Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Can The Democrats Win Key Governorships In 2018 And Halt GOP Gerrymandering?


As we've mentioned, a week after the election, the Democrats had better get serious about preventing Republican dominance of Congress through gerrymandering. That means investing in state legislative races in states where Democrats have a chance at breaking up GOP trifectas-- there are 24 of them-- where they can gerrymander to their hearts content. The Democrats broke the Republican trifecta in Nevada and now control both houses, although the check on what they can do is a Republican governor. Democrats also flipped New Mexico's and Alaska's state houses but lost control of the state Senates in Iowa and Minnesota as well as the Kentucky house.

To get a fair shake in congressional redistricting, Democrats need to win legislative seats in gerrymander-crazy states like Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Florida. And there's another way to go as well-- winning governorships. Of the 38 gubernatorial races in 2017 and 2018, 27 are held by Republicans-- many people feel have been in power too long. Key states Democrats should target are Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin to end trifectas in those important states.

There are 2 open-seat gubernatorial races in 2017, one if Virginia where Terry McAuliffe is termed out and one in New Jersey, where Chris Christie is termed out. Smart money in New Jersey is betting the Republicans have completely worn out their welcome in Trenton and that Phil Murphy will be the next governor of New Jersey. Virginia should be more competitive, where ConservaDem Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam will probably face off against Ed Gillespie. If Gillespie or another Republican wins, Virginia will have a trifecta (unless Democrats take back one of the legislative chambers. presumably the state Senate where they would need 2 seats, rather than the House of Delegates where they'd need 15.

In 2018 there are gubernatorial elections in 36 states. Here's the lay of the land:
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley (R) is term limited (and possibly headed for prison)
Alaska has an Independent governor, Bill Walker, who will probably run again
Arizona's Gov. Doug Ducy (R) is running for reelection
Arkansas' Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) is running for reelection
California's Gov. Jerry Brown (D) is termed out and there will be a contentious multi-candidate Democratic primary
Colorado's Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) is termed out and this will be a big GOP target.
Connecticut's Gov. Dan Malloy (D) is very unpopular but wants to run again
Florida's Gov. Rick Scott (R) is termed out and this will be a huge battle
Georgia's Gov. Nathan Deal (R) is termed out
Hawaii's Gov. David Ige (HI) will run for for reelection
Idaho's Gov. Butch Otter (R) is termed out
Illinois' Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) is running for reelection
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (IA) will probably not run for an 80th term
Kansas' Gov Sam Brownback (R) is termed out
Maine's Gov. Paul LePage (R) is termed out
Maryland's Gov. Larry Hogan (R) is popular and running for reelection
Massachusetts' Gov. Charlie Baker (R) is running for reelection
Michigan's Gov. Rick Snyder (R) is termed out
Minnesota's Gov. Mark Dayton (D) is retiring
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) is running for reelection
Nevada's Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) is termed out
New Hampshire's Gov. Chris Sununu (R) is running for reelection
New Mexico's Gov. Susana Martinez (R) is termed out
New York's Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) will probably run again
Ohio's Gov. John Kasich (R) is termed out
Oklahoma's Gov. Mary Fallin (R) is termed out
Oregon's Gov. Kate Brown (D) will probably run again
Pennsylvania's Gov. Tom Wolf (D) will probably run again
Rhode Island's Gina Raimondo (D) will probably run again
South Carolina's Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster will soon be named Gov. and will run for re-election
South Dakota's Dennis Daugaard (R) is termed out
Tennessee's Gov. Bill Haslam (R) is termned out
Texas' Greg Abbott (R) is running for reelection
Vermont's Gov. Phil Scott (R) will run again
Wisconsin's Gov. Scott Walker (R) may run again
Wyoming's Gov. Matt Mead (R) is termed out.

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The Big Question: Will The Democrats Stand Up To Trumpism?


The fascist cadres surrounding Trump-- from politicians like Mike Pence, Steve Bannon and Jeff Sessions to predatory billionaires like Betsy DeVos, Steve Mnuchin, Robert Mercer, the Kochs and Wilbur Ross-- are attacking the American core on so many fronts that its unimaginable that congressional Democrats-- led in the Senate by a severely compromised Chuck Schumer and in the House by a gaggle of feeble, tired, sclerotic hacks-- will even begin to know how to resist. Can they filibuster the worst of his appointees? Would that lead to the Republicans doing away with the filibuster, their last line of defense, altogether? Should they keep their power dry for the essential battles-- like saving Medicare from a depraved team of Ryan and Health and Human Services Department head Tom Price? In fact Price and Ryan have been plotting since Trump was elected to start the process of dismantling Medicare in a way that skirts the filibuster-- budget reconciliation. Or is there even worse and more fundamental harm that Trump and the team united around him can do? Ari Berman, in a post at The Nation this week that tags Trump as the greatest threat to American democracy in our lifetime makes the case that massive voter suppression is in the works. Dismantling democracy... even worse than dismantling Medicare-- and more permanent.

"Unlike his Democratic and Republican predecessors," wrote Berman, "Trump has little respect for the institutions that preserve American democracy, whether it’s freedom of the press or the right to vote. We can already glimpse how a Trump administration will undermine voting rights, based on the people he nominated to top positions, those he has advising him, and his own statements. His pick for attorney general, Jeff Sessions, wrongly prosecuted black civil-rights activists for voter fraud in Alabama in the 1980s, called the Voting Rights Act 'a piece of intrusive legislation,' and praised the Supreme Court’s gutting of the Voting Rights Act in 2013, saying that 'if you go to Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, people aren’t being denied the vote because of the color of their skin.'... Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a front-runner to head Trump’s Department of Homeland Security, has called for precisely this. During a meeting with Trump last week, Kobach brought a 'strategic plan' for DHS that advocated purging voter rolls and drafting amendments to the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, presumably to require proof of citizenship, like a passport or birth certificate, to register to vote, which prevented tens of thousands of eligible voters from being able to register in Kansas. It’s chilling that a top Trump adviser like Kobach views voting rights as a threat to homeland security."

And then there's Bannon... Trump's brain, in the same way that Karl Rove was George W. Bush's brain. Bannon has actually said-- aloud-- that only property owners should be allowed to vote and, another time, that excluding African-Americans from voting is "not such a bad thing." Does Trump understand? Can he put it into historical context in terms of where he, unexpectedly, is? Does he even care or even think about this kind of thing? Does it matter?
Trump himself said, after courts struck down voter-ID laws in states like North Carolina, that “the voter-ID situation has turned out to be a very unfair development. We may have people vote 10 times.” Ironically, one of the only documented instances of voter fraud in 2016 was committed by a Trump supporter who voted twice in Iowa-- and was caught in a state without a voter-ID law.

If you want a better idea of the lengths a Trump administration might go to suppress voting rights, take a look at what Republicans are doing in North Carolina right now. A month after the Supreme Court ruled that states with a long history of discrimination no longer had to approve their voting changes with the federal government, North Carolina Republicans passed a “monster” voter-suppression law that required strict photo ID, cut early voting, and eliminated same-day registration and pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds.

