Saturday, September 24, 2016

The making of the American Media Party candidate Donald Trump

A "medium" (plural "media") is a person who claims the spirits of the dead are transmitting information through him or her to the living. The profit-making industries which create similarly reliable entertaining informational content for the masses are often also called "the media."

A "party" is a gathering of persons for the purpose of enjoying themselves thoroughly and without restraint.

The year 2016 will be remembered as the year "the media" became the American Media Party replacing the Republican Party.
I started my adult working life as a journalist practicing what I understood was the profession of "journalism." From the Wikipedia entry first paragraph as of September of 2016 (emphasis added):
Journalism is the work and distribution of reports on the interaction of events, facts, ideas, and people that are the "news of the day" and that informs society to at least some degree. The word applies to the occupation (professional or not), the methods of gathering information, and the organizing literary styles.
At the time I believed true journalists worked for "the press", meaning the newspaper business. The more recently created radio and TV news broadcast employees were not really "journalists" in our opinion precisely because, as Wikipedia still includes at the beginning of its entry, the product of the work must have an "organizing literary style."

If you type "literary" into the Wikipedia search it will take you to the "Literature" entry which begins with the sentence:
"Literature, in its broadest sense, is any single body of written works."
Dictionary.com defines "literary" as:
"...pertaining to or of the nature of books and writings, especially those classed as literature."
Our objective as journalists was to provide as complete a written "report" on "on the interaction of events, facts, ideas, and people" as we could.

We followed the AP Style Book rules, meaning we had to begin with a short paragraph that summarized that news story, a descriptive paragraph that could stand alone. Each additional paragraph should add details in order of importance offering the reader a more thorough understanding. You did this because you knew the hamfisted person doing the page makeup would shorten your story from the bottom up until it fit the space available.

Our hope was that the reader would read the story, think about it, read it again, and contemplate it further. We thought this was important stuff because, again from Wikipedia:
Access to freely available information gathered by independent and competing journalistic enterprises with transparent editorial standards can enable citizens to effectively participate in the political processes.
The key phrases in that paragraph are "independent and competing" and "transparent editorial standards."

The latter phrase does not mean "fair and balanced" nor does it require "equal time." These concepts came about with the advent of television which for decades was operated as a government licensed near monopoly. Because politicians (and murderers) could speak directly to the audience, during that monopoly period the government license tried to prevent "favoritism" in the political arena.

We "real" journalists felt strongly that what we must not do is provide politicians or murderers with a platform from which they could present a self-created image of themselves. If you did that you were not only not independent, you had no editorial standards at all.

Except that....

In 1960 we watched with interest the Kennedy-Nixon debates. Television was influencing the election. Here's an interesting fact about that debate:
The Quemoy-Matsu issue was first raised in the second debate on October 7, 1960.  Disagreement between the candidates was instant.  Unlike any other single issue, Quemoy and Matsu continued to be a bone of contention well into the third and fourth debates on October 13 and 21, 1960.
If you were alive back then, you might recognize the terms "Quemoy" and "Matsu" but probably not. Most certainly, if you were born after 1950 it is highly unlikely that you would recognize those terms. Even back then I wondered how "Quemoy" and "Matsu" got to be the central foreign policy issue of that debate. Why weren't we talking more about Cuba?

The moderator of that debate was Bill Shadel of ABC News.  There was a panel of correspondents: Frank McGee, NBC News; Charles Von Fremd, CBS News; Douglass Cater, Reporter magazine; Roscoe Drummond, New York Herald Tribune.

Shadel began in WWII with radio and by 1954 was the first host of the Sunday-morning talk show catering to politicians "Face the Nation." McGee's career was also in broadcast news. Von Fremd was a sportscaster before joining CBS news.

Cater did do some print journalism, sort of, before finally succumbing to the siren call of politics joining the Johnson Administration.

The only committed journalist was Drummond who held a Bachelor's degree in Journalism degree from Syracuse University and worked his entire life for "the press" including The Christian Science Monitor, the New York Herald Tribune, and the Los Angeles Times.

Exactly 192 days after the first debate the Bay of Pigs Invasion was launched. The funding and planning for the invasion began about six months before the debates. Nixon was Vice- President, Jack Kennedy was a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

In order to assure an informed American population, they debated about Quemoy and Matsu, two meaningless islands off the coast of China. (Of course, unlike the American public both candidates and the Soviet Union did know in advance about the proposed Cuba invasion, the latter as reported in 2000 by the Washington Post and discussed here by John Kenneth Galbraith.)

So much for televised debates informing the American public.

From someone who was better informed than I was in 1960, here's another tidbit written before the debates. It addresses my confusion back then about whether television was going to improve or degrade the quality of American politics and government:


It's the 21st Century. And after carefully including the word "literary" in its defining paragraph, Wikipedia offers this final sentence:  "Journalistic media include: print, television, radio, Internet, and, in the past, newsreels." Oh really! What is the organizing literary style of a newsreel ... or a tweet?

And so immediately after pointing out the need for "transparent editorial standards" Wikipedia barfs out the following:
The role and status of journalism, along with that of the mass media, has undergone profound changes over the last two decades with the advent of digital technology and publication of news on the Internet. This has created a shift in the consumption of print media channels, as people increasingly consume news through e-readers, smartphones, and other electronic devices, challenging news organizations to fully monetize their digital wing, as well as improvise on the context in which they publish news in print. Notably, in the American media landscape, newsrooms have reduced their staff and coverage as traditional media channels, such as television, grapple with declining audiences. For instance, between 2007 and 2012, CNN edited its story packages into nearly half of their original time length.

This compactness in coverage has been linked to broad audience attrition, as a large majority of respondents in recent studies show changing preferences in news consumption. The digital era has also ushered in a new kind of journalism in which ordinary citizens play a greater role in the process of news making, with the rise of citizen journalism being possible through the Internet. Using video camera equipped smartphones, active citizens are now enabled to record footage of news events and upload them onto channels like YouTube, which is often discovered and used by mainstream news media outlets. Meanwhile, easy access to news from a variety of online sources, like blogs and other social media, has resulted in readers being able to pick from a wider choice of official and unofficial sources, instead of only from traditional media organizations.
I'm sorry, but folks there is a difference between journalism with its independence, literary style, and transparent editorial standards and the "mass media." Let's don't confuse the journalism profession with the "medium" as she or he offers up information and images created by ghosts. Because while the medium - the mass media - might choose to deliver journalistic content, the goal "to fully monetize" by providing "half" the information and use "a variety of online sources" prevents the use of journalists and journalistic content.

Let's again consider this observed in September 1960 by someone watching what television was doing to the political system:
If [television] drives politics toward theatrics, so that the number of politicians who imagine themselves entertainers swells to match the number of entertainers who imagine themselves politicians;...if, by all these lapses and deceits, a whole people lets itself become mentally trapped in a suffocating kind of isolation booth from which no sound can be heard but the voice of the huckster....
    - Emmet John Hughes, September 25, 1960, The New York Times Magazine
Today the so called "news" media now delivers Donald Trump's tweets and discusses them as if they are news. The so-called "news" media now send videographers so they can deliver video of Donald Trump's soundbites and discusses them as if they are news.

As one Deadline Hollywood writer noted 54 days before the 2016 Presidential Election:
A year ago, when Donald Trump began to confiscate the primaries, a network news chief made this admission to me: “We do not yet know how to cover a career sociopath but we will figure it out.” A year later, confronting the final seven weeks of the campaign, he admits he still hasn’t figured it out, nor have his competitors.

Trump continues to hijack the news cycle, taking shrewd advantage of the haphazard way Americans now get their news. Voters no longer watch television news or read newspapers (remember them?). The younger demo can’t even depend upon Jon Stewart anymore (Comedy Central was once their favored news source). The most important repository of news lies buried in Facebook’s algorithms and its “trending topics,” which John Oliver facetiously calls the “multiplatform content generation distribution network.”

