Saturday, December 03, 2016

Trumpy-the Clown And Paul Ryan Aren't The Only Problem Progressives Have To Confront-- First There's The DCCC


Right on the heels of the election, Pollfish did a survey of Trump voters, some of whom were already suffering buyer's remorse. Almost a third of his voters said they didn't think he had a real chance to win and fully 11%-- that's about 6.8 million people-- said if they had it to do all over again, they wouldn't vote for him. They don't have it to do all over again-- although they can check him by helping elect a progressive House in 2018. Many voters, enough to take a chance on a deranged narcissistic clown, wanted change-- and Hillary was the candidate of the status quo-- aggressively so.

Yesterday in this time-slot we looked at the "changes" House Democrats are instituting at the DCCC. Unlike the change-for-the-worse agenda Trump, Pence and Paul Ryan are ushering in at breakneck speed, is there even a glimmer of hope that DCCC change will be for the better? DWT has advocated replacing the Pelosi/Hoyer regime among House Democrats for years. Yet this week, the only alternative offered was Tim Ryan who, on no conceivable level, was a better option than Pelosi. Even members disenchanted with her leadership voted, some with trepidation, for her again over the woefully unaccomplished Ryan.

One of the reforms we discussed is that finally Democratic members will get to vote for a DCCC chair, just the way the Republicans vote for their NRCC chair. Pelosi was reluctant but caved in the end. She nominated the hapless and totally inadequate Ben Ray Luján for another term. As Simone Pathé put it succinctly for Roll Call readers Thursday, "the House Democrats’ campaign arm is under scrutiny from members who are demanding change after the party netted just six seats this year-- below even the most pessimistic projections of how many seats the party could gain in a presidential year." A vaguely competent DCCC could have netted double that and a really together and functional DCCC would have won back the majority. Luján and his dysfunctional and self-serving careerist staff are programmed to lose. It's in their DNA. They can't win; they can only lose. They can't be reformed-- only fired and banished from ever setting foot in the building again. All DCCC phone numbers should be changed and it should be a firing offense for anyone to ever give out a new number to Kelli Ward or anyone she ever employed.

Luján is running again and an awful lot of vision-free Democratic members are happy to reelect him. Progressives, as usual, are an incoherent mess and a thoroughly ineffective voice of opposition. The only opposition to Luján appears to be coming from the Wall Street-owned and operated New Dems, who are getting behind one of Congress' slimiest Democrats, Sean Patrick Maloney. Luján is offering some "reforms" to boost enthusiasm for his reelection bid.
If re-elected, Luján said he plans to increase member involvement in the committee’s operations, including upping lawmaker-driven recruitment of Democratic candidates. The New Mexico Democrat said he’d also make the DCCC more transparent-- a long running complaint of members who say the committee staff is only beholden to leadership-- and look at overhauling polling operations.
Probably not going to win any extra seats but it will flatter some members. Luján wrote in a letter to all members that "We have honed in on critical improvements that can be made to form a more inclusive messaging strategy, the need for more member-driven recruitment, and an interest in setting up a regional structure to better tap the expertise of our members." Yeah, yeah, yeah... They'll never win back the House with this kind of bullshit.

We've been covering corrupt conservative Sean Patrick Maloney since he was first elected in 2012. Aside from doing his call-time from the offices of a hedge fund, the bankster-oriented Maloney-- who's taken an astronomical $2,092,300 from the Finance Sector in the past 4 years-- has consistently voted against the best interests of his own constituents to back Wall Street and corporate special interests. He's gay and votes well on LGBT issues, but that's about it. ProgressivePunch grades him an "F" and his crucial vote score is a realy dismal 45.19, indicating that he votes most of the time with the Republicans against progressive solutions. In January-- until right-wing Democrats like Lou Correa start voting-- Maloney will rank as the 5th worst Democrat in the House. The only Democrats with worse scores are 4 really execrable Blue Dogs who should be unceremoniously kicked out of the party: Jim Costa (CA), Collin Peterson (MN), Henry Cuellar (TX) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ). Maloney should be too but instead the New Dems are organizing an effort to use him to capture the DCCC... back to my earlier thought about how when you want change, you better hope it's change for the better, not change for the worse.

"[R]umors of his bid, reported Heather Caygle for Politico, "have been swirling since he spoke about the importance of the campaign committee during a morning caucus meeting on Thursday... He was seen working the floor during a series of House votes Thursday evening and huddled with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi for a long time after. Pelosi and Maloney were the last Democrats seen leaving the chamber."
[O]ne Democratic aide said Maloney might have a hard time convincing members to vote for him considering how competitive his district is to win and what that would mean for the time commitments required to lead the DCCC.

“He has spent his entire career in Congress telling his colleagues how difficult his district is to win,” the aide said. “He’s undermined himself over the years because I think people will be hesitant to put someone at the helm of the DCCC who has a hard time holding their own seat.”
Arizona liberal Ruben Gallego, who voted against reelecting Pelosi this week, has been backing Luján, who he insists "is a strong candidate and despite the outcome, a lot of things were out of his control... I like the idea of having somebody who’s from a rural area, who understands what it means to live in rural America, where we need to pick up more votes. I like the fact that he understands also the Latino voter, which is a growing electorate. I think those two combinations make him a very strong DCCC chair candidate and I think he should do it again."

Sad. And Gallego isn't the only one. The first corrupt slimy New Dem to back Ryan against Pelosi was Long Island conservative Kathleen Rice and she's fine with Luján but isn't happy about what she calls the DCCC's lack of accountability. "We’re here now, three weeks post-Election Day, and we have not done a post-mortem on what went wrong." She should read DownWithTyranny's recent DCCC posts if she wants to know what went wrong. Pathé reported that Rice and other Democrats coming out of Wednesday’s leadership election said they know of members who already don’t pay their dues out of frustration with the way the DCCC is run. 
“I paid my dues, but I didn’t give a penny more,” Rice said.

“I’ll tell you, it bothered me to have to write a six-figure check to an organization that I didn’t know where they were going to spend that money,” Rice said. She preferred to give directly to vulnerable members and Red to Blue recruits.

Sitting in what was rated a safe Democratic seat before the election, Minnesota Rep. Tim Walz had one of the closest elections of any incumbent Democrat this year. He won by less than a point. What’s striking to him is that no one at the DCCC or in leadership has asked him how he won a district that Hillary Clinton lost.

“I think they’re doing as a good a job as you can do,” Walz said of the DCCC. “But the point is, we just kind of hope they do a good job. There’s no feedback.”

He opposed Pelosi for leader and supports electing the DCCC chairman to increase transparency and member engagement.

“I don’t think there’s the buy-in,” Walz said of members who don’t pay dues because they feel they don’t have a say.

Oregon Rep. Kurt Schrader, co-chairman of the Blue Dog Coalition, echoed that members won’t want to pay their dues if they don’t feel they’re being represented at the DCCC.

“The people that are chosen to run the DCCC don’t represent the Blue Dog districts we need to win,” he said.

Much of the angst toward the DCCC that has emerged from frustrated members seems to be with a staff they think is handpicked by Pelosi, too. Gallego said that’s been one of his main complaints to Luján.

Asked what specifically needs to change at the DCCC, whether with the structure or the staff, Rice said she’d like the decision-making to be more transparent.

