Donald Trump: The Michael Dukakis of the Republican Party

by Corey Robin on September 27, 2016

Two takes on last night’s debate, one from last night, one from this morning.

1.


The single biggest impression I took away from tonight’s debate—beyond the fact that Clinton clearly dominated (with the exception of the opening discussion on jobs and trade)—is how thoroughly conventional a Republican Donald Trump is.

On economics, Trump’s main platform is tax cuts and deregulation. On race and social policy, his main platform is law and order. On foreign policy, his main policy is, well, actually I don’t know. Something about good deals and fee for services.

For all the talk of Trump as somehow a break, both in terms of substance and style, with Republican candidates past, virtually everything he said last night—again, with the exception of his talk on trade and, maybe, NATO—hearkened back to Republican candidates and nominees of the 1970s and 1980s.

With this difference: Trump is a spectacularly ineffective communicator. That Derridean drip of sentences without subjects, references without referents: it’s like a street that goes nowhere. Not even to a dead end.

As for Clinton, as I said, she clearly dominated, at times even seeming like a happy warrior, which is the sweet spot for any candidate.

Her center of gravity, the place where she seems most herself and at home, is foreign policy. Particularly on the question of how to deal with Iran. There we saw what she really thinks and who she really is.

On the economics front, I thought she was weak, but when she finally got to question of his tax returns, she found a way to best Trump, albeit without much of a focused, ideologically coherent alternative. (Then again, he might have bested her there: I sometimes wonder if a certain kind of voter hears him saying it’s smart not to pay taxes and thinks, fuck yeah, I want to be him. I don’t think that’s the majority, but it’s a constituency.)

What seems pretty clear, coming away from that debate, is that both parties are ideologically exhausted. Trump is replaying a script from the 1970s, and Clinton’s only answer is herself, that she clearly looks and acts more presidential. This could have been an election, and a debate, that covered new ground. It looks like, for better or for worse, we’ll be re-treading the same old, same old.

2.


Traditionally, academic and media types favor the candidate who’s mastered the policy details, a form of mastery that those commentators equate with smarts. Then these commentators confront, in their heads, the stereotypical voter who responds at the level of gut and emotion, which commentators equate with love of flag and whichever candidate is bro-ish enough to have a beer with. Personally, I loathe that dichotomy: it reduces intelligence to Vox and Brookings; it makes no room for ideology, which is a unity of affect and idea, narrative, history, futurity, analysis and material fact; and it sets up conservatism as the natural party of the people.

But, if we’re going to go there, I think there’s no question that Clinton won precisely on the ground that is supposed to traditionally favor Republicans and men. She definitely didn’t win on policy mastery or detail; whenever she went into those weeds, she just came out with a word salad. No, she won by communicating, entirely at the level of affect, strength without seeming threatening or scary (both in terms of how men and women traditionally—and differentially—get judged). She seemed very much in command and in control, radiating confidence without smugness. She was tough and firm, and increasingly happy as time went on. She almost seemed authentic, and in her element.

It was Trump in fact who got lost in his inimitable version of wonkery. There was the endless recitation of who in the media he spoke to when about Iraq. There were the multiple names (Sidney Blumenthal) and policies (“carried interest”) and institutions (ICE) that no one, outside of a few wonks and rich people, knows or understands. There were the pseudo-intellectual rhetorical ploys (“semi-exact,” which sounded like something straight out of Hofstadter’s “Paranoid Style” essay). And those weird divagations about how money goes out of the country, it needs to get back into the country, but it keeps staying out of the country, and when it finally does get back into the country, it only turns around and goes back out again.

As I was watching him, I thought of another failed candidate of the past who got lost in his own words and details. Trump, last night, was the Michael Dukakis of the Republican Party.

Update (11 am)

The one moment in last night’s debate where I thought Trump might have had the upper hand was when Clinton suggested that he might not have ever payed federal income taxes and Trump interjected, “That makes me smart.”

Now for the pundit class, Trump admitting, implicitly, that he never paid income taxes is the kind of bombshell that puts him forever out of the running of respectability (if he wasn’t out of that running already). Not paying your taxes is a no-no, a failure of civic duty, a sign of his diremption from the little people he claims to represent.

I’m of two minds on this question.

On the one hand, I can see how it might seem to the average voter like Trump is just one more rich guy who gets away with murder.

On the other hand, there’s a not so small current in American politics that would hear that, that Trump didn’t pay his taxes, and think, with him, that he was indeed smart for having outsmarted the system. And would want to align themselves with him as a result. In the hope that they too could learn these tricks some day or that they too could one day be rich enough not to pay their taxes.

This is a nation of conmen (and women), as everyone from Melville to Mamet has understood. A nation that dreams of, and longs for, the quick buck. The more crooked the path, the more glorious the payoff.

If there was any one point last night where I thought to myself, Trump is connecting with the voters, it was this.

{ 431 comments }

1

CJColucci 09.27.16 at 2:39 pm

On any normal system of evaluation, Clinton won handily. The question in this election is whether it matters. I confess to having no idea.

2

Doug Weinfield 09.27.16 at 2:46 pm

Clinton produced a word salad? It seems we were watching different debates.

3

MPAVictoria 09.27.16 at 2:56 pm

I felt that Hillary dominated the debate from almost start to finish but I don’t trust that my opinions are going to be the opinions of American voters.

4

Anarcissie 09.27.16 at 2:58 pm

But isn’t the Trump who is a normal, semi-rational Republican the great danger?

5

marku52 09.27.16 at 3:08 pm

Totally agree both parties are exhausted. No new ideas in 30 years or so. Except, as you point out, Trump on trade. That new issue is not going away.

While Trump is in the process of destroying the Republican one, I’m pretty sure that 4 years of President Clinton II will be the death of the democratic one.

Trump is not wrong when he calls that “More of the same, only worse….”

6

harry b 09.27.16 at 3:23 pm

I really wanted to see a wordle of the two candidates. The words I thought I heard most from Trump were “I” and “Me”. (and also he likes ‘beautiful’). Can someone do that?

7

harry b 09.27.16 at 3:24 pm

And like everyone else, I just do not trust that I am seeing or hearing the same things as the voters whose votes will decide the election….

8

Sebastian H 09.27.16 at 3:35 pm

“What seems pretty clear, coming away from that debate, is that both parties are ideologically exhausted. Trump is replaying a script from the 1970s, and Clinton’s only answer is herself, that she clearly looks and acts more presidential.”

This especially resonates with me. Trump is just so clearly out of the bounds of even remotely a good president that it is ridiculous. Clinton is within the bounds, but she represents all that I don’t like about what an in-bounds politician does. It is frustrating that we can’t usefully talk about how the Clintons stretch in-bounds corruption because the only alternative is at least 3 times further. It is frustrating that attempts at discussion about a Democratic nominee having hyper-hawkish tendencies have to be informed by contrast to a person whose foreign policy instincts are idiotic and may have been captured by Putin. Clinton looks exactly like the kind of candidate I would like to say that I just can’t vote for, but the state of the country is such that it is too dangerous to even risk the alternative.

Its frustrating after Obama, one of the first Presidents I felt like I could vote for instead of just against the opponent, that we are immediately thrust into such a horrible lesser-of-evils situation.

9

William Timberman 09.27.16 at 3:40 pm

More of the same, only worse. As I’ve been asking myself since Nixon, isn’t there ever going to be an end to this cheap, self-serving racket? No, at least not until we’ve explored every possible way to keep it going. Maybe Bruce Wilder is right: the only righteous course of action is to prepare oneself for the moment when everybody has had enough of the usual, and is looking around for something that, finally, offers to make some actual sense of what we’ve been going through. Even if I weren’t already in my seventies, though, I wouldn’t hold my breath. When sleazy demagoguery on the one hand, and Omigod TRUMP! on the other, isn’t enough to bring down the walls of Jericho, I’d guess it’ll be a while yet.

10

bruce wilder 09.27.16 at 3:40 pm

Ideologically exhausted? Sure.

Against a background anxiety surrounding a sense that things are not working. The old ideologies are not working, every thing has to change and we hate much of the change we do see creeping up. The conservative party serves up a wrecking ball. The reform party serves up the status quo warmed over. (“Intelligent surge”) We fear change. We fear the continuation of the status quo and the degeneration the status quo promises to continue.

11

Placeholder 09.27.16 at 3:50 pm

“I felt that Hillary dominated the debate from almost start to finish but I don’t trust that my opinions are going to be the opinions of American voters.”

I believe it’s been consensus-think that no candidate can win without leading on the economy and security. Let’s ask unimpeachable sage Sadiq Khan: ‘Khan, whose resignation as MP for Tooting will trigger a by-election early next month, says that Labour needs to appeal “to everyone – not just activists”, and that the party would be “doomed to fail” unless it can convince Tory voters on economic and security matters’

Of course the two most important issues to the American voter are national security and the economy (, stupid).
Trump leads on the economy. Trump leads on terrorism.
http://www.gallup.com/poll/192104/trump-leads-clinton-top-ranking-economic-issues.aspx

If that makes Corbyn is ‘unelectable’ then Trump is going to win. Let’s hope somebody’s wrong.

12

Layman 09.27.16 at 4:07 pm

@ Placeholder, that’s a pretty old poll. Trump has lost his lead on security, and most of his lead on the economy.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/195809/voters-prefer-trump-economy-clinton-issues.aspx?g_source=Election%202016&g_medium=newsfeed&g_campaign=tiles

13

Placeholder 09.27.16 at 4:34 pm

Good point Layman@12, sometimes it’s just the economy.

Liz Kendall: ‘But the fundamentals don’t change – we lost the election because people didn’t trust us on the economy or with their taxes’
http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/labour-leadership-election-jeremy-corbyn-rivals-protest-that-he-hasnt-won-yet-1518035

Let us hope for Clinton’s sake she’s wrong.

14

CJColucci 09.27.16 at 4:51 pm

Sebastian H.:
P.J. O’Rourke has said “Hillary is wrong on everything, but she’s wrong within normal parameters.”

15

Lord 09.27.16 at 5:03 pm

You would think if Trump thought GWB was so bad, he would adopt fewer of his policies.

Not totally exhausted but not likely to get far with current divisions, but that is alright. All need periods of continuity and consolidation, rest and replenishment.

16

Placeholder 09.27.16 at 5:09 pm

To attend to Mr. Robin’s thesis, it looks like Romney made the same ‘gaffe’:

“I don’t pay more than are legally due and frankly if I had paid more than are legally due I don’t think I’d be qualified to become president.”
http://www.ebony.com/news-views/mitt-romney-finally-releases-his-taxes

-except of course that statement is far more extreme. So Mr. Robin may be horribly right. That is the Republican normal and the difference is Trump just likes to rub it in. Only the ‘little people’ pay taxes – and many are aching to let the world know they’re not ‘little people.’

17

Yankee 09.27.16 at 5:28 pm

On foreign policy, the word you’re looking for is “colonialisation”

18

Yan 09.27.16 at 5:46 pm

“On the other hand, there’s a not so small current in American politics that would hear that, that Trump didn’t pay his taxes, and think, with him, that he was indeed smart for having outsmarted the system. …This is a nation of conmen (and women)…”

I think this is right but misleading, since the voters who probably liked that comment don’t see themselves as conmen out for a quick buck, but as victims gaming a rigged system. They think taxes are an injustice, and that they’re John Dillinger fighting for their rightful earnings against the thieving IRS.

This is generally important for understanding Trump voters: for all their quirks, at bottom they are, like most Americans, very strongly motivated by a skewed notion of fairness: they think others are cutting in line, getting a handout, getting special rights and favors.

I think one reason Sanders was respected by some of these people, even when his views were radically opposed to theirs, was because this theme of fairness resonated with them, they sensed he was operating on a similar principle, even if disagreeing on the content.

19

bruce wilder 09.27.16 at 6:20 pm

Watching British Labour Party politics from afar is like seeing Democratic Party politics in a fun house mirror. One thing that is writ in primary colors and big block letters in the Labour Party struggle is the tension between the new class and everyone else seeking protection from the globalizing plutocracy and whose only ideological models are anachronisms.

I actually find it easier to imagine why someone listening to the debate might place forlorn hope in Trump than to conjure up the people who could listen to Clinton’s platitudes and not recall any of the history. Corey Robin is right that Trump is a standard Republican in everything but style, but there was also a break between the Republican electorate and the Republican establishment that put Trump on that stage, and Clinton has embraced the Republican establishment.

In Labour Party politics, the insistence of the PLP on Tory-lite policy stances seems, from my great distance, farcical. The Clinton embrace of the Republican establishment drains the last drop of populism from the Democrats even while Late Trump proves how ill-suited the Republicans are to populist appeal despite years of petty demagoguery.

20

Omega Centauri 09.27.16 at 6:23 pm

As usual Bruce Wilder’s comment is one of the best.

I guess I’m not nearly as anti-status quo as most. Except for foreign policy where Hillary frightens me, but I hold out the probably forlorn hope that once she doesn’t feel she needs to prove she can be a tough as anyman, that her basic sense of goodness will prevail.

As far as the economy is concerned, we saw median income grow by 5% last year a record. So in some small way we may be starting to claw back on some of the inequality. If you see the Obama-Clinton continuum in that light, then it doesn’t seem so intolerable after all.

