Saturday, March 5, 2016

Last Call For Primary Motivations

Over at Reality-Based Community, Mark Kleiman analyzes where the Dems are right now and what Team Bernie has left to fight for as the nomination is all but out of reach right now.

So what are the Sanders people up to? Someone I know who talks to people inside the Sanders campaign is hearing that realists inside the campaign do not see a realistic path to his nomination, yet are committed to staying in the race for the purpose of maximizing leverage by building a large group of delegates, with 1000 being used as a rough target.

For some Sanders supporters, that would be a good enough reason to carry on. But others still sincerely think he can be nominated, and that either (1) he would be a better president than HRC or (2) he has a better chance than HRC to beat Trump or whoever. It’s not at all clear that those folks would keep working and giving for the purpose of building a movement or influencing the platform. And some of them, if they knew that Clinton had a virtual lock on the nomination and that the Sanders campaign understood that, would probably decide that their effort was better given to the task of winning in November. It’s hard to tell a story where Sanders’s continued hammering away at Clinton as a tool of Wall Street makes us safer from Donald Trump or Ted Cruz.

It seems to me that second group is, in effect, being cheated out of time and money. I bitterly recall writing what for me at the time was a substantial check to the McGovern campaign in the fall of 1972, in response to a desperate-sounding direct mail appeal and inspired by the idea that I was helping to defeat Richard Nixon. Only later did I learn that McGovern’s advisers, having given up on the Presidency by October, decided to cut back on expenditures to run a surplus, which was then diverted – perfectly legally – to McGovern’s Senate re-election campaign two years later. I felt – still feel – that I’d been flim-flammed.

Now, there’s no reason to think that the Sanders campaign is contemplating a similar gimmick. But the principle seems to me the same: the managers of the campaign getting people to give, and to work, in the false belief that they’re helping to elect a President. Not OK.

Footnote: Surely this is not a secret from the reporters covering the Sanders campaign. But I’ve seen no hint of it in print. Of course as long as the campaign continues, the people writing about it have stories to write, and of course any one of them who reported what was said to me would get the cold shoulder from Sanders and his staff. Still, isn’t it the job of journalists to tell their readers what they know?

It's a very good question, and the answer is that the Bernieswarm as our faithful readers put it aren't going to accept that Sanders doesn't have a way to get to the delegates he needs.  The reality of the night is Clinton's win in Louisiana tonight more than makes up for the delegates that Sanders is getting from winning Kansas and Nebraska, if not increasing her delegate lead.

Tonight I've seen people act like those two Midwestern states are the start of a massive wave of wins that will propel Bernie to the presidency, because "Hillary can't win outside Confederate States."  That's not only incorrect but massively devalues black voters, which has been a hallmark of the Sanders side of things for the entire primary season so far.

I'm still not completely sold on Hillary, and the primary will be long wrapped up by the time I get to vote here in Kentucky in May, but Team Bernie is making me less and less likely to vote for him by the hour and by the time March 15th rolls around and Maine, Michigan, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio vote, we ought to be at a point where we ought to start asking why Bernie's still in the race.

By the time April 26 comes, and Wisconsin, Wyoming, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New York, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania have voted, I'm betting that's going to be answered.

Trump Cards, Con't

The civil war in the GOP, long predicted by yours truly, is now front and center.  The only question now is how bad the damage will be and if the GOP, or America for that matter, survives the conflict.

From Michigan to Louisiana to California on Friday, rank-and-file Republicans expressed mystification, dismissal and contempt regarding the instructions that their party’s most high-profile leaders were urgently handing down to them: Reject and defeat Donald J. Trump
Their angry reactions, in the 24 hours since Mitt Romney and John McCainurged millions of voters to cooperate in a grand strategy to undermine Mr. Trump’s candidacy, have captured the seemingly inexorable force of a movement that still puzzles the Republican elite and now threatens to unravel the party they hold dear. 
In interviews, even lifelong Republicans who cast a ballot for Mr. Romney four years ago rebelled against his message and plan. “I personally am disgusted by it — I think it’s disgraceful,” said Lola Butler, 71, a retiree from Mandeville, La., who voted for Mr. Romney in 2012. “You’re telling me who to vote for and who not to vote for? Please.” 
“There’s nothing short of Trump shooting my daughter in the street and my grandchildren — there is nothing and nobody that’s going to dissuade me from voting for Trump,” Ms. Butler said.
A fellow Louisiana Republican, Mindy Nettles, 33, accused the party of “using Romney as a puppet” to protect itself from Mr. Trump because its leaders could not control him. “He has a mind of his own,” she said. “He can think.” 
The furious campaign now underway to stop Mr. Trump and the equally forceful rebellion against it captured the essence of the party’s breakdown over the past several weeks: Its most prominent guardians, misunderstanding their own voters, antagonize them as they try to reason with them, driving them even more energetically to Mr. Trump’s side. 
As Mr. Romney amplified his pleas on Friday, Mr. Trump snubbed a major meeting of Republican activists and leaders after rumblings that protesters were prepared to demonstrate against him there, in the latest sign of Mr. Trump’s break from the apparatus of the party whose nomination he is marching toward.

