Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Nixonian government is back in Washington.

Well, yes, the obvious sign tells us all that...

President Trump has fired James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director, the White House spokesman Sean Spicer said on Tuesday. ...

Senior White House and Justice Department officials had been working on building a case against Mr. Comey since at least last week, according to administration officials. Attorney General Jeff Sessions had been charged with coming up with reasons to fire him, the officials said. ...

Since the news came out, a lot of Democrats have called the firing a blatant interference in the investigation into Trump's ties to Russia. Which it is, obviously. (Trump claims the investigation doesn't even exist in the open letter of termination he sent to Comey.) But the first Democratic voice, and the one which will likely win the day, was that of long-time Democratic Party leader Dianne Feinstein:

"President Trump called me at 5:30 p.m. and indicated he would be removing Director Comey, saying the FBI needed a change,” Feinstein said. “The next FBI director must be strong and independent and will receive a fair hearing in the Judiciary Committee."

And Hillary Clinton? A very loud, strong, "no comment."

So the Democrats, after a little puffing and posturing, will cave, and the Republicans will successfully block the investigation, and Trump will accomplish what Nixon couldn't. It's this sort of thing that had me propose a "Gonzales Amendment" back when Dubya was president. We need it now more than ever.

But that isn't the only news out today that makes me refer to the current government as Nixonian.

On Monday the president nominated 10 people for federal judgeships. Thanks to an unusually large number of vacancies on the bench, there could be many more to come.

"This is just a down payment," said John Malcolm of the Heritage Foundation. He noted there are more than 100 open seats on the federal district courts and appeals courts.

. . .

All of the nominees appear to be cut from similar judicial cloth.

"They are all highly regarded in conservative legal circles and by practitioners in the states where they reside," Malcolm said.

 The thing is? Barack Obama nominated liberals, moderates, and even conservatives to the federal bench, often taking requests from hard-right Republican Senators.

Trump, like George W. Bush, is appointing and will appoint nothing but hard-line, far-right-wing conservatives to the bench, because conservatives don't believe in things like "playing fair" or "balance of power" or "including all viewpoints in the discussion"- concepts which Democrats have idolized to the point of nullity.

For the past thirty years- since the Democratic Leadership Caucus and Bill Clinton took control of the party- the Dems, unwilling to unite as the liberal party, have been playing softball. Republicans, centered on conservatism, have played hardball. Like Nixon, they will stoop to anything to get their way- and as Democrats have yet to learn, dirtiest fighter always wins.

The government we have now, sliding into fascism and dictatorship, is what happens when one political party is more interested in scoring political points, playing defense, and seeking compromise for its own sake than in actually standing up to overt evil. If this republic is to be saved, the Democrats need to grow a spine and take a stand for the people, rather than cowering in fear for their offices.

I don't have high hopes.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

What kind of administration are we dealing with?

DONALD TRUMP - President of the United States

Investigated and prosecuted for refusing to rent or sell housing to non-whites from the 1970s clear up to the 1990s. Repeatedly reported as ordering black employees off the floors of his hotels and casinos when he came to visit so he wouldn't have to look at them. Father was a known member of the Ku Klux Klan.

STEVE BANNON - Chief political advisor to the President

Until recently publisher of Breitbart, and thus oversaw the publication of biased or outright false "news" stories presenting blacks, Jews, gays, feminists, Hispanics, and immigrants in general as violent criminals seeking to destroy white civilization. On record as saying his goal is to destroy the American government as we know it and to replace with the raw exercise of power. Records from his divorce proceedings show a history of anti-Semitic statements and domestic abuse.

STEPHEN MILLER - Senior policy advisor to the President

College classmate and close ally of alt-right neo-Nazi activist Richard Spenser, and co-organizer of white supremacist rallies and events with Spenser at Duke University. Overt white nationalist.

JEFF SESSIONS - U. S. Senator, nominee to become Attorney General of the United States, senior legal advisor to the President

Was rejected for a place on the federal judicial bench in the 1980s after statements of support for white supremacy and overt hostility to blacks were revealed in Congressional testimony. Fought (mostly successfully) to oppose desegregation and equal funding for public schools in his home state of Alabama. As state attorney general, only supported civil rights cases brought by white plaintiffs. A leading voice against racial, gender, and sexual equality throughout his political career. Advised other countries on efforts to enact white nationalism into law.

BETSY DeVOS - AmWay heiress, school privatization and desecularization advocate, nominee to become US Secretary of Education 

Young earth Creationist and fundamentalist Christian. Sister of Erik Prince, who founded Blackwater, a private mercenary force sent to Iraq by the Bush administration's Department of State ostensibly as bodyguards. Blackwater made no secret of their desire to be "crusaders" and to kill Muslims regardless of other considerations, leading to a scandal after secret reports of Blackwater massacring unarmed civilians became public knowledge. Blackwater relabeled itself as Xe after losing its federal contracts and shifted its focus to providing security for certain dictators.

There's probably- almost certainly- more names that could be listed here that I don't know about.

But this ought to be enough to make it crystal clear that the Trump administration is centered around the belief of white nationalism and white supremacy, and that persecution of non-whites, non-straights, non-males, and non-Christians will be official government policy throughout his term of office.

And if the Republican Party does not openly and strongly resist this policy, then it must also be regarded as a white supremacist organization- and treated accordingly.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

It's always important to remember that the enemy is also us.



I share it with you for the following reasons:

(1) The person who posted the link on Facebook where I could see it is is a supporter of GamerGate, Rabid Puppies, Castalia Press, and the well-known white supremacist Vox Day. The author of the article at the link was the organizer of the last Sad Puppies slate and is a close ally of the previous Sad Puppies leaders Larry Correia and Brad Torgerson and a frequent correspondent with Vox Day.

(2) I call your particular attention to this excerpt:

"Look, this is the problem we’re up against. Back in the nineties, I found Rush Limbaugh’s habit of referring to America under Clinton as occupied America, annoying and thought of it as a schtick. (Even though I hated what Clinton did on most fronts, starting with Motor Voter.)

"But in the last ten years, I’ve come to realize he was right. America was and largely still is an occupied country. Foreign agents (natural born, but recruited early by Soviet Agit Prop) control our media, our education, our entertainment. And most of what the occupiers have done is try to destroy that which is uniquely American: our individualism, and our system of government. They also try to inoculate against people finding about our system on their own and thinking it’s brilliant, by tainting the character of the founding fathers and the idea of America as a nation AT LEAST as good as any other, if not better."

Note: Sarah Hoyt thinks that no true American could ever believe that things like Social Security, a universal health care system, etc. were good things without being brainwashed by some foreign power.

But more important: this belief is not new to her. It's not even new to the past century. Yes, you could replace "Soviet Agit Prop" with "the International Jew", but it's even older than that.

