Monday, May 01, 2017

Cruising the Web

Aww, perhaps to get ready to celebrate May Day or to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the Russian Revolution, the New York Times runs a column celebrating how the Communist Party in the U.S. helped unite workers of all backgrounds to help and inspire each other.
They were voyagers on that river, these plumbers, pressers and sewing machine operators; and they took with them on their journey not only their own narrow, impoverished experience but also a set of abstractions with transformative powers. When these people sat down to talk, Politics sat down with them, Ideas sat down with them; above all, History sat down with them. They spoke and thought within a context that lifted them out of the nameless, faceless obscurity into which they had been born, and gave them the conviction that they had rights as well as obligations. They were not simply the disinherited of the earth, they were proletarians with a founding myth of their own (the Russian Revolution) and a civilizing worldview (Marxism).

While it is true that thousands of people joined the Communist Party in those years because they were members of the hardscrabble working class (garment district Jews, West Virginia miners, California fruit pickers), it was even truer that many more thousands in the educated middle class (teachers, scientists, writers) joined because for them, too, the party was possessed of a moral authority that lent shape and substance, through its passion for structure and the eloquence of its rhetoric, to an urgent sense of social injustice.
So sweet. Vivian Gornick, the author of the piece, celebrates the communist camaraderie of her youth uniting so many disparate people in common cause until the news came out from the 1956 20th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party when Khrushchev's secret speech "revealed to the world the incalculable horror of Stalin's rule."
I was 20 years old in April 1956 when Nikita Khrushchev addressed the 20th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party and revealed to the world the incalculable horror of Stalin’s rule. Night after night the people at my father’s kitchen table raged or wept or sat staring into space. I was beside myself with youthful rage. “Lies!” I screamed at them. “Lies and treachery and murder. And all in the name of socialism! In the name of socialism!” Confused and heartbroken, they pleaded with me to wait and see, this couldn’t be the whole truth, it simply couldn’t be. But it was.
Well, maybe they would have known more about the horrors of Stalin's rule if the New York Times' own Walter Duranty hadn't spent the 1930s lying about the government-induced famine in Ukraine.
I would like to add another Duranty quote, not in his dispatches, which is reported in a memoir by Zara Witkin, a Los Angeles architect, who lived in the Soviet Union during the 1930s. ("An American Engineer in Stalin's Russia: The Memoirs of Zara Witkin, 1932-1934," University of California Press ). The memoirist describes an evening during which the Moscow correspondents were discussing how to get out the story about the Stalin-made Russian famine. To get around the censorship, the UP's Eugene Lyons was telephoning the dire news of the famine to his New York office but the was ordered to stop because it was antagonizing the Kremlin. Ralph Barnes, the New York Herald Tribune reporter, turned to Duranty and asked him what he was going to write. Duranty replied:

Nothing. What are a few million dead Russians in a situation like this? Quite unimportant. This is just an incident in the sweeping historical changes here. I think the entire matter is exaggerated.

And this was at a time when peasants in Ukraine were dying of starvation at the rate of 25,000 a day.

In his masterwork about Stalin's imposed famine on Ukraine, "Harvest of Sorrow," Robert Conquest has written:

As one of the best known correspondents in the world for one of the best known newspapers in the world, Mr. Duranty's denial that there was a famine was accepted as gospel. Thus Mr. Duranty gulled not only the readers of the New York Times but because of the newspaper's prestige, he influenced the thinking of countless thousands of other readers about the character of Josef Stalin and the Soviet regime. And he certainly influenced the newly-elected President Roosevelt to recognize the Soviet Union.

What is so awful about Duranty is that Times top brass suspected that Duranty was writing Stalinist propaganda, but did nothing. In her exposé "Stalin's Apologist: Walter Duranty, the New York Times's man in Moscow," S.J. Taylor makes it clear that Carr Van Anda, the managing editor, Frederick T. Birchall, an assistant managing editor, and Edwin L. James, the later managing editor, were troubled with Duranty's Moscow reporting but did nothing about it. Birchall recommended that Duranty be replaced but, says Taylor, "the recommendation fell by the wayside."

When Duranty of his own volition decided to become a special correspondent on a retainer basis for the New York Times, the newspaper published an editorial reassuring its readers that his reputation as "the most outstanding correspondent of an American newspaper during all the years of his faithful and brilliant work at Moscow will remain unimpaired in the slightest degree by the change now made." This about a man whom Malcolm Muggeridge, the Manchester Guardian correspondent and Duranty's contemporary, described as "the greatest liar of any journalist I have met in fifty years of journalism."

I also find it a bit of revisionism to say that it was Khrushchev's speech to the 20th Congress that finally woke them up to the horrors of Stalin's rule. I think she overestimates the membership of the party and the number who left after the speech. It had already been declining during the Korean War and during the Second Red Scare.
eterioration of Western relations with Soviet Russia in the years immediately following World War II, combined with disclosures of widespread Communist espionage and subversion, led to the first substantial decline in membership. From the high-water mark of 1945, the membership dropped by February 1950 to an estimated 54,000. Outbreak of the Korean War caused further defections, and in 1953 Hoover put the strength of the party at 24,796. By 1955 the total was down to 22,663. Party rolls were then pared by the widespread disillusionment that followed disclosure of Khrushchev's denunciation of Stalin before the 20th Soviet Communist Party Congress in Moscow in February 19564 and by Soviet suppression of the Hungarian revolution in November 1956. John Gates has said that 10,000 members left the party between 1956 and 1958, lowering its membership to around 7,000 by the early months of 1958....

