Trump Voters In Two Articles

And people who don't get them in a third...

Who voted for Roy Moore in Alabama?

Non-college whites, says Ron Brownstein. That he doesn't say it more clearly is extremely frustrating (emphasis mine):

The final piece explaining Jones’s win was the substantial inroads he made with college-educated whites, especially women. Jones won 40 percent of those voters. While by national standards that’s not a great number, it’s exactly twice as large a share as Obama won in Alabama in 2012. Jones lost college-educated white women by just 7 percentage points; in 2012, Obama lost them by 55 points. Obama won fewer than one in five college-educated white men; Jones pushed that slightly past one in three. In counties with large concentrations of well-educated voters—such as Madison, which includes Huntsville; Shelby, near Birmingham; Lee, the home of Auburn University; and Tuscaloosa, the home of the University of Alabama—Jones consistently ran about 20 percentage points ahead of Clinton.

Moore’s own words and actions provided plenty of provocation for minorities, Millennials, and college-educated whites. But these key groups moved the same way in November’s major elections. In both the New Jersey and the Virginia governors’ races, Democrats won about 70 percent of Millennials and half of college-educated whites, and they enjoyed solid turnout and preponderant margins from nonwhite voters. In all three states, the core Trump groups of older, blue-collar, evangelical, and rural whites remained loyal to Republicans (although Moore’s margins with those voters eroded slightly relative to Mitt Romney’s in 2012). But they couldn’t match the impassioned turnout among the groups hostile to Trump.

Why are non-college whites willing to vote for a child molester? It might be right there in the name "non-college." From another article in the Atlantic:

The issue boils down to the number of college-educated workers that will be needed to fill the bulk of the country’s new jobs—two-thirds of which will require some college background by 2020—and the dearth of college degrees held by lower-income workers. With well-paying jobs in manufacturing and the trades largely a relic of the nation’s industrial past, the middle-class pathways for workers with just a high-school education are few and far between. The basic arithmetic underscoring America’s labor needs points to a possible future in which the poor are unable to take full part in the nation’s economy, creating great social and economic strain.
Among the report’s findings: When American households are organized into four income groups, 24-year-olds from the top two groups accounted for 77 percent of the bachelor’s degrees awarded in 2014.

So the children of non-college whites have very little chance of going to college themselves, even though those kids will need a college degree to get a job. That sounds like a perfectly good reason for Trump voters to hate our higher education establishment. I'd call it down right rational. 

Everyone else disagrees. Kevin Drum offers up one version of the disagreement "They're stupid" and chimes in with his own version "They hate Democrats":

One of the provisions of the Republican tax bill would force graduate students to pay taxes on waived tuition fees. So if annual tuition is, say, $50,000, and that cost is waived, the student would have to pay taxes on $50,000 of income. Jeremy Berg, the editor-in-chief of Scienceis perplexed:

It is not clear what the objective is, as the new policy would disproportionately affect students without additional resources to support their educations and would likely decrease economic viability and competitiveness as talent is lost from the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) enterprise.

Well, here’s the thing: I’m afraid STEM is just collateral damage in a war against economics, sociology, women’s studies, education, history, and so forth. These are all areas that produce lots of lefties who write mean things about conservatives, and the objective of the tuition waiver is to make life hard for them. Unfortunately, the tax writers couldn’t think of a way of making this provision apply only to “fields that harbor lots of liberals,” so STEM got hit too. Sorry about that.

It is far more simple. Why do non-college whites hate college? It purports to be public but does not serve them. Duh.

Darwinian China vs Newtonian America

Newtonian thinking: cause and effect combine to form a causal chain.

Example: Wolves are predators. Sheep are prey. Deer are prey. Wolves eat sheep and deer. If a rancher owns sheep, wolves are bad.

Darwinian thinking: ecosystems are complex, interrelated webs where everything is a but for cause of everything else. 

Example: reintroducing wolves into an ecosystem is amazing and unpredictable. 

