Thursday, October 27, 2016

I Worry About Trumpism. But Is the Republican Alternative Brownbackism?

Yes, Donald Trump has ignited a renewal -- or a revelation, if you will -- of white nationalism and misogyny at the core of the GOP. But should we wish they'd go back to the old GOP? 

Kansas under the Brownback Economic Miracle™.

Paul Krugman flagged this notion on his Twitter feed today, that if we're horrified at Trumpism, which many voters, especially women, are, then where would we want the Republicans to go, back to the policies of Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas, who after taking over there propelled the state into a deep economic funk through his large tax cuts for the wealthy and spending cuts on infrastructure, education, and social services? I don't think so.

Krugman linked to a smart political blog called Lawyers, Guns, and Money where lead blogger, Scott Lemieux, posted this new data from the Philadelphia Fed:
The Philadelphia Fed released coincident indices today. Figure 1 shows state-by-state 3 month trends. Needless to say, the outlook for Kansas — that laboratory for supply side nostrums — is not auspicious.

While Alaska seems to be in the running for worst performing, in fact the 3 month (annualized) decline of 4.5% for Kansas is the worst in the 50 states.
As Lemieux points out, this is essentially the same approach that Paul Ryan takes in his A Better Way economic plan. Google it if you've got the stomach.

So, as we head into the sunset of another presidential election -- hoping Hillary pulls it off! -- we don't just have to worry whether or not Donald Trump has done lasting damage to the GOP, we also have to worry that a return to anything resembling the Old Guard will be quite nearly as bad.

Don't hope for the old Republican Party same as the new Republican Party to make a comeback. Just hope that they both collapse and a new other major political party (you can even call them Republicans!) replaces the limping, barely breathing mess that is the GOP today, even as it prepares for life with Hillary with crazy threats of INVESTIGATING HER FOR YEARS. Jason Chavettz (R-Utah), head of the House Oversight Committee has made just such a threat, and he has the support of House Speaker Paul Ryan in this effort.

The expression "good grief" is not nearly strong enough to convey how horrible such a reaction to a Hillary Clinton victory might be. So I'll just offer a HOLY FUCK! instead.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Can You Imagine Being a Republican Woman These Days? (I Guess Some of You Are...)

I find it hard, even as a man, to accept that some women choose to ally themselves with some who work constantly against their interests.

Ladies: Trump is a sexual predator, and Pence wants to own your bodies.

The War on Women is much the cliché by now, but that doesn't make it non-existent, and Mike Pence is the poster politician for a Republican who feels you women don't know what's good for you. As for Donald Trump, you'd have to be in a coma not to know that if you're a woman he's not the one you want out front on public policy.

Beyond that, the Republican Party has lost its collective mind this election cycle, and Republican women have been noticing. Michelle Goldberg of Slate has noticed:
Earlier this month, Michigan GOP leaders told Wendy Day, the state party’s grassroots vice-chair, that she had to endorse Donald Trump or resign. Day, a former staffer for Ted Cruz, refused to do either. In a letter to the state Republican chairwoman, she wrote, “It is important for our party to represent all of the voices in our party, not just the loudest.” On Oct. 17—10 days after the release of the 2005 Access Hollywood tape in which Trump bragged about groping women—the chairwoman announced Day’s removal from the post she’d been elected to at a state convention last year.
Don't support Trump? You're out, as far as Republican leadership is concerned. Wendy Day reacted:
Day remains extremely conservative, and is definitely not voting for Hillary Clinton. Still, her sense of betrayal is leading her to cast off certain political habits of mind. Until very recently, she was a “Fox News junkie,” she says. “I used to go to Drudge Report twice a day, and I used to pay attention to Breitbart. I used to have a ton of Sean Hannity books in my house, and Laura Ingraham.” But now, “that’s all been torn down. I don’t have any books in my house by those people anymore. Not that I think they’re the enemy—I don’t. I just have realized that I created an echo chamber for myself, and it was time to not do that anymore.”
Good for her. Goldberg's article details a number of women who are leading lights in the GOP who've moved on because of the Republican embrace of Trump. A good article quite worth the read this cycle.

I'm not a conservative, but I have met conservatives who are thoughtful people, even as modern conservatism has, in my view, degenerated into something quite destructive to American society. The GOP, as the home of conservative thought, has perhaps reached the breaking point, at which it no longer resembles a set of beliefs to follow for a fruitful life. It's a set of horrible ideas and actions -- read inaction -- that have brought American political life to a crawl.

For women, that has given us Donald Trump, and, yes, don't forget Mike Pence. He may resemble the pastor of your church, but he's really the Indianian equivalent of Saudi Arabia's morality guard that comes around and whips you if your ankles are showing.

