Saturday, December 24, 2016

Last Call For Christ-Mess Eve

Everything's fine as we head into the end of the year and the holidays. Everything is perfectly fine and there's no reason to panic at all.

A fake news article led to gunfire at a Washington pizzeria three weeks ago. Now it seems that another fake news story has prompted the defense minister of Pakistan to threaten to go nuclear.

The defense minister, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, wrote a saber-rattling Twitter post directed at Israel on Friday after a false report — which the minister apparently believed — that Israel had threatened Pakistan with nuclear weapons. Both countries have nuclear arsenals.

“Israeli def min threatens nuclear retaliation presuming pak role in Syria against Daesh,” the minister wrote on his official Twitter account, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State. “Israel forgets Pakistan is a Nuclear state too.”

Mr. Asif appeared to be reacting to a fake news article published on

That story, with the typo-laden headline “Israeli Defense Minister: If Pakistan send ground troops to Syria on any pretext, we will destroy this country with a nuclear attack,” appeared on the website on Dec. 20, alongside articles with headlines like “Clinton is staging a military coup against Trump.”

The fake story about Israel even misidentified the country’s defense minister, attributing quotations to a former minister, Moshe Yaalon. Israel’s current minister of defense is Avigdor Lieberman.

The Israeli Defense Ministry responded on Twitter to say the report was fictitious.

“The statement attributed to fmr Def Min Yaalon re Pakistan was never said,” the ministry wrote in Twitter post directed at Mr. Asif. The Israeli ministry added in a second post: "Reports referred to by the Pakistani Def Min are entirely false.”

Perhaps anticipating Donald Trump reacting to fake news about nuclear threats is the reason his chosen communications director bailed after just two days. 

Merry Christmas!

When In Doubt, Blame Obama, Con't

Political strategist Charlie Cook has some brutal words for Dems: better win over white Christian heartland voters or else, because they're literally the only voting demographic that matters now.

Simply put, Demo­crats need to ex­pand their sens­it­iv­ity-train­ing courses to in­clude people who live in small-town and rur­al Amer­ica—middle-class white voters, people who live paycheck to paycheck, and whites who at­tend church at least once a week. Frank­lin Roosevelt’s New Deal co­ali­tion of voters is now of­fi­cially dead. Demo­crats were los­ing these voters be­fore Don­ald Trump came along and will con­tin­ue to do so bey­ond his pres­id­ency un­less they show genu­ine con­cern for these con­stitu­en­cies. To be sure, the coun­try is chan­ging and be­com­ing more di­verse, but it is not do­ing so at the same pace every­where. Demo­crats are run­ning up the score in places that do not help them win ma­jor­it­ies in the House, Sen­ate, and Elect­or­al Col­lege.

An ana­lys­is by Tyler Fish­er and Alyson Hurt for NPR found that Trump won 70.6 per­cent of the vote from rur­al counties and places with pop­u­la­tions un­der 2,500 that were not near metro areas, com­pared to 25.1 per­cent for Clin­ton. Trump won 66.1 per­cent of the vote in small counties that were near metro areas (Clin­ton 30.1 per­cent), 65.8 per­cent in counties with pop­u­la­tions between 2,500 and 19,999 not near metro areas (Clin­ton 29.4 per­cent), and 66.3 per­cent in sim­il­arly-sized counties near metro areas (Clin­ton 29.5 per­cent).

While many Demo­crats and journ­al­ists are busy read­ing Hill­billy Elegy: A Mem­oir of a Fam­ily and Cul­ture in Crisis (I per­son­ally find the title of­fens­ive), far more can be learned from The Polit­ics of Re­sent­ment by Uni­versity of Wis­con­sin polit­ic­al sci­ence pro­fess­or Kath­er­ine Cramer. It is the product of nine years of in­ter­view­ing rur­al Wis­con­sin voters to learn about their anxi­ety, fears, and re­sent­ment of urb­an Amer­ica and its elites.

If any Re­pub­lic­an can­did­ate in mod­ern his­tory should have done badly with white church­go­ers, it was Don­ald Trump. And yet, exit polls show that Trump car­ried the 26 per­cent of the white elect­or­ate who con­sider them­selves evan­gel­ic­al or born-again voters by a 65-point mar­gin, 81 to 16 per­cent. Among the 33 per­cent of voters of all races who at­tend church at least once a week, Trump won by 16 points, 56 to 40 per­cent, and among those who go at least monthly, Trump won by 12 points, 54 to 42 per­cent. Demo­crats can take solace in win­ning people who say they nev­er go to church by 31 points, 62 to 31 per­cent, but they will be dis­tressed to learn that this group makes up just 22 per­cent of the elect­or­ate.

