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    With news of the Russian assault on our democracy now breaking daily, my mind keeps returning to the following quote at the outset of War of the Worlds: "...Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us." -- H.G. Wells (1898) I concede the melodramatic nature of the analogy, but the comparison is not wholly unfounded; the Cold War ended for us in 1989 -- it never ended for Vladimir Putin. Diarist xanxar has an excellent summary of Russian interference in the 2016 election, mainly vis-à-vis cooperation with domestic Republican forces to elect Donald Trump. It's well worth a read. Suffice it to say that the diary provides ample evidence for broad attacks on liberal democracy here (and around the world) via social media, including the recent revelation that indeed, yes, a Russian firm purchased $100,000 worth of Facebook advertising. I agree with Josh Marshall that, like the age old iceberg metaphor, there is far more to this paltry $100,000 purchase than it seems. It's easy to dismiss a mere $100,000 one off in advertising via the Nigerian Prince defense: gMail might have brought you the spam, but whose fault is it if you fall for the scam? There are two problems with this defense. First, Facebook vigorously denied any Russian usage of their platform for months. Second, it's still illegal for a foreign entity to try and influence our elections. The FBI investigation has now expanded to include Facebook. After the second inaguration of Barack Obama, I started to notice a strange phenomenon in the comment sections of news stories, and in various other online forums. Right wing users flooding the comment sections of key articles wasn't new. This time, though, their hatred for Obama was often coupled with a strange love of Vladimir Putin. For those of us who, it seems, only too recently lived through Cold War hysteria such as Red Dawn (1984) and Amerika (1987) the coupling of right wing talking points and Vladimir Putin love was too discordant to be taken seriously. It was pervasive, though, and often spread way down the internet news food chain. I shrugged off this strange confluence as Obama Derangement Syndrome. Fortunately, far smarter people decided to investigate further. Please take the time to read The Agency by Adrian Chen in the New York Times. There is, as previously noted, an abundance of evidence of Russia's broad attacks on liberal democracy. The Agency, written back in the summer of 2015, two weeks before Trump would famously descend the escalator, provides insight into how deep these attacks are. Who remembers the Columbia Chemical [sic.] explosion hoax? I certainly didn't, until I read Chen's article:

    Dozens of journalists, media outlets and politicians, from Louisiana to New York City, found their Twitter accounts inundated with messages about the disaster. “Heather, I’m sure that the explosion at the #ColumbianChemicals is really dangerous. Louisiana is really screwed now,” a user named @EricTraPPP tweeted at the New Orleans Times-Picayune reporter Heather Nolan. Another posted a screenshot of CNN’s home page, showing that the story had already made national news. ISIS had claimed credit for the attack, according to one YouTube video; in it, a man showed his TV screen, tuned to an Arabic news channel, on which masked ISIS fighters delivered a speech next to looping footage of an explosion. A woman named Anna McClaren (@zpokodon9) tweeted at Karl Rove: “Karl, Is this really ISIS who is responsible for #ColumbianChemicals? Tell @Obama that we should bomb Iraq!” But anyone who took the trouble to check CNN.com would have found no news of a spectacularSept. 11 attack by ISIS. It was all fake: the screenshot, the videos, the photographs.

    Saint Mary's Parish, where the chemical explosion was said to occur, doesn't even have a Columbia Chemical plant (it's Columbian Chemicals).

    The Columbian Chemicals hoax was not some simple prank by a bored sadist. It was a highly coordinated disinformation campaign, involving dozens of fake accounts that posted hundreds of tweets for hours, targeting a list of figures precisely chosen to generate maximum attention. The perpetrators didn’t just doctor screenshots from CNN; they also created fully functional clones of the websites of Louisiana TV stations and newspapers. The YouTube video of the man watching TV had been tailor-made for the project. A Wikipedia page was even created for the Columbian Chemicals disaster, which cited the fake YouTube video. As the virtual assault unfolded, it was complemented by text messages to actual residents in St. Mary Parish. It must have taken a team of programmers and content producers to pull off. They got everything right but the most important fact, as one would expect from someone who had never stepped foot in Saint Mary's Parish. We tend to think all things are possible with the Internet. One user can farm a myriad of sock puppets. Pro-Trump Twitter bot farms are no secret. If one person has the time and resources, they can have an outsized effect. But the level of professionalism required to pull of such an anti-ISIS and anti-Obama hoax on September 11 is beyond one person. Who was behind all of this? When I stumbled on it last fall, I had an idea. I was already investigating a shadowy organization in St. Petersburg, Russia, that spreads false information on the Internet. It has gone by a few names, but I will refer to it by its best known: the Internet Research Agency. The agency had become known for employing hundreds of Russians to post pro-Kremlin propaganda online under fake identities, including on Twitter, in order to create the illusion of a massive army of supporters; it has often been called a “troll farm.” The more I investigated this group, the more links I discovered between it and the hoaxes. In April, I went to St. Petersburg to learn more about the agency and its brand of information warfare, which it has aggressively deployed against political opponents at home, Russia’s perceived enemies abroad and, more recently, me. Definitely take the time to read to the end of Chen's article about how, in the end, the Agency turned their tools against Chen himself. The Columbia Chemical hoax could be dismissed as a professional yet ineffective stunt. No one got hurt, and it's spread in the conservative ecosystem was limited. But the Russian's were honing their skills, and it wasn't long after they found a more potent and promising angle of attack: racial anxiety. On Dec. 13, two months after a handful of Ebola cases in the United States touched off a minor media panic, many of the same Twitter accounts used to spread the Columbian Chemicals hoax began to post about an outbreak of Ebola in Atlanta. The campaign followed the same pattern of fake news reports and videos, this time under the hashtag #EbolaInAtlanta, which briefly trended in Atlanta. Again, the attention to detail was remarkable, suggesting a tremendous amount of effort. A YouTube video showed a team of hazmat-suited medical workers transporting a victim from the airport. Beyoncé’s recent single “7/11” played in the background, an apparent attempt to establish the video’s contemporaneity. A truck in the parking lot sported the logo of the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. On the same day as the Ebola hoax, a totally different group of accounts began spreading a rumor that an unarmed black woman had been shot to death by police. They all used the hashtag #shockingmurderinatlanta. Here again, the hoax seemed designed to piggyback on real public anxiety; that summer and fall were marked by protests over the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. In this case, a blurry video purports to show the shooting, as an onlooker narrates. Watching it, I thought I recognized the voice — it sounded the same as the man watching TV in the Columbian Chemicals video, the one in which ISIS supposedly claims responsibility. The accent was unmistakable, if unplaceable, and in both videos he was making a very strained attempt to sound American. Somehow the result was vaguely Australian. No one can forget the conservative hysteria over the non-airborne Ebola virus which has never killed anyone in America. And no one can forget the racial backlash to the Black Lives Matter protests that stemmed from innocent and unarmed black men being murdered by police. These turned out to be huge stories, with widespread coverage in the conservative media ecosystem. Josh Marshall described the politics of white racial resentment as follows: I think political racism or white supremacy is best seen like a virus which can remain dormant only to be activated under certain conditions. And the Russians had found the right conditions. Trump would ride the escalator down two weeks to the day after Chen’s article was published. From Josh Marshall: In any case, some time after the troll farm piece ran, Chen noticed that a number of the accounts he had identified spreading conspiracy theories about Ebola or other fake stories had rebranded as Trump/MAGA accounts. It’s quite fascinating. The Trump revelation comes in a December 2015 podcast interview Chen at longform.org. He clearly didn’t think that much of it at the time. It comes up sort of parenthetically at about 35:12 into the podcast. But there it is: perhaps the political scandal of the early 21st century, months before anyone had any inkling of it, briefly sketched in its outlines. The momentary exchange still amazes me. Here it is.

