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Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

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Sunday, August 28, 2016

QOTD: who else?

by digby

Trump personally tweeted out this racist bilgewater to his millions of followers

Even in the 1970s the following was considered straight up racist. In fact, non-racists did not talk this way. Ever.
"Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day. … I think that the guy is lazy. And it’s probably not his fault, because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is, I believe that. It’s not anything they can control." Trump at first denied the remarks, but later said in a 1997 Playboy interview that "the stuff O’Donnell wrote about me is probably true."

There's a long list of his racist statements and actions over the years.  Not that it isn't obvious.  He's a throwback. He sounds like someone who grew up in the 1920s.

"Well, somebody's doing the raping ..."

by digby

A new poll by the Pew Research Center shows that 67 percent of Americans think illegal immigrants are more likely than citizens to commit serious crimes, data that may hearten Donald Trump given the Republican presidential nominee’s tough stance on illegal immigration.

The Republican National Convention in Cleveland earlier this summer featured speeches by parents whose children were killed by illegal immigrants. 

It just stands to reason that all those horrible immigrants are criminals because it's all you ever hear about. It's wrong, of course:

—"Foreign-born individuals exhibit remarkably low levels of involvement in crime across their life course." (Bianca Bersani, University of Massachusetts, 2014. Published in Justice Quarterly.)

— "There’s essentially no correlation between immigrants and violent crime." (Jörg Spenkuch, Northwestern University, 2014. Published by the university.) He did find a small correlation between immigration and property crime, but only a slight one.

— "[I]mmigrants are underrepresented in California prisons compared to their representation in the overall population. In fact, U.S.-born adult men are incarcerated at a rate over two-and-a-half times greater than that of foreign-born men." (Public Policy Institute of California, 2008.)

— "[D]ata from the census and a wide range of other empirical studies show that for every ethnic group without exception, incarceration rates among young men are lowest for immigrants, even those who are the least educated. This holds true especially for the Mexicans, Salvadorans and Guatemalans, who make up the bulk of the undocumented population." (Ruben Rumbaut, University of California, 2008. Published by the Police Foundation.)

— "Analyses of data collected from four Southwest states and the U.S. Census show that the perceived size of the undocumented immigrant population, more so than the actual size of the immigrant population and economic conditions, is positively associated with perceptions of undocumented immigrants as a criminal threat." (Xia Wang, Arizona State University, 2014. Published in Criminology.)
In case you were wondering about the latest on Trump's immigration "policy":
His campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, said immigrants who entered the country illegally would likely first have to return home before applying through legal channels. A so-called touchback provision was floated during the 2007 Senate immigration reform debate.

“We need to have a fair and humane way of addressing the fact that 11 million — or we don’t even know the number — 11 million, or so it’s estimated, illegal immigrants live among us,” Conway told Chris Wallace, the host of “Fox News Sunday.”

“What he has said is no legalization and no amnesty,” she said of Trump’s immigration stance. “He also said this week, Chris, if you go back to your home country, and if you’d like to come back to the United States as an immigrant, you need to apply through the many different channels that allow people to apply for citizenship or entry into the United States legally.”

Here's a translation: "Yes Trump wants to deport millions of people, including children, but we know it's controversial so we're speaking gobbldygook in order to allow some voters to lie to themselves about what they're voting for."

Pence and trade and Trump's national pride

by digby

So I watched a program on CNN this week-end about the Carrier plant leaving Indiana for Mexico and it was very sad. More than a thousand people lost their jobs and they all seem to think they will not ever find another one like it. Trump has talked a lot about this on the trail, blaming NAFTA and Obama and Clinton for the job losses and declaring that he would immediately hit any manufacturer with huge tariffs who tried to do that which would cow them into staying in the future. The workers in the story all believed him.

Somebody really ought to ask Trump and his running mate about this (Which they probably will since it was flagged for the media by the DNC):

As Donald Trump’s running mate, Gov. Mike Pence is campaigning for a man who has promised to penalize companies that ship jobs overseas.

But since Pence became governor in 2013, the state has awarded millions of dollars in economic development incentives to companies that have moved production to foreign countries such as Mexico and China. Those production shifts have cost thousands of Hoosiers their jobs during Pence’s time in office.

An IndyStar analysis found that the Indiana Economic Development Corporation — which Pence leads — has approved $24 million in incentives to 10 companies that sent work to foreign countries. Of those incentives, nearly $8.7 million has been paid out so far.

During that same period, those companies terminated or announced layoffs of more than 3,800 Hoosier workers while shifting production to other countries, where labor tends to be far less expensive.

The state has clawed back or put a hold on some or all of the incentives in four of those cases, returning $746,000 in taxpayer subsidies. But in the other six cases, the companies faced no consequences.

The primary reason: The job creation and retention requirements in the state’s incentive agreements are usually narrowly tailored to a single facility, leaving workers at other sites owned by the same company vulnerable to offshoring.

Take, for example, handbag maker Vera Bradley. The company was approved in December 2014 for a $1.75 million, 10-year tax break to assist with a $26.6 million expansion of its headquarters and distribution center in Roanoke, near Fort Wayne. In exchange, the company agreed to retain 567 employees and add 128 jobs by the end of 2017.

But the following year, the company closed its New Haven design center and moved production to factories in Asia to save money. The factory’s 250 employees, who worked just 15 miles from the Roanoke headquarters, lost their jobs.

Vera Bradley has claimed about $118,000 in tax credits so far and remains in compliance with its state incentive agreement, said Abby Gras, an IEDC spokeswoman, in an email. The company now employs slightly more than 600 workers in Roanoke, a spokeswoman for the company said. That’s a net loss of more than 200 jobs across the company’s Fort Wayne area operations.

Pence, who has been campaigning for Trump across the country since accepting the Republican vice presidential nomination in July, did not respond to interview requests for this story left with his office and campaign staff.

But his commerce secretary, Victor Smith, sent a statement to IndyStar defending the state’s economic development record and noting that 150,000 jobs have been added since Pence took office.

Carrier was among those companies that received incentive money although Pence got the company to pay it back once the video of the layoff being announced (which got Trump all excited) went viral. But there are a bunch of other companies in Indiana which have done the same and pocketed the cash.

The point is that this problem is not confined to the trade deals or to any politician. It's much bigger than that. It's easy to take a shot at government for failing to protect workers, and there's plenty of blame there, but we are dealing with a complicated problem with a lot of moving parts (so to speak...)

Meanwhile, the Republicans are pulling the wool over people's eyes as usual:

Pence has said in the past he supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Trump opposes. More recently, Pence says he would support renegotiating trade agreements with Trump in the White House because he believes Trump could negotiate better deals.

Political observers say Pence’s actions as governor raise new questions about the true extent of his support for Trump’s trade policies.

“To the extent that there is any daylight between them, one has to wonder what Mike Pence’s true thoughts are,” said Robert Dion, a political scientist at the University of Evansville. “In the event they disagree, you have to wonder, has Mike Pence changed his position or is he simply doing what a VP nominee must do to be part of a national ticket? That’s the million dollar question.”