Like in so many-GOP controlled states, Republicans in North Carolina justified the voting restrictions by spreading false claims about voter fraud. (Such fraud was in fact exceedingly rare: There were only two cases of voter impersonation in North Carolina from 2002 to 2012 out of 35 million votes cast.)

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit found that North Carolina’s law targeted African Americans “with almost surgical precision.” But even after the court restored a week of early voting, GOP-controlled county election boards limited early voting hours and polling locations. The executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party called on Republicans to make “party line changes to early voting” that included opposing polling sites on college campuses and prohibiting early voting on Sundays, when black churches held “Souls to the Polls” voter-mobilization drives. The North Carolina GOP bragged before Election Day that “African American Early Voting is down 8.5% from this time in 2012. Caucasian voters early voting is up 22.5% from this time in 2012.”

Things got even crazier after the election. After Republican Pat McCrory lost the governor’s race to Democrat Roy Cooper by 9,000 votes, his campaign began filing bogus complaints about voter fraud in an attempt to overturn the election result or have the North Carolina legislature reinstall him as governor. Those challenged by the McCrory campaign include a 101-year-old World War II veteran in Greensboro wrongly accused of double voting.

That wasn’t all. After a black Democrat, Mike Morgan, won a seat on the North Carolina Supreme Court, giving Democrats a 4-3 majority, Republicans have proposed expanding the size of the court by two justices, who could be appointed by McCrory in his last weeks in office, allowing Republicans to retain control. This would be an outrageous rebuke to the will of the voters and the rule of law, but you can’t put anything past the North Carolina GOP these days.

North Carolina is a case study for how Republicans have institutionalized voter suppression at every level of government and made it the new normal within the GOP. The same thing could soon happen in Washington when Trump takes power.
Yesterday David Dayen, in a post for the Fiscal Times went in the opposite-- as in small bore-- direction when he asked if the Democrats will stand up to Trump, reminding them that their first test is coming right up... even before Trump moves to Washington. House Republicans-- along with some corrupt Wall Street-owned Dems-- are looking to "lift mandatory Dodd-Frank regulatory supervision for all banks with more than $50 billion in assets, meaning those financial giants would no longer be subject to blanket requirements regarding capital and leverage, public disclosures and the production of 'living wills' to map out how to unwind during a crisis" (Wall Street whore Blaine Luetkemeyer's H.R. 6392).
You can see with this bill’s framework how financial regulation in the Trump era will be relaxed, not by outright repeal but through deliberate atrophy. Republicans want to replace any mandatory rules for regulation with discretionary ones. That way they can claim that they’re merely improving the system by putting the decisions in the hands of the experts instead of members of Congress.

The second step in that process, of course, would be to hire regulators dedicated to not paying attention to anything the financial industry does. In this case, the chair of FSOC is the Treasury Secretary. Two of the rumored selections for that position in the Trump administration have current or former allegiances to banks that would be subject to an FSOC determination on enhanced supervision.

...President Obama would almost certainly veto this bill, even if it miraculously passed the Senate. But there’s a reason Republicans plan to roll it out this week instead of waiting for Trump to enter the Oval Office. They want to gauge just how much Democrats have been cowed by the election loss.

In fact, the phrase “regional banks” has a totemic power to turn Democrats’ resolve to jelly. Wall Street-friendly caucus members have already endorsed tailoring Dodd-Frank rules away from the regionals, even though that phrase minimizes the sheer size of banks with $250 billion in assets. Because Democrats can say that JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs are unaffected by this change, you might see them support it. Indeed, in the Financial Services Committee, eight Democrats voted for the bill.
Below are the 8 crooked Democrats who voted with the Republicans November 4, 2015. The dollar amounts next to their names are the amounts they've taken from the banksters-- the very banksters they're supposed to be overseeing. Basically, all of these people should be in prison:
Rob Delaney (New Dem-MD)- $1,947,102
David Scott (New Dem-GA)- $2,813,894
Emanuel Cleaver (MO)- $1,442,924
Gwen Moore (WI)- $1,710,912
Terri Sewell (New Dem-AL)- $1,580,970
Brad Sherman (CA)- $3,390,648
Kyrsten Sinema (New Dem-AZ)- $1,683,407
Joyce Beatty (OH)- $886,100
Back to Dayan; he asked the right question: "This is really a moment of truth for those Democrats. If Republicans put up a big bipartisan vote in the House for this, the Senate will be more inclined to try to pass it down the road. And it will serve as a test case for Democratic resolve more generally. Will they submit to donors and lobbyists and play ball with the Trump deregulatory agenda, or will they recognize the harms that would cause?"
Deregulation historically has never been a partisan game. Democrats and Republicans have typically worked together to roll back rules and open up the Wall Street casino for business. H.R. 6392 could represent a return to those times, or the moment when Democrats join together and say no, forcing Republicans to funnel victories to the banking industry on their own. If I were a Democratic member of Congress, I know what I’d rather have on my conscience.
Dayan was polite enough to describe it in bipartisan terms without mentioning that the Democrats who work with the Republicans on rolling back rules and opening up Wall Street to predators are, first and foremost, corrupt and second, conservatives from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party, the Kyrsten Sinemas, David Scotts, Terri Sewells and John Delaneys. And, like I said, these people don't belong in the House... they belong in the Big House. I doubt Trump would pardon them either.

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A moment in history: The incoming POTUS personally picks one of the top U.S. attorneys, and he's of the other party


From, 12:04pm [click to enlarge]:

From, 2:47pm [click to enlarge]:

by Ken

For a few hours earlier today, as you can see above, there was Drama in the Air regarding the scheduled powwow between the president-elect and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara. As it happens, during that very time period I happen to have been in occasional televisual contact with developing news, while I was working at getting a new TV cable box installed and getting all my TVs and cable boxes humming.

The above screen shots from the websites of NYC's tabloids chronicle this moment in history in the making. From the written record, here's what the Daily News's Victoria Bekiempis and Adam Edelmann reported after the fateful meeting, as described in the dispatch above headlined "Preet Bharara will stay on as US Attorney at Trump's request":
Preet Bharara said Wednesday that he'd agreed to stay on in his role as Manhattan U.S. Attorney at President-elect Donald Trump's request.

Following a meeting with Trump inside Trump Tower, Bharara explained that he had been summoned by the President-elect to discuss remaining in his position and had made up his mind "to stay on."

"The President-elect asked, presumably because he's a New Yorker and is aware of the great work that our office has done over the past seven years ... to discuss whether or not I'd be prepared to stay on as the United States attorney to do the work as we have done it, independently, without fear or favor for the last seven years," Bharara told reporters inside the lobby of the mogul's Midtown abode.

"We had a good meeting. I said I would absolutely consider staying on. I agreed to stay on," Bharara said, adding that he'd already notified Trump's pick for U.S. Attorney General, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), of his choice.

The News reported earlier this month that Trump would likely ask" Bharara to stay on in his role, despite the fact that incoming Presidents typically bring in their own people to replace the current crop of U.S. attorneys across the country.

"He has a very high regard for him," a campaign official told The News shortly before the election about Trump's fondness for Bharara's tenacity. "Obviously it's caught his attention what (Bharara's) done in New York. It's the same approach Mr. Trump would like to bring to Washington."

