Friday, January 19, 2018

Protecting immigration by regulating it

Democrats need to figure out how to be pro immigrant and pro diversity.


Regulating immigration is what saves it.  Unregulated immigration creates populist revolt.   But currently Democrats are captured by their constituency groups.

Democrats' progressive base has dug in.
Democrats are in a dilemma.  The government might shut down at midnight.  Democrats are supposedly the party of good government, of "government that works to help the people" and yet Democrats are about to risk being blamed for shutting down the government.  Trump is unfairly saying it is "all the Democrats' fault."  

He may win that argument  What every American will see is "government dysfunction" and that is enough to undermine the Democratic message.  "Government doesn't work.  See, we told you so" is the Republican message.  Shutdowns and chaos make their point.

Democrats have made the fatal error of letting their strongest constituency groups dictate policy.  (Of course, people inside those groups won't see it as error at all.  It will be seen as having principles.  That is why this is a dilemma.)

Democrats' urban, educated liberal progressive constituency is saying that enforcing immigration laws is cruel per se, so they complicate Democrats' ability to take an "obey the law" position.  This constituency supports sanctuary cities and criticize enforcement that facilitates enforcing a border.  They criticize a wall, criticize deportations, criticize border patrols.  

Hispanic base has dug in.
The Hispanic constituency for Democrats is proving a disappointment.  Democrats are attempting to win them--and Trump is openly insults them--yet fully a third voted for Trump and a Zogby poll said 40% are supporting him now.  What is wrong?  Hispanic citizens live closely enough the problems of immigration that they, too, want order and enforcement.  The "leaders" represent activists, not voters.

The two countries that have not seen populist revolt against immigration have been Canada and Australia.  Both countries allow immigration, but have strict enforcement of immigration laws that focus immigration on high skilled workers, not on people who take entry level low skilled jobs that compete with the less-skilled native work force.  Countries where immigration has appeared out of control have seen the rise of populist authoritarian parties.

America elected Trump.  (This blog is fully aware that Hillary won the popular vote.  She did.  While doing so Trump carried Iowa, Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Those states went for Obama twice.  Something happened.)

Click for the NY Times article
Would it offend Democratic or progressive principles to adopt a policy similar to Canada's and Australia's?   Not to my mind.  That was, in fact, the stated policy of Democrats in the recent past, including President Bill Clinton.  It was advanced in part as a way to address the concerns of the then-central Democratic constituency group, struggling native born workers of all ethnicities.  A progressive Democrat can assert that he or she is defending the protections the law gives to the weak, and a progressive Democrat can assert that regulating immigration is the price one pays for having it at all.  Regulated immigration allows immigration.  Unregulated immigration causes the backlash that elects a Trump.  These are not racist or conservative values.  These are liberal values.

What will stop Democrats from adopting immigration policies that will both protect immigration and allow their political survival?  Internal division.  Activist progressives and activist Hispanic leaders won't stand for it. Democrats who move in that direction will be called sell outs and Trump-lite.  They risk losing support on the left, and it will peel off to a third party.  In the Virginia governor's election we saw it happen when the Democratic governor "sent soft" on sanctuary cities.  

(And yet, against much worry, he won. Possibly there is a message there.)

Democrats looking at a presidential campaign are figuring out their policies and messages.  Can they afford progressive and Hispanic activist heat?   Possibly the Democrat who can win the primary will have to adopt the very policies that will cause him or her to  lose to Trump..

Democrats will either find a candidate with the communication skills to bridge the gap.  Someone needs to be able to sell immigration enforcement as an expression of progressive, compassionate inclusion, rather than a denial of it.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

I am a Helen Reddy feminist.

Men and women are all in this together.


I had the temerity to advise women in a recent blog post.   I was called an "old white man talking his shit."

Click to go there.
This blog was critical of a sub-text in the MeToo announcements of the past three months.  Feminine power and equality should not express itself in after-the-fact complaints about past  bad behaviors endured by women, I wrote. It was female victimhood, finally getting payback.  

