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

Monday, October 31, 2016

Presumption Of Guilt

Yglesias on how the Clinton Rules have rendered basic ideas of justice moot, as long as the target is named Clinton.

Why We Are In The Gutter

James Comey felt the need to cover his ass by releasing information about an on-going investigation ten days before an election.  This is unprecedented and against Justice Department rules and norms.

Democrats are beginning to push back, with Harry Reid waiving the Hatch Act around and Steve Cohen calling on him to resign.  In many ways, this is lamentable.  I've never been a real fan of "Democrats should fight dirty because Republicans fight dirty."  I think the Party of Governance should hold itself to a higher standard.

Comey was clearly more scared of getting attacked by Republican lawmakers than Democratic lawmakers.  He was scared of rogue agents within the FBI leaking this info to the press, primarily because they tilt Republican in Hooverville.  In other words, the FBI shows signs of becoming a partisan outfit.

If the Democrats don't counterpunch, this won't stop.  What Comey did was craven, and it might or might not have an effect on the election.  My thinking is that it stops the possibility of a wave election that might carry the House.  If we allow people within the civil service to influence our elections, we are screwed as a country.

So, counterpunch away, fellas.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

I'm Going To Miss Harry Reid

Harry Reid may or may not have inside information about Donald Trump's ties to Russia.  I would honestly say it's 50/50 that he does.  Because Harry Reid doesn't give a fuck.

So, he's more than willing to accuse James Comey of violating the Hatch Act and working to help Republicans (Comey is a Republican after all).  If he's wrong, he's retiring anyway. If he can force the FBI to release damaging information about Trump's ties to Russia?

That would make him a steely-eyed missile man.

Your Weekend Read

Susan Faludi explains where Hillary hatred begins and why it needs to be defeated.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

If History Be Our Guide...

I'm guessing there is zero or close to zero new information in those new emails found on the shared computer of Huma Abedin and walking human sewer Anthony Weiner.

The FBI was investigating Weiner.  They found emails to Clinton.  They have to investigate.  At this point, they could be looking at emails that they already have seen from Clinton's end.

For 20+ years, we've been living through this same dismal, fucking cycle: Horrifying Headlines; Conditional Caveat; Walking Back the Allegation; Inevitable Deescalation.  Remind me again what was so awful about the Clinton Foundation?  Remind again what was so terrible about Whitewater?

As Ezra Klein notes this gives both sides what they want.  It allows Republicans to think that they might actually win and it allows Democrats to freak out and run around sure that they are going to lose.  That latter is so freaking depressing it hurts my brain.

The real issue is unlikely to be whether Clinton wins the White House.  My guess is that most voters have made up their minds about this race by now.  The issue, as Martin Longman points out, is that this arrests the possibility of a wave election that sweeps Democrats to control of the House.  Such a result is not only preferable from a partisan point of view, but having Democrats control all three branches of government for even two years would allow for some actual governing to occur.  Republicans are simply unwilling or unable to accomplish basic tasks of legislating, so a few years of having a functioning Congress would be awesome.

This feels like a procedural nothing-burger that could wreck American politics even more.

UPDATE: Josh Marshall points out that Comey managed to make an untenable and impossible position and make it worse.

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Other Shoe

I've been expecting another round of bad Trump leaks to drop any day now.  I figured about 10 days out from the election - on a Friday - would be a good time to drop some opposition research out there.

Turns out it was the FBI that was waiting to drop a bomb.

It certainly seems like this is just due diligence, and I am willing to bet the farm there is nothing especially damning in whatever they discovered.  In short, the big issue here again is the Clinton family tendency to let a scandal bleed out and play poorly, rather than ripping the Band Aid off quickly.

No doubt this will also embolden morons like Rep. Chaffetz who want to relitigate Benghazi, the Clinton Foundation, Vince Foster, the Lindbergh baby and Jack the Ripper.

However, if the Clintons are holding on to a nice juicy piece of Trump being an asshole, now might be the time to let it fly.

You Need To Read This

Zach Beauchamp basically lays out - yet again - why David Brooks is fundamentally illiterate about the politics of this country.

If you don't understand the history of race, you don't understand America.  Not its past.  Not its future.  And certainly not its present.

Bad News/Good News

The Trump campaign wants to engage in voter suppression.

Luckily they don't have enough money to do it well.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

What Is White Privilege?

