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The Bottom Line on The Donald and His Party

[ 21 ] May 4, 2016 |

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It didn’t come out of nowhere, no matter what conservative pundits are going to claim as they reconcile themselves with their party’s nominee:

The paranoid mendacity of Joe McCarthy, the racial pandering of Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon, and George Bush, the jingoism and anti-intellectualism of Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and Sarah Palin — all these forces have embodied the essence of American conservative politics as it is actually practiced (rather than as conservative intellectuals like to imagine it). Trump has finally turned that which was always there against itself.

And the paradox is that he has managed to pull off the trick of downplaying or abandoning unpopular orthodox Republican ideas while being highly unpopular with the general electorate:

It is easy to find examples of parties where ideologically orthodox members felt sold out by moderate leaders who softened party platforms. Think of Tony Blair in the UK or Dwight Eisenhower in the US.

But at least those moderate leaders tend to be broadly popular with the public and to win elections. That allows those ideologically orthodox party members to get half a loaf — in the form of implementation of a watered-down version of a party platform.

Trump has somehow found a way to throw away the ideologically extreme ideas that orthodox conservatives cared about while actually making the party less popular. His nomination is a recipe for conservatives to sell out and lose anyway.

And don’t kid yourself: Trump is a terrible general election candidate. I’m not basing that on the head-to-head polls, which show Clinton thumping Trump; they generally aren’t very predictive this far out, and while they might mean more than usual this year because of how well-known both candidates have been for so long, there’s no way of knowing that ex ante. Rather, it’s that 1)the Democrats have a structural advantage in the electoral college all things being equal; 2)his unfavorable ratings are insanely high, putting him in a major hole and negating Hillary Clinton’s own high unfavorables, which should have been a major opportunity for the GOP; 3)Trump is almost certain to mobilize a high minority turnout; and 4)giving sexist boors enough rope is one thing that Clinton does really well. I would never say that it’s impossible for a major party candidate to win an election under the current partisan configuration, but Clinton is a yooooooooge favorite.

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Why #NeverTrump Was Never Going to Work

[ 201 ] May 3, 2016 |

The party is coalescing around the nominee:

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International Man of Principle Bill Kristol is getting the message:

“I mean, I guess never say never. On the one hand, I’ll say #NeverTrump, and on the other hand, I’ll say never say never.”

Watching the #NeverTrump crowd move into the Trump camp as his nomination becomes ever less evitable is going to be highly entertaining.

…when he’s right, he’s right:

Today in the War on Culture

[ 62 ] May 3, 2016 |

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Let’s just say that Edroso’s roundup of conservative reactions to Prince 1)starts with Steve Sailer and 2)the examples arguably get worse. And — hey, it’s about Prince, there has to be some choice material left on the cutting room floor — he didn’t even get to Maggie Gallagher’s discussion of Prince’s “secret Christianity.” It’s true — if he wasn’t a member of America’s most oppressed minority, he might have, say, written a song about his faith called “The Cross” and put it on an immensely influential million-selling record. Or he could have put a religious song called “God” on the b-side of one of his most popular singles. But, in America, Christianity is forced into the closet by big POLITICALLY CORRECT.

As an antidote, I’ve very much been enjoying Pitchfork’s retrospective reviews. Maura Johnston on 1999 and Nelson George on Sign O’ The Times are particularly recommended.

There Should Be Plenty More Where This Comes From

[ 92 ] May 2, 2016 |

If you vote for Kelly Ayotte or Mark Kirk or Rob Portman or Ron Johnson or Rob Portman etc. etc. you’re voting for Trumpism. He’s the Republican candidate and they own him. This is a point that the Democratic campaigns in swing states need to make effectively and relentlessly.