Before the Civil War, Southerners, slave owners or not, almost unanimously insisted that slavery was not only the ideal state for blacks, but that blacks loved being enslaved... unless "Yankee agitators" came and corrupted them into wanting to run away or rebel.

Meanwhile, Northerners attacked Catholics and abolitionists on similar grounds- "Papist conspiracy," "radical foreign revolutionaries," etc. The American Party, better known to history as the Know-Nothings for their unwillingness to openly admit their true beliefs in public, elected large delegations to Congress, at one point holding the balance of power between Democrats and the emerging Republicans- on the strength of fear of "non-Americans".

At the height of the Gilded Age, after America had experienced twenty years of an economy where working people got poorer and the rich got extremely rich, the Populist movement arose. As part of their movement, poor whites allied politically with blacks in the name of economic equality. The conservative backlash was immediate- "N-----r loving socialists!" The alliance was broken, and ever since the movement for civil rights was portrayed by conservatives as a communist conspiracy imposed from abroad.

The Red Scare pushed by Woodrow Wilson after the October Revolution? It included special crackdowns on all organizations advocating racial equality.

One of the agents involved in that crackdown, J. Edgar Hoover, went on to become head of the FBI, creating COINTELPRO- an organization within the FBI dedicated to infiltrating, discrediting, and breaking up civil rights organizations on the grounds that they were Communist fronts.

Throughout American history, conservatives have claimed that they, and only they, are true Americans. They have proclaimed all efforts by minority or disadvantaged groups to seek a better deal to be conspiracies from outside, and thus un-American. In fact, they go so far as to say that the very concept of equality itself is un-American- that there is a racial, religious and cultural hierarchy which must be maintained to preserve American freedom.

And, all too often, that conspiracy is a Jewish conspiracy. It's important to note that both Hitler and Goebbels got a lot of their ideas from American publications- most notably the Dearborn newspapers and magazines published by infamous anti-Semite Henry Ford. Pre-World War II, "Soviet" and "Jewish" were synonyms not just in Nazi Germany, but right here in the United States as well... and in the John Birch and Tea Party circles, they've never ceased to be synonyms.

And here is Sarah Hoyt, a self-proclaimed libertarian, spreading the lovely Goebbels fertilizer for a new generation. Doesn't it smell like flowers?

Well... the stuff you shovel onto flowers, maybe.

She will protest that there's not a racist bone in her body, to which I reply: bullshit. Go to the first paragraph in my excerpt. The one Clinton innovation she points out as opposing is "Moter Voter," i. e. registering people to vote at the same time they get their driver's license. This wildly successful program was intended to make it easier for people- especially non-whites- to vote. And Mrs. Hoyt opposes it.

Which, in my view, is a telling clue to what Hoyt really means when she says the last ten years persuaded her that America was "under occupation." She means, it was under occupation by non-whites- only, like her spiritual ancestors in the Know-Nothings, she doesn't want to admit it openly.

I share this link because I want you all to see what American fascism looks like at the grassroots level... and to remind you that it's NOT all a Putin plot. Putin couldn't do a damn thing to us if we didn't grow this bullshit at home ourselves- and if some many of us didn't take a nice big sniff of it and pronounce it sweeter than roses.

Note the name: Sarah Hoyt. And then avoid anything attached to that name. This is what white supremacy looks like when it's trying to look respectable.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

A post-truth society cannot survive.

Sid Miller, Texas's Secretary of Agriculture, called a public radio show to basically say he feels no shame in peddling lies and bullshit to his supporters.
“I’m not a news organization,” Miller told reporter Nathan Bernier. “Y’all are holding me to the same standards as you would a news organization, and it’s just Facebook.” On his Facebook page, according to the Tribune article, Miller has warned that terrorists are preparing "for their jihad against the state and our nation” in a compound outside Houston. Another post claimed President Obama had held up a T-shirt printed with a likeness of the Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara during a trip to Cuba. He said much of what he posted on Facebook was “satire, or comedy” and that his Facebook page wasn’t a reliable source for “factual news.” “I shouldn’t be held to that standard,” he said. “It’s like Fox News: I report, you decide if it’s true or not.”

Okay, I'm now convinced: there needs to be a restriction on freedom of speech.

To explain, let me give a quick synopsis on why bad precedents make bad law.

Schenck v. United States (1919) is the source of the famous "fire in a crowded theater" line. It was also the source for the standard that speech can be made illegal when it poses a clear and present danger. This was overturned for the most part in Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969), which set the standard that speech can only be illegal when it calls for direct and immediate action to break the law, and even then only when the speaker has a reasonable expectation that he or she will be obeyed. (This test was severely weakened by Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project (2010), which held that free speech in the form of money and advocacy could be criminalized without any intent to break the law or harm others, so long as it might have the effect of supporting those who do break the law or harm others.)

And by the way, I'm of the opinion that all three of the cases mentioned in the above paragraph were wrongly decided.

The thing is, in those cases, and in all the cases that form the chain of judicial thought linking them, the primary concern of the government was whether or not the speech would be a link in a chain of some other criminal activity- blocking a national draft from being enforced, inciting violence against non-white races, committing terrorist acts, organized crime, etc. etc. etc.

The courts have focused entirely on the wrong thing.

Oliver Wendell Holmes himself believed that true speech intended to present a political argument to other people was sacrosanct. His test for whether or not speech could be criminalized had two components. "Clear and present danger" was only half of it.

The full quote I'm referring to is this:

"The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic. [...] The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent."

The emphasis is mine.

For Holmes, it wasn't sufficient that speech bring about danger. It had to be FALSE speech. Statements of true and accurate facts, presented in good faith, were in his mind given absolute protection by the First Amendment. Congress had no right to regulate such speech, period.

Lies? Speech intended to deceive? Falsehoods created to inspire hatred, violence and insurrection? All fair game for regulation. (Remember, Holmes was an officer in the American Civil War. He'd seen firsthand what lies could do.)

But pretty much no court, no judge of note since Holmes died has upheld his theory. It's taken for granted today that in the United States you can lie all you want, gin up hatred based on falsehoods and conspiracy theories all you want, and it's perfectly legal, no matter the consequences.

If I've learned anything from 2016, it's this: that precedent, that assumption, needs to be changed.

Schenck v. United States was decided wrongly (with Holmes writing the unanimous opinion) because there was no lie involved. Schenck's calls to resist the draft were based on an honest believe that national conscription was involuntary servitude- read slavery- and thus not only unconstitutional but a direct threat to American liberty.

Brandenburg v. Ohio was decided wrongly because Mr. Brandenburg was spreading lies- lies of racial inferiority, lies that blacks sought to conquer whites, etc.- for the purpose of winning popular support for a race war to exterminate non-whites in America. (Since then, his spiritual descendants in the alt-right have softened their tone, but not their actual meaning or their final plans, and the lies continue to be spread.)

