It Was Always a Marriage of Convenience—and an Odd One, at That

In my last post I quoted from an article on how the boys and girls over at the American Bankers Association and the United States Chamber of Commerce are beginning to see the wisdom of finding some D politicians to support. In this post, I add some further observations. And, by the way, this morning President Snowflake is twittering all over himself about the trend. Tweet away, asswipe.

dumpster tweets

Enumerating Embryonic Poultry

My name is not Nostradamus, nor am I normally in the business of counting unhatched chickens. But I can reason, and I can see the straws in the wind.

How Big Business Thinks

Big Business does not cotton to divisiveness among its customer base. Nor does Big Business thrive on cultural nostalgia and fear the future. You can still buy vinyl records or rotary phones. Should you require a buggy whip, Amazon will sell it to you. But Big Business does not make its profits supplying the goods and services of the past.

On the contrary, successful businesses are always thinking hard about how to capitalize on the next big trend. Specifically, about how to capitalize on the next big trend before the folks in the next office building figure it out. So that they can gain what the microeconomists call “first mover advantage.” So that they can earn monopoly profits.

It’s the future where the money is made. Nostalgia is for suckers.

What Does Big Business Need Right Now? Immediately. If not Sooner.

What Big Business needs right now is a check on Donald J. Trump. Specifically, they are in urgent need of politicians to check

  • Trump’s attempt to destroy the international trading system
  • Trump’s attempt to destroy the international security system, and
  • Trump’s attempt to disrupt immigration into the United States.

Will Republican Empty Suits Provide the Check that Big Business Needs on Trump?

For years Big Business has been propping up Senator Cornpone, Senator Cornpone has been conning the rubes, and Senator Cornpone has been voting the straight American Bankers Association/U.S. Chamber of Commerce policy agenda. For years, the bogus appeal to nostalgia, radial animus, and general backwardness did not get in the way of the Big Business con. It was a terrific Faustian Bargain while it lasted.

No longer. In his heart, Senator Cornpone may be entirely willing to protect the international trading system, the international security system, and immigration, in exchange for the flow of money from Big Business. But in the present circumstances, Senator Cornpone can no longer do that.

Senator Cornpone is as useless to Big Business as a VHS player or a stack of vinyl records.

And, I am pretty sure, the very Republican brand is quickly becoming a liability to the Big Business.

Making Beautiful Music Together

In the medium or long term, they will probably try founding a “new” political party. Certainly, they will think long and hard about doing so.

In the short run, they need them some Democrats.

So they can make beautiful music together.

Isn’t Fresh Thinking Wonderful?

‘It’s a significant shift in our thinking’: Business takes fresh look at Democrats:

Business groups, at war with President Donald Trump over trade and immigration, say they’re taking steps to rebuild the political center — including taking fresh looks at moderate Democrats.

The American Bankers Association this month began airing ads in support of candidates for the first time, including Democrats Sen. Jon Tester of Montana and Rep. Lou Correa of California. The International Franchise Association has more than doubled its support to Democrats this cycle, with 27 percent of its donations going to centrists in the party. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which leans heavily Republican, endorsed Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey over Republican John McCann, who has the support of former Trump aide Sebastian Gorka. …

“Republicans aren’t the only people who have great ideas for business,” International Franchise Association President Robert Cresanti said. “We really need more members of Congress that are in the middle and are willing to listen to both sides.”

“It’s a significant shift in our thinking,” Cresanti said. “Before, it was you’re either with us 100 percent of the time or you’re against us.”

Shared Values

Right on Schedule, Just Like Aardvark Predicted

Charles Koch says he’d work with Democrats who share his values

And what, pray tell, my dear Mr. Koch, would the values that you share with the Democratic politicians whom you can buy?

Meanwhile, Aardvark Gains a New Appreciation of Corporate Free Speech

A network of secret-money nonprofit groups has spent millions of dollars attacking swing-seat House Republicans on health care and taxes, quietly becoming one of the biggest players in the 2018 political landscape.

The groups have local members and names like Floridians for a Fair Shake, Michigan Families for Economic Prosperity and North Carolinians for a Fair Economy. But they are all linked to one obscure nonprofit in downtown Washington, D.C.: the Sixteen Thirty Fund, which has funneled millions of dollars to progressive causes in recent years and set up each of the new groups, according to D.C. corporation records.

Added together, the Sixteen Thirty Fund groups have been among the most prolific political advertisers of 2018. They have aired 6,885 broadcast TV ads since Jan. 1, according to Advertising Analytics, a TV tracking firm — more than the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and almost as many as Americans for Prosperity, two of the five biggest nonprofit political advertisers focused on the House and Senate in the first half of this year.

The network, which has spent over $4.6 million on TV alone, has also been one of the top political advertisers in the country on Facebook, according to a POLITICO analysis of data from the social media company’s new political ad archive.

The ads don’t expressly advocate voting against House Republicans, but they do blast incumbents for their votes on Obamacare repeal and the new tax law in more than a dozen congressional districts. The two issues are ones that Democrats want at the forefront of their campaign to take back the House, though keeping the focus on those issues has been difficult amid a maelstrom of other stories involving President Donald Trump, including the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Scott Bland, Liberal secret-money network hammers House GOP

About to Cash that Check

check

At least when Nixon went to China he didn’t tell the world that all our differences were due to stupid Americans and that Mao Zedong was far more credible than CIA director Richard Helms and the rest of the Deep State goons working in our intelligence and law enforcement agencies. Tricky Dick was a paranoid thug but half the country wasn’t convinced with good reason that he was a helpless agent of a foreign power.

