Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Election Integrity

From the beginning of this election cycle President-Elect Trump claimed the system is rigged, millions of illegal voters voted, the dead have voted, etc. That is until he won and then it was I also won the popular vote as millions voted illegally for Clinton. Historically, voter fraud has hardly been an issue and it has been measured in the tens of thousands of 1%. What is claimed to be voter fraud is usually voting irregularities or issues with the procedures and process of voting. Even though there is no evidence of wide spread voter fraud, it has not stopped states from putting in place new laws to supposedly safe guard the vote and at the same time making it more difficult to vote. Amongst those states who have installed new requirements to vote or register are “9 of the 15 previously covered in whole or in part by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act because of a state’s history of preventing minorities from voting.

The Electoral Integrity Project is an independent academic project at Harvard University and the University of Sydney. It is directed by Harvard University Professor Pippa Norris and governed by an International Advisory Board. Using 726 political scientists based in local universities in each state, the EIP evaluated the process and procedures of voting in each state using 49 core indicators which were then grouped into 11 ranking categories. The highest attainable ranking in any one category is 100 points. The project reviews the entire electoral cycle from the pre-election stage, the campaign itself, the actual polling day, and the aftermath. The results of the 2016 election and the corresponding state rankings are in Figure 1 (click on the picture for a larger version).

invisible hand

In speaking for the SCOTUS majority vote of 5, Chief Justice John Roberts repealed Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act claiming things had changed dramatically since the 1960s. Congress could no longer require states and counties to get the approval of the Department of Justice to change plans or put in place requirements for minorities to vote. The thought was the additional approval and supervision by the DOJ was no longer needed as these jurisdictions could be trusted to treat minorities fairly going forward.

State wide voting restrictions directed at minorities were viewed as a problem of the past when discrimination was blatant. With the passing of decades it was felt these States had outgrown past biases with minorities and could be allowed to govern voting rules and regulation on their own by SCOTUS. Evidence of such was not so positive and recent reviews show the states in the South had the weakest electoral performance overall in 2016. The newly passed North Carolina GOP State House laws to restrict the power of Democrat Governor Roy Cooper before he takes office suggest such thoughts of fairness were optimistic. The Rust Belt ‘Blue Wall’ states of Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin were also problematic. By contrast, the quality of elections in the Pacific West and New England were viewed positively.

Figure 2 shows the ranking of each state amongst the other states for “perceptions of Electoral Integrity” from the highest Election Integrity at 1 (Vermont) to the lowest Election Integrity (Arizona) at 51 (Click on the picture for a larger version).

invisible hand

Vote counting, the Voting Process, and the role of Electoral Authorities were shown to be less problematic than Congressional Voting District Boundary Delineation, State Electoral laws, Campaign Media, and Political Money in the Electoral process. North Carolina comes in at #1 followed by Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Texas, and South Carolina for Congressional Voting District Delineation. The aggregate for Congressional Voting District Delineation is 33 and is the lowest of the 11 categories with Electoral Laws (Voting IDs, Early Voting, Provisional Ballots, etc) being next.

It is no secret, delineation of state Congressional Districts has led to additional Congressional Representatives of a political party being sent to Congress. As an example, Michigan has had a greater than 50% Democrat majority vote since 1992 and its Congressional delegation to the House has been less than 50% Democrats. This is the result of Congressional redistricting after every Census by a Republican majority in the state. As it now stands, changes to Congressional Districts will not happen until 2022 and only if the Democrats can take back state legislatures or if courts overrule the Congressional District delineation in place now or created in 2022 after the next Census. There is a far greater issue with Republican drawn districts than Democrat.

Other issues which need sunlight and additional discussion are Campaign Media, the lack of substantive Policy Discussion during the campaign, the False Equivalency Standards of Journalism, and the overwhelmingly Negative Tone of news coverage.

If one were to compare states by political control using this data, Democrat – Controlled states showed greater “Electoral Integrity than Republican – controlled states. Figure 3 shows in the aggregate assessments of each of the eleven stages during the electoral cycle compared with which party controlled the State House. With the exception of “Reporting Results” across all the remaining stages, “the gap was substantial and statistically significant on the issues of gerrymandered district boundaries, voter registration, electoral laws, and the performance of electoral officials.” Democrat controlled states out performed Republican controlled states in Electoral Integrity.

invisible hand

Taking into consideration the substantial gap and statistically significance issues of gerrymandered congressional district boundaries, voter registration, electoral laws, and the performance of electoral officials” (Figure 3), there was a clear tendency for Trump to also win more states (Figure 4) exhibiting these weaknesses. The evidence is not so clear as to state Trump won these states solely due to these issues; however, the correlation and direction pointed is clear. Perhaps as Trump claimed the election was rigged; but, it was not rigged in the manner he claimed.

There is little or no evidence there was voter fraud or votes cast illegally in 2016 as President – Elect Trump has claimed before, during, and after the election. However taking a broader vision of Election Integrity and with a review of this study, “one could arrive at the conclusion US elections suffer from several systematic and persistent problems. Donald Trump and the Republican party appear to have done well in states with the most problems.”

invisible hand

It is not only the 2016 election which has had its issues. As EIP and Professor Norris have shown in other studies, there have been issues with the 2012 and 2014 elections as well. When compared to other countries, the United States has scored the worst in Election Integrity amongst similar Western Countries given the culture and history the US represents. “The US also ranks 52nd out of all 153 countries worldwide in a cross-national Electoral Integrity survey. The comparison is even worse when the issue of Congressional District boundaries ate considered as the U.S. score is the second lowest in the world.

