The Bookworm Beat 7/19/16 — the “it never stops” edition and open thread
True confession: I didn’t watch the convention last night. Mr. Bookworm, whose politics don’t align with mine, got to the TV first.
I did read about it, however, and I came away with the impression that it was a blessing that so many turncoat GOP operatives stayed away. Frankly, operatives are dull. Instead, this convention put up real people, with real concerns.
Also, the Melania “plagiarism” is a tempest in a teapot. The only thing it’s good for is giving Leftist something to say. Their problem with last night’s convention is that, other than Melania’s borrowed phrases (something everyone in politics does, Joe Biden more than most), there’s nothing they can point out without making themselves look like racists, cop haters, law-breakers, or America haters. Put another way, if the only thing that Lefties can pick on is five or six borrowed phrases, it was a staggeringly successful first night.
You’re not a fascist demagogue if you’re arguing for a return to the status quo of 2006 or so. Victor Davis Hanson made an excellent point at the top of his list at National Review (a #NeverTrump bastion) detailing the ten reasons Trump might win:
1. Not a Typical Populist
When critics are not slurring Trump as Hitler or Mussolini, they write him off, in sloppy fashion, as a dangerous populist — at worst an hysterical, demagogic Huey Long, at best a quirky Ross Perot: in other words, a flash in the pan who capitalizes on occasional but brief surges of Neanderthal isolationism, protectionism, nativism, xenophobia, and collective insecurity among the lower middle classes.
That diagnosis is rehashed groupthink. By any definition, Trump is not a classical populist. His traction derives from opposing unchecked and cynical illegal immigration, not diverse and measured legal immigration. And he is rebelling not so much against a flabby, sclerotic status quo as against a radical, even revolutionary regime of elites who are now well beyond accustomed norms. It is hardly radical to oppose the Confederate doctrine of legal nullification in more than 300 sanctuary cities, or a de facto open border with Mexico, or doubling the national debt in eight years, or ruining the nation’s health-care system with the most radical reconstruction in the history of American health-care policy, or systematically running huge trade deficits with an autocratic China that does not adhere to international norms of free trade and predicates expanding political and military power in the South China Sea on its commercial mercantilism. Trump seemed incendiary in the primaries, but as he is juxtaposed to the official Clinton extremist agenda, he will likely be reinterpreted increasingly as more mainstream — a probability enhanced by his selection of Mike Pence as his running-mate.
Trump seems extremist in speech, but as the campaign wears on, Hillary may confirm that she is more extremist in fact. It may well be that voters would prefer a brash-talking pragmatist to sober and judicious ideologues. Sloppy talk about temporarily limiting immigration from the Middle East is not so injurious as contrived efforts never to utter the phrase “radical Islam.” Clinton, Obama, and Sanders have moved the Democratic party radically to the left; Trump in some areas has pushed the Republican party to the center. The voter terrified of ISIS, record debt, the spiraling cost of his health care, perceived U.S. decline, and the seemingly violent racial Balkanization of the country — but not terrified of gay marriage or tough trade talks with China — may find Clinton, not Trump, the true radical.
Those reasons are why I too think that Trump has a better chance of winning than the current polls suggest. As long as he doesn’t make a terrible mistake, his message will stick. Also, I’m not too worried about an October surprise from someone who’s lived his life so publicly. Unlike the Duke of Wellington, he’ll never need to say “Publish and be damned.” He’s already published everything. (Speaking of publishing, his Leftist co-writer on the Art of the Deal is now saying Trump is Satan incarnate. I’m not impressed because his manifest political bias — he’s a “lifelong liberal” — damages his credibility in my eyes. And anyway, I know Trump is a sociopath. So is Obama. So is Hillary. But at least Trump is my sociopath.)
#NeverTrump’s problem is that there’s no one other than Trump. Peter Spilakos points out the obvious:
Whether they were a governor, or a senator – whether they were white, black, Hispanic, or Asian — whether they were male or female — any candidate that emerged from a contested convention brokered among the party’s elites would almost certainly be part of the elite Republican consensus.
Many of the most determined NeverTrumpers in political journalism are among the harshest critics of the arrogant, and entitled Republican establishment, but a NeverTrump convention coup would most likely have produced a candidacy that would be based on the smug, business class Republicanism that was explicitly rejected by two-thirds of the party electorate. Trump is the wrong answer, but I don’t think rebuilding a broad-based conservatism starts with explaining why Trump is bad. It starts with Republican leaders (and aspirant leaders) understanding all the ways that the Republicanism of the George W. Bush administration, and the Romney campaign, and the 2012 Republican National Committee autopsy were insufficient to the needs of the moment. It starts with saying to Trump supporters (and Bernie supporters, and Clinton supporters) “This is where we got it wrong, and this is how we can get it right.” It starts with humility rather than self-righteousness.
