Democrats Need To Rebrand Their Economic Message

Democrats Need To Rebrand Their Economic Message

Chuck Schumer (D)

WASHINGTON — A brawl is about to break out among Democrats on Capitol Hill, and when it’s done, Democrats will say they’re going to be OK. They’re wrong.

They’ll return next year to face one of the biggest Republican majorities in the House of Representatives since the 1920s. They’ll have 48 out of the 100 Senate seats, but they have to defend 25 of those seats in two years. They lost the White House in a year when they were strongly favored to win.

And they still face a daunting challenge crafting, let alone communicating, an economic message. It’s widely agreed that the party was unable to find a vigorous, meaningful way of telling working-class voters it understood their concerns.

Those voters “see the party as wanting to advance everyone but them,” said Will Marshall, the president of the Progressive Policy Institute, a centrist group with Democratic leanings.

“We celebrate every time a barrier falls, but what Trump voters hear is ‘Nobody cares about me.’ You have to talk to these voters in a more emphatic way.”

Part of that strategy means getting away from a big-spending, liberal image. “A more centrist perspective is going to position them better,” said James Pfiffner, Virginia-based author of a dozen books on American government and politics.

That’s not what you’re going to hear starting Tuesday, as Congress returns to write a federal budget and House Democrats vote on whether to retain Nancy Pelosi as their leader or turn to Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio.

Republicans will have at least 238 seats in the House next year, while Democrats should have 194, a net gain of six seats. Three races are undecided, and all lean Republican.

Ryan’s challenge to Pelosi is the first time since she became the top House Democrat 14 years ago that she’s faced opposition.

Ryan reflects concern that the party’s dismal showing in the congressional and presidential elections is a loud, stark reminder it’s not bold or inclusive enough.

Ryan, said Rep. Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y., “wants more voices in the conversation so that we can work together to craft our message and forge a winning strategy.”

That makes sense to many liberals, who cheered Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders and his Democratic presidential campaign pledges to shake up the political system.

“The Democratic Party needs to project that we’ll really challenge power and the system, and not just have good policies within the system,” said Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a liberal activist group that’s not endorsing anyone.

Democrats have to remember, he said, “the main thing people are looking for is backbone in the Democratic Party.”

Pelosi, a wily political survivor, is seen as winning easily with accolades from unions and liberals.

Once that vote, scheduled for Wednesday, is done, Democrats will be talking big.

“Democrats don’t have a debate about seniors, diversity or women’s issues,” said Rep. Ann Kuster, D-N.H., who represents a swing district. While Democrats are unified over the role of government, “Republicans are about to go to war over deficits versus tax cuts,” she said.

“We’re not on life support. The party could be stronger, but it’s still strong,” said Dan Glickman, a former Wichita, Kan.-area congressman and secretary of agriculture in the Clinton administration.

Democrats offer several ways their congressional positions are solid:

—Popular vote. “We won the most votes,” said Bob Mulholland, a veteran California Democratic strategist. Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has 47.9 percent of the vote to President-elect Donald Trump’s 46.7 percent. His popular vote is the lowest for a White House winner since Bill Clinton 24 years ago.

—Demographics. Democrats running in House races won 67 percent of the Latino vote, 89 percent of the African-American vote and 56 percent of voters under 30, according to network exit polls. The Latino and young-voter percentages were up slightly from 2014, while the African-American number was about the same.

—History. Republicans won control of the House two years after Clinton won his first term. Democrats won control six years after George W. Bush won his first term, and Republicans regained control two years after Barack Obama’s 2008 victory. The GOP had a net gain of 64 House seats in 2010.

—Opposition. The party out of power doesn’t get the blame for governing if things go awry. Republicans have prospered from attacking President Obama’s economic and health care agendas. Now Democrats are in a position to be the critics and rail against the new president. They already are.

“He talked about being a populist. He talked about taking on special interests,” said Sanders. “Yet the initial indications that we are seeing is that not much of what he talked about … has much to do with where he is today.”

But the old problem remains: Democrats aren’t convincing enough working-class people that the party’s on their side.

“We needed to let the American people know what we believe,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democrats’ new leader in the Senate.

He cites the example of student debt as a missed opportunity. Sanders got overwhelming support from under-35 Democrats as he argued to make tuition free at public colleges and universities. Clinton and most congressional candidates argued for a modified version.

That confused people, perhaps contributing to the poorer Democratic showing among younger voters, he suggested.

The biggest danger for congressional Democrats is that Trump is successful and fashions a new Republican era, much as Ronald Reagan did through most of the 1980s.

“If his policy falters, they may regain seats in the midterms,” Robert Borosage, the president of the liberal Institute for America’s Future, said of the Democrats. “Yet they can win battles and still lose the war.”

Trump proposes stripping citizenship from political protesters

CREDIT: AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

THINK PROGRESS

This is how autocracy happens.

