I get that New York and California aren’t “real America” because they feature large minority populations and large numbers of liberal whites. But this seems like such pathetic coping strategery to me. Why stop by dropping those two states out of the popular vote totals? Surely Vermont’s and Oregon’s white hippies also don’t count. Why not limit the total just to Oklahoma, Alabama and Nebraska? Conversely, if you leave out the South, Clinton wins in a landslide. Is the argument that they’re not actual states? Who’s this supposed to convince? And go ahead, fantasize us gone if you want, but just who is going to get you your food and iPhones and all the rest?

Say what you like about Hillary Clinton and her campaign–there’s plenty to say–but she understood these folks better than Obama ever did and spoke out about the real threat they pose. They really don’t see us as countrymen. It’s no pose. They see themselves as at war with us. This is a silly example. But it is an example.

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Lev filed this under:  

I’d like to think that Schumer is playing a clever game here to try to wedge apart top Republicans, but to me it feels very much like the usual Democratic thing of backing off broad, national themes for the midterms and letting the red state Democrats set the pace again. Admittedly, this failed badly in 2010 and 2016 (and also in 2002), while the alternative worked pretty damn well in 2006 (and 1998). It’s almost as though Democrats don’t believe any of their message can play in difficult territory, and so they just outsource the whole thing to bland centrists (who, going by recent history, don’t seem to actually have any idea of how to hold onto their seats) and just count on Republicans to have Todd Akin moments and destroy themselves. Admittedly, I don’t think a Democrat running in West Virginia is going to win by running on strong support for abortion rights. But a campaign centering on opposing corruption and double-dealing and on protecting the safety net should be pretty popular everywhere, no? And obstructing Barack Obama seemed to work out alright for Obama-state Republicans like Marco Rubio and Susan Collins, right?

Every time, you think that this time, the lesson is so obvious that they’ll learn, and yet, it never actually seems to happen. They literally can’t save themselves. It’s cultural and the sooner the Bernie supporters take the party over wholesale, the better off we’ll be.

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Isaddamhusseint’s been asked before and should be constantly asked again and again.  Are Bush and Cheney ultimately responsible for all the carnage in Syria today and the resulting destabilizing effect of mass migration on Europe and, arguably, the U.S.?  After all, haven’t we oftentimes found ourselves reluctantly in bed with dictators like Saddam who are able to keep their people in line (see, e.g., Saudi Arabia)?  Saddam was terrible, but what about the alternative?  Did our fraudulent adventurism in Iraq do anything to NOT fuck up geopolitical stability in the world?

What say you?

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So there are a million counterfactuals you can run on the 2016 election. What if Jill Stein had made an eleventh hour Clinton endorsement? What if Sanders had won the nomination? And so on. But I was thinking about one recently that might actually have changed the course in a positive direction: What if Clinton had given a high-profile, Checkers-style speech in which she explained the email issue, denied any wrongdoing, and defied critics to put up or shut up?

It is completely true that Clinton’s email quasi-scandal was blown up by the media into campaign-killing nonsense. No use denying it. But it’s not as if there was nothing she could do about it (and let’s be honest, she basically did nothing about it). Let’s discuss two examples here. The first is from way back in 2008, the Jeremiah Wright story. Let’s be honest, this was a nonsense story. We really expect pastors to be at all times politic and measured? As my girlfriend at the time–a center-right Catholic*–noted, anything Wright had said was mild compared to some of what she’d heard from priests. Some faith traditions expect their pastors to be prophets, channeling the supreme being through passion and improvisation. Judging them according to political media standards was laughably ignorant of religion from a bunch of people constantly jacking each other off about how much they relate to the common folk. Obama, of course, knew all this, but he still responded anyway with one of his best-ever, career-defining speeches. It largely laid the issue to bed going forward outside of right-wing media, and about that, what can you do?

Let’s discuss another, more recent incident: Benghazi (or, more accurately, BENGHAZI!). At a certain point, this was something that even legitimate, mainstream media journalists thought was a real issue to her campaign. Her solid, exhaustive performance in front of the House Benghazi committee neutralized it as an issue in itself (though the email scandal grew out of it, admittedly). The constant of these two incidents points to a truth about the press: they fundamentally operate on conflict and drama. Obama fundamentally despises these things and yet he made the smart play by directly and dramatically addressing Wright. Clinton–around May, say–could have done the same, giving a primetime speech and press conference to frontally attack the email nonsense, to note that she had neither broken the law nor established norms, that her critics should either put up or shut up. Given that Clinton apparently hates the press even more than Obama does, it’s not surprising she didn’t. But such an action could have created a turning point in coverage of the story, in much the way that happened in those two examples. Better to occasionally feed the press’s need for drama in ways that advantage you than, you know, defensiveness and a literal apology tour, which is what we got.

