Predictions for 2017

Given how well I did with my 2016 Predictions I thought I would give it another go and see what I thought would be likely for 2017.

At least 3 terrorist attacks in Western Europe resulting in double digit casualties.  Why?  Because Muslims will continue to be Muslim.

Angela Merkel wins the Nobel Peace Prize.  Because that is exactly the kind of retarded thing the Nobel Prize Committee would do.

Most of the ObamaCare (ACA) legislation will be repealed.  I say most because there are a few items that may be either too politically popular (keeping kids on their parent’s plan until 26) or were already part of Republican replacement plans (pre-existing conditions).

The FED will raise interest rates by at least three-quarters of a point.  The FED just recently raised the short term interest rates by a quarter of a point, the first increase in 2016.  This strikes me as a totally political decision, since Janet Yellen was a target of Trump and I’ve no doubt she’ll raise rates at least another ¾ of a point in 2017 in hopes of stalling the economy to punish Trump for his impertinence.

Articles of Impeachment against Donald Trump will be introduced in the House.  Why?  Because the Democrats are already talking about that now.  Waiting until Trump is President is merely a formality.

There will be at least one assassination attempt against Donald Trump this year. When the media has been promoting the “literally Hitler” meme for the past year, would it be surprising that some earnest liberals take the Dead Zone option and try to take Greg Stillson out?

Marine Le Pen will be elected President of France.  Although Michel Houellebecq’s novel Submission predicted an establishment deal to elect a Muslim political party winning the Presidency of France, in real life the current populist uprising may hit the French shores quicker than you can say The Camp of the Saints. Brexit, Trump, and the constant Islamic terrorist attacks may cause a public revulsion where people will just say, “enough.”  In some ways, that would be a bigger deal than Trump winning the Presidency.  The French establishment has been fighting populist nationalism a lot longer than the American GOP-Democratic-Media alliance.  So if that goes, dominos will fall all over Europe with dismal prospects for the EU.  That would slide in nicely with another prediction of mine, that the EU will be mostly undone by 2020.

Not really a prediction, more of a certainty, but every foreign policy decision made by the Trump White House will be called either idiotic or ignorant.

A Positive Trumpian Vision

On election night/morning, I was up way too late (or early) basking in the glory that was the Trumpening, when I was pinged on Facebook Messenger by a friend who was also up way too late (or early). We discussed our various states of happiness and satisfaction at seeing the smug wiped from liberal commentators’ faces live on TV.  It was a glorious evening, but my friend was also hopeful that this would change the direction of my posting.  In other words, my blog, in regard to political matters, had gotten way too depressing; decline, doom and gloom…it doesn’t make cheery reading sometimes, and I couldn’t argue with his point.  In fact, I had recognized that myself.  Although I’ve loved arguing and discussing politics, for the past two years I’ve mostly stopped bringing it up around company simply because I’ve recognized that I don’t have very much hopeful to say, and even I don’t want to hear the same doom and gloom.  Of course, if someone else brought up politics, then I had no problem contributing to the discussion figuring, “Eh, you asked for it.”  But I knew that there was no point in me bringing it up or discussing it when it did nothing but make me a buzz kill.  Besides, there were other things to talk about.

But if there was anything that should make me hopeful about the future, a Trump victory, against all odds, with a Republican House and Senate should do the trick. And although there are plenty of negative things I could write about what that might mean, I think I owe myself at least one positive post on what a Trump administration could mean for arresting American Decline.

My central thesis on Democratic politics over the past couple of decades, and what’s wrong with American politics, goes back to Identity Politics. More and more we’re voting by tribe, rather than on issues.  With the major defeat Democrats have suffered, some of them are being introspective and are trying to see where they went wrong.  In The New York Times, The End of Identity Liberalism, explores whether Democrats had gone too far in dividing, and then buying votes, by identity.

“…But how should this diversity shape our politics? The standard liberal answer for nearly a generation now has been that we should become aware of and “celebrate” our differences. Which is a splendid principle of moral pedagogy — but disastrous as a foundation for democratic politics in our ideological age. In recent years American liberalism has slipped into a kind of moral panic about racial, gender and sexual identity that has distorted liberalism’s message and prevented it from becoming a unifying force capable of governing.

