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Saturday, August 27, 2016


Badass in black

by Tom Sullivan

Photo by Diana Walker for TIME, 2011.

The New Republic's Rebecca Nelson points out that working-class millennials show up to vote at about half the rate of college-educated peers. This is an opportunity for Hillary Clinton, she writes. Or perhaps a missed one. Because, Nelson points out, Clinton tends to use the word millennials interchangeably with college students. Non-college-educated millennials are not the low-hanging fruit to be found concentrated on college campuses. Nelson takes a stab at how Clinton might inspire them to turn out. But:

There is one part of Obama’s playbook, however, that Clinton should not try to emulate. It’s inherently harder to make Clinton cool, thanks to her stodgy political persona and her 25 years in the spotlight. But her distinctly uncool nature could actually help her connect with non-college millennials more effectively than Obama did. They’re not looking for a pop-culture icon; they want someone who hears their concerns and gets the job done for them.
Political Animal's Martin Longman thinks some of Nelson's prescriptions for attracting these millennials are a little weak. Plus, referencing the 2012 Texts from Hillary meme, Longman writes:
She didn’t seem to reflect a “distinctly uncool ... stodgy political persona” to me. Maybe it was a little strained but it was funny and it kind of fit. I don’t see why she should attempt to make a virtue out of being boring nor why she should avoid the kind of slick marketing that could humanize her for young people. Of course, it has to work. It can’t be ridiculous.
No, it would have to be authentic. From Politico in June:
“She doesn’t need to be cool. She just needs to be who she is,” said Sarah Audelo, the Clinton campaign’s youth vote director. “That’s what young people are interested in. Young people want authenticity.”
In his post, Longman uses the photo at the top of Clinton in dark glasses texting on a military plane that helped spark meme.

It is just coincidence that I used a song by Johnny Cash yesterday to describe what Hillary Clinton did to the Donald Trump campaign in Reno, Nevada. But "Folsom Prison Blues" wasn't the only inspiration. The Man in Black was on my mind for another reason. That Clinton texting photo had come up in conversation earlier in the week. My wife remarked in passing that Clinton looks pretty "badass in black."

Maybe she should work that.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Friday Night Soother: National Dog Day

by digby

Here's my friend Biscuit, a 2 year old Labradoodle, with her favorite chew toy: Donald Trump

She is a very, very good girl!


I know you're a bigot but what am I?

by digby

Millions of people all over the country reacted this way to Trump's latest "I know you are but what am I" nonsense:

Donald Trump turned the tables on critics who have branded him a racist by calling his presidential rival Hillary Clinton a "bigot."

"Hillary Clinton is a bigot who sees people of color only as votes, not as human beings worthy of a better future," he told supporters at a rally in Jackson, Mississippi, on Wednesday. "She's going to do nothing for African Americans. She's going to do nothing for the Hispanics. She's only going to take care of herself, her consultants, her donors."

Yeah, very believable ...
Clinton and the press

by digby

NPR did some analysis of the big "Clinton is dodging the press" complaint and it's quite interesting.  It turns out she is doing plenty of press with local and regional papers and she prefers to do TV interviews, town halls etc. But it's true that she hasn't held a press conference at all this year, which is bugging the hell out of the press corps because they love the sort of pile-on those events inevitably turn out to be with politicians who aren't deft at the easygoing glad-handing of the media as George W Bush,Bill Clinton or Barack Obama were. Still, it's part of the job whether she likes it or not.

Anyway, it's quite interesting.  It doesn't let Clinton of the hook at all but I think this observation shows she may understand something about the political press pack that they don't understand about themselves:
During one of her longer conversations, with Politico's Glenn Thrush for his podcast in early April, Clinton revealed some of her thinking about the reporters who cover her. 
"Once you get to a national press position, like yours and the others that are traveling with me, you're really under, in my impression, a kind of pressure to produce a political story," Clinton told Thrush. 
"A headline," Thrush offered. 
"That's your job," Clinton said. "A headline, right? I totally get it."
There has always been tremendous pressure to nail Clinton going back 25 years and it has always been even more aggressive toward her than it was to her husband. And perversely because she's running against this lunatic Donald Trump, who produces shocking headlines every day, they are under even more pressure to find something, anything to prove that they aren't Clinton apologists because they're covering the running catastrophe of Trump's campaign so thoroughly.

This is an old dynamic and I get it.  I feel it too.  Nobody likes to fight off accusations of being a hack. But that's a problem in itself.

Anyway, it's a good article.  This one by Brian Beutler on the same subject is good too.  I don't know what the answer to the problem is but it's a real problem.

Know what I'm sayin'?

by digby

Speaking of Robert Byrd

by digby

Just a little reminder for all the Trump defenders out there who are trying to say Clinton is racist for being friendly to Robert Byrd years after he had repudiated his KKK affiliation.

This is from a piece by Rick Perlstein about Trump's "urban avenging angel" form of conservatism:

No history of modern conservatism I’m aware of finds much significance in the 22,000 Nazi sympathizers who rallied for Hitler at Madison Square Garden in February 1939, presided over by a giant banner of General George Washington that stretched almost all the way to the second deck, capped off by a menacing eagle insignia.

Nor the now-infamous Ku Klux Klan march through the streets of Queens in 1927, when The New York Times reported “1,000 Klansmen and 100 policemen staged a free-for-all,” in which according to one contemporary news report all the individuals arrested were wearing Klan attire, and that one of those arrestees was Donald Trump’s own father.

Has Trump disavowed his father's KKK affiliation or are his current associations just a continuation of his family's tradition? It seems fair enough to ask since it doesn't appear that his father, unlike Robert Byrd, ever apologized for his youthful membership in the Klan or unlike Byrd ever did one thing to make up for it.  And neither has his son.


It ain't just Trump

by digby

From the great state of Maine:
Gov. Paul LePage left a state lawmaker from Westbrook an expletive-laden phone message Thursday in which he accused the legislator of calling him a racist, encouraged him to make the message public and said, “I’m after you.”

LePage sent the message Thursday morning after a television reporter appeared to suggest that Democratic Rep. Drew Gattine was among several people who had called the governor a racist, which Gattine later denied. The exchange followed remarks the governor made in North Berwick on Wednesday night about the racial makeup of suspects arrested on drug trafficking charges in Maine.

“Mr. Gattine, this is Gov. Paul Richard LePage,” a recording of the governor’s phone message says. “I would like to talk to you about your comments about my being a racist, you (expletive). I want to talk to you. I want you to prove that I’m a racist. I’ve spent my life helping black people and you little son-of-a-bitch, socialist (expletive). You … I need you to, just friggin. I want you to record this and make it public because I am after you. Thank you.”

Gov. LePage’s message to Rep. Drew Gattine. Warning: This audio contains obscenities.

LePage later invited a Portland Press Herald reporter and a two-person television crew from WMTW to the Blaine House, where during a 30-minute interview the governor described his anger with Gattine and others, told them he had left the phone message and said he wished he and the lawmaker could engage in an armed duel to settle the matter.

