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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Middle-Class Revulsion

Joel Kotkin writes at RCP:
Middle-class revulsion with the political mainstream has been driven by slow economic growth, stagnant wages, a dysfunctional education system, and, for smaller businesses, a tightening regulatory regime. Homeownership is now at a nearly half-century low. New business start-ups, for the first time in three decades, are not keeping up with the number of deaths. Both stats reveal a real decline in aspiration. Most Americans, in a stunning reversal of past trends, see a worse future for their offspring than themselves. Who can blame them? Middle-class breadwinners and working-class wage-earners now suffer from deteriorating health and shorter lifespans.

In other words, middle-class Americans could certainly use a champion. But those who chose Trump went off the rails.
He isn't cheering Clinton, either:
By elevating this disingenuous demagogue, Trump voters have assisted in the further ascendency of the oligarch class. The forces coalescing around Hillary Clinton -- mainstream Wall Street, particularly hedge funds, beltway lobbyists, the big media, Silicon Valley, Hollywood, and green capitalists -- do not share the priorities of Middle America. Bernie Sanders made an issue of Clinton’s Wall Street support, but the Vermont socialist was always too marginal, cranky and, ultimately, too doctrinaire to win even in today’s Democratic Party.
With Sanders conveniently dispatched, the crony-capitalist class is assured its worldview prevails. They can check all the boxes that Rob Atkinson has labeled as“the Davos application” of open immigration, greater globalization, free trade, and higher carbon prices.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Hillary Victory Fund and Transfers to DNC

Bill Allison reports at Bloomberg:
When the Democratic National Committee announced its $32 million fundraising haul last month, it touted the result as evidence of “energy and excitement” for Hillary Clinton’s nomination for the White House and other races down the ballot. The influx of money, however, also owes in part to an unprecedented workaround of political spending limits that lets the party tap into millions of dollars more from Clinton’s wealthiest donors.

At least $7.3 million of the DNC’s July total originated with payments from hundreds of major donors who had already contributed the maximum $33,400 to the national committee, a review of Federal Election Commission filings shows. The contributions, many of which were made months earlier, were first bundled by the Hillary Victory Fund and then transferred to the state Democratic parties, which effectively stripped the donors’ names and sent the money to the DNC as a lump sum.

Of the transfers that state parties made to the DNC for which donor information was available, an overwhelming proportion came from contributions from maxed-out donors: On average, 83 percent of the money that was sent from the state committees to the DNC in July originated with a donor who had already given the maximum $33,400 to the national party.
 “I’m not aware of any case law or regulations that would prohibit a state party from transferring to a national party committee funds raised through a joint fundraising committee,” Robert Kelner, an election law expert at Covington & Burling said. “But as a practical matter, it does appear that the DNC may be using Hillary Victory Fund as a mechanism for allowing donors to give more to the DNC indirectly than would otherwise be permitted directly.”

Friday, August 26, 2016

Weak Democratic Bench

Jennifer Steinhauer reports at The New York Times that just as Senate Republicans blew their shot at majorities in 2010 and 2012 before finally taking control in 2014, Democrats have fielded mediocre candidates in key races: Katie McGinty (PA) Deborah Ross (NC), Catherine Cortez Masto (NV), 72-year-old Patty Judge (IA), 75-year-old Ted Strickland (OH).
The Democrats’ problem stems from a depletion of their ranks in state legislatures and governors’ mansions over recent years and a lack of institutional support for grass-roots-level politicians who represent a changing base.
“Democrats have done a poor job, and I take my share of responsibility here, in not being as focused as Republicans have on building at the grass roots,” [David] Axelrod said. “Look what the G.O.P. and their related agents have done with legislative and City Council and school board races. They are building capacity, and Democrats have paid the cost.”
Many promising young Democrats in the House have been frustrated by the reluctance of Representative Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader, and her aging deputies to step aside and let new members ascend to leadership — one of the few rewards for a minority party in the House. “I was on the recruitment committee, and a lot of candidates decided to take a pass,” said Representative Karen Bass, Democrat of California. She added, “There are people who are new to Congress and have a difficult situation because they are not going to be there for 20 years.”
Some simply leave. “I was one of the few Democrats not to support Nancy Pelosi for leader,” said Representative Gwen Graham, Democrat of Florida, who is retiring after one term and planning to run for governor. “We need new voices.” Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, once considered a potential House speaker, is running for the Senate.
Democratic ranks have also been decimated in state governments across the nation, where new leaders tend to plant roots for future higher office.
After the 2008 elections, Democrats controlled 62 of the 99 state legislatures; today, Republicans control 68 chambers, according to Governing magazine. Over the same time period, the number of Democrats in governor’s mansions fell from 28 to 18. In both cases, Republican control is now at or near historic highs.

