Thursday, December 8, 2016

Last Call For Economic Anxiety Was Really Social

David Bernstein over at the Volokh Conspiracy argues that it wasn't race, it wasn't class, it wasn't demographics or jobs or Russia or misogyny against Hillary Clinton or "fake news" or any widely cited reason that handed the country over to the Republicans. No, his argument is that it was a massive social backlash against all those nasty sneering liberals who got same-sex marriage legalized.

The presidential election was so close that many factors were “but-for” causes of Donald Trump’s victory. One that’s been mostly overlooked is Trump’s surprising success with religious voters. According to exit polls, Trump received 81 percent of the white evangelical Christian vote, and Hillary Clinton only 16 percent. Trump did significantly better than the overtly religious Mitt Romney and the overtly evangelical George W. Bush. He likely over-performed among other theologically conservative voters, such as traditionalist Catholics, as well. Not bad for a thrice-married adulterer of no discernible faith.

To what can we attribute Trump’s success? The most logical answer is that religious traditionalists felt that their religious liberty was under assault from liberals, and they therefore had to hold their noses and vote for Trump.

All elections apparently come down to God, guns, and gays. Oh, and US Solicitor General Don Verrilli.

Let’s focus on one of these incidents, the time the solicitor general of the United States acknowledged that religious institutions that oppose as a matter of internal policy same-sex marriage may lose their tax exemptions. At oral argument in the Obergefell same-sex marriage case, there was the following colloquy:

Justice Samuel Alito: Well, in the Bob Jones case, the Court held that a college was not entitled to tax­exempt status if it opposed interracial marriage or interracial dating. So would the same apply to a university or a college if it opposed same­ sex marriage?

Soliticitor General Verrilli: You know, I ­, I don’t think I can answer that question without knowing more specifics, but it’s certainly going to be an issue. ­ I don’t deny that. I don’t deny that, Justice Alito. It is ­­it is going to be an issue

With the mainstream media busy celebrating the Supreme Court’s ultimate recognition of a right to same-sex marriage, this didn’t get that much attention in mainstream news outlets. But in the course of researching my book, “Lawless,” I noticed that Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr.’s answer was big news in both the conservative blogosphere and in publications catering to religiously traditionalist audiences. The idea that Regent University or Brigham Young University or the local Catholic university or the many hundreds of other religious schools — and potentially other religious organizations — could be put at a severe competitive disadvantage if they refused on theological grounds to extend the same recognition to same-sex couples as to opposite-sex couples struck many as a direct and serious assault on religious liberty.

In short, many religious Christians of a traditionalist bent believed that liberals not only reduce their deeply held beliefs to bigotry, but want to run them out of their jobs, close down their stores and undermine their institutions. When I first posted about this on Facebook, I wrote that I hope liberals really enjoyed running Brendan Eich out of his job and closing down the Sweet Cakes bakery, because it cost them the Supreme Court. I’ll add now that I hope Verrilli enjoyed putting the fear of government into the God-fearing because it cost his party the election.

Which is weird, because NC GOP Gov. Pat McCrory's re-election bid was the prime example of a test to see if Bernstein's theory is correct, and McCrory paid the price for signing a "religious liberty" bill, doing significantly worse than Trump or GOP Sen. Richard Burr, who both won in the state, while McCrory lost.

I don't buy it was Obergfell at all.  It's a convenient excuse like "economic anxiety" when white Americans did far better economically than black or Latino Americans over the last eight years and then screamed that the Democrats abandoned them when Hillary Clinton, due in no small part to the pressure of Bernie Sanders, had the most progressive platform in history.  No, I can see why white voters wanted to teach those people a lesson, but it wasn't same-sex marriage any more than it was atheist dudebros.

It's much more likely that Christian Dominionists were so horrified at the idea of a woman president who was nice to brown people that they revolted.  Joke's on them, they got a revolting president who's not even in office yet and he's already unleashing his brownshirts on union steelworkers who dare to criticize Dear Leader, complete with death threats for ordinary citizens who are guilty of thoughtcrime.

It's one thing to make excuses for Trump voters, that liberals somehow left them no choice but to vote for the monster, except we have these things called primaries, where Republicans made the choice themselves to nominate Trump.   But the real issue here is once again, it's everyone's fault but the actual people who actually cast votes for Donald Trump, that Donald Trump will be this nation's next president.  I'm tired of it.

Second, you guys keep calling yourselves Christians, and I have yet to see Christ-like behavior in acceptance, tolerance, humility or compassion from evangelical Christian Republicans.  What they see is a chance to settle centuries-old scores with people who aren't evangelicals, starting with "godless liberals" like myself.

Yeah, keep telling yourself it's an attack on "the right to be bigots" that lost the election, rather than the actual bigots themselves.  You're just as bad as he is.  Own it already.

The Deal On Repeal

Greg Sargent looks at the dilemma facing GOP senators over Obamacare repeal.

Some of the states with the highest populations of people getting subsidies are represented by GOP Senators. This includes Florida (more than 1.4 million); Texas (more than 913,000); North Carolina (more than 499,000); Georgia (more than 427,000); and Pennsylvania (more than 321,000). Many other states with GOP senators also have sizable populations getting subsidies. 
Keep in mind, this doesn’t even include the Medicaid expansion. By my calculations, more than 20 GOP senators represent states that have expanded Medicaid. (The ones that have expanded Medicaid and have one or two GOP Senators are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.) Many of those are red states. 
Now, in fairness, Republicans keep insisting they are going to replace the ACA in ways that minimize the disruptions for all these people. And it’s true that some of the GOP replace plans — such as the one offered by Trump’s pick for health and human services secretary, GOP Rep. Tom Price — offer their own subsidy schemes. But those plans tend to use criteria different from income level to determine eligibility for subsidies, and there is little indication that anywhere near as many people would get them. Republicans have also talked about keeping some form of the Medicaid expansion money while block-granting control to the states. But it’s unclear whether Republicans can unite behind any replace plan including all of these things in any case.

