Thursday, November 8, 2018

Happy Dawali!

Palast has been screaming for months about Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp's illegal voter roll purges in an election where he was running for governor, which historically has meant resigning from the seat in the name of fairness. But this is a Republican election fraudster. Similarly, he's been after Kris Kobach, who was Trump's fraudster-in-chief. Those are two races I was particularly paying attention to, but in the last few weeks Palast was tweeting warnings in far more states, telling people to check their registrations. I couldn't even begin to keep track of all the problems I saw being tweeted about as Tuesday night went on, all over the country, including Brooklyn, New York. Utterly outrageous behavior on the part of election officials working hard to disenfranchise voters. Ari Berman in Mother Jones, "Voters Are Making an Unprecedented Number of Calls to Report Election Problems: Broken voting machines in New Jersey. Absentee ballots that never arrived in Florida. Voters being asked for the wrong forms of photo ID in Mississippi. A call center at a law firm in New York is fielding complaints from around the country of voting irregularities, and voters are reporting a wide range of barriers to voting in a midterm election that will determine control of Congress and the fate of President Donald Trump's agenda." Even Berman's list is not comprehensive, and the implication is that a lot of it was lack of preparedness for unusually high turnout for a mid-term election, but a lot of these are issues that only happen if you're trying to make it hard for people to vote. There should not be four-hour lines, ever.

Democrats took the House Tuesday (and got rid of Pete Sessions), picked up the Senate seat in Nevada but lost seats for Indiana, Missouri, and North Dakota. So much for the idea that running to the right helps Democrats, I guess. Presumed rising stars Randy Bryce (WI 1st Congressional district) and Beto O'Rourke (for the Texas Senate seat) failed to win their bids, so Ted Cruz is still in the Senate. On the bright side. Kris Kobach, major election fraudster, lost the Kansas gubernatorial race to Democrat Laura Kelly. Dems did flip more governorships than they lost (Scott Walker lost WI, and Maine finally got rid of LePage), and New York finally dumped its Republicans. Of course, with Maryland Democrats supporting the Republican governor, Ben Jealous lost by a decisive margin to Larry Hogan. But once again, we lost more right-wing Dems from office, which gives us the option of building a better Democratic position in those areas.

Oh, and I confess that I wanted to see this: "Democrat Ned Lamont Wins Connecticut Governor's Race," although I really have no idea how he will govern. Never gonna forgive Lieberman, though.

Some important races haven't actually been called yet, and the Gillum and Abrams races may be headed for recounts. Fingers crossed and all that, but so far it seems like the election frauds may have won.

The Onion, "Georgia Election Worker Assures Black Man Ballot Scanner Supposed To Sound Like Shredder."

Oh, yeah, Bernie Sanders won his Senate race with over 67%.

Twitter had some fun moments.

There was some great news on ballot initiatives, particularly:
• "Louisiana votes to eliminate Jim Crow jury law with Amendment 2: The law made Louisiana one of two states that allowed a non-unanimous jury in felony trials."
• "In Historic Move, Florida Approves Automatically Restoring Voting Rights To Felons: The move, reversing a Jim Crow-era policy, is one of the most significant expansions of the franchise in modern times."

Someone told me the Texas Board of Education flipped blue. That would be a big deal, since Texas seems to control textbooks all over America. However I couldn't find a story on that.

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I think I actually missed this last year when it was posted, but now that I've found it, you should read it.

Keep It Simple and Take Credit
By Jack Meserve

As Democrats stare down eight years of policies being wiped out within months, it's worth looking at why those policies did virtually nothing for their electoral success at any level. And, in the interest of supporting a united front between liberals and socialists, let me start this off with a rather long quote from Matt Christman of Chapo Trap House, on why Obamacare failed to gain more popularity:

There are parts to it that are unambiguously good — like, Medicaid expansion is good, and why? Because there's no fucking strings attached. You don't have to go to a goddamned website and become a fucking hacker to try to figure out how to pick the right plan, they just tell you 'you're covered now.' And that's it! That's all it ever should have been and that is why — [Jonathan Chait] is bemoaning why it's a political failure? Because modern neoliberal, left-neoliberal policy is all about making this shit invisible to people so that they don't know what they're getting out of it.