I said I liked a feminism of empowerment from the get-go.  I cited the NY Times comments by feminist author Bari Weiss who said that at least some of the time women are not helpless in the moment of their being subjected to bad behavior by men.  Speak clearly right then, she advised.   I agreed.

She wrote that women shouldn't think of themselves as helpless.  They should think of themselves as powerful.  Yes, I thought.  That's good feminism.

This was in my blog post of January 16, 2018.  Two days ago.  

I got pushback. "Easy for YOU to say, Peter," one woman said on Facebook.  

Another reader wrote saying I didn't understand women:

     "Kind of like reading a play written by a man trying to write dialogue for his women characters, stilted,clueless, out of touch, awkward, flat, emotionless, sounding just like,
     
     In other words men don’t walk in women’s shoes or know how to wear them. Nor do they have periods and deliver babies or have breasts that are desired and touched without permission. Nor do think that getting a job and holding it has something to do with their lips eye shadow or prominent bulge in their pants." 

I was not attempting to walk in Hillary's shoes nor channel the point of view of someone else nor in any way think like a woman.   My comments channel me, my own point of view as a citizen and voter.  I watched the debate.  I saw Trump being a bully.  I watched Hillary intimidated.  I felt angry with Trump, and I felt sorry for Hillary.

I did not want to feel sorry for the political leader of my country.  I wanted her to triumph, not endure.

Mine was not an "undecided vote"--I supported Hillary--but my observation at the time and on reflection was that this was a preview of future interactions between Hillary and other opponents.  I thought she looked weak in a conflict.  Senate Republicans will bully her.  Russia or China will bully her. 

Click Here: Helen Reddy, 1972. " I am woman!"
I wanted to see different, more exuberant kind of feminism--especially in a political leader.  I wanted a strong woman candidate who communicated confidence and power and joy.  

I wanted one who said that challenges made her stronger and that no one could keep her down.  One where Hillary demanded respect in the moment of conflict.  

I wanted Helen Reddy. I wanted the exuberant feminism of my youth.  It was a feminism of empowerment, not revenge for insults endured.  

Click the link.  Helen Reddy says it better than I can.  The song was not anti-men.  It was pro self-respect.  She roared.

"I am woman, hear me roar, in numbers too big to ignore. . . 

You can bend but never break me, 'cause it only serves to make me more determined to achieve my final goal.  

But I come back even stronger, not a novice any longer, 'cause you've deepened the conviction in my soul.

If I have to I can do anything.  I am strong.  I am invincible.  I am woman. I am woman. I am invincible. I am strong.  I am woman. I am invincible. I am strong. I am woman."



I share an opinion on Feminism.  Feminism does not belong solely to women.  It belongs to all of us.  We are in this together. 




Trump Popularity is Up

Trump approval is now up to 40%.  I have been warning Democrats of this.


The Trump base is expanding.  Trump is emerging from "one of a kind" back into the normal zone of presidential unpopularity.

Democrats may think this is the worst of times for Trump. They are mis-reading the situation.  A Zigby poll:  Click: January 16, 2018

Back toward Obama levels
Donald Trump is doing two things that are politically advantageous, and Democrats are letting him get away with it.

1.  Trump is stoking the fires of racial anxiety.   While his defenders were mumbling and unable to remember what Trump said in the bipartisan meeting regarding immigrants, Trump himself remembered perfectly.  He was bragging to guests at Mar a Lago that his base agreed with him about immigration from "shithole" countries. Steve Bannon left the White House but Trump is still operating on Bannon's insight, that a great many American feel racial anxiety and are troubled by demographic changes that threaten white majority status.   Click Here: Race talk hurts Democrats

The more Democrats talk about race, Trump's racism, and racial grievance,  the more they remind Americans of uncomfortable things.  It backfires.  Whites deny racial injustice exists anymore, or they point the finger and say that whites are the victim, or they blame blacks for bad choices and behaviors, or maybe they reluctantly agree it is true but resent having their noses rubbed in the facts. Race talk is not politically useful.  

