Sunday, July 31, 2016

From Opposing Trump to Supporting Him (Somewhat)

Ever since Donald Trump ran for the presidency, I didn't think he would be a good nominee and thought he was unlikely to win. His victory in the Republican primaries and caucuses was monumental because few thought he was going to get that far. I have many reservations about Trump, but I recently attended a rally held by his vice presidential candidate, Mike Pence, at the Waukesha County Expo Center. After listening to Pence speak, I've decided that I can get behind the Republican ticket even if I don't completely back the presidential candidate.

The whole reason Trump picked the governor of Indiana as his VP choice was because he needed someone who could rally Republicans that backed other candidates like Ted Cruz and John Kasich. Since I voted for Cruz and would have voted for Kasich if he was the only candidate left by the time of the Wisconsin primary, I decided that it made total sense for me to go and see Pence because up until now I didn't support Trump. I went with a friend to Waukesha, but what surprised me immediately was that there was a bad turnout. I think the Waukesha County Expo Center was 75 percent full, but that isn't good when you compare turnout to Trump rallies (I tried to get into two twice before finally entering at Nathan Hale High School in West Allis).

Before Pence spoke, several local politicians gave speeches in support of Trump, but also to slam Hillary Clinton. I think it is obvious that if Trump wants unity in the GOP, he needs to hammer how dangerous Clinton will be if she becomes president. Governor Scott Walker and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus also gave speeches. This rally proved that the entire Republican Party of Wisconsin's leadership now backed the nominee even though most of them overwhelming opposed him in the primary.

When Pence spoke, he gave an excellent speech on conservative principles. Everything from economic issues to social issues were touted. He spoke about his record in Indiana in order to help people understand his experience as a state executive and how it could help in the White House. He talked about the concerns many people have today when it comes our economy and foreign policy. If Trump wanted Pence to help gather the votes of many voters, I think he did it. I looked up Pence's gubernatorial record and he's a natural conservative on issues from gun policy to economic reforms.

I still believe Trump was a bad choice for the GOP nomination, but he did go out of his way to appeal to conservatives by providing a list of advisers and potential choices for the Supreme Court. If Trump were to back away on these promises, then he would completely lose his base. Some are concerned he would become an unfortunate staple on the conservative movement, but I don't think most Americans see him that way (we've just witnessed a primary were candidates who were more conservative tried to defeat him). When it comes to policies I disagree with him on (like raising the minimum wage), our only hope is that Congress keeps him in check (and if Trump wins the White House, chances are Republicans will still control the legislative branch). If Congress, now under the control of Wisconsin native Paul Ryan, remains vigilant, then I think we can get real reform done. In fact, if Trump is not willing to enact conservative policies and gridlock mounts, then there is a real chance that a Republican can defeat him for the nomination in 2020. Trump will have to be very cautious if he moves too far to the left. In the end, I have decided at this time that I will vote for the GOP ticket (unless something changes) because I like Pence. Frankly, it is a simple mathematical equation:

0 (Trump) + 1 (Pence) = 1
0 (Clinton) + 0 (Kaine) = 0
1 (GOP) > 0 (Democrats)

I did consider voting for a third party, but I'm not satisfied with the choices. I'm certainly not voting for the leftist Jill Stein and the Green Party. This left Gary Johnson and the Libertarian ticket. Johnson won a record number of votes for the Libertarian Party in 2012 and will probably win more this time. I love most of his economic message, but I can't stand his foreign policy, which is arguably more dangerous than what I expect from the nominees nominated by the top two parties. Now is not the time for less interventionism when ISIS is on the run and China is expanding. This is an area where I actually think Trump will perform the best because he seems genuine when he talks about his hatred of ISIS (though I dislike his love of Russia's Vladimir Putin). Can I change my opinion? Yes I can. By election day I may be voting for someone else, but as of now I'm with Trump because I see Pence as a powerful conservative voice in the White House.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

The 2016 Democratic Convention

With the Republicans receiving a bump following their convention last week in Cleveland, the Democrats hoped that their convention in Philadelphia will be able to swamp the increase in support of the Trump/Pence ticket. Right out of the gate, Hillary Clinton's hope for unity faced critical problems with news from the weekend. Leaked emails have proven that the Democratic National Committee led by chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was heavily biased towards Clinton during the primaries and caucuses. Schultz will resign in disgrace after the convention and will not preside over it, but she has been immediately hired by the Clinton campaign.

