We’ll See (The Zen Master and the Boy)


In other words, and from another Tom Hanks movie, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get” – just more indirectly so:

* You’re happy Biden stepped aside so Hillary can run unopposed. You’re irritated that Bernie came out of nowhere and has unexpected support. Hillary nevertheless clinched the nom! Now Trump is president-elect.

“We’ll see.”




The difference in the 2016 election came down to: who felt more deeply disenfranchised, or potentially disenfranchised, and how many of them were there.

Turns out it was working class rustbelt whites (Ohio, Michigan), who have seen a declining quality of life, compared to minorities of various orientations nationwide – who still face much discrimination, but have seen progress over the past decade, and maybe had the sense that all was a matter of time – who felt the existential heat.

The partisans were going to be partisans, and talk about Supreme Court justices and around all kinds of racist/misogynistic comments, or about public policy and around questions of judgment regarding careless email use. That stuff wasn’t what made a difference in the swing states.

Obama foresaw this years ago even as a second-term president. But Hillary’s 2016 team pushed back against Bill Clinton’s advice to reach out. The parallels are buried in there if you’ve been consistent in paying attention and not just relying on social media echo-chamber fluff pieces or Fox/MSNBC:

2014: “Obama’s advisers are convinced that if the Republicans don’t find a way to attract non-white voters, particularly Hispanics and Asians, they may lose the White House for two or three more election cycles. And yet Obama still makes every effort to maintain his careful, balancing tone, as if the unifying moment were still out there somewhere in the middle distance. “There were times in our history where Democrats didn’t seem to be paying enough attention to the concerns of middle-class folks or working-class folks, black or white,” he said. “And this was one of the great gifts of Bill Clinton to the Party—to say, you know what, it’s entirely legitimate for folks to be concerned about getting mugged, and you can’t just talk about police abuse. How about folks not feeling safe outside their homes? It’s all fine and good for you to want to do something about poverty, but if the only mechanism you have is raising taxes on folks who are already feeling strapped, then maybe you need to widen your lens a little bit. And I think that the Democratic Party is better for it. But that was a process.”

David Remnick, “On and Off the Road with Barack Obama”, The New Yorker, January 2014


“The Clinton campaign decided early on that these voters—Reagan Democrats driven rightward by the Democratic Party’s focus on identity politics—were expendable, and focused instead on recreating the progressive, multiethnic coalition that won the White House for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. It was also, ultimately, a mistake—and one that Bill Clinton himself reportedly saw coming. The former president, whose natural affinity for the white working class won him the presidency in 1992 and reelection in 1996, repeatedly pushed his wife’s campaign to do more outreach to economically distressed white communities by prioritizing her populist economic message, according to The New York Times. But her advisors refused, believing that Hillary would do better by appealing to minorities and college-educated suburban voters. (In one particularly painful anecdote, Bill reportedly tried to convince Hillary to attend a prominent St. Patrick’s Day fund-raising dinner at the University of Notre Dame, an event that Obama gladly attended. Her team told the event’s organizers that “white Catholics were not the audience she needed to spend time reaching out to.”) After Bill Clinton tangled with Black Lives Matter protesters at a campaign rally in April, the campaign began using the former president sparingly, worried that he might further alienate minority voters.



Joe Biden wants to make sure Democrats don’t give up on Trump voters, 22 Oct 2016

“A year ago Friday he gave up his own presidential ambition, announcing that his son’s death had made a bid for the highest office emotionally impossible. Instead, after months of introspection, he is pouring his energy into a fight that he thinks will help Democrats this year but also continuing his effort to convince them not to give up on white working-class voters who were once the party’s core, and whose support has fueled the insurgent candidacy of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.





“It occurred to him that his friends did not know much about America, about how deep the evangelical streak was.”







My big boss made this distinction once- he said intelligence is actually fairly common, but judgment is much more rare. He then defined judgment as coming from an ability to step outside your own shoes and see a thing from different perspectives.