And as Rick Perlstein has talked about a lot, that's one of the reasons that Democrats end up fucking themselves over. The reason they held Congress for 40 years after enacting Social Security is because Social Security was right in your fucking face. They could say to you, 'you didn't used to have money when you were old, now you do. Thank Democrats.' And they fucking did. Now it's, 'you didn't used to be able to log on to a website and negotiate between 15 different providers to pick a platinum or gold or zinc plan and apply a fucking formula for a subsidy that's gonna change depending on your income so you might end up having to retroactively owe money or have a higher premium.' Holy shit, thank you so much.

This point has been made before on Obamacare, but the tendency behind it, the tendency to muddle and mask benefits, has become endemic to center-left politics. Either Democrats complicate their initiatives enough to be inscrutable to anyone who doesn't love reading hours of explainers on public policy, or else they don't take credit for the few simple policies they do enact. Let's run through a few examples.

This shouldn't even be a liberal-socialist divide, although it seems to have become one in recent years. When society decided citizens should be able to read, we didn't provide tax credits for books, we created public libraries. When we decided peoples' houses shouldn't burn down, we didn't provide savings accounts for private fire insurance, we hired firefighters and built fire stations. If the broad left takes power again, enough with too-clever-by-half social engineering. Help people and take credit.

Now go read the rest — and then send it to any Dem reps you might have, and anyone else you think might benefit from having this drilled into them.

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This CNBC interview with Sherrod Brown is interesting. I mean the way he talks, it's so different from the way pretty much every other candidate is talking. I have my problems with him but seeing the way he talks about trade and never once attacks Trump even while disagreeing with how he went about it, I think I can see why he's doing so well. Brown won re-election to the Ohio Senate quite comfortably Tuesday.

Capital-D Democratic darling "Cory Booker uses anti-Semitic massacre as an excuse to dismiss Palestinians rights: New Jersey Senator Cory Booker says that the Pittsburgh massacre has led him to support the Israel Anti-Boycott Act. He becomes the first politician to use the killings of 11 Jews to take a racist position against Palestinian rights. His move should be described exactly that way, as a cynical use of real antisemitism as an excuse to dismiss Palestinian rights so as to further his political career."

Watch: Glenn Greenwald Breaks Down Lessons for the West From Bolsonaro's Fascist Victory in Brazil: "When the establishment class fails a huge portion of the population for enough time and to enough of an extent, sooner or later they will decide that it is the ruling class that is their enemy."

Glen Ford at Black Agenda Report, "Fascism is Real, But the 'Resistance' is Mostly Fake [...] I have no problem labeling Trump a fascist, and Bolsonaro appears to have no problem being called one. My problem is with a phony 'resistance' that defines fascism so narrowly that it applies, domestically, only to Donald Trump and his most crazed followers. For Democrats, the fascist label is mere political epithet, a demon-word hurled for election purposes."

Margaret Sullivan, former "public editor" at the NYT — the good one — has a new job as "Media Columnist" at the WaPo. "Defensive, caravan-fixated and Trump-obsessed, the media blow it again. Just not as badly." Of course, the media that reported on every hysterical word about the caravan conveniently forgot it as soon as the election was over, just like the White House and the rest of right-wing media seem to have done.

"LA Times Publishes Completely Different Political Endorsements in English and Spanish: LOS ANGELES — Why would the same newspaper, with a mainstream version in English and another version in Spanish covering the same geographical area and diverse communities, endorse different candidates for the same federal, state and local elections in each language? [...] The English version of the LA Times suggests you re-elect U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein because she comes from a more 'civil and productive era of governance' and has accomplished a great deal like that. The editorial casts doubt on the effectiveness of her challenger, state senator Kevin de León who seems 'unwilling to compromise.' LA Times en Español, however, has a different take. According to its editorial, de León is the best choice because he seems pragmatic and effective enough and knows the immigrant community best. And, after all, 'Dianne Feinstein has been in the Senate since 1992' and that's 'too long. A generational change is needed.'"

