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robertogreco : election   8

Pookleblinky on Twitter: "1. Assemble a corpus of a person's utterances. 2. Compute their redundancy. 3. Now you know whether to ignore them or not"
"1. Assemble a corpus of a person's utterances.

2. Compute their redundancy.

3. Now you know whether to ignore them or not

That quote about Eichmann being an unthinking finite state automaton, endlessly regurgitating the same words.

Consider the role of redundancy in political discourse. You could summarily ignore as worthless any convo with asymmetric entropy between

Theory: actually rational debate, which has never been observed, can only occur between parties with similar entropy levels.

If person A and Person B both say things that are about equally unpredictable, they can claim to be debating.

Granted, neither will actually change either other's minds, because that has never once happened. But, they'll think it was pleasant.

Vary the entropy a bit, make one person a bit more compressible than the other, and there's no chance of a debate occurring.

Person A uses a vocabulary of 20,000 words and varied sentence structures. Person B pseudorandomly utters one of 6 catchphrases

Entropy asymmetry makes debate impossible. Thus, a good strategy if your goal is to avoid debate.

Either make yourself incompressible, and maximize the spider nipples randomness of your utterances, or make america great again

Both sesquipedian polysyllabicism and semiliterate howls serve the same strategy of rendering argument impossible.

On one side: the bitter graduate student. On the other, the foxnews chyron voter

Obviously, if you want to gain power, it's much much easier to aim for the latter than the former. Books are expensive.

If your strategy is to acquire followers who cannot be debated, increasing their compressibility is in every way a cheaper option

You want to be more Eichmann than Chomsky. More Git R Done than dialectical materialism.

Theory: every fascist movement looks similar, partly because all of them have found the same cheapest solution to the engineering problem.

That solution will appear different in superficial ways, but will always tend toward the same trend: redundancy and low-entropy

Suppose the average reading level in a nation is that of a 13 year old. Reduce your followers to a 10 year old's levels, and voila.

What's interesting is that you can do this even to people who are highly educated. Cf. Normal cults.

Education is not at all a solution to this. It's ahistoric to suggest highly-educated people can't parrot phrases while commiting evil.

Feynman, a horrible person but a great teacher, used to recount how students would not connect two fields of knowledge.

They'd know about indices of refraction, and parrot the equations on demand. But couldn't explain a spoon in a glass of water with them.

They'd effortlessly recite laws of thermodynamics, but be incapable of connecting that knowledge to anything else.

One of the big problems teachers have, is that students automatically compartmentalize. Consilience is hard.

The natural tendency is to not connect fields of knowledge, forcing students to piece things together is what takes hard work.

Historically, you can't stop atrocity by hoping that education is a solution.

All you end up with are people who can write papers on physiology, while freezing prisoners in 55 gallon drums.

People who can cite the great philosophers of history, while getting riled up hours later by the same 5 phrases shouted at them."
pooklebinky  via:jessicaferris  2016  election  donaldtrump  entropy  debate  richarfeynman  cults  education  language  communication  adolfeichmann  noamchomsky  redundancy  dialecticalmaterialism 
march 2017 by robertogreco
The Spiritual Crisis of the Modern Economy - The Atlantic
"The main source of meaning in American life is a meritocratic competition that makes those who struggle feel inferior."

"What is happening to America’s white working class?

The group’s important, and perhaps decisive, role in this year’s presidential election sparked a slew of commentary focused on, on the one hand, its nativism, racism, and sexism, and, on the other, its various economic woes. While there are no simple explanations for the desperation and anger visible in many predominantly white working-class communities, perhaps the most astute and original diagnosis came from the rabbi and activist Michael Lerner, who, in assessing Donald Trump’s victory, looked from a broader vantage point than most. Underneath the populist ire, he wrote, was a suffering “rooted in the hidden injuries of class and in the spiritual crisis that the global competitive marketplace generates.”

That cuts right to it. The modern economy privileges the well-educated and highly-skilled, while giving them an excuse to denigrate the people at the bottom (both white and nonwhite) as lazy, untalented, uneducated, and unsophisticated. In a society focused on meritocratic, materialistic success, many well-off Americans from across the political spectrum scorn the white working class in particular for holding onto religious superstitions and politically incorrect views, and pity them for working lousy jobs at dollar stores and fast-food restaurants that the better-off rarely set foot in. And when other sources of meaning are hard to come by, those who struggle in the modern economy can lose their sense of self-worth.

