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Category: General


[ 193 ] July 23, 2016 |
U.S. senatorial candidate and former Virginia Governor Tim Kaine addresses the first session of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S. September 4, 2012. REUTERS/Jason Reed/File Photo

U.S. senatorial candidate and former Virginia Governor Tim Kaine addresses the first session of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S. September 4, 2012. REUTERS/Jason Reed/File Photo

People who bet the chalk were right. I’ll probably have a piece about it, but a few quick points:

  • The pick is…fine. He wasn’t my first choice and still wouldn’t be, but the pick accomplishes the basic minimum of what is necessary in a vice presidential candidate, which is minimizing the downside risk. (As I will return to later, he’s far from unique in this respect, but he meets the standard.) He’s a moderate but not a Lieberman or anything. He’s not unqualified to be president, the media likes him, and  Clinton seems comfortable.
  • I don’t believe that there’s any significant mobilizing effect that comes from vice presidential selections, so I don’t really see a major political missed opportunity.
  • With all due respect, the concerns about abortion are specious. Trying to figure out what a politician REALLY THINKS is a useless mug’s game. Maybe his 100% NARAL rating is a product of shifts in the party. So what? It’s not shifting back, and Kaine would have no means to impose some kind of secret anti-abortion agenda even if he wanted to.
  • I have two reservations about the pick. First, it unnecessarily puts a Senate seat at risk. It’s not a dispositive factor like it is with Sherrod Brown — there’s a Democratic governor in Virginia, and the Democrats can probably (although not certainly) retain the seat in an off-year election. But it’s a negative factor. The second problem is that it plays into the narrative that a “safe choice” means “white guy.” What risk, exactly, is involved with Tom Perez, and extremely intelligent and well-educated person who has numerous public offices without scandal or notable gaffes?

The pick is acceptable but suboptimal — in other words, very Clinton.



The Imaginary Progressive Donald Trump

[ 146 ] July 22, 2016 |


One way of mainstreaming Donald Trump is to pretend that “I don’t think gay people should be subject to mass murder” is some sort of major concession to LGBT rights. Another strategy, which Ivanka Trump used last night, is to just outright lie and suggest that Trump is running on the Democratic platform rather than the Republican one:

And so, Trump continued, her father would “change labor laws that were put in place when women were not a significant portion of the workforce, focus on making quality child-care affordable and accessible for all.”

Trump went on to argue, correctly, that “policies that allow women with children to thrive should not be novelties, they should be the norm” and then claimed that while “politicians talk about wage equality,” her father “has made it a practice his entire career” and promised that Donald “will fight for equal pay for equal work and I will fight for this too, right alongside of him.”

This portion of Ivanka’s speech was beautifully delivered, cogent, and mostly right on the money. It was also, with regard to her father, an enormous crock.

If Ivanka Trump is looking to be part of a two-for-one presidential team that brings our labor, economic, and social policies up to speed regarding women’s participation in the workforce, she should really get on the phone with Hillary Clinton. Clinton is the candidate running on policy proposals that would cap child-care spending at 10 percent of family income, boost pay for child-care workers, implement early childhood home visiting programs. and guarantee paid family leave — the basic building block of humane workplace policy that this country so embarrassingly lacks.

Ivanka certainly shouldn’t cast a vote for her father, a man who has not only shown zero interest in addressing any of the workplace inequities his daughter laid out, but whose campaign rests partly on the premise of returning America to the earlier era Ivanka described, in which women were treated as dependents, not as economic actors or as professionals or as equals in any realm.

In fact, just hours before Trump’s daughter took the stage, his campaign manager, Paul Manafort, had given an interview in which he described Trump’s appeal to women lies with fact that “there are many women in this country who feel they can’t afford their lives; their husbands can’t afford to be paying for the family bills.”

This is the Trump’s campaign vision of women — they are wives whose economic concerns extend only to their husband’s earning power.

And if you believe this is some sort of internal dispute — that there is substantive tension between Manafort’s vision and Ivanka’s view, and hers will win out — I would submit that every available piece of evidence supports the fact that Trump himself, and certainly the party he is leading into November, wants to return women to a subservient past, and actively obstruct policies that would better support them, or treat them as fully human.

