipiac University poll shows Donald Trump dominating the Republicans and Clinton’s support eroding among Democrats. Clinton still has the lead, but it is down from 55 percent on June 30 to 45 percent at present. More disturbing for Democrats, this poll shows what other polls have shown–Americans know better than to trust Hillary Clinton. Mediaite summarized:

“What is the first word that comes to mind when you think of Hillary Clinton?” Quinnipiac asked. All three of the most popular answers were along the same lines: “liar,” “dishonest,” and “untrustworthy.” After those responses, Clinton nets a few positive responses, such as “experience” and “strong.” But then the negative qualifiers begin again, with responses like “crook,” “untruthful,” “criminal,” and “deceitful.”

The same question was asked of Donald Trump and Jeb Bush. The top three responses for Trump were “arrogant,” “blowhard,” and “idiot,” while the top responses for Bush were “Bush,” “family,” and “honest.”

The same poll found Clinton with low favorables. A majority of voters, 51%, say that they have an unfavorable opinion of Clinton while only 39% says they have a favorable opinion.

Like other recent polls, this poll also shows Joe Biden doing better against Republicans than Clinton does.

It is no wonder that we are seeing headlines such as Hillary Clinton’s Handling of Email Issue Frustrates Democratic Leaders at The New York Times and Inside Democratic Party, growing concerns about Clinton  from McClatchy. While Clinton does well among Democratic voters, she does poorly nationally with independents and those in battle ground states.

While Clinton does hold a strong (but diminishing ) lead in the Democratic race, Sanders is posing a serious threat. Recent polls show him leading in New Hampshire. He is even within four points of Clinton in West Virginia, where she leads 36 percent to 32 percent. Apparently without the race issue, Clinton is not able to win there as easily as eight years ago.

After amazing most observers with how much support he is generating among Democrats, Sanders is preparing for phase 2 of his campaign.

Sanders huddled with advisers at his home here Wednesday to chart what he describes as the second phase of a campaign that has exceeded all expectations but still lacks the infrastructure and support from the party elites that could help him compete with Clinton on a national level.

He said he will issue a slew of detailed policy proposals, including for a tax system under which corporations and the wealthy would pay significantly more for initiatives that would benefit the poor and middle class, and will pour resources into voter outreach in early nominating states.

The senator also will appear with other White House hopefuls this week at a meeting of the Democratic National Committee and will urge party leaders to embrace him as a candidate who can attract new voters and energy, just as President Obama did eight years ago.

“Smart members of the establishment will perceive where the excitement is, where the energy is, where the enthusiasm is, where the potential voter turnout is,” Sanders said in an interview…

Roughly one-fifth of the delegates who will pick the nominee at the Democratic convention are superdelegates — elected officials and other party leaders who are not bound by voting in their states. So far, those superdelegates have sided overwhelmingly with Clinton.

Longtime Democratic strategist Tad Devine, who was among the participants in Wednesday’s meeting here, said Sanders has the potential to assemble “not necessarily the same coalition, but the same kind of coalition” as Obama did in 2008. Sanders’s huge campaign rallies have been heavily attended by younger voters, and during his long political career in Vermont, he has demonstrated an appeal to lower-income voters from both parties…

Campaign manager Jeff Weaver said the senator will continue to hold rallies but “phase two will be a more focused effort to reach out to undecided voters” in early nominating states. The campaign is spending heavily in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina — all of which have contests in February — and starting to evaluate strategies for a dozen states that have primaries or caucuses on March 1.

To date, Sanders has deployed 41 staffers to Iowa, 23 to New Hampshire and nine to South Carolina, aides said.

Another focus of “phase two,” according to Sanders and his aides, will be a series of detailed position papers and policy speeches that go well beyond his hour-long stump speech.

Sanders said he plans a major address on Wall Street reforms and to add more specifics to many of his ideas, including revamping the tax system. He has pledged to reverse the growing income inequality in the country and has laid out a set of costly priorities — including free tuition at public colleges and universities, a massive infrastructure program and a large youth jobs program — much of which would be paid for by taxing businesses and the wealthy.

“It’s easy to say we’re going to make the corporations and wealthy pay their fair share,” Sanders said. “What does that mean, exactly?”

