The Clintons’ Dominance of Democratic Politics Is Over—And They Will Not Be Remembered Fondly

Self-inflicted wounds, an out-of-touch candidate and a party more concerned about Wall Street than the working class sealed the Clinton campaign’s defeat.

Source: in these times

Author:kathlene Geier

Emphasis Mine

In the aftermath of a political catastrophe as devastating of the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States, you’ve got two choices. You can blame the elites or blame the people. I’m gonna go with the elites.

Many liberal journalists, however have taken the opposite view. To paraphrase Bertolt Brecht, in the aftermath of Hillary Clinton’s stunning loss, they have demanded that we dissolve the people and elect another. The Clintonistas have attempted to pin the blame for this fiasco on the voter groups they detest the most: the white working class, the millennials, and the Left. Clinton supporter Jill Filipovic opined that Hillary was too good for us: “Sorry America, you didn’t deserve her,” she tweeted. Many other Clintonites in the media concurred. To Virginia Heffernan, Hillary Clinton was not just a candidate. Instead, she “is an idea, a world-historical heroine, light itself” who “did everything right in this campaign… She cannot be faulted, criticized, or analyzed for even one more second.”

But outside the pro-Clinton media bubble, ordinary Americans had a far less rosy view of Dear Leader Hillary.

Clinton came within striking distance of winning this thing; that much is clear. Normally, when, like Hillary, you begin your campaign with approval ratings that are already under water, and you’re also running when your own party has held the White House for two consecutive terms, I’d say it would be an uphill climb to victory. On the other hand, Hillary was running against Donald Trump, a man who, at the time of the election, was despised by even more people than she was. Against a normal Republican like McCain or Romney, Hillary probably would have lost decisively. But against Trump, she was the odds-on favorite. The polls were tight but they almost always showed Hillary in the lead. And it ended up being a close, and therefore winnable, election. The margins were close enough that a competently run campaign could and should have put Clinton over the top.

(N.B.: Clinton won the vote 48-46, about where the polls were…)

What we saw instead was gross political malpractice on the part of Democratic Party elites generally and Team Clinton specifically. Yes, factors outside of the campaign’s control, ranging from the Comey letter to racism, sexism, and more, surely contributed to her defeat. But it’s also become clear that a series of fatal miscalculations and spectacular strategic blunders by the party and the Clinton campaign is what ultimately sealed their candidate’s fate.

Here are some of them:

1. This one isn’t so much why-Hillary-lost but why-the-Democrats-lost: the Clintons did the most thorough job of clearing the Democratic primary field of any candidate in modern history. They threw their weight around and made certain that they had endorsements and support from just about every major donor, party official, party organization, and interest group organization (such as labor, reproductive rights groups, environmental groups, etc.).

The Clintons have a history of punishing perceived disloyalty, so it’s easy to see why these groups knuckled under. Every potential candidate stayed out except Bernie, who shocked everyone when what was supposed to be a protest candidacy turned into a major threat. But if the primary process had been open and competitive, we almost certainly would have ended up with a stronger and more popular candidate. I don’t know who that would have been–maybe Elizabeth Warren, maybe Joe Biden, maybe Sherrod Brown, maybe Kirsten Gillibrand, maybe someone else. In any case, the party, and the country, would have been far better off. Democratic Party elites share the blame here, because they never challenged the Clintons’ attempts to ensure a coronation.

2. Clinton also shot herself in the foot by her own arrogant behavior. Setting up the private email server at the State Department, making those buckraking Wall Street speeches, refusing to cut her ties to the Clinton Foundation (and thus avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest)–all of those were Clinton’s freely made choices, and as such they were completely avoidable.

Yes, the email scandal was a load of bunk, but why in the world would she make the stupid decision to set up a private server in the first place, which gratuitously provided endless rounds of  ammunition for her many political enemies? She knew she’d be running for president again, and it’s not like the right hasn’t been hellbent on destroying her for, oh, the past quarter-century or so. It’s worth pointing out that President Obama has had the discipline and smarts to avoid that kind of self-destructive behavior. He and his administration never gave off the faintest whiff of scandal, which is why his enemies were never able to bring him down, try as they might. Seriously, what was Clinton’s excuse here?

Every one of those dangerous misjudgments was a self-inflicted wound that never stopped bleeding, and confirmed the well-founded perception that Clinton was entitled and out of touch. That Clinton never seemed to learn from her past was an ominous sign that her presidency would have been chockful of similar misadventures. After decades of Clinton drama, the public was weary, and no wonder.

3. Relatedly, when Hillary made these foolish decisions, why didn’t the people around her stop her? And that points to another reason why she lost: the mediocrity of her advisers and campaign staff. The Clintons, who seem to prize loyalty over competence, have a long and troubling history of surrounding themselves with extraordinarily unsavory people–sleazeballs and hacks like Mark Penn, Lanny Davis, and Dick Morris, to name just a few. This time around, there weren’t any members of Team Clinton who seemed quite that clownish, so I assumed the personnel decisions were wiser. From the outside, the campaign look professional and competent. But as we’ve been discovering, that perception belied the reality.

4. There is also abundant evidence that Clinton’s campaign royally screwed up its strategy and badly misallocated resources. Clinton won the popular vote by over 2 million votes yet lost key Rust Belt states by razor-thin margins. Clinton’s much-hyped, data-driven get-out-the-vote operation was a shocking failure. Working with outdated voter lists, it mistakenly targeted large numbers of Trump voters. In Michigan, state and local officials “were running at roughly one-tenth the paid canvasser capacity that Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) had when he ran for president in 2004.” In states like Ohio, Team Clinton’s efforts neglected traditional Democratic constituencies like African-Americans in favor of targeting far less favorable demographics like upscale Republican women. Clinton did not appear in Wisconsin, a state that she lost, after the primary in April, and neither did Barack or Michelle Obama. One Clinton official admitted that the campaign didn’t do more in some states where they knew were vulnerable because they were too busy playing mind games with Trump: they believed they “could keep Trump away—by acting overly confident about their chances.” Heckuva job, Team Clinton!

5. Theda Skocpol has cited another factor in Clinton’s loss: the Democrats’ lack of organizational infrastructure in non-urban areas. The GOP has a strong organizational base in these regions, including get-out-the-vote efforts run by the Christian right, the NRA, the Koch organizations, and the Republican Party itself. But the Dems have let their own party organizations wither on the vine, and the unions which were once the Democrats’ stronghold in the critical Rust Belt region have declined dramatically. When it comes to getting voters to the polls in rural areas, the Democrats are now at a tremendous structural disadvantage. To be sure, this a party-wide, rather than a Clinton-only, failure. But Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama bear strong responsibility here. Each them served for two terms but showed little interest in building the party.

6. Finally, perhaps most consequential of all was the campaign’s failure to advance a strong economic message. Team Clinton’s central strategy was not to mobilize the base, but to appeal to crossover voters. That irrepressible Clinton instinct to triangulate reared its ugly head one more time, and the result has been a world-historic catastrophe. Clinton’s ads and messaging stressed the Trump’s déclassé boorishness rather than a populist economic message that would have resonated with working class voters of all races. But the votes of Republican college-educated women they were chasing never materialized, while turnout and Clinton’s vote shares among African-Americans, Latinos, millennials, and working class whites were significantly down from Obama’s in 2012. In stroke of bitter poetic justice, the fruits of Clintons’ own long-ago policies came back to haunt them. NAFTA and other Clinton “free” trade deals devastated the Rust Belt and created the ravaged communities and the despair that compelled many working class voters in those areas pull the lever for the despicable Trump.

A post-election report by the pollster Stanley Greenberg confirms that Clinton’s decision to shun a progressive economic appeal was a fatal error. Greenberg found that “polls showed fairly resilient support with white working class women, until the Clinton campaign stopped talking about economic change.” When the Greenberg team tested a Democratic message attacking Trump for his character vs. a message “demanding big economic changes” and attacking Trump for “supporting for trickle-down and protecting corporate special interests,” they found that the economic message “performed dramatically better,” particularly among key voter groups like millennials, white unmarried women and white working class women.

(N.B.: see https://charlog.blog/2016/11/29/the-frame-is-the-name-of-the-game/)

The election is over, and with it, so it is the Clinton’s quarter-century long domination of Democratic politics. And so lately I’ve been thinking about the Clintons’ historical legacy. It’s not a pretty picture. The neoliberal economic policies of Bill Clinton, which Hillary strongly supported–free trade, deregulation, the obsession with deficit reduction–led to soaring levels of economic inequality, flat or declining wages for most Americans, and record low rates of labor participation. The Clinton crime bill ruined countless lives, especially black lives. Welfare “reform” immiserated poor families and led to a dramatic upswing in rates of extreme poverty. Under the watch of Presidents Clinton and Obama, the Democratic party at the state and local level was allowed to slowly die away. Today, the Democratic party as an institution is probably weaker than it’s ever been at any time in its long history. The Democrats now control none of the three branches of government and only 18 governorships and 13 state legislatures.  In the weeks leading up to the election, many political observers were confidently predicting an historic Trump defeat followed by a meltdown of the GOP. But–plot twist!–it’s the Democratic party that has collapsed into a smoking heap of rubble.

