Why Did Republicans Go For Trump?

Trump Ryan

A question that comes up in political discussions is why Republican voters went for Trump. There are three main categories: Why did he win the primary? Why did he get so much institutional support as the nominee that he was able to become President? And why wasn’t his bigotry a dealbreaker?

The first part of the question is why enough primary voters went for Trump. Part of the reality is that primary voters are a small section of the electorate, so if Trump was able to get new people to the polls he would have a strong chance. And he did. In terms of sheer numbers, he had less support in the primary than Ross Perot had as a third party candidate in 1992, but it made much more of a difference. Trump was helped by a media that gave him more coverage than the other primary candidates combined. Individual Republican candidates probably engaged in poor strategy figuring that someone else will take him out, or that he’ll collapse on his own. A crowded field also limited the chance for anyone else to stand out, and for the race to be a binary choice. But it also seems clear that the voters were in the mood for an outsider, as evident by strong showings for Herman Cain in 2012 polls, and Ron Paul in earlier primaries. Polls also showed that voters wanted a general sense of fairness, believing that the candidate who got the most votes should get the nomination, which made it tougher for anyone to get support maneuvering against Trump on technicalities.

I’ll address briefly the racism, sexism and Islamophobia. There is a part of that in the Republican party, just because it is the party of the majority—in other words, the party supported by cis heterosexual white Christians. There will be bigots among the Republicans, just as there will be different types of weirdos among the Democrats (socialists, radical minorities, etc.) There’s also a larger sense among right-leaning voters that political correctness is going too far, and that we’re not able to discuss potential policy solutions because the elected officials and the commentators are afraid of left-wing pushback. When previous accusations are unmerited, it also inoculates the next case. If McCain is called racist, or Romney is called sexist for having “a binder full of women”—which in context was the exact type of policy initiative liberals and anyone who wants to reduce the gender gap would prefer powerful men to engage in—it becomes tougher to recognize that in Trump. Democratic campaign surrogates had cried wolf too many times in the past.

The last part is why the party stuck behind Trump as the nominee. There the answer is simple. He had a better chance of offering the policy initiatives they wanted than Hillary Clinton, who made no serious effort to assuage conservatives. I’ve heard the argument that she needed to be more explicit in her policy proposals than Obama who was able to get better turnout among progressives based on his background (they knew they could trust a younger African American community organizer/ law professor.) However, the message that Donald Trump posed an existential threat to the republic was undercut by the lack of any concessions from Democrats to get nervous Republicans on their side, to convince them that it wouldn’t represent a significant change in policy should the party get control of three branches of government. Maybe it was a gamble that would’ve worked in most cases, and that was worth it so as to avoid tying the hands of a Clinton administration. Except in this case, enough Republicans thought the devil they didn’t know was better than the devil they did.

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13 Horror Movies in October


I’m continuing with a list of the films I watched, except this this time with a theme, focusing on thirteen horror movies.

Movie #133/ 1970s Movie #14: Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979- English language version)
This was the Herzog/ Kinski/ Adjani/ Ganz version of the Murnau classic. It’s an art film shot largely like a period drama, which makes Kinski’s vampire initially seem like a weird intruder, an entirely appropriate artistic choice. It takes some interesting turns, especially when Nosferatu reaches Germany, and we see the effects of the “plague.” It was shot in German and in English- I watched the English version, which was perfectly fine. This is easily one of the strongest takes on the Dracula story, and probably the best made by people who are still alive today.

Movie #134/ New Movie #96/ 1970s Movie #15: A Bay of Blood
An over the top 1970s slasher film with more victims than usual, and more people willing to murder those around them in an argument about real estate.

Movie #135/ New Movie #97/ 1970s Movie #16/ French Film #8: The Demons
I think I mistook Jesus Franco’s film for another European film with a similar name (the one produced by Dario Argento in 1985.) This one about the hunt for the descendants of a witch, and two sisters’ responses is a lot pornier than I expected, although it does cover the hypocrisy of the establishment well. The soundtrack is excellent.

