Latest Posts

Race-Bait and Switch

For years, the it has been ridiculously obvious that the Beltway media which simply cannot function without the crutch of its Both Sides Do It lie.  


This radical media bias in favor of a comforting fairy tale was never particularly well-hidden because it didn't need to be:  virtually no one inside the belly of the media beast -- people whose chosen profession ostensibly has something to do with speaking the truth -- is going to risk their position by speaking this obvious truth out loud.

And for this I blame Chuck Todd, and a boatload of others just like him*, for reasons that -- believe me -- after 11 years, I get tired of reiterating.  But until I get Mr. Todd and his collaborators under some hot lights and sweat the details of his part in the Beltway media conspiracy out of them, nailing the same painfully obvious theses to the media's cathedral door over and over and over again is the best I've got.

But after years of maintaining the Big Both Siderist Lie by lending its tattered mantle of respectability to an increasingly dangerous and bizarre gallery of Conservative lunatics and con men in order to achieve "balance", the Beltway media finally arrived at the place it was headed all along:  with a Republican Party which was now so openly and confidently racist and insane that there was no possibility of wishing it away any longer.   

The Irresistible Force of the Donald Trump nomination had finally collided with the Immovable Object of the Beltway Both Siderist Lie.  And the existential consequences have been both disturbing and hilarious -- fodder for several dozen more essays than I have the time or spirit to write.

One of the most deleterious side-effects of Donald Trump's candidacy has been the mainstreaming of America's more quotidian racism and commonplace right-wing crackpottery that are usually cranked up to "8"*, but are being smuggled into respectability under the cover of being slightly less awful than Trump, who cranks it up to "11".

When Trump finally crashes and burns, the Beltway media will do exactly what it did when the Bush Administration crashed and burned:  they will skip right over all those inconvenient Liberals who had been right about the coming debacle all along, they will anoint as brilliant prophets the likes of Bill Kristol, Eric Erickson, Joe Scarborough and any other Conservative who bailed on Trump in the 11th hour in order to back some other staggeringly-unfit wingnut, and they will embrace anyone, anywhere who will put on a suit, sit in front of a camera and speak the holy words -- "Both Sides were to blame" -- out loud.  

Unless we on the Left push back loud and hard and in one voice, sooner than you will believe possible you will wake up to find that the same Conservative goblins who have already crippled this country almost beyond repair have monetize yet another disaster of their own making, exiled fact-based reporting, causality and linear from the media entirely and used their craven Beltway collaborators to seal the deal.  

*For example, at the exact moment I am writing this, Mrs. Alan Greenspan is on MSNBC helping  notoriously unhinged gorgon, Ann Coulter, pimp her shitpile of a book(s) under the cover of a serious discussion about immigration.


The press conference scandal

The press conference scandal

by digby

“A campaign is as close as an adult can get to duplicating college life and Bush wasn’t just any old breezy frat brother with mediocre grades…He was proud of it. Gore elicited in us the childish urge to poke a stick in the eye of the smarty-pants. Bush elicited self-recognition.” 
“As he propped his rolled-up sleeves on the seat back in front of me, his body leaning into the conversation, he waggled his eyebrows up and down like Groucho Marx, mugging across the aisle” "There were Dove bars and designer water on demand and a bathroom stocked like Martha Stewart’s guest suite. Dinner at seven featured lobster ravioli.”
"Gore wanted the snacks to be environmentally and nutritionally correct, but somehow granola bars ended up giving way to Fruit Roll-Ups and the sandwiches came wrapped and looked long past their sell-by date. On a lucky day, someone would remember to buy supermarket doughnuts. By contrast, a typical day of food on Air Bush…consisted of five meals with access to a sixth, if you count grazing at a cocktail bar. Breakfast one was French toast, scrambled eggs, bacon… Reporter Margaret Carlson in her book "Anyone Can Grow Up: How George Bush and I Made It to the White House"
For the record, I think Hillary Clinton should do more press conferences. As a matter of fact, I think she should do them every single day, and she should let them on her plane and she should feed them Dove bars and lobster and hang around with them reading People Magazine and talking about the Real Housewives (the "girl version" of being George W. Bush) or whatever else will make them happy. It's not too much to ask.

As it happens President Obama angered the press with his lack of traditional access too:

Obama was stingy with newspaper interviews when he first came to the White House in 2009, but the well has nearly dried up since the 2010 midterm elections. He spoke with USA Today and the Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk during the campaign last year and had an off-the-record talk (later made public) with the Des Moines Register’s editorial board in October.

Each of those interviews had strategic value. USA Today is a national paper with the second-largest circulation (after the Wall Street Journal). The Virginia and Iowa papers are in states that were critical to Obama’s reelection chances. (Despite the rare interviews, the Register endorsed Mitt Romney for president; the Pilot made no endorsement).

