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.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Using the $400 Million Payment as Leverage to Retreive Hostages Was a Brilliant Stroke

Amid our toxic political landscape, smart diplomacy is taken as a misstep, even a crime. It's neither.

Obama is smarter than his opponents admit, so they toss political grenades
that generally miss their mark. The Iranian deal is just another example.

No, I don't know all the details of the Iranian deal, but I know the gist. 37 years ago the Shah was overthrown in Iran, a famous cleric took over, and in the resulting groundswell a number of U.S. diplomats were taken hostage. All Iranian assets were frozen in U.S. banks, and the situation remained that way until recently, when the Iranian nuclear deal unfroze a lot of things, including the Iranian assets.

(The 1979 hostages were released in 1980. The hostages in this story are different and more recent.)

I also remember -- amid the howling and gnashing of teeth that was the GOP reaction to the Iranian deal -- that they screamed bloody murder that the deal was approved without demanding that a number of American prisoners in Iranian jails be returned, as well. That didn't happen because the U.S. wanted the nuclear deal, so they separated out the hostages. And there we were.

And yet, boom!, weeks later the hostages were released, and all the opposition GOP could say was, "Er, uh, it should have been sooner!"

In the past weeks, the same GOP have been trying to link a payment of $400 million to the hostages, saying it was ransom. Donald Trump seized on it, and although he botched the "gotcha!" by citing a film that was actually the wrong film, but he and the rest of Republicandom got some mileage out of it, but not much.

The Obama administration played it down, saying the payment was going to be made and the hostage were coming home. That they seemed to coincide was just a coincidence. The administration stayed with that story until yesterday. Ahem.

Now, they admit the two events coincided for a reason: The payment was withheld until the hostages were released, as leverage to make the release take place. So, far from being a ransom payment, it appears now to be more of a master stroke. You want the money you have coming, you'd better fork over the hostages. And they did.

Well done, Obama administration. Play a little diplomatic hardball, and win. Thank you very much. Now, can we go back to making sense? (I doubt it.)

Oh Snap! Clinton's Private Email System Was Colin Powell's Idea.

The nothing-burger that Clinton's email "scandal" is just got nothinger.

It worked well for him, he told an incoming Hillary Clinton.

I've long thought that the Clinton email scandal was no such thing, but rather a contrived attack for political gain and nothing else. So was Benghazi, but we knew that. Ironically or worse, so did Congress, which continues to "investigate" her.

Now comes news -- probably an illegal leak of information only recently released to Congress under incredibly tight security -- that Hillary Clinton had asked Colin Powell, as she readied herself for her new gig at State, how his private email system functioned, and he recommended that she use a private email system for unclassified communication. He had done so with his AOL account, and it streamlined his communications because at that time, State didn't have a functioning email system.

Nobody's talking much yet about this revelation, as it's rather dodgy on a number of levels, including who might have leaked it, but Colin Powell's office has released a statement that generally confirms the new information.
Colin Powell's office in a statement said he could not recall the dinner conversation. He did recall describing the system he used to her, but the statement did not say he suggested Clinton do the same.
"He did write former Secretary Clinton an email memo describing his use of his personal AOL email account for unclassified messages and how it vastly improved communications within the State Department," the statement said. "At the time there was no equivalent system within the department."
He used a secure department computer to manage classified information, the statement said.
Clear enough for me, right? Secretary Clinton downplays the secure system, though she has alluded to it. Generally, we've gotten the impression she went to the classified system for classified communications and used her private system for a mix of personal and non-classified, job-related emails. I've always felt that she doesn't want to discuss the classified system because it's meant to be secret, and she's being a good soldier. Also, she's adopted the "it was a mistake, I now realize that" line because it's politically expedient to do so. I don't think she believes she did anything wrong with her email system, a position I've adopted since the beginning of this no-there-there kerfuffle, but Clinton can't say that because saying she did nothing wrong buys into the right-wrong duality, leading to "Yes, you did!" "No, I didn't!" and so on.

And, frankly, the one aspect of the affair that is shaky -- careless, if you will -- was the off-hand chance that her system would get hacked, and then there really would have been hell to pay. So far, so good on that score. In fact, government and political systems have been hacked left and right. Was Clinton lucky or prescient in her use of her private server? Hopefully, we'll never know.

Of course, these nothing scandals won't go away even after she wins the presidency. The GOP has their cudgels and they must use them, no matter how worn out they become.

To sum up: Clinton talks to a respected former Secretary of State, adopts his private-email-for-non-classified-communication model, uses it successfully for her entire tenure, and only comes under fire because of the Benghazi madness. Out of tens of thousands of emails, maybe -- maybe, State says only one -- three contained markings of something that could have been construed as classified or confidential, although the markings apparently run counter to State's own handbook on marking classified information, something FBI Director James Comey acknowledged during his testimony.

But, hey, GOP, keep flailing away. In this oddball political culture, it's been working, sort of.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

When I Want Something, I Shop. Many Americans Are Too Poor to Do That.

We don't think about this often, usually because we're surrounded by people who, like us, are doing okay.

These people aren't shopping.

I remember when I was about thirty-three a time when I had just closed a business and gone back to a music career and, er, let's say I had a serious cash flow problem. Yeah, I was broke. I had a car, a home, and maybe a bit of gas money.

The thing is, as down and out as I was, I never thought, "Holy shit, I'm screwed." What I thought was, "I'm okay, wait it out. Things will break." What happened next was I got a gig, got paid that night, then got another gig, and slowly worked out of my problem.

