Documentation. Witnesses. Facts. Truth. That's what they're afraid of.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Bob and Chez Show, 11/29/16 -- The Golden Turd

This week's show features a couple of terrific ideas from Bob on how to troll Trump in NYC after the Inauguration. I'm totally on board.

Listen here.

Privatizing Medicare will be a Global Catastrophe

Back in 2004, many of us saw President Bush's reelection as a potential global catastrophe. We saw through the lies about the WMDs in Iraq and knew we were in uncharted territory being involved in two concurrent overseas wars.  But somehow everyone is getting the feeling that this is worse.

Guess what -- it's more than a feeling.

We can select from a whole host of issues being dredged up from feudal times and point to any of them as being wrong for this country, but to prevent a real global catastrophe, we need to point to the one thing that holds us together -- compassion.

There's no coincidence that former President Bush used the word hundreds of times during his 2000 campaign.  And while we can argue the merits of No Child Left Behind and his Medicare expansions as paydays for for-profit educational executives and investors, and Big Pharma, respectively, there's no question the average American household saw some benefit, either through expanded publicly funded tutoring or through the expanded prescription drug coverage from Medicare Part D.

Enter January 2017. Things will be different from Day One. One of the first things that the Republican Congress will pass (probably through reconciliation) is a revocation of any aspect of Obamacare that involves spending. The Republican plan would take advantage of reconciliation, a budget-related mechanism to circumvent the 60-vote threshold in the Senate and prevent Democrats from being able to block legislation on their own. From Bloomberg Politics:
The Republican plan would take advantage of reconciliation, a budget-related mechanism to circumvent the 60-vote threshold in the Senate and prevent Democrats from being able to block legislation on their own. By striking early, the GOP could set itself up to invoke the same procedure again later in the year on a broader range of targets, including tax cuts.
The quick-strike bill, like one vetoed earlier this year by President Barack Obama, H.R. 3762, would likely set what amounts to an expiration date for the law’s financial underpinnings, leaving Congress to act at a later date on any replacement plan. That’s because more than six years after the law’s passage, Republicans still don’t have a consensus on how to replace Obamacare. 
Subsidies will disappear, penalty conditions will be stripped, etc. Basically, they are going to gut the program. All signs point to the same thing happening to Medicare and Medicaid shortly thereafter. The remnants left behind will be a tax-credit based voucher program which people can use to subsidize purchases on the ObamaCare TrumpCare exchanges.

But what happens when people cannot afford to pay the difference between the voucher and the cost of being insured? If insurance companies are still mandated to cover preexisting conditions but can now use price discrimination to charge more for those individuals you can imagine that a lot of people over the age of 55 will be in dire straits.

And guess who foots the bill when people cannot pay? Through bankruptcy reform (which will be one of the next agenda items), we'll have companies like Accretive Health popping up to enforce payment before health services will be granted and/or collection agencies coming after family members.  So what then? Josh Marshall points out:
Remember the other things Medicare significantly guard against. If parents have insupportable medical bills or have no way to pay for care, they go to children. In the absence of any other options, that's how it should be. But that money comes out of other things: buying homes, putting kids through college. The social insurance model of Medicare has positive effects well beyond direct beneficiaries.
As an economist, I'd like to break this down numerically through the following scenario: In a typical American household, the Federal Reserve reports average household income is around $56,500. After taxes, that falls to around $43,000.  According to the BLS's consumer expenditures survey, $4,342 is spent on healthcare.

What happens when healthcare begins to eat up more than 10% because now each household will also be responsible for a portion of the healthcare of another household (or two or three)?  The problem is that healthcare is a necessity. And when needs take the place of wants in a household budget, that household no longer can afford to purchase as many manufactured goods because in this scenario, disposable income dissipates.  First, savings, already frighteningly meager, will dry up.  Then consumption will be hit.  That means American manufacturers will be adversely affected. That also means foreign countries like China will be adversely affected.  The inevitable result will be a global recession -- but potentially one that we cannot spend our way out of.

This is the one issue that is worth dying on a hill over. Call your Senators. Especially the GOP Senators. Tell them that healthcare should be untouchable. Tell them that a reconciliation vote to dismantle Medicare would be catastrophic. And then call your best prospects to challenge those Republicans in upcoming elections. They need to hear that their constituents are against privatization so they will be willing to challenge incumbent Republicans. Call family members and tell them what's  coming. But whatever you do, don't sit on this one.

Earworm of the Afternoon -- Possum Kingdom

Narcissism and the Presidency

Over the last couple of days, I've seen an article from Medium by N. Ziehl about Trump's apparent narcissistic personality disorder. I've taken a course in dealing with people with that disorder in the workplace, and would not consider myself in how to overcome it or change it, but from what I have learned, it is a pretty spot-on diagnosis. Normally, I don't think it's great to try to diagnose someone from afar (I'm speaking to you, Dr. Frist), but we have forty years of Donald Trump in the public eye, tens of thousands of hours of footage, and we've seen so many actions taken on his part.

It's a good piece, but there's one section that stood out to me as being particularly relevant as far as how to take on Donald Trump, both as media, and as the Democratic Party:

2) He will say whatever feels most comfortable or good to him at any given time. He will lie a lot, and say totally different things to different people. Stop being surprised by this. While it’s important to pretend “good faith” and remind him of promises, as Bernie Sanders and others are doing, that’s for his supporters, so *they* can see the inconsistency as it comes. He won’t care. So if you’re trying to reconcile or analyze his words, don’t. It’s 100% not worth your time. Only pay attention to and address his actions.
So, media, please stop trying to look for little things he says that make him seem normal, and just look at the crazy actions he has or is preparing to take. And Democrats, working with him isn't worth it. Just stop him. Meet him head on, like you appear to be doing on Medicare, and figure out specific steps to keep the brunt of what he's going to do from affecting us.

Anyway, read the whole thing.

Maybe Rand Paul Was Onto Something...

How on EARTH could the AMA support Tom Price?
What good is certification by this board worth? They clearly don't give two shits about actual people...

Late Night Track -- Happy Meal 2

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Taking Action Against Tom Price

I don't think I do this sort of thing enough, but this one's both too important and at the same time potentially realistic to prevent:

Let's start calling to save Medicare, the ACA, Medicaid, abortion rights, and contraception, as well as to get Senators to reject Tom Price, period. We need all 48 Dems and three Republican Senators to hold the line firmly on this.

From Richard Mayhew:

Democrats who need a call to remind them that their base has their back:
  • Claire McCaskill (D-MO) (202 224 6154) 
  • John Tester (D-MT) (202 224 2644)
  • Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) (202 224 2043)
  • Sherrod Brown (D-OH) (202 224 2315)
  • Joe Manchin (D-WV) (202 224 3954)
  • Bob Casey (D-PA) (202 224 3954)
  • Bill Nelson (D-FL) (202 224 5274)
  • Joe Donnelly (D-IN) (202 224 4814)
  • Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) (202 224 4822)
    All of these Senators represent states that voted for Trump. Let’s get them some support and pushback.
    The pressure [JASON'S EDIT: REPUBLICAN] list is much shorter
    • Dean Heller (R-NV) (202 224 6244)
    • Jeff Flake (R-AZ) (202 224 4521)

    These Senators are up for re-election in 2018. Heller is actually vulnerable, Flake is a stretch goal.
    The next round of Republican calls are to either the old line establishment (Bob Corker, Orrin Hatch) or to Senators who represent a lot of retirees (Shelly Moore Capito, Marco Rubio, both Georgia Senators, both North Carolina Senators)
    So get calling.

    I'm actually headed to a Planned Parenthood event, but I'll update this post later with phone numbers a few additions to these lists.

    UPDATE (11/29/16 11:20 PM): Added phone numbers for above group and a couple of additional Republican Senators who I think MIGHT have a semblance of a soul and/or are also up for reelection in a blue state:
    • Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) (202 224 6665)
    • Cory Gardner (R-CO) (202 224 5941)
    • Kelly Ayotte (R-ME) (202 224 3324)
    • Lindsey Graham (R-SC-I'M REALLY REACHING) (202 224 5972)
    • Bob Corker (R-TN-DITTO) (202 224 3344)
    Just call the shit out of them...