Click: Race Talk hurts Democrats
Democrats make the mistaken assumption that Hispanics react to Trump the way black voters do.  That is wrong.  Democratic orthodox thinking is that Hispanics are deeply offended by Trump.  Hispanic leaders who purport to represent the demographic certainly are, but the Zigby poll shows they do not represent their demographic.  Feelings are mixed, not monolithic, on immigration issues:  45% of Hispanics approve of Trump, 55% disapprove. 

2.  Trump talks about jobs and prosperity.  Zogby polling asked the question, "How do you feel the economy will be for the next four years?"  Some 56% said they think it will be excellent or good. Trump promised change and he gave people economic hope. 

Trump commandeered the Obama slogan of hope and change.  

Trump 
Trump is claiming responsibility for the improved economic situation, and he is selling it and owns it.

But what about all the bad news, the undisciplined tweets, the payoff to the porn star, the indictments, the White House chaos, collusion?  

They aren't relevant.

What is relevant is that Trump trolls Democrats into talking about racial injustice and immigration in a way that makes whites nervous and fails to motivate Hispanics, while Trump is identified with growing prosperity.  Lose, lose.

News of Trump temperament could hardly be worse, yet Trump's popularity is going up.  It is time for Democrats to wise up about what issues voters actually care about.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The moment Hillary could have won the election.

Hillary could have won the election with a 5 second knockout blow.


Instead, she lost it.  She wimped out.


She let herself get pushed around by Donald Trump.  She endured bullying rather than confront it.   She was demonstrating to the world that she didn't know what to do in a fight.
Trump was a jerk.  Hillary was weak.

Her book reported that she thought "This is not OK."   Her book reported that her skin crawled.

Hillary was being pressured by an opponent.  Had she turned to him and said, firmly, "Back off, Buster," or faced him directly and taken a step forward and said, "Get the hell out of my space, Donald" she would have communicated strength.

Instead, with in the face of Trump's unmistakable body language, she showed with her own unmistakable body language that Trump could invade/assault her and that her response was to endure and ignore it.

It was not Commander in Chief behavior.   It fed the meme that she was weak.  
   
The MeToo movement has been a mixed bag for women. Women have been coming forward and detailing how, in some encounter with a man some time ago, they endured some kind of affront.  Or pressure.  Or sexual groping. Or sexual display. Or sex.  They did not like it.  They were silent or helpless or confused or conflicted because that man had power or money or prestige or at least self confidence about what he wanted.  They were silent.

Now, in alliance with other woman, they are speaking out and getting revenge.

The MeToo movement has been called empowering for women.  I consider it to have been just the opposite.  It showed women as passive victims.  

This week women are starting to notice that.

There is a premise built into the after-the-fact MeToo reports.  The premise is that the woman was powerless.  The man had agency; the woman was the object. In some cases there is a clear power differential.  The notion of a producer dangling a acting role in front of a starlet, to be discussed on a casting couch in a private room, is a cliche.  The woman in that circumstance faces duress. Sometimes this is, in fact, a workplace power issue.  But sometimes the reports are simply unwelcome advances.  Trial balloons that went flat.  Clumsy gropes. Cloddishness.
Click Here. Babe Magazine

The man looks stupid or gross.  How could Al Frankin possibly think he would be kissable by a woman as beautiful as his on-stage star, a Playboy model?  She said his kiss was "slimy."  Yuck!  Foolish Franken, and years later he resigns from the Senate.

A turning of the tide. A feminist magazine ran an article from an anonymous woman, "Grace", saying she had a bad date with actor comedian Aziz Ansari. "The worst night of my life," was the title. 

They met, flirted, exchanged numbers, had a fancy dinner, she went to his apartment.  She wrote that he failed to notice her non-verbal signals. He served white wine and didn't even ask if she preferred red.  They kissed.  They got naked. She felt rushed. They got dressed and watched TV together.

The next day Ansari contacts her saying it was a great evening, let's meet again.  She says it was awful, didn't you realize?   Oh.

A feminist writer speaks up and pushes back.


Click Here: New York Times.
"Ansari is not a mind reader."  Yesterday the New York Times has an article that has been widely circulated in the day it has been out.  The female author, Bari Weiss, said that this article exemplifies the problem with the MeToo exposures.  This was not rape, nor even "rape culture."  This was a bad date, she said..  