“When a snot-nosed little guy from Westbrook calls me a racist, now I’d like him to come up here because, tell you right now, I wish it were 1825,” LePage said. “And we would have a duel, that’s how angry I am, and I would not put my gun in the air, I guarantee you, I would not be (Alexander) Hamilton. I would point it right between his eyes, because he is a snot-nosed little runt and he has not done a damn thing since he’s been in this Legislature to help move the state forward.”

Gattine is the House chair of the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee, which has opposed some of LePage’s welfare, drug enforcement and other reforms. He said the governor’s phone message was uncalled for.

“Obviously that message is upsetting, inappropriate and uncalled for,” Gattine said Thursday night. “It’s hard to believe it’s from the governor of the state of Maine, but again, we need to stay focused on the drug problem we are facing here in Maine and cannot allow this story to be about the governor’s inappropriate and vulgar behaviors.”

LePage left the message after a television reporter asked the governor what he would say to people who are calling him a racist. LePage asked who had called him that and the reporter said he had talked to Gattine, but didn’t say Gattine had called the governor a racist.

LePage then reacted, told the reporters “you make me so sick,” and stormed off.

He later called the same reporters to the Blaine House for an interview, told them he had called Gattine and said he hoped the lawmaker would make the governor’s phone message public. The Press Herald made a Freedom of Access Act request for the phone message, and Gattine provided a copy to the Press Herald around 8:50 p.m.

That was the same Governor LePage who said this, which started the whole thing:

Gov. Paul LePage on Thursday fiercely defended comments he made about race and drug dealers at a town hall meeting Wednesday in North Berwick, where he said he keeps a binder of photographs of drug dealers arrested in Maine and that more than 90 percent of them are black or Hispanic.

In a tense exchange with two reporters outside his State House office, LePage said: “Let me tell you something: Black people come up the highway and they kill Mainers. You ought to look into that!”

He's one of 50 Governors in this country. So why are people shocked that Republicans wouold nominate a white nationalist for President?


In a November ballot initiative, California voters take on Big Pharma & sky-high drug prices

by Gaius Publius

Sky-high drug prices are a scandal, but everyone knows that, even those responsible for the prices. They're also a source of enormous profit and wealth, which is the problem. The drug companies, acting alone and through their lobbying arm, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), are literally sending people to their deaths in order to drain others of a few dollars more. It would not be out of line to call this behavior murderous and psychopathic — in a Martin Shkreli sense — though most would settle for a term from economics. Something related to capitalism, perhaps.

 What drug company CEOs are doing to patients for a few dollars more (source)

Drug companies and their wealth have captured the national legislative and regulatory process and even some of the national patient advocacy groups (see below for more). How to crack the nut of deadly high drug prices and bring them down to an affordable level? Activists in California are making a very credible attempt at the state level with a November ballot initiative called the Drug Prices Relief Act, or Proposition 61.

Fran Quigley, writing in Truth-Out, first describes the scale of the problem (my emphasis throughout):
It is hard to overstate the level of dysfunction in the US medicines system. The headline-producing greed of "pharma bro" Martin Shkreli was just the most dramatic example of a pharmaceutical industry whose patent monopolies grant it immunity from market forces while its political clout shields it from government regulation. Taking full advantage of taxpayer-funded research, drug corporations make record profits, even by Fortune 500 standards, and pay their CEOs as much as $180 million a year. Those corporations spend far more on incessant marketing to consumers and physicians than they do on research -- part of the reason they have largely failed to develop new medicines that address the most deadly illnesses and diseases.

As for the patients who rely on those medicines, pharma lobbying has ensured that the US Medicare program is alone among industrialized nations' government health plans in not negotiating down the price it pays for medicines, causing US patients to pay far and away the highest global price for necessary drugs. One in every five US cancer patients can't afford to fill their prescriptions, and many seniors on Medicare are forced to cut their pills in half to stretch their supply. ...

The industry's US trade organization, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, known as PhRMA, has an annual budget exceeding $200 million, which it directs to the promotion of the image and interests of its 57 member companies. The industry's US lobbying expenses for 2015 were $238 million, and its campaign contributions have reached as high as $50.7 million in a year. That money has been well-spent.
Even those in government who say they're trying to help aren't helping:
Not that the Obama administration has always been a champion of medicine access: the Affordable Care Act enshrined a huge guaranteed market for pharmaceutical companies, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently flat-out refused to exercise its legal right to address huge corporate mark-ups on cancer medicines the NIH helped develop.
I'm shocked about the NIH not using authority it already has to provide relief. That's a good indication of the extent to which all of national government is captured by this industry.

Only the Veterans Administration, unlike Medicare, negotiates down drug prices. Medicare is forbidden by law to do so. Which makes the prices paid by the VA for prescription drugs an interesting benchmark.

Proposition 61: Marking California drug prices to the VA benchmark

In a nutshell here's what Prop 61 would do:
The initiative, recently certified by the California Secretary of State as Proposition 61, calls for state agencies to be blocked from paying more for a prescription drug than the price paid by the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Unlike the Medicare program, the VA is free to negotiate the price it pays for drugs and as a result, pays as much as 42 percent less than Medicare and usually significantly lower than state Medicaid programs. The primary force behind the ballot measure, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, says the law could save Californians hundreds of millions of dollars a year in lower government costs and lower individual co-payments.
Are you a California resident? Imagine a 42% cut in drug prices. (It's not hard to predict prescription prices falling throughout California if state agencies become the go-to source for low-cost drugs.) That alone, I think, makes Prop 61 worth your active and vigorous support. It would literally change lives, including your own.

Are you a resident of any other state with a ballot initiative option? If Prop 61 passes in California, it will be exported, perhaps to a state near you. Another reason to give Prop 61 your active and vigorous support.

Quigley's piece has much more information, including some he said-she said about whether Big Pharma is worried about this initiative passing (count on it, regardless of what they say) and whether the ballot measure will deliver the change it advertises (again, count on it, regardless of what its opponents say). I recommend reading it through if this effort interests you at all. It looks very promising to me.

I do want to leave you with one more quote from the article, however, related to those patient advocacy groups who are opposed to Prop 61.

Some patient advocacy groups are opposed; guess why

The opposition is quoting some patient advocacy groups that are opposed to the measure. For example:
While the pharmaceutical industry opposition to the measure is predictable, some patient-connected advocacy organizations have raised concerns as well. Anne Donnelly, policy director for the San Francisco-based HIV and Hepatitis C advocacy group Project Inform, has been widely quoted by the opposition campaign and in media reports questioning the wisdom of the ballot initiative. Donnelly says her group is officially neutral on the referendum and points out that Project Inform supports a drug price transparency bill that is pending at the California state legislature. "We are supportive of the goal of lowering drug prices, but the drug pricing system is so complex that I am not sure this simplistic (ballot) measure is the best approach," she said in an interview.
Project Inform's lack of support was highlighted in a July New York Times article on the referendum. But the referendum's supporters have in turn questioned Project Inform's motivations, noting that the organization -- like many patient advocacy groups -- is funded in significant part by pharmaceutical company donations. "When you look at who is speaking out against the initiative, you have to ask what it is in it for them," says Burger of the CNA. Donnelly confirms that industry donations make up between 20-36 percent of Project Inform's budget, but says the organization takes precautions to ensure that the industry does not influence its positions.
Money doesn't talk, it swears. Or so I hear. Though maybe Ms. Donnelly hears it sing a different tune.

