Friday, November 11, 2016

Hello, I Must Be Going

My decision to step away from contemporary political commentary is personal, so my way of mourning and saying goodbye to the US presidency--and perhaps, along the way, examining how if not why I felt about it as I did--is also personal.

In the past couple of years, I've said goodbye to a couple of areas of activity that involved writing of some sort.  Though they were jobs that given better alternatives I wouldn't have chosen, I put a lot of myself into them.  So my way of freeing myself from them was to go back over the work, retrospectively, with maybe some attempts to summarize if not evaluate.  And when I did that obsessively enough, I was done with it.  And I can move into the David Letterman phase, of wondering why I did it in the first place, and who was that person.

In terms of this blog, it's mostly about allocating remaining time and energies, as well as about competence and audience.  I feel less competent to understand this time and place merely by trying to keep up with the most available information sources.  Clearly this election showed that this approach is insufficient at best.  For one thing I was serious that only Carl Jung could understand what happened.  I'll be looking again particularly at the volume of his collected works called Civilization in Transition, in which he writes a lot about the 30s and 40s, the Nazis and Europe.

Generally though I need to observe and write not as some featureless cultural/political commentator but as I am at this age, with those limitations and those experiences of years that I feel called to examine more closely.  So that's what I plan to do, on an entirely new site starting in the new year.  That's actually been on my mind for at least the past year or two.

In terms of audience, there are at best a handful of people I know of who read this blog regularly, and I know most of their names. I'm grateful for their allegiance and compliments.  I hope they follow me to a new venue, and I hope others join them there.  There's the question of social media participation to help spread the word, but I haven't answered that for myself yet.  Facebook still seems more like an unsightly disease than an opportunity, but maybe I should revisit that.

My way of saying goodbye to the enterprise I've been engaged in here at Dreaming Up Daily, and before that at what's now called American Dash (where I started in 2002 ) will be to say goodbye to President Obama and the American presidency. Why I'm doing it that way will become apparent when I start it.

I won't deny that being sickened by politics now has played a role in turning away from it, as has decreasing faith in conventional efforts of any kind to forestall the coming darkness.  I wish those who do fight the good fight well, but I'm not one of them, and it seems pointless to report on them here, or on the humiliations and degradation to come.  I have no role except waning witness, and  I've witnessed to enough.  It's time to deepen some meaning, to explore the past and future in different ways.

For some years I maintained a number of blogs, experimenting with reaching audiences specific to particular areas.  I've essentially abandoned most of them.  Social media and phone aps have absorbed the old blog audience (so "nobody blogs anymore.")

And that's part of the general competence question.  I don't participate in the social media smartphone Uber (what a well chosen name!) culture, so there's too much now that I don't understand through direct experience.  And I have no desire to get that experience.  (I do note however that both David Remnick in his previously quoted essay and President Obama in a recent interview expressed great concern for social media influence on the information people get and believe, which Remnick cites as a factor in this election.)

It's also been awhile since I've more generally been considered a competent observer, outside the fantasy world of a self-published blog.  Partly that's due to the contraction of publishing outlets but a lot of it has been prejudices about age.  One of the prejudices being that if somebody isn't well-known and/or in a powerful position by the age of 50, they are no longer worth listening to.  On the other hand, at 70 I accept that there is some basis for this now. With limited new experience, perspective becomes more and more important, and it gets to be time to be out front about that.

What I did here during the campaign however was apply a little judgment to extracting what seemed the most interesting and most important news or comments originated by others on the web, as both a daily report and a kind of diary.  That turned out to be an almost transcendental mockery of itself, and certainly calls into question the entire effort.  But for those who wish to go back over it, it will still be here, along with everything else that lives down on the server farm, accessible to--but mostly ignored by--the entire Internet-enabled world.

Some of the concerns of these blogs I started have also faded, but others--like comments on books--can simply be incorporated in one new site.  I'll probably keep adding to the archive of my past work and links on line at kowincidence, because there is past work I am proud of, and I have a fan base (considerably smaller than it used to be, though) at Soul of Star Trek.

I also have in mind refining the original mission of Dreaming Up Daily, which was oriented towards the future.  That may result in another new site eventually.  But that's too much information--or speculation--already.

So I'll stay through the rest of the calendar year.  But I am telling you---I must be... going.

2016: The Conclusion

My inbox is full of defiance.

The Center for Biological Diversity email spoke of shock, sadness and tears, and then of resolve. "We're warriors. It's what we do. We know what we're up against."

"Yesterday was hard," said .350, the climate crisis group. "Today is hard too, but it's not too early to start figuring out what comes next."  The email announces a a live strategy session with leaders from the climate movement, the immigration justice movement, the Movement for Black Lives, Center for Community Change, a Latino group and other groups concerned about bigotry as well as other issues.
Climate Reality dwells on the progress made outside the federal government, even on election day.