As for energy and the environment, HRC doesn’t excite -too much all an of the above focus. But the indication is that she accomplishments here would be similar to Obama, getting about as much done as the severe political constraints allow.

We need to whittle away at the “The world is totally falling apart meme”, which supports the electorate gambling on a bomb-thrower against the cautious planer. It always seems to many that the world is falling apart, although what sort of hell we are falling towards varies with time, the sense of impending doom seems timeless.

21

Patrick 09.27.16 at 6:25 pm

I think Trumps policies frequently look like a generic Republicans because he didn’t enter this election as a serious candidate, and now that he’s the actual nominee he’s been scrambling to come up with any policies at all. So he’s copying from the party that nominated him.

His campaign has always been very ad hoc. Look at his “make Mexico pay for the wall” thing. He clearly just threw that out there as bluster, then when it went viral cobbled together a pseudo plan to make it sound plausible.

His line on taxes was perfect, unfortunately.

On taxes, for a lot of people the question is whether he behaved legally. If you can legally not pay taxes but you do anyway, you’re a chump. Can anyone who does their own taxes honestly say that they’ve chosen to NOT take an exemption or deduction for which they were qualified? I can’t.

The people who feel this way may wish it wasn’t legal for Trump to do this. But as far as condemning him for it assuming it WAS legal… maybe they can drum up some generic resentment of the rich, or tell themselves that he probably broke the law somewhere, somehow, but that’s about it. They’re not going to adopt a principled belief that he should pay taxes he doesn’t have to pay. And if Democrats push on this there’s no shortage of “rich democrat does lawful but resentment inducing rich-guy thing” stories that can be used as a smokescreen.

Now… are Trumps taxes actually on the level? Probably not. I suppose the IRS will tell us eventually, after the election. It’s not like Trump will release them in the meantime.

Other than that Hillary Clinton won but it won’t matter because conservatives live in a creepy little bubble where HRC is a shadowy murderess who assassinates her rivals and must be kept from the throne at all costs.

22

Omega Centauri 09.27.16 at 6:28 pm

I think Trump differs very substantially from the standard Republican politician. Sure he mostly channels the same meme’s, but he is willing to consume some sacred ideological cows at the same time. Just recently he said he’d allow over the counter contraception. He tried to Savage war hero John McCain because he’d been captured. He hasn’t just thrown away the dog whistle, he is willing to jetison any part of the ideology he finds inconvenient.

23

Ben 09.27.16 at 6:41 pm

@Lord Why the Christ isn’t Clinton saying “Trump is a more reckless, less coherent George W. Bush”???

TNR had a “liberals have failed to demonize GWB properly” argument . . . pretty convincing

24

Watson Ladd 09.27.16 at 6:51 pm

Given that Trump loudly opposes trade deals, it is difficult to say that he on economics is a typical Republican. People vote for Trump because they think the system is rigged against them, and Hilary Clinton is running as the candidate of the status quo. They will see Hilary’s resemblance to past candidates as a reminder of what they have gotten from the past 40 years of government policy.

25

Corey not Robin 09.27.16 at 6:52 pm

The idea that Trump is a ‘conventional Republican’ is oddly obtuse. Well, not ‘oddly’, hyperliteralism is seemingly the only way liberals attempt to understand Trump. Is this really, honestly, what you took away from this performance? You thought his pro-forma lines about tax cuts and regulations were deeply-held policy positions?

Look at the big picture. This debate was a clear win for him. He said things about trade and public corruption – all of it demonstrably true – that no one has really said on prime time broadcast TV in decades. He openly mocked those that have decimated the industrial base and put millions out of work and/or indebted. He said what everyone with half a brain thinks – that there’s zero way things get better with the neoliberal globalist crew at the wheel. And all in front of an audience of ~90 million.

26

bruce wilder 09.27.16 at 7:06 pm

Omega Centauri @ 21

Listening to Trump has a way of casting his audience into the same position as the dogs in a Gary Larson Far Side cartoon, where the dogs only hear a few words they are hungry to hear.

Clinton’s patter seems more conventionally structured, but its highlights are righteous self-regard, well past its sell-by date.

There is no coherence (beyond class interest) to Trump. He is a socially isolated Billionaire who is lazy, inattentive, arrogant . . . but put him in front of an audience and he will talk randomly until he finds a laugh or applause.

Clinton is socially embedded but apparently unaware of the deficiencies of elite performance. This makes her a favorite of the new class, but also makes it very difficult to rally broad popular support or avoid policy disaster.

She will win the election, but after that . . . things are unlikely to go well.

People make the observation that both have high negatives. But, beneath those high negatives, each has pursued coalition-building strategies almost guaranteed to narrow their respective bases of support below a majority threshold.

27

bruce wilder 09.27.16 at 7:12 pm

Why isn’t Clinton saying “Trump is a more reckless, less coherent George W. Bush”

She wants George W Bush’s vote.

No joke.

Why so many on the left are clueless about this and what it implies about policy is left as an exercise.

28

TM 09.27.16 at 7:23 pm

Sure there’s a crowd who will applaud a greedy reckless plutocrat for being greedy and reckless and bonus if he manages to not pay taxes. Otoh, there might be a reason why Trump prefers not to show his tax returns to the public.

29

stevenjohnson 09.27.16 at 7:27 pm

Donald Trump:Hillary Clinton::Michael Dukakis:G.H.W Bush, i.e., Clinton is winning by a landslide.

The polls are starting to actually mean something, but that’s not what they’re saying.

30

phenomenal cat 09.27.16 at 7:29 pm

“Why isn’t Clinton saying “Trump is a more reckless, less coherent George W. Bush”

“She wants George W Bush’s vote.

Why so many on the left are clueless about this and what it implies about policy is left as an exercise.” Wilder @25

It’s chortle-inducing.

But seriously, we’re all in this together– rich or poor, high or low, proud or meek.

Every vote matters.

31

Patrick 09.27.16 at 7:37 pm

I wouldn’t read too much into HRCs apparent decision not to tar Trump with Bush. There are conservatives who liked Bush but don’t like Trump. Bush isn’t running for office and a Trump is. That means that the goalis to pick up Republican defectors. You pick up defectors by agreeing with them that their party went off the rails, not by telling them that the old candidates they actually liked were awful.

HRC is going to be a disappointment after Obama, but she could be the most left wing candidate imaginable and she still wouldn’t be taking shots at Bush, and by implication those who supported Bush, in a race against Trump.

32

politicalfootball 09.27.16 at 7:46 pm

I wouldn’t read too much into HRCs apparent decision not to tar Trump with Bush.

That’s a charge that simply wouldn’t stick. Trump has quite persuasively separated himself from the Bushes — and vice versa.

Sure, he supported the Iraq War, but at least he lies about it. And Hillary (with Lester Holt’s help) successfully maneuvered around her own vulnerability on that score. She doesn’t need to be invoking GW Bush.

I would be curious for Bruce to explain anything that Hillary has actually done to get Bush’s vote. Seems to me she continues to run to the left.

33

Francis 09.27.16 at 7:50 pm

“ideologically exhausted”

what does this even mean? Since the voters don’t want either communism or unadulterated capitalism (apparently), we are inevitably left with disputing the size, scope and role of the federal government within relatively narrow margins.

What fresh new ideology are people looking for?

34

Cian 09.27.16 at 8:27 pm

Otoh, there might be a reason why Trump prefers not to show his tax returns to the public.

Probably because he’s not as rich as he likes to pretend. He’s always been very sensitive on this topic, as Bloomberg have documented (amongst others).

35

Omega Centauri 09.27.16 at 8:33 pm

I’m not Bruce, but aside from the Iran agreement, HRC has pretty much carried the neocons water.
But, I think its mainly that the Bushes see Trump as crazy beyond the pale, and Clinton as a somewhat steady hand. Also in the primaries, Trump seriously trashed Bush’s most excellent Mesopotamian adventure. Hillary can’t do that without creating blowback from her vote for the war.

36

JimV 09.27.16 at 8:56 pm

I agree with Bruce Wilder than HRC doesn’t want to offend Republicans unnecessarily. He seems to see it as a character flaw, and maybe it is, but it could be simply that she can get more done in office if she doesn’t make a lot of bitter Republican enemies. And I think it is the polite way to behave even with those with whom you disagree, but I won’t lobby for that motive here.

If Trump avoided taxes legally and that is a smart, enviable thing to do, why doesn’t he release his tax information to show how smart he was? Why is he really hiding the information? Inquiring campaign adds will want to know, if people can’t figure that out for themselves.

Ideology: I like the ideology that climate science is not a hoax, that universal health insurance is a good thing with more work needed on it, and some other parts of HRC’s agenda that do not seem to be the current ideology (in power).

“Smart surge”: that was another palpable hit by Bruce Wilder (along with “no-fly zone in Syria”). Ouch. (I’m not being sarcastic, if it is difficult to tell.) I’m going to write her a letter opposing that. She’s sent me a couple letters, so I should have her return address. I think I haven’t recycled the last one yet.

37

Layman 09.27.16 at 9:25 pm

“…it could be simply that she can get more done in office if she doesn’t make a lot of bitter Republican enemies.”

She may well believe that, but if so it’s self-deception. She’ll get nothing from Republicans in Congress, who will treat her as even more illegitimate than Obama. There’s no obvious incentive for them to do anything else, and the base think she’s a murderer and traitor. No way the median Republican member of Congress will open up to a primary challenge just because Clinton is playing nice with the Bushes.

38

Lee A. Arnold 09.27.16 at 9:38 pm

There are people commenting here who think it is possible to be elected President of the U.S. without appealing to as many people as you can possibly appeal to. Almost everyone ends up voting their previous party preference, and that it is pretty even split. The only people whose votes can be changed are the ones who almost always decide the elections: the 6-10% who are true swing voters. What they want is sometimes difficult to fathom but personal stability is high on the list. They are usually alienated by proposals that are out of the mainstream, and sometimes they don’t vote FOR a candidate, so much as vote against the other one. It is unreal to think that Hillary Clinton has the option to be anything other that a middle-of-the-roader, if she wants to win the election.

39

marku52 09.27.16 at 9:46 pm

Only of the many unhelpful aspects of the HRC presidency will be that since her reachout to Republicans turns off base Dems, she is likely to face a Repub House and Senate, who will be at least as obstructive to her as they have been to Obama. That leaves her room to abandon all the half-hearted dog treats she threw to the Bernie supporters as “now impossible”, and plenty of room to get “bipartisan” on passing the TPP and cutting SS.

And it won’t impede her military desires to enlarge the empire one iota.

A Trump presidency would be hated by all parties to the duo-gopoly, and would be stymied at everything.

40

Phil 09.27.16 at 9:51 pm

The point about not paying tax is on point, I think. I wrote something yonks ago about Berlusconi and ‘patrimonial populism’ – the idea being that Berlusconi was seen as both the figurehead of the nihilistic “screw politics” crowd and a national sugar daddy, dishing out favours from the national budget in just the same way that he lobbed sweeteners to business partners. One Italian commentator spotted a graffito that called on Berlusconi to abolish speed limits – “Silvio, let us speed on the autostrada!” Because you knew he would, and if you voted for him, hey, maybe he’d let you do it too.

(Berlusconi hasn’t been in government for a while, but he was Prime Minister for ten years in total between 1994 and 2011. He’s still involved in three court cases relating to corruption and fraud, and has been found guilty in another; he served a sentence of house arrest and community service. He will be 80 on Thursday.)

41

kidneystones 09.27.16 at 10:05 pm

The comments here strike me as very sensible and sober. Given that the CT community shares little with a great swath of the electorate and in fact share HRC’s view that they are both deplorable and irredeemable, its probably sound reasoning to deduce that if people here thought HRC won, a great many ‘others’ believe the opposite.

42

LFC 09.27.16 at 10:05 pm

Read the OP, not the thread.

Disagree w Corey’s impression that when Clinton tried to discuss policy, she came up with only “word salad.” Her answers on the race questions (e.g., what she said about systemic racism in the criminal justice system) were quite coherent at the level of policy, if not exceptionally detailed.

I think HRC’s real strength and comfort zone, contrary to what Corey said in the OP, is not foreign policy but certain aspects of domestic policy — admittedly that might not have come through clearly last night.

W/ a bit more thought and preparation and specificity, Trump I think cd have had a better night from his own standpoint and that of his supporters. A few times he was on the verge of making a coherent argument and it didn’t quite come off. But he’s not, contra the OP, a “spectacularly ineffective communicator” all the time — otherwise he prob wd not have won the nomination. After all, Reagan, the so-called Great Communicator himself, was not always the master of syntax and substance (often not, in fact). [Obvs I am opposed to Trump but am addressing his rhetorical skills (or lack thereof) here.]

43

LFC 09.27.16 at 10:13 pm

P.s.
At a first cut, so to speak, I think the Trump-Dukakis analogy does not work well. Dukakis had a memorably bad moment in one presidential debate, but basically he was a pretty good debater, tended to speak in complete, fairly well-reasoned sentences as I recall. Don’t know how many people here remember Dukakis as host of The Advocates — I only have a vague memory, but it was a public-TV debate program. Debating was second nature to Dukakis in a way it isn’t for Trump. Did Dukakis run a somewhat pathetic campaign in ’88? Yes. But it had more to do w/ how awkward he looked riding in a tank than w/ how he debated.

