Thursday, January 5, 2017

Obamacare: Will Republicans Let It Become Their "Tar Baby?" Trump and Black Americans. De-fund The U.N and Palestinians. Unearned Medals - Back Patting?

Stella in Mexico Vacationing.
Be careful what you ask for, you may own it.  Will Obamacare become the Republicans's "tar baby?" (See 1 below.)
Because Trump is not a politician, in the strict sense of the word, and because he has proven to be better at politics than most politicians, I believe he is sincere when he wants to do something about the plight of Black Americans.  Trump is a problem solver, unlike most politicians who create problems.

He understands blacks have been foot balled by Democrats. He understands education is their best hope and the unions have stiffed America's black population .  He understands blacks are beginning to realize they have been played for fools, lied to, even by one of their own, and Trump knows they are ripe for political picking.(See 2 below.)
I disagree with the op ed.

In my opinion, the last thing Trump needs to do is get involved in attempting to solve The Palestinian- Israeli problem.  Stick to your domestic agenda and let the Middle East stew.  He should cut funding to The U.N. and Palestinians to bring some reality to the situation as a way of preparing the batter for the future, however.

Were Trump to do this, I have no doubt, Palestinians would engage in heightened terrorism in order to regain attention and Israelis would become victims but Palestinians need to be ignored and downgraded in terms of attention and cutting their subsidizing would send a clear message they will not mistake. If they react with more terrorism then they will simply sink their own boat.(See 3 below.)
There are many things that have occurred that have weakened our Republic.Among them are:
a) The disintegration of the family
b) The decline in education, standards and curriculum
c) The downgrading of religion and the rise of PC'ism

One that I have not mentioned is the rise in the politicization of behaviour and that could be what is allegedly driving Trump's decision to overhaul the various Intelligence Agencies among other reasons.  Trump's obviously of the view, and I suspect he is correct, that Obama increased the level of politics in every facet of our government.

When Intelligence begins to release reports for political purposes they lose all credibility.  If Russia actually tried to influence our election through various technology and propaganda there are several things we can do:

We can attack them technology, if we have the ability, we can warn our citizens that they are engaged in mis-information etc. and hope American voters believe our own government over Russia or we can got to actual war considering it an act of undeclared war by Russia or any other nation so engaged.

Beyond that, there is little we can do because most of the nations that threaten us have elections that are not democratic so interfering in their's is not as meaningful as when they do so to us.

Our cyber capabilities are probably behind the curve and we need to do more to upgrade them and then decide are we going to employ them.  We have a history of involving ourselves in espionage and trying to overthrow various governments.  Obama recently engaged in trying to defeat Netanyahu so this concern over Russia is like the kettle being called black by the pot and strikes me as more of an effort to de-legitimize Trump.

Democrats have been engaging in propaganda against Trump from the git go so alleging same by Russia is not too persuasive.

Hearings do allow politicians an opportunity to go on TV and earn their salaries, however.

Meanwhile our tin-horn of a president-dictator had himself awarded a medal yesterday at a ceremony that involved a lot of back patting and ass kissing.

"Obama grotesquely had himself awarded a Defense Dept. medal yesterday 

President Obama has another ironic award for his trophy shelf, to accompany his Nobel Peace Prize and all those participation trophies he got at Punahou for his basketball skills.  His appointee and subordinate Ash Carter yesterday pinned a military medal --  the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service -- on his boss, as Warner Todd Huston reported for Breitbart.

The ceremony took place at Joint Base Myers-Henderson, before a crowd that had an awful of of empty seats, almost as if the military service members who attended were there on orders.

I am sorry, but this stinks of a tin pot dictatorship."
This author finds a problem with Obama's last weeks/minutes in office. (See 4 below.)
Who needs help?

 I am not sure you can equate a person saying they are Napoleon with one saying he is of the opposite sex.  One is theoretical/subjective and perhaps out of bounds with reality and the other, objectively speaking, determinable based on some factual evidence.

You decide. (See 5 below.)
I'm forever living in bubbles? (See 6 below.)

This from a very long time friend and fellow memo reader:

"In a world where everyone learns instantly on social media, it is amazing to realize that a lot of people still live in a bubble!

Charles Murray developed a quiz that will determine how insulated one is from mainstream American culture.