A close student of the history of the American Communist movement has written: “Before the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and Khrushchev's secret speech, the American party was ineffective; after the 20th Congress, it was impotent. The party's final crisis was … precipitated entirely by the Russian denunciation of Stalin and the crushing of the Hungarian revolution.”
J. Edgar Hoover had estimated the membership of the party as much smaller.
By the mid-1950s, membership of Communist Party USA had slipped from its 1944 peak of around 80,000[30] to an active base of approximately 5,000. Some 1,500 of these "members" were FBI informants.
Given that Hoover had his own reasons for overestimating the number of members of the party, it is quite likely that there weren't 30,000 people to leave the party after Khrushchev's speech.

Also, if you read Khrushchev's speech, it very carefully denounces Stalin for establishing a cult or personality and diverging from the wisdom of Lenin and doctrinaire communist doctrine. When Stalin is denounced for horrors, it is for the horrors against the leadership of the Soviet Communist Party and his poor leadership during WWII. Khrushchev's purpose was to purge the party of Stalin's loyalists and solidify his own power. It wasn't to change policies of collectivization. So there is no discussion of the evils perpetrated on ordinary Soviet citizens due to collectivization or the imprisoning of people in the gulags. There is no discussion of the millions who died because of Stalin. Khrushchev was not interested in that. Remember, he needed the maintain the loyalty of the thousands of party members who had actively instituted those parties. Khrushchev himself had been involved in enforcing such policies. His hands weren't clean. So if Vivian Gornick and her family were horrified after reading this speech, it was because it revealed that Stalin had hurt the party, not that he had hurt ordinary people.

It is so interesting that the NYT thought to publish this column extolling how inspiring the Communist Party once was at the same time that the paper is embroiled in controversy due to its hiring of Bret Stephens to be another conservative writing a column for the paper. His first column launched a lot of outrage on the left. He dared to warn readers of experts who think that they are 100% correct. First he talks about the pollsters and Clinton campaign operative who were absolutely sure that the data demonstrated that Clinton was going to win the election. Well enough. But then he dared to warn people against accepting what climate change extremists claim when they claim such certainty. If you read the column, it is clear that Stephens totally hedges his criticism. He asserts that he acknowledges that the climate is changing and that mankind is playing a role. He is simply criticizing the claims of certainty and quotes the NYT environmental reporter.
Why? The science is settled. The threat is clear. Isn’t this one instance, at least, where 100 percent of the truth resides on one side of the argument?

Well, not entirely. As Andrew Revkin wrote last year about his storied career as an environmental reporter at The Times, “I saw a widening gap between what scientists had been learning about global warming and what advocates were claiming as they pushed ever harder to pass climate legislation.” The science was generally scrupulous. The boosters who claimed its authority weren’t.

Anyone who has read the 2014 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change knows that, while the modest (0.85 degrees Celsius, or about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit) warming of the Northern Hemisphere since 1880 is indisputable, as is the human influence on that warming, much else that passes as accepted fact is really a matter of probabilities. That’s especially true of the sophisticated but fallible models and simulations by which scientists attempt to peer into the climate future. To say this isn’t to deny science. It’s to acknowledge it honestly.

By now I can almost hear the heads exploding. They shouldn’t, because there’s another lesson here — this one for anyone who wants to advance the cause of good climate policy. As Revkin wisely noted, hyperbole about climate “not only didn’t fit the science at the time but could even be counterproductive if the hope was to engage a distracted public.”

Let me put it another way. Claiming total certainty about the science traduces the spirit of science and creates openings for doubt whenever a climate claim proves wrong. Demanding abrupt and expensive changes in public policy raises fair questions about ideological intentions. Censoriously asserting one’s moral superiority and treating skeptics as imbeciles and deplorables wins few converts.

None of this is to deny climate change or the possible severity of its consequences. But ordinary citizens also have a right to be skeptical of an overweening scientism. They know — as all environmentalists should — that history is littered with the human wreckage of scientific errors married to political power.
This rather mild criticism of climate change extremists has made some heads of those on the left. Many are writing in claiming to be cancelling their subscriptions since they can't bear that someone could possibly cast any skepticism on any claim by climate change extremists.
Stephens' column also prompted backlash from those within the scientific community, like Stefan Rahmstorf, the head of Earth System Analysis at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. Rahmstorf sharply criticized the Times' decision to hire Stephens, as well as Stephens' column, in a letter to the executive editor.

"I enjoy reading different opinions from my own, but this is not a matter of different opinions," Rahmstorf wrote. He added that in its defense of Stephens, "The Times argued that 'millions agree with Stephens.' It made me wonder what's next — when are you hiring a columnist claiming that the sun and stars revolve around the Earth, because millions agree with that?"
Remember, Stephens didn't deny climate change in his column; he just expressed a warning about believing that anything can be asserted with 1005 certainty about what will happen in the future.

Jack Shafer, who doesn't sound like a fan of Bret Stephens, reminds us that this is a rather common response by NYT readers when they dare to hire someone on the right. They greeted the hiring of William Kristol in 2008 with outrage and the 1973 hiring of William Safire.
Before the outrage of Kristol, there was the appointment of Nixon speechwriter, PR man and college dropout William Safire to the page in 1973. The Upper West Side rioted. The Times newsroom wept in shame. “In terms of impact, it would be like hiring Roger Ailes today,” former Washington Post Executive Editor Benjamin C. Bradlee told Vanity Fair’s Marjorie Williams in 1992. Safire’s Times D.C. bureau colleagues shunned him. One day while eating alone in a restaurant, he told Williams, one of his newsroom colleagues walked by to say, “Ah, Safire, lunching with all your friends?” Reporter David Halberstam supplied the collective objection to Safire’s column in a letter to Times Publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger. “Safire, he wrote, “is a paid manipulator. He is not a man of ideas or politics but rather a man of tricks. … It’s a lousy column and it’s a dishonest one. So close it. Or you end up as shabby as Safire.”
So this is standard operating procedure for Times readers.