When people seeking power deliberately muddy the truth, spread false information, and perpetuate bigoted lies for the purpose of advancing their political agenda, they commit fraud. The thing is, if they were bilking people out of money, there's a small chance they might be prosecuted. For bilking people out of their guaranteed rights, out of their government, out of democracy altogether, there is no punishment whatever.

And now those who do this have become totally shameless about it- and Donald Trump is only one among a legion.

It must become illegal to pull confidence schemes on voters.

My proposal: "Falsehoods presented, deliberately or with obvious carelessness for the truth, as factual and accurate to the people, shall not be regarded as protected speech under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States; and Congress and the states shall have power to regulate such speech and to pass laws for the enforcement of such regulations."

Any thoughts?

Monday, December 5, 2016

2 + 2 = 5.

In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality, was tacitly denied by their philosophy. The heresy of heresies was common sense. And what was terrifying was not that they would kill you for thinking otherwise, but that they might be right. For, after all, how do we know that two and two make four? Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable? If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable – what then?

--- George Orwell, 1984

A man went into a Washington pizza place with a gun intending to "self-investigate" the restaurant based on a conspiracy theory peddled by the alt-right that the Clintons, Anthony Weiner, and several unnnamed Congresspeople were using the restaurant as a front for a child prostitution ring. Thankfully nobody was hurt, although one report I've seen claims that at least one shot was fired before the man surrendered to police.

Normally this would only be national news for a day. The original rumor that the Clintons and their inner circle engage in child sex slavery is one of a multitude of outlandish and obviously false stories made up by the Alt-Right to discredit the Clinton presidential campaign.

On Oct. 30, a white supremacy Twitter account that presents itself as belonging to a Jewish lawyer in New York tweeted that the NYPD was looking into evidence that emails from Anthony Weiner’s laptop contained evidence of Clinton involvement in an “international child enslavement ring.” ... no law enforcement agency has said anything about these crazy claims. There is no evidence to back them up. The claims have been concocted and are being spread to misinform people.
 Sadly, this is business as usual. 

What isn't business as usual- and what must NEVER be treated as business as usual- is this:

 On Nov. 3, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, then a Trump campaign adviser and now Trump’s choice to be his national security adviser, shared a tweet linking to the True Pundit story along with the comment, “U decide - NYPD Blows Whistle on New Hillary Emails: Money Laundering, Sex Crimes w Children, etc...MUST READ!”

And this:

On Sunday, Flynn’s son, Michael Flynn Jr., tweeted, “Until #Pizzagate proven to be false, it'll remain a story. The left seems to forget #PodestaEmails and the many ‘coincidences’ tied to it.”
The younger Flynn, who has served as his father’s adviser, linked to the account of Jack Posobiec, whose Twitter account describes him as the special projects director of a group called Citizens4Trump.
Posobiec said Welch’s actions were a “false flag,” and claimed he was an actor carrying out an elaborate conspiracy to discredit sites that spread the fabricated #PizzaGate accusations.
“Planted Comet Pizza Gunman will be used to push for censorship of independent news sources that are not corporate owned,” he tweeted.
For weeks, Comet Ping Pong has been the victim of false news stories about Clinton trafficking children in the local D.C. restaurant's back rooms. The stories appeared on Facebook, in addition to such dubious outlets as The New Nationalist and Alex Jones' Infowars.
Since then, a hashtag, #PizzaGate, has been used to defame the restaurant. The owner and employees of the pizzeria have also been victims of harassment. Scurrilous and defamatory posts continue to appear on Twitter on a daily basis even as D.C. police have said the restaurant is not under investigation.
Not only is the Alt-Right moving into power in Washington as an integral part of the Trump administration, but it's bringing its callous, shameless disregard for objective facts with it. They're even coming out and openly saying that there's no longer any such thing as facts:

What matters now, Hughes argued, is not whether his fraud claim is true. No, what matters is who believes it.

“Mr. Trump’s tweet, amongst a certain crowd, a large — a large part of the population, are truth. When he says that millions of people illegally voted, he has some — in his — amongst him and his supporters, and people believe they have facts to back that up. Those that do not like Mr. Trump, they say that those are lies, and there’s no facts to back it up.”

It’s a fact that she said this: I heard it live, as did Rehm, Politico’s Glenn Thrush, and the Atlantic’s James Fallows, who wrote about it, citing a recording of the show.

. . .

“You guys took everything that Donald Trump said so literally,” said Lewandowski, who was another ill-advised CNN hire. “The American people didn’t. They understood it. They understood that sometimes — when you have a conversation with people, whether it’s around the dinner table or at a bar — you’re going to say things, and sometimes you don’t have all the facts to back it up.”

. . .

There was more from the Harvard event. When CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway about the same election-fraud claim discussed above — specifically, whether disseminating misinformation was “presidential” — it was clear that she and Hughes got the same memo.

“He’s the president-elect, so that’s presidential behavior,” Conway said, using mind-bending pseudo-logic, reminiscent of the Nixonian “When the president does it, that means that it’s not illegal.”
We have an administration which, from the top down, believes it can and should lie blatantly to the voters. From Trump right on down, they have decided that not only will they say and do anything to get what they want, no matter who it hurts, but also believes that this is the way things ought to be done.

Twenty years ago conservatives were screaming about a national identification law proposed under the Clinton administration, and then again under the Bush administration. "Mark of the beast!" they shouted. "1984! 1984!"

Ten years ago conservatives were screaming about traffic cameras, cameras in public places, and police surveillance. "Big Brother!" they shouted. "Big Brother! 1984! 1984!"

The problem is, Americans remember George Orwell's book for its universal police state and forget its fundamental lessons. The IngSoc regime was terrifying not because it could see what you were doing at all times. It was terrifying because the entire IngSoc regime, from beginning to end, was bent on molding human brains like clay into the desired shape- and them smashing it flat.

Why? Because they could. No other reason.

1984 was Hitler's Big Lie, Stalin's official history, and every dictatorship's propaganda machine turned up to its ultimate limit. By erasing the line between lie and truth, IngSoc made it possible to create their own reality and force its subjects to conform to it- which, as it turned out, wasn't very hard at all.

The alt-right, founded as it was in white supremacy groups, knows this full well. They've been using the big lie for generations to convince their followers of the coming race war, of the innate inferiority of all non-white races, of the truth that whites in America are the most persecuted minority group. Lie, lie, lie.

But it took the likes of Roger Ailes, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, etc. to fill in the gap that the old white-supremacist movement missed. It's not enough to tell a lie loud enough, often enough. You must also discredit all other sources of information that don't agree with your own. Your lie must be on a level playing field with the truth to win out.