A measurement tool was created by the man whose work on the stratification of American culture is a big help in understanding what happened in the November 2016 election.

There is a link in the article below to take the quiz, if you wish! I scored a 68.
Eating at Waffle House 15 times last year probably helped.....Maybe?
R---"  (See 7 below.)
Hanson on Israel and Obama. (See 7 below.)
1) The Politics of TrumpCare

Admit it or not, the GOP will soon own the health insurance market

President Obama and Vice President-elect Mike Pence both paid a visit to Capitol Hill Wednesday, in the first formal engagement over the future of the Affordable Care Act. Republicans finally have the power to repeal, but the question is whether they have the grit to replace ObamaCare.

Mr. Pence told Republicans that repeal and replace is the Trump Administration’s “first order of business,” while Mr. Obama ordered Democrats not to “rescue” the GOP by helping to pass a “TrumpCare replacement.” Going by his business background Donald Trump won’t mind putting his name on a health-care plan, or anything else, but Republicans need to appreciate the reality that they will soon own ObamaCare. Until they pass a coherent and market-oriented substitute, as a political matter ObamaCare is TrumpCare, like it or not.


This isn’t a great political position, given the law’s large and ongoing failures on almost every measure: premium trends, enrollment, limited doctor and hospital networks, insurer participation. Affordability, choice and competition are due for another tumble next year under the status quo.
Mr. Trump seems to appreciate the political danger, tweeting Wednesday that “Republicans must be careful in that the Dems own the failed ObamaCare disaster, with its poor coverage and massive premium increases,” adding “Don’t let the [Democratic Senator Chuck] Schumer clowns out of this web.”
But Mr. Trump isn’t some candidate bystander any more. What was the point of Mr. Pence’s visit to Congress if not to encourage Republicans to proceed with their plans for a quick repeal? Does the President-elect have any better ideas on legislative strategy, or is he merely going to toss around the sayings of Chairman Donald from Trump Tower?
Some Republicans think they can repeal ObamaCare and blame Mr. Obama for the fallout, but they are kidding themselves. Republicans were elected on a promise to repeal and replace, and the statute of limitations on blaming Mr. Obama will soon expire. Voters tend to punish politicians who can but don’t solve problems, even if they didn’t cause them.
Republicans began the repeal drive on Tuesday, introducing a budget resolution with instructions for “reconciliation.” This procedure bypasses the Senate filibuster for budget-related measures, and a simple majority can be used to dismantle ObamaCare’s insurance subsidies, tax increases, Medicaid expansion and individual mandate. But reconciliation can’t roll back one of the most damaging core features—the vast expansion of federal regulatory control and coercion over health care.
Thus much of the law could be legally repealed by mid-February or so, but with a deferred roll-up date of perhaps two or three years. And there’s little GOP consensus about an alternative. Mr. Trump campaigned on repeal but also left TrumpCare open to negotiation and, well, interpretation (“something terrific”). House Republicans united around sensible reforms, but legislating is harder than writing a campaign document.
The policy risk of this strategy is that repeal and delay could accelerate the collapse of the ObamaCare exchanges. Insurance markets depend on stability and predictability, and insurers are already planning policies for 2018. The new system can phase in, but the uncertainty of a long interval between the repeal and replace stages, or the possibility that the replacement never arrives, could disrupt insurance for millions.
The political risk is that the GOP defaults to procrastination, or reverts to its pattern of division and grandstanding. Conservative purists may try to block any credible replacement as ObamaCare Lite, much as Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said Wednesday he will oppose the GOP repeal strategy because it might add to the deficit. Only in Washington could a self-styled libertarian oppose the repeal of an entitlement and claim fiscal virtue.
As for Democrats, they already seem to be following Mr. Obama’s no-compromise advice. Senate Minority Leader Schumer said at a press conference Wednesday that Republicans want “to rip health care away from millions of Americans, creating chaos in our entire economy.” Mr. Schumer called the GOP “the dog who caught the bus,” and he’ll be right if Republicans can’t deliver on a replacement within months, not years.
Republicans have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to govern and show that center-right reforms can improve on the top-down mandates of the entitlement state. If they muff this one, they’ll deserve to be run out of town.
2)Trump and Black Americans

FDR offered the hope of prosperity. Can the new president do the same?