Team Clinton repeatedly reassured us that Hillary was the most highly qualified and most hyper-competent person evah! to run for president. They possessed the unshakeable conviction that they, the best and the brightest, could not possibly fail–so much so that on election day, her aides prematurely uncorked the celebratory champagne. So extreme was their recklessness that they actually wanted to run against Trump. Out of the outrageous hubris, complacency, and incompetence of Hillary’s presidential campaign came the Clintons’ horrifying parting gift to America: President Donald Trump. This is where the Clintons led us. Trump’s election, and the nightmare to which America is awakening, is on them. And it is unforgivable.

I suspect that history is not going to look kindly at Bill and Hillary Clinton. No, not very kindly at all.

Never has independent journalism mattered more. Help hold power to account: Subscribe to In These Times magazine, or make a tax-deductible donation to fund this reporting.

Kathleen Geier is a writer and researcher who has written for The Baffler, The Nation and The Washington Monthly.

See:http://inthesetimes.com/article/19674/hillary-clinton-democratic-party-neoliberal-trump

The Worst False Equivalencies of 2016

Attempts to find “balance” between Trumpism and wholly unrelated phenomena to its left were tone deaf.

Source: AlterNet

Author:Adam Johnson / FAIR

See: http://www.alternet.org/media/worst-false-equivalencies-2016?akid=14990.123424.cgKTTR&rd=1&src=newsletter1068658&t=4

Does Donald Trump own the “white working class”?

UMA 1989 from People's World

West Virginia miners on strike against Pittston Coal in 1989. | Scott Marshall / PW

Source: People’s World

Author: Roberta Wood

Emphasis Mine

Defeating the Trump agenda is going to require winning a section of working class voters who supported him – mostly white – undoubtedly influenced by racism. To get there, it’s going to take more than just rejecting that divisive influence; it’s going to take strengthening working class identity.

The election made me remember back to 1989. My husband Scott and I decided to make that year’s family vacation a trip to the mountains of West Virginia, to Camp Solidarity set up by 2,000 striking coal miners. Their employer, the Pittston Company, had eliminated health benefits for retirees and widows, blaming decreasing coal prices. The miners were occupying the mine’s tipple, its coal-loading platform. Camp Solidarity rallied supporters and donations from around the country and around the world. We wanted our kids to see for themselves what solidarity looked like.

As our old van made its way to the top of the mountain, I was struck by how different this work location was from the urban factories and mills Scott and I spent our work lives in. The giant Freeway Flyer buses with New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania license plates that kept passing us looked out of place on a switch-backed, two-lane road. At Camp Solidarity, we found a well-organized operation directing traffic and parking.

“Welcome folks,” said a tall, wiry, middle-aged miner. He leaned into the open driver’s side window and introduced himself as Jim. Taking note of our license plate, he went on, “I see you folks have come a long way, from Illinois. I used to live near there, near Burns Harbor in Indiana. Know it?”

Seeing a connection, I jumped in, “Did you work at Bethlehem Steel?”

“Yup, seven years!” Then why did you leave, we asked. “Well, I came back here when they began to move in, all these…” He paused; nearby hundreds of stiff-kneed travelers were tumbling out of the buses: AFSCME, SEIU, steelworkers, mostly African American. He looked at us; he knew we knew what he had been getting ready to say. “But,” he drew himself up and a little pride entered his voice, “I don’t feel that way anymore.”

picket line in 1989

On the picket line against Pittston Coal in West Virginia, 1989. | Scott Marshall / PW

I wondered about Jim after the Donald Trump election. Did he remember the experience of solidarity? Or was his vote motivated by fear and hate?

Why Trump?

We know that a majority of white voters – in all categories – voted for Trump. Men, women, young, old, and yes, working class. Who are these folks and why did they vote for a conniving billionaire?

Well, it’s undeniable that there is a consistent, hardcore right-wing racist movement with a deep historical base in our country. The liars. The bullies. These haters made up the core of the Trump supporters; they were the rally-goers.  But these hardcore supporters were only a fraction of the Trump voters.

So what about the others? The ones who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. The ones who really take to heart their Sunday school lessons, “Red and yellow, black and white, we are precious in His sight.” The ones who want their daughters to have full equality. The ones who will be warmly welcoming the LGBTQ members of their families at their tables this holiday. The ones who remember their own grandparents were themselves immigrants.

Racial isolation

Statistics show the white voters who supported Trump are concentrated in racially-isolated zip codes. They don’t have day-to-day contact with black people, with immigrants, with people from the Middle East.

They don’t listen to NPR either. Instead, they’re inundated with Fox News, hateful talk radio, and fake online news. “Black Lives Matter thugs attack homeless veteran in Charlotte” was the headline of one such fake “news” video that got over a million views. In it, an elderly white man is kicked by a group of black teens. The footage had nothing to do with BLM; it was years old, filmed in London. But to those who viewed it, those made vulnerable by a culture of racial stereotypes, this horrible image became a fact that influenced their choices.

These Trump voters live in areas where there is little social structure that supports progressive thinking. Churches, with a few heroic exceptions, by and large don’t play a positive role. Often the moral guidance from right-wing evangelical churches is limited to one issue when it comes to voting: abortion. When candidate Trump evoked the mental image of babies being ripped out of their mothers’ wombs, it resonated.

Unions don’t have much of a presence in these racially isolated areas. Nor do other social movements like the Fight for $15. People here – whether in factories or fast food restaurants or call centers – don’t work side-by-side with immigrants or people of other races. Yet the people there face the same anxieties all American families face. What kind of jobs are their kids going to get? The drug scourge. Their health, their retirement. They care about the climate too, and their kids’ education.

A tolerance for the intolerable

Millions made a bad, ill-informed choice in this election. We have to deal forthrightly with the fact that a significant percentage of our working class voted for Donald Trump despite his hateful rhetoric toward African Americans, Latinos, Muslims, and women. Trump got more votes than Romney did in 2012, roughly proportional to the increase in the overall number of voters. This is disturbing, given Trump’s much more extreme, direct, racist, anti-immigrant, and misogynist appeal. The increased vote for Trump is evidence of a troubling tolerance of what should be intolerable.

(N.B.: it has bee observed that education was a bigger factor than income, and in general those with college degrees are less like likely to be prejudice… see https://charlog.blog/2016/11/27/education-not-income-predicted-who-would-vote-for-trump/)

We are repelled by the failure to reject hate, but we can only reverse the Trump agenda by reaching out to these same voters in racially-isolated communities. There’s not four years or even two years to wait.

When the shit hits the fan with Social Security, Medicare, and VA privatization, lost health care, and declining standards of living, the same lying manipulators who worked the media for Trump in the 2016 election will attempt to direct folks’ anger toward the same scapegoats: African Americans, Muslims, and immigrants. They will use the same narrative to take the Trump agenda out of the line of fire. More on that in a bit.

Half a million missing votes

Trump won the electoral college vote in five Midwest (N.B.: these are actually Great Lakes states, which includes Western PA) battleground states – Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Iowa. A combined total of one million voters who had previously voted Democratic, for Pres. Obama, did not vote Democratic for Hillary Clinton. Half of them added their votes to the Trump total this time. But what about the other half? What did that half million do?

Countless Midwestern (Great Lakes) voters – it’s hard to say how many – who were Democratic voters in 2012 were knocked off the rolls by a methodical GOP suppression campaign in these battleground states.

Of the remainder, there were others too who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Trump but didn’t come out for Clinton either. Some of the former Democratic voters chose third party candidates – either Libertarian Gary Johnson or the Green Party’s Jill Stein. They chose not to vote for Clinton, but nevertheless these former Democratic votes cannot be counted as a vote for racism or xenophobia.

Some may have been driven away by the venom of the campaign and not voted at all. No exit polls are taken of people who don’t vote. It’s important not to exaggerate the Trump vote, especially among the working class.

“Backlash”?

And I find no evidence of a phenomenon cited by other commentators, that Trump’s appeal was primarily based on a backlash to a black president or an increasingly multi-cultural society.

Our challenge is to win the unity of the working class. How do we reach out to these people?

I think first, we have to know that ALL of us, like our coal miner friend Jim, are of two minds about many things. People like him believe in humanity, in being generous, in the brotherhood of man and woman, in peace, in neighborliness. (N.B.: biconceptuals, as Lakoff maintains).

Many embrace the beautiful image of the Statue of Liberty welcoming refugees from poverty and oppression. They are troubled by news reports and videos of unarmed black youth shot in the back by out-of-control police or vigilantes. But they are also influenced by the awful stereotypes they’re inundated with – Islamic terrorists, crime-ridden “inner cities,” dangerous immigrants.