He plans, too, to speak out more about foreign policy, a subject that gets relatively little attention in his stump speech.

Aides acknowledge that Sanders could open himself up to criticism by detailing plans that are considered outside the political mainstream. But the candidate said he owes it to voters to lay out what he would do as president: “These are terribly serious times, and the American people deserve to be treated as intelligent people.”

As I have said before, Sanders is the future of the Democratic Party.

Martin O’Malley is also going on the offensive, criticizing the DNC for its preferential treatment of Hillary Clinton, despite her scandals, and limiting the campaign to only six debates:

Martin O’Malley took one of the hardest swings of any Democrat yet at Hillary Clinton on Thursday, saying the party shouldn’t be “circling the wagons” around the former secretary of state and questioning her viability against Republicans.

The former Maryland governor — struggling to climb out of low single digits in national Democratic primary polls — said Clinton will continue to be dogged by her use of a personal email address on a private server during her tenure as America’s top diplomat.

“Until we start having debates, our party’s going to be defined and branded by questions like: What did Secretary Clinton know, when did she know it, and when will the FBI conclude its investigation?” O’Malley told reporters in New Hampshire. “That’s not a formula for success in the fall.”

O’Malley went further than other Democratic presidential candidates have. Clinton’s top-polling challenger, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, has avoided direct intra-party attacks and instead trained his fire on Wall Street and Republicans.

He also criticized the Democratic National Committee for scheduling only six debates, saying those nationally-televised events are opportunities for the party to focus on big ideas, rather than Clinton’s email drama.

“I think it’s a big mistake for us as a party to circle the wagons around the inevitable frontrunner,” O’Malley said Thursday…

O’Malley had also criticized Clinton in an interview with the New Hampshire radio station WGIR earlier Thursday.

He called the email probe “very serious” and said that there are “legitimate questions” about whether she handled classified material on a non-government server.

“These are serious and legitimate questions and Hillary Clinton and her lawyers will have to answer them,” he said.

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Republican Economic Theories Fail In The Real World

Liberal Values is often listed as a libertarian-leaning blog, (or Libertarian Democrat at Wikipedia) and that is certainly true in terms of civil liberties, social issues, and opposition to unjust wars. However I (and other left-libertarians) must differ from libertarian views when it comes to economics. This is both due to concern for the influence of unrestricted corporate, as well as government, power, and because of a respect for the realities of a modern market economy. While we would love to be able to get rid of the rules and pay less (or no) taxes, this just is not realistic.

Conservatives and libertarians often argue that tax cuts will pay for themselves to justify lowering taxes. In rare cases where tax rates are high that can occur, but this has no relevance to our current situation. The Hill reports that the Republican-appointed director of the CBO has verified this:

The director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), who was appointed by GOP lawmakers earlier this year, said Tuesday that tax cuts don’t pay for themselves.

At a press briefing, a reporter asked Keith Hall about that theory.

“No, the evidence is that tax cuts do not pay for themselves,” Hall said. “And our models that we’re doing, our macroeconomic effects, show that.”

Libertarian and conservative economic theory holds that virtually government spending is bad, and is totally oblivious to the multiplier effect of government spending on the economy. Jay Bookman looked further into the CBO report on Obama’s budget proposal:

Yesterday, under Hall’s leadership, the revamped CBO released its analysis of President Obama’s proposed 2016 budget. Here’s what it had to say:

“CBO estimates that, under the President’s proposals, the nation’s real (inflation-adjusted) gross national product (GNP) would be 0.4 percent higher, on average, during the 2016–2020 period, and 1.7 percent higher during the 2021–2025 period, than under current law. After incorporating the proposals’ macroeconomic feedback into the budget, CBO estimates that deficits under the President’s proposals would be $1.4 trillion smaller during the 2016–2025 period than in CBO’s baseline, which is a projection of the paths that federal revenues and spending would take over the next decade if current laws generally remained unchanged.”

You read that correctly. Under the president’s proposals, which include more spending on social programs and infrastructure as well as slightly higher taxes on the wealthy and corporations, the country would experience significantly higher growth than under current law, and deficits would be lowered by $1.4 trillion over the next decade. Or so says the conservative-run CBO.

