Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘Election’ Category

Weird contradiction: Trump alleges massive election fraud and Trump supporters try to block recounts

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I totally do not understand this: Donald Trump claims that three million votes were illegally cast by people who were not qualified to vote. Okay: big election problem. So some recounts were undertaken, which seems quite reasonable given the questions Trump raised about the validity of millions of votes. But now Trump supporters do not want a recount.

I don’t get it: if they think many votes were illegal, it seems that a recount is totally in order. Surely they do not want illegal votes counted, do they?

What on earth goes on in their brains?

Here’s the story in the NY Times by Monica Davey, Julie Bosman, and Steve Eder. If you understand why Trump claims fraud and his voters oppose a recount, explain it to me. Maybe they like fraud? (That might explain their support for Trump.)

From the story:

Lawrence J. Tabas, general counsel of the Republican Party of Pennsylvania, said in an interview on Friday that Ms. Stein’s lawyers had fallen short of demonstrating that there was fraud or illegal action in the Nov. 8 election. “They know they have no claim,” he said.

Is Tabas not paying attention? Trump himself said that their was fraud and illegal action, and fairly substantial fraud and illegal action. I suggest those favoring a recount call Trump as a witness on their behalf. He believes there was fraud.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 December 2016 at 11:03 am

Cognitive closure and US politics

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That’s from a very interesting Open Culture post by Dan Colman, which begins:

There’s a political disconnect in the United States. We have two political parties, each now living in its own reality and working with its own set of facts. The common ground between them? Next to none.

How to explain this disconnect? Maybe the answer lies in the theory of “cognitive closure”–a theory first worked out by social psychologist Arie Kruglanski back in 1989.

“People’s politics are driven by their psychological needs,” Kruglanski explains in the short documentary above. “People who are anxious because of the uncertainty that surrounds them are going to be attracted to messages that offer certainty.”

He sips a soda, then continues, . . .

But watch the documentary. It’s just 7 minutes.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 December 2016 at 6:12 pm

The People Chose Hillary Clinton. Now We Need To Stop Donald Trump From Trashing Our Democracy

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Michael Tomasky reports at The Daily Beast:

Let’s review: We have a president-elect who:

1. Will end up having received around 2.5 million fewer votes than his main opponent.

2. Whose campaign benefited, almost no one now disputes, from the help provided him by Russian intelligence agencies and other even more shadowy Russian actors—which is to say that foreign agents, whether Russian or any nationality, sought to influence this election to an unprecedented degree. 

3. Who is so tied up in compromises and conflicts because of his business dealings that past White House ethics lawyers, including at least one Republican one, say he will be in violation of the Constitution from his first day in office and argue that the Electoral College must not seat him.

4. Has already told the American people that, with respect to number 3, his attitude is precisely that of Richard Nixon, back when Nixon declared the president to be by the very nature of the office above the law. Trump said that the president “can’t have a conflict of interest”—meaning, presumably, that it can’t happen simply because he’s the president.

Want to imagine any one of the above four statements applying to any Democrat, but especially to Hillary Clinton? Think about what we’d be hearing right now from Republicans if Clinton had won a substantial Electoral College victory but lost the popular vote by five more than Al Gore’s margin in 2000. Five hundred thousand was close, but 2.5 million isn’t, out of 137 million. It’s almost 2 percent. That’s a narrow win, yes, but a clear one—well above the threshold, for example, that triggers an automatic recount in the 19 states (plus the District of Columbia) that set such thresholds, which is most typically .5 percent or even .1 percent, but never more than 1 percent.

At the very least, we’d be hearing the right-wing radio people, some Fox hosts, and a fairly large number of prominent Republican senators and House members carrying on about the illegitimacy of Clinton’s victory. Recall back in 1992 when on election night itself, GOP Senate leader Bob Dole said Bill Clinton had no mandate because he didn’t win a majority of the vote. Bill Clinton won 43 percent of the vote, which was nearly 6 percent more than George H.W. Bush, and a whopping 370 electoral votes. But to Dole—and through him, to all Republicans, really, since he was the country’s top-ranking Republican at the time, and others echoed him—Clinton had no mandate.

