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Politics and Reality Radio with Joshua Holland: Dean Baker: Yes, the Economy Is Rigged and digby

Politics and Reality Radio: Digby on the Trumpocalypse; Dean Baker: Yes, the Economy Is Rigged

with Joshua Holland

This week, Digby talks about what went wrong in 2016, what our future under the Trump regime may look like and how the media isn't prepared to hold the first aggressively post-truth president's feet to the fire.

Then we're joined by Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, to talk about his new book, Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer.

Alabama Shakes: "Hold On"
Sad Clown with a Golden Voice: "Royals"
En Vogue: "Prayer"


Today In Both Sides Do It: Van Jones

From Mediaite:
Elitism Makes Democrats ‘Disrespectful’: Van Jones Talks Post-Election Unity

“A lot of liberals think that all of Trump voters are part of the alt-right, neo-Nazi camp, which is not true,” Jones said. He explained that while many Trump voters were “not delighted” by some of Trump’s rhetoric, they had “other hurts” that compelled them to vote for the mogul over the former Secretary of State.

Jones moved on to say that both major political parties have blind spots. Democrats, he said, can be elitist and ignore middle-American “red state voters.” He stated that many liberals think conservatives are dumb, which “makes that party disrespectful.”

The Republicans’ blind spot is racial, said Jones. He explained that the party ignores the issues of people of color by promoting the idea of “color-blind meritocracy.”
The Beltway appeasement dollar remains the most reliable Beltway dollar of all.


Guns mattered

Guns mattered

by digby

I wrote about the NRA for Salon this morning:

Sixteen years ago, when Al Gore won the popular vote but was denied the presidency due to the anachronism known as the Electoral College, Democrats tried to figure out how they could prevent such a weird anomalous result from happening again. As early as the day after the election, the New York Times was already laying the groundwork for what would become seen as the reason for Gore’s failure (although it would be many weeks before the result of that contested election became clear).

Vice President Gore had failed to spend enough time in his home state of Tennessee, it was said, opting instead to put resources into other tossup states like Michigan and Wisconsin. But the real reason he lost was a grand geographical shift:

While Tennessee has moved to the right in national politics, Mr. Gore has moved to the left since his days as a congressman, particularly on issues like abortion and gun control that have put him at odds with many Southern voters.
Two years later, when The New Republic’s Noam Scheiber addressed the question again, conventional wisdom was sealed. Scheiber reported that on the eve of the 2000 Democratic convention the Gore team had realized they had a big problem:
“The entire target of communication was Pennsylvania, western Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa. That’s the world Gore was trying to reach,” [pollster Stan] Greenberg recalls. Since these areas were chock-full of gun-toting union members, Team Gore decided that gun control would hurt the vice president in the states he needed most.
After the election, the Gore campaign’s hunch became Democratic gospel. Sure, Gore had won the Rust Belt battleground states, but the Democrats had lost their third straight bid to retake Congress — and many in the party believed gun control was to blame. In particular, they pointed to the election’s regional skew. In famously anti-gun California, the Dems knocked off three incumbents. But throughout the rest of the country, they defeated only one. “Of all the issues,” insists one senior Democratic congressman, gun control “had the greatest net [negative] effect.”

That “regional skew” is a real problem. By 2004 candidate John Kerry was running around in a hunting vest with a gun slung over his shoulder bragging about always eating what he killed. Not that it did him any good. The fact that he was against the sale of assault-style weapons was assumed to have been the kiss of death when those white rural voters rejected him.

The need to move away from “culture war” issues like gun control, abortion and marriage equality was considered gospel during that period in the Democratic wilderness. Then came the Iraq war and Hurricane Katrina and a teetering economy that caught up to the Republicans, and Democrats won big in 2008.The assumption then was that Barack Obama had managed to put together a new Democratic coalition that was not dependent on those rural whites who feared the loss of their guns so much they would vote against anyone who favored common-sense gun safety regulation.

We saw Democrats find their voices on the issue after a horrific spate of mass killings, particularly the horrifying Newtown tragedy, in which classrooms full of tiny children were mowed down by a disturbed young man with a semi-automatic weapon. It became a defining cause of the party, with President Obama taking the lead in pushing the issue and elected Democrats holding an unprecedented sit-in on Capitol Hill last spring to protest GOP inaction on guns.

