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Racist Tweets from a Racist President

Racist Tweets from a Racist President

A few days ago, I was considering writing about “The Squad” and my hope that they would find common ground with Democratic leadership. With eyes on the 2020 prize, I believe a more centrist Democratic candidate and platform is the best way to displace Trump. Nancy Pelosi is playing the long game and she’s right to do so. More on that later, because over the weekend POTUS found a way to unify the country more successfully than at any other time during his political life.

This isn’t about politics. This is about character.

Prior to this weekend’s attacks, I would contend that most decent people already viewed POTUS as a racist. His history is well-documented, here and elsewhere. I’ll spare you another recitation.

The tweet above is definitionally racist. The spin from the sycophants is both predictable and disgusting. Whatever your politics, we must demand more of our elected leaders.

We can disagree on policy from A to Z. I’m always up for a discussion on how to make the world a better place, all the better if opinions diverge. Our political structure is built for slow and careful deliberation and its history is rich with debate. None of this is the point.

We should, and must, all call out racism by its name.

Anything short of that is complicity. Worse still are those in politics and among the public who defend these tweets and deflect to politics. There is no modern equivalent among the Democrats. None.

So let’s be direct and honest, POTUS is a racist. This isn’t new and the evidence is overwhelming. These tweets mark the end of the counterargument. Supporting Trump is supporting racism.


Unity in Division

For Democrats, for the first time in months, the focus is on something other than their warring factions. Across the party and far beyond, this abject racism serves as a rallying cry for all who reject it. This isn’t the beginning (housing discrimination, Central Park 5, birtherism) and won’t be the end, but it is an important inflection point. It’s long past time to unite around basic norms and decency.

Set politics aside and demand more from our political leaders. All elected officials who fail to condemn Trump are complicit. They lack the character to serve this country effectively. Vote them all out.

Those who still support Trump enable him and embolden his racism, and are themselves racist – no equivocation necessary. Decent people must fight this scourge at every turn. Anything less is distinctly un-American.

Trump Launches Re-election Campaign in a State He Can’t Win

Trump won Florida in 2016. He won’t in 2020.

Last night, Trump launched his re-election bid in Orlando, Florida. Despite the raucous crowd and having won the state in 2016, he won’t win Florida in 2020.

Yes, the same state that Ron Desantis and Rick Scott won in 2018.

Let’s review those races:

 

  • Race
  • Trump, 2016
  • DeSantis, 2018
  • Scott, 2018
  • Margin of Victory
  • 113,000
  • 33,000
  • 10,000

 

In these races, 8M-9.5M votes were cast. At most, these margins represent a separation of ~1.4%.

Most recent Presidential races in the state have been similarly close. You know the closest one. W followed that up with the widest margin of victory since his father’s win in 1988. Even that 2004 win was by fewer than 400K votes (over 7M total cast) and while his brother was serving as Governor.

So what’s different in 2020?

Amendment 4 & the Puerto Rican exodus.

 


Amendment 4

Some background, from Wikipedia:

After the abolition of slavery in the United States, Florida enacted Black Codes, which restricted freedoms for African Americans and led to mass incarceration. The 1868 Florida Constitution enacted felony disenfranchisement, a ban on voting for felons even after completing parole and probation, disproportionately impacting African Americans. Though other Jim Crow laws, such as education requirements, were repealed in successive constitutions, felon disenfranchisement continued.

In 2016, 6.1 million adults in the United States could not vote due to felony disenfranchisement laws. In 2018, Florida was one of four U.S. states that enacted permanent felony disenfranchisement, affecting 1.7 million felons. Felons must wait five to seven years after the completion of their sentence before they can apply to have their voting rights restored by the State Board of Executive Clemency, which is composed of the Governor of Florida and the Florida Cabinet, and meets four times per year at the Florida State Capitol in Tallahassee, Florida. Florida’s disenfranchised felons constituted 10% of the adult population, and 21.5% of the adult African American population.

