Post-Trump Election Tab Dump: What I’m Reading

  • ‘Deplorables’ Rise Up to Reshape America,” by The WSJ‘s Gerald F. Seib. (yesterday):

    In short, Mr. Trump and his followers have, in one dramatic stroke, transformed the GOP from a traditionally conservative party into an avowedly populist one.

  • The Voters Decide,” by Ben Thompson (March 2016). Politics “is just the latest industry to be transformed by the Internet,” he writes.
  • Democracy’s Destabilizer: TMI,” by Virginia Postrel. (Dec. 2015). References a 2014 book I have just begun reading, “The Revolt of the Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium,” by Martin Gurri. Postrel writes:

    Information used to be scarce. Now it’s overwhelming. In his book “The Revolt of the Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium,” Gurri considers the political implications of this change. He argues that the shift from information scarcity to abundance has destroyed the public’s established trust in institutional authorities, including media, science, religion, and government.

  • Has Election 2016 been a turning point for the influence of the news media?” (yesterday), by Pablo Bocskowski:

    “The stark contrast between editorial dynamics and electoral preferences might lead to two trends directly affecting the news media in the short-term future.”

  • 5 Reasons Why Trump will Win” (July 2015), by Michael Moore.
  • The Cycles of American History“, a 1986 book by Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. on the “recurring struggle between pragmatism and idealism in the American soul.”
  • Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy” (2012), by by Chris Hayes. “A powerful and original argument that traces the roots of our present crisis of authority to an unlikely source: the meritocracy.
  • In This Week’s Newley’s Notes: Apple’s Newest Gadgets; Frontline on the election; Super-Sophisticated Poker Cheating

    Newleys notes

    Edition 71 of my email newsletter went out to subscribers today. It’s pasted in below.

    To get these weekly dispatches delivered to your inbox before I post them here, sign up at this link. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s brief — and few people unsubscribe.


    Hi friends, thanks for reading Newley’s Notes.

    Reader M chastised me a few weeks ago when I said the weather here in Delhi seemed to have turned the corner, with temps starting to dip ever so slightly.

    No, he said, it’s still hot here!

    Well, I can say for sure this time: It really is cooling off! The other night the mercury dropped…wait for it…under 80 degrees Fahrenheit, or to about 26 Celsius. Bring it on! I am so looking forward to a real fall after a decade in steamy lowland Southeast Asia.

    One programming note: Due to travel there will be no NN next week. I’ll rap at you again the week of Nov. 7 (when it will be even cooler!).

    FIVE ITEMS THAT ARE WORTH YOUR TIME THIS WEEK:

    1) Apple announced new laptops and a TV app. The Verge has a good rundown of the newest products. I can’t decide if it’s cool or gimmicky, but the MacBook Pro’s so-called Touch Bar – a touchable strip above the keyboard – is interesting. As for the TV app: It’s too bad, though predictable since Apple wants to sell you its own content, that it lacks Netflix and Amazon Video.

    2) Frontline’s two-hour-long presidential election show is available on YouTube. It’s called “The Choice 2016.” This has been a campaign for the history books; this show looks up to the task of putting things in perspective.

    3) Scientists have identified the ten most relaxing songs ever. Number one, called “Weightless,” was made with input from sound therapists. Here’s more on that one, and the rest of the list.

    4) And in other music news: a Green Day fan got up on stage, grabbed a guitar, and killed it on “When I Come Around.” Apparently the guy was holding a sign at a concert in Chicago that said “I Can Play Every Song on ’Dookie,” a Green Day album. Front man Billie Joe Armstrong pulled him from the crowd, and the rest is history. Check out the video here.

    5) Beware high-end poker cheating devices. Crazy story about a guy who sourced from China a sophisticated, $1,500 device inserted into a smartphone that can be used to read cards surreptitiously.

    Thanks for reading. If you like NN, please forward it to a friend. Any feedback? Hit me up.

    – Newley

    Norm Ornstein Explains the Rise of Donald Trump

    Norm Ornstein, of the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute, explains the rise of Donald Trump:

    When you look at populism over the longer course of both American history and other countries that have suffered economic traumas as a result of financial collapse, you’re gonna get the emergence of some leaders who exploit nativism, protectionism, and isolationism. They’re components — sometimes greater, sometimes lesser — that are baked into the process. So you’ve got a bit of that.