    Chen said: “A lot of them have turned into like conservative accounts, like fake conservatives. I don’t know what’s going on but they’re all like tweeting about Donald Trump and stuff.” Interviewer: “Who’s paying for that?” Chen: “I don’t know … I feel like maybe it’s some kind of really opaque strategy of like electing Donald Trump to undermine the US or something.”


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    Seriously. Just a Picture.

    A fascinating study was recently reported in Vox and The Root. And the conclusion of that academic study(1) is, as the title sadly suggests, that a mere photograph of a black person can actually make a Trump supporter angry. From The Root:

    “When researchers simply asked subjects how they felt about a not-so-complex housing-assistance issue, they were split on their support. But there was a subtle twist to the study: When the information about the issue was accompanied by a picture of a white person, Trump voters were much more likely to support it than when they were cued by an image of a black person.”

    If the study ended there, it would probably reveal only what we (sadly) already knew about too many of our fellow Americans.

    But there was more:

    “The study revealed that when Trump voters were exposed to the “black cue,” it not only made them less supportive of the issue. It made them angry. Yes, a picture of a black man—not an actual black man, but a picture of a black man—made them mad.”

    German Lopez at Vox states this latest study is so notable simply because:

    “...all it uses is an image of a black man to produce its results. That suggests that Trump has a powerful incentive to get people to keep thinking about race: If his most ardent supporters just need a slight racial cue to come around to his conservative policy views, then Trump simply has to bring up race to get his supporters fired up for him.”

    There is no bigger (and staler) joke about 2016 then economic anxiety. Michael Harriot at The Root notes that this study comes on the heels of a volume of recent research correlating racial resentment to Republican preference:

    Then there was the study that linked whites’ perception of our need to get “tough on crime” to racial resentment. And that other research that linked the government’s need to fix structural inequality to racial resentment. Don’t forget the Pew Research Center’s data showing that most Republicans oppose Black Lives Matter.

    I wish I were unsurprised that Republicans would have a hard time supporting the concept that human lives matter. So what does this mean?

    We were already aware that there is a strong correlation between Trump supporters and racial resentment. And this racism permeates all public perception. For example, one of the most illuminating data sets, in my opinion, is the Gallup economic confidence indicator, which spiked after Donald Trump was elected, and has remained at an elevated rate, despite little to no improvement in the economy between Barack Obama and Mr. Art of the Deal.

    Remember all those diaries bemoaning the economy under Barack Obama🤔

    But how do we square this revelation with the fact that there were a non-insignificant number of Obama voters in 2012 who voted for Donald Trump? I think the best response is a quote by Josh Marshall:

    I think political racism or white supremacy is best seen like a virus which can remain dormant only to be activated under certain conditions.

    The Trump administration has already been open that they seek a cultural racial wedge issue ahead of 2018. They will try again in 2020, too. And their allies, not just domestically in the GOP and aligned media, but overseas (Russia), will be all too ready to help gin up racial resentment again.

    _______________________

    (1) Luttig, M.D., Federico C.M., and Lavine, H.G., Research & Politics. (In Press).


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    With all the horrors in Cassidy-Graham, and Senator Graham’s melodrama that his monstrosity is the only thing standing between America and socialism, a peculiar meme that has long simmered on the left, i.e., that the fall of Obamacare will somehow hasten single payer, has reemerged, and at the worst possible time.

    x

    It's weird that Graham et al are making the argument it's their bill or single payer. It's the opposite! Killing ACA paves way for SP. https://t.co/5SJRZPLJuR

    — Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) September 19, 2017

    Chris Hayes is a good guy, but he’s basically telling every Democrat to not bother saving Obamacare.

    x

    I would venture Cassidy-Graham passage would *improve prospects that Congress eventually enacts something like single-payer. https://t.co/yoMRDE8Apo

    — George Zornick (@gzornick) September 19, 2017

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    This seems very likely. https://t.co/v4TPmHp1S6

    — Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) September 19, 2017

    Jonathan Chait even has an entire article arguing that Cassidy-Graham would make single payer more likely.

    Well, surprise! Proud federalist and states right True Believer Sen. John Kennedy has an amendment ready to explicitly ban states from using the blocked disbursements to pay for single payer style programs.

    I do not subscribe to the school of optics punditry. With the resurgence of Cassidy-Graham, which has actually been in the works since the last effort failed this summer, Sen. Bernie Sanders has become the subject of ritualistic Democratic hand wringing (for the record, despite my many issues with Sen. Sanders, I am defending him here)

    x

    Did Democrats jump the gun with single-payer splash https://t.co/qwcjHscCdDpic.twitter.com/4jVdhDbwt2

    — POLITICO (@politico) September 19, 2017

    In Sen. Sanders defense, he has spoken up in opposition to this monstrosity.

    x

    Now is the time to educate, organize and fight back. We won't allow Republicans to destroy our health care. pic.twitter.com/teUYp4rQEx

    — Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) September 18, 2017

    But the same could not be said for many of his satellite organizations, some (but not all of) which have been tragically silent on Cassidy Graham. Nina Turner, President of Our Revolution and Roseann DeMoro, President of National Nurses have yet to mention a piece of legislation so harmful and so profound and so antithetical to everything Sen. Sanders stands for even once. Meanwhile, they’ll be inviting Bernie Sanders to give what promises to be a sadly discordant rally for Single Payer on Friday the 22nd. Perhaps Sen. Sanders can use the stage to mobilize his satellite organizations?

    It couldn’t wait 9 days?

    I wrote back during a previous Zombie Trumpcare attempt that preserving Obamacare is fundamentally necessary to achieving a single payer system, not only to keep tens of thousands of people alive each year until such a system could be established in 2021 at the earliest, but to preserve President Obama’s achievement of establishing healthcare as a right in this Country. I also wrote that Democrats need to get serious about single payer, regardless of what happens to Obamacare, for when the time comes.

    We all cope with the horrors of the Trump Administration in our own way,  sometimes through wistful magical thinking, or sometimes through malicious magical thinking that, perhaps, if things get bad enough, there will be some grand reckoning.

    Here’s a reality check: if this legislation truly hastened single payer, Sen. Lindsey Graham wouldn’t be voting for it.

    In my opinion, the best way to visualize the Republican Party in the Tea Party and then Trump era is as vandals. Grover Norquist famously wanted to drown the federal government in a bathtub. Paul Ryan dreamed of cutting medicaid doing keg stands. Steve Bannon wants to destroy the Administrative State. They are telling you exactly what they intend to do to the United States.

    No CBO score? Tens of thousands dead? A recession? Maybe midterm losses if things don’t break their way? Who cares?

    It’s far easier to destroy than create.

    Smash healthcare to smithereens, and let the next Democratic Administration waste their precious legislative time picking up the pieces, perhaps while struggling to contain a financial crisis and diplomatic crises, all the while getting blamed, just like last time.

    You just have to make sure they can’t succeed, by preventing states from setting up single payer systems that could rush in to solve the catastrophe. And that’s the foolishness of those who believe Cassidy-Graham would somehow hasten single payer.


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    As a Pinellas County native, I have been waiting 25 years for the announcement heard today: $1.25 billion would be granted for construction of a Florida high speed rail link. Estimated to cost $3.5 billion total, this award covers a substantial portion (35%+). High Speed Rail is finally coming to the rest of America.

    But many have asked: why Florida?


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    Back in January 2010, I wrote a diary offering the political explanation for why Florida was granted $1.25 billion for a High Speed Rail line between Tampa and Orlando, as people understandably questioned what at face value seemed like such an obscure route.

