Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Moving Targets

Every time we start looking at "Why did Democrats lose?' stories, we have to account for the fact that their policies are generally more popular and Clinton won a shit-ton more votes. Trump's share of the popular vote is roughly the same as Michael Dukakis's.

The other liability the Democrats labor under - and this is perhaps the biggest issue - is that creating policies is harder than attacking them.  Criticism is so much easier than governing.

And there is no better example of this than Obamacare.  As Jon Chait has cataloged for the past seven years, the GOP has been launching attacks against Obamacare that are factually untrue.  When that criticism is proven to be untrue, they simply repeat a slightly different criticism or create an entirely new one.  They constantly create a series of moving targets that are not contingent on ever being right in prior occasions.

In debating Trump with my father - and he's a NeverTrump guy - he has said, why judge him before he does anything.  But the point of judging him before he does things, is to test your hypotheses against future performance.  I believe a trade war with Mexico and China will create massive inflation in consumer goods, while leading to job losses in the short run.  Supply chains will be ruined; markets will be disrupted.  But I'm willing to test that hypothesis against whatever does happen.

Now, Trump being Trump, maybe he never engages in those trade wars, but it does seem to be the one issue he cares about.  Plus, I can predict that the GOP Congress will punch a massive hole in the debt with extraordinarily regressive tax cuts.  Again, if - for the first time ever - supply side economics really does create enough growth to bridge the gaps created by tax cuts, then I will stand corrected.

What I won't do is engage in the constant moving targets exercise that Republicans do constantly.  If the trade war doesn't create inflation in consumer goods, I won't shift my criticism to being that the trade war empowered China.  To be clear, I think the trade war will empower China, and that is another criticism.  But I will own my mistakes when they occur.

That puts me, and other Democrats, at a structural disadvantage in the political arena.  And given the rank ignorance of the body politic, that's an issue.  Trump will tout numbers that are false or misleading and our stupid media will pass those along, saying "opinions differ on whether these numbers are false."

But being the party of grown-ups and being the party of proper governance comes with a burden.  The question is how we transfer that weakness into a strength working within a system that doesn't care about truth.

Any suggestions?

Friday, December 30, 2016

Tovarisch!

There might not be a better example of how sharp the partisan divide is than watching Republicans basically excuse Russian interference in our elections, because it helped them win.  Also, Glenn Greenwald is a tool.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Listen To What They Say

My father keeps telling me not to judge Trump until he actually does something.  So that when he says he wants to start a nuclear arms race, I should just chill until he actually DOES start a nuclear arms race.  I mean, it would sort of be too late at that point, but he does have a point, in that Trump says a lot of shit, and who knows what any of it means.

Of course, when Presidents speak, the whole world listens.  Trump is so impulsive and so amateurish in his policy vision that the rest of the world will have a hard time figuring out what the hell he really means and what is bullshit.  I think Trump thinks that's the point.  But once Iran has a nuclear weapon or China launches an attack on Taiwan, it's kind of too late.  Again.

So right now, just listen to what the GOP Congress is saying.  They are normal politicians, and they will try and do what they say they want to do.

And what they want to do is chilling as shit.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Today In Federalism Making Things Not Suck

John Kasich (Party of Lincoln-OH) has vetoed a law that would have gutted state regulations that create cleaner energy.  Kasich is not a moderate in any objective meaning of the word.  But he is also not a fabulist, living in an imaginary world where global warming doesn't exist and the future can be averted if we just hold our breath until we turn blue.

I'm telling you, people, 2018 needs to be about winning as many governorships as possible.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Seriously?

Trump wants to build more nuclear weapons? Not improve what we have, but simply build more?

Why the fuck would that make any sense...Oh, right...Trump.

Anyway, here's a good take on why this is stupid.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

We Told You That You Were Being Lied To

When snooty coastal elites pointed out that Trump was lying to the rubes Real Muricans, it was pointed out that we just "didn't get" what Trump was really saying.  "Take him seriously, not literally" is "literally" nonsensical.

Politicians always try to do what they say they will do on the campaign trail, but Trump isn't a politician.  He's a con artist.  So, we have yet another example of Trump's mendacity on display.  He's not going to "drain the swamp" he's going to stock it with water moccasins and pythons.  He's going to take away health care from tens of millions of Americans and throw the insurance markets into turmoil.

And while Trump is not a politician, he has appointed a few to key posts, and they are working to end Medicare as we know it, funnel even more wealth to the 1% and dismantle the regulations that keep our products, workplaces and environment healthy and safe.

Oh, and he is SOOOO starting a trade war with China that will prompt a global recession.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Dumpster Fire

My feeling is that Trump will prompt a global recession, primarily because he believes people like these idiots.

Dubya Bush was profoundly incurious about a lot of things.  That led him to make shoddy decisions.

He's fucking Einstein compared to Trump.

Repeat After Me

The Republicans don't give a shit about deficits.

The Big Lie at the heart of modern "conservatism" is that they give a rat's ass about deficit spending.

They don't want to spend public funds on the bottom 75% of society.  Full stop.  That's it.

They want to give more money to the top 1%, with enough scraps to the top 25% that they can win elections when they combine it with appeals to white nationalism.

The Republicans don't give a shit about deficits.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Today In Counterfactuals

Scott Lemieux examines the argument of whether Sanders could have won.  Since the "Hamilton Electors" gambit went down, pretty much all Democrats have left is to refight the 2016 primary I guess.

I don't think Sanders would have won.  Clinton ran well with POC, but she didn't run well enough.  Sanders would have done worse, I think.  I also think the opposition research on Sanders was full to overflowing.

The argument for Sanders is that Trump won on "economic anxiety" and therefore a social democrat could have neutralized that argument.  I find that very unpersuasive.  Trump won because of status anxiety, not economic anxiety.  Economics is part of it, but the entirety of status anxiety has to do with race and geography as much as it has to do with economics.  Economics aren't unimportant, but given the number of Trump voters who are surprised that Trump and the GOP are about to take away their health insurance, I don't think speaking to the Trumpenproletariat's sense of economic unease would have solved anything.

Lemieux brings in Biden, and that's an interesting case.  Biden has a couple of things going for him that Clinton and Sanders didn't.  Over Clinton, he wouldn't have the "unlikable" label hung on him, he's a fine speaker, he's tied very closely to Obama, which would help with POC.  Over Sanders, he's not quite as wild eyed, he's built bridges to communities across the US and he projects as a fighter and not just an angry old crank.

Given how close it was, I think Biden would have won.  He's appealingly authentic enough to the WWC voters to blunt just enough of Trump's appeal.

Clinton...Sanders...Biden...whoever you feel would have been the best candidate, that's kind of irrelevant, since you can never prove a counterfactual.  The one thing that seems painfully clear from the Democrat's history with the White House is this: Do NOT nominate a technocrat.  Dukakis, Gore, Kerry, Hillary...that won't do it.

Nominate someone who can bring the heat as well as the light.

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Wages Of Wrongness

Donald Trump and Paul Ryan are both engaged in pushing forward an agenda that has proven to be spectacularly wrong.  Trump's elevation of economic crank Larry Kudlow is a great example of this, as Chait catalogs.

This is why, at every opportunity, Democrats have to tie Trump with chains to the GOP.  Their policies are bad.  They will make things bad.  Because they lack the restraints that even Dubya operated under, I expect they will make things bad more quickly than he did.

If that happens, Digby's Law will be invoked: conservatism never fails, it can only be failed.  As soon as Trump drives the economy into the ditch and starts a few unnecessary wars and crisis, it will be pointed out that he was really a Democrat all along.

Democrats can't let that happen.  This is the same crap the right has been shoveling onto us for decades.  It is destroying the economic fabric of our country.

They have to own it.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Manchester-By-The-Sea

Last night, I saw one of the best movies I've seen in a year full of great movies: Manchester By The Sea.  As I described it to a friend, a great eulogy makes you laugh and cry in equal measures and the movie was a lovely eulogy for a man who is still alive.

This morning, I rummaged around to read reviews on the film, which was mostly very well received.  However, there were more than a few reviewers who discussed the movie in terms of race, especially the Sad White Person genre (which I didn't know existed).  There were talks about privilege, which I found baffling, because the movie deals with a freaking janitor suffering from depression so deep it touches the earth's core.

I understand that discussions of white privilege are precisely about people like the one's in the film, who don't have to add racial anxiety to the otherwise shitty conditions in their life.  But while I agree that discussions of white privilege are important, blanket accusations of "privilege" make no sense in the context of many WWC.  In fact, all they do is engender the sort of backlash that creates Trump.

