Monday, April 17, 2017

Last Call For Race To The Bottom, Con't

If we're somehow still surprised at the notion that white voters pulled the lever for Trump out of racism, Thomas Wood finds the 2016 American National Election Study has been released, and the motivating factor for Trump voters was -- surprise! -- race.

Many observers debated how important Trump’s racial appeals were to his voters. During the campaign, Trump made overt racial comments, with seemingly little electoral penalty. Could the unusual 2016 race have further affected Americans’ racial attitudes?
To test this, I use what is called the “symbolic racism scale” to compare whites who voted for the Democratic presidential candidate with those who voted for the Republican.  
This scale measures racial attitudes among respondents who know that it’s socially unacceptable to say things perceived as racially prejudiced. Rather than asking overtly prejudiced questions — “do you believe blacks are lazy” — we ask whether racial inequalities today are a result of social bias or personal lack of effort and irresponsibility. 
In the chart below, you can see the scores for white voters who supported the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates between 1988 and 2016. For clarity, the second and fourth items have been reversed so that the larger values always indicate higher animosity.

Since 1988, we’ve never seen such a clear correspondence between vote choice and racial perceptions. The biggest movement was among those who voted for the Democrat, who were far less likely to agree with attitudes coded as more racially biased. 
Finally, the statistical tool of regression can tease apart which had more influence on the 2016 vote: authoritarianism or symbolic racism, after controlling for education, race, ideology, and age. Moving from the 50th to the 75th percentile in the authoritarian scale made someone about 3 percent more likely to vote for Trump. The same jump on the SRS scale made someone 20 percent more likely to vote for Trump. 
Racial attitudes made a bigger difference in electing Trump than authoritarianism.

So race was not just one factor in the 2016 elections, it was the big factor in elections, particularly among white voters, and especially among white voters without college degrees.  Basically if you agree with the notion that African-Americans are lazy and that systemic racism is a myth, you were massively more likely to vote for Trump, period.

But of course we knew Trump's appeal to racism was the plan, and the plan worked.  But both parties are still pretending that it didn't work, and that the answer to solving this problem of racism is class, education, or anything other than addressing racism head-on.

And so it goes.

The Business Of Government Is Giving Us The Business

To paraphrase Calvin Coolidge in the Trump era, at any rate.  Maybe it should be "The government of business is funny business" to paraphrase the Marx Brothers.  The Trump Regime asked corporate America what they wanted Trump to get rid of (the only voters who really count, by the way) and the majority said that the Environmental Protection Agency needed to go, so apparently that's what we're doing.

Just days after taking office, President Trump invited American manufacturers to recommend ways the government could cut regulations and make it easier for companies to get their projects approved. 
Industry leaders responded with scores of suggestions that paint the clearest picture yet of the dramatic steps that Trump officials are likely to take in overhauling federal policies, especially those designed to advance environmental protection and safeguard worker rights. 
Those clues are embedded in the 168 comments submitted to the government after Trump signed a presidential memorandumJan. 24 instructing the Commerce Department to figure out how to ease permitting and trim regulations with the aim of boosting domestic manufacturing. The Environmental Protection Agency has emerged as the primary target in these comments, accounting for nearly half, with the Labor Department in second place as the subject of more than one-fifth, according to a Commerce Department analysis.

Asking the American people whether or not they'd like clean water or air didn't make the list, since the Trump regime is literally asking corporations to set American environmental and labor policy.

Among the notable items on industry’s to-do list: 
  • BP wants to make it easier to drill for oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico by reducing how often companies must renew their leases. 
  • A trade association representing the pavement industry wants to preclude the U.S. Geological Survey from conducting what the group says is “advocacy research” into the environmental impact of coal tar. The Pavement Coatings Technology Council says this research could limit what it uses to seal parking lots and driveways. 
  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce wants to reduce the amount of time opponents have to challenge federal approval of projects. Challenges would have to be filed within two years, down from six. 
  • The Chamber also wants to jettison a requirement that employers report their injury and illness records electronically to the Labor Department so they can be posted “on the internet for anyone to see.” 
  • And in its 51-page comment, “Make Federal Agencies Responsible Again,” the Associated General Contractors of America recommended repealing 11 of President Barack Obama’s executive orders and memorandums, including one establishing paid sick leave for government contractors.
Three senior administration officials in different departments said the White House is inclined to accept many of these suggestions. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a process that is underway.