44

LFC 09.27.16 at 10:20 pm

@B Wilder
Clinton’s patter seems more conventionally structured

“Patter” I think is the wrong word. Neither candidate was engaged in “patter” exactly.

Also, on “self-regard” — that’s virtually part of the job description of pres. candidate. Trump has more displays of it than HRC.

HRC cd have been more visionary, for lack of a better word, in a couple of places, but it was a good performance mainly because she walked the tightrope between too much specificity (which wd have come off as wonkishness) and too little (which wd have come off as lightweight). That’s actually a hard feat to pull off, and she did it pretty well. (Which is not to say I was happy w the substance of everything she said, of course.)

45

Layman 09.27.16 at 10:55 pm

“A Trump presidency would be hated by all parties to the duo-gopoly, and would be stymied at everything.”

This is a bizarre prediction. A President Trump would sign any bill passed by McConnell’s Senate and Ryan’s House; similarly, a McConnell Senate would approve any likely Trump nominee to any post.

46

derrida derider 09.27.16 at 11:17 pm

The best way to assess how a national TV debate went is to watch the whole thing with the sound turned off. Swing voters are almost by definition the least interested watchers who will just not care about coherence, patter, policy, ideology, etc because they don’t just don’t care about politics much. Subconscious impressions, mainly set by body language with perhaps the odd striking expression, are what persuades or dissuades them.

I haven’t done this yet, but has anyone else?

47

ZM 09.27.16 at 11:24 pm

bruce wilder,

“Ideologically exhausted? Sure.
Against a background anxiety surrounding a sense that things are not working. The old ideologies are not working, every thing has to change and we hate much of the change we do see creeping up. The conservative party serves up a wrecking ball. The reform party serves up the status quo warmed over. (“Intelligent surge”) We fear change. We fear the continuation of the status quo and the degeneration the status quo promises to continue.”

I only have seen part of the debate, watching it at the train station yesterday with some other people. It was hard to actually hear the sound so I’ll probably read a transcript.

I think Trump does connect well via television, I suppose this is from his experience on The Apprentice, but I thought he connected better than Clinton (without sound). I wished she would loosen up a little bit at times and get a bit more passionate about her policies for America.

On an online video Paul Ryan came out and talked about Trump as part of the whole Republican Party, I think this was a really good idea. It’s not just about the person who is running for President, its the whole Party in the House of Congress and Senate and membership etc as well.

In terms of what you are saying about The Democratic Party serving up the status quo — they actually have a really interesting far reaching policy at its early stages, but they aren’t running on it at all.

The Democratic Party has moved to a policy for a forum on climate change if Hilary Clinton wins the Presidency and a wartime mobilisation strategy to deal with climate change.

They have committed to a forum and consultation on this, so the details are not worked out yet. Which is the right way to go in my opinion. They are saying this is our intended direction, and we are going to consult about it over the next couple of years to get the policy worked out in detail. That ticks all the right boxes. They haven’t said what sort of consultation they are planning, but with Democratic politicians in every state and city in America they could do nationwide consultation on this with town hall meetings or something.

When people like you are saying you want to see something from The Democrats that isn’t just the status quo warmed over, this is their most interesting and inspiring policy — I wish they would run with it more in the elections. I don’t know if many Americans even know they have this policy, or know there will be consultation about a wartime mobilisation strategy after the election if Clinton wins

Even if the policy is only in the formation stages and the Democrats are going to undertake consultation before developing the full policy, its still the most exciting policy they have not just for the environment but for America’s economic problems since the Financial Crisis too.

This is a paper by Paul Gilding on a war time mobilisation response, although he isn’t connected to the Democrats I don’t think: WAR. What Is It Good For? WWII Economic Mobilisation An Analogy For Climate Action http://media.wix.com/ugd/148cb0_1bfd229f6638410f8fcf230e12b1e285.pdf

48

marku52 09.27.16 at 11:32 pm

@43 Do you think Trump would sign the TPP? Cut SS? Increase NATO funding?

Other than that, fair enough, your point stands. I still think HRC would prefer being stymied domestically (gotta kick them hippies!), and happy to seek military adventures overseas.

I wonder how the Supreme Court will get along, permanently short of a member. No way the Pubs give it to her.

49

gocart mozart 09.27.16 at 11:32 pm

“[A] McConnell Senate would approve any likely Trump nominee to any post.”

Even director of the Central Intelligence Agency nominee Alex Jones?

50

PatinIowa 09.27.16 at 11:36 pm

I think she’s a reasonably honest person, as these things go. (I know, I know.)

When she says to disaffected Republicans, “You and I aren’t that far apart,” I take her at her word, both in the sense that she really believes it and in the sense that she understands them. (She may, however, overestimate how many there are.)

She may also, underestimate how badly she pisses off younger voters, or underestimate how much she needs them. We’ll see.

I for one, won’t be disappointed when she governs just a nudge to the left of her husband, just to the right of Obama and well to the right of what I think of as “progressive.” That’s not who she is and that’s not what she’s promising.

I’d be amazed if she underestimates the hatred the Congressional Republicans will enact toward her, most because they really hate her, some because they’re scared of the yahoos. As with Obama, it’s better for her–in almost every way–to act like the grownup in the room and be measured and conciliatory.

51

phenomenal cat 09.28.16 at 12:00 am

“Even director of the Central Intelligence Agency nominee Alex Jones?”

Don’t tease me with such tantalizing possibilities, gocart.

52

Anarcissie 09.28.16 at 12:04 am

ZM 09.27.16 at 11:24 pm @ 45:
‘This is a paper by Paul Gilding on a war time mobilisation response, although he isn’t connected to the Democrats I don’t think: WAR. What Is It Good For? WWII Economic Mobilisation An Analogy For Climate Action http://media.wix.com/ugd/148cb0_1bfd229f6638410f8fcf230e12b1e285.pdf

I criticized the war metaphor before, mostly on literary or stylistic grounds, but having seen this publication, I feel it is necessary to offer as well a practical consideration, out of character as that may be. War metaphors and models appeal to many people because a good-sized war, especially in our era, appears as an existential crisis, and in properly organized wartime all dissidence and discussion are swept away by the power of necessity, harnessed by great leaders and experts. It is a paradise of authority.

However, that’s probably not what’s going to happen in the United States. About half of the electorate do not seem to believe in climate change, or rather, there is a broad spectrum of opinion ranging from extreme doubt to absolute belief not, at this time, greatly weighted on one side or the other. In order to acquire the dictatorial powers necessary to the model, Clinton would require at least a solid majority of believers in the House, and a supermajority (more than 60) in the Senate — not just Democrats, but believing Democrats. At the moment that seems very unlikely, does it not? And thus the war model, pleasant as it may be as a fantasy, seems like a waste of time.

53

Cranky Observer 09.28.16 at 12:08 am

= = = I wished she would loosen up a little bit at times = = =

Gaia do I hate that trope. I don’t want people in serious, difficult, complex, exhausting jobs to be “loose”. I want them to be capable, thoughtful, and dedicated, and I also want them to be utterly contemptuous of pop psychology nonsense such as “loosening up”.

54

Glen Tomkins 09.28.16 at 12:12 am

My main takeaway from the debate is that it finally refuted any notion that Trump has any idea what he’s doing.

He’s run a campaign that has been consistently incompetent in conventional terms, but his way of doing things had him within a few points of Clinton. You had to think that maybe he was crazy like a fox, that he was on to something by throwing away the dog whistle and just saying whatever was on his mind at the moment, as opposed to the careful messaging that both parties have settled into. It seemed he might have arrived at his method by the reasoning out the theory that there were enough voters impatient with the artificiality of a world in which both parties avoid saying anything, that you could add their protest vote to the R core, and get to 50%+.

But last night ended the idea that he’s got any control over an act designed to appeal to voters. He deployed bits of his standard narcissistic, aggrieved, bully shtick in ways almost calculated to make them look to be exactly that. The calculation would seem to have been Clinton’s, as Trump let himself be led into trotting out his tropes in the worst possible settings. No one who had any understanding that he was being manipulative by saying these things would have said them in the way Clinton got him to say them last night.

Oh, sure, he could still win. There could be enough protest voters that all he has to do is throw a tantrum, and that will resonate enough with their discontent that, added to the approx. 22% of the US electorate that actually wants ethnic cleansing of the 11 million, he could get a majority. He won’t have to be clever about it. The stupider he is about being an entitled, narcissistic bully, the less of an act it appears, the more the protest voters will identify with him as an authentic expression of their discontent.

Insofar as this idea that Trump knows what he’s doing has been refuted, that has two contrary implications.

If he really is the idiot he appears, then, sure, you have to hope that decreases his chances of winning, that he doesn’t have any more tricks in his bag, and that’s a cause for optimism.

But, if he does win, winning by being genuinely stupid, an actual narcissistic, mental-age-of-about-five, bully, increases the odds that he’ll end up governing that way. He won’t want to get things done the usual log-rolling way, which frankly doesn’t work much anyway anymore (Obama won a historic victory and carried the trifecta, and all he could do with it was Romneycare and grossly inadequate stimulus.), even if he had an aptitude for that kind of work. An actual emotional five-year-old is not likely to be able, emotionally, to abide not getting anything done in office, to abide failure, and the scorn and ridicule he would be subject to if he doesn’t get things done. Those protest voters will move on from the discredited Trump in the four years until he either runs again and gets walloped, or admits failure by not running again.

Trump as president would have no choice but become a dictator. The US presidency gives him the tool set needed. If I still thought his shtick was just a clever act he had concocted to win, my assumption would be that he would switch gears after winning to the new act he needs to manipulate Congress. But the shtick is Trump. He doesn’t have anything else. He can’t go on with that shtick as president without becoming a dictator.

55

kidneystones 09.28.16 at 12:25 am

@ 52 “My main takeaway from the debate is that it finally refuted any notion that Trump has any idea what he’s doing.”

What markers did Trump provide that are significantly different from any of the ravings that propelled him past a stable of extremely well-funded and politically-skilled GOP politicians?

The fact that a rodeo clown like Trump is even on the same stage as HRC suggests that whatever his perceived defects here, Trump commands the attention, affection, and respect of almost as many Americans, perhaps more, than the candidate of Goldman-Sachs.

Trump is not going to ‘win’ any of the debates. Trump is marketing the Trump brand on the biggest stage possible. What actually takes place on stage is negligible in a world where superficiality is much more important than substance.

What will happen is that Trump is going to remind the audience that Hillary does indeed sound very clever and well-grounded. Then, he’ll catalogue the questions: ‘How can HRC credibly claim not to know what the initial ‘C’ means on a classified document?’ etc.

The most recent good poll I saw on HRC identified the voters’ principal concerns with HRC: Syria, Libya, emails – in short, her judgment and her honesty.

Hillary succeeded in the first debate because she didn’t fall over, cough a lot, and looked alive in that bright, red dress. That isn’t enough to convince voters that she’s the candidate of the past.

As others have noted, the Dukakis title doesn’t make any sense to me at all.

She’s done.

56

kidneystones 09.28.16 at 12:27 am

Should read ‘…she’s not the candidate of the past.’

57

kidneystones 09.28.16 at 12:30 am

And then there’s the health issue (the one that can’t be wished away).

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/1fa5d876cd9e4d899b277574f84b9d96/ap-poll-voters-more-confident-trumps-health-office

58

Faustusnotes 09.28.16 at 12:34 am

I think many people here are over thinking the appeal to moderate republicans. She wants to win house and senate, and to do that she has to flip some moderate or soft repubs, people who would be thinking of voting trump but don’t know much about him. Last night they saw him at his worst, and she offered them assurances. Remember that while to most people here she’s a sell out, to republicans she is Che Guevara in a pantsuit (god how I hate that word). Some reassurance is necessary, especially given how left her platform has shifted. You don’t offer that by dissing dubya.

The idea that she doesn’t want to win the house and senate is a laughable conspiracy theory. Really some people here are dragging CT into WND territory with their Clinton delusions.

59

gocart mozart 09.28.16 at 12:52 am

@ 52 “What will happen is that Trump is going to remind the audience that Hillary does indeed sound very clever and well-grounded. Then, he’ll catalogue the questions: ‘How can HRC credibly claim not to know what the initial ‘C’ means on a classified document?’ etc.”

“C ” means “confidential” not “classified” and Trump would never say that sentence because it has a subject, a verb and a predicate and none of those words are “loser”

60

bruce wilder 09.28.16 at 1:33 am

fn: The idea that she doesn’t want to win the house and senate is a laughable conspiracy theory.

One might almost imagine that you would anticipate that I might challenge your argument. Sorry your argument that Clinton’s trolling for moderate Republican votes for herself would favorably affect downballot Dems lacks any identified mechanism. A conspiracy would be a step up.

61

marku52 09.28.16 at 1:38 am

I didn’t say she didn’t want to win the house (hopeless anyway) and the senate (possible).

I just implied she wouldn’t be much hurt if it didn’t happen. And given the support that the DNC has given to the down ticket elections (go0gle Clinton Victory Fund, how she has taken money designated for the state parties), she won’t be surprised if the Senate falls. Or really disappointed. Keeps her from honoring any leftish promises.

