Friday, February 26, 2016

Understanding the Trump Phenomenon in America

Donald Trump, a political novice, has stunned the world with a string of successes in Republican primaries to become the leading candidate for the GOP (Grand Old Party, aka Republican Party) nomination for US President in 2016. The fear of a hostile takeover of the GOP by Trump has sent the party establishment into panic mode. What are the factors behind this development? Who are Donald Trump's supporters? What is motivating their anger and their disdain of the Republican party leadership? Let's try and answer these questions:

1. Changing Demographics and Economy:

When I first arrived in the United States in late 1970s,  America had very different demographics. It was about 85% white. Most Americans with just a high school diploma enjoyed middle class living standards.  They had good jobs in manufacturing industries like auto and steel. These jobs paid them well enough to buy a decent new home and drive late-model American-made cars.

The US demographics and economy have both changed dramatically in the last four decades. Minorities now account for about 30% of the US population. Low birth rate among whites and increasing immigration have both contributed to this reality. Meanwhile, unrelenting forces of globalization and continuing creative destruction have replaced the bulk of auto and steel manufacturing industries with new, high-tech industries. The high-tech sector in the United States is booming. It's creating a lot of new jobs. But most of these new jobs require at least a college degree and higher level skills, the kind of skills many middle-aged non-college-educated white Americans do not have.

2. Social Impact of Changes:

A combination economic and demographic changes has taken its greatest toll on middle-aged white Americans without college education. They are disillusioned and angry. And they are lashing out at the "establishment" politicians on both ends of the political spectrum, but mainly on the GOP side. Donald Trump has successfully exploited this anger by blaming immigrants, religious minorities and other nations for their problems.

In a paper titled "Rising morbidity and mortality in midlife among white non-Hispanic Americans in the 21st century" published last year, Princeton economists Anne Case and  Nobel Laureate Angus Deaton have shown that over the last 15 years, white middle-aged Americans have been dying at unusually high rates. Most of those deaths have been concentrated among people with only a high-school diploma, or less. Polls say that these older, less-educated whites form the core pf support for Donald Trump.

Source: New York Times

3. Voting Patterns By Race: 

Will Trump Become the Next President? It appears unlikely given his support base.  Here's why: John McCain and  Mitt Romney, the last two Republican candidates since 2008, won the majority of white votes but failed to win the general election. Each of them got 60% of the 70% white votes that add up to 42% of the overall electorate. In addition, each of them got only 6% of Black votes and about 26% of the Asian and Hispanic votes that prevented them from gaining the overall majority needed to win. Trump's campaign rhetoric has managed to anger all minority groups, particularly Mexicans and Muslims. He will get even fewer minority votes than McCain and Romney polled in the last two general elections.

Viewpoint From Overseas host Faraz Darvesh discusses the Trump Phenomenon with panelists Misbah Azam and Riaz Haq (

Pakistan VIP Culture's Young Victim; Trump's Muslim Ban; PTI's Lodhran Win from WBT Productions on Vimeo.

Pakistan VIP Culture's Young Victim; Trump's... by ViewpointFromOverseas


The Trump phenomenon appears to be linked to the changing US economy that has left many middle-aged non-college-educated white Americans behind. Like many other demagogues before him, Donald J. Trump is exploiting their deep dis-satisfaction and rising anger by blaming minorities and immigrants for their problems. Even if Trump wins the Republican nomination, the chances of his success in 2016 general elections are remote.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Trump's Muslim Ban

Tarek Fatah Vs Riaz Haq Debate

Minorities Are Majority in Silicon Valley

Obama's Historic Win


Indian_in_USA said...

I think he is an idiot, but muslims have no one else to blame but themselves for rising anti muslim feelings.

You think India is the only country which had enough of their nonsense.

Ali M. said...

Dear Riaz Sahib

You may enjoy reading this:

Best Regards


Riaz Haq said...

Ali: "You may enjoy reading this"

Thanks for sharing.

I agree with the author's conclusion and hope he/she's right.

It is still more likely than not that Donald Trump will falter at some point in his quest for the White House. Hillary Clinton is still more likely to beat him than not in the general election. And there is a distinct possibility that a brokered Republican convention will lead to a third-party run by Trump if the party tries to install another nominee. This too will likely result in a Democratic victory. But the Democrats would do well not to take anything for granted, and begin looking for ways in which they can take down Trump, the Idea.

Anonymous said...

The anger you are explaining is also attributed to the rise of Bernie Sanders. So looks like everyone is angry.

BTW did you know that when Sanders won the primary at NH, he became the first non christian to ever win a caucus, let alone genera election. Suddenly US does not look that tolerant.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "The anger you are explaining is also attributed to the rise of Bernie Sanders. So looks like everyone is angry."

Yes, both Sanders and Trump are drawing anti-establishment vote in their respective primaries.

However, Trump has never held elected office before while Bernie has been elected many times, first as mayor of Burlington, Vermont, and then as congressman and senator from Vermont many times.

Trump has experience dealing with issues of public policy and governance; Trump does not.

Riaz Haq said...

#Trump phenomenon reflects bigotry of #Republican base promoted by its leaders. Why is it a surprise to #GOP now?

Seriously, Republican political strategy has been exploiting racial antagonism, getting working-class whites to despise government because it dares to help Those People, for almost half a century. So it’s amazing to see the party’s elite utterly astonished by the success of a candidate who is just saying outright what they have consistently tried to convey with dog whistles.

What I find even more amazing, however, are the Republican establishment’s delusions about what its own voters are for. You see, all indications are that the party elite imagines that base voters share its own faith in conservative principles, when that not only isn’t true, it never has been.

Here’s an example: Last summer, back when Mr. Trump was just beginning his rise, he promised not to cut Social Security, and insiders like William Kristol gleefully declared that he was “willing to lose the primary to win the general.” In reality, however, Republican voters don’t at all share the elite’s enthusiasm for entitlement cuts — remember, George W. Bush’s attempt to privatize Social Security ran aground in the face of disapproval from Republicans as well as Democrats.

Yet the Republican establishment still seems unable to understand that hardly any of its own voters, let alone the voters it would need to win in the general election, are committed to free-market, small-government ideology. Indeed, although Marco Rubio — the establishment’s last hope — has finally started to go after the front-runner, so far his attack seems to rest almost entirely on questioning the coiffed one’s ideological purity. Why does he imagine that voters care?

Oh, and the G.O.P. establishment was also sure that Mr. Trump would pay a heavy price for asserting that we were misled into Iraq — evidently unaware just how widespread that (correct) belief is among Americans of all political persuasions.

So what’s the source of this obliviousness? The answer, I’d suggest, is that in recent years — and, in fact, for the past couple of decades — becoming a conservative activist has actually been a low-risk, comfortable career choice. Most Republican officeholders hold safe seats, which they can count on keeping if they are sufficiently orthodox. Moreover, if they should stumble, they can fall back on “wingnut welfare,” the array of positions at right-wing media organizations, think tanks and so on that are always there for loyal spear carriers.

And loyalty is almost the only thing that matters. Does an economist at a right-wing think tank have a remarkable record of embarrassing mistakes? Does a pundit have an almost surreal history of bad calls? No matter, as long as they hew to the orthodox line.

There is, by the way, nothing comparable on the Democratic side. Of course there’s an establishment, but it’s much more diffuse, much less lavishly funded, much less insistent on orthodoxy and forgiving of loyal incompetence.

But back to the hermetic world of the Republican elite: This world has, as I said, existed for decades. The result is an establishment comprising apparatchiks, men (mainly) who have spent their entire professional lives in an environment where repeating approved orthodoxy guarantees an easy life, while any deviation from that orthodoxy means excommunication. They know that people outside their party disagree, but that doesn’t matter much for their careers.

Now, however, they face the reality that most voters inside their party don’t agree with the orthodoxy, either. And all signs are that they still can’t wrap their minds around that fact. They just keep waiting for Donald Trump to suffer the fall from grace that, in their world, always happens to anyone who questions the eternal truth of supply-side economics or the gospel of 9/11. Even now, when it’s almost too late to stop the Trump Express, they still imagine that “But he’s not a true conservative!” is an effective attack.

Shams S. said...

Unless Bernie Sanders emerges to be the lead in Democratic party, unlikely there, I am voting for Donald Trump. It is not because I have been disenfranchised, or my job is now sitting in China, but because Trump makes sense.

1. If I had the option, I would shut down at least 80% of American mosques and arrest Mullahs there. They teach hatred for the Americans, which now includes your and my children.

2. Trump said, re. burgas: “They want to! What the hell are we getting involved for?” Same thing regarding the Middle East and the Islamic World - he wants the US to forget them and worry only about its own problems.

3. Trump knows how to run a business, and a government is a big business, which in the case of the US, a bankrupt business (Debt > Revenue and Liabilties > Tangible Assets and Current Income > Current Expense Obligations).

4. What Trump thinks is what Trump speaks, so we can dislike hime for what he says, but we know that we can trust that there is no hidden agenda there.

My 2 cents. Want to hear what others have to say about this.

Riaz Haq said...

Shams: "I am voting for Donald Trump"

A vote for Donald Trump is a vote for the lynch mob hysteria unleashed by his hateful rhetoric against Mexicans and Muslims.

Here's an excerpt from today's Washington Post:

"His (Trump's) success is now providing affirmation and cover to his base of nativists and organized white supremacist groups. Such groups are connected to traditions of mob violence (consider the history of this country from the 1910s through the 1970s). This is why Trump’s suggestions that maybe protesters should be roughed up or punched are so loaded. This is the context in which to hear his celebration of false historical narratives about the use of “bullets dipped in pig’s blood” for the summary execution of Muslim adversaries. In the context of our very own history, Trump’s habit of condoning lawlessness is dangerous. When political leaders condone violence, their words are already doing things. They provide cover, embolden and enable."