“Look, if a private company were run this way, the head of that company would have been out six years ago,” she said.
The interview HuffPo published this morning by Jennifer Bendry with Pelosi was a little disingenuous-- or delusional. Dusting off a decade old "playbook" isn't going to win back the House-- unless they have the dirt of some Republican congressman fiddling with underage congressional pages the way they did in 2006. I have no doubt, though, that the DCCC will once again do in 2016 what they did in 2006-- and every year since-- namely recruit a bunch of Republican fence-jumpers and Republican-lite candidates to masquerade as Democrats, win some seats, vote with the GOP and lose the seats two years hence. It's the only trick Pelosi DCCCs know how to do. And they can't seem to learn it's a fucking disaster every time they do it.

The one aspect I think Pelosi has about right is that they can expect Trump to cock things up for the GOP-- bigly-- as badly as Bush did between 2004 and 2006. But that isn't a strategy for winning back House seats. The Democrats have to have something to offer voters that will improve their lives or voters will continue hating their guts. Luckily for the Democrats, Ryan is likely to go into major overreach mode and if he does it in terms of Social Security and Medicare, not even Pelosi, Luján and their incompetent DCCC staff will be able to prevent the Democrats from winning some seats-- or, more precisely, their incompetence will fail to keep the Republicans from losing seats.

By the way, right-wing nut and Blue Dog chairman Kurt Schrader, speaking to reporters after Pelosi was reelected, said "I’m very concerned we just signed the Democratic Party’s death certificate." Bernie won his district in the Oregon primary-- by a lot-- but the Bernie voters didn't bother voting for Dave McTeague, the Berniecrat primarying Schrader, who lost 72.6% to 27.4%. You go, you awesome Berniecrat geniuses! Tulsi Gabbard is your gal!

Notice that almost all of the public complaints about the DCCC are coming from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party-- the Blue Dogs and New Dems who have muddied up the party's brand with their support for the NRA, their opposition to women's Choice, their zombie-embrace of the Wall Street agenda and their political cowardice in standing up to Republicans. Where's the Progressive Caucus? Oh, yeah... I forgot: installing Wall Street puppet Ro Khanna as one of their vice chairmen. (Khan, who isn't remotely a progressive but now represents a progressive district, was heavily financed by the banksters who hated Mike Honda. Khanna and Blue Dog Josh Gottheimer (NJ) got more money from the Finance Sector than any other non-incumbents running for House seats, $865,512 for Gottheimer and $860,451 for Khanna-- way more than most incumbents, let alone challengers. I don't think the Progressive Caucus members who allowed Khanna to join their caucus asked themselves why he got more money than any of them. After Gottheimer and Khanna, Wall Street's next big investment in a non-incumbent was Republican John Faso's race against Zephyr Teachout ($626,540). No other challengers from either party got half a million from the banksters. They know what they're doing and what kind of scumbags and garbage they're buying. And now Ro Khanna is a vice chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Go figure! This mailer was sent out by the new Progressive Caucus vice chair to denigrate Mike Honda:

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Friday, December 02, 2016

There Are Going To Be Special Elections Coming Up-- Here's One In L.A. For Xavier Becerra's Seat


CA-34-- Perez and Gomez

Xavier Becerra was first elected to Congress in 1992 and, until yesterday he was the 4th-ranking Democrat in the House leadership. He's a generally liberalish guy, charismatic, polished, more often on the side of the angels than the rest of the House leadership. Coincidental with his last day as Democratic Party Caucus Chair, Jerry Brown appointed him to fill the Attorney General vacancy created by Kamala Harris' election to the U.S. Senate. Attorney General is probably the second most important state job in California, after governor. From what I'm hearing, Gov. Brown wanted a place-holder and Becerra wants to run for Senate in 2018 (Feinstein's seat, whether she's in it-- unlikely-- or not. She'll be just about to turn 86 when when the next Senate is seated.) Having a statewide, high-profile job gives Becerra the leg-up he needs to run and win. Fine; I don't see anyone better thinking about running anyway.

Now, what about his seat? The special election primary is scheduled for March 7th and the special election runoff will be May 9th. CA-34-- just a few blocks from my house-- is a densely populated, compact, urban district that includes-- for those familiar with Los Angeles-- Boyle Heights in the southeast, the downtown core from the Fashion District through the Financial District, right through Chinatown. The southwest of the district is Koreatown and a bit of the less gentrified part of Echo Park/Angelino Heights, all of Mount Washington, Eagle Rock, Highland Park, El Sereno, Lincoln Heights. On the east it borders on South Pasadena, Alhambra and Monterey Park. The district is about 67% Latino, 19% Asian. Whites make up less than 10% and, with a medium income of $34,752, it's one of the poorest congressional districts in the country-- 422nd out of 435. Parts of the district are rapidly gentrifying and I'd predict that after the next census the medium income will have increased very substantially.

All that said, Romney got a mere 14% in 2012. Locally, Republicans don't even bother to run candidates. Becerra was just reelected with 78.2% of the vote and his opponent was another Democrat. Within minutes of it becoming public that Brown had tapped Becerra for the A.G. gig, former Assembly Speaker John Pérez sent out a press release saying he had already filed. (Becerra had tipped off Villaraigosa who is behind Pérez's run in a big way, prep for his own gubernatorial campaign.) There is no question that Pérez is the establishment pick. The endorsements were ready immediately: congressmembers Karen Bass and Ted Lieu, Controller Betty Yee, ex-Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, of course... He's generally progressive in a California establishment kind of way. He's openly gay to boot.

His likeliest opponents will be Gloria Molina, City Councilman José Huizar or Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez (who will probably announce Monday). Jimmy's a guy with a load of street cred, a grassroots organizer who was just reelected to his Assembly seat with 86.4% of the vote, a district that includes most of the congressional district, from Boyle Heights through Chinatown to Eagle Rock.

Before the above PPP survey leaked out a few hours ago all the smart money was on Pérez. But if Gomez or Huizar decides to run, it looks like either could have a reasonable shot at beating Pérez. Also, keep in mind that lately Los Angeles voters have been uncharacteristically thumbling their noses at the candidates the establishment tries to shove down their throats, so... this could be exciting. It will, in the words of one top union operative, be a "bloody street fight." Now... here's another point of view, different from mine and worth taking into account:

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How Much Of A Scam Was Trump's Carrier Announcement Yesterday?


"Trump, who lost the popular vote, has now sent the message it is open season for massive corporations to seek specialized tax breaks from the incoming Administration. This is crony capitalism at its worst. Trump is not only failing to drain the swamp, he is fertilizing the swamp."
-Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA)
In reference to what Gaius was talking about this morning, let's look at some of the fallout from Trump's Carrier announcement. The first time I ever heard about Carrier announcing they would move their plant from Indiana to Mexico was when Bernie started campaigning on it-- loudly. Trump saw that too and quickly started parroting Bernie's complaints on the the campaign trail. Yesterday Bernie penned an OpEd for the Washington Post, Carrier just showed corporations how to beat Donald Trump, warning that American workers have a lot to be worried about because of the nature of the deal Trump cut with United Technologies, Carrier's parent company (in which Trump holds an immense financial stake personally). The deal, he writes, "keeps less than 1,000 of the 2100 jobs in America that were previously scheduled to be transferred to Mexico. Let’s be clear: It is not good enough to save some of these jobs. Trump made a promise that he would save all of these jobs, and we cannot rest until an ironclad contract is signed to ensure that all of these workers are able to continue working in Indiana without having their pay or benefits slashed."