And, worse for women, she wrote: the premise of "Grace's" account  is that women are helpless.  Apparently Ansari failed to notice "Grace's" reservations and her non-verbal cues.  Didn't Ansari notice that I was reluctant and not fully into it?  Weiss said, the supposed expose' "transforms what ought to be a movement for women's empowerment into an emblem for female helplessness."   "Grace" went along.  She didn't speak up.  She didn't get up.  She didn't put her clothes back on. She kept hoping Ansari would intuit her reluctance.

Bari Weiss notes that women are not helpless.  Women have agency.  

I agree.  A feminism that has its power in complaining after the fact, is a feminism that pushes women backwards.  

We do not know what happened that evening at Ansar's apartment, but we do know what happened at the debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Trump made a boorish, thuggish assault into Hillary's space.  Hillary was bothered by it, pretended to ignore it, and carried on.  Then later complained about it in her book.  

That was "MeToo" feminism.  It is bad feminism, weak feminism, and disastrous presidential politics.

Yesterday's article in the NY Times may be the beginning of a counter-trend in the MeToo movement.  It takes a woman to say it: women need not be victims who complain later.  They can be warriors who stand their ground.

Indeed, they must be warriors in spirit and demeanor, to be credible as candidates facing self confident men..

Monday, January 15, 2018

Emergency Alert in Hawaii

History is not "what happened."


History is the lessons people learn from what they decide, with hindsight, is "what happened."  

Cell Phone Alert

We just had a brief history lesson this week.  "Emergency Alert.  Ballistic Missile threat inbound to Hawaii.  Seek immediate shelter.  This is not a drill."


1914 Lesson.  The loss of lives in World War One and its destruction of four European empires was out of all proportion to the spark that initiated it.  People sought lessons and historians supplied them.  We learned that  little allies with their own national agendas can draw major countries into wars they would not rationally choose.  We learned that preparation for war by one side is perceived as an act of war by powers careful not to be caught flat footed.

Result?   America ignores the first lesson, in Vietnam and Israel.  We address the second lesson by a three part deterrence system.

1938 Lesson.  France and Britain allowed Hitler to annex the German speaking portion of Czechoslovakia.  For 80 years it was were clear lessons: any negotiation and ceding land an "appeasement,", always bad morally and tactically, and it is an act of cowardice. Every problem is a stitch in time to save nine.  t..

Result?  Every challenge in the Cold War was perceived as another Munich challenge. We invented the "domino theory" and therefore utterly misunderstood Vietnam.

1941 Lesson.  Pearl Harbor attack.  Lesson learned: be on the lookout for a sneak attack.

Result?  Us military is on 24-7 stars and has a nuclear response that can survive a first strike.  

Saturday, January 13, 2018, and the possibility of a lesson.  What happened?  An accident.  A mid level State of Hawaii employee at a shift change hits the wrong spot on a dropdown menu.  He clicked "Missile Alert" rather than "Test Missile Alert."

The world just experienced a learning opportunity.  It may go unnoticed.  Nobody died. 

Result?  An opportunity to reflect on the danger of saber rattling and the Trump Doctrine of Unpredictability in foreign policy.
Trump during missile alert. Distracted.

Trump must have heard about a civil defense alert as a false alarm, not as notice of an alarm being issued with unclear circumstances and potential missile threat.  First impressions matter.  This caught Trump while he was golfing, not while he was engaging in threat-banter with Kim Jon-un.  Sometimes events are ambiguous. the September 11 attacks looked like an accident, then a hijacking, at first.  Everything might have been different had he gotten a tweet saying "MISSILE ATTACK ALERT IN HAWAII.  PEOPLE SHELTERING. 911"

Trump is being criticized for golfing and tweeting about "Fire and Fury" rather than about 1.5 million people being warned of imminent death, but I consider this fortunate. Trump was out of the alarm loop.  No military aide ran to him and rushed him into Marine One while people sorted out why a civil defense warning had been issued. Trump--or Kim Jong-un could have learned about a missile attack alert as it it were real--the way the citizens of Hawaii experienced it. They would have had five minutes to decide to determine the correct response. There would get ambiguous information. Alert from Hawaii, all clear from the military.  Take precautionary action, which action might be a signal to Kim Jong-un that this was real, not a drill.  Kim Jong-un might have interpreted the sheltering warning to Hawaii as  war preparation, getting civilians to safety in preparation for the attack.

