Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Dispatches From Bevinstan, Con't

KY GOP Gov. Matt Bevin's "higher education model" and across-the-board cuts are having their intended effect as Kentucky colleges and universities are eliminating "non-profitable" major programs and expanding college athletics. Eastern Kentucky University is no exception.

French and comparative humanities degrees got the ax Monday from the Eastern Kentucky Board of Regents. 
Other programs that had been recommended for suspension, including journalism, geography and horticulture, will instead be redesigned to become more “marketable and efficient.” 
After almost a year of discussion, EKU faculty and administration created a list of possible program cuts aimed at reducing a $13 million shortfall. However, the final list will winnow only about $614,000. 
Officials cautioned that French will be taught at EKU, but students won’t be able to major or minor in it or in French instruction. Current majors will receive their degrees.
All the regents voted for the cuts, except for the two faculty representatives, who cited conflicts of interest. 
Still, board of regents chairman Craig Turner took an angry swipe at faculty over the length of deliberations and recent commentary about the cost of EKU’s rapidly expanding athletics program. 
“The decision to engage all parties has not had the success I had hoped,” he said, reading from prepared remarks. “We lost focus on the task at hand ... if you don’t participate, you lose your voice.” 
After the meeting, Turner said he was expressing frustration that the faculty senate declined to make program cut recommendations. 
Turner also defended recent commentary and meetings about EKU’s athletics program, which has expanded in recent years. According to EKU officials, athletics programs generate about $2 million to $3 million a year but spend about $14 million. The rest is paid through the school’s General Fund
Athletes “contribute greatly to better retention and graduation rates,” which will become even more important under the state’s proposed funding model for higher education, Turner said.

Football and basketball are losing millions, but that's okay.  We'll just get rid of French. I mean, who majors in a dead language, am I right?  Pass the popcorn and go Colonels!
Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/news/local/education/article118938858.html#storylink=cpy


Monday, December 5, 2016

Last Call For Is There A Doctor In The House?

Looks like Trump really is going to nominate Dr. Ben Carson as HUD secretary. Remember this is a man for whom even with all his talents, he freely admits that he's patently unqualified to run any federal department, including HUD. So naturally, he's running HUD.

President-elect Donald Trump has picked Ben Carson to be his secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. 
Carson, a retired neurosurgeon who faced off against Trump in this year's Republican primaries, is the first African-American nominated for Trump's Cabinet. 
In a statement announcing the nomination, Trump referred to Carson's overcoming a troubled youth in Detroit to become head of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital. 
"I am thrilled to nominate Dr. Ben Carson as our next secretary of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development," Trump said. "Ben Carson has a brilliant mind and is passionate about strengthening communities and families within those communities." 
"I am honored to accept the opportunity to serve our country in the Trump administration," Carson said. "I feel that I can make a significant contribution particularly by strengthening communities that are most in need. We have much work to do in enhancing every aspect of our nation and ensuring that our nation's housing needs are met."

Andrew Flowers at FiveThirtyEight gives a number of reasons why HUD needs to be a top priority in the Trump administration (or any administration for that matter) and why leaving it to someone like Carson is playing with fire.

Housing should be at the center of any attempt to fight poverty. Recent research by Harvard sociologist Matthew Desmond, among others, has shown that inadequate housing is often a catalyst for a cycle of poverty; it triggers residential instability, which hurts the life outcomes of children and their parents. And for the poorest of the poor, the homeless, experts are increasingly promoting a “housing first” approach, in which authorities try to help people find housing as a first step toward addressing other poverty challenges. 
But housing policy in the U.S. is skewed toward rewarding wealthy homeowners (with tax deductions) rather than renters, who tend to be poorer. HUD oversees the Section 8 housing voucher program, which helps about 5 million people pay for private housing. Another roughly 2 million people are in public housing. 
But, crucially, the majority of poor Americans who qualify for housing assistance don’t get it — about 75 percent, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Of those families below the federal poverty guideline, 67 percent don’t get any housing assistance. A new HUD secretary could help change that, or could promote other reforms that would let the government help more poor families afford housing.