    On NYC Local News. In 2016.

    It can't happen here... It can't happen here... It can't happen here...

    Earworm of the Afternoon -- Catch a Wave

    Monday, November 28, 2016

    She Was Overcome By Economic Anxiety

    Posting this per John Cole's request:

    If you can't watch, here's a newspaper account:

    LAKEVIEW — A woman apparently enraged by a suggestion she buy a larger grocery bag for her Michaels purchases unleashed her fury on two employees at the Lakeview store the day before Thanksgiving.
    Several people recorded the episode in videos that have since gone viral, during which the customer calls a black cashier "an animal" and suggests that the cashier and the manager, who are both African American, are discriminating against her because she voted for Donald Trump in the presidential election.
    During the 10-minute YouTube video — which had almost 150,000 views as of Monday morning — the woman berates bystanders for recording her and declares that Michaels' corporate offices are "going to have a s--- show" after she reports the alleged discrimination.
    Too bad comments are disabled on the YouTube video. They would've been, um, fun.

    I'm operating on the premise that bringing this sort of actions to light will help minimize them. We'll see. 300,000 views and counting.

    The AP on the "Alt-Right"

    Their VP for Standards (neat title) calls a spade a spade:

    We should not limit ourselves to letting such groups define themselves, and instead should report their actions, associations, history and positions to reveal their actual beliefs and philosophy, as well as how others see them.
    That wasn't so hard, was it? Let's see how many publications follow their lead.

    Earworm of the Afternoon -- Cypress Tree

    Paging Dr. DiCaprio

    It's pretty unbelievable that it's taken me more than two weeks to address climate change for the first time, but if it's not covered in the media much, then out of sight, out of mind.

    Fortunately, Jay Michaelson at the Daily Beast has decided to change the focus of his column to cover climate change. His column today contains some interesting ways to protect the planet under a Trump administration:

    That means climate activists need to talk with Trump. But who will he listen to?
    Well, quite possibly another hugely famous person, like Leonardo DiCaprio, who has just released yet another excellent climate documentary that no one will watch.
    Leo, it’s time for you to go to Washington (or Fifth Avenue, I guess). Many liberals will hate you for it, but put a safety pin on your lapel and get a meeting. Trump won’t listen to Bill McKibben, he won’t listen to the Union for Concerned Scientists, and he sure as hell won’t listen to me. But he might just listen to one of the highest-status celebrities of our time.
    The thing is, climate change is detachable from most of Trump’s program. Fine, he’s committed to expanding fossil-fuel exploration. But this issue isn’t the core of his message; it’s an outlier. It’s easy to reframe investment in renewables as job-creation, as investing in infrastructure, as promoting innovation—because all of that is true. We’ve got to try.

    I'm open to it. Read the rest here.

    I Read It So You Don't Have To, But You Get To Vomit As If You Did

    I finally got to reading the full transcript of the interview the NYT did with the (shudder) President-Elect last week, and it made my stomach churn.

    The issue I have is less about the content -- there's nothing new in there and it's mostly, unsurprisingly, word salad -- and more about the tone. I don't, at this point, expect the Times to challenge him very hard. It's just not what they do with someone like him. It's the cordiality and feeling of good humor between the Times, and their subject. They really are treating him and his incoming presidency like they're normal, and they're just not.

    The opening gives us a good idea of where this is all going:

    SULZBERGER: All right, so we’re clear. We had a very nice meeting in the Churchill Room. You’re a Churchill fan, I hear?
    TRUMP: I am, I am.
    SULZBERGER: There’s a photo of the great man behind you.
    TRUMP: There was a big thing about the bust that was removed out of the Oval Office.
    SULZBERGER: I heard you’re thinking of putting it back.
    TRUMP: I am, indeed. I am.
    SULZBERGER: Wonderful. So we’ve got a good collection here from our newsroom and editorial and our columnists. I just want to say we had a good, quiet, but useful and well-meaning conversation in there. So I appreciate that very much.
    TRUMP: I appreciate it, too.
    First off, Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., the Times' Chairman and Publisher, affirms that they had already had a what he termed a "nice" meeting. I think he's giving him a cookie for not walking out on them or threatening to arrest them. Which is not something the Times should even have to acknowledge. But new normal.

    Then, Sulzberger pats him on the back for potentially acting on a false right-wing shibboleth that was disproven years ago. If Sulzberger believes that Barack Obama sent back a bust of Winston Churchill to Britain in order to insult them (though they've certainly earned it), that says that the head of the "paper of record" in the United States cannot take the time to discern between truth and a lie made up by, well, liars.

    He also acknowledges his own hero-worship for a mythologized character, which does not bode well for the next four years, given that we're going to be governed by a man whose entire career has been built on a myth.

    TRUMP: [...] I think that’s the genius of the Electoral College. I was never a fan of the Electoral College until now.
    SULZBERGER: Until now.


    TRUMP: Until now. I guess now I like it for two reasons. What it does do is it gets you out to see states that you’ll never see otherwise. It’s very interesting. [...{
    Rather than challenge their subject on his 180 degree change about one of the (unfortunate) fundamental underpinnings of our democracy, Sulzberger makes a quick joke and lets Trump ramble from there.

    Now we move on to the inevitable question of Trump's white supremacist support. That's where they're going to get him, right?

    DEAN BAQUET, executive editor of The New York Times: As you describe it, you did do something really remarkable. You energized a lot of people in the country who really wanted change in Washington. But along with that — and this is going to create a tricky thing for you — you also energized presumably a smaller number of people who were evidenced at the alt-right convention in Washington this weekend. Who have a very …
    TRUMP: I just saw that today.
    BAQUET: So, I’d love to hear you talk about how you’re going to manage that group of people who actually may not be the larger group but who have an expectation for you and are angry about the country and its — along racial lines. My first question is, do you feel like you said things that energized them in particular, and how are you going to manage that?
    TRUMP: I don’t think so, Dean. First of all, I don’t want to energize the group. I’m not looking to energize them. I don’t want to energize the group, and I disavow the group. They, again, I don’t know if it’s reporting or whatever. I don’t know where they were four years ago, and where they were for Romney and McCain and all of the other people that ran, so I just don’t know, I had nothing to compare it to.
    But it’s not a group I want to energize, and if they are energized I want to look into it and find out why.
    Lorem ipsum dolor big league, consectetur adipiscing elit. Duis feugiat tempus ullamcorper. Quisque tempus, orci et big league, purus nunc cursus dolor, sit amet hendrerit eros diam big league. Aliquam semper nulla est, nec porta purus imperdiet ut. Proin big league eros, at accumsan dolor. Sed commodo ultrices luctus. Nullam dapibus, ante big league consectetur, lacus justo ultrices lorem, a vehicula mi diam ut sapien. Etiam a eros risus. Ut magna diam, dictum nec iaculis sodales, volutpat big league. Integer massa libero, pellentesque nec nisl id, pharetra tempus arcu. Cras placerat sit amet turpis big league.
    Pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus et netus et malesuada fames big league egestas. Duis dictum tellus nec felis dignissim maximus. Pellentesque aliquet, sem id porttitor eleifend, enim risus big league, id convallis turpis sem in ligula. Cras placerat commodo justo, a mattis dolor blandit quis. Mauris rhoncus big league, ultricies est et, auctor erat. Nulla vehicula turpis sed interdum volutpat. Donec mollis big league porttitor ultrices. Sed volutpat ultrices bibendum. big league posuere lacus nec blandit. Sed sed dolor vitae nisi porta laoreet at ac ex. Cras ac big league, sodales pulvinar purus. Maecenas tristique consectetur mi eu accumsan. Sed quis big league, facilisis neque nec, porttitor neque. Nullam ullamcorper bibendum est big league. Maecenas aliquam magna in finibus cursus. Bigly.
    BAQUET: So I’m going to do that thing that executive editors get to do which is to invite reporters to jump in and ask questions.
    I believe this is what they in the journamalism field call a "shit sandwich." At least I hope they do, because I'm otherwise not sure to call a turd between two other turds. Baquet precedes this impossibly-softly-tossed question on FREAKIN' NEO-NAZIS by complimenting Trump and playing into his own legend, he then cracks a cutesy joke and moves on without a followup after not receiving a clear answer about FREAKIN' NEO-NAZIS.

