Saturday, August 27, 2016

Last Call For Dump Trump

Republicans, smelling a Goldwater-style electoral bloodbath in November, are so desperate now that they're actually putting money into swing state ads calling for Trump to step down as the Republican nominee.

The ad, titled "Keep Your Word," features footage of Trump during the Republican primary in which he suggested he'd drop out if he saw his poll numbers decline.

"Number one, I'm not a masochist, and if I was dropping in the polls where I saw I wasn't going to win, why would I continue?" Trump said in an October NBC interview featured in the ad. A graphic displaying political handicappers' predictions of a landslide Trump loss accompanies his remarks. The ad ends with a plea: "Resign the nomination. Let the RNC replace you so we can beat Hillary."

The 30-second spot is marked for a limited run on broadcast networks in suburban Florida, Virginia, Ohio and Michigan, according to Regina Thomson, a Colorado Republican activist and leader of Free the Delegates, the organization that failed to stop Trump's nomination at last month's national convention. All four states are central to Trump's path to the White House, though he's trailing in most polls of those states.

The ad is backed by a five-figure buy, according to Thomson, but the group is hopeful to eventually expand its run to Fox News Channel. It's initially set to air on broadcast news channels beginning on Tuesday. It's marked for the four states' suburban media markets, according to Free the Delegates, because they're areas that typically lean Republican but appear to be tilting in Hillary Clinton's favor this year.

Of course by now you've figured out the real plot here: the plan is to try to help vulnerable Republicans in the House like Carlos Curbelo and David Jolly in Florida and Senate Republicans like Ohio's Rob Portman to be able to keep their seats amid a Trump iceberg in the path of the GOP ship this year.  They're trying to plug the cracks in the dam before the river wipes them out of down-ticket races completely.

In other words, we're in sheer panic mode. It's no longer a question of whether Trump loses, but by how badly and if he will take the GOP Congress with him.

That all depends on how much the Dems can run up the score in November, and that means getting out the vote.  We'll see.

The Other SIde: That GOP Outreach

Let's get something straight here: when Republicans say they are reaching out to people of color, specifically black voters, what they are actually doing is pitching to nervous white voters what white Republicans think black people should be doing, and then blaming "evil racist Democrats" as to why black people aren't doing it (because what black America needs is white America telling us how to live, if only we were open-minded enough to listen to them.)  There's no better example recently than this column in the New York Post by "gun advocate" John Lott.

Hillary Clinton claims that some of Donald Trump’s appeal is “xenophobic, racist, misogynistic.” On Thursday she asked, “If he doesn’t respect all Americans, how can he serve all Americans?”

But who actually cares more about blacks, in particular poor blacks?

On everything from education to jobs to crime, Trump’s policies offer a lifeline to people who have been losing ground for decades. Hillary’s policies will just exacerbate them. And no amount of speeches will change that.

On education, Trump strongly supports school choice. This would give inner-city blacks a way out of horribly performing public schools. Clinton attacks charters and clearly opposes other forms of school choice, opting to protect teachers unions at the expense of students.

And who’s harmed the most by illegal immigration? Who’s most likely to suffer unemployment or wage reductions due to the added competition? Young, unskilled blacks and Hispanics. The biggest beneficiaries? Wealthy people who get to pay less for lawn care and housecleaning.

But crime is the immediate, life-and-death issue for so many blacks and Hispanics trapped in high-crime urban areas. Too many come to physical harm, have their property stolen, or lose their jobs as businesses are driven from their neighborhoods.

Clinton seems more focused on helping criminals rather than their victims. She has promised to cut the US prison population by over 50 percent. By contrast, Trump says the problem is a lack of police in high-crime, heavily black areas. He believes in making things riskier for the criminals, not for the victims.

Clinton has responded to the Black Lives Matter movement by calling for more restrictions on police use of deadly force. She has refused to support stiff prison penalties for those who “knowingly caus[e] bodily injury” to police officers. But if you don’t believe that the police are the problem, making their jobs more dangerous or difficult means police will be less effective in stopping crime in these high-crime areas.

Clinton doesn’t understand that the most likely victims of violent crime — poor blacks living in high-crime, urban neighborhoods — are the ones who stand to benefit the most from being able to defend themselves, and in fact her gun-control plan basically amounts to letting whites get guns but not minorities.

There's so much to unpack here that I'll need an army of logistics experts and perhaps some sort of advanced gravity manipulation device and two or three TARDIS consultants from Gallifrey, but the "GOP black outreach" scam usually involves massive gaslighting of the black experience so that the failure of Republicans to convince black voters to vote for them is the fault of black voters rejecting a "clearly better" series of initiatives rather than Republicans being at any fault whatsoever, and it's exactly what white voters want to hear. 

In other words, GOP outreach for black voters is actually aimed at fence-sitting white voters, making them feel better about voting Republican.  "It's not your fault those people can't see the truth as to why Republican policy initiatives are so great. You're smarter than that, but they haven't had the luxury of being as politically informed as you are."