The fact that HUD is responsible for nearly $1 trillion in home mortgage loans should give a hell of a lot of people mild angina now that Ben Carson's in charge of it.  And let's remember, this is a guy who thinks the Fair Housing Act, arguably HUD's most important component?  Carson thinks HUD has no business actually enforcing it.

Perhaps HUD’s most important role is that of ensuring equal access to housing, a role enshrined in the 1968 Fair Housing Act. The law made the agency responsible not just for fighting housing discrimination but for “affirmatively furthering” fair housing. The Obama administration last year announced plans to enforce that requirement by withholding federal funds in historically segregated areas. Contingent on receiving funds, state and local public housing authorities would be required to address how affordable housing development and zoning regulations further the goals of the FHA. 
Not much is known about Carson’s views on housing. But in 2015, he published an Op-Ed in The Washington Times lambasting the Obama administration’s enforcement measures. As Emily Badger of The Upshot wrote recently, Carson’s comments suggest that if he takes charge of HUD, he could water down — or end outright — the agency’s role in desegregation and in fighting housing discrimination.

 Let's take a look at America's new housing chief on HUD and the Fair Housing Act in his own words, shall we?

It is true that the Fair Housing Act and other laws have greatly reduced explicit discrimination in housing, but significant disparities in housing availability and quality persist. To address them, The Obama administration’s new agency rules rely on a tortured reading of the Fair Housing laws to empower the Department of Housing and Urban Development to “affirmatively promote” fair housing, even in the absence of explicit discrimination. 
The new rule would not only condition the grant of HUD funds to municipalities on building affordable housing as is the case today, but would require that such affordable housing be built primarily in wealthier neighborhoods with few current minority residents and that the new housing be aggressively marketed to minorities. In practice, the rule would fundamentally change the nature of some communities from primarily single-family to largely apartment-based areas by encouraging municipalities to strike down housing ordinances that have no overtly (or even intended) discriminatory purpose — including race-neutral zoning restrictions on lot sizes and limits on multi-unit dwellings, all in the name of promoting diversity. 
These rules come on the heels of a Supreme Court decision narrowly upholding the use of “disparate impact” analysis in determining whether municipal housing policies have a racially discriminatory effect, whether intended or not. Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs vs. Inclusive Communities Project, et al., turned on whether the Texas housing agency decision to authorize more subsidized housing developments in poor rather than wealthy areas was racially discriminatory since it resulted in less affordable housing being made available in wealthier, non-black areas. The court ruled that it was proper for the lower courts and HUD to make a determination based on “disparate impact” rather than any specific intent to discriminate. 
Fair housing advocates saw this as a victory, but as with other mandated social-engineering schemes, the sort of unintended consequences Justice Samuel Alito alluded to in his dissent lurk in the shadows. New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio recently announced a plan to build almost 80,000 new affordable housing units in the city’s minority neighborhoods, but the new rules could conceivably prevent their construction because of the “disparate impact” doing so might have on minority access to affordable housing in non-minority areas of the city.

These government-engineered attempts to legislate racial equality create consequences that often make matters worse. There are reasonable ways to use housing policy to enhance the opportunities available to lower-income citizens, but based on the history of failed socialist experiments in this country, entrusting the government to get it right can prove downright dangerous.

A HUD chief that thinks HUD shouldn't actually do anything outside of "explicit discrimination", and that it shouldn't "promote diversity" in housing.  Carson may be one of Trump's most dangerous and most detrimental cabinet choices in the long run, folks.

Be afraid.

How To Steal An Election, Con't

The sad, strange tale of Pat McCrory comes to an end as the NC GOP governor, now more than 10,000 votes away from beating Democratic AG Roy Cooper for the gubernatorial race, has been forced to concede by mean old reality.