“state parties kept less than one half of one percent of the $82 million raised through the arrangement”
http://www.politico.com/story/2016/07/dnc-leak-clinton-team-deflected-state-cash-concerns-226191

62

BBA 09.28.16 at 2:44 am

A Democratic Senate means Clinton gets to appoint a Cabinet, and maybe even Scalia’s replacement. A Republican Senate means every week we get to hear Mitch McConnell drone on about how, say, Joe Manchin is a dangerous communist and unfit to be Interior Secretary. Eight years ago there might have been room for an Andrew Cuomo-style backroom deal to keep the government running, but now there’s no way in hell.

63

efcdons 09.28.16 at 3:02 am

Faustusnotes @56

What? Separating Trump from the GOP does the opposite of helping Dems down ballot. Clinton is giving permission for GOP voters to split their ticket. Trying to appeal to moderate republicans has been a really bad strategy.

“Senate Republicans have been able to distance themselves from Trump to their benefit: In New Hampshire, 78% of voters see Ayotte, a first-term senator who rarely mentions her party’s nominee on the campaign trail, as a “different kind of Republican” than Trump, according to a CBS News-YouGov poll of battleground states last month.

Two other vulnerable GOP incumbent candidates, Sens. Pat Toomey and Richard Burr, have seen a similar dynamic among voters in their respective home states, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. In Ohio, 20% of likely Clinton voters said in another recent poll that they will also vote for incumbent Republican Sen. Rob Portman over the Democrat.”

https://www.buzzfeed.com/rubycramer/how-a-decision-in-may-changed-the-general-election

It’s not a conspiracy. There is no need to attribute to malice what is simply incompetence at best and a some sort of psychological need to win a meaningless “mandate” at worst. Clinton’s summer of the moderate Republican has been a disaster.

According to Pew (and I’m not providing the link just to avoid going to moderation)
“Overall, just 8% of those who prefer Trump in the general election say there is a chance they might vote for Clinton in November, far more (91%) say they have definitely decided not to vote for her.”

64

ZM 09.28.16 at 4:46 am

Anarcissie,

“War metaphors and models appeal to many people because a good-sized war, especially in our era, appears as an existential crisis, and in properly organized wartime all dissidence and discussion are swept away by the power of necessity, harnessed by great leaders and experts. It is a paradise of authority.”

Well its not an actual war, its the mobilisation that happened along with WW2 that is the part that is meant to be emulated.

I think climate change can be classed as an existential crisis, although its obviously different for a range of reasons compared to the existential crisis of WW2.

I don’t think the idea is to sweep away dissidence and discussion, policy is saying the opposite of this — they are saying they want to move to the strategy of a wartime mobilisation plan and what they are going to do is consult on this and have a forum. They only adopted this plan recently, so they haven’t said what the consultations are going to look like. They could do this nationwide pretty easily having the whole party involved, and add in online consultations or something.

My University has released a Sustainability Charter to govern the university’s physical operations, curriculum and research, and outreach, and the university has embarked on consultation about this. So I guess the Democratic Party policy would be similar.

“However, that’s probably not what’s going to happen in the United States. About half of the electorate do not seem to believe in climate change, or rather, there is a broad spectrum of opinion ranging from extreme doubt to absolute belief not, at this time, greatly weighted on one side or the other.”

Gallup said “Sixty-four percent of U.S. adults say they are worried a “great deal” or “fair amount” about global warming, up from 55% at this time last year and the highest reading since 2008.” http://www.gallup.com/poll/190010/concern-global-warming-eight-year-high.aspx

This is quite a high number, plus the consultations should include education so people understand the issue and that its an emergency situation.

“In order to acquire the dictatorial powers necessary to the model, Clinton would require at least a solid majority of believers in the House, and a supermajority (more than 60) in the Senate — not just Democrats, but believing Democrats. At the moment that seems very unlikely, does it not? And thus the war model, pleasant as it may be as a fantasy, seems like a waste of time.”

I think you make a good point about a majority of people in the House and Senate. I actually would hope the idea would be to convince the Republican Party to get on board with this, and contribute to the plans too. It wouldn’t really work to have a war time mobilisation response for 30 plus years, with one major party having a totally different plan for the country. It would be like a see saw or something living in America if that happened ;-)

I don’t think you’re right about the “dictatorial powers” thing. You would want a whole lot of different stakeholders making decisions, not a dictator model. Government, and business, and community, and sub-groups within these.

65

Tabasco 09.28.16 at 5:22 am

Hillary will win comfortably because there aren’t quite enough disaffected and resentful white good old boys for Trump to win, and he doesn’t appeal enough to other constituencies.

But in 2020, the Hillary will lose to any grown up Republican. Whatever residual appeal 1990s DLC-ism might have – probably enough for Hillary to win this year, though the well is running dry fast- will be gone. Three Democrat wins a row will be remarkable. Four? Not going to happen.

Hello, President Cruz.

66

derrida derider 09.28.16 at 6:56 am

Four years is a long time, Tabasco, and sitting Presidents have an inbuilt electoral advantage (name recognition, if nothing else).

Hillary will be a much more electable President than she is a candidate. All those – at least in the eyes of middle America.

67

Peter T 09.28.16 at 7:18 am

“Hillary will lose to any grown up Republican”

This year’s “deep bench” was supposed to have a few grown up Republicans (ie, not Palin, Gingrich, Cain, Santorum…). Didn’t really work out. The Republicans were also supposed to put some work into attracting women and non-whites, in recognition of their growing reliance on a shrinking demographic pool. That one does not seem to have quite worked either.

Not so much President Cruz as voter suppression, gerrymandering, here you go.

68

reason 09.28.16 at 8:03 am

Reading all this, and especially Peter T, I’m coming to the conclusion that the best strategy for the Democratic Party would be to push for the removal of all excise duties on Alcohol. Encourage the old white men to drink themselves to death like they in Russia.

69

Peter T 09.28.16 at 8:11 am

reason

Already happening, only with meth and oxycontin in the mix. But can the US withstand a Putin or Duterte?

70

Marc 09.28.16 at 9:05 am

@64: The most depressing thing about this election is that the most likely outcome is pretty easy to predict. If Clinton wins (and, again, she is the obvious choice among the two to me) she is very unlikely to have control of the Congress or the means to pass legislation. I really hope that Dems get the Senate, so that she can at least staff her administration and appoint judges. She is not a good natural politician, as illustrated by her very high disapproval ratings; so she won’t be able to use the bully pulpit effectively easily, and she’ll be constantly dealing with variations of ethics charges from Republicans, regardless of their degree of truth. The outcome will be a very unpopular presidency at the midterms and the likelihood that Republicans retake the Senate, hold the House, and may even retain control of numerous state houses.

Come 2020, the Dems will be facing something like what the Republicans were in 1992: a pretty unpopular incumbent, not very charismatic, without much in the way of achievements, trying to get a 4th consecutive term of party control. The one hope is that civil war in the Republican party causes them to blow what is otherwise an obvious opportunity to cement another decade of gerrymandering.

71

Lee A. Arnold 09.28.16 at 10:13 am

The Arizona Republic, Arizona’s biggest newspaper (Phoenix), just endorsed Clinton for President, the first time it has endorsed a Democrat in its 126-year history.

72

kidneystones 09.28.16 at 10:27 am

@69 Game-changiest endorsement evah!!

What matters is the African-American vote, at least for the moment.

I doubt many read the Republic.

73

Cranky Observer 09.28.16 at 11:34 am

= = = kidneystones 09.28.16 at 12:30 am
And then there’s the health issue (the one that can’t be wished away). = = =

That’s a good point kidneystones: what is your take on the root cause of Trump sniffling and gulping water throughout the debate? Since we have no comprehensive report on his health (Trump having release essentially nothing), what serious condition do you think he is hiding?

74

Lee A. Arnold 09.28.16 at 11:59 am

For swing voters just tuning in, Clinton’s health looked perfectly fine at the debate.

Trump is 70 and she will be 69 in October, and they are both performing in punishing schedules that would fell some in their fifties. I think we can put the health issues to rest for now!

75

kidneystones 09.28.16 at 12:10 pm

@72 Greetings swing voters! Meet Hillary Rodham Clinton! Help this bright new penny clean up Washington! Yeah, I’m sure that’s what swing-voters are thinking.

Like all those days of worldwide coverage of Hillary collapsing in slow motion over and over and over again never happened. In your dreams.

@71 from the linked article “The AP-GfK poll found 51 percent of voters are very or extremely confident that Trump is healthy enough to be president. In contrast, just over a third of voters — 36 percent — had the same confidence in Clinton’s health.”

The election is still a long time from today. Buckle-up, it’s going to be a rocky ride.

Don’t tip over!

76

Layman 09.28.16 at 12:14 pm

marku52 @ 59: “I didn’t say she didn’t want to win the house (hopeless anyway) and the senate (possible).”

It sure seems like you did:

marku52 @ 37: “…she is likely to face a Repub House and Senate, who will be at least as obstructive to her as they have been to Obama. That leaves her room to abandon all the half-hearted dog treats she threw to the Bernie supporters…”

marku52 @ 46: “…I still think HRC would prefer being stymied domestically…”

The gist seems to be that she’d rather lose the House and Senate, be stymied domestically, thereby released from any obligation to Bernie supporters. Isn’t that what you meant?

(Never mind that this is silly. First-term Presidents want re-election. Second-term Presidents want legacies. Both require some ability to act domestically. No President wants to be stymied domestically.)

77

Layman 09.28.16 at 12:25 pm

Marc @ 68: “She is not a good natural politician, as illustrated by her very high disapproval ratings; so she won’t be able to use the bully pulpit effectively easily, and she’ll be constantly dealing with variations of ethics charges from Republicans, regardless of their degree of truth. The outcome will be a very unpopular presidency at the midterms and the likelihood that Republicans retake the Senate, hold the House, and may even retain control of numerous state houses.”

No matter what a President Clinton or opposition Republicans do, Democrats will lose control of the Senate (assuming they had it), because this is what happens. The party of the President loses seats in the midterm election, and if the Democrats hold the Senate, it will be by a razor-thin majority, perhaps even by virtue of the VP tie-breaker. And, Republicans already control an overwhelming majority of state houses, which fact is unlikely to change as a result of elections this year.

These are things that will happen even if, as a politician, she turns water into wine.

78

Rich Puchalsky 09.28.16 at 12:25 pm

I think that the election comments on CT are perfectly typed by how, on the last thread, Bruce Wilder wrote that he was going to vote for Jill Stein and faustusnotes told him that he must not like HRC because he didn’t like old women.

We have to work with these people somehow over the next 4 years, and I can hardly wait. 10-dimensional chess, Green Lanternism, to deep need for humanitarian mass killings, hypothetical atrocities that always could have been worse than the real atrocities…

What should people should notice now is that no one is really pushing these propaganda lines on people. They’re doing it to themselves. The summer of the moderate Republican can coexist with a feeling that maybe HRC should distance the party from GWB’s legacy by resolving the cognitive dissonance in favor of “anyone who wants to win has to do this.” It’s the Church of the Savvy for people who don’t even have their jobs on the line as journalists do.

79

Zach 09.28.16 at 12:33 pm

There’s a difference between what Mitt Romney did (legal tax minimization) and what Donald Trump probably does (pay zero tax and engage the IRS in annual audits and settlements). Some segment of America respects the Romney approach; a much smaller number of people respect Trump’s approach… an approach that’s mirrored in his exploitation of bankruptcy law, the way he treats people he’s contracted for work, etc…

80

Lee A. Arnold 09.28.16 at 1:44 pm

A Senate prediction at this moment is problematic. The GOP senatorial candidates had been distancing themselves from Trump, but then, they moved toward him in just the last month. Why? The likely reason is because of the last few weeks’ closing of the Presidential spread.

The closing of that spread appears to be due to: 1. more moderate GOP voters making peace with the devil; 2. a few new setbacks for Clinton, particularly the foundation faux scandal and the pneumonia collapse; and 3. Johnson’s capture of some portion (1/3?) of the Millennials in swing states.

But now, the tables have turned again, because of Trump’s intellectual unreadiness and emotional flailing at the debate. And as if being revealed as bad presidential material were not bad enough, Trump immediately followed this by complaining that the debate was unfair, Miss Universe was too fat, and next, he’s going to attack the Clintons’ marriage!

“Dukakish” doesn’t quite cover this.

Thus, the tables are turned for the GOP’s Senate candidates, and they are probably looking forward to the next presidential debate (in a week and a half) with anxiety verging upon nausea. After all, the GOP Senators who served with Hillary had predicted that she would whup Trump’s ass, and by golly, they were right!

Is Trump going to disappear for a week and a half, and learn the issues?

So the GOP candidates may start to distance themselves from Trump, again. And they know that this is a problem, because in Presidential years it is more difficult to get people to vote split tickets.

Conclusion. Who knows about the Senate, until the election? This is yet another way in which this election is one for the history books, and good data for social scientists who seek to understand the details of the US voters.

81

Glen Tomkins 09.28.16 at 1:56 pm

Rich,

“…that no one is really pushing these propaganda lines on people.”

That’s the very thing, isn’t it? That’s what US politics has gotten too. There is a very conventional approach to a national campaign that dictates that you do messaging, which means that you carefully avoid saying anything with any public policy entailments. Having the candidate say anything of this sort is especially to be avoided, because that ties the campaign most concretely to specifics, and specific public policy your side advocates can be fitted into a different, hostile, theoretical frame by the other side. Yet candidates have to say things, it’s expected. So they have refined a method that avoids propagandizing for anything in terms more concrete than “Make America Great Again”, or “Stronger Together”, both of which are brilliant at hinting at whatever good thing you might want them to mean, without pushing any actual policy.