Reality: wolf reintroduction helps willow trees, beavers, and more!

The Ecosystem of Power

Here’s how a good sociologist, Dan Little, describes Juan Wang’s work on China

Given this segmentation of political power in China, both historically and in the current time, it is important to understand the dynamics of government at lower levels as well if we are to understand the overall behavior of the system.

This is the task that Juan Wang sets for herself in her excellent recent book, The Sinews of State Power: The Rise and Demise of the Cohesive Local State in Rural China. She has chosen the title deliberately; she wants to demonstrate that China's overall political behavior is the result of a complex interplay among multiple levels of political organization. In particular, she finds that the particulars of the relationships that exist between three levels of local government have important consequences for the actions of the central government.

There are numerous strengths of Wang's treatment. One is her emphasis on disaggregation: don't consider political power as an undifferentiated whole, but instead as an interlocking system including both central authority and local political institutions and actors. Second, Wang's approach is admirably actor-centered. She attempts to understand the political situation of local officials and cadres from their own points of view, identifying the risks they are eager to avoid, the motivations they are pursuing, and sometimes the individual rewards that lie behind their decisions and actions. As she points out, their behaviors often look quite different from the idealized expectations of officials and cadres in specific roles.

The Nazi Next Door and the "structure" metaphor

Here’s how Jamelle Bouie describes the United States in critiquing the New York Timesseriously terrible profile of the Nazi next door, Tony Hovater. There is no ecosystem of causation here. The US is racist, therefore ordinary people are racist. Wolves are predators, therefore wolves kill sheep:

Hovater's extremism may demand some additional explanation, but there's nothing novel about virulent white racism existing in banal environments. That, in fact, is what it means to live in a society structured by racism and racist attitudes. The sensational nature of Hovater's identification with Nazi Germany obscures the ordinariness of his racism. White supremacy is a hegemonic ideology in the United States. It exists everywhere, in varying forms, ranging from passive beliefs in black racial inferiority to the extremist ideology we see in groups like the League of the South.
A look back to the past is instructive. In 1921, one of the deadliest anti-black riots in American history occurred in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A mob of white men, eager for retribution after the alleged assault of a young white woman, descended on the city's prosperous Greenwood neighborhood, dubbed the "Black Wall Street" by admirers. Armed with pistols, rifles, and a machine gun—as well as a plane equipped with rudimentary bombs—this makeshift army burned Greenwood to the ground, killing hundreds in the process. We don't know who gave order to the mob, organizing and amplifying its lethality, but we can identify the men who participated. 
They weren't, as white Tulsans would later learn, the working-class men drawn to the city's oil wealth and frontier atmosphere. No, they were Tulsa's white elite—its respectable middle class. "Photographs of the tragedy also showed that many in the white mob drove the most expensive cars and dressed in clothes beyond the means of the average roughneck," notes Tim Madigan in The Burning: Massacre, Destruction, and the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921. They were recognizable. Ordinary. 

The thing is, Bouie is so close to being right. The fact that the Tulsa race riot wasn’t in my Bailey and Kennedy American Pageant history book from high school is totally baffling. The fact that it still isn’t there nine editions later is just pure racism. As a pundit who is also a black person, Jamelle Bouie should be publicizing this history every time he can. The NYT’s Nazi-next-door piece is a good peg for it.

But humans--even Nazis--are mammals, and the science of our behavior is governed by the ideas of Charles Darwin. Bouie, meanwhile, frames American racism using a Newtonian metaphor from materials science. Materials science—physics and chemistry—tells us, for example, about the crystalline structure of quartz and how that causes it to vibrate when subjected to an electric charge. It’s a materials science metaphor at work when Bouie says, “what it means to live in a society structured by racism...”

Our language is littered with metaphors like this. We use them totally unconsciously. But they have consequences. They shape our world... See the physical metaphor "shape our world"! 

