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What is it that conservative voters just don’t get yet?

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That was a question asked on Quora.com, and Chris Joosse (tagline: “Limited government, fiscal conservative”) responded as follows:

In no particular order:

  • No, the liberal left doesn’t harbor deep-seated desires and grand plans to control every aspect of your life in ‘political correct’ totalitarian style. You’re being told that because it makes you easier to influence politically (there’s nothing so unifying as a common enemy).
  • Yes, the folks on the left do love America too, and no, they don’t hate you or your freedoms. Whoever tells you these things is not your friend or ally- you’re their tool to the extent you believe that stuff. When lefties sound frustrated with you, part of that is they don’t like that you’re being taken advantage of in ways that affect everyone. Also, they’ve been trying to tell you this a lot, but it doesn’t seem to be getting across.
  • Liberals are never coming for your guns. They might want you to comply with some rules and accept some limitations to their use, and some are beyond angry with how the gun die-hards refuse to accept any regulation whatsoever, but it’s just. not. going. to. happen. The folks telling you it’s gonna happen are the same folks who just sold you your stockpiles of ammo at price-gouging rates because you were convinced you had to buy it while you could. They’re not your friends; you’re their marks.
  • No, lefties aren’t in favor of Sharia law when they make it clear they don’t like to see Muslims discriminated against. It means they don’t want the USA to act like a theocracy, not because they want to impose a Muslim one.
  • No, the Nazis and fascists weren’t left-wing, and it doesn’t matter that the GOP was once the party of Lincoln and civil rights. What does matter is that the GOP is the party of voter suppression, gerrymandering, and false claims about rampant voter fraud.
  • No, ‘getting tough’ on social issues such as crime or drugs doesn’t work. If it did, the problem would already be solved. It’s quite possible that the perceived unfairness of ‘get tough’ rules (as applied) contributes to the problems (like the way community:police relations aren’t good in high-crime areas).
  • No, the money from tax cuts to the rich never ever ever ever trickles down, and the people who tell you it will are making out like bandits while you wait.
  • No, we’re not broke from idle moochers draining the system and living large on too-generous benefits. We spend tons on corporate welfare and government contracts, more than we do on other sorts of welfare. The stories about welfare queens and lazy moochers living large on the dole are invented to keep your attention away from all the tax dollars going into corporate pockets.
  • No, the USA isn’t number one in the world at anything now, except for per-capita incarceration, military spending, and the prices we pay for medical care and pharmaceuticals. We have lots of potential to be better, and wanting the USA to be better isn’t the same thing as not-loving America.
  • We get it, the future in which white people are a minority makes you uneasy- but the problem isn’t who’s a minority, it’s that minorities are regarded and treated as second-class citizens by too many people. Fix that part, and everything has potential to turn out fine. Not fixing it means when we’re the minority, it’ll be our (or our grandchildren’s) turn to be treated as second-class, and we’ll deserve it when we have to protest about how White Lives Matter. Social justice isn’t about taking away white rights, it’s very much in our interests.
  • No, it’s not hypocritical when ‘tolerant’ liberals aren’t tolerant of intolerance or bigotry. It would be hypocritical if they were.
  • A lot of those jobs are never coming back, and politicians telling you they will aren’t your friends- you’re their marks. Already the easy-to-automate work has been automated, and eventually even the skilled labor (like automating work) will eventually be automated. (yes, today there is software writing other software, machines building other machines). Eventually, this will force us to re-think the idea of work being our identity, or how to organize an economy with surplus labor that still looks like America.

You can also browse his answers to other questions.

Written by LeisureGuy

19 February 2017 at 12:45 pm

Posted in Democrats, GOP, Politics

Congress targets a California law that aims to give low-income workers retirement security

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Evan Halper reports in the LA Times:

ambitious California law intended to help create retirement security for low-income workers is in the crosshairs of the Trump-era Congress, which is moving to block the state and others from launching programs to automatically enroll millions of people in IRA-type savings plans.

The push is one of the most direct confrontations yet with California and other liberal states by a GOP-led Congress emboldened by President Trump’s election.

And it is intensifying the debate about whether conservatives who now control Washington will honor their pledge to respect states’ rights, even when states pursue policies out of step with the Republican agenda.

By targeting the novel “auto IRA”-style programs, congressional Republicans are also provoking one of California’s most visible leaders, state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, the Democrat who championed the policy in California and nationwide and is leading a movement in the Legislature to resist the Trump White House.

