Thursday, June 22, 2017

YEARS FROM NOW, THIS WILL BE THE RIGHT-WING NARRATIVE OF THE TRUMPCARE DISASTER

We know that McConnell/Ryan/Trumpcare is going to be horrible:
The tax credits for people who buy insurance on the exchanges are ... stingier than the current system. Right now, Obamacare’s tax credits cut off for people who earn four times the poverty level, which means people just over that threshold often struggle to afford insurance. Rather than fix this problem, the Senate bill would set the cutoff even lower, to three-and-a-half times the poverty level, making insurance unaffordable for more people in the middle class.

Amazingly, the Senate bill reportedly institutes deeper Medicaid cuts than the House bill.... The House version holds the program to the inflation rate plus one percent — which is historically lower than medical costs have risen, meaning that the program would have to curtail benefits for its beneficiaries, who tend to be poor and very sick. The Senate bill would cut growth down to the inflation rate, without the extra one percent.

... The tax cuts are what drive the bill’s inescapable cruelty. By eliminating nearly a trillion dollars in revenue, it necessarily creates a trillion dollars in cuts for coverage subsidies. The House bill reduces the insurance rolls by 23 million. The Senate bill won’t fare a whole lot better.
Even though the Senate bill would "effectively delay repeal of Obamacare until 2020," as Bloomberg puts it, most observers think Republicans will be blamed for any chaos in the health care system between now and whenever Obamacare starts winding down -- insurance companies will rush for the exits, policies will be unavailable or staggeringly expensive, and because we will have all seen the final passage of the bill and the big signing ceremony involving the president, we'll all agree that the GOP owns the results.

I'm not so sure. I think Republicans will still blame the bad outcome on Democrats.

In his pseudo-campaign rally last night in Cedar Rapids, we heard this from the president:
“If we went and got the single greatest health care plan in the history of the world, we would not get one Democrat vote, because they’re obstructionists,” Trump said. “If we came to you and said, ‘Here’s your plan, you’re going to have the greatest plan in history, and you’re going to pay nothing,’ they’d vote against it, folks.” ...

“If we had even a little Democrat support, just a little, like a couple of votes, you’d have everything. And you could give us a lot of votes and we’d even be willing to change it and move it around and try and make it even better,” Trump said. “But again, They just want to stop, they just want to obstruct. A few votes from the Democrats, seriously, a few votes from the Democrats, it could be so easy and so beautiful, and you’d have cooperation.”
That's going to be the right-wing narrative of our upcoming health care disaster: We Republicans passed a bad bill because Democrats forced us to. They just wanted to be the Party of No, so they refused to help make it better. Therefore, every bad consequence of what we did is their fault.

Of course, this is a preposterous. Mitch McConnell hasn't even allowed his fellow Republicans to work on the bill, or even to see it -- he certainly wasn't going to accept input from Democrats. The plan is for the bill to be rushed through the Senate (and then, I assume, the plan will be for the House to pass the Senate's bill with equal haste). And what kind of message is this for Republicans going forward? Vote for us, not for the terrible people who refused to improve the awful bill we wrote -- seriously?

But I think you'll hear this regularly in the right-wing media. I think McConnell, Paul Ryan, and other elected Republicans will brazenly argue that Democrats have some nerve complaining about the outcome when they announced an effective boycott of the process from the beginning.

The majority of Republican voters will actually fall for this. I hope very few other voters do.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

KAREN WHO? RIGHT-WING MEDIA IGNORES WINNING CANDIDATE WHILE FOCUSING ON GOP BRAND MANAGEMENT

(UPDATE: Thanks to Charlie Pierce for the link, though I think the post he meant to link is this one. I highly recommend his post, and not just because my name's in it.)


If you didn't know anything about the winning Republican candidate in yesterday's Georgia special election, good luck finding information on her at sites devoted to right-wing politics. The top story on the Breitbart home page right now is about the election, but it's not about the winner, Karen Handel, or the loser, Jon Ossoff. It's about the hated mainstream media:



Also amassing thousands of comments: "Hollywood Melts Down After Ossoff Loss: ‘Grouphug, Get In’" and "Hollywood Fail: Jon Ossoff Loses Georgia Congressional Election Despite Massive Celebrity Help." There's a relatively straightforward report on Handel's victory, but it has a small fraction of the comments amassed by the stories above. There's no profile of Handel and there's no story praising her campaign.

At the top of the Fox News front page, there's barely a mention of the race. Because it's Fox, where building the president's brand is Job #1, the only listed text story about the race is "Georgia Race: Trump Casts GOP Winning Streak as Rejection of Dem ‘Obstruction.’"