In 2018, Florida voters, by a wide margin (65/35), righted this long-standing wrong by restoring voting rights to of Floridians with felony convictions, exclusive of murderers and sex offenders, after the completion of their sentence.

Effective January 8, 2019, 1.4M ex-felons – about 10% of Florida’s adult population, along with one in five black Floridians – became eligible to vote.

Naturally, Florida’s Republican-controlled legislature and Trumpian Governor are doing everything they can to controvert the will of the voters and Jim Crow the shit out of the new law.

But let’s look at how Amendment 4 might impact 2020.

Vox ran the numbers and concluded that Democrats might gain ~48,000 votes, with “an additional 40,000 votes that could be cast on behalf of either party.” This doesn’t change the outcome of the state’s 2016 Presidential election, but both the recent Senate and Gubernatorial races might have gone the other way.

 


Puerto Rican Exodus

In the wake of Hurricane Maria, many thousands of Puerto Ricans fled to Florida. The New York Times breaks down the potential electoral impact of that migration, here, where they suggest Democrats might gain 40,000 votes.

 


The Numbers

48,000 + 40,000 = less than 113,000

If you read NYT or Vox articles I’ve cited, you might wonder why I chose them, since they both conclude that these forces are insufficient to flip the state. But they’re trying to close the 2016 gap of 113,000. The 2018 races suggest that the sentiment gap is much smaller.

Ron DeSantis ran as a Trump clone. He won by just 33,000 votes. Sure, it was a midterm election and turnout was down slightly from 2016 (8M vs. 9.5M). But for a midterm, that’s relatively strong and higher turnout generally favors Democrats.

With Trump essentially on the ballot, this race offers the best possible proxy for the coming 2020 race. The gap has closed, significantly.

48,000 + 40,000 = far more than 33,000

Trump is losing supporters and the broader electorate is shifting away from him.

 


As was made clear in 2016, nothing is certain and voters are unpredictable. All 2020 outcomes are still possible. Still, it’s hard to ignore Trump’s weak early polling, the evidence waning support, and some 88,000 new Democratic votes in Florida.

Trump loses Florida in 2020 and can’t win the presidency without it.

 

Justin Amash and the Sad State of the GOP

Justin Amash – Not a Partisan Hack

…and that’s why he’s at risk

Rep. Justin Amash (R, MI) is a good man. He and I diverge politically on some important issues (abortion, environment, healthcare), but I agree with his libertarian views on other matters (defense/surveillance, foreign policy, individual liberties). Most importantly, he’s thoughtful and principled, not just another partisan sycophant.

Because he’s not a lap dog for the GOP leadership and the President, he’s long been at odds with the clapping seals who define his party. In May, he became the first GOP Congressman to publicly voice his support for impeachment. Earlier this week, he resigned from the House Freedom Caucus, of which he was a founding member.

His independence and his Twitter account have brought him into the national political conversation and raised his profile considerably. Is he planning to run for President in 2020? I doubt it. His party has left him. He has no chance of winning.

So what have his principled leadership and national profile gotten him?

He’s no longer funded by the Devos family. POTUS and Don Jr. are attacking him and will likely campaign against him. And he’s now down 16 points to a Trump-swab primary challenger.

 


Michigan Republicans – you can do better. You have a year.

When Amash’s brand of common sense and decency (he’s not perfect, but he’s pretty good) put you at risk of losing your party’s primary to an avowed partisan hack, something is broken.

That something is the GOP. Mindless adherence to the President’s callous agenda du jour is what the party now requires. It’s a sad day when the abdication of truth, decency, and oversight responsibilities, are the keys to a primary victory. I hope that’s not what Michigan Republicans actually want. There’s plenty of time. I hope you’ll choose wisely. I hope.

The Most Important Democrat in the 2020 Race

Andrew Yang Sees the Future

He’s right, and he’s good for the 2020 race.

