With Sarah Jeong’s Tweets, the Left embraces Tribalism

The New York Times provided several days of amusement this week after hiring racist technology writer Sarah Jeong, with full knowledge of her twitter history.  That history?  Here’s a small sample:

The Times was in full bore defense mode of their pick:

On Thursday, The Times released a statement saying that it knew about the tweets before hiring Ms. Jeong, 30, and that she would stay on the editorial board.

“Her journalism and the fact that she is a young Asian woman have made her a subject of frequent online harassment,” The Times said in its statement. “For a period of time she responded to that harassment by imitating the rhetoric of her harassers. She sees now that this approach only served to feed the vitriol that we too often see on social media.”

So virulent racism is OK as long as it’s used as a counter attack against trolls?  It’s a brand new argument which isn’t even remotely intellectually defensible, but it’s one I’ve seen copied across forums and message boards throughout the week.  Of course at this point I fully expected a defense of her hiring, I was just curious as to what form it would take.  It’s almost disappointing that they put such little effort in mounting a defense.  What makes Jeong’s tweets perfectly acceptable compared to say, Roseanne Barr’s comes down to, “it’s just different OK?”

Just a couple of observations…

In a political sense, this is good news for the GOP. The Democrats have really been driven off the rails this year with the party being pushed into indefensible positions on abolishing ICE and embracing socialism (whatever that means, and I suppose that most have no clue).  This is all in a year when the Democrats should have expected some Congressional gains. Instead, it’s turning into the “I don’t believe in borders, #CancelWhitePeople” party.  If Trump and the GOP have any wit about them, they’ll capitalize on this.  Every Democratic Congressional candidate should be asked about Jeong’s tweets, whether they are acceptable, is the New York Times supporting #CancelWhitePeople? “Candidate A, do you believe that white men are bullshit?”  They need to be made to own their crazy.

Also in a political sense, but in a more long run view, how does being the anti-white party influence Democratic Party prospects?  During the 2016 election, I observed that some of these guys really were serious about having a case of the ass for white people. Key to the Democrat’s “Demography is Destiny” voter replacement plan is that at least for the short run (the next two decades) white voters will continue to vote for the Democrats at about the same percentages.  But how much comparison to white people as “groveling goblins” can Democrat white voters handle?  I’ve no doubt that a certain type of NPR listening, sweater wearing, herbal tea drinking white person, reading Jeong’s tweets, could chuckle and say, “Yes we are the worst!”  Nor would this be anything but catnip to your typical white college radical; but what about families? Does the typical white Democratic voter with children really want to support a party that targets their children and see them as a problem?  I’m not so sure.

And that brings me to my final observation, that the lack of even a pretense of intellectual evenhandedness in the defense of Jeong shows that the left has gone full tribalism.  They are defending Jeong, not because she’s misunderstood, or there is merit to her tweets, but simply because they are in the same tribe and are defending one of their own. We live in an age when intellectual and political arguments are passé. The only thing that matters is which side you are one.

So how will this play out in the midterm elections?  I’ve already made my predictions, but hopefully at least through October Trump should be reminding voters what the “failing New York Times” thinks of them.

 

 

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Why a Balanced Budget Amendment Should be a GOP Priority

Fiscal Discipline was struck another blow this week when Rand Paul’s balanced budget plan was voted down in the senate after gaining the support of only 20 senators.  It’s no surprise that fiscal restraint isn’t popular, but that’s an embarrassingly low number of allegedly Republican senators (obviously no Democrats voted for it).

Rand’s version of the “Penny Plan” would have capped federal spending and restrict spending growth to 1% annually.  In DC terms, that’s an austere cut. No one can really claim to be shocked that the GOP would be against it.  It has virtually no history of the kind of fiscal discipline that it claims to espouse.   But I’m not really grieving about this plan going down.  A plan to promise cuts in the future is about as useless as a Paul Ryan show vote on a theoretical budget that will never be implemented.  It’s simply theater.

Far more serious was the loss in the House back in April of the Balanced Budget Amendment.  This hardy perennial was defeated by failing to get a two thirds vote, 233 in favor to 184 against.  Interestingly the House was able to rally to pass a 1.3 Trillion Omnibus spending bill only a few weeks prior to that vote.  I guess they can agree on some things.  Just not on some of the most important things.

If you want to see who voted yea or nay, check it out here.