References:

Why it’s Not About Election Fraud, Its Much Worse. Electoral Integrity Project; Pippa Norris, Holly Ann Garnett, Max Grömping

Study: Clinton-Trump Coverage was a Feast of False Equivalency, Erik Wemple

“North Carolina Is No Longer Classified as a Democracy”, Andrew Reynolds

The Truth About Voter Fraud”, Justin Levitt

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The Electoral College, White Supremacy and Full Employment as “Reign of Terror”

Published in September 1947, Whither Solid South? A Study in Politics and Race Relations, by Charles Wallace Collins, “became both manifesto and blueprint” for the 1948 “Dixiecrat” campaign of Strom Thurmond and — over the longer term — the strategy whereby Southern white supremacists engineered a balance of power “lock” on the electoral college and thus on the Presidency. Matthew M. Hoffman examined the political consequences of that strategy in “The Illegitimate President: Minority Vote Dilution and the Electoral College,” published 20 years ago in the Yale Law Journal. Joseph Lowndes discussed the broader influence of Collins’s book on the emergence of a “New Right” in From the New Deal to the New Right: Race and the Southern Origins of Modern Conservatism. Collin’s strategy can be summed up in a few paragraphs from chapter 17 “The South Need Not Surrender”:

Neither the Negroes nor any of the groups which support them can alone, or in conjunction with each other, give assurance of control of a single vote in the Electoral College. … In comparison with them, the South is a political giant. … The South, being a geographical minority with a one-party system, would know at all times its minimum strength and from that work toward its maximum.

The eleven former seceding Southern States possess 127 votes in the Electoral College. These States hold 22 seats in the Senate and 105 in the House. Additional support on many southern questions may be expected from the four border States which have 43 votes in the Electoral College, 8 Senators and 35 Members of the House.

The aggregate of votes of the southern region is 170 in the Electoral College, 30 in the Senate and 140 in the House — nearly one-third in each. On questions which peculiarly affect the southern region, on the Negro equality question and on radical labor questions, these States may be expected to stand with the South in the Congress.

I have emphasized two phrases in the above excerpt. Collins candidly described the “Solid South” concept as a one-party system. A segregationist South was to dominate national politics by eschewing popular choice. “States rights” were to prevail over the rights of the citizens of those states. Collins’s notion of a white-supremacist lock on the electoral college did not rely on winner-take-all popular elections. In a 1944 pamphlet, he upheld the constitutional propriety of an elector deciding “to vote in the Electoral College for a person whom he thinks will protect the interests of his state rather than for a person nominated at a national party convention whom he thinks would be hostile to them.”

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Trump Now Has His Joseph Goebbels. As Nominee for Attorney General.

I do not believe that this man will be confirmed.  Even despite this.

Things of this sort can change, bigly, once confirmation hearings begin.  And not just because of his brazen, lifelong white supremacism.  Also because, well, among other things, Florida voters just adopted an amendment to the state constitution legalizing medical marijuana.  Buy a yuge margin.

Read through the NYT editorial I’ve linked to.  No one—and I do mean no onewants this kind of thing.  Outside of Alabama and Mississippi, of course.

This choice is beyond-belief vile.  And by the end of his confirmation hearing, everyone will know the specifics. And that Donald Trump thought it would be fine to reward this man in this precise way for being the first member of Congress to endorse him.

So Jeff Flake, Joe Manchin and Susan Collins think he’s fine.   Then again, presumably they don’t plan to run for president.  Marco Rubio likely does, though.  And his own state, the largest swing state, just voted to legalize medical marijuana. And there’s also that large-Hispanic-population thing in his state.  Just one example.

Here’s betting that McCain won’t vote for him either.  He doesn’t plan to run for president, having already been there and done that, but there’s that little thing about Sessions’ support for torture of various kinds, including waterboarding.

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UPDATED: Be sure to read this article published Friday at Yahoo News.  I didn’t see it until just now.

Updated 11/20 at 3:25 p.m.

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Redefining Political Correctness to Include Criticism of Appointments of Wall Street, Banking and Fossil Fuel Insiders to Regulatory Bodies

And Extreme Pro-Corporate Lawyers and Judges to the Supreme Court and the Lower Federal Courts. Seriously.

So far, the Trump transition team does not seem particularly concerned, for instance, about a transition team staffed heavily with lobbyists from energy, agriculture, transportation, and banking.

“Frankly, one of the refreshing parts of it about the whole Trump style is that he does not care about political correctness. From a practical standpoint, I have heard lots of people say, ‘Why would we box ourselves out of the most knowledgeable policy people in the country?’” said one source close to the transition team.

Donald McGahn II, a partner at the firm Jones Day and Trump’s lawyer, is expected to play a central role in vetting nominees. So is Arthur Culvahouse, Jr., a partner at the firm O’Melveny & Myers, who helped vet vice presidential candidates and, according to a source, has been helping the campaign organize its White House picks.

Culvahouse declined a request for an interview. None of the lawyers in the political law practice at Jones Day returned POLITICO’S calls. Culvahouse has faced backlash from colleagues at his firm for working with Trump, according to people familiar with the situation, with one person saying the decision was “amazingly controversial” within the firm. Many top partners at O’Melveny, including Tom Donilon, were vocal Clinton backers.

Trump advisers steamroll Christie’s transition: The new, top-down approach is likened to how Dick Cheney ran the Bush transition., Andrew Restuccia and Nancy Cook, Politico, today

Just so you know, Culvahouse played a large role in turning the Supreme Court and lower federal courts into a proxy arm of the far-right Chamber of Commerce, including in Citizens United but also in ways most people have no idea about but would really care about.  These are not pro-union justices and judges, nor are they pro-employee, pro-consumer, pro small-business, anti-financial-industry-fraud, or ant-securities-fraud.  Nor anti-fossil-fuel-industry.  For starters.

So.  From a practical standpoint, who do you think are all those people who are saying to this source close to the transition team, “Why would we box ourselves out of the most knowledgeable policy people in the country?”  And might that source close to the transition team be Mike Pence, who is so close to the transition team that he heads it?

And how likely do you think it is that among the many people who are saying this to the source is, say, a blue-collar voter from Toledo or Youngstown?  Or any region of Michigan?  Or Erie, Pennsylvania?

Or anywhere?

We’re extremely close to down-the-rabbit-hole language of the Arbeit macht frei variety, folks—something I saw last Saturday and mentioned in the update to this post.