Right now, Republicans appear to be coalescing behind a strategy that would repeal the ACA but delay repeal’s implementation for a few years, to give Republicans time to work out a consensus replacement. But given that so many people might be left without coverage if they don’t, the question becomes: How many Republicans will vote for repeal if no replace plan has been determined yet? 
One GOP Senator, Susan Collins of Maine, is now saying she may not support repeal unless there is some replacement ready to go. There is no telling what she will actually do in the end. But it’s possible that this could indicate other GOP senators may grow increasingly uncomfortable with supporting repeal-and-maybe-never-replace. There are other problems with this strategy, too. With no certainty about what’s next, insurers might exit the market. Alternatively, if Republicans do keep the ban on discrimination against people with preexisting conditions (as they say they want to do; after all, it’s popular) while repealing the individual mandate, that could make the insurance pool a lot sicker and lead to a dreaded “death spiral.”

On paper this is where things get very, very bad for the GOP.  A repeal followed by "well we'll come up with something in 2019" plan is going to kill them in the states they need to win in, and they know it.  So how do they pull it off?

Meanwhile, conservative writer Philip Klein asks a good question: Why would it be any easier for Republicans to pass a replace plan heading into the next presidential election? If anything, it would probably be harder. 
The thinking among Republicans seems to be that, with a deadline looming for millions to lose health coverage, Democrats can be pressured into helping support a replace plan that is much more in keeping with GOP priorities, which is to say, it will spend and regulate far less, and cover far fewer people (while allowing them to say they have health care solutions). But as Brian Beutler notes, if anything, Democrats might be able to use this to leverage Republicans. After all, a sizable block of conservative Republicans may be resistant to passing anything that spends a lot of money to cover people. If so, Republicans would only be able to pass something with the help of a sizable chunk of Democrats, which could presumably give them a way to pressure into Republicans for a plan that’s somewhat more to Democrats’ liking.

So we're counting on a unified front under Chuck Schumer.

Of course, for all these reasons, it’s possible no replacement will ever materialize. Republicans might be fine with that outcome. I used to think that Republicans might pay a big price for yanking coverage out from under millions. I’m no longer sure. But if no replacement does materialize, it is true that we will be looking at a very big mess, heading right into the 2020 elections — including in a lot of red and swing states — and there’s no telling how that will play.

We know how this will play: it'll be Obama's fault and Republicans won't pay a price for it at all. It's worked for eight years.  There's no reason to believe it won't continue to work, at least for the next two. But hey, the Urban Institute finds that the GOP repeal plan will wreck the insurance markets badly enough to leave thirty million uninsured.

I'm sure they'll just blame Obama.

They'll get away with it too.

You Can't Fool Everyone All Of The Time...

...Just 75% of us, it turns out.

Fake news headlines fool American adults about 75% of the time, according to a large-scale new survey conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs for BuzzFeed News. 
The survey also found that people who cite Facebook as a major source of news are more likely to view fake news headlines as accurate than those who rely less on the platform for news. 
This survey is the first large-scale public opinion research study into the fake news phenomenon that has had a sweeping effect on global politics, and that recently caused a gunman to threaten a DC pizza place. The results paint a picture of news consumers with little ability to evaluate the headlines that often fly toward them without context on social media platforms. They also — surprisingly — suggest that consumers are likely to believe even false stories that don’t fit their ideological bias. And the survey calls into question the notion — which Facebook has reportedlybegun testing — that consumers themselves can do the work of distinguishing between real and fake news. 
The new data comes from an online survey of 3,015 US adults conducted between Nov. 28 and Dec. 1. For more on the methodology, see the bottom of this article. A detailed summary of results to all questions can be found here. Additional calculations can be found here.

“The 2016 election may mark the point in modern political history when information and disinformation became a dominant electoral currency,” said Chris Jackson of Ipsos Public Affairs, which conducted the survey on behalf of BuzzFeed News. “Public opinion, as reflected in this survey, showed that ‘fake news’ was remembered by a significant portion of the electorate and those stories were seen as credible.” 
The survey found that those who identify as Republican are more likely to view fake election news stories as very or somewhat accurate. Roughly 84% of the time, Republicans rated fake news headlines as accurate (among those they recognized), compared to a rate of 71% among Democrats. The survey also found that Trump voters are more likely to rate familiar fake news headlines as accurate than Clinton voters.

We're in a world now completely governed by fake news and the conspiracy theories they perpetuate, and actual facts simply don't have a chance anymore.  Journalism is pretty much broken both from both ends with the sources of news being flooded by fake news garbage, and by news consumers who simply don't know the difference anymore and don't care to do the work to find out what truth or fact even means.

A body politic so completely disconnected from fact is not long for this earth.  We've gone from "All the news that's fit to print" to "I saw it on Facebook."  Trump and his clown crew can do and say whatever they want at this point, and three-quarters of the country will buy it as fact.

The best part?  Anything Trump doesn't like gets labeled as "fake news".

It was a nice run, the American republic, while it lasted.


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