Shah said...

Riaz Sahib I Am A Regular Visitor to Your Blog And I Am Surprised You Have Not Done A Piece On Dr Nargis Mawalwala And Dr Sameer Iqbal The Contribution of Pakistnis In Discovering Gravitational Waves And Cancer Research.I Was Waiting For Your Piece on This Al February

BTW One Of The Financers of Jeb Bush Is A Wall Street Investor Muneer Sattar.Is He A Pakistani????

Ahmed F. said...

They set a new record. I watched the Republican debate on CNN and could not believe what I was witnessing! The whole world is watching. We have been turned into a laughing stock. Plus most people don't know why it takes more than a year to elect a president in the US.

Riaz Haq said...

Ahmad: "I watched the Republican debate on CNN and could not believe what I was witnessing! "

Unfortunately, the Trump phenomenon has attracted mainly "white trash" that enjoys such undignified exchanges involving their hero Donald Trump

David Rubin said...

Are these "white trash" equivalent of "internet hindus" who support Modi. Mr. Haq thanks for coming out of the closest and proving that you are a confirmed islamists.
And of course you will never admit that muslims can do any wrong. How can that be, right ?

I support Donald Trump because there is no better choice. Despite being a Jew I will not vote for Dem this time (historically jews have voted 70% to Dem).

Riaz Haq said...

DR: "I support Donald Trump because there is no better choice. "

I agree with President Obama's assessment that he made recently as follows: "I continue to believe Mr. Trump will not be president. And the reason is that I have a lot of faith in the American people. Being president is a serious job. It's not hosting a talk show, or a reality show."

If the majority of Americans do elect a vulgar demagogue like Trump president, it will amount to cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Riaz Haq said...

Former #CIA director Gen Michael Hayden: #US #Military may refuse to follow #Trump's orders if he becomes president

Former CIA director Michael Hayden believes there is a legitimate possibility that the U.S. military would refuse to follow orders given by Donald Trump if the Republican front-runner becomes president and decides to make good on certain campaign pledges.

Hayden, who also headed the National Security Agency from 1999 to 2005, made the provocative statement on Friday during an appearance on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher.” Trump, fresh off a string of primary victories, has yet to secure his party’s nomination, but Hayden said the candidate’s rhetoric already raises troubling questions.

“I would be incredibly concerned if a President Trump governed in a way that was consistent with the language that candidate Trump expressed during the campaign,” Hayden said during the interview with Maher.

Anonymous said...

Riaz Haq said...

Donald #Trump defends size of his penis at #GOP presidential debate in #Michigan USA @CNNPolitics

Donald Trump assured American voters Thursday night that despite what Marco Rubio had suggested, there was "no problem" with the size of his hands -- or anything else.

"Look at those hands, are they small hands?" the front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination said, raising them for viewers to see. "And, he referred to my hands -- 'if they're small, something else must be small.' I guarantee you there's no problem. I guarantee."

Rubio in recent days revived a decades-old old insult, mocking Trump for having relatively slight hands.

"He's always calling me Little Marco. And I'll admit he's taller than me. He's like 6'2, which is why I don't understand why his hands are the size of someone who is 5'2," Rubio said in Virginia on Sunday. "And you know what they say about men with small hands? You can't trust them."

RELATED: Republican debate: Live updates

The New York billionaire has heard similar comments about his hands or, more precisely, his fingers, for years.

As Vanity Fair's Graydon Carter recalled online last year: "Just to drive him a little bit crazy, I took to referring to him as a 'short-fingered vulgarian' in the pages of Spy magazine. That was more than a quarter of a century ago."

Riaz Haq said...

Donald #Trump: #US needs to stay in #Afghanistan to protect #Pakistan's nuclear weapons. #India via @timesofindia

he US needs to stay in Afghanistan because its immediate neighbour Pakistan has nuclear weapons which have to be protected, Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump has said.
"I think you have to stay in Afghanistan for a while, because of the fact that you are right next to Pakistan, which has nuclear weapons and we have to protect that. Nuclear weapons change the game," he said.
Trump was responding to a question on Afghanistan during the Republican presidential debate on Thursday.
Last year, Trump had called Pakistan the most dangerous country in the world. In an interview, he had indicated that Pakistan needs to be denuclearise.

"You have to get India involved. India's the check to Pakistan," he said in a radio address in September last year when asked what he would do if Pakistan "the most dangerous country in the world other than Iran" became unstable.
"They (India) have their own nukes and have a very powerful army. They seem to be the real check... I think we have to deal very closely with India to deal with it (Pakistan)," Trump had said, setting off intense chatter among Pakistani experts whose approach to Islamabad's recklessness so far has been one of caution and discretion.
US concerned over Pak's growing nuclear weapons: Pentagon
The US is concerned over Pakistan's fast-expanding stockpile of nuclear weapons which combined with its evolving doctrine increases the risk of an "accident", Pentagon's top spy master said on Wednesday.
"Pakistan's nuclear stockpile continues to grow. We are concerned that this growth, as well as the evolving doctrine associated with tactical nuclear weapons, increases the risk of an incident or accident," Lt Gen Vincent Stewart, director of Defence Intelligence Agency had told lawmakers on Wednesday during a Congressional hearing.

"Islamabad continues to take steps to improve its nuclear security, and is aware of the threat presented by extremists to its programme," Stewart said during his testimony before the house armed services committee on worldwide threats.
Pakistan will face internal security threats from militant, sectarian and separatist groups this year, he said, adding that ISIS in Khorasan and al-Qaida in the Indian subcontinent will also remain significant security concerns for Islamabad.
Pak minister rules out rollback of nuke programme
Pakistan's finance minister on Thursday said that his country will never roll back its nuclear programme despite financial hardship and threat of mounting external debt

Ishaq Dar was briefing the Senate, the upper house of parliament, on the country's economy.
"We did not start this (nuclear) programme to roll it back. This is a programme of our security, and it is a national responsibility to protect it. All political parties of Pakistan share the ownership of our nuclear programme," he said.
"Even if our debts swell to USD 100 billion or USD 100 trillion, we will not roll back our nuclear

Riaz Haq said...

#Trump's polices aren't anathema to #America's mainstream but uncomfortable reflection of it. #racism by @ggreenwald

In some instances, their claim is plausible: There is at least genuine embarrassment if not revulsion even among America’s political class over Trump’s proposed mass deportation of 11 million human beings, banning of all Muslims from entering the country, and new laws to enable him to more easily sue (and thus destroy) media outlets that “falsely” criticize him. And his signature personality brew of deep-seated insecurities, vindictive narcissism, channeling of the darkest impulses, and gaudy, petty boasting is indeed uniquely grotesque.

But in many cases, probably most, the flamboyant denunciations of Trump by establishment figures make no sense except as self-aggrandizing pretense, because those condemning him have long tolerated if not outright advocated very similar ideas, albeit with less rhetorical candor. Trump is self-evidently a toxic authoritarian demagogue advocating morally monstrous positions, but in most cases where elite outrage is being vented, he is merely a natural extension of the mainstream rhetorical and policy framework that has been laid, not some radical departure from it. He’s their id. What establishment mavens most resent is not what Trump is, does, or says, but what he reflects: the unmistakable, undeniable signs of late-stage imperial collapse, along with the resentments and hatreds they have long deliberately and self-servingly stoked but which are now raging out of their control.

Two of the most recent, widely discussed anti-Trump outrage rituals — one from Wednesday and the other from last night’s Fox News debate — demonstrate the sham at the heart of the establishment display of horror. This week, American political and media figures from across the spectrum stood and applauded a tawdry cast of neocons and other assorted warmongers who are responsible for grave war crimes, torture, kidnappings, due process-free indefinite imprisonment, and the worst political crime of this generation: the attack on and destruction of Iraq.

These five dozen or so extremists (calling themselves “members of the Republican national security community”) were the toast of the town because they published an “open letter” denouncing Trump on the ground that his “own statements lead us to conclude that as president, he would use the authority of his office to act in ways that make America less safe, and which would diminish our standing in the world.” This was one of their examples:

His embrace of the expansive use of torture is inexcusable.

Most decent human beings, by definition, would express this sentiment without including the qualifying word “expansive.” Even Ronald Reagan, whom virtually all the signatories claim to idolize, advocated for and signed a treaty in 1988 that stated that “no exceptional circumstances whatsoever … may be invoked as a justification of torture” and that “each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offenses under its criminal law.” The taboo is on “all acts of torture,” not its “expansive use” — whatever that means.

But the group signing this anti-Trump letter can’t pretend to find an embrace of torture itself to be “inexcusable” because most of them implemented torture policies while in government or vocally advocated for them. So instead, they invoke the Goldilocks Theory of Torture: We believe in torture up to exactly the right point, while Trump is disgraceful because he wants to go beyond that; he believes in “the expansive use of torture.” The same dynamic drove yesterday’s widely cheered speech by Mitt Romney, where the two-time failed GOP candidate denounced Trump for advocating torture while literally ignoring his own clear pro-torture viewpoints.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from The Salon on Bill Buckley, the father of Republican Conservatism:

In 1957, Buckley wrote National Review’s most infamous editorial, entitled “Why the South Must Prevail.” Is the white community in the South, he asked, “entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not predominate numerically?” His answer was crystal clear: “The sobering answer is Yes—the White community is so entitled because for the time being, it is the advanced race.” Buckley cited unfounded statistics demonstrating the superiority of white over black, and concluded that, “it is more important for any community, anywhere in the world, to affirm and live by civilized standards, than to bow to the demands of the numerical majority.” He added definitively: “the claims of civilization supersede those of universal suffrage.”

Riaz Haq said...

Sartaj Aziz: "A #Trump presidency doesn't worry #Pakistan" #MuslimBan #Trump2016 #GOP @CNNPolitics

Pakistan, a U.S. ally and majority-Muslim country, is not overly concerned about the possibility of Donald Trump occupying the White House or his proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the United States, according to a top official.

