I am hoping that this is my most pessimistic essay of 2016. Coin flip | The Vast Jeff Wing Conspiracy
Nate Silver, stop fucking with us.
Last time I wrote about the election, I confidently projected that a Hillary win would cause turmoil for the country because Trump’s campaign was doing so much to delegitimize her. As I write this, a few hours before the first debate, 538 has the presidential election pretty much at a coin flip, with the Republicans likely to retain the Senate.
Obviously, I never expected to be here, and it’s worth pointing out why. There are two firewalls that I thought would protect a Clinton presidency from electoral shifts:
1) all else being equal, there’s no question that the Democratic and Clinton campaigns are better organized and better funded, and that’s going to translate into a few points during the election which don’t show up in current polling. It should be enough to tip a 50/50 race in her direction; on the other hand, if the large number of undecideds have a collective aneurysm and break for Trump, there’s not much that can be done.
2) the bigger firewall, I thought, were the Republicans themselves.
Let’s keep in mind that there was never a time when the possibility of a Trump presidency wasn’t viewed as horrible by a bipartisan majority of the country. The Republicans had the first crack at bat at this, with widespread mocking and condemnation of his primary run. When it started looking like he might take the nomination, the horror went mainstream, but in practice it was largely restricted to Republicans strategizing over how to manage the loss they’d presumably take in the general.
But now we’re pretty damn close to even, and one of the reasons is that the Republican party establishment is still acting like this is a normal candidate. Party mechanisms are grinding into place, party faithful are convinced the opponent is Satan, party money is flowing into campaign coffers.
The entire Republican party is Ted Cruz.
It’s important to make the distinction between the two ways the Trump presidency will be an utter disaster. It will be a partisan disaster. And it will be a nonpartisan disaster.
From a partisan perspective, the insane way we populate our Supreme Court, and the morbid death lottery that gives some presidents much more sway, guarantees that it’s going to be hell for one side or the other. Senate Republicans managed to ramp this up by adding one more winning raffle ticket to 2017. Barring political assassination (which our system bizarrely incentivizes), November is going to determine the direction of the Court for the probable rest of my lifetime.
In the Congress, it’s no less odd. A month ago, polls predicted a Clinton win with such dominance that the Senate would certainly switch, and there were good odds the House would as well. Today, a Trump win would mean certain domination of the Congress by the GOP. That’s in a month. There are many descriptors for this situation, but “stable democracy” is not one of them.
However, let’s also consider the much more important nonpartisan perspective. On nearly every measure you choose, Trump would upset the international order: foreign policy, international relations, economics and trade. His domestic law and order plans sound like the day before Kristallnacht. Most of what we take for granted as “normal” would be at risk, in much the same way that W upended generations of prior convention after 9/11 and dragged us, mostly smiling and approving, into a new security state.
There are any number of Republicans who think these changes are preposterous; one gets the impression that the actual percentage of Republican leadership who feel this way is far greater than the stated percentage. But for either venal reasons, or because they’re weighing the partisan more than the nonpartisan, they say nothing.
(And of course, thanks to the partisan considerations, there’s not a goddamn thing a Democrat can say that will be heard by most Republicans. This is what’s so infuriating about debate moderators saying that the truth is not their job; it guarantees it won’t be anybody’s job.)
Beyond that, however, a Trump presidency will be a nonpartisan disaster because the Republicans are not prepared to govern. The GOP is fractured between their establishment, the Tea Party, and the insurgent Trump voters. (And let’s not forget that their “establishment” used to be the right wing of the party in the 80s and 90s who drummed out the consensus-building moderates.) They deposed their own Speaker and hamstrung the next one. Their Senate leadership has had no agenda but obstruction the entire time they’ve been in power. They’ve had both Congressional houses; they could have moved legislation and attempted to work with a president and a party whose only tools were filibusters and vetos. They chose not to govern.
It’s not merely a partisan disaster when the entire government falls to this crew, it’s a nonpartisan disaster as well. The Senate filibuster becomes the only tool to prevent whatever legislation comes out of the febrile minds in the White House and the Tea Party. There’s no bipartisan “other side” to blame any more; it’s all on one party.
And that party would be led by President Trump. I have to believe that the sensible Republicans who wanted to increase their power are still wary of domination. Controlling all three branches of government simply isn’t in their playbook; it’s as frighteningly new as Trump would be. That’s not to say that they want to lose, but certainly they haven’t planned to win.
So now in the countdown to the debate, we’re all — that is, the bipartisan coalition of people who realize that Trump is a nonpartisan disaster — looking to Hillary to be masterful, and to Trump to melt down in a way that even his supporters can’t ignore. That appears to be the penultimate tripwire protecting us from electoral disaster.
Because the last firewall requires those Republicans who have fallen in line to stop doing so. And I don’t think they will.
Jeffrey Itell, this is a decent refutation of one of Kaplan’s premises. WashPost Makes History: First Paper to Call for Prosecution of Its Own Source (After Accepting Pulitzer)
It is absolutely impossible to keep track of all this. The Feds Will Soon Be Able to Legally Hack Almost Anyone
I would like to see a Democratic organizing group, or a super PAC, put out an ad with the following speech excerpt, which immediately followed Hillary’s comment about the “basket of deplorables.” Run it 24/7 in red and swing states. Show of hands—have you heard this part of the speech yet?