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Joel Kotkin and Wendell Cox have a very interesting essay at RCP
about the increasing movement of people and businesses from blue to red states.
This is the basic takeaway from the most recent IRS data and Census Bureau estimates, which have been widely ignored in the established media. Essentially, Americans are rejecting what Walter Russell Mead has labelled “the blue model,” and relocating to cities, states and regions that are less dense, less heavily taxed, and less regulated.
The numbers are quite striking.
In 2016 alone, states that supported Donald Trump gained 400,000 domestic migrants from states that supported Hillary Clinton. This came on top of an existing advantage in net domestic red state migration of 1.45 million people from 2010 through 2015. Contrary to popular perception, these blue state emigres aren’t all fleeing economically challenged places such as upstate New York or inland California. Mostly, they have left the biggest cities, which are the electoral base of the Democratic Party. Metropolitan New York has led the way in out-migration, followed by Los Angeles and Chicago. Since 2000, these metropolitan areas have lost a net 5.5 million domestic migrants to other parts of the country.
They note that people are moving to smaller cities and suburban areas. Jobs are being created in suburban regions rather than more urban areas.
Gen-Xer shares grew most dramatically in the affordable Sunbelt, like almost completely suburban Raleigh, which saw a 50 percent growth in the share of Xers relative to the national rate. Rapid growth also took place in Las Vegas, Charlotte, Phoenix, Orlando and Salt Lake City as well as the big four Texas cities: Austin, Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, and San Antonio.

In contrast the Gen-X population share has remained stagnant in the San Francisco and San Jose areas, while the Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia areas have all seen declines in their Xer shares both since 2000 and since 2010. This could be a harbinger of millennial behavior. Like the Xers, millennials are beginning to move into the suburbs, contradicting all predictions to the contrary. Since 2010, the biggest gains in millennial share have been in heavily suburban Orlando, Austin and San Antonio.
A major reason why those areas are growing in contrast to the bigger cities where growth is either declining or staying the same is because it is just too expensive to live in those cities.
This shift is likely to be driven in large part by unsustainable housing costs. In the San Francisco Bay Area, techies are increasingly looking for jobs outside the region, and some companies are offering cash bonuses for those willing to leave. A recent poll indicated that 46 percent of millennials want to leave the Bay Area. Meanwhile, these “best and brightest” have been gravitating to lower cost areas such as Austin, Orlando, Houston, Nashville, and Charlotte.

The basics that drive people to the suburbs remain: cheaper real estate, a preponderance of single family housing, better schools, a poverty rate roughly half that of core municipalities as well as far lower incidence of violent crime than in urban cores. This trend will be accelerated, as a recent policy analysis released by the consulting firm Bain shows, by services such as Uber or Lyft, the appeal of working at home as well as the development of automated vehicles.
San Francisco is a prime example of how young people just can't afford to live in the area because of the cost of living.
In an article published earlier this year, The Guardian reported on an anonymous Twitter employee in his 40s who says that, even on a $160,000 annual salary, he's barely scraping by in Silicon Valley.

"I didn't become a software engineer to be trying to make ends meet," he told The Guardian.

The employee's biggest expense is the $3,000 monthly rent he pays on a two-bedroom house where he lives with his wife and two kids, which he describes as "ultra cheap."

"Families are priced out of the market," he says, explaining that it's hard to compete with the hordes of 20-somethings willing to pile into a shared house — and still pay $2,000 per person for a room.
The employee's grievances are echoed by many of his fellow tech workers in the Bay Area.

Another woman who spoke to The Guardian says that although she and her partner make a combined salary of over $1 million, they can't afford a house. "This is part of where the American dream is not working out here," she says.

San Francisco is notorious as one of the most expensive places to live in the U.S., and the booming tech industry has only exacerbated the cost of housing. The median rent price is $3,320 per month for a one-bedroom apartment and $4,430 for a two-bedroom, according to real estate site Zumper. That's more than twice as much as the median rent price for the country overall, which sits at $1,164 for a one-bedroom and $1,377 for a two-bedroom.

Engineers at prominent tech firms can expect to fork over 40 to 50 percent of their annual salaries to rent an apartment near work, according to one study cited by The Guardian.

Things are even worse in San Francisco for those outside of the most lucrative sectors. Doctors can't afford 58 percent of the homes in the city, according to a recent study by Trulia, and teachers can expect to put up to 77 percent of their income toward housing, Curbed San Francisco reports.
If you're earning a six-figure salary and can't afford to live in the area, something is really wrong.

As a resident of Raleigh, one of the areas that is seeing the growth, I can testify to the bonuses of living in a region where homes and apartments are relatively affordable, crime is low, parking and commuting is not a real problem, and education is pretty decent. Such influxes of population into North Carolina is one of the reasons that the state has become increasingly purple. Kotkin and Cox point out how the swing districts in future political contests will be in such suburban areas.
Ultimately, the key political battlegrounds for the future will not be in blue cities but in purple suburbs, particularly in the booming periphery of major cities in red states. No matter how loud and pervasive the voices emanating from the urban core, or for that matter, ungentrified countryside, Trump won the election by taking by a significant five percentage point suburban margin nationally, improving on Romney’s two-point edge, and by more outside the coastal regions.

This contradicts the confident assertions by the New York Times and other establishment voices that Trump would get his clock cleaned in suburbia, particularly among college-educated voters in upscale communities. Suburban voters made the difference in the crucial Midwestern states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, and Trump came close to winning in supposedly deep blue Minnesota.

