Archive for Presidential Race

Mar
18

NC’s new identity hurdle blocks the vote

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Students arrived in a steady stream at the Board of Elections office in Asheville, NC late Tuesday afternoon. It was Primary Day, the first election operating under the state’s new voter ID law. Students found that their out-of-state IDs and state-issued student IDs were unacceptable under the new law and many could not vote a regular ballot. They had come trying to fix voter registration issues, and some to cast provisional ballots. During early voting in the state, “the highest concentrations of provisional ballots from voters without ID were in places with college campuses.”

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Mar
16

Hillary Clinton: beyond word

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Speeches by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Ohio’s Governor John Kasich came back to back last night during election night coverage. I was listening on the car radio between local watch parties, so I didn’t see the visuals. Putting aside their histories, parties and policies, what struck me hearing the audio only was the gut feel of the two speeches.

Clinton has improved as a candidate since 2008 and over the course of this campaign. She has adopted some of Bernie Sanders’ populist themes. She also knows she does not have her husband’s skill at delivering speeches and stirring crowds. And yet she still structured last night’s victory speech point-point-point. Here is an excerpt:

And so our next president needs to be ready to face three big tasks. First can you make positive differences in people’s lives? Second, can you keep us safe? Third, can you bring our country together again?

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Mar
14

The quality of mercy

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King Midas with his daughter - Walter Crane [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

King Midas with his daughter – Walter Crane
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

David Atkins comments on a piece from the National Review that displays the nihilist greed of the Midas Cult in the ghastliest terms I have yet seen. Atkins writes:

The establishment Republican ideology prioritizes capital above all else. For them, the market does not exist to serve people: people exist to serve the market. Unregulated capitalism can never fail; it can only be failed by those too lazy, useless and unproductive to serve and profit by it. It is a totalizing ideology as impractical as state communism but lacking the silver lining of its species-being idealism; as impervious to reason as any cult religion, but lacking the promise of community, salvation or utopia; as brutal as any dictatorship, but without the advantage of order and security. Worst of all, it blames its victims for its failure to provide solutions to their needs.

Too strong, you think? Consider this excerpt from the NRO piece in which Kevin Williamson condemns Trump’s supporters as apostates from the one, true faith — his (emphasis mine):

It is immoral because it perpetuates a lie: that the white working class that finds itself attracted to Trump has been victimized by outside forces. It hasn’t. … They failed themselves.

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Mar
13

Unleashing the Furies

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Orestes Pursued by the Furies by William-Adolphe Bouguereau [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Orestes Pursued by the Furies by William-Adolphe Bouguereau
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A quick summary of pre-bobblehead reaction to this weekend’s developments.

If after the protests and violence at Donald Trump rallies over the weekend you wonder where this presidential campaign is heading, you are not alone. Dan Balz at the Washington Post wonders if Campaign 2016 isn’t on “a downward and dangerous descent.” Trump’s rivals are wondering the same thing. Asked whether he would support the eventual Republican nominee for president, Sen. Marco Rubio said “it’s getting harder every day.” Politico reports:

Both the Florida senator and Ohio governor, fighting to avoid campaign-ending losses to Trump in their home states on Tuesday, blamed him for fostering a climate at his campaign events that enables violence. That climate, Rubio said, has the country “careening toward chaos and anarchy.”
“We settle our differences in this country at the ballot box, not with guns or bayonets or violence,” Rubio told reporters.

“You wonder if we’re headed in a different direction today where we’re no longer capable of having differences of opinion but in fact now protests become a license to take up violence and take on your opponents physically,” he said. “This is what happens when a leading presidential candidate goes around feeding into a narrative of bitterness and anger and frustration.”

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Mar
12

Tinder Boxes

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Rachel Maddow chronicles Trump rally rhetoric in the wake of the Chicago Trump protest last night.

This account of a Trump rally from Facebook is illuminating:
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Mar
10

Dying from despair

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Downtown Appalachia, VA. Photo by pfly from Pugetopolis [CC BY-SA 2.0

Downtown Appalachia, VA. Photo by pfly from Pugetopolis [CC BY-SA 2.0

Michael Cooper, Jr. sends a message from Donald Trump’s America, meaning, the last places and people in America the casino and real estate magnate would care to visit. You know, “losers”:

I live in Trump’s America, where working-class whites are dying from despair. They’re dying from alcoholism, drug addiction and suicide, trying to take away the pain of a half century’s economic and cultural decline. In the foothills of Appalachia, Wilkes County, North Carolina, is second in the nation in income lost this century, where the number of manufacturing jobs decreased from 8,548 in the year 2000 to about 4,000 today, according to Stateline.

If the color coding on the Stateline map of income decline appears less dire for Appalachia proper, it is because once at the bottom there is no further down to go. Near-ghost-towns dot southwest Virginia and West Virginia. Small but once prosperous from logging or coal, they hug hillsides along what are barely

secondary roads. And that’s what their people feel like: secondary. Voters have been forgotten in towns where over 20 percent live in poverty and a quarter never finished high school, Cooper explains:

They lost their influence, their dignity and their shot at the American Dream, and now they’re angry. They’re angry at Washington and Wall Street, at big corporations and big government. And they’re voting now for Donald Trump.