(A version of this piece appeared at Down With Tyranny. GP article archive here.)



I shot a campaign in Reno

by Tom Sullivan

... just to watch it die.

Hillary Clinton's killer instinct made an appearance in Reno, Nevada yesterday, writes Michelle Goldberg at Slate:

We hadn’t seen this Hillary in a while. She stayed under wraps during the Democratic primary, never seriously going after Bernie Sanders. But the killer in Hillary came out on Thursday, delivering a devastating indictment of Donald Trump’s associations with the far-right fringe, one meant to permanently delegitimize him among decent people.
The assault that began with the release a Clinton ad tying Trump to the KKK and followed up with an unheralded speech tying Trump securely to the emerging alt-right. It was a speech aimed at "sinking Trump but sending lifeboats for Republicans," William Saletan explained:
Twenty seconds into her attack, Clinton sent her first conciliatory signal. Trump’s “divisive rhetoric,” she said, was “like nothing we’ve heard before from a nominee for president of the United States from one of our two major parties.” Many liberals would disagree. They think Trump has made explicit the racism to which other Republicans have appealed indirectly through attacks on figures such as Jeremiah Wright or Willie Horton. Clinton, who began life as a Republican, chooses not to see it—or at least put it—that way.
But she means to govern, he writes, and she'll have to work with her rivals. So no scorched earth.

Clinton said of Trump's vivid history:
Through it all, he has continued pushing discredited conspiracy theories with racist undertones.

Trump said thousands of American Muslims in New Jersey cheered the 9/11 attacks. They didn’t.

He suggested that Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the Kennedy assassination. Perhaps in Trump’s mind, because he was a Cuban immigrant, he must have had something to do with it. Of course there’s absolutely no evidence of that.

Just recently, Trump claimed President Obama founded ISIS. And then he repeated that nonsense over and over.

His latest paranoid fever dream is about my health. All I can say is, Donald, dream on.

This is what happens when you treat the National Enquirer like Gospel.
Jamelle Bouie writes of the speech:
As strategy, however, Clinton’s approach is shrewd. She could tie the entire GOP to Trump, but at the risk of embattling Republican voters and activating a tribal loyalty to the party. By distancing Trump from the Republican mainstream, she offers those voters another choice: You can vote for me, or if that’s too much, you can just not vote at all. Either way, Trump’s margin shrinks. And if those voters decide to abandon the polls in November, it could bolster Democrats even further as they try to take the House and Senate back from the Republican Party.
Bouie asks the obvious question: "Why couldn’t Republican leaders say this when they had the chance?"

Chances are that was a rhetorical question.

Clinton said yesterday, "This is a moment of reckoning for every Republican dismayed that the Party of Lincoln has become the Party of Trump." Her effort to take out Trump without killing off the Republican Party with him will not buy her much grace from rivals who have spent their political careers trying to end hers. But leaving a defeated adversary a way to retreat can reduce the carnage in a country Hillary Clinton hopes to govern starting in January.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Trust the rich white man

by digby

That dumb Barack Hussein Obama didn't know what he was doing. "Mr Trump" (and you will call him Mr Trump) will "fix it."

How? Well, he plans to unleash the police on your communities:
They're right now not tough. I could tell you this very long and quite boring story. But when I was in Chicago, I got to meet a couple of very top police. I said, 'How do you stop this? How do you stop this? If you were put in charge — to a specific person — do you think you could stop it?' He said, 'Mr. Trump, I'd be able to stop it in one week.' And I believed him 100 percent," Trump said.

When O'Reilly asked whether the unnamed officer told him how, Trump said: "No, he wants to use tough police tactics, which is OK when you have people being killed."
Trump believes in authoritarian power above all else. That's the essence of who he is. If anyone thinks otherwise, they are mistaken.

QOTD: A yuuuuge Trump fan

by digby

He's still her man:
My worship for him is like the people of North Korea worship their Dear Leader --- blind loyalty. Once he gave that Mexican rapist speech, I'll walk across glass for him. That's basically it.  Unlike the crazy Cruz supporters, I'll criticize him, and I have, but it's all minor stylistic stuff. We all want to shoot him at various times.--- Ann Coulter 8/24/16
I'm pretty sure most of his followers agree with that. When he went after the Mexicans and the Muslims they fell in love.  The promise of "law and order" (if you know what I mean) sealed the deal.

Update: On the other hand, TPM reports that Coulter is fit to be tied. Sad!
He always said he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and not lose any supporters

by digby

And he was right:
“He’s calmed it down, a little bit, but he’s still going,” said Buffington, 75, who attended Trump’s campaign rally here Wednesday afternoon. “He’s still going to build the wall.”

Her daughter agreed.

“That’s the most important thing,” said Krista Kosier, 51. “He’s still going to build the wall. He’s still going to get rid of the murderers and rapists and those wreaking havoc in our country.”

“He always said that as he got closer to November he’d get into more details. Now we’re seeing that,” said Ahava Van Camp, who attended the Tampa rally with her husband, Tom, and Bevo, their Maltese-poodle mix, who sat in a purple push cart. “It’s not a pivot. He’s on second base and getting closer to home.”

“These existing laws — which can be enforced — will do the same thing” as Trump has been calling for, Tom Van Camp said. “It’ll still kick people out.”

“Starting with the dangerous folks is smart,” he added. “It’s not going to be easy. In fact, I predict it’ll take the full length of his first term to get it done.”
These folks are locked in. But then that's not what this is about. He needs to persuade some new voters that the Republican Party can control him. Whether this "pivot" will seem persuasive to them is still unknown.
Giuliani time

by digby

You can't say he didn't ask for this.  From the Washington Post editorial board:
WE ARE a little worried about Rudy Giuliani, the Republican former mayor of New York. Is “America’s mayor” okay? 
During his 15-minute speech at the GOP convention last month in Cleveland, it was notable that when he said Donald Trump loves “all people, from the top to the bottom,” Mr. Giuliani animatedly gestured toward his knees as he said “top,” and above his head as he said “bottom.” Also, why did he say that he and his wife, Judith, have been friends with Mr. Trump for 30 years, though he met his wife in 1999, only 17 years ago? 
Also — we’re noting this purely out of concern — during his speech he often licked his lips, indicating dry mouth, which, according to the Mayo Clinic, can be a symptom of nerve damage, stroke or Alzheimer’s disease. At the end of his address, beads of sweat were visible on his pate — did that not suggest heart disease? 
Mr. Giuliani is just 72, but he seemed slightly stooped as he walked to the lectern, where his wide stance made us wonder if he’s unsteady on his feet. Then there was his slurred diction, as when he referred to “jushtified” police shootings and Syrian “refyoongees.” More evidence of a stroke?
They're tweaking him rather gently actually. He's been vicious with this rumor mongering and he deserves worse. But it's a start.