So Republicans create this alternate reality where the problems of black America have nothing to do with generations of systematic social, economic, and cultural oppression, and everything to do with lack of taking personal responsibility in the greatest country on Earth.  Poor black people living in Detroit or Chicago and shooting each other must be 100% actively making the choice to continue living in a place like that and not taking steps to improve their lives, because the second you start putting cracks in that picture you start asking questions about why systemic racism issues still exist in 2016, and Republican can't have that.

In other words, there has to be a reason other than racism where 95% of black America refuses to give the GOP the time of day, and it has to be something they can blame us for rather than the people trying to convince us to vote for them. Sometimes that "reason" is we're unwitting, uneducated dupes of a Democratic party conspiracy meant to keep us compliant victims, and that we need to be pitied.  Sometimes that "reason" is we're angry and violent, or that we're just simply not as intelligent. But in every instance that reason cannot be because racism against black people in the United States still exists.

And so we get gaslighting admonishments from clever men like Lott here, who tells us that black America would be great if we just did things suburban white Republicans do, like push for charter schools, immigration reform, and more guns.  That would solve our problems, because then we'd be suburban Republicans too and not ghetto Democrats.

Trump's entire campaign has been built on this, guys.  And once we get a Republican who embraces this like Trump has and isn't a self-destructive narcissist disaster like Trump is, America is in real trouble.

Enemy Of The State (Of Maine)

Trump has made being a racist fun, exciting, and acceptable again.  Just ask Maine GOP governor (and Trump surrogate) Paul LePage.

A bad guy's a bad guy. I don't care what color he is. When you go to a war, and the enemy, the enemy dresses in red, you dress in blue? You shoot at red, don't you? Ken? You've've been in uniform. You shoot at the enemy. You try to identify the enemy. And the enemy right now, the overwhelming majority of people coming in, are people of color, or people of Hispanic origin.

To recap:

1) LePage is at war with The Enemy.
2) You shoot The Enemy.
3) The Enemy are people of color or of Hispanic origin.

This is Paul LePage's Maine. I am The Enemy to him.

LePage represents Donald Trump and the Republican party. This is Donald Trump's America.  I am The Enemy to them.

They shoot The Enemy.

And if LePage didn't have enough problems, keep in mind he already had people calling for his resignation for his racist tirades.

Gov. Paul LePage left a state lawmaker from Westbrook an expletive-laden phone message Thursday in which he accused the legislator of calling him a racist, encouraged him to make the message public and said, “I’m after you.”

LePage sent the message Thursday morning after a television reporter appeared to suggest that Democratic Rep. Drew Gattine was among several people who had called the governor a racist, which Gattine later denied. The exchange followed remarks the governor made in North Berwick on Wednesday night about the racial makeup of suspects arrested on drug trafficking charges in Maine.

“Mr. Gattine, this is Gov. Paul Richard LePage,” a recording of the governor’s phone message says. “I would like to talk to you about your comments about my being a racist, you (expletive). I want to talk to you. I want you to prove that I’m a racist. I’ve spent my life helping black people and you little son-of-a-bitch, socialist (expletive). You … I need you to, just friggin. I want you to record this and make it public because I am after you. Thank you.” 

Looks like someone took you up on your challenge, Gov. LePage.

So keep his statement in mind when conservatives are blaming the Obama administration for Trump's racism.

Trump Cards, Con't

At this point the Trump campaign is actively playing to lose, I really can't think of anything else as to why Steve Bannon is involved as head of the Trump camp.

Stephen Bannon's appointment as chief executive of Donald Trump's campaign has drawn scrutiny to his personal history, including a 1996 arrest in a domestic-violence case that was ultimately dismissed.

Court records show that Bannon was charged with three misdemeanors in Santa Monica, California, on Feb. 22, 1996, after his then-wife claimed he attacked her.

In a police report obtained by Politico and confirmed by NBC News, she claimed that during a New Year's argument about finances, she spat at Bannon and he "reached up to her from the driver's seat of his car and grabbed her left wrist."

"He pulled her down, as if he was trying to pull [her] into the car, over the door," the report said, adding that Bannon also "grabbed at [her] neck" and that she struck at his face to get free.

As his wife, the mother of infant twins, dialed 911, Bannon "jumped over her and the twins to grab the phone from her," the report states. "Once he got the phone, he threw it across the room."

Police said they saw red marks on her wrist and neck and that she told them three or four previous arguments had also become physical.

Bannon was charged with misdemeanor domestic violence, battery and dissuading a witness.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges — and about six months later, the case was dismissed after prosecutors said they could not find his wife, court documents show.

Police now say the report was mistakenly made available to Politico.

Oh but it gets worse:

Hell of a campaign operation you got there, Don. 