But most of the nation’s biggest papers, whose reporters cover the White House every day, have remained on the outside looking in. The Washington Post landed its last on-the-record meeting with the president nearly four years ago, as did the Wall Street Journal; the New York Times last got to him in the fall of 2010. The Boston Globe has never had an interview while Obama was in office, nor has the Los Angeles Times, according to the Nexis database and the newspapers. Even Obama’s hometown papers, the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times, have been stiffed.

What’s more, despite a string of interviews with ethnic broadcasters, including Telemundo and Univision recently, Obama has never consented to an interview with any member of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, an organization consisting of 210 African-American-owned newspapers, said Robert W. Bogle, the organization’s former president. Obama and George W. Bush were the first presidents who haven’t done so since Franklin Roosevelt, notes Bogle, the chief executive of the Philadelphia Tribune.

The cold shoulder from the White House has led, predictably, to expressions of disappointment among newspaper journalists.

I don't know why these politicians refuse to do more press. It seems like it's just part of he job to me. But lets not pretend its all about about "getting information" ok?

Journalist Tim Fernholtz calls them chances for reporter showboating and doesn't think they're particularly illuminating. He also did something interesting. He went back to the last press conference with the political press corps (there have been more recent ones with black and Latino journalists which don't count apparently) to see what important questions were asked that couldn't have been asked in any other format.

“Do you think banning gun sales to people on the no-fly list would have prevented any of these massacres [including] San Bernardino?”

Is this a dumb question? Yes. US officials already said the perpetrators were not on any watch list the day before; Clinton had long endorsed preventing gun sales to people on the no-fly list.

Did Clinton answer it?
No. “I don’t know exactly what it would have or could have prevented.”

Did anyone follow up?

“Do you think the Fed is using the right criteria to assess the health of the job market? And is there anything else they should be doing? And are we ready for a rate increase?”

Is this a dumb question?
No. It’s an important one. Politicians don’t talk enough about the Federal Reserve.

Did Clinton answer it?
No. Most US politicians refuse to talk about the Fed, in a nod to the institution’s independence. Clinton is no different: “I’m not going to comment on their decision making.”

Did anyone follow up?

“[Are mass shootings] a mental health issue as well?”

Is this a dumb question. Yes.

Did Clinton answer it? Of course. “You’re absolutely right.”

Did anyone follow up?

“As a former secretary of state, are you confident enough in the system of checks and balances on that visa waiver program?”

Is this a dumb question? No. The potential for terrorists to take advantage of relaxed travel rules with friendly European countries is worrisome, and Clinton has relevant experience.

Did Clinton answer it?
Yes. “If you look at the kinds of crimes that were committed by this woman and her husband, or the 9/11 hijackers, visas are a problem,” she said. “And we have to look at that, see what we need to do to tighten up requirements, do better information-sharing with other countries.”

Did anyone follow up? No. But the Obama information would tighten the rules around visas the following month.

“Could you briefly summarize how you would pay for your proposal to create jobs in the country?”

Is this a dumb question? Yes.

Did Clinton answer it? No. “I can’t briefly summarize, but I will certainly send you a long list, and a lot of it is on my website.”

Did anyone follow up? No. It’s on her website.

“You mentioned combating ISIS online in your speech today. Have we become too sensitive to civil liberty arguments post-Snowden, given what we saw happened in [San Bernardino]?”

Is this a dumb question? No.

Did Clinton answer it? Kind of. She referred to the balancing act between liberty and security, before noting that terror groups “run multiple Twitter accounts… I don’t know that we would let that continue if we were dealing with a criminal network. Why should we let it continue if we’re dealing with a terrorist network?”

Did anyone follow up? No.

“Do you regret calling for gun control in the wake of the attack now knowing what you know about the terrorists?”

Is this a dumb question?
Yes. At that point, no new information had been revealed about how the terrorists had obtained their weapons.

Did Clinton answer it?
Yes. “Not at all. We don’t know how they got that arsenal inside their house.” Later, the public would learn the San Bernardino shooters used legally purchased AR-15 style rifles that they modified in violation of gun-safety laws.

Did anyone follow up? No.

“Madam secretary, do you still have confidence in the mayor in the city where you were born?”

Is this a dumb question? No. Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, a longtime Clinton ally, was embroiled in a scandal around his handling of a young black man murdered by police.

Did Clinton answer it?
Yes. “I do.”

Did anyone follow up?

So really, she shouldn't avoid them and I frankly don't see why she does. Just do it, Hillary. It will be fine.

Outrageous Empathy

What now strikes me most about trigger warnings is how small a request they are, in proportion to the backlash they incite. What is it about about this entirely free gesture of empathy that makes people so outraged?

- Kat Stoeffel, "Why I Stopped Rolling My Eyes at Trigger Warnings"

This week's featured posts are "Academic Freedom and Institutional Power at My Old School" about the University of Chicago's denunciation of trigger warnings and its affirmation of "controversial" speakers;  and "About the Foundation", which makes the case that the "scandal" of the Clinton Foundation has a lot less substance than you might think.

