Wednesday, November 30, 2016


Mitt Romney had dinner with Donald Trump (and chief of staff-designate Reince Priebus) at a fancy French restaurant last night. Matt Shuham at Talking Points Memo tells us that Newt Gingrich was not impressed:
“You have never, ever in your career seen a wealthy adult who is independent, has been a presidential candidate, suck up at the rate that Mitt Romney is sucking up,” Gingrich told conservative radio host Laura Ingra[ha]m on Wednesday.

“I am confident that he thinks now that he and Donald Trump are the best of friends, they have so many things in common. That they're both such wise, brilliant people,” Gingrich continued. “And I'm sure last night at an elegant three-star restaurant, he was happy to share his version of populism, which involve a little foi[e] gras, a certain amount of superb cooking, but put that in a populist happy manner.”
Shuham adds:
But a man of the people, Gingrich himself is not: A 2011 Washington Post report cited Gingrich’s longtime attorney Randy Evans, who said the former House speaker’s various private enterprises after leaving office had generated close to $100 million in the previous decade.
Gingrich also mocked Romney's fluency in a foreign language:
“Luckily for them, Mitt speaks French fluently. So he could help them with the menu. He could say: 'Ahh, Mr. President-elect. This would be the perfect meal for you,’” Gingrich said.
This isn't the first time Gingrich has attacked Romney for speaking French. He did so in an ad that ran during the 2012 Republican primaries:
Newt Gingrich this week released a web ad called "The French Connection" that features a narrator saying, "just like John Kerry, [Mitt Romney] speaks French too." It then shows Romney saying "bonjour, je m'appelle Mitt Romney."

The footage comes from a video of Romney, who lived in France for two years as a Mormon missionary, speaking French while promoting the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics....
Here's the ad. The mockery of Romney's French comes at the end.

So ... Gingrich is proudly monolingual, right? Um, no:
Yet as Foreign Policy noted today, Gingrich appears to also be proficient in the language of love. As a teenager, Gingrich lived in France while his father was posted there as a soldier, Agence France-Presse last month quoted the author of a book on the former Speaker saying that Gingrich at the time "had enough French to survive." And as Foreign Policy points out, Gingrich's doctoral thesis cites French language original sources, which he could only read if he knew the language.
In fact, as Evangeline Morphos wrote in a Politico piece in 2012:
Gingrich ... spent several years in New Orleans getting his Ph.D. in history (we are constantly reminded) from Tulane University in 1971. The university’s requirements for this include at least one, often two, foreign languages. So we know that Gingrich is at least “bi” -- if not trilingual.

My father was a French literature professor at Tulane and had been chairman of the Romance Languages Department. I can assure you this department would not have certified Gingrich unless he could actually speak French.

Gingrich’s dissertation surely demanded knowledge of French. His topic was “Belgian Education Policy in the Congo: 1945-1960.” Like any graduate student, he must have immersed himself in his subject -- a French-speaking country. He cites more than 100 French-language sources in footnotes.
It's no secret, Newwt. Fess up, you hypocrite.


I can't tell you precisely what's going to replace Obamacare after Republicans repeal it, but I know it's going to be cruel and inadequate. Millions of people are going to lose insurance, or find themselves with coverage that's far worse than what they have now.

But won't they be constrained by the likely political fallout? Aren't they sure to be punished at the ballot box if they make voters' lies significantly worse?

Not if they can share the blame. And to judge from this Wall Street Journal story, that's precisely what's going to happen:
Republicans on Capitol Hill are grappling with the likelihood that they will need Democratic support to pass parts of any plan replacing the Affordable Care Act....

With full control of Congress and the White House, Republicans have anticipated being able to repeal the law using a special budget maneuver that would allow them to get around a filibuster by Democrats in the Senate.

But to replace it, they likely would need the support from eight Democrats and all 52 Republicans in the Senate (if Republican John Kennedy wins a Dec. 10 runoff in Louisiana) to reach the 60 votes needed to clear the chamber’s procedural hurdles....

Lawmakers said they are likely to include a transition period phasing out the law when they repeal it. Republicans think that could help put pressure on Democrats to support a replacement.
So there you go: Republicans will repeal Obamacare on a party-line vote, using reconciliation -- and then Democrats will be compelled to take joint ownership of its replacement. If they refuse, the replacement will be nothing -- and the consequences of that can be blamed on the Democrats as well.

Remember, Republicans will have the same highly effective noise machine they have now. If the replacement is, by some bizarre fluke, well constructed and highly popular, they'll take all the credit. If it isn't, they'll just remind everyone that it was a bipartisan effort, and Democrats poisoned it with injections of big-government socialist politically correct yadda yadda yadda.

So, no, I don't think they'll ever be blamed for what they're about to do.


You will be astonished to learn that Ross Douthat thinks it might be a good idea for Democrats to become more conservative:
Since Election Day the great intra-Democratic debate over What Went Wrong has been dominated by two visions of how liberalism should be organized, identity politics versus economic solidarity....

This is an interesting and fruitful debate ... but it has been mostly about a debate about two different ways of being (sometimes very) left-wing. There has been much less conversation about the ways in which the Democratic Party might consider responding to its current straits by moving to the right.
Before I got to the end of Douthat's column, I was guessing that he meant Democrats should tack right on social issues. That was an easy prediction:
For instance: Democrats could attempt to declare a culture-war truce, consolidating the gains of the Obama era while disavowing attempts to regulate institutions and communities that don’t follow the current social-liberal line. That would mean no more fines for Catholic charities and hospitals, no more transgender-bathroom directives handed down from the White House to local schools, and restraint rather than ruthlessness in future debates over funding and accreditation for conservative religious schools.
That's classic Douthat. But he also thinks Democrats should move right -- not all the way, of course! -- on the social safety net, immigration, crime, and terrorism; "both identitarian and populist liberals" should "accept that open borders and desexed bathrooms and a guaranteed income and mass refugee resettlement will remain somewhat-radical causes rather than simply and naturally becoming the Democratic Party line."

I can understand why a conservative would want Democrats to reorient themselves in this way. But why would Democrats want to?

Because, Douthat writes, moving toward the center works:
It’s what Democrats did, slowly but surely, after the trauma of Ronald Reagan’s triumphs; it’s what Bill Clinton did after his 1994 drubbing; it’s what Rahm Emanuel and Howard Dean did, to a modest degree, on their way to building a congressional majority in 2006. And it’s also what Donald Trump did on his way to stealing the Midwest from the Democrats this year -- he was a hard-right candidate on certain issues but a radical sort of centrist on trade, infrastructure and entitlements, explicitly breaking with Republican orthodoxies that many voters considered out-of-date.
But it's not what Republicans usually do. After Richard Nixon resigned, Republicans started their comeback in the late 1970s with the hard line on taxes represented by California's Proposition 13 in 1978. Two years later, the far-right Ronald Reagan won the presidency for the GOP.