More than likely the damage from the Trump campaign will cost the GOP dearly from here on out, starting in western states, and the GOP knows it.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Last Call For Here We Go Again

As Zandardad emailed me today to point out, Clinton Derangement Syndrome 2.0 is coming, and Republicans are signalling that with 10 weeks to go before the election and 20 weeks before a new president would take office that Hillary will get nothing but the same rancor and utter disrespect that Barack Obama got, and from an even earlier point.

Is there such a thing as a negative grace period as president? Because that's where we are now.

Hillary Clinton has managed to win support from Republicans without conceding any part of the progressive economic agenda she outlined during the Democratic primary.

But with fall approaching and momentum on Clinton’s side, Democrats and Republicans alike are looking over the horizon to a thornier reality: if elected, Clinton would likely become the first Democrat since Grover Cleveland to enter office without control of both houses of Congress.

That means the bipartisan show of support she has now -- thanks to Donald Trump and the “alt-right,” conspiracy-driven campaign Clinton attacked Thursday in Reno -- is likely to evaporate as soon as the race is called. If she wins the presidency, Clinton would likely enjoy the shortest honeymoon period of any incoming commander-in-chief in recent history, according to Washington strategists, confronting major roadblocks to enacting her ambitious agenda, as well as Republican attacks that have been muted courtesy of the GOP nominee.

“It will be the defining fact of her presidency,” Jonathan Cowan, president of the moderate think tank Third Way, said of Clinton's problem of entering office with a divided Congress. “It’s unprecedented."

President Obama and former President Bill Clinton both enjoyed at least two years of a Democratic majority in Congress when they entered the White House, a period when they were able to enact major portions of their agendas.

While Democrats are confident about taking control of the Senate if Clinton wins the election, even her top operatives who have been working to elect down-ballot Democrats do not expect to snatch up the House of Representatives.

“What that would leave her with is an absolute imperative to govern from the center," said Cowan, a former Bill Clinton White House official. "She will have no choice. There is no choice. Obama will have picked most of the low hanging executive orders, and she'll be in this Grover Cleveland moment.”

In other words, if you thought it was difficult for Barack Obama to get anything done over the last six years, you ain't seen nothing yet.

Of course the obvious solution is for Democrats to do everything they can to win the House, but the ship may have sailed on that one thanks to Debbie Wasserman Schultz and DCCC chair Ben Ray Lujan, who have been complete non factors in 2016 as far as even trying to win the House back at this point.  There are plenty of non-contested Republican House seats in a year where Donald Trump should be costing the GOP dozens of races.

We'll see, but if your worry was somehow that Hillary Clinton was going to be too nice to the GOP or something, well they'll probably have articles of impeachment drawn up on January 21.

That's Real White Of You, Con't

And speaking of the racist cancer that must be excised from the GOP, it's not just Donald Trump, and it's not a new phenomena, it's been around for decades folks, especially in parts of the American South.

The Republican mayor of Midland City, Alabama got nasty on Facebook after losing her seat to a black candidate in this week’s mayoral election.

“I lost. The ni**er won,” griped Mayor Patsy Capshaw Skipper when someone asked her how the election turned out.

WTVY said that Skipper was defeated by Jo Ann Bennett Grimsley, former assistant city clerk and an employee of the Dale County government for 27 years. She has previously served as the city’s water clerk and county court clerk.

Mayor Skipper was named interim mayor last February when her husband — former Mayor Virgil Skipper — retired for health reasons. County officials voted 3 to 1 for Patsy Skipper to take over her husband’s position.

Voters, however, preferred to see Grimsley at the city helm, casting 233 votes for Grimsley as opposed to Skipper’s 148.

Skipper appears to have made her Facebook timeline private, but posts from 2015 are visible. She posted various pro-Christian and pro-Republican memes, including an image of the White House that reads “I want a White House that honors God. Share if you agree!” and another with a quote by Republican former Pres. Ronald Reagan that reads, “We are never defeated unless we give up on God. Share if you agree!”

And so it goes.

Same as it ever was.

Clinton's Reno Gamble Pays Off

Hillary Clinton's case against the "alt-right" racists now fully in charge of the Trump campaign and the Republican Party was delivered in Reno yesterday in a 30-minute speech that may have been the most important so far in the 2016 White House race.

Everywhere I go, people tell me how concerned they are by the divisive rhetoric coming from my opponent in this election. It’s like nothing we’ve heard before from a nominee for President of the United States.

From the start, Donald Trump has built his campaign on prejudice and paranoia. He’s taking hate groups mainstream and helping a radical fringe take over one of America’s two major political parties. His disregard for the values that make our country great is profoundly dangerous.

In just the past week, under the guise of “outreach” to African Americans, Trump has stood up in front of largely white audiences and described black communities in insulting and ignorant terms:

“Poverty. Rejection. Horrible education. No housing. No homes. No ownership. Crime at levels nobody has seen… Right now, you walk down the street, you get shot.”

Those are his words.

Donald Trump misses so much.

He doesn’t see the success of black leaders in every field…The vibrancy of black-owned businesses…Or the strength of the black church… He doesn’t see the excellence of historically black colleges and universities or the pride of black parents watching their children thrive…And he certainly doesn’t have any solutions to take on the reality of systemic racism and create more equity and opportunity in communities of color.