I get a lot of “Trump isn’t stupid.” I don’t think he is, either. I think he’s a smart guy – but that’s not the point. Very, very smart people have been making bad decisions for all eternity.




->  Peripheral Vision

How we were shocked at the election outcomes – digital echo chambers.




Echo chambers -> Precise (affirming) but Inaccurate (wrong) predictions







Why many “elites” did not see it coming, but Bubba, a redneck from Arkansas, and Barack, the child of a single mother, who “made it” to the elite but were not of it, were concerned by the loss of white working class support for Democrats.

January 21, 2012

AMERICA is coming apart. For most of our nation’s history, whatever the inequality in wealth between the richest and poorest citizens, we maintained a cultural equality known nowhere else in the world—for whites, anyway.

But there’s a problem: It’s not true anymore, and it has been progressively less true since the 1960s…

If you were an executive living in Belmont in 1960, income inequality would have separated you from the construction worker in Fishtown, but remarkably little cultural inequality. You lived a more expensive life, but not a much different life. Your kitchen was bigger, but you didn’t use it to prepare yogurt and muesli for breakfast. Your television screen was bigger, but you and the construction worker watched a lot of the same shows (you didn’t have much choice). Your house might have had a den that the construction worker’s lacked, but it had no StairMaster or lap pool, nor any gadget to monitor your percentage of body fat. You both drank Bud, Miller, Schlitz or Pabst, and the phrase “boutique beer” never crossed your lips. You probably both smoked. If you didn’t, you did not glare contemptuously at people who did.

When you went on vacation, you both probably took the family to the seashore or on a fishing trip, and neither involved hotels with five stars. If you had ever vacationed outside the U.S. (and you probably hadn’t), it was a one-time trip to Europe, where you saw eight cities in 14 days—not one of the two or three trips abroad you now take every year for business, conferences or eco-vacations in the cloud forests of Costa Rica.

Even the income inequality that separated you from the construction worker was likely to be new to your adulthood. The odds are good that your parents had been in the working class or middle class, that their income had not been much different from the construction worker’s, that they had lived in communities much like his, and that the texture of the construction worker’s life was recognizable to you from your own childhood.

Taken separately, the differences in lifestyle that now separate Belmont from Fishtown are not sinister, but those quirks of the upper-middle class that I mentioned—the yogurt and muesli and the rest—are part of a mosaic of distinctive practices that have developed in Belmont. These have to do with the food Belmonters eat, their drinking habits, the ages at which they marry and have children, the books they read (and their number), the television shows and movies they watch (and the hours spent on them), the humor they enjoy, the way they take care of their bodies, the way they decorate their homes, their leisure activities, their work environments and their child-raising practices. Together, they have engendered cultural separation.

It gets worse. A subset of Belmont consists of those who have risen to the top of American society. They run the country, meaning that they are responsible for the films and television shows you watch, the news you see and read, the fortunes of the nation’s corporations and financial institutions, and the jurisprudence, legislation and regulations produced by government. They are the new upper class, even more detached from the lives of the great majority of Americans than the people of Belmont—not just socially but spatially as well. The members of this elite have increasingly sorted themselves into hyper-wealthy and hyper-elite ZIP Codes that I call the SuperZIPs.

Why have these new lower and upper classes emerged? For explaining the formation of the new lower class, the easy explanations from the left don’t withstand scrutiny. It’s not that white working class males can no longer make a “family wage” that enables them to marry. The average male employed in a working-class occupation earned as much in 2010 as he did in 1960. It’s not that a bad job market led discouraged men to drop out of the labor force. Labor-force dropout increased just as fast during the boom years of the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s as it did during bad years….

Meanwhile, the formation of the new upper class has been driven by forces that are nobody’s fault and resist manipulation. The economic value of brains in the marketplace will continue to increase no matter what, and the most successful of each generation will tend to marry each other no matter what. As a result, the most successful Americans will continue to trend toward consolidation and isolation as a class…

The only thing that can make a difference is the recognition among Americans of all classes that a problem of cultural inequality exists and that something has to be done about it.








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