Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Last Call For The Man We Warned You About

I've been around for a few decades, growing up in the Reagan years, high school in the Poppy Bush Desert Storm era, and college and entering the workforce during the Clinton years and the dot com bust and I've never been under the illusion that presidents could fix everything.  Dubya showed me they have limitations, and that the best outcome is somebody who truly cared like Obama, that's as good as we're going to get.

But I've never been party to a person in the Oval Office who I considered a sworn enemy.  Dubya was a jackass and I started this blog to help make sure he wasn't succeeded by a Republican, and I went through Obama's highs and lows, but I never felt that the person in the White House was irredeemable garbage.

Then Trump came along and kept proving me wrong on a daily basis, and today is the day I became despondent about the future of my country, this planet and myself.

The man in the Oval Office is an unapologetic white supremacist-enabling bigot narcissist of the worst order.

President Trump buoyed the white nationalist movement on Tuesday as no president has done in generations — equating activists protesting racism with the neo-Nazis and white supremacists who rampaged in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend.

Never has he gone as far in defending their actions as he did during a wild, street-corner shouting match of a news conference in the gilded lobby of Trump Tower, angrily asserting that so-called alt-left activists were just as responsible for the bloody confrontation as marchers brandishing swastikas, Confederate battle flags, anti-Semitic banners and “Trump/Pence” signs.

“Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth,” David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan leader, wrote in a Twitter post shortly after Mr. Trump spoke.

Richard B. Spencer, a white nationalist leader who participated in the weekend’s demonstrations and vowed to flood Charlottesville with similar protests in the coming weeks, was equally encouraged. “Trump’s statement was fair and down to earth,” Mr. Spencer tweeted.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia, a Democrat, wasted little time in accusing the president of adding to the divisions that put an unwanted spotlight on the normally peaceful college town.

“Neo-Nazis, Klansmen and white supremacists came to Charlottesville heavily armed, spewing hatred and looking for a fight,” Mr. McAuliffe said. “One of them murdered a young woman in an act of domestic terrorism, and two of our finest officers were killed in a tragic accident while serving to protect this community. This was not ‘both sides.’”

No word in the Trump lexicon is as tread-worn as “unprecedented.” But members of the president’s staff, stunned and disheartened, said they never expected to hear such a voluble articulation of opinions that the president had long expressed in private. The National Economic Council chairman, Gary D. Cohn, and the Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, who are Jewish, stood by uncomfortably as the president exacerbated a controversy that has once again engulfed a White House in disarray.

“I’ve condemned neo-Nazis,” Mr. Trump told reporters, who interrupted him repeatedly when he seemed to equate the actions of protesters on each side.

He spoke of “very fine people on both sides.” And of the demonstrators who rallied on Friday night, some chanting racist and anti-Semitic slogans, he said, “You had a lot of people in that group that were there to innocently protest and very legally protest.”

This is a man who openly defends neo-Nazis in the most insidious manner, by equating them to those who oppose them.  It's a tactic long-used by these scumbags, one as old as America itself, an equivocation that empowers hate by normalizing it.

And now we have somebody in the White House doing it openly and brazenly, with no regard for anyone but himself.

We have seen the face of evil.  I thought Bush Senior was a bad man who occasionally did good things, I thought his son was led astray but that he never truly hated the country, he just looked the other way too often and let the David Dukes and Richard Spencers of the world in the door.

Trump put them in his goddamn White House staff.  He is an evil man, and anyone who thought that somehow Clinton would be worse needs to have a good, long talk with the shreds of their own conscience and with the ghosts of their tattered credibility.

Donald Trump is an evil man.  Full stop.  If you wondered how the people of Germany became lost to the Third Reich following World War I, you are living it right now as an American.

Trump Watches The Trump Watchers

If Trump has his way, the Department of Justice will be doing just that.  In the regime's latest authoritarian move, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is requesting information on 1.3 million internet visitors to an anti-Trump website accused of aiding the organization of dozens indicted on felony rioting charges while protesting Trump's inauguration in January.

