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James O’Keefe finds another use for his pimp hat

[ 38 ] October 19, 2016 |

Hold it under the suckers’ noses and ask them to fill it with cash.

But in a new fundraising message to supporters of PVAction, O’Keefe writes that “a rampant and organized system of voter fraud has been exposed” by his reporters, and he promises more to come.

“Weeks ago, we deployed undercover journalists in early voting states across the nation,” O’Keefe writes. “They have been recording hours and hours of footage as we waited for the dam to break. And now I need to double down and flood the field with undercover investigators. They will be deployed to early voting stations around the nation to monitor ‘bussing’ activities and catch voter fraud in the act. Can you pay for one hotel night for an undercover journalist? One meal?”

By the way, the word busing (I assume he doesn’t mean kissing) is not at all meant trip the very sensitive alarms of the sort of people who can’t understand why black and brown people are allowed to vote.

At any rate I wonder if the sort of people who still take him seriously will offer room and board for his supermassive squad of undercover investigator sleuth fraud detectors. O’Keefe trying to graciously decline anything that can’t go in his bank account is an exchange I’d pay to see.

High-ranking marks don’t seem eager to grab this particular merde sandwich. Possibly because their hands are full with Trump.

In a 2011 email released during an unrelated lawsuit, a Walker ally suggested that if a close statewide election went the wrong way, Republicans needed to “start messaging ‘widespread reports of election fraud’” and argue for a recount.

Yet in the 24 hours after conservative activist James O’Keefe released a video, claiming to expose a voter fraud plot in Wisconsin, Walker has been relatively quiet. In his first comments on the videos, Walker tweeted a link to a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that covered how Madison activist Scott Foval got Democratic “bird-doggers” into Republican events.

Walker’s caution, and the hands-off approach of other Republicans, suggest that the second Project Veritas Action video — “Massive Voter Fraud” — is prompting caution about how to move.

Because Project Veritas Action’s full undercover interview with Scott Foval has not been made available, the charge that he plotted voter fraud is constructed from O’Keefe’s narration and damning-sounding quotes.

Is the GOP thrice bitten, finally starting to get a clue? No. I’m sure that after the election we’ll hear lots and lots about the wonderful work PVA has done to defend democracy. For now they’ll let Trump shout about it and hope everyone takes this as a sign that the GOP is a serious party that just happens to have a high gibbering bigot count.


Politics is the strong and slow boring of hard boards, Washington climate bill edition

[ 34 ] October 19, 2016 |


A reader asked for a post on I-732, a carbon tax on the ballot in Washington State. I’ve been avoiding writing about it because the story is too depressing, but it should be done. A series of loosely connected observations and commentary on 732 and related issues follows.

• Rather than try to offer my own summary, I’ll begin by simply assigning Dave Roberts’ piece on the history and the politics. It’s very good. Go read it.

• First things first: whether your sympathies lie with the alliance or CarbonWA, vote yes.

• Seriously, vote yes. If you don’t believe me listen to these climate scientists.

• A few months ago I was much angrier and would have written very nasty, snide things about, the Sierra Club, and Jay Inslee, had I written this post then. Now, I’m feeling a bit more appreciative of the tragic nature of the alliance/carbonWA split. At most points in time over the last six years, there have been plausible and sympathetic reasons to support both sides and both approaches.

• That said, that CarbonWA was able to agree on the text of an initiative and get it on the ballot and the Alliance hasn’t yet agreed on exactly what their initiative would look like is revealing: coalition politics are vital and important, but for the purposes of constructing an initiative designed to win statewide but also satisfy all key coalition-partners with diverse goals can be debilitating.

• With this in mind, while I obviously wasn’t privy to the December negotiations between the two groups, the claim reported by Roberts that internal polls and research showed the Alliance approach had a better chance of passing should be treated with a great deal of skepticism. For one thing, they were comparing an actual initiative vs. a theoretical one, and it’s easier to disguise the warts of the latter.

• Furthermore, there’s a decent case to be made that the median voter in Washington is a suburban white affluent moderate who is susceptible to anti-tax, anti-big government rhetoric but nevertheless concerned about the environment. A revenue neutral tax re-structure might be necessary to win them over. The alliance people are almost certainly correct that revenue neutrality won’t win over actual Republicans, but that’s beside the point. There’s a population of once-R-leaning, now probably D-leaning moderates who are still all too easily spooked by tax increases, especially general ones.