The Authoritarian Mind

[ 127 ] May 2, 2016 |

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I can’t describe the worldview of Roger Goodell and his apologists any better than Goodell does himself:

As the NFL continues to bask in the glow of a narrow, 2-1 appeals court victory in the #Deflategate imbroglio, Commissioner Roger Goodell is now defending his handling of quarterback Tom Brady’s suspension by attacking the NFL Players Association.

“I understand when there is a defense of any violation . . . that is part of the game, we all understand that nobody wants to discipline,” Goodell told ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike, via Dan Werly of TheWhiteBronco.com. “I understand the union’s position. The union’s position is to eliminate discipline. That is what they do, we are going to protect the player, right or wrong. And I get that, that is understandable, go at it. My job is to protect the game. We are not going to relent on that, we are not going to compromise at all.”

That’s an incredibly cynical view of the union’s role, and an apparent attempt to counter NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith’s recent explanation on PFT Live about the union’s commitment to fighting for its players. But the union isn’t trying to ensure that players suffer no consequence for wrongdoing. The union wants any consequences to be fair and consistent and within the confines of the labor deal. The union also wants the process that determines those consequences to be fair.

Well, there you go. To Goodell, either you believe that Roger Goodell should have the unilateral, virtually unreviewable authority to issue any punishment to any team or player for anything, or you think that nobody should ever be punished for anything. If you believe in such concepts as “due process” or “proportionate punishments reasonably knowable ex ante” or “judges should not serve as their own appellate adjudicator” or “league officials should not leak prejudicial and false information about people they’re targeting to their court stenographers” it’s because you’re opposed in principle to any rules or punishment at all. If Trump decides to counter Cruz by naming his first Supreme Court nominee, he’s got his man.

I recommend the rest of Florio’s post as well. Since I’ve been guilty of unwarranted criticism of the union for this in the past, I should note that he’s persuasive that there was nothing the NFLPA could plausibly have done about this, even knowing the likelihood that a commissioner would eventually massively abuse his powers. The NFLPA is far from being in an equal bargaining position, the league flatly refused to consider placing more restrictions on the commissioner’s Article 46 powers, and short of a strike that almost certainly wouldn’t have worked anyway it’s not clear what could have been done about it. That the system is bad, though, doesn’t let Goodell off the hook: he has been far worse than his predecessor, which is why he didn’t want Tagliabue anywhere near Ballghazi although he could have let him review it like he did with the New Orleans bounty scandal.

On a related note, Jonah Keri has a good column about some of the reaction to the Dee Gordon suspension. You would think that a draconian suspension for a first time offense would be enough. But for a lot of people, no — it’s outrageous that there’s any appeal process! The team should be able to void his contract! It never ends.

Vote Suppression Laws Work

[ 15 ] May 2, 2016 |

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Whatever disarray the Republican Party might be in at the national level, Republican statehouses are able to pass policy initiatives that quickly fulfill their goals:

Thirty-three states now have ID laws, at least 17 of them — including Texas — requiring not just written proof of identity, but requiring or requesting a photograph as well.

Most research suggests that the laws result in few people being turned away at the polls. But a study of the Texas ID requirement by Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy released in August found that many more qualified voters, confused or intimidated by the new rules, have not tried to vote at all.

“What voters hear is that you need to have an ID,” said Mark P. Jones of the Baker Institute, an author of the study. “But they don’t get the second part that says if you have one of these types of IDs, you’re O.K.”

A second study, by the University of California, San Diego, concluded in February that the strictest voter ID laws — those that require an identity card with a photograph — disproportionately affect minority voters.

After Mr. Gallego’s narrow loss in 2014, researchers from the Baker Institute and the University of Houston’s Hobby Center for Public Policy polled 400 registered voters in the district who sat out the election. All were asked why they did not vote, rating on a scale of 1 to 5 from a list of seven explanations — being ill, having transportation problems, being too busy, being out of town, lacking interest, disliking the candidates and lacking a required photo identification.