The seemingly different approaches to companies that offshore jobs are also a study in what kind of constituency each candidate appeals to, Dion said.

“The real thing you’re getting at is the gulf between the chamber of commerce Republican crowd and the populist appeal of Trump,” Dion said. “What Trump is speaking to is that populist anger and frustration. I think what the evidence shows is that Mike Pence — like a lot of Republican governors and some Democrats have done — has worked with the chamber of commerce and business leaders. That’s where the gulf is at.”

Oddly, the one area in which Trump is sincere is his belief that the rest of the world is laughing at Americans because of our allegedly terrible trade deals. But keep in mind that his solution is to stick huge tariffs on American companies that manufacture overseas and drive wages down in the US to keep prices low so they can "compete." It's a huge mistake to believe this has something to do with the plight of the American worker. This has to do with "national pride" which isn't the same thing at all.

Friends, Romans, Alt-right countrymen ...

by digby

In the New York Times today there's a really fascinating article about Trump's rhetoric. It compares him to Shakespeare's Caesar and Mark Antony even --- his appeals to the common man, "I am your voice" etc, etc. Great stuff.

But here's where it gets interesting:
The quality to which every anti-rhetorician aspires is authenticity. But there is a big difference between proclaiming your authenticity and actually being true to yourself and the facts. So let me use a different term: authenticism, for the philosophical and rhetorical strategy of emphasizing the “authentic” above all.

Modern authenticism began as a reaction to the Enlightenment program to recast language to conform to the notion of Reason. Immanuel Kant’s friend Johann Georg Hamann was one of the first to make the case that, if you take ideas and words out of their behavioral and cultural context, they lose meaning and relevance. A purely rationalist language would no longer be able to express community or faith. Hamann’s contemporary, the philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder, made the critical link between language, culture and nationhood, and soon authenticity of language became associated with another product of Enlightenment thought: nationalism.

These ideas entered European thought through a chain of influence that stretched from Hegel to Kierkegaard to Nietzsche. By the early 20th century, Martin Heidegger was distinguishing not just between authentic and inauthentic modes of being, but between authentic and inauthentic language.
“Once you heard the voice of a man, and that voice knocked at your hearts, it wakened you, and you followed that voice.” That was Adolf Hitler, the man whom Heidegger would praise for helping the German people rediscover their authentic essence, addressing government and Nazi party leaders in September 1936. According to Hitler, the miraculous appearance of the “voice” — by which he meant the profound bond between himself and his audience that let him express their deepest feelings — allowed ordinary men and women, who were “wavering, discouraged, fearful,” to unite as a Volk, or national community. It was at once a political and a personal “voice” that, thanks to the invention of radio, could reach out not just to audiences at political rallies, but into any living room.

Authenticism was banished to the fringes of politics after World War II and the defeat of European fascism. Technocratic policy-making delivered relative prosperity and security for the majority, and many voters found the rationalist rhetoric of mainstream politicians credible. Authenticism does not even rate a mention in George Orwell’s landmark 1946 essay “Politics and the English Language.” But the uncertainty and division that have followed the global crash, mass migration and the West’s unhappy wars in the Middle East have given it a new opportunity. 
Today’s authenticists come in many different guises, from pure anti-politicians like Mr. Trump and Italy’s Beppe Grillo to mainstream mavericks as diverse as Britain’s Boris Johnson and Ted Cruz. None of them are Hitlerian in intent, but nationalism typically looms large (“Make America Great Again!”), as does the explicit or implicit contrast between the chosen community and a dangerous or unacceptable “other,” which in 2016 almost always means elites and foreign immigrants.
The "blue-collar billionaire" schtick sounds ridiculous to a lot of us (most of us I hope) but it does have resonance with millions. And as I've been writing, Trump is not just a garden variety racist demagogue in the mode of George Wallace. His nationalism isn't isolationist --- it's aggressive militarism. He doesn't care about continuing the post-war security consensus to be sure. Alliances are fine as long as they pay protection and he feels like they "deserve" it.  He's got some other ideas. He will make America great again by making the world "respect" us again. Trump is all abut dominance. And anyone who doesn't see what he means by that is being naive.

One little side-note about this piece is his observation that Trump's "authenticism" is especially potent in comparison to the "cerebral, calculating" Clinton, a perfect example of the "technocratic, policy-making" that's going out of fashion.

Of course, it must be noted, as Todd Gitlin does here:

It's also interesting that the NY Times piece left out President Obama, widely considered to be one of America's great presidential orators who is also very cerebral and possibly even somewhat calculating (although that's a gender freighted term) and for similar reasons that Clinton might be --- Obama cannot be too emotional because of the racist assumptions about angry black men. Similarly, Clinton cannot be too emotional because of the sexist assumptions about hysterical women. These are not necessarily determining factors, but they do exist, so the analysis is a little bit two-dimensional. Still, fascinating stuff.

Mr Authentic

by digby


Race to the bottom

by digby

So, this happened:

That seems to be the gelling CW. By calling attention to Trump's revolting racist, sexist, anti-semitic, xenophobic campaign officials, advisers and influences Hillary Clinton is racing him to the bottom. Both sides do it dontcha know?

Thank goodness for the cartoonists:


Politics and Reality Radio: Rise of the Alt-Right | David Zirin on Rio After the Games | Quirky Stories with Wonkette

with Joshua Holland

This week, we'll talk about Trump and the rise of the quasi-fascistic "alt-right" with Heidi Beirich from the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Then we'll be joined by The Nation's radical sports editor, Dave Zirin, to look at the massive land-grab underway in the wake of the Olympic games in Rio.

Finally, we'll look at some of the nuttier stories in American politics this week with Rebecca Schoenkopf, the proprietrix of Wonkette.


Travis: "Hit Me Baby One More Time"

Jamie Cullum: "Don't Stop the Music"

Lissie: "Bad Romance"

Pink Floyd: "Dogs"


It is their nature

by Tom Sullivan

The drive to provide healthcare to all Americans, the effort that became Obamacare, had at its core an impulse to put people over profits. Finally. When the negotiations in Congress excluded a public option for consumers, that impulse failed. Congress and the president turned over the healthcare hen house to the for-profit foxes and made hens pay for the privilege.

Jon Schwarz put it succinctly at The Intercept:

There have been dozens if not hundreds of news articles about Aetna leaving the Affordable Health Care Act’s online marketplaces in eleven states, and whether this signals serious problems for Obamacare down the road.

But none of them have truly explained that what’s happening with Aetna is the consequence of a flaw built into Obamacare from the start: It permits insurance companies to make a profit on the basic healthcare package Americans are now legally required to purchase.
But Aetna did not simply abandon the online marketplaces. It was making good on a threat to kill them if regulators refused to acquiesce on its plans to merge with Humana. Bloomberg:
Aetna Inc. warned U.S. officials more than a month ago that it would pull out of Obamacare’s government-run markets for health insurance if antitrust officials attempted to block its $37 billion merger with Humana Inc.