    Also, you probably didn't notice because you've already bathed your retinas in bleach, but I replaced the final 217 words of Trump's "answer" with standard lorem ipsum text infused with a "big league" every line or two. Even if you did read it, you emerged no less enlightened than if I'd just kept the original text. Oh, and for the record, he did use "big league" in said "answer."

    MAGGIE HABERMAN, political reporter: I’ll start, thank you, Dean. Mr. President, I’d like to thank you for being here. This morning, Kellyanne Conway talked about not prosecuting Hillary Clinton. We were hoping you could talk about exactly what that means — does that mean just the emails, or the emails and the foundation, and how you came to that decision.
    I'm not going to go into the Clinton/"lock her up" aspect of this; it's been done to death already. But the level of obsequiousness it takes for someone who Trump referred to by name as a "third-rate reporter" and about whom a friend of hers told me a month or so that she worried for her safety because of the things Trump said regarding her to open with a polite, "I’d like to thank you for being here" is just mind-boggling. Historians will need to coin a special term for that sort of treatment as they conduct a post-mortem on this era.

    I'd expect our next player to provide nothing of insight, and he does not disappoint. Tom Friedman, please step into the batter's box and shank the potential game-winning field goal.

    FRIEDMAN: I came here thinking you’d be awed and overwhelmed by this job, but I feel like you are getting very comfortable with it.


    We're officially through the looking glass. Aside from the fact that Tom Friedman should have deleted the word "awe" from his vocabulary bank by now, holy crud, they can't even confine the normalization process to the subtext only three weeks into this debacle. I think the frog just jumped out of the cooking pot, the shark missed its chance to chow down on the Fonz, and several other water-dwelling creatures committed hackneyed metaphorical acts that the Mustache of Understanding (TM Atrios) will one day butcher as he describes a conversation he had with a rickshaw driver in Nairobi about how more McDonald's franchises in Mosul would have prevented the rise of ISIS.

    Now that I've tripped onto an extremely slippery slope of sports, metaphors, and sports metaphors, I'll just say that Skipper Sulzberger puts Mark Thompson to close this one out, and Trump crushes his first pitch with a bat somehow constructed entirely out of 100% pure platitudinum...

    MARK THOMPSON: Thank you, and it’s a really short one, but after all the talk about libel and libel laws, are you committed to the First Amendment to the Constitution?
    TRUMP: Oh, I was hoping he wasn’t going to say that. I think you’ll be happy. I think you’ll be happy. Actually, somebody said to me on that, they said, ‘You know, it’s a great idea, softening up those laws, but you may get sued a lot more.’ I said, ‘You know, you’re right, I never thought about that.’ I said, ‘You know, I have to start thinking about that.’ So, I, I think you’ll be O.K. I think you’re going to be fine.
    SULZBERGER: Well, thank you very much for this. Really appreciate this.
    TRUMP: Thank you all, very much, it’s a great honor. I will say, The Times is, it’s a great, great American jewel. A world jewel. And I hope we can all get along. We’re looking for the same thing, and I hope we can all get along well.

    ... and then both teams line up to have a friendly handshake before they leave the field.

    Thanks for playing.

    Late Night Track -- Lake of Fire

    Sunday, November 27, 2016

    Noting for Further Exploration

    Just last week, I said on Facebook: "I'm three episodes behind on The Walking Dead, and I'm not sure if I'm going to catch up because it's hitting too close to home..."

    There may be something to that:

    Deep Root Analytics, a media consulting company founded in 2013, moves beyond traditional “spray and play” advertising operations in order to maximize their clients’ television commercial campaigns. So when Forbes writer Steven Bertoni explains Kushner and the Trump campaign’s use of the company’s services as “identifying shows popular with specific voter blocks in specific regions,” he isn’t mincing his words. These tools literally let them identify what programs potential voters were watching, targeted them via those shows, and amplified any and all successful efforts.
    Hence why The Walking Dead fans saw so many pro-Trump ads during their favorite show’s commercial breaks — especially ads pertaining to the Republican nominee’s stance on immigration. After all, it’s a series about a dystopian future in which the protagonists must fight against a constant barrage of outsiders, both dead and alive. Rick Grimes and company aren’t too fond of newcomers, be they old allies from seasons past or violent antagonists equipped with barbed wire-encrusted baseball bats.
    On Daily Kos today, Ian Reifowitz wrote about how the election came down to race, not the economy:
    Given that Trump began his campaign with racist rhetoric and never really stopped, it also makes quite a bit of sense on the surface. There’s one problem: The numbers say it doesn’t hold water.
    From the national exit polls, here are the numbers that disprove the whitelash thesis: Trump did a slim 1 percent better among whites than Mitt Romney did four years ago. Were some whites drawn to Trump’s side by racism? Absolutely. But he appears to have lost pretty much an equal amount among those whites disgusted by it.
    Furthermore, Trump improved over Romney by much more among every non-white ethno-racial group large enough to measure. He improved by 7% among blacks, 8% among Latinos, and 11% among Asian voters. Along similar lines, an exit poll conducted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) found that Trump received 13% of the Muslim vote. That doesn't sound like much, but it represents almost twice the percentage Romney won. No whitelash there.
    Overall, turnout looks like it will come in at just about the same percentage of the eligible voter population as we saw in 2012. However, as Northern Ohio University political science professor Robert Alexander explained, “You saw turnout spike in more rural counties. If you take a look at a lot of the larger cities you did see depressed turnout there. It certainly was more consequential for Hillary Clinton than it was for Trump.”
    Despite the more heavily rural voting population compared to 2012, Trump didn’t do significantly better than did Romney among whites overall. Of course, given that whites are about two-thirds of the voting population, gaining 1 percent among whites is important, but the gain of about 8 percent overall in the one-third of the voter population that is not white adds up to more votes. 
    On the same day, Andrew Prokop at Vox asserts essentially the opposite; the election did not hinge on the economy, or at least not as far as the Senate goes:

    Interestingly enough, in two of those crucial Midwestern states that flipped to Trump, Democratic Senate candidates campaigned on economically populist platforms — but they did notably worse than Hillary Clinton. Russ Feingold underperformed Clinton by 2.4 points in Wisconsin, and Ted Strickland underperformed her by 12.8 points in Ohio. Feingold amassed a populist record of challenging big money and special interests when he was in the Senate, and Strickland harshly condemned trade deals during his campaign against Rob Portman (who served as George W. Bush’s US trade representative).
    Meanwhile, the two Democratic Senate candidates in competitive races who outperformed Clinton the most both self-consciously presented a moderate image rather than running as liberal firebrands. In Missouri, Jason Kander overperformed Clinton by 15.9 points, and in Indiana, Evan Bayh did 9.6 points better than her (though they both lost).
    I'm still figuring that out myself; I'm going to save this post to review in a couple of weeks after all of the ballots have been counted and matched up against the exit polls.

    UPDATE (11/28/16, 1:18 AM): Digby has something to say on the topic, as well.

    The Reaction Continues

    Because of course...

    Apparently, this along with other distractions, is keeping Trump from selecting appointees in his administration. I'm still trying to stay appreciative of Jill Stein, but she makes it really, really difficult:

    Saturday, November 26, 2016

    First Trump Reaction to the Recount

    Is very Trumpy...

    Trump charged in a statement that the effort was nothing but a fundraising ploy by the Green Party and its nominee, Jill Stein.
    "This recount is just a way for Jill Stein, who received less than one percent of the vote overall and wasn't even on the ballot in many states, to fill her coffers with money, most of which she will never even spend on this ridiculous recount," the President-elect said in a statement, which labeled the effort as "ridiculous" in a headline.
    Trump said, "The people have spoken and the election is over, and as Hillary Clinton herself said on election night, in addition to her conceding by congratulating me, 'We must accept this result and then look to the future.'"
    The President-elect said he won Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvanian by "large numbers" and noted his margin of more than 70,000 in Pennsylvania.
    "This is a scam by the Green Party for an election that has already been conceded, and the results of this election should be respected instead of being challenged and abused, which is exactly what Jill Stein is doing," Trump said.
    How long till he starts Tweeting about this? Hopefully not long...