"What you do in the campaign doesn't mean that it becomes policy," said Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan's adviser to the Prime Minister on foreign affairs, in an exclusive interview with CNN.

Trump's plan to block Muslims from the United States was "not well-received," according to Aziz. But Pakistan, he said, views America as a multicultural society that is too rooted in the ideals of tolerance for such a ban to ever be enacted.

"The strength of these values in America is very strong," said Aziz. "Even if, you know, for political reasons or short-term popularity somebody espouses these ideas to appeal to one segment of the population, the broad spectrum of America ... will not buy this," said Aziz.

For the latest news and political buzz get the CNN Politics Nightcap | Sign up

Aziz spoke to CNN on Tuesday while in Washington for meeting with U.S. officials and a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations.

At the CFR event, he said that peace negotiations between the Afghan government and Taliban could begin in the coming week or two.

As part of the peace process, the United States, China and Pakistan had facilitated talks between the Afghan government and Taliban in July, but further talks were derailed by news of the death of Taliban leader Mullah Omar.

Aziz said that some progress had been made by preparing the terms of reference for the talks and the road map for moving forward, but he cautioned that the success of the talks hinges upon the situation on the ground remaining stable. At this point, it's not clear that there will be more success in moving forward with talks than there has been in previous months.

Aziz also acknowledged that the Taliban leadership is inside Pakistan, giving leverage to his government to pressure them to come to the table.

"We have some influence in them because their leadership is in Pakistan," he said. They get some medical facilities. Their families are here."

Mexican President: Donald Trump damaging U.S.-Mexico relations

Pakistan wants U.S. to stay in Afghanistan
Trump, for his part, spoke on Pakistan in the Fox News debate on Thursday night, citing Pakistan's nuclear arsenal as the reason for the United States to stay in Afghanistan.

"I think you have to stay in Afghanistan for a while, because of the fact that you're right next to Pakistan, which has nuclear weapons and we have to protect that," said Trump. "Nuclear weapons change the game."

The United States announced a delay in withdrawing from Afghanistan in October after months of discussions with Afghanistan's president, Ashraf Ghani, and the nation's chief executive officer, Abdullah Abdullah.

The new plan keeps 9,800 troops in Afghanistan until late 2016. That force will then draw down to 5,500 U.S. military personnel, more than five times the number of troops previously set to remain in the country at the start of 2017.

Aziz told CNN that the United States should stay in Afghanistan but not because of his country's nuclear weapons.

"In our view, a sudden withdrawal would not be advisable," Aziz said.

Some 195,000 Afghan troops have been trained by the U.S. military, but Aziz cited the country's lack of an air force to support ground forces in operations against the Taliban as a leading reason for U.S. forces to stay in the country.

Riaz Haq said...

#Trump promoting Halal Steak on Prime Time TV? #TrumpSteaks …

It turns out Trump put out meat provided by local wholesale meat supplier Bush Brothers who source their beef from Creekstone Farms, one of the nation’s leading producers of high-quality beef (the best 1%, which would be appropriate for Trump’s brand). But aside from being premium beef, Creekstone Farms beef (much to the delight of Muslim foodies everywhere) is certified Halal!

Riaz Haq said...

#Obama to #Republicans: You are to blame for the rise of Donald #Trump. #Bigotry #Islamophobia #GOP … via HuffPost Politics

"I don't think that I was the one to prompt questions about my birth certificate, for example," the president added. "I don't remember saying, 'Hey, why don't you ask me about that?' or 'Why don't you question whether I'm American, or whether I'm loyal or whether I have America's best interests at heart?' ... So what you're seeing within the Republican Party is, to some degree, all of those efforts over a course of time creating an environment where somebody like a Donald Trump can thrive."

Riaz Haq said...

#Rubio Campaign Urges Supporters to Back #Kasich in #Ohio. Asks for support in #Florida #StopTrump via @NYTPolitics

A top aide to Senator Marco Rubio on Friday urged his supporters in Ohio to back Gov. John Kasich in that state’s primary on Tuesday, giving fresh momentum to efforts to stop Donald J. Trump a day after a debate in which his rivals declined to take a swing at the leading Republican presidential candidate.

Alex Conant, Mr. Rubio’s spokesman, made the comments in an interview with CNN. He said that he hoped supporters of Mr. Kasich and of Senator Ted Cruz would support Mr. Rubio in his home state primary in Florida, and that he would suggest Mr. Rubio’s backers in Ohio do the same by supporting Mr. Kasich there.

“I’m just stating the obvious,” Mr. Conant said. “If you are a Republican primary voter in Ohio and you want to defeat Donald Trump, your best chance in Ohio is John Kasich, because John Kasich is the sitting governor, he’s very close to Donald Trump in some of the polls there.”

He said the reverse was true in Mr. Rubio’s home state, suggesting that supporters of Mr. Kasich and Mr. Cruz back Mr. Rubio there.

The remarks dovetail with a strategy proposed by Mitt Romney, the party’s 2012 nominee, who urged Republicans opposing Mr. Trump to coalesce around the leading non-Trump candidate in coming nominating contests to deny the nomination to the Manhattan businessman.

Mr. Conant said that “John Kasich is the one candidate in Ohio that can beat Donald Trump — that’s stating the obvious, that is indisputable.”

In a news conference in West Palm Beach, Mr. Rubio echoed the sentiment, but did not go as far in urging his supporters to back Mr. Kasich in Ohio.

“Clearly John Kasich has a better chance than winning Ohio than I do,” Mr. Rubio told reporters. And if Ohioans concluded that the best way to stop Mr. Trump was to vote for Mr. Kasich, the Florida senator said, “I expect that’s the decision they’ll make.”

Asked directly if he was urging his people to vote for Mr. Kasich in Ohio, he said of his spokesman, “I’ll leave it for John to make that argument.”

And Mr. Cruz, speaking in Orlando on Friday, dismissed the strategy, indulging in a laugh when asked about it.

“It’s the Washington establishment’s last gasp: ‘Let’s divide things up. Let’s play games,’” Mr. Cruz said in a taped interview with Fox News. “It’s real, real simple. How do you beat Donald Trump? You beat him.”

Mr. Cruz argued, as he has for weeks, that he was the only candidate still capable of doing so.

Those hoping to defeat Mr. Trump acknowledge that if he wins either Ohio or Florida, it becomes much harder to deny him the nomination.

Riaz Haq said...

Inclination for Authoritarianism: The One Weird Trait That Predicts Whether You’re a #Trump Supporter. #GOP

If I asked you what most defines Donald Trump supporters, what would you say? They’re white? They’re poor? They’re uneducated?
You’d be wrong.

In fact, I’ve found a single statistically significant variable predicts whether a voter supports Trump—and it’s not race, income or education levels: It’s authoritarianism.
That’s right, Trump’s electoral strength—and his staying power—have been buoyed, above all, by Americans with authoritarian inclinations. And because of the prevalence of authoritarians in the American electorate, among Democrats as well as Republicans, it’s very possible that Trump’s fan base will continue to grow.
My finding is the result of a national poll I conducted in the last five days of December under the auspices of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, sampling 1,800 registered voters across the country and the political spectrum. Running a standard statistical analysis, I found that education, income, gender, age, ideology and religiosity had no significant bearing on a Republican voter’s preferred candidate. Only two of the variables I looked at were statistically significant: authoritarianism, followed by fear of terrorism, though the former was far more significant than the latter.
Authoritarianism is not a new, untested concept in the American electorate. Since the rise of Nazi Germany, it has been one of the most widely studied ideas in social science. While its causes are still debated, the political behavior of authoritarians is not. Authoritarians obey. They rally to and follow strong leaders. And they respond aggressively to outsiders, especially when they feel threatened. From pledging to “make America great again” by building a wall on the border to promising to close mosques and ban Muslims from visiting the United States, Trump is playing directly to authoritarian inclinations.
Not all authoritarians are Republicans by any means; in national surveys since 1992, many authoritarians have also self-identified as independents and Democrats. And in the 2008 Democratic primary, the political scientist Marc Hetherington found that authoritarianism mattered more than income, ideology, gender, age and education in predicting whether voters preferred Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama. But Hetherington has also found, based on 14 years of polling, that authoritarians have steadily moved from the Democratic to the Republican Party over time. He hypothesizes that the trend began decades ago, as Democrats embraced civil rights, gay rights, employment protections and other political positions valuing freedom and equality. In my poll results, authoritarianism was not a statistically significant factor in the Democratic primary race, at least not so far, but it does appear to be playing an important role on the Republican side. Indeed, 49 percent of likely Republican primary voters I surveyed score in the top quarter of the authoritarian scale—more than twice as many as Democratic voters.

Political pollsters have missed this key component of Trump’s support because they simply don’t include questions about authoritarianism in their polls. In addition to the typical battery of demographic, horse race, thermometer-scale and policy questions, my poll asked a set of four simple survey questions that political scientists have employed since 1992 to measure inclination toward authoritarianism. These questions pertain to child-rearing: whether it is more important for the voter to have a child who is respectful or independent; obedient or self-reliant; well-behaved or considerate; and well-mannered or curious. Respondents who pick the first option in each of these questions are strongly authoritarian.

Read more:

Riaz Haq said...