On the front page of the Daily Caller, you have to scroll through 42 stories before Handel's name even shows up. ("HANDELED: Republicans Beat Back National Democratic Effort In Georgia," reads the front-page headline for the story.) The race gets more prominent coverage on the front page, but it's all mockery of Democrats and the media: "GOP Rep Slams Dems Claiming 'Moral Victory' In Georgia--'Moral Victories Don't Get To Vote In Congress'"; "MSNBC Host Joy Ann Reid Spreads False Claim About Ga. Special Election"; "Joe Scarborough On Dem's GA Flop: 'Going Further Left Is Only Going To Lead To More Losses'"; "Dem Infighting Online Heats Up After Special Election Losses In Georgia And South Carolina"; "Dems Running Out Of Chances To Earn Symbolic Win Before Midterms"; "Brace Yourselves For Sad Photos Of Ossoff Supporters"; "Georgia Democrat Loses, Wealthy California Liberals Hardest Hit"; "Kellyanne Takes A Victory Lap After Ossoff Defeat"; "Dems Already Blaming Ossoff Loss On Hacks."

It's as if media Republicans (and their readers) don't even care about the party's candidates or the policies they'll espouse when they're in Washington. All that matters is bashing their enemies, and thus reinforcing their brand: We hate Hollywood. We hate the MSM. We savor the deliciousness of liberal tears.

At this point, voter support for the GOP is almost completely divorced from policy. It's all about sticking a thumb in the eye of Rosie O'Donnell, Joy Reid, and Nancy Pelosi. I guess this is why Republicans in Congress think they won't be penalized when they vote for a horrible health care bill.

APPARENTLY DEMOCRATS NEED AN AGENDA TO WIN. APPARENTLY REPUBLICANS DON'T.

Matt Yglesias looks at the Georgia special election and concludes that Democrats need an agenda:
Right now on health care and many other issues, Democrats suffer from a cacophony of white papers and a paucity of unity around any kind of vision or story they want to paint of what is wrong with America today and what is the better country they want to build for the future. And until they do, they’re going to struggle to mobilize supporters in the way they need to win tough races.
He notes that Jeremy Corbyn overperformed in the recent U.K. elections by focusing on an agenda:
... running on a bold progressive policy agenda didn’t stop [Corbyn] from picking up support in exactly the kind of upscale precincts that the Democratic establishment has been trying to target. And it did succeed in doing what post-Obama Democrats have failed to do — engage young voters and encourage them to come to the polls.
Yglesias thinks the lack of an agenda created an opening for Handel to run on trivialities:
... [Karen Handel's] campaign and its allies buried Ossoff under a pile of what basically amounts to nonsense — stuff about Kathy Griffin, stuff about Samuel L. Jackson, stuff about his home being just over the district line, stuff about him having raised money from out of state — lumped together under the broad heading that he’s an “outsider.”
But Handel apparently didn't need a bold party agenda in order to win, because to some extent she ran against her party and its agenda:
Karen Handel didn’t argue that the Republican Party’s health care bill is a good idea (it’s very unpopular) or that tax cuts for millionaires should be the country’s top economic priority (another policy that polls dismally).
My conclusion: Republicans have a strong brand. The brand is "Democrats suck," and nearly any Republican in a competitive race can win with it. Republicans don't really need a bold, fresh agenda. Democrats have a brand that's weak among supporters and strong among haters. A bold, fresh agenda would help them, but it's the "strong among haters" part that's killing them. And they have no idea what to do about that -- most Democrats (and most mainstream pundits) don't even recognize that that's their problem.

If anything, there's a belief out there that Democrats have a Nancy Pelosi problem.



But if Republicans weren't demonizing Pelosi, they'd be demonizing some other Democrat -- Elizabeth Warren, Al Franken, Chuck Schumer, Adam Schiff, Kamala Harris. Republicans demonized "Dingy Harry" Reid for years. And there are always the good old Clintons.

Even "nice" Republicans in highly educated districts respond to "Democrats suck." So the GOP doesn't need an agenda. GOP voters don't need to like the Republican president. But plenty of Democrats don't turn out despite displeasure with Republicans. So, yeah, I guess Democrats need an agenda, because even the awfulness of McConnell, Ryan, and Trump isn't motivation enough.

(Oh, and let's not forget that Corbyn fell short, just like Ossoff.)


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

DEMOCRATS STILL STRUGGLE TO OVERCOME THEIR RIGHT-WING PROPAGANDA PROBLEM

Well, there you go: Jon Ossoff lost.

Here was Dave Wasserman at FiveThirtyEight not long before the race was called, on the site's live blog of today's two House special elections:
It’s ... legitimately possible that South Carolina’s result could wind up closer than Georgia’s, which would be astounding.
Here was Wasserman about an half hour before that:
If [Democrat Archie] Parnell loses South Carolina by 4 or 5 points, lots of Democratic activists will point fingers at the party’s hierarchy for not getting more involved.... But it’s possible that Parnell is doing well tonight because he wasn’t hyped, not despite it.
Parnell has also been declared a loser of his race -- but he lost by only 3.2 points in a deep-red district. Right now, Ossoff is trailing Republican Karen Handel by 5.2 points in a district that's also solidly red, but where Hillary Clinton made it a squeaker last November.

