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How to win in social media political groups

A couple of folks recently expressed interest in my experience in online conservative political forums. The comment I often hear from people is, “How do you know so much about politics?”  I always find this to be a funny question because I really don’
Daily Kos

How to win in social media political groups

A couple of folks recently expressed interest in my experience in online conservative political forums. The comment I often hear from people is, “How do you know so much about politics?”  I always find this to be a funny question because I really don’t know much about politics, at least not the way they’re thinking about it. What I know a lot about is values and how to talk to people about values. I know how to make powerful moral arguments.  The reason I do this is because social media is powerful. If you don’t believe me, just look at how it was used to influence the last election.  It’s not hard to develop powerful social media skills, but it takes thinking about things a little differently. And it takes practice, too.  To help, I thought I’d break down a recent example. 

Mulvaney's plan for Trump: Have more rallies. Lots and lots of rallies.

Now that Trump budget director Mick Mulvaney has become Donald Trump's next sacrificial chief of staff, a job he wanted very very badly to get, according to Politico, the obvious question is whether Mulvaney will run afoul of Trump's ego in the manner that fo
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Mulvaney's plan for Trump: Have more rallies. Lots and lots of rallies.

Now that Trump budget director Mick Mulvaney has become Donald Trump's next sacrificial chief of staff, a job he wanted very very badly to get, according to Politico, the obvious question is whether Mulvaney will run afoul of Trump's ego in the manner that former chiefs Reince Priebus and John Kelly so quickly did. Will he attempt to rein in Trump's worst impulses? Will he try his best to pressure Trump into not wasting his days away watching Fox & Friends or shouting at clouds? Will he try to limit the number of weird Trump friends and family members who can call him up or waltz into the Oval Office and suggest, to Donald, yet another new grift or bizarre rewrite of the nation's governing policies? The answer appears to be no, no, and definitely absolutely no. According to Politico's sources, Mulvaney's plan is instead to oblige Trump's need for constant attention by sending him out onto one long, unending road trip of shouting hell. White House aides say he is unlikely to attempt to reform the president’s habits of spending much of his time watching television and tweeting, or to curtail the influence of Trump’s daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, on the policymaking process. Instead, Mulvaney is expected to get Trump on the road as much as possible heading into his reelection campaign, capitalizing on the president’s love of campaign rallies while trying to sprinkle into the events as much policy talk on taxes and regulation as he can. Willingly inflicting more Donald Trump on the nation at this point is something close to a war crime, but Mulvaney has long been one of the more eager, cough, obligers of the Trumpian ego. For the record, the odds of this rapidly descending into chaos are extremely high. Granted, John Kelly has hardly been doing a damn thing of late (previous reporting suggested that, after too many battles with Trump, Kelly began to largely phone in his job, instead sitting back and watching as the room burned down around him) but a chief of staff coming to the job with an explicit plan of letting Donald stew in his own juices, grind up his little pills and sniff his way to the next elections? Goodie.

What Trump doesn't know about the border, immigration, and humanity is everything

During his knock-down, drag-out confrontation with soon-to-be House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer this week over the need for the construction of a border wall, Donald Trump made many false and questionable statements. But he s
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What Trump doesn't know about the border, immigration, and humanity is everything

During his knock-down, drag-out confrontation with soon-to-be House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer this week over the need for the construction of a border wall, Donald Trump made many false and questionable statements. But he seemed to feel this one was the strongest of his claims:  Trump: “If you look at San Diego, illegal traffic dropped 92 percent once the wall was up, El Paso, illegal traffic dropped 72 percent, then ultimately 95 percent once the wall was up.  In Tucson, Arizona, illegal traffic dropped 92 percent. Yuma, it dropped illegal traffic 95 to 96 percent. He thought he really had a zinger there, as he kept going back to it over and over. Politifact wasn’t able to track down exactly what he was referring to, since pretty much none of “his” wall has actually been built. However, there is already 700 miles of fencing along the border, which began to be built under President Clinton and was then expanded considerably under President George W. Bush. It’s possible that this was what Trump was talking about, but then again it’s also likely that he’s just parroting a bunch of questionable numbers from InfoWars and he has no idea what any of it really means. If he meant the existing fence, some of his numbers may have been in the correct neighborhood of a ballpark, but correlation is not always causality.

Republican sore loser power grabs corrode our democracy so badly because they have no limits

As its title suggests, this post focuses on some revolting developments perpetrated by the Republican Party in a number of states. But let’s start with something positive. The other day I was feeling pretty good while reading an article about newly electe
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Republican sore loser power grabs corrode our democracy so badly because they have no limits

