Republican Latino Backfire Continues to Reverberate

Latinos_for_Trump_rtr_imgAmersfoort, Netherlands    Donald Trump is quickly proving that he is the best Presidential nominee the Democrats may have ever had. His recent brief visit to Mexico City embarrassed the Mexican government, became a huge public and political relations disaster for the Mexican president, and totally confounded and angered both supporters and opponents in a case study of flip-flop confusion. And, this is what he managed in an effort to try and build a bridge to the Latino community that he has called rapists and criminals and threatened to deport. Can it get any better than this?

In Mexico, Trump tried to pretend he was a diplomat. President Pena Nieto was suddenly his friend. He claimed they didn’t even talk about his notion of the Great Wall of America to seal the border. President Nieto on other hand says, they won’t pay for the Great Wall, and that he had told Trump that in their meeting. But, if Trump was trying to build a bridge, he burned it as soon as he got to his rally in Arizona where he repeated that he would build the wall and that the Mexican government would pay 100%, even if they didn’t know that yet. He once again paraded families onto the stage would were allegedly victims of crimes by immigrants. He once again went all bully-boy and promised to deport people, even while saying elsewhere that he would be humane and everything would be on a case-by-case basis, or what is known in immigration circles as Obama-like. Three Republican pollsters interviewed by the Financial Times pointed out, essentially, that you “confuse the base,” then you “lose the base.”

Pew Research reports 27 million Latinos, equaling 12 percent of the total electorate, will be eligible to vote in November, an increase of 4 million in the last four years, fueled by more than 3 million Hispanics that have turned 18 years old in that period. The voter turnout from Latinos has been low historically – less than 50% — compared to 67% turnout for African-Americans and 64% turnout for white. Hillary Clinton is currently polling 66-24 over Trump, which is about the same as Obama’s numbers over Romney in the 2012 election. Even hitting the same benchmark would help Clinton, given that the Latino vote is the fastest growing segment of the total electorate, especially in a number of battleground states, and even significantly in states like Arizona and Georgia which have been consistently in the Republican column.

Voter registration efforts by Voto Latino and Mi Familia Vota are reporting much higher totals than in the last election cycle. Other experts have noted something they are calling a “Trump bump,” in the increase of citizenship applications in the community which hit a record high compared to four years ago. Others remind that of the 5 million Latinos who are eligible for naturalization and in the country legally, 3.5 million are from Mexico. These experts believe that Trump’s positions have energized the community to legalize and vote.

Jorge Ramos, the popular Univision anchor who was ejected from a Trump press conference in Iowa, was quoted as saying, “Donald Trump is the most important figure pushing Latinos to register and vote. What he has done is really push young Latinos who are turning 18 to register and go to the polls….”

Muchas gracias, Senor Trump!

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New York Times Columnist Beats ACORN Dead Horse

c99e3db826c0f4cc2688a36ce3b60e1a_XLNew Orleans   A New York Times columnist, Timothy Egan, opined in his op-ed piece on what he called the dumbing down of democracy. It was largely a semi-rant covering a wide range of topics that you would expect from what the alt-right, or whatever it’s called, would say is still the elite, effete, northeastern corridor so prized by Nixon’s Vice-President for a time, Spiro Agnew.

His unhappiness was general. People don’t read. Trump has stepped up as a non-reader leader. What they do read, they don’t understand. An alternate reality of one’s own choosing from conspiracies, the internet, friends on Facebook has substituted for real information, real books, real maps, real news, and even real temperatures. Egan points out for example that even during the hottest year ever last year found 45% of the Republican masses telling the Gallup pollsters that they “don’t believe the temperature.”

Egan’s leading point on the polarity of politics and the disease of denial for the Republican base though came from Texas, where he wrote:

“A recent survey of Donald Trump supporters there found that 40 percent of them believe that Acorn will steal the upcoming election.”

Egan could have pointed out that that figure shows progress, which it does, since following the 2008 Obama victory polling of Republicans in various areas has found the number annually who believe that ACORN stole the first and then the second election has gone from a huge majority to the lower 40 percent range. To only have 40% in Texas believing that ACORN is ramping up for ballot box theft in 2016 seems somehow encouraging to me.