During the Bush years as well as the Obama years, the National Rifle Association was as active as ever. In 2000 when Bush finally prevailed, they were happy to help push the idea that his support for their cause was the defining issue of the election. The organization had bragged that it would be working out of President Bush’s office in the White House and NRA influence grew throughout his tenure as the group put money and organizing behind gun-friendly politicians at all levels of government.

But perversely or otherwise, the NRA actually experiences more growth when a Democrat is in the White House, and has become more powerful than ever during the Obama years. As the gun-tracking news organization called the Trace points out in this article, the NRA did this with a “populist” P.R. approach that perfectly dovetailed with Donald Trump’s anti-establishment campaign. One might even suggest that Trump stole a lot of his shtick from the NRA.

In 2008, the NRA’s visionary leader Wayne LaPierre declared war on establishment elites saying that they “believe the same elite conceit — you shouldn’t protect yourself. Government should. But we know there’s a little problem with that. They don’t give a damn about you!” The Trace reported:

Four years later, LaPierre expanded on the threats the elite posed to encompass free speech, religious liberty, even the ability of people to start small businesses or choose for themselves what kind of health care they want. Drug dealing illegal immigrants were being allowed to pour over the Southern border, he railed. Criminals in big cities were free to prey on innocents because judges were so lenient. “Not our issues, some might say.” He paused, and then countered: “Oh, but they are.”

In fact, the NRA has been pushing an anti-establishment message in one form or another since the mid-’90s. When Trump came along, LaPierre understood that unlike the patrician Mitt Romney, Trump’s sometime apostasy on guns would be outweighed by his ability to sell pitchfork-wielding populism and thinly-veiled calls for vigilantism. So the NRA went all in for Trump and spent millions on ads bashing Hillary Clinton in places like Columbus, Ohio; Greensboro, North Carolina; and Scranton, Pennsylvania. (I wrote about their first ad here.) According to the Center for Public Integrity, nearly one out of 20 TV ads in Pennsylvania was paid for by the NRA, and the group ran nearly 15,000 spots in the crucial swing states that Trump narrowly won, deciding the election.

LaPierre has released a new video, taking a victory lap in which he fatuously declares, “Our time is now. This is our historic moment to go on offense.” First on the agenda is demanding that the federal government enforce “concealed-carry reciprocity,” in which states would have to recognize permits to carry concealed weapons issued by other states, as if they were as benign as driver’s licenses. So much for federalism.

Most election postmortems have concluded that Democrats failed with non-college educated and rural white voters this time because of their economic message rather than guns or other culture-war issues. But perhaps that’s just the other side of the same coin. LaPierre and the NRA have a powerful understanding of what moves this constituency and they’ve been moving it in their direction for many years. The NRA has been selling anti-establishment Trumpism long before Trump came on to the scene. It’s Wayne LaPierre’s win as much as Donald Trump’s.


News War

No Sift next week. The next new articles will appear December 19.

If the president of the United States declares war on journalism, journalists are not obliged to just record his words and publish them. They are obliged to take a side – the side of freedom.

- Dan Gillmor, "Trump, Free Speech, and Why Journalists Must Be Activists"
November, 2016

This week's featured posts are "Fake news is like Jessica Rabbit" and "No facts? What does that mean?"

I'm cancelling the December 12 Sift because I'm traveling this week. If you're anywhere near Palo Alto this Sunday, I'll be speaking at the UU church there at 9:30 and 11 on the topic "Season of Darkness, Season of Hope". It's about how the symbolism of the Winter Solstice might apply to our dark political times.

This week everybody was talking about China

One of the scary things about Donald Trump as president is that when he causes an international incident, everybody's first thought is "Did he mean to do that?" Because it's entirely plausible that he just didn't think about it; he so often appears not to think about the consequences of what he does.

This time, though, in spite of Trump and numerous spokespeople portraying his phone conversation with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen as no big deal, it looks like it really was an attempt to begin his relationship with China with a shot across the bow. He followed up Sunday with a pair of aggressive tweets:

Did China ask us if it was OK to devalue their currency (making it hard for our companies to compete), heavily tax our products going into their country (the U.S. doesn't tax them) or to build a massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea? I don't think so!

Actually the U.S. does tax Chinese imports, but since there are no facts anymore, who cares?