Martin Longman, Donald Trump Has Almost Cashed His Check

Confusion Worse Compounded: Trump’s Wedge Politics

wedge

Trump tariffs tear Republicans apart: Senate Republicans want to rein him in, but the House GOP isn’t going there.

Farm groups go on anti-tariff blitz after Trump offers trade aid

Meanwhile,

Americans don’t think President Trump has been tough enough on Russia, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll conducted after Trump’s summit in Helsinki last week with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Nearly two-thirds said so, and it wasn’t just Democrats. Almost half of Republicans surveyed (47 percent) also said Trump hasn’t been tough enough on Russia, with just 20 percent saying he has taken about the right approach.

As to whether Trump should view Putin as a friend or foe, Americans are nearly evenly split, with 45 percent saying he should be seen as an enemy and 44 percent saying he is an ally. That might be a surprise to those who grew up in the Cold War era, but partisanship might have something to do with it. Among GOP voters, 58 percent view the Russian leader as an ally. …

But a whopping 72 percent of Americans said they have faith in the CIA’s and FBI’s conclusions about the assessment of the Russian election interference, compared with just 15 percent who believe Putin’s denials. Trump has said Putin strongly denies any involvement. Eighty-six percent of Democrats say they believe the intelligence community over Putin, and 63 percent of GOP voters say the same thing. However, 21 percent of Republicans do say they believe Putin’s dismissals. …

Female voters say they prefer Democrats this fall by a 21-point margin, 54 percent to 33 percent. Republicans win men by 9 points, 48 percent to 39 percent.

Negative opinions of Trump are pronounced among women. Trump’s job approval has remained relatively static — still underwater at 39 percent approval to 51 percent disapproval among all Americans. But there is a staggering 43-point gender gap with 62 percent of women disapproving of Trump’s job and half of men approving of his performance.

flatulence

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Aardvark welcomes recent readers from Martinique and from French Guiana. The Aardvarks hope to visit you soon on Martinique. Don’t know when we’ll make it Guiana.

Luverne, Alabama

Lots of buzz this week about the Washington Post’s tragicomic report from Luverne, Alabama.

As the Post reports, the folks in Luverne live in a “binary world”: you’re either with them or against them. And Trump has been sent by God to smite those who are against them.

A talking head remarked that, for many, tribalism has triumphed over national interest. In Luverne, tribalism has also triumphed over the Christian religion, which has become a rancid parody of itself.

Yes, Aardvark was Once a Sunbeam

When I was a wee lad, my parents worshiped at the First Baptist Church. At the age of four, I became a Sunbeam.

And here was the first song they taught me when I was a little Sunbeam:

Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world.
Red and yellow, black and white,
They are precious in his sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world.

I would be willing to bet that there are still little Sunbeams in the First Baptist Church of Luverne. And that they are still learning how Jesus loves all the children of the world.

But tell me, mommy, would that also include the little children being snatched away from their mothers at the border?

The Good Samaritan—Is that Like Some White Person in the Next County?

Jesus taught in parables, and the most famous parables, the one everyone knows, is the parable of the Good Samaritan. And as little Aardvark learned in the First Baptist Church so many years ago, the whole bloody point of the story was that A SAMARITAN WAS SOMEONE FROM A DESPISED RELIGIOUS/ETHNIC GROUP.

And the Sermon on the Mount Only Applies to Americans?

Give me a break.

face palm

Cognitive Dissonance of Epic Proportions

These folks have turned their religion upside down. As another commentator has pointed out, the cognitive dissonance must be mind-boggling.

Insularity

What’s the explanation for the craziness down in Luverne? A piece of it is captured by the observation that we are sorting ourselves into two groups: those who have the gumption to leave places like Luverne, and those who don’t.

Low Boil Rage and Authoritarian Personalities

A friend cites Richard Cohen: “My guess is that it’s a low-boil rage against a vague and threatening liberalism — urbane, educated, affluent, secular, diverse and sexually tolerant. It is, in other words, some of the same sentiment that once fueled European fascism.” The same friend also draws our attention to “the defining characteristics of the Authoritarian Personality sensu Adorno et al.”

Where the Answer Will Come From

Like the man who greeted Justice Frankfurter with great relish, I look to the Modeling Religion Project of the Center for Mind and Culture to explain how little Sunbeams turned into the folks filling the pews in Luverne:

For centuries, scholars and scientists have posed the question: what are the most compelling features of religion? Is it complex theological systems? Rituals that increase social solidarity? Fear of the afterlife or the unknown? In response to these questions academics from philosophers to evolutionary biologists who study religion have developed numerous theories to help explain religious beliefs and behaviors. But how do these approaches relate to one another? How could their relative merits and flaws be tested systematically?

At CMAC, we tackle these questions by turning to an unconventional source: computer modeling and simulation. By building agent-based and system-dynamics models of psychological and social processes, we are creating comparable versions of theories that can be rigorously tested against real-world data and the historical record.

This undertaking requires a wide variety of experts, including scholars of religion from the humanities, cognitive psychologists, and complex system specialists, as well as modelers and programmers.  It has unfolded across three organizations (CMAC, the Virginia Modeling and Simulation Center, and the Center for Modeling Social Systems at the University of Agder in Norway), and brought together a large international and interdisciplinary team. Our work modeling religion has enabled our team to clarify and operationalize theories of religion, build realistic and complex AI systems and introduce the power and potential of simulation in the social sciences.

Yes, farther along, through system-dynamics models of psychological and social processes, we’ll understand it, all by and by.