This is at the heart of the identity politics/economic populism debate that is currently roiling the Democrats and the Left.  In some ways, this is just another form of weird preferences of the Left for moralism over coalition building.

Anyway, it's a helluva movie.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Anti-Democrats

The GOP is engaged in incredibly scummy behavior in NC.  Look, I understand that "politics ain't beanbag."  The one thing that disturbs me is the outright assault on the fundamental principle of "one person, one vote."  My guess is that Clinton lost NC because of GOP voter suppression.  Maybe not, but it was close enough.

As we enter Trumpistan, and we see an economic collapse from terrible policies, plus a war, the GOP will need to rely on assaults on democracy in order to stay in power.

This will get worse.

(Although it looks like there is a plan to fight back.)

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Normalizing Trumpism

Again, to support the "by any means necessary" Hamilton Electors gambit, I offer this chart.  It shows, powerfully, the effect of Trumpism multiplied by increasingly high partisanship.

Agree To Disagree

I'm normally a fan of Jon Chait's writing, but I think he's 100% wrong on the issue of the "Hamilton Electors."

Chait says we shouldn't be gaming the EC to deny Trump the presidency.  If this isn't the moment for the electors to engage in a critical examination of the results, then there is LITERALLY NO PURPOSE TO THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE.  If electors are simply ciphers for the state-by-state popular vote, then why have human electors at all?  If we take Hamilton's word for it, one of the purposes of the EC was to deny the presidency to people exactly like Trump.

Secondly, if the Hamilton Electors gambit pays off and tosses the election to the House, that would allow the Republicans to really and truly own the trainwreck of whatever comes next.  Let's say it goes to the House, with each state getting an equal vote.  Republicans enjoy control of 32 of the state delegations.  Democrats control 17 with one delegation split 1-1.  In other words, let's say 40 Trump electors defect to John Kasich.  That would send the election to the House, where they would have to choose between Trump, Clinton and Kasich.  If they choose Trump, they truly own everything that comes next.  If they choose Kasich, they not only own the Randian dystopia of Republican shitty policies, but they also own the anger of the Trumpenproletariat.

Win-win.  (In fact, arguably the worst result for the Democrats would be the GOP throwing the election to Clinton, and creating a four year run of a lame duck.)

Finally, Chait says that the Democrats should eschew "gimmicks" in order to practice normal opposition politics.  He notes, as I do, that Trump is likely to be VERY unpopular, and he notes, as I do, that Democrats need to start building towards 2018 and 2020 today.  But planning for 2018 and 2020 does not have to come at the exclusion of the Hamilton Electors gambit.  You can do both.  You should do both.

While I agree that the Democrats should hone their strategy as an opposition party, they should not count on usual methods working.  Trump has managed a Chait put it to "suborn his followers into facially absurd lies."  The rampant abuse of the notion of objective truth is the hallmark of Trumpism.  Four years of a Trump regency would further exacerbate what is already the most chilling political fact about the American political system: one of it's two major parties is factually illiterate.  Given the level of polarization, four years of Trump will simply create a cohesive mass of tens of millions of Americans who will believe what Trump says, even if you can prove it to be factually ridiculous.

Trump or Kasich will pursue an agenda that is deeply harmful to American civil rights and liberties, voting rights, economic opportunity and equality and America's role in the world.  That's GOING TO HAPPEN.

But Trump represents a threat to the very idea of objective reality that Kasich simply doesn't.

That makes the Hamilton Elector gambit worth the effort.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Common Clay Of The New West

You know...Morons.

When you read that piece - and you should - you need to really dig deeper into the reasons why the WWC continually votes against their economic interests.

First of all, as this fine fellow pointed out, they don't necessarily define their interests in economic terms.  You hear echoes of it in the interviews about wanting Trump "to shake things up."  You also hear, repeatedly, incredulity that the GOP would be so cruel and callous as to wrench away health insurance from tens of millions of Americans.  Simultaneously, you hear carping about the unwieldiness and expense of ACA.  But as much as they bitch about it, they need it.

Usually, the conventional wisdom that says politicians lie about their plans is wrong.  Politicians almost always try to accomplish what they say they want to do.  In fact, that's exactly what GOP House members are doing when they talk about cutting Social Security benefits, ending Medicare as we know it and, yes, repealing Obamacare.

This is the wages of cynicism, sure as the voters who pulled the lever for Jill Stein.  These voters assumed that Trump wouldn't do what Trump said he would do.

And it will kill some of them.

So, they aren't voting against their economic interests.  They are voting FOR their ethnic and racial interests.  They are placing a primacy on their whiteness and ruralness over their economic well being.  Hey, I get why a rich guy voted for Trump out of the cynical understanding he would get more money from tax cuts.  Sickens me, but I get it.

What we have seen from WWC voters - especially in the South, and what is rural Pennsylvania but Pennsyltucky - is a repeated denial of their economic interests in preference for their racial interests.

But, yes, let's talk about how Clinton had a messaging problem.

Funny, Not Funny


The Anti-Government

Eugene Robinson makes an interesting point: Trump is not assembling a government, but an anti-government.  People with no relevant experience in either government or the agencies they purport to lead.  The good news is that Rick Perry might finally remember the name of the Energy Department.  Ooops!

Business leaders have a single goal: maximize shareholder value.  It gets beaten in to the them in business school.  That is exactly not the goal of a cabinet secretary, whose job is to bring the best policy results to the greatest number of people.

This will be the most corrupt and incompetent administration in our republic's history.  The difference is that the federal government didn't have enough power in Grant or Harding's day to make it dangerous and there was considerably less money to steal.

But by all means, let's discuss Hillary's emails and how both sides blah blah blah.

Monday, December 12, 2016

This Is Important

So read it.

I Have Yale Law On My Side

Heather Gerken, a law professor at Yale, has taken up my call for progressive federalism.  To be fair, since she's a fancy pants grad school prof, she takes it in other more interesting directions.  Her argument is about policy and how federalism can shape policy.

That's a critical part of my thinking, too, but I also want to cast this as a political strategy.  Gerken mentions spillovers, which is how one state's actions affect other states.  These can be negative - like when one state stops regulating gun purchases and the neighboring state is suddenly awash in guns - but it can also be positive.

California is currently progressive America's best hope.  It has an extraordinary market share of the economy.  If it could combine with New York and Illinois, it could basically shape important aspects of our economy, from fuel efficiency standards to consumer financial protections.  The GDP of those states is around $4.6B.  That's roughly the same GDP from those three states as the GDP of all the states Trump carried except North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas.  And North Carolina and Pennsylvania have Democratic governors.

All I would add to the debate is the idea that blue states need to work together on certain issues.  New England and New York could get together and set a new minimum wage.  The Pacific coast states could set common energy standards.

But it has to be public, because the most important elections of 2018 might very well be the governors' races.  Democrats need to start party building at the state level.  Winning governor's mansions in Florida, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio and Wisconsin should be just as important as playing defense in the Senate in a rough electoral map.

This will require three things.

First, it will require an aligned federalism that brings blue states into cooperation with each other to create progressive policies that improve the lives of their citizens and creates a blueprint for other state level candidates to run on.

Second, it will require finding good candidates at the state level who can win those gubernatorial races. No more goddamned Martha Coakleys.

Third, and perhaps most difficult, is getting a DC-bound Democratic party to see the benefit of expending resources on these governor's races when they will be playing defense in the Senate.

Now, if Trumpism is as disastrous as I think it will be, then you can do both.

But the time to start doing both is now.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

WTF Are We Supposed To Do With These Assholes?

There is literally nothing that exists as truth to these sons of bitches.

An Amplification

Here is what is so terrifying about the Russian involvement in this year's election: the GOP will basically defend it because it brings them into power.

This point needs to be repeated, because it's critical to get beyond this bullshit false equivalency.  For every Bernie Bro or Steiniac who was saying that there isn't a dime's worth of difference between Republicans and Democrats?  You look like idiots.  Absolute simpering, drool-on-yourself idiots.

We have a great deal of evidence - both hard and circumstantial - that Russia wanted Trump to win and worked hard to make that happen.  When these allegations are made public, most of the GOP leadership responds by...attacking the CIA.  Really?

Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are basically willing to let a foreign power fuck about in our elections, because it gets them closer to funneling tax cuts to the richest 1% and deregulating Goldman Sachs and the petrochemical industries.

