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December 21, 2016


Thanks for this Sebastian. I appreciate your consistently candid, reasonable, and scrupulously fair-minded voice here. Your advice here is, I think, excellent. Please do not hesitate to call me out if you think I'm engaging in stupid and non-constructive partisan crap.

I think your fourth paragraph here is particularly apt. Trump is trafficking in a variety of generic (R) policy points, and he is also trafficking in truly disturbing and, to my knowledge, unprecedented positions and actions.

The first are worthwhile topics of debate. The latter are not.

We will, I hope, all do our best to try to keep the wheels on. I don't think there's a way to predict how it's all going to play out. We'll see what's left when all is said and done.

I guess seeing Trump as a not-normal Republican sort of depends on how much support he gets, or doesn't get, from the presumably normal Republicans who comprise the majority in both houses of Congress.

IOW: If they don't oppose him, he's a normal Republican.

I am a bit leery of the idea that Democrats need to go easy on the Republican Party just in case it might see the light and split from Trumpism. So far, the major Republican figures who I've seen actually doing this are in the single digits.

This sounds like a tactic for permanently killing any basically decent political party: attack them with a sort of two-pronged, good-cop/bad-cop routine, and then argue that in campaign rhetoric and advocacy they need to make extremely careful distinctions between the two cops on the dim hope that they're not actually in cahoots.

CaseyL, that is a good point. On some level our ability to directly influence them is limited. But our part of the dynamic needs to be to set the stage where it makes sense for them to see themselves as potentially still Republicans, but Republicans who won't go along with certain types of craziness.

That is a lot easier hurdle to jump than getting them to repudiate a big part of who they see themselves as being.

That might still happen, but because it is a bigger deal, it might come much later--perhaps too late.

If we frame opposition to Trump as 'You have to become a Democrat to do it' we will get people much further along in time and thinking than we will as 'We can disagree about partisan issues, but we need to save the Republic'. I'm not sure how much time we have, and I'm not willing to risk that it isn't very much time.

I can't guarantee outcomes.  Maybe we are already lost.  But if we aren't, we can't be unguarded in using political hyperbole anymore.  We have seriously dangerous things that we need to be able to talk about in scary terms.  We must not contribute to a dynamic which will help Trump survive under the normal tribal concepts. 

When you want to talk about regular political issues, you do not want to say things that suggest that Republicans are the same as Trump because when you want to talk about country shattering political issues you don't want the association to be strong.

This pretty much "What Sebastian said" to me.

From a (R) perspective it is impossible today to have any discussion of normal policy decisions because, well, the people I would be discussing it with lump everything together.

Also, there will be a honeymoon period that Trump has on the (R) side because right now the greatest threat to any R policy, person, Congressman or Senator is to be exposed to a cybercascade started by Trumps people.

So there will be some time before anyone other than the most senior Senators challenge him, publicly or even semi-privately.

This will wear off as people get tired of everyone being bad except him, but not if the other side doesn't start to make the distinction between a policy discussion(even ones that are not popular) and a dumbass stunt/idea/tweet/dangerous policy.

I really think the challenge will be to prevent him from unilaterally declaring a bunch of things through Executive Order, the limitations on that ship have also sailed.

And the recourse takes a long time.

Except that Republicans went scorched-earth on the Democrats, demonized them in every way as evil worshippers of the demon Obama and argued that you have to become a Republican to oppose him, and that worked incredibly well!

Excellent and valuable post, in my opinion. I do not think Sebastian exaggerates the danger one bit, and his prescription makes good sense. Pretty hard policy to coordinate, though, unfortunately.

Matt, I'm not asking that anyone go easy on the Republican Party. I'm saying we need to be clear on what is regular politics and what isn't. Erik's post was perfectly fine in attacking Kaisch on gun policy. If you disagree on a normal policy issue, feel free to attack it.

What isn't ok is to insinuate that because a Republican disagrees with you on a normal policy issue that it really doesn't matter that Trump is president instead of him.

If you bucket the highly irregular and dangerous things together with the typical policy disagreements, you risk having a lot of people treat them like regular policy disagreements--i.e. things that don't need to be paid attention to and that can just be voted on party lines.

I don't know. Trump being president is going to normalize a lot of fairly radical GOP policy proposals and the congress people pushing them that down the road the press may be all like "privatize Medicare? Why not, at least you're not Trump!"

Erik's post is an attempt, ISTM, to remind people that it's not like the GOP congressional leadership and assorted governors are a bunch of centrist moderates.

Let's talk about Republicans just for a minute.

Richard Nixon won, in part, by visiting Vietnam, and scuttling the Paris peace talks. [Lots of other things during his presidency ...] Then, he sought reelection by having his thugs burglarize the DNC offices. Then Ford, pardoning Nixon. Okay, whatever.

Jimmy Carter, with sweaters and hostages.

Ronald Reagan won, in part, by making a secret deal with Iran to trade arms for American hostages (hostages having made Jimmy Carter unpopular, along with his sweaters, and other environmental initiatives). During his office, the Iran Contra scandal occurred. Oliver North, fascist par excellence, ran for office in Virginia. He wasn't supported by nonfascist Republican John Warner (so +1 for nonfascist R's!). Then Bush I who was probably involved with Iran Contra, but whatever.

Clinton, extramarital sex, blah blah blah.

Bush II, wins with the help of the Supreme Court and his brother. Democracy in action. Disaster ensues, including not-just-controversial Iraq war, but torture. Torture? That's not US. But Cheney style politics begins, including teaparty Republicans. The country has a recession not seen since 1929.

Obama wins pretty easily. Has a scandal-free administration, and brings back the economy, including addressing wealth inequality for the first time in decades. By the time he leaves, we're back on our feet! Yay! But he has a Republican Congress for the last 6 years that largely blocks his agenda, including a Supreme Court appointment, which was basically a move in huge disdain of the Constitution.

Trump wins the electoral college with the help of Vladimir Putin and a partisan FBI. Hillary Clinton wins the popular vote by a substantial margin.

Okay, yes, Trump is acting like a dictator, because he has all three branches of government, and he can. Maybe other R's wouldn't have been so in your face about it? But, really? Their history is quite questionable. But sure, I'd rather have Kasich. At least he doesn't have massive conflicts of interests, and is not in thrall to a foreign government.

The fact that Evan McMullin rejected the whole thing? I think he's the real patriot among the R's, even though I don't agree with hardly any of his policy positions. I couldn't vote for him, but I'm definitely on his side during the coming war.

There's McMullin, and Lindsey Graham, and to some extent John McCain, over the Putin connection. The last two pleasantly surprise me, though it's consistent with McCain's longstanding Russia hawkery.

A lot of Republicans who got reputations as moderates are rolling over. My state's governor, Charlie Baker, refused to vote for Trump but last I heard was going "wait and see".

A lot of Republicans who were once the far-right conservatives are now being mentioned as the "reasonable" ones. Senator Beauregard J. Butchmeup is a prime example.