In a July 5 letter to the Justice Department from Chief Executive Officer Mark Bertolini, Aetna said that challenging the merger “would have a negative financial impact on Aetna and would impair Aetna’s ability to continue its support” of plans sold under the Affordable Care Act. That would leave the insurer “with no choice but to take actions to steward its financial health.”

On July 21, the Justice Department filed its suit to block the deal, as well as Anthem Inc.’s acquisition of Cigna Corp. On Monday, Aetna announced a broad pull-back from Obamacare’s exchanges, citing larger-than-expected losses on its individual plans this year.
Our first impulse is to blame the evil bastards at Aetna, but that's like blaming the shark for biting. Putting profits over people is what corporations do. As the scorpion told the dying frog, it is their nature. The failure is in not taking that nature out of the equation.

Congressman Raul Grijalva of Arizona last week appeared in Time magazine to decry that outcome and to call again for a public option:
Since 2009, the arguments that I and others made have played out in real life. We said then that we needed a public option to create competition in the market place, help control cost and provide choice to consumers. The same is true today but now there is an even greater case for a public option—the need for added stability. With an assured public option, regulators will not be left to bow to demands of the private insurers like Aetna’s merger threat. It would also free consumers from the fear of backsliding to our old system that forced uninsured people to hunt for affordable coverage on their own. On top of that, the Congressional Budget Office continues to tout billions of dollars in savings from a public option as administrative cost and premiums are estimated to be lower. And perhaps most important, consumers will not be forced to buy private insurance.
Hullabaloo alum David Atkins finds irony in the situation we face a few years into this national experiment:
Many centrists ridiculed the progressive movement for its strident insistence on a public option in the first version of Obamacare, declaring that it wouldn’t be necessary, that it would make the Affordable Care Act too partisan, that insurance companies would work to kill the exchanges if it were enacted, etc. But on all counts progressives were right: it is necessary, the Affordable Care Act couldn’t possibly be more partisan than it already is, and insurance companies are already working to kill the exchanges because there just isn’t enough profit there for them.
Former Clinton labor secretary Robert Reich writes that the problem isn't Obamacare itself but "lies in the structure of private markets for health insurance — which creates powerful incentives to avoid sick people and attract healthy ones." He writes:
Insurers say they’re consolidating in order to reap economies of scale. But there’s little evidence that large size generates cost savings.

In reality, they’re becoming huge to get more bargaining leverage over everyone they do business with — hospitals, doctors, employers, the government and consumers. That way they make even bigger profits.

But these bigger profits come at the expense of hospitals, doctors, employers, the government and, ultimately, taxpayers and consumers.
Left unperturbed, The Market will cut costs and improve efficiency, say its true believers. The implied promise is always that efficiency for them means savings for you. Let's not delude ourselves that these behemoths ever had any intention of passing along their savings to consumers. Squeezing the maximum profit out of each consumer is their nature. If the Gipper had been a progressive, he might instead have frightened voters with, "I'm from the Company and I'm here to help you." And he would have been more honest.

When it comes to people's health, it's long past time to stop making deals with scorpions.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Saturday Night at the Movies

Dark places: Tunnel ***½ and Disorder **

By Dennis Hartley

Herbie Cook: The old man sure looked bad. Did you see his face?

Charles Tatum [thoughtfully]: Yeah.

Herbie Cook: Like the faces of those folks you see outside a coal mine with maybe 84 men trapped inside.
Charles Tatum: One man’s better than 84. Didn’t they teach you that?
Herbie Cook: Teach me what?

Charles Tatum: Human interest. You pick up the paper. You read about 84 men, or 284, or a million men, like in a Chinese famine. You read it, but it doesn’t stay with you. One man’s different, you want to know all about him. That’s human interest.
-from Ace in the Hole (1951), screenplay by Billy Wilder, Lesser Samuels, and Walter Newman.

There’s a lot of that “human interest” in Kim Seong-hun’s Tunnel, a (no pun intended) cracking good disaster thriller from South Korea. Now, I should make it clear that this is not a Hollywood-style disaster thriller, a la Roland Emmerich. That said, it does have thrills, and spectacle, but not at the expense of its humanity. This, combined with emphasis on characterization, makes it the antithesis of formulaic big-budget disaster flicks that are typically agog with CGI yet bereft of IQ.

Said to be “based on true events” (which puzzlingly stumps Mr. Google) the story centers on harried Everyman Jung-soo (Ha Jung-woo). Commuting home from his car salesman gig one fine sunny day, Jung-soo pulls into a service station. He asks for $30 worth of gas, but the elderly, hearing-impaired attendant gives him a nearly $100 fill-up instead. Jung-soo is a bit chagrinned, but pays his bill and starts to pull away. The attendant runs after him and, by way of apology, insists that he accept two bottles of water. Jung-soo rolls his eyes, but acknowledges the gesture, tossing the bottles on the seat next to the boxed birthday cake he’s bringing home to his daughter.

And yes, it is the director’s intent that we make a special note of the bottled water, and the cake. As I am sure he wishes us to note the irony of the signage over the tunnel Jung-soo is headed for:

Hado Tunnel: Happy and Safe National Construction

As you may surmise (considering you know the premise of the film), Jung-soo’s passage through the Hado Tunnel on this particular fine sunny day will prove to be neither “happy”…nor “safe”.

To be honest, once the inevitable occurred (a harrowing sequence), I began to have doubts whether I could commit to the remaining 2 hours of the film; because I’m claustrophobic, and any story that involves physical entrapment freaks me out (as much as I admire Danny Boyle, I’ve yet to screw up the courage to sit through his 2010 thriller 127 Hours). And since that fear also precipitates white-knuckled parking in garages with low ceilings, driving across lower decks of double-decker bridges, and (wait for it) driving through tunnels…I was all set to just call it a day.

But thanks to Seong-hun’s substantive writing and direction and Jung-woo’s seriocomic performance (recalling Matt Damon’s turn in The Martian), I was absorbed enough by the story to allay my visceral concerns. And, akin to Wilder’s Ace in the Hole, Seong-hun uses the “big carnival” allusions of the mise-en-scene outside the tunnel to commentate on how members of the media and the political establishment share an alchemist’s knack for turning calamity into capital.

In my 2009 review of the war drama Waltz With Bashir, I referred to an observation by the late great George Carlin, wherein he analyzes the etymology of the phrase “post-traumatic stress syndrome” and traces it back to WWI (when it was called “shell shock”). To which I appended:
A rose by any other name. Whether you want to call it ‘shellshock’, ‘battle fatigue’, ‘operational exhaustion’ or ‘PTSD’, there’s one thing for certain: unless you are a complete sociopath and really DO love the smell of napalm in the morning…war will fuck you up.
True that. And while Carlin was referring to America’s war veterans through the decades, PTSD knows no borders. Consider Vincent (Matthias Schoenaerts) a French Special Forces Afghan War vet. He is the central character in Disorder, a new psychological thriller from director Alice Winocour (who also co-wrote with Jean-Stephane Bron, Robin Campillo, and Vincent Poymiro).

