Friday, June 30, 2017

Last Call For The Coming Trumpsplosion

Martin "BooMan" Longman has been around the liberal blogosphere for a long time, and I first got my start writing over at his place so many years ago.  He's maintained his space for over a decade now and you can find him over at Washington Monthly's invaluable Political Animal blog along with another crucial voice in Nancy LeTourneau.  Anyway, the point of all this that Martin has a pretty damned good track record on how things have panned out over the years, and he's only been all the more accurate with his analysis and predictions as America enters the Age of Trump.

Reading the New York Times last night and this morning, I felt like I had been plagiarized. It seems that what was once a lonely voice is rapidly becoming common wisdom. It’s been a recurring theme of my analysis for months that the Trump administration had blundered badly by marrying his unorthodox and in many cases heretical campaign for the Republican nomination and presidency with a strategy that is wholly reliant on conventional conservative Republicans for implementation and passage. 
In particular, the decision to sign off on the never-before-attempted plan to pass two budget reconciliation bills in a single fiscal year is beginning to look like a narrow-alley dead end in a very bad neighborhood. The idea was that the Republicans could take advantage of the fact that since they never did their budget work last year they still had the opportunity to finish that up with a health care bill that only requires fifty votes to pass (with the vice-president breaking any tie). They could then use the same legislative trick to pass tax reform in this year’s budget plan at a fifty vote threshold. Without getting into all the parliamentary rigamarole that’s involved, the most significant consequence of adopting this plan was that the administration believed and acted as if they would never need a single Democratic vote for anything, ever.

And of course that's what the Trumpistas believe, that well beyond Newt Gingrich's declaration of Bill Clinton's irrelevance in 1997 is the unshakable fanaticism that just because Trump defied the odds and the pollsters (with or without Russian help, mind you) and won in November, that the Democrats and their voters no longer matter, no longer have any political power, any voice, any franchise, or any rights as citizens.  We're not even Americans to them at this point, the country has moved on into a Brave New World of Trump.

Only, reality has come a-knockin', and Mitch and Paul Ryan just aren't up to fixing this mess.

If that looks familiar it’s because I’ve written essentially the same thing over and over again. It’s not just health care and tax reform that are in peril. If Trump attempts to raise the debt ceiling using nothing but Republican votes, he will fail, too. If he tries to pass appropriations bills without any Democratic support, the government will either shut down or be funded on continuing resolutions that keep Obama’s priorities in place. He will not get an infrastructure bill without significant Democratic input and support. 
Not only can he not govern successfully using this strategy, he cannot govern at all. This is why I foresaw that his administration would crack up on the shoals sometime this summer, and certainly no later than September when the fiscal year ends and the debt ceiling becomes critical. 
Most concerning was the prospect and likelihood that he had painted himself into a corner and would discover that he had no way of recovering from the mess he’d made. As McConnell’s plan for Obamacare repeal faltered, he began warning his caucus of exactly what I am explaining now. But it was too late and the plan was never going to work anyway. The only thing that McConnell had to use in support of a bill that the people hate was the direness of the consequences of failure. But either he doesn’t understand the severity of the problem or he was unable to communicate it effectively enough. Perhaps it’s just not salvageable on any level, since the only way to delay their fate is to pass a bill that would strip 22 million people of their access to health care. 
The consequences will begin to pile up now. Trump will lash out in ever more confusing and bizarre ways. And then the indictments and plea deals will start to flow in from Special Counsel Bob Mueller’s shop. By Thanksgiving, if not before, the nation will be confronted with the urgent need to remove Trump from power and I suspect there will be more consensus about it by then than most people can imagine right now.

Not only do I believe Martin is right, I think the reality of the just how bad this can get is going to hit long before Thanksgiving, especially if Trump botches the debt ceiling or stomps his way into a shooting conflict somewhere.  Trump still has most of Obama's economy right now.  Should the economic consequences of Trumpism arrive sooner rather than later and the Dow goes from 21,000 to 16,000 again, you are going to see Republicans head for the exits at near relativistic velocities.

