Friday, August 26, 2016

Old Dirty Word? Liberal. New Dirty Word? Alt-Right. And Donald Owns It.

Liberalism was a well-respected view on the world that the right wing dragged through the mud, but not anymore (thanks, Bernie). But alt-right means never having to say you're sorry (for being white).

Hillary Clinton found the perfect moment for an attack on Trump's
alt-right affiliation, and she grabbed it.

Donald Trump knows what he's doing. It doesn't mean he's right to do it. It just means it's not an accident. It might not work, but it's actually a strategy. A little shoot-from-the-hip (or lip), but it's a style, a plan, a chosen artifice.

Donald Trump may or may not be a racist, but by now it hardly matters. At some point in his campaign, he embraced the "poorly educated" whites -- mostly men -- who have seen their world overrun by brown people, GLBTs, and women, and gathered those whites into a coalition. At some point, that began to attract the white nationalists of the alt-right. He also welcomed them into his tent.

Now he may wish that he hadn't. But he did, and that's that. Standing around saying he's not a racist, a xenophobe, a nativist, won't work. And his baldly phony move, calling Hillary Clinton a "BIGOT" won't work either. Too late to swiftboat.

On the other hand, Hillary Clinton grabbed the right moment to deliver a near-perfect speech decrying Donald Trump's embrace of the alt-right. The proof in the pudding was Trump's hiring of Stephen Bannon, the senior editor, as it were, of the alt-right. Now they were joined at the hip. And Hillary pounced.

The reviews are in. Clinton triumphed. The just-at-the-right-time speech, just as Donald was trying to pivot away from his overly harsh immigration stand, caught Trump flat-footed. He's got no answer other than the schoolyard taunt, "No, you're the bigot!"

Sorry, Donald. Hillary's constituency is the new Democratic coalition, same as the old one. Yours, on the other hand, is laced with the paranoid fringe. Snap!

Hillary Clinton's speech pointing out the dangerous ideology of hate and fear that's riven the GOP base in the Era of Trump may not be the nail in the coffin of Donald Trump's run for the White House. But it sure let the air out of the tires of the clown car in which he arrived. Only thing, it's not funny anymore. These are not clowns, these are dangerous demagogues.

Clinton's written the script now. Perhaps she can ride it into the Oval Office.

Note. It's easy to see that among mainstream voices that Clinton's attack is effective and well-timed. Here's a voice claiming that Clinton is, by paying it attention, somehow legitimizing, or mainstreaming, the alt-right. I don't buy it. By pointing out that Donald Trump has mainstreamed the alt-right, Clinton isn't the one doing the mainstreaming. Nice try, but sorry. Clinton's acknowledgement of the moment racism, nativism, and xenophobia went public and pointing at Trump for urging it along doesn't fall on Clinton. It lands on Donald Trump with a well-deserved thud.

Donald Trump's Epic Fail: He Boxed Himself In on Immigration

Donald Trump began his campaign by declaring Mexicans to be rapists. After that, he couldn't "pivot."

His immigration rant became his signature stance. He abandoned it at his peril.

I became aware of the idea of "the pivot" when a communications director with Mitt Romney -- Eric Fehrnstrom -- made his famous Etch-A-Sketch remark. Though Fehrnstrom's misstep took place early in Romney's campaign year, during March of 2012, it had the effect of taking the blinders off the electorate. We were supposed to feel the pivot but not actually know it was a standard move. Now voters knew too much.

Romney then sealed his fate a few months later by deriding America's 47 percent, those too comfortable with an expansive government to ever vote for a candidate who almost reveled in writing them off in private, among his loyal -- and stinking rich -- friends. A colossal oops.

Now, four years later, the horse was already out of the barn, in as much as "the pivot" was no longer a secret campaign move but an expected sign that a candidate was savvy. This "pivot" was meant to show that a candidate was willing to move beyond his base, to reach out to the larger electorate he or she was to confront in the general election.

I suggest that this is the special province of the Republican Party, in as much as their core constituency, their base, is a narrower construct, a segment of the voting population that isn't enough to carry the GOP candidate to victory. Democrats already lean on a larger constituency or group of constituencies and only need to shepherd them to the polls. Barack Obama showed how that works, twice.

In Trump's case, his base was enough to get him the nomination, but he'd need a bunch of moderate Republicans, right-leaning independents, and, yes, some amount of so-called Reagan Democrats to capture the White House. Hence, he'd have to pivot.

At first, he didn't. Donald Trump thought, delusionally as it turns out, that he was a force of nature that could let his hordes carry him to victory. It took two campaign upheavals to get him to finally pivot, which, for Trump, had to involve softening his immigration stance.

What else was he going to do? What was his other move, his pivot, going to be? His hard-nosed SEND THEM ALL BACK and BUILD THAT WALL AND MAKE MEXICO PAY FOR IT declaration was his rallying cry. It turns out that his dark vision couldn't get him a single battleground state. The number of demographics he alienated were legion.

