Category Archives: Hillary Clinton

Passion and Politics: Playing Loose with the Truth

Lincoln Cartoon “George Templeton Strong, a prominent New York lawyer and diarist, wrote that Lincoln was “a barbarian, Scythian, yahoo, or gorilla.” Henry Ward Beecher, the Connecticut-born preacher and abolitionist, often ridiculed Lincoln in his newspaper, The Independent (New York), rebuking him for his lack of refinement and calling him “an unshapely man.” Other Northern newspapers openly called for his assassination long before John Wilkes Booth pulled the trigger. He was called a coward, “an idiot,” and “the original gorilla” by none other than the commanding general of his armies, George McClellan.” [Atlantic]

The descendents of those who passionately vilified Lincoln are with us today.   They become particularly noticeable during times when U.S. politics are polarized, polemicized, and full of more propaganda than factual content.  

Case in point: Those “30,000 missing emails” on Secretary Clinton’s server. There are, as we speak, some Internet trolls repeating the claim that Clinton ‘lost’ 30,000 emails during her tenure in the State Department. They’ve got the story bass-ackwards.

“So in 2014, Clinton’s lawyers combed through the private server and turned over about 30,000 work-related emails to the State Department and deleted the rest, which Clinton said were about personal matters.” [Politifact]

The rest of the FBI investigation?

Of the tens of thousands of emails investigators reviewed, 113 contained classified information, and three of those had classification markers. FBI Director James Comey has said Clinton should have known that some of the 113 were classified, but others she might have understandably missed.

Comey said the Justice Department shouldn’t prosecute Clinton because there isn’t enough evidence that she intentionally mishandled classified information. FBI investigators didn’t find vast quantities of exposed classified material, and they also did not turn up evidence that Clinton intended to be disloyal to the United States or that she intended to obstruct justice.  [Politifact]

So, the entire “scandal” doesn’t concern 30,000 emails, those were handed over early in the game; and, it boils down to 3 emails which can’t be shown to have been intentionally mishandled.  Anyone who has been paying attention knows that the investigations were entirely political, entirely overblown, and total malarkey but that’s not the point.  No matter how often the story is fact checked [MMA] [MMA] [Slate] [Star Telegram] [MJ] [WaPo] it is still being pumped by the passionate.

Those in that Basket of Deplorables doing the arm-work to keep the air in that story intended to cause “distrust” of Secretary Clinton are committed to their version – no matter how untrue, no matter how politicized because it’s their version.  Long advised by right wing radio hosts to distrust the media, distrust the ‘establishment,’ and to distrust anything other than the version of events as dispensed by the hosts, they will now easily slip into dismissing any explication which doesn’t fit their personal narrative.  In simpler terms, they don’t care if a statement isn’t true – they’ll find a way to make it that way.

We could add another ten links in the paragraph above to articles debunking the email story (or any other tale for that matter) and the emotional voter will dismiss all as “liberal media.”  Not that they have any idea what the ‘liberal media’ might be – it’s just that they identify as conservative, and the media isn’t enabling their narratives garnered from right wing sources.  Therefore, the media (having been described as liberal on AM radio) must be so. 

If a cavalier dismissal of conflicting information isn’t sufficient, there’s always the conspiratorial element – the ‘liberal’ media must be discredited because “they” are always “hiding something from us.”    Both the Distrust Element and the Conspiratorial Element make up a portion of that Basket of Deplorables – the racists, the misogynists, the bigots, the Islamophobes, the intolerant – which drive some of the support for Trump’s candidacy.

It doesn’t matter how many times the New York Times, or the Washington Post, or any other major news outlet debunks and fact checks Trump’s characterizations of people and events.  These people just aren’t into facts.

Another factor is the capacity of people to filter what they are hearing.  Did Donald Trump say that President Barack Obama was born in the U.S. and is therefore a legitimate president?  Well, they may say slyly, that’s what he said because he had to say it, he just doesn’t really truly mean it.  Interesting that this analysis comes from people who like Trump because “he tells it like it is.”