Why does a quartz crystal keep time? Because it's structure leads to a piezoelectric effect: where movement causes an electric charge and an electric charge causes movement.

Why are there Nazi's next door? Because the structure of our society causes white people to fear that they will lose what they have if black people get enough power.

Newton to Marx to Gramsci to Coates to Bouie

The second crucial phrase, hegemonic ideology, is tricky and sorting out it's exact meaning involves spending a lot of time learning wrongness, that is, studying the views of people whose views are incorrect. It is Newtonian thinking that takes a left turn at Marx and Engels, then an even sharper left turn at Antonio Gramsci only to speed up and take the Ta-Nehisi Coates overpass to America's Conversation About Race.

The whole sordid tale is the reaction to something that didn't happen. Karl Marx said that capitalism would lead to revolution. He literally guaranteed that the working class would rise up against the owners of capital. Cause and effect: capitalism inevitably immiserates the working class, therefore the working class will inevitably revolt. So, decades go by and the proletariate--who, remember, had nothing to lose but their chains--are still living their lives, the question arrises: what caused this? Capitalism causes revolution. Cause and effect. No revolution is caused by? Control. The proletariate is controlled by force (F=ma! Physics). But they are not just working, they are whistling! Not just physical control, mind control.

I'm serious. Mind control. Lots of academics still devote their lives to this. Everyone whose speciality has the word "critical" in the name studies mind control. You think I'm joking, but I'm not.

The reason there is a Nazi next door is that all of us are subject to mind control. The people in power control our minds with the ideology of white supremacy.

Newton: If the theory of gravity is correct, why does a feather not hit the ground at the same time as the bowling ball? What’s the other force? Friction.

Gramsci: If the workers are oppressed and have nothing to lose but their chains, why no revolution? Hegemony:

The notion of “hegemony” is rooted in Gramsci’s (1992) distinction between coercion and consent as alternative mechanisms of social power (p. 137). Coercion refers to the State’s capacity for violence, which it can use against those who refuse to participate in capitalist relations of production. By contrast, hegemonic power works to convince individuals and social classes to subscribe to the social values and norms of an inherently exploitative system. It is a form of social power that relies on voluntarism and participation, rather than the threat of punishment for disobedience. Hegemony appears as the “common sense” that guides our everyday, mundane understanding of the world. It is a view of the world that is “in- herited from the past and uncritically absorbed” and which tends to reproduce a sort of social homeostasis, or “moral and political passivity” (Gramsci 1971:333). Whereas coercive power is the exclusive domain of the State, the institutions of “civil society,” such as the Church, schools, the mass media, or the family, are largely responsible for producing and disseminating hegemonic power (Gramsci 1996:91). In industrial capitalist societies, hegemonic power is the prevalent form of social power; the state relies on coercion only in exceptional circumstances. 

Try an ecology metaphor

Instead of borrowing a phrase from Marx, what if Bouie looked to ecology? The article I linked to above about the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone calls the consequences a trophic cascade.

Otters are predators that eat fish. If you introduce otters to an ecosystem, you will have less fish. Cause and effect. Predator eats prey. Newtonian causation. Totally wrong. From Nature Education:

Kelp Beds
Perhaps the best recognized example of a tri-trophic cascade comes from the Aleutian Islands and southeast Alaska, where sea otters (Enhydra lutris), invertebrate herbivores (i.e., sea urchins) and macroalgae demonstrate spatial and temporal density patterns suggesting widespread predator facilitation of plant persistence (Figure 2, Estes & Duggins 1995). Although a historically common component of near shore marine communities, sea otters were hunted to near extinction in the early part of the 20th century for their luxurious pelts and now patchily persist along the coast.
...
As sea otter populations have expanded into new sites in recent decades, predictable changes in the density of sea urchins, kelp, and the organisms that utilize the habitat created by healthy kelp beds, have been observed, demonstrating the potential for whole-ecosystem recovery with the reinstatement of predator populations (Estes & Duggins 1995).