In fact, apparently, none of this happened, and Saturday was just another forgettable day.  But it could have played out much differently and different lessons applied.  It might be a sneak attack (1941 lesson.)  Someone might be mobilizing first (1914).  Don't fail to act (1938.)

Temporary graves, Verdun 1916
Trump promotes a Doctrine of Unpredictability.  A "crazy man" is given wide berth and his threats are more worrisome since the the actor is less rational and disciplined..  People understood that Obama wanted to avoid war.  They don't know about the bellicose and mercurial Trump.  That is perceived as a strength.

The lesson this Saturday is that the Trump Doctrine of Unpredictability may work, but it is dangerous.  Accidents happen. They are more likely to happen when the decision makers perceive other decision makers to be emotional and erratic. That is exactly Trump's intention.  

No one in August, 1914 wanted total war and the destruction of Europe.  They blundered into it.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Democrats are in Peril

Irrelevant

Democrats think Trump is in trouble.  Chaos at the White House.  Cognitive decline.  "Shit hole."  Porn star hush money.  Mueller investigation.  


Democrats have it backwards.  They are the ones in trouble.  

Trump has trolled and tweeted Democrats into focusing their attention on Trump-the-bad-boy, and on digging in as the party defending illegal immigration.  These are two loser issues.

The 2016 election demonstrated that Trump's temperament and bad-boy behavior is not a disqualifier.  The erratic things he says and does demonstrate in big bold body language that he is shaking things up.  Democrats need to learn and integrate into their thinking that Trump’s vulgarity and flagrant dishonesty are irrelevant to his base and base-sympathizers.  Relevant to evangelical Christians was that he nominated Neil Gorsuch.

Trump has his story.
Trump's "shit hole" comment has Democrats going deeper into political self destruction. Of course Trump's comments were offensive, so Democrats are rushing to be the anti-Trump, defending illegal immigration, and closing ranks as the party of diversity as the top of mind policy issue.

No Democrat can appear "soft" on the anti-Trump, anti-"shit hole" issue.  This makes it impossible for a Democrat to voice the kinds of immigration comments that Bill Clinton made fifteen years ago, where we welcomed legal immigration with rules and borders. Trump pushes acceptable progressive policy to the political fringes, because Democrats must be the counter-Trump.

Meanwhile, Trump remains unanswered as he calls himself the cause of a strong and growing economy.   Democrats are ceding the most important and relevant issue to Trump.  It's the economy, stupid.  The issue being talked in the media is Trump, "shit hole" and identity politics, with Democrat after Democrat defending the dignity of people from Africa, Haiti, and Central America.  Democrats followed the Trump bait back into identity politics and away from jobs, taxes, and economic fairness for middle income Americans.

This is exactly the positioning that caused Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin to vote for Trump. He talked about jobs.  Hillary talked about harmony and diversity, "stronger together."

Guyer:  Democratic
Thad Guyer, a frequent commenter on this blog, said it gracefully in a tweet.

Advice to Democrats:  Diversity is a good thing, but it is not the main thing.  

Jobs, prosperity, access to health care, and fair taxation are the main thing.

Trump's flagrant exaggerations and dishonesty gives a Democrat a basis for recasting the "Trump economic miracle" story that Trump is out selling right now.  He claimed credit for no plane crashes, he claimed his crowds were huge, he claims more job growth than Obama.  Trump-as-dishonest, someone who flagrantly grabs undeserved credit, is a meme that is already out there.  A Democrat can say "Not so fast, Donald."  A Democrat can get in front of this with a segue from claiming false credit into the story of Democratic economic success. 

That argument will not happen by itself and currently no Democrat is making that argument.  Therefore Trump's version is settling in as the truth: Trump jump started the economy.

Trump manipulated Democrats into a dead end path.