Insular, taciturn, and more than a little twitchy, Vincent can’t quite get a handle on things since getting back to the world. So much so, in fact, that he actually looks forward to being re-deployed for another tour of combat duty. Due to his condition, perhaps he can only find a sense of order in the chaos of war. His friend and fellow vet Denis (Paul Hami) is also his co-worker at a private security firm; Denis always keeps one concerned eye on him whenever they’re on an assignment.

Indeed, there does seem to be something a bit “off” about Vincent’s behavior one night when he and Denis are providing security for a large soiree taking place at the estate of a wealthy Lebanese businessman. Vincent seems more bent on surveilling the client’s activities; his interest is particularly piqued by an apparent heated exchange between the businessman and a couple of his shadier-looking guests, sequestered in a private office well out of earshot from the festivities.

When Vincent is tasked to provide security for the client’s wife (Diane Kruger) and young son while he is out of town on a business trip, Vincent’s inherent paranoia really comes to the fore (while wariness and diligence is something you look for in a bodyguard, any behavior bordering on delusional should raise a red flag). Another red flag: Vincent takes a sudden, uncharacteristic interest in the wife, but it’s hard to read whether his intentions are devious or protective in nature.

So is Vincent the possible threat to the safety and well-being of the clients’ wife and child? Or was he actually on to something the night of the party, with his suspicions that his client’s luxurious lifestyle hinges on potentially dangerous partnerships? Since we know going in that Vincent isn’t quite all there, due to his PTSD condition, the conundrum is all the more unnerving.

Unfortunately, after building up this considerable tension and intrigue (the first act hints at something brewing in the vein of Ridley Scott’s Someone To Watch Over Me), the director doesn’t seem to quite know what to with it; the narrative fizzles, and the by the crucial third act (a tepid knockoff of Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs), the film hits the ground with a resounding thud.

Schoenaerts and Kruger are both fine actors (and easy on the eye), but they can only do much with the uninspired script they’re working with. The film does sport some nice atmospheric work by cinematographer Georges Lechaptois and a unique (and appropriately unsettling) soundtrack by Mark Levy, but alas, it still can’t make up for a thriller that is curiously devoid of any…thrills.

More reviews at Den of Cinema

--Dennis Hartley

The alt-right bites its own tail

by digby

A must-read today from Sarah Posner on Brietbart and the alt-right. It concludes with this chilling observation:
The reception he and another conservative Jewish Breitbart critic, Bethany Mandel, have experienced in the Bannonosphere is revealing: In May, when Shapiro, who became editor-in-chief of the Daily Wire after leaving Breitbart, tweeted about the birth of his second child, he received a torrent of anti-Semitic tweets. "Into the gas chamber with all 4 of you," one read. Another tweet depicted his family as lampshades. Mandel says she has been harassed on Twitter for months, "called a 'slimy Jewess' and told that I 'deserve the oven.'"

After Shapiro called out the anti-Semitism, Breitbart News published (under the byline of Pizza Party Ben) a post ridiculing Shapiro for "playing the victim on Twitter and throwing around allegations of anti-Semitism and racism, just like the people he used to mock."

Back at the RNC, Bannon dismissed Shapiro as a "whiner…I don't think that the alt-right is anti-Semitic at all," he told me. "Are there anti-Semitic people involved in the alt-right? Absolutely. Are there racist people involved in the alt-right? Absolutely. But I don't believe that the movement overall is anti-Semitic."

In any case, Breitbart's conservative dissenters are fearful of what the Trump-Bannon alliance might bring. As Mandel puts it, "There's no gray area here: Bannon is a bad guy. And he now has control of a major campaign for president."
What these people have had to put up with is awful. One hopes they will re-think some of their own behavior in light of it. Crude, obnoxious intolerance has been part of the online right as long as I've been online. That they're turning on each other is unsurprising. But it's the sort of thing that should wake a few people up to the bigger picture.

The Pinocchio inversion

by digby

In light of new polling showing that millennials think even Donald Trump is more honest than Hillary Clinton I thought I'd just run this again:

Lies and damn lies and Pinocchios 

Poor Adam. Duped by a liar. Never again.

There’s never been a presidential candidate like Donald Trump — 
--- someone so cavalier about the facts and so unwilling to ever admit error, even in the face of overwhelming evidence. As of August 9, about 65 percent (39 of 61) of our rulings of his statements turned out to be Four Pinocchios, our worst rating. By contrast, most politicians tend to earn Four Pinocchios 10 to 20 percent of the time. (Moreover, most of the remaining ratings for Trump are Three Pinocchios.)
Politifact has over 40 "pants-on-fire" total lies listed. Here's Trump's scorecard:

Compare that to Clinton's 

Here's President Obama's:

And yet:

As you can see Clinton and Obama are rated similarly and are probably fairly typical. Trump is not. And yet Clinton rates as more dishonest than Trump and twice as dishonest as Obama.

The Washington Post attempted to figure this out and they didn't get very far:

Clinton’s deceptions tend to be defensive — her reputation is under attack and she’s trying to save face. As determined by PolitiFact, a political fact-checking service, her false statements often come in response to scandals and allegations against her. For instance, with regard to her private email server, she has said she “never received nor sent any material that was marked as classified” and that the server “was allowed” at the time. Both proved false. 
Trump’s deceptions, by contrast, are more on the offensive, more self-promotional. He exaggerates his successes in the business world. He called his book "The Art of the Deal" the “best-selling business book of all time.” It’s not, according to PolitiFact.
 And he creates allegations against his political opponents and minority groups out of thin air, making himself appear better by comparison. Among his false statements, according to PolitiFact: Hillary Clinton “invented ISIS,” even though the group predates Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. The United States is allowing “tens of thousands” of “vicious, violent” Muslim terrorists into the country every year. This attempt to justify his ban on Muslim immigration was also found false.
That distinction between Clinton and Trump — offensive vs. defensive — has major implications for whether people view their lies as “legitimate” and morally acceptable, according to Matthew Gingo, a psychology professor at Wheaton College. 
“Me lying to get myself out of trouble is not nearly as bad as me lying to get someone else in trouble,” Gingo said. “People view defense as more legitimate, such as physical self-defense.” 
This has long been the consensus of psychological research. A 2007 study presented scenarios where people lied with varying motivations and interviewed people about how “acceptable” each lie was. They found self-protective lies (think Clinton) to be more acceptable than self-promotional lies (think Trump on his business record), which are more acceptable than self-promotional lies that harm others (think Donald Trump on Mexicans). A similar 1997 study of women found the same result, as did a 1986 study. 
So Clinton’s omissions of fact, research tells us, should be perceived better than Trump’s flagrant scapegoating. Especially considering this disparity: PolitiFact has evaluated 203 of Trump's statements and 226 of Clinton's. It rated just fewer than a third of Clinton's as "mostly false" or worse but rated 71 percent of Trump's the same way.
They're not perceived as better, however. The Post concludes that it's Clinton's desire to be honest that makes people think she isn't. Or something. They do note that experts in this across the board say that trump is completely off the charts and they all seem to wonder why it is that Clinton has such high numbers even when compared to a pathological liar.