The WaPo summarizes why the call was such a big deal to the Chinese. Vox has a general exploration of Trump's foreign policy.

and those manufacturing jobs at Carrier

One of the interesting things to watch in the early days of the Trump administration will be which conservatives stick to their previous principles, and which ones think it's fine for Trump to do things they would have condemned Obama for.

In a nutshell, the deal Trump and Pence worked out to keep some Carrier jobs in Indiana while letting others move to Mexico is not at all the kind of thing he was describing during the campaign, and also counter to the usual Republican free-market principles.

During the campaign, Trump specifically called out Carrier's plan to close a plant in Indianapolis and open one in Mexico. He made it sound like he would get tough with businesses like that, threatening them with tariffs until they knuckled under. Well, that's not at all what happened. Carrier got at least $7 million in Indiana tax breaks. (Pence is still governor, remember?) Plus, who knows what else its parent company, United Technologies, was promised in terms of its defense businesses? In exchange, they agreed not to move as many jobs as they had planned, at least not right away.

Bernie Sanders wrote that the people whose jobs were saved should be happy, but "the rest of our nation’s workers should be very nervous." In essence, the deal establishes that corporations can extort goodies from Trump by threatening to move.

Trump has endangered the jobs of workers who were previously safe in the United States. Why? Because he has signaled to every corporation in America that they can threaten to offshore jobs in exchange for business-friendly tax benefits and incentives. Even corporations that weren’t thinking of offshoring jobs will most probably be reevaluating their stance this morning. And who would pay for the high cost for tax cuts that go to the richest businessmen in America? The working class of America.

OK, you didn't really expect Bernie to side with Trump. But a number of conservatives also raised their voices against the deal, for a different reason: It's exactly the kind of "industrial policy" they hate when Democrats try it. Sarah Palin called it "crony capitalism".  National Review called it "a rejection of economic reality".

and the PizzaGate shooting

I had the bad timing to write a somewhat whimsical piece about fake news at the same time that fake news was having a serious consequence: A guy armed with an assault rifle walked into a D.C. pizza place and started shooting, because he was "investigating" a fake-news story that "Hillary Clinton and her campaign chief were running a child sex ring from the restaurant’s backrooms". Because that's so incredibly plausible, I guess.

A sidebar on that story: So a guy believes a ridiculous piece of fake news, takes an assault rifle into a crowded restaurant and fires. Police take him into custody without finding it necessary to kill him first.

He's white, right? How did I know?

and Trump's cabinet picks

More announcements from the High Castle (a.k.a. Trump Tower).

Mattis at Defense. I can't decide whether to be glass-half-empty or glass-half-full about General James Mattis for Secretary of Defense. On the downside, it's never good to have a SecDef whose nickname is "Mad Dog". That Trump compares him to General Patton (from World War II, or maybe from the George C. Scott movie) also makes me uneasy: Patton was a tactical genius who was also a political and interpersonal loose cannon. He did well for us in World War II largely because wise, unflappable men like Omar Bradley, Dwight Eisenhower, and George Marshall stood between him and the president, who was the masterful Franklin Roosevelt. Show me anybody in the Trump administration like those guys, and I'll feel a lot better about having another Patton.

On the upside, he is a real general who actually knows something about military affairs. He didn't just play a general on TV or give a bunch of defense-related speeches or something. People who know their fields are rarities in the Trump cabinet, so I don't want to complain too much. Also, he apparently told Trump that torture doesn't work very well, and he wants to preserve the Iran nuclear deal, so he gets credit for that.

On the downside, he pairs with National Security Advisor (and former General) Michael Flynn to virtually eliminate civilian oversight of the military. (A third general is rumored to be Trump's choice to head Homeland Security.) By law, a general has be out of the military for seven years before taking the SecDef job, a provision that Congress would have to waive for Mattis. That opens his nomination to filibuster.

Mnuchin at Treasury. I'm trying to imagine the response if President Hillary Clinton had nominated a hedge-fund founder and former Goldman Sachs partner, who made billions off the housing crisis. Way to drain the swamp, dude.

and the protesters won one

The Army announced that it won't allow the Dakota Access Pipeline to go under a dammed section of the Missouri River. Alternate routes are being explored.

and the ongoing corruption issue

The NYT illustrates the problems in a series of circular diagrams that include both government agencies and Trump business interests. The gist is that Trump will frequently be in the position of deciding as president whether he should make more or less money.

