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

Thursday, March 31, 2016

This Needs To Be A Big Deal

Bernie Sanders isn't a Democrat.  He has not worked to build the Democratic party throughout the country.  Barney Frank takes this a little further.

Frank first takes aim at the Sandernistas:

I am disappointed by the voters who say, “OK I’m just going to show you how angry I am!” And I’m particularly unimpressed with people who sat out the Congressional elections of 2010 and 2014 and then are angry at Democrats because we haven’t been able to produce public policies they like. They contributed to the public policy problems and now they are blaming other people for their own failure to vote, and then it’s like, “Oh look at this terrible system,” but it was their voting behavior that brought it about.

He goes on to note that Sanders record isn't all that:

Bernie Sanders has been in Congress for 25 years with little to show for it in terms of his accomplishments and that’s because of the role he stakes out. It is harder to get things done in the American political system than a lot of people realize, and what happens is they blame the people in office for the system. And that’s the same with the Tea Party. It’s “I voted for these Republicans, we have a Republican Congress, we voted for them, they took over Congress, they didn’t accomplish anything.” You gotta win at least two elections in a row.

That leaves a mark.  But then Barney always does.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Didn't See This Coming, Did You

Clinton supporters are more enthusiastic than Sanders supporters.

This is only supporters, where the Trumpenproletariat is over the moon for their man.  What is really striking is the candidate with the softest support - John Kasich.  Basically, no one is really enthused for his candidacy, but they know he's the only sane one left standing.

The Greatest Three Minutes Of Pure Television, I've Seen

I'm With Her

Hillary Clinton is not dishonest.  She's secretive.  That's what veteran reporter Jill Abramson concludes, and I have to agree with her.  Clinton has moved positions, because the 1990s is not the 2010s.  Even Obama moved his position on same sex marriage, and everyone knows that was a political calculation in 2008 that was no longer beneficial in 2012.  Clinton has done the same.  Sanders is having a salutary effect on her by forcing her to commit more to progressive positions.

But Clinton is a victim of her own resentment of the cost of being a public figure.  She is not transparent, because the press has always had the sharp knives out for the Clintons.  As Annie Laurie notes, if you want transparency, you have Trump.  That guy is a window pane.  A window pane that looks into a bordello, but a window pane, nonetheless.

Clinton does not lie about substantive matters, but she hides from scrutiny in ways that do her no favors.  She is clean, but her constant closed curtains suggests she is dirty.

Abramson says she doesn't have a "rhino hide" and these things hurt her, which is why she keeps those curtains drawn.  But the fact that she is out there still fighting, still pursuing the office shows that she's plenty tough.

And plenty honest.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Assertions Without Evidence

Here, we see Trump in all his idiotic glory.  John Kerry makes a presumably factual statement about foreign leaders who are shocked by America's ongoing reality show election.  Trump - who can't let a single slight go unchallenged - responds thusly:

"I'm shocked by him," Trump said on "Fox and Friends." "And I'm shocked that he would sign a deal like the Iran deal, which is one of the worst and dumbest deals I've ever seen negotiated —a horrible, horrible embarrassment deal."

Here is where Trump and the modern GOP come into concert.  The GOP agrees with Trump that the Iran deal is horrible.  The evidence for this is simply that the Obama administration negotiated the deal, so it might be the "worst and dumbest."  In fact, the Iran deal is a model of nuclear nonproliferation that is far stricter and far more encompassing than we had a right to expect.  As I've written before, the options were either this deal, a nuclear Iran or war.

But Trump's non-factual world can simply encompass a magical reality where he gets a better deal because he's Trump.  And that gibes nicely with the GOP narrative that Obama is some mixture of incompetent and a master Manchurian Candidate.

Trump's non-factual statement about the Iran deal works well for him, because his audience already believes that the deal is bad, because Obama.  He is also compelled to respond to every possible slight.

The latter, I think offers a real opportunity.  Trump set the agenda in the early GOP contest, sucking all the air out of the room.  Now, as we approach the general election, there should be a strategy of constantly attacking Trump so that he is responding to assaults rather than launching them.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Does Sanders Have A Path?

Bernie thinks he has a path to victory.

I suppose he could.  I saw a ton of Bernie stickers driving around today.  But that's the sort of anecdotal Thomas-Friedman crap I hate.

She needs to have a good April.  Maybe she won't.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Sanders Will Go On A Run

He's headed for some favorable states. 