It doesn't help that the modern mass media, with its total misunderstanding of what "showing all sides of the issue" actually means in practice, played right along. The lie was almost never questioned or challenged, because that would be seen as "taking sides in a political debate." The effect was so strong that even Barack Obama, in his first year of office, referred to the use of torture by the Bush administration as "a policy difference" rather than what it was- a heinous and unacceptable war crime.

Thus the forces of evil in this nation took advantage of the First Amendment, using its protection to spread lies and deceive the people and, gradually, to make themselves look respectable and knowledgable.

Result? Today trust of the consensus media, the media that seeks out fact and tries to present it without obvious political bias, is at all-time lows. Media that lies blatantly and cheerfully to stir up fear and hate and advance its own agenda, particularly at the right, grows stronger every day.

And now the kind of men who run that latter kind of media- Steve Bannon being foremost among them- are moving into the White House, where they will have the kind of "dark power" they want.

One more Orwell quote:
“Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.”
And at a pizza shop in the District of Columbia, we've had our first concrete indication of how the Trump administration intends to use that power.

Be very, very afraid.

Monday, September 26, 2016

I Liveblog the 9-29-16 Presidential Debate

Done on Facebook, archiving here:

I'm going to live-blog the debate- the first one I'm listening to live. My expectation is, Clinton loses. I expect her to go full wonk, details, didactic, dull as toast, while Trump beats her up one side and down the other with blatant lies and personal attacks. Clinton will try direct attacks on Trump's integrity, but direct attacks have never worked with him. Above all else, Clinton needs to dump the laundry list of policies and give America a theme, a reason to pick HER and not her PLATFORM. 

Bear in mind I will vote for Clinton in November, but I despise both these people. The difference is, I could be misjudging Clinton and her record, but there's no way I'm misjudging Trump. His record, his speech, his blatant bigotry and greed should disqualify him from ANYTHING.

She shook hands with Trump. I wouldn't do that in a million years.