Republicans lost the White House in 1992 -- and came back with two years later with Newt Gingrich's ideologically pure agenda. After the George W. Bush presidency, Republicans came back again by letting their angry-right Tea Party flag fly.

And is Trump heading to the White House because he ran as a "sort of centrist"? Yes, the populist talk had some impact, but his base was really inspired by the wall and the Muslim ban and the endless denunciations of "political correctness." He attacked Black Lives Matter and the media and Obamacare and the Clintons. He promised to torture and to "bomb the shit out of" ISIS. That was centrism?

And even if his deviations from GOP orthodoxy were what put him over the top, what explains the success of other Republicans, both in 2016 and in the last few election cycles? Douthat is right about this:
The Democratic coalition is a losing coalition in most states, most House districts, most Senate races; the party’s national bench is thin, its statehouse power shattered, its congressional leadership aged and inert. It has less political power than it did after the Reagan revolution and the Gingrich sweep.
In terms of offices held at the federal, state, and local levels, the GOP is more powerful than it's been since the 1920s. Until Trump came along, the party got there with ideological purity, not with moves to the left.

It works for the GOP because incessant GOP brand-building, especially on Fox and talk radio, turns out voters in every election. Even the intraparty squabbling of the Tea Party era brought out the vote. Democrats claim to be the party of the have-nots, but their candidates tack to the center too much, in words and in deeds. So plenty of voters just don't believe they stand for what they say they stand for. By contrast, everyone knows that Republicans stand for God, guns, and political incorrectness.

Democrats don't need to moderate. Voters already believe that they water down their message. They need to persuade the electorate that they actually stand for something.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


Here's the big headline at Vox right now:
By picking Tom Price to lead HHS, Trump shows he’s absolutely serious about dismantling Obamacare
Apparently, up until now the intelligentsia wasn't quite sure that Republicans meant it the eighty thousand times they told us that their most important domestic policy goal was the end of Obamacare. They were just joking! It was an elaborate, sustained bit of performance art!

No, really, guys, Republicans were serious. Trump knew they were serious, and Trump's going for it, just as every other Republican who had a chance to win the party's presidential nomination would have gone for it.

From the Vox story:
Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for health and human services secretary, already has a plan for how to abolish Obamacare....

Price ... is the author of the Empowering Patients First Act, one of the most thorough and detailed proposals to repeal and replace Obamacare. He’s the HHS secretary you’d pick if you were dead serious about dismantling the law.

It would replace the law with a plan that does more to benefit the young, healthy, and rich -- and disadvantages the sick, old, and poor....

The biggest cut to the poor in Price’s plan is the full repeal of the Medicaid expansion, a program that currently covers millions of low-income Americans, which Price replaces with, well, nothing.
But even if Price's plan isn't enacted as he wrote it, whatever takes the place of Obamacare will cover fewer people, and will be especially hard on those who need healthcare most. That has Paul Krugman asking,
So here’s the question: how many people just shot themselves in the face?

My first pass answer is, between 3.5 and 4 million.
That's Krugman's back-of-the-envelope estimate of how many Trump voters will be thrown off the healthcare rolls.

Greg Sargent writes:
I have obtained new numbers from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index that suggest that a lot of poor and working-class whites -- who voted for Trump in disproportionate numbers -- have benefited from Obamacare, meaning they likely stand to lose out from its repeal (and even its replacement with something that covers far fewer people). ...

Gallup-Healthways tells me that among whites without a college degree who have household incomes of under $36,000, the uninsured rate has dropped from 25 percent in 2013 to 15 percent now -- a drop of 10 percentage points.

... it now looks more likely that we’ll see a substantial rollback of the progress toward universal health coverage we’ve seen in the past few years. News organizations love to venture into Trump’s America to hear voters explain that Trump spoke far more directly to their economic struggles than Democrats did. Maybe now we’ll get more coverage of those inhabitants of Trump’s America who are set to lose their health care, too.
But if you're thinking that those voters will direct their anger at Trump and fellow Republicans when their healthcare is taken away, ask yourself: Were heartland whites angry at Ronald Reagan when he busted the air traffic controllers' union, a signal event in the decline of the American labor movement? No -- a few years later their votes contributed to a 49-state landslide for Reagan. Did heartland whites rail at big banks after the 2008 financial crisis? No -- Tea Party members denounced President Obama and his fellow Democrats for alleged spending excesses and for Obamacare.

The pattern always holds. In Strangers in Their Own Land, Arlie Russell Hochschild writes about Tea Party supporters who refuse to direct their angry at the very people who do harm to them. This is from Nathaniel Rich's review of the book in The New York Review of Books:
The paradox that most baffles Hochschild is the question of environmental pollution. Even the most ideologically driven zealots don’t want to drink poisoned water, inhale toxic gas, or become susceptible to record flooding. Yet southwestern Louisiana combines some of the nation’s most fervently antiregulatory voters with its most toxic environmental conditions....

Hochschild discovers a walking personification of these ironies in a Cajun oil rig engineer named Mike Schaff. In August 2012, Schaff was entering his home in Bayou Corne, about seventy miles west of New Orleans, when he was jolted by a tremor. His concrete living room floor cracked apart. The sound, said a neighbor, was like a “garbage truck had dropped a dumpster.”

More than a mile beneath the bayou, a Houston-based drilling company named Texas Brine had drilled into a vast salt dome, ignoring warnings from its own engineer.... Texas Brine drills for salt, which it sells to chlorine manufacturers, but other companies had used sections of the salt dome to store chemicals and oil. Texas Brine drilled too closely to an oil deposit and the structure ruptured, sucking down forest and causing seismic damage to the homes of 350 nearby residents. Officials began referring to Schaff’s neighborhood as the “sacrifice zone.”

Texas Brine refused to take responsibility for the accident.... Four years later the sinkhole is 750 feet deep at its center and has grown to thirty-five acres. Methane and other gases bubble up periodically. Residents who defied evacuation orders avoided lighting matches.

... [Schaff] marched on the statehouse, wrote fifty letters to state and federal officials, granted dozens of interviews to local, national, and foreign press. When state officials claimed they had detected no oil in the bayou, he demanded that the EPA check their work.

But Schaff continued to vote Tea Party down the line. He voted for the very politicians who had abetted Texas Brine at every turn, who opposed environmental regulation of any kind. He voted to “abolish” the EPA, believing that it “was grabbing authority and tax money to take on a fictive mission…lessening the impact of global warming.” The violent destruction of everything he held dear was not enough to change his mind.
(Emphasis added.)

