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Category: General

“There Are Too Many Liberals Nowadays. Please Eliminate All of Them. I Am Not A Crackpot.”

[ 322 ] July 30, 2016 |


It’s not exactly news that Jill Stein, The Only True Leftist In America (TM), is an ill-informed crackpot. But this is…special:

The answer to neofascism is stopping neoliberalism. Putting another Clinton in the White House will fan the flames of this right-wing extremism. We have known that for a long time ever since Nazi Germany. We are going to stand up to Donald Trump and to stand up to Hillary Clinton!

“The only way to stop the neofascist Donald Trump is to electe Donald Trump.” Hard to dispute that logic! As Chait says, her argument that the lesson of Nazi Germany is that liberals are the #1 enemy of the Real Left and it’s better to have fascists in power if forced to choose is, ah, idiosyncratic.

In a recent Salon interview, the takes are almost as hot:

Ok, but my question is, do you think there’s a meaningful difference between Trump and Clinton? Is one not objectively scarier than the other?

I’m terrified of Donald Trump. I’m terrified of Hillary Clinton. And I’m most terrified of a political system and people who apologize for it. I’m terrified of people who tell us that we have two deadly choices and we must pick our weapon of self-destruction. We should not resign ourselves to a trajectory that is making a beeline for oblivion. The day of reckoning on climate is coming closer and closer, and I don’t regard Hillary Clinton as one iota safer than Donald Trump on the climate. She’s been promoting fracking around the world. Maybe she’s the most effective evil. She gets a lot of people to do what she wants. She’s got a whole Democratic Party system behind her, which has proven itself extremely effective and extremely dangerous.

The idea that there is no difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on climate issues is, to put it mildly, insane.

She then goes on to argue that a Republican in the White House is no big deal because the fact that the Burger Court produced Roe v Wade and Richard Nixon signed some of the liberal legislation a Democratic Congress put on his desk a unified Republican government in 2017 and a Supreme Court where the median vote is to the right of Antonin Scalia is no big deal. No, really.

Admittedly, while her answers are loonier than most, when someone asks a vanity party candidate or supporter exactly how voting for a third party in a first-past-the-post system will actually accomplish anything that could be worth the huge downside risk, the answer will inevitably be a bunch of non-sequiturs and meaningless gibberish because there is not, in fact, a rational answer to that question. Dr. Stein is truly a crank for all seasons, however, as you can see from this anti-vaxxer-curious woo-woo:

“I think there’s no question that vaccines have been absolutely critical in ridding us of the scourge of many diseases — smallpox, polio, etc. So vaccines are an invaluable medication,” Stein said. “Like any medication, they also should be — what shall we say? — approved by a regulatory board that people can trust. And I think right now, that is the problem. That people do not trust a Food and Drug Administration, or even the CDC for that matter, where corporate influence and the pharmaceutical industry has a lot of influence.”

Stein’s warning about corporate influence in the vaccine approval process is often voiced by “anti-vaxxers.” In reality, most members of the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee work at academic or medical institutions, not drug companies. But for Stein, the fact that people saw corporate and lobbying influence running rampant meant that some skepticism was warranted.


“As a medical doctor, there was a time where I looked very closely at those issues, and not all those issues were completely resolved,” Stein said. “There were concerns among physicians about what the vaccination schedule meant, the toxic substances like mercury which used to be rampant in vaccines. There were real questions that needed to be addressed. I think some of them at least have been addressed. I don’t know if all of them have been addressed.”


As I’ve said before, if your personal brand won’t let you vote for the Democratic Party, you can find a better vanity candidate to write in than Jill Stein — Donald Duck, I.P. Freely, Amanda Hugandkiss, anybody really.