Movie #136/ 2000s Movie #15: Trick ‘r Treat
A nicely produced take on interrelated stories in a small city in Ohio, even if the idea of all of this stuff happening at once further stretches credulity. It’s a lot of fun, and it certainly doesn’t drag.

trick r treat

Movie #137/ 1930s Movie #12: Dracula (1931- Spanish Edition)
The Spanish language version of the Bela Lugosi Dracula that was filmed at night using the same sets and many of the same costumes is a pretty decent horror classic. The camerawork is impressive, as the director was more interested in making a film than adapting a play, and made some changes based on dailies of the English language version. It’s half an hour longer, so many of the scenes have room to breathe, and quite a few of the performances are strong. This version of Renfield (Dracula’s mad assistant) is more manic and conflicted. The Van Helsing has gravitas enough to carry a film. Lupita Tovar’s female lead (named Eva in this film) gives the sense of someone transforming. Carlos Villarías’ Dracula is comparatively bland.

Movie #138/ 1930s Movie #13: The Mummy (1932)
Structurally different from what I expected (the mummy pops up in bandages early in the film, but then takes a different form.) The sets are decent in a story about explorers and ancient conflicts, with leads who find themselves out of their element against an unexpected type of enemy.

Movie #139/ New Movie #98/ 1950s Movie #13: Creature from the Black Lagoon
The story’s a bit generic (a lot of King Kong and The Mummy with the kidnapping of the girl, and the theme of modernity vs the unknown) but the setting makes for a decent story of explorers versus a new kind of monster.

Movie #140/ New Movie #99/ 1960s Movie #13: The Revenge of Frankenstein
The second Hammer Frankenstein is an unconventional sequel in that Peter Cushing’s scientist is the villain rather than the monster (who doesn’t even pop up, although there is a new attempt at creating life.) Cushing’s mad scientist is well above-average, and the rest of the cast plays off him well. The sets are fantastic.


Movie #141/ 1930s Movie #14: The Old Dark House
Gloomy atmospheric and fun story of travelers stuck in a very strange old house. The sets are incredible, and the mystery takes some interesting turns. I’ll note I did not see the restored version.

Movie #142/ New Movie #100/ 1930s Movie #15: Secret of the Blue Room
This was one of the more obscure of the early Universal horror films, though it’s more of a locked door mystery. The first half sets up the mystery of a seemingly haunted room, and the disappearance of a schmuck who wants to stay there to prove his courage for the girl he loves. Then the detectives get involved, and the story gets a bit blander, although there is an interesting lack of clarity on what exactly happened twenty years ago.

Movie #143/ New Movie #101/ 1940s Movie #13: The Ghost Train
I admit it’s a stretch to list this as horror. Vaudevillian Arthur Askey’s lead turns this film about passengers stranded in a haunted train station into the comedy genre, although it’s a stretch for the subject matter. The most interesting parts about the film are the matter of fact treatment of life in World War 2 Britain.


Movie #144/ New Movie #102/ 1970s Movie #17/ Criterion Edition #26: Valerie and Her Week of Wonders
This surrealist fable is full of spectacular imagery, and a story that is intentionally vague, mysterious and more than a little perverted, although with tremendous artistic merit in depicting a teenager’s subconscious nightmares.

Movie #145/ 1930s Movie #16: The Invisible Man
I decided to finish with this one because The Old Dark House renewed my appreciation for director James Whale. His take on the Invisible Man is iconic and fun, with Claude Rains giving the unseen character an appropriate level of menace and insanity.

And a ranking.

  • 13. The Ghost Train
  • 12. The Secret of the Blue Room
  • 11. A Bay of Blood
  • 10. The Demons
  • 9. Creature From the Black Lagoon
  • 8. The Mummy
  • 7. The Old Dark House
  • 6. The Revenge of Frankenstein
  • 5. Trick r’ Treat
  • 4. The Invisible Man
  • 3. Dracula (Spanish Edition)
  • 2. Valerie and Her Week of Wonders
  • 1. Nosferatu the Vampyre
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Disagreeing without believing the other person is crazy

2 plus 2 is 5

In political discussions, I’ve sometimes observed a conflation between views someone disagrees with and views they think no reasonable person can hold, when there should be space for views you disagree with but understand can be held by people you believe to be acting in good faith. This gets dangerous when any heresy is seen as proof of bigotry. So a disagreement with someone on an aspect of one issue (IE-race based affirmative action in the college application process, government solutions to gender wage gaps, the age of consent for gender reassignment surgery) first becomes a proxy for the larger issue, and then becomes evidence of bigotry. That can push away people who would otherwise be on your side, get people to avoid solutions to problems that touch controversial topics, or reduce your credibility when pushed into an extreme stance by a refusal to compromise.

There’s an example on the difference between these types of views in a Latino/a Studies professor’s view on the politics of Math. 

There are parts of her position that I disagree with, but I can see where she’s coming from.

