The ‘Rotten Equilibrium’ of Republican Politics

the 20 most prosperous districts are now held by Democrats, while Republicans represent 16 of the 20 least prosperous, measured by share of G.D.P. The accompanying chart illustrates their analysis.

.. The authors’ calculation of the contribution to the G.D.P. of every congressional district showed that Democratic districts produce $10.2 trillion of the nation’s goods and services and Republican districts $6.2 trillion.

This trend creates a significant dilemma for Trump and the Republican Party. Candidates on the right do best during hard times and in recent elections, they have gained the most politically in regions experiencing the sharpest downturn. Electorally speaking, in other words, Republicans profit from economic stagnation and decline.

Let’s return to John Austin of the Michigan Economic Center. In an email he describes this unusual situation succinctly: “A rising economic tide tends to sink the Trump tugboat,” adding

“Certainly more people and communities that are feeling abandoned, not part of a vibrant economy means more fertile ground for the resentment politics and ‘blaming others’ for people’s woes (like immigrants and people of color) that fuel Trump’s supporters.”

The small- and medium-sized factory towns that dot the highways and byways of Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin have lost their anchor employers and are struggling to fill the void. Many of these communities, including once solidly Democratic-voting, union-heavy, blue collar strongholds, flipped to Trump in 2016.

This pattern is not limited to the United States. There are numerous studies demonstrating that European and British voters who are falling behind in the global economy, and who were hurt by the 2008 recession and the subsequent cuts to the welfare state, drove Brexit as well as the rise of right-wing populist parties.

..In a July 2018 paper, “Did Austerity Cause Brexit?” Thiemo Fetzer, an economist at the University of Warwick in Coventry, England, argues that austerity policies adopted in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse were crucial both to voter support for the right-wing populist party UKIP in Britain and to voter approval of Brexit.

the EU referendum (Brexit) could have resulted in a Remain victory had it not been for a range of austerity-induced welfare reforms. These reforms activated existing economic grievances. Further, auxiliary results suggest that the underlying economic grievances have broader origins than what the current literature on Brexit suggests. Up until 2010, the UK’s welfare state evened out growing income differences across the skill divide through transfer payments. This pattern markedly stops from 2010 onward as austerity started to bite

.. The results here and in England reinforce the conclusion that the worse things get, the better the right does.

As a rule, as economic conditions improve and voters begin to feel more secure, they become more generous and more liberal. In the United States, this means that voters move to the left; in Britain, it means voters are stronger in their support for staying in the European Union.

The Truth About Cardinal McCarrick

The Catholic Church needs an inquest into what the pederast cardinal’s colleagues knew, and when.

..  The first written accusation (that we know of) was filed by one of his priests in 1994, addressed to McCarrick’s successor as the Bishop of Metuchen; the priest who complained was transferred to another diocese while his abuser’s rise continued.

By the end of that decade, McCarrick’s sexual misbehavior (if perhaps not its full scope) was known by enough people that a group of American laypeople went to Rome to petition against his appointment as archbishop of Washington, D.C., and at least one New York priest, Father Boniface Ramsey, sent a letter to the Vatican offering a similar warning.

.. the Washington archbishop became the avuncular, reassuring media point person for his fellow bishops, issuing statements of concern and condemnation that if he really feared the punishments of hell would have turned to ashes in his mouth.

.. Then in 2005 and again in 2007, two New Jersey dioceses settled privately with two men alleging abuse or harassment at McCarrick’s hands. This presumably expanded substantially the number of people who knew about his crimes. Yet nothing was said publicly by the church about these settlements; McCarrick retired with his reputation intact, and was even permitted to live at a seminary.

..  When Pope Francis was elected, he became an eminence grise, whose lobbying helped elevate several of the new pope’s choices for high office in the American church — including the new cardinal archbishop of Newark, Joseph Tobin, and the head of the Vatican dicastery for family life, Kevin Farrell, both of whom considered McCarrick a mentor.

.. In other words, two decades after McCarrick should have been removed from his offices, defrocked and handed over to the civil authorities, he was instead wielding remarkable influence in the church … right up until the moment when a lifetime’s worth of crimes were finally dragged into the light.

.. which probably requires an investigator with a mandate from the pope himself.

.. they can do only so much if the necessary witnesses still feel that the institutional church will not protect them, if they fear their superiors will punish them for telling all the truth.

..  the Catholic bishops are now somewhat protected from media scrutiny by virtue of their increasing unimportance.

.. There are a few American bishops still with media platforms, a few with intellectual chops. But many of the notional leaders of the church are important only within the bureaucracies they manage and as invisible to the average churchgoer as a Target regional vice president would be to the average weekend shopper at the superstore.