And among Hochschild's subjects, Schaff isn't alone:
When asked about catastrophic oil spills that result from lax regulation, one woman says, “It’s not in the company’s own interest to have a spill or an accident…. So if there’s a spill, it’s probably the best the company could do.” Madonna Massey says: “Sure, I want clean air and water, but I trust our system to assure it.” Jackie Tabor, whom Hochschild describes as “an obedient Christian wife,” says: “You have to put up with things the way they are…. Pollution is the sacrifice we make for capitalism” ...
After repeal, the Trumpers will get inadequate insurance, or no insurance -- and they won't blame Trump, or the greedy insurance companies that won't cover them adequately. If they blame anyone, they'll blame the usual suspects: Democrats, liberals, "big government" (yes, even if the new system is far more privatized). It's what heartland whites always do. Don't expect it to change.


How is Donald Trump baiting us this morning? He's doing it by tweeting about the flag:
Burning an American flag should be a crime, President-elect Donald Trump wrote on Twitter Tuesday morning, punishable by a forfeiture of U.S. citizenship or a year in jail.
Here's the tweet:

What set this off? You'd imagine that it was the sequence of events that recently took place at Hampshire College in Massachusetts: students lowered an on-campus flag to half staff after Trump's election, then the flag was burned, then college officials decided to take the flag down temporarily.

But all that happened before Thanksgiving. Why the tweet now? Well, a group of veterans held a pro-flag protest at the college on Sunday.

But I'm not sure even that explains a tweet two days later. Here's another theory:

Yes, here's the man who could be the next secretary of veterans' affairs, former counterinsurgency instructor and former executive director of the rignht-wing group Vets for Freedom, Pete Hegseth, now a Fox commentator:

If a tree falls right next to Donald Trump's limo and Fox News doesn't do a story about it, does Trump hear it? I really don't think Trump knows anything unless it's been on Fox (which means he knows a lot of things that aren't true).

Look at the administration he's putting together. K.T. McFarland as deputy national security adviser: Fox commentator. Sheriff David Clarke, possible homeland security secretary: frequent Fox guest. Laura Ingraham, possible presidential spokesperson: regular guest and frequent substitute host on Bill O'Reilly's show. And on and on.

Trump really has an ability to distract the media and the political world with out-of-nowhere tweets about not-exactly-burning issues that nevertheless touch right-wing hot buttons. Fox is good at that, too -- the channel's ability to gin up fresh outrages for the core audience is what keeps that audience watching.

But here's what I can't figure out: Has Trump shrewdly learned the secret of Fox's success, which he's now replicating as a politician? Or has Trump merely absorbed the rhythms of Fox, which he's now reproducing simply because his brain has been rewired by Fox to expect a fresh outrage every day or so?

It could be the former, but I suspect the latter is true. To me, Trump seems like Chauncey Gardiner in Being There: He likes to watch television, except that Jerzy Kosinski's fictional simpleton probably watched more than one channel. Like Gardiner, Trump fools people into thinking he's clever because he's internalized television's tricks for engaging the mind. But in Trump's case, the tricks of those of Roger Ailes. They're more dangerous. But we clever people are smart enough to fall for them.


UPDATE: CNN's Tom Kludt tracks the timing of some of Trump's most notable tweets. The common thread: They were posted right after the subjects were discussed on Fox.

Monday, November 28, 2016


The long profile of Steve Bannon that appeared in today's New York Times includes a lot of damning information -- this, for instance:
[Julia] Jones, [Bannon's] film colleague, said that in their years working together, Mr. Bannon occasionally talked about the genetic superiority of some people and once mused about the desirability of limiting the vote to property owners.

“I said, ‘That would exclude a lot of African-Americans,’” Ms. Jones recalled. “He said, ‘Maybe that’s not such a bad thing.’..."
But there's a lot in the profile that portrays Bannon just the way he wants to be portrayed -- as a hard-charging, swashbuckling iconoclast who is the establishment's worst nightmare. Among other things, he wants us to believe that he's ordinary Americans' best friend, and the Times profile gives us that spin more or less undiluted:
At times, Mr. Bannon’s rants against the ruling class -- in which he is at least as unsparing of Republicans as of Democrats -- strikingly echo populists on the left. In a revealing 2014 talk via Skype to a Vatican conference, some of his words might have come from Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts or Mr. Sanders of Vermont.

“Not one criminal charge has ever been brought to any bank executive associated with the 2008 crisis,” Mr. Bannon fumed. “And in fact, it gets worse. No bonuses and none of their equity was taken.”
Hmmm ... it seems to me that I recall a group of people who got together a few years ago to draw attention to precisely this problem. The group was furious at Wall Street's ability to walk away from the financial crisis unscathed, and was disgusted at the ever-widening gap between the rich and everyone else. What the heck were those folks called again? Oh, yeah, I remember -- Occupy Wall Street.

So what did Steve Bannon -- the working-class hero -- think of Occupy? Let's go to the Breitbart archives:
The Occupy Wall Street movement was not an innocent attempt by youth across America that broke out spontaneously. It was, instead, a movement that was insidiously plotted by forces that intended to eliminate the United States forever from the free, liberty-loving, last best hope on earth it has always been.

The late Andrew Breitbart, with his close friend Stephen K. Bannon, producer of the hit documentary “The Undefeated,” teamed up to make “Occupy Unmasked.” Breitbart’s last work rips away the façade from the Occupy movement and lays bare for all the world to see how nefarious the movement truly is....

No stone was left unturned in the making of the film; the duo pored over video evidence, documented proof, and exposed e-mail chains galore. Bannon was unflinching in his condemnation:
This is not a bunch of college kids and hippies putting this thing together. Below the surface is a very dark, very ugly and very dangerous group of people. They managed to change the narrative. Their goal is to create chaos, destroy the system. They want to create anarchy, put the system in crisis and from crisis gain power.
... The film starts to appear even more sinister when it reveals the organizers behind the protests. One organizer, Malcolm Harris, a self-described communist, lied to the Occupiers in order to get them to Zuccotti park by telling them the band Radiohead would be playing there. And just as you’d expect, a New York Times writer helped him get that message out.

Employee unions were instrumental in organizing the protests, of course, since their socialistic goals were absolutely in sync with the Occupy movement. “Occupy Unmasked” even shows how the unions are still organizing, protesting and occupying.
Omigod! Unions -- organizing! It's too horrible to contemplate!

And Bannon said Occupy's goal was "to create chaos" and "destroy the system" as if that was a bad thing? I thought he was the guy who said in 2014, “I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.” So what's his problem with Occupy? Is he afraid of the competition?

Steve Bannon may attack the conservative establishment when it's battling anti-establishment right-wing radicals, but if the battle is between establishmentarians and anyone on the left, then Bannon is going to side with the establishment every time. He is not the hero of the common people. Reporters, don't let him spin you that way.