Only working class consciousness – embracing one’s primary identity as a member of that 99 percent majority of Americans who own nothing but their ability to work – fully addresses this challenge. This means identifying with a working class that covers diversity from one end of the beautiful rainbow of humanity to the other.

This is the only foundation that can fundamentally challenge the influence of racism and other ideological influences that undermine working class unity. This kind of consciousness is the protective vaccine needed to resist the poisons of racism, misogyny, and xenophobia.

Lessons from what worked

The working class movement in the U.S. is not starting from scratch in taking on the duality in thinking on matters of class and race. In fact, alongside being the source of the sharpest racist ideology, our country also has a heritage of developing a fight against racism, one that includes winning white Americans, especially white workers, away from that poisonous and suicidal ideology. We also have a long history of fighting for the rights of immigrants and for women’s equality.

There are lessons from our people’s struggle, be it against the 19th century slavocracy or the 20th century Jim Crow, that held the key not only to equality, but to improving of condition of white workers:

  1.  Resist. Don’t sit back and wait to see what happens.
  1.  Defend all targets. Every hate crime and act that goes unchallenged strengthens the base for fascism. On the other hand, engaging folks in the democratic and humanistic struggles against this disunity changes the thinking of the people themselves. Just as a person who has walked a picket line is never the same, a person who has signed a petition, gone to a public hearing, or spoken out against injustice is changed.

Let’s look at the case of the nine African American youth who were being railroaded to a death on a fake rape charge in Scottsboro, Alabama in 1931. Our predecessors, up to their necks in building the CIO industrial unions of steel, auto, and packing house also spent the decade of the 1930s making the case to their co-workers that unionization could not succeed without unity – and their banners read: “Black and white unite and fight.” In the same demonstrations, white and black workers carried placards calling for freedom for the “Scottsboro boys.” For those white workers, fighting racism against the Scottsboro youth helped cement the unity of those workers.

  1.  We need to pay special attention to mass movements that can resonate in racially-isolated areas. For example, the Fight for $15. The majority of those who make less than $15 per hour are white workers. They are fast food workers, Walmart workers, nursing home and, yes, factory workers in towns, suburbs, and rural America. Planned Parenthood has a loyal following and is represented in every state and D.C. Public education is under assault everywhere. There is a basis for national unity there.
  1.  We have to take the initiative in the fights to defend Social Security and Medicare – and Obamacare – to the communities in these areas that are politically vulnerable.
  1. We can’t wait for elections. During elections, tactics demand that efforts be concentrated on getting votes where they are most plentiful, so little door-knocking is done in more challenging areas. Working America has done pioneering work in initiating year-round doorstep conversations.

This is not an easy fight, but look what’s at stake. It’s not enough to analyze and reject the racism, xenophobia, and misogyny of members of our class. Our job is to figure out how to turn it around. But there is no path to unity that doesn’t go through that process. We need all the Jims of the world on our side.

See:http://www.peoplesworld.org/article/does-donald-trump-own-the-white-working-class/

Trump’s 35 percent tariff wouldn’t keep jobs in the U.S. Here’s why.

Source: WashingPost.com

Author:Joshua Tucker

Emphasis Mine

In a series of tweets on Dec. 4, Donald Trump proposed punishing American companies that move production overseas with an import tariff of as much as 35 percent on the sale of goods back into the United States. The justification for these measures was to keep U.S. companies from moving overseas.

But is this argument justified? Would such a tariff — even if Trump could overcome expected Republican resistance — keep companies from leaving the United States? What other effects might it have?

With these questions in mind, I reached out to my colleague at the NYU School of Law, Professor Mitchell Kane, an expert in international tax law. What follows is a lightly edited version of our conversation.

Joshua Tucker (JT): Trump’s proposal seems like it would be an effective deterrent to moving production offshore. So why are people concerned with it?

Mitchell Kane (MK): Imprisoning CEOs who moved jobs offshore would also be an effective deterrent. Absent evidence of some corruption (as might be reached by the Foreign Corrupt Practice Act), we would reject such a proposal out of hand. So the question is not whether we can imagine laws that would have the effect of keeping production in the United States. The question is whether we are willing to accept the trade-offs.

JT: What are the trade-offs in this case? Isn’t an import tariff just a fair leveling of the playing field since countries like Mexico impose a VAT (value-added tax) rebate at the border?

MK: The problem is that there are two outcomes we like: more rather than fewer U.S. manufacturing jobs and lower rather than higher prices on manufactured goods that we consume here. We need to accept that so long as labor costs are higher in the United States than in other countries, these two objectives will have to be traded off one another.

If we write rules to channel companies into higher cost structures, this will ultimately show up in consumer prices. That’s true regardless of whether Mexico rebates its VAT upon export of goods. When companies move production offshore it lowers their cost structure. Those cost savings will be passed along to consumers back in the United States eventually.

Not immediately, of course, or there’d be no incentive to offshore. But eventually American consumers are the beneficiaries of reduced costs. One way of viewing an import tariff is as an instrument that takes cost savings away from consumers and transfers them to the government.

JT: That would explain why many Republicans are hostile to the proposal. But how would this actually transfer funds to the government? It seems like the whole point is to get companies not to move. So if they don’t move the government wouldn’t actually be collecting any revenue from the tariff, right?

MK: There are two possibilities.

Suppose the tariff is set at an amount that is lower than the labor cost savings from moving offshore. For example, say the tariff captures half of the cost savings. In that case it could still be profitable to move offshore. The cost savings that are collected through the tariff are in a sense taken off the table. They cannot be passed along to the consumer because from the company’s standpoint they are no longer savings. They are costs paid to the government.

The second possibility is that the tariff is set so high that it fully absorbs any potential savings from reduced labor costs. Then there’d be no reason to move. But it would also become increasingly difficult for U.S. companies to compete with foreign companies that could use lower cost inputs and sell into the United States.

To complicate matters, we may not know which possibility we are facing. The problem is a dynamic one. The amount of tariff a company can absorb and still see profit will decrease over time as cost savings are passed forward to consumers.

Also, Trump has talked about an import tariff at a single rate. This will affect different sectors differently based on labor intensity in the sector. 

JT: Isn’t the answer to the foreign competitors problem to impose a tariff on those companies as well?

MK: That did not seem to be the original Trump proposal captured in the tweet sequence above, but it has been suggested by a number of Republicans, including Newt Gingrich. Once the tariff is extended to apply to foreign firms, however, this would almost certainly lead to countervailing measures such as trade penalties imposed on U.S. exporters.

JT: It sounds like a preferable option might be to reform the corporate tax system as suggested by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy in his response to the Trump tariff proposal when he said he did not believe in starting a trade war. Would that prevent companies from leaving the U.S.?

MK: McCarthy clearly favors the “Better Way” tax reform blueprint put forward by House Republicans over the Trump tariff idea. Among other things, the House Republicans want to lower the U.S. corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent and adopt a “destination basis” principle that would tax imports but exempt exports in the spirit of a border-adjusted VAT.

There are many problems with our international tax system, which is sorely in need of reform. A reduction in the explicit statutory rate is almost certainly a good idea compared to the current system in which companies often plan aggressively to reduce their effective rates in any event.

But the idea that the proposals advanced by House Republicans would preserve U.S. jobs makes no sense. Their basic premise is that at least for goods sold into the United States, companies should be taxed the same whether they have domestic or foreign production.

The problem, of course, is that the underlying economics favor foreign production. If the tax system is neutral, companies will move the jobs overseas. Even worse, for products destined for foreign consumers the proposals under the Better Way blueprint will actually favor foreign production by exempting profits from U.S. tax altogether.

Joshua Tucker is a Professor of Politics at New York University. He specializes in voting, partisanship, public opinion, and protest, as well as the relationship of social media usage to all of these forms of behavior, with a focus on Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

 

 

See:https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/12/08/trumps-35-percent-tariff-wouldnt-keep-jobs-in-the-u-s-heres-why/?utm_term=.ec2629e19d41&wpisrc=nl_politics&wpmm=1

Thank you, Trump voters, for this wonderful joke

we sit and watch in disbelief as the victor drops one piece of china after another, spits in the soup, sticks his fist through a painting and gobbles up the chocolates.

Source:washpost

Author:

Emphasis Mine

Garrison Keillor is an author and radio personality.

He promised the swamp would be drained,

Was elected, said “Rain!” and it rained

And the old crocodiles

Wore flesh-eating smiles

And the turtles were well entertained.

It’s a wonderful satire right out of Twain or Thurber. A minority of the electorate goes for the loosest and least knowledgeable candidate, certain that he will lose and their votes will be only harmless protest, a middle finger to Washington, and then — whoa. The joke comes true. You put a whoopee cushion on your father’s chair and he sits down and it barks and he has a massive coronary. You wanted to get a rise out of him and instead he falls down dead. Very funny.