They literally are willing to see democracy undermined if it means getting their (unpopular) agenda across the president's desk.

Trump will be a terrible president.  He will likely - in no particular chronological order - crash the global trade networks, sparking a recession; start an unnecessary war; engage in unprecedented corruption and personal enrichment; undermine public discourse and unravel centuries of established political norms.

And when the bill comes due - providing there is an election worth having - it is incumbent that we don't allow the GOP to divorce themselves from this shitshow.

They own it, because they can't get beyond the zero-sum political discourse of "anything Democrats say must be the opposite of what we want."

Ugh.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

This Is Why We Are Pissed

In our upcoming New Year's congregation of several families, we have agreed to ban political discussions in order to maintain a sense of comity.  OK.  This came from one member of the group who apparently said, "You lost, get over it."

I think there are a fair number of Republicans who see it this way.  We had an election, the Republican won and now Democrats won't stop crying about it like little babies.

The problem with this thinking is that it fails to encompass how fundamentally radical this transformation could be if we DO stop protesting and fighting about it.

Russia interfered in our electoral process in order to elect a psychologically imbalanced neophyte.  Republicans - led by Mitch McConnell - stopped the intelligence agencies from publicizing this information prior to the election, because they wanted to win more than they gave a shit that we were electing a psychologically imbalanced neophyte.

Clinton won a substantial plurality of the popular vote.  Trump literally won on a technicality.  He is the least popular person ever to enter the White House, and that unpopularity is likely only to increase.

He has empowered a cabal of the most radical people to ever hold power in this country.  I'm saying that as a historian and I'm sorry/not sorry if it comes off as hyperbolic.  They want to - in no particular order - cut Social Security benefits to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy; privatize Medicare; toss 20-23 million people off their health insurance; roll back as much environmental protection as they possibly can; and of course, FSM only knows what they will do to race relations and immigrants.

Paul Ryan's fiscal plan is a nightmare of upwards redistribution of wealth - already the most pressing economic problem we face, and ironically the thing that "elected" Trump.

So the Trump administration can be summed up in the following ways:

- Of dubious electoral legitimacy, due to outside interference and a failure of the Electoral College.

- A magnification of the concentration of wealth in the 1%.

- An assault on the environment.

- An assault on non-whites.

- An assault on women.

This is why we can't "get over it" because we lost.  The Republican Party, over the course of the 21st century has become a radical outlier.  They have embraced an extremist agenda of plutocracy, anti-science and vote suppression.  This accelerated after Democrats took over the Congress in 2006 - prompted in part by the GOP efforts to privatize Social Security - and so there has always been a buffer between the radicals and the commonweal.

That's gone.  We lie naked and exposed to the worst impulses of the Tea Party and the Robber Barons.

My own estimation is that these policies are going to be a disaster.  Hopefully, they will be a disaster soon enough to flip at least one house of Congress in 2018.  But they will eventually be a disaster.

When that happens - and hopefully there will be enough of America left to salvage - it is incumbent to make sure that we understand the history of these years.  It's important that we understand the following.

Donald Trump is not going to screw us over and run us into a ravine.  The Republican Party is.  They are inseparable.

Friday, December 9, 2016

This Is A Good Idea

Let's move some governmental agencies to the Rust Belt.  Personally, I would add Montana and Wyoming to that list, because why the hell not.  If you were to move the National Geologic Survey and National Weather Service to Missoula, that would have a pretty nice effect on that state's education demographics.  Frankly, there needs to be a way to un-do the Big Sort.  You can't really coerce private enterprises to do so, but if you moved the National Health Service to Cleveland, you would really change aspects of that community for the betterment of all.

Yes And No

The argument that Trump can be popular by divorcing himself from his own policies is an...interesting one.  Presidents get blamed for everything.  They get blamed for the weather.

The Trump Two Step is legitimately a thing.  Trump is adept at changing the subject from poor policy decisions by doing or saying something outrageous.  When a truly troubling story comes out, he quickly does something like insult the cast of Hamilton or pick a fight with some average citizen.  And the press - like the freaking morons that they are - follow the shiny object of the latest Tweet and lose the thread of what's really important.

However...Trump's policies are objectively bad ones.  He might get a short term bounce out of some of them, but they are mostly crappy and unpopular ideas.  If Paul Ryan tries to privatize Medicare or Tom Price shuts down ACA or there is massive fraud in the infrastructure projects or there is an oil spill that the EPA ignores...that will accrue to the President.

Also, some of the ideas that Trump really does seem to care about - notably trade - are also objectively bad ideas.  Rumors of a 45% tariff on Chinese goods?  That's a colossally bad idea. Same with withdrawing from NAFTA.  If tens of thousands of people start losing their jobs AND the price of many consumer goods goes up, then Trump won't be able to distract the masses with a Twitter fight with Lady Gaga.

Increasingly though, the key to surviving Trump is allowing him to pick these trade fights, while opposing rollbacks of important programs domestically, then reaping an electoral harvest in 2018 that will allow them to investigate what is sure to be massive levels of corruption.

Two things to remember about this election.  First, Democrats won a bunch more votes.  Second, Trump voters are fickle and likely to stay home or flip back to Democrats if they feel betrayed.  This isn't the hardcore Teanderthals I'm talking about, but those counties that went from being 60-40 Romney to 80-20 Trump.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Collapse Of Norms And Competence

This story is both nothing and everything.  Trump wants his "employees" to sign non-disclosure agreements.  What he fundamentally fails to understand is that the federal government employees do not work for him.  They work for the Federal government.

Trump, like most civic illiterates, has no idea how the government really works and has no idea that the President is not an emperor.  He cannot expect the standards that he applied in the private sector will apply in the governmental sector.

The problem is that currently there is no branch of government willing to hold him accountable for violating laws and norms.  The GOP has long been "an insurgent outlier" - in the words of Norm Ornstein - when it comes to violating rules and norms.  So if we are expecting the House or Senate to rein him in, we are bound to be disappointed.

Obviously, the minority party has a role to play and theoretically journalism can expose issues.

Those are pretty weak reeds to lean on.

The Democrats have never been especially adept at opposition.  They fundamentally want to govern, not obstruct.  They have to learn to obstruct.

As for journalism, there is a growing consensus that much of Trump's victory was accomplished by a feckless, conflict-driven media that led to relentlessly negative coverage of Hillary Clinton, especially in the final weeks, with Comey's bullshit interference and the need to express "fairness and balance" by equating Clinton's run of the mill bureaucratic fouls with Trump's egregious behavior.

In some ways, I can see Trump not even running again in 2020, if we make him miserable enough.

Let's get to work.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Holy Crap

Allen West might be the craziest person in modern politics.  I wouldn't put him in charge of the Department of Redundancy Department.  I bet Trump makes him Secretary of State.

Help Us, Ivanka-Wan Kenobi; You're Our Only Hope

A lot of people are understandably dubious about Al Gore's meeting with Donald Trump.  As always with Trump, you have to be careful not to fall for the optics and focus instead on the actual steps being taken.  Just about every single policy decision that Trump has embraced would be disastrous for the environment.

But I think Martin Longman is right.  You take the shots available to you.  Trump will be president.  It is possible the only thing that can keep him sane are his children and we all agree that Ivanka is the "smart one."  If I were an interest group advocate, I would be working Ivanka as a resource to try and moderate her father's knee jerk contrarianism.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Damn Straight

Josh Marshall is correct that Democrats and liberals can't fall into our reflexive political contortionist posture.  We have absolutely zero reason to bend over backwards for the "New Normal."  Trump is a con man and a kleptocrat, and I anticipate that this will be the most corrupt administration in US history.

Don't reason with this fraud, fight him.  And this is where the great mass of angry activists can make a real difference.  Not with Trump, but with our elected Democrats who have a reflexive ability to try and wrap themselves around what they think are our institutions.

Those institutions are rubble.  Get used to it.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Cause And Consequence

That will be the name of the Jane Austen novel about the Trump Era.

Josh Marshall has a very good analysis of Trump's Taiwan call.  He notes that every once in a while, we should challenge closely held shibboleths of our foreign policy.  I would suggest that re-examining the closeness of our relationship with Israel every one in a while would be a good thing.

What is instructive about Trump is that he neglects the consequences of pretty much everything he does.  For the most part, throughout his life he has glided over responsibility for his mistakes.  Wealth is funny that way.  It will be interesting to see how much he can change at age 70, as the world makes it clear to him that he's fucking up.