One of the many lessons of the recent presidential election campaign and its repugnant outcome is that the age of identity liberalism must be brought to an end. Hillary Clinton was at her best and most uplifting when she spoke about American interests in world affairs and how they relate to our understanding of democracy. But when it came to life at home, she tended on the campaign trail to lose that large vision and slip into the rhetoric of diversity, calling out explicitly to African-American, Latino, L.G.B.T. and women voters at every stop. This was a strategic mistake. If you are going to mention groups in America, you had better mention all of them. If you don’t, those left out will notice and feel excluded. Which, as the data show, was exactly what happened with the white working class and those with strong religious convictions…”

So I think it’s fair to say that the white working class did notice that they were excluded from Hillary Clinton’s America.  Not only did they not count, they were considered part of the problem. Some Democrats went even further and felt White Men were a problem to be dealt with.  If you are promising a Caucasian Kristallnacht, that’s not a way to win votes; at least white working class votes.  But this was no bug in the Clinton election machine; this was supposed to be a feature. The Obama 2012 re-election campaign explicitly excluded White Males as part of a re-election strategy.  Clinton planned to simply copy what worked with Obama; a coalition of the fringes implicitly against White Men. I don’t think the Democrats current soul searching on identity politics will last long.  Already they are considering Congressman Keith Ellison, 9/11 Truther, a far left ideologue and Muslim for DNC Chairman, Ellison is, as they might have said on 30 Rock, is a “two-for.” Whether that’s the right choice for a party rethinking its commitment to identity politics is obvious.

But that leaves an opening for a Trumpian alternative.  It’s not a new idea.  Paleo conservatism referred to it as Economic Nationalism, and Columnist Steve Sailer refers to it as Citizenism, or Civic Nationalism.  Basically, it’s a governing philosophy that prioritizes Americans and American national interests over more nebulous ideological goals.  This of course is much of what Trump stands for, and stands apart from much current Republican or Democratic platform planks.

Trade: Trade should serve the interests of American workers.  Opening markets is great, but labor cost shopping to set up American factories in other countries to dump the more expensive labor costs of the US, only to turn around and import those manufactured goods back to the US tariff free.

Immigration: The goals of US immigration policy should be to benefit American workers. It’s not to ease the unemployment problems of other countries (Mexico) or to provide coolie labor to American corporations (Indian coders) so they can fire more expensive American workers.

Foreign Policy: The goal of US foreign policy should be to advance US national interests, not to subordinate those interests to other nations or groups of nations, i.e. “the world.”  Although often the goals of the world and the United States may coincide, like the Gulf War.  Other times, they won’t, such as in Kosovo and Libya (and Syria could be added to the mix).

These are all policies that in theory should be attractive to the working and middle classes across all cultural, ethnic, or racial lines.  In a rational political culture, people would tend to vote their class interests.  However the US, in the throes of multi-cultural nonsense and identity politics people tend to vote their demographics.  Not in a perfect sense, and in the US in the 21st Century, your identity group isn’t simply “blood, soil, and gods.”  It can be your sexual orientation, your gender identity, or if you view yourself as “elite” or not.  But in modern America, your hyphen in most cases outweighs your identity as simply an American.

But still, this is mostly an ethnic/racial thing.  And most people who identify hyphen-American identify by their ethnic or racial group. After being told for decades by the overarching leftist oriented culture that is the most important defining thing about a person, good old fashioned assimilation has been stopped in its tracks. This of course spells doom to Republican or any version of Conservative politics, however writer John O’Sullivan wrote a brilliant piece in National Review called The Latino Voting Surge that Never Happened.  For me the surprise that a magazine that had defined itself in opposition to Donald Trump seems to have bended the knee and has for the most part accepted that Trump is the President elect.  In some ways, I imagine this acceptance was just as difficult for NR as it was for Hillary Clinton.  In any case, I encourage you to read the article, however these excerpts summarize the argument:

“That brings us to the second political conclusion: If Republicans campaign on the basis of the real ethnic nature of American society, they can win most elections most of the time. What is that real nature? Democrats and their allies like to present the electoral choice as one between a party of white America in retreat and one of minority America on the advance. As we have seen, however, their “white America” is a misnomer for a mainstream America that incorporates assimilated minorities so comfortably that they are generally unaware of having once belonged to a minority.” 

In other words, as I’ve said before, race may or may not be a social construct, but being white definitely is.