The 2016 law being targeted requires employers to enroll 6.8 million California workers who currently have no access to a retirement savings account at work in a state-sponsored plan. Millions more in seven other states that have passed laws similar to California’s would also be enrolled in those states. Many more states are now weighing joining a movement that has been years in the making.

California first took steps toward creating its program in 2012. Other states, including Illinois, have been slowly implementing their own laws, which have been complicated by federal Labor Department rules governing such investment pools.

In its final months, the Obama administration gave states the green light to pursue their vision.

The state laws generally require employers with no retirement plans to automatically invest a small percentage of each worker’s pay in a state-sponsored retirement account. Employers are not required to contribute anything and workers can opt out of the program if they choose.

The first such program was expected to launch this year in Oregon. California and other states were hoping to begin next year.

Now at the urging of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a coalition of Wall Street investment firms long opposed to government-sponsored retirement programs that could compete with their own offerings, key Republicans are moving to revoke the federal approval.

“Our nation faces difficult retirement challenges, but more government isn’t the solution,” said a statement from Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), chairman of a House subcommittee on retirement issues who is taking a lead in the repeal effort.

Walberg and his colleagues are invoking an obscure parliamentary tool that gives Congress a small window to repeal new regulations. It has rarely been used in recent years because any repeal effort would have faced certain veto by President Obama. But under Trump, it is now a potent tool for Republicans to swiftly unwind Obama-era regulations.

“The results of the November election give us an opportunity to go back and correct this,” Aliya Wong, executive director of retirement policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said of its effort to block California and other states from moving ahead with their programs.

No hearings are required before the full House votes on the repeal of the federal approval, which could happen as soon as next week. . .

Continue reading.

It’s really out in the open now, isn’t it? The next step will be fistfights.

And contract reporter? Shouldn’t he be on staff?

In that connection, note the GoFundMe of Pizza for the Newsroom: contribute toward buying pizza for the staff of the NY Times and the Washington Post. I have digital subscriptions to both, and they are fully worth it. And I bought a pizza, too.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 February 2017 at 7:40 pm

George Lakoff offers 10 points for democracy activists

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George Lakoff, former Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley and now Director of the Center for the Neural Mind & Society (cnms.berkeley.edu), writes on his blog:

1 – To understand the basic issues, read “A Minority President.”

2 – Know the difference between framing and propaganda: Frames are mental structures used in thought; every thought uses frames. Every word in every language is defined relative to a mental structure — a frame. Frames, in themselves, are unavoidable and neutral. Honest framing is the use of frames you believe and that are used to express truths. Propaganda expresses lies that propagandists know are lies for the sake of political or social advantage.

3 – Hold Republicans accountable. Trump is dominating the media, partly to establish his authority, but mainly to divert attention and provide cover to Republican leaders. Keep focused on Republican actions. Minimize publicizing Trump — his image, his name, his tweets.

4 – Focus attention on substance, not sideshows. Trump’s attacks on freedom, democracy, and the innocent matter more than his tweets. Positively and strongly reframe his pre-emptive framing (see tweet diagram).

5 – Focus on democracy and freedom. In a government by, for, and of the people, there is, or should be, no distinction between the public and the government. The consequences are:

  • Empathy: government should care about, and for, the public;
  • Transparency: government should inform the public truthfully;
  • Freedom and Opportunity: the private depends on public resources, both for private enterprise and private life. For example, if you’re not educated, you’re not free. If you have no health care, you’re not free. If you’re impoverished, you lack opportunity.

Republicans are destroying all of these by:

  • Removing “regulations,” which are public protections;
  • Imposing gag rules and budget cuts on government agencies removes transparency;
  • Privatizing education, protection, communication, infrastructure, nature; etc. are attacks on freedom.

6 – Be careful not to . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 February 2017 at 5:28 pm

The Watchdog Protecting Consumers May Be Too Effective

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The last thing on earth that corporations (and thus the GOP) wants is for consumers to be protected. Consumers are their prey, and if consumers are protected profits may fall. Gretchen Morgenson reports in the in the NY Times:

In its promise to roll back the Dodd-Frank financial reform act of 2010, the Trump administration hasn’t provided many details. It’s a safe bet, however, that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the federal agency charged with protecting consumers from financial miscreants, will be a target.

Why would the president want to rein in the only federal agency dedicated to the consumer finance beat? Perhaps it has been a little too effective in pursuing wrongdoing by banks, consumer credit reporting companies, credit card issuers and student loan collectors.