If you are a fiscal conservative or even someone who doesn’t want the country to collapse in fiscal disaster, there is no greater priority than a Balanced Budget Amendment.  Unfortunately there are many factions on the right who oppose a Balanced Budget Amendment, such as the Club for Growth and The Heritage Foundation.  These groups oppose anything that might lead to an increase in taxes.  Better deficit spending as far as the eye can see than an extra penny for taxes.

This is extremely shortsighted.

If in fact, Demography is Destiny (the working hypothesis I’ve been going by for years), at some point the Republicans as they are currently configured will be untenable as a national party.  Once they lose control of national power for good, then here comes the California model of governance for the rest of the nation.  California, in its plan to be the next Venezuela, seemingly has no stop sticks from preventing it from going off the rails, yet they put a stop on a plan to provide single payer healthcare for the entire state, an idea that the majority of people and politicians in the state support.

Why is that?

The reason obviously is that they couldn’t pay for it.  It would have doubled the state budget, requiring massive tax increases in a state that already pays high taxes.

And that’s the rub.  The trick to keeping Democrats from fiscally destroying the country after all the GOP brakes are gone is making them pay for it by raising taxes; something that ultimately, they are as loath to do as any cigar chomping, monocle wearing, GOP banker type.

One of the few long term priorities that can outlast the GOP of the Bushes, Ryan, and McConnell is a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution.  It actually forces the difficult choices that we’ve been avoiding for decades.  A super majority of Democrats running the Intersectional States of America decades from now would still be constrained in funding Single Payer, UBI, and assorted other fantasies if there were a Balanced Budget Amendment.  Taxes might be high and the economy might stink, but that’s better than the currency being worthless.

 

 

Is Demography Still Destiny?

A friend who is aware of my interest in the link between demographic change and political change slipped me this article, Why Demography Does Not Equal Destiny.  You don’t hear much these days about demographics in politics since last November 9th, other than the talk about that new group that politicos recently discovered; the white working class.  Who are these guys and where did they come from?

So it’s no surprise there is a lot of handwringing among the Demographics=Destiny crowd.  The article summarizes its main points:

  1. Demographic change is not evenly dispersed in states and voting districts throughout the country.
  2. Voting behavior is not static. Voters more readily change which party they support than the demography-is-destiny models anticipated.
  3. Despite the large change in the demographic composition of the electorate, most voters still do not self-identify as liberals. In fact, liberals remain bronze medalists in the ideological breakdown of the electorate—ever since the question was first asked decades ago.

I don’t disagree with the generalities of these points.  In fact I share them to a degree and wrote about the snags and hiccups on the way to permanent Democratic rule over two years ago. Most voters are not liberal, at least they are not self-identified ones, and the purging of the moderate wing that began in 2010 has left the Democratic Party with few moderates for mainstream Americans to identify with.  Political decisions matter too, and President Obama’s decision to go make Obamacare, rather than “comprehensive immigration reform” his first massive push doomed his party to an easy opening for attack.  The Tea Party sprang up to fight Obamacare and the political cost for moderate blue dog Democrats to vote for it was the loss of their seats, leaving a smaller, and more left leaning Democratic Party in its wake.

So for the past few years, the Democratic Party has been hurt more by stupid political decisions than helped by Demographic change.  Nobody told them that they had to make a granny with 30 years of criminal investigations and corruption behind her the party’s nominee.

However…

Even though the Democrats nominated the worst candidate possible she still won the popular vote by 3 million votes.  That really brings truth to the old saying about yellow dog Democrats; they would vote for a dog if it was running on the Democratic ticket. But that goes to Point One; demographic change is not evenly dispersed.  No it isn’t.  Particularly when you consider that the Hillary’s popular vote lead is entirely attributable to California.  Without California, Trump won the popular vote by 1.4 million votes.  That’s the power of demographics.

California is the textbook case, and the canary in the coal mine on unbridled Demographic change. The Center for Immigration Studies did a study comparing California from 1970 to 2008. Just a few observations:

Legal and illegal immigrants went from 9 to 27%.

Went from 7th most educated workforce to 50th (that’s dead last for the California educated!).

Went from 25th in income inequality to 6th.

Conclusion?  If you try to replicate Latin America in California, don’t be surprised if you get something that looks very much like…Latin America; high income inequality, with a very wealthy and educated elite with a large poor and uneducated mass of people, and of course, one party rule. California has successfully duplicated the Mexican model. And California, which has for decades been the early adopter of future American trends, shows us what the entire country will look like in a few decades.

