A Few US Election-Related Thoughts

by John Holbo on February 17, 2016

Not that I want CT to go all-US-elections, all the time. But one more post.

I think Dems are resting a bit too easy on ‘the Republicans really screwed it up for themselves this time.’ (A lot of Dems are not resting easy at all, but some are being a bit smug and complacent about Republican problems and disarray.) In the modern era, every Presidential contest should be a 51-49 nailbiter – even a hanging-chad-biter – by rights. I would say this one is shaping up more 65-35, to the Dem’s advantage. (I’m talking about odds of winning, overall, not predicting vote percentages.) But that still gives the Reps a 1/3 chance of shooting the moon: controlling Congress, the White House and the Supreme Court. So ‘Republicans screwed the pooch’ and ‘Dems staring down barrel of defeat and devastation’ are both true, and should be held true together. Which is why the President should do what he can to confirm anyone – even a moderate conservative – to the Scalia seat in the next year, as insurance against dire, downside risk. In this thread someone suggested Obama should nominate Richard Posner and I realized, to my own mild surprise, that I would be quite happy with that result, all things weighed and balanced and considered. I’ll take a Posner in the hand over the threat of another Scalia on the bench. I’m a moderate squish.

The reason is basically this: there isn’t anything I think we might get otherwise, which a Reaganite like Posner would squash. But I do think there are ultra-right radical results we might get, which a Reaganite like Posner would squash. The Supreme Court isn’t going to be a site of left-wing judicial activism, but it might be a site of right-wing judicial activism. So shutting down the latter, at the cost of foreclosing the former, is optimal. Erecting a Reaganite firewall against Ted Cruz is a sound Dem strategy.

But, lest you accuse me of being a moderate squish, another thought. I don’t think Hillary is more electable than Bernie. I think Bernie is more electable than Hillary. Therefore, squishes like me, freaking out about that 35% chance that the Republicans will run the table, should support Bernie on sheer safety grounds if nothing else. Being a pragmatic trimmer does not mean being most electable. There’s a reason the Whigs haven’t been doing so well in elections for some time. ‘Millard Fillmore’ is not a name to conjure with. (I also like Bernie better on substance, by the by, but if I bought Hillary’s argument that she is more electable, I would support her for that.)

There is polling data that supports this, but, being a philosopher, I’ll do it fake a priori style.

The Republican nominee is most likely to be Trump, and overwhelmingly likely to be Trump or Cruz. The establishment lane is just a pile of burning wrecks.

It seems crazy that Trump could win in the general but, then again, no one has gotten rich betting against him so far.

Suppose the rules have changed. How might they have, such that Trump is a threat not just to the GOP establishment but to Dems in the general? Answer: conservatives and establishment GOP-types all hold their noses and pull the lever for him, because negative partisanship means they fear any Democrat worse. Trump does badly among minorities but maybe no worse than Romney. (Hey, when it comes to numbers that awful, the GOP might just start humming Kris Krisofferson: “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” And a lot of people apparently were huge “Apprentice” fans. Go figure.) And – this is the key – Trump blows a victory-sized hole in Democratic white working class support. Basically, Sean Trende turns out to have been right, after all, even though it sounded far-fetched back in 2013. That is, the strange phenomenon we’ve seen in the GOP primary – actual economic class divisions emerging – just continues right on into the general. It turns out: there’s nothing the matter with Kansas anymore. Ergo, Trump.

I still don’t think this is likely but I think it the likeliest unlikely scenario on which Trump beats whomever the Dems put up. IF there’s any way for Trump to win it – huuuuuuge IF – this is it. To put it another way, this is the only scenario likely and foreseeable enough that Dems can preemptively do anything practical to forestall it. And the way to do that would be to nominate Bernie, not Hillary. If anyone can counter Trump’s claim to be the authentic, unbought friend of the ordinary working stiff, it’s Bernie, not Hillary.

There are tons of other reasons why Republicans could win. Maybe it will be Rubio, crazily enough (post-Rubiobot meltdown. Two months ago, I was sure it would be Rubio.) Or some weird Katrina-grade event. A Scandal. A really, really bad economic collapse at the worst possible time for Dems. Collectively, all that is more likely than Sean Trende being ultimately vindicated, via Trump. But there is really nothing to be done about the black swans we can’t see. The one thing Dems can do anything about is preemptively shore up their working class flank – their white male working class flank, to be very specific – against the outside but distinct possibility that Trump is about to burn a hole in it. Who is more likely to hold onto the Dems’ existing stock of white male working class votes, Bernie or Hillary? Bernie.

Does Bernie have some debilitating downside, that offsets this anti-Trump vaccine quality? Not that I see. If it turns out that he does awfully with minorities – African-Americans – and Hillary does great, maybe what I just said is wrong. Because maybe then African-American turnout would be perilously depressed in the general. We’ll know better after South Carolina. What else? He ain’t gonna get donations from Wall Street. But he seems to be doing ok with the small donors.

Things I’m genuinely confused about.

What if Bloomberg got into a Trump/Sanders race? He’d be a spoiler, but which way? I confess I have no idea.

Why doesn’t Cruz do worse in polls concerning hypothetical match-ups? He seems like the worst candidate for the Reps. He seems like he was cooked up in a lab to demonstrate their Demographic disadvantages at the present time. His whole strategy seems to be to drive up enthusiasm, hence votes, among conservative groups already voting in such high numbers that it’s hard to see them going much highly, while accomplishing no outreach. But, honestly, he is basically tied with both Hillary and Bernie in hypothetical match-ups. And he’s not an idiot. He knows what he’s doing, so I can’t see him adopting an obviously hopeless strategy. I don’t understand it.

Anyway, Posner for Supreme Court, Bernie for Prez.

UPDATE: It came up immediately in comments, and I should have mentioned it. Yes, Posner is 77. But I think he’d take the job. And his age is actually a plus, insofar as it lowers the stakes. We aren’t talking about locking this seat up for decades.

{ 553 comments }

1

LFC 02.17.16 at 4:32 am

1. someone pointed out in the other thread that Posner is 77 yrs old. No pres. is going to nominate someone that age to the Sup Ct. So your Posner scenario doesn’t work w/r/t Posner himself; the more general point behind it stands, I guess.

2. your ‘pragmatic’ case for Sanders depends on Trump being the Rep nominee. But what if Trump isn’t the nominee? then yr pragmatic case goes up in smoke. It’s way too early to declare ‘the establishment lane’ in the Rep primary a “pile of burning wrecks.”

2

John Holbo 02.17.16 at 4:46 am

“1. someone pointed out in the other thread that Posner is 77 yrs old.”

I was going to mention that in the post. I regard it as a feature rather than a bug. It lowers the stakes, at a time when that is a very good idea. He probably isn’t going to last more than 10 years. That’s fine. Who knows who will be president in 10 years? Republicans and Dems can both hope for someone they would like better in his seat fairly soon.

“2. your ‘pragmatic’ case for Sanders depends on Trump being the Rep nominee.”

Well, yes and no. I think Bernie is best against the likeliest candidate – Trump. I don’t think he is worse against Cruz. I don’t understand why he should be. I do think he would be worse against Rubio or Bush. But, should one of them rise from the grave – they’ll have to do it pretty damn quick – Dems could pivot back to Hillary in time. I would favor Hillary strongly if I thought she would be running against Rubio or Bush.

3

RNB 02.17.16 at 4:49 am

Most pundits and even intellectuals seem unable to tell the difference between economic populism and a Klan rally. Or, to put it another way, they would go to a Klan rally and report the underlying economic anger and join in calling out political elites for creating it. Trump is leading Klan rallies across the US. That’s the sum total of it.

From what I have read and heard, Clinton has been much clearer about calling out Trumpism for what it actually is and critiquing it root and branch than even Sanders has. She even refers to white privilege.

4

The Temporary Name 02.17.16 at 4:53 am

McConnell hasn’t said he’d approve anyone at all, and there’s time. Obama should nominate someone decent today and let the games begin (as I think he’s going to do).

5

John Holbo 02.17.16 at 4:54 am

“From what I have read and heard, Clinton has been much clearer about calling out Trumpism for what it actually is and critiquing it root and branch than even Sanders has. She even refers to white privilege.”

In the event that there IS a tide of white, working-class populist sentiment that might seriously erode the Democratic base, I don’t think Hillary out front, crying ‘white privilege’ is going to stem it. I think Bernie might be able to do so, indirectly, by being Bernie, and saying the things he is saying.

6

RNB 02.17.16 at 4:58 am

@2. On what basis do you think Sanders is stronger against Trump than Clinton? No one has attacked Sanders for his socialism, for his proposed taxes, for health care reform. Watch Trump and the right-wing PACS spend hundreds of millions of dollars against him. He’ll collapse. So far, Sanders has confronted small money opposition in a state that is populated by cows and white people, equally. We can be sure that his favorability ratings would drop precipitously if the right had to take him seriously.

7

RNB 02.17.16 at 5:00 am

The Democrats don’t win on the basis of white vote. White women even after Todd Akin voted Republican. The Democrats win if they can turn out the black and Latino vote, so don’t underestimate the power of a candidate who can speak to minorities.

8

RNB 02.17.16 at 5:01 am

Love the “crying” white privilege stuff. But I expect it from Crooked Timber.

9

RNB 02.17.16 at 5:04 am

Can we take an ethnic count of who composes the Crooked Timber collective and then the people who post comments here. Anyone else a minority married to another minority with minority kids? Or is it just me?

10

geo 02.17.16 at 5:08 am

Posner would be a dream appointment. (My God, never thought I’d say such a thing!) He’s written twenty books, of which three are entitled A Failure of Capitalism, The Crisis of Capitalist Democracy, and Law and Literature. He wrote an essay in The New Republic called “How I Became a Keynesian.” He’s erudite and intellectually fearless, and he finally, after decades of market-fundamentalist obliviousness, seems to have noticed that there’s an enormous amount of unnecessary suffering in the country. I only wish he could have been appointed to the Court while Scalia was alive. I suspect Posner despised Scalia and would have consistently humiliated him.

11

Doctor Science 02.17.16 at 5:20 am

RNB: The Democrats don’t win on the basis of white vote.

This. The idea that Sanders is more electable than Clinton only makes sense if you assume that only white votes count.

In 2014, turnout for Black voters was *higher* than for Whites. Black voters are going more for Clinton in part because she has spoken to them for many years, but also because they think she’s more electable — and Blacks have more to lose in a Republican administration than Whites do.

12

Plarry 02.17.16 at 5:39 am

Let’s come back down to reality. Richard Posner will never be nominated. He is 77 and he is not confirmable, being anathema to too many Republicans (supported Obamacare, for legalized drugs, etc.). Obama, like any 2nd term president is concerned with legacy. Posner is probably too conservative for him. He will make a reasonable, strong nomination that he thinks the senate can be pressured to act on and that will sit on the bench for an estimated 20+ years.

13

aft 02.17.16 at 5:41 am

Bernie Sanders: come now, we need to adjust those polls for the negative ads that would surely come. Sanders is a self-described socialist, who comes across as incompetent when asked about any issue other than income inequality and veterans’ affairs, and who quite literally went on (in his words) a “honeymoon” in the Soviet Union.

I *agree* that he might do better among the white working class than Clinton. But that he’s more likely to win overall? That is crazy.

(I should also point out that we should surely care about what happens when a win occurs. As an economist, I can’t help but notice that Sanders put out a list of 200 “prominent” economists who support his tax and health plan, and yet there is not a single professor at a single top 100 economics department in the United States on the list. Paul Krugman, certainly on the left, thinks Sanders is getting advice from completely unqualified people. The two major Trump problems are bigotry and an unyielding belief that his instincts are right and that suasion rather than intellect is the property politics needs best. Just dropping the bigotry and putting a candidate in the Democrat camp does not solve the latter problem.)

14

Bill Murray 02.17.16 at 5:42 am

So your Supreme Court idea is let’s kick the can down the road with a moderate Republican and when he dies in 5-10 years, the Republicans will have surely come to their senses, so the 4th straight Democratic Presidential term will have smooth sailing?

15

John Holbo 02.17.16 at 5:55 am

“The idea that Sanders is more electable than Clinton only makes sense if you assume that only white votes count.”

No, it makes sense on the assumption that the major danger to the Dems is the outside chance that Trump erodes the Dems white vote. Obviously if, counterfactually, only white votes count then the Dems just lose straight up.

“the Republicans will have surely come to their senses, so the 4th straight Democratic Presidential term will have smooth sailing?”

That sounds kinda too optimistic, don’t you think?

16

John Holbo 02.17.16 at 5:56 am

“I suspect Posner despised Scalia and would have consistently humiliated him.”

I think he did (on both counts):

https://newrepublic.com/article/106441/scalia-garner-reading-the-law-textual-originalism

17

John Holbo 02.17.16 at 5:58 am

“I *agree* that he might do better among the white working class than Clinton. But that he’s more likely to win overall? That is crazy.”

I’m starting to think crazy thoughts in a crazy year.

18

kidneystones 02.17.16 at 6:00 am

@3 Most pundits and even intellectuals seem unable to tell the difference between economic populism and a Klan rally. Or, to put it another way, they would go to a Klan rally and report the underlying economic anger and join in calling out political elites for creating it. Trump is leading Klan rallies across the US. That’s the sum total of it.

How many Klan rallies have you attended? Your claim to special knowledge on the basis of minority status is, itself, suspect. Your utterly without evidence claims equating any Democratic, or Republican rally, in 2016 with the Klan is even more suspect. I can assure you that you are not the only minority on this thread, nor the only minority married to another minority, with minority kids. Were you, it would mean zip.

The baseline for any argument is falsifiable evidence. Comments 3, 6, 8, and 9 contain nothing but conjecture, bigotry, and vitriol grounded almost entirely on your suppositions about what ‘white people’ do and think. Frankly astonishing.

19

John Holbo 02.17.16 at 6:02 am

“Let’s come back down to reality. Richard Posner will never be nominated.”

Yes, I quite agree. (I don’t really think Obama takes advice from CT posts anyway.) I was mostly just struck, thinking about it, the way geo is struck by it. Huh, I guess I would be happy with Posner – and not just because only he could preserve the fun factor which, admittedly, Scalia provided. The readable opinions.

It was confusing of me to put Posner together with Bernie in the post because one of these is just a thought-experiment, in this connection; the other is a thought-experiment that recently graduated to being a real, possible nominee.

20

John Holbo 02.17.16 at 6:08 am

“Love the “crying” white privilege stuff. But I expect it from Crooked Timber.”

Oh it was nothing, really.

21

Dr. Hilarius 02.17.16 at 6:17 am

At one point I was favoring Trump as the Republican nominee but I keep encountering angry white guys who claim to have voted Democratic in the past but who are salivating at the idea of electing Trump. They seem to buy into all of the anti-establishment cliches of him not needing money, saying what others fear to say, standing up for the little guy (!?) and so on. How many voters fit this mold? I don’t know. Scary enough that there are any at all.

I too, fear the complacency of some Democrats that the country couldn’t possibly elect any of the current Republican crop. Clinton is running a campaign as if her goal to to belittle everyone who’s ever said a critical word about her or Bill rather than getting elected. She has the potential of crashing and burning, taking alienated Sanders supporters along with her.

22

Ben 02.17.16 at 6:22 am

A DNC revolt against Bernie (or even a protracted power struggle that harms the turnout machine) has to be considered too.

Frex: Hillary has an arrangement with 3/5s of state Democratic parties that allows her to legally collect uncapped corporate cash for her campaign as long as she shares it with state parties, down-ballot candidates and the national committee. Bernie doesn’t have corporate cash. Will apparatchiks just sit by and let him turn that spigot off?

@geo: all you pragmatists stick together, eh?

23

John Holbo 02.17.16 at 6:23 am

Here’s Jon Chait on Bloomberg’s chances.

“An initial Bloomberg base would consist of pure independents (a small number) plus Democrats who can’t abide socialism and Republicans who can’t abide Trump. If that base reached a threshold of viability, Bloomberg could see a sudden influx of Democrats who are terrified of Trump, Republicans who are terrified of Sanders, or both.”

I must say: I think the last thing that Dems terrified of Trump, and Republicans terrified of Sanders, will do is run to some independent. Rather, they will hunker down, grudgingly, in their own parties.

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/02/why-bloomberg-could-run-for-president-and-win.html

24

kidneystones 02.17.16 at 6:27 am

@23 You’re right, John, and the operative word here is ‘terrified.’ That’s the ‘hope’ of HRC, that she can scare enough Dems away from Bernie and convince them to settle for more of the same only worse. She could yet pull it off.

I see zero chance for a Sanders win without persistent pressure on the super-delegates to sit it out until all the votes have been counted. Given the cash for access system operating in both parties, only new and enthused Sanders supporters have any stake in making that happen.

25

John Holbo 02.17.16 at 6:37 am

Rereading the post, one point I made was unclear: Sean Trende hypothesizes millions of ‘missing white voters’. Not right-leaning, per se, but disenchanted with both parties in recent years. Trump’s success is strong evidence that he is right. Trump has awoken a sleeping giant. But Trende himself says this isn’t enough for Reps to win, almost certainly. In order to be big enough to win, this bloc would probably need to include substantial numbers of white voters peeled off the Dem bloc. I’m sort of adding that to Trende’s hypothesis. It seems absurd to suppose Trump is capable of this. But, then again, it seems absurd that he is winning in SC by denouncing G.W. Bush. But apparently he is.

26

aft 02.17.16 at 6:53 am

One more Trump note: he is not winning so much as the Republican party is not coalescing around an establishment candidate. Look at 1996.

First votes:
Alaska caucus: 32% to Buchanan, Forbes+Dole+Lugar+Alexander: 57%, but Buchanan won.
Iowa: 23% to Buchanan, 26% to Dole, 18% to Alexander, 10% to Forbes, etc.
NH: 27% to Buchanan (plus the win), 26% to Dole, 22% to Alexander, 12% to Forbes
Delaware and Arizona to Forbes, the Dakotas and SC to Dole…but Buchanan still getting 27% in AZ, 29% in SD, 29% in SC.

By this point, Lugar dropped out, and Alexander and Forbes’ saw many voters shift to Dole. Yet even though he was losing to Dole, Buchanan was still getting nearly 30% in many states.

Buchanan’s voters and Trump’s voters appear very similar. The only difference in ’96 was how long it took to figure who the “establishment” was. Look at SC: Kasich+Bush+Rubio beats Trump is nearly every poll. In NH, Kasich+Bush+Rubio beat Trump (and including Christie they did so easily). In Iowa, Kasich+Bush+Rubio would have won. Trump has had a ceiling on his support that seems firm: the unfavorables among Repubs have not improved.

My guess: Bush finishes 5th in SC and drops out. Whoever finishes higher among Kasich and Rubio gets tons of establishment cash. Three way Trump-Cruz-establishment means that unless Trump or Cruz get 45%+ of the delegates, the party will not nominate them. That is a very high bar to pass. The interesting scenario would be a Trump 3rd party run, which essentially guarantees a Hillary victory.

27

John Holbo 02.17.16 at 7:04 am

“Kasich+Bush+Rubio beats Trump is nearly every poll. In NH, Kasich+Bush+Rubio beat Trump (and including Christie they did so easily). In Iowa, Kasich+Bush+Rubio would have won. Trump has had a ceiling on his support that seems firm: the unfavorables among Repubs have not improved.”

I was thinking exactly this way myself until recently. The problem with this reasoning, I think – I’m really not sure about anything here, of course – is that it leaves out that either Cruz or Trump has to lose eventually and when that happens, some of the support for the loser in that match-up goes to the winner in that match-up (since there is so much anti-establishment sentiment between the two). Trump + 1/2 Cruz > Kasich + Bush + Rubio. And Cruz + 1/2 Trump > Kasich + Bush + Rubio. You might say that I am leaving off half a Trump and half a Cruz in these final calcuations, and if those go to the establishment side, then it’s a wash. But I don’t know. Either the establishment gets it together or it doesn’t. If it does, then I really can’t see Cruz going down (or Trump) and half his support going to Kasich or Rubio. If it doesn’t get it’s act together, then I can see half a Cruz sort of melting away into the pack – some of it going to Carson, or whomever. But That doesn’t help the pack.

Basically, when Cruz or Trump goes down, the other becomes unbeatable at this point. Looks to me.

28

John Holbo 02.17.16 at 7:06 am

“The interesting scenario would be a Trump 3rd party run, which essentially guarantees a Hillary victory.”

Agreed.

29

Joseph Brenner 02.17.16 at 7:06 am

Among Richard Posner’s works is “Not a Suicide Pact: The Constitution in a Time of National Emergency”. I would summarize the message as “Oh, just fuck the constitution, torture is *cool*.”

There is no way I would want that man on the Supreme Court. I don’t care if he’s trying to walk back some of the idiocy he was spouting during the Bush Junior years, some things you can’t just take back.

30

christian_h 02.17.16 at 7:06 am

Given the way delegates are apportioned I think Trump can easily get a majority with less than 40% of the vote nationally. Also I’d bet Kasich comes fifth in SC and then Bush and Rubio and Kasich stay in the race…

31

RNB 02.17.16 at 7:06 am

@18. Not as many as you, evidently.

“Trump’s support in South Carolina is built on a base of voters among whom religious and racial intolerance pervades. Among the beliefs of his supporters:

-70% think the Confederate flag should still be flying over the State Capital, to only 20% who agree with it being taken down. In fact 38% of Trump voters say they wish the South had won the Civil War to only 24% glad the North won and 38% who aren’t sure. Overall just 36% of Republican primary voters in the state are glad the North emerged victorious to 30% for the South, but Trump’s the only one whose supporters actually wish the South had won.
-By an 80/9 spread, Trump voters support his proposed ban on Muslims entering the United States. In fact 31% would support a ban on homosexuals entering the United States as well, something no more than 17% of anyone else’s voters think is a good idea. There’s also 62/23 support among Trump voters for creating a national database of Muslims and 40/36 support for shutting down all the mosques in the United States, something no one else’s voters back. Only 44% of Trump voters think the practice of Islam should even be legal at all in the United States, to 33% who think it should be illegal. To put all the views toward Muslims in context though, 32% of Trump voters continue to believe the policy of Japanese internment during World War II was a good one, compared to only 33% who oppose it and 35% who have no opinion one way or another.”
http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/main/2016/02/trump-clinton-still-have-big-sc-leads.html

32

John Holbo 02.17.16 at 7:28 am

RNB, I guess you are proposing that ONLY race/ethnicity is a factor in Trump’s rise. There is not a class element. Whereas I would say it is a combination of race/ethnicity and economic class. Trump’s support is strongest among poor and lower middle-class whites. It’s economics + ethnos. I think the data support my position better than yours.

“He is strongest among Republicans who are less affluent, less educated and less likely to turn out to vote. His very best voters are self-identified Republicans who nonetheless are registered as Democrats. It’s a coalition that’s concentrated in the South, Appalachia and the industrial North, according to data provided to The Upshot by Civis Analytics, a Democratic data firm.

Mr. Trump’s huge advantage among these groups poses a challenge for his campaign, because it may not have the turnout operation necessary to mobilize irregular voters.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/31/upshot/donald-trumps-strongest-supporters-a-certain-kind-of-democrat.html

The concern for Democrats is that this strong support for Trump among fringe Democratic elements shows he will have some significant degree of support even among more core elements of the Democratic coalition: white working class voters. Dem support from the white working class has been declining for decades but is still such a large number, absolutely, that it is electorally very important. Were it to be significantly eroded further, it would be hard to make up the difference elsewhere.

You suggest that Hillary calling out white privilege is a good thing. I agree it is a noble thing. I don’t see that it is likely to erode Trump’s support, however.

33

RNB 02.17.16 at 7:31 am

We need Bernie to slow the hemorrhaging of white men to the Republicans possibly led by the white nationalist Trump? But then why not support Clinton to reduce the margin by which the Republicans have been winning the white woman vote (Romney won a greater percentage of white women than McCain and Bush had) and to take advantage of her greater appeal to minority voters? This seems clearly to be a better bet for winning the election.

34

RNB 02.17.16 at 7:35 am

@32. Holbo, please explain to me why the whites attracted to Trump for his defense of the working class are not showing up instead to the rallies of the Democrats despite the fact that they are not going to increase taxes on them to reduce the burden on the 1% as Trump would do. Are you sure they don’t find his outlandish racism intoxicating?

35

RNB 02.17.16 at 7:38 am

@32. Just missing the point. Clinton is not trying to attract Trump supporters–they are hopeless. She is trying to win the confidence of minority voters.

36

John Holbo 02.17.16 at 7:41 am

“We need Bernie to slow the hemorrhaging of white men to the Republicans possibly led by the white nationalist Trump?”

If the alternative is losing to the white nationalist, then yep. You want a white nationalist President? Didn’t think so.

“But then why not support Clinton to reduce the margin by which the Republicans have been winning the white woman vote (Romney won a greater percentage of white women than McCain and Bush had) and to take advantage of her greater appeal to minority voters?”

Per the post, if Bernie has terrible downsides then the party should not go for him. In New Hampshire he beat Hillary in every category except the over $200,000 bracket. If white women like him better than they like Hillary, then there is no reason to go for Hillary to win over white women. The real challenge for Bernie, admittedly, is with minorities. If grumpy New Hampshire granddad can’t inspire their passion and eventual loyalty, he’s a bad candidate. Dems can’t afford to have those numbers fall significantly below Obama-era numbers. (It’s hardly likely that either Clinton or Bernie will be able to keep Obama’s truly high numbers up, but they have to keep it close.) But if he can inspire minority voters, once they get to know him, he’s a better candidate than Clinton. Socialist? Republicans have been saying Obama was a socialist for almost a decade. Must be a good thing. We’ll see in SC and, to a lesser degree, in Nevada.

37

John Holbo 02.17.16 at 7:46 am

“Just missing the point. Clinton is not trying to attract Trump supporters–they are hopeless.”

Per the post, we are hypothesizing a situation in which Trump wins unless something is done to counter his appeal. If there is nothing to be done – if it’s hopeless – then … it’s hopeless. But then why do you even care which hopeless thing we try?

38

RNB 02.17.16 at 7:50 am

The alternative in the Democratic primary to Bernie is not losing to but defeating a white nationalist candidate. Clinton would do much better in national election with white women than a Sanders who has been subjected to the same kinds of attacks she has endured over the last two years. Sanders won 200,000 votes to become Senator (Obama won 13 million plus in a diverse, electorally significant state to become a Senator), and while attack ads were run against him, they seem to have been focused on an Amber Alert issue. So far, Clinton has treated him with kid gloves because she wants the good will of his supporters.

39

John Holbo 02.17.16 at 7:53 am

“we are hypothesizing a situation in which Trump wins unless something is done to counter his appeal.”

OK, that was slightly inaccurate of me. It is certainly possible – likely! – that Clinton beats Trump. I give it 60-40. But why might she lose, nevertheless? That’s the question the post asks. Is the answer: because she can’t win with minorities? Can’t get them out in big numbers? No, I don’t think she is likely to lose for that reason. Is it because she loses among white working class voters? Maybe? Maybe Trump can cause that? Is there a way to counter that risk? Yes, nominate Bernie instead. But now have we sacrificed that first thing? I guess we’ll find out more when we get to SC. My strong suspicion is that, the better Bernie is known, the better he will be liked. But time will tell.

40

RNB 02.17.16 at 7:54 am

Please explain @37. Defeating Trump will be easy if Clinton is the Democratic nominee. We are in for a lot of surprises if Sanders is the Democratic nominee. Please see @13. Plus, Sanders’ main economist is claiming that Sanders will raise the American growth rate to 5.3%.

41

RNB 02.17.16 at 7:56 am

Again we find nothing about Bernie’s viability until Clinton starts swinging the way she and Mark Penn swung at Obama in 2008.

42

John Holbo 02.17.16 at 7:58 am

“Clinton would do much better in national election with white women than a Sanders who has been subjected to the same kinds of attacks she has endured over the last two years.”

Obviously we have to wait and see. Do you at least admit that IF Trump proves weirdly capable of peeling off white working class support, and IF Bernie proves highly capable of winning the support of women and minorities (big IF, I admit) then Bernie would be the stronger candidate against Trump, because he would likely be more appealing to Dem voters Trump might woo away?

43

John Holbo 02.17.16 at 8:01 am

“Defeating Trump will be easy if Clinton is the Democratic nominee.”

Defeating Trump will be easy for Jeb Bush.

That was true several months ago. It seemed. The point of the post is that something has changed in the Republican party. If the change is due to what Sean Trende hypothesizes, then something may change in the Democratic party if the Dem candidate goes against Trump. You are, I take it, confident that this must be mistaken. I am not.

44

RNB 02.17.16 at 8:03 am

Silly. Of course if Sanders gets all Clinton gets, plus more of the Republicans than she can get, then he is more electable than Clinton.
But we would only know that ex post facto. And again I would not bet on Sanders having a higher favorability rating than Clinton once the general election begins after the right-wing PACS get at him. They are now salivating at the prospect of his becoming the nominee.

45

John Holbo 02.17.16 at 8:09 am

Perhaps this will mollify you: the post suffers from exaggeration. The serious bit runs as follows: we should consider that the thing that made it possible for Trump to flummox the Republicans may allow him to flummox the Democrats as well. But that Bernie might be, oddly, the least flummoxable. As Trump is the likely candidate, this may make it likely that Bernie is the likeliest Dem, oddly enough.

The exaggerated bit runs as follows: we truly know that I’m right about this. Already. Today. Rather, we should be open to the possibility that future events shall prove me right. No need to make a decision today, after all. Many primaries to go. But we don’t want ‘obviously Clinton could beat Trump’ to go the way of ‘obviously Jeb could beat Trump’. We should consider seriously that what is obviously true is actually false.

46

RNB 02.17.16 at 8:12 am

@43. The second Trump created a media spectacle of waving the bloody shirt of someone killed by an illegal immigrant released in the sanctuary city of San Francisco by the THE FEDS , I did not rule out the possibility of a meteoric rise in the Republican Party. I am not surprised by it. Why should anyone be surprised by it?

47

John Holbo 02.17.16 at 8:21 am

“But we would only know that ex post facto.”

It makes a difference which factos we are post. We will very soon be past the post in SC and some places. We want to have a frame in place for projecting those results all the way out to November – speculatively, of course. I am suggesting that we need to factor in a very specific model according to which Clinton might prove surprisingly weak, for reasons that parallel why the establishment Republicans have proven surprisingly weak. If Bernie is strong in a place like SC – even if he isn’t stronger than Hillary in SC – that could be a sign that he will be much stronger in the general. It’s a model that needs to be seriously considered, I think.

“Sanders’ main economist is claiming that Sanders will raise the American growth rate to 5.3%.”

If I weren’t hypothetically matching Sanders against Trump, I would regard this as a problem. But against a Trumpish background, I think Sanders is not going to look crazy. Even though I personally think a lot of what he says is outlandish. When I say I like his ideas better, that is more or less just me sizing him up as more progressive in spirit than Hillary. I think the specifics of what he is proposing will not survive contact with political reality, yet something might come out of that contact that could be better than what Hillary will produce.

Honestly, I want Dems to put up the most electable candidate, whichever it is.

Do you think, if Bernie were the nominee, minority turnout would seriously be depressed on election day, in November, relative to the situation if Hillary were the nominee? Total speculation, obviously.

48

John Holbo 02.17.16 at 8:24 am

“Why should anyone be surprised by it?”

I was surprised.

Not you? For real? Not even a little? You aren’t surprised, even now, that Donald Trump is leading the pack, in SC, calling out G.W. Bush for lying about Iraq? (Not even a little bit surprised? You are one hum-dinger of a prophet, if not.)

49

Val 02.17.16 at 8:26 am

RNB – maybe people think your question about how many people are minorities on CT is bad taste or something – but anyway I’m happy to say it. I’m white (Australian) my ex is white, my kids are white. The reason I’ve had a relatively privileged existence because my white ancestors invaded this country and dispossessed the Indigenous peoples and came close to wiping them out. I owe them, we all owe them. Not quite the same as US, but yeah privilege is a real thing and it’s both social and material. Good on Hillary.

I feel a bit for you because I’ve been a similar position on CT – when I’ve asked how come the conversations are dominated by men? And people sort of admit it but in a way that makes it seem as if you’ve been a bit rude, bad taste or ‘aggressive’. And them someone will probably start talking about ‘identity politics’ in a slightly condescending way.

Anyway I don’t know a lot about US politics but I find your perspective interesting so thanks.

50

Raisuli 02.17.16 at 9:00 am

@28 ““The interesting scenario would be a Trump 3rd party run, which essentially guarantees a Hillary victory.”

Agreed.”

Is that certain? Wouldn’t it be possible that no one reached 270 electoral votes?
(I’m honestly asking – I don’t know if ‘no one reaches 270’ is a realistic scenario or not)

51

Phil 02.17.16 at 9:38 am

Socialist? Republicans have been saying Obama was a socialist for almost a decade.

Lightbulb moment! One of the things that’s been puzzling me the most about Sanders is his repeated adoption of the word ‘socialist’, when (a) he’s not, particularly & more importantly (b) you’d think it would be electoral poison of the highest order. The current leader of the Labour Party over here may actually be a socialist – and we have in the past had elected governments that described themselves as such* – but Jeremy Corbyn has scrupulously avoided the word, concentrating on specific policy proposals which don’t require any big ideological commitment. (And any policy that nudges us half a millimetre towards socialism will generally be good in the short term for (a) the economy (b) ordinary people or (c) both, so it’s not as if losing the ideological branding reduces those policies’ potential appeal.) And yet Sanders, from the country that gave the world Wilson’s Red Scare, HUAC and Rush**, seems quite happy to wrap himself in the red flag – and doesn’t seem to suffer for it.

I’ve been wondering for a while what’s happened to detoxify the word ‘socialist’ over there – not wholly, but partly; not to the point where it can’t be used as an insult, but certainly to the point where it can’t only be used as an insult. And maybe that’s it – the Right’s just been crying Wolf for too long***, and eventually it was bound to stop working.

The question then is how far the “I listened to what the guy was actually saying and you know what…” effect can take Sanders. I’m not convinced it’ll take him all the way, sadly – an awful lot of people just don’t listen. But stranger things have happened.

*Even Tony Blair had a period of describing his brand of politics as ‘new socialism’.
**Not the Canadian one (although they would actually work).
***As indeed they still are. I was reading the other day that one of Cruz’s gag lines is “one of the Democratic candidates is a wild-eyed socialist – and the other one’s Bernie Sanders!” (Ba-doom tish.) Calling Hillary a socialist reallly is devaluing the currency of invective.

52

PlutoniumKun 02.17.16 at 11:07 am

I think the key point about both Trump and Sanders is that they appear to be drawing people to vote who don’t usually vote. The people Sanders are bringing to the polls seem to be mostly white working class people who have become totally disenchanted with both parties – people who would probably never call themselves left wing or liberal, but whose views would line up in many ways with anti-corporate radicals.

As an outsider, what seems most curious is just how detached both the political elites and the commentariat have come from regular people. Even on my occasional visits to the US I can feel it – a real, deep animosity against corporate interests in particular. People across the spectrum have realised that their living standards are decaying if they are not part of the 1% or certain specific professional classes. Once, they may have blamed ‘free-spending liberals’ or whatever – now they blame the bankers and their associated political cronies in both parties. It really should be no surprise to anyone who has paid attention to changing attitudes that candidates with a firm anti-corporate and political establishment could grab a very sizeable vote – especially among the white working classes – who are still, lets not forget, the largest single electoral group.

If the Democratic hierarchy really cared about their party they would realise that Sanders is a godsend – a politician who can revive enthusiasm among a huge swathe of people who either abstain or vote Republican for culture wars reasons. But ultimately, they are so sown up in an establishment that has sold itself out to the Corporate sector that I honestly believe many would prefer a Republican president than someone like Sanders.

The big question is whether Sanders can raise equal enthusiasm among minority voters. There really is no reason to think he can’t. At the moment, the prime reason he doesn’t seem to poll well with hispanics in particular is simply because there is no name recognition – yet. But the history of Sanders campaign has gone something like:

1. First contact: Bernie who?
2. On Introduction: That sounds interesting.
3. On hearing him speak: Where can I contribute to his campaign?

There is absolutely no reason to believe he could not comfortably beat Trump or Cruz. The Clinton campaign have been desperately trying to find dirt on him and all they can find is a few badly thought through essays and speeches from decades ago. That they are not consistently lying, shows there is little if anything to be found. If the Republicans scream ‘communist’! He can simply say ‘Goldman Sachs!’ and its neutralised. For many ordinary voters who would consider themselves conservative, he is far less toxic than Hilary Clinton.

53

lurker 02.17.16 at 11:26 am

‘The Democrats win if they can turn out the black and Latino vote, so don’t underestimate the power of a candidate who can speak to minorities.’ (RNB, 7)
OK, so if Sanders gets the nomination, they’ll will stay away from the polls, because they have no reason to prefer Sanders to Cruz or Trump?

54

Barry 02.17.16 at 11:36 am

John, your idea of ‘let’s nominate a Republican’ is just another argument which is based on the illegitimacy of a Democratic president.

We’ve seen what happens with that idea back in ’00. Gore did best when he ran as an economic liberal.

How about acting like a liberal, and not a DC Villager?

55

Gary Othic 02.17.16 at 11:49 am

One assumption that I see continually, among pundits, is that Clinton’s negative ratings are already priced in, so her score can be taken as more accurate reflection (as opposed to Sanders’ whose will fall once the whole ‘commie’ rhetoric picks up speed). I’m not sure it is though. Among Democrat and Republican voters perhaps, but among the swing voters? I’m not so sure. And it continues to be a worry that Clinton supporters in the press appear unwilling, or unable, to address the substantive criticisms made about her (Krugman essentially just dismissed all of them as right-wing myths).

As an observer from across the pond who witnessed his entire political establishment go into meltdown over an outsider being the front-runner the parallels are in some ways worrying: flapping away difficult questions as if they don’t matter; playing the man not the ball (and playing indirectly through attacks on supporters and denunciations of them); and parroting the word ‘electability’ over and over again. All that’s really needed is someone in the Democratic establishment to start wibbling about how ‘principles are not enough, you need power’ and the bingo sheet will be complete.

I still expect Clinton to win – the superdelegates are likely going to push her over the line – but I think the Presidential contest will end up being a lot closer than people think it should be; with a real possibility of the Republican candidate winning.

56

Gary Othic 02.17.16 at 11:51 am

Also, is anyone still sure that socialist/communist is a big slur in the USA these days? A lot of people who will be voting would have grown up with the USSR, or in the fag-end of it, so for them, after having gone through an enormous recession and, in many respects, still on-going downturn maybe it’s not such a turn off?

57

Ze K 02.17.16 at 12:40 pm

@56, Gary Othic, here’s public opinion dynamics in Russia:
http://www.levada.ru/eng/citizens-and-state

As of March 2015, 55% would prefer “a system based on government planning and distribution”, 27% “a system based on private property and market forces”, with 19% “difficult to say”.

The last time “market forces” won was 1992.

58

mdc 02.17.16 at 12:48 pm

The white working-class is itself already sorted along partisan lines. The smaller portion votes very much like the black and hispanic working classes. The larger portion doesn’t. Trump polls very well among this larger portion, but I don’t see that Sanders peels away any more of them than Clinton. (Trump’s biggest applause lines are anti-immigrant, or anti-“p.c.”, or pro-torture/war crime. Which of those thunders could Sanders steal? I’d say none of them.) I don’t think its the case that in times of economic hardship, working people are casting about for an answer, and Trump has a brand of answers at the right time and the right place. Rather, I think that some people despise immigrants and foreigners, and blame them especially for any economic hardships they face.

59

SamChevre 02.17.16 at 1:01 pm

One distinct wild-card: what is Trump’s support likely to be among blacks? I would expect him to lose the Hispanic vote more thoroughly than anyone in recent history, but I’m not at all certain that there is no black support for a nationalist, economically populist, anti-immigration politics.

60

TM 02.17.16 at 1:21 pm

Phil 41: There was this hilarious criticism of young Sanders supporters not knowing the correct definition of the word socialism. Well nobody in America apart from political scientists knows the correct definition of socialism. Almost everybody uses socialism as shorthand for “European style welfare state”. Americans have been told for years that free tuition, universal health care, paid maternity leave and other stuff that Europeans (mostly) take for granted are “socialism”, with the understanding that Americans will oppose anything smelling of socialism. But apparently the bluff has worn off and Americans start embracing socialism because it means free tuition and so on.

61

John Holbo 02.17.16 at 1:36 pm

“I don’t see that Sanders peels away any more of them than Clinton.”

Well, we are all guessing, so you are entitled to yours. But just to clarify mine: it isn’t that Sanders can peel Republicans off Trump; it’s that Sanders could do better at keeping Trump from peeling away Dems. I fear getting up the morning after the election and reading about how the Democratic share of the white working class vote fell from 32 percent (for Obama in 2012) to something much lower. That is, for me, the likeliest way we lose. It’s not that other blocs are less key. It’s not like Dems can afford to lose among African-Americans. But I don’t see those other key demographics as likely to flip to the Trump side. Dems are playing demographic defense in that they have the advantage. They just need to hold. White working class males look like the weakest link in that defensive chain.

http://thedemocraticstrategist-roundtables.com/?page_id=60

62

Lee A. Arnold 02.17.16 at 2:06 pm

John Holbo #5: “In the event that there IS a tide of white, working-class populist sentiment that might seriously erode the Democratic base…”

It’s not conditional, it’s already here. Racism is a component for some, but the bigger wider phenomenon is populist economic discontent.

It is subtracting from both Dems and Repubs. It’s left + right. This possibility became apparent when Occupy Wall Street & the Tea Party arose at the same moment (the Teas were heavily astroturfed but do not discount their own sentiments).

A populist using fascist techniques including nativism, racism, & blanket statement (e.g. Trump) can make a sizable inroad. But then he’s got to game the system to parlay it further.

It’s only the lamestream media (and perhaps Hillary & Krugman) who don’t notice that most people are still pissed as hell. 1930s Depression showed that people took this with them until the day they died. They distrusted finance, and stayed out of household debt. This attitude remained with oldtimers who survived into the 2000’s.

Hillary & her people do not appear to understand how to deal, politically, with the most likely description of the socio-economic condition we face: 1. Supply-side technological unemployment is meeting demand-side secular stagnation. 2. The only temporary way out is for homeowners to take on more debt and for gov’t to take on more debt. 3. But people are going to distrust taking on debt in the future, not least especially because: 4. The financial system is still obviously crooked, and 5. Less than 1-in-10 can distinguish Fed from Treasury; i.e. economic incomprehension is rife.

Trump doesn’t understand this whole thing either. But then who cares, when you’re a technical fascist?

But Hillary? Even short of her lack of a clear reading of the overall situation, (no surprise really, even Krugman steers clear of engaging the most holistic thesis,) I don’t understand Hillary’s rhetorical ineptitude. Ineptitude should be a word. On the pure politics of it, she should have subsumed Bernie’s message and included it in a bigger picture, before Iowa began. She was likely to be the nominee in any case. But the way it is now, she is damaging herself with the economically-discontent populists in the general election. It’s Trump’s biggest card against her, he’s already begun it: “She takes money from the big interests, but I don’t have to, I’m free from their influence.”

63

Lee A. Arnold 02.17.16 at 2:09 pm

Before I really disappear for a while, my own worthless scenarios:

Trump v. Hillary: Trump paints HIllary as big banksterist, and he gets lower & lower-middle class young workers & unemployed, & some (but not all) of their parents. Hillary gets: almost all Obama voters black & white; all Latinos; most women including 1/2 the GOP women who want their little girls to think that they can do this too when they grow up; everybody in the world who thinks that hating is a bad way to go; foreign policy realists including all conservatives therein; most swing voters and anybody else who doesn’t want a trashmouth in the Oval Office. Hillary wins a landslide. Slogan: “Vote for Hillary! Less Snot!”

Trump v. Bernie: Trump gets all the people who think their only problem is gov’t getting in the way of their becoming billionaires building golden altars in gilt palaces (and walls, “with a big door in the middle of them”). The remaining 85% take a closer look at Bernie. On stage they appear almost equal in knowledge of domestic & foreign policy, with the edge to Bernie. Bernie gets Trump to commit to single-payer in front of the TV cameras. Swing voters figure, “what the f—!, there’s no difference”… Trump ends up defending Wall Street bankers. Bernie could win this election. Slogan: “Vote for Bernie! Less Nuts!”

Cruz v. Hillary: Cruz gets all evangelicals & anti-choicers. He turns to easily-discovered fabrications; it’s a strong personality flaw. Hillary bests him in domestic and foreign policy knowledge, across the board. Audience discovers Cruz is being advised by Dubya’s neocon warmongers, and the whole crowd heads for the exits. Moderate Republicans think of seeing Cruz sitting smugly in the Oval Office, and throw up their breakfast. Swing voters find that Hillary is the less personally-alienating of the two, imagine that! Hillary wins. Slogan: “Vote for Hillary! Girls Rool!”

Cruz v. Bernie: Cruz goes hard on the anti-commie crap and hater crap, and Bernie takes the whole country to school on both forms of crap. Bernie could win this one, but it’s a squeaker. Slogan: “Vote for Bernie! Jews WROTE the Bible!”