As its title suggests, this post focuses on some revolting developments perpetrated by the Republican Party in a number of states. But let’s start with something positive. The other day I was feeling pretty good while reading an article about newly elected progressive district attorneys who are reforming criminal justice practices down at the local level. They are working hard in places ranging from Brooklyn to Philadelphia to Kansas City to multiple large cities in Texas, and are counteracting the worst effects of our mass incarceration policies. The article’s authors are Emily Bazelon, journalist and senior research fellow at Yale Law School, and Miriam Krinsky, executive director of Fair and Just Prosecution, an organization that “brings together newly-elected local prosecutors as part of a network of leaders committed to promoting a justice system grounded in fairness, equity, compassion, and fiscal responsibility.” Bazelon and Krinsky cited a number of steps these reform-minded prosecutors have taken, and laid out a list of ideas that, taken together, provide a blueprint for progressive prosecutors going forward. The full document is here (it is well worth a read), and the two offered a summary in the article: Our recommendations begin with the premise that the level of punishment in the United States is neither necessary for public safety nor a pragmatic use of resources. Prosecutors can address this first by routing some low-level offenses out of the criminal justice system at the start. For the cases that remain, they can help make incarceration the exception and diverting people from prison the rule...Finally, prosecutors should recognize that lengthy mandatory sentences can be wasteful, since most people age out of the period when they’re likely to reoffend, and also don’t allow for the human capacity to change. As prosecutors know, locking people up makes them more prone to committing offenses in the future. They can lose their earning capacity and housing, leaving them worse off, often to the point of desperation. And so the community is often better served by interventions like drug or mental-health treatment, or by restorative justice approaches, in which a person who has caused harm makes amends to the victim. In some cases, the best response is to do nothing. There’s a lot of good stuff here. We’re talking about taking positive steps on an issue of vital importance. And maybe, just maybe, there will also be some more positive, if incomplete, steps taken at the federal level as well, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has finally announced that a bill to change sentencing practices will get a vote this month. The bill is likely to pass and become law. It actually has Trump’s support, and this analysis explains why that’s the case (short answer: he thinks it will help the economy). Taken all together, making our criminal justice system more just, not to mention more effective, appears to be on the horizon. Then I remembered what’s happening in Wisconsin and Michigan.

Here's a new way to visualize how much ground we gained in the House

Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last six weeks, you know that the Democrats won a pretty smashing victory on Election Day, picking up a net 40 seats in the House of Representatives and overperforming most prognosticators’ expectations. You’
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Here's a new way to visualize how much ground we gained in the House

Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last six weeks, you know that the Democrats won a pretty smashing victory on Election Day, picking up a net 40 seats in the House of Representatives and overperforming most prognosticators’ expectations. You’re probably also aware that the Republican casualties weren’t randomly distributed among their entire caucus, or that Republican losses weren’t tilted toward their loudest-mouthed doofuses and their most incompetent political practitioners. (Granted, Steve King nearly managed to lose, quite an accomplishment given how dark-red his district is. But, for instance, Louie Gohmert’s asparagus managed to escape without any aspersions being cast upon it.) Instead, the losses were heavily concentrated in the nation’s swing districts, the ones closest to the national political midpoint. Accordingly, the Republicans who lost were disproportionately among the most moderate members of the GOP caucus—not because moderation is more off-putting to voters in swing districts, though. Elected officials in swing districts tend to be more moderate because they believe it’ll help them get re-elected (and, if multiple political science studies are correct, that's true). Any moderation advantage, however, is small, and as political polarization continues to increase, it becomes even more likely that if you’re in the wrong party in a closely-divided district in a wave year, you’re probably dead regardless of how much you try to distance yourself from your party. (Just as many moderate Democrats found out to their chagrin in, for example, 2010.) The orderly precision with which a wave strikes swing district representatives down, though, regardless of their voting record and regardless of their skill as a campaigner, is pretty abstract unless you see it depicted visually. So, I’ve tried to create a graphic that shows just that. Try thinking of the House as a coastal town, with some streets lined with oceanfront property and some set further back from the water. With a big enough wave, just about everything in the first few blocks facing the water gets wiped out. Compared with previous decades when there was more ticket-splitting, it just doesn’t matter much anymore whether you’ve tried to build your own durable brand on a solid foundation of moderation or good constituent service or aw-shucks demeanor; the wave simply doesn’t care. The dark blue blocks, mostly in the middle of the chart, are where all the wave damage is: in other words, the seats that the Democrats picked up in 2018.

Yes, Trump cares about that Supreme Court double jeopardy case. A lot.

Terance Martez Gamble was convicted of second-degree robbery, a felony, in 2008. As a result, he was barred under both state and federal law from possessing a firearm. Nevertheless, he was caught with a gun during a traffic stop in 2015. He was successfull
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Yes, Trump cares about that Supreme Court double jeopardy case. A lot.

Terance Martez Gamble was convicted of second-degree robbery, a felony, in 2008. As a result, he was barred under both state and federal law from possessing a firearm. Nevertheless, he was caught with a gun during a traffic stop in 2015. He was successfully prosecuted for that offense—first by Alabama and then by the federal government. The state conviction earned him just a year in prison, which he completed in May 2017, while the federal conviction resulted in a sentence almost four times as long. As a result, Gamble isn’t due to be released from prison until February 2020. Gamble’s contesting that outcome: He argued from the outset that the federal prosecution violated the Constitution’s double jeopardy clause, which resides in the Fifth Amendment. “No person shall ... be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb“ means that the state and federal government shouldn’t be able to prosecute him for the exact same offense, Gamble argues. On its face, it seems clear enough. But double jeopardy precedent is more complicated than that. For more than a century, since the 1850s, the Supreme Court has maintained that “separate sovereigns” are each entitled to exercise their own jurisdiction. That means a prosecution by one sovereign—the federal government, the military, states, and tribes—doesn’t bar subsequent prosecution by another sovereign. Separate sovereign doctrine was thoroughly reaffirmed in a pair of 1959 cases, one in which a state conviction preceded a federal conviction for the same conduct and a second in which the federal conviction preceded the state conviction. The bar for overturning Supreme Court precedent is high. It would be, to put it lightly, unusual for the justices to throw out 170 years of precedent, especially precedent that so fundamentally affects how the criminal justice system operates, just as the court observed in 1959. It’d also be a massive abrogation of states’ rights and, specifically, police powers—on some views—to make it the case that federal prosecution could pre-empt state prosecution. At a minimum, it would radically change the balance of power between state and federal government in criminal justice. Unsurprisingly, a group of 36 states led by Texas is objecting to any change to separate sovereign doctrine. The states argue that “[d]enying a State the ability to [prosecute an individual under its laws] would transform the nature of sovereignty.” They point to precedent that just two terms ago the Supreme Court referred the principle of separate sovereigns as “fundamental” to “constitutional order” and “the very bedrock of our Union.” That said, separate sovereign doctrine is an excellent example of precedent that bears revisiting given subsequent developments.