But mid-April, Clinton regains the advantage. 

Friday, March 25, 2016

I've Been Predicting This

Putin's Russia is screwed.

Holy Crap

This piece by Franklin Foer really lays bare the central theme of Trump's life: misogyny.  This explains the preening, superficial alpha-male bluster, the contempt for "political correctness" and his treatment of everyone from Megyn Kelly to Rosie O'Donnell.

The question, of course, is what will this mean in the general election, running against the first female nominee of a major political party.  Josh Marshall thinks it will get quite ugly, and I agree.  I also agree with Marshall that this caps Trump's electoral ceiling far below the level necessary to win the presidency.

I'm Not Sure What To Think Of This

But it's a lot to think about.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

This, This, A Thousand Times This

Jon Chait has been engaged in a full throated defense of liberalism against conservatism and radicalism.  This is one of his better pieces on that subject.  Chait notes that Obama's liberalism is producing tangible benefits around the world and at home.  The ACA - with all its compromises and flaws from a purist perspective - is working better than could be hoped for.  The semi-authoritarian impulses of campus political correctness mesh seamlessly with Trump's authoritarian disdain for "political correctness."  The Right and Left ultimately bend around and touch.

The Party of Trump

Pretty much every word from 90% of GOP politicians since the Brussels attack proves that they don't have a problem with Trump's racism and belligerence.

They just don't like his tone. 

The substance is pretty much identical. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Havana And Brussels

The right wing media and their drones predictably freaked out over this picture:

That apartment building has to be, what, 300 yards behind him.  I mean it's not like it was right behind him:

Apparently, when Obama stands several football fields away from a picture of Che, he's endorsing Guevara's revolutionary tendencies, because - as any good right wing drone can recite from Breitbart and Drudge - Obama secretly hates America and is a traitor as evidenced by... somethingsomethingBenghazi.

The obsession with style over substance has reached its apogee (I hope) in Trump.  Trump is entirely style over substance.  He is all about image and perception rather than actual policies or substance.  He is a perfect creation of the fear-soaked nightmares of Fox News.  "If only Obama was strong, X wouldn't have happened."

Meanwhile, in the real world, Belgium failed to pursue policies that have hardened America, Britain and now France against terror attacks.  Belgium routinely pursued an ostrich strategy to terrorism and today, they paid a horrible price for that.  And just like the US, Britain, Spain and France, Belgium will now go about (I hope) a policy of hardening itself against the nihilists in their midst.

Obama's war on terrorist organizations is markedly different from George Bush's.  It consists of intelligence gathering and special forces and drone strikes.  It is designed to be unpredictable and leave a small footprint.  Since 2013, the United States has killed somewhere in the neighborhood of 25,000 ISIS members.  It has done so without invading or occupying portions of Iraq and Syria.  While it has lead to civilian casualties, it has no created the widespread slaughter of a ground war.

While drones are problematic in a lot of ways, they do work.  Combined with intelligence gathering and hardening American targets, the United States has been visited by two home-grown Islamist terror attacks since 2001.  One of those was a pissed off soldier, the other a DIY cell of a pair of angry Californians.  That's a substantive success, despite the loss of life at Ft. Hood and San Bernadino.

But the right wing obsession with style over substance will inevitably call for more carpet bombing of Syria, or invading Iraq again, or maybe shutting down the opening to Cuba.  It will scuttle the Iran nuclear deal if given a chance.

In the end, the right has transformed FDR's words: They only thing they have to fear love is fear itself.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

This Looks Good

Remember when Bryan Cranston was on Malcolm in the Middle?

True Fact

Who has won the most votes this primary season? Hillary Clinton.

She has a million more than Trump and two and a half million more than Sanders. 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Could Garland Make The Court?

Several vulnerable GOP Senators are starting to crumble under public pressure.  At this point though, if they go ahead and have a vote and vote Garland down, everyone will know that this is simply a different version of the same song.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Bernie Bros

I've supported Hillary Clinton because I don't think Sanders' "revolution" is a thing.  I think it's self-indulgent wankery.  I value competence, which I know looks poor on a bumpersticker.

Anyway, since Hillary pretty much wrapped up the nomination on Tuesday, the Bernie Bros have been all over Facebook being...well, I guess douchey is the best word.  Their self-righteous purity is so repellent, so nauseating, it almost makes me regret saying nice things about Bernie.  Of course, I felt the same way about the PUMAs back in 2008, so....

