Two Things That Happened And One That Didn’t

I’m going to keep this short (you’ve heard that before from me) because my disdain for punditry extends to my own attempts.

Still, it seems to me that there is one real measure of success or failure (“winning” or “losing”) for any political event: did what just occurred move votes to one side or the other.  Everything else is just noise, or, as our elite bloviators perform it, theater criticism.


By that criterion there were only two moments that mattered last night, and both did real damage to Team Trump.

The first was obvious from the moment the words left Mike Pence’s mouth: “You whipped out that Mexican thing again.”

I’m sure I’m not alone in my instant reaction:  “He just said WHHHAAAATTTTT!” Latino Twitter was unamused, certainly — and this is key.  There are some constituencies in which Trump cannot fall any further.  The number of Black Trump supporters is hovering around the margin of error — he’s polling between two and six percent nationally.

But there are still Latino votes to lose.  A Univision battleground state poll found Hillary lagging about eight points behind Obama’s numbers in each state, with Florida’s 24 percent gap between the two the narrowest of the lot.  Did Mike Pence help Trump with those voters last night?

The question answers itself.

The other meaningful moment was equally apparent as it happened.  That would be this exchange:

Governor, why don’t you trust women to make this choice for themselves? We can encourage people to support life. Of course we can. But why don’t you trust women? Why doesn’t Donald Trump trust women to make this choice for themselves?

That’s what we ought to be doing in public life. Living our lives of faith or motivation with enthusiasm and excitement, convincing other, dialoguing with each other about important moral issues of the day…

PENCE: Because there are…

KAINE: … but on fundamental issues of morality, we should let women make their own decisions.

PENCE: Because there is — a society can be judged by how it deals with its most vulnerable, the aged, the infirm, the disabled, and the unborn. I believe it with all my heart. And I couldn’t be more proud to be standing with a pro-life candidate in Donald Trump.

One man said that American women are the agents of their own lives.  The other said that they cannot be, that his personal religious commitment pre-empts any decision a woman might choose to make.  All the squid-ink of piety Pence spewed did not obscure the painfully clear: Mike Pence would use the force of law to ensure no woman had more authority over their bodies than the state would.

While abortion remains an issue on which the American electorate is divided, and there are certainly plenty of women who are committed to the anti-abortion cause — and plan to vote accordingly — plenty more voters recoil at the idea of the Trump-Pence punitive approach.  ETA: As valued commentator RaflW notes below , an overwhelming majority of Americans favor at least some abortion rights.  But almost half of  those polled identify as “pro-life.”  And those are the people who seem to me to be the focus of the argument that Kaine advanced against Trump and Pence:  even if you are queasy around the topic of abortion, the reminder of the blunt rejectionism and punishment-centered views of the GOP has some force. Given the significance (we are told) of the suburban woman and millenials in this year’s swing states, there’s no joy for the Trump crowd here either; shoring up the base that’s already enthusiastically committed to you is less important than giving those who might be persuadable to pull the lever for your side.

To me, everything else that occurred in the debate takes second place to those two brief passages.  Kaine did well, I think, to get Pence on record denying his savior thrice before cock-crow — that helps drive the second day narrative, which is certainly useful.  But in terms of actually grabbing votes?

Further alienating the Latino/a vote and making it ever harder for women to cast a GOP ballot — and not just women, but any man who sees women as actual people —  ain’t exactly a royal road to victory.

And as for the moment that never happened?

We’ve had 180 minutes of debates so far.  180 minutest to go.

As I write this, after the hottest half year on record; after devastating drought; after horrific fires; after record floods; with a Category 4/3 hurricane bearing down on Florida, having already wrecked Haiti — with all this, there have been exactly zero questions on climate change.  Tim Kaine managed to slip in a mention in a national security answer, praising Clinton for forging “strong alliances to battle terrorism and climate change.” Clinton did get Trump to deny saying climate change was a Chinese hoax — as he did.  But that’s it.

This is simply disgraceful.  One more piece of evidence that our elite political media if f**king hopeless.

That is all. [Flips Pundit-Mode to “off”]

Image:  J. M. W. Turner, Shade and Darkness — The Evening of the Deluge, 1843.

A Less Caucasian Caucus

According to this Buzzfeed article, Latino participation rates in this year’s Iowa caucuses increased more than 10-fold over 2012 rates and were triple the 2008 tally:

After dismal Latino turnout numbers in Iowa the past two presidential caucuses, early indications suggest that a $300,000 nonpartisan effort to get Hispanics to caucus succeeded in getting record turnout.

The initiative by the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) aimed to get 10,000 out of 50,000 registered Latino voters to caucus sites by repeatedly contacting them through phone calls and door knocks. NBC News exit poll shows that 4% of Democratic caucus-goers were Hispanic and 2% were on the Republican side. With both sides seeing huge turnout (171,000 for the Democrats and more than 180,000 for the GOP) that comes out to close to 10,500 Latinos.

Only 1,000 Latinos caucused in 2012. In 2008, when the race was competitive for both Democrats and Republicans, that number was 3,500.

LULAC, drawing from responses campaign field staff received from phone calls, door-knocking, and “Commit to Caucus” returns from mailers, believes the number is closer to 13,000.

