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…

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



Open Thread: Happily Engorging the Vampire Squid

…[W]hat’s the best-performing stock in the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.18% since the election?

Goldman Sachs. GS, -0.12%

Yes, really. Shares are up 24%, to $225 from $182 when the market closed on November 8. The next biggest gainer: Wall Street powerhouse JP Morgan Chase JPM, +0.52%

Half of the Dow’s gain since the election, in fact, is due to just those two Wall Street stocks. By contrast, shares of “Main Street” companies Johnson & Johnson JNJ, +0.11% Procter & Gamble PG, -0.10% and Coca-Cola KO, -0.12% are down.

According to company documents, the partners at Goldman own 30.65 million shares. Which means that the partners at Goldman Sachs, in total, are $1.3 billion richer than they were on November 8, thanks to Trump’s election…

Trumpkins are learning the hard way what happens when you buy an investment scheme from a con-artist. I’ve been writing about scam artists for more than 20 years. They always promise you the moon — that is, until your check clears.

When will these voters get it? Maybe never. Author Maria Konnivoka notes in her book The Confidence Game that many victims refuse to admit they’ve been scammed — no matter what the evidence. Indeed, she says, many just keep coming back for more…

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Apart from checking out Wall Street history during the Calvin Coolidge era, what’s on the agenda for the evening?



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…

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



Friday Morning Update: Weekly Progress Open Thread


(h/t commentor Cosima)

I want to implement commentor Jenn‘s idea of a weekly Progress Open Thread, even though it’s apparently a bit soon for specific responses.

Great idea from commentor Mary G:

I went to whitehouse.gov and sent the Obamas a message:

Dear President and Mrs. Obama:

I haven’t always agreed with you, particularly on foreign policy, but boy am I going to miss you. You have done your country a great service and I thank you so much for all your hard work, and sacrifice of your privacy and freedom of action. I plan to be active in resisting the rollback of your achievements. Especially the ACA. You have been the best president and presidential family of my 60-year-old life.

What will happen to the videos and photos of your speeches and events currently on whitehouse.gov? When I am down and discouraged, I watch a speech or look at a few pictures to get fired up and ready to go. There are so many I want to see, but haven’t had time to.

God bless you, Mary

And via commentor Kathleen — Go sign Sherrod Brown’s petition that PEOTUS fire Steve Bannon. (Yeah, it’s not gonna happen, but it’ll irk both the neo-Nazi and his catspaw that us commoners aren’t being respectful.)

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Who’s got progress to report, or ideas to implement, as we wrap up the week?



Thursday Evening Open Thread: Tim’s Right About Medicare

From the article:

… “We say to our Republicans that want to privatize Medicare, go try it, make our day,” said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the incoming Democratic leader, mustering his best Clint Eastwood/Ronald Reagan impersonation.

Since 1995 — when the newly installed speaker, Newt Gingrich, famously proposed $270 billion in cuts to Medicare and declared the program would “wither on the vine” because of the appeal of Republican-crafted free-market options — Democrats have seen the exceedingly popular but financially strained program as a winning wedge issue…

Now Democrats intend to capitalize on it again, beginning with their approach to the nomination of Representative Tom Price, Republican of Georgia, to lead the Department of Health and Human Services.

Mr. Price is not only a leading proponent of repealing the Obama-era health care law, but he has embraced Republican efforts to move future Medicare users into private insurance programs and raise the eligibility age. He told reporters shortly after the Nov. 8 election that he anticipated Republicans would embark on a substantial Medicare overhaul within the first six to eight months of Donald J. Trump’s presidency.

Senate Democrats intend to press Mr. Price on this subject during his confirmation hearings. They see a wide opening for political gain, given the 57 million older Americans who rely on Medicare — including many white Midwesterners with financial worries who voted for Mr. Trump.

“Good luck to selling that to the voters in Indiana and Ohio that were Democrats and voted for Trump this time,” Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, said about a Medicare revamp. “They’re going to be fleeing quickly, right?”