To which Ace adds the appropriate coda:
One of the great things about being among the self-declared elite is that you are, definitionally, #NeverWrong. That’s what makes you elite, after all. If you’re ever wrong, you’re not elite, therefore elites are always right.
On the Left, the #NeverHillary movement is also unhappy. The #NeverHillary crowd on the Left has conceded that Hillary is the candidate, but they’re not happy:
The Democratic Party is headed for a steep cliff at full speed, in the dark, without headlights and no brakes. It’s headed toward political suicide and it seems as though nothing can stop the speeding freight train from going off the edge. Here and there you’ll see Democrats trying to call attention to the impending danger, like Bernie Sanders, Tulsi Gabbard, and even Nina Turner, but no one in any leadership position seems to be paying attention. That’s because they’re all on the Hillary train, and they believe the other trains are those heading toward the cliff. They couldn’t be more wrong.
Bernie Sanders supporters do not want to vote for Hillary Clinton. They just don’t. And it doesn’t really matter who she chooses as her running mate, either. No matter who Clinton ultimately chooses, too many Sanders supporters will still refuse to vote for her. To clarify, any Democrat who chooses to join her ticket will effectively brand themselves “toxic” due to their association with Clinton.
I particularly enjoyed the article’s somewhat incoherent attack on Elizabeth Warren, a woman I’ve disliked and distrusted since my law school days:
Take the Democrat’s resident progressive darling, Elizabeth Warren. Until the day she endorsed Clinton, Sanders supporters had long hoped that Warren would endorse Bernie, and when she instead praised Clinton, it felts like a huge stab in the back. After all her years of criticizing corporate greed, and Clinton in particular, Sanders voters were left confused and angry that Warren could so easily turn against her principles and endorse one of the biggest pro-corporate shills in modern history.
Instead of being hailed as a hero for progressive values, Warren has been labeled a sell-out. Her popularity has plummeted drastically, as The Inquisitr reported previously. In short, Warren drew the ire of a very unforgiving progressive base by endorsing what many see as a candidate that is merely Republican-lite.
What about Gary Johnson? A conservative friend who knows I follow politics obsessively asked me, “What about Johnson, the libertarian candidate?” Here’s my response:
To be honest, I haven’t thought about Johnson at all. I’m a political pragmatist who hasn’t forgotten that, in 1992, a third party candidate handed what should have been a Republican victory Bill Clinton. I’m not saying that Bush Sr. would have had a successful second term and, back in the day, I was a Democrat who was grateful that there was a Democrat back in the White House. (I know, how stupid can you be, right?) However, I did learn the lesson which, applied today, says that a vote for Johnson is a vote for Hillary — and, thanks to Obama, Hillary already has the path cleared for her to reduce America to new age fascism: a toxic blend of complete government control, often carried out through the profit center of corporatism. Conservatives fear overreaching government; Leftists fear overreaching corporations. With Hillary, we’ll get both.
As far as I’m concerned, the time at which party members experiment with outliers is during the primaries. During the beginning of the Obama era, nice, polite, middle-class Americans experimented with the Tea Party. Back then, not only did the Democrat machinery spit all over that, so did the GOP. As Glenn Reynolds wrote about a month ago, Trump is the Tea Party revenge. People angry about what the existing political parties have done aren’t playing nice anymore and the majority of them saw Trump as the answer. He fights dirty and they want that.
Johnson is a milquetoast who does not and will not fight dirty or even fight hard. Also, the inherent problem with libertarianism is that it’s so devoted to individualism (a cause I highly support) that it seems to lack the presence to lead people to the individualism libertarians crave. It’s kind of like asking a cat to herd cats.
All of this means that, much as I’m not happy with Trump (I preferred that constitutional devotee, Ted Cruz), I see him as the least evil choice — and I believe that, as Kurt Schlichter wrote, Congress will finally protect its prerogatives in the face of a Trump presidency.
This is an extremely icky election year and I blame the GOP for that fact almost as much as I blame the Democrats.
My friend’s response? “You’re right. Crap!”
Germany’s decline under the weight of Islamism. It turns out that the payback against Germany for her Nazi past wasn’t the bombings and the American occupation. It was Germany’s self-inflicted destruction:
Sexual assault of women en masse was unheard of in modern Germany since the rape of Berlin in 1945, following the invasion of Soviet troops. But it became an abrupt reality again in 2016.