• That said, if I were designing a bill from scratch, I might have aimed for a slightly revenue positive bill, with the increased revenue earmarked for clean energy projects. That probably would be just as, or slightly more, appealing to the median voter in Washington state. But evaluating an actual proposal against a perfect one in one’s head isn’t a reasonable standard for initiatives.

• There’s a part of me that can’t help but see the desire to use a climate bill as the kludge to DO ALL THE PROGRESSIVE THINGS like fix the tax structure, fund McCleary, deal with the whole “most regressive tax structure of all 50 states” problem and so on is a way of not taking climate change sufficiently seriously. This is particularly the case in a state in which previous efforts with full Democratic control of state government manifestly failed. I’m old enough to remember when Ron Sims ran against Christine Gregoire for in the Democratic primary for governor in 2004 on a revenue neutral to the state, positive to the taxpayer income tax, and was trounced by his status-quo supporting opponent by a better than 2-1 margin. Granted, she had some advantages over him and was likely to win regardless, but that was still a clear rebuke of a tax overhaul. Climate change policy can’t solve all our problems, and it’s hard not to conclude that the alliance was treating it as something of a magic bullet.

• It’s worth keeping in mind that while 732 doesn’t fix the fundamentally regressive nature of state taxation, it does make the tax code less regressive than it currently is—in fact it does more on that front than has been accomplished by anyone else in Washington politics recently.

• Also, as the California example demonstrates, when the time and the politics are right a carbon tax can be revisited to emphasize other progressive priorities.

• If this fails and the alliance moves forward with an initiative in two years just in time for the Hillary backlash election, God help us.

• Also, if you’re in the ST zone and care about the climate please vote yes on ST3. There’s lots of details about for us transit nerds to be frustrated with, but it’s a) really pretty good overall, especially by North American standards, and b) the only realistic alternative is a delayed, cheaper version of what’s currently on offer. And one of the reasons I’ve come around on prioritizing rail to emptier parts of suburbs over rail in the city is at least there’s a chance for dense development there–the first round of light rail in the city has demonstrated that moderately dense established Seattle neighborhoods just have too many politically powerful wealthy homeowners who know how to play anti-upzone politics, while some suburbs (Lynnwood and Shoreline in particular) are proving more enthusiastic about station-adjacent upzones than Seattle has been. Hell, there are still empty lots less than a quarter-mile from light rail stations that opened in 2008 zoned for 2-3 stories.

• Also, if you actually care about not cooking the planet, you can’t really justify anti-density activism. If you commute via Hummer 200 miles a day or whatever, that’s bad, but what DiCaprio et al are trying to do is infinitely worse—you’re forcing many thousands of present and future people to pump more carbon into the air for many decades to come, including some people who would choose not to, if allowed to make that choice. If parking inconveniences, or not having to look at newer and taller buildings than you’d prefer for aesthetic reasons are more important than the future of the planet, fine, but own that preference ordering.

Since We Could Use Some Good News…

[ 111 ] October 19, 2016 |


The chances that the Democrats will retake the Senate have substantially improved in the last week. Apparently endorsing a different misogynist for president isn’t helping Ayotte, and McCrory et al. have made North Carolina extremely winnable. Even though I’ve always been dubious about Murphy’s chances, I do agree that unless there’s a really severe resource crunch it’s premature to be pulling out of Florida.

Steve Bannon says that Trump is bringing a mystery special guest to tonight’s debate

[ 269 ] October 19, 2016 |


Besides Obama’s half brother and Pat Smith.

Using Donald’s Razor, i.e., the stupidest possible explanation is generally the best (I prefer the prosody of this phrase to John Scalzi’s formulation), let’s figure out who it is.

Revealed! The real racist of this election.

[ 85 ] October 19, 2016 |

From the baseball-sharp mind of Jane Orient, MD, comes a question no Democrat will answer:

If Trump and his supporters are such racists, why won’t Hitlery Racist Clinton acknowledge her step-child through that time Bill Clinton hired an African-American prostitute???

Pennsylvania Faculty on Strike

[ 70 ] October 19, 2016 |


Early this morning, 5500 faculty members on the 14 campuses of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, including my wife, went on strike because of PASSHE’s refusal to offer a fair contract. The university system has sought to effectively destroy these schools. They want to commit to even more adjunct teaching while also lowering adjunct pay up to 20 percent. The schools are offering pathetic pay rates and seeking major health care givebacks. 477 days after the last contract expired, the union (APSCUF) was willing to continue meeting, but as the hours wound down, PASSHE refused to come back to the table. APSCUF is trying to argue for binding arbitration. But the schools, with a weak hand because of the absurdity of the offer, refuses to agree to that. The strike will end if PASSHE agrees to that binding arbitration. Until then, the corporate war on higher education has forced 105,000 students to not get an education.