A Medicare fight is also a potential political lifeline for Democrats in red states who could be in very tough contests in 2018. Ten Senate Democrats face re-election in states carried by Mr. Trump. One of them, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, has already made it clear that he will brook no overhaul of Medicare and that he intends to vote against Mr. Price’s nomination to the health care agency…

Democrats also noted that Mr. Trump did not campaign on the idea of tinkering with Medicare or its companion entitlement program, Social Security. In fact, his statements about those two cornerstones of American retirement security were that he would not cut them. That difference raises the prospect of a clash with congressional Republicans — particularly House Republicans led by Speaker Paul D. Ryan — who have long pushed for Medicare changes and championed them in House budgets…

So, with a little luck & a lot of skill, we can protect Medicare, scare a bunch of venal Repubs, ding up a particularly bad cabinet member wannabe, drive a wedge between the upcoming President-with-an-asterisk and his GOP ‘partners’, and keep voters’ attention focused for the 2018 elections. Sounds worth some phone calls to me!
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Apart from fighting the good fight, what’s on the agenda for the evening?



Saturday Morning Open Thread: Anthem

Goddess bless the Queen!

Longish read for a (hopefully) quiet weekend morning… Greg Sargent at the Washington Post:

If you care about whether the Democratic Party can rebuild itself anytime soon out of the smoking wreckage left behind by the disastrous 2016 elections, something very important is happening a lot sooner than you think.

There are more than three dozen gubernatorial races taking place in the next two years. And they could do a tremendous amount to set the party on the path out of the wilderness in the Age of Donald Trump — with potentially significant national ramifications that could stretch well into the next decade, for instance by having a substantial influence over the redistricting of House seats, which could help determine control of the Lower Chamber in the 2020s…

… The vast majority of these races take place in 2018 (only two, Virginia and New Jersey, take place next year), so we’re really talking about the 2018 map here. It has big transformative potential for Democrats, since many of the states in which Republicans are defending seats are ones Barack Obama (and to a lesser extent Hillary Clinton) won.

There are four reasons why these contests are so important to the long-term prospects of the Democratic Party:

1) They represent a major opportunity to reverse the tremendous state-level damage done to Democrats in 2010…

2) Winning back gubernatorial mansions could have real impact over the redistricting of the House in the next decade…

3) These races give Dems a chance to turn things around in swing states and “blue wall” states that Trump won…

4) Winning back states could have a big influence on policy…

Interactive map & full details at the link. Remember, those of you on (other) social media — Sharing Is Caring!
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Apart from preparing ourselves for the next battle(s), what’s on the agenda for the day?



Friday Morning Open Thread: Thank You, Hillary

Apart from recovering from yesterday’s festivities and/or shopping plans, what’s on the agenda for the day?

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Jared Bernstein and Ben Spielberg, in the Washington Post, “Thankful for the Fight for $15“:

The Fight for $15 has been incredibly successful since 100 fast-food workers first went on strike on Nov. 29, 2012, in New York City. The movement they helped create went 5-for-5 during the most recent election, winning ballot initiatives in Arizona, Colorado, Maine and Washington, while defeating a subminimum wage law for teenagers in South Dakota. And with the anniversary of its original strike approaching, that movement is only gaining steam.

As Bryce Covert of the news site ThinkProgress recently reported, workers in more than 340 cities will go on strike again on Tuesday, while “fast food employees, airport workers, childcare and home care providers, and university graduate students” will engage in “civil disobedience at McDonald’s and 20 of the nation’s largest airports.” The workers have also upped the ante: In addition to their calls for minimum wage increases, they’re “demanding no deportations of undocumented immigrants, an end to police violence against black people, and the protection of health care coverage.”

Winning all of these important fights is unlikely, especially in an era of Republican governance, but this type of grass-roots activism is exactly what’s needed. Coupled with the widespread popularity of increasing the minimum wage, these protests could help lead to an increase in the federal wage floor sometime during the next four years.

Such an increase would be long overdue. The federal minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 an hour since July 2009 and, after accounting for inflation, is 24 percent below its maximum annual value from 1968. It was 55 percent of the median wage that year, according to OECD data; in 2015, that ratio had fallen to 36 percent, significantly below international norms