“Now, some of those folks — they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America. But the other basket — and I know this because I see friends from all over America here — I see friends from Florida and Georgia and South Carolina and Texas — as well as, you know, New York and California — but that other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for change. It doesn’t really even matter where it comes from. They don’t buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroine, feel like they’re in a dead-end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.”
Citation: Read Hillary Clinton’s ‘Basket of Deplorables’ Remarks on Trump Supporters
In which I express some unpopular opinions and risk losing a few friends.
What I’ll never forget | The Vast Jeff Wing Conspiracy
It’s the day after the anniversary, and my Facebook timeline is still filled with calls to #NeverForget.
I’ll never forget that I slept through the 9/11 attacks; my friend texted me shortly after and woke me up, and I looked at my phone to see his name but not the text, long enough to think, “What is he thinking texting me this early?”, before going back to sleep. I woke up two hours later to the sound of NPR telling us that we didn’t know much and we shouldn’t panic, and realized immediately that this was a terrifying thing to hear.
I’ll never forget the sense of disbelief when I read on the Internet that the towers had collapsed. I pictured a facade dropping off with the superstructure remaining intact. It wasn’t until I saw the video that I believed it.
I’ll never forget the sound of fighter jets flying what sounded like inches above the roof of my apartment building.
I’ll never forget the epiphany I had that evening, desperately clinging to normal routines on an abnormal day, having a cigarette in front of a Washington DC Starbucks: that they had hit us as hard as they could, as hard as we had ever been hit, and that it didn’t even register on the scale of existential threats. We were too big, too spread out, too powerful; the sun would rise on America as it had the day before. My greatest risk was still getting hit by a car on the walk home.
I’ll never forget finally reaching my parents when cell service started working again, telling them I was fine, only a few miles away from what would have been the worst terrorist attack in the United States the day before. And it was true. We were fine.
I’ll never forget how my country seemed to lose its collective mind, demanding any action whatsoever that seemed to increase its safety, regardless of whether that action had anything to do with 9/11. As if we didn’t accept gross infringements on our safety daily as part of living in the 21st century. As if our individual safety was our highest value.
I’ll never forget the time I did feel personally terrorized, when two men converted their car into a sniper’s perch, and for a few weeks randomly murdered people in the DC area. For those weeks, I walked home with a staggered step, in zigzag, wondering if a sniper bullet left you alive long enough to realize what had happened. These men weren’t al-Qaeda or ISIS, they were just crazed criminals with a rifle.
I’ll never forget being taken off my plane at Newark, when a random guy decided to say goodbye to his girlfriend at the gate, and they shut down the airport. Thousands of us were herded into crowded conditions in the baggage area, with all of our luggage. We were told nothing by the airport or the airlines. I’ll never forget realizing that if any of these people intended to blow up a plane, they now had a better, easier target; hundreds would die in an explosion, hundreds more would die in the crush for the doors. I went outside and smoked a pack of cigarettes, got interviewed on local news, and managed to be on the first plane out eight hours later.
I’ll never forget the number of people who have looked at me like I was crazy when I have said any of this in the past fifteen years. I don’t expect that to change in my lifetime.
I’ll never forget how I’ve felt proud, patriotic, sad, moved, communitarian, ashamed, and guilty, about what happened to us and what we did after. But I’ve never felt terrorized by terrorists. I’ve reported unattended bags on trains, but never someone who “looked wrong”. I’ve never demonized the enemies of this country, or exalted them to the rank of supervillains, or forgotten who in this world is powerful, and who is weak. I’ve never felt like the victim.
These are things I hope to never forget.
US teens often forced to trade sex work for food, study finds
Dying to hear my technical analysis of the DNC and other hacks on the election? Of course you are!
On Hacking During the U.S. Presidential Campaign
This is batshit for a dozen different reasons.
The Mysterious Private Police Force That’s Killing People In The Nation’s Capital – ThinkProgress
Considering that it contains both Philly and Pittsburgh, I consider this to be good news about an astonishingly low percentage.
One-third of Pennsylvanians considered obese
Q: Is sexism as prevalent as women say it is?
A: No. The longstanding practice of ignoring, invalidating, and silencing female voices would indicate that sexism is much more prevalent than women say it is.
A Primer On Everyday Sexism
What I’ve never understood about this kind of analysis: restaurants presumably run with the minimum staff required. So when they cut jobs, what happens to the required labor necessary to run the restaurant?
Fight For $15 Meets Reality: DC Restaurants Lost 1400 Jobs During First Half of 2016
Fight For $15 Meets Reality: D.C. Restaurants Lost 1,400 Jobs During First Half of 2016
Nope, he’s not going away. It’s all about money.
By 2020, the Fox viewers will be the moderate conservatives and the Trump viewers will be the batshit crazy. What Are Donald Trump, Roger Ailes, and Steve Bannon Really Up To? – The New Yorker
Best casting ever.
First Look at Lynda Carter on Supergirl
Republicans: we will defend America by making sure their rubble glows more brightly than our rubble for the next 10,000 years. With one word, Congress looks to change a legacy of nuclear defense
Question for my security friends: how does stockpiling in Turkey provide a deterrent effect if they have no deployment capacity? I would think it just makes them a first strike target. How Safe Are US Nuclear Weapons in Turkey?
Top Democrats briefed about Democratic party hacking a year ago, did not tell their own party. So I guess we know where one party stands on putting country before party.
Exclusive: Congressional leaders were briefed a year ago on hacking of Democrats – sources