The peril of cable news misogynists

As we inch toward another presidential campaign in which the odds are even that several Democratic finalists for the nomination will be a woman, a woman of color, or both, Scott Lemieux worries about the presence of media misogyny, despite the exit of several notorious figures:

Mark Halperin was an early and highly influential Trump adopter, as well as someone who was on America’s “liberal” news network on a constant basis. It was apparently known by virtually everybody at NBC that Matt Lauer was a massive sexist asshole (not to mention, in an important and related point, a featherweight whose knowledge of public policy appears to be somewhere between Donald Trump’s and the NBC peacock’s) when he was sent onstage to badger Hillary Clinton about inane trivia before tossing softballs to his asshole misogynist buddy Donald Trump. And so on and so on and so on. Given that Democrats can’t and won’t stop running women for high office, this is a very serious problem and a big part of the story of how we ended up with President Trump.

Expect Kamala Harris or Kirsten Gillibrand to get The Treatment in eighteen months, especially if the Democrats pick up seats in the midterm elections as expected.

Who did what to whom

I’m not a fan of Scott Lemieux, but he at least grapples with the reality of door-to-door politics like his colleagues don’t. In light of recent “Joe Biden would have won talk,” another variant on the speculation around my preferred candidate Bernie Sanders, i.e. “Bernie would’ve won won Michigan,” he mentions enough hypotheticals that serve to confirm my suspicion: Donald Trump, the culmination of thirty-seven yeas of conservative Jacobinism, might still have beaten any Democrat anyway because the no-college white guy was lost forever:

Again, one fatal problem with any “Biden/Bernie/O’Malley woulda won” counterfactual is that they almost always involve ceteris paribus assumptions that are completely untenable. It’s superficially persuasive to say that “any Democrat would have gotten better media coverage than Clinton, that coverage (especially as catalyzed by Comey, who also may not have gone rogue against another nominee) probably cost Clinton the election, so therefore any other Dem nominee would have won.” Only of course you can’t hold everything else constant. Biden might have gotten generally more favorable media coverage than Clinton — but done worse in the debates, committed twenty other distracting gaffes, done worse with women voters, and narrowly lost anyway. You can’t construct counterfactuals that take away Clinton’s (very real!) liabilities but not her strengths.

Or let’s leave the media out of it. The key to Trump’s win was not attracting more white voters per se but trading college-educated white voters for white voters without college degrees but doing OK economically, a tradeoff that was useful on the Electoral College. The superficially persuasive case for Bernie is to say that he would have done better among the latter group and won. I think this is plausible, but. Paul observed recently that Virginia shows that the GOP can lose even more college-educated suburbanites than it’s already lost, but this cuts both ways — it was not inevitable that the GOP would lose as many as it already did in 2016. Bernie might have won; it’s also very possible that the candidate who labelled his left-liberalism as “socialism” would have done better than Macomb County than Clinton but worse in Oakland County and lost Michigan anyway.

When liberals push Democrats next cycle, they must realize that getting blacks, Hispanics, gays, and women excited about liberal policy will entice them to stay within the party. Give voters a reason to vote for you, win an election, and you’ll suddenly believe in democracy again. If you feel despair, get yourself a pet, or, better, volunteer at a phone bank.

Elections 2018, post-cockiness edition

One calendar year ago I was excited enough to amble around campus in a state of suppressed glee, a phenomenon I couldn’t attribute to having voted for Hillary Rodham Clinton a couple weeks earlier. Although I was under no illusions about the limits of ClLinton’s power and the adamantine resistance she would experience from a newly empowered Congress, I thought a majority of Americans would rebuke Trumpism. The reckoning came the next morning.

That was a year ago. Thanks to DNC chairman’s decision to concentrate on local races, liberals/progressives can claim a few substantial victories:

– First, opponents to the Medicaid expansion can’t say it hasn’t passed by democratic means. In fact, supporters of the federalist approach to sweeping legislation should delight in what Maine voters accomplished last night. The win wasn’t narrow: by a twenty-point margin despite the robust efforts by Governor Paul LePage. By my lights, what happened in Maine represents the first time the Affordable Care Act has been popular enough to triumph.

– Second, Danica Roeme! The transgender candidate beat archenemy Bob Marshall, a scion of conservative Virginia politics who treated Roeme as if she were a Cossack about to invade his town: he refused to call Roeme by her gender and, worse, circulated these kinds of fliers.

– Third, Democrats picked up two George House of Delegate seats that in 2016 were uncontested. In 2012, Mitt Romney won the district 54-44; last year, Donald Trump by 49-46.