The larger point is that Martin predicted Trump's inability to govern would be what sinks the guy, and that's looking more likely than ever after just five months on the job.  The State Department is at this point in shambles, the FBI, CIA, and NSA are having a good old time plying connect-the-dots with Trump's Russian buddies, it's all the Pentagon can do to keep Trump from burning down the Middle East, and morale is so bad at the rest of the executive branch agencies due to purges and proposed massive budget cuts that it's all starting to come unglued.

And it's only end of June, some 22 weeks in.  We can't even see the bottom yet, but we're on the way down so fast that the fog is beginning to clear just from the speed of our descent.

Moving The MAGA Militants

Pierre Omidyar's Democracy Fund (yes, the same guy behind bankrolling Team Double G and The Intercept) has an interesting new study out on Trump voters and what motivated them to support Trump.  Not all Trump voters are the same, but the study claims that a particular subset of Trump voters were the ones that Democrats have lost over the last six years, and they are largely responsible for the GOP being in charge of the country.  Meet the "American Preservationists" who voted to wreck the America they love so much.

These Trump voters lean economically progressive, believe the economic and political systems are rigged, have nativist immigration views, and a nativist and ethnocultural conception of American identity. 
Although American Preservationists are less loyal Republicans than other Trump voter groups, and nearly half had positive views of Clinton in 2012, American Preservationists comprise the core Trump constituency that propelled him to victory in the early Republican primaries. 
American Preservationists have low levels of formal education and the lowest incomes of the Trump groups—and non-Trump voters as well. Despite being the most likely group to say that religion is “very important” to them, they are the least likely to attend church regularly. They are the most likely group to be on Medicaid, to report a permanent disability that prevents them from working, and to regularly smoke cigarettes. Despite watching the most TV, they are the least politically informed of the Trump groups
American Preservationists appear more likely to desire being around people like themselves, who have similar backgrounds and cultural experiences. They are far more likely to have a strong sense of their own racial identity and to say their Christian identity is very important to them. They take the most restrictionist approach to immigration— staunchly opposing not just illegal but legal immigration as well, and intensely supporting a temporary Muslim travel ban. They feel the greatest amount of angst over race relations: they believe that anti-white discrimination is as pervasive as other forms of discrimination, and they have cooler feelings (as measured on a feeling thermometer scale) toward minorities.(2) They agree in overwhelming numbers that real Americans need to have been born in America or have lived here most of their lives and be Christian. 
American Preservationists are trade skeptics and look more like Democrats on domestic economic issues, particularly on the nation’s wealth distribution, concern over old-age entitlement programs, and animus toward Wall Street. They feel powerless against moneyed interested and the politically connected and tend to distrust other people. They also share liberals’ views on the environment, believing that global warming is a serious threat and human activity is primarily to blame.

The theory is until Trump came along, these are the folks that would just have easily voted for the Democrats over Medicaid, Wall Street and climate change then they would vote for Republicans over immigration, race, and religion.  When Trump came in and appealed directly to these voters and their fears, they dumped Clinton like a hot sack of garbage to go be publicly racist assholes.

If you've ever been to Kentucky, the state is full of these voters.  They were tailor-made to flip to the GOP when Trump ran.  Obamacare pissed them off until they figured out that it meant more stuff for them.

The question is do the Democrats bother to try to get these voters back?

It's About Suppression, Con't.

OK folks, as if I haven't stressed this enough over the last almost nine years, now is way past the time to be worrying about Trump's point man on national voter suppression efforts, our old friend Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has asked the state of Connecticut to provide President Donald Trump’s new voter commission with the names, birthdates and Social Security information for that state’s voters going back to 2006. 
Kobach, a former chairman of the Kansas Republican Party and a candidate for Kansas governor in 2018, serves as vice chairman of Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. 
In a June 28 letter, Kobach asked the Connecticut secretary of state’s office to provide it with all publicly available voter roll data, including the full names of all registered voters along with their addresses, dates of birth, the last four digits of their Social Security numbers, voting history and other personal information. 
Kobach’s office did not immediately answer a question about how many states received similar letters. Kobach previously promised that the commission would undertake the most comprehensive study of voter fraud to date. 
Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill, a Democrat, said in a statement that her office plans to share “publicly-available information with the Kobach Commission while ensuring that the privacy of voters is honored by withholding protected data.”