Odds are decent that you’ve never heard of Andrew Yang. I don’t think he can win, but I do think he’s talking about the most interesting political issue of the next 20 years.

The 2020 election is a long way away. I’m not here to make predictions, but the 2018 midterm and Trump’s approval ratings suggest that the Democratic nominee already has an advantage. But looking to 2020 and beyond, as the country continues to diversify and Trump’s base, along with conservatives, broadly, die at a faster rate than Democratic voters come of age, the electorate is shifting blue and our elected representatives will soon better represent it.

I don’t want to go down this prediction rabbit hole except to suggest that certain items we view as politically contentious will, I believe, be put to bed soon, including:

  • Climate change – It’s real and we need to take it more seriously.
  • Universal healthcare – We long ago codified universal access to care. Now we need a better way to pay for it.
  • Immigration – We need more of it and a better process.
  • Debt – It’s hard to see how we could do worse than we’re doing today.

I have confidence that we are entering a political climate wherein we can address all of these issues. And while the work will last decades, and perhaps centuries, with a shared understanding of the problems and a commitment to solving them, we will make tremendous progress on all fronts.

Which brings us to the next major political issue of the coming 20 years, Universal Basic Income.

 

Universal Basic Income – a Social Imperative.

As we enter an age of AI-driven automation, UBI is inevitable. According to AI expert Kai Fu Lee, 40% of jobs are at risk in the next 15-25 years. PWC projects 30% of jobs will be lost. These are huge numbers that are not likely to be overcome through jobs gained in AI.

Further, according to McKinsey, there will be significant skill mismatches in the labor force. All of this coincides with an accelerating trend of separating labor from economic output.

 

We Can Afford It.

The impact of automation on the labor force is foreseeable and it may well come rapidly. This will shock the labor force and has the potential to hurt our consumer-driven economy in the short run.

The upside is that productivity will continue its acceleration. While stocks markets may oscillate, the next technological revolution will power long term economic growth. We are a rich country that will keep getting richer. We should raise taxes on the rich (not 70%, but higher than 37%) and we may need to tax the output of robots and automated systems.

It’s in this context, where millions, maybe tens of millions, will find it near impossible to find work, that we’re going to need to rethink how we provide for the basic needs of large swaths of the population.

UBI is a solution for this high automation, low labor economy. Andrew Yang knows this. He’s right, and he’s ahead of the curve on this topic. I’m glad he’s bringing this important issue to light.

See more about him and his campaign.

Trump Translation Guide

Trump Translation Guide:  Promises vs Reality

After running the most fact-free campaign ever, President-elect Trump is already backpedaling on many of his promises and he’ll find it impossible to make good on others. As such, I’ll try to maintain this “Trump Translation Guide”, distilling his middle school social studies education, Forrest Gump-like command of the language, and reckless overpromising into what he means, or what might actually happen.

There’s a pattern here and it’s more than ‘everything he says is BS’. While true, on a policy level there is increasingly less daylight between him, Hillary, and Obama.

Congratulations Trump voters! For little difference in policy, you elected the least prepared, most obnoxious candidate ever.

This isn’t a fact check, so much as a reality check.  It should be fun.

 

Build a wall, get Mexico to pay for it:

  • Maybe a fence in some places.
  • Mostly an investment in border security.
  • Mexico is NOT going to pay for it, unless indirectly via US consumers.

Deport 14M illegals:

Repeal and replace Obamacare:

  • Not taking insurance away from 20M people.
  • Keeping protections for pre-existing conditions and kids under 26.
  • No word on the individual mandate.
  • It will get the fixes it needs. This is inevitable and not a partisan issue.

Drain the swamp:

  • Load up on insiders and immediately hire supporters, irrespective of personal qualities.

Mitt Romney is such a loser:

  • Have you met my Secretary of State?

 

I know more than the generals:

  • About my insane hair.

 

Mosul is such a disaster:

  • I don’t have a plan, but criticizing everything seems to get me on TV.