This is white privilege.

Radical Transparency

Here is what might be an interesting discussion on the WikiLeaks dumping of John Podesta's emails.  (I don't know, I'm proctoring an essay and can't listen to it.)

I will admit that I find Glenn Greenwald an insufferable douchecanoe who lives in the sort of Magical Unicorn Land of Brightly Colored Pixies that typifies a certain type of Libertarian Narcissist.
But I wanted to talk about the very idea of "radical transparency."  Klein, apparently, feels that there should be limits to this transparency, because - SURPRISE! - it might be applied to her.  It turns out that taking pot shots at the powerful isn't so much fun when you yourself become a public figure.

I would argue even further that the very idea of radical transparency is corrosive of democratic government.

By all means, government ACTIONS should be transparent.  Bills should not be forced through a vote in the middle of the night without sufficient public review.  The deliberation that go into writing a law absolutely should be secret.  The horse-trading and log-rolling that typified legislating prior to the Tea Party and the radical transparency movement is what made the whole freaking mess work.  American democracy didn't work because it was "super awesome with terrific sauce" but because it consisted - from the very drafting of the Constitution - in a series of backroom deals and compromises.

The radical transparency movement seeks to destroy that climate of private deal making.  This is the ultimate expression of purity politics.  We expect elected officials to agree with us all the time, and if they deviate from the One True Faith, we shall excommunicate and crucify them.  This is more true on the Tea Party right, but certainly represents a powerful force on Left.

Hillary Clinton is - in many ways - the perfect person for this moment.  She is very adept at backroom dealing and compromise. She's a doer.  And she's also completely out of fucks to give about how people view her.  She probably resents being called Killary or Shillary by her putative allies, but in the end, she's tougher than most people give her credit for.

I would love to see us return to a few more smoke filled rooms, a few more efforts at compromise legislation that don't get torpedoed by someone leaking the deliberations to the rapist in the Ecuadorian embassy.

Ultimately, I want politics to work again.  It doesn't have to be pure, and I don't have to agree with it.  I don't expect my politics to be like a Netflix cue where I hand select exactly the show I want to watch, while my son watches something else in the next room.  I expect it to be like family movie night where we argue and search for compromise and eventually wind up watching something we can all agree on.  The Netflix option is easier.  By far.

But family movie night is so much healthier and robust.  We've lost that capacity in our politics, and I would argue that while our a la carte approach to life in the Internet Age is partly to blame, the creed of radical transparency simply makes it worse.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Funny 'Cause It's True

SNL had a well-deserved bit of political humor, and it wasn't their hilarious take on the debates.

Jamelle Bouie explains.  Subtlety and sophistication aren't really hallmarks of SNL's political humor, but I think he's right.  This sketch really pulls off something observant and true.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Never Look At Just One Poll, But...

The ABC poll has some internals that Josh Marshall has flagged - rightly - as being significant.  The poll shows a collapse in voting enthusiasm among Republicans.  Here's the key finding:

The previous ABC/Post poll found a sharp 12-point decline in enthusiasm for Trump among his supporters, almost exclusively among those who’d preferred a different GOP nominee. Intended participation now has followed: The share of registered Republicans who are likely to vote is down 7 points since mid-October.

That is what creates a wave election.

Martin Longman notes that when the race is effectively over by 9PM EST, western Republicans will still be trying to get their voters to the polls.  This only combines with Trump's problems with Latino voters.

Maybe Clinton really is only up about 6 points.  I'm guessing it's more.  Because math.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Now, This Is A Story About Trump Voters That Is Important

Trump has lost each debate.  He has been hammered by controversies of his own making.  His party is close to open civil war over his candidacy.  And now he is basically turning his back on some basic political norms.

The result could very well be a very depressed turnout among Republican voters.  All of his statements about a rigged election, every unforced error that upsets normal people...all of these make it less likely that people will vote.

The single greatest advantage Republicans have had is that their voters always show up.  Midterms, presidential elections...those old GOP voters will show up.

If Trump significantly depresses GOP voting, that is what puts the House in play.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

What If He Won?

I mean, he won't.  But what if he did?

He gives every inclination of being a dictator, and this is only the latest in a long string of scary statements.

Maybe in 2020, the GOP will have an entrance exam before their primaries.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Seriously People?

"Where did Trump come from?"