Trump's business empire, and its dealings in foreign countries and with foreign governments, seems to set up clear violations of the Emoluments Clause, a part of the Constitution that you never hear about because no president previously thought he could get away with violating it:

So, for example, any loan the Trump Organization gets from the Bank of China would need to be examined to make sure its terms aren't more favorable than it might have gotten if Donald Trump weren't president. Otherwise the deal might include a  gift, which the Clause bans. Richard Painter, who was the chief ethics lawyer in the George W. Bush White House, elaborates:

Even absent a quid pro quo, the Emoluments Clause bans payments to an American public official from foreign governments. Yet they will arise whenever foreign diplomats stay in Trump hotels at their governments’ expense; whenever parties are organized by foreign governments in Trump hotels (Bahrain just announced such a party in a Trump hotel this week); whenever loans are made to the company by the Bank of China or any other foreign-government-owned bank; whenever rent is paid by companies controlled by foreign governments with offices in Trump buildings; and whenever there is any other arrangement whereby foreign government money goes into the president’s businesses.

However, think about how to enforce this, if Congress decides to let it slide. Conceivably a court could step in, but courts can't just take something up because it sounds wrong. Someone has to come to court claiming to have suffered an injury that the court has the power to correct. (That's what's meant by the legal term standing. You have to have standing before you can sue.)

Who could do that? Maybe a competing business that suffers from foreign-government favoritism towards the Trump Organization? Law professor Jonathan H. Adler doesn't even offer that possibility:

the underlying controversy is almost certainly non-justiciable. It is difficult to conceive of a scenario in which someone would have standing to challenge Trump’s arrangements, and even harder to think what sort of remedy could be ordered by a court.

And Painter agrees:

The only remedy for a serious violation of the Emoluments Clause is impeachment.

and you might also be interested in

As absentee and provisional ballots get counted in various states, Hillary Clinton's lead in the national popular vote continues to grow: currently more than 2.6 million votes, or 2%.

One thing this means is that the polls were not actually that far off. Going into election day, most pollsters were called for a 3-4% margin. She also did not run much behind Obama's 2012 pace, when he won by 3.9%.

Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin are putting together a bipartisan effort to protect the DREAMers from deportation. We'll see if Graham is by himself on this, or if a few other Republicans (Flake? McCain?) are willing to join. I have a hard time picturing the House backing this, but that's a battle I really want the public to see. The DREAMers are the most sympathetic of the undocumented immigrants, because they broke no laws and most of them know no other country than the United States. If we can't find a place for them, America really has become a hard-hearted country.

A good description of one of the big problems our democracy is facing: "Conservative media needs a scared, paranoid audience, while democracy needs reasonable voters."

Not sure why Trump tweeted about flag-burning. I haven't heard of anybody doing it lately; maybe he's just anticipating that somebody will. Anyway, it's a pretty clear First Amendment issue: The reason people object to it is that burning a flag expresses an opinion they don't like. Nobody objects if you burn a flag that is worn out; that's actually the preferred method of disposal. Nobody cares if you have flags on your 4th of July napkins and then throw them in the campfire. The only time people object to burning a flag is if you're doing it to make a point.

In religious terms, laws to protect the flag from burning constitute idolatry: The symbol has been elevated above the thing it's supposed to symbolize. The flag symbolizes our American freedom, but idolators want to protect the flag at the expense of our freedom.

and let's close with a sex video

A very tiny one, that is. Science Alert provides video of tardigrade (a.k.a. water bear) mating, and even explains what's kinky about it.

fertilisation actually occurs outside the female's body - although the researchers still aren't entirely sure how the semen gets to her eggs.

Presumably that will be in Tardigrade Mating II.


Disaster Progressivism by @BloggersRUs

Disaster Progressivism

by Tom Sullivan

Photo by Krystian Olszanski via Creative Commons.

Legend has it that the first person Howard Dean hired for the 50-state plan was (is) a friend of mine, maybe the best field organizer I've known.​ When he returned from training in D.C., he said privately their charge was to turn county parties that had devolved into social clubs back into functioning political organizations.

Today's Democratic Party upper echelons might resemble that remark.