And Hillary comes out dull as a hammer. with laundry-lists. "I want, I want, I want." The question was, why are you the best person to create the jobs we need for the future? She never actually answered it directly.
Trump comes out by repeating twenty-year-old far-right economic talking points. They're old, and they're wrong, but they are a THEME, not a laundry list. Strangely, Trump is very calm and quiet so far...
"Mrs. Clinton, would you like to respond?" "Well, I think trade is an important issue." She comes out so weak, and then she delivers "Trumped-up," a totally lame laugh line that sounds insincere. And then she treats Trump as if his views were respectable and rational. She's not beating him down, she's LIFTING HIM UP. She's putting him on an equal plane with herself. BAD MOVE.
Trump delivers a credible-sounding point on VAT taxes in other countries, then patronizes Clinton, then slams her on not re-negotiating NAFTA. "What have you done in thirty years?" But he never answered the question about bringing back jobs, and the moderator called him on it. Trump then basically proposes protective tariffs to prevent outsourcing.
Clinton then comes back by attacking the Bush tax codes and deregulations, not job outsourcing. Trump interrupts to make Clinton's pointing out that he rooted for the 2008 economic crash- "That's called business, by the way."
Ah, I see. She's attacking Trump's proposed tax cuts as a job-killer- but it took her long enough.
Trump interrupts again to deny Clinton's calling him out as a climate change denier.
 Trump continues to claim the economy is disastrous. Clinton needs to defend the Obama economic legacy, and fast.
Trump uses the "thirty years" thing again. "I will bring back jobs. You can't bring back jobs."
Clinton almost had a good comeback- "I think my husband did a pretty good job." Unfortunately she has NO timing, NO rhetorical instincts- she just rushed on without letting it sink in.
"NAFTA is the worst trade deal ever." And then Trump attacks on TPP and Clinton's flip-flop. "That is just not accurate," Clinton says, and then Trump talks over her. "Donald, I know you live in your own reality." YES. But Trump interrupts again, trying to get her to blame Obama.
Trump repeats his talking points about how good his tax cut is, and then attacks Clinton on regulations. "I'm gonna cut regulations bigly." And Clinton talks over the moderator to get a response. And tells the audience to fact-check Trump on her campaign website.
And now it's toe to toe, but Trump is unravelling a bit.
New question: Defend your tax policy. Trump basically preaches trickle-down and "job creators."
Trump claims Republicans and Democrats agree on cutting business taxes so multinationals will bring back overseas money.
Clinton scores one with "blame everything on me" and "keep saying crazy things." Trump reacts poorly.
"Trumped-up trickle-down." It's not clever, it's not amusing, and whoever told Hillary it was needs to be fired.
Trump can't respond to Clinton's points about the failure of top-down economics, so he attacks her as a typical incompetent politician.
Trump repeats his attacks that Fed chair Yellin is holding down interest rates solely to make Obama look good. Sadly, that'll look plausible to his conspiracy-theory followers.
Question: "Why don't you release your tax returns?" Trump repeats his "audit" excuse, then says, "Look at my FEC disclosure."
Moderator follows up, basically says the audit excuse is bogus. Trump basically says the IRS is out to get him with audits every year "but I'm not complaining." Then uses it to pivot to emails. Cheers from the crowd.
Clinton attacks Trump on tax returns, using the standard "not as rich," "not as charitable", and "indebted to Wall Street and Russia." Then adds a new point: "Maybe he didn't pay any income taxes." Trump interrupts: "That's just smart."
If Hillary had any instinct for rhythm and when to cut short the babble, she'd be walking all over Trump. As it is, it looks pretty even, with Trump holding an edge in dominance.
Clinton gives her usual unconvincing "I made a mistake" response to emails, and Trump nails her on it. Six "Disgracefuls."
And Trump just claimed with a straight face that $650,000,000 is "not a lot of money."
Apparently, in Trump's mind, having a worse airport than Dubai's makes you a third world country.
And Clinton counterattacks on business. Trump doesn't pay people who works for him. And Trump is NODDING.
Clinton points out that Trump once said he'd negotiate down the national debt. Trump interrupts: "Wrong." And then when she stops, he says, "It's all words." Basically calls Clinton a liar, without saying the L word.
 I'm having trouble following Trump; he's degenerating into word salad.
 "Let's start by talking about race." Hoo boy.
I wish Clinton had a bit more energy on her answer on race, but she's saying everything absolutely right otherwise... until she waffles by saying "cops are nice too."
And guns. Oh boy. I think Clinton just let Trump off the hook by bringing guns into this topic.
"Law and order." Trump basically takes the side of the cops without limit. "Inner cities, blacks and hispanics live in Hell." He doesn't say it, but the framing basically blames non-whites for the lack of "law and order." "We have gangs roaming the streets, and in many cases they're illegal immigrants." Talking points, clearly delivered.
Trump dances around the "stop and frisk" issues and, in the process, makes the moderator look like an ignoramus.
Trump repeats himself, but it's effective.
Clinton defends black communities. "There are right ways of doing this, and there are ways that are ineffective." NO, NO, NO. There are right ways and WRONG WAYS. Use the rhetoric, dammit, don't sounds so goddamn soft.
 Clinton brings up systemic racism. "We can't just say law and order, we hav- we have to create a plan..." She says the right things, but she says them SO DAMN POORLY.
I hope Trump's nodding at Clinton's list of gun control proposals gets him into trouble.
"Do you think police are biased?" Clinton basically says we're all biased- which is the PERFECT way to handle that. It's true. Well done. She pledges training and support for police. Trump agrees with no-fly list also meaning no-guns list, but then he attacks Clinton on "superpredator." Subtly calling her racist. Then goes back to praising stop-and-frisk, that it works, that he'd re-institute it.
Trump: "Democratic politicians use and abandon black voters." Which is not untrue, but Clinton's not likely to get an opportunity to respond.
 No, she did- and she didn't respond to his attack. "I prepared for this debate, just like I prepared to be President, and that's a good thing."
Birtherism comes up. Trump blames Clinton's staff for it. "I got him to give the birth certificate." He actually claims he should be thanked for ending a distracting non-issue. Moderator calls him on it. "Nobody was caring much about it."
Trump claims he has good relationships with the black community.
"Just listen to what you heard."
Clinton brings in the 1973 racial discrimination in housing suit.
Trump basically says, "Don't act like you admire Obama. You hate Obama, look at your 2008 debates." He then says, "I was only one of many, and I never admitted guilt."
note: while I'm doing this I can't check any site that's doing live fact-check. So I don't know if Trump is bullshitting about his Palm Beach club that doesn't discriminate on race.
Cyberattacks. Clinton calls out Russia specifically, then notes that Trump praises Putin all the time. Unfortunately she's just so very poor with her delivery.
Trump wins the point on foreign relations: "I'd rather be endorsed by admirals, generals, and border patrol than by crooked politicians."
He then denies that Russia hacked the DNC, then points out the DNC's plans to shut out Bernie Sanders (which is questionable).
If there's a word cloud of Clinton's half of the debate, the biggest word will be "Ah."
"We have to be cognizant of the fact-" NO NO NO. "We have to recognize."
How do you prevent home-grown terrorism? "Obama and Clinton created ISIS." "We should have taken the oil." Clinton: "Fact-checkers." NO, NO, NO. There was a perfect slam on the idiotic "taken the oil" bit, and you didn't even THINK of it.
Clinton, unlike Trump, answers the original question.
Trump directly attacks Clinton's record as SecState, He then goes into word-salad about NATO.
"I did not support the war in Iraq." "The record shows otherwise." "The record shows that I'm right." - Trump is shameless about his lies, then claims that nobody's gone to Howard Stern and Sean Hannity to get them to testify that he was against the war.
"I have a much better temperament than Clinton." - Er.
Clinton defends her record. Trump nods, but he also sneers.
Trump thinks that American sailors shooting Iranian sailors would not start a war.
Clinton actually speaks well when defending her own record. It's almost the first time all debate she's shown any genuine passion.
So, first use of nuclear weapons. Trump babbles about America being behind, then says he wouldn't first-strike.
Clinton very, very softly and circumspectly attacks Trump on betraying American alliances. Utter fail. If you're going to call him out, CALL HIM OUT.
Hillary gets a little bit of energy when talking on foreign relations... but only a little. The rest of the time she's almost monotone.
The moderator calls out Trump on "Clinton doesn't have the presidential look." Trump claims he said "stamina." Clinton slams Trump on stamina. Trump slams her on her "bad experience." Draw.
And Clinton calls Trump out for his misogyny. And Trump has no good answer except, "Clinton says tough things about me."
And Trump continues to whine.
"Are you willing to accept the outcome of this election?" Clinton: yes. "This election is about you." Trump: "I want to make America great again."
Final conclusion: Trump had the energy, the style, the debating skills. Listening to Hillary was a chore, except on foreign relations, when she actually found a little energy. Her attempts to make jokes fell absolutely flat. But... Hillary had the only one-liners worth a damn. I call this a tie, overall.
Key failure: Hillary Clinton didn't provide a unified vision of what she stands for.
Another way to put this: for someone who only reads the transcripts, and for someone who fact-checks, Hillary wins hands down. For someone watching, who doesn't know much about politics or policy and who is only listening to tones of voice and confidence, Trump won the first half, Clinton the second half, roughly a tie overall. The problem is, there are a lot more of the second category than the first.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Why Worry About a Clinton Presidency?

I have no love whatever for either Bill or Hillary Clinton, mostly because I remember how Bill worked harder than anybody in Washington to get the Republican economic plan enacted.

"Wait a minute," you say. "Bill's a Democrat. Are you saying there's no difference between the parties?" No, there is a difference between the parties... but when it comes to strictly economic matters, it's very hard to find it.

Let's begin with this interview with Thomas Frank, author of What's the Matter With Kansas? and The Wrecking Crew and, most recently, Listen, Liberal, a scathing critique about how the centrist-led Democratic Party has abandoned everyone except the wealthy upper class for the past quarter century. Frank lines up the major policy victories the Clinton administration claimed.

"Fulfilling so much of the GOP agenda": That is a point worth reiterating. Clinton had five major achievements as president: NAFTA, the Crime Bill of 1994, welfare reform, the deregulation of banks and telecoms, and the balanced budget. All of them -- every single one -- were longstanding Republican objectives. His smaller achievements were more traditionally Democratic (he raised the earned-income tax credit and the minimum wage), but his big accomplishments all enacted conservative wishes, and then all of them ended in disaster.

. . .

The final conservative consequence of the impeachment, although this one was surely not intended: impeaching Clinton made him a martyr and hence a hero to Democrats. It secured his family's and his faction's grip on the Democratic Party apparently forever.

Let's omit the Crime Bill of 1994, which is not exclusively economic in nature. (Also worth noting: it's the only one of those five that either Bill or Hillary has expressed any remorse over.)

The same interview, Mr. Frank on NAFTA:

Clinton never had a really great relationship with workers' organizations, but the worst thing Clinton he did to them was NAFTA. There were many trade agreements, of course, but NAFTA was the one that mattered, both because it was the first one and because labor put everything into stopping it. Indeed labor had stopped it when George H. W. Bush tried to get it through Congress. Clinton got it done, however, with a little muscle and a vast fog of preposterous claims about how NAFTA would increase exports and manufacturing employment.