The Never Trump movement did their best to stop the Donald's nomination on the first day of the convention, but failed to prevent the ratification of the rules. The same happened to Bernie Sanders delegates on the first day. A voice vote was held to ratify the rules of the convention, but the Sanders supporters were unable stop it. Following the vote, Representative Marcia Fudge of Ohio tried to woo the crowd by speaking about Clinton and Tim Kaine, but she was booed by thousands of Sanders supporters during her speech. Here's her speech:

Michelle Obama and Elizabeth Warren gave speeches that excited the crowd. Everyone, however, was waiting for Bernie Sanders. The first lady gave a speech that focused on history and children. She emphasized that it is important for parents to vote for a good future that their children will live in. Warren's speech was more of a speech on liberal issues and then an assault on Trump. Sanders had the paramount job of uniting the Democrats together for Clinton. During his speech, he gave his traditional leftist rhetoric on the economy and told the crowd why Trump was the wrong choice for America. This was a big moment for Sanders. He was once an outcast in American politics, but his socialist movement energized many young voters to get involved in politics. Sanders touted the work he and his campaign did, achieving their goal of driving the Democratic Party further left. Hillary Clinton may be more moderate than Sanders is, but she had to moved further leftward from where she already was. Outside of the convention, there were pro-Sanders protesters every night. These are the people Clinton will need to have an easy path to the White House.

On the second day, Terry McAuliffe spoke, but I was more interested in his interviews after the speech. Sanders supporters are adamant about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but the Virginia governor had the guts to say that Clinton will change her view on the subject when in the White House. This would seriously disrupt Democratic unity and soon the campaign was in damage control. Howard Dean also spoke at the convention, but his speech was very uninteresting and sounded bad.

The biggest speech of the second night was that of Bill Clinton's. I would say his job was even harder than Melania Trump's. While Trump is a private citizen (despite being famous), Clinton has been in the public sphere for decades. His speech was too long for my taste. Overall, he knew how to give a decent speech that night which focused on Clinton's personal life, but I don't know if many people (except for Clinton supporters) will draw towards the nominee because of his speech. It was a speech on Clinton's personality made by her most important surrogate.

The third had several big names. Most of the night was entirely about attacking Trump. In fact, the Democratic platform mentions the Republican nominee several times. One of Clinton's opponents, Martin O'Malley, gave a speech that focused on attacking the Donald. His appearance was unique for the convention because he decided to just speak with a shirt and a loosened tie (no suit coat). Michael Bloomberg, the New York billionaire who considered an independent presidential run, decided to back Clinton and unleashed another attack on Trump. Leon Panetta, the former defense secretary, gave a speech that addressed ISIS and Trump's understanding of foreign policy. Unfortunately for him, many in the audience ruined it with anti-war chants, proving again that Democrats aren't hawkish enough.

The president and the vice president both gave speeches during the convention. Out of the two, I though Biden gave a more effective attack against Trump. Biden's speech also tried to appeal to middle class voters and refute the Donald's speech on how dim the United States has been during Obama's presidency. As for the president, his speech wasn't anything special. In order to promote Clinton, he talked about foreign policy, which included authorizing the assault on Osama bin Laden's home. His speech focused, more or less, on a patriotic message.

Wrapped in the middle of all these speeches was Tim Kaine and I think that was a drag on Clinton's choice for her second-in-command. The Virginia senator game an okay speech during the convention. I already heard Democrats talk about how great Clinton is during the convention. I also heard plenty of attacks on Trump. Kaine continued to follow the queue. In the middle of all these high profile speakers, Kaine just seemed too ordinary.

Tim Kaine is considered to be a safe choice for Democrats. Since Trump is appealing to more white voters, I think she picked Kaine because he can connect to while males and in key southern states. Larry Sabato, the respected political scientist at the University of Virginia, has now put the Old Dominion safely into the Democratic column (for now) because of Kaine's selection. Aside from that, there's nothing else Kaine has to offer. You could say he's similar to Mike Pence, but Trump's VP choice was meant to rally the conservative base that heavily followed Ted Cruz. Kaine does not connect to Sanders supporters. Here's his speech:

The final night of the convention put all of the spotlight on Clinton. Before she spoke, the Democrats rolled out more speakers that attempted to highlight their strengths and exploit Republican weaknesses. I didn't this worked with Nancy Pelosi, who has had any grain of charisma. I thought Khizr Khan, the father of a Muslim-American who served in the U.S. military and was killed in Afghanistan, gave one of the stronger speeches of the night. It was especially strong when Khan held out his pocket Constitution in order to give it to Trump. The convention, overall, seemed to be trying to be more patriotic than the GOP convention (probably an effort win over some Never Trump conservatives) and packed heavily with emotion.