In my own state, incumbent Rick Kriseman beat back his Republican challenger after one of the nastiest races in recent Florida political history.

Contest every local seat. Discuss health care. Link opponents to Donald Trump. Don’t waste time converting people who voted for the president not because they wanted coal jobs back or eliminating the capital gains tax but because they wanted to fuck with people who didn’t:

Del Signore said he’s been following politics far more than before because of Trump. Trump, he said, is just “more interesting.” So now he likes watching the news. “Ninety-nine percent of the time I watch Fox,” he said. “Sometimes I’ll be sitting there listening to all this Fox stuff, and I’ll say, ‘Maybe they aren’t right, maybe I’ll flip to CNN’—but every time I’ve found that Fox has been correct, and CNN is definitely fake news.”

A Catholic whose wife goes to church every Sunday, whereas he, “shame on me,” does not, Del Signore told me toward the end of our lunch that some people at church told his wife that Obama is the antichrist. “She comes home and tells me these things that they tell you in church,” he said. I asked him whether that’s what he thinks. “I don’t know,” he said. “Some people say that.”

If Obama, I asked, is the antichrist—whose arrival is said to precede the second coming of Christ—what would that make Trump?

“The savior?” Del Signore suggested.

America, ladies and gents.

Hillary Clinton has as much right to bore us as anyone in public life

The ponderous, politically tone deaf, and immune to improvisation Hillary Clinton discomfited me less than her husband did in the early nineties, so when she landed the nomination this Bernie supporter shrugged his shoulders and said the hell with it. After eight years of feeling spittle on my neck about Muslims in the Oval Office, death panels, socialized medicine, gun confiscation, and the First Lady snatching Chicken McNuggets out of my mouth, I knew the Republican Party would find or force a candidate to espouse every repellent idea about privatizing industry, coal, ISIS, and contraception. The GOP was hungry; we had sober, ponderous Hillary Clinton.

With another memoir, likely a ponderous, sober one, ready for publication, we’re going to see bipartisanship at last: the right and left will join forces in its prolonged disgust for Clinton. Paul Waldman is correct:

So let’s say this really slowly: It’s possible to simultaneously acknowledge that 1) Clinton made plenty of mistakes, and 2) there were egregious problems with the way the campaign was covered, problems that contributed to the outcome. Calling attention to the latter doesn’t negate the former.

And boy, were there ever problems with the coverage. Consider that the New York Times and The Washington Post struck a deal with Peter Schweitzer, the author of a book called “Clinton Cash,” for exclusive access to the material in the book, which alleged corrupt dealings at the Clinton Foundation. Even though Schweitzer’s particulars amounted to little more than a lot of nefarious insinuation without evidence of actual wrongdoing, the initial burst of front-page coverage the book received was enough to set off endless cable news chatter about the Clinton Foundation, all of it with the implication that Clinton was guilty of all manner of ethically questionable actions.

Really, she has as much right to bore us as Al Gore and John Kerry, and as much right to play Cassandra as Mitt Romney, whose letter criticizing Donald Trump after the Charlottesville murder got its requisite day’s worth of attention before disappearing without a trace. Newt Gingrich is allowed in any green room without a minder holding a spiked mace. Hell, for many years his implacable taste for revenge kept John McCain hale and hearty until his good luck ran out.

Let Hillary be.

A Day Without Hillary

Here is my A Day Without Women post, titled A Day Without Hillary:

Most decisively, there was a sudden change in the net sentiment results that followed immediately after FBI Director James Comey released his Oct. 28 letter to Congress about a renewed investigation of Clinton emails. Immediately afterwards, there was a 17-point drop in net sentiment for Clinton, and an 11-point rise for Trump, enough for the two candidates to switch places in the rankings, with Clinton in more negative territory than Trump. At a time when opinion polling showed perhaps a 2-point decline in the margin for Clinton, this conversation data suggests a 28-point change in the word of mouth “standings.” The change in word of mouth favorability metric was stunning, and much greater than the traditional opinion polling revealed.

Based on this finding, it is our conclusion that the Comey letter, 11 days before the election, was the precipitating event behind Clinton’s loss, despite the letter being effectively retracted less than a week later. In such a close election, there may have been dozens of factors whose absence would have reversed the outcome, such as the influence campaign of the Russian government as detailed by US intelligence services. But the sudden change in the political conversation after the Comey letter suggest it was the single, most indispensable factor in the surprise election result.

This conclusion helps us to understand how it is possible that the polls were generally correct about a Clinton lead through most of the campaign, but nevertheless Trump still won because of a late October surprise.