I wonder how much of the turnout was driven by the LULAC initiative vs. Trump’s anti-Mexican scaremongering. It would also be interesting to know how the Latino Democratic caucus participants voted between Sanders and Clinton.

The article says exit polls showed 58% of minorities in last night’s Democratic caucuses went for Clinton, but I don’t think it was broken out by ethnic group, and Sanders won most of the large counties where minorities live.

Latinos preferred Clinton to Obama almost two to one in the 2008 primaries, and if they break decisively for Clinton again, that could be a huge factor in who ends up winning the nomination. Or not. Who knows?

PS: Once again, Richard was right about how dumb it is to extrapolate from the Iowa primaries, so please take this post with a grain of stupid (as usual).

Res Ipsa Loquitur: Obama Derangement/Immigration Edition

I really do think the Democrats would have a lock on election success if only Obama would say publicly that drinking Drano(hemlock?) is a bad idea.

Jacques-Louis_David_-_The_Death_of_Socrates_-_Google_Art_Project (1)

For the latest on that score, check this out:

Most Americans say they back a plan that would allow certain illegal immigrants to stay in the country, but support for the idea slips when President Barack Obama’s name is attached to the question, according to a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll.

That is:

Sixty-one percent of Americans supported Obama’s plan — which shields some undocumented immigrants from deportation — when they were not told Obama had taken the action, according to the poll released Wednesday. While half of Republicans rejected the plan when described this way, 42 percent of Republicans supported it.

Told that the idea was Obama’s, though…and this happened:

Support fell to 54 percent overall, with only 31 percent of Republicans supporting it and 62 percent opposing the measures.

I guess that the fact that almost a third of Republicans still managed to hang on to their view exceeds my expectations.  But a 20 percent swing attributable only to the horror at lining up with the Kenyan Moooslim Socialist Usurper is a measure of the triumph of the worst elements in our polity.  They’ve managed to make agreement with even the most mild of sensible ideas an existential horror for too many.  (See criminal justice reform for another reminder.)

As long as that prevails (and it looks like it will for quite a while) we’ve got problems. And the urgent need to elect a Democrat to the Presidency this November.

The Full Donald

Here we go:

Donald Trump, the leading contender to become the Republican party’s nominee for US presidential candidate, has called for a “total and complete shutdown” of the country’s borders to Muslims in the wake of the San Bernardino terrorist attack.
Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said Trump’s proposed ban would apply to “everybody”, including Muslims seeking immigration visas as well as tourists seeking to enter the country.

The obvious next question concerns the Muslims still in the country. Perhaps there’s some kind of facility where they could be housed in the interim?

Bring On The Dancing Ponies

Kevin Drum lost his even keel yesterday (just a bit, and he’s back today) with a post titled “The Press Needs to Stop Encouraging Republican Lunacy Toward Muslims“. His point is that the press is just trolling with questions like “should Muslims be registered?” or “should Muslims have special identity cards?” and perhaps they should cut it the fuck out, since these guys are crazy enough without someone prompting them.

I have a slightly different opinion: the press is under no obligation to treat Republican candidates for President with the same care as escaped mental patients, or your mouthy racist uncle after a half dozen boilermakers. I want more questions like the ones that Trump’s been asked, and the more outrageous, the better: “Should Muslim babies be implanted with trackers at birth or in utero?” “How many vaginal and/or anal probes per week should Muslims be given to be sure they aren’t vaginal or rectal suicide bombers?” (BTW–can someone explain to me why vaginal/rectal suicide bombing hasn’t become the latest media fixation? Shouldn’t we all be piss pants scared at that possibility?)

Just let these fuckers lose their shit over the best vetted refugees in the history of human exodus. Let them alienate the few rational Republicans left in the party (like this guy). In short: show us on the map where you would put your internment camps, Donald.

Seems Important

This was probably mentioned in the comments somewhere but nobody seems to be making a big deal of the fact that the next NBC debate is on Telemundo, and it’s the only debate on a Latino network for the Republicans.  So the hissy fit du jour has a second benefit, aside from working the refs:  it keeps the clown show away from anyone who might ask pointed questions about the xenophobic anti-Latino racism that Republican primary voters crave.

Looking at the debate schedule, Democrats will have 6 debates during the primary cycle, and Republicans will have 11 (assuming they end up on Telemundo).  As far as I’m concerned, Democrats should be matching Republicans 1:1 on debates.

It ain’t coca-cola, it’s rice

A few years back, there was a local election where a candidate (a Democratic one, actually) would go on the radio and say “Godless Chinese communists” all the time. It was his go-to line and it seemed to help him in the polls, though he ultimately lost, fortunately.

Jeb’s latest, along with Scott Walker’s recent stupidity about the Chinese market crash and the tense situation on the Korean obrder, makes me wonder if Asia-bashing is going to be a big part of this presidential election (or at least the Republican primary):

When asked if he thought his repeated use of the term “anchor babies” – a derogatory term for children born in the U.S. to undocumented immigrant parents – Bush said: “What I was talking about was the specific case of fraud being committed where there’s organized efforts, and frankly, it’s more related to Asian people coming into our country and having children in that organized effort.”