But the real secret was I was connected to my class. I could have crashed on a friend's couch, or gone home, or borrowed a couple of bucks. I didn't need to, I made it. But my class was my safety net.

Many people don't have that safety net. They're one lost job, one health problem away from catastrophe. They're often so poor, they can't shop.
Retailers have blamed the weather, slow job growth and millennials for their poor results this past year, but a new study claims that more than 20 percent of Americans are simply too poor to shop.
These 26 million Americans are juggling two to three jobs, earning just around $27,000 a year and supporting two to four children — and exist largely under the radar, according to America’s Research Group, which has been tracking consumer shopping trends since 1979.
“The poorest Americans have stopped shopping, except for necessities,” said Britt Beemer, chairman of ARG.
This is in the richest country in the world, or so we like to say. If it's true, then why are so many poor? If it's not true, then why do we say it?

If we wanted, could we fix it? What do you think? More importantly, how would you fix it? Seriously. How?

Trump Chooses Breitbart Boss to Lead Campaign. What Does It Mean? Go to (Sample Included)

Yesterday, Trump's campaign shakeup was news. Today, it's a catastrophe. Read on to understand fully.

The alt-right unloads on Clinton aide Huma Abedin with a horrifying gusto.

If you read, wear sunglasses, sunscreen, Deet, and maybe thigh-high waders, especially if you're going to read the comments. Also, get your shots.

I didn't get the implications of what Donald Trump's campaign-staff reset meant until I read Ben Shapiro's article in the WaPo this morning:
But it wasn’t until March 29 that Breitbart’s full embrace of the alt-right became clear. That’s the day the site featured Yiannopoulos’s lengthy piece glorifying the alt-right. Yiannopoulos had already given interviews in which he stated that “Jews run the banks” and “Jews run the media,” dismissing anti-Semitic memes as merely “mischievous, dissident, trolly.” He wrote, along with co-author Allum Bokhari, this insane sentence: “There are many things that separate the alternative right from old-school racist skinheads (to whom they are often idiotically compared), but one thing stands out above all else: intelligence.”
I went to Breitbart to get a sense of what Shapiro meant by that. You'll see what I found below. Before we get there, you need to know that until the Michelle Fields' incident Ben Shapiro was editor-in-chief at Breitbart. He left because Bannon preferred to cut Michelle Fields loose rather than support her against Trump's then campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who had literally manhandled Fields at a Trump rally.

Now, here's a sample of an article in Breitbart this morning connecting Clinton aide Huma Abedin to radical Islam entitled "Roger Stone: How Did Clinton Aide Huma Abedin Get Security Clearance, ‘Given Very Clear Ties to a Radical Offshoot of Islam?’":
“It is funny, yesterday there were quite a few Tweets online saying, oh, Steve Bannon and Roger Stone, they are advocates for the conspiracy theory about Huma,” Stone observed, referring to Breitbart News Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon, who has become the chief executive officer of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
“No conspiracy theory – this is really simple,” Stone explained. “Her parents were funders of the Institute for Muslim Minority Affairs, also active in the World Muslim League – both funded by the radical sheikh Omar Abdul Naseef, who also founded the Rabita Trust, identified by the Department of Justice as one of the funders of the attack on America on 9/11. Those are indisputable facts.”
“It’s ironic that Huma also comes out of the Institute for Muslim Minority Affairs, as did Mr. Khan, who of course got quite a bit of press at the Democratic convention last week. Two radical Islamic organizations,” he continued. (The Democratic convention was held July 25-28.)
“Why is Huma’s background important? It’s very simple: we know, since she went through all of Hillary’s email, to determine what we should see and what we should not, that she has therefore had access to Top Secret classified documents. How did this woman ever get a security clearance, given her very clear ties to a radical offshoot of Islam?” Stone asked.
Okay. That's where the Trump campaign is going. By the way, the Roger Stone quoted in the article is the same longtime Trump associate that worked in the campaign until he got too outrageous and they cut him loose. Now Stone is over at the National Enquirer, where he's up to typical Enquirer mischief in support of Trump.

Do go to Breitbart to read the above article, if only to learn what we're dealing with. And do visit the comments thread, though do take extra precaution (I don't know, bring a tube of Neosporin or something).

What will be left of the Republican Party after this election cycle plays out? We will find out, won't we?

Here come the flood of GOP OMGs:

In Talking Points Memo.

Liberal pundit E.J. Dionne echoes GOP insiders:
Bannon’s rise dramatizes the catastrophe GOP establishmentarians brought upon themselves by imagining that they could use the far right for their own purposes while somehow keeping it tame. Bannon’s European interests suggest he is far more impressed by right-wing third parties than by traditional Republicanism. He believed the anti-establishment rhetoric that Republican politicians deployed but never really meant when they were attacking President Obama. Now, the GOP faces the possibility of a real split.
The outlook at conservative National Review is less than sanguine.

The Washington Examiner, a conservative paper, is freaked.

Uber-conservative The Weekly Standard thinks Trump has embraced Breitbart's "Alternative Reality."

Bottom line: You sleep with white nationalists, you have white-nationalist babies. Welcome to the new GOP or the sliver of what's left of it.

USA and the UK: Trump and Brexit Are Bookends Across the Pond.

We could have seen this coming: Two white countries wanting to lock out the immigrant hordes. Good luck with that.

Boris Johnson leading the Leave side: Look familiar?