They're clear on it.  It's defiance.  It's working on other levels, in other ways.  It's going to make for some strange allies.  The hope of the climate is apparently now China, which seems about right, being as crazy as the election.  But it could happen, and  at best it will doom the US--and the so-called American values-- to being a second class nation in every respect.  Maybe that's all this country can handle.

Scanning the news, apart from previews of the coming apocalypse, there are the many efforts to normalize the situation.  The peaceful transfer of power is in some sense part of the job, but what must it feel like?  To me it feels like observing Germany in 1933, as Hitler became the elected chancellor.

I try to avoid a bitter version of Schadenfreude for what some of these previously powerful people are going through, as a result of their failures.  What must it be like, for example, to be a persona in the news media and have to treat this is a normal political transfer of power?  An ignorant demagogue that the compromises and failures of media helped to happen?  Knowing as well that any false step could soon bring powerful wrath down on them?

Do the Democrats realize that they've failed just once too often? Do Susan Surandon and Jill Stein realize their self-indulgence contributed to this?  Of course not--that's the definition of their self-indulgence.   Why hasn't James Comey resigned in shame?  Why hasn't he been fired?

Most of these people are millionaires.  They'll be fine, except for living with profound humiliation, if they're capable of it.

How many of them are going to be heiling Hitler in three months?

It will be other people who will take the brunt, and the slaughter of other life on this planet accelerates to its doom.

Can you even imagine what the inauguration is going to like?  All the white faces gathered in hate, as Americans gape at their TVs and smartphones to see a profoundly ignorant man be handed the most powerful office in the world, a man who can't read a briefing book to save his life, or ours?  A profoundly sick man to lead a profoundly sick and sickened country, and a riven world.

I haven't been able to stomach reading much on all this, but I did read David Remnick in the New Yorker:

"On January 20, 2017, we will bid farewell to the first African-American President—a man of integrity, dignity, and generous spirit—and witness the inauguration of a con who did little to spurn endorsement by forces of xenophobia and white supremacy. It is impossible to react to this moment with anything less than revulsion and profound anxiety...

All along, Trump seemed like a twisted caricature of every rotten reflex of the radical right. That he has prevailed, that he has won this election, is a crushing blow to the spirit; it is an event that will likely cast the country into a period of economic, political, and social uncertainty that we cannot yet imagine. That the electorate has, in its plurality, decided to live in Trump’s world of vanity, hate, arrogance, untruth, and recklessness, his disdain for democratic norms, is a fact that will lead, inevitably, to all manner of national decline and suffering."

"In the coming days, commentators will attempt to normalize this event," he warns, correctly. He recites some of the arguments we're already hearing. "There is no reason to believe this palaver. There is no reason to believe that Trump and his band of associates—Chris Christie, Rudolph Giuliani, Mike Pence, and, yes, Paul Ryan—are in any mood to govern as Republicans within the traditional boundaries of decency."

"For eight years, the country has lived with Barack Obama as its President. Too often, we tried to diminish the racism and resentment that bubbled under the cyber-surface. But the information loop had been shattered."

"To combat authoritarianism, to call out lies, to struggle honorably and fiercely in the name of American ideals—that is what is left to do. That is all there is to do."

I may not be doing that here, but while I am still here, that's my message: it's not normal.  It's not acceptable.  The darkness is coming.

Addendum: As the "Not My President" demonstrations continue, Michelle Goldberg in Slate notes that the normalization process has begun, including from Democrats.  Only Harry Reid, she says, has acknowledged the fear of people across the country.  She notes the hate crimes and violence that are already being perpetrated by Trump supporters, the off-the-books violence which also was the first step with the Nazis.  The Klan held a victory parade in North Carolina.  That's where we are.

I understand, even through my lack of sleep since Tuesday, that things were not ideal in this country before.  But some slow progress was being made, basically repairs, with some real investments in a better future.  Some of it took initiative and creativity, some just prodding, some of it was to stand back and not resist changes whose time had come.  The forces arrayed against even that were and are powerful.  Now they are ascendant and there is much less to hold them back, and plenty to encourage them.

This, I'm sure some would say, only proves the fragility of the current system.  Our era can be seen as governed by a messy evolution like past history, or perhaps as a transitional period to the larger changes that must come if civilization is to survive.  I understand the impatience with this process, the desire for some quick revolutionary change.  I just don't think anything like that has ever succeeded.  I just see it causing immense pain and suffering.

This civilization is dying of its own weight.  But it's a complex civilization, with currents of change running in all directions.  Maybe this country will eventually benefit from the shock of a Dark Age, if it survives it.  I very likely won't be around to see that.

This has been an evolutionary challenge.  Had humankind, in this free industrious society, reached the maturity, complete with intellectual understanding and psychological self-awareness, to save the planet from the consequences of its brutal past?  Obviously not yet.  But for the past eight years it was at worst buying time.  It looks increasingly like time is running out anyway.  But now that path is gone, and I don't see a new one that might work.  And frankly I don't think anyone else does either.