BBC News - #Trump presidency rated among top 10 global risks: #EIU #Economist …

"He has been exceptionally hostile towards free trade, including notably Nafta, and has repeatedly labelled China as a 'currency manipulator'," the EIU said.
It warned his strong language directed towards Mexico and China in particular "could escalate rapidly into a trade war".
Mr Trump has called for a "big big wall" to be built on the US-Mexican border, paid for by Mexico, to keep its illegal immigrants and drug dealers out of the United States.
Analysis: Anthony Zurcher, BBC News North America reporter
Why is Donald Trump considered only slightly less of a threat to global security than a new Cold War? Perhaps it is because unlike traditional presidential front-runners the candidate has little or no policy substance to back up his shoot-from-the-hip-style pronouncements.
Want details on how the New Yorker would restructure US trade relations with China? Or how he would implement his proposed Muslim immigration ban? Good luck finding out.
Mr Trump has been promising to reveal his foreign policy team since mid-February, but the deadline keeps getting extended.
A well-developed foreign policy campaign structure would provide not only substance behind Mr Trump's rhetoric, it would also give foreign leaders connections for their questions.
So far, however, it seems international affairs and national security experts in the US are more focused on stopping Mr Trump than trying to help him. Until that changes, expect the global alarm bells to continue to sound.
'Innate hostility'
On the campaign trail, Mr Trump has advocated killing the families of terrorists and invading Syria to eradicate the so-called Islamic State group and appropriate its oil.
"His militaristic tendencies towards the Middle East and ban on all Muslim travel to the US would be a potent recruitment tool for jihadi groups, increasing their threat both within the region and beyond," the EIU added.

Riaz Haq said...

How #Trump used #casino bankruptcies to enrich himself at the expense of lenders and workers

Robert O'Harrow with NPR host Terry Gross on Trump bankruptcies:

GROSS: Was Donald Trump able to get the lower interest bank loans that he promised? 'Cause he promised, I won't use high-interest junk bonds. I'm going to get good rates from banks.

O'HARROW: No, the striking thing for us is just months after he received the approvals that he needed for the Taj, he discovered the prime-rate loans never materialized. He was still determined to move forward. As he told me in a phone conversation, he didn't want to be personally liable for whatever happened, so he went ahead and got the junk bonds after all and paid roughly 50 percent more than he had told the commission he would in order to raise $675 million.

GROSS: So Trump ends up doing what he said he wouldn't do, financing the Taj with the help of junk bonds. He wanted the Taj to be the biggest and the most luxurious, extravagant, whatever casino. It was definitely going to be the biggest. But were there, like, extravagances that he spent money on that he maybe had second thoughts about later when he went bankrupt?

O'HARROW: I've never heard him express any regrets about what he spent money on, but he definitely spent a lot more money than he originally projected. His plans included super deluxe suites and crystal chandeliers and all these expenses, and Trump was questioned about it. And they pressed him about his projected costs which were going to add luxury suites and gourmet restaurants and opulent fixtures, and the commission referred to them as extras.

And one of the commissioners asked him, don't people have to live within their means? And Trump responded that the costs were insignificant, and that they were really necessary to impress customers. He said we are probably talking about a difference of 50 million or so. He said, I mean, the worst thing to happen with the Taj Mahal is for the building to open and for people to have been disappointed with it because word-of-mouth on something like this is so important. He said, it's like a Broadway show.

GROSS: Right. If word-of-mouth is bad in a Broadway show, it's going to close.

O'HARROW: He added one thought that I - depending on your point of view - is true or ironic. He said, my basic attitude has always been that I want to do what is good for Atlantic City.



O'HARROW: The answer about who was affected is deeper than it might seem because in March of 1992, Trump's Castle and his Plaza casinos also filed for bankruptcy. And to resolve those debts, Trump gave up half his stake in each of the casino to the lenders. So the lenders definitely lost money through the cascading failures of these three casinos. But small-time investors who had bought the bonds directly or through retirement funds also suffered losses. And so did small business owners who sold the Trump organization paint, equipment, food, limousine services. And many of those were eventually paid only a fraction of what they were due. And we know this in part because a professor at Temple University - in your town - Bryant Simon went in and studied Atlantic City and found that a lot of people recall having to struggle to get by after these bankruptcies.
Bryant Simon - the professor - told me that Trump was quote, "a brutal and ruthless negotiator." And he said that people paid the price. And when I brought that up with Donald Trump, he said that he acknowledged that he drove hard bargains, but he said that he created many opportunities for a lot of people in the city to make money. And here's what he told me.
I wasn't the nicest person on earth. Many of these same people, if not all, made a lot of money with me.

Riaz Haq said...

#Republican Elite’s Reign of Disdain as #Trump wins #GOP base

“Sire, the peasants are revolting!” by Paul Krugman

“Yes, they are, aren’t they?”

It’s an old joke, but it seems highly relevant to the current situation within the Republican Party. As an angry base rejects establishment candidates in favor of you-know-who, a significant part of the party’s elite blames not itself, but the moral and character failings of the voters.

There has been a lot of buzz over the past few days about an article by Kevin Williamson in National Review, vigorously defended by other members of the magazine’s staff, denying that the white working class — “the heart of Trump’s support” — is in any sense a victim of external forces. A lot has gone wrong in these Americans’ lives — “the welfare dependency, the drug and alcohol addiction, the family anarchy” — but “nobody did this to them. They failed themselves.”

O.K., we’re just talking about a couple of writers at a conservative magazine. But it’s obvious, if you look around, that this attitude is widely shared on the right. When Mitt Romney spoke about the 47 percent of voters who would never support him because they “believe that the government has a responsibility to take care of them,” he was channeling an influential strain of conservative thought. So was Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, when he warned of a social safety net that becomes “a hammock that lulls able-bodied people to lives of dependency and complacency.”

Or consider the attitude toward American workers inadvertently displayed by Eric Cantor, then the House majority leader, when he chose to mark Labor Day with a Twitter post celebrating … business owners.

So what’s going on here?

To be sure, social collapse in the white working class is a deadly serious issue. Literally. Last fall, the economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton attracted widespread attention with a paper showing that mortality among middle-aged white Americans, which had been declining for generations, started rising again circa 2000. This rising death rate mainly reflected suicide, alcohol and overdoses of drugs, notably prescription opioids. (Marx declared that religion was the opium of the people. But in 21st-century America, it appears that opioids are the opium of the people.)

And other signs of social unraveling, from deteriorating health to growing isolation, are also on the rise among American whites. Something is going seriously wrong in the heartland.

Furthermore, the writers at National Review are right to link these social ills to the Trump phenomenon. Call it death and The Donald: Analysis of primary election results so far shows that counties with high white mortality rates are also likely to vote Trump.

The question, however, is why this is happening. And the diagnosis preferred by the Republican elite is just wrong — wrong in a way that helps us understand how that elite lost control of the nominating process.

Stripped down to its essence, the G.O.P. elite view is that working-class America faces a crisis, not of opportunity, but of values. That is, for some mysterious reason many of our citizens have, as Mr. Ryan puts it, lost “their will and their incentive to make the most of their lives.” And this crisis of values, they suggest, has been aided and abetted by social programs that make life too easy on slackers.

The problems with this diagnosis should be obvious. Tens of millions of people don’t suffer a collapse in values for no reason. Remember, several decades ago the sociologist William Julius Wilson argued that the social ills of America’s black community didn’t come out of thin air, but were the result of disappearing economic opportunity. If he was right, you would have expected declining opportunity to have the same effect on whites, and sure enough, that’s exactly what we’re seeing.

Riaz Haq said...

#NYPD commissioner condemns #Cruz's call to 'patrol' #Muslim areas. #Islamophobia via @msnbc

Sen. Ted Cruz’s controversial proposal that “patrols” should monitor “Muslim neighborhoods” in the United States the aftermath of terror attacks in Belgium has been condemned on both sides of the political aisle, and on Tuesday, New York Police Department commissioner William Bratton added his voice to the chorus.

Bratton, flanked by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who had previously called Cruz’s remarks “reprehensible” and example of “demagoguery,” told reporters that “the statements he made today is why he’s not going to become president of this country.”

“We don’t need a president that doesn’t respect the values that form the foundation of this country,” Bratton added. “As the mayor mentioned, I have over 900 very dedicated officers in this department, many of whom do double duty, and they serve as active duty members of the U.S. Military in combat, something the senator has never seen,” referring to the fact that Cruz has no military experience.

“So before he starts denigrating any population, he should take a close look at who he’s denigrating,” Bratton said. This is not the first time Cruz has provoked the ire of many New Yorkers. In January, Cruz suffered a barrage of bad press in the Big Apple, after he took aim at what he called “New York values.”

The NYPD has attempted to procure intelligence by secretly monitoring Muslim enclaves in the past, a practice defended by then-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. But doing so yielded little success, according to the Associated Press. They report that in six years of broad surveillance, the so-called Demographics Unit “never generated a lead or triggered a terrorism investigation.” Meanwhile, when reports of the program surfaced, first revealed as part of a Pulitzer prize-winning investigation by the AP, it was met with strong rebuke from the Muslim community and led to a discrimination lawsuit against the city which was ultimately dismissed in 2014. Bratton, who was appointed by de Blasio, oversaw the decision to abandon the program.

Later on Tuesday, Cruz doubled down on his earlier statements, arguing that it’s “standard” police procedure to infiltrate communities overrun with gang activity, and that the same tactics should be applied to areas where radicalization may be taking hold. “Political correctness costs lives,” he added.

However, Cruz did not offer clarity about how he would define a “Muslim neighborhood,” or how he could pre-emptively engage communities “before they become radicalized” as he suggested during an earlier appearance on CNN.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, said Cruz’s remarks send “an alarming message to American-Muslims who increasingly fear for their future and to all Americans who value the Constitution and religious liberties.”

In an interview with NBC News, Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for CAIR, compared Cruz’s comments to “the dark days of the 1930s” in Europe and “the interment of Japanese-Americans” in the 1940s. “What is a Muslim neighborhood? How many Muslims have to be in a neighborhood before it becomes worthy of checking papers and kicking in the doors of homes and businesses?” he said. “What constitutes a Muslim neighborhood?”