George Orwell and Lewis Carroll are laughing.  Really hard.

Good god.  This is the most successful Trojan Horse since the original one. And every bit as sinister.  But also funny, in that this is what’s now called a top-down approach. Always great to see a new euphemism for insider corruption.

They’re not gonna box themselves in, folks.  But massive, intensive publicity might.

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Donald and Deportations

This post is partly inspired by “The cracks are already starting to show between Donald Trump and Republicans” by Amber Phillips at The Washington Post. My general impression is that the article mainly shows that cracks are already starting to show between Donald Trump and Donald Trump. More generally, the fact that Trump and the other Republicans are lying a lot about what Obama has done makes it almost impossible to determine how they will change things.

A case can be made that there plan is to mainly stick to current policy (except by cutting taxes on rich people of course) and to rename the current policy and claim credit for what Obama has done and continue to claim he did something horrible. I wish I believed this is what will happen. I am sure they will make major changes. The point is that their statements are vague and often based on false factual premises, so it is impossible to figure out what they will actually do.

Consider deportation of undocumented aliens.

Trump: “What we are going to do is get the people that are criminals and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, a lot of these people, probably 2 million. It could even be 3 million,” he told CBS’s Lesley Stahl in a “60 Minutes” interview that aired Sunday. “After the border is secured and after everything gets normalized, we’re going to make a determination on the people that you’re talking about, who are terrific people.”

One plausible interpretation of this is “We are going to stick to current policy, and consider possible policy changes late in my second term”. Under current policy, people with criminal records are deported. Trump proposes sticking with that policy. He doesn’t explain how sticking with current policy will cause an increase in the rate of deportations. He doesn’t even claim that, under his policy, people will be deported at a higher rate than under Obama’s policies. He says 2 million people will be deported, but he doesn’t say when. According to ABC “President Barack Obama has often been referred to by immigration groups as the “Deporter in Chief.”Between 2009 and 2015 his administration has removed more than 2.5 million people through immigration orders, ” Trumps 2 maybe 3 million people claim is consistent with between two and three million in the next six years (with Trump assuming he will be re-elected).

The quoted statement is perfectly consistent with sticking to current policy including the conditions for deportation and the rate of deportations.

It is also possible that Trump proposing sticking with current policy but says the outcome will be bigly more winning, because Trump is a winner. He might argue that, because of his excellent management and winnerness, la migra will do things much more quickly.

It is fairly likely that Trump believes that applying the current policy will cause a large increase in the rate of deportations, because he doesn’t know what current policy is.

Finally, it is possible that he is just lying and plans to deport people who wouldn’t be deported under current policy.

Trump is so vague that it is not possible to prove that there is any “crack” separating Trump and Congressional Republicans. In fact, it is not possible to prove that there is any “crack” between Trump and Obama.

This also true of other policy issues. For example, Trump and the other Republicans agree that they will repeal Obamacare and replace it with something which protects people with pre-existing conditions and is based on consumer choice and markets. One reasonable interpretation of this is that they plan to replace Obamacare with Obamacare. This will come as no surprise to Obama who told us they would do this.

Also they continue to denounce the Obama stimulus and propose a big increase on infrastructure spending

McCarthy: McCarthy said on Fox News that “there is a place we could find common ground with Republicans and Democrats” on infrastructure. But he seemed unable to explain how Trump’s infrastructure spending plan differs from President Obama’s 2009 stimulus. “Obama never had infrastructure in his stimulus,” he said. (Infrastructure spending was a major part of Obama’s stimulus.)

So far this post has been wildly optimistic. Again, I don’t really hope that Republicans will mostly stick with Obama’s policies except for cutting taxes on the rich. I’m sure they will do horrible things. I am also sure that they haven’t told us what horrible things they will do, because they are still promising all things to all people. They haven’t switched from messaging to policy making yet. I hope wish they never make policy.

On the other hand, I think that the strategy of copying Obama while continuing to denounce him is likely to be politically successful. Republicans have managed to convince many Americans that Obamacare is horrible in some mysterious way. The hope was that people would notice that, for example, there aren’t any death panels. If Republicans stick with Obamacare but call it TrumpCare, there won’t be any new proof that Obamacare doesn’t have horrible provisions.

The public doesn’t know what current policy is. Many are convinced that Obama policy is extremly leftist and unsuccessful. This makes it easy for Republicans to convince them that the repealing Obama’s policies and replacing them with Obama’s policies is a huge improvement and that Republicans deserve credit for Obama’s gigantic accomplishments. The strangest thing is that I suspect that Obama is OK with that.

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Hey, Midwestern and Rust Belt Blue-Collar Voters: How’s THIS Workin’ Out for Ya So Far?

UPDATE: LOL.

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President-­elect Donald J. Trump, who campaigned against the corrupt power of special interests, is filling his transition team with some of the very sort of people who he has complained have too much clout in Washington: corporate consultants and lobbyists.

Jeffrey Eisenach, a consultant who has worked for years on behalf of Verizon and other telecommunications clients, is the head of the team that is helping to pick staff members at the Federal Communications Commission.

Michael Catanzaro, a lobbyist whose clients include Devon Energy and Encana Oil and Gas, holds the “energy independence” portfolio.

Michael Torrey, a lobbyist who runs a firm that has earned millions of dollars helping food industry players such as the American Beverage Association and the dairy giant Dean Foods, is helping set up the new team at the Department of Agriculture.

Trump Campaigned Against Lobbyists, but Now They’re on His Transition Team, Eric Lipton, New York Times, today

What?  No steelworker?  No auto-plant worker?  Not even a family farmer?  Might y’all have been had?

Who’d a thunk?

Bernie and Elizabeth to the rescue.  Now, pleaseNow.

But, hey, white blue collar folks: You get what you vote for.  The problem for me is that I get what you vote for.  I said roughly 540 times here at AB in the last year: Trump isn’t conquering the Republican Party; he’s the Republican Party’s Trojan Horse.  What was that y’all were saying about wanting change so badly?  Here it is.

