If His Lips Move, He’s Lying…part [n]

Donald Trump has yet to meet with the prime minister of the United Kingdom — arguably the closest ally of the United States.  He has found time to meet with representatives of Britain’s Lets-Play-Footsie-With-Fascists UKIP party including its well-dressed proto-fascist leader, Nigel Farange.

In that meeting Hair Führer focused on what really matters in the trans-Atlantic alliance.

Offshore wind farms in Scotland [h/t TPM]:

[Andy] Wigmore, who coordinated the communications effort for the push for Britain to leave the European Union, told The Express and the New York Times that Trump asked them to oppose new wind farms….

Wigmore told The Express that Trump “is dismayed that his beloved Scotland has become over-run with ugly wind farms which he believes are a blight on the stunning landscape.”

Rich guy doesn’t like looking at windmills. Rich guy manages to grasp real power. Rich guy starts f**king with other nations’ energy policy, land use decisions and the rest because…he can.

Welcome to the post policy presidency.  Trump has no idea what energy mix makes sense and he doesn’t care.  Just doesn’t like looking at turbines.  So lose the buggers, amirite!

paul_gauguin_-_the_queens_mill

Apparently, Trump’s intervention appears to have worked, sort of:

Wigmore said that Trump “did suggest that we should campaign on it” and that the conversation “spurred us in and we will be going for it,” according to the New York Times.

Going for it, in this case, meaning that a party and a leadership roundly loathed in Scotland will argle bargle pwfft or something.  But gotta stroke the ferret-heedit shitgibbon, and talk is cheap.

The lagniappe, utterly unsurprisingly, is that the default position of the Trump crowd to any challenge is to lie:

Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks denied to the New York Times that Trump discussed wind farms during his meeting with Farage. When the Times told Hicks that Wigmore gave an account of the wind farm discussion, Hicks did not respond with further comment, according to the Times.

With every passing day it becomes yet more clear that there is no way that Donald Trump can handle the presidency.  With each passing day his presidency draws closer.

WASF.

Image:  Paul Gauguin, The Queen’s Mill, Østervold Park1885.



Listen To Someone Who Knows Something About The Shitgibbon’s Mentor

Masha Gessen knows from vicious fascist dictators.  Here’s what she has to say under the headline “Autocracy: Rules for Survival“:

I have lived in autocracies most of my life, and have spent much of my career writing about Vladimir Putin’s Russia. I have learned a few rules for surviving in an autocracy and salvaging your sanity and self-respect. It might be worth considering them now:

Rule #1: Believe the autocrat. He means what he says….

Rule #2: Do not be taken in by small signs of normality.

[See Betty’s post below]

Rule #3: Institutions will not save you….

Rule #4: Be outraged

Rule #5: Don’t make compromises

Rule #6: Remember the future….

ozymandias_collossus-_ramesseum_luxor_egypt

This is one of those read-the-whole-thing deals.  Masha has lived what she’s talking about here.  I have had the good fortune to spend some evenings talking with her, and she is at once one of the sharpest, most un-bull-shit-able political thinkers I know and among the most courageous people I’ve ever met.

If you don’t have time, or, like me, have only a finite tolerance for looking straight at the beast looking back at us, here’s the short form, as stated in Rule 4:

If you follow Rule #1 and believe what the autocrat-elect is saying, you will not be surprised. But in the face of the impulse to normalize, it is essential to maintain one’s capacity for shock. This will lead people to call you unreasonable and hysterical, and to accuse you of overreacting. It is no fun to be the only hysterical person in the room. Prepare yourself.

That leads to the logic of Rule 6:

Nothing lasts forever. Donald Trump certainly will not, and Trumpism, to the extent that it is centered on Trump’s persona, will not either. Failure to imagine the future may have lost the Democrats this election. They offered no vision of the future to counterbalance Trump’s all-too-familiar white-populist vision of an imaginary past. They had also long ignored the strange and outdated institutions of American democracy that call out for reform—like the electoral college, which has now cost the Democratic Party two elections in which Republicans won with the minority of the popular vote. That should not be normal. But resistance—stubborn, uncompromising, outraged—should be.