Bharara, since he was appointed by President Obama in 2009, has made public corruption a key focus, bringing down elected officials from both parties, including former state Assembly Democratic Speaker Sheldon Silver and ex-state Senate GOP Majority Leader Dean Skelos.

His decision to stay on could spell bad news for Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio, whose administrations are both the subjects of ongoing investigations by Bharara's office.
At first blush Bharara, who has developed a certain reputation as a corruption fighter, doesn't seem all that Trumpish a plan -- especially considering how atypical it is for a new administration to extend the term of a U.S. attorney from the opposite party (not to mention how atypical it is to have the president rather than the attorney general as the public face of a USA hire, and how large the Southern District of NY looms among U.S. legal jursidictions).

Of course on brief reflection it registers that Bharara -- who was so publicly involved in bringing down the leaders of both houses of the monumentally screwed-up NYS Legislature, Republican Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver -- is in a position to cause considerable embarrassment (and worse) to important NYS Democratic players, notably Gov. Andrew Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio. Which sounds not so much like the new president rampaging against either Democrats as such or corrupt pols but more likely harboring no good thoughts toward greedy pols whose greed runs counter to his own. I'm suggesting that it's not particularly wheeler-dealering that he's targeting as it is practitioners of the wrong kind, who get in the way of what he considers the righteous wheeler-dealers.

Still, even though Bharara's retention was already anticipated in inside circles, it's got my attention. It's hardly the kind of move one would have expected from former GOP presidential candidates Young Johnny McCranky and Willard Romney, not to mention the spectral presences who constituted the Rest of the 2016 GOP Presidential Field. Or, for that matter, the kind of pick that Attorney General-designate Jeff "I Do Too Wear Shoes, Leastwise Most of the Time" Sessions to have urged on the president-elect.

Most presidential administrations have preferred to maintain the appearance of their U.S. attorneys functioning as guardians of justice answerable to their boss the AG rather than to the country's top pol. In reality, of course, they're political actors as well, especially in Republican adminstrations. Think of Ed Meese's Dept. of Justice in the Reagan years, and especially the right-wing enforcing-muscle division Karl Rove turned the DoJ into in the time of George W. "Chimpy the Prez" Bush. Do the optics matter a whole lot?

I don't draw any large conclusions from any of this, other than a case of Trump-being-Trump. I just take note of it.

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Trump and Trade Policy — Why He Will Fail


by Gaius Publius

The clip above is an interview Thom Hartmann did with Forbes writer and commentor Eamonn Fingleton, whom the headline touts as "The Man Who Predicted Trump," a true statement, by the way. That prediction came in February 2016, as noted at the start of the conversation in the clip.

Here Fingleton and Hartmann discuss Trump, U.S. trade and industrial policy, why Trump won, and why he will now fail, at least with respect to changing American trade practices.

The following is taken from the transcript, with just a little editing to clean up typos. My excerpts will make just a few points, but they're worth keeping in mind as Trump rolls out his trade policies — which may or may not, by the way, correspond to his trade promises. Read on to see why.

For 200 Years, American Manufacturing Was Built by Protectionism

The first point they make after discussing the last 30 years of neoliberal trade policies, called by the right "Milton Friedman free trade," is to look at how America became a manufacturing giant in the first place. Consider that in its earliest years, the new nation was a fragile place economically, just 13 colonies along the Atlantic seaboard, vulnerable to the manufacturing and trade giants in Europe, especially Great Britain. George Washington's problem — how to jump-start American manufacturing in that environment.

From the transcript:
Eamonn Fingleton: ... [H]ow the hell is Trump going to get the economy moving again? Because he wants to get manufacturing back but you can't get blood out of a stone. All of these key industries have migrated. The more advanced of them gone to Japan or to Korea or to Germany and then the middling level ones are in, of course, China. ...

Thom Hartmann: ... [W]hat should we be doing in the United States to bring, first of all, should we bring manufacturing back home? I mean, you know, the position of the Third Way Democrats and the entire Republican Party for 35 years has been, you know, manufacturing jobs are crappy jobs. Who wants those kind of jobs? We need information industry jobs, right? So should we bring manufacturing back, and if we should, how do we do it?

Eamonn Fingleton: ... Absolutely, the manufacturing sector has to be strengthened. You have to bring back the serious manufacturing industries, meaning the capital-intensive ones, the [inaudible] intensive industries. But how do you do that? It seems to me that tariffs are the solution, but they're going to be very unpopular if he really goes at it in a serious way. He would have to apply essentially a tariff to the entire world because if he doesn't, if he applies tariffs simply to China then the manufacturing for the American market will move to Vietnam, it will move to Brazil, it will move to Mexico, Canada, wherever. So, if he wants, seriously wants to get manufacturing back he has to use tariffs right across the board.

Thom Hartmann: But we had tariffs against the entire world for 200 years. It worked, didn't it?

Eamonn Fingleton: Absolutely, it did. You're well-informed on the history of the United States. That story has been very much suppressed in the last 50 years. But yes, America was for its most successful decades very protectionist.

Thom Hartmann: Yeah, the George Washington administration at the behest of Alexander Hamilton, 1791, he presented is his 11 point plan on trade, his Report on Manufactures, most of it was adopted by 1793. The entire federal government from the George Washington administration to the Abraham Lincoln administration was funded by tariffs a hundred percent. From the Lincoln administration to World War One, two thirds of the government was funded by tariffs. World War One to World War Two, one third of the government was funded by tariffs. And now, you know, our tariffs are pretty much non-existent.

It seems to me like we should be able to just look back and say "Gee, what worked?" ...
So that's the first piece. As Hartmann said, "It seems to me like we should be able to just look back and say 'Gee, what worked?'"

Tariffs worked, and as they note as the conversation continues, tariff-like restrictions continue to work for nations with positive balances of trade, like Japan and Germany. As Hartmann says, "[T]hey do it with VAT taxes and domestic content requirements and regulations and that kind of thing." Fingleton adds that in Japan, you see mainly Japanese cars, and in Germany, you see mainly German cars.
Eamonn Fingleton: ... I mean, Volkswagen is a match for Toyota everywhere else in the world but not in Japan. It has about one percent of the market in Japan. Worldwide, it has about twenty-five, thirty percent.
So tariffs and protectionism work, if the goal is really to restore core manufacturing and worker wealth to the United States.

Why Trump Will Fail: "The rot has gone too far"

The current goal of U.S. trade policy is not, however, to restore manufacturing to America and wealth to workers. The goal, of both parties' leadership cliques, is to keep each party's wealthy donor class in position to grow even wealthier. I wrote this in 2013 about our real "industrial policy":
I am not optimistic about either jobs in general or good jobs going forward, since the current U.S. industrial policy is to ship our industries out of the country and hand the (untaxed) savings to billionaires, using corporations as a pass-through. (I’m not joking.) And I don’t expect that to change anytime soon.
I think as a literal description of "U.S. industrial policy," it hits the mark squarely.