Freedom Caucus and Club for Growth

Rachel Bade reports at Politico:
Rumor swirls that Freedom Caucus & Club for Growth are in cahoots. We’ve been hearing for a while that some lawmakers and political operatives aligned with House GOP leadership are growing increasingly concerned that the powerful conservative outside group Club for Growth is taking marching orders from their arch-nemesis: The House Freedom Caucus. So, yours truly went to track this rumor down.

What we found was that it’s pretty obvious why they believed there was some unholy coordination going on: 1.) All Club-backed House contenders this year are members of, or endorsed by, the Freedom Caucus. 2.) The Club's super PAC has spent $3.7 million to boost a half-dozen Republican primary candidates who've pledged publicly or privately to join the Freedom Caucus 3.) Some of the candidates' policy positions are at odds with some of the Club's positions, raising eyebrows among its detractors. 4.) And one operative told us they heard it from the horse’s mouth directly.
Don’t miss Rep. Lynn Westmoreland’s (R-Ga.) pretty scathing quote: "I was a Club-endorsed candidate when I first ran for Congress. I had to go through a very thorough interview by a committee of Club members at their office ... to make sure I agreed with their issues. Now I'm told that the Club is taking a different approach. Now all a candidate has to do is be endorsed by the House Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim Jordan. The Club is spending their members' money on candidates that don't necessarily line up with their core principles on immigration or free trade. I don't understand the coordination and I would think it would be a surprise to Club members."

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Echoing An Anti-Goldwater Ad, Clinton Video Links Trump to the KKK

A video released Thursday by Hillary Clinton’s campaign makes the case that Donald Trump is the candidate of racists, white supremacists and neo-Nazis.
“The reason a lot of Klan members like Donald Trump is because a lot of what he believes, we believe in,” a robed man identified as the Imperial Wizard of the Rebel Brigade Knights of the Ku Klux Klan says at the top of the video, followed by images of a Confederate flag fluttering in the wind, Trump waving after a speech, and a man performing a Hitler salute at what appears to be a Trump rally.

In 1964, the LBJ campaign produced a similar ad, but decided not to air it because it went too far.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Resolving a Question About Fred Trump

Trump is offending African American voters with his bleak portrayal of their living conditions.

Trump is also offending Catholics.  Raphael Bernal reports at The Hill:
Steve Bannon, Donald Trump's new campaign CEO, previously accused Catholics of supporting Hispanic immigration to prop up the church's numbers on his radio program in the spring.

"I understand why Catholics want as many Hispanics in this country as possible, because the church is dying in this country, right? If it was not for the Hispanics," Bannon told Robert P. George, a Princeton law professor who, along with dozens of other leaders, wrote an open letter to fellow Catholics denouncing Trump.

"I get that, right? But I think that is the subtext of part of the letter, and I think that is the subtext of a lot of the political direction of this."
The Hill first reported on Bannon's March 8 comments Monday. Bannon railed against House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and said he was "rubbing his social-justice Catholicism in my nose every second."
Trump also employs an openly anti-Catholic spokesperson and has directly attacked Pope Francis. 

If he is serious about "pivoting," he should follow the example of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In 1990, responding to reports that his father had been a Nazi, he asked the Simon Wiesenthal Center to investigate.  The Center found that the reports were true.  By being open and proactive, Schwarzenegger inoculated himself against his father's taint.  In 2003, his gubernatorial campaign suffered no damage when additional details surfaced about Gustav Schwarzenegger's Nazi activities.

Trump could make a gesture of goodwill by dealing with his own father's past.  Earlier this year, news accounts provided documentation that New York City police arrested Fred Trump in the wake of a 1927 anti-Catholic Ku Klux Klan rally in Queens.  Donald Trump flatly denied the story, even though three separate contemporaneous news accounts noted Fred Trump's arrest.

These stories do not prove that Fred Trump was a Klan member, but they surely raise questions.  With his vast wealth, Trump might be able to settle these questions by sponsoring a full investigation of his father.  If the investigation finds that his father was not a Klan member, he can claim vindication. If it does, he can get credit for honesty and candor.

Mr. Trump, as you keep rhetorically asking African Americans, what do you have to lose?

Joint Fundraising Committees

Matea Gold and John Wagner report at The Washington Post:
Clinton was the first presidential contender this cycle to take advantage of recent changes in campaign finance rules that allow candidates to seek massive contributions in conjunction with the national party.
[Political parties go after million-dollar donors in wake of looser rules]
By giving to two joint fundraising committees that Clinton’s campaign set up with the DNC, a single donor can contribute as much as $619,200 this year to support her bid. (Trump now has a similar arrangement with the Republican National Committee that allows donors to give up to $449,400.)
A Washington Post analysis of Federal Election Commission filings found that 65 Clinton allies had given at least $300,000 apiece to her joint fundraising committees by the end of June, together accounting for more than $29 million in contributions.