Gutierrez also worries that algebra and geometry perpetuate privilege, fretting that “curricula emphasizing terms like Pythagorean theorem and pi perpetuate a perception that mathematics was largely developed by Greeks and other Europeans.”

From a policy standpoint, I don’t think it’s worthwhile to change the names that have been used for centuries for Math terms, but I can understand the argument that something objective shouldn’t have a Eurocentric name.

But I think her other arguments are rather dopey.

Math also helps actively perpetuate white privilege too, since the way our economy places a premium on math skills gives math a form of “unearned privilege” for math professors, who are disproportionately white.

“Are we really that smart just because we do mathematics?” she asks, further wondering why math professors get more research grants than “social studies or English” professors.

She seems to ignore the economic good that results from an understanding of Math, and that might not result from an understanding of social studies or English.

And then there’s this gem.

Gutierrez stresses that all knowledge is “relational,” asserting that “Things cannot be known objectively; they must be known subjectively.”
The entire point of Math is that a lot of information is objective. 2 + 2 will never equal 5. The circumference of a circle will always be the diameter times π, and the area of a circle will always be found by multiplying the radius squared by π. In any right triangle, the square of the side opposite the right angle will be equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides. This will be true regardless of what you call pi or the pythagorean theorem


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Movies Watched in 2017 Part 6


I finished my personal goal of seeing ten movies each from ten decades. but I’m still keeping track of the films I watch. “New movie” just refers to something I hadn’t seen yet, so it could have come out in the 1920s and it’ll still be new to me. Like…

Movie #107/ New Movie #79/ Silent Movie Era #11: The Crowd
I sought out this film because it’s on a Top 100, and I’m really unfamiliar with the work of King Vidor. The visuals are striking, looking at the monotony and scale of life in the 1920s, and it’s also a story that is entertaining and about something simultaneously specific to the lead (his challenges in becoming a self-sufficient man), and universal.

Movie #108/ New Movie #80/ 1940s Movie #11: All the King’s Men
Well-acted political noir that might have been breathtakingly cynical when it came out. This is a pattern with political films I’ve watched.

Movie #109/ New Movie #81/ 2010s Movie #14: T2- Trainspotting 2
I really enjoyed Trainspotting, so I was curious about the sequel. It managed to bring together the old gang with some new adventures (robbing a social club fixated on Catholics and protestants) with characters who were nostalgic for their drug-addled youth.

Movie #110/ 1950s Movie #12/ Musical #6: Singing in the Rain
It’s easily the best and most satisfying musical ever made, with a witty script and some exceptional numbers, with a funny take on the transition of the film industry from silents to talkies (and musicals.)

Movie #111/ 1990s Movie #11/ Animated Film #7/ Musical #7: Beauty and the Beast (Disney)
It’s easy to forget how many classic songs popped up in this animated musical. Beyond that, it has an excellent ensemble and a witty script.

Movie #112/ New Movie #82/ 1980s Movie #11: Stand By Me
This movie has an excellent and specific take on kids just becoming adolescents, and learning about life in the world around them, while on a somewhat naive trip to go see a kid’s body.


Movie #113/ New Movie #83/ 1990s Movie #12: Devil in a Blue Dress
This was a pretty solid neo-noir that was able to address racial questions the films of the era couldn’t, and also had standout performances by Denzel Washington in the origin story of a noir detective, and Don Cheadle as the ultimate loose cannon.

Movie #114/ New Movie #84/ 2010s Movie #15: Miss Sloane
This is a fascinating mess, a film that’s preaching to the converted on gun reform while also telling a story about a self-destructive lead played by Jessica Chastain (who is quite good in it.) It probably failed at the box office because it was meant for the beltway, and unfortunately not as good as Spotlight, or the Aaron Sorkin films it imitates.

Movie #115/ New Movie #85/ 2010s Movie #16: Get Out
Entertaining film that functions as paranoid thriller, horror and commentary on racial issues.

Movie #116/ 2000s Movie #11/ Superhero Film #10: The Dark Knight
It’s easily the best superhero film ever made, although one thing that surprises me still is just how well it holds up. The danger of one guy willing to break all the rules, and disrupt things for the hell of it remains relevant in the Trump/ antifa era.

Movie #117/ New Movie #86/ 2010s Movie #17: Beauty and the Beast (Disney)
It’s a well-made live action version of a great animated film, although largely unnecessary.