The news from Cologne shocked Europe, though the incidents were at first covered up to protect migrants. Police reports show that more than 2,000 men were involved in the sexual assaults. Only 120 of them were ever identified by the authorities. Those who were found were given suspended sentences of a year or less.
Both the scale of the crimes committed and the nationalities, religion and ethnicities of the assailants were obscured by both government and the media. Similar attacks in Hamburgand Stuttgart were simply not reported by journalists at all.
There are several reasons these attacks have not been reported on, or been reported on inaccurately. Firstly, the German police force itself covered them up. The Cologne police report released on January 1, described New Year’s Eve as “peaceful” and “relaxed.”
Even more astonishingly, an interviewee on Polish state TV has claimed CCTV footage of Cologne was deleted by senior police officers.
Germans aren’t surprised by such reports any more. According to the tabloid Express, the government is trying to find and prosecute a leaker in their own ranks who gave the press confidential information – namely, that the German government requested that Police did not include the word “rape” in their Cologne report.
The German media has been complicit in these machinations. State-funded ZDF initially refused to report on the incidents for reasons that remain unclear. After a massive wave of criticism and mockery on social media the broadcaster was forced to issue a public apology, after which the ZDF started extensively reporting on Cologne, but not on similar incidents in Stuttgart and Hamburg.
Among the German population there are now repeated accusations that German media has an agenda set by the government and that it sets editorial demands in line with the government’s wishes, which are dictated by politics and ideology.
In Germany today, accusations of racism and Nazi affiliations are quickly deployed if someone refuses to tow the party line, or becomes too politically incorrect. Many Germans still carry with them a sense of collective guilt and believe they have to make up for the sins of their grandfathers. This is especially true of older generations.
The fear of being accused of racism or neo-Nazism results in quick retractions and apologies in public life. The mere allegation of racist or nationalistic sentiments can endanger jobs, alienate friends and attract sensationalist media coverage.
You really must read the whole thing.
When I shared the above article with Wolf Howling, he wrote back the following:
One, where are the husbands, fathers and brothers of these women?
Two, anything built on a view that is unrealistic is doomed to fail. This will fail catastrophically, but what ends up as the result could be anything from Muslim domination to Muslim slaughter.
Three, the state is entrusted with enforcing justice and doing so fairly. Let the perception be that the state is no longer performing that function and you set the stage for not merely vigilante justice, but civil revolt.
And the reality of all this is that it is unnecessary. Virtually every wound that the West in general and the US itself has felt since WWII has been self inflicted — often with Soviet help, but now with a life of its own. We are beyond the Chinese curse of living in interesting times; we live in surreal times.
He’s right. Crap!
(Oh! And do remember that Hillary wants to accelerate Obama’s already accelerated importation of Muslims from sharia lands.)
The Hillary double standard. I’ve already pointed out that my Leftist friends are thrilled with this poster, one that makes no distinction between political investigations and the kind of lawsuit that anyone after a deep pocket can file:
But what about the fact that Hillary was never indicted? Well, Jason Brezler would have something to say about the fact that there’s one rule of law for Hillary Clinton and one rule for everyone else.
The mind-warping damage that results from global warming. I was particularly horrified by numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5…. (Yes, I was trying my hand at a little ironic clickbait here.)
Who hates children? Teachers unions hate children. That’s the only takeaway from the latest teachers union story out of California, which has them attacking charter schools that save children from the relentless failures of most California public schools. (Remember, California, which was number 1 in the nation for education back in the 1960s, now hovers in the bottom third.)
If you think you’re being manipulated — you’re right. At least, you’re right according to Scott Adams, the Dilbert creator who nailed the Republican primary and is now turning his “persuader” skills to analyzing the actual election:
Persuaders know that most people are word-thinkers, so a big part of political persuasion involves defining people to be in or out of a certain category. This creates a substitute for thinking that the public likes. It makes them feel as if they used data and reason to form opinions.
For example, Trump is trying to frame the election as Americans versus outsiders. To Trump, you’re either in the American category or you’re a threat to those who are, in terms of money or violence. You will note that Trump has avoided calling Clinton liberal. That category lost its power. But Trump has defined a “crooked insider” category for Clinton and makes sure you know she’s in it.
Clinton has avoided calling Trump conservative, because the label wouldn’t fit. Even conservatives have a hard time putting Trump in that category. But if the alternative is Clinton, conservatives will hold their nose and accept him in their group.