Thank you, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania for this wonderful joke. Voters in high dudgeon against Wall Street manipulators and the Washington aristocracy vote for the billionaire populist who puts tycoons in power and the Republican hierarchy who owned the logjam that the voters voted against. If Billy the Kid had been smart, he’d’ve run for sheriff.

And now we sit and watch in disbelief as the victor drops one piece of china after another, spits in the soup, sticks his fist through a painting and gobbles up the chocolates. Not satisfied with the usual election night victory speech, he stages a post-election victory tour and gloatfest, a series of rallies in arenas where he can waggle his thumbs and smirk and holler and point out the journalists in their pen for the mob to boo and shake their fists at. He puts the Secret Service through their paces, highways are closed, planes diverted, cities disrupted, just so the man can say how much fun it was to defeat Hillary Clinton and confound the experts. I stood in an airport last Thursday and watched live cable news coverage of his first stop in Indiana where he toured a factory whose owner had been promised a $7 million tax break in return for not laying off 800 workers. In November, 178,000 jobs were created and unemployment fell, and here was a platoon of journalists in Indiana trailing a big galoot with a red tie who offered a corporation $7 million not to lose 800 workers. No gain, simply a non-loss. It was a classic TV moment, extensive live coverage of essentially nothing whatsoever and we all stood in a stupor and watched, like people mesmerized by drops of rain sliding down a windowpane.

Eighty thousand Trump voters in three states gave us this man, which goes to show you how much damage a few people can do. It takes 12 million to provide health care, 3 million to run the public schools, but 19 men with box cutters can turn the country upside down and empower the paranoid right and create the pretense for wars that will cost billions and kill a million people and give us a permanent army of blue uniforms yelling at us to take off our shoes and put our laptops into plastic trays.

He is a showman, and oddity has paid off for him, as it did for Lady Gaga and Gorgeous George and Liberace. But the public demands new tricks. Today, railing at the journalists who slavishly cover him is, like bear-baiting or lion-taming, entertainment enough, but by next fall he will need to pull canaries out of his ears, and by 2018 he’ll be diving on horseback from a high tower into a pool of water while playing “Malagueña” on a trumpet. Meanwhile, the Democrats wander in the woods, walking into trees. A wealthy San Francisco liberal is reelected as minority leader in the House, having flung millions into the wind and gotten skunked in 2014 and drubbed this fall, and a lackluster black Muslim congressman from Minneapolis is a leading candidate for chair of the Democratic National Committee, the person who will need to connect with disaffected workers in Youngstown and Pittsburgh. Why not a ballet dancer or a Buddhist monk?

Meanwhile, the emperor-elect parades in the nude while his congressional courtiers admire him and the nation drifts toward the rapids. The one bright spot is the old draft-dodger’s newfound fondness for generals, including the one who talked him out of the idea of torturing prisoners of war. Military experience does encourage a certain respect for reality. There is hope that if the showman should decide late one night to incinerate Iran or North Korea and get it over with, someone might say, “Hold on. Let’s think this through.”

See:https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/thank-you-trump-voters-for-this-wonderful-joke/2016/12/06/235877ae-bbe2-11e6-91ee-1adddfe36cbe_story.html?utm_term=.7cf4a9f50e88&wpisrc=nl_opinions&wpmm=1

Moyers ; Winship: The Speech Hillary Should Give Before Trump Takes Office

America needs a watchdog, and Hillary needs to make the sales pitch.

Source: AlterNet

Authors: Moyers/Winship: BillMoyers.com

emphasis mine

Imagine that a day or two before Donald Trump’s inauguration, Hillary Clinton, as the candidate who received the greatest number of votes — and after a period of personal reflection and evaluation — addresses the nation.

My Fellow Americans:

On Friday, January 20th, Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States. As mandated by our Constitution, he received a majority of the votes in the Electoral College and thus for the next four years will be given the powers and responsibilities of our nation’s chief executive.

But I believe that I, too, have a mandate, one given to me by the 65 million of you who supported me over Donald Trump in the popular vote, some 2.6 million votes more than he received.

If we are to continue as a democracy, for the next four years and beyond, those voices cannot stay silent.

I urge every one of you who voted for me to help express that mandate and make sure our voices are heard. As each of them comes up for re-election, we will field candidates to run against Donald Trump and his friends in Congress and the statehouses, and we will run against them hard. But until then, let us prepare by joining together as a movement and creating the constituency of what will be, in effect, a shadow government — one that will serve to track and respond to every single bad action undertaken by the Trump administration and its monolithic Congress.

This shadow government will forthrightly express its opposition to such actions and not only call them out as the damaging policy they are, but also offer constructive alternatives that we believe will serve and advance the proper agenda for our nation. No proposal or executive action will go unanswered. We’ll even voice support if it’s warranted — but I fear so far there is little evidence that will be the case.

Historically, this follows the British tradition of a shadow government created by the party in opposition that monitors the ruling party and creates greater transparency, encouraging an honest dialogue based on facts and a thorough knowledge of history and policy. Our shadow government will reflect the experience and knowledge of a core group of men and women who understand how policy is made in Washington, but it will also call on the wisdom and experience of elected mayors, state legislators, public servants, activists and organizers who know the needs of our municipalities, counties and states across the country.

I propose that for every Cabinet officer named by Donald Trump and confirmed by the United States Senate, we in the opposition will have a shadow cabinet member who will monitor the work of that department and comment as needed.

Consider one example: President-elect Trump has named Tom Price, a US Representative from Georgia, to be secretary of health and human services. He wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which now offers health coverage to more than 20 million Americans who have never had it before. Whomever we select as our shadow secretary of health and human services will speak out against repeal — but should Secretary Price recognize reality once he is confirmed and offer changes or alternatives that make sense and do the most good for the people, the shadow secretary will voice support.

What’s more, our opposition will be vocal against any attempt to privatize Medicare, which some leaders of Donald Trump’s party have announced as a major and immediate goal. As a general principle, the shadow secretary would urge that the United States move closer to a single-payer system, a Medicare-for-all health care like those in so many other countries that would be more equitable, save lives and create a healthier, more prosperous society. Does this run contradictory to what I supported during my campaign? Yes, it does. I was on the wrong side of the issue. Most of us are familiar with St. Augustine’s observation that it is human to err; few are aware that he went on to say: “It is devilish to remain willfully in error.”

Our shadow secretary of state and secretary of defense will support America’s interests abroad, remain true to our long-term relationships with NATO members and other allies, and constantly work toward peace. While protecting ourselves from terror, we will continue to be a nation of immigrants that welcomes those who come to us in genuine pursuit of liberty and a fresh start.

Nor will the dog whistles of hatred and prejudice that haunted the campaign and the weeks after go unchallenged. Our shadow department of justice will continue the fight for civil rights and voting rights that the incoming administration threatens to suspend. We will not let discrimination destroy our country.

We will have a shadow secretary of the treasury, a shadow secretary of health and human services, secretary of education and secretary of veterans’ affairs. Each and every Cabinet-level post will have its equivalent, as will the heads of many of the top regulatory agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Communications Commission.

A shadow version of the Securities and Exchange Commission will speak out against attempts to return Wall Street to the reckless days of speculation and behavior that led up to the terrible financial crash of 2007-08 and the recession that followed. President Obama inherited both and worked hard to lead the recovery. Thanks to the policies of the last several years, President-elect Trump will inherit a thriving economy very different from the one the Republicans left behind in 2004 — and very different from the one he described during his presidential campaign. But I have said to my own friends on Wall Street, whom I came to know as constituents and donors when I served two terms in the Senate, that I now firmly believe that “business as usual” will no longer do. A United States of Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase is untenable if prosperity is to reach Main Street instead of hitting a dead end on Wall Street.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal is DOA. As candidates, Donald Trump and I agreed on that. Our shadow US trade representative will favor international agreements that continue the flow of goods and services among nations but preserve jobs while generating new ones and protecting our interests. Further, we will monitor transactions like the recent Trump-Pence deal with Carrier, which keeps several hundred jobs in Indiana while still losing hundreds of others to Mexico in exchange for the kind of tax breaks that Donald Trump denounced during his campaign. We’ll tell the truth behind the propaganda and the optics, and work instead toward a healthy, thriving atmosphere for economic growth.

A shadow Federal Communications Commission will oppose media consolidation and resist attempts by a Trump-era FCC to overturn the net neutrality rulings that protect a free and open internet. And a shadow Environmental Protection Agency will make sure that any attempts to pollute clean air and water, to pay off industry with deregulation, will be unable to hide in the shadows away from the public eye.

You get the idea. In doing all of this, we hope to bolster the system of checks and balances essential to our republic — a system that already is being battered by an onslaught of irrational, authoritarian impulses. In the face of the fake news epidemic that infects social media, we’ll make freely available to the press and the public facts and data essential to the functioning of a representative government in which all viewpoints are fairly heard.