Nearly 26 percent said the main reason was that they were too busy. At the other end, 5.8 percent said the main reason was lacking a proper photo ID, with another 7 percent citing it as one reason. Most surprising, however, was what researchers found when they double-checked that response: The vast majority of those who claimed not to have voted because they lacked a proper ID actually possessed one, but did not know it.

Moreover, Dr. Jones of the Baker Institute said, “The confused voters said they would have voted overwhelmingly for Gallego.”

The laws are designed to stop racial minorities from voting, and they work. In other words, exactly the kind of law the 15th Amendment empowered Congress to address.

In its last twenty years, the Supreme Court has issued some opinions that combine self-refuting logic with horrible results — Bush v. Gore, the Medicaid holding in NFIB v. Sebelius. Shelby County certainly belongs near of not at the top of that list.

Today In the American Meritocracy

[ 61 ] May 2, 2016 |

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Nice work if you can etc:

Yahoo (YHOO) just disclosed the size of its executive pay packages and Marissa Mayer stands to make millions coming or going.

The CEO of the embattled online news site, currently trying to sell itself, is entitled to severance benefits valued at $54.9 million in case she is terminated without cause, according to a regulatory filing after the market closed Friday. The potential payout would also be triggered by a “change of control,” which includes the sale of the company, according to the filing.

Mayer’s potential payout includes cash severance of $3 million, $26,324 to continue her health benefits, $15,000 for outplacement, and — if that’s enough — nearly $52 million worth of accelerated restricted stock and options.

But wait. That’s just what Mayer gets if she leaves. Mayer was already paid $36 million in 2015 as her regular annual compensation. That total pay package was down nearly 15% from the prior year, but is still well above the median of roughly $12 million paid by executives in the Standard & Poor’s 500. Mayer was paid $42.1 million in 2014, making her the most highly paid female CEO in the S&P 500.

Imagine what she’d be worth if she had been successful!

Maureen Dowd’s Greatest Bong Hits, An Ongoing Series

[ 208 ] April 30, 2016 |

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As has observed more than once in this space, that Maureen Dowd not only somehow maintains a sinecure in the nation’s most prominent op-ed space but actually receives industry honors is a classic illustration of the poor taste and judgment of America’s overpaid and underachieving elites. She has yet another abysmal addition to her canon of hot takes:

IT seems odd, in this era of gender fluidity, that we are headed toward the most stark X versus Y battle since Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs.

It’s the perfect MoDo first sentence — a meaningless generalization and dated pop culture reference combined to produce an banal, shallow point. It’s done again and again. Like this, after the inevitable and not actually very appropriate comparison of Trump and his cronies to the Rat pack:

Hillary Clinton’s rallies, by contrast, can seem like a sorority rush reception hosted by Lena Dunham, or an endless episode of “The View,” with a girl-power soundtrack by Katy Perry, Taylor Swift and Demi Lovato. The ultimate insider is portraying herself as an outsider because she’s a woman, and the candidate who is considered steely is casting herself as cozy because she’s a doting granny.

Sometimes, you hear that even if Dowd’s ideas are lame, you have to admit she can write. No I do not. It’s all cliches and references and phrases that seem to take the form of humor while never, ever being funny. Also, as Charlie Pierce said about Bill Simmons — only it applies much more forcefully here — Dowd’s “vaunted pop-cult knowledge is carved out of a very thin loaf of Wonder Bread.” The one billionth lazy, meaningless reference to Lena Dunham — Dowd sure is on top of the zeitgeist.

Clinton and Trump have moved on to their mano a womano fight, leaving behind “the leftovers,” as Trump labels deflated rivals.

“Mano a womano” is witless, and what this sentence — like the entirety of the column to this point — is telling us is that each major party will field a candidate in the upcoming general election, one of them a man and one a woman. Maureen Dowd makes a six figure salary.

