Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Last Call For Reality Setting In

With Trump's win in Indiana tonight and Ted Cruz dropping out of the race, Matt Yglesias reminds us that the final stage of Republican 2016 grief is the acceptance that Trump is their nominee, and the the party is now that of racist, bigoted ultra-nationalist assholes.  The problem, and why the Republicans are headed off the cliff, is that Republicans don't see their racism as an issue.

The Trump phenomenon is confounding many people because, on the one hand, it seems impossible to many that the Republican Party would nominate such a weak general election candidate, while it seems impossible to many others that Donald Trump could be such a strong candidate. 
So let's be clear about this. Trump is, by every sign available, a historically weak general election candidate. 
His unfavorable numbers are off the charts, he is losing to Hillary Clinton in every head-to-head poll, and his policy proposals are going to attract a level of media scrutiny that Republican nominees normally avoid because conservative intellectuals have spent a lot of time dumping on them over the past five months. 
At the same time, Republicans aren't going to let these facts stop him from being their nominee. 
It turns out that party elites have less sway over the nominating process than many of us thought 12 months ago. In particular, I would say it turns out that the commercial right-of-center mass media — especially Fox News and talk radio but also the Breitbart corner of the internet — is simply not that invested in what party elites think or want. Trump is not liked by a majority of Americans, but he is certainly a compelling television character, and catering to the minority taste for Trumpism has proven to be an effective business strategy. 
Given his ability to attract copious quantities of free media and his personal wealth, Trump can overcome the disadvantages of being disliked by the party's professional operative class and leverage his grassroots popularity to victory.

Never before have we seen a candidate so absolutely suited to winning a party primary that could not win the general.

If you want to understand what's going on with Trump, I think you can't do much better than to look at this 2015 poll from the Public Religion Research Institute, which reveals a huge partisan gap on a pretty basic question — is racism against white people a bigger problem than racism against racial minority groups? 
Republicans said yes; Democrats and independents said no:

Public Religion Research Institute 

This is why Trump's Republican opponents haven't made the obvious criticism of him that he's running a campaign based on racial demagoguery. 
To Republican primary voters, it's not obvious that racist demagoguery is a bad thing. Or, at a minimum, it seems like a less pernicious thing than the apparently pervasive discrimination against white people in American society.

The Republicans have become the party of "straight white men are the real victims here!" and the rest of us are just going to vote them into the garbage can.

We still have to actually execute the plan, but it's going to happen.

A House Is Two-Thirds Of A Home

One of the very real issues of the last eight years is the fact that the recovery has passed black America by, and nowhere is that more evident than in Atlanta, where even in wealthy, professional neighborhoods, home prices have cratered after the 2006 housing bubble exploded and have yet to recover ten years later...unlike Atlanta's white neighborhoods now in the midst of a renaissance. Black professionals like Wayne Early and David Sands want answers as to why that's happening in DeKalb County.

Nationwide, home values in predominantly African American neighborhoods have been the least likely to recover. Across the 300 largest U.S. metropolitan areas, homes in 4 out of 10 Zip codes where blacks are the largest population group are worth less than they were in 2004. That’s twice the rate for mostly white Zip codes across the country. Across metropolitan Atlanta, nearly 9 in 10 largely black Zip codes still have home values below that point 12 years ago. 
And in South DeKalb, the collapse has been even worse. In some Zip codes, home values are still 25 percent below what they were then. Families here, who’ve lost their wealth and had their life plans scrambled, see neighborhoods in the very same county — mostly white neighborhoods — thriving. 
“I don’t think it’s anything local residents did that caused that to happen,” Early says. “I think it’s all outside forces that did this.” 
The region reflects the complex ways that housing and race have long been intertwined in America. Across the country, blacks are less likely to own homes; those who did were more likely during the housing bust to slip underwater; and as a result, a larger share of black wealth has been destroyed in the years since then. 
These disparities, though, are not simply about income, about higher poverty levels among blacks, or lower-quality homes where they live, according to economists who have studied the region. The disparities exist in places, like neighborhoods in South DeKalb County, where black families make six-figure incomes.

