Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Last Call For Biden, Your Time

Joe Biden's win in Michigan resets the ground rules of the last four years, and shows how a whole lot of people on the left have completely misinterpreted the last several years of American politics.

Four years ago, Bernie Sanders put up a surprisingly strong fight against Hillary Clinton on the strength of his support among white working-class voters, who proceeded to desert Clinton in November. On the basis of those two elections, the left quickly formed a series of conclusions. The working class had become alienated by neoliberal economics and was searching for radical alternatives. Because the Democrats had failed to offer the kind of progressive radical alternative Sanders stood for, voters instead opted for Trump’s reactionary attack on globalism. In order to win them back and defeat Trump, Democrats needed to reorganize themselves as a radical populist party. 
On the left, this explanation was accepted so widely it became foundational, a premise progressives would work forward from without questioning its veracity. The Sanders campaign argued that its connection to the white working class would enable Bernie to compete in areas that had abandoned Democrats years ago. “Some in the Sanders camp envision possibly making a play for Iowa, Ohio, and Indiana, as well as states such as Kansas, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Montana,” reported Politico one year ago. Every left-wing indictment of the Democratic mainstream was made in explicit or implicit contrast to this imagined counterfactual of a Sanders-led party riding triumphant through the heartland of red America. 
Even before any votes were cast in the primary, cracks were opening up in this analysis. A close look at the 2016 primary data showed that many of Bernie’s white working-class supporters were the same voters who had swung to Hillary Clinton in 2008 — they were protest votes against the Democratic Party, not affirmations of socialism. Polling on economic conditions swung dramatically positive as soon as Trump was elected, and even though Trump merely continued the same growth trajectory he’d inherited, the approval of his handling of the economy has hovered well above his overall approval. Trump’s ability to rebrand the same expansion and make it popular suggests the economy itself was not the source of the electorate’s discontent in 2016. 
And then in 2018, leftists insisted Democrats were making a catastrophic error by nominating moderates to contest swing districts, rather than Sanders-style populists. The lack of a sharp left-wing economic message would surely prevent the upsurge in turnout Democrats needed to take the House. That prediction also failed. Democrats produced a wave election on behalf of moderate voters. 
The second Sanders campaign has shown conclusively how badly the left misunderstood the electorate. It is not just that Sanders has failed to inspire anything like the upsurge in youth turnout he promised, or that he has failed to make meaningful headway with black voters. White working-class and rural voters have swung heavily against him. In Missouri and Michigan, those voters turned states he closely contested four years ago into routs for his opponent. Some rural counties have swung 30 points from Sanders 2016 to Biden 2020. The candidate in the race who has forged a transracial working-class coalition is, in fact, Joe Biden.

As I said a few months ago, 2020 was going to come down to a choice.  The choice was whether the Democrats would chase working-class white voters who abandoned Obama and Clinton for Trump, or if they would strengthen the Obama coalition and turn out enough people to beat the Trump voters anyway.

Biden's rise since Nevada proves the latter is the path forward, and what do you know, it's attracting white voters back to the party too because three years of an incompetent, evil moron in charge is making people recalibrate their priorities.

Maybe you’ve never heard of Livingston County, Michigan. It’s not Oakland County, the vote-rich behemoth located next door; nor is it Macomb County, the much-mythologized home of the culturally conservative “Reagan Democrats” who began defecting to the Republican Party decades ago. It’s a lot less populated, and a little too far from Detroit, to attract much notice from journalists and pundits. And yet, as the returns rolled in Tuesday night from Michigan’s primary, it was Livingston that told the most compelling story. Not for what it said about Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden, but for what it said about Donald Trump. 
Four years ago, Livingston was a safe haven for Republicans. Voters there—white, educated, upper-class commuters who head east to Detroit, south to Ann Arbor and west to Lansing—gave no hint of a coming realignment. The county’s congressional seat, property of the GOP for 15 years, was locked down. Its political culture, anchored by a love of God, guns and tax cuts, seemed uncrackable. When the presidential primaries were held, the Republican contest attracted nearly three times more voters than the Democratic counterpart. Trump carried the county by 30 points against Hillary Clinton in November 2016, arguably his most impressive pound-for-pound showing in the state.

Today, Republicans are looking over their shoulders in Livingston County—and for good reason. They’re not worried Trump is going to lose there; they’re not worried about a wholesale change in the area’s political DNA. They’re worried about the only thing that matters in Michigan: margins. The reason Livingston is now represented by a Democrat in Congress is because Elissa Slotkin, the freshman Democrat, only lost the county by 19 points, limiting the damage in a way that allowed her to eke out an upset win with strong performances elsewhere in the 8th District.