    Earworm of the Afternoon -- Footsteps

    Some Old S**t

    I reposted the archive of my old blog here. Man, was 2008 a much more innocent time.

    Sticking with Jill Stein

    ... yes, I said that. I do not trust her motives for requesting the recounts in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. I don't think I'd trust her motives for brushing her teeth in the morning.

    It doesn't matter why she's doing it. What matters is that it happens. Trump's people, as well as the House Republicans, have showed us they cannot walk and chew gum at the same time. So anything we can do to complicate their lives will slow down the rate at which they can roll back the 20th Century. And I'm not exaggerating here... I was going to write a post about the first casualty of the Trump administration being Obama's executive order expanding overtime (which, hopefully, Obama appeals in the next two months), but that's stuff that's expected from the Republican Party in 2016.

    No, looks like they're thinking bigger. Child labor laws. Really.

    The Acton Institute, a conservative nonprofit that is said to have received thousands of dollars in donations from Betsy DeVos and her family, posted an essay to its blog this month that called child labor “a gift our kids can handle.”
    “Let us not just teach our children to play hard and study well, shuffling them through a long line of hobbies and electives and educational activities,” said the post’s author, Joseph Sunde. “A long day’s work and a load of sweat have plenty to teach as well.”
    Lest you think Betsy is alone on this, remember Uncle Newt's comments on the topic a few years back:

    Newt Gingrich proposed a plan Friday that would allow poor children to clean their schools for money, saying such a setup would both allow students to earn income and endow them with a strong work ethic.
    Speaking at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, the former House Speaker said his system would be an improvement on current child labor laws, which he called "truly stupid."
    I guess it makes sense, given that these kids are going to have to save up to pay their parents' medical bills. (An aside here: Dems seem to think that they can beat the Republicans on Medicare in the court of public opinion. I have doubts that the Republicans care about public opinion right now. Medicare is a huge get for their donors. The cost of giving a few hundred Republican elected officials who lose their seats by ending Medicare pales in comparison to not having to pay payroll taxes on their employees for decades, let alone the benefits of removing a hefty piece of stability and security from the workforce.)

    Hot off the presses, it looks like the Clinton campaign is joining the recount efforts, if only to demonstrate the integrity of the system.

    And I'm on board with this recount effort too:

    With the 2016 presidential election results having turned out to be the most bizarre and unlikely in our nation’s history, public sentiment has been growing by the day for a full recount in every close swing state. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by more than two million votes, meaning that the Electoral College mathematical path which Donald Trump took to victory is so incredibly narrow as to be highly suspicious. Even as a crowdfunded effort is well underway to cover the costs of recounts in the close swing states of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, it turns out Florida state law does not allow a losing candidate to request a recount. Only Florida’s Secretary of State can call for a recount, and we’re calling on him to do just that.
    If Trump can go Russian, we can too. Not one step back!

    Trump's Multipronged Strategy of Hate

    I'm posting this two week old article by Rembert Browne about how white supremacy won the election for Trump not just because Rembert is one of the best writers out there, but because I really like how he phrased something I've been saying to my friends since 11/9:

    His base of voters, egged on by foul statements in rooms across the country, did not have a single target. For over a year, their hatred was a revolving door. The did not discriminate: They hated black people, they hated women, they hated immigrants, they hated Muslims, they hated Jews, they hated gay people, they hated Hispanic people — and if you could be white and any of those things, they hated you, too.
    In the numerous civil-rights movements of the 21st century, a degree of savvy about how to deal with racists, or homophobes, or Islamophobes, or sexists in isolation developed. But this expertise, from years (or in some cases, generations) of experience, was typically learned one form of oppression at a time. Progressives talk a lot about intersectionality — meaning, thinking about race and sex and class simultaneously — but Trump won the presidency by making hate intersectional. He encouraged sexists to also be racists and homophobes, while saying disgusting things about immigrants in public and Jews online. Hate, like love, is infectious, and it is contagious. And for so many, the adrenaline felt by blaming one group for one’s personal ills bled into blaming all the others.
    Something the Trump campaign (I was originally thinking Bannon but this precedes him) hit on that we overlooked is that while I'd been taking for granted that the percentage of racists in this country has dropped considerably and that it's no longer possible to win the Presidency based on hatred against one group, it is possible to win by hating on all groups! Everyone hates someone. In that sense, Trump really has been a unifier.

    Late Night Track -- Back in N.Y.C.

    Friday, November 25, 2016

    Professional Left Podcast: Episode 364 -- Why So Mad, Trump Voters?

    Driftglass and BlueGal posted early this week (Wednesday instead of Friday). They read a really touching letter they received from a daughter whose mother is a Trump supporter, and give her some good advice.

    Download it here.

    CFPB in Danger?

    Well, of course it is. One of the greatest accomplishments of the Obama Administration, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, appears set to be defanged or dissolved in a Trump administration.

    In early October, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued a ruling that gives Donald Trump the chance to eviscerate federal consumer protection on his first day in office. Unless the full D.C. Circuit or the Supreme Court overrules it, the decision empowers Trump to summarily fire Richard Cordray, head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, effectively stymying future CFPB regulation or regulatory enforcement.
    At the moment, it's really in the hands of the D.C. Circuit Court, and it's not clear to me if they're going to bother to rule on this before January:

    The CFPB has appealed to the entire D.C. Circuit to re-hear the case. Unless the full court voids the Kavanaugh panel opinion, Trump will be able to fire Cordray on day one—two and a half years before the end of his statutory term—likely guaranteeing agency paralysis. Of course, Cordray may decide to step down at the end of the Obama presidency anyway, so that issue could be chiefly theoretical. 
    The CFPB has only been around for five years, but it's been a productive five years. From U.S. PIRG:

    • The bureau has recovered and sent back nearly $12 Billion for 27 million consumers harmed by illegal practices of credit card companies, banks, debt collectors, mortgage companies and others.
    • The bureau has received nearly one million consumer complaints and published, so far, nearly 600,000 of these in a searchable public database.
    • The bureau has finalized a variety of new rules to protect consumers, such as in the mortgage marketplace. It is in the process of finalizing two critical new rules now open to public comment: (1) A proposed high cost small-dollar lending rule, if strengthened, would prevent consumers from being caught in the debt traps of payday and auto title lending. (2) A proposed rule limiting the language in mandatory arbitration clauses in common “take-it-or-leave-it” financial contracts would prohibit companies from using arbitration clauses to deny consumers the right to band together in class actions to have their day in court. (3) This month, the bureau also announced the first steps in developing a rule to protect consumers from unfair debt collection practices.
    • The bureau has special offices to protect students, seniors, servicemembers and persons at risk of unlawful discrimination.
    • It has issued numerous education and financial literacy materials, including “Know Before You Owe” guides for buying a home or taking out college loans; it also has a variety of guides and programs for caregivers, legal services offices, social services agencies and librarians. more about the CFPB here. 
    To Republicans, of course, these are all bad things. Make no mistake, Trump, Ryan, and the other Republicans stand for nothing good.

    I'm not sure if anything can be done beyond the courts overruling the Kavanaugh opinion, but if there is, you can bet Elizabeth Warren is going to have something to do with it.

    Thursday, November 24, 2016

    Earworm of the Afternoon -- Blood on the Ground

    Appropriate for Thanksgiving dinner...
    I don't want to talk to you anymore
    I'm afraid of what I might say
    I bite my tongue every time
    You come around
    'Cause blood in my mouth beats
    Blood on the ground

    Hand over my heart I swear
    I've tried everything I could
    Within all my power
    2 weeks and 1 hour
    I slaved and now
    I've got nothing to show
    Oh if only you've grown
    Taller than a brick wall
    From now on
    Gonna start holding my breath
    When you
    Come around and
    You flex that fake grin
    'Cause something inside me has
    Said more than twice
    That breathing this air
    Beats breathing you at all

    I don't want to talk to you anymore
    I'm afraid of what I might say
    I bite my tongue every time
    You come around
    'Cause blood in my mouth beats
    Blood on the ground

    Hand over my mouth
    I'm earning the right
    To my silence
    In quiet discerning
    Between ego and timing
    Good judgment is once again
    Proving to me
    That it's still worth
    Its weight in gold
    From now on I'm gonna be
    So much more weary
    When you start to speak and
    My warm blood starts to boil
    Seeing you is like pulling teeth
    And hearing your voice
    Is like chewing tin foil

    I don't want to talk to you anymore
    I'm afraid of what I might say
    I bite my tongue every time
    You come around
    'Cause blood in my mouth beats
    Blood on the ground

    I'm fast to a better judgment
    By saying less today
    I will gain more, gain more
    No cheers to you my
    My fickle friend
    You, you brought
    The art of silent war

    I don't want to talk to you anymore
    I'm afraid of what I might say
    I bite my tongue every time
    You come around
    'Cause blood in my mouth beats
    Blood on the ground

    Late Night Track -- Strawberry Fields Forever

    The Bob and Chez Show, 11/23/16 -- Young Online Activists

    Here's another podcast that Ari and I listen to religiously. Two guys bringing humor into political discussion (as much as it can be these days).