Which is why Trump will fail. Here's Hartmann and Fingleton on that:
Thom Hartmann: ... [S]o, if we brought back tariffs, every country that we have a trade agreement with would say that we are in violation of the trade agreement, it would go to investor state dispute settlement, we would be found guilty, we would be fined, we would get nailed, so the president should simply get us out of those agreements?

Eamonn Fingleton: I think that it's in character for Trump really to sort of bulldoze his way through and frankly that's what he's going to need in this instance. I think that if he goes the legal route as it were and tries to comply with all sorts of international agreements, he's going get nowhere. So he has to take the law into his own hands, frankly.

Thom Hartmann: Yeah, which is basically what Bernie Sanders was suggesting doing, too.
So far, so good. Trump could simply violate all of our trade agreements, then get us out of them by "bulldoz[ing] his way through." But there's a problem with that. After discussing the question of "what if Trump succeeds and gets a big fat political victory?" (my phrasing), Fingleton says, in effect, "Don't worry, he won't succeed."
Eamonn Fingleton: I think there's a big "if" there. I have a feeling that for all Trump's nationalistic fervor he's not going to succeed. That's very unfortunately my analysis, that he has the right ideas for trade and manufacturing but the problem, the rot has just gone too far.

Thom Hartmann: And his own party is by and large opposed to all this stuff. I mean, you've got all these Republican members of Congress who are bought and paid for by industries that are manufacturing overseas.

Eamonn Fingleton: Yeah, absolutely. That was the point I was going to make and also the lobbyists are just moving in and there's evidence that some of them are going to be inside his administration.

Thom Hartmann: Right. Yeah, and you've got Reince Priebus as his Chief of Staff. You know the old saying, 'personnel is policy'. It looks like policy is going to be Republican policy with populist rhetoric and I think that's a prescription, that's dynamite. That's a prescription for disaster, for an explosion.

Eamonn Fingleton: I checked on Priebus today with a very well-placed source in Washington and yes, the news I have is that he's a trade ideologue, free-trade ideologue.
Hartmann adds, "It's going to be real interesting when the people in Indiana who Trump promised he was going to stop their Carrier factory from going to China [actually, Mexico], when he doesn't stop it." Indeed. Or save only some of the jobs he promised to save all of. We wrote about that problem earlier. There are certainly ways to turn Trump's bad fortune to our benefit.  

Yes, the rot may have gone too far. But we'll see. Again, the whole clip is good and it's not that long. Give it a listen if you can.

Bottom Lines

Keep your eye on Priebus, the "free trade" acolyte, and the bought Republican Congress. And be sure to notice which bought Democrats show their loyalty to their own billionaire donor class when (or if) these votes come up.

But two bottom lines for now: The good news is, Trump will probably fail to correct U.S. trade and industrial policy, so good for us that he failed. The bad news is, Trump will probably fail to correct U.S. trade and industrial policy, so bad for us that he failed. Pick your poison, I guess, then pick up the political pieces.


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Which Senate Democrats Will Be The Most Likely To Sell Out To Trump Most Often?


Painting by Attila Richard Lukacs

Imagine you're a professional politician who's been striving for decades to get to the top of the heap. And then imagine that the Senate is the top of the heap. Say... nominal Democrat-- he's a Blue Dog-- Joe Donnelly, an unlikely freshman senator from Indiana, who should never have gotten into the Senate in the first place. You're up for reelection in 2018 in a state that just voted for Trump 1,556,220 (57.2%) to 1,031,953 (37.9%). Hillary only won 4 counties of the state's 92. This year's far more popular and better known Democratic Senate candidate, Evan Bayh, also lost-- 1,423,001 (52.1%) to 1,157,799 (42.4%). He won twice as many counties... 8, but he was running against a virtually unknown generic Republican-- and he had to spent a whopping $11,083,281 against the Republican's $8,897,232 to win those 8 counties. (The DSCC and its allies spent another $16.3 million on the race, far more than they're going to spend on you.) There was a gubernatorial race too-- and the Republican won that too. The state legislature doesn't look good either. The Republicans control everything. Of the 25 members of the state Senate, just 6 are Democrats. In the state House there are 70 Republicans and 30 Democrats.

When Donnelly started in politics in the late 80s, Democrats still won offices. Donnelly served on the Indiana State Election Board in 1988 and '89 and in 1997 was elected to the Marian High School Board. He lost a race for Attorney General and a race for a state Senate seat. Then in 2004 he ran against a crackpot extremist, congressional incumbent, Chris Chocola. He lost but two years later there was a national anti-Bush tsunami that swept Donnelly into office. He was re-elected in 2008 and, with a tiny margin against Jackie Walorski, in 2010. He knew he was dead meat in 2012 so he threw a hail Mary pass, giving up his House seat and running for the open Senate seat against a lunatic fringe teabagger, Richard Mourdock, who wound up saying insane things-- like when a woman gets pregnant from rape it's "something that God intended"-- during the campaign. Donnelly didn't really win as much as Mourdock lost.

Donnelly is anti-Choice, has an anti-LGBT voting record and has an "F" score from ProgressivePunch. His 61.73 lifetime crucial vote score is the 3rd worst of any Senate Dem. Only Joe Manchin and Heidi Heitkamp vote with the Republicans more than Donnelly, although not much more.

So now, ask yourself if Donnelly-- and others in similar situations (conservative Democrats in red states up for reelection in 2018)-- will be Trump collaborators or decide to stand up for their constituents instead. Heidi Heitkamp has the worst voting record of any Democrat in the Senate. Worse than Donnelly's and worse than Joe Manchin's. She told The Hill a couple days ago that she wants to work with Trump on a fictitious construct called "clean coal... My priority is standing up for North Dakota, not party politics. The reason I’m in the U.S. Senate is to work with Republicans and Democrats to get things done." Manchin also backs the GOP "clean coal" nonsense-- and so do two other Democrats from states that went for Trump: Bob Casey (PA) and, less predicately-- but not totally unpredictably-- Sherrod Brown (OH).

These are the conservative Senate Democrats with who are up for reelection in 2018... along with the percentage of votes Trump got in their state:
Jon Tester (MT)- 56.5%
Tom Carper (DE)- 41.9%
Tim Kaine (VA)- 45.0%
Angus King (I-ME)- 45.2%
Claire McCaskill (MO)- 57.1%
Joe Donnelly (IN)- 57.2%
Joe Manchin (WV)- 68.7%
Heidi Heitkamp (ND)- 64.1%
So, for starters, it looks like "clean coal" is bound to be reinvented.
A spokesman for Manchin said his top priorities next year include working with Trump and Republicans to pass the Miners protection Act, roll back “harmful regulations” on coal, renegotiate trade policies and rebuild the nation’s infrastructure.

Trump won West Virginia with nearly 69 percent of the vote.

Tester and two other Democrats up for reelection in 2018 in states won by Trump, Bob Casey (Pa.) and Sherrod Brown (Ohio.), are cosponsors of the clean coal bill.

That bill had little chance of moving while Reid was in charge. He once declared with typical bluntness “it doesn’t exist… there is no such thing as clean-coal technology.”

Democrats in tough races have been quick to call for putting the bad blood of the election behind them and focus on delivering results for constituents.