I’m not sure to what degree I should trust Engagement Labs’ chief commercial officer, and this same fellow acknowledges that in elections this close any number of factors in concert can influence results; but that’s the point too. The Comey letter came at the right moment.

We’ll get by, I suppose — a farewell to 2016 and all that

On the last day of 2016, I can’t dispel the mephitic vapors of an autumn that in South Florida never cooled and an election season that didn’t and won’t end. I published some of my finest work. I read, deeply, discovering Lorrie Moore and at last finishing Thomas Mann’s Joseph tetralogy. I’m at the apex of my teaching powers. The sex wasn’t lousy. To mourn the collapse of our expectations after Nov. 8 is to call attention to the fact that “setting goals” is a capitalist’s conformist trick. I don’t New Year’s resolutions to steel myself. The work remains, it must get done, unfinished, forever.

Thanks to my readers, who, like events both national and personal, bring sustenance and friction. Focus not on the concept of a Bad Year. Periods both good and bad aren’t still points on a compass but circumferences.

Natalie Cole, whose death was announced on the first day of the new year.

– On Fleetwood Mac’s Mirage reissue

– On Being 17, being young, being queer, being stupid.

The primacy of dance clubs in queer culture, more necessary than ever after the Pulse shootings in June.

– The late Fidel Castro’s far-reaching influence on Cuban families like mine.

– Miranda Lambert’s The Weight of These Wings was a statement by an artist at the peak of her powers.

The raft of excellent albums by K Michelle, KING, and other R&B women.

– Why Moonlight wasn’t quite the queer tour de force that critics sought.

– What George Michael meant to me in September 2016 and what he meant to queer culture after his death last Sunday.

Adjusting to the Clintons — before their abrupt November banishment.

– David Bowie, who taught us about the vitality of posing.

On my favorite early Prince album.

I’m off for a vacation. Take care of each other. See y’all on the other side.

Huh I feel real: Best protest songs

Motivated by an instinct to avoid the usual suspects because as of two this morning we live in unusual times, I compiled a list of songs that protested boundaries, legislative and sexual.

1. Public Enemy – Fight the Power
2. Buzzcocks – I Believe
3. Bobby Fuller – I Fought the Law
4. Bronski Beat – Smalltown Boy
5. Merle Haggard – I’m a White Boy
6. DJ Sprinkles – Ball’r (Madonna-Free Zone)
7. Killer Mike – Reagan
8. David Bowie – Fantastic Voyage
9. Creedence Clearwater Revival – Don’t Look Now
10. Funkadelic – If You Don’t Like the Effect, Don’t Produce the Cause
11. Prince – Controversy
12. Nas – America
13. X-Ray Spex – The Day The World Turned to Day-Glo
14. Kendrick Lamar – King Kunta
15. Bruce Springsteen – Badlands
16. Pet Shop Boys – It Couldn’t Happen Here
17. Dead Prez – Hip Hop
18. Sonic Youth – Death Valley ’69
19. Pulp – Common People
20. Lupe Fiasco – Words I Never Said
21. Grimes – Realiti
22. The Isley Brothers – Fight The Power (Part 1 & 2)
23. John Lennon – Working Class Hero
24. Gil Scott-Heron – Winter in America
25. Staple Singers – I’ll Take You There
26. Curtis Mayfield – (Don’t Worry) If There’s a Hell Below, We’re All Going to Go
27. Pearl Jam – World Wide Suicide
28. Sly & The Family Stone – Don’t Call Me Nigger, Whitey
29. Queen – I Want to Break Free
29. John Coltrane – Ascension
30. Sleater Kinney – Step Aside
31. Sylvester – You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)
32. Public Image Ltd – Rise
33. Sterling Void – It’s Alright
34. Alex Anwandter – Siempre Es Viernes En Mi Corazón
35. Madonna – Into the Groove
36. Sam Cooke – Chain Gang
37. Husker Du – Turn On the News
38. Sex Pistols – Bodies
39. Billie Holiday – Strange Fruit
40. M.I.A. – Born Free

The next day: After such knowledge, what forgiveness?

I went to bed at 12:30 a.m. with Pennsylvania and Wisconsin looking uncertain. I slept for two full hours, awakened to tachycardia, from which I don’t suffer. Resisting the temptation to check my phone or turn on the TV, I forced myself to stay in one place until shortly after five.

Assurance congeals into smugness. As the evening got worse I sounded like the man standing on the burning house who wouldn’t save himself because he was waiting for God to do it.