Gov. Pat McCrory announced Monday that he’s conceded the election to Democrat Roy Cooper, the state’s attorney general, and will support transition efforts. 
McCrory made the concession in a video message posted around noon Monday as a recount he requested in Durham County entered its final hours. Durham officials plan to finish the recount later Monday, but early results from the recount showed virtually no change in the vote tally there. 
“ I personally believe that the majority of our citizens have spoken, and we now should do everything we can to support the 75th governor of North Carolina, Roy Cooper,” McCrory says in the video. “The McCrory administration team will assist in every way to help the new administration make a smooth transition. 
“It’s time to celebrate our democratic process and respect what I see to be the ultimate outcome of the closest North Carolina governor’s race in modern history.” 
McCrory’s concession comes nearly a month after Election Day, following dozens of election complaints filed by Republicans with help from the governor’s campaign. The majority of them were dismissed by GOP-controlled county election boards. 
Cooper had a lead of 10,263 votes over McCrory in nearly final election tallies on the State Board of Elections website Monday afternoon. 
With the concession, McCrory becomes the state’s first governor to lose a re-election bid. His defeat followed the nation’s second costliest gubernatorial race and North Carolina’s most expensive ever.

I honestly thought McCrory was going to try to force this into overtime and have the state's GOP-controlled General Assembly install him as Governor, but apparently that's even too much evil for the NC GOP to handle.  There really wasn't any legitimate way for McCrory to have won, either.

For now at least Democrats in the Tarheel State get a victory.

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/politics-government/article118942758.html#storylink=cpy

The Water Protectors Win This Round

Some good news this morning: President Obama and the Army Corps of Engineers have denied the permit for constructing the proposed Dakota Pipeline through Standing Rock Sioux tribal lands, and at least for now, construction will be halted.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said on Sunday it turned down a permit for a controversial pipeline project running through North Dakota, in a victory for Native Americans and climate activists who have protested against the project for several months.

A celebration erupted at the main protest camp in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, where the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and others have been protesting the 1,172-mile (1,885-km) Dakota Access Pipeline for months.

It may prove to be a short-lived victory, however, because Republican President-elect Donald Trump has stated that he supports the project. Trump takes over from Democratic President Barack Obama on Jan. 20 and policy experts believe he could reverse the decision if he wanted to.

The line, owned by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners LP, had been complete except for a segment planned to run under Lake Oahe, a reservoir formed by a dam on the Missouri River.

That stretch required an easement from federal authorities. The Obama administration delayed a decision on the permit twice in an effort to consult further with the tribe.

"The Army will not grant an easement to cross Lake Oahe at the proposed location based on the current record," a statement from the U.S. Army said.

Jo-Ellen Darcy, the Army's Assistant Secretary for Civil Works, said in a statement the decision was based on a need to explore alternate routes for the pipeline, although it remains unclear what those alternatives will be.

Protesters have said the $3.8 billion project could contaminate the water supply and damage sacred tribal lands.

The tell that the Trump administration will almost certainly reverse this decision comes courtesy of North Dakota Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, up for Interior Secretary.

“It’s long past time that a decision is made on the easement going under Lake Oahe,” said Heitkamp. “This administration’s delay in taking action -- after I’ve pushed the White House, Army Corps, and other federal agencies for months to make a decision -- means that today’s move doesn’t actually bring finality to the project. The pipeline still remains in limbo. The incoming administration already stated its support for the project and the courts have already stated twice that it appeared the Corps followed the required process in considering the permit. For the next month and a half, nothing about this project will change. For the immediate future, the safety of residents, protesters, law enforcement, and workers remains my top priority as it should for everyone involved. As some of the protesters have become increasingly violent and unlawful, and as North Dakota’s winter has already arrived – with a blizzard raging last week through the area where protesters are located -- I’m hoping now that protesters will act responsibly to avoid endangering their health and safety, and move off of the Corps land north of the Cannonball River.

“Additionally, our federal delegation and governor have been working together in a bipartisan effort to push for more federal resources for law enforcement who have worked day and night through weekends and holidays to support the safety of our communities. The administration needs to provide those funds – whether the protesters remain or not.

So yes, I fully expect Heitkamp not only to be named Interior Secretary, but as her first act, to roll that pipeline right on through the Standing Rock Sioux. The fight in Standing Rock is not over, and it was never up to President Obama.  Voters saw to that last month.

We'll see where it goes from here, but I'm betting that a clash in North Dakota is only a few months away, and it will be a bloody, shocking affair when it happens.