    They tend to approach politics from the center-left, and are often really skeptical about conspiracy theories coming from the further left, which is why I raised my eyebrows to hear them talking today about the need to audit the election results because of the possibility of Russian interference. What they assert makes sense; the Russians are confirmed to have purposefully meddled in the election every step of the way, so why stop right before the finale?

    I don't know if there was funny business going on, but during the course of the day I began to see mainstream media outlets such as The Hill, and the NY Daily News exploring the topic, and began to think a recount is as necessary as it was in 2000; win or lose, we have to be able to trust the integrity of our election results. From the Daily News:

    According to a Tuesday report in New York magazine, the group — which includes voting-rights attorney John Bonifaz and J. Alex Halderman, the director of the University of Michigan Center for Computer Security and Society — said they found evidence that results in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania were hacked. The group pressed Clinton to seek a recount in those states.
    Members of the group told the Clinton camp that in Wisconsin, Clinton's vote count was down 7% in counties reliant on electronic voting machines as opposed to those using optical scanners and paper ballots. A statistical analysis showed that under those circumstances, Clinton may have been denied as many as 30,000 votes. Clinton lost the state — and its 10 Electoral College votes — by 27,000 votes.
    The Green Party has initiated an effort to audit the results in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, three states where Trump did much better than expected. As of the time I'm about to hit "Publish" on this post, they're quickly approaching $2.2 million raised at a rate of around $10,000 per minute, and they need $2.5 million by next week. Seems like they'll get there by the morning. I do not know if that money guarantees an audit. Andy Greenberg at Wired explains the mechanism of such an audit.

    Performing a real, statistically valid audit of electronic voting results isn’t so hard, says MIT’s Rivest. Auditing the entire national election would require checking about half a percent of paper ballots against electronic results, he and University of Berkeley statistician Philip Stark have found. For a states with close margin, like this election’s results in Wisconsin or Michigan, the audit would need a bigger random sample, but hardly a full recount. Rivest says that statisticians could perform an audit of just 2.3 percent of the ballots in Wisconsin, 11 percent of the ballots in Michigan, or just .7 percent of the ballots in Pennsylvania and determine if the results were correct with 95% certainty. (If they were found to be incorrect, Rivest notes, the audit would be expanded.)
    Nate Silver and Nate Cohn both say we shouldn't get our hopes up, and I'm inclined to agree with them. It really seems that there were unexpected factors that made Trump outperform expectations.

    CNN is also reporting that the efforts to turn the 37 electoral voters needed to overturn the results and elect Hillary are continuing; from what I've heard, they're up to six -- more than I would've expected -- with still nearly a month to go. While that seems anti-democratic, the Electoral College itself is anti-democratic, and the Republicans have embraced pretty much every undemocratic measure under the sun -- voter supression, voter ID laws, gerrymandering... at least we know that if we win, we will try to turn all of that around, not just because it helps us, but because it's clearly the right thing to do. I can't think of any reason all Americans shouldn't vote, nor any reason that each person shouldn't have equal representation.

    But either way, there really is something wrong with the system if someone with 2,000,000+ more votes (and counting) can lose an election.

    UPDATE (11/24/16, 2:54 AM ET): They reached their goal! Good stuff. At worst, it'll delay things for Trump and the Republicans. Every day we can buy is a day they can't do the terrible things they want to do.

    Wednesday, November 23, 2016

    Pile On CNN!

    More of this, please...

    Are we really going to have to depend on Saturday Night Live for our real political insight on TV? At least until the next time Samantha Bee is on?

    Earworm of the Afternoon -- Blackest Eyes

    Tuesday, November 22, 2016

    Late Night Track -- Stranger To My Happiness

    RIP Sharon Jones


    Early on in this election season, Newt Gingrich was given an extended interview by CNN. In it he claimed that facts no longer matter. The media hoohahed about it for a day and then, as always, they moved on. As Trump committed disqualifying actions at an accelerated pace over the last few months,  we found Newt’s statement held up time and again. It didn't matter that Trump admitted to molesting women, including underaged girls. It mattered more that FBI Director Comey wanted to look at 3 emails, regardless of whether it meant Secretary Clinton had committed any wrong doing.

    For the media, it is all about ratings. And speculating about the global catastrophe that those emails nay have unleashed was much more beneficial to ratings than yet another story about Trump being a horrrible person.

    As our surrogate blogfather Driftglass has said since at least 2009, IOKIYAR (it’s ok if you are a Republican). Essentially in our world where, above all, Both Sides must reign supreme, if Trump pervs out on naked 14 year old pageantcontestants then Huma Abedin’s emails to Anthony Weiner must be just as bad.

    So what can we do about it? In the past people have called coy boycotts of biased shows. But that just means more time for Wingnuts like Mark Halperin to pretend like they are centrists.  No, what Democrats need to do is flood the cable news shows with truth. Gimme Some Truth! 

    Get up there and use the word liar. Call them liars to their lying faces.  No more playing around. Joy Reid got the best ratings anyone on MSNBC hasever gotten because she didn't let the lies go unchallenged.

    So while CNN continues to lap up Trump’s santorum and say for the 1000th time that he’s turning the corner and becoming a serious candidatepresident-elect as he pretends to walk back an impeachable stance to a merelyawful stance, you can either watch with grotesque fascination or you can pick up the phone and call your highest ranking (or most vocal) state Democrat and tell them to stop letting the bullshit stand. Enough is enough.

    Fake News

    There have been a million articles about how "fake news" articles from clickbaity websites are now a huge problem in America politics. Bob Cesca suggests a solution:

    Enter the fact summit.
    The fact summit wouldn’t be a censorship body; nor would it actively engage in fact-checking activities. Its goal would be to act as a set of informal gatekeepers, determining which institutions are worthy of citation, linking, reading and supporting, while also calling out the fakers and deceivers. The multi-partisan nature of the panel would add legitimacy to the findings and encourage consumers on the right and left to take the results more seriously. Would it convince everyone? Not a chance in hell. There will always be hotheads who cling to their bogus news and conspiracy theory stories, and those who will continue to blindly retweet unsourced garbage. But it’s an important start, an urgent attempt at forcibly shoving the pendulum in the other direction.
    I see why this is an issue, but the fake news we're seeing on social media is just a more advanced version of your crazy uncle's e-mail forwards that we've had for 20 years.

    While we certainly can deal with both, I think the bigger problem is the fake news put out by our mainstream news outlets!

    Besides, Bob's idea sounds very similar to Atrios's Blogger Ethics Panel...

    Schumer Ready to Obstruct

    Chuck Schumer is not only getting ready to try to hold Trump and the other Republicans back, he seems to be starting to get "it"...