Demo­crats wor­ried about their poor show­ing among church­go­ers would be well-ad­vised to read God’s Polit­ics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It by So­journ­ers pres­id­ent Jim Wal­lis, whom I would describe as a lib­er­al evan­gel­ic­al. Wal­lis ar­gues that con­ser­vat­ives have no corner on re­li­gion in gen­er­al or Chris­tian­ity in par­tic­u­lar, but that Demo­crats are in­creas­ingly be­com­ing a sec­u­lar party while Re­pub­lic­ans are be­com­ing the party of people of faith.

In short, Demo­crats need to get over Don­ald Trump and the spe­cif­ics of what happened in 2016 and be­gin to think about how, in their rush in­to Amer­ica’s fu­ture, they left be­hind a large num­ber of voters who are still very much here, right now. To ma­lign these people as big­ots, ra­cists, and miso­gyn­ists ig­nores the fact that some ac­tu­ally voted for Pres­id­ent Obama at least once, have voted for wo­men in pre­vi­ous elec­tions, or have voted for Demo­crats in the not-so-dis­tant past.

It's complete nonsense, of course.  There's no "getting over" a candidate that ran on making people of color into second-class citizens (or non-citizens in the case of Muslim Americans.)  The stupidity of "they voted for Obama once can't make them racists" is manifest in this piece, and it's precisely because of the soft racism in so many of these voters who thought Barack Obama was "one of the good ones" that allowed Trump to win.

Most of all Cook is expecting the voters most loyal to the Democrats now to be the least vocal in efforts to court the people who have already demonstrated they are the most easily swayed by white identity politics enough to abandon the Dems when a vicious demagogue like Trump rolls up.

Again, this advice is disastrous.  Dems need to stick with the people loyal to the party.  As for the rest, well, another economic crisis precipitated by Trump and his goons should open America's eyes. I only hope it won't be too late by then.

When In Doubt, Blame Obama

Democratic consultants Stan and Anna Greenberg dump the last six years of Democratic losses on Barack Obama not listening to Democratic consultants like Stan and Anna Greenberg and being nicer to a nation of white Republican voters who questioned if he was even human born in Hawaii.

Faced with the economy’s potential collapse as he took office, Mr. Obama devoted his presidency to the economic recovery, starting with restoring the financial sector. But he never made wage stagnation and growing inequality central to his economic mission, even though most Americans struggled financially for the whole of his term.

At the same time, Mr. Obama declined to really spend time and capital explaining his initiatives in an effective way. He believed that positive changes on the ground, especially from economic policies and the Affordable Care Act, would succeed, vindicating his judgment and marginalizing his opponents. 
Absent a president educating the public about his plans, for voters, the economic recovery effort morphed into bailouts — bank bailouts, auto bailouts, insurance bailouts. By his second year in office, he spotlighted the creation of new jobs and urged Democrats to defend our “progress.” 
When President Obama began focusing on those “left behind” by the recovery, he called for building “ladders of opportunity.” That communicated that the president believed the country’s main challenges were unrealized opportunity for a newly ascendant, multicultural America, rather than the continuing economic struggle experienced by a majority of Americans.

Wow.  Just wow.  That last paragraph is a dog whistle that could shatter lead crystal at 500 yards. "Multicultural" America is not "ordinary" America apparently, not "real" America, and that's why Obama lost.

It gets worse.

Mr. Obama also offered only tepid support to the most important political actor in progressive and Democratic politics: the labor movement. In the absence of progressive funders in the mode of the conservative Koch brothers, unions are the most important actors at the state legislative level. Yet when the 2010 election ushered in a spate of anti-union governors, who eliminated collective bargaining rights for public employees and passed “right to work” laws, Mr. Obama never really joined this fight. In fact, he spent the last couple of years of his presidency pursuing the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, a free trade law vociferously opposed by the labor movement. Under President Obama, union membership has declined to 11.1 percent from 12.3 percent. 
While the Obama campaigns of 2008 and 2012 were models of innovation in online organizing and microtargeting, they did not translate into success in the midterm elections or in Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Democratic turnout dropped in 2010, 2012 and significantly in 2014. Models, it appears, do not substitute for the hard work of organizing and engaging voters in nonpresidential years; models that apparently drove nearly every decision made by the Clinton campaign are no substitute for listening to voters.

The Greenbergs all but blame 2016 on Obama not listening to white union voters, "the most important actors" in state and local politics and apparently the only goddamn voters that actually matter, despite being such a small fraction of American voters before Obama even took office.

It's garbage like this that will get the Dems killed again in 2018.  White Midwest and Southern voters are going to vote for Trump no matter what, guys.  They decided they could win more with Trump's white nationalism than with the Obama coalition and frankly the way things are going right now that's probably correct.

They didn't vote against their self-interest.  They specifically voted for it.
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