 

I’ll keep (I kept) that business in the US:

  • Not according to Carrier.
  • Ford was never leaving Kentucky for Mexico.

 

“Lock her up!”:

  • Nah, just kidding.

 

Global warming, the Chinese hoax:

  • Maybe, just maybe, even I am not that dumb.

 

There’s plenty more and there’s no end in sight. The upside is that his caving on these issues brings him closer to a normal, centered reality that’s better for all of us.

Totally worth hiring an incompetent asshole to do most of the same things as an accomplished policy wonk with some flaws, a frosty personality, and a love of pantsuits.

Trump Protesters – Go Home

Trump Protesters — it’s time to go home.

 

I know you expected a different outcome. I did. Most of the world did, including, if we and they are honest, many of Trump’s own supporters. That contributes to the shock value of the result. That’s fair.

Stop the “Not My President” bullshit. Don’t like me calling it what it is? Tough. How obscenely racist would that hashtag have been in 2008? You’re arguing the results of a clean and fair election. You lost. I lost. She lost. But the process is fair and final. He is your president and mine, no matter your opinion. Stop with the absurd petitions to stop him and anoint Hillary. It’s not happening, and anyone with more than a couple of functioning brain cells should know that.

Imagine the hew and cry if Trump supporters were in the streets and chanting “Lock Her Up”. You’d be in a tizzy. You’d call it treasonous and want the protesters arrested immediately for crimes against your feelings, and the state.

Take a step back and recognize that no one is saying this about you. You have every right to have your feelings heard, but know that all you’re doing is expressing your feelings. You’re not protesting anything in particular, rather simply expressing disappointment and frustration, with an understandable dose of fear.

I understand your frustration and concern. I do. Trump said some horrible things and campaigned on a platform built on lies, innuendo, fear, and bigotry… fill in the undesirable attribute of your choosing. There is legitimate cause for concern over many of his proposals, much of his rhetoric, the broader Republican party platform, and the motivations of some who supported him. But nothing has actually happened yet. Your grievance is with his words. You are not aggrieved.

By protesting words, and worse, blocking roadways, and doing property damage (sounds a lot like rioting), you’re affirming the belief of many Trump supporters that we are, increasingly, a weak nation of thin-skinned children. Prove them wrong by accepting the results of our robust democratic process, even when you don’t like the result. Grow up. Go home.

Gear up to protest things that actually happen and have real-world implications. Emboldened by a dramatic win and with control of Congress, Trump and the Republicans may well try to do some horribly regressive shit. Protest then. Protest that. Demand the best of your elected leaders. Save it for actual policy disputes, things that matter and are real.

Go home. There’s nothing to protest right now. Not yet.

Make your vote count!

 

trump-clinton
Sick of all the political posts? Tough shit, snowflake. It’s the most important thing in the world right now and some people clearly need more information. Make your vote count!
 
Vote however you like. If you’re undecided, well… I’m glad the docs were able to awaken you from the long coma.
 
But on a tactical level, those of in swing states (other than UT) need to know the following:
 
Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump is going to be our next president. Odds are excellent that they’re not your top two choices, but one of them IS GOING TO BE PRESIDENT. (It’s going to be Hillary, in a landslide, but that’s not the point of this post.)
 
If you’re in a swing state and considering a third party candidate, just write in Mickey Mouse. Or stay home. It’s all the same. There are many ways to avoid what might be (but shouldn’t be) a difficult decision. Just don’t pat yourself on the back and sport an “I voted” sticker after you effectively put your ballot in the trash. It’s your right, of course, but you did not perform your civic duty. You punted.
There’s no honor in a “principled” rejection of the process. (I’m looking at you, John Kasich.) And it doesn’t matter what you, I, or anyone else thinks of your 3rd, 4th, or nth party candidate. He/she isn’t going to be president. That much we know.