Maybe this country deserves the darkness for the injustices it has continued to perpetuate, the self-interested ignorance it built into its institutions, all of them driven and shaped by money, with the slowly changing but still powerful undercurrents of hatred for the Other.

In any case, darkness is what we're getting.  The darkness will first engulf the most vulnerable.  For some it will make the bad worse.  For others it pushes the tolerable into catastrophe.  It will touch some of the currently entitled, which is partly why we're seeing the rush to fawn.

As for myself, we may be able to keep the lights on here for awhile.  But all I have left to say requires a different context, with a different focus.   And I simply cannot acknowledge, or even put those two words together, the one that begins with P and the other with T.  Not ever.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

What Happens When the Unthinkable Happens

As I begin writing this, it hasn't happened yet, but it seems all but inevitable.  And it might well be that my home state of PA will seal the coffin lid.

First let's deal with the shock.  It's the Kennedy assassination.  That's the only analogue I can think of.

The dimensions of this are unprecedented in my lifetime.  It is a political crisis that may well become an economic crisis, and that's even before Trump takes office.  I'm not watching cable TV.  So I don't know the speculation about recounts and so on, nor possible urban riots.  Thuggery however was apparent at polling places all across the country.

The first thought I had was the irony, if that's not too weak a word, of the fact that the person who will have to guide the country through this is President Obama, for the next crucial couple of months.

And I certainly would not like to be Hillary Clinton, when these vengeful assholes take over.  If there is any attempt at reconciliation I will be as shocked as I am at this outcome.

The second thought was that Russia won this election.  Not only because of any possible role the wikileaks meddling had but because of the global realignment that may result.  The rest of the world is already freaking out, and when that is exhausted, there are going to be meetings about forming new alliances and understandings because the United States is just too crazy to be this powerful.

If the US withdraws from the Paris climate treaty, it will fall apart, and the last known hope for addressing the causes of the climate crisis will collapse.  So yes, the apocalypse is hastening down the wind.

There will be postmortems but not here, because I don't care "why" this happened. All I need to know is that even in exit polls more than 60% said that Trump is not qualified to be President, and however the final numbers play out, that is not reflected in the vote.  Only Carl Jung could explain why this happened.

Yes, as I'm sure many will be saying, this is Brexit cubed.  And it is even more fateful.

In my generation, some of us have long had quiet conversations about whether we were going to outlive the apocalypse.   For me, what's happening with the rapid destruction of the natural world, the poisoning of the oceans, the rapid extinction of animals, the slow response to the climate crisis, suggested quite recently that this civilization might hang together past the middle of this century, but not a lot longer.

But it would be tested.  And a sensible government, and public trust in it, would be essential.  Both of those have been shattered.  We survived Reagan.  We survived Bush II.  It is not impossible to survive four years of Trump.  But just as we are suffering Reagan's legacy now, the next four years may well make the future a hell of a lot shorter.

This is a different America and a different world tomorrow than it was today.  Nothing is safe--not the dollar, not the banks, not civic peace and civility, and that's just the rest of the week.

Personally,  I had already decided to end my political commentary at the end of this year.  I wanted to post some farewells to the Obama presidency, and move on.  That's certainly what's going to happen now.

I'm 70.  I've been involved somehow in elections and politics since 1960.  I've had great nights, and I've had my heart broken.  This is one heartbreak too many.

People like President Obama will counsel us not to freak out.  I get that.  So I will keep my fears for my survival to myself.  Apart from the economy generally, Social Security and Medicare are no longer secure.

It's going to be very hard to hope, but people with a stake in the future--young people, parents--eventually will choose to fight, to make things better within their sphere of influence.  They may do this out of patriotism and/or necessity.

For if this election was legitimate--and while so many states won by just enough both seems suspicious and also to obviate the likelihood of any kind of systemic tampering we're familiar with--the message that will be hardest to confront is that this time, hate trumped love.  It happened in Nazi Germany, apparently.  Its effects will only be worse if met with passivity.

But I'm done with it. Anything I have to say at this point in my life and in this position is irrelevant anyway.  I will try to write as if deepening the meaning of my past and orienting those insights to the future actually might matter to maybe a few.  But I've got nothing to say anymore about the present.

And I'll support my friends and family as best I can.  But I can't pretend this is anything but apocalyptic.

So Far...Not So Good

It's coming on 6:30p. Pacific time, and so far the race for the presidency is uncomfortably close.  What seems fairly clear however is that the massive repudiation of Donald Trump necessary to begin healing the political process is not happening.  If Hillary wins, it is likely to be very close.  Whoever wins the Senate, that will be a narrow margin.  Dysfunction and gridlock, polarization unto paralysis, seems the most likely outcome.

This is already the nightmare we hoped to avoid.  Key states look like they are going to be razor thin, and if Trump is on the losing side, it seems likely he won't go quietly.  Our long national nightmare may be just beginning.