Chelsea Clinton introduced her mother, but I thought Trump's daughter Ivanka gave a better introduction. Again, this goes to the fact that most people know who Clinton is. As for Clinton, she gave a speech explaining what she wanted to do and how much she cares about the issues. She contested Trump's negative assault on the state of the union with her own positive views of what is going on in the country. Overall, I didn't find Clinton's speech all that good, though she delivered a better speech than Trump (they are both mediocre). I think part of it was to prove that she knows more than he does, but she also looked angry throughout the speech. Her convention speech passes, but I don't think it will be something for everyone to remember.

After the Democratic convention, the Clinton/Kaine ticket should see a bump in the polls that I think will demolish Trump's narrow lead. Clinton's ratings weren't as good as Trump's, but she did get 29.8 million viewers. The margin is close, so it wasn't a bad night for the Democratic nominee. At this point, the race will begin to level out and the attacks will intensify. Here's Clinton's speech:

Monday, July 25, 2016

America's Past Populism

William Jennings Bryan delivers a speech in 1908 - Boundless
Donald Trump's victory in the Republican race and Bernie Sanders' socialist movement show how divided and angry the American electorate has become. Hillary Clinton may have been inevitable, but she received a lot of trouble for being a member of the Democratic Party's establishment. The presidential election of 2016 has shaped up to be one between the forces of nationalism and populism versus the forces of conventionality and establishment. Some voters may be stunned by the rise of Trump, but this isn't anything new to the United States. There have been times when populism was rising.

The first major case of populism in America was with the rise of Andrew Jackson. The War of 1812 hero won the most votes in the 1824 presidential election, but he did not capture a majority in the Electoral College. This allowed John Quincy Adams, the establishment's choice, to negotiate a "corrupt bargain" that blocked Old Hickory from the White House. Voters were furious and four years later populism triumphed over the establishment. It was the original American case of voters throwing out what they thought was a rigged system that favored the elite. Jacksonian Democracy, as it became known, was cemented with his inaugural address where thousands of enthusiastic supporters stormed the White House (then known as the Executive Mansion) for rum, ice cream, and an enormous block of cheese. Jackson's two terms marked one era of populism in in the White House.

The American Party (more commonly remembered as the Know-Nothings) was founded in 1845. It was a nationalist party that was vehemently opposed to the waves of Irish and German immigrants from Europe. They were also anti-Catholic and believed that the liberal revolutions of 1848 were crushed by Pope Pius IX. Opposing illegal immigration put Donald Trump on the map, but the uproar created by social justice warriors on college campuses is also similar to the views of the Know-Nothings. Just like the racist rejection of Roman Catholicism, the Irish, and the Germans in the 1840s and the 1850s, left-wing movements at many universities today aim to prevent the expansion of ideas that are considered dangerous (courses on western civilization, literature of the philosophers of Ancient Greece, conservatism, etc.) in order to pave the way for "safe spaces." The American Party did garner a considerable amount of support, but was not as successful as Andrew Jackson's Democratic Party. The Know-Nothings had their strongest showing in the 1856 election, when former President Millard Fillmore won 21.5 percent of the popular vote and eight electoral votes from Maryland.

In the late nineteenth century, a party of workers literally called the Populists wanted to take on the eastern establishment and wealthy businessmen like John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, and John Pierpont Morgan. In 1892, candidate James B. Weaver garnered 8.5 percent of the popular and won 22 electoral votes from western states. Their message focused on the economy with a plan to end the gold standard and disrupt the conventional wisdom on tariffs. Realizing that the Populists could help the Democrats, a young politician from Nebraska named William Jennings Bryan became the face of the new anti-establishment at the turn of the century. Like Trump and Sanders, Bryan (nicknamed "The Great Commoner" by his supporters) wanted to take on the financial elites and traditional free market capitalism. Bryan also berated the establishment consensus on trade, though at the time it was in favor of protectionism. Trump and Sanders are taking on free trade in order to bring back protectionism, an economic theory that inevitably failed and won't help if it is reinstalled.

Bryan would be the Democratic nominee in three presidential elections. During those campaigns, he proposed the creation of an income tax and excelled in rural states. He would often target the gold standard and the "robber barons" in his speeches. Bryan would not win in any election. His first defeat was in 1896 against the establishment Republican William McKinley (which is the subject of an amazing book written by Karl Rove). A second run in 1900 simply repeated the result, with McKinley winning a second term. Bryan would take on William Howard Taft in 1908, but he was defeated again. While he would never become president, Bryan did serve as secretary of state in Woodrow Wilson's administration (the very president who implemented the income tax).