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Merrick Garland

The choice of Garland is quintessentially Obama.  It's reasonable in the face of unreasonableness.  It's moderate in the face of immoderation.  It's self-denying in the face of selfishness.

I was of a mind that Obama should nominate a person who forced the GOP to make a demographic statement.  Srinivasan would have fit that bill.  Garland puts them in a tricky spot, because he is clearly a moderate, clearly not an appointment designed to break barriers.  He is the best the GOP could hope for, which makes their obstinate behavior all the more vivid.

But the problem with this is that they have taken a stand upon an invented "principle."  The person, said Mitch McConnell, doesn't matter.  This will play poorly for a bit, but eventually, the rank injustice and unprecedented nature of this will disappear behind the veil of "both sides do it" and "opinions differ."

And if - as I suspect - Hillary Clinton gets elected, hopefully with a Senate majority, if Garland's name is still out there, expect the Senate to quickly ratify his nomination before Clinton can nominate a younger, more liberal jurist.

I was hopeful that the Obama who is "out of fucks to give" would have picked a fight.  Instead, he has appealed to the better angels of men who are entirely driven by fear of their right flank and wedded to an ideology of delegitimizing the President.  We will see if this works to his advantage or not.  I'm not certain that taking the high road in 2016 is the proper move.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

It's An Issue

Clinton should win Florida. She might win Ohio.  (I could see Ohioans voting for her to stick it to Michigan.). Missouri will be interesting, because it's part South, part Plains. 

Illinois could come down to Rahm Emmanuel. That fucker has been the anti-Midas as mayor of Chicago. He represents everything that it problematic about Clinton. If she loses Illinois, it will be because of Rahmbo. 

Monday, March 14, 2016

Jimmy Carter: Almost Always Right

In 1979, Carter gave a speech that was called the Crisis of Confidence speech, but is widely known to history as the "Malaise speech."  In it, Carter was talking about the energy crisis and subsequent economic crisis.  But he was really preaching a sermon to the American people about how they had lost the values that had "made America great."

Here are some excerpts:

I want to speak to you first tonight about a subject even more serious than energy or inflation. I want to talk to you right now about a fundamental threat to American democracy.
I do not mean our political and civil liberties. They will endure. And I do not refer to the outward strength of America, a nation that is at peace tonight everywhere in the world, with unmatched economic power and military might.
The threat is nearly invisible in ordinary ways. It is a crisis of confidence. It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will. We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our nation.
The erosion of our confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and the political fabric of America.
This piece certainly feels relevant today, but what is so striking about it today is how unhinged from reality much of that crisis of confidence is.  As Carter noted then and is true today, we are economically, militarily and politically without peer.  
Confidence in the future has supported everything else -- public institutions and private enterprise, our own families, and the very Constitution of the United States. Confidence has defined our course and has served as a link between generations. We've always believed in something called progress. We've always had a faith that the days of our children would be better than our own.
Our people are losing that faith, not only in government itself but in the ability as citizens to serve as the ultimate rulers and shapers of our democracy. As a people we know our past and we are proud of it. Our progress has been part of the living history of America, even the world. 
Here, you can see how this crisis could lead to a man like Trump, just as it lead to a man like Reagan.  Reagan, however, would seem to be infinitely preferable to a man like Trump. The impulse towards authoritarianism that Trump represents grows from that sense of crisis.  In a crisis, Rome would appoint a dictator to cut through the Senate and Equites.  Today, people clamor for a strong man with no ideas, simply because he projects strength.
In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities, and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns. But we've discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning. We've learned that piling up material goods cannot fill the emptiness of lives which have no confidence or purpose.
This was the part that was widely panned at the time.  There was an economic crisis, and Carter offered a Baptist Sunday School lesson.
But this section is critical.  Because increasingly, we are a culture that defines itself by what it doesn't have, what it doesn't own.  And we constantly measure ourselves against the opulence in our midst.  We can see what more looks like every day.  And even if you are a millionaire, you can see what the multimillionaires have and they can see what the billionaires have.  
The American poor are wealthier than 90% of the people who have ever lived.  They have marvels like electricity, television and running water that would have floored Louis XIV.  We live in one of the safest, most prosperous times in history.
But the sense of want and emptiness is very real.  It fuels the Trump and Sanders phenomenon, albeit from different directions.  It is why my students are so incredibly stressed out, because they feel they are one bad grade away from destitution and a failed future.  It's why people think America needs to be "made great again."
We have worshiped Mammon, only to find Mammon doesn't spread itself that thin.
Carter went on to say:
What you see too often in Washington and elsewhere around the country is a system of government that seems incapable of action. You see a Congress twisted and pulled in every direction by hundreds of well-financed and powerful special interests. You see every extreme position defended to the last vote, almost to the last breath by one unyielding group or another. You often see a balanced and a fair approach that demands sacrifice, a little sacrifice from everyone, abandoned like an orphan without support and without friends.
Often you see paralysis and stagnation and drift. You don't like it, and neither do I. 
And what, I wonder, does he make of today's Congress?  Carter went on to predict the Reagan '80s. 
We are at a turning point in our history. There are two paths to choose. One is a path I've warned about tonight, the path that leads to fragmentation and self-interest. Down that road lies a mistaken idea of freedom, the right to grasp for ourselves some advantage over others. That path would be one of constant conflict between narrow interests ending in chaos and immobility. It is a certain route to failure.
This is the world we live in.  This is the world Reagan bequeathed us.
Carter went on to talk about the energy crisis, but it was his diagnosis of what was wrong with America in the 1970s that feels so fresh and relevant today.  We are a nation that no longer values important things.  We want "winners" without asking ourselves what winning entails.  We want "tough talk" without paying the costs of backing that up.  We want what we don't have and fail to appreciate what we do.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Trump Country

