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This Is Reassuring

[ 12 ] May 24, 2016 |


Say what you will about Woody Johnson, the man has an eye for talent: Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow, Mitt Romney, Jeb! Bush. He’s backing another winner:

New York Jets owner Woody Johnson is the latest major Republican donor and fundraiser to get behind Donald Trump, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Johnson, who was finance chairman for Jeb Bush’s failed presidential campaign, plans to raise money for the Republican National Committee and Trump through a joint fundraising committee, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Johnson met with Trump Monday and is prepared to lean on potential donors to get on board, the person said.

For years, Johnson has been a major player in fundraising circles. He was a bundler for the Republican candidate in each of the past four elections, and has written some big checks himself, including the $500,000 he contributed to Right to Rise, the super-PAC that supported Bush. Johnson is likely to donate some of his own money this year, too, the source said.

Johnson, who has known Trump for years, has had an even bigger impact as a bundler. In May 2008, he arranged a fundraiser for John McCain’s cash-starved presidential campaign that brought in $7 million in a single evening. Johnson was also a top bundler for George W. Bush’s 2000 and 2004 campaigns and for Mitt Romney’s 2012 effort.

His tastes in political candidates and quarterbacks are similarly unerring:

20 (51). New York Jets: Christian Hackenberg | Grade: D-

The Jets have been looking for a quarterback and they’re taking the chance on Hackenberg. The tape has been horrible, and that includes his freshman year that everyone touts as his saving grace. He’s been one of the most inaccurate quarterbacks in college football for three straight years and his -12.1 overall grade ranked 41st in this draft class alone in 2015. The Jets are hoping that he can be a reclamation project, but he has to take monumental strides to become a viable NFL quarterback.

Hackenberg had a 53.5 COMP% as a junior. Woof! I think I understand why Fitzpatrick’s agent isn’t blinking.


Don’t Forget the Drug-Running At Mena!

[ 60 ] May 24, 2016 |


Some more real authenticity from Donald Trump:

In one recent interview, Trump said another topic of potential concern is the suicide of former White House aide Vincent Foster, which remains the focus of intense and far-fetched conspiracy theories on the Internet.

“It’s the one thing with her, whether it’s Whitewater or whether it’s Vince Foster or whether it’s Benghazi. It’s always a mess with Hillary,” Trump said in the interview.

Well, all three of these things involve equally scandalous behavior by Hillary Clinton, you have to give him that.

Oh Brother

[ 173 ] May 23, 2016 |

Trump_the_art_of_the_dealAbove: a book Donald Trump may or may not have read


Leaving aside the worthlessness of “authenticity” as a criterion of value, Donald Trump? Nothing says “authenticity” like a rich blowhard with a bad toupee and an almost aggressive indifference to the truth (not to mention his previously expressed views.)

This wouldn’t be worth mentioning except that Sanders made the, ah, interesting choice to make West one of his choices for the platform committee. I guess if he wants to use this the committee a vehicle for trolling that’s his privilege, but it strikes me that someone who not only believes that Barack Obama has been a terrible president but considers it obvious that everyone on the left side of the American political spectrum thinks Barack Obama has been a terrible president is not going to be a very effective negotiator with a group of powerful party regulars.

The Crucial Questions for Getting to Universal Health Coverage

[ 22 ] May 23, 2016 |


This is a really valuable discussion. Pollack uses “single payer” as a synecdoche for “European-style health care,” and I continue to think it’s obvious that the hybrid European systems are vastly more likely destinations for the American system than single payer. But that doesn’t really matter, because most or these questions are equally pertinent to a transition to any system of universal or near-universal coverage. Politically, #6 and #7 are the key roadblocks leading to the questions in #10.

Today In Developments That Perhaps Could Have Been Anticipated

[ 50 ] May 23, 2016 |


Far be it from me to challenge the unimpeachable integritude of the NFL’s leadership, but:

At least a half-dozen top NFL health officials waged an improper, behind-the-scenes campaign last year to influence a major U.S. government research study on football and brain disease, congressional investigators have concluded in a new report obtained by Outside the Lines.

