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Lighthearted (If Heavygutted) News

[ 25 ] December 2, 2016 |

In more amusing news than most of what we are seeing in the world these days, I’m glad the person in charge of the great 70s Dinner Party Twitter feed has published a book based upon it.

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Today in Trump’s America

[ 136 ] December 2, 2016 |

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Example #1: The execution of former Jets running back Joe McKnight.

Ronald Gasser, the man authorities say shot and killed former NFL player Joe McKnight, was released from custody overnight without being charged, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office authorities said Friday morning (Dec. 2).

Gasser, 54, has not been formally charged, said JPSO spokesman Col. John Fortunato. Investigators are consulting with the district attorney’s office on the decision whether to formally charge Gasser, Fortunato said.

As the investigation into McKnight’s death continues, Fortunato asked anyone with information about the shooting to contact department homicide detectives at 504-364-5393.

McKnight, 28, was shot about 3 p.m. Thursday (Dec. 1) at the intersection of Behrman Highway and Holmes Boulevard in Terrytown. A witness, who declined to give her name, said she saw a man at the intersection yelling at McKnight, who was trying to apologize. The man shot McKnight more than once, the witness said. She said he shot McKnight, stood over him and said, “I told you don’t you f— with me.” Then the man fired again, she said.

He murdered an unarmed man execution style and the cops just let him go. That my friends is what you call a racist nation with a racist “justice” system allowing for whites to kill black people and be treated with kid gloves. Maybe he and George Zimmerman can go on the road together.

Example 2: Trump giving white men the room to do whatever they want to Muslims.

Three men physically attacked a Muslim teenager at a Manhattan subway stop on Thursday night while shouting the name of the President-elect, police told the New York Daily News.

Police said the unidentified 18-year-old victim was waiting alone for the uptown 6 train at the 23rd Street and Park Avenue station when three young men approached her shouting “Donald Trump.”

Officers told the Daily News that they followed her onto the train, continuing to shout Trump’s name and allegedly calling her a “fucking terrorist.” The men, who the victim said appeared intoxicated, also allegedly told her to “get the hell out of the country” and said she didn’t “belong here.”

When she did not respond, they ripped her purse off her shoulder, breaking the strap, and attempted to pull off her hijab, police said.

What is terrible here is also that no one intervened and stood up for this woman. When we see this, we must do the right thing, even if that places us in physical danger ourselves. When we cower in terror, understandable as this may be when it happens, we enable fascists to act ever more boldly, leading to increasingly horrible crimes. I know it’s easy for me to sit here and write this and I’m not trying to act as a keyboard warrior. I’m just saying we all have to figure what we are going to actually do in these situations if we see them. And some people are doing the right thing and intervening.

Did Trump Win Because Swing State Voters Preferred Him On the Economy?

[ 253 ] December 2, 2016 |

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The answer is no:

The driving narrative for the results of the November election has run contrary to that. According to a broad swath of popular understanding, Donald Trump will be the next president because he narrowly won three critical states — Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — powered by working class voters frustrated with economic intransigence.

But that’s not what exit polling shows in those states, to Southpaw’s point. Exit polls show Hillary Clinton winning a majority of the vote from people who told pollsters that the economy was the most important issue facing the country. What’s more, in each state, a majority of voters said that was the case.

In fact, if we extend that out to every state for which we have exit polling, in 22 of those 27 states a majority of people said that the economy was the most important issue. And in 20 of those states, voters who said so preferred Hillary Clinton. In 17, in fact, a majority of those voters backed Clinton.

[…]

In nearly every state, Clinton did better (and Trump worse) with voters worried about the economy than with the overall pool of voters. (Notice how the blue slices in the smaller circles extend further than the blue slices in the larger ones.)

How can that be? How can she win a majority of the majority and still lose? Because she lost with other groups worse.

The exit poll questionnaire gave voters a choice between four options for the most important issue. Clinton was generally preferred by those who said foreign policy was the most important issue, too, but Trump was preferred by those who saw immigration or terrorism as most important. The key is the margins. On average, about 13 percent of people in the 27 states said foreign policy was most important and they preferred Clinton by an average of 30 points. On average, voters who said the economy was most important preferred Clinton by 7.3. But on terrorism, rated most important by a fifth of voters, on average, Trump led by an average of 21.8 points. On immigration (most important to an average of 12.2 percent of respondents)? A huge 42.1 percentage point lead for Trump.

If I’ve read Mark Lilla correctly, however, the fact that Trump voters were likely to prioritize immigration and terrorism in the wake of Trump’s appeals to white resentment cannot be identity politics.

Anyway, the idea that Clinton was only different economic messaging away from winning is a nice story, but the evidence supporting the theory is notably scant.

Recession!

[ 65 ] December 2, 2016 |

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The chances of a recession are pretty high in the next 4 years, just looking at historical trends. Given the incredible length of time it took for jobs to recover after the last recession, a trend that has been vastly increasing in recent recessions, we as a nation are really not ready for the next one. Now imagine what a recession looks like with Donald Trump in the Oval Office.

Is it too early to start drinking?