If Democrats actually did better in the race that didn't get national attention, I worry that it means Democrats struggle to overcome the relentless, 24/7/365 demonization of their party in the right-wing media, which is basically the mainstream media in much of white America. The South Carolina race was ignored by the rest of the country, which means that allegedly nasty nationwide Democrats were never a factor.

In Georgia, Handel voters weren't voting against Ossoff -- they were voting against evil coast-dwellers from New York and Massachusetts and California. They were voting against Nancy Pelosi, history's greatest monster. Watch this:



Ossoff was attacked for getting too much money from outside Georgia -- as noted in the attack ad above, which was paid for by the Congressional Leadership Fund, which is, um, not Georgia-based. Neither are the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Republican National Committee, which contributed massive amounts of money to elect Handel (more than comparable national Democratic organizations).



On Handel's behalf, a D.C.-based organization made that ad to persuade people that outsiders were too involved in Ossoff's campaign. And it worked.

Maybe this sort of thing won't be a problem in less-Republican districts in 2018 -- and there are a lot of them, so I'm still somewhat optimistic about the Democrats' chances of taking the House. But it may be hopeless in many races to try to pick off Republican voters of long standing, even if they're disillusioned by President Trump and the GOP Congress. They've just been told day after day for years that Democrats are tax-crazy and weak-willed and treasonous and just plain evil, so they routinely come home on Election Day, especially if the Coastal Democratic Menace seems to be a real presence in a particular race.

Democrats don't recognize this GOP propaganda tsunami as a problem. And no, Republicans don't have an identical problem with Democratic voters, because certain Republicans can win in virtually any Democratic state: Governor Charlie Baker in Massachusetts (and many GOP governors before him, including Mitt Romney and Bill Weld). Mayors Rudy Giuliani and Mike Bloomberg in New York City. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in California not long ago. Governor Larry Hogan in Maryland. Most Democratic voters think these Republicans are ... different. (See also Senator Susan Collins in Maine, or Governor John Kasich in Ohio.)

Democrats, by contrast, are nearly always seen to have liberalism cooties. It's a problem that needs to be dealt with.

Looking forward to 2018, sure, I'm rooting for ironworker Randy Bryce to beat Paul Ryan.



But Republicans will try to turn even this guy into a latte-sipping Pelosi clone by November 2018. And they have their voters so primed to believe this of any Democrat that they really might succeed.

PHONY GOP MODERATES GET THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT MORE THAN REAL DEMOCRATIC MODERATES

We're being told that moderate Republicans are wary of the Senate health care bill:
A key moderate Senate Republican says she's uncomfortable with the emerging Senate health care plan, which is likely to cap Medicaid spending and shift it to a lower growth rate in 2025. "I think that's a problem. I think that sort of defeats the purpose of keeping people on, and at a level at which the program can be sustained," Sen. Shelley Moore Capito told me this morning. "I don't look favorably on it, that's for sure."

... If Republicans lose the votes of moderates like Capito, it's hard to see how the bill can pass.
Josh Marshall is not buying it:
... the Iron Law of Republican Politics is that the GOP moderates always cave. But the cave is never without a stage managed drama. And that appears to be the part of the story we’re now entering.

Axios just reported that Sen. Shelley Moore Capito is expressing concern over Medicaid cuts in the Senate Trumpcare bill....

Please.

... It is not only that the ‘GOP moderates always cave.’ It is that we are asked to (and almost always do) indulge this fainting couch routine or a furious bout of chin stroking that comes as a prelude to the cave.

... This isn’t negotiating or putting a foot down. It’s play acting.... on the off chance Sen Capito is serious, she should do something to make that clear. Otherwise, it’s just a yarn, just more nonsense to hide the ball and pave the way for the preordained outcome.
Greg Sargent wrote something similar last week:
Republican senators are now making a great show of expressing their disapproval with the scandalously opaque and secretive process that the GOP Senate leadership is employing in the quest to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act....

But it’s very likely that all of this will end up amounting to just another ruse....

If a handful of GOP senators said they can’t vote for the bill under these conditions, McConnell might have to relent, because he can afford to lose only a few.

In fairness, that is a lot to expect from a GOP senator. But there is something else any individual GOP senator — or a small group of them — could do to try to improve the process: They could go to McConnell and privately say that a slower and more transparent process is actually very important to them.

... until we learn otherwise, we should assume that the only thing individual senators are accomplishing with their complaints is getting good quotes for themselves in the media without creating any meaningful discomfort for GOP leaders that might induce them to change any of this.
And yet when all this is over and the president signs the McConnellcare bill into law after it's rubber-stamped by the House, the phony Republican moderates who always cave will continue to be regarded as moderates. The press will still call them that. They'll accept the label and run future races with that reputation intact.