The Garland Silence

[ 143 ] July 29, 2016 |


To expand on Paul’s post below, there is obviously no chance that Merrick Garland is going to get a hearing — let alone be confirmed — before the election. And even if Clinton wins with a Democratic Senate, it is still highly, highly unlikely that he would get confirmed by a lame duck Senate. To give you the tl; dr version, the argument that he will be confirmed is superficially plausible — Garland is the best Republicans could get, so why not confirm him? But the problem is that it’s flatly inconsistent with how the Republican Senate conference has consistently acted in the McConnell era. Again and again and again, they’ve passed up the chance to make marginal policy gains in favor of total obstruction. Any Republican who voted to confirm Garland would be subject to attacks within the party and be vulnerable to a primary challenge. There’s no reason to believe that the typical Republican senator would be willing to take that risk to get a justice who votes with Ruth Bader Ginsburg 87% of the time rather than 95% of the time. And remember also that in the very tight time frame of the lame duck session there would have to be a near-consensus among the Republican Party to allow the nomination to proceed. There is no reason whatsoever to believe that such a consensus exists, and it would be remarkable for the the Senate GOP to break with their long-standing practices for a relatively minor substantive benefit.

I do, however, think that the radio silence at the DNC about Garland is interesting in itself. It’s striking that the Democrats didn’t even try to make an issue out of the unprecedented obstruction of Obama’s Supreme Court nominee. But I don’t think this has anything to do with signaling Congress or anything. Rather, what it tells you is that Merrick Garland has no particular constituency within the party. I can’t prove the counterfactual, but I find it hard to believe that if Paul Watford or Tino Cuellar had been the nominee nobody would have tried to make an issue of it. The Republicans obstructing Watford or Cuellar would have allowed the Democrats to combine several themes — the diversity of their coalition, the intolerance of the Republicans, the importance of the Supreme Court — to create a narrative that might have been useful to the candidates in marginal Senate races. With Garland, however, the only story you can tell is a procedural one about obstruction — and nobody actually cares about that. Since there was never any chance that Obama could get a replacement for Scalia confirmed, the only thing that mattered was the politics. And the politics didn’t make sense at the time and they still don’t.

Between Kaine’s inept flailing on the Hyde Amendment and the absence of Garland from the DNC, I wouldn’t say this has been a great week for theories about the political benefits that allegedly accrue from picking bland white guys.

Was Merrick Garland’s name ever mentioned during the DNC?

[ 63 ] July 29, 2016 |


This guy says it wasn’t, and he has a theory as to why:

[R]ight now the conventional wisdom is that Republicans are blocking Garland’s nomination on the outside chance they can win the presidency and fill Scalia’s seat themselves; and if Clinton wins, they’ll just confirm Garland after the election, during the lame duck session. This plan will work, even if the Republicans lose the Senate, because they’ll still hold the majority until their replacements take office in January. The only way this doesn’t work is if Garland’s nomination is withdrawn. So what if the Garland nomination is withdrawn?

Look, I believe Obama nominated Garland because Garland is who he actually wants on the Court. But the Republican pitch on filling Scalia’s seat is “the voters should decide.” I’ve already explained why that doesn’t make any sense—the voters decided who should fill Supreme Court vacancies when they elected Obama. But a pitch that’s good for the goose is good for the gander. The GOP has handed Obama an excuse to withdraw Garland’s nomination the morning after the election. (Obama: “Guys, guys, you wanted to let the voters decide, and the voters have decided they want Hillary Clinton to fill this seat.”)

Do I think Obama would actually withdraw Garland’s nomination? I didn’t a week ago. But that was before we witnessed an entire week of the DNC, packed with speeches about Democratic goals and priorities—with plenty of talk about Supreme Court decisions that need overturning and plenty of promises to nominate justices who will overturn them—but not a single mention of confirming Merrick Garland.

My theory: If we get deep into August and the polls are showing not only a strong lead for Clinton but also promising leads in enough of those senate races, it will take only credible whispers of withdrawing Garland’s nomination to make the Republicans nervous enough to go ahead and confirm him before the election. And how do you create a credible threat of withdrawal? By taking the stage before millions of viewers for a week to talk about goals and priorities, and the importance of the Supreme Court, without mentioning Garland. There was an effort to rally Democratic voters behind the importance of appointing the right people to the Supreme Court—but no effort to rally Democratic voters behind Garland. Why? Because absenting Garland from the DNC was a signal. The Party didn’t commit itself to Garland. Clinton didn’t commit herself to Garland. Even Obama didn’t push for Garland. The signal: after this week, the possibility of withdrawing Garland on November 9 is real.

