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Category: General

The People Had Their Say

[ 84 ] December 2, 2016 |

Remember when the Republican Senate shredded the only norm—luck of timing—that stands between the Supreme Court’s standing as an institution and the implications of its complete politicization?

Here are some examples of the core logic that Republican officials used to justify their actions:

…. A lifetime appointment that could dramatically impact individual freedoms and change the direction of the court for at least a generation is too important to get bogged down in politics. The American people shouldn’t be denied a voice. —Grassley

…. We should let the American people decide the direction of the court. —Ryan

…. The only way to empower the American people and ensure they have a voice is for the next President to make the nomination to fill this vacancy. —Cornyn

…. The American people are perfectly capable of having their say on this issue, so let’s give them a voice. Let’s let the American people decide. The Senate will appropriately revisit the matter when it considers the qualifications of the nominee the next president nominates, whoever that might be. —McConnell

Well, the American people did have their say. They cast, by a 2.6 million vote margin, a plurality of votes for a major-party candidate with, for instance, the most expansive views of reproductive rights in decades. Clinton and Trump both made clear position on Supreme Court appointments. The public made it clear, by 48%-46%, that they preferred Clinton. While the libertarian ticket sent contradictory signals on the Court, you could make a strong case that over 50% of the public explicitly, and easily, rejected Trump’s and his party’s promises on Court nominations.

The point, I think, is obvious. No one need argue that Trump’s tiny margin of victory in the Electoral College—and his decisive defeat in the popular vote—renders his Presidency illegitimate. But the GOP made very clear that they wanted to give the American public a voice in the process. Democrats should, likewise, make it very clear that the Republican party must listen to that voice. Trump must nominate a moderate. If he won’t, the Democrats should filibuster and force McConnell to choose between, on the one hand, the nuclear option* getting rid of it for Supreme Court confirmation and, on the other, convincing Trump to choose a more bipartisan candidate.

There’s a larger issue here. Democrats have every right to use Clinton’s “mandate” as an integral part of their message when they oppose extremist Republican policies. And where they can hoist the Republicans by their own rhetorical petard? All the better.

*See Emmryss’ comment.



The Mainstream Media Is Guilty of Grotesque Malpractice

[ 340 ] December 2, 2016 |

This is remarkable, and severely damning:

This really should be the death of glib, sublimely confident arguments that changes in MESSAGING could have easily put Clinton over the top. Trump completely dominated press coverage. Some of this was negative, but especially on tv a lot of this was just stuff like unedited coverage of his rallies. Clinton was not, to put it mildly, given the same kind of opportunity to get her message out. Clinton didn’t get significantly more coverage than Trump during the Democratic National Convention. There’s no effective way of getting a message out in that kind of environment; the net effects of advertising just aren’t that powerful. And there were two cases in which Trump didn’t dominate coverage: EMAILS! and HILLARY CLINTON IS ON HER DEATHBED! If you want an explanation for why Trump, an unprecedentedly dishonest and corrupt candidate, was viewed by the public is being more honest than Hillary Clinton (who, if anything, is more honest than the typical politician), there you go. The idea that the media deserves a pass for putting an elephant on the scale because Hillary Clinton is a FLAWED CANDIDATE is beyond absurd.

I’d also say at this point assertions that Comey and EMAILS! — essentially the only story the media told about Clinton, other than that she was about to die — didn’t materially affect the outcome of the election are basically trooferism. Given how narrow the margins in the three decisive states are, if Comey’s grossly inappropriate editorializing, his grossly inappropriate “I found evidence that Hillary Clinton emailed her assistant” letter, and the O.J.-on-trail-for-murdering-Princess-Diana coverage that followed both were worth even a point to Trump that’s enough, and that estimate is almost certainly low. It’s possible that events could gave worked out so that the Democratic candidate could have overcome this massive disadvantage, but it’s just ridiculous to assert that it didn’t matter. It’s the single biggest reason why the election played out close enough to a partisanship-and-fundamentals election for Trump to triumph in the Electoral College Campus of Trump University.

…good point:

Whether this was intentional or not, assertions that it didn’t matter are just unserious.

The Triumph Of Misogyny

[ 219 ] December 2, 2016 |


One of the many reasons to be depressed by Trump narrowly capturing the Electoral College campus of Trump University:

She lost. We lost. Women lost. Racism, nationalism, and “economic anxiety” won. Misogyny beat feminism. Wives with pro-Trump husbands didn’t secretly pull the lever for Hillary—only 8 percent of Republican women voted for her. Pussy did not unsheathe her claws and grab back with enough fire and ferocity. Yes, the gender gap hit a historic high: 24 percent. Yes, in every demographic, more women than men voted Democratic. Yes, a narrow majority of Americans voted for the sane, competent, qualified woman for president—and in a normal country, she’d be heading to the White House. But in the United States, having the most votes doesn’t mean you win.