There is a lot of "old-boyism" in party politics. Mostly because people who have the time and/or resources to pursue party work are older. But older doesn't always mean more skilled; experienced doesn't always mean the right kind. When reviewing resumes, it is wise to know the difference between an applicant who has 20 years' worth of experience and one who has 1 year's worth of experience 20 years in a row. Many experienced party hands are not versed in modern campaign-craft. They assign more weight to who might make a strong public servant than to whether they might make a strong candidate. (We need candidates who are both.) Nevertheless, they like to be the deciders of whose turn it is. There is a tendency to hang onto power and not to cultivate new leadership possessing skills they don't understand. Old boys would rather turn over the reins to old chums — regardless of their skills — when they can't chew the leather anymore.

Dennis Kucinich winning the caucus in our county in 2004 was a deep embarrassment here. Favorite-son John Edwards was supposed to win. Didn't "those progressives" who outmaneuvered them know that? A Deaniac took a county party seat the next year. But established players stonewalled and ran her off. And they got their club back. "Those progressives" were supposed to wait for their turn that wasn't coming.

Activists who allowed themselves to be run off never got anywhere. They're forgotten. Those who wouldn't be run off did. Persistence pays. So does positioning. (I have an interesting story about positioning, but another time.)

The hair-on-fire panic many progressive activists exist in vis-a-vis national politics and the future of the country (and now the planet) reflects the same short-term thinking that leads establishment Democrats to defend their reelection first and the voters second. ("This is the most important election of our lifetimes," etc.) No long-term thinking. Longer-term, the Democratic party is a pushover if progressives will just do the work and stick around long enough to see results from the pushing. Yet a lot of talented activists are unwilling to get their nice, white vinyl souls soiled by contact with the icky party to do that. They consign themselves to irrelevancy.

Bernie Sanders won the primary here handily. He had a message that connected in the same county that supported Kucinich in 2004, as well as with rural folks with an anti-establishment itch to scratch. But Hillary Clinton had a lot going for her, including national campaign experience and a national network of personal and party contacts going back decades. She had experience in spades. Party insiders naturally felt it was "her turn." Some talented Bernie organizers here who had real potential flamed out when he lost and they are gone now. Those who stuck around are positioned to move the ball down the field and change the game. It's their turn now if only they'll step forward and lead. Post-election, the opportunity is there if only they will seize it.

I had a roommate in college who seemed to be everything I was not. He was adventurous, daring, liked by everybody, and lucky. Damn, good things just seemed to come to him. But it wasn't luck. What I finally realized was his antennae were always up. He was more attuned to the world than I was, than most people. He was always open, ready to recognize and take advantage of opportunities — NOW — that I would have shied from or let slip away while I was thinking it over. Opportunities are ephemeral, and slip away as quickly as regrets pile up.

Democrats and progressives seem forever to do more Monday-morning quarterbacking about missed opportunities than thinking three to five moves ahead, never pre-positioning themselves to capitalize on opportunities when they arise. That's what Naomi Klein described in "The Shock Doctrine." Like my roommate, those disaster capitalists pay attention to faint signals and pre-position themselves so they are poised to move quickly and take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves.

So are progressives going to do that now or just protest after the fact? Because there's a disaster coming, and we'd best be positioned to capitalize on opportunities that will appear suddenly out of nowhere. Better that than complain how the old boys clubs failed to do it for us.


Sunday Morning Comin’ Down

"Those Magnificent Men in their Lying Machines" Edition

Until I woke up in a puddle of my own sick in the alley behind Wonkette's Discount Opium Emporium with this article stapled to my chest, I did not realize that the under-card of the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics and Herpetology event at which Kellyanne Conway went berserk and (it is rumored) garroted several undergrads...featured none other than CNN's own dancing souless teevee executive caricature --

-- Jeff Zucker.

Mr. Zucker is one of many the network executives who regularly sow dragon's teeth (h/t Stephen King) and then act baffled when dragons start popping up to eat us all up.  Of course you almost you never see these greasy little fiends who are strip-mining our democracy for cash and prizes on camera because they and their cronies own the cameras and their HR department are papered with the resumes of the very people a healthy democracy would ordinarily rely on to afflict these weasels.