This is superficially plausible — and it’s certainly noteworthy that Garland wasn’t mentioned, assuming he wasn’t — but I can’t see the GOP folding on Garland right before the election even if the polls look dismal for them. That sort of show of weakness would just enrage the base further, assuming that particular dial won’t already be cranked up to 11 by then.

For It After He Was Against It After He Was For It

[ 138 ] July 29, 2016 |


As a follow-up to my piece yesterday, Tim Kaine has decided to change his changed position on the Hyde Amendment:

You can see the interview from this morning here. The quote in Quigley’s tweet isn’t unfairly taken out of context; it’s not preceded or succeeded by him saying that “of course I will support the party’s platform irrespective of my personal views” or something like that.

A few implications of this:

  • Substantively, as vice president it doesn’t matter at all. He’s not going to have any effect on Hillary Clinton’s abortion policy and he’s not going to have any effect on how the public views abortion policy. In terms of the direction of the party, Clinton’s stated views are obviously vastly more important than Kaine’s.
  • If he becomes president because Hillary Clinton has to leave office and the Republicans retain at least one house of Congress, it doesn’t matter at all. Because it’s not a stand-alone provision it’s nearly impossible to veto, so all a president can do to affect abortion policy is nominate Supreme Court justices. And when picking nominees, Kaine’s views on the Hyde Amendment will matter about as much as Obama’s nominal opposition to same-sex marriage mattered.
  • It matters if he becomes president and the Democrats somehow assemble a governing majority before 2024. Very unlikely, given the Republican structural advantage in the House, but not impossible. Given what some of the marginal members of the House would look like if the Democrats were to take it back I suspect the president’s views would be the least of the problems with putting together a majority to get rid of the Hyde Amendment, but it certainly doesn’t help.
  • It’s a reason to oppose him for the Democratic nomination even if he runs for president in 2024. Even if he adopts the position on the party’s platform now, he won’t be trusted and shouldn’t be. (Obama took too long to come out for same-sex marriage, but he didn’t flip back after 2 days.)
  • This is really bad form from Kaine. If he wanted to just say something like “whatever my personal views, our nominee for president and the party platform support repealing the Hyde Amendment,” and stick with it, OK. His comments on the 27th, although not the 29th, are acceptablish. But this immediate flip-flop and miscommunication with Clinton’s staff, while not the biggest deal in the world, is a thumb in the eye to an important part of the Democratic coalition. When the rationale for picking someone is that he’s a boring but experienced politician, he’s not supposed to make mistakes like this.
  • The case for Perez over Kaine was obvious — he’s more progressive than Kaine, he represents a crucial and growing Democratic constituency, and he doesn’t but a crucial Senate seat at risk. Against Perez was the idea that because of the magic of his having held statewide elected office Kaine would be much less likely to make political mistakes. Hmmmm. I don’t really see the basis for this — experienced pols commit blunders all the time. (Cf. Joe Biden, who worked out fine anyway.) I still think the idea that Perez wouldn’t the minimum standards of a vice presidential nominee is baseless and insulting.

“Have You Even Read the United States Constitution?”

[ 287 ] July 29, 2016 |

I thought Clinton was as good as she needed to be, maybe a little better — started a little slowly, but got a lot stronger as it proceeded. But my opinion doesn’t matter — we’ll see how the polls shake out.

But we shouldn’t forget what’s at stake here.

This Thing Is Finally Ending: DNC Open Thread

[ 178 ] July 28, 2016 |


Probably less to talk about tonight, but the Clinton speech is as important as such things can be, so we should probably have another one. And I’m burying the lede: tonight will also feature the epochal fart-in that will surely lead to the nearly instantaneous demise of American capitalism. (Will Jonah Goldberg be the keynote speaker?)

