White People

White Supremacy

Two articles with contrasting viewpoints bear reading:

Joshua Alvarez, How Trump Adopted Nixon’s Southern Strategy

Joan Williams, The Democrats’ White-People Problem

The thrust of the former article is simple: Trump, like Nixon before him, just grasped that there is a great treasure trove of votes to be had from the racists among us. Alvarez writes,

Nixon recognized that a huge chunk of Americans was incurably infected with racism. They were overflowing with gnawing resentment toward the coalition of college students, urban liberals, intellectuals, and black activists who dared to fight white supremacy. Understanding this reality, Nixon saw a clear path to the White House. He coined slogans that the Republican Party has routinely used since: law and order; the silent majority; states’ rights.

Here’s the uncomfortable truth: Nixon was absolutely right. His two successful elections are evidence of that. Appealing to the prejudices and resentments of the Confederacy’s grandchildren works as an electoral strategy. And no Republican presidential candidate has ever forgotten that.

Professor Williams’ essay is more complex and nuanced, and makes some good points. I highly recommend that you read it for yourself.

Professor William argues, among other things, that the Trump base may be divided into distinct categories, that some are much more racist than others, that class inequality and geographic inequality are a big part of the problem, that white racism is a white people’s problem, not a white working class problem, that there is a big potential market for actual populist programs, and that progressives are unlikely to prevail when they exhibit “smug condescension” toward the Trump base.

I believe that each and every one of these points is accurate. We have already moved the country 5.6 percent of where we were in 2016. I believe we can and will do somewhat better than that next time.

As for the smug condescension point, I, personally, plead not guilty. When I consider that, after everything that has happened, 45.3 percent of the voters supported the Party of Trump, I am not smug and I am not condescending. I am horrified.

Like the day when I was a little boy and the termites swarmed out of the little house in which my family lived.

Trump Versus CNN: Just a Flesh Wound, So We’ll Call it a Draw

CNN, White House backs down from legal fight, restores Jim Acosta’s press pass:

The White House on Monday said that CNN correspondent Jim Acosta’s press pass has been “restored,” bowing to days of pressure and a federal lawsuit against the administration.

In response, CNN said in a court filing that it has dropped the ongoing litigation over Acosta’s access to the White House.

“Today the White House fully restored Jim Acosta’s press pass. As a result, our lawsuit is no longer necessary,” the network said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing to cover the White House.”

Monday afternoon’s announcement, what the White House called a “final determination,” was an abrupt shift from the administration’s earlier positions.


A Finnish biologist explains it all:

Thanks for covering the case of Mr. Trump’s statement of Finland and “raking”. President Niinistö’s “not remembering” seems to be just a diplomatic way to say “did not say that”!

For what it’s worth, in case this would be useful as a technical background for your work, I am as sending you some biological views to show the falsity of Mr. Trump’s statement. I am not searching number data now, just general views.

– In general, this seems just to be one of Trump’s routine/compulsory smoke bombs, lies and distractions.

– Forest fires in Finland are much limited by the snowy winter (length varies acc. to year and region, but traditionally around 3 months, is shortening due to climate change). Snow and ice are solid water, forests cannot burn in wintertime.

– Even after the visible snow melts, the soil remains frozen for a couple of weeks more, postponing the soil/humus fire a bit more.

– When all the snow and frost have melted, the melting water is still absorbed by the soil/humus for various amount of weeks, giving an important boost for spring vegetation and hampering soil burns.

– Some spring weeks after melting, if dry winds prevail, are vulnerable for grass etc. burns, due to the withered grass, but these seldom develop into economically important. E.g. March-April. After this period, the green leaves make burning more difficult.

(- In whole Finland, making an open fire prohibited in given areas of drought.)

– The most vulnerable period for forest fires is late summer (e.g. July-August), in summers of long-term droughts and winds. Towards September, the rainy fall season usually makes it more unlikely.

– In Finland, the annual rainfall is relatively high (moist winds from southwest prevail), and, very importantly, the Nordic cool temperatures leads to less evaporation, so the soils keep the moisture longer, and also the relative humidity is physically higher in cool temperature. So, our air is often relatively moist (not as moist as in the Atlantic coasts of Norway, however). This seen e.g. in the nearly ubiquitous moss
cover of our forests.

– The soil and vegetation type of Finland, typical for the Boreal vegetation zone, is different than that in Temperate regions. The soil and vegetation would make any extensive raking HIGHLY unpractical and useless, up to directly damaging, in our large forests.

– Due to the climatic conditions, in most forests there is NOT just a mineral soil or a mull where the plants grow. This would be a very mechanistic view. Instead, on the (often “podzole”-type of) mineral soil here, there is typically a felt-like layer of old, brown, still partly un-decayed, fibrous humus layer, consisting e.g. of lignin of tree remains, mixed with living and dead plant roots, fungal hyphae and so on. This layer is rather acidic and can be e.g. from 5 to 15 cm thick and is very important for the forest. If it gets deeply dry in dry summers, it will easily burn, but IT CANNOT BE REMOVED BY RAKING, without damaging the forest’s root and mycorrhizal network. The forest trees absorb their water and nutrients largely in this layer, with the help of the symbiotic fungi, and the mentioned humus layer acts as a moisture buffer for the trees.