Sunday, December 4, 2016

Last Call For The European Disunion

Italian PM Matteo Renzi staked everything on a referendum to reform Italy's constitution on Sunday, and the referendum -- and Renzi's government -- have now both gone up in smoke.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi vowed to resign after suffering a crushing defeat on Sunday in a referendum on constitutional reform, tipping the euro zone's third-largest economy into political turmoil.

His decision to quit after just two and a half years in office deals a blow to the European Union, already reeling from multiple crises and struggling to overcome anti-establishment forces that have battered the Western world this year.

The euro fell to 20-month lows against the dollar, with markets worried that instability in the euro zone's third largest economy could reignite a dormant financial crisis and deal a hammer blow to Italy's fragile banking sector.

Renzi's resignation could open the door to early elections next year and to the possibility of an anti-euro party, the opposition 5-Star Movement, gaining power in the heart of the single currency. 5-Star campaigned hard for a 'No' vote.

"I take full responsibility for the defeat," Renzi said in a televised address to the nation, saying he would hand in his formal resignation to President Sergio Mattarella on Monday.

Mattarella will have to embark on a round of consultations with party leaders before naming a new prime minister -- Italy's fifth in as many years -- who will be tasked with drawing up a new electoral law.

Brexit, now Renzi out in Italy, almost certainly to be replaced by a nationalist government.  France is almost certainly next.  The bright spot in Europe right now? Austria.

Austrian voters roundly rejected on Sunday a candidate vying to become the first freely elected far-right head of state in Europe since World War Two, halting at least temporarily the wave of populism sweeping Western democracies.

The runoff vote was a litmus test, since it was a re-run of a vote held in May, before Britain voted to leave the European Union and Americans elected Donald Trump as president.

Norbert Hofer of the anti-immigration Freedom Party lost the May election by less than a percentage point, and polls had for months shown the race too close to call.

But within minutes of polls closing it was clear he had lost to former Greens leader Alexander Van der Bellen, who had put the June Brexit referendum at the center of his campaign, saying Hofer would lead Austria down the same road as Britain and warning voters not to "play with this fire".

"A red, white and red signal of hope and of positive change is being beamed from Vienna through Europe," Van der Bellen said in a victory speech, referring to the colors on Austria's flag. "I will be a pro-European president of Austria open to the world."

So there's that, but it's only a matter of time before France goes the way of the UK, and the EU falls.  They will get no help from America under Trump, as we will most likely be in the depths of a major war, major depression, or both, soon.

The Coming War On Democrats Being Allowed To Vote

On Sunday we received the clearest signal yet that the Trump administration will be running on perpetual outrage and conspiracy theories as they look to radically curtail voting rights across the country.

Vice President-elect Mike Pence defended President-elect Donald Trump's recent tweet claiming without evidence that "millions" of fraudulent votes were cast in the 2016 election.

"It's his right to express his opinion as President-elect of the United States," Pence told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" on Sunday morning. "He’s going to say what he believes to be true, and I know he is always going to speak in that way as president."

When pressed about whether he believes the claim is accurate, Pence said, "I think one of the things that’s refreshing about our president-elect and one of the reasons why I think he had an incredible connection with people all across this country is because he tells you what's on his mind."

"But why is it refreshing to make false statements?" Stephanopoulos said.

"Look, I don't know that that is a false statement," Pence replied.

The vice president-elect also repeatedly cited a Pew Charitable Trusts study on voter registration records. "I think the President-elect wants to call to attention to the fact there has been evidence over many years," he said.

Same thing from Trump's chief of staff, Reince Priebus.

Reince Priebus, the outgoing Republican National Committee chair, defended Donald Trump Sunday over the president-elect’s charge last week, presented without proof, that “millions” of people had voted illegally during the general election.

“Face the Nation” host John Dickerson pressed Priebus on that specific illegal vote claim, asking the incoming White House chief of staff how he handles the president-elect’s statement “when you know that that’s not true.”

“I don’t know if that’s not true, John,” Priebus said, saying that “there are estimates all over the map” on undocumented immigrants voting in election.

“But you think millions of people voted illegally?” Dickerson asked.

Priebus’ response: “It’s possible.”