Still, his plan wasn’t opposed across the board. His 2016 rival Donald Trump, who spent much of Tuesday advocating for torture techniques to reinstated to combat threat of ISIS, called Cruz’s patrol plan a “good idea” which he “100 percent” supports.

Riaz Haq said...

#Obama pursued transformation as #Republicans chose self-destruction. #racism #Islamophobia #birther #GOP #ObamaCare

In an interview during the 2008 campaign, Barack Obama said that Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of the United States in a way that Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton did not. Clearly, Obama aspired to be a transformational president, like Reagan. At this point, it’s fair to say that he has succeeded. Look at what’s happened during his tenure to the country, his party and, most tellingly, his opposition.

The first line in Obama’s biography will have to do with who he is, the first African American president. But what he has done is also significant. In the wake of the financial collapse in 2008, Obama worked with the outgoing George W. Bush administration, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and members of both parties in Congress to respond forcefully on all fronts — fiscal, monetary, regulatory. The result is that the United States came out of the Great Recession in better shape than any other major economy.

Obama’s signal accomplishment is health care, where he was able to enact a law that has resulted in 90 percent of Americans having health insurance. Although the law has its problems, it achieves a goal first articulated by Theodore Roosevelt 100 years ago.

Then, there is the transformation of U.S. energy policy. The administration has made investments and given incentives to place the United States at the forefront of the emerging energy revolution. Just one example: Over Obama’s terms , solar costs have plummeted by 70 percent and solar generation is up 3,000 percent.

Finally, Obama has pursued a new foreign policy, informed by the lessons of the past two decades, that limits U.S. involvement in establishing political order in the Middle East, focusing instead on counterterrorism. This has freed the administration to pursue new approaches with countries such as Iran and Cuba and to direct attention and resources to the Asia-Pacific region, which in just a few years will be home to four of the world’s five largest economies.

Just as Reagan solidified the ideological position of the Republican Party — around free markets, free trade, an expansive foreign policy and an optimistic outlook — Obama has helped push the Democratic Party to be more willing to use government to achieve public purposes. And his party has responded.

Riaz Haq said...

Donald #Trump Use #indian accent to mocks Call Centres In #India. … via @ndtv

Never the one to shy away from putting things bluntly, Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump has expressed his displeasure at India's outsourcing industry by impersonating a call centre representative in India.

However, just moments later, he goes on to call India a great place, asserting that he is not angry with Indian leaders.

At a campaign rally in Delaware, the billionaire from New York said that he called up his credit card company to find out whether their customer support is based in the US or overseas.
"Guess what, you're talking to a person from India. How the hell does that work?" he told his supporters.

"So I called up, under the guise I'm checking on my card, I said, 'Where are you from?'" Mr Trump said and then he copied the response from the call centre.

"We are from India," Mr Trump impersonated the response.

"Oh great, that's wonderful," he said as he pretended to hang up the phone.

"India is great place. I am not upset with other leaders. I am upset with our leaders for being so stupid," he said.

"I am not angry with China. I am not angry at Japan. I am not angry with Vietnam, India...all these countries."

Mr Trump mentioned the fake call to India during his remarks on what he described as "crooked banking".

Delaware, is a hub for the America's banking and credit-card industry. Topping the list include Bank of America, Citibank Delaware, M&T Bank and PNC Financial Services Group.

"They are making a lot of money," he said.

"You can't allow policies that allows China, Mexico, Japan, Vietnam, India. You can't allow policies that allows business to be ripped out of the United States like candy from a baby," Mr Trump said in his address.

"The manufacturing jobs are being stolen. Our jobs are being taken. We are losing at every front. There is nothing good. Our country does not win anymore. The jobs are being stripped. Factories are closing. We are not going to let this happen anymore," he said.

Mr Trump said he has as many as 378 companies registered in Delaware, where the Republican presidential primaries is scheduled on April 26 along with several other states.

He is leading in polls against his other primary rivals.

In his speech, Mr Trump praised Delaware's status as a tax shelter and slammed President Barack Obama for not using the term "radical Islamists" in the fight against terrorism.

"I want to run against crooked Hillary," he said, reiterating that a Trump vs Clinton race would bring the greatest turn out in the history of the American elections.

"We will stomp on Hillary Clinton no one's ever done."

He was also critical of Indian-American South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who did not endorse him during the primary.

Delaware has 16 delegates. Mr Trump has 845 delegates, followed by Ted Cruz (559) and John Kasich (148)

Riaz Haq said...

With #Trump as presumptive #GOP nominee, ‘It could get a lot worse for #Muslims in #America’ #Islamophobia

By Dana Milbank Opinion writer May 3 at 5:55 PM
My neighborhood of Chevy Chase is a leafy and peaceful slice of Northwest Washington. But this week, the news here is of a woman assaulted outside the local Starbucks by a Donald Trump supporter, she says — for the sin of being Muslim.

Police on Monday released surveillance video showing a heavyset white woman shouting at, and then pouring a bottle of liquid onto, a woman in a Muslim headscarf seated outside a Starbucks on a recent weeknight. Police are investigating a possible hate crime.

The victim said the attacker called her a “worthless piece of Muslim trash” and a “terrorist.” And the attacker said she was supporting Trump because he would send the Muslims “back to where you came from.”

“She mentioned this man’s name to me as a way of saying he’s going to put all of you out of this country,” the woman, who asked not to be identified, told me Tuesday.

But this is her country. She’s African American, born in Minneapolis, reared in Chicago and now living in the District — where, until now, she never thought she’d have a foul-smelling liquid poured on her for wearing a headscarf.

Asked about a system to register and track Muslims in the United States, Trump said, “I would certainly implement that — absolutely.” He said he would “certainly look at” closing mosques.

He falsely said there were “thousands” cheering the collapse of the World Trade Center from New Jersey, with its “heavy Arab population.”

Trump called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

Trump continues at rallies to repeat an apocryphal story about U.S. Gen. John Pershing executing Muslim prisoners in the Philippines decades ago using bullets dipped in pig’s blood.

At a rally, a Trump supporter called President Obama a Muslim and said Muslims are “a problem in this country.” Trump allowed both of those statements to stand.

Trump previously led the “birther” challenge to Obama’s birth certificate and speculated, “Maybe it says he is a Muslim.”

Trump said in a TV interview that “Islam hates us,” and, later asked if that meant all 1.6 billion of the world’s Muslims, Trump said, “I mean a lot of ’em.”

Muslims have been taunted outside Trump events, and at one event in South Carolina, a woman in a hijab who stood in silent protest was escorted out by police as Trump supporters booed her, chanted Trump’s name and suggested she was a terrorist.

Trump can’t be blamed for everything his followers do. But his ascent has coincided with a rise in the number of anti-Muslim incidents to the highest level the Council on American-Islamic Relations has ever found. A sampling from the past two months:

●A self-proclaimed Trump supporter was sentenced in California for making death threats outside a Muslim center and for building pipe bombs.

●Demonstrators claiming to be Trump supporters staged public desecrations of the Koran in Atlanta and Phoenix.

●A man chanting Trump slogans at a gas station shouted “brown trash” and other epithets at a Muslim who is student-body vice president at Wichita State University in Kansas. (The Trump backer and a friend of the Muslim student were charged for fighting.)

●A man in downtown Grand Rapids, Mich., was captured on cellphone video chanting “Trump!” and yelling “Kill the Muslims.”

●And here in Washington, my Chevy Chase neighbor was attacked on her way home from her county-government job when she stopped outside Starbucks to use the WiFi. She says she told the responding officers that her attacker had invoked Trump, but that detail apparently didn’t make the police report.

Riaz Haq said...

Is #China to Blame for Political Extremism in #America? Where Jobs R Cut by #Chinese Trade, Voters Seek Extremes.

COURTLAND, Ala. — In this forlorn Southern town whose once-humming factories were battered in recent years by a flood of Asian imports, Rhonda Hughes, 43, is a fervent supporter of Donald Trump. Her 72-year old mother is equally passionate about Senator Bernie Sanders.

Disenchantment with the political mainstream is no surprise. But research to be unveiled this week by four leading academic economists suggests that the damage to manufacturing jobs from a sharp acceleration in globalization since the turn of the century has contributed heavily to the nation’s bitter political divide.

Ms. Hughes avoids discussing the election with her mother, but their neighbor Benjamin Green, 83, knows just what Washington needs. “It’ll take a junkyard dog to straighten this country out,” he said.

Cross-referencing congressional voting records and district-by-district patterns of job losses and other economic trends between 2002 and 2010, the researchers found that areas hardest hit by trade shocks were much more likely to move to the far right or the far left politically.

“It’s not about incumbents changing their positions,” said David Autor, an influential scholar of labor economics and trade at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and one of the paper’s authors. “It’s about the replacement of moderates with more ideological successors.”

Mr. Autor added: “In retrospect, whether it’s Trump or Sanders, we should have seen in it coming. The China shock isn’t the sole factor, but it is something of a missing link.”

In addition to Mr. Autor, the research was conducted by David Dorn of the University of Zurich; Gordon Hanson, a professor at the University of California, San Diego; and Kaveh Majlesi of Lund University in Sweden.

“Exposure to import competition is bad for centrists,” Mr. Hanson said. “We’ve known that political polarization and income inequality track each other, but that pattern is simply a correlation. We’ve now found a mechanism for how economic changes create further political divisions.”

Parker Griffith experienced the move away from the political middle firsthand.

A so-called Blue Dog Democrat who represented Courtland and the rest of Alabama’s Fifth Congressional District, he switched to the Republicans in 2009 and metamorphosed into a moderate Republican. But that wasn’t enough to save his seat.

Dr. Griffith was beaten in the Republican primary in 2010 by Morris J. Brooks Jr., who has emerged as one of the most right-wing members of Congress.

“If you’re under economic stress and you can’t provide for your family, the easiest answer is to find someone to blame,” said Dr. Griffith. “Mexicans, illegal immigrants, Obama.”