So it takes an event like this --
The event, a toney dinner of 200 or so campaign operatives, journalists and academics at the Charles Hotel, featured Zucker in conversation with Washington Post editor Marty Baron, AP editor Kathleen Carol and Elliot Schrage, vice president of communications and public policy at Facebook...
-- to draw a critter like Jeff Zucker out into the open.

And out he came!
"I have to respectfully push back on the campaign managers who spoke here today, because frankly, respectfully, I think that’s bullshit. Donald Trump was on CNN a lot,” Zucker said, refusing to back down. “That’s because we asked him to do interviews and he agreed to do them. We continuously asked the other candidates to come on and do interviews."
 But almost immediately he saw his shadow --
The room grew increasingly restless and the strategists started piping up, interrupting Zucker and Issenberg.

“I don’t remember getting invited to call in, though,” Sarah Isgur Flores, Carly Fiorina’s deputy campaign manager said, kicking off a parade of comments.

More irritated voices across the room quickly chimed in: “We didn’t get that call.” “We’d be invited for eight seconds.” “At 2 o’clock in the afternoon we’d be invited on,” another said sarcastically.
-- and scuttled right back into his burrow, guaranteeing four more years of shitty "news" coverage:
"It’s not the interviews,” Rubio senior advisor Todd Harris said as another audience member shouted, "You showed empty podiums!"

"You showed hours upon hours of unfiltered unscripted coverage of Trump, this was not about interviews,” he added.

Some members of the audience applauded, and the tension in the room built up as salads were left untouched and more wine was poured.

The table featuring top members of Hillary Clinton's campaign, meanwhile, remained stone-faced and quiet near the back of the room.

Zucker was also blasted by journalists when he tried to defend CNN's decision to hire Lewandowski while he was still receiving severance from the campaign.

Lewandowski seized the microphone from the questioner, who broached the topic, in a bid to defend himself, allowing the student to finish asking it, but insisting he was adding value to the CNN airwaves.

Zucker said Lewandowski was a “good investment and decision,” as Lewandowski clapped and the rest of the room remained silent.
Meanwhile, the poison fruits which rodents like Zucker helped to sow and fertilize were dropping from the trees like sacks of wet cement in which the last few shred of honest journalism had been entombed.

Over on CBS, Reince Shortbus was gettin' the job done for his new owner:
While the Gingrich Rules remain in full effect:
“I’m very comfortable if given the amount of time he’s put into this, if President-elect (Trump) says I want Romney, I’m for Romney,” Gingrich said in an interview with CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “If he concludes that Romney could do the job best, then I’m for Romney.”

A trusted adviser on the Trump transition team, Gingrich has been a vocal critic of Romney since his name was floated for the nation’s top diplomatic slot. Just last week, the former House speaker mocked Romney for trying to “suck up” to Mr. Trump, who the one-time Republican presidential nominee had slammed during the 2016 campaign cycle.

Gingrich said he “got no blowback from anybody” for his inflammatory comments, and “until that decision is made, it’s a fair conversation” to have...
On ABC, Mike Pence had little trouble defeating the clever traps George Stephanopoulis laid out for him, because all of those traps depend on Mike Pence spontaneously growing a conscience, which is about as likely as a crop of winter wheat suddenly sprouting on the surface of Phobos.
Vice President-elect Mike Pence defended President-elect Donald Trump's recent tweet claiming without evidence that "millions" of fraudulent votes were cast in the 2016 election.

"It's his right to express his opinion as President-elect of the United States," Pence told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" on Sunday morning. "He’s going to say what he believes to be true, and I know he is always going to speak in that way as president."

When pressed about whether he believes the claim is accurate, Pence said, "I think one of the things that’s refreshing about our president-elect and one of the reasons why I think he had an incredible connection with people all across this country is because he tells you what's on his mind."

"But why is it refreshing to make false statements?" Stephanopoulos said.

"Look, I don't know that that is a false statement," Pence replied.

The vice president-elect also repeatedly cited a Pew Charitable Trusts study on voter registration records. "I think the President-elect wants to call to attention to the fact there has been evidence over many years," he said.

The 2012 Pew study in question focused on the need to update voter registration records...
Meanwhile, for some reason a slice of pure Republicans plutocracy named John Catsimatidis who has bought himself onto the radio felt it was vitally important to solicit the opinion of Holy Joe Lieberman, who one obscure internet crank has called the "lowest god bothering Elmer Gantry with the moral compass of a bus station pickpocket".  And then, also for no explicable reason, The Hill decided you should hear about it.  Would you care to take a wild guess what Holy Joe had to say about there here modern politics?
"To me, both parties better watch out not to go back to the extremes — left and right — and not working with each other..."
No fair!  You peeked.


