Jimmy Carter, populism and Donald Trump

Jimmy and Rosilyn Carter, surprising the crowd by walking instead of riding in a limo (image from Carter Library via National Archives)

Last year, in the early buildup to the election (January 2016), I posted an article on Daily Kos titled “What Donald Trump and Jimmy Carter have in common”. At that time, the Republicans hadn’t settled on Trump yet. Only a contrarian (like me) would suggest that Trump might not merely win the primary, but he might even be able to win the general election. That filled me with dread, but took comfort in the conventional wisdom of the day that Trump couldn’t win.

The comparison of Carter to Trump in 2016 still holds true today in 2017. Though that gave me dread in 2016, it gives me hope in 2017. Let’s revisit the topic, because the subsequent election of 1980 holds lessons about 2020 that feel less dreadful IF we learn from history.

The comparison:

  1. Departed deity that was in charge in the receding party’s glory days
    1976 : FDR (Democratic President: 1933–1945)
    2016 : Reagan (Republican President: 1981–1989)
  2. Party with receding wave
    1976 : Democrats (New Deal)
    2016 : Republicans (supply-side economics)
  3. Party with rising wave
    1976 : Republicans (“government is the problem”)
    2016 : Democrats (“we are the 99%”)
  4. “Obvious” safe choice for party
    1976: Gerald Ford (the White House incumbent)
    2016: Hillary Clinton (“realist” choice)
  5. Candidate riding rising wave
    1976: Reagan (narrowly lost 1976 nomination)
    2016: Sanders (narrowly lost 2016 nomination)
  6. Unlikely party outsider for receding party
    1976: Jimmy Carter
    2016: Trump

Continue reading “Jimmy Carter, populism and Donald Trump”

Advertisements

Western accent?

There’s a fantastic discussion of red state politics on the wellRED podcast interview of Sarah Smarsh by the three hosts of the show. At the 46:00 point in the podcast, the group discusses how they all deliberately chose not to lose their respective accents. Smarsh says as part of journalism school, she needed to learn how to make her voice more “neutral” (a.k.a. “General American” as it’s referred to on Wikipedia). For the three guys (Trae Crowder, Drew Morgan and Corey Ryan Forrester), I can understand the handwringing. Listening to them, even though I find myself agreeing with much of what they say, I have to be mindful of potential bias when I hear their accents.

With Smarsh, it’s different. She grew up in Kansas, which is culturally/linguistically not much different from where I grew up (all over the U.S. west), where my mom grew up (midway between Omaha and Kansas City), and where much of my extended family still is (Kansas City area). As my mom would point out, modern newscasters (of the day) treated the Nebraska accent as a “neutral” accent — and many TV celebrities like Johnny Carson and David Letterman benefited from their upbringing in neutral accent territory.

It may be that my western upbringing is the reason why I don’t detect an appreciable accent, but others would. The only regional aspects of my younger accent that I’m aware of dropping is referring to carbonated beverage as “pop” (I say “soda” now) and treating “pen” and “pin” as homophones (not anymore). Given how minor the changes to my speech have been since moving to the west coast (living in either Seattle or San Francisco since 1993), I haven’t considered my accent to have changed much since I was young.

In the past few years, I’ve gotten more comfortable speaking warmly of my humble-ish upbringing. Further more, I’ve happily adopted “y’all” in spite of not growing up using the phrase. Some of my fondest memories of my dad were of his cowboy-culture way of talking, which wasn’t that different than the cattle cop highlighted on Planet Money a few years ago. Whenever something would splash all over the place, Dad frequently said it “splattered like a cow pissing on a rock”. He implored me to be more mindful by telling me to “get your head out of your ass”. He frequently claimed that many politicians were “crookeder than a dog’s hind leg”. I’ve carried some of his cowboy-isms forward, but I don’t have the same cowboy cred that he did. Plus, I’m prouder of the fact that I was occasionally able to beat Mom at Scrabble in her prime, and pretty sure that anyone reading this would have had about as tough of a time doing it as I did, no matter how much of a smartypants you think you are.

Listening to Smarsh talk about the assumptions that people seemed to make about her that she ascribed to her accent, it makes me wonder: am I deaf to her accent because of my similar upbringing? Do I have a “western” or “midwestern” accent that might have caused the kinds of discrimination they discuss in this show? Have I just been luckier than Smarsh, or am I just blind to being treated like I just fell off the turnip truck?

Media companies really shouldn’t let this strike drag out

The writers strike has temporarily saved me from staring zombie-like from my slouched position on the couch, and instead has me typing zombie-like from a differently-slouched position on my couch. After seeing a couple of mildly amusing clips from on-strike writers (from The Daily Show and The Colbert Report), I was curious enough to poke around the writers’ website and see them make their case. Regardless of the merits of the strike, the writers are in a much better position to make their case than they were the last time they did this.

But I think it’s a lot worse than writers with extra YouTube posting time on their hands. There’s a piece in the L.A. Times about how non-Hollywood money is starting to find good writers (via pmarca)
Continue reading “Media companies really shouldn’t let this strike drag out”

Inflated house prices

I like reading Paul Kedrosky’s Infectuous Greed blog, even if I think he occasionally says some things that are completely moronic. One reason I do, though, is the occasonal food for thought, like this post on inflated house prices.

Yale economist Bob Shiller says in the weekend issue of Barron’s that he’s still looking for 20-30% housing price declines over the next 5-10 years — including in untouchable cities like San Francisco and New York (and I’ll include Vancouver)

He goes on to quote the article, talking about the relocation that’s occurring. Some folks left comments that pointed out that there are always going to be people drawn to jobs in hot markets like New York or San Francisco, but I know of at least one San Francisco-based company that’s looking to hire outside of the city.

28 years of “You Light Up My Life”

I’m a big supporter of moving back to a 28 year maximum term on copyrights. I’ve been thinking about how to describe that, and I think I’ve come up with one way of doing it. Rupert Holmes would still be able to earn a living off of his 1979 hit “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)”, but Debby Boone would just now be asked to hop off of the “You Light Up My Life” gravy train that left the station in the fall of 1977. I think that that’s more than enough economic motivation society should provide to ensure the creation of such … (ahem) … classics.