Again, as Marshall notes, Trump is surrounded by a very hawkish group of advisers.  And he himself is largely ignorant of things.  I confess that I myself was ignorant of the elaborate kabuki that surrounds communications between the US and Taiwan.  I am not however ignorant of the tensions in this three way relationship.

Trump has already introduced friction into our relationship with China...excuse me, Jina...with his trade-based economic nationalism.  Now he's made a yuge blunder, and given his nature will likely double-down.  Maybe we poke our noses further into the chaos of the South China Sea disputes.

For years, I have been telling students that the US and China will not go to war, because we are too intricately bound to each other via trade and other contacts.  This is the whole point of the Bretton Woods trade liberalism program.  You don't shoot your customers.

Trump's ignorance, belligerence and impulsivity throws all that up for grabs.  So, for the first time, I will have to say that perhaps we will go to war with China.  Simply because of who sits in the White House.

Marshall makes an interesting connection between the Cheney-Hawks wing of the GOP and the collapse of the Agreed Framework that controlled North Korea's nuclear program.  Clinton had put in place a framework that kept PRK from getting nukes, in return for some modest economic benefits. Cheney and Stephen Yates - Trump's new China advisor - scuttled that and, surprise!, North Korea proceeded to get a nuclear weapon.

Anyone want to bet that we will scuttle the Iranian nuclear deal?  Anyone want to bet Iran gets a nuke?  Anyone want to bet Saudi Arabia follows suit?

Institutions function, because we don't pay any attention to them most of the time.  They are like traffic laws.  We can bitch about having to stop at a stop sign at 12:40 AM, but I think we'd notice if suddenly all traffic laws went away, and not in a good way.

I put the odds of America getting in a shooting conflict over the next four years at 40-60 in favor.

They won't be able to help themselves, and it worked for Dubya.  I doubt it will have the same impact for Trump in a post-Iraq world.

But I've been very wrong about this man and this country so far.

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Moral Is: Don't Nominate HRC Again

Jon Chait does the best post-mortem yet of the election.

His takedown of Bernie Sanders is important to read, too.  I would quibble that we may come to see James Comey's actions as decisive, but it's clear that Clinton's liabilities were what allowed that to BE decisive.

This is a key 'graph:
The most unpopular nominee in the recorded history of polling managed to very, very narrowly beat the second-most-unpopular nominee in the recorded history of polling in handful of swing states, while losing the national vote by 2 percent. Because of this, Democrats can escape their nominating disaster. Republicans can’t. None of us can, course — a fact that is very bad for the country, but also good for the opposing party.

Here is the genesis of my new word: Trumpenfreude (n), A state of taking pleasure in the failures of your national government because it proves you were right about an overgrown racist Oompa Loompa becoming chief magistrate.

His conclusion is particularly apt:
The party that needs to search its soul about whether it has the capacity to govern competently is not the one out of power. And what should concern Democrats is not whether they’ll get back in power but what will be left of the country when they do.

And that's the downside of Trumpenfreude.  I firmly believe that - if we have free and fair elections - Trump loses in 2020.  Perhaps in epic fashion.  But he could so damage the country that digging out from his mess could be beyond the powers of any one party.

America has had a nice run as a "hyperpower," but those days are likely over.

Make American Mediocre Again.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Take Your Medicine!

I hate rooting against America, but Trump has kinda lead me to that place.

I have no idea if Obama had some sort of Vulcan mind control over OPEC, but it's fascinating that OPEC has finally decided to jack up prices.  Are the Saudis doing this for their own fiscal needs?  Most likely.  But are they sending a right cross to Trump's jaw for his anti-Muslim rhetoric?  Could be.

One of the real reasons we've had fair economic winds the last two years have been incredibly low oil prices.  If that changes, the US economy will drag some.  Add in a trade war or two, and....

The Robots Took Our Jobs


The blue line is manufacturing output in the United States.  The red line is employment in the manufacturing sector.

It wasn't Mexicans.  It wasn't the Chinese.  (I mean, yeah, that didn't help, but....)

Democrats need to coalesce around a plan to ban self-driving vehicles in interstate commerce.

Why?


All that lovely teal?  That means the most popular job in that state is driving a truck.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Aligned Federalism

I'm trying to come up with a theory of Aligned Federalism, whereby "blue" states work together to create policy agendas that put market pressure on the malefactors of great wealth.  My thinking was originally on energy policy.  If the entire Northeast and Pacific Coast decided to support alternative energies, that could really boost the market, no matter what the federal government does.

Richard Mayhew has an interesting example of how this might work with prescription drugs.

The Assault On Healthcare

Medicare, Medicaid and now Obamacare are the essential building blocks of American health care coverage.  While a touch less than half (49%) get insurance from their employers, over a third (36%) get their insurance from the government.  Roughly 7% get their insurance from a "non-group" provider, which presumably is mostly the exchanges.

Trump's announcement that Tom Price will be his head of HHS lets you know that he will back GOP efforts to dismantle not only Obamacare, but Medicare, too.  GOP ideas to make health care "work" are pretty much terrible.  They seem to believe in Magic Unicorn Ponies like HSAs and buying across state lines that won't do much of anything to help people afford health insurance.

This is a frankly unbelievable move on the part of the Republican party.  Their electorate is overwhelmingly older and fearful. This is a natural wedge issue for Democrats.

However, the obvious concern is that the Democrats suck at politics.

Basically, Shumer has two tasks.  He has to keep his entire caucus in line.  That shouldn't be difficult.  If I'm Max Baucus or Joe Manchin I'm eager to run as a Savior of Medicare.  That fits into people's pre-existing narratives of what the parties stand for.

The trickier part will be finding three GOP Senators to preserve Medicare.  There are some natural rebels in Arizona, who also have a large elderly population to serve who could provide two votes.  Collins and Murkowski are also not prone to radical swings.  Marco Rubio has national ambitions that would probably be sunk by attacking Medicare.  Pat Toomey has shown some moderation and I wouldn't rule out even Tim Scott or Lindsay Graham breaking with their party over this.

To some degree, the assault on Medicare feels like a diversion to keep attention focused there while they dismantle Obamacare.  Maybe, but both fights are important.  And both need to be waged with discipline and ruthlessness.  There is no time for "Yes, but..." This has to be framed in terms of extremes.  Ryan and Price will argue that they aren't "ending" Medicare, they are simply introducting "choice."  Semantically that's true, but practically it's false.  Don't get caught defining terms or being reasonable.  Fight like hell.

Make the GOP radioactive heading into 2018.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Today In Trumpistan

You want to know what Trump's contribution to America will be?  Massive swindling.

Here's a very good take on how Trump will launch a four year assault on our legal institutions and rule of law.

A Pervasive Myth

One myth my wife and I struggle to fight against is the pervasive myth that the media is both all powerful and extremely liberal.  The media is in fact a fractured, wounded beast and its real bias is towards reporting conflict over substance.

But there is another myth that is pervasive, and that is that politicians always lie on the campaign trial.  In fact, just the opposite is true.

Trump is going to do exactly what he said he was going to do.  If it's a trade war - and I perversely hope he tries - it will lead to a recession.  Smoot-Hawley, folks.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

This Is Important

Economic populism did not help the Democrats, even when they ran on it in the Senate races.  Feingold ran WORSE than Clinton in Wisconsin, despite bona fide reformer credentials.

Again, it's not necessarily about economic populism.  It's about white identity politics.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Reshuffling The Deck

How are we to unravel Trumpistan?  How do we redraw the electoral map?  Obviously, finding a way to win back Pennsylvania is clearly a priority.  However, I think the manifest failures of the impending Trump Kleptocracy will manage some of that.

Additionally, you have to reclaim the cultural allegiances of some of the white working class, and the best way to do that is to break down cultural barriers.  I think activists for African, Muslim and Hispanic Americans need to train themselves to sit with these WWC voters and engage with them - not politically, but socially.  Not with the Armor of Grievance strapped on tight, but from a position of trying to find what you have in common.

Trump's pitch about urban hellholes was never intended to win black votes, but to scare rural WWC voters about the swarthy hordes of Philly, Detroit and Milwaukee.  If you can engage those voters, go to their communities, start a home and away softball game, potluck dinners and church socials, then you can demystify and unravel the "othering" that has defined out current politics.

Some of that is apparent in this story about how white voters broke depending on how far they moved from their place of birth.  Those that left home voted for Clinton.  Those that stayed home voted for Trump.  If WWC voters won't leave Erie or Eau Claire, then you have to go and visit them.