A list of keyword search terms for the omnipresent Donald Trump likely would include: tweet, Putin, transition, China, Carrier, GM, ISIS, taxes, Mexico, immigrants, nativist and white.
One search term would not show up on any list: black Americans.
Black Americans appear—as a political issue—on every presidential candidate’s must-do list. But after the voting stops, they generally drop down or off the list. Four years later, the same people are living in the same neighborhoods with the same disordered schools and the same dim prospects for economic advancement.
Conventional wisdom now holds that Donald Trump is president because he identified the angry white counterparts of black voters who have watched the world pass them by election after election.
In September, Mr. Trump visited a private charter school, the Cleveland Arts and Social Sciences Academy, in one of that city’s toughest neighborhoods.Maybe black voters are angry, too. And maybe with Donald Trump, of all people, they’ll get some political respect that matters.
Why take the time? Commentary at the time noted that Mr. Trump’s support in polls among Ohio’s blacks was about zero. The campaign’s real targets were white, blue-collar voters in places like Parma on Cleveland’s west side.
Still, Mr. Trump gave a quiet speech to a small audience at that Cleveland charter about the “ladder to success.”
“I define that,” he said, “as a great education and a great job.” He added: “You cannot have prosperity without safety. This is the new civil rights agenda of our time.”
One plausible explanation for this loyalty is that black Americans vote their interests. Franklin Roosevelt offered economic hope in the 1930s, and Lyndon Johnson passed the civil rights acts in the ’60s. Republicans got dropped from blacks’ voting calculations, which haven’t changed in 50 years.Again, why try? So strong is black support for the Democratic Party—well over 80% in every presidential election since 1964—that it has become a subject of study among political scientists who describe the black vote as “captured.”
It’s hard to know where Mr. Trump gets his political ideas, but worth noting is that he recruited former Texas Gov. Rick Perry as energy secretary.
Recall that in July 2015, when running for the GOP nomination, Mr. Perry gave an extraordinary speech imploring his party to campaign for the black vote and asking black voters to recognize how little they were getting now for their support of Democrats. “Why is it today,” he asked, “so many black families feel left behind?” A year later, Donald Trump was asking the same question.
Barack Obama will deliver his farewell speech in homicidal Chicago next week. The irony is hardly worth noting, and Mr. Obama will make the best case for himself. Several things, though, deserve mention before his departure.
For starters, urban blacks aren’t particularly happy about how things worked out with the Obama presidency. Reporting done on this has turned up disappointment with their progress.
In the eight years of the Obama presidency, all the familiar inner-city problems—unemployment, violence, underachievement—somehow got transferred to the issue of the police, as if the cops invented poverty and immobility in Chicago, Baltimore or Ferguson, Mo.
Less noticed, but as telling, is how much time the Obama departments of justice and labor spent filing lawsuits based on disparate-impact theory, which holds that discrimination is discoverable using arcane statistical analyses of housing patterns or lending practices.
If the party of Roosevelt, Kennedy and Johnson is raising up black America with statistics a half-century after the civil rights acts, it has run out of ideas on the way forward.
Black turnout for Hillary Clinton was down, but not just because she wasn’t Mr. Obama. It was, for example, because her proposals for their schools—more federal spending on building upgrades and teacher training—were familiar and for many of them, failed.
Could Donald Trump be the next FDR for black Americans? Choke down that gulp. Early Roosevelt was one thing—a president offering work. So is this one.
Restoring economic growth is the baseline. But for poor blacks it isn’t enough. Growth has passed over them before. Also needed is deliverance on two Trump promises that precede real jobs: “great education” and “safety.”
The potential in education with nominee Betsy DeVos is directly proportional to her opposition on charters and choice from the tongs defending the schools status quo.
Less noticed is Ben Carson. This isn’t just another housing secretary. The Carson mission, made clear in his primary campaign, is to challenge the idea that “structural racism” explains the dead end on urban progress.
It’s a heavy lift. Which is why presidencies drop it. These are the early days of a new presidency when hope is no sin. The expectation here is that Donald Trump meant what he said at that charter school in Cleveland.
3) Obama Abandoned the Middle East. Trump Can Help Revive It

Opportunities for American leadership in a region long beset with turmoil.