Bush? Dead in the water, he’s got his brother’s war hanging around his neck like a millstone. I think he got in the race because Paul, Cruz and Trump make him angry. Look at the dates of their announcements.

Rubio? HIllary loses the swing voters. He’s a bit too young, but maybe. Certainly wins in 2024.

Against Kasich, Hillary meets her match in policy conversation and she easily loses the swing voters. That race is a complete toss up, to me. However it looks like Kasich isn’t picking up quite as much as I feared in S. Carolina. Bush might leave the race, but Rubio has got the fever & overcome his New Hampshire robotitude. Robotitude ought to be another word. Kasich might leave the race if the next few primaries show that Rubio won’t.

64

wooster 02.17.16 at 2:43 pm

Bernie is electable in a national general election?

– Socialist
– 74- years old (5 older than Reagan at election)
– Conscientous objector
– Was a pacifist when applying for Conscientious objector status to avoid the draft, apparently isn’t now that he’s in national politics– big problem for a “truth-teller.”
– Atheist (he can try to fudge this, but by July he will be an atheist to >60% of the public). Atheists are about as trusted as Muslims by the US electorate.

Each of those will hemorrhage parts of the American electorate. And I’m sure the Republicans already have a more fully fleshed-out oppo book on him.

Apart from these and things in #13 (Honeymoon in Moscow) and others above, the perception of Bernie people have now will be drastically different by mid-year, should he gain the nomination.

Ignoring these factors is folly.

65

AcademicLurker 02.17.16 at 2:55 pm

Racism is a component for some, but the bigger wider phenomenon is populist economic discontent.

Right. This is what most of the media coverage of Trump seems to deliberately miss. With the racist and anti-immigrant demagoguery, he’s saying it louder than any other GOP presidential contender, but he’s not saying anything substantively new. People were talking about building giant walls along the Mexican border before Trump showed up.

The standard GOP line has been “we’ll give you racism if you let us cut your Social Security and health care”. Trump’s telling folks that they can have racism and Social Security and health care. I think that’s at least as big a factor in his rise as the fact that he says the silent parts out loud.

For Clinton, her weakness is that she’s a quintessential establishment candidate in a year where the electorate is pissed at the establishment. Her strength is that after 20+ years as a right wing hate object, even full blown no holds barred dirty campaign tactics are unlikely to hurt her.

Sanders is the opposite. He’s a strong candidate in year where people are fed up with business as usual, bit it’s unclear how he’ll handle a no-limits dirty tricks campaign aimed at him.

66

Mark Field 02.17.16 at 3:23 pm

The discussion has veered off into presidential politics, but I want to get back to your suggestion that Obama nominate Posner as “insurance against dire, downside risk” of Republican victory in November.

I don’t see how this works even on its own terms. First, Posner is so old that whether he survives a one-term Republican presidency is iffy. Second, you don’t mention the ages of Ginsburg and Breyer, neither of whom would be a good bet to last until 2020.

The fact is that the Dems need to win in November or else the Court will be conservative for the next generation. An appointment now is nice in that it gives us a year or so and blocks some potentially horrifying decisions in pending cases, but it doesn’t change the long term risk.

67

Anarcissie 02.17.16 at 3:27 pm

But ultimately, [the Democratic Party leadership] are so sown up in an establishment that has sold itself out to the Corporate sector that I honestly believe many would prefer a Republican president than someone like Sanders.

Exactly. Mr. Trump can run to the left of Mrs. Clinton on many issues important to many voters, like war and peace and preserving the Welfare state, while keeping his nationalist cred. Toting up demographic groups in this election might not have much predictive power. For instance, it is predicted that Latino voters will be 100% against Mr. Trump, but a great many of them who were born in the US or immigrated legally do not like those who immigrated illegally, and many are quite conservative on social issues. Maybe all Mr. Trump needs to do is change his tune a little to start pulling them in. In any case, Mrs. Clinton seems to be firmly attached to the plutocracy, whereas Mr. Trump is the poor man’s own billionaire. This is an era when class struggle is surfacing, and the established orders of both major parties are behind the curve. Mr. Trump seems to have defeated the Republican Establishment, but the Democratic Establishment is probably still in control. The likely outcome seems pretty obvious. The advantage of Mr. Sanders is that he is a sort of political curve ball, but it looks like the conservatism of the Democratic Party has arranged itself so as to be insuperable.

68

John Garrett 02.17.16 at 3:38 pm

The times they are a changin’ What’s happening now reminds me of ’68, except without the draft: most of us came out of school choosing among good jobs, but talk to college kids today — they have no idea where or how they will find a job, much less a job they want. No surprise they are Bernie, and working at it. Also, Bernie is very good when attacked, and he will stay that way. Ms. Clinton has already tried clean and dirty tricks on him, and he stays on message. Go Bernie!

JG

69

Bruce Wilder 02.17.16 at 3:58 pm

Buying insurance against a “worse” outcome, when you’re already in hell does seem futile.

70

bianca steele 02.17.16 at 4:00 pm

I support the idea of nominating Posner as an expression of my wish that I lived in a world where he had been a possible pick fifteen or twenty years ago.

I would also like to live in a world where the Democrats and moderates in the Senate were less likely to have convinced themselves that Roberts or Alito would be much more like Posner than they are.

71

RNB 02.17.16 at 4:09 pm

In his entire career Sanders has probably had less than $15 million spent on attack ads against him. Several hundred millions of dollars will be spent against him if he is the nominee and then we have to see what will happen to his favorability when

pictures are shown of his honeymoon in the Soviet Union

his own adviser’s words are quoted that his health care plan will raise costs for 71% of Americans in a government effort to expand and take over the heath care of Americans

his budget plan will be shown to spend an extra 2 to 3 trillion per year over and above the 4 trillion dollar budget

his flubs in the debates about North Korea and and confused answers to questions other than income inequality will be shown

his age will be made an issue

his plan to make state universities free will be attacked as a subsidy to the already-well-off and also presented as an attempt to close Christian colleges

Then on Spanish radio ads by disguised PACS will be run on his opposition to a path to citizenship for millions of people.

Yes, Sanders quotes a bit of Piketty and this has Piketty and others excited for now. But we should fear a drop sharper in his favorability sharper than Clinton suffered after the right-wing PACS and Congressmen relentlessly attacked about the emails and Beghazi. Do not forget that she had a very high net positive favorability rating until two years ago. Sanders would fall even more.

And his mechanical, single-issue responses in the debates give me no confidence that he is up to taking the heat. Cf. Clinton in the Benghazi hearings.

72

RNB 02.17.16 at 4:12 pm

If Clinton is the nominee, I would guess that only a Kasich-Rubio ticket in some order has a chance of beating her.

73

RNB 02.17.16 at 4:19 pm

@64. Trump supporters are not voting for him on the basis of a working class agenda. The question is whey get themselves to ignore that he will bankrupt social security and medicare by his tax breaks for the rich. The question is why they get themselves to ignore that he will take away workplace protections as a defender of the top 1%. And the answer is racism and nationalism and the joy they get in being around other people who love the politically incorrect language. That to them is worth even more regressive taxation.

74

LFC 02.17.16 at 4:22 pm

Only four Democratic Senators voted for Alito’s confirmation, a point, btw, that goes some way toward refuting TM’s contention in a previous thread that Senate Dems have not vigorously opposed Repub SCOTUS nominees.

From Wikipedia:

The Senate voted 58-42 on Tuesday, January 31 [2006], to confirm Alito as the 110th Justice of the Supreme Court. All but one of the 55 Senate Republicans voted to confirm Alito, as well as four Democrats: Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE), Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD), and Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND). Forty-two Senators voted against Alito’s confirmation (40 Democrats, Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), and Jim Jeffords (I-VT)).

75

LFC 02.17.16 at 4:25 pm

p.s. my comment @73 is in response to the second part of bianca’s @69.

76

RNB 02.17.16 at 4:27 pm

77

RNB 02.17.16 at 4:29 pm

78

bianca steele 02.17.16 at 4:36 pm

Half of the Democrats in the Senate voted in favor of Roberts, and IIRC a lot of the press at the time seemed to assume the Federalist Society was some highly intellectual organization (true enough) that naturally would produce judges who were “reasonable” in a centrist way (not true at all).

Not that they’re monolithically ideological–I have a cousin who’s an appellate lawyer and active in the Federalist Society, who describes himself as a libertarian and some of his colleagues as paleos.

79

Sebastian H 02.17.16 at 4:36 pm

“It’s only the lamestream media (and perhaps Hillary & Krugman) who don’t notice that most people are still pissed as hell. “

This is exactly right. If Clinton wants to convince people she is actually a good campaigner and good politician she needs to work to understand the political moment. She is the classic example of someone who is fighting the last war.

80

Bruce Wilder 02.17.16 at 4:52 pm

She *is* (the war previous to) the last war.

81

RNB 02.17.16 at 4:54 pm

@49. Thanks, and it would be interesting to know what percentage of the total comments here are written by women as well as ethnic minorities. This is the kind of digital access issue that the CT collective would find interesting about the very space they have created, no?

82

TM 02.17.16 at 5:01 pm

I’m rather unimpressed by the high opinion some commenters here seem to have for Trump and his “populism”. Even among the white, poor-hating, liberal-hating republican primary crowd he hasn’t managed to win more than 35% vote share. He is the frontrunner among a discredited field, in part (and I repeat myself from another thread) because our dumb-ass celebrity-maniac news-is-entertainment media have given him more exposure than probably any candidate in history ever got, vastly more by orders of magnitude than Sanders received although he actually got the most votes cast to date. Nothing suggests that Trump has the superior political skills some people here impute to him (and Kasich again gets touted as the strongest candidate ever, really folks???) .

I am generally dismayed that this discussion on CT has descended to that level of horse-race politics. The November election really shouldn’t be about just Hillary and Bernie. progressives (or liberals or whatever label you prefer) need to mobilize and fight and win on all levels. Given the horror show going on on the Republican side, this shouldn’t be that hard. But it takes more than picking the “most electable” candidate.

83

TM 02.17.16 at 5:03 pm

80: We don’t have reliable statistics but I think it’s no secret that we are mostly white males around here.

84

bianca steele 02.17.16 at 5:18 pm

Also “15-20 years ago” doesn’t mean I think Clinton should have nominated Posner, necessarily, just that I’m guessing he would have been around the right age then.

85

anon 02.17.16 at 5:20 pm

I don’t see how Hillary could win by a landslide, or how her chances be anything but poor against anyone other than Trump or Cruz.

In Hillary’s favor are diehard democrats, women, minorities, older voters, and wealthy voters. In other words, people who will reliably show up no matter what.

So far, the primaries show weaker support among younger voters, poor white voters, and independents. And they show a lack of enthusiasm even among her supporters.

All of this suggests a real weakness at getting people to the polls–when Obama brought out huge numbers and still didn’t win by “landslides.”

In Hillary’s disfavor, 20 years of right wing attacks (mostly sexist, unfair smears, with an occasional legitimate issue thrown in) have worked: the Republican base really, really hates her.

(I think some on this blog and in the left media are a bit sheltered and don’t know how broad and deep this hatred is throughout the middle American public. I know plenty of moderate, even rather liberal, Republicans who hate her with a white-hot passion. I also know plenty of non-affluent, non-urban white Democrats who have a pretty passionate hatred of her. I’m not saying it’s fair or reasonable–though in some cases it may be–but it’s pretty striking.)

So, as a bring-out-the-vote measure for the Republicans, a Hillary nomination is probably the equivalent of offering free champagne and foot-massage limo service to the polls for every Republican and anti-establishment moderate/independent. They will vote in droves against her.

So how on earth could she win by a landslide in any scenario, or even have a good chance if the Republicans decide on a non-crazy nominee?

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nnyhav 02.17.16 at 5:55 pm

Here’s a scenario for ya: Trump’s ceiling of support is insufficient to secure the GOP nomination, which goes elsewhere in a brokered convention, and so he launches his third-party bid, which owing to differing state demographics gives him a slim plurality in a handful of states, enough to deny the major-party candidates the 270 threshold, and so Congress gets to decide …

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Scott P. 02.17.16 at 6:03 pm

” In any case, Mrs. Clinton seems to be firmly attached to the plutocracy, whereas Mr. Trump is the poor man’s own billionaire.”

I am no fan of Clinton but unless I fell into the mirror universe this statement seems to be the exact opposite of the truth.

88

James Wimberley 02.17.16 at 6:11 pm

On the nomination, I would not mind being in Obama’s shoes. Mitch was right to be scared. O has two nice options: Broderist and partisan. The first is to nominate a centrist like Srinasavan, recently confirmed as an appeals judge by a huge bipartisan majority. This paints the Republicans as partisan hacks. The other is to nominate a black loyalist like Loretta Lynch. The Republicans would find it hard to resist the chance of attacking her in hearings and voting her down in person. This paints the Republicans as racists and ensures high black turnout in the election.

89

Ze K 02.17.16 at 6:20 pm

“Trump’s ceiling of support is insufficient to secure the GOP nomination”

I checked the polls and Mr. Trump is the clear Republican front-runner, 15 to 20% ahead of the next clown. What “ceiling of support”? He seems to be the most likely nominee, and probably the next president, as I can’t imagine why anyone would be willing to spend a half an hour and a dime worth of gas to vote for Hillary (all due respect).

90

RNB 02.17.16 at 6:23 pm

http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/sanders-campaign-has-crossed-neverland

I tried to point this out on Corey Robin’s blog a few days ago, citing the work of Robert J. Gordon and Piketty himself on reasonable projections of growth rates. Now I see a lot of people are as startled as I was by what Sanders’ leading economist is projecting.

91

Bruce Wilder 02.17.16 at 6:31 pm

Scott P @ 86

The concept of Mrs Clinton lecturing on white privilege also seem like a political winner?

92

Sebastian H 02.17.16 at 6:42 pm

“” In any case, Mrs. Clinton seems to be firmly attached to the plutocracy, whereas Mr. Trump is the poor man’s own billionaire.””

I would say that the popular appearance is that Trump is his own man, a member of the plutocracy while Clinton is a person on the payroll of the plutocracy.

That is a dynamic that doesn’t play in Clinton’s favor. Trump projects the appearance of “I”m too rich to be bought” while Clinton plays “Who me? Bought? What does that mean?”

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Christoph 02.17.16 at 6:45 pm

Tl;dr on the entire comment list, but i will point out on election scenarios that the news is in that Dem turnout is down so far in the primaries while Rep turnout is up vs 2008.

Although it was a banner year for Dem enthusiasm, it would be interesting to know what turnout is wrt to 2012 which was still a solid win but not as broad-tented. Nonetheless, if this is turnout with or even despite Sanders it might be hard to say he is going to get better turnout that Clinton even if there are no PUMAers.

Meanwhile, its even more of a question mark what turnout will be when the Rep field is finally reduced to The One…. PUMA seems to be very likely there but it is a big if for the time being and potentially as far away as months or weeks (or even days) to the election.

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RNB 02.17.16 at 6:57 pm

Though because she is a real threat Clinton seems to have had more Wall Street money spent against than given to her in the last couple of years, this impression has worked against her and for Sanders’ fund-raising operations. So Sanders will be sprinkling fairy dust on us for the next several months.

95

anon 02.17.16 at 6:58 pm

@89,

If the last 10 years have taught us anything, it’s what real “very serious people” have known since the 19th century: economics is at best a very, very soft science and at worst a pseudo-science that can produce whatever results we want it to.

You do remember, don’t you, that until quite recently the right never had any trouble getting economists to sign on to their policies, despite 20 years of refuted predictions?

The only reason Krugman holds the modest amount of respect he does among the left-leaning is that, when the other side held the reigns, he was using economic analysis in the only respectable way it can be used: to call into question, to cast doubt on, the certainty of very serious people’s economic prognostications in favorite of the current ruling class. It clearly went to his head, and he’s now Prognisticator-in-Chief on behalf of the new ruling class.

If we really want to play the Very Serious Person game, we should probably ignore both the pro-Sanders and the anti-Sanders economists.

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Anarcissie 02.17.16 at 7:14 pm

TM 02.17.16 at 5:01 pm @ 81:
‘I am generally dismayed that this discussion on CT has descended to that level of horse-race politics. The November election really shouldn’t be about just Hillary and Bernie. progressives (or liberals or whatever label you prefer) need to mobilize and fight and win on all levels.’

But what else is there to talk about? The issue on the Democratic side is whether to try to restore the ancien régime (the New Deal) or settle for conserving the tattered remnants that remain. Its slogan is ‘We’re not much, but we’re the ones who aren’t crazy.’ Meanwhile, on the Republican side, we see the Id of America rising out of the miasma, casting its basilisk glare randomly hither and yon, with a New York real estate developer riding upon it, than which there is no more dreadful clown. It’s like the Book of Revelation staged by P.T. Barnum. Meanwhile, the ground under the res Americana is shifting, and the natives grow increasingly restless; their drums throb in the night. We live in interesting times, unfortunately.

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Gary Othic 02.17.16 at 7:22 pm

@Ze ke (57)

Wow… that really shows just how badly the reforms of the Russian economy went…

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Bruce Wilder 02.17.16 at 7:36 pm

RNB @ 89

The sad truth is that all economic whole-economy projections — even or especially the piously conventional ones — are prone to all kinds of implausibilities and inconsistencies.

Rhetorically, we may wish to indict the fantasy aspect of someone’s ideology, and that’s not wrong. When a right-wing nut projects blue skies and fair weather because of the fairy dust of business confidence and the fresh energy released by lowering marginal tax rates, we say the implausible ratios and magnitudes of his ten-year projection are a proof of his fantasy. Like I said, that’s not a wrong diagnosis exactly, but it is crediting the technology of economic projections with a power that they don’t have.

The technology of linear projections of linear relationships as a representation of the political economy as a semi-managed, semi-mechanical system — well that technology is crap, total crap.

The most technically and mathematically sophisticated variation in economics — the DSGE models of legend — are beyond total crap — they belong to an order of magnitude of craphood that’s just off the charts, so far beyond ordinary ken that I can hardly express how absurd and inappropriate they are as a vehicle of authoritative expression. But, that’s not the issue, here.

Any linear representation, even one done with the best will and judgment in the world, goes completely wrong, within the space of a few dozen months. Economics, as a technically competent academic discipline capable of advising on broad policy, is a weak reed all around, and it has gotten steadily weaker over the last sixty years.

Without an adequate “technology”, the fact-value distinction pretty much goes by the boards in economics. There are a lot of numbers, but they are arguing qualities, hand-waving and direction without much appreciation how to construct a policy alternative to neoliberal policy in all things, even where there’s some remnant of the will to do so.

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Ze K 02.17.16 at 7:51 pm

“that really shows just how badly the reforms of the Russian economy went…”

Nah. There is a clear pattern. East Germany, for example:

Today’s Germany is described as a “slave state” and a “dictatorship of capital,” and some letter writers reject Germany for being, in their opinion, too capitalist or dictatorial, and certainly not democratic. Schroeder finds such statements alarming. “I am afraid that a majority of eastern Germans do not identify with the current sociopolitical system.”

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mrearl 02.17.16 at 8:16 pm

Perhaps mostly white males (“pale, stale, and male” as the saying goes), but I doubt we are mostly working class white males. At any rate, not a cross-section of the American voting public.

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engels 02.17.16 at 8:18 pm

Petition · Nominate Anita Hill for Supreme Court Justic Anita Hill For Supreme Court. Now THAT’S Justice! Anita Hill is a highly qualified legal scholar with all the right qualifications to be a Supreme Court Justice…

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Soullite 02.17.16 at 8:23 pm

Let’s be honest here: most political analysis, particularly on the blogosphere, is based on what people want to see happen.

100 years of mass enfranchisement, and only twice has a party been elected to a third term in the whitehouse. Both times occurred during times of economic recovery and foreign policy crisis. I’m betting that this won’t be the third time, what with a laughable economy and the biggest foreign policy issue being the perennial ‘Muslims are angry in the some other country’.

The internet has put too many people into bubbles. Every election, the polls don’t mean a thing until the summer, and every year the blogosphere acts like they’ll actually predict someone. But history predicts a Republican win. The economy predicts a likely Republican win. That polls before labor day don’t predict it, and that liberals on the internet don’t possibly see how it could happen, matter very little to me.

Keep on wishing, I’ll keep on assuming that things will go the way they’ve always gone. Presidents get re-elected, then the other party takes power. This is nothing like 1940 or 1988 in terms of economic activity.

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steven johnson 02.17.16 at 8:25 pm

Gary Othic@95 “Wow… that really shows just how badly the reforms of the Russian economy went…”

There was never any intention to reform the Soviet economy. It was a counterrevolution. The counterrevolutionary regime (new bourgeois state) has done very well in defending new capitalist property against the majority of the people, just as the democratic state here defends capitalist property against the majority of the people. Or to rephrase, the reforms went very well indeed for Russia’s new rich.

Trump was so bold as to bring up the lies about WMD in Iraq. He was promptly schooled in the limits of dissent against the great imperialist cause and has backed down. So much for the buccaneer who will drive millions of people out of the country…I imagine he would get schooled on that too.

But if I’m wrong and CT and its commentariat are correct, then isn’t the real question whether the Republican Party (an unnatural coalition of country club crooks, libertarian cranks and Christian sectarians perversely ignoring all the tenets of their respective denominations in the vain pursuit of governmental power to restore their waning fortunes) will undergo some sort of split. The Democrats won’t, I think the superdelegates designed to prevent that will succeed.

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Soullite 02.17.16 at 8:32 pm

Sebastian H: This is the sort of place where commenters say things like ‘Stale, pale and male’, and see no problem with it or hypocrisy when it’s contrasted against their other racial views.

This is not the sort of place that ‘gets’ Trumps appeal, because they think he’s a demagogue and they’re reasonable people. And they are half right — Trump is a demagogue, and he is dangerous. But to people who are, as they put it ‘Stale, pale and male’, they too are demagogues. And people will take a demagogue who hates the other over the demagogue who hates them. That’s just logic — it will never end well, supporting someone who has it in for you.

So they cling to their SJWisms, which function entirely to give them an acceptable group of people to hate — the stale, the pale and, to a much lesser degree than they want to admit, the male, because most women can’t stand this kind of stuff, either, particularly younger women have not become embittered over the fact that life didn’t go the way they were hoping it would. They don’t hate racism, they love to hate poor white people, and pretending that poor white people are a lot more racist than they really are (for a lot of these liberals, it will forever be 1972, and they will forever be arguing with yokels who died decades ago), which allows them to justify their complete abandoment of economic justice. If poor white people are just shitlord monster racists, then they don’t have to care about selling out to Goldman Sachs or insurance companies. Those filthy subhumans have it coming anyway.

We have nothing but clowns to choose from. Hillary says, ‘Vote for me, I’m a woman! That’s what matters!’. Trump says, ‘Vote for me, I’m white. That’s what matters!’. Nobody actually cares about this country or its people. They’re all just competing to serve us up to people who have even more money than they do.

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Bruce Wilder 02.17.16 at 8:39 pm

anon @ 93: If we really want to play the Very Serious Person game, we should probably ignore both the pro-Sanders and the anti-Sanders economists.

Not exactly what I would prescribe — not that I am endorsing any of the clowns endorsing Sanders’ rather vague economic policy sloganeering.

If you are in the top 20% of the income distribution in the U.S., you are probably doing OK. If you are smart, you are worried. If you are near the bottom of the decile, you may be increasingly anxious about your personal prospects.

If you are in the middle 20% of the income distribution in the U.S., you are not doing well at all. You can find a job, a bad job that doesn’t pay well, and you are being fed upon by rising rents, a temptation into debt even if you are not already in debt peonage (which about half of all the people in the middle decile are arguably edging toward even as I write). If you are smart or even if you aren’t, you know you are screwed, though your education and life experience may not give you much of a clue of how or why — but you know you are screwed and no conventional politician wants to help you. Reading Krugman’s column in the New York Times — an unlikely event — isn’t going to enlighten you as to the nature of your political predicament. “Black Lives Matter” may suggest that your life doesn’t; it sure doesn’t feel like it matters. If you are 30 and healthy and making a crap income without benefits, you are probably wondering how Obamacare’s bronze plans that won’t keep you from financial ruin if you cannot work because of serious health emergency are supposed to help you — you may not feel as grateful as does my friend the multi-millionaire real estate developer, whose Obamacare premiums are heavily subsidized because “depreciation” shields most of his cash income from income tax. But, I digress.

The New Deal threaded the needle, by promising and delivering a bigger pie. The New Deal empowered the lower orders to demand a fair share, but settled for stalemate in that conflict between the really rich and everyone else. The safety valve on that pressure cooker was growth. The economy would get bigger. A rising tide would lift all boats.

We closed the door on that model with the Oil Crises. The working and middle-classes would stop seeing any increase in wages, but they would be allowed to make it up with higher work force participation. Fewer absolute ethnic and racial caste barriers on upward mobility — a wop on the Supreme Court. Women could work and have careers, empowering their families into a kind of upward mobility with a second income.

Deregulation and freer trade would drive more competition and better prices and quality. Cars got better and quality clothing got cheaper and clever suburban shoppers could gain by visiting big box stores.

Meanwhile, a gradually increasing share of economic growth would be funnelled to the very, very rich over the course of subsequent business cycles. The barriers to financial predation would be removed; no protection in bankruptcy for a primary residence, no usury laws. Investment in public goods would be constrained, and opportunities to privatize prisons and education and so on would multiply.

I am not trying to do the definitive analysis. I am just saying that conventional economics can give form and substance, chapter and verse to Sanders’ claim that the economy is rigged against common wage-earners. If there’s a will to do so. It is possible to trace the outcome of the status quo now back to policy choice.

If Sanders is understood as proposing a new New Deal that repeats the original New Deal’s acceptance of stalemate in the struggle over the distribution of income between Capital and Labor, the super-rich elite establishment and everyone else, because . . . growth — then, yeah, I’d say that’s an economic fantasy.

The economics now is such that the very Rich would have to be screwed pretty brutally and thoroughly to deliver appreciable income gains to the middle masses. Not that any of them would need to miss a meal or a golf game — I’m not saying they would actually suffer any but purely psychic ill-effects, assuming political violence doesn’t ramp up a couple of orders of magnitude.

I am saying that an economy that was significantly more fair in its rules would not fund the levels of “wealth” we currently enumerate for the American economy. There would be some nasty fights, and Bernie would have to have some fairly ruthless minions in place to ensure that it wasn’t the “widows and orphans” (Wall Street’s favorite bag persons) who took the major hits.

I am confident that a Single-payer medical care system is technically feasible and would prove to be potentially economically more efficient than the system we’ve got. “More efficient” though means a lot of rentiers and predators are ruined, and before they are ruined, it is reasonable to imagine they will try to put the costs of collapse onto the innocent and unsuspecting. (Luckily, we may well have spare prison capacity, should we need it in the event that major fraud prosecutions resume in the U.S.)

The hard fact of economic life circa 2016 is that the pie is not getting much bigger and even if, in some technological sense, there was some technological potential, the present distribution of income is so badly skewed, that stagnation is built-in.

Collapse, as in 1929-33, is a possibility — not even a mere possibility; its a reality for large parts of the world economy, not just not a high risk yet for the U.S.

The bottom-line is that, though the economists are far less clear than they could be, if they did not wilfully stick their heads . . . into . . . dark places, these are still economic problems. They can be understood, even if everyone involved has political reasons to be less than entirely upfront and honest.

I guess one response to a nasty fight over income distribution is to finesse it with denial and false promises — that’s Hillary Clinton (or a conventional Republican, exemplified by Kasich at the moment); you can go with nostalgia and sincerity — that’s Sanders; or you can go with bombastic ridiculousness, flavored by racism.

You choose to be for or against the Plutocracy, and then you hope you are in on the con.

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Lisa 02.17.16 at 8:46 pm

I think everything you say here is spot on. Posner is a stroke of brilliance. You get this feeling though that the Republican prey drive has been activated and you couldn’t distract them with even the juiciest cut of meat. They are having a nostalgia-fest for the time when the abortion issue would win elections. Opposing Obama gives them the will to live–I think he’s going to have to fight this one out.

You do wonder how the attacks will play out. Darn it, I found this great example of an anti-Bernie right wing site…but I can’t find it now.

Right now, they only have the New Yorker story to go on which gave us these tidbits (1) He had a child out of wedlock! (2) He was a bad carpenter! (3) He lived in a messy house! (4) He has been making his entire living working in the public sector for years!

That’s pretty much all they’ve got on him at the moment.

We also know, thanks to recent online proof that he was deeply involved in civil rights work that he (5) got bad grades in college and almost flunked out one semester (because he spent too much time working on de-segregating housing).

The hilarious thing is when googling to find it I can only find a bunch of ‘skeletons in Bernie’s closet’ from the further left. Did you know that Bernie Sanders is not a pacifist at all? I first became aware of Bernie Sanders because Alexander Cockburn would devote some portion of his column excoriating him. Who was this evil man so worthy of note in a column on US militarism? Wait…a socialist from Vermont in the House of Representatives?

The truth is that in any sane country, Bernie Sanders would be known far and wide as a centrist moderate. I’m surprised by how many of my much-further-to-the-left-than-I friends support his candidacy.

The right will come after Bernie with the kind of dog-whistle cultural things that they used to come after Hillary with. She was a bad mother, a feminist, an elitist, a bossy harridan, etc. That’s all been played out now so it’s unlikely to have much effect on those not already of that view. If Bernie gets it, he’ll be a hippie, a radical, a loony-bird, and a Red Sea Pedestrian…but against Trump will this play the same way? If it’s Trump or Cruz this is going to take some of the wind out of those sails because they can’t appear normal no matter how hard they try. So Bernie’s weirdness is definitely going to look less weird. If there’s a video of Sanders singing folk one can always counter with a video of Trump’s steak commercial or Cruz reading Green Eggs and Ham.

The Republicans will try to attack him with cold war motifs. Let them. Try explaining to the voting public that Putin was our friend before he was our enemy and then sometimes our friend and Bernie Sanders actually VISITED RUSSIA! Undecided voters are the ones they have to convince. Good luck with that.

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Lord 02.17.16 at 8:52 pm

Oh well, Trump probably wouldn’t really be that bad a president.

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The Temporary Name 02.17.16 at 9:06 pm

There’s already been a Berlusconi.

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Bruce Wilder 02.17.16 at 9:06 pm

Oh well, Trump probably wouldn’t really be that bad a president.

I am really hoping not to find out. But, my deeper fear is that the country that would elect Trump would be worse than I imagine.

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LFC 02.17.16 at 9:22 pm

Ze K cannot imagine why anyone would vote for Hillary in any circumstances. This shows Ze K’s impoverished imagination. That Trump is an ignorant demagogue is irrelevant to Ze K, probably because he will be completely personally unaffected by the outcome of the election. Thus to him it’s all a game and an opportunity to write clever comments about the ‘clowns’ and the ‘circus’.

Ze K seems incapable of drawing distinctions between different kinds of oligarchies. In the U.S. oligarchy, I can get on the subway tomorrow, ride it to the vicinity of Lafayette Square opposite the White House, and stand there all day with a big hand-drawn sign reading “Obama is a crook and a plutocrat” and not a goddamn f***ing thing will happen to me. Whereas if I did that in Cairo with a sign about al-Sisi, I likely would be thrown in jail very quickly. Probably ditto with the same scenario involving a sign about Putin in Moscow.

Btw, Ze K has never addressed afaik the question why, if there is such nostalgia now for the command economies of the former USSR and E Germany, those regimes collapsed in the first place.

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Roger Gathman 02.17.16 at 9:33 pm

I am hoping that Obama does the right thing electorally and nominates somebody like the candidate urged by the DailyBeast: Tino Cuellar. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/02/15/the-gop-s-worst-nightmare-scotus-nominee.html

The GOP has an uphill slog anyway. I love the progam on Five thirty eight – what would it take to make blue states red. It is impressive how difficult it is for the GOP on the national level. But it does depend on getting out the vote, which Obama perfected. I think getting out the Hispanic vote is going to be easier in this election if the Dems play it right. We’ll see.
http://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2016-swing-the-election/

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PatinIowa 02.17.16 at 9:43 pm

On the order of, “If Wisconsin beats Kentucky in the semi-final, then they have an excellent chance of beating Duke in the final,” doesn’t Sanders beating Clinton for the nomination ipso facto mean he’s got the chops to beat Trump, Cruz or even Rubio.

She’s going to go down swinging, and her partisans will do a lot of swinging for her. If Sanders can weather that, I’m pretty sure he can take on the rest pretty successfully.

My mother, a squishy centrist who AFAIK usually voted Democratic, who has never hated a public figure in her entire life, loathes Hillary Clinton. It’s a complete mystery to me and it scares me.

113

Martin Bento 02.17.16 at 10:01 pm

I’m with Holbo.

Blacks and latinos will turn out in huge numbers to vote against Trump. Whoever opposes Trump will probably best Obama’s performance with latinos as Trump has gone out of his way to alienate them in a manner that cannot be taken back. Blacks always vote Democrat. The only question is turnout without Obama to inspire it. However, they can see what Trump is appealing to because it is very familiar to them, even if they are not the immediate target. They will turn out to oppose Trump. Also, turning out is partly a matter of habit, and black turnout has been quite high for several elections now. They are in the habit of voting. Given turnout, there is no upside with blacks. Democrats cannot get a significantly larger share than they do already, and a significantly larger share of the latino vote is already assured. Or, if it is not, it is not available. If Trump’s remarks do not get a generic Dem latino votes, nothing Clinton says or does will.

But the white vote is much larger. If the Dems gain 15% among latinos and lose 5% among whites, that is a net loss. White voters are the ones in play, and they are far the largest group. Yes, the Republicans consistently win them and lose overall, but that’s only because they don’t win them big enough.

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mdc 02.17.16 at 10:01 pm

I guess the thought implies that there are some voters whose ordered preferences are 1) Sanders, 2) Trump, 3) Clinton. Do we know how many people like this exist? I’ve never met one, but that’s not saying much.

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Roger Gathman 02.17.16 at 10:18 pm

I very much doubt the GOP candidate will accrue a higher percentage of the white vote than any GOP candidate did before. Romney is the ceiling, I think. On the other hand, why, if Trump doesn’t win, do we assume that the Trump voters will simply move on to the GOP candidate? IMO, pundits don’t really know enough about the visceral issues. Trump has a genius for looking like the bully that the bullies, who now feel they are the victims, want. No other candidate has that. Rubio strikes me as the Dukakis of the GOP – and Cruz as too slimy to be a good bully. I think there is every reason to think that the Trump voters might stay home if Trump isn’t the candidate. They’ve had a taste of the real thing. Why settle for second best?

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Bruce Wilder 02.17.16 at 10:27 pm

I think those are my ordered preferences, though I would not actually vote for Trump or Clinton.

Trump seems a horror show to me. Clinton — I do not see the point in voting for a blood-thirsty neoliberal, who wants to just keep doing the same wrong things.

But, I accept that voting in national elections is less efficacious than voting on a reality teevee show like The Apprentice. Clinton doesn’t need my vote; she has all the money she needs to get the necessary votes to legitimize her reign in the Era of the Plutocrats she has pledged to serve.

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Ze K 02.17.16 at 10:42 pm

LFC “Thus to him it’s all a game and an opportunity to write clever comments about the ‘clowns’ and the ‘circus’.”

Hey, the ‘clowns’ and the ‘circus’ – that’s a point of view. You have a different one, but I don’t despise you for that.

And by the way, if the clown in the white house does indeed affect the workings of the machine, then everyone in the world is affected. But I find it highly unlikely. No one in the right mind would hand all that power to any of the clowns I see on tv.

“I can get on the subway tomorrow, ride it to the vicinity of Lafayette Square opposite the White House, and stand there all day with a big hand-drawn sign reading “Obama is a crook and a plutocrat” and not a goddamn f***ing thing will happen to me. Probably ditto with the same scenario involving a sign about Putin in Moscow.”

Granted, but who would want to do such a thing? It’s an utterly absurd thing to do. Especially if you know that nothing is going to happen to you. Why do you think it’s so important? Also: try to bring a sign to work reading that your CEO is a crook, see what happens.

In Moscow, you’d probably have to register for a protest at the city hall, and then you can. Although these days I suspect patriotic citizens might attempt to kick your ass, and then the cops would probably detain all of you, so yeah, you’re right.

“Btw, Ze K has never addressed afaik the question why, if there is such nostalgia now for the command economies of the former USSR and E Germany, those regimes collapsed in the first place.”

A comment was posted, suggesting that ordinary people in reality may not hate ‘socialism’ all that much, and I though the poll data about this nostalgia was relevant.

Obviously people expected the new regimes to be better, much better. And now, apparently, many are disappointed. That’s the pattern. To me it seems interesting, that’s all.

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engels 02.17.16 at 10:59 pm

Bloomberg politics: Iowa Poll: 68% of Dems OK with a “Democratic socialist” president http://bloom.bg/1P4vP1C

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kidneystones 02.17.16 at 11:15 pm

I just downloaded a few polls. There’s very little specific data on minority support for any Republican, which seems strange. Either it’s non-existent, or folks don’t want to know. One Latino writer put the Nevada Latino split at 80% dem/20 gop, with Trump leading the pack in the 20% sliver. On the issues there’s surprising uniformity on the importance of the economy and jobs. HRC continues to be viewed by most Dems as the candidate with the experience to do a good job as president (ahem). That’s 90% plus in at least one poll. The lastest NBC/WSJ poll that puts Cruz above Trump 28%-26% is of relatively small sample 400 registered Republican primary voters, effectively the base. So, that number tells us nothing about minority support, or the lack thereof, but (more important) attrition to Trump by the GOP establishment base – a full 1/4 ready to jump.

If you haven’t watched any of the candidates speak for a full hour, it’s quite difficult to gauge the content of their message. On the issues, everyone is concerned about the economy and jobs across all categories. Immigration is less important to Trump supporters than the press suggests and more important to non-whites than we might expect. There are, of course, specific issues – climate change, that reveal real divisions among voters.

Sanders comes out extremely well, especially on the question about the candidate sharing values. He’s about 10 pts behind HRC among African-American voters and given the importance of the minority vote to Dems we can expect more Sanders = KKK from Clinton surrogates.

120

kidneystones 02.17.16 at 11:27 pm

Here is the latest PPP poll via TPM. Don’t know if it’s been linked. Apologies, if so. The importance of the minority vote is critical. I contend, however, that minority voters are not a monolithic bloc impervious to persuasion, but thoughtful individuals for the most part – concerned about the state of affairs in America, particularly on the issue of economy and jobs. See above. Which means that Sanders needs to aggressively portray Clinton as more of the same, and ask pointedly if anyone thinks same old same old is the right way forward, get organized. Sanders has already closed the gap in Nevada and S.C.. He’s new to many Dems and as such is going to have to work 3 times as hard to get half as much. And that’s before it gets really ugly, which it will.

https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.publicpolicypolling.com%2Fpdf%2F2015%2FMarch2016PrimariesPollingProject.pdf

121

RNB 02.17.16 at 11:28 pm

While people are worried about Clinton losing white men to Trump, here are some interesting poll data
http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/main/2016/02/clinton-leads-in-10-of-12-early-march-primaries-benefits-from-overwhelming-black-support.html

@117 Sanders=KKK has been said by Clinton surrogates? This is absurd. Who has made this equation?

This is what I wrote @3: “Most pundits and even intellectuals seem unable to tell the difference between economic populism and a Klan rally. Or, to put it another way, they would go to a Klan rally and report the underlying economic anger and join in calling out political elites for creating it. Trump is leading Klan rallies across the US. That’s the sum total of it.

From what I have read and heard, Clinton has been much clearer about calling out Trumpism for what it actually is and critiquing it root and branch than even Sanders has. She even refers to white privilege.”

And again Trump calls today for torture/lynching
http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/donald-trump-torture-works-n520086

122

John Holbo 02.17.16 at 11:34 pm

“I guess the thought implies that there are some voters whose ordered preferences are 1) Sanders, 2) Trump, 3) Clinton. Do we know how many people like this exist?”

http://www.vox.com/2016/1/30/10869974/trump-sanders-economic-history

That is the question.

123

RNB 02.17.16 at 11:34 pm

It seems that Gerald Friedman forgot about the aging of the population in his projection of how high the Sanders’ spending package could raise the employment to population ratio. That’s Krugman’s apparent criticism. But assuming that Sanders is sticking by the paper, shouldn’t we ask about the multipliers? Perhaps govt spending can have the kind of multiplier Friedman is banking on in a slump but in a growing economy over a decade? Like to hear more discussion about this, because Sanders is more of a tax-and-spend liberal than we have seen before. This may all be to the good, as Piketty insists. But a program of this size deserves scrutiny.

124

Lee A. Arnold 02.18.16 at 12:09 am

Cruz pulls ahead of Trump in NBC/WSJ poll of national GOP. Could be an outlier: 800 RV + 400 GOP primary voters, Feb. 14-16. But, in addition, a 9-point drop “in the percentage of GOP primary voters who can see themselves supporting the real-estate mogul”:
http://www.nbcnews.com/meet-the-press/surprise-trump-falls-behind-cruz-national-nbc-wsj-poll-n520296

125

Lee A. Arnold 02.18.16 at 12:19 am

NBC/WSJ also shows that voters split evenly almost along party lines on whether Scalia should be replaced before election. Independents split evenly too.
http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/poll-voters-deeply-split-over-whether-scalia-should-be-replaced-this-year

126

Anarcissie 02.18.16 at 12:20 am

PatinIowa 02.17.16 at 9:43 pm @ 112: ‘She’s going to go down swinging….’
I have read that, in spite of suffering a significant defeat in the New Hampshire primary, Mrs. Clinton will come away with as many convention delegates as Mr. Sanders. If so, that it is swinging, but it is hardly going down. In Iowa, where some results were determined by a coin toss, she won six out of six. Mighty hard to beat that.

mdc 02.17.16 at 10:01 pm @ 114 —
Some people might think war, imperialism, and aggression were important, and rank on ‘least likely to start yet another war’. Conceded, they would be eccentrics. Insignificant, but you asked.

127

bob mcmanus 02.18.16 at 12:42 am

123: Stephanie Kelton

MMT and Neochartalist, was Sanders Chief Economist on the Senate Budget Committee.

Just found that out yesterday. A pleasant surprise, I have read Kelton for a decade and argued with her (I like taxes more than she) at Thoma’s.

In this theory, sovereign government is not financially constrained in its ability to spend; it is argued that the government can afford to buy anything that is for sale in currency that it issues (there may be political constraints, like a debt ceiling law). The only constraint is that excessive spending by any sector of the economy (whether households, firms or public) has the potential to cause inflationary pressures. MMTers argue though that generally inflation is caused by supply-side pressures, rather than demand side.

In Neochartalism, there is no limit to gov’t spending, or if there is, it’s political. No limit.
Buy every mortgage, every bond, every student loan, no problem.

128

John Holbo 02.18.16 at 12:58 am

“Now I see a lot of people are as startled as I was by what Sanders’ leading economist is projecting.”

I agree that it’s very bad – shameful, actually – that Sanders can’t come up with better. Nevertheless, the post is about electability. I honestly think that, if Trump is the candidate – and I now believe he will be – he shifts the Overton window re: crazy. If it’s Trump vs. Bernie no one is going to be objecting to Bernie on the grounds that what he says is crazy. (This is not ideal, by any means, but I suspect it’s true.) If we are setting aside electability and focusing on policy responsibility, then I’m with Drum, in that same post: “I like his vision, and I like his general attitude toward Wall Street.” If Bernie can shape up while keeping his general vision and attitude, he’s a strong candidate. If he can’t, then he’s our guy with the crazy policy proposals against their guy with the crazy policy proposals. Then it’s a question of vision and attitude and speculation as to what happens when crazy policy proposals meet reality.

“Thanks, and it would be interesting to know what percentage of the total comments here are written by women as well as ethnic minorities. This is the kind of digital access issue that the CT collective would find interesting about the very space they have created, no?”

I don’t have employment stats from the CT HR department before me, but here’s how the system works, for those who are curious.

All CT commenters are unpaid interns, working on a per-comment basis. We don’t even provide free coffee. We engage in no active recruitment and experience high turnover (although a few interns hang around for years, getting derpier and angrier); quite rightly, no one believes us when we tell them being an unpaid CT intern, leaving snarky comments, is a great career steppingstone. We honestly have no reason to believe it is a good career move. All these factors together produce serious quality issues. We have trouble attracting, and retaining, a qualified, diverse commentariat. But digital access, per se, is free.

129

mdc 02.18.16 at 1:00 am

“Some people might think war, imperialism, and aggression were important and rank on ‘least likely to start yet another war’.”

Ok, maybe… but admiration for Putin, John Bolton, promise to ‘take’ Iraq’s oil, promise to target civilians…

130

Robbl 02.18.16 at 1:02 am

Well, who gets nominated is interesting, but what about confirmation?

Say Obama nominates someone and the GOP carries out its threat to ignore the nominee? Then Democrats running for the senate pledge to oppose all Republican nominees if a Republican wins the White House.

This leads to no one ever being confirmed again.

Elena Kagan is the last women standing.

131

John Holbo 02.18.16 at 1:07 am

One of the only semi-fresh personal takes on Clinton I’ve read in recent months is this one:

http://gawker.com/my-conflict-1758741736

132

Anarcissie 02.18.16 at 1:16 am

mdc 02.18.16 at 1:00 am @ 129 —
No one seems to know what lies behind Mr. Trump’s bluster, so our eccentrics must assume they have the power to read minds, or give Mr. Trump a zero, whereas based on their actual records, one candidate receives a positive score and the other a negative score.