Welcome  to the concept of industry regulatory capture. Perfected to a science, and jaw-droppingly brazen.  LOL. Funny, but Bernie talked about this.  Some of you listened.  Then.  Elizabeth Warren has talked about it, a lot. Some of you listened.  Back then.  But she wasn’t running for president.  Hillary Clinton was, instead.  And she couldn’t talk about it because she had needed all those speaking fees, all the way up to about a minute before she announced her candidacy.

Aaaaand, here come the judges.  And of course the justices.  Industry regulatory capture of the judicial-branch variety.

I called this one right, in the title of this post yesterday.  I mean, why even wait until the body is buried?  No reason at all.

So he thinks.  But what if he’s wrong?

Anyway … can’t wait for the political cartoons showing Trump on Ryan’s lap, with Ryan’s arm showing reaching up under Trump’s suit jacket.

Edgar Ryan and Charlie Trump.

Oh, and I do want to add this: If one more liberal pundit or feminism writer publishes something claiming that Clinton lost because of all those sexist men out there who couldn’t handle the idea of a woman president, or claims she ran a remarkable campaign cuz of all that tenacity and stamina she showed in the face of what was thrown at her from wherever, see, or makes both claims (if not necessarily in the same columns or blog posts or tweeter comments), and I read so much as the title of it, I’m gonna … something.

It’s effing asinine.  Everyone’s entitled to their little personal delusions, but why the obsessiveness about this patent silliness?  What exactly is the emotional hold that Hillary Clinton holds on these people? It’s climate-change-denial-like.

Elizabeth Warren would have beaten Donald Trump in a landslide.  So would have Bernie Sanders.  And brought in a Democratic-controlled Senate and House.  Because either of them would have run a remarkable campaign, under normal standards, not standards with a special low bar.

That’s the efffing truth.

 

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UPDATE:  From a new blog post by Paul Waldman titled “If you voted for Trump because he’s ‘anti-establishment,’ guess what: You got conned“:

An organizational chart of Trump’s transition team shows it to be crawling with corporate lobbyists, representing such clients as Altria, Visa, Coca-Cola, General Electric, Verizon, HSBC, Pfizer, Dow Chemical, and Duke Energy. And K Street is positively salivating over all the new opportunities they’ll have to deliver goodies to their clients in the Trump era. Who could possibly have predicted such a thing?

The answer is, anyone who was paying attention. Look at the people Trump is considering for his cabinet, and you won’t find any outside-the-box thinkers burning to work for the little guy. It’s a collection of Republican politicians and corporate plutocrats — not much different from who you’d find in any Republican administration.

And from reader EMichael in the Comments thread to this post about 35 minutes ago:

OH, it will be worse than that, much worse.

Bank regulation will go back to the “glory days” of the housing bubble, and Warren’s CFPB will be toast.

Buddy of mine works HR for a large bank. He has been flooded with resumes from current employees of the CFPB the last couple of days.

Yup.  HSBC ain’t in that list for nothing.  But, not to worry.  Trump’s kids will pick up lots of real estate on the (real) cheap, after the crash.  Their dad will give them all the tips, from experience.

And the breaking news this afternoon is that Pence–uh-ha; this Mike Pence–has replaced Christie as transition team head.  Wanna bet that Comey told Trump today that Christie is likely to be indicted in Bridgegate?

Next up, although down the road a few months: rumors that a grand jury has been convened to try to learn how, exactly, Giuliani got all that info from inside the FBI two weeks ago.  Once the FBI inspector general completes his investigation.  Or once New York’s attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, begins looking into violations of NY state criminal law.

How downright sick.  And how pathetic.

Update added 11/11 at 3:19 p.m. 

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At least as of yesterday morning, the Democratic establishment still didn’t get it. Then again, as of late yesterday, neither did the Republican establishment. And neither did Donald Trump. [UPDATED]

CHUCK SCHUMER’S TOUGH BALANCING ACT: CNN reports on an interesting dynamic to keep an eye on:

“For Schumer, the challenges will be formidable. He’ll have to listen to the vocal and outspoken progressive wing of his caucus, led by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who have legions of supporters. But he also has five red-state Democrats in states Trump won convincingly — Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia — up for re-election in 2018. And if Schumer takes his caucus too far to the left, he’s bound to could put his moderates in a difficult political spot.”

Worth watching: Whether those red state Democrats claim the party has moved too far to “the left” when it resists Trump’s agenda.

The first big political war of Trump’s presidency will be explosive, Greg Sargent, Washington Post, yesterday at 9:55 a.m.

Late yesterday I received a listserve email from Bernie Sanders’ new organization, Our Revolution, asking what we most wanted the organization to do immediately.  I haven’t responded yet, but my message will be a plea that it begin an intensive effort to inform the public in the Rust Belt states, and the Midwest generally, of what exactly the Conservative Legal Movement was, and is, up to regarding handing control of the federal courts, and federal law, to billionaires and mega-corporate interests.

That’s what Citizens United was really about.  But it’s also what a slew of other 5-4 Supreme Court rulings have been about since the Conservative Legal Movement gained that majority on the Court.  And during the three decades when it thoroughly controlled the federal appellate and trial-level courts.

The Supreme Court effectively rewrote the Federal Arbitration Act to forced-arbitration clauses in almost every aspect of employment, consumer (including banking and credit card law), and securities law.  It also rewrote that Act so that it uses those forced arbitration clauses to effectively eliminate class actions.

It literally rewrote the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure, Rule 8(a), that sets the parameters for what lawsuit complaints, the legal pleading must state

It has been extremely hostile to labor unions; Samuel Alito openly invites the filing of litigation whose very goal is to undermine or outright eliminate them.

Every single one of these attacks, and many others, were born and grew up through a precision pipeline system of think tanks and so-called legal foundations, small, non-profit (thus “Foundation” as part of their title) law firms, all funded by extreme economic self-styled libertarian (the Madison Avenue-inspired ideological label they use) billionaires, including the Kochs, financial-industry billionaire families that include the Mercers and the Ricketts and who were top funders of Trump’s general-election campaign, and oil-and-gas billionaires, including top funders of Trump’s general-election and primary campaigns.