There are dozens of reasons why Trump won, but misogyny was a big part of it. And if you didn’t know women can be misogynistic, now you do. Trumpettes, if you voted for a grotesque liar, bankrupt, and groper with no public-service experience, the only candidate in 40 years not to have released his tax returns, don’t tell me you preferred him just because Hillary is “unlikable.” Judging men and women by such different standards is what female self-hatred is.

The Trump phenomenon was like an Internet comment thread come to life: aggressive, bullying, ignorant, and contemptuous of women. Consider the T-shirts: “Trump That Bitch.” “Proud to Be a Hillary Hater.” “I Wish Hillary Had Married OJ.” “She’s a Cunt/Vote for Trump.” “KFC Hillary Special: 2 Fat Thighs, 2 Small Breasts… Left Wing.” (KFC objected to that one.) As Vox reported, one of the biggest predictors of Trump support was “hostile sexism,” as revealed by the responses to statements like “Most women interpret innocent remarks or acts as being sexist” and “Many women are actually seeking special favors, such as hiring policies that favor women over men, under the guise of asking for equality.” The more you agreed with these statements, the more likely you were to be a Trump supporter. For his supporters, nothing Trump could say was so vile that it couldn’t be repositioned as a gloat: Get your grab-’em-by-the-pussy gear right here! In 20 years, will aging white guys don these items for special occasions—cherished trophies of their youth, like shirts from a favorite concert?

British Music Humor

[ 44 ] December 1, 2016 |

This should be true and not satire.

Mary Fisher, owner of the Demon Bean in Kilburn, took desperate measures after an infestation of laptop-wielding ‘digital nomads’ threatened her business.

She said: “They’d sit there, typing away, not buying anything. I had to take desperate measures, so I put on Liege & Lief by Fairport Convention, the one band it is not possible to like in an ironic way.

“There is nothing remotely cool about Fairport and their sincere evocations of the English folk tradition, combined with equally unfashionable rock elements.”

Freelance digital marketer Francesca Johnson said: “It is impossible to do my job without feeling zeitgeisty, and beardy warbling about fields and blacksmiths is the least zeitgeisty thing on the planet.

“If they got in some nomadic Tuareg synth players to beef it up a bit, I could get behind this. As it stands, it is everything I hate condensed into an earnest, six-minute stomp.

“I bet everyone who likes this voted for Brexit.

“Fortunately, there are another 40,000 cafes in walking distance where I can blog about Italian horror film chic while nursing a single espresso for five hours.”

I would totally go to this cafe. And I’d buy a cup of tea.

Sanctuary Cities and the Courts

[ 49 ] December 1, 2016 |


Noah Feldman argues that decades of conservative federalism will now help liberals on issues like sanctuary cities.

President-elect Donald Trump says he will make “sanctuary cities” help deport immigrants by taking away their federal funding if they don’t change their policies. The good news is that he and Congress can’t do it — not without violating the Constitution.

Two core rules of federalism preclude Trump’s idea: The federal government can’t coerce states (or cities) into action with a financial “gun to the head,” according to Supreme Court precedent developed by Chief Justice John Roberts in the 2012 Affordable Care Act case. And federal officials can’t “commandeer” state officials to do their work for them under a 1997 decision that involved gun purchases under the Brady Act.

Behold the revenge of conservative federalism: Judge-made doctrines developed to protect states’ rights against progressive legislation can also be used to protect cities against Trump’s conservative policies. Ain’t constitutional law grand?

As you may recall, Roberts’s landmark opinion in NFIB v. Sebelius both upheld Obamacare and gutted it at the same time. Roberts voted to uphold the individual insurance mandate as a permissible use of Congress’s power to tax. But he simultaneously struck down the Medicaid extension except insofar as states might choose it voluntarily.

The ACA as written threatened states with eventual withdrawal of essentially all their Medicaid funding unless they agreed to the extension of the program to millions of new patients.

Roberts analyzed the issue by saying that, under the spending clause of the Constitution, Congress can’t create a funding condition that is unrelated to the original funding purpose and is so coercive that it amounts to a “gun to the head” of the states. Roberts’s doctrine applies with full force to Trump’s threat to pull cities’ existing funding if they remain sanctuaries by declining to cooperate with federal officials to enforce immigration law.

Well, maybe. The problem is taking conservative arguments in good faith. What is to say a newly conservative Supreme Court won’t just change its mind for cases that help conservative positions? While it’s possible that Kennedy wouldn’t go along with some of that, if Trump gets to name 2 or more justices, the likelihood of the Court being more hacktackular than it already is goes up tremendously. I guess the liberals can use the federalism arguments in its favor and that’s great for the time being. But that’s no guarantee of anything at all.