Its a scene that is likely to prove quite familiar during a Trump presidency, Americans woke up Tuesday to discover that the incoming president took to Twitter to expose his ignorance of or disregard for the Constitution.

Criminalizing flag burning is unconstitutional, at least when the flag is burned as a political statement. As the Supreme Court explained in Texas v. Johnson, “if there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.” Moreover, there is no indication “either in the text of the Constitution or in our cases interpreting it . . . that a separate juridical category exists for the American flag alone.” If someone chooses to express a political message through flag burning, even if that message is contempt towards the United States, the Constitution protects that speech.

Justice Antonin Scalia, who Trump has held up as a model for his Supreme Court nominee, was in the majority in Johnson.

But even setting aside Trump’s unconstitutional call to criminalize flag burning, which became a staple of American conservative politics long before Trump emerged as a presidential candidate, Trump is calling for something even more extraordinary. He wants to strip citizenship — and with it, voting rights — from political dissidents. Federal law does permit Americans to lose their citizenship after “committing any act of treason against, or attempting by force to overthrow, or bearing arms against, the United States,” but flag burning is a far cry from treason or armed rebellion. It is a political statement, and democracy depends on the free expression of political ideas.

The president-elect of the United States has proposed stripping a political protester’s very status as an American. In the process, he would take away that person’s ability to vote — and thus to vote for someone other than Donald Trump. Today, Trump proposes this consequence for a very specific category of speech that most Americans view as odious. But once a person’s voting rights can be made contingent upon their beliefs, or their silence, then elections become increasingly meaningless.

 

6 Despicable Things President-Elect Trump Has Done This Week

6 Despicable Things President-Elect Trump Has Done This Week

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump yells to members of the media from the steps of the main clubhouse at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., November 19, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar

THE NATIONAL MEMO

It has been one of the longest weeks in human history and the Trump presidency has not even begun yet. Any notion that reasonable, well-intentioned people should give him a chance—hey, maybe he was just kidding about all that hateful, bigotedstuff he spewed on the campaign trail—was immediately dispelled. One of his first official acts was to name the anti-Semitic mastermind of the racist “alt-right,” fake news website Breitbart, Steve Bannon, to chief propagandist and horse’s ass whisperer. The president-elect dodged the media, regained control of his Twitter account and proceeded to confirm all of our worst fears about him.

If it was not already clear, Trump plans to surround himself with sycophantic yes-men who share his racist views and will just as gleefully set about laying waste to civil liberties and justice as he will. Also, his unelected children will be playing major roles in the new White House, it appears, while also running his businesses.

“We won,” he and his team have told anyone who disagrees with them. They have every plan to claim all the spoils. Here is a partial list of the both the horrors and the mere affronts to decency Trump has visited upon us this week.

1. He tapped Jeff Sessions as his Attorney General.

Early loyalist Sessions has been rewarded for being one of the earliest lap dogs for Trump with one of the most powerful positions in the country, Attorney General. The two men share a deep love of racist policing, hatred of civil rights and desire to roll the clock back to approximately the 1950s. That would place us well before the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act, Roe v. Wade and nationwide legalization of gay marriage. Sessions would also be perfectly positioned to undo some of the gains made during the Obama Administration to reverse the worst effects of the 1994 Omnibus Crime bill that rained mass incarceration down on vast portions of the black and Latino populations. The two share a hatred and demonization of marijuana. Sessions once hilariously joked that he liked the KKK until he heard they smoked weed. Another piece of common ground: they both hate immigrants, with Sessions saying in 2006 that no one from the Dominican Republic has anything of value to contribute to the United States.

Alabama Senator Sessions was deemed too openly racist to be a federal judge by Senate Republicans in 1986 after President Ronald Reagan nominated the then United States attorney from Alabama. Former colleagues gave devastating testimony about Sessions’ blatant racism. But Senate Republicans are not what they used to be.

There’s no evidence that the years have dimmed Sessions’ racist views, which are apparently right in line with his new boss man. On Friday, Sessions praised Trump’s demand for the death penalty for the Central Park Five in 1989. He said it shows that Trump has always been a “law and order” guy. The teenagers Trump demanded death for were fully exonerated by DNA evidence and shown to have been victims of police railroading. Despite all this inconvenient truth, Trump has continued to stand by his earlier bloodlust, and now the nation’s likely top prosecutor has praised him for it.

That is some very twisted law and order.

2. His surrogate floated the Muslim registry idea and justified it by citing one of the most shameful pieces of American history.

One of the more terrifying campaign ideas Trump floated was the idea of a registry for Muslims in this country. Undaunted by the very real comparison between this and the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany, the president-elect has made it clear that this awful breach of human rights, and act of outright religious persecution, is still very much a possibility.