Rolling into Georgia around 11:00pm last night, I noticed a full bloom of Trump signs along the state route that carried us down to the farm.  This is Trump Country: rural; poorly educated; poor economic prospects; devastated by a quiet drug epidemic, lost jobs and no opportunity.

That anger is real.  I get that.

But the protests that are erupting - and will likely only get worse - need to keep in mind that the anger the Trumpenproletariat is feeling, is not much different from the anger that BLM and other groups are feeling.  It's not too far from a Trump rally to feeling the Bern, in that sense.

The difference, of course, is that Sanders is appealing to groups he wishes to mobilize to change American politics.  Trump is essentially trying to overthrow American politics and all of its norms.  Despite being the Socialist Radical, Sanders is working within the existing institutions.  Trump is smashing them.

The Counterprotesters need to realize that the biggest favor that they can do is feed into a "both sides are responsible" narrative.  The video of the man being suckered punched and then tackled by security is a great example of all that's wrong with Trump rallies.  Chicago and Dayton create a theme that it's all chaotic, without holding the man who unleashed the chaos responsible.

The secret to non-violent protest is allowing yourself to get hit and arrested.

Let the cameras do the rest.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

"The Leni Riefenstahl B-Reel"

The violence at Trump rallies is going to get worse, folks.  The key for the protesters is to allow it to happen to you.  You have to be willing to get beaten up to heighten the contradictions.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Narcoleptic Endorses Bi-Polar Man

Somnambulist surgeon Ben Carson has endorsed Donald Trump.

I'm not sure which of the seals from Revelation has been opened, but we are clearly one step closer to the End Times.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

A Potentially New Ball Game

Sanders' win in Michigan has to worry Clinton some.  She's still the favorite for the nomination, as last night she once again led the delegate count.  Sanders continues to eek out narrow wins, while Clinton - when she wins she wins big - amasses a delegate lead.

But if Michigan represents a trend, where Sanders can pick off Midwestern states, then Clinton will need to scramble to carry western states.

Next up are Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio.  Given her strength among African American voters and Southerners, I think we can safely give her North Carolina and the lion's share of its 121 delegates.  However, Sanders could run stronger in the Research Triangle and prevent the sort of romp Clinton has enjoyed in other Southern states.

Clinton runs better among Democrats than independents.  Florida is a closed primary, so that - combined with large populations of African Americans, Hispanics and elderly Jewish voters - should give her an advantage there.  The Missouri Democratic party is also heavily African American which should help her there.

The tricky part is Illinois and and Ohio.  Those are open primaries.  While some independents might turn out in Ohio to support Kasich in the GOP primary, Ohio shares enough similarities to Michigan (don't tell them I said so) that it presents Sanders' best opportunity for a signature win.

That leaves Illinois.  It will be interesting to see if Obama gives Clinton another bump going into his home state's primary.  One opportunity will be at Nancy Reagan's funeral.

This race presents a fascinating mirror image of 2008.