The forthcoming change in the White House could mark one of the greatest economic and political opportunities of our lifetime—rebuilding the Middle East. We don’t know what policies President-elect Trump plans for the region, but we have been waiting a long time for a U.S. administration to provide leadership.
Even if we didn’t agree with every move George W. Bush made, we understood that he considered the region a priority within a robust U.S. foreign policy. We had high hopes for Barack Obama, who, in his June 2009 Cairo speech, spoke eloquently about re-engaging with the region, a message received well by the Muslim world. But while the president’s rhetoric that day was stirring, the policies told us something else: The U.S. was abandoning the region.
The leadership void created by an America in retreat was filled by once-forgotten countries—Russia, China, Iran—taking a more active role, unnecessarily complicating geopolitical realities. Retreating U.S. leadership has also contributed to an intractable war in Syria and the worst refugee crisis since World War II. It has given us the scourge of Islamic State and proxy fights among neighborhood powers Iran and Saudi Arabia. Respect for American leadership has declined significantly throughout the region and skepticism runs high. For allies that aspire first and foremost to build and maintain a positive relationship with the U.S., it is getting harder to wait for America to step up.
The situation is urgent. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimates that more than 30% of the population in the Middle East and North Africa is between the ages of 15 and 24. Youth unemployment in the Middle East will reach 30% by 2018, as estimated by the International Labor Organization. Putting our youth to work would provide a positive outlook for our economies while reducing the hopelessness that can sometimes lead people to a darker path.
As a businessman who has a foot in both the Gulf and the U.S., I know firsthand the nexus of security and economic opportunity. As a father, I worry not only for our children’s safety, but also for the chance they will have to create a successful life of their own.
With the support of a Republican Congress, Mr. Trump can help reverse the current course in the Middle East. The power of American leadership is rooted in its values: justice, open markets, property rights, transparency, accountability, humanitarianism and zero tolerance for those that support and finance terrorism. The region needs unapologetic American guidance, mentoring and leadership to help diversify and modernize our economies and to create job opportunities. Rather than react to regional events, the U.S. must set the agenda.
Improving Middle East security will bring opportunities that lift the fortunes of all who participate, from American businesses to Middle Eastern investors and workers who have fallen victim to regional turmoil.
The World Bank estimates the cost to rebuild Syria is $180 billion, larger than the Marshall Plan’s $160 billion (in 2016 dollars). If you add rebuilding Iraq and Yemen, and America’s helping the broader Middle East to modernize our political, economic, educational, legal and regulatory systems, we have one of the greatest economic opportunities in modern history and one of the greatest political opportunities since the end of the Cold War.
Rebuilding the infrastructure, economies, educational and legal systems—and thus the very culture—of the Middle East is no simple task, but it is possible and starts with the U.S. setting a clear path for all to follow. Trust has been lacking between the U.S. and the Middle East, and Mr. Trump is uniquely positioned to restore it.
If Mr. Trump misses this opportunity, an America that has been fading from our memories and political calculations will be forgotten.
By Matt Bai (National Political Columnist)

I love a good real estate analogy, so naturally I had to admire the way Erick Erickson, the conservative blogger, recently described the last-minute flurry of actions emanating from the Obama White House. “Obama and John Kerry,” Erickson tweeted, “are like tenants who trash a place as they are being evicted.”

Except, in this case, the analogy is a few degrees off. The president isn’t really trashing anything.
It’s more like he’s hurriedly adding the bold, modernist touches his landlord always resisted — repainting walls, recessing lights, tearing up carpets and restaining floors — in hopes that the guy who’s moving in next won’t have the time or tenacity required to undo them.

Does Obama have the right in these waning days to govern like there’s no tomorrow (because, of course, there isn’t)? Does he retain the authority to rebuke Israel and smack the Russians, to protect vast expanses of public land while filling out scores of vacant seats on government commissions?
Of course he does. He’s still the president, after all.

Should he really be doing all these things on his way out the door? That seems to me a more complicated question.

I understand why a lot of people want the answer to be yes. While I don’t always agree with Obama or his party, I happen to think he’s right about the seriousness of Russian hacking and the cost of Israeli intransigence in the Middle East. These are issues — climate change is another — where Donald Trump would be well served to listen to his predecessor before firing off tweets as if he were riffing on “The Apprentice.”

I understand, too, that Obama actually boasts higher approval ratings than the incoming president (who, just by the way, kneels before any kind of approval rating, whether from Nielsen or Gallup, as if he were an Aztec and it were the sun). This is highly unusual during transitions, when the public generally embraces the new and unknown over the old and tattered, and I guess it could lend some legitimacy to Obama’s last-minute actions.