But, no, Egan’s then has to beat the ACORN horse with a vengeance, saying,

“Acorn? News flash: That community organizing group has been out of existence for six years. Acorn is gone, disbanded, dead. It can no more steal an election than Donald Trump can pole vault over his Mexican wall.”

Ok, Ok, I get the point, and true enough ACORN didn’t steal any elections in the past any more than we will in the future. I’ve said the same ad infinitum, ad nauseum, but still “gone, disbanded, dead,” geez, and in the same paragraph with Donald Trump? Let’s show some respect!

And, speaking of illiterate, how can Egan and the Times-sters write “Acorn” that way with lowercase letters, when the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now was as much an abbreviation as an acronym? The New Yorker and just about everyone else knows better, but I don’t want to get off the point.

ACORN is alive and well all around the world and through ACORN International even continuing to be active in the United States with affiliates in anti-lead fights in Louisiana, internet access campaigns in Pennsylvania, Texas, and Arkansas with Comcast, housing rights in Pittsburgh and Arizona, the rights of mental health consumers in Alaska, and the beat goes on. Furthermore, many of the ACORN affiliates that reorganized several years ago have been continued the strong tradition in California, Texas, New York, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Arkansas, and elsewhere. The conservative blogosphere and the Breitbart folks and their friends continue to keep ACORN’s name in front of their viewers rightly aware that the movement of low and moderate income families for their own organization and the power they need to win justice and equity is not easily stopped and could rise and erupt at any moment.

So, yes, election theft is a ridiculous fantasy for the Republicans in Texas and elsewhere to hold on to, but sometimes your enemies know you better than your friends, and they just might be onto something by keeping an eye on ACORN itself and its progeny, because the work goes on, the spirit is indomitable, and as ACORN members have always chanted, The People United Can Never Be Defeated.

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Rigged Elections and Delegitimized Democracy Increasing Polarization

 A rally last week in Philadelphia, where Hillary Clinton said voter registration efforts were the best tactic against Donald J. Trump. Credit Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

A rally last week in Philadelphia, where Hillary Clinton said voter registration efforts were the best tactic against Donald J. Trump. Credit Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

New Orleans    The early warning signal was a report that 40% of recently surveyed Republicans already believed that ACORN was going to steal the election between Trump and Clinton. Yes, that’s down from the even higher percentages reported on other surveys since 2008 arguing that ACORN stole both elections for President Obama, but it’s still total falsehood and fantasy backed by not one iota of proof, not to mention the fact that ACORN has not operated in the United States since 2010, which seems to trouble none of these conspiratorialists in the least about such a zombie attack on election purity.

Now Trump partnered with the hate mongering, fact-adverse Breitbart bunch is putting out its first television advertisements with the subliminal headline, “Rigged,” flashing across the screen. Trump told his rallies in Pennsylvania that the polls were all corrupt and that the only way he could lose the election in Pennsylvania was if the election was stolen and the whole process was rigged. Normally, these would be tactics only associated with what we would usually call, “sore losers,” except that Trump seems to have virtually trademarked the word “loser,” and may not realize yet, as he undoubtedly will soon, how permanently that moniker will stick to him for the rest of his life, perhaps even in epic, historic terms.

If this were just about Trump, we could easily ignore his attempt to inoculate his fanboys and girls from what is increasingly seeming like the inevitable. The problem, as we have all sadly seen in the eight-year war by the right to delegitimize Obama, is that such a strategy is designed to polarize and erode democracy, which in the vicious circle of our political life, also paved the way for a Trump candidacy. Many will remember from his earliest days in office when President Obama, then a naïve democracy advocate, tried to remind the Congressional Republicans that he “had won the election,” believing that the mandate from the voters came with an understanding that some of his positions should be implemented in policy. We don’t believe any of that nonsense in Washington anymore that somehow the voters will deserves respect. It’s dog-eat-dog period, and the people take the hindmost, which is happening on a state-by-state basis where the rightwing has been able to work their will without restraint.

What does this augur? If Hillary Clinton prevails, will we once again watch her try to be bipartisan, as Obama did, and fail while the right quickly tries to reframe a defeat as not about them but about the flawed Trump candidacy?