Now we reach the point where the column stops becoming merely something too banal to be worthy of publishing alongside the onion dip recipes and profiles of B-list celebrities in the Sunday supplement in the local paper and becomes actively offensive:

“It’s going to be nasty, isn’t it?” says Obama Pygmalion David Axelrod. “Put the small children away until November.”

It sure is great that “Barry” Obama knew a white guy who could teach the former president of the Harvard Law Review how to act in polite society.

A peeved Jane Sanders called on the F.B.I. to hurry up with the Hillary classified email investigation.

Does Sanders seem “peeved” to you here? Anyway, she’s probably dowdy like that awful Judith Steinberg Dean!

We can only hope that Cruz, who croons Broadway show tunes, and Carly, who breaks into song at the lectern, will start doing duets from “Hamilton.”

I have to give her this: she never misses the opportunity to include the most obvious pop culture reference in a way that doesn’t say anything. It’s impressive in its own way. You’d think one of them would be funny one time if only my accident, but nope.

Longtime Dowd watchers will note, however, that she’s been playing against type here, unprecedentedly arguing that Hillary Clinton is a woman. So you already know the twist that’s coming: in fact, all Democratic men are women and all Democratic women are men:

On some foreign policy issues, the roles are reversed for the candidates and their parties. It’s Hillary the Hawk against Donald the Quasi-Dove.

Just as Barack Obama seemed the more feminized candidate in 2008 because of his talk-it-out management style, his antiwar platform and his delicate eating habits, always watching his figure, so now, in some ways, Trump seems less macho than Hillary.

He has a tender ego, pouty tweets, needy temperament and obsession with hand sanitizer, whereas she is so tough and combat-hardened, she’s known by her staff as “the Warrior.”

The idea that a “tender ego” and “needy temperament” (or, for that matter, “obsession with hand sanitizer”) are inconsistent with masculine bluster is hilarious. One amazing thing about Dowd is how inept the Judy Miller of love is even on the only subject she actually cares about, gender stereotypes.

And finally, what would a Maureen Down column be without a massive factual howler that benefits the Republican candidate:

The prime example of commander-in-chief judgment Trump offers is the fact that, like Obama, he thought the invasion of Iraq was a stupid idea.

Trump’s assertion that he opposed the Iraq War ex ante is an utter lie, and since it’s the sole basis for asserting that Trump is any kind of “dove” that’s kind of a problem. But it’s a lie that fits the narrative, and that’s all the Pulitzer winner has ever needed.

The Democrats Will Never Win the White House Until They Run a Zell/Webb Ticket

[ 94 ] April 30, 2016 |

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Remember Mudcat Saunders, the “Democratic strategist” who was once very briefly a thing among the kind of Democrats who fret about the party abandoning the SCOTS-IRISH faction who properly own the party in perpetuity? The Daily Tucker wishes to share his Deep Thoughts about the forthcoming elections:

“I know a ton of Democrats — male, female, black and white — here [in southern Virginia] who are going to vote for Trump. It’s all because of economic reasons. It’s because of his populist message,” Mudcat told The Daily Caller Wednesday.

Yeah, I totally believe that Mudcat has lots of African-American Democratic friends who are voting for Trump. Their front lawns all have unicorns that gently prance around statues of Jefferson Davis and George Wallace. And then they go to sleep under a Rebel flag quilt, just like Mudcat.

Saunders has experience working with Jim Webb, helping getting him elected to the U.S Senate in 2006 and advised his failed bid for the presidency in 2016. Saunders was also an advisor to John Edwards in his 2008 presidential bid. The Democrat strategist is renowned for connecting politicians to “Bubbas” — white, working class Southerners.

Yes, there are few people with a better line on the pulse of the Democratic electorate than “strategists” involved with the Jim Webb ’16 juggernaut.

“I know less than half a dozen white male Democrats in my part of the world who are going to vote for Hillary,” Saunders told TheDC.

Yes, I’m really terrified that the many southern white men who enthusiastically supported Barack Obama will now defect and support Trump.