I'm sorry to disagree with Sebastian, but people who hold conservative principles and yet cannot bring themselves to abandon the party of He, Trump get no sympathy from me. History has shown over and over that the Democratic Party is willing to adopt, let alone just consider, conservative ideas -- much to the annoyance of some of us, I might add. Whatever "the Republican Party" may be in theory, it has become the Party of Trump in practice. It has fallen for a narcissistic proto-fascist con man after spending eight years in entirely un-principled opposition to Obama. Why would any sane person, with a principled preference for The Market over The Government, imagine that "the Republican Party" as it currently exists is either more congenial to his/her principles or more amenable to change from within than "the Democratic Party"?

Come on in, sensible conservatives. The Democratic water is fine. You're more likely to change the Democratic Party to your liking from within than you are the Republican Party at this point. After the Trump Rump of the GOP is crushed electorally, you are welcome to go back and take over whatever remains of "the Republican Party" and rebuild it as a party that competes for hearts and minds rather than sheer power. If and when that glad day comes, it will be a positive pleasure for a commie pinko Democrat like me to argue policy with you. Until it comes, policy arguments are beside the point.


Until it comes, policy arguments are beside the point.

That's kind of what I was thinking. With some exceptions, Trump's biggest shortcomings can't even be described as matters of policy. They're matters of personality and process. It's like describing a football team who takes the ball from the ref and spikes it in the end zone as having called "a play."

But, on the other hand, I think that's more or less Seb's point. We're not arguing over whether to run, pass or punt. We have someone who may well stab the opposing team's quarterback and shoot the refs if they throw a flag.

people who hold conservative principles and yet cannot bring themselves to abandon the party of He, Trump get no sympathy from me.

Tony, the issue is not whether they deserve your sympathy. Nor is it what they logically and reasonably (by your lights) should do.

Rather the question is what is going to be the most effective way to get them to support at least some of the things that you think should be done.

Regrettable as you may find it, tribal feelings are going to keep a significant number from leaving the Republican Party. So, do you just write them off? Or do you decide to exhibit some empathy, accept that they will support some things you want if you can refrain from giving in to your irritation at their failure to just change parties, and help them decide to do the right thing by working with them?

Let's start with a big 'Go Independent' drive and proceed from there ;-)

This is an excellent article on crowdsourcing journalism, which also offers very good advice to journalists in dealing with a Trump presidency:


First, as he notes, his technique was “a way to get around the blockade Trump puts up around himself, a way to spread questions far and wide.” That may be particularly important in covering a politician who denies access to media outlets whose reporting he finds objectionable.

Second, Fahrenthold advises, “Don't focus on what Trump says. Focus on the results of his actions. Stay in your lane and focus on one particular area.”

Apropos of my previous post, this Digby retrospective from 2015 described pretty the problem the media is going to have in holding Trump to account:


Trump is less like a traditional Republican candidate than he is like the missing Malaysian Airlines plane. He’s the kind of news event that CNN has, in the Zucker era, become best at covering — the news event that can fill the vacuum of endless cable time, with no details too small, no rehash too repetitive. Such stories require no secret political and culture language. Rather, you just keep the camera trained on what’s in front of you. Trump provides his own narrative and talking points. In this, Trump, beyond politics, offers new hope for the news business….

Wolff notes that this may be the first time in a couple of decades that we have a candidate who breaks down the media silos and reaches into the general viewing population. He hypothesizes that with politics polarized and the most engaged citizens dividing more neatly within the two parties and squeezing the political audience into a much smaller universe than ever before, perhaps this represents a sort of new “center” of millions of people who are drawn in by the drama. As he writes, everyone’s riveted to the show, asking each other:
“Will he self-destruct? And how? And who will he take with him? Or, even more astounding, will he go the distance and blow up everybody in his way? That’s news. That’s a story. That’s television.”

It is. And it’s possible that going forward it’s also politics, which is a much more scary proposition. For democracy to work, it requires at least a baseline level of rational understanding of what politics does. The Trump paradigm has no use for that.

The problem with "Go Independent" drives is that, as we saw with the Electoral College, the Democrats perpetrating them always seem to find them more attractive than the Republicans they're intended to hook.

I was reading a Q&A on Vox attempting to explain why Trump did so well among working class whites and the interviewee noted that given Trump's basic pitch it wasn't at all surprising that Trump did well in that demographic.

What was surprising was how well Trump did with better off GOPers. That is my thought as well - what, exactly, are those people thinking? My guess is that they figured they would get both a massive tax cut and a huge roll back of federal regulation of business, which, apparently, is all they care about and also probably what they will get (although perhaps if Trump starts a trade war, they might have second thoughts).

And look at the stock market - the Dow is at an all time high. Whee!

Also, I have to say that a lot of business executives seem to think that any regulation that stands in their way of making a profit is illegitimate. See, e.g., Uber in SF and elsewhere ("Uber has tended to barrel into new markets by flouting local laws"*), or the Volkswagen emissions cheating, or Goldman Sachs in lots of things (most recently), or Wells Fargo opening fraudulent accounts, the oil & gas companies forever.

The only way I can see that this stops is to put a number of these executives in prison. IIRC repeatedly, knowingly, and intentionally violating laws that carry only civil penalties is a criminal offense (or can be) and I'm not sure why it's not used more often. It will probably take a fundamental restructuring of corporate liability - as it is now, large corporations are so big and responsibility so diffuse that things like WF can occur and very few individuals (or none) can be held criminally responsible.

And in the meantime, one of the only avenues available to those wronged to hold big business accountable - litigation and class action - are preempted by horribly biased arbitration clauses (thanks to, essentially, an aside in a SCOTUS opinion some 20-25 years ago).


*the financial times: " The taxi company’s Regional Manager for the UK, Ireland & the Nordic Countries delivered a spirited defence of Uber’s unique, revolutionary, disruptive and socially liberating business model to a London employment tribunal, where judges decided it’s a taxi company."

ugh: ... the Dow is at an all time high. Whee!

One Drudge-reading Trump-supporting engineer I work with (the one I often greet with "Heil, Trump!") has been crowing as if:
a) the DJIA rose from 6,000 to 20,000 after Trump got elected; and
b) a 3-fold rise in the DJIA is the "white working class" dream.
What can you do with people like that?


Matt, the 'go independent' was mainly tongue-in-cheek. The main effect would be that those 'independents' would on election day vote as they would have voted in their old party and at least the GOP would see it as a plus to get rid of the 'impure' ones that could otherwise try to meddle by e.g. voting in primaries. From that POV they are the lumpenproletariat. And even parts of the Dem leadership would hope that it would be the actual liberals leaving instead of rocking the boat. On election day (or so they hope) those would have no other 'real' choice than to vote for the 'only electable' candidate chosen for them by the serious people.
It would only hurt the parties, if they had to rely on membership fees (as opposed to donations by 'interested' groups and individuals).

This is fine advice, so far as it goes, Sebastian. And I think I hear what you're saying, and can more or less get behind it: criticize, just don't demonize 'normal' Republican policy positions]. Save the demonization for Trump's really crazy, demonic stuff, so we can hope for a coalition of the sane to keep it in check.

But I do have a couple of quibbles with taking that TOO far.