This piece by Kurt Eichenwald in Newsweek about the health controversy is well worth reading:

On July 28, 2015, the Clinton campaign released a typical medical letter from an internist, whom she has seen since 2001—Lisa Bardack, director of internal medicine, Mount Sinai Health System at CareMount Medical. The letter is a typical medical history, and begins with the usual summary of a full physical, calling her a “healthy 67-year-old female.” It lists medical issues and the findings of testing. The tests, it says, were negative, meaning they showed no problems. To use the medical terminology, it is an unremarkable document.

On December 4, 2015, the Trump campaign released…something.

It purports to be a medical letter, but it is one of the most ridiculous documents ever to emerge in any political campaign. First, the letterhead is in the same font as the letter, which appears to have been created using Microsoft Word. The signature from the doctor is several inches past the signature line—the result you might get if the document had been signed as a blank and filled in later. The letterhead includes a Gmail address—something doctors tell me is extremely unusual, since doctors do not want patients contacting them directly by email as a substitute for scheduling an appointment.

There is also a website listed, but if you follow the URL (haroldbornsteinmd.com), sometimes it takes you to cdn.freefarcy.com, a blank page that asks if you want to upload an update to a Flash program onto your computer (the domain name, freefarcy.com, is still for sale. No, I can’t explain that.) If you decline, it does so anyway and, based on the response of the security system on my computer, the “program” on the doctor’s supposed website is a virus. (Other times it takes you to a generic medical website. No, I can't explain that either.)

Then, there is the doctor who allegedly signed this document. His name is Harold N. Bornstein, and he is a gastroenterologist. This kind of physician is a specialist who treats the digestive tract. This is not an internist, who is trained specifically in providing full histories and physicals of patients. The letter signed by Dr. Bornstein, who did not return an email from Newsweek seeking comment, says that he has treated Trump since 1980. However, it mentions no history of the gastrointestinal problem that led the Republican candidate for president to seek out his help. In fact, the letter says Trump has had no significant medical problems. So why has he been seeing a gastroenterologist for over 35 years?

Unlike the Clinton letter, it does not contain a full medical history for Trump. The letter also has problems with sentence structure and major typographical errors, such as the opening line, “To Whom My Concern.” Most amusing, it says that his medical examination of Trump has “only positive results.” In medical terms, if the test is positive, it confirms the existence of disease. Is this doctor saying Trump has every medical ailment that could be found in examination? Does he not know the meaning of the word? Or, as I suspect, was the letter written by someone in the Trump campaign?

Anyone reading the letter can make a good guess about who that person might be.
Of course it was Trump. Who else talks like that?

Tells it like it is

by digby

Just this:


American white nationalism isn't isolationist #USA!USA!USA!

by digby

I wrote about the Alt-right for Salon today. It's not exactly the same as European ethno-nationalism. It's scarier:

After months of squabbling about whether it's acceptable to use the "F" word (fascism) it seems at long last that we have come to some kind of consensus about what to call Donald Trump's "philosophy": Alt-Right, also known as white nationalism. With the hiring of the former chief of Breitbart media, ground zero for the Alt-right movement, as Trump' campaign chairman, the interest in it has now gone mainstream. Hillary Clinton will be making a speech about it later today.

Alt-right white nationalism is an apt term for a campaign that has electrified white supremacists so it makes sense that most people would focus on the racial angle. According to this analysis in the Guardian, the rising right wing ethno-nationalist movement in Europe is the progenitor of this American version, which adheres to its basic premise but brings its own special brand of deep-fried racism. Both share a belief that the white race is under siege and that "demands for diversity in the workplace which means less white males in particular forms the foundation for the movement." So it stands to reason that Trump's border wall, Muslim ban and bellicose appeals for "law and order" (along with his overt misogyny) is a clarion call to this faction.

But while it's obvious that the subtle and not-so-subtle racial messaging are among the primary attractions for Trump voters, they are also responding to an economic appeal, much of which stems from the misconception that because Trump himself is a successful businessman he must know what he's doing. But as Dave Johnson of Campaign for America's Future pointed out, many of the white working class folk who believe Trump's promises to "bring back jobs" would be surprised to know what he actually means by that:
Trump says the U.S. is not "competitive" with other countries. He has said repeatedly we need to lower American wages, taxes and regulations to the point where we can be "competitive" with Mexico and China. In other words, he is saying that business won't send jobs out of the country if we can make wages low enough here.
His "plan" is to compete by pitting states against each other to lower wages, particularly by encouraging businesses to move to low-wage anti-union states. Once the lay-offs start, workers will be willing to take big pay cuts to keep their jobs. Johnson shows how Trump believes "companies should continue this in a 'rotation' of wage cuts, state to state, until you go 'full-circle,' getting wages low enough across the entire country. Then the U.S. will be 'competitive' with China and Mexico.

So this white nationalist "populist" economic appeal is less than meets the eye. In that regard Trump is just another "cuck-servative" (you can look it up) who thinks he can fool the rubes into making people like him even richer than they already are. But all that is subsumed in Trump's message of white grievance and American decline.

One of the most important characteristics of this faction is a strong attraction to authoritarianism. This fascinating report at Vox by Amanda Taub tracked studies which show that "more than 65 percent of people who scored highest on the authoritarianism questions were GOP voters and more than 55 percent of surveyed Republicans scored as "high" or "very high" authoritarians."
Authoritarians, we found in our survey, tend to most fear threats that come from abroad, such as ISIS or Russia or Iran. These are threats, the researchers point out, to which people can put a face; a scary terrorist or an Iranian ayatollah
That fear is also something the American alt-right has in common with their European cousins, but I see it having a different effect here. In Europe the desire truly is for a withdrawal from external obligations and dismantling the institutions that have blurred national identity and political independence. They are afraid of mass immigration from the Middle East in the age of terrorism and the economic crisis emboldened the usual European suspects. So some observers are tempted to believe that Trump's invocation of the old isolationist slogan "America First" will likewise result in a pull-back of American global empire. But a closer look at Trump's rhetoric shows that he has a much different worldview and so do his followers.

Look at his slogan: "Make America Great Again." Implicit in those four words is the idea of America dominating the planet as it did after World War II. Of course, it still does, but in Trump's mind, America has become a weak and struggling nation hardly able to keep up with countries like Mexico. He believes other countries are laughing at us and treating us disrespectfully, which has had him seething for over 30 years. Back then it was Japan "cuckolding" America. Today it's China and Mexico, both of which he promises to sanction for failing to properly "respect" America --- with a thinly veiled violent threat backing it up. After all, trade wars have often led to shooting wars.

American nationalism cannot be separated from its status as the world's only superpower. Trump  promises to build up the American military to the most massive force in history (of course, it already is) so that "nobody will mess with us ever again." He doesn't say that America should pull back from its security guarantees, merely that it should require other nations to pay more for the protection. He doesn't take nuclear war off the table, one can assume for the reason that it's a cheaper, quicker way to "take care of" problems than these relatively smaller wars we've waged since the world burned in the two epic conflagrations of the 20th century. His nationalism is all about domination not withdrawal.