This week everybody was talking about immigration

Donald Trump appears to have finally found ten seconds to think about his immigration proposals. Wow, deporting 11 million people would be tough to do, wouldn't it? Who knew? (Well, just about everybody Trump debated in the primaries, to name a dozen or so.) Maybe he's rethinking it. Or maybe not. Watch this space.

You know who should be paying attention to this? Not just the people who voted for Trump in a primary because they wanted 11 million brown people rounded up and tossed out on their ears, but also the mainstream Republicans who were placated when Trump said he would appoint Supreme Court justices from a list of judges with sound conservative credentials. When it gets to be decision time, that promise won't mean anything either.

Slate's Jamelle Bouie makes an even stronger statement about Trump "outreach" to black voters than I did last week: It's really a dog whistle to white supremacists.

and trigger warnings

The University of Chicago, where I did my graduate work in the late 70s and early 80s, made the news this week when the Dean of Students sent a somewhat adversarial welcome-letter to the incoming freshman class, warning them not to expect any safe spaces on campus.

This whole notion of academic freedom threatened by over-sensitive students, who want to be educated without ever being challenged, and of brave U of C administrators standing up to them, is bogus. I challenge the Dean's underlying assumptions and relate some of my own experiences in "Academic Freedom and Institutional Power at My Old School".

and the national anthem

49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick has kind of a complicated racial heritage: He's a mixed race child (African/European) who was adopted and raised by white parents alongside their white children. In my judgment, he could pass for a white guy with a good tan.

Footballwise, he's a huge talent whose career has been relatively disappointing so far, kind of like Robert Griffin III or Cam Newton until he broke out last year. Five years from now, he could be in the Super Bowl or he could be selling insurance somewhere.

But none of that is why he made headlines this week. Friday night, before a preseason game against the Green Bay Packers, he refused to stand for the national anthem. Unlike Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas, who raised a furor by failing to appear sufficiently focused and respectful while the anthem played during a medal-award ceremony, Kaepernick actually intended to protest, saying afterward:

I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.

This aroused a bunch of anger against him, like fans burning his jersey. It's a fundamentally convoluted response: We hate this guy for speaking his mind because Freedom.

I doubt Kaepernick's disapproval will induce America to change its ways with regard to race, but maybe it will start a much-needed discussion about "The Star-Spangled Banner" and the flag-worshipping rituals at sporting events.

To my mind, beginning a sporting contest with the anthem (or with two anthems if a U.S.-based team plays one from Toronto or Vancouver) is a strange practice we would never start today if it weren't already traditional. We don't begin movies or plays or concerts with the national anthem, so why sports? There's nothing particularly patriotic about playing or watching sports. And if some terrorists or revolutionaries want to take time off from their plotting to root for the Cubs, I don't see the harm.

Personally, I stand respectfully when the anthem is played before a Nashua Silver Knights baseball game, but I'm doing it to avoid calling attention to myself, and I resent being forced to make a political statement before I can watch the game.

The Kaepernick controversy has also sparked some discussion about the anthem itself, particularly these lines from its third verse

No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave

which refer to the fact that the British encouraged American slaves to run away during the War of 1812, when the anthem was written. But Francis Scott Key is cheered by the fact that a lot of them died anyway. Go, USA!

Maybe we could just play ball, and skip all this nonsense.

and you might also be interested in

Incredibly, the WSJ could find no living member of any president's Council of Economic Advisers who supports Trump.

Last week's discussion of private prisons caused one of the commenters to point out an amazing article "My Four Months as a Private Prison Guard", which appeared a few months ago in Mother Jones. It's long and horrifying, but well worth the time and discomfort.

The article is a combination of an expose with a personalized Stanford prison experiment. Being a guard really does start to change the writer.

The other thing that comes through is the complete absence of any notion of rehabilitation. Literally no one in the story cares about the prisoners as people, or about returning them to society.

In Newsweek Kurt Eichenwald explores "Donald Trump's God Problem". Though more accurately, the problem doesn't belong to Trump, it belongs to the evangelical leaders -- like James Dobson   -- who not only support Trump, but who claim that their support is based on their Christianity.

The primary issue here is the credibility of evangelicalism, particularly as it relates to politics. For years, there has been a logic to the evangelists’ support of the Republican Party: Both held similar views on most social issues, and there was more public discussion by conservative candidates about how faith informed their policies. This year, that is not true. Instead, you have a man whose positions on important social issues have changed, whose faith is obviously shallow and who seems to know nothing about even the basics of evangelicalism, Christianity or the Bible. Mr. Dobson, if Donald Trump represents Christian values, those values mean nothing. By endorsing him, evangelists are creating the image that what matters to them is political influence, not the word of God.