This isn’t of course to argue that Trump’s 40% support is coming solely from the Deplorables and the Deniers – Secretary Clinton herself acknowledged that there are those for whom our economic system isn’t working.  They’re frustrated, fearful, and in need of assistance not forthcoming from our current political systems.   They’ll vote “against the establishment” whatever that might be (such as Bush, Kasich, etc.) because they want some form of change.

Nor should we forget that there are those who will vote for anyone on the top of the ticket with an R.  There are yellow dog Republicans as well as Democrats.

Hence, this election in 2016 will come down to TURNOUT. Good old fashioned door knocking, phone calling, rides to the polls, TURNOUT.  We can be assured that the Deplorable element will be there, as they were for the mid-terms, and the disaffected will arrive.  It’s a matter of no small importance that Democrats make the same effort to GET OUT THE VOTE.

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Filed under Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Nevada politics, Politics, racism, Republicans

Trump’s Childcare Plan: Advantage to the Advantaged

Econ value of tax deduction

NBC offers this summation of a crucial portion of the Trump and Clinton child care proposals:

“Trump: Working parents – and parents who stay home to care for children – can deduct the costs on their taxes via the Earned Income Tax Credit. The campaign estimates that middle class families could receive a $1,200 tax break.

Trump also proposes a Dependent Care Savings Account that allow the accumulation of funds and are tax deductible and appreciate tax free. Dependent care accounts already exist but must be used by the end of the year and only available through an employer.

Clinton: She wants to cap child care costs at ten percent of a family’s income. To do that, she’d rely on tax cuts or state block grants for the government to subsidize costs exceeding ten percent.”

Fuzzy stuff:  Notice the portion of the Trump explanation which says  the family can deduct the costs on their taxes via the Earned Income Tax Credit.”  Tax deductions and tax credits are two very different animals.

“Deductions reduce taxable income and their value thus depends on the taxpayer’s marginal tax rate, which rises with income. Credits reduce taxes directly and do not depend on tax rates. However, the value of credits may depend on the taxpayer’s basic tax liability.” [TaxPolicyCenter]

Drilling down we find some more variations:

“Some tax credits, however, are fully or partially refundable: if their value exceeds a person’s tax liability, the excess is paid to the filer. The earned income tax credit (EITC) is fully refundable; the child tax credit (CTC) is refundable only if the filer’s earnings exceed a $3,000  threshold.” [TaxPolicyCenter]

The problems with interpreting Trump’s proposal is the conflation of a tax credit with a tax deduction.  It’s either a deduction or a credit but it can’t be both at the same time.   And, some families need help before April 15th:

“Experts say that Trump’s plan is a good start and a recognition that the issue is important to women and families, but Vivien Labaton, co-executive director of Make It Work Action, said Trump’s plan offers less than Clinton’s.

“His childcare proposal is really designed for the Ivanka Trump’s of the country more than the working families who need help,” Labaton said.

She said any plan, including Trump’s, that offers a tax rebate won’t work for many lower income families. Many struggling families don’t make enough to pay taxes and other struggling families who do pay taxes need up-front relief up before tax time.” [NBC]

And, from the Los Angeles Times:

“On child care, Trump would lessen the burden by giving parents a tax deduction for the average cost of child care in their state. For example, his campaign said a family earning $70,000 and paying $7,000 a year in child care would get an $840 tax cut — or about a month’s worth of day care. But the deduction would provide the greatest benefit to wealthier families, who pay more income tax. Low-wage workers, who often spend a disproportionately large share of the income on child care, pay little or no income tax. For families that pay no income taxes, Trump would increase the Earned Income Tax Credit by as much as $1,200 a year. But a once-a-year-check from the government is not always helpful for families struggling week-to-week to pay their childcare bills.”

When comparing the proposals on their potential immediate and positive impact on working families, score the point for Secretary Clinton.

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Filed under family issues, Hillary Clinton

Clinton Speaks to Issues, Press follows Shiny Objects

Clinton with Kid Since corporate media is fascinated with every little tweet from the Trump Menagerie and every bit of its minutiae which can be hyper-analyzed, it’s left to other platforms to highlight Clinton speeches and their content.  Why am I posting this? Because on the day Clinton outlined major policy proposals on mental health services the national media was all tangled up in an NFL player’s protest and Trump’s publicity stunt trip to Mexico.