And that view is shared by the American alt-right. Here's one Breitbart writer making the case:
I’d like an America that makes 7 “Fast & Furious” movies without making concessions to Ayatollah Khamenei. I’d like an America that humiliates the likes of Vladimir Putin, not vice-versa. An America that punches back eight times as hard over a tiny offense. An America that everyone might laugh at but ultimately stop attacking because it can only end poorly for them.
Trump's nationalism is absolutely about ethno-purity and there's an element of populism as well, although it's clearly a misdirection. But it's largely about wounded national pride which has been a potent motivating force on the American right for a very long time. There's a reason Trump is now playing  the conservative anthem "Proud To Be An American" at his rallies. Good old fashioned jingoism is the one thing that brings the old right, the new right and the alt-right together.


The Adventures of the Tom Sawyer Economy

by Tom Sullivan

Tom Sawyer's Fence marker, Hannibal, Missouri.
Photo by Jimmy Emerson, DVM via Flickr/Creative Commons 2.0.

Leaving environmental damage for taxpayers to clean up is not the only way large companies externalize costs Forbes reported in 2014:

Walmart’s low-wage workers cost U.S. taxpayers an estimated $6.2 billion in public assistance including food stamps, Medicaid and subsidized housing, according to a report published to coincide with Tax Day, April 15.

Americans for Tax Fairness, a coalition of 400 national and state-level progressive groups, made this estimate using data from a 2013 study by Democratic Staff of the U.S. Committee on Education and the Workforce.

“The study estimated the cost to Wisconsin’s taxpayers of Walmart’s low wages and benefits, which often force workers to rely on various public assistance programs,” reads the report, available in full here.

“It found that a single Walmart Supercenter cost taxpayers between $904,542 and $1.75 million per year, or between $3,015 and $5,815 on average for each of 300 workers.”
But you knew that.

Now the company has found another way to keep profits up: by externalizing the cost of theft prevention. As a result, in Tulsa, Oklahoma and other Walmarts across the country stores are experiencing a crime wave. Shannon Pettypiece and David Voreacos write at Bloomberg Businessweek: Walmart’s Out-of-Control Crime Problem Is Driving Police Crazy. Tulsa PD's Darrell Ross spends so much time there he's known as Officer Walmart:
It’s not unusual for the department to send a van to transport all the criminals Ross arrests at this Walmart. The call log on the store stretches 126 pages, documenting more than 5,000 trips over the past five years. Last year police were called to the store and three other Tulsa Walmarts just under 2,000 times. By comparison, they were called to the city’s four Target stores about 300 times. Most of the calls to the northeast Supercenter were for shoplifting, but there’s no shortage of more serious crimes, including five armed robberies so far this year, a murder suspect who killed himself with a gunshot to the head in the parking lot last year, and, in 2014, a group of men who got into a parking lot shootout that killed one and seriously injured two others.
Pettypiece explained the situation last night to NPR All Things Considered host Robert Siegel:
SIEGEL: Why? Why is this happening now?

PETTYPIECE: Part of it is just the very nature of Wal-Mart. It's big. It's everywhere. It has millions of customers go in there every day. But another element of it is decisions that the company has made to cut costs over the past decade or more.

They've trimmed the number of employees they have in their stores. They've taken more of a reactive rather than a preventative approach to shoplifting and stopping crime. And to criminals, that all sends a message. No one's watching. No one cares, and no one's likely to catch you. And it's sort of become, like, the wild, wild West for criminals in their stores.

SIEGEL: For your article in Bloomberg Businessweek, you did a comparison between Wal-Marts and Target stores in Tulsa. And there's a real difference you found.

PETTYPIECE: The Targets get a fraction. In Tulsa, the four Wal-Mart stores last year got just under 2,000 calls. Target - their four stores got 300 calls. And it's difficult to explain that. I mean I talked to some shoplifters while I was there. They only steal from Wal-Mart.

I remember asking one young woman, well, why'd you steal from Wal-Mart? Why not the mall? Why not Target? It was like it never crossed her mind to steal from anywhere other than Wal-Mart. She just felt like it was easy to get away with there.
Police Pettypiece and Voreacos spoke with are sick of it:
“The constant calls from Walmart are just draining,” says Bill Ferguson, a police captain in Port Richey, Fla. “They recognize the problem and refuse to do anything about it.”
Pettypiece told NPR:
PETTYPIECE: Wal-Mart says they're trying to do things like put more employees at the door. They've been trying to invest in theft prevention technology, devices they can put on merchandise or more, you know, visible security monitors. The police complaint is that they're not moving fast enough, and they're not moving far enough.

And I talked to one retail analyst who thinks Wal-Mart needs to add an extra quarter million part-time employees in its stores to really have the employee presence out on the floor that would deter theft. And for Wal-Mart, that's going to cost them billions of dollars to fix this problem like some people would like to see.
But it's better for their bottom line to externalize the cost of store security and let taxpayers pay it. It's a Tom Sawyer economy. We pay for them to conduct their business.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

QOTD: Generalissimo Trump

by digby

Trump today:
We're going to end the corruption. Hillary Clinton ran the State Department like a failed leader in a third world country. It's run like a third world country. She sold favors and and access in exchange for cash. She sold it. She sold favors. She sold access. And wait til you see what it's revealed!
 Audience goes into  frenzy:

There's nothing third world, banana republic about putting your political rivals in jail. Not a thing. Why do you ask?


Joe Scar goes through the change

by digby

I can hardly believe anyone would bother to write this story but they did and now I can't unread it. So you have to suffer too:

The band began playing at 8:30 sharp—the exact call time for the evening’s gig—a punctiliousness perhaps less rock ‘n’ roll cool than cable-news precise. Its front man, after all, was Joe Scarborough, the 53-year-old host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, and the band, naturally, goes by the name Morning Joe Music. The players—a group of talented, scruffy-looking guys in jeans—formed a constellation around Scarborough not unlike Willie Geist, Mike Barnicle, and Donny Deutsch do on-air every morning. They all had something to add, but mostly, they existed to orbit Scarborough, who has arguably become the most influential Republican in America during this election season. Scarborough, who has known Donald Trump for years, was among the first in the media to presage his mind-boggling rise—and one of the most consequential conservatives to rebuke him. But this evening was not intended as political theater. A few minutes after 8:30, a wall of sound filled the room: two backup singers ooh-ed and ahh-ed, two horn players blared high notes in harmony, and a keyboardist who sounded faintly like Rufus Wainwright all backed up Scarborough on the vocals of a song he had written himself.

Mika Brzezinski, Scarborough’s morning show co-host, was perched on the edge of her seat in a booth just offstage, toggling an iPhone, a Chanel shopper, and a drinks menu as she sang along to every word of the song and waved her fists to the beat. She ordered a bottle of wine for the table and texted friends in order to get them to stop by. She was, all at once, an inspiring combination of groupie, hostess, and dutiful colleague. And maybe a little rock star, too, in jeans and black sunglasses resting atop her white-blonde hair.