This system of categorizing Americans—the logical extension of life in what can be called an extreme meritocracy—can be pernicious: The culture holds up those who succeed as examples, however anecdotal, that everyone can make it in America. Meanwhile, those who fail attract disdain and indifference from the better-off, their low status all the more painful because it is regarded as deserved. As research has shown, well-educated white-collar workers also sink into despair if they cannot find a new job, but among the working class, the shame of low status afflicts not just the unemployed, but also the underemployed. Their days are no longer filled with the dignified, if exhausting, work of making real things. Rather, the economy requires—as a white former factory worker I talked to described it—“throwing on a goofy hat,” dealing with surly customers who are themselves just scraping by, and enduring a precarious working life of arbitrary rules and dead-end prospects.

And the work people do (or don’t do) affects their self-esteem. When I was talking to laid-off autoworkers in Michigan for my book about long-term unemployment, I met a black man in Detroit who told me his job at the plant had helped heal a wound—one going back to his parents’ choice, when he was a baby, to abandon him. (As is standard in sociological research, my interviewees were promised confidentiality.) “My job was like my mother and father to me,” he said. “It’s all I had, you know?” Then the plant shut down. Now in his 50s, he was back on the job market, scrambling for one of the few good jobs left for someone without a college degree. In his moments of weakness, he berated himself. He should have prepared more. He should have gotten an education. “It’s all my fault,” he said—the company was just doing what made business sense.

For less educated workers (of all races) who have struggled for months or years to get another job, failure is a source of deep shame and a reason for self-blame. Without the right markers of merit—a diploma, marketable skills, a good job—they are “scrubs” who don’t deserve romantic partners, “takers” living parasitically off the government, “losers” who won’t amount to anything. Even those who consider themselves lucky to have jobs can feel a sense of despair, seeing how poorly they stand relative to others, or how much their communities have unraveled, or how dim their children’s future seems to be: Research shows that people judge how well they’re doing through constant comparisons, and by these personal metrics they are hurting, whatever the national unemployment rate may be.

When faced with these circumstances, members of the working class often turn inward. I witnessed this coping mechanism among the workers I got to know in Michigan. One of them, a white former autoworker, lost her home and had to move to a crime-infested neighborhood, where she had a front-row view of the nightly drug deals and fistfights. “I just am not used to that anymore,” said the woman, who grew up in poverty. “I want out of here so bad.” Interestingly, she dismissed any sort of collective solution to the economic misery that she and others like her now confront. For instance, she had no kind words to say about the union at her old plant, which she blamed for protecting lousy workers. She was also outraged by what she called the “black favoritism” at her Detroit plant, whose union leadership included many African Americans.

This go-it-alone mentality works against the ways that, historically, workers have improved their lot. It encourages workers to see unions and government as flawed institutions that coddle the undeserving, rather than as useful, if imperfect, means of raising the relative prospects of all workers. It also makes it more likely that white workers will direct their frustration toward racial and ethnic minorities, economic scapegoats who are dismissed as freeloaders unworthy of help—in a recent survey, 64 percent of Trump voters (not all of whom, of course, are part of the white working class) agreed that “average Americans” had gotten less than they deserved, but this figure dropped to 12 percent when that phrase was replaced with “blacks.” (Among Clinton voters, the figure stayed steady at 57 percent for both phrases.) This is one reason that enacting good policies is, while important, not enough to address economic inequality. What’s needed as well is a broader revision of a culture that makes those who struggle feel like losers.

One explanation for why so many come to that conclusion in the first place has to do with the widening of the gulf between America’s coasts and the region in between them. Cities that can entice well-educated professionals are booming, even as “flyover” communities have largely seen good-paying factory work automated or shipped overseas, replaced to a large extent with insecure jobs: Walmart greeters, independent-contractor truck drivers, and the like. It is easy to see why white voters from hard-hit rural areas and hollowed-out industrial towns have turned away from a Democratic Party that has offered them little in the way of hope and inspiration and much in the way of disdain and blame.

It should here be emphasized that misogyny, racism, and xenophobia played a major role in the election, helping whip up more support for Trump—as well as suppress support for Clinton—among the white working class. To be sure, those traits are well represented among other groups, however savvier they are about not admitting it to journalists and pollsters (or to themselves). But the white working class that emerged in the 19th century—stitched together from long-combative European ethnic groups—strived to set themselves apart from African Americans, Chinese, and other vilified “indispensable enemies,” and build, by contrast (at least in their view), a sense of workingman pride. Even if it’s unfair to wholly dismiss the white working class’s cultural politics as reactionary and bigoted, this last election was a reminder that white male resentment of “nasty” women and “uppity” racial and other minorities remains strong.