And according to the NYTimes Upshot that had forecast an 80% chance of Hillary winning, the unthinkable is currently projected to happen: Trump with a 54% chance.

The Sunny Side of the Vote

It's finally here, and forecasts for most places say there's definitely a sunny side of the street to walk, on the way to the polls.  So why not carry this jazzy contemporary take by Esperanza Spalding, playing, fittingly enough, in the White House.

It might also be an appropriate time to note how much great music the Obamas brought to the White House.  It was glorious.  And then consider the musicians for Hillary as opposed to if any for her opponent.  That's worth a vote right there.

Vote For

My baseline reason for voting for Hillary hasn't changed from way back last spring.  That's when I was still insisting I wasn't going to blog on this campaign.  That soon went the way of a lot of campaign promises.

I enunciated the point here in April.  Basically it's the 1972 slogan of a comedy candidate, George Papoon of the Surrealist Light People's Party.  His slogan was: Not Insane.

Hillary Clinton is Not Insane.  This year, that's worth a vote for President.

There is the additional element important to me in continuing the progress made by President Obama, especially on the climate crisis but also the economy, in policy (like not favoring torture, as the Donald does) and so on.  But for me that pretty much follows from Not Insane.

Personally, for all the caveats I might mention, I regard Hillary's boomer past as a plus, unlike the GOPer haters.  I like that she knew "radicals" and that she was and probably still is an idealist.  Maybe I'm projecting because we could easily have met in 1969, and may have passed on the streets of New Haven, when she and Bill were in law school.  He lived in a house just across the sound from where I was for awhile.  
But I'm pretty much over any identification I might have felt in the '90s.  I just have a better feeling about where she came from than the Donald, who was then spending his time keeping people of color out of his father's buildings.  And it is a choice: one or the other.

But what makes me feel better about this vote than I expected is how she conducted herself in this campaign.  She showed courage, persistence and the ability to rise to the occasion.  Her campaign itself was so much better than in 2008.  But then, she had Obama's people with her this time.

It may be true that the positives we're voting for are because they are threatened and need to be reaffirmed.  But they always do.  Maybe not to this extent, but even if hope wasn't a big theme this time, that's part of it.

And as this awful campaign ends, there's a need to reaffirm that we're better than this.

So in some sense the vote against and the vote for are the same.  Don't let the bully win.  Vote for the candidate who is Not Insane.

Monday, November 07, 2016

The Done with Donald Chronicles: Obama's Bet

The Clinton campaign's official end was a monstrous rally in Philadelphia.  Some 40,000 people gathered outside of Independence Hall.  The line to get in reportedly stretched for four miles.

Bruce Springsteen sang. Chelsea Clinton introduced Bill Clinton, who introduced The Closer, Michelle Obama, who made her very incisive pitch, noting again that elections turn on a difference of 15 votes per precinct, and getting 15 voters among friends and family to the polls is a doable number.

Michelle introduced President Obama.  This was in its way a farewell for them, and a chance for the crowd to roar its appreciation.  President Obama recalled the sentiments that made him famous.  Not only following "Yes, We Can" with "Yes, We Did," but hope and change.“I am betting that tomorrow that you will reject fear and choose hope."    

And so President Obama introduced Hillary Clinton, who told the crowd: “So make no mistake, our core values are being tested in this election. We know enough about my opponent — we know who he is. The real question for us is what kind of country we want to be and what kind of future we want to build for our children."

"And always, always, love trumps hate."

Earlier in the day:
Final national polls show Hillary with a lead of from 3 to 6 points.

The Dow was so relieved that Hillary is ahead that it zoomed up 371 points.  But then that's just more evidence of the International J**ish banking conspiracy the orange-faced fuhrer has revealed.

Friday's job report by the way is not making news because it was so good.  Unemployment down below 5 percent (the contemporary measure of "full employment") with wages up.  But of course that, too, is just more evidence of...etc. etc.

Election Day weather is expected to be pretty good almost everywhere.  (I'm not sure, but that might also be part of the conspiracy.)

Monday marked the last campaign speeches Barack Obama will make as President.  (He says ever, but I wouldn't count on that.)  He got a bit nostalgic at his last solo speech in New Hampshire.  You might recall that he made his famous "Yes, We Can" speech that inspired a generation or two in New Hampshire--the night he lost the primary to Hillary Clinton.

President Obama  with the "highest election day approval rating in recent history" on Election Day for a successor, now at 56%.  Better than Reagan after his 8 years.

"In the waning days of a bitter, exhausting, enervating election season, President Obama has often seemed to be the only person in America who is still having fun," said the WPost, which asserts the clear winners of the campaign are the Obamas.

What President Obama represents is more than suggested by another WPost story, about a boy with cerebral palsy whose wheel chair was assaulted as he was ejected from a Trump rally, and who at a Hillary rally met President Obama.