– In our many water-logged areas this poorly decayed humus layer extends up to ten meters down, as the turf of bogs, also acting as an important reservoir of greenhouse gases. Difficult to rake so deep….

And bog fires are notoriously difficult to extinguish in long dry periods. – Our forest vegetation under trees consists commonly of berry-bearing and other boreal shrublets such as the blueberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) and lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea), and under them the acidic humus layer is typically covered by mosses such as Hylocomium splendens, Pleurozium schreberi and several Dicranum species. The bushlets (with their rhizomes in the humus layer) would make any extensive humus-removing raking very INEFFECTIFE, and the gentle mosses would be largely detached from the humus, as would many bush-like lichens on rocky sites such as Cladonia stellaris.

– The continuously falling needles and twigs, when they decay, return important nutrients back to the forest trees. Removing them regularly would deprive the trees and other plants from the bulk of long-term nutrients, not to speak of the extremely complex mesh of nutrient chains of thousands of other forest organisms, from fungi and insects to birds and mammals.

– Any small site CAN of course be raked and many people in rural houses or summer cottages DO rake their lawns and sometimes adjacent forest edges in, say, around 5 to maximally about 20 m radius from the house. The basic purpose of this is NOT fire prevention or forest management, but to keep the yard tidy, to keep the lawn mowable, to accumulate some litter to the garden, just out of custom and so on. This is not forest management, this is cleaning a yard. Such places would develop into grassy sites under the trees, not typical forest.

– If some site would be raked, why would that be done? What would be the effect for the large cost? Sometimes in history, e.g. on some nutrient-poor islands, litter may have been raked in small scale locally and brought e.g. to barns under the animals or in the gardens, not in any significant amount any more.

– The economic semi-natural forests are typically managed by thinning (gleansing) some times during the about 80 years’ logging cycle, but this is done by large forestry machines or farmer’s tractors and by machine saws. The time spent by humans in the forest in each step is tried to be minimized even then. NO PART of the routine management cycle includes raking!

– You are not allowed to rake in other people’s forests, even if you for some reason would like it. Typically, a forest owner is a farmer who owns, say, 20 to 100 hectares of forest in addition to fields and often also goes to additional paid work somewhere else. He or his family would have not time to do it. Who would rake the vast forests?

– In Sweden, our neighboring country with largely similar forests, there were this summer 2018 very difficult and long forest fires, simply due to the exceptionally dry summer (added with random sparks or other fire sources). This is equally possible in Finland, as well. And the climate change is making such summers more and more common, even here in the moister north! So, regarding your arid southern areas, my personal view is that you (and globally we all) are simply gradually loosing large, previously viable land areas, largely due to the serious climate change.

Josh, sorry this lengthy letter, hoping that somebody finds something useful detail in it.

The Big Picture

You will find the 2018 House Popular Vote Tracker here. It will repay scrutiny, but here is the big picture.

The total size of the 2018 electorate was 81.3 percent of the 2016 electorate. 58, 630,154 of 2018 House voters chose the Democratic candidate in their district; 50,116,124 voted for the Republican candidate; and 1,911.608 voted for an independent or a candidate of another party.

Expressed in percentage terms, Republican voters were 45.3 percent of all 2018 House voters, while Democrats were 53.0 percent of the electorate.

That works out to a 7.7 percent Democratic advantage. By contrast, Hillary Clinton won the 2016 popular vote in 2016 by 2.1 percent.

Subtracting 2.1 from 7.7, we see that Trump’s repellant idiocy has motivated 5.6 percent of the electorate to get off the clown car.

And since fewer than half of us are Republicans, a loss of 5.6 percent of the total means that some 10 or 11 percent of erstwhile Republicans have had as much fun as they can stand.

There is a metaphysical possibility that Trump might change his tune, and some of his peeps might come back. If you are a Republican who thinks that is going to happen, you can have some optimism about the future of your party.

While you are waiting for events to unfold, here is some suggested reading:

House of Trump

For Those Who Do Their Planning with a Straight Edge Ruler …


‘Takes all of the oxygen out’: Trump further divides political map for 2020:

The Trump effect now sets the stage for an intensely tribal 2020 showdown over his reelection, with a smaller and heavily rural Republican Party facing off against a growing Democratic coalition of suburban and urban residents in higher-income states. …

Trump emerged in firm control of a Republican Party with an expanded majority in the U.S. Senate and a viable path to reelection, if he can hold onto his historic support in Florida and the industrial Midwestern states that nonetheless elected Democrats statewide this year.


When planning, it is unwise to rely on a straight edge ruler as your primary tool for prognostication.