The 91-page report describes how the NFL pressured the National Institutes of Health to strip the $16 million project from a prominent Boston University researcher and tried to redirect the money to members of the league’s committee on brain injuries. The study was to have been funded out of a $30 million “unrestricted gift” the NFL gave the NIH in 2012.

After the NIH rebuffed the NFL’s campaign to remove Robert Stern, an expert in neurodegenerative disease who has criticized the league, the NFL backed out of a signed agreement to pay for the study, the report shows. Taxpayers ended up bearing the cost instead.

The NFL’s actions violated policies that prohibit private donors from interfering in the NIH peer-review process, the report concludes, and were part of a “long-standing pattern of attempts” by the league to shape concussion research for its own purposes.

“In this instance, our investigation has shown that while the NFL had been publicly proclaiming its role as funder and accelerator of important research, it was privately attempting to influence that research,” the report states.

Speaking of egregious misconduct by the NFL’s leadership, I think it’s enormously unlikely that the 2nd Circuit will hear Brady’s appeal en banc, but the NFLPA is dragging out the heavy artillery.

The End of the Post-Brown Dream, Cont’d

[ 93 ] May 23, 2016 |


Today’s decision, given Rodriguez, means that there is no violation of the Equal Protection Clause though the schools are segregated by race and though the black schools are not only “separate” but “inferior.”

So far as equal protection is concerned, we are now in a dramatic retreat from the 7-to-1 decision in 1896 that blacks could be segregated in public facilities, provided they received equal treatment.

As I indicated in Keyes v. School District No. 1 Denver, Colorado, there is, so far as the school cases go, no constitutional difference between de facto and de jure segregation. Each school board performs state action for Fourteenth Amendment purposes when it draws the lines that confine it to a given area, when it builds schools at particular sites, or when it allocates students.

Milliken v. Bradley (1974), Douglas J. (dissenting.)

Poor, black and Hispanic children are becoming increasingly isolated from their white, affluent peers in the nation’s public schools, according to new federal data showing that the number of high-poverty schools serving primarily black and brown students more than doubled between 2001 and 2014.

The data was released by the Government Accountability Office on Tuesday, 62 years to the day after the Supreme Court decided that segregated schools are “inherently unequal” and therefore unconstitutional.

That landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education began the dismantling of the dual school systems — one for white kids, one for black students — that characterized so many of the nation’s communities. It also became a touchstone for the ideal of public education as a great equalizer, an American birthright meant to give every child a fair shot at success.

But that ideal appears to be unraveling, according to Tuesday’s GAO report.

The proportion of schools segregated by race and class — where more than 75 percent of children receive free or reduced-price lunch and more than 75 percent are black or Hispanic — climbed from 9 percent to 16 percent of schools between 2001 and 2014. The number of the most intensively segregated schools — with more than 90 percent of low-income students and students of color — more than doubled over that period.

The Horror

[ 520 ] May 22, 2016 |

nbc-fires-donald-trump-after-he-calls-mexicans-rapists-and-drug-runnersBoth Sides Do It!

I hope that Ralph Nader has rendered this kind of thing politically inconsequential, but for Chrissakes:

If you look at an electoral contest between the most progressive platform a Democratic presidential candidate has run on in a long time and an orange-hued Mussolini and you conclude that they’re essentially the same because “corporate,” I’m not sure what to tell you. But I guess it does help to explain why Stein, who seems to have real political talent and could make a real contribution to progressive politics, prefers empty wankery instead.

Speaking of Saint Ralph, I see the “public interest” organization he founded continues to share the attitude he’s always displayed towards people who work for him.