One challenge: The old-fashioned concept of “equal time” has been demolished by the Clinton-Trump campaign. Now the argument has shifted to “false balance” — whether reporters are distorting facts in their futile effort to provide two sides to every story. Is there a way to provide “balance” in depicting Trump’s Mexican foray, for example? All this liberates Facebook to pick up Trumpian fantasies, landing the news cycle in click-bait heaven. At least it’s “trending.”

In past generations, newspapers were depended on to convey the nuances as well as the news, but their fate is reflected in the fact that the Newspaper Association of America is changing its name to the News Media Alliance. The American Society of Newspaper Editors is now the American Society of News, as reported in the New York Times (which still calls itself a newspaper). The Times itself is fiercely cutting its staff and placing ever greater emphasis on digital coverage and videos of occasionally marginal quality.
Donald Trump, the reality TV show star, discovered people were having a gossip party on the internet. "Gossip" means "idle talk or rumor" which is about as far away from journalism as one can get. 

Further he was aware that "news division" air time was used by TV and radio to cater to that gossip party, that "talk shows" were pretending to be "news shows", and most particularly that first thing in the morning on ABC, NBC, and CBS filled the time with talk shows when he could take control of the day's "news" narrative. 

And the networks redefined what "voting" means - "American Idol" began the process of devaluing the idea of the right to vote. You "see what you like" (all carefully managed to achieve appeal, not substance) and you vote.

And so Trump went all in - he joined the American Media Party. Why not? He certainly had no real affiliation with any real political party. But in doing this, he did "confiscate" the Republican Party.

Whether he wins the Presidency or not, he has demonstrated that the American Media Party is where "it's at" - as a fun political party it's where successfully competing requires unfiltered expressions of bigotry and where offering personal insults can be part of the entertainment required to hold the attention of the public, which is made up of the potential voters.

By turning the election into an appeal to bigotry and gossip, no Presidential candidate has more successfully thwarted the desires of our founding fathers to avoid factions since Andrew Jackson, an advocate for slavery and genocide, both of which - again slavery and genocide - were at least as popular with American voters then as Trump's "wall" is with today's "Basket of Deplorables" white voters.

The craft of journalism justified calling the press America's "Fourth Estate." There can be no "Fourth Estate" called "the media" without journalism. We have become what Emmet John Hughes feared in 1960 the people who have "become mentally trapped in a suffocating kind of isolation booth from which no sound can be heard but the voice of the huckster."

In 2016 we have become what our Founding Fathers rightly feared most - a democracy. In doing so, do we risk losing the Republic? Or have we simply created another "political party" called The American Media Party?

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Red State, Blue State? Not really. America is mostly Red Counties

Is this the Red State, Blue State map you're familiar with:
Probably not. In my latest take on the status of the 2016 Presidential Election based on polling and other knowledge, I generated a map that looks more like what you regularly see in the all wise media:

Click on any image to see a larger version!
Now there is nothing inherent wrong with this map as it is designed to show the likelihood of a candidate getting Electoral College votes.

The problem is this mapping method leaves us thinking there are actually Red States and Blue States that are communities of Republicans or Democrats, Conservatives or Liberals.

One way to dispel that kind of thinking is to consider the 2000 Presidential Election actual results by county. Like states, counties do vary in size based on geography and population. Even so there is likely to be a truer sense of "community" at the county level. Watch the 2000 election map below, particularly the "Left  Coast" states plus Michigan, Illinois, New York and Pennsylvania. Notice how those deep blues, and reds but particularly the blues, tend to disappear:

Keep in mind that the 2000 Election occurred before the "dot-com bubble" burst. The timing of the economic 8+ months recession was at the beginning of President George W. Bush's term of office, after folks voted.

So the counties map does not reflect the human distress resulting from the economic collapse that occurred near the end of Bush's term.

But the point here is the colored map.

Let's examine the 2000 results in a few states to get a clearer picture of the truth starting with what we think of as Blue States:


From a geographic perspective, California and New York were "Red States" in the 2000 election.



Let's take a look at another state, Illinois. Al Gore won the state with 55% of the vote. But that darker blue area near the upper right is Cook County/Chicago which represented 39% of the vote. Outside the darker blue blob, George W. Bush received 52% of the vote.



Consider Pennsylvania. Al Gore won the state with 51% of the vote. That dark blue blob at the lower right is Philadelphia. Outside the blob, George W. bush received 50.1% of the vote.

In other words, those of us who live in large "Blue States" really derive our "color" from the largest of urban areas, the small blue blobs.

The question for we Blue State Democrats (and "traditional conservative" Republicans) is have we deliberately chosen to ignore what's happened to people in the "Red Counties" in our own states since 2000? Have we chosen to think of the "Red population" as "fly over states" when in fact they are our neighbors in the next county down the highway? If so, did we do that somewhat arrogantly because we disdain their world view?

And in doing so, is this why we are surprised that Donald Trump might win the "Swing States"  and the Presidency?

When you look at the 2012 Presidential Election map by county the United States appears far more "Red" than we have allowed ourselves to understand, particularly all three "Left Coast" states - California, Oregon, and Washington - plus Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania. In other words we have large "Blue" urban cities and then there is rest of the United States in which, as the convincing fictional con man Harold Hill might today note, there are many folks in trouble, even here ...no particularly here... in California:


Click on the 2012 map to see a really large version which may change your perspective on American politics. Because after this election we need to recognize some American issues we've chosen to ignore.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

How does one persuade potential voters who still have no strong opinion about Clinton and Trump at this point in time?

Click on image to see a larger version!

This map represents my opinion on the status of the 2016 Presidential Election today.1 Click on it to see a larger image.

Absent some major tragedy, in November Donald Trump will win 180 Electoral College votes from 22 states and Hillary Clinton will win 192 Electoral College votes from 15 states.

It takes 270 Electoral College votes to win the election, so they both will have to continue to campaign right up to November 8. At this point in time, undecided voters in Maine, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Florida, Wisconsin, Iowa, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada will determine the outcome of the 2016 Presidential Election.

Hillary Clinton has a somewhat tenuous lead in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Donald Trump has a somewhat tenuous lead in Arizona, Ohio, and one Maine congressional district. As long as they continue to actively campaign, either could screw up and lose those states because enough voters are uncertain about their choice.

In other words, even though the choice is between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and even though their policy proposals, styles, and personalities are clearly and radically different, some voters are undecided. And some are uncertain.
How exactly does one persuade people who have no firm opinion at this point in time?

__________________________
Footnotes:
1This week's "not really news" headline story from all the major press that Ford is planning to move its small car production to Mexico, outside the U.S. along with all the other American car manufacturers, occurred while Trump was in Michigan. Whether this reminder of an announcement first made in 2015 will affect Clinton's hold on Michigan's 16 Electoral College votes will be seen in future polls. It's the kind of story that places Michigan in the category of "Clinton's to lose" states.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Our Irish and French Catholic great-grandparents: Reflections on multiculturalism and the Alt Right

Thanks to Donald Trump, many Americans are learning about the so-called "Alt-Right" or Alternative Right for the first time.

In summary it is a political philosophy that embraces American Ethnic Eurocentric Nationalism. It not quite as narrow minded in definition regarding which peoples are "acceptable" to real Americans as was the case in various periods between 1800 - 2000.

Nonetheless the 2016 Alt-Right advocates legal discrimination based on ethnicity and race. And their views have been almost fully incorporated into American law in a reprehensible way, though most Ethnic European-Americans don't know about the facts because they don't scroll across internet cat videos.

Before going any further I need to disclose that both my wife and I come from immigrant families. Both of my paternal great-grandfathers emigrated from Ireland and my wife's paternal great-grandfathers were French. They were all hated Catholic immigrants.

Or course, we both have family trees that contain pre-Revolutionary War protestant immigrants that came from Europe, descendants of which were undoubtedly among those who hated the Catholic immigrants as indicated in these images from years past:



In other words, we're typical white Americans - all members of immigrants' families according to our family trees.

It's just that now its ok to have any kind of European ethnic background. That's the level of progress we've made as of the beginning of the 21st Century.