133

RNB 02.18.16 at 1:20 am

@128 The Social Text candidate touting a paper recently submitted by Alan Sokal is in danger of losing crucial support, and become unelectable.

134

RNB 02.18.16 at 1:21 am

typo again
The Social Text candidate touting a paper recently submitted by Alan Sokal is in danger of losing crucial support, and may well become unelectable.

135

Jim Harrison 02.18.16 at 1:22 am

The hard line conservatives have been counting on the lottery-like American election system to eventually put a ‘real’ right winger in office. I guess a lefty could hope for an analogous result with the signs reversed. Thing is, though, if Sanders somehow won, which is surely not impossible, the question is whether he could possibly govern granted that he has very little support among the movers and shakers of the economy or in the military. It has been hard enough for a centrist like Obama to govern granted Republican intransigence. This is an oligarchy, after all, and imagining it’s a democracy is going to change that fact. Precisely because of the much bemoaned impurity of her politics, Clinton may have enough of a coalition to govern, i.e. a coalition of the powerful as well as the voters. Sanders would face a constellation of billionaires, generals, and bureaucrats who would surely put their own interests over loyalty to the political process and the nation itself in order to defeat a structural threat to their privilege.

136

UserGoogol 02.18.16 at 1:38 am

Ze K @89, nominees need a majority of delegates to win. If by convention day Trump is in first place but does not have a majority, delegates are allowed to change their vote until someone does. This hasn’t happened since the nomination process switched to allotting delegates based on primaries and caucuses, so nobody’s quite sure how that would pan out, but there’s no reason to think Trump would necessarily be able to get from a plurality to a majority.

Generally speaking it’s thought that sort of scenario won’t happen, since as candidates drop out, votes consolidate behind a winner. But this election year is certainly interesting.

137

ZM 02.18.16 at 2:00 am

“There’s a reason the Whigs haven’t been doing so well in elections for some time. “

This made me laugh out loud

Since Obama did law he should be able to make a proper appointment to the Supreme Court not based on your pragmatic considerations of politics and age.

Your American way of working out who should be appointed to the Supreme Court by their political views is completely wrong, appointing justices in this manner compromises the rule of law in my opinion. You should only discuss the appointment of justices based on their legal knowledge and sound judgement in previous cases they have decided.

138

John Holbo 02.18.16 at 2:18 am

“You should only discuss the appointment of justices based on their legal knowledge and sound judgement in previous cases they have decided.”

This thought has crossed people’s minds. But think about what happens when you get to that ticklish ‘sound judgment in previous cases’ part.

139

ZM 02.18.16 at 2:42 am

You discuss this in a very proper legalistic way going over the legal knowledge in the decisions and whether justice was seen to be done etc not by talking about the proposed appointees politics and ages

This is like if you discuss a philosopher in your classes you address their philosophical points and arguments and the logic and whether they are sound and did they support nazis in real life etc

You don’t just choose a bunch of philosophers who make some arguments you agree with and say they are the best philosophers without looking at their philosophy in detail

But you do this with the law discipline, not the philosophy discipline

140

ZM 02.18.16 at 2:44 am

This would encourage people to become educated in the American law and strengthen the rule of law

141

John Holbo 02.18.16 at 2:45 am

“But you do this with the law discipline, not the philosophy discipline”

Well, I’m not opposed, by any means.

142

LFC 02.18.16 at 2:48 am

ZM @137
I don’t know much about Australia’s legal system — and I’d be happy to learn something about it — but in the U.S. it happens that the Supreme Court, though different from a legislature, is in effect a political institution. While the Sup. Court sometimes declines to hear cases on the grounds that they raise “political questions” rather than legal ones, the legal issues the Court does decide often implicate hot political issues (not always by any means, but some of the time). It is therefore not possible for a president to nominate a justice without some thought about the nominee’s “politics” in the broad sense.

143

LFC 02.18.16 at 2:53 am

ZM @139
Every single word a nominee or potential nominee has written or spoken — in past judicial opinions, speeches, op-ed pieces, law review articles, addresses to the Third Annual Meeting of the Bayview Chowder and Marching Society, or whatever — is scrutinized. It is not accurate to suggest that a pres. simply goes looking for someone whose politics are congenial and that’s that. Choosing a nominee is typically a much more thorough process.

144

LFC 02.18.16 at 2:56 am

Holbo @128
All CT commenters are unpaid interns, working on a per-comment basis. We don’t even provide free coffee. We engage in no active recruitment and experience high turnover (although a few interns hang around for years, getting derpier and angrier)

What about the main posters who hang around for years? Do they also get derpier (definition of the word, btw?) and angrier?

145

Alan White 02.18.16 at 2:57 am

Just want to strongly second JH @135.

And about younger voters: I asked both my 101 sections (48 total) to name one elected representative beside their mayor (my former student BTW and serving his second term at 28, one of the youngest in the US), which included city, county, state, and congressional representatives. One student correctly named our county Executive. That’s it.

Is it any wonder that voting stats in the US are so unreliable given this level of ignorance about government in younger demographics? (And yes, I’m well aware that I do not teach at Madison. But my students track a much more significant chunk of the younger demo.)

146

John Holbo 02.18.16 at 3:24 am

“Do they also get derpier (definition of the word, btw?) and angrier?”

Nope. Our salaries are so high – plus all those speaking fees from Goldman Sachs – that we are spared that.

Derp = “”the constant, repetitive reiteration of strong priors”

http://noahpinionblog.blogspot.sg/2013/06/what-is-derp-answer-is-technical.html

147

A H 02.18.16 at 3:25 am

I like Sanders because he knows how to do propaganda. I love that his policy proposals are fantasy.

Free Healthcare! Free College! 5% growth!

And if we don’t get it we know Wall Street is to blame!

Against very unfavorable demographics the Republicans have had incredible political success over the past 10 years because they where able to use right wing ideology to motivate their base. It’s time the left started fighting back.

And if a cranky elite like Krugman gets pissed off, well that’s all the better for mass motivation.

148

thehersch 02.18.16 at 3:45 am

100 years of mass enfranchisement, and only twice has a party been elected to a third term in the whitehouse.

You mention 1940 and 1988, but you’re forgetting 1928 and 2000. And of course 1940 was followed by a fourth and then a fifth consecutive Democratic win. At any rate, the argument that the Republicans will win the 2016 presidential election because of historical precedent, even were the precedent more robust, is very weak tea. Things have changed. Obama carried Virginia twice.

149

RNB 02.18.16 at 4:08 am

Does Bernie Sanders have to live with right-wing attacks like this?
http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/presidential-races/269460-rove-super-pac-links-clinton-to-trump-on-immigration-in
Is Sheldon Adelson getting in on the fun; after all, Clinton helped to negotiate a deal with a country that he thinks a nuclear weapon should be dropped on.

150

Martin Bento 02.18.16 at 4:21 am

If it comes down to Trump vs. Sanders, a logical move would be Jeb or another establishment Repub to run third party as a centrist against the extremists. The strategy would be to carry a couple of states, denying either candidate an EC majority and throwing the election to the House. Each state would get one vote, decided by the delegation from that state. Huge advantage Republicans, who come disproportionately from small states. They would have to choose among the top three – let’s say Sanders, Trump, and Jeb. I say they take Jeb. Although Trump has a lot in common with the Tea Partiers, he is not really one of them, and I don’t see that he has any real allies on the Hill. So Jeb pours enormous resources into certain states, carries Florida, maybe also Wisconsin or another swing state and becomes President.

151

RNB 02.18.16 at 4:32 am

There’s an insane amount of anti-Clinton propaganda at Karl Rove’s site (I am not providing the link); I could not find a single attack on Sanders obviously because Rove wants him to do maximum damage to the Democrat he actually fears. How many other right-wing Super PACS are gunning for Clinton in this way? Does anyone know? Seriously interested.

152

Corey Robin 02.18.16 at 5:26 am

RNB at 123: ” But assuming that Sanders is sticking by the paper,…”

Can you provide a single instance where Sanders actually cites — much less “sticks” — by the analysis in that paper, particularly its growth projections. Which is one of the big things those four economists go after it for?

Here’s what Seth Ackerman wrote to me about this tonight; I think it’s worth heeding what he has to say:

‘Besides stating the obvious — that this is a pure political play by supporters of one candidate against another — it should just be pointed out how idiotic this whole thing is. I’ve seen media people citing this letter as proof that “Sanders’s policies” are based on “fanciful projections.” But the analysis in question, by Gerald Friedman, didn’t come from the Sanders campaign, it came from one economist who supports Sanders. It wasn’t released by the campaign and as far as I can tell hasn’t even been posted anywhere online. Unlike Jeb Bush, who promises 4% growth in speeches and op-eds, Sanders has never promised any particular growth rate. Apparently the big scandal is that — according to the economists who signed the letter — Sanders’s “campaign” has been “citing” Friedman’s analysis. I wouldn’t be shocked if that were true in some sense, but I haven’t seen any examples of it, which indicates to me that this is just a Swift Boat attack one way or the other. And certainly none of Sanders’s policies assume a 5% growth rate. In fact, the same economist, Friedman, did a cost analysis of Sanders’s single payer plan that the campaign *did* post to its website — and in that analysis Friedman specifically says he makes *no* assumptions of increased growth rates.’

153

John Holbo 02.18.16 at 5:36 am

That’s interesting, Corey. OK, now I need to look into this more.

154

js. 02.18.16 at 5:39 am

I have a good bit of time for the argument RNB has been making. (And RNB — I am of the brown people myself, and my sense is that we—brown, black, yellow, red—are a much smaller minority on here than in the country). I think it’s a good argument (esp. re how Sanders’ ratings are likely to suffer in the campaign for the general), and I think people should pay more attention to it than they seem to be doing. But ultimately, I am inclined to go with what PatinIowa says @112.

155

Corey Robin 02.18.16 at 5:39 am

John Holbo at 128: See my comment at 152.

156

Corey Robin 02.18.16 at 5:40 am

Oops, I see that our wires crossed, John. My apologies!

157

RNB 02.18.16 at 5:45 am

Not just anyone but Sanders’ policy director called the paper “outstanding work”. This is probably how the NYT and CNN came to know of the paper and reported the findings.

158

js. 02.18.16 at 5:47 am

I think those are my ordered preferences

Bruce Wilder: While we disagree on a lot of things, you are a commenter I have immense respect for. The fact you think he is preferable to Clinton is deeply, extraordinarily disturbing. This is someone who has proposed that me and my entire family be placed on a national registry, and that my father and mother, who are currently out of the country, not be allowed back into it. In what possible world is he preferable to Clinton?

159

A H 02.18.16 at 5:48 am

If electability is so important to mainstream dems then why did they they let Clinton run unopposed? She ran a very poor campaign in 2008, and all the evidence this year is that she hasn’t improved much.

160

js. 02.18.16 at 5:59 am

Holbo — that Gawker piece is great. Thanks!

161

RNB 02.18.16 at 6:00 am

The health care issue is a different one than the projected growth rate. But if growth is increasing at 5%+ per annum and incomes rising substantially, then Sanders’ tax hikes are compatible with rising post-tax incomes. In a general election he will be hammered for having promised an unrealistic rise in pre-tax income so as to fool people into accepting his “confiscatory tax regime”. And he has already made himself vulnerable to charges of playing tricks with numbers by his policy director touting this paper.

On health care the problem is that someone who seems sympathetic to his efforts in VT (Thorpe?) and who may also be a former Clinton adviser has expressed skepticism. Sanders proposes to raise taxes something like 2% on employees and then another 6% or so percent on employers, so first the employers may reduce wages to cover their costs. And second Sanders may have to raise taxes even more to cover the costs of his program due its universality and its absorbing the costs of deductibles and co-pays. So Thorpe seems to have guessed that Sanders health care plan will end up increasing the costs for perhaps 71% of the population, though he thinks the expansion in coverage is worth it. Like many people here, I agree that single-payer makes sense, but again Sanders’ proposal will be a very hard sell in the the couple of months before the general election and he may well be sabotaged by other Democrats who will distance themselves from his promises to win a general election. We could end up getting a Republican sweep.

162

Corey Robin 02.18.16 at 6:01 am

RNB: Okay, so that’s citing the work. Someone on Twitter pointed out another quote that was even more enthusiastic from the policy director. So fair enough. But sticking by it, saying it’s the basis for any of Sander’s proposals, that it informs his policies, that it’s the grounding of the campaign’s vision: I haven’t seen any evidence of that.

163

Scott P. 02.18.16 at 6:04 am

“She ran a very poor campaign in 2008”

She lost by a razor-thin margin to the most talented politician of our generation. No way is that a poor campaign.

164

A H 02.18.16 at 6:06 am

RNB what’s Hilary’s health care plan?

165

RNB 02.18.16 at 6:08 am

@154. Yes we’ll learn more about Sanders’ viability if or when Clinton goes after him. I think she is confident that she’ll have a lot of success in March and sees no reason to alienate Sanders’ supporters. If Sanders proves as strong as Obama in 2008, then he will be tested earlier.
On the temporary ban on Muslims, of course what this would mean is a ban on and suspicion towards all colored people since any brown/black person not admitting to being Muslim would obviously be a Muslim hiding secret jihadist tendencies just as the Japanese-Americans had to be interned exactly because there being no evidence of their treason showed how insidiously treasonous they were.

166

A H 02.18.16 at 6:10 am

Her team in 2008 didn’t even know that some states gave full delegates and some gave proportional delegates.

And that team included Mark Penn.

167

RNB 02.18.16 at 6:12 am

@164. She seems to talk about expanding health care for women in particular and trying to get drug prices down. But Clinton seems to want to tweak ACA.

168

RNB 02.18.16 at 6:15 am

@158. Has BW crossed a line for you js? For me, yes. I am not engaging BW.

169

A H 02.18.16 at 6:18 am

But expanding health care for women is complete fantasy. The states are controlled by republicans and it is harder to get an abortion now than it was 8 years ago. Why would Clinton put forward a fantasy proposal like that?

170

Yankee 02.18.16 at 7:02 am

If Trump just wins, then nothing to say. The live question is when does Hillary beat Donald whereas Donald beats Bernie? It wouldn’t necessarily require a big shift. Hillary’s core is the safe-and-sane: when faced with the choice of Dread Socialist Bernie or Big Business Donald, in an environment where the biggest value is security, many who fear change will go for plain talk rather than radical solutions.

OTOH there are no doubt some Bernie supporters who would vote for Donald rather than a Dread Clinton? Maybe not so many.

171

TM 02.18.16 at 8:33 am

115: “I very much doubt the GOP candidate will accrue a higher percentage of the white vote than any GOP candidate did before.”

Just as African-American turnout reached record levels because of Obama, so did (especially southern) white support for Republicans reach record levels because of Obama. Without Obama on the ballot, I indeed don’t see why anyone would expect a better Republican result in the white demographic, which is already exceptional (59 vs. 39 for Romney). Just out of curiosity, what mechanism would account for a further Republican swing among whites? Why would a white voter who voted Obama in 2012 switch to Republicans?

172

TM 02.18.16 at 8:47 am

BW 116: Positively devious.

173

John Holbo 02.18.16 at 9:26 am

“Why would a white voter who voted Obama in 2012 switch to Republicans?”

Because Romney seemed like he had contempt for that voter, whereas that voter now feels Trump is his guy, and he is Trump’s guy.

“I indeed don’t see why anyone would expect a better Republican result in the white demographic”

Because Trump is working some kind of magic with a class of (perhaps formerly semi-missing) white voters, and some very similar voters are in the Dem camp. It needs to be considered whether Trump’s magic might be even more magic than the magic of Barack Hussein Obama’s skincolor was. Obama being black was pretty darn magical, for making whites vote Republican, granted. But what if Trump is even MORE pretty darn magical? The evidence that he might be is the effect he is having on the Republican establishment. He has shaken voters loose from some attachments the Republicans thought were very solid. Maybe he can do the same thing on the other side to Democratic attachments. Needs to be considered.

“there are no doubt some Bernie supporters who would vote for Donald rather than a Dread Clinton? Maybe not so many.”

That is the question: what if there are MORE Dems whose preferences are, in effect, Bernie-Trump-Clinton, rather than being MORE Dems whose preferences are, in effect, Clinton-Trump-Bernie.

174

TM 02.18.16 at 9:46 am

“But what if Trump is even MORE pretty darn magical?”

Nothing in America is more voodoo than race. As of Trump’s “magic”, so far it has topped him out at 35% of the *Republican* base. See 82.

“He has shaken voters loose from some attachments the Republicans thought were very solid.”

This needs some spelling out: attachment to what? To the Bush dynasty? What are you really saying, beltway pundits were wrong about the Republican race and this can only be explained by witchcraft?

175

Peter T 02.18.16 at 9:56 am

I didn’t read BW as voting for Trump over Clinton, but abstaining in despair if it came to that choice. But even that needs thinking about hard. Not just Americans but many others face really hard choices:

http://harpers.org/archive/2016/02/we-dont-have-rights-but-we-are-alive/

Clinton would be a battle against the plutocracy one failed to win. Trump with a Republican Congress and appointments to the Supreme Court would be a stain on America’s political conscience it would take decades to scrub clean. A registry of Muslims? ICE dumping a few million in Guatemala or El Salvador? A Major upsurge of violence – state-condoned if not conducted – against anyone looking “foreign”. And, as I point out here:

http://howlatpluto.blogspot.com.au/2016/02/states-of-stupidity-guest-post-by-peter.html

the US parallel government has been doing stupid, vicious stuff at enormous cost in lives for decades. I see no reason to believe that Trump would have any more control over this than any previous president.

In short, it currently sucks to be an American voter. But it could suck much, much worse.

176

John Holbo 02.18.16 at 10:16 am

“This needs some spelling out: attachment to what? To the Bush dynasty?”

Bush, for starters. (Why not?) SC is Bush country and Trump is, weirdly, winning by denouncing Bush.

“Still, South Carolina has, for decades, served as the Bush firewall. This goes back to Lee Atwater, the controversial South Carolina operative who ran Poppy Bush’s campaign in 1988. And it continued in 2000, when Sen. John McCain’s momentum after a huge New Hampshire victory ran headlong into the Bush buzzsaw in the Palmetto State.”

http://blogs.rollcall.com/opinion-analysis/231/?dcz=

So much for the buzzsaw, apparently.

The Iraq War. Free trade. Trump is off the Republican reservation, but feeling fine, apparently. It would be nice to understand this, and to know what its relevance it is for Trump’s viability as a candidate in the general.

“and this can only be explained by witchcraft?”

I was employing a literary trope known as ‘metaphor’. I would have expected you to be familiar with this device, as you yourself employ it just a few lines up. “Nothing in America is more voodoo than race.” This is not literally true. It is a metaphor. My metaphor works in parallel fashion to your own. I express a literal falsehood so as to induce what I suppose to be a true thought in the audience’s mind. As do you.

But saying whether Trump is a threat is, admittedly, a much more difficult problem than establishing whether there is such a thing as metaphor. We shall see what we shall see, I suppose.

177

kidneystones 02.18.16 at 10:28 am

The problem with the comments regarding Trump is that pretty much all assume that Trump will somehow lose his ability to control the discussion. At that point, the Democrats will mount an immense barrage of negative ads against an immobile actor who will for some inexplicable reason remain a sitting target and offer no bouquets in reply. His supporters will be denigrated and shunned as Klans-people and no fair-minded American will ever admit to once supporting him. Then the drugs may wear off.

Republicans of the Cruz, Bush, Rubio, NRO, Koch variety hate Trump because they suspect rightly that inside the Trumpster’s barbaric rhetoric beats the heart of a moderate perfectly capable of sitting down to cut deals with Dems on a host of issues, including some form of single-payer health care. Those not paying attention to Trump promises elide determiners such as ‘temporary’ and stop listening half-way through Trump’s promise to ‘repeal Obamacare and replace it with something better.’

The election is still a very long way off and the one thing Trump has proven repeatedly is that he can do all the things that the very clever among us insist can’t be done. Being wrong about Trump and his ability to make it this far hasn’t discouraged those with an unbroken track record of failure from declaiming that voter X will do this, and never do that, all pretty much based on the deeply suspect notion that Trump will be unable to steer the national conversation back in whatever way he pleases.

My guess is that a great many Latinos will be very willing to at least listen to any Trump plan to offer a path to citizenship to all, irrespective of past infractions. In other words, Trump is highly likely to push the amnesty that real Republicans abhor. Cruz and the Kochs understand better than just about everyone here that this sort of unimaginable reversal is not a big deal for Trump.

And, at that point, if Trump is offering some version of single-payer and a path to citizenship, and generally moderates his position, will he still be Mussolini-Hitler?

My choice is Sanders, but continuing to believe that Trump is the actually the cartoon character he pretends to be: ‘he’ll implode’ long before Iowa, confirms a complete indifference to all recent evidence. I’ve already addressed, btw, the NBC/WSJ poll, up-thread. For the present, it’s an anomaly. Trump is still the front-runner and until proven otherwise, the prospective nominee. I was around when Dem pros were all predicting O would fold after Iowa, New Hampshire, etc. It takes some a remarkably long time to understand that coming first in state primaries is no easy feat. Just ask the Bush donors who’ve watched their candidate vaporize 128 million plus in three races for a place at the bottom. This shit ain’t easy and if you think you’re looking at a clown when you look at Trump, then we’ve got him right where he wants us.

178

kidneystones 02.18.16 at 11:16 am

And lest any believe that Trump has any friends among the Republican elite, check this out from the WSJ, you know, that reliable rag that just published the ‘Trump is losing’ poll with NBC.

“The Trump phenomenon offers a moral challenge [gag] not only to evangelicals, but to the entire Republican leadership. Nine months ago I couldn’t imagine a scenario in which Mr. Trump would receive his party’s nomination and go on to win the presidency. Now I can. If he wins in South Carolina, conscientious Republicans [that would who?] will have to ask themselves whether they can be complicit in a course of events that hands the Oval Office to a man so manifestly unfit for the presidency. It is hard to decide which is a greater threat to the republic—Donald Trump’s pervasive ignorance or his deep-seated character flaws. [he can’t be bought]

Some leading Republicans have quietly told me that they would break ranks if Mr. Trump wins their party’s nomination. A few have said so publicly. Unless a viable alternative emerges soon, every Republican will face the same dilemma.” [You hope]

First, O claims Trump isn’t fit to be president and now the pricks as that WSJ.

Trump must be purring.

179

kidneystones 02.18.16 at 11:17 am

180

Lrxp 02.18.16 at 11:21 am

@157 Can you provide your source for the outstanding work quote?

It appears in the CNNMoney story* from February 8 in the following sentence.
This more sweeping analysis was not commissioned by the candidate,
though Sanders’ policy director called it “outstanding work.”

However, that story is obviously not your source since you referred to Friedman
as “Sanders’ leading economist” back in #90 and the CNNMoney piece makes
it abudantly clear Friedman is not part of the campaign nor was he “commissioned
by the candidate.” It also states the analysis was given exclusively to CNNMoney.

181

Martin Bento 02.18.16 at 11:39 am

“what if there are MORE Dems whose preferences are, in effect, Bernie-Trump-Clinton, rather than being MORE Dems whose preferences are, in effect, Clinton-Trump-Bernie.”

I doubt there are many Dems with the former ranked prefs, but I don’t think that’s a useful way to conceive it, as what the voters will face is ultimately a binary choice (barring a Jeb or Jebeqsue figure as I suggested above). Hillary campaigns as an establishment reformer against a xenophobe; Bernie campaigns as a left populist against a plutocrat. They are not even entirely running against the same Trump. A voter who hates plutocrats, but is afraid of Muslims and tired of Mexican immigrants driving down low-end wages may well vote for the Trump Clinton runs against, but not the one Bernie does. There are also voters who hate xenophobia, but are not upset at the general distribution of wealth, of course. Those are Hillary’s people, and they are not in play if Clinton gets the nom. But it is going to be hard for Clinton to reach the plutocrat-haters, because she is very clearly aligned with the plutocrats. Trump is a plutocrat himself, of course, but also a renegade, and he has shown that he can be credible to people not generally given to fawning over the elite.

182

Martin Bento 02.18.16 at 11:59 am

“what if there are MORE Dems whose preferences are, in effect, Bernie-Trump-Clinton, rather than being MORE Dems whose preferences are, in effect, Clinton-Trump-Bernie.”

I doubt there are many Dems with the former ranked prefs, but I don’t think that’s a useful way to conceive it, as what the voters will face is ultimately a binary choice (barring a Jeb or Jebeqsue figure as I suggested above). Hillary campaigns as an establishment reformer against a xenophobe; Bernie campaigns as a left populist against a plutocrat. They are not even entirely running against the same Trump. A voter who hates plutocrats, but is afraid of Muslims and tired of Mexican immigrants driving down low-end wages may well vote for the Trump Clinton runs against, but not the one Bernie does.

183

Martin Bento 02.18.16 at 12:07 pm

Accidental partial repost.

184

TM 02.18.16 at 12:11 pm

176: I guess my ignorance of the concept of metaphor (which is evidenct from the fact that I’m using it) is only exceeded by your inability to appreciate sarcasm. Nuff said.

185

engels 02.18.16 at 1:09 pm

152 re the VSP concern troll Swift Boaters sympathetically concerned Democratic economists who wrote to NYT about Sanders/Friedman, there was a pretty forthright defence in the FT (a noted hot-bed of communist ideology of course…)
ftalphaville.ft.com/2016/02/17/2153540/extreme-doesnt-mean-what-it-used-to-sanders-vs-the-cea

186

Richard Cottrell 02.18.16 at 1:21 pm

Donald Trump is an exact cultural reflection of the United States. Otherwise he would not be in the running.

187

John Holbo 02.18.16 at 1:31 pm

“is only exceeded by your inability to appreciate sarcasm.”

I am skeptical that the apparent defects of #174 can be explained away as due to some underlying layer of healthy sarcasm. The challenge is this: effective sarcasm has a point. But, so far as I can say, if #174 is read as sarcastic, it has no point; conversely, if it is read as pointed, it is not sarcastic, hence dissolves readily in the face of my discourse on the existence of metaphor (see #176). I am, now as always, amenable to rational correction on these points, should I be somehow mistaken.

188

TM 02.18.16 at 1:48 pm

Not biting, troll yourself Holbo.

189

SamChevre 02.18.16 at 2:17 pm

what if there are MORE Dems whose preferences are, in effect, Bernie-Trump-Clinton, rather than being MORE Dems whose preferences are, in effect, Clinton-Trump-Bernie.

I suspect there is a significant group of voters whose top two candidates are Trump and Sanders. Many of them are weakly identified with either party, so “Dems who prefer Trump to Clinton” or “Reps who prefer Bernie to Jeb!” doesn’t capture the dynamic well.

I’d summarize this as the “not one of the same rotating cast of fools” voter pool. Things have been getting steadily worse for some people and geographies since the mid-70’s; at this point, “not one of those guys” beats any coherent polciy position.

190

Donald Johnson 02.18.16 at 2:19 pm

http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2016/02/trump-stays-neutral-on-israeli-palestinian-conflict

Trump keeps breaking the rules– he takes a neutral position on the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, refusing to place blame, and then justifies his position by favorably citing a self- serving racist Israeli argument that places all the blame on Palestinians. Normally I’d be a little angry, but it’s almost awe- inspiring how he transcends logic.

191

ZM 02.18.16 at 2:30 pm

LFC,

“I don’t know much about Australia’s legal system — and I’d be happy to learn something about it — but in the U.S. it happens that the Supreme Court, though different from a legislature, is in effect a political institution. While the Sup. Court sometimes declines to hear cases on the grounds that they raise “political questions” rather than legal ones, the legal issues the Court does decide often implicate hot political issues (not always by any means, but some of the time). It is therefore not possible for a president to nominate a justice without some thought about the nominee’s “politics” in the broad sense.”

Our High Court is like this as well, people can appeal to the High Court on various issues to see if they are lawful.

But our High Court is not as politicised, and I wrote on the other thread about how issues that are decided by the Supreme Court in America are dealt with differently in Australia.

I can’t work out why, since we both inherit law from England, both are federations, both have a federal Supreme/High court, the courts should be similar, but yours is more politicised but no one seems to like it being politicised so I don’t see the benefit and neither do I see why it should be politicised based on law alone as it would be like Australia’s then.

Maybe since you have a longer constitution and a bill of rights, this gives the Supreme Court extra things they can make decisions on

192

Vasilis 02.18.16 at 2:34 pm

“saying whether Trump is a threat is, admittedly, a much more difficult problem” than maybe breathing? Taking contrarian positions and inventing reasons to write positively about reactionaries seems to be reaching an apex with Trump. It is hard for you to say whether a xenophobe authoritarian with non existent self-restraint and who can’t stand losing is a threat in a system where a fundamentally decent human being like Obama is ordering drone attacks without any oversight and authorization. Right? That’s hard?

Again, like in the previous discussion, the OP is trolling the readership.

193

John Holbo 02.18.16 at 2:41 pm

“Not biting”

The conditioning is starting to have its desired effect!

194

Plume 02.18.16 at 3:07 pm

John,

Still not getting your desire to see the Dems pick a conservative for the Court out of some inchoate fear of what might happen later. It’s kind of like a frightened little village, having a lottery to choose which citizen it sends to the ogre in the woods to be devoured, instead of uniting together to fight him. They do, after all, outnumber him, and the ogre is all hair, no teeth.

And with the Court’s rightward tilt heading into at least its third decade, why capitulate to this? In fact, the only way to counter/offset/balance that tilt is by choosing someone to the left of liberal. A liberal doesn’t stop the march to the right. When the GOP makes its choices, it generally picks far-right extremists, and gets many of them through. They are further to the right than “liberal” is to the left, which means no offset, no counter, no balance if they even pick center-left.

But in a more general sense, why do some people keep insisting that the Dems always make that gesture of reconciliation, or compromise, or “reasonableness”? Do the Republicans? I can’t remember the last time they did.

It’s that attitude, coming from the center-left, which will guarantee the right’s dominance across the levers of power for generations.

195

John Holbo 02.18.16 at 3:11 pm

“It’s kind of like a frightened little village, having a lottery to choose which citizen it sends to the ogre in the woods to be devoured, instead of uniting together to fight him. They do, after all, outnumber him, and the ogre is all hair, no teeth.”

I wish I agreed. Dems will not outnumber Republics, power-wise, if the Reps win the White House and hold both houses of Congress next year.

196

John Holbo 02.18.16 at 3:14 pm

“But in a more general sense, why do some people keep insisting that the Dems always make that gesture of reconciliation, or compromise, or “reasonableness”?”

Just to be clear: I’m not proposing Posner as a gesture of reconciliation.

197

bianca steele 02.18.16 at 3:34 pm

Plume’s question is the right one, though.

198

bianca steele 02.18.16 at 3:35 pm

Even if every comment I post is preemptively defined by the Blog as increasing my derpiness level.

199

John Holbo 02.18.16 at 3:35 pm

“It is hard for you to say whether a xenophobe authoritarian with non existent self-restraint and who can’t stand losing is a threat”

But Trump isn’t President YET. (I’m glad to bring you that good news, at least.) The question I was asking was: whether Trump can win against a Dem? Is he a threat to win?

200

John Holbo 02.18.16 at 3:38 pm

“Plume’s question is the right one, though.”

Well, I deny that it’s the right one to ask ME, at any rate. I plead innocent as charged.

201

bianca steele 02.18.16 at 3:42 pm

Then maybe the right question to ask is why the question your post raises is the wrong question to ask you, generally and/or in this instance.

202

Plume 02.18.16 at 3:47 pm

Okay. Fair enough about the analogy. How about one that says the villagers send sacrificial victims to the ogre, but the ogre attacks them anyway and eats the villagers. He doesn’t care at all about the make-nice gesture. It’s meaningless to him.

(Kinda like Agamemnon at Aulis)

When I play out the possible scenarios, this is what I see:

Obama selects a conservative, the Republicans, due to incredible pressure from their base and the right-wing media, vote him down anyway. Obama has just wasted his time while sending the message that he and the Dems are more concerned with Republican approval than their own base, or picking the best possible judge. Or, Obama picks a conservative, the GOP confirms her or him, and Obama and the Dems have just handed the Republicans a victory. And, again, the ogre doesn’t care about the gesture and he’s going to try to eat them later anyway.

Let’s say Hillary wins the White House and that conservative judge was added. She will likely pick two or three more justices, and probably will try to placate the Republicans too, and she’ll pick moderates, at best. Two of the three will likely replace “liberals” on the Court, so it tilts further to the right.

Or, Trump wins, he picks severely conservative judges, and the tilt to the right is even more ridiculous.

I’m not seeing any scenario in which the Court moves to the left — which is desperately needed — unless Sanders is elected. But if Obama does as suggested, his job is made that much more difficult, and it wasn’t necessary.

Anyway, hope you and Belle are doing well.

203

Richard Cottrell 02.18.16 at 4:11 pm

The late Christopher Lasch had a good shot at America’s collective breakdown way back in 1979. In ‘The Culture of Narcissism’ he described a political type that fits Trump to a ‘T.’ Soaked in hedonistic egoism, a classical instance of the pathological narcisissm which Lasch argued had taken over the American mind. And that was 35 years ago. So, time like the ever rolling stream, has finally brought Trump to the American yard. Taking Lasch’s argument forward it is no use blaming Trump for what he is, but there is every reason to ask why America entertains force which is not fascism but a dangerous polarised populism. Fascism is a branch of the enlightenment (like socialism). Populism is narrow and specific and arises very largely in navel gazing cultures. In Trump many Americans see themselves and they like what they see.

204

Plume 02.18.16 at 4:24 pm

@203,

I think the Trump phenomenon is more about his supporters than Trump himself. He’s clearly pushed a fascist agenda, though people can argue whether or not he’s a fascist himself, or just an opportunist selling snake oil — perhaps it’s both. But his supporters are saying okay to fascism and dangerous levels of all around bigotry.

From a survey of Republicans in South Carolina:

From Think Progress

Public Policy Polling’s latest survey of South Carolina Republicans yields some shocking results for those who assume most of their fellow Americans don’t take issue with gays living in the country and believe it was a good thing the Confederacy was vanquished 150 years ago.

The poll, which involved 897 likely Republican primary voters who were contacted Sunday and Monday, revealed significant support for banning homosexuals from the country (20 percent in favor), shutting down U.S. mosques (29 percent), creating a national database of Muslims (47 percent), banning Islam (25 percent), and allowing South Carolina to hang the Confederate flag on the state capitol grounds in Columbia (54 percent).

In fact, more than a quarter of respondents (30 percent) said they wished the South had won the Civil War.

205

John Holbo 02.18.16 at 4:30 pm

“He doesn’t care at all about the make-nice gesture. It’s meaningless to him. “

That’s why I wouldn’t advocate a make-nice gesture. The Posner suggestion is not a make-nice gesture.

I’m in favor of maximizing the good/minimizing the bad for Dems. In a case where there is not much likely upside and a very serious downside, the optimal strategy is to minimize the downside, rather than going for the upside.

206

John Holbo 02.18.16 at 4:31 pm

If it makes you feel any better, the Posner suggestion would, predictably, enrage Republicans.

207

Bruce Wilder 02.18.16 at 4:37 pm

ZM @ 191: since [the U.S.] have a longer constitution [than Australia]

The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia is considerably longer than the 1787 Constitution of the United States — something you could see immediately, if you just eyeballed the text.

I used Word to do a word count of the 1787 text and the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900 text minus the preamble and legislative framing (which are not considered part of Australia’s Constitution). Australia’s Constitution was more than two and half times as long . The U.S. has added more amendments, and custom tacks U.S. amendments on as additional verbiage, while I think Australia revises the official text, but it isn’t enough to tip the balance. The Statute of Westminster Adoption Act 1942 and the Australia Act 1986 can also be considered part of Australia’s Constitution, but I didn’t consider them.

208

Detlef 02.18.16 at 5:04 pm

RNB @161

That statement is a bit puzzling? I remember reading lots of articles and posts by Krugman, Ezra Klein and others in 2008/09 who said that of course a universal and still cheaper health care system is possible.

I mean just look at the numbers.
The source is the WHO 2015, last discussed year in the report is 2013.

Health expenditures 2013 as a percentage of GDP:
USA 17.1% (2013 GDP $ 16.7 trillion)
(8% public expenditures, 9.1% private expenditures)

Just to give a comparison: Israel spends 7.6%, the UK 9.1%.
The richer EU countries somewhere between 10-12% with the Netherlands 12.9% at the upper end.

If you look at per capita numbers in 2013, the picture isn´t that much different.
The USA with around $ 9000, the richer EU countries around $ 5000-6000 (PPP).

Which means that the USA does spend a lot more on health care. But unfortunately that spending isn´t reflected in health care rankings. The USA definitely isn´t ranked #1 there.

US private health expenditures alone are at the same level as all UK expenditures. So why would the costs for 71% of the US population increase in a single payer system?
Unless of course US citizens don´t see co-pays and deductibles as costs?

Could you (or someone else) explain this to this German?

209

Francis Spufford 02.18.16 at 5:22 pm

ZM@191,

I-am-not-a-lawyer, so take this with a pinch of salt, but as I understand it both Britain and Australia, like all the other countries that come out of the Westminster parliamentary system, came up with a different method of ensuring the independence of the judiciary from the 18th c recipe solidified into place in the US. Rather than declaring that it is a separate branch of government, and then staffing it through the patronage of elected politicians, but with tenure for life, we allow our courts, including the highest one, to be staffed by a self-governing legal profession. New judges are chosen by existing judges, and we rely on the internal culture of the profession to keep things uncorrupt. This kind of system is likely to be small ‘c’ conservative in terms of its own professional norms, but it doesn’t align with party politics very easily. The party with the majority in parliament gets to choose the Lord Chancellor, Solicitor-General etc, but they only preside over a High Court/Supreme Court not of the government’s choosing. The rather tacky America-philia of the New Labour years in Britain disguised the difference a bit by giving the British institutions US-sounding names (so modern!) but essentially the US system is a cleaned-up arms-length 18th c patronage model, and the Westminster systems are on a cleaned-up 19th c reform-of-the-professions model. There’s a similar difference in our senior civil services.

210

bianca steele 02.18.16 at 5:30 pm

My comment above was glib. (I shoulda just not commented.) It occurs to me that better first questions would be: are we talking about the same question? was Plume’s question addressed to you? was your comment that “Well, I deny that it’s the right one to ask ME, at any rate. I plead innocent as charged” a statement that the question was out of bounds? if it wasn’t addressed directly to you, was it out of bounds because it could have been interpreted as addressed to you? if so, what is the purpose of a comments section? but if not, then the right question is, why do you mention it? Similarly, I’d hope that my answer could be interpreted in a number of ways, some more charitable than others. But that’s derpily long.

To be clear, the question I was referring to was:

why do some people keep insisting that the Dems always make that gesture of reconciliation, or compromise, or “reasonableness”?

Which occurred to me when I read the OP, because it seems to me that your suggestion would be rather typical for a number of Democratic thinkers at various times. So I said that Plume was asking the right question. Of course, if Plume thinks he knows the answer, I’m not sure why it is the right question for him. My next question would be, why do other places and times seem able to generate a consensus stopping-point, a resting place between the extremes, while the US doesn’t? One answer might be that the right is always, well, right, and the left just opposes it and hopes something will stick. Which I personally don’t find very satisfactory.

211

Plume 02.18.16 at 5:53 pm

At the risk of overdoing analogies . . . . cuz I probably like them too much:

It goes without saying that America is divided along partisan lines. Severely. We should be able to assume, then, that the two parties have different agendas that reflect those divisions — though I think that’s been overblown, and that both parties work for the same masters . . . One plays good cop to the other’s bad cop, etc. etc.

Okay, so you have two guys in a foot race, and each has to carry a bag full of stuff (his or her agenda). The Republican stumbles a lot, his stuff falls out of his bag quite often, and the Democrat constantly stops to pick up her fallen peer and his fallen stuff. They both start to run again. The Democrat stumbles, and her stuff falls on the ground as well. She looks around and her Republican peer just keeps running. He doesn’t look back. He just keeps running toward the finish line.

Yes, it’s very nice of her to help him out. Yes, it’s a sign she’s the better person. But because she’s helped him out several times, he wins the race, gets his agenda through, and he never helped her, and he doesn’t care that she helped him. Plus, he won’t change the way he runs future races, just because she’s the better person and helped him.

212

anon 02.18.16 at 5:54 pm

Detlef @208,

“Could you (or someone else) explain this to this German?”

If someone does successfully take you up on that, could you then explain it to this American? Because I think a lot of us are as confused as you are.

Lately I’ve been getting the same bizarro world “we’ve always been at war with Eurasia” vibe that I use to get all the time after 9/11. You keep having to double checking the record to make sure you’re not misremembering or going crazy. “No, this really is the same person who said the exact opposite thing to criticize Obama in 2008 and who is now telling me it’s a sin to disagree with Obama–I’m not, in fact, losing my mind.”

213

RNB 02.18.16 at 5:56 pm

@208. Great data points, Detlef. Have to be very quick. And just from eyballing your data

If Sanders entitles every American to Dutch levels of health care
And if America due to being a bigger and poorer country would have to spend more of its GDP on health care than do the Dutch
Then it seems to me possible that Sanders plan would yield paychecks smaller after health plan costs are deducted for at least many Americans (unlike in Europe, the costs will be seen on the paycheck because it won’t be funded via VAT)
It’s true that many of Americans may save more ultimately by not having co-pays and deductibles
It’s also true that even if many Americans were paying more that Sanders health plan may be worth it due to the gains in the universality of coverage and the quality of available care.

But I am saying that Sanders cannot defend such a complex plan which will produce some immediate losers in this election campaign for two reasons.

He’ll be blitzed with ads as a tax-and-spend liberal, and this will raise grave concerns that he is making health care more expensive which may not be entirely false and putting it in the government hands to ration

Than this will lead other Democratic candidates to run on Obamacare rather than Sanders plan.

Then the Democratic Party is routed, and the Republicans win everything.

At the same time, Obamacare has begun to reduce costs and massively expanded coverage.

I agree with Sanders plan but see it as a political loser given the constraints of the election cycle and the probable defection of other Democratic candidates whom Sanders has not won over.

Again I don’t see Sanders’ chances of being able to deliver big gains as justifying the risks of running him, as his unfavorability ratings would begin to skyrocket once the Republicans launched attack ads on him.

Plus, I do not like at all the way his camp is responding to the charge of inflated growth rates. Kevin Drum has written incisively about this today.

I hope you find others to have this important discussion with. I am open to being convinced otherwise.

214

RNB 02.18.16 at 6:05 pm

Again if Sanders is the nominee I would definitely support him. Clinton surely has done nothing to alienate people from him. This was not true with Obama in 2008. She ok’ed Mark Penn running ads about Obama not protecting white children from terrorists, the Jeremiah Wright issue, pix of Obama in a rather sharp turban. I was really unpleased by the nature of her campaign, but at the same time she allowed Obama to be tested and left the Republicans with nothing to hit Obama with. I really think Sanders needs to be tested. People are in la-la land about his electability at this point, relying on meaningless polls of people most of whom are probably not expressing any opinion about Sanders and who have never seen a single negative ad or heard a negative word uttered about him.

215

Plume 02.18.16 at 6:06 pm

bianca 210,

To be honest, I’m not really sure anymore about the intended object of that question, after I read your comments. It was directed at John and not John. At him and not him, but “them.” Probably more “them” than John.

His idea regarding how to proceed is in the air. I think a lot of people agree with him about this. A lot. And I don’t think many agree with my suggestion of appointing a true leftist . . . . just as so many disagreed with those of us who felt Single Payer was the right way to go . . . . not only from a moral and ethical POV, but from an economic and cost-effectiveness POV . . . and, ironically, from a political one as well.

In the Scalia case, I think it’s actually far more “savvy” politically to nominate someone who causes damage to the GOP if they say no — aside from considerations of morality, ethics, etc. And I don’t think it’s politically savvy to reward them for their obstructionism, etc. Ever.

216

Brett Dunbar 02.18.16 at 6:32 pm

The republicans seem determined to oppose anyone Obama nominates. Under the circumstances it doesn’t seem to make sense to nominate a fairly right wing judge if they would face almost exactly the same opposition as a liberal. If you are going to have a massive battle to get anyone through you might as well fight for a victory worth winning. The same way the republicans go for hard right candidates and get them.

Maybe compromise on a moderate later, but go for real liberal first.

217

ZedBlank 02.18.16 at 7:10 pm

My hopeful take is that Trump can’t win because he’s too stupid and arrogant. He is able to parrot a few stock phrases, and when the opportunity comes to bully someone (Jeb!), he pounces, but he doesn’t know the first thing about ideological messaging. He just shoots from the hip, and some of his schtick has worked, mostly due to blind luck. His remarks about Bush lying and the Iraq war are just one example; if he were able to listen to his advisers, he might have a chance, but he’s got no impulse control. His support has peaked, and his negatives are too extreme for him to win in the general election. The Democrats could run a golden retriever against Trump and he’d still lose.