I think we are all sick of that question.

Clearly, Trump voters and the Republican base has had a fractious relationship with facts since the creation of Fox News.  But it's not enough simply to misunderstand US trade policy or the nature of supply side economics.  There has to be more at work than simply not understanding policy.

In order to make a really bad decision, it helps to be afraid.

Vox has a sort of funny piece about how scared America is of clowns.  Ha ha!  And Topical!

What struck me was what Americans are scared of besides clowns.  Sixty-one percent of Americans are scared of corrupt government.


America does not have a "corrupt" government, if we are talking about officials enriching themselves off the state. You can make the Bernie argument that the system is corrupt simply because he doesn't get what he wants, but honestly, the idea that we have a hopelessly corrupt system is simply not borne out by the evidence.  American government may not give you the results that you want, but it isn't "corrupt" unless you define corruption as anything that doesn't meet your expectations.

It gets worse: 38% of American worry about their guns being taken away; 36% are afraid of Obamacare.  How the everloving fuck does one get to be afraid of health insurance subsidies and insurance exchanges?  Where are you getting your information that Obamacare represents a threat?

Biological warfare clocks in at 35%, whereas climate change only garners 32% on the fear-o-meter.

Roughly twice as many Americans are "afraid" of corrupt government - a thing which objectively doesn't really exist - than are afraid of the slow cooking of our planet - a thing which very much is happening.

Our news infrastructure revolves around getting eyeballs, and you get eyeballs by scaring people.

The result?  We are a stupider nation than we need to be.  And that stupidity has lead to Trump.

Thursday, October 20, 2016


One clear difference in Clinton as a candidate from 2008 to 2016 is how much more nimble the operation around her is.  In 2008, Mark Penn only figured out in March how the freaking delegate system worked.  This time around, before the Purell has dried from Clinton's hand from the post debate handshake, they have a Nasty Woman campaign going.

They used to say - somewhat derisively - that Obama played 11 dimensional chess while Romney and McCain played checkers.  Maybe it wasn't Obame but the organization he built and empowered; not the sclerotic old hacks like Penn, but media savvy youngs.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump is playing Dodgeball against a mirrored wall.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


So, Trump once again proves he doesn't give a shit about democratic institutions.  This is because he is a combination of a cranky old fart writing threads in the Yahoo! comment thread and the fucking legacy kid who doesn't bother to do his homework in US history, because Daddy will loan him a few million bucks to get his company up and running.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, Clinton nailed the policy stuff. Shocker.  Trump was once again exposed as a no-nothing hack.  Shocker.

But Trump has been dancing around this question of whether he would concede if he loses (which he will).  He can't do that.  And the Democrats will spend the next 72 hours hanging that statement around the neck of every Republican they can.

Finally, there is another woman coming forward with charges that Trump assaulted her.  Here's what I think the plan was/is:

1) Use the first debate to goad Trump into making self-defeating statements (Alicia Machado).

2) Release damaging video tapes that your opposition research team had on Trump.

3) Make the second debate about those tapes.

4) Manage the third debate by working to your strengths: steely strength and policy mastery.

5) Start a steady barrage of oppo research from now until election day.

Obviously the news media - well, OK, the Washington Post - has been finding stories about Trump on their own, but a lot of these hit pieces come from opposition research.  Given the trajectory of the campaign - Clinton winning bigly - the debate was the last chance Trump could use to turn it around.  He didn't.

Now that he's drowning, you throw him the anchor.  When the Billy Bush tape leaked, the rumor was that there was a worse one out there.  If that's true, you don't release that until after the last debate for two reasons.  One, you don't want to give Trump a chance to respond.  Two, you save it in case Clinton has a terrible performance.

My guess is that the fusillade of attacks on Trump isn't nearly done yet.  We've got 20 freaking days to go.

Lives Of Loud Desperation

Martin Longman quotes from a newsletter from Al Giordano:

When we see or hear fifty-year-old guys in the media threatening coups d’etat or assassination attempts against a Hillary presidency, keep in mind that these dudes couldn’t win an arm-wrestling contest. Theirs are expressions of profound impotence: a lament that their whiteness and maleness does not today infuse them with the automatic privilege and power they were promised as boys.
Such expressions – whether from some asshole on social media or a bitter relative at the family Thanksgiving table – are meant to inflame. They respond to social cues that the rest of us provide them. Guys like that figure out what words are likely to offend or traumatize others and they shout them precisely to upset. In their lives of loud desperation, the moment when they cause stress to others may be the only time anyone pays them any attention at all. It provides a fleeting illusion of the power that they thought was their birthright. Alone at twilight, many with a couple of divorces later, with kids that generally hate them, causing trauma is the only move left in their playbook to say: “I am,” and to be noticed at all.