Progressive prosecutors are not 'cops.' They are needed to enact criminal justice reform

As Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) receives more and more media attention these days as a potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, she has staunch Democratic supporters and vituperative right-wing detractors.  Since 2017, when she succeeded Sen. Barb
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Progressive prosecutors are not 'cops.' They are needed to enact criminal justice reform

As Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) receives more and more media attention these days as a potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, she has staunch Democratic supporters and vituperative right-wing detractors.  Since 2017, when she succeeded Sen. Barbara Boxer, she’s garnered national attention after being seen in high-profile Senate committee hearings, effectively and forcefully questioning administration officials such as Jeff Sessions, Kristjen Nielson, and Supreme Court nominee (at the time) Brett Kavanaugh, which earned her high marks with many Democrats, and the fury of Republicans. It was clear that in those hearings she used skills honed over the years as a prosecutor in the San Francisco District Attorney's Office, and the City Attorney of San Francisco's office; as district attorney of San Francisco; and as California's attorney general. Though her continuation on the Senate Judiciary Committee was in question, it was announced this week that she will keep her seat, which means that we can look forward to her participation in hearings in the coming years.  xAs a former prosecutor, @SenKamalaHarris has strived every day for a more fair judicial system for all Americans. I’m proud that we successfully fought to keep her seat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. https://t.co/h1KYQR94kc— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) December 11, 2018 I’m not bothered by the attacks aimed her way by racist, misogynist Democrat-haters—they are to be expected. Especially since she is a black woman, who is also Indian-American.  What I am disturbed by is a dismissive critique aimed at her by folks who call themselves “left,” many of whom are not Democrats. It boils down to, “I won’t vote for her, ever—because ‘she’s a cop.’’”

Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: Obamacare ruling, how to govern in 2019, and fighting a tech cold war

I promised that I was going to start spending some time on Sunday mornings talking about how we move toward a better place. The last time I talked about this, I underlined Martin Luther King’s support for a Basic Income as one plank of a foundation for tha
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Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: Obamacare ruling, how to govern in 2019, and fighting a tech cold war

I promised that I was going to start spending some time on Sunday mornings talking about how we move toward a better place. The last time I talked about this, I underlined Martin Luther King’s support for a Basic Income as one plank of a foundation for that better place. But this week I’m going further back, to grab enough planks to build a fort. x x YouTube Video A right to a job — Roosevelt puts the guarantee of employment at the top of his list, and notably doesn’t just say that job should provide enough income for food and clothing, but also recreation. I have a conservative relative who loves to point out that Roosevelt thought it was important that people work, under the mistaken belief that modern progressives just want to sit around and cash a check. But that’s a fundamental misread of both progressives and FDR. The right of farmers to make a fair profit — the concern that here was applied to farmers, whose ability to make a living was being constrained by both unfair pricing and destructive financial institutions should today be extended to a broader section of workers, including those trapped between automation and crushing demands for ‘productivity.’ Freedom from unfair competition and monopolies — When Roosevelt talks about free trade, he’s not talking about a free-for-all instantly dominated by those who can push their rivals from the field. He’s talking about the ability to innovate and expand that only comes when monopolies are held in check by government action. A decent home — Not just a bed in a shelter, or an apartment that takes every dime of the family budget.  Adequate medical care — Again, Roosevelt makes it clear this isn’t a token gesture, but everything needed to give people “the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health.” Freedom from fear of personal economic disaster — This one is usually shorthanded as “Social Security,” but the demand Roosevelt makes here is a protection even someone who, for any reason, can’t enjoy the job mentioned in the first of his new rights, still need not worry about losing healthcare, housing, or their ability to provide. A Good Education — not some education. Not some minimum education. A good education.  All of these rights spell security, and after this war is won, we must be prepared to move forward in the implementation of these rights to new goals of human happiness and well-being. For unless there is security here at home, there cannot be lasting peace in the world.  When someone on the Sunday morning shows starts saying that Democrats don’t have an agenda, tell them of course we do — it was written seventy-four years ago, and it’s about time we made it a foundation from which to move forward, rather than an aspiration that’s forever out of reach.

Jacking up rents illegally and pocketing the profits: Yet another scam by a sleaze named Trump

Donald Trump should never have been allowed to view the White House lawn from any vantage point except a television set—hooked up for the inmates in the common room of a state penitentiary. According to the The New York Times, before he engaged in defraudin
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Jacking up rents illegally and pocketing the profits: Yet another scam by a sleaze named Trump