So, here’s what we’ve missed in just one subject matter  area – minority outreach.

Minority outreach speeches: July 8, 2016 Clinton Speech to the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Philadelphia PA.  A bit of it:

“As we know, there is clear evidence that African-Americans are much more likely to be killed in police incidents than any other group of Americans. And we know there is too little trust in too many places between police and the communities they are sworn to protect.” Clinton said that good law enforcement officers far outnumber those who are bad and a violent response to violence is not the answer. The protest in Dallas yesterday was peaceful and police were there to monitor the crowds and ensure the protesters’ safety when they were fired upon by a sniper. Clinton spoke about her proposal to invest $1 billion in police training across the county to ensure the safety of law enforcement officers as well as the general public.”

July 14, 2016, League of United Latin American Citizens, Washington DC.

“The choice we make will say a lot about who we are and whether we understand and celebrate the diversity of our country, which makes us all the stronger.”

July 18, 2016, address to the NAACP.

“There is, as you know so well, another hard truth at the heart of this complex matter: Many African-Americans fear the police.” Clinton vowed to work toward bridging the gap between the African American community and local police forces.”

June 4, 2016: Santa Barbara, CA community event focusing on women and families.

“The round table discussion consisted of local officials and representatives. Clinton spoke about a number of her platform points aimed at improving the lives of women and helping families. She spoke about increasing the minimum wage, ensuring that women receive equal pay for equal work, ensuring families have access to affordable childcare, and guaranteeing workers paid family leave.”

June 10, 2016: Planned Parenthood event, Washington DC.

“We know that restricting access doesn’t make women less likely to end a pregnancy. It just makes abortion less safe.  And that then threatens women’s lives.”

June 27, 2016: Rainbow PUSH Coalition event, Chicago, IL.

“Clinton’s primary focus was gun violence and introducing legislation to require background checks for the purchase of a firearm. She spoke about the importance of reducing gun violence saying, “I think saving our children and other people from gun violence is a civil rights issue right now in America.”

May 1, 2016:  Clinton is keynote speaker at the Detroit NAACP dinner.

“During her speech, she spoke about a number of platform topics including criminal justice reform, prison reform, gun control, and the refinancing of student loan debt. Clinton said that she wanted to continue to the progress of the last eight years.”

May 9, 2016: Stone Ridge, VA on women and work/life balance issues.

“She said that raising a family and having a career is harder today than it was when Chelsea was a kid. “Costs are greater, everything from commuting time to feeling like if you take that vacation day, you are going to be viewed as slacking off,” she said. Clinton went on to say that she knew that her proposals would change the current system, but it is important to realize that times have changed. She said, “We need to really start looking at these programs from the lens of what life is like today and not what it was like 50 years ago.”

May 10, 2016:  Lexington and Louisville, KY events on the economy and the family.  Follow this link to the bullet point outline of Clinton’s proposals.

May 22, 2016: Keynote address to the Circle of Mothers Restoration weekend, Fort Lauderdale, FL.

“Something is wrong when so many young people just starting their lives are dying. Something is very wrong, my friends, and this election gives us a chance to keep trying to make it right.”

Mr. Trump seems to have “discovered” minorities very recently?

And then, of course, there was the August 29, 2016 speech on mental health care issues – covered by Politico, the BBC, and PBS.  Those who missed what this was all about please follow this link to the briefing points and policy proposals from the Clinton campaign.

For those not content with beltway media blathering and who want a bit more good old fashioned CONTENT and context in their political discussions, there’s the Briefing Section/Fact Sheets portion of the Clinton Campaign.   As I’ve said before, I’ve given up on the corporate media doing much more than giving Trump free publicity and chasing after twitter streams.  Fortunately in this day and age we can do some of the heavy lifting ourselves without waiting for them to catch up.

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Filed under civil liberties, Clinton, Hillary Clinton, NAACP, Nevada politics, Women's Issues

Mark Amodei supports Trump

Amodei Trump It’s that simple. Representative Mark Amodei (R-NV2) supports Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency of the United States of America. [KENV-tv]

And, what is he endorsing?