I’m not sure why liberal reporters are reassuring themselves that President-elect Donald J. Trump will not endorse every important item in House Speaker Paul Ryan’s list. Forget the drool about “arranged marriages” and tensions – Trump and Ryan are politicians. With the Republicans keeping control of Congress, Merrick Garland will become a Wikipedia entry and the liberal minority better inject itself with B-12 in the hopes of staying alive for the next four years; the Iran nuclear deal may get its own bomb dropped on it; the Affordable Care Act will be shredded into toothpicks, with or without the sixty votes needed to shoo away a filibuster; the reduction of Social Security, in the name of “entitlement reform,” into an old age pension program for the aging men and women who voted for Trump.

As for the Democrats, the demographic and policy gains of the last eight years mean bupkis. The party has no leaders. After last night’s catastrophe, Barack Obama looks like Dwight Eisenhower: a popular president before and after he left office, such a singular phenomenon that he had no coattails (after four years of Democratic majorities in Congress, 1958 was an even worse disaster for Republicans). Remember: last night’s planned Senate victory for Dems was supposed to mitigate a dire 2018. Is there a category worse than “dire” for what 2018 will be?

Finally, to wish for “unity” and peace when Americans voted for a man who instead of a platform offered rancor and disharmony insults the millions of Americans who are not like you: Latinos, Muslims, queers (don’t believe me? Remember Mike Pence’s resume), women. Insisting, like a couple of gasbag pundits have already, that the Democrats have a white problem rebukes the minorities who overwhelmingly and in more than generous numbers supported Clinton. I don’t want to Stand Together to Help Heal the Nation when a TV star called Mexicans rapists and murderers and whose running mate once endorsed gay conversion therapy. I want to fight them. Time for House and Senate Dems to do unto Trump what Mitch McConnell and his gang did in January 2009 to Barack Obama.

Elections 2016 — let’s end this!

Martini glass in hand, courage in my heart, I’m ready to blog.

11:04. In my first legitimate shock of the evening, Russ Feingold lost his race in Wisconsin. The West coast is decided, which we know. North Carolina goes to Trump: 209-187.

10:41. Florida isn’t close. But Obama won enough in 2012, recall, that Florida wasn’t called for days. He didn’t need Florida.

10:30. Colorado called for Clinton.

10:23. Ohio called for Trump.

10:05. New Mexico called for Clinton.

9:56. Still waiting. Third glass of wine.

9:46. With 94 percent of the vote in Florida, it doesn’t look like she win it.

9:31. I’m not freaking out yet because (a) I’m not a freaking out person (b) I called Florida for Clinton but would not be surprised if it had gone Trump. What would chill me is if Virginia and Pennsylvania did. I was not one of those people who predicted an early evening. If I start hearing good news from those states and North Carolina and Virginia, then the tone of the broadcast will change.

9:26. The breakdown: Trump outperforming Romney in rural counties; these Republicans didn’t stay at home after all.

9:17. Florida still holding but at the moment not looking good. North Carolina, however, according to Jon King, has a “long way to go.”

9:07. People, remember: the biggest Democratic counties have the most uncounted ballots by far. Why? They have more ballots to count.

8:58. 53 percent of vote in Palm Beach County.

8:52. Close to a million votes still not counted. 16 percent of Broward reporting.

8:43. North Carolina too close to call: a difference of 68,000 votes. Georgia still too early to call. She’s running stronger in Broward than Obama at this point in the evening in 2012.

8:39. I apologize for lagging. Florida has me falling into my bourbon glass. Broward County vote still lagging.

8:31. Amendment 2, the medical marijuana amendment on the Florida ballot, passed comfortably.

8:16. Florida is in a death match. On CNN the vote totals keep flipping between candidates. In MIami-Dade she’s doing better than Obama; in small counties like Hernando County, Chuck Todd points out, Trump is up more than five points over Romney. But Palm Beach and Broward counties aren’t close to counting live votes. Calm down.

8:12. UGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH — MSNBC predicts Marco Rubio as winner

8:01. Cigarette Break #1. White college grads in Florida winning 61 percent — a slight upset. But Clinton has a 29-point lead with Hispanics. Meanwhile Pennsylvania: Clinton winning 50 percent of white college grads.

7:49. Chuck Todd to James Carville: “James, what does Bill Clinton think of losing the Bubba vote?”

7:45. WSVN-7 reporting that Miami-Dade and Broward’s Hispanic vote surpassed 2012’s totals.

7:42. Tucker Carlson of FOX Nwes, still a haircut in search of a head and brain, said he’s shocked the Hispanic vote isn’t higher.