There was a temptation for Republicans to dismiss Slotkin’s victory as an outlier, to not sweat a 30-point margin slipping to a 19-point margin. But there can no longer be any doubt about the trajectory of Livingston County and the trouble it poses for the GOP: In Tuesday’s Democratic primary, there were 27,458 votes cast in the county—compared to 17,591 four years ago. For Democratic turnout to jump 56 percent in any affluent, well-educated suburb is incredible; for it to happen in a deeply, fundamentally conservative place like Livingston County is astounding. Some people might think a difference of some 10,000 votes is no big deal. But in a state that was decided by some 10,000 votes, it’s a very big deal.

The real "revelation" is people finally admitting that sexism killed Clinton's chances to win, that especially, white men were never going to vote for a woman.  And remember that admitted pussy-grabber Donald Trump won white women too.

And 2020?  Well you know what?  That's still true.  Ask Kamala Harris or Liz Warren how Democrats handled having a second shot at nominating Not An Old White Guy.

America is still in the 1950s in a lot of respects.

Trump Goes Viral, Con't

As the World Health Organization has today officially declared COVID-19 to be a global pandemic, all the evidence points toward the number of COVID-19 cases in the US being an order of magnitude or more than what has been reported, because of utter incompetence on the part of the Trump regime.

Dr. Helen Y. Chu, an infectious disease expert in Seattle, knew that the United States did not have much time. 
In late January, the first confirmed American case of the coronavirus had landed in her area. Critical questions needed answers: Had the man infected anyone else? Was the deadly virus already lurking in other communities and spreading? 
As luck would have it, Chu had a way to monitor the region. For months, as part of a research project into the flu, she and a team of researchers had been collecting nasal swabs from residents experiencing symptoms throughout the Puget Sound region. 
To repurpose the tests for monitoring the coronavirus, they would need the support of state and federal officials. But nearly everywhere Chu turned, officials repeatedly rejected the idea, interviews and emails show, even as weeks crawled by and outbreaks emerged in countries outside of China, where the infection began. 
By Feb. 25, Chu and her colleagues could not bear to wait any longer. They began performing coronavirus tests, without government approval.

What came back confirmed their worst fear. They quickly had a positive test from a local teenager with no recent travel history. The coronavirus had already established itself on U.S. soil without anybody realizing it. 
“It must have been here this entire time,” Chu recalled thinking with dread. “It’s just everywhere already.” 
In fact, officials would later discover through testing, the virus had already contributed to the deaths of two people, and it would go on to kill 20 more in the Seattle region over the following days. 
Federal and state officials said the flu study could not be repurposed because it did not have explicit permission from research subjects; the labs were also not certified for clinical work. While acknowledging the ethical questions, Chu and others argued there should be more flexibility in an emergency during which so many lives could be lost. On Monday night, state regulators told them to stop testing altogether. 
The failure to tap into the flu study, detailed here for the first time, was just one in a series of missed chances by the federal government to ensure more widespread testing during the early days of the outbreak, when containment would have been easier.

And how did COVID-19 escape containment procedures and make it to Washington state some six weeks ago?  Because the Trump regime blew it.

An analysis of the novel coronavirus’ spread inside the United States suggests that thousands of Americans are already infected, dimming the prospects for stomping out the outbreak in its earliest stages. 
Researchers estimate that by March 1, the virus had already infected about 1,000 to 10,000 people who have not yet been accounted for. At the start of this month, about 80 U.S. cases had been confirmed and officials were still expressing confidence they could contain the new virus. 
Quarantines, contact tracing and other public health measures have likely tamped down the COVID-19 outbreak here, the researchers said. But from the start, a group of infected travelers just big enough to fill an elevator likely has been expanding the virus’ reach, largely undetected. 
Released into a country of about 330 million, each of these travelers was assumed to have passed the virus to 2 to 2.5 people, each of whom in turn infected another 2 to 2.5 people, and so on. Tote up the nodes on this rapidly branching network of contacts and the number of victims balloons quickly, the researchers wrote.

As I said last week, preparing for a national epidemic as the new reality is something you should have already begun making preparations for. The Trump regime will be of no help.  Individual states are scrambling to catch up, but at this point it's increasingly more drastic isolation. It will be clear by the end of the month that even these efforts at larger-scale amelioration will have failed.

The Trump regime and the GOP know exactly how awful this will get.

Last week, Republican members of Congress heard a sober warning in a closed-door briefing on Capitol Hill: There’s a good chance most people in the United States will eventually be exposed to the novel coronavirus, according to one former official.