RNB keeps mentioning negative ads. Yes, there will undoubtedly be some nasty things said about Sanders, but the same is true of Trump. Trump’s whole appeal is based on the mistaken impression that he’s a straight shooter. But scratch him a bit, and there’s nothing but hypocrisy, and all kinds of very obvious inconsistencies, particularly those that will paint him as what he is: a vain, out-of-touch rich person with occasional liberal sympathies. A Manhattan billionaire. Sanders at least has a record he can run on. He should be able to eat Trump for lunch.

@RNB, 214: Clinton surely has done nothing to alienate people from him

I’ll assume you’re talking about the general population; nationwide attack ads, etc. You are surely aware that she and her keepers have been aggressively attempting to undermine his support among relatively affluent liberals (yes, they are a contemptible lot, but they are still people.) Funny thing is, it ain’t working that well. So she’s already using the big guns to win the liberal intelligentsia, who are much more ignorant and narrow-minded than the general population. When it comes to Joe T shirt, it’s going to be even harder to draw voters away.

218

Consumatopia 02.18.16 at 8:30 pm

I heard Sandra Day O’Connor is saying Obama should name Scalia’s replacement. Hoping to come out of retirement? ;-)

Re:Friedman, I think Yglesias had the best take from the pro-wonk/Sanders-skeptical side of the fence. http://www.vox.com/2016/2/18/11041838/bernienomics-wonks Not only did he point to specific assumptions in Friedman’s analysis that look implausible (a task which seemed to be beneath the dignity of Drum, Krugman, Goolsbee and CEA peeps) but I like his view of the larger situation:

“However, on another level, the Friedman paper and the attacks on it from Democratic Party wonks are an interesting window into how the primary is playing out behind the scenes. Clinton has achieved such overwhelming party insider support that the Sanders campaign is largely cut off from access to the kind of para-party policy wonk universe that would allow Sanders to release campaign proposals that pass muster by the traditional rules of the game.”

I’m not sure Yglesias meant it that way, but that description is a fantastic argument for Sanders’ candidacy, and why I’m very glad that his people would call out “the establishment of the establishment”. Steve Waldman made a strong argument along those lines here: http://www.interfluidity.com/v2/6400.html

On the single payer front, while Thorpe’s cost analysis of Sanders plan has gotten pushback, it’s definitely true that some people with nice employer-provided health insurance, or fully subsidized ACA plans, might end up paying more under single-payer. But, in case we’ve forgotten, a lot of people out there are paying more for less coverage today than they did in 2013. It’s not like liberal wonks spent a lot of time warning us about that back in 2007-2009. (Remember how “if you like your plan, you can keep it” was retconned from “half-true” to “pants on fire” in late 2013?) It’s almost as though everyone who had a stake in crafting ACA is motivated to find or imagine flaws in any proposal that would replace ACA.

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Bruce Wilder 02.18.16 at 8:48 pm

Richard Cottrell @ 203: Fascism is a branch of the enlightenment (like socialism). Populism is narrow and specific and arises very largely in navel gazing cultures.

I thought the remarks about applying Lasch to Trump were interesting, but I think you are wrong about both Fascism and Populism.

Historical Fascism, it seems to me, was far less a product of the Enlightenment than a reaction against the Enlightenment produced from relicts of feudalism and the pre-modern agrarian order. While socialism, arguably, was an extension of the Enlightenment’s optimistic desire to rationally design and reform, Fascism involved a rejection of rationalism in favor of “blood” and violence for its own sake. Fascism is hard to define, precisely because it seemed to pick up disparate ideas and elements and combine them into a political chimera in its attempt to embrace of modernity amidst a deep ambivalence and insecurity concerning lost roots of community and tradition, deference and loyalty.

Populism isn’t a totalitarian political ideology; rather it is a label for a kind of political appeal, aimed at people who hold the political attitudes and receptivity of (“right-wing”) authoritarian followers. [Quotes around “right-wing” indicate that I intend the term of art adopted by political psychologists in their study of the cluster of political attitudes formerly (mis)labeled the authoritarian personality.]

A key distinction regarding authoritarian followers is that they are followers. They don’t share the psychology, or philosophies, of their leaders. The political pathologies associated with authoritarian followers have a lot to do with this group of followers being so easily persuaded by unscrupulous demagogues.

Difference between leaders and followers in populist alignments can be quite sharp. One example: although prone to xenophobia, authoritarian followers are natural economic egalitarians, but they are so easily manipulated by formulaic poses and language that they tend to attract leaders, who are oriented to social dominance and may be seeking to establish or maintain strongly hierarchical political arrangements with themselves on top. So, a demagogue may capture a following by xenophobic rhetoric. Authoritarian followers feel economically insecure and want their membership in larger whole to confer economic benefits; they want to be taken care of, and are strongly supportive of broad-based social insurance arrangements (though, of course, prone to be jealous and suspicious that the Other is taking advantage.)

Authoritarian followers are distressingly predictable and prone to doing and encouraging reprehensible things. At base, they are dependent and frightened, and making them more dependent and more frightened will just make them more predictable (and more reprehensibly extreme in their attitudes). (It is why a well-timed Terror Alert could predictably provide George W. Bush with a few percentage point uptake in the polls during election week, November 2004.)

I guess my point is that Trump may be the narcissist, but his following isn’t. His following, I suspect — I haven’t seen a lot of genuinely insightful analysis — is suffering economically and is scared. They may be racist, xenophobic, sexist and all the rest, but mostly the extremity of those political expressions are symptoms of economic problems of plutocracy that we shouldn’t be ignoring and by-products of uncontested demagogic political leadership.

The relationship of historical Fascism to Populism is the economic distress that set masses of authoritarian followers into political motion and available to worst kinds of unscrupulous demagogues.

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Bloix 02.18.16 at 8:59 pm

In his younger days, when he was in thrall to vulgar economics, Posner advocated baby-selling. http://www.jstor.org/stable/724219?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

He might have some difficulty getting confirmed with that history.

221

ZM 02.18.16 at 10:01 pm

Bruce Wilder,

Well even if the Australian constitution is longer when you do a word count, it is a much duller text. If you read it you will see why I thought it was shorter without doing a word count, because it is very sensible and dull, not like the American constitution. Maybe the elevation of your constitution has influenced your Supreme Court to make such a role for themselves compared to our High Court.

Francis Spufford,

In Australia the Prime Minister appoints the Justices to the High Court on the advice of the Commonwealth Attorney General who consults with the Attorney Generals of all the States. And they have to be under 70 which is the compulsory retirement age, so John Holbo’s preference for a 77 year old to be appointed primarily on the basis of politics and age would not happen in Australia.

So it is like the American system I think.

222

PGD 02.18.16 at 10:24 pm

Trump isn’t a fascist. Militarism was essential and central to fascism in both Germany and Italy, Trump is clearly the most anti-militarist of the Republican candidates and would have the advantage over Hillary Clinton in that area as well. The endless pearl-clutching about Trump as Musso-Hitler reborn is tiresome. Trump is scary and random in many ways, sure. But if Trump is the incarnation of evil for seeming to suggest in one of his random off the cuff comments that Muslims be registered in a database and not be given visas, then what to say of supporters of our accepted establishment policies, which have killed and displaced millions of innocent Muslims and effectively register and monitor every single American through mass surveillance?

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geo 02.18.16 at 10:28 pm

On Trump, Lasch, and narcissism:

“Narcissism” has an everyday and a psychoanalytic meaning. A story in the September 4 New York Times illustrates the everyday meaning: “The political rise of Donald J. Trump has drawn attention to one personality trait in particular: narcissism. Although narcissism does not lend itself to a precise definition, most psychologists agree that it comprises self-centeredness, boastfulness, feelings of entitlement and a need for admiration.” Trump is certainly a narcissist in this sense, but the psychoanalytic sense is different: a weak, beleaguered self rather than an overbearing, assertive one. A disciple of Lasch’s (i.e., me) has described the narcissistic personality in these terms: “wary of intimate, permanent relationships, which entail dependence and thus may trigger infantile rage; beset by feelings of inner emptiness and unease . . . ; preoccupied with personal “growth” and the consumption of novel sensations; prone to alternating self-images of grandiosity and abjection; liable to feel toward everyone in authority the same combination of rage and terror that the infant feels for whoever it depends on; unable to identify emotionally with past and future generations and therefore unable to accept the prospect of aging, decay, and death,”
(http://thebaffler.com/salvos/dialectic-love-authority)

On “populism” being “aimed at people who hold the political attitudes and receptivity of (“right-wing”) authoritarian followers”: Can we be a bit more respectful of the term’s history in the United States? It is, after all, the name of the most significant anti-capitalist movement this country has seen. Cf. Lawrence Goodwyn, Democratic Promise and Lasch’s “The Decline of Populism” in The Agony of the American Left.

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christian_h 02.18.16 at 10:29 pm

I think people are in la-la-land about Clinton’s electability, to be honest. I don’t think she stands a chance of beating any mainstream Republican, esp as the economy is about to go South pretty badly and she will be running as the candidate of “keep doing what we’ve been doing”. As for Trump or Cruz, they won’t beat either Democratic candidate unless a huge scandal blows up – which is again much more likely with the Clinton sleaze (yes, it’s real – those who think it is all a vast rightwing conspiracy should explain how it is then possible nothing at all has stuck to Obama after 8 years).

225

William Berry 02.18.16 at 10:35 pm

Excellent analysis on the political dynamics of Populism by Bruce the Dour.

I do think there is something to Cottrell’s point about Fascism being a product of The Enlightenment, however. Fascist leaders surely had a knowledge of the socio-cultural and economic histories of their political milieux that was superior to that of their mass follower-ships.

It could be argued that, in something like a historical-dialectical sense, reactionary, anti-Enlightenment political irrationalism , from Joseph de Maistre (its most eloquent early spokesman) to Mussolini, Franco, and Pinochet, was a “product” of the Enlightenment.

Think of the Reformation and the Counter Reformation, e.g., or Marx’s analysis of the relationship between Feudalism and Capitalism.

226

William Berry 02.18.16 at 10:42 pm

Also, too, agree with geo, for the most part, but would respectfully suggest that the authoritarian populism (and yes, there is a whiff of fascism about the whole thing) that BW speaks of (Hofstadter’s version, essentially) is rather a different animal than the Populism of the late C19 and early C20 (The Grange, Bryan, et al).

227

Mdc 02.18.16 at 10:52 pm

“Populism” seems like an unenlightening term, to me- both in this case and in general.

228

Bruce Wilder 02.18.16 at 11:02 pm

me @ 116: “Trump seems a horror show to me.”

That just didn’t seem to make a sufficient impression for some people. I wasn’t emphatic enough?

js. @ 158: In what possible world is he preferable to Clinton?

Here’s the thing: what Trump says is sometimes horrible, sometimes (on economics) not entirely wrong. Mrs. Clinton, as she never tires of reminding us, is an experienced doer.

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Bruce Wilder 02.18.16 at 11:17 pm

ZM @ 221

The 1787 Constitution may have been short in part because the authors were inexperienced and had few modern examples of the art from which to learn. Their document may have been short, because they used elegant but imprecise prose to express general principles, which had to be elaborated into details in part by courts. But, they also made a lot of rookie mistakes. Amendments had to be promised to secure ratification and the amendments arguably included some additional errors.

I don’t think either factor explains the politicization of the American Supreme Court though. The desire to use constitutionalism to enact Mr. Herbert Spencer’s social statics and secure the power of private property against the public power of the state — that was always the rub. Money and power.

230

John Holbo 02.18.16 at 11:21 pm

“And I don’t think it’s politically savvy to reward them for their obstructionism, etc. Ever.”

It kind of depends what ‘savvy’ means. Take the following sentence.

“I don’t think it’s militarily savvy to stage a tactical retreat because, in the end, you want to be moving forward not back.”

This might be true, but is it always true that you shouldn’t retreat? Is prudence never the better part of valor? I have my doubts.

231

LFC 02.18.16 at 11:50 pm

PGD @222
our accepted establishment policies, which…effectively register and monitor every single American through mass surveillance?

If every single American were indeed being effectively registered and monitored through mass surveillance, then the San Bernardino shootings likely would never have happened and the FBI would not have had to go to court to get an order directing Apple to get into the phone of one of the deceased shooters.

The NSA collects phone metadata, and I think (though am not sure) that the cong. authorization for even that has expired; in any event, metadata (the number one has called) is not the same as content (what was said), as was repeated ad nauseum, and never afaict tell effectively refuted, when the program was being debated in the media.

Cyberhackers may be more able to monitor one’s movements online than the natl. sec. agencies. At any rate, I remain unpersuaded that the U.S. is an under an official regime of mass surveillance so total and far-reaching that privacy vis-a-vis the govt has effectively ceased to exist. If that were the case, then the myriad of orgs. concerned w safeguarding privacy shd surrender and close up shop. That they haven’t done so suggests they think privacy is still a thing that exists and needs to be protected from various threats.

232

ZM 02.19.16 at 12:15 am

Bruce Wilder,

“I don’t think either factor explains the politicization of the American Supreme Court though. The desire to use constitutionalism to enact Mr. Herbert Spencer’s social statics and secure the power of private property against the public power of the state — that was always the rub. Money and power.”

If that is the case, then you have a problem with the rule of law. The courts are the institution that have the most responsibility for ensuring the rule of law, and what you are saying is that money and power have corrupted your courts.

If we have a problem in Australia, we have a Royal Commission into the problem, like into bushfires and improper behaviour by union officials.

Do you have a similar process that could look at the influence of money and power in your courts, if you are right about this being the reason that your Supreme Court is more political than our High Court?

233

engels 02.19.16 at 12:19 am

234

js. 02.19.16 at 12:30 am

BW @228:

Your “ordered preference” is for someone who’s professed to want to put me and all of my family members on a national registry over someone who has called that out as the bigoted nonsense it is. Respectfully, I don’t think we’re going to see eye-to-eye on this; I’m sure you can understand why.

235

engels 02.19.16 at 12:31 am

Geo, thanks for the link – really interesting piece.

236

Bruce Wilder 02.19.16 at 12:47 am

ZM @ 232:

If that is the case, then you have a problem with the rule of law. The courts are the institution that have the most responsibility for ensuring the rule of law, and what you are saying is that money and power have corrupted your courts.

duh

and from way back when, too. Some conservatives seem to want to believe that politicization was started by Earl Warren taking the Constitution seriously as a bulwark of civil liberties and personal freedom. But, the truth is, the Court was arguing about whether business corporations were citizens and the inviolability of contract trumped state regulation of business well before the American Civil War.

there are norms of judicial conduct and so on and so forth. Federal judges serve life terms and impeachment by the House, with trial and removal by the Senate is the constitutional provision — it’s not much used in practice, for obvious reasons.

237

Plume 02.19.16 at 12:55 am

John @230,

“This might be true, but is it always true that you shouldn’t retreat? Is prudence never the better part of valor? I have my doubts.”

Not saying one should never, under any circumstances, retreat. Just saying you shouldn’t ever reward your opponent for being a ____ (fill in the blank). If the tactical retreat is on your terms, in order to live to fight another day, it can sometimes be useful. But I think the prudence thing, the tactical retreat thing, and the rewarding your opponent thing aren’t really connected. And I don’t think we should make the connection.

All of that said, I’m still not getting why it makes sense to retreat and regroup in the case of Scalia’s replacement. Not seeing why Obama and the Dems should do this, what purpose it serves, etc. etc. The GOP appears intractably against even allowing an up or down vote, and if it ever allows one, I doubt an Obama nominee would get through, short of Scalia’s clone.

To me, if the choice is another Scalia or just accepting the 4-4 impasse, I take the latter. Worst case scenario, if the GOP wins the White House, it nominates a Scalia clone, thus doing what Obama would have done for them (if he wants to get a nominee through). Or, we get Clinton or Sanders, in which case Obama would have made their lives much more difficult.

So my choice is — and I don’t think this is what Obama will do — find a true leftist, a person with a stellar record of battling for “the people.” If it’s a she, all the better. If she’s Hispanic, Native American, black or Asian, better still. Gay, better still. And I’d throw in openly atheist for good measure. But it’s not going to happen. He’s likely to nominate a moderate, and it won’t get to a vote.

238

RNB 02.19.16 at 1:03 am

@234 You’re raising a social problem about which BW cannot bring his great erudition to bear; therefore, this problem which concerns you and me cannot be as important as what his cynicism has been focused on. So you should probably just shut up, so we can get back to BW talking what he knows about which is by definition what is worth knowing about. All we need to add is Holbo mocking people who “cry” about white privilege. It’s CT!

239

Plume 02.19.16 at 1:09 am

PGD @222,

It wasn’t just an off the cuff remark by Trump concerning Muslims. He went into more detail about this than most of the things he’s talked about, and he repeated it under questioning. He called for a total shutdown of all Muslims entering America — including Muslim Americans who may have left the country before Il Duce takes office.

He’s said we should shut down all mosques in America and impose mass surveillance on Muslims. His comments on Mexican immigrants are textbook fascist. His treatment of BLM protesters at his rallies and the reaction of his supporters is straight out of the Beer Hall Putsch.

And the entire “Make America Great Again” is classic fascism, but worse in our case. Because we’re not some defeated, humiliated former power. We’re already the most power nation on earth.

He’s pushing fascism. It’s obvious. And his rabid, frothing at the mouth supporters love it. See the stats I list above at @204.

Also:
Umberto Eco’s Eternal Fascism:
Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt
By Umberto Eco

240

RNB 02.19.16 at 1:19 am

@222. Trump is not for militarism? Is this a joke? So when did critics of militarism start dismissing major diplomatic efforts as a “horrible, disgusting, absolutely horrible deal” with a “terrorist nation.” This is how Trump speaks of Iran which he seems ready to bomb. Obama, Clinton and Kerry have enjoyed diplomatic success; he wants to blow the deal up. His new friend Sheldon Adelson wants to drop a nuclear bomb on Iran. Trump is also an open advocate of torture. You and BW can tell us that the world would be safer with nuclear codes in his hands than HRC’s. Laura Ingraham agrees with you.

241

Keith 02.19.16 at 1:39 am

I think the reason the US courts are so political is partly that all other Liberal democracies outside the USA have Parliamentary systems where economic and social policy is made by the leaders of the Parties in Parliament who enjoy deference based on the tradition of the Queen in parliament as the origin of political and legal authority. Plus the fact that in practice both top Judges and the party leaders come from the same class of usually well off people with a shared education. In the UK case at Eton and Oxbridge. All the top people as they are called just happen to be on the same page and share an essentially Utilitarian non religious ethical code of conduct. So reforms can be introduced by Parliament based on liberal ideas shared by the Judges who thus stay within their bounds. In south America the Law is based on Roman Law and codification so this plays the same role as deference based on Parliamentary supremacy. The USA is odd in having a system where there are multiple power centres at the political level who can all claim political authority but not legal finality. Only the SCOTUS has that as the interpreter of the Constitution. The Constitution has become a kind of holy grail that can solve all problems if you get the priests in the temple of the Constitution to interpret it one way rather than another. It is a kind of idolatry. With political factions vying to get their team of priests on to the temple board of Government to get the holy writ to advance their objectives.

242

christian_h 02.19.16 at 1:55 am

I think a major issue with the “nominate a moderate” plan is that what the DC crowd considers moderate – a corporate shill who is socially liberal – will not be considered moderate by the people outside the bubble. The whole strategy is designed to win over the Washington Post editorial page; this is of course the usual Democratic party strategy, the same that drives the Clinton campaign. But it is misreading the public mood completely. I don’t think there is any real constituency that will make this moderation strategy worthwhile.

243

otpup 02.19.16 at 1:59 am

RNB @213 Does it follow that other Dems running on Obamacare is really the death knell of Sanders (presumably by crashing his credibility)? 1) Isn’t even HRC pledging to tweak Obamacare? and therefore won’t every other Dem be pledging to improve it as well? 2) Will credibility even matter to Dems who have only a marginal preference for either of the plans (marginal especially relative to the GOP alternatives) or the sought-to-be-preserved blue collar voters who probably won’t care at all. The credibility claim, as I understand it, it based on regard for “expert opinion” or technocratic nuance which has been notably lacking this election cycle, and perhaps for good reason. Cheers.

244

ZM 02.19.16 at 2:13 am

I re-read your constitution and it is about as dull as ours except right at the start, and only slightly more interesting due to the more old fashioned writing and spelling. It is mostly full of what the government is ordered out like and what powers it has.

So I don’t think the constitution can be the reason for your Supreme Court being politicized.

Bruce Wilder,

The court has not found corporations are exactly citizens or they could vote etc, isn’t it only a matter of letting them make political donations? I am pretty sure businesses can make political donations here too, but no one went to the trouble of getting them recognized as corporate citizens for the purpose.

I don’t know what your court ruled about whether contracts can be subject to regulation, but I am pretty sure they can be subject to regulation but you have to make the regulations coherent with any principles of contract in the common law. This is the principle of coherence.

Apart from impeaching a judge in particular, which seems unlikely, is there not a way the government can investigate the courts in America to try and get them to be less political? That is what our Royal Comission process does, they investigate the problem and make a series of recommendations to the government.

245

js. 02.19.16 at 2:28 am

RNB @238: I don’t quite feel up to getting into an internet fight right now (or mostly ever!)—but yes, it’s a bit galling.

246

John Holbo 02.19.16 at 2:32 am

“The whole strategy is designed to win over the Washington Post editorial page; this is of course the usual Democratic party strategy, the same that drives the Clinton campaign. But it is misreading the public mood completely.”

That’s pretty much the strategy, apart from the bit about misreading the public mood. The point of nominating a moderate – even a moderate conservative – is not that it will win over the public, left or right, much less make the Republicans grateful. The point is that it just might work, i.e. the nomination just might go through while Obama is still in office. 10 Republicans might peel off and vote to confirm someone like Posner, on the grounds that he’s an acceptable pick and we Republicans should take what we can get. There are side benefits. I think a Posner-style nomination would produce a certain amount of disarray, on the other side, in a season in which the Republicans will be campaigning on Obama’s judicial radicalism. I think it might cause the public to see the Republicans as more radical and Dems and moderate and reasonable. I don’t think the effect would be large, but it might not be nothing. David Brooks and even National Review would have a hard time complaining about a Posner nomination without looking a bit like idiots. Last and perhaps least: it actually might de-escalate the Supreme Court wars very very slightly, which would be a good thing. But that’s just bonus side stuff. The point is: it might work. That’s the advantage of the strategy: it just might work.

But let there be no mistake about it: Republicans would correctly perceive a Posner nomination as an attempt to get an advantage over them, and also as an act of minor trolling. In this they would be quite correct.

247

Val 02.19.16 at 2:32 am

RNB and js
I find it depressing the way diversity has been treated on this thread. Ignore or mock, by most commenters and the OP, it seems.

I think CT is great in many ways, which is why I keep coming back – really intelligent and informed conversations. But there does seem to be this glaring weakness – well it’s more than weakness, it’s an ethical problem really. Maybe if we could understand it, we could understand why the US is in the really dire political situation facing the US at present. I admit our last Australian Prime Minister was a joke and worse, and many of us despaired that he could ever have been elected, but any country where someone like Trump can be taken seriously as a presidential candidate seems to be in significantly worse trouble.

Seriously I think there is something in this – what is it about the culture that can produce something like CT, where so many commenters are so intelligent, well informed and well meaning, yet apparently unable to take seriously the voices of women and minorities, even when people from those groups are speaking (well virtually) directly to them?

248

John Holbo 02.19.16 at 2:55 am

“yet apparently unable to take seriously the voices of women and minorities, even when people from those groups are speaking (well virtually) directly to them?”

On the assumption that Val is speaking (well virtually) to me(although I wish she would be a bit more direct about it): Val, I think you are equating disagreement with disrespect. With all due respect, I disagree. If people aren’t allowed to disagree, respectfully, you can’t have a conversation. But perhaps I misunderstand you. What is there about my exchange with RNB, for example, that suggests to you I am unable to take seriously the voices of women and minorities? What have I said that is disrespectful?

249

Val 02.19.16 at 3:03 am

JH I thought in this instance it was fair to say as someone (I think it was RNB) suggested, that your responses sounded a bit mocking. But I was by no means directing my comments only or even primarily at you. I was disappointed in your response, but am more concerned by those who seem to ignore the issue, or, as BW seems to do, side-step it in a rather lofty way as if they are above it (as one might some messy thing on the pavement, I suppose).

250

Val 02.19.16 at 3:09 am

Look js has a couple of times mentioned his feelings about Trump and Muslims and it seems to be ignored. I know a bit about this (I don’t want to go into this any further because I don’t want to drag my friends or relations into my conversations, but I do know a bit about it) and some of the things that are said by right wingers here in Australia have made me shudder, let alone the stuff Trump is saying.

251

ZM 02.19.16 at 3:12 am

In terms of the Trump racist policy, in Australia in the 2000s we had a MP Pauline Hanson who was racist, I can’t remember how she got elected in the first place, but then she started her own party. It is difficult to imagine a prospective leader of one of our major parties having that racist policy, possibly a back bencher could say something like that without party support, but not someone who was a choice for Prime Minister or Leader of the Opposition, at least that is what I would expect

252

John Holbo 02.19.16 at 3:19 am

“(I think it was RNB) suggested, that your responses sounded a bit mocking.”

Well, if you weren’t addressing me, alright. My responses to RNB were moderately snarky, of course. But I submit that RNB is no posterchild for irenic interlocution herself. Nor would I ask her to be.

253

engels 02.19.16 at 3:21 am

254

The Temporary Name 02.19.16 at 3:42 am

I re-read your constitution and it is about as dull as ours except right at the start, and only slightly more interesting due to the more old fashioned writing and spelling. It is mostly full of what the government is ordered out like and what powers it has. So I don’t think the constitution can be the reason for your Supreme Court being politicized.

Politician’s nominee requires approval by politicians.

255

ZM 02.19.16 at 3:54 am

That is the same in Australia, the Commonwealth Attorney General – a politician – discuses who to recommend with the State Attorneys General – politicians – and the recommend the person to the Prime Minister – a politician – who has the power to appoint them as justice of the High Court.

256

LFC 02.19.16 at 4:27 am

Val @250
Look js has a couple of times mentioned his feelings about Trump and Muslims and it seems to be ignored.

I know js. (in the internet sense of “know”); he has on occasion made insightful comments on my blog, which I greatly appreciate. Obviously I think js. and RNB (neither of whom is female, btw) are entirely correct in what they are saying about Trump and minorities. Trump’s remarks about Muslims are appalling; he’s a xenophobic demagogue and an ignorant fool. Someone who is himself Muslim or has Muslims in his family is going to feel this v. personally, as he or she should.

But Val seems to think that failure to immediately chime in with agreement or empathy is a sign that the person and his/her point is being belittled and “ignored”. I’m sorry to be blunt, but I think in this context that is nonsense. This is a comment thread, not a sensitivity session. People are busy and more likely to comment, all things equal, on something they disagree with than on something they agree with. I’m off the computer for the day now. Good night.

257

js. 02.19.16 at 4:36 am

I appreciate the interest, but honestly, my remarks were directed squarely at quite specific things that BW said, and I wasn’t really fishing for responses beyond that. (Which isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy RNB’s sarcasm @238 or appreciate Val and LFC’s responses.)

258

MilitantlyAardvark 02.19.16 at 4:57 am

My fear with HRC is that she has all too obviously learned nothing about organizing her campaign and winning over voters from 2008. Think about what that implies for her chances in the actual presidential campaign and ask yourselves whether you really want to bet very much that her negatives can’t increase and Democratic voter enthusiasm can’t decline significantly. To me, Bernie is getting better as a candidate as he goes along, while his supporters are pretty clearly more fired up and ready to go. On balance, I think he’s the better gamble over an overly defensive and remarkably uninspiring HRC.

259

Dr. Hilarius 02.19.16 at 5:45 am

MilitaryAardvark @ 258 nails an important point. For a candidate who touts her experience, HRC certainly doesn’t seem to learn from it. Far from leading, she waffles and equivocates on any issue where taking a stand might alienate some unknown independent voter, alienating the base she must have to win. Every move seems calculated and insincere.

I would refer her to Revelation 3:15-16: “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”

260

ozajh 02.19.16 at 6:16 am

ZM @ 221,

Nitpick time.

Attorney Generals of all the States

Attorneys General

261

ZM 02.19.16 at 6:31 am

See @ 255

262

ZM 02.19.16 at 7:15 am

In regards to the wall Trump has said he would build between the US and Mexico, the latest news is the Pope has said if he really voiced those sentiments he isn’t Christian. Trump took offense to this and said the Pope would be sorry if ISIS attacks the Vatican.

Strange times.

263

CRW 02.19.16 at 8:20 am

I’ve always loved Bernie – for years and years. Yay for a politician who unabashedly calls himself a socialist. But speaking from my place as an older, tired, lefty woman, it’s hard for me to hear all my young prog friends use their new-found love for Bernie to rip on Hillary. Especially if they still love Obama, or make easy excuses for the drones and the deportations when they’re talking about him, but not about her. It’s just really really hard for my overly sensitive ears not to hear it as sexism. I’d love to be convinced otherwise.

264

lurker 02.19.16 at 8:37 am

@258, MilitantlyAardvark
The latest Quinnipiac poll has Sanders beating all the Republicans, Clinton losing to all except Trump. Does this worry any of the people making arguments about her greater electability?

265

TM 02.19.16 at 9:14 am

225: “It could be argued that, in something like a historical-dialectical sense, reactionary, anti-Enlightenment political irrationalism , from Joseph de Maistre (its most eloquent early spokesman) to Mussolini, Franco, and Pinochet, was a “product” of the Enlightenment.”

It could be argued that everything is a product of the enlightenment, either emanating from or rebelling against. That goes for religious fundamentalism as well as fascism.

Keth 241, with respect, assuming that all liberal democracies are either modeled on the US or the UK is only a marginal improvement over the the widespread belief that the USA is the only model of democracy.

266

TM 02.19.16 at 9:24 am

Trump working his magic:

“In 2012, only 18 percent of Latino voters thought Mr. Romney was “hostile” toward Hispanic voters. By November 2015, the number who thought that [about the GOP] had jumped to 45 percent. The largest shift was among those 18 to 35. More than three times as many young Latino respondents think the party is hostile toward them compared with 2012 results (a move to 65 percent from 18 percent in 2012).”

http://www.dailykos.com/stories/2016/2/17/1486603/-Thanks-to-Trump-45-percent-of-Latinos-now-see-GOP-as-hostile-up-from-18-percent-in-2012

Since around here, everything is bound to be misconstrued, let me be clear that I’m *not* advocating for leaning back and enjoying the popcorn. See 82. I’m simply mystified by the fascination (or maybe “magic” is a better word, not to say metaphor) Trump seems to exert in particular on pundit type people. He’s a crude demagogue who successfully appeals to the most bigoted slice of the right wing electorate. No more, no less.

267

lurker 02.19.16 at 10:57 am

‘He’s a crude demagogue who successfully appeals to the most bigoted slice of the right wing electorate. No more, no less.’ (TM, 266)
He is more in that he has no career in politics to worry about, he can say anything he likes, including things that no other Republican could say.

268

dax 02.19.16 at 12:05 pm

“So I don’t think the constitution can be the reason for your Supreme Court being politicized.”

Ah, but it is. The American Constitution establishes (1) a weak national government and (2) makes it very difficult to amend the Constitution. So take abortion. If you really want to be objective (!), there is really nothing in the American Constitution which says or implies anything about abortion. But with the national government not having the power to overturn the states, the Supreme Court was the only part of the national government which could move forward and legalize it. So it did. Perhaps I am wrong, but I think this is the only case in the developed world where the judiciary found the right to abortion already in a constitution. In other countries either the national legislature legislated, or the constitution was amended. The American Constitution has some advantages, certainly, but it is a very bad idea to make the judiciary so highly political.

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Niall McAuley 02.19.16 at 12:09 pm

Perhaps I am wrong, but I think this is the only case in the developed world where the judiciary found the right to abortion already in a constitution.

The Irish case is a funny one – the Prolifers were afraid that a European court would assert a right to abortion based on Human Rights treaties we had signed, so they inserted a clause to ban abortion completely into our Constitution.

And then our Supreme Court found the right to abortion in that clause!

270

Lee A. Arnold 02.19.16 at 12:11 pm

I think that President Obama would be ill-advised to pick Posner. Imagine Hillary or Bernie trying to defend Posner on stage! “Well, yes, he used to be intellectually overdriven to poor judgment; but now by golly, he’s a good choice to trap them pesky Republicans…”

271

Lee A. Arnold 02.19.16 at 12:15 pm

Way to defeat Trump on Muslims is NOT to try to convince people that it is vicious racism and betrays the ideals of the country. If they are voting age, and don’t already KNOW this, then they are “immune to your consultations.”

Anyway there is a “war” on. So use that, instead:

You can easily explain to any young rightwing Marine inductee:

“Trump’s slandering of Muslims ALREADY worsens the US image and makes it harder for US soldiers to find ‘friendlies’ in Muslim lands. You need that, for counterinsurgency to work. Trump has ALREADY screwed it up. And it makes it harder to expect US Muslims to come forward with intel about domestic terror. He’s already got white supremacists in the US trumpeting his cause. Electing Trump will make it more dangerous for US citizens to travel abroad. It will severely screw up US counterintelligence policy and US foreign policy, and US diplomacy to keep us from getting into another wrong war, and wasting our assets. Stupid bragging would be BAD in the White House. It works in commercial real estate, because they are all greedy schmucks.”

There! Mission accomplished!

This argument works on some Trumpsters. Maybe lefties won’t use it because it betrays purist principles: “…’Wrong war’? B-b-but there are no ‘right’ wars!…”

272

Lee A. Arnold 02.19.16 at 12:24 pm

Lurker #258: “The latest Quinnipiac poll has Sanders beating all the Republicans, Clinton losing to all except Trump. Does this worry any of the people making arguments about her greater electability?”

Doesn’t worry me, necessarily. Early matchups are mostly meaningless. (And some pollsters are more indicative than others. Quinnipiac was RV not LV, and is a telephone survey, which I believe are becoming increasingly landline-skewed, demographically.)

At this moment, you have to think about who the final two contenders might be. Only at that time, will the likely voters (LV) be watching.

Imagine them on stage, against each other. Compare their personality disorders, etc.

Start from the case of an electorate split almost 45/45 and voting party-line for the White House (not necessarily the local offices) with 10% true swing voters in the middle. Work backward from there.

Do this for each matchup. I tried to give some likely if humorous scenarios at my comment #63.

Try to think as if you don’t have a stake in this fight. People think idealistically now, but as November comes, they tend to think practically about who is best capable to run the country. That may be their misjudgment, but then again, this isn’t about YOU.

Because US Presidential elections tend to be so close, the SWING VOTERS can be the deciding factor. They may decide differently depending on the matchup.

What do swing voters like? Well I want to read an academic treatise on that. The swing voters appear to prefer candidates who: Will compromise with the other side; won’t rock the boat; very strong on military defense; are personally warm; don’t appear to be crooked; etc.

Issues are sort of secondary: Swing voters still don’t like Obamacare, but only because the opposition made such a fuss. If Obamacare works for a while without causing communist totalitarianism, then, swing voters will grow to like it, after forgetfulness predictably sets in. Etc.

273

Lee A. Arnold 02.19.16 at 12:30 pm

TM #266: “let me be clear that I’m *not* advocating for leaning back and enjoying the popcorn.”

Well not me, dudettes and dudes!

At this point I am CERTAINLY in favor of, “leaning back and enjoying the popcorn”.

Worrying about trying to redirect this momentous trainwreck — when none but primary voters are paying much attention — just sets you up emotionally to make your own miscalculation of the November debacle.

274

ZM 02.19.16 at 12:47 pm

dax,

I briefly discussed abortion in my Australian State, Victoria, responding to Glen Tompkins on the other thread – it was State law issue which was dealt with by the State Government making an Act of Parliament in 2008.

Nobody asked the High Court as far as I know if we had a right to abortion in the Nation, it was just left to the States.

I don’t think abortion would be a federal issue in the Australian constitution as the States are responsible for health, but I guess the federal government pays for Medicare so I suppose they fund abortions that way even though it is not up to them to legislate.

275

Lee A. Arnold 02.19.16 at 12:58 pm

TM #82: “I am generally dismayed that this discussion on CT has descended to that level of horse-race politics. The November election really shouldn’t be about just Hillary and Bernie. Progressives (or liberals or whatever label you prefer) need to mobilize and fight and win on all levels. Given the horror show going on on the Republican side, this shouldn’t be that hard. But it takes more than picking the “most electable” candidate.”

I am generally dismayed when people denigrate horse-race politics, and turn to horse-race political-economic ideology!

You got yer college academics, imprisoned in their intellectual categories… You got yer armchair activists, insisting that it’s “now-or-never,” and insisting that plutocrats are pulling the strings of puppets, everywhere you look…

It’s a whole lot duller that this, I think.

My premise: The world is already inexorably moving to the left. (I have been writing this here for years now, to much derision.)

This US election won’t matter much in that larger scheme of things. There is little to stop slow movement to the left, short of major war or climate disaster. There is little that can hasten it, so long as people stand up for themselves, and put 2 + 2 together.

Who can stop it? Certainly not the plutocrats, whose ages-old knuckleheadedness is now revealed in nearly complete loss of message-control, control which is perhaps irrecoverable to them.

What can be done to hasten it? Very little, without beginning to predict things incorrectly.

Why is the world moving to the left? Largely for the same reasons that many writers felt in the 19th Century; cue-up the basic list: {Accelerating technological innovation} + {The evidently unequal ownership of its output} + {Human psychology}.

All, pushing the world in that direction. For a 20th-century exposition of the thesis — from a conservative! — I cite Schumpeter’s remarkable & prescient updating of Marx. To this date, a thesis unchallenged on either right or left, and being verified empirically.

I am not sure that the 19th-Century’s more “moderate” thinkers would have disagreed either, even those who are taken to be classical market economists, such as my own beloved avatar of sound judgment, Alfred Marshall. Middle-of-the-roaders such as Marshall (even Smith before him) tried to describe a current phenomenon, but NOT necessarily to prescribe the future.

This new idea further added-on — that market psychology is somehow prescriptive of the way that humans always will be — appears to be an inference suggested in post-WWII textbooks, propelled by the bad example of totalitarian communism, and with perhaps some unjustified academic respect paid to the systems-psychological error of Hayek.

This gets us to a discussion of that remarkable psychological error as evinced symmetrically from both left and right: The right thinks that market psychology is an eternal human trait. The left (mostly) seems to think that market psychology is an illusion, an ideal alienation, that is imposed by material conditions.

Thus, the left writes as if we need only to break the material chains, to dispel the illusion.

But this makes the error that people have a hidden psychology that is simply suppressed, or else it supplants their present psychology with the “correct” one to have.

I tend to think that nothing will work at this deep level by partisan fiat. The process needs too much intellectual argument and meets too much cognitive inertia.

But it’s clearly changing slowly, and {accelerating technological innovation} + {the evidently unequal ownership of its output.} may make a fait accompli.

In the meantime of this long but accelerating change, what’s on the menu is picking the “most electable” candidate. One who also helps people stand on their feet — and to help people say what they themselves want to say — and who will try to prevent people from getting hurt. Pick the “most electable” candidate who is headed in that general direction. That’s what’s on the menu, after the party conventions in the US. Then, after November, there will be something else to knowingly fret about.

276

magari 02.19.16 at 12:58 pm

Dax, what is ironic is that originally the Court was relatively powerless, and it took a number of years before the Court was willing to claim the authority of judicial review.

277

Ze K 02.19.16 at 12:58 pm

271 “to keep us from getting into another wrong war”

What’s missing here, I think, is a realization that there is a widely held belief, both inside and outside the US, that the US is, in fact, at war with Islam. Not ‘on terror’, or ‘against radical Islam’, but against Islam, period. Most people (the proles) do not internalize pc language and pc concepts; they see things as they appear to them. And therefore bans on immigration and tourism, as well as surveillance specifically targeting Muslims, make perfect sense to them. At least he doesn’t suggest Muslim internment; not yet anyway.

278

engels 02.19.16 at 1:19 pm

279

TM 02.19.16 at 1:51 pm

dax 268: Canada is another case of the courts fiding a right to abortion. Of course there’s also Germany, where the courts, as you well know, found the opposite in the constitution. A work-around compromise was found, which is still formally in force.

ZM 274, curious as to whether Australian states regulate abortion differently. In the US, you often hear the argument that abortion should be left to the states to decide. But that would just make horrible public policy. If abortion is such a fundamental question – if it’s either murder or a fundamental right – then to argue that it’s best if each state has its own abortion law is absurd.

LAA 273. “Worrying about trying to redirect this momentous trainwreck — when none but primary voters are paying much attention — just sets you up emotionally to make your own miscalculation of the November debacle.”

BS. People pay attention (even if they hate the near perpetual campaign brouhaha) and the debates now taking place will have great impact on what will be politically possible after the election. Progressives have a chance to intervene, to reframe the political debate. This is the opening that Sanders has helped create and if it’s wasted, we’ll regret it forever.

“This US election won’t matter much in that larger scheme of things. There is little to stop slow movement to the left”

That’s a risky proposition and moreover a meaningless one since there’s no way to test it as an empirical prediction.

280

anon 02.19.16 at 2:25 pm

Lee A. Arnold @272: “Doesn’t worry me, necessarily. Early matchups are mostly meaningless.”

That’s what I’d always assumed, but according to the Jacobin article linked earlier, that may be simply untrue:

“In a comprehensive analysis of elections between 1952 and 2008, Robert Erikson and Christopher Wleizen found that matchup polls as early as April have generally produced results close to the outcome in November. Even much earlier “trial heats” seem to be far from meaningless. As partisan polarization has increased over the last three decades, there’s some evidence that early polling has become more predictive than ever. In all five elections since 1996, February matchup polls yielded average results within two points of the final outcome.”

In any case, the alternative suggestion to “imagine them on stage” in a pretend GE while trying super hard not to let bias color our imaginary test election doesn’t sound like a more reliable source or evidence than early polls.

281

Lee A. Arnold 02.19.16 at 2:26 pm

TM #279: “we’ll regret it forever.”

No way to test it as an empirical prediction.

282

anon 02.19.16 at 2:51 pm

CRW @263,

I’m sure it is in large part due to sexism, but not entirely. But I agree we should apply the standard more stringently to Obama and Sanders than most do.

In the comparison to Obama, one reason he gets (too much of) a a pass is because we’ve known him less long and in that shorter time he’s been comparative consistent. A lot of people didn’t [choose to] notice in the 2008 campaign, but every time he criticized the Iraq war, he repeated how gung ho he was about Afghanistan and the war on terror in general. We don’t like how he runs that war, but on some level it’s what we expected, so we don’t get as upset as we should.

In Hillary’s case, I think a lot of people tend to use her hawkishness as an opportunity to vent anger and disappointment about all the other good stuff she’s sometimes on board with and they feel betrayed about when she’s not entirely consistent about. Hawkishness is the one thing she never lets us down on, which is a real let down.

In Sander’s case, I think it’s because the wars haven’t been a central topic in the debates. Even where foreign policy arises, the left’s concerns about the war on terror and drone strikes aren’t raised–it takes the standard Republican form of “how will you protect our country?” So he doesn’t have to address questions that might draw out views on the war that progressives would find less appealing. And of course it helps that he’s always been against Iraq.

All of which reminds me. Why haven’t any of the speculations about democratic electability talked about terrorism? The republicans had, for a while, a pretty successful strategy of making every election about terrorism. The Paris attacks weren’t that long ago, and it’s unfortunately possible there will be another before the election. Isn’t it likely that the Republicans will make that their key attack issue?

Seems important, since Sanders is weak here–if only in his reluctance to engage the issue. He rightly wants to focus on domestic policy as a first priority, but republicans are going to portray that as weakness on the issue, just as Hillary has.

On the other hand, will Hillary be any better off? She’s been playing up her presidential hawkishness for a long time, but for whatever reason, it hasn’t seemed to work.

283

TM 02.19.16 at 3:05 pm

281: Touché. But that’s easy to fix by limiting the time horizon. Won’t work for your prediction.

284

Anarcissie 02.19.16 at 3:32 pm

CRW 02.19.16 at 8:20 am @ 263 —
Elizabeth Warren is said to be extremely popular. Some people think she could have had the Democratic nomination just by asking for it. I think there is a large set of people who like Warren and do not like Clinton. These must be subtracted from the set of putative anti-Clinton Left misogynists.

285

Lee A. Arnold 02.19.16 at 3:51 pm

Anon #280: “That’s what I’d always assumed, but according to the Jacobin article linked earlier, that may be simply untrue”

I’d like to read that article, but I can’t find your link, so would you please post it again?

I should have added when I wrote, “early matchups are mostly meaningless,” I meant, in this particular election. Huge populist surges on both sides. The GOP field is much more numerous than usual. I think that some of the matchup respondents are just guessing. I am going to ignore the matchups at least until the GOP sorts itself out, which ought to be soon.

A problem this time for extrapolating from Erikson & Weizen’s empirical results: “early polling has become more predictive” as “partisan polarization has increased over the last three decades” (which would follow as a logical consequence, too), would not explain why Democrat Clinton trails Trump in the latest poll, when Democrat Sanders easily beats him. (Of course, there are bad polls too.)