Eichenwald could just as validly be addressing Jerry Falwell Jr., who called Trump "God's man to lead our great nation at this crucial crossroads in our history" and hallucinated "I’ve seen a man who honors his fiduciary responsibilities through his corporations." Or the lesser known but still influential theologian Wayne Grudem, who promotes Trump not as the lesser of evils, but as "a morally good choice" (setting off Amy Gannett, who I linked to two weeks ago).

I would argue that these power-corrupted leaders are not just "creating the image" that politics drives them, they are exposing the truth about themselves: Conservative politics is now a demonic spirit that possesses the body of evangelical Christianity. It needs to be cast out.

Van Jones explains the incarceration problem very simply and directly:

A lot of times people say, "If you don't want to do the time, don't do the crime." Really? Have you ever committed a crime? You've got more people who are doing drugs on college campuses, in yacht clubs, country clubs -- we all know that's going on. But the SWAT team never shows up there. The SWAT team shows up in the housing projects, where you've got poorer people doing fewer drugs, and those people go to prison.

But think about it: What if one of the times when you were breaking the law, when you had something illegal in your pocket, in your car, at your party, the police had kicked in those doors. Would you want to be known for the rest of your life based on what happened that night? That is what is happening to millions of people.

If rich folks kids get in trouble, they go to rehab. Poor folks kids get in trouble, they go to prison.

and let's close with a time trip

Take a flight over Rome during the reign of Constantine.


Sunday Morning Comin’ Down:  This Business We Call “Show” Edition

There were a lot of terrible people getting away with saying ridiculous things on teevee this Sunday, but I have to say, Chuck Todd's "Meet the Press" was almost literally unwatchable:  a complete, abject, ass-showing capitulation to the will of the Right and the Manifesto of Both Siderism.

And this short clip of Chuck Todd I snipped from a 70 minute interview he did on "The Moment" back in June of 2015 explains why:

See, the confusion comes when people mistake Chuck Todd for a journalist.

But Chuck Todd is not a journalist.

Chuck Todd is an entertainer, as are most of the people you see dancing for paychecks at the Sunday Mouse Circus.  They are due no more deference as journalists or experts than the guy playing the title role in a high school production of "Jesus Christ, Superstar" deserves to be treated as the risen Lord.  Also, they are due no more First Amendment "free press" consideration for the product they are selling than Barnum, Bailey and his sister, Sue.

Chuck does not "interview" people, or assemble panels of experts to try to inform his audience -- that is what journalists do.  As an  entertainer, Chuck and the producers and executives who order him around cast various other performers in predetermined roles on his teevee show. So should you stumble across the excruciating sight of Chuck Todd pretending to be a journalist seated across the table from Reince Priebus pretending to have an endoskeleton, understand that you are not watching two seasoned professionals at the apex of the fields of journalism and politics respectively: you are watching two drunks thespians leaning on each other in public.

Of course, no matter what, the Prime Directive of the Beltway media is to defend the Both Siderist narrative.  It is the Hive Queen which must be protected at all costs.

So you see the problem?  Now that Trump and his Trumpshirts have come roaring out of the Konservative Klan Kloset where the GOP has kept it's base stashed for decades (right where the dirty Liberals have been telling you they were all along), it is impossible for anyone with a shred of integrity or a functional conscience to go on with this Both Siderist farce.

Fortunately, the forward-looking geniuses at Comcast/NBC didn't hire someone to as their lead rodeo clown on "Meet the Press" with a shred of integrity or a functional conscience.  Instead, they hired Chuck Todd, who damn well knows that his real job is to get the Beltway Both Siderist gravy train back on the fucking tracks immediately.

And key to this strategy is to make sure at least one seat on "Meet the Press" (and usually more) is held open for flat-out, bold-face wingnut talking point dispensing machines like Hugh Hewitt.  And because like most conservative pundits, Hugh Hewitt does not feel normal, human emotions like shame or guilt, he is quite capable of pivoting directly from a question about Trump and immigration, to a soliloquy on how Bill and Hillary Clinton are both criminals, and that their arrest and trial are just around the corner:
CHUCK TODD: Has he done damage on immigration or not, Hugh?

HUGH HEWITT: No, I think he's helped himself a lot by appearing to bring more humanity to his position, especially with regards to families. It was a terrible two weeks. I think what we will hear, eight letters, F-A-R-A-F-C-P-A. Foreign Agent Registration Act, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The Clinton Foundation is in trouble, Doug Bannon. Even the former President is in trouble on these two very complex, very applicable laws.
And about the inconvenient fact that Donald Trump just picked the publisher of the most nakedly racist, lied-riddled rag in the country?
HUGH HEWITT: But I will say this, for every Steve Bannon and Breitbart and there is a David Brock and Media Matters; for every Ann Coulter, there's a Michael Moore; for every single Milo there's a Maher. And so, there's a reflection--

CHUCK TODD: I think we as discussed, we may be one oppo drop away from Bannon not being a part of this campaign.