My Republican friends are for Trump. My state representative is for Trump. People who haven’t voted in years are for Trump. He’ll win the primary here on March 15 and he will carry this county in the general.

His supporters realize he’s a joke. They do not care. They know he’s authoritarian, nationalist, almost un-American, and they love him anyway, because he disrupts a broken political process and beats establishment candidates who’ve long ignored their interests.

This is the America where the unemployed and underemployed still line up for free health care each year at the fairgrounds in Wise, Virginia and in smaller places. They are “poorer, less educated citizens who are fiscally liberal and socially conservative,” Cooper believes, and both parties have ignored them for years. In part, because they tend not to vote. But they are voting now, now that Trump has given voice to their grievances.

Thousands receive free medical care at the Remote Area Medical clinic each year in Wise, VA. The greatest need is dental care.

Thousands receive free medical care at the Remote Area Medical clinic each year in Wise, VA. The greatest need is dental care.

This year’s primaries are like a real-life exercise in those old Verizon Wireless ads. America’s forgotten working class left behind and discarded by globalization, automation, and deindustrialization has found an unlikely voice in Donald Trump, if not really a champion. Independent Bernie Sanders too is finding traction there, as his Michigan win this week proved. In primary after primary, the American worker is asking party elites, “Can you hear me now?

It is not clear yet that they have.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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Mar
09

Bonana fanna fo Fump

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It’s the blame game this morning as fingers point to who is to blame for the rise of Trump and Trumpism. Eric Boehlert of Hillary-friendly Media Matters examines how the media’s obsession with Donald Trump has yielded millions in free air time for the billionaire:

We seem to have entered unchartered territory where campaign coverage, at least Trump’s campaign coverage, is based on what’s popular (or what makes money for news outlets), and not based on what’s newsworthy. Casting aside decades of precedent, campaign journalism seems to have almost consciously shifted to a for-profit model.

[…]

Writing at The Observer, Ryan Holiday suggested a new paradigm is in play this campaign season:

Politicians have always sought to manipulate the public. What’s changed is that media is now not only a willing co-conspirator, they are often the driving force behind the manipulation. No longer seeing itself as responsible for reporting the truth, for getting the facts to the people, it has instead incentivized a scrum, a wild fight for attention in which anything that attracts an audience is fair game. And as long as theirs is the ring where the fight goes down, they’ll happily sell tickets to as many as will come.

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Mar
08

Get ’em outta here!

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Both by accident and by design, we have spent the last thirty to forty years creating through taxes, trade and deregulation a world system where you serve the economy instead of the economy serving you. What’s so hard about saying so? Over, and over and over. If that’s not the “one-world government” of conspiracy theorist nightmares, I don’t know what is.

People are angry about it, for sure. Some are backing Donald Trump for president. Others are backing Bernie Sanders. But being animals, we are wired to identify enemies with faces. Systems have none, or we could punch them in their noses. Unless you are Orwell, systems are harder to tag as bad guys. So when things go wrong, we look instead for scapegoats, people to blame, people with faces. That is why Donald Trump gets more mileage with disaffected voters from blaming Mexicans, Chinese and Muslims than Bernie Sanders does from blaming Wall Street, big banks, or economic inequality. No noses.

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Mar
07

Pulling their fat out of the fire

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At New Yorker, David Remnick ponders the unbearable rightness of Donald Trump:

This is not a Seth Rogen movie; this is as real as mud. Having all but swept the early Republican primaries and caucuses, Trump—who re-tweets conspiracy theories and invites the affections of white-supremacist groups, and has established himself as the adept inheritor of a long tradition of nativism, discrimination, and authoritarianism—is getting ever closer to becoming the nominee of what Republicans like to call “the party of Abraham Lincoln.” No American demagogue––not Huey Long, not Joseph McCarthy, not George Wallace––has ever achieved such proximity to national power.

With opening day for major league baseball a month away, the Stop Trump effort is in full a-swing-and-a-miss mode, as the Republican National Committee fends off questions about a brokered convention:
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Mar
06

Reaping the whirlwind

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Photo by Evan-Amos (Own work)
[CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The party in a lather over Hillary Clinton’s email server is poised to nominate a candidate who last week boasted he would issue criminal orders to the military, orders that violate their oaths as soldiers and his own as president. “If I say, ‘Do it,’ they’re going to do it,” he assured us. William Saletan writes, “This wasn’t a gaffe. It was a casual promise of dictatorship.”

Donald Trump quickly retracted his statement and acknowledged he would be bound by laws and treaties as president. Next January, if Trump raises his right hand and swears to defend the Constitution, how can his left hand go on the Bible with his fingers crossed behind his back? As he says, everything is negotiable.

It should be clear by now (if it was not already) that the vaunted principles and values espoused by many Americans are equally negotiable. Movement conservatives and their think tanks are finding to their chagrin that Trump’s supporters give not a fig for small government and lower taxes so much as they value machismo and promises to exact retribution on disfavored Others. Trump’s campaign has proven again that in America our convictions are a mile wide and an inch deep. We are better at boasting about them than sticking to them.

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