His admirers saw NAFTA as his "finest hour," because he had stood up to a traditional Democratic constituency. What an achievement. NAFTA handed employers all over America the ultimate weapon against workers: They could now credibly threaten to pick up and leave at the slightest show of worker backbone -- and they make such threats all the time now.

This is why union leaders picked Clinton, but union members picked Sanders in the primaries. The leaders are part of the Democratic power structure, but the actual rank and file remember full well how routinely and thoroughly Bill Clinton shafted them.

For a bit more detail on this and the other points, quoting from These United States by Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore and Thomas J. Sugrue:

Clinton was the most prominent member of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), a group of insurgent Democrats founded in 1985 who argued that for the Democratic Party to survive, it needed to move rightward on civil rights, foreign policy, and especially economic policy. DLC members argued that liberals had lost touch with the majority of voters, particularly white working- and middle-class men...

The DLC was particularly attractive to younger Democrats from the Sunbelt. Its first six chairs were all from southern or border states... The DLC's pro-business politics attracted substantial corporate support. By 1991-92, of its one hundred "sustaining members", fifty-seven were corporations and another twelve were professional and trade associations...

At its 1990 conference, the DLC laid out its principles in the "New Orleans Declaration," a document that became a blueprint for Clinton's candidacy. The "Democratic Party's fundamental mission," it stated, "is to expand opportunity, not government." This meant embracing pro-business policies, including free trade, a streamlined, business-friendly tax code, and government subsidies for high-tech research and development. It criticized welfare for maintaining the poor "in dependence." Finally, the DLC echoed Republican calls for "individual responsibility"...

... Most Republicans supported NAFTA, but it faced stiff opposition among Democrats, who argued that it would accelerate "runaway jobs" to Mexico, where companies would have easy access to cheap labor without the burdens of environmental and safety regulations. Clinton countered that NAFTA would encourage American "competitiveness" and, over time, expand American firms' job share...

I'll just pause in the quotes to point out two things. First, in an open market, when people compete, prices come down. In this case, the competition is between American workers and peasant or slave labor in places like Mexico, China, Bangladesh, etc. etc. etc. "Competitiveness" means lower American wages in this context. Second, expanding American firms' job share is not the same thing as expanding American incomes. In fact the opposite has happened; while American firms did indeed expand their "job share," American workers have seen their jobs vanish and their pay stagnate or fall. Looking at the evidence, there's no doubt in my mind that this was deliberate on the part of conservatives. The best you can say for the Clintons is that they aided and abetted the mechanism, even if you can't prove lowering American wages was their goal.

Continuing quotes from These United States:

Since his days in the DLC, Clinton had argued for "personal responsibility." He and conservatives alike argued that poverty was the result of dysfunctional families, parents who lacked the motivation to work, and teens who engaged in crime and promiscuous sex. Behind all these changes was an overgenerous welfare system. Poor people needed a dose of "traditional values" like thrift, deferred gratification, and work discipline.

This criticism of welfare focused mostly on urban African Americans, who lived in communities that had been hit the hardest by disinvestment and depopulation...

In 1996 President Clinton and Speaker Gingrich negotiated the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act. A triumph of bipartisanship, it abolished AFDC, replacing it with a new program called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). ... It was telling that ending poverty was not even listed as one of the law's primary goals. As Representative E. Clay Shaw (R-FL), one of the bill's sponsors, argued, TANF was about discipline. "You're going to have some who are just not going to be able to make it," he stated. Welfare reform "presented a certain amount of pain for not being able to take control of your life." The reform forced individuals to fend for themselves, whatever the consequences might be.

... The new, daunting eligibility rules discouraged many needy parents from applying for TANF, even though they were eligible for support. In the decade following the enactment of TANF, welfare rolls nationwide dropped by nearly 60 percent. By contrast, poverty rates fell modestly in the late 1990s... a 1999 study of poor families in thirteen states reported finding "evidence of lives made harder by the loss of cash assistance." To make ends meet, families often missed rent and utility payments... When poverty began rising again in 2001, their situation would get worse.
Another pause here. Without saying so outright, These United States portrays Bill Clinton as someone who believes the poor, and especially the African-American poor, need to be punished for being poor so they will be forced to work and get out of poverty. The problem with this is twofold. First, work requirements only function if there are sufficient jobs available for all those who seek work. As happened during the 2000-2002 recession and again in the 2008 crash and its aftermath, when jobs dry up during hard times, Clinton's reforms guaranteed there would be no aid for those who needed it most. Second, by requiring work as a condition for public aid, Clinton and Gingrich effectively converted Welfare from an anti-poverty program to a business subsidy for low-wage jobs. The work requirement effectively kills the ability of poor people to reject low-paying, hazardous or degrading work conditions, thereby allowing big business to save money and increase profits at the expense of their workers. Again, the kindest thing you can say about Clinton here is that he was complicit.

One more trawl from the book:

 The most sweeping transformations in the 1990s involved the deregulation of the financial sector. Here too Clinton found common cause with conservative Republicans. Beginning in 1995, the president's economic advisers pushed for a "financial services modernization," including repeal of one of the signature New Deal regulations, the Glass-Steagall Act, which forbade banks to speculate in stocks and real estate using individual depositors' money... Clinton's aides knew that "allowing banks to engage in riskier activities like securities or insurance could subject the deposit insurance fund to added risk." It was a risk they were willing to take.

In 1999 Clinton signed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which undid Glass-Steagall... Over the next eight years, banks created all sorts of new high-risk financial products, without close regulatory scrutiny.

The riskiest involved home mortgage lending, one of the Clinton administration's top priorities... By the late 1990s, lenders, including Washington Mutual, New Century, and Countrywide, began targeting working-class and minority communities with high-interest loans, often with substantial up-front closing costs and hidden fees. The loans were immensely profitable but also incredibly risky.

Predatory loans were especially appealing to those working Americans whose wages had stagnated or fallen...

The book doesn't mention that, under the guidance of conservative Democrats Robert Rubin and Lloyd Bentsen, and ex-Nixon staffer Leon Panetta (who went on to become CIA Director under Obama), Bill Clinton had pushed for financial industry deregulation from his first day in office, while he still had Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, and less than four years after the economic shock of the savings and loan collapse. Bill Clinton believed strongly in deregulating Wall Street, and the kindest thing you can say is that he never foresaw the consequences. And even that is hard to say, considering he continues to defend all his deregulatory accomplishments, and considering Hillary Clinton, for her talk of reforming Wall Street, is still opposed to restoring Glass-Steagall barriers to using federally insured deposits for stock market gambling.

And then let's look at the second biggest thing (after health care reform) that Clinton attempted and failed: privatizing Social Security.

