Sunday, December 4, 2016

THE “NEITHERS”

18% of voters across the nation detested both candidates on November 8, and yet the majority of this group voted for Donald Trump, putting him over the top. For example, in Wisconsin, which was a crucial state for Trump, the “Neithers” were 22%, not 18%, and yet among them a whopping 60% voted for Trump. In Michigan, 50% of the Neithers voted for Trump but Hillary Clinton did not get the other 50%; she only got 29%, the remainder evidently going to minor party candidates. Where the percentage of Neithers was smaller than 18%, such as in Florida and North Carolina, the Neithers went for Trump by more than 60%.


The point is that Trump is president-elect exactly because he won narrow victories in several key states, where voters who detested him—but detested Hillary Clinton more—made the difference. (Hat tip to Mark Levin for turning me on to this Edison Research poll.)


An odd finding: Two percent of voters had favorable views of BOTH candidates! What were these people on, and is it legal anywhere?



*  *  *


If you think it would be a good idea to do away with the Electoral College, just look at an election map for 2016. It is a sea of Republican red bordered by a few islands of Democratic blue. Of course, the blue states include some of the country’s most populous states: New York, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Virginia. But thirty states, including Texas, went for the Republican candidate while only twenty voted for the Democratic candidate. That means twice as many states went for the Republican as the Democrat. While the popular vote in favor of the Democrat (by only 1.32 million votes) indicates that the Republican should not assume that he has a mandate—especially since almost ten percent of the voters who pushed him over the top in key states actually detest him—he nevertheless won the election fair and square according to the rules established in 1787, and, state-by-state, the so-called fly-over people got the candidate they voted for. Whether they really wanted him or not, in an ideal world, is another question.



That said, Donald Trump is already getting criticism even from conservatives who voted for him (notably, Mark Levin). His announcement of a deal with the air-conditioner company, Carrier, is being called “crony capitalism” and favoritism. (Where are the deals for the air-conditioner companies that never said they were moving jobs overseas? Why does the squeaky wheel have to get the grease?) Meanwhile, most conservatives are taking a wait and see approach. After all, the president-elect is not president until January 20.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Long-Since Demise of Leftist Political Satire

Within the last couple of years, one of the Sunday pundit-fests ended with a tribute to the corner the left supposedly still has on the political satire market. I listened in disbelief. The left lost any claim to having a sense of humor about politics long ago.


My local newspaper carries a weekly feature called “Latelaughs.” It prints the jokes of late night hosts as well as “Saturday Night Live.” Not those told during the previous week for some reason, but very stale material. In fact, on December 3, 2016, they printed jokes from as far back as November 7 through 9, the week of the late election. I have been noting for some time that at least half of the jokes in this column have been political. This week, they printed more jokes than usual and all but two related to the election.

The jokes mainly reflect the cluelessness of the leftward mainstream of popular culture. Conan O’Brien described the election results as “a massive shock,” which is only because the big media spent the election cycle in their own bubble, never bothering to take seriously what was happening on the ground. (I myself bet that Hillary Clinton would win, even though I told myself that I could be wrong. That’s why I only bet three bucks on her.)

One of the better jokes recorded in “LateLaughs” compared every newsreader reporting the results on election night to “a child slowly realizing that no one was showing up to his birthday party.” Like all decent jokes, this contains a kernel of truth, but in doing so it exposes the fact that the big media outlets a) had bamboozled themselves into believing that the election was going in the opposite direction from where it went, and 2) they had a dog in the fight rather than being unbiased.

A few jokes illustrate the cluelessness of the jokesters themselves:

Conan O’Brien said, “Two things happened last night. Donald Trump got elected president, and my job just got easier for the next four years.” He would have been unable to make easy jokes with Bill Clinton back in the White House?

He continued: “The first thing I did this morning was call my old high school bully and congratulate him.” Couldn’t he have done the same if the winner had been Hillary Clinton, the woman who added insult to injury by bullying every woman that her husband sexually abused?

But you see, leftists have a tin ear when it comes to knowing where the political jokes are. The joke, in this case, is on O’Brien.

Jimmy Kimmel did no better: “Tomorrow we will elect either Biff from ‘Back to the Future’ or one of the robots from ‘Westworld’.” Rather bite-less.

Kimmel went ahead: “…Donald Trump reached out and grabbed America by the Virginia….” Yes, yes. A referencethis time with some biteto the "Access Hollywood" tapes, but it is almost as if this joke had been written before it was known that Trump was not going to win in Virginia (though his loss there was no surprise), except that is also not possible because the writers never thought he was going to win the presidency. The joke is a stretch in any case.