When the “Face the Nation” host pushed back, saying “there is not evidence that it happened in millions of votes in California,” Priebus defended the president-elect once more.

“I think the president-elect is someone who has pushed the envelope and caused people to think in this country,” he said. “He’s not taking conventional thought -- on every single issue and has caused people to look at things that maybe they have taken for granted.”

This is the VP-elect and the President-elect's chief of staff both saying without any evidence that millions could have voted fraudulently.  The implication here is that Republicans will have to take drastic steps to eliminate the "could have" part, and at a national level.

This will be repeated until tens of millions of Americans believe it is true, so when national "voter ID" suppression laws become a reality, it will be a necessary one.

That is if we're still having elections in 2020.  Which is anyone's guess at this point.

The Next DNC Chair Up Is In The Air

I don't honestly know who the next chair of the Democratic National Committee will be, but I can tell you who it won't be: Howard Dean has been kicked to the curb already, and Rep. Keith Ellison's national career is all but over.

Keith Ellison came to Colorado seeking to cement his position as the front-runner for Democratic National Committee chairman. But the Minnesota congressman ended the week in worse shape than when it started.

Just hours after Ellison’s role as the favorite was thrown into question by a stinging condemnation of his past statements about Israel by the Anti-Defamation League — a move Ellison and his allies vigorously rebutted — former Chairman Howard Dean dropped his comeback bid and bowed out of the race, scrambling an already complicated contest.

The three remaining announced candidates for the chairmanship — Ellison, New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley, and South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison — spoke to state party officials from across the country for nearly two-and-a-half hours here at the Association of State Democratic Chairs meeting, exhaustively laying out their hopes for a rejuvenated party in displays that appeared to leave the DNC membership just as unsure of its next leader's identity as when it entered the room.

The result is a race that’s even more of a muddle, with the likelihood of additional candidates jumping in prior to February’s vote. Ellison himself appeared to recognize his tenuous position, and pledged in his strongest terms yet to consider giving up his House seat if he gets the chair’s role. He pleaded with attendees to keep an open mind as he insisted the DNC would be his top priority, while the other candidates — and Dean, in his pre-recorded video — insisted over and over that the decimated party needs a full-time chair.

I know "Dems in disarray!" is the obvious joke here, but it's not a joke.  There aren't any real candidates for the job at this point.  Debbie Wasserman Schultz was an unmitigated disaster. Donna Brazile lost all confidence with Clinton's defeat.  The state party chairs who are running haven't shown themselves to be exactly competent.  Honestly, South Carolina? New Hampshire?  These are early primary states who think they should be running things, not actual leaders.

It's a mess, and it's going to be a long time before the Dems can get their act together.  Which is too bad, because a united front to resist Trump is absolutely needed in order to keep the country in one piece.

Sunday Long Read: The View From Clay County

Author Brad King, a native of Clay County, Kentucky, argues that the revolt by Rust Belt white voters, particularly in coal country, really was solely economic in nature.

Let’s begin with a hypothetical.

Imagine you are in your mid-forties, you have two children, and you live in a place where there’s been no new businesses developed in the last thirty years. You live well off the beaten path, along one of myriad state routes that used to be the lifeblood of the country but now largely serve as a reminder of how forgotten you are. That lack of transportation infrastructure and cost of doing business due to regulations— oversight that you know makes your life better— discourages corporations big and small from coming into your town.

With no new businesses, increasingly you are forced to depend upon the government to provide you basic services like healthcare and unemployment insurance. You hate that, but you also have little choice. You don’t have the money — or connections — to move…somewhere else.

In each election season, you find yourself making a choice: continue receiving government help, which you know will not make your children’s life better, or forego those basic services in hopes that your town—one forgotten by the country— has the chance to create jobs that may provide you, and your children, the chance to carve out a life.

The choice each election season is the same, but the circumstances in which you live are getting worse because where you live isn’t part of the growth of the country.

So which do you choose: government help that you know will be there but that doesn’t provide a future, or the chance to maybe build something new (and knowing that if you fail, you will be worse off than you are)?

You must choose one or the other. If you decide not to choose, then you’re told you have no right to complain. And— by the way— no matter which you pick, people will chide you for being too stupid to know the right answer?