And, as my friend Michael Shear pointed out in his deft New York Times piece on the subject last weekend, there’s plenty of modern precedent for outgoing administrations establishing new policy or settling old debts. Bill Clinton pardoned everyone but the Manson gang; George W. Bush negotiated multiyear troop withdrawals. Obama is hardly the first president to feel liberated by obsolescence.

But the breadth of Obama’s farewell agenda goes beyond that of his predecessors, and in any event, he has never seemed to be a president guided by history as much as by his own sense of principle. In this case, some of those principles seem hard to reconcile.

Consider that Obama spent much of this past year insisting that his final Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, deserved a vote in the Senate — something Senate Republicans refused to give him, because they were determined to let Obama’s successor fill the vacancy instead.

Obama argued, essentially, that even if the Senate technically had the right to deny his nominee a fair hearing, it had a larger duty to respect the constitutional process. The people had chosen him to lead the executive branch, and Congress had an obligation to honor that choice right up until the moment the electorate made some other decision.
You know what? He was right.

But the same principle applies now. Sure, Obama has the authority, technically speaking, to govern as he sees fit right up until the day the moving vans pull away. But the people have spoken, and they’ve chosen, as the HR people say, to go in a different direction. I get how appalling that is to the White House, but Obama ought to respect it nonetheless.

(And before you start with me about the sanctity of the popular vote, yes, I know, the entirety of New York and California voted for the other candidate, but Trump swept the vast majority of the country’s land mass and the bulk of its most populous states, so if it were me, I’d save that particular argument for another election.)

We don’t have these transition periods because we want the outgoing president to set all kinds of new policy in the time he has left, with no accountability to voters. We have extended transitions so that someone can remain at the helm while the new administration gets up to speed on policy and scours the ranks of Goldman Sachs for more high-level hires.

Obama is a pretty deep thinker about the structures of government, so surely he knows that. My guess, judging from the conversations I’ve had with him over the years, is that he has to be a little conflicted about this last, desperate spate of policymaking. I’m guessing he’d rather not do it this way, but he feels some moral imperative to protect his legacy — and, yes, the country — from the worst of what Trump might do in his rush to reverse everything that came before.

But as Obama himself might put it, were he merely a spectator watching this unfold, the underlying structures of the republic are easy to safeguard when there’s no tangible cost. It’s much harder to respect the will of the voters when the human consequences seem, at least to you, potentially calamitous.

That’s precisely when you have to do it. That’s when it matters most.

Kerry should not have given his speech denouncing Israel. Obama should not be filling jobs at the last hour. It’s tempting to exploit the time you have left for maximum impact, but it’s also self-serving, and it’s bound to be fleeting.

Because if there’s one thing Obama should have learned from his futile strategy of governing by “phone and pen” — if there’s one thing that should be clear as Republicans prepare to obliterate much of his second term in a matter of hours — it’s that you can’t build anything lasting by executive fiat. Sooner or later, whatever you achieve with the flourish of a single pen is erased with about the same casual effort.
What history will most remember, unfortunately, is that you refused to stand down when the verdict was in. That’s no way for an otherwise graceful president to go out.
5) Liberal Logic

If a man says he’s Napoleon Bonaparte, he needs help, but if he says he’s a woman he’s perfectly sane and if anyone refuses to go along with him he’s being oppressed.

If 97% of scientists say that man made global warming is real anyone who disagrees should be put in prison. When 100% of scientists say that human life begins at conception it has nothing to do with abortion.

If Russia publishes true facts about Hillary it’s foreign interference in our election. If illegals, i.e. foreigners, vote in our election it’s a good thing.

Clubbing a baby seal to death is evil. Dismembering an unborn human girl without anesthetic is a societal good.
Getting water to California’s central valley farmers isn’t as important as protecting the delta smelt. It’s okay if wind turbines kill 4200 bald eagles each year.

Saying all lives matter is racist. Saying only black lives matter is not.

Russia revealing secrets about Hillary is evil. Hillary putting highly classified data on an insecure server is fine.
Exposing Hillary’s secrets is a foreign coup. The NYT's revealing highly classified anti-terror programs is heroic.
WikiLeaks is a source for truth justice and the American way if it’s exposing critical national security programs that have nothing to do with domestic surveillance. WikiLeaks is an agent of fascism if it reveals anything that Hillary wants hidden.