Yes, I'll repeat that: Bill Clinton tried to privatize Social Security. The linked article quotes from The Pact by Steven M. Gillon:

There were also hopeful signs that the public was ready for a serious discussion about Social Security reform. An August 1997 survey by Clinton pollster Mark Penn found that 73 percent of Democratic voters favored some form of privatization, and support was especially strong among younger workers. Independent polls also showed that many young people believed that without significant change the programs would not be able to provide for them in their old age...

Given the high risk involved, Clinton realized that he could not undertake this without bipartisan support, and, Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles reflected, "He knew to do this he needed to work with Gingrich.'' He was confident that he could hold moderate and conservative Democrats and bring enough Republicans to the table to make significant reform...

It did not take long, however, for Gingrich to recognize the potential of a possible Social Security reform package. Bowles provided Gingrich with the same assurances that the president offered to Archer. The president would take the political heat for controversial proposals. Politically, the president and the speaker were closer than anyone realized. They recognized that their parties needed to change in response to new circumstances. They both believed that any effort to update Social Security would require government to incorporate some measure of choice, and that meant some form of privately managed account.

...Instinctively, both men still wondered whether the other was setting a trap in preparation for the upcoming elections. Would Clinton leak word that Gingrich was once again trying to tamper with Social Security and Medicare, reinforcing his image as hostile to the old and poor? Would Gingrich tell reporters that the president was ready to accept the centerpiece of Republican proposals for Social Security: privately funded accounts?
All the key players—Clinton, Gingrich, Bowles, White House congressional liaison John Hilley, and Bill Archer—were cautiously optimistic. ''It wasn't crazy for them to think that if they could do the impossible and pass welfare reform and the balanced budget bill, they could do Social Security,'' reflected Bruce Reed, the president's chief domestic policy adviser.

A couple of names you might recognize: Mark Penn was the pollster-turned-campaign-manager whose incompetence and double-dealing was probably the reason we aren't talking about the successor to President Hillary Clinton right now. Erskine Bowles went on from being Clinton's chief of staff to being hand-picked by Barack Obama, along with Alan "Social Security is a sow with a million teats" Simpson, to chair Obama's deficit reduction supercommittee, which had fourteen out of eighteen members picked who supported either privatization or outright abolition of Social Security. (For more on how Obama has continued centrist austerity policy, read this (admittedly biased) blog post.)

Most pundits argue that the Social Security deal was sunk by the Lewinsky scandal and Clinton's impeachment. According to at least one source, however, Clinton himself didn't see it that way:

But Kies remembers differently. As he told me when I was researching my book, The People's Pension: The Struggle to Defend Social Security Since Reagan, the secret talks continued without missing a beat. They even expanded, to include outreach to members of Congress such as Democratic Sen. Bob Kerrey of Nebraska and even officials in the mutual fund industry. Clinton’s advisors pursued more public discussions with lawmakers about a Social Security deal as well. Keeping all options open, Clinton’s advisors told some reporters the president hadn't rejected partially privatizing the program by carving private investment accounts out of workers' payroll tax contributions.

By early December 1998 -- shortly before Clinton's impeachment -- Sperling and Kies had come very close to a deal. Later dubbed by Kies the Social Security Guarantee Plan, the proposal called for setting up mandatory private savings accounts for every American worker. The federal government would fund these accounts with annual contributions equal to 2 percent of the wage base used to compute old-age and survivors' benefits under Social Security. Workers’ payroll tax contributions would continue to go into Social Security as before; there would be no “carve-outs” to fund the private accounts. When the worker was ready to retire, the Social Security Administration would calculate a monthly stream of payments based on the balance in her account. If the amount was less than her expected benefit under traditional Social Security, the program would make up the difference. If the amount exceeded her entitlement, she could keep the extra for herself.
 . . .
The prospect seemed almost too good to be true.

Which, indeed, it was. Despite the absence of carve-outs, a study released the following year by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, after the plan became public, found that it suffered from many of the same deficiencies as outright privatization. First, there were transition costs -- the massive borrowing needed to fund the private accounts. This would cost the Treasury some $300 billion to $600 billion a year from 2016 to 2042... The accounts might not be the windfall their proponents expected, either. Investment providers would be able to charge their administrative and marketing costs against the assets, pocketing some $34 billion a year by 2030 and more thereafter. Only affluent households would likely enjoy much upside from the accounts, according to the CBPP, since only they would accumulate enough assets to exceed their projected income from Social Security. That in turn would undermine better-off Americans’ support for Social Security, since their entire contribution to the program would, effectively, be used to fund other people’s benefits.

Yet Kies recalls no pushback from White House negotiators in “detailed” talks about the Guarantee Plan in fall 1998. Mostly, they focused on the details. The administration wanted to add a Social Security benefit enhancement for lower-wage workers to the package, while Gingrich and the Republicans wanted retirees to be able to pass on any unused private-account assets to their heirs.
 - See more at: http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/147641#sthash.ciQ42hTn.dpuf
Up to now I've made a point of saying, "The kindest thing you can say about Clinton is that he aided and abetted." But when you take all these things together, how credible is it that a supposedly super-intelligent man, a Yale Law School graduate, did all of these things in his presidency without realizing their likely outcome? Others may have doubts, but I don't; Bill Clinton spent his entire presidency working to loot the lower and middle classes for the benefit of the wealthy, and he's not one damn bit sorry about the consequences.

"But the American economy was great under Bill!" his supporters will cry. Eh... not all that great. There was a brief burst of explosive growth in his first two years, which became weaker and weaker despite the dot-com boom and bust, ending with a recession that technically began during his last months in office. As Paul Krugman points out, the Clinton economy was more a matter of Bill Clinton being lucky than his policies being wonderful:
Specifically, the 1990s were the decade in which American business finally figured out what to do with computers — the decade in which offices became networked, in which retailers like Wal-Mart learned to use information technology to manage inventories and coordinate with suppliers. This led to a surge in productivity, which had grown only sluggishly for the previous two decades.

The technology takeoff also helped fuel a surge in business investment, which in turn produced job creation at a pace that, by the late 1990s, brought America truly full employment. And full employment was the force behind the rising wages of the 1990s.

Oh, and yes, there was a technology bubble at the end of the decade, but that was a fairly minor part of the overall story — and because there wasn’t a big rise in private debt, the damage done when the tech bubble burst was much less than the wreckage left behind by the Bush-era housing bubble.

But back to the boom: What was Mr. Clinton’s role? Actually, it was fairly limited, since he didn’t cause the technology takeoff. On the other hand, his policies obviously didn’t get in the way of prosperity.