It takes a lot of nerve to ask people he’s ignored and mistreated for decades, “What do you have to lose?” The answer is everything!

For Clinton to deliver this explosive a broadside with 75 days still left in the campaign is a sign that she is confident in her win in November, and is making the move now to finish Trump off.  More importantly, as I have said time and time again, the real problem in the GOP is not Donald Trump, but the people who enabled him and his fellow travelers to control the party.

This is who Clinton's speech was directly aimed at, the "moderate Republicans" who stood by and let the racists take over, the proverbial "good men who did nothing" to allow evil to win.

This is someone who retweets white supremacists online, like the user who goes by the name “white-genocide-TM.” Trump took this fringe bigot with a few dozen followers and spread his message to 11 million people. His campaign famously posted an anti-Semitic image – a Star of David imposed over a sea of dollar bills – that first appeared on a white supremacist website.

The Trump campaign also selected a prominent white nationalist leader as a delegate in California. They only dropped him under pressure. When asked in a nationally televised interview whether he would disavow the support of David Duke, a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, Trump wouldn’t do it. Only later, again under mounting pressure, did he backtrack. And when Trump was asked about anti-Semitic slurs and death threats coming from his supporters, he refused to condemn them.

Through it all, he has continued pushing discredited conspiracy theories with racist undertones. Trump said thousands of American Muslims in New Jersey cheered the 9/11 attacks. They didn’t. He suggested that Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the Kennedy assassination. Perhaps in Trump’s mind, because he was a Cuban immigrant, he must have had something to do with it. Of course there’s absolutely no evidence of that. Just recently, Trump claimed President Obama founded ISIS. And then he repeated that nonsense over and over.

His latest paranoid fever dream is about my health. All I can say is, Donald, dream on. This is what happens when you treat the National Enquirer like Gospel. It’s what happens when you listen to the radio host Alex Jones, who claims that 9/11 and the Oklahoma City bombings were inside jobs. He said the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre were child actors and no one was actually killed there. Trump didn’t challenge those lies. He went on Jones’ show and said: “Your reputation is amazing. I will not let you down.”

This man wants to be President of the United States.

This is Clinton's most devastating blow yet, the kind of political haymaker you only unleash under two conditions: that you are on the ropes and have no other choice, or as Clinton is clearly doing here, you are winning the bout and are going for an early-round knockout.

Donald Trump just took a blow that rocked him.  We'll see if this finally shakes loose the rest of the Republicans who have been looking for an excuse to bail on Trump and turn his loss into a crushing defeat.  It's good politics: those hungry for a reboot of the Republican party now have their big red button to press.

How much you can trust anyone who still needs to be convinced to disavow Trump's racist, misogynist, anti-Semitic and Islamophobic campaign, is another battle, but at this point motivating the mass exodus of the rest of the party away from Trump is a definite gamble that Hillary took in Reno today, and I'm hoping it pays off big. (When I say this is a gamble I mean politically, morally and ethically it was 100% the right thing for her to do.)

It will be extremely easy for Trump to try to consolidate his voters by screaming, as he already did on Thursday, that Hillary was calling his supporters racist and that they had to stand by him to stop her.

The problem is that's true, the GOP is full of racist assholes.  But that truth is also the key to kicking Trump out and excising the cancer in the GOP.

Here's the speech in full on YouTube:


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Last Call For The Pen Is Mightier

The latest instance of pharmaceutical finagling (as the trend for drug makers is to buy an established company's patent on necessary medicine and then jack up the price by, say, 1000%) is the most popular drug used to save lives and prevent anaphylactic shock, the EpiPen.

The drug used to retail for about $30 for a portable injector used to deliver a life-saving dose of epinephrine used to counter extreme allergic reactions to things like shellfish or bee stings.  People with deadly susceptibility to these allergens need this drug in case of emergency exposure.

But the maker of the drug, Mylan, is now charging hundreds and hundreds of dollars per dose, and that has gotten the attention of Congress and of outraged voters in a presidential election year.  The condemnation has been swift of Mylan's CEO. Heather Bresch.

Did I mention Bresch's father is our old friend West Virginia Dem Sen. Joe Manchin?  I didn't? Maybe that explains Bresch's rapid about face today, offering customers financial help.