In that silence from the campaigns themselves step all of the sorts of sophisticated people such as those of us in the CT commentariat. The media rise no higher on the intellectual food chain than the attempt to fill the silence with theorizing about campaigns as horse races, who’s winning and why. We here at CT are a superior sort, so we tend to weave in theories about the actual supposed subject of politics, public policy. But at all levels of this effort, we theorize because we are of the species Homo theoreticus, and we must have theories. The more sophisticated we are the more we need them. We fill the silence by propagandizing on a DIY, freebie basis.

Not that any of this is new. Swift told us all about it in Tale of a Tub, the oracle of our age. Think of this campaign as a tub bobbing on the waves. Worry it as you will, and it just moves to the next wave.

82

Rich Puchalsky 09.28.16 at 2:05 pm

Glen Tomkins: “We here at CT are a superior sort, so we tend to weave in theories about the actual supposed subject of politics, public policy.”

Does not fit the observables. These theories are not about public policy and are not good on any theoretical level (even if you consider this goodness to be possible if it is decoupled from fact and is purely a matter of internal consistency).

Almost all of these “theories” are based on a simple three-step;

1. HRC is the lesser evil.

2. I can’t stand voting for someone purely as the lesser evil: my ego requires that I affirmatively support someone.

3. Therefore the lesser evil is really kind of good and anyone against it is bad.

83

Layman 09.28.16 at 2:26 pm

@Rich P, I think this theory is entirely a product of your imagination. I wonder if you could produce some actual examples of the 3 steps?

84

Ebenezer Scrooge 09.28.16 at 2:30 pm

I’m addressing some upthread comments on GWB.

He might have been the worst president in American history (although I think the honor is split between Pierce, Buchanan and Andrew Johnson), but GWB is profoundly different than Trump. GWB is a patriot. Not in the stupid stars and banners sense, but in the sense that most of us take for granted–his main motivation was the good of the country. Of course, his sense of the country’s good happened to coincide with his sense of his own good and the good of his kind. But that’s ordinary motivated reasoning, and GWB’s imagination and empathy were never more than normal.

Trump is a sociopath. He is incapable of responding to anything but his own desires, and thus incapable of any degree of patriotism.

85

DavidS 09.28.16 at 3:34 pm

Maybe I wasn’t hearing the same debate as everyone else, but I heard something very different from a standard Republican. “[W]e’ve spent $6 trillion in the Middle East … we could have rebuilt our country twice.”

Stay out costly foreign wars and spend the money on infrastructure. That’s a Democrat’s line! Heck, it’s a socialist’s line! Even Ron Paul would want to put the money into tax cuts and debt repayment, not public works. What on Earth has happened to the left that the only nationally prominent person saying this is an uninformed belligerent racist?

86

Howard Frant 09.28.16 at 3:41 pm

As usual, I find a lot of discussion here about worlds totally unlike the one that I live in.

We begin from the assumption that Clinton is standard-bearer of “neoliberalism,” and then interpret everything she does as evidence of that. Um… people.. she was Secretary of State. Can we really think of no reason she might favor an agreement that includes the US and east Asia, but not China, other than subservience to international capital? Can we think of no reason a Secretary of State might want to encourage fracking in Bulgaria other than anticipated future contributions from the oil and gas industry? (Hint: Russia is monopoly supplier of natural gas to Europe, and not shy about reminding them of that.)

In this imaginary world, the Democratic Party was once the party of the working class and old-style liberalism, but, starting with Bill Clinton, they abandoned this, and now they have lost the loyalty of the working class. In actuality, the last old-style liberal in the Democratic Party was Mondale, and he lost the popular vote by eighteen percentage points, more than anyone since.

In foreign policy, we need a new term that we can drain of all meaning, and so Clinton becomes a “neoconservative,” virtually indistinguishable from Charles Krauthammer, and eager to rain down destruction on the rest of the world. Um.. people… destruction has been raining down on Syria for years now. There have been 400,000 people killed, and, as you may have noticed, a whole lot of refugees. The left doesn’t seem to be overly concerned about this, other than bitterly oppose any attempts to use military force to do anything about it. A no-fly zone? Those neocons will stop at nothing! If Obama had carried out his threat over the “red line” by striking at the Syrian air force, it would have saved many, many lives, but that would be imperialism.

Possibly people at CT, even Americans, have gotten used to thinking of politics in parliamentary terms, in which platforms actually have some practical effect, and winning means winning a legislative majority. (That’s the only way a Sanders candidacy would have made sense.) As you know, though, the US doesn’t work that way, and so the question is what can get done. If Clinton is able to actually carry out the things she is talking about– an increase in the minimum wage, paid family leave, increased infrastructure spending–it will make a much bigger difference in people’s lives than bringing back Glass-Steagall would.

87

LFC 09.28.16 at 4:22 pm

RichP
I think that the election comments on CT are perfectly typed by how, on the last thread, Bruce Wilder wrote that he was going to vote for Jill Stein and faustusnotes told him that he must not like HRC because he didn’t like old women.

As BWilder himself has pointed out, it makes little difference whom Wilder votes for b/c he lives in Calif.

Wilder’s comments over the months make clear that he despises both Obama and HRC b.c he feels that Obama betrayed his promises by not prosecuting the people responsible for the ’08-09 financial crisis, and Wilder views HRC as an extension of Obama but worse, therefore hates her too. Also dislikes (what he takes to be) their f. policy views. Therefore, acc to W., when HRC gives an answer to a policy question, she is engaging in “patter.”

(Btw, I don’t have to view the lesser evil as ‘good’, merely as less bad. Don’t know what precise description I’d apply to HRC but in this case it doesn’t matter.)

88

efcdons 09.28.16 at 4:25 pm

“Can we really think of no reason she might favor an agreement that includes the US and east Asia, but not China, other than subservience to international capital?”

An agreement. Why this particular agreement if the impetus is just freezing out China rather than the provisions themselves? If the international strategy concerns were paramount wouldn’t there be more of a willingness to listen to domestic concerns in order to increase the chances of a deal being passed?

The China motive has become the go-to TPP argument now the deal’s actual provisions have been found to not garner much support at home.

“In actuality, the last old-style liberal in the Democratic Party was Mondale, and he lost the popular vote by eighteen percentage points, more than anyone since.”

What does Mondale have to do with the price of tea in China? The argument seems to be over how committed Clinton is to the agenda she has been ostensibly campaigning on (in sotto voce, don’t want to spook moderate republicans who aren’t voting for her regardless) since the convention. Bill is emblematic of the New Democrat and the questions is will Hillary be more Bill or the different Clinton she said she is and always was.

Your last paragraph is incoherent. You seem to be saying people were wrong about Sanders because he couldn’t get his agenda passed in a Congressional style system when the other party controls at least one chamber and then go on to list a bunch of policies Clinton also can’t get passed in a congressional system where the other party controls at least one chamber. What special Powers does Clinton have? Are we back to the Republican whisperer bs from the primaries?

Arguably her strategy so far has made less likely Democrats will carry the Senate (see my post @61)

And FYI, Sanders wanted all those things too so if the answer is the GOP would be willing to work on those issues and pass versions acceptable to them (which is un-tethered from reality but we can pretend) Sanders would also be able to carry out the same initiatives if he were President.

89

Layman 09.28.16 at 4:25 pm

“In this imaginary world, the Democratic Party was once the party of the working class and old-style liberalism, but, starting with Bill Clinton, they abandoned this, and now they have lost the loyalty of the working class. In actuality, the last old-style liberal in the Democratic Party was Mondale, and he lost the popular vote by eighteen percentage points, more than anyone since.”

I confess I’m not grasping the contradiction between those two sentences. Those sound like more or less the same world.

90

David 09.28.16 at 4:25 pm

@ Howard Frant

“If Obama had carried out his threat over the “red line” by striking at the Syrian air force, it would have saved many, many lives, but that would be imperialism.”

I see you missed the Libya intervention, but I seem to remember a similar policy not working out quite so well in that case.

91

likbez 09.28.16 at 4:45 pm

@80
Rich,

This “HRC is the lesser evil” is a very questionable line of thinking that is not supported by the facts.

How Hillary can be a lesser evil if by any reasonable standard she is a war criminal. War criminal like absolute zero is an absolute evil. You just can’t go lower.

Trump might be a crook, but he still did not committed any war crimes. Yet.

92

phenomenal cat 09.28.16 at 4:59 pm

Ebenezer Scrooge @82
that’s some impressive wish-fulfillment you got there. The revisionism leavens it a bit which is nice.

As always Howard Frant, ye, the standard-bearer of conventional wisdom and WaPo-ish consensus, I find myself wondering whether you really believe such banalities or are a master troll.

1. TPP is good (check); China is bad (check); America owns the Pacific (double check plus)

2. Fracking is fine (check); Russia is bad (check plus); America owns Europe (double check plus plus)

3. DLC democrats are the best and the best one can hope for (check)

4. Bombing Muslim countries saves lives (check); regime change is a winning strategy, especially in the Mideast (check); another round of Mideast bombing and regime change? (oh, you better believe that’s a check).

This is the kind of stuff that passes for “serious” thought and clear-eyed “realism” at DC parties. What, short of several consecutive well-placed catastrophes, is going to break this stranglehold of TINA? Can anyone tell me?

93

Layman 09.28.16 at 5:00 pm

“…if by any reasonable standard she is a war criminal.”

I think your comprehension problem begins right about there…

94

Rich Puchalsky 09.28.16 at 5:15 pm

likbez: “War criminal like absolute zero is an absolute evil.”

No, I don’t agree. First of all, almost all U.S. politicians are war criminals if they become so by virtue of voting for things like the Iraq War and supporting bombing people, so you have to go to small differences, and there isn’t any indication that Trump would be any different. Secondly, the standard for a politician can reasonably be considered to be something like a pragmatic one, so HRC can be considered to be a lesser evil to Trump because she would probably produce ineffective action on global warming while Trump says he’d pursue policies based on global warming denialism.

So someone saying that she’s a lesser evil war criminal has, I think, a defensible argument (which of course may be wrong). It’s steps 2 and 3 where the whole thing really goes off the rails.

95

djw 09.28.16 at 5:30 pm

virtually everything he said last night—again, with the exception of his talk on trade and, maybe, NATO—hearkened back to Republican candidates and nominees of the 1970s and 1980s.

Where does the maybe come from here–is there some NATO skepticism from Nixon, Ford, Reagan or Bush I’m not aware of that could plausibly be in the same ballpark as Trump’s weirdness?

96

bob mcmanus 09.28.16 at 5:32 pm

90: This is the kind of stuff that passes for “serious” thought and clear-eyed “realism” at DC parties. What, short of several consecutive well-placed catastrophes, is going to break this stranglehold of TINA? Can anyone tell me?

Global warming, you aren’t gonna believe how hard and how fast the stuff (costs and consequences) hits the fan. Starting a few years ago, becoming overwhelming to institutions and infrastructures no later than five years from now.

Need a politics of continual catastrophe.

97

William Timberman 09.28.16 at 6:05 pm

Need a politics of continual catastrophe.

Silly me, I thought that’s what we already had. Maybe if you put explicit in front of politics, in that last sentence, the god of regrettably inevitable consequences, would grant me a moment of clarity.

98

William Timberman 09.28.16 at 6:07 pm

Ugh. Ditch all the commas but one, and can I please exchange my iPhone for an editor?

99

Omega Centauri 09.28.16 at 6:14 pm

I see no way the US political system is going to support a war-level program for global warming. We have examples of damaging extreme weather of the sort bob mcmanus predicts almost weakly on the nightly news. But, never ever do the newcasters say that it isn’t completely natural, or that we’ve made these sorts of disasters much much more common and worse. They would be fired for risking the add revenue from the oil and gas association, so they toe the line. So we can’t build any real consensus about the urgency.

Then of couse its not really the right approach for a multi-decadal effort. One of things a war-level urgency does is sweep away other objections to projects, including especially environmental ones. Want to build plutonium breeder reactors in the Columbia river catchment, do ahead, don’t waste time worrying about possible issues with leakage, and so on and so forth. Those just aren’t the sort of priorities needed for a multi-decade as opposed to a few year effort.

And of course we already know the Republican voters who can’t stomach Trump will split the ticket, so any hoped for coattails will be minimal at best. And the millenials won’t vote in the midterms, and so at best we have devided government, that if anything will be highly hostile to attempts to actually do anything about global warming. Or to reign in the trend towards minority-attitudes be damned aggressive broken-windows, stop-and-frisk, and shoot to kill at the first hint that the apprehendee might be a threat style policing.

100

Lee A. Arnold 09.28.16 at 6:20 pm

The response by publics to continual crises is not rational thought, because there is too much to think about, and it is too complicated. Therefore in the modern era, the politics of continual catastrophe has been fascism (on the right or left). I think this was first pointed out by Karl Polanyi.

What comes instead is the attitude that facts and laws (and even constitutions) don’t matter. This symptom is noticeable in Trump’s everchanging statements, from one day to the next.

So therefore, until the world is remade whole, decisions should be made by the iron fist, to “make the country great again”.

