Tuesday, May 31, 2016

So, on the day thousands lost their lives violently at sea, what did the local news look like? May 31, 1916

Well, given that the Battle of Jutland was a naval battle, we can't expect it to show up in the day's news, even the late editions, at all.

Indeed, something that's easy to forget about the battle, as we tend to think of the later battles of World War Two a bit more (which also features some large surface engagements, contrary to the myth to the contrary) is that World War One naval battles were exclusively visual in nature.

That's not to say that radio wasn't used, it most certainly was. But targeting was all visual.  And as the battle took place in the North Sea, dense fog and hanging smoke played a prominent role in the battle.

Now, we note that, as while the British and German fleets were using radio communications, they weren't broadcasting the news, and they wouldn't have done that even if it were the 1940s.  And the radio communications were there, but exclusively military.  News of the battle had to wait until the fleets returned home, which is interesting in that the Germans were closer to their ports, so closer to press outlets.  Indeed, the point of the battle was to keep the Germans in port, or at the bottom of the sea.

So, on this day of a major battle, maybe in some ways the major battle of World War One, what news did local residents see?

The death of Mr. Hill, and the draft Roosevelt movement were receiving headline treatment in Sheridan.

I'm surprised that there was a University of Wyoming student newspaper for this day, as I would have thought that the university would have been out of school by then.  Maybe not.  However.  Interesting to note that this was published the day after Memorial Day, so it was a contemporary paper.  Now, the current paper, The Branding Iron, is weekly, I think.  The crises of the times show up in the form of UWs early ROTC making an appearance on Memorial Day.

The Battle of Jutland Commences: May 31, 1916

The epic clash of the German and British fleets commences off of Jutland.  The end result is still debated, but that the British retained naval dominance in the Atlantic is not.

Of small interest here, Jutland is that Danish peninsula that juts into the North Sea and which some believe gave its name to the Jutes, once of the three Germanic tribes that immigrated to Great Britain in the 400s.

The 1916 naval battle has gone down as oddly contested in its recollections, which it still is today.  The Germans immediately declared it a victory, but as British historians have noted, the end result was that the German fleet was bottled up for the rest of the war where it did nothing other than consume resources and, in the end, contribute to revolt against its employer.

The battle is seen this way as Admiral Jellicoe did not crush the German fleet and because the British lost more men and ships than the Germans did.  In strategic terms, however, its clear that the British turned the Germans back and sent them back into port. . . forever.  Strategically, therefore, it was a British victory.  The debate otherwise is due to the lasting strong suspicion that the British could have actually continued the contest and demolished the German fleet, which would have ended any threat of German surface action for the remainder of the war.  Admiral Jellicoe did not do that, but then as was pointed out by Winston Churchill he was the only commander in the war who was capable of loosing the war in a day, which no doubt factored in his mind.  Had the British guess wrong in the battle, and the early stages of the battle were all guess work, the result may well have resulted in Allied loss in the war itself.

Jutland stands out as such a clash of naval giants that its somewhat inaccurately remembered as the "only" clash of dreadnoughts, which it isn't.  It was, however, a massive example of a naval engagement between two highly competent massive surface fleets.  It wasn't the first one of the war, but it would be the last one.  In spite of the seeming ambiguity of the result, the battle effectively destroyed Germany's surface fleet abilities forever.

Monday, May 30, 2016

How did the average person celebrate Memorial Day in 1916?

We've been looking, as the few readers of this blog know, at 1916 a lot recently. This started off with the Punitive Expedition centennial (which we're still looking at and will be until its conclusion, next year), but we've also been figuring in a lot of day in the life type of stuff, and general 1916 news.  Indeed, as we've noted, some might start to grouse that this blog is becoming the This Day In 1916 blog, which it isn't (or doesn't intend to be).  Probably the flood of miscellanea that figures here so regularly, however, keeps that from occurring.

Anyhow, one thing I started to wonder is this.  How did the average American actually celebrate a day like this, Memorial Day, in 1916?  And by this I mean outside of the public observations?

Here, as pretty much everywhere, there are public observances.  One big one here is that middle school students decorate the graves of veterans in our local cemeteries, as depicted here on Some Gave All


Oddly, a big even this Memorial Day is one of the local high school's graduation ceremonies. That's not a normal Memorial Day event anywhere.  I can't recall the reason why this was scheduled this way, but the school district is fairly tightly constrained on when a graduation must occur and, if I recall correctly, use of the facility was not possible for any other day.  The local principal is game, stating:   "being able to celebrate Memorial Day with 400 graduates and over 3,000 people in the stands up at the Events Center, I just don't know how we could do it any better."  Last time, however, there were some miffed people, as in the case of this comment from 2014:  "It is as if [the district has] forgotten the sacrifices made to make this country what it is".  This time, with an oilfield slump going on, there haven't been many complaints.

But what about the other observances, other than public, that we could have found in 1916?  What did people do.

Now, I suppose they visited local cemeteries to visit the graves of their own veterans.  In 1916, there were still Civil War veterans left alive, so that would have been very much in mind, I'd suppose.  But what else occurred on this national holiday, in an age when more people took holidays off (and indeed, when I was young that was the case as well).

For example, in this day and age, we can expect a lot of barbecues on Memorial Day.  It's almost become the standard expectation of the holiday.

Did people barbecue in 1916?

I'm sure they had outdoor eating, perhaps more really than we do now (or perhaps not). But did they grill hamburgers?  Or was it a dog sort of day?  Was a lot of beer consumed?

I'm guessing the answer on the beer is likely yes.

 Shriners barbecue, October 21, 1922.  This must have been a pretty big event as Budweiser was clearly sponsoring it.  This isn't 1916, of course, but 1922 wasn't that much later

Did they barbecue?

Well, maybe.  To my surprise, there's a lot of photographs of barbecues in that period:

Big barbecue, September 11, 1915, featuring elk.  This looks sort of like we might expect on the Olympic Highway in some localities today, but for the comparatively formal dress.

Rabbit barbecue, following rabbit hunt, Texas, 1905.

GAR Barbecue, 1895.

None of these are backyard barbecues, of course. But it seems pretty clear to me that if you went to a big outdoor gathering, and there were some to be sure, there was a good chance that you were going to eat barbecue.  A lot of it seems to be the really traditional type at that, with roasted pigs and sausage, and other meats.

That's quite a bit different, of course, from the backyard barbecue or the backyard grill.  Were people firing those up, and maybe inviting a few friends over for burgers and dogs, and a bottle of beer?  

Well, maybe, but not in the same way.