He added, “Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have very similar messages; they’re just dressed in different clothes. I think you’re going to see a lot of Sanders people jump to Trump.”

Yes, the overlap in their platforms is remarkable. Mudcat should expand this to 600 words and submit it to Salon under the name “Brogan W. Bragman IV” and it will be online before the end of the afternoon.*

He thinks Trump will win the general election and said, “he’s going to knock her around like a baby seal.”

A metaphor as tasteful as it is politically astute! That is one BLISTERING take.

*Incidentally, Young Master Bragman has thoughtfully curated the comments to his latest Salon entry and has uncovered what he believes to be the smartest comment:

So, to be clear, the fact that a Republican House would not pass progressive legislation under a Democratic president means that it would also refuse to pass conservative legislation under a Republican president. Hard to argue with that logic! I’d hate to see what Bragman considers the dumb comments. I should also commend you to Rebecca Schoenkopf’s post, which inter alia observes that Bragman argues that Democrats should want Trump to win in 2016 because there might be a Supreme Court vacancy in 2020. The sheer density of derp in these things is truly remarkable.

Who Is the Lesser Of Salon’s #BernieorBusters? The Answer Is Unclear

[ 226 ] April 29, 2016 |
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With the outcome of the Democratic primaries no longer in doubt, Salon is turning its #BernieorBust amps up to 11. Sure, we get HA! Goodman’s latest plea for the FBI to indict Hillary Clinton which they will as he will explain in his friend’s Kickstarter for a fan tribute to Game Of Thrones starring a Bernie loolalike. But forget that, we have new Walker Bragman material!

That said, now that the race between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, with the former secretary of state essentially guaranteed the nomination, many liberals and progressives are preparing, once again, to vote for the lesser of two evils. The choice may not be as clear as some Democrats believe — especially if Democrats can take back the Senate and assure themselves of a check on a GOP House.

Right of the top, we have dispositive evidence of someone who knows less than nothing about American politics. The chances that Democrats could retake the Senate in an election with structural conditions favorable enough to Republicans for Donald Trump to win the White House are somewhat less than the chances that the Atlanta Braves will win the World Series this year. Any meaningful discussion has to assume a unified Republican Congress.

Once you’ve let that sink in, try this: There is a liberal case to be made for Donald Trump.

Do tell.

Like Sanders, Trump is neither beholden to special interests, nor coordinating with a Super PAC. This alone sets him apart from the other candidates in the race — especially Hillary Clinton. If he wins the presidency, it will send shock waves through our political system, much like what would happen if Bernie were elected, but with a twist.

Um, OK. And that exciting twist will be that “he will sign pretty much every horrible piece of legislation that a Republican Congress puts on his desk.”

Trump’s brand of populism has been enabled by the roughly 40-year decline of our middle class that both parties have facilitated through the abandonment of Franklin D. Roosevelt in favor of Ronald Reagan. Trump may not offer policy specifics, but he does not need them because the political establishment on both sides of the aisle, have failed the American people so badly, and the people have caught on.

“We must do something about economic inequality. Massive upper-class tax cuts, repealing the Affordable Care Act, and deregulating business are something. Ergo, Trump ’16!”

If he were to be elected, it would force our leaders to have a real conversation about these problems that they simply won’t have if the people elect an establishment candidate like Hillary Clinton.

Hahahahaha, yes, whatever the atrocious material consequences of a Trump administration would be, we would have a Real Conversation. At this point, my working assumption is that “Walker Bragman” is a pen name for Jim VandeHei, which he ordinarily uses for one of his characters when writing Gossip Girl fan fiction.

In all likelihood, Trump will not accomplish anything. He has made serious enemies in both parties and the media, whom he feels have slighted him, and I cannot see him working with those people. Trump holds grudges. He has filed more frivolous lawsuits than anyone in the public eye — or maybe we just hear about them more. Either way, politics do require compromise to one degree or another, and without it, nothing gets done. As such, when Trump finds himself up against institutional and bureaucratic resistance, it is unlikely he will deliver. For example, his wall — paid for by Mexico — is never going to happen. Ban all Muslims from entering the U.S.? Not a chance.