That's the easy part.

If Democrats/liberals really want to change the electoral and - more importantly - the congressional map, then they need to un-do the Big Sort.

Take Wyoming, for instance. Trump won Wyoming by 120,000 votes.  Demon spawn Liz Cheney won the House seat by 75,000 votes.  If you could move 200,000 young, liberal voters to Wyoming, you could flip the House seat, 3 electoral votes and 2 crucial Senate seats.

How about Montana?  Trump won by 100,000 votes, Ryan Zinke won the House seat by 80,000 votes and Steve Bullock, a Democrat retained the governorship by 18,000 votes.  Again, moving about 200,000 young, liberal voters to Montana nets you a House seat, a Senate seat and 3 electoral votes.

Of course, how do you convince half a million people to leave sunny California for the wilds of Wyoming and Montana?  The answer, to me, is Colorado.

Colorado is currently brushing up against some limits, as more and more of those young, culturally liberal people move there.  Water, as always, is the limiting resource in the West, and Montana and Wyoming aren't immune to that.  But as the Colorado Front Range fills up, why not expand up into Cheyenne and Laramie?  As Boston expanded it spread into southern New Hampshire.  That helped counterbalance the more traditional northern parts of the state.  Clinton won New Hampshire by winning Nashua.

Making Cheyenne and Laramie part of the Front Range political ecosystem might work.

For Montana, it's harder and easier.  Harder, because there isn't any natural ecosystem to link with, easier, because there is a natural appeal to living in Montana.  Clinton already won Gallatin County (Bozeman) and Missoula County, but she barely won Gallatin.  She lost Lewis and Clark County (Helena) and Cascade County (Great Falls) by a few thousand votes.  She got crushed in Yellowstone County (Billings).  Having been to Billings, I doubt any Democrat will excel there, but growing the populations of Missoula and Bozeman (and to a lesser degree Helena and Great Falls) would counterbalance the rural votes and the oil kingdom of Billings.

If I could live in Montana, I would.  So the question is: How do you create the sort of jobs that would get people to move there?  How do you create a Front Range type of political ecosystem in Montana?

The obvious answer is technology.  There is no reason why Silicon Valley has to be in Silicon Valley, except cachet.  It's cool to have a Palo Alto zip code.  But the Bay Area is running out of room.  That's not close to being a joke.

So how can we move roughly a million Bay Area tech jobs to Bozeman and Missoula?

Do that and suddenly things begin to change.  Can you find room for half a million tech jobs in Boise?  That makes Idaho a purple state.

Demographics will eventually flip Arizona and maybe Texas and Georgia.  Maybe North Carolina, too.  But to really change the political map, we have to change the population map.

We have to break down the Big Sort.

Friday, November 25, 2016

I'm Thankful They Are Starting To Focus

Looks like Democratic leadership is finally beginning to wake up and focus on Paul Ryan's plan to end Medicare and replace it with a voucher system.

Democrats have a two front war to wage the next four years.

One front will be against what I imagine will be the single most corrupt administration in US History.  I expect Trump and his unqualified minions will commence to loot the state in ways that would make Mobutu Sese-Seko blush.  Everyone who is worried about Trump creating concentration camps is missing the point (I hope).  He will create an organization to build the camps, his cronies will create companies to build the camps and then they won't get built and his cronies run off with the cash and kick back bribes to Trump, Inc.  When they aren't looting the Treasury, they will likely be so dangerously incompetent that they could start a war or a depression.

Democrats have to fight that battle.

But they also have to fight the usual battles against the far right ideologues of the Republican Congress, led by the Zombie Eyed Granny Starver from Wisconsin.

Pushing back on Medicare is the first glimmer that they realize the dual threats facing them.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

The Future

When I first heard of Universal Basic Income, I was incredulous.  But the more I read about it, the more it seems the way out of our current economic predicament.

As Thomas Piketty discovered, wealth inequality is the historical norm.  What changed is that for a few decades, it was possible to have a middle class existence and real material comfort from a working class job.  Recently, the pace of automation and globalization have destroyed that ability.  While most people in the US have what they need, they are constantly a lost paycheck away from real problems.

Work is no longer a guarantee of a decent quality of life.

That single fact is the most important fact in politics today.  What's more, it will only get worse.  Stern, in the above interview, makes the point I've been making about self-driving trucks: they will decimate the working class.  The fact that no one cares about this, the drive for progress for progress's sake, is what drives the anxiety of working class voters.  And Trump isn't going to help.

The other issues Stern notes are also important.  First, conservative intellectuals like the UBI. It gets rid of the need for an elaborate welfare state.  Everyone gets a $30,000 stipend and then the markets can function.  You want more?  Earn more.

Second, and more critically, moving to UBI will require us to re-evaluate how we think of work.  I am my job.  I take pride in my work.  What would UBI do for that?

Essentially, UBI would require an entirely new form of economics.  The thing is, our current economics are broken.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Might As Well

I agree with everything Josh Marshall says about the idea that the vote was hacked.  It is very, very unlikely that anyone hacked the election.  It's just too hard, though I could see any one state (cough North Carolina or Wisconsin cough) engaged in vote suppression, given their history.  Overall, though, Trump outperformed among WWC voters in so many different states that it's hard to ascribe this to voter fraud.

However, as fraught as the national mood is, go ahead and do an audit to remove any stigma or question over the election results.

If it were possible to advise Trump on anything, I would advise him to lead the way.  "Please, recount some votes.  I'm confident of the results."  He'd never do it, but it would be sound strategy.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The New New Math

Ezra Klein is right.  One of the most infuriating things about being a Democrat is watching the party leadership behave like an abused spouse.  Their are huge structural problems that Democrats face, but being unpopular isn't one of them.  Their ideas certainly aren't, even if their candidate was.

Mitch McConnell introduced parliamentary levels of party loyalty to a congressional system of government.  Schumer needs to introduce the idea of a shadow government.  Otherwise, the Democrats fecklessnness will lead to further problems down the line.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Outsourcing

Ed makes some critically important points.

For all the "Democrats lost the White Working Class" pieces, the fact is that Democrats have been working to help the White Working Class.  It wasn't elites or even the very poor who benefited from Obamacare.  It wasn't Republicans offering to raise the minimum wage.

The Rust Belt rusted, because the circumstances that created the American Industrial Heartland are gone.  The Thirty Golden Years, from 1945-1975 were a unique time in world and American history.  They aren't coming back.

I would differ with Ed on one point.  The voters that voted for Trump voted for more than anger.  I do think they voted for hope.  Hope that Trump would destroy the system that has ground them down.  Looking at his transition team, it's very, very, very unlikely that Trump is going to do anything about their problems.

Maybe he winds up keeping Obamacare and giving it bipartisan cover.  Maybe that helps.  I can't see his infrastructure plan working, because it's a farce and a giveaway to construction companies more than actually building anything.  I agree with Jon Chait, that Democrats better sell their votes very, very dearly to support any infrastructure bill, because it is likely to be a corruption funnel and they should keep their fingerprints off of it.

But Trump doesn't give a shit about his voters.  He has stiffed workers over and over and over again.  Clinton probably screwed up in accenting his personal vileness over his professional malfeasance.  They should have hammered home the number of people Trump has screwed over. C'est la guerre.

Those WWC voters who flocked to Trump are likely going to get screwed.  And frankly, selfishly, it's not the place of the Democratic party from 2017-2021 to solve their problems.  Trump can't solve the Problem of the Rust Belt, because he's an idiot and because there is no solution.  Building a sea wall in Tampa isn't going to create jobs in Dayton, Ohio, providing the sea wall even gets built.

Instead, we will get massive tax cuts for the rich and an assault on Medicare and Obamacare.  We will get crony capitalism in spades.  

Sadly, the only way to blunt the impact of the rural WWC voter is to watch Trump screw up.  That lacks agency, but it's probable.  And if he doesn't, maybe all us elites were wrong about everything.  I doubt it, though.  Steve Bannon was crediting his theory of politics to Andrew Jackson, a man whose fiscal policies unleashed one of the worst depressions of the 19th century.

Buy gold.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Trump University

The Evergropenfuhrer - who never settles - settled his fraud case over bilking the rubes with his Trump University scam.  The settlement was for $25M.

There is a logic for any president to settle a case, he has an important job to do and going to court will take up a lot of time and energy.  Since the Donald has to learn how government works and shit, he will likely be busier than usual.  Also, Trump was clearly worried about the discovery process spiraling out of control.