    As part of the ARRA, $8 billion was allocated for rail projects. Amongst legitimate objection, the Administration decided to spread the money across several projects around the country, with no one project receiving all it needed to begin construction. Critics, even on the left, derided this strategy as doomed to fail from resources spread to thin. As will be covered in this diary, the Obama Administration strategy of project seeding was ultimately vindicated, and then some.


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    Barack Obama has failed progressives in every arena. Although it'd be preferable to unseat Obama with a primary challenger in time for 2012, because none has stepped forward (tic toc...), it would be beneficial to the progressive movement in the long term for Obama to lose the Presidency in 2012.

    This way, if not a radicalized Tea Party President (e.g., Romney), then one certainly beholden to such a radicalized Congress will take power, and will surely inflict so much pain and suffering on the American people, they will return power to liberal Democrats in a 2014 wave election. By controlling Congress in 2014, progressives will control the budget, spending, and National dialog. Progressives will then win the Presidency in 2016, led by a "True Progressive" leader to be named later, and with control of both houses of Congress, a new progressive era will dawn.

    And Republicans will wander in the wilderness for 20 years. This time for real.


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    Words matter.

    Growing up Jewish, although not really that religiously so, the Holocaust has always been a part of my life. From the earliest memories of Hebrew School and Sunday School, there was the Holocaust.

    It starts out simple enough when you're a child. There was a bad man named Adolf Hitler who only wanted there to be people with blond hair and blue eyes, and he didn't like Jews.

    When you're older, you see the Allied liberation videos; piles of bodies, starving people, gas chambers. It's all part of a grande story of survival and winning in the end, not unlike the story of Exodus. Everyone's relatives fought in WWII, and now there's the UN and Israel so none of this would ever happen again.

    When you're older still, you learn that it really wasn't about blond hair and blue eyes, and that the holocaust happened because an entire industrialized society went mad. How could an entire civilization, one now remarked as a paragon of progress and liberalism, go mad?

    The easiest explanation would be that the Germans were just bad people. But you learn this wasn't the case. Yes, antisemitism coursed throughout Europe for close to a millennium. But Jews had lived in Germany for hundreds of years too. You think Adolf Hitler seized power amidst the madness. But you learn he was elected democratically, with about a third of the vote. And then comes the hard part; asking why didn't the Jews just leave if it was so bad? And that's where the answers get really frightening and delve into human nature and creeping horrors.

    One of my favorite quotes about the Holocaust was that it wasn't the bad Germans who put us in concentration camps, it was the good Germans.

    And so here we are in 2016, wondering what the good Americans are going to do.

    America just elected a man who ran on a white nationalist platform of racial resentment. Trump hasn't even been inaugurated yet, and there's talk about concentration camps. Camps for Muslims, for now. Although I'm sure it will come back to the Jews and other historically oppressed groups of people too. It always does. And like it even makes a difference to humanity in the end.

    I'm not an alarmist. Well, I like to think I’m not an alarmist. So when I read news of white supremacy and fascism in an American presidential administration, I tend to dismiss it. Most importantly, I want to dismiss it. But when I start making excuses for Trump, they are the same excuses Germans made for the Nazis.

    Donald Trump is just a populist buffoon pandering to the masses who has no intent to follow through on any of what he says...

    Those exact words were said by the establishment when Hitler was elected.

    The media would never allow such developments in America...

    The hallmark of this election was the dissemination of false news and propaganda, overwhelmingly from one side.

    If he goes too far, he will not be reelected...

    Who said there's going to be another election? Well, another fair one. We already saw a foreign power interfere in this election, along with federal law enforcement in gross violation of the Hatch Act and every political norm. How would any opponent to Trump or Trumpism resist criminalization by a Trump FBI and DoJ? We saw a bullshit story about e-mail turn into a month's long scandal. What's to stop the next challenger from being smeared with ever greater nonsense?

    It would be illegal...

    Says who? We've seen fringe legal theories become law because the right says so. Who's going to stop this? The Trump Supreme Court will make the laws.

    And that's what's so disturbing: My rational mind too desperately wants to say the Republicans aren't Nazis. Even the Nazis weren't like Nazis. Lightning doesn't strike twice. But every excuse I make for them is an excuse Germans made for the Nazi party. Until it was too late.

    Donald Trump played with forces to assume power that I have good reason to fear he cannot and will not control. History has taught us ethnic nationalism is a Pandora's Box.

    The one thing we've learned from Trump is that this is no reality TV act. He is a very damaged person. I think even his supporters would agree to some extent. This is a pathologically narcissistic and ill-tempered man completely ill-suited to the office who intends to be our first dictatorial/autocratic President in 224 years.

    So what happens when things start to go wrong here? What happens when the economy begins to turn down? Or more importantly, when there's a terror attack on Trump’s watch? Who's going to be to blame? Not the Donald.

    There needs to be a scapegoat. And in Germany, the times between the Reichstag Fire (February 1933), the Nuremberg Laws (September 1935), Kristallnacht (November 1938), and Genocide were astonishingly short, even by modern standards.

    People want to believe there will be a happy ending here, that if things head south, this will all play out like World War II. Germany, for all the ten's of millions killed, was actually rather limited, militarily, compared to America today. We have a nuclear arsenal. So if things do go bad here, and that's a big if, who's gonna save us? No one.

    Maybe if we're lucky, we'll just slip into 46 years of apartheid like South Africa.


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    The iconic photograph was taken by Mrs. Rachel Posner in 1931, from her window in Kiel, Germany. Rachel Posner was the wife of the town’s Rabbi, Akiva Boruch Posner.  From the Posner’s grandson(1):

    “It was on a Friday afternoon right before Shabbat that this photo was taken. My grandmother realized that this was a historic photo, and she wrote on the back of the photo that ‘their flag wishes to see the death of Judah, but Judah will always survive, and our light will outlast their flag.’ My grandfather, the rabbi of the Kiel community, was making many speeches, both to Jews and Germans. To the Germans he warned that the road they were embarking on was not good for Jews or Germans, and to the Jews he warned that something terrible was brewing, and they would do well to leave Germany. My grandfather fled Germany in 1933, and … and before [he] departed he urged his people to flee Germany while there’s still time.”

    The menorah and the original photograph survived World War II, and both now reside in the Yad Vashem, except during the festival of Hanukah, when they are returned to the descendants of the Posners who live, to this day, in Haifa, Israel.

    Tonight(0) marks the eighth night of the festival of Hanukah 5777 and thus the 85th Anniversary of the photograph. Thanks to the Internet, the photo’s spawned numerous inane “resist Tyranny” memes. But it’s not saying ‘resist’ -- it’s telling us to ‘respond’. 

    On Tuesday, the outstanding Greg Sargent at the Washington Post had an article on Coal Country Voters backing Trump... yet terrified about losing their Obamacare. For many, this loss will be a death sentence. Greg’s was the latest in a series of buyer’s remorse articles. Sarah Kliff noted days before that 82% of Whitley County, KY voted for Trump, despite the uninsured rate there dropping 60%.

    And it wasn’t just the prospect of dying from lack of Obamacare that didn’t deter Trump voters. Michelle Goldberg wonders why did so many Planned Parenthood backers vote for Trump while professing outrage at anyone who plans to cut funding for Planned Parenthood. Defunding Planned Parenthood would put 900,000 women’s lives at risk. And Evan Urquhart talked to the 22% of the LGBTQ voters who didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton, but were nonetheless undeterred by losing their basic human rights when handing the Presidency to Trump by throwing their vote away on Jill Stein.

    To which Markos responded that all these people are getting exactly what they voted for. After all, it’s not like the Republican desire to abolish Obamacare, defund Planned Parenthood, and eliminate equal rights are any secret. Why do you think they took all those pointless votes during the Obama Administration? To tell everyone precisely where they stood on these issues.