That said, many Americans with more stable, better-paid jobs have blind spots of their own. For all of their professed open-mindedness in other areas, millions of the well-educated and well-off who live in or near big cities tend to endorse the notion, explicitly or implicitly, that education determines a person’s value. More so than in other rich nations, like Germany and Japan, which have prioritized vocational training to a greater degree, a college degree has become the true mark of individual success in America—the sort of white-picket-fence fantasy that drives people well into their elder years to head back to school. But such a fervent belief in the transformative power of education also implies that a lack of it amounts to personal failure—being a “stupid” person, as one of the white Michigan workers I talked to put it. In today’s labor market, it is no longer enough to work hard, another worker, who was black, told me: “It used to be you come up and say, ‘Okay, I’ve got a strong back,’ and all that,” but nowadays a “strong back don’t mean shit. You gotta have dedication and you’ve gotta have some kind of smartness, or something.”

"One possible answer to the question Harrington posed about how to ease his own generation’s populist rage is the notion of grace—a stance that puts forward values that go beyond the “negatives” of the narrow secular creed and connect with individuals of diverse political viewpoints, including those hungry for more in the way of meaning than the meritocratic race affords. It moves people past the hectoring that so alienates the white working class—and, to be sure, other groups as well—who would otherwise benefit from policies that favor greater equality and opportunity.

The concept of grace comes from the Christian teaching that everyone, not just the deserving, is saved by God’s grace. Grace in the broader sense that I (an agnostic) am using, however, can be both secular and religious. In the simplest terms, it is about refusing to divide the world into camps of deserving and undeserving, as those on both the right and left are wont to do. It rejects an … [more]
victortanchen  meritocracy  2016  election  donaldtrump  capitalism  self-esteem  labor  work  culture  society  economics  losers  class  elitism  workingclass  hierarchy  richardsennett  jonathancobb  inequality  education  politics  competition  unions  status  grace  wealth  populism 
january 2017 by robertogreco
How Social Justice Ideology Gave Us Donald Trump | Alastair's Adversaria
"The troubling thing is the frequent unwillingness to attempt to believe better of their fellow Americans, to explore the possibility that perhaps many Trump voters are intelligent, well-meaning, and, yes, fearful people just like themselves, people who are actually opposed to misogyny and racism and only voted for Trump because they believed there was no other choice."

"Being assured that you are a victim of evil social forces, hateful individuals, and dark structural processes conspiring against your success can be a comforting belief when the alternative is to admit the possibility of a natural reality or a broadly unavoidable social reality that doesn’t function according to our egalitarian prejudices."

" Challenges to the narratives are perceived to be an attack upon the people who take refuge in them.

These narratives identify a great many genuine social wrongs, but they consistently overplay their hand, in a ‘motte and bailey’ doctrine fashion. Unfortunately, when they have assumed a sort of sacred status, one cannot challenge the overplaying of the concepts without being presumed to dismiss the genuine wrongs they identify. The cancerous theories that result can grow unchecked by healthy critical processes and steadily metastasize until they destroy their host institutions.

The result of all of this, unfortunately, is an adherence to a comforting ideological script at the expense of charitable engagement in an open public square."

"When ideological security requires protection from the cognitive dissonance of recognizing, or at least being open to, valid points in opposing arguments, or to the goodness of our critics, politics will rapidly devolve into condemnatory shouting matches. Prevailing social justice ideology is great for virtue signalling for the purpose of in-group membership among progressive liberals. It is useless and, indeed, entirely counterproductive when it comes to the tasks of persuasion or understanding."

"While they flatter themselves that they are compassionate and open—they are standing for love!—their vicious vengefulness and hostility towards people, or the way that they sacrifice even the closest relationships on the altar of political and ideological differences, is truly terrifying. The other side isn’t just driven by different yet valid group concerns, or well-meaning but mistaken, or even compromised yet open to moral suasion. No, for so many they are evil and beyond redemption, a group that cannot be won over by reason, service, or love but can only be eradicated."

"Reading liberal progressives’ own words, one can see that many of them have undiluted hatred for these demographics and just want them to perish. They complain about Trump’s statements about immigrants, but one wonders whether they listen to themselves talk about Midwesterners."

"It is clear to many Trump voters that liberals don’t just disagree with them, but truly hate them for who they are."

"That social justice ideology systematically provides cover for such venomous hatred is part of the problem (‘And let go of the illusion that ANYBODY but white people—particularly white males—gave this election to Trump. White men are scum.’). The fact that this hatred often comes from the more privileged people educationally and socially and is directed at those with a much lower socio-economic status merely makes it all the more reprehensible. Until the ideology that permits such hatred is uprooted, the progressive left will lack both the power to persuade and moral credibility."