In exchange for allowing United Technologies to continue to offshore more than 1,000 jobs, Trump will reportedly give the company tax and regulatory favors that the corporation has sought. Just a short few months ago, Trump was pledging to force United Technologies to “pay a damn tax.” He was insisting on very steep tariffs for companies like Carrier that left the United States and wanted to sell their foreign-made products back in the United States. Instead of a damn tax, the company will be rewarded with a damn tax cut. Wow! How’s that for standing up to corporate greed? How’s that for punishing corporations that shut down in the United States and move abroad?

In essence, United Technologies took Trump hostage and won. And that should send a shock wave of fear through all workers across the country.

Trump scores publicity win after Carrier keeps jobs in Indiana. Now will other companies take advantage?

...Trump has endangered the jobs of workers who were previously safe in the United States. Why? Because he has signaled to every corporation in America that they can threaten to offshore jobs in exchange for business-friendly tax benefits and incentives. Even corporations that weren’t thinking of offshoring jobs will most probably be re-evaluating their stance this morning. And who would pay for the high cost for tax cuts that go to the richest businessmen in America? The working class of America.

Let’s be clear. United Technologies is not going broke. Last year, it made a profit of $7.6 billion and received more than $6 billion in defense contracts. It has also received more than $50 million from the Export-Import Bank and very generous tax breaks. In 2014, United Technologies gave its former chief executive Louis Chenevert a golden parachute worth more than $172 million. Last year, the company’s five highest-paid executives made more than $50 million. The firm also spent $12 billion to inflate its stock price instead of using that money to invest in new plants and workers.

Does that sound like a company that deserves more corporate welfare from our government? Trump’s Band-Aid solution is only making the problem of wealth inequality in America even worse.

I said I would work with Trump if he was serious about the promises he made to members of the working class. But after running a campaign pledging to be tough on corporate America, Trump has hypocritically decided to do the exact opposite. He wants to treat corporate irresponsibility with kid gloves. The problem with our rigged economy is not that our policies have been too tough on corporations; it’s that we haven’t been tough enough.

We need to re-instill an ethic of corporate patriotism. We need to send a very loud and clear message to corporate America: The era of outsourcing is over. Instead of offshoring jobs, the time has come for you to start bringing good-paying jobs back to America.

If United Technologies or any other company wants to keep outsourcing decent-paying American jobs, those companies must pay an outsourcing tax equal to the amount of money it expects to save by moving factories to Mexico or other low-wage countries.  They should not receive federal contracts or other forms of corporate welfare. They must pay back all of the tax breaks and other corporate welfare they have received from the federal government. And they must not be allowed to reward their executives with stock options, bonuses or golden parachutes for outsourcing jobs to low-wage countries. I will soon be introducing the Outsourcing Prevention Act, which will address exactly that.

If Donald Trump won’t stand up for America’s working class, we must.
As Joshua Holland pointed out at The Nation this week, whenTrump promised to get tough with companies that offshore jobs, he never said anything about buying them off with our tax dollars. And this isn't just about Carrier air conditioners, which Trump sued in 2007 because of air-conditioner malfunctions in one of his hotels. The single biggest customer for United Technology's $56 billion business is the U.S. government. Trump may have saved a few hundred jobs-- it won't even be a thousand-- but at what cost? Yesterday's Indie Star's headline told the whole story: Federal access likely biggest factor in Carrier deal.

State Rep. Kaniela Saito Ing (D-Maui) is certainly the most progressive political leader in Hawaii-- and the only progressive elected official in the whole state to back Bernie's hugely successful primary campaign-- and he saw right through the little ploy. "Trump," he told us after the announcement in Indiana yesterday, "is setting a dangerously low standard for corporate handouts. Threaten your workers with offshoring, exploit them as pawns, then watch the business-friendly corporate tax breaks roll in. The Carrier charade is an anti-worker moral hazard, that voids corporate bosses of all accountability. A true pro-worker agenda starts from the ground up through living and prevailing wage laws, collective bargaining, paid leave, and putting an end to Trump's union-busting agenda."

Retired Marine Colonel Doug Applegate, who nearly toppled predatory multimillionaire Darrell Issa this month in the suburbs north of San Diego-- and who is Blue America's first endorsed candidate for 2018-- took one look at Trump's "deal" and mentioned that "the annual tax rebates to Carrier from the State of Indiana in the amount of $700,000... Sounds like Republican corporate welfare checks to me!"

Even today's Wall Street Journal, a bastion of neo-liberalism with a screwed up but internally consistent way of analyzing this whole thing, looked askance at the clumsy, ineffective way Trump went about this.
[R]eal job security depends on the profitability of the business. Carrier wanted to move the production line to Mexico to stay competitive in the market for gas furnaces. If the extra costs of staying in Indianapolis erode that business, those workers will lose their jobs eventually in any case.

This isn’t to fault Mr. Hayes’s decision, since Mr. Trump made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. The state of Indiana threw in $7 million in tax incentives, but those weren’t decisive. Mr. Trump’s real hammer is his threat to impose a tariff on Carrier imports to the U.S. Carrier has a 30% share of the U.S. gas-furnace market, and a 35% tariff could kill the business. That’s the same sword Mr. Trump previously held over Ford Motor Co.

United Technologies also gets about 10% of its revenue from sales to the Pentagon, another source of government leverage. Then there’s the potential damage to the Carrier brand, especially its consumer air conditioner sales, if Mr. Trump decided to blast it from the bully-- and we mean bully-- pulpit. So United Technologies decided to take the small cost against earnings and invest to make the Indiana plant more competitive.

...A mercantilist Trump trade policy that jeopardized those exports would throw far more Americans out of work than the relatively low-paying jobs he’s preserved for now in Indianapolis. Mr. Trump’s Carrier squeeze might even cost more U.S. jobs if it makes CEOs more reluctant to build plants in the U.S. because it would be politically difficult to close them.

Mr. Trump has now muscled his way into at least two corporate decisions about where and how to do business. But who would you rather have making a decision about where to make furnaces or cars? A company whose profitability depends on making good decisions, or a branding executive turned politician who wants to claim political credit?

The larger point is that America won’t become more prosperous by forcing companies to make noneconomic investments. A nation gets rich when individuals and business are allowed to take risks as they see fit in a competitive economy. Politicians are rotten investors. Mr. Trump would help the economy, and his Presidency, far more if he focuses on getting the pro-growth parts of his agenda through Congress.

Like the Nixon Administration, Donald Trump’s unpredictable, non-ideological policy-making will sometimes be disorienting for those who claim to believe in free markets. Some conservatives will be tempted to tolerate bad policies that appear to be popular that they’d never accept from President Obama. Many Republicans stayed silent or supported Nixon as he imposed wage-and-price controls and created the EPA, only to regret it later. They shouldn’t make the same mistake with Mr. Trump.