One is that this again seems to hold Republicans to a very low standard. This is directed at Democrats and liberals, who are expected to be the adults. Republicans, on the other hand, we're supposed to treat with kid gloves, lest their tribalism is provoked into a flare up and they just indiscriminately circle the wagons around all the crazy. After all, we all know Republicans can't be expected to act sanely or rationally if their tribalism is provoked!

The really unfortunate thing is, this might not be wrong.

It's still awful that that is the low bar we're setting for Republican leaders though. A responsible political leader should normally be expected to oppose, say, starting a shooting war with China over some errant tweets, regardless of whether Democrats have been sufficiently soft on their efforts to, say, gut Medicare.

The other question is whether this is going to really be strategic for the D side. To a certain degree, linking things like Medicare cuts or global warming denial very firmly to Trump, rather than Republicans in general, could pay off very big. If and when Trump himself flames out spectacularly, playing that hand right could mean he also discredits the whole basket of bad policies on his way down.

The degree to which that should be done is an open question. Obviously, if it's a choice between that and a shooting war with China, I know what I'd pick.

But then, I'm an adult.

sapient's list of Republican triumphs omitted the fact that Reagan's people ensured (after secret negotiations with the Iranians) that the hostages would not be released til after Jimmy Carter's presidency ended, thus avoiding any possibility of Carter's re-election. I see to my surprise that this is called a conspiracy theory, but:

Nevertheless, several individuals—most notably former Iranian President Abulhassan Banisadr,[2] former Naval intelligence officer and National Security Council member Gary Sick; and former Reagan/Bush campaign and White House staffer Barbara Honegger—have stood by the allegation

However, as regards the main meat of Sebastian's proposal, and Dems' and progressives' understandable reluctance to go easy on Republicans at all, I think the way to think about it is this. If the US (or the earth) was threatened by hostile aliens, Rs and Ds would come together and cooperate to see off a massive outside threat, which would destroy everybody indiscriminately. After the threat is disposed of, the two sides would resume normal relations/hostilities. Sebastian's proposal, it seems to be, is not that one should reset one's attitude to Republicans and their policies, but that one should choose one's language, and one's battles tactically, to see off the larger threat.

Sebastian's proposal, it seems to be, is not that one should reset one's attitude to Republicans and their policies, but that one should choose one's language, and one's battles tactically, to see off the larger threat.


But it's still...weird that we should need to butter up Republicans to ensure this.

We're not just talking about coming together in the face of a common alien threat, we're talking about how if the Democrats talk even a little too harshly, the Republicans are going to up and go, "Waaaaah! You're such meanies, we're going to have to go side with the space monsters instead. You'll be sorry when the human race has been liquified!"

Loyalty to one's country (and one's planet!) over one's party ought to be something we could take for granted. It apparently isn't. (And probably hasn't been for a long time: the Iranian hostage thing is telling.)

It's also a question of framing the argument. For example, although Trump voters support expanding fossil fuel usage, they also strongly support expanding renewables:

When it comes to policy, Trump is an idiot, but he apparently understands mass communication at a gut level. Clinton simply didn't (which is one of the reasons Obama beat her).

Ugh: Those guys are all about the tax cuts and deregulation. Nothing else matters. They don't even really seem to care if it sparks a bubble that eventually collapses in another massive financial crisis. They can always blame it on the little people again and get bailed out.

Let's start with a big 'Go Independent' drive and proceed from there

Ah, but "independent" translates as "not part of a group." And, for a lot of people, belonging, specifically belonging to a group, is important. That's part of the reason for the tribalism that we keep talking about.

This is a bit odd, but I sort of agree partway with both sapient and Sebastian.

Corey Robin was making the case pre- election that Trump was in the mainstream of Republican positions over at Crooked Timber. This led to some truly strange arguments over there between Corey and Clinton supporters, people who would normally be pretty similar to Sapient. The anti- Corey Clinton supporters were saying that Trump was a whole new thing. Corey pointed to the sorts of things sapient mentioned.

I think it is going to be hard to distinguish between Trump's own special brand of loathsomeness and mainstream Republicanism. Take Islamophobia. Back in the days of that well known friend of Muslims George Dubya Bush, Islamophobia was waiting to burst out, but Bush took the correct moral stance. ( My fingers are really puzzled with me over what I made them type just now.). But Islamophobia has gotten more and more mainstream with Republican voters and also with people like Bill Maher. Dubya might be the one out of step here.

On the other hand I think we should be trying to reach at least some Republican politicians and voters. One thing we could do is acknowledge that some people voted for Trump with some serious reservations about him. In some cases the reservations are only about his personal life, but at least some saw him as the lesser evil and didn't like his nasty comments or hoped, odd as it might seem, that he would be less likely to plunge us into more Mideast wars. If he in fact seems likely to start a war with Iran or pokes China too hard some of his antiwar supporters ( yes, weird, but they exist) will turn against him. I read some of these people at the American Conservative and a couple of other places. They fall into various categories. But there are some possible allies even amongst Trump voters on some issues.

JL, I don't think it has to be about "treating Republicans with kid gloves." But just talking to them in terms that they understand, and making arguments that makes sense to them. Rather than using just the arguments that make sense to you (generic, not personal, "you").

Take ecological issues, for instance industrial scale logging. At the moment, if you make an argument based on science, and how people (especially people outside the US) will be hurt by global warming, you probably get nowhere. But suppose you put it in their terms? For example:

The Lord gave mankind stewardship over the earth. [insert citation from Genesis] A good steward doesn't trash the place that he is responsible for, does he? No, he does not. A good steward tries to make the place he is responsible flourish, and to leave it better than he found it. Look at a forest, and then look at the same space after it's been clear-cut. Does that look like good stewardship? No, it does not.

That makes the argument against that kind of logging. But it is in their terms, not "tree-hugger" terms about evil corporations - corporations which their "tribe" tells them are good. Which means that there is a chance that the message will actually get thru. And that, after all, is what you want.

Perhaps a different way to put it is, Do you want to get them to agree with your reasons? Or do you want them to get on board with the actions you think should be taken? And are you willing to give up the former in order to attain the latter?

wj - my reluctance to fall in with this idea is that I've never seen any evidence that the GOP is willing to "get on board" for less egregious actions regardless of how one frames one's argument. Look, for example, at the NC GOP, which offers some very good evidence that they're impenetrable, unreachable, and treacherous.

But just talking to them in terms that they understand, and making arguments that makes sense to them.

While I agree with trying to do this, I think it's a different point from the one Sebastian was making. The key word in Sebastian's post, in my mind, is "hyperbole." That's not so much a matter of convincing Republicans (in office) of anything so much as a matter of opposing "normal" bad policies differently than one would oppose Trump's utterly lunacy. Don't (accidentally?) treat them the same way rhetorically.

You are likely correct that the Republican party won't get on board. But getting the support of voters who normally support the GOP is a distinct possibility. And if you can get enough of them, you may get some Republican legislators to vote with you. Even though the party remains opposed.