Another wave of populism came in the divisive 1960s. With Republicans and Democrats both fighting to end racial segregation with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Democrat George Wallace rallied whites who favored the declining policy to form the American Independent Party. Wallace, who served as the governor of Alabama, held the traditional view of the Democrats for decades. He saw that many of voters, especially southerners, were not pleased with the end of an atrocious system that backed one race over others. In 1968, Wallace hoped that he could win enough electoral votes to place the election in the hands of the House of Representatives. He even came to Milwaukee, giving a fiery speech at the American Serb Hall during his failed presidential campaign to win the Democratic nomination four years before going third party.

There are some clear similarities between Wallace and Donald Trump. Both men are lighting rods who thrive on controversy to advance their political campaigns. Both men are heavily supported by those without college educations. The vocabulary used by Wallace and Trump easily connects to those voters who aren't as educated. Both men were able to pack their rallies. At those rallies, disruptions always occurred. Trump, like Wallace, would have the disruptors tossed out while exciting the crowd with aggressive rhetoric. Thankfully, Wallace did not win the election, but he did receive 13.5 percent of the popular vote and forty-six electoral votes from five southern states (one vote came from a faithless elector in North Carolina). His highest margins of victory were in rural counties with smaller populations. Florida went to Republican victor Richard Nixon, but only because of his support in southern populous counties. The panhandle stood with Wallace.

The rise of Jacksonian Democracy, the Know-Nothings, Bryan's Populists, and Wallace's American Independents are all examples of nationalist and populist anti-establishment movements with extremist tendencies. The only question left: why now? The answer is that many voters feel that their voices are not heard anymore. The economic situation has not strongly rebounded and is being administered by a bloated welfare state. The bureaucratic problem can be attributed to Woodrow Wilson's progressive ideology of an administrative state where power from the legislature and the judiciary were rerouted to the executive branch. Big government has been unable to make Americans happier (just look at the fledgling Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010). Illegal immigration is a massive problem in the United States and has been made worse by the conduct of the Obama administration. In foreign affairs, the world continues to plunge into the abyss with terrorist attacks happening on a weekly basis in the western world. Authoritarian forces in Russia and China are on the march. The European Union is in shambles. This is the world of 2016. While the populists on the left failed, the populists on the right have succeeded with the nomination of Trump. We will find out in November if the populists rise to power like with Andrew Jackson in 1828 or the establishment holds them at bay like with William McKinley in 1896.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The 2016 Republican Convention

I've been busy over the last few weeks, so I was not able to cover Donald Trump's decision to pick Mike Pence as his running mate. This blog post will cover Pence and the Republican convention. I went with my father to observe what was happening around the convention grounds like we did in 2012 during the Tampa Bay convention. Conventions are always fascinating and this is certainly one for the history books.

The first day involved a last stand by the Never Trump movement within the GOP. They had suffered a defeat before the convention when attempting to pass a motion in committee that would unbind the convention delegates. On the convention floor, former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (who was part of Ted Cruz's campaign) and Senator Mike Lee of Utah led this vocal movement to change the rules at the last minute. Once again, their attempts failed when RNC leaders on the stage simply walked off the stage. It was the last gasp of what I believe is an increasingly declining faction. You can see what happened here:

Later in the night, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani of New York City gave a speech focusing on national security that excited the delegates. Then Melania Trump went to the podium to speak. This was the most important speech of the first night. Many voters didn't know much about her and what she would do if she was first lady. The speech seemed fine and everyone applauded her, but then it was found out that several paragraphs in her speech matched Michelle Obama's 2008 speech at the Democratic convention. A speechwriter later confirmed that she made a mistake, but the Trump campaign will not fire her. Melania's speech could have been remembered fondly, but the plagiarism that was committed effectively killed an important moment of this convention.

Trump and Pence were formally made the presidential and vice presidential nominees on the second day. I think the second night was better than the first. While I love positive messaging, it is also important to create a clear contrast between the two presidential candidates. That's what Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey did when he gave his speech. Christie spoke about Hillary Clinton's many failures from when she was leading the State Department. He then asked the crowd if she was guilty or not guilty with an obvious response from the convention's crowd. The concerns over Clinton's conduct are legitimate. She did violate federal law when handling classified information and the Obama administration's foreign policy initiatives aren't rosy. The Federal Bureau of Investigation's decision to prosecute her for breaking laws is not a victory for justice. Here's Christie's speech:

The rest of night included two of Trump's children, Donald Jr. and Tiffany. Trump's eldest son gave the better speech of the two. He highlithed his father's business success and how he is an excellent choice compared to Hillary Clinton. Don Jr. also talked about his father's support of blue collar workers. These are workers that Trump needs to win in the presidential election because of how large they are in Rust Belt states. Overall, Donald Trump Jr. slammed it out of the park.

