Friday, July 21, 2017

Will Mueller Disappoint?

The Omnivore was told by his Trump-voting Twitter-friend that he (The Omnivore) would be very disappointed in the results of Mueller's investigation. Is that the case? What are the standards here? What does The Omnivore expect?

First Things First

Two somewhat disturbing stories came out yesterday: The administration is looking into its pardon-power and the administration is doing background checks on Mueller's team. These are disturbing in the context that the administration plans to fight the investigation tooth-and-nail, having deemed it a partisan witch-hunt.

It's not a partisan witch hunt. Mueller appeared largely because Trump shot himself in the foot with Comey by (a) firing him and then (b) telling NBC he fired him because Russia. Mueller's team makes it clear that he's taking it seriously--but if the standard is assumed that only Republican donors can investigate a Republican administration (or that law enforcement officials can never donate) then that creates a different, larger, set of problems.

Secondly, The Omnivore doesn't think that Trump was actually warning Mueller not to investigate his finances: the question specifically asked it in the context of Mueller over-reaching. The president's answer on that point was, to The Omnivore's read, legitimate ("If the guy over-reaches would you be upset?" "Yeah, if he over-reaches, I would be upset.").

So we're not back in threatening / obstructing territory yet.

So What Does The Omnivore Expect?

Let's be blunt: The Omnivore thinks that Trump is a terrible president who, if he does not right-the-ship, will be contesting president Buchanan for WORST. PREZ. EVER. However, his actions to-date that we know of do not make him a traitor. With this bias, announced, let's see.

Show Willingness to Collude: It seems like the most important question has already been answered - if the Russians had offered dirt, and promised more dirt, the team that met with him would have "loved it." Is that a crime? Maybe (anything "of value"--but the statute seems to exempt "information"--so The Omnivore doesn't know). However, the meeting Trump's executive team has goes well beyond Trump's debate joke ("please hack").

As far as The Omnivore goes, the gun--it is already smoking.

Damage Trump's Credibility: The reasons The Omnivore doesn't like Trump have to do with the erosion of norms, the damage to the dignity of America and the office of the president, and the promotion of the worst aspects of the GOP (racism, blind nationalism over patriotism, hatred of the press, victim mentality, etc.).

Either Trump moves to correct these on his own or The Omnivore wants him as a use-case for why these things suck. If Comey shows that Trump is not a patriot (and that seems like it's already been done) then, eh, The Omnivore is okay with that.

This means The Omnivore will be okay the investigation showing unsavory behavior--even if it does not rise to illegal.

Chances: 60% - Shows Trump / Team to have done unsavory things that do not rise to 'high crimes'

Shake Up Republicans: If the investigation shows that the Republicans are in-bed with a snake--that Trump was doing things they definitely didn't like, knew about (McCarthy's Trump-gets-paid-by-Russians 'joke'), and that they are covering for them? The Omnivore will be good with that.

Chances: 80% - Show behavior that the Republican chain of command must condemn and acknowledge they knew about.

Remove Trump From Office On The Merits: The Omnivore would not mind seeing Trump removed from office but isn't holding his breath for it either. To remove him "on the merits" it would have to be something serious--the kind of on-going collusion (such as using the Russian social-media machine to target Trump-Voters actively during the campaign).

Is there evidence of this? Maybe. The Omnivore will note that the chances of this have improved sharply from a few weeks ago with Don Jr's email showing the campaign's appetite for such behavior.

Chances: 30% - The investigation finds unequivocal collusion.

Trump Self-Sabotages Himself Out Of The Office: The other scenario is that Trump fires / tries to fire Mueller and the Republicans have "had enough" and impeach him. In this scenario, Trump is covering up something that's not Russian collusion--but is embarrassing and could get him (or his sons) into trouble. He pardons a bunch of staff for illegal, non-collusion behavior the investigation uncovers and the GOP has to remove him.

Chances: 40% - Presidential pardons or a Saturday Night Massacre scenario force an Impeachment hearing.


So will The Omnivore be disappointed? The scenario where he would be would be complete vindication - that Trump both did nothing illegal--but also nothing unsavory and the entire thing is validated as partisan Benghazi-style politics.

What are the odds of that? Probably under 20%. There has been some over-selling of this--but Jr.'s emails combined with Trump's pro-Russia behavior seem to have already crossed the lines established.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Was DJT Set-Up?

The Omnivore is trained (yes, by the United States Government) in Counter Intelligence. Here is a story: The number-one thing they teach you about defending from Russian intelligence--the first thing--is how they operate. Here's how:

A Sargent with a local unit gets in over his head. Maybe it's alcoholism. Maybe it's DUI. Maybe his wife divorces him and he needs money for the lawyers. Whatever it is, he needs money and he gets an offer: "Bring me the unit roster. We'll help with your debts."

Now, the "unit roster" is the list of guys in the unit. It's hardly sensitive information.

Or, well, except it is. That stuff is technically classified even though an enemy agent can figure it out just by hanging outside the base and seeing who goes in. In fact, for a long time, Russian Intel would send a congratulations letter to ever Counter Intel graduating class to prove they knew who they all were. At least The Omnivore's class was told that.

Anyway. The Sargent hands over the list--which can't really do any damage. He gets the money. It's all good, until, a little later, he gets a picture of him handing over the list.

Now they've got him. The USCMJ is severe if you are not a Secretary of State or a sitting president. Despite the fact that the enemy already had this information and that it's not all that useful anyway, if he comes clean he's fucked. So they've got him.

Now they want something useful.

Is this what happened to Donald Trump Junior?


So--this scenario--the one The Omnivore outlined above--is Spycraft 101. It's the "archetypal"  scenario and it probably, today, doesn't happen all that often--or like that (kind of like how the police know when a tourist says that they were mugged by a guy going "Hands in the air--this is a stick-up" that the tourist is lying. Nobody says that anymore. The savvy tourist who gambled all his money and wants an excuse tells the cops the guy said "Wallet and watch"--or better, something unintelligible and pointed a knife at them).

Secondly, DTJ wasn't in any trouble. The basic scenario has you compromised already--which is why if you have a gambling or drinking problem and they find out they won't promote you. While the Trump team probably thought they were not likely to win the election in June, they were also not hurting for money or opposition research.

Finally, the set up is predicated on the idea that the Sargent knows he's doing something wrong--but does it anyway. While, yeah, it sure looks like Junior et. al. figured out it was wrong, at the time they all--all of them--walked right in to it. A classic set up would have involved some secrecy-drama to make sure that when the strings were pulled later, the participants knew they were endangered. The Omnivore doesn't think having like 8 people in the room makes for proper secrecy drama.

So The Omnivore's conclusion is that the target of the operation was probably not blackmail. That was, perhaps, a valuable side-effect.

So what happened?

Well, from what we know: The meeting happened, it is said Junior left with a folder of stuff--so we kind of need to know what was in it. Given what we can see, it certainly looks like an offer of collusion that was accepted. The story that "they had nothing" and that was that only makes sense if (a) you don't buy the GRU-Wikileaks connection--which, The Omnivore understands, isn't hypothetical in the Intelligence community. That's the quid.

So was there a Pro-Quo?

In the DTJ-was-set-up story you don't need one. Blackmail is its own end--eventually the Trumps pay up. However if we say this doesn't much look like a pure set-up then we have two possibilities:

  1. Trump hurting Hillary was an end in its own right. The goods were given with nothing expected in return because they didn't think Trump could win.
  2. The deal was made, expressly, with the idea that there would be repayment in terms of sanctions relief and other benefits. We can see that there (a) is a push from the White House for sanctions relief and (b) the Trump White House wants to give Russia back its spy-houses.
So we have plenty of potential pro-quo. 

At this point what do we have that encourages us not to believe this happened? The word of the Trumps--but, of course, that word has been revised a whole hell of a lot recently. It's not good for much.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

What of DTJ?

The Omnivore was asked if he was on the "treason" bandwagon with regards to Donald Trump Jr. The answer is "Nope." The Omnivore is no expert of any kind but suspects that meeting with a Russian agent to see if they have dirt on your opponent, while a bad idea for all kinds of reasons--and possibly some other kind of criminal--is not actually treason.

What Are We To Think?

The first thing we should think is that there has, obviously, been a whole-lot of lyin' going on. Either there was a conspiracy of silence to firewall the meeting--even if nothing came of it--from Donald Trump--or he knew.

Let The Omnivore ask his Trump-supporting readers: Does it seem like the Trump campaign has/had that kind of information discipline?

If you answered "maybe," you are kidding yourself.

Secondly, it's possible that Pence didn't know--because why would you tell Pence anything? But at this point Pence should know that the Trump-inner-circle sure isn't telling him things. Does that seem to concern him?

Not really. He's thinking he'll be president if he just doesn't "get any on him." That isn't a great recommendation for POTUS--but, Trump-supporters, it's what you voted for.

The second thing we should think is "Who the eff is leaking this shit?" If the story is right that the emails are coming from inside the White House and not, say, from the Russians or Mueller or something (and that seems to be the case) then who is doin' the back-stabbing.

The Omnivore thinks this has Bannon written all over it--but it doesn't make sense for Bannon to shiv Junior for no good reason. It exposes DTJ--also Manafort--but maybe the real target is Kushner? Could be--but it seems a really poor strategy.


The second guess is Reince. The theory is that Reince would rather work for Pence--so he just needs to leak the Donald out of the White House? No. If this is the best he has, he would know it's not going to work. ... unless there's a thread here that unravels to something a lot bigger? But taking a shot at the son doesn't seem like Reince's style to The Omnivore.

That leaves: Kushner.

This might seem unlikely--but Junior is ideologically on Team Bannon. Bannon doesn't like Kushner (they say). Kushner would know about the meeting (he was there) but might have plausible deniablity (he wasn't on the incriminating emails). Kushner might even have the emails.

The Omnivore thinks that Team Kushner is the most likely source if it's someone whose "name we know."

Wild Card: What if it's Ivanka? Ouch.

Finally, what does all this mean? Well here's the big one:

If Russia WANTED To Collude With Trump Seems Like Team Trump Would Go For It, No?

If this all stops here--if there is literally nothing else--then the takeaway we have is that if Russia had come with quid-pro-quo, Junior would have taken the meeting and made some deals (remember: Adoption--in Russian parlance--is sanctions). It's hard to escape the idea that if there was an attempt at collusion by the Russians that Team Trump, as a whole, would've turned them down.

But, of course, it doesn't end here. There were a lot of denials to get to this point. This is enough of a burger (it was called a nothingburger--it's not) that someone--Daddy--might have done some light obstruction to try to keep Junior out of the fire. Who knows?

But while this isn't treason and it isn't evidence of a vast conspiracy, it is the thing that a lot of people on Team Trump were claiming absolutely did-not-exist: meetings with Russians with the aim of the Russians helping Trump win.

That should give Turmp-supporters pause.

But it won't.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Great Brooks-pocalypse

David Brooks wrote this in the New York Times and the right (well, everyone--but a lot of the right) lost their shit over it:
Recently I took a friend with only a high school degree to lunch. Insensitively, I led her into a gourmet sandwich shop. Suddenly I saw her face freeze up as she was confronted with sandwiches named “Padrino” and “Pomodoro” and ingredients like soppressata, capicollo and a striata baguette. I quickly asked her if she wanted to go somewhere else and she anxiously nodded yes and we ate Mexican.
The guys on the right, losing their shit, were appalled that he was acting like such a coastal elite--but, really that was his point. Erick Erickson, ever unable to understand that he is the punchline to jokes he thinks are funny, sky-dives in to save the day.

The rich keep up with David Foster Wallace and raise eyebrows at the rubes reading Proverbs. They look down on Chick-Fil-A while eating at their artisan sandwich shops that get reviewed in the backs of location specific vanity magazines. Then they tax the poor guy’s coke and plastic grocery bag. They shut down the Christian baker who just wants to be left alone and put hedonism on a pedestal they can afford that the poor could not. Abortion on demand is the left’s preferred equalizer, but as the poor descend into the rich’s hedonistic lifestyle, they cannot afford the STD’s, addiction problems, etc. that the rich can paper over with money.
Of course he made it all-about him. Like the soda-tax was done because of a disdain for soda and not a health-care crisis caused by obesity. Like the rich are as addicted to oxy as the poor--and just handling it better with their funds. Like STDs are killing off poor people. Like Erickson understands any of this.

Also writing in Erickson's imprint is Marc Giller who takes it to Brooks suggesting that Brooks doesn't understand why the elite are hated:
Meanwhile, Brooks ignores perhaps the most important thing he’s uncovered here, and that’s the question of why places like New York are so unwelcoming to those who don’t come from the right background. For a city that didn’t mind when Occupy Wall Street was defecating on police cars, they’re awfully hard on someone who doesn’t know the difference between prosciutto and pancetta. Why the intolerance?
Maybe if Brooks spent more time at Chili’s and less time at Per Se, he might know the answer.
I asked some wealthy people in NYC if they knew what the fuck Padrino or soppressata was. Nope. I asked if they were hostile to people in their artisinal sandwich shops. Nope. Is there really intolerance for people who don't know what all that shit is? I seriously doubt it. Not for people in David Brook's age-range.

No. No--the person in question was clearly uncomfortable because she didn't know what that stuff was--but immediately for Erick it's about gay-cakes and for Giller it's about how angry liberal New Yorkers are.

This Is How You Get Trump

It is safe to say that Erickson and, probably Giller, were shocked at Trump's take-over of their party. Erickson has made his peace with it. Giller probably jettisoned his soul too. The Omnivore doesn't know--but if he's still working at The Resurgent that's probably a job requirement.

Today we see a Pew poll showing that  58% of Republicans think college is a bad thing for society. What The Fuck, you ask? Well, we also know that Republican media is far more polarized than Democrat media--and that it's organized around the Breitbart model. When you go to this media, what do you see? Stories about asshole college professors being idiot leftists and leftist students being idiots about speech they don't like (which is, it turns out, pretty disgusting speech. Go figure.)

That's the view of college Republicans have--of course they don't like it.

But . . . but . . . don't they know that's not the whole story? That Breitbart is trying to fire them up? For clicks? For manipulation? All that? Don't they know they're being given super-slanted news?

Well, if the thought-leaders are as on-it as Erickson and Giller who can't see anything past their own noses? It turns out: they don't. It's all grievance, all the way down.

THAT'S how you get Trump.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Why Can't Self Satisfied Liberals Admit Republicans Care About People Too?

Damon Linker has a piece in The Week asking Why Can't Self Satisfied Liberals Admit That Conservatives Care About People Too? It would be a fair question save for the fact that for any self-satisfied liberal the question has already been answered: They can't admit that because it would interfere with their self-satisfaction, obvs. However, there might be a deeper question that deserves an answer: How could the DNC sell this?
Linker points out--correctly--that a good swath of conservative ideology is aimed at making things better for people. For example, if you believe that markets are the best tool we have for setting prices then you believe that price controls are bad and will stifle innovation, condemning people with yet-uncured diseases to suffer. If you believe that crime is not being properly deterred then you will favor tough-on-crime stances that will make life better for law abiding citizens. If you believe that the public school system is way too biased in favor of the theory of evolution, then you support vouchers which will funnel public dollars to a school that teaches Christian children to prepare for the End Times and decries the infernal Lie-Of-Darwin.

Every stance has winners and losers--why do Liberals, self-satisfied or otherwise, contend that the GOP doesn't care about people? In fact, who do those who, today, stand by agog in horror find themselves by turns horrified and demoralized by their fellows as Trump drags the office of the president and the country further and further into the gutter?

The Omnivore is going to answer Damon--and The Omnivore is only going to say things Damon Linker will agree with (this will be easier and safer than it sounds since Damon will probably never read this--and likely not respond to it if he does!).

Oh, You Were Finished? Well Then, Allow Me To Retort

Let's start with some of Linker's own quotes--since they are, shall we say, illuminating:
I admit that it does often feel that way these days, especially when it comes to the House and Senate bills to remake the nation's health-care system, since so much of the discussion has been conducted by Republicans in undeniable bad faith — with bills primarily designed to cut or eliminate taxes dishonestly described by leaders in Congress, as well as the president, as efforts to make health care more affordable. (The tax cuts ensure that health care would in fact become much less affordable for millions of people.)
Ah--The Omnivore can already hear you saying "If you like your doctor--." It the bill had been called the "You Can Keep Your Doctor Act" then you might be barking up the right tree. It wasn't--and you're not. The entire bill that Republicans are trying to pass in the "passive voice" is predicated on a tax-cut for the rich at the expense of the more vulnerable people the ACA protects. So, hey--this might be a reason.

But why stop there?

The fact is that most intelligent and informed people on the right do not oppose progressive policies because they're stingy bastards who don't give a damn about their fellow citizens. It's true that this may describe some Republicans. There are probably a non-trivial number, especially those unduly influenced by the odious ideas of Ayn Rand, who do come close to viewing the poor as parasitic moochers. But many, many others — the vast majority, in my experience — do not take this position.
Linker is right about that. However the point that he doesn't bring up is that House leadership under Paul Ryan--a disciple of Ayn Rand--crafted the House version of the bill in question. If you are going to judge an organization, one presumes that Linker would find the leadership to be at least fair game (if, perhaps, not a totalizing perspective).

Still, Linker knows all of this--and to be fair to him, not only did he call it out in his article--but he also brings up the Fight For 15. The Left wants to raise the minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour--a move that has at least arguably depressed hiring in Seattle. The Omnivore is no expert--but The Omnivore holds that it is very likely that, in fact, a massive raise (from maybe 8 to 15 per hour) would, in fact, not produce the results that the left wants. It might lead to inflation. It might lead to fewer jobs.

The Omnivore doesn't know--but it sure could--never mind that actual results are nuanced--so, who knows--maybe The Right is correct to keep wages low?

But Damon does not address the larger problem here: if people on minimum wage--an increasing number of adults--are, as he points out, struggling, what is the aid for them that the GOP is proposing? We don't raise the minimum wage--instead we . . . cut taxes for the wealthy to stimulate the economy and "lift all boats"?

The Omnivore boldly assert that Linker probably doesn't think trickle-down-economics is a very caring solution for the poor, struggling single mother on minimum wage. In fact, that solution is kind of Randian, now that you mention it.

But Why Stop There?

If the GOP is having a Crisis of Caring--if they're being unfairly perceived as not-caring about people--then might the cause of this completely unfair problem lie in something they're inadvertently doing to themselves?

In other words, is, maybe someone inside the party doin' them wrong? Maybe if they made some more trivial / perceptual changes their popularity might increase?

It could be so.

The Omnivore calls Linker's attention to the reason that the GOP is negotiating in "bad faith" over healthcare. Linker is a smart guy--and he knows that the top-brass want a massive tax-cut for the rich but don't really want to sign-on to that--which leads to some lyin'.

But Linker is, as The Omnivore said, a smart guy--so he also knows that the GOP, instead of trying to prop-up the ACA which actually is helping their voters (and Democrats as well) they are beholden to angry vows to repeal it--and replace it with . . . maybe nothing.

The reason they are so beholden to these vows to repeal Obamacare has nothing to do with the merits of the ACA  (which are popular) but with the fact that it was Obama's--and the GOP base hated Obama. To be sure there are some people who were hurt by O-Care. Absolutely. A goodly number of people did not in fact keep their doctors.

However, the general outcomes not only have been good for O-Care (as a whole) but they have also been in line with what a traditional conservative fix for health care would have looked like 10 years ago. That was one reason Obama did it--he though naively that if he built on the Heritage Foundation's idea that he could get some GOP support, seeing as it would, you know, help their voters.

He was foolish to think that--as Damon knows--because he's a smart guy--the GOP was diametrically opposed to all things Obama for reasons that, if we are being honest, don't have a lot to do with "giving a shit about people." As a result, no only did it pass with zero GOP support--but the destruction of it--without an alternative of any sort--has become a War Cry for the GOP.

The fact that they now, unexpectedly, even for them, have control of the whole system has led to schisms and inertia over the fact that what they are trying to do is not good for their base (or the Democrat's base) and they know it. Damon knows it. Everyone knows.

The DNC, it would seem, knows it too.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

What Should Democrats DO?

Tuesday night the Democrats failed to flip GA-06 by 4pts. It's a +20 Republican district--but nevertheless, Democrats are crying into their lattes because (a) they spent 28 million bucks (to the Republican's 25mm), (b) they thought they had a chance--Ossoff came within 2pts of winning the seat outright during the runoff election, and (c) HOW THE HELL COULD ANYONE VOTE FOR A REPUBLICAN WITH TRUMP IN THE WHITE HOUSE!?? HOW??

Here's how:
A Cato institute study identified five basic kinds of Trump Voters.

  1. Free Marketeers - Think Republican wall-street guys
  2. Anti-Elites - think guys who hate the system but don't markedly hate immigrants or blacks
  3. American Preservationists - They hate brown and black people and want to Make America White Again
  4. Staunch Conservatives - Think Rince Priebus
  5. The Disengaged - Mostly young, largely women, either don't know (or won't say) about most big issues (like whether global warming is caused by human activity)
This, it turns out, is actually a winning collation when you add in the Bannon Wing at about 20% of Trump's electorate.

Furthermore, when  Trump loses some from one, he can gain some from another (Preservationists may not like bombing Syria--but Staunch Conservatives could).

See also: He's enabling racists--but hey, TAX CUTS!

One Point On A Line

This is a Reddit Post where the poster says (claims) her boyfriend is a left-type bro who uses the fucked-up-itude of the system to avoid responsibility for doing anything. We know from the popularity of the podcast Chapo Trap House that there are enough of these guys to be a populist force. Chapo Trap House, in case you don't know, is a podcast that describes its listeners as "The Dirtbag Left."
“Chapo Trap House” has embraced this mission. “If you sleep on a mattress on the floor and fuck in a sleeping bag, then you just might be the dirtbag left!” Menaker told Paste. “If you’re the only dude at a function not wearing a pocket square in a linen blazer and adulting like a boss, then you’re in the dirtbag left!” People who belong to the Dirtbag Left, Christman said, aren’t afraid “to offend the sensibilities of ‘leftist’ language police whose only goal is sabotaging social solidarity in order to maintain their brands as arbiters of good taste and acceptable speech.”
The Dirtbag Left is what could also be called Bernie Bros--but, really, the idea that these people are uncultured, "not afraid to be racist or misogynist" (which is what 'unafraid to offend the sensibilities of leftist language police' generally means), and looking for change that doesn't really involve much heavy-lifting seems to be a real thing.

At least on Twitter.

They are also, a lot of people seem to think, the future of the Democratic party. This is to say that a lot of people seem to think that the Democrats should go hard-left and ditch the centrist candidates, scorch Republican outreach, and adopt universal health care as the entry point for running for office.

Oh, and they should go full open-primary so that people who aren't registered as Democrats should be allowed to vote for their candidates. It's only fair.

A Second Point On The Same Line

In GA-06, Ossoff ran as a moderate centrist. He didn't talk much about Trump. He didn't hammer Trump on Health Care. He talked about lowering taxes and smaller government. Some of the attack ads against him featured the Kathy Griffin severed Trump-Head and . . . Nancy Pelosi with her "San Francisco Values." One ad even featured the Alexandria shooting.

Basically he was attacked as a Democratic gay barbarian and linked to Pelosi for no really good reason and Griffin because of one tweet she made supporting him.

So, in the words of our President, "a lot of people are saying" that the Democrats should ditch Pelosi and reconfigure themselves to have "a message" (other than good governance) like . . . universal health care.

Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio, who tried to unseat Ms. Pelosi as House minority leader late last fall, said she remained a political millstone for Democrats. But Mr. Ryan said the Democratic brand had also become “toxic” in much of the country because voters saw Democrats as “not being able to connect with the issues they care about.”
Our brand is worse than Trump,” he said.

Where That Line Is Pointing

When a party is out of power there are no shortage of voices saying that its salvation is based on it acquiring the politics of the speaker. In the case of Ossoff, Sanders supporters were actively hoping for him to lose--and cheered when he did--because they felt it would increase their power.

So should the Democrats fire Pelosi? Should they embrace Medicare For All?

The answer to both questions is: "Not without a really good reason." The loss in GA-06--and even the loss of Hillary to Trump is not a really good reason.

There is a lie that people will tell you about political choices. That lie sometimes sounds like some of these:

  1. "I voted for Trump--but if Biden had run, I'd have voted for him." This is a lie.
  2. "I voted Republican--but that's because the Democrats have become ultra-leftist under Obama and Hillary would have continued that." This is a lie.
  3. "I'm an Independent and I wish I could vote Democrat--but they've given themselves over to diversity and immigration so I have to vote Republican to try to keep America like it used to be for my children." This is a lie.
The lie is, in all cases, that if the other-team just did this or that they could possibly win "your vote." It's never true. It's an excuse for a raw partisanship the speaker knows is bad but can't break themselves of. 

Firing Nancy Pelosi because GA-06 Republican voters didn't like her wouldn't win one of them back. They'd move on to the next Democrat in line and dislike them.

In other words, the future of the Democratic party isn't--cannot be--the "Dirt Bag Left" or a revision of the Democrat's identity around some "crystal clear" (meaning radical) message of economic empowerment. That won't win you voters. If they put Sanders on the ticket they'll lose older voters who find Sander's message of empty revolution a non-starter.

Like with Trump's coalition: if you increase one circle you will decrease another. The slice of the pie--determined mostly by identity politics and candidate-charisma--stays mostly the same.

(a hint: The minority vote would have plunged under a Sanders candidacy)

So What Should They Do?

This is analysis of the Cook Political Report showing how the Democrats have (over)performed in the last 4 special elections--now, remember--they won none of them: These are all areas that would, in any normal election, be non-starters.

Basically, the Democrats are over-performing by like 8% across the board. If they can win GOP +7 or better districts they don't need to change a thing for 2018.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Left Vs. Right: Calls For Violence

Left Wing Calls for Violence vs. Right Wing Calls For Violence

With the baseball-shooter in the news some people are thrilled to finally have a decidedly left-wing shooter who is white and not (trivially identifiable as) crazy. Conservatives are asking if the left is engaging in some self reflection over its calls for violence now. Are they? Should they be?

It's pretty clear that "the left" isn't exactly taking this all on themselves. Rachel Maddow has not called on Bernie Sanders to calm his hateful rhetoric. Democrats have not decided to vote for the AHCA out of shame for the shooting. In fact, some of them have said Trump's responsible for the tone today!

Imagine that! So it falls to us to see what the left vs. the right looks like in calls-for-violence. Let's do it.

Right Wing Violence vs. Left Wing Violence

There is left-wing and right-wing violence and threats of violence. Antifa idiots in masks have led actual riots on the Berkeley campus. One of them famously cold-cocked Richard Spencer on camera. There have been numerous anti-WTO demonstrations--for years--that involve property damage, thrown bricks, etc. BlackLivesMatter protests have, in numerous cases led to arson and looting. In cases where things were not totally out of control, there have been kill-police chants and free-way shutdowns (as planned). In one of these, an anti-police sniper shot and killed several cops.

In every one of these cases--including the cop-shooting--you can find people on Twitter who are happy to defend it.

On the right, there too, is violence. Dylan Roof drank his vile-fill of online hate-group propaganda. Recent white nationalist stabbings have made the news. At the Bundy Ranch, armed "peace keepers" descended on the ranch (and took over a Food and Wildlife outpost) to protect against the federal government.

Spencer led a torch-bearing march through his town of, basically, Nazis.

It is not an objectively answerable question as to how much of this does The Left and The Right each own, respectively, unfortunately.

However, we can look at what each side won't say as a way of determining where each part refuses to own its "negative space." This is, it turns out, a pretty good analysis.

On The Left: What They Won't Say

There Are Killing Advocates On "The Left"

Nobody owns Micah Johnson--the Dallas police shooter. Not only did leaders associated with #BLM condemn him--but it turns out even the  Black Panthers kicked him out (and, indeed, . Not everyone would though--there are groups that advocate killing police officers. And while they disowned him, members of the new Black Panther Party have advocated for killing officers earlier.

The "Left" Does Have Endorsements and Defenses of Violence

Kathy Griffin's beheaded Trump was both grotesque and an endorsement--despite what people might say. Griffin is (apparently) a popular comedian and having her "do it" cannot be read as a caution against it (and, notably, no one is making that defense). Town Hall has rounded up several non-Twitter-Randos calling for violence against Republicans.

While some of these are anemic, some are detailed and, well very, very angry. Obama used a quote from The Untouchables to suggest that if there was violence he expected his supporters to want to be fully engaged.

NOTE HOWEVER: Kathy Griffin lost her career over her call for violence. It had almost no support on the left or right.


The Left does not have a clean record when it comes to violence-laced trash-talking. If our standard is that even allegorical endorsements of violence can lead to violence then the Left / Liberals certainly have blood on their hands.

On The Right: What They Won't Say

The Right, As A Party, Talks A Whole Lot About Political Gun Violence

The idea of restricting the 2nd Amendment in any way is that it's pretty obvious to most people that while some civilians probably shouldn't have guns, almost no civilian should have grenades and rocket launchers. The purpose of the 2A, however is to use guns to kill politicians. When you are defending any limits to access to weapons on the 2A basis, you are establishing a right--in fact, a duty--to kill politicians involved in tyranny.

Now, who is involved in tyranny? Left wing Democrats--notably Obama. Almost everyone in the right-wing media sphere has accused Obama of orchestrating a coup/coup attempt.

The Right Has A Problem With Its Endorsement of Racial Violence

One of the websites that heavily influenced church-shooter Dylan Roof is the Council of Conservative Citizens (get it? They're the CCC!). This is a group that is not exactly mainstream right-wing ... but ...

That's not nothing either. Nikki Haley's name is up there. So these guys are not precisely shunned. In fact, the lack of shunning for racial instigation goes kind of far and wide, hitting Miller, Bannon, and Gorka. In fact, this is kinda an embrace of this wing.

NOTE HOWEVER: Note however, nothing. The racist-Nazi support for Trump and the Right's closeness to it in general should be enough to give everyone pause. These people represent political violence.

There, Of Course Have Been Political, Racist Attacks Other Than The Church Shooting

You can go back to Tim McVey who wanted to start a race-war--but you don't have to. Weeks ago two different white supremacists stabbed and killed people (in one case defenders after he was verbally attacking Muslims). To suggest that these people were not acting on a political basis is denial: Racial violence like that is political--the same with the Dallas shooter.

The problem comes when you look for a link between their statements and the Republican Party. The problem is that it's there. There is no denying that the white national groups see their rise as tied to Trump. There is, similarly, no great effort on Trump's part to distance himself from them. That Trump does not spout racist remarks directed at blacks is not in and of itself meaningful.

Trump and his strategists know that a substantial part of their success centers on racial animus--either to Mexicans, Muslims, or, yes, Blacks. We can't know what's in their hearts--but we can see their actions.

The Right Has Called For 2nd Amendment Solutions For Real And NOT Disowned The Speakers

If you found Sarah Palin's flyer pretty anodyne (it was) and Trump's discourse about "2nd Amendment people" and Hillary kind of vague (it was), you still have to deal with guys like Ted Nugent calling for Hillary to "suck on a machine gun" and getting invited to the oval office. Kathy Griffin is not getting an invite to the next Democratic Oval Office--well, most likely--and would not have been welcomed to the Obama White House.

The fact is that discussing a "2nd Amendment Solution" as 'valid' is not an automatic disqualifier for a GOP candidate.

NOTE HOWEVER: Where Kathy Griffin was excoriated and fired, some people on the right still associate with Ted Nugent. A story in three acts:

Trump, Himself, Has Said Some Weird Things About Violence

Trump cited two guys who beat up a Hispanic man in his name "passionate." He advised supporters to, well, see for yourself:

The "I will pay for the legal fees" takes this out of the "quoting a movie" zone and in to an endorsement of real physical violence. Trump's "Maybe 2nd Amendment People could do something" about Hillary was conceivably a statement that "well, if you elect her--you'll have to assassinate her." The use of 2nd Amendment rather than some other group is, of course, telling there.

Conclusions: The right certainly uses more graphic language and has less backlash to its violence calls. It also endorses violent groups to a larger degree and at a higher level.

Over All

The Omnivore thinks it's pretty clear that if anyone should be doing soul searching after this shooting . . . it's the violent video game makers.