A couple people have flagged this Yglesias piece, which is indeed good. Whether or not you buy the argument about Clinton, this is always worth highlighting:

The presidency is the most powerful office in the most powerful political system in the the most powerful country in the world, so in the grand scheme of things, the president of the United States is probably the single most powerful politician in the planet.

But viewed in comparison to the powers wielded by other heads of government, the American presidency is actually an extraordinarily weak office. Our federal system diffuses power down to the states and to myriad small-time local elected officials. We further diffuse power out to America’s unusually powerful judicial branch. The president’s legislative powers are sharply circumscribed by a bicameral legislature whose Senate even has the power to reject the president’s executive appointments.

Within the sphere of appointed executive officials, a wide range of important jobs — from the Federal Reserve chair to the FBI director — enjoy fixed terms of office and cannot be operationally controlled by the president on a day-to-day basis. Many other important executive functions are farmed out to an alphabet soup of semi-independent commissions — SEC, FCC, FTC, FEC — whose leadership the president only partly selects.

The upshot of this is that a successful president needs to govern collaboratively.

We have a mental model of decisive leadership in a crisis — the president snapping quick commands, making the hard choices no one else will — but what effective presidenting generally requires is coordination across diffuse centers of power. Most of the people whose acquiescence the president needs to get big things done genuinely can’t be forced to do it. He — or, more to the point, she — needs to convince a lot of prickly stakeholders that even if they can’t all get what they want, it’s better to get something done rather than fall apart in a sea of bickering.

I allude to this briefly in the Hyde Amendment piece from today, but the way supporters of LBGT rights gained power as the Obama administration proceeded is one relevant example of how the dynamic plays out. Any president will have a few big priorities, but apart from that the direction of administration isn’t just a case of the president imposing his or her will on the rest of the political system.

Scott Adams 2020!!

[ 119 ] July 28, 2016 |

As some of you may know, Scott Adams is voting for Hillary Clinton because his tinfoil-ensconced head is telling him to. But his heart is clearly with Trump.

Or maybe he has political aspirations of his own? I figure it’s too late for him to run this year…but think of all the topics he can master in four years!!! Scott Adams 2020!!!!

Chomsky on the Voter-As-Consumer

[ 284 ] July 28, 2016 |


Granted, in terms of his lefty credentials Noam Chomsky is no Jill Stein or H.A. Brogan deBragman. But his recent piece on the voter-as-atomistic-consumer model beloved by blowhards all over the intertubes is very well-turned indeed:

1) Voting should not be viewed as a form of personal self-expression or moral judgement directed in retaliation towards major party candidates who fail to reflect our values, or of a corrupt system designed to limit choices to those acceptable to corporate elites.

2) The exclusive consequence of the act of voting in 2016 will be (if in a contested “swing state”) to marginally increase or decrease the chance of one of the major party candidates winning.

3) One of these candidates, Trump, denies the existence of global warming, calls for increasing use of fossil fuels, dismantling of environmental regulations and refuses assistance to India and other developing nations as called for in the Paris agreement, the combination of which could, in four years, take us to a catastrophic tipping point. Trump has also pledged to deport 11 million Mexican immigrants, offered to provide for the defense of supporters who have assaulted African American protestors at his rallies, stated his “openness to using nuclear weapons”, supports a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. and regards “the police in this country as absolutely mistreated and misunderstood” while having “done an unbelievable job of keeping law and order.” Trump has also pledged to increase military spending while cutting taxes on the rich, hence shredding what remains of the social welfare “safety net” despite pretenses.

4) The suffering which these and other similarly extremist policies and attitudes will impose on marginalized and already oppressed populations has a high probability of being significantly greater than that which will result from a Clinton presidency.

5) 4) should constitute sufficient basis to voting for Clinton where a vote is potentially consequential-namely, in a contested, “swing” state.