Disturbing news in Ohio today:
The suspect in [an] Ohio State University attack [today] ran into a group of pedestrians on a street corner with his vehicle before using a weapon to cut several people, OSU President Dr. Michael Drake said. The assailant used a butcher knife, OSU Police Chief Craig Stone said.

Ten people were hospitalized after [the] attack.... Nine are in stable condition, and one is in critical condition....

The university released a statement after the attack.

"A suspect has been shot and reported deceased," the university said. "Victim injuries include stab wounds, injury by motor vehicle and other injuries that are being evaluated."
Before the suspect was identified, Joe Walsh -- radio host, ex-congressman, and Islamophobe -- tweeted this:

And now we're learning this:
The suspect's name was not released, but law enforcement officials told NBC News he was an 18-year-old Ohio State student, a Somali refugee who was a legal permanent resident of the United States.

The motive was unknown, but officials said the attack was clearly deliberate and may have been planned in advance.

"This was done on purpose," [Ohio State police chief Craig] Stone said.
If Walsh is right -- and I fear he is -- then welcome to Day One of the Trump Era.

Donald Trump won the presidency three weeks ago. He was a dangerous demagogue as a candidate for a year and a half before that, and a divisive blowhard from the time he became a regular Fox commentator in 2011. But this is the first breaking news event since Trump became president-elect that offers him the clear choice of responsible leadership or racism directed at an entire group of people. He's not speaking as a celebrity turned amateur pundit anymore, nor is he a fluke presidential candidate running as a longshot -- now he's speaking for America, and his words will give us a sense of how the U.S. government will respond over the next four (or eight) years at moments like this.

I'm expecting the worst. I'm expecting group slander and calls for collective punishment. I'm expecting him to make no effort to warn off vigilantes or hatemongers. It's going to be ugly.

At least he has no government power -- yet. But this will be a taste of what's to come. Brace yourselves, because it's not going to be a pleasant ride.


Donald Trump is claiming that Hillary Clinton's popular-vote lead in the presidential election is the result of 3 million ballots cast illegally by immigrants. The Washington Post has located the source of this conspiracy theory:
In fact, this claim that millions of illegal immigrants voted is itself the result of a random tweet.

On Nov. 13, Gregg Phillips, a former Texas Health and Human Services Commission deputy commissioner, tweeted about there being 3 million votes that were cast by noncitizens.

Phillips operates under a bewildering number of organization names -- JumpVote,, Election Night Gatekeepers -- but he is regularly identified (for instance, in this story at Right Wing News) as "the founder of Votestand, a voter fraud reporting app." VoteStand was brought to you by a group called True the Vote, as Breitbart noted in October:
Texas-based election integrity organization True the Vote has released a smartphone app that allows users to report voter fraud and irregularities.

VoteStand, available for both iPhone and Android users, is advertised to be the “first online election fraud reporting app” available to voters across the country “to quickly report suspected election illegalities as they happen,” according to True the Vote....

“VoteStand can be used to capture your voting experience,” True the Vote Founder Catherine Engelbrecht said. “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
Go to the iTunes store and you'll see that the vendor for VoteStand is True the Vote, Inc. The Post notes that Gregg Phillips claims to be a True the Vote board member. And you can see in the tweet above that he says he'll be joining True the Vote "to initiate legal action."

Does the name True the Vote ring any bells for you?

Back in 2013, the group, headed by a woman named Catherine Engelbrecht, got a lot of publicity because the IRS under Lois Lerner wouldn't approve its tax-exempt status. Peggy Noonan wrote this sob story:
But the most important IRS story came not from the hearings but from Mike Huckabee’s program on Fox News Channel. He interviewed and told the story of Catherine Engelbrecht -- a nice woman, a citizen, an American. She and her husband live in Richmond, Texas. They have a small manufacturing business. In the past few years she became interested in public policy and founded two groups, King Street Patriots and True the Vote.

In July 2010 she sent applications to the IRS for tax-exempt status.... The U.S. government came down on her with full force....

All this because she requested tax-exempt status for a local conservative group and for one that registers voters and tries to get dead people off the rolls. Her attorney, Cleta Mitchell, who provided the timeline above, told me: “These people, they are just regular Americans. They try to get dead people off the voter rolls, you would think that they are serial killers.”

This week Ms. Engelbrecht, who still hasn’t received her exemptions, sued the IRS.
John Fund, a Noonan colleague on the Wall Street Journal editorial page, wrote this:
At least two donors told me they didn’t contribute to True the Vote, a group formed to combat voter fraud, because after three years of waiting the group still didn’t have its [tax-exempt] status granted at the time of the 2012 election.
True the Vote was seeking 501(c)(3) tax status, which required it not to support political candidates. But True the Vote's partisanship is obvious, as I noted in 2013. I quoted this, from Sourcewatch:
True the Vote's website portrays voter fraud as largely a Democractic party problem. It routinely runs stories on election fraud being perpetrated by "liberals," ... or "Democrats" ... but has, to date, never run a story on Republican or Conservative instances of voter fraud.

... in 2012, True the Vote contributed $5000 to the Republican State Leadership Committee.... This overtly political statement would legally, according to tax lawyers specializing in election law, disqualify a nonprofit from 501(c)3 tax-exempt status....
True The Vote ... put together a video raising the threat of voter fraud which features soaring music. "Think it can't happen in your town? Think again!" reads one message. "Our elections are being manipulated. By the RADICAL LEFT," the video says.

The video originally featured a doctored photo of an African-American voter holding a poorly photoshopped sign -- featuring Comic Sans font -- that read "I only got to vote once." That part of the video has since been edited out.
And there was a story in The New York Times in 2012 about a suspicious RV:
Driving down the Interstate in Florida, you may see an R.V. wrapped with a picture of Abraham Lincoln.

These eye-catching vehicles are mobile command centers for registering and energizing voters. They are part of a citizen effort to "defeat Obama, hold the House and win the Senate in November," Fred Solomon, a retired Alabama businessman, said in an e-mail to fellow Tea Party supporters.

Mr. Solomon is a coordinator for Code Red USA, the plan to flood swing states with conservative volunteers. "Partnering with True the Vote, a nonprofit, nonpartisan watchdog group, we will train and put election observers in polling places in the swing states to reduce voter fraud," Mr. Solomon said in his e-mail.

Code Red USA is financed by the Madison Project, a political action committee whose chairman is former Representative Jim Ryun, a Kansas Republican who was regarded as among the most conservative members of Congress. The provocative video promoting Code Red accuses Democrats of "a clear intent to commit massive voter fraud."

Despite Mr. Solomon's e-mail and the video, which identifies True the Vote as a participant, Ms. Engelbrecht said her group has no role in the effort.
Gosh, I can't imagine why the IRS had questions about True the Vote's non-political status.