For some reason, Politico published a fascinating insiders report of Election Day 2008, as Senator Barack Obama became President. Learn inside terminology like  "negative flake!"

But nervous Dems may also recall 2004 when exit polls showed John Kerry was on his way to victory.  You'll never guess where (Secretary of State) John Kerry is on this election day.  Antarctica.  Not kidding. Couldn't get any farther away than that.

 Hillary Clinton's expected victory tomorrow will be a sweet relief.  But nothing will ever come close to 2008:

And so the last eloquent words come from President Obama, ending his speech for Hillary in Philadelphia:

"I’m betting that tomorrow, most mom and dads across America won’t vote for someone that denigrates their daughters from the highest office in the land. I’m betting that most Americans won’t vote for someone who considers minorities and immigrants and people with disabilities as inferior, who considers people who practice different faiths as objects of suspicion.

I’m betting that tomorrow that true conservatives won’t cast their vote for someone with no regard for the Constitution. I’m betting that young people turn out to vote because your future is at stake. I’m betting that men across the country will have no problem voting for the more qualified candidate who happens to be a woman.

I’m betting that African Americans will vote in big numbers because this journey we’ve been on has never been about the color of a president but the content of his or her character.

 I’m betting that America will reject a politics of resentment and a politics of blame, and choose a politics that says we’re stronger together. I am betting that tomorrow, you will reject fear, and you’ll chose hope. I’m betting that the wisdom and decency and generosity of the American people will once again win the day. And that is a bet that I have never, ever lost.”

Vote Against

Where do we start?  Nearly continuous pathological liar?  A level of ignorance that makes G.W. Bush look like Einstein?  A heart of darkness?

Two issues are enough.  Nuclear weapons.  Climate crisis.  That's the future, starting right now.

And there's the economy, wrecked beyond recognition by convulsing the health care system alone.  There are reasons stock markets went up Sunday when Comey exonerated Clinton.

We could drill down to some points not repeatedly made.  Jonathan Bernstein made two last week.  First is the level of opposition to Trump by Republicans, many of them on the basis that he is dangerously unfit.  Despite the craven congressional leaders, that opposition is extraordinarily widespread.  Bernstein suggests that if that story had been more prominent, Trump would have faded long ago.

Whether the Republican party becomes a political party again or remains a cabal supported by a cult is an open question.  But as political storm troopers for an orange-haired Hitler, let's not.

Bernstein's other point is the one I want to emphasize as motivator.  You can't let the bully win.

It's a fact of life learned many times.  But it was very significant when the electoral chances of the bully Trump was given life by the Federal Bureau of Insinuation, and all the other Republican bullies came running out of the shadow, shouting their threats.

Bullies at Trump rallies. Bullies on talk radio and Faux News.  But worse, bullies in Congress.  Bullies leading Congress.

Bernstein makes his point in terms of the survival of the Republican party: "If there's ever any hope for effective conservative government in the U.S., the first job is to reclaim the Republican Party for conservatives who actually try to do the hard work of governing. And that means standing up to the would-be True Conservatives -- whether they're at Heritage Action, on talk radio and other conservative media, or even in Congress."

That's a sophisticated reason for conservative Republicans, and everyone else who sees the need for governing our way through to the future, to resist Trump and the other bullies now in charge.

But there's a simpler reason.  You can't let the bullies win.  Because everybody else loses.

Electionland: The Process

If events warrant--and they probably will--I'll keep updating this post on the ongoing election process.
[At the moment blogger is having problems with italics. I'm aware, but past experience suggests to wait it out.]

Updates Monday:
In 1972, stories that the TV networks were planning to project the winner of the presidential election when the East Coast polls closed, raised a small furor.  I was one of the first to write about it, in the Boston Phoenix.  The argument against it was that voters in later time zones would feel discouraged and not vote, potentially altering the outcome.  In later races, this proved to be the case.  But the networks soon decided not to make their presidential projection until the West Coast polls were closed.  And they still do it that way.  Even in the era of exit polls, most journalism outlets comply.

But now, an online outfit called VoteCastr, in conjunction with the online magazine Slate, will start projecting battleground state races on Election Day morning, before any polls are closed.  This is raising a stink again. (Make that two stinks.)

Washington Post: "State leaders, voting experts and advocates say they are preparing for an unusual level of confusion and chaos Tuesday as voters cast their ballots in a historically bitter presidential race.

"Early voters in some states have faced hours-long lines the past several days. Democrats have filed a flurry of last-minute lawsuits alleging voter intimidation by Donald Trump supporters. And there have been some heated polling site confrontations between Trump voters and Hillary Clinton backers.

"Election monitors are especially worried this year about the specter of voter intimidation after calls by the Republican candidate for his supporters to stake out polling places and watch for fraud.Election officials in Pennsylvania and Arizona have become so concerned in recent days about potential intimidation that they issued advisories spelling out what types of threatening behavior are banned and the exact dimensions of buffer zones surrounding polling places."