The Republican Party has left women. A wise woman these days should leave the Republican Party, at least until they've returned to their senses.

Bonus fun: This Samantha Bee video shows a woman with insight into today's Republican Party and where women might find a leader they can believe in:

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

How Journalists Were Stumped by Trump's Constant Lying

Used to horse-race reporting or both-sides-do-it narratives, the media in 2016 weren't prepared for Donald Trump's baldfaced-lie approach to almost every issue.

The Donald opened his yap and spat out crap, and journalists choked on it.

No, I have neither pity nor understanding for how ill-prepared most journalists and media outlets were to cope with the unprecedented scope of Donald Trump's pathological lies. They could have taken a "Wait a minute, that's not right" approach to Trump's utterances from the beginning, but they didn't. Most of the campaign, most journalists used terms like "unproven," false statement," "controversial," "stretched the truth," when they questioned Trump's mendacity at all. Rarely did they call out his near constant prevarication for what it was: utter, contemptible tripe. Horseshit. Dishonesty. Lies. Nonsense. Baloney. Malarkey, for you Joe Biden fans.

Media Matters for America lays it bare for all to see:
Despite that cabaret of nonstop fabrications, media observers praised Trump’s debate performance even though they were built around lies and fabrications. The standard that journalists still to use for Trump was that if he looked and sounded presidential while lying during debate, he scored points.
That’s scary.
Read the whole Media Matters piece. When we look back at the 2016 campaign, what will stand out is what a terrible -- and untruthful -- candidate Donald Trump was. Hopefully, the media won't want to be gamed by a candidate like Trump again. America will be the better for it.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Why Wikileaks Hasn't Hurt Hillary? The Goldman Sachs Speeches Make Her Look Good.

Sure, there's some inane "political" back-and-forth among her staff in bunches of emails, but, er, ah, DUH! (Big reveal: she's a politician!)

Maybe they're holding back, but so far, huh?

Daniel Drezner in the WaPo gives Hillary's Sachs speeches the once-over and finds the private Hillary more direct and charming that the public one:
As WikiLeaks continues to dump John Podesta’s emails onto the world, there’s a cornucopia of information to digest. I decided to start by focusing on a key source of tension between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders during the Democratic primary: the transcripts of Clinton’s paid speeches at Goldman Sachs. These were supposed to contain information damaging to Clinton’s campaign.
After reading all three speeches … I don’t understand why Clinton didn’t make them public back in the spring.
Okay, I understand a little. Clinton’s Goldman Sachs transcripts are not speeches per se but rather structured conversations between Clinton and a Goldman Sachs interlocutor, as well as a Q&A with the audience. Clinton references the same Winston Churchill joke a bit much. She praises Chinese President Xi Jinping on occasion, mostly for his political skills and his apparent ability to rein in the People’s Liberation Army. Mostly, however, what comes through is Clinton’s comfort talking about the subtleties of international relations. The contrast with the current GOP nominee is rather striking.
Contrast indeed. Read on.

The Anatomy of a White Nationalist Party: How the GOP Has Transformed Itself, Perhaps Irretrievably

Trump didn't do this by himself (see Goldwater, Barry and Governors, Republican), but 2016 may have delivered a self-inflicted mortal wound to Republicans.

We saw this coming after 2012. Self-deportation happened, er, from the GOP.

Who doesn't remember the self-proclaimed Republican autopsy in 2012? And who doesn't remember its epic fail?

The 2012 Republican autopsy: Why did we lose? What should we change? Uh, never mind!

You don't get to the promised land by changing your mind and going to Hell instead. Essentially, that's what the Republican Party did. The party toyed with an "autopsy," tried to self-examine, and what did they do? From then right up until now, they decided the best course was to further alienate blacks, Latinos, Asians, Muslims, the entire LGBTQ community, and women. Good on ya!

A lot of damage has been done by Donald Trump and many Republicans in the run-up to 2016, but it didn't start there. Read Jamelle Bouie's piece in Slate to get the historical context. It's an eye-opener.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

WikiLeaks Continuing Fail: Clinton Is Polite to Bankers When She Is Face-to-Face with Them.

WikiLeaks releases transcripts of the Goldman Sachs speeches. The smoking gun is that she is polite without saying anything remotely controversial. Fire up the Fox News outrage!!

Hillary Clinton to Wall Street bankers: no wink-wink, nudge-nudge.

Excepts to other Clinton speeches have come out in the past week, but Saturday WikiLeaks apparently dropped the entire transcripts of all three (?) Goldman Sachs speeches, and analysis of them is starting to come out.

Betsy Woodruff offers a take on them, and although she tosses out a "Two-faced?" at the top of the column and hints throughout that there's a divergence between what she tells bankers and what she's offered on the campaign trail, I find the difference innocuous enough that I'm inclined to issue an official meh.