Electoral college electors ignoring how the people voted in their state is true democracy.

Fidel Castro, who wore military attire and got his power through a military campaign he led, is a beacon of freedom and truth. Retired American generals are unfit to serve in government.

It was racist to say that Obama’s lack of experience made him a poor candidate for president. Saying that Ben Carson doesn’t have the experience necessary to run HUD is a patriot’s duty.

Native Americans not expressing their concern at any of the 389 meetings the Army Corp of Engineers had with Native American Tribes in no way creates suspicion about why they’re protesting now.

Honest citizens who own guns are evil. Criminals who commit crimes while in possession of a gun should get shorter sentences than they do now.

92% of the victims of black criminals are black. Wanting to keep all criminals in jail longer is racist.
Any man who claims to feel he’s a woman at any given moment can use the women’s bathroom. 
Bill Clinton’s sexually harassing and possible raping women is irrelevant to his ability to be president. Trump’s apparently consensual immorality completely disqualifies him from being president.

Ignoring the thousands of blacks shot in Democrat run cities is not racist. Not being outraged when a cop shoots a black man in self-defense is racist.

Not caring that black women are 5 times as likely to abort their unborn baby than white women is not racist. Not wanting to fund abortion thereby protecting black lives is racist.

Opposing school competition in our inner cities is patriotic. Wanting to give black kids a chance to excel is racist because it hurts the teachers unions.

That NASA showed that the earth’s temperature was flat for 18 years and then suddenly reprocessed the data and found that the temperature was rising -- in contradiction to the satellite data -- raises no suspicions about the quality of the data.

The housing crisis was Bush’s fault even though Bush had called for reform of Frannie and Freddie two years earlier and was rebuffed by the Democratic Congress.

ISIS is Bush’s fault even though it was Obama who withdrew all U.S. forces from Iraq and didn’t force the Shia president of Iraq to treat the Sunni Iraqis fairly
The deficit of 2009 is all Bush’s fault even though it includes the $900,000,000 slush-money-for-my-friends “stimulus” package that Obama created.

Israel is our enemy because it doesn’t treat the Palestinians, who openly proclaim they want to commit genocide against Jews, perfectly. Iran is our friend even though they persecute all religious minorities in Iran.
It’s illegal to compel a gay baker to bake a cake with a pro-marriage message. It’s illegal for a Christian baker to be willing to serve gays but not be willing to bake a wedding cake for them.

Wanting to raise the tax rate of other people is charitable. People who want to keep the money they work for are selfish.
Government workers are smarter and better than regular Americans so it’s reasonable that they get paid more, have better benefits, and never ever get fired.

It’s great that the MSM declared open war on Trump but Fox News is evil for questioning Obama.
Anything that goes against the liberal narrative is malevolent “fake news”. Any news that comes from the MSM and has to be retracted is an honest mistake that in no way affects their credibility.

Giving oil companies the same tax breaks that all industries get is subsidizing them. Giving billions to companies that fail and are owned by Obama’s “green” energy cronies is “investing” in America.

A Supreme Court justice who cites foreign laws is a patriot. A Supreme Court justice who cites the Constitution is an extremist.
There’s nothing undemocratic in the Supreme Court overthrowing the laws of almost all states -- abortion and gay marriage. A later Supreme Court reversing those decisions would be treason.

Women are just as capable as men in every way and they are better because they are more reasonable and less violent. We need easier criteria for women who want to be fire fighters, Army Rangers, and cops because not doing so is sexist.