A prominent Trump backer and spokesman for a major super PAC that backed him by the name of Carl Higbie laid out the legal justification for this atrocity on Wednesday to a horrified Megyn Kelly. His argument was that the mass internment of Japanese Americans during World War II was a “precedent” for Trump’s planned Muslim registry. Since it has a “precedent,” a kind of legalistic term that Higbie was just using to mean something like this happened before, the Muslim registry would therefore “hold constitutional muster,” Higbie argued.

Kelly tried in various ways to express her utter shock and dismay that Japanese internment camps were being used as some sort of positive example of how the United States should behave today.

Higbie may just be a Trump-loving supporter with no official role, but word is that the Muslim registry is definitely being considered. A day earlier, an actual member of Trump’s transition team, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, said Trump’s advisers were discussing whether to send him a formal proposal for a national registry of immigrants and visitors from Muslim countries. It’s happening.

Kobach, whose other claim to fame is crafting a law making it legal for police to profile Latinos, was said to be in line for the Attorney General position. Now he’ll have to wait for another plum position, like czar of immigration.

3. He tapped insanely Islamophobic retired General Michael Flynn for top national security post.

There is every indication that Trump has great respect for fellow hotheads, as long as they are sufficiently sycophantic and Islamophobic. Retired General Michael Flynn, Trump’s truly frightening pick for national security adviser, fits the bill perfectly.

Flynn served in Iraq and Afghanistan and was later tapped to lead the Defense Intelligence Agency. Obama subsequently fired him. It is unclear at what point he became the virulent Islamophobe with a shaky grasp on the truth, but that is who he is today. Ever since, he has been sounding the amped-up alarm about the threat posed by extremist Islamic groups and blaming Obama for “coddling” them to anyone who will listen. And Trump very obviously listens to him and in fact wants to keep on listening to him.

What President Trump will likely hear from Flynn are variants on his recent tweet, “Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL.” He has also said in interviews that he considers Islam—yes, the whole religion—a cancer that has metastasized. Another thing Flynn likes to say is: “Lock her up,” referring to Hillary Clinton.

4. He invited his daughter to a meeting with the Japanese prime minister.

Way before his election, Trump had shattered every norm of someone aspiring to public office, using campaign press conferences to promote his hotels, refusing to release his tax returns, and ignoring the usual rules regarding conflicts of interest. Surprise, as president-elect, he’s still writing his own rules as he goes. Early in the week, he was said to be requesting security clearance for his kids and son-in-law.

He has promised to place his business holdings in a “blind trust” while he is president, and of course he always keeps his promises. The “blind trust” would also be run by his kids, so not really blind at all. Plus, his kids are part of the government now! They are part of the transition team!

As the week wore on, after confusing the hell out of the Japanese prime minister about when and where they would meet, Trump invited daughter Ivanka to attend. So far no word if she will be selling any of the items she wore to the meeting online.

5. He took credit for the fact that a Ford factory is not moving to Mexico when it was never going to move to Mexico.

On Thursday, the president-elect tweeted that he got a phone call “from my friend Bill Ford, Chairman of Ford, who advised me that he will be keeping the Lincoln plant in Kentucky—no Mexico.”

He tweeted this because had he sent a press release, the mainstream media just might have (no guarantees, but might have) looked into it and found out that Ford was never going to close the factory in question. To get even more granular, the company had considered moving one production line to Mexico, but the move would not have cost any Americans their jobs, and then it decided not to. Details, details.

But that did not prevent Trump from taking credit for it and calling it a win for him. And it did not prevent various fake newsoutlets from agreeing and perpetuating his false claim. And now he’ll say it a bunch more times, and the fake news outlets will say it a bunch more times and then it will become true.

That’s the way things work in the post-truth world.

6. He demanded an apology from the “Hamilton” cast.

On Friday night, our virulently homophobic VP-elect Mike Pence went to see the smash hit Broadway musical “Hamilton.” There, in addition to being entertained, he was also booed. At the end of the show, cast member Brandon Victor Dixon delivered the message to Pence that many Americans are truly afraid and worried that the new “administration will not protect us, defend us and uphold our inalienable rights.”

This rather mild, and completely true statement—millions of Americans really are worried!—was termed “harassment” by our new commander-in-chief in waiting on Twitter the next day. It was so rude, Trump said, and demanded an apology.

Without a trace of the bitter irony that surrounds us every day, Trump invoked the notion of a “safe space” in his tweets about the incident. “The theater must always be a safe and special place,” he said.

Let the boos continue to rain down upon both of these deplorable men and their cast of horribles, forever.

The growing smear campaign against Keith Ellison

CREDIT: AP Photo/Molly Riley

THINK PROGRESS

Ellison is the first Muslim elected to Congress , and now he’s being painted as a ‘radical’ with ‘ties to the Nation of Islam.’

With the Democrats in disarray following President-Elect Donald Trump’s surprise victory, the horse-race for the next Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair is tense, messy, and potentially crowded. Minnesota Democrat Keith Ellison is one of the favorites — and conservatives are already trying to tear him down with false equivalencies and smear tactics.

One common thread to the complaints: Ellison’s religion. Ellison is the first Muslim ever elected to Congress, as well as the first Black congressman from Minnesota.

This tactic is hardly new. When Ellison was first seeking national office, Minnesota Republicans used his faith to attack him, alleging ties to the Nation of Islam and Louis Farrakhan. Blatant Islamophobia erupted when, because he is Muslim, he requested to be sworn in on the Quran instead of the Bible.

At the time, Virginia Congressman Virgil Goode (R), who endorsed Trump in 2015, wrote a letter to his constituents claiming that “if American citizens don’t wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Quran.” (Goode endorsed Trump for President in Breitbart last year).

Ellison ultimately used a Quran owned by Thomas Jefferson. President Obama cited his swearing in an example of America’s religious tolerance in a 2009 speech in Cairo.

When the controversy first erupted in 2006, Ellison denied that he was ever a member of the Nation of Islam. He clarified that, while he had never joined the group, he had organized a Minnesota delegation to the 1995 Million Man March, at which the Nation’s leader Farrakhan spoke.

Ellison also apologized at the time for some positive articles he had written as a student in the late 1980s about Farrakhan, saying he hadn’t “adequately scrutinized the positions” of the movement’s leaders. He said then that he believed “they were and are anti-Semitic.”

Now, the same allegations are being floated on the right as a pre-emptive argument against his bid for DNC chair.

TruthRevolt, a conservative site founded by former Breitbart editor Ben Shapiro and David Horowitz, branded Ellison a “Muslim Brotherhood Shill” and a “radical.” On Fox News, pundit Pete Hegseth called Ellison a “radical congressman.”

Fox News also published an article which painstakingly lays out the allegations against Ellison, titled “Who is Keith Ellison? Left-wing congressman with past ties to Nation of Islam wants DNC job.”

And in Commentary Magazine, Ellison was described as an example of the left’s “embrace of radicalism,” part of the democrats “big bet on fanaticism,” and “a former disciple of Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam.”

“Though he had since denounced Farrakhan’s anti-Semitism, Ellison has kept the torch of antipathy for Israel burning,” Noah Rothman writes.

In another article in Commentary, Editor John Podhoretz positions Ellison as the balance to Steve Bannon, Trump’s new Chief Strategist. Bannon was formerly the head of Breitbart and turned it into a “the platform the the alt-right.”

In the article, Podhoretz details some of the objections against Bannon, most notably his association with anti-Semitism.

“With Bannon in a senior role at the White House and the possible appointment of the radical congressman Keith Ellison as head of the Democratic National Committee, we could be seeing our political system devolving to its extremes,” he writes.

Ellison has been a Congressman from Minnesota since 2007, and is the co-chair of House’s progressive caucus. In his official bio, he says his priorities in Congress are “ building prosperity for working families, promoting peace, pursuing environmental sustainability, and advancing civil and human rights.”

In his official announcement on Monday, Ellison staked his case for DNC chair on advocacy for the working class:

“Democrats win when we harness the power of everyday people and fight for the issues they care about. It is not enough for Democrats to ask for voters’ support every two years. We must be with them through every lost paycheck, every tuition hike, and every time they are the victim of a hate crime. When voters know what Democrats stand for, we can improve the lives of all Americans.”

Ellison has been endorsed by outgoing Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (NV), incoming Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

Children are already being harassed in the name of our president-elect

THINK PROGRESS

Graffiti with the words “go back to Africa” and “Trump train” shows the effect of Trump’s rhetoric on schools.

Credit: Twitter

In the days following the election, students are already invoking the name of our president-elect while they spread white supremacist messages.

During lunch at Royal Oak Middle School in Royal Oak, Michigan, a group of students chanted “Build the wall! Build the wall!”

The superintendent said the school is addressing the issue.

“We are working with our students to help them understand the impact of their words and actions on others in their school community,” Royal Oak Schools superintendent Shawn Lewis-Lakin said in a statement to The Detroit News.

Shaun King, senior justice reporter for the Daily News said parents have reached out to him about incidents at York County Technical High School in York, Pennsylvania and tweeted a short video of white students chanting “white power” while holding a Trump sign.

There have also been incidents of racist graffiti invoking Trump. At Maple Grove Senior High School in Minnesota, someone left graffiti with the messages “go back to Africa” and “whites only” as well as “Trump train” and “make America great again.”

Barbara Olson, the Osseo Area Schools Community Relations Director, told KARE 11 that the school is investigating the incident to find out who is responsible for the graffiti and promised “swift” action.

“This incident is additional evidence of the pressing need in our schools, our community and our nation to find ways to talk about race constructively and respectfully,” Olson told the television station.

Of course, Trump’s Islamophobic, xenophobic, and racist rhetoric throughout the campaign already had a corrosive effect on students’ speech prior to his election win, according to a Southern Poverty Law Center and Teaching Tolerance report.

The survey, which solicited 5,000 comments from K-12 educators, found that more than one-third of the respondents said they saw a rise in anti-Muslim or anti-immigrant sentiment. At least 1,000 comments referred to Trump as a factor for why Islamophobic and racist rhetoric made its way into class discussion. SPLC notes that it was an unscientific survey of teachers may subscribe to their releases and are more likely to be concerned about these issues.

This behavior extends to teachers as well. A teacher in Arizona, Faye Myles, was the subject of an ACLU complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Education after they allegedly singled out a Muslim refugee student. Myles said that she couldn’t wait for a Trump administration so that the student could get deported. The teacher also allegedly went as far as to say the student would become a terrorist.

Hillary Clinton Is Poised To Win In Florida

Image result for photo of lawrence o'donnell

GRONDA MORIN

(Yes our own Gronda!)

Last night (11/1/16), I was watching the MSNBC TV show, “The Last Word,” hosted by Lawrence O’Donnell.

During the show, it was shared that Moody Analytics, which has always accurately predicted presidential elections outcomes, has Hillary Clinton becoming the U.S. Madam President by 332 electoral votes on November 8.

There was also a guest, Tom Bornier of TargetSmart and William & Mary College, who is stating, that based on the pattern of Florida’s early voting, his company is forecasting that Hillary Clinton will win Florida on November 8 by 8 points.

clinton-good-face-shot-with-friends-and-foes-lead_960

Newsmax published what was said on “The Last Word” on 11/1/16 and here is what the report is claiming:

Here are the results:

Clinton 48 percent.

Trump 40 percent.

“Other polls have shown a tighter race, with election-watchers, including Fox News, moving Florida from leans Democrat to toss-up in recent days.”

clinton-hillary-clinton-donald-trump-third-debate-rex-14

“But TargetSmart’s Tom Bonier told MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell on Tuesday night his firm’s methodology is more accurate because his pollsters call a random sample of the actual 3.6 million voters who already have cast early ballots and ask them how they cast their ballots, as well as obtain demographic data about them.”

“We can construct a sample that’s perfectly representative of the people who’ve voted so far,” Bonier said.”

“Much of Clinton’s rise in support comes from registered Republicans who abandoned the party’s nominee Donald Trump, according to the poll.”

“Clinton has won 28 percent of registered Republicans, while Trump has been able to pick up only 6 percent or registered Democrats, he said.”

“Clinton’s 8 percent lead is a combination of early voters and those who identify as likely voters, but when counting only those who have already cast votes in person or by mail, Clinton leads 17 points, 55-38 percent.”

“Trump’s former rival for the GOP nomination, Sen. Marco Rubio, however is leading Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy, according to the poll:

Rubio: 49 percent.

Murphy: 43 percent.

“Full results of the poll are to be released Wednesday. No margin of error is calculated because the poll used a combined internet/phone survey method.”

clinton win map new

 

CONTINUE READING HERE>>>

 

If the election is really rigged, 33 states are rigged by Republicans

CREDIT: Dylan Petrohilos

THINK PROGRESS

Donald Trump continued on Monday to push his claims that the election is “rigged” against him, falsely suggesting widespread voter fraud and raising the specter of a conspiracy of media outlets scheming to provide negative coverage of his candidacy.

trump-vf

But while he may believe that he only way he could possibly lose would be for for “1.8 million deceased people” to cast ballots against him and an array of other other vote-rigging techniques, many of those who oversee elections in the states have pushed back against his claims.

And most of those chief elections officers are Republicans — some of whom have publicly endorsed Trump.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 26 states have an elected secretary of state or lieutenant governor who oversee elections and 7 more have those officials share authority with a commission or board. Eight more states have a chief official selected by the legislature or governor; the rest are run by an appointed electoral commission of some sort.

In Hawaii, Illinois, New York, and Wisconsin, these are bipartisan boards. In other states, like Maryland and North Carolina, the majority on the boards goes to the current governor’s party.

In all, 29 states have GOP-controlled elections processes, representing 302 electoral votes. 17 states and the District of Columbia have a Democratic-controlled process, representing just 173 electors. The remaining 4 states, with a total of 63 electoral votes, have bipartisan boards.

In other words, if the election were truly “rigged,” it would have to be a Republican rig. Swing states like Florida, Iowa, Nevada, North Carolina, and Ohio are all overseen by GOP chief elections officials.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) and Idaho Secretary of State Lawrence Denney (R) have said they will vote for Trump. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) endorsed Trump in February. Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate (R) even had Trump headline a 2015 campaign fundraiser for his own re-election. It seems unlikely these or other Republicans would secretly be working to rig an election for Hillary Clinton.

If anything, many of these Republican secretaries of state have moved to suppress the votes of Democrats and racial minorities — groups that are among the least likely to vote for Trump.

Perhaps this is why even Trump’s closest advisers are trying to push back against his claims. National campaign co-chair Sam Clovis told the Boston Herald on Tuesday, “I have a lot of faith in the secretaries of states across the country.”

And Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN), Trump’s own running mate, said on Sunday that the campaign would accept the results of the election and that the only “sense of a rigged election” came from the “obvious bias in the national media.”

Josh Israel

Trump Takes A Page From The Kremlin’s Media Playbook

Trump Takes A Page From The Kremlin’s Media Playbook

Sputnik/Kremlin/Alexei Druzhinin via REUTERS

THE NATIONAL MEMO

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s public flirtation with Russian President Vladimir Putin throughout the 2016 campaign has been met with extensive public interest, skepticism, and criticism. Whether definitive ties exist between Trump and the Kremlin remains to be seen, but the degree to which Trump has seemingly co-opted the Kremlin’s propaganda playbook, and the extent to which conservative media has helped Trump execute a Russian-style media strategy built upon the spread of disinformation, is unnerving and portends trouble for the state of objective truth in American democracy.

Red flags have been raised about Trump’s alleged relationship with Russia and Putin: Trump has effusively praised Putin;publicly invited the Russian government to hack Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s emails; deliberately liedthat Russia was not involved in hacking attempts aimed at interfering with the U.S. election; recited Russian state-sponsored misinformation; and allegedly has Russian investments in his businesses.

Further, Trump has managed to exploit the fragmented state of American media to seemingly execute the Russian model of “information warfare,” as outlined by NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence’s Keir Giles. The parallels between the Kremlin’s strategy for planting and spreading disinformation — with the ultimate goal of “undermining the notion of objective truth” — and Trump’s use of conservative media to spread lies and delegitimize traditional news sources are striking and play out in these ways:

Disinformation Initially Placed On “Sock Puppet Websites”

Russian disinformation strategy, which rests on “‘undermin[ing] the very fundamentals of information and credibility that informed debate are supposed to rest upon,’” begins by “placing disinformation” on “sock puppet websites which appear to provide or aggregate news” and “can achieve substantial reach and penetration,” according to Giles.

The primary “sock puppet website” at the heart of Trump’s Kremlin-style media campaign is The Drudge Report, the conservative media news aggregator that traffics in conspiracy theories, lies, and anti-Clinton smears. The Drudge Report has been a stalwart Trump cheerleader and a launching pad for a series of smearcampaigns and conspiratorial claims meant to undermine Clinton, including long-running conspiracies about her health.

Drudge frequently aggregates stories from notoriously right-wing fringe and conspiratorial websites including WorldNetDaily (WND), Zero Hedge, and Gateway Pundit. At its height in July, Drudge had 1.47 billion page views.

As The Washington Post notes:

Drudge is an ideal landing place for hard-hitting opposition research on one of your political opponents. He’s more likely to simply take it and post it rather than looking for where the holes are — as a more mainstream site would do. And, because of Drudge’s traffic, which isn’t just big but also influential (think reporters, cable TV bookers and other campaigns), everyone you want or need to see it will see it.

To underscore The Drudge Report’s jolting parity to Russian “sock puppet websites,” the website has openly embraced Putin himself and has linked to Russian propaganda sites at least 91 times thus far in 2016.

InfoWars, a fringe conspiracy website led by 9/11 truther Alex Jones, has also been the birthplace of nonsense claims and anti-Clinton attacks.

Trump has praised Drudge and InfoWars and repeated their conspiracy theories on the campaign trail, effectively mainstreaming the reputation of otherwise unsound sources and giving widespread credence to a variety of baseless claims. Jones himself once announced on his radio show that it has been “surreal to talk about issues here on air and then word-for-word hear [Donald] Trump say it two days later. It is amazing.”

New Media Exploited To “Plant, Disseminate, And Lend Credibility To Disinformation”

In his report, Giles notes that “pro-Russian trolls and bots” also “exploit specific features of the relationship between traditional and social media in order to both plant, disseminate and lend credibility to disinformation.” They utilize “a range of fora including online discussion boards, Twitter and more” to “act as a force multiplier for driving home the Russian message.”

New and non-traditional online forums like Reddit, 4Chan, and Twitter have served as effective tools for Trump supporters to coalesce and subsequently blast out conspiracy theories and anti-Clinton attacks in unison.

As The New York Times highlighted:

[I]f major social media platforms are where Mr. Trump amplifies his pronouncements, sites like Reddit and 4chan have become a sort of proving ground, where an extreme, Internet-amped version of Mr. Trump’s message is shared and refined.[…] [Reddit] users promote favorable stories, feud with foes and rally support through phone-banking or “Facebanking” — campaigning to Facebook friends. On The Donald, the message is relentless — as are the insults. Opponents are referred to as “cucks,” which is short for “cuckservative,” as in “cuckold” — now used as a derisive term for liberals and moderate Republicans recently popularized by far-right online commentators and white nationalists, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The group shares content and tone with parts of 4chan, the infamous and anonymous message board that traffics in shock, and where Mr. Trump — who regularly scorns “political correctness” — has found substantial, if oblique, support.

Bogus anti-Clinton attacks, like the claim that the Clintons did “the same thing” with their taxes as Trump —who “used a $916 million loss that he reported on his 1995 income tax returns to avoid paying personal federal income taxes for years” — by claiming a “$700,000 loss” on their 2015 tax return, originated on the pro-Trump reddit page “The_Donald” and subsequently rocketed through right-wing media.

Disinformation Then Is “Fed Into The Mainstream News Flow”

After Russian propaganda is placed on aggregate sites and gains traction among these “pro-Russian trolls and bots,” writes Giles, the disinformation is then “fed into the mainstream news flow” and “picked up and reported by reputable traditional media.”

Similarly, disinformation in the American media track often jumps from fringe websites like Drudge and InfoWars (frequently after and precisely because Trump cites them) to Fox News, the unabashedly pro-Trump cable network that nonetheless brands itself as “fair and balanced,” and other right-wing media outlets.

Seemingly attempting to stay in sync with Trump, Fox has mainstreamed fringe right-wing conspiracies and elevated anti-Clinton smears about Clinton’s health (which Trump haspromoted), character, and leadership style (which Trump hasechoed) — while also promoting fringe claims of a “rigged” election (which Trump ishyping), “garbage” online polls that favor Trump (which he loves to cite), allegations that Clinton has her foes murdered (which Trump nodded to), and claimsregarding the Clintons’ personal marriage (which Trump hasfloated), all sourced from the fever-swamps of conservative fringe websites.

As Trump’s own campaign manager Kellyanne Conway oncesaid, “You can draw a straight line from a Drudge link to what gets covered on cable that night.”

Credible Outlets Not Wanting “To Be Left Behind” Repeat The Disinformation

Once disinformation pierces the mainstream news flow “at one or more points,” “others will follow,” Giles notes. “Even in the new climate of awareness, major news media do not wish to be left behind on a story which has made it to the news agenda.”

Credible mainstream American outlets and journalists, perhapsconcerned “they will be labeled ‘biased,’” as claims John A. Tures, adopt stories that often are cultivated in the right-wing echo chamber and given life by Trump. After Clinton’s September pneumonia diagnoses, several mainstream outlets went all-in on hyping how “talk of Clinton’s health [is] no longer just the stuff of conspiracy theorists.” Media outlets have timeand timeand time again parroted right-wing pseudo-scandals about Clinton’s use of a private email server and about the Clinton Foundation (stories that were also hyped by right-wing outlets like Drudge and Fox News).

Conservative shaming of the “liberal media” also is often intended to induce mainstream coverage of an otherwise fringe or unsubstantiated story. Speaking about hacked emails from Clinton campaign manager John Podesta, Fox host Ainsley Earhardt exclaimed, “Do you think the mainstream media will talk about it?” Co-host Steve Doocy added, “Or at least Donald Trump?” Guest Steve Hilton replied, “I don’t think so, so that’s why [Trump] needs to talk about it. Because otherwise, it’s just going to disappear into the ether.”

Ultimate Goal Of “Undermining The Notion Of Objective Truth”

In his assessment of “Russian objectives” behind the Kremlin’s “information warfare” strategy, Giles writes, “it has as one aim undermining the notion of objective truth and reporting being possible at all,” which ultimately “‘undermines the very fundamentals of information and credibility that informed debate are supposed to rest upon.’”

In executing a similar media strategy, Trump and the conservative media have worked to discredit historically legitimate sources of truth. Both by planting, cultivating, and bolstering disinformation and through an unprecedented war on the press, Trump and right-wing media have ushered in an era of post-truth politics where voters have “been successfully persuaded that everything is a lie, so the only political choice you have is to select the fiction that most fits your self-conception,” as explained by journalist Ned Resnikoff.*

Just as how “credibility is not always a metric of success for Russian information warfare campaigns” and that Russian disinformation thrives despite its “lack of plausibility,” as Giles writes, Trump’s promotion of lies and conspiracies are notdepressed by the overwhelming number of fact-checks he receives, precisely because truth may not be the measure of success he is seeking.

Indeed, as CNN’s Brian Stelter warned, “Trump and his supporters … are delegitimizing institutions the United States holds dear” — which, frighteningly, is exactly what Giles notes was the goal of Soviet propaganda campaigns that the current Kremlin “information warfare strategy” is emulating.

Group of nearly 80 evangelical leaders publish letter condemning Trump

Credit: AP

THINK PROGRESS

A diverse group of evangelical Christians unveiled a letter on Thursday condemning Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his candidacy, arguing his campaign “affirms racist elements in white culture.”

The letter, which is signed by nearly 80 prominent evangelical leaders, thinkers, authors, and pastors, decries Trump’s attacks on women, Muslims,immigrants, refugees, and the disabled, saying such vitriol is an affront to the Christian faith. It also highlights how his campaign has energized white nationalists, such as when he was endorsed by leaders of the Ku Klux Klan.

“We cannot ignore this bigotry, set it aside, just focus on other issues, or forget the things Mr. Trump has consistently said and done,” the letter reads. “No matter what other issues we also care about, we have to make it publicly clear that Mr. Trump’s racial and religious bigotry and treatment of women is morally unacceptable to us as evangelical Christians, as we attempt to model Jesus’ command to ‘love your neighbors as yourself.’”

“We have to make it publicly clear that Mr. Trump’s racial and religious bigotry and treatment of women is morally unacceptable to us as evangelical Christians, as we attempt to model Jesus’ command to ‘love your neighbors as yourself.”

Most signers of the letter, which is also published as a Change.org petition, hail from progressive-leaning evangelical communities. They include Rachel Held Evans, a blogger and best-selling author; Tony Campolo, a left-leaning evangelical author and activist; Lisa Sharon Harper, Chief Church Engagement Officer of Jim Wallis’ advocacy group Sojourners; and Shane Claiborne, author and founder of the Christian community the Simple Way.

Despite their liberal leanings, the signers say they reflect a more diverse coalition of evangelicals than what is often portrayed in the media—or courted by politicians such as Trump.

“A significant mistake in American politics is the media’s continued identification of ‘evangelical’ with mostly white, politically conservative, older men,” the statement reads. “We are not those evangelicals.”

The letter appears to be geared toward building an unusual point of solidarity with conservative evangelicals, many of whom are deeply ambivalent about Trump, who has a long history of bumbling attempts to discuss faith. Although 69 percent of white evangelicals now back Trump according to a new PRRI poll, several influential leaders of the Religious Right have been actively hostile to the business mogul’s candidacy. Russell Moore, head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s political arm, has been an especially vocal opponent of Trump’s, arguing he is against “everything [evangelicals] believe.” Meanwhile, the conservative-leaning Christian Post published ascathing criticism of Trump in February—the first time the publication has ever taken a stand on a political candidate—and a Liberty University board member resigned in protest when the school’s president endorsed the Donald.

What’s more, some analysts argue that Trump’s support among evangelicals isunfairly inflated, because polls often fail to account for non-white evangelicals or those who do not identify as “born-again”—in other words, the exact group represented in Thursday’s letter.

“We, undersigned evangelicals, simply will not tolerate the racial, religious, and gender bigotry that Donald Trump has consistently and deliberately fueled, no matter how else we choose to vote or not to vote.”

Interestingly, while the signers had no shortage of criticism for Trump, they avoided endorsing his opponent, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

“Hillary Clinton is both supported and distrusted by a variety of Christian voters,” the statement reads. “We, undersigned evangelicals, simply will not tolerate the racial, religious, and gender bigotry that Donald Trump has consistently and deliberately fueled, no matter how else we choose to vote or not to vote.”

Jack Jenkins

That ‘basket of deplorables’ Clinton mentioned? This is what she was talking about.

CREDIT: AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

THINK PROGRESS

21 percent of Trump supporters think white people don’t have enough influence.

Weeks after Hillary Clinton notoriously said that half of opponent Donald Trump’s supporters could be placed into a “basket of deplorables,” a new poll reinforces the point she was making.

According to a Langer Research Associates survey, 38 percent of Trump supporters think minorities have too much influence in American society. Despite the fact that white men constitute 80 percent of Congress while only comprising 31 percent of the country’s population, the survey found that 21 percent of Trump supporters actually think white people don’t have enough influence.

On the other hand, 67 percent of Clinton supporters think minorities have too little influence, and just seven percent think whites don’t have enough.

Trump and Clinton supporters also diverge in their views on how much power women currently have in America. Twenty-one percent of Trump supporters think women have too little power, compared to 58 percent of Clinton supporters.

“Controlling for demographics, partisanship, ideology and presidential approval, seeing too little influence for whites and men and too much influence for minorities and women independently predicts support for Trump,” a summary of the poll says. “Other than disapproval of Barack Obama, which is by far the best predictor of support for Trump, views of group influence have a similar effect as partisanship, ideology and race.”

Polls conducted earlier this year found that 65 percent of Trump supporters believe Obama is a Muslim; 59 percent believe Obama wasn’t born in the United States; 40 percent believe blacks are more “lazy” than whites; 31 percent support banning homosexuals from the country; 16 percent believe whites are a superior race; and 20 percent disagree with Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed Southern slaves.

For context, Clinton’s comment about “the basket of deplorables” — those with “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, [and] Islamophobic ” views — was directed toward 50 percent of Trump supporters. That’s a greater percentage than those who believe minorities currently have too much power according to the new poll, but a lesser percentage than those who believe Obama is a Muslim — a quickly discredited conspiracy theory that nonetheless brought Trump to national political prominence.

Aaron Rupar