Yet we should be able to depend upon a return to partisan polarization, if it sorts out to Clinton v. Trump in the general election. The uprising on both sides is linked to economic discontent, but on the Republican side it includes racism. In the general election, a Sanders primary voter who rejects Clinton to vote for Trump, would be repudiating Obama’s legacy, in favor of someone who cannot be trusted to avoid practicing racial & religious discrimination in Oval Office.

Also, Sanders is likely to endorse Clinton in a big smoochfest.

So until April (which sounds about right, this year!) I am taking all of this cum grano salis.

286

Lee A. Arnold 02.19.16 at 4:03 pm

TM #281, So you now predict that you will regret it until [time x]?

287

Lee A. Arnold 02.19.16 at 4:06 pm

“Sanders is likely to endorse Clinton in a big smoochfest.”

Unless he beats her to the nomination, in which case of course, Clinton will endorse Sanders in a big smoochfest.

288

Anon 02.19.16 at 4:59 pm

Oh, didn’t realize I forgot the link about the accuracy of early polls:
https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/02/karp-bernie-sanders-electability-clinton-republicans-trump-election/

289

RNB 02.19.16 at 5:47 pm

@264 Not clear to me, looking at the polls as a whole, that Clinton is losing to the likely Republican http://elections.huffingtonpost.com/pollster#2016-general-election
Note that even in the Quinnipac poll Sanders is losing in every age group but the youth to Rubio, though overall he still has a lead due to a huge lead among the young. Clinton also wins the youth against Rubio but loses in every other age group even worse than Sanders; so Rubio overall beats her in this poll but not in other polls
Still the strength of Rubio is totally confounding to me, but perhaps this is why the RNC had Nikki Haley endorse him.
I am guessing the RNC wants a Rubio-Kasich ticket with the added advantages in FL and OH, two important swing seats.
All this said, I cannot imagine Clinton not eviscerating Rubio in debates.

A couple of problems for Sanders:

He’s hiding the fact that his very expensive policy package may actually cut deeply into people’s post-tax income by wildly exaggerating how much incomes will grow through a stimulus of federal spending, as I suggested here; but here is the argument worked out

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/candidates-legerdemath/2016/02/18/45520e72-d67f-11e5-be55-2cc3c1e4b76b_story.html

Also see this

http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2016/02/18/the_sanders_campaign_is_living_in_an_economic_fantasy_world.html

Of course fiscal policy could have manifold beneficial effects; even Larry Summers believe that to be true presently, given the underlying secular stagnation. The question is how one makes the case. Sanders does not seem to have the team to make it well (and I am even more worried about who’s on his foreign policy team).

Also I have not seen a response from the Sanders’ camp to the criticism of his Wall Street regulatory program by Mike Konczal and Noah Smith.

Clinton has not made him defend his proposals against such criticisms yet, but he needs to be tested with truly tough questioning.

Everyone knows who HRC is, everyone knows everything possibly and impossibly wrong with her. She has probably reached her peak unfavorability (the Benghazi scandal has started to backfire on the Republicans) and she still can beat the likely Republican nominee, as the polls collected at Huffington Post show. She can win enough independents.

We have no idea how unfavorably Americans will think of Sanders once American Crossroads and other right-wing PACS quote more than the Sanders’ soundbites about the 1% and billionaire. It is my impression that unlike other leading candidates in the past, he has not been subject to much critical scrutiny at all. That is why I don’t think his present favorability ratings would hold up.

He was already caught last night not owning up to his call for Obama to be primaried in 2012. The more he is questioned, the more he is going to contradict himself and the more he is going to appear as a normal untrustworthy politician. He just has not been really had his feet held to the fire in a national setting yet.

All I can guess is that his unfavorability rating will rise because unlike with Obama in 2008, his problem is on the issues, not his identity.

His numbers don’t add up; in the case of free college older people will oppose it as a subsidy to already-well-off kids; he’ll stumble on foreign policy questions as he already has; people will think his being a purist got in the way of his voting for legalization of ten million plus people on the basis of just 200,000 guest workers a year; his health care program is going to scare people on the basis of its costs and sow confusion in the ranks of the Democratic candidates, leading to a very weak November showing.

So I want him to be grilled on the growth numbers, on the burdens of his taxation if incomes do not grow as he projects, on cost problems with his health care proposals, on whether Glass-Steagall will really solve problems, on why 10 million plus people getting life-time citizenship was not worth the price of an annual quota of 200,000 (temporary) guest workers whom he calls slaves.

If Sanders proves that he can take the heat, then he becomes supportable. But he has not proven that. Clinton is a better bet in my opinion. She is detailed, she is not over promising, she is better in a debate. Rubio and Trump won’t survive her. As long as they are not allowed to talk over her.

290

RNB 02.19.16 at 6:21 pm

In other words, Sanders favorability rating will fall once Americans figure out that he is not in fact Larry David.
Sanders will also eventually be asked to defend his claim that he was a major author of the ACA when evidence is surfaced that he mostly obstructed it out of his commitment to single-payer.
By the way, did people see the fine piece on Trump’s stances on the Central Park rape cases in not an American rag but The Guardian. In light of evidence that the wrong people had been jailed, he has never once reflected on what safeguards should be in place to prevent the execution of innocent people. Of course he has not rethought his support of the death penalty. And he never gave thought to what should be done to prevent false coerced confessions. The behavior seems sociopathic to me.

291

Donald Johnson 02.19.16 at 6:41 pm

” Sanders does not seem to have the team to make it well (and I am even more worried about who’s on his foreign policy team).”

Good lord. You defend HRC and you are worried about Sanders’s foreign policy team?

I wish Sanders had more interest in foreign policy and he has said some stupid things (I could go into this, but won’t), but can’t imagine how a lefty could see Clinton’s record as a positive.

On the economic issue, Friedman isn’t part of the Sanders team. He published a study that said nice things about the Sanders policies, which contained some wildly optimistic numbers, and a Sanders campaign official was pleased to get the support. It’s been used by Clinton supporters as proof that Sanders is a crackpot. As for the health plan, after years of hearing that single payer was the best, a pov published by none other than Krugman himself, we now suddenly hear that not only is it politically impossible to achieve (which might be right) and a waste of time to push (maybe), but actually undesirable because it would create losers in the upper middle class. Presumably, then, there will be a mass exodus of Canadians and others to our country by upper middle class people as they realize how much healthier and richer they would be on our side of the border. Snark aside, these attacks on Sanders seem like a mixture of legitimate wonkishness and utter cynical crap. Krugman suddenly discovers the downside of single payer just when Sanders poses a real threat to his preferred candidate, and he can’t find one single constructive criticism he can make of Clinton or anything unsavory in her record. He actually justified Clinton’s vote on Iraq (the only time he mentioned anything slightly negative) by saying it was a crazy time. Yeah, that certainly gives one confidence in her judgment and integrity. It was a crazy time–who in 2002 could possibly have suspected that the Bush Administration was trying to drive us into an unnecessary war?

292

Donald Johnson 02.19.16 at 6:48 pm

I am, by the way, going to vote for Clinton in November if she gets the nomination. I will do it as a lesser of two evils vote. The prowar and pro-lobbyist establishment will have won. But at least Trump or Cruz or some other insane clown won’t be in the White House.

I would also vote for Sanders fully expecting that many people in both parties will fervantly wish him to be an utter failure as President and will probably work hard to make that happen.

293

Lupita 02.19.16 at 6:55 pm

According to a journalist reporting from Nevada, Hispanics support “La Hillary” because of fond memories from the Clinton era, such as, “I fell in love, got married, and had my children during the Clinton era. Therefore, I’m voting for Hillary.” Why is this even published? Why didn’t the journalist tell the interviewee, “Hey, we’re talking politics here. Please focus”?

Then, there’s the guy at the Trump rally in South Carolina who expressed his views (and got them published) that Francis is a communist, cult-leader.

As to Sander’s supporters, a handsome Hispanic actor explained that “El viejito” was not a socialist like those scary Latin American ones, but a nice one, like the civilized Scandinavians. So much for ethnic pride. At this point, I felt like crying in despair, which I think is the intention of the media, to alienate us all. No wonder people turn to polling numbers: numbers are straightforward and soothing, as is the economy at this moment, all nice and bubbly due to monetary easing, as it is every election year.

Anyway, for what it’s worth, that is my diverse contribution to this #CTsowhite comment thread.

294

RNB 02.19.16 at 7:00 pm

@291. Fair point, Donald. But correct me if I am wrong: HRC’s main foreign policy adviser is not Henry Kissinger but Jake Sullivan, who played a big role in the deal with Iran.

295

Consumatopia 02.19.16 at 7:38 pm

@RNB, 289, I think a lot of what you’re saying is sensible, but this is wrong

“He’s hiding the fact that his very expensive policy package may actually cut deeply into people’s post-tax income by wildly exaggerating how much incomes will grow through a stimulus of federal spending”

Sanders does not do that–Rampell is wrong about that. (Weissmann, your second link, was clear on this point.) Sanders campaign did not rely on Friedman’s economic growth estimates when it addressed either paying for Sanders plans or post-tax income under Sanders single-payer plan.

The only responsibility Sanders has for Friedman’s infamous study is Sanders policy director mentioned it on the trail a couple times. Not good, but if it was a Clinton policy person who had done the same thing there is no way in hell we’d be seeing an open letter from former CEAs and so many other econ people piling on. They would have privately reached out and asked them to stop touting it and then published something–probably not even in the general press–refuting it, possibly even explicitly disavowing any criticism of Clinton in their criticism of the study.

The demographics objections to Friedman’s paper seem pretty compelling IMHO (and Friedman hints here that he’s taking stuff like that under consideration https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/02/18/the-economist-who-validated-bernie-sanders-big-liberal-plans-is-voting-for-hillary-clinton/ ) but the “ZOMG 5.3% LOL WTF” screaming is off base (http://jwmason.org/slackwire/can-sanders-do-it/ ) and equating Friedman’s analysis with Jeb’s growth predictions is wrong (https://twitter.com/delong/status/700729833316229121 ).

So Friedman seems to be an honest guy who made a logical analysis based flawed assumptions which he is now revising. I don’t think it’s reasonable to condemn either Friedman personally or the Sanders policy guy who mentioned him a couple of times on that basis.

“The question is how one makes the case. Sanders does not seem to have the team to make it well (and I am even more worried about who’s on his foreign policy team). “

On foreign policy his problems are even bigger–it isn’t just that he lacks experts on his team, it’s that he doesn’t even seem to have a coherent vision of how he wants to change policy on this score. I still consider this issue a reason to vote against HRC because, despite how bad Obama has been, HRC seems to be strongly signalling that she wants to be even worse (e.g. that O has been too eager to avoid “stupid shit” or that O has been too mean to Netanyahu). But, yeah, on this issue Sanders is at best a lesser evil choice.

On domestic policy, though, you’re right that Sanders is having trouble finding experts, but I don’t hold this against Sanders in fact I think it’s a good sign. Check this out: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/19/upshot/why-left-of-center-wonks-are-skeptical-of-bernie-sanders.html That post is sympathetic to experts and policy makers who resent Sanders. Nonetheless, from my perspective it looks incredibly damning–it’s not just that econ wonks don’t like Sanders personally, they’re pretty angry with the entire left for what I consider to be utterly petty reasons–basically, they’ve given up hope, and they’re pissed at the old man and his legion of loud kids for keeping painful hopes alive. It’s not that the professional experts don’t like Bernie because he releases plans that don’t meet their standards. It’s that Bernie can’t release plans that meet those standards because professional experts have decided they don’t like him or his fans.

The petty grievances of those professionals shouldn’t get to decide our elections. Fortunately, they probably don’t–their advice is useful to policy makers, but I’m not at all convinced any voters care that Krugman thinks Sanders is annoying. (Krugman also thought Obama was annoying.) Policy experts should be in the room when laws are being crafted, but they shouldn’t be the ones who decide what kind of society we choose to live in.

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engels 02.19.16 at 9:04 pm

297

engels 02.19.16 at 9:08 pm

298

phenomenal cat 02.19.16 at 10:22 pm

Apropos of some the discussion on this thread about Trump here’s a link to John’s frequent interlocutor/conservative main man, R.D.

Spoiler: He senses something afoot among the (white-skinned) disaffected.
http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/trump-class-republican-fishtown-belmont/

Interpretation: when American Conservative Thinkers are openly fretting about class (and not merely devising Lunzian ways of mystifying it) then you can be relatively sure that a rough beast is on the slouch.

The contradictions are getting too hot to handle. Hiding the political economy behind cultural politics is no longer viable for the democratic and republican parties. A status quo candidate may yet prevail, but the status quo is going to require increasingly intensified and naked displays of force, violence, and general mal-apportion to maintain. When was the last time American centers of power were genuinely afraid of American citizens?

299

ZM 02.20.16 at 1:09 am

TM @279

The only State abortion is legal upon request is Victoria, due to the 2008 law. It is also legal on request in the Australian Capital Territory which is one of two Territories we have which are not legally States. Otherwise it is legal for maternal life, rape, health, fetal defects, mental health, economic factors, and/or social factors in News South
Wales and Westwrn Australia. Legal for maternal life, rape, health, fetal defects, and/or mental health in South Australia and the Northern Territory. And legal for maternal life, health, and/or mental health in Queensland.

So it is dealt with differently in different States, not seen as fundamentally either a right or murder in the Federation.

300

Donald Johnson 02.20.16 at 1:35 am

RNB– The Kissinger connection is telling, but it’s not just her poor taste in friends that bothers people.

Clinton’s been fawning over Netanyahu–Greenwald has a piece on that, but anyone who follows the Israel- Palestine issue knows she has been to Obama’s right on Israel, though oddly enough Sidney Blumenthal has sent some of his son Max’s work to her, or so I’ve read. It hasn’t had much influence.

Here is a piece which mentions a distortion she got away with about Syria–

https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2016/02/18/the-media-are-misleading-public-syria/8YB75otYirPzUCnlwaVtcK/story.html

As Kinzer said, nobody corrected her. That’s Bernie’s real weakness on foreign policy– his instincts are right, but he just doesn’t know enough to challenge her effectively. He isn’t my ideal candidate by any stretch– Warren would be better on domestic issues . I don’t know who would be knowledgeable enough to call out HRC on foreign affairs. Her record stinks, but you have to know it to debate her.

( incidentally, with respect to the link, no, I’m not a fan of Assad, who is a war criminal, but the rebels might be worse if they won. )

301

js. 02.20.16 at 2:56 am

This is the thing. Domestic policy-wise, I think Clinton will be okay. No great shakes, a mixed bag, etc., but about what you’d expect from a mainstream Democrat circa 2016, which is a good deal better than what you’d get from a mainstream Democrat circa 1996 (and the NY Senator gets contributions from Wall Street shocker! is a bit overplayed, frankly). But her hawkishness is fucking terrifying.

302

js. 02.20.16 at 2:57 am

Though, to add: Sanders is no Corbyn (as I’ve mentioned on here before). So who knows how much daylight there would really between the two when it comes to Palestine, e.g.

303

js. 02.20.16 at 3:02 am

Last comment for now, sorry. Look, I’ll basically overlook Sanders on gun control because he’s from VT. I don’t love it, but it makes sense. Tho they don’t advertise it, lefty Sanders supporters must be making the same calculation (unless they’re actually against gun control, which would be, umm, problematic). Exactly same thing applies to Clinton re Wall Street contributions.

304

Keith 02.20.16 at 3:08 am

TM at 265

“Keth 241, with respect, assuming that all liberal democracies are either modeled on the US or the UK is only a marginal improvement over the the widespread belief that the USA is the only model of democracy.”

Well the issue is the different degree of politicization of the judiciary. In fact most liberal democracies are based on the UK Westminster system as in the Commonwealth, e.g. Canada, New Zealand, Australia etc Or were reconstructed by the allies after the second world war, e.g. Germany, Italy. Or have been based on the same theory of a Constitutional monarchy e.g. Holland, Sweden. Or Finland which is a Parliamentary republic. Finland has a written Constitution but no judicial review!

Some Liberal democracies instituted a system of Judicial review, but most have never had one and were always based on the supremacy of the political institutions. The adoption of a strong form of judicial review is a late development in most countries and it is certainly based to a large degree on imitating US practice. With some academic advocacy thrown in e.g. “Pure Theory of Law” by kelsen . After the fascists took control of Austria Kelsen had to leave in a hurry… so his ideas seem not very effective.

305

LFC 02.20.16 at 3:41 am

RNB @289
the strength of Rubio is totally confounding to me, but perhaps this is why the RNC had Nikki Haley endorse him.
Does Nikki Haley have some special relationship to the Republican National Committee whereby she is under its thumb? Or do you think the RNC can call up any Republican governor in the country (who is not running for president him/herself), direct them to endorse a particular candidate, and they will do it?

306

LFC 02.20.16 at 3:49 am

Keith:
After the fascists took control of Austria Kelsen had to leave in a hurry… so his ideas seem not very effective.

I haven’t really been following the judiciary discussion in this thread, but this is a very strange sentence. Or at least the causal connections implicit in the sentence have to be explained more clearly than they were in the comment. What does the fact that Kelsen had to escape the fascists have to do with the soundness or otherwise of his legal theories? (Kelsen was, among other things, an intellectual adversary of Carl Schmitt, who certainly did not leave Nazi Germany but rather lent support to the regime. Does that prove Schmitt’s theories were sounder? I think not.)

307

RNB 02.20.16 at 4:09 am

I’m all for criticism of HRC. So yes I shall look into this criticism of her foreign policy which is why I loudly opposed her in 2008. The other big issue is trade. I have been alerted to a paper by MIT labor economist David Autor on the US job loss associated with China’s ascension to the WTO. I would think that Sanders has an opportunity here to define his differences with Clinton. Perhaps he could get Autor to advise his campaign?

308

RNB 02.20.16 at 4:11 am

I have no idea why Haley endorsed Rubio. I hear that Rubio is the establishment candidate, which I have taken to mean that the RNC is excited about him. Perhaps Haley sees this as an opportunity for a long-term relationship with the RNC? But you are right: this is just a wild guess.

309

js. 02.20.16 at 4:33 am

But LFC (@305) — Surely it needn’t be that direct or coercive, no? A little nudge and a wink would do the trick mostly. It just seems to me fairly obvious that political influence from establishment bodies (among which I’d surely count the RNC) works, and works this way mostly (stressing the word “influence”). You don’t even need winks and nudges, just a knowledge of their preferences (not hard to divine: definitely no Trump or Cruz!), a desire to be in their good graces, and a guess as to who you think they think is the most likely establishment candidate (also not hard to divine), would do the trick.

310

RNB 02.20.16 at 4:38 am

@300 I don’t think Sanders has criticized Clinton for not supporting the Kurds in their battle with ISIS due to a cozy relationship with Turkey. I don’t think he has criticized Clinton for stymieing Iranian efforts to level blows against ISIS. This is the kind of foreign policy that Mohammed Ayoob seems to be calling for; a couple of pieces have been published at yaleglobalonline. Kinzer and he may Ayoob on the same page, but I think these positions are outside US presidential politics.

311

RNB 02.20.16 at 4:42 am

OK enough typing in distraction. And enough on this for now.

312

Consumatopia 02.20.16 at 5:33 am

Why would it be surprising for Haley to endorse Rubio? She came out against the Confederate flag, didn’t she? Of course she’s not gonna like Trump/Cruz. And Rubio is the conventional wisdom alternative to them.

Donald@292 “I would also vote for Sanders fully expecting that many people in both parties will fervantly wish him to be an utter failure as President and will probably work hard to make that happen.”

Gotta say, this is by far the best argument against Sanders nomination. I’m pretty sure that some of the people with Clinton-Trump-Sanders preferences also hold official positions in the Democratic Party and allied institutions. There’s a decent argument out there that presidential politics is just completely unviable as a tool for leftism for reasons like that.

Donald@300 “I don’t know who would be knowledgeable enough to call out HRC on foreign affairs. “

I even don’t know what an electorally viable but non-horrible U.S. foreign policy would look like. Ultimately I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that bad foreign policy is popular among the citizens of the country with the biggest military.

js@303, Sanders:guns::Clinton:Wall Street makes sense to me. Sanders supporters probably just put lower priority on guns as an issue. Some of them may indeed have problematic feelings on guns.

I’ll just come out and admit it–gun control is good, but I just don’t think private gun ownership is categorically evil in the same way that racism, misogyny, poverty, plutocracy, imperialism, pollution, theocracy, censorship, police brutality, torture or mass surveillance are. If you think that armed self-defense is not merely foolish but intrinsically evil, that’s an honest position held by lots of people with better souls than mine, but it’s not a position I share. I guess I would side with 2008 Clinton (responding to Obama’s “clinging to guns” comment) over 2015/16 Clinton (talking about Australian gun control as a hypothetical).

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Donald Johnson 02.20.16 at 6:08 am

Consumatopia–I agree it is by far the strongest argument for Clinton over Sanders, but nobody is going to make it outside a blog. Vote for Clinton, because Bernie hasn’t fully thought through what is likely to happen to him if he wins, but Clinton is just the sort of amoral political sleaze who can get some things done. You won’t like all of them, but maybe some will be good.

I just need to squeeze that into a bumper sticker.

314

MilitantlyAardvark 02.20.16 at 6:53 am

@Donald Johnson
“I just need to squeeze that into a bumper sticker.”

How about:

“HRC – unprincipled enough to succeed; will burn fewer heretics than Ted Cruz”.

315

derrida derider 02.20.16 at 9:50 am

@314
Surely Hillary’s bumper sticker in the general will be “Vote for the crook not the fascist” – the one they used in France for the Chirac-Le Pen runoff.

316

engels 02.20.16 at 12:50 pm

Joseph Brenner “There is no way I would want that man on the Supreme Court”

Seconded

317

engels 02.20.16 at 12:58 pm

It is not fair or honest to claim that Professor Friedman’s methods are extreme,” Galbraith added. “Nor is it fair or honest to imply that you have given Professor Friedman’s paper a rigorous review. You have not.”

318

Ecrasez l'Infame 02.20.16 at 1:31 pm

I don’t think Sanders has criticized Clinton for not supporting the Kurds in their battle with ISIS due to a cozy relationship with Turkey. I don’t think he has criticized Clinton for stymieing Iranian efforts to level blows against ISIS. This is the kind of foreign policy that Mohammed Ayoob seems to be calling for; a couple of pieces have been published at yaleglobalonline. Kinzer and he may Ayoob on the same page, but I think these positions are outside US presidential politics.

It’s not, all the Republican candidates are very strongly in favour of stepping up support to the Kurds and bombing the hell out of ISIS.

This is why the rise of anti-Islamic sentiment is so positive and exciting. None of them are that interested in appeasing the Turks or Gulf States (with the possible exception of Jeb). The Bush Republicans had longstanding connections and relationships with the Sauds though the oil industry and their response to 9/11 was always colored by the fear it might jeopardize their business interests (“Islam is peace”). Obama as an intersectionalist who was raised a Muslim has overt pro-Islamic sympathies (“The future must not belong to those who slander the Prophet of Islam”). Getting a president who has a principled opposition to Islam would be an enormous change.

319

bexley 02.20.16 at 2:04 pm

Coming late to this thread but a few questions for Bruce Wilder:

“Black Lives Matter” may suggest that your life doesn’t; it sure doesn’t feel like it matters.

What exactly are you arguing here?

Here’s the thing: what Trump says is sometimes horrible, sometimes (on economics) not entirely wrong. Mrs. Clinton, as she never tires of reminding us, is an experienced doer.

So you think Clinton is going to be able to do more than Trump? If Trump wins the Republicans will have control of congress and the presidency and most probably the Supreme Court. The congressional Republicans may well nod along to quite a lot of his racist agenda.

So he should be able to do far more than Clinton (the Dems may control the Senate and won’t control the House of Reps). Moreover even if Clinton is a doer she hasn’t promised to prevent all muslims entering the US (which would affect some of my friends and family in the US) or indulged in fantasies about shooting muslims with bullets dipped in pigs blood.

What I’m getting from your contributions is that the economic issues that affect Bruce Wilder are the only ones that concern you. The worries of minorities of a Trump presidency can just be handwaved away.

320

Donald Johnson 02.20.16 at 2:16 pm

Always wondered how one makes war on a religion without killing all its adherents, but if the Republican lineup and anti- Islamic sentiment is so positive and exciting, perhaps that’s not an issue that troubles you. One could go for carpet bombing or torture or killing families of terrorists…

I liked the proposed bumper stickers above. People should use slogans that more accurately describe our choices and it helps to be pithy.

321

Donald Johnson 02.20.16 at 2:31 pm

I was replying to comment 318–Bexley posted in the meantime. I was bothered by Bruce Wilder’s Trump over Clinton comment, but assumed he was venting against Clinton or engaging in one of those slightly too clever paradoxes that very smart people sometimes use. Trump does say some things that are true, like his condemnation of the Iraq invasion or support for health care or accusing other politicians of being bought or saying we should be evenhanded with the Israelis and Palestinians. He then turns right around and advocates massive violations of basic rights or war crimes or in the I-P case, justifies evenhandedness with a racist argument that rightwing Israelis use , which makes no sense at all.

322

Anarcissie 02.20.16 at 3:59 pm

phenomenal cat 02.19.16 at 10:22 pm @ 298:
‘When was the last time American centers of power were genuinely afraid of American citizens?’

Late 1960s: Civil Rights/Black Power movement, anti-war movement, New Left, mutinies, hippies, drugs, other citizens reacting violently to these things.

323

Ze K 02.20.16 at 4:04 pm

@320 “Always wondered how one makes war on a religion without killing all its adherents…”

I don’t know how, but if you have been alive and conscious the last 15-20 years, how can you blame anyone for getting the impression that the US is indeed at war with Islam?

Apparently the perception is so strong and so common, that the US president has to publicly deny it: Obama proclaims: ‘We are not at war with Islam’.

324

Plume 02.20.16 at 5:16 pm

Anarcissie @322,

I’d say as recently as Occupy.

America has a long history of violent reactions to leftist movements and individual leftists. They tend not to care nearly as much about right-wing movements or individuals. Note the massive difference in the way the police responded to peaceful, unarmed Occupy protesters, and the Bundy clan back in 2014 and again just recently. While they did finally move in and arrest the fascists in Oregon, they didn’t immediately resort to busting heads, tear gas, pepper spray, and the folks in question weren’t at all “peaceful” and had threatened the authorities directly.

Many have made the point that if the ranchers in Oregon had been black or Native American, they would have been shot and killed on day one. I think this is true. But it’s also the case that if they had been armed leftists, protesting against capitalism or environmental destruction, their lives would have been forfeit as well. And if you combine POC and Native American with leftist ideology — well, fuggedabowdit.

In short, our government fears movements which seek to end hierarchies and the power and privilege of the financial elite. It doesn’t much care about movements that are just fine with neck-breaking hierarchies, as long as they can get a piece of the action.

325

Plume 02.20.16 at 7:39 pm

Worthwhile read from Yves Smith, over at Naked Capitalism:

The Crackpot Realism of Clintonian Politics

Charles Wright Mills writing nearly sixty years ago captures this dynamic perfectly. Whereas then the steps towards war could be apocalyptic because of nuclear annihilation now the steps towards war seem more like a distraction while we sink into greater economic doldrums and come closer to social death. But not only does all this ignore the existential threats, it completely misses how American politics has evolved for over four decades. To the liberal commentariat the status quo is irrevocably right wing and politicians like Obama and Clinton are simply “grappling” with this reality. As Klein said “Clinton’s theory of change is probably analytically correct”.

What they miss is these right wing Democrats have profoundly shaped this status quo. Bill Clinton’s treatment of poor people was unimaginable before him and par for the course after him. Obama’s treatment of ordinary homeowners would have been a preposterous fictional story of campy villany. Now it’s just how the world works. Sanders (for all his faults on issues like Israel and immigration) is actually looking to push the center to the left for once and is hoping to galvanize ordinary people to do it. It’s the realism of the psych ward that says we’ll solve climate change, help ordinary people and build a workable economy by supporting an endless series of politicians who care less and less about the issues that matter and exploit hopeful supporters more and more cynically. Admonishing young people for both not voting and desiring anything other than a debt-crippled, climatologically-unstable future feels more like admonishing serfs for being insufficiently pious and for caring about what happens to themselves or their children on this plane of existence. In short, realism is just a code word for “shut up, sit down and be quiet”.

326

RNB 02.20.16 at 7:50 pm

Yves Smith wants to put Clinton supporters in the psych ward. But one could argue that what is really crazy is nominating a politician who could in the best of scenarios do little more than his Democratic rival would though he actually runs a much greater chance of allowing a psychopath to assume the Presidency with a pliant Congress. Karl Rove clearly wants to run against Sanders, not Clinton. Why is that? And who is telling young people to shut up. If they want to create another May 68, then go ahead and do it. Who’s stopping them? That’s just what the kiddies will have to do to create the change Smith wants. Casting a ballot for a politician whose program has not been signed by a single other member in his party will do exactly nothing positive but it risks a catastrophic regression.

327

RNB 02.20.16 at 7:55 pm

And for goodness sake, where is the evidence that Sanders has a better plan than Clinton to tackle climate change? It was not my impression that this is why the youth were supporting Sanders over Clinton.

328

RNB 02.20.16 at 7:59 pm

OK I’m done for the weekend. Hope the discussion is illuminating.

329

Plume 02.20.16 at 8:03 pm

RNB @326,

That’s a pretty cavalier (mis)reading of the article, to put it most generously.

As for electability. The latest Quinnipiac Poll shows Sanders would defeat every GOP opponent, whereas Hillary would lose to all of them except for Trump.

Quinnipiac

This has been the norm in polling for several weeks now. Sanders does better in general election heats than Hillary. Which makes perfect sense. He’s actually liked. He actually has higher positives than negatives, which she can’t claim. He’s considered trustworthy and honest. She isn’t.

And, unlike Hillary, Sanders appeals to independents in general and leftists in particular, many of whom just might sit the election out (or vote for Jill Stein) if Hillary wins. Dems will vote for the nominee no matter who it is. So the question is, which one can pull in voters beyond the Democratic base. That’s Sanders, not Hillary.

330

engels 02.20.16 at 8:20 pm

I hate Shillary as muh as the next anti-imperialist class-war commie but ‘Trump over Clinton’ (if anyone is really defending it) seems like – at best – self-indulgent petty-bourg-intellectual dumbfuckery.

Even if we allow (and I certainly wouldn’t) that he’s too incompetent to put his ‘policy ideas’ into practice, having a president (or even a presidential candidate) who openly proclaims the desire eg. to shoot Muslims with bullets soaked in pig’s blood matters. Obviously.

331

Cranky Observer 02.20.16 at 8:38 pm

= = = Karl Rove clearly wants to run against Sanders, not Clinton. = = =

Would that be the Karl Rove of “THE numbers”, the Karl Rove of the Romney meltdown on Fox News, or the Karl Rove who was desperate (_desperate_ I tell you) to run against Howard Dean rather than war hero John Kerry?

Rove lies, he lies about his lies, and he lies about lying about his lies. If you want to argue for HRC, against Sanders, or any other combination go ahead, but invoking Karl Rove is not likely to strengthen your argument.

332

Sebastian H 02.20.16 at 8:52 pm

That would be the Karl Rove who wanted to run against Obama over Clinton last time.

333

Ecrasez l'Infame 02.20.16 at 9:13 pm

I don’t know how, but if you have been alive and conscious the last 15-20 years, how can you blame anyone for getting the impression that the US is indeed at war with Islam?

Apparently the perception is so strong and so common, that the US president has to publicly deny it: Obama proclaims: ‘We are not at war with Islam’.

Yes, they should be blamed for their ignorance, as it’s absolutely clear to anyone paying attention that for the last 15-20 years the West had been in league with the Mohammedan tyrannies of the Gulf against nonconformist regimes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and now Syria. This is the context in which Obama spoke and he was ritually stating the standard position of the US establishment while surrounded by clerics. Here is the full quote that line comes from, note his siding with Islamic orthodoxy and the explicit declaration of war against heretics:

We must never accept the premise that they put forward, because it is a lie. Nor should we grant these terrorists the religious legitimacy that they seek. They are not religious leaders — they’re terrorists. (Applause.) And we are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.

…there are respected Muslim clerics and scholars not just here in the United States but around the world who push back on this twisted interpretation of their faith. They want to make very clear what Islam stands for. And we’re joined by some of these leaders today. These religious leaders and scholars preach that Islam calls for peace and for justice, and that women should cover up and not walk about looking like whores, and for sodomites to desist from their vile sins…

https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/02/18/remarks-president-closing-summit-countering-violent-extremism

This is what the US has been reduced to. The heirs of Jefferson are terrified that the next president may not be able to carry out his now traditional role of supporter of the true Islamic faith and will not participate in the ritual denunciation of heretics and apostates.

Even if we allow (and I certainly wouldn’t) that he’s too incompetent to put his ‘policy ideas’ into practice, having a president (or even a presidential candidate) who openly proclaims the desire eg. to shoot Muslims with bullets soaked in pig’s blood matters. Obviously.

The Clinton-Bush-Obama consensus has the US Gov, in league with states where apostasy is a crime, Countering Extremism by using drones to burn people to death and justifying this by calling the victims heretics. Getting a critic of Islam like Trump in the Whitehouse would be an enormous improvement.

334

Bruce Wilder 02.20.16 at 9:18 pm

bexley @ 319

First of all, it is a silly sort of navel-gazing politics to treat a “preference” for one candidate over another, drawn from a visceral reaction to their public personas, as if it you were engaged in a detailed examination of your own conscience foundational to your self-esteem. Voting for Hillary Clinton is not going to make you a better person, no matter who else may be on that particular ballot, or posed in that particular polling question.

If I could get people to hear one thing in my comments on this thread, it would be the protest against this fine-grained less evilism, where you put candidates side-by-side in your mind, and ask which one a decent, good moral person (your own lovely self and possibly your friendly interlocutor, if you are being friendly and not one of the Mean Girls™ that day) would choose, if forced to choose. It’s like some adolescent’s game, where they choose which of two famous actors or fictional characters they would prefer to have sex with, if isolated with them on a desert island. Only the total goofiness of the scenario is part of the fun for the idle adolescent mind, but is apparently totally lost on many commenters here who take the moral weight of the comparisons very seriously indeed.

It is not hard to see why people fall so easily into this pattern: we are trained in it by skilled propagandists. Identity politics is all about setting up these levers on your loyalties, so that you can be reliably herded into the proper partisan divisions, into your Tribe and away from the their Tribe(s), aka the tribe of the evil or misguided people (depending upon how ungenerously you view those who appear to differ in their political tastes and preferences).

I, myself, am only a recovering addict partisan. My epiphany was my disillusion with Obama over his failure to prosecute banksters or turn away Bush policy and personnel in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq or in security/surveillance state matters. I didn’t vote for him in 2012. I watched people who thought the most morally serious political act of their lives was voting for Obama against Romney because the election was so close and the Republicans such a threat. I did so with a mixture of curiosity and stunned self-awareness: I recognized those patterns of distorted thinking in my self. I abandoned my life-long identification with the Democratic Party with regret and from demoralization; it was painful and depressing, because it carried with it a hopelessness and despair. That’s my personal experience, if you’re interested in where I am coming from. No one should think I am unaware of psychic costs of stepping out of the illusions of partisan pseudo-struggle. But, it is not about me, as they say.

bexley: What I’m getting from your contributions is that the economic issues that affect Bruce Wilder are the only ones that concern you. The worries of minorities of a Trump presidency can just be handwaved away.

Thank you, thank you for an admirably clear statement of your reaction.

In comments, I often come back to economics because that’s often the aspect of a question that I feel I understand best, but Hillary vs teh Donald doesn’t turn on some wonky b.s. about Glass-Steagall.

And, to the point, I am more personally detached from the politics than you imagined, and I am consciously trying to be more detached, and I am advocating that others try to be more detached. Let politics be less about personal identity and more about the society and the political economy. (And, yes, I can and do support society and culture becoming less racist or sexist, not that you should need to ask.)

Peter T (who is one my favorite commenters) @ 175: Clinton would be a battle against the plutocracy one failed to win. Trump with a Republican Congress and appointments to the Supreme Court would be a stain on America’s political conscience it would take decades to scrub clean.

That puts it very starkly, I think, as a choice between the economic issues and the identity politics issues, in a way that seems to compel choosing identity politics because of its moral import. And, I don’t disagree with his implied view of Trump. Trump is a horror show. (I said that before.) What I am trying to get across is how it distorts one’s thinking to focus on a side-by-side choice of evils. That “stain on America’s political conscience”? I think it is already there, folks. More than one stain. And, I don’t see much in Hillary’s self-presentation that suggests she sees a need to scrub. (Or repent, washing her own hands.)

When I wrote that Trump has been a talker, but Hillary has been a doer, I was trying to draw attention to that difference. Hillary doesn’t have a self-presentation that includes a lot of provocative, bombastic crazy talk; she’s a very serious person, doncha know? The very serious person, who thought invading Iraq was a good idea, who thought bombing Libya and undermining Assad were going to be winning policies, and who thought Gaddafi’s gruesome murder was a good joke.

I am not advocating Trump over Hillary. I am protesting against a political analysis where you lay the personas of those two side-by-side in your imagination, and conclude to a deep moral certainty, that one is acceptable and one is not. Like this election is a chance to assassinate Hitler during the Beer Hall Putsch and Save the World. We don’t know, can’t know, what Trump would do with power, or even if he would have the slightest capacity to wield it, because he’s never been in office and has few partisan ties. (Let me be clear: I wouldn’t risk giving Trump power, if it were up to me personally, which it is not and never will be beyond the infinitesimal degree given a voter in a State where the outcome is a foregone conclusion, no matter who is on the California ballot in November. And, if it is in your power, whoever reads this, don’t let me discourage you from your existential duty.)

What I am protesting against is what RNB did @ 238 and @ 240. @ 238, I was excoriated for ignoring a great “social problem”. OK, honestly, I don’t care that much about the personal insults hurled @ 238 — not about me, right? What I am protesting is the argument @ 240 (a bare 15 minutes later), where RNB sarcastically refutes the thesis of an allegedly anti-militaristic Trump: “Trump is not for militarism? Is this a joke?” And, as far as I know, every thing he said about Trump’s affection for blowing things up far away and Trump’s general posture of belligerence toward the world is spot on. What’s wrong with his comment @ 240 is the way he uses the side-by-side contrast with Hillary to imply that Hillary is practically the Opposite. All of a sudden, Trump the Militarist is the Manichean Opposite of Hillary the Diplomat whose successor(!) negotiated the nuclear deal with Iran.

Granted RNB is a committed advocate for Hillary — and I’m not saying RNB shouldn’t have that opinion; let the case for Hillary Clinton be made by someone who knows and believes it — what I am trying to argue is that the fine-grained lesser evilism of these side-by-side comparisons distorts one’s thinking. The moral certainty of the imagined consequences and the psychological need to heighten the contrast in the dichotomy is overwhelming not just natural ambivalence but balanced and informed judgment. The contrast with Trump doesn’t add any information about Hillary’s foreign policy stance; if anything, in RNB’s partisan hands, it subtracts some. The technique itself is wrong, because it always subtracts information and distorts the consequences.

Some people see some kind of neo-isolationism in Trump’s 3rd grader’s stream of consciousness, and I don’t know that is wrong, though I tend to see Trump’s rhetoric as that of a salesman mirroring the Id of his mark. He says what they want to hear and clearly revels in his control of them (shoot someone on 5th avenue). His target audience hates and fears The Other, wants to hear that they themselves are part of a “good” and deserving In-Group, and so on. I think the way the Republican Party coalition has been evolving is frightening, not least because I think the political psychology of authoritarian followers makes isolating them in one Party or one political faction is political dynamite. (See Kevin Phillips.) So, yes, very alarming.

But, none of that changes anything about Hillary Clinton’s pro-plutocratic, pro-war, pro-Deep-State militarist agenda or helps us to understand it and its implications. And, really, feel free to make the case that Hillary Clinton’s deep seriousness is less blood-thirsty than her record suggests to me. Just don’t distort your own judgment (which may well be better informed than mine) with specious lesser-evil comparisons. To address Peter T, at least consider the possibility that the Plutocracy drives foreign policy sin and conceding power once again to the Oligarchy of the Globalized Rich almost guarantees that they use the U.S. military for their own irresponsible purposes with all the usual, regrettable, reprehensible consequences.

The politics of personal identity and partisan tribalism distorts how we view people with whom we disagree — or just don’t have that much in common with — as well as the candidates we are presented with by a corrupt Media. When I made that remark: “Black Lives Matter” may suggest that your life doesn’t; it sure doesn’t feel like it matters.” I was trying to make a point about the dynamics of tribal politics. I was trying to say, think about how it is heard by someone who is fearful, and hurting and feeling neglected and isolated — maybe someone who doesn’t think much about politics and isn’t highly educated — empathize with that person and ask if you are doing anything to bring that person into a coalition, to represent that person among the oppressed. Political partisanship and coalition-building is always partly a matter of the push-pull of the Big Tent — everything the political entrepreneur does to attract one constituency risks pushing away another. Suck up to the Protestants and you alienate the Catholics, to bring up an example that probably doesn’t work with very many people any more, but did once, and illustrates the problem. I suspect the (often privileged) leaders of Black Lives Matter either don’t appreciate how others might hear their rhetoric or they may actually revel in the reaction they imagine getting from an imagined faction of racist opponents. The snide references to white privilege that have cropped up in this thread suggest a degree of personal contempt for economic suffering that may be driving the populist impulse in the Republican Party especially.

It is a problem, I think, for the Democratic Party, that they no longer have much credibility on economic issues as a party of the people, that the loyalty of the old working class — once a big part of the Democratic coalition — is so faded. Of course, the working class itself has faded; it is not all race, but on the economic issues, identity politics can create obstacles to electoral power. (Even the memory of the New Deal is distorted, as it has become a shibboleth on the Left to say the New Deal excluded African-Americans or that industrial Unions were racist institutions back in the day. These unqualified generalizations are seriously misleading at best.) You don’t have to be the white working class guy in despair to have some empathy for him, to understand how the sense that no one in the political establishment cares about him (where “him” can be defined by class or race or geography or education or as her and who knows what else) leads to the political revolt emerging behind Trump and/or Sanders (but not Clinton, I think).

OK, I’ve run out of steam. I’ll risk bad editing or just poor phrasing and I am sure to be misunderstood . . . again.

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engels 02.20.16 at 9:34 pm

Referring to anti-racism and/or anti-fascism as ‘identity politics issues’ is a serious misuse of terms. (NB. I would never vote for Hillary and like several others think Sanders has a much better chance of beating a far right populist).

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engels 02.20.16 at 9:40 pm

As I see it: voting for someone because they have the same number of x-chromosomes as I do might be ‘identity politics’; not voting for someone because they want to intern people who look like me is not.

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LFC 02.20.16 at 10:13 pm

The comment by Ecrasez L’Infame @333 is one of the more deranged things I’ve read here in quite some time.

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Suzanne 02.20.16 at 10:17 pm

334: Hillary doesn’t have a self-presentation that includes a lot of provocative, bombastic crazy talk; she’s a very serious person, doncha know?”

As a female candidate, particularly one of a Certain Age, HRC has to be particularly cautious about appearing to be too loud (strident) or forceful (battle-axe). These considerations were brought forward again quite recently when she received wide criticism after a debate for “raising her voice.” Were Hillary’s “self-presentation” to approach anything like that of Trump, Christie, or even Sanders, she would probably be regarded as insane.

332: “I guess I would side with 2008 Clinton (responding to Obama’s “clinging to guns” comment) over 2015/16 Clinton (talking about Australian gun control as a hypothetical).”

I sure wouldn’t. I imagine the repeated gun massacres of recent years, which have had President Obama trudging to the podium again and again to lament the slaughter and his inability to do much about it, may have caused Clinton to shift on this issue somewhat, along with immediate political advantage. In any case, HRC wouldn’t/isn’t going to take away the shotgun you presumably have at home for self-defense. I have one myself. I’m not worried about some Democrat taking it away from me.
I wonder if a lot of this argumentation over reining in Wall Street seems to me to be pretty much closing the barn door after etc. The time for that has come and gone and for whatever combination of reasons Obama let it go. He once told a roomful of bankers at the time of the great crisis that he was the only thing standing between them and the pitchforks. He probably never even considered the idea that he should be standing up for the people with the pitchforks to the bankers. But I should note that I was never “disillusioned” with him because to me he never seemed like that sort of fellow and nothing in his actual policy positions ever suggested to me that he would be another FDR in that respect. I would have been willing and happy to eat crow on that, but — I never had to.

Not to take anything away from Kerry, who has generally been a pleasant surprise in his current position, but negotiations with Iran were launched during HRC’s tenure at State.

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Bruce Wilder 02.20.16 at 10:19 pm

Donald Johnson @ 321 too clever paradoxes

I don’t think I was doing that.

I am not going to support either one for the Presidency, but as a personality on television or a representative of a certain (differing) brand(s) of smarmy politics, I do prefer Trump over Clinton. It may be that his style of speaking “offends” me less, because I see the sometimes outrageous things he says as a reflection of political attitudes in his audience rather than philosophy or a policy program of his own deliberate design. At this moment, it is still all just a protest at an unresponsive political establishment, and I am sympathetic with that spirit, much more than with Mrs Clinton’s obliviousness to all that she (and her husband and their faction of establishment Dems) has wrought at home and abroad.

