Who is Mike Pence?

I don’t know anything about Mike Pence but he could be the next vice president of the US.

It is being reported that Donald Trump is going to name him as his running mate.

New York Times: Donald Trump’s Campaign Signals He Will Pick Mike Pence as Running Mate

Donald J. Trump’s campaign has signaled strongly to Republicans in Washington that he will pick Mike Pence, the governor of Indiana, as his running mate, though Republicans caution the party’s mercurial presidential candidate may still backtrack on his apparent choice.

Mr. Trump’s advisers have told national Republican officials that they are preparing to make an announcement with Mr. Pence, according to three people with knowledge of the conversations, who were not authorized to discuss them publicly. His campaign has said that it will unveil a running mate for Mr. Trump in New York on Friday.

Mr. Pence, a former congressman and radio host, emerged over the last week as the strong favorite of Mr. Trump’s political advisers and senior officials in the Republican Party.

But Mr. Trump himself has sent conflicting signals in recent days, as he has subjected his potential running mates to a final round of screening. Headdressed a rally in Indiana alongside Mr. Pence on Tuesday night and met privately with him several times.

A low-key man largely defined in public life by his Christian faith, Mr. Pence, 57, is seen as a cautious choice of running mate — a political partner who is unlikely to embarrass Mr. Trump, and who may help him shore up support among conservative voters still wary of his candidacy.

His staunch conservative views on certain social issues, like gay rights and abortion, may inject a new set of concerns into the general election debate that have been largely overlooked with Mr. Trump at the top of the Republican ticket.

Republicans on Capitol Hill reacted with a mixture of applause and relief to the news of Mr. Trump’s likely selection. Mr. Pence is viewed in Washington as a conventional politician with standard-issue conservative beliefs, including on some subjects where his policy instincts plainly conflict with Mr. Trump’s.

Pence has had differences with trump on some issues, including the Trans Pacific Partnership.

Mr. Pence has endorsed free trade agreements, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an Asian trade deal that Mr. Trump has described as a “rape” of the American economy. He voted for the Iraq war, which Trump has condemned, and last winter he denounced Mr. Trump’s call to ban all Muslim immigration into the United States.

It sounds like Pence is a conciliatory choice for Trump to try and get the Republicans a bit less worried about Trump as their candidate.

Are Republicans revolting?

It appears that the popularity of Donlad Trump in the US is a sign of Republicans revolting against the Grand Old Party stuck in the past, and against big Government and Washington, and against ‘political correctness’, and probably against many other things, a pent up rage against the machine finding a way out.

From The Atlantic:

The Great Republican Revolt

The GOP planned a dynastic restoration in 2016. Instead, it triggered an internal class war. Can the party reconcile the demands of its donors with the interests of its rank and file?

The angriest and most pessimistic people in America aren’t the hipster protesters who flitted in and out of Occupy Wall Street. They aren’t the hashtavists of #BlackLivesMatter. They aren’t the remnants of the American labor movement or the savvy young dreamers who confront politicians with their American accents and un-American legal status.

The angriest and most pessimistic people in America are the people we used to call Middle Americans. Middle-class and middle-aged; not rich and not poor; people who are irked when asked to press 1 for English, and who wonder how white male became an accusation rather than a description.

We get some of that here in New Zealand – both accusations and reactions.

White Middle Americans express heavy mistrust of every institution in American society: not only government, but corporations, unions, even the political party they typically vote for—the Republican Party of Romney, Ryan, and McConnell, which they despise as a sad crew of weaklings and sellouts. They are pissed off. And when Donald Trump came along, they were the people who told the pollsters, “That’s my guy.”

They aren’t necessarily superconservative. They often don’t think in ideological terms at all. But they do strongly feel that life in this country used to be better for people like them—and they want that older country back.

Funnily here in New Zealand anyway it’s also the far left that want their older country back too, the pre-neoliberal one.

You hear from people like them in many other democratic countries too. Across Europe, populist parties are delivering a message that combines defense of the welfare state with skepticism about immigration; that denounces the corruption of parliamentary democracy and also the risks of global capitalism. Some of these parties have a leftish flavor, like Italy’s Five Star Movement. Some are rooted to the right of center, like the U.K. Independence Party. Some descend from neofascists, like France’s National Front. Others trace their DNA to Communist parties, like Slovakia’s governing Direction–Social Democracy.