I expect we will lose most battles for years to come. Perhaps all of them.  ETA: Fuck that noise.  The comments below decrying defeatism are right.  We’re going to win a bunch.  Not everything, and people will get hurt, badly.  But Republicans are already over reaching.  They’re fuck-ups and we’ll be able to take advantage of the openings they provide.  See this from David Cole for a little hope.  Which is why I keep coming back to Masha’s conclusion — say no, and keep on saying it — and see it as a pocket-guide-for-the-perplexed.

I’ve more to say, as I think towards what specific forms my resistance may take, but none of that’s really formed yet, beyond giving some money to some of the most obvious targets.  More later.  In the meantime, what Gessen says:  Trump will not last forever, and resistance is many things — but not futile.

Image: the Ozymandias Colossus — Raames II, mistakenly identified as the mythical king Ozymandias.  This ruin inspired Percy Bysshe Shelly to write this.



He’s Got the Electrolytes We Need

With little commentary, I present this, Del. Azinger (R-Wood County), explaining why he voted for the WV RFRA pro-bigotry bill:

I got nothing. Well, this:



How the Party Decides

From TPM:

Staffers on the Senate Intelligence Committee are looking into whether Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) disclosed classified information during the debate, according to the committee chair.

From Marcy Wheeler:

Richard Burr has apparently stated publicly that he’s looking into not Marco Rubio’s serial leaking of classified information, but Ted Cruz’s alleged disclosure of classified information at least night’s debate. That’s particularly curious given that Rubio has gotten privileged access to this information on the Senate Intelligence Committee, whereas Cruz has not

Our very own Tom:

I think as an interested lay observer, that the Party Decides framework is pretty useful way at looking at presidential primaries. And if that basic thesis is true, this is a shining example of how the Party decides. One candidate gets a pass, while the other candidate gets called out and has a bad media cycle or three with minimal party support to validate their bona fides.

If this is the case, then I am trying to figure out the bet. The first part of the bet is simple. Rubio is a favored candidate for the Establishment as everyone in DC thinks Cruz is an asshole. The second part is where I am a bit lost. Is the optimal outcome Trump v Rubio instead of Cruz v. Rubio? It looks like Trump, Cruz, Carson and Fiorina are attractive to one cluster of voters while Rubio and other establishment hopes are attractive to a different set. In the initial knock-out stages, I don’t think there are too many voters in either cluster group whose next best choice is in the other cluster. Is the bet that if the nihilist cluster condenses down to Trump and Trump alone, he’ll max out at 40%?

Still trying to figure this one out.



A Cynical Game

These people are just despicable:

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz is the latest presidential candidate trying to downplay the role anti-abortion rhetoric may have played in motivating the Planned Parenthood shooting in Colorado Springs Friday afternoon. When a reporter asked him at an Iowa campaign stop Sunday evening about suspect Robert Lewis Dear saying he was motivated by “no more baby parts,” Cruz countered that he’s also been reported to be a “transgendered [sic] leftist activist.”

Cruz explained, “We know that he was a man registered to vote as a woman.” This discrepancy on Dear’s voter registration was first reported by The Gateway Pundit, a self-described “right-of-center news website,” under the claim that he “identifies as [a] woman.” Conservatives have since run with the claim that Dear is transgender.

There is actually no evidence to suggest that he is transgender, nor a “leftist,” nor any kind of activist. In fact, all of the available information suggests he was none of those things.

It doesn’t matter if this is true or not. Not one bit. What matters is Cruz said it, that the idiots in the GOP base will repeat it, and in the minds of wingnuttia, it will just become the received view. See also “Liberal Fascism.”



Split the party in two and win with the bigger half

Just a quick  comment on a recent Vox article:

But in a head-to-head matchup among Republican voters, Trump beats Rubio 57-43. That suggests that Trump’s ceiling, at least among Republicans, is far above his current 25 to 30 percent, and he may well benefit as weaker candidates drop out.