If not for the recent changes at Salon, I would bet that two recent prep-school dropouts would already have published pieces using Ivanka Trump’s speech as evidence that her father is actually to Clinton’s left.

Getting the Message

[ 77 ] July 22, 2016 |

His time has come again!

It’s official: David Duke is running for Congress.

The former Ku Klux Klan leader and one-term Republican member of the Louisiana House of Representatives said in a video announcing his candidacy Friday that he believes in “equal rights for all, and respect for all Americans.”

“However,” he added, “what makes me different is I also demand respect for the rights and the heritage of European Americans.”

Duke will seek an open seat vacated by Republican Sen. David Vitter, who announced last year that he would not be seeking re-election. More than a dozen other candidates have also signed up to replace the retiring senator.

To be Scrupulously Fair, the Republican Party is clear that it has no room for this kind of politics, with the notably rare exception of its nominee for President of the United States.

In better news

[ 24 ] July 22, 2016 |

HRM George Clinton is seventy five funkin’ years old today.

An appeals court has overturned Purvi Patel’s conviction for feticide. It’s far from perfect. She’ll be re-sentenced for neglect of a dependent, and the state has accomplished the goal of Setting an Example. But it is a vast improvement over 20 years in prison for daring to exercise control over her body.

Booker > Kaine

[ 413 ] July 22, 2016 |


Although he probably won’t be selected, Corey Booker is apparently at least somewhat in the running for Clinton’s VP slot. I’ve been having this argument with a lot of people for a while — including, at least back in the day, Brother Loomis — but can I note that Booker has one of the most liberal voting records in the Senate? Part of the difference between Booker (7th most liberal) and Kaine (41st) is political context. But not all of it — Booker has a more liberal voting record than Schumer or Gillibrand or Lautenberg. He’s been a leader on criminal justice reform. Sure, he has bad views on educational policy, but among elite liberals (including the one in the White House) this is the more the rule than the exception; I’m not sure why he gets singled out or how this could be some kind of dealbreaker. And, yes, he said some dumb (although not really policy-related) stuff about his Wall Street friends. But overall he’s been a more-than-solid liberal vote. This may be, in part, because he’s a young ambitious pol who sees which way the winds are blowing, but who cares? I’d still rather have Perez, but assuming that NJ Dems have a plausible candidate to replace him in November, he’d be a better pick than Kaine. And I still have no idea where the idea that Booker is another Lieberman or something comes from.

Oh dear, what can the matter be?

[ 56 ] July 22, 2016 |

What a puzzling phenomenon this is, to be sure.

The peak came in 2004, during the reelection effort for George W. Bush. That year, nearly 7 percent of the Republican delegates were black, including 16 percent of those from Louisiana, 13 percent of those from Maryland, and 13 percent of the delegates from New York and Michigan. By 2008, those figures had plummeted: 1.6 percent overall, including none from Louisiana and none from Maryland.

2008? What was it that happened in 2008 that might have caused African-American delegates to stay away from the RNC?

I’m sure it will come to me in a moment.

Lovelace told Capehart that his estimate from last month was still preliminary (hence the dotted line, above) and that the party was working with outside groups to “ensure people from diverse backgrounds are able to participate during the convention.” Attempts to contact Lovelace on Tuesday morning were not successful.

He may have realized that it was time to move on to a nice cushy think tank. Or he may have been chased off by a ululating Trump supporter. (BLUELIVESMATTERCRIMINALSANIMALSBUILDTHATWALLLLLRAAGH!)

Meanwhile, another Washington Post reporter thinks the GOP’s Trump’s racism racial controversies are the problem.

The standard press/pundit approaches to Trump’s racism scarcely warrant comment; white supremacy isn’t going to defend itself you know! But in this article the writer glissades past the outbreaks of violence at Trump’s rallies and the almost masturbatory delight Trump took in them.

…the overall lack of ethnic diversity at the convention illustrates one of his greatest challenges: how to court black voters after four decades of controversy over his racial views, including campaign-trail rhetoric that has alienated many minorities.