7:37: CNN reports, according to Noah Rothman, that with 35 percent of the vote in Florida, Clinton “is out-performing Obama.”

7:32. Rob Portman wins, to no surprise, reelection in Ohio.

7:27. North Carolina’s bathroom bill “the last of the culture war battles.” Fuck you, Chuck Todd.

7:19: MSNBC has invited Rudy Giuliani to comment because they want to laugh at him.

7:18. Why the fuck does anyone care about “honest and trustworthy” after Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton? I don’t want a president in whom I’d confide my boy problems. Such a media question.

7:13. “Largest Puerto Rican diaspora ever,” avers Kerry Sanders of NBC. Get Out the Vote battle? What battle? Clinton people “bringing voters in cars,” Trump, well, nothing.

7:11. Champion social media watcher Ned Raggett sends me this tweet from Sean T at Real Clear Politics:

Sean T at RCP ‏@SeanTrende 26 minutes ago

This is going to be a short night.

7:05: Vermont called for Hillary Clinton, Indiana for Donald J. Trump. Georgia too close to call, Virginia too early to call. “Is it about class warfare? Is this how the modern campaign will be waged?” asks Nicole Wallace of MSNBC, formerly one of George W. Bush’s communications people, which meas she helped him talk.

#I’mwithgov’t

Even if I didn’t live in the swingiest of states no way was I ever going to vote for Jill Stein. Presidents start wars, and if they don’t ask for congressional approval their national security councils and defense departments pay contractors (‘sup, Iraq!) or create paramilitary insurgencies (hi, Nicaragua!) to fight them. As a president during these circumstances Stein would be no different than Hillary Rodham Clinton if not worse: where Clinton has given the impression that she’ll refute generals Stein looks like she’d succumb to dangerous counsel; she hasn’t sounded the depths of what she doesn’t know. Clinton was a non-entity as secretary of state and at least in North Africa was foolish and precipitate; thousands of lives have been extinguished in Libya and Egypt for the sake of a hunch. But her decisions are her own. Meanwhile Stein’s speeches give the impression that subtlety offends her.

But foreign policy goals and farragos didn’t influence my vote two weeks ago. The time for a fully progressive candidate ended in March 2016. Bernie Sanders lost. He lost despite the machinations of a Democratic Party beholden to Clinton. He lost because he didn’t have the votes to become the nominee. Thanks to Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, #BlackLivesMatter, Occupy, and millions of men and women whose names I’ll never know, Hillary is not the same Clinton who ran in 1992 and, saints above us, 1996.

Should Hillary Clinton win and the Congress remain in the talon grip of the GOP, we will see a reprise of Barack Obama’s last four years: government by executive order, paid vacations for a legislative branch that would rather pay its share of taxes than return to their districts with a record of endorsing a Clinton initiative. Liberals worrying about what she and plutocrats chortled about in paid speeches needn’t; even if she endorsed legislation calling for the exhumation of Ronald Wilson Reagan for the purpose of a cadaver synod the Republicans wouldn’t budge.

But should Hillary Clinton win, the Environmental Protection Agency is safe. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration will have competent leadership. The executive branch will fix what it legally can with the Affordable Care Act. I’m afraid that in foreign policy – the one place where a president’s ambitions can run untrammeled – she will pursue such hooey as Arming the Kurds and Sending a Message to Vladimir Putin. The quasi war in Yemen continues.

In short, Clinton believes in government: a robust federal government that ensures equal protection under the law and, for better and increasingly worse, enforces American interests abroad. I wish Bernie Sanders had been the nominee. Clinton would be a competent hack for the next four years. Competence means preserving a system from encroachment. In other times she would be the conservative consensus choice — as indeed she is compared to Sanders.

Donald Trump is not the revolutionary, and I wish mandarins offended by the word “pussy” would relisten to Mitt Romney’s 47 percent remark, George W. Bush’s call for a constitutional amendment to protect marriage, and remember the eight years of Reagan. The party he theoretically heads has been populated by sans-culottes since January 1981. It’s hard for anyone not living in the United States — I don’t intend condescension — to understand how the GOP and its putative Democratic opposition since Ronald Wilson Reagan have perverted the idea of government: a sloth-like, cumbersome, unwieldy but reliable federal government to whose courts our citizens turn for equal protection under the law and whose seniors get Social Security payments once a month, hurricane or not, like clockwork. That’s how government is supposed to work.

Tight-lipped and defensive if not surly about public information; glamour-free; meticulous about greasing the machinery — that’s what a Clinton administration would look like. #I’mwithgov’t