Donald J. Trump is a textbook case of Projection.  “Psychological projection is a theory in psychology in which humans defend themselves against their own unconscious impulses or qualities (both positive and negative) by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others.”

Representative Amodei is endorsing a man whose relationship with the truth is tenuous at best and oppositional at worst.  He is supporting a man who in 2007 lied at least 30 times in a deposition:

“That deposition — 170 transcribed pages — offers extraordinary insights into Trump’s relationship with the truth. Trump’s falsehoods were unstrategic — needless, highly specific, easy to disprove. When caught, Trump sometimes blamed others for the error or explained that the untrue thing really was true, in his mind, because he saw the situation more positively than others did.”

And yet this man had the temerity to call Secretary Hillary Clinton a pathological liar?  However, that’s not all. There’s a web page devoted to Donald Trump’s lies, and as of May 13, 2016 the count was up to 366.  Trump has kept the folks at Politifact busy, they’ve started a compilation of Trump’s falsehoods. There’s also a listing of the number of occasions in which Mr. Trump’s declarations have earned their “Pants On Fire” designation. Those wanting to see an up-to-date fact check of Mr. Trump’s speech on foreign policy should see Politifact’s piece on that performance.

How would the comparative truthfulness of the candidates be shown in chart form? Here it is:

Lie Chart Representative Amodei would recommend we vote for the candidate who is behind only Michele Bachman in the Pants On Fire category, and who has made the fewest number of TRUE pronouncements? It would be interesting to hear how Representative Amodei might respond to an inquiry such as – How can you tell people to vote for someone whose statements are mostly false, false, or Pants on Fire false?

For that matter, why would anyone want to vote for a man who endorses the Liar’s Liar?

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Filed under Amodei, Hillary Clinton, Nevada politics, Republicans

Clinton on Quarterly Capitalism

Clinton “We need an economy where companies plan for the long run and invest in their workers through increased wages and better training—leading to higher productivity, better service, and larger profits. Hillary will revamp the capital gains tax to reward farsighted investments that create jobs. She’ll address the rising influence of the kinds of so-called “activist” shareholders that focus on short-term profits at the expense of long-term growth, and she’ll reform executive compensation to better align the interests of executives with long-term value.” [Clinton]

I could happily live with this.  She had me at “… where companies plan for the long run.”  Let me start here, and then move forward into a familiar topic on this digital soap box.  I, too, have had enough of “quarterly capitalism,” and it is high time someone offered a cogent proposal to deal with the specter.

First, no one should try to argue that all short term equity and bond purchases are necessarily bad – there are some valid reasons for such trading. However, as in most other things in life it is possible to have too much “of a good thing.”  Let’s face it, high frequency traders aren’t investors – they’re traders, and shouldn’t be confused with those who are putting capital into the distribution system.    Too much short term investing (trading) in the mix and we’re asking for problems, three of which from the investment side are summarized by PragCap:

    1. A short-term view tends to result in account churning, higher fees, higher taxes and lower real, real returns.
    2. A short-term view often results in reacting to events AFTER the fact rather than knowing that  a well diversified portfolio is always going to experience some positions that perform poorly in the short-term.
    3. Short-term views are generally consistent with attempts to “beat the market” which is a goal that most people have no business trying to achieve when they allocate their savings.

If short term investing isn’t good on the investor’s side of the ledger, it’s not good on the corporate side either.  Generation Investment Management (UK) issued a report in 2012 on “Sustainable Capitalism,” [pdf] that emphasizes this point:

“The dominance of short-termism in the market, often facilitated and exacerbated by algorithmic trading, is correlated with stock price volatility, fosters general market instability as opposed to useful liquidity and undermines the efforts of executives seeking long-term value creation. Companies can take a proactive stance against this growing trend of short-termism by attracting long-term investors with patient capital through the issuance of loyalty-driven securities. Loyalty-driven securities offer investors financial rewards for holding a company’s shares for a certain number of years. This practice encourages long-term investment horizons among investors and facilitates stability in financial markets, therefore playing an important role in mainstreaming Sustainable Capitalism.”