Donald Trump should never have been allowed to view the White House lawn from any vantage point except a television set—hooked up for the inmates in the common room of a state penitentiary. According to the The New York Times, before he engaged in defrauding investors through his Trump University scam, before his habitual, pre-declaration of bankruptcy stiffing of his employees and contractors, even before his off-camera antics harassing or sleeping with various women and paying them for their silence, the current occupant of the Oval Office was engaged in ripping off the tenants of properties owned by his father, and pocketing the profits. They were collateral damage as Donald J. Trump and his siblings dodged inheritance taxes and gained control of their father’s fortune: thousands of renters in an empire of unassuming red-brick buildings scattered across Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. The Times investigation of the latest in Trump’s seemingly bottomless history of perpetrating frauds and scams to bilk people out of their money details Trump’s jacking up the rents of thousands of middle-class residents who had the misfortune to live in one of the Trump-family owned apartment residences during the 1990s. Many of these properties had been financed by Fred Trump through low-cost government loans, and were therefore subject to rent regulation. But the residents of these thousands of apartments, many of whom were retirees living on a fixed income, suddenly began to see inexplicable rises in those regulated rents. As it turned out, a hidden scam lurked behind the mysterious increases. In October, a New York Times investigation into the origins of Mr. Trump’s wealth revealed, among its findings, that the future president and his siblings set up a phony business to pad the cost of nearly everything their father, the legendary builder Fred C. Trump, purchased for his buildings. The Trump children split that extra money. The “padded costs” translated into higher rents imposed on these tenants, as the younger Donald and his partners could point to the increased costs of maintaining them. Except the costs were phony—Trump and his family continued to negotiate for “everything from roofs to window cleaner,” according to the Times report. The costs were inflated through a sham organization ostensibly created (on paper alone) as a “purchasing agent” for Fred Trump’s properties, and it was owned by Donald Trump, his siblings and a cousin. The “purchasing agent,” called “All County Building Supply and Maintenance,” (or “All County BS,” for short?), would issue checks to vendors servicing Trump’s buildings, but would receive reimbursement from Fred Trump’s apartments with a 20-50% markup. The “markup,” which actually represented a tax-free “gift” to Trump and his cohorts, was then used to justify gouging apartment dwellers in Trump’s buildings with higher rents. These fraudulently jacked-up rents amounted to an increase of $30-$60 per month on a yearly basis, which many renters could doubtless afford. But as the Times points out, the “padded invoices still affect the rent, as the increase has compounded over the years:” The padded invoices have been baked into the base rent used to calculate the annual percentage increase approved by the city. The sum total of the rent overcharges cannot be calculated from available records. As a way to appreciate the scope of the impact, a onetime $10 increase in 1995 on all the 8,000 apartments involved would put the total overpaid by tenants at more than $33 million to date, an analysis of approved rent increases shows.

This PSA from the Sandy Hook families will stop you in your tracks—and that's the point

The families of Sandy Hook Promise have teamed up to unleash one hell of a short film on the world on the sixth anniversary of the day that changed their lives forever. December 14, 2012 saw 20 children and six teachers murdered in the school shooting that
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This PSA from the Sandy Hook families will stop you in your tracks—and that's the point

The families of Sandy Hook Promise have teamed up to unleash one hell of a short film on the world on the sixth anniversary of the day that changed their lives forever. December 14, 2012 saw 20 children and six teachers murdered in the school shooting that should have ended the gun control debate full stop, but didn’t. Called “Point of View,” the PSA, produced by top-tier ad agency BBDO New York, and directed by Snow White and the Huntsman’s Rupert Sanders, takes a different approach to showing the dark realities of school shootings, since dead children and sobbing families still hasn’t seemed to have much of an impact on those American legislators who have been bought and sold by the ever-declining NRA. 7,000 pairs of empty shoes to memorialize the 7,000 children killed by gun violence since the Sandy Hook school shooting Please, do find the time to watch it through till the end … then watch it again, and look a little closer. x x YouTube Video Next, head over to Sandy Hook Promise and see if you saw the warning signs sprinkled throughout the video. I certainly didn’t catch them all. Please share this video widely, and keeping the following facts in mind. Most mass shootings are planned for 6 months to a year. In almost every documented case, warning signs were given off that were not understood, were not acted upon quickly or was not shared with someone who could help In 4 out of 5 school shootings, at least one other person had knowledge of the attacker's plan but failed to report it 70% of people who commit suicide tell someone their plans or give some other type of warning signs Sandy Hook Promise was founded in 2014 to educate people about these red flags, so that these tragedies, and other deadly acts of gun violence, like suicide, can be stopped before they happen.  SHP co-founder Nicole Hockley, whose son Dylan would be 12 today if he hadn’t been murdered, says she looks forward to a day when we no longer need the work of organizations like Sandy Hook Promise. “Honestly, I want to put my organization out of business,” she said. “I don’t want us to exist because I don’t want to have this need anymore.” Sadly, Hockley’s wish doesn’t seem likely to be coming true any time soon. According to a recent study from the Department of Homeland Defense and Security, 2018 marks the worst year for school shootings in recorded history.

Parkland survivor has a message for the NRA after news of their close relationship with Russian spy

As the news dropped this week that the NRA’s favorite Russian gun lady Maria Butina had pled guilty to being a Russian spy, everyone around the internets responded with a collective feeling of “We told you so.” Butina plead to conspiring with Russian of
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Parkland survivor has a message for the NRA after news of their close relationship with Russian spy

As the news dropped this week that the NRA’s favorite Russian gun lady Maria Butina had pled guilty to being a Russian spy, everyone around the internets responded with a collective feeling of “We told you so.” Butina plead to conspiring with Russian officials to infiltrate Republican political circles by way of Second Amendment patriotic organization, the NRA. The irony, of course, has been lost on no one, but the sweetness of an organization like the NRA receiving this cosmic-level of comeuppance is most exquisitely experienced by reading gun control advocate David Hogg, who survived the Stoneman Douglas mass shooting in Parkland, Florida.  xThoughts and prayers to the NRAs PR team pic.twitter.com/jC7ckgYnRN— David Hogg (@davidhogg111) December 13, 2018 I’ll just leave that right there.

