Friday, December 16, 2016

Tabs Worth Saving

There are still too many tabs, still backing up into the email. But clearing out just a few of them helps, right?

When I question how all of this could have happened, how we could have gotten to where we are now, how so many people can be convinced that they are best-served by leaders with policies so clearly not in our interest, I think of the Koch brothers and kajillionaires like them who have been corrupting things behind the scenes for decades. So it's useful to listen to this recent MPR session with Jane Mayer, who wrote the book on the Kochs. Depressing, but you have to know your enemy.

In case you missed the two Vox stories about people in rural Kentucky who voted for Trump and now realize they'll likely lose their health insurance, here they are: the longer piece and the side bar about one particular woman. I believe people are right to be angry that premiums and deductibles have gone up incredibly (I am!), but those problems are caused by Republican unwillingness to ever modify the ACA in ways that could have made it work. Now, if they repeal it, it will be interesting (in the Minnesota sense of the word) to see what if anything they replace it with.

I know there were a lot of reasons why Clinton lost, not least of them the Comey letter, Russian email hacking, and the media coverage thereof...

(Graphic by Gallup)

...but the reason why all that could even work was that enough people in key states were willing to vote for Trump despite his bedrock awfulness. And I come down on the side of writers who argue that racism and sexism — sometimes taking the form of discomfort with a rapidly changing America and "those people" getting things "they" don't deserve — are at the base of that willingness. Aside from the work of Arlie Hochschild, which I've discussed earlier, here are a few pieces that make the case:

I may never get over the fact that the Russian hack of John Podesta's emails only worked because a DNC staffer wrote "legitimate" when he meant to write "illegitimate." I wonder if he was using Siri and she misheard him saying "illegitimate" as "a legitimate"? From the big New York Times story on December 13.

And now for something really depressing: one scholar, Walter Scheidel, taking the long view, says the only thing that has ever decreased inequality is violence. This fits pretty well with Thomas Piketty's findings, but runs counter to people like Steven Pinker in The Better Angels of Our Nature. From the Times review:
Many social scientists [and DN3!]...would like to believe that there are ways to push back [against inequality]: higher minimum wages, perhaps a universal basic income to help curb poverty; sharply higher income tax rates for the rich along with a wealth tax; a weakening of intellectual property rules, curbs on monopolies and coordination of labor standards around the world; maybe a dollop of capital given to each citizen so all can benefit from the high returns on investment.

Dream on. As Professor Scheidel bluntly puts it: “Serious consideration of the means required to mobilize political majorities for implementing any of this advocacy is conspicuous by its absence.”

So what does this leave us with? Another world war, with or without thermonuclear weapons? Let’s hope not.
One of those leftist social scientist ideas for countering inequality (and winning back the working class) is the idea of full employment. Here's an essay from Jacobin on that topic and how it could work.

One piece of good news from the election: Governor Pat McCrory lost in North Carolina. This article explains why, and shows how it provides a path for those of us who want to counter Trump and other Republican insurgencies, as we now have in Minnesota.

I've already shared Richard Florida's thoughts on devolving power to the states and particularly the cities in the age of Trump. Here's are some more thoughts along those lines from the Nation: All resistance is local—a plan of progressive action in the Trump years.

(Too bad about the move toward state legislatures making preemption their number-one goal, following in lockstep with ALEC. That could mess with this idea pretty well.)

This may have been on your mind, as it has been mine: If Trump's voters got their way, why are they still so angry? The writer of this piece from Salon analogizes it to the attitude of Southern slavery-supporters in the Civil War. Lincoln said his opponents wanted the North to "cease to call slavery wrong, and join them in calling it right." Today,
It’s not enough for them to win. Those who opposed Trump must stop opposing him. We must agree that Muslims should be banned from entering the country, agree we should torture and kill suspected terrorists and their families, agree immigrants should be rounded up and deported, agree there should be guns in schools, agree women should be punished for having abortions and agree to all the rest of it. Until we stop resisting completely and declare that we are “avowedly with them,” they will continue to believe that “all their troubles proceed from us.”
I keep meaning to pick up a copy of The Half Has Never Been Told by Edward Baptist. Maybe reading this excerpt (titled "America's economy was built on slavery, not white ingenuity—historians should tell it like it is") will get me to finally do it.

George Lakoff, linguist and sociologist, has been putting out lots of think pieces on Trump's rhetorical strategies and how to counter them. This one is almost too-thick with ideas. But it includes the suggestion that those who oppose Trump should frame him as a loser and a minority president, a betrayer of trust. All of these are things that are antithetical to the "strong father" role Trump tries to play, and that appeals to the conservative mindset (as Lakoff has explained in earlier works).

That's all I have the energy for today. But at least a few more tabs are gone!

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