The backyard gas grill wasn't invented until the 1950s, so that was clearly out.  Surprisingly, perhaps, the common charcoal grill wasn't around until that time either, so its a near contemporary of the gas grill.  Commercial charcoal briquettes were first introduced by the Ford Motor Company (yes, Ford) as a byproduct of automobile production, as a lot of wood went into early cars and they were trying to figure out what to do with the scraps.  and you'll note these barbecues tend to feature the proverbial pig in the ground, although I'm sure they weren't all that way.

I've seen, of course, outdoor brick barbecues, including at least one I'd fear to use in nearly any circumstance, and I'm sure people did that. And there there are fire pits with grates, which would be somewhat similar.  So I'm sure that some use was made of such things, although it would also be the case that most people didn't.

Stone and iron outdoor barbecue circa 1940s.

And I'd guess the barrel type of barbecue, or smoker, like the ones my former neighbors had, that they fueled with mesquite, can't be a new item either.  None of which is to say that the average person would have fired any of these types of things up on a typical early 20th Century Memorial Day, or any other day.

Even if they were barbecuing something, it probably wasn't hamburgers, the staple for such things today.  Hamburgers, in the fashion we conceive of them, the "hamburger sandwich", originated in the late 19th Century to the early 20th Century but they didn't become a really popular item until after World War One. White Castles, one of the first hamburger chains, dates to the 1920s.  So, in 1916, we couldn't expect hamburgers to be grilled up in the backyard, even if a person grilled up anything in the backyard, which as we can see would have been a lot less common.  People used hamburger, of course, but the hamburger, as in the sandwich, wasn't around quite yet.  It came roaring in when it did, but it hadn't arrived, except in a few localities on a local basis.  Indeed, if you ordered one, you'd most likely be getting fried hamburger, which is what a hamburger actually is. Salisbury Steak, in other words (which is the same thing).

FWIW, the Library of Congress credits Louis Lunch, a lunch wagon in New Haven Connecticut as inventing the hamburger, albeit with slabs of toast, not buns.  The restaurant is still in business and still serves hamburgers in that fashion.

Well, what about hot dogs?

You'd have a better chance of running into these.  Hot dogs have been around in common food circulation since the mid 19th Century.  Indeed, they had an association with street food and with baseball by the early 20th Century.

New York hot dog carts, 1906.

None of which means that people were serving up a lot of hot dogs at Memorial Day gatherings in 1916.  But maybe a few people did.

If there were backyard Memorial Day gatherings therefore, I'm guessing that they'd be more like the July 4th gathering depicted in A River Runs Through It.  That is, people cooked stuff and brought it. I'm guessing that would have more likely been the norm.

Which isn't to say that they gathered much on that day at all.  I'm sure some folks did.  I'd guess that some veterans of the Civil War did, in the north and west.  At this time, and well after it, Confederate Memorial Day, or Decoration Day, was a different day in the south.  Oddly enough, the first Confederate Memorial Day came a few years before Memorial Day.  In 1916, this tradition would have still been a somber southern one.

Which leads me back to where I started off.  I'm speculating, and don't know the answer to my question.  Maybe somebody here does?

Memorial Day, 1916

So, on Memorial Day, 2016, let's look back a century at Memorial Day, 1916.

Armored car in a parade in New York City.  Mounted policemen, on the left edge of the photo, truly look a lot more mobile and effective than this armored car.

This had to be a really somber Memorial Day.  World War One was raging in Europe. Ships were going down in the North Atlantic.  American soldiers were chasing Villa in Mexico. All that must have hung over the heads of the citizenry like a dark cloud.

Still, usually something goes on for this holiday. And some of it ends up on the front page of the news in anticipation of the day.  Let's see what we can find around the state and nation.  We've put one up above, a parade was held in New York City that featured a rather martial, if rather antiquated looking even then, armored vehicle.

One of the Casper papers didn't see fit to really announce anything on the front page for the day.

One of the Sheridan papers urged honoring veterans.

Another Sheridan paper did honor veterans, and of the conflict with Mexico.  Memorial Day festivities were also noted.

Interestingly, the death of Confederate John Singleton Mosby was also noted.

And Colorado National Guard officials were resigning in the wake of the Ludlow strife.  Quite a paper, all in all.

An important death figured on the front page of the Cheyenne Leader. By that time, that paper was summarizing "the War", meaning the war in Europe, on a regular basis.  Memorial Day was noted in the context of the Grand Army of the Republic, i.e., the Union troops who had fought in the Civil War (although not all joined the GAR of course).

Scandal, war and violence figured on cover of the Wyoming Semi-Weekly Tribune.

War and the "draft Roosevelt" movement took pride of place on the cover of The Wyoming Tribune, which also noted Memorial Day in the context of the Civil  War, which after all is what it commemorated.

The Curious Case of Judge Neely

Ruth Neely is a Pinedale town judge in Pinedale. She also serves as a "Circuit Court Magistrate" (court commissioner?) in Sublette County.  I've never met her and really have no idea of who she is, save for the fact that she's in the news.

She's in the news as a reporter for the Pinedale Roundup called her the day after the U.S. Supreme Court, pretty clearly departing from an orthodox reading of the Constitution, found a right for people of the same gender to marry each other, even though such a right had not been conceived of in human history up until about the past twenty or so years.

At that time, I was pretty concerned that the decision would have dire consequences.  No matter what a person thinks of same gender marriage, the Supreme Court's decision was, quite frankly, outside the law.  Decisions by high courts that are outside the law inspire contempt for the court, and frankly when people look out now and wonder "how could Donald Trump have gotten so far?", they can in part thank Anthony Kennedy and his fellow travelers.  This is the year of contempt for established authorities and the Supreme Court has contributed to that. Trump has stated he'd appoint judges that would reverse Obergfell, and he likely would. For some, that's all the more they need to vote for Trump.

But that's besides the point here.

The point here is what happened to Judge Neely.

Neely, in her role as a jurist, has the right, but not the duty, to perform marriages.  The Pinedale Roundup, in a role that sort of doesn't pass the smell test, asked her if she was excited about being able to preform same gender marriages. She replied that she didn't think she could, due to religious objections.

Now, note here first that under Wyoming's law, she doesn't have to perform any marriage.

Note also, of course, that she didn't think she would now omit doing marriages entirely, but rather she'd omit doing same gender marriages, maybe.

That lead to the Wyoming Commission on Judicial Conduct and Ethics recommending her removal, and that's now before the Wyoming Supreme Court.

Now, on first blush, this all seems rather simple, and peoples' views tend to boil down to their view on same gender marriage. Those who oppose it feel that this is a free exercise of religion issue, and that Neely is being persecuted for her beliefs.  Those who don't care about that issue or who favor same gender marriage feel that if Neely can't preform those sorts of marriages, she ought to resign or be removed.

But the question is a lot, lot, trickier than all of that, and a lot more important.