Some are advancing the theory that the Senate could change hands if the Trump defeat continues on its current abysmal trajectory. A turnover of four or five seats would make the difference there for four years until 2020 when more Democratic seats are up for grabs, but that wouldn’t break through the logjam, even if it would hedge against our worst nightmares. For the House to flip, thirty or so seats would have to change, and most pundits are estimating only half of that will happen.

It’s depressing when the end of this polarized dysfunction still seems nowhere in sight, even as November’s outcome seems more and more inevitable.

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The Trump Uniform and Other Stereotypes

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Republican U.S. vice presidential candidate Mike Pence speak with flood victims outside Greenwell Springs Baptist Church in Central, Louisiana, U.S. August 19, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Republican U.S. vice presidential candidate Mike Pence speak with flood victims outside Greenwell Springs Baptist Church in Central, Louisiana, U.S. August 19, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

New Orleans    Donald Trump showed up for three hours in Baton Rouge yesterday to make whatever hay he might out of the 1000-year flood in the area. Obama will be coming next week. He’ll be leaving his vacation on Martha’s Vineyard or some such and answering the cries of daily editorials in the Louisiana newspapers calling for him.

There was a picture of Trump in many of the newspapers along with his vice-presidential running mate, Indiana’s governor Mike Pence. The photo op had them helping unload a truck with donated supplies and helping hand those out in the blistering heat and suffocating humidity that makes a Louisiana day in an August summer the stuff of tropical legend. What struck me though was the fact that Trump was still “in uniform.”

Pence was wearing a short sleeve shirt with an open collar. Trump had on his now iconic white golf cap, which reportedly is his sartorial strategy to hold the comb over in place so he doesn’t get caught by any of the political photojournalist paparazzi with his remaining hair flying akimbo in all directions. Not surprisingly, it was also one of his key fundraising strategies throughout the campaign. He was wearing his usual white shirt and dark jacket. No tie, but this is clearly his all-purpose uniform. He has no message discipline, but total and absolute fashion discipline. His image is clearly what he sees as important and paramount, not his message. I find that fascinating and frightening at the same time. This is what presidential means to him.

But, it’s also a product of the media flesh-eating machine. Over the last week we’ve had more than our share of articles about the “buns” in the women’s hair at the Olympics and the number of sequins and rhinestones in the women gymnasts’ outfits. It all got to the point that a rouge feminist interviewer in Rio, watched by my daughter, was interviewing male Olympians and asking them about their uniforms and asking them to “take a twirl” for the viewers.

Reading the business section of the big national newspapers it becomes easier to follow the Trump uniform and its challenges, particularly at the gender divide. For Trump – and many other business folks – this is all about their “brand.” Women pictured in those pages and elsewhere have greater challenges. Of course there is Hillary and her pantsuits and big jackets, Marissa Mayer and her colorful combinations at Yahoo, or Sheryl Sandberg and her dark-colored monotones at Facebook, but for the rest of the tribe there is uncertainty. Do they go with the rigid, formal suit or the summer flounce to message professionalism or friendliness?

Why can’t we move past the trivialities of “dad” jeans and sleeveless dresses? Certainly Trump doesn’t mean to teach us anything, but his boring, standard issue uniform is a clear message he is shrewdly planting in all of us, whether we like it or not.

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Candidates Conclude “The Poor Will Always Be With Us” – Good Luck!

Voting Location Rural Alabama 1966

Voting Location Rural Alabama 1966

New Orleans  Both major candidates, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, seem to have concluded that, “What the heck, the poor don’t really vote, and the poor will always be with us, so later for them.” Speeches about the economy are silent on the issue of the richness of America contrasted with our level of poverty compared to other industrialized countries.

Both have kinda, sorta come out for an increase in the federal minimum wage, but don’t start thinking about a “fight for $15,” because this election season that’s more of a “dream for $15.” Trump sometimes says he is for a $10 per hour minimum wage. Clinton has settled on a $12 per hour minimum wage.

Clinton has proposed expanded benefits for child care and health care and some other existing benefits. Trump has said there might should be a deduction from taxes for the average rate of child care payment, but of course you have to have a job where you benefit from such a deduction. Neither seem to say much about the earned income tax credit, nor surprisingly housing, especially affordable housing, which seems to have fallen off either of their lists. Trump obviously knows a bunch about housing, but it’s more in the unaffordable, luxury area.