101

Rich Puchalsky 09.28.16 at 6:40 pm

Getting off topic here, but we don’t need a war effort, and we don’t really need a politics of continual catastrophe. Everything that we can do about global warming can be done through boring, everyday governmental decisions like refusing to permit new coal and gas fired plants and spending money on solar and wind plants and on batteries. Mass mobilization can’t do any more than that, and a politics of continual catastrophe actively makes it more difficult to do a boring, everyday process.

A “war effort” with no enemy very quickly becomes a politics of personal virtue, which is useless, and a politics of continual catastrophe without an immediate catastrophe very quickly becomes a politics of despair, which is also useless. People who disagree with the “without an immediate catastrophe” part should read what the IPCC has to say on the subject: it has to do with the senses of “immediate” and “catastrophe”, but the time scales involved are not the time scales on which human politics happens.

102

Lee A. Arnold 09.28.16 at 6:51 pm

I do think that the climate change crisis may pan out a bit differently. Climate certainly is complicated but there is the possibility of a nonlinear heat spike that is brief, unpredicted, and devastating — and then the temperature might subside for a while. This would have certain political effects.

So far, the denialists been able to sell the “climate-chain-is-a-hoax” thing to the membership in the rightwing cognitive bias, which has a very different in-group regime of risk assessment and planning that depends upon emotional attitudes to maintain the status quo.

However the denialists have been unable to comprehend that complex systems have dynamics that are nonlinear and can have sudden unpredictable extremes — and further, that the probability of these unpredictable extremes increases, if and when the system is disturbed.

A bad heat spike would wake them all up.

There is already some evidence that they are shifting their positions with the current temperature acceleration. They blabbered onward that 1998 was the peak year until 2014 and 2015. And 2016, the worst yet, isn’t even on the graph yet:
http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/

Anyway, if there is a big heat spike, there may develop a big chink in the rightwing cognitive armor, and thereafter we may see a shift on other issues.

103

Layman 09.28.16 at 7:10 pm

Republican orthodoxy will accept climate change when 1) there is something they have to gain from it, and 2) there is a rationale for blaming liberals for it. When Exxon wants a massive giveaway from the taxpayers to fund some climate change response, e.g. mitigation, alternative technology retooling, whatever; or Citibank needs a public cash infusion to offset economic catastrophe brought on by selling climate change insurance default swaps; then you’ll see Republican politicians lobbying for it and blaming Democrats for dragging their heels.

104

bruce wilder 09.28.16 at 7:12 pm

I think I pretty much agree with Rich Puchalsky’s assessment @ 99 (09.28.16 at 6:40 pm), but . . . (you knew there would be a “but”):

I do think it might be very useful politically to have a two or three year period in which radical responses to global warming are instituted and common efforts on a large-scale are carried out.

Rich is, of course, correct to observe that the time-scales involved in the actual processes of climate change and ecological collapse are not the time scales of human politics. But, if we’re going to act effectively, the time scales of human politics have to be respected, too. Action on climate has to get political priority if it is to be initiated at all, and radical commitments are required, if certain doors are to be effectively locked shut.

Even they take 30 or 40 years to execute, well-thought-thru master plans can go a long way toward coordinating efforts on infrastructure. And, over a relatively short period of common action, it might be possible to take action that would retard climate change. I am thinking about campaigns of large-scale energy use reduction and campaigns to reforest or to increase the earth’s albedo.

105

bruce wilder 09.28.16 at 7:19 pm

Layman @ 81: . . . some actual examples of the 3 steps?

LFC @ 85: I don’t have to view the lesser evil as ‘good’, merely as less bad. Don’t know what precise description I’d apply to HRC but in this case it doesn’t matter.

106

Yan 09.28.16 at 7:24 pm

Rich @80
“1. HRC is the lesser evil.
2. I can’t stand voting for someone purely as the lesser evil: my ego requires that I affirmatively support someone.
3. Therefore the lesser evil is really kind of good and anyone against it is bad.”

My favorite part is:
4. HRC critics, you should vote for her because she’s a lesser evil
5. But I can’t stand endorsing someone purely as a lesser evil
6. Therefore, you shouldn’t just vote for her, you should stop criticizing her and actively praise her.
7. Or you’re objectively supporting Trump.

107

Rich Puchalsky 09.28.16 at 7:32 pm

Climate policy is no longer really about denialists. Trump is an outlier in this regard, but what the Paris Agreements did was to semi-permanently shift the Overton Window to official, international acceptance that the problem is real and that we’re supposed to do something about it. I don’t think that Trump and/or the U.S. can unilaterally turn that back any more.

108

Rich Puchalsky 09.28.16 at 7:43 pm

The “you’re objectively supporting Trump if you write anything critical of HRC on a blog” runs into the clear problem that by that logic you’re objectively supporting Trump if you write stuff on a blog that causes people who might vote for HRC to instead vote for Stein in disgust. That pretty much started with the coinage “Trump-curious” and its associations with a kind of untrustworthy bisexuality and continued on through the whole “you’re racist”, “you’re sexist” romp.

But really this has something to do with the bandwagon effect. The implicit logic (if any) seems to be that while you and I might be capable of voting knowingly for a lesser evil, there are other unnamed people out there who aren’t capable. So we have to preserve a solid front of denial for their sake.

109

LFC 09.28.16 at 8:06 pm

Since B.Wilder apparently misread what I said about HRC, let me spell it out as clearly as I can.

‘Step 3’, according to RP, is

“Therefore the lesser evil is really kind of good and anyone against it is bad.”

I do not maintain that anyone who doesn’t vote for HRC is “bad”; it depends where you live. In California, Wilder can vote for anyone he likes — he can write-in Keynes, Joan Robinson (both deceased of course), or anyone else — he can vote for Bozo the Clown or Godzilla — and it would not be “bad” b.c the outcome in Calif. is not in doubt.

The only place a non-vote for HRC cd be called “bad” is a state where the outcome is in some doubt, a so-called swing state. In those states I wd advocate voting for HRC.

When I said “it does not matter in this case,” I meant the precise label applied to HRC — e.g., lesser evil, mixture of ok and not, whatever — doesn’t matter from the standpoint of making the above judgments on voting.

I myself live in a safe Dem state and I’m planning to vote for HRC, but without in any way suggesting that I think other people need to make the same choice I’m making if they live in a state where the outcome is not in doubt (i.e. safe Blue or Red state).

I hope that clarifies my position at least as to the immediate points.

110

TM 09.28.16 at 8:12 pm

“how thoroughly conventional a Republican Donald Trump is”

This doesn’t begin to do justice to Trump the phenomenon. But of course he is a Republican, and most of his positions are Republican positions. Doesn’t it matter then that the Republican party as a whole has steadily moved to the right and is now at the most extreme it has been in generations? Trump of course isn’t a lone outlier (how could he be nominated if he were) but he embodies this now dominant extremism and takes it to new heights.

Corey has made this kind of argument – that Trump doesn’t constitute a political “break” – repeatedly and he reminds me of the frog who’s slowly being cooked and can’t perceive the rising temperature, because it’s the new normal.

111

phenomenal cat 09.28.16 at 8:50 pm

Yes yes, William Timberman and Lee Arnold, “state of emergency” and “risk society” politics are par for the 20th/21st centuries course.

Catastrophe politics have been so instrumentalized–that is to say, tamed, and made reliably profit producing and rent extracting– over the last two/three decades that it is fairly integral to the most powerful nodes of national and transnational political systems at this point.

In other words, part and parcel of TINA, and therefore no longer “empirically” catastrophic within a certain politico-epistemic frame–just the order of things. My question above was and is what can or will break the stranglehold of this political rationality? Mcmanus essentially postulates a (environmental) catastrophe which cannot be managed/assimilated.

RP says its a matter (re: climate change) of boring everyday processes. Fine, I’m all for processual and boring–when general political consensus and practice isn’t certifiably corrupt, exploitative, and hateful. So what is the trigger, what are the changes whereby boring processes become trustworthy mechanisms operating for the public’s welfare (again?)? The reason people invoke the wartime/national mobilization metaphor is not just b/c of the severe fractures in the body politic and the threat of climate change. The outcomes of these boring processes are too distant and reliably negative for most people. Why, with all the evidence at hand, should anyone buy into “trust the process” at this point? There’s no feedback. The decision-makers are fully insulated from the consequences of their decisions. Thus, the mobilization metaphor is a way of imagining buy-in and shared consequences from top to bottom.

It’s been said before, but this really does throw into high relief the complete lack of an affirmative left political program–it’s just a cancerous nothing. And a politics of affirmation is there for the taking, but I’ve yet to see how it doesn’t arrive from the “outside”; whether that be a nonhuman outside, i.e. environmental changes a la mcmanus, or through major political actions from outside establishment consensus.

I guess another option is widespread withdrawal and refusal of participation leading to legitimacy collapse…

112

Rich Puchalsky 09.28.16 at 9:15 pm

Saying that what is required is boring, everyday processes is *not* saying the same thing as “trust the process”. It’s pretty saying the opposite of that. As you write, disaster capitalism is just another form of capitalism at this point, so a politics of catastrophe can easily become a politics in which no kind of input from the bottom is ever accepted. Think of terrorism politics as a model. We have a War on Terrorism and it’s always a crisis, so no change is ever possible.

What I meant by “boring, everyday processes” is that none of this stuff is really up to the market, none of it is unregulated, all of it is essentially already thoroughly controlled by government, and we already pretty much have technical solutions for all of it. No one builds a coal powered electric generating plant, a car factory, or an oil refinery without government signing off on all stages of the process. So thinking that we need some kind of new political system to do this is an obfuscation. What we need is the political power to make the existing process work to dispossess a powerful but limited part of the elite. Some people say that this can’t, by definition, be done under a neoliberal world system, but the fossil fuel elite is not really the controlling part of the neoliberal elite.

113

Anarcissie 09.28.16 at 9:39 pm

phenomenal cat 09.28.16 at 8:50 pm @ 109:
‘… this really does throw into high relief the complete lack of an affirmative left political program…’

You mean there is no mainstream affirmative left political program, and that is because there is no mainstream Left. There are leftists with affirmative political programs, but they have been banished to the periphery, and established-order liberals are on guard to keep them there.

Rich Puchalsky 09.28.16 at 9:15 pm @ 110:
‘So thinking that we need some kind of new political system to do this is an obfuscation. What we need is the political power to make the existing process work to dispossess a powerful but limited part of the elite.’

It seems to me that the second sentence there contradicts the first. The ability of an insurgent ‘we’ to split the elite / ruling class seems to require something the ‘we’ does not at present possess.

114

Will G-R 09.28.16 at 9:53 pm

Calling the people whose endorsements Clinton has spent her time since the DNC pursuing “moderate Republicans” seems suspect. After all, apart from Wall Street financier types whose rigid party identification tends to dissolve in the bipartisan solvent of the neoliberal financial establishment [I shouldn’t say “dictatorship of the bourgeoisie” or liberals will throw a tantrum], the Republican public figures she’s been most aggressive about shepherding into her corner are the neoconservative foreign policy hawks whose coups, death squads, invasions, and so on were allegedly supposed to embody the worst and most immoderate excesses of the Bush and Reagan administrations. It seems the idea is to impress so-called moderate voters with a show of establishment unanimity across all prior “extremes” as a show of Clinton’s seriousness and Trump’s unseriousness, but then we have to reckon with the way “moderate voters” is most often a euphemism for “low-information voters with a vague sense of not wanting to be seen as rocking the boat who otherwise don’t give much of a damn about electoral politics at all”, which has little to do with what “moderate” means when describing actual public figures. If we took any real effort to directly hash out “moderate” inclinations of the depoliticized public at large the same way we do those of the institutions through which this public is supposed to funnel its political engagement, we’d probably come up with something very different.

Also, Rich @ 106, you’re more or less echoing what Nathan Robinson writes about “objectively pro-Trump” anti-leftist Hillary supporters here.

115

RichardM 09.28.16 at 9:54 pm

Maybe I wasn’t hearing the same debate as everyone else, but I heard something very different from a standard Republican. “[W]e’ve spent $6 trillion in the Middle East … we could have rebuilt our country twice.”

Then 5 minutes later he said:

And, by the way, with Iran, when they circle our beautiful destroyers with their little boats, and they make gestures at our people, that they shouldn’t be allowed to make, they will be shot out of the water,” Trump said to thunderous applause. Soon the crowd began to chant: “USA! USA! USA!”

Everyone knows he lies, but there do seem to be a bunch of people who each have their own particular takes on when. It’s quite an innovative approach to political communication. Like those ‘build-a-bear’ shops, where a customer takes a random jumble of parts and puts together something unique to them.

Maybe better to judge on actions? Perhaps the most relevant one so far is appointing a VP that no political pundit alive could pick out from a lineup of Cheney, Wolfowitz, Perle and Rove.

116

Will G-R 09.28.16 at 9:57 pm

It also seems the commentariat here is still stuck on utopian fantasies in which the existing political class (including the GOP Congressional majorities Clinton’s campaign strategy is all but ensuring will continue for the foreseeable future) is both willing and able to take the necessary steps to wean global capitalism off of fossil fuels. ZM’s wartime mobilisation, bob’s politics of continual catastrophe, or even bruce’s Two-To-Three-Year Plan will not happen, in part because of neoliberalism’s constant drive toward depoliticization of issues that might interfere with short-term corporate profits, and also in part because First-World politics is well practiced at not giving a shit about the suffering of the Third World, which of course is where the most immediately catastrophic suffering from climate change will be borne at least at first. Lee’s “chink in the rightwing cognitive armor” won’t happen either, not in response to any empirical facts about the actual climate: this cognitive armor exists because there are vested interests promoting its existence, interests that aren’t themselves stupid enough to completely deny the basic parameters of climate science (e.g.).