The Department of Justice has requested information on visitors to a website used to organize protests against President Trump, the Los Angeles-based Dreamhost said in a blog post published on Monday. 
Dreamhost, a web hosting provider, said that it has been working with the Department of Justice for several months on the request, which believes goes too far under the Constitution.

DreamHost claimed that the complying with the request from the Justice Department would amount to handing over roughly 1.3 million visitor IP addresses to the government, in addition to contact information, email content and photos of thousands of visitors to the website, which was involved in organizing protests against Trump on Inauguration Day. 
“That information could be used to identify any individuals who used this site to exercise and express political speech protected under the Constitution’s First Amendment,” DreamHost wrote in the blog post on Monday. “That should be enough to set alarm bells off in anyone’s mind.”

When contacted, the Justice Department directed The Hill to the U.S. attorney's office in D.C. The U.S. attorney's office declined to comment but provided the filings related to the case.

The company is currently challenging the request. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Friday in Washington. 
“In essence, the Search Warrant not only aims to identify the political dissidents of the current administration, but attempts to identify and understand what content each of these dissidents viewed on the website,” the company’s general counsel, Chris Ghazarian, said in a legal argument opposing the request.

Yeah, this seems like a textbook case of First Amendment rights being willfully violated in order to support the government's case that clearly violates...First Amendment rights.

This is not what democratically elected leaders do, this is what authoritarian tyrants do.

How long before Trump demands the information on anyone who has visited one of the news sites of the companies that employ the media figures he openly views as his enemies?  How do the people claiming that white supremacy views must be protected as political free speech/vile speech still support the regime after this?

The answer's pretty clear, and it's clearly ugly.

Hunting The Mythical Swing Voter

Over at the NYT Upshot, Nate Cohn argues that not only does the Trump 2016 voter who voted for Obama in 2008 and/or 2012 exist, but that there were enough of them to decisively help the GOP to near total power since 2010, including shifting the 2016 Rust Belt swing states into the red column. Who are these voters?  Angry, white, without a college degree, and they blame Obama for failing them.