'We are engaging in faithful resistance': D.C.-area church shelters mom of three facing deportation

Rosa Gutiérrez Lopez, a mom of three U.S. citizens including a boy with Down Syndrome, has become the first undocumented immigrant to publicly go into sanctuary in the Washington, D.C. area, following immigration officials ordering her to leave the countr
Daily Kos

'We are engaging in faithful resistance': D.C.-area church shelters mom of three facing deportation

Rosa Gutiérrez Lopez, a mom of three U.S. citizens including a boy with Down Syndrome, has become the first undocumented immigrant to publicly go into sanctuary in the Washington, D.C. area, following immigration officials ordering her to leave the country for her native El Salvador by Dec. 10. “I don’t know how long I will be here,” she said about her new home inside Cedar Lane Unitarian, “but I feel protected here.” Gutiérrez Lopez shouldn’t be a priority for deportation in the first place. Since 2014, she’s had a work permit issued to her by the U.S. that allowed her to work legally, so long as she continued checking in regularly with immigration officials. As someone with familial ties and no criminal record, she’d been considered low-priority for deportation. That changed following Donald Trump’s inauguration.  “Suddenly,” Think Progress reports, “she had to come in twice a month and wear an ankle monitor at all times. Earlier this fall, agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) began encouraging her to self-deport, and warning her that if she didn’t do it herself they’d come for her themselves soon enough.”  When she got a deportation date, her attorney appealed to a judge, but her case is still pending. With three young kids and one who requires specialized therapies, she went to DMV Sanctuary Congregation Network for help. “We don’t see why she is a priority for deportation,” said Faith In Action’s Richard Morales, who helped coordinate with Cedar Lane Unitarian. “There is no reason to separate this woman from her children.” For now, Gutiérrez Lopez will try to call Cedar Lane Unitarian home—she “plans to work for her keep by working and cleaning in the church”—and her children will be able to visit her on weekends. On weekdays, they’ll continue their education and medical treatments, which is so much of the reason why she’s fighting to stay here in the first place. “This is the way we live into our values and convictions,” said Cedar Lane Unitarian’s Rev. Abhi Janamanchi. The church held a celebration earlier this week to welcome Gutiérrez Lopez, and laid hands on her in prayer. “We are engaging in faithful resistance to unjust laws and inhumane practices.”

Nuts & Bolts: Inside a Democratic campaign—your quick questions

It’s another Saturday, so for those who tune in, welcome to a Saturday diary of Nuts & Bolts of a Democratic Campaign. If you’ve missed out, you can catch up anytime: Just visit our group or follow Nuts & Bolts Guide. I get a lot of questions
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Nuts & Bolts: Inside a Democratic campaign—your quick questions

It’s another Saturday, so for those who tune in, welcome to a Saturday diary of Nuts & Bolts of a Democratic Campaign. If you’ve missed out, you can catch up anytime: Just visit our group or follow Nuts & Bolts Guide. I get a lot of questions, sometimes on Twitter, sometimes in comments, sometimes via email, about campaigns. Some of them have become entries in this series, and some of them have brought up subjects that led me to call others who work in campaigns to get their thoughts. Not all of them, though, are subjects that require long, detailed responses that would really make an entry all on their own. They are good questions, sure, but they don’t need the kind of answers that fill out a full weekly entry.  This week, as we really wrap up the year, I’m going to go into the quick questions I’ve been asked this year. 

The rise of the robots: How Trump and the Republicans betrayed their base voters

Trump’s formula for his unfortunate electoral victory in 2016 relied heavily on persuading voters in the so-called “heartland” that their economic decline was due not to any fault of corporate, late-stage capitalism, but that their jobs were being “st
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The rise of the robots: How Trump and the Republicans betrayed their base voters