Follows a short list of examples (with bonus anti-Semitic stereotyping!) that the reader is supposed to pretend (or allows the reader to pretend) are unique to Trump, rather than things Republicans do on those rare occasions when parrots fly and dolphins live at sea.

Why ignore the violence? Perhaps the reporter is showing a bit of foresight. If he’s going to spend the next 3,000 months writing stories that treat Donald Trump as anything more than an ambulatory, semi-articulate grease clog with some attic insulation stuck on one end, it won’t do to note he once said he’d like to punch a protestor, indicated he would pay the legal fees of a man who did punch a protestor in the face, or expressed a fear of weaponized fruit. Or perhaps he just missed it, the way he seems to miss two presidential elections.

Twelve years ago, the GOP seemed on its way toward broadening its base, boasting 167 black delegates at its convention.

At first I thought that a 7ish% turnout is not something to boast about, but I was forgetting the IOKIYAR effect.

That year, President George W. Bush drew 16 percent of the black vote here in Ohio, unusually high for a Republican, to help secure his reelection, as well as 11 percent nationally,

Not mentioned: 2008, when McCain received 4% of the African-American vote, or 2012 when Romney received 7% (both worse than Reagan, after four years of Reagan). Why, it’s almost as though there’s a trend that can only missed if one ignores one decade + two years of history.

and party leaders had hoped to increase minority engagement in 2016.

Ha ha ha. And it would have worked. If successful minority engagement didn’t involve engaging minorities in any way that minorities would like to be engaged.

Maybe the GOP could start with making its party less welcoming to racists.

Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke says he plans to run for U.S. Senate in Louisiana.

Duke’s announcement came Friday on his website.

A registered Republican, he would be seeking an open seat vacated by Republican David Vitter.

Oh well, put it on the to-do list for 2020.

5CA Would Do Anything For the GOP, But They Won’t Do That

[ 52 ] July 22, 2016 |


It is not easy to pass a statute so egregiously discriminatory the Fifth Circuit won’t uphold it. But Texas managed to pull it off:

Texas’ law, and the similar ones being enacted by other state legislatures, are not just bad public policy — they also run afoul of federal law. While the Roberts court struck down a crucial provision of the Voting Rights Act in 2013, Section 2 of the Act — which forbids racially discriminatory state voting practices — remains in effect. The Fifth Circuit is a conservative, Republican-controlled court, and yet a 9-6 majority found that SB 14 violated the Voting Rights Act.


The majority opinion, written by Judge Catharina Haynes, was straightforward and powerful. More than 500,000 eligible voters in Texas lack the required ID. Various forms of statistical analysis confirm that racial minorities were far more likely to be affected by these requirements, and various individual cases confirm these effects. As a result, a majority of the court upheld the District Court’s determination that “SB 14 has a discriminatory effect on minorities’ voting rights in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.”

The lengthy, angry dissent by arch-conservative Judge Edith Jones defended the law using reasoning that would make it virtually impossible to find any vote suppression law illegal (which of course is the point.) Jones says that because the law did not affect the 90 percent of Texas minorities that had the required ID, the fact that those without the requisite IDs were overwhelmingly people of color does not represent racial discrimination. This is a transparently illogical claim.

The four Democratic nominees on the Supreme Court are nearly certain to agree with the Fifth Circuit’s decision, meaning it will almost certainly stand. As a result, SB 14 will not be permitted to go into effect in its current form.



Grading on a curve

[ 133 ] July 22, 2016 |


Donald Trump hasn’t lowered the bar in regard to political discourse in America: he’s drilled a hole halfway to the center of the Earth and thrown that bar down it.

So last night, when he didn’t call Obama the N word, or grab the ass of his daughter who he has more than once said he would like to have sex with (he just came awfully close), or suggest rounding up American Muslims and deporting them to Madagascar, he got a kind of credit for showing some restraint.

Although pretty much everybody agreed that as delivered the speech was interminable and boring and way too shouty, plenty of not-stupid people also described it as “powerful,” at least in its paper form.

