Excellent Read: “On the Subject of Listening to the People of the Land”

I whole-heartedly endorse foundational progressive blogger Driftglass‘s response to the self-styled ‘Jacobins’ and their BothSides media enablers noisily calling for a return to the mythical utopia of the WWC Democrat:

In a former life, my span of responsibility was so weirdly far-flung that when people asked me what I did for a living, I would tell them that I was in charge of saving Illinois manufacturing. And while that’s a wee bit of an exaggeration, it is entirely fair to say that working on every aspect of saving Illinois manufacturing took up most of my time and energy and the time, energy and budget of my tiny staff.

So believe me when I tell that even though I was involuntarily retired from the field of battle, my antennae is still highly attuned to items in the news about the struggles of the Rust Belt economy: outsourcing, manufacturing, skills training, the need to retool high schools and community colleges and the various federal, state and local policies and initiatives designed to get at these large and complex problems.

This is why I can tell you that this idea that “better messaging” to the white working class is somehow the royal road back to political majorities for the Democratic party is nonsense. Sure, Democrats always need to work on speaking like mortal human beings… But messaging itself is not the problem. The media is the problem. And since, as the man said, the medium is the message, until we start taking on the media as Public Enemy #1, we’re going to go right on losing…

1) For a variety if reasons, white working class Americans have been taking a pounding since the late 1970s. And for a different variety of reasons, a disturbingly high number number of white working class Americans keep voting for the people that fuck them over.

2) Judging by policy statements made, resources allocated, attention paid and political capitol spent, it’s quite likely that history will judge the Obama Administration to have been the most consistently pro-manufacturing administration since Eisenhower. In fact, outside of health care (and turkey pardons), I would wager a penny and a fiddle of gold that in the last eight years the Obama administration put more effort into promoting American manufacturing than into any other domestic policy priority.

3) If you are a member of the general public, unless you made an extra special effort to inform yourself, you are blissfully unaware of any of this.

4) If you are blissfully unaware of any of this, it is not because the Obama Administration failed to talk it up at every single opportunity, but because over the last eight years the American political media collectively decided that instead of boring-ass stories about what the Democratic party has been trying to do to improve the lives and futures of the working class Americans, what you needed to hear were lively fairy tales about Birth Certificates and Death Panels. Email servers and Benghaaaazi. A Republican rebranding scam called the “Tea Party”. Instead of stories about the Caucus Room Conspiracy and Republican sabotage and sedition, you needed to hear endlessly, plaintive cries from all the usual Beltway hacks about how Barack Obama was refusing to lead!

…[A]sk an “undecided” or an “independent” or an “I just hadda vote for Trump because…” friend if they remember any of this, and I guarantee you will get a squinty, faraway look as if they’re trying to recollect some obscure fact about the Wendish Crusade of 1147, which had been imparted to them by a forgettable history teacher 40 years ago. Sure, some of this might ring a tiny bell, but inside their heads what will be ringing a much louder bell — an iron bell the size of fucking Ceres which drowns out all your little, Liberal tintinnabulations — are years and year and years of the Very Serious People in Americas finest newspapers and cable teevee shows telling them over and over and over and over again that all of this shit is the fault of Both Sides, so by God why not vote for an “outsider” who will disrupt the Corrupt Duopoly!..

Go read the whole thing, and remember: Sharing is Caring!



Wednesday Morning Open Thread: Two Americas

Another way of visualizing the difference, by the Brookings Institution, as reported in the Washington Post:

According to the Brookings analysis, the less-than-500 counties that Clinton won nationwide combined to generate 64 percent of America’s economic activity in 2015. The more-than-2,600 counties that Trump won combined to generate 36 percent of the country’s economic activity last year.

Clinton, in other words, carried nearly two-thirds of the American economy.

This appears to be unprecedented, in the era of modern economic statistics, for a losing presidential candidate. The last candidate to win the popular vote but lose the electoral college, Democrat Al Gore in 2000, won counties that generated about 54 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, the Brookings researchers calculated. That’s true even though Gore won more than 100 more counties in 2000 than Clinton did in 2016.

In between those elections, U.S. economic activity has grown increasingly concentrated in large, “superstar” metro areas, such as Silicon Valley and New York.

But it’s not the case that the counties Clinton won have grown richer at the expense of the rest of the country — they represent about the same share of the economy today as they did in 2000. Instead, it appears that, compared to Gore, Clinton was much more successful in winning over the most successful counties in a geographically unbalanced economy.

The Brookings analysis found that counties with higher GDP per capita were more likely to vote for Clinton over Trump, as were counties with higher population density. Counties with a higher share of manufacturing employment were more likely to vote for Trump.