Trump’s formula for his unfortunate electoral victory in 2016 relied heavily on persuading voters in the so-called “heartland” that their economic decline was due not to any fault of corporate, late-stage capitalism, but that their jobs were being “stolen” by people with darker skin than themselves. By scapegoating Latinos in particular, and by employing familiar Republican stereotypes against African-Americans, Trump succeeded in eking out the win against a polarizing female Democratic candidate by mobilizing rural “working class’” Americans, mostly white and male, to vote for him out of a sense of race-based grievance. In an article for the New York Times, Thomas Edsall shows how Trump and the Republicans almost immediately betrayed that rural voting base with their massive tax giveaway to corporations in 2017, by creating a tax incentive bonanza that encouraged and accelerated the pace of automation and the implementation of robots, now displacing thousands of relatively low-skilled workers in largely Trump-voting areas of the country. Another article by Eduardo Porter (also written this week for the Times) highlights the root causes behind the seemingly intractable problem of rural poverty in this country, and offers some clues on how Democrats might reclaim many of those rural voters without compromising values on issues of racial inclusion and equality.   If for nothing else, last month’s elections were remarkable for the fact that virtually no Republicans highlighted their singular legislative achievement, a massive tax giveaway to corporate America. One obvious reason for that is that few Americans making less than mid-six figure incomes saw any benefit to themselves from this tax cut. But the other reason was even more damning, if less noticeable: buried in this gargantuan payoff to reward the CEO donors in boardrooms who supported their campaigns, Republicans deliberately provided a huge incentive for corporations to eliminate the very jobs that their rural base needed to survive. Donald Trump’s $1.5 trillion tax cut has increased incentives to replace workers with robots, contradicting his campaign promise to restore well-paying manufacturing jobs in the nation’s heartland. The Trump tax bill permits “U.S. corporations to expense their capital investment, through 2022. So, if a U.S. corporation buys a robot for $100 thousand, it can deduct the $100 thousand immediately to calculate its U.S. taxable income, rather than recover the $100 thousand over the life of the robot, as under prior law,” Steven M. Rosenthal, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute and a specialist in tax policy, wrote me by email. The sheer appeal to corporations of an immediate tax deduction through investments in automation cannot be understated. The biggest liability corporations face is the high cost of paying their workers. But robots do not need health benefits and “sick time”—they need only to be programmed and oiled on occasion. They do not require wage increases, because they do not require any wages to begin with. So a tax incentive to automate was immediately hailed by corporate America as a win-win. And the impact has, for the most part, fallen upon those industries that typically employ the same type of non-college educated, usually male, workers (semi-skilled assemblers, machinists, material handlers, welders) who voted, in droves, for Donald Trump. Edsall quotes Jeffrey Sachs, a professor of economics at Columbia University: The demographic group most hindered by the rise of automation, Sachs wrote, “has been the proverbial white male with less than a college degree and living in rural and semirural areas.” Sachs believes that [T]he next wave of job losses will be in basic business services (wholesale and retail trade, warehousing and transport) which will mean another hit for workers with relatively lower educational attainment. Edsall also cites and quotes extensively a recent study out of MIT, which shows the Trump-voting swathes of the South and Midwest have a far higher concentration of robot-dependent industries than other areas of the country. But the Trump tax cut did more than just drive the automated replacement of workers in Trump country—it encouraged industries to move out of the country altogether. The 2017 Trump tax cut not only boosted incentives for corporations to replace workers with robots, it has also created incentives for American companies to move production overseas, even as it directed resources toward “opportunity zones” in what the Trump administration defines as “neglected and underserved communities” — incidentally providing a bounty of lucrative grants, guarantees and breaks for real estate developers. Many in the Democratic Party, frankly, feel like these voters in Trump country are getting exactly what they deserve for supporting Trump and his cast of enabling charlatans in the GOP. And there is undoubtedly some appeal in schadenfreude, that sense of pleasure that people derive from others’ misfortune, particularly if it is viewed as deserved. But the racism that drove Trump voters to the polls didn’t grow in a vacuum. It was packaged, stoked and fed to them as an easy opportunity to assign blame to what they felt was a real problem: the plain fact that American business industries are not offering livable jobs in rural areas any more. I was in Fayette County, Pennsylvania this week. This is a county about an hour south of Pittsburgh, bordering West Virginia. The collapse of the steel industry turned the region into an economic basket case several decades ago. Today the people who live and work there are largely employed in low-paying service or retail industries, at places like Applebee’s or Walmart, or desperately trying to land  a few jobs with a number of fracking companies that are sucking every drop of natural gas out of the land. Everyone seems to know someone who has overdosed and died from opioids. There is no economic recovery going on in Fayette County right now. It is white, semi-rural, and unabashedly Trump-supporting, just like a thousand other forgotten places in this country. Which brings us back to Eduardo Porter’s piece., which takes a hard, cold look at the prospect of reclaiming a decent standard of living for the 60 million or so Americans who live in backwaters like Fayette County, Pennsylvania. For the last 25 years, these areas have seen nothing but economic and population decline. Rural America is getting old. The median age is 43, seven years older than city dwellers. Its productivity, defined as output per worker, is lower than urban America’s. Its families have lower incomes. And its share of the population is shrinking: the United States has grown by 75 million people since 1990, but this has mostly occurred in cities and suburbs. Rural areas have lost some 3 million people. Since the 1990s, problems such as crime and opioid abuse, once associated with urban areas, are increasingly rural phenomena. While there have been many solutions suggested as ways to rejuvenate these areas, none of them seem to have taken hold. That is primarily because of a now wholly globalized, Hobbesian economy, and remarkable, if unsettling, leaps in worker-replacement technology and artificial intelligence. Robots and workers in China put together most of the manufactured goods that Americans buy, and the high-tech industries powering the economy today don’t have much need for the cheap labor that rural communities contributed to America’s industrial past. They mostly need highly educated workers. They find those most easily in big cities, not in small towns. Even the people recommending a revolution in rural investment suggest targeting areas that lie near major cities (“big tech hubs”), because those are the areas with the existing infrastructure to support such efforts; more importantly, those are the areas where highly-skilled workers are likely to be found. There’s a reason, for example, that Amazon just decided to build a new campus in Austin, Texas, rather than even a medium-sized city in the state. This is the inescapable reality of agglomeration, one of the most powerful forces shaping the American economy over the last three decades. Innovative companies choose to locate where other successful, innovative companies are. That’s where they can find lots of highly skilled workers. The more densely packed these pools of talent are, the more workers can learn from each other and the more productive they become. This dynamic feeds on itself, drawing more high-tech firms and highly skilled workers to where they already are. And if medium-sized cities can’t compete for such job-creating industries, what chance is there for rural areas? The brutal conclusion for Porter is: not a lot. So what to do? Rather than do nothing, and let the people in these regions wither away (because most people living there can’t afford to leave), Porter suggests that we undertake some efforts geared to encourage relocation of people to where the jobs are. That would necessitate lowering the cost of living in some of the places that are thriving, most significantly, for housing. Revision of zoning rules to permit more affordable housing in and around places like New York, San Francisco, and other major cities is one of his suggestions. Implementing a national strategy to revitalize rural communities would seem to be another. Assisting people in obtaining an education is an obvious one. Making a combination of all these approaches a national priority is a natural fit for Democratic policy-making. In particular, a strategy of bringing people to the areas where these jobs are would appear to benefit the long-term fortunes of Democrats, as cities also promote inclusion and diversity. People are just less inclined to hate and fear something or someone they encounter and work with every day. There is no easy solution to the problems faced by rural America. But the failure of Trump and the Republicans to do anything but enrich themselves—and their donor base—with perversely counterproductive tax cuts provides Democrats with an enormous and inviting opportunity to make inroads with these potential voters, without compromising our values. Because, when it comes down to it, everyone wants a good place to work.

