Lordy

Lordy, I hope... well, a lot of things...

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Late Night Track -- Wake Me Up When September Ends


Professional Left Podcast: Episode 369 -- "Finally, A Resistance Podcast!"

Brought to you this week by MacGuffin's Muffins!

A lot of discussion by our favorite podcasting couple (at least until Ari and I start to do one <3 <3 <3) of the lack of permanent liberal infrastructure, one of my favorite obsessions.

I just want to place a finer point on something DG & BG discussed. Uber-wealthy liberals don't put money into said infrastructure because they focus their money on direct services like feeding poor Africans or AIDS medicine (though that's not entirely true -- a lot of liberalish tycoons put money into places like university endowments at schools that don't need it), and there also isn't the kind of payback for them that conservatives aim for in tax cuts and deregulation.

What's left unsaid, but I think is important, is that even though liberal donors give to some pretty misguided things (hello, charter schools!), their hearts are at least 80% in the right place, while Sheldon Adelson, Foster Friess, the Kochs, the Mercers, et al, aren't even burdened by possessing a heart at all! They can be 100% about self-interest and that's why they're focused enough to spend their money all the way down to the school boards and to fund wingnut welfare.

Basically, fuck those guys.

But Happy New Year, Cornfield Resistance!

UPDATE (12/31/16, 7:50 PM): I forgot the link! Listen here.

Earworm of the Afternoon - I Love New York City


Not on Our Side

I couldn't have woken up to a more perfect example of why we have to band together in 2017:



We have a President-Elect that refers to us as his "enemies." To use a colloquialism, HOLY FUCKING SHIT.

Happy 2017, Kids!

Late Night Track -- I.G.Y.


On the Same Side

This is based on a piece I was going to write tomorrow, but I think I've got something in me at 2 AM...

As I'm sure I've said on this site a dozen times before, Ari and I are writing for our own edification more than for others to read; we were both gobsmacked by the events of 11/9 and are both looking for the lessons we can learn so that we can get involved in the fight ahead of us in our own way (we're best friends, but are in very different situations). We have our own lives and our own careers, and neither of us ever expects to make a living writing about politics, and are really happy to mostly aggregate the people we read regularly who do or are trying their asses off to do so (see the Daily Rounds in the right sidebar).

We bring our own strengths to the table; Ari brings bona fide economic expertise, and I sorta bring the ability to link a whole lot of crap together and make sense of it, but mostly I bring my heart on my sleeve. So, for the most part, I don't write thinking about how many people might read what I babble (though I like numbers so when they do climb it's fun to watch). I have found that about once every ten days or so I write something that I really want other people to read, and it's nice to have a platform beyond Facebook on which to do it. Last Wednesday night/Thursday morning was one of the times where I really appreciated that, even though I was a little hesitant:

Last night, I visited a local watering hole in Brooklyn that I tend to frequent. I was busy studying for an exam, so I pretty much had my head in a book for much of the night. However, I couldn't keep it there because there were not one, but two incidents of Trump supporters in this bar (where there were maybe 15 people) trying to provoke others.
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The Tennessean then asked me if I knew what the "wood treatment" was. I said no, and he said, "It's when I slam your head into the bar." Despite the fact that he was much bigger than me, I thought to myself that I had a moral obligation to stand up to him. I did exactly that -- I got off my seat, and said "You think so?" and he somehow backed down, and then the three glared at me as they left without finishing their beers.
I was actually a bit embarrassed. I'm not the kind of guy who gets into physical fights. I apologized to the bartender for the situation, and he said, "No, don't apologize. I thank you, because someone needs to give actual facts and statistics to guys like that."

After having some time to process and to chat about the situation with friends, I find myself proud that I did stand up not just for myself, but for the principles, like, uh, science, that I'm going to stubbornly cling to for as long as I can.

But happily, tonight I can tell a different story -- same location, same time of night, but different players. A couple of hours ago I was at the same bar, in roughly the same seat, and struck up a conversation with a Spaniard who was in Brooklyn on business. He really wanted to discuss American politics, and we agreed readily that Trump/Pence/Ryan/McConnell/other evil flotsam are just a horror show in waiting. From there, he stated that, as a European, he would've had a hard time accepting a politician as "moderate" as Hillary Clinton and that he thought that Bernie  Sanders would've made a better President. There's obviously nothing unusual about discussing that, but the fact that at the same place where things nearly got out of hand after a Clinton/Trump exchange last week, I debated for over an hour about Clinton/Sanders with no violence (save for a "terrorist fist jab" -- ahhh, 2008, simpler times) left me with a wee bit of optimism. This contrast was magnified as I ambled home through Fort Greene listening to the mighty Digby on blog-to-speech:

We are in uncharted territory with a new leader at the top of a political party that has reached peak insanity in a world in which the very concept of truth is being challenged. It feels as though everything liberals and progressives care about is about to come under assault from a dozen different directions. It's going to take a concerted effort just to understand it all much less figure out how to resist it.
I don't have the answers about how to do that. But I do have a willingness to keep my eyes open and my mind as clear as I can keep it to sort through all the day to day chaos and try to see things as clearly as I can. If we can do that in this chaotic media environment I think we're halfway there. 

3 AM now, and this is getting a bit incoherent. But what I'm getting at is that, though we are about to take some blows from the Republicans that were unimaginable two short months ago, we have the opportunity to emerge as a better team, even if we never in our lifetimes make up the ground we lose over the next four (or, FSM forbid, more) years. I am never going to agree with, or even try to find any common ground with, the Deplorables from last week who insisted I was a hypocrite because I supported abortion rights while fretting about 30,000+ gun deaths per year in this country. But I am, as Digby says, trying to maintain "a willingness to keep my eyes open and my mind as clear as I can keep it to sort through all the day to day chaos and try to see things as clearly as I can." I have no beef  with the Sanders supporter who wants to provide free health insurance and education to every American; we both want that and just disagree on how close and how soon we can get to that and what the American political system can accommodate.

I happen to think that the 2016 Democratic Party platform was a political miracle. We came together and we assembled a document with the following Table of Contents:

