Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Only News That Matters In The Rust Belt

So here's the news all those Rust Belt Trump voters were waiting for: Vote Trump, keep your jobs.
No regrets (yet) in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan or Ohio.

Trump to Announce Carrier Plant Will Keep Jobs in U.S.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The 1919 World Series and the 2016 Election: When the Fix Is In

click to enlarge

Still, it really doesn't matter,
After all, who wins the flag.
Good clean sport is what we're after,
And we aim to make our brag
To each near or distant nation
Whereon shines the sporting sun
That of all our games gymnastic
Base ball is the cleanest one!

The team from Chicago should have beat the team from Ohio, but lost.
It was 1919 and the fix, we now know, was in.
"Say it ain't so, Joe," summed it up.
Nobody likes to think something as sacred as baseball could be rigged, fixed.
But if you were going to fix something, then you hide it in plain sight. You start bawling about how you can't trust even the most sacrosanct of things and you get the whole world, most especially the opposition, insisting even bringing up the subject is heresy, and when the outcome is a surprise, well the one thing it cannot be is what you said could happen and they said could not.
It's a classic double ploy, the deeper game.

There's only one thing that could be the fly in the ointment. That one, independent, check which, in the past, kept things honest: The exit polls.  You might be able to catch the final pipelines in four or five key states, hack those, and nobody can tell because nobody knows how people voted on those secret ballots. Except for the exit polls, where every 4th person walking out is asked how they voted. That is not hackable.

But here's the thing, if the pre voting polls are discredited by the voting, then who will believe any polls, even exit polls?

Check mate. 


The Reality of Our National Divide

Out of the shock, confusion and anger over the Trump win, the stages of mourning progress from anger, through bargaining to denial toward acceptance. 

President Obama, typically, was the most insightful, when he observed the way he had won was going to every fish fry in Iowa, a trenchant criticism of Hillary Clinton's failure to do that. She relied on outspending Trump 5 to 1, sometimes 9 to 1 on TV ads, on organizations for her "ground game" while Trump kept flying to rural areas, suburban areas, holding rallies for 40,000 people and then appearing constantly on CNN, Fox, MSNBC, everywhere on TV and radio and Twitter.

He and his team came up with a more 21st century campaign strategy, which bypassed traditional media, ignored debate preparation (which few of his voter's minded) and focused on the "forgotten."

Just look at the map of where his voters were and where Hillary's voters were.  While 62% of the population lives in urban areas along the coasts, the vast majority of the geography of the nation is occupied by the losers in our capitalistic game.His appeal went beyond the yokels of  "Deliverance," to a lot of people whose prospects are pretty dim for the rewards of "The American Dream" which is a stupid way of saying, "Acquiring wealth."

What It Meant for Clinton to Win Illinois

Visiting Cleveland once, I was struck by what my cab driver said about selections for the All Star baseball team, and how few Cleveland baseball players would be selected and how the New York Yankees always have lots of All Star selections: "Well, nobody notices Cleveland."
When the Chicago Cubs beat Cleveland in the World Series, I thought, "Uh-oh, there goes Ohio for Trump. Now the resentment is going to boil over."

When I left New York City, after 8 years of schooling there, I moved to South County, Rhode Island, a land of farmers and lobsterman and I looked around at the people living there and thought, "This is where the ragged people go," to quote Paul Simon. Look at that map. That is where the ragged people are. 

And yes, we well educated city folk do look with a certain contempt at these rubes, and that is not lost on the rubes. In some ways, the losers in this economic competition seem to embrace their status. I see twenty-five year old men every day, dressed in a football jersey or a hockey jersey, wearing blue jeans and a Red Sox baseball cap, and unlaced athletic shoes, looking like over grown eight year olds, and right next to them are a few kids dressed exactly as they are. It's hard to pick out the overgrown child who is the father, as they walk down the street. He's usually the one with the most facial hair. The wife, typically, looks like the only adult in the family.  She looks her age. Often, the wife accompanies this man/child to his doctor's appointments as she would be there for the visit to the pediatrician, because everyone knows the father/man/child won't be able to comprehend what the educated professional tells him. 