First of all, the law doesn't say that Neely has to perform any marriage.  Apparently she does, rather obviously, but she isn't required to.  So, presumably (but not clearly) if Neely had stated, and maybe she should, that she was no longer going to perform any civil marriage, this issue wouldn't exist at all.  That's not entirely clear, as maybe she still would have faced sanction, but there is clearly an issue here as if she feels she can preform some marriages, but not others, even if the law allows them to be preformed, she is exercising some sort of prejudice of a type, no matter what you think of it.

Indeed, a person might say that at one time some people objected to marriages between blacks and whites. Could a judge refuse to do inter racial marriages?  Pretty clearly not.  And that's the argument generally made.

Of course, the problem with that argument is that the concept of marriage dates back to vast antiquity and as far as we can tell, it's been with us for all time in all cultures.  And, for all time and in all cultures, marriage has been defined as being between opposite genders. That's the unifying element of it.   In some cultures women have had somewhat equal rights with men in marriage.  In some they have had no rights.  In some cultures men can marry more than one woman simultaneously.  In most they are limited to one.  In a very few cultures a woman can simultaneously marry more than one man.  In some cultures the concept of divorce is common, in others its frowned on or, at least up until the last century, disallowed.  But it always has involved members of opposite gender.
Indian couple, from our earlier thread Et Ux.  We can easily recognize this couple as a married couple with little explanation needed, including no explanation on their religion or culture.

So here, Neely is being cast away, maybe, for having the view that the majority of human beings have had for human history, and indeed the view that the majority of human beings have right now.  Under the common concept of the natural law, which ties marriage the concept of protecting natural born children, she's 100% correct.

All that makes this not really comparable to concept such as a person shouldn't marry outside their race, or culture, etc., which is another matter.  That members of different races can create children is obviously well established.  So, again, under natural law principals prohibitions on members of different races marrying is unnatural, and invalid.  Under natural law principals, marriages between members of the same gender strain for a reason to exist, and the U.S. Supreme Court had to come up with fuzzy and legally unsupportable reasons based on human affirmation, which isn't a point of the law.

All of which makes this tricky.

And trickier still if you start to make other analogies based upon moral objections.

If Neely were a district court judge, for example, and felt that the death penalty was immoral and that she couldn't serve on a trial in which the death penalty was being asked for, as it would potentially morally implicate her in a killing contrary to her beliefs, would she be ineligible to serve as a judge and subject to the same penalty, or could she simply recuse herself?  I suspect that this question would never come up in that case as most people would simply say that she could recuse herself.  What about those sometimes celebrated instances in which judges have refused to impose harsh sentences, or sentences they deemed harsh, under the Federal sentencing guidelines.  Almost every Federal judge hates them.  Instances of judges refusing to impose them aren't everyday affairs, but they aren't uncommon either. Should the judges be impeached?  Most would say certainly not.

All of which further goes to show that what we regard as an act of bigotry and what we regard as something we tolerate, let alone something we regard as proper for an office and what we otherwise regards as disqualifying a person to hold that office is really tricky.

By way of an example, back in the 1970s and early 1980s, the Army allowed Sikh soldiers to grow beards, as they must in keeping with their religion's requirements.  But then the Army started to prohibit that, citing the need to be able to seal a gas mask, which a beard apparently prohibits.  Now the Army has started to allow bearded Sikhs once again, which I think they should, but was the Army's middle policy bigoted?  A person would hate to die in a gas attack and troops would suffer if their CO did.  And where does that stop?  Some Central Asian religions prohibit the cutting of hair entirely.  Should the Army accommodate that?  Some require special headgear. Should the Army accommodate that?  Actually, the beards, long hair, and headgear item all apply to Sikh's and the Army is accommodating all of that (and again, I'm glad they are).

Does the same logic extend to jurists?  If a person feels the death penalty is immoral, is that something that should be accommodated if they are a jurist?  What about those who sincerely believe that same gender marriage is inappropriate, should they be allow to opt out of performing them?  And indeed, at what point is society saying, on one hand, "anything ought to be tolerated", but then on the other, "traditional Christian, Islamic, and Judaic positions on morality are not to be accommodated", all applying to official positions.  Clearly, in the last instance, it would seem that Justice Kennedy was of the view that this issue could be ignored in public office to the determent of those holding that view.

All of which shows how tricky it is perhaps to have anyone with strong beliefs now hold public office. A person has to have the bowl of oatmeal view of such items that Kennedy does, apparently, to hold public office.  And is that a good thing?  It wouldn't seem so.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Roads to the Great War: 100 Years Ago - a Pyrrhic Victory: German Forces Secure the Crest of Mort Homme

Roads to the Great War: 100 Years Ago - a Pyrrhic Victory: German Forces S...: On 21 February 1916 the German Fifth Army, commanded by Crown Prince Wilhelm, sent eight divisions against the French army around Verdu...

Sunday Morning Scene: Churches of the West: Virginia Dale Community Church, Virginia Dale, Colorado

Churches of the West: Virginia Dale Community Church, Virginia Dale, Colorado.

This is the Virginia Dale Community Church in Virginia Dale, Colorado. Virginia Dale isn't really a town anymore, and may never have been, and the church isn't in any sort of town or village. This is an example of a rural church, located in a field just south of the Virginia Dale store and post office, which is just over the Colorado-Wyoming line. Other than knowing where it is, I don't know anything else about it.

The church also has a rural cemetery next to it.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

High School Graduation and Introspection. A Colonel Nickerson moment.

 Me, at the fish hatchery, when I was probably about three or four, placing this photograph in 1966 or 1967.  My father to my right.  He'd live to see me graduate from law school and start practice, but not much longer htan that.
I've been thinking. Tomorrow it will be 28 years to the day that I've been in the service. 28 years in peace and war. I don't suppose I've been at home more than 10 months in all that time. Still, it's been a good life. I loved India. I wouldn't have had it any other way. But there are times when suddenly you realize you're nearer the end than the beginning. And you wonder, you ask yourself, what the sum total of your life represents. What difference your being there at any time made to anything. Hardly made any difference at all, really, particularly in comparison with other men's careers. I don't know whether that kind of thinking's very healthy, but I must admit I've had some thoughts on those lines from time to time. But tonight... tonight!
Colonel Nickerson, musing to Colonel Saito, on the bridge, in the film Bridge On The River Kwai.

I've  been having a lot of moments like Colonel Nickerson recently, although thankfully I'm not a Prisoner of War in Burma during World War Two (I doubt I'd be afflicted with introspection in that situation).  No, it's not my services as an officer in the British Army in the waning days of the British Empire that's causing me introspection, but rather high school graduation.

Not mine.  Well, maybe mine. But more than anything, brought to mind by the graduation of my son.