In Michigan, Trump lost Wayne County (including Detroit) by more than 2-1, but captured four of the five surrounding suburban counties by margins that greatly exceeded that of Michigan native Romney. The pattern was similar in Pennsylvania where Clinton won in the Philadelphia metropolitan area – and Pittsburgh’s urban Allegheny County, while Trump was flipping the state with majorities in nearly every other county. Much the same can be said about Wisconsin and Ohio, states critical as well to the Trump win and the GOP future.

This pattern is not set in stone. Trump, as the New York Times recently enthused, does suffer from continuing problems with educated suburban voters. Perhaps even more threatening to the GOP is that minorities now account for more than 40 percent of all suburban and exurban residents, growing far faster in the periphery than non-Hispanic whites. Trump lost traditionally right-leaning but rapidly diversifying places such as Orange County, Calif., and Fort Bend County outside of Houston.
I don't think Republicans can count on winning such voters in the future. They have benefited in the past few elections in painting themselves in opposition to Obama and the Democrats. The Democratic Party will be able to counter in future elections by returning the privilege and painting themselves in opposition to Trump and the Republican Congress. Such are the burdens of controlling an undivided government.

Jack Shafer and Tucker Doherty write at Politico about what they found when they analyzed where journalists work to try and get a handle on how big a bubble they live in.
The results read like a revelation. The national media really does work in a bubble, something that wasn’t true as recently as 2008. And the bubble is growing more extreme. Concentrated heavily along the coasts, the bubble is both geographic and political. If you’re a working journalist, odds aren’t just that you work in a pro-Clinton county—odds are that you reside in one of the nation’s most pro-Clinton counties. And you’ve got company: If you’re a typical reader of Politico, chances are you’re a citizen of bubbleville, too.

The “media bubble” trope might feel overused by critics of journalism who want to sneer at reporters who live in Brooklyn or California and don’t get the “real America” of southern Ohio or rural Kansas. But these numbers suggest it’s no exaggeration: Not only is the bubble real, but it’s more extreme than you might realize. And it’s driven by deep industry trends.
They argue that the layoffs in newspaper and online publishing jobs has resulted in a smaller percentage of the industry living in a place other than where Clinton won handily. Since 2008, there has been a huge jump in the number of jobs in journalism that involve internet publishing.
This isn’t just a shift in medium. It’s also a shift in sociopolitics, and a radical one. Where newspaper jobs are spread nationwide, internet jobs are not: Today, 73 percent of all internet publishing jobs are concentrated in either the Boston-New York-Washington-Richmond corridor or the West Coast crescent that runs from Seattle to San Diego and on to Phoenix. The Chicagoland area, a traditional media center, captures 5 percent of the jobs, with a paltry 22 percent going to the rest of the country. And almost all the real growth of internet publishing is happening outside the heartland, in just a few urban counties, all places that voted for Clinton. So when your conservative friends use “media” as a synonym for “coastal” and “liberal,” they’re not far off the mark.
THey credit clustering of tech jobs in those corridors as the explanation of why people live there. And, as internet publishing replaces the old newspaper model, it is less important for journalists to live in the neighborhood where their newspaper is published.
As the votes streamed in on election night, evidence that the country had further cleaved into two Americas became palpable. With few exceptions, Clinton ran the table in urban America, while Trump ran it in the ruralities. And as you might suspect, Clinton dominated where internet publishing jobs abound. Nearly 90 percent of all internet publishing employees work in a county where Clinton won, and 75 percent of them work in a county that she won by more than 30 percentage points. When you add in the shrinking number of newspaper jobs, 72 percent of all internet publishing or newspaper employees work in a county that Clinton won. By this measure, of course, Clinton was the national media’s candidate.

Resist—if you can—the conservative reflex to absorb this data and conclude that the media deliberately twists the news in favor of Democrats. Instead, take it the way a social scientist would take it: The people who report, edit, produce and publish news can’t help being affected—deeply affected—by the environment around them. Former New York Times public editor Daniel Okrent got at this when he analyzed the decidedly liberal bent of his newspaper’s staff in a 2004 column that rewards rereading today. The “heart, mind, and habits” of the Times, he wrote, cannot be divorced from the ethos of the cosmopolitan city where it is produced. On such subjects as abortion, gay rights, gun control and environmental regulation, the Times’ news reporting is a pretty good reflection of its region’s dominant predisposition. And yes, a Times-ian ethos flourishes in all of internet publishing’s major cities—Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Seattle, San Francisco and Washington. The Times thinks of itself as a centrist national newspaper, but it’s more accurate to say its politics are perfectly centered on the slices of America that look and think the most like Manhattan.

Something akin to the Times ethos thrives in most major national newsrooms found on the Clinton coasts—CNN, CBS, the Washington Post, BuzzFeed, Politico and the rest. Their reporters, an admirable lot, can parachute into Appalachia or the rural Midwest on a monthly basis and still not shake their provincial sensibilities: Reporters tote their bubbles with them.
Recognizing the problem is a necessary step to the solution. Media outlets concerned with gaining a more representative look at America today could start by hiring people who grew up, were educated, and now live outside these blue bubble areas. They need more than people who drop in for a weekend and now feel that they understand how someone in Kentucky, South Dakota, or Texas thinks. I think that is what made Salena Zito's reporting such a break from the rest of the media. She is from Pennsylvania and spent her time traveling around areas of Pennsylvania where she detected a pro-Trump wave last summer. I remember thinking that her reporting was interesting, but that there was no way such voters would outnumber the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh voters. Republicans have talked about winning Pennsylvania as if it were the Holy Grail of elections - always to be sought, but never won. When Pennsylvania narrowly went for Trump, I thought back on the Trump yard signs my daughters and I had seen when we traveled around southwestern Pennsylvania back in July when we drove from Gettysburg to tour Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Waters. We drove through a lot of little towns and saw so many people with Trump signs that it really amazed us to see them up so far ahead of the election. We remembered James Carville's political comment that Pennsylvania was Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in the middle. Zito reported on what those people were saying throughout the election and suffered much ridicule for her anecdotal reporting as if most political writers aren't writing on similar reporting. She turned out to be the one with the last laugh. So it's worth paying attention when she writes this weekend that the media's attacks on Trump are helping to keep Trump's voters in his camp and even intriguing people who didn't vote for him.
Dennis Dixon didn’t vote for Donald J. Trump. For the first time in his 46 years, the self-described “moderate Midwestern Republican” sat out a presidential election because he was less than thrilled with both major candidates. “I wrote in John Kasich,” he says, with a trace of humor....