TPM: "Federal judges in North Carolina and Pennsylvania ruled in favor of the Republicans in lawsuits brought by the states' Democratic parties against their GOP counterparts, the Trump campaign, Trump ally Roger Stone, and Stone's group Stop The Steal.

Democrats had asked the courts to intervene in what they described as vigilante voter intimidation tactics. U.S. District Court Judge Catherine Eagles, in Greensboro, N.C., and U.S. District Court Judge Paul Diamond, in Philadelphia, issued decisions Monday declining to get involved.  Both judges said the Democrats hadn't brought forward enough evidence to show the Republicans were planning voter intimidation activities."

Politico suggests that even losing these suits is good for Dems because stories about them raises awareness in possibly affected groups of voters--who don't want to let the bullies win.

TPM: US Supreme Court denied reinstating the restraining order against Trump campaign election tactics deemed voter intimidation in Ohio.  Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted that such tactics are illegal under existing Ohio law.

NYTimes: "The Justice Department said Monday that it would deploy more than 500 people in 28 states on Tuesday to monitor Election Day practices and guard against intimidation and disruptions.

The number is a sharp decrease from the 2012 presidential election, when the Justice Department had more than 780 personnel in place on Election Day at the close of what was a much less tumultuous campaign.

Officials placed blame for the shrinking federal presence on a 2013 Supreme Court ruling that limited their ability under the Voting Rights Act to deploy observers in jurisdictions – mainly in the South – with a history of voting discrimination."

SundayPolitico story released Sunday is headlined:
Media launches joint war-room to spot voting problems:

"After spending 2016 trying to outmaneuver each other and deliver the next big break, hundreds of newsrooms are now engaged in unprecedented reporting partnerships to uncover barriers to voting and debunk fake news that can cause chaos and confusion on Election Day.

The biggest of the new alliances is Electionland, a project involving more than 400 newsrooms across the country casting aside competitiveness to share real-time data and tips on everything from reports about long lines and voter intimidation to hoax tweets suggesting stuffed ballot boxes."

Electionland has already been on the job and has broken several stories. Another new organization focusing on election day is Votecastr.  It's not clear from the story which media outlets are using these services, except the New York Times, USA Today and many local papers and sites.  CNN and AP are specifically not using Electionland.

On Sunday, the Republican majority on a federal court of appeals panels lifted the injunction ordered by a federal judge "barring Donald Trump's campaign and its allies from Election Day actions that could intimidate voters looking to cast their ballots in the battleground state of Ohio."  Late Sunday, Politico reported that Democrats applied to Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan (who oversees that federal district) to reinstate the injunction for election day.

However, this was considered unlikely to succeed since Kagan probably would involve the rest of the supremes, and overturning the appeals court ruling would require 5 of the current 8 Justices.

The Done with Donald Chronicles: Mo Better

If the presidential election depended on James Comey, Trump would have been ahead by Saturday night.

But on Sunday, Comey's letter to Congress essentially saying Never Mind about the emails the FBI announced it found last week may help Hillary on the margins, confirming what probably most Americans feel, which is they are tired of hearing about the damn emails.  (A point made in a brilliant final campaign sketch on SNL.)

Comey's latest letter enraged Trump and other GOPers who hit the reset button on the rigged system etc.  It did seem that the coverage of Comey essentially exonerating Clinton did not get anywhere near the same prominent and sustained coverage on Sunday as his Federal Department of Insinuation announcement a week ago Friday.  We'll see what Monday brings.

It might make the Trump chosen closing argument ring a little more hollow to non-alt.right cultists.  The latest ABC/WPost tracking poll has Hillary up five points, and winning the "moderate" vote.  This might help a little more in that group, especially with women who may be confirmed in their view that Hillary has been getting a raw deal, and enough is enough.

Some stories emphasize the closeness of the race.  But no polls so far have shown Trump ahead nationally nor in enough states to win.  The latest tracking polls show a trend towards Hillary.  NBC gives Hillary a 4 point lead, Politico 3.

Moreover, though headlines may emphasize that Trump has a chance, the stories say what was said a month ago, that it will take a Trump wave in virtually all the battleground states plus a big blue state like PA for him to get the minimum 270.

 Whereas Hillary has several possible combinations to get there and well beyond.  And polling is showing no Trump wave building.  Only the Trump campaign is saying there is one, based it seems on requests for rally tickets.  Did I mention how big McGovern's crowds were the last week of the campaign?

Again, there's nervousness because Trump is campaigning in blue states and so is Clinton.  But again, this is normal for Dem candidates to rally the base, especially now in states without early voting, like Michigan and PA.

The continuing theme of the surging Latino vote includes many who haven't voted before and are unlikely to be counted in polls.  What the polls do measure is the proportion, and Hillary is above 70% with Latinos.  And after all the propaganda about "hidden" votes for Trump, there's speculation on a hidden vote for Hillary, by women, not picked up by pollsters.  This one sounds plausible, though no way to know how statistically significant it might be.