"White men (well, apart from the enlightened college-educated progressive men who support social justice ideology) have repeatedly been told that they are everything that is wrong with the world. The same is true of evangelicals as a group. They must assume a crippling guilt and much vanish into cultural dhimmitude until demographic changes eliminate them from American society. As they represent evil, no allowances must be made for them, no quarter must be given to them. They must be eradicated."

"The social justice narrative calls for white people, and men in particular, to assume a crippling guilt, to be the scapegoats for America. Trump’s movement is exactly the sort of resistance that such a narrative will provoke."

"As Michael Story has observed, the progressive left so radically overused the necessary antibiotics of shame and guilt that they produced a shame and guilt resistant candidate and movement. When people appreciate that guilt and shame have been weaponized to force them into cultural dhimmitude, they will start to celebrate shamelessness and guilt-freeness.

As the progressive left constantly demonized their intersecting demographics, non-college educated white Christian men became more assertive about their identity and communities. As their hastening demographic collapse was celebrated on the progressive left, they became more open in celebrating their identities and communities and in reasserting the importance of their immense historical stake in the nation. In some quarters they started to exhibit the patterns of polarized identity politics voting. If every other demographic will play identity politics, why shouldn’t they do so too? And because they are such a big demographic, this is very bad news for the left."

"Repeatedly, when Clinton faced challenges or questions, the gender card was played by her supporters, as if the prospective holder of the most powerful office in the world merited gentler treatment by her critics. I am sure that many in the nation envisaged four long years of interminable feminist hot takes, by which Clinton’s sex would always be treated as if it were the most important thing about her. Voting for Clinton was a vote for a particular brand of identity politics and yesterday millions across America said ‘no, thanks’. Reading the pieces that followed America’s decision, I am sure that I am not along in feeling, on this front at least, considerable gratitude."

"The sheer scale of progressive liberals’ insulation from the rest of the country is remarkable. Not only do they not understand it: they have virtually no relationship with it. Once again, progressive liberal bien pensants on Twitter have been made to look like fools, completely out of touch with public opinion. The journalists, the comedians, the pundits, the pollsters (with a few exceptions) all now look ridiculous. They really do not have a clue and we should ask why we are still listening to them."

"After years of their crying wolf about various candidates, one isn’t surprised the public ignores them."

"From what I have seen, the people who best predicted the election were generally people who were attentive to human nature and psychology and the values that drive us, the dynamics of human societies and cultures, the qualitative differences between particular demographics, etc., rather than people operating with liberalism’s skeletal anthropology. A number of the people in question, people like Steve Sailer, for instance, are pariahs of the establishment, condemned for noticing things that one is not supposed to notice. Their analysis was primarily qualitative, rather than quantitative. Liberalism’s anthropology needs to be identified as a deep part of the problem here."

"People want to be part of something greater than themselves and desire meaning in their lives. Sadly, the study of these sorts of things is increasingly taboo within the social justice order."

"The progressive liberal social vision has taken aim against the politics of local attachments and championed ever-increasing diversity. It has operated on the assumption that human populations and persons are interchangeable. It has operated on the assumption that economics is the most determinative consideration for human action and values."
politics  election  2016  donaldtrump  alastair  via:ayjay  discourse  liberalism  left  ideology  socialjustice  identitypolitics  hate  division 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Flight or Fight - The Baffler
"There is a certain segment of the political left in America that believes if they vote the right way and hold the “correct” opinions and use politically correct language, then they are doing their part for the greater good. Unfortunately, it is a large segment. While the elites fight over issues of identity politics and representation, the other-than-elites are so often left to look on and fend for themselves.

Even if Hillary Clinton wins this election, our country’s problems—things like economic inequality, hunger, inadequate access to health care, homelessness, an ineffective and violent police culture, mass shootings, and the unchanneled energy of apathetic and angry young men—will not go away overnight. Nor are they likely to be solved through governmental action when we have such a polarized, obstinate Congress.

The way we make our country better is by participating in our country. When Americans, whether they be celebrities or dinner-party jabberers, threaten to move to Canada if things don’t go their way, they reveal their sullen bad faith: they pretend that while their country has some sort of obligation to them, they have no obligation to their country.

We can learn a lot from our activist brothers and sisters overseas. The first lesson is how important it is that we stay. And fight."
activism  anarchism  dissent  civics  election  2016  jessacrispin  democracy  politics  sfsh 
october 2016 by robertogreco
Understanding Trump « George Lakoff
"Unconscious thought works by certain basic mechanisms. Trump uses them instinctively to turn people’s brains toward what he wants: Absolute authority, money, power, celebrity.