We will call out the continuing scourge of money in politics.  Every one of us in politics knows that even as we seek the votes of everyday Americans during our campaigns, once elected it is the big donors who get our ear. I am especially disturbed that President-elect Trump has named as his White House counsel Donald McGahn, a man who has eviscerated campaign finance reform in our nation. We also note that many of his Cabinet choices, including Secretary of the Treasury-designate Steve Mnuchin and Secretary of Education-designate Betsy DeVos have donated or bundled millions for Donald Trump and the Republican PartyAs the Center for Responsive Politics has noted, Ms. De Vos and her family have  given “at least $20.2 million to Republican candidates, party committees, PACs and super PACs” — some of it to senators, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who will vote on her confirmation.

Our shadow government will support the reversal of Citizens United and other court decisions that have flooded politics with rich people’s money. During the recent campaign, I called over and again for reversing Citizens United, and I realize now that my own fundraising among the wealthy compromised my position. Again, I was on the wrong side. Sen. Bernie Sanders was on the right side. He showed all of us that you can mount an effective national campaign with small donations from millions of American citizens. That’s the way we must go. Our shadow government will be dedicated to ending the buying of America by the superrich.

The Washington swamp that Donald Trump has pledged to empty obviously will not be “drained,” given his myriad conflicts of interest, the “kitchen cabinet” of corporate CEOs he has chosen to advise him, and his support of the same old revolving door between corporate America and government. Our shadow government will call out those who spin through that door — including members of Congress from both parties, who pass through it at dizzying speeds to join lobby and legal firms that use their influence to line their pockets and swell the profits of the corporations that hire them.

It’s time to end the crony capitalism that backslaps and pays off its pals as it kicks the working class to the curb. No more bribes in the form of tax cuts for big business. No more backdoor deals — or threats — that briefly generate jobs or only temporarily keep them in America.

Again, I know that some of you are saying that Hillary Clinton has been guilty of many of these things, too. And again I say, to a great degree, yes, it’s true. You know the words of the great American poet Walt Whitman: “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself.” But I want to go deeper than that, and say that when you lose a campaign for the presidency, despite receiving millions more votes than your opponent, you ask yourself: “Where did I go wrong? How was I tone deaf? Why couldn’t I reach the people who doubted me and convince them I was on their side?” I see clearly now that I simply didn’t understand or appreciate the full extent of people’s frustration with how lopsided our political system is in favor of privilege, or how the inequality in our economy has devastated their own lives and their children’s futures. It is the greatest mistake of my political career.

I’d like to think I have learned from this last campaign how and why my party and our nation have gone wrong. It’s the painful lesson of my long career in public service, and I now take to heart the words of historian Mark Mazower, who has said: “The political class has a very impoverished historical memory and as a result it has a very limited imagination. It is by and large made up of people who do not see themselves in politics in order to effect sweeping change and so they tend to operate very incrementally and very technocratically. They’re very suspicious of vision and as a result what fills their brains is party calculation – which of course always occupies politicians but in the past coexisted with bigger things.”

This must end. Our shadow government will be devoted to the vision of bigger things and a better America for all. All of you will be able check our progress. And we will regularly hold hearings around the country to listen to what you have to say, especially in the regions where so much economic hardship and personal loss have resulted in millions of voters sending up a cry for change, no matter the messenger.

In the immediate days to come, we will hammer out the details on how best to choose and organize this watchdog government. I hope you will join with me and offer your thoughts as we identify those who carefully will watch the Donald Trump presidency and report to you his missteps, excesses — and when called for, his successes.

Our eyes are upon you, Donald Trump. As we work to protect and better our country, you will hear from us, loud and clear. We will not be complacent and we will not allow the trampling of our republic to go unchallenged.

Thank you. May God bless — and save — America.

(N.B.: no supernatural powers are in play: we must save ourselves!)

Bill Moyers is the managing editor of Moyers & Company and BillMoyers.com.

Michael Winship is the president of the Writers Guild of America, East and senior writer of BillMoyers.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MichaelWinship.

see:http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/hillary-clinton-inaugural-address?akid=14969.123424.EW___0&rd=1&src=newsletter1068417&t=4

An Insider’s View: The Dark Rigidity of Fundamentalist Rural America

In deep-red white America, the white Christian God is king.

Source:AlterNet

Author:Forsetti’s Justice / AlterNet

Emphasis Mine

(N.B.: at the end of the day, belief in a White Christian God is the problem…)

As the aftermath of the election of Donald Trump is being sorted out, a common theme keeps cropping up from all sides: “Democrats failed to understand white, working-class, fly-over America.”

Trump supporters are saying this. Progressive pundits are saying this. Talking heads across all forms of the media are saying this. Even some Democratic leaders are saying this. It doesn’t matter how many people say it, it is complete bullshit. It is an intellectual/linguistic sleight of hand meant to throw attention away from the real problem. The real problem isn’t east coast elites who don’t understand or care about rural America. The real problem is rural America doesn’t understand the causes of their own situations and fears and they have shown no interest in finding out. They don’t want to know why they feel the way they do or why they are struggling because they don’t want to admit it is in large part because of choices they’ve made and horrible things they’ve allowed themselves to believe.

I grew up in rural, Christian, white America. You’d be hard-pressed to find an area in the country that has a higher percentage of Christians or whites. I spent most of the first 24 years of my life deeply embedded in this culture. I religiously (pun intended) attended their Christian services. I worked off and on, on their rural farms. I dated their calico skirted daughters. I camped, hunted, and fished with their sons. I listened to their political rants at the local diner and truck stop. I winced at their racist/bigoted jokes and epithets that were said more out of ignorance than animosity. I have also watched the town I grew up in go from a robust economy with well-kept homes and infrastructure turn into a struggling economy with shuttered businesses, dilapidated homes, and a broken down infrastructure over the past 30 years. The problem isn’t that I don’t understand these people. The problem is they don’t understand themselves, the reasons for their anger/frustrations, and don’t seem to care to know why.

In deep-red white America, the white Christian God is king, figuratively and literally. Religious fundamentalism is what has shaped most of their belief systems. Systems built on a fundamentalist framework are not conducive to introspection, questioning, learning, change. When you have a belief system that is built on fundamentalism, it isn’t open to outside criticism, especially by anyone not a member of your tribe and in a position of power. The problem isn’t “coastal elites don’t understand rural Americans.” The problem is rural America doesn’t understand itself and will NEVER listen to anyone outside their bubble. It doesn’t matter how “understanding” you are, how well you listen, what language you use…if you are viewed as an outsider, your views are automatically discounted. I’ve had hundreds of discussions with rural white Americans and whenever I present them any information that contradicts their entrenched beliefs, no matter how sound, how unquestionable, how obvious, they WILL NOT even entertain the possibility it might be true. Their refusal is a result of the nature of their fundamentalist belief system and the fact I’m the enemy because I’m an educated liberal.

At some point during the discussion, “That’s your education talking,” will be said, derogatorily, as a general dismissal of everything I said. They truly believe this is a legitimate response because to them education is not to be trusted. Education is the enemy of fundamentalism because fundamentalism, by its very nature, is not built on facts. The fundamentalists I grew up around aren’t anti-education. They want their kids to know how to read and write. They are anti-quality, in-depth, broad, specialized education. Learning is only valued up to the certain point. Once it reaches the level where what you learn contradicts doctrine and fundamentalist arguments, it becomes dangerous. I watched a lot of my fellow students who were smart, stop their education the day they graduated high school. For most of the young ladies, getting married and having kids was more important than continuing their learning. For many of the young men, getting a college education was seen as unnecessary and a waste of time. For the few who did go to college, what they learned was still filtered through their fundamentalist belief system. If something they were taught didn’t support a preconception, it would be ignored and forgotten the second it was no longer needed to pass an exam.

Knowing this about their belief system and their view of outside information that doesn’t support it, telling me that the problem is coastal elites not understanding them completely misses the point.

Another problem with rural, Christian, white Americans is they are racists. I’m not talking about white hood-wearing, cross-burning, lynching racists (though some are). I’m talking about people who deep down in their heart of hearts truly believe they are superior because they are white. Their white God made them in his image and everyone else is a less-than-perfect version, flawed and cursed.

The religion in which I was raised taught this. Even though they’ve backtracked on some of their more racist declarations, many still believe the original claims. Non-whites are the color they are because of their sins, or at least the sins of their ancestors. Blacks don’t have dark skin because of where they lived and evolution; they have dark skin because they are cursed. God cursed them for a reason. If God cursed them, treating them as equals would be going against God’s will. It is really easy to justify treating people differently if they are cursed by God and will never be as good as you no matter what they do because of some predetermined status.