While these activities have earned kudos from Main Street, the bureau has also made powerful enemies among financial institutions whose executives have the ear of Mr. Trump and other Republicans. According to a leaked memo that emerged late this week, Jeb Hensarling, the Texas Republican who heads the House Financial Services Committee, will move forward with legislation to weaken the bureau and its enforcement powers.

Republican lawmakers like Mr. Hensarling have been trying to hobble the bureau ever since its creation in 2012 under Dodd-Frank. But none of these efforts have gotten far.

With a new administration in town, the momentum against the bureau is building, said Quyen Truong, a partner at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan and a former assistant director and deputy general counsel at the C.F.P.B. Although she said that it’s unlikely the bureau will be eliminated, its structure as an independent agency whose budget does not have to be approved by Congress may be threatened.

Future rule-making could also come under fire, Ms. Truong said. “If the C.F.P.B. was to adopt new regulations,” she said, “there would be greater potential for Congress to put a stop to it by removing C.F.P.B.’s authority to adopt those rules or taking action after the fact to undo the regulations.”

Reducing the bureau’s power would deal a blow to consumers, because other federal finance regulators just don’t have their interests at heart. Entities such as the Federal Reserve Board and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency are charged with monitoring banks for safety and soundness. Historically, this has translated to a regulatory focus on profitability at these institutions. And if those profits come at the expense of consumers, well, c’est la vie.

A 2009 research report from the Center for Responsible Lending, a nonprofit consumer organization, spoke to this issue. It said that the O.C.C. and the defunct Office of Thrift Supervision took the view that banks were “customers rather than entities to be regulated.”

Recall that in the Wild West run-up to the 2008 financial crisis, the Fed and O.C.C. were glacial about curbing reckless mortgage lending. It wasn’t until March 2007, just as the tsunami of subprime losses was cresting, that the Fed and other regulators published guidance urging lenders to consider a borrower’s ability to repay a loan.

And in a blinding glimpse of the obvious, the Fed also urged banks that “communications with consumers should provide clear and balanced information about the relative benefits and risks of the products.”

Even these tepid suggestions raised the banks’ ire: Their representatives called the guidance an example of regulatory overreach.

So it’s not surprising that the more aggressive stance taken by the C.F.P.B. has enraged big financial institutions and their supporters in Washington. Just last month, for example, it sued Navient, the giant student loan servicer, charging it with cheating borrowers, allegations the company denied. And in early February, the bureau sued a New Jersey-based legal funding company, alleging that it swindled first responders to the World Trade Center attack out of money they were owed from victim compensation funds.

One of the C.F.P.B.’s best features is . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 February 2017 at 6:41 pm

“Nevertheless, She Persisted” and the Age of the Weaponized Meme

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Megan Garber has a relevant article in the Atlantic:

There are many ways that American culture tells women to be quiet—many ways they are reminded that they would really be so much more pleasing if they would just smile a little more, or talk a little less, or work a little harder to be pliant and agreeable. Women are, in general, extremely attuned to these messages; we have, after all, heard them all our lives.

And so: When presiding Senate chair Steve Daines, of Montana, interrupted his colleague, Elizabeth Warren, as she was reading the words of Coretta Scott King on the Senate floor on Tuesday evening—and, then, when Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell intervened to prevent her from finishing the speech—many women, regardless of their politics or place, felt that silencing, viscerally. And when McConnell, later, remarked of Warren, “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted,” many women, regardless of their politics or place, felt it again. Because, regardless of their politics or place, those women have heard the same thing, or a version of it, many times before.

All of that helps to explain why, today, “Silencing Liz Warren” and #LetLizSpeak are currently trending on social media platforms—and why, along with them, “She Persisted” has become a meme that is already “an instant classic.” It also helps to explain why you can now buy a “Nevertheless, She Persisted” T-shirt, or hoodie, or smartphone case, or mug, each item featuring McConnell’s full explanation—warned, explanation, persisted—scrawled, in dainty cursive, on its surface. As the feminist writer Rebecca Traister noted of the majority leader’s words: “‘Nevertheless, she persisted’ is likely showing up on a lot of protest signs this weekend.” And it’s likely to keep showing up—a testament to another thing American culture has told its women: that “silence” doesn’t have to equal silence.