I found an interesting article in The Telegraph explaining Donald Trump as he appears across the pond.
Trump taps into that same strand of patriotic populism – "let’s make America great again" – but he roots his appeal in the anger of white working-class voters dislocated economically by globalisation. Free trade, off-shoring, immigration – all aspects and impacts of globalisation – have left them bewildered by change and often worse off too. Their rage against the elites is the fuel that has supercharged Trump’s campaign. But the "values" politics has always had a racial inflection. Mainly a dog-whistle, though in Republican strategist Lee Atwater’s infamous Willie Horton attack ad on Michael Dukakis – highlighting a Massachusetts furlough policy that released the murderer to escape and rape – it was more like a bugle call. Trump’s wall between the US and Mexico (paid for by the Mexican government) and the ban on Muslims coming to the country are firmly in an ignoble Republican tradition.
We think THIS IS TRUMP, but in reality it's recycled Republicanism. Who knew? (Hint: We should have.)

We see it differently here in the U.S. (Er, same only different.) Here's Neal Gabler in Salon:
Even so, you don’t hear much about PC in the political coverage of the election except when Trump is attacking it. One of his big applause lines is, “I’m so tired of this political correctness crap.” And there is a good reason why the media don’t like talking about this, even though Trump has been, in Nicholas Kristof’s words, “mainstreaming hate,” and even though Trump’s anti-PC scourge may be one of the lasting effects of the campaign. The reason is that the media have been anti-PC too. Now that Trump has tossed etiquette aside, they seem to be having second thoughts about what an anti-PC society looks like. Here’s the problem: It looks like Trump.
Given all the grave problems that beset us, political correctness would seem to be a rather slender one. That is the media’s assessment, too. Just about every political analyst and just about every political survey concurs that this election pits disaffected older working-class white males, largely without college degrees, against a cohort of the young, women, minorities and college-educated whites — a sort of “last gasp” election of a declining group against a bundle of ascendant ones.
These articles are bookends in different points in time. The Telegraph article was from last spring, before the Brexit vote and just as it was becoming clear how things were turning out in the U.S. primaries. Said Telegraph writer John McTernan:
The performance of Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio in the primaries shows that the activist base of their party doesn’t care. Come the presidential election they will reap the whirlwind.
"Reap the whirlwind." Wow, how prescient. Is that what we're seeing now? Oh my. Back in the UK, Boris Johnson rode the Brexit vote to the curb of 10 Downing St. He was denied entrance, perhaps because he was too crass. Is that Donald's fate, that he tears down the walls of civility while claiming to want to a build different one? Something's falling down, that's for sure.

Says Gabler:
Why are blue-collar whites angry? The media have an answer for that, too — essentially that these folks have been the primary casualties of globalization and immigration, Trump’s twin bugaboos. But a recent paper by Gallup senior economist Johnathan Rothwell challenges this assumption. From Rothwell’s data, those who view Trump most favorably were not particularly battered by globalization or immigration. In fact, they were surprisingly well-off financially — better off than those who supported Trump’s Republican rivals. Maybe that is why Trump hasn’t really talked much about his economic plan. He knows it doesn’t matter much to his base.
What Rothwell discovered is that those who view Trump favorably are racially isolated as well as isolated from immigrants. Their grievances aren’t so much economic or even sociological as psychological. These older whites are a group in despair — shrouded by a cloud of pessimism, loss and disempowerment, as Rothwell describes the nationalist tide in other countries similar to the one that is now bearing Trump.
The Brits thought the immigrants were coming to steal their way of life and had a spasm of fear that led to Brexit. The day after the vote, there was a spasm of wanting a do-over, saying it was a protest vote, as if they didn't really mean it. Well, actually they did, in their fear and anxiety. Now they have to suffer the fear and anxiety of being outside of Europe, and they don't know what's coming. They'll soon find out.

Over here, Donald Trump is igniting the same fear and anxiety. We can't leave the North American continent, but we can build walls. We haven't had our Brexit vote yet. Hopefully, we won't wake up on November 9th wondering how we elected Trump, saying it was a protest vote, wanting our own do-over. We won't get one either. Will we reap the whirlwind? Heaven help us, it didn't help our friends across the pond.

Update. I just caught news of this on Breitbart (shouldn't go there, truly odious!):

By which he means, of course, that the polls got that one really wrong. Holy crap.

Trump's War on Political Correctness: Letting the Prejudice Genie Out of the Bottle

Call it racism, religious liberty, "love" of country, call it whatever. It's permission to hate and mistrust "them," whoever "they" are.

There's a reason this is the face of Trump.

"They" are not "us." "They" are the bad ones, for whatever reason. That's the emotion Donald Trump seeks to free in us all, I'm sorry to say. Any way I can find to listen to it, that's what I hear in Trump's soliloquy: They're bad, they're crooked, they're corrupt, they want to steal from you, steal your rights, your money, your place in society. You could have it all, if only they'd stop with their sneaky corrupt food stamps, Medicaid, and so on. "They" have their secret, corrupt ways of taking what's yours, your tax money, your nice house, your nice car, your nice job. If you don't have any or all of this, it's "their" fault, not yours.

If you elect Donald Trump, you'll get to keep your stuff, all your Real True American stuff. If you elect Hillary Clinton, she'll let "the other people" steal all your Real True American stuff.

That's all bullshit, of course. Trump can't actually accomplish any of that, and Clinton isn't trying to take anything from you. But for the average white guy, this is what the "issues" boil down to. The average white guy feels he's losing, and Trump gives them permission to be really fucking pissed, and really fucking allowed to be incredibly angry about it.

No More Mister Nice Guy. Trump says that's OK. Hillary says sorry, let's be nice and work together to make progress as a society.

Trump lets you say, "That's fucking bullshit. It's my America, it's my stuff, it's mine, fuck off!!"