“This is a picture of a very polarized and increasingly concentrated economy,” said Mark Muro, the policy director at the Brookings metro program, “with the Democratic base aligning more to that more concentrated modern economy, but a lot of votes and anger to be had in the rest of the country.”…

Same issue as ever — if acreage could vote, Trump would’ve gotten his imaginary landslide. And if so many people in that acreage didn’t chose the impossible dream of re-enacting an imaginary 1950s over all the potential of an actual future…

***********
Apart from regretting the intransigence of our neighbors, what’s on the agenda for the day?



Early Morning Open Thread: Sundown Voters for A Sundowning Party?

There’s more and more evidence coming to light that the Asterisk-Elect’s electoral college victory relied on the revanchist fantasies of some of America’s least loveable left-behinds. David Roediger, at Counterpunch:

Coming myself from a “sundown town”—that is, one which for most of the twentieth century remained whites-only, in part by disallowing even visits by African Americans after nightfall—I had read the work of the sociologist James Loewen on such places with great care. In the massive volume, Sundown Towns, and on the website accompanying and updating it, Loewen paid special attention to Wisconsin. Partly this was because, proportionately, so many of its towns fit into the sundown category and partly because their histories were so typical. Many had an early Black presence that was removed over time or in a hot moment. Some featured billboards warning of their policies. They included small towns, but also growing industrial ones, whose good, sometimes union, jobs became the property of whites.

Did sundown towns elect Trump in Wisconsin? My research assistant, Kathryn Robinson, and I tried to find out. Since it is much easier to get county-level election returns than municipal ones, we concentrated on “sundown counties,” those having a county seat that could be established as a sundown town or likely sundown town in Loewen’s mapping. An incredible 58 of the state’s 72 counties fit into such a category. Of the 58 sundown counties 31 are 1% or less African American (and only eight more than 2%), suggesting that the proxy of the county seat works in identifying sundown areas at the county level.

The simple answer on Trump and sundown towns in Wisconsin is: “Clearly they elected him.” Sundown counties gave Trump almost 935,000 votes to Clinton’s just over 678,000. His margin in the sundown areas exceeded 256,000 votes. That Clinton won the fifteen non-sundown counties by almost 230,000 votes could not make up for Trump’s 58% to 42% margin in the sundown ones. Just short of two/thirds of all Trump voters in Wisconsin came from sundown counties. Only nine sundown counties chose Clinton with 49 for Trump…

Of course, the NYTimes‘ Media Village Idiots are busily attempting to buff away these angry white fingerprints, because calling someone a racist is far more impolite than being a racist
Read more



Monday Evening Open Thread: Good News from NC

Hat tip to commentor Timothy C. Per the NYTimes:

RALEIGH, N.C. — Ending an acrimonious stalemate that dragged on for nearly a month, Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, conceded in his bid for re-election here on Monday, clearing the way for the ascension of his challenger, the Democrat Roy Cooper, and giving the national Democratic Party a rare cause for celebration.

Mr. Cooper, the state attorney general, declared victory on election night, but Mr. McCrory’s allies lodged election challenges in dozens of North Carolina counties, enraging Democrats who accused Republicans of being sore losers, or worse, in one of 2016’s closest statewide races.

Most of the challenges proved to be of little consequence, however. And by Monday, as partial results of a recount of more than 90,000 votes that Republicans had demanded in Durham County showed no significant change in the results, Mr. McCrory — whose one term was buffeted by nationwide anger over a law he signed that curbed anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people — had little choice but to admit defeat…

***********
Apart from taking our wins where we can, what’s on the agenda for the evening?



Strategic Miscommunication

There is a long term International Relations concept called the security dilemma, or as I like to think of it, the insecurity spiral. The security dilemma is a Realist concept that arises from the lack of an international sovereign. Basically because there is no overarching international controlling power, the actions of one or more states, usually in regard to military preparations, can/are misinterpreted leading to other states undertaking responses that in turn lead the original actor or actors to respond, leading to more counter responses. All of which causes a crisis of security, an insecurity spiral, which increases the possibility of conflict.

To avoid a security dilemma states, intergovernmental organizations, and a lot of non state actors, try to utilize strategic communication. Joint Publication 5-0 defines strategic communication as:

… efforts to understand and engage key audiences to create, strengthen, or preserve conditions favorable for the advancement of … interests, policies, and objectives through the use of coordinated programs, plans, themes, messages, and products synchronized with the actions of all instruments of national power. Also called SC.

President-elect Trump’s recent, unsecured communications with many foreign heads of state have many concerned that these conversations are creating a type of security dilemma whereby the President-elect unintentionally or intentionally changes decades of American policy and strategic posture. And does so without the benefit of a State Department Protocol Officer, State Department pre-briefing to prepare for these calls, and secured comms to ensure that his conversations cannot be intercepted and used against the US (and our allies and partners) in the future. These communications have heightened tensions between India and Pakistan. And we now have an escalation in regard to the People’s Republic of China, which actually places the ongoing security of Taiwan at risk.