.. the kind of crimes once covered up because of the power and influence of bishops might now be swept under quickly because of the episcopacy’s obscurity and irrelevance.

.. whether they are happy with this settlement — happy to be ignored so long as they can also evade accountability for what’s still rotten in the church, happy to serve out their time as stewards of a declining institution rather than demanding the heads of the men whose culpable ignorance made the decline much steeper than it should have been.

 

 

What Is the Democratic Story?

Choosing between a focus on race or class is the wrong choice to begin with.

.. There’s a lot of discussion about how far left the Democratic Party should go these days. Is it destroying its electoral chances when its members call for a single-payer health plan or abolishing ICE?

That’s an important question, but the most important question is what story is the Democratic Party telling?

.. As Alasdair MacIntyre argued many years ago, you can’t know what to do unless you know what story you are a part of. Story is more important than policies.

.. The story Donald Trump tells is that we good-hearted, decent people of Middle America have been betrayed by stupid elites who screw us and been threatened by foreigners who are out to get us.

.. Back in the 1980s, the Democrats told two different stories. One was the compassion story associated with Mario Cuomo and Ted Kennedy: Too many Americans are poor, marginalized and left behind. We must care for our brothers and sisters because we are all one family.

.. The other was the brainpower/meritocracy story associated with Gary Hart and later the New Democrats: Americans are masters at innovation. We must use our best minds to come up with innovative plans to solve our problems and head into a new technological century.

I don’t hear those two stories much anymore. The Democrats are emphasizing fighting grit these days, not compassion or technocratic expertise.

Today’s Democrats tell two other stories.

  1. The first is the traditional socialist story associated with Bernie Sanders: America is rived by the class conflict. The bankers and the oligarchs are exploiting the middles. We need a fighter who will go out and battle concentrated economic power.
  2. The second is the multicultural story: American history has been marked by systems of oppression. Those who have been oppressed — women, African-Americans, Latinos — need to stand together and fight for justice.

.. Racial justice socialism seems to be the story of the contemporary left. This story effectively paints Trump as the villain on all fronts, and Democrats do face the distinct problem of how to run against a bully like Trump. But is it good politics for the entire Democratic Party to embrace it?

.. no national Democrat has ever fully embraced this story successfully. In fact, Democrats like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama went to great lengths to assure people they were not embracing this story.

  • .. They did because Americans trust business more than the state, so socialism has never played well.
  • They did it because if you throw race into your economic arguments you end up turning off potential allies in swing states like Wisconsin, Iowa and Pennsylvania.
  • They did it because if you throw economics into your race arguments you end up dividing your coalitions on those issues.

In brief, Democrats have stayed away from this narrative because the long hoped-for alliance between oppressed racial minorities and the oppressed white working class has never materialized, and it looks very far from materializing now.

.. for 100 years, Democrats have tended to win with youthful optimism and not anger and indignation.

.. The Democrats who have won nationally almost all ran on generational change — on tired old America versus the possibilities of new America:

  • F.D.R.’s New Deal,
  • J.F.K.’s New Frontier,
  • Bill Clinton’s bridge to the 21st century and
  • Obama’s hope and change.

If I had to advise on a Democratic narrative I’d start with three premises:

  1. First, by 2020 everybody will be exhausted by the climate of negativism and hostility.
  2. Second, the core long-term fear is American decline; are we losing our mojo?
  3. Third, communities and nations don’t come together when they talk about their problems; they come together when they do something on behalf of their children.

Maybe the right narrative could be rebuilding social mobility for the young: America is failing its future. We need to rally around each other to build the families, communities, schools, training systems and other structures to make sure the next generation surpasses this one. People are doing this at the local level, and we need a series of unifying projects to make national progress.

.. This story pushes people toward reconciliation. It is future-oriented.

Everybody Should Be Very Afraid of the Disney Death Star

The first episode of the Streaming Wars is over. The rebels won. Now the empire strikes back.

Disney also acquires a majority stake in the TV product Hulu, which it may use to kickstart its entry into the streaming wars.

These additions would enrich an overflowing treasury at Disney, whose assets includes Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar, ABC, ESPN, the world’s most popular amusement parks, and, of course, its classic animated-film division

.. The deal allows Rupert Murdoch, the billionaire patriarch behind 21st Century Fox, to consolidate his own kingdom—and his legacy—around the very place where he got his start: news.

.. Streaming video has conquered pay TV and created a generation of cord-cutters; the youngest Millennials (those in their late teens and early 20s) watch 50 percent less traditional television .. than people that age did in 2010.