Or, put more succinctly, short-term vision creates market volatility (big peaks and drops) which makes our stock markets more unstable, and undermines executives who are trying to create companies with staying power.  Instability and volatility improve the prospects for traders but not for investors, and not for the corporations and their management.

If we agree that “quarterly capitalism,” or “short-termism” isn’t a good foundational concept for our economy – from either the investors’ or the company’s perspective, then what tools are available to make long term investing more attractive, and to help corporations seeking “patient capital?”

rats rear end One tool in the box is the Capital Gains Tax. If only about 14% of Americans have individual investments in “The Market” [cnbc] why should anyone give one small rodent’s rear end about the Capital Gains Tax structure? 

Because:  The present capital gains tax structure  rewards investment transaction income more than on earned income. If we are going to allow this lop-sided approach, then there has to be some economic benefit in it for everyone?  The current system:  

“Capital gains and losses are classified as long term if the asset was held for more than one year, and short term if held for a year or less. Taxpayers in the 10 and 15 percent tax brackets pay no tax on long-term gains on most assets; taxpayers in the 25-, 28-, 33-, or 35- percent income tax brackets face a 15 percent rate on long-term capital gains. For those in the top 39.6 percent bracket for ordinary income, the rate is 20 percent.” [TPC]

Thus, if one’s income is “earned” by trading assets then the tax rate is 20% at the top of the income scale, but if the income is earned the old fashioned way – working for it – the rate could be 39.6%.  This is supposed to incentivize investment.  But note the definition of a “long term asset,” as one held for more than 12 months… that’s right: 12 months. 

Contrast that definition of a long term investment with the Clinton proposal:

Clinton Cap Gains Tax ChartNotice that in Secretary Clinton’s structure the combined rate on capital gains moves from 47.4% for those “short term” investments, down to 27.8% if the investor holds the assets for more than six years.  Five and six years fits my definition of “long term” much better than a “little over 12 months.”

Thus we have an incentive for longer term investments, which means less instability and less volatility.  This seems a much better plan to practice “Sustainable Capitalism.”

rats rear end

But, what of the executive compensation packages that are tied to short term stock prices?   Yes.  That’s a problem. [NYT] And yes, President Bill Clinton’s attempt to rein in executive pay back-fired. However, Secretary Clinton has proposed legislation to provide shareholders a vote on executive compensation, especially on benefit packages for executives when companies merge or are bought out. Her proposal would have created a three year “claw back” period during which the SEC could require CEOs and CFOs to repay bonuses, profits, or other compensation if they were found to have overseen – or been intentionally involved in misconduct or illicit activity.  Granted that doesn’t cover the entire landscape of corporate misadventure, but this could be combined with the following excellent suggestion for amending the tax code:

“Instead, Section 162(m) could be rewritten to allow a deduction for compensation paid to any employee in excess of $1 million only if the compensation is paid in cash, deferred for at least five years and unsecured (meaning that if the company goes bankrupt, the executive would not have a priority over other creditors). This approach would encourage corporate executives to act more like long-term bondholders and obsess less about short-term stock price movements.” [NYT]

Every bit of “encouragement” might help.  I’d be very happy to see CEOs thinking like long term bond holders (if long term means more than 13 months) and less like the traders/gamblers in the Wall Street Casino.

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Filed under Clinton, Economy, financial regulation, Hillary Clinton, Politics, Taxation

>Sharron Angle, Hillary Clinton,Campaign Finance, Citizens United: Whose Money Is In Our Politics?

>Nevada senatorial candidate Sharron Angle is walking a shaky tightrope on the issue of campaign finance reform. This statement from her campaign has been interpreted as a signal she opposed the DISCLOSE Act recently blocked by Republicans in the U.S. Senate [roll call 220]: “Sharron Angle supports the First Amendment, and I find it astonishing that Harry Reid’s priority in Washington is to attack our First Amendment at a time when his home state of Nevada leads the nation in unemployment, home foreclosures, and bankruptcies.” [WaPo] This statement begs a question: What is the connection between the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Nevada’s dismal economic situation?