Once you have this view, it is easy to lower the outside group’s standing and acceptable level of treatment. Again, there are varying levels of racism at play in rural, Christian, white America. I know people who are ardent racists. I know a lot more whose racism is much more subtle but nonetheless racist. It wouldn’t take sodium pentothal to get most of these people to admit they believe they are fundamentally better and superior to minorities. They are white supremacists who dress up in white dress shirts, ties, and gingham dresses. They carry a Bible and tell you, “everyone’s a child of God” but forget to mention that some of God’s children are more favored than others and skin tone is the criterion by which we know who is and who isn’t at the top of God’s list of most favored children.

For us “coastal elites” who understand evolution, genetics, science…nothing we say to those in fly-over country is going to be listened to because not only are we fighting against an anti-education belief system, we are arguing against God. You aren’t winning a battle of beliefs with these people if you are on one side of the argument and God is on the other. No degree of understanding this is going to suddenly make them less racist, more open to reason and facts. Telling “urban elites” they need to understand rural Americans isn’t going to lead to a damn thing because it misses the causes of the problem.

Because rural, Christian, white Americans will not listen to educated arguments, supported by facts that go against their fundamentalist belief systems from “outsiders,” any change must come from within. Internal change in these systems does happen, but it happens infrequently and it always lags far behind reality. This is why they fear change so much. They aren’t used to it. Of course, it really doesn’t matter whether they like it or not, it, like the evolution and climate change even though they don’t believe it, it is going to happen whether they believe in it or not.

Another major problem with closed-off, fundamentalist belief systems is they are very susceptible to propaganda. All belief systems are to some extent, but fundamentalist systems even more so because there are no checks and balances. If bad information gets in, it doesn’t get out and because there are no internal mechanisms to guard against it, it usually ends up very damaging to the whole. A closed-off belief system is like your spinal fluid—it is great as long as nothing infectious gets into it. If bacteria gets into your spinal fluid, it causes unbelievable damage because there are no white blood cells in it whose job is to fend off invaders and protect the system. This is why things like meningitis are so horrible. Without the protective services of white blood cells in the spinal column, meningitis spreads like wildfire once it’s in and does significant damage in a very short period of time. Once inside the closed-off spinal system, bacteria are free to destroy whatever they want.

The very same is true with closed-off belief systems. Without built-in protective functions like critical analysis, self-reflection, openness to counter-evidence, willingness to re-evaluate any and all beliefs, etc., bad information in a closed-off system ends up doing massive damage in short period of time. What has happened to too many fundamentalist belief systems is damaging information has been allowed in from people who have been granted “expert status.” If someone is allowed into a closed-off system and their information is deemed acceptable, anything they say will readily be accepted and become gospel.

Rural, Christian, white Americans have let in anti-intellectual, anti-science, bigoted, racists into their system as experts like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, any of the blonde Stepford Wives on Fox, every evangelical preacher on television because they tell them what they want to hear and because they sell themselves as being “one of them.” The truth is none of these people give a rat’s ass about rural, Christian, white Americans except how can they exploit them for attention and money. None of them have anything in common with the people who have let them into their belief systems with the exception they are white and they “speak the same language” of white superiority, God’s will must be obeyed, and how, even though they are the Chosen Ones, they are the ones being screwed by all the people and groups they believe they are superior to.

Gays being allowed to marry are a threat. Blacks protesting the killing of their unarmed friends and family are a threat. Hispanics doing the cheap labor on their farms are somehow viewed a threat. The black president is a threat. Two billion Muslims are a threat. The Chinese are a threat. Women wanting to be autonomous are a threat. The college educated are a threat. Godless scientists are a threat. Everyone who isn’t just like them has been sold to them as a threat and they’ve bought it hook, line, and grifting sinker. Since there are no self-regulating mechanisms in their belief systems, these threats only grow over time. Since facts and reality don’t matter, nothing you say to them will alter their beliefs. “President Obama was born in Kenya, is a secret member of the Muslim Brotherhood who hates white Americans and is going to take away their guns.” I feel ridiculous even writing this, it is so absurd, but it is gospel across large swaths of rural America. Are rural, Christian, white Americans scared? You’re damn right they are. Are their fears rational and justified? Hell no. The problem isn’t understanding their fears. The problem is how to assuage fears based on lies in closed-off fundamentalist belief systems that don’t have the necessary tools for properly evaluating the fears.

I don’t have a good answer to this question. When a child has an irrational fear, you can deal with it because they trust you and are open to possibilities. When someone doesn’t trust you and isn’t open to anything not already accepted as true in their belief system, there really isn’t much, if anything you can do. This is why I think the whole, “Democrats have to understand and find common ground with rural America,” is misguided and a complete waste of time. When a 3,000-year-old book that was written by uneducated, pre-scientific people, subject to translation innumerable times, edited with political and economic pressures from popes and kings, is given higher intellectual authority than facts arrived at from a rigorous, self-critical, constantly re-evaluating system that can and does correct mistakes, no amount of understanding, no amount of respect, no amount of evidence is going to change their minds, assuage their fears.

Do you know what does change the beliefs of fundamentalists, sometimes? When something becomes personal. Many a fundamentalist has changed his mind about the LGBT community once his loved ones started coming out of the closet. Many have not. But those who did, did so because their personal experience came in direct conflict with what they believe. My own father is a good example of this. For years I had long, sometimes heated discussions with him about gay rights. Being the good religious fundamentalist he is, he could not even entertain the possibility he was wrong. The Church said it was wrong, so therefore it was wrong. No questions asked. No analysis needed. This changed when one of his adored stepchildren came out of the closet. He didn’t do a complete 180. He has a view that tries to accept gay rights while at the same time viewing being gay as a mortal sin because his need to have his belief system be right outweighs everything else.

This isn’t uncommon. Deeply held beliefs are usually only altered, replaced under catastrophic circumstances that are personal. This belief system alteration works both ways. I know die-hard, open-minded progressives who became ardent fundamentalists due to a traumatic event in their lives.

A really good example of this is the comedian Dennis Miller. I’ve seen Miller in concert four different times during the 1990s. His humor was complex, riddled with references, and leaned pretty left on almost all issues. Then 9/11 happened. For whatever reasons, the trauma of 9/11 caused a seismic shift in Miller’s belief system. Now he is a mainstay on conservative talk radio. His humor was replaced with anger and frustration. 9/11 changed his belief system because it was a catastrophic event that was personal to him.

The catastrophe of the Great Depression along with the progressive remedies by FDR helped create a generation of Democrats from previously die-hard Republicans. People who had, up until that point, deeply believed the government couldn’t help the economy only the free market could change their minds when the brutal reality of the Great Depression affected them directly, personally.

I thought the financial crisis in 2008 would have a similar, though lesser, impact on many Republicans. It didn’t. The systems that were put in place after the Great Recession to deal with economic crises, the quick, smart response by Congress and the administration helped make what could have been a catastrophic event into merely a really bad one. People suffered, but they didn’t suffer enough to where they were open to questioning their deeply held beliefs. Because this questioning didn’t take place, the Great Recession didn’t lead to any meaningful political shift away from poorly regulated markets, supply side economics, or how to respond to a financial crisis. This is why, even though rural Christian white Americans were hit hard by the Great Recession, they not only didn’t blame the political party they’ve aligned themselves with for years, they rewarded them two years later by voting them into a record number of state legislatures and taking over the U.S. House.

Of course, it didn’t help matters there were scapegoats available they could direct their fears, anger, and white supremacy towards. A significant number of rural Americans believe President Obama was in charge when the financial crisis started. An even higher number believe the mortgage crisis was the result of the government forcing banks to give loans to unqualified minorities. It doesn’t matter how untrue both of these are, they are gospel in rural America. Why reevaluate your beliefs and voting patterns when scapegoats are available?

How do you make climate change personal to someone who believes only God can alter the weather? How do you make racial equality personal to someone who believes whites are naturally superior to non-whites? How do you make gender equality personal to someone who believes women are supposed to be subservient to men by God’s command? How do you get someone to view minorities as not threatening personal to people who don’t live around and never interact with them? How do you make personal the fact massive tax cuts and cutting back government hurts their economic situation when they’ve voted for these for decades? I don’t think you can without some catastrophic events. And maybe not even then. The Civil War was pretty damn catastrophic yet a large swath of the South believed and still believes they were right, had the moral high ground. They were/are also mostly Christian fundamentalists who believe they are superior because of the color of their skin and the religion they profess to follow. There is a pattern here for anyone willing to connect the dots.

“Rural, white America needs to be better understood,” is not one of the dots. “Rural, white America needs to be better understood,” is a dodge, meant to avoid the real problems because talking about the real problems is viewed as “too upsetting,” “too mean,” “too arrogant,” “too elite,” “too snobbish.” Pointing out Aunt Bee’s views of Mexicans, blacks, gays…is bigoted isn’t the thing one does in polite society. Too bad more people don’t think the same about the views Aunt Bee has. It’s the classic, “You’re a racist for calling me a racist,” ploy. Or, as it is more commonly known, “I know you are but what am I?”