“Working across the aisle with her Republican colleagues to forge compromise and advance bipartisan ideas is exactly what Claire’s done since she joined the Senate-- regardless of which party holds the White House or who’s in charge of Congress-- and it’s exactly what she’ll keep doing,” said John LaBombard, a spokesman for Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who is expected to run for re-election in a state that Trump won with 57 percent of the vote.

Tax reform is one area where Republicans could see cooperation from Democrats.

Jim Kessler, a former aide to Schumer who now serves as senior vice president for policy at Third Way, a centrist Democratic think tank, says “it’s possible” that Senate Democrats help Republicans pass a tax reform package.

...Another issue with new momentum is authorization to build the Keystone XL pipeline, which the Obama administration shut down.

Ten Democrats voted last year to approve the Keystone pipeline. Six of them are running for re-election in states that Trump won: McCaskill, Manchin, Donnelly, Heitkamp, Tester and Casey. 
Had some of Schumer's dismally failed recruits won on November 8th-- like Patrick Murphy (FL), Patty Judge (IA), Ted Strickland (OH), Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ), Evan Bayh (IN), Jason Kander (MO), etc, Trump would have had even more Democratic allies to play with. Tuesday the Senate rejected a cloture motion to shut down a Democratic filibuster on a Big Oil special interest bill. Perhaps in a sign of things to come, Joe Manchin and Heidi Heitkamp, easily the two worst Democrats in the Senate, crossed the aisle and voted with the Republicans.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Not Every Trump Voter Is A Freeloader-- But The Most Economically Productive Areas All Voted Against Him


According to a Nov. 10th poll conducted by Pollfish, 23% of Trump supporters would have voted for Democratic hopeful, Bernie Sanders, based on his commitment to fight for the middle class and against large corporations. The same poll shows some regret already. 32% of Trump voters thought he wouldn't actually win and now 11% say if they had it to do over again, they wouldn't vote for him! When asked to describe the reason they chose to cast a vote for so flawed a candidate, "better of two evil," "America needs change" and "I voted against Hillary" were some of the most popular sentiments. Many Trump supporters were tired of the establishment, and just wanted CHANGE, perhaps forgetting that change can also be for the worse.

That said-- and remembering that Hillary has a growing 2.32 million raw vote lead over Trump now-- there were just 2 states-- Oklahoma and West Virginia-- where Trump won every single county. Hillary managed to win one county (Teton) in Wyoming, 2 counties in Utah (Salt Lake and Summit), 2 in North Dakota (Rolette and Sioux), 2 in Idaho (Latah and Blaine), 2 in Kansas (Douglas and Wyandotte), 2 in Kentucky (Jefferson and Fayette-- in other words, Louisville and Lexington) and 2 in Nebraska (Douglas and Lancaster, which hold, respectively Omaha and Lincoln, the state's only two actual cities).

And in Missouri, where Clinton only took 3 of Missouri's 114 counties, there were the 3 counties that are responsible for much of the state's prosperity: St Louis (county and city), Boone (Columbia) and Jackson (Kansas City). Am I saying that the parts of Missouri that gave Trump his mammoth 57-38% win in that state are all a bunch of unproductive freeloaders? Well... it's not that straight-forward. Richard Florida has done some research on the idea and has written a bit about it, pointing out that Large metros voted for Clinton where everywhere else went for Trump and that the large metro areas generate 90% of the nation's economic output. Hillary won 51% of the metros to Trump's 44%. In fact, when you look at metropolitan areas with over a million population, Trump just got 40% of the vote.

"Clinton," he wrote, "captured the largest metros. She bested Trump with 55 percent compared to 40 percent of the vote in metros with more than one million people, and won eight of the ten largest metros. These metros accounted for more than half the vote and generate two-thirds of America’s economic output... Rather than being a significant break with the past, the 2016 election reinforces America’s deepest divides: between the country’s larger, denser, more affluent, more highly educated, more knowledge-based and more diverse metro areas; and its smaller, less advantaged, less educated, and less diverse."

Back in 2012 he wrote that "America is divided between cities of knowledge and skill and the rest. The residents of these knowledge cities not only do better economically, they are better-traveled, better-connected to the global economy, and more open to diversity. Perhaps because the work of the knowledge-based metros centers turns on knowledge, creativity, and abstract thinking, their residents tend to be more open to the notion that government can help improve the economy, better the environment, provide essential services (like healthcare), and protect the fundamental rights of disadvantaged or discriminated-against groups... Those who live outside these places see knowledge-based centers as elitist and coddled by government. They are well aware of the growing gap between the metro haves and have-nots, and know they are losing ground. They'd like to somehow stop the forces of change that are leaving them behind and bring back the good old days when they, and their more traditional vision of, America was on top."

Other factors in the results, according to Professor Florida:
Clinton support was concentrated in metros with higher incomes and wages, while Trump support was concentrated metros with lower incomes and wages.

Clinton support came from metros with higher shares of college grads, while Trump support came from metros with smaller shares of college grads. These correlations are substantially higher than in 2012.

Clinton support was concentrated in metros where knowledge, professional and creative class workers make up a larger share of the workforce, while Trump support was negatively associated with this. Conversely, Trump support was much greater in metros with a larger share of the working class, with Clinton support negatively associated with it.

Clinton support was also much greater in metros with larger concentrations of startups, venture capital investment, and high-tech industry, while Trump votes were negatively correlated with each.

Clinton support was positively associated with both the size of metros and even more so with their density, while Trump support was negatively associated with both... Trump support was positively associated with the share of people who drive to work alone, a proxy indicator for sprawl... Clinton support was also higher in metros where a greater share of the workforce uses public transit, while Trump support was negatively associated with public transit use.

Trump support was positively associated with the share of residents who own their own homes... Clinton support was higher in metros with more expensive housing, while Trump’s was negative.

• Trump support was highly concentrated among whites. Metros with higher shares of whites went for Trump... Clinton support was higher in metros with greater shares of Hispanic and Latino residents... Clinton support was even more closely correlated with the share of metro residents who are foreign born, while Trump’s support was even more negatively correlated with the foreign-born population.
Clinton support was positively associated with income inequality and even more so with wage inequality. America has not only become more unequal, it has become increasingly sorted and segregated by socio-economic class. Clinton not only did better in more unequal metros, she did better in more economically segregated ones as well.
But what about gerrymandering, you might ask. Yeah, that's a problem-- a big one. But... just a few hours ago a federal court ordered North Carolina "to hold a special legislative election next year after 28 state House and Senate districts are redrawn to comply with a gerrymandering ruling." That's big-- really big.
U.S. District Court judges earlier this year threw out the current legislative district map, ruling that 28 of them were unconstitutional racial gerrymanders. They allowed the 2016 election to continue under the old maps, but ordered legislators to draw new districts in 2017.

...“While special elections have costs, those costs pale in comparison to the injury caused by allowing citizens to continue to be represented by legislators elected pursuant to a racial gerrymander,” the three-judge panel wrote in the order.

...The order gives legislators a March 15 deadline to draw new district maps. Every legislator whose district is altered will have their current term shortened.

A primary would be held in late August or early September-- the legislature is responsible for setting the exact date-- with the general election in November, the order says.