I think Rebecca Traister has the right answer in her latest piece which delves into this growing theme of Clinton stealing the election:
It’s true that the major hit on Hillary Clinton has long been that she is untrustworthy, which makes it a short step to suggesting that her electoral victories are fraudulent. Surely some of this stems from a reputation and history particular to her. But it seems unlikely that Clinton is, by political standards, uniquely dishonest; former New York Times editor Jill Abramson has written of how her many journalistic investigations into Clintonian malfeasance revealed that Clinton was “fundamentally honest and trustworthy.” The fact that “she can be so seamlessly rendered synonymous with all things untrue,” says Tillet, is at least in part because “religious narratives tell us that women are inherently untrustworthy … The idea of woman as a liar and as evil goes back to the Bible.”
This is some deep primal stuff and non-GOP voters of all ages should take a gut check on this Clinton meme and ask themselves some hard questions. There's something wrong with it and it's not that Hillary Clinton is unusually dishonest or untrustworthy. I expect right wingers to say that. They have primitive views of women. Liberals and progressives should know better. Her policies and her record are all fair game and should be criticized. But this rampant "she's a liar" character smear is something else altogether.

Little pitchers have big ears

by digby

I've written about the stories of toxic Trumpism among schoolchildren before. This piece in the Washington Post adds to the genre:
Trump’s vitriol is making it off the campaign trail and into the lingua franca of children at an alarming rate. Just watch coverage from Trump rallies to hear the next phrases kids will be slinging at school.

“Build the wall!” That was the chant at a high school basketball game in Indiana last week,

“Get ’em out!” is what Trump screams at rallies when he sees Black Lives Matter and other protesters, even silent ones. This is not far off from what some third-graders allegedly said to two brown-skinned classmates in their Northern Virginia classroom. The mother of one of the children, Evelyn Momplaisir, posted an account on Facebook:

“I just got a call from my son’s teacher giving me a heads up that two of his classmates decided to point out the ‘immigrants’ in the class who would be sent ‘home’ when Trump becomes president. They singled him out and were pointing and laughing at him as one who would have to leave because of the color of his skin. In third grade . . . in Fairfax County . . . in 2016!”

Fairfax County school officials confirmed the account. “The teacher has spoken with the students, and communicated with parents of the class, regarding appropriate classroom decorum,” said John Torre, a spokesman for the school system. “FCPS works to create an environment that is conducive to learning and where everyone is treated with respect.”
“We’ll be banned,” predicted Daisy Scouts when they talked to me before the Virginia primary about their futures. Not “I want to be a rocket scientist” or “I want to be a doctor” or “I want to be a teacher.” They are afraid they will all be rounded up and deported. They are all Muslim.

The televised Trump rallies are becoming like “Lord of the Flies” set pieces. Nightly, televised “Hunger Games.” With each new video, we have a new group of angry white people pointing, yelling and chanting at brown-skinned people being escorted out of a crowd, with the booming Trump refrain of “Get ’em out.”

It’s like all of those horrible school-integration photos of screaming crowds surrounding black students in the 1960s are being reenacted.

We see decorated war veterans shoving and screaming at young, black college students. We see peaceful protesters being pushed and pinballed through the yelling masses.

[Donald Trump on protester: ‘I’d like to punch him in the face’]

You think kids aren’t going to play this out in the schoolyard?

Even if they’re not taking their phrases directly from Trump’s playbook, his orchestrated free-for-all has unleashed a growing atmosphere of hate.

I don’t know whether Trump was the inspiration for the kids on an all-white Annapolis-area hockey team who singled out the black players on my son’s team, calling them the N-word and harassing them throughout the game. But they heard those words somewhere. They learned that cruelty somewhere. And I don’t think it’s a stretch to blame their behavior on the nation’s growing tolerance of open displays of bigotry.

(Our kids beat them, by the way. And the player who said the worst things and the coach who did nothing about it were disciplined by the hockey association.)

And I don’t know that the kids at the University of Southern California who threw eggs and hurled racial epithets at a student from Hong Kong over the weekend were acting directly on Trump’s orders. But there’s an anything-goes recklessness in the air that is certainly emboldening them.

After all, coded racism has now been rebranded as “telling it like it is,” thanks to Trump and the people who think he will be the strong, decisive character they have watched on reality TV if they elect him.
In New Orleans last week, Trump was frustrated that guards didn’t remove the black protesters who were peacefully standing among the crowd at his rally quickly enough.

“It’s taking a long time, I can’t believe it,” he said. “See, in the old days, it wouldn’t take so long. We’re living in a different world.”
She goes on to claim that in the world in which we used to live people didn't do these things. But that's not true. They did, in my own lifetime. Trump is remembering his own youth when white supremacy was just taken for granted and government authority worked to protect it.

I don't think you can put the equality genie back in the bottle but it's not entirely surprising that someone would come along and try. Women and minorities who've tried to break these boundaries over the years know very well how angry it makes certain people when their status is threatened. They don't share. And it's very sad that little kids are getting that message. It's a setback for sure.


He's so happy

by digby

After a tsunami of criticism he tweeted some condolences.

He's seriously disturbed.

A coming Ted and Rick death match?

by digby

I wrote about the growing feud between Ted Cruz and Rick Perry and the Donald Trump connection for Salon this morning:

One of the most dramatic early moments during the primaries came from former Texas Gov. Rick Perry when he delivered a shocking, blistering speech about Donald Trump. It was only about a month into the race and the candidacy of Trump didn’t seem like a particular threat. But Trump was already hitting the immigration issue very hard and people were wondering how much damage he was going to do to the GOP.

Still fighting his battered image from 2008 when he blundered badly during a debate, Perry was polling only in the low single digits when he decided to confront Trump in July 2015. Until then, there had been a couple of tepid gestures from Sen. Lindsay Graham, who called Trump a “wrecking ball,” and former Sen. Rick Santorum, who mildly criticized “The Apprentice” star for his “verbiage.” And this was because of the dynamic that ended up making it possible for Trump to go all the way, namely that all the candidates assumed they needed to go easy on him because they hoped to inherit his voters when his ridiculous campaign inevitably blew up.

Perry decided to take a chance and separate himself from the pack by issuing a statement criticizing Trump’s border nonsense. He said, in part: “I have a message for my fellow Republicans and the independents who will be voting in the primary process: What Mr. Trump is offering is not conservatism, it is Trumpism – a toxic mix of demagoguery and nonsense.”

Trump was not amused and tweeted a tart response: “GovernorPerry failed on the border. He should be forced to take an IQ test before being allowed to enter the GOP debate.”