Brzezinski, who is 49, was joined in the booth by her brother and sister-in-law and niece. The big, boisterous Morning Joe family often show up to Scarborough’s gigs, too, but it was deep summer and neither Geist nor Barnicle were there. The room was still star-studded. Deutsch made an appearance. André Leon Talley, the fashion eminence and Vogue contributing editor, sat beside Brzezinski in a burnt-orange custom Tom Ford caftan of sorts. The real show, however, was onstage. When the saxophonist broke into a solo, Scarborough got on bended knee, candy-red guitar resting on his khakis, and tipped his head in reverence, perhaps an allusion to Springsteen nodding at Big Man during the E Street Band’s glory days.

The song ended, and Scarborough once again grabbed the microphone. “Now this is a special night,” he told the audience. “The band, we’ve been together since, what? 1947?” The “aren’t we so old?” age joke played well with the crowd. Scarborough knows his demo. “But tonight’s our big break because we have a star here, and her name is Mika Brzezinski.”

Read on.  Oh boy ...

Here's Joe's band. So fresh and exciting:

Dudes sitting around talking

by digby

Fox News:

Sadly, before too long, Fox's sexist ethos is going to seem as quaint as a 50s sitcom. What's coming is something much, much worse.

Leslie Jones ... oh man

by digby

This is just the worst story ever. Amanda Marcotte:
Even for someone who has been researching and writing about misogyny for over a decade, it is hard to comprehend the level of obsessive hate that had to go into the attack on actress Leslie Jones. The 48-year-old comedian and actress became a big star over the summer, with her breakout role in “Ghostbusters” and her public stint as America’s funniest Olympics enthusiast.

But to the racist, misogynist internet, just letting Jones and her fans enjoy this moment could not stand. You see, Jones is black, female, and middle-aged, and therefore, in their eyes, she must be punished and humiliated for her success. On Wednesday, hackers attacked Jones’s website, replacing her regular content with stolen nude photos, private information, and racist gorilla imagery.

This comes on top of a summer-long campaign of Twitter harassment that was so vile that it drove Jones off Twitter, forcing the company — which is notoriously reluctant to do much about internet harassment — to actually take measures to stem the tide of abuse.

It is tempting, of course, to write off the attacks on Jones as the work of a few bad apples, an unfortunate artifact of an internet that allows a small number of people to get a lot of attention simply by being the absolute worst. I personally wish that were the case.

But this story goes straight back to the presidential race. You see, one of the main reasons that Jones is a favorite target of the worst people on the internet is because she was chosen as one by Milo Yiannopoulos, a writer and editor at Breitbart. He spent so much time and effort riling up the rats against her that it got him suspended permanently by Twitter, in fact. And Yiannopoulos’s boss Stephen Bannon now runs the Donald Trump campaign.

Make no mistake: Yiannopoulos got his job at Breitbart not despite, but because of his skills at whipping up the sociopathic internet into a frenzy of resentment at even the hint that they might have to share the world with women and people of color.

Under Bannon, Yiannopoulos was brought on to be the editor of their supposed “tech” vertical, even though there’s no evidence that he knows much about tech and despite his history of bashing video game players.

Yiannopoulos got his gig after doing the yeoman’s work of riling up basement dwellers on Twitter, cheerleading a phenomenon known as “Gamergate,” when a bunch of misogynists ran around the internet attacking female gamers for the crimes of being critical of sexism in video games or believing they have a right to break up with a dude if they want to. His real talent is mining the resentments of reactionary losers, and encouraging them to bash any women, especially women of color, whose success reminds them of what losers they really are.

There's more. This level of sociopathic hate is just ... scary.

And it's gone mainstream.


"Uncucked and hellbent"

by digby

I notice the oh-so-jaded media is pooh-poohing the Clinton campaign's drawing attention to the Alt-Right because in their minds some insider byzantine appearances of appearance of conflicts of interest that didn't have any conflict is so much more relevant.

It isn't. The Alt-Right is the biggest political development in America in a very long time. It has transformed the Republican party, produced the Trump candidacy and is changing our politics. And it's a global phenomenon.

Here's an entertaining intro brought to you by American Renaissance, a white supremacist organization:

He can run but he can't hide (from his racism)

by digby

I wrote about Trump's "outreach pivot" for Salon this morning:

From the beginning of his candidacy Donald Trump has been wildly attractive to the white supremacist faction of the far right. He had groups like the white supremacist American National Super PAC running robo-calls throughout the primaries. There was more than one avowed white supremacist named as a Trump delegate to the Republican convention.  Former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke enthusiastically endorsed him and Trump didn't exactly rush to distance himself from it. The icing on the cake was the recent hiring of Steve Bannon, the Alt-right former chief executive of Breitbart media which was a clear indication of Trump's white nationalist bona fides.

This is not surprising since Trump began his campaign with a crusade against Latino immigrants, tagging them as killers and rapists in his announcement speech. His most popular policy always provokes the chant "build that wall, build that wall!" at his rallies. And his undocumented immigrant deportation plans and ban on Muslims were energetically applauded by his most fervent white supremacist followers.

He has, perhaps surprisingly, been a bit more subtle with his anti-semitism and straight up racism against African Americans by employing more of the standard right wing dogwhistles in those cases, tweeting out racist crime statistics and pictures of money overlaid with a Star of David, for instance. But ironically, to his white supremacist fans all the overt nativism and xenophobia serves as a dogwhistle to them, signaling his solidarity when it comes to blacks and Jews. And he is, of course, King of the Birthers.

I've written before about Trump's authoritarian racist tendencies. Dragging out Nixon's old law and order trope wasn't an accident. Whether most of his followers understood what it was, as opposed to an allusion to the long running TV show, is unknown. But he remembered it from his youth and Trump developed his entire worldview during that period and has never revisited it since.

One of his most famous acts as a public citizen took place back in the 1980s when he place a full page ad calling for the death penalty for what was known at the time as the Central Park Five for a crime we later found out they did not commit. Just two years ago he wrote an op-ed when a settlement was reached with the wrongfully convicted men and he showed no remorse for his rush to judgment or the fact that he had called for the death penalty, suspension of civil rights and more police power:
Forty million dollars is a lot of money for the taxpayers of New York to pay when we are already the highest taxed city and state in the country. The recipients must be laughing out loud at the stupidity of the city.
Speak to the detectives on the case and try listening to the facts. These young men do not exactly have the pasts of angels
As far as Trump is concerned, the world has not changed since he was a young man living in New York in an era of very high crime. Rick Perlstein memorably wrote about this a few months back, in which he noted that Trump's appeal stemmed from a very specific conservative archetype that came from America's urban dark side: the avenging angel.  He discusses Trump's father's apparent affiliation with the Klan and Trump's own run ins with the Department of justice over the family business's refusal to rent to welfare recipients (which he presciently described as "reverse discrimination.") This was the era of vigilante movies like "Death Wish" --- which Trump has had his audiences chant in unison during this campaign --- and "Taxi Driver" stories which Perlstein aptly places in the annals of conservatism as:
"[T]he conservatism of avenging angels protecting white innocence in a  “liberal” metropolis gone mad: this is New York City’s unique contribution to the history of conservatism in America, an ideological tradition heretofore unrecognized in the historical literature."
This is the comic book conservatism of the Alt-Right and Donald Trump.  And he's alluded to it plenty of times during the campaign, often expressing the view that the police must be allowed to take the gloves off and calling himself the "law and order candidate."