*Currently my spouse, and no longer center-right or Catholic.

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Is Trump’s Administration–as shown by his staffing choices–more right-wing than Bush’s team, or the same but just with less moderate window dressing?

Confirmation hearings are going to be fun, guys.

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Lev filed this under:  

Please tell me if this is too elitist and simplistic but I think I’ve got the thinking behind being a Trump supporter distilled down pretty well.

Trump Voter:

Undeserving people are getting stuff they don’t deserve.  I should be getting that stuff, or at least more of it than those undeserving people.

But, I can’t tell anyone I feel that way anymore because uptight social justice warriors will call me a racist.

Trump is great because not only will he work to make sure those undeserving people stop getting stuff (or at least less of it), he’ll turn around and give me more stuff.  Not to mention, he’ll make it ok again for me to bitch about undeserving people getting more stuff than me.

Yes/ no?

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The current president is wrong. Democrats absolutely need to make Russian interference into a political football, though they need to do it right. They need to make it into one so hot, so dangerous, and ultimately so damaging to the GOP that it tarnishes the Trumpresidency and the party’s overall image too. Here’s why:

  1. On substance, foreign meddling in elections this overt and broad is totally unacceptable, and getting as much information out as possible can help prevent it from being done again here or elsewhere. If cryptonazis win in Germany and France too based on Russian interference, that’s way not good. But a full accounting could lessen that possibility.
  2. On politics, it offers a rare chance for Democrats to use nationalism and patriotism to their advantage in a way that isn’t unsatisfying, ethically or morally. These don’t come up that often, and they’re worth playing to the hilt when you can. As I’ve argued before many times, Democrats need to be able to speak from the gut as well as from the head. That’s what an Elizabeth Warren or a Bernie Sanders can do (and, frankly, what a Hillary Clinton or a John Kerry can’t). These are really powerfully motivating emotions. Just ask the goddamn Tea Party!
  3. Additionally, it could be equally demotivating to Republicans. It’s frankly not all that surprising that Republicans have warmed up to Putin as a result of the events in the election. They have, after all, turned what was initially an intellectual movement into an all-encompassing cosmology in which literally anything that is “on their side” is good, and anything that is not is evil. Remember Dinesh D’Souza’s book where he sided with what he would now no doubt term “radical Islam” to try to defeat liberals somehow? A complicated example of this basic truth: fundamentally, there is a strong right-wing discomfort with any distinction that isn’t binary. So Putin helping them makes him good. If in three months he starts dropping the stuff he hacked from the RNC but never released to try to sew chaos, destabilize Trump’s presidency and turn America into even more of a basket case–which might happen, as he has the stuff and he has nothing to lose if some of his Trumpian cronies turf out–then they’ll hate him. But even if they like him or not, having him viewed as a puppet master who “made” Trump in some way is going to sting. As someone who grew up in conservative America and knows the psyche well, trust me, liberals questioning the basic patriotism and independence of a Republican president will be a fundamentally infuriating turn (particularly since there’s no reason to see Trump as in any way patriotic or independent based on what he’s said and done). No doubt the bullshit factory (FOX/Rush/Drudge and their ilk) will push back with all their might. But being on the defensive of something like this is going to be intolerable to them. I’m not sure they’re going to know how to respond. I don’t think liberals have pulled off something like this since the JFK era.

For right now, the best way is to play it down the middle, try to get Republicans to agree to an independent, bipartisan committee to investigate the issue thoroughly. But Democratic politicians should soon start including rhetoric about “the president Putin elected” and stuff like that.

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Chait’s right: Michael Flynn is definitely the biggest personnel fiasco from the Trump Administration. Senate Democrats have expressed a willingness to filibuster the waiver for James Mattis’s nomination as Defense Secretary because he’s not been a civilian for long enough–if I were setting strategy, I’d try to exchange letting Mattis through for losing Flynn. It’s not like Mattis is great! He sucks too. But by far the lesser of two evils, and in a less evil-creating role.

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