By contrast, when Democrats operate from a left-centrist point of view, they're still baited by the GOP as if they're the love children of Karl Marx and Rosa Luxembourg. That how New Democrat Bill Clinton was described throughout his presidency. No attempts at moderation or compromise ever changed that portrait of Clinton, and compromise fan Barack Obama was treated similarly. And now this is happening to Jon Ossoff in his congressional race against Karen Handel.

Ossoff's no flaming radical:
Bucking the left, Mr. Ossoff said in an interview that he would not support raising income taxes, even for the wealthy, and opposed “any move” toward a single-payer health care system. Attacked by Republicans for his ties to national liberals, Mr. Ossoff said he had not yet given “an ounce of thought” to whether he would vote for Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, in a future ballot for speaker.

His own race, Mr. Ossoff told supporters, was about “sending a message to Washington.” But that message, he said, was about “decency and respect and unity, rather than division.”
His reward for that is this:



And this:
Handel said: “I can only tell you what I have observed in this race. The anger has been from the left with groups of trackers showing up and literally adopting a gang-like posture and virtually stalking individuals.”

... Her campaign repeatedly attacked Ossoff over his support from the House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, and his “San Francisco values”.
Even moderate Democrats are described in terms suggesting they're fist-shaking progressives. Phony-moderate Republicans? Always portrayed as the real thing.

BUT YOU TOLD ME THE LEFT WAS A COLLECTION OF TERRORIST TOTALITARIANS

Okay, I'm confused: Everyone tells me that the Democratic Party is part of "the angry left," and yet, according to a new CBS poll, Democrats are less comfortable with political anger than Republicans:



You could argue that Democrats are upset at angry talk from Republicans and don't consider anything on their own side to be objectionable. But what's shown up in recent news stories on this subject? Kathy Griffin's severed Trump head, James Hodgkinson's Facebook posts and letters to the editor, a production of Shakespeare in which the assassinated Julius Caesar is a Trump-like figure. If Democrats were as angry as they're said to be, you'd expect them to be circling the wagons around people whose words and deeds go over the line (or, in the case of Shakespeare in the Park, are said to do so).

But Democratic voters aren't saying that. The notion that rank-and-file Democrats want to be campus-speech-deplatforming, Antifa-window-smashing, Trump-effigy-decapitating thugs isn't borne out by the numbers.

So, no, Erick Erickson, we're not "the American ISIS." The overwhelming majority of Democrats don't even like incivil speech. We like it less than your people do.

Monday, June 19, 2017

I THINK KAREN HANDEL'S GOING TO WIN

FiveThirtyEight's Harry Enten:



He's referring to this, from the Republican-leaning Trafalgar Group:



I know -- it's just one poll. And Trafalgar has only a C rating from FiveThirtyEight. On the other hand, Trafalgar called the election for Trump, predicting wins in Pennsylvania and Michigan.

Nate Silver looks at the overall polling and tweets:



(Two other recent polls show the race tied.)

Josh Marshall tweets:



That's the way it usually goes, right? The most reprehensible Republican ads routinely work. The Willie Horton ad. The Jesse Helms "Hands" ad. So why wouldn't this work?



The bigger issue is that even though this is a district full of highly educated voters, the kind of district in which Donald Trump ran much worse than Mitt Romney, it's still a Republican district. That means it's full of white people who've listened to nearly forty years of Democrat-bashing from Ronald Reagan, the religious right, talk radio, Fox News, and GOP elected officials and admakers. These are voters who believe the worst stereotypes of Democrats. It's an uphill battle for any Democrat to overcome those stereotypes. That Ossoff has done so even temporarily is remarkable.

For decades, heartland whites have been conditioned to despise the Democratic Party, so they nearly always believe the lowest of negative ads about Democrats, and nearly always vote for the GOP in the end. Ossoff might win, but I'll be surprised.

And I hope the Ossoff campaign can prove me wrong.

TRUMP IS FLOPPING, BUT THERE'S STILL A BIG OPENING IN AMERICA FOR WHITE NATIONALISM -- OR FDR LIBERALISM

Jonathan Chait reads a new survey of U.S. voters from the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group and flags this:



Chait draws attention to the graph to make the point that despite all the media attention libertarianism gets, the American electorate has very few actual libertarians -- people who are economically conservative but socially liberal. That would be the underpopulated lower right quadrant. There are a lot of people in the lower left quadrant (people who are economic and social liberals) and in the upper right quadrant (people who are economic and social conservatives).