The mechanisms are:

1. Repetition. Words are neurally linked to the circuits the determine their meaning. The more a word is heard, the more the circuit is activated and the stronger it gets, and so the easier it is to fire again. Trump repeats. Win. Win, Win. We’re gonna win so much you’ll get tired of winning.

2. Framing: Crooked Hillary. Framing Hillary as purposely and knowingly committing crimes for her own benefit, which is what a crook does. Repeating makes many people unconsciously think of her that way, even though she has been found to have been honest and legal by thorough studies by the right-wing Bengazi committee (which found nothing) and the FBI (which found nothing to charge her with, except missing the mark ‘(C)’ in the body of 3 out of 110,000 emails). Yet the framing is working.

There is a common metaphor that Immorality Is Illegality, and that acting against Strict Father Morality (the only kind off morality recognized) is being immoral. Since virtually everything Hillary Clinton has ever done has violated Strict Father Morality, that makes her immoral. The metaphor thus makes her actions immoral, and hence she is a crook. The chant “Lock her up!” activates this whole line of reasoning.

3. Well-known examples: When a well-publicized disaster happens, the coverage activates the framing of it over and over, strengthening it, and increasing the probability that the framing will occur easily with high probability. Repeating examples of shootings by Muslims, African-Americans, and Latinos raises fears that it could happen to you and your community — despite the miniscule actual probability. Trump uses this to create fear. Fear tends to activate desire for a strong strict father — namely, Trump.

4. Grammar: Radical Islamic terrorists: “Radical” puts Muslims on a linear scale and “terrorists” imposes a frame on the scale, suggesting that terrorism is built into the religion itself. The grammar suggests that there is something about Islam that has terrorism inherent in it. Imagine calling the Charleston gunman a “radical Republican terrorist.”

Trump is aware of this to at least some extent. As he said to Tony Schwartz, the ghost-writer who wrote The Art of the Deal for him, “I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration — and it’s a very effective form of promotion.”

5. Conventional metaphorical thought is inherent in our largely unconscious thought. Such normal modes of metaphorical thinking that are not noticed as such.

Consider Brexit, which used the metaphor of “entering” and “leaving” the EU. There is a universal metaphor that states are locations in space: you can enter a state, be deep in some state, and come out that state. If you enter a café and then leave the café , you will be in the same location as before you entered. But that need not be true of states of being. But that was the metaphor used with Brexit; Britons believed that after leaving the EU, things would be as before when the entered the EU. They were wrong. Things changed radically while they were in the EU. That same metaphor is being used by Trump: Make America Great Again. Make America Safe Again. And so on. As if there was some past ideal state that we can go back to just by electing Trump.

6. There is also a metaphor that A Country Is a Person and a metonymy of the President Standing For the Country. Thus, Obama, via both metaphor and metonymy, can stand conceptually for America. Therefore, by saying that Obama is weak and not respected, it is communicated that America, with Obama as president, is weak and disrespected. The inference is that it is because of Obama.

7. The country as person metaphor and the metaphor that war or conflict between countries is a fistfight between people, leads to the inference that just having a strong president will guarantee that America will win conflicts and wars. Trump will just throw knockout punches. In his acceptance speech at the convention, Trump repeatedly said that he would accomplish things that can only be done by the people acting with their government. After one such statement, there was a chant from the floor, “He will do it.”

8. The metaphor that The nation Is a Family was used throughout the GOP convention. We heard that strong military sons are produced by strong military fathers and that “defense of country is a family affair.” From Trump’s love of family and commitment to their success, we are to conclude that, as president he will love America’s citizens and be committed to the success of all.

9. There is a common metaphor that Identifying with your family’s national heritage makes you a member of that nationality. Suppose your grandparents came from Italy and you identify with your Italian ancestors, you may proudly state that you are Italian. The metaphor is natural. Literally, you have been American for two generations. Trump made use of this commonplace metaphor in attacking US District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is American, born and raised in the United States. Trump said he was a Mexican, and therefore would hate him and tend to rule against him in a case brought against Trump University for fraud.

10. Then there is the metaphor system used in the phrase “to call someone out.” First the word “out.” There is a general metaphor that Knowing Is Seeing as in “I see what you mean.” Things that are hidden inside something cannot be seen and hence not known, while things are not hidden but out in public can be seen and hence known. To “out” someone is to made their private knowledge public. To “call someone out” is to publicly name someone’s hidden misdeeds, thus allowing for public knowledge and appropriate consequences."