The better strategy is to support him when his policies promote growth and try to block him when he veers into big-government cul-de-sacs. In that spirit, his Carrier shakedown is a short-term political victory that will hurt workers and the economy if it becomes the norm for the next four years.
Even Palin-- currently sucking around for a Cabinet appointment-- slapped Trump around today over the Carrier nonsense, calling it crony capitalism. "When government steps in arbitrarily with individual subsidies," she wrote, "favoring one business over others, it sets inconsistent, unfair, illogical precedent. Meanwhile, the invisible hand that best orchestrates a free people’s free enterprise system gets amputated. Then, special interests creep in and manipulate markets. Republicans oppose this, remember? Instead, we support competition on a level playing field, remember? Because we know special interest crony capitalism is one big fail... [F]undamentally, political intrusion using a stick or carrot to bribe or force one individual business to do what politicians insist, versus establishing policy incentivizing our ENTIRE ethical economic engine to roar back to life, isn’t the answer. Cajole only chosen ones on Main St or Wall St and watch lines stretch from Washington to Alaska full of businesses threatening to bail unless taxpayers pony up. The lines strangle competition and really, really, dispiritingly screw with workers’ lives. It’s beyond unacceptable, so let’s anticipate equal incentivizes and positive reform all across the field-- to make the economy great again."

Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, is happy for the workers who will get to keep their jobs-- fewer than half-- but pointed out that "the Carrier deal is only a bandage on the economic wounds in our industrial heartland. Over the past 16 years, America has lost more than 60,000 manufacturing facilities, and 5.5 million manufacturing jobs since 2000. Not all of those jobs can be reclaimed, but smarter policies will give factory workers a brighter future. A tougher trade policy, a tax code that incentivizes reshoring jobs and production, investments in infrastructure, research, and training are all urgently needed. America has manufacturing know-how, abundant energy resources, a culture of entrepreneurship, a strong homegrown consumer market, and access to amazing innovation. Smarter policies will help us compete. We know these issues enjoy bipartisan support among voters, and they should be the focus of Congress and the Trump administration in 2017."

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Ian Welsh suggests, "Maybe It Is Time To Stop Underestimating Trump?" -- and Steve Bannon too


Andy B. strikes again -- and note especially
the "Carol Foyer" fake-quote at the end

NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report) -- A once-prominent political career came to a shocking end on Friday as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was arrested for keying the limo of President-elect Donald J. Trump.

The incident, which rocked political circles in Trenton and Washington, happened in full view of the midtown-Manhattan crowds outside of Trump Tower, where the vandalized limo had been parked.

“Suddenly, this guy broke through security, whipped out his keys, and made a gigantic gash along the side of the limo,” said Harland Dorrinson, a tourist from Missouri who witnessed the incident. “Police started wrestling him to the ground, and I was, like, ‘Holy crap, that’s Chris Christie.’ ”

Fellow-Republicans reacted to Christie’s arrest with sadness and sympathy. “This whole transition period has been tough on a lot of folks,” former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney said.

Across New Jersey, residents like Carol Foyler, of Teaneck, said that they were shocked by their governor’s spectacular fall. “I never would have guessed that this would be the thing he’d go to jail for,” she said.

"Trump’s opposition will continue getting their asses handed to them if they keep assuming that he’s a boob, or that he can’t take good advice. He’s a very savvy operator, and the people he trusts most, Bannon and Kushner, are extraordinarily competent men who have proved their loyalty."
-- Ian Welsh, in "Maybe It Is Time To Stop
Underestimating Trump?
" (Wednesday)

"Bannon, for all he is decried as a racist, is the person you want to win most of the Trump White House fights, at least if you care about ordinary people, because he’s the guy who wants ordinary Americans to do well, and he knows he needs Hispanics and Blacks to get jobs too. . . . Bannon is right that if the Trump White House can deliver for enough people, they get to rule DC and America for 50 years. . . .

"This is going to be a very interesting White House and administration, just because Trump does not have decided views on a lot of issues. Who wins the internal fights will determine the entire course of Trump’s presidency, and may well determine America’s (and the world’s) future for decades.

"Place your bets and don’t underestimate these people."

-- Ian, in "Don't Underestimate Steve Bannon" (Thursday)

by Ken

Okay, enough fun with Andy B. Now down to business, in the form of Ian Welsh's posts from the last two days, referenced above. The thing to do, really, would be just to encourage you to read the whole posts at the links, in chronological order -- Trump first, then Bannon. I'm going to blunder ahead anyway, but really Ian deserves to make his case(s) his own way (and while you're on his site, don't forget pondering kicking in some $$$ to help enable him to continue giving us his distinctive perspective on, you know, stuff.)

In recommending these posts, I realize that the first danger is readers assuming that Ian is endorsing whatever it is that President The Donald decides to do, failing to make the fairly obvious distinction between saying that the guy is extremely competent and usually gets what he goes after and saying that he's an agent of goodness. So let's go first to the "qualifier":
Trump just convinced Carrier to keep some manufacturing jobs in the US (by bribing them with tax cuts, it seems).  That sort of high profile personal intervention will be remembered, and has already said to his followers “I’m delivering for you”.

Trump is clearly a very flawed individual, with really questionable morals and ethics, but he isn’t incompetent by any useful definition of the word.  He may well wind up betraying his followers, certainly many of his cabinet picks are of deeply dubious individuals who favor policies which will hurt the working and middle classes.

But that doesn’t make him incompetent, that makes him -- a politician and a sleazy, but very good, salesman.
So what is it that this is qualifying?
I keep seeing people talking about how stupid Trump is.

It is certainly true that Trump is not book-smart.  He probably wouldn’t score well on an IQ test.

But by now, it should be clear, except to functional idiots, that Trump is very good at getting what he wants.

This is a man who shits into a gold toilet.  Who has slept with a succession of models.  Yeah, he’s a sleazy predator, but he gets what he wants.

He won the primary and the election. He won the election spending half as much money as Clinton did. Yes, she won the popular vote total: that’s irrelevant.  He won where he needed to win to get the Presidency.

He played the media like a maestro, getting a ton of coverage, of the subjects he wanted covered when he wanted them covered.
After making clear his feelings about Trump's principles and beliefs (whatever they are), Ian gets to the point I've already quoted above, which seems worth repeating:
Trump’s opposition will continue getting their asses handed to them if they keep assuming that he’s a boob, or that he can’t take good advice. He’s a very savvy operator, and the people he trusts most, Bannon and Kushner, are extraordinarily competent men who have proved their loyalty.
"What Trump doesn’t have," Ian writes, "is very firm policy opinions,"
and wonkish centrists and lefties think that makes him stupid, and that that type of stupid is the same thing as incompetent.

Trump stands a decent chance of juicing the economy even as he chops away at is remaining underpinnings through his tax cuts. If he does so, he will be re-elected.

I’d be careful betting against him.


Ian cautions: "Don't underestimate these people."

In yesterday's post Ian took a closer look at Steve Bannon, and what he sees there isn't, or isn't just, what most of us have been focusing on.
First I told you not to underestimate Trump (well, I’ve told you repeatedly), now I’m going to tell you not to underestimate Bannon, his chief strategist, rewarded for supporting him thru everything from Breitbart.  Here’s Bannon:
“The globalists gutted the American working class and created a middle class in Asia. The issue now is about Americans looking to not get fucked over. If we deliver we’ll get 60 percent of the white vote, and 40 percent of the black and Hispanic vote and we’ll govern for 50 years. That’s what the Democrats missed. They were talking to these people with companies with a $9 billion market cap employing nine people. It’s not reality. They lost sight of what the world is about.”
Pretty much. Now, it was not necessary to gut the American working class to create a middle class in Asia, there were win/win ways to alleviate poverty outside the developed world without fucking working class Europeans and Americans and so on over. But those ways were not possible under neoliberalism.
"That point is important," Ian says, "but irrelevant to what Bannon is saying."
The way the world economy was run completely fucked a lot of people in America, the EU, Canada, Australia and elsewhere and Bannon is right that if the Trump White House can deliver for enough people, they get to rule DC and America for 50 years, like the Dems did from 1932 to 1980 (yeah, there were Republicans, they governed as Democrats.)
If Ian is right about Bannon's agenda, and if he can persuade the boss to let him do it, there's a lot he can do which will be felt in a good way by voters, especially if he can take advantage of "easy money from the Fed."
Trump will get to replace most Fed governors, fairly soon, so he can certainly have a compliant Federal Reserve. Bear in mind that [following the 2008 economic meltdown] the Fed gave away trillions of dollars, and was giving away tens of billions a month for years.  That money is an available slush fund for anyone smart enough to use it to do more than bail out bankers.

Bannon, I suspect, is smart enough. 80 billion a month can buy a lot of jobs if you use it effectively, which Obama’s Fed never did.
Ian argues that there are other tools President Trump can use which may produce results noticeable in "flyover country," so dangerously undertracked by most of us during the election. "Contrary to what mainstream economists (over 90% of whom, I remind you, did not notice the housing bubble) say," he writes,
Trump can use tariffs to bring a lot of jobs back.  The manufacturer of iPhones (FoxConn) has already said, sure, they’re willing to build them in the US.  They aren’t going to kiss a market like that goodbye.
But there's a crucial "but" here:
But Trump’s tax cutting instincts work against this.  Cutting taxes for corporations isn’t as effective as tariffs, because corporations already pay very low taxes, and multinationals pay damn near none, since they play various jurisdictions off against each other.
So Bannon's economic agenda may run up against his boss's impulses. "If you’re a partisan Democrat first," Ian concludes, "and don’t give a fuck about the working class and middle class, especially in flyover country,"
then Bannon needs to lose his fights, because if he wins them, Trump gets elected again (though, as I note, I don’t think Bannon gets his 50 years, unless he’s far more clever even than he’s so far indicated (not impossible).

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Sanders: "United Technologies Took Trump Hostage and Won"


"You think you're so clever and classless and free..."
(so many versions, so little time)

by Gaius Publius

This matters, both the Carrier settlement itself (how it was achieved) and the Sanders pushback against it. Let's start with Sanders, then go to the settlement. Sanders writes (my bolded emphasis):
Bernie Sanders: Carrier just showed corporations how to beat Donald Trump

We need a president who can stand up to big corporations, not fold to their demands.

Today, about 1,000 Carrier workers and their families should be rejoicing. But the rest of our nation’s workers should be very nervous.

President-elect Donald Trump will reportedly announce a deal with United Technologies, the corporation that owns Carrier, that keeps less than 1,000 of the 2100 jobs in America that were previously scheduled to be transferred to Mexico. Let’s be clear: It is not good enough to save some of these jobs. Trump made a promise that he would save all of these jobs, and we cannot rest until an ironclad contract is signed to ensure that all of these workers are able to continue working in Indiana without having their pay or benefits slashed.

In exchange for allowing United Technologies to continue to offshore more than 1,000 jobs, Trump will reportedly give the company tax and regulatory favors that the corporation has sought. Just a short few months ago, Trump was pledging to force United Technologies to “pay a damn tax.” He was insisting on very steep tariffs for companies like Carrier that left the United States and wanted to sell their foreign-made products back in the United States. Instead of a damn tax, the company will be rewarded with a damn tax cut. Wow! How’s that for standing up to corporate greed? How’s that for punishing corporations that shut down in the United States and move abroad?

In essence, United Technologies took Trump hostage and won. And that should send a shock wave of fear through all workers across the country.
Or, as Politico succinctly put it, "Carrier tariff now Carrier tax cut?" Trump went toe-to-toe with United Technology, and lost.

Trump As Enabler of Offshoring

This is a 180 degree reversal and he's not even in office yet. But Sanders is exactly right:
Trump has endangered the jobs of workers who were previously safe in the United States. Why? Because he has signaled to every corporation in America that they can threaten to offshore jobs in exchange for business-friendly tax benefits and incentives. Even corporations that weren’t thinking of offshoring jobs will most probably be re-evaluating their stance this morning. And who would pay for the high cost for tax cuts that go to the richest businessmen in America? The working class of America.
Sanders closes: "I will soon be introducing the Outsourcing Prevention Ac [details here]t, which will address exactly that. If Donald Trump won’t stand up for America’s working class, we must."

Some working class hero Trump turned out to be. I guess we're still peasants after all.

The "Deal"

A little more detail on the so-called "deal." They say "1000 jobs" were saved, but of those only 800 were originally at risk. Plus, 1300 jobs will still move to Mexico.

From The Hill:
The company that owns Carrier will receive $7 million worth of tax breaks over 10 years from Indiana to keep 1,000 jobs in the state, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

Carrier confirmed the news Thursday in a statement, writing that the deal is contingent upon factors including employment, job retention and capital investment.

The company this week reached a deal with President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence to keep the jobs in the state, after announcing earlier this year it would shut down a plant in Indianapolis and move manufacturing to Mexico. ...

The deal would cover 800 workers from the Indianapolis furnace plant and an additional 300 research and headquarters positions that weren't planned to go to Mexico, according to the Journal.

But 600 jobs will still move from Indianapolis to Mexico.

Carrier also still plans to close a second plant in Huntington, Ind., shifting another 700 jobs to Mexico.
More detail via the WSJ (subscripton required): 
Carrier has previously said it expected to save about $65 million a year by shutting the plant and shifting its operations to Monterrey, in the state of Nuevo León, where wages average about $11 a day, plus benefits. The average wage of the Indiana jobs that will be retained is $30 an hour, according to a document reviewed by the Journal.
In case that didn't sink in, Indian-to-Mexico wages shift $30 per hour to $11 per day. That's why we can't have nice jobs, or at least decent paying ones. How much of that savings, do you think, would have ended up in the executive suite, via stock buybacks, sweetened salaries and bonuses, and "golden parachutes"? Answer, as much as possible.

Plus $7 million in tax breaks. Unless some of it is federal, all will come out of the pockets of cash-strapped Indiana and its (largely Trump-voting) tax-payers.

Why This Is Important

First, Bernie Sanders is right — Trump sold out his voters in Indiana. Second, Sanders is saying this out loud and getting lots of attention for it, which means the sound of Sanders analysis is likely playing in Trump's ears right now, and hopefully in the ears of his Sanders-tempted supporters as well.

Which ought to put Trump on the defensive and keep real systemic solutions to corporate America's outsourcing addiction alive. Remember, the problem that got Trump elected isn't going away until cash-strapped citizens — not corporations — get relief they can see, feel and spend. Under Trump, that's not going to happen.

Which means, there's hope after all.

"Working Class Hero"

Trump may not be a working class hero, but Sanders is, and so was John Lennon. Here's the original version. Enjoy:

Fun with music theory: One of the things that makes this song so interesting, so not a "four-square" song, is its phrase length. Each phrase — each line in the verse or chorus — occupies seven measures of music, not eight. It's why you feel off-balance as you listen, like the lines end too soon or restart too quickly. Count if you like; each measure is three beats long, so they're easy to identify. Be sure to stop at seven and restart at one. Very good song-writing from a master at it.


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Pelosi Surrenders-- Agrees To Allow Democratic Members A Vote On DCCC Chairmen-- Will Anyone Good Run?


No more of this choreographed failure

After a decade of abject failure-- in strategy, tactics, messaging and, of course, results-- House Democrats will no longer allow Pelosi to select her pets to chair the DCCC but will elect the chair of their campaign arm, just the way the Republicans do. One progressive congressman told me she worries that this will mean whoever bribes the most members will get the gig and she suggested that if Wasserman Schultz wants it, being the sleaziest plausible member of the caucus, she could have it. Another member just sent me this e-mail:
It's not a real election. Pelosi promised it to some dissidents but pushing immediate vote. Inside BS.
Thanks, believe it or not, to Sean Patrick Murphy and Joe Crowley, there won't be an immediate vote, since they agreed that an alternative candidate needed a chance to identify himself or herself and make a case for change. Like Steve Israel, Chris Van Hollen and Rahm Emanuel, the latest incarnation, Ben Ray Luján, who is already running for the job, has been a complete disaster, entirely not up to the job on any level. So far the progressives haven't come up with an alternative. I spoke with a dozen people since the decision was announced and no one wanted to take on the task. I'm sure that behind Crowley's and Murphy's decision is a plan to make sure the job goes to a New Dem. Mark my words.

But so far no one is talking about a contract-with-America type messaging effort. No one is talking about mastering the intricacies of new online advertising opportunities. No one is talking about a 24 month, targeted voter registration drive. No one is talking about how to root out the endemic revolving door corruption that literally defines the last decade of DCCC failure. And no one is talking about the dangers of Rahm Emanuel and Steve Israel's diktat that the default situation for recruiting candidates is easily corruptible, self-funding Republican-lite dullards.

Instead, one congressman told me, "this is going to be another damn personality contest unrelated to vision... [or] ability to get a very serious, difficult job done." There was also a "battle" for Caucus vice chair that was won by Linda Sanchez (D-CA) over Barbara Lee (D-CA). Why the relatively unaccomplished Sanchez over the heroic and iconic Lee? "The CBC doesn't see strong progressives like Barbara Lee or, for that matter, Keith Ellison or Donna Edwards, as part of their crowd. The CBC didn't back Barbara," a congressman told me after the vote, "not the way the Hispanic Caucus got behind Sanchez. She just sits around and plays video games on her cell phone all day. I couldn't believe that vote! I heard Nancy let it be known to her closest supporters that with Becerra leaving the leadership, she wanted a Hispanic. That's the way she plays. More of that identity politics bullshit that's burying the party."

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Thursday, December 01, 2016

Talking The 2016 Post-Election Blues


-by Bruce Mulkey

On a warm Texas morning on Wednesday, November 3, 1948, I remember my mom, Sue Mulkey, a life-long Democrat, gleefully asking our next-door neighbor, “Well, how do you like our new president?” Defying the predictions of almost every pundit and pollster, President Harry Truman, who had succeeded to the presidency when FDR died, had won a full term, defeating Republican challenger Thomas Dewey in what some considered one of the greatest political upsets in American history. It was especially astounding when you consider that two Democratic factions split from the party: Henry Wallace, former vice president under FDR, ran as the Progressive Party’s presidential candidate, and Strom Thurman, governor of South Carolina, headed the Dixiecrat ticket. Sixty-eight years later, an electoral shockwave that would dwarf Truman’s surprising victory was unfolding before my eyes.

As I watched the returns start to trickle in on election night with Shonnie and our friend Carolyn, I kept saying, “The votes in the Democratic strongholds obviously haven’t come in yet. It’s just a matter of time before Hillary takes the lead in Florida.” But she didn’t. Not in Florida, nor in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Michigan, or Wisconsin. Given the almost all the polls had consistently shown Clinton leading, it was difficult to believe what was happening.

Disconsolate, I went to bed around midnight after it was clear that Donald Trump was on his way to becoming our next president. I woke up around 3:00 a.m. and fumbled around with my Kindle to see if a miracle had taken place, if some of the battleground states had flipped to the Democratic column. They hadn’t.

Let me be clear. I voted for Bernie Sanders in the North Carolina primary when hope was still alive that he could capture the Democratic nomination for president. I supported Sanders because I believed (and still believe) that he understood the necessity of addressing issues such as income inequality, lack of a living wage for many, our two-tiered justice system, institutional racism, the militarization of our police departments, world-wide militarism (800 military bases in more than 70 countries and territories abroad), government surveillance of U.S. citizens, and climate change.

In contrast, it’s evident to me that, over the past several decades, the Democratic establishment has tilted considerably to the right, and their chosen candidate, Hillary Clinton, qualified as she might be, epitomized that position on the political spectrum. Nowhere near the Republicans’ shift to the far right, but to the right of center nonetheless. Furthermore, Clinton’s sense of entitlement (It’s my turn.), the Clinton dynasty (So, now Chelsea is being groomed to run for Congress.), the Clinton’s relentless pursuit of the almighty dollar (current net worth estimated at over $100 million), and the DNC’s manipulations before and during the Democratic primaries to deliver the nomination to Clinton all made it challenging for me to get behind the Democratic candidate.

Nonetheless, I refrained from criticizing Hillary during the general election campaign and voted for her during early voting in North Carolina, though to be honest, mine was more a vote against Trump than a vote for Clinton. But what the hell, I thought, let’s elect a woman. We’re way past due. In addition, of course, I voted for the down-ticket Democrats, including Roy Cooper, North Carolina’s Governor-elect, and our local candidates for the state house and senate, Buncombe County Commission, and Register of Deeds, all of whom won.

Since Trump was declared the winner, my world has seemed surreal. I keep waking in the morning and remembering the election (“Holy shit, we really elected Trump?”) much as, a few decades ago, I’d wake up after an evening of serious drinking: (“Damn, I didn’t really say that, did I?”) I remembered Sinclair Lewis’s book It Can’t Happen Here, a novel written during the Great Depression about the tenuousness of democracy and how fascism could rear its ugly head in America. I fell into a funk from which I still haven’t fully recovered.

I’m amazed at how many folks believe that President-elect Donald Trump is brimming with high self-esteem. He is not. What Donald Trump demonstrates is pseudo-self-esteem. He unconsciously hides his fears, insecurities, and self-doubt behind a façade of hyper-masculinity, aggressiveness, belligerence, and hostility. If one were to strip away his macho mask, you’d find a scared little boy, albeit in the body of a man, who is unable to hear any thoughts that run counter to his, who meets resistance by striking back, who judges others as unworthy or less than him in order to conceal his deep fear that he himself is unworthy, incompetent, or even unlovable. Anyone or any action that might reveal his vulnerability will be met with ridicule, contempt, or even violence.

Of course, at his core, Trump is neither the blustering demagogue nor the frightened child. He is human. He is one of us. And while it may be easy to castigate Trump for his extremes, we can nonetheless acknowledge his humanity, while standing with people of color, women, LGBT people, Muslims, immigrants, the disabled, and other minorities. Nonetheless, in the midst of all of this, I sometimes find myself wondering if it really matters who the president of the United States is. Yes, the president has the bully pulpit, and beginning in 2017 a bona fide bully will occupy that pulpit, but much of what goes on in this nation does so despite who the president is.

A 2014 Princeton study that reviewed more than twenty years of data (that includes measures of the key variables for 1,779 policy issues) indicates that political leaders of both major political parties listen to the economic elites, business interests, and people who can afford lobbyists (all entities that fund their re-election campaigns) rather than the citizens who elected them. According to the study:

The preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.

We live in an oligarchy, a country run by the economic elite. No matter how popular a measure might be with the bottom ninety-percent of income earners in America, no matter which party holds the presidency or a majority in Congress, issues that are popular with the public-- such as federally-funded healthcare insurance for all Americans, regulating the prices of life-saving drugs, job creation, and effectively dealing with global warming, among others-- never see the light of day. Our government apparently doesn’t care what you think. Not unless you are willing to contribute excessive amounts of money to a politician’s campaign, an action that is tantamount to legalized bribery. In such a system, do you really think Congress, regardless of which political party holds a majority, will take action to deal with income inequality? To eliminate institutional racism? To provide our schools with the resources necessary to give our children a first-rate education? To support parents, especially during their children’s early years? To rein in military spending and our overseas misadventures? To effectively deal with climate change? The 2016 election has exposed the impotence of our two major political parties-- one which nominated a reality TV star, a man-child who would be king, the natural consequence of the Republicans’ decades-long practice of using bigotry and intolerance to court their adherents, and by doing so, exposed the dark underbelly of America-- the racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, and Islamophobia-- long denied. The other party refused to discern the mood of the electorate and nominated a candidate out of tune with the times primarily because she was next in line. The election also revealed the mainstream media, which covered Trump’s every move no matter how disgusting and wrote off Sanders early on as a kooky old socialist with wild hair, as a tentacle of the ruling elite that values stockholder profits over true journalism.

Perhaps this is the wake-up call many of us needed to awaken from our trance-like state, to disavow the bread and circuses, to abandon our quest for the next new shiny thing, to finally grasp that the ruling elite keeps us fighting among ourselves over table scraps while they make out like bandits. Perhaps it’s time to comprehend that no one on the white horse is coming to save us (no, not even Bernie), that we’re all in this together, that we must take responsibility for our lives and our communities, that it’s time for decisive action, to take to the streets in numbers that cannot be ignored, perhaps even to put our lives on the line... before it’s too late.

Bruce Mulkey is an essayist and author from Asheville, North Carolina. He is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, The Good Men Project, and OpEd News. Learn more at his website.

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Life Of Crime... And So On


This week, I had a call from Steve Knopper, a writer doing a story for Billboard, about how musicians may look at their responsibility to call attention to the political anomalies around Trump and Trumpism. I'll share that with you when it's published next week. Usually when people ask me if I'm involved in the music business any longer I just say "no" or, if I'm feeling garrulous, "no, thank God." In fact when Steve asked me a question for a post-Nirvana period book he's writing, all I could do was offer to talk about how in 1994, the midterm election after Bill Clinton's first victory, saw a loss of 54 Democratic House seats and the rise of Newt Gingrich... but that my mind was blank about anything to do with music of the period other than how we had a huge success with Candlebox in that period. He didn't seem interested in hearing that Ted Strickland, Jack Brooks, Dan Rostenkowski, Maria Cantwell, Jay Inslee, Speaker Tom Foley and Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky all lost their seats that year. Alas, who would be? That said, just hours later I got three music-related e-mails.

The first came from the producer of a film, Pitching Tents who is locking down the score and trailer and is eager to use a song my own little company publishes, "Teenage Underground" by the Red Rockers. Here listen:

I should have told Steve Knopper to call them about how singers and songwriters are going to react to Trump. You can probably guess how the Red Rockers would react. They also recorded Guns of Revolution, the song that persuaded me to sign them to my little indie label, and Dead Heroes. I did mention Bodycount to Steve. That was Ice-T's rock band that got into some trouble for their song, "Cop Killer." I was the executive producer. It's a little harsh but listen:

Why bring that up? That was the second e-mail. It was from a sociology professor at Cal State Long Beach telling me one of her students asked her to invite me to speak to her class about censorship. I'm going to.

The third e-mail was from Johnny Strike, who I haven't been in contact with in a couple of decades. He was one of the singer/guitar players in San Francisco's legendary punk rock pioneers, Crime. Crime was mostly Johnny plus Frankie Fix who I believe died about 20 years ago. But there were a delightful cast of characters over the years I lived in San Francisco who came and went from Crime and two of them-- Hank Rank and Joey D'Kaye-- are, according to Johnny's e-mail joining him in a new recording project, Naked Beast. LP out in 2017. I can't wait. Meanwhile, I didn't even realize that Johnny Strike is an author and has a new book out, Name of the Stranger. He described the new music as "Crimey but also experimental." Want to hear what "Crimey" sounds like? This is Crime's classic first single, "Hot Wire My Heart" b/w "Baby You're So Repulsive" from late 1976. This is what I used to play on my radio show:

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What Went Wrong In The Philly Area That Resulted In 20 Electoral Votes-- And The Presidency-- For Trump?


I've gotten a load of great questions about Monday's post, The Democrats' 2016 Strategic Failure-- Closeup: Texas And Pennsylvania, many of them focused not on Hillary's triumphs in the historically Republican suburbs around Houston, Austin and San Antonio but about what happened in the Philly collar counties. Not all the numbers on the precinct level (or even the congressional district level) are in yet, so give me a couple of months and I'll try to explain in greater depth why Hillary's strategy worked in places like blue California and red Texas and Georgia (yes... the Atlanta suburbs too!) where it did her no electoral college good, but failed her in-- sorry for the nomenclature-- "the rust belt."

So... as we saw Monday, Tom Price's congressional district in the suburbs north of Atlanta was a virtual dead heat between Hillary and Trump-- 47.7% to 47.5%. That's shocking, especially when you consider Romney beat Obama in those same GA-06 suburbs 61-37%. That's a swing! But what happened in southeast Pennsylvania? Varad Mehta, a historian and election analyst who lives in the Philly burbs, took a stab at explaining what happened with the 4 main collar counties yesterday.

Like Schumer, ADA and Team Clinton, he believed an outreach to wealthy, college-educated moderate Republicans and independents in the suburbs ("professionals"), would offset gains Trump would make as it became clear that Democrats were no longer prioritizing the plight and legitimate concerns of downscale working families. Schumer was elected Senate Democratic Leader not long after he said "For every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs in Philadelphia, and you can repeat that in Ohio and Illinois and Wisconsin ." As usual, Schumer was wrong-- wrong about Pennsylvania, wrong about Ohio and wrong about Wisconsin... he was probably wrong about Illinois as well, but it didn't matter one way or the other because the state is so blue and Clinton won it 55.4-39.4% (primarily by winning Cook County 74.4-21.4%). Anyway, here's Mehta's analysis for the Philly area. A more granular anlaysis of Bucks County than we were able to do Monday is extremely useful.