Of course,

Another strongman fanboy under consideration #Danasgotasecretredux

Another strongman fanboy under consideration

by digby

I wish I could say this surprises me:

Mitt Romney's chances for being secretary of State in a Trump administration are fading amid a deep division among President-elect Trump's team, and that is giving rise to dark horse candidate Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a foreign policy tough guy who once arm wrestled Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to insiders.

The Trump cabinet executive committee is also eyeing long-time Republican diplomat John Bolton as deputy secretary of State, though there are some who prefer him in the top job.

I wrote this piece back in July for Salon:
Dana and Donald: The California rep would be a match made in twisted-politics heaven for Trump 
I mentioned his old connections to the Taliban which made him very angry and forced the editors to publish his complaint (which was not particularly convincing.)

Interestingly, he did not object to the part about him being a Vlad fanboy:

After reading this fascinating story by Maria Danilova of the AP over the week-end you might wonder why one of [his VP considerations] isn’t Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California. They would seem to be a perfect match. Rohrabacher is a quirky individualist who, like Trump, marches to his own drummer. He’s been in Washington since the 80’s and knows his way around congress which is something Trump has said he wants in a VP. And they share an admiration for certain big strong manly man:

A former speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan, the 14-term Rohrabacher takes pride in having worked to weaken “our major global enemy at that time, the Soviet Union.” A large photo in his office shows him in the hills of Afghanistan in the 1980s, where, he told The Associated Press in an interview, he launched rockets at Soviet positions as a volunteer fighter.

Rohrabacher’s view changed when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, and Russia emerged as a different country. Although he acknowledges that opposition leaders face repression in Russia, he also says the country allows religious freedom and is generally more open than its predecessor.

In the mid-1990s, Rohrabacher got a taste of Russian politics, he says, when he welcomed a delegation of young Russian political leaders, which included Putin, who then worked for the mayor of St. Petersburg. After a friendly football match, the group went to a nearby pub and started arguing over whether the Soviet Union lost the Cold War. The debate turned into an arm-wrestling match between Putin and Rohrabacher, which Putin won.

“I ended up with Putin, and he beat me just like that,” Rohrabacher said, snapping his fingers.

One suspects that Trump would never be so humble. But his appreciation for Putin runs along the same lines. Rohrabacher is a major defender of Putin and the Russian government in the congress and a lot of people think it’s a little bit obsessive, particularly his willingness to take the part of some Russian officials on whom the US government has imposed sanctions for the jailhouse death of a Russian whistleblower. Rohrabacher intervened, meeting with these officials privately and with officers of another Russian firm associated with the crime under investigation in the US. He then tried to get the House Foreign Affairs Committee to drop this case from a bill imposing sanctions on human rights abusers from other countries, even trying to implicate the victims of the crimes as the real perpetrators despite all evidence to the contrary.
It's such a natural you have to wonder why he wasn't named earlier. With Bolton as number two, they would be quite the formidable pair of ugly Americans wreaking havoc all over the world. Winning!

Cartoon leadership

Cartoon leadership

by digby

Think Progress:

During a press conference on Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) was asked what he thought about the sweetheart deal President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence struck with United Technology to keep about 1,000 Carrier manufacturing jobs in Indiana in exchange for millions of dollars in incentives. 
“Well I’m pretty happy that we’re keeping jobs in America, aren’t you?” Ryan said to a reporter, adding that he couldn’t speak to the specifics of the deal, which won’t prevent 1,300 Carrier jobs from relocating to Mexico from Indiana. “I think it’s pretty darn good that people are keeping their jobs in Indiana instead of going to Mexico.”

Ryan’s response was a significant departure from what he’s said in the past about deals like the Carrier one. On Tax Day last year, Ryan released a statement blasting President Obama for allegedly wanting to provide “special carve-outs to his favorite industries.”

“Our tax code should not pick winners and losers,” Ryan wrote on behalf of a “simpler, flatter” tax code. “Our country can’t reach its potential with a tax code that punishes people for reaching their own.”
Ryan reiterated that sentiment in a video clip he shared to Twitter in July.