The End of the Democratic Defensive Crouch on Abortion Rights

[ 118 ] July 28, 2016 |
WASHINGTON, :  US Representative Henry Hyde, R-IL, Chairman of the US House Judiciary Committee conducts impeachment hearings 01 December on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The Committee is hearing testimony on the consequences of perjury and related crimes.  AFP PHOTO/Luke FRAZZA (Photo credit should read LUKE FRAZZA/AFP/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, : US Representative Henry Hyde, R-IL, Chairman of the US House Judiciary Committee conducts impeachment hearings 01 December on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The Committee is hearing testimony on the consequences of perjury and related crimes. AFP PHOTO/Luke FRAZZA (Photo credit should read LUKE FRAZZA/AFP/Getty Images)

Tim Kaine coming out against the Hyde Amendment is a yooooge deal:

Kaine did indeed sign some bad anti-abortion legislation and take some bad anti-abortion stands when he was governor of Virginia. He’s a Roman Catholic who has said that he’s personally pro-life. But as Caplan-Bricker and Robin acknowledge, he has also had a flawless pro-choice record since becoming a U.S. senator, earning A grades from both NARAL and Planned Parenthood. Should we be concerned that Kaine will backslide—that the state-level politician is the real Kaine?

This is not actually a difficult question: Kaine’s record as a senator is far more relevant.  “[I]t’s hard to know,” says Caplan-Bricker, “whether Kaine’s new look reflects his own changing attitudes, or the changing shape of the Democratic Party.” But since he is the party’s nominee for vice president, the distinction doesn’t actually matter. He is going to represent the party’s strong consensus on the issue, which is reflected in the most strongly pro–reproductive justice plank in the history of national Democratic platforms. To what limited extent the vice president can influence abortion policy, he will follow this party line. What he “really thinks” about abortion isn’t relevant to how he’ll act in office.

To underscore this, before speaking at the DNC on Wednesday, Kaine came out in opposition to the Hyde Amendment, which prevents public funding from being used to obtain abortions (and hence represents a substantial barrier to poor women attempting to attain them). He’s not just defending Roe v. Wade, in other words, but coming out in favor of broadening abortion access. Representing a national Democratic constituency, Kaine is going to act differently than he did representing a state constituency in Virginia. He’s not going to change back unless the national party itself changes dramatically.

It’s worth pausing to reflect on how remarkable and welcome this change is. During the Clinton and Bush years, pro-choice national Democrats were often on the defensive, defending abortion rights in cautious rhetorical terms. There was a national epidemic of pundits calling on the Democratic Party to deemphasize abortion rights, and perhaps even give up on upholding Roe v. Wade altogether. The fact that supporting the restoration of federal public funding for elective abortions is now the minimum acceptable position for someone on the Democratic presidential ticket is a big deal—and the fact that Kaine had a prior history of compromise on the issue just makes the transition all the more striking. It’s hard to imagine NARAL’s Hogue’s quietly radical speech from Wednesday—in which she openly talked about having an elective abortion—being given at a national convention 20 years ago.

Unlike Kaine, Hillary Clinton hasn’t changed her positions, but she has changed her rhetorical emphasis in ways that show the power of the movement for reproductive rights within the party.

This is how politics works. In general, ambitious national politicians follow their coalitions rather than impose their will on them.

As anyone who was around then knows, this is really just a major step forward from where abortion politics were in the 90s. Remember when almost every pundit in America attacked the Democrats for not letting a governor who had literally sued to get Roe v. Wade overruled denounce abortion rights at the Democratic National Convention? That was really stupid. (Oddly, I don’t remember anyone arguing that the Republicans are obligated to have speakers denounce upper-class tax cuts.)