Women are oppressed in education even though more women than men are getting college degrees.
A woman in a job in an air-conditioned office should make as much as a man who works in the sewers, otherwise the system is sexist.
6) Opinion: Yes, there really is a coastal-elites bubble

Since the election, there have been all sorts of attempts to explain why the pundits’ predictions of an easy win for Hillary Clinton were so wrong. One of the explanations offered is that the opinion-makers in the mainstream media live in a bubble, detached from mainstream America. Some media types (including this Washington Post columnist) have suggested that news outlets should open more bureaus in middle America to combat this tendency toward coastal isolation. But just how acute is the problem of the coastal-elites bubble?
It turns out there’s a way to measure it. And the measurement tool was created by the man whose work on the stratification of American culture is a big help in understanding what happened in 2016.
I’m talking about the “bubble quiz” by Charles Murray, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute whose 2012 book “Coming Apart” remains a must-read. The quiz appears in the book, but after Murray appeared on PBS’ “NewsHour” last year, the broadcaster posted an adapted version of the quiz on its website (click here to take it). More than 142,000 people have taken the quiz since then, and last week Murray posted his conclusions about the (self-reported) results of quiz-takers.
First, a bit about the quiz. The point is to determine how insulated one is from mainstream American culture. The lower one’s score, on a scale of 0-100, the thicker one’s bubble. The average score from the PBS version is a 45. (For the record, I got a 54, which means my bubble is thinner than average but still pretty much in the middle nationally. See picture at right.)
Lo and behold, the thickest bubbles in America, as measured by the ZIP codes of the quiz respondents, exist right where you might expect: In the Northeast and on the West Coast.
You can see the entire listing here, but I’ll summarize the results:
·         Of the 100 thickest ZIP code bubbles, 34 are in the New York City metro area.
·         Next comes the Bay Area: 29 are in Silicon Valley or San Francisco.
·         Boston is next with 15, followed by Los Angeles (8). If you’re keeping track, that’s 86 of the top 100 in those four cities, with 14 in the entire rest of the country.
·         The most bubblicious city not on a coast is Chicago (4), in what is suddenly an isolated blue outpost in the Midwest. Then comes Philadelphia (2).
·         Eight cities have one of the top 100 ZIP codes: Baltimore, Houston, Miami, Pittsburgh, Providence, San Diego, Seattle and Washington.

All 100 of these ZIP codes had average scores below 30 on Murray’s 0-100 scale. In other words, they’re well below that national average of 45. If you’re surprised our nation’s capital had only one entry on the list, so was Murray. However, he noted the average score among the Washington elite who took the quiz was still below average: 33.8. Washington is indeed in a bubble compared to the rest of America; it just isn’t as thick a bubble as we see in New York, Boston, the Bay Area and L.A.
How does all this get back to the disconnect we saw in 2016? Here’s Murray:
“The people living in zip codes in the top two (socioeconomic status) percentiles include almost all of those who run the nation’s culture, economy, and politics. And that’s where the bubble scores plunge.”

And, in a follow-up piece he posted Tuesday, taking on the criticism that small-town Americans live in just as much of a bubble as urban elites:
“(I)t’s not just any old bubble that I’m interested in, but the bubble in which too many members of the new upper class live. The reason their bubble poses problems whereas the bubble in an ethnically homogeneous small town does not is an asymmetry of power. The people in ethnically homogeneous small towns don’t affect the lives of the new upper class. The new upper class pervasively affects the lives of all Americans everywhere, through their effects on the nation’s politics, economy, and culture. What we saw in the last presidential election was in part a result of the members of the new upper class being isolated in their bubbles. It would be good for the nation if they got out more.”
Indeed, only five of the top 100 ZIP codes for Murray’s bubble quiz are in states that went for Trump: the two in Philly, and the one apiece in Houston, Miami and Pittsburgh. The rest are in places that went heavily for Clinton: New York (59 percent), California (62 percent), Massachusetts (61 percent), Illinois (55 percent), Maryland (61 percent), Rhode Island (55 percent), Washington (54 percent), District of Columbia (93 percent).
If those are the states where our media and cultural elites live, is it any wonder they were flabbergasted Donald Trump won? Their peers and neighbors were nothing like the people in the majority of states, which went for Trump. Yes, they had opinion polls to back up their belief of a Clinton win, but their apparent inability even to conceive of a Trump win was born of more than those polls. Perhaps that’s why those of us living in less insulated areas, looking at the same polls, saw reason to believe Clinton was ahead but Trump was well within statistical striking distance.
But even more to the point, that bubble wasn’t just about not being able to foresee the election results. It was about being totally detached from the reasons voters opted for Trump. If you live in a world where everyone is prospering, cheering on rapid social changes, and benefiting (or at least not suffering) from the ever-greater power Washington, D.C., wields over the rest of us, you probably had a much harder time recognizing that people were ready to roll the dice on the changes Trump might bring.

Here’s the link to the article. The comments are very bubblicious.