Sure, there are issues, but however any issue is dissected, for Trump's average white guy, the blacks, the Hispanics, the Muslims, the women, hell, even the Asians and the Jews, all of them, STOP TAKING AWAY WHAT WAS ALWAYS MINE, MINE. IT'S MY AMERICA, NOT YOURS.

That's how the issues are settled in Trump's politically incorrect world.

Is that what you want? That's not what I want. That's not the world we should live in.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

How Trump's Dark World Can Exist Next to Clinton's Brighter One

In sunny Sonoma, California, I feel good. My white counterparts in "threatened" white suburbia do not.

Did Trump choose to be this dark, or does he really believe it? Who knows.

Gallup just came out with a look at Trump voters. Says a lot about how different (white) Americas can exist side by side.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Trump Wants to Ally with Russia Against Terrorists. Putin Is Allied with Syria and Iran. What's Up with That?

Donald has delivered his "major" foreign-policy speech. It's tough and weird.

Donald Trump must owe Putin's buddies. Otherwise, he's beyond obtuse.

Vladimir Putin is clearly an ally of Bashir al-Assad. And now he's using Iranian bases to continue and intensify air attacks on Syrian rebels.

And yet Donald Trump spoke in his "foreign-policy" speech about working together with Putin on fighting terrorism. What gives? Hard to know. We do know he continues to lie his way through this campaign, and WaPo Fact-Checker continues to call him out. Here's their evaluation of Trump's foreign-policy pronouncements.

The "pivot" continues to underwhelm.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Is Fox News America's Information Chernobyl?

Not solely responsible, Fox News sits atop the pyramid of right-wing misinformation.

Roger Ailes came from politics, not news. And it was
(right-wing) politics he delivered.

The information freak show that is Fox News has by now so tainted our political discourse that sitting on the sidelines with a both-sides-do-it mentality is increasingly unpatriotic. Amid signs that Americans are becoming unhinged -- just watch this video from a Trump rally -- a real patriot (not the one in the video below) would worry that something in our national character is flying off the rails.

As the writer of the Salon article where I found this video says, the man pictured looks like any other mild-mannered grandfather until he explodes rather violently at the press corps trapped as they regularly are behind barriers at a Trump rally. Where does such rage come from?

Naturally some of that blame falls to Donald Trump, who, beyond banning many of the nation's top press from even attending his rallies and press conferences, often attacks and berates them from the podium.

MSNBC's Katy Tur, who by all accounts is a smart, well-mannered, up-and-coming reporter, just yesterday recounted the time Trump singled her out for derision, riling the crowd so much that a Trump staffer went to the trouble of making sure a Secret Service agent walked her out of the event when it was over.

Back to Salon:
Generally speaking, Trump supporters are non-college-educated white men, ranging from younger “bros” to, more typically, white male baby-boomer retirees with plenty of spare time to be relentlessly irradiated by Fox News and AM talk radio.

While the lack of a college diploma binds most Trump supporters together, there are more obvious tells — ones that we can plainly see but that can’t be fully measured by pollsters. Specifically, it’s not easy to quantify the growing resentment of white males who believe they’re slowly losing their millennia-long grip on societal power. Likewise, it’s difficult to measure the brainwashing of Trump’s loyalists by the Fox News and talk radio echo-chamber. Yet we see it on display every day.
These aren't random assumptions: According to The Atlantic, half of Fox News viewers are 68 years or older. I'll leave it to you to figure out what portion of Fox News viewers are people of color. (Okay, it's 1%). Now, the age figure begs the question: Does Fox News turn older people conservative, or do older people gravitate to Fox News because its take on the world is conservative? We could split the difference on that one, although if you've watched any evening news program, the onslaught of drug ads alone would tell you that TV news viewers trend considerably to the north of 60.

That only 1% of any African-American age group self-selects Fox News should clearly tell you that Fox News actively self-selects a white viewership.

But there's more to right-wing media than Fox News, and there's more to what happens to viewers and listeners than hearing what happened today or what drug is best suited to lower your cholesterol without giving you ED. This article, also in Salon, about a women who "lost" her father to right-wing thought I found personally disturbing:
Filmmaker Jen Senko noticed a disturbing phenomenon. Her father, Frank, was a goofy, fun, non-political dad who treated people with respect when she was a child. However, when she was older, she noticed her father would rant about “Feminazis,” listen to Rush Limbaugh and watch Fox News. He became the family pest, forcing one-sided discussions of conservative politics and becoming enraged and unreachable after watching Fox News.
This hit me personally because I have an older brother that hasn't talked to me in years. When we were younger, politics rarely came up, although having come from a strong FDR/Kennedy/Johnson-style family there was no doubt we knew where our family stood. I certainly did. So as my brother hit his mid-fifties and began to spout all most word for word the core message of Rush Limbaugh, I began to wonder what was going on. In my brother's case, he was chronically unemployed, lived alone in a studio apartment with a Murphy bed, without a TV, and I imagined him laying in bed listening to Rush on the radio. I inquired and, sure enough, he answered, "He makes a lot of sense."

No, he doesn't. He spouts hateful diatribes against all things liberal or "Feminazi." If you regard Rush Limbaugh as a force for good, stop reading now. You're a lost soul.