They traded increasingly hostile barbs about border security for a while, with Perry defending his record and knowledge of the issue and Trump responding by calling him stupid: “I see Rick Perry the other day. . . . He’s doing very poorly in the polls. He put on glasses so people will think he’s smart. And it just doesn’t work! You know people can see through the glasses!”

Having had enough (and judging that it would be smart politics), Perry finally let fly with one of the most memorable speeches of the 2016 campaign. Appearing before the Opportunity and Freedom PAC conference, Perry said, “Let no one be mistaken: Donald Trump’s candidacy is a cancer on conservatism, and it must be clearly diagnosed, excised and discarded.”

Added Perry: I, for one, will not be silent when a candidate for the high office of president runs under the Republican banner by targeting millions of Hispanics and our veterans, with mean-spirited vitriol. I will not go quiet when this cancer on conservatism threatens to metastasize into a movement of mean-spirited politics that will send the Republican party to the same place it sent the Whig Party in 1854: the graveyard.”

It was a good try, but it didn’t help Perry’s campaign. Perry was the first to drop out of the race just two months later. But he left with his head held high, widely admired for having had the nerve to call Trump out early on. He was a stand-up guy.

Meanwhile, Perry’s fellow Texan Ted Cruz had gone with the conventional wisdom and was keeping his enemy very close. Of all the candidates, Sen. Cruz was the one who had cultivated Trump as a fellow traveler. When Trump and NBC, which had broadcast some beauty pagaents that Trump produced, clashed over Trump’s immigration comments, Cruz rushed in to defend him, saying, “I like Donald Trump. I think he’s terrific, I think he’s brash, I think he speaks the truth.”

Added Cruz: “And I think NBC is engaging in political correctness that is silly and that is wrong.”

The two of them even held a joint rally on Capitol Hill to protest the U.S. deal with Iran over nuclear weapons.

By the end of the primary season, the bromance had deteriorated into extreme loathing, with Trump tweeting unflattering pictures of Cruz’s wife and accusing his father of being involved in the JFK assassination. When Cruz’s father exhorted the evangelical community to support his son, Trump said he thought it was a disgrace that Cruz Sr. was “allowed to do that.” (This is a Trump trademark: Apparently he thinks there should be laws preventing people from running against him and saying things he doesn’t like.)

The big finish, of course, came at the GOP convention in Cleveland when Cruz went before the nation ostentatiously refused to endorse Trump and got lustily booed by the delegates for it. My theory is that Cruz was positioning himself as the “conscience of conservatives” if Trump implodes in November.

Meanwhile, Perry had done a big about-face. Once Trump secured the nomination, much to everyone’s surprise, he enthusiastically endorsed the man he once called “a cancer on the presidency,” saying “he is not a perfect man,” adding, “But what I do believe is he loves his country and he will surround himself with capable, experienced people and he will listen to them.” The National Review wondered what in the world would make Perry do such a thing, suggesting that Perry was being shortsighted about his future. It turned out that Perry was strongly signaling that he was “open” to being tapped for vice president. Poor Perry. That didn’t work out for him either.

But there is hope for another attempted comeback. Proving that hell hath no fury like a billionaire scorned, after his former BFF Cruz’s apostasy at the convention, Trump vowed to spend millions to defeat him in his next election. And look who’s fixing to run against him? That’s right, good old Rick Perry — and with Trump’s encouragement. The polls show he could beat him!

So what we have is two Texas Republicans who have benefited both from opposing and supporting Donald Trump at different times during this campaign facing off in a race in which they will each say they represent the conscience of the Republican Party. And clearly, neither of them have one themselves.


Badass in black

by Tom Sullivan

Photo by Diana Walker for TIME, 2011.

The New Republic's Rebecca Nelson points out that working-class millennials show up to vote at about half the rate of college-educated peers. This is an opportunity for Hillary Clinton, she writes. Or perhaps a missed one. Because, Nelson points out, Clinton tends to use the word millennials interchangeably with college students. Non-college-educated millennials are not the low-hanging fruit to be found concentrated on college campuses. Nelson takes a stab at how Clinton might inspire them to turn out. But:

There is one part of Obama’s playbook, however, that Clinton should not try to emulate. It’s inherently harder to make Clinton cool, thanks to her stodgy political persona and her 25 years in the spotlight. But her distinctly uncool nature could actually help her connect with non-college millennials more effectively than Obama did. They’re not looking for a pop-culture icon; they want someone who hears their concerns and gets the job done for them.
Political Animal's Martin Longman thinks some of Nelson's prescriptions for attracting these millennials are a little weak. Plus, referencing the 2012 Texts from Hillary meme, Longman writes:
She didn’t seem to reflect a “distinctly uncool ... stodgy political persona” to me. Maybe it was a little strained but it was funny and it kind of fit. I don’t see why she should attempt to make a virtue out of being boring nor why she should avoid the kind of slick marketing that could humanize her for young people. Of course, it has to work. It can’t be ridiculous.
No, it would have to be authentic. From Politico in June:
“She doesn’t need to be cool. She just needs to be who she is,” said Sarah Audelo, the Clinton campaign’s youth vote director. “That’s what young people are interested in. Young people want authenticity.”
In his post, Longman uses the photo at the top of Clinton in dark glasses texting on a military plane that helped spark meme.

It is just coincidence that I used a song by Johnny Cash yesterday to describe what Hillary Clinton did to the Donald Trump campaign in Reno, Nevada. But "Folsom Prison Blues" wasn't the only inspiration. The Man in Black was on my mind for another reason. That Clinton texting photo had come up in conversation earlier in the week. My wife remarked in passing that Clinton looks pretty "badass in black."

Maybe she should work that.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Friday Night Soother: National Dog Day

by digby

Here's my friend Biscuit, a 2 year old Labradoodle, with her favorite chew toy: Donald Trump

She is a very, very good girl!


I know you're a bigot but what am I?

by digby

Millions of people all over the country reacted this way to Trump's latest "I know you are but what am I" nonsense:

Donald Trump turned the tables on critics who have branded him a racist by calling his presidential rival Hillary Clinton a "bigot."

"Hillary Clinton is a bigot who sees people of color only as votes, not as human beings worthy of a better future," he told supporters at a rally in Jackson, Mississippi, on Wednesday. "She's going to do nothing for African Americans. She's going to do nothing for the Hispanics. She's only going to take care of herself, her consultants, her donors."

Yeah, very believable ...
Clinton and the press

by digby

NPR did some analysis of the big "Clinton is dodging the press" complaint and it's quite interesting.  It turns out she is doing plenty of press with local and regional papers and she prefers to do TV interviews, town halls etc. But it's true that she hasn't held a press conference at all this year, which is bugging the hell out of the press corps because they love the sort of pile-on those events inevitably turn out to be with politicians who aren't deft at the easygoing glad-handing of the media as George W Bush,Bill Clinton or Barack Obama were. Still, it's part of the job whether she likes it or not.