He may not have liked the candidate but he is “enjoying the heck out of his presidency.”

What he likes about Trump is his determination on certain issues, “but he is also willing to show flexibility when it counts. That is the kind of outside non-politician behavior that attracted a lot of voters to him.”

He also is frustrated by the way the national press treats Trump in comparison to President Obama: “They really do not give him a fair shake.”

In fact, some of that perceived bias impacts how Dixon views Trump: Instead of pushing him away from the president, he is more intrigued by him.

Dixon’s opinion defies the conventional wisdom of national news outlets, which still seem unable to grasp that Trump’s supporters aren’t going anywhere for the moment and that they view his approach to the presidency as successful.

The media certainly couldn’t believe there are Dennis Dixons out there — voters who didn’t support candidate Trump but are now pleased by his outsider approach to governing. Enough to even consider voting for him in the future. The idea that someone could go from a Trump skeptic to having an open mind about his presidency is unheard-of in their circles.

Certainly they have done enough to make every newscast, written report, blog post or tweet a breathless condemnation of every step he takes. They are shocked at how unconventional he is, while people who voted for him are shocked the political class still doesn’t understand that’s exactly why they voted for him.
So are there other people out there like that? It well could be, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.
But a Washington Post-ABC News poll last week showed many of Clinton’s voters feel the pangs of buyer’s remorse, so much so that Trump would triumph over his popular-vote loss to Clinton if voters had to do it all over again. According to the poll, 15 percent of Clinton voters would vote for a different candidate if they could go back to Election Day, compared to just 4 percent of Trump voters.

The same poll also shows that while 58 percent of Americans think Trump is out of touch, the Democratic Party is viewed as more out of touch than either Trump or the Republican Party. A whopping 67 percent of Americans think Democrats are out of touch — including nearly half of Democrats themselves.

“The problem, I think, with a lot of the media coverage is that no one lives out here when writing or reporting on the president,” Dixon says. “The national media just doesn’t get the people it covers. It didn’t last year. It still doesn’t. Is that a problem? I think so.”

His neighbors agree. In interview after interview in this northeast Ohio county, voters who supported Trump, Clinton or neither said they cannot find their views expressed anywhere in the national media. It’s not that they expect to be the center of the universe; they’d just like to enjoy a little slice of the coverage.

If they don’t, reporters and the political classes are going to continue to misjudge and misunderstand the nation they are supposed to be assessing. And that bias could influence certain voters to directly oppose the media’s views, just as it has with Dennis Dixon.
Gosh, that sounds a whole lot like what Shafer and Doherty were writing for Politico.

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Peggy Noonan argues that Donald Trump has been lucky in his enemies.
Mr. Trump has struggled so colorfully the past three months, we’ve barely noticed his great good luck—that in that time the Democratic Party and the progressive left have been having a very public nervous breakdown. The new head of the Democratic National Committee, Tom Perez, performs unhinged diatribes. He told an audience in Las Vegas that “Trump doesn’t give a sh— about health care.” In a Maine speech, “They call it a skinny budget. I call it a sh—y budget.” In Newark, he said Republicans “don’t give a sh— about people.”

This is said to be an attempt to get down with millennials. I know a lot of millennials and they’re not idiots, so that won’t work.

The perennially sunny Rep. Maxine Waters of California called Mr. Trump’s cabinet “a bunch of scumbags.” New York’s junior Democratic senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, has taken to using the F-word in interviews.

I thought Mr. Trump was supposed to be the loudmouth vulgarian who swears in public. They are aping what they profess to hate. They excoriated him for lowering the bar. Now look at them.

And they’re doing it because they have nothing else—not a plan, not a program, not a philosophy that can be uttered.

The closest they got to meaning recently was when Mr. Perez found it helpful to say, of a Democratic mayoral candidate who’d backed some pro-life bills, that that kind of thinking had no place in the party. Bernie Sanders rightly called this out as madness. You can’t do this “if we’re going to become a 50-state party.”

Imagine a great, lost party defining itself by who it’s throwing out. They’re like the Republicans the past 20 years, throwing people out for opposing Iraq or George W. Bush, or for not joining NeverTrump. Where does this get you? It gets you to where we are.

That most entrenched bastion of the progressive left, America’s great universities, has been swept by . . . well, one hardly knows what to call it. “Political correctness” is too old and doesn’t do it justice. It is a hysteria—a screeching, ignorant wave of sometimes violent intolerance for free speech. It is mortifying to see those who lead great universities cower in fear of it, attempt to placate it, instead of stopping it.

When I see tapes of the protests and riots at schools like Berkeley, Middlebury, Claremont McKenna and Yale, it doesn’t have the feel of something that happens in politics. It has the special brew of malice and personal instability seen in the Salem witch trials. It sent me back to rereading Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible.” Heather Mac Donald danced with the devil! Charles Murray put the needle in the poppet! As in 17th-century Salem, the accusers have no proof of anything because they don’t know, read or comprehend anything.