Kimmel goes on: “It turns out these [pre-election] polls are no different from those experiments where they make hamsters ring a bell for a dropper full of sugar water. They’re meaningless.”

I myself made a better version of this joke in a tweet:

Nov 9: Over weekend, #CoastToCoast show cited numerous psychics who predicted Clinton win. Only one predicted #Trump. Sounds just like pollsters.

Michael Che of “Saturday Night Live” said, “Donald Trump is the next president of the United States. Haha, ‘United’.” So it would have been united if HRC had been elected? No, but that wouldn’t have mattered to the soft totalitarians on the left. If they can’t MAKE unity, they PRETEND it. (Even now, they are pretending she won in their safe spaces.)

One or the other of SNL’s “Weekend Update” anchors, Che or Colin Jost, went on to rant lengthily (for a joke) to belabor Trump’s lack of experience in government during his seventy years on earth. “A 70 year old holding a new career is not how the presidency is supposed to work….” I’m sorry, but this seems more like an unfunny, boring, whiny editorial than the set up to a joke. Meanwhile, is it not much funnier that so many politicians who pretend they know how to run the private sector from Washington, DCincluding the current occupant of the White Househave never held a real job, period? (Aside from Barack Obama, who allegedly at least had a pretend job at a private law firm for five minutes, we have Senator Charles "Chuck" Shumer who has never worked outside of government his entire adult life.)

Ever since Al Franken went to the 1992 Democratic Convention on behalf of Comedy Central and could not bring himself to make fun of it, it has been abundantly clear that political satire in the popular culture is dominated by leftists with a tin ear for what is actually absurdly funny on the political scene—because they themselves are too often part of the joke.

SNL lost it long ago, but I fully realize it 27 October 2012 when SNL opened with a skit based on the last presidential debate between Mitt Romney and President Obama. In the skit, actors playing Romney, Obama and moderator Candy Crowley, re-enacted the moment when Romney said that Obama had waited 14 days to call the Benghazi attack an act of terrorism. Crowley—both in the debate and as portrayed on SNL—proceeded to read from a transcript she just happened to have, and showed that Obama had mentioned the word “terrorism” in his remarks on 12 September 2012. Thereupon, the actor playing Obama stepped to the foot of the stage and dropped his microphone. That was the only real departure from the historical event, the rest of which was played straight (in a comedy sketch, mind you). While making up its punch line, the skit completely missed the actual humor throughout the situation being portrayed, which was inherently absurd. First of all, did no one notice the humor of an alleged moderator suddenly becoming the president’s debate partner? And how did they miss the rather obvious humor of the “moderator” just happening to have a transcript of the president’s remark from over two months previous?

Finally, if I were writing the sketch and making up further developments after portraying what actually happened, I would have played on the novel role of the moderator as the president’s in-studio helper by borrowing from the game show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” (On the game show, a contestant can ask for help from either someone in the studio or someone on the telephone.) The actor playing Romney should have responded to being double-teamed by citing the game show rules and asking for a “lifeline” of his own.  The liberal bias need not have been sacrificed entirely: “Romney” could have called “Rush Limbaugh,” who could have said, “Mitt, you’re on your own.” Underneath, though, the point would have been made that what Crowley did was bizarre (not to say unethical). It could have been played on for what it was: Funny if it were not so pathetic. But what ended up being more pathetic was SNL’s failure to find satire when it had already been written for them and was directly in front of their faces.

If Romney actually had reached out to Limbaugh at that moment, of course, the talk show host would have pointed out that Obama only mentioned the word “terrorism” during his 12 September remarks; he did not identify the Benghazi attack as an example of such an act. Indeed, Crowley herself, in an interview immediately after the debate, admitted that “Governor Romney was right in the main,” but that she had tripped him up on a “technicality.” It would not have been hard for a comedy writer to have seen this interview and understood its implications, but, of course, his career at SNL would have been over, and the skit would have been rewritten as something closer to what it was, not the funnier version that it could have been.


The left cannot claim to have a corner on political satire, whether on late night talk shows or variety-sketch shows like SNL, if they cannot see the real jokes that reality has written for them.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Most Common (Popular) Surnames in the United States include Smith & Johnson, not necessarily Jones, but the name Garcia is on the rise

Joseph Smith, founder of
the Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints
John Smith, explorer,
soldier of fortune &
leader of colonial Virginia
Smith and Johnson top the list of most common (or, as some would have it, popular) names in most of the United States, although, in some states like Minnesota, Johnson is the top name while, in most other states, Smith is most popular. Many of the northern and central states were settled by Germans and Scandinavians. That is why names like Anderson and Olson crop up there as very popular names, and the frequency of the name Smith could be due to the German name Schmidt being Anglicized into Smith. More often, perhaps, the name Smith just represents multiple waves of immigrants from the British Isles.


