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Politics

Economic Distress Did Drive Trump’s Win

Economic Distress Did Drive Trump’s Win
By Thomas Ferguson, Benjamin Page, Jacob E. Rothschild, Arturo Chang, and Jie Chen

OCT 31, 2018 | INSTITUTIONS, POLICY & POLITICS

Contrary to the dominant media narrative, social issues like racism and sexism on their own can’t explain Trump’s success.
Donald Trump’s election in 2016 as president of the United States can be taken as a striking example of the rise of right-wing populism around the world.

Scholars and others have debated what the roots of that populism are among mass publics. For example, did voters in the United States respond chiefly to social anxieties—racism, xenophobia, sexism? Or mainly to economic distress—lost jobs, stagnant wages, home foreclosures, health care crises, student loan debt, and the like?

Most analysts have concluded that social anxieties overwhelmingly predominated. They argue that the story is simple: Trump was elected by “deplorables,” fueled by racial resentment, sexism, and fear or dislike of immigrants from abroad. Economics, they say, made little or no difference. This story has been repeated so often in many parts of the mass media that it has hardened into a kind of “common sense” narrative.

Our new paper shows that this view is mistaken. The picture is considerably more complicated. Social anxieties certainly did play an important part in Trump’s victories—particularly in the 2016 Republican primaries, where many voters were indeed motivated by resentments related to race, ethnicity, immigration, and gender. Social issues were important in the general election as well. But upon careful examination of several types of data, the real picture looks considerably more complicated.

Economic factors mattered at both stages.

Interesting. Also covered here by NC.

via Economic Distress Did Drive Trump’s Win

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The Empty Core of the Trump Mystique | The New Republic

Another pertinent factor is envy, a basic human emotion that rising social inequality can only exacerbate. To put it in cruder terms: “The world sucks for me, so I am going to make it suck for you too. I have lost my job, my status as a white male, and may even lose my gun. So you, my smug, privileged friend, are going to lose your civil liberties, your faith in social progress, your endangered species, your affirmative action, your reproductive freedom, your international alliances, your ‘wonderful’ exchange student from Syria.”

A stellar and thought-provoking essay.

via The Empty Core of the Trump Mystique | The New Republic

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The Cruelty Is the Point – The Atlantic

Trump’s only true skill is the con, his only fundamental belief is that the United States is the birthright of straight, white, Christian men, and his only real, authentic pleasure is in cruelty. It is that cruelty, and the delight it brings them, that binds his most ardent supporters to him, in shared scorn for those they hate and fear: immigrants, black voters, feminists, and treasonous white men who empathize with any of those who would steal their birthright. The president’s ability to execute that cruelty through word and deed makes them euphoric. It makes them feel good, it makes them feel proud, it makes them feel happy, it makes them feel united. And as long as he makes them feel that way, they will let him get away with anything, no matter what it costs them.

Read the whole thing. I don’t want to devolve into another rant-y political blog, but this is worth sharing.

via The Cruelty Is the Point – The Atlantic

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White threat in a browning America – Vox

White voters who feel they are losing a historical hold on power are reacting to something real. For the bulk of American history, you couldn’t win the presidency without winning a majority — usually an overwhelming majority — of the white vote. Though this changed before Obama (Bill Clinton won slightly less of the white vote than his Republican challengers), the election of an African-American president leading a young, multiracial coalition made the transition stark and threatening.

This is the crucial context for Trump’s rise, and it’s why Tesler has little patience for those who treat Trump as an invader in the Republican Party. In a field of Republicans who were trying to change the party to appeal to a rising Hispanic electorate, Trump was alone in speaking to Republican voters who didn’t want the party to remake itself, who wanted to be told that a wall could be built and things could go back to the way they were.

“Trump met the party where it was rather than trying to change it,“ Tesler says. “He was hunting where the ducks were.”

via Donald Trump, Barack Obama, and the war over change – Vox

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Politics

Can liberals please work out how to win back the working class? | Thomas Frank | Opinion | The Guardian

For all their cunning, Republicans are a known quantity. Their motives are simple: they will do anything, say anything, profess faith in anything to get tax cuts, deregulation and a little help keeping workers in line. Nothing else is sacred to them. Rules, norms, traditions, deficits, the Bible, the constitution, whatever. They don’t care, and in this they have proven utterly predictable.

via Can liberals please work out how to win back the working class? | Thomas Frank | Opinion | The Guardian

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That sinking feeling – Charlie’s Diary

Most likely the crisis will end with the UK crashing back into the EU, or at least into Customs Union and statutory convergence—but on EU maximalist terms with none of the opt-outs negotiated by previous British governments from Thatcher onwards. The negotiating position will most likely resemble that of Greece in 2011-2015, i.e. a vastly weaker supplicant in a state of crisis and near-collapse, and the British economy will take a generation to recover—if it ever manages to.

