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China Iran Deal, $400B, belt-road, Chinese troops [Juan Cole]


Hardly surprising, given the developments of the past 2 years.

If this proceeds as described, then I imagine the next step for China will be to work on Turkmenistan, then Pakistan, then Turkey. All three of those tightly integrated into belt-road, would make it into a truly formidable Eurasian bloc. Anyway, Iran hawks make rather incompetent imperialists.

Trauma, adult issues, and US Society [Bruce Levine / Counterpunch]

July 19th article:

Ugly August around the world. US/Iran, US/China, India/Kashmir/Pakistan, China/Hong Kong, Brexit-a-la-Bojo, US/Venezuela, US/shootings, and the Democratic party basically softening the country up for another disappointment. Probably a bunch of other stuff too. I find it all so disconnected from the personal life, a summer that’s pleasantly dragging along in the (relatively mild) upstate heat, and equally disconnected from my work life (current annoyance: Microsoft…).

So it’s back to the basics, regain some grounding in what makes people so weird.

See also (same author, not unrelated):

Dem debate, 20190730 (night 1)

Skipped out on the closing statements, but here’s my impression of the rest of it:

Good night for Warren and Sanders, as all the top and mid tier candidates were affirming 99% of what they were saying all along.

Good night for Buttigieg, bad night for Beto. Mayor Pete pulled away from his second-tier rivals, at least in this group.

Good night for Williamson, definitely loved by the local audience (a Bernie group).

discussion of PA in 2020 election [FiveThirtyEight]

538 Podcast from last Friday, featuring a gentleman who directs polling at Franklin & Marshall, knowledgeable about the Keystone state. (Their polling, which somewhat optimistically perhaps, has Biden beating Trump by up to +15% in general election matchups). Several interesting details in the discussion.


Trump’s latest race-baiting

Trump’s latest rhetoric was about suggesting that minority members of Congress ‘go back to where they came from’. How will this effect the 2020 election?

It seems the intention of Republican strategists is that this will put the spotlight even more on immigration issues, which they believe energizes their base. Centrist Democrats, lacking confidence in their own handling of the issue, seem to fear this for some reason.

They shouldn’t. If Trump takes it there, the only thing to do is respond with

(1) Strong, unequivocal condemnation. Key word: UNEQUIVOCAL.

(2) Don’t fund Trump’s DHS you flippin morons. Do not talk about the importance of “reaching across the aisle” while this is the main news item. What happened to the full-court-press ‘resistance’ thing, that was so prominent while russiagate was the thing? Now might be an appropriate time to actually do that.

(3) Don’t attack members of your own party who led the way on this issue.

(4) Make a point of not insulting Trump’s voters or accusing them of being racist. DO accuse Trump, and attack whatever dumb ass words he transmits over Jack Dorsey’s unfortunate invention.

(5) DO nominate a candidate who has an unwavering record on social justice, does not flipflop, and does not hedge their statement of their position on the issue. (i.e., if you want to win, do the exact opposite of the way Kerry talked about the Iraq War issue in 2004). Sanders, Warren, and plausibly Harris would fit this description. Biden would NOT. If Immigration is the defining issue of the election, Biden is least positioned to pick up on the outrage-energy driving Dem voters. His game is status quo.

If the Democratic response is done right, they will pick up votes in several key states which are marginal, in particular FL, AZ due to demographics, and PA is affected by moving the focus away from economy.

  • The AZ senate seat will become a realistic target, and its electoral votes too. Unlike 2018, the Dem AZ Senate nominee this time is looking like it will be a white dude, which would otherwise have put this out of reach. But now it’s perhaps back on if the Spanish speaking vote can turn out in even larger numbers than 2018.
  • FL, of course, always one of the pivotal electoral vote states. Until now, it seemed to favor Republicans a tiny bit for 2020 – at least per demographic correlations via the Morning Consult poll series. Historically, FL has not benefited Dems relative to its Hispanic population as much other states. This can now change.
    • related: refugees from Puerto Rico, previously disenfranchised US citizens, ~150k of whom moved to FL since that hurricane, and are potentially able to vote for the first time.
  • Last but certainly not least: PA. It is the other main swing electoral vote state on my list. I would even say the sine qua non state for the 2020 presidential election. The Democrat objective there is squeezing every last vote out of Philly and eastern PA, meaning the turnout game for younger voters and minorities. Responding to blatant race-baiting by Republicans is actually one of the easier approaches to execute going door to door in Democratic neighborhoods, to get marginal voters up off their butts (I’ve done it). But once again, it will be more convincing, relatively speaking, for Sanders/Warren/Harris, and less so, relatively speaking, for Biden. To be sure, Biden is a hit with the Democrats who are older (the best voters)- but they can be counted on to vote for whoever is the Democrat nominee. They are not the marginal voters in a general election for president. Meanwhile, the PA Trump campaign will try to harvest rural votes obviously, but also, the working class industrial belt in Erie-Pittsburgh. This region is a relatively even mix of partisanship. On the basis of inland working class culture, and excluding the black population, they are relatively more sympathetic to the Trump campaign’s “economy” angle, and relatively less sympathetic to coastal/urban cultural consensus of outrage against Trump. PA is definitely up for grabs, and I think it would normally be played by Republicans as an “economy” state – something not that great for Dems, since for most people, there is less outrage factor in “economy”, thus less motivational for younger voters.
    • side note 1: Sanders and Warren are working on that… there should be outrage factor in “economy”
    • side note 2: see previous post. Immigration and Economy are actually closely linked in the same way people opposing NAFTA is an economy/pocketbook issue rather than “isolationism” for its own sake. But if you focus specifically on the cruelty and racism, the story plays out differently.