I agree that his “ban all Muslims” policies will not be enacted (although there’s plenty of room for discriminatory law enforcement that doesn’t reach that level.) His massive tax cut policies? Now those will be enacted. The executive branch federal judiciary packed with neoconfederate cranks? You betcha.

The Senate with its filibuster and cloture rules is enough of a check on that, even if Democrats do not have a majority.

Yes, and the Republican Party would never, ever adjust the cloture rules, Scout’s Honor. Also, tax cut bills can bypass the filibuster, as perhaps Young Master Bragman was unaware happened under the Bush administration twice.

Moreover, rightly or wrongly, he represents America’s crypto-fascist element. The best way to discredit both of these groups is to let them fail on their own.

Just like eight years of George W. Bush killed the Republican Party forever.

The last consecutive two-term presidents from the same political party were James Madison and James Monroe. In other words, Democrats face long historical odds if Hillary Clinton wins in 2016, of winning again in four years.

This argument is just as dumb as it’s ever been. The misleading historical factoid is irrelevant, and the idea that it’s possible for Donald Trump to win in 2016 but impossible for him to win as an incumbent is silly, and the same of course goes for Hillary Clinton.

Trump now would enable the Democratic Party to regroup, and reform under a more economically populist banner in order to tap into the American zeitgeist. Perhaps 2020 could see President Elizabeth Warren.

If history has taught Young Master Bragman anything, it’s that 1)it’s unpossible for incumbent presidents to win re-election and 2)the Democratic Party always responds to defeats by moving to the left. I’m not sure what history this is, but it’s not of the United States of America.

Trump will not transform America’s oligarchy into a fascist dictatorship, nor is he the second coming of Hitler.

As long as neither candidate is literally Hitler, the outcome of elections doesn’t matter. OK.

I would not be the least bit surprised to see Trump run to Clinton’s left on economic policy in a general election

I believe that you wouldn’t be! But it won’t happen, and more to the point the economic agenda that would be enacted by a Republican Congress under Trump would make Hillary Clinton look like a radical leftist.

Trump’s foreign policy talk has alienated our allies like the United Kingdon, and that isn’t something to take lightly. However, it has also earned praise from Vladimir Putin.

Shorter Walker Bragman: “Trump may not be Hitler, but he might be Putin. I’m OK with that.” I think Ed Schultz has tonight’s lead guest lined up now!

Finally, let’s talk about the Supreme Court.

Yes, let’s.

We have no way of predicting who Trump would appoint,

Well, we actually can make a pretty good guess.

While she has said that her litmus test for nominees will be commitment to overturning Citizens United v. FEC, there is little reason to trust her given how much she benefits from the current campaign finance system that is a product of that ruling and others.

I mean, wow, even by Bragman’s standards this is amazing. First of all, the fact that Clinton benefits from the current fundraising system is irrelevant to this question — Bill Clinton and Barack Obama raised plenty of money and their nominees have consistently dissented from bad campaign finance rulings. And even if we were to grant the fantastical assumption that Hillary Clinton secretly wants Citizens United upheld and can somehow identify plausible Democratic nominees who will agree with her, there are of course countless other remaining issues on which Democratic and Republican nominees predictably differ. Are you a woman who might want to obtain an abortion in somewhere other than a blue state urban area? Young Master Bragman has bigger fish to fry! But don’t worry, Donald Trump will ensure that at least we have a National Conversation about the issue!

President Barack Obama’s recent Supreme Court nominee, Eric Garland,

Oh dear. I would forgive this, however, if it wasn’t a fair representation of Young Master Bragman’s grasp of how the judicial system functions:

which gave us Super PACs, and upheld Citizens United.