    Markos’ diary caused quite a reaction, here as put by TomP, and elsewhere(2):

    x

    This is almost incomprehensibly vile. People are going to die. Real people, who spent their entire lives working in a pitch-black hole.

    — Sarah Jones (@onesarahjones) December 13, 2016

    Yes, people are going to die. The hammer will fall the hardest on those that swung to Trump most fervently. That’s not hyperbole. It’s based on the actual Republican platform and campaign promises of Republican elected officials.

    So how should we respond to these people who voted for death and the death of their neighbors?

    Our Very Serious Betters at the New York Times stunningly insist an apology is in order. Liberals have wronged rural white Christian America by being accepting of all identities, according to Mark Lilla.

    ...the whitelash thesis is convenient because it absolves liberals of not recognizing how their own obsession with diversity has encouraged white, rural, religious Americans to think of themselves as a disadvantaged group whose identity is being threatened or ignored. Such people are not actually reacting against the reality of our diverse America (they tend, after all, to live in homogeneous areas of the country). But they are reacting against the omnipresent rhetoric of identity, which is what they mean by “political correctness.”

    If we could just get back to pretending this is a white Christian country, Mark Lilla could spend his columns letting us know how his sabbatical in France went.

    Rabbi Michael Lerner, in a more forceful op-ed, demanded that liberal stop shaming Trump supporters as racist, sexist, and xenophobic (for supporting racism, sexism, and xenophobia). White people, despite their white privilege, are ground down by unfettered capitalism, and being told the reality that we to this day benefit from slavery (we do) and the genocide of Native Americans (we do) is just too much to bear.

    “The left needs to stop ignoring people’s inner pain and fear. The racism, sexism and xenophobia used by Mr. Trump to advance his candidacy does not reveal an inherent malice in the majority of Americans...”

    It’s all just a misunderstanding.

    Our third gilded DC-centric liberal castigation in as many weeks comes from David Paul Khun, who creates an elaborate straw man argument on the pages of (you guessed it) The New York Times that liberals are blaming bigotry for Clinton’s loss rather than donning the necessary sackcloth and ashes that come from electoral “defeat”.

    “Bluntly put, much of the white working class decided that Mr. Trump could be a jerk. Absent any other champion, they supported the jerk they thought was more on their side — that is, on the issues that most concerned them.”

    What a jerk.

    Trump’s white working class base have suffered economically far less than the rest of America. They are far less likely to be murdered by the police. They are far less likely to encounter an immigrant, let alone be affected by one. From Shawn Hamilton:

    “So, why the rush to defend Trump’s supporters? Why the self-recriminations? Why the willingness to stretch the bounds of legitimacy to accommodate Trump’s antics? Much has been written about Trump’s demagoguery and its similarity to totalitarian leaders of the past, but what about Trump’s opponents? Are many of us borrowing a page from totalitarianism without realizing it?”

    (Spoiler alert: yes)

    And pointing out similarities between Trumpism and early Nazism is not out of bounds on a Godwin Point of Order. Trumpism has:

    Called for the registry of Muslims and possible Internment. Called for mass deportation of a resident minority. Stated an extremely hostile position towards freedom of the press. Called for violence. Attempted a coup against a duly elected government in one of our states. Called for jailing his political opponents (since rescinded).

    Please, stop me if I’ve gone too far here. More from Shawn Hamilton:

    “So, in the last year, Trump has flirted with ... totalitarianism, yet the advice from many is to “give him a chance” ...”

    So how do we respond to the calls for tolerance of the intolerable? The calls for empathy to the unsympathetic? The calls to just give him a chance?

    Not as per our media elite have done, says Shawn Hamilton, quoting Jewish political theorist Hannah Arendt:

    ...Many intellectuals of [the] time [of the rise of the Nazis] were ‘trapped by their own ideas.’...

    The new paradigm of authoritarianism was so disorienting that they simply could not see it for what it was, let alone confront it...

    Many continue to conflate Trumpism and the historic Republican Party, even though the former completely co-opted the latter(4) when Donald Trump was still doing pornos. They don’t see that an authoritarian illiberal regime has succeeded to power over both the (late) Republican Party and now the Democratic Party, in that order. 

    When trapped in the expired paradigm of a two-party constitutional liberal democracy, it only makes sense for the losing party to prostrate before the victors in order to garner their support. It only makes political sense to blame the losing candidate’s campaign. It only makes political sense to believe buyer’s remorse stories, like clever graphs, will shift public opinion and deliver victory. But all these outdated yet perfectly natural political responses do now is aid totalitarianism.

    Instead, respond as per the menorah in the Posners’ picture. From Shawn Hamilton one last time:

    “We should not waste our time or imaginations trying to reconfigure Trumpism to explain why all of the ‘good people’ supported him. It is more important to see it for what it is and resist. Hopefully, they will join us. If not, it will not be necessary to call them names, they will have named themselves.”

    Edit:

    Thank you for the Rec List. Many in the comments have asked, now that the problem is so clearly recognized, what should we do? Beyond cancelling your subscription to the New York Times, the answers aren’t that simple, and will hopefully be the topics of subsequent diaries on tyranny, and their prehistories. In the mean time, I would say, never normalize, compromise, or sympathize with Trumpism.

    _______________________________________

    (0) December 31, 2016.

    (1) Via Rare Historical Photos. The Posners warning saved almost the entire community of Kiel. Only eight of the five hundred Jews perished in the Holocaust, with the rest fleeing before the systematic slaughter began.

    (2) Sarah Jones is the social media editor at the New Republic.

    (3) It is also important to note many differences. If anything, Trumpism most resembles Falangist Spain, which certainly left hundreds of thousands dead.

    (4) 1994, if you ask me.


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    There is a pernicious myth that Democrats only road back to power is through progressive populism, a vision best summarized as the combination of anti-establishment sentiment with (far) left policies, and represented by politicians like Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn.

    This theory admittedly has tremendous appeal:

    Democrats were left historically weak after 2016, so clearly they need to do something different. Donald Trump rode to power on populist sentiment, and populism is winning around the world. Democrats fared particularly poorly among whites who do not have a college education. These voters should be Democratic voters (if they were voting in their own economic interest).

    This theory has been the subject of much attention in the media (to put it mildly), and is usually summarized as the need to appeal to the white working class (Democrats already win the working class handily). It is also usually presented as mutually exclusive with identity politics, a term typically used by the right to mean a focus on women, minority, and LGBTQ issues. Twitter user @coffee_minion assembled a montage, of which I have taken a sampling:

    Links here, here, here, and here.

    Daniel Marans is an excellent reporter and a representative of one who ascribes to this theory of the electorate. Marans has been pushing this progressive populist narrative heavily over at the Huffington Post. Yesterday, Marans penned an article on how Bernie Sanders’ vision is on the Michigan Democratic Primary Ballot:

    x

    Michigan's Democratic gubernatorial primary features Bernie Sanders-style populism against experience. My curtain raiser: https://t.co/NU6Y0c2G2a

    — Daniel Marans (@danielmarans) August 7, 2018

    That vision lost in a Democratic primary last night. El-Sayed always trailed in the polls, often in fourth place behind “Don’t Know” and the obviously fake progressive, despite being handpicked by Sanders, and promising to be the Nation’s first Muslim-American Governor. 

    Michigan was supposed to be the test of the midwest progressive populist theory of the election. After all, a major argument of progressive populist proponents is that Sanders’ victory in the 2016 Democratic Michigan primary (albeit extremely narrow) means that Sanders could have won Michigan in the general. Tonight we can finally dispense with that theory.

    Progressive populism vision was also on the ballot in the Kansas 3rd congressional district last night.