If you want a stronger economy and a lower deficit, Democratic economic plans will beat Republican economic ideas.

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Bernie Sanders Is Not Howard Dean, Or Any Other Previous Candidate

Bernie Sanders campaign

Why Sanders Can Win

It is always tempting to draw comparisons to something we know, and in politics we often see comparisons to past elections. Sometimes there is some truth to this, but we must consider how few contested nomination battles and elections we have actually had in modern times. Events of one election do not dictate what will happen in the current election. Today many Clinton supporters are citing this article at Vox by Ezra Klein as a reason that Sanders cannot win. It is based upon an interview with Joe Trippi. The problem is that Trippi is still fighting an old battle which does not really apply to today–and a battle he lost.

Klein concentrated on this line as Sanders’ biggest problem: “People get more pragmatic the closer they get to an actual vote.” There are two flaws with this argument–failing to recognize Sanders’ strengths and Dean’s weaknesses.

The argument that Sanders cannot win the general election is rapidly falling apart as more polls show Sanders beating the Republican candidates. Sanders draws in more independent support than Clinton, and is looking like he might be a better candidate in the battleground states as Clinton polls poorly there. Sanders is not bogged down with a serious scandal, which threatens to totally derail Clinton’s campaign. Voters will be more hesitant to support a candidate who is considered (for good reason) to be dishonest by a majority of the voters.

Sanders’ views are becoming more mainstream than Clinton’s. The problems created by concentration of wealth in a small oligarchy have become more apparent since Dean ran. The Democratic Party of Bill Clinton/Triangulation/The DLC has been replaced by the party of Elizabeth Warren, and now Bernie Sanders. Calling himself a Democratic Socialist might sound like a negative, but it has little impact after years of hearing from the right that Hillary Clinton is a politician from the far left and Barack Obama is a Marxist Socialist (neither of which are true). It took only a short time researching his record to reassure a capitalist business owner such as myself that Sanders would preserve small business and a market economy, reforming some of our current problems. Sanders was good for business as mayor of Burlington, with Inc. Magazine calling Burlington the best city in the Northeast for a growing business after his policies were instituted.

Howard Dean had serious flaws which I do not see in Sanders. While I do not want to revive old political battles from over a decade ago, I did support Dean for a while, but soon found flaws from the manner in which he mischaracterized the views of his opponents to how he distorted past decisions where he was wrong.

Last weekend The New York Times also had an article arguing that Similarities Aside, Bernie Sanders Isn’t Rerunning Howard Dean’s 2004 Race and hit on some additional differences, including Sanders’ years of experience, which should make him a more credible candidate, and Dean’s temperament:

Mr. Dean was, at 55, a kinetic live wire of a candidate, plunging into his first national campaign after 22 years in Vermont politics. Mr. Sanders, 73, is, at least in comparison, the measured if stern family uncle, an independent who for all his association with the progressive politics of Burlington shows the command of policy that comes with being a product of Washington, where he has served since 1991…

And in an age of unforgiving news and social media, Mr. Sanders has so far displayed a discipline on the campaign trail that often eluded Mr. Dean. The former governor was prone, in all his exuberance, to self-destructive missteps and bursts of anger. He had to apologize for asserting that Mr. Edwards had been deceptive about voting for the Iraq war resolution (he had not), then apologize again after coming under fire from his rivals for declaring that he wanted to be the “the candidate for guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks.”

Mr. Dean’s campaign was undone, as much as anything, by the release of videotapes of public television appearances in Vermont in which he had disparaged the Iowa caucuses.

“Their personalities are just so different,” said Deborah Marlin, 50, who showed up for Mr. Sanders’s rally here and recalled seeing Mr. Dean around Iowa in 2004, a year in which she ended up supporting George W. Bush. “I think Bernie is much more of a people person.”

Bernie Sanders is not Howard Dean. Similarly, while there are also analogies between him and Eugene McCarthy, the two are also different men. If pundits insist upon comparing Sanders to another candidacy, I would also suggest Barack Obama. While Sanders is certainly more liberal than Obama, Sanders just might do what Obama did eight years ago–beat Hillary Clinton and go on to become president.