I know this isn’t Yale, Harvard, Columbia, or any of the New York schools that the lefties who went to those schools teach at since many couldn’t imagine lighting out for the territories. So this strike probably won’t get the kind of attention that we saw at Long Island University. But it’s equally important. More will be forthcoming.

…Since there seems to be some confusion, this has nothing to do with Penn State University. These are the affected schools.

Perlstein on Trump, Clinton and the future of the “conservative” movement

[ 109 ] October 19, 2016 |


Rick Perlstein, the author of Nixonland, The Invisible Bridge, and Before the Storm (I’ve read the first two; they’re both great books), is interviewed by Isaac Chotiner. A couple of excerpts:

I’m kind of famous for coming up with a little epigram, “Conservatism never fails. It is only failed.” I came up with this during my long experience of studying the right, and realizing that basically anything that is politically successful is kind of labeled conservatism. Any failure is wiped off the books in this bad faith utterance that well, of course it failed because it wasn’t conservative. Romney wasn’t conservative enough. McCain wasn’t conservative enough. “Bush wasn’t conservative,” you began to hear in 2004, when the wheels came off the bus with Iraq, and all the rest.

That’s what we’ll hear, “Of course, Trump lost. He wasn’t conservative.” That allows everyone else in the Republican Party, basically, to push the infamous reset button. I think a lot of what we saw in the last couple of weeks with Trump’s various former supporters jumping ship, ostensibly because of this grotesque tape and the rest, is all about setting up that next move in the chess game. Everyone who has paid any kind of attention knew that Trump was this kind of guy in the first place. I think what we’ll see is the Paul Ryans and the Ted Cruzes, jockeying for the position of King of Conservatism saying, “We need to wipe the slate clean and go back to Reagan.” The dilemma that raises is that Trump has raised energies in the Republican electorate that may not be able to be so easily contained.

My father-in-law escaped Nazi Germany in 1939. My wife pointed out to him that if Trump was a decent family man who was able to discipline himself and was able to execute a smart campaign strategy that was designed by a sophisticated strategist … and my father-in-law cut her off. He said, “He would be a shoo-in.” And that’s the fear. This was the fear that you saw a lot in the decades after the European catastrophe of fascism, the fear that a demagogue who kind of broke the norms of American politics would have it easy, that it really was this sort of scrim of civility that kept the demons at bay.

You see it a lot in the correspondence of Lyndon Johnson when he’s agonizing over going into Vietnam. He would always talk about what happened in 1950 when McCarthy and the rest accused the Democrats of losing China. You saw Richard Nixon saying, “Sure, I’ve got to be tough, and basically do all of these demagogic things, because if I don’t, the real demagogues are going to come along.”

There are these sort of wildfires that can break out unless you have responsible grown-ups in charge of the Republican Party. They always understood that the forces that they were playing with were dangerous. This is why we see someone like George W. Bush going to a mosque the week after 9/11. I think he understood. He blundered into calling it a crusade, but he backed off right away. He wasn’t that smart and didn’t understand this language, but he was very careful not to turn this into a crusade against Muslims, because he knew if it did, we’d be seeing what we’re seeing now. As Sam Rayburn said about politics, anyone can knock down a barn, it’s building a barn that’s hard.

Chuck Berry

[ 35 ] October 19, 2016 |


Chuck Berry turned 90 yesterday, and announced he’ll soon be releasing his first record since the 1970s.

When the Voyager probe was launched in 1977, it included a “Golden Record,” featuring various sounds from Earth.

When the first communication is finally received from whichever extraterrestrials stumble upon this artifact, their message will most likely be some variant on “Send more Chuck Berry.”

Paste — It’s What’s For Dinner!

[ 137 ] October 19, 2016 |


Paste Magazine brings us the truly epochal pairing of Walker Bragman and HA! Goodman. They are very, very excited about WikiLeaks hacks of the Clinton campaign, which has taught them truly extraordinary things about American government. For example:

The leaks confirm that political machines have returned to American politics. Through the thousands of pages of documents, Americans get a glimpse into the inner workings of the most powerful one in DC.