Republican legislators who oversee redistricting blasted the decision in a news release Tuesday evening.

“This politically-motivated decision, which would effectively undo the will of millions of North Carolinians just days after they cast their ballots, is a gross overreach that blatantly disregards the constitutional guarantee for voters to duly elect their legislators to biennial terms,” Rep. David Lewis and Sen. Bob Rucho said in the release, adding that they have already appealed the original U.S. District Court ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Southern Coalition for Social Justice, which represented plaintiffs in the redistricting lawsuit, praised Tuesday’s order.

“North Carolinians deserve fair representation in the state legislature, and that is impossible to achieve with racially gerrymandered districts,” executive director Anita Earls said in a news release. “A special election in the affected districts in 2017 is the best way to protect the rights of all North Carolinians.”
Hopefully this ruling will be a precedent that other courts in other jurisdictions will also follow-- and in time for the 2020 congressional redistricting. Just a few weeks ago, 49.9% of voters cast their ballots for Republican candidates-- resulting in a House that is now 51.2% Republican. That's because of hyper-partisan gerrymandering. Hopefully that won't keep happening into eternity.

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Corrupt Conservative Giveaway For Drug Corporations Coming Down The Pike


Now that the TPP is dead-- at least for now-- and won't be coming up in the lame duck, the Republicans were looking for a way to thank their K Street buddies for all the cash they poured into the elections. In fact, they also wanted to help the prescription drug corporations for the same reason. So... instead of a TPP in the lame duck, we get Fred Upton's 21st Century Cures bill again. (It passed the House in July of 2015 and then died in the Senate.) This cycle Drug corporations put $25,939,569 into congressional races-- about $14.7 million to Republicans and about $11.2 million for Democrats. These were their top ten 2016 recipients for legalistic bribes in the House... we'll see how they vote later this week.

Ryan ($380,969), McCarthy ($338,150) and Fred Upton ($219,050) figure they can get this done in the lame duck. Yesterday Elizabeth Warren took to the floor of the Senate to explain why that is a very bad idea-- unless you're a monopoly that wants to do some price gouging. You can watch her in the video above. "Voters," she reminded her colleagues, "were deeply divided on whether Democrats or Republicans should be in charge. Donald Trump is the President-elect despite losing the popular vote by more than two million people. But there is one thing that Americans were not divided on. On one issue, their message was loud and clear. According to exit polls, 70% of voters said they think the American economy and the lawmakers who oversee it are owned-- owned-- by big companies and special interests. That's 70% of everybody-- Democrats, Republicans, Independents. In the closing days of this Congress, Big Pharma has its hand out for a bunch of special giveaways and favors that are packed together in something called the 21st Century Cures bill. It's on track to get a vote in the House this week and then get rammed through the Senate. I've been looking at the details."

She warned her colleagues that voters don't want to see them giving in to special interests who buy their favors with campaign cash. There are parts of the bill that deal with medical innovation that Warren-- and all progressives-- support with enthusiasm. But leave it to corrupt conservatives to lard the bill up with give-aways to the industry.
From the beginning, I have emphasized one obvious fact. Medical breakthroughs come from increasing investments in basic research. Right now, Congress is choking off investments in the NIH. Adjusted for inflation, federal spending on medical research over the past dozen years has been cut by 20%. Those cuts take the legs out from under future medical innovation in America. We can name a piece of legislation the "cures" bill, but if it doesn't include meaningful funding for the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration, it won't cure anything.

That's why months ago Senate Democrats said any so-called "cures" legislation must have a significant investment in medical research. And that's why Senate Republicans publicly committed to doing exactly that. But now they have reneged on that promise and let Big Pharma hijack the Cures bill. This final deal has only a tiny fig leaf of funding, for NIH and for the opioid crisis.

And most of that fig leaf isn't even real. Most of the money won't really be there unless future Congresses passes future bills in future years to spend those dollars.

Why bother with a fig leaf in the Cures bill? Why pretend to give any money to NIH or opioids? Because this funding is political cover for huge giveaways to giant drug companies. There are more examples than I can count, but here are three.

First giveaway-- legalize fraud.

It is against the law for drug companies to market drugs for uses not approved by the FDA. Some drug companies find this rule annoying-- after all, they could make a whole lot more money selling a headache pill as a cure for everything from hair loss to cancer. But pushing treatments without scientific evidence that they work is fraud-- fraud that can hurt people. It also undercuts the development of real cures. That's why some of the largest law enforcement actions against big drug companies in the last fifteen years have involved off-label marketing. Drug companies have paid billions in penalties.

One solution would be for these companies to start following the law. But they prefer Plan B-- cozy up to enough people in Congress to pass this Cures bill that would shoot holes in the anti-fraud law. Make it easier for drug companies to get away with fraud.

Second giveaway-- cover up bribery.

Right now, the law requires drug companies to disclose the buckets of money they shower on doctors and hospitals to encourage them to prescribe certain drugs. It's all published on a government website-- you can go look up your doctor or hospital right now if you want.

The drug companies' could have responded by ending kickbacks. But they've chosen Plan B again-- cozy up to enough people in Congress to pass this Cures bill that would let drug companies keep secret any splashy junkets or gifts associated with "medical education" and make it harder for enforcement agencies to trace those bribes. Senator Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, says he is outraged by this provision. Well, I'm with Senator Grassley on this.

Third giveaway-- hand out dangerous, special deals to Republican campaign contributors.

According to news reports, a major Republican donor [crooked Texan Ed Bosarge] stands to benefit financially from selling cellular and regenerative medical therapies. If this guy had his way, he'd be able to sell them to desperate people without a final FDA determination that those therapies are effective or safe. Of course, that would be against the law. So this megadonor has poured millions of dollars into Mitch McConnell's personal campaign coffers and into his Republican SuperPAC, and now he wants his reward. So the Cures act offers to sell government favors. It delivers a special deal so people can sell these treatments without meeting the FDA gold standards for protecting patient safety and making sure these drugs do some good.

Keep in mind: people could die from using unproven treatments.  In fact, people have already died even during carefully controlled research experiments on these types of treatments. Congress shouldn't be in the business of selling FDA favors to the highest bidder, risking people's lives to enrich political donors.

Let's be clear. What the Republicans are proposing is corrupt, and it is very, very dangerous.

And there's more. Republicans decided to hand out gifts for other special interests. The Cures Act-- a bill that was supposed to be about medical innovation-- has a giveaway to the gun lobby. The bill cuts Medicare funding. It raids money from the Affordable Care Act. It takes health care dollars that should have gone to Puerto Rico. It makes it harder for people with disabilities to get Medicaid services. There's a lot of bad stuff here.

A lot of bad stuff, but not everything is bad. Republican leaders are playing a crafty game, trying to buy off Democratic votes, one-by-one, by tacking on good, bipartisan proposals that Senators in both parties have worked on, in good faith, for years. A bipartisan mental health bill. Bipartisan provisions protecting the genetic privacy of patients. Bipartisan provisions to give some very limited funding for important priorities like our national opioid crisis and the Vice President's Cancer Moonshot initiative. A proposal to improve foster care.