Why the Anti-Israeli Sentiment?

Secretary of State John Kerry, echoing other policymakers in the Obama administration, blasted Israel last week in a 70-minute rant about its supposedly self-destructive policies.
Why does the world -- including now the U.S. -- single out liberal and lawful Israel but refrain from chastising truly illiberal countries?
Kerry has never sermonized for so long about his plan to solve the Syrian crisis that has led to some 500,000 deaths or the vast migrant crisis that has nearly wrecked the European Union.
No one in this administration has shown as much anger about the many thousands who have been killed and jailed in the Castro brothers' Cuba, much less about the current Stone Age conditions in Venezuela or the nightmarish government of President Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, an ally nation.
President Obama did not champion the cause of the oppressed during the Green Revolution of 2009 in Iran. Did Kerry and Obama become so outraged after Russia occupied South Ossetia, Crimea and eastern Ukraine?
Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power was never so impassioned over the borders of Chinese-occupied Tibet, or over Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus.
In terms of harkening back to the Palestinian "refugee" crisis that started in the late 1940s, no one talks today in similar fashion about the Jews who survived the Holocaust and walked home, only to find that their houses in Eastern Europe were gone or occupied by others. Much less do we recall the 11 million German civilians who were ethnically cleansed from Eastern Europe in 1945 by the Soviets and their imposed Communist governments. Certainly, there are not still "refugee" camps outside Dresden for those persons displaced from East Prussia 70 years ago.
More recently, few nations at the U.N. faulted the Kuwaiti government for the expulsion of 200,000 Palestinians after the liberation of Kuwait by coalition forces in 1991.
Yet on nearly every issue -- from "settlements" to human rights to the status of women -- U.N. members that routinely violate human rights target a liberal Israel.
When President Obama entered office, among his first acts were to give an interview with the Saudi-owned news outlet Al Arabiya championing his outreach to the mostly non-democratic Islamic world and to blast democratic Israel on "settlements."
Partly, the reason for such inordinate criticism of Israel is sheer cowardice. If Israel had 100 million people and was geographically large, the world would not so readily play the bully.
Instead, the United Nations and Europe would likely leave it alone -- just as they give a pass to human rights offenders such as Pakistan and Indonesia. If Israel were as big as Iran, and Iran as small as Israel, then the Obama administration would have not reached out to Iran, and would have left Israel alone.
Israel's supposed Western friends sort out Israel's enemies by their relative natural resources, geography and population -- and conclude that supporting Israel is a bad deal in cost/benefit terms.
Partly, the criticism of Israel is explained by oil -- an issue that is changing daily as both the U.S. and Israel cease to be oil importers.
Still, about 40 percent of the world's oil is sold by Persian Gulf nations. Influential nations in Europe and China continue to count on oil imports from the Middle East -- and make political adjustments accordingly.
Partly, anti-Israel rhetoric is due to herd politics.
The Palestinians -- illiberal and reactionary on cherished Western issues like gender equality, homosexuality, religious tolerance and diversity -- have grafted their cause to the popular campus agendas of race/class/gender victimization.
Western nations in general do not worry much about assorted non-Western crimes such as genocides, mass cleansings or politically induced famines. Instead, they prefer sermons to other Westerners as a sort of virtue-signaling, without any worries over offending politically correct groups.
Partly, the piling on Israel is due to American leverage over Israel as a recipient of U.S. aid. As a benefactor, the Obama administration expects that Israel must match U.S. generosity with obeisance. Yet the U.S. rarely gives similar "how dare you" lectures to less liberal recipients of American aid, such as the Palestinians for their lack of free elections.
Partly, the cause of global hostility toward Israel is jealousy. If Israel were mired in Venezuela-like chaos, few nations would care. Instead, the image of a proud, successful, Westernized nation as an atoll in a sea of self-inflicted misery is grating to many. And the astounding success of Israel bothers so many failed states that the entire world takes notice.
But partly, the source of anti-Israelism is ancient anti-Semitism.
If Israelis were Egyptians administering Gaza or Jordanians running the West Bank (as during the 1960s), no one would care. The world's problem is that Israelis are Jews. Thus, Israel earns negative scrutiny that is never extended commensurately to others.
Obama and his diplomatic team should have known all this. Perhaps they do, but they simply do not care.

No comments: