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What rough beast

[ 116 ] November 13, 2016 |

The melding of the GOP with the alt-right is now more or less complete:

Less than a week after his election, Donald Trump has begun to fill out the team he plans to bring with him to the White House. The president-elect announced Sunday that he has selected Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus to serve as chief of staff in his incoming administration.

In the same announcement, Priebus’ appointment shared top billing with the news that Trump campaign CEO Stephen K. Bannon will serve as chief strategist and senior counselor to the president.

Steve Bannon exits an elevator in the lobby of Trump Tower on Friday. He has been newly named the chief strategist of the Trump White House.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

“I am thrilled to have my very successful team continue with me in leading our country,” said Trump said in the emailed statement. “Steve and Reince are highly qualified leaders who worked well together on our campaign and led us to a historic victory. Now I will have them both with me in the White House as we work to make America great again.”

The dual selections are likely to send two separate signals to those closely watching Trump’s transition into power.

Those two signals are really one, although it’s going to take awhile for the Villagers to finally get the message.


This man will be president in 67 days

[ 102 ] November 13, 2016 |

Wow, the is losing thousands of subscribers because of their very poor and highly inaccurate coverage of the “Trump phenomena”

The sent a letter to their subscribers apologizing for their BAD coverage of me. I wonder if it will change – doubt it?

Mitt Romney called to congratulate me on the win. Very nice!

Masha Gessen on Trump

[ 240 ] November 12, 2016 |

When a woman who has literally risked her life countless times while committing journalism within the jurisdictional and extra-jurisdictional reach of Vladimir Putin has some advice about how to deal with our present reality, we should listen, rather than dismissing her as some sort of hysteric:

Similar refrains were heard from various members of the liberal commentariat, with Tom Friedman vowing, “I am not going to try to make my president fail,” to Nick Kristof calling on “the approximately 52 percent majority of voters who supported someone other than Donald Trump” to “give president Trump a chance.” Even the politicians who have in the past appealed to the less-establishment part of the Democratic electorate sounded the conciliatory note. Senator Elizabeth Warren promised to “put aside our differences.” Senator Bernie Sanders was only slightly more cautious, vowing to try to find the good in Trump: “To the degree that Mr. Trump is serious about pursuing policies that improve the lives of working families in this country, I and other progressives are prepared to work with him.”

However well-intentioned, this talk assumes that Trump is prepared to find common ground with his many opponents, respect the institutions of government, and repudiate almost everything he has stood for during the campaign. In short, it is treating him as a “normal” politician. There has until now been little evidence that he can be one.

More dangerously, Clinton’s and Obama’s very civil passages, which ended in applause lines, seemed to close off alternative responses to his minority victory. (It was hard not to be reminded of Neville Chamberlain’s statement, that “We should seek by all means in our power to avoid war, by analyzing possible causes, by trying to remove them, by discussion in a spirit of collaboration and good will.”) Both Clinton’s and Obama’s phrases about the peaceful transfer of power concealed the omission of a call to action. The protesters who took to the streets of New York, Los Angeles, and other American cities on Wednesday night did so not because of Clinton’s speech but in spite of it. One of the falsehoods in the Clinton speech was the implied equivalency between civil resistance and insurgency. This is an autocrat’s favorite con, the explanation for the violent suppression of peaceful protests the world over.

The entire piece is must-reading.  I hope she’s wrong but I doubt she is.


[ 116 ] November 11, 2016 |

Defeated Dems could’ve tapped Rust Belt populist to head party. Instead, black, Muslim progressive from Minneapolis?

Via Greenwald.

. . . as various people are pointing out, Ellison actually is a Rust Belt populist.  Just not the right kind of Rust Belt populist, apparently.

And the winner is . . .

[ 16 ] November 11, 2016 |

The LGM Presidential Prediction contest is now officially over, as the Official Rules stipulated that the vote count as of today would be considered definitive. (The results of the contest would almost certainly have remained the same if we had waited until the vote was finalized).

Although slightly less than one of the 118 entrants correctly predicted the winner of the election, all 118 of you correctly predicted which candidate would get the most votes, so there’s that.

The winning entry was submitted by Shannon M.  Shannon is now or soon will be $100 Trumpdollars richer.

The runner-up entry was submitted by Kag. Kag has won a bottle of vodka-flavored ketchup.

Thanks to all who participated, and we look forward to holding the contest again in four years, if elections are held at that time.



I’m going to miss Harry Reid

[ 47 ] November 11, 2016 |

Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid released the following statement about the election of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States: 

“I have personally been on the ballot in Nevada for 26 elections and I have never seen anything like the reaction to the election completed last Tuesday. The election of Donald Trump has emboldened the forces of hate and bigotry in America.

“White nationalists, Vladimir Putin and ISIS are celebrating Donald Trump’s victory, while innocent, law-abiding Americans are wracked with fear – especially African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Muslim Americans, LGBT Americans and Asian Americans. Watching white nationalists celebrate while innocent Americans cry tears of fear does not feel like America.

“I have heard more stories in the past 48 hours of Americans living in fear of their own government and their fellow Americans than I can remember hearing in five decades in politics. Hispanic Americans who fear their families will be torn apart, African Americans being heckled on the street, Muslim Americans afraid to wear a headscarf, gay and lesbian couples having slurs hurled at them and feeling afraid to walk down the street holding hands. American children waking up in the middle of the night crying, terrified that Trump will take their parents away. Young girls unable to understand why a man who brags about sexually assaulting women has been elected president.

“I have a large family. I have one daughter and twelve granddaughters. The texts, emails and phone calls I have received from them have been filled with fear – fear for themselves, fear for their Hispanic and African American friends, for their Muslim and Jewish friends, for their LBGT friends, for their Asian friends. I’ve felt their tears and I’ve felt their fear.

“We as a nation must find a way to move forward without consigning those who Trump has threatened to the shadows. Their fear is entirely rational, because Donald Trump has talked openly about doing terrible things to them. Every news piece that breathlessly obsesses over inauguration preparations compounds their fear by normalizing a man who has threatened to tear families apart, who has bragged about sexually assaulting women and who has directed crowds of thousands to intimidate reporters and assault African Americans. Their fear is legitimate and we must refuse to let it fall through the cracks between the fluff pieces.

“If this is going to be a time of healing, we must first put the responsibility for healing where it belongs: at the feet of Donald Trump, a sexual predator who lost the popular vote and fueled his campaign with bigotry and hate. Winning the electoral college does not absolve Trump of the grave sins he committed against millions of Americans. Donald Trump may not possess the capacity to assuage those fears, but he owes it to this nation to try.

“If Trump wants to roll back the tide of hate he unleashed, he has a tremendous amount of work to do and he must begin immediately.”


I hope that gave David Broder a heart attack even though he’s technically dead.

Rage against the machine

[ 283 ] November 11, 2016 |

Following up on yesterday’s post regarding the popular vote:

(1) The LA Times reports this morning that more than 4.3 million California ballots are yet to be counted.  If the current 62/33 split between Clinton and Trump holds, that’s another 1.3 million net votes for Clinton.  She already has a 350K lead in the official national count, so a final margin somewhere between 1.5 and 2 million seems likely.

(2) In my younger and more vulnerable years I remember quite distinctly that the possibility of a candidate winning the EC while losing the popular vote was talked about as if it were a potential political problem of the first order, perhaps even rising to the level of a constitutional crisis. So why is this outcome now considered just one of those things/those are the rules/wisdom of the framers or whatever, besides the always applicable principle that IOKIYAR?

Keep in mind that prior to 2000 something like this hadn’t happened since the 19th century, at a time when the large majority of the US adult population was disenfranchised anyway. Then we got Bush v. Gore, in which the candidate who won the popular vote had the EC stolen from him by the Rule of Law, as manifested by the Federalist Society’s Strict Constructionist Supreme Court (Seriously fuck all these people.  Since I’m supposed to be a prissy law professor I’m not supposed to swear in public, but I’m going to make an exception for at least the next four years, along with exceptions to other rules, like don’t drink before 10 AM. Just kidding/not kidding).

One of the under-rated invidious effects of the 2000 election is that it was so supremely fucked up in so many ways that people sort of rolled with the “losing” candidate winning the popular vote, or at least it didn’t get nearly the attention it would have if not for all the other shenanigans.

Anyway, if not for Antonin Scalia’s band of merry pranksters this present catastrophe, in which the losing candidate is going to get well north of a million more votes than the winner, would probably resonate more with the public as being the travesty of basic democratic values that it in fact represents.

The popular vote

[ 248 ] November 10, 2016 |

Hillary Clinton is probably going to end up about two million votes ahead of President for life -elect Donald Trump in the national popular vote, once all of California’s votes are counted, as nearly 3.7 million votes in that state still haven’t been tallied (BTW what’s up with that? If California’s EC votes were crucial to the outcome and it was a closely contested state would we have to wait days or weeks to find out who won the election?

One argument that you’ll hear a lot is this one, as stated in comments by Dilan Esper:

I said this before, but “winning the popular vote” is a great argument for abolishing the electoral college but a terrible argument for declaring Trump, W, or any other President illegitimate.

Campaigns work the way they do due to the electoral college. They choose which states to campaign in, to spend resources in, and to get out the vote in. If the popular vote were the metric, they would deploy those resources very differently. They would run up the score in heavily red and blue states, for instance.

That ISN’T saying that Hillary wouldn’t have won. She probably would have. But it would have been a different election, and we don’t know for certain that Trump wouldn’t have found a different allocation of resources that got him over the finish line.

I really don’t look forward to four years of “Hillary won the popular vote”, unless it ends in reform of the electoral college.

It’s true of course that the campaign would have been waged differently if it consisted of a national popular vote instead of dozens of winner take all EC state elections.  But this only makes the argument for the illegitimacy of a popular vote loser/EC winner stronger.

After all, if Clinton and Trump had each poured resources into California and New York, what would have happened? What would have happened is eminently predictable: more people would have voted, which means, given the demographics of those states, Clinton’s margin of victory in the popular vote would have been even larger. The only large state that wasn’t hotly contested and that voted for Trump was Texas, so if the election had been a national popular vote its safe to say that Clinton would have won the popular vote by an even larger margin.