This actually makes sense given the current polling that we have seen in the Republican race.  For most of the year, if you add up the combined polled support of Trump, Carson and Fiorina plus attribute some proportion of Ted Cruz’s vote as extraordinarily anti-Republican establishment vote, this faction is the dominant faction within the Republican primary electorate.  The sum of Trump, Carson, Fiorina often is over 50% and usually closer to 60%.  The favored Establishment candidates (Bush, Walker, Kasich, Christie, Rubio) have either dropped out, or combined can poll less then a quarter of the Republican primary electorate.

Primaries often see large swings as the differences between candidates are not stark.  However it is easier for a person to switch support to a candidate who is running in the same cluster as the candidate that the person is switching support from, than for support to go to a candidate in a distant cluster.  The anti-establishment lane in the GOP primary is bigger than the establishment, and one of the candidates can’t be pushed aside due to a lack of funds.

So when the question and answer space collapses to only a single establishment and a single non-establishment choice, people gravitate towards their closest option from their current preferred option. That means Trump is picking up all of his current support and the vast majority of the supporters of the other anti-establishment candidates while Rubio consolidates everyone else.  And one faction right now is much bigger than the other.



KY and lies

Earlier in the week, the Washington Post highlighted the story of a Kentucky voter who is on expanded Medicaid with a high cost condition and who voted for Matt Bevin who had been running on rolling back Medicaid expansion.  Quite a few liberal blogs tsk-tsk poorer Kentucky voters for voting against their direct interest.  I think there is a bit more sympathetic and cynical way to look at their decision process.

Dennis Blackburn has this splintered self-interest. The 56-year-old mechanic hasn’t worked in 18 months, since he lost his job at a tire company that supplies a diminishing number of local coal mines….

He has a hereditary liver disorder, numbness in his hands and legs, back pain from folding his 6-foot-1-inch frame into 29-inch mine shafts as a young man, plus an abnormal heart rhythm — the likely vestige of having been struck by lightning 15 years ago in his tin-roofed farmhouse….

On Election Day, Blackburn voted for Bevin because he is tired of career politicians and thought a businessman would be more apt to create the jobs that Pike County so needs. Yet when it comes to the state’s expansion of health insurance, “it doesn’t look to me as if he understands,” Blackburn said. “Without this little bit of help these people are giving me, I could probably die. . . . It’s not right to not understand something but want to stamp it out.”

They know that it is very likely that they are being lied to on major Tea Party policy planks and accept that.

Anne Laurie in this morning’s open thread is highlighting another Washington Post article that has an excellent analysis of the Republican base by Republican governor Nikki Haley:

“You have a lot of people who were told that if we got a majority in the House and a majority in the Senate, then life was gonna be great,” she said in an interview Thursday. “What you’re seeing is that people are angry. Where’s the change? Why aren’t there bills on the president’s desk every day for him to veto? They’re saying, ‘Look, what you said would happen didn’t happen, so we’re going to go with anyone who hasn’t been elected.’ ”

The Republican base voters are used to getting lied to on major policy planks.  And in the Kentucky case, that looks probable to be true as well.  Kynect is highly likely to go away, but it will be replaced by a reasonably well functioning Healthcare.gov with minimal hassle besides people having to create new accounts.  Bevin has already started backtracking from his promise to take away Medicaid expansion from Kentucky residents.  Instead, he is promising to keep Medicaid expansion but make it slightly worse and slightly more convoluted with a 1115 waiver that has to be approved by the dreaded Obama administration.

If there is an implicit assumption by Republican leaning voters that Democrats are trying to pick off with tangible policy benefits that the Republican candidate is likely lying to the voters the policy wedge disappears.  From here,  Republican leaning voters can can rationally vote on other, social and cultural grounds.  The economic policy ground will be indistinguishable when implementation comes around.

And assuming Bevins does get a 1115 waiver passed, the election was not Medicaid expansion versus no Medicaid expansion but  Coal, God, Guns and Gays versus those damn hippies in Louisville looking down at Appalachia.