Trump, himself, strikes me as a narcissist in love with his own celebrity, not as as a megalomaniac bent on race war or world domination. ymmv may vary, of course. As for his fan base, political bad attitudes are bad, of course, but they are attitudes, a by-product of a personality under stress, not a consistent indicator of personal or social pathology. Their views are incoherent in relation to any philosophical frame one wants to place on them, because attitudes are not philosophy — they aren’t even thinking, when it comes down to it. Sure, with serious effort, bad attitudes like that — and resentment, envy, paranoid suspicion et cetera — can be fashioned into the political foundation of some really ugly political movements and institutions. Which would be a good reason not to stand aloof or in condescending horror at frightened people being, well, frightened, angry and resentful, while waiting for a transformation of consciousness to eliminate that and all political problems.

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bob mcmanus 02.20.16 at 10:42 pm

Referring to anti-racism and/or anti-fascism as ‘identity politics issues’ is a serious misuse of terms.

There is more than one way to be anti-racist and anti-fascist.

One is to counter a particularism or tribalism with another particularism: racism countered with BLM; Japanese fascism with American racism

Another is try to counter a particularism with a universalism: The only war is class war.

The latter takes a stab at reaching out to the foot soldiers of the opposition, denying the existential essentialist eliminationism of the former.

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Val 02.20.16 at 10:49 pm

I think I just realised a possible reason why there don’t seem to be many CT commenters who are female or from minority groups – every now and then there are comments that make you want to yell at the commenter, and knowing they can’t do that, think it better to walk away. Anyway taking a deep breath I will try to respond to BW’s and engels’ ‘ comments.

BW is doing that move beloved of some CT commenters, which is to use the term “identity politics” as a bludgeon to keep women and minorities in their places. engels, to his credit, calls him out on it, but then goes on to say that it’s ok for us to vote against people who threaten to oppress us, but it is not ok for us to vote for people just because they are ‘like’ us.

Students of American history can correct me if I’m wrong, but as far as I know, in the history of American presidential elections, Obama was the first chance people ever had to vote for a black President, and people have never had the chance to vote for a woman (and quite likely won’t this time).

You might like to think about structural oppression and why, when you do get female or minority candidates, they are likely to be ‘compromise candidates’, before piously telling women and minorities they shouldn’t vote for people just because they are like them. I agree we should not vote for them on those grounds alone, but they are certainly relevant factors to take into account.

Also those people who say to me ‘there’s no such thing as patriarchy’ etc, might also like to think about why all American presidents have been male. It’s like patriarchy is so obvious that people can’t see it – hiding in plain sight, as the saying goes.

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engels 02.20.16 at 11:02 pm

I agree we should not vote for them on those grounds alone, but they are certainly relevant factors to take into account.

If this was addressed to me, I didn’t say they’re not, just that this falls under the heading of identity politics rather than anti-fascism, anti-racism, etc

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Bruce Wilder 02.20.16 at 11:04 pm

Suzanne @ 338

I am glad you feel your superior intellect and political perceptions saved you from disillusion with Obama. At least you have your self-esteem.

I can’t speak to the challenges of self-presentation faced by women in politics — or life. I only recently learned of the perils of vocal fry, that’s how out of it I am. Mrs. Clinton has sounded consistently belligerent on Iran over many years, a consistency she draws attention to. I remain skeptical about her taking credit for a deal to which her major contribution was vacating office.

As for the financial reform issues, if you are not someone whose job, home, kids’ college, and retirement are not under threat of being gobbled up, you can be complacent. Until next time, . . .

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engels 02.20.16 at 11:07 pm

HRC has to be particularly cautious about appearing to be too loud (strident) or forceful (battle-axe)

So why is her campaign using exactly these kinds of smears against Sanders? Fwiw if you wanted to bring identity politics into it (I don’t) I don’t think it’s unreasonable to view some of the stuff about ‘yelling’ and being ‘unpresidential’ as anti-semitic

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Bruce Wilder 02.20.16 at 11:10 pm

Val: BW is . . . us[ing] the term “identity politics” as a bludgeon to keep women and minorities in their places.

No, I’m not. Please don’t lie. You can express your point of view without attributing to me views I do not hold and have not expressed.

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Bruce Wilder 02.20.16 at 11:22 pm

engels @ 335

I am sure the psychology of association and manipulation involved in what I call “identity politics” has some intersection with anti-racist and anti-fascist movements, and in people of good will that might even evoke the better angels of human nature, but I wouldn’t be so sure that I was enlisting to make the world a better place, while supporting a candidate of either Party for any stated reason. also, what mcmanus said about universalism.

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engels 02.20.16 at 11:28 pm

One more link, in case anyone didn’t see it, Erica Garner’s endorsement of Sanders
https://youtu.be/oP4Xasc1t7Q

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Bruce Wilder 02.20.16 at 11:33 pm

Val @ 341

Victoria Claflin Woodhull is often identified as the first female candidate for President. She first ran in 1872.

Bit of a trivia pursuit question, but Google could save you from embarrassment.

My own vote for President in the general election in 2012 went to a woman. I will shield her identity behind the Australian ballot. (I give up. Jill Stein, Green Party — aren’t you ashamed of forcing it out of me?)

And, no, President Obama was not the first African-American politician to pursue the Presidency, just the first to get a major Party’s nomination. Plenty of people voted for Jesse Jackson in primaries, including me, for what that’s worth.

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christian_h 02.21.16 at 12:01 am

For those who support Clinton because electability – doesn’t it worry you that Clinton is so unelectable she barely eked out wins in two caucus states where literally the entire local democratic political machine supported her? To me it is a big red flag – it signals that the Clinton team (a team that won one election b/c of Perrot, and another with an incumbent running against the least inspiring candidate before going on and losing a quasi-incumbent presidential race in the midst of a huge economic boom) has not moved on at all from what worked in 1992.

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js. 02.21.16 at 12:07 am

as … a representative of a certain (differing) brand(s) of smarmy politics, I do prefer Trump over Clinton

Must be nice being white.

And for the record, “Trump’s style of speaking”—odd way to put that—doesn’t “offend” me. Trump’s rhetoric scares me. You have the luxury of being offended or not, as you please; I don’t. Not that you seem quite capable to understanding this.

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js. 02.21.16 at 12:09 am

if you are not someone whose job, home, kids’ college, and retirement are not under threat of being gobbled up, you can be complacent.

The lack of self-awareness is frankly fucking hilarious.

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Plume 02.21.16 at 12:12 am

Bruce @348,

I voted for Jill Stein in 2012 as well. I’d still prefer her to either Hillary or Bernie. But Bernie is the first electable leftist in generations. So if he wins the nom, he gets my vote. I can’t see voting for Hillary at all. It’s back to Jill Stein, if she’s on the ballot.

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christian_h 02.21.16 at 12:14 am

If Trump won, it would be because a very sizable portion of the American people has joined a movement led by Trump, and distinguished from the other terrible reactionaries running by a racist discourse of national rebirth. That really would be a major disaster – much more so than, say, Cruz getting elected even though Cruz is as an individual person more frightening than Trump is. Sometimes the lesser evil is in fact so discernibly lesser it outweighs the very real concerns about “lesser evilist” politics that I generally share.

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LFC 02.21.16 at 12:24 am

For the record, I am not ‘supporting’ Clinton in the primary (I am really not actively supporting anyone, though I’ll likely vote for Sanders in my state’s primary). However, I do think it likely — not certain by any means, but likely — that she will end up as the nominee. I think her chances of beating any Repub are reasonably good, though they vary depending on the identity of the Repub nominee. I also recognize that she is open to very legitimate criticism on policy and record. But betw her and Trump or any Repub, there’s no contest as far as I’m concerned.

christian_h asks:
doesn’t it worry you that Clinton is so unelectable she barely eked out wins in two caucus states where literally the entire local democratic political machine supported her?

No, not really. Small numbers of people vote in caucuses (as opposed to primaries). The totals in Nevada seem tiny (based on WaPo front page right now). Also, it’s very unlikely to find any state where the entire pol. establishment, defined say as all elected officeholders of one party, are behind a single candidate. There’s almost always a state rep. or state senator who does not want to go along w the herd. At least that is my admittedly rather uninformed guess.

Btw I was under the impression, possibly mistaken, that engels is British (?). I’m interested that he has such strong feelings about the U.S. presidential race. I certainly didn’t have a comparably informed interest in, say, the Labour leadership election. I had only a vague idea of who Corbyn was until he won. Not of course that engels is not entitled to be deeply concerned w the U.S. presidential race — that’s his call.

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Anarcissie 02.21.16 at 12:29 am

Plume 02.20.16 at 5:16 pm @ 324 —
I don’t think the Establishment types were afraid of Occupy Wall Street and its progeny in the same sense they were afraid of the dissidents of the late Sixties, who put millions of people in the streets, started riots, fought the police, burned buildings, mutinied in the Army, dropped out, founded a middle-class drug culture, and so on. Most of the Occupies’ occupations were wiped out in a few hours once our lords and masters became impatient with them. If by ‘Left’ one means those who would like to see more peace, freedom, and equality than they now observe, we now seem to be very few and very weak. The great people of the state, secure in their bubbles of ignorance, incompetence, and unconcern, are not afraid of us; we are afraid of them. We wonder if we will be permitted to have some of the New Deal back. Permitted to ask.

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js. 02.21.16 at 12:32 am

I’ll just come out and admit it–gun control is good, but I just don’t think private gun ownership is categorically evil in the same way that racism, misogyny, poverty, plutocracy, imperialism, pollution, theocracy, censorship, police brutality, torture or mass surveillance are. If you think that armed self-defense is not merely foolish but intrinsically evil, that’s an honest position held by lots of people with better souls than mine, but it’s not a position I share.

I’m not totally sure how to respond to this because I find the “intrinsically evil” bit somewhat problematic (see below). Here’s what I was thinking: gun control has been a major liberal-left (i.e. left-Democratic base) priority at least since Sandy Hook, in much the same way that “Wall Street”/entrenched economic inequality has been a major priority since at least Occupy. (Obviously, both positions have much deeper roots, and yes much much much deeper in the case of inequality.) So, it seems to me that Sanders’ voting record on gun control laws should by rights be an issue—and for a lot of people in the left-Democratic base, it is (at least in my experience).

Re “intrinsically evil”: Look, to say that plutocracy is intrinsically evil is basically a tautology. (Cf. “Wanton gun massacres are intrinsically evil.”) On the other hand: is entrenched social and economic inequality intrinsically evil? Well, I think yes. But that at least requires an argument. Maybe an obvious one, but the claim isn’t tautological. Similarly, I think in the context of a modern, developed state, armed self-defense on the part of the private citizens is at least not good. A conception of the polity that encourages armed self-defense on the part of private citizens (in the context of a modern state) is I think intrinsically evil, tho as with entrenched inequalities, this requires an argument.

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LFC 02.21.16 at 12:44 am

js. @309
But LFC (@305) — Surely it needn’t be that direct or coercive, no? A little nudge and a wink would do the trick mostly. It just seems to me fairly obvious that political influence from establishment bodies (among which I’d surely count the RNC) works, and works this way mostly (stressing the word “influence”). You don’t even need winks and nudges, just a knowledge of their preferences (not hard to divine: definitely no Trump or Cruz!), a desire to be in their good graces, and a guess as to who you think they think is the most likely establishment candidate (also not hard to divine), would do the trick.

Maybe. But I really don’t know anything about Haley or how internal Repub politics works. It may be she is indebted to the RNC for support in her gubernatorial race, or the primary thereof — I don’t remember. I just think/guess that governors in general wd tend to be somewhat recalcitrant to endorsement pressure, unless Rance Preibus (or whatever his name is), chair of the RNC, has some particular hold over them. Which he might. Another possibility is that Haley wants to be picked for vice-president and thinks Rubio might pick her. Just guessing.

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engels 02.21.16 at 12:56 am

I’m interested that he has such strong feelings about the U.S. presidential race.

I’ve spent a lot of time in US, it affects British people (and everyone in the world) a lot, I’m an internationalist anyway. Curiosity sated?

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Consumatopia 02.21.16 at 1:17 am

“In any case, HRC wouldn’t/isn’t going to take away the shotgun you presumably have at home for self-defense. I have one myself. “

I do have a shotgun, but only because it and a couple hunting rifles were passed down to me. Not for self-defense.

Honestly, if you find a genie and wish for Australian gun control in America, it’s not gonna bother me too much, though it might be nice if you also wished for de-militarized police with your second wish. I just don’t see much hope for progress here. Clinton has said Obama has gone as far as possible with executive orders, right? The gun lobby’s control of Congress seems more secure than ever (given rural domination of that body), and every time Obama opens his mouth over guns, gun and ammo sales go nuts. (This, by the way, was the very valid point Sanders was making over “all the shouting in the world”. Is there any other issue where you can watch, in real time, everything get worse as soon as the president mentions it, as you can watch gun sales?) Horribly, though the mass shootings have galvanized Democratic politicians, they seem to have desensitized voters. There is a non-insane argument that making the mass shootings into a political issue only encourages crazies to carry them out.

The only bright spot is that though the number of guns per capita in the country is rapidly growing, the percentage of households with a gun is slowly falling or at least holding constant (around 40% now). Maybe some day America will grow out of its gun obsession, but I’m not sure that a politically polarized debate would speed that process along.

I’m not even sure that gun control is the available best policy lever for reducing the homicide rate–e.g. https://newrepublic.com/article/124445/beyond-gun-control

I’m fairly sure, though, that whether or not political focus on guns could actually make any progress on gun control, it will impede our progress on every other issue–even if more voters favor gun control, the ones who oppose it are absolutely obsessed with it and get more obsessed every time you say the work “gun”.

“I wonder if a lot of this argumentation over reining in Wall Street seems to me to be pretty much closing the barn door after etc.”

I’m not sure if by closing the barn door [after the horse has bolted?] you mean A) the 2007 financial crisis already happened and there is no point preventing any future crisis or B) Wall Street is already unstoppable so it’s better to just accept their rule? I don’t think A is true, and if B is true there’s really no point to political discussion at all–might as well just make Bloomberg king. I hear he’s really good on guns.

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Suzanne 02.21.16 at 1:20 am

@343: I don’t think I said anything about my superior intellect or perceptions. I did try to read the fine print. Certainly those who did get carried away by Obama shouldn’t feel bad about that. He was an exciting candidate, and the better one.

Kerry’s accomplishments are Kerry’s accomplishments, but I think it is generally acknowledged that the groundwork for some of the second-term accomplishments in foreign policy were laid in the first, and Clinton was a part of that. It is fair to ask if a President Clinton would have been as open to rapprochement with Iran as Obama was.

@357 & 309: Haley would doubtless like to be picked for VP, but I don’t think her endorsement of Rubio was driven by that or by outside pressure. She’s a sufficiently desirable quantity in the GOP right now that anyone who gets the nomination will consider her. However, if Rubio does well in SC and eventually gets the nomination, this endorsement would probably make her close to a lock for the veep slot – unless Rubio has to seek an older, more experienced running mate, a GOP Biden, to alleviate concerns about his relative youth.

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Val 02.21.16 at 1:35 am

Thanks for the detailed corrections BW, I should have said “presidential candidates of the Democrat or Republican parties” – again I may be showing my ignorance, but isn’t the election de facto between those two candidates?

Nice for you that you got an opportunity to patronise me though, no doubt.

I am not ‘lying’ when I say that you (and Bob McManus subsequently in this thread) use identity politics as a bludgeon to keep women and minority groups in their places. That is how your comments read to me. I suggest you ought to think about that and respond to it rather than making a knee jerk angry response.

On the other hand I strongly approve in principle (without actually knowing much about the candidate) of your actual voting choice, so will try to lay off the snark a bit now.

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Val 02.21.16 at 1:50 am

BW – I should have said ‘use the term or concept of identity politics as a bludgeon’ etc.

I read a bit about ‘identity politics’ when I first came across it here, and no matter what mild intellectual validity or usefulness it may originally have had, I think it has become a stupid term in these discussions. Would you use the term to describe why women or people of colour were not originally given the vote in so-called democracies? Were patriarchy or racism just a matter of ‘identity politics’? If not, then why do you describe the desire of women and people of colour to not only vote, but be represented in the legislature, as ‘identity politics’?

It seems to me that when someone of your intellectual ability uses such a stupid concept, there must be something else going on.

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js. 02.21.16 at 1:59 am

LFC @357 & Suzanne @360 — I hadn’t thought of the VP angle (just: general future possibilities), but one way or another, that makes sense.

Val @361 — You should probably specify a Republican or Democratic nominee in the general election; otherwise you’re liable to be “misunderstood” again.

——

I did try to read the fine print.

The print wasn’t even that fine, no?

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engels 02.21.16 at 2:03 am

Val, just out of interest what was your opinion of Thatcher’s primeministership of UK? Do you consider it a victory for feminism

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js. 02.21.16 at 2:17 am

I think the question is really whether it (i.e. “identity”) can be a legitimate factor in marginal cases. Obviously, Thatcher/Gandhi fille/Palin (yikes!) is a total disaster. And there’s a genuine argument to be had about whether Clinton should be considered a marginal case (I actually don’t have a settled view on this, mostly because I care more about parties than about individual candidates). But Clinton aside, I do think that in marginal cases, what now gets called “identity” can be a completely legitimate factor qua expression of solidarity.

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bob mcmanus 02.21.16 at 2:24 am

Would you use the term to describe why women or people of colour were not originally given the vote in so-called democracies? Were patriarchy or racism just a matter of ‘identity politics’?

You bet. Absolutely.

Wiki:Identity politics are political arguments that focus upon the interest and perspectives of groups with which people identify. Identity politics includes the ways in which people’s politics may be shaped by aspects of their identity through loosely correlated social organizations. Examples include social organizations based on race, class, religion, gender, gender identity, ethnicity, ideology, nation, sexual orientation, culture, information preference, history, musical or literary preference, medical conditions, professions or hobbies.”

I use “identity” even more broadly and immediately than the above, constantly defining myself in terms of the other active commenters in a given CT thread for instance. I also have overlapping identities as arthouse film and blues fan that don’t come into play here much.

“Workers of the world” is an affective attachment, extra-rational and contingent.

Some identities are more productive of peace and prosperity than others, “Aryan” is too narrow and exclusive and divisive to build a inclusive progressive politics around, and that wasn’t its utility.

“Workers” or wage labour or the “90%” seems to me to be about the most inclusive of identities.

“Women” as opposed to Muslim or Democrat or basketball player seems deliberately and radically exclusionary in a deliberate and tendentious way.

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ZM 02.21.16 at 2:42 am

Re: identity politics and what Bruce Wilder says is “the challenge of self presentation faced by women in politics”

Part of this is that women are not automatically considered as leadership candidates, and the same for black and Asian and middle eastern and pacific islands people etc, or gay people.

In Australia the case in point is Penny Wong, who is one of the most capable people in the Parliamentary Labor Party, but she is never considered as a future candidate for Prime Minister, despite being more capable than other people who are considered as possible future Prime Ministers.

The only reason for this is her identity – female, Asian-Australian, and gay. But she is very capable, if she was male, white, and straight she would be one of the front runners to lead the Labor Party and definitely be considered as a future Prime Minister.

Identity politics works to exclude people at least as much, or more, than it helps people.

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bob mcmanus 02.21.16 at 2:46 am

367: “Victim” is the bestest identity of them all! This thread is full of them.

369

Val 02.21.16 at 2:46 am

So Bob, according to Wikipedia, class based arguments are an example of identity politics. But doesn’t that rather destroy all the arguments against ‘identity politics’ that you have previously put forward?

Are you now saying that all forms of politics are identity politics, but class based identity politics are better than gender or race based identity politics?

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engels 02.21.16 at 2:54 am

“I think the question is really whether it (i.e. “identity”) can be a legitimate factor in marginal cases.”

Already answered ‘yes’ to that.

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ZM 02.21.16 at 2:57 am

bob mcmanus,

She isn’t a victim. She is very capable and has held reasonably high positions like Finance Minister, but she just is never discussed as a future leader of the Labor Party, or potential Prime Minister, which other people are considered as who are less capable.

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bob mcmanus 02.21.16 at 2:57 am

Are you now saying that all forms of politics are identity politics, but class based identity politics are better than gender or race based identity politics?

You mean like Men’s Rights Advocates and Aryan Nations?

Yes, labor base politics are better than those. Not crazy for rich peoples’ parties or factions.

“Better than” is a bad question. “Better for who” is better. The purpose of most of the common identity-based politicians is to get rich and powerful cannibalizing other people’s dreams and frustrations, and it works very well for them.

Enough! I’m jumping off the bus! I wasn’t driving or riding shotgun anyway.

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js. 02.21.16 at 3:01 am

engels @370: Sorry, yes. I’d missed that.

Also: the Erica Garner video is great.

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ZM 02.21.16 at 3:03 am

And most of the Labor Party people in Parliament are not “workers” as such to identify, unless you count lawyers and union officials as workers, they are very high tier workers and not every day workers.

We had a new Senator last election from the Australian Motoring Party (this always makes me think of Toad of Toad Hall in the Wind in the Willows) who used to work in the wood industry, so her was a worker. But I went to a talk and the Labor Party person there said the rules for Senate voting needed to be changed to prevent people like the Motoring Enthusiasts Senator getting in as Senators. This was disappointing coming from the Party that is meant to be for workers.

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LFC 02.21.16 at 3:04 am

engels:
Curiosity sated?

Yup, thanks.

376

engels 02.21.16 at 3:15 am

I would distance myself from Bob and Bruce’s comments. I agree the term ‘identity politics’ probably obscures more than it clarifies. I personally use it as a pejorative term for a US-style ultra-liberalism (exported to other parts of academic Anglosphere) that ignores class and capital, fetishises divisions among workers in a sometimes competitive way (‘oppression olympics’), feeds into neoliberal ideals of due process and equality of opportunity and tends to go along bizarre epistemological commitments (scepticism re understanding experiences of others, scepticism of objective knowledge, moral relativism, etc). That’s probably a rather sloppy definition. (Unlike Bob, on my definition it doesn’t have a lot to do with feminism or anti-racism, except in these distorted liberal forms.)

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christian_h 02.21.16 at 3:17 am

ZM interesting example. I just recently moved to Australia, and the ALP is the most disastrously “third way” center left party I’ve ever seen anywhere. There is literally no way i would/will if I become an Australian citizen ever vote for them unless they are blown up completely and reconstructed from the ground up – even a farce like Tony Abbott didn’t implement any substantive policy that a Gillard or Rudd government couldn’t our wouldn’t have. The identity of whoever they put up for prime minister really makes zero difference to me in that case. (Despite my complete agreement that it is entirely legitimate to take the signal that electing a person of marginalized or oppressed identity sends into account in voting decisions.)

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engels 02.21.16 at 3:18 am

Also, see some of the links above which also attack ‘identity politics’ in the context of the Clinton campaign

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bob mcmanus 02.21.16 at 3:21 am

376: So 19th century nationalisms and imperialism didn’t involve localized understandings and constructions of identities? Hobsbawm (et al) and B Anderson are just a start, no, Durkheim the better start.

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Val 02.21.16 at 3:23 am

Good thing that you’re jumping off the bus Bob because I was just going to pick a whole lot more holes in your argument. Briefly: the Wikipedia definition of identity politics you use also sounds pretty neoliberal (we are all equal as individuals but we identify with certain identities and compete on the basis of those identities; historical and structural factors such as patriarchy, slavery, sexism and racism can be ignored) and your apparent view that the identity ‘woman’ would preclude the identity ‘Muslim’, ‘basketball player’ – probably a bit too silly to even respond to, and your last remark about ‘victims’ – straight out of the racist MRA handbook isn’t it? Actually it’s genuinely offensive – eg js’ concern about what a Trump victory would mean for Muslims is about playing the victim, is it?

Good thing you jumped off the bus, I’d say.

engels (I’m on my mobile but I think you asked) – my feelings about Margaret Thatcher are – good that a woman became leader of the conservatives, bad bad bad that the conservatives got elected and that she held the political positions she did and was enabled to put them into practice.

I’m a left wing voter, I never would have voted for conservatives or MT (had I been eligible to vote in UK) but I still would like to see equal representation of women in parliament.

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bob mcmanus 02.21.16 at 3:25 am

Whatever, as I said, we are juggling identities in this thread, using definitions as tribal markers. Wilder needs to distance himself from me, I prefer alienation.

Now, Taebaek Mountains is a long movie, and I am late.

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Val 02.21.16 at 3:26 am

engels – yours and my posts about identity politics as a neoliberal construct crossed.

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engels 02.21.16 at 3:27 am

I still would like to see equal representation of women in parliament

So would I fwiw

So 19th century nationalisms and imperialism didn’t involve localized understandings and constructions of identities?

Sorry, I was just trying to give my pejorative sense of the phrase ‘identity politics’, not claiming anything more general about the importance of ‘identity’ in social conflict.

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MilitantlyAardvark 02.21.16 at 3:30 am

The more I see of Hillary The Inevitable, the more I dread the actual presidential election. It looks to me as if she’s unable to convince some pretty solid Democrats that she has anything to offer beyond the vague sense that she’s been in politics a long time and so it’s her turn. It’s a dreary, defensive program, which is not notably enhanced by her plodding oratory and apparent inability to run anything like an effective or dynamic campaign. For someone who touts her record of getting things done (with a colossal lack of specifics!), she doesn’t seem to have done the obvious thing and learned from her defeat in 2008. If the Republicans manage to nominate someone who is even halfway to convincing as a candidate, I fear that complacent, inevitable mediocrity will not be a sufficient answer. I very much dislike having to rely on the lunacy of the GOP to win elections at the best of times, but when they already control two of the three branches I feel an utter rage at the Democrats for having screwed up so thoroughly at state and local level that this palsied bench of geriatrics is all they have left.

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bob mcmanus 02.21.16 at 3:32 am

“eg js’ concern about what a Trump victory would mean for Muslims is about playing the victim, is it?”

js’ “concern” wasn’t about Trump, but about B Wilder, whose victim apparently js somehow was.

But yeah. Wilder was tempted to play the card himself.

I put extra effort into playing the asshole. I refuse allies.

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bob mcmanus 02.21.16 at 3:38 am

Clinton’s gonna lose, we will get Trump and three Alitos, well two female Alitos and one male. Val will be pleased.

The usual suspects will blame sexism and racism, and draw their checks and make their deals.

The kids will just give up on the Democratic Party, as well they should.

Saw most of this back in ’68, the identities then were anti-communist, union, Dixiecrat, city/state machine. Lost the kids, got decades of reaction. We’ll go Right til we burn.

I’ll be gone, thank y’all.

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LFC 02.21.16 at 3:47 am

Re ‘identity politics’ and the question of women voters and HRC:

(1) I don’t think the Wikipedia excerpt quoted by b. mcmanus is especially helpful in this context. In contemp. U.S. political discourse, ‘identity politics’ tends to refer, it seems to to me, primarily to racial and/or ethnic and/or sexual-orientation identity. So if someone sees the political scene/universe primarily through his/her status as, say, black, Hispanic, Asian, or LGBT, I think that person is doing ‘identity politics’ — which I’m *not* saying is necessarily bad; I’m just trying to give my descriptive sense of things here. It’s a phrase whose resonance, in other words, seems to be connected to belonging to a minority group or status. At least that’s how I’ve interpreted it.

(2) I totally understand why some women really want to see a woman Pres. of the U.S. in their lifetimes and why some of them are making that an important consideration in deciding to support HRC. And I further understand why some of them feel that women in politics face double standards when it comes to ‘presentation of self’ and public behavior — I think there’s considerable truth to that. (It’s not fair, of course, but it does seem to be the situation.)

HRC, whatever her faults (and she does have serious ones), has actually been concerned about and active on women’s issues (access to justice, equal pay, domestic abuse, reproductive rights) during her career, afaik. An HRC presidency wd represent an important symbolic, and possibly in some ways substantive, milestone for feminism. The Thatcher analogy, I think, is quite inapt. Thatcher wasn’t a feminist. HRC is.

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magari 02.21.16 at 4:01 am

I think people are assuming Clinton will play the sanity card to the White House. But can she? It’s working to discredit Sanders, but what effect will it have against Trump? First, there seems to be a significant number of people who want Trump’s irrational dynamic. His insanity is not a bug but a feature. Second, the sanity argument attracts older voters, but so does Trump’s racism.

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magari 02.21.16 at 4:05 am

LFC, in what sense is Hillary a feminist in ways that Bernie isn’t? Because he’s a man and she’s a woman? Choosing one candidate over the other based on their gender, when they have equal credential to claiming a feminist mantle, would be precisely identity politics. It names an essence that organizes an identity and creates an in-group/out-group dynamic, a lens through which one makes politics.

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ZM 02.21.16 at 4:10 am

bob mcmanus,

“js’ “concern” wasn’t about Trump, but about B Wilder, whose victim apparently js somehow was.”

js was pointing out that for people who are Muslim, come from middle eastern countries etc (I have not got a great understanding of exactly what Trump is proposing) Trump’s proposals are not a theoretical matter which has less impact than populist economic issues – but that these racist policies would actually apply to him and his family, and as such be exactly as real as the economic issues Bruce Wilder raises as being why he in some sense defends Trump in comparison to Clinton. For Bruce Wilder himself, the racist policies wouldn’t actually affect him, so they are just theoretical compared to economic issues, but for others they are practical.

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ZM 02.21.16 at 4:16 am

I would actually like to see the structure of Parliament changed to ensure more women and Indigenous and other cultural groups etc

For women this would be easy since women are 50% of people, you just make two positions available in every electorate, one female and one male, and the same 50/50 in the Senate.

For Indigenous people I would add seats in the Upper House and they can be held by Indigeonus people only.

I’m not sure about how to have more other cultural groups, unless you use the census, and have some cultural groups based on census data.

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ZM 02.21.16 at 4:17 am

I would actually like to see the structure of Parliament changed to ensure more women and Indigenous and other cultural groups etc

For women this would be easy since women are 50% of people, you just make two positions available in every electorate, one female and one male, and the same 50/50 in the Senate.

For Indigenous people I would add seats in the Upper House and they can be held by Indigeonus people only.

I’m not sure about how to have more other cultural groups, unless you use the census, and have some extra seats for cultural groups based on census data.

393

Consumatopia 02.21.16 at 4:24 am

Uh, I just thought of something that probably colors the debate around here, though I didn’t see anyone mention it. (only skimmed lightly, though.)

We CT commenters probably skew old, right? The kids, they don’t really blog, do they?

I bring this up because age is a huge part of the identity politics story surrounding this race. Among older voters, Clinton does much better among women than men. Both older women being inspired by Hillary and older men being sexist against her are real parts of that story (also having a daughter makes you much more likely to back Clinton.)

But that’s far less true among younger voters. In (very white) NH Sanders actually won woman of all age groups by more than he won men. The white kids were all crazy for Sanders, but young women seemed to support him a bit more than young men did. Among young people, the only place he seems to have a problem is African-Americans. (Sanders probably even does okay among young Latinos.)

Obviously, young African Americans are not looking Clinton and being inspired by someone like them. I’m not even sure it makes sense to call what’s going on there, or among African Americans generally, a matter of “identity politics”. Part of it is that Sanders isn’t focusing on some issues as much as they might like. But I think it’s it’s at least as much a matter of retail politics–Clinton has a lot of allies among black elected officials. Now, obviously I’m deeply skeptical of Clinton, but retail politics is a perfectly rational approach to voting–you ask which candidate is trusted by the people you trust. The results can be dirty sometimes, but it’s infinitely more rational than picking Cruz or Trump because they look angry enough to satisfy your rage. Heck, you don’t even have to worry about arguments fitting on a bumper sticker (313)–it could very well be that prominent elected officials are backing Clinton because they suspect that if Sanders wins that he would end up being sabotaged by intraparty antagonists. Ultimately, retail politics is not what broke America, and it is not a bad thing that the black establishment is a powerful force in Democratic presidential politics, even though I’ve seen some black voices get really mad about it.

Women supporting Clinton have every right to be inspired by her victory, and they’re absolutely right that sexism is a major problem both in their own lives and in Clinton’s career (including the upcoming general election), and sexism in CT comment threads is definitely not unheard of. But, generally speaking (read: out in real life, not in this comment thread) gender isn’t as big a factor in the apparent voting patterns as race and age. I understand CRW’s frustration fatigue at 263, but it should be resisted–if you reflexively assume that Clinton opposition is sexist, you end up tarring young women supporting Sanders for class reasons with an unfair brush.

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MilitantlyAardvark 02.21.16 at 4:29 am

@393

Sanders apparently beat Clinton among Latinos in Nevada. One data point, perhaps insignificant. Clinton, on the other hand, beat him among African Americans in Nevada and South Carolina.

I do wonder whether this might have something to do with many Latinos tending towards identifying themselves as white, which is apparently observable across the US, given Sanders’ “natural” demographic apparently being the paler end of the spectrum. Or perhaps the Clintons just don’t have ties with the powerbrokers in the various Latino constituencies the way they seem to with the various African American communities.

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Val 02.21.16 at 4:30 am

Don’t think there’s any point arguing with Bob, since he suggests I would be happy if Trump won, he has obviously left reasoned argument behind and gone ‘all personal insults, all the time’.

If I were able to vote in the US elections I might well vote for Bernie Sanders, but I would be sad not to see a woman President. Some CT commenters need to accept that complexity is a thing I think.

I have seen a recent campaign as for Bernie Sanders that shows everybody coming together (the one where the faces join) to oppose the 1%, and while I understand the sentiment, it does come uncomfortably close to eluding race and gender as politically relevant categories. To anyone who thinks ‘why isn’t electing a feminist man just as good as electing a feminist woman?’ I should tell you that within my political career, less than twenty years ago, I heard men in the Australian Labor Party claiming that it was not really important to select female candidates because Labor men understood women’s views and were able to represent them. Sounds a bit different when you put it that way, doesn’t it?

(Using Bob’s reasoning, women don’t even need the vote, because women is an essentialist category and there is no real difference between men and women, so why shouldn’t men be able to represent these so called ‘women’ just as well as the so-called ‘women’ can?)

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Val 02.21.16 at 4:33 am

‘eliding race and gender’ – bloody ignorant spell check!

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Consumatopia 02.21.16 at 4:53 am

@js 356, I’m not saying that it’s illegitimate for you to consider guns a higher priority, but not all leftists and liberals share that prioritization. (I’m pretty sure there are far more pro-gun single issue voters than anti-gun, even now, but maybe that could change)

By “not intrinsic”, I just mean that my support for gun control is based on an empirical belief–if someone convinced me that private armed self-defense was actually fantastically good at saving lives then I’d change that belief. Asking me whether a particular kind of gun should be banned is like asking me whether a particular intersection should have a stop light. I guess some people out there take that “monopoly of violence” thing seriously and actually would believe that private firearm ownership is intrinsically immoral. That latter rationale is one I find problematic–all too often I see anti-gun arguments start to shade into pro-police/pro-military enthusiasm.

“Similarly, I think in the context of a modern, developed state, armed self-defense on the part of the private citizens is at least not good.”

Let’s be careful here–no politician is promising to legalize wanton gun violence (well, okay, I grant you that SYG is intrinsically bad) or criminalize self-defense. We’re just talking about whether people should be allowed to maintain the capacity to do those things. And you’re saying that in our particular context, only state actors should have guns. Right?

That’s reasonable, but compare that to a lot of the other things I listed. Most of them are wrong in any context. (Pollution and censorship might be the only exceptions.) We wouldn’t say “in the context of the modern state, racism is bad.”

It might be possible that we could contrive some strange social context in which “entrenched social and economic inequality” was a good thing, but I don’t believe that’s ever been true in any actually existing past or present social context (I could be wrong.)

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LFC 02.21.16 at 5:13 am

magari @389
LFC, in what sense is Hillary a feminist in ways that Bernie isn’t?
Possibly in no sense. I didn’t address the question.

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js. 02.21.16 at 5:19 am

mcmanus, do fuck off. I was not and have no plans to be Bruce Wilder’s victim.

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Consumatopia 02.21.16 at 5:20 am

@394 “Sanders apparently beat Clinton among Latinos in Nevada.” There’s apparently some debate over how accurate the exit polls where on that score, but even if that result is wrong it suggests that he didn’t lose them by that much–it was Clinton’s overwhelming advantage with African Americans that gave her the win. If she wins, she owes them big time. Hopefully she’ll remember that.

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Suzanne 02.21.16 at 5:31 am

@359: Australia provides an example of a pro-gun country that experienced a sea change in opinion once the butcher’s bill got high enough. There are also salient differences to be accounted for, of course. Yes, President Obama spoke out on the subject and tried to get Congress to do something. He failed and spent valuable political capital doing so, a risk he took because presumably he thought it needed to be taken regardless of the fact that he might be weakened politically. But he was right to make the attempt.

As for Wall Street – what I meant was something along the lines of what I heard Michael Lewis say on the Charlie Rose show some years ago. He noted that when Obama came into office, the financial industry was literally on its knees, more or less asking to be told what to do. That moment passed, and now it’s a fight just to make sure that we hang on to Dodd-Frank. But no, I am not suggesting that we throw in the towel just because the circumstances have changed – any more than we throw in the towel on guns.

402

JPL 02.21.16 at 5:32 am

BW @348:

Let’s not forget, Eldridge Cleaver was on the ballot for President in the general election in 1968 under the Peace and Freedom Party. If you voted for Jessie Jackson, I’ll bet you could have voted for Eldridge Cleaver. Those were the days! A party that drew their inspiration not from Isaiah Berlin or William F.Buckley, but Herbert Marcuse.

In any case, as I’ve said before, given the dire political- economic state of the world today, in any democratic system where you have the plutocratic interests, through their parties, using populist appeals to ethnic nationalist fears and resentments, (and xenophobia and all the rest of the ur- fascist and pathological male domination fantasies of the still persisting primeval mass mind described by Eco (R.I.P) in the article linked in Plume’s comment (@239) above), the primary function of voting should be not to vote for the candidate who has the best ideas or who best reflects your understanding of what it takes to attain a just and equitable society, but simply to keep out from power the parties of the plutocratic interests, i.e., the right wingers. Given the practical conditions, that’s our first responsibility (and I’m claiming it’s an ethical responsibility, and that it applies also to the media) and the best we can hope for; after the election the battles and movements can begin.

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js. 02.21.16 at 5:33 am

I’m not saying that it’s illegitimate for you to consider guns a higher priority

Wait, what? I don’t consider guns to be a higher priority. I was just laying out what I’ve experienced to be a significant dynamic in significant portions of the American liberal-left. Speaking of myself: about five years ago, I was pretty much in the “give up on the issue of guns entirely” camp; I’ve since moved a fair bit, but not all the way to thinking that gun control should be a higher priority than economic justice.

404

MilitantlyAardvark 02.21.16 at 5:48 am

@400
I hope they don’t expect too much. Gratitude doesn’t strike me as one of the Clintons’ stronger characteristics.

405

Keith 02.21.16 at 7:03 am

LFC at 304,

I was being ironic. The Kelsen episode shows that the theory that Law can be based on universal norms justified by reason is problematic when Fascists who do not share the jurists idea of norms seize power. How do you enforce a norm when enough people are willing to fight to oppose it? Dred Scot raised the same problem. Judicial review by a court only works if certain norms are accepted in society. And have a political base. As Poland is demonstrating now with the new Government stripping the Constitutional court of its powers. It is one weakness with the whole idea of judicial review and legal norms.

406

magari 02.21.16 at 7:54 am

Val, let’s reverse it one more time. The idea that women understand women’s views and are able to represent them is predicated on the assumption that, for example, Hillary is a woman and I am a woman therefore she understands me and will represent me. This is pure identity politics. The counter would be the argument that Hillary shares my interests and therefore she will fight for me. Interests are not identity (I am a woman but I am not workplace equality) and therein they can be shared by those who we do not identify with. If the relevant metric is interests, then anyone who shares my interests shares my politics, regardless of their sex, age, country of origin, etc. Hence the sex of Clinton and Sanders drops out of the equation.

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kidneystones 02.21.16 at 8:25 am

Just watched the conservative press assessment of the S.C. results, including some after the news broke that Jeb is out. Only an establishment hack clung to the notion that Trumps 50/50 favorable unfavorable ratings among Republicans will ensure that Trump loses to Rubio. The majority see Trump running the table. The desperate believe Rubio can beat Trump once Cruz drops out. Indeed, one went so far as to argue that Cruz is finished, with another predicting Cruz withdraws within two weeks. So, the quality of punditry hasn’t improved much.

The assumption that Trump can be stopped hinges on a single idea: head to head the establishment candidate Rubio (new speak: Mainstream candidate) will beat Trump in winner take all primaries from March because the field will be winnowed to two. See?

Should the bright bulbs elect to pull their heads from their butts, they’d see the critical flaw in this strategy. Carson is going to continue to compete for the social conservative vote and won’t quit right away, especially after that stunt Cruz pulled in Iowa. Kasich isn’t going to quit because he is now the sole remaining governor in the race. And while the ‘Trump can be beaten’ theorists might wish that Carson and Kasich drop out very soon, their entire theory rests principally on the common sense and party loyalty of one Ted Cruz, the single most divisive Republican in modern electoral politics.

All those who figure that Cruz drops out to make way for Rubio for the good of the GOP, raise your hands.

In other words Trump just secured the GOP nomination.

408

Peter T 02.21.16 at 8:52 am

A great deal of politics at this level is identity politics in a larger sense – the identity of the political unit. And that identity defines the political nation, and weights the voices therein. The US as “imperial nation”, or as “the world’s greatest economy” will lean to the VSPs in a way that the US as “our common home” will not (leaving aside that the latter will then lead to a bitter discussion of just who “our” includes). That’s why history is so fraught – it’s the image of our current political selves.

Consider the way Britain after 1856 constructed itself as the centre of an empire – the conductor of a mighty imperial orchestra (before it had been more like the manager of a very successful carnival, whose various concessions and rides were scattered across the globe). The facade held up until 1946, but the image lingers on even to today, shaping British politics and lives.

US choices in 2016 have the potential, it seems to me, to embed in the political discourse a set of practices that will shape US life for decades. A Republican victory (any current candidate) will lead to a wave of both popular and institutional violence against women, minorities, Muslims, immigrants (physical attacks, but also registration, denial of the vote, restrictions on reproductive freedom, deportation…) which violence will then be entrenched and defended by one party (because to do otherwise is to concede ground) and – hopefully – attacked by the other. It’s a ground of political conversation that should be avoided if at all possible.

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Val 02.21.16 at 9:16 am

engels – I think I am beginning to get this. You use the term “identity politics” to refer to a politics that uses appeals to a supposed common identity (based eg on ethnicity or sexuality) to disguise actual material inequalities or power differentials and maintain the neoliberal status quo, right?

However Bruce Wilder it seems goes beyond this (at least in regard to Hilary Clinton) and suggests that anyone who talks about her track record on race or gender issues, is using “identity politics” for the sole reason of maintaining the neoliberal and warmongering status quo. He seems to suggest this even if the people raising the issues are themselves women or people of colour; indeed he seems at times to suggest that anyone who raises issues of race, gender or minorities in any context (even in terms say of who participates in CT discussions) is doing so because of this form of “identity politics” which has the primary motivation not of ensuring fair representation of women, people of colour or other minority groups, but of maintaining the neoliberal status quo. That’s the position that I call stupid.

If this isn’t Bruce Wilder’s position, then I’m doing him an injustice, but that is how he sounds to me at times. (It possibly is Bob’s position, but who knows, and I am really beginning to think it’s not worth even thinking about Bob’s position any more, after some of the stuff he’s said on this thread)

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Val 02.21.16 at 9:31 am

Magari sorry but you also seem to be arguing the neoliberal argument about identity and interests, and I don’t agree with that in the first place, so we dont seem to have a ground for debate, since I don’t accept your premises.

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kidneystones 02.21.16 at 9:34 am

@ 408 Please provide a concrete list of ways that Britain became less liberal, less progressive towards immigrants, less understanding of the concerns of women from 1846, etc on. I can easily provide a very long list of ways that Britain has improved steadily, for the most part, until fairly recently. And even now the problem is income inequality. In most other respects Britain is infinitely more just and egalitarian than it was even 1oo years ago. That’s fault-riven baseline for your dire forecast about the imminent destruction of civil liberties in the US by a Republican candidate who just defended planned parenthood, another who is himself Latino and came second in South Carolina – deeply evangelical state that for some reason elected a female governor of Indian descent, and who celebrated his election victory with an African-American elected official.

In the world the rest of us inhabit, Republican presidents have been elected more often than Democrats and the U.S. constitution is still functioning, gay marriage just passed, crime is generally down, and Democrats aided and abetting all of the wars of the current century in addition to those they actually started or accelerated. The Democratic front-runner has supported every US war of this century, as best as I can tell, is far from a firm friend of anyone, especially women, and is at least as likely to repeat the errors of past presidents as any of the GOP candidates. Having survived Nixon, Reagan, and 2 Bush’s I’m certain the US government and the US constitution will still be functioning whether a Dem, or a Republican is in office. On the question of civil liberties, Democrats in the WH have worked hand-in-hand with their GOP House colleagues to set up the data-bases you fear lie somewhere in the future.

