Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Last Call For Crashing The Confederate Cotillion

Trump supporters are fighting it out over their little neo-Nazi victory party in Washington DC next month and I just don't have enough popcorn.

The “alt-right” erupted in a civil war Monday after one of the movement’s leaders banned another from appearing at the pro-Donald Trump “DepolaBall” for his history of flirting with Nazism.

The argument seems to have begun when NY Magazine writer Jesse Singal pointed out that one of the headliners for the D.C. event with the Twitter handle Baked Alaska had a history of anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi tweets about the “Jewish question.” Shortly afterwards, Singal watched in real time as Baked Alaska’s name was removed from the Google Doc listing attendees.

Fellow alt-right leader Mike Cernovich announced the cancellation shortly afterwards, and that Baked Alaska would be replaced with Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos.

But Baked Alaska soon hit back, accusing Cernovich of betraying the movement and sharing messages from Cernovich asking him to stop throwing Nazi salutes.

From there, Baked Alaska took aim at Yiannopoulos, calling him a fraud and a sellout and retweeing tweets calling him a “kike” and Cernovich a “cuck.” One alt-right supporter even burned Cernovich’s book.

Cernovich responded by accusing Baked Alaska of being a drug addict in a now-deleted tweet and Periscope.

The night culminated in dueling Periscope streams, where the two continued to trash each other. Baked Alaska also retaliated by taking control of the official Twitter account behind the Deploraball and saying that Cernovich was the one being banned.

Again, grown men arguing like children not because they are both black-hating, Jew-hating, Mexican-hating white supremacist assholes (both freely admit this) but because one of them doesn't want to other to do full-on Nazi saluting in public at the victory party event they've set up for Trump's inaugural celebration.

These are Trump's core supporters, folks.  These are the people that got him elected.  Maybe not everyone who voted for Trump believes what Cernovich and his racist clowns do, but precisely zero Trump voters thought their open support of Trump and Trump's acceptance of this support disqualified Trump from the presidency.

This is America now.  This is who and what we are.  Take it in.

Then let's start the hard work on fixing it.

That Economic Anxiety In Elkhart Again

I've talked about Elkhart, Indiana and its unemployment issues several times on the blog over the years as President Obama made one of his first visits as President to the city's hard-hit RV manufacturing industry in order to assure the American people that he was going to help the country. 

The city went from the prime example of what the Bush economic crash did to middle America with its over 22% unemployment to Tea Party hotbed as Indiana transformed into a blood red state to one of the best economic success stories during the Obama years as unemployment this year dropped to under 4%.

But as we checked in with in back in April we found President Barack Obama was public enemy #1 in Elkhart, and not only were the people of Elkhart not grateful in the least to the Obama administration but that they openly despised him and were rooting for Trump.

The Atlantic's Alana Samuels returned to Elkhart post-election and found that the people here not only think Obama took credit for something he had nothing to do with, but that Donald Trump will absolutely do what Obama didn't.

This city exemplifies the economic recovery the country has experienced since the Great Recession ended. Elkhart’s unemployment rate, which had reached a high of 22 percent in March of 2009, is now at 3.9 percent. Hiring signs dot the doors of the Wal-Mart, the McDonald’s, and the Long John Silver’s. The RV industry makes 65 percent of its vehicles in Elkhart, and the industry is producing a record number of vehicles, which is creating a lot of jobs in this frosty town in northern Indiana.

“America’s economy is not just better than it was eight years ago--it is the strongest, most durable economy in the world,” President Obama said during a visit to Elkhart in June, in which he touted the economic recovery. (Elkhart was also the first place outside Washington he visited as president, in 2009.) “Elkhart would not have come this far--if we hadn’t made a series of smart decisions, my administration, a cooperative Congress--decisions we made together early on.”

But despite the decisions that the Obama administration made that might have helped Elkhart, many people here have a strong dislike of Obama, who presided over an economic recovery in which the unemployment rate fell nationally to 4.6 percent from a high of 10 percent in October 2009. They say it’s not Obama who is responsible for the city or the country’s economic progress, and furthermore, that the economy won’t truly start to improve until President-elect Donald Trump takes office.

He didn’t help us here, but he took credit for what happened,” Chris Corbin, 47, who works for a dispatch company in Elkhart, told me. Corbin thinks it will be Trump who improves the economy. “It’s going to take two terms, but he’ll fix things,” he said.

To recap: the RV industry is doing better than it ever has.  It's doing better than it did under Bush.  Unemployment has gone from 22% to under 4%.  And that doesn't matter because Obama is black and these racist assholes hate him for it and will never, ever give a black man credit for helping them.

Brandon Stanley owns a bar in Elkhart. He says he’s optimistic that the economy is improving now that Republicans have regained power, but emphasizes that there are still a host of economic problems that haven’t been solved in Elkhart. As for the shrinking unemployment rate in Elkhart, “they changed how they report unemployment numbers,” he told me, so they’re not believable.