"How Can Democrats Do Better?

First, don’t think of an elephant. Remember not to repeat false conservative claims and then rebut them with the facts. Instead, go positive. Give a positive truthful framing to undermine claims to the contrary. Use the facts to support positively-framed truth. Use repetition.

Second, start with values, not policies and facts and numbers. Say what you believe, but haven’t been saying. For example, progressive thought is built on empathy, on citizens caring about other citizens and working through our government to provide public resources for all, both businesses and individuals. Use history. That’s how America started. The public resources used by businesses were not only roads and bridges, but public education, a national bank, a patent office, courts for business cases, interstate commerce support, and of course the criminal justice system. From the beginning, the Private Depended on Public Resources, both private lives and private enterprise.

Over time those resources have included sewers, water and electricity, research universities and research support: computer science (via the NSF), the internet (ARPA), pharmaceuticals and modern medicine (the NIH), satellite communication (NASA and NOA), and GPS systems and cell phones (the Defense Department). Private enterprise and private life utterly depend on public resources. Have you ever said this? Elizabeth Warren has. Almost no other public figures. And stop defending “the government.” Talk about the public, the people, Americans, the American people, public servants, and good government. And take back freedom. Public resources provide for freedom in private enterprise and private life.

The conservatives are committed to privatizing just about everything and to eliminating funding for most public resources. The contribution of public resources to our freedoms cannot be overstated. Start saying it.

And don’t forget the police. Effective respectful policing is a public resource. Chief David O. Brown of the Dallas Police got it right. Training, community policing, knowing the people you protect. And don’t ask too much of the police: citizens have a responsibility to provide funding so that police don’t have to do jobs that should be done by others.

Unions need to go on the offensive. Unions are instruments of freedom — freedom from corporate servitude. Employers call themselves job creators. Working people are profit creators for the employers, and as such they deserve a fair share of the profits and respect and acknowledgement. Say it. Can the public create jobs. Of course. Fixing infrastructure will create jobs by providing more public resources that private lives and businesses depend on. Public resources to create more public resources. Freedom creates opportunity that creates more freedom.

Third, keep out of nasty exchanges and attacks. Keep out of shouting matches. One can speak powerfully without shouting. Obama sets the pace: Civility, values, positivity, good humor, and real empathy are powerful. Calmness and empathy in the face of fury are powerful. Bill Clinton won because he oozed empathy, with his voice, his eye contact, and his body. It wasn’t his superb ability as a policy wonk, but the empathy he projected and inspired.

Values come first, facts and policies follow in the service of values. They matter, but they always support values.

Give up identity politics. No more women’s issues, black issues, Latino issues. Their issues are all real, and need public discussion. But they all fall under freedom issues, human issues. And address poor whites! Appalachian and rust belt whites deserve your attention as much as anyone else. Don’t surrender their fate to Trump, who will just increase their suffering.

And remember JFK’s immortal, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Empathy, devotion, love, pride in our country’s values, public resources to create freedoms. And adulthood.

Be prepared. You have to understand Trump … [more]
georgelakoff  donaldtrump  2016  conservatives  markets  systems  systemsthinking  hierarchy  morality  puritanism  election  hillaryclinton  cognition  psychology  evangelicals  freemarkets  capitalism  pragmatism  patriarchy  progressivism  directcausation  systemiccausation  thinking  politicalcorrectness  identitypolitics  politics  policy  us  biconceptuals  brain  howwethink  marketing  metaphor  elections  dallas  dallaspolice  policing  lawenforcement  unions  organizing  organization  billclinton  empathy  campaigning  repetition  democrats 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Hillary Clinton’s War Abroad Will Come Home Soon Enough « Samir Chopra
"Perhaps the most crucial sentence in the excerpt is the opener. For there, Clinton makes quite clear that no matter what we learn about the actual motivations of the killer, her focus on ISIS will not waver. That is where the easier action lies; that calls for saber-rattling and bombing, all the better to unify a nation with (the one doing the bombing, not the one getting bombed, as Libyans and Iraqis will testify.) In the next four sentences, the rhetoric is ratcheted up with ‘genocide,’ ‘medieval,’ ‘slaughtering,’ ‘beheading,’ ‘executing,’ ‘torturing,’ ‘raping,’ and ‘enslaving.’ The following four sentences showcase a segue into aggressive plans for action, which are curiously and ironically informed by a sense of futility: the threat of ISIS “cannot” be contained; it requires–implicitly–a fight to the death. (Which as we all know, often tend to take down more than just the protagonists in the battle.) And then, finally, to wrap up, there is the nod to a global battle–waged on distant lands, from air, naturally, the American way, while hopefully, ‘allies’ sacrifice their foot soldiers to the maws of war.