Here's the thing though: this falls apart on closer inspection.

Because if you wonder why people might vote for a political candidate that isn’t interested in social programs for Appalachia, maybe it’s because the people understand that it’s not social programs that are the problem. And if you wonder why the people may want an economy unrestrained by regulation, maybe it’s because the regulations have been set up in ways that help internal colonizers.

If we think back to the choice from the hypothetical, the idea of “self-interest” becomes something far more complex than just “vote for Medicaid because you need it” or “vote for more social programs.”

Maybe, just maybe, it’s not the people who are the problem at all.

Instead, it’s the fact that for whatever the deep-seated reasons are for the crushing poverty that has descended upon the Appalachian region, the twenty-four million residents know that what they really need is a fair chance against everyone else. And since the game has been rigged, the only way they know how to get out is to re-set all the rules

That's weird.  You know why I think the real issue isn't economic at all?  Because the situation he's describing absolutely defines black America and has for hundreds of years, and for some odd reason black America, trapped in cities like Flint that doesn't have clean water, trapped in places like Ferguson where the city literally uses the law to run its local economy by fining residents and running debtor's prisons, and yes, just like Appalachia, trapped in places with crumbling infrastructure, terrible schools, no economic opportunity, chronic drug and mass incarceration problems and on top of that hostile police forces that treat them as the enemy and can regularly kill black Americans with impunity.

If there's anyone in this country who should want to reset all the rules it's black America.  And yet we didn't vote to burn the place down, when we're even allowed to vote because on top of everything listed above we have a political party in this country dedicated to making sure we can't vote, either.

Appalachia is tired of being forgotten?  That's why they lashed out?  How about Appalachia was tired of being treated like a bunch of ni-CLANG and decided that as bad as things are for them, at least they're not black.  They voted to reset the rules to benefit them at the direct expense of people not like them, but you notice they don't have Republicans trying to keep them from voting.

No, sorry Mr. King, your theory is garbage.  It was about the zero-sum game offered by the GOP to benefit coal country by having them help put those people in their place, and they took it.

Anything has to be better than being black in America, after all.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Last Call For Audit The Vote

Looks like Jill Stein took her recount money and went home, laughing.

Green Party-backed voters dropped a court case Saturday night that had sought to force a statewide recount of Pennsylvania’s Nov. 8 presidential election, won by Republican Donald Trump, in what Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein had framed as an effort to explore whether voting machines and systems had been hacked and the election result manipulated.

The decision came two days before a court hearing was scheduled in the case. Saturday’s court filing to withdraw the case said the Green Party-backed voters who filed the case “are regular citizens of ordinary means” and cannot afford the $1 million bond ordered by the court by 5 p.m. Monday. However, Green Party-backed efforts to force recounts and analyze election software in scattered precincts were continuing.

Stein planned to make an announcement about the Pennsylvania recount Monday outside the Trump Tower in New York.

The court case had been part of an effort spearheaded by Stein to force recounts in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, three states with a history of backing Democrats for president that were narrowly and unexpectedly won by Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

A recount began Thursday in Wisconsin, while a recount could begin next week in Michigan. Trump’s victory in Pennsylvania was particularly stunning: the state’s fifth-most electoral votes are a key stepping stone to the White House, and no Republican presidential candidate had captured the state since 1988.

So unless a miracle actually finds malfeasance in Wisconsin and Michigan quickly enough to force a recount in Pennsylvania, it's over.  And even then it will be far too late.

Most — including Hillary Clinton’s campaign — expected Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein’s recount efforts in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin not to change the result in any of those states. The reality, however, was that the election results would not have changed unless the recounts shifted the states to Clinton in all of those states.

With Pennsylvania off the table, even a flip in the Michigan and Wisconsin results would still leave Trump at 280 electoral votes — 10 above the 270 necessary to become the next president.

Lawyers for the Green Party told the Associated Press that they would not be able to meet the Monday deadline for a $1 million bond that the Pennsylvania court had ordered in the case. Additionally, on Dec. 2, the court had issued an ordersuggesting skepticism as to whether the Green Party’s complaint seeking a statewide recount would succeed. That order came in the wake of the Trump campaign’s motion to dismiss the complaint.