Damn, as the kids say.  That leaves a mark.

Longman and others are beginning to predict a wave.  Those that are beginning to predict a wave are some of the more prescient commentators out there.  Longman predicted Trump in the summer.

The summer of 2012.

I'm not as sanguine.  I hope for a wave that sweeps away the GOP House majority, because I fear for what may come with a government divided between Democrats and Lunatics.

If the demographic waves doesn't get here soon, hopefully the meteor will.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Coming Crisis

Let's assume that Hillary Clinton is elected the 45th president of the United States.

Let's assume that the Republic survives whatever sore-loser outburst from Donald Trump that could undermine faith in our democracy.

Let's assume that we don't see a wave election that delivers the House to the Democrats.

What the hell happens next?  Martin Longman is usually right about this stuff, and he thinks Ryan is doomed.  Maybe he secretly wanted the job last time and his disavowals were just kabuki, but maybe he really doesn't want to herd the kittens of his caucus.

The GOP is splitting at the seams, but their crack-up could have profound implications for our government.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

If You Ask Me...

Hillary Clinton should schedule a trip to Hillsborough, NC and volunteer to help clean up the firebombed Republican Party office.  Don't just issue a statement, get in there and show what the words mean.

This election is mean and getting meaner.  Go high.

We're Screwed

At least that's the conclusion of this piece.  Now, that's an exaggeration, but the idea that people rationally choose whom to vote for has always been an ideal rather than a reality.  This piece unravels this well.

However, it also notes that people take their cues from elites.  If Barack Obama supports marriage equality, then suddenly so do most African Americans, who previously hadn't.

The good news is that there are more people taking their cues from Democrats these days.

The bad news is that there are millions of people taking their cues from Donald Trump.

That last one should worry us.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Toxic Masculinity

I've been thinking about this crisis in masculinity a lot recently.  As both a teacher and a father of boys, I wonder how to provide the context and wisdom to a generation of men who may harbor some archaic ways of thinking about women.  Last night, a colleague walked into a student room where a kid was saying, "I believe women should have equalish rights."  Equalish?  What does that mean?  Arguments that maybe women have it easier than men in certain settings?  I can see a 15 year old boy thinking that.  But how does anyone feels that women shouldn't have equal rights?

The world - despite what you see on your TV - is a gentler place than it was a decades ago.  And that gentleness redounds to women's benefit.  When you replace physical aggression with demonstrated ability, you advantage skill over brute strength.  And I am firm, also, in my belief that modern elementary education is a terrible model for boys.

But the result of allowing men to feel that they are the real victims is the rise of charlatans like Trump.  His narcissistic predations on women are a natural extension of this line of thinking.  If a woman is an object, she can be treated without considering her experience.  As Josh Marshall and others have pointed out, Trump's entire shtick is dominance.  And the people who want to dominate most - bullies - are often the most wounded and cowardly.

All of this makes Jamelle Bouie's piece important. Donald Trump will not be our next president.  That it will be Hillary Clinton that defeats him is perhaps perfect.

UPDATE: Of course, it's also about racism...

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Edmund Burke Would Like A Word

When we think of "conservative" we usually think: Reagan!  But the word means something, mainly to conserve or preserve traditions against radical change.

The Conservative Movement - pioneered by people like Phyllis Schlafly and Richard Viguerie and accelerated by people like Jerry Falwell - is only marginally "conservative".  It is really more reactionary.  Reactionary is simply a desire to "turn back the clock" - it's a direction rather than a policy agenda.

So, the Conservative Movement is largely the Reactionary Movement and the Reactionary Movement has largely become entirely synonymous with the Republican Party.

Within the GOP, however, exists a policy agenda that is largely libertarian on economic matters and imperialist in its foreign policy.  This is the agenda of party elites, but Trump has exposed that the mass of the Reactionary Movement has little interested in business deregulation or cuts in the capital gains tax.