The business we’ve chosen

[ 409 ] November 10, 2016 |

“In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics.’ All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.”


Glenn Greenwald’s election postmortem concludes that the election of Donald Trump was a failure of “the elites” and the Democratic party:

THE PARALLELS BETWEEN the U.K.’s shocking approval of the Brexit referendum in June and the U.S.’ even more shocking election of Donald Trump as president last night are overwhelming. Elites (outside of populist right-wing circles) aggressively unified across ideological lines in opposition to both. Supporters of Brexit and Trump were continually maligned by the dominant media narrative (validly or otherwise) as primitive, stupid, racist, xenophobic, and irrational. In each case, journalists who spend all day chatting with one another on Twitter and congregating in exclusive social circles in national capitals — constantly re-affirming their own wisdom in an endless feedback loop — were certain of victory. Afterward, the elites whose entitlement to prevail was crushed devoted their energies to blaming everyone they could find except for themselves, while doubling down on their unbridled contempt for those who defied them, steadfastly refusing to examine what drove their insubordination.

I can’t comment on the parallels with Brexit, since I know hardly anything about British politics, but the claim that America’s elites unified to oppose Donald Trump is plausible only if by “elites” you mean David Brooks, Ross Douhat, and George Will, as opposed to, say, the Republican party.

And just to be clear, by the Republican party I mean that party’s entire leadership class, almost every one of its elected officials at the federal and state level, its money, its many and various propaganda outlets, etc. etc.

Moving right along:

Put simply, Democrats knowingly chose to nominate a deeply unpopular, extremely vulnerable, scandal-plagued candidate, who — for very good reason — was widely perceived to be a protector and beneficiary of all the worst components of status quo elite corruption. It’s astonishing that those of us who tried frantically to warn Democrats that nominating Hillary Clinton was a huge and scary gamble — that all empirical evidence showed that she could lose to anyone and Bernie Sanders would be a much stronger candidate, especially in this climate — are now the ones being blamed: by the very same people who insisted on ignoring all that data and nominating her anyway.

Put even more simply, “Democrats” here means the vast majority of the people who voted in the Democratic primaries.  Unless you subscribe to the theory that the critical causal factor producing this outcome was the moment Donna Brazile gave Hillary Clinton a heads-up that a debate in Flint, MI, would feature a question about lead in the water supply, this electoral outcome suggests that Democratic voters — not some cabal of shadowy cosmopolitan elites — chose Hillary Clinton, despite her immense unpopularity (attentive readers will begin to detect some possible contradictions in this narrative), and despite all those “scandals” (which consisted of what again exactly?).

I think I have a little bit of cred on the questions Glenn’s essay is addressing.  I was arguing sixteen months ago that Trump had a very real shot at both the GOP nomination and the presidency, because he was a skilled populist demagogue, who was already successfully exploiting the intersection of racism and economic anxiety.

I supported Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries.  I criticized Hillary Clinton sharply on numerous occasions for her far-too-cozy relationship with banksters and war criminals. I deplored the combination of greed and extreme tone deafness that led an already very rich person to take many millions in speaking fees from financial interests during the short time between her tenure at State and the formal beginning of her presidential run.

So yes I agree, wholeheartedly and without reservation, that Hillary Clinton was a flawed candidate. But there’s an extra word in that sentence. It’s the extra word that would still be in that sentence if you replaced the name “Hillary Clinton” with any other name in the recorded history of the world.

I’m too tired right now to give this topic the attention it deserves, but you really don’t get to avoid soiling yourself with the dirty business that is and always will be the business of politics by calling yourself a journalist.

If you helped bring about the election of Donald Trump by doing the best you could to publicize every sordid little detail of the Wikileaks data dumps that tumbled into your lap, then that’s what you did.

That’s what you did when everything was on the line. That’s how you decided, freely and consciously, to use your time and your very considerable talents. That’s what you chose to do at a moment of supreme moral and political crisis.

And that in its own small or perhaps not so small way is a tragedy.

Welcome to your new and improved Supreme Court

[ 118 ] November 9, 2016 |

Since basically all norms of American politics either have been or are in the process of being completely trashed, here’s a bright idea coming to Republican congressman near you, especially if you live in Wisconsin:

A 13 (or 15 or 17) member Supreme Court, full — some would say “packed” — with 41-year-old Federalist Society officers, close business associates and relatives of our soon to be president, Randy Barnett, etc.

This will require an act of Congress , but I doubt whether that sort of consideration is going to be terribly meaningful for the next few years.

It will probably be called the Constitutional Restoration Act.  Or maybe the New New Deal.


The airing of grievances

[ 448 ] November 9, 2016 |

I’ve got one to start: Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

She had pancreatic cancer in 2009.  Five year survival rate for early detection pancreatic cancer — which is seldom detected early but happened to be in her case — : 37%.

Anyway, the list is going to be a long one.


[ 139 ] November 8, 2016 |

I guess this settles the whole Nate Silver v. Sam Wang thing.

Seriously, in terms of electoral politics this is an unprecedented disaster for the country and the world.

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