Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Wrong Lesson From 2016

If the Virginia gubernatorial race and the state's other races turn into a disaster for Dems in two weeks, it's because Team Blue went all in on the "white voters matter" message from 2016, and it's coming directly at the expense of black Democrats in the state.  Steve Phillips at The Nation:

For all the analyses offered about the behavior of these voters in 2016, you hear almost nothing about the tactical and strategic decisions that led to the cataclysmic collapse of black-voter turnout. Of the first $200 million allocated by progressive outside groups for spending in 2016, zero dollars were directed to African-American voter mobilization. Zero. Despite the availability of multiple inspiring leaders of color in the mold of Barack Obama, the Clinton campaign opted to return to the days of fielding an all-white presidential ticket. In facing a Republican nominee whose candidacy was propelled by white racial fears and anxieties, the Democratic strategy was to largely ignore the racism and focus instead on Trump’s temperament. In the face of such neglect and disinterest, many black voters showed less interest in the election, and turnout plummeted to the lowest level in almost 20 years. A higher percentage of black voters turned out to vote for John Kerry than did for Hillary Clinton, and that precipitous decline cost her the pivotal states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania—and, as a result, the White House. 
Rather than heeding last year’s wake-up call, Democrats continue to perpetuate this pattern of structural racism and implicit bias. Take the upcoming election in Virginia—a quadrennial political bellwether because it takes place the year after each presidential election. Smart electoral strategy should be predicated on empirical evidence and hard data, and the data in Virginia clearly illuminates the path to victory for Democrats. In off-year elections, turnout usually drops dramatically, lowering the threshold needed to secure a majority of the vote. Current Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe won the governor’s mansion in 2013 with about 1.1 million votes. It is the presidential elections that show the true size of the pool of progressive voters, and Clinton won nearly 2 million votes in Virginia last year. According to the exit polls, 53 percent of the Virginians who supported Clinton—1,047,518 voters—were people of color. That’s more than all of the people who backed the 2013 Republican gubernatorial nominee, Ken Cuccinelli, whose campaign garnered 1,013,354 votes. 
The racial myopia in the Democratic ecosystem is revealed by analyzing how money is spent by campaigns and how money is given tocampaigns. On the spending side, campaign allocations reflect a candidate’s true priorities. According to the Virginia Public Access Project, Democratic nominee Ralph Northam has spent over $17 million as of October 1, 2017. Logically, if a majority of the target-voter universe consists of people of color, a campaign that wanted to win would spend a majority of its money trying to get those voters to the polls. But the Northam campaign’s biggest line item—nearly $9 million—consists of funds given to an advertising firm led by an all-white board to run television ads. These campaign ads attack the Republican nominee for his ties to the oil company Enron. What is the strategic rationale of such an advertising campaign? Clearly, those ads are not supposed to motivate African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and other people of color to take time from their busy lives to come out and support the Democratic ticket. 
Meanwhile, organizations specifically focused on mobilizing black voters—who comprised 37 percent of all Virginia Democratic voters in 2016—have to practically beg, borrow, and steal for resources to engage the voters who form the cornerstone of Democratic politics. BlackPAC, New Virginia Majority, and other community-based organizations have managed to gather enough resources to conduct a $1 million black-turnout program, but that’s just a fraction of the $8–10 million that should be allocated to reaching black voters, based on their numbers and centrality to Democratic victory.
Another indication of limited cultural competence in campaigns is the failure to take advantage of the fact that the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor is an African American, Justin Fairfax. From Harold Washington’s Chicago mayoral campaign in 1983 to Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, it has been shown that having a candidate from one’s community, particularly when that community bears the brunt of inequality, can be a motivating factor in increasing voter turnout. Given this, progressive donors and groups across the country should be showering resources on Fairfax’s campaign and featuring his face in campaign ads. Instead, Fairfax must be repeating to himself the words of the protagonist in Ralph Ellison’s novel Invisible Man, “I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.”

If anything, Justin Fairfax is seen as a hindrance to Ralph Northam.  He has appeared in zero joint commercials with Northam and the DNC has basically ignored Fairfax for months.

The bigger issue is that as bad as voter suppression is right now, Democrats are focused on unreliable Trump voters and not getting out the reliable black vote. I don't understand why, but there it is.  In fact, if Virginia is any indication, Democrats are now giving the appearance of being openly dismissive to black voters.

I still think Northam can win, and he'll pull it off by 5 points or so.  But it's going to be an ugly 2018 if Dems continue to think ignoring black voters and the suppression we face in favor of white Trump voters is going to win them races.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

Over at Washington Monthly, Nancy LeTourneau correctly concludes that the GOP believes the Mueller investigation is about to blow wide open, and that the Republican party is getting out in front with a proper smokescreen story, in this case, the "bombshell revelations" from The Hill reporter John Solomon.

If you avoid right wing media, you might not be aware of the story that has them all galvanized right now, a remake of the old one about how the Russians bribed the Clintons to sell off 20 percent of America’s uranium. It’s the lie Peter Schweitzer tried to sell in his book, Clinton Cash, which has been repeatedly fact-checked since he and Bannon conned the New York Times into buying it in 2015. 
The reason this whole nonsense has been resurrected is because a reporter named John Solomon has been writing about it at The Hill almost daily for the last week. To understand what’s up, it is helpful to know a little bit about his background. From 1987 until 2006 Solomon worked as a reporter for the Associated Press. Here is how Josh Marshall summarized his reputation among fellow journalists.

He had a well-earned reputation as the easiest mark in the business for GOP oppo research hits. It was actually a kind of running gag among Republican campaign operatives. No one will run with a story you’re trying to float? Bring it to John Solomon.
Since then, Solomon worked mostly for the conservative Washington Times before going to Circa News.

You may remember that Circa was a startup with an ingenious but ultimately flawed or perhaps premature concept that debuted to much fanfare but ultimately shuttered. The URL and social media feeds of Circa were purchased by Sinclair Broadcasting, a hyper-right-wing media conglomerate, which is now buying up properties to bring its style of post-Fox News propaganda television nationwide. Sinclair put Solomon in charge of Circa and relaunched it as a Buzzfeed for right wing propaganda focused on millennials.
His position at The Hill started this past summer.

Solomon has dredged up the widely debunked "Clinton Foundation uranium scandal" again, featured in the hit job book Clinton Cash, backed by Steve Bannon and Breitbart News.  Why?  It's all they have to deflect the coming charges from Mueller.

Anyone wondering why major media outlets are ignoring this latest attempt to dig up old lies about Hillary Clinton need only look at the facts. But as much as Trump and right wing media outlets complain about the lack of coverage, I don’t think they are even attempting to reach a mainstream audience with this story. Instead, it is designed to prep Trump’s supporters for coming news from the investigation into whether his campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election. In some cases, they’re not even being subtle about that. Take a look at how RedState introduces the story:

As the left and its media buddies continue to search for the elusive Russia/Trump collusion monster roaming forested hillsides, the FBI has actual evidence of a Russian plot that occurred in 2009 under Barack Obama’s watch. 
Beyond thinking that they can point fingers and say, “Clinton and Obama did it too, only worse,” this story is designed to discredit the people who are involved in the current Trump/Russia investigation. Here is what they’re all saying about Solomon’s first report that focused on the FBI’s investigation of “racketeering scheme” by Russian nuclear industry officials: 

Who was the prosecutor leading the investigation? Rod Rosenstein. That would be the same Rod Rosenstein who is now Deputy Attorney General and supervising the Russia probe.
Who was the FBI Director? Robert Mueller. That would be the same Robert Mueller who is leading the Russia probe. 
Who was leading the FBI investigation? Andrew McCabe…This would be the same Andrew McCabe who approved his own refusal to recuse himself from the Russia investigation both because of his Clinton ties and because of his personal vendetta against Mike Flynn. 
Only in Washington could this mess be carried out and the perpetrators still not only walk free but be thought of as men of integrity. 
Whoa! So the guys who uncovered a plot by Russians working in the U.S. to provide kickbacks to their country’s oligarchs are now perpetrators who don’t deserve to be walking free? Do you see how far down the rabbit hole all of this has gone? 
That’s the news bubbling all over right wing web sites and Fox News and spread via social media. It is nothing more than a pre-emptive use of Trump’s ubiquitous pattern of lie, distract and blame designed to provide him and his base with a response when/if charges of collusion with Russia are brought against his campaign.

Bingo.  Remember, the GOP is counting on Trump's support among Trump voters to be unwavering.  If it is, he can survive pretty much anything thrown at him, the cowards in the GOP will see to that.  They can scream "partisan witch hunt" all day and get away with it.

But if Trump does something bad enough, he's done for.  The GOP knows this, they'll be joining him in obscurity and infamy as a result.  Therefore, the Trump faithful are being inoculated now, they'll point to the uranium deal and blame a "massive Obama/Clinton conspiracy" for Trump's problems.

House Republicans on Tuesday launched new probes into several Obama-era controversies, covering both the Justice Department’s 2016 handling of the Clinton email case and the administration’s 2010 approval for the sale of a mining company that gave the Russians partial control over American uranium reserves. 
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., announced his committee and the House Oversight Committee will investigate the so-called Uranium One deal. 
“We’re not going to jump to any conclusions, but we’re going to try and get the facts,” Nunes said. 
Separately, the House oversight and judiciary committees announced a joint investigation into the Justice Department and FBI’s handling of the Clinton email probe.

"Decisions made by the Department of Justice in 2016 have led to a host of outstanding questions that must be answered,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said in a statement.

Endless Clinton investigations as a smokescreen for Trump's malfeasance was always the plan.  For the GOP to move on this story now means Mueller's recommended charges and indictments are coming sooner rather than later.  This will be "both sides do it" to the max as a result, all through the 2018 midterms.

And why now?  Why are these old Clinton wounds being ripped open again so that the GOP must investigate?

Maybe it's because they are covering for truly bad news for Trump.

The Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office is pursuing an investigation into possible money laundering by Paul Manafort, said three people familiar with the matter, adding to the federal and state probes concerning the former Trump campaign chairman. 
The investigation by the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York is being conducted in collaboration with a probe by special counsel Robert Mueller into Mr. Manafort and possible money laundering, according to two of these people.

Stay tuned.  Things are moving quickly now into a dangerous new stage.


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