 “Pre-election commentary tended to suggest that, whether he intended it or not, Trump was the focus of a new politics of “white identity.” Some of Trump’s casual racial remarks certainly pointed in that direction. But his entire campaign, encapsulated in his slogan “Make America Great Again,” was directed to reviving a strong politics of national identity encompassing all Americans. Maybe the best way of accounting for the Latino vote, for instance, would be to say that Trump’s insulting remarks were ultimately outweighed by the fact that he presented a strong image of leadership that would put the interests of all Americans first. It is not hard to imagine that a Republican candidate who ran on a politics of cultivating and celebrating a generous American national identity but who also treated his opponents courteously and all citizens with respect would make his Majority-Minority coalition into a dominant electoral coalition in a less ravaged society.”

So everyone can be white!

Even within my demography is destiny worldview, I had left myself an out, as I wrote two years ago in Some Snags in the Inevitable Decline and Death of the GOP.  Every non white group isn’t African American, and is not going to give 90% of their vote to Democrats based on a paper bag skin tone test. And in the long run, every non white group isn’t even non white.  On some level, the Democrats recognize this and are fighting back:

”The White House is putting forward a proposal to add a new racial category for people from the Middle East and North Africa under what would be the biggest realignment of federal racial definitions in decades.

If approved, the new designation could appear on census forms in 2020 and could have far-reaching implications for racial identity, anti-discrimination laws and health research.

Under current law, people from the Middle East are considered white, the legacy of century-old court rulings in which Syrian Americans argued that they should not be considered Asian — because that designation would deny them citizenship under the1882 Chinese Exclusion Act. But scholars and community leaders say more and more people with their roots in the Middle East find themselves caught between white, black and Asian classifications that don’t fully reflect their identities.”

If the Democrats thought they could get away with it, they would create 100 different racial categories and end the non-Hispanic white majority right now.  So in the same way I noted a Trumpian political platform that should be attractive to a broad majority of Americans, there is a social agenda needed to unhinge the left’s Balkanization of the country:

The Census: Get rid of the Hispanic category.  It serves no useful purpose and serves a lot of dangerous ones.  It’s a pseudo racial category that’s an attempt to keep anyone from a country where Spanish is the dominate language in the same downtrodden group, from a classics professor from Barcelona to an illiterate Guatemalan peasant. Although these are ultimately political decisions, I would trade having a Mestizo category in order to get rid of the Hispanic category.  At least Mestizo’s can arguably claim to be sort of a racial category.  Obviously I would oppose adding a separate Middle Eastern category.

Promote the Mainstream:  I think O’Sullivan really hit on something when he suggested that white America is really mainstream America.  So maybe it should just be referred to that way, in words and speeches, the goal is bringing everyone into mainstream America.

Junk Affirmative Action:  Affirmative Action has been a very effective tool in splitting up the country.  “Diverse” vs White People.   This is the pivot that has created the current social situation where the Democratic Party is partly defined in opposition to white people.  Middle Easterners would be a lot less interested in defining themselves as non white if they were not able to take advantage of minority small business loans and other affirmative action programs.  Take away the giveaway advantages of being non white and people would be less interested in defining themselves that way.  At least for the near term, I would still keep affirmative action for African Americans and Native Americans.  At least those two groups can plausibly claim historic discrimination that’s damaged current prospects, something that other ethnic categories can’t plausibly claim.

A combination of these political and social planks could create a governing platform for a new governing majority in America, mainstream Americans.  Of course this hinges on how successful a Trump Presidency is.  Considering how improbable a Trump Presidency was in the first place, I’m going to bet on continued winning.

 

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.

 

Conspiracy Theories Move Left to Right

Donald Trump’s delicious troll of the media last week, when he advertised a major speech on Birtherism and then proceeded to have military veterans praising him was so tasty, I actually laughed out loud, particularly when he gave this line, “Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it.”

Beautiful!

It’s had some nice side effects as well, since the media was hoping to damage Trump with the taint of the Birther conspiracy and instead by Trump pointing out that the original birther might be Hillary herself, the media; in it’s attempt to clear the old gal of those scurrilous charges, finds the truth more complicated.

So now we’ve spent a couple of days on the media attempting to clear Clinton of the birther charges, while at the same time unwittingly associating birthers and Clinton in the public mind.  One has to wonder if Trump just haplessly stumbled on this strategy or he planned it all along.

As for me, I’ve known since 2008 that it was an idea that originated with Democrats, Particularly the “PUMA’s” (Party Unity My Ass) who were fighting a last ditch effort for Hillary in the 2008 campaign.  The very first time I heard the Birther conspiracy, it was from a Hillary supporting acquaintance.  She dropped the idea as soon as Obama was nominated but it apparently had quite a roll in anti Obama Democratic circles for a while.  The Daily Beast did a pretty good origin story of birtherism and how it originated in the Democratic Party in order to provide the basis of a lawsuit against the DNC to prevent the nomination of someone who, if he were actually born overseas, wouldn’t be eligible for the Presidency. And since Clinton lackey Sidney Blumenthal tried to stir up interest in the news media on investigating Obama’s birthplace during the 2008 race, it’s hard not to see the hand of Clinton pushing the story.