North Carolina

[ 39 ] December 1, 2016 |

The biggest long-term threat of Trumpism is the end of democracy. That might sound like hyperbole, but it isn’t. All we have to do is look at the last several years in North Carolina, where Pat McCrory and the extremists in the Republican legislature have gone to incredible lengths to ensure they remain in power. That has included such out of control gerrymandering that the courts just threw out their districts and ordered new elections to be held next year. It has included excluding as many black people from voting as possible. It has even included talk of courtpacking since the Democrats took control over the court this year. Even with that, just enough North Carolina voters rejected McCrory that he narrowly lost his reelection bid. And yet, McCrory is refusing to give up power, lying about widespread voter fraud and seeking every possible way to remain in control. It’s so obvious and blatant that even North Carolina Republicans haven’t been willing to go this far. But it is still absolutely outrageous.

Mr. McCrory has refused to concede, and despite having no path to victory, he has been engaged in an all-out assault on the integrity of the election system. His fight appears likely to serve as rationale for a renewed effort in the legislature to make North Carolina’s voting laws and regulations even more onerous.

The McCrory campaign has alleged that his defeat resulted from “massive voter fraud,” an irresponsible claim for which there is no evidence. It challenged the eligibility of 43 voters, contending they were felons. A review of public records by Democracy North Carolina, a voting rights group, established that nearly half of those voters were not, in fact, ineligible.

“It’s scandalous that they would malign innocent people to poison the larger public’s trust in the election system,” Bob Hall, the executive director of Democracy North Carolina, said in an interview. It’s dishonorable for Mr. McCrory to promote voting fraud myths and add fuel to voter suppression efforts as he’s going out the door.

But dishonorable is how McCrory rolls. It’s how the Republican Party rolls. It’s how Donald Trump rolls. And it’s how they are all going to roll if they lose in 2020, despite the massive voter suppression about to happen in many states, if not nationally. Expect Trump to strongly resist giving up the Oval Office, even if he loses by a reasonably significant margin.

Concern Trolling from Cousin Ross

[ 144 ] December 1, 2016 |


Ross Douthat is VERY CONCERNED about the future of the Democratic Party. You may be shocked at his solution–the party should move to the right!

For instance: Democrats could attempt to declare a culture-war truce, consolidating the gains of the Obama era while disavowing attempts to regulate institutions and communities that don’t follow the current social-liberal line. That would mean no more fines for Catholic charities and hospitals, no more transgender-bathroom directives handed down from the White House to local schools, and restraint rather than ruthlessness in future debates over funding and accreditation for conservative religious schools. Without backing away from their support for same-sex marriage and legal abortion, leading Democratic politicians could talk more favorably about moral and religious pluralism, and offer reassurances to people who feel themselves to be dissenters from a very novel cultural regime.

Democrats could also talk anew about the virtues of earned benefits, about programs that help people who help themselves, about moving people from welfare back to work. This (Bill) Clintonian rhetoric hasn’t entirely disappeared from the party, but it has diminished, and some of the Trumpian (and pre-Trumpian) backlash against liberalism in white working-class communities was associated with welfare programs — disability rolls, food stamps, Medicaid — that seem to effectively underwrite worklessness at a time of social disarray. It would not require Democrats abandoning their commitment to the social safety net to foreground programs more directly linked to work and independence, and to acknowledge the problems of dependence and stagnation associated with no-strings-attached support.

In other words, Democrats should hold the precise positions of one Ross Douthat! This is a sure-fire winner moving forward! Please take this with all the seriousness it is worth!

Bernie Sanders Is Making Sense

[ 84 ] December 1, 2016 |


This is how to respond to the Trump/Pence Carrier grift:

President-elect Donald Trump will reportedly announce a deal with United Technologies, the corporation that owns Carrier, that keeps less than 1,000 of the 2,100 jobs in America that were previously scheduled to be transferred to Mexico. Let’s be clear: It is not good enough to save some of these jobs. Trump made a promise that he would save all of these jobs, and we cannot rest until an ironclad contract is signed to ensure that all of these workers are able to continue working in Indiana without having their pay or benefits slashed.

In exchange for allowing United Technologies to continue to offshore more than 1,000 jobs, Trump will reportedly give the company tax and regulatory favors that the corporation has sought. Just a short few months ago, Trump was pledging to force United Technologies to “pay a damn tax.” He was insisting on very steep tariffs for companies like Carrier that left the United States and wanted to sell their foreign-made products back in the United States. Instead of a damn tax, the company will be rewarded with a damn tax cut. Wow! How’s that for standing up to corporate greed? How’s that for punishing corporations that shut down in the United States and move abroad?

In essence, United Technologies took Trump hostage and won. And that should send a shock wave of fear through all workers across the country.