Movie #118/ New Movie #87/ 1970s Movie #11: The Black Windmill
A Dull British thriller. Ebert’s review is largely on point.

Movie #119/ 1930s Movie #11/ French Movie #6: The Grand Illusion
Weirdly available on streaming only through a Tribeca shortlist add-on for Amazon. This was an excellent prison escape film that’s a bit more episodic than I remember, but excellent at highlighting the problems of war in a changing era, as well as the struggles of the main characters.

Movie #120/ New Movie #88/ 1990s Movie #12: The Hurricane
Slow start, but it gets interesting later. As much of a focus on how to survive in prison as it is a sports film and a legal drama.

Movie #121/ New Movie #89/ 1960s Movie #11: Topkapi
Fun caper, with an excellent cast, and a standout Oscar winning performance by Peter Usinov as a schmo who is hired by thieves, and later recruited by authorities to spy on them under the assumption that they’re terrorists.

Movie #122/ 2000s Movie #12: 300
Decently cast mythic drama. Often over the top, but appropriately so.


Movie #123/ 1960s Movie #12/ Criterion Edition #24/ French Film #7: 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her
It’s a video essay that’s tough to grade as a film. As something so one of a kind that addresses interesting topics in addition to form, it’s worth seeing more than a typical 7/10 grade film. But you might enjoy it less.

Movie #124/ New Movie #90/ 1990s Movie #13: The Piano
Well-acted drama about the love affair between Holly Hunter’s mute woman who doesn’t care for her era, and Harey Keitel’s illiterate sailor with an appreciation for some of the fine things in life. I’m very curious about the inevitable essays on how it’s problematic.

Movie #125/ 2000s Movie #13/ Science Fiction Film #11: Star Trek
An excellent relaunch/ sequel that introduces a new cast on par with anything we’ve seen before in the series, and has some truly impressive action set pieces. It’s also a lot of fun.

Movie #126/ 1970s Movie #12/ Science Fiction Film #12: Close Encounters of the Third Kind
One thing the film has to have credit for is how unlike anything else it is. It’s a sci-fi story in which a guy tries to sneak past government checkpoints, but it’s also a family drama and it’s about inspiration.

Movie #127/ New Movie #91/ 1980s Movie #12: Moonstruck
Witty romantic drama about members of an oddball family (well- two I suppose given Danny Aiello and Nicholas Cage’s brothers) on the verge of making major romantic choices.


Movie #128/ New Movie #92/ 1940s Movie #12/ Criterion Edition #25: The Red Shoes
Visually, it’s a stunning film, especially in the restoration, but it’s a fascinating conflict as the lead tries to choose between greatness and a good life.

Movie #129/ New Movie #93/ 1970s Movie #13/ Musical #8/ Norman Jewison Movie #3: Jesus Christ Superstar
It’s a solid hippie musical about the betrayal of Christ.

Movie #130/ 2000s Movie #14: The Manchurian Candidate
Well-directed relatively modern paranoid thriller. It has an excellent cast, and there are some smart decisions in the changes, as Denzel Washington’s lead becomes more dangerous than we’d expect.

Movie #131/ New Movie #94/ 1990s Movie #13: Absolute Power
At the time, it was seen as outrageous and unrealistic. Now this political thriller might be seen as sober and restrained. Lesser Eastwood, but decent.

Movie #132/ New Movie #95/ 2010s Movie #18/ Science Fiction Film #13: Blade Runner 2049
The cinematography by Roger Deakins is stunning, and the score is exceptional. There’s a bit of a trend towards generation-later sequels (Creed, Force Awakens) and Blade Runner 2049 may be the best, building on the mythos and the key characters, keeping old mysteries while giving us new questions to debate about, especially when it comes to Ryan Gosling’s lead and the hologram he loves.


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Political Beliefs

I wrote this elsewhere, but I’m rather proud of it. I suppose it’s a companion to the one on religion.

The following are some of my political beliefs.

On fiscal issues, I think the government should spend money efficiently, in contrast to libertarians who think there should be no role for government, as well as the big government types and redistributionists (the latter category includes many social conservatives who want government subsidies in order to maintain an inefficent rural way of life).

Socially, I do believe that certain things that are currently illegal should be allowed to consenting adults. I am pro-life, although I think certain steps should be taken to significantly reduce the numbers of unwanted pregnancies before outlawing abortion becomes a workable policy, if ever.

I think gay marriage should be legal, but individuals who do not support it should not face fines/ jail time/ civil lawsuits if they don’t want to participate.