True the Vote issued a statement today:
“True the Vote absolutely supports President-elect Trump’s recent comment about the impact of illegal voting, as reflected in the national popular vote. We are still collecting data and will be for several months, but our intent is to publish a comprehensive study on the significant impact of illegal voting in all of its many forms and begin a national discussion on how voters, states, and the Trump Administration can best address this growing problem.”
The statement adds:
True the Vote (TTV) is an IRS-designated 501(c)(3) voters’ rights organization, founded to inspire and equip voters for involvement at every stage of our electoral process. TTV empowers organizations and individuals across the nation to actively protect the rights of legitimate voters, regardless of their political party affiliation.
Yes, those last six words are a joke -- on us, the taxpayers.

Sunday, November 27, 2016


The New York Post reports that despite earlier reports to the contrary, the incoming Trump administration supports an ongoing legal witch hunt against the Clintons after all -- just not one conducted by the U.S. government:
Foreign governments will be encouraged to investigate the Clinton Foundation’s finances....

A source close to President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team told The Post that the new administration plans to pressure the US ambassadors it will name to bring up the foundation with foreign governments -- and suggest they probe its ­financial dealings.

Trump said last week that he would not order an investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail server or her role in the foundation.

But Trump’s statement didn’t preclude the backroom moves to investigate the group.

“Haiti and Colombia will be key diplomatic posts for this ­because of all the money ­involved,” said the source.
Yeah, those are certainly the legal systems you want to turn to for investigations that are aboveboard and first-rate: Freedom House says of Haiti that "The judiciary is inefficient and weak, and is burdened by a lack of resources, a large backlog of cases, outdated legal codes, and poor facilities," adding that "Bribery is rampant at all levels of the judicial system," while in Colombia "The justice system remains compromised by corruption and extortion."

On the other hand, this makes perfect sense coming from Trump. Where are Trump-branded ties, suits, shirts, and eyeglasses made? Not in America -- they're manufactured overseas, in countries like Bangladesh and Honduras.

So Trump's applying the same line of thinking to vengeance against the Clintons. Outsource it! Compliant governments, cheap labor -- Trump profit! #MAGA!


Traditional conservatives were delighted to learn that Fidel Castro is dead, but James Fulford's take at the racist site, while largely focused on the economic shortcomings of Castro's revolution, also ponders what this means for white America.

Fulford quotes a 2014 VDARE piece by fellow white nationalist Peter Brimelow:
... why didn’t the U.S. just invade Cuba after the [collapse of the] Soviet Union [in] 1991, when it was completely isolated and falling apart? We invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, didn’t we? At least by invading Cuba, we could have got Miami back.
Yes, that would have been the point of an invasion to overthrow Castro: to get Miami back. While traditional conservatives loved the Cuban exile community -- at least until a younger generation started voting Democratic -- to Brimelow it was an invading force of Hispanics, and it was high time in 1991 to take the city back for the master race.

Fulford's take is a bit more nuanced. He quotes a piece of mainstream journalism from earlier in Brimelow's career -- a comment on Cuba written for Forbes in 1998. Fulford's gloss on the piece is in bold below:
A 1956 U.S. Department of Commerce guide for businessmen flatly said that “Cuba is not an underdeveloped country in the sense usually associated with that term,” citing its infrastructure, industrial development and large middle class. [ Note: Large WHITE middle class -- i. e. people like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.]Its living standards were reported to be among the highest in Latin America -- then.
Cuba wasn't a Third World country pre-Castro, you see, because of all those white people!

But those white Cubans still annoy the racists. In the 2014 Brimelow piece quoted by Fulford, the word "Miami" links to fellow VDARE-ite Steve Sailer's review of Tom Wolfe's 2012 novel about Miami, Back to Blood. Sailer praises the novel for its ethnic determinism and its belief in the unworkability of immigration. To Wolfe and Sailer, it's true that the Miami Cubans are not of the truly inferior races. Sailer writes:
... neither the Vietnamese nor Cubans are representative of the effects of immigration in general: both are anti-Communist refugees from the upper reaches of their home societies.
But Cubans are still not quite on a par with white Americans -- they drift to the left and they're just not bright enough, says Sailer, invoking a couple of characters in Wolfe's novel:
Back To Blood reminds me that the conservative Brain Trust has long assumed that immigrants will become more Republican as they assimilate. Yet, in Miami, where the immigrants started out as fanatical Republicans for foreign policy reasons, the American-born Cubans have been trending Democratic. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Obama carried 60 percent of American-born Cubans....

Although the Miami Cubans in Back To Blood are all white conservatives, they see Anglo whites as The Other: “Americanos.” They use this term even when, as in Nestor’s case, they can’t actually speak much Spanish themselves.

... Wolfe emphasizes [that] the younger Cubans like Nestor and Magdalena are constantly reminded when they speak to Americanos that their vocabularies in English tend to be smaller, which leaves them embarrassed and unhappy.

Wolfe is the master of portraying embarrassment; in particular, he can intuit what people with 95 IQs find humiliating, a subject most writers are oblivious to.
Yeah, they may be white, and descended from "the upper reaches" in Cuba, but they're still a bunch of dumb Hispanics.

Which brings us back to James Fulford's response to Castro's death. He hopes there'll be a reverse migration to Cuba, though he worries that the opposite will be the case:
... this happy event may result in increased Cuban immigration to Florida, where there’s already a Cuban colony. Perhaps, instead, some migration should flow the other way?
But if that happens, he has a solution:
... if what we get is a huge Cuban refugee boatlift, I want to remind you of my 2001 modest proposal for dealing with refugees, addressed to the then President of Mexico: Dear Mr. Fox: Please Find Attached our Poor/ Tired/ Dispossessed, Etc.

If a large number of Spanish-speaking refugees are leaving Cuba, there’s no reason why the United States can’t route them south to Mexico, which must be experiencing labor shortages now, and which can always use new entrepreneurs.

And if the Mexicans don’t want to accept them, they can explain it to President Trump.
In the unlikely event of another Mariel boatlift, I could really imagine Trump trying to do this.

Saturday, November 26, 2016


Hi, I'm back. Thanks again, Yastreblyansky, Tom, and Crank -- great work while I was away.

I see that yesterday President-elect Trump appointed another member of his foreign policy team:
Donald Trump has selected K.T. McFarland to be his deputy national security adviser, the president-elect's transition team announced.

McFarland, a Fox News analyst, served as an official in the Reagan White House. She also unsuccessfully ran for U.S. Senate in New York in 2006.
McFarland has a few small skeletons in her closet. First, there's this, which might be a felony:
Just-announced Republican Senate hopeful Kathleen McFarland ... a Reagan administration official in the early 1980s, has maintained two voting addresses since 1996: at her posh Park Avenue home and at her family's stunning second home on a small island near Southampton, according to the records.