    Bernie Sanders endorsed Brent Welder, a progressive labor attorney, who was running against another progressive, Sharice David, promising to become the first Native American woman and LGBTQ individual elected to Congress. There was much stanning, as the kids say these days, for the Sanders vision to prevail in the Heartland:

    Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez even parachuted in to Witchita to campaign against Sharice Davids, which was the subject of a diary here (and which is, of course, entirely within their right):

    But the Bernie narrative also may have fared poorly in KS03 last night, where it presently is finishing second in a crowded primary field. A narrow victory isn’t proof dispositive.

    The truth is, only 22% of progressive primary candidates have won since 2016. This is far less than one would expect if the progressive populist vision was broadly appealing. There have been many notable high profile progressive losses, such as Tom Perriello losing to the more moderate and ultimate victor for Virgina Governor, Ralph Northam, by about 12%. And Phil Murphy, also the ultimate victor for New Jersey governor, defeating John Wisniewski by almost 2:1.

    x

    Something to remember about the battle inside the Democratic Party: "Bernie candidates" lost the #VAGov and #NJGov primaries, and the winners of those primaries passed a millionaire's tax, automatic voter registration, Medicaid expansion, etc.

    — Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) August 7, 2018

    Andrew Cuomo is truly odious, being called the single greatest obstacle to moving New York in a progressive direction. Despite his unpopularity, the Sanders backed candidate Cynthia Nixon is foundering, trailing by a whopping 36% in the latest poll.

    It is true that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s victory was exciting, but Nate Silver makes an excellent point about reading too much into one primary victory in a 77%/20% Hillary Clinton congressional district with 11.8% turnout.

    x

    Two things can be true:1) The power/energy in the Democratic Party is moving leftward.2) Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's victory was mostly because she was a great candidate, running in the right district at the right time, and probably had relatively little to do with her leftness.

    — Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) July 18, 2018

    So why the intense desire to push this narrative?

    x

    And then there’s Kansas. Prairie populists on the ballot. Thompson and Welder both have Sanders/AOC stamp of approval: https://t.co/fQUAQbvYZp

    — Greg Krieg (@GregJKrieg) August 7, 2018

    x

    New, from Kansas City, Kansas: Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez came to the Great Plains to try to prove progressivism can win anywhere.https://t.co/QAjZ908aES

    — Kevin Robillard (@Robillard) July 21, 2018

    There is nothing wrong with progressive populists running, and even winning, but the real story of this cycle is the victory of women. Perhaps some in the media don’t want to focus on that.


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    Perhaps I am optimistic, in a time when it is very hard to be optimistic, but I do believe that there will be another Democratic President after Trump. I also believe that President will have to clean up the enormous mess left behind; perhaps even one that makes the 2008 Financial Crisis seem small. I also believe that the next President will have a choice whether to save the Elkhart, Indiana’s of the Country.

    What’s so Special About Elkhart, Indiana?

    Elkhart, Indiana is a small City of about 50,000 located on the border with Michigan, 110 miles East of Chicago. It is also the RV Capitol of the United States, with nearly 100 RV manufacturers and 400 RV suppliers. And it was unsurprisingly decimated by the financial crisis, with unemployment at one point reaching 20%.

    President Obama responded by directing nearly $170 million in stimulus funds to the City. And the stimulus had an enormous impact:

    For years now, customers have been gobbling up mobile homes. Sales are robust. Unemployment is low. And Elkhart, Indiana, the center of it all, is booming. On Middlebury Street along the town’s main stretch, manufacturers and warehouses have full parking lots and “we’re hiring!” signs planted in the grass along the road. Restaurants and bars have popped up downtown. New lofts are coming, too, as is a $65 million aquatic center.

    Hindsight

    The logic of Obama’s decision made sense... at the time. On a macro scale, so much of the RV industry being concentrated in such a small geographic area maximized the economic gain of any Keynesian input, for as we saw with the auto bailout, it is not just the manufacturers, but the auto parts suppliers located around the Country, and their raw material suppliers, and so on. Failure to save the RV industry, for Elkhart really was an RV bailout, would have had a devastating ripple effect across the Country, not unlike what would have happened if Mitt Romney had been President. On a more granular scale, the Northern tier of Indiana seemed like promising territory for Democrats. It voted for a Democratic President for the first time since Lyndon B. Johnson, and Obama only narrowly lost the City of Elkhart proper to John McCain.

    But despite the bailout, the City of Elkhart never returned the favor. In fact, they refused to believe any favor had been done in the first place.

    x

    Stimulus recipients in Elkhart had no idea they’d benefited from the stimulus https://t.co/6TkBLf6fFcpic.twitter.com/kKUW1GSd7o

    — Sam Stein (@samstein) June 1, 2016

    In 2016, Hillary Clinton would lose not just Indiana by 20 points, but the auto bailout states of Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin as well.  While these states voted for Obama 4 years prior, perhaps the writing was on the wall as early as 2010 that repayment for saving their livelihood would be met with electoral hostility. The Midwest, after all, was the epicenter of the 2010 Tea Party Rebellion, with Republicans winning the popular vote there 53% to 44%.

    But Back to Elkhart

    We don’t need blinkered interviews with downtrodden Trump voters in Rust Belt diners -- anyone paying attention knows The New York Times (and the serious journalistic outlets that follow their lede) just don’t get it.

    x

    In admitting what the media missed in 2016, @deanbaquet says: "I don't think we quite had a handle on how much anger there was in the country after the financial collapse of 2008… how much of a desire there was for change. How upset people were with the elites." #AxeFiles

    — David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) August 18, 2018

    In fact, economic anxiety has become a punchline for everyone besides Dean Baquet. But while The New York Times was fumbling around in diners, Sam Stein had been conducting some amazing journalism for years by following voter opinions in the same City heavily assisted by the stimulus, from passage to Tea Party to Trump.  What Stein found is that people in a fairly conservative area of the Country turned to Democrats to help them in 2008, were profoundly assisted, and then turned around to pretend that they’d pulled themselves up by their bootstraps all along in 2016.

    “When I say that no serious person in this county gives Barack Obama credit for the recovery, I mean it,” said Holtz, who, nevertheless, gave credit to the Trump tax cuts for the current state of the economy.

    I’m reminded by this quote of the amazing change in Gallup economic confidence the day after the 2016 election.

    The economy, of course, didn’t improve. But Republican perception of it did. Next Time

    The factors that made the RV industry so susceptible to the last economic downturn haven’t gone away. RV’s are still luxury goods, and pretty much the first thing you toss aside in a downturn. Bruce Bartlett depressingly postulated that we are locked in a perpetual cycle where Republicans wreak economic havoc through tax cuts, and Democrats are blamed for deficits. This may be a bit too specific and cynical, and political cycles are perpetual until they aren’t. But the words out of Elkhart are illuminating: these people turned to Democrats to bail them out of the mess Republicans got them in to, only to return to the comfort of the Republican party once they’re safe from harm.

    “What I look at from a personal situation is: how am I personally impacted? How’s my career? How’s my personal security around my area? How’s all of that being impacted?” Miller said, noting that all of his answers to those questions are positive—for now.

    As Stein points out, Obama paid particular attention to Elkhart, Indiana, making it the fist City he visited after assuming office in 2009.  He would return several times.

    But Elkhart, in my opinion, was just too conservative to ever be swayed by the saving of their entire livelihood, especially by a person named Barack Hussein Obama. In 2009, I would have said to the naysayers that these people are our fellow Countrymen and women who deserve assistance regardless of their political ideology.  I would have said Obama was making not just the economically logical but politically astute choice.  I would have said the President has a duty to all Americans. Today I would say let the City of Elkhart die.  

    By the time the next Democratic President takes office, the deficit will be larger. The Country will likely be in a far more perilous state. Democrats will have to make choices about where to spend money. Let the City of Elkhart and the RV Industry be a lesson on where not to spend it.