Representative Brooks has said that he would consider “anything short of shooting” illegal immigrants to get them out of the country and that he favored imposing heavy tariffs on China to “level the playing field” and punish Beijing for what he sees as currency manipulation.


As the South industrialized in the second half of the 20th century, poor Alabamians who once toiled on farms were able to secure a toehold in the middle class. In the shadow of Tennessee Valley Authority dams that supplied cheap power, thousands of workers sewed jeans and T-shirts, and could earn upward of $20 an hour in heavily unionized factories.

But the collapse of the apparel industry here in the first decade of the 21st century, following China’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001, reversed that process.

Nearly 10,000 manufacturing jobs disappeared. At 7.4 percent, the regional unemployment rate is well below its peak of 12.8 percent in 2010, but remains far above the national average of 5 percent.

Riaz Haq said...

#Houston, #Texas # Republican tries to block nominee, Syed Ali, from party office for being #Muslim. #Islamophobia

A Christian pastor in the nation’s third-most-populous county tried to stop a Muslim man from serving in the local Republican Party because of his religion.

The massive jurisdiction of Harris County, Tex. — with 4 million residents in the city of Houston and its surroundings — has more than 1,000 precincts, and the Republican Party appoints a chair for every single one. Approving the people picked by a committee to fill some of those spots should have been a run-of-the-mill task.

But Trebor Gordon stood up at a meeting of the county’s GOP on Monday night. He said that Syed Ali — a 62-year-old Houston resident who has been a loyal Republican since the Reagan administration — should not be appointed.

Gordon said that Ali should be blocked “on the grounds that Islam does not have any basis or any foundation. It is the total opposite of our foundation.”

“Islam and Christianity do not mix,” Gordon said. Party chairman Paul Simpson said that Gordon serves as chaplain for the Harris County Republican Party and is a part-time pastor at a Houston-area church.

“During my prayer, this man did not bow his head. During the pledge of allegiance, he did not utter a word. He didn’t even try to fake it and move his lips,” Gordon said at the meeting, where attendees said nearly 200 people were present. “If you believe that a person can practice Islam and agree to the foundational principles of the Republican Party, it’s not right. It’s not true. It can’t happen. There are things on our platform that he and his beliefs are total opposite.”

Seeing her party chaplain make such a motion, precinct chair Felicia Winfree Cravens said she was stunned. “There were more shocked faces in that room than you could count,” she said. Cravens’s camera happened to be rolling — she said she was showing a friend how to use the new Facebook Live tool, so she was broadcasting the otherwise humdrum party meeting. Suddenly, she found herself capturing the discussion of Ali’s religion on tape.

The Houston area has more Muslim residents than most other parts of the United States. More than 1 percent of the city’s residents are Muslim, and the city has more than 80 mosques and at least 10 Muslim schools, according to the Houston Chronicle.

The debate over the motion was brief but contentious. One man brought up the party’s rules prohibiting discrimination on the basis of religion. That prompted another man, identified by Simpson and Cravens as precinct chair Mike Robertson, to stand up to ask whether Islam is a religion at all.

“Can I have a point of information?” Robertson said. “Has there been any factual information provided that Islam is a religion?”

Ali did not speak during the debate. One precinct chair, Dave Smith, came to his defense. “In our founding document, the Constitution, even back 230 years ago, when our founding fathers were establishing rules by which our country would be governed, they specifically put in there: no religious test,” Smith said. “No religious test is good enough for the founding fathers. It’s good enough for me.”


Cravens said that as someone active in Republican politics, she is seeing much more anti-Muslim sentiment in her Facebook feed lately, in conjunction with the rise of Donald Trump. “If there were a hashtag more intense than #NeverTrump, I would be it,” she said.

But she does not know whether Trump has increased anti-Muslim viewpoints or just exposed them. “I don’t know how much of that is preexistent that he’s tapped into, or how much of that is him making people feel safe to say things like that, or if I just didn’t notice it,” she said. “I wouldn’t want to lay at the feet of Donald Trump something that he merely capitalized on.”

Riaz Haq said...

#Republican Sen. Bob Bennett from #Utah Apologized to Muslims for #Trump While on Deathbed. #MuslimBan via @nbcnews

In the final days of his life, former Utah Republican Senator Bob Bennett turned to his son and asked him, "Are there any Muslims in this hospital?"

The question caught his son, Jim Bennett, off-guard. It felt like a non-sequitur, and he thought it may have had something to do with his father's recent stroke.

But Jim said his father, even after the stroke, was "sharp as a tack."

"So I was standing there with him in the hospital and out of nowhere he asked me, 'Are there any Muslims in this hospital?'" Jim Bennett told NBC News Wednesday evening.

"I said, 'Yes, dad, I'm sure there are.'" Jim said of the conversation, which was first reported by the Daily Beast. "And he was very emotional and said, 'I want to go up to every single one of them and apologize, I want to go up to every single one of them and tell them how grateful I am that they are in this country and apologize on behalf of the Republican Party for Donald Trump.'"

Jim Bennett said that when he later spoke to his mother, Joyce Bennett, about the conversation, she told him that expressing a sense of inclusion for ostracized populations, especially Muslims, had become "something that he was doing quite a lot of in the last months of his life."

Joyce told her son that his father had approached people wearing hijabs in an airport to "let them know that he was grateful they were in the country and the country was better for them being here."

Bennett, a three-term Republican Senator who lost in Utah's 2010 Republican primary to two tea-party opponents, had become increasingly concerned with Trump's rhetoric in recent months, even after he had initially written off the billionaire businessman when he first jumped into the race.

"I think he got increasingly troubled as he saw the Republican Party becoming the party of Trump," Jim told NBC News. "I think Trump's rise was really the motivation for him to recognize the importance of expressing his desire for inclusion. He just felt it was his responsibly to push back."

Jim said that his father became interested in Islam after 9/11, citing a desire to be informed about the religion while making policy decisions in the wake of terrorist attacks.

"He spent a lot of time studying Islam and wanting to be informed enough to that he wouldn't be making decisions on the floor of the Senate ignorantly," Jim said.

Bennett also took issue with Trump's comments related to immigration, considering the former Senator's support for comprehensive immigration reform was a contributing factor in his 2010 defeat.

"He felt like immigration required a comprehensive solution," Jim said of his father, "And that didn't go over well with Utah delegates who just thought that building a big wall, in a Donald Trump fashion, was the only way to go."

Jim Bennett told the story about his father's comments about Muslims at both memorial services for his father, telling NBC News he "was so grateful to be able to see that demonstration of integrity when there were so many other things that could have been front of mind for him during that time."

"I was just very proud of him," Jim said. "It just demonstrated the integrity of my father wasn't just a public front, that even in personal moments of his last days, this was something that was of deep concern to him, and that he was thinking of other people before he was thinking of himself."

Riaz Haq said...

Only 15% of the capital on Wall Street goes into investments in real businesses on Main Street. #US #Capitalism

risis always brings opportunity. And right now, we are having a crisis of capitalism unlike anything experienced during the last four decades, if not longer. The evidence is everywhere – in rising inequality, in the division of fortunes between companies and workers, and in lethargic economic growth despite unprecedented infusions of monetary stimulus by the world’s governments (a huge $29tn in total since 2008). Eight years on from the financial crisis and great recession, the US, UK and many other countries are still experiencing the longest, slowest economic recoveries in memory.

This has, of course, diametrically shifted the political climate, creating a paradigm of insiders versus outsiders. In the US, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are different sides of the same coin; in Britain, Jeremy Corbyn is an equally dramatic response to establishment politics. The challenges to the political and economic status quo are not going away anytime soon. A recent Harvard study shows that only 19% of American millennials call themselves capitalist, and only 30% support the system as a whole. Perhaps more shocking, the numbers are not much better among the over-30 set. A mere half of Americans believe in the system of capitalism as practised today in the US, which is quite something for a nation that brought us the “greed is good” culture.

In some ways that is no surprise because, as I explore in my new book, Makers and Takers: The Rise of Finance and the Fall of American Business, the system of market capitalism as envisioned by Adam Smith is broken – the markets no longer support the economy, as a wealth of academic research shows. Market capitalism was set up to funnel worker savings into new businesses via the financial system. But only 15% of the capital in the financial institutions today goes towards that goal – the rest exists in a closed loop of trading and speculation.

The result is much slower than normal growth, which holds true not just in the US but in most advanced economies and many emerging ones. The politics of the day – populist, angry, divisive – reflect this, in the US, Europe and many parts of the developing world as well.

But the bifurcation of our economy and the resulting fractiousness in politics has become so extreme that we are now at a tipping point. And as a result, we have a rare, second chance to change the economic paradigm – to rewrite the rules of capitalism and create a more inclusive, sustainable economic growth .

Riaz Haq said...

Global 1%, #Asia Middle Class Gained Most from #Globalization, not Middle Class in #America, #Europe. #Trump #Bexit

It is by now well-known that the period from the mid-1980s to today has been the period of the greatest reshuffle of personal incomes since the Industrial Revolution. It’s also the first time that global inequality has declined in the past two hundred years. The “winners” were the middle and upper classes of the relatively poor Asian countries and the global top 1%. The (relative) “losers” were the people in the lower and middle parts of rich countries’ income distributions, according to detailed household surveys data from more than 100 countries between 1988 and 2008, put together and analyzed by Christoph Lakner and myself, as well as my book Global Inequality: A New Approach for the Age of Globalization, which includes updated information to 2011.

The chart above, the Global Incidence Curve, shows the world’s population along the horizontal axis, ranked from the poorest to the richest percentile; real income gains between 1988 and 2008 (adjusted for countries’ price levels) are shown on the vertical axis.