An appellate court ruling failed to overturn a higher court’s campaign finance ruling, and somehow created Super PACs. This is central to Bragman’s point that there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between Democratic and Republican judicial nominees. Fascinating.

But, hey, it could be worse — he could be Camille Paglia.

Thankfully, the 90s Are Over

[ 33 ] April 29, 2016 |

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The lesson of Terry McAullife’s susprisingly progressive record as governor of Virginia is that the executive branch is generally where party change ends, not where it begins:

What’s interesting about this is that before assuming office, McAuliffe seemed like the ultimate political hack. The Clinton crony and prodigious fundraiser seemed worth voting for only because the Republicans were running the odious former state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli against him. As New York’s Jon Chait put it at the time, “McAuliffe is the Democrat Democrats have been dying to vote against, except they can’t, because he’s running against a falling-off-the-right-edge-of-the-map Republican.” And yet, he’s been a good Democratic governor—not a hero by any means, but you won’t find enfranchising former felons in the DLC risk-aversion playbook either.

Skeptics might say that the order was just a cynical attempt to expand the potential Democratic electorate in a swing state. But this would be unfair. Many important progressive achievements, up to and including the Emancipation Proclamation, were also politically expedient. If expanding the electorate helps your party, there’s nothing wrong with that! More to the point, there are many potentially politically expedient initiatives—such as expanding Social Security and substantially increasing the minimum wage—that elite Democrats have nonetheless failed to embrace. Showing that these ideas have a real constituency is one reason Sanders’s run has been so valuable.

The real lesson of McAuliffe is that leaders don’t govern in a vacuum. Political context matters. If McAuliffe had been elected governor in the 1990s he likely would have been much more timorous and inclined to compromise with Republicans. But it ain’t the ‘90s anymore, and McAuliffe has gotten the message.

We have seen this play out in more historically consequential administrations. When Kennedy selected Lyndon Johnson as his running mate, progressive groups nearly revolted, given his frequently conservative record as a legislator and legislative leader. Had LBJ become president in 1952, it is enormously unlikely that he would be remembered as a progressive giant on domestic policy. But assuming office in the context of 1963, he went on to preside over the widest-ranging and least compromised collection of progressive legislation to be passed by Congress since Reconstruction.

But Information Wants to be Freeeeeeeeeeeee!

[ 184 ] April 29, 2016 |

Stating what really should be obvious:

After Prince’s untimely death last week, folks trying to share his songs on Twitter and Facebook via YouTube clips — the modern mode of mourning in our digital age — were stumped. Ditto those who turned to Spotify or Rhapsody or Apple’s streaming service for solo bingeing.

Needless to say, this caused much frustration with those who feel entitled to free, instant access to every scrap of #content ever created.

“There’s a good chance you want to hear and see more Prince today,” wrote Peter Kafka at re/code. “That’s harder than it should be. Or, at least, harder than you’re accustomed to when pop icons die.”

[…]

Now, this is a bit of sophistic silliness. There are actually plenty of ways one could binge on Prince’s music, that one could feel Prince deep within them. One could purchase a subscription to Tidal. For just $10, one would gain instant access to virtually everything Prince ever recorded for a whole month. That’s an amazingly good deal. If streaming’s not your thing, you could check out Amazon, which offers 21 Prince albums (and two Prince singles) for instant download at prices between 99 cents and $23.99. I myself downloaded Prince’s finest work, Batman.* If you’re an Apple guy or gal, iTunes has you covered with a similar selection.

What Kafka means is that there’s no way to “feel it right now” for free. There’s no way to access the life’s work of a great artist for free. As comic book artist Erik Larsen — who famously ditched Marvel to work for artist-owned Image — put it on Twitter: “Prince didn’t make it easy for you to steal his music. Here’s how to binge listen to it: 1. Buy a bunch of Prince’s music. 2. Listen to it.”

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