“A Model Response” vs A Wild Screeching Fear: Which Will Win?


Image result for chelsea bombing

NYPD and FBI agents work together to bring down a potential murderer

There are a lot of Americans who want to kill other Americans. Some will do so well blathering about Allah and ISIS. Our response is ultimately more important. 

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Can Trump Actually Win? Will He? Dark Days In September


“Sorry Venkman– I’m terrified beyond the capacity for rational thought.”

Recent polls have become terrifying. But can the biggest potential disaster since the Civil War actually win?

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The Super-Racism Behind Trump’s “Appeal” To Black Voters


Pictured: The Outreach Brigade

This has been Trump’s “pivot week”, a transparently phony attempt to pretend his campaign isn’t fueled entirely by white anger, and hasn’t been one long sustained howl designed to yodel bigots out of the woodwork. Hillary did a good job with her speech yesterday making sure that no one can forget that the alt-right misogynist racist part of his campaign isn’t just one aspect; it is the driving force. So Trump has pretended, of course, that the Democrats are the real racists.

This started last week when he asked black voters what they had to lose in voting for him.

“What do you have to lose? What do you have to lose? You’re living in poverty, your schools are no good. You have no jobs — 58 percent of your youth is unemployed,” Trump said on Friday in Dimondale, Mich., a mostly white community near Lansing. “What the hell do you have to lose?”

He’s also talked about crime, and how he would stop it so people wouldn’t get shot, and he would do so by making the police super-empowered, which might not be what the black community totally wants to hear right now, but regardless. Also, some African-Americans took exception to his idea that all their lives resemble area where even Robocops fear to tread. This is his outreach.

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DNC Day 4 Liveblogging: Hillary And the Convention’s Best Moment

8:27: Barack and Michelle were transcendent, Biden was magnificent, the apolitical John Allen is right now driving the military into a frenzy, and Bernie brought down the house. But the finest moment of the week was just a few minutes ago, when the parents of Khizer Khan, a Muslim soldier who gave his life to save his comrades, spoke about what America truly was. And what it wasn’t, and what it cannot be. The best and truest moment was when the father offered Trump, who he was calling out by name, a copy of his ragged, dog-eared pocket Constitution.

He finished, though, with a call for anyone who cares about immigrants, who cares about religious plurality, and who cares about the rights of minorities, to vote. That they can’t sit this one out. Who knows the subtlety of his politics, but to me it was an implicit criticism of “Bernie or Bust” types. So what if you didn’t get every single thing you want? If Trump wins, some people will get nothing. They’ll be shut out, castigated, and demonized. The sacrifice of his son will be negated. The message is that you don’t have that right. You don’t have the right to sit this one out because your feelings are hurt. You don’t have the right to sit this out because more people voted for another candidate. If you do, if you arrogate unto yourself that right, then you are not progressive. You represent a party of one. You only represent your feelings.

More after the jump.

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Tim Kaine and President Barack Obama Liveblogging



Kind of neat.

9:04 Softball tonight kept me away from some of the convention. I heard Biden bring the house down on the radio, though. He sounds really good on the radio. He’s got that ol’ timey confidentiality, even when he’s shouting. He pulls you in. And there is no one who sounds more sincere than he does when saying he can’t believe that Donald Trump has a shot at being the next President.  Man, I love Joe Biden. I’m glad he didn’t run, though. He deserved to go out beloved, not losing to Hillary.

Kaine’s here. More after jump.

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Julian Assange Casts His Vote


His vote will ultimately be worth more than yours.

When you’re thinking free and open society, you’re thinking Donald Trump, right?

Six weeks before the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks published an archive of hacked Democratic National Committee emails ahead of the Democratic convention, the organization’s founder, Julian Assange, foreshadowed the release — and made it clear that he hoped to harm Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning the presidency.

(The Times immortally invaluable Charlie Savage put this all together)

So, one could have initially, if one ignored the Russian angle cast this as an attempt to throw a corrupt and evil “democracy”, the world’s great evil and enemy of freedom, into a state of real higgedly-piggedly. But that’s clearly not the case.

Mr. Assange replied that what Mr. Trump would do as president was “completely unpredictable.” By contrast, he thought it was predictable that Mrs. Clinton would wield power in two ways he found problematic.

First, citing his “personal perspective,” Mr. Assange accused Mrs. Clinton of having been among those pushing to indict him after WikiLeaks disseminated a quarter of a million diplomatic cables during her tenure as secretary of state.

“We do see her as a bit of a problem for freedom of the press more generally,” Mr. Assange said.

I’m going to ignore the middle part, where he is mad at Mrs. Clinton for moving to indict him after, you know, breaking the law. I get why he sees her as an enemy, but did that really come as a surprise? Regardless of what you think of the justice or efficacy of the Wikileaks diplomatic dump (and I think they are a different type than Snowden’s heroism), it stands to reason that the US government would be miffed. I get why Assange sees her as an enemy, but really, shouldn’t take it so personally.