To summarize, in an immigration-centric election, Trump will get some boost too, but it is mostly regardless of who the Dem nominee is. Dems have potential to get an even bigger boost in vital states, with a progressive (including immigration) candidate, and a direct unequivocal message and delivery. That is, if they don’t screw it up.

So don’t screw it up.

Why Democrats Keep Caving on Immigration [Miles Culpepper / Jacobin]


See also, recent details of the unconscionable treatment of children in DHS detention centers:

Per recent polling, the top issues for voters are economy, health care, and immigration. Of these, immigration is a divisive issue for Democrats, and also one that I think is misunderstood in the context of trying to appeal to “moderates”.

The main article linked talks about Democrat’s badly mixed record, repeatedly turning their backs on working class immigrants, but then asking for the votes of their friends and families (for example, the Obama-Biden administration under DHS secretary Janet Napolitano dutifully implemented the awful Bush era plans and proceeded to deport a still-record rate of 400,000 immigrants per year, mostly non criminals, for Obama’s entire first term).

So the thing that I think is underappreciated in the story told in political media, is the connection between the desire for economic security, and willingness of “moderates” or “centrists” to go along with anti-immigrant policies.

More “hard” social-conservatives may well be anti-immigrant out of some fundamentally nationalist beliefs – but they are not a realistic audience for Democrats to appeal to anyway. “Moderates” on the other hand, especially Democrats and Independents with some lighter socially conservative sympathies, parse immigration as an economic-security item. Something grouped right next to offshoring of jobs under NAFTA, for example.

The misunderstanding, then, is the reasoning for the “appeal to the moderates” / “prevent the progressives from pulling the party to the left” strategy for the 2020 presidential election. This reasoning, which I believe is incorrect, presumes that a Democratic candidate can pick up votes by abandoning the issues of “economic justice” and instead offer “compromise” on issues like immigration – perhaps under the guise of “appealing to national security”.

This is a mistake because going after economic justice issues like health care and inequality is in fact a strong direct response to the core concerns of economic security / job security etc — and one what we know working class across party lines do believe in.

Economic justice issues are the natural answer Democrats have to give to Trumpism. Give this answer, and you energize the base, increase turnout, ally with the spanish speaking demographic which in fact delivered gains in the 2018 election. You anger the commited conservatives who weren’t going to vote for you anyway. But you are saying  to that elusive working class swing voter, that they will get relief from 30-40 years of economic decline and that you have a plan to halt that trend at its root cause.

On the other hand, running a blue dog / social-conservative type candidate (i.e. Biden) alienates the progressives, is a weak draw for spanish speaking voters, and the answer it offers “moderates” for job insecurity is no different than what they are already getting from Trump, except that Trump’s version goes further.

It is very much the same mistake that the Democratic party made in 2016.

The details of the electoral matchup are different – we know now that Trump is even more of a doofus than he seemed then. And all candidates, including Biden, will be less controversial (i.e. less unpopular) with the general public than Clinton was. Yet Trump’s approval is now higher, getting into the mid 40’s. All indications suggest he will get the benefit of an improving economy. Most importantly, he can plausibly claim to have followed through on his core promise: attacking economic security / job security related issues, “his way”, on multiple fronts. Strong-arming various foreign trade partners, esp. China, renegotiating NAFTA, cutting taxes (a false point in terms of inequality, but a lot of people are going to fall for it), and of course the vocal anti immigrant rhetoric and policy. That is what I mean by Trump and Republicans offering a “stronger” version of the thing Biden and/or a moderate/conservative Democrat will supposedly offer swing voters, at least those who believe in this stuff. (and to repeat, you’re going to alienate progressives and lower your own turnout).

EU elections; right wing joins mainstream [David Renton / Jacobin]

Overview of country-by-country position of right-wing parties, with many of the more extreme ones abandoned by voters, but the less-extreme anti-immigrant parties gaining.