I support most of these proposals. I've worked on many of them for years. I even wrote several of them myself. If this bill becomes law, there is no question it will contain some real legislative accomplishments.

But I cannot vote for this bill. I will fight it because I know the difference between compromise and extortion.

Compromise is putting together common-sense health proposals supported by Democrats, by Republicans, and by most of the American people, and passing them into law. Extortion is holding those exact same proposals hostage unless everyone agrees to special favors for campaign donors and giveaways to the richest drug companies in the world.

Compromise is when Senators-- Democrats and Republicans-- find the way forward on issues that matter to their constituents. Extortion is telling those same senators to forget what your constituents want-- nothing to deal with the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs and nothing to increase medical research. Instead, every important, common-sense, bipartisan bill on mental health, genetic privacy, opioid addiction, foster care, and anything else will die today-- unless Democrats agree to make it easier for giant drug companies to commit fraud, give out kickbacks, and put patients' lives at risk.  This demand is enough to make me gag.

...Republicans will control this government-- but they cannot hand over that control to big corporations unless Democrats roll over and allow them to do so.

It is time for Democrats-- Democrats and Republicans who should be ashamed by this kind of corruption-- to make it clear who exactly they work for.  Does the Senate work for big pharma that hires the lobbyists and makes the campaign contributions or does the Senate work for American people who actually sent us here.
The prescription drug corporations already make higher profits than any other industry. It's morally wrong and just plain unfair that they should be spending tens of millions of lobbying and bribing members of Congress for their own laws and regulations (and lack thereof). Most Americans-- from across the political spectrum feel that medics should be equally available to all and that as a society we shouldn't put greed and excessive profits before health and life. The rules need it be changed, but not in the way Ryan and Upton intend-- in a way to get the monopolies in check instead of giving them free rein to gouge--especially since so much of their profits come from taxpayer-funded research.

Just before the election, the AFL-CIO, the Consumers Union and several other progressive organizations got together and wrote a letter to the congressional Democratic leaders urging them to not move forward with the bill during the lame duck, believing the bill can be substantially improved. "Over the last year," they wrote, "a series of instances of price gouging by pharmaceutical corporations has led various congressional committees to look into these practices; these efforts included several high-profile hearings and Senate Finance Committee investigations. While the Cures Act’s funding for the National Institutes of Health is a priority for many, it is critical that any legislation making changes to drug policies take steps to rein in the cost of prescription drugs... [M]oving forward with this legislation now would be a missed opportunity to address unaffordable prescription drug prices. There is no justification for moving forward with legislation that provides substantial benefits to the drug industry without asking for something in return. Mylan’s price gouging on EpiPens is just the latest example of a systemic problem. Excessive drug pricing will continue to be an issue of pressing national concern next year. Moving forward with this legislation now will undermine efforts to act on an issue next year that is the highest health care priority for the vast majority of Americans-- Republicans and Democrats alike."

If the bill gets to the Senate, don't look for much help from the Democrats. Chuck Schumer has taken $897,461 from the drug corporations and is always amenable to kiss their asses, as is Patty Murray, the ranking member of the committee in charge of the bill ($852,491). And then you have the little problem with Senate conservaDems-- Jon Tester, Joe Manchin, Heidi Heitkamp, Joe Donnelly, Claire McCaskill-- eager to work with the Republicans whenever they can get away with it, even if they screw their own constituents.

UPDATE: It Passed The House... With Virtually No Opposition

The House passed this thing-- under the misleading name "Tsunami Warning, Education, and Research Act of 2015" with almost no opposition, 392-26. Among the few congressmembers who did see the danger and voted no were Raul Grijalva, Jan Schakowsky and Barbara Lee. Ted Lieu supported it because he felt there was more good in the bill than bad. He explained, for example, that he was glad to see it pass because it included "my bill to address the spread of antibiotic-resistant superbugs through medical devices... While not perfect, the 21st Century Cures Act dedicates more than $6 billion to implement many provisions that both my Democratic colleagues and the Obama Administration are supportive of, including funding for the President’s Precision Medicine and BRAIN Initiatives, as well as the Vice President’s Cancer Moonshot.  The Act also takes important steps to confront our nation’s opioid abuse crisis and to prioritize mental health programs. I do not believe this Act would have gotten better under the incoming Trump Administration; it likely would have gotten worse. President Obama supports this legislation and I urge the Senate to pass it."

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How To Defeat Trump Every Single Day


What did Trump voters-- his potential victims-- enable on Nov. 8? In their mad dash to get even with the hated establishment, they unleashed something much worse. First I want to point out an OpEd by over 100 Jewish historians from universities all over America in last week's Jewish Journal. "As scholars of Jewish history," they wrote, "we are acutely attuned to the fragility of democracies and the consequences for minorities when democracies fail to live up to their highest principles... Hostility to immigrants and refugees strikes particularly close to home for us as historians of the Jews. As an immigrant people, Jews have experienced the pain of discrimination and exclusion, including by this country in the dire years of the 1930s. Our reading of the past impels us to resist any attempts to place a vulnerable group in the crosshairs of nativist racism. It is our duty to come to their aid and to resist the degradation of rights that Mr. Trump’s rhetoric has provoked."
We condemn unequivocally those agitators who have ridden Trump’s coattails to propagate their toxic ideas about Jews. More broadly, we call on all fair-minded Americans to condemn unequivocally the hateful and discriminatory language and threats that have been directed by him and his supporters against Muslims, women, Latinos, African-Americans, disabled people, LGBT people and others. Hatred of one minority leads to hatred of all. Passivity and demoralization are luxuries we cannot afford. We stand ready to wage a struggle to defend the constitutional rights and liberties of all Americans. It is not too soon to begin mobilizing in solidarity.
As a reader of this blog and others like it, you probably have a sense that Steve Bannon is a bad man. Let's look into that a little more closely though. Over the weekend, Cynthia Tucker Haynes' piece about the old racism inside the new Alt-right packaging for the National Memo puts Bannon (+ Mercer and Trump) into some kind understandable context. "Bannon," she wrote, "came to Trump’s campaign from his post as executive chairman of Breitbart News, a vitriolic outpost of the ultraconservative fringe. The 'news' site is vehemently misogynist, xenophobic, anti-Semitic and racist."
The appellation “alt-right” sounds trendy, like alternative rock. It severs a white supremacist ideology from its Ku Klux Klan roots. It applies a hefty coat of Wite-out (pun intended) to a dangerous and frightening appreciation for Adolf Hitler. In other words, it’s a brilliant marketing strategy to normalize beliefs with which most Americans don’t wish to be associated... [The] so-called “alt-right” is nothing but the same old white supremacy that has oppressed minorities for centuries. It was present at the Continental Congress and enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. The KKK took up the same beliefs with great enthusiasm in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Hitler’s version was centered on his hatred for Jews, but he and the KKK, which was also anti-Semitic, could easily have made common cause. In other words, there is nothing new or trendy about this bigotry.

Many journalists and political commentators remain in denial about the racism that fueled Trump’s rise. They maintain that economic anxiety lifted him to victory, that working-class whites are increasingly anxious about job loss and wage stagnation.