THEY HAD SOURED ON MR. OBAMA Just 29 percent of white, no-college Obama-Trump voters approved of his performance, and 69 percent disapproved. Similarly, 75 percent said they would repeal the Affordable Care Act. Only 15 percent believed the economy had improved over the last year, and just 23 percent said their income had increased over the last four years. 
THEY LARGELY BACK THE TRUMP AGENDA The Obama-Trump voters generally support Mr. Trump’s key campaign pledges on immigration, police, infrastructure spending, trade and the environment. This isn’t too surprising: Surveys conducted long before the 2016 election showed that a large share of white working-class Democratic-leaning voters backed the conservative-populist position on these issues. 
THEY’RE NOT NECESSARILY RELUCTANT TRUMP VOTERS Among those who voted in the 2016 primary (65 percent of the Obama-Trump vote), 54 percent of Obama-Trump voters reported backing Mr. Trump in the Republican presidential primary, according to the C.C.E.S., a sign that many of them are pretty strong and consistent supporters of Mr. Trump. Only 9 percent supported another Republican, less than the share that supported Mrs. Clinton or Bernie Sanders. 
Taken together, the data indicates that Mr. Trump had considerable and possibly unique appeal to an important slice of Democratic-leaning voters. Mr. Trump adopted a platform tailored to white working-class Democrats. In doing so, he neutralized many traditional Democratic lines of attack against typical Republicans like Mitt Romney. Many of these voters backed him in the primary and seemed to prefer his brand of populism, suggesting they probably would have backed Mr. Trump no matter which Democrat he faced. 
MANY NOW CONSIDER THEMSELVES REPUBLICAN-LEANERS A Pew Research Center panel study found that fully 18 percent of white working-class voters who leaned Democratic as late as December 2015 reported leaning Republican by December 2016. That timing is significant: It implies that these voters continued to tilt toward the Democrats all the way until the 2016 campaign. 
Similarly, the C.C.E.S. found that 45 percent of Obama-Trump voters identified as Republican-leaners in their postelection study. 
The voters who both voted for Mr. Trump and say they lean Republican have probably taken a big step toward becoming consistent Republican voters. They seem relatively difficult for Democrats to lure back. 
RACIAL RESENTMENT WAS A BIG FACTOR Using this and other data, political scientists have argued that racial resentment is the strongest predictor of whether voters flipped from Mr. Obama to Mr. Trump, and the biggest driver of Trump support among these voters. 
Yes, racial resentment is the strongest predictor of the Obama-Trump vote in this survey data. White, working-class Obama voters with racially conservative views were very likely to flip to the Republicans. For example, Mrs. Clinton won just 47 percent of white Obama voters without a college degree who disagreed with the idea that “white people in the U.S. have certain advantages because of the color of their skin.” In contrast, she retained 88 percent of white Obama voters without a college degree who agreed that white people have certain advantages. 
Nonetheless, voters with high racial resentment did not necessarily represent the preponderance of the Obama-Trump vote, because Mr. Obama had already lost nearly all such voters by 2012. To take the prior example: 49 percent of white, no-college Obama-Trump supporters at least somewhat disagreed with the notion that white people had certain advantages. 
MANY REMAIN PERSUADABLE The C.C.E.S. found that 26 percent of Obama-Trump voters identified as Democrats in their postelection study, while 35 percent were Republicans and 37 percent were independents. Including those independents who lean toward a party, Republicans led by a wider margin of 45 percent to 30 percent. Even so, that’s a significant share who continue to identify with the Democratic Party despite voting for Mr. Trump. 
Democrats were probably still winning a lot of these voters in 2016. The results speak for themselves to some extent. Jason Kander lost his Senate race in Missouri by just three percentage points, even as Mrs. Clinton lost by 20 points. Even Democrats who didn’t run ahead of Mrs. Clinton over all — like Tammy Duckworth in Illinois, Russ Feingold in Wisconsin or Katie McGinty in Pennsylvania — nonetheless ran far ahead of Mrs. Clinton in traditionally Democratic, white working-class areas.

Cohn adds that the Democrats now have to decide how much of their resources they need to dedicate in order to win at least some of these voters back, because until they do, Cohn says, the Democrats are effectively done.

It's an argument made by others, mostly in support of Bernie Sanders, but Cohn goes further to say that the Dem problem is systemic and Sanders would have lost to Trump as well.

The problem with that is when you believe the issue is systemic, the solution has to be systemic too.

What that means is that Cohn is strongly suggesting that in order to be competitive, Democrats have to make a sea change to attract voters that harbor no small amount of racial resentment. Trump was able to leverage that resentment into massive distrust of the Obama administration and Democrats in general.

The problem is that this will come at a cost, and the cost will be borne by black, Latinx, and Asian voters and candidates.  I've said before that this path is suicidal for the Dems and so far Trump is making it incredibly easy to make the Democrats be the party of inclusiveness in comparison by simple dint of Trump's overwhelmingly awful racism, if not open support of white supremacists.

Whether or not the Democrats will do the right thing remains to be seen.  Making the gains Cohn says that the Democrats need at the expense of non-white Democratic voters is something that I wouldn't put past the party, but that leaves us in a "what is the greater good" scenario that only threatens to leave the GOP gains over the last seven years as locked in, allowing even greater damage to civil and voting rights.  If those GOP gains continue through another presidential cycle and 2020 state redistricting battles, the Dems could be wiped out.

So what do we do as liberals and Democrats here other than continue to vote and support the party?

The answer is right now, I don't know.  The normal political discourse in America is shattered.  And that terrifies me more than Trump does.


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