And that includes, extremely significantly, the Federalist Society, cofounded in about 1980 by Antonin Scalia, and whose most aggressive and unabashed members include Alito, Clarence Thomas and a slew of high-profile members of the federal appellate bench.  John Roberts also apparently was a member, although very quietly, throughout his career as a lawyer.

What I want most, and most immediately, for Our Revolution to do is to begin a major public-awareness push to tell all those Midwesterners and other Rust Belters—including those in rural areas and small towns—what exactly Trump was saying when he promised during the campaign to appoint justices in the mold of Antonin Scalia.  And who, exactly—who, exactly—is feeding him the names on list of possible Supreme Court nominees.  And who exactly will be feeding him recommendations for lower federal court appointments.

Suffice it to say, it ain’t the Rust Belters and Midwesterners who brung him, late in the game, to this dance because they support the Paul Ryan fiscal plan whose goal is to all-but-eliminate both taxes on the wealthy and the social safety net programs, such as food stamps and Medicaid, that many of them rely upon for, literally, survival.

Nor was it because they salivate at the thought of industry lobbyists writing legislation to be fed quickly through Congress and onto President Trump’s desk for him to sign.

Nor, I’ll venture, was it because they want the Supreme Court and the lower federal courts to be proxy arms of economic-winger billionaires and industries ranging from Wall Street to Walmart to communications to chemical and pharmaceutical, to Big Ag, to fossil fuel and lumber industries.   As they were for roughly three decades.

Mitt Romney received the votes of the deplorables, without whose support Trump would not have won.  But Romney isn’t president.  Barack Obama is.  Trump’s bizarre efforts beginning in 2011 to change that fact, notwithstanding.

Yet throughout the day yesterday, the news was filled with Ryan’s and McConnell’s exaltation at their expectation that President Trump will effectively be President Ryan.  Puppet Trump, in other words.  They’ll serve him avalanches of legislation to sign.  And they will control the key appointments to every single federal agency and commission that they want to control.  Which is almost all of them.

Including the SEC and the NLRB, the FDA, the FTC and the FCC.  As well as the Interior Dept., which they presume now will simply hand over to the lumber and fossil fuel industries massive amounts of federal lands.

Which brings me to this: Every bit as important as informing the public of this, for Our Revolution, for the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, for Democracy for America, and the reconstructed, soon-to-be-Sanders-supported DNC—and for Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren themselves—to do, right now, is to begin a massive public information campaign about this that targets House members and Senate Republicans up for reelection in 2018.  In their states.  In their districts.  Including seemingly safe ones in the Rust Belt and the entire Midwest.

We have their number.  As we do Donald Trump’s.  And we have the grass-roots movement and the social-media networks to determine their latitude for installing these virulently anti-working class, pro-billionaire, pro-mega-corporate, pro-mega-powerful-industry cooptation of each of the three branches of the federal government.  Including that professed savior of the working class, Donald Trump.

I still remember looking that the map of Michigan’s counties the day after the primary last March, showing how each county voted in each of the two primaries—and being utterly stunned looking at the one for the Democratic primary.  If I recall correctly, every single county except Wayne (home to Detroit) and Genesee (Flint and surrounding area)—both counties largely African-American—voted for Sanders.  The Republican stronghold counties in the western part of the state all the way along or near Lake Michigan, went heavily for Bernie.  And, had African-Americans in Wayne and Genesee voted for Clinton roughly 3-1, as projected, instead of roughly 2-1, as they did, Bernie still would not have beaten her.

Apparently Chuck Schumer is unaware of this.  Bernie should tell him.  The old sheriff is gone, run out of town, or more accurately, the country, on Tuesday.  There’s a new sheriff in the country.  Named economic populism.

It could have been our sheriff; thanks to folks like you, it wasn’t.  But we can make due with the one who is not ours.

One side of this divide—the wealthy Republican and corporate elite, proxied by Ryan, McConnell, and the Federalist Society, or the folks responsible in such large part for bringing Trump to the dance—will control the federal government.  Puppet Trump. Puppeteers Ryan, McConnell, Wall Street and other industry lobbyists, and the Federalist Society.  On the other side, Rust Belt and Midwestern blue-collar voters.  Including labor union members.

And if it’s the former, it will last only until January 2019.  Believe me.

Better yet, believe Bernie Sanders.

 

____

UPDATE:  Holyyyy macaroni.  Chuck Schumer’s gotten the message now.  It took two and a half days.  But he’s gotten it now.

See “Schumer throws his support behind Keith Ellison for DNC chairman,” posted about an hour ago on the Washington Post’s website.

Wow.

So the first big political war turned out to be a two-and-a-half-day-long skirmish.  And this is why.  The times, they are a-changin’.  Really, really quickly.  In the Democratic Party.

Updated added 11/11 at 11:19 a.m.  Just past the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.  It’s Veterans’ Day, folks.  Not to equate the two events, of course.  Just to acknowledge the meaning of Veterans’ Day, which originally was called Armistice Day.

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Trump Is Making the Same Mistake that Clinton Did: He’s Already Ignoring Working-Class Rust Belt Whites. Progressives Need to Start Illustrating This by Highlighting His Planned Court and Cabinet Nominees. Now.

There are several excerpts from the news media since Tuesday night that help drive home the point I make in that title about Trump and the Democrats in the immediate future.  But the excerpts are about Clinton, not Trump:

There are several excerpts from the news media since Tuesday night that help drive home the point I make in that title about Trump and the Democrats in the immediate future.  But the excerpts are about Clinton, not Trump:

There are vast rural, small-town or post-industrial areas of the country where Barack Hussein Obama will have greatly outperformed Clinton

– twitter.com/AlecMacGillis of Pro Publica, Nov. 8, late evening

And:

The left-behind places are making themselves heard, bigly

– twitter.com/AlecMacGillis of Pro Publica, Nov. 8, late evening

And:

From Pennsylvania to Wisconsin, industrial towns once full of union voters who for decades offered their votes to Democratic presidential candidates, even in the party’s lean years, shifted to Mr. Trump’s Republican Party. One county in the Mahoning Valley of Ohio, Trumbull, went to Mr. Trump by a six-­point margin. Four years ago, Mr. Obama won there by 22 points.