Drug maker Mylan (MYL) said Thursday that it would offer discounts on a life-saving allergy shot after generating a firestorm when it implemented sharp price increases for the treatment. 
The company said it would offer coupons covering up to $300 "for patients in health plans who face higher out-of-pocket costs" for the EpiPen Auto-Injector treatment. 
Mylan also said it would double the income level at which families are eligible for assistance in purchasing the medication to 400% of the federal poverty level. The company said a family of four with income up to $97,200 won't pay out of pocket. 
"As a mother, I can assure you, the last thing that we would ever want is no one to have their EpiPen due to price," Mylan CEO Heather Bresch said on CNBC in an interview. "Our response has been to take that immediate action of making sure everyone has an EpiPen." 
The average wholesale price of EpiPen has increased by 500% since 2009, while the price that insurers and employers pay to Mylan is up 150% over that period. There's no generic equivalent and no brand-name competitor. 
Politicians and patient advocates have criticized Mylan for the price increases, describing the company's actions as emblematic of the drug industry's unfair stranglehold on the market for life-saving treatments. 
Bresch vigorously defended the price hikes, arguing that the U.S. health-care framework "incentivizes higher prices" through a complex thicket of drug companies, insurers, health-care providers and pharmacy benefit managers. 
"There's no question, the system is broken," she said. "There's no transparency, there's no clarity and no one knows what anything costs."

Well, as people keep saying, there's a solution for that, and it's to take the profit motive our of medicine.  Maybe enough of these stories where drugmakers charge five or ten or thirty times the price for a life-saving medicine might get people to demand change.

We'll see.  Meanwhile, Mylan stock has tanked and the company has lost $3 billion in value and counting so far, so there's always the Invisible Hand Of The Market to smack people around with.

In Which Zandar Answers Your Burning Questions

Clare Malone at Five Thirty Eight Politics asks:

Can Kellyanne Conway Get Donald Trump To Stop Alienating Women?

Short answer: No.

But it’s not just Trump who is on message in the battle to win back women voters — it’s Conway herself. 
A highly visible television presence already, she projects calm in a campaign marked by bluster and brash comments so far off the cuff as to be in the armpit. In a campaign that has earned its keep through television, Conway’s presence on nearly every political program of late seems as much a strategy as Trump’s softening rhetoric on the stump. Paul Manafort, in his pinstripes and power ties, was an Old Spice television presence, not doing much to complicate the perception that the Trump team was filled with anything other than middle-aged men. 
This is not to say that Conway is without her barbs. “You think you would know who Hillary Clinton is if she wasn’t married to Bill Clinton?” she said in a recently released clip from an upcoming documentary. She told the same documentary crew that many live polls were miscalculating Trump support because of stigma. “It’s become socially desirable, especially if you’re a college-educated person in the U.S., to say that you’re against Donald Trump,” she said. That claim is dubious at best. 
But Conway often mentions that she is a mother to “four young children” as she works through her television talking points. Conway says she doesn’t like personal insults. She seems at times like a one-woman chorus chanting “one of us, one of us” at college-educated and married women who might just be tuning in. “Big fan of yours,” Megyn Kelly told Conway at the end of an interview with her earlier this week. 
“It’s tough to be a woman in politics on either side of the aisle,” Celinda Lake, Conway’s co-author, told me. “She’s very smart about how she negotiates that.” Lake, who said Conway is “very smart about power and access,” will undoubtedly be a force trying to shape Trump behind the scenes, but that her utility as a public-facing campaign entity is undeniable. 
“Unlike the Breitbart guy, she’s not going to cause you any trouble,” Lake said, a reference to Bannon. 
The only question lingering around Conway is a simple one, Lake said. 
“Will Donald Trump really listen to her?”

Long answer:

“If someone shows you who they really are, believe them.”
-- Maya Angelou

Donald Trump has spent years showing us who he really is, and you think he's going to change now?

No. That would explain today's brutal Quinnipiac Universrity poll now showing Clinton up nationally by double digits.

In the battle of the unloved presidential candidates, Democrat Hillary Clinton tops the magical 50 percent mark among American likely voters, leading Republican Donald Trump 51 - 41 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University National poll released today.

When third party candidates are added to the mix, Clinton gets 45 percent with Trump at 38 percent, Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson at 10 percent and Green Party candidate Jill Stein at 4 percent, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University Poll finds. This survey of likely voters can not be compared with results of earlier surveys of registered voters.

Women and non-white voters propel Clinton in the head-to-head matchup. Women back her 60 - 36 percent. Men back Trump 48 - 42 percent. White voters back Trump 52 - 41 percent. Non-white voters back Clinton 77 - 15 percent.

Also in that same poll, 90% of likely voters say they have made up their mind who they will vote for, so odds are extremely good that any changes Conway will bring to the Trump campaign are far too little and far too late.

"We are starting to hear the faint rumblings of a Hillary Clinton landslide as her 10-point lead is further proof that Donald Trump is in a downward spiral as the clock ticks," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

"Trump's missteps, stumbles and gaffes seem to outweigh Clinton's shaky trust status and perceived shady dealings. Wow, is there any light at the end of this dark and depressing chapter in American politics?"

Tick. Tick. Boom.

North Carolina Goes Down The Crapper, Con't

If this week's Monmouth University poll of North Carolina is any indication, GOP Gov. Pat McCrory's re-election bid is in real trouble.