Anyway, it's quite interesting.  It doesn't let Clinton of the hook at all but I think this observation shows she may understand something about the political press pack that they don't understand about themselves:
During one of her longer conversations, with Politico's Glenn Thrush for his podcast in early April, Clinton revealed some of her thinking about the reporters who cover her. 
"Once you get to a national press position, like yours and the others that are traveling with me, you're really under, in my impression, a kind of pressure to produce a political story," Clinton told Thrush. 
"A headline," Thrush offered. 
"That's your job," Clinton said. "A headline, right? I totally get it."
There has always been tremendous pressure to nail Clinton going back 25 years and it has always been even more aggressive toward her than it was to her husband. And perversely because she's running against this lunatic Donald Trump, who produces shocking headlines every day, they are under even more pressure to find something, anything to prove that they aren't Clinton apologists because they're covering the running catastrophe of Trump's campaign so thoroughly.

This is an old dynamic and I get it.  I feel it too.  Nobody likes to fight off accusations of being a hack. But that's a problem in itself.

Anyway, it's a good article.  This one by Brian Beutler on the same subject is good too.  I don't know what the answer to the problem is but it's a real problem.

Know what I'm sayin'?

by digby

Speaking of Robert Byrd

by digby

Just a little reminder for all the Trump defenders out there who are trying to say Clinton is racist for being friendly to Robert Byrd years after he had repudiated his KKK affiliation.

This is from a piece by Rick Perlstein about Trump's "urban avenging angel" form of conservatism:

No history of modern conservatism I’m aware of finds much significance in the 22,000 Nazi sympathizers who rallied for Hitler at Madison Square Garden in February 1939, presided over by a giant banner of General George Washington that stretched almost all the way to the second deck, capped off by a menacing eagle insignia.

Nor the now-infamous Ku Klux Klan march through the streets of Queens in 1927, when The New York Times reported “1,000 Klansmen and 100 policemen staged a free-for-all,” in which according to one contemporary news report all the individuals arrested were wearing Klan attire, and that one of those arrestees was Donald Trump’s own father.

Has Trump disavowed his father's KKK affiliation or are his current associations just a continuation of his family's tradition? It seems fair enough to ask since it doesn't appear that his father, unlike Robert Byrd, ever apologized for his youthful membership in the Klan or unlike Byrd ever did one thing to make up for it.  And neither has his son.


It ain't just Trump

by digby

From the great state of Maine:
Gov. Paul LePage left a state lawmaker from Westbrook an expletive-laden phone message Thursday in which he accused the legislator of calling him a racist, encouraged him to make the message public and said, “I’m after you.”

LePage sent the message Thursday morning after a television reporter appeared to suggest that Democratic Rep. Drew Gattine was among several people who had called the governor a racist, which Gattine later denied. The exchange followed remarks the governor made in North Berwick on Wednesday night about the racial makeup of suspects arrested on drug trafficking charges in Maine.

“Mr. Gattine, this is Gov. Paul Richard LePage,” a recording of the governor’s phone message says. “I would like to talk to you about your comments about my being a racist, you (expletive). I want to talk to you. I want you to prove that I’m a racist. I’ve spent my life helping black people and you little son-of-a-bitch, socialist (expletive). You … I need you to, just friggin. I want you to record this and make it public because I am after you. Thank you.”

Gov. LePage’s message to Rep. Drew Gattine. Warning: This audio contains obscenities.

LePage later invited a Portland Press Herald reporter and a two-person television crew from WMTW to the Blaine House, where during a 30-minute interview the governor described his anger with Gattine and others, told them he had left the phone message and said he wished he and the lawmaker could engage in an armed duel to settle the matter.

“When a snot-nosed little guy from Westbrook calls me a racist, now I’d like him to come up here because, tell you right now, I wish it were 1825,” LePage said. “And we would have a duel, that’s how angry I am, and I would not put my gun in the air, I guarantee you, I would not be (Alexander) Hamilton. I would point it right between his eyes, because he is a snot-nosed little runt and he has not done a damn thing since he’s been in this Legislature to help move the state forward.”

Gattine is the House chair of the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee, which has opposed some of LePage’s welfare, drug enforcement and other reforms. He said the governor’s phone message was uncalled for.

“Obviously that message is upsetting, inappropriate and uncalled for,” Gattine said Thursday night. “It’s hard to believe it’s from the governor of the state of Maine, but again, we need to stay focused on the drug problem we are facing here in Maine and cannot allow this story to be about the governor’s inappropriate and vulgar behaviors.”

LePage left the message after a television reporter asked the governor what he would say to people who are calling him a racist. LePage asked who had called him that and the reporter said he had talked to Gattine, but didn’t say Gattine had called the governor a racist.

LePage then reacted, told the reporters “you make me so sick,” and stormed off.

He later called the same reporters to the Blaine House for an interview, told them he had called Gattine and said he hoped the lawmaker would make the governor’s phone message public. The Press Herald made a Freedom of Access Act request for the phone message, and Gattine provided a copy to the Press Herald around 8:50 p.m.

That was the same Governor LePage who said this, which started the whole thing:

Gov. Paul LePage on Thursday fiercely defended comments he made about race and drug dealers at a town hall meeting Wednesday in North Berwick, where he said he keeps a binder of photographs of drug dealers arrested in Maine and that more than 90 percent of them are black or Hispanic.

In a tense exchange with two reporters outside his State House office, LePage said: “Let me tell you something: Black people come up the highway and they kill Mainers. You ought to look into that!”

He's one of 50 Governors in this country. So why are people shocked that Republicans wouold nominate a white nationalist for President?


In a November ballot initiative, California voters take on Big Pharma & sky-high drug prices

by Gaius Publius

Sky-high drug prices are a scandal, but everyone knows that, even those responsible for the prices. They're also a source of enormous profit and wealth, which is the problem. The drug companies, acting alone and through their lobbying arm, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), are literally sending people to their deaths in order to drain others of a few dollars more. It would not be out of line to call this behavior murderous and psychopathic — in a Martin Shkreli sense — though most would settle for a term from economics. Something related to capitalism, perhaps.

 What drug company CEOs are doing to patients for a few dollars more (source)

Drug companies and their wealth have captured the national legislative and regulatory process and even some of the national patient advocacy groups (see below for more). How to crack the nut of deadly high drug prices and bring them down to an affordable level? Activists in California are making a very credible attempt at the state level with a November ballot initiative called the Drug Prices Relief Act, or Proposition 61.

Fran Quigley, writing in Truth-Out, first describes the scale of the problem (my emphasis throughout):
It is hard to overstate the level of dysfunction in the US medicines system. The headline-producing greed of "pharma bro" Martin Shkreli was just the most dramatic example of a pharmaceutical industry whose patent monopolies grant it immunity from market forces while its political clout shields it from government regulation. Taking full advantage of taxpayer-funded research, drug corporations make record profits, even by Fortune 500 standards, and pay their CEOs as much as $180 million a year. Those corporations spend far more on incessant marketing to consumers and physicians than they do on research -- part of the reason they have largely failed to develop new medicines that address the most deadly illnesses and diseases.