The cursing pols, the anathematizing abortion advocates, the screeching students—they are now the face of the progressive left.

This is what America sees now as the face of the Democratic Party. It is a party blowing itself up whose only hope is that Donald Trump blows up first.

He may not be lucky in all of his decisions or staffers, or in his own immaturities and dramas. But hand it to him a hundred days in: He’s lucky in his main foes.
She's right that he has been lucky in the over-the-top reaction to his presidency. However, he needs to have more going for him than people's disgust with some of his opponents.





Eugene Volokh reports
on the awards given out by the Thomas Jefferson Center for the "Jefferson Muzzles" to recognize the worst government reactions to people's free expression. Here are some notable examples:
The California Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown for passing a law banning online employment databases from listing the ages of actors and actresses.

Bradley County (Tenn.) Sheriff Eric Watson for deleting comments by atheists and blocking atheist commentators from the county Facebook page.

Collier County (Fla.) School District for a policy requiring students who elect not to stand for the national anthem to first obtain parental consent.

Boca Raton Community High School administration (Palm Beach County, Fla.) for giving senior Maxine Yeakle the choice of removing her “Hilary for Prison” T-shirt or serving an in-school suspension.

Paul Beston has a fascinating story about what was really behind Muhammad Ali's refusal to be drafted. That refusal was based less on principle but fear of disobeying Elijah Muhammad.
The truth, though hard to make out under the thick moss of mythology, is that Ali refused induction not out of principle but from fear of disobeying Elijah Muhammad, who had stipulated that the champ not serve in a “white man’s war.” (Muhammad had done jail time himself for resisting the draft during World War II.)

“You just don’t buck Mr. Muhammad and get away with it,” Ali said, and he saw what happened to people who tried. Malcolm X, who had been close to Ali, was assassinated in February 1965. After Ali’s former press secretary told the FBI that he had information about Malcolm’s killers, he too was found dead. Other dissidents simply disappeared.

Ali got the message. In March 1967, a month before his appearance at the draft board, Ali told his boxing idol, Sugar Ray Robinson, he couldn’t join the army.

“Elijah Muhammad told me that I can’t go,” Ali said.

“You’ve got to go,” Robinson replied.

“I’m afraid, Ray,” Ali said. “I’m real afraid.” He had tears in his eyes.

“If you ask me,” Robinson said later, “he wasn’t afraid of jail. He was afraid of being killed by the Muslims.”

Nearly a decade later, Ali told reporter Dave Kindred : “I would have gotten out of [the Nation of Islam] a long time ago, but you saw what they did to Malcolm X. . . . I can’t leave the Muslims. They’d shoot me, too.”

It speaks volumes that Ali was more willing to face jail time than the Messenger’s wrath, especially since, by his own admission, the government had offered him “all kinds of deals.” Military brass neither wanted him in combat nor wished to see him become a draft resister. He would have served in a ceremonial capacity, as Joe Louis had in World War II, visiting and entertaining troops. The federal prosecutor who handled the case sensed that Ali was ready to sign up for a noncombat role, but that “some of his advisers wanted to make a martyr out of him.” They succeeded.

It is not the only irony of Ali’s life that his submission to Elijah Muhammad’s authority somehow transformed him into a hero of freethinking and moral conscience. Yet he deserves credit for handling himself with magnanimity and élan. The fair-minded can sympathize with his quandary: searching for meaning in segregated America, he found the wrong answers, and discovered his mistake only when it was too late.
Beston is the author of a book to come out in September, The Boxing Kings: When American .Heavyweights Ruled the Ring. If you're interested in boxing, it sounds like a fascinating book.





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Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a woman whom I admire, but just don't agree with on most issues and court cases. She argued landmark cases for women's rights that, at the time, struck blows for women's legal equality. However, she seems to believe that we are stuck back in the past and that little has changed. In a recent appearance at Georgetown University, she warned students about the world today.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said Thursday that the challenges facing young women today are "more daunting" than what she experienced in the middle of the last century.

In response to a question from a female Georgetown University undergraduate at the school's Washington campus, Ginsburg talked about the "unconscious bias" against women that she believes "remains a problem." Ginsburg spoke of the bias as not explicit discrimination, but the consequence of ill-conceived attitudes.

"For you, the challenge is more daunting than the one that we faced," Ginsburg said at Georgetown on Thursday. "My advice is find allies among men as well as women who want to change things. And think of yourself ... as a teacher. So don't react in anger because that's going to be counter-productive."
In fact, she seems to think that a 1950s mindset toward women continued long past the women's movement of the 1960s and 1970s.
According to Ginsburg, when she joined the Supreme Court, gender-based discrimination was not considered an issue.

“There was the woman who took care of the home and children and the man who took care of the family’s economic wellbeing. And many laws were written with that picture of the world in mind,” Ginsburg said. “So the effort was to say there’s something wrong with that picture of the world. The object was to break down all those explicit gender-based distinctions so people could be free to be you and me.”
She joined the Court in 1993. I just can't agree that the world was still divided that way back then. Perhaps for families when the children were very little, there were still women who stayed home with the children, but even then such women were more anomalies. And if it was that way in 1993 after all the laws barring discrimination and protests against sexism in the workplace, isn't it better now? Is it really more "daunting" for women today? I guess the goal is for liberals to claim that the problem is never fixed so we need constant government interference because the discrimination never ends.