Trump gives the Republicans a lot of cover for going all-in on building their Uncle Miltie (Friedman) dreampark. If it goes bad (as it likely will) they can always turn around and try to pin it all on Trump while the donors all pat them on the back for two years of extra windfall as the rest of us reap the populist whirlwind.

Yes, I fear Trump's agenda - whatever that is today - but I also fear what Ryan and Co. will try to slip through knowing how distracted Trump will keep everyone, and I fear the latter a little more than I do the former because the latter has staying power.

Perhaps a different way to put it is, Do you want to get them to agree with your reasons? Or do you want them to get on board with the actions you think should be taken? And are you willing to give up the former in order to attain the latter?

Or to put it another way, even though it might put some people on the other end of this accusation than they're used to being: do you want to let the perfect be the enemy of the good?

Going a bit astray of the topic, I also fear the what the free-market worshipers and privatization-fetishists will do, because it might appear to be working for long enough for them to gain an even better foothold on power in the midterms and possibly even 2020. They may be able to piss on everyone's head and tell them it's raining, and not enough people will get wise to it before everyone's soaked.

Don't (accidentally?) treat them the same way rhetorically.

You're right, hsh, that is what Sebastian was saying, but we've been developing the idea of how to stop "ordinary" Republicans from being forced (or forcing themselves) further into the deplorable category, because that's also going to be necessary for harm minimisation, if it can be achieved.

But do not, even as a point of regular political hyperbole, insinuate that being under President Kaisch would lead to about the same outcome as being under Trump.

I understand this point, and agree that it would not be the same, but I don't quite get how the objective or tactics should change.

Much of what I fear from Trump is standard Republican policy, which I oppose. On top of that I fear his lunacy and corruption. So what do I try to get Republicans to do, and how do I do that?

Impeachment for lunacy is one thing, I guess, but that's a long shot. Challenging him in the 2020 primaries is another, but who knows if he will even run. We could say, "oppose his agenda," but on many topics it's standard GOP stuff, so you are asking Republicans to oppose their own preferred policies on the grounds that Trump likes them.

So what to do?

Which means that there is a chance that the message will actually get thru. And that, after all, is what you want.

I think if I tried to make religious arguments they would come off as insincere and condescending. And to a degree they would be.

But like hsh, I'm not reading this as a call to somehow suddenly come up with arguments or messages that will actually reach Republicans after all these years.

Rather, it's about opposing "normal" things in the normal way. So as Ryan works to trash Medicare over the coming months, we can point out that that will literally kill people, as per usual, and maybe even call him a dead eyed granny killer, as per usual. But we should stop short of labeling him a Trump licking wannabe Nazi or whatever.

That way, if/when the time comes for Ryan to stand up and say something like, "no, I'm sorry Mr President, but the Congress will NOT be authorizing the funds for your gas chamber/crematorium complex in Indiana," he might actually feel like standing up and saying it, rather than sitting it out because of "tribalism".

I'm not, unfortunately, actually disagreeing with this logic. It's probably a good idea so far as we can pull it off (which is only so far - somebody is still going to call Ryan mean names somewhere).

I'm just pointing out that I think we can all agree that there's a certain...inequality in the calculus of moral responsibility here.

lack lecou, I fully agree on the religious argument problem as far as sincerity is concerned. But I fear this is just one part of the problem. There has been a culture war on that inside the evangelical movement for some time and the guys arguing good stewardship get (until now) steamrolled by the neo-James-Wattistas using every dirty trick in the book (and lots of dirty dark money). That well has been very deliberately and successfully poisoned.

I'm not afraid.

We are smarter, richer and more numerous than they are.

13,000 at Standing Rock in Winter to shut down the pipeline.

How many will be in DC or NYC this summer after some random Trump provocation?

13,000 at Standing Rock in Winter to shut down the pipeline.

Yes: while Obama is still in office.

What do you think would have happened if Trump had been in office?

My guess is he'd call out the nearest troops with orders to fire live ammo into crowd. There would have been a bloodbath. And the GOP would have applauded.

As US Grant might have said: "Oh, I am heartily tired of hearing about what Trump is going to do. Some of you always seem to think he is suddenly going to turn a double somersault, and land in our rear and on both of our flanks at the same time. Go back to your command, and try to think what we are going to do ourselves, instead of what Trump is going to do."

Again, we are smarter, richer, and more numerous. We need to make him afraid.

Turn out in public when you can. The odds are against Trump. Shooting peaceful demonstrators will end him.

I haven't read all the comments, but expanding my own a bit, the problem is that the scariest Trump policies aren't necessarily the ones that are unique to Trump. Global warming for instance-- denial seems to have become the Republican position. On Iran, he seems very militaristic, but so do other Republicans. If anything, Trump's fondness for Putin is a complication for warmongers, as we are supposed to be fighting against a Hezbollah- Syria- Iran- Russia axis in the Mideast and Trump seems confused about what the political line is supposed to be.

Picking a fight with China might be the scariest short term policy Trump seems inclined to pursue. It would be good to know where that comes from. The Ian Welsh piece I linked recently said it was maybe part of a negotiating strategy. If so, it seems like a really stupid one.

Kissinger has been making nice noises about Trump. I don't know what game he is playing.


The backfire effect paper I linked to said you try to appeal to people on issues by not challenging their basic view of the world. Easier said then done.

I don't know what game he is playing.

The verging on senility game.

When I read taht TRump was thinking of appointing Romney to something, I thought, "Good! At last a nomination that isn;t flat out anti-America!'

In other words, I realize that refusing to accpet Trump as normal is not he same thing as automatically going straight o hyberbole on all Republicans.

But any discussion of normal Republican actions gets apocalyptic pretty fast, even if one sticks to jus the facts and uses a calm tone of voice.

For example, voter suppression. How can tgaht be seen as anything other than an attack on the foundation of representative government? Yet voter suppression is a mainstream Republican idea.

Trump is actually better than mainstream Republicans on one or two issues.

13,000 at Standing Rock in Winter to shut down the pipeline.

Will they come back in February?

It's a bit early to worry about that just yet, but if everything is an existential crisis, it'll only speed us towards the point where compassion fatigue becomes an issue.


I repeat my invitation: come on over to the Democratic tribe, for now at least. What's stopping you? The hope that, by working from within, you can make the Republican tribe saner or more principled? Seriously?

Aside from loyalty (I won't call it "tribalism") what's the basis of your attachment to today's GOP? What part of its agenda or world-view is so appealing to you, relative to the corresponding Democratic agenda or world-view, that you're willing to stick with the party of Ryan and McConnell, not to mention Trump?

Remember: parties are about power. To be a Republican in Congress means, operationally, that you vote for Ryan for Speaker or McConnell for Majority Leader. A Republican Congressman or Senator may be downright liberal, but if he or she votes for Ryan or McConnell to control the agenda -- to decide what questions even get a vote -- then that legislator is merely pissing into the wind. To be a Republican voter means, operationally, that you sign a voter registration form to that effect and (in states like MA) lock yourself into voting in the GOP but NOT the Dem primary. Ideology is not what party affiliation is about; power is.

At this moment in history, which party do you really want to be in power?