So if Clinton had no mandate, does Trump?

If the situation were reversed, the cable shows would be filled with Republicans insisting that while Clinton may have attained victory under the rules, it was clear that the people opposed her policies, so it was therefore their solemn, nay even their Constitutional, duty block everything she proposed. And that’s at the least. At the most, conservative legal scholars would be trotting out arguments that electors were under no obligation to support her, along with more baroque theories about how her victory had happened in a way that the Founders never intended.

Instead it was Trump who won in a dubious way—although I cannot, alas, say that it wasn’t in a way the Founders intended. They did, of course, intend for the people not to be able to choose the president directly. And why? Well, it’s commonly said that it was because they didn’t trust the people, which they didn’t. But as with so much of this nation’s founding, it was also about race.

As Yale scholar Akhil Reed Amar wrote before the election in Time, the Electoral College was a compromise over slavery. In a system of direct election, votes in the North would vastly outnumber votes in the South, because the North had more propertied white males and the South had more slaves, who of course couldn’t vote. But the Electoral College in effect gave slaves three-fifths of a vote. Consequently, writes Amar, Pennsylvania had 10 percent more white males right after 1800 but 20 percent fewer Electoral College votes. As David Frum tweeted the other day, “‘The people’ wanted Hillary. The compromises of 1787 got us Trump.” The thread tying 1787 and Trump together? Four letters, starts with “r,” rhymes with disgrace.

All that is just with respect to point 1 above, which is the least problematic of the four points. Let’s move on to number 2. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 November 2016 at 2:17 pm

Voting under the influence of celebrity

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Jason Kottke draws some intriguing parallels between O.J. Simpson and Donald Trump. Short, but worth reading and pondering.

Personally, I fault the American educational system for not teaching critical thinking skills starting around third or fourth grade. The reason critical thinking skills are not taught is that many parents lack such skills and don’t much like having children who are better than they at analyzing and understanding things—such as the parents’ own dear beliefs, so of which may not withstand critical thinking. Better, they think, that the kids be ignorant of such skills.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 November 2016 at 1:03 pm

Ezra Klein on Trump’s allegation of “millions of illegal votes”

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Ezra Klein makes some good points in his Vox article, and they are ominous:

  1. Trump has lost the thread of his own argument. The point of Trump’s tweets was to dismiss those questioning the legitimacy of the vote. “The Green Party scam to fill up their coffers by asking for impossible recounts is now being joined by the badly defeated & demoralized Dems,” he tweeted, adding, “Nothing will change.” But here, Trump undermined himself. If Democrats worry the votes were miscounted, and the president-elect believes that millions of people voted fraudulently, then it’s clear we need a recount to restore faith in the outcome of the election.
  2. This perhaps goes without saying, but it’s unnerving that the president-elect can’t restrain himself from making a bad situation worse on Twitter, or even hold himself to the logic of the argument he intended to make and the outcome he wanted to achieve.
  3. This tweet is an example of Trump’s most dangerous quality: his tendency to mobilize against a threatening, sometimes imaginary Other whenever he himself is under siege. There is no evidence of significant voter fraud from this election. But Trump is telling his supporters that voting fraud did in fact happen, and that they should therefore worry that their political power will be overwhelmed by illegal voters.
  4. The nightmare scenario in 2016 was that Trump would refuse to accept the outcome of the election when he was a mere candidate. Imagine if he were to refuse to accept the outcome of the next election once he is the president, and after he has appointed loyalists to control America’s security apparatus.
  5. Imagine this tendency of Trump’s emerging after a domestic terrorist attack. George W. Bush worked hard in the aftermath of 9/11 to tamp down Islamophobia in America — to ensure it was al-Qaeda (and, eventually, Saddam Hussein) who was blamed, not American Muslims. Who would Trump blame in the aftermath of a terrorist attack? How quick would he be to turn Americans against each other, to find an enemy who could absorb the public anger that might normally attach itself to him?
  6. I’ve noticed a lot of people on Twitter seem to think Trump’s tweet is scary because it’s false, but the actually scary interpretation is that he believes it’s true, which he probably does. It seems likely that Trump got his “information” from conspiracy theorist site, or someone else retweeting or rewriting InfoWars — a lot of weird things Trump says later prove to emerged in the pro-Trump, conspiracy theory-corners of the internet. The problem with Trump isn’t the lies he tells as much as it’s the information he chooses to believe.
  7. Consider the difference between a world where Trump is lying to us, and a world where Trump has fooled himself. Trump lost the popular vote, and he lost it by a wide margin — more than 2 million votes and counting. A wise man would take that information seriously and think about how to staff his White House, set priorities, and moderate his message to win over a majority of the public. Instead, Trump appears to have convinced himself the vote count was riddled with fraud and that he won a majority of the legitimate vote — and thus he can govern like a man who won the popular vote, and holds the mandate that carries.
  8. Back in March, I wrote a piece about how Trump was too gullible — too fond of bad information and sycophants — to be president. I think that piece holds up.
  9. It has been weeks since Donald Trump won the presidential election, and here is what we can say: . . .