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Ze K 02.21.16 at 9:50 am

@333 “The Clinton-Bush-Obama consensus has the US Gov, in league with states where apostasy is a crime, Countering Extremism by using drones to burn people to death and justifying this by calling the victims heretics. Getting a critic of Islam like Trump in the Whitehouse would be an enormous improvement.”

Nah, fella, I don’t think so. If I were to accept your anti-Islam delusions, I would definitely argue that the Bush-Obama strategy – namely: promoting, facilitating, and constantly aggravating sectarian and ethnic hostilities within Islam – is a far more effective strategy, far more preferable to Trump’s general anti-Islam slur. Uniting your enemy against you is never a good idea. And I’m sure this is well-understood by the professionals in the state apparatus. And should Mr Trumps win the elections and keep shooting off his mouth, they’ll find a way to make him smarten up and get on with the program.

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Neville Morley 02.21.16 at 9:52 am

Caveats: not American, not a big HRC fan, and may well have missed this point being made 200-odd posts ago – but isn’t the thing about Clinton and the female vote at least partly about the fact that she has (at least in the past, at least partially) espoused feminist ideas, so the argument for women voting for her is not (or not only) ‘mere’ identity politics or the symbolism of a female president, but objective grounds for believing that she is committed to doing things that will be good for women? Which would clearly distinguish her from Thatcher, for a start.

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Val 02.21.16 at 10:25 am

Magari, sorry again, I think l may have misunderstood you in my comment @ 410. In my defence though, what you were saying isn’t particularly clear, even when I re-read it. So can we ground this discussion a bit?

Your country (I presume it’s the USA, sorry if that’s not right) has a very low representation of women in your legislature, and you’ve never had a female President. You rank 75th in the world in terms of female representation (http://www.ipu.org/wmn-e/classif.htm) – interestingly, well below countries like Afghanistan and the United Arab Emirates. Think on that!

My country, Australia, is pretty bad at 46th, but yours is truly awful. Now by your reasoning that doesn’t really matter, but I think it does. If I were a woman in America, I might even vote for Sanders, as I said earlier, but I would be truly disappointed that I couldn’t vote for the female candidate.

415

magari 02.21.16 at 10:39 am

Val, good retort. All things being equal I’d like to see more women in positions of power, if for no other reason than for (a) the demonstration effect it would provide for young women (see Jessica? women can do anything!) and (b) the normalization over time of women’s presence in all areas of the public sphere (see Bob? those women are running things and all hell ain’t breaking loose!).

The identity-based justification — women will help look after women is — is however, a highly dubious assertion.

416

Peter T 02.21.16 at 11:05 am

kidneystones

I was not positing that the construction of an imperial identity led to every bad thing – just noting that it changed the ways Britain interacted with the world and within itself. Nor do I think a Democrat victory will lead to paradise. But, given that the strongest power of the US president is to stop things happening rather than make them happen, and given the evident desire of many Republicans to make a great many bad things happen, I don’t think opening that gate will lead anywhere good. The example was of how a change in identity can be very hard to unwind – it defines the field on which the battles are fought.

417

Ze K 02.21.16 at 11:07 am

Where people vote for parties with well-defined platforms and ideologies, in systems with proportional representation, there, in every individual party, gender imbalance can be scrutinized and criticized, just as a corporation or organization can be scrutinized due to appearance of discrimination.

But where you’re choosing a person, an individual politicians to (ostensibly) represent your interests, there, choosing someone for their gender and against your interests, seems… hmm… problematic.

418

Lee A. Arnold 02.21.16 at 12:30 pm

Well it looks like Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee, so those of you who once fooled yourselves into thinking that Barack Obama would change US foreign policy much, may now snort knowingly that she will never get your discerning vote.

Indeed it looks like Trump may become the Republican nominee — which means you can be pleased when President Trump’s demonizing of Islam heightens the imperialist contradictions, and causes the whole system of plutocratic oppression to collapse in another century or two!

419

MilitantlyAardvark 02.21.16 at 12:40 pm

@418

It seems to me that Obama has changed US foreign policy quite successfully in some areas – the Iran deal being the obvious example, along with the disengagement from Iraq. Just two little things, I know, but worth putting on the credit side of the ledger.

As for Trump heightening the contradictions, I suspect that the ongoing disintegration of America’s infrastructure due to chronic short-termism and rightwing economic crankery will do more to cause collapse and in a rather shorter space of time.

420

Lee A. Arnold 02.21.16 at 1:28 pm

Obama is also managing the US’s involvement in the defeat of ISIS quite well, especially in light of the fact that there are at least 11 major interests involved inside and outside the region, each with its own competing vision of the end-game. ISIS has been losing ground for the last 6 months or so in both Syria and Iraq, and they ought to be gone in another year or two.

The complexity of that situation is such that Republican candidates find it easy to accuse Obama of failure, on the one hand, and on the other hand, some commenters above have accused Sanders of not understanding foreign policy as well as Hillary, or fault him with not expressing how he would change foreign policy, — when of course, Sanders probably understands foreign policy as well as Hillary, and wouldn’t change it much at all.

421

kidneystones 02.21.16 at 1:45 pm

@ 416 Hi Peter, thanks for the very civil reply. Whilst we disagree on issues here and there (arming rebels in Syria stands out) you add a great deal of sober, informed commentary. I’ve no problem (for what it’s worth) with your assessment here. I disagree generally on the cosmetic distinctions on foreign policy in particular ‘separating’ the GOP and the Democrats. I’m not in the least concerned by Trump. Indeed, I fully expect him to race back to the center once he’s confirmed as the GOP nominee. I supported HRC vs. O in 2008, just as I supported Gore vs. Bush. The last 8 years have caused me to rethink my former tribal loyalty to team blue. I don’t see how Clinton transforms herself into someone new. Sanders remains my first choice, despite my reservations about some of his skills. I recall listening to Paul Glastris and ? discussing the GOP field last summer. Both interlocutors argued that Trump would be the easiest to live with. I concur.

422

Donald Johnson 02.21.16 at 2:32 pm

Lee, if you included me in those commenters you refer to regarding Sanders, Clinton, and foreign policy, all I will say is you badly misunderstood. I think Clinton knows details and Sanders doesn’t. I think Sanders has less interest in US military intervention, but he has supported it in Libya, reluctantly or so I understand. Sanders supporters don’t see him as any great improvement in foreign affairs, just less militaristic than Clinton, which is a low bar.

On Syria, the big changes that will occur there are likely to come for better or worse from the Russian intervention, which happened against Obama’s wishes. His great accomplishment is Iran. His failures include supporting the Saudi bombing in Yemen and the Libya intervention and the support for “moderate”Syrian rebels.

423

LFC 02.21.16 at 3:55 pm

Neville Morley @413:
isn’t the thing about Clinton and the female vote at least partly about the fact that she has (at least in the past, at least partially) espoused feminist ideas, so the argument for women voting for her is not (or not only) ‘mere’ identity politics or the symbolism of a female president, but objective grounds for believing that she is committed to doing things that will be good for women? Which would clearly distinguish her from Thatcher, for a start.

Me @387 (emphasis added):

HRC, whatever her faults (and she does have serious ones), has actually been concerned about and active on women’s issues (access to justice, equal pay, domestic abuse, reproductive rights) during her career, afaik. An HRC presidency wd represent an important symbolic, and possibly in some ways substantive, milestone for feminism. The Thatcher analogy, I think, is quite inapt.

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engels 02.21.16 at 4:35 pm

objective grounds for believing that she is committed to doing things that will be good for women? Which would clearly distinguish her from Thatcher, for a start
The Thatcher analogy, I think, is quite inapt

Fwiw I don’t think anyone drew an analogy with Thatcher of said Shillary wasn’t distinguishable from Thatcher. I didn’t anyway. She seems less ideolovical and better integrated in networks of corporate power. In terms of good stuff she’s been doing for women did that include ‘ending welfare as we know it’?

425

Suzanne 02.21.16 at 4:38 pm

@400: Sanders likely did not help himself with the African-American community by accusing Clinton of pandering to black voters, whose loyalty to Obama has been unshakable, with her praise of her old boss. (He said this on the BET channel, no less.)

426

RNB 02.21.16 at 6:19 pm

Quick random thoughts.

1. Rubio beats Clinton in national polls (Trump does not). But don’t forget that George W. Bush had more than twice the lead on Gore in these kinds of polls (12 percentage points) than Rubio has now on Clinton, and a much greater net favorability rating than Rubio has. Bush went on to lose the election though the S.Ct. disagreed. My point: once the Democrats give him more of what Christie gave Rubio and focus on Rubio’s record of no-shows, Rubio will be toast.

2. The Republican establishment must know this and may even be more aware than your ordinary Democrat and independent of how dim-witted and unaccomplished Rubio is, yet Rubio is the darling of the establishment. Why? Nikki Haley referred to the stage that she, Rubio and some black Republican were on as a Benetton ad. The Republicans must fear looking like a party of old white men and think that they have to rebrand themselves. The Party has no chance of success, going forward, without making some inroads into the Latino population. The problem is that Rubio is a dim-wit while Obama was/is sharp and eloquent and can handle the highest levels of political complexity. But the Republicans can’t run the detested Cruz.

3. Sanders cannot have won the Latino vote in NV. The NYT explains why. The entrance polls also had Sanders in a tie with Clinton, so they must have under-sampled from precincts where Clinton was having the advantage. The best guess is that those were the kinds of precincts in which Clinton won a good majority of the Latino vote. I have seen it reported that Sanders actually outspent Clinton in NV; plus, the right-wing super PACS were going after Clinton.

4. I am wondering whether Sanders ever tries to guess what he thinks that his supporters believe he could actually deliver. He must know that he can’t get single-payer through when most of the Congress is trying to repeal Obamacare and when even only a handful of Democrats want to scrap ACA for single-payer; he knows that he can’t raise the top marginal rates by himself; he knows that he can’t determine the interest rate on students loans; he knows that he can’t reduce the prison population much through action at the federal level; he knows that he can’t break up the banks in a year through executive orders. Does he feel bad that a lot of the people supporting him think that he will do all this if they just send him $27 and vote for him? I mean even Kasich conditions his promises on what he thinks Congress will approve.

5. Are people’s principal problem with Hillary Clinton that she sounds like Thomas Friedman?

427

Consumatopia 02.21.16 at 6:48 pm

@425, very true, Sanders has kicked quite a few own goals with regards to that population. At least in that instance it was a gaffe rather than a falsehood–it is in fact true that Clinton is criticizing Obama a lot less now than she was in late 2014 (http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/08/hillary-clinton-failure-to-help-syrian-rebels-led-to-the-rise-of-isis/375832/ ) and I strongly suspect that once this primary is settled she’ll start criticizing Obama a lot more. Still pretty tasteless and stupid of Sanders to put it that way or really even to draw attention to it at all.

I’m skeptical that that sort of thing is the biggest obstacle between Sanders and African Americans. HRC said and did much worse in 2008. I think it’s much more likely to be a combination of Clinton’s institutional support and black suspicion of white economic populism. But I’m just guessing.

428

Lupita 02.21.16 at 6:55 pm

@RNB

Regarding your fourth point -how does Sanders plan to get his agenda implemented – I think he wants to take over the party. If he wins and, as new head of the party, does not let it accept donations from ‘the billionaires”, and gives a voice to his supporters, this would constitute the political revolution he is talking about. The same goes for Trump. I suppose, if he wins, he is going to slam the door on rich donors and take over the party.

Both parties have become empty shells ripe for the picking by an outsider. Gaining the nomination, or even a respectable amount of support, would permit Sanders and Trump to start taking over the parties they have both recently joined.

429

Dan H 02.21.16 at 6:58 pm

Bruce, your commentary is a light in the dark. Thank you. Ignore the gnats.

430

engels 02.21.16 at 6:59 pm

One reason I do have for wanting her to win if knowing what antiquated gendered term America will come up with for her partner. ‘First gent’?

431

RNB 02.21.16 at 7:03 pm

@428 I still don’t get how he takes over the party when so few people in the Congress and no in the Senate really supports any of his agenda. He does not want to compromise with them, and I can understand that. But that would make him more effective with us here kvetching than he would be in the Presidency. For example, he had good reasons to see the Paris Accords as limited but he simply criticized them; he did not go to Paris to negotiate as part of the Senate team. I don’t see what he actually gets done.

But enough Sanders criticism. Almost everyone I know does not support Clinton, and is favorable to Sanders.

I understand that many people have the same reaction to Hillary Clinton that they have to Tom Friedman as a mindless techno-optimistic booster of entrepreneurialism in a pluralistic country in a globalized economy. It’s not just that Clinton is a neo-liberal; she is a neo-liberal who sounds like Thomas Friedman. She supports inclusive institutions insofar as they are inclusive as Acemoglu and Robinson define them though unlike them she puts emphasis on how inclusive they are for women. Acemoglu and Robinson have almost nothing to say about gender. This is where Clinton is indeed progressive.

Still as almost all my friends feel, Clinton has an unsupportable faith that entrepreneurs will solve the most pressing problems; she wants tolerance mostly because it will allow venture capital to draw from a broader pool of talent; she judges the ultimate worth of an economic activity by the private profit that it generates whatever the negative externality (fracking, Keystone pipeline); she is blind to the devastation that trade has visited upon communities; she does not feel in her bones the moral outrage of widening wealth and income inequality in the US; she has never reflected on the costs of humanitarian imperialism or the sanctions that her husband imposed, and in fact has supported every war that the deep national security apparatus has wanted, as Jeffrey Sachs has argued.

Clinton is not a leftist. She does not want to be associated with the left. Almost everyone I know backs Sanders rather than Clinton. Can people on the left support Clinton both in the nomination process and in the general election? I think that we should!

432

RJ 02.21.16 at 7:21 pm

I’m all for substantive disagreement. I’m not for tribalist signaling.

RNB: people have given, on Crooked Timber and elsewhere, many, many substantive reasons not to support Clinton. So your ‘question’, “Are people’s principal problem with Hillary Clinton that she sounds like Thomas Friedman?” really strikes me as an asshole move.

Briefly: the neoliberal policies that she supports are intensifying mass poverty and increasing inequality. Americans should be able to have a President who does not accept paid speaking engagements to Wall Street. Americans desperately need leadership (pace Clinton) that recognizes, directly and unambiguously, that inequality and global warming are the biggest, most urgent problems. America needs to stop bombing brown children for the enrichment of its corporations, and she probably would do more of this than a President Sanders would. America needs a strong brake, now, in its rightward drift, and Clinton is a centre-rightist. The amelioration of global warming requires massive governmental intervention, and C is less likely to push for that.

Very briefly: with Clinton, more poverty and higher body count. I don’t like poverty, and I don’t like the murder of Arabs. Get it?

People may have other reasons to support Clinton, or feel that Sanders could not win a nationwide election, or think that me and others are mistaken in our assessments, or maybe don’t really care about dead Arabs. But I really, really wish people would stop pretending that Sanders supporters are simply irrational or hateful. Especially on Crooked Timber!

Here and elsewhere, I’ve seen very limited substantive criticism of Sanders, and not a single positive defence of Clinton. The evidence leads me to believe that there is no positive, rational case to be made for Clinton. If I am wrong, please enlighten me. I’m not being sarcastic, I promise.

433

Lupita 02.21.16 at 7:24 pm

@RNB

“I still don’t get how he takes over the party when so few people in the Congress and no in the Senate really supports any of his agenda.”

Just like the Tea Party took over the Republican Party. First, you form a faction and then expand it by getting your people into political office high and low, all around the country. The Tea Party accomplished this with rich donors. Sanders and Trump could do it by changing the way their parties fund themselves. Both have made a big issue of not receiving donations from the rich and I think this is a big part of their appeal. I think both are using their non-super pac campaigns as dress rehearsals for what they intend to do to their parties.

434

RJ 02.21.16 at 7:26 pm

RNB, your most recent post appeared for me after my post, and answered some of what I asked you. Thank you. I hope you will understand how some of what you posted before had an asshole appearance, though.

435

Ecrasez l'Infame 02.21.16 at 7:28 pm

It seems to me that Obama has changed US foreign policy quite successfully in some areas – the Iran deal being the obvious example, along with the disengagement from Iraq.

Given you view disengagement and 1/3 of Iraq being taken over by Jihadis bent on genocide, reviving slavery, reviving hudud, sponsoring international terrorism, wmd use, suppression of disbelief, etc. etc. etc. as an obvious success – I would be very interested to hear what you think would have been a failure.

436

Lupita 02.21.16 at 7:46 pm

@RNB

I don’t see why nominating Rubio would help Republicans with the Hispanic vote. OK, he’s Hispanic, but he’s also the soul-mate of Pinochet and Alberto Gonzales.

437

LFC 02.21.16 at 7:46 pm

Ecrasez @434
Obama had little choice but to disengage, at least substantially, from Iraq, as it was a key campaign pledge. Ideally, esp in hindsight, there prob should have been a status-of-forces agreement formally allowing for some continued US mil. presence at a level that cd still be called ‘disengagement’, but the Maliki govt did not make it easy to negotiate, and the admin had to eventually say ‘**** it’ and announce a disengagement date. That’s my reading, roughly, of what happened. (McCain and Lindsey Graham obvs have a different one.)

438

RNB 02.21.16 at 8:00 pm

@435 I think the error here may be the Republican supposition that Latinos are no better at telling each each other apart than they are.

@434 We could have had this level of catastrophe, plus the US spending a few more trillion dollars making things even worse had Obama not begun to disengage on the basis of his accurate understanding of what the sunk cost fallacy is.

@432. But the Tea Party has not been able to get anything done. This can’t be the model for Sanders.

@431 you misunderstand how I feel about Thomas Friedman

@431 It’s hard for us all to understand, but $600K in highly taxable income from speaking fees does not buy Hillary Clinton who is sitting on tens of millions dollars of wealth, I am sure the Clinton’s have good money managers. Those speaking fees are basically vacuum pennies for her. So this means that we have to compare her plan to regulate Wall Street with Sanders’; and he does not come out better even though they are not rewarding him.

http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2016-02-08/bernie-sanders-is-late-to-the-wall-street-revolution

http://rooseveltinstitute.org/new-nation-sanders-should-adopt-go-further-clintons-wall-street-plan/

@431 What do we make of the diplomacy with Iran for which which (I think) Suzanne has
said here HRC laid the foundations? What do people make of her chief foreign policy adviser Jake Sullivan? Or her chief senior adviser Maya Harris? Perhaps Clinton has changed since the 90s?

439

basil 02.21.16 at 8:09 pm

RNB,
What are our opinions on HRC’s stated, published attitudes about African
Americans – super predator kids, work-shy mums for example? What are our
opinions on the prison-industrial complex and HRC’s connections to it? What do
we have to say about the structural causes of poverty and destitution among
minorities and the HRC touted Welfare Reform role in entrenching and enforcing
these – especially given the scholarship showing the link between this present
day practice and long ago slavery? What are our opinions on HRC’s connections,
and loyalties to the corporations that so enervated and impoverished African
Americans through predatory lending?

What do we think people descended from IndoChina think of HRC’s tin-eared boast about
Kissinger’s approval of their conduct of international affairs?

What are our opinions on using little migrant Latin@ children to ‘send a
message’? What kind of mind speaks such words, on a national stage, in the glare of cameras?

What are our opinions on obliterating Iran? Or causing such unbelievable anguish
and destruction in Libya, and finding it a source of irrepressible mirth? What
are our opinions on HRC’s – to borrow from js’s formulation – ‘terrifying
hawkishness’ and their indulgence of present-day Netanyahu? Are we not reading
all the revelations on cash to their foundation from monstrous regimes, in return for weapons whose devastating work we see on television every night?

Why don’t THESE minority opinions and experiences matter? Why is the doer’s ardent articulation of these noxious positions, pursuit of these monstrous goals not as, or more scary, than a clown’s bluster, especially given that compared to Trump the doer has
experience of the consequences of pronouncing such opinion, knowledge of how dog whistling works and had even very recently to be restrained in their urge to do more, and do worse?

I agree with you that this space and many others could do with an injection of alternative perspectives, but before we go about accusing people of ignoring minority perspectives, before we conduct these identity headcounts, you and those like you might want to make clear why they are ignoring these minority perspectives.

440

RJ 02.21.16 at 8:13 pm

It’s not a question of the money as such. It’s that it is entirely inappropriate for a leader to be speaking to Wall Street for even $1.00 in the present environment. We need an unambiguous acknowledgement that financial markets are a) systematically destroying the ability to govern, and b) hovering up the proceeds of work done by the majority. Wall Street are a group of expensive rentiers who need to be pushed down 10 pegs, right now.

Perhaps someone will offer a post systematically comparing C’s and S’s approach to regulating markets. Something very, very strong is required; I’d like to see analysis from someone who doesn’t have skin in the game, certainly not from Bloombergview.

Still not seeing the positive case for Clinton.

441

Raisuli 02.21.16 at 8:16 pm

RNB@430

Is it possible that for the many of your friends who are Bernie supporters, Bernie is in fact seen as the right-most candidate they could vote for while still maintaining the feeling that they haven’t abandoned their actual beliefs? That Bernie himself already represents something of a compromise? I mean I know people that, at least when it comes to Wall Street and ‘big money’ stuff, you’d have to be nominating someone to the left of Robespierre to give them pause.

Everyone that I talk to in my general age group – 30 and under, let’s say – that isn’t set on voting for Bernie is set on voting for Trump (this group is smaller, to be sure; and I should also mention the two Born-again types I know for whom Cruz and Carson are the only ‘true Christian’ options), and I suspect that for many of those, if their candidate preference isn’t the nominee, their next choice is simply not voting at all.

442

RNB 02.21.16 at 8:19 pm

Sanders voted for the crime bill, and Kevin Drum has shown that it was not responsible for the horrific spike in incarcerations. I don’t give as much weight to her statements in the 90s as her voting record in the Senate on criminal justice issues. I think Ben Jealous going after her because she did not want to retroactively change differential penalties for crack and power is overdone since she supported doing away with the differential going forward. Clinton elevating Maya Harris tells me a lot. She has done a lot to protect the black community against economic injustice and police abuse. More at a practical, legal and policy level…
I know what she said about bombing Iran in 2008 and what she said about Kissinger but he result of her being Secty of State is diplomacy with Iran. This is why I supported Obama. The NATO bombing of Qaddafi was a mistake, but from what I understand he had lost power of the country already and was poised to strike out in increasingly brutal ways. And Sanders supported the bombing as well.

443

RNB 02.21.16 at 8:26 pm

Oh yes Clinton is clearly better on immigration than Sanders who opposed the Kennedy compromise that would have given a path to citizenship for 10 plus million people. Sanders hypocritically opposed due to guest worker provision for just 200,000 temporary workers whom he mislabels slaves; as Matt Yglesias has pointed out Sanders has supported guest workers for the dairy industry in VT. The more people learn about the Sanders, the more he is going to look like an ordinary politician.

444

Neville Morley 02.21.16 at 8:34 pm

@LFC #423: sorry, I missed that.
@engels #424: I wasn’t thinking specifically of your comments; actually I can’t recall whom I had in mind, but I did think someone had said something (?to Val?) along the lines of, well, couldn’t you make the same argument about Thatcher’s victory? I could cite LFC’s comment as evidence that I’m not the only person who thought analogies were being suggested…

445

basil 02.21.16 at 8:35 pm

An observation. As with the example of Corbyn before, many find it difficult to understand politics outside of the electoral pageant, control of the offices of the executive or of parliament and the judiciary. We have difficulty grappling with anti-leaders with poor hair and bent backs who don’t carry themselves with assured confidence or speak with the craft of princes. We want our heroic queens.

Like Corbyn’s faction, Sanders’ one can lose, and yet win by shifting the terrain on which future battles are fought. That’s exactly what the New Democrats and New Labour did. Perhaps it is difficult to see this because we don’t much respect people’s movements, and imagine that the anti-GMO/Occupy/UK-Uncut/StopTheWar/OnineFeminism/the counter globalization movements were failures.


As an example, Hillary’s failure with young women of all kinds, and the spread of intersectional analyses is a direct consequence of black women organising, learning and teaching on Twitter. I don’t foresee a kissing and making up for the general election. The lines have been drawn, the distinctions are too stark to ignore.

Also, what Lupita said.

446

RJ 02.21.16 at 8:44 pm

At last, a possible positive case for Clinton. Only had to ask n times. What, specifically, are these things Clinton has done “to protect the black community against economic injustice and police abuse”?

I agree that Clinton’s voting record is more important than her statements in the 90’s. Can we have a point-by-point comparison? Maybe somebody has done it already in print or on the Internet. Where? But I won’t click Matt Yglesias’s blog ever. Needs to be someone I can respect (doesn’t have to be someone I agree with).

I like Raisuli’s point above. Less, Sanders is a lesser evil too. I’m disappointed that he voted for the crime bill. How about a candidate who would ban private prisons? I suppose plain decency and minimal fellowship are too much to ask for.

447

Consumatopia 02.21.16 at 8:47 pm

“Sanders voted for the crime bill”

Because it was attached to stuff like the Violence Against Women Act. He spoke out against all the stuff like mandatory minimums and more money for prisons. Clinton spoke out in favor of those portions of the bill. “We need more and tougher prison sentences for repeat offenders. We need more prisons to keep violent offenders for as long as it takes to keep them off the streets…. We will be able to say, loudly and clearly, that for repeat, violent, criminal offenders — three strikes and you’re out. We are tired of putting you back in through the revolving door.”

The crime bill made things worse, but, sure, the real problem was in the states. But that statement indicates that Clinton approved of what was happening in the states as well. Here is an interesting account of her criminal justice record: https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/05/01/a-more-or-less-definitive-guide-to-hillary-clinton-s-record-on-law-and-order It’s not all bad, but it doesn’t really reflect great judgment on her part.

Discount all this you want–it’s obvious what conclusion you want to reach–but it’s simply the case that Clinton in the 1990s believed in a lot of deeply evil things that Sanders rejected. Sanders deserves credit for that. Characterizing the difference as “Sanders voted for the crime bill” is misleading. Support Clinton if you like, but you should ask yourself what kind of centrist liberal groupthink she’ll go long with next.

448

Consumatopia 02.21.16 at 8:49 pm

“Sanders hypocritically opposed due to guest worker provision for just 200,000 temporary workers whom he mislabels slaves;”

It was SPLC who argued guest workers like slaves. They had a point–there’s a lot of abuse in guest worker programs.

449

engels 02.21.16 at 9:02 pm

Neville, fair enough. In asking Val about Thatcher I hadn’t meant to imply she was similar to Clinton but test her principle (of feminists supporting female candidates because of the historical exclusion of women) on a (to me) more clearly unfavourable case.

450

engels 02.21.16 at 9:05 pm

Neville, fair enough. In asking Val about Thatcher I hadn’t meant to imply Thathcer was similar to Clinton but test Val’s principle (of feminists supporting female candidates because of the historical exclusion of women) on (what I took to be) a more clearly unfavourable case.

451

Raisuli 02.21.16 at 9:10 pm

I think the primary thing that needs to be understood when it comes to supporters of both Sanders and Trump is that there’s an already large (but still, I think, rapidly growing) number of people for whom the #1 qualification is something along the lines of “how credibly can you claim to not be bought?” and that coming up short on that makes you a non-starter, to the point that an issues-based discussion only comes after that.

452

basil 02.21.16 at 9:10 pm

Not a lawyer for Sanders, he is still a part of the establishment and will not challenge some of its orthodoxies, but I think he is very lucky that he has lots of evidence in recorded speeches and newspaper cuttings of his participation in rejecting

i) misogyny and a woman’s autonomy over her body – even got declared an honorary woman
ii) racism and the discriminatory provision of services
iii) war
iv) the mass incarceration-industry and in particular its being targeted at ethnic minorities
v) the war on minorities presented as a war on drugs
vi) homophobia

On this and much more, he was ahead of the curve, and took positions before it was the mode to adopt them. These, many of them impassioned and detailed speeches, are also useful for explaining the complications of his votes, on that Immigration Act, on that Crime Bill and on Libya. It should be possible to find them with a quick search.

In the latest social media news, it is suggested that both Dolores Huerta and Katy Perry had to be paid to turn up for HRC. Truly, the distribution channels ramify in the most interesting ways.

453

Lupita 02.21.16 at 9:41 pm

“Sanders hypocritically opposed due to guest worker provision for just 200,000 temporary workers whom he mislabels slaves”

Agricultural migrant workers, almost all undocumented Mexican and Central American semi-literate peasants, are indeed treated like slaves. Or animals, perhaps. Definitely like garbage. Furthermore, we are not talking about 200,000 living in undignified conditions; it’s closer to two million.

Many agricultural workers are not provided with housing and actually sleep under the stars and have to find streams to bathe in and wash their clothes. They are alone, without their families. Many of these labor camps receive the visit of prostitutes once a week, for which the men line up to receive their services. Many of the prostitutes, needless to say, are HIV positive heroin addicts which has led to the statistical fact that most AIDS cases in Mexico are not in urban areas, but in isolated rural communities. Most cases are transmitted from migrant workers who have worked in the US to their wives. Quite sordid, no?

If Sanders believes that there are workers who are being treated as slaves, I wonder if he would make a little campaign stop in Imperial Valley to see what is happening with his own eyes. Not voting for an immigration bill is not enough.

454

RNB 02.21.16 at 9:43 pm

To make clear distinctions with Clinton Sanders should run on the following three issues

1. making the tax system more fair by taxing people according to their actual ability to play. This would be a combination of FDR’s principles and Piketty. Sanders’ stuff about the 1% rigging the economy has become empty; he should concretely lay out how people’s entitlements and tax burdens are affected by an unfair tax system that the Democrats have done little to reform.

2. breaking with neo-liberal free trade policy by stiffening labor and environmental protections and by expanding assistance of communities hurt by liberal import policies and surges in the value of the dollar.

3. by promising to empower the SEC to take stronger action against financial fraud.

455

js. 02.21.16 at 10:03 pm

Mike Konczal yesterday weighed in on the Friedman/CEA dustup and Sanders’ policy proposals more generally. The piece is very much worth reading.

456

bob mcmanus 02.21.16 at 10:09 pm

As an example, Hillary’s failure with young women of all kinds, and the spread of intersectional analyses is a direct consequence of black women organising, learning and teaching on Twitter.I don’t foresee a kissing and making up for the general election. The lines have been drawn, the distinctions are too stark to ignore.

Clinton is gonna lose, and maybe lose big. The Democratic Party has abandoned an entire generation, and will not get them back. Part of this is simply the disinterest by the National Party in local politics in Red States, the loss of Congress and statehouses, and the consequent inability (and frankly, the disinclination) to deliver any material goods to local constituencies.

Trump or Cruz will be able to get bridge built or the army contract or the special tax break or the SCOTUS justice. Clinton will either get nothing or achieve something only with an unacceptable simultaneous loss, by making a servile deal with Republicans, and thereby reinforcing the meme that Republicans are tolerable partners. But seeing that, why would anyone vote for her?

I expect a whole generation, just as in the 70s and 80s, to move to the Republicans, where they will have to hold their noses to make a deal, but a worthwhile deal is still possible and better than nothing.

I could say Sanders will be different, but Sanders is gonna lose to Clinton, and is irrelevant.

Prepare for accommodation with fascism, or very underground resistance. How did liberals let this happen? Again?

457

Bruce Wilder 02.21.16 at 10:36 pm

“How did liberals let this happen? Again?”

Many liberals aren’t.

458

bob mcmanus 02.21.16 at 10:37 pm

And no, the Sanders movement will not use the loss to take over the Democratic Party.

After the upcoming 1980-level loss (how could a senile actor beat a integrationist nuclear engineer?) down in the pits the old elite accommodationists will talk about “realism and meliorism” and some kind of neo-DLC will control the rump Democrats in the dying Northeast and Rustbelt.

I suggest getting radically local and starting a new socialist/populist party on local levels. 2016 will finally kill the Democratic Brand.

459

engels 02.21.16 at 10:53 pm

Hillary Clinton received more money from weapons makers than all other candidate, including Republicans https://t.co/D848UqRkXH
(https://twitter.com/RaniaKhalek/status/701526694683926528?s=02)

460

geo 02.22.16 at 12:15 am

bob @455: Prepare for accommodation with fascism

How about we all buy an island — call it Crooked Timber Island — and wait out the fascist period together in peace and harmony?

461

Bruce Wilder 02.22.16 at 12:18 am

Maybe, Hillary in her post-election career as a mortgage broker at Goldman Sachs, can get us a favorable rate on a loan.

462

RNB 02.22.16 at 12:31 am

@459 Would have to guess that the political scientists’ models show that a severe economic downturn and/or terrorist attack on the US in Sept or Oct could result in a Republican sweep. So perhaps buy an option on that island.

463

phenomenal cat 02.22.16 at 12:37 am

“I expect a whole generation, just as in the 70s and 80s, to move to the Republicans, where they will have to hold their noses to make a deal, but a worthwhile deal is still possible and better than nothing.” mcmanus @455

Come on, Bob. You say you’re a Marxist. Where’s the dialectical materialism in that prognostication? Things may get worse, but it won’t look like the 70’s/80’s. The ground is shifting. That the snakes, con-men, and useful idiots that comprise the Repub. field are getting their collective ass handed to them by Trump is but one indication. Less and less of the public is willing to accept the consensus rhetoric on a number of issues. Like I said, a status quo candidate may well win this election but in the end that will only serve to further highlight the mendacity of said consensus rhetoric. The disconnect between the political programs (and propaganda) of most, if not all, of the candidates and actually existing socioeconomic reality is growing too large.

Several people have noted that it doesn’t matter too much who gets elected in the grand scheme of things; that whoever it is, good or bad, can only make changes on the margins. That’s probably accurate as far as it goes. And if it is, it is probably best to read this election as merely a symptom or sign of other larger and more nebulous forces at work. The ground is shifting. The direction and shape of the shift will be up for grabs. But at least it will be up for grabs.

464

js. 02.22.16 at 12:43 am

I think I might take the US with Clinton as prez over Crooked Timber Island with mcmanus and Bruce Wilder as head honchos. I mean, I might not love Clinton, but I maybe trust those dudes even less.

465

js. 02.22.16 at 12:44 am

It’s, you know, the lesser of two evils.

466

geo 02.22.16 at 12:55 am

js @463: There will be no head honchos. The governing structure of the island will be anarcho-syndicalism, with scattered enclaves of anachrono-cynicalism.

467

Lupita 02.22.16 at 1:07 am

How about a head honcha?

468

Bruce Wilder 02.22.16 at 1:19 am

anachrono-cynicalism

!

469

magari 02.22.16 at 1:38 am

Lupita, you miss one critical point about ag “guest workers”. They are only permitted to work on the farm that brings them over. If they are mistreated, they cannot “shop” for another job like a regular worker. Hence, the farmer that contracts their labor has huge leverage over them. The worker worries that complaints will lead to termination and deportation. This permits abuses.

470

Ronan(rf) 02.22.16 at 1:49 am

I would give it a week before McManus is declaring the island government illegitimate and demanding wilders head on a stick. Which is the way it should be

471

bruce wilder 02.22.16 at 1:55 am

capital letters are mine, give the back!

472

bob mcmanus 02.22.16 at 2:21 am

Revolution is not only permanent, but immanent, irrevocable, non-ergodic, trans-individual, and distributed.

Much like Grace, really.

473

Val 02.22.16 at 2:41 am

magari @ 415
The identity-based justification — women will help look after women is — is however, a highly dubious assertion.

I’ve never argued that and I wouldn’t – it’s clearly wrong (think of the Maggie Thatcher example – women like her or Sarah Palin in some ways have to be ‘more macho’ than the men in order to have cred in their parties). It’s more about critical mass and lived experience.

For example, recently in Australia there has been a rule change in Parliament to allow MPs to bring infants into the House if necessary. I won’t go into all the details, but main reason this has happened is because there were some female MPs who were breastfeeding when the division bells rang. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-02/breastfeeding-politicians-allowed-to-bring-children-into-chamber/7133324

No matter how well intentioned male MPs may be, it’s just highly unlikely that this sort of change would happen if there weren’t a critical mass of female MPs.

There’s a good article (which I first saw cited at feminist philosophers) about why women might be more likely to vote for Hilary after they have been in the workplace a while http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/21/opinion/campaign-stops/why-sexism-at-the-office-makes-women-love-hillary-clinton.html?ref=opinion&_r=0

I know several women in their thirties who are at the critical stage in their careers – the early family and work years. Even if they have supportive partners, the women are the ones who are likely to be breastfeeding* and getting up to the kids in the night, and even after they have stopped breastfeeding, the children will still tend to want their mothers when they are sick or upset. So the women are going to work physically tired. It’s this kind of experience that men, no matter how well meaning, don’t tend to bring to the table (especially older men of course, but even if younger men are much more understanding, there’s still a difference between being aware of a phenomenon and actually experiencing it)

Basically as I said it’s a matter of simple justice – of course women should be equally represented in the legislature and the fact that we are not is the real scandal here – but the life experience of ‘being embodied as a woman’ is also relevant.

As I said earlier, I don’t follow US politics very closely, but even I know that Hilary Clinton has said good things about work and family for a very long time – how long ago was the ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ remark? A long time.

*(Women in Australia, particularly professional women, tend to breastfeed more and for longer than in the US. It’s one of a few areas where our culture is a bit more like the Scandinavian countries than the UK or USA)

474

Val 02.22.16 at 2:48 am

I should make an apology – I keep spelling “Hillary” wrong (with one l) – as well as falling into the trap of being more likely to call female candidates by their first names, even though I try to resist that.

475

LFC 02.22.16 at 4:13 am

phenomenal cat @462
The ground is shifting. That the snakes, con-men, and useful idiots that comprise the Repub. field are getting their collective ass handed to them by Trump is but one indication.

Trump is himself a con man. I heard part of an interview w him today in which he said, among other things, that he favors repeal of Obamacare but he didn’t specify what it wd be replaced with. He did say repeatedly, however, that “we will have great health care” (in a Trump administration). Also repeatedly said that “people will not die on the streets” for lack of money or medical care. He wants it all ways: repeal Obamacare, no coverage mandate (he disowned a tossed-off previous remark in a forum in which he’d said “I like the mandate”), yet health care will be “great” and, by implication, no one will lack for it. His speech after the SC primary was repulsive in its demagoguery and xenophobia.

He is either an idiot or he thinks the electorate is composed of idiots, or both. Completely unfit to be president.

476

ZM 02.22.16 at 4:23 am

“He is either an idiot or he thinks the electorate is composed of idiots, or both. Completely unfit to be president.”

Both.

477

LFC 02.22.16 at 4:24 am

Ronan
I would give it a week before McManus [sic] is declaring the island government illegitimate

mcmanus must be one of the relatively few residents of Texas who reads gobs of postmodernism, watches recondite Japanese films, and writes comments about revolution being “immanent” and “non-ergodic.”

I don’t know offhand what ‘non-ergodic’ means but I do know what the word “immanent” means. To say that revolution is “immanent” sounds profound and all that, but it was implausible when Charles Reich said it in 1970, implausible when [fill in the blank to your taste] said in the C19, and to say it in 2016 is — I can’t find the right word.

Meanwhile we are treated to dogmatic prognostications of the “Clinton’s gonna lose big variety” which might turn out to be correct (though I doubt it), but I suspect you’d have better luck in the betting market grabbing a random person off the street and asking what they think. (There are reasons to think Clinton wd be effective against Trump; someone elsewhere was citing her experience running vs Lazio, who was apparently given to blustering etc.)

478

LFC 02.22.16 at 4:28 am

sorry, placement of a quotation mark in the above is wrong. pls adjust accordingly.

479

phenomenal cat 02.22.16 at 5:03 am

LFC,

I never said he wasn’t. He is running a different con. One that has the virtue of exposing the Washington Consensus verities and “benevolent hegemon” platitudes for the horseshit that it is. It’s only working because a critical mass of the public is no longer willing to swallow said horseshit. That it is a bonafide cartoon figure/carnival barker doing this only goes to show how degenerate the current political economic order has become.

Trump is a symptom of the situation we are in, or at least most of us. He is a sign of the times. I’m not endorsing the goofball.

480

LFC 02.22.16 at 5:34 am

@ph. cat: noted

btw, in case someone is wondering, I do know the difference betw “immanent” and “imminent”

481

Vasilis 02.22.16 at 9:55 am

“…stage a tactical retreat because, in the end, you want to be moving forward not back.””

The implication that nominating and confirming a conservative judge who will stay for a decade or longer on the Supreme Court and complete via judicial edicts the dismantling of any progressive political program is a ‘tactical’ retreat is fairly ludicrous.
I cannot even begin to understand how the effect on such a strategy on progressive voters are completely overlooked by the OP. Only Repubs are considered. This seems much closer to the “punch a hippy” dem “strategy” than the OP is willing to accept.

482

Val 02.22.16 at 11:48 am

483

engels 02.22.16 at 5:10 pm

484

Bruce Wilder 02.22.16 at 5:41 pm

I’ll see if I can correct that link and add another.

I’ll be so proud when my daughter is president and runs a corrupt oligarchy by Kiese Laymon, The Guardian

That was good. Now this.

Why Baby Boomers Don’t Get Bernie Sanders by Bryan Williams (economist), The New Republic

485

William Timberman 02.22.16 at 5:50 pm

Populism explained:

From Kant:
<blockquoteAus so krummen Holz, als woraus der Mensch gemacht ist, kann kein ganz Gerades gezimmert werden. Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no (wholly) straight thing was (can) ever be made.</blockquote

German folk saying:

Krummes Holz gibt auch gerades Feuer. Even a crooked log (can) make a straight fire.

Like it or not, we are now living in interesting times.

486

Donald Johnson 02.22.16 at 5:52 pm

I think you mean Boris Johnson and Donald Trump, Val. Unless it’s a joke.

Here is a link about those wonks (Krugman and the CEA people) who think Sanders isn’t ready for prime time because of the Friedman paper.

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2016/02/krugman-and-his-gangs-libeling-of-economist-gerald-friedman-for-finding-that-conventional-models-show-that-sanders-plan-could-work.html

487

LFC 02.22.16 at 6:01 pm

@engels
fyi: your links are 404’ing (as BW implied) b/c you are putting the CT post link in front of the Guardian (etc.) links. (Not, in all honesty, that I’m rushing to click on ’em myself, but some people might be interested.)

488

Ze K 02.22.16 at 6:14 pm

He’s not putting anything in front. He’s omitting http colon slash slash, and so it’s interpreted as a relative address.

489

Plume 02.22.16 at 6:26 pm

Here’s a wiki precis of ergodic.

Ergodic hypothesis
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The question of ergodicity in a perfectly collisionless ideal gas with specular reflections.
This device can trap fruit flies, but if it trapped atoms when placed in gas that already uniformly fills the available phase space, then both Liouville’s theorem and the second law of thermodynamics would be violated.

In physics and thermodynamics, the ergodic hypothesis[1] says that, over long periods of time, the time spent by a system in some region of the phase space of microstates with the same energy is proportional to the volume of this region, i.e., that all accessible microstates are equiprobable over a long period of time.

Liouville’s Theorem states that, for Hamiltonian systems, the local density of microstates following a particle path through phase space is constant as viewed by an observer moving with the ensemble (i.e., the convective time derivative is zero). Thus, if the microstates are uniformly distributed in phase space initially, they will remain so at all times. But Liouville’s theorem does not imply that the ergodic hypothesis holds for all Hamiltonian systems.

When every other word is esoteric jargon (to the outsider), with references to insider theories of said esoteric jargon, it can be a bit off-putting. And then adding a “non” in front of all of that?

490

RNB 02.22.16 at 6:46 pm

@486. First, Smith does not really address what raised eyebrows. Upon reading the NYT article I immediately posted here and at Corey Robin’s website that I could not believe a Sanders’ economist thought a 5% growth rate per annum over a decade was a reasonable projection. We had a long discussion of Piketty’s book, and given slowing population growth and even under the most optimistic assumptions of rising productivity growth, I did not see how that number was reasonable. Now to come back and say that under certain assumptions models enable that projection means that you take models over historical evidence over the last fifty years. Obviously what it means is that the model is likely wrong. Just look at Krugman’s graph on the growth rates per annum over the last fifty years and the flat line high above those points indicating a 5% growth rate per annum. It’s ridiculous. Anyone who had read Piketty or Robert J. Gordon would fear that Sanders was selling snake oil.
The second problem was how the Sanders’ backers responded to concerns that it would not be a good idea to back Sanders’ economics as being able to deliver 5% growth per annum over an entire decade. It was basically an ad hominem response. There was no careful discussion of what was reasonable and not reasonable to project. Look Sanders is vying for our vote. He is being tested now. People are taking him seriously. I take him seriously. Maybe his not taking super PAC money means that he can challenge the drug companies and Wall Street in a way that Clinton cannot. But his team has to strike the right tone in response to reasonable criticism and skepticism. Just calling opponents a sell-out is childish.
The third and related problem was the assumption that the multiplier could remain as high as Friedman had it not over a few years on infrastructure spending (as Larry Summers would argue) but over 10 years with 5% growth. I immediately said here that I could understand why the multiplier would be this high coming out of a downturn but I did not think that there is any theory or empirical evidence that would justify such high multipliers over ten years in an economy growing at 5% per annum.