So yes, other things matter too, not just demographics, however as California demonstrates, all things being equal, over time demographic change is probably the largest single determinate.  Demographically speaking, as Ann Coulter pointed out, “If the same country that voted in 1980 had voted in 2012, Romney would have won a bigger landslide than Reagan did.”

In the Trump, Black Swan era, it’s easy to dismiss demographic change as having an effect on our politics, but there it is, chugging along, year after year, turning the United States into California.

 

 

 

Anand Giridharadas in Fear

Our old buddy Anand Giridharadas was back on Morning Joe, and boy how the tables have turned. I wrote in October how New York Times writer Giridharadas, on a Morning Joe appearance, couldn’t wait for the post election score settling with his arch enemy, white men.

“I think the people who went that way and that Trump movement and perhaps supported things about women they don’t actually support or supported things about bashing Muslims that they don’t in their deepest of hearts support, need to think about the fact that globalization and all of that was hard on everybody. It wasn’t just hard on White guys. For some reason, women lost their jobs in globalization, Black and Brown people lost their jobs in globalization, and managed not to lash out. I think there needs to be a reckoning, frankly, with white manhood in this country.”

But now the tables have turned, and with a Trump victory, Giridharadas has gone from a Brownshirt inciting a Caucasian Kristallnacht to shivering in fear in a Dutch attic.  Enjoy:

When Joe Scarborough has to be the voice of reason, “Hitler is not coming back,” then you know that someone’s gone off the deep end. But however much I’m enjoying the schadenfreude of Giridharadas having a special snowflake breakdown on television, it serves as a reminder that however much he now fears internment camps, Muslim banning, and all the rest, he’s the type of person who either thinks that you have your hands on his throat, or he’s going to have his hands on your throat.  If the tables had been turned, and Hillary had won, he would have been the first one urging internment camps and whatever final solution he feels appropriate to handle that pesky white male problem.

Demography is destiny and eventually the Democrats will be back in power.  And when they are, there will be Anand Giridharadas and others like him urging on their own pogrom.

Getting it Wrong

Or…Revisiting my Prediction Model

It’s worth looking back to try to understand why I got my Presidential Prediction so wrong.  I take no comfort that virtually every Pundit and pollster got it wrong.  After all, they don’t care, are usually wrong anyway, and have no record to protect.  I do have a record, and it’s been a pretty good one until November 8th.  Not that I’m complaining mind you.  I’m (still) over the moon at The Trumpening.  Election night was like a dream, and as the kids say, a dream is a wish your heart makes.  By the way by “kids” I’m not referring to millennials, I mean actual little kids.

But I did make a prediction…that Donald Trump wouldn’t win.  Back in August, I said this:

“Trump is deliberately using language that can be construed in the worse possible way in order to generate publicity.  With decades of experience at being a celebrity, he has taken to heart the publicist adage that there is no such thing as bad publicity.  And in terms of generating publicity, he’s been an outstanding success if you count it by minutes of airtime or lines of copy in print.  Certainly there would have been zero media coverage discussing poor decisions by the Obama administration leading to the creation of ISIS without Trump.  Getting those issues out there and forcing a hostile media to talk about issues they don’t want to discuss is also a success.

However in politics, that isn’t reflected in the polls.  Kanye West is great at generating publicity for him, but at the cost of it being almost uniformly bad publicity.  This may be a great strategy for getting on Page 6, but it’s a terrible one if your goal is to win a general election.  So my reason for not making a prediction on the election earlier was because I thought that Trump could easily fix his problems; stop attacking other Republicans, stick to prepared speeches and stump speeches, ease off twitter, and his polling would go back up because after all, people really don’t like Hillary Clinton and would love for an excuse not to vote for her.  But Trump thinks that generating unfavorable publicity is the ticket to success, and as long as he both thinks and acts like it is, Hillary Clinton is the next President.”

But something happened in the final few weeks of the campaign.  Trump started taking my advice (well…delivered by Kellyanne Conway).  He did stop attacking other Republicans, he stuck to prepared speeches, and somehow, someone got hold of his phone and locked him out of twitter.  All things that started to allow Trump to start rising again in the polls.  For sure, there were outside factors that helped too.  FBI Director Comey reopening the email investigation for half a minute was too much for some wavering Clinton voters to handle.   The fact that he closed it again almost as soon as he reopened it didn’t fix the damage.  Even the Clinton campaign realized that.