The third night was all about defeated presidential candidates and Mike Pence. Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz all spoke at the convention. Walker is now backing Trump, but he also focused on what Republican governors have been achieving in states across the country. Rubio's speech was quick because it was taped, but urged voters to back Trump. The most important speech out of the three that were given came from Cruz. He decided to not endorse Trump in his speech, probably because he does not see the Republican nominee as a true conservative. When pro-Trump delegates realized what was happening, they started to boo him (it was clearly heard from the New York delegation). Many Republicans are outraged that Cruz refused to endorse, but there are many conservatives who still have reservations about Trump. The Texas senator, who came in second to Trump, is calculating a presidential run in 2020 if Trump loses. It's a gamble that will pay off big if the Donald is not elected president.

As for Pence, the Indiana governor knew that many Republicans and independents don't know much about him. This was his moment to shine and explain who he was. I think Pence performed admirably throughout the night. He spoke about his conservative credentials and his backstory. Trump hopes that Pence will unite the GOP behind him. I think he did help with bringing in some of the conservatives who were on the fence, but Cruz has others staying put. Aside from rallying the conservative base, I'm not so sure that Pence offers anything else. Carl M. Cannon and Caitlin Huey-Burns of RealClearPolitics posted an article analyzing Pence that explains how he provides broad conservative support. However, Pence does not assist with outreach to minority groups. Lack of diversity could cost Trump the election. Here is the video of Pence's speech (Trump appears to be making up for the diversity problem by having several black activists speak at the convention, including Sheriff David Clarke of Milwaukee county):

The battle for unity lays between Cruz and Pence. Nate Silver is making the argument that Trump's convention is falling apart. He makes two points on what conventions are: to unify the part behind the nominee and to showcase the presidential candidate. Combined with the battles on the convention floor earlier in the week, it is obvious to any political scientist that Trump will leave with a divided convention (though most in the GOP convention do support him).

While delegates and credentialed guests listened to speeches during the convention, me and my father observed the political atmosphere outside the Quicken Loans Arena. I attended some Trump events during the Wisconsin primary (even though I didn't vote for him and haven't made a decision to support him yet in November). Both were similar in that there were many vendors outside selling unofficial Trump gear. Dad, who has supported the Donald since his presidential announcement, bought several shirts at the vendors. We both bought "Blue Lives Matter" shirts and I purchased another for a friend. I also acquired several buttons and hats for myself. As for protesters, there weren't as many as expected. Most gathered in Public Square near a large Civil War monument. I found it so ironic that Black Lives Matter protesters were gathered on the very same road Abraham Lincoln's funeral carriage traveled on over 150 years ago. Someone did burn a flag on Wednesday, but it was quickly prevented by the police.

The final night (Thursday) included many social conservatives. These included Jerry Falwell, Jr. and pastor Mark Burns. There was still a lot of anti-Clinton in the night. Someone was walking around with a Hillary Clinton mask and wearing an orange prison outfit with handcuffs. Once again, the negativity fine, but I hoped this night would focus on Trump and the GOP's vision. I was pleased when several speeches focused on Trump later on. Tom Barrack, the founder and CEO of Colony Capital, gave a very affectionate speech about his friend Trump. I thought his speech was one of the best of the night because it was more humanizing. An excellent video narrated by actor Jon Voight described Trump before he spoke. Ivanka Trump gave a wonderful introduction for her father. A millennial businesswoman, she has become one of the Donald's greatest assets (I think more so than anyone else in the Trump family).

What about Trump? He started speaking about how gloomy the nation and the world was. The beginning focused on many problems, from trade to crime. Trump the highlighted the disastrous foreign policy of the Obama administration, an area where Clinton was heavily involved. He spoke about how U.S. intervention in the Middle East has failed and that his Democratic opponent is responsible for it. He continued to pepper attacks during speech, even as it went somewhat positive. Trump then talked about what he wanted to, like bringing more law and order (rhetoric similar to that of Richard Nixon's in 1968).