HUGH HEWITT: Very possibly. I will point out, though, that Secretary Clinton carries more baggage than Marley's ghost--

CHUCK TODD:Well I want to transition to that--

HUGH HEWITT: And one of those is Sidney Blumenthal. So if you want to talk about toxic people following around in the wake of a candidate, let's hone in on Sidney Blumenthal and the Clinton gang from the '90s, more baggage than Marley's ghost. I mean, that's why she--
Of course, since the mission this week was to get the Both Sides gravy train back on track, Chuck Todd quickly scuttled away from Donald the Bigot to balance out the Beltway scales with Fake Clinton Foundation Scandal:
ANDREA MITCHELL: So it is going to be a slow wind down, it's not going to be wound down, by the time if she's elected and takes over.

HUGH HEWITT:But that's not an excuse for breaking the law.

ANDREA MITCHELL: I'm not saying that's an excuse.

JOY-ANN REID:What law was broken?

ANDREA MITCHELL:There is no law.

HUGH HEWITT: The quo and quid pro quo is the meeting and you cannot set up meetings on behalf of--
Of course if you care even a little bit about this future of this country, watching this freak show can be 57 different kinds of maddening, especially if you supplement Hugh Hewitt's abbreviated lies on "Meet the Press" with a longer, unabridged version of those same lies on "AM Joy" that same day. 

And while it was entertaining to see Mr. Hewitt very nearly side-eyed to death by the rest of the panel, since Mr. Hewitt does not feel human emotions like remorse or guilt, he was unperturbed as he ran though his a  flat-out, Soviet-style denial that anything untoward or racist had ever gone on in the Republican Party during the entire time he had been a member (since 1968) and -- once again -- Breitbart's Steve Bannon running the Trump campaign is exactly the same as Media Matters, Ann Coulter is exactly the same as Michael Moore, and also too, Sidney Blumenthal!  (h/t Crooks and Liars):

But if you are frustrated or saddened by this wretched spectacle because you are worried that it will corrupt national political journalism beyond repair, well I have some good news, and I have some bad news.

Good news, you are not watching the death of honest national political journalism because, bad news, 
honest national political journalism died years ago.  What you are watching is a puppet show, scripted and staged to look like "news" by morally bankrupt bean counters who you will never see on camera, for the purpose of pulling the highest ratings possible while protecting the only asset the Beltway has left: its holy and inviolable dogma of Both Sides.

Which is why, in the end, Robert Costa was tapped to bring everyone back to where this miserable shitwagon was headed all along:

ROBERT COSTA:  You got 75 days left. Is it about the Clinton campaign and the foundation or is it about the Alt Right and Trump?

CHUCK TODD: Great closing point, we'll pause it there.

ANDREA MITCHELL: A pox on both your house.

CHUCK TODD:  There it is...
There is is indeed.

The “Deep Story” by @BloggersRUs

The "Deep Story"

by Tom Sullivan

You are patiently standing in the middle of a long line stretching toward the horizon, where the American Dream awaits. But as you wait, you see people cutting in line ahead of you. Many of these line-cutters are black—beneficiaries of affirmative action or welfare. Some are career-driven women pushing into jobs they never had before. Then you see immigrants, Mexicans, Somalis, the Syrian refugees yet to come. As you wait in this unmoving line, you're being asked to feel sorry for them all. You have a good heart. But who is deciding who you should feel compassion for? Then you see President Barack Hussein Obama waving the line-cutters forward. He's on their side. In fact, isn't he a line-cutter too? How did this fatherless black guy pay for Harvard? As you wait your turn, Obama is using the money in your pocket to help the line-cutters. He and his liberal backers have removed the shame from taking. The government has become an instrument for redistributing your money to the undeserving. It's not your government anymore; it's theirs.
Arlie Hochschild crafted that narrative after spending years among poor, white T-party members in Louisiana. "You read my mind," one of his interviewees told him. It's their truthiness, their "feels-as-if-it's-true" story of how and why Real Americans like themselves are struggling. For many, it is as if they are strangers in their own land, Hochschild writes at Mother Jones. (You need to read this.)

They feel shame at seeing their jobs and livelihoods slip away. They feel looked down on by the "liberal elite." For the last-place averse, the privilege they themselves once had of having Others to look down on has evaporated with their jobs. Even the insurance salesperson Hochschild got to know is uneasy about her own relative comfort. That too could easily slip away.