It’s the first and third bits that are either idiotically naive or completely sinister, depending on where you stand on Assange. Seeing Clinton as “a bit of a problem for freedom of the press” is fair: the Obama Administration has a terrible track record on press freedom, and Hillary has never been known for her openness, exactly. I think being peeved at the cable dumping, in which legitimate diplomatic communication was exposed and lives were put in danger, doesn’t in and of itself mark her as an enemy. But I get it.

However, the contrast is, and was known at the time Assange made these statements (about six weeks ago) Donald Trump. Donald Trump. Donald Trump. He’s made it…very clear where he stance on the media, the role of antagonistic journalism, and the role of the press in a free society, which is: fuck the press. If they aren’t subservient to him, they are useless. He’s shown it in his willingness to excommunicate anyone who is “unfair” (by which we mean fair) to him.  He’s shown it on his ravaging Twitter feed, where he demonstrates that trying to keep the media in line is a bigger goal than talking about policy or anything else. This tweet— “I was at and met Juan Williams in passing. He asked if he could have pictures taken with me. I said fine. He then trashes on air!”– is a perfect example of his childish authoritarianism.

Not all his authoritarianism is childish and petulant (though really, aren’t those the emotions at the heart of tyranny?). He has made it very clear that he intends to, or at least wants to, “open up libel laws” so that he can sue unfriendly press out of existence. He’s been trying to do that for decades. One could argue the pursuit of this power is one of the driving goals of his Presidency. So even he won’t be able to open up libel laws, as that wouldn’t come close to holding up in court, he’s clearly a man who wants to quash press freedom, either de facto or de jure, in order to burnish his own heroic image. Not exactly an ally of an open society.

So when Assange says Trump is “completely unpredictable”, he’s lying, or else he’s not paying any attention, which doesn’t strike me as plausible. Trump has made it very clear he’s a huge fan of waterboarding, and of even more torture. He’s been clear about that his entire run. That Assange chooses to ignore that, and, worse, accommodate it, raises a few questions about motivations.

The charitable interpretation here is that Trump is an agent of chaos, will rattle America, will end the neoliberal agreement that is underpinning much of the world’s immorality. He’s ignorant about who Trump actually is, and underestimates the racism and nativism that undergirds the campaign, focusing on globalization and isolationism.

That’s actually dovetailed with the uncharitable interpretation, which is that Assange sees the US/EU as the real enemies, and any of their enemies– including the ruthless and literal-press-murdering Putin regime– as his friends. That’s pretty sinister, but when someone sets himself against one party, in this case the war-mongering, trade-hawking, and press-stifling US (and all these are legitimate charges!), he tends to cling to any port in the storm.

You are free to question if he is pro-freedom, merely anti-West and pro-Russia, pro-authoritarianism if it’s the right person, or anywhere in between. I don’t think there is a cut-and-dry answer, though I lean toward him being a bit of an authoritarian creep with libertarian clothes. All I know for sure is that with friends like these, freedom doesn’t need the many enemies it already has.

Booing Bernie, Self-Inflicted Wounds, And the End of Revolution


‘Indict the DNC.’

Image from the Guardian


First Story: The DNC is, if not corrupt, certainly skewed toward boring centrism, and staffed with hacks and dopes who send idiotic, if ineffective, emails to each other plotting against Bernie Sanders and any real progressive change. Their little plots might not have come to fruition, but it was symbolic of the attempt to stifle a move toward the left. At the worst, the nomination was stolen from Bernie Sanders, and given to a warmongering neoliberal. Undemocratic superdelegates were just part of that.

Second Story: Hillary would have won anyway. She had the support of Hispanics, blacks, women, and other important parts of the Democratic Coalition. She beat Bernie Sanders by more votes, and more pledged delegates, than Obama beat her by in 2008. The dopes at the DNC didn’t matter. They could have supported Bernie, and he still would have lost.

Third Story: Regardless of DNC perfidy and juvenile grabassery, Bernie supporters have to come around. And the polls say most of them are. Like, 90%. It’s not even close. But the optics are terrible. The media is salivating for a “both sides in disarray!” story. Getting rid of the unexplainable Debbie Wasserman Schultz should be good. Having the most progressive platform in Democratic history should be a huge win. You’ve pushed the DNC as far to the left as can possibly be expected. Even Bernie Sanders is saying that booing is going to be terrible optics, and the stakes are too high. (a Bernie text, via Digby)

And yet, he was booed by some of his own supporters.

Let’s be clear: this is a minority of a minority, and in a very real sense, they are being crazily selfish, hoping for an impossible purity rather than accepting that they have, in a real sense won. The party has moved in their direction, and not even incrementally. If they raise a panic, stomp out, and think that the revolution can only be won by getting everything all at once or nothing at all, then nothing will win. Every amazing thing Sanders accomplished would be ruined.

And yet…they have every right to be angry. What happened at the DNC is not surprising, but it is still maddening and terrible, probably more so for all that. It was a self-inflicted wound by the DNC, in an election that should not be close, that cannot be close.