Raise Incomes and Restore Economic Security for the Middle Class...................................... 3
Raising Workers’ Wages ............................................................................................................ 3
Protecting Workers’ Fundamental Rights................................................................................... 4
Supporting Working Families..................................................................................................... 4
Helping More Workers Share in Near-Record Corporate Profits............................................... 5Expanding Access to Affordable Housing and Homeownership ............................................... 5
Protecting and Expanding Social Security.................................................................................. 6
Ensuring a Secure and Dignified Retirement.............................................................................. 7
Revitalizing Our Nation’s Postal Service ................................................................................... 7
Create Good-Paying Jobs............................................................................................................. 7
Building 21st Century Infrastructure .......................................................................................... 7
Fostering a Manufacturing Renaissance ..................................................................................... 8
Creating Good-Paying Clean Energy Jobs ................................................................................. 8
Pursuing Our Innovation Agenda: Science, Research, Education, and Technology .................. 9
Supporting America’s Small Businesses .................................................................................. 10
Creating Jobs for America’s Young People.............................................................................. 10
Fight for Economic Fairness and Against Inequality .............................................................. 10
Reining in Wall Street and Fixing our Financial System ......................................................... 11
Promoting Competition by Stopping Corporate Concentration................................................ 12
Making the Wealthy Pay Their Fair Share of Taxes................................................................. 12
Promoting Trade That is Fair and Benefits American Workers ............................................... 13
Bring Americans Together and Remove Barriers to Opportunities...................................... 14
Ending Systemic Racism .......................................................................................................... 14
Closing the Racial Wealth Gap ................................................................................................. 14
Reforming our Criminal Justice System................................................................................... 15
Fixing our Broken Immigration System ................................................................................... 16
Guaranteeing Civil Rights......................................................................................................... 18
Guaranteeing Women’s Rights................................................................................................. 18
Guaranteeing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights .............................................. 19Guaranteeing Rights for People with Disabilities..................................................................... 19
Respecting Faith and Service .................................................................................................... 19
Investing in Rural America ....................................................................................................... 20
Ending Poverty and Investing in Communities Left Behind .................................................... 20
Building Strong Cities and Metro Areas................................................................................... 21
Promoting Arts and Culture ...................................................................................................... 21
Honoring Indigenous Tribal Nations ........................................................................................ 21
Fighting for the People of Puerto Rico ..................................................................................... 23
Honoring the People of the Territories ..................................................................................... 24
iii
Protect Voting Rights, Fix Our Campaign Finance System, and Restore Our Democracy 24
Protecting Voting Rights........................................................................................................... 24
Fixing Our Broken Campaign Finance System ........................................................................ 25Appointing Judges .................................................................................................................... 25
Securing Statehood for Washington, D.C................................................................................. 26
Strengthening Management of Federal Government................................................................ 26
Combat Climate Change, Build a Clean Energy Economy, and Secure Environmental
Justice ........................................................................................................................................... 27
Building a Clean Energy Economy........................................................................................... 27
Securing Environmental and Climate Justice ........................................................................... 28
Protecting Our Public Lands and Waters.................................................................................. 29
Provide Quality and Affordable Education.............................................................................. 30
Making Debt-Free College a Reality ........................................................................................ 30
Providing Relief from Crushing Student Debt.......................................................................... 31
Supporting Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions.. 31
Cracking Down on Predatory For-Profit Schools..................................................................... 32
Guaranteeing Universal Preschool and Good Schools for Every Child ................................... 32
Ensure the Health and Safety of All Americans ...................................................................... 34
Securing Universal Health Care................................................................................................ 34Supporting Community Health Centers.................................................................................... 35
Reducing Prescription Drug Costs............................................................................................ 35
Enabling Cutting-Edge Medical Research................................................................................ 36
Combating Drug and Alcohol Addiction.................................................................................. 36
Treating Mental Health ............................................................................................................. 36
Supporting Those Living with Autism and their Families........................................................ 37
Securing Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice .................................................................. 37
Ensuring Long-Term Care, Services, and Supports.................................................................. 38
Protecting and Promoting Public Health................................................................................... 38
Ending Violence Against Women............................................................................................. 38
Preventing Gun Violence .......................................................................................................... 39
Principled Leadership ................................................................................................................ 39
Support Our Troops and Keep Faith with Our Veterans....................................................... 40
Defense Spending ..................................................................................................................... 40
Veterans and Service Members................................................................................................. 41
Military Families....................................................................................................................... 41
A Strong Military...................................................................................................................... 41
Confront Global Threats............................................................................................................ 42
Terrorism................................................................................................................................... 42
Syria .......................................................................................................................................... 42
Afghanistan ............................................................................................................................... 43
iv
Iran ............................................................................................................................................ 43
North Korea............................................................................................................................... 43
Russia ........................................................................................................................................ 43
Cybersecurity and Online Privacy ............................................................................................ 44
Non-Proliferation of Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Weapons ......................................... 44
Global Climate Leadership ....................................................................................................... 45
Protect Our Values...................................................................................................................... 45
Women and Girls...................................................................................................................... 45
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People..................................................................... 46Trafficking and Modern Slavery............................................................................................... 46
Young People ............................................................................................................................ 46
Religious Minorities.................................................................................................................. 47
Refugees.................................................................................................................................... 47
Civil Society.............................................................................................................................. 47
Anti-Corruption......................................................................................................................... 47
Torture....................................................................................................................................... 47
Closing Guantánamo Bay ......................................................................................................... 47
Development Assistance ........................................................................................................... 48
Global Health ............................................................................................................................ 48
HIV and AIDS .......................................................................................................................... 48
International Labor.................................................................................................................... 48
A Leader in the World................................................................................................................ 49
Asia-Pacific ............................................................................................................................... 49
Middle East ............................................................................................................................... 49
Europe ....................................................................................................................................... 50
Americas ................................................................................................................................... 50
Africa ........................................................................................................................................ 51
Global Economy and Institutions.............................................................................................. 51


Look at the items I bolded. Most of those were, while not entirely anathema to the Democratic Party of the 1990s, would have been considered divisive. But they're there now. Why? Because we're the good guys. We know we are, and the other side seems to be proud they're not.. I'm glad to be a member of  Hillary Clinton's party. I'm glad to be a member of Barack Obama's party. I'm glad to be a member of the party that Bernie Sanders decided was a proper vehicle for his progressive message. We're all on the same team, and we have a blueprint for the future of America.

I spent most of the early part of the day playing on Twitter, and found that this offhand tweet I made to Karoli at Crooks & Liars received an inordinate number of likes (17!):

The question is not, as Karoli asks, "Are we not Americans before partisans?" It's "Is it not necessary to be partisan as Americans today?" Howard Zinn and all that. All of us resisting Trump and his ilk need to come together under the Democratic Party umbrella, no matter which candidate we supported in the primaries. If you can't recognize that the Democratic Party is a general force for good as we enter 2017, you're not my ally. If you're out to turn the party into a circular firing squad, ditto.

I was on the fence until recently regarding the Greenwald/Snowden/Manning crowd, but no. Y'all make me think #pecsandhorse, and I think the seventeen people who liked my tweet think so too.

As we enter 2017, I ask anyone reading this (all seven of you):

  • Are we going to accept foreign meddling in our elections?
  • Are you OK with gutting the American safety net?
  • Can you countenance the erosion of rights of people because of their gender, race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation?
  • Should Americans be prevented from having affordable education and health care?
  • Can you accept further degradation of our air, water, and other natural resources, leaving a wasteland for future generations?
My answer to all of the above is "HELL NO." If you agree, there's only one side to be on. We'll sort the rest out later.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Quick Thought

I really want to feel like Trump is poking a bear (not a Russian one) that will lead to his political demise, but I'm pretty sure I'm fooling myself.

UPDATE (12/30/16 7:10 PM): If you want to try to fool yourself a bit longer like me, follow this guy on Twitter. He's a great read:


Earworm of the Afternoon -- Life's Been Good

Because I just couldn't help it...



Fun With Twitter -- #pecsandhorse

Watching all of the Russia/Trump defenders on Twitter last night reminded me of exactly how this right-wing love with Putin began...

 
 
They were doing this years ago (warning, Twitchy link)... and so was the Kremlin.
 
This morning, I got trolled by one of said defenders and found this as I scanned his wall:
 

 
 
So, I've got a new hashtag for the Trump/Putin 'shippers out there: #pecsandhorse... It's for all the conservatives with Russian daddy issues.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Must Be Because of Obamacare

Sears is in trouble, per Atrios:

Plagued by the realities threatening many retail stores, Sears also faces a unique problem: Lampert. Many of its troubles can be traced to an organizational model the chairman implemented five years ago, an idea he has said will save the company. Lampert runs Sears like a hedge fund portfolio, with dozens of autonomous businesses competing for his attention and money. An outspoken advocate of free-market economics and fan of the novelist Ayn Rand, he created the model because he expected the invisible hand of the market to drive better results. If the company’s leaders were told to act selfishly, he argued, they would run their divisions in a rational manner, boosting overall performance.
Instead, the divisions turned against each other—and Sears and Kmart, the overarching brands, suffered. Interviews with more than 40 former executives, many of whom sat at the highest levels of the company, paint a picture of a business that’s ravaged by infighting as its divisions battle over fewer resources. (Many declined to go on the record for a variety of reasons, including fear of angering Lampert.) Shaunak Dave, a former executive who left in 2012 and is now at sports marketing agency Revolution, says the model created a “warring tribes” culture. “If you were in a different business unit, we were in two competing companies,” he says. “Cooperation and collaboration aren’t there.”

This is why we need a businessman in the White House.

Late Night Track -- Nintendohemian Rhapsody

In memory of the Wii U (I actually own one!)...

Obama, Don't Go!

Can't believe I'm quoting David Frum, but he's right:

Without Trump’s own willingness to make false claims and misuse Russian-provided information, the Wikileaks material would have deflated of its own boringness. The Russian-hacked material did damage because, and only because, Russia found a willing accomplice in the person of Donald J. Trump.
Many questions remain about how the Russian spy services did what they did. That includes Putin’s motives for ordering the operation. But on issues from Crimea to Syria to NATO to the breakup of the European Union, Trump’s publicly expressed views align with Putin’s wishes.
Over Trump’s motives for collaborating so full-throatedly with Russian espionage, there hangs a greater and more disturbing mystery—a mystery that Trump seems in no hurry to dispel. And maybe he is wise to leave the mystery in place: as delegitimizing as it is, it’s very possible the truth would be even worse.
Our readers know my feelings on this; this race was so illegitimate and we have traitors coming into power, but there's nothing we can do about it.