She pingponged her vote from Manhattan to Southampton in various years, casting her ballot from the Ram Island address in 1998 and 1999, but voting from Park Avenue in 2000 and 2001.

She skipped the 2002 and 2003 elections, and then it was back to voting in Southampton in 2004, according to the records.

State law makes it a felony to be registered at two addresses during the same election cycle, according to state Board of Elections spokesman Lee Daghlian.

"When you change the place you've been voting, a new registration has to be filed, showing that you've changed your address," Daghlian said....
That was revealed in 2006, when Hillary Clinton was running for reelection to the Senate and McFarland was just starting her unsuccessful campaign for the seat. That year we were also told that she's a touch paranoid (or she might have just been joking):
A Republican challenger to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is bizarrely claiming that the former first lady has been spying in her bedroom window and flying helicopters over her house in the Hamptons, witnesses told The Post yesterday.

Former Reagan-era Pentagon official Kathleen “KT” McFarland stunned a crowd of Suffolk County Republicans on Thursday by saying:

“Hillary Clinton is really worried about me, and is so worried, in fact, that she had helicopters flying over my house in Southampton today taking pictures,” according to a prominent GOP activist who was at the event.

“She wasn’t joking, she was very, very serious, and she also claimed that Clinton’s people were taking pictures across the street from her house in Manhattan, taking pictures from an apartment across the street from her bedroom,” added the eyewitness, who is not involved in the Senate race.

Suffolk County Republican Chairman Harry Withers, who hosted the reception in East Islip, confirmed McFarland’s paranoid statements.

“Yes, she said that,” Withers told The Post.

McFarland spokesman William O’Reilly responded that the GOP hopeful was just kidding around with her far-fetched claims.

“It was a joke, and people laughed,” O’Reilly insisted.
McFarland had a gay brother, and she was not good to him:
The eldest of four, KT had a brother here in New York City who had followed her to George Washington University and then worked as an analyst. “Ummmm. He was sick and then he died,” is all she would say when pressed. Michael Troia had AIDS; his obituary listed three “companions.”

KT ... couldn’t abide his sexual orientation. Shortly after she discovered Mike had AIDS, she wrote her parents lengthy, angry, almost Gothic letters in which she outed her brother, blamed her father for his troubles as well as those of her and her other siblings, and cut off contact with her parents. “Have you ever wondered why I have never had anything to do with Mike and have never let my daughters see him although we live only fifteen minutes away from each other?” she wrote. “He has been a lifelong homosexual, most of his relationships brief, fleeting one-night stands.”
In the same letter, she accused her father of physical abuse, which she said she'd become aware of as the result of recovered memories. She blamed the abuse for her brother's homosexuality. (Her father and mother have denied that the abuse had taken place, as has a surviving brother, who said, “If I had one word to describe my sister, it would be ‘evil.’”)

Oh, and she did a bit of résumé padding prior to that Senate run:
When Kathleen Troia McFarland stepped forward as a Republican challenger to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, she was a relatively obscure figure with two intriguing claims to fame: She had worked on President Ronald Reagan's "Star Wars" speech and had been the highest-ranking woman at the Reagan Pentagon.

But interviews with former Reagan administration officials and a review of documents show her claims were not entirely accurate. Though she helped write the "Star Wars" speech, its most famous passage -- the one that announced the anti-ballistic missile program -- was actually written by the president himself and his top national security advisers, according to two senior advisers to Mr. Reagan and a review of the literature and news articles of the period.

And while Ms. McFarland, who is known as K. T., was a close confidante of Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger, serving as his speechwriter and spokeswoman for several years, there were two women with higher ranks in the Pentagon during virtually her entire time there, according to information provided by the Pentagon and the McFarland campaign.
But she has actual relevant experience, which is more than you can say for many Trump appointees, though I'm sure Trump hired her in large part because she's been a Fox News analyst. She's been on "the shows"! That's what Trump thinks is the best source of policy expertise, or at least the expertise that can be digested without, y'know, reading.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Memo to Mayor Bill DeBlasio: Here’s how to deal with Donald Trump’s threat to punish 8.4 million New Yorkers

One of New York City's
best weapons against
Donald Trump is his New
York City real estate.
So Bill, as one of your fellow New Yorkers, there are some things I like about you and others I don’t. Notwithstanding the negatives, I feel for you trying to deal with The Trumpster’s threat to whack the city on our collective butt if we continue providing sanctuary to undocumented aliens.
"Block funding for sanctuary cities ... no more funding. We will end the sanctuary cities that have resulted in so many needless deaths," Trump said in Phoenix. "Cities that refuse to cooperate with federal authorities will not receive taxpayer dollars, and we will work with Congress to pass legislation to protect those jurisdictions that do assist federal authorities.”
Given that a significant chunk of New York’s budget comes from the Federal Government (although even that is a  mere fraction of what New Yorker and its citizens give to the Washington) you might be tempted to cave in and start rounding up foreigners for transport to….wherever.

Don’t fall for it, Bill.

In the first place, if the Federal government under Trump wants to round up immigrants, let them do it on their own dime. The cops in New York have enough problems rounding up real crooks and keeping traffic moving. The last thing they need is to stop everything and deplete the city’s resources to bust some kid because his parents brought him here when he was six months old.

Every time a local cop has to arrest and then process an undocumented immigrant, he’s saving the Feds from the expense of doing it themselves. This is especially critical to Republicans and The Trumpster, who plan to drain the Federal treasury by slashing and hacking away at the taxes on the rich.

Besides, New York has powerful weapon. The Trumpster not only lives here, he evidently plans to spend a good deal of time here.

Now that he’s president, his presence means that Fifth Avenue gets blocked off by our cops as part of his security. Cops erect barriers in front of 725 Fifth Avenue, the address of Trump Tower. They move sand-filled dump trucks into position around Trump Tower, taking them out of service for the duration of The Trumpster’s stay. They have to deal, at great cost to New Yorkers, with traffic jams, delays, and police overtime.

“Well from now you,” you can tell Trump, “Fuhgedaboudid.” You can be very nice to him while you say it, Bill. You can gently say, 

“Aw shucks, Mister President, now that you’ve cut so deeply into our operating budget by slashing our funding, we just don’t have the money for your security any more.”

You won’t even be setting a precedent, Bill. Rudy Giuliani, who seemed to have his own personal foreign policy when he was mayor here, set the precent back in 1995. That’s when he not only refused to provide security for visiting PLO head Yasser Arafat, but also booted his butt out of a Lincoln Center concert.

I’m not suggesting grabbing the Trumpster by the collar and kneeing his backside until he’s back on Air Force One (or will it be Trumpster One?) I’m simply suggesting that he should get no special consideration that costs the city as much as two cents.