At the heart of the modern Reactionary Movement sits White Ethnonationalism.  The past that American Reactionaries want to return to is one that is whiter and more male-dominant than today.  This can take the form of anti-abortion policies, immigration policies or police tactics.  But overall, "take back my country" implicit argues that the country has fallen into the hands of usurpers, and those usurpers are people of color and women.

We now have efforts by "conservative" intellectuals to advocate for Trump.  Their basic argument, however, is not conservative; it is profoundly radical.  They want to burn the whole thing down.  Seriously.  They believe that "political correctness" in all its many forms will destroy the Republic through its use of gender-neutral pronouns.  So we have to install a dangerous narcissistic sociopath.  Those are our options, apparently.

That so-called "conservatives" would advocate for destroying the fabric of American governance exposes the lie that they are conservative in any meaningful use of the word.  They are ethnonationalists.  They don't like the fact that white men don't run everything anymore and they are willing to inflict great pain and turmoil on the country in order to stop efforts to make the country more equal.

That was the impetus behind the John Birch Society and the Klan; Goldwater and Reagan; Buchanan and Duke; and Trump and his tiny, groping hands.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

My Thomas Friedman Moment

My entirely unscientific observation: Driving Thing One to school today, I saw about 1/4th of the Trump signs I saw on Friday when I went to pick him up.  Maybe vandals took them, but this is a pretty red part of a blue state and a sizable Trump demographic. It could be that they will still vote for him in the privacy of the booth, but the enthusiasm for that Cheetoh colored shit gibbon seems to be waning.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

This Where We Live Now, Apparently

I Trump simply a cipher for Russia or white supremacists?

I'm telling you, there is some damning Russia information out there, and it will be one of the next shoes to drop.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Defining Deviancy Down

This has always worried me about Donald Trump.  He's a loathsome shitstain of a human being.  He says and does awful things the way some people breathe.

But now that he's the GOP nominee, everything he does gets refiltered through the political spectrum.  Now, many GOP leaders are trying to walk away from him, without alienating his supporters.  Good luck with that, by the way.  Others have simply moved the goalposts.  As gnomish cretin Jeff Sessions says, it's not sexual assault to grab a woman's genitals because reasons.  While I laughed hard at the SNL cold open, the fact is this isn't really funny, it isn't locker room talk and it isn't OK.  Because GOP operatives have to defend the Tangerine Nightmare, they wind up defending sexual assault.

As Jon Chait notes, the Trump that stalked and wheezed and sniffed his way across the stage last night was in fact part and parcel of the GOP attitudes about rape and women and Muslims and the environment.  It has been said often that Trump is the comment section come to life.  He is, in fact, the walking representation of a Fox News/Breitbart/Drudge consumer.

So, does Trump's sexual assault bragging normalize this sort of behavior?  Or does it expose it?  My guess in the end is that it exposes it.  There are plenty of men - and it's almost exclusively men - who don't think much of this stuff.  To them it is just words.  It is banter.  Don't believe me?  Ask Billy Bush.  (I hear he has time on his hand, so he's free to take your questions.)

In sum, this could be another Clarence Thomas moment, where a behavior that men have tolerated for too long gets dragged out into the light and exposed for what it really is.

The final lesson could be given on November 8th, but the early returns are promising.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Click Click Boom

Of course, Trump is going to lose.  Trump was almost certainly going to lose before he showed his ass.  Trump was likely to lose as soon as he won the nomination.

Keep a few things in mind.

First, this isn't over.  Trump has more skeletons to come dancing out of his closet.  The thing is: those skeletons were always there.  The fact that Jeb! Bush's own cousin knew about this tape and never thought to disclose it to his cousin begs the question: Where was Bush and Cruz and Rubio's opposition research?  How in the world could they not expose this fraud and human sewer before he won the nomination?

Of course, this leads to the second point: Trump isn't the real problem.  Republicans actually do love this guy, and they hate their elected officials.  This is the Frankenstein monster model of Trump.  The GOP has, ever since Nixon, played footsie with the vilest, most (ahem) deplorable elements in American politics.  They've gorged them on a diet of Fox News with a side dish of Drudge with Glenn Beck dessert with Alex Jones crushed nuts on top.  You literally cannot provide evidence that will convince a hard core Republican that his candidate is incapable of assuming the duties of the presidency.