I graduated from the same high school in 1981.  For that matter, my father graduated from the same high school in 1947.  He didn't seem similarly afflicted, but  then he kept a lot of his feelings to things to himself.  I'm not sure I do as well with that, and I do think, to some extent, that can be a virtue.  Anyhow, if he harbored introspective thoughts dating back to that time, when I graduated 34 years after he did, he didn't show it.  I'm not sure that I am as my son graduates 35 years after I did.  Hard to believe that much time has passed.  But it has.

And its the passing of that time and the opening of options that causes me to ponder.  Like Colonel Nickerson, the options aren't opening up for me, but for a younger generation.  I worry about them.

I worry in part because the country seems to be on such a set of railroad tracks as to its general direction that it concerns me.  While it makes me sound like somebody "feeling the Bern" I feel the country has gone badly economically off track.  And while it makes me also sound like somebody listening to Trump, or maybe the more radical elements of the Green Party, I also worry about a nation that that seems to have concluded that its ability to exploit the resources of the country is unlimited, and its ability to absorb a human population has no limits. When I read, as I recently did, that Denver plans on building 10,000 homes this year, I wonder why they aren't crying in agony on the process of making the hideous blight of prairie a titanic hideous blight of the prairie.  I guess I'm some sort of aboriginal at heart and I don't see things going in a direction that has very many, or maybe any, positives right now.

But I worry about that, or rather I've been pondering that, in the context of what's noted above.

I graduated from the University of Wyoming's College of Law in 1990.  I've worked as a lawyer ever since that, never having had a break of employment, and all for an employer I started working for in 1989, only eight years after I graduated from high school.  That's not an uncommon lawyer's story, and that's one of the things that perhaps was the most attractive of about a career in the law.  There was always work (much less true for new lawyers now) and a person could find a good job and keep it for their entire careers.  I've been doing this now for twenty six years, almost the same as Nickerson's twenty eight in the film.  I'm not complaining about that.  But in noting what seems to have been a well planned path of early hard work and industry paying off in the form of work (indeed hard work) and stability would be painting a false picture.

And it is odd to think of.

Particularly in a year like this, which has not been a good one for me on a personal level, which has nothing to do with a professional level, unless you stop to think that a person's life is their life, and there really is no such thing as a personal level or a professional level.

My father in the early 1950s, while in the Air Force. This photo was taken in Casper, so it may have been right at the end, or right at the beginning of his service.

 My mother, second from right in light colored dress, with her sisters, in St. Lambert Quebec.  This photo would date from the 1940s.

My father, to whom I was very close, died in 1993.  I don't know that a person ever really gets over the death of a parent they were close to.  He was only 62 years old at the time. For years I'd mentally mark things I meant to tell him next time I saw him, but then of course rapidly recall that he was not here to talk to. My  mother died several weeks ago, but she'd been dying all year long.  Being very busy professionally and with two kids in high school, 2016 has been a blur.  That's probably why there are so many blog posts this year.  When I'm stressed, I tend to write.  My mother and I were not as close as my father and I were for complicated reason that had a lot to do with her long term health.  The past seven years she was not able to live at home and its been a huge burden in all sorts of ways, including psychologically, quite frankly.  Now that she's gone, in some odd way, the healthy active mother I recall from my youth, really all the way back prior to my being in high school, has sort of returned.  I'm glad of that.  By the same token, her memory now visits me more it seems than it did when she was in the final long years of her decline.  Present stress, as it were, has yielded to past recollections.

But, in the context of this year, past recollections also turn to present introspection.

I can't, in the present context, help but looking back to 1980-81 when I was a senior in high school getting ready to graduate.

At that time, I only had sort of dim general ideas about what I might "want to do" for a living. Since then, I've become so cynical about this topic that the "want to do" aspect of it strikes me as a bit of an illusion. I know some people doing what they want to do, but most careers are what people do because that's what they can do, their lives have evolved to do, they have been placed to do, or that they end up doing.  Do the many cubicle workers in big offices do that because they want to?  I doubt it.  Does that mean that people who have ended up where they are dislike it?  No, that certainly isn't necessarily the case either.  In looking at the lawyers I know, I know a few who always wanted to be lawyers and love it, but I also know some that have had long happy careers that ended up there the way I did, life took one turn, and then another, and then another.  I suspect that latter path is more common.  Or perhaps it was more common, with that being not so much the case now. In any event, those turns, the "and then another, and then another" are precarious.

But when you are a senior in high school you get a lot of questions, nearly endless questions, about what you want to do or are going to do.

Looking back, I recall some of the kids I knew then having pretty distinct ideas about what they wanted to do. To the extent that I know what they are doing now, only a couple of them really had those ideas pan out.  That's pretty common, and its part of the angst of being a parent and part of the angst of being that age.  One of my friends wanted to become a dentist, but became a very successful electrician. Another started off an engineer, changed several times, and then dropped out, but became a successful businessman.  One who always wanted to be a geologist ended up being a teacher.  Of my undergraduate geology colleagues only one, that I know of, ended up employed in the field as a career. Of the graduate students I knew, and kept up with, all ended up successful, but only one actually ended up in geology.  One went on to own a business that is closely related to geology, two ended up lawyers in addition to me.  This take odd turns, or sure can.

An added angst about being a parent is that as a parent you are well aware that doors really start slamming shut for people right about this age.  There's a really common set of slop dished out at that age that things will work out, that you have time, etc.  In truth, every decision you start making at that age starts to have real ramifications and long term impacts.  A decision not to go to the University of Wyoming in 1981 probably saved me from being a university drop out, in my view, about a year later.  Casper College, the local, and excellent, community college, was truly a better path for me.  That decision, however, lead to an immediate decision to enlist in the National Guard, as I'd planned on taking Army ROTC at UW, as I was still interested, although increasingly less so, in a possible military career.  By the time I got down to UW two years later that interest had passed, although not because I didn't like being in the Guard, I did.  I just realized that wasn't a path I wanted to take.  Having said that, having joined in the Guard was one of the very best moves post high school I ever made, and I made it weeks after my high school graduation.  A decision not to take any more math in high school than I had to (which wasn't much, at that time) ended up being a painful decision in me in college as I essentially had to take two full years of high school algebra and geometry in one semester, which I didn't enjoy.  Even though I took up through Calculus II in university, and a semester of physics, I've felt mathematically impaired ever since.

It was a bit of a suggestion from my mother that lead me to major in Geology.  I'd been interested in majoring in Wildlife Management, but a single comment from my father about the difficulty in finding a job in that field deterred me.  Geology, due to the time period I took it, was the same way by the time I graduated.  At that time, in 1986, I applied for and was admitted to Geology grad school and law school.  Law school was an idea that just vaguely occurred to me because of a suggestion by Jon Brady, a Casper College history teacher who had a law degree, that I had an analytical mind and should consider law school, maybe.  I'm sure he didn't know what my actual major was.  I've since learned that there's one other lawyer here in town that ended up a lawyer due to a suggestion from Mr. Brady.