“It’s just one vote”
Sure, but let’s have mass action, instead of mass inaction decide this, ok?
 “I wish there were more / better choices”
As do most people, myself included. But this is where we are today. You can participate or punt.

Please participate.

Massachusetts Ballot Questions, Answered

Here’s the latest polling I could find:

Hillary is going to win Massachusetts. The down ticket races are mostly uninteresting. The ballot questions, as is often the case, are where it’s at!

Text of the questions here.

An unbiased analysis, here.


 Question 1 — Slots – YES

“A fool and his money are soon parted.”

If you want to move money from your pocket, through a slot machine at -X% implied return, and into cities and towns, who am I to stop you?

Will this project achieve the lofty returns the “pro” group is touting? Probably not. Is it immediately accretive to the state’s coiffeurs? It sure is.

Vote yes to accept tax donations from willing gamblers!


Question 2 — Charter Schools – YES

This one needed its own post, here.


Question 3 — Conditions for Farm Animals – NO

A solution in search of a problem.

The market is evolving rapidly. Walmart is going cage-free. Even McDonald’s is moving in this direction. Cage-free eggs are widely available, so if you’re passionate about this issue, you can buy them in most markets right now.

California is the only other state with similar regulations. Naturally, they now also enjoy the highest egg prices in the country.

Animal welfare matters, but there’s only one farm in the state of MA not currently in compliance with the proposed standards, which won’t be implemented until January 1, 2022. The real impact of this measure will be on egg imports. We’ll no longer be able to buy eggs from out of state producers who don’t comply with this law, closing the market and raising prices. This is why there’s no opposition from local producers. They’ll enjoy higher prices with no compliance cost.

As is the case in California, this will raise prices. I love eggs. They’re an affordable protein choice that many people enjoy. By passing this measure, we raise prices without making meaningful change in a market that’s currently self-correcting. Lower income families will be disproportionately impacted by this unnecessary regulation.

Vote NO on 3.

More excellent analysis, here.

 


Question 4 — Marijuana Legalization – YES

Stop the madness… the “Reefer Madness”, that is.

The arguments against this are silly. You’ve probably seen the reefer madness themed ad with pot shops on every corner and a high school kid walking out of a store with a bong and a bag full of evil weed-related product. That’s a gross misrepresentation of what this law will allow.

If you’re not yet on the YES side of this, here’s your reality check:

It’s already 99% legal and widely available. This measure, while far from perfect (it should be legal, but not so heavily regulated and taxed), reduces crime and criminal earning potential. It has the potential to create massive tax revenue. The business exists. Demand is strong. This measure helps ensure that consumers enjoy a safer product with controls around the supply chain.

This doesn’t create an industry. The industry exists and is robust. It’s currently run by criminal gangs. Let’s put them out of business, enjoy some additional tax revenue, and finally accept the fact that marijuana is no more harmful than the cigarettes and alcohol that we’re all too happy to tax and regulate. Grow up — we dish out opiates like candy. Kids are getting into them. But you’re concerned about legal weed when no one overdoses?

As an added bonus, if you don’t want to smoke weed, you still won’t have to!

Vote YES on 4.

Vote YES on Question 2

This one is surprisingly contentious. I was going to write a single post covering all four ballot questions, but this one really needed its own. Here’s why you should join me in voting YES on Question 2.

Maybe you’ll be convinced quickly?

If you support choice and free markets, as I unabashedly do, you’ll quickly come to the YES side, I hope. If you need a little more convincing, please stay with me for an objective analysis as the misinformation campaign has been rather aggressive.


The $400 million lie

Opponents are using these numbers like this to scare up the opposition. Let’s understand that this is the money that “follows the students”.  When you’re told that this money is coming out of public education, without being told that it goes with the student to their new school, you’re being told a lie of omission.

Economic facts of charter schools:

When Andy moves from a public school to a charter school, funds equivalent to what would have been “spent on him” follow him to the charter school.