It started like this: On Tuesday evening, during a late-night Senate session debating President Trump’s nomination of Jeff Sessions to become attorney general, Warren used her time at the podium to read a letter that Coretta Scott King, the widow of Martin Luther King Jr., had written about Sessions in 1986. King, a civil rights leader in her own right, was opposing Sessions’s potential (and, later, realized) elevation from U.S. attorney to federal judge. Warren began reading the words King had written (to then-Senator Strom Thurmond): “It has been a long uphill struggle to keep alive the vital legislation that protects the most fundamental right to vote. A person who has exhibited so much hostility to the enforcement of those laws”—

At this point, Daines, the senator presiding over the session, interrupted Warren, citing Senate Rule XIX and its stipulation that “no Senator in debate shall, directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute to another Senator or to other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator.” The matter was put to a vote; it went down party lines; Warren was not permitted to continue. After this, McConnell was asked to explain himself and his party’s silencing of his Senate colleague.

And then: “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” And with it, as the Chicago Tribune put it: “Mitch McConnell, bless his heart, has coined a new feminist rally cry.” Indeed: On the internet, “Nevertheless, she persisted” was applied to images not just of Warren and King, but also of Harriet Tubman, and Malala Yousafzai, and Beyoncé, and Emmeline Pankhurst, and Gabby Giffords, and Michelle Obama, and Hillary Clinton, and Princess Leia. It accompanied tags that celebrated #TheResistance.

The meme is, as of Wednesday morning, still going strong. It hit a nerve—the same nerve, roughly, that had been hit by “binders full of women” and “such a nasty woman” before it.

But it hit something else, too: all the notes that allow shared words to swell into shared emotion. You couldn’t have designed better fodder for a meme had you tried. . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 February 2017 at 2:30 pm

What Effective Protest Could Look Like

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David Frum makes some very good points in his Atlantic article:

Fourteen years ago, I found myself an unexpected micro-target of a left-liberal protest demonstration. I had visited London to watch the debate and subsequent vote in the House of Commons over the Iraq war resolution. A huge demonstration against the war snaked down Whitehall toward Parliament. I wandered into Trafalgar Square for a view. Somebody recognized me as a recent alumnus of the Bush administration; arguably its least important member, but undeniably the closest at hand. A small throng surrounded me, and there followed what the diplomats would describe as a candid exchange of views.

Midlife brings strange changes to us all. After a lifetime of viewing demonstrations from the other side of the barricades, I was one of the many who admired the orderly commitment and resolution of the women’s march on Washington the day after President Trump’s inauguration. Yet my admiration is mixed with worry. As I step through the police lines, I bring a message with me: Your demonstrations are engineered to fail. They didn’t stop the Iraq war. They won’t stop Donald Trump.

With the rarest exceptions—and perhaps the January 21 demonstration will prove to be one—left-liberal demonstrations are exercises in catharsis, the release of emotions. Their operating principle is self-expression, not persuasion. They lack the means, and often the desire, to police their radical fringes, with the result that it’s the most obnoxious and even violent behavior that produces the most widely shared and memorable images of the event. They seldom are aimed at any achievable goal; they rarely leave behind any enduring program of action or any organization to execute that program. Again and again, their most lasting effect has been to polarize opinion against them—and to empower the targets of their outrage. And this time, that target is a president hungering for any excuse to repress his opponents. Look at how Trump positioned the University of California—whose out-numbered police battled to defend the speech rights of one of the most provocative and obnoxious of Trump’s minions—as a target for retaliation.

Trump’s  statement is precisely the opposite of the truth. But it’s become dogma in Trumpworld, including even to many Trump-skeptical conservatives. Protesters may be up against something never before seen in American life: a president and an administration determined to seize on unrest to legitimate repression. Those protesters are not ready for it. Few Americans are.

It’s possible I’m not the right person to offer the following analysis. Yet it’s also a good rule to seek wisdom wherever it may be found. So here’s what I have to offer from the right, amid the storms of the Trump era.

The more conservative protests are, the more radical they are.

You want to scare Trump? Be orderly, polite, and visibly patriotic.

Trump wants to identify all opposition to him with the black-masked crowbar thugs who smashed windows and burned a limo on his inauguration day. Remember Trump’s tweet about stripping citizenship from flag burners? It’s beyond audacious that a candidate who publicly requested help from Russian espionage services against his opponent would claim the flag as his own. But Trump is trying. Don’t let him get away with it. Carry the flag. Open with the Pledge of Allegiance. Close by singing the Star Spangled Banner––like these protesters at LAX, in video posted by The Atlantic’s own Conor Friedersdorf. Trump’s presidency is itself one long flag-burning, an attack on the principles and institutions of the American republic. That republic’s symbols are your symbols. You should cherish them and brandish them.

Don’t get sucked into the futile squabbling cul-de-sac of intersectionality and grievance politics. Look at this roster of speakers from the January 21 march. What is Angela Davis doing there? Where are the military women, the women police officers, the officeholders? If Planned Parenthood is on the stage, pro-life women should stand there, too. If you want somebody to speak for immigrants, invite somebody who’s in the country lawfully.