So the DNC hurt themselves, in an inexcusable way. The lesson for Bernie Sanders supporters is to not do the same fucking thing. Chanting “lock her up”, militating against Hillary, working actively for Trump is a betrayal to everything that every one of us who voted for Bernie voted for. It’s a betrayal of hope. It’s more than a self-inflicted wound. It’s progressive suicide.

So yes, it sucks that you are being asked to be “silent”. I get it. But you’ve already accomplished so much, and the stakes are too high. There is a legitimate honest-to-god fascist running. Your feelings are literally the least important thing here.



“How many times have I failed at this job?” 


Well, it took catastrophic stupidity to finally end the DNC tenure of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, but since that’s what it clearly took to appoint her, and to keep her in after 2014, I suppose that’s fitting.  A few quick thoughts.

  • The main take from the emails– that the DNC was pulling for and maneuvering in favor of Hillary– is not surprising. Not surprising in the sense that we already knew this, but also not surprising in tone. Political people think like political people and talk like them. There wasn’t going to be any neutrality. Remember this when you see people talking about the rigged Democratic leadership who were wondering when the Republican leadership was going to step up to stop Trump. It’s always ok when Republicans do it.
  • That said, this is terrible. It’s another example of DWS’s disastrous “leadership”, in which we managed to lose the Senate, virtually every possible statehouse, and fall backward in the House. It’s like she saw Rahm ignoring the successful lessons of Howard Dean, and saying “I think we should do more of this.” The organization followed. Were in not for the once-in-the-lifetime skills of Barack Obama, and the energy of the resurgent left giving new life to the party, it would be total disarray.
  • I’m not worried about this electorally. Bernie will still be speaking tonight, calling for unity. There will be protests, and a lot of #neverhillary people yelping on TV, but these people weren’t going to vote for her anyway. This is cover, not a reason.
  • That they are right– the system was set up against Bernie– should, in theory, give them even more resolve to push the party to the left. Look at what they accomplished with (admittedly incompetent) enemies. And now DWS is gone! This is a great chance to keep pushing one of the only two viable parties more toward their goals. I know that’s what I am hoping for: an actually progressive in the DNC chairperson role. Why not bring back Howard Dean under whom we were, remember, wildly successful. In the short, medium, and long run, this idiocy could be hepful. (It’s Donna Brazille, at least through the election, which is fine.)
  • A lot depends on the speech tonight, and how well the convention goes. The press would love to have a “both parties in turmoil” story, based on the equivalence of jumped-up fundraisers and college interns at the DNC acting like their venal boss and the rise of American fascism. It’s going to take a hell of a convention to turn that tide. If so, and the story is “a week that started in disarray ended with great unity”, that’ll be a rising tide. I think having Bernie and Michelle and Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden and Barack Obama speak makes it a decent bet.
  • Really, the big story is the Russian connection. It looks more and more likely that they were officially behind the hack, in whatever way the Russian intelligence services work. Trump and Putin are clearly sympatico, though I don’t think Putin sees it as a gathering of equals. Trump does a lot of business in Russia, and needs Russian money, since American banks don’t trust him. His top advisors are intimately intertwined with Russia, and its goals of using energy to dominate their regional rivals. They are vested in the dissoltuion or Europe, the weakening of NATO, and an isolationist agenda. And hey, those are all Trump stances! This could get really interesting…

Quick Thoughts on Why Hillary Will Choose Kaine


Sure, why not? 


Typing this as we’re waiting on the text announcement, so I’ll probably look like an idiot if something comes through…

I think Hillary will choose Tim Kaine as her Veep, and not out of overcaution, either, or as a sign of which way she’s leaning to govern. I don’t think it is a sellout. I think what is most important to her, sincerely, is ability to step in. Kaine has executive experience, and is uninspiring, but competent, and probably wouldn’t be a disaster. Not to say the other guys would be, but he matches what she looks for.

Electorally…well, he won’t hurt. I don’t think he’ll add too much. Perez, who is my choice, and my favorite among those still in the running, might siphone some votes from white working class uneducated, since he is an amazing Labor Secretary who actually fights for them. He might also keep the Bernie coalition fired up. But I don’t know if it would be enough to make a significant number of them vote for Hillary or against Trump. So the calculation there is probably that he doesn’t add too much, is too unknown, and might face tough questions about ability to handle things outside his area of expertise (fairly or not). That said, the one charge that would normally be levied against him– he’s anti-business and too pro-labor– would ring hollow this year. I still hold out hope, but don’t expect it.

Kaine is a fine pick. There will be stuff we on the left can pick apart, but like Hillary, he governs where the party is. He’ll be more to the left than he would have been otherwise. And I like that the Sherrod-Warren-Sanders-(Feingold???)-et al coalition will be intact to keep their feet to the fire. Kaine isn’t inspiring, but he’s fine, and winning is what matters.