    But if you forced me to pick one factor explaining what’s happened, I would say this is a self-inflicted wound by Republican leaders.

    Over many years, they’ve adopted strategies that have trivialized and delegitimized government. They were willing to play to a nativist element. And they tried to use, instead of stand up to, the apocalyptic visions and extremism of some cable television, talk radio, and other media outlets on the right.

    And add to that, they’ve delegitimized President Obama, but they’ve failed to succeed with any of the promises they’ve made to their rank and file voters, or Tea Party adherents. So when I looked at that, my view was, “what makes you think, after all of these failures, that you’re going to have a group of compliant people who are just going to fall in line behind an establishment figure?”

    Related post from last month: Michael Barone: ‘Trump Can’t Break the Republican Party.’.

    To which Mr. Ornstein might reply: It’s already broken, and that’s why Trump’s the Republican nominee.

    Michael Barone: ‘Trump Can’t Break the Republican Party’

    Michael Barone, in a WSJ op-ed Friday, puts the Trump phenomenon in historical context:

    Even if Donald Trump secures the Republican nomination and somehow overcomes current polls to be elected president, there will be few Trump clones among Republicans in Congress and in state and local office.

    If he is nominated and defeated by a wide margin, he will not leave behind a Trumpist movement with the popular and intellectual depth of the conservative movement following Goldwater’s defeat 52 years ago—his legacy may be little more than an impulse toward opposition to trade agreements and legalization of illegal immigrants. If he is not nominated and tries to run as an independent, he will not have the support of as significant a third-party apparatus as Theodore Roosevelt did 104 years ago.

    As this is written, it seems likely but not certain that Mr. Trump will fall visibly short of the 1,237-delegate majority, and that he will inflict significant damage on the Republican Party by protests or perhaps an independent candidacy. But probably nothing like the serious, though temporary, damage inflicted by that vastly more talented, experienced and intellectually serious disruptive New Yorker, Theodore Roosevelt.

    Around the Web: improving college rankings, Federer’s footwork, inventors killed by their own inventions, and more

    Some links that have caught my eye of late:

    Thitinan on Abhisit, Thaksin, and Bangkok’s airports

    Chulalongkorn University political science professor Thitinan Pongsudhirak has a column in today’s Bangkok Post on the current state of Thai politics: “Censure may serve to strengthen govt

    Some snips:

    After three months in office, the Democrat party-led coalition government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has defied expectations by holding ground and beginning to consolidate its rule.

    Mr Abhisit has shown a steady temperament and sound grasp of policy issues, having reassured many foreign audiences near and far about Thailand’s readiness to move on. The favourable international reception he has earned has fed into his legitimacy and standing at home.

    In the face of the global economic turmoil, his government’s various stimulus packages have been rolled out in succession, and more are in store. His Establishment backing remains intact, despite cracks in the Democrat party’s alliance with the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) whose street protests indirectly facilitated the party’s path to power.

    As intra-coalition squabbling and corruption scandals along with the adverse effects from the economic downturn are likely to be the Abhisit government’s chief challenges, the no-confidence motion in Parliament, which has been moved up by a week as an apparent tactic to throw the opposition off balance, is unlikely to sap government stability.

    And there’s this, about the current squabbling over whether to close Bangkok’s Don Mueang airport:

    The no-confidence vote will likely go down along party lines. As long as the Newin Chidchob faction, a breakaway coterie of old-style politicians from Puea Thai, supports the government, Mr Abhisit’s coalition is likely to sail through comfortably. Cracks within the coalition based on the Newin faction’s vested interests may cast doubt on the final vote. The Newin backers, who have insisted on centralising all commercial flights at the main Suvarnabhumi Airport to the benefit of a duty-free monopoly and construction firms with interests to expand the near-capacity airport, will try to exercise leverage on the no-confidence vote.

    This is why Mr Abhisit, who disagrees with abandoning the older Don Meuang International Airport, is being flexible on the one-airport policy.