So what made Trump change direction and start doing things he should have been doing ever since the Republican convention?  I can only imagine that he finally realized that he was close to becoming a loser, the worst thing imaginable in Trumpland, and Conway and other assorted advisors were giving him a pathway to avoid the hated L word.

And it worked.

Does this make me look again at my underlying factum regarding elections?  No, I think my “demography is destiny” thesis is still sound.  The white share of the electorate will probably be 68% in 2020, 2% less than 2016.  That makes it a much harder slog for Republicans then, regardless of any other underlying issues or current events of the campaign.  However as I’ve stated previously, Donald Trump, a totally unconventional candidate in almost every way, is a Black Swan Event.  And as a commenter stated, “Black Swans matter.”  But the election of Trump throws trends up in the air.  As Yoda might say: “Difficult to see.  Always in motion is the future.”

 

 

 

 

 

A few More Election Observations

Just a couple of observations:

The Return of the War on Women: It wasn’t really called that this year, but in the pearl clutching, fainting couch department, it was 2012 all over again.  Where Romney was portrayed as insensitive and clueless when it comes to women, Trump has been portrayed as a sexual predator.  The failure of the typical War-on-Women attacks in 2014 lead many Republican “thinkers” to believe that it was an expired tactic, but that’s really just a reflection of the difference in the electorate that shows up in Presidential year elections and non Presidential ones.  I predict that in 2018 Republicans will once again declare the War-on-Women tactics dead, and then be surprised when they work like a charm in 2020.

Power over Principles:  Ideology barely made a single campaign stop in probably one of the most ideology free Presidential campaigns in my lifetime.  The Democrats have long espoused a policy, modeled off of Samuel Gompers’s famous quote, of “more.”  The Democratic coalition has long been a “more” party, rather than an ideological party; as long as that “More” comes from the other guys. That’s been Democratic Policy for decades, but the shift of some #nevertrump holdouts as the election neared showed that no matter how you want to slice it ideologically, there are two broad coalitions in American politics, a generally left leaning extraction coalition, and a generally right leaning production coalition.  How else to explain that the same anti war crowd that voted for Obama based on his promise to leave Iraq now voted for the candidate that promised to confront Russia, militarily if necessary, to establish a no fly zone in Syria?

It’s the Identity stupid:  The economy barely showed up as an issue in the campaign.  In fact, it was probably less of a factor in any election in my lifetime, and that includes economic high points hit during the Reagan and Clinton administrations.  The Obama economy has been no high point, but, as I observed in 2012:

“Even if Romney had won, it would have been the last gasp of an archaic idea in US politics; political parties that are more or less based on policy decisions and ideas and to a lesser degree, ideology and the left/right continuum   Eventually, I suspect that we will be voting according to our ethnic, gender, and sexual preferences.  In other words, our politics will become more tribal.”

I’m quite the prophet!  So the economy and public policy proposals (except on the Trump side) were minor accessories to this year’s election, not the central focus as they had been in the past.  But we’re a different country now so tribe is more important than policy. Meanwhile, Trump won about 60% of the white vote although I think these numbers understate that.  Hopefully there will be better data in a few weeks and I’m betting it will show a much higher percentage of the white vote.  That’s the only way I can figure that Trump won such a large victory and won so many previously out of reach states when the percentage of the white vote dropped 2% from 72% in 2012 to 70% in 2016. Although Trump won a higher percentage of both the Black vote and Hispanic vote than Romney did, that just doesn’t give you the margin of victory that Trump managed.  As an aside, that 2% drop in the White electorate every four years seems like a good rule of thumb to calculate how much more of the white vote Republicans will need to win in the future to be competitive.  Some liberal wag on twitter made the comment last night that the white working class finally started voting like a minority.

Yep.

That’s the future, love it or hate it (I hate it personally, but I didn’t bake this cake).

Policy loses to Persuasion:  Dilbert writer Scott Adams has distinguished himself as the preeminent political prognosticator of this election.  Adams predicted a Trump landslide in 2015 and has been following up on the campaign at his blog, which has turned out to be the most accurate site on Trump for the duration of the campaign.  Adam’s experience in the techniques of persuasion gave invaluable insight into why stupid things that Trump said weren’t stupid at all, they were deliberate attempts to create an imagery and mood and how to feel about something.  Once he had tagged Jeb Bush as “low energy Jeb” you couldn’t help but analyze his speech and the way he physically handled himself to see if he was “low energy.”  Brilliant!   All of Jeb’s 100 million dollars couldn’t save him after that.