"3P Gives Glenn Kessler 8 Pinocchios for Healthcare Bungle." Kessler really seems to be desperate.

David Dayen, "The Dialysis Industry Is Spending $111 Million To Argue That Regulating It Would Put It Out Of Business

Thomas Ferguson, Benjamin Page, Jacob E. Rothschild, Arturo Chang, and Jie Chen at the Institute for New Economic Thinking have a new paper out, "The Economic and Social Roots of Populist Rebellion: Support for Donald Trump in 2016" (.pdf), which they introduce in "Economic Distress Did Drive Trump's Win" this way: "Contrary to the dominant media narrative, social issues like racism and sexism on their own can't explain Trump's success. [...] Economic factors mattered at both stages. Moreover, in the general election — in contrast to the primaries — leading social factors actually tended to hurt rather than help Trump. While agreeing that racial resentment and sexism were important influences, the paper shows how various economic considerations — including concerns about imports and job losses, wealth inequality, social welfare programs, and starved infrastructure — helped Trump win the Republican primary and then led significant blocs of voters to shift from supporting Democrats or abstaining in 2012 to voting for him. It also presents striking evidence of the importance of political money and senators' 'reverse coattails' in the dramatic final result." (Lee Fang has the short version at The Intercept, "Donald Trump Exploited Long-Term Economic Distress To Fuel His Election Victory, Study Finds.")

Lynn Parramore, also at INET, interviews Adolph Reed in light of the new paper, "Cheap Talk on Race and Xenophobia Keeps Americans from Confronting Economic and Political Peril: Adolph Reed, who researches race and politics, warns that 'identitarian' politics can conceal the structural inequities of capitalism. [...] I had a very sharp and studious black undergraduate student wholly inside a race-first understanding of politics. When I mentioned the white people who had voted for Obama once if not twice who also voted for Trump, his response was, well, of course you can't say that voting for Obama means that you're not a racist. I said, yes, that's true, but by the same token you can't say that voting for Trump means you are a racist, right? Which they don't want to accept.

Sam Seder and David Dayen, How Corporate-Funded Judicial Bootcamp Made More Conservative Judges on Ring of Fire.

Thom Hartmann says The Real Reason Why Republicans Fear 'Medicare for All' is that it will provide every citizen with legitimate voter ID. I'm pretty sure that's not the only reason.

"Start the Voter Suppression Hearings Now and Don't Stop [...] The House can hold hearings on voter suppression. They can start immediately. They can subpoena every fucking Republican secretary of state who can reasonably be judged to have assisted in the suppression of minority voters. They can subpoena law enforcement officials. They can subpoena campaign staffers. They can subpoena poll workers. They can call in all types of political science professors and statisticians and sociologists to explain in detail what is happening. They can invite Michelle Alexander to read the entirety of The New Jim Crow into the Congressional record. They can draw attention. They can make noise. They should, and they must. The more you let the overt oppression slide, the more it will be seen as the standard playbook for the next election." Personally, I'm not getting behind abolishing the Senate until House reps can only have 30K constituents.

The Onion, "White House Concerned Ryan Zinke Made Land Deal Without Giving Cut To Trump."

"See Beatlemania Hit the Comic Book World During the 1960s!" I actually remember that Jimmy Olsen stuff, but I remember finding it embarrassing.

"Motown Guitarist Wah Wah Watson Dead at 67: Born Melvin Ragin, the iconic guitarist lent his signature licks to the Temptations, Marvin Gaye, others."

Temptations, "Papa Was A Rolling Stone"


  1. Embarrassing, yes, but it made me smile.

  2. IIRC, Al Capp saw A Hard Day's Night and much to his surprise thought it was great. He tried to get permission to put the Beatles as characters into "Li'l Abner" but they declined - wisely, I think.