But if we at least want to stand up to them, we need a leader. No one's really come forward yet. The one who should is obvious, but he doesn't appear to want the responsibility:

In a podcast interview posted Monday with his longtime political adviser David Axelrod, Obama made clear he doesn’t want to lead the resistance to the new president. He allowed that he might take on Trump “a year from now or a year and a half from now or two years from now”—if “foundational issues about our democracy” are at risk—but Obama has other post-presidency priorities: vacationing with his wife, drafting his next book, developing new Democratic talent, and, before any of that, getting some serious shut-eye.
No one begrudges Obama some R&R after eight taxing years. But the memoir can wait. And while he should absolutely promote the next generation of Democrats—and work on redistricting with Eric Holder, as he’s also planning to do—those projects will take many years. The left has more immediate, pressing political concerns. Until the opposition finds a new, dynamic leader, it should be able to count on the great one it’s already got.
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“I believe in the wisdom that George Washington showed, that at a certain point, you make room for—for new voices and fresh legs,” Obama told Axelrod.

What do we have to do to convince him? Maybe give him everything on Steve Martin's Christmas list?

A Small Price

A little more from Lindsey Graham and John McCain on the Russian hacks:

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) released a joint statement Thursday calling President Barack Obama's new sanctions against Russia a "small price" for the country to pay.
“The retaliatory measures announced by the Obama Administration today are long overdue," Graham and McCain said in the statement. "But ultimately, they are a small price for Russia to pay for its brazen attack on American democracy. We intend to lead the effort in the new Congress to impose stronger sanctions on Russia.”
Graham and McCain are among the most vocal Republican lawmakers calling for action against Russia.
Putting it in their language, what price will Trump pay? I'm getting increasingly sure it's nothing.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Cutting Taxes without a Tax Cut

As Jason pointed out recently, eliminating Obamacare would provide a huge tax cut to the top 0.1% -- about $154,000 on average. Republicans also have plans to cut taxes beyond that through a massive cut to the corporate rate, but even that won't be enough for their big money donors. So how do Ryan, Trump, and the rest of the GOP continue to cut taxes when such policies are incredibly unpopular?

Just as eliminating Obamacare would provide a massive tax cut, privatization of our social safety net (Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and disability assistance) would provide billions in tax cuts to individuals and businesses.

For 99% of their employees, corporations pay 7.65% taxes for their share of FICA. The top 1% of workers have incomes that exceed $118k, and therefore employers will only pay 1.45% on the portion of income for workers exceeding that threshold (this is a mirror of what workers pay).

The average Fortune 500 company employs 52,900 workers. The bottom 99% of earners would be 52,371 workers. And the average earnings per worker is $48,098.63. So, ignoring the top end (the executives), we can see that a typical large company wold save $192.7 million if Paul Ryan is able to eliminate FICA. Add it up and you hit $100 billion per year just to the Fortune 500 companies. Now that's a tax cut.

No One Who Is Rich...



Also, this...

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Not Nearly Enough

They all know:

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) says President-elect Donald Trump is at odds with nearly the entire Senate over whether Russia interfered in the election.
“There are 100 United States senators. ... I would say that 99 percent of us believe that the Russians did this, and we’re going to do something about it,” Graham told CNN’s Jim Sciutto on “The Situation Room” on Tuesday.
Graham appeared alongside Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) from Estonia, a Baltic nation he said knows firsthand the danger Russia represents.
“It’s just not in our backyard. [Russia’s] doing it all over the world, not just the United States. They’re interfering in elections in democratic countries’ efforts to self-determination all over the world," Graham said.

Trump is not "at odds" with nearly the entire Senate. He's lying. He knew, and he (or at least his underlings) was complicit.

Evan McMullin is right:



That would imply to me that Trump should be sanctioned. But it seems that only Russia will be.

The Obama administration is close to announcing a series of measures to punish Russia for its interference in the 2016 presidential election, including economic sanctions and diplomatic censure, according to U.S. officials.
The administration is still finalizing the details, which are also expected to include covert action that likely will involve cyber operations, the officials said. An announcement on the public elements of the response could come as early as this week.
The sanctions part of the package culminates weeks of debate in the White House about how to revise an executive order from last year meant to give the president authority to respond to cyberattacks from overseas, but which did not originally cover efforts to influence the electoral system.

At least we can spend the next four years holding onto Obama's confidence in counterfactuals.

Or we can just puke for four years:


They're just gonna let this happen....

Why Is Paul Ryan Rushing to Repeal Obamacare?

Jonathan Cohn at HuffPo thinks it's because there's too much good news coming in about Obamacare and that it will start to push his caucus's constituents to start to make noise:

House Speaker Paul Ryan has vowed a quick repeal of Obamacare in order to “stop the damage” and because “things are only getting worse.”
Meanwhile, here is a selection of news reports from the past two weeks:
The Obama administration announced that the number of people signing up for insurance through HealthCare.gov, the federal website that 39 states use to administer Obamacare plans, is even higher than last year. State-run sites such as Covered California are reporting similar surges.
An independent think tank, The Commonwealth Fund, published a study showing that fewer people are skipping medical care because of cost ― most likely because, thanks to the health care law, so many more people have health insurance.
Standard and Poor’s Global Ratings reported that insurers selling Obamacare plans are seeing better financial results this year, suggesting that premiums are finally coming into line with the actual medical expenses of their customers ― and that this year’s big rate hikes may be a “one-time pricing correction.”
It’s possible that Ryan thinks these and similarly positive news items are irrelevant ― that the Wisconsin Republican has deluded himself into thinking Obamacare really is an unmitigated policy disaster, rather than a fairly typical government program full of pluses and minuses and the inevitable implementation complications that large reform efforts usually overcome.
It’s also possible that Ryan’s crusade to pass repeal in January has nothing to do with policy and everything to do with politics ― that he wants Congress to vote before the rest of the country, and maybe even the president-elect, wakes up to the real-life changes such a vote would unleash.
It could be, but aside from the fact that many House Republicans are pretty safe thanks to gerrymandering, getting this and many other things that will result in lower taxes for his backers is the highest priority, and he may only have two years to get them all through -- ACA, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, SNAP, public education... these things will take time.

Having said that, delaying the vote in any way we can, for whatever reason, is a good idea. Also, protesting ACA repeal in districts like these would be terrific.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Post-Mortem Roundup, Week of 12/25/16

Lots of stuff to go through this week, though I'm guessing it'll be pretty soon that post-mortems will start to dwindle. At least Ramona Grigg hopes so:

All I ask is, no more postmortems. I don't want to rehash how or why Trump won. I don't want to hear that it was all Hillary's and the DNC's fault, or that anti-government voters wanted massive change, or that the racists won the day, or that Vladimir Putin and the Koch Brothers caused enough of a sneaky upheaval to cause half of America to go crazy and vote for an unqualified, ruthless carnival barker who lies with every breath he takes. I've read and heard it all.
We're not there yet. There's still new information coming out, and Ari and I will be working on ours for another month or two. Then we'll stop (mostly).

I was going to start by dissecting Nate Cohn's piece on the dissolution of the "Obama Coalition," particularly white working class voters (boy, am I sick of that term) in the northern Midwest. However, Ari beat me to it:

Nate Cohn's December 23rd column points to the cause of Clinton's loss as her inability to hold Obama's coalition together. His two pieces of evidence are:
1. Undereducated whites in Northern states voted for Trump in greater numbers than they did Romney.
2. Black voters in key Southern states did not vote at the same level as in 2008 or 2012.
The first point is wrong and the second completely misses the reason why.
Read more here.

Ari's basic assertion is that the 2008 "Obama Coalition" was more of a fluke caused by both the Bush economic collapse (which resulted in scenarios like this, which could only hold for so long), and because heck, Obama has the kind of charisma we really haven't seen in American politics in ages. If we're depending on that, we're in trouble... or not. The demographic progression John Judis and Ruy Texeira wrote about years ago appears to be real; it's just that as the groups that make up the Democratic coalition grow, Nixon's Southern Strategy, which won over the Southern working class whites from the Democratic Party to the Republicans, may taken hold among rural and exurban white in the North, or as Booman puts it, the Southification of the North. If that's the case, it ain't economic anxiety causing Rust Belt whites to vote more Republican. If it were, you'd expect nonwhite working class voters to trend in that direction, too. But it's not new for American white people in the lower-to-middle classes, who have been told for centuries that minorities are coming to take their stuff, to respond to that by digging in further.. In any case, 2016 was not the year the demographic bubble burst for the Republicans.