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    I love the silence of snowfall. Sure, blizzards can howl, but there is something so pleasing about how a heavy snowfall can muffle the sounds of nature.

    Trumpists like to call us snowflakes. For people whose entire political movement is based on white male fragility, the irony of the meme is overwhelming. I guess they use snowflake as a slur because an individual snowflake, while unique, is so insignificant and harmless. I’ll let George Takei respond better than I can.

    x

    The thing about "snowflakes" is this: They are beautiful and unique, but in large numbers become an unstoppable avalanche that will bury you

    — George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) January 21, 2017

    I was walking in just such a snowfall as dusk set in, with not a sound under the blanket of heavy wet snow and featureless grey sky, when the silence was suddenly broken by a large crack ricocheting through the valley, echoing off the hills. Snow was falling heavy, and it had pulled a great tree down. The sound was of a tree trunk, too large to put one’s arms around, snapping under the weight of an army of snowflakes.  A tree that had lived for maybe a hundred years saw its life come to an end in an instant.

    Wood has such a natural beauty too. And it truly is an engineering marvel, as all but the smallest twigs are beyond the bare strength of human beings. Split wood with an axe, and you can see all the fibers created by the vessels, which in turn bundle together to provide such great strength. A relatively weak strike in just the right orientation and at just the right place will cleave those fibers apart. Otherwise, enormous forces of nature are required.

    I understand this is a difficult time for many. It’s not just the confirmation of Kavanaugh. It’s the confirmation of institutional sexism and patriarchy. This is but my own attempt to help.

    It’s easy to miss all the branches and roots of the patriarchy weaving through our society. It’s easy to dismiss it as no different than the thicket of problems facing progress. In my opinion, though, the past few years have never more clearly shown just how dangerous patriarchy is to progress, especially when it is threatened.  The hysterical need to preserve the patriarchy just caused the Senate Majority Leader to ram through not only a judge dismissed as unqualified by Supreme Court Justices of his own party, but one who will be haunted by legal jeopardy and illegitimacy for his entire tenure.

    x

    This stuff is going to keep coming out and it is going to be devastating for the legitimacy of both Kavanaugh and the court. https://t.co/XpYqbkkwce

    — Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) October 5, 2018

    Not that Republicans care.

    Like most on the left, I tend to think of nature as intrinsically beautiful and benign, but the description of Old Man Willow from J.R.R. Tolkein may be more apt for how I liken the patriarchy:

    ...none were more dangerous than the Great Willow; his heart was rotten, but his strength was green; and he was cunning, and a master of winds, and his song and thought ran through the woods on both sides of the river. His grey thirsty spirit drew power out of the earth and spread like fine root-threads in the ground, and invisible twig-fingers in the air, till it had under its dominion nearly all the trees of the Forest from the Hedge to the Downs.

    There are so many different cellulosic fibers winding strength to the patriarchy.

    Sure, there was the response of Republican Senators, male and female, to allegations against Brett Kavanuagh. It’s not that they didn’t believe the allegations. If they didn’t believe them, they wouldn’t have rushed him through and then restricted an FBI investigation. They knew they were true. They just didn’t care. Boys will be boys.

    There’s also the awe shucks patriarchy of George W. Bush, lending a hard candy to Michelle Obama at the funeral of John McCain, while making repeated phone calls to Senators, especially Susan Collins, to help get Kavanuagh confirmed. Kavanaugh’s intent is to reverse the gains of women by restricting their reproductive freedom. George W. Bush knows this.

    The patriarchy poisons our news coverage.

    x

    Imagine if a woman president got on Twitter every morning to complain about people being mean and unfair to her. Weak. Hysterical. Shrill. Bitch. Unfit to lead.

    — The Volatile Mermaid (@OhNoSheTwitnt) September 10, 2018

    The horrific sexism in the coverage of Hillary Clinton was obvious. Less obvious is the way it taints coverage between men who support and oppose the patriarchy, like how Trump’s job numbers are always reported as showing strength, even though they are weaker than Obama’s, which were routinely reported as mediocre and weak. And of course, how some voters are more significant than others.

    x

    How can Trump voters be "the forgotten" if we won't stop staring at them, poking at them, commiserating with them and studying them?

    — Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) April 27, 2017

    Institutional sexism doesn’t grow exclusively on the right. Lost in the story of Kavanaugh’s sexual misconduct was a brief news cycle where journobros (and becky’s) on the progressive left attempted to frame Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s reluctance to reveal the accuser’s name as an acquiescence to Kavanaugh.

    It was to protect the life of the accuser, you dispshit.

    Ryan Grimm is the DC bureau chief at The Intercept. You know, the brogressive news outlet that could get Edward Snowden to Russia but deliberately and purposefully burned Reality Winnersending her to jail for 5 years because they didn’t like her narrative.

    And as we’ve seen women often violently defend the patriarchy as well. Even on the left. This is still an actual article on Vox:

    Laura McGann is the editorial director of Vox.com. She ran Vox's politics and policy coverage during the 2016 election. She previously worked as an editor at Politico, where she oversaw a variety of coverage, including money and politics, Congress and domestic policy.

    There’s a lot holding the patriarchy together. But heavy wet snow is falling. At some point, the forces holding the tree up will be overwhelmed by the forces pulling it down. And in that instant, with a thunderous crack, fibers will be twisted and wrenched apart under forces well beyond any one human being, wood and bark will be explosively splintered, and the tree will come crashing down.

    I wish I knew how much time was left. Some trees can live for thousands of years. Trees can heal as well, callusing over wounds.

    But the sound of massive resistance you heard this past week? The sound of kamikaze desperation to get Kavanaugh confirmed? Kavanaugh’s tanking popularity? That was a massive fracturing within. Something broke that can’t easily be repaired.

    There is something we can do in the mean time: Identify institutional sexism and defense of patriarchy in the media, especially on the center and left, and work to replace those journalists. Oh, and vote.


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    California recently surpassed the United Kingdom (😮!) to become the World’s fifth largest economy, if measured separately from the united states. Since the Great Recession, California has added 2 million jobs and grown its GDP by $700 billion. The state has 12% of the U.S. population, but has contributed 16% of the country's job growth over the last five years. Governor Jerry Brown inherited a budget deficit when he took office in 2011, but the state now has a $9 billion budget surplus. And all the while, Democrats dominate California politics. Democrats hold a super-majority in the state legislature and a near(1) super-majority in the state senate. Both Senators are Democrats, and only 14 of the 53 member congressional delegation are Republicans...for now(2). And under almost single party dominance and economic success, Democrats are doing something staggering: building the Nation’s first entirely new high speed rail network. Yes, this is actually happening.

    History

    The history of California High Speed Rail (CAHSR) dates back to 1996, when the State legislature chartered the CAHSR Authority (CAHSRA) to prepare for a ballot measure in 1998 or 2000. The ballot measure was delayed until 2008 over budgetary concerns by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, when it finally appeared as Proposition 1a on the ballot. Proposition 1a passed 52.6% to 47.4% (Obama won California 61% to 37%). Proposition 1a allocated $9 billion for the construction of CAHSR from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

    The present estimate for the completed system is $77.3 billion.

    The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 included $8 billion for High Speed Rail, according to legend, at the urging of Joe Biden. California initially received $2.343 billion of that $8 billion, plus an additional $0.898 billion in 2010, for a total of $3.241 billion. Because of the time it takes to actually allocate the funds, which is a subject for a separate diary, implementation is highly vulnerable to changing political climates at the state level.

    After the 2010 midterms, states that had initially requested and received (but not yet allocated) funding, rejected those funds at the behest of their newly elected Republican Governors. California received an additional $0.624 billion from Ohio and Wisconsin, plus $0.3 billion of the $2.02 billion Florida’s Governor Rick Scott rejected, for a total of $0.924 billion.