Most of what he said during the speech was similar to what he has said before, which started to get boring for me. His decision to repeat itself is obvious. The nomination process only engaged a small number of electorate. Many independents are watching him for the first time. Trump spoke about people who are left out of the system, including factory workers who may have lost jobs and those who are victims of crimes. The transitions between topics seemed immediate. His foreign policy appeared to be a contradiction between "America First" and getting involved internationally with bombing ISIS. Trump's speech was the longest in recorded history, defeating the record set by Bill Clinton at the convention in 1996.

Overall, I can see why people though it was negative. Indeed, I thought the negativity lasted too long, but Trump did provide a vision (sort of) later on. The speech wasn't too impressive and being dark isn't as beneficial as being positive. What's the impact? I think there will be a slight bump in the polls, but it could be washed by the Democratic convention. As for ratings, Trump's speech received a total of 31.5 million viewers, which is slightly higher than that Mitt Romney received four years ago but lower than the number of viewers watching John McCain's convention speech in 2008. Most viewers watched the speech on Fox News, followed by CNN, and then MSNBC. Here it is:

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Yes, Pokémon Go is a Historic Moment

Lake Park on Pokémon Go
Two weeks ago I was looking at my interests with a depressing outlook. Politics isn't as exciting as it used to be because I don't see myself with a dog in the fight between two of the most fake presidential candidates in American history. I still enjoy history (currently reading Napoleon: A Life by Andrew Roberts), but otherwise there wasn't anything fun going on. Then Pokémon Go was released. One night at Kopp's Frozen Custard, I noticed that my brother was already playing the game on his phone. It also became clear to me that several people at the custard shop were playing, so I decided to download it. Within seconds, I caught my first Pokémon (Weedles are so numerous) and fell in love with the game.

Pokémon Go is a new app for smart phones released by Nintendo and Niantic Labs that has quickly caught the attention of many people who were born in the 1990s. Using data and the GPS in phones, the app places the fictional creatures across globe for players to catch. I was lucky enough to capture a Pikachu on the first day of playing, but what was important to me about this game was just how many people were playing it with me.

Millennials are too general a group to describe people who love Pokémon. Those who are part of the millennial generation were born from 1980 to 2000. If you are a millennial born early in the first decade, then you did not have such a heavy exposure to Pokémon in your childhood because the first episode aired on April 1, 1997 (someone born in 1980 would have been seventeen by the time it aired). Children born in the second decade, like myself, viewed Pokémon on television more often. If you were really lucky (like I was), your teacher had some VHS tapes that they played for you in kindergarten on a box-shaped television strapped to a cart:

K-4 was lit when this was pushed in. - Centaurus High School
You will only be able to understand the craze around Pokémon if your childhood revolved around it or if you were a parent who had a child that watched the show. Yes, I played it on Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS. Yes, I had my parents buy the trading cards. It was a big part of my life when I was a child. That's why so many young people are into Pokémon Go. I've noticed there are children born past 2000 who like Pokémon, but that particular fan group isn't as large. The timing of your birth matters.

On the second day, I focused on my own neighborhood. I encountered someone else who was playing as well. Then I started to go out more on the third day. I drove to several nearby parks and started to see many people playing the game. The most active park of that day was Grant Park in South Milwaukee, where Seven Bridges Trail is located. One of the best parts of being in Wisconsin is close access to water. Since Pokémon are set geographically, water Pokémon are typically found near rivers, lakes, and oceans. When I walked around Seven Bridges Trail, I caught many water Pokémon like Goldeen, Seel, and Magikarp.

It was later in the week that I realized just how many people were playing the game. I found out from friends on social media that Lake Park was the place to go, especially at night. I was amazed the first night I visited the park. There must have been hundreds of people walking around trying to catch Pokémon. It wasn't just about the app. Pokémon movies and television shows were being played throughout the night by someone who brought a projector. Another Pokémon fan brought tiki torches to illuminate the night. These informal Pokémon parties aren't just exclusively in Wisconsin. They are being held in communities across the world. Millions of players are meeting each other for the same entertainment.

Pokémon Go players gather at Lake Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Those who aren't interested in Pokémon might say it's dumb, but consider the financial importance. The last few years haven't been kind to Nintendo. It has been slaughtered in the console market against Sony and Microsoft. The release of Pokémon Go has briefly changed the company's fortunes. It has managed to add $7.5 billion to the company's market value. If you owned a share of Nintendo stock, you would have seen an increase of 24.52 percent on Monday, July 11. That's the company's highest one-day surged since 1983. The task for Nintendo and Niantic Labs now is to keep people interested in the app past the summer. If they can make the app's following last long enough, then both companies will see substantial profits. Politicians are even taking advantage of Pokémon Go. The Hillary Clinton campaign is using it to register voters in Ohio. Technology seems to change every four years, so it is important for politicians to adapt in order to win the youth vote.