I guess I take a non-binary view. I remain, in my mind and in formal registration, a Republican. Since California uses a "top two" primary system, my registration only impacts my options in the Presidential primary. I can and do vote for Democrats when they seem to me to be the preferable choice. (And sometimes, I admit, for third party candidates, if the two major party candidates are both unacceptable.)

Is my refusal to simply surrender my party to the lunatics quixotic? And futile? I sometimes suspect so. But the country needs two parties capable of governing . . . and the odds of returning the GOP to sanity look at least as good as the odds of any of the visible third parties becoming capable. As I have mentioned, I'm increasingly seeing sensible people running as Republicans for local and state office. So perhaps not a totally hopeless exercise.

And I don't really see what becoming a Democrat would do for me. Besides, I expect, further increasing the 2-3 emails per day that I already get from the DNC. Who needs that?

I don't know what game he [Kissinger] is playing.

The verging on senility game.

Actually, it's the old "sucking up to power game" that Kissinger has played ever since he was a professor at Harvard with ambitions to make it in the Real World[tm]. He just oozes the "I'm-so-brilliant-I-can-recognize-the-brilliance-in-you" vibe that he perfected in the Nixon Era. Bright enough, but without any principle except self-advancement. Ever.

Bright enough, but without any principle except self-advancement. Ever.

He'll get along great with Trump. They have the same thing-that-passes-for-an-ethos.

I doubt that your personal and temperamental aversion to hyperbole is any more a political strategy than the easy hysteria with which so many tribal Democrats have greeted the advent of the Donald. Your idea -- to keep one's powder dry in order to preserve the option to mobilize a herd of mythical moderate Republicans -- is frighteningly reticent of Hillary's failed electoral strategy.
The fundamental problem with hyperbole is the same as the problem with normalizing: both have been employed step-by-step to get us to the point where "we" (the leftish elements) are powerless and disoriented, where there is effectively no left left. The hyperbole being used to attack Trump misfires because it is transparently insincere and grounded on no considered left critique or commitment. The whole of the Clinton campaign consisted of exactly the hyperbole you complain of, all of it oriented not by a sincere and intelligent assessment of the problems of the world and the country, but by an imperative to normalize the amoral incompetence and inability to learn from consequences that has characterized the political establishment for a generation.
You say Trump will take us into international crisis because he refuses to take a daily intelligence briefing from the surveillance agencies of the Deep State. Really? How has that been working out, that daily brief? The CIA chief has been calling the legitimacy of the election into question but offering no evidence beyond his own say-so and no mechanism beyond accurate documentation of the Clinton campaign's cynical manipulations of Party and press -- you don't think that might be construed as an attack on the Constitutional order? Because that is what it is.
And, you say dismantling Obamacare or frustrating campaigns to increase the minimum wage are just normal Republican politics. What they are is normal plutocratic politics. The U.S. has become a plutocratic oligarchy, a government for billionaires, by billionaires and their lackeys, and now of billionaires. We got here because both Parties served the plutocracy unswervingly. While mainstream pundits repeated forty year old cliches about the politics of an excluded middle, we got a politics of an excluded left. Obama and the Clintons set this up, set up this triumph of the plutocrats, destroyed the Democratic Party as a vehicle for either populist or socialist politics, or even for effective liberal criticism of the status quo.

What is wrong with Erik Loomis is that he cannot see that Scott Lemieux has always been a malignant fool. But he is right about the nature of the Republican Party.

We are powerless. That is the Big Picture. Left-Liberals and social democrats need to own up to their role in empowering the plutocracy by supporting the likes of Hillary Clinton. We cannot cry wolf now about corruption, about government by Goldman Sachs, about military adventurism or wring our hands over inequality, because we (not me personally) just got thru campaigning for a different brand of all that stuff. We rode "lesser evil" in this direction and -- surprise! -- we arrived where we were headed.
The good news such as it is that politics has big ups and downs. Trump got here because he was able in his addled stream of consciousness to utter occasional truths that had been normalized out of the mainstream political discourse. Truths such as that (Clinton-Bush-Obama) trade and economic policy had devastated the midwest or that U.S. mideast policy had created ISIS. Truths that ought to be coming from the left, but cannot because we are too busy defending the Rube Goldberg giveaway to for-profit insurance companies and Big Pharma that was Obamacare.
I would not worry about hyperbole/normalizing as much as I would recovering the ability to speak the truth, lost to various accommodations to the plutocracy. Hyperbole/normalizing belongs to the fake news world of Facebook hysteria, twitterstorms and the New York Times / Washington Post / Politico.
Tell the truth. Think critically. And, do not support any politician bought for you; pay for your own politics and stop ordering off the menu. Admit your powerlessness, but hold onto your critical capacity for independent thought. Politics is a team sport, but if the left and center is to have a team -- and we do not, as a matter of fact, right now -- it will have to oppose the plutocracy on every damn issue, from the authoritarian deep state to the minimum wage. Not with rhetorical hysteria or misplaced normalizing but with intelligent commitment to the interests of the non-plutocrats.

Trump will fail. That is a political certainty -- every politician fails sooner or later or just dies. If he is replaced by another plutocrat . . . that will be another failure of the putative left, even if we elect her.

The fundamental problem with hyperbole is the same as the problem with normalizing: both have been employed step-by-step to get us to the point where "we" (the leftish elements) are powerless and disoriented...

Actually, no.

What got you to this point is real simple. In 2010, Republicans, especially very conservative Republicans, made a great effort to win legislative seats at the state level. Democrats (apparently) did not.

The result was that the Republicans controlled redistricting. Which let them control Congress for the last few years . . . even when Democrats got more total (nationwide) popular votes for Congressional seats. Not to mention controlling voter registration and voting rules.

Want to stop feeling (and being) powerless? Get out there in 2018 and 2020 and work at the state level. Otherwise, you are going to be stuck for the foreseeable future.

bruce wilder, I don't know who you are, but criticizing "plutocrats" when by that you mean Democrats? Your train has derailed.

ws, actually yes.

Yeah, apparently Obama tasked Tim Kaine as a part-time DNC chair to dismantle the 50-state strategy and his own Organizing for America campaign apparatus. Combined with the policy shortcomings of the Democratic Administration and Democratic Congress, the Dems managed historic losses on a record budget. No one was to blame of course. Tim Kaine became Clinton's V-P. And, as documented in the disclosed DNC emails (Damn those russkies confusing us with documented facts!) Clinton bypassed the campaign finance laws to drain funds from state Parties and prevent the Dems from regaining the Senate, while the Steve Israel's and Wasserman-Schultz's busied themselves recruiting reactionary candidates.

If you let the plutocrats finance your politics, this is the Democratic Party you get . . .

Yeah, apparently Obama tasked Tim Kaine as a part-time DNC chair to dismantle the 50-state strategy and his own Organizing for America campaign apparatus.

Link for this conspiracy theory? And you were involved in the Democratic party how?

And by the way, Bruce Wilder, you live where? And are involved in what local Democratic party?

If you let the plutocrats finance your politics ...

you have enough money to have a campaign!!!