On Saturday, the Green Party filed a motion to withdraw their statewide recount request — which the court granted in an order later Saturday — although individual precinct-based recount requests will continue, in an attempt to force an automatic statewide recount, and a lawyer familiar with ongoing efforts noted that an appeal seeking a forensic audit of the Philadelphia voting machines remains pending.

The Trump ear is inevitable, and at this point we must find a way to resist, as I said earlier today.

On Resistance In The Trump Era

Author and essayist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gives us this essential piece in the New Yorker about what it truly means to resist the normalization of the Trump era and what we must immediately start doing in order to not only fight back, but to survive the next four years.

America has always been aspirational to me. Even when I chafed at its hypocrisies, it somehow always seemed sure, a nation that knew what it was doing, refreshingly free of that anything-can-happen existential uncertainty so familiar to developing nations. But no longer. The election of Donald Trump has flattened the poetry in America’s founding philosophy: the country born from an idea of freedom is to be governed by an unstable, stubbornly uninformed, authoritarian demagogue. And in response to this there are people living in visceral fear, people anxiously trying to discern policy from bluster, and people kowtowing as though to a new king. Things that were recently pushed to the corners of America’s political space—overt racism, glaring misogyny, anti-intellectualism—are once again creeping to the center.

Now is the time to resist the slightest extension in the boundaries of what is right and just. Now is the time to speak up and to wear as a badge of honor the opprobrium of bigots. Now is the time to confront the weak core at the heart of America’s addiction to optimism; it allows too little room for resilience, and too much for fragility. Hazy visions of “healing” and “not becoming the hate we hate” sound dangerously like appeasement. The responsibility to forge unity belongs not to the denigrated but to the denigrators. The premise for empathy has to be equal humanity; it is an injustice to demand that the maligned identify with those who question their humanity.

America loves winners, but victory does not absolve. Victory, especially a slender one decided by a few thousand votes in a handful of states, does not guarantee respect. Nobody automatically deserves deference on ascending to the leadership of any country. American journalists know this only too well when reporting on foreign leaders—their default mode with Africans, for instance, is nearly always barely concealed disdain. President Obama endured disrespect from all quarters. By far the most egregious insult directed toward him, the racist movement tamely termed “birtherism,” was championed by Trump.

Yet, a day after the election, I heard a journalist on the radio speak of the vitriol between Obama and Trump. No, the vitriol was Trump’s. Now is the time to burn false equivalencies forever. Pretending that both sides of an issue are equal when they are not is not “balanced” journalism; it is a fairy tale—and, unlike most fairy tales, a disingenuous one.

Now is the time to refuse the blurring of memory. Each mention of “gridlock” under Obama must be wrought in truth: that “gridlock” was a deliberate and systematic refusal of the Republican Congress to work with him. Now is the time to call things what they actually are, because language can illuminate truth as much as it can obfuscate it. Now is the time to forge new words. “Alt-right” is benign. “White-supremacist right” is more accurate.

Now is the time to talk about what we are actually talking about. “Climate contrarian” obfuscates. “Climate-change denier” does not. And because climate change is scientific fact, not opinion, this matters.

Now is the time to discard that carefulness that too closely resembles a lack of conviction. The election is not a “simple racism story,” because no racism story is ever a “simple” racism story, in which grinning evil people wearing white burn crosses in yards. A racism story is complicated, but it is still a racism story, and it is worth parsing. Now is not the time to tiptoe around historical references. Recalling Nazism is not extreme; it is the astute response of those who know that history gives both context and warning.

Trump's America is not just a kleptocracy that will benefit the elites while the rest of us suffer in silence.  It is, as history has told us again and again, an existential threat to what freedoms we have, and it must be framed as such, we must demand this from the people who are trying to frame it, in our daily conversations, at our jobs, at our places of worship, at our dinner tables.

The act of resistance begins with the thought of resistance, that this is not the way it is supposed to be.  That must be done first and foremost.

As Adichie says, now is the time to remember the truth and to recall the facts as the basis for all resistance going forward.