The app has allowed people to go outside who otherwise would have stayed inside playing games on consoles. Parents regularly complain that they never get kids out of the house, but now there is a game that does just that. I don't usually visit parks, but now I do thanks to Pokémon Go.

The biggest impact from Pokémon Go, however, cannot simply be found in corporate profits, stock market reports, presidential campaigns, and cardio. The app is historic because it represents a turning point for human interaction with computers. The app is based off augmented reality. Two worlds, one of reality and one of fiction, have been blended together. You aren't just hanging out and meeting friends as you once did. Digital interaction has enhanced human interaction. Many companies are closely observing Pokémon Go and plan to make their own games. That's why the app will go down in history. It has redefined socializing and gaming forever. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

Dangerous Rhetoric Leads to Dangerous Actions

The deaths of five police officers and injuries of seven others in Dallas, Texas caused by black extremist and former soldier Micah X. Johnson with a sniper is the boiling point of the damage caused by violent rhetoric from supporters of Black Lives Matter. Now it is true that most people within the movement are peaceful and wouldn't commit violence against police. At the same time, however, there is clearly a large number of members who advocate for violence against cops. This encourages people to go out and commit atrocities against law enforcement.

There are past cases of violent rhetoric encouraging violence against others. In the 1930s, the Nazis used dangerous rhetoric to gain political power in Germany. Adolf Hitler and other Nazi politicians were known for their anti-Semitism. They routinely bashed the Jewish faith and other minorities for being responsible for Germany's problems. A large number of fanatic supporters in Germany blindly listened to those speeches and decided to commit violence on Jewish communities during the infamous Kristallnacht (Crystal Night) during the night of November 9, 1938 and into the early morning of November 10. The Black Lives Matter movement is far from being as powerful as the Nazis were, but there are scary similarities. After the shooting, Twitter was full of disgusting tweets celebrating the deaths of police officers.

It is crucial to examine the Black Lives Matter movement and where the hatred of police comes from. The Black Lives Matter movement picked up steam following the death of Michael Brown in 2014. Brown and a friend had been ordered by Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson to stop walking in a street and move to the sidewalk. Brown didn't follow Wilson's orders and instead attacked the officer. Fearing for his life, the cop opened fire on Brown and killed him. Bruising on Wilson's face confirms the assault. A grand jury decided not to indict him based on the evidence. Unfortunately, the protesters didn't care and a riot began in Ferguson. It was only the beginning, as riots would also erupt in Baltimore following the death of another African-American by police in 2015.

Black Lives Matter claims to be concerned with alleged bias against African-Americans by white police officers, but Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute has conducted exhaustive research on the issue, which she has published in The Wall Street Journal. Data she has analyzed finds that more whites and Hispancis were killed by police than African-Americans. The people that were killed by police were overwhelmingly threatening officers, usually with a firearm, so the response of law enforcement to return fire is more than reasonable. Mac Donald continues:
The lower proportion of black deaths due to police shootings can be attributed to the lamentable black-on-black homicide rate. There were 6,095 black homicide deaths in 2014—the most recent year for which such data are available—compared with 5,397 homicide deaths for whites and Hispanics combined. Almost all of those black homicide victims had black killers.  
Police officers—of all races—are also disproportionately endangered by black assailants. Over the past decade, according to FBI data, 40% of cop killers have been black. Officers are killed by blacks at a rate 2.5 times higher than the rate at which blacks are killed by police. 
Some may find evidence of police bias in the fact that blacks make up 26% of the police-shooting victims, compared with their 13% representation in the national population. But as residents of poor black neighborhoods know too well, violent crimes are disproportionately committed by blacks. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, blacks were charged with 62% of all robberies, 57% of murders and 45% of assaults in the 75 largest U.S. counties in 2009, though they made up roughly 15% of the population there.
The research she has provided means that no matter what is done police will end up disproportionally confronting violence in minority communities because that is where the concentration of crimes committed occurs. Other research from criminologist Greg Ridgeway of the University of Pennsylvania finds that black officers in New York City were 3.3 times more likely to fire than officers of other races. So much for white officers killing unarmed African-Americans.