Before going any further, we need to define certain words as I use them rather than confuse my meaning with those words as other folks are throwing around as if that they fully understand:
  • bigotry - the stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one's own.
  • prejudice - a preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.
  • discrimination - the treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit.
"Bigotry" is tough to get rid of. The word's origin is from the French  bigoterie meaning "sanctimoniousness."

Almost every religion has a core certainty that it is the only one true religion and all others are false. That core certainty means all believers are by definition bigots. Almost every ideology has a core certainty that it is the only benevolent ideology and all others are malevolent. That core certainty means all believer are by definition bigots.

You may think you're free of bigotry. But consider that even though "democracy" is a concept that literally means "government rule by the people", one's belief that democracy is the ideal form of government compared to all other forms of government would be considered a belief in an ideology.

"Prejudice" is something almost no human can avoid. If you think you don't ever "prejudge" based upon appearances you likely are delusional. You just can't consider eating insects - it's eewww. It's a preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.

"Discrimination", on the other hand, is a behavior and it can be avoided. But Americans not only doesn't avoid it, as a society we practice it with institutional vigor.

Let's return to the Alt Right or Ethnic Eurocentric Nationalism. The basics are described in What’s the alt-right? A primer. After you've read it, you likely will have a problem. Can you remember the definition of bigotry - the stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one's own?

In the linked article (which you should read), a number of Alt Right advocates are listed. Consider carefully this description:
Sam Francis

An influential conservative thinker cast out of the movement's mainstream — and fired from his Washington Times column — for speaking at the 1994 American Renaissance conference. Subsequently, he became a sort of martyr for nationalist writers and thinkers. Throughout his career, he argued that cultural liberalism was not as popular or inevitable as its promoters claimed.

"Whites need to form their racial consciousness in conformity not only with what we now know about the scientific reality of race but also with the moral and political traditions of Western Man-White Man," Francis wrote in 2005. "The purpose of white racial consciousness and identity is not simply to serve as a balance against the aggression and domination of other races but also to preserve, protect, and help revitalize the legacy of the civilization that our own ancestors created and handed down to us, for its own sake, because it is ours, and because, by the standard of the values and ideals we as a race and a civilization have articulated, it is better."
The article says that the Alternative Right "has been seeping into American politics for years as a far-right option for conservatives." But that is the view of young political wonks. In fact in one form or another Ethnic Eurocentric Nationalism has been seeping out of the American populous for over two centuries.

It can be different.

Despite the Statue of Liberty bronze plaque...



...the United States at no time has made it a human right to migrate into the country. Indeed, most countries have not.

But at the beginning of the 21st Century, the country of Argentina adopted a law that reads as follows:
The right to migrate is essential and inalienable to all persons and the Republic of Argentina shall guarantee it based on principles of equality and universality.
In fact, Argentina's Law 25.871 is broader in scope than the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, the principal international human rights migration treaty, of which Argentina is a signatory.

What you should know regarding the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families is that no migrant-receiving state in Western Europe has ratified the Convention. The United States is not even a signatory that has yet to ratify just as Americans would prefer.

In fact the U.S. policy is defined by the fact it has the largest immigration detention system in the world according to the Global Detention Project which indicated that in 2013 the total number of immigration detainees was 440,557. You can download and read the Global Detention Project's 2016 report Immigration Detention in the United States.

Immigration detention in the United States began in 1890s at Ellis Island and after 1924 Ellis Island became primarily a detention and deportation processing station. Mandatory detention was officially authorized by the federal government in 1996 with the enactment of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRAIRA). From 1996 to 1998, the number of immigrants held in detention at any one time increased from 8,500 to 16,000. and by 2008 this number increased to more than 30,000.

And now, in 2016, the Land of the Free has not only the highest incarceration rate in the world for its own population imprisoning around 22 percent of the world's prisoners but it also has the highest "detention" rate in the world for immigrants.

In fact, if one examines the incarceration statistics for our own citizens...


...in the context of also considering our detention of immigrants, one really might think that some of the Alt Right ideology of embracing Ethnic Eurocentric Nationalism has already been implemented by Democrats and Republicans alike.

If a visitor from space checked out Germany in 1942 and then returned to the U.S. 75 years later as part of a study of human progress, it might conclude that at least white humans have more or less reduced the systematic mass killing of races and ethnic groups we don't like, but we are still putting them in prisons in the highest possible numbers we can get away with. The space visitor would see videos like this but then it's from the BBC:


Unfortunately, that space visitor would be right with regard to culturally Eurocentric Americans, which includes most of us white folks not in prison. In fact one might almost think the Alt Right represents our dominant ideological view based upon our prisons-for-non-whites and immigration detention systems.

Golly, an objective look at the institutions of government across the United States by that space alien might easily lead to the conclusion that elected government officials in the United States have continued to work hard to contain multiculturalism in line with Sam Francis' articulated values:
The purpose of white racial consciousness and identity is not simply to serve as a balance against the aggression and domination of other races but also to preserve, protect, and help revitalize the legacy of the civilization that our own ancestors created and handed down to us, for its own sake, because it is ours, and because, by the standard of the values and ideals we as a race and a civilization have articulated, it is better.
So where is all this expansion of 'multiculturalism" that the Alt Right and Donald Trump want us to fear??? We've been electing people who have been doing just fine locking up in cages all those folks we don't like.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Yes! Racists, sexists, homophobics, xenophobics, Islamaphobics are in the American Basket of Deplorables

"I think we know what we're up against. We do, don't we? Donald Trump has pledged to appoint Supreme Court justices who will overturn marriage equality, and if you have read about the ones he says he's likely to support, he's not kidding. In fact, if you look at his running mate, his running mate signed a law that would have allowed businesses to discriminate against LGBT Americans. And there's so much more than I find deplorable in his campaign: the way that he cozies up to white supremacists, makes racist attacks, calls women pigs, mocks people with disabilities -- you can't make this up. He wants to round up and deport 16 million people, calls our military a disaster. And every day he says something else which I find so personally offensive, but also dangerous. You know, the idea of our country is so rooted in continuing progress that we make together. Our campaign slogan is not just words. We really do believe that we are stronger together. We really do believe that showing respect and appreciation for one another lifts us all up."

"I know there are only 60 days left to make our case -- and don't get complacent, don't see the latest outrageous, offensive, inappropriate comment and think, well, he's done this time. We are living in a volatile political environment. You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic -- you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people -- now 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive hateful mean-spirited rhetoric. Now, some of those folks -- they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America."

"But the other basket -- and I know this because I see friends from all over America here -- I see friends from Florida and Georgia and South Carolina and Texas -- as well as, you know, New York and California -- but that other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they're just desperate for change. It doesn't really even matter where it comes from. They don't buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won't wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they're in a dead-end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well."


- Hillary Clinton, September 9, 2016
From these three complex paragraphs taken from Hillary Clinton's speech,  the underlined phrase triggered the pro-Trump right wing talking heads to attack her. But many in the mainstream media have attacked Clinton for saying what she said. What is that all about?

The word "deplorable" has three meanings, though which is the first definition is not consistent across dictionaries: "causing or being a subject for censure, reproach, or disapproval" or "very bad in a way that causes shock, fear, or disgust" or "lamentable, causing or being a subject for grief or regret."

The anecdotal photographic evidence from the media is overwhelming, such as....


Are we now saying racism is not deplorable?

Are we now saying that sexist behavior is not deplorable?

Are we now saying that homophobia is not deplorable.

Are we now saying that xenophobic hatred is not deplorable?

Are we now saying that Islamaphobia is not deplorable?

Are not Americans who hold these views deplorable in that they are a proper subject for censure, reproach, or disapproval?

Is it not lamentable, meaning regrettable and unfortunate that there are still Americans who hold these hate-based views?

Factually it is more than fair to say that half of Trump supporters are in the "Basket of Deplorables", that Trump knows it and is playing to their hate and ignorance. We're talking about this guy:

Most certainly if the person he shot was black or a Muslim or a Feminist or a transgendered person or a Mexican immigrant, he would not lose voters who are in his "Basket of Deporables" and we, all of us including members of the press, know it.