But we keep chugging away herewith one of the most popular Prime Ministers ever. John Key seems to be keeping his National fans happy-ish.

Except that the hate against Key also seems to be mounting.

But if the anti-ists find something that strikes a chord here amongst the masses, something far more meaningful to the non-political than trumped up and overblown asset sales or TPPA campaigns, could revolution also blow into the land of the long white cloud?

This year, they are counting for more. Their rebellion against the power of organized money has upended American politics in ways that may reverberate for a long time. To understand what may come next, we must first review the recent past.

Not so long ago, many observers worried that Americans had lost interest in politics. In his famous book Bowling Alone, published in 2000, the social scientist Robert Putnam bemoaned the collapse in American political participation during the second half of the 20th century. Putnam suggested that this trend would continue as the World War II generation gave way to disengaged Gen Xers.

Sounds similar to here, apart from some who are desperately willing the missing million to stand up at the polls and be counted.

Putnam was right that Americans were turning away from traditional sources of information. But that was because they were turning to new ones: first cable news channels and partisan political documentaries; then blogs and news aggregators like the Drudge Report and The Huffington Post; after that, and most decisively, social media.

Here in New Zealand at the moment Facebook is the hidden power. Can any party or political movement work out how to tap that potential?

Or is it a matter of chance, like Nek Minit?

I think there are significant differences between the US and us right now. Their right wing party is in turmoil while our right-ish wing party is enjoying ongoing strong support at up to double that of it’s main opposition.

But at some time a revolution may emerge out of social media, as The People get fed up and want something different.

It could happen gradually, or something could tip us over the edge and ‘easy does it’ suddenly becomes to hard too sustain.

Despite the frantic fulminating for revolution of a few hard core activists it doesn’t seem to be anywhere near imminent here.

But there could be a social media fuse waiting for a real reason to be lit.

Grand Orwellian Party

Has the ‘Grand Old Party’ in the US become a living Orwellian nightmare?

From Salon: The GOP has become the party from George Orwell’s nightmares – Between the nascent fascism and the preponderance of doublespeak, could it be any more clear?

It suggests that all the Republican presidential candidates blame criticism or challenges of controversial or offensive comments on political correctness.

In a recent column by Dana Milbank, the Washington Post columnist addresses what has become the ultimate straw man for Republican presidential candidates this year.

Ever since Donald Trump dodged Megyn Kelly’s question on his derogatory comments about women at the first debate with his declaration that “the big problem this country has is being politically correct,” political correctness has been the go-to boogeyman for the entire field of GOP candidates.

Whenever challenged on controversial or offensive comments, political correctness is to blame. Whenever the media fact-checks a statement, political correctness and that other boogeyman, “liberal media bias,” is to blame — and not their factually challenged statements.

Milbank:

“Once a pejorative term applied to liberals’ determination not to offend any ethnic or other identity group, it now is used lazily by some conservatives to label everything classified under “that with which I disagree.” GOP candidates are now using the “politically correct” label to shut down debate — exactly what conservatives complained politically correct liberals were doing in the first place.”

Salon:

When an entire field of candidates tend to thrive on bullshit (especially the current front-runners), it is not at all surprising that they have certain reliable terms that vilify critics of their bullshit and shut down debate.

The truth is, Republicans have long utilized a manipulative phraseology, full of euphemisms and doublespeak, used either to shut down criticism and debate, as shown above, or to acerbate the listener’s emotional state — think “baby parts” and “death panels” — or provide a positive light on something that is generally frowned upon. (Ergo: Tax-avoiding billionaires become “job-creators.”)

The GOP has become truly masterful at distorting political discussion through language, and at each Republican debate, just about every candidate showcases this manipulation.

In George Orwell’s classic essay on this subject, “Politics and the English Language,” he seems to describe modern Republicans to a tee, repeating the same tired, yet convenient phrases (the phrases have changed, of course).

Orwell wrote:

“When one watches some tired hack on the platform mechanically repeating the familiar phrases — bestial, atrocities, iron heel, bloodstained tyranny, free peoples of the world, stand shoulder to shoulder — one often has the curious feeling that one is not watching a live human being but some kind of dummy: a feeling which suddenly becomes stronger at moments when the light catches the speaker’s spectacles and turns them into blank discs which seem to have no eyes behind them. And this is not altogether fanciful. A speaker who uses that kind of phraseology has gone some distance towards turning himself into a machine.”