In North Dakota, Johnson comes in first while Anderson comes in second and Olson comes in third. Is it possible that if you sign yourself as Smith in a North Dakota motel, the clerk will be less suspicious than his counterpart would be in nearby Montana, where Smith is the most popular name? What is the difference, BTW, between “most common” and “most popular”? As I see it, if your name happens to be Smith, then it is popular; but if the guy who is not within earshot is named Smith, then between you and me, we’ll call it common. By this reckoning, Smith is the most common name in 39 states. Or maybe forty. I lost count. So it must be the most common name in the United States. I mean, without doing the math, it has to be. And yet, how many people have you actually met named Smith? I cannot think of very many, although, that might just be because I haven’t noticed most of them. If your name is Smith, I had to like you or hate you for you to make an impression on me; so only my favorite person named Smith and my least favorite person named Smith leap to mind. 

But back to the survey. Wherever Smith is not the top name, it is usually the second most common (five states) or third (South Dakota being the one and only state where this is the case). I know that everyone always thinks of Jones as being almost as popular as Smith, but it makes the top three in only four of the United States. 
Andrew Johnson, 17th U.S. President
(The 36th President was Lyndon B. Johnson)



Johnson, on the other hand, is in the top three in 41 states. Other “popular” names include Williams, which is among the top three names in 17 states. (Right or wrong, I believe I once heard that Williams is the twentieth most popular name in the English-speaking world.) 

Tennessee Williams, playwright
Hank Williams, musician & songwriter



Loni Anderson, actress
John L. Sullivan, boxer
Next come Brown (eight states), Anderson (seven states), Miller (seven), and Sullivan (one state—Massachusetts.) Having lived in Massachusetts, I can attest to the popularity of Sullivan, the name of my favorite high school teacher as well numerous other people that I knew there.

As you might expect, if you have been hearing about the increase in the immigrant and native Hispanic populations in the United States, there are other names besides the British or northern European ones that are becoming very common. Hispanic names have become especially common in the southwestern states. You might be surprised to learn that, in some states, Hispanic names have already displaced Northern European ones on the three most popular list. In fact, there are two states where all three top names are Hispanic: California and New Mexico. In California, the most common names are Garcia, Hernandez and Lopez. Garcia is also the most popular name in Texas where it tops Smith, and Garcia places or shows in Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico. Also, Martinez is very popular in Texas, New Mexico and Colorado.

Surprise! Asian names are popular in Hawaii, although the name Lee is a European name as well as an East Asian one, which could be why it holds the top spot in the Islands and is more popular than Wong and Kim.

Manuel Antonio Chaves, officer of the 2nd
 New Mexico Volunteers during the Civil War
I have mentioned all but two of the most popular names that come up in this state-by-state survey. Nelson is the third most popular in Minnesota and Chavez (variant spelling: Chaves) is third in New Mexico. 

Here is the list of all the top names on a state-by-state basis: Smith, Johnson, Williams, Brown, Anderson, Miller, Garcia, Jones, Martinez, Chavez, Hernandez, Lee, Lopez, Nelson, Olson, Sullivan, Wong, and Kim.

Of course, it would be statistically invalid to assume that the last nine names on this list are very common across the country, because they are each only among the three most common names in a single state, and Martinez is among the three most common in only three states. Since Hispanic names are still not among the top three in most states—although that could change soon enough—at least some of the Hispanic names will fall from the upper rungs of the list when national averages are calculated.

A note about the people pictured: They all represent states where each of their names is currently among the top three. John Smith was born in Lincolnshire and died in London, but he is famous for helping to settle Virginia, where Smith remains the most popular name; Joseph Smith was born in Vermont and grew up in New York, in both of which states Smith is the most popular name, as it is in other states where he lived, including Ohio and Illinois, as well as in Utah, the state where the religion he founded has become ensconced. Andrew Johnson was born in North Carolina where his name comes in third and died in Tennessee where it is second. Tennessee Williams was born in Mississippi and Hank Williams was born in Alabama, and in both states Williams is the second most popular name. Similarly, Loni Anderson was born in Minnesota (second most popular) and John L. Sullivan was born in Massachusetts (third most popular). Manuel Chaves was born in New Mexico and died there, although he was born a citizen of Mexico and died a citizen of the United States. As noted above, Chavez is the third most popular name in his state.