The answer, of course, is that there isn’t a connection — what’s evident in the Angle campaign’s response is that she would love to change the subject from campaign finance legislation back to the economy. Now, we’ve begged another question: Why is Angle so desperate to change the subject?

The answer to our second question is relatively obvious: Angle has been endorsed by Citizens United. What is “Citizens United?”

Citizens United is a conservative political action organization founded by activist Floyd Brown in 1988, and incorporated as a 501(c) 4 tax exempt organization. Among its previous associations is a connection with Americans For Bush. [SW] Citizens United is also connected to the Swift Boat associated Donatelli Group. The organization’s president is David Bossie, who modeled his attack on presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on the Swift Boat campaign against Democratic candidate John Kerry in 2004. We’re getting closer now to the reason Candidate Angle doesn’t want to talk about campaign finance reform and her endorsement from Citizens United. So, let’s take on the next question: What does David Bossie’s obsession with Hillary Clinton have to do with campaign finance regulation?

The answer lies in David Bossie’s movie, un-originally titled “Hillary: The Movie.” At this point it might be time to insert the fact that Bossie was fired from his position as the chief investigator for the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight in 1998 for “selectively editing,” and otherwise manipulating the content of the testimony of Webster Hubbell. Bossie applied his tape editing and political hit-man skills in his production of his Anti-Hillary Hit Piece.

After producing the Anti-Hillary Hit Piece, Bossie wanted to advertise it. The FEC said NO., and a federal district court agreed. “A federal court ruled that “Citizens United could not run ads for its negative film on Hillary Rodham Clinton without disclosing the ad’s donors. The group wants to release and promote ‘Hillary: The Movie’ to coincide with the dates when many states will hold primary elections, but the court found that in order for the ads to adhere to current campaign finance law, Citizens United would have to disclose who paid for the ads.” [SW] (emphasis added) Now, we’re in some sticky territory.

How did an Anti-Hillary Clinton hit piece open the door for foreign, or multinational corporations, to make anonymous donations to political campaigns?

The Citizens United Case went to the Supreme Court, which in a 5-4 decision, toppled decades of precedent to decide that a corporation — as a legal person — has the same political speech “rights” as an individual citizen. Now the doors are wide open for corporate donations to campaign advertising without any disclosure of WHO is sponsoring the commercials. [NYT] The decision is based on the notion that any “disclosure” might be an exercise in “prior restraint,” or censorship. The result is that ANY corporation or group of corporations may make donations to any political advertising effort without having to disclose its contributions.

The US Chamber of Commerce was delighted with the decision. Indeed, Candidate Angle provided a link to their statement for her supporters. [WaPo] Republicans adopted the “free speech for corporations” argument and ran with it. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) even advanced the bizarre contention that the introduction of the DISCLOSE Act was somehow an attempt by Democrats to gain an unfair advantage in the 2010 mid term elections. Other Republicans followed suit.

One can certainly purchase much “free speech” with the $75 million the US Chamber of Commerce intends to spend on political advertising this campaign season. Those who don’t believe that the Citizens United decision had an impact should note (1) the Chamber’s spending plans constitute a 50% increase in what it previously planned to spend, [reuters] and (2) that the FEC has now “agreed that most of the limitations regulating independent expenditures would be dropped.” [CQP]

Now that the barn doors are wide open and campaigns can expect assistance from trade associations, manufacturer’s organizations, and the US Chamber of Commerce, in issuing candidacy and issue advertising — there are other questions Candidate Angle might want to add to her list of reasons to conduct a “Don’t Meet The Press” campaign.

(1) Does Candidate Angle support the idea that anonymous donors can spend any amount of money available to them for campaign advertising?

(2) Does Candidate Angle believe that organizations and associations, which can raise far more money than can individual donors, should be able to buy a “louder” voice during election campaigns?

(3) Does Candidate Angle support the proposition that foreign or multi-national corporations can anonymously spend money in support of candidates or issues in American elections?

I don’t personally hold out much hope we’ll get answers to these inquiries because if past practice is an indication of future performance then all we can expect is that Angle will (a) run away or (b) try to change the subject.

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Filed under Angle, campaign finance reform, Citizens United, Hillary Clinton