Read the whole thing.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 November 2016 at 8:42 pm

Interesting, eh? Some Fake News Publishers Just Happen to Be Donald Trump’s Cronies

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Ian Fang reports in The Intercept:

The extraordinary phenomenon of fake news spread by Facebook and other social media during the 2016 presidential election has been largely portrayed as a lucky break for Donald Trump.

By that reckoning, entrepreneurial Macedonian teenagers, opportunists in Tbilisi and California millennials have exploited social media algorithms in order to make money — only incidentally leading to the viral proliferation of mostly anti-Clinton and anti-Obama hoaxes and conspiracy theories that thrilled many Trump supporters. The Washington Post published a shoddy report on Thursday alleging that Russian state-sponsored propagandists were seeking to promote Trump through fabricated stories for their own reasons, independent of the candidate himself.

But a closer look reveals that some of the biggest fake news providers were run by experienced political operators well within the orbit of Donald Trump’s political advisers and consultants.

Laura Ingraham, a close Trump ally currently under consideration to be Trump’s White House press secretary, owns an online publisher called Ingraham Media Group that runs a number of sites, including LifeZette, a news site that frequently posts articles of dubious veracity. One video produced by LifeZette this summer, ominously titled “Clinton Body Count,” promoted a conspiracy theory that the Clinton family had some role in the plane crash death of John F. Kennedy, Jr., as well as the deaths of various friends and Democrats.

The video, published on Facebook from LifeZette’s verified news account, garnered over 400,000 shares and 14 million views.

Another LifeZette video, picking up false claims from other sites, claimed that voting machines “might be compromised” because a voting machine company called Smartmatic, allegedly providing voting machines “in sixteen states,” was purchased by the liberal billionaire George Soros. Soros never purchased the company, and Smartmatic did not provide voting machines used in the general election.

One LifeZette article misleadingly claimed that the United Nations backed a “secret” Obama administration takeover of local police departments. The article referenced Justice Department orders that a select few police departments address patterns of misconduct, a practice that, in reality, long predates the Obama presidency, is hardly secret, and had no relation to the United Nations.

Another LifeZette article, which went viral in the week prior to the election, falsely claimed that Wikileaks had revealed that a senior Hillary Clinton campaign official had engaged in occult rituals. Ingraham’s site regularly receives links from the Drudge Report and other powerful drivers of Internet traffic.