Ex: District spends $15,000 per student (total of state and local funds / number of students). This money follows the student to the charter school. (This is essentially the same as the current voc-tech / agricultural funding model. A model that no one argues against.)

Further, though it’s been somewhat underfunded of late when a student leaves the public school system for a charter, the “sending” public school system gets a kickback of up to 95% of the per-student funds. This money smooths funding variance for sending schools and helps to offset capital expenditures that didn’t consider the charter school effect. This is, in fact, new money for schools — incremental state spending on education. It’s complicated. More here.

The funding model isn’t perfect. The sending district may incur additional transportation (busing) expense. We can debate and refine the economics, but beginning with the premise that $400M is somehow being taken away is a grossly disingenuous way to start the conversation.


It’s not about you

The current charter school cap is 120 and we have only 78 statewide.  But under current law, Boston and Springfield have reached their caps.  Thousands of Boston families seeking better educational opportunities are denied them every year, due in large part to this cap.  A YES vote fixes this and extends choice and opportunity to these students.

You should also know that in milky white Massachusetts, 66% of charter school students are non-white.


Charters are working right now

We all want the best from our public education system, Boston Public Schools included. Unfortunately, things are, objectively, bad in this school department. This is what drives demand for charters. With a magic wand, we could cure all that ails it. This is unrealistic and it’s unfair to subject today’s students, who have immediate needs, to the long and slow grind of structural reforms.

The charters are doing a better job.  Great stuff here from Brookings:

https://www.brookings.edu/research/massachusetts-charter-cap-holds-back-disadvantaged-students/


A NO vote solves nothing

Voting NO doesn’t make public schools any better. It changes nothing. Nothing at all.

Consider these points on Tuesday.

The Voter Fraud Farce

 

Stop the madness! The election isn’t rigged and widespread voter fraud doesn’t exist. Many, many, smart people have researched this in depth and the wild claims of rampant fraud simply don’t match the evidence.

More here, from the Brennan Center for Justice

I know, I know, they’re a liberal think tank. While that’s mostly true, they’re hardly the only ones to do the work and reach this conclusion.

Here’s a handy link to many articles and studies on voter fraud. They come from universities, SCOTUS, US DOJ, courts across the country (mostly in red states), and others. None have found evidence of widespread voter fraud.

I know, I know, WaPo is a terrible paper. Biased, etc. But they did their homework on this here.

Why so little fraud?

Think, for just a moment, about how all of this works…

Our systems are robust. Here in Massachusetts, and across much of the country, local voting is run by our friends and neighbors. They roll up to the city/town level, and eventually up to the state. Layer upon layer of checks and balances are baked into the system.

At the state level, the Secretary of State oversees the process. In many cases, including MA and NH, these people have been in office across several governors and while they may favor one party over the other, they have served under both.

Further, Republicans dominate at the state level, in both gubernatorial and legislative roles. If you want to complain, in advance and without evidence, about “massive voter fraud”, look to members of your own party to ensure clean elections in 31 states.

So Why All the Talk?

It starts with the angry sweet potato. That’s bad enough, but the degree to which it is parroted on TV and social media by Trump-bots and run-of-the-mill dullards is disturbing.

Yes, it’s happening now. Always does. These are noise level incidents.

Attacking your opponent on policy, record, and character is always fair game. In this particularly nasty, post-policy cycle, I’ll even accept the lies and misinformation. For as ugly as all of this is, it’s free expression and fits within our democratic process.

But the unfounded allegations of a rigged election are a bridge too far…

This undermines the democratic process and is grossly un-American. If you’re going to malign the bedrock of our democracy, you’d better have solid evidence. Instead, this myth is being perpetuated with unfounded assertions, innuendo, and carefully cut suggestive video clips.

You’re attacking your friends and neighbors. You’re chipping away at the foundation of democratically elected, representative government. It’s dangerous and it needs to stop.

This is an apolitical, civic matter. I hope you’ll join me in standing up to those who seek to undermine our electoral process with irresponsible rhetoric.