She is adopting the very popular theory that everyone is governed by "unconscious bias," which really is the perfect theory because it really can't be disproved and, no matter how much people might deny having such biases, their protests can be ignored because their biases are "unconscious." Nifty how that works, right? And the belief in everyone having unconscious biases about gender and race have launched hundreds of thousands of workshops to convince us that we're all sexist racists. Except, as Andrew Ferguson points out, there are problems with so much of this sort of behavioral science.
On this August morning Science magazine had published a scandalous article. The subject was the practice of behavioral psychology. Behavioral psychology is a wellspring of modern journalism. It is the source for most of those thrilling studies that keep reporters like Vedantam in business.

Over 270 researchers, working as the Reproducibility Project, had gathered 100 studies from three of the most prestigious journals in the field of social psychology. Then they set about to redo the experiments and see if they could get the same results. Mostly they used the materials and methods the original researchers had used. Direct replications are seldom attempted in the social sciences, even though the ability to repeat an experiment and get the same findings is supposed to be a cornerstone of scientific knowledge. It’s the way to separate real information from flukes and anomalies.

These 100 studies had cleared the highest hurdles that social science puts up. They had been edited, revised, reviewed by panels of peers, revised again, published, widely read, and taken by other social scientists as the starting point for further experiments. Except . . .

The researchers, Vedantam glumly told his NPR audience, “found something very disappointing. Nearly two-thirds of the experiments did not replicate, meaning that scientists repeated these studies but could not obtain the results that were found by the original research team.”

“Disappointing” is Vedantam’s word, and it was commonly heard that morning and over the following several days, as the full impact of the project’s findings began to register in the world of social science. Describing the Reproducibility Project’s report, other social psychologists, bloggers, and science writers tried out “alarming,” “shocking,” “devastating,” and “depressing.”

But in the end most of them rallied. They settled for just “surprised.” Everybody was surprised that two out of three experiments in behavioral psychology have a fair chance of being worthless.
Hey, if Science says that two-thirds of their research can't be reproduced, we should pay attention, right? It's literally "science" and we know how we need to respect science.

And the research on unconscious biases seems equally problematic. But the refutations just don't get the attention that the original research does because that research confirmed biases that we are all biased. See how convenient it all is?
Perhaps most consequentially, replications failed to validate many uses of the Implicit Association Test, which is the most popular research tool in social psychology. Its designers say the test detects unconscious biases, including racial biases, that persistently drive human behavior. Sifting data from the IAT, social scientists tell us that at least 75 percent of white Americans are racist, whether they know it or not, even when they publicly disavow racial bigotry. This implicit racism induces racist behavior as surely as explicit racism. The paper introducing the IAT’s application to racial attitudes has been cited in more than 6,600 studies, according to Google Scholar. The test is commonly used in courts and classrooms across the country.

That the United States is in the grip of an epidemic of implicit racism is simply taken for granted by social psychologists​—​another settled fact too good to check. Few of them have ever returned to the original data. Those who have done so have discovered that the direct evidence linking IAT results to specific behavior is in fact negligible, with small samples and weak effects that have seldom if ever been replicated. One team of researchers went through the IAT data on racial attitudes and behavior and concluded there wasn’t much evidence either way.

“The broad picture that emerges from our reanalysis,” they wrote, “is that the published results [confirming the IAT and racism] are likely to be conditional and fragile and do not permit broad conclusions about the prevalence of discriminatory tendencies in American society.” Their debunking paper, “Strong Claims and Weak Evidence,” has been cited in fewer than 100 studies.

17 comments:

trigger warning said...

I'm celebrating May Day by going to a capitalist pig baseball game this afternoon. But I wish we were having a local Berkleyesque Antifa speech-fascistito uprising to attend. I have an easily concealable telescoping baton with a glass breaker threaded on the end that I've been wanting to try out.

As Richard Feynman noted, the social "sciences" are a cargo cult.

mardony said...

Betsy's Page exults in the apoplexy that "lefties" who read the NYT have over the hiring of Bret Stephens.

In his initial NYT column Stephens wrote:

"Anyone who has read the 2014 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change knows that, while the modest (0.85 degrees Celsius, or about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit) warming of the Northern Hemisphere since 1880 is indisputable, as is the human influence on that warming, much else that passes as accepted fact is really a matter of probabilities".
Fact: The report actually states the 0.85 deg C warming is global. Yes, global.
Fact: Stephens calls the rise "modest". Since 1880. Really?
From the IPCC report:
"The globally averaged combined land and ocean surface temperature data as calculated by a linear trend show a warming of 0.85 [0.65 to 1.06] °C [FN2] over the period 1880 to 2012…."
Comment: Stephens is not "anyone", himself, who has read the report. Stephens needs to read his links and the NYT needs to fact-check him, or else he'll have Bill Kristol's NYT face plant fate.
l

mardony said...

SAY WHAT?!

“I think this is the most divisive speech I’ve ever heard from a sitting American president. He played to his base. He treated his other listeners — the rest of the people who have been disturbed about him or oppose him — he treated them basically as, ‘I don’t care, I don’t give a damn what you think because you’re, frankly, the enemy.’ I thought it was a deeply disturbing speech.”
David Gergen, advisor to three presidents (including Reagan) commenting on Trump's speech in Harrisburg, PA -- 4/29/2017 (CNN)

tfhr said...

The NYT and Walter Duranty, putting a smiley face on the Holomodor like nobody else could in their day. Now days sugar coating socialism is still all the rage with most of the media but it's also great sport to attack America for it's exceptionalism, it's place in western culture, and above all, it's leading role as the capitalist alternative to totalitarian regimes that subjugate their people under the guise of a smothering blanket called socialism.

Today's happy leftist haven't learned a thing - it's why they still cling to their dogma, their Ché shirts and the success at which North Korea, Cuba, and now Venezuela have had with keeping "the people" fit and trim. A hungry worker is a happy worker!
https://thefederalist.com/2017/04/19/110830/

trigger warning said...

