Monday, January 4, 2016

Last Call For Trump's 50-State Southern Strategy

Greg Sargent finally comes out and says it: Donald Trump's new ads in Iowa and New Hampshire are absolutely about driving the white backlash vote into Trump's fold.

As the final, frenzied push towards the first presidential voting begins, Donald Trump has unveiled a riveting new television ad that perfectly sums up Trumpism in all its xenophobic glory — and also perfectly captures the problem Trumpism has created for the Republican Party. 
The ad, which is set to run extensively in Iowa and New Hampshire, has it all. It reiterates his call for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States, and links this directly to the need to combat “radical Islamic terrorism.” It also again vows to “stop illegal immigration by building a wall on our southern border that Mexico will pay for.” All of this leads up to the grand conclusion, in which Trump himself vows to “make America great again.” 
But here’s something notable: Trump’s spot looks very much like the heavily-immigration-themed ads run by California Governor Pete Wilson in the 1990s. Wilson helped secure passage of the infamous “Proposition 187,” which sought to bar illegal immigrants from a range of state services and is widely believed to have driven Latinos away from the California GOP and set it on a path into the demographic wilderness.

There's a reason for that, and of course we know that Pete Wilson's anti-Latino ads were the beginning of the end of the California GOP.

So where is Trump and the national GOP, 20 years later?

Now, it remains unlikely that Trump will actually win the nomination. But even if he doesn’t, the question then becomes: Whither the forces Trump has unleashed inside the GOP? Trump’s candidacy — and to a somewhat lesser extent, that of Ted Cruz — is framed around the idea that the way to win the White House is by unleashing the power of white backlash. This is plainly obvious in Trump’s case, but Cruz, too, has repeatedly suggested a GOP victory must be powered by evangelicals and “Reagan Democrats,” i.e., culturally conservative blue collar whites. Cruz has engaged in more sophisticated demagoguery about Muslims and has flatly ruled out any form of legalization for undocumented immigrants.

By contrast, Marco Rubio’s long-term strategy seems to be framed broadly (though he has diverted from it at times) around the idea that the way to win is to make peace with diversifying, culturally evolving America, in hopes of cutting into Dem voter groups. (Demographics expert Ruy Teixeira’s hard look at the numbers suggests this may be the better course.) Which will GOP voters choose? We’ll soon find out. And if it’s the latter, and Rubio wins the nomination, how far he has to go in pandering to the forces Trump and Cruz are unleashing in order to get there will also bear watching.

With four weeks until the Iowa caucuses and five until the New Hampshire primaries, it's looking more and more like a two-man race between Trump and Cruz.  The March 1 "Super South" primary could give either one of these goofballs a commanding lead as well.  The smart money still seems to be on Rubio as the great Latino moderate savior of the GOP, but there's no way Rubio can win the nomination without playing to the same bigots that are powering Trump and Cruz, and currently the folks backing those two represent the majority of GOP primary voters, not just "some fringe elements".

Still, history reminds us that a large national lead in January means absolutely nothing.

So we'll see where all this goes.

Everything Old Is New Again

Good thing the Republicans in Congress are working to pass real legislation in 2016 and not waste taxpayer time on meaningless gestures that have no chance of...oh who am I kidding.

Another year, another effort to repeal Obamacare.

House Republicans are starting off 2016 with a renewed legislative push to roll back the president's landmark health care legislation, with proposals to defund Planned Parenthood tacked onto the bill.

"As Congress returns next week, in one of our first acts of the new year, the House will vote on a bill that would eliminate key parts of Obamacare and stop taxpayer funding for abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood," Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Missouri, said in a video released Saturday. "If this bill becomes law, patients will be able to choose a health insurance plan that works for them -- without Washington getting in the way."

The Missouri Republican, who sits on the House Budget Committee, points to rising health insurance costs as a reason to target the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Obamacare "forces people to buy insurance that's much more expensive than what they need," Hartzler said. "And when you force millions of people to buy expensive and unaffordable insurance, it's not that surprising to see premiums going up. Deductibles are going up too -- all while people's choices are disappearing."

Hartzler promised that the bill, which would eliminate the individual mandate as well as the employer mandate to offer insurance, would be sent directly to the president's desk via the reconciliation process, avoiding the chance of congressional Democrats filibustering the legislation.

The bill also takes aim at federal funding for Planned Parenthood -- a fight Republicans have renewed with vigor since last summer, when an anti-abortion group released undercover videos of Planned Parenthood employees discussing controversial procedures like fetal tissue transfers.

According to Hartzler, the legislation places a "moratorium on taxpayer funding to abortion providers" for one year and uses some of that money to fund other community health centers.

"We have taken many votes to preserve health care choices and protect precious tax dollars in the House," she said. "If the president didn't hear the people's voices earlier, hopefully, he will through this bill."

And yet 95 percent plus of these idiots will be re-elected in November.  Awesome.

Can't wait for the veto.

Here We Go Again: Day 2

America's right-wing domestic terrorism problem continues as Oregonian reporter Les Zaitz is covering the standoff in Harney County, Oregon. Armed militia seditionists continue their standoff with the FBI after seizing the Malheur Lake federal bird sanctuary over the weekend, and plan to stay "years" if need be.

Here's a summary of key elements of this unfolding story:

The backdrop: Militiamen from several states came to Burns to protest the impending imprisonment of two Harney County ranchers. They participated in several community meetings and organized a rally and protest march that occurred without controversy on Saturday. The march lasted about an hour and involved about 300 people – a mix of militia and local residents. At the county sheriff's office, marchers threw pennies -- meant to symbolize citizens buying back their government.

The occupation: Some time after the rally, key militia leaders broke off and drove across the high desert basin south of Burns to the wildlife refuge. They said they took over the refuge headquarters, which was unoccupied for the holiday weekend. They also have blocked the access road. Indications are that this has been planned for some time. Accounts of how many militia are at the refuge range from their own claims of up to 150 to accounts from reporters at the scene that there may be no more than 15.

The refuge: Established in 1908, the refuge is one of the premier migratory bird habitats in the U.S., featuring Malheur Lake. Operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the refuge headquarters includes the main office, a museum, and homes. No workers were on duty when the occupiers arrived.

Who's involved: Ammon Bundy, son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, is acting as the leader, conducting a steady stream of media interviews. Other key militia leaders have joined him, including Ryan Payne, an Army veteran from Montana involved in last year's armed standoff in Nevada with federal agents; Blaine Cooper, an Arizona militiaman who also participated in the Nevada standoff, and Jon Ritzheimer, who made headlines last year for anti-Muslim rhetoric. Days before the refuge takeover, Ritzheimer posted what struck some as a farewell video to his family.

What they want: Ammon Bundy has said in several interviews that the occupiers want federal land returned to Harney County ranchers and loggers. They say the federal government has oppressed local people with its ownership and control of land. Payne and others have insisted that under the Constitution, the federal government has no legal right to Harney County land.

Law enforcement response: During Saturday's rally, not a police officer was visible. And so far law enforcement agencies have not approached the refuge or blocked access to the territory. The FBI is in charge because the refuge is federal property. The Harney County Sheriff's Office and the Oregon State Police are engaged as well.

So yes, this is a direct follow-up to April 2014's Bundy ranch standoff, where armed seditionists faced off against law enforcement agents over Cliven Bundy refusing to pay the feds for grazing his cattle on federal land for 20 years, are now at it again.

They've planned this for a long time, I suspect.  The BLM backed off and the Bundys remained free.  They've struck again.

The question is: now what?


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