[Note:  recent posts have documented that in fact the economic recovery has been underway for 7 years, six of them under Obama, and that Trump is riding the continuation of a trend, not the fresh beginning of one.  He simply ignored the economic recovery that he inherited, called it carnage, and then said, one month into his presidency, look how great things are.

Click Here, January 9, 2018

Click Here, December 26, 2017

Click Here: December 21, 2017

The above are three posts which document the recovery statistics.]



Saturday, January 13, 2018

Trump: Racist, or just Disrespectful?

Hearing the unsaid.  Seeing the invisible.


I liken it to an old phrase: "Gay-dar", that ability to discern sexual orientation through subtle clues.  Some see it.  Some are oblivious.

Click. I said it first, now the Washington Post.
Let's take another look at the "Shit hole" comment.

Yesterday this blog observed two ideas in conflict with each other.  One was that Trump's preference for immigrants from Norway over ones from "shit holes" like Africa and Haiti was inherently and obviously racist, and that Trump was just saying what a lot of people think is objectively true, that third world poverty is a "shit hole."

The blog received comments from several sources:  

"Trump was disrespectful, but not racist." 

They saw no racial animus in what Trump said.  Fox News hosts make the same point. Jessie Watters: "This is how forgotten men and women in America talk at the bar."

People who do not consider themselves racist and people who do not experience racial anxiety over their status, can observe Trump's messaging and be blind to the embedded affirmations of traditional hierarchy based on race.  It is possible even Trump is blind to it.  He says repeatedly the he is "the least racist person on the planet."  Yet  he unwaveringly communicates race hierarchy messages, coded as disrespect for black victims of crime, for black NFL players protesting, for black Congresswomen wearing hats, for blacks coming from shit hole countries.

Race remains an unresolved problem in AmericaWe have a white persons party and a party of diversity.  Democrats receive about 37% of the white vote.  Race privilege and hierarchy is a sub-text underlying the differences between the two parties.  

Trump moved the subtext (as expressed by Goldwater, Nixon, Reagan, Gingrich) up to overt signaling, more in common with late-George Wallace in his 1972 campaign.  He stopped calling for segregation and began condemning Black Panthers and agitators and college professors and white liberals.   He pointed the wedge not between black and white--that was too overt to succeed in the north.  He pointed the wedge between whites who supported diversity (liberal, culturally sophisticated elites, college students, professors, journalists) with their black and brown allies, versus working class cultural traditionalists. This obscured the racial subtext, and it divided peopleon the basis of culture, not skin color.  Skin color was now "incidental."

Not all Republicans are racist. They resent the charge.  The resent even the hint of it as subtext.  The people who wrote me saying Trump is simply disrespectful but not racist are themselves not racist and likely are oblivious to a racist subtext. They have other reasons for voting Republican.  It is like "gay-dar." A person uninterested in the signals never sees cues that other see clearly.

But the racial subtext is meaningful to a great many and it is there for people who want to see it.  A great many white people do.

This blog has attempted to warn Democratic candidates that a majority of whites (55%) feel that they are the victims of racial discrimination.  They feel they are struggling, Trump points out a villain: the people below them on the hierarchy of color, people jumping the line and stepping ahead of them.

Trump does not argue the crime rate numbers or the economics of immigration.  The warm up acts for his rallies are the families of people killed by a person in the country illegally.  They weep and are angry.  A dark skinned man did that to our family. Everyone is against murder. The crime is real and shocking.  Is it racist?  The audience hears what it wants to hear.

Democratic candidates have a dilemma.  

They must confront the subtext of racial prejudice amid the complication that many sincere people do not perceive Trump's racial message, so they resent being told something is happening right before their eyes when they don't see it.  Democrats also must confront the fact that social justice--and the tenets of their party--endorse acceptance of diversity, yet some of the traditional supporters of their party feel racial anxiety.  Those people do notice the subtext and they agree with Trump that white people are the aggrieved, neglected group.

Somehow, a Democrat needs to acknowledge the unseen and unheard.  Black lives matter, brown lives matter, all lives matter. Everyone struggles.