I never considered any other four year school other than UW, even though my mother suggested it.  So here one thing happened after another, in a stumbling fashion, and I ended up where I ended up.  In 1981 when I graduated, I had no intention or concept of being a lawyer.  In my first two years of college I repeatedly flirted with dropping out, and probably only because I was living at home, and more particularly living at home with my father, kept me from doing that.  He never said I had to stay in school, but he did absorb my complaints and didn't feed into them, and so I kept on.  By the time I was in UW all thought of dropping out had passed and I made it through a very tough field of study, only to graduate to unemployment.  Law school was a breeze compared to my geology undergraduate (and I've never since understood why anyone thinks law school, any law school, is tough.  It isn't).  Coming back to Casper I re-met the girl who would become my spouse.  Fate, happenstance, synchronicity?  Who knows.

The same is true, I'd note, for my parents.  My father's father died when he was just out of high school.  It was my grandmother who caused my father to go on in school, not my father.  He was working at the Post Office at the time and would have stayed there.  My mother, who later graduated from Casper College, was pulled out of school, during the Great Depression, to work by her mother.  Reaching her 20s, she went to Western Canada against the wishes of her mother, which took iron grit on her part.  Who would see those twists and turns coming?

What I do know is that things are dicier than they seem.  And quicker.  A decision to "take a year off" often becomes a decision to settle for jobs that are low paying, forever.  Going to work in a high paying manual labor job at 18 often turns into unemployment and unemployable by 38.  A hitch in the Marine Corps at 18 tends to turn into a default decision never to go to school that's effectively made by 24.  Minor bad decisions, or even slight bad turns, turn out to be huge life altering mistakes in more than a few instances.  Keeping on keeping on becomes an imperative after high school, in those first few years, but the culture somewhat tends to camouflage that.

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Random Snippets: Marx got it backwards

Under Marxist theory, a bourgeoisie society was a necessary step on the way to a socialist proletarian state.

In actual implementation, it turns out that it works the other way around.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Blog Mirror: Wyoming Postcripts: Would You Have Passed 8th Grade?

Would You Have Passed 8th Grade?

Congratulations to the Class of 2016! . . .

Questionable advice?

Beer advertisement from the year we've been featuring.

I wonder about this advice.  It seems absurd, but perhaps it really isn't.

And actually, apparently the advice had been around for awhile.  Anheuser-Busch had actually made a malt supplement for this very purpose, although it wasn't alcoholic in nature.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Tracking the Presidential Election Part VI. The wobbly Democratic Party.

In part III of this series, I address the sad situation in the Republican party, a scene so bad that some people believe the party is on the verge of death and, in spite of an effort to unify the party behind the "presumptive  nominee", we are actually still seeing an effort to find an acceptable third party candidate by some Republicans who are big names.

First the tell of the tape:

Democrats:  Needed to win, 2,383.

Clinton: 2,293 (525 of which are Superdelegates)
Sanders:  1,533 (40 of which are Superdelegates)

Republicans:  Needed to win, 1,237.

Trump:  1,161 (of which 58 are unpledged delegates).
Cruz:  567   Cruz has suspended his campaign. (of which 18 are unpledged delegates)
Rubio:  168.  Rubio has suspended his campaign.
Kasich:  159.  Kasich has suspended his campaign
Carson:  8  Carson has suspended his campaign.
Bush:  4  Carson has suspended his campaign.
Fiorina:  1  Fiorina has dropped out of the race.
Paul:  1  Paul has dropped out of the race.


Well, if the GOP is in ICU, laying right there in the bed next to it is the Democratic Party, something that's become increasingly obvious as the Sanders campaign and its supporters have finally managed to get some press, late in the election, and as they start to become increasingly vocal about their discontent about the coronation of Hillary Clinton as the 2016 Democratic nominee, a move that reflects just how ossified the Democrats are.  Indeed, the insurgent Sanders wing of the party is now actually in full revolt.

A notable feature of this election is that, even though the country has more Democrats than Republicans, the Democrats would have been blown out of the saddle this year but for the fact that the GOP apparent nominee is even more unpopular than Hillary Clinton.  It's an amazing feat that the Republicans have pulled off, managing to find a candidate that actually is throwing voters to a candidate who is really unpopular, maybe.

I say maybe, as its still possible, although extremely unlikely, for Sanders to win. With a campaign that the press has treated as dead right from the onset, he has continued to win state after state and would be within striking distance of Clinton but for the Superdelegates, those delegates that the Democratic establishment have established to prevent the nomination of anyone who isn't solidly Democratic mainstream.  If the Republicans are facing an internal revolt, they at least have a democratic method of letting the steam off and the party adjust.  The Democrats, however, have built in a structural roadblock that's actually designed to prevent that, and for that reason, the fact that the party is nearly as ill as the GOP hasn't been apparent.  But the Democrats are a house of cards, held up right now only by the lack of a strong wind from the Republican Party.

How did the second American political party enter the same state of advance decay that the GOP did, and how can it address it?

Well, its where it is largely for the same reason that the GOP is where it is.

And to do that, we need to take a look at its history, to see how it got to where it is.  More particularly, how did the Democratic Party become a working class liberal party in the 20th Century, only to devolve to an effete, East Coast, upper class white WASP lite party?

As with the GOP, we find that story starting once again with the election of 1912.  It's amazing how pivotal that election really was, and the extent to which its defined the evolution of the parties for over a century.

 More Trump than Clinton, Andrew Jackson was the first Democrat to be elected President.  Even up until fairly recently Jackson was celebrated by Democrats in an annual "Jefferson Jackson Day" in most places, including in Wyoming. Recently, they've started omitting Jackson's name, cognizant that he wasn't exactly a modern liberal.

The Democratic Party is the oldest political party in the world.  It hasn't always been anything like the party it is today, however.  Prior to 1912 it was basically a conservative party with a strong secondary base in ethnic immigrants.  It was steeped in racism (which it didn't overcome in 1912) and it was the party that basically had come down on the wrong side of the Civil War.  Prior to the war the Democrats were strong supporters of Manifest Destiny, while the GOP opposed it, two positions that have oddly sort of lived on in the parties in spite of themselves, as the Democrats have always been more strongly associated with the violent maintenance of American ideals overseas, while the Republicans have not.

That the party survived the Civil War at all is stunning, in that the Democrats opposed the war for the most part and the Democrats had a strong Southern base, which the war did not disrupt.  Following the Civil War it retained its basic conservative base and it remained the party of Southern whites, which meant that after Reconstruction was defeated that it was the party of the South.  Only blacks provided a base for the GOP in the South at the time.  Still the war meant that the Democrats were out of the Oval Office for a 20 year period.