In the contest for governor, Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper holds a significant 52% to 43% lead over incumbent Pat McCrory. Another 3% say they will vote for Libertarian Lon Cecil and 3% are undecided. 
Cooper has the support of 93% of Democratic voters, while McCrory gets the backing of 89% of Republicans. Independents are divided at 47% for Cooper and 45% for McCrory. Cooper has a net positive personal rating of 38% favorable and 18% unfavorable, with 44% expressing no opinion of him. McCrory’s personal rating is more divided at 39% favorable and 41% unfavorable, with 20% having no opinion of him. 
Importantly, Tar Heel voters are split on the incumbent’s performance as governor, with 45% approving of the job McCrory has done and 46% disapproving. A key element in the governor’s rating is his support for House Bill 2 or HB2, the controversial law that prohibits local governments from allowing for transgender public restrooms.

A majority of voters (55%) disapprove of HB2 compared to fewer than 4-in-10 (36%) who approve of HB2. Among voters who approve of the law, 74% are backing McCrory in the governor’s race. Among those who disapprove of it, 72% are voting for Cooper.
“McCrory is trying to take control of the HB2 debate with a new TV ad. As of right now, though, North Carolina voters feel it has hurt the state, which is helping Cooper’s bid to unseat the incumbent,” said Murray. 
The Monmouth University Poll found that 7-in-10 voters (70%) feel the passage of HB2 has been bad for North Carolina’s reputation nationally. Only 9% say it has been good for the state’s image and just 14% say it has had no impact. Even among those who approve of the law itself, 41% say HB2 has been bad for the state’s reputation compared to 21% who say it has been good and 28% who say it has had no impact.

The poll also shows Hillary Clinton up by 2, and GOP Sen. Richard Burr up by 2 in his re-election run against Deborah Ross, and even with the poll's high 4.9% MOE, McCrory is definitely running behind.

In fact, regardless of the Monmouth poll, the news for McCrory, Burr, and other NC Republicans is looking pretty grim.

Although the state has voted for a Republican president all but twice since 1968, the national tea party wave in 2010 brought the state legislature and governor’s mansion under Republican control for the first time since Reconstruction. North Carolina then moved rapidly to the right with several conservative reforms that caused an uproar among liberals in the state. 
Now, over the last few weeks as the possibility of tough election losses sinks in, top Republicans and some donors — who have had much to celebrate over the last six years — are trying to plot contingency plans to make up for the lack of field organization and advertising dollars from the Republican Party’s nominee to boost down-ballot candidates, sources say. 
Their fear is that a Trump loss by more than four or five points could put a dent in the party’s super majorities in the state legislature and a Democrat in the governor’s mansion, reversing the political course of the state. 
“I do think that people need to be very open eyed about what could potentially go wrong,” said one such top Republican who has been involved in discussions. “The sky isn’t falling, but it’s cloudy and we need to get in gear. It’s going to require a different level of organization and intervening from the top of the ticket than we’ve seen, and it’s going to require support from outside groups.”

So if support for Trump and McCrory starts to soften considerably, my home state could finally find the votes it needs to free itself from the Republicans who have been destroying it for the last six years.

Here's hoping.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Last Call For The Same Old Bevin

Joe Sonka details the "changes" that Kentucky GOP Gov. Matt Bevin has made to his planned waiver of Medicaid expansion, which the federal government basically told him that he wasn't going to get approved.  Bevin apparently doesn't give a damn and is submitting it anyway, and is daring the Department of Health and Human Services to tell him to piss off so he can blame somebody else when Kentucky Republicans take health coverage away from ten percent of the state.

Under the waiver proposal dubbed Kentucky HEALTH and first unveiled in June, individuals with income up to 138 percent of the federal poverty rate would still be eligible for expanded Medicaid, though “able-bodied” persons would have to pay a monthly premium to maintain coverage and could be locked out from coverage if payments are missed. Such individuals also would no longer be automatically eligible for benefits such as vision and dental, having to earn credits in their My Rewards Account by having health risk assessments, volunteering, taking smoking cessation classes, having a job or being in school. 
Bevin reiterated in a press release announcing the submission of the 87-page waiver on Wednesday that his plan would lead to better health outcomes, ensure the long-term sustainability of the state’s Medicaid program — as Kentucky must begin to kick in a small percentage of costs for covering the expanded population next year — and “familiarize members with commercial insurance and prepare them for self-sufficiency.” 
“The submission of this waiver is the result of many months of extensive research, planning and time spent traveling the state listening to Kentuckians,” said Bevin in his press release. “Kentucky HEALTH will allow us to continue to provide expanded Medicaid coverage, but unlike the current Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, it will do so in a fiscally responsible manner that ensures better health outcomes for recipients.”

The major scam here is the "My Rewards Account", like any health savings account you put money into to cover your medical expenses, but you lose all the money in it at the end of the year.  It's a tax on people who are bad at predicting exactly how sick they'll get in the course of 12 months, underestimate it and you lose your coverage for non-payment of premiums, overestimate it and you pay the state extra tax money you really can't afford.  It's a fun guessing game, and the winner is Bevin, every time.