But let's focus on the upper left quadrant. Chait writes:
... the truth is that the underrepresented cohort in American politics is the opposite of libertarians: people with right-wing social views who support big government on the economy.
The study calls these people "populists." Chait quotes the study's author, Lee Drutman on the subject of Hillary Clinton's failure to win over these voters:
As Drutman notes, “Among populists who voted for Obama, Clinton did terribly. She held onto only 6 in 10 of these voters (59 percent). Trump picked up 27 percent of these voters, and the remaining 14 percent didn’t vote for either major party candidate.” What makes this result fascinating is that, in 2008, Clinton had positioned herself as the candidate of the white working class and she dominated the white socially conservative wing of her party. But she lost that identity so thoroughly that she couldn’t even replicate the performance of a president who had become synonymous with elite social liberalism.
I've never understood why Hillary didn't try to appeal to the white working class in 2016 the way she did in the homestretch of the 2008 primaries:



I know she was trying, in a racially pointed way, to distinguish herself from Obama in the spring of '08. But she could have tried walking into a few workingmen's bars in 2016 without nodding and winking to white solidarity. Why couldn't her campaign have made an effort to reach out to older whites while continuing to reach out to non-whites and the young? I think I know the answer -- she was calling plays from the Obama playbook. But Obama, as it turned out, knew how to retain some of these white voters better than Clinton did. It helped that both of his general-election opponents were wealthy men with multiple homes. But I think he also knew how to speak enough of Middle America's language to retain some of the voters Clinton lost. And he had Joe Biden, who was able to appeal to both old and new Democrats.

Pollsters tell us that Donald Trump is gradually losing popularity, even among working-class whites. He's not accomplishing anything, and what might emerge from unified GOP control is standard-issue supply-side Republicanism. But that well-populated economic-liberal/social-conservative quadrant in the graph above leads me to believe that there's going to be an opening in the near future for a politician who really is what Trump claimed to be -- a flag-waver who wanted to make the lives of the non-rich better.

As I've said before, many white nationalist parties outside the U.S. support economic policies intended to make their voters' lives better. That upper-left quadrant tells me that a future Trump -- a Trump who's sincere about economic populism in a way that appeals to white workers -- could do well by combining that with nationalism and ethnocentricity. That's worrisome.

On the other hand, something approaching old-fashioned New Deal liberalism might have the same effect on these voters. Maybe if Democrats can promise (and deliver) economic change for them, while offering some validation of their values -- maybe just to the degree that Obama and Biden did -- they can be won back.

In any case, there are a lot of voters in this group. Winning them back may not require racist appeals or abandonment of abortion rights and LGBT rights -- Obama won enough of them to be elected twice. It might not take much adjustment for Democrats to win some of them back -- if they feel they can be part of the Democratic coalition. Otherwise, they'll gravitate to populism -- or more phony populism from the GOP>

READERS OF RIGHT-WING SITES ARE CELEBRATING THE FINSBURY PARK INCIDENT

Thanks again to the relief crew for posting while I was away -- great work as always.

This morning I'm reading about an apparent anti-Muslim terror incident in London:
A van ploughed into a crowd outside Muslim Welfare House near Finsbury Park Mosque at around 12.20am....

The 48-year-old driver ploughed his white van into a crowd of Ramadan worshippers helping an elderly man who collapsed in the heat, killing one and injuring at least ten more at 12.20am this morning.

The unnamed man - who was clean-shaven with curly hair and wore a white t-shirt - suffered cuts to his face and hands and was filmed repeatedly shouting 'kill me' to the men who grabbed him.

Witnesses said he 'deliberately' drove onto the pavement outside north London's Muslim Welfare House - yards from the Finsbury Park Mosque - and jumped out of the cab shouting 'I'm going to kill all Muslims - I did my bit'.
Many, many readers of right-wing sites are expressing support for the driver.

At Fox Nation:
A HERO Driver strikes a blow against those that Murder thousands each day...Seems reasonable...!

****

Someone finally let these rag heads know "You the only one think you can drive a car or van"

****

"Worshippers" = Future jihadis in training.

****

Liberals in London have had enough and now they are starting to fight back..

****

london whites are finally getting it up
At the Daily Caller:
a tower full of fried muslims and now this.....the Brits are getting their balls back

****

Three cheers for the guy who ran Koranimals over for a change. Payback biatches.

****

Headline should read. Patriot defends nation agianst terrorist invaders.

****

I fail to see the downside.

****

good...now English patriots need to burn every mosque to the ground.
At InfoWars:
Idiot driver, he only killed one.

****

Any news on the condition of the van?

****

Me, white man with a smile. The oppressed strikes back.
At Breitbart:
Dude should have taken some extra driving lessons. Muzz rats thicker than hairs on a dogs back but only managed to despatch one. Shame.

****

Lets have a fund raiser. That van must need some body work...

****

The Mussies need to reap what they sow.
At Gateway Pundit:
It's to bad those goat lovers weren't on their knees with their rear ends in the air when this happened.

****

Boo Hoo Hoo. Missed too many.

****

Brits will not sit back while their country is terrorized by Muslim invaders.

