SocraticGadfly: 11/6/16 - 11/13/16

November 11, 2016

Democratic election post-mortem and peek ahead

I've already commented on the ways Hillary Clinton shot herself in the foot, with extended notes on how Clintonistas making it worse were part of the problem, and how their continued denialism over the election loss being her and their fault only is making things worse.

Let's look at a few details.

Clinton drew fewer votes than Obama 2012, let alone Obama 2008. There was a clear enthusiasm gap.

More specifically, she dropped 5 percentage points among blacks and 6 percent among Hispanics, despite Trump's known history of racism and many of his supporters' rhetoric.

Let that sink in again. Black and Hispanic voters — especially young ones — were that unenthusiastic about her. I'll make a quick venture that the resurrection of her old "super predators" didn't help with young blacks, even if Bernie Sanders couldn't get more of them in primaries. I think young Hispanics saw her "abuela" as fake, if they're politically active.

And, more registered Democrats voted GOP than the other way around, despite her explicit appeal to national-level GOP mandarins.

Let that sink in again.

That surely goes to the issue of trust, along with her email server and related issues.

The enthusiasm and turnout gap were huge. Clinton's turnout dropped 10 full percentage points from Obama 2012. (At the same time, Trump's fell off 2 percentage points from Mitt Romney, further reflecting general public disgust with both major-party candidates.)

That alone explains Pat Toomey holding on to his Pennsylvania Senate seat, and comes close by itself as an explainer for Ron Johnson doing the same in Wisconsin. Those two would have made a Senate tie, with victory to the Democrats from a winning vice-presidential tiebreaker. It was likely a factor, but not the only one, in Missouri's Blunt and North Carolina's Burr being re-elected.

Yet another issue for Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Donna Brazile and the other DNC insider hacks to think about.

Speaking of, pseudo-progressive Howard Dean, now a lobbying shill for Big Pharma, wants to run the shop. Howard the Duck would be better.

Add in that the new Senate Minority Leader is Chuck Schumer. He's somewhat less skillful a political infighter than Harry Reid. Worse, he's a blatant friend of the banksters and pretty much writes blank checks to even the most ardent Zionists in Israel.

On the House side, if she stays in charge, Nancy Pelosi is a generic West Coast version of neoliberalism

Next, 2018.

Dems face more potential Senate losses. There's 23 Dems plus two Dem-caucusing independents (Bernie Sanders as one) up for re-election vs. just 8 Republicans. I don't expect a bloodbath, but a drop of 2-3 seats, per Wikipedia's list, is possible.

(I called that right on the Senate; the Dems lost two seats. I wasn't expecting quite the success they had in the House, but I didn't know Trump would go down the tariffs road and hurt himself in red states. My full analysis is here.

Then, a first peak at 2020.

Who will the Dems run for president? (Note: I now have a 2020 Democratic oddsmaking and personal "like" analysis up to read.)

Their Senate bench is pretty thin. The likes of an Amy Klobuchar are establishmentarian centrist-liberals. Kirsten Gillibrand would definitely not float my boat.

There is Elizabeth Warren, but outside of her signature work on CFPA, she's not really outside the Democratic mainstream on domestic issues. And, she's totally, 110 percent in the tank for Israel. No way I would stop voting third-party for her, myself.

The young pseudo-Turks may push Cory Booker to forego 2020 Senate re-election. Please. The "new Obama" would be worse than the first.

What about Dem governors?

In California, Gov. Moonbeam has become more neolib since trying for the prize in 1976. John Hickenlooper in Colorado is as bland as oatmeal and too soft on fracking for more progressive Dems, let alone non-Dems, among other things. Twitter's already featuring a spin-boom for Andrew Cuomo, a man with muck already on his hands who could be indicted by then for all we know. Oregon's Kate Brown would certainly have an identity appeal, but I know little about her politics.

Minnesota's Mark Dayton seems competent, and certainly on the more liberal edge of the party (voted against the Iraq War in the Senate), but left DC after just one Senate term, fed up.

And, that's about it.

The chance to win will be there, I think. I expect a recession, sometime around or shortly after the midterm elections.