The expansion of incomes around the median of the global income distribution was so overwhelming that it ensured global inequality’s decline — despite the real income growth of the top 1% and rising national inequalities in many countries. Real incomes more than doubled between 1988 and 2011 (though the extension to 2011 is not shown in this chart), a shift that involved large swaths of people (almost a third of the world population, most of them from Asia). And although our data for the past are quite tentative and in some cases not much better than guesses, it is still the first time since 1820 that global inequality is deemed to have gone down, from approximately 69 Gini points to around 64. (On the Gini scale, 100 would be complete inequality while 0 would be complete equality).


The intuition behind this result is easy to grasp. In most countries, and especially in the big ones like China, India, the United States, and Russia, national inequalities have risen. So if people are more focused on national inequality, their concerns about what is happening at home will dominate the “objective” reduction of inequality across the globe.

This may be politically a more meaningful way to look at global inequality, and it leads to a somber conclusion. Even if globalization were to be associated with an absolute real income improvement for all, or almost all, and reduced global inequality, if it is also associated with rising national inequalities, the unhappiness stemming from the latter may dominate. Globalization may be “felt” to produce a more unequal world, even if it objectively does not. Then the very facts that are globally hopeful and reassuring may have domestic consequences that are the very opposite.

Riaz Haq said...

The One Demographic That Is Hurting #HillaryClinton: White Men Without College Degrees Overwhlemingly Favor #Trump

In six polls conducted this month, Mr. Trump leads among white registered voters without a degree by a margin of 58 percent to 30 percent. This has been true, to varying degrees, for the entire year. It’s a significant improvement over Mr. Romney in 2012, who led in pre-election polls by a 55-to-37 margin among this group.

In some new polls that are showing Mr. Trump with an overall lead, he has even larger leads among white working-class voters. A Monday CNN poll, for instance, had him ahead by three percentage points nationwide with a 66-to-29 edge among this group. The last live interview poll to show Mr. Trump ahead before the convention, an ABC/Washington Post poll, showed Mr. Trump with a 65-to-29 lead among the group. Conversely, Mrs. Clinton leads when she holds down her losses among these voters.

The notion that Mr. Trump could remain competitive through gains among one group may counter expectations. The prevailing story line of recent elections held that Democrats overcame weakness among white working-class voters with sweeping demographic shifts to a more diverse electorate. This framework implied that white working-class voters had been reduced to just a fraction of the electorate, and that the Republicans had little room for gains among them.

But white working-class voters represented about 44 percent of 2012 voters, and President Obama was not especially weak among them. Across the North, he ran even with, or ahead of, John Kerry in 2004 and Al Gore in 2000 with that group. In raw numbers, there were more white-working class voters who supported Mr. Obama than nonwhite voters or college-educated white voters.

Mr. Trump has adopted a message all but perfectly devised to attract these voters. He has a populist message on trade and immigration. He has abandoned key elements of the Republican agenda that hurt the party among white working-class Democrats, like support for cutting the social safety net.

Mr. Trump may also be benefiting from gender. Analysts have tended to treat the “gender gap” as if it always helps Democrats; Democrats are usually said to have an advantage among women, not a disadvantage among men. In truth, there’s no way to distinguish between the two. Mrs. Clinton’s big drop-off among less-educated white men at least raises the possibility that she faces a significant gender penalty among this group.

It is also possible that less-educated white men are reacting to rapid changes in cultural and economic status, completely independent of Mrs. Clinton’s gender. No liberal arts college class on “power, privilege and hierarchy” will tell you that white working-class men have become a disadvantaged group.

But many white working-class men do not feel privileged — not in a society where power and status are often vested in well-educated elites along the coasts. From their standpoint, the Democratic Party might look like an identity politics patronage system — affirmative action, immigration, “political correctness,” gender or whatever else.

Regardless of the exact sources of Mr. Trump’s strength, his narrow but deep appeal has the potential to shake up the electoral map. The extent that Democrats are dependent on white working-class voters varies considerably by state. So, too, does the extent to which Republicans depend on college-educated white voters.

Riaz Haq said...

#Houston Chronicle's VERY Surprising Endorsement of #HillaryClinton over #Trump for president … via @Bipartisan Report

On Friday, the Houston Chronicle made its official endorsement known in an article titled: “These are unsettling times that require a steady hand: That’s not Donald Trump.”
‘Any one of Trump’s less-than-sterling qualities — his erratic temperament, his dodgy business practices, his racism, his Putin-like strongman inclinations and faux-populist demagoguery, his contempt for the rule of law, his ignorance — is enough to be disqualifying. His convention-speech comment, “I alone can fix it,” should make every American shudder. He is, we believe, a danger to the Republic.’
The Chronicle is very clear about how it came to its decision, despite endorsing Mitt Romney in the last election. Normally, they wouldn’t endorse any candidate this early in the race, but they explained their reason for doing so as follows:
‘The Chronicle editorial page does not typically endorse early in an election cycle; we prefer waiting for the campaign to play out and for issues to emerge and be addressed. We make an exception in the 2016 presidential race, because the choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is not merely political. It is something much more basic than party preference.’
‘An election between the Democrat Clinton and, let’s say, the Republican Jeb Bush or John Kasich or Marco Rubio, even the hyper-ideological Ted Cruz, would spark a much-needed debate about the role of government and the nation’s future, about each candidate’s experience and abilities. To choose the candidate who defeated them — fairly and decisively, we should point out — is to repudiate the most basic notions of competence and capability.’
The Houston Chronicle clearly recognizes the fact that the Republican presidential nominee has sent the Republican party into turmoil. Many Republicans have purposely distanced themselves from Donald Trump, and there will undoubtedly be more Republicans giving a wide berth to the GOP candidate before the November election is upon us. Being that Texas is considered a “red” state, it is safe to assume that this election is about a lot more than respective parties.

Riaz Haq said...

From #Modi's Guru Golwalkar to #GOP's #Trump: #India's #Hindu Nationalists Cheer & Pray for #Trump. #Islamophobia

INDIA’S Hindu right is desperately seeking a role in the American elections even if it’s a walk-on appearance in a crowd scene. It asks if its right-wing friends from Israel can tip the balance in a keen American contest, why can’t the Hindu right be at least a cheerleader. After being rapped on the knuckles by Barack Obama a few times — following the cordial talks with Prime Minister Modi in Delhi, for example — the Hindu right wants a less censorious incumbent in the White House. Public prayers and weird voodoo rituals have been invoked to boost the chances of Donald Trump.

The two have much in common. Mr Trump claims to speak for core American values, passing off contrived fear for nationalist fervour. In India, the Hindu right has laid claim to defining — rather, it has been allowed by a somnolent opposition to prescribe — what is nationalist and what isn’t. Someone’s stand on the Kashmiri uprising is the signal for praise or rebuke. They both hate Muslims. And, as Mr Trump’s aversion of Latinos expands his arena of nurtured prejudices the Hindu right targets the tribal communities of the northeast.

Hindtuva goons, raised on political patronage, periodically bludgeon Manipuri and other people from the northeast in Delhi and elsewhere. Mr Trump’s veiled fear of African Americans mutates in India into physical assaults on students and visitors of dark complexion. As with Muslims and Dalits, African residents find it difficult to rent a house in Delhi.

Mr Trump and the Hindu right have a common ancestor too: Adolf Hitler. As such, they are joined at the hip in their biases. About Muslims, Trump says: “They’re not coming to this country if I’m president. And if Obama has brought some to this country they are leaving, they’re going, they’re gone.”

Trump and the Hindu right have a common ancestor: Adolf Hitler. As such, they are joined at the hip in their biases.
As his wife plagiarised from Michelle Obama’s speech, Trump borrowed without attribution from Guru Golwakar’s book We or Our Nationhood Defined. The early pioneer of the Hindu right wrote: “The non-Hindu people of Hindustan must either adopt Hindu culture and language, must learn and respect and hold in reverence the Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but of those of glorification of the Hindu race and culture ... In a word, they must cease to be foreigners, or may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment — not even citizens’ rights.”

There was a notable difference though. Golwalkar’s reference to non-Hindu people included Indian Christians. This should not deter any alliance of two utterly right-wing demagogues. After all, Golwakar’s praise of Germany’s treatment of Jews didn’t deter his followers from bonding with right-wing leaders in Israel.

“To keep up the purity of the race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic Races — the Jews,” Golwalkar wrote with approval. “Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well nigh impossible it is for Races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by. Ever since that evil day, when Moslems first landed in Hindustan, right up to the present moment, the Hindu Nation has been gallantly fighting on to take on these despoilers. The Race Spirit has been awakening.”

Riaz Haq said...

Review: In ‘Hillbilly Elegy,’ a Tough Love Analysis of the Poor Who Back Trump

In late July, The American Conservative ran an interview with J. D. Vance that drew so much traffic it briefly crippled the central nervous system of the magazine’s website. The interviewer’s last line implored readers to have a look at Mr. Vance’s publishing debut, “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis.” Ever since, his book has hovered at high altitude on Amazon, seldom dipping below No. 10.

After reading “Hillbilly Elegy,” you can easily understand why. This is a historically peculiar election cycle, boisterously disrupted by outsiders, one of whom found the perfect host body in the Republican Party and became its presidential nominee. An investigation of voter estrangement has never felt more urgent, and we’re certainly not getting one from the lacquered chatterers on the boob tube.

Now, along comes Mr. Vance, offering a compassionate, discerning sociological analysis of the white underclass that has helped drive the politics of rebellion, particularly the ascent of Donald J. Trump. Combining thoughtful inquiry with firsthand experience, Mr. Vance has inadvertently provided a civilized reference guide for an uncivilized election, and he’s done so in a vocabulary intelligible to both Democrats and Republicans.

Imagine that.

On the checklist of modern privilege, Mr. Vance, 31, has the top four in the bag: He is white, male, straight and Protestant.