The Carrier “only more than half the jobs are leaving” scam is classic Trump: a con to cover up a grift. But when much of the media rewards you like you helped workers and fulfilled a campaign promise, why not?


[ 141 ] December 1, 2016 |

The House Science Committee, ladies and gentlemen.

Breaking: Donald Trump Is A Republican Plutocrat

[ 342 ] December 1, 2016 |


Finally, Wall Street loses influence in the White House:

Now Mr. Trump has named a former Goldman executive and co-investor with Mr. Soros to spearhead his economic policy.

With Wednesday’s nomination of Steven Mnuchin, a Goldman trader turned hedge fund manager and Hollywood financier, to be Treasury secretary, a new economic leadership is taking shape in Washington.

Mr. Mnuchin will join Wilbur L. Ross Jr., a billionaire investor in distressed assets, who has been chosen to run the Commerce Department, and Todd Ricketts, owner of the Chicago Cubs, who has been picked to be deputy commerce secretary. All are superwealthy and to be overseen by the first billionaire president in United States history.

That two investors — Mr. Mnuchin and Mr. Ross — will occupy two major economic positions in the new administration is the most powerful signal yet that Mr. Trump plans to emphasize policies friendly to Wall Street, like tax cuts and a relaxation of regulation, in the early days of his administration.

While that approach has been cheered by investors (the stocks of Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have been on a tear since the election), it stands in stark contrast to the populist campaign that Mr. Trump ran and the support he received from working-class voters across the country.

I’d have to say the Assange/Henwood Book of Hot Takes on Clinton’s Goldman Sachs speeches is more timely than ever!

It’s easy to make fun of the ordinary working class voters who pulled the lever for massive financial deregulation and upper-class tax cuts, but given that the media doesn’t report on policy they have an excuse. Pundits on the nominal left who argued with a straight face that Hillary Clinton was Wall Street’s candidate don’t.

…more on Mnuchin.

America’s Test Kitchen: The Make-Ahead Cook

[ 41 ] December 1, 2016 |


The Make-Ahead Cook came in a few days ago and I’ve already made two recipes from it. My verdict? If the rest of the recipes are as good as these inaugural dishes, this will become a go-to cookbook for me.

The Make-Ahead Cook is a collection of recipes that are meant to be assembled on one day, then finished and enjoyed hours–or days–later. It’s a collection of make-ahead braises, casseroles, slow-cooker dishes, and ready-to-cook meals that hold up well in the refrigerator. So, for instance, the make-ahead fried pork chops are coated in crunchy cornflakes, not breadcrumbs, which would get soggy during the wait. They also created recipes with an eye towards dishes with flavors intensified as they sat.

These guys are too good. The bastards turned me into a vegan,for a night anyway. I made their Butternut Squash and Swiss Chard Stew (confession: I used kale) and it was great the night of; it was divine the next day. So it’s a soup that really does benefit from many hours of simply sitting. (I didn’t have the time to let it sit for the recommended time.) I served it over rice and it was a hearty, complete vegan meal in a bowl.

I also made the Asian-Braised Slow-Cooker Beef Short Ribs, an astonishingly simple and delicious recipe with 6 ingredients, total. Which brings me to my next point: If you know anything about ATK recipes you know that at times they can be a bit…fussy. To be fair, they nearly always use ingredients that any home cook can get easily. However, some of their instructions can seem a bit, oh, pain-in-the-butty. But if the two dishes I made are any indication, this cookbook is decidedly unfussy.

I’m all in. For folks who like to who like to free up time in the evenings this collection is straight up a must-have.

Your semi-regular reminder that millions of more people voted for Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump

[ 169 ] December 1, 2016 |

Clinton’s popular vote margin is up to 2.51 million ballots.   She is now nearly two full percentage points ahead of Trump.

I keep seeing pieces (like this one in Vox) which assume that the popular vote count is basically done, and which proceed to analyze it on that basis.  It isn’t, and won’t be for another two weeks or so.  By that time Clinton is likely to have almost as many votes as Obama got in 2012, and will have won the popular vote by a margin exceeding that achieved by a whole bunch of winning candidates.

Imagine if people had known on election night, or even one or two days later, that Clinton had gotten three million more votes than Trump.  But because of our archaic voting processes this information has taken weeks to leak out, at which point the impact of what should be a shocking fact has been blunted by various psychological and practical factors.  Hence it’s important to keep reminding people that this happened.

. . . Dilan in comments seems to be making some sort of sore-loser stop-whining argument, which sounds like concern trolling to me (I don’t think it’s intended that way but that’s how it comes across).

If Clinton had won the electoral college but lost the popular vote by millions, there would be quite literally riots in the streets, with Trump himself egging them on, while the media would be agonizing about how “the system” could have failed so badly.

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