Running up to the 20th Century an aspect of the Democratic Party in the North that was already there became cemented as the Democrats also strongly came to be associated with ethnic minorities, and often Catholic ethnic minorities, such as the Irish.  The machine system in politics was extremely strongly expressed at the time and that strongly favored Democratic recruitment of disfavored minority voters in a region where the Democrats were otherwise not very strong.  With patronage being the basis of the effort, and successfully, in the North the party came in some ways to be partially defined by this, while ironically in the South its membership was much different.

 William Jennings Bryan, populist, and Presidential candidate at age 36.

The evolution of the modern party oddly began with an odd issue, coinage.  The Depression of 1893 threw monetary policy into focus and populist Democrat William Jennings Bryan ran on the platform of free coinage of silver, as ridiculous idea that would in no way have served to end the depression.  This makes Bryan recognizable, in some ways, to our modern era in that he was campaigning on an easy fix to a complicated problem that really had no hope of offering a solution to it.  The party nearly split in half as the conservatives in the North and the South united in a breakaway party, the National Democratic Party, which was started by Grover Cleveland and saw the recruitment of Woodrow Wilson.  Bryan took the nomination, in a manner that's somewhat reminiscent of Donald Trump today, and he saw huge crowed in the rural Midwest and South before he went down in epic defeat in 1896.  The result was a disaster, but it did start to bring into focus a populist movement that was brewing in both parties at the time, much as the same is occurring in both parties now.

What started in 1896 developed in 1912, and the upper class elements that had been the National Democrats united with populists and progressives to basically swipe the progressive movement from the GOP. The GOP was clearly split on progressivism at hte time, and the Democrats had their chance, which they took with Woodrow Wilson.  From that moment on the Democrats have been the liberal, or as it is sometimes said, the progressive, American political party, solidly to the left of the Republicans.

 Woodrow Wilson, of whom we've been seeing a lot here recently.

That 1912 liberal party wasn't what we see today, however, and its not really quite how the Democrats define themselves today. For one thing, Wilson was highly racist, but this didn't really matter to a party that didn't count on black or minority votes anywhere, and which could and did count on Southern whites, who really remained more reflective of the old conservative Democratic Party.  But the roots of the current party were there. They really came forth into bloom into what Democrats imagine themselves to be, however, with the 1932 election.

 Considered by some to be a "traitor to his class", Franklin Roosevelt as President.

In 1932 the Democrats elected the most liberal, by default, President the nation has ever seen, Franklin Roosevelt.  Coming up when he did, he came up in a party that had developed since 1912 in an era of increasing radical politics in the United States. The GOP remained solidly conservative during this time period, and the Democrats solidly liberal, except in the South, but the Socialist Party and even the Communist Party were serious parties from about that point until World War Two.  Angling for the votes of blue collar laborers, the Democrats found themselves contesting with really radical parties which saw some success.  The Great Depression brought that battle into sharp focus and the Democrats, seeking to address he nation's ills, went sharply to the left, basically taking the wind out of the hard left's sails, but also becoming a much more liberal party itself.  This continued to develop throughout the Great Depression and World War Two, during which the Democrats became solidly party nearly defined by support for working class laborers.  It became the part of the "working man".  Consistent with the general policy of progressives, it also became the party that favored expansion and protection of American ideals beyond our shores.

Coming out of World War Two, the Democrats were a solidly working class party that also had a strong base of ethnic Catholics and nearly the entire white Southern population.  It was very pro labor, and by that we mean pro organized labor.  It was in favor of big government and it also was in favor of a very active foreign policy designed to counter threats to American interest and in favor of American values.  Having been in favor of entering World War Two long before the Republicans, who only came to that opinion on December 7, 1941, the party tended to see, and often correctly, analogies with Hitler in Communist movements all over the globe.  The party was also strongly anti-colonial in terms of its foreign policy.  A recognition on its part that its support of the working class everywhere meant that its hostility to blacks in the South started to force the reform of the party on civil rights as well and blacks in the South started to join the party for the first time, following blacks in the North that had started to do so while FDR was President.

Following World War Two that Democratic Party remained the party up until the late 1960s.  It was the party's interventionist foreign policy that undid it.  The Democrats lead the nation into two wars following World War Two, neither of which was wildly popular.  Intervention in the Korean War in 1950 came first, obviously, and had the impact of finally ending GOP isolationism as the majority platform of the GOP.  The election of John F. Kennedy in 1960 saw the party take a "go anywhere" view towards intervention which shortly lead the country into a conflict in Vietnam.  It's interesting to note that during Eisenhower's Republican administration, the first GOP administration in over 20 years, the country eschewed intervention in foreign campaigns, leading in part to the Communist takeover in Cuba, while this changed rapidly with Kennedy coming into office.
 U.S. soldier in the Korean War and . . . 

Vietnam.  Two post World War Two wars which started for the US with intervention under Democratic Presidents, and not featuring Declarations of War, and which ended during the administration of Republican Presidents.

Vietnam would turn out to be a hugely unpopular war and that saw its reflection strongly in the Democratic Party. At the same time, the old hard hat blue collar base of the party really began to age out of politics.  Economic changes brought about by World War Two put the sons and daughters of blue collar workers into university where they remained in their parents party but lost their connection to the strong, often ethnic, working class societies their parents had been in.  As this occurred the union between theory (the Democrats had incorporated a lot of hard left economic theorist during the Great Depression) and practicality began to break down in the party.  The Democrats had been, because of their strong blue collar and ethnic base, surprisingly conservative on many domestic issues while practical liberal on economic ones, with the hard hat element of the base tempering strong leftist instincts that were otherwise there.  Staring in the late 1960s, however, with the economy doing well and younger members of the party divorced from industrial labor, while becoming increasingly radicalized in universities, the party began to transform into what it currently is.

The battle lines became sharply drawn in 1968s when Democrats literally fought each other at the Democratic Convention.  Hard Hat Democrats and the police, in a solidly Democratic city, rioted against war protestors, who were also Democrats, assuming that they were not in a party further to the left, over the war. The war, of course, had been brought about and maintained under two Democratic Presidents.  The result was the loss of the 1968 Presidential campaign and enduring memory on the part of the party insiders that its hard left elements had to be controlled or they'd bring the party down.

It didn't happen immediately at first, of course, but the impact was real and last to the current day.  Starting in 1968 the more conservative working class elements of the party became marginalized and began to leave it.  In the north the party increasingly became an upper class liberal party with little connection to working men or even to the ethnicities that had been strongly part of the part, although that process can be dated back to 1960 when John F. Kennedy started that process by suppressing any suggestion that his religious roots, strongly associated with an Irish base in the party in many cities, would not mean much.  The party really remained a separate party in the South, a legacy of the Civil War, but that would soon change too, but not before two Southern Democrats would in fact be elected President.