It's pathetic. It's prevalent. And it's a symptom of dysfunction. It's not that these men are stupid; they're defeated. They've given up. They've been told from grade school they'll never make it and they have become a self fulfilling prophecy.

And along comes Donald, a clear winner in his slick suit and his ties, and he tells them he knows how to make them winners. Just sign up for Trump U. Just vote for me. Notice he did not do the Mitt Romney dungarees and open neck shirt thing.  It would have looked like pandering. He is a billionaire and proud of it and he's gonna tell you how you can be a winner cause he's a winner and knows how. 

The slick part of the story is it took the ultimate city slicker to appeal to the dispossessed masses, the forgotten men and women. This is nothing new: Just watch day time Evangelical preachers who flaunt their wealth and tell their audiences:  Send me money and God will reward you with wealth. 
Yup, and that Red Slice Is Where Trump Focused

Much talk about whether or not we would be better off without the electoral college. It sure would change the number of people who actually vote--people in safe states would matter again. But, right now, people in Idaho have roughly 30 times the voting power people in New York have.  Of course, that's a rigged system. But isn't that the bone we tossed?  If we had a straight popular vote, then the government would not have to listen at all to people occupying the rest of the country, and when you drove from New York to Seattle, you would be passing through hostile territory, much as the wagon trains once did when those parts were occupied by Comanches. 

Well, maybe we haven't progress all that far, but occupying territory must count for something. 

Anyway, I'm pulling into the station of acceptance. Trump figure out how to disrupt the system and none of the smart guys at Harvard or 538 really saw it coming. In a capitalist, free wheeling society, that guy wins.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

David Brooks on HItting the Emotional Pause Button

David Brooks, throughout the campaign, could not disguise his contempt for Donald Trump, an honesty for which I had to like him.
But now he says those who are dismayed by Trump should pause, and in humility, listen to those to whom Trump's  bombast spoke, to acknowledge they were the people hurt by the Ted talk disrupters who spoke of sea changes but never bothered to think about the people left behind.
They gave "exciting speeches about disruption but don't known anything about the people actually being disrupted."

He notes the voters of the "post truth" era to be concerned only about their own loss of financial security and comfort, enough to vote for a Trump (or a Hitler) as long as they can get their jobs back in the coal mine or in the factory, jobs which are concrete, not some vague promise of "retraining."
These are people who do not believe they are good for anything other than working in coal mines. They told reporters, "I'm 59. What can I learn new? I want my job back." That job was mining coal.
I heard a voter from Vepo County, Indiana interviewed this morning who was talking about how his county is filled with "real people," not the people you see on TV or in Hiliary Clinton ads.
He had voted for Obama and would have voted for Bernie, but he also thinks in terms of "real people," which, I took to mean, white, Christian people like him.
"It wouldn't kill us Trump critics to take a break from our never-ending umbrage to engage in a little listening."
Listening to what? To low information, ignorant people who don't care what coal does to the planet, as long as they can come home with their lunch pails and feel respectable again? I should listen to this guy who thinks Muslims, colored, Brown, Black, Hispanics are not "real" people.
Screw him and may he rot in his coal mine.

"The globalists gutted the American working class and created a middle class in Asia," Stephen Bannon says.
Of course, this is not true. The Trans Pacific Trade Pact might have created a middle class in Asia, by insisting the Chinese pay their factory workers more than slave wages, so we can pay our assembly line workers more than subsistence wages here in the USA. But so far, we have no such agreement and  all this globization has only enriched the factory owners, not the workers.
Globalization wasn't a plot by the international Jewish conspiracy to enrich itself and foreigners. That's the subtext of Mr. Bannon's conspiracy theory, when he talks about "globalists." This is the old "International Jew" thing dating back to Henry Ford and other conspiracy dwellers.
lobalization was a force which swept the globe when the internet and ships and airplanes tied the world together and made Hong Kong as close as Peoria. 
Hillary tried to say the coal miners, the steel workers could compete with the Asian factory workers, but nobody heard that.
"They took our jobs!"  screamed the Rust Belt yahoos.  It was like an episode of South Park.