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Lawrence Lessig–Long Time Critic Of Clinton’s Ethics–May Run For Democratic Nomination

Lawrence Lessig

Lawrence Lessig, director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University and prominent government reform activist, has stated he plans to run for the Democratic nomination, provided he can raise one million dollars by Labor Day. He says that if elected he would only remain in office long enough to enact government reforms, and then turn over the job to his vice president. He has suggested Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders as possible running mates:

“Until we find a way to fix the rigged system, none of the other things that people talk about doing are going to be possible,” Lessig said in an interview with The Washington Post, borrowing a phrase that has become Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s rallying cry. “We have this fantasy politics right now where people are talking about all the wonderful things they’re going to do while we know these things can’t happen inside the rigged system.”

In the interview, conducted by phone on Monday ahead of his announcement, Lessig said he would serve as president only as long as it takes to pass a package of government reforms and then resign the office and turn the reins over to his vice president. He said he would pick a vice president “who is really, clearly, strongly identified with the ideals of the Democratic Party right now,” offering Warren as one possibility. He said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), whom he considers a friend and has drawn huge crowds in his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, was another option…

The singular focus of Lessig’s campaign would be passing the Citizens Equality Act, a package of reforms that would guarantee the freedom to vote with automatic registration, end partisan gerrymandering and fund campaigns with a mix of small-dollar donations and public funds.

Lessig has noted that Bernie Sanders has many of the same goals, but objects that this is not his top priority.

In contrast, Lessig has often criticized the ethics of both Bill and Hillary Clinton. In 2008, in explaining his endorsement of Barack Obama, Lessig criticized Bill Clinton for his “consistent refusal to stand up for for what were strong principles, at least as he articulated them, in his campaign.” He expressed fears that with Hillary there “are things to make one suspect that she lets principle yield in the face of expedience.” He condemned Hillary for her “lack of moral character, moral courage” and criticized Hillary Clinton’s conduct during the 2008 campaign, accusing her of dishonesty and “swiftboating” Barack Obama.

More recently Lessig has been critical of Clinton’s conduct as Secretary of State in accepting contributions to the Foundation and unusually high speaking fees for Bill Clinton from those with business before her as Secretary of State:

Hillary Clinton’s willingness to allow those with business before the State Department to finance her foundation heightens concerns about how she would manage such relationships as president, said Lawrence Lessig, the director of Harvard University’s Safra Center for Ethics.

“These continuing revelations raise a fundamental question of judgment,” Lessig told IBTimes. “Can it really be that the Clintons didn’t recognize the questions these transactions would raise? And if they did, what does that say about their sense of the appropriate relationship between private gain and public good?”

I quoted additional criticism by Lessig of Clinton’s conduct here.

It is hard to see this campaign really going anywhere. Those who have concerns about corruption in government are increasingly backing Bernie Sanders, and would not be likely to vote for Lessig over Sanders in the primaries. I think it would make more sense for Lessig to speak out on these issues while backing Sanders, and pushing Sanders to place greater emphasis on government reform in his campaign. There are many potential supporters of Sanders who are interested in issues beyond his economic platform, including government reform, support for civil liberties, and opposition to the greater military interventionism supported by Clinton.

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Bernie Sanders Is The Future Of The Democratic Party–And Party Leaders Ignore This At Their Own Peril

Bernie Sanders Oregon

Bernie Sanders is creating a tremendous amount of excitement in the Democratic Party, but much of the media is trying to downplay this. Politico showed why it is frequently called Tiger Beat of the Potomac in an article which totally misses the big story of the year.  The authors ask, Can Bernie Sanders Win the Love of a Party He Scorns?  They miss the point that Sanders’ independence from the Democratic establishment is one of his strengths, not a weakness. This year both parties have a candidate who is outside the mainstream but, unlike Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders can win elections and can make an excellent president.

The support for Sanders can be seen in the crowds who come to see him, such as 28,000 in Portland last weekend. He is pulling in the biggest crowds of any candidate, from either party. Many in the media claim he is unelectable, as if his twenty-five years in Congress still leaves him too far outside the system to be taken seriously, Even the Politico article cited above notes that he was successful at passing amendments in a conservative Congress. National Nurses United recognized his track record in endorsing him on Monday.