But LifeZette, for all its influence, pales in comparison to the sites run by Floyd Brown, a Republican consultant close to Trump’s inner circle of advisers. Brown gained notoriety nearly three decades ago for his role in helping to produce the “Willie Horton” campaign advertisement, a spot criticized for its use of racial messaging to derail Michael Dukakis’s presidential bid. Brown is also the political mentor of David Bossie, an operative who went to work for Trump’s presidential campaign this year after founding the Citizens United group. In an interview this year, Brown called Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway a “longtime friend.”

Brown now produces a flow of reliably pro-Trump Internet content through a company he owns called Liftable Media Inc., which operates a number of high-impact, tabloid-style news outlets that exploded in size over the course of the election. . .

Continue reading. There’s a lot more.

I don’t think much of seditious libel as a crime, but I think a case could be made for seditious spamming of fake news, which corrodes the basis for our democracy and government. In other words, I think the offense is quite serious. It’s no laughing matter.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 November 2016 at 8:27 pm

A tweetstorm analysis of the voting patterns: Why Trump voters voted against their own interests

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JuanPa (@pbrammer) has an amazing tweetstorm. Extracting the content freed of the Twitter encrustations, he wrote on November 18:

So I’m a Mexican American from a poor, rural (mostly white) town in Oklahoma. Missing from this debate? How poor whites see themselves.

If you’re wondering how poor, exploited white people could vote for a dude with a golden elevator who will fuck them over, here’s how.

They don’t see themselves as poor. They don’t base their identity on it. They see themselves as “temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”

The stigma against poverty is incredibly strong. It is shameful to be poor, to not have the comforts of the middle class. So they pretend–

That they aren’t poor. They are willing to lie to make it seem like they aren’t poor. They purchase things to make it seem like they’re not.

In my town, wealth wasn’t associated with greed, but with hard work and inherent goodness. You are blessed if you have material wealth.

When they see Trump, they don’t see an extortionist who is rich because of the very conditions that keep their own communities in poverty.

They see someone who worked hard and was justly rewarded with wealth. Most men, especially, think they too could be Trump were it not for

the unfair obstacles put in their way. White men who don’t consider themselves successful enough have so many excuses for their “failures.”

The idea that immigrants are the reason they are poor and not wealthy like Trump is so appealing. It takes all the shame and blame away.

And here we have a man who, they think, “tells it like it is” and is willing to name the things stealing prosperity out of their hands.

If these people saw themselves as an exploited class of people, if American culture didn’t stigmatize poverty so much, it might be different

But America has so entangled wealth with goodness and poverty with moral deficiency that they can’t build that identity. They won’t.

Trump is rich, and so according to American criteria, he is also:
1. Wise
2. Fair
3. Moral
4. Deserving
5. Strong
6. Clever He *has* to be.

Capitalism and the American Dream teach that poverty is a temporary state that can be transcended with hard work and cleverness.

To fail to transcend poverty, and to admit you are poor, is to admit you are neither hardworking or clever. It’s cultural brainwashing.

So if an exploited class of people don’t want to admit they’re exploited and they blame themselves for their oppression, what manifests?

Xenophobia. Hatred of anyone who is “different,” queer people, people of color. These people are eroding the “goodness” of America.

And if they would just stop ruining America, then the perfect design of America could work again and deliver prosperity.

I’m telling you, as someone who has spent almost his entire life in this environment, that if you think cities are a “bubble…” Good God.

But the reality is, of course, that these people are indeed exploited and they are victims, even while they victimize others. Victimize us.

Still, we need to understand the identity working class white people have built for themselves, one diametrically opposed to, well, reality.

Because Trump won’t make them rich. Even if he deports all the brown people. It won’t bring them what they’re hoping for.

Steven Denger had an interest esponse:

Steven Dengler ‏@Dracogen – @jpbrammer As I read this amazing tweet stream, and as I unpacked your many insights, this situation started seeming oddly familiar.

Steven Dengler ‏@Dracogen  – @jpbrammer Then finally I placed it: you are describing a Cargo Cult.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 November 2016 at 2:26 pm

Posted in Daily life, Election

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