And to echo what I said about the death penalty yesterday, doing away with the Hyde Amendment is very doable. Obviously, it’s not happening with Republican control of either house of Congress, and even with a Democratic Congress it would be a heavy lift. But the Democratic president coming out against it is the kind of thing that signals to judges on the Democratic team that overruling the Hyde Amendment should be on the agenda of liberal constitutionalism. If Hillary Clinton is able to replace Scalia’s vacant seat, the Court could and should rule the Hyde Amendment unconstitutional. Over to you, Justice Stevens:

The federal sovereign, like the States, must govern impartially. The concept of equal justice under law is served by the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of due process, as well as by the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

When the sovereign provides a special benefit or a special protection for a class of persons, it must define the membership in the class by neutral criteria; it may not make special exceptions for reasons that are constitutionally insufficient.


These cases involve a special exclusion of women who, by definition, are confronted with a choice between two serious harms: serious health damage to themselves on the one hand and abortion on the other. The competing interests are the interest in maternal health and the interest in protecting potential human life. It is now part of our law that the pregnant woman’s decision as to which of these conflicting interests shall prevail is entitled to constitutional protection.

This Day in Labor History: July 28, 1932

[ 58 ] July 28, 2016 |


On July 28, 1932, the U.S. Army 12th Infantry regiment commanded by Douglas MacArthur and the 3rd Calvary Regiment, supported by six battle tanks commanded by Major George Patton violently evicted the Bonus Army from their Washington, D.C. encampment. This violent action and horrible treatment of impoverished veterans shocked the American public and demonstrated the utter indifference of Herbert Hoover to the desperate poverty the nation faced, helping to seal his overwhelming defeat that fall that ushered in the widespread change of the New Deal that would follow.

The Great Depression absolutely decimated the American working class. Unemployment shot up to 25 percent by the winter of 1933, while underemployment affected perhaps an additional 25 percent of workers. Herbert Hoover was simply unable to deal with these problems. Hoover was a man with a long humanitarian record, but he was very much a Progressive in a period where the voluntarist response to social problems that movement valued no longer worked. Charges that the Hoover didn’t care about the poor are overstated. But he simply could not accept any large-scale state involvement in solving the problem. By the summer of 1932 he had slightly moved off his position, but widescale social programs were anathema. Even more horrifying to him was worker activism.

In 1924, Congress passed the World War Adjusted Compensation Act that granted World War I veterans a one-time pension check in 1945. Calvin Coolidge vetoed this bill because of course Coolidge would veto a bill that gave anyone a dime, but Congress overrode the veto. But by 1932, these soldiers needed that money now. They faced unthinkable poverty. They could not feed their families. What difference did it make if it was 1932 or 1945, veterans thought. So they began to demand the immediate payment of their bonus. The bonus was not a huge amount of money. It paid veterans $1 a day for service while in the U.S. and $1.25 in Europe, up to a maximum of $500 in the U.S. and $625 in Europe. That $625 is about $8000 today. This was not going to make people rich. But it was something at time when something is exactly what was needed.

As the Depression deepened, Congress did allow veterans to borrow against the value of the certificates. Originally they could borrow up to 22 percent of the total, but in 1931 Congress expanded this to 31 percent. Congressional support for paying the entire bonus grew. In January 1930, 170,000 desperate veterans applied for the loans–in 9 days. Veterans struggled with what must have been PTSD, as Veterans Administration studies in 1930 and 1931 showed that veterans had unemployment nearly 50 percent higher than non-veterans of the same age. Beginning in 1930, Congress began exploring new bills to help veterans, but none became law. On June 15, 1932, the House passed the Bonus Bill that would grant the bonuses immediately.

At the same time, veterans began descending on Washington, DC demanding the immediate payment of the bonus. Organizing this protest was an organization you might not expect today–the Veterans of Foreign Wars. The VFW was really struggling in the early 1920s. But after 1929, its membership exploded because it supported the immediate payment of the bonus, while the American Legion, a proto-fascist anti-worker organization, opposed it. They created a Hooverville in Anacostia, in what is today Anacostia Park. The veterans created a sanitary camp, despite being in Washington during the summer. The camp did not welcome non-veterans or other radicals who might want to turn the event to their purposes. To stay in the camp, people had to prove their veteran status and eligibility. They could however bring their families. Approximately 20,000 veterans traveled to Washington during the summer of 1932.