****

Dude, wheres my van?

****

Islamophobe: Someone who knows more than they should about Islam.

****

Using vehicles to mow down innocent pedestrians....
Muslims 10
Christians 1

I believe in 4th quarter comebacks! Gooooo Christians.

****

I guess it must suck to be on the other side of street justice...It was just a matter of time before citizens had, had enough.
And Alex Jones hasn't declared this a false flag yet, but at least one InfoWars reader isn't waiting:
FALSE FLAG

FALSE FLAG

FALSE FLAG

THEY DID THIS SO PEOPLE WILL HAVE SYMPATHY FOR THE MUSLIMS AND OPEN BORDERS FOR THOSE PEACEFUL MUSLIMS !

WAKE UP,THIS IS A FALSE FLAG !
I'm also seeing that at Breitbart:
More facts needed. The guy in the video doesn't match the guy in photographs, unless he was wearing a wig or something. All kinds of wrong with this story.

****

A van weighing > 1 ton would obliterate human bodies. This story stinks.

****

My guess is an Islamic false flag. We have had numerous such attacks in the USA.
And Gateway Pundit:
Probably organized by Saddick Kahn. Their- hey look, it happens to us too- moment. Not buying this at all.

****

No dents, no blood on the front of the van, video shows CPR being administered to a conscious person. Another day in crisis actor land...
A handful of people on the left cheered the Alexandria shootings. Most of us were horrified and disgusted. By contrast, many right-wingers are delighted that this incident took place. They want more -- oh, except for the ones who think it didn't happen the way it's being reported.

Alex Jones might be too busy attacking Megyn Kelly to give much attention to this, but I suspect he'll call this a false flag, and possibly say the same thing about the death of a Muslim teenager after an attack in Fairfax County, Virginia, over the weekend. Maybe he'll surprise us and refrain, but I doubt it.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Quantum Trump: In Sekulow Saeculorum


I had to use that before somebody else did.

T-Shirt by Northbound Christian Apparel.



The generally accepted interpretation being, I believe, that it's a complaint against deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who wrote that memo in an all-nighter from May 8 to 9 after (according to Rosenstein) Trump informed him that he was planning to fire the FBI director James Comey and asked Rosenstein for "advice and input". That is, he didn't tell Trump to fire the FBI director ("I accepted their recommendation"), unless of course he did ("I was going to fire regardless of recommendation"). Thus, if Rosenstein were to be investigating Trump now (which he isn't, he is at most responsible for greenlighting special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, if there is one) for firing Comey (which would be a less important fact in the question of Trump's possible obstruction of justice than his repeated requests to Comey to go easy on Flynn, to make a public announcement that he wasn't investigating Trump, and to make the "cloud" go away), that would be pretty ironic, huh?

To which Jay Sekulow, a new member of the Trump personal legal team, now explains on Fox News, no, that wasn't what the Tweet was about:
That tweet, Chris, was in response to The Washington Post story that alleged that five unnamed sources, anonymous sources, leaked to The Washington Post that the president was, in fact, under investigation. So that tweet was in response to that. There’s been no notification of an investigation. Nothing’s changed since James Comey said the president was not a target or subject of investigation. Nothing’s changed.
So Trump was being sarcastic maybe? "Sure, Washington Post, pull the other one!" He was simply producing an inaccurate summary of the Post story to show how inaccurate it would have been if that had indeed been the story they ran, which it wasn't?

Two Minutes of Hate, Fifteen Minutes of Fame

Back in the late '70s my friend Dina decided she wanted to become famous for being famous, in a DIY punk sort of way. So she took on the name Dina Famous and we put up xeroxed 8 1/2 x 11 handbills advertising "Dina Famous" all over Berkeley. It was all tongue in cheek, of course, and she didn't actually become famous (though she is friends with tons of famous or semi-famous people in the music industry....but that's a whole other story), but we did have fun with it.

This was, for the record, several years before the movie Smithereens, in which a painfully talentless young woman tries to become famous in a DIY punk sort of way by posting xeroxed images of herself all over Manhattan.

And it was nearly 40 years before some semi-obscure right-wing blogger jumped on the stage of that Julius Caesar production all the right-wing shills are faux-outraged about.

Of course this Laura Loomer person got herself arrested, and of course she's milking it for all it's worth. Is there a donation link on that page, you ask? Silly question:
And here's the punchline: Laura Loomer (like James O'Keefe, and who knows how many others) is the beneficiary of a right-wing media ecosystem with an endless appetite for entertainment that reinforces their cherished narratives. It's a system in which any right-wing Dina Famous can achieve the momentary success they believe they deserve.

Damn you, Donald! I was hoping finally to take a vacation in Cuba this winter and you just went and ruined it.