    And on Thaksin:

    Thaksin himself, exiled and under a criminal conviction, is fully rallying his UDD troops through video-conferences from unspecified places overseas. Conspicuously on the offensive, Thaksin is desperate with few attractive places to reside. He appears to want to make a deal, and somehow navigate a way back to the country in view of his lost power and his more than $2 billion in assets frozen by the authorities after the September 2006 military coup.

    But distance and time have been unkind to Thaksin. His phenomenon is still potent enough to agitate and stir up trouble for the government, but not enough to depose it in the way the PAD and Establishment forces overthrew his proxy governments under Samak Sundaravej and Somchai Wongsawat last year.

    Mr Abhisit now has the upper hand. Unless Puea Thai comes up with damning evidence on corruption and misrule, the Abhisit government is likely not only to survive but to build on its nascent momentum for a lasting term, whose longevity may be more determined by intra-coalition management and the adverse impact of the economic slump.

    ASEAN summit kicks off in Thailand

    BBC: “Asean opens with economic agenda

    The 10-member Association of South East Asian nations (Asean) has started a summit meeting in Thailand.

    They will discuss how to address the impact of declining global demand on their export-dependent economies.

    This is the first summit since Asean implemented a charter making it a legal entity more like the European Union.

    But human rights groups say there is still no mechanism for dealing with routine abuses inside Asean member states like Burma and Vietnam.

    With some Asean members dependent on exports for as much as three quarters of national income, the global economic crisis hangs over this summit meeting like a thunder-cloud.

    Rights rules?

    But there is not much the member states can do to soften the blow – whereas human rights groups say they should be doing a lot more to give their new charter teeth so that fellow members can be held accountable for abuses of their citizens.

    In case you’re curious about the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), you can find some background info here. ((By the way, did you know there’s an official ASEAN flag?))

    Wearing red and yellow in Thailand

    Time: “How Not to Make a Political Fashion Statement in Bangkok

    Last year, a swarm of yellow-clad demonstrators massed in Bangkok, taking over the international airport and virtually paralyzing the Thai capital for a week. Today, the color of protest is red. As bigwigs from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) began gathering at a seaside resort near Bangkok on Feb. 26 for an annual summit, thousands of anti-government protesters wearing crimson shirts congregated at the Thai Prime Minister’s office, demanding that Abhisit Vejjajiva hold elections soon. Thursday marked their third day of protest, and the red-hued demonstrators vowed not to cease until their demands for fresh polls were met.

    This week’s new spate of color-coded dissent underlines not only the political instability that has marked Thai politics for several years now but also the tricky task of what to wear in Bangkok.

    And:

    After a new administration aligned with the yellow-wearing royalists came to power in December, the new opposition began staging its crimson protests. Local pundits kid that P.M. Abhisit is being deluged by a Red Sea. The joke among journalists who try to maintain their reportorial objectivity is that orange, a mix of yellow and red, may be the best color to wear when reporting on Thai politics.

    The hijacking of red and yellow by political groups has forced some Thais to give up wearing both colors, lest they be erroneously placed in one of the two political camps. The number of people who would normally wear yellow on Mondays to honor the King has dropped considerably, not because they respect the monarch any less, but because they don’t want to be associated with the PAD. Likewise, soccer-mad Thais who would usually wear red Arsenal or Manchester United jerseys have been forced to think twice about supporting their favorite sports team.

    Thai academic flees to England to escape lese majeste charge

    AP: “Thai academic accused of insulting monarchy flees“:

    A prominent academic facing 15 years in prison for allegedly insulting Thailand’s monarchy fled to England, saying Monday he does not believe he will receive a fair trial.

    Ji Ungpakorn, a political scientist at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University, was charged last month under the so-called lese majeste law over a book about Thailand’s 2006 military coup. His case is the latest in a spate of prosecutions and increased censorship of Web sites allegedly critical of the royal family.

    “There is no justice in Thailand,” said Ji in an e-mail sent Monday to The Associated Press. “The regime seems to be inching toward a police state.”

    Thailand is a constitutional monarchy but has severe lese majeste laws, mandating a jail term of three to 15 years for “whoever defames, insults or threatens the king, the queen, the heir to the throne or the Regent.”

    So far there’s nothing in the Bangkok Post or the Nation. But stay tuned.