Beginning in March, the VFW aggressively lobbied for the bonus. VFW leaders presented Congress with a petition from 281,000 veterans demanding their money. Veterans camping was an annual event for the VFW. So the act of setting up in one place was not radical, nor unusual, although the official 1932 encampment was in Sacramento. But in 1932, encamping in DC had a specifically politically agenda. The movement for a specific Bonus Army came out of Oregon, where veterans began organizing for an encampment in Washington, DC. They hopped trains and headed east. Thousands joined them. The VFW did not precisely endorse the Bonus Army and it wasn’t quite affiliated with it, but there was a lot of support for it and many VFW locals sent supplies and provided other forms of support. Hoover refused to even meet with the veterans, although he spoke at American Legion conventions on at least two occasions. And while the House passed the bill, the Senate overwhelmingly rejected it, 82-18.

For the most part, the Bonus marchers accepted their defeat. Congress even passed a bill to pay for their transportation to go home. Most left, but not all. Herbert Hoover was very nervous about the remaining bonus marchers. The Washington police force had no patience for the Bonus marchers and neither did the military. The remaining marchers began squatting in government buildings. Hoover ordered them cleared. The police were happy to do so. This led to skirmishes. That led Hoover to order MacArthur to clear out the camp. But Hoover was pretty clear–this was not to be violent. MacArthur disobeyed his orders and burned the whole camp. After he demolished the camp, he told the press that the Bonus Army was full of communists. That Douglas MacArthur, what an American hero. MacArthur’s actions absolutely devastated Hoover’s re-election chances, if he still had them in July 1932. Franklin Delano Roosevelt would obliterate Hoover in November, creating a rare complete realignment of American politics. The VFW strongly supported Roosevelt, wanting revenge on Hoover for what happened to the Bonus Army.

The Bonus Army was not a movement with a radical or unionist agenda. But it was a clear expression of activism that was transforming the working classes by the early 1930s and would lead to the greater explosions of worker activism in the next few years that would force the government to pass laws like the National Labor Relations Act, Social Security Act, and Fair Labor Standards Act. Interestingly, Roosevelt was not a big supporter of paying the bonus either. There was another march in 1933. FDR provided them a camp site in Virginia and 3 meals a day but did not publicly support their goals. Finally, in 1936, Congress passed a bonus bill. FDR vetoed it. But Congress overrode it and much of the bonus was paid early.

I borrowed from Steven Ortiz, “Rethinking the Bonus March: Federal Bonus Policy, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Origins of a Protest Movement,” in the July 2006 issue of Journal of Policy History, in the writing of this post.

This is the 185th post in this series. Previous posts are archived here.

Smooth, Barack. Very Smooth.

[ 169 ] July 28, 2016 |

Well, that did the job — indeed, I think it easily tops the 2004 convention speech that ended up propelling him to the White House. In addition to the obvious I greatly appreciated the subtweeting of Rahm Emmanuel.

Also relevant:

Driven by those fears, the president plans to campaign aggressively for Mrs. Clinton this fall. Aides have largely cleared his calendar in October, and barring new crises, the White House expects Mr. Obama to be on the campaign trail almost daily leading up to Election Day.

Preserving his impressive policy legacy will require Clinton to win in November. He knows it, and he’s by far the best political talent either side will have on the trail. It certainly can’t hurt.

DNC Open Thread By Request

[ 268 ] July 27, 2016 |


I mostly watch these things, when I do, out of obligation to my side quasi-profession. But I will say that Obama’s speech tonight is the rare convention speech I’m actually looking forward to. Having Bill Clinton focus on humanizing Hillary while leaving the Trump evisceration to Biden and Obama is smart. They’re both, in different ways, really good at doing it in a way that doesn’t get the media going about how shrill and uncivil criticizing your [Republican] opponent is.

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