Monday, December 26, 2016

A Trump Victory? How did THAT happen! Part 1.

There is one clear and undeniable conclusion about the 2016 presidential election everyone, regardless of political stripes or polka dots, should agree on. The media and political minded pundits and experts will be debating what happened and more importantly why it happened for years to come. I am no expert, but I do have some ideas. I may even have insights. I actually did do actual research. I read. I crunched statistics. I consulted tea leaves and mediums. In short, I left no turn unstoned.

I found the above graph in an article from the Washington Post. Of all such graphs, charts, and tea leave cup residue I looked at, this was the most informative and compelling. I have added US census data concerning the number of house holds in each income bracket, but beyond that what you see is exactly what WAPO published.

This graphic is really fairly easy to read and understand, but I will go over it anyway. Consider those with a house hold income more than $200,00.00. In 2004 Republicans, under GW Bush, Republicans received nearly 30% more votes than Democrats. Another way of saying that is Republicans won nearly 80% of those votes. In 2008, Obama moved that demographic hugely, going from losing by just under 30% to winning by just over 5%. That is a huge movement within this demographic, a turnaround of 35%. This is the biggest change in a single voting demographic on a percentage basis in four election cycles. Romney reversed that in 2012 winning by 10%. Trump lost ground with this demographic when compared to Romney, winning by under 2%.

The more than $200,00.00 income demographic represents just 5.6% of house holds in the US. When you are talking about winning 30% of a 5.6% demographic that would roughly correspond to 1.7% of all votes. That would be the true significance of this demographic. Critical only in a close election.

Far more significant to the 2008 election were the gains Obama made in the three lowest income brackets compared to 2004. 2008 saw shifts of about 13% in demographics representing nearly 75% of US house holds. That roughly translates to about 9.7% of all votes. Round that to 10% for ease of thinking. This is truly significant.. Such a shift turns a 50/50 draw into a 40/60 blow out. 

Fast forward to 2016. While 2008 represented a high water mark for democrats in all demographics, those gains over the 2004 results stayed in place for the most part, dissipating somewhat in three demographics and actually increasing in one, except for one crucial demographic. The under $30,000.00 a year demographic, under Trump, represented a complete reversal of the Obama 2008 gains to the point Democrats lost support overall. Trump out performed GW Bush in 2004 by nearly 4%, out performed Romney by about 15%, and out performed Obama's 2008 total by about 19%.

The 2008 shift was significant on every level, in every income demographic. If the 2016 election cycle can be viewed as a referendum on the Obama years, democrats did achieve lasting gains for all income groups over $49,000. However, they were unable to tip the scales on the upper income groups and more importantly they actually lost ground with Americans in the lowest income bracket.

That loss of support in low income Americans is the most significant and the most surprising result of the 2016 election. It dwarfs any shift on either a percentage of demographic basis or on the basis of total numbers of voters when compared with any other statistic. Nothing compares to it. Not race, sex, income level, or any other means of parsing votes into little blocks. The most significant change in the minds of voters came from low income voters.

This result is pretty ironic when you consider the messaging the Democratic party has been throwing out over the past eight years. Rich people are not paying their fair share. The system is rigged to favor the 1%. White people are the root of all evil and are unfairly advantaged by "white privilege". America is racist. Yet, the Obama years represent a net loss for Democrats among low income voters. The very people such messaging targets. How can this be?