While some of this is a unique combination of the age of social media, 24/7 news media, and the Internet and a President-elect who seems addicted to social media and has a unique talent for capturing 24/7 news media, it is not unknown. To a certain extent the events that led up to World War I were the result of a classic security dilemma leading to a catastrophic insecurity spiral and the outbreak of actual war.

More recently, in the early 1980s, the aggressive attempts by President Reagan to pressure the Soviet Union led to a breakdown that almost led to war over the NATO war game known as Able Archer.

Able Archer was a 1983 NATO war game that was misinterpreted by the Soviet Union. The signals intercepts being made by Soviet Intelligence led them to mistakenly believe that NATO, led by the US and Britain, was preparing a nuclear strike against the Soviet Union. This almost kicked off a classic security dilemma as the Soviets mobilized in response to the war game. This was initially misinterpreted by NATO as the Soviets conducting their own, counter, war game. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed. After Able Archer’s conclusion, British Intelligence provided a complete report on the security dilemma that resulted from the strategic miscommunication to Downing Street, which then communicated to the Reagan Administration in order to prevent something like this from ever happening again. The documentary below details Able Archer, the Soviet Response, and just how closely everyone, on every side, escaped a war caused by misinterpretation from unintended miscommunication.



If You Don’t Know Who The Patsy At The Table Is, It’s You Part [n+1]

Just a quick update for the “who has Trump f**ked today” file.

AT&T is reportedly feeling confident about its ability to buy Time Warner after meeting with President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team—even though Trump himself vowed to block the merger during his campaign.

“Donald Trump’s transition team has reassured AT&T that its $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner will be scrutinized without prejudice,” the Financial Timesreported yesterday. “After talking with the president-elect’s team, AT&T executives are confident that their deal has a good chance of passing regulatory scrutiny, people informed about the conversation said.” [Ars Technica]

This is a couple of days old, actually. It’s tough to keep up.

To be sure, relative to little things like blowing up the world’s system of states, agreements, and understandings…

hans_holbein_the_younger_-_the_ambassadors_-_google_art_project

…letting a mega-corp misbehave exactly as any Republican president would (and some Democrats, alas) is hardly the top of either my terror or rage list.  But still, I do love seeing Trumpkins slowly wake up to the degree to which they’ve been conned/are complicit in the ongoing shit show.

Sorry, folks.  You really do need watering twice a day if you trusted the cheeto-faced, ferret-heedit shitgibbon.

That’s about the limit of the fun to be had these days — a respectful nod in the direction of the late, great Molly Ivins.  I wish I could enjoy the tears of betrayed Trumpkins a bit more, but there’s too much damage they’ve done to the rest of us to take much satisfaction.

Image: Hans Holbein the Younger, The Ambassadors1533.



Not the bumper sticker but the core of the fight

Actuarial value and subsidy level is the core element of the coming fight on Medicare. The delivery mechanism through which that value is transferred is window dressing.

Andrew Sprung outlines what is at stake for Medicare:

what precisely is the Medicare guarantee?

At present, there’s a pretty specific answer: for 95% of seniors, the federal government will pay about 85% of the premiums for insurance that covers a bit more than 80% of the average user’s medical costs. That’s what traditional Medicare does right now, via Parts A, B and D, for those whose incomes are below $85,000 for a single person or $170,000 for a couple.

Put another way, the federal government pays a bit more than two thirds of the average senior’s total medical costs. Low income beneficiaries have all or part of their premiums and out-of-pocket costs paid by Medicaid, though a variety of programs. High income seniors pay higher shares of their premiums, with the percentage stepped up through several income brackets. …..

And here is he is on the ACA:

For 8.8 million current enrollees in the ACA marketplace (as of June 31 30), subsidies cover an average of 73% of the premium for plans with a weighted average actuarial value of 80% (surprise!– thanks to Cost Sharing Reduction (CSR) subsidies, the average AV of plans sold in the marketplace is really that high). On average, then, the ACA marketplace covers about 58% of enrollees’ costs — though that average is very uneven, ranging from over 90% for the lowest-income enrollees to close to zero for the barely subsidy-eligible (and zero for the subsidy-ineligible)*. For another 12 million people whom the ACA rendered eligible for Medicaid, federal and state government cover close to 100% of costs….

Under the charitable assumptions that a typical EPFA(HR2300) subsidy would cover 59% of the premium for a plan with a 60% actuarial value, the premium subsidy would cover 35% of the average enrollee’s medical costs — regardless of whether her income were $17,000 or $17 million.

That is the the essence of the upcoming healthcare fights. Everything else is window dressing or mechanics to shift blame for large benefit cuts.