Shelby County: The Gift That Keeps On Giving

[ 18 ] May 21, 2016 |


John Roberts’s masterpiece in the field of self-refuting simulacra of constitutional law continues to have the desired effect:

On Thursday, federal district court judge Henry Hudson upheld Virginia’s voter ID law, despite hearing many stories like Okiakpe’s of voters burdened by the law. Hudson, a George W. Bush appointee once known as “Hang ‘Em High Henry” for his tough on crime record, was also the first judge to rule against Obamacare. His decision will make it harder for the 200,000 Virginia voters without a driver’s license to cast a ballot.

Virginia first passed a voter-ID law in 2012, which accepted non-photo IDs like a utility bill, pay stub, bank statement, government check, or Social Security card. The Justice Department approved the law. But after Barack Obama carried Virginia in 2012, the GOP-controlled legislature significantly toughened the law, accepting “only drivers licenses, voter ID cards, student IDs, and concealed handgun permits,” MSNBC reported.

The change needed approval from the DOJ or a federal court, but was allowed to go into effect after the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in June 2013, ruling that states like Virginia with a long history of voting discrimination no longer had to submit their voting changes for federal approval. (The state tried to exclude any “evidence of Virginia’s history of racial discrimination” from being heard in the case as “not relevant.”)


There’s now overwhelming evidence that voter-ID laws are designed not to combat nonexistent voter impersonation but to make it harder for Democratic-leaning constituencies to vote. Yet conservative judges in states like Virginia and North Carolina keep upholding these laws.

This underscores the importance of changing the courts, particularly the Supreme Court that gutted the VRA. Donald Trump released his short list of very conservative Supreme Court nominees this week. It’s important to remember that both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders would appoint very different people to the bench.

The Joe Arpaio of the Federal Judiciary

[ 67 ] May 20, 2016 |


Strikes again:

A federal judge with a history of anti-immigrant sentiment ordered the federal government to turn over the names, addresses and “all available contact information” of over 100,000 immigrants living within the United States. He does so in a strange order that quotes extensively from movie scripts and that alleges a conspiracy of attorneys “somewhere in the halls of the Justice Department whose identities are unknown to this Court.”

It appears to be, as several immigration advocates noted shortly after the order was handed down, an effort to intimidate immigrants who benefit from certain Obama administration programs from participating in those programs, lest their personal information be turned over to people who wish them harm. As Greisa Martinez, Advocacy Director for United We Dream, said in a statement, the judge is “asking for the personal information of young people just to whip up fear” — fear, no doubt, of what could happen if anti-immigrant state officials got their hands on this information. Or if the information became public.

The judge is Andrew Hanen, who conservative attorneys opposed to President Obama’s immigration policies appear to have sought out specifically because of his belief that America does not treat immigrants with sufficient hostility. Texas v. United States was filed shortly after President Obama announced policy changes that would permit close to 5 million undocumented immigrants to temporarily work and remain in the country. As the name of the case suggests, the lead plaintiff is the State of Texas, yet the Texas Attorney General’s office did not file this case in Austin, the state’s capitol. Instead, they filed it over five hours away in the town of Brownsville.

Why Did #NeverTrump Fail?

[ 199 ] May 20, 2016 |


For multiple reasons, but if you had to boil it down to two variables there would be 1)collective action problems and 2) the alternative candidates were lousy:

The persistence of coordination issues at this stage suggests a key facet of Republicans’ predicament. Failures in the nomination stage can be attributed to slow movement, incorrect interpretation of what the Iowa results meant for Rubio, and, later on, an overemphasis on being against Trump rather than for another candidate. But the overarching theme here is that bargaining has broken down because, in many cases, no one has anything that anyone else wants.

This is the principle that unifies several of the different coordination failures. First, elites’ inability to successfully signal to the voters that they were supposed to line up behind Jeb, then Rubio. Elites coordinated, and voters didn’t care, as one of my party politics students observed. Second, this helps explain the inability of candidates to coordinate to stop Trump.


You could probably pinpoint the start of the #NeverTrump movement as the publication of the National Review issue dedicated to declarations against the candidate. The NeverTrump folks really got going after Super Tuesday, when Trump swept the contests and Rubio had an especially disappointing night (sorry, Minnesota caucuses).