But his profile is misleading. His people — hillbillies, rednecks, white trash, choose your epithet (or term of affection, depending on your point of view) — didn’t step off the Mayflower and become part of America’s ascendant class. “Poverty is the family tradition,” he writes. His ancestors and kin were sharecroppers, coal miners, machinists, millworkers — all low-paying, body-wearying occupations that over the years have vanished or offered diminished security.


Squint, and you’ll note the incendiary nature of Mr. Vance’s argument. It’s always treacherous business to blame a group for its own misfortunes. Certainly, an outsider cannot say what Mr. Vance is saying to his kin and kind. But he can — just as President Obama can say to fellow African-Americans, “brothers should pull up their pants,” as he did on MTV.

The difference is that President Obama believes poverty, though it may have a cultural component, is largely a structural problem, one the government can play a large role in fixing. Mr. Vance, a conservative, takes a far dimmer view.

Whether you agree with Mr. Vance or not, you must admire him for his head-on confrontation with a taboo subject. And he frames his critique generously, stipulating that it isn’t laziness that’s destroying hillbilly culture but what the psychologist Martin Seligman calls “learned helplessness” — the fatalistic belief, born of too much adversity, that nothing can be done to change your lot.

What he’s really writing about is despair.

Never is Mr. Vance more aware of this pessimism and estrangement than when he leaves for Ohio State University. He’s plumped with hope; his neighbors, left behind, feel its opposite. “There was something almost spiritual,” he writes, “about the cynicism of the community at large.”

His friends and relations are convinced that the media lies. That politicians lie. That the military, an institution they revere, is fighting two fruitless wars. Universities feel “rigged” and inaccessible; job prospects are slim. For what purpose do you live under such circumstances? When the stanchions of your life have sunk into the muck?

Mr. Vance doesn’t have all the answers. But he’s advancing the conversation.

Riaz Haq said...

Review: In ‘Hillbilly Elegy,’ a Tough Love Analysis of the Poor Who Back Trump

Mr. Vance was raised in Middletown, Ohio, a now-decaying steel town filled with Kentucky transplants, which at one point included his Mamaw and Papaw — in newscaster English, that’s grandma and grandpa — who moved there shortly after World War II. Though the couple eventually managed to achieve the material comforts of a middle-class life (house, car), they brought their Appalachian values and habits with them. Some were wonderfully positive, like loyalty and love of country. But others, like a tendency toward violence and verbal abuse, were inimical to family life.

Papaw was forever coming home drunk. Mamaw, “a violent nondrunk,” was forever tormenting him, whether by serving him artfully arranged plates of garbage for dinner or dousing him with gasoline. All this guerrilla warfare affected their children. Mr. Vance’s mother was an empress of instability — violent, feckless, prone to hysteria. A long stint in rehab couldn’t shake her addiction to prescription narcotics (she’d later move on to heroin). She spun through more boyfriends than this reader could count and at least five husbands.

The only reason Mr. Vance made it out in one piece is because his grandparents eventually reconciled, becoming his unofficial guardians. (He also spent a terrifically affirming four years in the Marines.) Mamaw was especially encouraging. She was tough as snakeskin, foul-mouthed as a mobster and filled with love. In a town where many children don’t finish high school, she raised a grandson who managed to graduate from Ohio State University and Yale Law School, defying skyscraping odds.

In Mr. Vance’s estimation, the answer is: a lot. Economic insecurity, he’s convinced, accounts for only a small part of his community’s problems; the much larger issue is hillbilly culture itself. Though proud of it in many ways, he’s also convinced that it “increasingly encourages social decay instead of counteracting it.”

His frustration with the nonworking white poor is especially acute. He recalls being a cashier at a Middletown grocery store and watching resentfully as his neighbors, who had creatively gamed the welfare system, jabbered on their cellphones as they were going through the checkout line.

He could not afford a cellphone.

“Political scientists have spent millions of words trying to explain how Appalachia and the South went from staunchly Democratic to staunchly Republican in less than a generation,” Mr. Vance writes. He suspects those cellphones have a lot to do with it. “I could never understand why our lives felt like a struggle while those living off of government largess enjoyed trinkets that I only dreamed about.”

Time and again, Mr. Vance preaches a message of tough love and personal responsibility. He has no patience with an old acquaintance who told him he quit his job because he hated waking up early, only to take to Facebook to blame the “Obama economy.” Or with a former co-worker at a tile warehouse who missed work once a week though his girlfriend was pregnant.

Riaz Haq said...

#Clinton is trying to woo #Muslim voters. They could make all the difference. #Trump

Two years ago, Muslims made up just under 1 percent of the U.S. population, according to the Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study. But the population is growing; Emerge USA, which collects data on Muslim voters and has a political action committee to support candidates, puts the number at closer to 2 percent of the population.

Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia “alone add up to almost 1 million Muslim voters,” said Khurrum Wahid, a Miami-based lawyer and the organization’s founder. “With a decent voter turnout in those states, Muslims will be the swing vote in both the presidential and many close House races.”

Most Muslim Americans now lean Democratic, according to the Pew study. In past decades, many were fiscally conservative, pro-family and eager to see their cities get tough on crime. Surveys conducted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the American Muslim Alliance in the aftermath of Bush’s 2000 election found that between 72 percent and 80 percent of Muslims polled said that they had voted for him. But after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and Bush’s rhetoric on religion and decision to invade Iraq and Afghanistan, the majority began voting Democratic.

At the same time, Muslims are generally less politically active than the larger American population; only 62 percent of those who were U.S. citizens were certain that they were registered to vote, compared with 74 percent of adult U.S. citizens overall, according to Pew.

To reach those voters, the Clinton campaign has appointed two state-level Muslim outreach coordinators to work with Mitha, and the campaign also has dispatched Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the first Muslim elected to Congress, and Huma Abedin, Clinton’s close adviser and deputy campaign manager, to key swing states across the country.

Ellison estimates that he has met with at least 10 Muslim groups since the July convention. One recent Monday morning, he showed up in a tiny Orlando doctor’s office where the campaign was holding its kickoff phone bank for Muslim volunteers and rattled off reasons Muslims should vote for Clinton.

Riaz Haq said...

Berkeley Rep casts a vote with Sinclair Lewis' ‘It Can’t Happen Here’ featuring Trump-like main character Buzz Windrip:

“We’ve got to change our system!” “Smash the crooked labor leaders!” “Make America a proud, rich land again!” They sound like the rants of a certain current Republican nominee. But they’re actually the ravings of Sen. Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip, the villainous presidential candidate in Sinclair Lewis’ 1935 novel “It Can’t Happen Here.”
The tale’s uncanny similarities to the current election, with demagogue Windrip pandering to the electorate’s basest instincts, inspired Berkeley Rep to adapt the novel into a new play that opens the company’s season on Friday, Sept. 30.
After their originally scheduled play dropped out, Artistic Director Tony Taccone and Associate Director Lisa Peterson decided to mount a political work in parallel with the election. “It was February,” Taccone recalls in a sunny room at Berkeley Rep’s offices. “Trump was gaining enough traction that you were like, ‘Oh, that’s curious.’ The book started to get referenced in articles about him.”
“I Googled ‘it can’t happen here,’ thinking, is that a thing?” says Peterson, who also directs the production. “Then we read that it had a theatrical history.” They had unwittingly dusted off an 80-year-old exemplar of political performance.

Lewis is better known for the novels “Main Street,” “Elmer Gantry” and “Babbitt,” as well as a 1930 Nobel Prize in Literature and a 1926 Pulitzer Prize that Lewis declined for “Arrowsmith.”
But “It Can’t Happen Here,” a cautionary tale about the rise of fascism through the American democratic process, was a best-seller in an era when Mussolini led Italy and Hitler was consolidating power in Germany. The complacent American populace is represented by protagonist Doremus Jessup, a Vermont newspaperman who realizes too late that it can, indeed, happen here.
Capitalizing on the book’s popularity, the Federal Theatre Project, an endeavor of the Works Progress Administration, commissioned Lewis and screenwriter John C. Moffitt to adapt it for the stage. And in a stroke of ambition not seen before or since, it premiered in 22 theaters, across 18 states, on Oct. 27, 1936.
Each locale interpreted the script in its own way, including a San Francisco version peppered with air-raid sound effects, Yiddish adaptations in New York and Los Angeles, an African American version in Seattle, and a Spanish translation in Tampa, Fla. (Lewis himself did a turn as Jessup in a Massachusetts summer-stock run in 1938.) Along with providing theater professionals with several months of desperately needed work, the productions entertained more than 500,000 people nationwide and doubled as antifascist propaganda.
But, Taccone says, “It was a terrible play. It was super-melodramatic and didn’t really tie to the book.” Many critics savaged it for those same reasons, but John Hobart praised the San Francisco production, presented at the Columbia Theater (now the ACT’s Geary Theater), in his review for The Chronicle. Describing it as a “taut drama” and “probably the most ‘important’ production the Federalites have yet put on,” he also made the wide-eyed observation that Windrip “combines the chief characteristics of Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin with some of the less admirable qualities particular to the third-rate American politician.”
Nonetheless, Taccone and Peterson decided to go back to the source. “The novel’s got a very witty voice, and Lewis’ understanding of American politics was fantastic,” he says, and he and screenwriter Bennett S. Cohen wrote a new script with today’s social climate in mind. “The messenger was different back then,” he explains. “The world had not encountered Hitler yet, but now we are so aware. We talked a lot about how this (story) can still be impactful.”

Riaz Haq said...

#Trump Hotels Ditching Name For New #Hotels as Bookings Plummet 59%. New name: Scion … via @TravelLeisure

According to Hipmunk, bookings at Trump Hotels plummeted 59 percent during the first half of 2016 and data from Foursquare shows a 17 percent drop in foot traffic at Trump properties since June 2015, when the reality TV star announced his presidential bid.