It’s that little souvenir, of a terrible year

31 12 2016

This lyric has been trundling though my head the past few months. . .

I wonder why.

As for what comes next, well. No way out, but through.

Let’s hang on to each other in the meantime.





Who look at your face from more than one angle

29 12 2016

Short bit: alllla these pieces about the need to empathize with the whiteworkingclass?

How many by women? How many about women?

I really don’t know—there might be plenty—but I haven’t seen pundit pieces to this effect. Reporting, yes—Arlie Hochschild, Larissa MacFarquhar, Patricia Lockwood—but counsel to ‘Be nice’? Nope.

Instead, what I’ve seen has been white women calling out white women for voting for Trump. Samantha Bee, Jen Graves, the (mostly-but-not-only-white) women at Jezebel.

Yes, there are plenty of white liberals and leftists of all sexes willing to go after whites of all sexes for voting for or not caring they’re voting for whiteness-first, but the genre of sympathy-for-the-WWC seems to be written largely by and about white men.

Nope, don’t know what this means, but I bet it means something.

~~~

h/t Emily Nussbaum, who’s been relentless in pointing out on Twitter how few analyses of Trump’s win/Clinton’s loss takes sex seriously, and Marcus H. Johnson, Oliver Willis, Jamelle Bouie, Jamilah Lemieux, and many, many others who’ve highlighted how simple-minded so many of the ‘be kind’ pieces are.





Nimble fingers that dance on numbers

27 12 2016

Alllla’ these motherfuckers bleating about the white working class, white men, working men, poor poor real white American working class men: shut up, shut the fuck up.

I’ve got nothing against white working class men—my dad was a white working class man! my brother! my brother-in-law! my neighbors and almost everyone I knew growing up! all white! almost all working class!—but I am sorely tried by all of these commentators telling ME that I need to be kinder, gentler, toward those poor poor real white American working class men.

It is fucking condescending.

I totally (well, maybe not totally, totally, but substantially?) understand why black people are tired of being told that they need to set aside their concerns for their own survival and focus on those PPRWAWCM; such counsel is white power in action.

But it’s also more than that: it’s a way for the non-working class white folks—men, let’s be honest, men—to demonstrate once again their superiority over every fuckin’ one.

Barack Obama was scalded for talk of bitter rural folks clinging to guns and religion and Hillary Clinton raked for drop-kicking some portion of the population into the basket of deplorables, but give some white dude a coupla’ column inches in the Times or Wall Street Journal and he’ll be lauded for his perspicacity in writing the exact same goddamned things.

Economic anxiety and fear and opioids and a disintegration of the American Dream and all are wrapped up in the soothing murmurs of I see, I see, as these pundits metaphorically pat their subjects on the head and assure them that It’s completely understandable they would feel this way.

Such horseshit.

This is, in the words of former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson, the soft bigotry of low expectations.

Y’know all those working class men I mentioned, above? They weren’t all racists. My parents, with their high school educations, somehow managed to teach all three of their children that racism was bad, that it was bad to be racist.

Were/are my parents prejudiced? Sure. But they didn’t and don’t think that indulging that prejudice was anything that decent people did.

They didn’t expect any of us to be perfect, but they did expect us to be better.





And the bells were ringing out

25 12 2016

Bit late, yes, and not even a bit original, but the bitter-sweet is just right:

Happy merry peaceful.





We got computer

21 12 2016

So I’ll be collecting all of the sources and resources I’ve mentioned in these various ‘Life during wartime’ posts on the—hm, what should I call it? I KNOW—Life during wartime page.

Please do add any suggestions in the page’s comments (which I just enabled).

In the meantime, let’s listen to this series’s musical inspiration:

~~~

As I’ve said, I have no idea what’s going to happen next. The possibilities range from ordinary Republican (bad enough) to Oh holy hell-shit-fuck! and everywhere in between—and, honestly, given how little I now realize I know, anywhere outside of that range as well.

I tend toward thinking it won’t get as bad as it could possibly be (fascist takeover, nuclear war), but given that either of these are a rather plumper non-zero possibility than I, well, I would have thought possible two months ago, I have to keep them in sight—even if only out of the corner of my eye.