What of white privilege? We all know that black Americans have had a struggling history in the United States with slavery and Jim Crow laws, but is it still impactful today? I have reason to believe that it does not. Blacks were not the only group that suffered from racism a century ago and beyond. Asians were also heavily discriminated against, but they have higher median household incomes than white Americans according to the 2014 numbers. The narrative of white privilege does not hold water.

Despite all these facts flying in the face of Black Lives Matter, the movement continues ferociously and has widespread support in the Democratic Party. It is a problem for some liberals, who dislike the tone of Black Lives Matter and prefer a more peaceful resolution. President Barack Obama is partly responsible for increasing divisiveness in America. Myron Magnet, the writer and editor-at-large of City Journal from 1994 to 2006, has called Obama the "anti-Lincoln" for his actions concerning Black Lives Matter:
When the president praises the Black Lives Matter demonstrators, as if they alone of his fellow countrymen know that platitudinous truth, he is only reinforcing black grievance, when his proper role is to convince ghetto blacks that their lives matter enough for them to take responsibility for them, to stop going around with chips on their shoulders and Glocks in their waistbands, to be fathers to the children they beget, and to set for them an example of the responsible citizenship that is theirs for the asking, thanks to the efforts of so many of their countrymen, white and black, living and dead. 
True to form, Obama went into grievance-mongering mode on July 7, commenting on the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile by cops in Louisiana and Minnesota. He noted that “all of us as Americans should be troubled by these shootings, because these are not isolated incidents. They’re symptomatic of a broader set of racial disparities that exist in our criminal justice system.” And he went on to detail law enforcement’s racial disparities, as if there were not even more stark and troubling racial disparities in lawbreaking. His familiar conclusion: “If you add it all up, the African American and Hispanic population, who make up only 30 percent of the general population, make up more than half of the incarcerated population. Now, these are facts. And when incidents like this occur, there’s a big chunk of our fellow citizenry that feels as if because of the color of their skin, they are not being treated the same. And that hurts.”
July 7 was the same day of the massacre in Dallas, which happened after Obama's remarks. Efforts to improve race relations by police departments have been hindered every time he has spoken after the shooting of a black man by police officers, when the problem could have been solved by local communities and departments. He only has months left until his presidency is over, but neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump have provided anything meaningful to the debate. If Black Lives Matter is constantly promoted at a national level, then I fear that civil order will continue to fall apart.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

What's Trump Doing?

In June, presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump did just about everything you don't want to do when you run for office. The most insane attack on his part was going after a judge presiding over a case involving Trump University. He attacked the judge for being of Mexican heritage, which he believes is a conflict of interest due to his proposed border wall. A large number of Republican politicians criticized Trump for his statement. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said it was "racist" and even possible VP candidate Newt Gingrich said Trump's statement was "inexcusable" about the judge. If Trump really wants to win in November, he's going to need the votes of at least 40 percent of the Latino community.

That's not all. The massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida is a serious topic revolving around gun policy, LGBT rights, and combating terrorism. This isn't the time to rush for political gain, but instead it should be the time to bring out unity and compassion for fellow human beings. Rather than say anything of real substance, Trump decided to reward himself by tweeting that he was right on radical Islam. His actions continue to raise eyebrows. An Ipsos poll conducted for Reuters found that Clinton has 44 percent of support and Trump has 33 percent. Little progress has been made.

The only bright spot for Trump is that he did raise a decent amount of money in June, which quells the fears of Republicans who are on the border between backing Trump and rejecting him. The monthly fundraising reports show that the Donald raised $51 million, but that is still behind Clinton who raised $68.5 million last month. Aside from the news that his campaign actually has some spending money, so far Trump has spent his July threatening to attack fellow Republicans. One of which, Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, had legitimate concerns because of Trump's rhetoric.

Erik Erickson, the anti-Trump conservative who runs The Resurgent, believes that Trump may actually be a Trojan horse who agreed to help Hillary Clinton win the White House. It's a conspiracy theory with little evidence, but Trump's actions are strange. The primary season is over and this is the moment that a presidential candidate would want to use to unify his party before the convention. Trump doesn't care about unification, so he will continue to be dragged down in the polls. He spent several days in Scotland and his New York buildings, rather than going out to campaign in key swing states. States that usually lean Republican are still at risk of being lost to Clinton. These include Arizona, Missouri, Indiana, and Georgia.

The Republican convention in Ohio is only weeks away and Trump hasn't stopped making gaffes that are to destroy his own candidacy and the Republican Party itself. If he cannot recover from his follies in June, then there may never be a chance at winning the White House. The only other way to win is if some major international crisis occurs that places the election in his favor.