Spotlight on green news & views: US boosts coal at climate talks; Va. solar goes big; Zinke out

This is the 584th edition of the Spotlight on Green News & Views (previously known as the Green Diary Rescue). Here is the December 8 edition. Inclusion of a story in the Spotlight does not necessarily indicate my agreement with or endorsement of it. O
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Spotlight on green news & views: US boosts coal at climate talks; Va. solar goes big; Zinke out

This is the 584th edition of the Spotlight on Green News & Views (previously known as the Green Diary Rescue). Here is the December 8 edition. Inclusion of a story in the Spotlight does not necessarily indicate my agreement with or endorsement of it. OUTSTANDING GREEN STORIES Ocellated turkey in Guatemala’s Tikal National Park, Peten. Kestrel writes—Dawn Chorus: It's Time to Talk Turkey: “Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, you might think I could come up with a topic besides turkeys for today’s Dawn Chorus. But I’m not quite ready to let turkeys go yet because I found this great bunch of turkey facts that I didn’t know before. A nature writer named Melissa Mayntz provides the following info about turkeys in one of her short essays featured in The Spruce.com. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I’m going to borrow (with great thanks and attribution) these turkey tidbits Wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) can be wild fun when you consider how unique and incredible these birds really are. While most birders and non-birders alike can easily recognize the distinctive plumage, large tails, bare heads, and gobbling call of these game birds, how much do you really know about them? These wild turkey facts might surprise you!” AndySchmookler writes—An Opportune Moment to Hit Trump on Climate Change: “A full-out, multi-prong challenge to the President for his unsubstantiated ‘I don't believe it’ should be mounted. From every available direction should come the question, ‘On what basis, Mr. President, do you justify your not believing this well-supported document from the scientists?’ • Reporters -- the people who shout questions to him about pardons for Manafort and such—should be encouraged to shout out ‘On what basis’ questions, and be prepared to follow up if they get the expected insubstantial answers. • Democrats in Congress should use their platforms to not let the President get away with such an indefensible dismissal. (The fact that the latest polls show that 70% of the American people are “concerned’—‘very’ or ‘somewhat’—about climate change suggests that this would be a political winner.) • Environmental organizations should a) encourage reporters and congressional Democrats to challenge the President in the ways described above and b) organize events to dramatize the contrast between the vast body of science and the ignorant dismissal, challenging the president with that challenging question, ‘On what basis...?’ " ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Protestors Crash Trump’s Coal Sideshow After US Joins Axis Of Oil States: “In the heart of coaland, the second week of COP24 is going ... about as expected. Over the weekend, host country Poland refused to allow at least a dozen climate campaigners entry into the country, while a handful of countries stood in the way of a sentence that expressed the UN’s ‘welcome’ for the IPCC 1.5 special report. The United States joined with Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to downplay how the UN would acknowledge the report the UN itself requested, instead insisting that they only “note” the report, and not endorse its findings. Though it’s sad to see the US now partnering on international negotiations with two petro-states that murder journalists, it’s not exactly surprising. On Monday, the US held it’s pro-pollution event, praising coal and fossil fuels at a conference about finding ways to reduce fossil fuel use. Fortunately, the panel was likely pretty ineffective at convincing anyone of anything, particularly as protestors quickly made a scene. As it turns out, a climate conference isn’t the best place to promote climate-changing fossil fuels.”

Texas developer brags his congresswoman mother will send federal bucks his way with new appointment

What a perfectly Trumpian story. Earlier this month, J.D. Granger, who is the son of Republican Rep. Kay Granger, publicly bragged to a local NBC station that his mother's appointment as ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee meant that she'd b
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Texas developer brags his congresswoman mother will send federal bucks his way with new appointment

What a perfectly Trumpian story. Earlier this month, J.D. Granger, who is the son of Republican Rep. Kay Granger, publicly bragged to a local NBC station that his mother's appointment as ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee meant that she'd be able to funnel millions in federal dollars to a development project in Fort Worth called Panther Island … which the younger Granger just happens to run. In a «buoyant mood,» Granger then added an equally startling comment about himself and his mother: «When this thing is on autopilot, we both get to retire.» The Grangers have since had to walk back both ends of this piece. Granger claimed he «misspoke» about his mother quitting the House, and a spokesperson for the congresswoman said flatly, «She is not retiring.» (For what it’s worth, Texas’ 12th is an extremely Republican district in the Fort Worth suburbs, having voted for Trump by a 63-33 margin.) As for Granger's claim that his mom would soon be shipping some of that sweet, sweet scrilla from Uncle Sam down Texas way, he was forced to say on the record that her new position «does not guarantee remaining federal funds needed to complete» the Panther Island project. By saying the quiet part loud, he’s now at least increased the scrutiny that any new appropriations are likely to receive. Don't fret about Granger, though: He still remains in charge of the development (which is overdue, over budget, and underfunded), earning $213,000 a year while never once receiving a written evaluation in his 12 years on the job. And while the $1.1 billion project is about to undergo a new audit, it won't examine Granger's role at all. This is the kind of nepotism that would make Donald Trump so very, very proud.