Reading about Weimar leads me (as I’ve banged on about repeatedly) to believe that we’re not Weimar, that the Liberal elements of our political culture are stronger and our democratic institutions sturdier than those German republicans were ever able to enjoy. And while we are a violent society, our levels of specifically political violence is, compared to Weimar, low.

But we are polarized, and a good chunk of our society—the economic sector—can’t be counted on as bulwark against authoritarianism: if they can make money off of this administration, they won’t oppose it.

Nor can we count on certain cultural institutions to take a stand in defense of Liberalism and pluralism.  It’s not at all clear that the news media will defend itself against attacks on it or on its reporters; a “scrupulous neutrality” may end up being more neutered than scrupled.

And Google, which used to think not being evil was important, refuses to adjust its algorithms regarding Holocaust denial (which has led to a campaign to fuck with that algorithm to drive the denial off the front page) and a search for “oven definition” offers this as the first item:

oven-googleYes, “a cremation chamber in a Nazi concentration camp.” Excellent, excellent. Right up there with Twitter reinstating the neo-Nazi Richard Spenser’s account,  or A&E’s planned series on the KKK.

And we on the left aren’t doing ourselves any favors with our sniping at those nearest to us rather than aiming our fire at the other side. I’m not against criticism (Santa Maria, I am not against criticism), but I’m seeing too much of the I WAS RIGHT/YOU SHUT UP variety and not enough of the What worked, what didn’t?

As Mark Twain is popularly attributed as saying, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

I don’t trust anyone who knows for sure why we lost, not least because I used to know for sure that Donald Trump would never be president. The sting to my ego, however, is nothing compared to damage to come—damage which will be even greater if we fight each other rather than the forces which threaten us all.





All things weird and wonderful, 55

18 12 2016

Beauty at work:

 

Photo by Roman Roebreck

Photo by Roman Robroek, Via

If we must labor for a living, we should be able, occasionally, to look up, look around, and wonder.





This ain’t no fooling around

17 12 2016

Militance does not require violence.

Stand up.

Don’t back down.





Devil was my angel

12 12 2016

Half-listening to Beth Orton and this song comes on so I stop and listen full:

This is the song I listened to as I decided to save my own life, lo those many years ago.





Can’t write a letter, can’t send a postcard

8 12 2016

I’m still (mostly) avoiding articles on that One weird trick! which won Trump/cost Clinton the election, mostly because I don’t trust anyone right now who is confident in her conclusions.

As I mentioned in my original election post-mortem, I think there are a number of variables which factored into Trump’s win and Clinton’s loss, and that the particular ordering of those variables likely shifted from state to state. Further, given that information is still coming in—any bets on what will ultimately be Clinton’s popular-vote lead over Der Donald?—we don’t even have all the pieces to begin trying to assemble these puzzles.

What can be done, however, is analysis of each of those pieces: how much did Clinton’s sex matter? what was the role of economic anxiety in voting? what is ‘economic anxiety’? etc.

And, of course, what was the role of the media? Well, that may only be theorized, never truly known, but one can at least look at the coverage, it’s shape and tone—which is exactly what the Shorenstein Center did.

This is only one study, of course, but it highlights the role of the negative in press coverage:

Negative coverage was the order of the day in the general election. Not a week passed where the nominees’ coverage reached into positive territory. It peaked at 81 percent negative in mid-October, but there was not a single week where it dropped below 64 percent negative.

Even those numbers understate the level of negativity. Much of the candidates’ “good press” was in the context of the horserace—who is winning and who is losing and why.

Negativity in and of itself isn’t a bad thing, but

The mainstream press highlights what’s wrong with politics without also telling us what’s right.

It’s a version of politics that rewards a particular brand of politics. When everything and everybody is portrayed as deeply flawed, there’s no sense making distinctions on that score, which works to the advantage of those who are more deeply flawed. Civility and sound proposals are no longer the stuff of headlines, which instead give voice to those who are skilled in the art of destruction. The car wreck that was the 2016 election had many drivers. Journalists were not alone in the car, but their fingerprints were all over the wheel.