I've had two bucks invested here since 1957
Yes, this is partly about how Donald Trump wrecked the loosening of America’s ban on travel to Cuba. But for me it’s more than that. And it’s personal. And it's old. The story goes back sixty years. 

In 1957, I was an Antioch College student in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Back then, there were only two drinking spots in town, and the students pretty much stuck to one of them. It was called the Trail Tavern. It’s still there today, a centuries-old building on the main drag that once served as a hiding place for escaped slaves on the underground railroad.

So one night, I was sitting at the bar in the Trail Tavern and a classmate of mine, one Bennett Kremen, sits down next to me and begins raving.

“Man,” he says, “I was just down in Cuba. There’s gonna be a revolution down there. Everybody thinks Batista has the country under control, but I was up in the mountains, in a place called Oriente, and they’ve got a whole army of revolutionaries. You should see the shit they’ve got. They’ve got jeeps. They’ve got howitzers. They’ve got trucks. They’ve got rifles. They've got mortars. They’ve got machine guns. They’re going to take over that country, man!”

“Uh oh,” I thought, “Crazy Benny is at it again. Maybe he’s been smoking a bit too much loco weed.”

That same week, a group of Cubans visited campus, representing some guy nobody ever heard of at the time called Fidel Castro. It wasn’t until about seven years ago that I ran into Kremen again and he admitted that he had brought the Cubans back with him, from his vacation.

At any rate, I sat in a dormitory common room while the Cubans had their say. They were planning to get rid of Fulgencio Batista, the dictator of Cuba, they said. Yeah, well nobody loved the guy. He was the kind of person Theodore Roosevelt defended with undisguised disgust when he said “They may be sons of bitches but they’re our sons of bitches."

I was only half listening to the Cubans. I wasn’t particularly political at the time and I had some books to crack. But I do remember them confirming what most Americans already knew anyway. Batista was an S.O.B., a brutal dictator, who had built an economy based on sugar prices supported by the U.S. Government, gambling casinos, and whorehouses. The visiting Cubans told us many illustrative atrocity stories to convince us of what we already knew. One story was about a Batista opponent whose eyes were gouged out in prison by Batista's police. I believed it. Batista was not a nice guy.

At they end of the talk, they told us they were collecting money for their cause and passed a hat around. That's not a metaphor. It was a real hat. I tossed in two dollars.

Now two dollars was not a huge sum, but it bought a lot more than you can get for two bucks today. With two dollars, I could have bought coffee every night in the college coffee shop for maybe two weeks. Or I could have purchased perhaps five hamburgers. Most important of all, two dollars was two-fifths of my weekly spending money. 

All the same, as six decades of inflation have done their work, two dollars increasingly sounds like a cheesy contribution. Which is part of the joke I’ve been cracking for the last twenty years or so.

“One of these days I’m going to go down to Cuba to see what I got for my two bucks,” I’d say at cocktail parties. Sometimes it elicited an amused chuckle.

Then President Obama loosened up some of the restrictions on travel to Cuba. And I started thinking about actually going there. I’m under no illusions about the government. It's a police state. It treated Batista’s brutes with the same brutality they had treated others. Far too many Cubans died in front of Castro's firing squads. Some may have been innocent, or guilty of very little.

And yes, from what I know, the Castro government’s major achievement was turning desperate poverty into genteel poverty. But if true, I see that as an improvement, quite an improvement considering we've embargoed their economy for half a century. The people became better fed. They certainly became better educated. They have access to medical care that many Americans could wish for, even as the Cubans have to watch what they say, and to whom they say it.

I was hoping to travel there inexpensively. I hoped to sleep at Air BnB homes, where I could guardedly converse with Cubans about what they liked, and didn’t like, about their lives and their government. This was going to happen this coming winter.

And then along comes Donald Trump. For no good reason, other than to break something because President Obama made it, and to please a handful of aged Cuban refugees who can’t let go of their hatred for the dead Fidel, Trump slammed on the brakes.

Obama caused “illegal tourism” to Cuba, Trump declared in one of his typically incoherent rants. He was going to stop the illegality.

Can you still go to Cuba? From what the Washington Post reports, yes, if you have relatives there. Or if you get on a Cuban tour bus and let  yourself get shuttled from site to site by government guides feeding you the party line. But hell, if I’m going to do that I might as well stay home and read about it on the Internet. Thank Donald Trump.

Once again, the problem child in the White House has acted like a six year old who goes to a classmate’s birthday party, breaks all the toys, throws the birthday cake on the floor, and then whines that all the other kids are being mean to him. In this case, the breakage was of less restrictive travel to Cuba. So I may never see first hand what I got for my two bucks.

Oh, about Bennett Kremen. In the early 1970s he traveled around parts of the United States, doing total immersion journalism. He worked in factories. He froze helping to build an arctic oil pipeline. He hung with students. He dug into Americans' lives and their thoughts, and turned it into a book called “Dateline America: dispatches from an altering nation.”