If you let Putin finance your campaign, don't ever reveal your tax returns! Somebody might notice!

And you were involved in the Democratic party how?

And by the way, Bruce Wilder, you live where? And are involved in what local Democratic party?

What do these questions have to do with the quality or truth of what Bruce Wilder wrote?

The issue I have is that, if Seb's post were a PSA about the importance of brushing one's teeth, Bruce's comment would be a PSA about eating properly, exercising sufficiently, and getting enough sleep. I'm not really seeing the conflict, and agree with both to some degree.

Bruce makes some points that are difficult to take, but not that I could disagree with much, even if I still strongly perferred Clinton to Trump within the landscape as it was.

...and if you don't actually "campaign" with that money, you'll never have to repay all the favors you owe (but don't really owe - but you still owe) since you'll lose, and then it's money for nothing!

Except your party will still feel obligated to accommodate the whims of the large donor class, so it's compromising your principles for nothing. Assuming your principles weren't already aligned with the plutocrats, which those of most of the Democratic apparatchiks already are.

Also, what hsh said, and how.

If you don't like government by and for plutocrats (and I'm not fond of it myself), how about something like a plan for getting from where we are today to something better. A practical and feasible plan, not just rhetoric about how voters should do the right (by your lights) thing. What specific steps would be needed to make it happen? (A little something on what would constitute "better" would be of interest. But is peripheral to the core question.)

Until and unless you have an action plan, you've got nothing. Or at least, nothing more than a guy bitching about today's weather.

Today's weather was fine, thanks. No promises about tomorrow.

What wj said.

At least Bernie gave it a shot, and should a similar effort be made at state level ...

A plutocrat is someone whose power come from the fact that they are wealthy. Does/did Hilary's 'power' come from the fact that she is wealthy? I don't think so. I do think that there is something to the pop psychology that the Clinton's as a couple felt the inordinate need to make sure they were financially secure, but I'm not sure that is such a horrific sin. Sebastian was complaining about Hillary getting big speech fees, but someone countered that what she made was actually peanuts compared to others.

I do agree that there is a big problem with plutocracy and the influence of wealth in politics, but it seems like it's not something confined to politics, it is something general to the US and it is going to be really hard to change it given current trends. However, the unrelenting focus on plutocracy tends to give a short shrift to other aspects of liberalism, which is why Sanders was his own way a very divisive candidate. I've not a f**king clue what the answer is, but I don't think that making plutocrats to be (to quote Douglas Adams) the "bunch of mindless jerks who'll be the first against the wall when the revolution comes." is going to get us to where we want to be, however satisfying it might feel.

What do these questions have to do with the quality or truth of what Bruce Wilder wrote?

It has to do with the extent of involvement he has with the Democratic party. I just love how people (and he may or may not be one of them) who have never tried to get person nominated, funded, and then elected, complain about how Democratic candidates get money from wealthy donors.

Bernie was an anomaly and, although he did surprisingly well, let's remember that he didn't get enough votes to be nominated. (And we really never learned all that much about his finances or his sketchy past).

sapient, that doesn't actually effect the truth of what was said either. "Doesn't he realize how you have to operate in the system as it stands?" is a meaningless rebuttal to a criticism of how the system currently stands. Likewise your invocation of the primary's outcome. If the validity of the current structure of the process itself is being questioned, pointing to things that are caused by that structure is both beside the point and a bit patronizing; its underlying premise is that change is not possible, and indeed, should not even be contemplated. It's a red herring, not a response.

that doesn't actually effect the truth of what was said either. "Doesn't he realize how you have to operate in the system as it stands?" is a meaningless rebuttal to a criticism of how the system currently stands.

Why do you think that I was, with my comment, trying to "effect the truth" whatever it is you mean by that? Calling a person a "plutocrat" isn't a criticism of the system, and does nothing to improve it.

For the non-plutocrats among us, the most accessible levers are probably going to be state and local elections and maybe House seats.

Which can still be pretty good levers.

Direct action and/or acts of civil disobedience are also always options, but they are *generally* (not always) of symbolic value.

bruce: Truths such as that (Clinton-Bush-Obama) trade and economic policy had devastated the midwest or that U.S. mideast policy had created ISIS.


First off, even if "the midwest" has been "devastated", it takes some determined, Trump-class squinting to see Clinton, Bush, and Obama in the same light. "Trade and economic policy" is a handy catch-all like "WMD", but trade policy and economic policy are different things. You can have open trade AND a policy on taxes, spending, and regulation that 'compensates the losers' -- if you can get it past a Republican congress, and the "losers" are willing to accept the compensation instead of preferring to have their grievance.

Second, WHICH "mideast policy" was it that "created ISIS"? Was it the failure to continue occupying Iraq? Was it the failure to tell the religious fanatics in Riyadh to fnck off? Or to tell the same to the religious fanatics in Jerusalem? Or to bomb-bomb-bomb, bomb-bomb Iran? Or what?

He, Trump peddled these "truths" with some success, but about 3 million more Americans rejected them than fell for them. It will be interesting to compare notes in a year or two with the they're-all-the-same-so-let's-give-the-demagogue-a-chance crowd.


A plutocrat is someone whose power come from the fact that they are wealthy. Does/did Hilary's 'power' come from the fact that she is wealthy? I don't think so.

The US government is a representative system. Plutocrats can either hold the reins of power themselves, or they can have representatives beholden to them and their interests do so. A "representative plutocracy" is still a plutocracy.

Sebastian was complaining about Hillary getting big speech fees, but someone countered that what she made was actually peanuts compared to others.

Yup, merely more in an hour than what 95% of households in the country make in a year is plainly not a sign of extravagant wealth. It's peanuts.


Why do you think that I was, with my comment, trying to "effect the truth" whatever it is you mean by that?

Pedantry time. But you're literally asking for it.

What I mean by that is that you weren't addressing the content of the comment (and yes, there was actually content), you were setting up an indirect argument from authority to dismiss the comment out of hand by rejecting the author as lacking sufficient credibility. "If you can't prove that you can do it better yourself, STFU" is not a rebuttal of anything; if I'm trying to put a basketball through a hoop, it doesn't matter if Stephen Hawking or LeBron James is the one who tells me I need to stop trying to kick it from under the opposite hoop - and the truth value of a statement that I should instead use my tongue to propel it doesn't change if it's Mr. James who states it. As you certainly know. Like I said, pedantry.

NV, you ruin pedantry for everyone.

Aw, thanks, count!

Pedantrywise, aren't we getting mixed up here between "affect the truth" and "effect the truth"(in reality the meaning of the latter is hard to discern)?

What do these questions have to do with the quality or truth of what Bruce Wilder wrote?

It has to do with the extent of involvement he has with the Democratic party. I just love how people (and he may or may not be one of them) who have never tried to get person nominated, funded, and then elected, complain about how Democratic candidates get money from wealthy donors.

What color is your shirt?


What color is your shirt?


Not every response in a conversation is about the "quality or truth" of someone else's comment. If you believe that people can point fingers and say "plutocrat" and that makes the system better, that's okay with me. I don't agree with you.