491

bob mcmanus 02.22.16 at 6:47 pm

Coulda just googled “non-ergodic”

Web Dictionary of Cybernetics and Systems

Attribute of a behavior that is in certain crucial respects incomprehensible through observation either for lack of repetition, e.g., by involving only transient states which are unique, or for lack of stabilities, e.g., when transition probabilities (see probabilities ) are so variable that there are not enough observations available to ascertain them. evolution and social processes involving structural changes are inherently non-ergodic. To understand non-ergodic behavior requires either reference to the underlying organization of the system exhibiting it or the study of a large sample of systems of the same kind (see ergodic ). (Krippendorff )

492

bob mcmanus 02.22.16 at 6:58 pm

490: The NC link in 487 is recommended, it includes a link to pieces defending Friedman by Jamie Galbraith and JW Mason, who comments here a bit. There is quite a bit of pushback against the Gang of Four and Krugman, some at Econospeak for instance.

The discussion of the limits of growth and the possibilities of reverse hysteresis are important, and not at all limited to this primary campaign. There are subtle ideologies at work in the Rogoff and Reinhardt work, Christie Romer’s analysis of the depression, the “secular stagnation” hypothesis, Scott Sumners NGDP.

493

Val 02.22.16 at 7:47 pm

Donald Johnson @ 486
It was a joke, based on the strangely similar appearance (and eccentric behaviour) of the two men you mention. The links are pictures. They really are oddly alike.

Apologies to your good self however, no insult to you intended.

494

engels 02.22.16 at 8:07 pm

LFC – if I copy/paste URLs from my phone there’s no ‘http’ prefix. As Ze says, CT interprets this as a relative link to a nonexistent page. People can still view the correct page by deleting the CT domain from the address bar of the 404 page but I’ll try to remember to add it manually in future.

495

LFC 02.22.16 at 8:14 pm

@engels
oh, ok. (I don’t have a smartphone. I’m technologically backward, relatively speaking.)

496

Donald Johnson 02.22.16 at 9:31 pm

RNB, some of the links at the Smith site do in fact tackle the 5 percent claim. I don’t think the Sanders camp should use it, but as some commenter said somewhere (or maybe it was in a post), it was more like a two sigma deviation from the norm, not a six sigma figure the way Krugman was implying. Which is a metaphor for saying it might be unlikely but not totally insane. Krugman and cohorts are making this the equivalent of climate denialism, which is borderline dishonest in itself.

Also, if I recall correctly Obama did the same thing–his administration claimed their inadequate stimulus package was enough to bring ponies and unicorns (those being the preferred outcomes of all economic policies these days). Now it wasn’t politically possible to have a bigger stimulus, but it should not have been said to have been adequate when it wasn’t. I remember Krugman complaining about that. He didn’t say that this proved Obama wasn’t ready for prime time, for some reason. And Krugman consistently argued for a much larger stimulus. Sanders proposes one and rather than praise him for it, Krugman prefers to focus on the shocking fact that yet another economist has given us a rosy scenario. Sorry, but the claim of hurt wonkishness doesn’t fly. Krugman has been throwing every conceivable argument he could against Sanders, including some that seem hard to reconcile with his own earlier positions and this coincided precisely with the time when Sanders seemed to pose a real threat to Clinton. Now that she seems in a much stronger position, he will probably calm down and content himself with some occasional hippy punching just to keep his reflexes sharp.

497

Bruce Wilder 02.22.16 at 10:17 pm

Obviously what it means is that the model is likely wrong.

Well, duh. But, “the model” is always wrong, because the method, itself, is pretty much crap. It just isn’t possible to make a linear projection of the macro economy “work” plausibly for more than a few months and also convey meaningful information. (And, yes, non-ergodicity is one aspect of the problem.) Drawing trend lines with a straight-edge and then trying to achieve internal consistency with other trends will make some numbers go shooting off into space — every damn time.

The poverty of the method is what makes the CEA chairs and Krugman getting up on their respective high horses so absurd in its premise that some people — establishment figures, natch — are specially skilled and also serious. The “best” macro models are just a form of political abstract expressionism. They express the “serious” prejudices and notions of their authors, without producing even a caricature with enough resemblance to the real thing for someone not initiated into the priesthood to recognize.

What ideas is this exercise in abstract expressionism meant to convey? That’s where it gets interesting. Krugman goes off on an gratuitous excursion into character assassination, insulting Friedman. But, he does drop one useful tidbit of actual insight. “Growth” is a get out of jail free card for the politics of stalemate. Much of Sanders’ program is an attack on inequality grown extreme, extreme enough to induce stagnation. It is a not an unreasonable view that reversing inequality trends might relieve the economic stagnation, and growth makes that a positive-sum game. But, at its core, this political program requires taking from some sectors of the economy to relieve other sectors of the economy. Those whose interests are vested in the status quo may well prefer stagnation combined with the suffering of losers and outsiders. (Their candidate is Clinton, if you need that spelt out.) And they would prefer that political choice, and their own agency in making it, to be obscured. If you want obscure, a professional economist may have the requisite skillz.

498

engels 02.22.16 at 11:55 pm

So are we gonna make it to the half millenium?

499

The Temporary Name 02.23.16 at 12:12 am

Atop the crushed skulls of our predecessors!

500

RNB 02.23.16 at 12:24 am

Moving on to another issue… Trump may be able to win crucial swing states in the general election posing as a neo-mercantilist who will use US power to write trade and currency policies in the interest of US workers.

He is surely promising his followers that he will constitute them as a society in which they all belong, thereby creating a sense of ontological security, by establishing sovereign control over American territory by controlling the people and goods that can move over the border. Trump appeals not first and foremost to the pocketbook but to a sense of alienation and the loss of relative power.

The wall that others will be humiliated into paying for is symbol of the sovereign control through which Trump will make America America again.

Here’s rejoinder to Trump’s call to make America great again.
https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/let-america-be-america-again

At any rate, Clinton and Sanders better figure out how they are going to respond to this call for the reconstitution of society through the assertion of sovereign control over territory. They have to understand that Trump is unleashing a deep and complex emotion in his demagogic bid for the presidency.

Trump will say that Clinton’s emails show that she worked secretly for free trade deals that she was opposing in public. This will also reinforce doubts about her trustworthiness. It would be best if Clinton and Sanders challenge each other on trade so that they can figured out how they are going to handle the issue.

There is a sad truth that can’t be addressed in national politics; it could be that certain protectionist policies may bring some overall gain to American workers at the expense of much bigger welfare losses in poorer countries.

501

RNB 02.23.16 at 12:30 am

Sorry the second paragraph is wordy and/or garbled. The idea just came to me in between grading papers. I hope it makes sense anyway.
Now that Clinton has recommitted herself to the public option, does that dilute Clinton’s and Sander’s differences on health care policy? Or is the argument that you can’t get the same savings with the public option?

502

bob mcmanus 02.23.16 at 12:46 am

So are we gonna make it to the half millenium?

No. Two decades at the outside.

Last week when the January numbers were released, extrapolating from the recent unexplained accelerating spike in global temperatures, I was seriously wondering if the human race would go extinct in 2016. I lowered that to a 10% chance, awaiting the February records.

15 of 17 months all time records, November + 0.1, December +0.2, January +0.3 (F)

503

Bruce Wilder 02.23.16 at 1:23 am

always so cheerful, bob. didn’t you hear? we’ve reached peak paper! a few LED light bulbs, low-flush toilets and genetically-engineered, factory-made soylent, we’re good to go go on indefinitely. you just have to believe.

504

Plume 02.23.16 at 1:32 am

The World Wildlife Fund estimates that by 2030, we’ll need two entire earths to meet resource demands, and if everyone lived like middle class Americans, we’d need four.

In the last 40 years, we’ve lost half of our wildlife and roughly 90% of our fish stocks. It’s not just climate change we need to worry about. It’s mass extinction and natural resource depletion — which, of course, aren’t helped by climate change, either.

505

LFC 02.23.16 at 2:04 am

RNB @500
The thing about ‘the wall’ is pushing me to read a book that’s been sitting on my shelf for a long time: Wendy Brown, Walled States, Waning Sovereignty (2010; paperback, 2014). One point she makes in the first chapter is that while walls don’t actually work, they do address anxiety: “…walls generate what Heidegger termed a ‘reassuring world picture’ in a time increasingly lacking the horizons, containment, and security that humans have historically required for social and psychic integration and for political membership” (p.26).

506

bob mcmanus 02.23.16 at 2:12 am

Here’s the January NOAA report.

The January 2016 globally-averaged temperature across land and ocean surfaces was 1.04°C (1.87°F) above the 20th century average of 12.0°C (53.6°F), the highest for January in the 137-year period of record, breaking the previous record of 2007 by 0.16°C (0.29°F). This departure from average is the second highest among all months in the historical record, second only to December 2015, which was 1.11°C (2.00°F) above average. These two months are the only two to-date to surpass a monthly temperature departure of 1°C. January 2016 also marks the ninth consecutive month that the monthly temperature record has been broken and the 14th consecutive month (since December 2014) that the monthly global temperature ranked among the three warmest for its respective month.

Lots of graphs;the last few months are a remarkably consistent steep rise.

An Arctic methane release has always been probable; just a matter of when.

1) At first I though it was in Centigrade. Even assuming no acceleration, 0.3 degrees C per month for a year = 3.6 degrees C = extinction event. In F, it would be 1.8 C rise in 2016, this would be newsworthy. LOL.

2) If we are very lucky, we would get a nice 0.1 per month for the rest of 2016 = 1.7 or around a degree C in a little over a year. This would be news, going over 2.0 degrees faster than expected or prepared

3) If we are very unlucky it continues to accelerate. After 0.4 in February and 0.6 in March, Morgan Freeman will get on tv and send George Clooney and Matt Damon up in a rocket.

507

Lupita 02.23.16 at 2:35 am

“There is a sad truth that can’t be addressed in national politics; it could be that certain protectionist policies may bring some overall gain to American workers at the expense of much bigger welfare losses in poorer countries.”

You make it sound as if the US just announces what its trade policies are going to be and foreign countries meekly comply. It is not like that at all. Free trade treaties since the 90s have been negotiated between the US and foreign elites as a way to enrich themselves even more, mainly by destroying the labor and social rights of the workers of the countries involved. If Trump is going to re-negotiate a treaty, say NAFTA, to include the protection of American workers and strategic industries, then it would have to grant the same protection to Mexican workers and industries. If he did that, he would become the second most revered person in Mexico after Emiliano Zapata.

508

RNB 02.23.16 at 3:00 am

@505. Thanks! I taught Brown’s book a few years back, and forgot to make the connection. I recently responded to her on theme of visibility and invisibility in Marx’s work (people who thought I was sympathetic to Marx are giving me a very hard time for supporting Clinton, but that may well be the effect Trump is having on a lot of us). A lot of students here have found a stunningly accurate description of their lives in Brown’s critique of human capital as a model of neo-liberal subjectivity.

When I wrote my comment above, I had Maurice Godelier’s chapter on “What is a Society” in his Virginia lectures on anthropology. Here he emphasizes sovereignty, territory and the role of the imagination of a people constituting themselves and understanding themselves as a society with sovereign control of territory. But I am excited to look at Brown’s book again. Thanks for reminding me!

On a previous thread I tried to underline the fantastic nature of this wall–net immigration from Mexico is presently very low, and we know from Douglas Massey’s work that the effect of trying to close the border with Mexico has to be increase the number of illegal immigrants in the US as once people overstay their visas or get here illegally they are reluctant to leave due to the increased difficulty of getting back in. So the wall is not effective, it may well be counterproductive; it has value as a symbol…but of what? This we could try to better specify.

509

RNB 02.23.16 at 3:06 am

@507 I think your correction is important. Trump is giving this impression that the US can dictate terms to Mexico and China. He is giving the impression that the US has the power to dictate terms that would benefit US workers at the expense of foreign workers. But then again he actually has people believing that Mexico will pay for the wall. In fact he has his followers chant this as some of kind of ritual that people get themselves to do so that they won’t be consider sane anywhere but with themselves. This is part of some kind of hazing ritual Trump is putting his white frat brothers through.

I do think there is a problem here, though. The US may have the power to get protections that it denies to others–so possibly lucrative is access to the US market especially for poor societies in which internal demand is anemic. What we would prefer as world citizens may not be same thing as we prefer as citizens of a powerful nation-state.

510

RNB 02.23.16 at 3:11 am

@508 Another example of Trump’s destabilization of mental coordinates is Danielle Allen’s calling for Democrats to register as Republicans to ensure Rubio’s triumph over Trump. But see Krugman today on Rubio.

511

ZM 02.23.16 at 3:23 am

It is still possible to mitigate climate change if policies for rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are implemented in the next few years.

In terms of the amount of warming, for people in urban areas this can be more than mitigated by urban greening and daylighting more urban waterways, this can reduce urban temperatures by about 4 to 6 degrees C and make pleasant aesthetic and biodiversity improvements.

bob mcmanus, when Beyonce gets the Black Panthers a positive article in Teen Vogue you should be hopeful of The Revolution ;-)

http://www.teenvogue.com/story/black-panthers-party-beyonce-superbowl

512

Lupita 02.23.16 at 3:24 am

Maybe Trump is planning to destroy neoliberalism in exchange for a monument to himself in the form of a wall. I would consider that fair trade.

¡Viva el subcomandante Trump!

513

LFC 02.23.16 at 3:25 am

@508
thanks for the Godelier reference.

Re Danielle Allen: well, Rubio might be more difficult to defeat in the general. I assume she’s factored that into her thinking…?

514

LFC 02.23.16 at 3:32 am

The Danielle Allen thing (actually a WaPo column but this gives the gist):
http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2016/02/22/harvard-professors-want-democrats-to-follow-her-controversial-plan-to-defeat-trump-in-gop-primaries/

Rubio is quite revolting in his own way, so this is problematic, imo.

515

Plume 02.23.16 at 3:34 am

ZM,

No. It can’t be done as long as we have the capitalist system in place. People seem to be living in this Star Trek fantasy where all humans come together, work together, to avert global catastrophe. Capitalism prevents this. Capitalism atomizes us, pits us against each other, concentrates massive wealth, power, access and influence in very few hands, and this is in direct conflict with the best interests of the mass of humanity. Their goals, the goals of the capitalist class, run directly opposite to those goals which seek conservation of natural resources, the reduction of pollution, the reduction of consumption/production cycles, the reduction of waste and duplication.

As long as we have capitalism, we have a system that inexorably forces Grow or Die and mass expansion of consumption and production, which always equals waste and pollution. No escape. Not even if we could somehow, magically convince enough of the capitalist elite to work together on our behalf, on the earth’s behalf. They can’t do this and also prevent the collapse of the capitalist system itself. It is totally dependent on that endless growth and that endless expansion into newer and newer markets, and the endless depletion of natural resources.

To me, the real “utopians” are those who believe we can have our cake and eat it too. That we can have capitalism and save the planet. It. Is. Impossible.

516

RNB 02.23.16 at 3:35 am

@512! OK, but what should be the nature of trade and human movement between Mexico and the US? Open border? End agricultural subsidies in the US? Should multinational companies be taxed in terms of where they make their revenues or where they employ their workers? Where should disputes be adjudicated? Should regional trade agreements for global trade agreements? Should globalization not involve the ability stronger countries exercising extra-territorial authority, e.g the DEA making autonomous decisions in Mexico or the INS dictating actions within Mexico?

517

Lupita 02.23.16 at 3:51 am

The negotiations for the new NAFTA would include all the voices that were excluded the first time around: unions, workers, campesinos, indigenous communities, small businesses. But, somehow, I can’t imagine Trump as our liberator. There is something wrong with this picture. Does he even know what the Washington Consensus is? Can he be so ignorant as to inadvertently destroy neoliberalism?

518

RNB 02.23.16 at 4:04 am

Trump is looking to use access to the US market as a bargaining chip to get Mexico to pay for a wall, to behead those who cross a border to sell drugs, and to give authorization for gambling activities within Mexico to an agency located in Trump Tower.

519

phenomenal cat 02.23.16 at 5:04 am

“Re Danielle Allen: well, Rubio might be more difficult to defeat in the general. I assume she’s factored that into her thinking…?”
“Rubio is quite revolting in his own way, so this is problematic, imo.” LFC @ 513/14

I find the reasoning in her very reasonable arguments stunning. The best I can make out is Allen is mortally offended that a loud-mouthed crank could get even this close to the White House. Which is fine, but to construe from this that it is the patriotic duty of every right-thinking American to support Rubio against Trump beggars belief. The phenomenon of Obama-as-obedient-puppet-of-powerful-interests would be a pale and sickly shadow relative to a Rubio presidency. I don’t know, I guess I have to give Allen credit for not instructing the electorate to support Rubio or Cruz against Mr. Celebrity Apprentice. It’s definitely grading a curve though.

520

phenomenal cat 02.23.16 at 5:06 am

Bah, –should read “grading on a curve though.”

521

RNB 02.23.16 at 7:34 am

@505 On Fox tonight Cruz joined Trump in calling for the deportation of 12 million people today; he added the proposal to attach biometric devices for those here on visas so that they could be found and deported if they overstayed their visas. Richard Slotkin once referred to a metaphysics of Indian killing; he called it regeneration through violence. We now have a new version of myth that America becomes great again through racial violence against others who are sapping her of strength.
I don’t want to take this seriously. This can’t be serious, right? The Republicans voting for these demagogues don’t mean anything real, right? I mean, they think this is just one more Trump television show with as much relation to anything outside the image as his previous television offerings. Reality is fully “mediated”. There is nothing outside the image. The Republicans are just voting for the show to go on, to be entertained at the thought of brown people squirming in fear from politically incorrect language that is not being bleeped out.
But I think we need to start taking this “talk” much more seriously. It is too toxic, noxious, and horrifying. And becoming too real. The media out to make money are to blame. Exhibit one: the interview MSNBC gave Trump, i.e. the free air time. If people want socialism, begin with nationalizing the media.

522

TM 02.23.16 at 1:37 pm

521: See 82 above:

He [trump] is the frontrunner among a discredited field, in part (and I repeat myself from another thread) because our dumb-ass celebrity-maniac news-is-entertainment media have given him more exposure than probably any candidate in history ever got, vastly more by orders of magnitude than Sanders received although he actually got the most votes cast to date. Nothing suggests that Trump has the superior political skills some people here impute to him (and Kasich again gets touted as the strongest candidate ever, really folks???) .

SC has confirmed this. His share among right wing voters stagnates at 32%. (Btw Bush’s exit is great news but who in their right mind ever thought a spent politician with that discredited name was a splendid candidate?) I stick to it, Trump is a godsend for Democrats.

523

TM 02.23.16 at 1:38 pm

Blockquote mixup as always…

524

RNB 02.23.16 at 4:11 pm

@522. Yes you’re right about Trump as a media creation, but I think that people are working out that the delegate math is very favorable for him at this point. The Republicans have winner-take-all primaries and don’t use super-delegates. Trump may not require a serious economic downturn or terrorist attack to win, but either of those would, I think, increase the probability. So once Trump is nominated–and this seems likely–we are on the precipice of disaster. That’s what I was saying: this is really happening.

Now I am not sure Trump will really be able to hurt the Democrats on trade. He has said that he’ll stop China from manipulating its currency, but here we would have to look at the econometric evidence of how responsive US net exports are to changes in the value of the yuan and estimates of how undervalued the yuan actually is. Trump is, I believe, over-hyping this or scapegoating China, but Clinton should ready herself.

What can a President do about surges in the value of the dollar due to global panics and uncertainty? This does seem to hurt US exporters of medical equipment, construction equipment, and other manufacturers. Trump will make promises here, though he has no idea what he would do. Could he hammer out another Plaza Accord? Of course not; he’s a bullshitter. And if Plaza II leads to the collapse of the Japanese economy, is the US immune from that?

By taking sovereign control of the border, Trump also wants to stop the export of productive capital in the form of factories (he also wants to regulate the inflow of people and goods). He has not said anything about regulating the outflow of money capital. But it could be that the US government could use tax policy to discourage the export of US productive capital. The US government has done a lot to ‘encourage’ the Japanese and Germans to invest productive capital in the US through disguised protectionism. Is Trump ready to give those jobs up by breaking up the global system?

I am not sure protectionism is a winning issue. Free trade can create big losers but they seem to be concentrated while the majority does not seem hostile to globalization. Yes a surging dollar can hurt, but at the same time the US derives benefits from the inflow of cheap capital and goods; the US imports goods that are low value-added and exports one that are high value- added . Surely the US government should do more to disincentivze the closing of factories that are relocated and provide compensation for those living in areas suffering de-industrialization.

But ultimately this white nationalist project to reconstitute America as a great society again through assertion of sovereignty over its territory may not be as popular as Trump thinks, given that many people are enmeshed in and don’t think there is turning back from globalization.

But still all it takes is a serious downturn or terrorist attack, and Trump could ascend to the Presidency.

525

steven johnson 02.23.16 at 6:15 pm

Time to kill this thread?

Fascism is a political project of empire, a mass mobilization for conquest of possibly superior enemies, or a restoration after defeat, carried out in the name of the nation. Class collaboration in patriotism is the slogan of the day. Any material concessions to the lower classes are limited, and what there are tend to be taken from a minority targeted as alien. The superiority of the mass to the targeted other is a symbolic, moral incentive but official disabilities and extra-legal violence against them also intimidates the mass, while splitting the majority by actively enlisting its backward elements in paramilitary/vigilante violence. The social and economic elites may also be targeted insofar as they resist the project, while they too are split by favoritism toward actively collaborating elites. A unitary will is established by a singular leadership or one that is close held in a highly restricted circle.

The key elements are extralegal violence, official repression of a portion of the population, nationalism, militarism and dependence of politics upon a single will. Thus fascism can be found in impure forms, putting it on a continuum with capitalist democracy. Fascism per se began and flourished in states that lost the Great War, whether officially, like Germany, Austria, Hungary. Or in practice, like Italy, Japan, Romania, France. The Guo Min Dang in China, after attacking the Communists, is perhaps the historical formation with the most complex mixture of fascist and democratic elements?The elites in the great powers that genuinely “won” the Great War, being victorious, had no fearful enemies at home or abroad to compel them into submitting to the regimentation of a fascist/semifascist regime.

Official repression of slave or African-Americans, slave patrols and lynchings, redistribution of American Indian lands to the white population, Manifest Destiny, are all anticipations of elements of the full fascist phenomenon. In particular, it seems to me that the scientific racism of the Nazi variant was strongly influenced by slave apologetics. Ditto, the Tsarist empire with its legal restrictions on Jews, Black Hundreds and Cossack military colonies conquering the frontier. The Zionist state of course, with its official policies and its settler violence and its existence as the conqueror of Palestine, also has a powerful kinship with fascism, just like its old friend apartheid South Africa.

Now, keeping this in mind, we can think about Trump and fascism and the US elections a little more clearly. Looking at the world death toll, it is perfectly unclear that the US empire is facing the kind of enemy that will leave the Koch brothers or Warren Buffett or Carlos Slim or Bill Gates ready to submit to in preference to defeat by Iran or Bernie Sanders’ socialist terrorists. Further if Trump were truly committed to a fascist solution he would be (openly or covertly) supporting lynchings and pogroms (“riots”) against immigrants. A full fascist regime is simply not on the agenda, with one significant exception.

Of course it is incontestable that Trump is breaking new ground in racist demagogy. But the question with politicians is not whether they will keep their promises, but to whom they are really promising things. It is not at all clear that Trump means anything he says. On the other hand, the fascist elements in US society, such as extra-legal violence against minorities (especially African-Americans,) legal restrictions on whole categories of the population (immigrants,) militarism, the overweening Presidential system with the de facto disappearance of political parties, none of these are especially associated with Trump. But they are with every other candidate.

I mentioned one significant exception, which is US support for Zionism. All mainstream candidates are mainstream because they agree on this, including Sanders.

As for Clinton, she is the moderate conservative candidate. Since there are none running in the Republican Party, it seems to me that the CT should find her their natural choice. The Pentagon, the CIA and the national security advisor seem to me to have just as much, and likely much more to do with US foreign policy than the Secretary of State. So I’m not sure that Clinton really has a foreign affairs record separate from Obama. In any event, I’m no more certain that she will keep her promises than Trump. Like Obama, she will likely do what her constituency wants. That isn’t ordinary people.

As for Sanders, on budgetary grounds alone, military policy is decisive. Sanders is not even a dissident.

526

Ze K 02.23.16 at 6:49 pm

Here’s one view on Sander vs Clinton and the foreign policy.

527

RNB 02.23.16 at 7:15 pm

Well yes. I actually began the conversation here a month ago thinking that I would support Sanders due to his having better foreign policy ideas in regards to Syria, Israel/Palestine and Iran. After all, I opposed HRC in 2008 because I thought it was important to reject in the loudest terms the thinking that had led to the occupation of Iraq. But after I heard one of their first debates it was clear to me that Sanders did not think it was worth his time to develop any coherent differences with Clinton. This shouted insularity to me and I became alienated from him. He still does not have regular foreign policy advisers.
All that said, I read Paul Starr’s attack on Sanders for his socialism in Politico. Starr has been recommended to us here at CT. I think much of his criticism was irrelevant. Starr is very upset at the unprecedented capital gains taxes Sanders is proposing, but don’t they apply only to those making millions in capital gains? Starr did not clarify. I also did not understand his point about health care. US spends over 17% of GDP on health care. Then Starr raises the bogey of bigger govt, but one could have more govt in health care and a smaller percentage of GDP being spent on health care. I did not think his point was clear at all. Or made contact with Sanders.

528

engels 02.24.16 at 8:23 am

“I was upset with Sanders for failing to distinguish his foreign policy from Clinton’s and the kind of thinking that led to Iraq. So I’m voting for Clinton”

529

TM 02.24.16 at 9:12 am

530

RNB 02.24.16 at 6:00 pm

Engels,
For me, Sanders has to give us reason to run the risk of running him in the general. One of his advantages is not foreign policy; Clinton last night indicated she would involve Russian *and* Iran in diplomacy over the crisis in Syria. Sanders has no differences with Clinton over Israel.
Sanders may have an advantage in terms of taxes and labor policy (including provisions in trade agreements, but as I said disguised US protectionism can come at the expense of a global loss in welfare). I am finding Clinton good enough on health care with her reintroduction of the public option and racial justice (I think many of my friends are making too much of her husband’s positions in the 90s). Clinton has a big advantage in wonkery.
I don’t trust that Sanders’ net favorability will hold up once he is subjected to real negative ads. There is an argument that he is more electable than Clinton.

But I would warn: don’t make too much of his centile struggle rhetoric. It is already being mocked as 40% of the 80% of the new income which the 1% appropriates goes only to 1/10th of that 1%. It is beginning to fall flat. I wish we had talked about Piketty’s insistence on replacing the class struggle with the centile struggle.

But I think Sanders may prove that it is not visceral and emotional as the old language. And that may be because the centile discourse is actually not as real in terms of describing how actual conflict in life is played out.

531

RNB 02.24.16 at 6:17 pm

To go back to the theme of the OP: What Clinton has to prove is that she can win the number of independents that she likely has to win to win the general election. But from the national polls collected at Huffington Post she is already beating Trump by 5 points. This gap will widen just as George W. Bush lost his 13 point lead over Gore in the months coming up to the election. One of the stronger arguments for Sanders is that since any Democrat is likely to beat Trump as long as there is no economic crash or terrorist attack in which case Trump beats either Democrat, then we might as well vote for the Democrat that we actually prefer.

532

The Temporary Name 02.24.16 at 6:38 pm

I don’t really think either Democrat has much to prove given that their opponent will be appalling/crazy. There will be a huge motivation to turn out.

533

novakant 02.24.16 at 6:52 pm

It’s hard for us all to understand, but $600K in highly taxable income from speaking fees does not buy Hillary Clinton who is sitting on tens of millions dollars of wealth, I am sure the Clinton’s have good money managers. Those speaking fees are basically vacuum pennies for her.

$153 million in Bill and Hillary Clinton speaking fees

Hillary alone made 21 million between 2013-2015.

The Clintons are corrupt, there’s no question about it. You really seem to think we’re all idiots here.

534

Lupita 02.24.16 at 7:31 pm

It must be clear to aspiring politicians that if they serve the 1% during their political tenure, they will receive enough “speaking fees” and “memberships in boards” to secure their place within the oligarchy. There is no need for messy suitcases full of cash anymore.

535

Bruce Wilder 02.24.16 at 7:35 pm

It seems to me that the Republicans are giving the rest of us a free pass on electability. If Trump is their nominee — a man who cannot muster majority support even among Republicans — the Democrats could nominate anyone, and it matters less who is “electable” than what their election would mean. Better the anti-establishment Sanders, who is speaking to some of the same dissatisfaction and economic unrest as Trump than the corrupt establishmentarian Clinton.

Either Sanders or Clinton could beat Trump readily enough, but Sanders’ winning could restore some credibility to the Democratic Party and go in the direction of defusing the fascist energy the Republicans have been nurturing over the last 20 years and Trump has mobilized. Sanders, however archaic his New Deal socialism, recognizes that the Democrats need to mobilize a mass movement to counter Trump, but also to govern effectively. Clinton thinks she can raise the funds to buy effective 30 second spots from Wall Street and the military-industrial complex and the globalized corporate sectors, and she’s almost certainly right. About the 2016 election. About governance in 2017 and about the 2018 election, Clinton does not seem like a good bet.

Clinton is a ripe target for Trump and arguably a much riskier candidate than Sanders, not because of her electability (which I guess is roughly the same in gross probability terms), but because of the interpretation of her Presidency and any disasters or developments that ensue. Once elected, Clinton would attract the same old, same old, and have no better defense than her husband. She wouldn’t have any more effective mass support than the relicts, MoveOn.org and Media Matters, elite efforts that have never had much traction.

Like it or not, Clinton is a continuation of the past, and not in an altogether good way in many people’s minds. And, she doesn’t do much to dispel that. She’s not Jeb! walking onto the minefield of his brother’s legacy deaf and dumb, but she comes pretty close sometimes to a similar deafness and a similar inability to admit to mistakes and their consequences.

Sanders might be more vulnerable to the motivated hostility of the plutocracy than Clinton. That’s a fair enough expectation, though it doesn’t to my mind tell in Clinton’s favor that the corporate and financial and foreign policy establishments would be so comfortable with her. Trump as the Republican candidate may serve to neutralize some of that plutocratic hostility, by being perceived as dangerous to the stability of the country and difficult for the plutocracy to control. That’s the gift of Trump’s candidacy to the Left. Not only is he difficult to elect, because his bombastic and juvenile style provokes a negative reaction from most people, but the plutocracy almost certainly doesn’t want him, might even regard either Democrat as a safer bet.

Sanders probably wouldn’t be able to get much done with a Republican House in 2017. He is certainly no 75 year old Messiah, able to bowl them over with his animal energy and charisma in a miraculous 100 days — his promises are about who he is, not what he could immediately accomplish in most (but not all) cases. Clinton might be better at getting the small bore things thru — I cannot say, of course. Her husband got things done in his second term by adopting the Republican agenda — not what I would prefer to stalemate in our times. But, Sanders might have a shot at winning the election in 2018; at least he would understand the value and necessity of doing so, in a way that Obama never did and that it is hard to credit Clinton with understanding or having the means and skills to organize.

* I get that the various Establishments are made of a different class from the actual billionaire plutocrats. I know I am eliding the not-always-subtle differences in interest between the Plantation Owners and their Overseers.

536

anon 02.24.16 at 8:05 pm

What do others, especially RNB, who seems most convinced of Clinton’s greater electibility, think of this argument about their chances against Trump?

https://www.currentaffairs.org/2016/02/unless-the-democrats-nominate-sanders-a-trump-nomination-means-a-trump-presidency

My own impression is that the arguments are largely solid, but the conclusion exaggerated. I don’t think HRC is a sure loser to Trump, nor Sanders a sure winner. (Given that the opposite exaggerated conclusion dominates the media, I think the exaggeration is rhetorically justified, however.)

537

Bruce Wilder 02.24.16 at 8:08 pm

Clinton’s big advantage in wonkery is a big disadvantage if you are worried about the growing distrust of elite wonks and technocrats generally among the general population. Not so much between now and the election — it doesn’t matter that much to electability I think, which is a contest of often nearly mindless soundbites anyway — but after the election, it could be a serious problem in the struggle to govern effectively.

There are deep questions here about the direction of policy, in the differences between Clinton and Sanders, as they relate to the technocrats who follow in their respective wakes. That Clinton is backed by the foreign policy establishment, which has performed so incompetently and corruptly for the last 15 years at least, is not an endorsement. Maybe Sanders’s foreign policy bench is empty at the moment; that’s at least a faint reason to hope for change. (mark for irony, of course)

Economics is even more fraught. The incomes of the great middle part of the population have been declining in real terms and the risk of poverty or debt peonage has been increasing. That’s a consequence of policy, but these are policies that have benefitted — or at least not hurt — the top twenty percent or so. And, they are consequences that are indirect and subtle, remote from direct observation, following sometimes long chains of obscure policy discretion.

The vast majority of voters do not even begin to understand these issues. They experience their dissatisfactions directly as economic symptoms — the price of gas, the price of groceries, the difficulty of getting a job, the difficulty of getting a job, high rents, taxes — and they respond rather blindly with a “throw the bums out” sentiment. Whether the resulting rotation in office allows the government to adapt semi-intelligently to changing circumstances and to solve problems in political economy in a way that benefits the public depends on how those who are elected, govern. With whom, by whom, and for whom.

Reading the wonkish pundits on Sanders v Clinton, I feel I have learned less about the Democratic candidates than about the wonkish pundits themselves. RNB linked to Noah Smith and Mike Konczal upthread on financial sector reform, and mentioned Starr on health reform. There’s the voxsplaining Ezra Klein, of course. Krugman and the CEA chairs attacking U-Mass Prof Friedman.

If all I knew about Sanders and financial reform was that BloombergView column by Noah Smith, I would vote against Noah Smith in a heartbeat if I could. What an arrogant, ignorant, condescending pissant he is. Krugman, similarly, discredited himself with his arrogance and disrespect. (Krugman is back to the usual dialectic with Mankiw, I see. Hmmm.) Starr was kind of shocking really; his brilliant history of health care policy seemed to me to be an extended argument in favor of single-payer and a long lament that it has always eluded us; I guess I was mistaken.

A lot of what has gone wrong in economic policy — especially for the vast middle of America — is attributable to the arrogance, ignorance and corruption of this Late Empire technocracy, and their corresponding Deep State in the military-industrial complex. Part of it is that the cadre staffing an obsolete and decaying superstructure is just as decayed and obsolete as the structure itself.

538

Bruce Wilder 02.24.16 at 8:12 pm

the difficulty of getting a job, the difficulty of getting a raise

oops. I really need to stop this too-late editing

539

Donald Johnson 02.24.16 at 8:16 pm

“Sanders has no differences with Clinton over Israel.”

The differences aren’t as great as I’d like, but they exist. Clinton is actually pandering to Netanyahu, promising to have closer ties if she wins– she is to Obama’s right. Sanders has been very mildl critical at times and certainly isn’t the same suckup that she is.

Lesser of two evils vote goes to Sanders on this, though it is lesser of two evils rather than an enthusiastic endorsement from me on foreign policy.

540

Raisuli 02.24.16 at 8:25 pm

@533

I love that for RNB, we are to handwave away the 600k speaking fee because HRC is just so wealthy that we shouldn’t think of 600k as being able to influence her – and while we’re at it, forget about the very fact that someone who’s spent the last 3.5 decades as a First Lady and holder of public office has accumulated all of these tens of millions of dollars to where a 600k speaking fee is nothing.

541

Plume 02.24.16 at 8:30 pm

Brett @539,

Yes, the Clintons are and were corrupt. But that doesn’t negate the fact that the GOP has conducted witch hunts too. They have. It’s all about the form of corruption. Where it is. Where it takes place, and why.

Right-wing lunatics shout Benghazi!! and email servers!!! And none of that has any legs. Just as all of the GOP witch hunts against Obama had no legs, from Fast and Furious through the IRS.

The right won’t go after the Dems where corruption actually exists, because they’re absolutely complicit in it and practice the same thing with relish and abandon. They worship the economic system that causes this corruption as well, so they can’t talk about economic apartheid (capitalism) which is at the root of it all. They can’t talk about our campaign finance system, because they’re in love with the idea of billionaires buying up the political process. They can’t talk about TPP and NAFTA and trade deals that dramatically increase the power of Capital and crush labor, because that’s exactly what they want to do. They can’t talk about rampant inequality, because they’re all for it and they actually believe it’s “natural.”

In short, the right has never, not once, not in several generations, had a legitimate critique of the Dems, much less the left. The only legit critique of the Dems has always come from its left, and since its power structure is center-right, there’s a ton of real estate to its left.

In short, both things exist at the same time. Yes, the Clintons are and were corrupt. Yes, they’ve been victims of Republican witch hunts. And, no, the Republicans will never attack the Clintons where it’s legitimate to do so — on their being parvenu capitalist piggies and supporters of economic apartheid.

542

Sebastian H 02.24.16 at 8:55 pm

Yes, the clintons are very corrupt and Republicans conducted witch hunts. The nice thing about Sanders is with him as president we can attack the witch hunts as witch hunts. With the Clintons you have to play defense because they actually are corrupt.

543

Plume 02.24.16 at 9:16 pm

Brett @544,

If Clinton is a rapist, I would definitely care a great deal about that, and would want him prosecuted to the max. But that’s not really for the GOP to decide last time I checked. And from the way you framed it, it sounds like you’ve already convicted him before he was tried in court, which is pretty much the “witch hunt” thing by definition.

And I couldn’t care less if the Republicans share my priorities. Well, let me rephrase that. I’d be shocked if they did, because they’re predominantly reactionary assholes, liars and thieves, and I’m not.

And, no. Their actions aren’t legitimate. They’re odious and monstrous on a consistent basis. Clinton witch hunts or no Clinton witch hunts.

544

RNB 02.24.16 at 9:18 pm

1. Due to Sanders not taking Wall Street money, he does have more credibility as someone who can turn the SEC on financial fraudsters.

2. But that does not mean he gets a pass on proving that his plan for Wall Street regulation is actually better than Clinton’s.

3. Probably a lot more Wall Street money will be spent against Clinton in the form of super PACS meant to depict her as a baby-eater and support for her Republican candidate than she will receive. Since Dodd-Frank only a handful of socially liberal Wall Street billionaires seem interested in the Democrats. Wall Street money goes overwhelmingly to the right.

4. It does not seem much of that $150 million in speaking fees came from Wall Street over the last 15 years; and some of it may go to the charitable Clinton foundation (and, yes, micro-lending may have its best days behind it). And, yes, Clinton became wealthy, she swims in those shark-infested waters, her daughter is, like, best friends with Trump’s daughter. One worries.

5. On Clinton’s electability–I don’t have time to read all the way through the Nathan Robinson piece–there is this:

a. the Benghazi scandal has already begun to backfire on the Republicans as will the email scandal once it is dismissed on the grounds of there not being a shred of evidence of criminal intent;

b. Sanders does not even have the polling lead and net favorability advantage the similarly nationally unknown George W. Bush had over Al Gore at a similar point in 2000, and like Bush’s, Sanders’ advantages here would take hard hits once the Republicans actually gave him negative attention in the form of $200 million of mendacious swift-boating and Willie Horton specter-raising, and

c. Clinton is leading the polls as a whole over Trump at least according to what I find at Huffington post.

545

Lupita 02.24.16 at 10:04 pm

1. Jeb Bush’s super-duper PAC got him nowhere.

2. Establishment and media revulsion towards Trump has not touched him.

3. It is the year of the outsider.

4. Political pundits are as clueless as the economic pundits were right before the 2008 crash.

5. Clinton is perfectly acceptable to the oligarchy and the oligarchy is perfectly acceptable to her.

6. The two parties and the media have lost control of the narrative.

7. The US is not a beacon of light shinning upon humanity.

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RNB 02.24.16 at 10:12 pm

Lupita, I think 1 is wrong in its implication. Jeb!’s, super-duper PAC was indeed effective in damaging Rubio, Cruz and perhaps even Kasich and thus setting the stage for Trump’s early victories and momentum. Because no one took Trump seriously based on what the political scientists were advising (see Daniel Drezner), his rivals did not go negative on him until it was too late. Think I read only $9 million of the $150 million Republican PAC money has spent against Trump. Negative does work; it has worked against Rubio, Cruz, etc. It’s why the Republicans are stuck with Trump.

Clinton’s net favorability was quite high until the Republicans expended huge political capital in Congress trying to tear her down; Sanders would surely suffer after hundreds of millions are spent against him.

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Sebastian H 02.24.16 at 11:12 pm

Sanders would have to suffer a lot to get down to where Clinton already is. And you’re assuming that Clinton can’t go down further, which is imo unlikely to be true. The rinky dink Congressional stuff is just the start. You are assuming that the Rebuplican smear machine can be equally successful against anyone. Why?

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RNB 02.24.16 at 11:28 pm

Well Clinton’s net favorability was quite high just a few years ago. It came down due to Benghazi and the emails, and both will backfire. If there is a real problem with the emails, then no. But I am betting that she is on her way up. The Republicans will look like slime once Clinton informs them how much public resources they used going after her. She may come across as a hero, a woman who stood up to the demonization of modern day Salem witch hunters.

Almost 9327 comments ago, there was discussion of where Sanders would be vulnerable to right-wing attack. Money was spent against him in the VT Senate race but seemingly focused on an Amber Alert issue. So he has never faced a full-scale attack. I think that he’s vulnerable but certainly a brave public servant to be willing to withstand it for the purpose of the public-minded causes to which he is devoted.

Of course Trump is going to sink much lower, so either Democrat wins. In fact as I joked a while ago the Dems may as well run Cornel West and Bob Avakian in any order; they’ll win.
http://www.politico.com/blogs/2016-gop-primary-live-updates-and-results/2016/02/romney-trump-taxes-219746

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RNB 02.25.16 at 3:52 am

So if Trump wins Super Tuesday big, I am pushing for a Margaret Cho-Hugo Chavez ticket.
Given this
http://www.buzzfeed.com/andrewkaczynski/donald-trump-said-a-lot-of-gross-things-about-women-on-howar?utm_term=.chzaQ94lkn#.rpMBY82Akw
they’ll have a real chance even with vicious rumors about Chavez’s death certificate suggesting that he was never a naturalized US American citizen.

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Brett Dunbar 02.25.16 at 8:34 am

Capitalism rewards efficiency. For example for entirely commercial reasons modern LED televisions consume a fraction of the power that CRT televisions did. Waste represents a cost and market structures incentivise reducing costs. UK energy consumption per capita peaked in 1973 while US energy consumption per capita peaked in 1977 (at a much higher level).

Tradable permits or a carbon tax (functionally more or less identical) force businesses to price in the costs of pollution giving a direct incentive to reduce carbon emissions in the most efficient way.

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Plume 02.25.16 at 12:44 pm

Brett @552,

Yes, capitalism rewards certain kinds of efficiency. But waste has rarely been a concern. Dealing with it has also been a major cost for capitalists from the start, which is why they tended to build their factories next to rivers, creeks, streams, etc. etc. so they could dump their waste as easily as possible and pollute to their heart’s content.

It often costs far more money to deal with waste and pollution than to “innovate” to reduce it. And it’s often the case that they don’t bother to “innovate” to reduce waste and pollution at all until governments force them too. Notice how long it generally takes, and how much kicking and screaming and lobbying goes on before industry finally succumbs to changes.

And because capitalism doesn’t produce to order, but in hopes of future sales — which are created to hold exchange value, not use value — we throw away billions of tons of plastic, food and so on each year. The West throws away half of all food produced for sale, for instance.

Beyond that, governments have been assuming the vast majority of business costs for several decades now, so businesses don’t have to “price in” these things. They’ve been externalized for them. Their risks socialized; their profits privatized. And even then, if they fail, taxpayers step in over and over again with trillions to bail them out. More than 100 times worldwide just since 1970, in fact.

When all is said and done, capitalism is easily the least “efficient” economic system in history (from the point of view of society), especially when it comes to waste, pollution, and the allocation of resources, access, wealth and income for the population overall.

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Anarcissie 02.25.16 at 2:10 pm

Waste is an important component of the effort to produce scarcity. However, this doesn’t invalidate the idea that capitalist and other enterprises could not be guided away from certain kinds of destructive behavior through economic pressures, for example a carbon tax, since what their managements care about is not efficiency per se but money.

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Hem13 02.26.16 at 2:06 am

What luck to have heard about this blog today early in process of this year’s national elections. I am heartened that so many intelligent folks here are able to communicate with lucidity and civility, and John Holbo is remarkable in the frequency and cogency of his comments throughout the thread.

What I find most interesting, however, is that the role of the mainstream media is not raised more often here in the discussions regarding the relative electability of the eventual nominees . Even if the impact of larger PAC money turns is left aside, I’m pondering whether the Democratic Party’s ability to retain/get out its “soft vote” cohorts would benefit more from nominating Clinton who has already been widely-defined by the media as having “trust/honesty” issues or Sanders who’s only just starting to get more sharply defined by the corporate media (to a considerable degree, lead by the expert vilification propagandists in Murdoch’s media empire) as well as the attack advertisements of the Republican nominee. In the UK and Australia where I’ve resided for extensive periods, the media’s manipulation tends to be the dominant factor in a competitively close election, but hopefully American voters are way less gullible.

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