So after we listen to these half wits, what to do?
For my part, if I were in Chuck Schumer's position, it would be total war.
Vote against anything Trump proposes, including the infrastructure program, which you can point out is simply a scam to enrich his rich friends, and will provide nothing but privately owned roads and bridges.
Vote against them when the try to "fix" Medicare and Social Security.
Get out of Washington and visit Iowa and Wisconsin and rural Pennsylvania every day and tell them they are getting screwed.

Let Bernie, the only Democrat with any credibility left, carry the message.
Hope Bernie is enough of a patriot to help groom his owner, younger successors.
But fight them on the beaches; fight them in the fields; fight them in the hills and never surrender. And if this country lasts a thousand years, future generations will look back and say, "This was their finest hour."

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Feeling Great Again?

Margaret Bourke White

Today's big insight is Mr. Trump meant one thing to those who voted against him and different things to the coalition who voted him into office. 
The Good Old Days

For those who voted against him, this election was about values, about voting against a man who agitated today's version of the Ku Klu Klan at his rallies with chants of "Make America Great Again," which was widely heard as "Make America Hate Again" or "Make America White Again," a man who proclaimed Muslims hate us and "they" are chopping off heads, as if the Muslim grocery store owner in Dearborn or the Muslim physician in Massachusetts are all of a cloth with those head choppers in Syria and Iraq. This vote was a vote against a man who said women who have abortions should be punished (after he said he didn't think so.) This was a vote against a man who clearly had no regard for "truth" or "facts" in that he said Mexican wetbacks were rapists, only to amend that to say, well some of them are okay, but you know what I mean.  This is a man who said no judge, born in Indiana could impartially preside over his trial if his parents were born in Mexico. The list goes on, but you get the point. 
When America Was White

I could have included his "grab them by the pussy" remarks, or his birther assertions, and many others, but the essence of the man, is he is a business guy who really doesn't think much about any of these issues, but just latches on to whatever is convenient. So he was for the War in Iraq, but then said he hadn't really thought about it.  His initial response to transgenders in bathrooms was they could use whatever bathroom they wanted to, until he heard from his conservative backers.
And Everybody Had a Job

It all came down to the now famous remark, his backers did not take him literally, but they took him seriously.
And There Were No Worries

They took him seriously when he promised to open shuttered factories and mines to return them to the good old days (Make America Great Again. Make America the way it was, when we had a good life, a more secure life.)  He found out what they wanted to hear and he said that. 
And We Burned Coal

And they believed it because they wanted to and because Ms. Clinton did not make those promises. 
The Democrats took as an article of faith that the Blue Wall was theirs by entitlement, much as Ms. Clinton had earned the nomination by being a dutiful woman, who had waited her turn. She was the opposite of a disrupter.
Mr. Trump did not spend money on local state offices, TV ads, canvassers--but he got his message out more effectively than any of those old, 20th century techniques was able to do. 
And The Media Behaved Itself

And, for the most part, none of the "pundits" or "experts" could see it:  whether they were political scientists studying their flawed polls, or Mark Shields, listening to his friends at lunch in Washington, DC or any of the CNN panelists, could see or hear or understand what Mr. Trump was doing with his rallies, his Tweets, his constant presence on TV.
And The Goverrnment Knew Whose Side It Should Be On

So the disrupter undid the Democratic grip on the Mid West heartland. Like any good businessman, like Don Draper of Mad Men, he looked into the hearts and heads of those consumers of mass marketed messengers out there and understood what they wanted and spun the story they wanted to buy.
Advertising and marketing are not about what people ought to want; they are about what people actually do want, as selfish and small minded as that may be. 
And now we have the hyenas swooping in--Stephen Bannon, Jeff Sessions, General Strangelove.  When you buy the Kool Aide, you drink it.

We Had It Made!
NB: All photos (except  the last) are by Margaret Bourke-White

Friday, November 18, 2016

Trump You

Listening to the details of how Trump University operated sounded eerily familiar.
First you have this famous, rich guy saying, "I will tell you how to become rich."
Then he assures you, "I have hand picked each faculty member."
Then he says, "Just watch this free introductory video."
The video says, "Now pay $1,500 for the first course," which in fact is not a course but an infomercial to sell you on buying the next "course," but this one is for $15,000 and the next is $35,000, as you progress for your "degree," aided by individualized tutors, all hand picked by the big man.
I am not a crook.