I do think rational arguments are needed, even if they go mostly ignored and ridiculed. I believe in treating people with the respect they’ve earned but the key point here is “earned.” I’ll gladly sit down with Aunt Bee and have a nice, polite conversation about her beliefs about “the gays,” “the blacks,” “illegals,”…and do so without calling her a bigot or a racist. But, this doesn’t mean she isn’t a bigot and a racist and if I’m asked to describe her beliefs these are the only words that honestly fit. No one with cancer wants to be told they have cancer, but just because no one uses the word, “cancer,” it doesn’t mean they don’t have it. Just because the media, pundits on all sides, some Democratic leaders don’t want to call the actions of many rural, Christian, white Americans, “racist/bigoted” doesn’t make them not so.

Avoiding the obvious only prolongs getting the necessary treatment. America has always had a race problem. It was built on racism and bigotry. This didn’t miraculously go away in 1964 with the passage of the Civil Rights Act. It didn’t go away with the election of Barack Obama. If anything, these events pulled back the curtain exposing the dark, racist underbelly of America that white America likes to pretend doesn’t exist because we are the reason it exists. From the white nationalists to the white, suburban soccer moms who voted for Donald Trump, to the far left progressives who didn’t vote at all, racism exists and has once again been legitimized and normalized by white America.

The honest truths that rural, Christian, white Americans don’t want to accept and until they do nothing is going to change, are:

-Their economic situation is largely the result of voting for supply-side economic policies that have been the largest redistribution of wealth from the bottom/middle to the top in U.S. history.

Immigrants haven’t taken their jobs. If all immigrants, legal or otherwise, were removed from the U.S., our economy would come to a screeching halt and prices on food would soar.

Immigrants are not responsible for companies moving their plants overseas. Almost exclusively white business owners are the ones responsible because they care more about their share holders who are also mostly white than they do American workers.

No one is coming for their guns. All that has been proposed during the entire Obama administration is having better background checks.

Gay people getting married is not a threat to their freedom to believe in whatever white God you want to. No one is going to make their church marry gays, make gays your pastor, accept gays for membership.

Women having access to birth control doesn’t affect their life either, especially women who they complain about being teenage, single mothers.

-Blacks are not “lazy moochers living off their hard earned tax dollars” anymore than many of your fellow rural neighbors. People in need are people in need. People who can’t find jobs because of their circumstances, a changing economy, outsourcing overseas, etc. belong to all races.

They get a tremendous amount of help from the government they complain does nothing for them. From the roads and utility grids they use to the farm subsidies, crop insurance, commodities protections…they benefit greatly from government assistance. The Farm Bill is one of the largest financial expenditures by the U.S. government. Without government assistance, their lives would be considerably worse.

-They get the largest share of Food Stamps, Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.

-They complain about globalization but line up like everyone else to get the latest Apple product. They have no problem buying foreign-made guns, scopes, and hunting equipment. They don’t think twice about driving trucks whose engine was made in Canada, tires made in Japan, radio made in Korea, computer parts made in Malaysia.

-They use illicit drugs as much as any other group. But, when other people do it is a “moral failing” and they should be severely punished, legally. When they do it, it is a “health crisis” that needs sympathy and attention.

-When jobs dry up for whatever reasons, they refuse to relocate but lecture the poor in places like Flint for staying in towns that are failing.

-They are quick to judge minorities for being “welfare moochers” but don’t think twice about cashing their welfare check every month.

-They complain about coastal liberals, but the taxes from California and New York are what covers their farm subsidies, helps maintain their highways, and keeps their hospitals in their sparsely populated areas open for business.

-They complain about “the little man being run out of business” then turn around and shop at big box stores.

-They make sure outsiders are not welcome, deny businesses permits to build, then complain about businesses, plants opening up in less rural areas.

Government has not done enough to help them in many cases but their local and state governments are almost completely Republican and so too are their representatives and senators. Instead of holding them accountable, they vote them in over and over and over again.

All the economic policies and ideas that could help rural America belong to the Democratic Party: raising the minimum wage, strengthening unions, infrastructure spending, reusable energy growth, slowing down the damage done by climate change, healthcare reform…all of these and more would really help a lot of rural Americans.

What I understand is that rural, Christian, white Americans are entrenched in fundamentalist belief systems; don’t trust people outside their tribe; have been force-fed a diet of misinformation and lies for decades; are unwilling to understand their own situations; and truly believe whites are superior to all races. No amount of understanding is going to change these things or what they believe. No amount of niceties will get them to be introspective. No economic policy put forth by someone outside their tribe is going to be listened to no matter how beneficial it would be for them. I understand rural, Christian, white America all too well. I understand their fears are based on myths and lies. I understand they feel left behind by a world they don’t understand and don’t really care to. They are willing to vote against their own interest if they can be convinced it will make sure minorities are harmed more. Their Christian beliefs and morals are truly only extended to fellow white Christians. They are the problem with progress and always will be, because their belief systems are constructed against it.

The problem isn’t a lack of understanding by coastal elites. The problem is a lack of understanding of why rural, Christian, white America believes, votes, behaves the ways it does by rural, Christian, white America.

See:http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/rural-america-understanding-isnt-problem?akid=14946.123424.kspCKT&rd=1&src=newsletter1068152&t=2

The frame is the name of the game

Why is the Republican candidate leading in the electoral college vote?  Because he won four states in the Great Lakes region: Pennsylvania; Ohio;  Michigan; and Wisconsin, all of which voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012.  How did DJT win those states?  By better framing his messages.  In a previous post – https://charlog.blog/2016/11/27/education-not-income-predicted-who-would-vote-for-trump/ – it was shown that voters without college degrees – regardless of income levels – supported Trump more than they had supported Romney – and that voters with college degrees – regardless of income levels – supported HRC more than they had supported Obama.  Why?

Trump’s messaging was clear, concise, and well framed (if disingenuous) : you have lost your good paying jobs to undocumented immigrants, people of color, women, and foreigners ( appealing to lower income voters); and your security is threatened by people of color and immigrants (appealing to those with higher incomes).  ” I will take charge and fix these issues”, he said.   While education level and knowledge don’t always correspond, they did here, in the majority: his appeal was effectively anti-elite.  That his frames were racist, misogynist,  and xenophobic makes them despicable, but not ineffective.

I am not clear what Clinton’s message was, except that she was Not DJT, and while she appealed to elites, she did not even get a majority of white women’s votes.  She failed in those states because she failed to frame her messages to appeal to voters who feel they have lost ground.

An earlier post is this blog tracks the decline of the middle class to the decline of labor unions – https://charlog.blog/2016/11/27/the-rise-and-fall-of-the-american-working-class-exactly-parallels-the-rise-and-fall-of-labor-unions/ – and we must frame our messages moving forward that to rebuild the middle class, we must organize and rebuild on the strength of organized labor, and attract the voters HRC lost…

Messaging is a key to winning over voters, and framing is a key to effective messaging – see, for example, “Don’t Think of an Elephant”, by George Lakoff.

N.B.: one of the few positive results of this election has been the exposure of the weakness of the term “midwest”.  More than 30 years ago, I said to a young colleague that we lived in the Great Lakes region, not the ‘midwest’.  He thought and replied: “The midwest consists of the Great Lakes and the Great Plains.”  “And why would you group those two together?”, I replied.

Some pundits are now calling the Great Lakes  the industrial midwest…

Fidel Castro Showed Latin America How to Resist American Imperialism

The failed invasion of the Bay of Pigs was widely celebrated as the first defeat of imperialism in the Americas.

Source:AlterNet

Author:Amy Goodman/Democracy Now

Emphasis Mine

As we revisit the life and legacy of former Cuban President Fidel Castro, we examine how Cuba’s revolutionary ideals spread throughout Latin America. The failed invasion of the Bay of Pigs was widely celebrated as the first defeat of imperialism in the Americas, notes Lou Pérez, professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He says, “that victory just reverberated across Latin America and, perhaps more than anything else, suggested that a people resolved, with a leader resolved, with a capacity to resist intervention, perhaps it was indeed possible.”

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. We’re hosting a roundtable discussion on Fidel Castro, who died Friday at the age of 90. We’re speaking with Bill Fletcher, who is the founder of the Black Radical Congress, Peter Kornbluh of the Cuba Documentation Project and Professor Lou Pérez Jr., author of Cuba in the American Imagination: Metaphor and the Imperial Ethos. Professor Lou Pérez Jr., talk about the effect of Fidel Castro in Latin America. We just left this conversation about Che Guevara, his death. Talk about what Che Guevara was doing there, what he was doing for Fidel, and what Fidel—overall, Fidel Castro was doing in Latin America beyond Cuba.

