Monday, August 31, 2015

Donald Trump and Political Correctness--Racism comes out of the closet

Donald Trump has done us a favor and we should thank him.   His frank and unapologetic manner and words, and his celebration of plain talk instead of political correctness, has taken the veil off the racial, ethnic, religious, and sexual attitudes that are the social values orthodoxy expressed by the 17 Republican candidates for president.

Donald Trump is the popular because he is voicing the politics of George Wallace of the 1960s, and he isn't bothering to hide it.   And the 16 other Republican Party candidates for President, watching his success, are opening up themselves and revealing that social values conservative orthodoxy gets some of its energy from resentment over the displacement of white, Christian, heterosexual, native born Americans as the sole expression of Americanism.   

A refrain heard again and again is "take our country back."   What are they talking about?  Who is "our"?   And what is "back"?    

"Our" means regular, normal people:  white, Christian, church-going, heterosexual, American born of American born parents, with men in charge and women content to serve those men..   And "back" means a world when people who didn't fit that profile were understood both by you and by them to be inferior, wrong, unequal, and powerless.

Fox News is losing its place as the purest voice of the Republican Party.   The constraints of mass audience television forces their anchors and spokespeople to condemn Fox enemies with a bit of care in their language.   They cannot embarrass mass market advertisers.  The Trump-Fox debate tiff exposes the Fox strategic vulnerability.  They need to be a little bit politically correct.

Donald Trump is not so constrained.   He is speaking another language, the language of talk radio.  The language of plain talk.  He loves being outrageous, and he is loved for it.  Jeb Bush is "weak", Anthony Weiner is "a perv", Mexicans are rapists, except a few that aren't.

"Political correctness" requires that words avoid open disrespect and contempt:  
  Say "undocumented", not  "illegal alien".
  Say "Asian", not "Chink." 
  Say "Black" or "urban" or "central city", not "nigger."  
  Say "Hispanic", not "wetback".   
  Say "homosexual" or "LGBT", not "faggot" or "queer".

Political correctness requires you not tell sexual jokes at work, you not call women managers "bitches", you not hint that a female TV anchor asked tough questions because she was menstruating and in a grouchy mood.

Political correctness keeps prejudice in the closet.

The fact that respectful language is termed "political correctness", and is resented for its constraints, reveals the underlying secret.   Political correctness is a restraint when one needs to disguise the feelings that come first to mind when voicing certain things and use the polite language, not the frank language that reflects the contempt or resentment one feels.   Open prejudice and racial-religious-sexual contempt is no longer acceptable in polite company, but the feelings of resentment continue.  

What to do?   Disguise and misdirect.

George Wallace of the early 1960s spoke of "segregation now, segregation forever" but by October 1968, when I heard him speak on Boston Common he asserted that he was no longer prejudiced on the basis of race.  But he got his message across by condemning and mocking "protesters", the advocates for civil rights.  Overtly, it was a new target, but he ginned up the same resentment in Boston's ethnic working class population.  But his was a billiards bank shot, an attack on protesters, not blacks.   But the audience gets it.

Trump is franker than Fox, which worries Fox and worries the Republican establishment.   Some things should not be said aloud.  But the Republican candidates are moving in the direction of Trump: Trump light.

Below is an opinion piece, blaming liberals for the rise of Trump.   After all, it is liberals who have created the environment where a guy cannot call a spade a spade.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The 14th Amendment is a wonderful thing. Shame on people who want to ignore it, or define it away.

The 14th Amendment is a glorious thing, an expression in law and the constitution of the founding aspirations of our country, the self evident truth that all people are created equal.

The 14th Amendment begins:

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.

Yesterday I watched Megyn Kelly attempt to pin down Ted Cruz on whether he agreed with Donald Trump in saying that children born in the US, who have one or more parent of foreign nationality, should be deported immediately and be allowed back only conditionally.   He said this was the wrong question.   Megyn persisted, saying it was an easy yes or no question that Donald Trump has put on the table, with a clear position saying "Yes."   Do you agree, she asked again.   

And, again, Ted Cruz refused an answer saying we needed to examine the whole immigration system.

Well, I will answer the question directly:   Of course not.   Children born in the US are citizens of the United States.   Their parents might not be, but they are.  American citizens are "persons", who cannot be "deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

It is the Constitution, and it is good.   I have witnessed the mess in Israel where there are a vast number of people in the occupied West Bank of the Jordan River who are now in their 2nd and 3rd generation of non-citizenship.   Non citizenship creates stateless people, people with diminished or zero rights, who are locked into an underclass, people who are frustrated, angry, resentful, and easily drawn toward revolution and violence.   They don't have "buy in" because in fact they are not in.