    When you add up all these sources, California has about $13 billion for high speed rail (in 2010 dollars). As you can see, that’s not nearly close to the $77.3 billion (2018 dollars), which will only rise as time goes on due to escalation.

    What is CAHSR?

    417(3) miles of 350(4) km/h High Speed Rail from San Jose to Los Angeles, plus an additional 51 miles of 165 km/h from San Jose to San Francisco, plus an additional approx. 50 miles of 200 km/h trackage from the main route to Merced and Anaheim. This is all to be built in what is called Phase 1, and includes 12 (or 15(5)) stations. Travel time from downtown San Francisco to Los Angeles will be under 2 hours and 40 minutes. CAHSR includes expansion up to approx. 800 miles and 24 stations by connecting Sacramento and San Diego to the system under a Phase 2.

    CAHSR Alignment, Phases 1 and 2. Click on here for a larger map. What’s Being Built Right Now?

    The 13 billion from Proposition 1a and the stimulus is to be used towards building 130 miles of Phase 1 in the Central Valley, from Madera to Bakersfield, to be allocated in four construction packages (CP1 through CP5).

    CAHSR Through the Central Valley, being built now. Click here for a larger image. CP5 is not shown. Total extent is about 130 miles.

    Here’s some more information about the four construction packages:

    CP1: The 32-mile stretch from Avenue 19 in Madera County to East American Avenue in Fresno County. It includes 12 grade separations, 2 viaducts, 1 tunnel, and a major river crossing over the San Joaquin River. Completion is expected in 2019. CP2-3: The 60 miles stretch from the terminus of CP1 at East American Avenue in Fresno to 1 mile north of the Tulare-Kern County line. It includes approximately 36 grade separations, using viaducts, underpasses, and overpasses. CP4: The 22 mile stretch from the terminus of CP2-3 1 mile north of the Tulare/Kern County Line to Poplar Avenue north of Bakersfield. It will include construction of at-grade, retained fill and aerial sections of the high-speed rail alignment and the relocation of four miles of existing Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) tracks. CP5: This package has not yet been bid, but will connect the terminus of CP4 at Poplar Ave. north of Bakersfield to an extent south/east of Bakersfield.

    Construction of these packages was supposed to be complete in 2018. The delays behind commencing CAHSR project are a topic for a separate diary, and include an onslaught of litigation prior to awarding the construction contracts (i.e., delays not due to construction). After the packages were finally awarded, construction was further delayed due to difficulties in the 1,100 property acquisitions needed. Supposedly property acquisition delays are now mostly in the past

    After construction of CP1-5, the Amtrak San Joaquin will begin using the newly constructed HSR tracks. The San Joaquin will be able to significantly reduce travel time by up to an hour from Bakersfield to Sacramento, since on the exclusive HSR tracks, it will be able to run at top speed, something which cannot presently be done on the shared freight line presently used.

    Instead of a series of photograph of all the construction, here is a corny video put out by the Authority:

    x xYouTube Video Why is HSR in California so Special?

    Well, HSR has historically worked the best in places where there is flat terrain and high population density. Even in authoritarian states like China, with no environmental laws and private property rights, HSR has been constructed where it makes the most economic sense. Look at the following maps of China and Europe, two locations with the preponderance of HSR in the World:

    In China, where there theoretically could be no limitations on where HSR is built, note the overlap between population density, flat terrain, and the rail route. Not all rail lines shown are HSR.

    In Europe, there is more construction of HSR in locations where the population density is lower. Also, more terrain has been overcome, but note the highest density in NW France, Germany, and Denmark and the Netherlands.

    Contrast this construction to the United States, which certainly is populous, but not in the flat open spaces. California is no exception.

    The population density of California is much more concentrated and much lower. CAHSR must also cross some challenging terrain.

    In other words, California, like most of the United States is a challenging place to build HSR. But it is.

    Isn’t this going to cost too much?

    No. A common right-wing attack on public works projects in the United states is that they simply cost too much due to unions, eminent domain purchases, and environmental regulations. Always to attack unions, eminent domain laws, and environmental regulations. And it is important to state that in an oppressive authoritarian regime like China that lacks unions, property rights, and environmental regulations, any public works construction job is going to be cheaper, faster, and easier. From Wikipedia:

    “In July 2014 The World Bank reported that the per kilometer cost of California's high-speed rail system was $56 million, more than double the average cost of $17–21 million per km of high speed rail in China and more than the $25–39 million per km average for similar projects in Europe.[77] It should be noted, though, that high real estate prices in California and three mountain ranges to cross contribute to the difference. For example, Construction Package 2-3 in the farmland of the flat Central Valley works out to $11.4 million per km, although this figure does not include electrification or property values, so it's roughly comparable internationally. Furthermore, the proposed High Speed 2 in Great Britain is estimated to be more expensive on a per mile basis than the Californian system”

    In other words, in the Central Valley, even with property acquisition, HSR has managed to get construction costs down to internationally comparable levels.

    Surviving The Attacks

    Ever since Proposition 1A was passed, and the companion funding from the Obama stimulus was awarded to California, CAHSR has been under constant assault. The vanguard of this attack is this unassuming man, Robert Poole. 

    The man whose job it is to kill rail projects.

    Robert Poole works for the Reason Foundation, which is a lobby group for dirty energy masquerading as a think tank, funded by Exxon Mobil and these two guys, who you already know:

    Are you surprised these guys are using their money to kill rail and rapid transit projects around the Country?

    And Robert Poole has a direct conduit to Ralph Vartabedian of the Los Angeles Times, who churns out critical stories on the project using “research” handed to him by Poole essentially on behalf of Charles and David Koch. And he’s been at it for years. A brief search of Vartabedian’s work will show zero articles imposing the same critical analysis on road projects that routinely fail to deliver and suffer huge cost overruns.

    Then of course, there’s the tech lottery winners, who want those billions in public money to fund their perpetual money losing vanity ventures, like a private version of Soviet pre-Venera spaceflight, and hyper loop, to be brought to you by (IRL brilliant guy) Elon Musk:

    x

    White House NEC director Gary Cohn says @elonmusk thinks we "can tunnel the entire United States" and can "beat high speed rail"

    — David Shepardson (@davidshepardson) April 4, 2017

    Spoiler Alert: No he can’t. The electric car is 190 years old and you still can’t turn a profit? How are you going to make hyperloop?

    x

    Asshole Wastes Everyone’s Time https://t.co/n2dQApP42R

    — beloved comedy institution “the pixelated boat” (@pixelatedboat) July 10, 2018

    Hyperloop is the engineering equivalent of telling the Thai Navy SEALs how to rescue the stranded children. There’s a whole separate diary that needs to be written on how people need to stop falling for what are really publicly traded corporation publicity ploys by cosplay engineers.

    Reasons for Optimism

    Democratic wins mean money for public works. I don’t want to make any predictions about November…

    I’m not making any predictions, but...

    But unlike major policy proposals requiring a filibuster-proof Senate majority and vulnerable years to implement, directing funds to the states can be achieved through reconciliation, and is often far less contentious. Taking the Senate would help (first let’s win the House), but Trump is just the kind of President that could be suckered into giving billions to infrastructure.

    To be continued...

    This is being built. Right now.

    __________________________

    (1) Democrats need to win a vacant seat and flip one seat in the Senate to obtain a super-majority there.

    (2) Cook political report at the time of writing this months ago lists 5 of those 14 seats as tossup or lean R.

    (3) Or 437 miles. The final route has not yet been established.

    (4) I give speeds in SI units so they may be better compared to existing European and Asian HSR.

    (5) The number of stations is also not yet established.