(This is, by the way, not the worst scenario I can envisage. The worst case is that the catastrophic collapse of the world’s sixth largest trading economy, combined with a POTUS whose understanding of economics is approximately as deep as that of Louis XVI, will lead to a global financial crisis on the scale of 2007-08—but without leadership as credible as, say, George W. Bush and/or Gordon Brown to pull our collective nuts out of the fire. In which case we’re looking at a global banking collapse, widespread famine due to those crop shortages, and a wave of revolutions the like of which the planet hasn’t seen since 1917-18. But hopefully that won’t happen, right? Because only a maniac would want to burn everything down in order to provide elbow room for a new white supremacist ethnostate world order. Oops, that would be Steve Bannon.)

I really, really hope that this grim take is wrong, but NC’s take is pretty similar. Theresa May really does seem like a simpering dolt, and the human cost will be enormous.

via That sinking feeling – Charlie’s Diary

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The Remaking of Class | The New Republicp

It suggests that there have always been many Americans for whom class is no mystery at all, but a very practical project of self-advancement and self-defense.

via The Remaking of Class | The New Republic

Well worth your time to read.

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Music Politics

Troll level: Expert

So there’s this Japanese band that we like, ‘World Order‘. It’s… complicated. I mean, their lead singer has the improbable name of Genki Sudo (cue xkcd link), they perform slow-motion-realtime synchronized dances with amazing choreography while wearing suits. Random screen cap:

Screenshot 2018-04-09 17.42.44.png

It’s … unique. Try ‘Machine Civilization‘ to start with.

Their latest bears the pitch-black title of “Let’s Start WW3” and features auto-tuned Trump (from his inaugural speech maybe?) and some godlike subtext involving the bronzed pig from the Seattle market.

Like I said, unique. Enjoy.

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Politics

An insightful post from Charles Pierce

It is easy to dismiss children who march. It is easy to drown out their voices in adult condescension. It’s even easy to portray them as damaged puppets in the hands of shadowy political masters. That’s what the other side said in Birmingham. That’s what the other side said in Soweto. But the children who spoke on Saturday know more about gun violence than any of the smug voices telling them to shut up and heal. So dismiss them, if you must. History will laugh at you one day.

via Parkland Kids Are Part of a Tradition of Child Activism

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Politics Random

Urban surveillance in San Diego

I am beta-testing an iOS app that shows ADS-B flight data, and yesterday this showed up:

That is not normal. I did a search for ‘N812FS’ and found this:

The story explains that this plane, a turboprop Pilatus PC12, is owned and flown by FLIR Systems and

…air mission profiles fall into 4 different areas: demonstration, transportation, cargo and engineering. Greg says that approximately 60% of their flights fall into the demonstration category. With a maximum cruise speed of 280 kts, a range of over 1500 nm, and short-field takeoff and landing capabilities of 2650 ft and 1850 ft, respectively, they can take a sensor almost anywhere in the world for show-and-tell to potential customers.

From the product page for the FLIR Ultra 8500 we learn that it is

The world’s number one selling law enforcement thermal imager, the Ultra8500 is a compact, stabilized multi-sensor system designed for Pursuit/Patrol and Surveillance missions. This model is based on the 9″ gimbal design, configured for specific law enforcement missions.

So basically FLIR (the company, that is) is circling for hours over a few neighborhoods, capturing video and showing what it can do for potential clients, presumably the local police department. Here’s a snip from the product sheet:

I have the $320 version that attaches to your phone, and even it is surprisingly capable.

E.g. here I used it to look for leaks in a drain, which is easy if you run hot water to provide contrast:

Or insulation:

And my server closet – that Airport does run hot.

I’d guess that the airborne version could easily spot grow houses, which matters less now that California has legalized pot. More worrying to me is that fact that, due to a mild climate, many local houses were built with no wall insulation at all, thus meaning that the airborne FLIR can literally see through walls. If you add a dirt box to the plane too, it’s scary as hell.

Here’s the thing: In Kyllo v United States, the Supreme Court ruled that FLIR imaging was a search and required a warrant. What’s a company doing? Is it legal? Are they selling imagery or derived data to law enforcement for the disgrace that is ‘parallel construction’?