    Notes from Thai PM Abhisit’s FCCT Speech

    Abhisit Vejjajiva, Thailand’s recently-named Prime Minister, gave a speech at a Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand dinner last night. It was his first address given to the entire foreign press corps. In his 30-minute speech, the 44-year-old, British-born, Oxford-educated Abhisit said he would work to achieve reconciliation and social justice in a country that has seen ongoing political chaos.

    Outside the event, which was held at Bangkok’s Intercontinental Hotel, a small group of opposition protesters staged a demonstration. Many in Thailand still support ousted Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and his backers have recently held a series of protests around the city. They argue that Abhisit came to power last month through a “judicial coup” following the PAD’s closure of Bangkok’s airports and the subsequent banning of the Thaksin-linked People Power Party. One of the protesters held up a sign saying that foreign governments should boycott the upcoming ASEAN summit.

    Inside the hotel’s ballroom, though, the atmosphere was relatively lighthearted.

    Here are my notes from PM Abhisit’s speech:

    On being Prime Minister

    • “I knew this would be an incredibly difficult job…and there is no doubt that the number one priority is to get the system to work again.”
    • “I know that my job is requiring a grand plan for reconciliation. But it won’t happen without justice. I intend to achieve justice in three key areas.”

    Abhisit then outlined the following three points:

    • “The restoration of the rule of law” will be crucial. “I’m not just leaving everything to the police. I’m in the process of finding a few people…and I will ask them to help ensure that there’s a good overview of what’s happened.”
    • “There has to be justice through political reform. The red shirts say the constitution is dictatorial and must be reformed. The yellow shirts say they want a ‘new politics.’
    • “Most important: I will prove that my government will not discriminate; we will work for all Thais, no matter where they live…I will work for every single Thai…”

    On political divisions in Thailand

    • “It isn’t true that elites and grassroots people have different ideas about what’s best for the country. It just isn’t true…On one side, they believe that democracy should be about majority rule…But on the other side, they expect democracy to return a government that practices good governance that is transparent and accountable. I will prove that both are possible.”

    On international relations

    • Holding he ASEAN summit in Hua Hin, Thailand, will “send a clear signal: We are back in business.”

    On Thailand’s south

    • “The situation over the last two years has been, at best, stable. But it hasn’t improved markedly…I intend to pass a law to set up an office with a minister for Southern affairs…”

    In conclusion

    • “The character of Thai people is very clear: it is our resilience. We’ve come through so many crises in the past. There’s no reason we can’t do so again…We simply can’t ask for cooperation. We must earn it. I intend to earn it.”

    Q&A session

    On tourism and the rule of law

    • For the Q&A session following his speech, I asked Prime Minister Abhisit about tourism and security in Thailand. Following November’s airport closure, many Americans and other foreigners wonder if it’s safe to travel to Thailand. How will the Thai government communicate to the world that the rule of law still exists in Thailand?
    • PM Abhisit said that he expected tourism numbers to hold steady, and that “we’re on the right path, and determined to stay on this path.”

    On lese majeste cases and the Web site crackdown

    • “The monarchy has immense benefits as a stabilizing force. We have respect for freedom of expression.” Web sites “shouldn’t allow illegal content…We will try to enforce the law while allowing freedom of expression.”

    More on political divisions within Thailand

    • Abhisit noted that in the US, there are differences in political thought among people who live on the east and west coasts and the mid-west. But he asked whether this truly reflects a “fundamental difference,” and whether this means that people who disagree with one another “can’t live in the same country?” He noted that “democracy isn’t just about elections. It’s about respect and the law. Everyone must be equal under the law.”

    On Myanmar (Burma)

    • He was asked what Thailand will do to bring about change in neighboring Myanmar. He said that “it’s time for change that will benefit the people and the government.”

    On his musical tastes

    And finally, on a lighter note, PM Abhisit was asked about his musical tastes and about some of his favorite music from 2008. He mentioned that he like the following bands:

    • The Killers
    • Oasis
    • Metallica
    • Guns N’ Roses
    • Arctic Monkeys

    Media coverage

    Here’s some media coverage of the event:

    • The Nation: “Grand reconciliation through social justice and rule of law : PM”
    • AFP: “New Thai PM vows to heal political rifts”
    • VOA News: “Thai Prime Minister Promises to End Country’s Political Conflicts”