There’s a lot more at the link—a lot more—so g’head and read it all.

Media folk will have to figure out for themselves what, if any, professional standards they wish to uphold in their campaign coverage, but it’s also damned clear that candidates must prepare themselves for another worst- (or even worst-er-) case scenario in plotting their own messaging strategies and tactics.

I have precisely zero advice on what those strategies and tactics should look like. Trump received a great deal of negative coverage, which (apparently?) didn’t hurt him; Clinton was also covered negatively, and it (apparently?) did hurt her.

Man, it’s tough even to figure out the affects of the coverage: how much did it really matter in any direction? I tend to agree with Rick Perlstein that it sure as hell didn’t help, but beyond that? Dunno, and dunno if anyone does know: I’m guessing there will be all kinds of regressions run over the next few years to try to tease out some kind of answer.

In the meantime, it might be worthwhile for current and would-be Democratic politicians to start dry-running different tactics right now to try to determine what works vis-à-vis the media—and if nothing works, what then.

Because they—we—have to be prepared. Even if it only matters on the margins, well, elections are won and lost on those margins.





I got three passports

7 12 2016

I live in a blue neighborhood in a blue city in a blue state: this has been an excuse for not acting politically.

Hey, I don’t have to do anything, my rep’s gonna vote right, my senators’ll vote (mostly) right.

But that ain’t right, and I need to step up. I’ve written one letter to each, and need to write or call regularly to say Hold the line! And with the mayor and my city council member, too.

Still, there’s more that could be done, especially when it’s important to hang the Trump anchor around and drag each and every Republican in the House and Senate. So I’m going to adopt a red district.

I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin, so I’ve decided to adopt James Sensenbrenner and, by extension, Ron Johnson. Johnson just won re-election and Sensenbrenner has held his seat forever, but what the hell: why not spend some time tracking each and every thing these fuckers do, then coordinate with some Badger Democrats? Besides, Tammy Baldwin is up for re-election in 2018, so I’ll see what I can do for her campaign. (Oh, and whoever runs against Scott Walker? You betchyer ass I’ll be all over that.)

Or, y’know, maybe coordinate with some Badger Democrats, first, and go from there.

I’m not much for marching, anymore, and I don’t need to track the media—there are enough media people tracking the media—so why not do something I can do? Research, hunting down and collating information, maybe a little analysis.

Is this something you, similarly surrounded in blue, can do? Try it! Pick a place at random! Pick a place where you once had a pleasing interaction with a waitress at a roadside diner! Pick the place of your first kiss or last kiss or where you think would be a good kissing place! Pick a town whose name you love saying out loud and figure out who represents it!

Then contact the local Dems and say Hi, I love the sound of your town and have some skills and would like to help you elect Democrats, what can I do?

Or maybe you’re shy and not sure you can call out of the blue, so do some work and publish it to social media or maybe send an abashed email saying Hi, I love the sound of your town and have some skills so here’s some work I did that I thought might help you elect Democrats.

You can contact state offices or if you’ve picked a place, find out the city or county party (I’ll be hitting up the Sheboygan County Dems).

Now, one of the things I’ll be doing is looking at similarly situated districts, see which ones are repped by Dems, then look at how that person won. I’ll dig into historic voting data, demographic data, census—the whole megillah.

It’ll also be worth looking at what Dems did in Nevada and North Carolina: Clinton beat Trump in Nevada and the Dems took the governorship from a Walker-level guv in NC, so there’s probably something to be learned from each.

Okay, I’m being a bit scattered, here: I’m neither an Americanist nor a statistician and I don’t quite know what are the best places to find this info. The Cook Political Report seems a good place to start, and I’ll poke around the US Census site; county-level date presidential election data is available in chart form here (click on “Detailed Results”) and as in an interactive map here. I’ll also be (re-) reading Jameson Quinn’s work with Center for Election Science (the first dispatch published here) for some guidance on how to make sense of the stats.

It’s a start, and while I might not know what I’m doing right now, I think I’ll get the hang of it as I go along. I’ll keep you posted—and hey, if you’re doing something like this or something not at all like this, lemme know!