In that race, you had one candidate widely perceived as inspirational and authentic against the seasoned technocrat.  Except in 2008, the inspirational candidate had mastered delegate math.  This time the technocrat seems to have a firmer grasp on that crucial question, not to mention a stranglehold on super-delegates.

Ultimately, as in 2008, a long primary season can be beneficial, as long as it doesn't get too nasty.  So far it hasn't.

This is the first day where the Democratic race is more interesting than the Republican.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Go Home, Little Marco

Rubio is a toast. His presence in the race benefits Trump most of all, as it divides the anti-Trump vote.  The problem is that if he drops out, it probably benefits Cruz, because Kasich simply isn't going to win the nomination, despite being the only candidate I could see becoming president.  Or at least becoming president and NOT dragging the US into a crisis that it might not recover from.

The primary illogic of #NeverTrump is that the only person poised to capitalize on Trump losing the nomination is Ted Cruz, and he's arguably more detestable than Trump.

So, Mini-Mussolini or the Zodiac Killer?  What's YOUR choice, 'Murica?

Monday, March 7, 2016

I've Wondered About This, Too

Tad Devine, Sanders' top campaign strategist, floated a trial balloon about Sanders being Clinton's Vice Presidential candidate. As the path to winning the nomination narrows, it will come up.  It came up with Obama and Clinton in 2008.

I was having a sort-of discussion with a Sanders supporter on Facebook last night, because he hates Hillary Clinton.  He's quite liberal and her career has given him a lot to dislike.  Putting Sanders on the ticket can help assuage those angry (young) voters who - I'm going to just be that Old Man Shouting At Clouds - are a bit naive about politics and a bit spoiled into thinking that earnestness matters.  Having a Clinton-Sanders ticket would energize those who have responded to his message and Sanders' integrity gives Clinton a seal of approval.  Plus, there is no way the GOP House impeaches Clinton to make Sanders president.

The downside is a bit more esoteric.  Clinton is 68, Sanders is 74.  Bringing Sanders on to the ticket is a dead end.  Maybe she reaches out and taps a next generation of leaders for cabinet posts.  Maybe Chris Murphy becomes Secretary of State.  Maybe Kristin Gillibrand becomes Secretary of the Treasury.

But a ticket that old - while it might paradoxically rally some young voters - is not a pathway to the future.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Last Night

Perhaps the coordinated attacks on Trump are working. Or rather they are working, but is it too little, too late?  And I'm trying to imagine how going from Trump to Cruz is any more of a winner for the GOP. Still, it adds some interest in the immediate contests.

Meanwhile, Sanders wins more states by continuing his strong showing with rural, white liberals. But Clinton won more delegates, because her wins are bigger and in bigger states. This reinforces my assertion that the Sandernistas are earnest but naive in how politics actually works. 

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Here We Go Again...

Today's primaries were very lightly polled, so we really don't "know" who is favored.

On the Democratic side, Clinton seems assured of winning Louisiana handily.  It's a primary with a combination of large numbers of African American voters and a few legacy white Southern Democrats.  Kansas and Nebraska have caucuses, which automatically favors Sanders.  His unexpected showing in Oklahoma suggests he should do well there.  Plus, very white=feeling the Bern.  Clinton just needs to get to Tuesday, when she should rack up huge wins in Michigan and Mississippi to pad her delegate lead.

On the GOP side, it's again more fluid.  Maine should go for Trump, as he's run unexpectedly strong in New England.  I would argue that for his supporters, they feel very much under siege from "political correctness" or "don't be an asshole" in that they live in the most liberal part of the country.  Kansas and Kentucky are kind of wild cards, and again there is precious little polling of those states.  Ted Cruz needs to win Louisiana.

On Sunday, Sanders needs to crush it in Maine, while Little Marco needs a big win in Puerto Rico.

If anything, today is a day when we will see if the GOP/Fox News assault on Trump did any damage.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Which Is It?

The commentary after last night's literal dick measuring contest pretty much comes down to whether Donald Trump represents the collapse of the Republican party or American democracy itself.  I tend towards the former, but when I see Jim Webb make a complete, simpering fool of himself, I hesitate.

The great flaw in American political journalism is that they fall into two easy patterns:

1) Both sides do it/opinions differ.


2) Horse race analysis.