 Jimmy Carter, sometimes considered the first post Civil War Democrat to be elected to the Presidency since the Civil War, he was actually the second as Woodrow Wilson was as well, although his academic career had placed him in New Jersey at the time he ran for office.  Carter was an unsuccessful President, but reflected the best of the Southern Democrats.

The first of those was Jimmy Carter, a Georgian with strong rural roots, who reflected in many ways the Southern aspect of the party in the best way.  His Presidency failed however and he was replaced by Ronald Reagan, the first Republican President to separate southern Democrats from their party.  In fairness, while that strategy (often denied to exist by Republicans) was effective, the Democrats themselves started it in 1968.  The Southern party was largely conservative and the Northern party was increasingly liberal and highly urban.  By the 1980s the Southern Democrats were dying off, with that base defecting to the GOP in droves.

These factors, however, weakened the Democratic Party and it realized it.  In spite of being a liberal urban party in terms of its "establishment", it realized that the country was not as liberal, nor as urban, as it was, and starting with the election of its last Southern President, Bill Clinton, it worked to appeal to a broader base, hoping to retain Democrats who were not as left wing in the areas that it could.  The strategy has been very effective and the Democrats remain the largest American political party.  They've even gained since 2012 in some demographics, such as Catholics for example, where their social policies had been causing them to loose members.

And then came this election, the 2016 election.

But we need to look first at the election of 2008.

The election of 2008 and the election of 2012, for the Democrats, repeats what the Republicans  experienced, but have forgotten,in 1980 and 1988.  In 1980, the Republicans elected a new type of conservative with Ronald Reagan. In 1988 the old party mainstream seized the Presidency, and the party, back with the election of George Bush I.  The party is paying for hat now.

But that's what the Democrats have sort of experienced as well, and might, or might not, depending upon the rebellion going on in the Democratic Party.

President Barack Obama.  Like him or hate him, he's a point of departure for American politics, but perhaps the Democrats haven't realized that as of yet, a this year's choices show.  The first President to have come into his adult years without the Vietnam War and the 1960s as a point of reference, he's also the first President who is ethnically ambiguous, thereby reflecting the younger base of the party, rather than the older, whiter, and 1960s dominated nature of the party's elite.

Like him or hate him, Barack Obama was a different type of Democrat from those that came up in the party post 1968.  He is a true liberal, but a post 1968 liberal.  Not truly grounded in the hard core upper class effete branch of the Democratic Party, he has been a clever politician, and even if truly liberal on many things, he's held off in many areas and even declared what amounts to a truce in others.  He's been pretty ineffective in many areas, due to a professorial confusion of speech with action, but he's not a 1968 Democrat.  He's the first American President who has no 1960s frame of reference and the first who is really ethnically ambiguous.  He's not a 1960s, member of NOW, ERA, type of Democrat.

Hillary Clinton, however, is.

Clinton has a long history in the Democratic Party and came up in the party very much during its hyper liberal stage.  She represents the Boomer Party, which Obama does not.  If elected, she'll be the triumph of that wing of the party.  While Barack Obama has been regarded as highly liberal, and in his last year of office is indeed proving to be highly liberal and is actually remaking, to the distress of much of the country, the nation in a more liberal mold, perhaps temporarily, there's no doubt that Clinton retains a view of the world that can be found in the annals of the history of 1970s liberals, like most of the leadership of her party's elite, whether they've effected those views or not.

Which is the wing of the past.

And which is why there's a full scale revolt going on in the party.

The old fights that so concern the 1968-1978 liberals are largely ones that are either past concern, or are ones that society actually has caused to highly evolve and which are much different than those in the past.  The 1968 party still believes in "firsts", which the rest of American society put to bed with the election of Barack Obama.  Old causes, such as "women's issues", are largely unrecognizable to younger voters who have moved past those long ago, which explains why younger Democratic women are almost insulted by the suggestion that they are somehow required to vote for Clinton just because they are women.  Democratic base voters, moreover, who saw it as a matter of human justice to struggle for the rights of minorities and women do not necessarily equate those fights with ones that are based on social theory, such as re-identification of a person's gender or attacks on traditional marriage.  People who would have gone to jail to allow a black and white couple to marry are baffled in some instances by the suggestion that allowing people of the same gender to marry is the same fight, or that people are okay not to marry at all and are defined as "partners".  Indeed, to some there seems to be some retreat involved.  Rural voters who stayed in the party since the 1930s for support to rural populations are now baffled by why the Democratic Party seems so eager to disarm them.  Union members are baffled why the Democrats stood by and seemingly did nothing as the rich of both parties exported factories overseas.  To some extent, the natural base of the Democratic party has moved to the center or into lethargy on social issues that the party leadership, now that the gloves are off and they feel that they can surely win in the fall, has gone far to the left on.

The old Hard Hat Democrats in the Midwest and East, where they still exist, have produced a younger generation that is, moreover, nearly completely divorced from the upper class liberal wing of the party.  Their focus is economic, and on social issues they are may be or are far to the right of the leadership of the party.  The party's ethnic base is likely paper thin as those voters who still identify themselves as Democrats due to ethnicity are increasingly forced into a position in which their values are starkly in opposition to those espoused by the party.  A group such as Hispanics, for example, who are constantly presumed to be natural Democrats, are only Democrats on labor  and immigration issues.  On social issues their views are much more closely aligned to the Republicans.  In some areas of the country, such as the Rocky Mountain West, the Democrats became so disaffected with their own party that the majority of them left it and joined the Republicans or became independents, with t his move not being closely analogous to what occurred in the South.

But for the extremely strange GOP fight, caused by its ignoring its base, the Democrats would be dead in the water this year.  The Democrats seem set to chose Clinton against an insurgent Sanders in part because Sanders was ignored by the Press and because Democratic control over the party membership has proven to be more effective, although frankly only barely so, than Republican control over its base.  If Sanders, who has campaigned almost exclusively on populist economics issues, had been receiving the same level of attention that Trump did, he likely would be the front runner in actual "pledged" delegates.  Clinton's large margin is attributable only to the Superdelegates.

All of this reflects a party breakdown and the party is in fact breaking down. Sanders' supporters are now crying "foul" on a lot of the process and Democrats are starting to call for the head of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a spokesmen that only the upper class East Coast Democrats could love.  The Democrats, however, are in danger of massively misinterpreting what is going on at the establishment level, however, as the insurgency is being lead by a candidate that is economically on the extreme left of the party.  They better think twice about what they are seeing.