And you have to wonder who could be this gullible, who could fall for this con, who would listen and nod when they are told to simply run up their credit card debt because within 6 months, you'll be making $50,000 using the secret lessons Mr. Trump wants you to learn on your way to wealth and happiness.

Who would believe this sort of obvious scam?

Who indeed?

Who would believe those factories are going to reopen and rehire all the workers and the coal mines are going to re open and sell all that coal?

We got trouble, big trouble in River City.
You can fool some of the people all the time

Just keep your government hands off my Medicare.
Don't worry, Paul Ryan's going give you a voucher.
You can use that when you have your heart attack, get hospitalized and get your bill for $500,000 for the five day stay and you can use that voucher, which ought to cover the meals and room for the first three days.
Oh, Barry, we hardly knew ye

Making America Great Again. 

Happy Days are Here Again: Trumpland Uber Alles

Driving in, listening to NPR reporters interviewing people in a small town outside Pittsburgh, Lafayette County, I was somehow strangely cheered to hear the voices of people who had always been Democrats, who had voted for Obama, then for Trump,  but they did not sound like those deplorables you saw at Trump rallies. They simply said they were coal miners and too old to be retrained to learn anything new and they just wanted their jobs in the mines back and in the factories. They didn't give Trump a deadline. They just clearly wanted to try something different, so they voted Trump.
There was a lawyer who is the Democratic Party organizer for the county and I remember when they interviewed him last Spring and he said he was not optimistic about his county going blue in the Fall election, because people wanted a change and Ms. Clinton did not look like change to them.  This time he said he didn't blame Ms. Clinton, but she was given the nomination because people thought she was next in line, but there would have been better choices if the Dems wanted to win his county.

So, it all made sense, at last. Part of the shock and depression of the news of President Trump is the sense of the surreal. How could anyone other than a Ku Klux Klanner vote for Trump? Well, now we know.

My many fans seemed to like the last poem, so here's another:

So long sad vibes
Get lost bad tribes
We are rid of all that bad gas
Just got what Trump prescribes
Feel swell from his jibes
All those down feelings are past.

Happy days are here again
The skies above are clear again
So let's all sing a song of cheer again
Happy days are here again.

Altogether shout it now
Heard it on the radio
There's no one who can show
Those jobs are not coming back pronto.

Coal miners going back to work now
Steel workers, soda jerkers and how
We'll be burning  coal again
Clean air's no longer a goal, no sin
Polluting things again
Happy days are here again.

Infrastructure's gonna boom
Gonna make the heartland bloom
Nobody has to learn anything new,
Heard it on NPR that's a clue
We went to red from blue
Finally the heartland gets its due
Happy days are here again.

No more factories in Mexico
Oh, oh, we're not letting our factories go
No more sending our jobs down below
Factory jobs
Are back in gobs
Bring out that banjo

No more Muslims coming in
No more Mexicans with brown skin
No more rapists flooding in
No more abortions anywhere
Terrorists just wouldn't dare
Mess with us again
Happy days are here again!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Why Citizens United Does Not Matter

 "First off, it’s the biggest election upset in the history of the American republic. Eric Cantor was the House majority leader and raised $10 million. He spent, between himself and outside groups, $8 million to hold a congressional district. He ran against a professor who was an evangelical Christian and a libertarian economist. He ran against a professor who raised in total $175,000. In fact, the bills from Eric Cantor’s campaign at a elite steak house in Washington, DC, was over $200,000. So they spent more than $200,000 over the course of the campaign wining and dining fat cats at a steak house in Washington than the entire opposition had to run."
--Stephen Bannon

Hillary Clinton outspent Donald Trump. Googling the actual numbers, it is not clear by what factor. Some estimate she spent as much as 50 times what Trump spent.
For years, the Koch brothers have claimed they spend on elections and outspend candidates and they lose.

If Democrats want to win another election, we had better figure out how that happens.
Steve Bannon is a Tea Party Republican. We have told ourselves the Tea Party collapsed. It just won the Presidency.
It won the House and the Senate in 2010 and never relinquished either.
Tea Party justices will soon sit in the Supreme Court.
These are people who are intent on destroying government.
In New Hampshire, they would be called Free Staters.