And the hard truth is that Republicans have been officially courting the white racist vote since Lee Atwater's Southern Strategy.

You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”

That abstract is dead and gone.  Now Republicans openly support a madman who wants to deport undocumented immigrants and round up Muslims, who happily admits he would order our military to commit war crimes and that he expects the Pentagon to follow those orders. Trump was the inevitable result of decades of hatred and division clashing with the demographics of a truly multicultural America. He has attracted the worst of us, and attracted those who wish to enable them in order to build a coalition based purely on rancor, all white loudly protesting their own role in unleashing the racism in our midst.

There is no doubt that Trump is a racist, and that the people who support him are racists, and that the people who enable him are worse than racists.  And that comprised the majority of the GOP right now.  Disown him? They are him.

But man, are the Powers That Be trying to sell this as "populist anger against government".

Among people likely to vote in the Republican primary, people are 86.5 percent more likely to prefer Donald Trump as the first-choice nominee relative to all the others if they “somewhat” or “strongly agree” that “people like me don't have any say about what the government does.” Using statistical techniques, we can conclude that this increased preference for Trump is over and beyond any preferences based on respondent gender, age, race/ethnicity, employment status, educational attainment, household income, attitudes towards Muslims, attitudes towards illegal immigrants, or attitudes towards Hispanics.
Make no mistake, "people like me don't have any say about what the government does" is the new "states' rights"  And it will only get worse from here.

Your Political Cartoon Of The Moment

Pulitzer Prize-winning Lexington Herald-Leader cartoonist Joel Pett takes on Planned Parenthood's fate in Bevinstan:

The LHL pulled the cartoon before it went to print.  Can't piss off the Gov, even if he has let women in Kentucky have it.  Pett posted it anyway.  And yes, Pett has run afoul of Governor Bevin before.

I wonder if Bevin will lay down any more unconstitutional and open threats against Pett like he did back in November, despite the First Amendment clearly being on Pett's side here.

We'll see.

The Canarinho In The Coal Mine

Brazil's economy is falling apart at this point, President Dilma Rouseff is barely holding on, unemployment is rising quickly along with inflation and the country is now facing its worst recession in a century.

Brazil's economy shrank by 3.8 percent in 2015, the government said Thursday, with the biggest contraction in 25 years set to push the Latin American giant into its worst recession for more than a century.

The latest gloomy news from Brazil was no surprise, but the severity underlined the depth of problems facing President Dilma Rousseff's government as it battles both declining economic output and 10.67 percent inflation.

The state statistics office said 2015 registered the worst single annual fall in GDP since 1990, a year when the economy dipped 4.3 percent.

With the International Monetary Fund predicting a further 3.5 percent shrinkage this year, Brazil appears to be well into a recession that would be worse than any on government record going back to 1901.

The GDP results shove Brazil into the bottom bracket for performance in Latin America, where it is easily the biggest economy. Only Venezuela, with what the IMF estimates was a 10 percent plummet in GDP, is worse off.

Leading Brazil's slide was the industrial sector, which was down 6.2 percent in 2015. In the last quarter of 2015 the all-important mining sector was down 6.6 percent, reflecting the worldwide slump in commodity prices and demand for Brazil's iron ore and other raw materials.

When times were good, Brazil's natural resource bounty was a good source of income for the country as China grabbed everything it could in order to build, build, build. Now that China's economic engine has blown a gasket and is sputtering, Brazil's financial picture has turned very dark.

The slump has made Brazil increasingly toxic on the investor landscape. Last week, Moody's became the third big credit rating agency to downgrade Brazil to junk status, warning of slow recovery and political uncertainty.

A Markit Brazil Services survey of the private sector released Thursday found a record contraction in economic activity in February, as "companies continued to link the adverse operating environment to the ongoing economic, financial and political crises."

"The Brazilian economic downturn took a real turn for the worse in February, as the financial and political difficulties in the country drove down output and led to reduced order intakes," said Rob Dobson, author of the report.

"The domestic market is especially weak" and "the labor market also appears to be in dire straits."

Brazilian economists warn that 2016 could turn out to be worse than the IMF's prediction, with the economy shrinking even more than in 2015.

"Brazil has never had such a high level of uncertainty and this is freezing everything up. There is no consumption or investment or credit with this historic level of uncertainty," Daniel Cunha, an analyst at XP Investimentos in Sao Paulo, said.

Brazil used to be the leader of the BRIC nations, emerging markets in Brazil, Russia, India and China were powering the global economy.  Now?  The BRIC is broke, and Brazil has definitely fallen the hardest.  And most of that can be pinned on Rouseff and Brazil's ruling party, and her predecessor, former President Lula who has just been detained in the state's ongoing national oil company bribery scandal.

Brazil's in real trouble, folks.  It's not going to get better anytime soon.
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