This is grading on the Trump curve. Here’s a characteristic passage:

Americans watching this address tonight have seen the recent images of violence in our streets and the chaos in our communities. Many have witnessed this violence personally, some have even been its victims. I have a message for all of you: The crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon, and I mean very soon, come to an end. Beginning on January 20, 2017, safety will be restored.

This is pure cult of personality stuff. Besides relying on an exact inversion of the truth (violent crime in America is at historically low levels), it also indulges in unabashed magical thinking: the speech did not include any indication of how this miraculous overnight transformation of the world’s third-largest country was going to be achieved.

The whole thing was like that. The speech’s only message was: you are scared children, I am your stern but lovable daddy, and I will make it all better, don’t ask me how. Authoritarianism for Dummies, in other words.

How Stepped Pyramids Screwed Us Over, or, Respect to the Lurkers

[ 120 ] July 22, 2016 |

Aerial photo of Portland

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, the worst possible outcome for you tonight was watching Donald Trump’s speech to the Republican National Convention.

Wait, Donald Trump is the Republican nominee for president? What?

Anyway, tonight was the Portland LGM meetup. Thanks to Anna in PDX for setting it up. Good to meet Amanda in the South Bay. My old friend Solid Citizen was of course there because what would an Oregon meetup be without him? Stepped Pyramids pledged his (I think?) attendance. But Stepped Pyramids was a total no show. Probably couldn’t escape the Trump speech. We were devastated.

What was most interesting though is that almost everyone who came to the event said “oh, I’m sorry, I’m a lurker. I never comment.” It was a whole event full of lurkers. Which was great! I know that most of our readers never comment. So this thread goes out to them. Thanks so much for reading, even if you never comment. We really appreciate it. It was awesome to meet some of you.

So this is an open thread for lurkers. Obviously the most appropriate response is for this thread to get 0 comments since lurkers don’t comment. But if anyone wants to start, now’s a good time. But no pressure!

Easy Marks

[ 79 ] July 22, 2016 |

sessions trump

I just saw an MSNBC panel talk about how Trump is moderating the Republican stance on LBGT rights. This is insane.

I assume this is the passage of the speech that they’re talking about:

Only weeks ago, in Orlando, Florida, 49 wonderful Americans were savagely murdered by an Islamic terrorist. This time, the terrorist targeted our LGBT community. As your President, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBT citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology. To protect us from terrorism, we need to focus on three things.

As delivered, he twice added a “Q” to “LBGT,” and also pronounced the acronym like he was shitting an anvil. He also congratulated the audience for cheering.

Anyway, it’s nice that he’s using up-to-date terms, but the substance of what he’s saying here is that he’s opposed to gay and lesbian people being killed en masse. CONGRATULATIONS! He also has the courage to oppose ISIS and then offers a stupid, unspecific non-plan for combating them.

What are the other Republican policies on LBGT rights? Well, it involves lots of prejudice and discriminatory legal disabilities. It proposes overturning Obergefell and denying same-sex marriage rights to people in a majority of the states, opposing new federal antidiscrimination provisions and rolling back the ones that exist, making adoption by same-sex parents more difficult, and making conversion therapy for minors legal. Trump did not suggest that he opposes any of these policies, and his vice presidential candidate strongly supports them.

And yet, our nominally more liberal news network portrays this speech as some sort of sign that the Republican Party is becoming more tolerant, while also working to normalize the white nationalist authoritarianism of the speech. It’s astounding, and one of the reasons that Trump has a non-zero chance of winning.

That Thing That Happened Tonight, In One Tweet

[ 94 ] July 21, 2016 |

American Plutocracy: If You Lose, You Still Win

[ 44 ] July 21, 2016 |


Roger Ailes is out at Fox News. To review:

  • The 76-year-old Ailes is very credibly accused of having been a serial sexual harasser over the course of many years.
  • He makes and enormous amount of money and maintains a high social status while controlling an influential news network.
  • One of his victims finally decides to sue, greasing the skids for him,
  • And, although he’s already made enough money to live in luxury the rest of his life, he walks away with tens of millions of dollars.

I wonder what made him think he could get away with it?

In related news, Margaret Talbot’s summary is very good.

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