Of course, they have to deal with the President they elected, who, at least on some occasions believes in preserving Social Security and Medicare and who believes in spending government money on infrastructure.
That's the Republicans' problem.
What do you think is the problem for the Democrats?

Trump's Win Wasn't An Accident: Bannon Had An Insight

"The central thing that binds that all together is a center-right populist movement of really the middle class, the working men and women in the world who are just tired of being dictated to by what we call the party of Davos. A group of kind of — we’re not conspiracy-theory guys, but there’s certainly — and I could see this when I worked at Goldman Sachs — there are people in New York that feel closer to people in London and in Berlin than they do to people in Kansas and in Colorado, and they have more of this elite mentality that they’re going to dictate to everybody how the world’s going to be run."
Steve Bannon

Michael Moore tried to tell us.  Trump and Bannon were focused on working stiffs in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin all along. They knew that "Blue Wall" was not impregnable, and in fact it was the Achilles heel of Hillary Clinton and the Democrats, who had long ago lost the paycheck to paycheck crowd.

Look at the real election maps which the brilliant folks at the New York Times put together:
This is where the Clinton voters were:
This is where the Trump voters were:
This is entirely consistent with what we saw canvassing in New Hampshire, and what David Brooks reported from Idaho and what Anon reported from North Carolina: If you looked at territory, Trump signs and Trump voters held an enormous lead. All of Clinton's strength was concentrated, geographically in the cities.

But the electoral college is all about the geography, about territory and states. Thus Clinton is swamped by geography, even as she wins the popular vote.

America was designed by people from Jefferson to Hamilton who valued property and land more than individual human beings. In fact, only 3/5 of Black people counted, where the Constitution was concerned.

This was no fluke. This was a well conceived, well planned strategy.
And nobody, of all the talking heads on CNN, or MSNBC or PBS News Hour or even Fox could see the essential truth that Stephen Bannon and Trump saw: There are simply more white voters than there are Brown or Black voters. 

As a member of the White, East Coast elite, I was guilty of listening to "experts" who told me what I wanted to hear, who reinforced each other constantly but had no new information and who were intellectually lazy.

My brother had a cartoon in his office which showed a dozen little stick figures chanting "No! No! No!" In the second frame a big sun like figure rises over the horizon and says, "Yes!" the third frame shows all the little stick figures chanting, "Yes! Yes! Yes!" 

I've been wasting my time listening to those little guys.
Unless I miss my bet, Mr. Trump is a tabula rasa. Government, government policy has never really interested him. He's interested in making money and government only interests him to the extent government could  help him make more or would prevent him from making more money.
On some level, he knows he's a lightweight and he needs help. Nixon was like this. So Nixon turned to Kissinger to be his wise man, his shaman.
Trump is now turning to Bannon to play this role for him. He'll get cogent, pithy, convincing direction from this guy, and it behooves us to read everything we can about what Bannon thinks.  Patton read Rommel's books before he ever met Rommel on the field of battle. We ought to learn from that.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Trump v Hillary: Shades of 1968

Oh, gather round children, and you shall know
What today we suffer
Is mere ebb and flow
Of history, for today's  no rougher
Than what once brought us low. 

Today we forget tricky Dick Nixon and his rants
Who demonized Helen Gahagan Douglas
As pink down to her underpants.
Trump is simply his spiritual heir
And Roy Cohn, who they both share
As unctuous and seething and slimy as Bannon
Guiding  all to  despair
As in darkness they both lay their plan in.

Old Dick ran against Lyndon Johnson's successor
And beat him by just 500,000 votes 
Painting the Democrat the transgressor
Promising a secret plan to end the war with end notes
And two years later bombed Cambodia just for show
And Kent State left four dead in Ohio.

Hate is a spider wasp
Which eats from the inside
Unseen from the surfaces
Until it emerges
Only then does the body subside.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Obama's Last Waltz

There he was, at the lectern in the West Wing, giving his last press conference, or at least the last before he headed off to Europe, graying now, but still lean and youthful looking, thoughtful, pausing to pick just le mot juste, wry, funny in a low key way, humble, careful, saying exactly what he means and nothing more, nothing less.  In short, everything the 45th President is not going to be.
Mr. Bannon looking for the ideal woman, the Lebensborn
Mr. Bannon's ancestral inspiration

And on the way home, on NPR, I hear Stephen Bannon, President-elect Trump's "Chief Strategist" in a past interview saying that "the women who we want leading us into the future are Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter, real women with kids, not some dykes from Seven Sisters schools in New England."