While Bevin’s proposal had received wide praise from Republican officials in Kentucky, health care advocacy groups have expressed concern that requiring premiums and locking people out of coverage for failure to make payments would serve as an obstacle to many low-income individuals and families gaining Medicaid insurance. HHS also has emphasized that states seeking a waiver to alter its Medicaid expansion may not limit access to coverage or benefits by conditioning eligibility on work or other activities, impose premiums or cost sharing at levels preventing low-income individuals from accessing coverage, or penalize people for needing Medicaid coverage for multiple years. 
When unveiling his proposal in June, Bevin warned that if HHS does not approve the waiver, then “there will not be expanded Medicaid in the state of Kentucky,” an indication that he would either repeal the executive order of former Gov. Beshear to expand Medicaid — which resulted in over 400,000 people receiving coverage — or decline to reauthorize it next year. When asked what he would do if HHS only approved of 90 percent of Kentucky’s waiver proposal, Bevin said at the time that there is still a “negotiating process” going forward. 
HHS press secretary Marjorie Connolly released the following statement after Gov. Bevin’s announcement, again praising the success of Kentucky’s Medicaid expansion over the past few years and indicating that the process going forward could still take considerable time. 
“Kentucky’s Medicaid expansion has been very successful in improving health coverage, access to care, health outcomes, and financial security for its citizens,” said Connolly. “HHS has been clear that, as we begin the review of this application, we will assess it based on longstanding Medicaid principles of access to coverage and affordability of care. As in other states, we are prepared to continue dialogue for as long as it takes to find a solution that maintains and builds on Kentucky’s historic progress, and avoids moving backwards.”

Except backwards is exactly where Bevin is heading with this.  He's holding health insurance coverage for 400,000 plus Kentuckians hostage, and either he gets what he wants or the people of the Bluegrass State get it right between the eyes.

That's our governor!

Trump Cards, Con't

So we've reached the point of this insane election season where a presidential candidate is now actively promising to use the power of the executive to prosecute and imprison his political opponent if elected, even though Clinton has been exonerated by said Justice Department.  But that's just a technicality, see...

On Monday night in Ohio, Trump unveiled his plan for clearing this hurdle. The GOP nominee decried the conspiracy between the FBI and Justice Department to “whitewash” Clinton’s use of a private email server, saying, “They certainly cannot be trusted to quickly or impartially investigate Hillary Clinton’s crimes.” 
Thus, Trump demanded an “expedited investigation by a special prosecutor” into his rivals misdeeds. “The Clintons made the State Department into the same kind of pay-to-play operation as the Arkansas government was,” the mogul declared
Granted, Trump’s proposal doesn’t actually “make sense.” Only the Justice Department has the power to appoint a special prosecutor. If Trump is elected, he could, presumably, appoint an attorney general willing to appoint such a prosecutor — but at that point, why wouldn’t Trump just let Attorney General Chris Christie carry out the witch hunt himself? 
Nonetheless, the special-prosecutor plan appears to be a central part of Trump’s agenda going forward. After cancelling a series of campaign events on Monday — including a marquee speech on immigration policy — Trump released a revised schedule on Tuesday morning. On the docket: A speech in Austin that aims “to draw national attention to his call for border security as well as the need for a Special Prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton’s bought and paid for State Department.”

At this point, if you're somehow still on the fence over your 2016 presidential vote, and somehow Donald Trump vowing to send Hillary to prison is the one thing you needed to hear from him in order to secure your vote, then yeah, you have much bigger personal problems to deal with.

Meanwhile in Trump outreach to voters of color, we have something something Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations.

Standing before a vastly white crowd in Ohio on Monday evening, Donald Trump made a passionate pitch to African American and Hispanic voters, whom he described as living in poverty in neighborhoods that are more dangerous than war zones. 
"What do you have to lose?" Trump asked again and again. 
It's a question that Trump first posed to African American voters during a rally in North Carolina on Thursday. He then repeated it at a rally in Michigan on Friday evening and Virginia on Saturday night. In Ohio on Monday, Trump expanded his pitch to include Hispanics. 
"Our government has totally failed our African American friends, our Hispanic friends and the people of our country. Period," Trump said in Akron, Ohio, straying from the prepared remarks the campaign provided to reporters. "The Democrats have failed completely in the inner cities. For those hurting the most who have been failed and failed by their politician — year after year, failure after failure, worse numbers after worse numbers. Poverty. Rejection. Horrible education. No housing, no homes, no ownership. Crime at levels that nobody has seen. You can go to war zones in countries that we are fighting and it's safer than living in some of our inner cities that are run by the Democrats. And I ask you this, I ask you this — crime, all of the problems — to the African Americans, who I employ so many, so many people, to the Hispanics, tremendous people: What the hell do you have to lose? Give me a chance. I'll straighten it out. I'll straighten it out. What do you have to lose?
The mostly white crowd cheered and then started chanting: "Trump! Trump! Trump! Trump!"
Dear stupid black and brown people, why the hell won't you vote for me?  Your buddy, Don.