White Privilege and the Democratic Party Elite

[ 85 ] December 2, 2016 |
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., center, and Senate Democrats gather outside the Capitol to urge Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, and other House Republicans, to break the impasse on a funding bill and stop the government shutdown that is now in its second week, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, in Washington. With so many furloughed federal workers living in the Maryland and Virginia suburbs outside Washington, senators from those states made special pleas. At right is Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. At far left is Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., center, and Senate Democrats gather outside the Capitol to urge Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, and other House Republicans, to break the impasse on a funding bill and stop the government shutdown that is now in its second week, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, in Washington. With so many furloughed federal workers living in the Maryland and Virginia suburbs outside Washington, senators from those states made special pleas. At right is Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. At far left is Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

This story about the racial makeup of top Democratic staffers in the Senate is more than a little dismaying:

“They are all so phony,” the staffer told me. “Every time I hear any of the Democratic senators, including my own boss, talk about diversity, I cringe, because it’s all one big lie. That they’ve been allowed to enjoy this reputation as a party that values diversity, while doing next to nothing of substance to align their actions with their words, is expert-level deception.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

The staffer went on to detail a private network of conversations being held by staff members of color in the U.S. Senate which they half-jokingly call the “Underground Railroad.”

“Democrats in the Senate use demographics as their excuse for the fact that they only have one African-American member in their ranks. They’ll tell anyone who listens that they wish this wasn’t the case and to the untrained ear, it sounds true. It isn’t. The Senate looks just the way want it,” the staffer told me.

I must admit that I had also bought the lie — hook, line, and sinker — that only two current U.S. Senators out of 100, Cory Booker, a Democrat, and Tim Scott, a Republican, were black because state by state demographics just made it too hard for African-Americans to win statewide elections.

“No, that’s not it. Of course demographics are a factor in every election, but the Senate looks the way Senators want it to look. Let me prove it to you.”

What I learned next made my jaw drop.

“Do you know how many black Chiefs of Staff exist in the Senate? The whole Senate? One. Out of one hundred chances they had to hire a black chiefs of staff, they hired just one African-American,” the staffer said in disgust.

“But hold up, hold up,” the staffer continued. “I haven’t even given you the punchline yet. Guess who the one black Chief of Staff works for?”

“Who?” I asked — having no idea what the answer was.

“Tim Scott,” the staffer replied. “The lone black chief of staff in the entire United States Senate works for South Carolina Republican, Tim Scott. His office may be the most diverse in the entire Senate.”

That’s, um, not good. And while I have no way to access the educational backgrounds of Senate staffers, it takes no great leap of faith to expect that many of them come from elite schools and wealthy families that basically recreate the aristocratic class in Washington, on Wall Street, and in every other bastion of power in America. While you’d expect this from Republicans, it’s deeply dismaying but not surprising from Democrats. This is how white privilege works. You say you are for greater diversity and for greater opportunities for people of color. And your probably are. But then in your personal hiring practices, you are part of the problem.

2016’s Dumbest Argument

[ 97 ] December 2, 2016 |

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That title suggests a high bar. As you might expect though, an essay in The Federalist is going to be able to clear it. And here we have this pablum telling liberals to stop whining about the electoral college. This is mostly just dumb for all the reasons you expect. And then this pops up about the Three-Fifths Compromise. Because, you see, it discriminated against slaveowners:

How does a specialist in constitutional law miss the word “compromise” in “three-fifths compromise”? How does one of America’s most-cited legal scholars fail to consider that five-fifths (that’s one) and three-fifths weren’t the only options available?

It wasn’t pretty that day around the Constitution. Northern and Southern states fought bitterly over how to count slaves, who couldn’t vote, in population numbers. Since population numbers determined legislative power, Southern states of course wanted to count slaves like they counted everyone else. Abolition-conscious Northern states wanted to eliminate slaves from population counts completely.

Northern states argued that if Southern states could count their property (slaves), Northern states could count theirs (horses, chickens, etc.). Because executive fiat by phone and by pen had not yet been invented, the two sides had no choice but to compromise. That’s why it’s called “the three-fifths compromise.”

As Reed points out, the three-fifths compromise “discounted” the value of slaves relative to white men, but it enhanced the power of slaves relative to white men in reducing by two-fifths the South’s power to preserve slavery legislatively. The Electoral College set the stage for legislative abolition of slavery, so you can say it was about slavery if you want, but tell the whole truth.

Yes, that is tragic to only allow the South to count slaves at 60 percent of a human when in fact the law did not even consider slaves human in any legal way! And this only allowed the Slave Power and their northern sympathizers to control nearly the entire federal government between 1789 and 1860! Why can’t you libs tell the whole story!!!!

On Tuesday, the last speaker in the amazing series of speakers I co-organized this fall at the University of Rhode Island on the theme of Inequality and the American Dream was on campus. This was the great Jelani Cobb. He noted that in fact after Reconstruction, southern whites actually benefited from Jim Crow more than they had from slavery. African-Americans couldn’t vote during either period, but during Jim Crow, apportionment counted 100 percent of black people instead of 60 percent. Thus the control of the South over the government after Reconstruction was at least as entrenched as during slavery. That’s effectively what this Federalist piece is longing for, even if it gives it a soft sell under the guise of modern Americans being stupid whiners. Finally, southern white men had their deserved power. And sadly, that’s the goal for all too many whites in Trump’s America.

I do not recommend searching for additional mangoes here.

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

[ 339 ] 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 |

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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 |

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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.

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