And so, it turns out, are a number of people who have been captured by the right-wing media machine. Says Jen Senko, who's turned her concern towards her dad and the Fox News Effect:
I felt like I could see the writing on the wall. I still don’t know why I could see it. I think, and this sounds weird, but when I was younger, I was really bullied, so that profoundly affected me in a lot of ways. When I first heard Rush Limbaugh, I thought he was a bully. My mother said that she was raised Christian and Limbaugh didn’t sound Christian or nice. I felt that when Hillary Clinton said there was this vast right-wing conspiracy, I felt: That’s it! That is happening! Even when Bill Clinton first became president, I felt the country was moving to the right. I felt the more I saw my dad change, and the more he became unrecognizable to us, the more alarmed I got. I talked to friends and a cousin who were very argumentative usually about the same topic and around the same time. It rang alarm bells to me. There was a very dangerous thing happening in our country. It was a phenomenon...
 I think that the greatest danger is that people are unwittingly voting against their own interests and democracy is being compromised. People are being bamboozled on a massive scale. They wonder why they are so unhappy. They blame Obama for everything and they don’t realize that the whole theory of “trickle down economics” have been fed to them through the media. It permeates everywhere. It’s not just Republicans. It becomes part of the language. The most dangerous part is that you have a country of half-brainwashed people. When I first used the term “brainwash,” it was done tongue-in-cheek; I wanted to evoke Red Scare films of the 1950s. But by the end of the film, and after interviewing neuroscientists, I believe people were or are being brainwashed. It’s just a different type of brainwashing—not coercive, but more subtle. It’s an insidious poison that’s seeping in through radios and TV sets, and it’s poisoning families. You have people fighting with their families. They are not blaming those who are at fault, but blaming each other.
Senko has recently released a documentary entitled "The Brainwashing of My Dad" in which she attempts to investigate how wide the spread of misinformation and toxic opinion has become. Example of Fox News' toxicity:

Bill O'Reilly's take on Benghazi is so wrong on so many facets that I would grow weary explaining it. Suffice to say that numerous congressional investigations, most if not all of them Republican, have cleared Secretary Clinton of any wrongdoing. But O'Reilly's noxious stew of misinformation renders a good part of the American news viewership quite nearly devoid of rational thought on the subject, much like the nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl left vast square miles of Ukraine uninhabitable.

It's that void that is being filled by Trumpskyites:

Indefensible. It starts with Ailes-style political rabble-rousing and ends up in a Trump-led movement of white males predisposed to violence by their adherence to racism, nativism, and sexism, amplified by their near-certain feeling that the rest of America has forgotten them.

As Jen Senko points out, the white working class has been bamboozled into voting against their own interests and seem intent on continuing to do so. Everyone should examine the Trump and Clinton economic plans carefully. One is good for the working class and the other is not. Then go into the voting booth with both eyes wide open. Oh, and switch off Fox News.

The Real Problem with Trump's Poll Numbers? Where to Spend the Money.

Where he can win isn't as important as discovering he can't take Arizona or South Carolina for granted, and that's expensive.

Politics is a money game, provided you know how and where to spend it.

Donald Trump raised about $80 million last month -- if he is to be believed -- and is involved in a increasing number of fundraisers, but he's oddly showing few signs of the things you spend money on in a campaign, like TV ads and campaign organizing.

TV advertising in Florida? Little to none. Organizing there? One office. One.

These missteps aside (Trump apparently thinks he doesn't need a traditional campaign), even if the RNC handles organization for the Trump campaign, the real problem is that too many states are in play to know where to defend. If Utah -- freaking Utah! -- Arizona, Georgia, even South Carolina are within the margin of error in polling, it becomes devilishly difficult to know where to put the money.

There's been a longstanding debate on how to organize for victory in national elections. Howard Dean was a proponent of the so-called 50-state strategy -- making a play in every state, if for no other reason than to draw the other side into counter-spending. Others have eschewed it, instead focusing on key swing states in order to pile up the electoral votes needed for victory.

It was generally conceded going in that Donald Trump needed to win at least two, if not more, of four key states, being Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina if he were to stand a chance in the general election. As it stands, his goose appears cooked at this point: He's behind in all four.

If that weren't enough, Clinton has put Virginia and Colorado out of reach, has built a small lead in Georgia (Georgia!), and is within a couple of points in Arizona, Utah and South Carolina. She may still be unlikely to flip those last three, but her strength there amounts to a kind of spending Waterloo for the GOP.

Strong candidates, even eventual losing ones, could make decisions of where to defend and where to concede. Republicans knew not to spend in places like New York and California and instead focus on Ohio and Florida. That's still true for the Trump campaign (assuming one exists), but to have to consider pouring money into Arizona, Utah, Georgia, and South Carolina means spreading your resources too thin. What you have to now spend in Georgia you can't spend in Ohio.

With Trump conceding much of the organizing on the state level to the RNC -- who are already panicked over defending Senate races that seem now more compromised -- the paltry staffing and advertising in states like Florida won't improve quickly enough if at all if money and effort needs to be shifted to hitherto solid red states.

This is where it stands in mid-August, a time when convention bounces have begun to settle and reality hardens. Trump's in a pickle, with donors holding him at arm's length while the GOP establishment tries to decide if and when to dump Trump in favor of down-ballot races newly tightened by the on-going Trump catastrophe.

It doesn't help that Donald Trump apparently decided that he can, as he did in the primaries, insult and shock his way to success. His apparent adoption in the general of an OMG-he-said-THAT? strategy hasn't helped.

These are days when Republican operatives and strategists have stopped pulling out their hair because there's none left.

Did I mention that this is Hillary Clinton's fourth national campaign, and she is not only in fighting trim but could also write the book on national organizing?

Friday, August 12, 2016

Why Trump Depends on the Ignorance of His Core Supporters

Trump famously announced loudly, "I love the poorly educated!" Now we know why.