Donald Trump Is Elected President in Stunning Repudiation of the Establishment, Matt Flegenheimer and Michael Barbaro, New York Times, yesterday

And:

Clinton and her operatives went into the race predicting her biggest problems would be inevitability and her age, trying to succeed a two-term president of her own party. But the mood of the country surprised them. They recognized that Sanders and Trump had correctly defined the problem—addressing anger about a rigged economy and government—and that Clinton already never authentically could. Worse still, her continuing email saga and extended revelations about the Clinton Foundation connections made any anti-establishment strategy completely impossible.

So instead of answering the question of how Clinton represented change, they tried to change the question to temperament, what kind of change people wanted, what kind of America they wanted to live in. It wasn’t enough.

Using Trump as a foil and a focus, she hit on a voice and an argument for why she should actually be president that perhaps only she could have, and that she’d struggled for so long to find on her own. That wasn’t enough either.

Meanwhile, her staff harnessed all the money and support they could to out organize, first in the primaries and then in the general, grinding out victories while her opponents had movements.

None of it was enough, though all of it should have been, and likely would have been for another candidate. She couldn’t escape being the wrong candidate for the political moment.

Interviews over the closing weeks of the 2016 campaign with members of Clinton’s innermost circle, close advisers and other aides reveal a deep frustration with their failure to make a dent, a consuming sense that their candidate’s persecution paranoia might actually be right, and a devastating belief that they might never persuade Americans to vote for her.

“There was no way to generate momentum,” one top adviser said.

Any positive storyline from Clinton “was always fragile,” admitted that adviser, and issues related to the emails inevitably stripped away any uptick in Clinton’s favorable ratings.

Inside the Loss Clinton Saw Coming: Publicly they seemed confident, but in private her team admitted her chances were ‘always fragile.’, Edward-Isaac Dovere, Politico, yesterday

And:

To several top aides, the best day of this whole campaign was a year ago, before the Sanders headache or the Trump threat really materialized, when the House of Representatives hauled Clinton and her emails in with the single aim of destroying her candidacy over Benghazi. …

She delivered tirelessly [that day], knocking back the Republicans one by one, complete with facial expressions that have launched GIFs that have been all over Democrats’ Facebook and Twitter feeds ever since. She renewed her shaken team’s faith that she was the leader they wanted to follow into what was already shaping up to be a dejecting primary battle.

“It reminded people of everything they like about her,” said one of her senior advisers. “It’s toughness, but also a calm, adult presence of someone you can actually see being president of the United States.”

Inside the Loss Clinton Saw Coming: Publicly they seemed confident, but in private her team admitted her chances were ‘always fragile.’

And:

Bill Clinton had his own problems, but never that one [his gender], and neither did Trump, who openly disparaged women throughout his campaign and still prevailed. The result was at once unfathomably difficult for the Clintons and yet not entirely surprising to Bill. He saw the signs all along the way of this campaign. He knew the people who were voting for Trump, and also the people who during the primaries were voting not for his wife but for Bernie Sanders. He saw the anger and the feelings of disconnection, but he did not know how he, or his wife’s campaign, could connect to it effectively without resorting to demagoguery or false populism, something Hillary was not good at even if she was disposed to try.

The Clintons were undone by the middle-American voters they once knew so well, David Maraniss, Washington Post, today

And:

Last year, a prominent group of supporters asked Hillary Clinton to address a prestigious St. Patrick’s Day gathering at the University of Notre Dame, an invitation that previous presidential candidates had jumped on. Barack Obama and Joseph R. Biden Jr. had each addressed the group, and former President Bill Clinton was eager for his wife to attend. But Mrs. Clinton’s campaign refused, explaining to the organizers that white Catholics were not the audience she needed to spend time reaching out to.

As it became clear on Tuesday night that Mrs. Clinton would lose to Donald J. Trump, supporters cast blame on everything from the news media to the F.B.I. director’s dogged pursuit of Mrs. Clinton over her personal emails, and to a deep discomfort with electing a woman as president.

But as the dust settled, Democrats recognized two central problems of Mrs. Clinton’s flawed candidacy: Her decades in Washington and the paid speeches she delivered to financial institutions left her unable to tap into the anti­establishment and anti­-Wall Street rage. And she ceded the white working­-class voters who backed Mr. Clinton in 1992.

Though she would never have won this demographic, her husband insisted that her campaign aides do more to try to cut into Mr. Trump’s support with these voters. They declined, reasoning that she was better off targeting college­-educated suburban voters by hitting Mr. Trump on his temperament.

Instead, they targeted the emerging electorate of young, Latino and African-American voters who catapulted Mr. Obama to victory twice, expecting, mistakenly, that this coalition would support her in nearly the same numbers. They did not.

Hillary Clinton’s Expectations, and Her Ultimate Campaign Missteps, Amy Chozick, New York Times, yesterday

And then there is this:

Clinton picked Mook, instead of promoting a campaign manager out of loyalty from her own inner circle. She persuaded Podesta, who had kept his distance in 2008 because he didn’t get along with polarizing top strategist Mark Penn, to join as the guiding hand and the buffer for all the “friends of” who streamed in with advice and second-guessing.

But that didn’t mean there weren’t serious problems. Bill Clinton complained throughout that Mook was too focused on the ground game and not enough on driving a message-based campaign. Without a chief strategist in the mold of Penn or David Axelrod, the campaign was run by a committee of strong-willed aides struggling to assert themselves in the same space. Longtime consultant Mandy Grunwald and Palmieri grappled at points over message control as Palmieri worked her way into the inner circle. Mook and strategist Joel Benenson barely spoke to each other for the month of April, battling over their roles.