LOUIS A. PÉREZ JR.: The power of Fidel Castro and the Cuban revolution stands as a phenomenon of resisting the American pushback against the Cuban revolution. That is, in a region that had been—that had been repeatedly intervened militarily, in Mexico and the Central America—in Central America, political intermeddling, economic intervention in South America. The example of Cuba, especially, I think—especially with the failed invasion of the Bay of Pigs, (N.B.: aka inlet of swine) which contributed powerfully to the consolidation and then centralization of power, and the Cubans celebrated the Bay of Pigs as the first defeat of imperialism in the Americas. And that projection, that boast, that victory, just reverberated across Latin America and, perhaps any—more than anything else, suggested that a people resolved, with a leader resolved, with a capacity to resist intervention, perhaps it was indeed possible. And when the Cubans exhort Latin America to make the Andes the Sierra Maestra of the New World, that idea—that idea of being able to affirm autonomy, agency, self-determination, national sovereignty, just resonated across the Western—across Latin America. And Che Guevara takes the model of the Cuban guerrilla war, the foco theory, the idea that a small handful of people who inter themselves in the interior, the hinterland, of a Latin American country can create what we call the subjective conditions of revolution, and from that guerrilla foco would expand a revolutionary movement that would eventually prevail and proclaim victory. The Che Guevara model of revolution essentially is the replication of the Cuban guerrilla war during the—’57 and ’58.

(N.B.:”The foco theory of revolution by way of guerrilla warfare, also known as focalism (foquismo [foˈkizmo]), was formulated by French intellectual and government official Régis Debray, whose main source of inspiration was Marxist revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara‘s experiences surrounding his rebel army’s victory in the 1959 Cuban Revolution.” –  from wikipedia)

Its central principle is that vanguardism by cadres of small, fast-moving paramilitary groups can provide a focus (in Spanish, foco) for popular discontent against a sitting regime, and thereby lead a general insurrection. Although the original approach was to mobilize and launch attacks from rural areas, many foco ideas were adapted into urban guerrilla warfare movements by the late 1960s.

AMY GOODMAN: And talk about what happened with Che Guevara in Bolivia and what that meant to Fidel Castro and the Cuban revolution.

LOUIS A. PÉREZ JR.: Well, the defeat of the guerrilla foco in Bolivia, the capture and the execution of Che Guevara really dealt a body blow to the whole idea of armed struggle in Latin America. It would not be until the Sandinista victory in 1979 where you do have, indeed, a triumph of a guerrilla movement. But after 19—the defeat of the guerrilla foco and the death of Che Guevara, the Cubans turned more toward domestic issues. These are the years of the big push for the economy. This is the year of the disastrous 10 million ton crop. And between the death of Che Guevara and the 10 million ton crop of 1970, it’s possible to take a look at those set of years as really determining moments that altered the trajectory of the Cuban revolution.

Amy Goodman is the host of Democracy Now!, a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 1,200 stations in North America. She is the co-author of The Silenced Majority, a New York Times best-seller.

See:http://www.alternet.org/human-rights/fidel-castro-showed-latin-america-how-resist-american-imperialism?akid=14933.123424.5Q9VTb&rd=1&src=newsletter1067981&t=30

Electoral College Must Reject Trump Unless He Sells His Business, Top Lawyers for Bush and Obama Say

Electoral College Must Reject Trump Unless He Sells His Business, Top Lawyers for Bush and Obama Say – Ethics lawyers for the last two presidents are in agreement.

CPL
CPL

Source:RSN

Author: Judd Legum, ThinkProgress

Emphasis Mine

 

 

Members of the Electoral College should not make Donald Trump the next president unless he sells his companies and puts the proceeds in a blind trust, according to the top ethics lawyers for the last two presidents.

Richard Painter, Chief Ethics Counsel for George W. Bush, and Norman Eisen, Chief Ethics Counsel for Barack Obama, believe that if Trump continues to retain ownership over his sprawling business interests by the time the electors meet on December 19, they should reject Trump.

In an email to ThinkProgress, Eisen explained that “the founders did not want any foreign payments to the president. Period.” This principle is enshrined in Article 1, Section 9 of the Constitution, which bars office holders from accepting “any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.”

This provision was specifically created to prevent the President, most of all, from being corrupted by foreign influences.

Virginia Governor Edmund Jennings Randolph addressed the issue directly during a Constitutional debate in June 1788, noting that a violation of the provision by the President would be grounds for impeachment. (Randolph was also a delegate to the Constitutional Convention.)

There is another provision against the danger mentioned by the honorable member, of the president receiving emoluments from foreign powers. If discovered he may be impeached. If he be not impeached he may be displaced at the end of the four years. By the ninth section, of the first article, “No person holding an office of profit or trust, shall accept of any present or emolument whatever, from any foreign power, without the consent of the representatives of the people” … I consider, therefore, that he is restrained from receiving any present or emoluments whatever. It is impossible to guard better against corruption.”

Eisen said that Trump’s businesses, foreign and domestic, “are receiving a stream of such payments.” A prime example is Trump’s new hotel in Washington DC which, according to Eisen, is “actively seeking emoluments to Trump: payments from foreign governments for use of the hotel.”

“The notion that his (through his agents) solicitation of those payments, and the foreign governments making of those payments, is unrelated to his office is laughable,” Eisen added.

This problem will be repeated “over and over” again with Trump’s other properties and business interests. The only way to cure this Constitutional violation is for Trump to sell his companies and set up a blind trust before he takes office.

Electors should insist that Trump set up a blind trust as a condition of their vote, Eisen said.

Another option, however unlikely, is for “Republicans in Congress [to] admit that they endorse Trump’s exploitation of public office for private gain and authorize his emoluments as the Constitution allows.”

Eisen’s conclusions are shared by Harvard Law Professor Larry Tribe, one of the nation’s preeminent constitutional scholars. Tribe told ThinkProgress that, after extensive research, he concluded that “Trump’s ongoing business dealings around the world would make him the recipient of constitutionally prohibited ‘Emoluments’ from ‘any King, Prince, or foreign State’ — in the original sense of payments and not necessarily presents or gifts — from the very moment he takes the oath.”

The only solution would be to divest completely from his businesses. Failing that, Tribe elaborated on the consequences:

Trump would be knowingly breaking his oath of exclusive fealty (under Art. II, Sec.1) to a Constitution whose very first Article (Art. I, Sec. 9) — an Article deliberately designed to prevent any U.S. official,especially the Chief Executive, from being indebted to, or otherwise the recipient of financial remuneration from, any foreign power or entity answerable to such a power — he would be violating as he repeated the words recited by the Chief Justice.

Tribe said the violation would qualify as one of the “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” that would require Trump to be “removed from Office.”

This is where the Electoral College comes in. Tribe notes that the Electoral College was “originally conceived by Framers like Alexander Hamilton as a vital safeguard against the assumption of the Presidency by an ‘unfit character’ or one incapable of serving faithfully to ‘execute the Office of President of the United States [and] preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.’”

“[T]o vote for Trump in the absence of such complete divestment… would represent an abdication of the solemn duties of the 538 Electors,” Tribe said.

This view is not a position of disgruntled liberals. Richard Painter, Bush’s Chief Ethics Counsel, was in complete agreement with Tribe and Eisen during a recent appearance on CNN.

“I don’t think the electoral college can vote for someone to become president if he’s going to be in violation of the Constitution on day one and hasn’t assured us he’s not in violation,” Painter said.

Painter also suggested a cure for the constitutional problem short of total divestment. Trump could agree to have his businesses audited and any payment from a foreign government be turned over to the United States. (Tribe does not think this would actually cure the Constitutional violation.)

Thus far, Trump has not shown a willingness to do anything. Trump told the New York Times that he is under no obligation to set up a trust and he “could run my business perfectly, and then run the country perfectly.” Instead, he plans on having his adult children run the company while he retains ownership.

Trump told a room full of reporters that “the law is totally on my side, meaning, the president can’t have a conflict of interest.”

Painter told CNN that his attempts to warn the Trump transition of the legal consequences of their approach, including emails to adviser Kellyanne Conway, are being ignored.

Meanwhile, Trump has already sought to leverage the office of the presidency to pressure foreign governments to take actions that would improve his bottom line. Trump admitted that he asked a group of British politicians to kill a proposed wind farm he believed would mar the views at a golf course he owns in Scotland. He reportedly asked the president of Argentina to approve permits for a high-rise in Buenos Aires. (Trump denied the allegation, although his local partner announced the project was moving forward the next day.) Trump has also had his daughter Ivanka, who is supposedly managing his day-to-day business interests, sit in on meetings with heads of state.

Eisen views the current situation as dire. If Trump is permitted to be sworn in as president without selling his companies, he says, the country is facing a “wholesale oligarchic kleptocracy of a kind that we have never seen before in our history.”

 

See:http://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/318-66/40485-electoral-college-must-reject-trump-unless-he-sells-his-business-top-lawyers-for-bush-and-obama-say