Barack Obama won Bucks County in 2012 by 4,000 votes. Hillary Clinton won Bucks County as well but her margin shrunk to 1,000 votes, a swing of 3,000 votes to Donald Trump. These raw totals however don’t tell the full story. Bristol Township, a heavily blue collar community (12% four-year college degrees) along the Delaware River swung to Trump by almost 4,200 votes, while Falls Township (21%) and Bensalem (27%) went red by 2,200 and 2,000 votes, respectively. Trump saw more modest but perceptible gains in numerous localities whose populations have a share of college-educated residents under 35%. On the other hand, Trump’s standing eroded in those parts of Bucks County with the highest share of residents with four-year degrees. Even in such places Trump won his margins diminished compared to Romney’s. Northampton Township (49% college-educated) remained red but swung 1,100 votes towards Clinton. Mitt Romney won Buckingham Township (58%) by 1,800 votes. Trump won it by just over 400, a shift of 1,300 towards Clinton. Obama won Newtown Township (61%) by ten votes over Romney. Clinton won it by 1,200.

Three municipalities exemplify Trump’s struggles with college-educated voters. Mitt Romney won Upper Makefield (the locality with the county’s highest share of college graduates [67%]) by 1,500 votes. Trump won it by just over 150, a swing of over 1,300 votes towards Clinton. Romney won Doylestown Township (49% bachelor’s degrees)  by 800 votes. Trump lost it 600, a shift of 1,400. The most dramatic pro-Clinton tilt occurred in Lower Makefield (just under 67%). Mitt Romney won it by just over 200 votes. Hillary Clinton won it by 2,900, a shift in her favor of 3,100.


A similar pattern plays out in Montgomery County, but on a much more extensive scale. When pundits forecast that Trump would lose Pennsylvania because of the Philadelphia suburbs, Montgomery County is what they had in mind: wealthy, white, and (over-)educated. They were right, too, as Trump managed to do a staggering 31,000 votes worse in MontCo than Romney did. Trump bled and bled and bled in MontCo. Compared to Trump’s 90,000-vote deficit, Romney’s arrears of 60,000 seems almost heroic. Twelve municipalities swung by a thousand votes or more towards Clinton, a baker’s dozen if you round up in a thirteenth. Lower Merion (76% college grads) stampeded towards Clinton to the tune of 7,700 votes. Upper Dublin (64%) experienced a blue shift of 2,600 votes. Whitpain (60%) swung by over 2,100 votes. The only reason there aren’t more four-figure swings towards Clinton is that there was very little left to squeeze in some places.


The most dramatic swing of suburban voters towards Clinton occurred in Chester County. Chester was the one collar county that Romney won, albeit by a slim margin of fewer than a thousand votes. Clinton took it by 25,000. Again the municipal results tell the story. Nearly 76 percent of Charlestown Township’s residents have four-year degrees. Mitt Romney won it by around 125 votes. This year it went for Hillary Clinton by almost 450, a swing of over 550 to her advantage. Romney won Birmingham Township (74%) by 600 votes. Clinton won it by over 120, a blue shift of over 700. Mitt Romney won East Bradford Township (68%) by 400, while Clinton won it by almost 650, a swing of over 1,000 votes to the Democratic nominee. Romney claimed East Goshen (57%) by 1,500 votes. Trump lost it by a handful. Romney won Easttown Township (75%) by approximately 800. Clinton took it by 1,000, a shift of 1,800 votes. The starkest example of the trend is Tredyffrin Township (76%). Romney lost it in 2012, but by a modest 600 votes. Trump, on the other hand, was crushed to the tune of 4,500 votes, for a total shift of nearly 3,900 votes in Clinton’s favor. All told, nine Chester County localities swung by four-digits towards Clinton, while over two dozen more shifted by three-digit margins. It all adds up to what was a slight GOP advantage in 2012 turning into a 25,000-vote deficit in 2016.


Completing our counter-clockwise tour of the Philadelphia collar, we come to Delaware County. Obama won it by around 60,000 votes in 2012 and Hillary won it by a little under 63,000. Like Bucks, though, Delco is something of a mixed bag because here too we find four-digit swings in both directions. Obama won Upper Chichester (24% bachelor’s degree or higher) by about 1,000 votes. Trump took it by about 100, a swing of 1,100 votes towards him. Ridley Township (23%) swung by 2,000 votes towards Trump. Obama beat Romney there by 800 votes; Trump beat Clinton by 1,200. There are various other municipalities where Trump improved on Romney’s performance by a few hundred votes. But Clinton benefited from a few that stampeded in her direction. Haverford (54%), which Obama and Clinton both won, saw a net shift of 3,100 votes towards Clinton. Radnor (71%), where Romney managed to keep his deficit under a thousand, saw Trump trounced by almost 4,500, a 3,500-vote improvement for Clinton. Romney barely took 600 votes in Swarthmore (80%), losing it by 2,100. But Trump managed to do even worse, getting just over 400 votes and losing by 2,700. It’s these smaller shifts that let Clinton improve by a couple thousand votes on Obama’s 2012 performance in Delaware County.

Mehta concludes, as we had, that Clinton did well enough in these counties as she needed to to make Schumer's delusion come true. Early polls had predicted a win for Clinton with as much as a 40% margin-- which would have given her the state and probably swept congressional candidates Steve Santisiero and Mary Ellen Balchunis into office. By election day polls were forecasting a still mammoth 20 point margin. That too was overly optimistic. "Obama," wrote Mehta, "won 690,000 votes in the Philly suburbs in 2012. Hillary Clinton received 729,000. Romney got 567,000. Trump dropped to 550,000. That’s a swing of 46,000 votes to Clinton. Perhaps suburban Philadelphians didn’t hate Trump, but they certainly didn’t like him much."

One problem with her strategy of appealing to these moderate Republicans and giving working class voters the short shrift was that "much of the advantage she accrued in the suburbs was wiped out in Philadelphia itself, a failure Democrats will rue for many years. Obama beat Romney there by 492,000 votes. Trump did only 10,000 votes better than Romney in the City of Brotherly Love (96,000 to 106,000), but Clinton received only 563,000 votes compared to Obama’s 588,000, a net swing of 35,000 towards the Republican candidate. Trump did worse in Philadelphia than John McCain, who lost the state, while Clinton did as well as John Kerry, who won... What Donald Trump demonstrated with this year’s electorate is that a historic turnout by white working class voters could be and in fact was-- contrary to the expectations of all but a handful of pundits-- sufficient to negate the Democrats’ traditional advantage in the Philadelphia region and put Pennsylvania in the GOP column for the first time since 1988."

That's something House Democrats will have to deal with now that they're finally rid of "messaging czar" Steve Israel, a Long Island Blue Dog who hates working class voters and is filled with racist prejudices that subtly skewered Democratic messaging away from the party base resulting in... well, 4 years of Trump/Pence and at least two more years of a Paul Ryan-led House. With Israel gone, there are no structural reasons why the Democrats shouldn't win back PA-06, PA-07 and PA-08, although by reelecting Pelosi yesterday-- and allowing her to reimpose incompetent Israel-clone Ben Ray Lujan as DCCC-- it will be a much tougher task than if Democrats had done the sensible thing and taken the DCCC out of her hands entirely, cleaned house over there and started fresh today.

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