As for the patients who rely on those medicines, pharma lobbying has ensured that the US Medicare program is alone among industrialized nations' government health plans in not negotiating down the price it pays for medicines, causing US patients to pay far and away the highest global price for necessary drugs. One in every five US cancer patients can't afford to fill their prescriptions, and many seniors on Medicare are forced to cut their pills in half to stretch their supply. ...

The industry's US trade organization, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, known as PhRMA, has an annual budget exceeding $200 million, which it directs to the promotion of the image and interests of its 57 member companies. The industry's US lobbying expenses for 2015 were $238 million, and its campaign contributions have reached as high as $50.7 million in a year. That money has been well-spent.
Even those in government who say they're trying to help aren't helping:
Not that the Obama administration has always been a champion of medicine access: the Affordable Care Act enshrined a huge guaranteed market for pharmaceutical companies, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently flat-out refused to exercise its legal right to address huge corporate mark-ups on cancer medicines the NIH helped develop.
I'm shocked about the NIH not using authority it already has to provide relief. That's a good indication of the extent to which all of national government is captured by this industry.

Only the Veterans Administration, unlike Medicare, negotiates down drug prices. Medicare is forbidden by law to do so. Which makes the prices paid by the VA for prescription drugs an interesting benchmark.

Proposition 61: Marking California drug prices to the VA benchmark

In a nutshell here's what Prop 61 would do:
The initiative, recently certified by the California Secretary of State as Proposition 61, calls for state agencies to be blocked from paying more for a prescription drug than the price paid by the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Unlike the Medicare program, the VA is free to negotiate the price it pays for drugs and as a result, pays as much as 42 percent less than Medicare and usually significantly lower than state Medicaid programs. The primary force behind the ballot measure, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, says the law could save Californians hundreds of millions of dollars a year in lower government costs and lower individual co-payments.
Are you a California resident? Imagine a 42% cut in drug prices. (It's not hard to predict prescription prices falling throughout California if state agencies become the go-to source for low-cost drugs.) That alone, I think, makes Prop 61 worth your active and vigorous support. It would literally change lives, including your own.

Are you a resident of any other state with a ballot initiative option? If Prop 61 passes in California, it will be exported, perhaps to a state near you. Another reason to give Prop 61 your active and vigorous support.

Quigley's piece has much more information, including some he said-she said about whether Big Pharma is worried about this initiative passing (count on it, regardless of what they say) and whether the ballot measure will deliver the change it advertises (again, count on it, regardless of what its opponents say). I recommend reading it through if this effort interests you at all. It looks very promising to me.

I do want to leave you with one more quote from the article, however, related to those patient advocacy groups who are opposed to Prop 61.

Some patient advocacy groups are opposed; guess why

The opposition is quoting some patient advocacy groups that are opposed to the measure. For example:
While the pharmaceutical industry opposition to the measure is predictable, some patient-connected advocacy organizations have raised concerns as well. Anne Donnelly, policy director for the San Francisco-based HIV and Hepatitis C advocacy group Project Inform, has been widely quoted by the opposition campaign and in media reports questioning the wisdom of the ballot initiative. Donnelly says her group is officially neutral on the referendum and points out that Project Inform supports a drug price transparency bill that is pending at the California state legislature. "We are supportive of the goal of lowering drug prices, but the drug pricing system is so complex that I am not sure this simplistic (ballot) measure is the best approach," she said in an interview.
Project Inform's lack of support was highlighted in a July New York Times article on the referendum. But the referendum's supporters have in turn questioned Project Inform's motivations, noting that the organization -- like many patient advocacy groups -- is funded in significant part by pharmaceutical company donations. "When you look at who is speaking out against the initiative, you have to ask what it is in it for them," says Burger of the CNA. Donnelly confirms that industry donations make up between 20-36 percent of Project Inform's budget, but says the organization takes precautions to ensure that the industry does not influence its positions.
Money doesn't talk, it swears. Or so I hear. Though maybe Ms. Donnelly hears it sing a different tune.

(A version of this piece appeared at Down With Tyranny. GP article archive here.)



I shot a campaign in Reno

by Tom Sullivan

... just to watch it die.

Hillary Clinton's killer instinct made an appearance in Reno, Nevada yesterday, writes Michelle Goldberg at Slate:

We hadn’t seen this Hillary in a while. She stayed under wraps during the Democratic primary, never seriously going after Bernie Sanders. But the killer in Hillary came out on Thursday, delivering a devastating indictment of Donald Trump’s associations with the far-right fringe, one meant to permanently delegitimize him among decent people.
The assault that began with the release a Clinton ad tying Trump to the KKK and followed up with an unheralded speech tying Trump securely to the emerging alt-right. It was a speech aimed at "sinking Trump but sending lifeboats for Republicans," William Saletan explained:
Twenty seconds into her attack, Clinton sent her first conciliatory signal. Trump’s “divisive rhetoric,” she said, was “like nothing we’ve heard before from a nominee for president of the United States from one of our two major parties.” Many liberals would disagree. They think Trump has made explicit the racism to which other Republicans have appealed indirectly through attacks on figures such as Jeremiah Wright or Willie Horton. Clinton, who began life as a Republican, chooses not to see it—or at least put it—that way.
But she means to govern, he writes, and she'll have to work with her rivals. So no scorched earth.

Clinton said of Trump's vivid history:
Through it all, he has continued pushing discredited conspiracy theories with racist undertones.

Trump said thousands of American Muslims in New Jersey cheered the 9/11 attacks. They didn’t.

He suggested that Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the Kennedy assassination. Perhaps in Trump’s mind, because he was a Cuban immigrant, he must have had something to do with it. Of course there’s absolutely no evidence of that.

Just recently, Trump claimed President Obama founded ISIS. And then he repeated that nonsense over and over.

His latest paranoid fever dream is about my health. All I can say is, Donald, dream on.

This is what happens when you treat the National Enquirer like Gospel.
Jamelle Bouie writes of the speech:
As strategy, however, Clinton’s approach is shrewd. She could tie the entire GOP to Trump, but at the risk of embattling Republican voters and activating a tribal loyalty to the party. By distancing Trump from the Republican mainstream, she offers those voters another choice: You can vote for me, or if that’s too much, you can just not vote at all. Either way, Trump’s margin shrinks. And if those voters decide to abandon the polls in November, it could bolster Democrats even further as they try to take the House and Senate back from the Republican Party.
Bouie asks the obvious question: "Why couldn’t Republican leaders say this when they had the chance?"

Chances are that was a rhetorical question.

Clinton said yesterday, "This is a moment of reckoning for every Republican dismayed that the Party of Lincoln has become the Party of Trump." Her effort to take out Trump without killing off the Republican Party with him will not buy her much grace from rivals who have spent their political careers trying to end hers. But leaving a defeated adversary a way to retreat can reduce the carnage in a country Hillary Clinton hopes to govern starting in January.

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