Donald Trump offers them a way out or at least around seeing themselves as untouchables should circumstances force them to take government assistance. Since the 1960s, their incomes have gone flat, their marriages are in ruins, and they spend more time watching TV and sleeping. Conservative political scientist Charles Murray explains it as a loss of morals. Hochschild disagrees. That's not a loss of morals, but a loss of morale:

Trump, the King of Shame, has covertly come to the rescue. He has shamed virtually every line-cutting group in the Deep Story—women, people of color, the disabled, immigrants, refugees. But he's hardly uttered a single bad word about unemployment insurance, food stamps, or Medicaid, or what the tea party calls "big government handouts," for anyone—including blue-collar white men.

In this feint, Trump solves a white male problem of pride. Benefits? If you need them, okay. He masculinizes it. You can be "high energy" macho—and yet may need to apply for a government benefit. As one auto mechanic told me, "Why not? Trump's for that. If you use food stamps because you're working a low-wage job, you don't want someone looking down their nose at you." A lady at an after-church lunch said, "If you have a young dad who's working full time but can't make it, if you're an American-born worker, can't make it, and not having a slew of kids, okay. For any conservative, that is fine."

For Real Americans like me, but not for thee. Trump has presented them with a smorgasbord of Others to look down upon. And in so doing making Real America feel great again. Up against the wall, Deadbeat Other.

Two other treatments of this topic came to mind. In "The Great Derangement," the often sardonic Matt Taibbi was surprising in the sensitivity with which he treated a woman he'd befriended while undercover at an evangelical church in Texas. As much as anyone else, he found, people he met (IIRC, can't find my copy) were struggling for ways to process their pain. Annabel Park interviewed a father and son in Bakersville, NC for A Story of America. The preview clip ends [timestamp 4:20] with with the son wondering whether because of the stigma he himself attaches to government aid neighbors would look down on him if he accepted disability for his injured arm. This in a tiny town where there is no work anyway. He starts to condemn "the few out there" who are undeserving but catches himself. "Now that I think about it, I'm actually judging people that I don't really know."

That is a key takeaway. The majority of Trump's support as Ryan Lizza reported is among people with “limited interactions with racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants, and college graduates," according to economist Jonathan Rothwell:

This analysis provides clear evidence that those who view Trump favorably are disproportionately living in racially and culturally isolated zip codes and commuting zones. Holding other factors constant, support for Trump is highly elevated in areas with few college graduates, far from the Mexican border, and in neighborhoods that stand out within the commuting zone for being white, segregated enclaves, with little exposure to blacks, Asians, and Hispanics.
It's a lot harder to hate faceless groups than it is people whose stories you actually know.



I'm excited about the proposal to add a

QOTD: who else?

QOTD: who else?

by digby

Trump personally tweeted out this racist bilgewater to his millions of followers

Even in the 1970s the following was considered straight up racist. In fact, non-racists did not talk this way. Ever.

"Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day. … I think that the guy is lazy. And it’s probably not his fault, because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is, I believe that. It’s not anything they can control." Trump at first denied the remarks, but later said in a 1997 Playboy interview that "the stuff O’Donnell wrote about me is probably true."

There's a long list of his racist statements and actions over the years.  Not that it isn't obvious.  He's a throwback. He sounds like someone who grew up in the 1920s.

“Well, somebody’s doing the raping ...”

"Well, somebody's doing the raping ..."

by digby

A new poll by the Pew Research Center shows that 67 percent of Americans think illegal immigrants are more likely than citizens to commit serious crimes, data that may hearten Donald Trump given the Republican presidential nominee’s tough stance on illegal immigration.

The Republican National Convention in Cleveland earlier this summer featured speeches by parents whose children were killed by illegal immigrants. 

It just stands to reason that all those horrible immigrants are criminals because it's all you ever hear about. It's wrong, of course:

—"Foreign-born individuals exhibit remarkably low levels of involvement in crime across their life course." (Bianca Bersani, University of Massachusetts, 2014. Published in Justice Quarterly.)

— "There’s essentially no correlation between immigrants and violent crime." (Jörg Spenkuch, Northwestern University, 2014. Published by the university.) He did find a small correlation between immigration and property crime, but only a slight one.

— "mmigrants are underrepresented in California prisons compared to their representation in the overall population. In fact, U.S.-born adult men are incarcerated at a rate over two-and-a-half times greater than that of foreign-born men." (Public Policy Institute of California, 2008.)

— "[D]ata from the census and a wide range of other empirical studies show that for every ethnic group without exception, incarceration rates among young men are lowest for immigrants, even those who are the least educated. This holds true especially for the Mexicans, Salvadorans and Guatemalans, who make up the bulk of the undocumented population." (Ruben Rumbaut, University of California, 2008. Published by the Police Foundation.)

— "Analyses of data collected from four Southwest states and the U.S. Census show that the perceived size of the undocumented immigrant population, more so than the actual size of the immigrant population and economic conditions, is positively associated with perceptions of undocumented immigrants as a criminal threat." (Xia Wang, Arizona State University, 2014. Published in Criminology.)