But despite PUMA expectations, the party really did unify after Obama’s nomination.  All was forgiven and Birtherism was forgotten, at least it was forgotten by all but a small fringe until 2011 when Donald Trump suddenly made it an issue.  Trump breathed life into a fringe idea and firmly shifted it to the right.  Trump’s birther claims and “investigation” was one of the more difficult issues I had to overcome in order to endorse him, since as I’ve previously mentioned, I don’t like conspiracy theories and hate wasting time on them.  As much as any one single person is to blame, Trump is to blame for making birtherism a right wing conspiracy, instead of leaving it on the left wing where it belonged.

But that’s the way of conspiracy theories isn’t?  At least to my observation, they seem to start on the left, but eventually drift over to the right.  Birtherism is a good example, but there are others.

The 9/11 Conspiracy theory was a pretty well established leftist conspiracy theory by 9/12.  By 2006, over half of Democrats thought that George Bush was either responsible for the 9/11 attacks or knew of them ahead of time and let them go forward.  Now CNN commenter Van Jones lost his job with the Obama administration for his 9/11 views (among other things).  Democratic Congressman and general nutcase Alan Grayson believes that “Bush let it happen.”  But now, with no Bush in the White House to torment, interest in 9/11 Conspiracies has faded too, although there are people on the right dipping their toes into it, something that was uncommon during the Bush Presidency.

Vaccines are a popular conspiracy.  Bill Maher, official voice of “science” on the left didn’t believe in them, and Robert Kennedy Jr. has been the Congressional voice of the vaccines cause autism movement, an issue that both candidates Obama and Clinton had to dance gingerly around in 2008, but Trump was the one who was dancing around it in 2015.

Why the left will invent these wacky ideas, play with them, and then toss them aside for the right to pick up later I can’t quite grasp.  If anyone has any ideas on why conspiracy theories start on the left and move right I would like to hear.

Unless of course, the answer is another conspiracy theory.

The Alt Right and the Jews

Created by Donald's Apotheosis

Created by Donald’s Apotheosis

Hillary Clinton’s denunciation of the Alt Right brought up many questions among her supporters, such as “What is the alt right?”  In fact, it’s not a numerically significant part of the US population nor is it a faction of the Republican Party, like the Tea Party, or Neo-Cons are (or maybe were).  So it’s curious that Clinton would try to frame her real purpose this way, since the real purpose of the speech was to denounce Trump and his supporters as racist.  In fact, the Democratic candidate calling the Republican candidate and his supporters racists is probably the most normal thing that’s happened in this campaign so far.  I’m sure a lot of pundits breathed a sigh of relief that at least this was a normal and predictable thing in political campaigns.

But the idea of using the term alt right into a major speech and make it the major focus seems odd since virtually no one outside of political junkies would even know what that term means. My guess is just like her opponent; Hillary has a bit of the conspiracy theorist in her.  Remember the vast right wing conspiracy?  So trying to pin a small but very internet active group as the real brains behind the Trump campaign may appeal to her sense of sinister unseen forces plotting against the Clinton machine.

I could write multiple posts on the Alt Right but for the uninitiated, Breitbart published a pretty good summary a few months ago here and due to recent interest, there have been several others that have popped up, including this one. The gist, and why it defies easy summary, is because it’s not one group but multiple groups with differing interests, goals, and agendas.  Basically it’s all kinds of right leaning groups that are outside mainstream conservatism and because of that, with no party to call home or realistic political agenda, they’re not really politically active, although they are certainly internet active.  So Hillary, in her tinfoil hat wearing way, is totally wrong that they are pulling the strings on puppet Trump.  And she’s wrong that they nothing but relabeled KKK or Nazi’s.

But not totally wrong.

