Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Inauguration Week: Democrats Still in Denial

“I Don’t See Trump as a Legitimate President.”

Rep. John Lewis (D-GA)

Lewis (picture) is a civil rights icon who marched at Selma in 1965 into a horrible beating at the hands of racist Alabama state troopers. Now Lewis is boycotting the Trump presidential inauguration, leading as of today nearly one-third of his fellow Democratic congressmen to follow.  Lewis said Russian hacking (previously discussed here) makes Trump’s election illegitimate.

Democrats find it hard to accept that Trump won, because Clinton beat him in the popular vote by 2.9 million.  After all, for Democrats Al Gore made George W. Bush an “illegitimate president” in 2001, and Gore won the popular vote by a measly 500,000.

But look at the popular vote trend line over the last three presidential elections, shown in the following chart:

In each election, the Democrat received fewer votes than in the one before, and the Republican gained more.  Yet in each election, the Republican candidate was less attractive than in the election before.  John McCain (2008) was a war hero and one of the establishment’s most beloved Republicans. 

Mitt Romney (2012) was a decent human with a wonderful family, but unlike McCain, Romney found himself separated from average Americans by wealth, religion, and by the sentiment behind his “quote of the year” statement that:
"There are 47% of the people who will vote for the president no matter what...who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims. ...These are people who pay no income tax. ...and so my job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” 
Donald Trump (2016) is hands down less attractive than either McCain or Romney. But Trump received more votes than any Republican ever.  Hillary Clinton may have garnered 2.9 million votes more than Trump, but she lost not only the vote that matters — the electoral vote — by a significant margin (77 votes; Gore lost by only 5 in 2000), but unlike Obama, Clinton also lost the popular vote outside California (see above chart).

John Daniel Davidson, in the conservative “Federalist,” describes why Trump’s victory proved such a shock to Obama:
Obama was uninterested in debate, still less in persuasion. If you didn’t agree, you were on the wrong side of history. In this, Obama [shaped] the dominant ethos of the Democratic Party .   .   . the basis of Clinton’s campaign: we are on the winning side. The “deplorables” who support Trump, who aren’t on board with the progressive agenda, are “irredeemable.” Why bother reaching out to them? Why compromise, when victory is certain?
Obama’s shock goes for most Democrats. The progressive world doesn’t have room for Trump and his followers. Writing in the leftist online arts magazine “The Baffler,” Jacob Silverman pointed to the cult of celebrity as a prime reason Hillary lost:
pleas for celebrity attention seem to reflect a liberal desire to see their politics validated, even given a halo of glamor, by fellow elites. Clinton’s pithy tweets and Jay-Z concert appearances appeal to the already converted while offering nothing to the millions of American workers wondering if, just maybe, the woman who gives secret $250,000 speeches to bankers lacks a common touch.
Conservative Victor Davis Hanson of Stanford’s Hoover Institution would help progressives understand what happened, if they would only listen.  Hanson writes:
Donald Trump captured the twenty-first-century malaise of a rural America left behind by globalized coastal elites and largely ignored by the establishments of both political parties. Central to Trump’s electoral success, too, were age-old rural habits and values that tend to make the interior broadly conservative. That a New York billionaire almost alone grasped how red-state America truly thought, talked, and acted, and adjusted his message and style accordingly, will remain one of the astonishing ironies of American political history.

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Real Martin Luther King Day Division in America: Wealth, not Race

"Since 2008, real wages have remained the same or fallen for the bottom four-fifths."

Peter Wehner, New York Times

"the labor-force participation rate for working-age natives without a bachelor’s degree is .   .   . lower than it was before the recession, just 70.4% now, compared with 74% before the downturn. [Republicans] should accept the new terms Trump has set out for its economic worldview, and focus on workers and their wages more than it has any time in memory."

Rich Lowry, New York Post

It’s Martin Luther King Day.  By the time of his untimely assassination at 39 in 1968, Martin Luther King understood the real battle for American blacks was ending poverty for all, North and South, white and black, a battle that continues today.

To be clear, King favored progressive government action — wealth transfer from rich to poor — to end poverty.  In 1968, no one knew how well the Great Society’s “end poverty” efforts would work out.

Now we know.  The Census Bureau’s official poverty rate fell only modestly from 19% in 1964 to 15% in 2012, the most recent year available.  Blacks, however, have made more dramatic progress, with African-American poverty down from 42% in 1964 to 27% in 2012 — though the black poverty rate is still more than double that of whites (13%).  As for whites, their poverty rate rose in the same period (by 1.4%).

The Initiative for a Competitive Inner City has found that though inner cities make up only 1% of land area versus the suburbs which comprise 17% of total U.S. land area, inner city absolute poverty (8 million) nearly matches that of the suburbs (11 million).  The concentrated poverty rate for blacks in cities — 36% — is far higher than it is in the suburbs (11%).

Pete Saunders, in Forbes, studied black migration in and out of the top 20 metro areas during 2010-14.  Saunders reports that 19 of the top 20 metro areas have suburbs where either the black population increased while the white population declined, or where the suburban growth rate of blacks exceeded that of whites. While black growth within the 20 cities was flat, it was up 7% in the suburbs.

Setting aside the special problem of inner city poverty, it now seems that any black-white or urban-suburban divide may be less significant than a newly discovered separation: that between high-output and low-output America.  A Brookings Institution study documents the division by looking at the last election.  It turns out that the less-than-500 counties that Hillary Clinton carried accounted in 2015 for 64% of America’s economic activity, while the 2,600+ counties Trump won generated 36% —just over one-third — of national output (see graph below, click to enlarge, ignore placement of Chicago's Cook County into New York state).

And the division has grown more pronounced since 2000 (chart below):

It’s not the color of your skin so much as where you live that determines your prospects.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

2016: Emails Hurt Clinton, but Not Russian-hacked Emails.

Nearly a month ago, conservative Ed Rogers, in the Washington Post, wrote that
the Obama administration.   .   . knew the Russians were behind the Democratic National Committee and attempted Republican National Committee hackings, but .   .   . decided not to take any decisive action because they were assuming a Hillary Clinton victory, and therefore felt President Clinton could deal with the Russians when she took office.
It’s obvious Democratic “shock” about Russia supposedly swinging the election to Trump is purely connected to their “awe” that Trump actually won.

Here are five truths you aren’t hearing from media/Democrats about what actually went on before November 8:

1.  The truly great hacking scandal was the mountain of classified information Hillary Clinton ran through her home-brewed, highly-hackable server.

Credit to Democrats for having the chutzpah to talk about emails and Russia while sliding by the real scandal — Hillary’s unprotected private server.

2.  When Trump asked for Russian help in hacking emails in July, he was talking about Clinton’s 33,000 missing emails and not about unclassified campaign worker emails.

The real hacking bonanza would have been recovering the 33,000 emails that Clinton scrubbed into oblivion (using software called “BleachBit”).  Some were likely the most damaging that passed under Clinton’s eyes, messages that would have made it impossible for the FBI to avoid indicting Clinton.

3.  The October “Wikileaks” emails from Clinton campaign manager John Podesta’s computer were 100% unclassified, were dated prior to March 19, 2016, but were authentic (authenticity never disproven), not Russian doctored.

The emails embarrassed campaign insiders, sure.  They show allegedly pro-Clinton people trashing the candidate and others in the Clinton world, and revealed incestuous collaboration between the campaign and media.  While some emails slandered the religious right (already against Clinton), Catholics, Jews and, even blacks, these little-reported emails didn’t swing 45,000 Pennsylvania votes.

4.  The Russians had good reason to seek to damage Hillary Clinton’s upcoming presidency, but they didn’t believe Podesta’s private messages would deliver the election to Trump.

Although the U.S. intelligence community’s report on Russia’s hack of Podesta’s emails came from only three agencies (out of 17) and drew suspiciously strong (and anti-Trump) conclusions not normally found in intelligence assessments, even this biased report said that:
When it appeared to Moscow that Secretary Clinton was likely to win the election, the Russian influence campaign began to focus more on undermining her future presidency.
5.  Obama’s, Clinton’s, and the media’s strategy for dealing with “Wikileaks” was to ignore the emails and instead focus on Trump’s failings.

Democrats and their media friends in October realized that dwelling on Russian involvement might make the Podesta emails, not Trump’s failings, the campaign’s centerpiece.  Not discussing the Wikileaks revelations largely worked; even Clinton supporters don’t claim Podesta’s messages shifted key state votes.

Here’s what Democrats have gotten away with since November.  They moved the email controversy from Clinton to Wikileaks, from Wikileaks content to Russian involvement, and from Russian mischief to Trump as a Putin puppet, doing so after an election during which they suppressed email discussions as much as possible.

Here’s what really happened: Clinton’s people dropped an “October Surprise” — the eleven-year-old salacious “Access Hollywood” tape — timed to the beginning of early voting in most states. They then kept the focus on Trump’s bad behavior, surfacing one Trump victim after another.

But Democrats lost control of the narrative when FBI Director Jim Comey, following through on a previous commitment to be publicly forthcoming, on October 28 reported his agency was looking for classified information on Clinton aide Huma Abedin’s ex-husband’s computer. 

Even though Comey wrapped up that investigation at lightning speed (9 days), re-clearing Clinton before the election, a return to the real email issue — Clinton’s unauthorized, private server — damaged her campaign.  This proved especially true because a newly disciplined Trump at the same time stuck to his teleprompter and to actual issues, helping swing campaign attention back to Clinton.

Comey’s reopened investigation may well have impacted the key Trump victory states of Pennsylvania and Michigan.  Both states don’t have early voting, a point the Clinton campaign may have overlooked (along with Clinton’s taking Wisconsin for granted by not visiting the state).

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

2017: “Drain the [Progressive] Swamp”

The “iron law of oligarchy” is a political theory, first developed by the German sociologist Robert Michels in his 1911 book, Political Parties.  Michaels found that all complex organizations, regardless of how democratic they begin, eventually develop into oligarchies. Since no sufficiently large and complex organization can function purely as a direct democracy, power within an organization, Michels maintained, will always devolve to individuals within the group, elected or otherwise.

We may call ourselves a democracy.  But we are ruled by an oligarchy.  And it’s a bad one.

The progressive elite — which since 1933 has run the nation (or shared it with the business elite) — loses power on January 20.  The longevity of its rule is a tribute to progressives’ ability to change with the times. They have made room for leaders from rising power centers, co-opting them into their hierarchy of elites.  Below the top, secondary leaders who play by the rules in return gain power over their own smaller hierarchy (see chart).  Big fish, little pond.

The progressive elite are intellectuals based in and around government — “inside the Beltway” — and financiers based in Manhattan.  Academia prepares future leaders for command roles in government, finance, the media, law, arts and entertainment, the foundations and non-profits.

The progressive elite’s constant challenge is to maintain its oligarchical control by appealing to a wider electorate every 2-4 years.  To do so, they work through interest groups.  Key interest groups change with the times: primarily industrial labor from the 1930s to the 1960s; public sector employees, young people, unmarried females, blacks and other minorities since 1974.  The progressive low point came between 1965 and 1973 — Vietnam to Watergate — as the Democratic Party disgorged the South while seeking greater support elsewhere.

In transforming the party, progressives seized the moral high ground that came with the 1960s civil rights struggle.  Like the “wave the bloody shirt” appeal to Northern (Union) loyalty that won Republicans most post-Civil War presidential elections  — every Republican winner from 1868 to 1900 wore the Blue in that conflict — progressives continue to push civil rights as if Bull Conner’s dogs were still terrorizing Negroes.  “Diversity” begins with “black lives matter,” but seeks to gather in all “victimized” identity groups.

As Kenneth L. Woodward, the former Newsweek religion editor, tells us:
"the politics of righteousness" [is] the tendency of the Democratic Party to assume ownership of the moral high ground whenever cultural values and social norms are at issue in American politics — and to presume that those who disagree are, as Hillary Clinton put it, "a basket of deplorables.”
But the losers aren’t only white “deplorables.”  Conservative Michelle Malkin writes:
The grand rhetoric of diversity masks the true intent and actual impact of current racially discriminatory "solutions" to past racial discrimination: solidifying the power of the few over the many.
“Solidifying the power” of the oligarchy.  At the expense of the very interest groups progressives have co-opted — unemployed/under-employed blacks, Hispanics, unmarried women, and young people; government workers in stultifying, dead-end jobs; Asian students confronting affirmative action admission barriers at leading universities.

Here’s the stark truth: intellectuals are supposed to deliver prosperity (and better medical care).  They haven’t, and should default to business leaders who understand how to create economic growth.  But progressives won’t give up power.  Instead, they avoid talking economy while appealing to “the politics of righteousness.”

In 2016, that didn’t work.