Salon:

Of course, the United States is still technically a “Democratic Republic,” and politicians must at the very least put on a show and act like they serve the people. Creating a new lingo used to purposely deceive the people, full of enough euphemisms and phrases to fill up a dictionary, has been quite beneficial.

Just to name a few of the most popular: “energy exploration” for oil drilling, “job-creators” for capitalists, “right to work” for anti-union laws, “trickle down economics” for tax cuts for the rich, “death tax” for an estate tax, “job-killing” for tax increases on the rich or corporations (or cracking down on corporate tax avoidance, for that matter), and so on.

The Republican Party has become the Orwellian party.

Is it any different here? It may be more of an opposition party thing than a right wing party thing. The Greens in particular have a well worn repertoire of phrases to promote their policies and guilt any opposition to them.

Here’s a few phrases off the Green news site:

  • Dirty Politics
  • the Government’s refusal to end child poverty
  • an additional 45,000 Kiwi kids have been forced into poverty
  • the Government’s continued underfunding of…
  • clean public transport
  • dirty diesel buses
  • economic growth fuelled by high migration rates is not sustainable
  • halt climate change
  • living wage

Anti-John Key phrases are also common amongst left wing political activists.

And if you challenge phrases or claims you are likely to be attacked – I’ve experienced this on Twitter and on a number of political blogs like The Standard and Public Address. And it’s not confined to the left, it also happens on Kiwiblog.

When it comes down to it, Donald Trump (who called Luntz a “low class slob” for supposedly picking “anti-Trump panels” after the infamous Fox News debate) has done us all a favor for being so blatantly dishonest. It is actually refreshing to see a Republican politician distort the truth without the usual duplicity.

Trump is a complete bullshit artist, but not in the usual mechanical way that we typically see from other politicians. Indeed, this is one of the qualities that has made him so popular (and unpopular), and his dishonesty has been contagious. Other GOP candidates have quickly jumped on the bullshit bandwagon, and as PolitiFact rulings reveal, the more dishonest the GOP candidate is, the more successful he or she becomes.

It was only a matter of time until the lies and distortions caught up with Republicans. The party has built its modern platform on deception, and has carefully crafted an entire phraseology to back it up. But there is no amount of spin that can make Trump look honest. And Trump is, after all, the new face of the GOP.

Did Orwell predict an inevitable evolution of politics?

Doublespeak has just been given a different name – spin.

And the challenging of ‘spin’ invites personal attack in attempts to shout down and shut up the holding to account of bullshit.

We have got to the stage where spin merchants seem to believe their own bull, perhaps because they repeat it so much. I’ve seen this across the spectrum, from National to NZ First to Labour to Greens. From Cameron Slater to Martyn Bradbury.

Within parties this has largely been brought about by the takeover of much of the political communication by ‘media advisers’ and PR consultants.

But while politicians seem to have become convinced that manufactured memes and puppet posturing are essential for them to maintain or gain power is it really successful in the long term?

The Greens have a slick PR machine and repeat and repeat and repeat their Clint lines, but their actual political successes have been very modest. Their growth in support seems to have stalled at a Green ceiling. Only so many people buy their bull.

Labour have been trying to defeat John Key by attacking his credibility for nearly a decade. They keep repeating the same approach hoping that one day it will suddenly work.

They seem to be betting on the public believing their bull and not seeing through their spin. But they were busted long ago.

Does anyone know whether Orwell predicted what would become of the deluge of doublespeak?

People tend to perceive political personalities and judge people more on body language than carefully crafted crap.

Perhaps the parties and politicians need to find advisers who are prepared to tell them that the emperor’s clothes have been spun by fiction.

Key keeps succeeding, warts and all, because to many people he sounds like he speaks his own words based on his own substantial knowledge, and isn’t a PR puppet.

The Grand Orwellian Party may be too entrenched in doublespeak to see their own deceit.

In New Zealand some of our politicians at least, those not based on a cloistered list like the Greens, get much closer to a range of real people and can see in their eyes that voters don’t buy the bullshit approach.

The Greens seem to be very frustrated with Key’s continued success and their own lack of traction. If they continue spinning the wheels of their bicycles that’s not likely to change.

Green Orwellian Party?