 My personal theory is that the combination of GHWB's tax hikes and Clinton's lesser tax hike in the early 1990s, combined with the new technologies and opportunities Krugman mentions, caused the investor class to relax their grip on their money, pouring cash back into the economy and enabling a bottom-up period of economic growth. Previously, under Reagan and GHWB, the wealthy had been squeezing corporations, workers, the government, anything and everything for every penny they could get, building up enormous piles of wealth, and sitting on them. This behavior resumed immediately after GWB was elected, and it's continued ever since, with the result that any inflation from economic growth is offset by the deflation of money removed from circulation for the purposes of wealth-hoarding.

In short: the Clinton economic boom, which was big only in comparison to the truly anemic Reagan-era economy, was due not to his big-business economic policies but rather in spite of them, as an offshoot of the wealthy seeking to evade higher tax brackets and to gamble on the dot-com bubble. Ten years earlier or ten years later, his policies would have been indistinguishable from Reagan's or George W. Bush's- with identical results.

 And why does any of this matter? Supporters of Hillary Clinton in 2016, when confronted with Bill Clinton's regressive economic policies, insist, "They're two different people. Hillary wasn't really involved in economic policy during Bill's presidency." I say: hogwash. Bill and Hillary were sold to the American people as a two-for-one package deal from the very beginning, indeed from Bill's first run for governor of Arkansas. A large portion of Hillary's "25 years of national experience" is her time in the White House, when she was referred to as the "co-President". The two are, politically speaking, a unit.

The most recent proof? Hillary has declared her intent to put Bill in charge of her economic policies once elected.

"I've told my husband he's got to come out of retirement and be in charge of this because you know he’s got more ideas a minute than anybody I know," she said, while talking about manufacturing and jobs. 
 That's right. More ideas a minute. Ideas like gutting the social safety net, free-trade agreements that offshore jobs while allowing corporations to evade American taxes, deregulating an already shamelessly corrupt financial industry, and cutting or privatizing Social Security.

It's this sort of thing which makes Hillary Clinton's claims that she will protect Social Security ring hollow:

In a September 2007 MSNBC debate, Clinton held up the 1983 bipartisan deal between President Reagan and House Speaker Tip O’Neill as a model for how Social Security’s long-term solvency problems needed to be addressed. That was the deal that gave us the increase in the retirement age from 65 to 66 now and 67 by 2027, as well as an increase in the payroll tax. “I think we do need another bipartisan process,” she said at the time. “You described what happened in ’83. It took presidential leadership, and it took the relationship between the White House and Capitol Hill to reach the kind of resolution that was discussed.”
She also put a heavy emphasis on “fiscal responsibility.” Specifically responding to a question of whether she would support lifting the cap that now exempts earned income above about $118,000 from Social Security payroll taxes, Clinton said, “Well, I take everything off the table until we move toward fiscal responsibility and before we have a bipartisan process. I don’t think I should be negotiating about what I would do as president. You know, I want to see what other people come to the table with.”
Clinton’s desire to leave herself negotiating room “until we had a much better understanding of what I would accept and what I would not accept as president” was not only in sharp contrast to the bright lines drawn by Sanders – “… [O]ur job cannot be to cut Social Security. Our job must be to expand it” – but in ran counter to the demands of the coalition of organizations at the forefront of the fight to defend Social Security that recently launched a petition drive calling for Social Security expansion.
Any of this sound familiar?

And as for the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal, which Clinton was "for it before she was against it" (paraphrasing John Kerry's 2004 campaign-dooming gaffe), there's plenty of reason to doubt her current opposition:

As President Obama seeks fast-track authority for a 12-country Pacific trade deal and Congress inches toward giving it to him, Clinton is hedging on a deal she once strongly backed.

"She will be watching closely to see what is being done to crack down on currency manipulation, improve labor rights, protect the environment and health, promote transparency and open new opportunities for our small businesses to export overseas," an aide said in a statement Friday. Additionally, any trade deal would need to pass two tests for Clinton to support it, the campaign said: (1) Protect U.S. workers and raise wages, and (2) strengthen national security.

Yet, previously as secretary of state, Clinton called the Trans-Pacific Partnership the "gold standard in trade agreements." In her second memoir, Hard Choices, released in 2014, Clinton lauded the deal, saying it "would link markets throughout Asia and the Americas, lowering trade barriers while raising standards on labor, the environment, and intellectual property." She even said it was "important for American workers, who would benefit from competing on a more level playing field." She also called it "a strategic initiative that would strengthen the position of the United States in Asia."

"But that was her job as Secretary of State," Clinton supporters will argue, "to support the President's policy." Two points: first, all that does is make Barack Obama equally complicit in working to lower wages and boost corporate profits at the expense of ordinary Americans. Second, her memoir was released after she resigned as Secretary of State. She was under no obligation whatever to continue delivering Obama's message; we must assume, therefore, that what she wrote in Hard Choices is her own belief at the time.

Considering that Hillary Clinton only becomes an opponent of unlimited free trade when she's running for office, and then becomes an enthusiastic supporter once actually in office, it's only sensible to assume that her current lukewarm opposition to TPP will turn to enthusiastic support for ratification if and when she becomes president- with all TPP's many horrible anti-democratic features intact.

And certainly Wall Street doesn't think much of Clinton's promises to reform and regulate them. Going back to where we began, quoting from Listen, Liberal:

"None of them think she really means her populism," wrote a prominent business journalist in 2014 about the bankers and Hillary. The Clinton Foundation has actually held meetings at the headquarters of Goldman Sachs, he points out. He quotes another Morgan Stanley officer, who believes that "like her husband, [Hillary] will govern from the center, and work to get things done, and be capable of garnering support across different groups, including working with Republicans."

How are the bankers so sure? Possibly because they have read the memoirs of Robert Rubin, the former chairman of Citibank, the former secretary of the Treasury, the former co-head of Goldman Sachs. One of the themes in this book is Rubin's constant war with the populists in the Party and in the Clinton administration -- a struggle in which Hillary was an important ally. Rubin tells how Hillary once helped him to get what he calls "class-laden language" deleted from a presidential speech and also how she helped prevent the Democrats from appealing to "class conflict" in a general election -- on the grounds that it "is not an effective approach" to the "swing voters in the middle of the electorate."

When all else fails, Clinton supporters will pull out the old centrist Democrat standby: "It's us or the Republicans! Are you really willing to throw the election to Trump just to show what a good purist you are, you horrible socialist splitter?" It's a cudgel the Clintons have used many times before, and are still using today, to blame voters for their lack of enthusiasm for anti-worker, neo-liberal policies.

Answer: no, probably not. Clinton probably won't throw liberals into concentration camps, and Trump probably will, if his rhetoric is to be believed.

But given all the above, you might understand why a lot of economic liberals will be throwing the lever for Clinton with a feeling of disgust, disappointment, and sadness that the abuse of the American worker and the glorification of the American plutocrat will continue for at least another eight years.