Sanders is surging in the polls in some states, including the first contests in Iowa and New Hampshire. He has pulled into a statistical tie in New Hampshire, and we have seen in past elections that the winner of the early contests receives a major bounce in the national polls. General election polling shows him gaining in strength in the battleground states while support for Clinton is dropping.

While anecdotal findings have little predictive value, I cannot help but be impressed by the support for Sanders on social media. One of his comments on the Republican debate became the most retweeted comment of the night. I am amazed that one of my early posts on Sanders entitled Former Clinton Adviser Predicts Bernie Sanders Will Beat Hillary Clinton has received over 16,000 Facebook “Likes” as of this evening, and the number is continuing to grow. When my wife and I wore a Sanders t-shirt while traveling in New Hampshire and Maine last month numerous people came up to me to say how much they love Bernie. It was if I was a celebrity just by wearing the shirt.

Democrats have had a problem in recent years. Polls show a majority supporting Democratic positions but Democrats have been losing elections, except for the two years Barack Obama was on the ballot. Democrats having been losing badly in Congress and many state governments. Returning to the Politico article, the truth of the matter is that many of us who have voted Democratic also scorn the party, and many other potential voters stay home. While some partisan Democrats might oppose Sanders for being an independent, many Democrats, as well as independents, will be more likely to support Sanders because of his independence.

Democratic leaders base their strategy on getting people to vote against the Republicans, not necessarily for the Democrats. They ran Republican-lite candidates in 2014, and were slaughtered in the midterms as many Democratic voters saw no reason to vote. Now the party leadership is pushing the candidacy of another Republican-lite politician for president, hoping that things will be different in a general election than in a midterm. While certainly preferable to the Republicans, Hillary Clinton’s views are far too close to those of the Republicans for many Democratic voters to accept, no matter how much she now tries to copy ideas which Sanders promoted years ago.

Rather than embracing a candidate who is pulling in such popular support, the Democratic National Committee has been trying to rig the contest to favor Hillary Clinton. While Republicans have started debating, the DNC is limiting Democrats to six debates, starting in October, and forcing candidates to agree not to participate in any debates not sponsored by the party. How undemocratic can the Democratic Party be?

People are supporting Sanders because he is seen as honest, and outside the dirty politics we have experienced. Instead of embracing this opportunity, the Democratic leadership is pushing Hillary Clinton, who is involved in one of the biggest scandals since Watergate, placing not only the presidential ticket but all Democrats running in 2016 at an unnecessary risk of defeat. It makes no sense to push for a candidate who is rightly seen as dishonest by a majority of voters , and frequently shown to be dishonest by fact checkers, when there is a far better, and honest, alternative. Initially Clinton supporters claimed that it was necessary to support Clinton in order to avoid a Republican victory. Will they now back Sanders as the polls increasingly show that he would make the stronger candidate in the general election?

Update: Sanders had a crowd of 27,500 in Los Angeles

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Sanders Gaining On Clinton As Her Popularity Drops; In Statistical Tie In New Hampshire

WSJ NBC Poll July

Hillary Clinton continues to be considered the front runner for the Democratic nomination months before any votes have been cast, but her popularity continues to drop. The latest poll to show this came from NBC News/The Wall Street Journal:

The bad news for Hillary Clinton in the new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll: More Americans view her negatively than they did a month ago, revealing potential vulnerabilities for a general-election presidential contest more than a year away.

The good news for her in the poll: Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field by more than 30 points, and the favorability numbers for two of the top Republicans are even worse than hers.

Just 37 percent of all Americans have a positive view of Clinton, versus 48 percent who have a negative view (-11).

That’s a sharp drop since June, when the NBC/WSJ poll showed her with a 44 percent positive, 40 negative rating (+4) – so an overall 15-point swing…

Despite Clinton’s sinking favorability rating, she continues to lead the Democratic horserace by a wide margin.

She’s the top choice of 59 percent of national Democratic primary voters, while 25 percent pick Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. They’re followed by former Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who are tied at 3 percent each.

That margin, however, is smaller than her 60-point national advantage over Sanders a month ago, 75 percent to 15 percent.

If these poll findings persist (and they can change dramatically in over a year), they could indicate problems for Clinton in the general election. Democrats have hoped that any loss in support Clinton receives from the Obama coalition will be made up by more women voters backing Clinton. Now this poll shows a drop in Clinton’s support among white women.