In case you were wondering about the latest on Trump's immigration "policy":
His campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, said immigrants who entered the country illegally would likely first have to return home before applying through legal channels. A so-called touchback provision was floated during the 2007 Senate immigration reform debate.

“We need to have a fair and humane way of addressing the fact that 11 million — or we don’t even know the number — 11 million, or so it’s estimated, illegal immigrants live among us,” Conway told Chris Wallace, the host of “Fox News Sunday.”

“What he has said is no legalization and no amnesty,” she said of Trump’s immigration stance. “He also said this week, Chris, if you go back to your home country, and if you’d like to come back to the United States as an immigrant, you need to apply through the many different channels that allow people to apply for citizenship or entry into the United States legally.”

Here's a translation: "Yes Trump wants to deport millions of people, including children, but we know it's controversial so we're speaking gobbldygook in order to allow some voters to lie to themselves about what they're voting for."


Pence and trade and Trump’s national pride

Pence and trade and Trump's national pride

by digby

So I watched a program on CNN this week-end about the Carrier plant leaving Indiana for Mexico and it was very sad. More than a thousand people lost their jobs and they all seem to think they will not ever find another one like it. Trump has talked a lot about this on the trail, blaming NAFTA and Obama and Clinton for the job losses and declaring that he would immediately hit any manufacturer with huge tariffs who tried to do that which would cow them into staying in the future. The workers in the story all believed him.

Somebody really ought to ask Trump and his running mate about this (Which they probably will since it was flagged for the media by the DNC):

As Donald Trump’s running mate, Gov. Mike Pence is campaigning for a man who has promised to penalize companies that ship jobs overseas.

But since Pence became governor in 2013, the state has awarded millions of dollars in economic development incentives to companies that have moved production to foreign countries such as Mexico and China. Those production shifts have cost thousands of Hoosiers their jobs during Pence’s time in office.

An IndyStar analysis found that the Indiana Economic Development Corporation — which Pence leads — has approved $24 million in incentives to 10 companies that sent work to foreign countries. Of those incentives, nearly $8.7 million has been paid out so far.

During that same period, those companies terminated or announced layoffs of more than 3,800 Hoosier workers while shifting production to other countries, where labor tends to be far less expensive.

The state has clawed back or put a hold on some or all of the incentives in four of those cases, returning $746,000 in taxpayer subsidies. But in the other six cases, the companies faced no consequences.

The primary reason: The job creation and retention requirements in the state’s incentive agreements are usually narrowly tailored to a single facility, leaving workers at other sites owned by the same company vulnerable to offshoring.

Take, for example, handbag maker Vera Bradley. The company was approved in December 2014 for a $1.75 million, 10-year tax break to assist with a $26.6 million expansion of its headquarters and distribution center in Roanoke, near Fort Wayne. In exchange, the company agreed to retain 567 employees and add 128 jobs by the end of 2017.

But the following year, the company closed its New Haven design center and moved production to factories in Asia to save money. The factory’s 250 employees, who worked just 15 miles from the Roanoke headquarters, lost their jobs.

Vera Bradley has claimed about $118,000 in tax credits so far and remains in compliance with its state incentive agreement, said Abby Gras, an IEDC spokeswoman, in an email. The company now employs slightly more than 600 workers in Roanoke, a spokeswoman for the company said. That’s a net loss of more than 200 jobs across the company’s Fort Wayne area operations.

Pence, who has been campaigning for Trump across the country since accepting the Republican vice presidential nomination in July, did not respond to interview requests for this story left with his office and campaign staff.

But his commerce secretary, Victor Smith, sent a statement to IndyStar defending the state’s economic development record and noting that 150,000 jobs have been added since Pence took office.

Carrier was among those companies that received incentive money although Pence got the company to pay it back once the video of the layoff being announced (which got Trump all excited) went viral. But there are a bunch of other companies in Indiana which have done the same and pocketed the cash.

The point is that this problem is not confined to the trade deals or to any politician. It's much bigger than that. It's easy to take a shot at government for failing to protect workers, and there's plenty of blame there, but we are dealing with a complicated problem with a lot of moving parts (so to speak...)

Meanwhile, the Republicans are pulling the wool over people's eyes as usual:

Pence has said in the past he supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Trump opposes. More recently, Pence says he would support renegotiating trade agreements with Trump in the White House because he believes Trump could negotiate better deals.

Political observers say Pence’s actions as governor raise new questions about the true extent of his support for Trump’s trade policies.

“To the extent that there is any daylight between them, one has to wonder what Mike Pence’s true thoughts are,” said Robert Dion, a political scientist at the University of Evansville. “In the event they disagree, you have to wonder, has Mike Pence changed his position or is he simply doing what a VP nominee must do to be part of a national ticket? That’s the million dollar question.”

The seemingly different approaches to companies that offshore jobs are also a study in what kind of constituency each candidate appeals to, Dion said.