While we’re at it, you know all those buildings with the name Trump on them? Not only the Trump Tower where President Donald will be spending much of his time at 725 Fifth. Also the one that houses one of his hotels at Columbus Circle. And the other opaque black monstrosity on First Avenue over near the UN. And the Hotel at 59th Street. And office buildings like the one one Wall Street, and on and on.

Bill, it might just occur to you, if necessary, that the city’s tax assessment on those buildings need a bit of an upgrade. After all, they’re part of the private empire of the President of the United States. That ought to add a heck of a lot to the desirability of the space they occupy and the spaces they offer. Hence, increased value. 

Up his assessments. Cut his security. And if he doesn’t pay the assessments?

Well, let's not rule out foreclosure.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

Image by blogfriend Fearguth, November 2015.
We spend a lot of time criticizing the Thanksgiving myth, of that first feast at Plymouth Plantation, where the Indians, having helped the Pilgrims survive into their first harvest, come to share its fruits at the same table; for its false consciousness and historical decontextualization, ripped out of the record of exploitation, theft, and violence that marks the white people's takeover of the continent, but maybe we ought to remember that it is, after all, a myth.

Athena didn't leap, an armed baby, out of Zeus's skull, either! You can't expect a myth to be true! Maybe we should be thinking about the picture itself, of that multicultural table, as something we yearn toward, prospectively, without any illusions about the actual festival of 1621, toward the time when we can all sit down together, conscious of our identities and willingly sharing across the boundaries, those who have more obliged to share more, or even better to make it real every day, or as real as we can, imperfect and selfish as we all are by nature.

The Thanksgiving myth is really about celebrating diversity! It doesn't mean anything if everybody at the table is the same, or if we pretend we're all the same; it derives its meaning from the differences, from dramatizing whatever differences we have, even if it's just generations or genders, but ideally racial differences, and being generous about them, not just with food but with attention, and not just attention but a little surrender, maybe of allowing the other person to be touchy and ready to get indignant, maybe of noticing how touchy we're feeling (with good reason!) ourselves.

And tomorrow, Resistance! Have a great holiday.

Cross-posted at The Rectification of Names.

Post-Identity Dumbassery

Uncle Sam's Thanksgiving Dinner, Thomas Nast, 1869

Since the election we've had a whole bunch of pundits (and Bernie Sanders) blaming the result on "identity politics" and urging Democrats to throw their core constituencies under the bus. The worst of these may be this one, by a humanities professor named Mark Lilla:
One of the many lessons of the recent presidential election campaign and its repugnant outcome is that the age of identity liberalism must be brought to an end. Hillary Clinton was at her best and most uplifting when she spoke about American interests in world affairs and how they relate to our understanding of democracy. But when it came to life at home, she tended on the campaign trail to lose that large vision and slip into the rhetoric of diversity, calling out explicitly to African-American, Latino, L.G.B.T. and women voters at every stop. This was a strategic mistake.
He says "identity politics" have made liberals "narcissistically unaware of conditions outside their self-defined groups, and indifferent to the task of reaching out to Americans in every walk of life"--which is pretty hilarious because that description certainly applies to the willfully ignorant shitheads living in 95% white enclaves who wound up voting for Trump. His "post-identity liberalism" "would concentrate on widening its base by appealing to Americans as Americans and emphasizing the issues that affect a vast majority of them"--in other words, ignoring any issues that make white people uncomfortable. (Ixnay on the Ackblay Iveslay Attersmay.)

About halfway through, we get to this passage that gives away the game:
National politics in healthy periods is not about “difference,” it is about commonality. And it will be dominated by whoever best captures Americans’ imaginations about our shared destiny. Ronald Reagan did that very skillfully, whatever one may think of his vision. So did Bill Clinton, who took a page from Reagan’s playbook.
You can take your "commonality" and shove it up your ass, dumbfuck. Reagan harped on "welfare queens" and started his 1980 campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi with a speech extolling "states' rights". Bill Clinton picked a fight with a prominent hip-hop artist and executed a retarded black man. That's not rejecting "identity politics"; that's practicing white identity politics. (And yes, Clinton and Reagan differed in both magnitude and relative malignancy of their white identity politics. But they both practiced it.)

And that's what Lilla is arguing for: white identity politics--a kinder gentler white identity politics, with, y'know, less cross-burning and shit. That's what all these critics of "identity politics" are arguing for, either explicitly (like Lilla) or implicitly.

(Also worth reading: Rebecca Traister on this issue. And for historical perspective, check out this piece about the cartoon at the top of this post, and a nativist parody thereof.)

Next year, a White House turkey may pardon himself

Happy Thanksgiving, fellow Americans. In honor of today's holiday, the President of the United States traditionally
Which twin is the turkey?
pardons two turkeys. 

Presumably, instead of getting their heads sliced off and their chest cavities crammed full of stale bread and spices, they’ll go back to a farm somewhere and gobble happily ever after. Or at least until a big, ominous trailer truck arrives to load up on raw material for the frozen dinner company down the road.

At any rate, the subject of pardons for turkeys got me wondering: Does Donald Trump have a plan to circumvent the law concerning foreign emoluments — not to mention potentially uncountable conflicts of interest — without cooking his own goose?

If Trump goes down the road it seems he wants to travel — keeping his businesses, cutting foreign business deals in the Oval Office, making sure foreign diplomats stay in his hotels, hiding misdeeds behind the privacy of his tax returns, hiring his kids, son-in-law, and maybe even his dog if he can buy one that won’t bite him — how will he get away with his outrageously corrupt behavior?  

And then it occurred to me exactly how he can do it.

It’s simple. The turkey in the Oval Office will simply pardon himself. 

Not to mention that there eventually might be pardons in the offing for all the other foul fowl and free-range birdbrains who suck up to this cluck.

Cross-posted at The New York Crank

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Emperor Trump

Up on my list of things to be giving thanks for on the holiday is that President-Elect Trump is breaking so many of his campaign promises, to build a wall and make the Mexicans pay for it, to prosecute his Democratic opponent for crimes unspecified and unspecifiable, to restore torture to the CIA's toolbox, to withdraw from the agreement between Iran and the P5+1 powers, to dump the Paris climate accord, and to accept the backing of the alt-white movement, which he rejected in his meeting with the Times executives and pandits yesterday. I hope he decides to break more of them! And I hope the betrayed voters don't react too violently.

I also hope he never holds a press conference, as Michael Gerson (G.W. Bush's faith-based speechwriter, you'll recall) was suggesting on NPR. Because presidential press conferences are really dangerous with a president who's unable to control his tongue. Controlling one's tongue, also known as "political correctness". A careless word can jolt a market or put somebody's life in jeopardy. Reported hate crimes in New York City are up over 400% since this time last year because of the words of a politician who isn't even president, yet. I hope he never appears in public without a script and his words are as anodyne as Eisenhower's speeches were.