Lots of media is playing it conservative possibly because Nate Silver keeps issuing cautions.  Though he gives Hillary a 2 in 3 chance to win, he finds her in a weaker position than Obama in 2012.  But there's some pretty strong disagreement among these experts.  The NYTimes Upshot gives Trump a 16% chance to win.

States in play: I refuse to believe New Hampshire will leave the blue.  Iowa maybe.  North Carolina and Florida (where the Latino vote is off the charts and more black voters than in 2012 early voting) remain probable for Hillary.

 Ohio remains possible (H leads in early voting so far, with claims that as in Florida, Rs are included.)  Utah likely Trump now, Arizona still maybe Hillary, on the strength of the Latino vote.  Pennsylvania and Michigan stay blue, and may not even be close.

So depending on how close it is in the eastern states, Hillary's victory could be obvious fairly quickly.  I'll be interested in when they call Florida, since they expect 70% of the vote to be cast before Tuesday.  But it may be close and take several hours.  Last time it took awhile, though Obama's victory was clear there.

So to sum up: On the basis of the Latino vote and Dem voter enthusiasm--which should pick up even more after the Comey announcement--I continue to believe Hillary has the momentum.  The ground game is paying off already and this is when the Dems access to the stars makes the final rallies meaningful.  LeBron James in Cleveland, JT in New Hampshire, the Boss in Philly.

In Florida Sunday, President Obama scored the kind of political point that can move those roiled uncommitteds, when he noted that Trump's campaign has taken away his Twitter privileges. "Now, if somebody can't handle a Twitter account, they can't handle the nuclear codes," Obama said.

Meanwhile the Trump campaign is flailing.  His events continue to be hate rallies. The parody of an "assassination attempt" that the Trumpeters are trumpeting turns out to be his own supporters beating up a Republican.  Like the man that President Obama defended at a Hillary rally, he was silently holding a sign.

The LA Times final election map gives Clinton 352 electoral votes, despite their poll consistently skewing towards Trump.  I expect Hillary to overperform the poll numbers, basically because of Latino and women voters.  That puts her in landslide territory, at least electorally.

In the end, a major chunk of that 67% or whatever it is that says the Donald is unfit to be President will finally manifest itself, I'm convinced.

Harbingers: long lines reported in Ohio early voting, but also in young and liberal North Hollywood CA--even though CA outcome is supposedly foreordained.  In other words, this is enthusiasm.

The Senate, they say, leans towards a Dem majority but essentially is a coin toss.  You really have to know individual races at this point to make predictions there.  It would take a Clinton popular vote as well as electoral vote landslide to create a wave that raises Senate and even House boats/votes.  But it could happen.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

The Done with Donald Chronicles: Mo

I'm going out on my own limb here to suggest that I see signs of momentum this weekend, and it's for Hillary Clinton.

The big news continues to be the Latino vote.  The New York Times story Hillary Clinton Appears to Gain Late Momentum on Surge of Latino Voters:

Hispanic voters in key states surged to cast their ballots in the final days of early voting this weekend, a demonstration of political power that lifted Hillary Clinton’s presidential hopes and threatened to block Donald J. Trump’s path to the White House.

Several media outlets confirm what the Clinton campaign suggested yesterday: On the basis of huge early voting, Nevada is going for Clinton.  There is increasing hope for Florida, (where Hillary campaigned in the rain), and Arizona may be moving in her direction.

One of the aspects of the Clinton campaign ground game noted by Politico involves star performers with the candidate or surrogate, physically tied to voting opportunities. Ahead of President Barack Obama's appearance with James Taylor, for example, the local operatives handed out tickets across the street from an early voting site in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Voting turnout there jumped 80 percent compared to the previous day, making it the single largest voting day there so far — and bumping up county-wide turnout 16 percent by itself.

It's been noted that Clinton has scheduled stops in Michigan and New Hampshire, and will end the campaign in PA--states where she's been ahead, and are usually Dem.  New Hampshire aside, it's not unusual for a Dem candidate to finish the campaign in such states.  Clinton is also campaigning in Ohio, where public polls show her behind.

Trump on the other hand is seeing some usually R states slip away, and is trying to pick off a big Dem one--desperately trying, according to Eric Levitz.

On the final weekend, Clinton is campaigning with musical and sports stars familiar to the local crowds (she had Steelers in Pittsburgh, she'll have LeBron James today in Cleveland) and her high-powered surrogates are barnstorming all across the map.

Trump's appearances are mostly solo, except for his family.  Not even Rs want to campaign with him--and thanks to convictions of his closest aides on corruption, Chris Christie can't.  When House Speaker Ryan relented and said he would appear with Trump, Trump cancelled the event.

 And Trump is back going off script again--or, to put it another way, as unhinged as ever.