While settlements usually don't come with an admission of guilt, when you're writing a $25M check, you probably don't think you could've won.

I'm just curious if the news media that harped incessantly on Clinton's email server even cares about this.  It got headlines, but it's already being pushed off the news.  Clinton, you may recall, was investigated, cleared but still apologized over the email thing.  And still we covered it and covered it and covered it.

Trump, however, has so many outrages, it's tough to keep up. I have close to zero faith that our media will even try.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Yeah, It's Going To Suck

The next round of Cabinet positions are in the wind.

A white supremacist will be your Attorney General.

A Russia coddling crypto-autocrat will be your National Security Advisor.

A civil liberties hating Teanderthal who wants a war with Iran is your CIA director.

So as far as the Trump Administration is concerned, I think we can all agree that the idea that far from caring if Black Lives Matter, there is some concern whether ANY lives will matter.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Strategery

The Democratic Party has very few leverage points over the national government right now.  The most important is the Senate.  Initial signs are that Democratic Senatorial leadership is going to cave to Trump.  Given their history, I am as worried as everyone else.

I'm with Scott Lemieux on this one.  I hope this is rhetorical posturing.  "Of course we will work with President Trump on needed legislation." But since the legislation before them will likely be crappy, they will sadly conclude that they can't agree to support THIS bill.  That's smart, because it contrasts with McConnell's obstruction for obstruction's sake.  I suppose they think they can drive a wedge between Trump and Congressional Republicans.  I wouldn't count on that.

At any rate, Democrats are basically in the place of Republicans from 8 years ago.  They have to wage an insurgency against the administration that directly threatens their interests.

This requires both strategy and tactics.  The tactics are clear enough: fight legislation and appointments as necessary to preserve key parts of the Democratic policy agenda.  For instance, Pual Ryan's plan to get rid of Medicare and replace it with vouchers and tax cuts is a terrible idea and likely to be very unpopular.  Unified and vocal opposition to this is critical to put the unpopularity of the hard right agenda on the defensive.  Tactics are likely to be as defensive as anything.  Insurgents win by striking at areas of weakness, until they can build momentum to strike at areas of strength.

Attack Bannon and Bannon-types, resist the worst ideas - vocally, peel off Republican factions as necessary.

The larger strategic issue is where I really feel like Democrats are adrift.  Sun Tzu wrote that a good general never fights a battle that he hasn't already won before the fighting starts.  You have to prepare the battlefield in a way that insures your victory.

A critical task for Democrats is to make a long-term plan to address some concerns of rural working class whites, while retaining the support of traditional Democratic voters.  You don't have to win rural Michigan or Pennsylvania, but you can't lose it 20-80.

There are policy ideas that would likely appeal to WWC voters: Martin Longman has suggested anti-trust attacks on banks, big box retailers and other entities that squeeze the life out of small town entrepreneurs.  I would add supporting rural health cooperatives that bring needed health care to rural areas.  Protections for small farmers would be popular, especially watershed protection from the fracking explosion that is likely to happen under Trump.

Those, too, feel a little tactical, though.

My idea - and I admit, I'm not sure how to achieve it - is more long range.  How do we bridge the rural-urban divide.  Country people are friendly, but they are also insular.  For that matter, so are minority and traditionally liberal communities.  How can we bring that sweet, church-going lady from small town Pennsylvania into contact with a 21 year old African American college student, or a gay school teacher in a way that pulls down the suspicions on both sides?

In studying American politics, we typically talk about different party systems and partisan realignments.  In my mind, there are only two parties going back to Hamilton and Jefferson.  There is the party of the community and the party of the individual. The labels we have put on those parties have changed.  The Democratic party was the party of the individual for a long, long time.  It is not anymore.

What we need to do is convince white working class voters something they already partly believe.  They already instinctively know that the Republicans are the party of the individual.  They need to come to see that the party of the community has a place for them at the table.

UPDATE: As usual, Jon Chait is right.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Our Capacity For WTF Will Be Tested

So which fear grips you more tightly?

That Donald Trump is a 21st century Mussolini who will snuff out democracy and create a dystopian hellscape?

Or...

That Donald Trump is an incompetent who will snuff out democracy entirely by accident and cretae a dystopian hellscape?

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Race In Trumpistan

German Lopez continues his fine work on race in America. In this article, he deftly pulls back the curtain on how to talk with whites about racism.  Certainly many whites are fine having those conversations, but many also aren't.  At some point, the idea of a college education might actually be about the education - about opening one's minds to other viewpoints.  That's at the heart of a liberal arts education.  If you don't have that experience - not to mention being on a diverse college campus - you're less likely to open yourself up to other viewpoints on race.

I've been thinking about the "what's next" question for Democrats.  I'm thinking about looking at state compacts and cooperative federalism as a way to lock in some progressive policies in the face of widespread regression in DC.

One other idea I had was "Donkey Dinners" where state parties would hold moving dinners through those overwhelmingly white, rural areas of the country that they lost so badly this time out.  This would allow party-building in areas where the Democratic party is withering away.

If we combine that idea with Lopez's thesis, we could train various groups to attend and work with these dinners - African Americans, Latinos, Muslims, LGBT communities - because one of the key barriers is simple understanding.  When Donald Trump referred to the urban hellscapes that were American cities, most of HIS voters agreed, because they spend so little time there.  For African Americans, it was extremely insulting; for rural whites, it was confirmation bias.

Breaking down that lack of knowledge would go a long way towards easing all sorts of tension in our politics, albeit in piecemeal fashion.

And additional challenge would be getting those marginal groups to set aside a more radical and transformative agenda for incremental change.  From a pragmatic perspective, a BLM activist should care about fewer African Americans getting killed by police, and that will require winning over white voters.  The Obama years perhaps created a false sense of progress and the idea that that progress couldn't be rolled back.

Time to get back to work.  One dinner conversation at a time.

Monday, November 14, 2016

A Two Pronged Attack

Trumpism is a two pronged attack on governance.

One is the inclusion of people like Steve Bannon in the White House and Sarah Palin in the Cabinet and so forth.  They will bring a combination of racism, belligerence and incompetency to our government that will be divisive and damaging.  Additionally, it will require people like Reince Priebus to normalize people like Bannon.  "Hey, he went to good schools!  He hasn't ACTUALLY started any pogroms!"

Trump is going to mainline the Crazy into the Executive Branch, and his temperament is such that he won't tolerate dissent from outside quarters.  All that dissent will do is cause the institutional Republican party to rally around these miscreants.

The second attack is just as damaging, but less visible at the moment.  As I mentioned last night, Paul Ryan has his eyes on destroying Medicare.  This is based on outright falsehoods that Obamacare has been bad for Medicare, when it has actually been incredibly beneficial.  Ryan's precedes from this lie to assert that turning over Medicare to private insurers will somehow reduce health care inflation, when the only thing that has proven to slow health care inflation is Obamacare.

That's just one policy.  You can add climate change, tax policies, aid to the poor to the list of things that are going to go in a HORRIBLY regressive direction, especially if the GOP kills the filibuster.

Democrats love to wear sack cloth and ashes, but there is one area where they are to blame in what's about to happen.  Democrats have done a good job moving the country to accept various minority groups.  This is a positive good. However, it comes with an increase in identity politics on both sides.  Identity politics failed in the '80s, because the country looked much different then.  Today, there is a path to electoral victory with African and Hispanic Americans, the college educated and Millenials.  This is the demographic promise for the future.

Right now, however, it prioritizes group responses to Trump.  If you are Muslim, you have a very specific and real set of fears about Trump.  These are similar but not identical to how African Americans feel, similar but not identical to how Hispanics feel, similar but not identical to how LGBT Americans feel.

The Left is always a hair's breadth away from splintering on its best days.  It is a naturally fractious coalition that lacks the unity of white working class voters.

The trick will be to fight on ALL fronts at once.  You can't just work to help fight the retrogressive social politics of Trumpism, you have to be ready to fight the retrogressive economic policies of Paul Ryan. Since Ryan is the darling of the Washington Media and ISN'T a racist asshat like Steve Bannon, it's going to be very hard to maintain a unified and mutually supportive coalition in the face of what could be a wholesale assault on post-MLK social America AND post-FDR economic America.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Be Scared Of THIS

We are all (legitimately) worried that Trump will try and deport good people and restrict press freedoms and be our most corrupt administration since Nixon.