If anything the least starry-eyed one here is Layman for implying that neoliberalism would tackle climate change by radically reconfiguring market incentives to make prevention and/or mitigation a profitable business, which is close to how people like Charles Koch see the issue too — but in this case I have to agree with everybody else here that this kind of gentle nudging of markets wouldn’t be enough, without slamming on the brakes much harder than our current thoroughly marketized mechanisms are capable of doing. What’s needed is impossible under our present institutions, and what’s possible is inadequate.

117

Lee A. Arnold 09.28.16 at 10:53 pm

Will G-R #114: “this cognitive armor exists because there are vested interests promoting its existence”

I don’t think so. I think it emerged when the Great Chain of Being was overturned in the public imagination in the middle of the 18th Century (see Lovejoy) and so, at the same moment, the market economy began to be accepted as a way to escape the status positions of traditional society.

The change in emotional expectation about the source of social status immediately formed a left/right politics, generally reflecting the interests of the have-nots and the haves. Promotion by vested interests is not a cause of this, rather it is a predicable symptom of it.

And it won’t be overturned by anything less than a reversal in the reign of the status-psychology of money which has characterized the last 250 years.

Which may be closer than we think, because a part of “status” has always been since ancient times a signal of being able to avoid need — but it is unavoidably becoming ever clearer that our basest owners are in the richest things superfluous.

Perhaps we will soon be ready to read the social tragedy of our next romantic Shelleyan horror myth: the Trumpenstein monster!

118

Howard Frant 09.29.16 at 12:20 am

efcdons @86

Why this particular agreement? Well, the details of this particular agreement were negotiated after 2012, after Clinton’s time as Secretary of State. Trade agreements have always been largely political, i.e. about strengthening alliances.

In my cursory look, I don’t see much about TPP that I really love– what the US mainly gains is in areas like intellectual property and patents, where there is no doubt some third-world cheating but a lot of profiteering by corporations. But the idea that this some kind of make or break issue seems way overblown. Most likely it’s not going to have a huge effect one way or the other. On another thread on CT someone suggested that the dispute resolution mechanisms were going to lock us in to a neoliberal institutional framework that would prevent increases in income to labor, or something like that, the way the IMF sometimes did. Yeah, this ain’t the IMF. Not even close.

What does Mondale have to do with the price of tea in China? I was commenting on the view that the Democrats had been seduced by neoliberalism into abandoning labor, and now labor had abandoned them. It’s not true. Mondale, I was saying, was the last paleoliberal in the Democratic Party, and he got his head handed to him. Nobody since has done worse.

I didn’t really get your argument about the Senate. Maybe she should try to get moderate Republicans to stay home, but that seems like pretty risky strategy unless she has a huge lead, which she doesn’t. The Senate races got closer when the Presidential race got closer.

Laymen @87

Yeah, efcdons didn’t get this either. The point is that there seems to be a view here that Democrats abandoned working people and gave their allegiance to international capital, or something, and that’s why they’re having trouble today. My response was that old-style paleoliberalism had been crushingly rejected by the voters. Repeatedly, in fact.

David @88

If the goal in Libya was to prevent a massacre, it arguably succeeded. I didn’t argue that a different Syria policy would have made everything rainbows and ponies, but it’s hard to see how it could’ve been worse. The left doesn’t seem to be very concerned about horrific loss of life in the third world as long as our hands are clean. They hate the West in Aleppo now.

phenomenal cat

Gosh, I’m devastated to hear that my wisdom is so conventional and banal. I thought of myself as opposing the conventional wisdom and banalities at CT. I didn’t say that either the TPP or fracking is good. I was pointing out that Clinton might have had reasons for supporting them quite aside from her slavish subservience to international capital. Maybe, in fact, people outside CT sometimes think about other things. I didn’t understand the points about the US owning Europe and the Pacific. Surely the issue is whether Russia and China, respectively, own them. Or is that all just some Cold War masquerade and Russia and China are really peaceful non-expansionist powers that their neighbors are not at all afraid of?

Oh, right. Those Muslim countries are screwed up, so we should do nothing while hundreds of thousands of civilians are slaughtered, because there’s nothing we can do. After all, that’s exactly what got us into Iraq, trying to stop civilians from being bombed. And you start with attacking their air force, and the next thing you know you’ve got 100,000 ground troops there. And this way our hands are clean. Too bad about Aleppo. Anything good on TV?

119

William Timberman 09.29.16 at 12:34 am

As for solidarity in the face of climate change, doesn’t it seem likely that with the wealth extracted from BW’s national disinvestment, and from the hapless unnecessariat, the 1% would find it relatively easy to move the family compound from Kennebunkport or Hyannis Port to the Beaufort seashore? As for the rest of us, the dumb ones will probably try hiring on as their security guards, while the smart ones are already opening real estate offices in Barrow.

120

likbez 09.29.16 at 12:35 am

I wonder why so little attention is paid to Hillary bellicosity, while is borderline to insanity. As Adam Walinsky put it in Politico (Sep 21, 2016, http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/09/rfk-trump-2016-democratic-party-speechwriter-214270)

== Start of the quote ==
John and Robert Kennedy devoted their greatest commitments and energies to the prevention of war and the preservation of peace. To them that was not an abstract formula but the necessary foundation of human life. But today’s Democrats have become the Party of War: a home for arms merchants, mercenaries, academic war planners, lobbyists for every foreign intervention, promoters of color revolutions, failed generals, exploiters of the natural resources of corrupt governments. We have American military bases in 80 countries, and there are now American military personnel on the ground in about 130 countries, a remarkable achievement since there are only 192 recognized countries. Generals and admirals announce our national policies. Theater commanders are our principal ambassadors. Our first answer to trouble or opposition of any kind seems always to be a military movement or action.
== end of quote ==
How you can defend such a deeply flawed (as in insane) candidate is beyond me.

121

Layman 09.29.16 at 12:58 am

I basically agree with Rich P @ 110, but would add that this is (in my view) why these lesser-evil choices actually matter. For the existing system to use existing mechanisms to regulate greenhouse gases relies on who leads, what rules they adopt, and whether the courts uphold their authority to impose those rules. If Republicans get to staff the EPA and set policy and appoint justices, nothing useful happens. There is actually a difference.

122

bruce wilder 09.29.16 at 1:04 am

likbez: How you can defend such a deeply flawed (as in insane) candidate is beyond me.

How?

By focusing on the other guy, on Trump.

Today, Brad Delong points to the daily anti-Trump screed by James Fallows, which features a four month old piece by Robert Kagan:I disagree with Robert Kagan on just about everything. But in the months since he originally published his essay, called “This Is How Fascism Comes to America,” I think his arguments have come to seem more rather than less relevant.

Robert Kagan is desperate to save us from fascism, you see. Because anything Athens did wrong in the Peloponnesian War, America can do again, but bigger. And, his wife is a favorite to become Secretary of State. She’s deeply experienced, having brought peace to Ukraine.

None of that matters because Trump is unprecedented.

123

Layman 09.29.16 at 1:07 am

“My response was that old-style paleoliberalism had been crushingly rejected by the voters. Repeatedly, in fact.”

Well, not really. You can’t argue on the one hand that Mondale was the last liberal, and on the other that liberals always lose. If the first premise is true, then the second has no supporting data. That aside, there’s no doubt that the US suffered a pendulum swing to the right; but there’s equally no reason to believe the pendulum has ceased to be a pendulum.

124

Kiwanda 09.29.16 at 1:39 am

Will G-R: ” I have to agree with everybody else here that this kind of gentle nudging of markets wouldn’t be enough, without slamming on the brakes much harder than our current thoroughly marketized mechanisms are capable of doing.”

I am more optimistic. The competitive prices of renewable energy sources (e.g., recently bids of <2.5cents/kWh for solar have been made in Abu Dhabi) mean that their exponential growth will continue, leading to further price reductions and so further growth. The emergence within the next few years of electric cars with cost and range competitive with gas cars (e.g., the 2018 Nissan Leaf, 250 mile range, $25K) means that electric cars will get cheaper and more competitive. Cheaper batteries for stationary storage, as well as for cars, will help match renewable energy to demand, as will better transmission infrastructure, and simple methods for shifting demand.

Whether the transition to renewables will made fast enough to stop climate disaster is unclear: obviously it's already too late for significant warming to be avoided. Clearly more government support would be helpful, for faster authorization of transmission lines, home heating standards that push electrification, and so on. But it's clear that the transition is occurring with remarkable speed.

125

Tabasco 09.29.16 at 1:46 am

How you can defend such a deeply flawed (as in insane) candidate is beyond me.

Four years, on this very blog, the same arguments were being made. Obama is a terrible warmonger, he bombs children etc. Voting for him as the lesser of two evils is an immoral choice, etc.

Someone had a pithy reply to all of this, which was, paraphrasing –

“Two words: Supreme Court”.

Surely the same applies this time, but even more so.

Either Clinton or Trump is going appoint Scalia’s successor. Over the next four years, either Clinton or Trump might well appoint Thomas’ and Alito’s successors. These appointments will have thirty year effects, and are arguably more important than who temporarily occupies the White House.

126

BBA 09.29.16 at 2:14 am

Either Clinton or Trump is going appoint Scalia’s successor.

I doubt Clinton gets anyone through the Judiciary Committee, let alone the full Senate. You think the current Congress is obstructive? You ain’t seen nothing yet.

127

Anarcissie 09.29.16 at 2:47 am

likbez 09.29.16 at 12:35 am @ 118 —
I went through this with them in a recent discussion. For the most part, liberals (American terminology) simply do not care for or about anti-war and anti-imperialism arguments. Just saving everyone a little time here.

128

Chris G 09.29.16 at 3:02 am

> … there’s a not so small current in American politics that would hear that, that Trump didn’t pay his taxes, and think, with him, that he was indeed smart for having outsmarted the system. And would want to align themselves with him as a result. In the hope that they too could learn these tricks some day…

Remind me again how many people enrolled in Trump University?

129

JimV 09.29.16 at 3:43 am

“I doubt Clinton gets anyone through the Judiciary Committee, let alone the full Senate. You think the current Congress is obstructive? You ain’t seen nothing yet.”

True, unless the Democrats get a majority in the Senate, which is possible. And at some point the Republicans will run out of arguments, the current one being that a President in the last year of his second term should not be allowed to fill an open seat but should wait for a freshly-elected President to make the nomination. One can hope the media will stop looking for “both sides do it” balance if obstruction continues at that point.

As a self-described liberal (who has spent most of his life among people for whom “liberal” was a bad word) I am not in general in favor of wars and Imperialism. However, I am suspicious of the buzz-word “Imperialism”. It seems to me the Korean War accomplished something beneficial (compare South Korea to North Korea) . The Vietnam War emphatically did not, but may have been partly inspired by the Korean example. The invasions of Panama and Iraq under G.H.W. Bush had worthwhile ends unless I am badly misinformed. The Iraq invasion under GWB was, as the Ricks book stated, a fiasco. On the whole, perhaps the world would be better off without all of our wars since WWII, but I am not certain of that. Certainly we could have done a much better job picking our battles.

Gore and Kerry were flawed candidates (those people who don’t like “liberals” spit when they see Gore or Kerry on TV, to this day), but oh how I wish we had elected them rather than GWB. (I did some of my part – moved to a swing state, Ohio, long enough to vote for Kerry there.)

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Howard Frant 09.29.16 at 4:21 am

OK, here’s what puzzles me. Looking back upthread, what is the source of the really deep antipathy that people on CT have for Hillary Clinton? I haven’t heard anyone say that her tax policy is not progressive enough. That’s a legitimate argument, but no one seems excited about it. Apparently two things really get people hot under the collar. (1) She is somewhat interventionist militarily. Of course, people aren’t content just to say that, they have to say that she is a “war criminal” (sorry, could I have some specifics on this?), or at least a warmonger. But basically, by that they just mean that she is somewhat interventionist militarily. (2) She’s more inclined toward trade agreements than most people here.

OK, fine, these are legitimate areas of disagreement. Here’s what puzzles me: those are the traditional positions of paleoliberals in the Democratic Party. You don’t have to like them, but there’s nothing neo about them. So how is Clinton a neoliberal?

There’s one respect in which Clinton follows the DLC line: this business of favoring means-testing rather than universal programs. I think that as a political strategy this is bad, and I get irritated every time she trots out that line about not wanting to pay for Donald Trump’s kids (there just aren’t that many rich people, and they’re not sending their kids to state schools anyway). But I haven’t heard anyone say they could never vote for Clinton because of this. So what’s neo about Clinton? W hat distinguishes her from Mondale?

BBA@124

I doubt this, but in any case, Trump will certainly have no trouble getting appointments thru a Republican Senate.

Layman@121

You can’t argue on the one hand that Mondale was the last liberal, and on the other that liberals always lose. If the first premise is true, then the second has no supporting data.