    I particularly like this part:

    This has been a key difference between the two parties for a good 20 years now: The Republicans relentlessly pander to their base, while the Democrats keep theirs at arm’s length (think of the way Pelosi immediately slammed the door shut on impeachment talk when she became Speaker in 2007).
    That has to be different now. They shouldn’t pander to the base as abjectly as the Republicans do, because that’s what got us to Trump. But they do need to listen more and be less afraid of Republican attacks.
    The Democratic Party, as an actually existing thing, has four main parts to it: one, the elected officials; two, the money people; three, the people (a few thousand) who work in the trenches for the various progressive causes; four, the energized base (as opposed to people who just vote once every four years). The four parts don’t really talk to each other. That must change.
    Elected officials have to see that they need to take the idea of energizing the base seriously. Again, here, Schumer made a positive and, to me, surprising move when he came out so quickly for Keith Ellison as the new DNC chair. Ellison is well to Schumer’s left, but Senate sources tell me that Schumer recognized that the official party, the one’s and the two’s, have to do a better job of making the four’s feel they’re being heard.
    Not only does that indicate the Schumer is willing to listen to the left more than he has in the past, it also shows some serious thinking about what the Democratic constituency looks like. It's like, organized (sorry, Will Rogers)!

    Here's why I've been saying that even though we'd like to get money out of politics, and we don't want to give Wall Street much of a say:
    That leaves the three’s, and this too is an absolutely crucial point. These organizations on the broad left are constantly underfunded—everybody scrounging to the same few foundations, which take months to decide things and then fund something for three years and withdraw instead of the 10 years that people need to make their organizations have impact.
    Let me give you one telling example. As I wrote more than once during the campaign, Judicial Watch did a lot, in this campaign and over many years, to darken Hillary Clinton’s image in the minds of average Americans. They did this through FOIA request after FOIA request, getting their teams of lawyers to comb through every document, and turning up stuff that could be peddled as dirt and that informed the way the mainstream media wrote about Clinton—the assumptions made, the adjectives used, and so on. Judicial Watch has a $30 million annual budget.
    Now: Don’t you think liberalism could use a Judicial Watch of its own to file FOIA after FOIA after FOIA on the Trump administration? It sure could. The group would have a field day with this guy. The revelations that would come out would make for a constant media barrage hitting Trump on ethics. He’d be on the defensive all the time.
    Well—there is no such group. No one has funded it. Actually, there is one group in Washington that may be capable of doing this work, the Committee for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). It’s a good outfit. But CREW’s budget is just $2 million.
    You hear a lot about George Soros and rich Hollywood liberals, and you probably just assume that liberals spend more money on this kind of activity than conservatives. Not so. There are far more rich conservatives than liberals for the obvious reason that having pots of money tends to make people conservative—and tends to make them want to invest in the politicians who’ll protect their money. 
    We need a war chest. We need endowments. We need institutions. You just simply can't get them without money.

    There's more useful information in there. Read on.

    The Kochs Bolstered Trump's GOTV

    After hearing (and saying myself) for months about how Hillary's ground game was going to easily outperform Trump's, I still was scratching my head yesterday about how Trump not only turned out his voters, but also changed the minds of Obama voters. TPM has some info on how Trump may have been able to measure up to Clinton in that regard:

    Despite loud pronouncements from Charles Koch that his network would not support Trump, the Kochs’ massive political operation worked over many months to turn out Republican voters in key states. Above all, AFP was deeply involved in get-out-the-vote efforts, especially in the critical swing states of Florida, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina.

    Publicly available numbers suggest that AFP’s grassroots organizing made a real difference – and indirectly helped Trump, who had little campaign capacity of his own. In Wisconsin, for instance, AFP claims that it reached over 2.5 million voters in phone banking and canvassing efforts. In North Carolina, AFP claimed over 1.2 million calls and 120,000 door-to-door efforts, or nearly the entire reported margin of victory for Trump. And in Pennsylvania, AFP claims it made over 2.4 million phone calls and knocked on over 135,000 doors, more than twice Trump’s margin of victory in that state. AFP’s grassroots efforts were especially pronounced in Florida, where AFP boasts that its people knocked on a record-breaking one million doors throughout the state to help re-elect Senator Marco Rubio. Hillary Clinton lost the state by just over 100,000 votes. In all four of these states AFP helped to re-elect the incumbent Republican Senator and make important down ballot gains. Obviously, given what we know about the decline of split ticking voting, most of the same citizens AFP mobilized for state and Congressional contests also cast ballots for Donald Trump.
    That would certainly explain a lot, if true. Once all data is available, we need to figure out exactly what each campaign's ground game did, and who initiated it (the candidates, the parties, outside groups like AFP), and see what it all added up to.

    And I don't even have to say how awful this is for democracy...

    Earworm of the Afternoon -- Amsterdam

    Pedaling that Unification Bicycle

    Because there's always someone who can say things better than I can, Echidne makes the point about the Democrats not needing to drop anti-racism to increase support from the rural areas in the Midwest:

    I'm going to take a guess on economic progress in that context, on trying to revive the ghost towns of the Rust Belt, on trying to stop the ravages that outsourcing and globalization have wrought there and on trying to make the Democratic Party refocus on combating income inequality and other similar economic topics.

    But doing so doesn't mean that the party should drop human rights and civil rights concerns.  It should be able to chew gum and pedal that unification bicycle at the same time.  The political games inside the Party do not have to be zero-sum games.
    The question will remain, what's the right balance of chewing and pedaling? It's going to take some time to figure that out.

    Monday, November 21, 2016

    Late Night Track -- Everything Must Go

    I helped out at Hillary HQ today for probably the last time; I think "Operation Get Hillary's Security Deposit Back" was a success. Even if the world ends in the next four years, I'll always have that.

    It's high time for a walk on the real side
    Let's admit the bastards beat us
    I move to dissolve the corporation
    In a pool of margaritas
    So let's switch off all the lights
    And light up all the Luckies
    Crankin' up the afterglow
    'Cause we're goin' out of business
    Everything must go

    Talk about your major pain and suffering
    Now our self-esteem is shattered
    Show the world our mighty hidey-ho face
    As we go sliding down the ladder
    It was sweet up at the top
    'Til that ill wind started blowing
    Now it's cozy down below
    'Cause we're goin' out of business
    Everything must go

    We gave it our best shot
    But keep in mind we got a lot
    The sky the moon good food and the weather
    First-run movies - does anybody get lucky twice?
    Wouldn't it be nice...

    Tell me can you dig it Miss Fugazy
    Now it's gone from late to later
    Frankly I could use a little face time
    In the service elevator
    And if Dave from Acquisitions
    Wants to get in on the action
    With his Handicam in tow
    Well we're goin' out of business
    Everything must go

    Can it be the sorry sun is rising
    Guess it's time for us to book it
    Talk about the famous road not taken
    In the end we never took it
    And if somewhere on the way
    We got a few good licks in
    No one's ever gonna know
    'Cause we're goin' out of business
    Everything must go

    Earworm of the Afternoon -- Boomerang Baby

    I had no idea that Les Claypool and Sean Lennon were collaborating until last night, but it's a great album and I've already listened to this song a zillion times ("Alexa, repeat last track.). Neat stuff.

    Rope-A-Dope on Obamacare?

    More from TPM on "Repeal and Replace":

    McCaskill challenged Trump and Republicans "to be honest" and actually come up with a plan rather than just ragging on Obamacare.
    "Let's see how that would work for the millions of people who have certainty and security right now," she said.

    Democrats admit that Obamacare needs some fixing, but they are dubious Republicans can just do it themselves.

    "I think they should fix Obamacare and call it a repeal and replace," said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI).

    "That is both the best public policy and the best politics for them. If they actually repeal the thing, people are going to suffer and they will suffer electorally."

    Republicans are balancing conflicting pressures. On the one hand, they have promised their constituents for nearly seven years that they would repeal and replace this law. They have little wiggle room to escape that now. They've gone through the motions to pass legislation repealing it dozens of times, but the president's veto was a stop gap.
    I don't know if this is the best strategy, but is another one available to the Democrats? The problem here is, it depends on both shame and the fear of the response from voters. The Republicans have no shame, and enough may be in really safe seats or be backstopped by the prospect of cushy think tank or lobbyist jobs if they succeed in gutting Obamacare or do lose. The potential gain for Republican backers if they get Obamacare repealed is likely massive in comparison to having to promise a "safety net" to Republicans taking the leap on their behalf.

    In other news:

    Republicans, according to Politico, plan to roll back DAPA, an Obama administration order that gave the parents of DREAMers legal status to stay in the U.S. without fear of deportation. Republicans also want to reverse Obama's fiduciary rule, which was designed to eliminate conflicts of interests for financial advisers who were balancing corporate clients and individual investors. The other rule Republicans want to eliminate is an overtime rule that requires companies pay overtime to employees making $47,000 or less a year, Politico reported.