I think immigration reform is necessary. I don’t believe people who have come to this country illegally should be deported, but they’re not entitled to full citizenship. I’d prefer some middle ground where they don’t get voting rights or various entitlements. Legal immigration should be determined by the country’s need, although I think the numbers of people we accept should be higher.

I’m cautious about raising or lowering the minimum wage. I’d favor Earned Income Tax Credits as a way to provide more money to people with greater need/ dependents.

I am concerned about public sector unions, as the government does not have sufficient incentives to control costs.

I think linking health insurance to jobs has been a disaster since it makes it harder for people to move/ change employers. The ACA, or whatever replaces it, should offer more bare minimum plans as a way to lower costs, and should raise costs for older Americans, who have more need for medical procedures.

I think tort reform is necessary. A system where the loser of a civil suit pays the expenses of the winner will avoid frivolous lawsuits.

I support the death penalty, although I don’t care that much about various aspects that make it more palatable to the average American (IE- lethal injection VS firing squad.)

I have a low tolerance for bullshit, hence my concerns about political correctness. I prefer to have discussions about the least popular aspects of someone’s political beliefs. Social conservatives should explain why they want policies that make premarital sex riskier. Supporters of affirmative action should explain why they want less Asian Americans in selective schools.

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When People Should Be Kicked Out of the Academy

Premiere Vicky Cristina Barcelona LA, Los Angeles, USA

Harvey Weinstein has been kicked out of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which is probably the right move. Now, there are calls to kick out some others, with references to Academy members Bill Cosby, Roman Polanski, Woody Allen and Mel Gibson.

A particular problem with Weinstein was that he abused his power as a major player in Hollywood in order to harass and assault women. There isn’t as much a concern that anyone’s on a slippery slope in kicking him out, since his crimes were horrendous and related to his status in Hollywood. He should be removed from the organization, as should be anyone caught doing anything similar.

That seems to have been their standard in the past. The only other person expelled from the Academy is an elderly Godfather bit player who shared screeners. A producer of The Hurt Locker was disinvited from the Oscars because of violating campaigning norms. Offenses as a member of the group result in expulsion, rather than crimes and general misbehavior.

Cosby’s days as a member are probably numbered, given the extent of the allegations against him, and the way he used his celebrity to protect himself. I could see Polanski getting expelled, because there have been new allegations (even if the crimes occurred a long time ago.) He has also been convicted.

Gibson seems relatively safe, since he has avoided trouble, and his offenses weren’t related to his status in the industry. There would also be a slippery slope with him, as well as an invitation for more angry calls to kick out people for saying something stupid (IE- the next time a conservative celebrity says something inarticulate on race, or a liberal celebrity says something that could be construed as calling for violence.) The allegations against Woody Allen are horrifying, but fewer in number, and there isn’t sufficient evidence.

There has also been some chatter about revoking Weinstein’s previous awards, and maybe doing the same for others who have been accused of abuse in the past. Rose McGowan referred to Casey Affleck’s best actor Oscar as “a dirty Oscar.” This is a different area, as the only thing that should matter is the quality of the individual work. Whether Casey Affleck is scum should have no bearing on his performance (unless he got credit for playing a scumbag). If the Academy felt Shakespeare in Love was a better movie than Saving Private Ryan, that shouldn’t be changed by Weinstein’s crimes. It may give an incentive not to reward lesser work, so that if there’s ever a need to justify it, they could talk about the artistic merit rather than anything else.

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A Weird hashtag

There’s some concern online about a really dumb hashtag (#gasthesynagogue), a nasty response to a situation in St Louis in which protesters fled the police and were often protection in a synagogue. Haaretz has a piece on this.

Looking at the hashtag, the overwhelming majority of the posts seem to be people outraged that anyone could say something so reprehensible. As a result, it seems misleading to imply that the popularity of the hashtag indicates massive antisemitism.

As a weird thing, one of the people who seemed to use it unironically seemed to be one of the people complaining about it. His comments about how nasty it is were covered in a Medium article.

troll a

Except another comment of his wasn’t so sympathetic.

troll b

The first comment on this came from a guy with 120 followers on twitter. The next came from someone with 633 followers. The next social influencer had 723 followers. And then you had the response.

It seems that trolls are having gun, and some are panicking at the implications of a handful of people being dumb on twitter. I’d have assumed it was well known that there are some idiots on the internet, but clearly there’s a need for further education on that.

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