I’m sure I’ll have other observations about the election and I’ll post them as they come, but the Trump victory is really making me look forward to Thanksgiving Day dinner conversation.  I intend to make Thanksgiving great again!

 

Seizing the Cockpit of the Flight 93 Election

trump-victory

OK I was wrong.

Back in August I predicted that Trump would lose to Clinton, and even further back, in 2014, I predicted that Senate would go back to the Democrats. Instead, Trump smashed down the gates of the establishment, winning the Presidency with (as of this writing) 279 electoral votes.  I also predicted that Florida would go Democratic this year.  I was wrong about that too. Instead, this Black Swan Event totally disrupted the polls and the process. How sure was I that Hillary Clinton was going to win?  Last weekend I wrote a totally different draft version of this post, one that made the assumption that Clinton would win: one that would be ready to publish as soon as the networks called the election.  I didn’t even bother to prepare an alternate version.  After all, Clinton had been leading in the polls most of the year, and in that way it resembled 2012 or 1996.  The polls would have to have been totally wrong in order to get another result.

Well they were wrong.

This election truly was the Flight 93 election. While writing this I had thought for sure I had written about this article previously and apparently didn’t.  And for that, I apologize to my readers, since I regard it as the most important piece that’s come out this year in defining the stakes of this election for the right.  Well even though the election is over, it’s still worth reading in its entirety. But just a few excerpts to summarize the main thesis:

“2016 is the Flight 93 election: charge the cockpit or you die. You may die anyway. You—or the leader of your party—may make it into the cockpit and not know how to fly or land the plane. There are no guarantees.

Except one: if you don’t try, death is certain. To compound the metaphor: a Hillary Clinton presidency is Russian Roulette with a semi-auto. With Trump, at least you can spin the cylinder and take your chances.

To ordinary conservative ears, this sounds histrionic. The stakes can’t be that high because they are never that high—except perhaps in the pages of Gibbon. Conservative intellectuals will insist that there has been no “end of history” and that all human outcomes are still possible. They will even—as Charles Kesler does—admit that America is in “crisis.” But how great is the crisis? Can things really be so bad if eight years of Obama can be followed by eight more of Hillary, and yet Constitutionalist conservatives can still reasonably hope for a restoration of our cherished ideals?”

“Let’s be very blunt here: if you genuinely think things can go on with no fundamental change needed, then you have implicitly admitted that conservatism is wrong. Wrong philosophically, wrong on human nature, wrong on the nature of politics, and wrong in its policy prescriptions. Because, first, few of those prescriptions are in force today. Second, of the ones that are, the left is busy undoing them, often with conservative assistance. And, third, the whole trend of the West is ever-leftward, ever further away from what we all understand as conservatism.”

“One of the Journal of American Greatness’s deeper arguments was that only in a corrupt republic, in corrupt times, could a Trump rise. It is therefore puzzling that those most horrified by Trump are the least willing to consider the possibility that the republic is dying. “

Basically, the country is declining, which is an argument I’ve been making for years. I don’t believe any other Republican candidate could have won this year.  The Republican brand is trashed and only a Republican who has an identity of something other than a Republican, like Trump, could have fought through that.  That eliminates almost any other “normal” candidate.  Normal has not been working for a while.

So the question has to be asked, does this mean my basic thesis, that our politics is becoming more tribal and based on identity politics wrong?  I think it actually confirms it. I’ll be curious to look at more hard data on the demographic breakdown as it’s released in the days ahead, but winning Ohio and especially Pennsylvania, which last went Republican in 1988, shows that Trump did exceptionally well with the white working class.  Trumps version of the Sailer Strategy, which is that Republicans should go after the white vote in the same way that Democrats go after the Black or Hispanic vote, appeared successful.  Although I don’t think that was an intentional racial appeal on Trump’s part, when your platform reflects the concerns of the white working class, the results will be similar. As Lee Kwan Yew, the late former President of Singapore noted, “In multiracial societies, you don’t vote in accordance with your economic interests and social interests, you vote in accordance with your race and religion.”  That’s been the trend in the US for a generation; everyone is bunching up according to their identity group.  The last people to recognize that was happening were the Republicans.  I think at this point, they’ll have to learn to accept and deal with that reality.

So it looks like the passengers were able to rush the cockpit and grab the controls, but it’s not clear yet if they can land it.