It got a friendly review from Kirkus. It got a snarky review in the Harvard Crimson from some college kid named Nick Lemann, who is today Dean Emeritus of Columbia University’s graduate school of journalism and a writer for the New Yorker. Go know.

Kremen pretty much gave up on journalism after that and went on to do other things. So far as I know, he has not been back to Cuba again. And thanks to Donald Trump, I am likely never to get there in my own lifetime. Another reason I so relish watching the Trump Administration implode into itself.


Is there going to be a Senate health bill?

Who says there's no diversity among the 13 white men on the Senate's Health Care Working Group? More at Yahoo! News.
I'm sure Steve and other good people are right in warning us to stay vigilant on the threat of TrumpCare, whatever that turns out to be (certainly including an end to the employer mandate requiring companies to buy health insurance for their workers, an end to the Ten Essential Benefits every health insurance policy is now required to cover without a copay and the community rating system that allows people with preexisting conditions to pay the same premiums as everybody else, and the transformation of Medicaid into a block-granted state-run boondoggle that will end up in red states in the general revenue, like TANF in the Gingrich "welfare reform" of 1998, reluctantly signed after two vetoes by Bill Clinton, covering none of the needs of the poor; and of course cutting some $660 billion off the taxes of very wealthy individuals and insurance and drug companies). And yet I have a harder and harder time believing that it really exists.

I mean the Senate bill in particular, said to be getting cooked up in absolute secrecy for a vote without hearings, public scrutiny, or CBO score, maybe next week, or whenever they're confident they have the 51 votes according to ThinkProgress,

They can hide, but they can't run. Sooner or later it's got to be unveiled and voted on, and then go to conference with the House. The Senate Republicans have the same kind of tension as the House ones do, too, between those who would like to pretend the bill does some good to the needy (Murkowski, Gardner, Portman, Moore Capito, and Collins) and those for whom total defeat over Obama is the prime directive (Paul, Lee, and Cruz), which means the drama of March through May, where the House leadership had to withdraw one bill without a vote before passing a bill for the Senate to ignore, will be repeated. The public approval of the bill as people understand it is now down to 29% nationwide (as opposed to 49% for Obamacare); there isn't a single state where it's above 35%.

Public approval of the AHCA by state, as of June 15, from New York Times.
And Donald Trump's own initial love for the House bill seems to have changed over the past five or six weeks to loathing...

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Witch hunts



Indeed. Although I think the deplorable Posobiec has more of an idea than he realizes there.

The updated staging thing with an open metahistorical reference—Richard Wagner's Ring, say, where the god Wotan is dressed as Wagner himself—is an iffy proposition (as opposed to the general update as when you stage Macbeth in World War I costume to underline the pointlessness of the conflicts) and I personally think the Shakespeare in the Park production of Julius Caesar in which Caesar is made to look like Donald Trump was a terrible, incoherent idea, Shakespeare's Caesar being as unlike Trump as a historical character could well be—profoundly educated, physically brave, deeply attached to his friends (you see him losing the will to live when he realizes Brutus has betrayed him), and really a minor character after all, dying before the play is halfway over—Brutus and Cassius and Antony are the principals.

What's the value to the play of making Caesar a Trump figure? Really, it just ennobles Trump in an absurd way. I don't see that it does anything for the play at all.

But I can definitely see parts for Hillary Clinton in a revival of Arthur Miller's The Crucible. She could be Martha Corey, for instance, who was basically hanged for refusing to believe in witchcraft—isn't that parallel to the way Clinton's insistence on calm rationality and wonkery led to her defeat in an atmosphere that preferred to reduce everything to a pure emotive shout of "It's a disaster! They're killing us!" Or 71-year-old Rebecca Nurse, accused of "tempting and torturing" children, hanged in spite of being found innocent by the jury—there was no evidence against her—when the child accusers went hysterical in the courtroom, claiming she was attacking them there and then, and the jury decided to re-deliberate; doesn't that remind you of the Pizzagate "scandal"—the story of Hillary Clinton and John Podesta running a child sex ring/Satanic coven out of a D.C. pizzeria—breaking out the week before the election?

Hi, Jack Posobiec, there's a part for you there! You could be one of the screaming fit-throwing girls who gets the jury to change their minds!


Or she could be the protagonist of the play's central tragedy, Elizabeth Proctor, whose husband John once had an affair with a servant girl. The affair is long over, but its memory and the couple's unresolved conflict over it brings on the plot twists that lead to the dénouement, in which she doesn't die in the end, but he does, and the two of them come off as the most decent people in the wretched town. That was a true witch hunt.

Cross-posted at The Rectification of Names.

Friday, June 16, 2017

GONE AGAIN FOR A FEW DAYS

I'll be away from the blog for the weekend, but stop by for (I hope) some guest posts from the brilliant relief crew. I'll see you on Monday.