Even supporters of the Carrier deal acknowledge the approach Trump and Pence have taken is unsustainable. Scott Paul, president of the advocacy group the Alliance for American Manufacturing, told the New York Times that “Carrier is special because it happened at the right time and the right place and it gained a high profile. But obviously, Donald Trump and Mike Pence can’t intervene every time a plant closes.”

Actually that's exactly what Trump proposed over and over again on the trail. This is what he said on the day he announced his candidacy:

One of the early things I would do, probably before I even got in -- and I wouldn't even use -- you know, I have -- I know the smartest negotiators in the world. I know the good ones. I know the bad ones. I know the overrated ones.

You get a lot of them that are overrated. They're not good. They think they are. They get good stories, because the newspapers get buffaloed (ph). But they're not good.

But I know the negotiators in the world, and I put them one for each country. Believe me, folks. We will do very, very well, very, very well.

But I wouldn't even waste my time with this one. I would call up the head of Ford, who I know. If I was president, I'd say, "Congratulations. I understand that you're building a nice $2.5 billion car factory in Mexico and that you're going to take your cars and sell them to the United States zero tax, just flow them across the border."

And you say to yourself, "How does that help us," right? "How does that help us? Where is that good"? It's not.

So I would say, "Congratulations. That's the good news. Let me give you the bad news. Every car and every truck and every part manufactured in this plant that comes across the border, we're going to charge you a 35-percent tax, and that tax is going to be paid simultaneously with the transaction, and that's it.

Now, here's what is going to happen. If it's not me in the position, it's one of these politicians that we're running against, you know, the 400 people that we're (inaudible). And here's what's going to happen. They're not so stupid. They know it's not a good thing, and they may even be upset by it. But then they're going to get a call from the donors or probably from the lobbyist for Ford and say, "You can't do that to Ford, because Ford takes care of me and I take care of you, and you can't do that to Ford."

And guess what? No problem. They're going to build in Mexico. They're going to take away thousands of jobs. It's very bad for us.

So under President Trump, here's what would happen:


The head of Ford will call me back, I would say within an hour after I told them the bad news. But it could be he'd want to be cool, and he'll wait until the next day. You know, they want to be a little cool.

And he'll say, "Please, please, please." He'll beg for a little while, and I'll say, "No interest." Then he'll call all sorts of political people, and I'll say, "Sorry, fellas. No interest," because I don't need anybody's money. It's nice. I don't need anybody's money.

I'm using my own money. I'm not using the lobbyists. I'm not using donors. I don't care. I'm really rich. I (inaudible).


And by the way, I'm not even saying that in a -- that's the kind of mindset, that's the kind of thinking you need for this country.

What an alpha-male, right? Too bad his actual record doesn't match his juvenile braggadocio.

Now, this is not what happened with Ford or Carrier, we know that. Basically, Ford did what they were going to do anyway and curried favor with Trump by blowing smoke. And they got Carrier to save about 800 of the 2000 jobs they were planning to transfer to Mexico by handing them a big fat subsidy paid for by the taxpayers of Indiana, something Pence had refused to do just a couple of years ago.

Essentially, Trump's plan is to intervene in any proposed jobs move to Mexico that comes to his attention. But instead of giving them ultimatums about tariffs (something the Carrier folks explicitly made a part of their deal) he's going to give them everybody's hard earned tax dollars to keep a few jobs in the US, make huge profits and give Trump a big PR victory while making the lives of all the non-photo op workers in America demonstrably worse in every way. What a deal.

But don't say he didn't warn us. He said from the beginning that his economic plan was to hire billionaires and personally intervene to stop job losses when he became aware of them. That's ridiculous. People knew it. But he won anyway because he sounded like a big macho hero who would step in personally to save the day. Like Superman. That's what they voted for. A cartoon character. And that's what they got.

By the way, the Superman iconography was all over the campaign:


Comments of the Week #138: from the time dimension to going beyond the Standard Model [Starts With A Bang]

“A thing may be of deeper impossibility than another, in the sense that you can be more deeply underwater–but whether you are five feet or five fathoms from the surface you are still all wet.” -Brian McGreevy It’s been a spectacular week of investigating the Universe and our knowledge about it here at Starts With A Bang! There…

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