In June, 44% of white women had a favorable view of Mrs. Clinton, compared to 43% who didn’t. In July, those numbers moved in the wrong direction for Mrs. Clinton: Only 34% of white women saw her in a positive light, compared to 53% who had a negative impression of her, the poll found.

Mr. Obama fared poorly with white women voters in the 2012 election, losing them to Republican challenger Mitt Romney by 14 points.

For Team Clinton, the latest poll numbers are a worrisome development. Mrs. Clinton is unlikely to match the African-American turnout that propelled Mr. Obama to two presidential victories, so she has to make up the difference somewhere else. Women eager to see a woman in the White House is a logical group to target. 

Support for Bernie Sanders has increased as support for Clinton has dropped, but some Democrats are searching for another alternative, with multiple stories about Joe Biden possibly running the last few days. Other names also come up occasionally, such as Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz:

The 62-year-old CEO has been urged by supporters to join the Democratic primary, with friends “thinking the time is right for someone who’s not a political lifer,” according to Maureen Dowd’s latest New York Times column. The idea, Dowd postulates, could “be a tempting proposition” for Schultz, and offers a worthy party back-up to Clinton should something unforeseen happen to her candidacy…

It would mark a shift for Schultz if he does enter the presidential ring. In an interview with Time in February, Schultz was adamant that he would not run for President in 2016: “I don’t think that is a solution. I don’t think it ends well,” he said in the story. He threw a cautious endorsement of Clinton, saying he was content to “see what Hillary does.”

Schultz has long been vocal about the role of government and its failure in addressing the nation’s pressing issues. In 2013, Schultz started a Starbucks-led petition to end the government shutdown, and delivered more than 2 million signatures to the White House in their “Come Together” campaign. While promoting his book For Love of Country, Schultz talked about the lack of leadership from the U.S. government and politicians: “The country is longing for leadership and for truth with a capital T,” he told Dowd in a New York Times story.

The current success of Donald Trump in the Republican race raises the questions if an outsider such as Schultz could receive comparable support in the Democratic race. On the other hand, the Democrats might already have a potentially successful outsider in Bernie Sanders. Sanders has many of the benefits of an outsider, while also could be seen as a credible candidate for president after having served in Congress for twenty-five years, with a record including opposition to the Iraq war and the Patriot Act. Despite Clinton’s (diminishing) lead nationally,  Sanders is now in a statistical tie with Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire. Victories in both Iowa and New Hampshire might quickly put an end to Clinton’s lead in the national polls.

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White House Threatens To Veto Bills Defunding Planned Parenthood; Huckabee Threatens To Send In Troops To Prevent Abortions

Planned Parenthood

There were two threats related to abortion in the news today. While Hillary Clinton looks willing to throw Planned Parenthood under the bus for political gain, the White House is showing why I backed Obama over Clinton in 2008. From The Hill:

The White House on Friday threatened a veto on any bill that defunds Planned Parenthood.

A budget measure that strips funding from the organization “is certainly something that would draw a presidential veto,” press secretary Josh Earnest said.

“We have routinely opposed the inclusion of ideologically driven riders” in budget bills, Earnest added.

The White House spokesman questioned the authenticity of the recordings and pointed to criticism they have received from media organizations.

“I haven’t seen the videos, but those who have taken a close look at them have raised some significant concerns about their authenticity and whether or not they actually convey the view of those particular officials or even the broader institution,” Earnest said.

On Thursday, Earnest said the “fraudulent way” the videos were released means there is “not a lot of evidence” that Planned Parenthood violated any laws.

Abortion opponents claim that Planned Parenthood is selling fetal tissue obtained during abortions, which is illegal. Their illegally obtained tapes actually show negotiations over nominal fees for preservation and transportation of the tissue for biomedical research, which is totally different from selling the tissue, and which is legal. Fees for transportation of medical specimens is customary, such as when Medicare or private insurance companies pay me to place cervical cells in preservatives and transport the specimen after doing a pap smear on a patient.

An article at Slate describes the importance of using fetal cells in medical research. This is the real pro-life position.

An investigation of Planned Parenthood ordered by Republican Governor Mike Pence in Indiana cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing after the videos were released.