Trump has exploited this by constantly talking about his poll numbers and lying his ass off.  Fox News tried hard to pierce the lying last night, but Webb's ludicrous comments (from someone who knows better) suggest that the "both sides do it" trope can allow for a candidate like Trump to make completely implausible claims about everything and that somehow balances Clinton's sketchy emails.
This manic desire to balance both sides allows Trump to violate all norms and the basic rules of math.  But the GOP's math hasn't added up since Ronald Reagan.  They have divorced themselves from the truth since Dubya.  Trump has realized that all he has to do is take the whispers of GOP politics and turn them into shouts.  Just as Mitch McConnell found out how easy it was to break the Senate, Trump has realized how easy it is to game the nominating process.

Will that translate to all Americans in November?

We have to hope.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Dennis Kucinich And Unicorns

Dennis Kucinich spoke on campus today, in an appearance arranged by his friend Roger Ailes.  Yes, you read that right.

After listening to Kucinich speak, I'm beginning to understand why Ailes sent him here.

Kucinich gave his basic, "You can be anything you want to be" high school speech, but then explained his political philosophy.  He said that we are all human beings with a common destiny and common dreams and we can work together to create a better world.

OK.  Maybe.

The reality of politics is that it's a competition for power and the exercising of that power.  What's more, people have very different visions of what human nature is and how that should influence power.  Kucinich's view that we are all part of a global human community is simply not shared by conservatives.  Conservatives view the world as a place where individuals seek out their separate destinies through a free society.  The idea that we can simply bridge this divide with paeans to our common humanity is naive.  You are literally speaking a different language than the other ideology.

There was a time when the parties weren't so ideologically riven, and it was possible for Scoop Jackson and Bob Dole to agree on things.  Ted Kennedy and Orrin Hatch's friendship allowed for certain compromises to be made.

But the GOP has so wrapped itself around an ideological position that ANY compromise is death.  And the idea that Democrats simply need to reach out more to the GOP to find "common humanity" is badly misreading what is happening.  If you need evidence of this, I offer you Donald Trump.  A great deal of Trump's appeal - maybe the single greatest factor - is his contempt for people that his supporters feel contempt for.  Hatred of the other is a fundamental factor in the far right, and increasingly, the GOP has become hostage to its far right wing.

I would like to live in a world where Kucinich's vision was true.  I do not.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

No, Donald Trump Isn't "Closer To The Presidency."

My Facebook feed is lighting up with people freaking out over Donald Trump's good night.  This is because we tend to think in narratives rather than large numbers.  Yes, Trump solidified his grip on the GOP nomination, but that doesn't mean he will become president.

And here are the reasons why:

1) Winning the GOP isn't winning the election.  How is President Romney doing these days?  Wait, the guy who ran for re-election with 7% unemployment and stagnant wages beat Romney handily? How can that be?

It's because America is moving more and more each year towards a Democratic electorate.  Each year brings fewer angry old white people and more Hispanic and African Americans, more socially liberal Millenials.  If America "looked" like it does today in 1972, George McGovern would've beaten Nixon.  And few candidates will more motivate the Obama Coalition to vote than Donald Trump. Trump trumps Clinton for voter mobilization.

This is why GOP elites are freaking out.  This is why Mitch McConnell is planning for his vulnerable Senate colleagues to run away from Trump in the general election.  The GOP needs a special set of circumstances to win the White House.  Those circumstances don't exist.  Why do they need a special set of circumstances?

2) Because it's all about the electoral college.  Here is my "best possible" map for Trump.  I don't see Trump winning many states that Romney lost.  Maybe he does resonate better among Ohio voters.  But poaching Ohio won't get him to 270.  Obama won Ohio by about 100,000 votes.  But even if Trump can get those "missing white voters" to the polls, how many independents recoil from his candidacy?  Romney won Arizona by about 200,000 votes.  How many missing Hispanic votes will show up this time around?  Same goes for Florida.  Obama won Minnesota by 8%, Nevada by 6%, New Hampshire by 6%, New Mexico by 10%, Pennsylvania by 5% and Wisconsin by 7%.  Did these states suddenly become MORE friendly to Republicans?

3) Trump hasn't been really beat up yet.  The Jon Oliver bit that has gone viral is just the first of many assaults on Trump.  These assaults won't matter to his core supporters.

BUT!  His core supporters consist of about 40-50% of the GOP electorate.  The GOP is about 30% of the entire electorate.  Where Trump could lose substantial support is among those who vote Republican but identify as independent.  Especially as attacks like those that Jon Oliver leveled become more common.

Trump is a target-rich environment.