Looked at carefully, the successful Trump insurrection and the struggling Sanders insurrection share certain common traits, which is not to say that they are identical by any means, and which is not to say that the two personalities are the same.  Rather, what's seems to be motivating core elements on both sides is similar or identical, and that's disaffection with American Corporate Capitalism. Beyond that, the  Trump voters are reacting to forced social change and being repeatedly ignored by their own party.  The Democrats are mostly reacting to the same economic factors the GOP insurgents are, but they are also reacting to the ossified leadership of their party as well, but not really over the same set of issues, if any issue in particular.

At the voting both level both Democratic and Republican insurgents have a significant number of what I've referred to as "Hard Hat" voters.  Voters who live in regions that were once industrially strong but now are shadows of their former selves.  Ironically, when the boomers moved on and left their parents in the rust belt, they left a lot of their fellows there as well. Not everyone went on to university.  The "60s" that formed the backdrop for the boomers controlling the Democratic Party was not one single experience, but several. For many in the rust belt the 1960s saw the last era in which American industry was really strong in the steel, coke and automobile sense.  Those Democrats and their children were left behind and they know it.  Now forced into college academics by the dissolution of t he meaning of university and with no solid place to go, and even facing a  future in which the traditional blue collar escape careers, such as the law, no longer mean anything near what they once did, they feel themselves to be in a box.  Hence the demands for the concern for the working men and for "free" university for their children.  They have to do something, they know, and feel betrayed by a party that claims to have the rights of the working class at heart, but hasn't shown it, because it no longer really does in the same way it once did.  Sanders voters suspect that the Democratic Party is comfortable with the new economy that shipped their jobs overseas.  They want those jobs back or, if they can't get them back, they want to be allowed to be trained for the new world they didn't want.

That makes those voters much more conservative than Democrats like Clinton or Wasserman-Schultz, and even where they are liberal, they aren't the same kind of liberal.  Clinton looks and sounds like she's staring in a guest episode of Maud!, which doesn't mean much to a group of people who think The Big Bang Theory is funny.  She sounds like an artifact of the 1970s, because she is.  Sanders, who is older, doesn't.  Because he's an artifact of the 1930s, which now seems oddly fresh again.  When Clinton up talks the end of her sentences in her harsh voice about what is going to be achieved, it sounds oddly like a cry from 1974 more than 2016.  Sanders rhetoric may read like Huey Long, but it sounds fresh in 2016.

Looked at that way, the Democrats would be wise to reconsider the hard slide to the general left they are taking right now, although that frankly means accommodating themselves to flexibility which they do not seem inclined now to do.  Democrats don't seem to trust any state to make its own laws, and they tend to come across, on the national level, as a party headquartered in Greenwich Village that thinks everyone, everywhere else, is stupid.  No matter what they declare their policies to be, deep down they give the strong impression that they thought their platform up in a Vegan Deli where only graduates of East Coast universities with trust funds were admitted. That is, they sound like snots and they don't seem to realize what matters to a lot of voters, including their own party members.  They need to get over that.

For one thing Democrats need to realize that in a lot of areas, for example the knee jerk side of an argument, and lurching to the left, isn't how people think on things.  In the rural ares of the country, for example, tacking to the left on gun control is not appealing to Democrats, not actually relevant to that region, and it wipes out any chance that local Democrats have on anything.  That's partially the reason that Democrats are nearly dead in Wyoming. Democrats would be wise to leave that as a state issue, which basically has been the approach of Sanders who is to the right of Clinton on this issue.  On social issues involving life, death, and marriage, the Democrats should realize that they're driving away ethnic groups and religious groups that have traditionally supported them and they don't need to for any reason.  They've been driving them away since the 1970s, and have lost a lot of ground in some areas here, and they really cannot afford to continue on this path long term.  This points to the Democratic support of statism, that is control from the top, which is anti-democratic and something the Democrats should learn to reverse themselves on.  Democrats nearly everywhere tend to be lock step in line with the Greenwich Village Vegan Party while most of the country isn't.

The Party, however, as a party that doesn't dislike government and which is in favor of an active role for government shouldn't be afraid of actually addressing modern problems on a state or local level, but it has to have some flexibility to do that.  Taking my state as an example again, the field should be wide open for Democrats this year as the GOP has become hostile to much of what the state stands for in terms of open spaces. And some Democrats have taken advantage of that this year. But with a party that can't resist campaigning in opposition to the views of the majority of residents on social views, it's not going to do well.

And they shouldn't ignore economics which is their actual natural defining point.  Economics, more than anything else, is what put them in power in 1932 and which has defined them since.  Democratic insurgents who accuse the Democrats of selling out to Wall Street put their argument well.  There's really no difference between the Democratic Party and the GOP on economic matters.  The Democrats need to rediscover that its the voter in urban Detroit that maters to them, not the voter in Manhattan.

In other words, the Democrats shouldn't lurch to the left on everything, and they shouldn't use 1973 as their defining moment in the world.  And they ought to pick up their copies of Keynes and maybe even find Belloc and Chesterton.

More than anything, the Democrats have got to let the party leadership that's stuck in the 1970s go.  Claiming to be the party of diversity, the Democrats this year ran two elderly candidates who were both white.  Sanders is Jewish, of course, but post Obama that hardly matters.  He seems to be an elderly white man, which is odd for a candidate who is the hippest and coolest of the year.  Hillary Clinton seems to have been transported, Star Trek style, right out of 1974.

A good example of what I mean here might be given, again, by Wyoming.  This year there is a Congressional race going on in Wyoming. The GOP field has quite a few candidates, but because of the nature of the last couple of legislative sessions, right now the field is being dragged to the far right.  The field is open for the Democrats to try to challenge, and they are.  One of their announced candidates is a young man from the coal industry.  He's clearly a liberal, but he's also a liberal in a fashion that addresses some issues that are deeply appealing to Wyoming voters, such as access to public lands.  Well, of course, just yesterday Charles Hardy announced. Hardy symbolizes what's wrong with the Democratic Party.  He's 75 years old, a 1970s type liberal, announced right away that he was concerned with equality issues based on gender identification, and he's notable for having been a Catholic Priest that left his vocation to get married.  He may be, and probably is, a very admirable, deeply Christian man, but he calls to mind, in this sort of thing, the Berrigans of the 1960s and 1970s, and that ship sailed and sank long ago, for the US and for the Catholic Church for that matter.  That Hardy would feel he'd need to run, with a young more vigorous working class man actually running, says volumes about what the Democratic Party is, and what it needs to become.


Tracking the Presidential Election, 2016
Tracking the Presidential Election, 2016, Part II
Tracking the Presidential Election, 2016, Part III Sic Transit Gloria Mundi.
Tracking the Presidential Election Part IV
Tracking the Presidential Election Part V