In a lot of ways, the #NeverTrump effort looked the most like a coordinated movement within the party of anything that happened in this nomination season. But it forgot something: a candidate. Rubio stayed in the race for two more weeks, and the elephant in the room (no, I will never tire of that pun) was that the polarizing and widely disliked Cruz was the most viable alternative. Furthermore, what did the NeverTrump movement have to offer potential supporters? What kinds of credible threats could it make?

A Strawman Appropriately Repurposed

[ 191 ] May 19, 2016 |


Ross Douthat finds the “smug style of American liberalism” guff news he can use:

THE rise of Donald Trump, and with him a white-identity politics more explicit than anything America has seen in decades, has created an interesting division on the political left — over the question of what, if anything, liberal politics ought to offer to people who seem bigoted.

On the one hand there are liberals determined to regard Trumpism as almost exclusively motivated by racial and cultural resentments, with few legitimate economic grievances complicating the morality play. From this perspective, the fact that Trump’s G.O.P. has finally consolidated, say, a once-Democratic area like Appalachia is almost a welcome relief: At last all the white racists are safely in the other party, and we don’t have to cater to them anymore.

On the other hand, there are left-wingers who regard Trump’s support among erstwhile Democrats as a sign that liberalism has badly failed some of its natural constituents, and who fear that a Democratic coalition that easily crushes Trump without much white working-class support will simply write off their struggles as no more than the backward and bigoted deserve.

I like how the left-wing gadfly Fredrik deBoer framed this issue: “What do you owe to people who are guilty of being wrong?” It’s a question for liberals all across the Western world to ponder, given the widening gulf between their increasingly cosmopolitan parties and an increasingly right-leaning native working class.

He definitely gets where deBoer and Rensin are coming from. And between the three of them, they have collectively identified zero liberals who share the set of beliefs (“white working class Trump voters have no legitimate economic grievances and we should not try to help them materially”) attributed to them.

I won’t repeat my previous arguments about this in full, but to summarize: nobody (well, not literally, it’s a big internet and I’m sure someone in a comments section somewhere is saying something dumb, not nobody of any influence) is saying that because racism a major factor in Trump’s support that federal economic policy should not try to help Trump voters. The argument is against the pundit’s fallacy that if you materially help the kind of working class voters in states like West Virginia that now support Trump and Republicans for federal office they will immediately start voting for liberal Democrats for federal office. But, of course, the fact that (for example) greatly expanding Medicaid hasn’t helped Democrats even in the red states that have taken the expansion like Kentucky doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done, and I defy you to name me one liberal Democrat who thinks otherwise.

In addition, although people like Rensin and deBoer can’t see it because this is more about their hatred of liberals than any kind of serious political analysis, the fact that white supremacy constitutes a factor (not a monocausal factor, but a factor) in explaining white working class support for Trump is also a powerful argument against 90s-era DLC gestures to the right, which didn’t stop West Virginia and Kentucky and Tennessee from going deep red either. To the best of their ability, Democrats in federal office should strengthen the safety net and expand access to health care and expand labor protections and increase regulation of business where necessary because it’s the right thing to do. Doing so doesn’t guarantee electoral victories, but not doing it doesn’t guarantee electoral success either.

One other example in the liberals=neoliberals=conservatives trend that I hope will not persist in the same volume after the primaries are over:

As Bouie says, it’s an impressively layered strawman — pretend to believe that racism is about individual morality rather than structural inequality, so that you can falsely attribute to left-liberals a belief that if working class voters have racist beliefs the government shouldn’t do anything for them. As an alternative, one could argue with actually existing liberal arguments, but I guess that would be too much work.

11 White Reactionaries

[ 72 ] May 19, 2016 |


If you like Sam Alito, you’ll love who Donald Trump would nominate to the Supreme Court. In conclusion, not a dime’s worth of difference!

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