Saturday, May 30, 2015

And Now, There Are Three

Martin O'Malley has now made the announcement, accompanied by a video (below) suggesting he intends to run as a Democrat. That's not really news, unless one compares it to the analogous Clinton video, a sort of  Democratic version of "Morning in America."

Cheap shot at Hillary Clinton aside,  we turn to the horse race.  Charlie Peters makes an interesting observation about Senator Sanders, which seems to be in sharp contrast to O'Malley, when he writes

Here's what I think. I don't think he's running to push Hillary Rodham Clinton to the left, or to affect the debate. I think Bernie Sanders is running for president because he wants to be president. He has issues that need addressing, and a constituency for them, and if there's any other qualification for a candidate, I don't know what it is. And, anyway, in that context, he is no more (or less) plausible than just about the entire Republican field....

If someone like Bernie Sanders thinks he can be president, and he's willing to bring his politics into the soul-numbing marathon that is a presidential campaign, there is something there that is quite good for the country.

Former governor O'Malley is willing to bring his politics, clearly bolder than Clinton's and less so than Sander's, into the marathon that is a presidential campaign,  though he probably is less willing to enter something soul-numbing.   As Maggie Haberman reported the day before O'Malley's formal announcement

When Martin O’Malley began actively exploring a presidential run in 2013, he reached out to Hillary Rodham Clinton, the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, to let her know. She told him he should do what he needed to do.

So as Mr. O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland, prepared for his Saturday campaign kickoff, he reached out to Mrs. Clinton again.

The call between the two was brief and cordial, according to two people briefed on it, neither of whom was authorized to describe the private conversation. Aides to both Mr. O’Malley and Mrs. Clinton declined comment.

As he prepared to challenge Mrs. Clinton for the Democratic nomination, Mr. O’Malley has been reluctant to criticize Mrs. Clinton or to draw a pointed contrast with her.

Haberman concludes "Mr. O’Malley is expected to highlight his positions on issues important to the party’s liberal base and try to appeal to Democrats who may be looking for an viable alternative to Mrs. Clinton." If all goes right for Martin O'Malley, a reasonably young male, he'll receive consideration next summer as the running mate for Clinton, whom he expects to be the candidate, and who is not reasonably young or male.  There is nothing illegal about this strategy, but it is a reminder that there already is a viable candidate, one approximately 480 miles north of O'Malley's Baltimore.

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Friday, May 29, 2015

Not A Doomed Campaign, But A Steep Hill To Climb

Salon's Elias Isquith observes

Since conventional wisdom holds that her centrist position on the Iraq War cost Clinton the nomination in 2008, it’s unsurprising to hear that the new campaign’s goal is to avoid making the same mistake twice. And as a lefty who expects Clinton to ultimately win the nomination, I’d be thrilled if this were her only takeaway from ’08. The most likely consequence would be that she stops worrying so much about the center and focuses more on inspiring her base. This isn’t mere speculation; as her new positions on marriage equality, criminal justice and immigration reform attest, she’s done it already.

Isquith recognizes "Exciting as this scenario is, though, it’s not guaranteed. And the reason it’s not guaranteed is because that aforementioned explanation for Clinton’s defeat in ’08 — that it was all about Iraq — isn’t correct."  He goes on to point out that Obama received far greater support than did Mrs. Clinton from black voters, though it would be more interesting if the first black candidate with a serious chance of nomination had not pulled that off.  In fact, the New York Senator, rather than the Illinois Senator, was the favorite among black voters until Obama had almost overtaken Clinton.

The irony is that HRC was way ahead in 2007, evidently sailing to victory, when she was asked in debate whether she supported New York Governor Spitzer's plan to allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses. After hemming and hawing, she was caught making contradictory statements, and her image of inevitability was shattered. Seven years later, Nebraska has become the last state to extend eligibility to some illegal immigrants, commonly referred to as "Dreamers," to obtain drivers' licenses and Clinton is ahead of the curve on comprehensive immigration reform.

Isquith links to a post on Vox, "Why Bernie Sanders Doesn't Talk About Race," notes that almost no one in Vermont is black, and explains

To be clear, Sanders hasn’t avoided talking about race throughout his career because he’s a bigot. His motivations have been unsentimental and practical (again: Vermont is about as diverse as a Simon & Garfunkel concert). But they’ve been ideological, too. “Sanders believes in racial equality, sure,” writes Lind, “but he believes it will only come as the result of economic equality.” A politics of racial justice that neglects the question of economic power — or treats it as a secondary, separate issue — is, in Sanders’ mind, equivalent to “treating the symptom, not the disease.”

Remarking "hopefully, that's not how things play out," Isquith nonetheless understands

Clinton could note that the first two speeches of her campaign were about examples of racial injustice (mass incarceration and the plight of undocumented immigrants) and she could contrast that with Sanders’ relative silence in order to portray him as an out-of-touch white guy who cares more about the “professional left” than “everyday Americans.” Throw in a little of the media’s predictable talk of a“wine track” and “beer track” within the Democratic electorate and — boom! — Sanders becomes this election’s version of a way-less-weird Dennis Kucinich.