Got it.

People, you need to keep your eye on the ball.  Yes, Trump is a crypto-authoritarian narcissist.

But Paul Ryan should scare the shit out of you.

Currently, he plans to privatize Medicare.  Yes, one of the most successful programs in our history is on the chopping block, because it gave Ayn Rand the Sads.

Providing the Republicans get rid of the filibuster, we need to get three GOP Senators to block this nightmare.  Here are the best targets: Susan Collins, Marco Rubio, Jeff Flake, Lisa Murkowski and John McCain, maybe Pat Toomey.  They represent purple states or grey states (states with old people).  It's time to scare the shit out of Granny, folks!

Absolutely Nothing Really Going Right In My Life?

How about you?

Saturday, November 12, 2016

More On The Media Failure

David Neiwart on how the media ignored the troubling connections between Trump and white supremacists and other extremists.

The media focused on Al Gore's sighing and earth tones in 2000, and then they bent over backwards for the lies about Iraq in 2002-3.  Thousands died and they still haven't learned exactly what their fucking job is.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Running Out Of Words

Today in US Gov class, kids pressed me on what sort of policies Trump might pursue.  I told them as best I could, based on Trump and Paul Ryan's public stances.

They were aghast.

Ending compliance with the Paris Climate Accords, ending Obamacare, ending Clean Air initiatives, abandoning the Iranian nuclear deal, a trade war with Mexico and China, massive regressive tax cuts.

But, you know, #Benghazi and emails and the tenor of her voice...

Clinton was a poor candidate to be running for a third term in an anti-establishment year.  James Comey truly ratfucked the election in a way I presumed wouldn't happen.  Trump motivated missing voters with naked appeals to racism and cultural resentment.

But if Trump really does embark us on a truly terrifying national nightmare, we can all thank the news media for a bang up job of shedding light on the issues at stake in Decision 2016.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Day One In Trump's America

Shaun King is keeping a twitter feed of all the shit that's going down.

Looking through it is nauseating.

But there is something else.  Most of these acts are acts of drive-by cowardice.  Anonymous acts of graffiti, things yelled from passing cars.  There are far too many direct confrontations in there, too.

So, here's the challenge, and it's especially a challenge for People Like Me: Every time you see or hear of something like this, you have to rush to the victim's aid.  No being coy or letting someone else handle it.  I'm terrible about that myself. I have bystander syndrome.

From here out I'm taking a vow.  Any time I see racist, sexist, bigoted actions, my first impulse will be, must be, going to support the target of that.

Yes, He's Your President

Going from Dubya to Trump is going from C+ Augustus to F You.

I completely share in people's anger and despair and bewilderment.  He is not my role model, not my spokesman, not my leader.

But he is my President.

I understand why people are saying this.  I want to say it, too.  But if you say it, you're engaged in exactly the sort of demonization and division that creates demagogues like Trump.

We don't elect Kings.  Trump will enter office, like Bush did, with a minority of the vote total.  Bush, being a more or less seasoned politician surrounded by seasoned politicians, spent the first nine months with his head down, not taking highly charged positions until the summer when he announced a stem-cell research ban.  His numbers tanked and he lost the trust of the people.  Then 9/11 happened.  In 2005, Bush and the GOP led off with privatizing Social Security and the Terri Schiavo nightmare. He never recovered, then there was Katrina and the following year the Democrats took control of Congress.

Politics works only when you are engaged with it.  That doesn't mean being engaged with only the people you agree with.  I was talking with a Taft security guard on the sidelines of our kid's soccer game.  He felt that Trump could win.  I assured him he was wrong, because data.  Who was right?  If I hadn't been so eager to show off my erudition I might have learned something that afternoon.

There IS a basket of deplorables that support this guy.  There are also a bunch of standard every day Republicans who supported their nominee.  There are also people desperate for change of any kind.

Winning the popular vote and losing the election is a nightmare we've had to endure twice in my lifetime.  The last time led to a disastrous war and a global depression.  I am as tired of this shit as you are.

But simply shutting the other side out won't get us to a place where we can sweep Congress and the White House.  Calling all Trump supporters racists and misogynists won't flip them into your camp.  Besides that, it's beneath you as a person to lump every individual of a group into the same basket as the worst elements of that group.

Donald Trump is going to be our president.  He says everything is a negotiation.  OK.  Let's negotiate.  Let's hold him accountable.  March.  Protest.  Write letters.  And when you engage, ENGAGE.  Don't simply have competing monologues.

Donald Trump exists because there are a large group of Americans who hate and mistrust elites.  That hatred is visceral rather than logical, and expressed itself in an electoral tantrum that will likely crush the global economy and make our country less equal and less welcoming.  To change that in two or four years means we have to move enough people past their tantrum and into dialogue.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

One Pathway

I was looking at the Senate map in 2018 and 2020.  That was the untold tragedy last night - losing those winnable Senate seats in PA, OH, FL, AZ and WI. It wasn't JUST the White House we lost.  We lost a chance to reshape the Senate, six years after the Tea Party wave.  Now you have to wait another 6 years.  If Trump completely shits the bed from the start - and that's not impossible - you still only make a dent in the House in 2018, if you're lucky.  You're really looking at 2020 before you can flip any of the three.

What sort of damage will be done by then?

Many times today, I have been recalled to my whiteness and maleness.  Partly because I look at every dude in a pickup truck and wonder just who's behind the wheel.  As someone Tweeted: "That feeling you've had for the last fifteen minutes?  Welcome to feeling like a minority."  More than anything, I know that my whiteness and maleness protects me from what could be some of the worst effects of a Trump Administration.

I also know that living in Connecticut insulates me from the worst effects.  I'm watching protests on CNN in cities across the country.  Cities.  Blue states.

For years, liberalism has defined itself in its actions via the national government.  Civil rights legislation and the Great Society.  The Affordable Care Act.  I wonder if the energy turns now to the states and localities that are already blue.

My wife and I had students come in with questions, and all of them were along the lines of "The Electoral College? WTF?"  So we talked about state compact groups.  It occurred to me that state compacts make so much sense.

My biggest worry is frankly environmental policy.  Tax policy will be a nightmare, people will suffer under the Ryan budget, but we will find a way to muddle through.  Once Trump and his minions get loosed upon the EPA, we are truly cooked.

However, it seems like this is an opportunity for states to join together to set their own standards.  Why can't California, Oregon and Washington come together and create fuel efficiency standards?  If they can reach out and join New York, Pennsylvania and New England, there isn't an automaker in the country who would make two sets of cars - one for the compact states and one for the non-compact states.  Similar attempts could be made on green energy policy or even possible infrastructure projects.

One obvious and fatal flaw that was exposed last night was geographic sorting.  There are a shit-ton of Democrats in cities and college towns, and very few anywhere else.  What I am proposing might very well make that worse. In some ways, it is the first logical step towards breaking up the United States.

But these are huge issues we face that go beyond economics.  It goes towards the future of our planet.  Global warming scares the shit out of me.  Trump will accelerate that warming, just as there was some evidence that we were starting to slow it.

State compacts among the blue states might be the best way to tackle those issues so that America doesn't return to becoming the world's biggest polluter.

What Next?

Everyone wants to know the answer to that question.

The rhetoric of this campaign was apocalyptic and it's natural to assume that the rhetoric will lead to the reality.  And while there is no doubt that this is the scariest moment in the history of our body politic since Nixon and the scariest moment for the world since Able Archer nearly triggered a nuclear war, there is also some small reassurance that institutions don't bend to a man.

We don't elect kings.

There is no doubt that Trump has authoritarian tendencies.  There is no doubt that the office of the President offers him opportunities to express that authoritarianism.  But the very structure of our government was founded on the idea that you can thwart the ambition of a would-be king by creating institutions that balance each other.

Trump is a massive, massive wild card.  He has no attention to detail, no interest in policy.  We literally have no idea what he will do as president.  Will he turn the reins over to Giuliani, Christie and Gingrich?  Quite probably.  Will he be a rubber stamp for the extreme fiscal policies of Paul Ryan and the extreme religious conservative policies of Mike Pence?  Quite probably.  I think it's fair to say that America will look a lot like Kansas in a few years.  And that's not great.

There is a raging argument about whether Trump's election was entirely about racism and sexism on the part of an aging white, male population.  I think in part it clearly was.