On Twitter, Elliott Lusztig's tells us why he believes that bubble is getting ready to burst soon:



Kurt Eichenwald disagrees; he thinks the Dems need to not lose the white working-class vote in order to win:

Hot off the presses, Ari points out that the "white working class" is, for the most part, too small to swing a presidential election based on addressing their issues alone. It is especially important to note that whites make up a small portion of the overall working class.
Of the 43.1 million people living under the poverty line, white people account for 28.6 million or 66%.  On the other hand, whites account for 79% of the people living over the poverty line. The CPS data does not breakdown age-race demographic combinations but we do also know that of the 43.1 million poor, 66% are above the age of 18.  If those people voted at the same rate as wealthier Americans (our first assumption), then we would be looking at about 15.7 million people under the poverty line that voted.  Since the CPS does not offer data for race-age subdivisions, we have to make a second assumption that the distribution of the poor over the age of 18 is the same as the distribution of the poor in general, such that 66% are white.  Multiplying that 15.7 million by 0.66 we find a total of 10.4 million voters here that make up the "White Working Class" - in effect, 7.6% of all voters.
Hillary turning Obama's 28-point margin of victory into a 12-point margin of victory, therefore means she lost 1.2% net votes to Trump. Compare that to the 2-3% that she lost because of Comey's interference and another 2-3% that she lost because of Putin's interference. And don't forget that a good sized chunk of that 1.2% may have flipped because of Comey or Putin. 
Booman doesn't quite agree with Ari (we're back and forth on this today), but regardless of whether the WWC vote is necessary to bring back to 2008 levels to win the Presidency back, there are other considerations:

But they haven’t been voting Democratic because they agree with us on pluralism or America’s proper role in the world or how to conduct diplomacy or the importance of science-informed education and policy or the importance of female autonomy and empowerment or the minimum requirements of temperament and experience expected of a president. They are probably more inclined to support the police than Blacks Lives Matter, don’t give a damn about climate change, and are conservative about gay rights. They voted for Obama despite all of these differences from Obama’s metropolitan “coalition of the ascendant.”
What this election did was cleave these voters from the Democratic Party even as the opposite thing was happening in our suburbs.
But the most threatening thing, in my view, is that too many of the suburban voters who abandoned the GOP's presidential candidate wound up sticking with downticket Republicans. In other words, it isn't an even swap.
Worse, even if it were an even swap, it would still be a bad trade due to the demographic dispersion of the vote. The Democrats will continue to lose most districts in this country if all their strength is confined to cities, suburbs, and college towns, and that means Republican dominance in state legislatures and the U.S. House of Representatives for as far as our eyes can see.
Through partisan redistricting, like it or not, Republicans have handed the keys to Congress to rural and exurban white voters, and we can't change that until 2021 at the earliest. So in the meantime, what can we understand about their needs?

Ian Reifowitz says there's a kernel of truth this time to jobs moving from whites to minorities, but that's based on location:

Let’s start with the topline stuff. This data, produced by the independent Economic Cycle Research Institute, covers the past nine years since the peak in employment we hit in November 2007, i.e. before the Great Recession. Before I dive in deeper, this sentence from the ECRI’s report sums it up:
Whites actually have fewer jobs than nine years ago, while Hispanics, Blacks and Asians together gained all of the net jobs added, and more.
ECRI explained the importance of place, and how it affected the data on race and employment:
Part of the reason may be that these jobs, predominantly in services, were created in metropolitan areas, rather than in rural areas and small towns where factories were shuttered as the manufacturing jobs disappeared. There is little reason to expect that those jobs are coming back to those areas away from the urban centers.
Looking at the numbers, metropolitan areas gained jobs over the past nine years, 5 percent more than they had in 2007, while the rest of the country shed 2 percent. In that sense it has been a lost decade for large geographic swaths of the country, in particular rural America—which has seen death rates increasing among rural whites, especially women, with suicide and drug overdose causing just about all the spike among younger people.
All these things connect. They help explain why Trump won enough votes in non-urban parts of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin to put him over the top. Overall, among whites without a college degree, Trump won by 39 points. More importantly, he outperformed Mitt Romney by 14 points among that group, while Hillary gained 10 points among whites with a degree compared to President Obama four years ago. Even if the exit polls are off, they’re not off by enough to undercut what those figures tell us about the white working class vote.
Whites are losing jobs while others are gaining them because the jobs have been moving to the cities and out of the rural and exurban areas that used to be  "company towns."

"Icallbs" explains why, despite the fact that Hillary would likely help those voters more (to the extent they can be helped), they voted for Trump:

In the end it is not about the solutions that Trump is or is not providing, it is about his attitude toward minorities and anger at the “elite” that attracted them. The black President oversaw an economic recovery that benefited urban areas and minorities. As they see it, he helped “his kind”. Hillary is an educated woman who they felt would do the same, no matter what she said. They want someone instead who gives them permission to lash out at these people and provides them empty promises that the white rural working class will rise again without them having to adapt to accommodate technology, diversity and a new economy.

But according to Kevin Drum, we wouldn't even be talking about any of this if it weren't for the Comey letter:

Let's add this up:
  • Trump gained 0.9 + 3.1 - 1.7 = +2.3 percent
  • Clinton gained -0.9 + 2.3 - 3.1 = -1.7 percent
The October poll ended on the 24th. FBI Director James Comey released his infamous letter on the 28th. The November poll then showed Hillary Clinton with a net loss of 4 percent compared to Trump. This compares to net movement of only a few tenths of a point in the final days of the 2012 election. 

Nate Silver agrees:

No automatic alt text available.

Russian interference (covered up by Comey) likely also affected the race negatively for Clinton. Say that's worth another point in either direction, and without two incredibly unlikely occurrences, not only would Hillary have won, her raw numbers could have approached Obama's 2008 numbers and Trump's could have been similar to McCain's -- in other worse, if Russia and the FBI had stayed out of our election, not only would Hillary have won, but she would've won by quite a bit, potentially carrying a couple of the closer Senate seats as well as some additional House races. But it wasn't to be. However, it may indicate that Trump performed near the top of the range of where a Republican can, and Hillary was near the bottom for a Democrat -- in the final weeks, a worst-case scenario happened to her, and yet she lost by 70,000 votes in three states.

But perhaps we should've seen something like that  coming. We know that Republicans play dirty tricks and then use the media to amplify them --- in the last few cycles, we've had "Al Gore Said He Invented the Internet," Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, and Birtherism. In the cases of Gore and Kerry, those were Rovian "attack their strength" approaches (probably the nearest equivalent this time was the Clinton Foundation, which should've been a real boon for her). But this is the first time in decades (though certainly not the first in the last century) that a political party has colluded with a hostile foreign government or one of our intelligence agencies (so far as we know) put its thumb on the scale of our election. And Oliver Chinyere, a former Clinton staffer, said they tried to warn us:

The KKK/Alt-Right/Men’s Rights Activists now see their hero as leader of the Free World. Racism and xenophobia won too, but so did stupidity. Now that Donald Trump is breaking from decades of bipartisan diplomatic foreign policy and US underwater drones are being stolen by the Chinese as we watch, remember there were people telling you this would happen. But back then, everyone seemed more concerned about potentially finding another killer risotto recipe in John Podesta’s emails so…
One thing we haven't considered enough is that, as inconceivable as it is to some of us, Donald Trump actually appealed to some people (scary, I know), or at the very least, could be looked at as a viable President who wouldn't be a major threat to the American way of life. Slate's Michelle Goldberg has a number of quotes obtained from a focus group Planned Parenthood held with Trump supporters.