The racial aspect of his paranoid fantasy of a dystopian urban landscape is obvious. One of the clearest illustrations of that took place a few months back during an interview with the New York Times editorial board:
'What’s the most dangerous place in the world you’ve been to?' 
He contemplated this for a second. 'Brooklyn,' he said, laughing. 'No,' he went on, “there are places in America that are among the most dangerous in the world. You go to places like Oakland. Or Ferguson. The crime numbers are worse. Seriously.'
It shouldn't be surprising then that his "African American outreach" on Monday night (before an all white audience) consisted of a description of the lives of African Americans as "poverty, rejection, horrible education, no housing, no homes, no ownership, crime at levels that nobody’s seen. You can go to war zones in countries that we’re fighting and it’s safer than living in some of our inner cities. What the hell do you have to lose? Give me a chance. I’ll straighten it out. I’ll straighten it out.”

With his history, it's fair to say that's exactly what African Americans, Hispanics and Muslims are afraid of. But then, despite what much of the mainstream media is reporting, Trump isn't really making this pitch to appeal to people of color. And when he "softens" his immigration policy it won't be to appeal to Latinos. He's appealing to the white Republicans, particularly women, who are repulsed by him.

Will it work? Who knows. But it won't change the fact that Trump has held racist views for a very long time and has not shown the slightest ability to evolve or change in even the slightest ways for over 40 years. He hasn't even changed his hairstyle since 1975. Donald Trump today is exactly the same man who wrote that full page ad in which he said, "civil liberties end when an attack on our safety begins!" Racial, ethnic and religious minorities know exactly what that means.

Oh snap, Rudy!

by digby

Colbert takes care of Giuliani:

He's the first one to diagnose Clinton's health problem correctly: “chronic no-penis. It’s congenital. Every woman in her family has had the same thing.”

It's a very debilitating disease. Maybe some day we'll find a cure.


Grifters gonna grift

by Tom Sullivan

John Oliver's Last Week Tonight back-to-school segment on charter schools Sunday was a welcome window into the world of education "reform" grifters. (I just found time to watch it last night.) Griftopia, as Matt Taibbi defined it:

There really are two Americas, one for the grifter class and one for everybody else. In everybody-else land, the world of small businesses and wage-earning employees, the government is something to be avoided, an overwhelming, all-powerful entity whose attentions usually presage some kind of financial setback, if not complete ruin. In the grifter world, however, government is a slavish lapdog that the financial companies that will be the major players in this book use as a tool for making money.
Only Taibbi's focus on financial firms was a bit narrow. That grifter philosophy has traveled far beyond Wall Street. Corruption has trickled down.

Anyone who has been reading my posts already knows what a con I think the charter school industry is. Still, it was gratifying to see Oliver give it the prime-time mistreatment it deserves.*

Ryan Reed at Rolling Stone writes:
"Charters are basically public schools that are taxpayer-funded but privately run," Oliver explained. "The first ones emerged 25 years ago as places to experiment with new educational approaches." Today, over 6,700 charter schools educate nearly 3 million students. But many of these institutions fail at an alarming rate: In 2014, Naples Daily News found that, since 2008, 119 charter schools had closed in Florida – 14 of which didn't finish their first year.

Oliver focused much of his attention on Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio, three states with especially depressing charter track records – including negligence in the approval process and school executives embezzling funds.
I wrote in 2011:
The impulse among conservatives to privatize everything involving public expenditures – schools included – is no longer just about shrinking government, lowering their taxes and eliminating funding sources for their political competitors. Now it’s about their opportunity costs, potential profits lost to not-for-profit public-sector competitors. It’s bad enough that government “picks their pockets” to educate other people’s children. But it’s unforgivable that they’re not getting a piece of the action. Now they want to turn public education into private profits too.
Aside from the happy talk about experimentation and free-market competition (you may genuflect now), the smokescreen that obscures some of the worst results of lax oversight is the notion that these schools run as non-profits. But nonprofit doesn't mean no cash flow. Oliver points out (and this is not unique) how the president of the Richard Allen charter chain in Ohio contracted oversight of its schools to a nonprofit she founded and who contracted $1 million in management and consulting firms she also founded.

That is, some nonprofit charter schools operate with tax money the way Donald Trump funnels campaign expenditures back into his family-run businesses. Nearly a fifth of what the campaign spent in May, according to the New York Times.

* For the sake of the few good, parent-organized and community run charters out there, I make a distinction between charter schools and the charter school movement or industry. Oliver sets aside discussion of whether charters are a good idea in principle to examine how they operate in fact.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Yes, he's a bigot

by digby

I caught this exchange last night and it was epic:

Via Mother Jones:

Donald Trump is a bigot, there's no other way to get around it," Blow said. "Anybody who accepts that, supports it. Anybody supports it is promoting it and that makes you a part of the bigotry itself. You have to decide whether or not you want to be part of the bigotry that is Donald Trump. You have to decide whether you want to be part of the sexism and misogyny that is Donald Trump."

Levell responded by accusing Hillary Clinton's campaign of creating the "false facade" that Trump is a racist.

"I'm not part of the Clinton campaign," Blow interjected. "I'm a black man in America and I know a bigot when I see a bigot."
This is where we are people

by digby

I think I'm going to puke:

ROGER STONE: I think she’s a Saudi asset. The media keeps saying her mother’s a prominent feminist. No. Her mother's a prominent advocate for genital mutilation. She has written extensively about genital mutilation.

ALEX JONES: Did Huma have her genitals cut off?

STONE: That I cannot tell you. But what I can tell you is --

JONES: I mean it's fair, I don't mean that to be crass!

Trump has been mainlining Jones and Stone's garbage for years, starting with the birther bullshit.

He's right in there with him. This is as low as it gets.

Note that they also call Chelsea Clinton Webb Hubbel's daughter.


The "sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult"

by digby

Bill O'Reilly famously once settled a massive sexual harassment claim, the details of which made it into the mainstream. It didn't hurt his career at Fox (and now we know why.) But you would have thought he'd have kept his sexual thoughts about female co-workers to himself after that. Apparently not.
[C]ommencing in February 2016, Bill O’Reilly (“O’Reilly”), whom Tantaros had considered to be a good friend and a person from whom she sought career guidance, started sexually harassing her by, inter alia, (a) asking her to come to stay with him on Long Island where it would be “very private,” and (b) telling her on more than one occasion that he could “see [her] as a wild girl,” and that he believed that she had a “wild side.” Fox News did take one action: plainly because of O’Reilly’s rumored prior sexual harassment issues and in recognition of Tantaros’s complaints, Brandi informed Cane that Tantaros would no longer be appearing on O’Reilly’s Fox News show, The O’Reilly Factor.
That's from former Fox personality Andrea Tantaros's sexual harassment complaint against the network. It's ugly. O'Reilly, of course, is the second big name in her suit. The first is Roger Ailes, of course. She also claims that the new head honcho, Bill Shine was aware and told her to keep her mouth shut.