I will leave you to consider that in light of what I have just shown. I will take up speculating on the why's of it in A Trump Victory? How did that happen! Part 2.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Of Scooby Doo and Pocahontas with a Side of Hillary

Now that all the post election brouhaha, spin, and gyration is over and we now know what we knew to be true over a month ago, it is time now to think about the future. Specifically, assuming Trump goes for term #2, who do we want the democrats to run for Prez in 2020? I know it seems a bit early to be thinking about such things. You are probably thinking I should be thinking about what Trump is going to do come January 20th. Actually, no. That would really just be rehashing old thoughts. I supported Trump. I voted for him both in the general election and in the primaries. I did so because I believed he would do a creditable job, because I support major parts of what he was saying, and because I thought he would win against Hillary. Actually, I thought candidate wise, Hillary was pretty much a turd sandwich. That does sound a little harsh, but I would remind you of just one little fact. Millions of Democratic voters thought the same thing.
I was convinced early on Hillary would win the Democratic nomination despite being such a turd sandwich. Most people knew that I think. Well, except for Bernie supports. I think most people now know that particular turd sandwich was the preordained turd sandwich Democrats would be voting for in 2016. That choice was prepared for you starting back in 2008, when she was named Secretary of state. They were writing the script. She was supposed to preside over 8 years of success. Ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Re-ending the cold war by resetting relations with Russia. Eight years later Russia is now our foe numero uno. The war in Afghanistan is still going strong and not very well. Not only is the war in Iraq not over, it has expanded into something that will be going on for years to come. Plus we now have the Syrian crisis and ISIS is running rampant in 28 countries around the world. Europe is reeling from one terror attack after another. Libya has collapsed into anarchy.  And Hillary didn't even make it through the eight years. She bailed after four. Could have been health related, could have been Benghazi related, could have been a mix of both and more. However that really worked out, and we never really know those things for sure, she did not make through the eight year script. That should have been a clue for the makers of scripts. 
Speaking of scripts, the Republicans were supposed to run a turd sandwich of their own. I am talking about Jeb. Jeb was our anointed turd sandwich. What were they thinking? Then again, they did give us McCain in 2008 and Romney in 2012.....turd sandwiches both. What am I thinking? And it would have worked too if it wasn't for those darned....sorry, I just had a Scooby Doo moment.
The Democrats had their own version of Scooby Doo and the gang in 2016, but unlike Trump, Bernie Doo was unable to pull off the upset. Personally I think Bernie was also a turd sandwich, but he was not the anointed turd sandwich. That is a big distinction. Bernie would not have won either. If he had gotten the nomination he would have upset the Democratic party elite's apple cart. It would have perhaps changed the Democrat party. They would still have lost in 2016 but it would have perhaps set them up to choose a decent candidate for 2020. As it is, since the party will continue living in a Pelosi / Feinstein / Boxer cloud they will no doubt proffer yet another turd sandwich in 2020.
I want that horrible candidate, that turd sandwich, to be Elizabeth Warren.
Now you could be all cynical on me. You could assume I am hoping they will select another highly unlikeable, sour sounding woman. You could assume I am being analytical. Elizabeth Warren is yet another Democrat who is very popular with the party base. Yet, she is very unpopular with people who are not Democrats. She could very well represent another bubble candidate. By bubble I refer to the echo chamber the Democrats have with the media. The same one that had them convinced a Hillary presidency was a fait accompli. You would be wrong on all counts.
I just want to hear Trump call Elizabeth Warren Pocahontas for a year and a half. I think it would be the most hilarious election of my life time.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Christmas Memories

Christmas time is almost here, and as I sit here before our Christmas tree in this house with my wife of fifteen months, with my 18 old daughter just coming home from her first job, I begin to reflect. Christmas has changed so much. It isn't what it once was. Time has marched on. Rust never sleeps.

Long ago my father used to drive us around looking at Christmas lights. We used to go to a Grandmother's house or an Uncle and Aunts house and celebrate. We used to go caroling. We used to go to candle light services at our church.

So many memories, it is hard to even list them all. It is the last one, the church services at our old home town church, I want to talk about.