Ah, well. We always seem to do this in America, Bald, pale, gray, tired Eisenhower gives way to tanned, vigorous Kennedy; sweaty, twitchy Nixon gives way to sunny, toothy Carter; George W. , who had that dull boy's insecurity gives way to the easy confidence of a man who knows he's very bright. And now the cerebral Obama gives way to the boisterous, bluster of the bloviatator.  It's just the pendulum inexorably in swing. 
We'll get by it. 

And I loved Obama describing Trump, after a pause as "gregarious." That is truly the most generous description of the man anyone could possibly summon.
 It took the special brilliance of Obama to come up with that. 

There is brilliance out there, still. Witness Kate McKinnon opening "Saturday Night Live" the first show after the election. (Who knew she could play piano and sing like this?) The selection could not have been more appropriate. Leonard Cohen died the night before the election, thankfully for him. And the song, an elegy perhaps for our Republic, but then she turns to the camera and tells us what it means to her:

Trump and the Republicans: Deer in the Headlights?

"Trump’s Keynesianism was mostly defense spending and tax cuts, but it included a huge infrastructure push — soon nicknamed “TrumpWorks” — that doubled as a jobs program for his core constituency, blue-collar men. The assumption that the economy had hit full employment in the later Obama years proved to be an artifact of work-force dropouts and increasing illegal . With TrumpWorks hiring, a wall rising (albeit haphazardly) on the southern border and millennials’ entry into the housing market sparking a sudden construction boom, both wages and the work-force participation rate began to sharply climb."
--Ross Douthat, on Trump in 2020, an anti apocalyptic vision Articles appearing from living rooms in the Rust Belt are quoting voters who really, actually believe Donald Trump can and will stop factories from closing and moving to Mexico and China.
If President Trump can do this, then maybe they weren't as stupid as we here in the East think. 
Factories with 3000 robots and 300 employees won't do. He's talking about making air conditioners with the same people whose  jobs are going to Mexico, no robots.

Riding the elevated subway around New York City, I see construction booming, workers everywhere, the visible signs of a thrumming economy. 

Here in the East we don't see the empty factories and the boarded up Main Street. 

Out there, in Ohio. Michigan, Wisconsin, rural Pennsylvania, it's different. 

Hillary spoke of "retraining."  I'm guessing that held no appeal to workers who really do not believe they can be retrained or if they can that will mean jobs. They want the job first and the training later.

Anyone who watched, "Making of a Murderer," saw rural Wisconsin, and likely rural Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.  The people you saw there looked no different from people in Alabama, Tennessee or West Virginia. 

If President Trump can find jobs for these people, he'll do better than Hillary could have done with a Republican Congress and Supreme Court.  

It will be interesting to watch.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Trump's Goon Squad

That’s one of the unintended consequences of the women’s liberation movement––that, in fact, the women that would lead this country would be feminine, they would be pro-family, they would have husbands, they would love their children. They wouldn’t be a bunch of dykes that came from the 7 Sisters schools.”
--Stephen Bannon

Even Donald Trump, who seemed to run his campaign alone, cannot govern alone.
He is now gathering around him a veritable rogues' gallery of unappetizing deplorables,  and the number will only grow.
Chief among them is this shaddowy, psychopath Stephen Bannon. If you really want to generate a profound nausea in the pit of your stomach, go on line and read about him. I have to do it in small doses. But, over the next week or so, I promise I'll pick through the dog droppings which are Mr. Trump's men.
So far, we have only a few.
Mr. Trump's minister of propaganda appears, for the moment to be Mr. Bannon. Rush Limbaugh is having too much fun and is too effective where he is to move into the West Wing. So, it's Bannon.  He is Trump's Goebbels.

His foreign minister, his Goering is, of course Newt Gingrich, who managed to bring the government down, temporarily, during his last term in government.