“In the same spirit of transparency, we will request that the Commission share any memos, meeting minutes or additional information as state officials have not been told precisely what the Commission is looking for,” she said. “This lack of openness is all the more concerning, considering that the Vice Chair of the Commission, Kris Kobach, has a lengthy record of illegally disenfranchising eligible voters in Kansas.” 
Kobach has championed some of the strictest voting laws in the country during his tenure as secretary of state. Those laws have spurred multiple lawsuits.
Last week, a federal judge fined him $1,000 for making “patently misleading representations” about documents he took to a November meeting with Trump that relate to federal voting law as part of an ongoing voting rights case. 
“The courts have repudiated his methods on multiple occasions but often after the damage has been done to voters,” Merrill said. “Given Secretary Kobach’s history we find it very difficult to have confidence in the work of this Commission.” 
Vanita Gupta, the former head of the U.S. Department of Justice’s office of Civil Rights, said on Twitter that the letter proves that Kobach and Vice President Mike Pence, who serves as the commission’s chairman, “are laying the groundwork for voter suppression, plain & simple.” 
Kobach’s office denied a request by The Kansas City Star for documents related to the commission last week on the grounds that his office has no documents pertaining to the commission.

Vanita Gupta is right, and Connecticut is not the only state who got this letter demanding voter information for the last ten years.  All 50 states have been asked to do this.  At least three have said no, including to her considerable credit, Kentucky's Secretary of State, Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) said in a statement that he has “no intention” of fulfilling the request, defending the fairness of his state's elections. He also blasted the commission in his statement, saying it was based on the "false notion" of widespread voter fraud in the November presidential election.

“At best this commission was set up as a pretext to validate Donald Trump’s alternative election facts, and at worst is a tool to commit large-scale voter suppression,” McAuliffe stated. 
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla (D) also responded to the request, saying “I will not provide sensitive voter information to a commission that has already inaccurately passed judgment that millions of Californians voted illegally” in the last election.

“California’s participation would only serve to legitimize the false and already debunked claims of massive voter fraud made by the President, Vice President, and [Kansas Secretary of State Kris] Kobach,” Padilla stated. 
Kobach is the vice chairman of the voter fraud panel who asked each state for its voter rolls. 
Later in the evening, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) said she too wouldn't offer up the information requested by the panel. 
"The president created his election commission based on the false notion that "voter fraud" is a widespread issue – it is not," Grimes said in a statement Thursday. 
"Indeed, despite bipartisan objections and a lack of authority, the President has repeatedly spread the lie that three to five million illegal votes were cast in the last election," her statement continued. "Kentucky will not aid a commission that is at best a waste of taxpayer money and at worst an attempt to legitimize voter suppression efforts across the country."

And the only reason you would force states to do this is if your "solution" to the issue of "voter fraud" was a "national voter integrity database" ahead of national voter ID legislation that would standardize voting and registration procedures across the country for federal elections.

Keep in mind too that Trump would then have a database of every voter in the country and how they voted for the last ten years.  You can imagine the awesome levels of malfeasance that could occur in the annals of targeting voter disenfranchisement with that type of information.

You can also imagine that there would be no independent oversight of the commission and the conclusions they would draw, which of course would be that America desperately needs "voter registration and identification reform legislation" ahead of 2020...or maybe ahead of 2018.

This is where we lose our two-party system, guys, right here.  Republicans vote, Democrats are mysteriously purged from the rolls, just enough to give Republicans key wins in key locations time and time again.  You don't have to touch a single voting machine in the country to control the outcome if you already know who can and cannot vote in each precinct in America.

Even if you don't believe that Trump got help from this from the Russians the first time around, you'd better believe Kobach is going to push for this to happen by 2020.  Keep a really close eye on this one guys, because your democracy is going to go poof before you know it.


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