Since his acceptance speech in Cleveland, Donald Trump has made clear that he wants to wage a Nixon-style culture war: cops against criminals, soldiers against pacifists, hard hats against hippies. Don’t be complicit. If you want to beat him, you have to reject his categories.

“Tone policing” has entered the left-of-center vocabulary as one of the worst possible things you can do or think. In fact, all effective political communication must carefully consider both tone and content. If the singer Madonna wants to indulge herself in loose talk about political bombing, let her do it on her own platform, not yours. If you see guys with crowbars in the vicinity of your meeting, detain them yourselves and call the cops. You’re the defenders of the Constitution, the Republic, and the Western Alliance. Act like it.

Strategic thinking; inclusive action

The classic military formula for success: concentrate superior force at a single point. The Occupy Wall Street movement fizzled out in large part because of its ridiculously fissiparous list of demands and its failure to generate a leadership that could cull that list into anything actionable. Successful movements are built upon concrete single demands that can readily be translated into practical action: “Votes for women.” “End the draft.” “Overturn Roe v. Wade.” “Tougher punishments for drunk driving.”

People can say “yes” to such specific demands for many different reasons. Supporters are not called upon to agree on everything, but just one thing. “End the draft” can appeal both to outright pacifists and to military professionals who regard an army of volunteers as more disciplined and lethal than an army of conscripts. Critics of Roe run the gamut from those who wish a total ban on all abortions to legal theorists who believe the Supreme Court overstepped itself back in 1973.

So it should be for critics of President Trump. “Pass a law requiring the Treasury to release the President’s tax returns.” “An independent commission to investigate Russian meddling in the US election.” “Divest from the companies.” These are limited asks with broad appeal.

On the other hand, if you build a movement that lists those specific and limited goals along a vast and endlessly unfolding roster of others from “preserve Dodd Frank” to “save the oceans”—if you indulge the puckish anti-politics of “not usually a sign guy, but geez”—you will collapse into factionalism and futility.

The Democratic party remains open for business. If your concerns are classic Democratic concerns, you know where to go. But if you are building a movement to protect American democracy from the authoritarianism of the Trump administration, you should remember that the goal is to gain allies among people who would not normally agree with you. Just as the iconography of your protest should originate in the great American mainstream, the core demand of your movement should likewise be easy to explain and plausibly acceptable to that mainstream, stretching from Bernie voters to Romney donors.

Here are a few useful tests: . . .

Continue reading. It’s worthwhile. Later, he notes that protests are fun, meetings are effective.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 February 2017 at 10:43 am

Did Mike Flynn Accept Illegal Payments From the Russian Government?

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Russ Choma reports in Mother Jones:

A key Trump White House official may have violated the Constitution in 2015 when he delivered a paid speech in Moscow and dined with Vladimir Putin, congressional Democrats alleged Wednesday. According to the lawmakers, Michael Flynn, the controversial national security adviser, may have run afoul of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause.

Since Donald Trump’s election in November, ethics experts have raised concerns that the president’s many overseas business interests might violate the Emoluments Clause—a provision that prohibits federal office holders from accepting financial benefits from a foreign government. But the possibility that Flynn, a retired Army general, may have also violated the clause is new.

The concern was raised in a letter signed by top Democrats on the House Oversight, Armed Services, Judiciary, Homeland Security, Intelligence, and Foreign Affairs committees and focuses on a trip to Russia that Flynn took in December 2015. On the trip, Flynn attended a 10th anniversary gala celebration for RT, the pro-Russia news outlet owned by the Russian government. At the gala, Flynn appeared on a panel and then sat next to Putin during dinner. Flynn retired from the military prior to the trip, but the Democratic letter notes that he may still have been covered by the Emoluments Clause.

In an interview with the Washington Post last year, Flynn downplayed the importance of the meeting by making it clear that he was only there as a paid speaker.

“I was asked by my speaker’s bureau, LAI. I do public speaking. It was in Russia. It was a paid speaking opportunity,” Flynn told the Post. “The gig was to do an interview with [RT correspondent] Sophie Shevardnadze. It was an interview in front of the forum, probably 200 people in the audience.”

Flynn would not tell the Post how much he was paid for the event. The White House did not immediately respond to Mother Jones’ request for comment on the letter. . .

Continue reading.

blog_flynn_emoluments

Written by LeisureGuy

1 February 2017 at 3:10 pm

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