Still, it's nice that we've reached the desperate phase of the Trump campaign.   Another 11 weeks of raw, brutal misogyny and overt racism should be good for the country, right?

Who's Watching Charm City?

Since the start of the year the city of Baltimore has been under constant surveillance from the skies by the Baltimore PD in a newly-revealed program scooped by Bloomberg News, the same type of aerial spotting used by our forces in Iraq is now being used by a large police department against mostly citizens of color, conducted by a private firm called Persistent Surveillance. The company was founded by a former MIT engineer named Ross McNutt, and their goal was to show the country's major police forces that constant surveillance by air, using retrofitted Cessnas, was an invaluable tool.

Baltimore PD has apparently taken McNutt up on his offer, and it wasn't the first to do so.

A single, long-term contract with an American police department would be worth about $2 million a year, he says. By 2012, McNutt was approaching the police departments of the 20 most crime-ridden jurisdictions in the country, marketing his services. He floated several of them an offer: Let us fly over your city to show you what we can do, and then you can decide if you want to hire us.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department quietly took him up on the offer, allowing him to conduct a nine-day trial run over Compton, a largely minority city south of L.A., in 2012. According to Patrick Bearse, operations lieutenant for the Aero Bureau of the sheriff’s department, the county recognized the potential of Persistent Surveillance’s service, but it didn’t sign a contract with the company because the technology, particularly the quality of the images, didn’t meet the department’s expectations. The city’s residents didn’t find out about the flights until a year later. Angry protesters demanded a new “citizen privacy protection policy” from local leaders, but even those leaders—from the mayor on down—hadn’t been told about the test program. “There is nothing worse than believing you are being observed by a third party unnecessarily,” Compton Mayor Aja Brown told the Los Angeles Times.

The next city to try McNutt’s technology was his home base of Dayton. After the L.A. County trial, he improved the system by more than doubling the resolution, to 192 megapixels, increased the archive’s storage capacity, and sped up the image processing to allow analysts to conduct multiple investigations simultaneously. The Dayton police department and the city council were sold on it, and they aired the idea for a contract at a series of public hearings. Joel Pruce, who teaches human rights studies at the University of Dayton, helped organize the opposition. To the objecting residents, it seemed as if it hadn’t occurred to city leaders that the surveillance program might be interpreted as a violation of some vital, unspoken trust. “At the hearings, nobody spoke in favor of it except for the people working for the city,” Pruce recalls. “The black community, in particular, said, ‘We’ve seen this type of thing before. This will target us, and you didn’t even come to us beforehand to see how we’d feel about it.’ ” Dayton’s city leaders dropped their attempts to hire the company after those hearings.

Last year the public radio program Radiolab featured Persistent Surveillance in a segment about the tricky balance between security and privacy. Shortly after that, McNutt got an e-mail on behalf of Texas-based philanthropists Laura and John Arnold. John is a former Enron trader whose hedge fund, Centaurus Advisors, made billions before he retired in 2012. Since then, the Arnolds have funded a variety of hot-button causes, including advocating for public pension rollbacks and charter schools. The Arnolds told McNutt that if he could find a city that would allow the company to fly for several months, they would donate the money to keep the plane in the air. McNutt had met the lieutenant in charge of Baltimore’s ground-based camera system on the trade-show circuit, and they’d become friendly. “We settled in on Baltimore because it was ready, it was willing, and it was just post-Freddie Gray,” McNutt says. The Arnolds donated the money to the Baltimore Community Foundation, a nonprofit that administers donations to a wide range of local civic causes.

In January, McNutt opened the office above the parking garage. The only sign greeting visitors is a piece of copy paper taped to the door that reads “Community Support Program.”

Almost everything about the surveillance program feels hush-hush; the city hasn’t yet acknowledged its existence, and the police department declined requests for interviews about the program. On Aug. 10 the U.S. Department of Justice released a 163-page report that detailed systemic abuses within the Baltimore Police Department, including unlawful stops and the use of excessive force, that disproportionately targeted poor and minority communities and led to “unnecessary, adversarial interactions with community members.” Within a week, civil rights groups filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission claiming that the department’s warrantless use of cell phone tower simulators known by the trade name StingRay—an activity the police acknowledged last year in court—violated federal law and targeted minorities. “The problem of radicalized surveillance is particularly pronounced in Baltimore,” the complaint stated. The city was already on the defensive, even as the aerial surveillance program was shielded from the public eye.
So now we find out that that a police department rife with massive abuses of people of color in the city, abuses so awful that the Justice Department detailed a major report scorching the department, now has on top of all that a secret aerial spying program.

These guys can't be sued into oblivion quickly enough.  What the Justice Department has done with Ferguson, Missouri they need to do to Charm City: dismantle the police, take the department over under federal guidance, and rip out the corruption at the root.

It's far past time for the Baltimore PD as we know it to cease to exist.
Related Posts with Thumbnails