She describes the place this way:
“Fox News masquerades as defender of traditional family values, but behind the scenes, it operates like a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency, and misogyny.”
You know, this is not surprising to most women.  It comes through loud and clear to me anyway. I worked in Hollywood for many years and this was ... the way it worked. I think many workplaces have changed, particularly as women have ascended into positions of power. Clearly not all, however. In fact, I'd guess it's still more common than you'd think.

Ailes took it to a twisted level far beyond anything I ever saw, however.

Those Syrian refugees have ruined everything

by digby

Eric "the spare" Trump:
“I mean, they should come first. You were born in this country. You were born here legally. You’re here legally. I mean, wages have been stagnant for the last 15 years and it’s because you have, you know, Syrian refugees coming in. It’s because you have, you know, thousands of people coming over the border. I mean, and Americans are suffering because of it and that’s his point.”
Jason Linkins at Huffington Post does the tedious work of refuting that daft on its face statement:
[W]age stagnation is not something that started 15 years ago, despite what Eric Trump thinks. Rather, as the Economic Policy Institute notes, it’s been a going concern for about four decades now. But we’ve not had masses of Syrian refugees coming to this country for 15 years, either. The Syrian refugee crisis has only heated up since the Syrian civil war began in 2011. During that time, the United States has endeavored to provide refuge for Syrians fleeing certain death. But of the some 5 million Syrians who have left their country, very few have made it to these shores... 
“Syrian refugees have contributed to decades of stagnant wages” is a new one. (To be honest, the Trump campaign criticizing the lack of wage growth is a new one, as well.) Suffice it to say, as the Economic Policy Institute points out, “wage stagnation is largely the result of policy choices that boosted the bargaining power of those with the most wealth and power,” and that “better policy choices, made with low- and moderate-wage earners in mind, can lead to more widespread wage growth and strengthen and expand the middle class.”

If a politician has “better policy choices” in mind, they will say so. Otherwise, they will blame immigrants and foreigners.

Trump's going to teach them all a lesson. And they're not going to "mess with America" ever again. Believe me.

Whither the movement?

by digby

I wrote about the sad state of the conservative movement as we've known it for Salon this morning:

One of the more interesting story lines of this election season has been watching the conservative movement we've known for more than 50 years try to figure out what to do about Trump voters who seems to be coming from a very different direction. Through the primaries we anticipated that we'd see traditional battle lines forming as the establishment types like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio faced off against the movement doctrinaire right winger Ted Cruz who was the perfect avatar of movement conservatism. Trump completely shuffled the deck, drawing his support from a large subset of Republicans who had formed themselves into a new faction.

The establishment and the movement engaged in an elaborate kabuki dance for many years which had them working together to elect Republicans while allowing the movement leaders to maintain plausible deniability when someone such as George W. Bush runs into trouble when conservative governance failed (as it usually does.) Conservatism can never fail, it can only be failed.  And they don't mind losing as much as you might think. It can be very good for business. This quote from movement leader Richard Viguerie says it all:
Sometimes a loss for the Republican Party is a gain for conservatives. Often, a little taste of liberal Democrats in power is enough to remind the voters what they don’t like about liberal Democrats and to focus the minds of Republicans on the principles that really matter. That’s why the conservative movement has grown fastest during those periods when things seemed darkest, such as during the Carter administration and the first two years of the Clinton White House. 
Conservatives are, by nature, insurgents, and it’s hard to maintain an insurgency when your friends, or people you thought were your friends, are in power.
Modern conservative movement philosophy was laid out back in the 50s and 60s with books and articles by the original generation of intellectuals and activists such as Phyllis Schlafly whose book "A Choice Not an Echo" was a seminal volume that informed the right for decades. It spelled out the ideology of small government, martial patriotism, "freedom" and traditional values and sold Goldwater as the brave cowboy who would make it happen.  Since Ronald Reagan, those ideas have been sold as the "Republican brand" as well.

And frankly, the notion that disagreements over strategy and purity ("people you thought were your friends") which have fueled the conservative movement for decades, is overblown as well.  For instance, both movement and establishment leaders had no problem with the dogwhistle strategy of mining the racist white id for votes. Neither did they disagree about the ridiculous low tax and trickle down economic policies that only benefit the wealthy. They had no problem with the hypocrisy of their own leadership when it came to personal morals even as they excoriated their enemies for their moral lapses.  These were all strategic decisions the coalition tolerated quite easily.  What fueled the movement was betrayal and failure.

Recently some of those Tea Party insurgents actually believed the Republican leadership should be willing to bring down the state in order to bring on the conservative Rapture and leaders like Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan, who had up until then been the poster boys of movement conservatism were deemed sell-outs to The Man. Ted Cruz had planned to lead that insurgency to victory or martyrdom. The stage was set for another round of recriminations and fundraising for the movement.

Then along came Donald Trump, a man so completely outside this cozy little system that he isn't even a member of the party. He's a militant, authoritarian, white nationalist who demands that our foreign allies pay protection or prepare to watch the world burn. He rarely even mentions the words "freedom" or "liberty" even when he's extolling the Second Amendment, which he tends to do in moments like the one where he leads the crowd in chanting "Death Wish! Death Wish!" after a vigilante movie of the 1970s.

Although the right wing antecedents to Trump are not hard to find, nobody like him has ever come this far. The establishment is treading lightly, trying to keep a distance without angering his followers. And the movement that spent so many years creating and nurturing their ideology is very off balance. This is an insurgency they don't control and it's very difficult to see how they can reclaim their place in this carefully nurtured ecosystem when the man who leads it doesn't know or care about their philosophy. And neither, it turns out, do his voters, most of whom have been voting Republican for years.

Phyllis Schlafly, now 92 years old,  is gamely trying to fit Trump into the old mold with her new book called "The Conservative Case for Trump" in which she apparently compares him to, you guessed it, Barry Goldwater  the man for whom she made the case in "A Choice Not an Echo." The book isn't out yet so it's hard to say how she makes that leap but it can't be on a philosophical basis.

Schlafly's fellow traveler Richard Viguerie's associate George Rasley is digging deeply for a rationale to support Trump by claiming that he represents the anti-establishment ethos that first animated the movement back in the 60s, which isn't entirely absurd. Trump is certainly anti-establishment.  And he says that Trump is a leader in opposition to what he calls the "New Puritanism" as represented by the #NeverTrump faction who refuse to vote for someone they believe so badly fails the test of decency, competence and conservatism. This is perversely considered a betrayal of the movement because of its lack of ideological pragmatism. (One assumes Paul Ryan would have a good laugh over that one.)

The bottom line is that the conservative movement as we've known it is empty and confused and it may not be able to recover. Indeed, they should start looking over their shoulders because there are some new kids in town and they are speaking a language the right wing evidently wants to hear these days. It's the openly authoritarian white nationalist Alt-Right. When Donald Trump said "I am your voice" at the Republican Convention that's who he was talking to.

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