His hatchet man, the guy who shows up when the dirty work needs doing, his Himmler, is Rudolph Giuliani, who tried to build his career on the 9/11 catastrophe and has been looking for a new catastrophe ever since. Apparently, he has now found one.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Democrats: Be of Good Cheer

The press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.
--Salena Zito, "The Atlantic"

Enough tears. Enough mourning. Let's see what good might come of this defeat.
In a phrase: Now it's the Republicans' turn to bear the weight of having to govern, and to take the blame.

1. Healthcare:
President Obama, even when he had control of both houses ,was unable to convince Congress or the people that a government run health insurance system was a good idea. This, despite the well known success of Medicare, the biggest health care system. Maybe the only way for this to happen will be for the Republicans to kill Obamacare and substitute an alternative which fails even more spectacularly.
Obamacare had to be a give away to the health insurance industry to get it passed. But the basic premise was so structurally flawed, it had to fail. The fact is, the whole premise of a company is it exists to make money for its shareholders. Insuring people who actually have illnesses is a sure road to losing money.  So insurance companies have always run away from covering anyone who actually needs medical care. This happened with Obamacare. It will always happen with any private, commercial system. When the object is to make money, the plan will fail to provide coverage. But a government system like Medicare does not exist to make money. It exists to spend money to provide care. Eventually someone has to realize that healthcare cannot be an industry like other industries. It is a public project.

Despite its problems, Obamacare managed to cover 20 million previously uncovered or under insured citizens and it reduced overall health care costs--a surprise. But the structural flaws were bound to catch up with it and when premiums soared right before the election, I think that had more effect to seal Hillary Clinton's fate than even the FBI.
What will happen when the Republicans replace Obamacare with Ryan voucher care will be a huge shock to those 20 million, and when the bad old days of a large uninsured population flooding through Emergency Rooms and people lose houses and go bankrupt from medical costs will be a huge reaction.  The Republicans will not be able to explain their way out of it. They'll claim everyone is happy but that will kill them. The only question is whether it will happen in time for the mid term elections.
The Democrats would be smart to not help the Republicans at all by passing laws to forbid exclusions for pre existing conditions. The Democrats, Elizabeth Warren included, should step aside and say, "You killed it. You replace it. Good luck." This will be painful, but it has to happen.

2. The promise of reversing globalization, bringing factory jobs back to the Rust Belt:
New factories may return to the Rust Belt, but not the jobs. These factories will employee 300 workers and 3000 robots, not the 3000 workers they had before. This may help some small towns, but the Rust Belt will still be a wasteland unless it shifts over to a new commerce. If factories making solar panels replace all those closed car plants and steel mills, Trump will get a second term, and maybe he'll deserve it.  Hillary would not have been bold enough to get this done.
But, those jobs may prove even more essential because the trade wars will mean no more cheap clothes, appliances and goodies at Walmart. Inflation will spike big time, as far as I can tell. After all, if you can't import cheap goods made by low wage workers in China, the goods you have available have got to be more expensive.

The coal miners in Kentucky and West Virginia will still be beyond help because they think all they can do is mine coal and will never be able to learn anything new. Mr. Trump may send them back to the mines to mine "clean coal," but of course there is no such thing as clean coal. We may go back to burning more coal and we'll have Beijing air in Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Detroit.  Let's see how the white male high school graduates like breathing that. The problem is, of course, it will be years before climate change actually does anything palpable and then the Trumps of the world will deny it had anything to do with what they did wrong.

4. Building the wall and making Mexico pay for it:
This is a win/ win for President Trump, and there is no bright side, in the short term for Democrats, unless Democrats become smarter about public relations. If they do, this could be part of his undoing.

As Selena Vito of "The Atlantic" observed, Donald Trump's detractors did not take him seriously, but they did take him literally. Donald Trumps supporters did take him seriously, but they did not take him literally.

There may be some cosmetic wall, but whatever it is, Trump will say it fulfills his promise and all his white voters will cheer. 
 Since the whole flood of illegal rapists was a hobgoblin to begin with, Trump will be able to claim success in vanquishing the zombies who were never there to begin with. But, eventually, it may dawn on some, even in the Rust Belt, there are still as many Brown and Black people as ever.