    Republicans are also prioritizing tax cuts, according to the Politico piece. While they will use the procedural process known as budget reconciliation to repeal and replace Obamacare as soon as January, they are also considering using another budget reconciliation process for the 2018 budget to push through tax cuts.
    Obviously, Republicans want to screw immigrants. But look at the other items they're trying to get through. Overtime? Easing rules on banks? Tax cuts on the wealthy? This should be obvious to anyone who has been paying attention at all, but for the media to keep saying the it's the DEMOCRATS who can't appeal to the working class?

    Yesterday, I published quite the stemwinder disagreeing with Ed at Gin and Tacos. Today, I agree 100% with this:

    Given that reality, the Democrats' failure was in not offering a scapegoat. Maybe it's time to dust off the Joe Hill / Mother Jones / Eugene Debs playbook. If scapegoating is the only thing that wins these people over, then the best strategy is to point them in the right direction again and remind them that Capital is the enemy of Labor. End the worship of and fixation with Job Creators and the idea that the boss is your buddy and your role in the economy is a matter of personal responsibility, fully within one's own control.

    Is that going to work? Doubtful. Racism is an easier, more effective play. Anything that requires people to think is going to lose out to anything that plays directly into their basest prejudices. I don't know how you beat the path of least resistance. The older I get, the less I believe that is possible.
    It's not that the Democrats don't have a message that can appeal to the "white working class." It's that their message is inherently not as strong as racism, and if the Democrats want their votes, they need to push their economic message at least twice as hard as the Republicans push their racist one, which slides down as smoothly as butter.

    UPDATE: Adam Johnson at FAIR has more on "identity politics" and appealing to the "white working class voter."

    Late Night Track -- Pendulous Threads

    Yup. Another one.

    Sunday, November 20, 2016

    Wait a Minute...

    I spent a lot of the early evening going through polls, statistics, numbers, etc... I suddenly had a realization -- As much as we'd like to use this data to make conclusions and recommendations, it's just way too early.

    I saw articles that were comparing eligible voters with voting-age Americans; ones that were putting vote counts from November 9th, 2016 against complete datasets from 2012 and other years without an explanation of why that might be an issue; and blanks in spreadsheets. We're still at least a couple of weeks from everything being in and certified and properly lined up against previous cycles.

    So, I've decided to not focus on the voting data in my writing until at least December. That'll save me from at least some insanity. Not sure what to do about the rest.

    First On the Chopping Block: Obamacare

    According to Mike Pence, anyway....

    "Decisions have been made by the president-elect that he wants to focus out of the gate on repealing Obamacare," Pence said on "Fox News Sunday."
    "And beginning the process of replacing Obamacare with the kind of free-market solutions that he campaigned on." 

    Earworm of the Afternoon -- In the Company of Wolves

    It may be Incubus week around here... I'm back into them for the first time in years right now.

    Trying to Avoid Jumping to Our Own Conclusions... (Oh, and F**k It, #ImStillWithHer and Rightfully So)

    Man, I ran the hell out of some numbers for this post...

    Ed at Gin and Tacos asserts that Clinton lost because of lack of enthusiasm for her and scratches his head about why people were so upset that she lost:

    Given that the Clinton campaign was defined throughout this interminable election by its inability to get potential supporters anywhere near as fired up as they had been for candidates like Obama or Bernie Sanders, the torrent of emotions that came pouring out of Clinton voters last Tuesday and Wednesday is, in a vacuum, surprising. I saw adults literally weep. Is it possible that anyone could be that broken up over missing out on four to eight years of centrist, lukewarm New Democrat "I've got it! Civil unions!" horseshit? Are there people in the world at this moment who are legitimately crushed that America will miss out on the Hillary Clinton presidency?
    Of course there aren't. OK, maybe a handful.
    Count me as one of them.

    First off, this was not the Hillary Clinton of 1996 or 2008. The 2016 version was a candidate who was leading a Democratic Party that had shifted to the left, and as the leader of that party, had done so too. I'm sure some wasn't totally genuine (she is a politician, after all), but as we finally learned a few weeks back when Obama finally said that he might have gone for single-payer healthcare if he'd thought it had been politically feasible, sometimes Democrats inside really are more liberal than they show on the outside, and Hillary may have actually been more liberal than we'd given her credit for the whole time. In any case, Hillary did run on what was probably the most progressive platform at least in my lifetime, and quite possibly in the history of the country.

    Policy is first and foremost among the things I look for in a candidate, so that made me more excited about Clinton this year than about any past candidate. I'm not going to run off the litany of personal attributes Hillary brought to the table beyond that. Samantha Bee did it much better than I ever could:

    Incredible: "Look, if you can't bring yourself to vote for Hillary Clinton, I get it. I'm not voting for Hillary Clinton either. I'm voting for Hillary Goddamn Brilliant Badass Queen Beyonce Rodham."

    The Onion also nailed it months ago with, "Female Presidential Candidate Who Was United States Senator, Secretary Of State Told To Be More Inspiring."

    So, that's why I was bawling when I wrote this post about how we as a country have royally screwed her over, and why I still am tearing up as I write this over a week later.

    Ed continues:
    The narrative has said that the sadness that overwhelmed so many people in the wake of this election had nothing at all to do with Hillary Clinton and everything to do with fear of a Trump presidency.

    You mean this narrative?

    Note that during the Republican primary season alone, the networks spent 333 minutes focusing on Donald Trump. Yet for all of 2016, they have set aside just one-tenth of that for issue reporting.

    And look at this: Combined, the three network newscasts have slotted 100 minutes so far this year for reporting on Hillary Clinton’s emails while she served as secretary of state, but just 32 minutes for all issues coverage.
    It's become really, really difficult for a Democrat to drive the media narrative. The best suggestion I've seen for how the campaign could've handled that was from commenter Nick Never Nick on a Lawyers, Guns, & Money thread yesterday:
    And then, being Democrats, they have a tendency to explain things. The actual explanation Clinton should have given, right from the get-go, is this: “All this shit gets classified retroactively, and everyone has to work with it before they know what it’s final status is going to be. And 90% of it is classified just for shits and giggles anyway. If State is going to get anything done, we’ve got to guess what level it’s going to be at, and work with all kinds of systems. Now fuck off.”
    Man, while that would have been nice and satisfying, I'm pretty sure only Republicans can get away with that approach.

    Back to Ed:
    Clinton eerily paralleled the Kerry / Edwards campaign in the end, making a persuasive case for why the Republican opponent is terrible but offering nothing to recommend themselves beyond "We're really experienced! I've been in Washington forever!"
    How does that hold up? Well, from a speech of hers in Miami on October 11 (I chose it totally at random):

    Now, you wouldn't know it if you only listened to my opponent talk about how terrible everything is. He has such a dark, divisive view of America, but that doesn't tell the story about what's really going on. It's actually pretty exciting. In red states and blue states, local leaders are stepping up. Rural electric co-ops are investing in community solar power and you see that across America – union workers in Michigan, union workers in Michigan are getting ready to build electric Chevys in a plant powered by clean energy. Iowa, Iowa is already getting a third of its electricity from wind. Wind turbines are going up in New England and on Lake Erie. Renewable energy is already the fastest-growing source of new jobs in America. I think that is so exciting – there are nearly 2 million people already working in energy efficiency.

    And in Spartanburg, South Carolina, a project called ReGenesis is taking an old landfill and turning it into a solar farm. That landfill was a blight and a health threat, just 250 feet away from a residential neighborhood. Now, that same land will generate enough clean, renewable electricity to power 500 homes.

    So this is what we can do. And I think Washington should back up and support doing more of that. As president, I want us to have 500 million solar panels installed across America by the end of my first term. And let's generate enough renewable energy to power every home in America within the decade. Let's make our buildings and factories more energy efficient and cut our oil consumption by one-third.

    And we can get there by investing in cutting edge research, to keep developing cheaper and better clean energy technologies, investing in clean energy infrastructure and advanced manufacturing, putting big partnerships together between states, cities, and rural communities.