This leads to an obvious question: If these women think defunding Planned Parenthood is a deal-breaker, why did they vote for a candidate who promised to do exactly that? After all, in a September letter addressed to “Pro-Life Leaders,” Trump pledged to strip Planned Parenthood’s federal funding unless it stops performing abortions. But many of the people in the focus groups didn’t know he’d made this assurance, and those who did didn’t take it seriously.
Goldberg concludes:
If Democrats ever want to regain power, they don’t need to wedge Trump away from the Republican Party. They need to yoke him to it. These voters might be OK with Trump talking about grabbing women by the pussies. What they didn’t know is that they were voting for the federal government to do it.
Yes and no. One of the problems here is that many people just can't believe that certain things can happen -- overturning of Roe v. Wade, elimination/privatization of Medicare and Social Security. Many came of age in the '80s and '90s when those really were third rail issues. Unfortunately, I think those people are wrong. And they voted accordingly -- many even liked him -- his status as a TV celebrity helped.

And finally, I'm not going into detail on this now, but it seem like SurveyMonkey's blog about the election results might be a great resource to tap into for the next few weeks. A taste:

A full accounting for a range of mis-estimates remains months away with the still-to-come release of 2016 voter files and government surveys, but our own, preliminary look at the performance of SurveyMonkey Election Tracking provides an initial take on some of the possible sources of error. Here, we share our initial conclusions about what we did well, what not so well, and why what we’re learning makes us optimistic about the future.
The mission of the SurveyMonkey’s Election Tracking project is provide a platform to collect raw data that can be used by clients in the media and beyond to apply their own weighting, analysis, and interpretation. We also wanted to test whether our approach — recruiting respondents from among the three million people a day who complete a survey on SurveyMonkey — could provide a solution to the challenge of single-digit response rates that relies on traditional polling theory instead of less-tested modeling techniques. 
We went a long way toward accomplishing the goals for 2016 by tracking election preferences at the national level all year and for 97 separate state level contests (including the presidential, senatorial, and gubernatorial races) from Labor Day through Election Day. We offered multiple media partners interactive cross-tabs and the ability to select from multiple weighting schemes and filter the data by registered or likely voters. 
Yes, like almost every other poll out there, our final numbers pointed to a likely Clinton victory, but our data revealed important state-level dynamics.

Mmmm... nerdy.

What does the working class look like?

Google defines the working class as the social group consisting of people who are employed for wages, especially in manual or industrial work. But that basically points to blue collar workers. During this past election cycle, the media referred to the working class as the working poor. So let's use the latter as our identifier.

Each year the Current Population Survey (CPS) puts together a poverty report. The most recent report can be found here. The poverty threshold is around $12K for a single worker or $24K for a 4-person household. The CPS reports that 13.5% of Americans live under the poverty threshold. That's approximately 43.1 million people.

Reading post-mortems from places like The Atlantic, CNN, The Hill, The New Yorker, etc. the conventional wisdom is that Hillary abandoned white working class voters (which had been in the Obama coalition) and therefore lost the election to Trump. And sure enough the 2012 exit poll shows Obama winning voters who earned under $30,000 63%-35% whereas the 2016 exit poll shows that Clinton won that group 53%-41%.  Given that her margins among minorities were not too different from Obama's margins, we can chalk up the bulk of that difference to white voters.  Just how many voters is that?

Of the 43.1 million people living under the poverty line, white people account for 28.6 million or 66%.  On the other hand, whites account for 79% of the people living over the poverty line. The CPS data does not breakdown age-race demographic combinations but we do also know that of the 43.1 million poor, 66% are above the age of 18.  If those people voted at the same rate as wealthier Americans (our first assumption), then we would be looking at about 15.7 million people under the poverty line that voted.  Since the CPS does not offer data for race-age subdivisions, we have to make a second assumption that the distribution of the poor over the age of 18 is the same as the distribution of the poor in general, such that 66% are white.  Multiplying that 15.7 million by 0.66 we find a total of 10.4 million voters here that make up the "White Working Class" - in effect, 7.6% of all voters.

Hillary turning Obama's 28-point margin of victory into a 12-point margin of victory, therefore means she lost 1.2% net votes to Trump. Compare that to the 2-3% that she lost because of Comey's interference and another 2-3% that she lost because of Putin's interference. And don't forget that a good sized chunk of that 1.2% may have flipped because of Comey or Putin.  To ascertain that Clinton's loss, therefore, was due to neglect of poor white voters is therefore an absolute falsehood.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Earworm of the Afternoon -- Levon


He was born a pauper
To a pawn on a Christmas day
When the New York Times
Said God is dead and the war's begun
Alvin Tostig has a son today

And he shall be Levon
And he shall be a good man
And he shall be Levon
In tradition with the family plan
And he shall be Levon
And he shall be a good man
He shall be Levon




Undereducated Whites are not a new cog in the Republican coalition

Nate Cohn's December 23rd column points to the cause of Clinton's loss as her inability to hold Obama's coalition together. His two pieces of evidence are:
1. Undereducated whites in Northern states voted for Trump in greater numbers than they did Romney.
2. Black voters in key Southern states did not vote at the same level as in 2008 or 2012.

The first point is wrong and the second completely misses the reason why.

Undereducated whites have been making a steady march to the GOP side since 1996. If I had to hazard a guess, I would point to the disintegration of union jobs due to globalization. Whereas union members are heavily Democratic voters, former union members, particularly in the Rust Belt, are now reliable Republican voters. There was one exception to this trend -- the 2008 anti-Bush backlash. Otherwise, as this graph from Pew Research shows, 2016 was worse for Democrats than 2012 which was worse than 2008 and 2004. And 2004 was worse than 2000 which was worse than 1996:


This trend, therefore should have been predictable. And, as Cohn points out, it very much was to the Clinton campaign. They built a 10 point drop into their forecast models. However, they still saw victory in sight in states like MI, PA, and WI.

So if that wasn't the major shortcoming, what was? Cohn's second point is closer to a likely outcome but he misses the reason why. He states that black turnout was down from historic highs in 2008 and 2012. But a small drop was to be expected considering the last candidate was President Obama. Cohn points out that there was roughly a 15% reduction in turnout.

What would cause that differential? It's not that Hillary ignored black voters. In fact she probably addressed the issues for them better than Obama had done (for cultural and societal reasons). In the end, it comes down to voter suppression. This year we saw ourselves facing a Voting Rights Act gutted by state legislators, governors, and the Supreme Court. That amounted to hundreds of thousands of voters illegitimately being dropped from voter rolls.

In the end, the combination of voter suppression, Comey, and Putin was enough to turn the tide in an election that a Democrat normally would have rolled to an easy victory.

A Christmas Present from Atrios

Some long form! That's kind of rare. Atrios explains it all:

Give people nice things, and make it easy. Provide things that it is generally understood that government should provide. Education, health care, roads, sidewalks, supertrains. Generous unemployment benefits, easier bankruptcy, affordable childcare that doesn't have some absurd eligibility formula, consumer protection laws. Everything should be universal benefits paid for by taxing rich people more than we do. Donald Trump's kids shouldn't have free college and neither should yours. But you should both pay taxes and get things in return for them.
Who knows if this stuff wins elections. Voters is weird. But it's the necessary and right thing to do regardless. Shit is fucked up and bullshit, more than it was 10 years ago and more than it was 20 years ago. It isn't enough to slow down that trend anymore, it's time to reverse it. We're about to see the consequences of not reversing it...

Read the whole thing.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Professional Left Podcast: Episode 368 -- The Mob is Rome - Rome is The Mob

Driftglass:

"There are no reasonable Republicans left. There are no rational Republicans left. There are no thoughtful, conscientious, prudent Republicans out there. They're gone. And it's kind of healthy in a way, 'cause we've cleared the Republican Party out of anyone for whom I need to feel any compassion for, or feeling towards."

Listen here.

Earworm of the Afternoon -- War on Drugs

 I mentioned in a post recently that I could count the number of conservative Senate Democrats that concern me on three fingers (and really, I can only think of two of them off the top of my head right  now). One of those is Joe Manchin, from West Virginia, who has been playing footsie with Trump since the election.

Now, it's understandable that in an Appalachian state like West Virginia, which has a massive opioid problem, the one of its Senators would call to do something about it. After all, it turns out that the makers of said pills have been deluging the state's population with them:

The trail of painkillers leads to West Virginia's southern coalfields, to places like Kermit, population 392. There, out-of-state drug companies shipped nearly 9 million highly addictive — and potentially lethal — hydrocodone pills over two years to a single pharmacy in the Mingo County town.