That isn't, however, only because of the concentration of black and Hispanic voters (as well as whites with concerns about racial inequities) in Democratic primaries and caucuses. Clinton did not choose the troika of issues- immigration reform, criminal justice reform, and "marriage equality"- on which to establish a  progressive identity only because of the nature of the Democratic electorate.  In contrast to Sanders' agenda (video below), there is not a conservative consensus in the financial community- or practically anywhere in the corporate community- on those issues.

There is nothing in same-sex marriage which interferes with the accumulation of profits, and it is virtually certain that big money donors support same-sex marriage at least to the degree as does the American public, and probably more overwhelmingly.  A more accepting attitude toward immigrants,which expands the supply of workers, fits in nicely with  the interests of business in maintaining wage stagnation and creating a more "flexible" labor pool.  (HRC, though, ought to be commended for emphasizing the importance of citizenship over legalization.)

Most of the suggestions, if implemented,would not curtail the continued record-setting accumulation of  profits by the corporate sector as workers are left behind.( Legalization of marijuana- notably not endorsed by HRC- is an exception.) The uncontroversial neo-liberal notion of training ex-cons for jobs which don't provide a livable wage is no exception and would if successful expand the labor pool. Ending mass incarceration, whatever its humane characteristics, also would expand the labor pool. Clinton's tilt to the left threatens no donors who will make her the best-funded candidate in American history.

As Isquith argues, "it would be tragic if Sanders' campaign, which has started out with so much promise, was undone by the same forces that have forestalled progress in America time and time again. The question said to trump all others for the Vermont Senator is "What is the economic fairness of the situation?" That it is not for most of the movers and shakers in the Democratic Party (let alone the Republican) or elsewhere in society is not only his problem, but ours also.,

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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Those Extreme Democrats

Peter Wehner claims

AMONG liberals, it’s almost universally assumed that of the two major parties, it’s the Republicans who have become more extreme over the years. That’s a self-flattering but false narrative.

This is not to say the Republican Party hasn’t become a more conservative party. It has. But in the last two decades the Democratic Party has moved substantially further to the left than the Republican Party has shifted to the right. On most major issues the Republican Party hasn’t moved very much from where it was during the Gingrich era in the mid-1990s.

Responding to the first paragraph, Tristero observes

Not a single elected Democrat has called for secession, as Rick Perry did. Not a single elected Democrat defied the Supreme Court to the extent of sending in the National Guard and provoking an insane confrontation with the local police, as Jeb Bush did during Schiavo. Not a single elected Democrat is so anti-reality and anti-science that they believe that if women are "legitimately raped," they will be protected from pregnancy as Todd Akin did.

Oh, sure there are leftwing extremists. Somewhere. But in the Democratic Party? Holding office or positions of power? Puhleeeze.

Additionally, as Bob Cesca points out in a slightly different context, though abortion still is legal

Republican legislatures across red-state America have passed laws that make it almost impossible to actually undergo the (again, totally legal) procedure. Fetal personhood laws, fetal heartbeat laws, waiting-period laws, trans-vaginal ultrasound laws — not to mention one law that made it illegal to operate a women’s health clinic outside of a 60-mile radius of a hospital — have all functioned as de facto abortion bans.

Then there is outspoken different-sex marriage advocate Mike Huckabee, anticipating a Supreme Court decision favorable to same-sex marriage, recently arguing

Judicial review is exactly what we have lived under; we have not lived under judicial supremacy. The Supreme Court can’t make a law; the legislature has to make it, the executive has to sign it and enforce it. The notion that the Supreme Court comes up with a ruling and that automatically subjects the two other branches to following it defies everything there is to equal branches of government.

So much for Marbury v. Madison, checks and balances, and judicial review for Huckabee and GOP presidential hopeful Ben Carson, who as a statesman is an excellent surgeon. We await other Repub politicians, some of whom have decried President Obama as a tyrant, calling out Huckabee and Carlson for suggesting Congress can ignore the Court.

We don't, however, have to wait to determine the GOP position on income taxes, wherein cutting taxes for the wealthy is akin to godliness, or at least to sex  within traditional marriage for the purpose of procreation.  The GOP always has been rhetorically opposed to "tax and spend," unless it's Repub Presidents doing the spending- as they do more prolifically than Democratic Presidents (chart of public employment from Calculated Risk via Steven Greenhouse).

About the progressive income tax, they are clear, as we learned during the August, 2011 Repub presidential debate (video below) when co-moderator Brett Baier

phrased it this way: “I’m going to ask a question to everyone here on the stage. Say you had a deal, a real spending cuts deal, 10-to-1, as Byron said, spending cuts to tax increases…. Who on this stage would walk away from that deal? Can you raise your hand if you feel so strongly about not raising taxes, you’d walk away on the 10-to-1 deal?”

All eight candidates raised their hand. Literally all of them, if offered a debt-reduction deal that’s 10-to-1 in their favor, would simply refuse.

Now, that's bipartisanship.

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