I've talked about the destruction of black wealth before, but in Atlanta the numbers and the evidence are both brutal reminders that race is still an issue in America.  These are black folks who made it, doctors, engineers, regional managers, lawyers, and small business owners, who find that in their neighborhoods their homes are worth 40% less than their white counterparts.  Still.

“It just does not make sense,” says Sands, a retired Air Force information manager with two grown children, sitting in his living room with Early. The two men co-chair a housing committee for the local community improvement association that is researching what’s wrong with housing values. “You’ve got doctors, lawyers, teachers, all kinds of professional people, retired military like myself, who’ve done everything right — everything right — and it never seems to work out in our favor,” Sands says. “We’re not talking about people who got fraudulent loans, who didn’t have jobs to pay for them.” 
There’s something fundamentally unfair about that, he and Early believe, about all the African Americans here who got the education, to get the job, to buy the home, to create the wealth, to sustain their families — only to fall behind anyway
“Some people are going to have issues,” Sands says. They miss the good interest rates, or have the misfortune of living near a foreclosured home, or they bear the brunt of a change in lending policy. Of his black neighbors, Sands says: “We are always ‘some people.’ ”

And so it goes.  But what about black migration away from the South?  Certainly as openly hostile Republican red states make it clear that black people are less than welcome, raw supply and demand can explain the drop in prices, right?

Not in Atlanta.  In fact, not in the South, where black families are relocating away from the Rust Belt and the Midwest back to southern states specifically for more reasonable housing prices than in places like San Francisco and New York City.

Where else are black Americans moving? One destination dominates: the South. A century ago, blacks were leaving the South to go north and west; today, they are reversing that journey, in what the Manhattan Institute's Daniel DiSalvo dubbed “The Great Remigration.” DiSalvo found that black Americans now choose the South in pursuit of jobs, lower costs and taxes, better public services (notably, schools) and sunny weather for retirement. 
Historically, Southern blacks lived in rural areas. A large rural black population remains in the South today, often living in the same types of conditions as rural whites, which is to say, under significant economic strain. But the new black migrants to the South are increasingly flocking to the same metro areas that white people are — especially Atlanta, the new cultural and economic capital of black America, with a black population of nearly 2 million. The Atlanta metro area, one-third black, continues to add more black residents (150,000 since 2010) than any other region.
Again, these are highly-paid professionals here having these issues, they are in neighborhoods with low crime, good schools, and plenty of access to Atlanta's highways, shopping, and other amenities. The only difference is race, and it's costing them tens of thousands of dollars, maybe even six figures in home value.

But you tell me what the problem is if it isn't related to race.

Dispatches From Bevinstan, Con't

In a move that should surprise precisely no one in this bass-ackwards state, it looks like the statue honoring Confederate "heroes" in Louisville will remain standing until the issue of removing it goes through the courts.

A Kentucky judge issued a restraining order on Monday preventing city officials from removing a 70-foot-tall Confederate statue from its site near the University of Louisville campus, after one critic equated its removal to "a book burning."

The order was filed by a colorful cast of characters including GOP congressional candidate Everett Corley and the “Chief of Heritage Defense” for the Kentucky Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal
Corley, who was endorsed in a failed 2014 House bid by the white nationalist American Freedom Party and is currently running in the GOP primary to challenge Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY), told the paper that the restraining order was “about respecting veterans.” 
Removing the statue, Corley told the Courier-Journal, was a “political version of book burning. And the fact is, I’m not in favor of book burning.” 
Thomas McAdam, an attorney for the plaintiffs, also accused Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and the University of Louisville of censorship. 
“All we want is a fair hearing, all we want is to let the people know that this is part of our heritage, and you can't just erase history by tearing down monuments,” McAdam told the Courier-Journal. “That's what the Taliban does, that's what ISIS does. We don't do that in America." 

Welcome to Bevinstan, where the state gladly celebrates college basketball, Noah's Ark and losing the Civil War (sometimes even in that order.)


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