A normal outside observer would look at the problem and wonder why the drug companies are selling so many hydrocodone pills to Kermit. But Manchin can't do that, because, as Charlie Pierce (Merry, X-mas, Charlie!) notes, he's far from an outside observer:

What the senator fails to realize is that a great number of the people profiting from this drug trade, and a great number of people who have fallen into addiction, are white people, and we can't have a "war on drugs" in this country unless we can throw a disproportionate number of black and brown people into prison forever. Rounding up nice white executives, and nice white doctors, and nice white suburban children who chase their Oxy with 40s of Olde English on a Saturday night? My dear young man, it simply is not done. Of course, if the senator really wants to start a war on these particular drugs, he won't have to look far to find targets of opportunity.
Manchin's daughter, Heather Bresch, is the CEO of Mylan, which produces opioids. His campaign committee also has received about $180,000 in donations from the pharmaceuticals/health products industry between 2011-2016, according to Open Secrets, a nonpartisan, nonprofit group that keeps track of money in politics.
Christmas Eve around the Manchin hearth ought to be a blast.
So what does Manchin point to instead?

"We need to declare a war on drugs," Manchin told CNN's Jake Tapper on "The Lead" when asked what President-elect Donald Trump should do to combat the situation.
"We've got some places that are really having some success rates, Jake, and most of them are run by reformed addicts," Manchin said.
As an example, the senator said children who began using recreational marijuana eventually could progress to their parents' prescriptions and then later routinely take heroin. "It's just been unbelievable," Manchin said, adding that opioid pills are prescribed "like M&M's."
As a U.S. Attorney in Alabama in the 1980s, Sessions said he thought the KKK "were OK until I found out they smoked pot.” In April, he said, “Good people don't smoke marijuana,” and that it was a "very real danger" that is “not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized.” Sessions, who turns 70 on Christmas Eve, has called marijuana reform a "tragic mistake" and criticized FBI Director James Comey and Attorneys General Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch for not vigorously enforcing a the federal prohibition that President Obama has called “untenable over the long term.” In a floor speech earlier this year, Senator Sessions said: "You can’t have the President of the United States of America talking about marijuana like it is no different than taking a drink… It is different….It is already causing a disturbance in the states that have made it legal.”
 Ready to go back to the '80s? What a great time that was.


Won't it be dull when we rid ourselves
Of all these demons haunting us
To keep us company

Won't it be odd to be happy like we
Always thought we're supposed to feel
But never seem to be

Hard to admit I fought the war on drugs
My hands were tied and the phone was bugged
Another died and the world just shrugged it off

Just a Reminder About One Thing We Can Celebrate


When Only One Side Plays By The Rules

Well, isn't this fun?

North Carolina can no longer be considered a democracy, according to a new report from the Electoral Integrity Project (EIP), which rated the state's overall electoral integrity at the same levels of those in authoritarian states and "pseudo-democracies" such as Cuba, Indonesia and Sierra Leone.
The state scored 58 out of 100, with ratings so poor on the measures of legal framework and voter registration that it tracked closely with those in Iran and Venezuela. The state got a score of 7 out of 100 for the integrity of voting district boundaries.
According to the report, North Carolina was the worst state for unfair districting in the United States and the worst ever analyzed by the EIP in the world. These ratings mean that the state can no longer be considered a democracy.
It's pretty incredible, but that's where we are. A U.S. state is no longer considered a democracy (I bet there are more).

Ryan Cooper at the Hill believes that the Shit, I mean Tar Heel State is a testing ground for the rest of the country (bolding is mine -- it's something worth knowing if you don't already):

This sort of tyranny seems to be the Republican aim — and it's important to realize that despite the traditional bleating American chauvinism about liberty, such a quasi-tyrannical system is not remotely at odds with our history. On the contrary, a South Africa-style partial tyranny is how North Carolina has been governed for most of its history. (It's probably more accurate to call the apartheid system Jim Crow-style, since the American version was first.) Wilmington, North Carolina, rang in the worst phase of Jim Crow, when white supremacists executed a violent coup d'etat in 1898 against the duly elected local government — the product of a "fusionist" black-white populist alliance — killing dozens of people and torching many black homes and businesses. The first target and the spark for the coup was a black newspaper — freedom of the press often being the first thing to go when democracy is abrogated. After that, North Carolina (and most of the rest of the South) was a brutally repressive tyranny until 1965, when the Voting Rights Act and Civil Rights Act were passed. Tyranny is not the exception in North Carolina. For much of America's history, it was the rule.
It's not hard to predict how Republicans will attempt to cement their control of political power during the Trump years. Indeed, the tyranny is already some distance towards completion. Part of the plan will be what they have already been doing since they won the 2010 midterms and especially since the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013. They'll continue gerrymandering district boundaries to make it as hard as possible for Democrats to win (indeed, the way those selfsame state legislative districts are drawn in North Carolina is already an unconstitutional abrogation of civil rights, according to a federal court). They'll enact further targeted vote suppression measures to disenfranchise as many minorities and white liberals as possible, this time at the federal level if they can manage it. And for Democrats who manage to jump through all the hoops, they'll make it as onerous as possible for them to vote by restricting polling locations and hours in Democratic-leaning locations.
Finally, as we're seeing in North Carolina, any inconveniently lost elections can be overturned so long as the GOP controls enough other chunks of government. Legislatures can core out a governor's power, or Supreme Court decisions can overturn legislation with reverse-engineered legal argle-bargle. Who knows where it will stop. And from there it's really quite a short distance to stuffing ballot boxes or rigging the election counts. It has all happened before.

These are people who will do anything to win. And when they don't win, they change the rules. And when they can't change the rules, they break them.

This is seriously asymmetric warfare. There should be a referee who stops this, but there isn't. If the Democrats keep letting Republicans get away with this stuff, it's just going to get harder and harder to make up ground. Nearly all of the real solutions are against the rules, but if the Republicans don't care about them, why should we?

I know that sounds a lot like Trump's justification for torturing ISIS members. I don't feel terribly comfortable saying it, but I really am hitting my limits as far as coming up with democratic solutions in a democratic system that's being deliberately dismantled. When will enough be enough?

Late Night Track -- The Last Mall


Roll your cart back up the aisle
Kiss the checkout girls goodbye
Ride the ramp to the freeway
Beneath the blood orange sky

It's last call
To do your shopping
At the Last Mall





Friday, December 23, 2016

The Bob and Chez Show, 12/23/2016 -- Click Farm

The boys have their final freakout for 2016 before the real fun begins...

You can listen here.

One quibble with Bob's take on "Celebrity Apprentice" voters who really don't care about anything, but just said, "what the hell?" and pulled the lever for Trump. As I posted here, even adjusted for population growth, Hillary received almost as many votes as Obama did in 2012; Trump just vastly outperformed McCain and Romney. So people didn't just walk in and pull the lever willy-nilly. A couple million people who otherwise wouldn't have turned out made a special point to turn out for Trump. I'm not sure which is scarier...

Earworm of the afternoon - Livin' on the Edge

I

Final Presidential Popular Vote Totals, 2000-2016

Updated, now that it's official, with total votes cast.

Clinton '16Trump '16Others '16Total '16
65,844,69462,979,6167,804,203136,628,513

Obama '12Romney '12Others '12Total '12
65,915,79560,933,5042,236,110129,085,409

Obama '08McCain '08Others '08Total '08
69,297,99759,597,5201,866,981130,762,498

Kerry '04Bush '04Others '04Total '04
59,028,44462,040,6101,225,792122,294,846

Gore '00Bush '00Others '00Total '00
50,999,89750,456,0023,949,201105,405,100

More to say over the next few days. Data is coming in.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Flipping the Switch

Last night I was concerned about the sheer authoritarianism of Trump and his followers, but we also need to remember that there are extreme policy reasons for our leadership to do something about him before his Putin-pounded butt gets into the White House.