What do healthy kelp beds bring? Rockfish.

A wide range of fish can be found in kelp forests, many of which are important to commercial fishermen. For example, many types of rockfish such as black rockfish, blue rockfish, olive rockfish, and kelp rockfish are found in kelp forests and are important to fishermen.

You can't answer the question why is the US racist without studying the whole ecosystem of our society. The Tulsa Race Riot is a great bit of history that offers some insight into that complex and dynamic system. But it is not an example of hegemonic anything. That's not how ecosystems work. The hegemonic otter eats fish. The real otter both eats fish and brings them into existence.

Fischotter,_Lutra_Lutra.JPG

A Veto To Save Healthcare?

The repeal of the ACA individual mandate has been appended to the corporate tax cut bill the GOP is advancing through Congress. It is in the bill at the specific request of the President. It may be there to function just like one of the arbitrary rules in some competition on The Apprentice.

If Trump is capable of strategy at all, one imagines it’s of sort he and his producers used on television: the fixed frame of a weekly competition is modified on the fly with arbitrary rules designed to build tension that the competitors cannot resolve on their own, setting it up so that the audience must wait through the final commercials break to see how Emperor Trump ends the story.

It is a feature of this strategy, not a bug, that the Emperor is an empty shell, capable of generating the entire range of human affect and speech, but not actually human. The producers can splice the components together in a way that feels like human intelligence. But an actual functioning human brain behind the production would ruin the program. Actual human brains generate patterns of behavior—the thing we call “character”—and those patterns can be anticipated.

Simon Cowell, for example, has character. His surface similarity to Trump is down the fact that Cowell has terrible character, which often resembles the absence of character, but it is very different. Bad character is within the range of normal human behavior and can be predicted. Eventually, we get bored with it because we know what’s coming. That’s when they bring in Jennifer Lopez.

Every reality competition show—except The Apprentice—has at least an element of testing genuine human talent or skill. Being the best dancer, the best designer, the best puzzle-solver or the best obstacle course runner may not absolutely determine the winner on competition shows, but it helps.

The Apprentice, on the other hand, is completely arbitrary. The business competitions take place in absurd circumstances and the results are totally meaningless. There is no substance. Only Trump.  

And so we have a corporate tax cut bill working it’s way through a Republican Congress. It is a bizarre and unpopular hodgepodge which contains exactly one provision specifically requested by Trump: a repeal of the individual mandate in the ACA, without which the ACA will collapse as insurers pull out of the marketplaces. 

Unlike previous ACA repeal bills, this “tax reform” may make it to the President’s Desk where he can sign it or veto it. He may very well, on live TV, turn to the audience and say, “What do you think? Who should I fire?” Thanks to the provision that Trump himself specifically requested, his decision will determine whether 10 million or so people lose their health insurance  

Imagine the ratings!

What will he do? If he were human, we could guess. If he were capable of reason or empathy, we could try to influence him. But he’s an empty shell. We literally have no choice but to tune in.  

Jesus, I hate this show.  

IMG_7391.JPG

Oklahoma, Red But Not Republican?

Most government employees are people like teachers, firefighters, and police. Cut state and local taxes and that means... economic growth?

No. That, it turns out, is wrong.  

It actually means... school only four days a week in Oklahoma

Hating black people and immigrants isn’t enough when you can’t find a sitter every Friday. We shall see.   

I’m Galileo

Or maybe not. But maybe. 

Check out this cool little history of the Copernican Revolution by some guy. 

My claim is that our view of humanity and human behavior is as wrong (and as right!) as Ptolemy’s view of the cosmos.

My view is that what we call “Social Science” is a basically Newtonian view of causation applied to human history, society, and behavior.

My prediction is that accepting Darwinian science as the guide to all things involving humans would revolutionize the social sciences to a Copurnican degree. 

No wonder your dishwasher doesn’t work.  

No wonder your dishwasher doesn’t work.