4) Hope wins over fear.  Absent a catastrophic attack or an economic crisis, hope always wins.  Trump's message is nonsensical and fear-based.  Clinton unveiled her new theme that emphasizes unity and positivity.  That's a great message for her and a great message for anyone who is trying to beat Trump in a general election.  The GOP is full of people who are angry and afraid. But the country isn't full of the GOP.  A guy like Reagan won by being a sunny optimist, even if he did use coded racial attacks.

The difference between Trump and Rubio or Kasich isn't in their policies.  If anything, Trump's policies (to the degree he has any) are to the center of those guys.  It's his rhetoric that verges into Mussolini territory.  That will motivate only a few people.

5) Trump is a phony.  He's a con artist.  A lot of people understand this.  If they don't right now, they will by November.

6) Clinton benefits from running against Trump.  Clinton - to win - needed to motivate Democratic voters who are a bit fatigued with her and with the Clinton era politics.  Trump solves this problem for her.  Clinton has her share of baggage, but she has shown arguably the toughest "chin" in politics.  She has taken more shots than any political figure I can think of (except maybe her husband) and she comes out the other side every time.  You think the email thing is a scandal?  Wait until Trump's business ventures go under the microscope.

I don't know if Clinton could've beaten Rubio - a photogenic cipher - but she will beat Trump.  She has been through the wringer.  Trump hasn't.  Not yet, but he will.

So what special circumstances could propel Trump to the White House?  A massive attack on US soil, on the order of 9/11 but more so.  A complete collapse of the economy.  Or Hillary Clinton dropping dead in October.

That's the only way this happens.  And I get that Trump winning the nomination means that the chance of his becoming president becomes something more than zero.  But when it comes to actual policy, I'm not sure I see a ton of daylight between Trump and Ted Cruz or even Marco Rubio.

I know Clinton has her problems, but most of those problems are about perceptions.  She's too cold, too calculating.  She's inauthentic.  That makes her the anti-Trump.  Except Trump is lying his ass off.  He's illiterate on policy.  He doesn't know how government works.

That may not matter on the GOP side, but it will in the general election.

The Democratic Race

Clinton sits with an even 1000 delegates of the 2,382 she needs to win the nomination.  Sanders - because of his dearth of super-delegates and the drubbing he took last night - sits at 371.  Sanders, however, should have a good weekend, as he outperforms in caucuses and the lily white Great Plains.  Saturday should give Clinton the Louisiana primary, while Sanders should win the Kansas, Nebraska and Maine caucuses.

Sanders problem is that any momentum he gets from those caucuses will be blunted by the treasure trove of delegates awarded next Tuesday when Michigan and Mississippi should go big for Clinton.  That will lead in the Ides of March primaries, where Clinton could sweep Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina and even Ohio.  At that point, the delegate math becomes overwhelming.

Historical Illiteracy

The idea that the Klan was a "leftist terrorist organization" would be so laughably ignorant if it wasn't so scary.

The Democratic Party only moved to the left of American politics in 1896 when it tried to co-opt the Populist movement by nominating William Jennings Bryan.  (Bryan himself held very retrograde views on race, but race was not a left-right issue in 1896.)  It moved further to the left - especially on race under FDR and Truman, culminating in the Johnson administration.

There is a name for the Southern Democrats of yore: Republicans.  And ever since Nixon, the GOP had made coded and not-so-coded efforts to woo over whites who feel racial resentment over the advancement of blacks.  Jesus, that's the subtext of the last seven years.

Trump has taken that racial code and brought it out into the light for all to see; he has made it impossible to ignore.

But arguing that the Klan was leftist because 19th century Democrats supported it is not to understand what "left" means or what the history of race in this country is all about.

But then again, "not understanding" is critical to the Trumpenproletariat.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Clinton v Trump

I guess strange deeds could occur between now and the convention, but this night looks to cement those two into their nominations.  Sanders and Rubio are having poor nights.  Cruz and Kasich might stick around.

Behold The Trumpenproletariat

There are authoritarians in our midst.  And the want to "make America great again."

Seriously, read the thing.  And read the quote from HL Mencken at the top of the page.

Trump is a product partly of race-panic, but mostly because Fox News and right wing media in general have beaten a steady drumbeat of doom and gloom.  The Ebola nonsense and the farcical idea that ISIS can defeat the US are part and parcel of this ridiculous fascination with threats that don't really exist.

And that gives rise to authoritarian movements across the globe, and now in the US.