1. Extracting U.S. military from bases in Germany, Korea and around the world.
Much as I love President Obama, he did not get us out of Afghanistan completely enough, and I've never been able to understand why we have soldiers in Germany and Korea. Rumor has it Trump is planning to increase Navy warships in the Pacific to "guard our trade routes" whatever that means. But if he closes army bases, that would make sense.
If he pulls us out of NATO, I'd be surprised, once he hears from those generals who he knows more than, but if he does, I personally would not mind.  I have to agree with him we do not need to be the world's policeman. I think Bernie felt the same.
Of course, I'd love him to close one marine base in particular: Gitmo. If anyone can do it, it would be him. If he did do this, it might be a sign that it took Nixon to go to China and it might take Trump to do the right thing and be allowed to do it.

2. He might tolerate transgenders in bathrooms and gay marriage, and the Republicans would have to swallow that. Of course, they can simply wait 15 minutes and he'll forget he ever said that and reverse himself.


1. The role of money in elections:
 Maybe it's time to stop worrying about Citizens United.
The reason Democrats and people who care about democracy have been so upset about the Citizens United decision is the assumption that money means power, money means votes.
But as the Koch brothers have pointed out, they have spent millions of dollars in a variety of elections where their candidates lost anyway. So money does not always translate into votes.
In some cases attractive ideas, however fallacious, beat money.
Hillary Clinton outspent Trump 9 to 1 in Forida and still lost that state. She out spent him in every state she lost.
Trump, in fact, went back to a 19th century style of campaigning: Big rallies, and word of mouth rippling out from there. Bernie Sanders did the same.
The idea of money making the difference may make more sense when there really is very little difference between candidates, but in the case of two really different options, money and ads do not matter.

2. The importance of the "ground game" is over rated. "Studies" supposedly show that people who have been contacted by volunteers in their community can be persuaded to vote for the candidate and can be cajoled into going to vote on election day. Having gone door to door, I thought most people considered us canvassers an annoyance, and those who were happy to see us were already going to vote for our candidate. HRC had computers tracking our visits and there will be computers showing how many of those we visited voted. What those computers cannot tell us is whether or not they would have voted anyway or who they actually voted for. This time around, many Democrats we assumed would vote for HRC may have wound up voting for Trump. And some of those we "convinced" to vote for HRC may have changed their minds back to Trump after talking with their neighbors.
Trump said if he lost he would have wasted his time. I think we canvassers wasted our own time, although it did make us feel we were trying.

3. We need better ways of knowing what voters are thinking and doing.
Clearly, there are structural problems with polling now.  Polls are all about statistics and methodology and when you cannot get a representative group to sample, your poll is meaningless. The reason we believe polls even though we no longer answer our own phones is Nate Silver has been right in the past. We judge polls on past performance rather than on knowing how they are done and seeing the obvious flaws because they have successfully predicted outcomes in the past. Now we can scrap that method.
In one sense, what the polls showed us is the much of what we see on TV and accept because it is said authoritatively is about as reliable as the authoritative statements we saw Moody's and other institutions making in "The Big Short." They had all the trappings of science and technology and they had no idea what they were doing.

Michael More had his finger on the pulse of his friends in the Rust Belt and he knew from anecdotes and from talking to a small number of people what was going to happen and he predicted Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania specifically because he was out there talking face to face. The age of being able to sample impersonally by plugging big data into computers should come to a close. Garbage in; Garbage out.

4. Seeing new leadership in the Democratic Party:
 I came to actually admire and respect Hillary Clinton through all this, and I really feel sorry for her because she really wanted to be President, worked hard to prepare for it was denied by a buffoon.
But she was like the aging athlete, the Brett Farve, the Babe Ruth who had a brilliant career but could just no longer bring her team the championship. Her time had past, but she didn't know it.
But the truth is, she could not be the agent of change which the Rust Belt and other parts of neglected America have demanded. She would have changed things gradually. But for many, gradual is not good enough, especially if your health care premiums are skyrocketing.
She was the choice of Debbie Wasserman Schultz and all the other party old line who wanted incremental change where Bernie Sanders wanted a revolution. Bernie, like Michael Moore, knew what Trump knew and what these unseen, un named party bosses could not see, would not believe.