Ours was one of the largest churches in our hometown. It was home to a wonderful choir and some really good amateur singers. The services they did at Christmas were simply amazing. More people would show up for them than would attend Sunday services. By a large margin. They were that good. For the most part. There was, however, one part. It was a yearly ritual, a tradition. There was an elderly lady named Betty who was a musical fixture in our church, who sang solo whenever there was a musical performance. Year after year, season after season, she sang. Everyone talked about how amazing she was. Men would shout out "Amen!" when she was done. Me, I was tempted to shout out "Praise the Lord!!!", not because of how her performance had moved me. Because she was finally done. Because it was over. I guess enough time has passed, enough people have passed, that I can finally admit it. She was a lousy singer.

Oh, I am sure when she was young, like maybe back in the 50's or something, she was a fine singer. In the back then days when I heard her sing, I believe those days were long past gone. Her voice was......irritating, grating, just awful. There was a friend of mine back then I confided in about this I told him her voice sounded like someone playing a trumpet that had a big piece of aluminum foil wrapped over the end. Kind of like one of those old electric football games with a metal field that vibrated and the little players would buzz around in circles. It was the sound of bumble bees buzzing around trapped in coke cans. It grated like fingernails on blackboards. It was two chucks of styrofoam being rubbed together by a malicious demon possessed toddler. It was awful.

Every Christmas she sang the exact same song. Sweet little Jesus boy. Sunday nights she would sing songs such as "the world treat you bad, he treat you good". The same songs over and over again. And always, always, the men would shout out "amen!" when she was done. I wondered. Was it just me? Did no one else hear what I was hearing? My father, who was often merciless in talking about stuff, never complained. Not once.

No, it wasn't just me. Others felt and thought the same. Several people I knew and talked with on the sly said the same thing. The fact of the matter is this lady, who I am sure was really very talented and as I said was probably a fine singer when young, just never entertained the notion of stepping aside to let younger more able singers carry on. She had been torturing the faithful for years, long before I and my family landed there. I guess no one had the nerve to say "hey, maybe we should let someone else take a shot at that". It was a tradition after all. And maybe those older guys shouting out "amen!" despite how awful it was understood what hearing those shouted amens meant to her. Maybe they understood how as long as the song director heard guys shouting out "amen!" he was unlikely to bring her church solo singing career to an end.

Maybe having the best singer up there singing wasn't really the point. Maybe my enjoying or not enjoying the performance wasn't really the point either. Sometimes, when someone loves what they are doing so much, you just have to let them keep doing it. Even when they can no longer do it as well as they once did or when there are others who can do it better. Because you really should respect people, especially older people. And after all, a few minutes of musical torture isn't all that big a price to pay if it makes someone really, really happy.

I guess it is a good thing that was all up to folks who were both older and wiser than I was. I, placing entertainment above compassion, would have certainly made the wrong call.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Fly Me Courageous

I was just reading an older article by a favorite writer of mine about flying and being afraid of flying. It was a pretty good read. I have flown a fair number of times. A lot of people have, so there isn't anything that special about it. Early on in my flying career I was really frightened about the entire thing. I do not like heights, they are not my thing. But after so many flights I started learning how to relax. Later on I actually got to where I enjoyed the flying part ...almost as much as the landing has just ended part. I never really got around to liking the trudging through the parking lot part though.

You see nothing really bad ever happened. Obviously. I am still here. I got to thinking. What was my worst, most scariest experience flying? That one is easy. It was the time I flew into Atlanta from Bristol. There was this huge summer thunderstorm sitting right on Hartsfield. We circled the airport for what felt like hours, bouncing over thermals and banking ominously through the suddenly dark spaces created by dense clouds of rain, waiting for the wind to generate enough static electricity to create a massive lightning bolt and blow us from the sky. At least that is how it looked to me.
I was really doing reasonably okay until I decided to get brave and look out the window. You couldn't see the ground for all the grey clouds and for the moment we were in bright sunlight away from higher thunder clouds. That was when I made my mistake. For some reason I imagined Wile E Coyote falling through the clouds, cutting a Wile E Coyote silhouette where he passed, just like all those cartoons. That was really all it took. I was done after that.

Well, it was my favorite landing anyway.