Of course, the superdelegates who not only went in the tank for Clinton this year, but stayed there because "it was her turn" show the national Dem establishment is pretty much ratfucked anyway. As Jim Newell puts it, they "enabled" (as in the spouse of an alcoholic enabled) Clinton.

November 10, 2016

Mudsill: The one word that explains the Trump phenomenon (updated)

Why Donald Trump?
And not Ted Cruz?
If you're not familiar with the non-literal (or the literal) use of the word "mudsill," or the theory based on it, or the U.S. President who exemplified it, well, now is the time to get some familiarity.

I'm generally not a fan of what can be overly simplistic explanation of political, social, cultural or historical matters and turnings, but this one fits. (Edit: In general; I should add that it's not a total explainer, or it's not philosophically sufficient for all supporters, or even his core. But, it fits overall.

First, it fits the heart of Trump support — Appalachia extended, and the portions of the Great Lakes area that saw the biggest part of the first and second Great Migrations from the South — which, going beyond Wiki's narrow focus, included significant numbers of whites, not just blacks. I know that, because I used to live in Flint, Michigan, and lots of first- or second-generation white migrants from Tennessee and Kentucky worked in the auto plants. And, a certain chunk of them were racist. (Michael Moore, sadly, won't tell you much about this.)

(UPDATE, April 29, 2018: Per CNN, a study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences adds more credence to the mudsills idea. From the abstract:
Support for Donald J. Trump in the 2016 election was widely attributed to citizens who were “left behind” economically. These claims were based on the strong cross-sectional relationship between Trump support and lacking a college education. Using a representative panel from 2012 to 2016, I find that change in financial wellbeing had little impact on candidate preference. Instead, changing preferences were related to changes in the party’s positions on issues related to American global dominance and the rise of a majority–minority America: issues that threaten white Americans’ sense of dominant group status. 
Lays it out pretty solidly. Were that Leo Lincourt were still alive to discuss this further.

A new Atlantic piece lays it out further. Near the end, "The Birth of a New American Aristocracy" talked about how the 0.1 percent helped stoke angers of the 90 percent at the 9.9 percent in between, while also looking down and "kicking down," which the piece exactly says. More in Mudsills Part 4.)

(UPDATE, Nov 10: I'd argue that — while noting that no political campaign boils down to a single issue — the returns from Tuesday's election provide at least partial validation of my claims. Note the states Trump flipped to red from Obama 2012: Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania. [Wisconsin got a lesser degree of the migration that went to Michigan; Pennsylvania is the northern end of Appalachia of course, and eastern Ohio borders it and gets spillover, plus the Great Migration.]

And, in all fairness to Moore he did, weeks before the election, even if not fully saying why, straightforwardly predict something just like this might well happen, down to enumerating the four states by name.

As for critics of this being even a partial explainer, who counter about how rich Trump backers are? Most of them start with Nate Silver, but ignore that while Trump backers, in the primaries, were richer than Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders supporters, they were well poorer than John Kasich and Marco Rubio backers and a touch poorer than Ted Cruz's. Indeed, his findings, while not confirmatory of my general lines of thought, I do not consider to be directly refuting.

In fact, Silver drills further into his own weeds, noting voters in general tend to be richer than nonvoters, among other things. That said, we shall see if the numbers were roughly the same in the general election.)

Further update, Feb. 15, 2020: More data from  the 2016 elections once again show this. The Atlantic notes that, among working-class white voters, sociocultural anxiety, and NOT economic anxiety, pushed such voters who indulged any anxieties toward Trump.

All the other matters — the higher death rate, the religiosity, etc., are second to this key factor, as I see it. And, they're statistically, not causally correlated to Trump support.

Mudsillism, though, is, in my estimation (there's no way to prove causal correlation with a sociological term like this) causally connected.

Why did today's ersatz mudsills latch onto Trump?

Let's go back to 2008.

The depths of the Great Recession had not yet hit. Nor had the length of its lingering been seen. So, mudsills voted "generic Republican" if they backed John McCain.

In 2012, both those calculuses changed. But, who did the GOP offer as its nominee?

Mitt Romney. No richer than Trump, but a totally different, button-down personality. And, his "47 percent" comment may have hurt him with mudsills. Trump's long record of similar comment is buried in his massive volume of verbal diarrhea in general, is my partial explainer as to why he's not been burned.

But why Trump instead of other Republicans?

Jeb Bush wore glasses. Can't vote for him.

Chris Christie? Maybe the "fat" part of "fat bastard" hurt.

Mike Huckabee? Even if mudsills come from a Pentecostal-heavy area, most of them aren't likely to be minster-friendly.

John Kasich? Too buttoned down, and too sensical within today's GOP.

Finally ...

Ted Cruz? He strikes me as a somewhat smarmy, even more somewhat prissy, buttoned-up schoolmarm lecturer. And I bet many mudsills feel the same.

That left Trump.


And, yes, I know the baggage the term carries, too.

See what I said above about Flint. I've read books on the social psychology of this phenomenon. I know what the term means. I think there's an arc from the breakdown of poor white-black alliances at the start of Emancipation, through southern Populism at the time of William Jennings Bryan and its largely anti-black stance, on through the rural economic struggles after World War I in the South, the Great Migrations and more.

After that, there was Nixon with his code word of "busing." (And Jimmy Carter, though not a racist himself on the Democratic side, was OK with a bit of dogwhistling as the two parties finished their realignments.)

Look also at "nice, polite, Republicans." Consider things like the welfare queen in a Cadillac that Reagan talked about. Just convenience that she was African-American? That's not to mention Reagan launching his 1980 campaign at the Neshoba County Fair, with his infamous "states' rights speech."

And, yes, I'll likely do a follow-up.

Update, Nov. 9, 2017: In places like Johnstown, Pennsylvania, heartland of the northern end of Appalachia, Trump is like crack cocaine. They feed on his anger at "others" — who are often racial "others." Sorry, dear departed Leo Lincourt, but reality is reality. Ta-Nehisi Coates talks about this in West Virginia in his new book, too. And, a new Atlantic piece has more.

Mudsills, Leo.

Not a majority of his white support, surely, but a fair-sized minority. And, per the Atlantic piece, especially, another fair chunk of his white support, while not being mudsills on the class-based steps of life, still had one foot, at least, in the sewer of racism, contra Joe Biden.

And now, July 2018, we have multiple racists and affirmed neo-Nazis who are GOP general election candidates. When Ted Cruz tells Illionoisians to vote Dem if they don't have a write-in, it's serious.

Science-puffing book may have science right, but flunks history

The War on Science: Who's Waging It, Why It Matters, What We Can Do About ItThe War on Science: Who's Waging It, Why It Matters, What We Can Do About It by Shawn Lawrence Otto
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Too much blind praise from unskeptical 'skeptics'

This book is uneven in spots, has seeming straw men in spots, and has errors of commission and omission in spots, among other things.

As best as I can tell, at least some of that is related to what I suss out as its apparent target audience — moderate mainline Protestants who aren't totally liberal politically but aren't totally conservative either. In fact, given some of the specific straw men and errors of omission, and Otto's residence, I'll venture that he's thinking about (fellow??) Minnesota Lutherans of the ELCA persuasion in writing this.

Arguably, the book is worth a third star, but with all the tribalism apple-polishing, per my headline, it gets knocked down. Even without that, I'm not sure it's worth three, though.

First, Otto projects a Democrat/Republican split on science backward and overreaches — badly. Related to that is a factual error, claiming that William McKinley defeated William Jennings Bryan in part due to evolution. Reality is that evolution was a VERY minor campaign issue, if it was any at all, in 1896 and 1900, a full generation before the Scopes trial. McKinley won because he had a lot more campaign money, employers threatened employees with job loss if Bryan won, and the race was fought over the gold standard vs. free silver. Otto's clams are ahistorical at best, antihistorical at worse.

Second, his "Religion, Meet Science" chapter is chock full of errors.
1. The Puritans didn't come to America for religious freedom. They came for religious freedom for *themselves only.* BIG difference.
2. He straw mans Catholics by pretending that only Protestants of the Reformation and beyond had a serious natural theology. That would be a surprise to the thousands of Catholic and non-Catholic scholars who still study Thomas Aquinas.

Third, in a later chapter, he claims antivaxxerism basically started as a left-wing stance, then spread to religious conservatives over HPV. Wrong. Orange County, California, is full of anti-government libertarian antivaxxers.

Fourth, he gets a number of things at least partially wrong in relation to modern media and news coverage. That includes an exact discussion of the issue of "objectivity."

I remember Otto's Science 2008 project. It sounded promising. Maybe there was already then less than meets the eye.

Unfortunately, by dipping below the three-star level, I put myself in the company of climate change denialists. Don't blame me; blame Otto for serious errors elsewhere. (He's totally correct on climate change.) Blame "skeptics" for failure to give a more critical read. Blame Otto again for his presumed Minnesota nice liberal Lutheran target audience.

View all my reviews

November 09, 2016

I come to bury Clinton, not to praise her

Unlike Mark Antony with Julius Caesar, I speak a straight statement, not a rhetorical trope, too.

Well, actually, Hillary Rodham Clinton (you can go back to Rodham as the last name again, with the last campaign) buried herself. I'm just here to read a few words of "why" over the dead.

First, as the title of a long-featured early February blog post of mine says: Many Clintonistas seemingly think Hillary's shit doesn't stink. There's a whole laundry list there, most of which items have gotten even worse, not better, as we've gotten closer to the election. Tribalism, condescension, a sense of entitlement and more have been greatly displayed in the last month or so. It's been even more greatly displayed during the minutes I was writing this, as has been a huge lack of self-examination.
And, it's not just me. Thomas Frank notes a lot of the same, specifically of the hagiographic media:

Update: Corey Pein at the Baffler does even better, and more scathingly, than Thomas Frank! 

Skeptics™have been the worst with a lot of this. (Of course, they've evinced ever more tribalism in recent months over many other issues. That's why I had such a laugh when John Horgan called them out this spring.) And, I have no doubt they will, on average, get worse rather than better in the near future.

Even worse for the campaign, perhaps, as Wikileaks made clear over the last month, Clinton thought her own shit didn't stink.

Her own staff, especially Neera Tanden and John Podesta, repeatedly talked about her lack of political acumen and intuition. A good example from the just-completed election? She never visited Wisconsin after April.

Related to that, also from those leaked emails, was her own staff's advice to ixnay the speeches to banksters in 2014, as an official campaign announcement neared, and some staff speculated at a challenge from the left. And, not only did she still give the speeches, she just didn't "get it."

Of course, the whole private email server was a killer. Yes, some of her staff will defend her by pointing to her fear of that "vast right wing conspiracy." Well, that might be one thing. Lying about Colin Powell's advice, just a couple of months before the election, shows that it went beyond that, though. Secretiveness, not just general secrecy, was a problem.

Second, following up on the political intuition issue, she just wasn't a good campaigner. When I wrote this piece saying she didn't "need" my vote, I said she was in the position of becoming today's Tom Dewey. And, she did. Her and her backers and handlers and supporters all dissing Bernie Sanders supporters at the Democratic National Convention was a huge mistake. Thinking that they would blindly follow him was a huge mistake too — and by Bernie, too, who now will be unable to cash in his 30 pieces of silver.

And, she had bad ideas otherwise. Rather than courting Berniecrats, she courted Republicans. And failed:
That says it all.

Third, presumptuousness. Team Clinton, and everyday Clintonistas, assumed the Trump on tape, or his tax breaks, would backfire. I think Joe the Plumber types saw the tax breaks issue as a mix of Trump genius, Trump due, and belief in GOP tax cutting, as stupid as that may be.

The sexual crudeness? Here in red-state Texas, woman Trump backers that I know of never mentioned the issue. Maybe the reverse Bradley effect happened in part there, in that many Trump backers weren't ashamed of that publicly or privately in the first place. And in hindsight, I should have paid attention to my intuition more with that and not to Nate Silver's knobs and buttons on fine tuning his guesstimates.

Friend Brains incorporates many of the same ideas, including a bit of joined lament about not listening to our instincts or whatever on the horse-race side and being more prepared in advance for a Clinton loss. After all, Bernie's upset win in the Michigan primary was a major harbinger.


For the future, theoretically, the Dems have a great chance in 2020. They're probably going to get crushed in 2018 Senate races, but I expect a recession after that, with President Trump and the GOP Congress totally fucking up how they handle it.

But, the Dems' Senate bench is weak and its gubernatorial bench may be weaker still. We'll see, won't we?

Meanwhile, here's a larger Democratic election post-mortem.

November 08, 2016

The last toxic fallout of #BernieOrBust

Via friend Brains' Twitter feed two weeks ago, I came across some details of the project to write in Bernie Sanders in Vermont, the broader, but not directly connected "OpDeny270" and more.

First, to the broader OpDeny.

The idea that, if Bernie managed to get some electoral votes, and enough to throw the race to the House, that it would elect him, is laughable.

Let's start with the fact that the House is, of course, in such cases, a one state, one vote situation and Republicans have the majority of 32 House delegations. Even if Trump didn't lock them down, the idea of 26 states' worth of disaffected donkeys and elephants alike voting for Sanders is even more laughable.

Second, whether the Vermont write-in only, or the larger movement?

If you're butt-hurt over certain comments by Green Veep candidate Ajamu Baraka, well, they're not actually that radical.

First, Bernie himself, though he was at some 1960s civil rights events, rightly or wrongly, was not perceived as that much of an activist in later years. And, re more recent times, he wasn't that much ahead of the curve of Clinton on private prisons, the War on Drugs or other issues.

Second, Bernie is not THAT liberal when it comes to Vermont. Beyond slobbering over F-35s for the Vermont National Guard (more in a minute), he voted FOR the 2014 Big Ag farm bill, in large part to help Vermont's larger dairy farmers and cheesemakers with some corporate welfare.

Third, while not as much a warhawk as Hillary, there's not a LOT of difference between the two on most foreign policy issues outside the Iraq war vote. One big example? While Bernie has not expressly condemned BDS, there's nothing he's done to promote it.

And, related to this, while Baraka's white supremacist comments were blunt, broad and jarring, they were made in the larger context of commenting on Sanders' foreign policy stances. And, yes, it's true, Bernie or Bust folks, whether you're uninformed on foreign policy, or have deliberately plugged your ears — Bernie's a fair degree of imperialist, and fair degree of American exceptionalist, himself.

Otherwise, it's laughable how many Bernie or Bust folks paint themselves as so knowledgeable about American politics, but actually aren't, specifically, on the things above. Oh, and I myself DO vote on foreign policy as well as domestic issues. And beyond that, the Bern or Bust folks apparently view him as the third bear's bed and porridge from Goldilocks — just right, as in just bland, mushy and centrist between Hillary Clinton and real left-liberalism.

As for the Vermont write-in vote in specific? I have no doubt Jane Sanders supports it very much. It's an attempt to boost his legacy ...

With the longer-term eye being on capitalizing on his legacy.

The "capitalizing" is a very intended pun. You watch and wait and see. I get more and more to the point I trust her less and less.

How much of sellouts do Bernie, Jane, or both have to be to wake some people up?

November 07, 2016

Electoral vote projection — Hillary no worse than 308-230 (update)

Earlier this year, using a tool from NPR, I predicted that the "worst" outcome (worst used relatively and from the duopoly point of view only) that was realistic was Donald Trump beating Hillary Clinton 286-252 in the Electoral College.

Now, with a new tool from Five Thirty Eight, unless I'm underestimating any possible reverse Bradley Effect, I don't see any realistic way for Trump to win. The "worst" I see is Clinton, 308-230. Under that worst, the Senate would probably be no better than a 50-50 tie, but that's all Dems need on paper, excluding the problem of such nominal "Democrats" as Joe Manchin.

(Update: If non-college white resentment runs a bit higher, it could be ... 303-235. That's exactly where Brains has it; he also sees 50-50 on the Senate.)

In my first prediction, I said a tight guess was 294-244 Clinton. (Update: And a retweak of the parameters on that gives me the same.)

Of course, this was before the bombshell that FBI Director James Comey was reopening his probe into her emails. (Update: And that's now been closed again.)

So, no, she doesn't need my vote. Still doesn't.

UPDATE: As for the popular vote? Expect a plurality for Clinton, but I'll give 1-in-3 odds that it's plurality-only, not a majority. She'll probably use that as an excuse to tack right.

Jill Stein has a Ralph Nader #hypocrisy problem

I tell people that I have voted Green for president every election this century. That doesn't mean I voted for Ralph Nader in 2000. Technically, as Stanley Kubrick knew, the new century started in 2001. Also, arguably, there wasn't a coalesced national Green Party yet in 2000.

There were two reasons I didn't vote for him.

First, he had a bigger ego than both Al Gore and George W. Bush. Second, he had Big Oil and Big Defense stocks in his mutual funds portfolio, and never batted an eye over that. I've got more here.

Well, I don't know about Jill Stein's ego, but she DOES have that hypocrisy problem. She too has mutual funds (and may be richer than Nader), and they include Big Oil, and even worse yet, Big Tobacco stocks.

First, what the hell is any medical doctor doing owning tobacco stocks, even if indirectly via a mutual fund?

Second,. what is any Green Party candidate doing owning Big Oil stocks?

She also, like Nader, has defense stocks as part of her mutual funds. She also has bankster stocks.

I know that already in Nader's time, so-called socially responsible mutual funds existed. Even more do today. Per Daily Beast, they might pay a couple of percentage points less on interest.

But, you know? That's part of what running as a third-party candidate on a socially responsible platform involves.

And, it's not just mutual funds. She directly owns stock on Big Pharma paladin Merck. No way of explaining away that one.

That said, the Daily Beast blew it in one way. Like Salon on Nader in 2000, this was an obvious Dem-driven takedown of a perceived third-party threat. But, early voting has become ever more popular in the last 16 years.

I voted for Stein. I almost certainly would not have, had I seen this. So, Daily Beast, you blew it.

Well, not totally, because I STILL wouldn't have voted for Hillary Clinton.

Texas is one of the states where Socialist Party USA presidential candidate Emidio "Mimi" Soltysik is on the ballot as a write-in candidate. Even though the Socialists' platform is worse than Greens' in some cases to this skeptic, that would still be my next option. The next option after that would be undervoting the prez race. (Sadly, in 2020, Green candidate Howie Hawkins already nailed the SPUSA nomination in 2019, then guzzled Xi Jinping Thought Kool-Aid. I kept my non-duopoly voting string alive by not voting in 2020, as in 2000.)

And, speaking of that, a note to Stein: Stop pretending you're the only left-liberal presidential candidate in the American political universe. Green Party, stop pretending you're the only left-liberal American party. Hell hath no fury like a mindful voter taken for a ride, and you're getting my fury.

Note: I'll look at issues related to this more in a post-election postmortem.

Update, Jan. 14, 2019: Ethical mutual funds with decent investment returns DO exist, at least in the UK. I'm sure that they aren't that much worse in the US. And, per Stein's other claims?  Seems like solar, and wind, was just taking off back in 2016, and investing in mutual funds that included them might have soared in years afterward, besides the hypocrisy issue.

TX Progressives' last pre-election thoughts

The Texas Progressive Alliance is happy this election is over as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff offers a modicum of sympathy to Republican women for the plague of Sid Miller.

Libby Shaw at Daily Kos shares her personal observations and polling data from a class she is taking to show how Hillary Clinton could carry Houston/Harris County. Why Hillary will likely carry Houston.

Switching gears away from politics, Socratic Gadfly offers up his 2016-17 NBA preview.(Sorry, Mavs fans.)

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wants everyone to know just how much Texas Republicans have abused workers, worker rights and their safety.

Neil at All People Have Value reminded folks that nasty Sid Miller was a big part of the forced sonogram law in Texas that is state-mandated rape. APHV is part of

Control of the US Senate in 2017 looks to be a tighter race than the one for the White House, says PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.


And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Amy McCarthy recaps the highlights of Anthony Bourdain's visit to Houston.

Kyrie O'Connor reminds us that "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" is at heart a feminist anthem.

Eva Ruth Moravec took the eight-hour DPS course on verbal de-escalation.

Susan Nold asserts that voting is not "rigged", it's power.

Jacquielynn Floyd calls Sid Miller's latest tweet abomination a "breaking point".

The Texas Election Law Blog gives credit where it is due on tamping down fear about "election rigging".