Inside the Loss Clinton Saw Coming: Publicly they seemed confident, but in private her team admitted her chances were ‘always fragile.’

And here it is, in summation of all of the above:

Whoever takes over what’s left of the Democratic Party is going to have to find a way to appeal to a broader cross section of the country. It may still be true that in the long term, Republicans can’t win with their demographics, but we found out Tuesday that the long term is still pretty far away. Democrats have to win more white voters. They have to do so in a way that doesn’t erode the anti-racist or anti-sexist planks of the modern party, which are non-negotiable. If only there were a model for this. [Link in original.  Do click it.]

The few Democratic leaders who remain are going to say that it was just a bad note struck here or there, or the lazy Bernie voters who didn’t show up, or Jim Comey, or unfair media coverage of Clinton’s emails, to blame for this loss. I am already seeing Democrats blaming the Electoral College, which until a few hours ago was hailed as the great protector of Democratic virtue for decades to come, and Republicans were silly for not understanding how to crack the blue “wall.” They will say, just wait for Republicans to overreach. Then we’ll be fine.

Don’t listen to any of this. Everything is not OK. This is not OK.

The Democratic Party Establishment Is Finished, Jim Newell, Slate, yesterday

Among all the email exchanges leaked from Podesta’s hacked email account—the ones I read; I read a couple of articles quoting from each group of releases—the most revealing, in my opinion, were two sets of exchanges released about a week before the Comey outrage.  Both were from early 2015, a few weeks before Clinton was scheduled, finally, to announce her candidacy in mid-April.

One shows newly hired campaign manager Robby Mook asking for John Podesta’s and Huma Abedin’s help in persuading Clinton to ask her husband to cancel a $225,000 speech to Morgan Stanley scheduled for a few days after her announcement and while she was scheduled to be in Iowa on her inaugural campaign trip.

The difficulty wasn’t resistance from Bill; it was resistance from Hillary, at whose instance the speech had been arranged.  The email exchanges indicate that Hillary could not be persuaded to all the cancellation, because it had been arranged personally by her and Tom Nides, a top aide to Clinton at the State Dept. and by then a top executive at Morgan Stanley.

Finally it was decided that Abedin would get Bill to agree to cancel the speech, and she would tell Hillary that Bill (who apparently did have qualms about the speech) was the one who decided to cancel it.  Abedin reported back to Podesta and Mook that Clinton was angry about it for a couple of days but then moved on.

The other one is from about the same time and is somewhat similar. This series of exchanges was among Mook, Abedin, Podesta and Neera Tanden, and concerned Hillary’s appearance in early May, shortly after her campaign announcement, at a massive Clinton Global Initiative gala in Morocco paid for by the king of Morocco, a friend of Clinton’s, who all told would donate $12 million to the foundation.  This, too, had been arranged by Hillary, and was not strongly supported by Bill or anyone else at the foundation.

Abedin’s emails suggest (without saying outright) that she and perhaps others had tried to dissuade Clinton from arranging this, and then, once Clinton had set the date of mid-April for her campaign announcement, tried to persuade Clinton to cancel it.  But by the time of this email exchange with Mook and Podesta, Abedin said it was so late and Clinton had had earlier opportunities to cancel but instead had assured her presence there, that it will break a lot of glass” (or some such phrase) for Clinton to cancel.  Mook did manage to get Clinton’s agreement to have Bill attend instead of her.

These instances illustrate what was a constant throughout: Mook and two or three others, including Podesta, having to put on a full court press to stop Clinton from acting as though she weren’t a candidate for president.  Or a candidate for anything.  Both Podesta and Tanden complained about Clinton’s “instincts,” a euphemism for “I’m completely unaware of the overarching mood of the public in this election cycle.  Or, I don’t give a damn about the overarching mood of the public in this election cycle.  And I certainly don’t give a damn about down-ballot Dems.  Or about Dems.  Or about anything other than what I want to do.”

Clinton arranged to clear the Democratic field of anyone thought in early 2015 to have chance against her in the primaries. She just wasn’t willing to swear off anything else she wanted, besides the presidency, in order to reduce the chance that she would lose the general election.

This wasn’t Lent, after all.  And anyway, Clinton isn’t Catholic.

Had Mook not killed that $225,000 speech to Morgan Stanley by Bill Clinton in April 2015, Bernie Sanders—whom Clinton could not clear the field of until June 6, 2016—would have won the nomination and would be president-elect now, accompanied by a newly elected Senate, and maybe House, Democratic majority. That fee would have been identified in the Clintons’ tax returns, filed presumably in last April and (presumably) released shortly afterward.

In early 2015, when Hillary was arranging for Bill to give that speech—undoubtedly arrangements made shortly after Elizabeth Warren removed any doubt that she would run—Clinton looked to be free of any challenge from the left.  So it didn’t bother her one whit that this would be revealed during the primary season.

Nor, since she expected her general election opponent to be Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio, did it concern her that this would be known during the general election campaign.  It wasn’t as if Bush wasn’t a wholly owned subsidiary of Wall Street.  Or Rubio owned by other highly unpretty financial interests.

And even if it did, well, it was worth the risk.  After all, after the general election, the gravy train for both her and her husband would stop. And it wasn’t blue collar workers in the Rust Belt who were her target votes, so it wasn’t all that big a risk anyway.

So we were saddled with a Democratic presidential nominee whose decades in Washington and the paid speeches she delivered to financial institutions left her unable to tap into the anti­establishment and anti­-Wall Street rage. Someone who had to cede the white working­-class voters who backed Barack Obama in 2008 and again in 2012, because the only way someone who’d taken so very much money from Wall Street as personal income for doing so very little—someone who was selling her anticipated presidency to Wall Street—had no avenue with which to connect effectively with working class Rust Belters without resorting to demagoguery or false populism, something she was not good at even if she was disposed to try.