If the Establishment GOP tries to remove Trump, there will be hell to pay.  If they isolate and try and distance themselves from Trump, there will be hell to pay.  As one GOP mandarin said when Trump won the nomination: "This proves every bad thing Democrats have said about Republicans."  Well.  Yeah.  It does.  All those vile racist things?  The war on women you denied was happening?  The veneration of power over principle?  Yeah, that was all true.

The GOP professionals are not stupid.  They can read polls - and the private polls have Trump losing by more - and they know that getting in bed with the Trumpenproletariat means that they will likely lose a lot more presidential elections.

They also know that if they dump Trump, they could lose the House.  But that could happen if they embrace him.  They need the Deplorables to come vote.  If they depress the Trump vote, Nancy Pelosi will be Speaker.

It looks like their best bet is to hunker down, weather 2016 and hope they can repeat their 2010 magic.

In the end, they will need to decide what their party will be.  Because the crack-up is coming.

The crack-up is already here.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Der Gropenfuhrer*

Folks, this will not be the last instance of Donald Trump being shown to be exactly who Donald Trump is.  My guess is that this was released when it was released because NBC had the tape and wasn't releasing it or because the Wikileaks release of Clinton's speeches was yesterday and this drowns out the mildly embarrassing revelation that Clinton tells audiences what they want to hear.

We are already learning that Trump has committed tax fraud in NYC by claiming a tax break on a non-resident domicile that was intended for the middle class.  We can be reasonably certain that there are more damning financial statements, more damning racist and misogynistic statements and more brushes with legal troubles than we have seen.  Trump is a vulgarian.  When Kelly Ayotte said Trump should be a role model, you know the DSCC had a small collective orgasm.

Now, the RNC is meeting to try and figure out what to do with this guy.  How much fealty do they owe him?  His voters?  Do you just ride out 2016 and wait to take everything back in 2018?  At what point does the entire establishment cut this guy loose?

Oh, and thanks, Donald, for making me have to teach this shit.

* h/t Betty Cracker

Friday, October 7, 2016

Good Read

Who knew Time still existed?

Johnstein 2016

The only current variable in the presidential election - aside from Clinton's margin of victory - is the potential role of third party candidates to act as spoilers.  Given both Trump and Clinton's unpopularity, this would be the year for one of these third party tickets to shine.  In fact, the worry is that they reproduce the Nader problem from 2000, when Nader cost Gore Florida and probably New Hampshire, and thus the presidency.

There are a few problems.

First, we need to acknowledge just how abysmal these two yahoos are as candidates.  Ross Perot had a message.  It was simplistic and largely false, but it had cohesion - even if he personally was all over the map.  Johnson is not only for marijuana legalization, he's probably stoned right now.  His complete lack of knowledge or understanding would be humorous if he weren't running for president.  Gary Johnson is that guy Jimmy Kimmel interviews about current events to prove how stupid Americans are.

Jill Stein is worse.  An anti-vaxxer, 9/11-truther-curious yahoo with the political insights of a fool.

And right now all these maroons, including a few you haven't even heard of, are polling at non-negligible levels.

As Matthew Yglesias notes historically these protest candidates underperform their poll numbers.  Many of their poll supporters stay home, because their choice of Jill Stein is primarily about protesting the duopoly of the political system.  In the end, it's easier just to stay home and watch Portlandia on Netflix.  Protest achieved.

There is also the fact that whatever petulance one might feel about being forced to choose between a Cheetoh colored, ferret wearing shit gibbon and a career politician ultimately dissolves before the actual choice.  You express your displeasure to Pew, but come November 8th, you bubble in the name of someone who can actually win.

A huge defection of Clinton leaners to third party candidates is the only plausible way that Trump can become president.  Luckily for Clinton, Trump is doing a great job of reminding them why they shouldn't play Russian Roulette with American democracy.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Well, This Is A Terrible Idea

This is why the academy never really exercises political power.  Here is a legal way for the Republicans to "flip the ticket" by basically saying that Trump will voluntarily step aside for Mike Pence on January 20th.  There are some other legal tricks involved in holding Trump to this, because Republicans would almost certainly control the levers of power on Capitol Hill.  But on some level, this requires Trump to put the needs of the Republican party above his own ego.