.. For media and entertainment companies, there is one big existential question: Get big and stream, or give up and sell?

.. Traditional television is a pure gerontocracy. The only age demo watching more TV than in 2010 are eligible for Medicare.

.. You could say Disney is spending $60 billion for a risky makeover to appeal to a younger demographic, while Murdoch is using the money to install a golden stair lift.

.. Disney’s long-term strategy is, like Netflix, to own the means of distributing its content. What’s more, this deal is a “horizontal” merger

.. With this deal, Disney would control as much as 40 percent of the the U.S. movie business

.. Its control of the sports-television landscape, between the regional sports networks and ESPN, might be even more concentrated

.. Hollywood studios should be afraid to compete with a corporate Goliath that could earn half of all domestic box-office revenue in a good year.

.. Every tech company should be afraid to get into a content war with a company that combines the

  • top blockbuster movie studio, with a
  • top prestige-film company, with a
  • world-class television production company, with the
  • most valuable franchises—Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar, and X-Men—in the world.

.. In the last fiscal year ending in October, Disney’s made $55 billion in revenue, with about 60 percent coming from television and film (the rest came from parks, resorts, and merchandise). That 60 percent is endangered: Box-office ticket sales have been flat or declining for years, and television is in obvious structural decline

Lupita Nyong’o: Speaking Out About Harvey Weinstein

he informed me that we would be having lunch at a restaurant before getting to his home. I did not think much of this. It was a busy restaurant, and as soon as we sat down he ordered a vodka and diet soda for himself. I asked for a juice. Harvey was unimpressed with my choice and told the waiter to bring me a vodka and diet soda instead. I declined and said I wanted the juice. We went back and forth until finally he turned to the waiter and said, “Get her what I tell you to get her. I’m the one paying the bill.” I smiled and remained silent. The waiter left and returned with a vodka and diet soda for me. He placed it on the table beside my water. I drank the water. Harvey told me that I needed to drink the vodka and diet soda. I informed him that I would not.

“Why not?” I remember him asking. “Because I don’t like vodka, and I don’t like diet soda, and I don’t like them together,” I said. “You are going to drink that,” he insisted. I smiled again and said that I wouldn’t. He gave up and called me stubborn. I said, “I know.” And the meal proceeded without much further ado. In this second encounter with Harvey, I found him to be pushy and idiosyncratic more than anything.

.. he insisted I go with him, laying down the law as though I too was one of his children.

.. I was after all on his premises, and the members of his household, the potential witnesses, were all (strategically, it seems to me now) in a soundproof room.

.. He responded with exactly the words I needed to hear: Come with whomever you want to come with. And so I invited two of my trusted male friends.

.. My friends had been equally charmed by Harvey. He knew when to turn it on if he wanted something. He was definitely a bully, but he could be really charming, which was disarming and confusing. I left feeling that perhaps he had learned my boundaries and was going to respect them.

.. I was expecting that it would be a group of us, as it had been for the reading, but she informed me it would just be Mr. Weinstein. She would sit with me until he arrived. She seemed on edge, but I could only imagine how stressful it was to work for a man who had so much going on.

.. Harvey arrived and the assistant immediately disappeared.

.. Again he was offended by my nonalcoholic beverage choice but he didn’t fight me on it as hard.

.. Before the starters arrived, he announced: “Let’s cut to the chase. I have a private room upstairs where we can have the rest of our meal.” I was stunned. I told him I preferred to eat in the restaurant. He told me not to be so naïve. If I wanted to be an actress, then I had to be willing to do this sort of thing. He said he had dated Famous Actress X and Y and look where that had gotten them.

.. I mustered up the courage to politely decline his offer. “You have no idea what you are passing up,” he said. “With all due respect, I would not be able to sleep at night if I did what you are asking, so I must pass,” I replied.

.. “I just want to know that we are good,” I said.

“I don’t know about your career, but you’ll be fine,” he said. It felt like both a threat and a reassurance at the same time; of what, I couldn’t be sure.

.. I was in Toronto for the premiere of “12 Years a Slave,” the first feature film I was in. At an after-party, he found me and evicted whoever was sitting next to me to sit beside me.

.. I turned down the role, but Harvey would not take no for an answer. While at Cannes, he insisted on meeting with me in person. I agreed to do it only because my agent would be present.

.. He said he was open to making it bigger, more significant, maybe they could add a love scene. He said if I did this one for him, he would do another one for me — basically guaranteeing backing a star-vehicle film for me. I ran out of ways of politely saying no and so did my agent

.. But I also did not know that there was a world in which anybody would care about my experience with him.