The assessment, from a former White House public-health official who now works in the pharmaceutical industry, did not suggest that most people will become infected or ill—rather, just that most will encounter the virus, which has killed at least two dozen Americans and infected hundreds more. 
Not all public-health experts share that view. And not everyone exposed to the virus will become infected. Still, the briefing highlighted the potential gravity of the growing crisis. 
Two sources–a member of Congress who attended the briefing and a second person with knowledge of it–described the remarks, made last week, to The Daily Beast. They were delivered by Rajeev Venkayya, the president of the Global Vaccine Business Unit at Tokyo-based pharmaceutical giant Takeda. The member of Congress said the comment was “sobering,” while the second person noted it came during a discussion about how to manage the costs of medical care related to the coronavirus. Venkayya pointed out that widespread access to medical care will be vital, given the likely breadth of the exposure, that source said. 
Venkayya confirmed to The Daily Beast through a spokesperson that he made the remark about the broad scope of likely exposure, and did not provide further comment on the briefing. He was previously director of vaccine delivery for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Health Program, according to his bio on Takeda’s website. Before that, he worked in the George W. Bush White House as special assistant to the president for biodefense, where he led efforts to develop and implement the national strategy for pandemic influenza.

The remarks came in a briefing to House Republicans. Executives from multiple pharmaceutical companies spoke to the members, as did Vice President Mike Pence. The comment on most Americans’ likely potential exposure to the virus came after Pence left the briefing, the sources noted. Spokespersons for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy did not respond to requests for comment on this story. Neither did the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Republicans know tax cuts aren't going to fix anything, but they figure they can use it as an excuse later to cut things like epidemic preparedness in the future, you know?

Meanwhile, the Trump regime is already shifting responsibility and blame to the states.

As U.S. authorities on Wednesday sought ways to deal with a growing outbreak of coronavirus, the Trump administration is considering cutting taxes, Democratic presidential candidates are canceling events and the governor of New York state is saying the federal government had “fallen down on the job.” 
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the administration was looking into taking steps that could put hundreds of billions of dollars into the U.S. economy to shield it from a slowdown brought on by the disruption from coronavirus. 
Health Secretary Alex Azar said federal leaders were working with local officials in the hardest hit states, including Washington, California, New York, Massachusetts, and Florida, saying “strong mitigation steps” could help buy valuable time. 
The governor of New York, however, said federal officials had left states scrambling to act on their own, including ramping up testing for the highly contagious - and sometimes fatal - respiratory illness.

Make no mistake here, when it becomes clear just how bad this will be, the Trump regime will aggresively blame states, particularly blue states, for allowing "real America" to be infected.  It won't be Trump's fault, it'll be Andrew Cuomo and Gavin Newsom's heads who the FOX News State TV will be calling for in the next few weeks.

It's only a matter of whether spread of COVID-19 can be slowed enough to allow hospitals and other health care facilities to handle the crush of patients.  Very soon we're going to reach a point where parts of the country will simply have no additional resources to use, and that's when the game shifts from containment to triage: saving who can be saved.

And that will not be everyone.  Clusters of casualties will mount very quickly as local and regional hospitals are overwhelmed. What's happening in New Rochelle, New York right now will be repeated in dozens, if not thousands, of towns and neighborhoods.  Knock-on effects from shortages, supply chain interruptions, and resulting cascade failures will start harming people who are healthy but otherwise have no resources to fall back on and no way to get them.

Look at it this way, in a natural disaster like a hurricane, heat wave, tornado, blizzard, wildfire, etc. the first thing that emergency personnel do is to go check on the elderly.  Doing so in a COVID-19 scenario may be a lethal mistake.

Again, it's going to be bad, folks.  There will be casualties, and there will be otherwise preventable casualties among people who don't have the virus at all. It's like dying in a horror movie not to the killer, but to a panic-stricken car accident while trying to escape.

Be careful out there, all of you.  Be smart.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

Russian interference in the 2020 primary and election campaigns continue, and the Trump regime continues to deny that it's even happening.

The Russian government has stepped up efforts to inflame racial tensions in the United States as part of its bid to influence November’s presidential election, including trying to incite violence by white supremacist groups and to stoke anger among African-Americans, according to seven American officials briefed on recent intelligence.

Russia’s lead intelligence agency, the S.V.R., has apparently gone beyond 2016 methods of interference, when operatives tried to stoke racial animosity by creating fake Black Lives Matter groups and spreading disinformation to depress black voter turnout. Now, Russia is also trying to influence white supremacist groups, the officials said; they gave few details, but one official said federal investigators are examining how at least one neo-Nazi organization with ties to Russia is funded.