You used to think the white working class was enough to drive you to victory. Nope.

Trump's comment about the poorly educated was in response to research showing the key demographic supporting him were whites who never went beyond high school. Sad but true.

Nothing is funny about ignorance. Yet we have to recognize that a well-established and sizable cohort of American society is characterized by how fundamentally ignorant they are and how that ignorance is strangely celebrated.

Sarah Palin epitomized it, a feature of her persona that John McCain failed to observe at his eventual peril. The core economic message of Republicans has relied on the lack of education of their base as they promoted, time and again, economic programs that ran counter to their base's own interests.

Who voted for these Republicans in droves? The poorly educated.

That alone, as we're beginning to realize -- Lindsey Graham recognized it quite early -- isn't enough to win a presidency for the GOP, especially when its figurehead is a megalomaniac like Donald Trump.

So here we are. I don't need to link to a hundred articles -- though I could -- that demonstrate how Donald Trump won the nomination by successfully shepherding the alienated white working class to the polls in enough numbers to obliterate what was obviously a pathetic field of opponents. What is truly shocking is that Donald Trump, along with his family and trusted advisers, failed to realize that his shtick wouldn't survive the general election.

As his post-convention campaign has rolled along, he increasingly depends on the gullibility of his supporters. He says what he does because it's worked at his rallies, and he's under the mistaken impression that his followers resemble the rest of America. Uh, they don't.

So he's wrong, but it's not funny anymore. The ever-lengthening list of false and reckless charges Trump flings at his opponents does more than depend on the ignorance of his followers. It will inflame them in the near term, to drive them to the polls in support of him, and then leave them riled up after he falls to ignominious defeat.

Donald Trump will have created an uncivil, frenzied, and, yes, dangerous mob that may believe "Second Amendment remedies" are called for in order to hang on to their guns, religion, and, of course, their dignity, as their white, male world in which they hitherto dominated slips from their grasp.

Once so riled, they may not go quietly, and that's unsettling to say the least. What's saddest about it is that the world they are prepared to reject -- one in which women, minorities, and immigrants can take their rightful place in a healthy and strong American society -- is a world in which all can prosper. What's more, it's the world that actually exists.

It's that world, whatever you think of her, that Hillary Clinton wants to help prosper.

Trump's Economic Plan: Cut Taxes on the Rich and the Corporations They Own

Wondering why the Republican establishment (mostly) supports Trump? He cuts taxes on the rich. Who loves ya, baby?

You expected me to raise taxes? What am I, freakin' crazy?

Ronald Reagan made tax cuts the centerpiece of his economic program (later, he had to back track, but who's counting?). George H.W. Bush broke his "no new taxes" pledge. He was a one-term president. Bill Clinton raised taxes and delivered eight years of growth. George W. Bush cut taxes on the rich and yet couldn't avoid a near-catastrophic economic meltdown. Barack Obama raised taxes on the very wealthy and has overseen an unprecedented 77 straight months of job growth, adding 15 million jobs.

So it's no surprise that Hillary Clinton doesn't mind raising taxes on the rich or that Donald Trump wants to lower them severely. But Donald Trump had no choice but to follow GOP economic orthodoxy:
But if “populist” Donald Trump wins, taxes on the wealthy will go way down; in particular, Mr. Trump is calling for elimination of the inheritance tax, which these days hits only a tiny number of really yuuuge estates (a married couple doesn’t pay any tax unless its estate is worth more than $10.9 million).
So if you’re wealthy, or you’re someone who has built a career by reliably serving the interests of the wealthy, the choice is clear — as long as you don’t care too much about stuff like shunning racism, preserving democracy and freedom of religion, or for that matter avoiding nuclear war, Mr. Trump is your guy.
And that’s pretty much how the Republican establishment still sees it. Getting rid of the estate tax is “the linchpin of the conservative movement,” one major donor told Bloomberg’s Sahil Kapur. Gotta get those priorities straight.
Should we be shocked at the willingness of leading Republicans to make this bargain? Well, we should be shocked — we should never, ever start accepting this sort of thing as normal politics. But we shouldn’t be surprised, because it’s just an extension of the devil’s bargain the economic right has been making for decades, going all the way back to Nixon’s “Southern strategy.”
You'd expect Paul Krugman to feel this way about Donald Trump's economic plan. Okay, so how about Bush speechwriter and conservative pundit Michael Gerson?
The Trump campaign clearly intended the Detroit speech to appease economic conservatives by sounding slightly less like Bernie Sanders. So he supported an end to the death tax (affecting about three-tenths of 1 percent of the public), embraced the House Republican proposal for a simplified tax-rate structure, proposed lowering the corporate tax rate; and promised a moratorium on government regulations. These ideas range from good to irrelevant. But they hardly constitute a new economic agenda. They are more like the least popular leftovers of the Reagan Revolution.
Ooh, snap. More:
First, the speech offered little serious or creative policy that might appeal to Trump’s most important political audience: working-class voters who feel shafted by economic change. There was almost nothing — just a single sentence promising a future proposal — about helping workers obtain the skills to succeed in a modern economy. Which means that Trump somehow gave a speech on economics that avoided the most urgent economic challenge of our time. There was nothing about increasing wage subsidies that would help less-skilled workers lead better lives — an idea endorsed by President Obama and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.). And Trump’s child-care proposal came in the form of a tax deduction, which would mainly benefit upper-income households (the campaign has since scrambled to consider major changes to this plan).
Gerson, who continues of late to be the most reasonable of conservative pundits -- and who rejected Trump's horrifying candidacy early and often -- ends his critique of the Trump plan by pointing out that it will blow up the deficit, raise prices on consumer goods by engaging in a destructive trade war, and will not only do nothing for but also do harm to the working class whites who are at the core of his constituency.