Tucker Carlson becomes latest Fox News host to face advertiser boycott after vile, xenophobic rant

Congratulations are in order for the latest Fox News host to find their hateful word vomit cause a loss of ad revenue. Tucker Carlson’s vile take on immigration Thursday has led Pacific Life Insurance to “pause” their commercials from his nightly xenop
Daily Kos

Tucker Carlson becomes latest Fox News host to face advertiser boycott after vile, xenophobic rant

Congratulations are in order for the latest Fox News host to find their hateful word vomit cause a loss of ad revenue. Tucker Carlson’s vile take on immigration Thursday has led Pacific Life Insurance to “pause” their commercials from his nightly xenophobic screamfest, the company announced Friday. xA message from Pacific Life: pic.twitter.com/bDq9hzia53— Pacific Life (@pacificlife) December 14, 2018 The Pacific Life announcement marks a big milestone for the boy wonder: Unlike his cruel colleagues, this is the first time ol’ Tuck has felt this particular kind of heat. Carlson has not previously sustained a longterm advertising boycott effort, though his primetime counterpart, Laura Ingraham, faced advertiser revolts following comments made about both child detention centers («essentially summer camps») and former Parkland high school student David Hogg. What, pray tell, could the bowtie-less boy wonder possibly have done to trigger such a move by the 150-year old insurance giant? Quite simply, he went on a hate-filled rant about immigration, and when “Tucker Carlson Tonight” cut to commercial so TC could clear the rage spittle from his babyface, a Pacific Life insurance was the palate cleanser. xLast night, Tucker Carlson opened his show by saying immigration makes America “poorer, and dirtier, and more divided.«An offensive, dehumanizing and racist statement.That segment ended with an ad from @pacificlife. pic.twitter.com/ryjauzYloq— jordan (@JordanUhl) December 14, 2018 In addition to calling asylum seekers “cynical shakedown artists who have been watching too much CNN,” Carlson framed immigration as a process embraced by decent Americans—while simultaneously asserting his own indecency. Our leaders demand that you shut up and accept this. We have a moral obligation to admit the world's poor, they tell us, even if it makes our own country poorer, and dirtier, and more divided. Immigration is a form of atonement. Previous leaders of our country committed sins -- we must pay for those sins by welcoming an endless chain of migrant caravans. That's the argument they make. It was only after being called out Twitter that Pacific Life pulled their ads … for now. Predictably, the insurance company framed their action as a “pause,” while they embark on a politely-described “reevaluation” of their “relationship” with the frozen food heir’s daily hate hour. Fox News, predictably, blamed the left, instead of, you know, the guy spewing bigoted diarrhea from his facehole. »It is a shame that left-wing advocacy groups, under the guise of being supposed ‘media watchdogs’ weaponize social media against companies in an effort to stifle free speech. We continue to stand by and work with our advertisers through these unfortunate and unnecessary distractions,« a Fox News spokesperson said in a statement.  The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to other advertisers; so far, only Farmers Insurance has responded to confirm their commitment to the show, which should be renamed Tucky’s White Supremacy “News” Hour. A spokesman for Farmers Insurance, which also advertised during Thursday night's episode, provided a statement on Friday night suggesting it's not pulling out. »Farmers invests in advertising across a broad range of networks and programs that reflect the diversity of opinions and viewpoints found across the nation,« he said. »Advertising decisions made by Farmers should not be construed to be an endorsement of any kind as to a show’s content or the individuals appearing on the show." I may be alone here, but that catchy Farmers jingle is forever changed in my head after reading that.  🎵 We love Tucker, bum ba-dum bum bum bum🎵 The Sleeping Giants initiative, which is devoted to making “bigotry and sexism less profitable,” is spearheading a callout campaign to other Carlson advertisers, starting with travel booking site Expedia.

Virginia EMT suspended without pay; insists his neo-Nazi podcast isn't racist, it's just 'satire'

A white supremacist podcast host has been placed on unpaid leave from his job as an EMT this week, after statements he made about people of color created substantial doubt about his ability to care for patients who are not white. Alex McNabb, 35, created an a
Daily Kos

Virginia EMT suspended without pay; insists his neo-Nazi podcast isn't racist, it's just 'satire'

A white supremacist podcast host has been placed on unpaid leave from his job as an EMT this week, after statements he made about people of color created substantial doubt about his ability to care for patients who are not white. Alex McNabb, 35, created an alter ego for the “Daily Shoah” podcast and, as “Dr. Narcan,” he told stories from his work as a first responder in Patrick County, Virginia. McNabb compared black patients to gorillas, mocked patients with racial slurs, and told a horrifying story wherein he “terrorized” a young black boy. He then told another story of an “unruly young African-American male child running around” an emergency room. “As it turned out, this young African-American male was there to get blood drawn, so guess who volunteered to take his blood?” he told his co-hosts, who laughed in response. “Dr. Narcan enjoyed great, immense satisfaction as he terrorized this youngster with a needle and stabbed him thusly in the arm with a large-gauge IV catheter.” Predictably, McNabb insists that his hateful podcast is just political comedy and satire, see, and he describes Dr. Narcan as a “transgressive comedy sketch.” He’d never let his bigotry get in the way of his work, he claimed, after a complaint was filed against him with the state. On the Nov. 30 episode of “The Daily Shoah,” McNabb said he didn’t treat patients differently based on their ethnicity or religion. “It’s a professional duty,” he said. “You have a fucking duty, to go out there and give 100 percent on every single call. It doesn’t matter what race or color or what situation it is.” He added, “I mean, no one’s going to do something to put their job in jeopardy or do something that makes them look like an incompetent asshole.”     Since the HuffPost story about McNabb was published, the suspended bigot appears to have spent his time glued to the internet, on Twitter in particular, ranting about antifa this or antifa that, and ceaselessly mocking Christopher Mathias, who wrote the exposé. (He even found time to mock my coverage of this situation!)

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