Clinton’s strategy – which has worked well – is to put Trump in the boxes that are labelled sexist, racist, science-denying, and Hitler. That’s too many boxes for the purposes of good persuasion. Persuasion requires simplicity. So team Clinton tried to create an overarching category called “hate,” in order to assign Trump to it. They even used the “love trumps hate” slogan. Trump has tried to get out of the hate box by talking about love and doing a lot of hugging.
The most annoying strategy of the word-thinkers and their master persuaders involves defining a group by its worst members. Democrats label Republicans as racists because some Republicans are. Republicans label Democrats as useless and greedy because some of them are. The facts are not important.
The big risk with word-thinking during an election – with all the analogies and categorizing – is that the public starts to see the world in those terms and act that way. Clinton’s message has been that America is divided by race and gender, and suddenly we see a horrifying uptick in police shootings because it fits that world view. That blood is on team Clinton’s hands (my side), in my opinion. My guess is that the genders also have a more negative view of each other than at any time in history. That’s coming from my team as well.
Trump, on the other hand, is drawing us a picture of America as one team and everyone else as the competing teams. In terms of persuasion, this is a super-strong message, but only if he hammers it home at the GOP Convention.
Incidentally, I think that the first day of the convention, which occurred after Adams wrote the above, is a good example of Trump the persuader, because he did hammer home that “super-strong message” of America united against the world.
A blow to those who argue that, while homosexuality is in the DNA, all other gender constructs are imaginary. As the parent of a boy and a girl, I’ve known from Day 1 that boys and girls see the world differently — and it’s not just true for my kids, it’s true for all the hundreds of children I’ve gotten to know over the years while raising my own. While there are always the outliers — the more masculine girls and the more feminine boys — the reality is that the bell curve comes down strongly on the side of gender differences. Moreover, these manifest themselves very, very early:
Babies as young as nine months already prefer toys that are traditional for their sex, a study has found.
Trucks were the preferred choice for baby boys in a test, while baby girls chose to play with cooking pots.
As girls got older they took more of an interest in typical boys toys like cars and balls.
The researchers argue that because the differences appear so early on, biology must be playing a significant role in how boys and girls develop.
Read the rest here.
Socialism encourages greed. I’m happy to report that, when I posted this video on my real-me Facebook page, one of my most intelligent friends, who’s slowly working her way to becoming a conservative, had her eyes opened. She always assumed that if the government cares for people, that would free up time for them to indulge in art and philanthropy. This video made her realize she was in error:
Incidentally, there’s a reason that socialism is able to consign young men to perpetual adolescence without the young men struggling to break free and grow up:
In my third summer project, I’m trying to understand the labor market and patterns in employment over the last 15 years in the US. Specifically, I’m interested in employment rates of young (in their twenties), non-college educated men. In prior work on changes in demand for low-skilled labor, the theory exists that as technology advances, both employment and wages fall due to decreased demand.
In this strand of my research, I’m almost flipping that theory on its head by asking if it is possible that technology can also affect labor supply. In our culture, where we are constantly connected to technology, activities like playing Xbox, browsing social media, and Snapchatting with friends raise the attractiveness of leisure time. And so it goes that if leisure time is more enjoyable, and as prices for these technologies continue to drop, people may be less willing to work at any given wage. This explanation may help us understand why we see steep declines in employment while wages remain steady – a trend that has been puzzling economists.
Right now, I’m gathering facts about the possible mechanisms at play, beginning with a hard look at time-use by young men with less than a four-year degree. In the 2000s, employment rates for this group dropped sharply – more than in any other group. We have determined that, in general, they are not going back to school or switching careers, so what are they doing with their time? The hours that they are not working have been replaced almost one for one with leisure time. Seventy-five percent of this new leisure time falls into one category: video games. The average low-skilled, unemployed man in this group plays video games an average of 12, and sometimes upwards of 30 hours per week. This change marks a relatively major shift that makes me question its effect on their attachment to the labor market.
To answer that question, I researched what fraction of these unemployed gamers from 2000 were also idle the previous year. A staggering 22% – almost one quarter – of unemployed young men did not work the previous year either. These individuals are living with parents or relatives, and happiness surveys actually indicate that they quite content compared to their peers, making it hard to argue that some sort of constraint, like they are miserable because they can’t find a job, is causing them to play video games. The obvious problem with this lifestyle occurs as they age and haven’t accumulated any skills or experience. As a 30- or 40-year old man getting married and needing to provide for a family, job options are extremely limited. This older group of lower-educated men seems to be much less happy than their cohorts.
In other words, as long as Mommy’s and Daddy’s basement has an XBox, these Peter Pans are happy never to grow up.