There is no mention of homophobia, guns, masculinity, cultures of violence; there is no mention of domestic pathology. There is a problem; and here is a bomb that will fix it. Somewhere else. Never here. But those bombs will find their way back here soon enough; in the persistence of states of war and the bolstering of the military-industrial complex, in depleted budgets for social programs and infrastructure and public education–wars cost money after all, in the militarization of police–as military weapons end up in police departments to be used against protesters in inner cities, in the criminalization of dissent, in the crackdown on whistle blowers and the increasing pervasiveness of surveillance–because wars require national unity and secrecy.

Wars are not just waged abroad."
hillaryclinton  isis  war  2016  agression  politics  policy  election  surveillance  psychology  us  foreignpolicy  violence  samirchopra 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Trump as a scam — Medium
"There are three consistent features to all of conservative talk radio: Anger, Trump, and ads targeting the financially desperate.

The ads are a constant. Ads protecting against coming financial crisis (Surprise! It is Gold.) or ads that start, “Having trouble with the IRS?”

The obvious lessons being 1) Lots of conservative talk radio listeners are in financial distress. 2) They are willing to turn to scams.

Turning to scams kind of generally follows being in financial distress. But why? Well, desperation, duh. Right, but again, why?

What desperation really is about is limited options. Think about the ultimate scam: Lotto tickets.

Lotto tickets are often called stupidity taxes by economists, implying that the buyers must be dumb.

But Lotto tickets are the only form of leverage poor folks can get. The only way, no matter how long the odds, to turn $1 into a million.

As I wrote before, Lotto buyers aren’t any dumber than anyone else.

[screenshot of text]

You just have to look at people’s financial decisions within the framework of their options.

To stretch a little bit. You can reframe Trump that way (as I often have): He is a scam, selling himself as the only option to the angry.

Which is exactly Trump’s history. Selling false and expensive illusions of wealth to those who are desperate. (Trump University!)

With recent revelations it is pretty clear that Trump, no matter what the result of the election, will financially benefit.

He initially ran with the goal of increasing his brand name. For money. (He saw Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee do exactly that)

When he started to win he realized,

A) It was profitable to run (skimming from campaign)

B) It would be very profitable to be president

He sees in the presidency amazing opportunities for graft and business connections. For him, for his friends and family.

Trump is in it for the money. (He looks at the Clintons. Not with disgust, but admiration for the wealth obtained.)

Trump fits perfectly on conservative talk radio because he is no different from the ads hawking financial scams.

Trump is nothing more than another person charging usurious rates to angry people with few options. Selling long odds at a huge cost.

And many Trump voters are angry (often rightfully), often desperate, people. And like Lotto buyers, they ain’t stupid, they just don’t have many options.

PS: As pointed out, almost all politicians are in it for the money. The difference with Trump is who he is selling himself to: Mostly the poor. Like most folks who try to make money off the poor, he is doing it by charging a lot of interest."
donaldtrump  politics  poverty  money  2016  election  chrisarnade  scams  scamartists  lottery  anger  talkradio  precarity  fear  economics  intelligence 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Why Trump voters are not “complete idiots” — Medium
"1) The US is bifurcated into two (actually a few more, but at the highest level only two). There are the “elites” and there is everyone else. These two Americas are segregated, culturally, socially, geographically, and economically. They have gotten more segregated over the last 40 years.

The growing income inequality is one measure of this. Yet it is more than that. The elites have removed themselves physically. They cluster in certain towns (NYC, LA, Northern Virginia, Boston) and within those towns in certain neighborhoods. They dress differently. They eat differently. There is a culture of elitism.

The best single measure of elitism I see is education, the type and amount. A Harvard professor of sociology is more similar (despite different politics) to a Wall Street trader, than either is to a truck driver in Appleton, Wisconsin, or a waitress in Selma, or a construction worker in Detroit.

If you earn your money using your intellect (like Jonathan Chait), you score high on elitism, and you probably view the world very differently from a man driving heavy equipment in Birmingham, Alabama, who uses his body for labor. Or a guy flipping burgers in the Bronx.

2) The elites by and large control things. They control the money. They control the rules on how you make it. They also control the social capital. They set/define what is acceptable, what is allowable, and what is frowned on. (In snazzy academic speak: The elites define what is valid cultural capital, and have defined it to further empower themselves)

Given these two assumptions I use a simple model, borrowed from finance, to explain voting decisions. (If you don’t want math, jump to the bottom conclusion section.)
This is a graph of how I see value vs. elitism in the US. Value is not just economic. It is social. It is a measure of how society sees someone. How it measures their validity, both economically and socially.


