Disposable America

This article by Alexis Madrigal is an intriguing look at how the disposable straw explains modern capitalism, from its modern conception in the mid-1850s as a hygienic savior to its role in today’s culture wars as an ecological disaster.

“…the straw has always been dragged along by the currents of history, soaking up the era, shaping not its direction, but its texture.”

The straw is in the middle of it all: urbanism, McDonald’s, the Koch Brothers, corporatization, leverage buyouts, environmentalism.

Henry II & the meddlesome priest

During his testimony in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee Thursday morning, James Comey said that President Trump told him that he’d hope Comey would drop the Michael Flynn investigation. Senator Angus King of Maine asked if Comey interpreted the President’s use of “hope” as an order, Comey replied, “It rings in my ear as kind of, ‘will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?'”

It’s an allusion to Henry II’s infamous outburst, “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?” The priest was Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket, whom the king was frustrated with due to the priest’s refusal to give additional powers to the king. Henry’s knights took that statement to mean the king wanted Becket dead. So they murdered him near the altar of Canterbury Cathedral on December 29, 1170.

Trump’s utterance isn’t as nefarious, but Comey’s reference was clear in what he thought Trump wanted. After all, Trump had demanded loyalty.

America’s Forgotten History of Illegal Deportations

From The Atlantic:

“It was a time of economic struggle, racial resentment and increasing xenophobia. Installed in the White House was a president who had never before held elected office. A moderately successful businessman, he promised American jobs for Americans—and made good on that promise by slashing immigration by nearly 90 percent.

“He wore his hair parted down the middle, rather than elaborately piled on top, and his name was Herbert Hoover, not Donald Trump. But in the late 1920s and early 1930s, under the president’s watch, a wave of illegal and unconstitutional raids and deportations would alter the lives of as many as 1.8 million men, women and children—a threat that would seem to loom just as large in 2017 as it did back in 1929.

What became colloquially known as the ‘Mexican repatriation’ efforts of 1929 to 1936 are a shameful and profoundly illustrative chapter in American history, yet they remain largely unknown—despite their broad and devastating impact. So much so that today, a different president is edging towards similar solutions, with none of the hesitation or concern that basic consciousness would seem to require.”

Sometimes you would think that we have progressed, advanced and learned from our history. Sometimes you’d be wrong.

R.I.P. Bill Paxton

A very prolific actor, Bill Paxton, known for roles in Aliens, Terminator, Titanic, Tombstone, and over 90 acting credits, has died from complications after heart surgery. He was a young 61 years old.

Aside from his Hollywood career, Paxton has a place in one of history’s most stunning events. At the age of eight, he went to see President John F. Kennedy visit Dallas on November 22, 1963. One of the most famous photo from that day shows Paxton being hoisted above the crowd.

Margin of Error

The post-election autopsy is well underway. The obvious question, of course, is why was everyone so wrong about the eventual outcome? (Even some Trump advisors were skeptical he would win. So…) Specifically, why were the polls so wrong when almost every single poll had Hillary Clinton ahead 3-4 percentage points.

Consider that most polls have a margin of error of 2-3 percentage points. Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com contemplates a scenario where 2 percentage points shifts to Clinton’s favor. This would be the equivalent of 1 in 100 voter changing from Trump to Clinton. The result:

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It’s a very different electoral map.

When you consider that Hillary is winning the popular vote and, if current trends hold, should eventually end up winning 1 to 2 points, were the polls really that far off? Were they within the margin of error? Maybe. That margin of error, however, translates to a drastically different electoral landscape. History, thus, is created in the margins.

Everyone was wrong except for those who weren’t

How did everyone get it so wrong? All the polls, experts, newspapers, insiders and academics thought Hillary Clinton was going to win comfortably. The unthinkable happened instead. Donald J. Trump will be the 45th President of the United States of America.

What went wrong? Were there really “shy” Trump voters? All the predictions based on demographics were badly judged. Clinton underperformed on all the main markers that were supposed to hand her victory, Latino voters and women, in particular.

Much will be debated, discussed, dissected and analyzed in the coming days and weeks about how this stunning outcome took place. A lot of soul searching for the Democrats certainly as the Republicans swept both the Senate and House. Questions will need to be addressed. Did the Liberal Left ignored working class white Americans? Do intellectual traditional media matter? Is Trump’s victory a referendum on the professional political class? Where does America go from here?

Some answers will unfold in the coming Trump term. New realities will form in the duration. A new outlook on the future needs to develop. How things turn out is anyone’s guess. What’s for certain is all this will be unchartered territory.

It’s late now and things will set in more fully in the morning. So lots more will be written soon.

Lady Gaga schools people about pop culture & history

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At Hillary Clinton’s final campaign rally in North Carolina, Lady Gaga made an appearance in a striking costume that quickly became controversial as some people were (erroneously) calling it a Nazi uniform.

Quick to vilify, these people apparently didn’t know the true history of what she was wearing. So to educated them, Lady Gaga tweeted this:

 

Black History is American History

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(Pablo Martinez, The Associated Press)

On September 24, 2016, President Barack Obama–the first black president–formally opened the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture alongside former President George W. Bush, who in 2003 signed legislation establishing the museum.

On a side note, there are five living presidents, none of whom supports Donald Trump.