As we saw throughout the primary season, Trump doesn't give two farts in a hurricane about the Republican establishment.  In fact, his primary appeal to his hardcore supporters is precisely that he ISN'T part of the McConnell/Ryan/Pence crowd.  The Tea Party/Trumpista wing of the party HATES its Washington incarnation.  If they could somehow force Trump to do this (they can't), his lack of self-discipline would prevent him from sticking to that promise for more than a news cycle.  It would cause exactly the schism in the Republican coalition that they have been trying to avoid.

Finally, this is a direct and unconscionable assault on the bedrock principles of popular sovereignty and democratic rule.  Republican voters nominated Donald Trump.  The fact that he's an incompetent politician for the general election is irrelevant.  The idea that people would go to the polls and vote for an inverse ticket is borderline fraud.

In many ways, this article is perfect though.  Trump has never learned that just because you are legally able to do something doesn't mean you should.  Apparently Professor Amar feels the same way.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016


Tim Kaine did not advance the personal career of Tim Kaine last night.  Of course, that wasn't his job, and one thing Kaine is is a "good soldier."

What he did was set a new media agenda for the week.  Josh Marshall is right.  Pence seemed like a reasonable conservative, rather than the absolute nut job that his career suggests.  But he was calm and dignified, unlike Trump.  He's like Ben Carson, in that he can say crazy things in a reassuring voice, but without Sleepy Time Ben's incipient narcolepsy.

But that's not the point.  Pence "won" the debate by pivoting back to talking points (all while complaining about talking points) rather than defending what couldn't be defended.

The problem is that what couldn't be defended was Donald Trump.  Plus, Pence lied like a rug.  And the Internet age is rather unforgiving of that much lying.  Pundits may have praised Pence's equanimity, but the follow up fact checking is and will be brutal.  Basically, you have Pence on tape saying that Trump didn't say the things that we have Trump saying.  First, that makes Pence a liar or a fool and second, it allows for more campaign ads showcasing all the wretched things Trump has said.

The strategy of getting Pence on the record about Trump was flexible enough that if Pence had agreed with Trump (like Kelly Ayotte did), you can tie the entire GOP to a deeply offensive man.  If he denies he said what he said, you attack him as fundamentally dishonest.  If he repudiates Trump - or even outshines him - you set up the fragile ego of the Tangerine Nightmare for an epic blowback

Well, This Sucks

David Daley, a left wing writer, makes a compelling case that the GOP has locked in its gerrymander from 2010 until at least 2030.  I think most people assumed that 2020 would be the Democrats opportunity to reverse what was done in the Tea Party wave, but there are a number of reasons why that might not happen.

One is simply the scale and size of the gerrymander.  Two is the reinforcing nature of it.  Once you gerrymander the state assemblies, you perpetuate control of those state assemblies.

It would therefore take a true Democratic wave in 2020 to reverse what was done in 2010.  That brings in the fact that the likely Clinton victory in 2016 will also probably lead to a GOP victory or a narrow Democratic win in 2020.  As Mike Pence proved last night, there would have been an advantage to running a non-crazy person as the Republican against Hillary Clinton.  Incumbency has its advantages and the public seems to like split government (probably because they don't understand the downsides).  So Clinton can likely win in 2020, but she's unlikely to carry a wave with her that unseats Republicans in state houses across the country.

Ultimately, I do believe that once Republicans get control of all branches of government again, it will lead to a Democratic House and perhaps a wave like 2006.  I also think that the demographics that favor the Democrats will eventually sweep away some Republican safe districts.

But that's hardly worth rooting for.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Snap Judgment, If You Care

I can smell the CW congealing around the Veep debate:  Mike Pence won the debate and Donald Trump lost it.

Tim Kaine took of his Ned Flanders suit and went full Sideshow Bob on Trump, challenging Pence to defend his running mate's absurd and inflammatory comments.  Pence mostly refused to do that, sticking to his talking points or outright lying about what Trump has said.

I've seen several Twitter comments along the lines of "Kaine is running for vice president in 2016 and Pence is running for president in 2020."

Kaine was certainly not running as the nice guy he seemed throughout the rest of the campaign.  It seems pretty clear that the latest Clinton ad is going to be a bunch of Republicans refusing to agree with Trump (or agreeing with him).  It could be that Kaine's mission was to tie the GOP to Trump.  That's a long term strategy of making the GOP repugnant.