The Things We Don't See

The advocacy group Sandy Hook Promise has released this PSA entitled "Evan" that initially appears to be about a high school teenager looking for a friend in the school's library.  That's not what the video is about at all, and I guarantee you that like myself, you'll miss the real story the first time through.

It's a very, very powerful message here, and one that we as a country have forgotten.

Trump's Pence-ive Decision, Con't

It's not what Donald Trump said at his rally here in Cincy Thursday night (during rush hour that backed up traffic for 15 miles in any direction, by the way), it's what VP-elect Mike Pence said to reporters in Cincy that should really terrify you.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Pence said President-elect Donald Trump is preparing ambitious 100-day and 200-day plans aimed at fulfilling core campaign promises and jump-starting economic growth. 
Asked what might surprise voters about the Trump White House, Mr. Pence said: “I think the only thing that will surprise them is that Washington, D.C., is going to get an awful lot done in a short period of time.”

Big deal, every incoming administration says that, right?

His comments also suggest that a Trump White House would eschew many of the free-market principles that have guided prior Republican administrations, including injecting itself into the personnel and long-term operating decisions of individual companies. 
The new administration’s first priorities would include curbing illegal immigration, abolishing and then replacing Mr. Obama’s signature health-care system, nominating a justice to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court, and strengthening the military, said Mr. Pence, whose wife, Karen Pence, sat nearby during the interview. 
By springtime, the Trump administration would work with congressional leaders “to move fundamental tax reform” meant to “free up the pent-up energy in the American economy,” he said. 
Pillars of the tax overhaul would include lowering marginal tax rates, reducing the corporate tax rate “from some of the highest in the industrialized world” to 15%, and repatriating corporate cash held overseas, he said.

Massive corporate tax cuts will mean massive domestic austerity, of course.  Particularly if we're going to be throwing hundreds of billions more at the Pentagon.   And by "massive austerity" I mean goodbye Medicare and Medicaid.

But as long as the Obama coalition suffers first and suffers hardest (and it will) that's okay with Trumpmerica.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Last Call For Swamp Things

He's a dangerous, unconstitutional, racist, mysogynist, authoritarian demagogue... but he's our dangerous, unconstitutional, racist, mysogynist, authoritarian demagogue, dammit!

As a candidate, Donald Trump promised to “drain the swamp” in Washington. Now that he’s been elected and is embracing part of that very establishment, Democrats and many in the media are slamming him as a typical politician who abandoned a principle as soon as it suited him.

But when McClatchy checked in with several dozen voters in central Pennsylvania – one of the swing states that swung the White House to Trump – to see how they defined the swamp, most didn’t really care. Instead, they said it’s fine with them if he uses the expertise of a DC establishment of lobbyists, donors and special interests to to get his way – and their way.

As I've said time and again, the chief motivation of Trump voters remains to brutally eviscerate the Obama coalition and to make sure they remain politically powerless forever.  The goal is to see them, and especially any white folks who dare to support them, rendered utterly broken and completely smashed in such a brutal and bloody fashion that those people never dare to raise their voices again in our country.

And they know exactly who The Enemy is, aiding and abetting those people.

Many – almost half – of central Pennsylvania voters interviewed were reluctant to give their names and expressed a deep distrust of the media, which they said isn’t giving Trump a chance to even get started.

“It’s been what, a few weeks? How do you know he isn’t going to drain the swamp? He is not even president yet, tell me how is he supposed to be doing that?” asked a woman who did not want to give her name to “the lying press” in Philipsburg.

The Germans had a term for "the lying press" in the 1930's: L├╝genpresseIt's gained far more recent usage in Germany's darker corners to boot.

The coronation of L├╝genpresse represents a troubling trend. The phrase, which means "lying press" and found most recent use in the Nazi era, has become something of a watchword among Germany's increasingly vociferous anti-immigrant (and largely anti-Muslim) activists. In recent months, these demonstrators have called on the media to "tell the truth" about what immigrants are doing to Germany.

Things are moving pretty quickly now.  But he's our monster, say the Trump voters.  The rest of you are his prey.

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/article118026863.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/article118026863.html#storylink=cpy

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