Wednesday, December 03, 2014


Bobbi and I went to see the movie, "The Theory of Everything", which is about Stephen Hawking and his wife Jane Wilde, as remarkable a woman as he was a brilliant cosmologist.  I recommend it as a movie more about a love story than one of those outlier thinkers that fascinate me so much.

Next on our list to see is "The Imitation Game", about Alan Turning during WWII.  He essentially broke the German enigma code by inventing a computer.  After saving his British Government and most of Europe they later arrested him for being gay.  One more silly progrom  against people that has nearly disappeared.  We do make progress, mostly.

These Outliers must live in a different world than us.  They come along once in a generation to really change the way we must view the natural world.  Physicists, Biologists, Economists, and other scientists have really made progress possible because of their powerful brains and curiosity.  I wonder what it is like to be inside that process in their heads.  Pure thinking.

So, the question is,  can we include anyone in the realm of political scientists as outliers.  Some exist I know.  Some would say Jefferson, others would say Marx.  I would think in American History that the Roosevelts were outliers.  But, since then we really haven't seen anyone of their stature ascend the world stage, have we?  We could sure use one of those types right now who has it all.  Charisma, compassion, progressive ideals and the means to make the population understand and embrace them.

But maybe that can't really happen anymore with the role that big money plays in leadership.  We can't go many more generations in this mode of operation.  Really.


New Mexican said...

Outlier: The Jim Baca word for the day is it?

1: a person whose residence and place of business are at a distance

2: something (as a geological feature) that is situated away from or classed differently from a main or related body

3: a statistical observation that is markedly different in value from the others of the sample

Jim Baca said...

more like outliers on the IQ scale.....on the high side that is.

Bubba Muntzer said...

That sums it up pretty precisely. The issue and the problem.

As much as I'd like it to be the case that, as the title of the great African American Marxist CLR James essay put it, "Every Cook Can Govern," they really can't, and it seems to be the case that a leader has to emerge. It might be a function of our species.

But leaders don't pop out of a vacuum or invent everything they implement. The conditions were right for their emergence. Franklin D Roosevelt (my namesake by the way) was able to do what he did because he had public sentiment behind him. There was a massive labor movement then, largely because there was a strong Socialist movement in the US - there were many local elected Socialists in the US then and the New Deal included many programs Socialists had come up with and were pushing, like Unemployment Insurance, Workman's Comp ad Social Security.

So there may be someone out there but the stars just aren't aligned yet. Meanwhile we can only keep agitating, blogging, fighting to save the internet, etc.

Incidentally, money does have a chokehold on politics but politicians still need our votes. The police and military are still under the control of politicians, not Sheldon Addleson or Bill Gates or some other modern royalty.

At the beginning of the election season Michelle Grisham apparently got wind that those big money guys were coming after her. I got a flurry of emails asking for money and promising to save Social Security and bla bla bla. The treat apparently disappeared because she went silent again and went back to doing what all our federal delegation does all the time, avoid controversy and say nothing that will piss off the big donors, and to hell with the people.

But if there was a slight shift, maybe ten percent, in public sentiment they'd have to respond to it. If Udall and Heinrich one morning woke up to a couple thousand emails demanding that they do something or if their houses were surrounded by screaming protestors for a couple weeks they'd have no choice but to do something.

Still, the starting point is realizing where we're at, which you have put your finger on.

Anonymous said...

Susana Martinez and Richard Berry, New Mexico Outliners!!!!!!

After I typed this I laughed so hard I had to catch my breath.

Anonymous said...

Jim: One thing you fail to take into account when you talk about "outliers": Running for office has gotten so nasty and so expensive to the extent that qualified and intelligent people do not and will not run for office and do not want to put themselves through the scrutiny and negativity.

Donald F Schiff said...

I think Jim is using the concept from Malcolm Gladwell's book, "Outliers." It's worth a read, along with everything else Gladwell has written.

Bubba Muntzer said...

I just read an article about what Democrats would have to do to win seats in the South again, where they have hit "rock bottom"

(one suggestion; don't try to be Republican Lite) and several politicians down there said that although many people believe Democratic policies are good for them the party lacks a vision that would appeal to the middle class, and it occurred to me that the kind of leader you talk about would supply that vision. In other words what goes for the masses also goes for people running for office. They would fall in line behind such a leader and the vision they put forth.

Bubba Muntzer said...

NY Mayor Bill De Blasio has written an article arguing the point another way, giving examples of Democrats who ran as progressives this year -- raising taxes on the rich, standing behind Obamacare, etc. -- who won easily.

Where candidates ran away from progressive values and lost, he blames the national Democratic committee:

"I’m not blaming the individual candidates here. The strategies they employed are largely the making of Washington insiders who force-feed message points on candidates under threat of being written off by their national party infrastructure."

By "written off" he is no doubt referring to them pulling money out of the race.

The national party is really messed up right now. In my most recent post on my blog I refer to a panel the national committee just set up to look into why Democrats did so bad in 2014 and to make recommendations for improving their messaging, that includes people like Erick Schmidt, the Google Empire chairman, who is worth $8 billion.

They will be looking for ways to cram more Reaganomics down our throat while diverting our attention with hot button social issues or meaningless gestures about the minimum wage.