That Pence simply denied that Trump said all the things Trump said may have rendered that moot.  However, if enough people say that Pence didn't defend Trump enough, when will Trump turn on him?  We know how thin-skinned Trump is.

At any rate, Trump will likely feel the need to regain the limelight after 90 minutes of not having Pence defend him or praise him.  He was engaged in a Twitter fight with Megyn Kelly during the debate.  What will happen at 2:00 AM?

Or maybe this will be all we have to remember the debate for:

Lack Of Consequences

 Senator Jeff Flake admits that holding up Merrick Garland's nomination is bullshit.  Of course, we all know that it's bullshit.  We have known that it was bullshit since the moment Mitch McConnell announced that it was going to happen.

The GOP Senate is not doing the job that it was elected to do.  And there is a non-negligible chance that many of these people who are not doing their job will get another 6 years to not do their job.  In Chait's interview with Obama, the President notes that the single biggest problem we have in a broken Congress.  The old wheeling and dealing is dead, because the internal politics of the GOP killed it.

And they won't suffer for breaking it, because we are a profoundly stupid country when it comes to our politics.

Monday, October 3, 2016

I Miss Him Already

Jon Chait interviewed Barack Obama.


There are three things to keep track of with Trump's taxes.

First, he didn't pay income taxes for years, because he bundled a huge amount of losses into one year.  Legal, but completely unrelatable for most Americans.

Second, he lost WHAT?  Trump's brand is dominance, but he got pwned in the 1990s.  He will now have to explain how he lost all that money.

Third, how will he react?  There are already signs that he's unraveling.  How much could he implode?

Sunday, October 2, 2016

October Surprise Comes Early

So, the Times waited until October 1st to release a partial tax return that they had been sitting on for a while.  A compelling theory is that they waited so that people wouldn't have used their ten free visits to the Times website to read the article.  Frankly, I could now pivot and write about the crappy paywall at the Times, but let's keep our eye on the ball.

Trump - if you hadn't heard - logged a $916,000,000 loss in 1995.  As he ran his Atlantic City
"empire" into the ground, he basically took the loss in one year.  He then was able to spread the loss out over a number of years, effectively absolving him from paying income taxes.

Now, this was entirely legal.  That's the way the tax code works.  Capital losses can be spread over time to avoid paying taxes in future years.

The next question is: Why?  Especially on the scale that Trump did this, the capital loss provision is yet another way that our tax code privileges the wealthy.  Again, Trump didn't break the law.  The problem IS the law.

Trump's primary appeal seems to be that he will burn shit down.  He speaks to people who want to see the whole thing come crashing down.  I suppose that the revelations in his taxes will oddly appeal to many of them, because it's yet another example of how the system is rigged for the wealthy.  If you hate the system, Trump will certainly challenge it.

The second question, that Trump supporters seem incapable of asking, is whether he would destroy the system and replace it with something better.  For a sane person, the second question is critical.  Destroying things is easy; building things is hard.  Trump has shown little vision or ability to build things that are lasting.

Finally, it will be fascinating to see how these revelations play on Trump's notorious thin skin.  First of all, it seems that the tax returns were sent from Trump Tower.  So someone on the inside stuck the shiv in.  My guess is that he will focus on that for a week.  Meanwhile, who loses a billion dollars?  Trump's brand is dominance.  Here is an example of a crushing and humiliating loss.  Trump will have to spin this into a positive - "I'm so smart to work the tax code this way" - because he simply can't help himself.

So, we have currently simmering in the news: Alicia Machado and Trump's fat-shaming; Trump's lack of paying taxes and massive business losses and now we have a report that he pressured Marla Maples into posing for Playboy and appeared in a softcore Playboy video (clothed, thank God).

Trump is the ultimate target-rich environment.  The man is a dumpster fire of a human being.  Yet literally NOTHING he can do will dissuade his supporters - historically 27% of the population - because of who they are.

Read that last link with a stiff drink handy.

Saturday, October 1, 2016


Go read this.

Giuliani got caught in the same Trumpist Bubble that Donald lives in.  The key takeaway is the observation that Trump only reflected the racism and sexism that the crowds wanted.  Giuliani has been doing the same.

That's a scary and important point.  Trump has a history of both racism and sexism that allows him to embrace the views of his angrier mobs.

But the mobs were angry and racist and sexist before he got there.