It is roughly a two-tiered system, with a big jump up at X. The jump up can be seen in data on income versus education, with the jump at college education.
Yet it isn’t confined to just education. It is about where someone lives. What they like. How they dress. What they do for a living. An African American kid growing up in the Mississippi Delta is far to the left of that X. So is an insurance salesman in Kentucky. Or auto mechanic in South Buffalo.

To the right of the X is pretty much anyone with a graduate degree. All bankers, folks in tech, folks in journalism, etc. Anyone who primarily uses, or needs, post-college training, regardless of if they have it.

That graph is the “payout function” one has in mind when choosing a candidate.

That payout function is the same regardless of the candidate. Where a voter lies on that graph (to the far left, in the low value zone, or to the right of the X), is largely self-defined. It is how they think the world values them.

When choosing a candidate few voters can be certain what a candidate will deliver for them. Each voter can, however, draw a mental distribution of possible outcomes.
So, they might view themselves as starting far to the left of the jump up

But the candidate they vote for will hopefully move them way to the right — Where exactly they cannot know, but they can draw a rough distribution.

The candidate can do this by changing what the definition of elitism is (Math aside: They can also change the value function. But I am holding one thing steady.)
There are two things going on. One is the center of the distribution, the other is the width.

The center is the mostly knowable things. The width of the distribution, or the uncertainty, is the unknowable. The volatility.

How does a voter chose a candidate? They come up with a probability-adjusted valuation. They multiple the chance of each outcome versus the value of that outcome. The result is one number. They chose the candidate that maximizes that number for them.

1) Voters in the lower tier want to move to the higher tier. For African-Americans that means supporting the Clintons, who have spent 40 years working to convince African-Americans they will work for them, socially and economically. They may not like where they start, but Hillary is clearly working for them.

Many working class whites presently don’t feel they have that. In the past they voted the same as elite Republicans, who they saw as sharing their values, and would move them higher.

That hasn’t happened. Economically or socially. The bailout of Wall Street (and in their view, acquiescence on social issues like gay marriage) was the final blow.

Frustrated with broken promises, they gave up on the knowable and went with the unknowable. They chose Trump, because he comes with a very high distribution. A high volatility. (He also signals in ugly ways, that he might just move them, and only them and their friends, higher with his stated policies).

As any trader will tell you, if you are stuck lower, you want volatility, uncertainty. No matter how it comes. Put another way. Your downside is flat, your upside isn’t. Break the system.

The elites loathe volatility. Because, the upside is limited, but the downside isn’t. In option language, they are in the money.
To put it in very non-geeky language: A two-tiered system has one set of people who want to keep the system, and another that doesn’t. Each one is voting for their own best interests. (Yes, there are always altruistic people. But…..)

Where do most of the press and elites get it wrong? They don’t believe that we live in a two-tiered system. They don’t believe, or know they are in, the top tier. They also don’t understand what people view as value.

When the Democrats under Clinton in the early ‘90s shifted towards a pro market agenda, they made a dramatic shift towards accepting the Republicans definition of value as being about the economic.

Now elites in both major parties see their broad political goal as increasing the GDP, regardless of how it is done.

This has failed most Americans, other than the elite, in two ways. It has failed to provide an economic boost (incomes are broadly flat), and it has forgotten that many people see value as being not just economic, but social. It has been a one-two punch that has completely left behind many people.

For many people value is about having meaning beyond money. It is about having institutions that work for you. Like Church. Family. Sports Leagues.

In addition, the social nature of jobs has been destroyed. Unions provided more than just economic power, they also provided social inclusion.

You can scrap this entire analysis as silly if you want, but please try and understand the core point missing from much of the current dialogue — large parts of the US have become completely isolated, socially and economically.

Kids are growing up in towns where by six, or seven, or eleven, they are doomed to be viewed as second class. They feel unvalued. They feel stuck. They are mocked. And there is nothing they feel they can do about it.

When they turn to religion for worth, they are seen by the elites as uneducated, irrational, clowns. When they turn to identity through race they are racists. Regardless of their color.

The only thing they can do, faced with that, is break the fucking system. And they are going to try. Either by Trump or by some other way."

[See also:

"Why Trump voters are not complete idiots. Part two: What should Hillary do?"

"Trump as a scam" ]
chrisarnade  2016  donaldtrump  politics  us  fascism  anger  society  elitism  education  religion  unions  economics  election  socialcapital  classism 
june 2016 by robertogreco

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