A geophysics report based on computer simulations and written by an an organization run by a former railroad engineer and disgraced soft-porn author is right up your preferred alley, mardony.

trigger warning said...

I completely agree that "Gargles" Garden is dosturbed.

trigger warning said...

Should have been Gergen, not Garden, and disturbed not dosturbed. Another victory for Smart software. And some people trust climate models. :-D

tfhr said...

Comrade Mardony,

You're quoting Comrade Gergen on this wonderful May Day. Did Trump use the word "enemy"? Comrade Gergen used "enemy". Comrade Obama used the word "enemy" when speaking of Americans:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TeT67BvYzo4

As usual, comrades on the left accuse the right of doing exactly what the left does. Is this because the left cannot conceive of the idea that other people can and do think, and thus, act differently than they do? I suppose group think could create such conditions but mostly, comrade Mardony, I think the left just likes to lie about the opposition and can hardly help itself.

Have a glorious May Day, comrade Mardony!

mardony said...

SAY WHAT? (and try not to reach for the hemlock after reading)

Trump: "... I mean had Andrew Jackson been a little later you wouldn't have had the Civil War. He was a very tough person, but he had a big heart. He was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War, he said 'There's no reason for it.' People don't realize, you know, the Civil War, if you think about it, why? People don't ask that question, but why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?"

This is Trump in an interview with Washington Examiner reporter and Betsy fave Salena Zito on SiriusXM show “Main Street Meets the Beltway.". Trump compared his campaign and election victory — now over for more than six months — to those of Andrew Jackson, an analogy Trump has blubbered about since his inauguration. (and Betsy is still droning on about Clinton's loss).

No matter that Andrew Jackson was a Native American genocidal slaveowner who died in 1845. Our president* is clearly a serious student of history. He also thinks global warming is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. Genius!

tfhr said...

No matter that Andrew Jackson was a Democrat.

Mardony (wiping tears from his soggy cheeks and typing furiously): "...compared his campaign and election victory - now over for more than six months - to those of Andrew Jackson...."

And still you writhe in agony - much to my amusement - every day without any sign of abatement. How long do you plan to publicize your nervous breakdown?!

mardony said...

While Betsy and her commenter section hangers-on tilt at socialist windmills today ad nauseam, (evoking approving smiles from the corpse of Joe McCarthy), the rise of Nazism and anti-semitism in the U.S. is a taboo topic in the right wing media (subscription and readership worries?). I wonder why Betsy didn't comment on the skin-head love fest at Trump's Harrisburg rally last Sat. I guess disinterring NYT complicity in Russia's socialism in the 1930's is far more relevant today and of greater interest (and always a winner with the right).

" Studding the crowd were rather menacing-looking members of Keystone United (previously KSS, or Keystone State Skinheads), which the Southern Poverty Law Center characterizes as a white-supremacist hate group. Bald and heavily tattooed, they wore black T-shirts that read “Keystone State Central PA” and featured their logo, a black-and-white rendering of a dog. (The White House press office didn’t respond when asked to comment on the skinheads at the rally.)"
(from Trump's Alternative-Reality Rally)

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/04/trumps-alt-white-house-correspondents-dinner.html

trigger warning said...

http://twitchy.com/brettt-3136/2017/04/29/reporter-spots-skinhead-in-crowd-at-trumps-pennsylvania-rally-or-maybe-not/

Maybe we can arrange a meetup with antifa!

mardony said...

Triggaq ~ With all your arm-raising, the right sleeve on your Keystone Central PA tee-shirt must be worn and tattered, just like your posts.

mardony said...

Toad ~
Jackson was a Democrat like you're compos mentis. Would you call him a Kennedy Democrat, an Obama Democrat, or maybe an F.D.R. Democrat? To his credit, he did argue for suffrage for all white men, so you owe him. Your misanthropic comments reveal the intellectual depth of a coat of paint. Toad, go eat a bug

tfhr said...

A Kennedy Democrat - I don't know, did AJ have a crooked father? A penchant for cheating on his wife? Camelot voted against President Eisenhower's Civil Rights Act - don't want to rile those southern Dems when you're contemplating a run for the White House.

As long as we're talking about JFK, you brought up Joseph McCarthy in the thread, so let's not forget to mention old man Kennedy's buddy-buddy relationship with McCarthy, a family friend that also dated at least one of JFK's sisters. Camelot refused to attack McCarthy as other senators did - and while that's not a strike against him - it is a measure of his willingness to calculate past principle when politics are involved and Kennedy remembered how McCarthy loyally supported his senate run by not supporting his opponent.

Obama Dem: Jackson was a bit of a tyrant with many sketchy friends in low places, so I think we can check that block.

FDR Dem: Why not ask the relatives of Trail of Tears survivors and ask them to compare notes with families interned at Manzanar? A comparison of FDR's Supreme Court packing effort with Jackson's utter contempt for checks and balances - "Let Marhall enforce it" (Cherokee land decision) - and willingness to brush aside the Constitution when it suited his agenda.

So yeah, Dems one and all. What a crowd you run with!

mardony said...

Toad ~
Harriet Tubman will replace your legendary hero Jackson, an Indian killer and slave dealer, on a 20 dollar bill. Fitting.
Now we have Trump, your personal Jacksonian avatar, sickening American Indians with his fondness for Jackson and his Indian removal policy, all the while protecting his own flanks from a brewing Trump removal policy and its inexorable conclusion. Keep toking that reality away with pipe dreams of Joe McCarthy's return and commie hearings.

tfhr said...

Harriet Tubman: Republican

Andrew Jackson: Democrat, plantation owner

Mardony: Democrat lickspittle, has dreams of building the government plantation