.. He was one of the first people I met in the industry, and he told me, “This is the way it is.”

.. everyone seemed to be bracing themselves and dealing with him, unchallenged.

..  I did not know that anybody wanted things to change. So my survival plan was to avoid Harvey and men like him at all costs, and I did not know that I had allies in this.

.. all the projects I have been a part of have had women in positions of power, along with men who are feminists in their own right who have not abused their power

.. combating the shame we go through that keeps us isolated and allows for harm to continue

.. stay vigilant and ensure that the professional intimacy is not abused

.. I hope we can form a community where a woman can speak up about abuse and not suffer another abuse by not being believed and instead being ridiculed. That’s why we don’t speak up — for fear of suffering twice

Interesting Takes on Trump and the NFL

“Are you criticizing Mike Tomlin?” No, no, no. I know what Mike Tomlin was trying to do by keeping the team in the locker room: Keep ’em away from the controversy. I totally understand that. Tomlin doesn’t want any part of this. It’s obvious. He doesn’t want some of his players going out there and doing whatever is fashionable to do now. He wanted to keep away from this. In fact, I kind of admire, “If this is what the pregame has become, we’re not gonna do the pregame.”

.. “I want to protect the players from having to make a choice.” Well, making a choice is what they’ve been doing. What he wanted to do was protect the Steelers organization from being part of this. That’s admirable.

I mean, he sees what’s going on; he sees it’s a distraction.

.. Lowry says, “He takes a commonly held sentiment — most people don’t like the NFL protests — and states it in an inflammatory way guaranteed to get everyone’s attention and generate outrage among his critics. When those critics lash back at him, Trump is put in the position of getting attacked for” defending America. There’s no way he loses. I don’t care what you all in the media think. I don’t care what Goodell thinks. You know, Goodell said, “I’ve never been prouder of our league than the way we handled this yesterday.”

.. the NFL, I actually think, is the useful idiots in the political battle that’s being waged with it, to it and against it. And I don’t know if they understand what’s happening, just like Hillary still doesn’t know what happened to her. I don’t know that the NFL understands what’s happening to it. I really don’t think they do.

.. When it starts to fade away, the first thing that happened to you if not careful is denial: “It’s temporary. We’ll get it back. It’s the hurricanes. It was the election.” But the numbers keep sliding. It wasn’t the hurricane. It wasn’t just the election. It’s something more basic. “Of course, NFL owners firing players on the spot for protesting isn’t necessarily common sense, but this is where ‘seriously, not literally’ comes in” with Trump.

..  “Trump’s statement registers for his supporters merely as forceful opposition to the protests, not as a specific plan of action.” Bingo. Bingo. Trump supporters to this day are not understood. They are still impugned and mocked and laughed at.

.. But they have grown tired of a country they love as being under assault as unjust or immoral or illegitimate. They’re fed up with it. Their president defends it, defends them. The specifics don’t matter. There is finally somebody speaking up for America. “But, Rush! But, Rush! The protesters are speaking up for America.” They may think so, but they’re not, in the eyes of most NFL fans. They’re not speaking up for America. This is not complicated, either.

..  “[W]hen Trump is criticized and doesn’t back down it is taken by his supporters as a sign of strength. If a political consultant came up with this strategy, he’d deserve a huge raise. But it’s just Trump himself operating on instinct.”

Rich Lowry, National Review: you don’t know what an admission, realization this is. This is essentially, I mean, why Donald Trump is president. Donald Trump instinctively knows where the heart of America is.

.. This is not player generated, player started. There are all kinds of activists behind this. And if their objective is to wound and weaken, diminish the NFL, the fastest away to do it is to encourage behavior that’s gonna drive the fan base away.

.. “I have friends who didn’t care for Trump at all who re-watched that rally in Alabama, and they’re laughing. They watch it over, they’re laughing each time. These people loved it, and they’re giving Trump amens and high fives, people that didn’t like Trump watched this rally.

.. The left is now out saying that if you don’t take the knee, you’re for Trump.

..

The average person knows this is silly, but now you’ve got minority voters who already realize that secular liberals are a bigger threat to them than Trump is. Trump never made ’em worry about taking their daughter into the bathroom at Target or any of this stuff. Now they just want to watch the game, and the entire left-wing complex is trying to tell ’em they have to pick a side. You have to pick the flag or you have to take a knee. You gotta pick a side, and all that’s gonna do is make people mad. They just want to watch football. They don’t want to pick a side. They don’t think this is where it should be.