Let's be clear about the numbers. Most polls indicate that Trump has support from 40%± of registered voters.

Recent data indicates there are 147,000,000± registered voters in the United States.

That means that Trump supporters total 58,800,000±.

It is fair to say that 29,400,000± are in that "Basket of Deplorables." That's 12%± of the 245,000,000± Americans age 18 and older.

Does any reasonably aware American not believe that far more than 12% of the American adult population is racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, and/or Islamaphobic?

Extensive studies1 indicate that over half of trump supporters hold racist views. Only a journalist who lives in a protected bubble would deny that half of Trump's supporters are racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, and/or Islamaphobic.

What from Clinton's speech the press ought to be repeating over and over again are these words about the Deplorables:
[Trump] has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people -- now 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive hateful mean-spirited rhetoric.
But instead they give Trump a pass probably because she has refused to cater to them. In not catering to them, Clinton has said silently that the hundreds of Matt Lauer's in the mainstream press are fundamentally incompetent and ignorant, and in their own way deplorable. She is saying that most of the mainstream media hire entertainers, not fact nerds.

Maybe it's hard to keep in mind that NBC made Donald Trump a viable candidate with a profitable TV show based upon Trump discrediting and humiliating participants. Why would any kind, caring person trust the television networks?

Yes! Racists, sexists, homophobics, xenophobics, and Islamaphobics are in the American Basket of Deplorables that make up at least half of Donald Trump's supporters.

__________________________
Footnotes:
1Slate magazine offered this research "When pollsters and researchers want to measure racial bias, they don’t ask if respondents are “racist”; the stigma of being a racist is strong enough that most people won’t answer honestly, to say nothing of the fact that racial prejudice exists on a continuum. A binary answer doesn’t capture the complexity of bias and bigotry. Instead, they ask proxy questions that try to capture attitudes associated with racism. One such question—asked in multiple surveys by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic polling firm—is whether respondents believe President Obama was born in the United States and whether they believe he’s a Muslim. These questions begin to scratch the surface of racial bias. And what are the results? In one survey, two-thirds of Republicans with a favorable opinion of Donald Trump said that Obama is a Muslim, and 59 percent said he wasn’t born in the United States.

"There’s other data too. In June, Reuters measured the racial attitudes of Clinton, Trump, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich supporters. A significant number of supporters for each candidate voiced negative attitudes about black Americans. But Trump backers stood out in their animus. Nearly 50 percent said blacks were “more violent” than whites; almost as many said that blacks were “more criminal than whites.” More than 40 percent said that blacks were “more rude” than whites, and more than 30 percent said that blacks were “lazier” than whites.

"Perhaps the best data on questions of race and Trump comes from political scientist Jason McDaniel of San Francisco State University and Sean McElwee, a research associate at Demos, a left-leaning think tank. Using the 2016 pilot of the American National Election Study, conducted in January, they drill down on racial attitudes among Trump supporters. Given what we already know, their results shouldn’t come as a shock. More than 40 percent of all Republicans and more than 60 percent of Trump supporters say that Barack Obama is a Muslim. Compared with those who backed other candidates in the GOP primary, Trump supporters have cooler feelings toward blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, and LGBTQ Americans, and warmer feelings toward whites. By sizable margins, according to McElwee’s analysis of ANES, Trump supporters are more likely than non-Trump supporters to believe that blacks, Hispanics, and Muslims are lazier and more violent than whites. More than 60 percent of Trump supporters believe black people are more violent than whites; nearly 50 percent of non-Trump Republicans say this. More than 70 percent of Trump supporters believe Muslim people are more violent than whites; roughly 60 percent of non-Trump Republicans say this. These are deplorable views, and they represent the consensus opinion not just of Trump supporters but of all Republicans in the survey. If the study is at all reflective of the population at large on this score, we’re going to need a bigger basket."

Salon offered statistical resources for its article Anatomy of a Trump voter: How racism propelled Trump to the Republican nomination

In an earlier Salon article, during the primaries, from detailed data we are told: "On just about every measure, support for Trump increased along with the measured racial animus. As the chart below shows, increased levels of racial stereotyping among white respondents — as measured by belief that black people, Muslims and Hispanics are “lazy” or “violent” — strongly increases support for Trump, even after controlling for other factors. The opposite is true, however, when it comes to support for Marco Rubio. Among white respondents, support for Rubio decreases with belief in racial stereotypes."

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Fear of an "ageism" charge caused the lost sense of community in political parties in the internet age

The 21st Century internet could permit potential "no party" candidates to use social media and "crowdfunding" to create a community of Millennials to succeed in a "top 2" primary system.


This post must start with a set of definitions:
  • Millennials: born 1981-2000, this year ages 16-35
  • Generation X: born 1965-1980, this year ages 36-51
  • Baby Boomers: born 1946-1964, this year ages 62-70
  • Silent Generation: born 1928-1945, this year ages 71-88
The edges of the birth years can be a bit blurry, but most have settled on these definitions. 

The Pew Research Center provided the survey data shown in the table above in A Different Look at Generations and Partisanship.

What the data in the left column of chart shows is that about half of Millennials simply cannot identify with political parties.

Unfortunately, the discussion of the numbers in the article tends to focus on the right column of charts, probably because it is an Presidential election year.

But the fact is the discussion ignores the fact that the Millennials are faced with a Presidential election in which both candidates are of their grandparents generation and, let's face it, it is a rare person who identifies themselves with their grandparents. Pointing out the obvious cannot be done in a politically correct environment with fear of being accused of ageism.

So I expect to get crap from people for being ageist.

But let's get one fact out of the way, here. When I was 16 and older, beginning with the election of Jack Kennedy,no one who was born in my grandparents' generation ever ran for the Presidency. Here's the chart.


Here are the facts about the ten Presidents who served since I was a teen.

Five were "my parents age", the rest were younger. Three were younger than me.

Here are the facts regarding Presidents since my oldest granddaughter was a teen.

Obama was born six months before her father was born.

The second President in her experience will either be Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump who are old enough to be her grandparents, something that was never true for me.

Yes, Bernie Sanders is older and excited many in the Millennial generation.

But the focus here is the potential demise of the two political parties. Guess what - Bernie Sanders doesn't belong to either party - effectively he is an independent who, to use the Pew Study phrase, "leans Democratic" like the Millennials. So Millennials could relate to him and they don't relate to the political parties.

Does the lack of feeling a part of the political party communities matter? You bet it does. Let's look at the leading edge of what it likely will mean for the future.

I'm a Californian. California is the first state to eliminate the partisan primary.

Also here in California, Governor Jerry Brown is 78, Senator Diane Feinstein is 83, Senator Barbara Boxer is 75, and our most famous member of Congress Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is 76.  The Chairman of the California Democratic Party former Congressman John Burton is 83.

In California back in 2012, Millennials were 29% of the population, Gen-X'ers wer 21.8% of the population, Baby Boomers were 23.4% of the population, and the Silent Generation was 9.4% of the population. All people who hold power in the Democratic Party are of the Silent Generation.

That is embarrassing - we have a non-representative government - literally a gerontocracy meaning per Wikipedia "a form of oligarchical rule in which an entity is ruled by leaders who are significantly older than most of the adult population."

"Coincidentally" recently in California we have done away with party primaries except for the President. That is because the strongest political movement in the state is the Independent Voter Project (IVP). Folks in other states should get to know this logo: .

From the IVP website:
IVP conducted large scale, in-election studies during the 2006 and 2008 California elections, in which a broad spectrum of common political communication strategies were tested against alternative approaches in an effort to learn how to increase voter participation amongst independent and “non base” partisan voters. In doing so, IVP identified 3 million “non-base” voters in California as “high-value” communication targets.

But, perhaps the most important lesson learned through this process was that political consultants were severely hampered by a tendency to look at non-base voters through their own partisan lens. In one experiment, IVP took identical information and transcripts from two focus groups and asked a Republican pollster and a Democratic pollster to analyze the data and write a summary. The pollsters reached opposite conclusions from the exact same information, conclusions that matched their respective political preferences.

At the conclusion of the 2008 election, IVP initiated a plan to place a Nonpartisan Open Primary proposal on the 2010 primary ballot....
I'm sure none of this had to do with the generation gap between age 65+ candidates and the largest generation, the Millennials. But whatever the underlying cause, the result was Proposition 14, the California Top Two Primaries Act.

Per Wikipedia the Act "consolidated all primary elections for a particular office into an election with one ballot that would be identical to all voters, regardless of their party preferences. The two candidates with the most votes in the primary election would then be the only candidates who would run in the general election, regardless of their party affiliation."

(To get a feel for the reasons for voter support for the Act, consider A QUIET REVOLUTION: The Early Successes of California’s Top Two Nonpartisan Primary.)

Slowly that half of the Millennials who do not consider themselves part of either community known as the Democratic Party and the Republican Party will take control of who gets to be on the General Election ballots in California - the largest state in population with the largest number of electors in the Presidential Electoral College. At some time in the future the top two candidates for a statewide office will both not identify with a party.

Which leads to the point of this post. The 21st Century internet could permit potential "no party" candidates to use social media and "crowdfunding" to create a community of Millennials and Gen-X'ers to succeed in a "top 2" primary system.

If, in the end, this results in the failure of political parties, they will really have no one to blame but themselves. Despite his being of the grandparent generation, reality show star and millionaire Donald Trump has already demonstrated that social media can be used effectively to bypass traditional party mechanisms and the news media.

The legal structure forced him to operate within the party system. His approach has been primitive and he used his own money, but he beat a lineup of traditional professional politicians for the Republican nomination partly because the Republican party foolishly created a far less "party oriented" community to participate in the nomination process in response to 21st Century Tea Party/religious right pressures.

Pressures from Millennial-supported socialist Bernie Sanders are forcing the same opening of the process in the Democratic Party. But that is already too late in California.

The California Democratic Party is only nominally in control of the election to replace the retiring U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer because both General Election candidates are Democrats. But their party affiliation predates the California Top Two Primaries Act.

This is the first statewide election under the "top 2" system and the party system is starting to crack. The California Republican Party has essentially collapsed.

The "top 2" system has forced a division within the Democratic Party that erupted publicly when Democratic President Barack Obama endorsed Democrat Attorney General Kamala Harris, a black woman. Her opponent Latino Democrat Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez' response should be a warning to the Democratic Party that the biggest controversy in the future will be the Party itself:
“I believe that California voters are deeply concerned about the entrenched political establishment which has failed to work for them. Yet, it has been clear for some time that the same political establishment would rather have a coronation instead of an election for California's next U.S. Senator,” Sanchez said in a statement released by her campaign Tuesday evening.

Sanchez has said for months that the party has favored Harris since she jumped into the race in early 2015, when Sen. Barbara Boxer announced she was retiring. Gov. Jerry Brown and the California Democratic Party already have endorsed Harris.

"California's Senate seat does not belong to the political establishment — it belongs to the People of California, and I believe California voters will make their own independent choice for U.S. Senate in November,” Sanchez's statement said.
Baby Boomers Harris and Sanchez are in the age group 45-64 as represented on the chart below:


While they should be somewhat more internet sophisticated than Trump, they are not from the 40% "no party" Gen'Xer's nor 49% the Millennials. And the latter group are well over 50% of the social network users.

Community is a matter of identity and perception. And make no mistake about it, political parties are communities starting at the local level.

The evolving problem is unprecedented in the past century as can be seen by this chart:


In 1940 only 20% of Americans thought of themselves as not being a party member. Today that number is double and even the generation that most  identifies with parties is 29% "no party" and that generation is dying off.

The IVN is proposing a California state constitutional amendment that would create a single nonpartisan presidential ballot so that all California voters have an opportunity to cast a ballot for the candidate of their choice, regardless of their political affiliation, in taxpayer-funded presidential primaries.

By the 2036 election Millennials will be the age of today's Baby Boomers. This political cartoon reflects the possibilities:


There is no particular reason given 21st Century technology that legislative bodies need to gather in capitol buildings to perform the job of considering legislation based upon the merit of the content.

If the cost of running for elections can be reduced substantially by the use of the internet because, as Donald Trump so aptly demonstrated, costly advertising efforts will cease to be needed.

Instead, having abandoned their traditional role, most of the news media now make candidate social media posts a story, even to the point of discussing what's "trending" as a separate  news story.

Social media "communities" can rise out of the ether to support someone who wants to run for office. Parties are not needed. And if the disappearance of parties would be a problem, it's too bad Democrats in this generation...
...located in the home of Silicon Valley and maybe across the nation were too self-centered and weren't savvy enough to get out of the way so younger generations of Democrats could be groomed and then elected to office through the Party.

In my lifetime the average age of Presidents in their first year of office was 55. The only 70-year-old among them developed Alzheimer's disease while in office. This year, whichever candidate wins will hit 70 in 2017.

I know, I know. I'm being ageist. The problem is the older generation, my generation, is in denial. There are real factual reasons why at some point old people need to get out of the way.

If you are over 60 years of age, think about it. When you were 30, what exactly would you think about the fact that every important political position in your state was filled by someone over 70? Would you really think they could represent your needs and your future? Would you feel a sense of community with a party chaired by someone in their 80's who's over there chatting with your 75-year-old Governor?

I was a Young Democrat representative attending the California Democratic Council Convention at age 20. What are they today? Before the "top 2" system an age 49 youngster was hoping for a chance someone will die so they could run for office without being blocked.

Barack Obama notwithstanding, the only Y2K problems that needed fixing in 1999 were the political parties. Now the parties may have be on the road to being irreparably irrelevant to the largest generation of voters.

Grandpa Donald Trump constantly misuses social media. Grandma Hillary Clinton is constantly attacked over her use of email. When they were 40, the internet did not exist.

Millennials (and many Gen-X'er's) have lived with these tools since before they were adults. If the successes of Donald Trump and the Independent Voter Project are any indication, it is likely that by 2030 the Millennials and Gen-X'ers will have found a way to eliminate the need for political parties.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

IMF: Far-reaching in your life but not on your list of chat acronyms

If you are a Trump or Sanders supporter, you thoughtfully formulated your opposition to the TPP based upon the assumption that the IMF adding the Renminbi to the XDR effective October 1, 2016 does not need to be countered to maintain the American competitive position in international trade, particularly in Asia and Latin America.

More likely if you are an American you have no idea what that caption says.

If you vaguely know what the IMF is, you are more aware than probably 99% of Americans.  If in your American school you were taught anything you can remember about the Bretton Woods Conference that created the IMF, you are more informed about economic issues than probably 99.9% of Americans.

From the IMF website:
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an organization of 189 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world.
The goals sound pretty important, don't they?

Here's another term - "Nixon shock."

President Richard Nixon is "remembered" by most in the American news media (and therefore by the American public) for Watergate which at the time seemed very important but today seems almost irrelevant.

A few remember that Nixon opened China by recognizing the Chinese People's Republic, perhaps the most immediately important decision of the Nixon Administration.

But almost no one remembers what was the Nixon Administration's most important decision for the long term.  From Wikipedia:
The Nixon shock was a series of economic measures undertaken by United States President Richard Nixon in 1971, the most significant of which was the unilateral cancellation of the direct international convertibility of the United States dollar to gold.
Unless you are among the 0.001% of Americans who hang out in a university economics department or are at least somewhat of a monetary policy wonk, you will find this Wikipedia "Nixon shock" entry discussion mystifying:
In 1996, economist Paul Krugman (Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, 2008) summarized the post-Nixon Shock era as follows:
The current world monetary system assigns no special role to gold; indeed, the Federal Reserve is not obliged to tie the dollar to anything. It can print as much or as little money as it deems appropriate. There are powerful advantages to such an unconstrained system. Above all, the Fed is free to respond to actual or threatened recessions by pumping in money. To take only one example, that flexibility is the reason the stock market crash of 1987—which started out every bit as frightening as that of 1929—did not cause a slump in the real economy.

While a freely floating national money has advantages, however, it also has risks. For one thing, it can create uncertainties for international traders and investors. Over the past five years, the dollar has been worth as much as 120 yen and as little as 80. The costs of this volatility are hard to measure (partly because sophisticated financial markets allow businesses to hedge much of that risk), but they must be significant. Furthermore, a system that leaves monetary managers free to do good also leaves them free to be irresponsible—and, in some countries, they have been quick to take the opportunity.
Debate over the Nixon Shock has persisted to the present day, with economists and politicians across the political spectrum trying to make sense of the Nixon Shock and its impact on monetary policy in the light of the financial crisis of 2007–08.
The 2007-08 financial crisis could become known as the warning that was ignored by the world's democracies. It resulted in a significant "employment depression" in the United States that did not readily respond to the monetary machinations set in place by Nixon.

The causes for this will be debated ad nauseam, but the U.S. dependency on "Third World" imports - 50 percent of all fresh fruits, 20 percent of all fresh vegetables, 80 percent of all seafood, 64% of all wood household furniture, 97% of all clothes, and 98% of all shoes sold in the United States are imported mostly from "Third World" countries - makes the addition of the Renminbi to the XDR worth noting.

Unfortunately, democracies are nations where in 2016 most voters know something about Pokémon Go and nothing about the "currency basket" known as the International Monetary Fund special drawing rights (XDR).





What this chart shows is that the IMF's XDR basket started out made up of U.S. Dollars, West German Marks, French Francs, Japanese Yens, and British Pounds.

In 1999 the Marks and Francs were replaced by Euros.

For the past five years, the basket was 41.9% Dollars, 37.4% Euros, 11.3% Pounds, and 9.4% Yens.

Next month, October 1, 2016, the Chinese Renminbi1 will be added to the basket making the mix 41.73% Dollars, 30.93% Euros, 8.09% Pounds, 10.92% Renminbi and 9.4% Yens.

In terms of how the IMF basket is divided up, since the Euro and the Pound made space for the Renminbi prior to anyone talking about a Brexit vote, shifts in the World's economy that include "Third World" countries deciding what currency will benefit them the best over next six years now that the Renminbi is a viable option could be ... interesting?

The growing strength of China in the World economy, particularly in Third World economies, as represented by the necessary change in the basket composition, was to be somewhat countered by the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement (TPP) among twelve Pacific Rim countries - Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam - finalized February 4, 2016, after seven years of negotiations.

Notice that China was not a participant in the TPP. That's because it was intended to counter China's growing influence in the international economy, particularly in Asia and Africa.

Apparently Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders favor increasing the strength of China as they oppose the TPP.  (They could be cynically lying to gain the votes of the uninformed American voter.)

They were so successful in convincing the left and right that the TPP must be defeated that Hillary Clinton, the only 2016 Presidential candidate likely to understand the nuances and complexities of the TPP that would counter China, was forced to embrace opposition to the TPP.

And thus the American voters on the left and the right have come together in huge numbers to further the long term ascension of China within the World economy as desired by Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

Or, more likely, most think IMF, XDR, and TPP are just some unfamiliar texting and chat acronyms and don't realize just how important all this is in their lives - how it affects the cheap food, clothing, furniture, and electronics they buy from Third World countries as facilitated by the 1976 Jamaica Accords restructuring the IMF system - and how far-reaching the impact of the failure of the TPP could be for them in less than a decade.

__________________________
Footnotes:
1The renminbi is the official currency of the People’s Republic of China, and translates to “people’s money.” Its international symbol is CNY (or CNH in Hong Kong; but abbreviated RMB, with the symbol ¥). The yuan is the name of the unit in which renminbi transactions are denominated, but also refers to the currency generally. This has been likened to the pound sterling, which is the name of the British currency, though no one in Britain would ask you for three pound sterlings for a pint of beer,  but rather for three pounds.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Personal loyalties can become a fatal flaw in Presidential politics

In Wikipedia among the things that you can learn about the late President Harry Truman is this:
In 1945, Vice President Truman shocked many when, a few days after being sworn in, he attended the Pendergast funeral. Truman was reportedly the only elected official who attended the funeral. Truman brushed aside the criticism, saying simply, "He was always my friend and I have always been his."
The Pendergast involved was Missouri political boss Thomas Joseph Pendergast who after serving 15 months in prison for failing to pay taxes on a bribe retired.

The funeral was just weeks before Truman became President. Many praised Truman's loyalty to a friend. But four years before, Truman's loyalty to Pendergast almost cost him his second term in the United States Senate. Without that second term, Truman would not have become Vice-President, and the President. But that election risk at the time was for a Senate seat, not for the Presidency.

It is 2016. This person is in the political news again:

Of course you recognize her, right? No? Well here's some information on her:

Doesn't help? Well, if you're not a Muslim scholar or a player in international women's rights, that's understandable.

From a biographical standpoint, we know that Saleha S. Mahmood was born in 1940 in undivided India (now Pakistan). She was married to the late Zyed Abedin, an Indian-born an Islamic and Middle Eastern scholar who also received his PhD at Penn. In the early 1970's they were in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where Zyed was affiliated with Western Michigan University.

In 1978 Abdullah Omar Naseef, then-vice president of King Abdulaziz University in Saudi Arabia, recruited Zyed Abedin to work for the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs (IMMA), a Saudi-based Islamic think tank. Both Zyed and Saleha Abedin would serve as editorial-board members of IMMA's in-house publication, the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs (JMMA). After her husband died in 1993, Saleha S. Mahmood, as she is named on the JMMA website, became the director of IMMA; today she serves as editor-in-chief of its Journal.

From all rational appearances (as opposed to the American paranoid right-wing view), Saleha S. Mahmood is a 76-year-old academic, administrator, and editor who late in life is in the middle of the effort to modernize the world's Muslim population without sacrificing the core beliefs of the religion. She apparently does have strong religious beliefs and is not afraid of controversy. Or to put it another way, she's controversial.

She is regarded as a feminist though she is not going to join Bill Maher advocating that Muslim women run out and buy a bunch of short sun dresses.

Now why would this woman be in the news, you might ask?

In Michigan in 1976 Saleha gave birth to a daughter, Huma Abedin, described two weeks ago by Vogue magazine as Hillary Clinton’s "assistant, adviser, and professional confidante for two decades," and "powerful, glamorous, and ubiquitous,...in many ways the engine at the center of Clinton’s well-run machine, crucial and yet largely out of sight."

This Hillary-Huma relationship has resulted in photos with Saleha Mahmood like this:

Now one might understand that these intelligent women might associate. After all Huma's has been referred to as Hillary's other daughter. It's bound to stir some right wing flurry of paranoia but it is the kind silliness the regular media might ignore.

But this is a picture of Huma, a practicing Muslim, with her now-estranged Jewish husband...

You can forget the possibility of Huma Abedin remaining nearly invisible to the mainstream or any other media.

The Vogue story is about as positive about Huma as one can get, but it has quotes like this about her relationship with Clinton: "Over the years, we’ve shared stories about our lives. We’ve celebrated together, we’ve mourned together"

As one might imagine already too many see parallels between Huma's marriage and Hillary's marriage. And once you've opened up this politically irrelevant discussion, the press can't ignore the fact that most of the public until now knew virtually nothing about Clinton's closest aide except from some challenges on her role from the Congressional right.

Huma has been treated very sympathetically by the Washington Post and others. But in January Vanity Fair offered up this headline Is Huma Abedin Hillary Clinton’s Secret Weapon or Her Next Big Problem? as others in the press suggested that asset or not she could be a problem for the campaign.

And so this week we have this headline in the Los Angeles Times Huma Abedin is Hillary Clinton's closest aide, and now she might be a liability. At best, this controversy is going to mean a -2% in the national polls for Clinton.

Clinton is fortunate that the New York Post which has battered this subject with its typical sensational stories such as this gotcha one last week Huma Abedin denies active role at radical Muslim journal is not the Columbus, Ohio, Post.

Were that the case, this controversy and her personal loyalty to a friend and mentee could enmesh America in a Donald Trump Presidency.

Depending on how she handles it, it may.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Labor Day in 2016: What you don't know about the American labor movement does benefit the 1%



If you check your TV schedule for Labor Day weekend, you won't find an annual PBS show recognizing American workers. Nor will you find any national broadcast coverage of parades or fireworks or memorial day type ceremonies honoring workers who died advocating labor causes.

But then again, you won't see either Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump leading a celebration despite the fact that angry American workers were their base of support.

The American Labor Day Holiday was literally given to you to smooth over the killing of American workers on strike by U.S. Government officials. In 1894, President Grover Cleveland pushed Congress to establish the holiday as a way to reduce class tension following the Pullman Strike. During that strike thousands of United States Marshals and 12,000 United States Army troops were called out to suppress the strike and about ninety workers were gunned down.

Cleveland’s choice to establish Labor Day in September deflected attention away from another explosive labor action — the Haymarket massacre of 1886, where the deaths of American workers did contribute at least one lasting legacy to the international movement for working-class liberation — a workers’ holiday, May Day, celebrated around the world on May 1.

Tied to the socialist movement, May Day as a national holiday was unacceptable to the American Establishment of the late 1800's. But a response from the Government over the Pullman Strike deaths was needed, so Cleveland selected what we now celebrate as Labor Day in the hopes that working Americans would be mollified and someday forget the labor movement.

But that didn't happen rapidly. Thirty years later, in 1916, Congress passed the Adamson Act creating the first legally enshrined eight hour work day in order to avoid a nationwide railroad strike which would have resulted in deaths.

It would take years before most Americans would forget about the meaning of Labor Day - after The Great Depression, beyond the Revolutionary 1960's, really all the way to the 1980's when the Industrial Revolution was replaced by the Digital Revolution.

During the 1980's decade most Americans seem to have decided they had nothing in common with the laboring class, had no need for organized labor, and literally raised a generation that thinks Labor Day exists for stores to sell stuff much like the Valentines Day "holiday."


To learn a little more about the history of  Labor Day you can read When Labor Day Meant Something and  Labor Day is May 1, today is a boss’s holiday, though you should learn a lot more about what the labor movement struggled to secure for you though that would require reading books. You should at least be aware that there is a Wikipedia entry List of worker deaths in United States labor disputes.

Or you could embrace your ignorance, sit back and enjoy an NPR Jazz Sampler Labor Day Blues And Grooves.

Just keep in mind that the 1% depend upon most workers not understanding that laws like the minimum wage, mandatory overtime, etc., exist not because of some benevolent President but because of the American labor movement. There has always been the 1%, but there isn't much of a labor movement now. Some thoughtful folks might wonder if there is any relationship between that and who benefits from the economic growth....

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Cultural Divide: Will Donald Trump's "Hard 8" Bet Payoff?

The day after Labor Day has traditionally been the start of the post-Convention Presidential Campaign.

Yesterday was three weeks before the day after Labor Day 2016. The Donald is getting ready to start his campaign.

Yesterday, Donald Trump bet his money on the cultural divide, a complex "Hard 8" bet, which he sees as his route to winning on the craps table that is 21st Century American politics.

Democrats and liberals need to understand that, while it is risky for Casino owner Trump, he understands that the payoff is big. Trump feels lucky about it.

After all he's already thrown the dice getting numbers that would have been the losers if he had made the bet earlier or if the numbers were to show up between now and the election. The folks around his table have groaned a bit the past few weeks. After that few weeks of rolling the dice, now he knows how to blow on them for better luck.

More about Trump's bet yesterday after addressing another subject. First let's see if you are at all in touch with the side of the cultural divide, the "Hard 8" side, represented by Trump's bet.

If you haven't been hearing this song you are probably on one side of the American cultural divide:


If you have never heard this song written by Brad Paisley, Chris Dubois, and Kelley Lovelace, clearly you choose to live in a bubble that culturally isolates you.1

It isn't that you shouldn't choose what bubble you live in. It's just that chances are you were probably as shocked by the success of this year's Presidential Election Republican nominee, as surprised as the well-educated liberal and conservative media pundits.

In other words they and you are out of touch with the reality facing the 40% of Americans who would like to vote for Trump. It's a very foolish position for you to be in because you probably have made decisions that made their lives worse.

Now don't misinterpret this song used here as something it is not. In February after a Republican debate Brad Paisley commented...


...which, not surprisingly, got him into hot water with a huge (using a Donald Trump word) number of his fans.

If you go to the YouTube page for the video above, among the comments was this one...


...which would be a typical response from a typical Paisley fan.

If you think Paisley's fans are rednecks, think again.  The commenter is this Paisley fan who was one of five Knox County students to sit on stage with Obama at Pellissippi State Community College in January 2015 in Knoxville, Tennessee. In this report about the speech given months before anyone, including Bernie Sanders, announced they were running for President in 2015, we should have learned from the intellectual press:
When Obama said he proposes bringing the cost of community college "to zero," the room erupted in a standing ovation. Obama pointed to Gov. Bill Haslam's Tennessee Promise and announced he plans to call his proposal "America's College Promise."
In fact, you would have to wonder how many tech-savvy Bernie supporters let Bernie get away with presenting his free tuition proposal without mentioning Obama's proposal, but you need not have wondered because most Bernie supporters were political inactivists who would have never seen this YouTube video nor heard the proposal repeated in Obama's 2015 State-of-the-Union Address:


The proposal was introduced in both houses of Congress as S.B. 1716: America’s College Promise Act of 2015 and H.R.2962: America's College Promise Act of 2015 where they languish in committees.2 It is, of course, part of Hillary Clinton's Education Policy Vision. But so long as the Bernie supporters remain political inactivists when it comes to Congressional elections, it will continue to languish in committees.

Then again, this policy proposal would not have inspired the Feel the Bern folks because it is an economic proposal aimed at the very people who will be the voters responsible if Trump beats Clinton as explained here in the post The innane bigotry of the educated is the reason why Trump's “I love the poorly educated!” is a winner as well as discussed in detail in the post series here Dissidents in American Politics. It is a proposal to get the high-school-only's and the high-school-dropouts to go to community college, not to make it cheaper to go the University of California.

There is one thing worse than being out of touch with the 40%. It is being a Bernie supporter who thought that free tuition was a Bernie idea. You aren't just in the lefty bubble but also in a bubble of bigoted ignorance inside the lefty bubble - the "double bubble". You don't want to know about what Democratic Establishment Politicians are trying to do because you want to believe everything wrong in your life is someone else's fault. And you won't help them get that free tuition for community college students.

Which brings us back to Trump's bet. As he announced in a story in The Wall Street Journal:
Stephen Bannon, executive chairman of Breitbart News LLC, an outspoken Trump supporter and a former Goldman Sachs banker, will assume the new position of campaign chief executive. At the same time, Mr. Trump also is promoting Kellyanne Conway, a veteran GOP pollster and strategist, to become campaign manager. Ms. Conway has been a campaign adviser for several weeks.

“I want to win,” Mr. Trump said in an interview Tuesday night in which he disclosed his hires. “That’s why I’m bringing on fantastic people who know how to win and love to win.”

The appointment of Mr. Bannon is likely to stir its own controversy. Breitbart News, which he runs, is a freewheeling populist news site that has served as a kind of platform for Trump supporters. He has, among other things, helped produce a movie about the personal wealth of Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Mr. Trump has known Mr. Bannon, a former Naval officer, for years. Mr. Bannon will take a leave of absence from Breitbart.
If you don't follow or at least occasionally look at Breitbart News, you can read the erudite New York Times pieces What Is Breitbart News? and Meet Stephen Bannon, the Trump Campaign’s New Chief Executive to get a thorough overview. But the Washington Post story also offers an extensive analysis with these key paragraphs:
Trump’s stunning decision effectively ended the months-long push by campaign chairman Paul Manafort to moderate Trump’s presentation and pitch for the general election. And it sent a signal, perhaps more clearly than ever, that the real-estate magnate intends to finish this race on his own terms, with friends who share his instincts at his side.

While Trump respects Manafort, the aides said, he has grown to feel “boxed in” and "controlled" by people who barely know him. Moving forward, he plans to focus intensely on rousing his voters at rallies and through media appearances.

Trump's turn away from Manafort is in part a reversion to how he ran his campaign in the primaries with then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Lewandowski's mantra was "let Trump be Trump" and Trump wants to get back to that type of campaign culture, the aides said.

In Bannon especially, Trump is turning to an alter ego — a colorful, edgy figure on the right who has worked at Goldman Sachs and made several films, including a documentary about former Alaska governor Sarah Palin.

Bannon, in phone calls and meetings, has been urging Trump for months to not mount a fall campaign that makes Republican donors and officials comfortable, the aides said. Instead, Bannon has been telling Trump to run more fully as an outsider and an unabashed nationalist.

Trump has listened intently to Bannon and agreed with him, believing that voters will ultimately want a presidential candidate who represents disruption more than a candidate with polished appeal, the aides said.
Perhaps the most cogent analysis comes from Deadline Hollywood which understands that 21st Century winners are defined by audience size and fan commitment (which applies to Apple devices as well as movie stars), not by critical discussion and wonky analysis:
Donald Trump, playing to what he knows best – media – has brought in scorched-earth-er Steve Bannon to shake up his campaign, as polls show the candidate sliding in key states, and news headlines showed him losing control of his narrative.

Word that the Breitbart CEO, known for his take-no-prisoners style, had joined Camp Trump comes hours after reports ousted Fox News chief Roger Ailes was giving Trump debate a advice/resource/consultation/whatever. Bannon has been with Breitbart since the launch of the web site that has been a virtual Trump campaign newsletter with posts about Hillary Clinton’s health, Clinton’s emails, fond looks back at Bill Clinton’s canoodling over the years, etc.

Today’s news guarantees, if nothing else, that the upcoming debates between Trump and Clinton are going to be the very definition of Must See TV. Sorry, NFL.
If you don't understand that final "Sorry, NFL." comment you need to get out of the double bubble.3

Finally, the Washington Post story noted:
“Buckle up,” wrote a Trump strategist in a text message Wednesday to The Washington Post.

Several people close to Trump said Bannon and Conway have decided to target five states and want to devote the campaign’s time and resources to those contests: Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania. It is in those states where they believe Trump’s appeal to working-class and economically frustrated voters has the best chance to resonate, the people said.
Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania. From the Brad Paisley song:
We work in the factories and the fields
Assembly lines, the coal mines
And the steel mills

We might fix your water pump or your AC
Bring your apple pie and fill your glass of tea
We'll take that FedEx package to your door 
I live in Democratic California and I know that my vote is not going to change the outcome in this election. Also the song's descriptions do not apply to me and therefore even if I lived in one of those states I wouldn't be a Trump campaign target, though I do listen to country music sometimes.

Trump placed his bet on a table surrounded by folks that live in Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania who fit the description. It's a risky bet, but Nate Silver's historically successful 538 Election Forecast system (which right now says Clinton has a 70%+ chance of winning but did have her in the 50%+ numbers a month ago) tells us that absent some major event hurting Clinton it is the only bet for Trump:


Except Trump now decided it is safe to do it with an ex-Goldman Sachs banker/online media mogul which should be a source of skepticism for Trump's base. Maybe I am out of touch.

__________________________
Footnotes:
1I have taken the liberty of reorganizing the lyrics of the song to make a point:

We work in the factories and the fields
Assembly lines, the coal mines
And the steel mills

We might fix your water pump or your AC
Bring your apple pie and fill your glass of tea
We'll take that FedEx package to your door

We crank up our music Friday nights
On two thousand country stations
And we drink ice-cold beer on Friday nights

That's what we do but there's more to us than that
If you wanna know who we are
It's on the logos of our caps

We're all across the map, down city streets and old dirt roads
We're the fabric of this nation
And we're a nation all our own

We're Mountaineers, we're Volunteers
We're the Tide that rolls, we're Seminoles
We're a herd of Longhorn steer
We drive Ford and Chevrolet
Cheer 24 and 88
We're Wildcats, we're Wolverines
We're Tigers, Buckeyes, Bruins
Bulldogs, Hogs and Hurricanes
We pray before we race
Cheer 14 and 48

But underneath that apron or that uniform
Yeah, we're one big country nation, that's right
2 S.B. 1716: America’s College Promise Act of 2015 - U.S. Senators Primary Sponsor Ms. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and co-sponsors Mr. Booker, Mr. Brown (D-OH), Ms. Hirono (D-HI), Mr. Murphy (D-CT), Mr. Leahy  (D-VT), Mr. Durbin (D-IL), Mr. Heinrich  (D-NM), Mr. Cardin (D-MD), Ms. Stabenow  (D-MI), Mr. Markey (D-MA), and Mr. Whitehouse (D-RI). Not a sponsor Mr. Sanders (I-VT)
H.R.2962: America's College Promise Act of 2015 -  Representatives Primary Sponsor Mr. Robert C. "Bobby" Scott (D-VA) and co-sponsors Mr. Hinojosa, Mr. Clyburn, Mr. Butterfield, Ms. Judy Chu of California, Ms. Linda T. Sánchez of California, Ms. Adams, Mr. Moulton, Mr. Takano, Mr. Grijalva, Mr. Richmond, Ms. Brown of Florida, Mr. Danny K. Davis of Illinois, Mr. Blumenauer, Ms. Bonamici, Ms. Bordallo, Mr. Brendan F. Boyle of Pennsylvania, Mrs. Capps, Mr. Cicilline, Ms. Clark of Massachusetts, Mr. Conyers, Mr. DeSaulnier, Ms. Edwards, Ms. Eshoo, Mr. Fattah, Ms. Fudge, Mr. Al Green of Texas, Mr. Gene Green of Texas, Mr. Gutiérrez, Ms. Hahn, Mr. Honda, Mr. Jeffries, Mr. Kennedy, Mr. Kilmer, Mr. Kind, Mr. Larson of Connecticut, Ms. Lee, Mr. Levin, Mr. Lewis, Mr. Ted Lieu of California, Mr. Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico, Mr. McDermott, Mr. McGovern, Ms. Moore, Mrs. Napolitano, Mr. Norcross, Ms. Norton, Ms. Plaskett, Mr. Pocan, Mr. Rangel, Ms. Roybal-Allard, Mr. Rush, Mr. Sablan, Ms. Loretta Sanchez of California, Mr. Schiff, Mr. Serrano, Mr. Swalwell of California, Mr. Takai, Mrs. Torres, Mr. Van Hollen, Ms. Wilson of Florida, Mr. Yarmuth, Mr. Beyer, Mr. Pascrell, Mr. Delaney, and Mr. Keating.

3Trump's objection to the debate schedule was because two of the three debates are scheduled on the same nights as NFL games. Because Trump is in another bubble of ignorance he misrepresented how the debates were scheduled. They are scheduled well in advance of an election by a commission not at all well-balanced between the ordinary football fans versus The Establishment (the Academic Oligarchy and the Shareholder Capitalists) that includes the following members:
Howard G. Buffett, Chairman and CEO, The Howard G. Buffett Foundation
John C. Danforth, Former U.S. Senator
Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr., President, Purdue University
Charles Gibson, Former Anchor, ABC World News with Charles Gibson
John Griffen, Managing Director, Allen & Company LLC, see also Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference
Jane Harman, Director, President and CEO, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
Antonia Hernandez, President and CEO, California Community Foundation
Reverend John I. Jenkins, President, University of Notre Dame
Jim Lehrer, Former Executive Editor and Anchor of the NewsHour on PBS
Newton N. Minow, Senior Counsel, Sidley Austin LLP
Richard D. Parsons, Senior Advisor, Providence Equity Partners LLC
Dorothy S. Ridings, Former President, the League of Women Voters and former President and CEO, Council on Foundations
Olympia Snowe, Former U.S. Senator
Shirley M. Tilghman, Former President, Princeton University