Emails reveal how Clinton’s team tracks loyalty, and uses fundraising and access as a means of securing it from an extensive web of operatives including members of Democratic leadership, journalists, wealthy individuals, businesses, and outside organizations. Clinton operatives offered meetings with the Democratic presidential candidate as a means of securing endorsements. Tom Nides, an executive at Morgan Stanley who served as Clinton’s deputy Secretary of State, helped secure an endorsement from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in this way.

Are telling me that nowadays politicians try to obtain endorsements by meeting with people and then treat people who offer endorsements better than people who do not endorse them? This is truly an astonishing new development, one we could have had no idea existed before. And, obviously, this is clear evidence that the Democratic primaries were rigged.

Of course, this is nothing new for Young Master Bragman. In a recent solo venture:

From these remarks, it is clear [in fact, this is massive non-sequitur, but moving right along –ed.] that progressives under the Sanders umbrella were right all along: President Clinton would be a status quo candidate. She would govern as President Obama has, largely through administrative agencies rather than by pushing sweeping legislation through Congress.

First of all, the idea that the policy set by administrative agencies is inevitably the politics of the “status quo” is absurd. (Perhaps one day young Walker will learn about the Clean Power Plan or DAPA.) But what I really find amusing is the idea that Obama “chose” to govern through administrative agencies rather “than pushing sweeping legislation through Congress.” For two years, Obama did in fact sign an impressive raft of sweeping legislation. And then, suddenly, in 2011 he started governing primarily through administrative agencies. Perhaps something happened — say, in November 2010 — that explains this transition? Perhaps Julian Assange can leak some civics textbooks so Bragman can breathlessly report his findings.

A Wall of Taco Trucks

[ 33 ] October 18, 2016 |


You have love the Culinary Union.

A wall is going up outside the Trump International Las Vegas hotel Wednesday morning.

The Culinary Union, long a Donald Trump antagonist in Las Vegas, is going to “build” a wall of taco trucks outside Trump’s hotel, just a couple miles from UNLV, site of the final presidential debate.

The groups aim to have at least five taco trucks outside the hotel, in addition to a banner in the style of a wall that participants will be able to sign.

“We’re reminding Mr. Trump that immigrant workers here and across the country will be watching the debate and voting in November,” said Yvanna Cancela, the political director for the majority Latino and predominantly immigrant union.

The Culinary Union has held nearly 10 rallies outside Trump’s hotel since workers voted to unionize and won last December. They argue that Trump is illegally refusing to bargain with them.

A wall of taco trucks is going to be far more effective than a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. More realistic too.

Non-citizens not voting

[ 18 ] October 18, 2016 |

It appears Donald Trump’s people have discovered Richman et al (2014), or at least the Monkey Cage post about it, to dress up his “rigged” routine. I wrote about brief post about this last year, citing some good skeptical commentary by Ahlquist and Gelbach. It may not surprise you to learn that that skepticism appears to have been warranted. (I can’t tell if that link is going to show up as gated or not, because I’m at work and have institutional access, but the gist of it is this: the Richman finding is premised on an implausibly low level of measurement error for the data they’re working with, which is probably what produces their result. Once more plausible assumptions about measurement error are applied, it appears more likely to suggest that “the rate of non-citizen voting in the United States is likely 0.”) I love the Monkey Cage, and I’m glad it exists, but this is of course a danger of that particular model of overlapping journalism and scholarship–counterintuitive and politically juicy findings get the most attention and no one notices when they’re later debunked.

Schilling for Senate!

[ 95 ] October 18, 2016 |


As a Democrat, let me say how very, very scared I am of Curt Schilling running against Elizabeth Warren in 2018.

In a wide-ranging, three-hour interview, Schilling took questions from callers and said he’ll run against Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, in 2018, but must clear the decision with his wife.

“I’ve made my decision, I’m going to run,” he said. “But I have to talk to Shonda, my wife, and ultimately it’s going to come down to how her and I feel this would affect our marriage and our kids.”

Schilling took issue with Warren opposing a November ballot question aimed at dramatically expanding the number of charter schools in Massachusetts. He said he’s not scared to debate her, noting that the Red Sox defeated the Cleveland Indians when he was a player.

“I’ve beaten the real ones before so I’m not worried about that,” the self-described conservative and Donald Trump supporter said, an apparent reference to Warren’s claims of Native American heritage.

Earlier this year Schilling was fired from his job as an ESPN baseball analyst after comments on Facebook critical of transgender rights. He now has an online radio show.

Of course he would probably beat Martha Coakley in a race where she starts out leading by 25 points.

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