The worst fears of Monsignor Ross Douthat, Apostolic Nuncio to 42nd Street ("The Trump Revelations"), appear to him to have been confirmed: the man's a secret liberal, "in his heart"!—
the overall policy impression Trump left was that he would be very happy to play a Nixon-Rockefeller Republican, with lots of public-works spending, pump-priming economic policy and attempted deal making overseas. If this posture was a pander to my colleagues’ pro-government sensibilities, it was also a plausible one — consistent with Trump’s New York background, his past (and in his heart, probably present) social liberalism and many of his pre-2016 pronouncements.
—but I think that's oversimplifying. For the eleventieth time, conservatives are always pro-government when they're running it and anti-government otherwise. There's nothing un-conservative about spending money on magnificent projects as long as the ruling class isn't paying the tab and the spending doesn't lead to too much liberation among the lower orders. And "social conservatism"—the advocacy of a theocratic regulation over people's sexual activities in particular—is not a primary thing, but a characteristic tool used by conservatives to maintain the system of patriarchal control that keeps them in power, which is what conservatism has always really been about, that and industrial deregulation and regressive taxes of course:

I tell you, one thing I would say, so, I’m giving a big tax cut and I’m giving big regulation cuts, and I’ve seen all of the small business owners over the United States, and all of the big business owners, I’ve met so many people. They are more excited about the regulation cut than about the tax cut. And I would’ve never said that’s possible, because the tax cut’s going to be substantial. You know we have companies leaving our country because the taxes are too high. But they’re leaving also because of the regulations. And I would say, of the two, and I would not have thought this, regulation cuts, substantial regulation cuts, are more important than, and more enthusiastically supported, than even the big tax cuts.
That's the part of the program he's truly committed to, not the pump-priming. He believes in it so much he can speak fairly coherently about it—as compared to when they ask him about infrastructure:

Not My President

Black Lives Matter
I'm going to take advantage of my guest status to post a few photos from protests in the first week after the election. No commentary, no analysis, no overriding point; just images. Enjoy, or not.

Make America Kind Again


Rainbow California

Not My President King of America


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Try a little tenderness

And it's look who's finally showing up for The Normalizing? David F. Brooks ("Fellow Trump Critics, Try a Little Listening") asking all his friends to take a hopeful and helpful attitude to the president-elect and his interesting plans:

Whether it’s reforming immigration or trade policy, his governing challenge is going to be astoundingly hard and complicated. Surely this is not the moment to get swept up in our own moral superiority, but rather to understand the specificity of the proposals he comes up with and to offer concrete amendments and alternatives to address the same problems.
It's just like November 2008, right, when he asked Obama's opponents to cut him some slack and assist him to govern responsibly, by engaging with the Democrats' proposals. Oh, wait, no he didn't, he told the president-elect to listen to his opponents and look for ways of engaging with them, because the election was a sure sign that America was moving to the right:
I’m dreaming of an administration led by Barack Obama, but which stretches beyond the normal Democratic base. It makes time for moderate voters, suburban voters, rural voters and even people who voted for the other guy.... there won’t just be a few token liberal Republicans in marginal jobs. There will be people like Robert Gates at Defense and Ray LaHood, Stuart Butler, Diane Ravitch, Douglas Holtz-Eakin and Jim Talent at other important jobs. ("Change I Can Believe in", 11/7/08) 
Obama did hire Gates and LaHood, too, as if he'd read that stupid column, as he probably did. I wish he'd hired my girl Ravitch, now that she's ended up on the radical side, instead of that tool Arne Duncan. Trump's discussing Jerry Falwell, Jr., as a possible secretary of education. I see lots of ways of collaborating with that and finding a way to split the difference between our views. Maybe we can talk him into allowing evolution theory to be taught in high school biology alongside the approved theory from Genesis 1. Compromise! But it's always the left side that has to compromise with the right, because reasons.

Long version at The Rectification of Names.

It's the Medicare, Stupid

Josh Marshall is absolutely right: Medicare is the fight we need to have, and it's a fight we can win.
Medicare is a hugely important and hugely successful social insurance program for tens of millions of Americans and Republicans aim to repeal it in about six to eight months using a mix of bamboozlement, word play and lies. When I say tens of millions I am speaking of current beneficiaries. But assuming the program is not abolished the overwhelming majority of us will be beneficiaries in the future. Less appreciated is the way Medicare protects money that goes to buying homes and raising children from being spent on the health care of indigent, bankrupted parents. These intergenerstional benefits are under-appreciated but profound. If Medicare is abolished in 2017 it will be a calamity.

But the politics of Medicare are also highly relevant to this political moment.

It's not an either/or. The policy and politics are entirely harnessed together. And preserving Medicare will yield political benefits which will allow Democrats to defeat other Trump/GOP initiatives that will do the country grievous harm.

Trump's election has sprung into overdrive a debate we've been having in the world of politics for more than a year: Is Trumpism largely about economic distress tied to globalization and neo-liberal economics or is it mainly driven by a white racial backlash against minorities Trump supporters believe are cutting to the front of the line in the race for economic preferment and cultural centrality? I largely put myself in the second camp. But as I think most people realize, these are not mutually exclusive explanations. And whichever side of the equation you come down on, what the Democrats need are issues that cut across the regional/racial/class divide we saw in the 2016 election.

Medicare does that....

Donald Trump won the presidency promising to defend the economic interests of ordinary people from the 'crooked' elite on Wall Street and in Washington....If you look at the faces in the crowds at Trump's most poisonous speeches I guarantee that you that very few of those people thought they were voting to lose their Medicare.

Getting rid of or gutting Medicare is incredibly unpopular. It can only be accomplished by a mixture of bamboozlement, scare tactics and unified party government which will allow the GOP to push the change through regardless of public opinion. Saving Medicare or giving everything in the effort to do so is a tailor-made way for Democrats to cut across the Trump-Clinton divide and undermine the idea that Trump or the GOP have the interests of the middle class or really anyone but libertarians and the extremely wealthy at heart.
Fortunately, there are signs that the Democrats are planning to step up.

I would just add that the time to start this campaign is immediately. Sometime "in the next couple of weeks" Trump is going to do his victory tour. So let's say we buy a whole bunch of ad time in the areas he plans to visit. It's a simple pitch. Medicare. You earned it. You paid into it all your life. And now Paul Ryan wants to take it away from you. Tell your congressman to keep Paul Ryan's hands off our Medicare. Keep Trump's name out of it (for now, though that calculation changes later in the campaign) and put it all on Ryan, whom Trump's people already hate.

And if it works, in state after state Trump rolls into a shitstorm of riled-up seniors calling for Ryan's head.

That's how I'd do it. In any case, we have an opportunity here. It would be criminal to waste it.