“The real thing you’re getting at is the gulf between the chamber of commerce Republican crowd and the populist appeal of Trump,” Dion said. “What Trump is speaking to is that populist anger and frustration. I think what the evidence shows is that Mike Pence — like a lot of Republican governors and some Democrats have done — has worked with the chamber of commerce and business leaders. That’s where the gulf is at.”

Oddly, the one area in which Trump is sincere is his belief that the rest of the world is laughing at Americans because of our allegedly terrible trade deals. But keep in mind that his solution is to stick huge tariffs on American companies that manufacture overseas and drive wages down in the US to keep prices low so they can "compete." It's a huge mistake to believe this has something to do with the plight of the American worker. This has to do with "national pride" which isn't the same thing at all.

Friends, Romans, Alt-right countrymen ...

Friends, Romans, Alt-right countrymen ...

by digby

In the New York Times today there's a really fascinating article about Trump's rhetoric. It compares him to Shakespeare's Caesar and Mark Antony even --- his appeals to the common man, "I am your voice" etc, etc. Great stuff.

But here's where it gets interesting:

The quality to which every anti-rhetorician aspires is authenticity. But there is a big difference between proclaiming your authenticity and actually being true to yourself and the facts. So let me use a different term: authenticism, for the philosophical and rhetorical strategy of emphasizing the “authentic” above all.

Modern authenticism began as a reaction to the Enlightenment program to recast language to conform to the notion of Reason. Immanuel Kant’s friend Johann Georg Hamann was one of the first to make the case that, if you take ideas and words out of their behavioral and cultural context, they lose meaning and relevance. A purely rationalist language would no longer be able to express community or faith. Hamann’s contemporary, the philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder, made the critical link between language, culture and nationhood, and soon authenticity of language became associated with another product of Enlightenment thought: nationalism.

These ideas entered European thought through a chain of influence that stretched from Hegel to Kierkegaard to Nietzsche. By the early 20th century, Martin Heidegger was distinguishing not just between authentic and inauthentic modes of being, but between authentic and inauthentic language.
“Once you heard the voice of a man, and that voice knocked at your hearts, it wakened you, and you followed that voice.” That was Adolf Hitler, the man whom Heidegger would praise for helping the German people rediscover their authentic essence, addressing government and Nazi party leaders in September 1936. According to Hitler, the miraculous appearance of the “voice” — by which he meant the profound bond between himself and his audience that let him express their deepest feelings — allowed ordinary men and women, who were “wavering, discouraged, fearful,” to unite as a Volk, or national community. It was at once a political and a personal “voice” that, thanks to the invention of radio, could reach out not just to audiences at political rallies, but into any living room.

Authenticism was banished to the fringes of politics after World War II and the defeat of European fascism. Technocratic policy-making delivered relative prosperity and security for the majority, and many voters found the rationalist rhetoric of mainstream politicians credible. Authenticism does not even rate a mention in George Orwell’s landmark 1946 essay “Politics and the English Language.” But the uncertainty and division that have followed the global crash, mass migration and the West’s unhappy wars in the Middle East have given it a new opportunity. 

Today’s authenticists come in many different guises, from pure anti-politicians like Mr. Trump and Italy’s Beppe Grillo to mainstream mavericks as diverse as Britain’s Boris Johnson and Ted Cruz. None of them are Hitlerian in intent, but nationalism typically looms large (“Make America Great Again!”), as does the explicit or implicit contrast between the chosen community and a dangerous or unacceptable “other,” which in 2016 almost always means elites and foreign immigrants.
The "blue-collar billionaire" schtick sounds ridiculous to a lot of us (most of us I hope) but it does have resonance with millions. And as I've been writing, Trump is not just a garden variety racist demagogue in the mode of George Wallace. His nationalism isn't isolationist --- it's aggressive militarism. He doesn't care about continuing the post-war security consensus to be sure. Alliances are fine as long as they pay protection and he feels like they "deserve" it.  He's got some other ideas. He will make America great again by making the world "respect" us again. Trump is all abut dominance. And anyone who doesn't see what he means by that is being naive.

One little side-note about this piece is his observation that Trump's "authenticism" is especially potent in comparison to the "cerebral, calculating" Clinton, a perfect example of the "technocratic, policy-making" that's going out of fashion.

Of course, it must be noted, as Todd Gitlin does here:

It's also interesting that the NY Times piece left out President Obama, widely considered to be one of America's great presidential orators who is also very cerebral and possibly even somewhat calculating (although that's a gender freighted term) and for similar reasons that Clinton might be --- Obama cannot be too emotional because of the racist assumptions about angry black men. Similarly, Clinton cannot be too emotional because of the sexist assumptions about hysterical women. These are not necessarily determining factors, but they do exist, so the analysis is a little bit two-dimensional. Still, fascinating stuff.


 1 2 3 >  Last ›