People who actually have been committed to working (beginning at the party level) to get a candidate elected have the authority and experience to comment on "the system". Most of those people (among Democrats, anyway) would be quick to agree that money distorts politics. They have worked to get more appointees (like Kagan, Sotomayor, Ginsburg and Breyer, all appointed by the "plutocrat system" btw) who would have overturned opinions like Citizens United. Those who point fingers at "plutocrats" have done squat.

By the way, what color is your hairshirt, hairshirt?

i like this: https://thinkprogress.org/rev-barber-moral-change-1ad2776df7c#

That is beautiful, russell. I love Reverend Barber. His speech at the Democratic Convention was monumental. By the way, Tim Kaine, who was maligned earlier in this thread, is a social gospel reconstructionist.

I'm going to look for what's happening in my town on New Year's, although my annual New Year's party is well attended by people who might be interested in seeing the live streamed National Watch Night Service.

Thanks, russell.

That is a nice sermon Russell. But if there is one weakness in todays progressive movement it lies here:

We can’t succumb to those who bought Christianity. Nor can we yield the moral high ground because we’re angry with them. Deep religious and moral values have been the backbone of every great progressive movement; prophetic imagination must come before we see political implementation. When the social gospel looked at children dying from child labor and people dying without labor rights and people in slums and poverty and not having a minimum wage and they asked, “What would Jesus do?”

The modern progressive movement regularly mocks the very religious and moral underpinnings of the movement he stands for and is then confused why the people that believe in these institutions aren't rallying with them.

Surely this may not apply to any one individual, as there are many deeply religious progressives, but as a matter of course there is lots of religious ground ceded to the Right in the name of the big tent.

Yeah, and I hear that there was a SJW in Judea around 2000 years ago that the Conservatives mock regularly also, too.

But that doesn't matter, because he was a dusky radical Palestinian socialist, or something.

“What would Jesus do?”

Well, anything he can if he makes it across the border.

Yup, merely more in an hour than what 95% of households in the country make in a year is plainly not a sign of extravagant wealth. It's peanuts.

It's not (a sign of extravagant wealth), unfortunately. It reminds me of when (I think) John Scalzi's list of things that the poor have to deal with and then having people overrun the comments saying 'ha! You think that is poor? There are people in 3rd world countries who would be happy to have a life" When the main thrust of an argument sounds like the 4 Yorkshiremen, I think some nuance lost.

J.P. Morgan was a plutocrat; Warren Buffett is close enough to one.

J.D. Rockefeller was a plutocrat, though not exactly in the Morgan-Buffett mold; more in the Henry Ford or Bill Gates mold.

Bill and Hillary Clinton are super-well-paid workers, like Beyonce or A-Rod. When they have amassed enough wealth (plutos) to control a large segment of the economy, THEN they will be plutocrats.

It's fair to knock them as beholden to plutocrats in campaigning, or solicitous of plutocrats in governance. It is nevertheless ridiculous to even suggest that He, Trump and his Billionaires-And-Generals-Administration will be better on that score.

It is also somewhat utopian to assert that Bernie (who I voted for in the primary) could have made the plutocrats buckle at the knees all by his lonesome. Had "working class blacks" picked Bernie over Hillary, as "working class whites" picked He, Trump over ... everybody, the likeliest outcome would still have been a Republican president-elect because the American electorate has a hard time kicking the habit of alternating between 2-term presidents of opposite parties.


Tony P @ 11:27 am

You said: "You can have open trade AND a policy on taxes, spending, and regulation that 'compensates the losers' -- if you can get it past a Republican congress, and the "losers" are willing to accept the compensation instead of preferring to have their grievance."

That would be the neoclassical orthodoxy of good neoliberal economic policy which conveniently nests inside the political dynamic you mention. Ordinary folk might call it "bait and switch". (Hat tip to Rich Pulchalsky)

Tim Duy had a useful response to Krugman playing neoliberal asshole the other day. I do not agree with Duy's bottom line helplessness, but he has covered some of the highlights that are important.

I do not agree with Tim Duy's bottom-line helplessness stance going forward, but in contrast to Krugman, he at least acknowledges the large role played by discretionary policy favorable to financialization.

You can invest a lot in sussing minor differences between the neoliberal good cop Dems and the neoliberal bad cop Reps, and ditto for the Bush II neoconservatives vs the Clinton II neoconservatives. The bottom line is that they are playing good cop bad cop and we are the mugs.

The Clintons play for Team Plutocrat in the Plutocrats' league. Call them whatever you like.

I'm having one of those moments where I think I watching two people who largely agree with each other argue as though they don't, each responding to things the other hasn't actually written.

Frex: I don't get the impression that bruce wilder is all that pleased with the election of Trump to the presidency, nor do I think Tony P. is any sort of neoliberal.

But let's see where this all goes, if anywhere at all.

By the way, what color is your hairshirt, hairshirt?

Dried blood.

I think it is a sign of how successful rightwing hatemongering toward the Clintons has been that even people who are not righwingers repeat the rightiwng lines about them being elites and corporatists and pro-status quo and so on. Clinton is a moderate from a modest background, self-made to reasonable amounts of wealth, though not in the top league at all, with along history of concern for populist issues and an unfortunate tendency to compromise when she shouldn't. NOt my favorite politicians but by no means the sell out to corporate power that the republicans have portrayed her as being (to disguise their own agenda and to divide and conquer the rest of us).

The modern progressive movement regularly mocks the very religious and moral underpinnings of the movement he stands for

The "modern progressive movement" is not one single thing, and includes people who are suspicious of and even hostile to religious faith, and also people who embrace it.

I know lots of folks in both categories, and don't know a single person who mocks Barber's work or the work of the Moral Mondays folks.

Maybe it's something else that is being held up to ridicule. rightly or wrongly.

NOt my favorite politicians but by no means the sell out to corporate power that the republicans have portrayed her as being

What (R) politician has the standing to criticize anyone for being a shill for corporate power?

Tim Duy's piece is him raging at what happened in the 80's and 90's along with a dose of the Chinese are coming and claiming that it was the fault of neo-liberalism. While there is some truth to that, it depends on knowing what the future was going to bring, which I don't think anyone did. Duy writes:

Sometime during the Clinton Administration, it was decided that an economically strong China was good for both the globe and the U.S. Fair enough. To enable that outcome, U.S. policy deliberately sacrificed manufacturing workers on the theory that a.) the marginal global benefit from the job gain to a Chinese worker exceeded the marginal global cost from a lost US manufacturing job, b.) the U.S. was shifting toward a service sector economy anyway and needed to reposition its workforce accordingly and c.) the transition costs of shifting workers across sectors in the U.S. were minimal.

Go back to the beginning of that. Who would, during that time, want an economically weak China? Setting aside concerns about Chinese people, every company that sold anything on a global scale wanted access to that market. Tienamen Square was 1989, Western nations were trying to figure out how to avoid a total meltdown. Sure, most favored trade status and accession to the WTO were carrots. But there were (and are) no sticks.

You can tell Duy is going off the rails when he brings up the ophoid epidemic and intones
The latest causalities in the opioid epidemic are newborns.