But part of the story - and this extends beyond the US - is that there is a backlash to "the way things are" that is taking place at the ballot box.  Brexit and Trump are twins.  The good news is - and I mean this sincerely - this revolution is currently done without bullets and barricades.

Whether they were white nationalists or just disaffected whites, the Trumpenproletariat just decided to give matches and gasoline to an arsonist.  Be clear: THAT WAS THE PLAN.  They want to burn the fucking thing down.

But lighting a fire is easy.  Controlling that fire is hard.  Much of Washington is made of marble and hard to burn.  I don't believe the foundations of our government will fall.  I believe we are headed for recession and not some small violence.  I believe we will stumble back into a pointless war.

I also believe that after we've mourned and shaken off our shock, that we have to start fighting for a better world.  The entire House is up for re-election in two years.  That's the first goal.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

I'm Nauseous And At A Loss For Words

So I'll just outsource this:
http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/this-article-is-prescient

This Is Pretty Good

http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2016/11/ten-presidential-election-shit-shows-part-i-1800-1912

Own It Paulie

The Zombie Eyed Granny Starver says that the GOP is not Trump's party. As John Scalzi tweeted, that's not what it says on the ballot.

There is a none-zero chance that Trump wins this thing, and people are very loath to count chickens still in their eggs.  But it certainly looks like Clinton will win; the Blue Wall will hold and we will be spared the Trumpocalypse.

Whether Trump?  Ed at Gin and Tacos has a pretty accurate take on what happens next for the Evergropenfuhrer.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Tomorrow's Autopsy Today

Ezra Klein laments the existing and likely enduring threat to American democracy that Trumpism represents.  He builds off Julia Azari's piece on weak parties and strong partisanship.  This sentence is critical:

If partisans have lost so much faith in their party establishments, then why are they so much likelier to back whomever their party nominates? The answer, in short, is fear and loathing of the other party.

This is the strong partisanship that Azari mentioned.  The GOP can't perform their basic function, which is to coordinate a broad spectrum of political interests into a cohesive whole.  This allows a demagogue to hijack the party and then rely on that high level of partisanship to possibly win an election.  Trump found the cheat-code at the heart of the GOP: racial panic.  It's not about economic pain and dislocation, so much as it's about the fear of those things.

As I've been saying for years, the GOP media environment is soaking in apocalyptic fear-mongering.  That creates the environment for a demagogue.  Partisanship allows that demagogue access to millions of voters that he otherwise wouldn't have.  Consider this quote:

“We’ve got this online media where the profits are driven by controversy and clicks,” Sarah Rumpf, a former Breitbart writer, told Vox. “It’s just an activism problem in general, where it’s easier to fundraise and easier to get members when you can declare an emergency, when you can declare a crisis, when you can identify an enemy.”

And that is where demagogues come from.

What is ultimately worrisome is whether or not - in defending Trump - those voters have now internalized the racism, sexism and xenophobia that defines Trump.  Trump won the nomination as an ethno-nationalist.  The question is whether he can turn the GOP into an ethno-nationalist party.

Klein summarizes:
So here, then, is the key failure point in modern American politics, and observing it in action requires looking no further than the Republican Party: Voters’ dislike of their own party has broken the primary process, but fear of the opposition has guaranteed unified party support to the nominee. That means whoever manages to win a flawed competition dominated by the angriest, most terrified partisans ends within spitting distance of the presidency.
Party primaries were traditionally bulwarks against demagogues rising in American politics. Now they are the method by which they will rise.
Here is the frightening takeaway from 2016, even if - as I believe - Clinton wins.  There is nothing structural on the GOP side to slow or reverse this process.  Trump is too old (and will likely be too unpopular after losing) to win the nomination in 2020.  If you're a Republican wanting to win the nomination, would you pattern your campaign on Donald Trump or John Kasich?  The "coming civil war" in the GOP has all the power on the side of the Trumpenproletariat and none on the side of Paul Ryan and certainly none on the side of Jeff Flake.

The most likely result of tomorrow's election is Clinton winning reasonably comfortably - about 4% of the popular vote - Democrats winning the Senate by a few votes and the House remaining in Republican hands.  Those House Republicans will be full of the fearful, angry rabble that created Trump.  They will not wish to govern or compromise and the faith we have in our civic institutions will be further tested.  Important work will go undone, because the Republican party of Bob Dole and even Ronald Reagan has ceased to exist.  What we have instead is a group of people who are terrified of the changes being wrought in their country, so they are engaged in a multi-decades long tantrum that is paralyzing our government.

Clinton will likely win tomorrow. But we are still, in so many ways, already losers.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Asymmetric Knowledge

Liberals are the ultimate Chicken Littles come election time.  They constantly seek the defeat that they fear is coming for them.  Despite winning the popular vote in every election but one since 1989, Democrats are always convinced it will be Florida 2000 all over again.

Josh Marshall makes a very important point: at this point, most campaigns have more information than we do.  Campaigns and media outlets poll for very different reasons.  The media want to get a handle on the horse race, so they conduct big polls of the entire country or an entire state and then try and model from there.  Competent campaigns are polling to find out who might support them and how can they get those people to the polls.

Part of this is knowing where to send your candidate with 72 hours left in Shitshow 2016.  Before we look at that, we have to acknowledge that Trump doesn't run a conventionally competent campaign.  The guy stopped polling because he wouldn't pay his pollster.  Um....what?  Trump is flying blind, whereas Clinton has a map and sonar.

Sometimes a campaign will do appearances in a non-competitive state as a head fake ("Why is Clinton campaigning in South Carolina?"), but usually this close to the election, you go where you need votes.  Your campaign - again, if competently run - will send you and you main surrogates to where they can do the most good.

Let's look where Trump is going, again remembering that he's flying sort of blind.  He's going to Iowa , a state where he can plausibly win.  He's also going to Michigan twice and Pennsylvania twice.  He's going to Minnesota.  He's going to Virginia.  He has no chance there.  The swing states that he's visiting are Florida, North Carolina and New Hampshire, and that's one visit each.  He's spending more time in Michigan than in Florida.  That's insane.

Mike Pence's schedule is only slightly less insane: one trip each to Florida and North Carolina and two to New Hampshire makes sense (but I would send Pence to Iowa and Trump to NH), but two trips to Michigan? Trips to Pennsylvania and Minnesota?

Clinton, meanwhile has a formidable army of surrogates that Trump lacks.  Here are some of her campaign events:

Obama: New Hampshire, Florida, Michigan and Philly.  Chelsea is doing GOTV throughout Pennsylvania. Tim Kaine covers three events in Wisconsin and then three in Virginia, his home state.  Bernie Sanders is hitting Arizona and Nevada. Joe Biden is hitting Pennsylvania, too. Cher is doing a concert in Miami, Jon Bon Jovi is doing one in Charlotte.

But Hillary is the main asset, and where are they sending her? Cleveland (with LeBron), New Hampshire, then North Carolina, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Both campaigns are targeting Pennsylvania and Michigan with a lot of firepower.  Meanwhile, there is a poll out from Franklin and Marshall that has Clinton up 11 in PA.  Not even Republican polls have him winning there.  Why are they in PA?  Maybe to win that Senate seat from Pat Toomey?

Michigan is clearly an interesting case.  There was on poll that had it tied, but the rest show easy leads for Clinton - and there's no Senate race.

Here's where the election is likely to be decided: New Hampshire, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio and Nevada.  Maybe Wisconsin.  Where are the campaigns going?

NH: Trump-3, Clinton-2
NC: Trump-2. Clinton-2
FL: Trump-2, Clinton-2
OH: Trump-0, Clinton-1
NV: Trump-0, Clinton-1
WI: Trump-0, Clinton-3 (or 1, depending on how you count Kaine doing three appearances)

Meanwhile
MI: Trump-4, Clinton-3 (Bill is going to Lansing)
PA: Trump-3, Clinton-4 (with multiple events from Chelsea and Biden)

Clearly, Clinton needs to lock up Michigan and Pennsylvania, because every Trump victory scenario includes winning those states.  And she is investing the time and energy to do that.

Why not more time in Florida and North Carolina?  Because millions of votes have already been cast there.

It's a very weird map, isn't it?

Trump is trying to make a last minute play for Michigan and Pennsylvania, perhaps because he's worried that he can't win Florida?  Normally, I would say that he has some inside polling numbers that suggest he's going to win, but he has no pollster.  And the public polling looks grim for him there.

So, what should you be looking for Tuesday night?  New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Michigan.  Clinton wins those and we don't have to care about Florida or Ohio.