    We can do all of this and create millions of good-paying jobs as we do. So I'm hoping that these good jobs will offer security and dignity while we produce the clean energy that will power the economy of the future. The clean energy solutions are being developed right here in America. We want them manufactured in America, installed in America, and putting people to work in America.

    And while we do that, let's make sure our communities are ready for the impacts of climate change that are coming right at us. We need to invest in resilient infrastructure. Now, sometimes that will mean building a seawall; other times, let's be more creative – like in New York Harbor, where we are replanting oyster beds to form natural barriers to storm surge. Sometimes we'll overhaul an outdated sewer system to deal with flooding from heavy downpours. In Philadelphia, they're trying something else: green roofs, porous pavements, curbside gardens to help absorb storm water.

    And here's something we don't talk enough about. Let's make sure our hospitals can stay open and operational in any kind of disaster. Because sadly, I saw what happened in New York during Hurricane Sandy, newborns who had been on respirators had to be evacuated down nine flights of stairs in one New York hospital, because the electricity went off. Nurses, I love nurses – heroic, courageous nurses were carrying those babies and manually squeezing bags of air to keep them breathing. Now, here in Miami, you know how important this is. You have retrofitted the Nicklaus Children's Hospital with a hurricane-resistant shell for exactly this reason. And every hospital in the country should follow your lead and build in more resilience.

    And then finally, we have got to lead the world to confront the climate challenge. If we don't do it, nobody will do it. We must confront the climate challenge. There's no doubt about that. And so, let's move on with the kind of leadership that the world as well as our country deserves.

    That seems like quite a bit of self-recommendation. And that's in light of the fact that succeeding Obama, she could only talk about remodeling the kitchen, not tearing down the whole house and starting over.

    Ed adds:

    ...and essentially expecting voters to motivate themselves out of sheer terror.
    If you're a salesperson at an auto dealership showing a customer a car, and you hear an announcement that Godzilla is headed in your direction, you don't say "We should test drive this one; it's got fine Italian leather seats and a power sunroof." You say, "IT'S F**KING GODZILLA! GET IN THE CAR AND GO!" And the customer doesn't react to that by saying, "I don't know... the wheel base is a bit short, and, um, y'know, the paint could be more glossy. Let me sleep on it."
    Indeed, many people (particularly people who don't happen to be white, male, or white and male) did so.
    I'm both white and male. I'd say I did so for both reasons;  they're not mutually exclusive.

    Even the Fear of a Trump Planet narrative doesn't explain the powerful emotions that the election brought out of so many people. I'm as bad at reading minds as the next person, but what I hear when friends, strangers, students, random internet commenters, and media figures talk about this election is a shattering sense of disappointment. Not in Hillary Clinton, who was little more than a cipher...
    A "cipher?" We're back to the "uninspiring" point.

    Let me just pause here briefly to say that the point of this post is not to try to convince Ed that he should be so upset that Hillary lost and not just that a monster won. Ed has been one of my favorite writers for quite a while (Ari can vouch for that; I probably send him links to half of what appears on Gin and Tacos). However, I'm trying to properly understand the reasons why the 2016 election went the way it did so I can contribute to turning things around in coming years. I believe that is plausible that enthusiasm for Hillary could have been an awful lot higher than Ed thinks (and I wonder if his commenters dissuaded him at all).
    Whether Hillary's campaign really did suffer from a lack of inspiration can't be *proven,* but it's at least worth going over some premises. If this were the case, two things we'd expect:
    • Hillary would not receive anywhere near the number of votes that perhaps the most charismatic presidential candidate since at least RFK did after he saved the country from the brink of destruction
    • People would not turn out to volunteer for Hillary in great numbers

    Looking at the first premise; despite needing to overcome the dual obstacles of running for the third term of an incumbent party and having a media only interested in discussing BS scandals, Hillary received 96% of the number of votes Obama did in 2012, and won the popular vote by more than 1.5 million votes.

    There's no final tally of the number of Clinton volunteers yet; the Obama campaign claimed it had 2.2 million of them in 2012. I did hear some massive numbers while I volunteered at Hillary's HQ as far as calls made and doors knocked go; that plus the unexpected overflow crowds of volunteers in that office in the final days of the election would lead me to believe Clinton likely at least came close to that number. We shall see.

    I'm not going to address much of the rest of Ed's post because I largely agree with it. Even those of us who supported Hillary first and foremost are disappointed in, if not horrified by: 
    the people around us. In the people who voted for That Man. It is not too extreme to say that for a lot of voters, particularly younger ones, the outcome on Tuesday seriously shook their faith in…well, mankind.
    I'd like to conclude by returning to the point of Hillary's message for a moment. As I said above, when I picked out the excerpt from Clinton's speech, I just clicked on one of her more recent speeches at random, but I had looked at a couple of others and found a lot of the same. I assumed that she probably did go more negative than, say, Obama in 2012, whose campaign was considered particularly positive and inspiring, and who had only been running against Generic Republican White Male #7 and not the Combover Caligula. I'd considered dissecting a number of her speeches, but realized that would be too labor intensive. I tried to conceive of a way to check whether Hillary really did go low, and Obama, listening to Michelle, went high.
    What I came up with isn't foolproof, but it's solid. If Clinton had focused on Benito Voldemort excessively, you'd expect that she used his name considerably more often than Obama mentioned Romney at his rallies in 2012. OF COURSE she's going to use Trump's name a bit more that Obama used Romney, no?

    I went through UC-Santa Barbara's presidential archive (which is pretty cool), and compared all of Hillary's 2016 September and October appearances with Obama's in the same months in 2012. I think the archive still is missing a few of the most recent ones, but here's what I came up with:

      # of Speeches Average Opponent Name Checks Per Speech Average Words Per Speech Average Words Per Opponent Namecheck
      Obama Clinton Obama Clinton Obama Clinton Obama Clinton
    September 22 11 4.36 2.27 3711.36 3071.91 850.52 1351.64
    October 21 9 8.86 9.44 2930.67 3649.22 330.88 386.39

    (I'm happy to share the calculations behind these if anyone's interested. I excluded a couple of exceptional appearances, like the Al Smith dinner and press conferences.)

    When accounting for length of speech, Clinton referred to her opponent significantly less than Obama did, both in September and October. Interestingly, Clinton's November appearances are still mostly absent from the archive, but in the one that does appear, she actually does use "Trump" 27 times, well more than she or Obama used their opponent's name in any other speech. By contrast, in the final days of his campaign (November), Obama name-checked Romney with about two-thirds less frequency than he did in October. Did that mean Clinton may have been less confident than the rest of us at the end, and Obama moreso? I seem to remember most of my liberal friends treating Election Night 2012 as a nailbiter. I'm not sure whether candidates tend to talk about their opponent more when they're up or down. I do have one bit of somewhat-inside information that would contradict this -- what I've heard in my three-or-four-degrees away circles is that the reason John Podesta came out early Wednesday morning and said that Hillary would not be making a concession speech that night is because the campaign was so sure of victory that they hadn't bothered to write one! That could be inaccurate, but it does make sense.

    Anyway, the numbers would indicate that, by and large, Hillary did not go unusually negative in 2016. They actually would support another assertion that a friend of mine heavily made last week -- that she didn't go negative enough.

    There are two takeaways for me as far as things the Clinton campaign may have done incorrectly with regards to Hillary's appearances. First, even once the UCSB archive is complete, she likely made roughly half of the speeches Obama did. Part of that was due to her bout of pneumonia in September.

    Second, her campaign didn't do a great job placing her. Every one of Obama's appearances were in places he expected to be close. Not so with Clinton. In fact, three of her 20-odd appearances were in Washington, DC, which is about as blue as you can get. Additionally, Clinton unexpectedly lost Wisconsin, and never appeared there once in September or October. Obama was there three times in those months, and three more times in November.

    It seems like we have to look more at the campaign than the candidate in deciding what lessons we can use moving forward.

    UPDATE: For stupid reasons, I'd been addressing Ed as "Steve" (with both SteveInATL from his comments and Steve M from Mister Nice Blog in my head at the time in this post). *FACEPALM*. My utmost apologies!

    SECOND UPDATE (11/21/16 11:39 AM ET): Today I agree with Steve, er, Ed, 100%.