Yet, as the New York Times noted:

There is not a single state where a full-time worker earning the minimum wage can rent a market-rate one-bedroom apartment for 30 percent or less of their income, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. And more than 11 million households spend more than half of their income on rent.

After one federal initiative after another by both Democratic and Republican presidents, I have to wonder whether or not in the post-2007 housing collapse the candidates have lost their moorings. They can no longer stand firmly on the argument that everyone can afford to be a homeowner, and they are unwilling and unable to tackle the reality of a permanent renter-class and how that fits into a “new” sense of the American dream, and god knows no candidate wants to admit the dream is dead.

This abandonment of the poor is most striking of course for the Democratic Party, which many observers are now arguing is being upended by Trump’s success with the working class, especially white, which they have usually claimed. One columnist recently argued for example:

If current trends continue, not only will there be a class inversion among the white supporters of the Democratic Party, but the party will become increasingly dependent on a white upper middle class that has isolated itself from the rest of American society. Instead of serving as the political arm of working and middle class voters seeking to move up the ladder, the Democratic Party faces the prospect of becoming the party of the winners, in collaboration with many of those in the top 20 percent who are determined to protect and secure their economic and social status.

So, who is really going to advocate and represent low-and-moderate income families or in other words, the poor and working class? Seems clear neither Clinton nor Trump is really ready to ride for this brand, and low-and-moderate income families are going to be hard pressed to find comfortable or permanent homes in either of the two major parties.

***

Please enjoy Y La Bamba by Libre.  Thanks to KABF.

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Trump Military Assault Revives Vietnam and the Draft

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Vietnam War Draft Lottery

Rock Creek, Montana   One nice thing about being mostly off-the-grid for a bit is missing the daily craziness of the emerging political campaign in the United States. Reading the latest news of Donald Trump’s assault and disrespect of the Muslim parents of a fallen soldier in Iraq in 2004 was simply mind-boggling. Is there really a politician from dogcatcher to the White House who doesn’t realize that in America, no matter what our politics or views on war and peace, who doesn’t realize that we give respect to our soldiers who fall in service to our country? Yes, it turns out there is one: Donald Trump!

I can’t believe this, but I thought in 2008 with the victory of Barack Obama over John McCain, we had finally, and thankfully, left Vietnam and the issues of compulsory service at the hands of the draft behind, but now with Trump’s callousness, we are right back in the political quicksand of Southeast Asia again. I feel more like Rip Van Winkle waking up after years of sleep, than simply someone off-the-grid for 48 hours! On this Trump-created political issue, Hillary Clinton, for a change can’t say anything, and from what I can tell, equally thankfully, hasn’t said anything, because she gets a pass, since women were exempt from the draft, so no dissembling or memory lapses on her part are necessary.

Can’t say that for the Donald either. He remembers nothing. Being of Hillary and Donald’s generation, I can categorically assure everyone everywhere that it is absolutely a bald-faced lie. I could say definitively that there is no man of the Vietnam Era who doesn’t vividly recall every detail of his experience with the draft, especially how he might have ended up not serving in Vietnam. George Bush the first was the last of the World War II generation to serve as President, but from that point on we certainly are all familiar with the second George Bush’s time as perhaps a National Guard pilot, and we also heard Bill Clinton’s various stories of how he avoided the draft repeatedly and were wildly familiar with other candidates like John Kerry and John McCain and their experiences in the service.

On this score Donald Trump claims he’s clueless. He pretends he got a high number even though he had already won a series of educational exemptions and then a 1Y deferment based on a willing doctor’s note saying that he was unfit because of bone spurs, all of which occurred and put him in the clear way before the lottery was imposed by a country desperate to make the system seem fairer. Now in the dimness of his memory and perhaps the induced fog-of-war, he knows the bone spurs magically disappeared, but also can’t remember when they arrived or where they went, who the doctor might have been or whether he actually had a physical or simply left the note with the local New York City draft board.

It is way past time for Vietnam and the draft to recede as a political issue at this level, but lying and the truth are always valid concerns when we vote for a president. All of this latest Trump mess from the disrespect of Muslims and our war dead to the make believe stories about his lack of recall on the draft and how he avoided service, though he claims to have always, silently, opposed the war, seems to be vivid proof of another classic example of the breaks easily obtained by someone who was rich when the call came in for yet another US war that was a “rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight.”

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