So, this past week, he finally pivoted, and what happened? He looked like a big fat stupid insincere dick. Now the emperor really had no clothes. It was all an act?? Awh, say it ain't so, Joe.

But it was. BUT I'LL STILL BUILD THE WALL now rang hollow. Now Donald Trump was going to be "nice," "humane," and "follow the law" with the brown people already here. What's worse, he said he'd do it like Obama, who'd already deported a good number of them following the law.

Did you really say that, Donald, that you'd "do it like Obama??" Yes, you did.

The thing is, it was inevitable. Donald Trump created his primary-winning coalition by awakening the non-college educated whites -- yes, also animated by the alt-right and Breitbart/Drudge types -- and rode it to the nomination. Then he delivered his law-and-order "Midnight in America" acceptance speech. Trump now was going to ride fear-and-loathing right into the White House door. Not.

So, finally, against all of his instincts, he pivoted. But it was too late. He'd boxed himself in with his fiery rhetoric. It turns out it was what animated his base and turned off the larger electorate he'd need to actually win. So his pivot has shown him to be beyond cynical, beyond insincere. Donald Trump is, quite frankly, no longer Donald Trump. He's this other person with a fractured base and a larger electorate that sees him naked and unattractive.

Sorry, Donald, bad move. Maybe you can get a new reality show when it's all over. Call it "Celebrity Candidate," in which contestants build a campaign and then try to pivot. If they succeed, they win. If they don't, you get to shout "Loser!" and they leave the show, crestfallen.

Yeah, Donald, that might work out for you. But this president thing, that's over.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Stop the Presses! Trump Now Onboard with Immigration Amnesty

Donald Trump's signature issue -- from day one -- was round 'em up and throw them out. Now it's "I don't know, you tell me." Hey, Donald, that's not a policy. That's a waffle.

Trump is wondering what his immigration policy actually is. He says he
doesn't know, do they really have to go back if they're the "good guys?"
(Someone tell him that's amnesty.)

I guess when you pivot, you like fucking pivot, or something, or at the very least change your words. Yeah, that'll do it.

So very bizarre, but that's Trump National Spokesperson Katrina Pierson. But okay, what are these new words?

Yes, Trump is for amnesty for the "good guys." What's his base going to say?  I guess we'll find out soon enough.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

OMG, Neil deGrasse Tyson Is Neither a Libtard Nor a Repug!

Tyson has more fun explaining why he's an agnostic than, er, whatever. I used to be an atheist. Now I'm an agnostic. Why? Tyson.

A conservative decided to label Neil deGrasse Tyson a liberal. It did not end well.

I happened on to a Daily Kos post on a conservative trying to go all "libtard" on Neil deGrasse Tyson. Appreciate it here.

Tyson gave a well-reasoned response in which, among other things, he reacted to being called an atheist with a link to a YouTube video. Appreciate that here:

Many people already knew not to mess with Tyson. Another just found out why.

Stand Up If You Think America Needs a Better Retirement System

Face it, People: Republicans have been trying to gut Social Security and Medicare for years. But you knew that.

They're alive, they've got that going for them. Couldn't we do better?

One of the most irritating comments I get when I refer to success stories in other countries, like the cradle-to-grave social safety net in Denmark is, "Yeah, but that's Denmark." What the fuck does that mean? America sucks hard and can't do anything right?

No, that's not what that means. It means we're frozen in time in a Western movie full of rugged individualists muttering "Good fences make good neighbors." No, they don't. Good gates make good neighbors.

Before Social Security, old age meant unbearable poverty. Before Medicare, old age meant early death unless you were well-off and could afford insurance. Before the Environmental Protection Agency and clean-water and clean-air acts, it meant smog over vast numbers of American cities.

But I digress. So working together for a better America has paid dividends.

Our Social Security system is okay as far as it goes, but it doesn't go far enough. Now that most companies in America have abandoned defined-benefit retirement plans and the 401(k) plan has proven a complete flop, we don't need another retirement plan. We need to strengthen and expand -- by a lot! -- Social Security.

While I'm at it, let me throw in Medicare for all.

Stand up if you're for that, too. Oh, and if you're not, what's your excuse? Are you one of those "not one goddam dime of my tax money is going to pay for one goddam thing that doesn't help me, only me, me goddamit!"

Then you can explain, if you will, how a robust Social Security and Medicare system doesn't benefit you immensely. I'm quite sure you can't.

What you can explain is that, deep down, you don't want people you don't like to have a good life. A good life is reserved just for you, thank you very much. Oh, now I get it. Should have just told me. Didn't want to have to say it out loud, you say? I don't blame you.

I know. People, including me, can get a bit preachy about this, but remember: We all pay for Social Security and Medicare, and we all benefit by it. True, if you make more money than others, you pay more than others. But the system was designed that way, and what do we get as a society? Better health, better productivity, and less crime.

But people fall through the cracks. I have friends who worked all their lives but didn't do well and find that they only get $700 a month in Social Security. What happens to them?

That's a question we all know the answer to. If they're lucky, they live off friends or family. If they're not, they're what we call "the homeless problem."