Other Russian efforts, which American intelligence agencies have tracked, involve simply prodding white nationalists to more aggressively spread hate messages and amplifying their invective. Russian operatives are also trying to push black extremist groups toward violence, according to multiple officials, though they did not detail how.
Russia’s more public influence operations, like state-backed news organizations, have continued to push divisive racial narratives, including stories emphasizing allegations of police abuse in the United States and highlighting racism against African-Americans within the military.

And as social media companies more vigilantly monitor for foreign activity than they did in 2016, Russia has also adjusted its methods to evade detection. Rather than disseminate messages as widely as possible, as in 2016, Russian operatives are using private Facebook groups, posts on the online message board 4chan and closed chat rooms that are more difficult to monitor, according to intelligence officials.

Russia’s primary goal, according to several officials briefed on the intelligence who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information, is to foster a sense of chaos in the United States, though its motivations are under debate and difficult to decipher in the absence of high-level intelligence sources inside Moscow.

The direct effect of its interference on presidential politics is less clear, though some American officials said that Russia believed that acts of violence could bolster President Trump’s re-election bid if he could argue that a response to such an episode demanded continuity and that he represented a law-and-order approach.

The F.B.I. and other intelligence agencies declined to comment on specific Russian activities. Trump administration officials were set to brief Congress behind closed doors on Tuesday to discuss election threats from Russia and other adversarial nations.

“We see Russia is willing to conduct more brazen and disruptive influence operations because of how it perceives its conflict with the West,” David Porter, a top agent on the F.B.I.’s Foreign Influence Task Force, said last month at an election security conference in Washington.

He added, “To put it simply, in this space, Russia wants to watch us tear ourselves apart.”

As I noted yesterday, the rise in white supremacist activity is directly tied to a regime that believe it can benefit from these "very fine people".  And Trump himself continues to attack his own intelligence agencies, preferring to believe the Russians over his own people.

President Trump attacked a leading House Democrat on Tuesday over upcoming classified intelligence briefings by members of his own administration on the issue of election interference, suggesting his political opponents were exaggerating the threat from Russia.

Mr. Trump has previously issued derogatory statements about his intelligence chiefs after congressional hearings, but even before Tuesday’s briefings, he posted on Twitter that he “wouldn’t expect too much.”

There is another Russia, Russia, Russia meeting today. It is headed up by corrupt politician Adam “Shifty” Schiff, so I wouldn’t expect too much! @DHS_Wolf— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 10, 2020

Mr. Trump incorrectly said the first of two briefings, to House members, would be led by Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. The briefing on Tuesday was arranged by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, not Mr. Schiff. The Senate will receive an identical briefing later Tuesday afternoon.

Mr. Schiff fired back, noting that the officials briefing lawmakers were the president’s “own people” including several agency heads.

“We will insist on the truth, whether you like it or not,” Mr. Schiff said on Twitter.

Mr. Trump’s tweet showed his frustration over lawmakers’ continued concern that Russia is mounting efforts to influence the 2020 election. Mr. Trump has nurtured a grudge against Mr. Schiff since he took a leading role investigating ties between Mr. Trump’s campaign and Russia, and his leadership of the impeachment trial reignited the president’s ire.

Since his election, Mr. Trump has tried to play down or even dismiss discussions about Russia’s interference campaigns, chafing at the prospect that he won with the help of a foreign power. Some officials have said that they worry that the president’s dismissive comments make it harder for intelligence agencies and officials with the Department of Homeland Security to counter Moscow’s covert operations to influence the presidential election in November.

Russia has stepped up those efforts, officials have said, exploiting existing divisions among Americans to sow chaos. In particularly, Kremlin intelligence operatives have sought to amplify the messages of white supremacist groups to try to incite violence.
Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, sounded a far different tone than the president, urging senators of both parties to attend what he called a discussion on a “critical subject.” Though he also addressed Democrats’ intense focus on Russia — the briefings are to address election security threats from a variety of adversaries, including China and Iran — he offered a more neutral encouragement for lawmakers to set aside “reflexive” partisanship.

“I encourage all my colleagues to attend the bipartisan briefing today,” he said. “And then let’s preserve that bipartisan spirit and that unity. Let’s focus on fighting against foreign interference, not fighting each other.”

McConnell at least understands why this is going to be a disaster for the GOP.  Trump can't admit it now because it would prove he's been in on it all along.  It's okay though, McConnell will find a way to block any election protection measures anyway.  It's up to the states to defend themselves.  Some will, others won't.

But Russia is definitely going to be a factor in tilting the election towards Trump.



Related Posts with Thumbnails