China has its own version of this chaos, with its rules about residency.   Rural people move to the coastal cities, find work, but lack the privileges of local residency in those cities.  Their children cannot attend schools there, they "belong" elsewhere.   This internal population is frustrated, angry, resentful, and is part of the political instability of their country.

But we need not look to foreign countries to see the problem of an un-integrated population.   We had a legal underclass of noncitizen residents, an enslaved population, counting as 3/5 for purposes of representation but lacking citizenship rights.   American fought a civil war to cure this, then notwithstanding this 14th Amendment had another century of legalized segregation, vote suppression, lynching, terror, all-white juries, and oppression.   America has a long ugly history of oppression racial and ethnic minorities, and having residents with diminished rights enabled that in the past and enables it in the present.

Americans forget our own history of our founding.    Colonists in the British colonies resented lacking the rights and powers of their fellow citizens in Britain.   Since we were not accorded the right of representation in Parliament  one of the privileges of citizenship, Britain had no right to tax us, we asserted.   The colonists protested, the rioted, they revolted and took arms against lawful government.   We were born here, we lived here, but lacked equal rights--no way.   

Yet today, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and now other candidates are jumping on the bandwagon to deny equal rights to some native born persons.

How dare they say the Pledge of Allegiance:  I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."   Justice for all.   All persons.   

Sunday, August 23, 2015

A look back to the Hillary Clinton Event in Portland, Oregon, August 5, 2015

It was a pure expression of the Hillary/Sanders match up.   Bernie spoke to crowds, and excited them.  My preferred candidate, Hillary, raised some very useful money, very well and competently.  But not passionately.

Bernie was coming to Portland in a couple of days for an event and some 20,000 were expected, and that is how many showed up, it turns out.  We later learned that it was the largest event in the campaign so far, in either party, more people than Trump.     The Hillary event was at a lovely home in a great area of Portland.   A fundraiser.  The capacity was 157, set by a fire marshall. There was a minimum donation of $2,700.   She stood and chatted with people in an orderly reception line for a little over an hour, then moved directly to a dais where she spoke extemporaneously for another hour.

She looked vigorous.   She didn't look tired in the least, standing for 2 hours and 15 minutes.  She wore flat shoes.  I had worried that she was looking haggard in some of her Secretary of State photos.   She never sat, not for a moment.

The event raised some $500,000, and it was the second of three events for the day.   Her jet flew her from Salt Lake City for a brunch reception, to this afternoon reception, and then on to Atherton, California, the Mother Lode of tech money.

She said all the right things for this audience:   support for Planned Parenthood, support for the Iran agreement, support for early childhood education, support for reversing the mass incarceration policy of the drug war, support for empowering the middle class, a higher minimum wage

I was struck by what she did not say:  actual firm policy regarding breaking up break up the big banks, Keystone Pipeline, free trade TransPacific Partnership.   She spoke generally and did not make waves or enemies within a Democratic donor class crowd.   I am in that crowd.  I was comfortable.  I was delighted by the chitchat while we had our photos taken.

But it was prose, not poetry.   There was a template of good things, but it wasn't set to music.   It pleased my good mature judgement.   But I want my heart to beat fast with real excitement.  I wanted some vision of some sort of better improved world.  I wanted something uplifting to be said, but it wasn't, at least not yet.  Maybe someone can write her a speech, something that soars about the possibilities of some better world, not just another decade of the current grind.

I want transformation, and Obama offered it.   But the world didn't transform.   Hillary offers an experienced competent warrior in a world of ugly endless political trench warfare.   The Democratic candidate will have a billion dollars spent on ads attacking her.    I was hoping for something better than a fight, but if that is what we are doomed to be in, then Hillary knows what to do in a fight.

Note a vigorous Hillary, toward the end of her talk.

Seeing what the camera doesn't show.

The big TV cameras show one version of political events, as they point at the candidate and scan the crowd.   But there is another view of these events, the view from the audience side, amid the jostling of the crowd, the comments people make to one another, the thrill or disappointment at the size of the audience, the security arrangements.  

And perhaps most important is whether the audience thinks they are seeing the next president and are full of hope and anticipation, or whether they are watching the political equivalent of a bull fight and the slow ritual death of a doomed animal, weakened by the little stabs of bad press, disappointing fundraising, and superior competition.

There are lots of candidates but only one desk at the oval office.   We are going to see a lot of slow deaths.   I want to see it up close.