Mike Huckabee has taken opposition to abortion to a new level, threatening to not only disregard the Supreme Court, but possibly send in troops:

Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee indicated Thursday that if elected, he wouldn’t rule out employing federal troops or the Federal Bureau of Investigation to stop abortion from taking place in the United States.

Though the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against bans on abortion, Huckabee said past presidents have defied Supreme Court rulings.

Jesse Choper, professor emeritus of public law at the University of California-Berkeley School of Law, said in a phone interview Friday that Huckabee’s statement was “way off-base,” adding, “it does rival Donald Trump.”

“I think he’d better more carefully examine what he’s saying, because it is totally unprecedented,” Choper said Friday.

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Donald Trump Praising Barack Obama (2009-10) And David Letterman Mocking Trump

DONALD-TRUMP

“I would hire him. He’s handled the tremendous mess he walked into very well. He still has a daunting task ahead of him but he appears to be equal to the challenge. He has kept his eye on both national and international issues and his visits to foreign countries have shown him to be warmly received, which is certainly a change from the last Administration.” –Donald Trump in 2009

Plus Trump in an interview with Wolf Blitzer, 2010:

BLITZER: His economic policies, President Obama says, have saved us from another depression, is he right?

TRUMP: Well, I do agree, and this did start prior to him getting there, but he also kept it going. You had to do something to sure up the banks, because the psychology of the banks and you would have had a run on every banks, the strongest and the weakest. So, you have to do something. And I hated the ultraconservative view on that. And ultraconservative is nothing should ever happen. If they go out of business, everybody said, that’s fine.

Via BuzzFeed News

Trump now simultaneously leads the Republican field and is the weakest competitor among the top seven Republican candidates against Hillary Clinton in the USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll. Republicans can at least take some comfort in the fact that polls at this point have near zero predictive value. It is hard to believe even the current Republican Party would nominate him.

In related news, David Letterman came out of retirement last week in response to Trump’s candidacy saying, “I have made the biggest mistake of my life, ladies and gentlemen.” He then presented a Top Ten List of Interesting facts about Donald Trump. The Washington Post has the full list, with some edits:

No. 10: That thing on his head was the gopher in “Caddyshack.”

No. 9: During sex, Donald Trump calls out his own name.

No. 8: Donald Trump looks like the guy on the lifeboat with the women and children.

No. 7: He wants to build a wall. How about building a wall around that thing on his head?

No. 6: Trump walked away from a moderately successful television show for some delusional bulls— … oh wait, that’s me.

No. 5: Donald Trump weighs 240 pounds — 250 with cologne.

No. 4: Trump would like all Americans to know that that thing on his head is free-range.

Letterman declared No. 3 “a tie.”

No. 3: If president, instead of pardoning a turkey on Thanksgiving, plans to evict a family on Thanksgiving./That’s not a hairdo, it’s a wind advisory. 

No. 2: Donald Trump has pissed off so many Mexicans, he’s starring in a new movie entitled “No Amigos.” 

No. 1: Thanks to Donald Trump, the Republican mascot is also an ass.

The video is below:

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Hillary Clinton Tries To Sound Like Sanders & O’Malley While Avoiding Specifics

hillary_clinton_economic_speech

Hillary Clinton’s big economic speech has mostly been greeted with yawns. Previously the conventional wisdom was that Hillary Clinton was one of Wall Street’s favorite candidates, and her speech has not changed this. She did include a number of points which sounded good, but lacked any specifics to make a convincing case that she would really bring about any changes.

Politico summed up the reaction in an article entitled Clinton speech react: ‘Is that it?’ The Democratic front-runner manages to underwhelm both Wall Street and its reformers in her signature economic policy speech:

Clinton laid out the soft contours of a “growth and fairness economy” in a speech designed to appeal to struggling middle-class workers with promises of higher pay and more generous federal policies.

But she left out many hard specifics on tougher tax policy toward the rich and corporate America. And she offered limited pledges to crack down on big Wall Street banks while hitting her strongest notes promising to toss rogue bankers in prison while ripping recent worker-productivity comments from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

Despite those few moments, this was hardly Thomas Piketty invading the land of Wall Street titans and flipping over tables piled high with gold. And there were no radical new proposals aimed at reversing America’s long slide into wage stagnation.