The idea that the government falsified unemployment numbers was a popular narrative among Republicans during the Obama administration, and was most notoriously trumpeted by former General Electric CEO Jack Welch on Twitter. Outlets such as Fox News published multiple stories questioning whether the Obama administration has doctored the unemployment rate. “People tend to engage in effortful resistance when information is inconsistent with their prior beliefs,” Nyhan told me.

When people hear, for example, that the unemployment rate has fallen, but they don’t want to believe that because they don’t like who is in office, they may seek out information that challenges or resists these facts. They can often find other, alternative, information on the news sites that most closely fit their political beliefs.

Andi Ermes, 39, offered a number of reasons for disliking Obama. She said Obama didn’t attend the Army-Navy football game, even though other presidents had. Obama has actually attended more Army-Navy games than George H.W. Bush. She said that he had taken too many vacations. He has taken fewer vacation days that George W. Bush. She also said that he refused to wear a flag pin on his lapel. While it is true that Obama did not wear a flag on his lapel at points during the 2007 campaign, it was back on his suit by 2008. Ermes told me the news sources she consumes most are Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and a local conservative radio show hosted by Casey Hendrickson.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Ermes sees the biggest signs for hope in the economy in Carrier deal struck by Donald Trump, which will keep 1,000 jobs in the U.S. “He’s not even president yet and already he’s helping the economy,” she said.

These assholes will tell themselves anything to believe that their town wasn't saved by the ni-CLANG! and when Trump wrecks the economy once again, they'll blame Obama for it and re-elect Trump just so they can be right.

But remember, Democrats have to win these guys back.  We have to look the other way on racism or we'll never win in places like Indiana or Ohio or Kentucky again. Democrats have to compromise and change, not them.

Let me know how that works out.  I'm not doing it.

The Pyongyang Problem

A North Korean defector is warning that, with chaos in South Korea over the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye and with US President Obama exiting the picture, the regime in North Korea is going to make the move to join the nuclear club next year as quickly as possible.

The North Korean government is pushing to develop nuclear weapons "at all costs by the end of 2017," according to a high-ranking North Korean diplomat who recently defected to South Korea.

"Due to domestic political procedures, North Korea calculates that South Korea and the US will not be able to take physical or military actions to deter North Korea's nuclear development," Thae Yong-ho, the former second highest North Korean diplomat at the embassy in London, told Yonhap News Agency, as reported by CNN.

During his first media appearance since he and his family defected in July, Thae said that North Korea is "racing ahead with nuclear development after setting up a plan to develop [nuclear weapons] at all costs by the end of 2017."

He added that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will not be open to dismantle the nuclear program for any amount of money.

The former North Korean diplomat noted that Kim's geopolitical strategy toward the U.S. and South Korea is designed to encourage stability-focused policies toward the country. 
"North Korea believes that relentless provocations must shift new [South Korean and U.S.] governments' policy lines into more stability-focused ones," Thae said according to the report.

It makes sense. Both Seoul and Washington are rather busy right now, but perhaps Beijing will be able to step in and knock some sense into Mini Mao here in the near-term.  While the analysis that Trump will have far bigger issues on his plate to deal with next year than North Korea is almost certainly correct, and that South Korea is likely to be in political aparalysis for some time to come, I foresee China being more than ready to act to placate the North Koreans if only to get them off the radar long enough.

We'll see what happens as China is, for now, helping to put the brakes on Kim Jong Un's ambitions.  But he's already ordered two nuclear tests in 2016, and it looks like more will be coming.

And as far as what Trump will actually end up doing about it?  Well, who the hell knows?

Trump has often suggested China crack down on its smaller neighbor. But while Beijing has no love for the instability North Korea creates, it is also in its interests to have a buffer zone against U.S. forces in the south of the peninsula.

The last thing Beijing wants is a collapsed North Korea, which could result in American troops right on its border in a reunited Korea. So for China, the status quo may be the least-bad option.

But if the new president concludes that a nuclear-armed North is inevitable, it may be forced to propose new arms control and nuclear talks that include Israel, Pakistan, India, Japan, Saudi Arabia and other states that may want the weapons. That is unlikely, although as a candidate Trump criticized the current international nuclear status quo that prevented allies like Japan from developing nuclear arsenals for their own protection.

"At some point we have to say, you know what we're better off if Japan protects itself against this maniac in North Korea," candidate Trump said when asked whether he would abandon longstanding U.S. policy of a non-nuclear Japan.

A nuclear Japan would infinitely complicate things in the Asia-Pacific region.  Neither China nor North Korea is likely to stand for it, to say the least.  But that's where things appear to be headed.

Things looked a lot better on this front in the past.  For now, adding the Nuclear Stupidity tag.  I feel like we're going to get a lot of use out of it here.
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