Oh, and lead to the further degradation of the Republican Party. Here Gerson and Krugman agree. And, not surprisingly, so do a growing number of the Republican elite, especially those whose livelihoods don't depend on serving the wealthy.

Again, Trump has trumped Trump. He had a chance to change the game with a "serious" economic plan. He whiffed.

Clinton's Economic Plan: Tax the Rich (a Little More) and Help the Lower and Middle Classes

Income inequality is bad for society, but it means there's money at the top to spend. Hillary says spend it.

She's become rich. Like Warren Buffett, she wants to be taxed.

Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have now laid out the essentials of their economic plans, and the differences are as stark as they were predictable. Trump wants to double down on tax cuts for the rich, and Clinton wants to tax the rich and pass the money over to programs that build infrastructure and enhance education.

Let's look at Clinton's:
Mrs. Clinton says her first priority is to create jobs, primarily through public investments in infrastructure, like roads, bridges, school renovations, affordable housing, water systems, electrical grids, broadband internet and renewable energy.
To help pay for the plan, initially $275 billion over five years, she has proposed several tax increases on high earners, including the “Buffett rule” for a minimum tax of 30 percent on those who make more than $1 million, a 4 percent surcharge on incomes over $5 million and a limit on deductions. Mr. Trump has also said he would rebuild the nation’s infrastructure. But the multitrillion-dollar income tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy in his plan would preclude such investments. And his plan to repeal the estate tax, Mrs. Clinton rightly pointed out, would not help a vast majority of Americans and deplete the Treasury of hundreds of billion of dollars of revenue.
Creating greater “fairness” in the economy is another priority for Mrs. Clinton — one to be achieved largely through tax policy changes. To help curb the decades-long trend of rising corporate profits and falling wages, she called for a new business tax credit to reward companies that have profit-sharing plans. Mr. Trump has said little about inequality and has no such proposal.
On helping low-income workers, she wants to raise the federal minimum wage to $12 an hour; Mr. Trump would raise it to $10 an hour, a position he adopted only recently and after saying that pay was already too high.
The choice is stark when it comes to child care: Clinton's plan would help more at the bottom, while Trump's would clearly help the affluent and barely touch the working poor.

Clinton's programs are largely paid for. Trump's are clearly not.

All the hoopla that surrounds a campaign -- especially given Trump's obsession with the outlandish statement -- can obscure what the real priorities are. It's the policy, stupid, and when it comes to policy, the meat and potatoes are in the economic plans. Read them, study them, and then make up your minds.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Trump Gunning for Votes: The NRA Loves Me!

While his support unravels even among Republicans, Donald Trump reaches out to gun nuts who swallow the "they're coming for your guns" meme.

I'll scare Americans, and you give me money. Deal?

Donald Trump trots out his two-fer on guns -- Hillary's going to take your guns away, so, er, buy some more and shoot her, OK? -- and it's hard to not notice that his double play has money at the heart of it.

The NRA is now piling tons of cash into ad campaigns on behalf of the gun-loving Donald (who knew how much he loved guns?), and no doubt his campaign is sending heaps of emails warning his swarm that, unless they send him cash, Hillary's going to personally steal their Glocks from under their pillows and give them to the gays to melt down into gay pride parade floats.

All this makes about as much sense as Obama and Clinton being the co-founders of ISIS -- can't make this stuff up -- but then Trump stopped making sense about ten minutes after the Democratic Convention finished, though we may never know the exact moment when he stopped making sense. The Wayback Machine may not go back far enough.

Speaking of melting down, Time has a piece on Trump's very own "I'm melting, melting!"

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Donald Trump Rewards Populist Base with Tax Cuts for the Rich!

So, Donald Trump "resets" by joining The Club for Growth, who can't stand him. Go figure. (You think he needs cash for his campaign? Hmm...)

Maybe Monopoly game references are passé, but it's weird that when
we were kids we were taught to be greedy, money-grubbing bastards.

Maybe the "poorly educated" working-class whites don't totally get that the GOP became a closed-loop mafia that fed money to the elite donor class so they'd toss them scraps in return, but you'd think they'd go WTF when Trump's jobs plan amounts to massive tax cuts for our super-wealthy corporate overlords. But you'd be wrong:
Donald Trump had an opportunity to be a different kind of Republican. Trump openly disdained traditional conservative elites — making a populist case that resonated with working-class white voters. He won the Republican nomination with hardly any support from conservative intellectuals.
But now, he appears to have decided that their ideas aren’t so bad after all.
"All Hillary Clinton has to offer is more of the same: more taxes, more regulations, more bureaucrats, more restrictions on American energy and American production," Trump said Monday in an economic speech delivered in Detroit. Of course, this critique goes both ways: With the important exception of trade, Trump’s economic agenda is little different from the one Mitt Romney ran on in 2012.
Trump’s speech contained a number of ideas that have become staples of conservative thinking, including repealing the estate tax or reducing the number of regulations in the federal register. The working-class voters who seem most attracted to Trump don’t particularly benefit from many of these ideas.
Let's see: Trump becomes a white working-class hero -- in spite of the fact that he's stinking rich -- and then turns around and acts like Mitt Romney when it comes to dispensing the spoils.

Hey, white working class: He never -- as in NEVER -- gave a shit about you. NEVER. Of course, go ahead and vote for him because Hillary's a bitch or something.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Where Today's GOP Begins and Ends

Richard Nixon ended the Kennedy-Johnson era with the Southern Strategy. His party has been rolling with it ever since.