Trump's final argument TV ad is a dark, global conspiracy alt.right screed which Josh Marshall calls anti-Semitic.  This, by the way, is almost classic Hitler stuff, without actually saying the word Jewish.

Hillary Clinton's final argument will be made in two TV ads, very upbeat and positive.

Politico and the Washington Post are playing up the drama, but once you get into the stories, there isn't much to support Trump movement except tea-leaf reading and quoting Trump.  A WPost story on early voting trends is substantive but mostly cautionary.

This story notes the decline in African American early voting in North Carolina, but attributes it to reduced early voting opportunities.  It doesn't mean these voters won't eventually show up.  As Benjamin Wallace-Wells writes in the New Yorker, black people in North Carolina are continuously engaged in civil rights struggles, including for their vote.  President Obama alluded to this in his recent appearances there.  As he also said, if Hillary wins North Carolina it may well mean she's won the presidency.

There was good news in the ABC tracking poll, with Clinton expanding her lead to 5 points: Key finding: “Even though both candidates are remarkably unpopular, there’s more affirmative voting for Clinton than for Trump, a factor that can motivate turnout. A majority of her supporters mainly support her, rather than opposing Trump. That’s pretty much reversed for Trump: 51 percent of his backers mainly oppose Clinton, rather than supporting him.”

If other polls bear this out--or more precisely, if this is true that there is more affirmative voting for Hillary--that translates into final weekend momentum.

Finally, I hadn't actually read the New Yorker endorsement of Clinton--it certainly isn't a surprise. (Speaking of endorsements, Hillary has scored an historic high number and proportion, including many unprecedented ones.)  But I just noticed the teaser for it, which actually says it all in vintage New Yorker fashion:

The election of Clinton is an event that we would welcome for its historical importance, and greet with indescribable relief.


Absorbed as we may be in this election, there are reasons to reflect on what's happening in other parts of the world.

Reflecting on them offer something to consider before the final voting, beyond the unparalleled disaster that would be Trump.

The news is giving us multiple suggestions of threats-- old and at least for the US in modern times, new--to our primary institution of the election itself, of the voting process.

Some of these threats may be inflated.  Some are on the books as voter suppression laws, which are at least partially working (as in North Carolina, where early voting was curtailed.)  The new ones are Russian direct meddling, making use of a ego-driven dupe called Assange and wikileaks and using the insatiable appetite of American media; and elements of the federal investigation and police force known as the FBI trying to manipulate the campaign on knowing behalf of one candidate.

Some of these threats--like voter suppression techniques--have been met by voters who refused to be denied, who stood in lines for hours to vote.  That looks to be happening again.  Perhaps enough voters will see through the other attempted manipulations and punish them by defeating Trump.

While this campaign has been going on,  ordinary people from the city of Mosul are in a horrific situation.  Such desperate situations and threats are common throughout the Middle East.  Several countries in South America and Africa are in economic hardships and near chaos.

We have none of that, mostly because of strong and stable institutions, especially those that support individual rights and liberties.  They need to be protected.  Trump and today's Republican Party threaten them.  There's no getting around that.  It's simply true. A good deal of the evidence is what they say and do in public.  It's right out there for everyone to see.

Racial divides are becoming clearer, especially as this election looks more and more racially divided.  There have been a lot of reasons given for Trump's lower middle class white appeal, some of them valid critiques of the excesses of wealthy and powerful corporations and interests, some of them indictments of a culture that is so dumbed-down that an ignorant reality show stereotype can inspire adoration and, worse, credibility.  But racial attitudes remain part of the mix, and it's no coincidence that the rise of Trump began with his attempts to humiliate President Obama.

As Jelani Cobb writes in the New Yorker, as part of a general description of what Trump represents:

The old presumptions hold that some element of national humiliation and decline predisposes nations toward fascism, or at least the appeals of fascistic movements. But in the U.S. this movement sprang up on the contrails of the first black Presidency—a moment that was, perhaps na├»vely at the time, thought to be one of national affirmation and triumph. The unsavory implication here, of course, is that, for the cornerstone elements of Trumpism, that triumph was a national humiliation, that the image of an African-American receiving the deference and regard that the Presidency entails invalidated these Americans’ understanding of what the U.S. is, or at least what it is supposed to be."

Cobb writes that this campaign has exposed our weaknesses and the fragility of our institutions, based in part on exposing this lingering racism (as well, I would argue, the climate crisis so-called debate.)  "An exceptional nation would have better reflexes than this, would recognize the communicable nature of fear more quickly, would rally its immune defense more efficiently than the United States has in the past sixteen months."

As he notes, even if Hillary wins these problems won't go away easily.  But if she does not win, they become themselves institutionalized.  And then we're on the path to our version of Nazi Germany, and the internal weaknesses that lead to chaos and the inability to respond with resilience to crisis of any kind.

We look at places like Mosul as far away, if we look at them at all.  But we might look at them as reflections of our possible future, if we allow these threats to triumph.