There is obviously some truth there. There were counties in a few states that voted for Obama twice but which Clinton could not hold. It’s hard to see racism in those votes.

But racial resentment was easy enough to detect in the Trump voters who embraced his calls for “law and order,” who cheered when he described inner cities as dystopian nightmares, who showed up at his rallies to hurl racial epithets every time Obama’s name was mentioned. Let’s remember how Trump introduced himself to national politics: with a five-year stint as birther-in-chief, insisting that Obama was a usurper who didn’t belong in the Oval Office. It’s hard to see economic anxiety in that.

As much as anything else, Trump’s election was a backlash against cultural forces that have changed American civic and social life over the last several decades. A black president was the starkest symbol of those changes, but other cultural dynamics also played a role. Many Trump voters resent the legalization of same-sex marriage. Others could not stomach the idea of a female president.

That's the context. Monday's NY Times piece by Scott Shane could have lifted the racist rock Bannon hides under and shined a strong spotlight on him as he scurried away. (I refused to be interviewed for the profile.) I suspect that for many Times readers, it was one of their first encounters with Bannon who tended to stay in the background-- for obvious reasons-- during the campaign. What obvious reasons? Although Shane danced around the topic and never flat out asserted that Bannon is a racist-- and used that bullshit journalism school tactic of giving him plausible deniability to quoting souces saying thing like nice he always was to this black person or that black person-- let's start with this from Shane's piece:
In a radio interview last year with Mr. Trump, Mr. Bannon complained, inaccurately, that “two-thirds or three-quarters of the C.E.O.s in Silicon Valley are from South Asia or from Asia.” He has sometimes portrayed a grave threat to civilization not just from violent jihadists but from “Islam.” He once suggested to a colleague that perhaps only property owners should be allowed to vote. In an email to a Breitbart colleague in 2014, he dismissed Republican congressional leaders with an epithet and added, “Let the grass roots turn on the hate.”

...[Julia] Jones, the film colleague, said that in their years working together, Mr. Bannon occasionally talked about the genetic superiority of some people and once mused about the desirability of limiting the vote to property owners.

“I said, ‘That would exclude a lot of African-Americans,’” Ms. Jones recalled. “He said, ‘Maybe that’s not such a bad thing.’"

...Bannon systematically courted a series of politicians, especially those who share his dark, populist worldview: at home, a corrupt ruling class preying on working Americans; globally, “the Judeo-Christian West” in a “war against Islamic fascism.” They were views that placed him closer to the European right than to the Republican mainstream.

He made flattering films about Michele Bachmann, the former congresswoman from Minnesota, and Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor and vice-presidential candidate; repeatedly pressed the television host Lou Dobbs to run for office; and flirted with a range of Republican presidential hopefuls, including Rick Santorum, Ben Carson and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. Finally, in Mr. Trump, Mr. Bannon found his man.

Mr. Bannon told a colleague in multiple conversations during the presidential campaign that he knew Mr. Trump was an “imperfect vessel” for the revolution he had in mind. But the upstart candidate and the media entrepreneur bonded anyway.

In August 2015, Mr. Bannon told Ms. Jones in an email that he had turned Breitbart, where employees called certain political stories “Bannon Specials,” into “Trump Central” and joked that he was the candidate’s hidden “campaign manager.” He hosted Mr. Trump for friendly radio interviews and offered tactful coaching. This August, with the Trump campaign foundering, Mr. Bannon took over as chief executive.
I want to go back to Trump, back to the National Memo and over to @LOLGOP and George Lakoff. "Trump," wrote @LOLGOP in explanation of a Lakoffian look at Trump, "can’t quote William F. Buckley and likely prefers Barry Manilow to Barry Goldwater, but he may be the most brazen 'Strict Father' candidate ever. His fixation on 'winning' and dominating his opponents reinforces the hierarchical nature of conservative thought. His vile preening may have repulsed your 'Nurturant Parent' brain but it offered his voters 'self-respect, authority, and the possibility of power.'... Lakoff laid out how Trump’s bullying bombast appealed to Evangelicals, Pragmatic Conservatives and Laissez-faire Free Marketeers. He saw Trump exploiting elements of the conservative worldview-- including the 'country as person metaphor' and simplistic 'direct causation'-- that the right has spent hundreds of millions of dollars nurturing.
In addition to his mastery of the broad strokes of the right-wing politics of dominance, Trump’s decades of experience selling crap taught him how to use your brain against you, including repetition, framing like “Crooked” Hillary, and “truthful hyperbole.”

Lakoff also explained how Trump could win over people who had voted for Barrack Obama, despite being a birther who represented the exact opposite of Obama’s nuanced, systemic thinking.

“Many union members are strict fathers at home or in their private life,” he wrote. “They believe in ‘traditional family values’-- a conservative code word-- and they may identify with winners.”

This brain scientist’s insights into American politics first came into vogue during the George W. Bush era, when he pointed out that approaching voters as logical issue-weighing machines gave Republicans-- who employ the same marketing techniques that sell cars and timeshares-- a huge advantage.

And he thinks Democrats made that mistake again in 2016, though Lakoff-- like pollsters and much of America-- didn’t see Trump’s narrow Electoral College win coming.

“They failed to understand unconscious thought and moral worldviews” he wrote. “While hailing science in the case of climate change, they ignored science when it came to their own minds.”

Instead of building upon the progressive frame, Democrats unconsciously aided Trump.

“They kept running ads showing Trump forcefully expressing views that liberals found outrageous,” he wrote. “Trump supporters liked him for forcefully saying things that liberals found outrageous. They were ads paid for by the Clinton campaign that raised Trump’s profile with his potential supporters!”

So how to defeat a master of self-promotion like Trump?

Start by pointing out that Trump is the biggest popular vote loser ever to win the Electoral College.

“Don’t let anyone forget it,” Lakoff suggests. “Keep referring to Trump as the minority president, Mr. Minority and the overall Loser. Constant repetition, with discussion in the media and over social media, questions the legitimacy of the minority president to ignore the values of the majority.”

Trump’s unique status as the most unpopular man ever to enter the White House can chip away at his core “Strict Father” appeal, which explains why pointing it out irritates him so much.

“There are certain things that strict fathers cannot be: A Loser, Corrupt, and especially not a Betrayer of Trust,” Lakoff writes.

Trump’s conflicts of interests and their potential for corruption are also unprecedented in American history and any retreat from his promise to preserve Medicare must be framed as a catastrophic betrayal.

But Lakoff warns Democrats against “showcasing Trump, keeping him in the limelight” and urges them to instead to focus on reinforcing the values of the “American Majority” movement.

“The idea that must be brought across is empathy for those in your in-group, your town.”

Empathy is conservative Kryptonite.

But in order to use it effectively, progressives need to understand that the things that repulsed them most about Trump are what he used to bring out the conservatism in swing voters’ brains.
Yesterday, Trump's Art of the Deal ghost writer, Tony Schwartz, tweeted "Trump tweeting recklessly and inaccurately is not a political choice he is making, but rather a psychological compulsion." If that doesn't scare you, you're not think about it carefully enough.

This isn't funny; none of this is funny.

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