In the speeches she does 1) tell bankers that politicians will inevitably come to them for cash and they will inevitably cough some up, 2) encourage them to use their money to promote policy and changes in the country that they support, and 3) encourage wealthy people to run for office because their wealth may shield them from getting bought out in the process.

Yes, she's harder on them out on the campaign trail. However, on the campaign trail her rhetoric is aimed at getting people to understand that increased taxes on the rich are to benefit those down the income ladder that couldn't finance those benefits if they tried, and that the reduced income inequality that would lead from these tax increases would be a plus. Not Republican goals, but not controversial socialist/new world order dicta either.

That she doesn't openly declare in her Goldman Sachs speeches that "When I get into office my tax increases are going to fuck you up but good" is not surprising. That instead she says "Use your money as a force for good" while not deriding them for abusing derivatives is also not surprising.

Here's Woodruff:
 None of this is necessarily controversial. But it doesn’t exactly comport with Clinton’s campaign trail messaging. On the page of her campaign site about campaign finance reform, she rips the influence donors have on elected politicians.
The bottom line -- as I can make it out so far -- is she tells her supporters on the campaign trail she'll expect the wealthy to pay their fair share and tells Wall Streeters to be thoughtful and constructive with their donations. Sure, donations from Sheldon Adelson are not a force for good in the way, say, those from George Soros are. They're both ridiculously wealthy people, but they use their money for quite different things. Which kind of donation is Hillary encouraging Goldman Sachs people to make?

Nothing nefarious here, but Fox News will use it 24-hours non-stop to cover up new sexual-predator allegations against Trump. Which is worse? The Fox News behavior, I'll warrant.

Donald Trump Is a Sexual Predator, and 40% of Voters Support Him. Boy, Do We Have Work to Do.

It's quite likely Donald Trump will lose. The fact that he got close says volumes about the rot in American culture.

Trump sexual assault victim Summer Zervos.

One of the aspects of Muslim culture in the Middle East that has horrified me is its antiquated and despicable treatment of women. More's the pity that the West, including the U.S., has its own failings in this regard.

I remember around 1970 seeing a book called Our Bodies, Ourselves. It was a seminal book in the feminist movement and the product of the Boston Women's Health Book Collective, and its purpose was for women to begin to influence the medical profession in order to improve the type of care women receive. It was time women began to own their bodies, a concept that today seems archaic. It was far from archaic, even in 1970.

Having grown up in the 50s and 60s, it was clear to me what place women were expected to take in American society. The cultural upheaval of the 60s inspired a different reality. Over the past nearly 5 decades, women have made a lot of progress, though the work is hardly finished.

I understood that Our Bodies, Ourselves announced that women should own their bodies, own their destinies. Having been a willing participant in the 60s counterculture, I was ready to embrace this vital cultural evolution, even as this "novel concept" of women's liberation was considerably intimidating. As a man, I was at least a little bit rattled.

Life with women was never going to be the same, that much I got.

Somewhere else a different world existed. Donald Trump lived in that world. It's apparent now that Trump spent his decades as an unrepentant sexual predator. There have been enough victims with similar stories coming forward that, as in the Bill Cosby case, we're reaching a critical mass. Donald Trump did this, and it will soon be beyond deniability.

As Dahlia Lithwick makes clear in her Slate article about Anita Hill's "moment," Trump is far less likely to skate past charges against him the way Clarence Thomas was able to. Another article in Slate is a moving tribute to Hillary Clinton while simultaneously an examination of college rape. Please read it. Key graph:
Here is what I’ve learned from watching Hillary since 1992: She refuses to be defined by what has happened to her, or by what other people have done. Again and again, she changes the subject back to what she wants to do, to what she can do, to the work at hand. She insists that what she does is who she is. And that gives her power no one has been able to take away, no matter how hard they’ve tried.
I hope all voters consider that, far from being an issue in the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump's sexual predation deserves to be a complete deal breaker. Not only should Donald Trump be shunned as a despicable violator of women's rights and women's dignity, America should use this moment to reexamine where we are in our quest to advance women's rights.

The fact that women's support for Donald Trump dropped significantly after his infamous Access Hollywood tape came out, while support among men and evangelicals barely budged if not increased, shows how far we've come and how far we still have to go. In our current hyperpartisan world, a stubborn 40% of voters refuse to abandon Trump.

Discussions on our college campuses and across the nation have been ongoing as Americans examine our rape culture. Who knew one of our presidential candidates would further that debate in such a vile and unexpected way?

First, vote against Donald Trump. Next, get ready to advance the cause of women's rights, women's dignity, and women's freedom from mistreatment in a 21st century world. It's truly the next battleground as we struggle to build a better world.