Medicare and Medicaid getting into Paul Ryan's grubby hands:

Under Ryan’s plan, once you reach retirement, instead of being automatically enrolled in Medicare, you will be given the option to buy insurance from a number of private plans. At first glance, this might not seem like a bad idea since the option to enroll in the traditional system will remain in place. However, it is very possible — and we would argue very likely — that this measure is only the first step towards a full privatization of the program.
Assuming the GOP can pass this bill, then  Ryan’s goal of privatizing Medicare will be that much closer to reality. If they are successful then it’s possible Social Security could be next.

Paul Krugman reminds us:


Then, there's a nightmare bill regarding civil rights going through Congress that I wasn't aware of:

FADA would prohibit the federal government from taking "discriminatory action" against any business or person that discriminates against LGBTQ people. The act distinctly aims to protect the right of all entities to refuse service to LGBTQ people based on two sets of beliefs: "(1) marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or (2) sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage."
Ironically, the language of the bill positions the right to discriminate against one class of Americans as a "first amendment" right, and bans the government from taking any form of action to curb such discrimination—including withholding federal funds from institutions that discriminate. FADA allows individuals and businesses to sue the federal government for interfering in their right to discriminate against LGBTQ people and would mandate the Attorney General defend the businesses.
A few months ago, we thought we were done with the gay marriage arguments.

Once again, Republicans are terrible people. And now they're going to be extremely hard to stop. I have to keep reminding myself that despite my tendency to describe the approach of the Apocalyse, I really want to highlight potential ways to mitigate as much of the harm that we can. Rude Pundit has an idea that doesn't seem so wacky:

So while we're still tilting at the burning windmills of Russian interference and possible Obama spine-stiffening on things like Merrick Garland, let's not overlook one real Hail Mary pass on confronting Donald Trump and halting his history-demolishing agenda. What about trying to turn three Republican senators into Democrats (or, at least, turn independent and then caucusing with the Democrats)? It's crazy, sure, and unlikely, in that it relies on the possibility of there existing rational Republicans, but surely there are ones who have a gut-level fear of what Trump might do.
My guess is that it can't work. Of the Senators mentioned, I think Murkowski is the only realistic flip, because she might only be in the party because of her family history. Too many give McCain, Collins, and Graham credit, and I think they sold their souls long ago and are basically with Ryan on most policy issues. However, it really is worth a shot because it could be a world-saver. I would be SO much less nervous if the Democrats had one house of Congress.

I think the Democrats would do well to hire bloggers as strategists. Not kidding.

Late Night Track -- Wanna Be Starting Something




Sorry, just had to...

Wan-Nazi Be Starting Something

OK, you come up with a better post name about Nazis and provoking fights...

I was debating whether to publicly share what I'll be sharing in a few paragraphs because it really hit me hard personally, and frankly I'm still debating whether I actually will be able to write it.

But before I give it a shot, some context.

Talking Points Memo today highlights two instances of members of the incoming Trump regime rubbing elbows with politicians who could be described as at least "Neo-Nazi-adjacent."

The first involves Mike Flynn (who else?):

We learned overnight that Trump's designated National Security Advisor Michael Flynn met secretly in Trump Tower with the chief of the Austrian Freedom Party. The Austrian Freedom Party is not just any foreign political party or even any right-wing populist party. The Freedom Party was founded in 1956 by former Nazis, though that lineage can be slightly misleading. It is not and was never simply a refounding of the Austrian Nazi party. Still, it is a far right nationalist party, made up in its early years disproportionately of former Nazis which for many of these early years was shunned in national politics but also provided a home for people who were shunned by or unwilling to join the country's big two political parties. In more recent years it has had surges of popular support as a far-right anti-immigrant party.
I actually disagree a bit with Josh Marshall here about the lineage being slightly misleading. It really isn't. Any Jewish person following trends of anti-Semitism in central Europe in the last couple of decades will remember that the Austrian Freedom Party was the party of Jorg Haider:

Haider was frequently criticized for statements in praise of Nazi policies, or considered antisemitic.[43] International reports on Haider often referred to his remark that the Nazi government had produced a "proper employment policy" as compared to the SPĂ– government. He was forced to resign as governor of the Carinthia province in 1991 because of the incident. Haider years later apologized.[15] On one occasion during a parliamentary debate, Haider described World War II concentration camps as "punishment camps."[15]
On several occasions Haider made remarks about Austrian World War II veterans that were represented as broad endorsement of the war and of the Nazi SS. Speaking to a gathering of veterans from several countries in 1990, he said that the veterans were "decent people of good character" and "remain true to their convictions." Haider stated that he did not specifically address Waffen-SS veterans with his remarks.[15] On another occasion, he said, "the Waffen-SS was part of the Wehrmacht (German military) and because of that it deserves every honor and recognition."[44] In 2000, at a gathering of Wehrmacht veterans in Ulrichsberg, including Waffen-SS veterans, he said, "Those who come to Ulrichsberg are not the old Nazis. They are not neo-Nazis, they are not criminals."[45]
Haider also compared the deportation of Jews by the Nazis to the expulsion of Sudeten Germans from Czechoslovakia after World War II.[46] Haider's detractors also pointed to a punning reference to the leader of the Jewish community of Vienna, Ariel Muzicant; Haider indicated that he did not understand how someone named Ariel (also the name of a popular laundry detergent) could have gathered so much filth, implying the real estate agent's business methods were crooked.[47] Haider's critics characterized the remark as antisemitic.[47] Haider also maintained that Muzicant faked antisemitic hate letters to himself. He later withdrew this and other accusations, and apologized for his "derogatory remarks."[48]
Haider was closely watched by Mossad, the Israeli secret service; FPĂ– secretary general Peter Sichrovsky - a Jewish-Austrian politician and formerly one of Haider's closest aides - had gathered inside information on Haider's controversial contacts with prominent "Arab dictators".[49] Due to Haider's perceived contacts to Holocaust deniers, the Israeli Foreign Ministry on 29 September 2008 declared it was heavily concerned about the 2008 Austrian elections;[50] a spokesman of the ministry said that Israeli officials were "very worried about the rise to power of people who promote hatred, Holocaust denial, and befriend Neo-Nazis. We see it as a disturbing development and are following the matter very closely".[51]

 And these were his parents:

Haider's parents had been early members of the Austrian Nazi Party (DNSAP, the Austrian affiliate of the NSDAP, the German Nazi Party). They were from different backgrounds. Haider's father, Robert Haider, was a shoemaker. His mother, Dorothea Rupp, was the daughter of a well-to-do physician and head of the gynaecology ward at the general hospital of Linz.[4]
Robert Haider joined the DNSAP in 1929 as a fifteen-year-old boy, four years before Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany. He remained a member even after the Nazi Party was banned in Austria and after Engelbert Dollfuss had dissolved the Austrian parliament and established the Ständestaat, a fascist dictatorship. In 1933, Haider senior moved to Bavaria but returned to Austria the following year after the failed Nazi attempt to overthrow the Austrian government. He was arrested and chose to move back to Germany where he joined the Austrian Legion, a division of the Sturmabteilung.[5]
Haider senior completed a two-year military service in Germany and returned to Austria in 1938 after it was annexed by Nazi Germany (the Anschluss). From 1940, he fought as a junior officer on the Western and Eastern Fronts in Europe during the Second World War. Having been wounded several times, he was discharged from the Wehrmacht with the rank of lieutenant. In 1945, he married Dorothea Rupp, at that time a leader in the Bund Deutscher Mädel (BDM).

So, yeah, Mike Flynn welcomed a Neo-Nazi to Trump Tower (think about how surreal those last six words are!).

The second story might even be crazier:

A representative of President-elect Donald Trump's transition team was among a group of conservative lawmakers and officials from the U.S. and Europe who boycotted a meeting with Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely this week over her decision to exclude a far-right Swedish pol from the briefing, the Times of Israel reported Wednesday. A spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry told the Times that the delegation had canceled its briefing with Hotovely (pictured above) because she would not allow the attendance Swedish pol Kristina Winberg, whom the spokesperson described as "a member of a party with neo-Nazi tendencies."
A representative for the group also told the Times that the delegation was boycotting the meeting in protest of Winberg's exclusion.
Becky Norton Dunlop, deputy to the senior adviser on Trump’s transition team for policy and personnel, was among the delegation scheduled to participate in the briefing. She is in Israel for the three-day Jerusalem Leaders Summit, a gathering of conservative politicians and advocates. The meeting with Hotovely in the Knesset was canceled just hours before it was scheduled to begin Wednesday, the Times of Israel said.
Apparently, the Trump transition team chose to side with a Neo-Nazi over conservative Israelis? Not that Israel is my beat, but if you ever hear a Trump supporter talk about how Trump is "good for Israel." send them the link to that story.