The transition costs were not minimal.

When you want to blame Bill Clinton and feckless Dems from the 80s for the opioid epidemic, failing to take into account the problems with healthcare (which push opioids on low income patients), racist drug laws (which use punishment rather than rehabilitation) and Big Pharma (which have traditionally supported Republicans, not Democrats), you are really stretching.

I point this out while agreeing with hsh's observation that it seems like straining at trying to find reasons to yell at each other. The temptation is to try and reduce things to a single cause, in this case, the decision to play nice with China in the 90's. Even if it could be reduced to that, you have to acknowledge that it wasn't simply Clinton, or Dems in the US, but the whole world's fault. When it is the whole world's fault, you have to wonder if there might be something more to it than finding someone to blame.

It wasn't the whole world's fault that mainstream Republicans and a great many Democrats turned their backs on the inevitable victims of the so called free trade agreements. The 90's was the era when Tom Friedman was treated by the DLC types as the voice of reason for babbling on about the golden straitjacket and agreeing with Thatcher that there was no alternative. The same textbook economics that said that free trade was a net good also said there would be losers in the US, but theoretically that didn't matter because the net gains could be used to make everyone better off. Opponents were treated as Luddites. And there were opponents, including in the chattering classes and even in the economics profession, but they were ridiculed or ignored. The upper middle class Democrats for the most part went along with this. So no, it wasn't the whole world. As a rough approximation the same batch who thought the Iraq War was a good idea and ridiculed dissenters also mocked or ignored the silly people who said globalization had a down side. People who echo the views which prevail amongst the people who matter have a built in protection against being held to account for their mistakes.

WHICH "mideast policy" was it that "created ISIS"?

Iraq, Libya and Syria

The same textbook economics that said that free trade was a net good also said there would be losers in the US, but theoretically that didn't matter because the net gains could be used to make everyone better off.

But by the end of the Clinton administration, it did look good, and the problems that were evident could have been solved with more years of Democratic control, particularly a Democratic Congress rather than the one that Bill Clinton had. It didn't help that Bush II and the kleptocrat Cheney arrived.

What the American people don't seem to get is that we have to have a sustained period of liberal government (not just two years of a President and Congress working together at a time) for policies to be implemented, and tweaked.

We'll see how Donald Trump's anti-free-trade policies work out. They're not much different than what Bernie was selling.

Interesting charts here. Those evil plutocratic Democrats!

I'm not sure what precisely was going down between Krugman (the person Bruce Wilder thinks stands for neoliberalism) and Tom Friedman during the 90's, but I'm a bit surprised they would have been in the same boat

I suppose one could say that Thatcher was in the 90's, but she was ousted in Nov of 1990. I didn't follow Friedman closely, so perhaps he was carrying the banner of Thatcherism through the 90's, and you can argue that Thatcherism is the bones of New Labour, but that seems like a leap. Friedman also talked about Brazilification, which he swiped from Douglas Coupland, talking about how the middle class disappears in the face of rising income inequality, which seems pretty prescient.

Yes, there were people who said silly things about globalization, but I'm not sure what the alternative would have been. If the people who took globalization forward hadn't done it, I pretty sure that another group of people would have. Unfortunately, a lot of globalization took place as many of the oversight aspects of government were being removed, which I don't think you can blame on Democrats. Krugman has certainly advocated for more structural spendingas have other Democrats, not to mention protecting Social Security (remember that lockbox?) and Medicare, and it wasn't Dems that repealed Glass-Stegall.

Needless to say, my perspective on globalization is a bit different than most. I wouldn't be sitting in front of a largish monitor in Southern Japan communicating with people all over the world, I don't think I would have met my wife and had a family, or had the life I had. Maybe it would have been just as good, I don't know. And I certainly realize that there are a lot of downsides to all this, but those downsides seem to result from an almost exclusive focus on shareholder value and the exploitive practices to get that value. The answer isn't somehow withdrawing from global trade but to make it answerable to something other than having the companies profit. Maybe that requires painting Krugman as a hopeless dupe who was shouting down all the people who argued that free trade was the devil's workshop and the only possibility I see would be to make globalization something like racism, where everyone recoils from the notion. Though that is going to have just as many downsides as the current circumstances.

That's because if you have a lot of the people doing that kind of shouting down, it tends to bring on the sort of folks who killed Vincent Chin. If it would be possible to 'stop' globalization (by which you don't 'stop' it, you just magically remove all the bad aspects and get to keep all the good ones) without opening that Pandora's box, I'd love to know how, but I don't think it is possible to open up to the world without opening up economically on a lot of different levels. And I'm not sure that 'protecting' American workers is going to end up protecting anyone but white males, given US problems with racism and sexism. But as long as we have 'normal' Republican policies that we have to separate out from the really batshit crazy Trump policies, I don't see any sort of protectionism as getting us back to anyplace we want to be.

Krugman and Friedman were in the same boat in the 90's. Krugman regularly mocked anti- globalization protestors. He started changing his tune in the early 00's. I think this might have had something to do with Joseph Stiglitz coming out in defense of the protestors-- up to that point all the mainstream liberal types treated trade agreements as an unalloyed good. Alan Greenspan was another lionized figure at the time. The financial markets were the font of all wisdom. That was what Friedman preached. There was no alternative. The markets imposed a golden straightjacket on possible government policies, it was a tight constraint and clearly Friedman loved it.

Incidentally, people like Dean Baker were also warning about the various bubbles that were propping up the economy both in the 90's and later under Bush. But they were ignored. The market knew all.

I followed this stuff in the 90's. It was overshadowed after 9/11 and also, with the arrival of Bush, many mainstream liberals shifted leftwards. Friedman became a figure of mockery in the lefty blogosphere and nobody worships Greenspan anymore, at least on the left. But when people talk about neoliberalism in an American context, they are referring to the ideology that dominated the upper middle class NYT style liberalism in the 90's. The debate between Sanders and Clinton supporters on the domestic front was over the extent to which one believed she had left that ideology behind, though of course there were also people who either deny or seem totally unaware that there ever was such a thing as neoliberalism. The term, incidentally, may mean something else in Europe. I gather that from discussions elsewhere, but don't know what the alternative meaning is.

On a totally different subject, here is that rare thing, a writer who is honest about the Syrian conflict. ( He criticizes some on the far left who make the standard far left mistake of thinking anyone who the US government hates must be good, without letting the US off the hook.)


Here is Time Magazine on the three wise men who were the heroes of the day--


And here is the cover


The economy is not my main issue. I read Dean Baker's blog sometimes. But if you want some idea of possible alternatives and don't wish to dismiss the issue because alternatives would only help white guys, you could try reading Baker's blog or part of his book--


And on regulation, Rubin and Summers worked for Clinton. You can read about their role here--


Republicans wanted deregulation. So did many Democrats. There was a split in the party then. I think there has always been a split in the Democratic Party, one which continues today and it is a mistake to talk about the Democrats as a monolith. And if people think third parties are a waste of time and everyone on the left should vote Democrat, it will inevitably be split between DLC types and those to their left.

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