Nixon scared America into submission, and Southerners were ready to take the bait.

Lyndon Johnson famously said that passing the Civil Rights Act would cause the Democratic Party to lose the South for a generation. He was wrong. Make it two, or even three.

That's where today's Republican Party finds its roots. Sure, Nixon was far to the left of where the GOP is today policy-wise -- It was Nixon, after all, who expanded Medicare and helped create the EPA -- but Republicans didn't start their wild swing right until Ronald Reagan primed the zombie-lie pump with supply-side economics and anti-union screeds. His famous “Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem” set the stage for government inattention to domestic policy, while nonetheless engaging in an expensive and at times inane arms race (can anyone remember chasing after "Star Wars" weapons?) with the Soviet Union. That GOP obsession with defense spending continues unabated.

Fast-forward to today. Donald Trump, far from being out of the mainstream of Republican thought, is smack in the middle of it. The central thing that disturbs Republicans about the candidate that they elected is that he comes right out and says it: Blacks are lazy, Jews make the best accountants, Mexicans are criminals and rapists, wives shouldn't work, and Muslims are dangerous and must be monitored at all times. (Not that you need it, but here's a link that verifies the remarks.)

I'm not just blowing smoke. Here's a link to a Vox look at the facts and figures, and below is a chart that is worth a thousand words:

Daniel Byrd and Loren Collingwood/TeleSUR

The more racist you are, the more likely you'll support Donald Trump. But we knew this. The GOP has known this all along, but why couldn't Donald Trump stick with the coded language and dog whistles that herded the white working class into line and got them voting against their own interests all those years? Dammit, Donald, the cat's out of the bag now!

Unfortunately, this is the party the GOP fashioned over the years, and they handed it off to Donald Trump, perhaps not willingly, but if you build it, they will come, and Donald came.

Yes, you built that. What did you expect would happen?

Channeling Nixon? Pretty obvious.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Secretary Clinton's Emails: What Really Happened

What really happened? Next to nothing.

We've been hearing about Hillary Clinton's email "scandal" for so long it's hard to put it into any meaningful context. So I'm going to do it for us. To do it, I'm going to severely reduce its moving parts. Bear with me.
  1. First, imagine a time before any of this story broke. That would go back to the end of Barack Obama's first term, when Clinton stepped down as Secretary of State and was replaced by John Kerry. Her approval ratings in the polls hovered around 65 percent.
  2. Then Fox News endlessly played up the Benghazi story as if it were the biggest scandal in modern history. Every investigation of Benghazi has led to a complete repudiation of Fox's "reporting" and exonerated Clinton.
  3. Because of this non-scandal, a House committee investigating it requested Secretary Clinton's emails on the subject. Here's the singular event that changes everything. No scandal, no investigation, no big deal.
Now, what would the story have amounted to if there were no email investigation? Here's how I think it would have ended:
  1. Hillary directs a process, at some point, to fulfill her obligation to preserve records. It would have proceeded just about the way it did, with her lawyers sorting through the emails and deleting the personal while preserving the job-related ones.
  2. It's possible that some knowledgeable member or two of her legal team might have said to Clinton that "You know, a few of your emails might have contained sensitive material," to which Clinton might have replied, "Hmm, yeah, sometimes my staff used the wrong system, but mostly this stuff is discussing publicly known information, and it wasn't marked classified, so I didn't sweat it."
  3. Then some of her emails got retroactively re-classified in order to protect information that some party or another deemed sensitive. This is routine, and wouldn't have been a cause of concern.
  4. Personal emails were deleted, and job-related emails were handed over to the State Department for vetting before turning them over to the National Archives.
  5. The server that hosted the email operation was then wiped and retired.
I can imagine it would end there with Clinton thinking no big deal. Why would she think that? Because it wasn't.
  1. There is no evidence that any sensitive material leaked.
  2. There is no evidence that the system was attacked or compromised.
  3. There is no evidence that Clinton ever actually knew any classified material passed across her email server.
  4. There is no evidence that she lied about anything.
When she discussed this on Fox News with Chris Wallace she was also telling the truth. She just didn't do it artfully. A day or two later she tried to address it using the fewest words possible. She doesn't want to talk about it, but if she did, she could quite likely say the following, and it would be true:
When I was interviewed by the FBI, I told them everything they wanted to know. Additionally, I shared with them what I had said publicly, that I never sent or received mail that was marked classified, or that I knew to be classified at the time. When James Comey said that he had no reason to believe that I wasn't being entirely truthful in my interview, in my eyes he was also attesting to the truthfulness of the public statements I shared with him. That's what I was attempting to say to Chris Wallace.
 And that's what most of us should just agree is likely what happened. Hillary Clinton, while in the office of the Secretary of State, used a private server for some, but not all, of her job-related email communications (there was another system hosted by the State Department for the real secret stuff, which Clinton also used. It may not have been an email system. We don't know because it's secret). Her personal email was co-mingled, leaving a bit of work before sending off the job-related stuff to the Archives. It's possible that no one would have made much of the fact that a few email conversations that passed across the private serve discussed information that may have been classified. It would have been "Hmm. That happened. Big whoop." The server was then wiped and retired. Clinton rode off into the sunset, was elected president, and was happy ever after.

Instead, this nation has been led on a wild goose chase, looking for evil where there is none and crimes where there were none. Meanwhile, we've got serious stuff to do. Can we get started? Please?

So my entire point is that, without the Benghazi craziness, the emails would never have been a thing. Why? Because they never were a thing.