Moving from Neo-Nazis to another one of Trump's Nuremberg rallies, where he's busy helping his adoring supporters transition into Brownshirts:

“You people were vicious, violent, screaming, ‘Where’s the wall? We want the wall!’ Screaming, ‘Prison! Prison! Lock her up!’ I mean, you are going crazy,” Trump said during a stop in Orlando, Florida on Friday.
“You were nasty and mean and vicious and you wanted to win, right? But now, now it’s much different. Now, you’re laid back, you’re cool, you’re mellow, right? You’re basking in the glory of victory,” Trump added.

I really don't want to share the video because I don't want his face permanently on my blog, but click through if you'd like and hear the venom in his voice as he praises these awful, awful people for being "nasty and mean and vicious." Yeah, that's gonna end well.

So, with that as background, we move to the results of the Presidential election, where the final count has Clinton winning by quite a bit:

The Democrat outpaced President-elect Donald Trump by almost 2.9 million votes, with 65,844,954 (48.2%) to his 62,979,879 (46.1%), according to revised and certified final election results from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

That's not so much the news as how Trump stormtroopers are reacting to it. Chez Pazienza points out:
The latest Team Trump talking point is that Trump actually won the popular vote. All you have to do is remove New York and California and -- presto! -- Trump wins by three million votes. Yes, the conservative Daily Mail seems to have started this ridiculous meme and it's of course caught on like wildfire among the Trump faithful. Just pretend two entire states and the 60 million who live there don't exist and suddenly Little Donny can sleep at night without throwing a fucking tantrum because he didn't get what he wanted. By this logic, of course, we could just remove, say, Florida and Michigan, and Clinton is officially president because she'd beat Trump in the electoral college.
Or, in the same spirit in which the knock at New York and California is surely being offered, maybe we just eliminate all those flyover states and their extras-on-Hee-Haw populations and make it a rout for Clinton? See how that works? 
The fact that a lot of Trump's supporters are comfortable going to these kinds of supremely stupid lengths to prop up the unprecedentedly flimsy presidency of Jabba the Putz speaks volumes about the overall era that's now upon us. It's not just post-fact; it's the outright twisting of reality in an effort to make it fit a preconceived design, one from which its adherents absolutely refuse to deviate.

Jumping back to Nazis (I'm worried I'll be typing that often in the next few years), I didn't much like Philip Roth's The Plot Against America because I thought of it as alarmist and trying to tell us "it can happen here" when I've always insisted it couldn't. But read this and substitute "Trump" for "Charles Lindbergh," "Shmuley Boteach" for "Lionel Bengelsdorf," "Carl Icahn" for "Henry Ford," and "a treaty with fascist Russia and Vladimir Putin" for "a treaty with Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler," and squint a little.  You'll start to see it.

The novel is told from the point of view of Philip Roth as a child. It begins with aviation hero Charles Lindbergh, already criticized for his praise of Hitler's government, joining the America First party. As the party's spokesman, he speaks against American intervention in World War II, and openly criticizes the 'Jewish race' for trying to force American involvement. After making a surprise appearance on the last night of the 1940 Republican National Convention, he is nominated as the Republican Party's candidate for President. Although criticized from the left, and hated by most Jewish-Americans, Lindbergh musters a strong tide of popular support from the South and Midwest, and is endorsed by conservative rabbi Lionel Bengelsdorf. Lindbergh wins the election over incumbent president Franklin D. Roosevelt in a landslide under the slogan 'Vote for Lindbergh, or vote for war.' He nominates Burton K. Wheeler as his vice president, and Henry Ford as Secretary of the Interior. With Lindbergh as president, the Roth family begin increasingly to feel like outsiders in American society.
Lindbergh's first act is to sign a treaty with Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler promising that the United States will not interfere with German expansion in Europe (known as the 'Iceland Understanding' after the place it is signed), and with Imperial Japan, promising non-interference with Japanese expansion in Asia (known as the 'Hawaii Understanding').

Trump and his people mingling with those who swing towards the swastika and praising violence to cheering crowds who deny facts....Here's where it gets personal for me.

Last night, I visited a local watering hole in Brooklyn that I tend to frequent. I was busy studying for an exam, so I pretty much had my head in a book for much of the night. However, I couldn't keep it there because there were not one, but two incidents of Trump supporters in this bar (where there were maybe 15 people) trying to provoke others.

First, a very inebriated 40-something white male stumbled into the bar and began shouting threats and racial slurs at a Latino guy and an African-American guy while praising Trump. The Latino dude actually slapped him twice, but the guy kept yelling at the other two and wouldn't leave when the bartender asked. I ended up calling the police, who escorted him out about 15 minutes later.

Shortly afterward, three military guys in their 30s, one from Tennessee and two originally from NYC, struck up a conversation with me about my studies. Right off the bat, we were in strange territory when one of the three stated that he believed that fewer people should be allowed to go to state colleges because going to college provides an unfair leg up over those who don't, and because he didn't like paying taxes toward it. Over the course of about 20 minutes, the conversation became increasingly heated as we touched on the following topics:

  • How exciting it is that Trump will be President, particularly his Cabinet picks. They felt especially strongly about James Mattis as Defense Secretary, despite the fact that his selection blatantly disregards the rules about who is eligible for that position
  • How climate change really isn't happening because there was once an Ice Age (huh?)
  • How the media can entirely not be trusted because they only support Democrats
  • How transgender people should not be allowed in the bathrooms of their choice because, "What if I said I wanted to go into the girls' room? You're OK with that? Well, how about if I went in, took a woman out to the corner, raped her, and smashed her head in?" (where the f**k do their minds even go to envision this stuff?)
  • How they wished they could bring their guns into bars in NY so they could feel safe
The gun issue was where any sense of cordiality started to vanish. I shared that having a gun statistically does not make you safer. The Tennessean said "that's only because people aren't trained. I've been shootin' a gun since I was at my mama's teat!" (I'm not making that up). I tried to cite statistics on lower gun violence in countries where there is more gun control (you're 46 times more likely to be shot in the US than the UK!) -- that's apparently because of the "thugs" in "Chicago, Baltimore, and other cities" -- and then that U.S. states with less control tend to have a higher gun death rate per capita. The three of them began to get more agitated and began to ask me why I'm talking about the 30,000+ gun deaths per year when a million abortions (which are apparently murders) are performed annually or the GMOs that are giving hundreds of thousands of people heart attacks (*scratches head*). The Tennessean helpfully noted that if I wanted to ban guns, why wouldn't I want to ban barstools, since he could bash me over the head with one? I probably should've walked away there, but they continued to cite statistics about abortions and telling me that any statistics I gave them were totally false because the "liberal media" invented them. They finally got to me. I banged my fist on the bar and exclaimed, "Are you stupid? These are scientific studies! This is science! This is math! If you don't believe in science and math, you're stupid?"

The Tennessean then asked me if I knew what the "wood treatment" was. I said no, and he said, "It's when I slam your head into the bar." Despite the fact that he was much bigger than me, I thought to myself that I had a moral obligation to stand up to him. I did exactly that -- I got off my seat, and said "You think so?" and he somehow backed down, and then the three glared at me as they left without finishing their beers.

I was actually a bit embarrassed. I'm not the kind of guy who gets into physical fights. I apologized to the bartender for the situation, and he said, "No, don't apologize. I thank you, because someone needs to give actual facts and statistics to guys like that."

So, two in a night. That's actually four incidents started by rowdy Trump supporters that I've witnessed in New York, three involving me directly, since Trump was nominated back in the spring. I'd say "Maybe it's me," but I've lived in NYC for eight years before and have never come close to fighting anyone.

These guys are getting brazen, and it's dangerous. They proudly deny facts and counter them with Alex-Jones-inspired lies and threats.

When you start seeing swastikas on the Upper West Side and Trump agitators in Brooklyn, what do you imagine it's like in less progressive parts of the country? I'm really worried, if you couldn't tell. I can't believe "bystander training" is becoming part of my vocabulary.