There are racists and anti-Semites within the Alt Right and that could also generate multiple posts, but for now I want to concentrate on the anti-Semitic elements.  A few days ago a Jewish alt right blog was started (yes, there are Jews in the Alt Right) that in its commenting FAQ had very specific instructions in dealing with anti Semitic comments.  Frankly, I’d never seen or heard of such a thing before, but hey, it is the internet, so it’s probably a good idea that if you are Jewish writing for an audience in which a certain percentage are likely to not like Jews, maybe some guidelines are in order.  In the Instructions for Comment Registration, it defined antisemitism as:

“… defined by this blog as anyone obsessed with the idea Jews are an unassimilated minority which has significantly different ethnic, religious, or cultural objectives and political motives from those of other elite whites.”

Somehow I don’t think I would meet the definition of “elite white.”

“The position of this blog is that Jews are a highly assimilated white ethnic group that does not significantly differ in its positions or motivations from other elite whites, and that the nature of the points where there are differences are largely cosmetic.”

I think that’s probably a pretty good working definition of anti-Semitism as any I’ve come across.  And I would agree that in the United States, Jews are a highly assimilated white ethnic group; too assimilated for some Jewish leaders when you consider the non Orthodox Jewish intermarriage rate is an astounding 71%.

And for that and many other reasons, I find anti-Semitism one of the most difficult bigotries to understand.

When I first started commenting and posting about politics on internet forums, I noticed the preponderance of anti-Semitism came from the left. Jews have come a long way from Holocaust victims to Palestinian oppressors, but that is basically how the left views Jews; through the lens of Israel.  The left, and particularly the American left, loves an underdog and in the post World War II era, that described the Jews to a tee. But the very success of Israel moved Jews from the underdog/victim category to oppressor category (for the left, there is no in-between).  Suddenly, the Palestinians became the victims, and their decades long terrorist war against the Israel supporting nations in general and Israel in particular suddenly became the war of a freedom fighter.  Leftist Jews in the US usually continued to be leftist with the exception of the Israel question.  For non Jews, more and more part and parcel of leftist ideology was the goal of eliminating Israel as a Jewish state, either through integration of the Palestinian territories into Israel proper and letting democracy finish the job, or…some other way.

But leftist anti-Semitism was really the only type of anti-Semitism that I’ve had any knowledge of.  I knew historically, there was an anti-Semitic Right; Jews were kept out of WASP country clubs and so forth, but I was blind to a contemporary one.  A lot of that has to do with my own upbringing.  Raised in the evangelical South, Jews were God’s chosen people. With very few actual Jews in the South but lots of Bibles, the idea of what a Jew is came from the Bible and evangelical interpretations of it.  So if you’re an evangelical Christian, you have a duty to love God’s chosen people.

Polling bears that out.  A poll of how various religious groups rate each other reveals that Jews are rated more positively by white evangelical Christians than any other group (excluding Jews themselves of course).  You won’t be surprised to learn that the feeling isn’t mutual.  The same poll shows that Jews rate white evangelical Christians the lowest of all polled religious groups, slightly below Muslims who are trying to kill them on a daily basis.  For the evangelical Christian, that’s OK since Christian love doesn’t require reciprocation.  But the sweet irony of that does mean that evangelical Christians, who became a potent political force in the Republican Party during the 1980’s under Ronald Reagan, helped finish the job that William F. Buckley started in the early 1960’s, by not only clearing the Republican Party of any trace of anti-Semitism, but go a few steps further and install a pro Israel right or wrong plank as key to Republican foreign policy.

But the alt Right is a different animal from the typical church going Republican. There are alt Right factions that are pretty openly hostile to Jews.  Their anti-Semitism is more an old fashioned version in which Jews are part of some conspiracy to destroy Christianity/Western Civilization/White People/Fill-In-The-Blank.  Those anti Semitic factions view immigration as part of some Jewish plot to destroy the country.

It’s so absurd that it’s hard to understand how anyone could take seriously the idea that Jews, as Jews, have some big goal to open the borders to “get” the non Jews. Many Jews support open borders because they’re liberal, not because they’re Jews. It doesn’t even pass the logic test. Why would Jews want to fill up a country they live in with anti-Semitic middle easterners? Think how difficult Jewish life has gotten in places like France.  Who would plan to import millions of people who want to kill you into their country?  Now Jews are fleeing France because of the view the terrorist threat there has made the entire country unsafe for them.

Great plan Jews.

Numerically, I don’t think Anti-Semitism is any great threat (at least in the United States) to Jews, although it’s interesting to note that according the FBI, the largest group of religious bias crimes are against…you guessed it, the Jews; with 56.8% of religious bias crimes against Jews. Jews punching above their weight again!  But Anti-Semitism is real thing, and where it exists on the Right, it is along the ridges and contours of the Alt Right.