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  • 11/08/18--06:33: Grey Lady / White Supremacy
  • Daily Kos user TomPasked a very important question just a few days ago:

    Yeah, what’s up with that indeed?

    TomP is referring to hit pieces in the New York Times on Andrew Gillum and Stacey Abrams that ran late in the 2018 campaign, all too reminiscent of another hit piece that ran in the New York Times late in the 2016 campaign, and that ultimately cost Hillary Clinton the election. With Gillum at least having significantly under-performed the polls(1), I feel there’s a pattern here that needs to be investigated.

    A similar story during October surprise week

    TomP’s point didn’t gone unnoticed by others. Nancy LeTourneau had an excellent article in the Washington Monthly back on October 19 about the New York Time’s peculiar slant on Andrew Gillum.

    x

    The Gray Lady’s story has no direct accusations about Gillum. It simply throws around a bunch of anecdotes that are designed to raise questions. https://t.co/pFxFocWWaH

    — Washington Monthly (@washmonthly) October 19, 2018

    It’s hard to pull a single blockquote from the entire awfulness that was the hit piece on Gillum. The entire article, from start to finish, was a stunningly impotent and ham-handed casting of aspersions.  The authors relied solely on guilt by association and innuendo.  And the best part is, the whole article concluded they could find no evidence of guilt or wrongdoing, but the whole affair has cast clouds and shadows over his campaign(2).

    But there’s more.

    When we look at the things Gillum is accused of, they are things any politician would come in contact with. Is Andrew Gillum ambitious? Yes. Did Andrew Gillum receive donations from wealthy people? Yes. Did Andrew Gillum accept a gift? Yes, and he reported it.  At the time, all this scrutiny directed at Gillum was really hard to square with the walking emoluments clause violation in the White House. From Nancy LeTourneau:

    The whole thing seems to be an attempt to hint at the possibility that Gillum is corrupt. But the best they can come up with is that he’s ambitious and knows how to play the game of politics. Since that is true of pretty much every successful politician, it is hard to avoid the subtle message emanating from this piece that it is not OK for black politicians to posses those qualities.

    It’s really not what clear what qualities are okay for a black politician to possess in the mind of the New York Times, as even the benign wearing of a tan suit and playing golf are also out of the question.

    Now while authors Matt Flegenheimer and Patricia Mazzei were flopping around trying to score a hit on Gillum, their coworker Alan Feuer was busy in the cubicle next door whitewashing Mister McInness as just a hipster provocateur, right after he lead a vicious attack on civilians on the streets of New York back in October.

    x

    Part 8,451,039 in the New York Times’ ongoing series, “How Not To Cover Fascists” pic.twitter.com/3j0Kh8Cef2

    — Ed Overbeek 🗽 (@EdOverbeek) October 17, 2018

    And the Times’ peculiar fixation isn’t limited to Gillum, probably because (thankfully and amazingly) he isn’t the only black candidate running for high office this cycle(3). The New York Times felt the need to waste precious bandwidth on Stacey Abrams burning the traitor’s flag as a freshman in college 26 years ago. By all means, whatever immaterial youthful transgression is scaring Trump’s base at the moment, the New York Times is on that. But let’s not forget to talk civilly about her opponent, who somehow loaned himself $800,000 from a bank, and legitimately stole an election from her:

    x

    Fixed the headline. pic.twitter.com/Jn0siMFb5B

    — Patrick Kowalczyk (@Patmix) October 20, 2018

    All of these articles were published by the same organization within a 72 hour period, showing plain and simple, the New York Times has a white supremacy problem.

    “Now hold on”, you may say, “The New York Times isn’t the Ron Paul Newsletter(4).”

    I like to say that one can best envision white supremacy as an iceberg.  There’s the tip you can see out in public. That’s the Wikipedia definition of white supremacy:

    The belief that white people are superior to those of all other races, especially the black race, and should therefore dominate society.

    That’s the double standard of conduct mirroring our (in)justice system(5); Grown white men are boys being boys, engaging in locker room talk, suffering from afluenzia, and partaking in shenanigans, while black men and women are held to a standard of political conduct nigh impossible to meet.

    But there’s also a lot more lurking beneath the tip of that iceberg. 

    Lurking beneath the surface is the notion that white people are just more legitimately American than people of color. Look no further than the media’s inane obsession with interviewing Trump voters in R+42 districts.  How many interviews did the media conduct with Obama voters in 2009? Elite New York Times reporters may never express notions of racial superiority at Brooklyn loft parties, and all may have close minority acquaintances. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a newsroom culture that allows them to be wooed by the notion that (certain types of) white people are just more American than others.

    That’s still white supremacy, and it seeps into the journalistic coverage of the politicians who represent the interests of those deemed less American(6). A great example is the (economically) anxious manner in which a better economy under Obama used to be discussed by the New York Times, and how that economic coverage repeatedly differed (and again) from the manner in which a worse economy under Trump is touted as strong and healthy(7).

    Thinking emoji...

    A lot of this racial double standard is difficult to disentangle from run-of-the-mill Both Sides atrocity™, since one party represents white supremacy and the other opposes it. False equivalency is a logical fallacy --  white supremacy is a consistent (yet evil) philosophy.

    There was a great diary not too long ago on how “Both sides" is the most dangerous and insidious narrative in today's political climate. I agree with this diary in its entirety. I once stated that both sides journalism greased the skids for our decent into fascism.

    Sometimes false equivalency is used innocuously to provide (false) balance. Sometimes it is used nefariously to conceal a defense of the indefensible, like from the former master of Both Sides™ journalism, Ron Fournier.

    But observe closely how there is no attempt at equivalency, true or false, in the attacks on Gillum and Abrams. That’s the white supremacy distinguishing itself from run of the mill pandering to conservatives to achieve “balance”. Gillums and Abrams are attacked for what the Times would consider laughable indiscretions by a white (male) politician.

    This may sound like a distinction without a difference, but making this distinction, in my opinion, is crucial to correcting journalistic coverage of the Democratic Party.  Journalists are ingrained with the notion from years of training that they must treat both sides fairly. While dim (or nefarious) journalists may slip into false equivalency, journalists are highly defensive and protective of their trade. Criticism of both sides is routinely shrugged off as the yelping of wounded partisans. The New York Times is a left of center publication(8), yes, a self-conscious one(9), but still a left of center publication. That doesn’t mean their newsroom isn’t permeated with a white supremacist mindset. 

    But as we’ve seen since the decent of the Republican Party into madness, accusations of false equivalency against corporate media have zero impact.  They instinctively circle their wagons to protect what they believe is treating both sides fairly, and such criticism will be dismissed as trying to work the referees.  It’s a difficult task to separate false equivalency from racial bias, but if we can refine our criticisms, pointing out racial bias when it occurs may have a greater impact on newsroom coverage.

    _________________________

    (1) Polls that were otherwise very accurate.

    (2) They didn’t use those exact words. This time.

    (3) Andrew Gillum or Stacey Abrams would be only the third black governor elected in the United States. Abrams would be the first female black governor. That’s how amazing 2018 is.

    (4) The connection between Ron Paul’s strain of conservatism, rooted in white nationalism and inherited by his Senator son slash likely Russian asset, was the predecessor to Trumpism.

    (5) Here are the results of a great study showing that black men serve longer prison sentences for the exact same crime as white men to share with the racist Trump supporter in your life.

    (6) Even if those politicians are white or male.

    (7) Not unlike the adjectives white supremacists love to use for Trump himself.

    (8) That doesn’t mean the Times is still too far to the right for the Nation.

    (9) Yes, Dean Baquet has a well-documented neurotic fear of being branded a liberal. Why he needlessly suffers so is beyond me, as the Times’ entire business model consists of... liberals.


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