Pretty sure all of them are fair game.  But transparency in worker safety records, paid sick leave, and the environment are not what corporate America wants to pay for, so "populist" Trump will make sure his corporate donors get what they paid for.

As Greg Sargent notes, Trump is now fully jettisoning his economic populism stances to become -- surprise! -- a standard war hawk corporate Republican.

But it has long been obvious that Trump was going to govern in ways that Wall Street aligned GOP elites are perfectly comfortable with. Trump’s agenda has long included elements that conventional conservative Republicans support: deregulation of Wall Street; a rollback of regulations to protect the environment and combat climate change; deep tax cuts for the rich and businesses. All of that has been underway or in the planning stages since the beginning. 
Trump’s reversals on trade and Ex-Im should only be surprising if you took his economic populism seriously during the campaign. But there was never any grounds for thinking it amounted to anything concrete at all in policy terms. Trump blustered a lot about trade, but he never detailed an actual agenda on it, let alone one that would help workers. He talked tough about raising taxes for the rich before releasing a tax plan that would slash them dramatically. 
Pundits told us for months that Trump’s economic nationalism represented a heterodox combination of hard-line immigration restrictionism and a decisive break with Paul Ryan’s Ayn Randian Republicanism on Keynesian spending and social insurance and the safety net. But the second half of that was always mostly nonsense, and all that’s happening now is that this is getting confirmed.

So what we're getting with Trump is the worst of Austerity poor-shamers twisting morality into draconian cuts, on top of outright racist white nationalism, now combined with vicious saber-rattling and military belligerence.  We're looking at a regime that combines the absolute worst qualities of the GOP mashed into one awful package, and we're not even 100 days in.

Trump's pivot was to actually become the monster those of us who knew that he always was was capable of being. The rest of us?  Well, you folks didn't actually think Trump gave a damn about you, did you?

Nobody's Business But The Turks, Con't

Meanwhile in Ankara, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan demonstrates yet another play in the "soft-to-hard" dictatorship book as he's claiming victory in a Sunday referendum to abolish parliament and give both executive and legislative power to himself.

President Tayyip Erdogan declared victory in a referendum on Sunday to grant him sweeping powers in the biggest overhaul of modern Turkish politics, but opponents said the vote was marred by irregularities and they would challenge its result.

Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast and its three main cities, including the capital Ankara and the largest city Istanbul, looked set to vote "No" after a bitter and divisive campaign.

Erdogan said 25 million people had supported the proposal, which will replace Turkey's parliamentary system with an all-powerful presidency and abolish the office of prime minister, giving the "Yes" camp 51.5 percent of the vote.

That appeared short of the decisive victory for which he and the ruling AK Party had aggressively campaigned. Nevertheless, thousands of flag-waving supporters rallied in Ankara and Istanbul in celebration.

"For the first time in the history of the Republic, we are changing our ruling system through civil politics," Erdogan said, referring to the military coups which marred Turkish politics for decades. "That is why it is very significant."

Under the changes, most of which will only come into effect after the next elections due in 2019, the president will appoint the cabinet and an undefined number of vice-presidents, and be able to select and remove senior civil servants without parliamentary approval.

There has been some speculation that Erdogan could call new elections so that his new powers could take effect right away. However, Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek told Reuters there was no such plan, and the elections would still be held in 2019.

If there was still somehow any doubt that last year's comically bad abortive coup was being used to turn Turkey, an EU member and US NATO ally, into a full dictatorship, that went up in flames last night.  Opposition lawmakers are still planning to challenge the vote, but my guess is after all is said and done that Erdogan will be the last one standing in this game.

Also please note that Turkey's constitution can be changed and the legislative branch abolished by a simple majority referendum, and Erdogan is the guy counting the votes.  He's eligible to remain in power until 2029, unless you know, the goalposts are moved again.  Who's going to stop him?  In just ten months, Erdogan has wrapped up near total power at a speed that even Vlad Putin would be impressed by.

This won't be good for anyone in the neighborhood, starting with of course Turkish Kurds.  We'll see where Erdogan goes, but my guess is he's the new dictator for life on the block and he has both an EU and NATO freebie card in his pocket.


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