Expand Social Security, expand Medicare. We are rich. Let's act like it, even if that means being like Denmark, which turns out to be a pretty good thing.

The Trump Campaign Isn't Pivoting, It's Melting.

Donald Trump has come to the conclusion that his heartlessness on immigration won't fly in the general election. So, obfuscating while hiding behind a "wall" will work?

Okay, I got nuthin'. So sue me...

Step one: Hire a new campaign team. Step two: Admit that your immigration scheme has alienated Latinos, Asians, Muslims, you name it. Step three: Say "We're going to build the wall" really loud but we're going to be "humane," "softened," we're going "to be determined."

Josh Marshall notices that this is not working, but it might be all Trump's got:
His policy of mass expulsion is toxic for a general election audience. Abandoning the centerpiece policy of his campaign is equally unworkable. It doesn't pass a laugh test and it would trigger revolt among his closest supporters. In the end, though, it's Trump and his campaign that sound most confused, brainstorming on the public airwaves some way to square a circle that seems impossible to square. Tonight's speech indicates the plan is to double down on the wall, simply ignore mass expulsion, say Hillary wants the country to be overrun by brown hordes.
It's seldom good when a campaign's supporters can't figure out where the campaign stands on a given issue. It's never good when the campaign itself can't figure out where the campaign stands on a given issue. It's seems ridiculous and adrift.
There's always a temptation with the Trump campaign to uncover some strategy behind what seems on the surface to be scattered, erratic or foolish. But Trump's Razor counsels against this. The truth is the Trump team has no idea what they're doing. Pundits may need a few days to unravel this. But this is at best simply an effort to play for time.
It's the same with his "new" approach to African-Americans: Your lives suck, you existing in a living Hell in inner cities, blah, blah, blah, vote for me, you decrepit losers. Marshall calls this the "Trump African-American Outreach Train." Sounds about right.

Meanwhile, Reince Priebus says that, because of Trump's new "measured" tone, he'll be "tied or ahead" by Labor Day. Yeah, right.

Third-party candidate Gary Johnson said he'd give up marijuana during the presidential campaign. That's all well and good, but it appears that some in the Trump campaign and the RNC have taken up the habit in his stead.

Monday, August 22, 2016

What Is Trumpism? It's the Politics of Resentment and Loss, Pure and Simple

Trumpism in a nutshell: My life sucks and it's you guys' fault. It's true, but with a twist.

Donald Trump experiences none of the things he decries. He tapped into
his followers' sense of loss and resentment for political gain. He's running
with it because it works. Does anyone else think it's a nasty thing to do?

The twist to Donald Trump's politics of resentment and loss is that those feeling it the most are the least able to articulate it and do something about it. But the elders in their tribe, the more successful non-college educated whites, embrace it because the sense that someone is stealing their American Dream is central to their tribe's ethos. Josh Marshall explains:
Two data points from the [Gallup] study seem much more telling to me. First, Trump support is highly correlated with areas experiencing rising mortality rates for whites - a massively important societal development, in addition to a tragedy for the many people affected. When that revelation was hot at the end of last year, some of the follow up debunking showed that a closer analysis of the data showed that the highest mortality spikes were among middle-aged white women. Critics said, well the angry Trumpers are mostly men, not women. So this argument falls apart. Once again, these correlations aren't that simple or linear.
The second, relatively little discussed, finding is that the people who are responding most to the anti-immigrant, anti-refugee politics are those most isolated from both groups. In other words, the people responding most to anti-immigration politics and xenophobia are ones living in fairly racially homogenous and white communities.
I don't want to attempt some grand overarching theory of Trumpism. But, broad brush, I continue to believe that it is best understood as a reaction to the erosion of white privilege, supremacy and centrality in American life.
That brings us to the second key point: Trumpism is about loss. And that loss is real. It's not just about being haters or uneducated or stupid. The fact that what's being lost is in most respects something that wasn't legitimate to have in the first place - status, centrality and racial privilege - should not blind us to the fact that the loss is real and that it will have political consequences...
It's here that Josh nails it: What's being lost is in most respects something that wasn't legitimate to have in the first place. One aspect of American life in a historical perspective is that slavery, followed by decades of racial marginalization and exploitation, has produced a racial and economic hierarchy that was never ours to rightfully exploit. We did so because we could, not because it was a justifiable predicate to our tragically misguided heritage.

It's striking that the loss of power and privilege that white folks are resenting -- what drives their "mad-as-hell" existence -- was never something they legitimately had a right to.

Try explaining that to the losers in our society. Funny, but the black poor know who to blame for their predicament, and in many ways they are totally justified. With the whites, too, it's not hard to figure out who to blame -- the blacks, the browns, even the white trash -- but what's missing is any justification, other than decades of taking our original sin for granted and failing to realize that it truly is our nation's original sin.

So, Donald Trump taps into this and runs with it. I find it contemptible, and there's nothing I can do about the approximately 40% of American voters who will push the lever for Trump. There's two things that help: knowing that he'll very likely lose and what he stands for will eventually be discredited and marginalized. It can't happen soon enough.