The answer then was to highlight her high status and the importance she placed on connections with celebrities and the pillars of the establishment in various venues, by campaigning hardly at all, by spending August secluded in the Hamptons, by parading with entertainment celebrities at the few rallies she had.

And by incessantly rolling out ever more names of the most elite establishment people to endorse her or at least make clear that they, too, recognized that her opponent is unfit to hold the office of the presidency.  Because even though the targeted audience has access to the same information on that the elite establishment did, and were reminded by Clinton and her ad campaign of these lowlights so often that they lost their resonance, there might be a few people whose decision would turn on the opinion of these elites.

They just weren’t the people the blue collar Rust Belters who, it seemed clear all along would play an outsize role in the outcome of the election.  As they had in 2008 and 2012.

Nor, apparently, did she have any avenue to point out whom Trump’s financial campaign backers actually were, who was writing his budget and regulatory proposals, who was selecting his court and agency-head nominees, his SEC, FTC and NLRB member nominees, and why.  They’re not people with labor union backing, nor do they have the interests of blue collar folks at heart.  Their interests are diametrically opposite those of blue collar workers.  And Trump wasted not so much as a day in handing over to them the entire panoply of powers of the federal government.

But having sold her avenue for informing people of this, to Wall Street and any other huge-money interest waiving a mega-check around in exchange for a 45-minute-long speech by or question-and-answer session with, the likely president she was limited to reminding voters of what they themselves saw, and assuring them that elites viewed him just as they did.  Which may be why her campaign manager, Mook, wasn’t as focused on messaging as Bill Clinton wished.  Normally, a candidate has one. This candidate had foreclosed to herself the message she needed to have, and had nothing much filling in for it. That wasn’t Mook’s fault.

Trump wasn’t going to co-opt Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell.  Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell were going to co-opt Trump.  All the indications were that that is what would happen. And that, Trump has made unabashedly clear now, is what will happen. Our nominee couldn’t—or at least wouldn’t campaign on this anything resembling consistency.

The way to contain this is for high-profile Democrats to make clear to the public what is happening.  And to threaten massive campaigns on this in none other than the Rust Belt, in the 2018 election cycle.  And to start very, very soon. People who supported Obama in 2008 and 2012 aren’t Donald Trump’s base.  Most of them would have flocked to Sanders or to Elizabeth Warren in this election.

The latter should be shoved in anyone’s face who starts blathering about sexism hurting Clinton among the hoi polloi. The former should answer the question about whether racism was part of the appeal to the voters who put Trump over the top, by one per cent, in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, and came within barely more than a point of doing son in New Hampshire and, of all states, Minnesota.  All states went comfortably for Obama, and all except Pennsylvania went for Sanders in the primary, as did Indiana.  And had Warren instead of Sanders been Clinton’s primary challenger, she like Sanders would have voted for her.

People who claim otherwise on either point don’t know the region.  It is not the South and it is not the Southwest. Trump’s racism and xenophobia did not win those states for Trump.  Nor did Clinton’s gender.

The first step is to appoint a strong Sanders backer in charge of the DNC.  Jeff Weaver, maybe.  Or Jim Dean.  No war for the soul of the party.  That ship sailed on Tuesday.

Recognize that.

And join me in wishing Hillary and Bill Clinton a happy jaunt in their retirement as they luxuriate in the massive wealth that, while possibly still not quite enough to sate them, we are about to pay very dearly for.

____

Links to be added later today.

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Thoughts on the election

by New Deal democrat

About an 2 hours ago, Hillary Clinton pulled ahead of Donald Trump in the popular vote, 59.2 M vs. 59.0 M.

If this holds up, it will be the second time in five elections that the democrats have won the popular vote but lost the electoral college.

I have been saying for months that the economy forecast a narrow popular vote win for the incumbent party, on the order of 51%/49% (although with the recent good GDP and employment reports, I did up that to 52%/48%). Again, if the current numbers hold up, that will have been pretty close. As of this moment, the percentages are:

Clinton 47.7%
Trump 47.5%
others 4.8%

Closer than my personal prediction, but certainly consistent with the plodding economic expansion.

The Electoral College system favors candidates with broad, decent appeal over candidates with narrower overwhelming appeal. The current democratic coalition is focused on blacks and latinos, with narrow overwhelming appeal. The GOP is focused on the Bible Belt and Reagan Democrats (by now their descendants), and has broader decent appeal among the majority white population. This is the problem the democratic party needs to overcome. Nominating a Happy Warrior (like Bernie Sanders, Bill Clinton, or Barack Obama) instead of milquetoast centrist policy wonks (Hillary, Gore) would be a good start. Demographics may yet rescue the democrats, but after four years of Trump I’m not sure it is going to matter.

There is a nontrivial chance Trump bungles into WW3. But even if he does not make use of nuclear weapons, think of all the damage:

Russia and China are the new global hegemons. The post-WW2 consensus that states do not make land grabs is done. Sucks to be Japan, Ukraine, and the Baltic States. Courtesy of France, the EU has had a contingency plan for NATO going awry called the “European Defense Force.” If I were an eastern European State, I would be asking for EDF troops right now. And goodbye Iran nuclear deal.

Goodbye Obamacare. BTW, great presidents do not have their signature accomplishments repealed two weeks after leaving office. Obama will go down in history as a noble failure.

Goodbye Roe vs. Wade.

(Probably) goodbye gay marriage and quite possibly Lawrence vs. Texas.

(Probably) goodbye Social Security and Medicare in their present forms.

Goodbye Dodd-Frank.

If there is another successful terrorist attack on US soil, goodbye civil rights.

Goodbye to some of my Latino friends.

Goodbye Civil Rights Acts de facto if not de jure.

And there will be a recession. Neither Trump nor the GOP Congress will be equipped to fight it. A relatively minor downturn could cascade into a major disaster if there is actual wage deflation (which I very much fear), because the government won’t act.

The US has just elected Emperor Caligula. The next four years will be about trying to protect the basic Rule of Law in a Republic. Good luck to all of us.

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