“She appears to have taken a page out of the Elizabeth Warren book on going after bankers and brokers and fat cats and people who may have broken the law,” said Jack Ablin, chief investment office at BMO Private bank. “I’m sure a lot of polling went into that. But in terms of inequality and profit-sharing and general economic redistribution, she was a lot longer on problems than she was on solutions.”

And Clinton sounded some of her by now very familiar themes, invoking her love of being a grandmother and arguing that middle-class wage stagnation since the end of the Great Recession was exacerbating income inequality while pledging that something must be done. But that something, according to Clinton, mainly consists of boosting the minimum wage and increasing overtime pay, something President Barack Obama has been pushing for some time…

Financial reformers gave her mixed grades. “It’s a good start, but after all this listening, planning and thinking by the runaway leading candidate, I expected more,” said Dennis Kelleher of Better Markets, a pro-reform group. “The American people deserve a concrete, specific, comprehensive plan that really protects them from Wall Street recklessness and that she as president can be held accountable for once in office.”

Another financial reformer said the anti-Wall Street crowd was waiting to see whether Clinton will “put in place a team of advisers who have a demonstrated history of supporting meaningful reform and tough enforcement, or chooses instead to surround herself with the same crowd of revolving door insiders.”

The real test for Clinton on Wall Street will come when and if she turns this rhetoric into actual policy prescriptions. Big Wall Street titans heavily funding Clinton’s campaign and other business interests fully expect to take some heavy rhetorical hits as the Democratic front-runner fights off the Sanders surge. But they do not expect Clinton to try and fully reshape their industry.

She did correctly criticize Jeb Bush for his recent comment that Americans should “work longer hours” and Marco Rubio’s tax cut for millionaires. She did sound like she might be more willing than President Obama has to prosecute bankers who violate the law. She fell far short of Bernie Sanders’ support for breaking up the big banks, as well as short of the specific economic proposals recently released by Martin O’Malley. She basically seems to desire to use the rhetoric of Sanders and O’Malley, as well as Elizebeth Warren, while keeping the big corporations and banks confident in continuing to bankroll her campaign.

Clinton did call for paid family leave. She supported an increase in the minimum wage without any indication as to whether she will match Sanders and O’Malley on the size of an increase supported. Earlier in the campaign, Clinton was to the right of Sanders and O’Malley when they were calling for increasing Social Security benefits. She now gave vague support for enhancing Social Security without clarifying what this means. About the biggest surprise of the speech was her criticism of the gig economy:

In a note that struck some as odd given the popularity of the services, Clinton specifically criticized “gig economy” companies, a group that includes upstarts such as Airbnb and Uber. These types of scrappy young companies have often provided corporate homes for former Obama administration officials. Former top Obama adviser David Plouffe is now a senior executive at Uber.

Center-right sources such as Politico above indicate no real fear of Clinton from Wall Street. Salon summed up the response to Clinton’s speech from the left:
Hillary Clinton gave her big economic speech this morning, proposing a whole array of policies that she argues will “build a ‘growth and fairness’ economy.” She wasn’t especially forthcoming on details, which is a shame, but she had some interesting and ideas and made some promises that she should be held to going forward.
The full transcript is available here.
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Obama Plans Clemency to Free Nonviolent Drug Offenders

Obama plans to free dozens of federal prisoners held on nonviolent drug offenses. The New York Times reported:

Sometime in the next few weeks, aides expect President Obama to issue orders freeing dozens of federal prisoners locked up on nonviolent drug offenses. With the stroke of his pen, he will probably commute more sentences at one time than any president has in nearly half a century.

The expansive use of his clemency power is part of a broader effort by Mr. Obama to correct what he sees as the excesses of the past, when politicians eager to be tough on crime threw away the key even for minor criminals. With many Republicans and Democrats now agreeing that the nation went too far, Mr. Obama holds the power to unlock that prison door, especially for young African-American and Hispanic men disproportionately affected.

It looks like a tiny step in the right direction. We also need repeal of the drug laws which place such people in prison, and an extension of this to the states. This is a tiny percentage of those held nation-wide for drug-related crimes.

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