Um, your logic is faulty. To say that he was the last paleoliberal is not to say that he was the only one. Also, I wasn’t saying that liberals always lose. I was saying that working people left the Democratic Party, not vice versa.

likbez @119

This is pretty much Exhibit A on Clinton Derangement Syndrome:

John and Robert Kennedy devoted their greatest commitments and energies to the prevention of war and the preservation of peace. To them that was not an abstract formula but the necessary foundation of human life.

When JFK entered the White House, there were 700 US troops in Vietnam. By the end of 1963, there were 16,000. JFK thought counter-insurgency was really neat. He also took us closer to thermonuclear war than anyone in history. But no, it’s Clinton who’s bellicose to the point of insanity.

Some of you have lost your bearings. Drink some hot milk and go to bed.

131

Tabasco 09.29.16 at 4:25 am

I doubt Clinton gets anyone through the Judiciary Committee, let alone the full Senate

Maybe. But nothing is better than having Trump appointments.

132

Omega Centauri 09.29.16 at 4:53 am

I’m with Jim @128. It is one thing to disallow a supreme court nomination for the last few months of a lame duck term, I think the optics will be much more damaging if it becomes abvious that the goal is to run out the clock for an entire term. Of course a lot depends on how the media interprets things for the sheeple.

Kiwanda, sure the renewables technical revolution is remarkable, and our politics and public understanding is way far behind the reality here. But there is a lot to be done which requires the support -or at least lack of strong determined resistance from government. Rejecting Paris would be a serious blow. Beginning the conversion to electric in earnest of the many direct uses of fuel is going to be a major effort. Current projections of the rate of sales of EVs for instance are far far short of what we need to do/ And the lobbies for oil and gas are quite strong, and increasingly finance pro oil-gas policy advertising. Fraking is capable of keeping the game going for quite a long time, as the unconventional oil/gas reserves are many times the conventional (not requiring fancy fraking or other heroic measures to produce). Personally I think our oil and gas wells will be leaking oil/gas plus other toxins fro hundreds and quite possibly thousands of years, of course local contaminated aquifers will be unusable for thousands of years too. It may well turn out that replacing coal with fraked gas is far worse for the longterm climate than the coal it is replacing. A delay of a decade or two could have serious longterm consequences.

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Omega Centauri 09.29.16 at 4:56 am

And if Trump goes ahead and announces that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, neither he nor 99% of the American will have any clue of the size of the hornet swarm that would release. It will simply be interpreted as proof of how insane Islam is, and terrorism and Islamophobia will reach new highs.

134

Paul 09.29.16 at 5:51 am

But aren’t these so called debates just an extension of the “reality”-TV world view which now patterns and controls the minds, bodies and desires of the now everywhere dreadfully sane every-person. Of which Trump is the perfect product, the archetypal hollow man full of sound and fury and signifying nothing except to stay tuned for the next episode, or download ” installment” into your trance-induced zombified brain.

What if something far more sinister is going on behind the scenes especially by the multi-various outfits that want to make America “great again” which necessarily demands that the USA must be re-“Christianized”.
As an example check out the various references to 4th Generation Warfare. A good start would be the essay The Trump Campaign Makes Perfect Sense As 4th Generation Warfare on freakoutnation website.

135

bad Jim 09.29.16 at 7:27 am

If Clinton is elected with half a Democratic Senate, she’ll shift the Supreme Court in a desirable direction, and contrariwise with Trump. It’s only stalemate if either winds up with a Senate that departs from the presidential trend.

136

TM 09.29.16 at 8:20 am

37: “A Trump presidency would be hated by all parties to the duo-gopoly”

I am still amazed at how delusional people can get. I guess I lack fantasy.

Seriously, this is not to go Godwin but it has to be said: plenty of smart people were convinced that Hitler could never achieve anything as Chancellor, no big risk in letting him try and fail. After all he didn’t at the time control the legislature (which Trump would), he didn’t have the most powerful political office (which Trump would), he didn’t have a popular mandate (which Trump would), so what damage can he do?

The point isn’t to reargue about how fascist Trump is or is not. The point is that the same kind of arguments – if Trump wins he couldn’t really do that much and couldn’t really be a lot worse than any other president – they have been made before. Most people’s political fantasy simply fails to capture the possibility that yes things can get worse than you think. But history is full of counterexamples. Meditate a bit about history and look at all the failed predictions and losing bets that smart observers have made, and for heaven’s sake get out of your bubble. This election isn’t about who is smart and eloquent and makes the best predictions, it’s about real decisions that affect real people in the real reality.

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TM 09.29.16 at 8:54 am

The quote was marku52 @39, not 37 (or does the numbering keep chaning?)

138

TM 09.29.16 at 9:00 am

derrida 46: “watch the whole thing with the sound turned off”

See http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/28/us/politics/trump-clinton-debate-body-language.html

139

Layman 09.29.16 at 9:03 am

“It’s only stalemate if either winds up with a Senate that departs from the presidential trend.”

It’s probably not a stalemate even then. I suppose it’s possible, but hard to believe even Republicans would refuse to confirm a nominee to the USSC indefinitely.

140

Layman 09.29.16 at 9:16 am

“Um, your logic is faulty. To say that he was the last paleoliberal is not to say that he was the only one. Also, I wasn’t saying that liberals always lose. I was saying that working people left the Democratic Party, not vice versa.”

Um yourself. I think to be honest, you should acknowledge that the gist of your argument is that the politics of Bill Clinton didn’t amount to a departure from the Democratic liberalism that came before. That’s simply wrong. Beyond that, I think you’re conflating ‘working people’ with ‘white working people’.

141

TM 09.29.16 at 9:39 am

Layman 77: “The party of the President loses seats in the midterm election”

Didn’t happen in 2002. Maybe it is more accurate to say that the House majority party usually loses seats in midterms, which offers some hope for the future. Although even more accurate would be to say that the Republicans nearly always win the House – has been true 9 times out of 11 since 1994, will soon be 10 times out of 12.

Why? Gerrymandering explains some but not all of it. Why are Americans, who keep saying how tired they are with “Washington gridlock” and who express close to zero trust in Congress, why are they going to reelect this utter failure of a legislature and why is there no strategy to do something about it?

142

TM 09.29.16 at 9:55 am

Republicans turned to pure antagonism and obstruction during the Clinton (Bill) years. They reaped the benefits when Bush captured the White House and Repubs for a while were in control of all branches of government. With Obama’s election, they immediately redeployed the obstruction strategy, taken to new extremes, with the declared aim to deny Obama a second term. That didn’t work out. Repubs have made Obama’s presidency miserable without any successes of their own to show for. When Clinton wins, I don’t think Repubs can just go on with another four, more likely eight years of obstruction without at some point being punished by voters. But maybe they can. What do I know.

143

ZM 09.29.16 at 10:42 am

Will G-R,

“ZM’s wartime mobilisation, bob’s politics of continual catastrophe, or even bruce’s Two-To-Three-Year Plan will not happen, in part because of neoliberalism’s constant drive toward depoliticization of issues that might interfere with short-term corporate profits, and also in part because First-World politics is well practiced at not giving a shit about the suffering of the Third World, which of course is where the most immediately catastrophic suffering from climate change will be borne at least at first.
…. I have to agree with everybody else here that this kind of gentle nudging of markets wouldn’t be enough, without slamming on the brakes much harder than our current thoroughly marketized mechanisms are capable of doing. What’s needed is impossible under our present institutions, and what’s possible is inadequate.”

It isn’t just my wartime mobilisation policy — its the policy of the Democratic Party in America.

The negative effects of climate change like more extreme weather events are already being seen in parts of the world, including in the droughts in Russia that were one of the causes of the food shortages that sparked the Arab Spring, and in Hurricanes Katrina and Irene in the USA, plus Louisianna had an island that was the first evacuated in America due to climate change — Isle de Jean Charles.

Many businesses are looking at how they can mitigate and adapt to climate change already, and businesses that are formed as Corporations with shares plus Banks and Insurance Firms all have a fiduciary duty to make sound investments which means they have to mitigate climate change.

In the USA you have the group Our Children’s Trust taking legal action against State and Federal Governments relating to inaction on climate change, based on the Public Trust Doctrine which has an important place in USA case law due to its inclusion in the Takings Clause in the Constitution of the United States of America.

If the mechanisms are not all in place yet, which of course is true, it doesn’t mean the mechanisms cannot be decided upon and put in place in the future over the next 30 or so years.

The first mechanisms will be the easiest ones to deploy since you can cut GHG emissions rapidly in some areas by things like more efficient appliances and conservation of energy and consuming less animal products. Longer term things would be something like transformations of transport infrastructure to be more sustainable, which you probably would time table to take 15-25 years to complete.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals, which I mentioned to you in the other thread on Hilary Clinton where climate change came up, are intended to assist developing economy countries and one of the things that has been talked a lot about is how to finance these transitions. France has a bank set up to do this, and my State Victoria released its first Green Bonds scheme recently, so I imagine there are quite a few mechanisms for financing that will be deployed in various forms around the world.

Its very pessimistic saying what is needed is impossible and what is possible is in adequate. You won’t get any action with that sort of pessimism, everyone would just get depressed instead of doing anything.

144

LFC 09.29.16 at 1:29 pm

@H Frant
I’m glad you picked up on the imbalanced quote re JFK etc, b/c I was too lazy to do it. The explanation is that the quoted piece is by Adam Walinsky, who was (I think, w/o Wiki’ing) a speechwriter/adviser for RFK. Walinsky’s probably getting on in years, and his idea of a column is to contrast the peace-loving JFK (and RFK) to the bad promoters of American empire and bases-around-the-world who followed him/them. Which is somewhat weird.

This is a pt about the overall trajectory of US f.p. since c.1947, which has exhibited a good deal (though not, of course, complete) continuity (as well as some variation from admin to admin.). [Whether JFK, had he lived, wd have gotten involved in Vietnam in the major way LBJ did, or wd have stopped short of that kind of escalation, is a separate and disputed question, and there is evidence to support conflicting answers– but it doesn’t alter the main pt above. A past CT commenter, who went by ‘mattski’ iirc, was very big on the JFK-wd-not-have-escalated-had-he-lived thesis, so one can find some cites supporting that view if one searches on mattski’s past comments here.]

Walinsky also lumps JFK and RFK together, which is problematic since, inter alia, RFK lived 5 yrs longer and into a diff. historical period in which he played a major role.

145

Rich Puchalsky 09.29.16 at 1:30 pm

To sum up the side thread about global warming, I think that a Marxian left tradition has to be informed by close analysis of the class interests of the contemporary elite. The current international elite is a financial elite, and its critical interests are not really tied to geological assets stranded in the ground. This elite does not have to have its critical interests challenged in order to prevail on this one issue, and therefore progress on this issue is possible under the current system.

I was going to write something about 350.org, its use of civil disobedience and its role in stopping Keystone XL, etc., but that’s really kind of parochial. Progress is going to have to come through action in the U.S., but also action in China, India, Europe etc. No national movement is going to be able to do all that. An international agreement is what can.

146

TM 09.29.16 at 2:19 pm

From a Marxist point of view, there is nothing surprising in observing that capital is divided into different fractions that have different interests, and there is no shame in leftists rooting for the more progressive fraction (e. g. clean energy) to prevail over the more reactionary forces (e. g. mining). Especially given that the left, if we are honest, doesn’t have any plausible non-capitalist anternative to offer.

Of course, it is also true that Matx had a dialectical view of the role of capitalism and saw it as a progressive as well as destructive force.

147

TM 09.29.16 at 2:20 pm

Marx, not Matx.

148

F. Foundling 09.29.16 at 3:05 pm

@ Howard Frant

On Libya: it’s disputed whether Qaddafi was really going to commit massacres and to what extent he was going to commit human rights abuses (see the UK Parliament report for sceptical opinions expressed by experts); what is clear is that the Libyan rebels have likewise committed massacres and human rights abuses, in addition to the formerly prosperous country’s plunging into chaos and protracted civil war (with the predictable humanitarian consequences).

On Syria: all sides have committed massacres and human rights abuses, and whichever side wins is virtually guaranteed to commit further human rights abuses. The reason there is a protracted civil war, with all the predictable humanitarian consequences, is that the rebel side has been receiving outside support from US allies (and the government side has been receiving outside support from Iran and Russia, without which it most likely would have been defeated).

In both of these cases, there are no good guys. In both of these cases, the West’s support for the rebels, in addition to being illegal under international law, can be expected not to prevent massacres, but simply to determine who gets to massacre whom. The real objective is, of course, to make sure that a hostile or disobedient regime is toppled (cf. the indifference to abuses by, say, the Saudis). Certainly, all internal or external actors responsible for war crimes should be indicted and, when/if possible, tried by an international court, but that doesn’t mean that in the meantime the US or its allies have the right, let alone the moral obligation to invade other countries and to effect regime change at their own discretion.

On FP and subservience to international capital, one may want to consider the handling of Haiti after the earthquake (google Haiti and neoliberalism), US relations with the most recent wave of leftist governments in Latin America, where no geopolitical threat from a great power is present (note especially Honduras), and what the US has been pushing for in the TTIP. If it’s possible to pursue a pro-labour, anti-corporate, anti-oligarchic, pro-public US foreign policy, the fact remains that it somehow never seems to happen.

149

bruce wilder 09.29.16 at 4:07 pm

Throwing around a Marxist accented capitalism label as all purpose explanator does not seem to me to providing much insight independent of what is projected onto it, and calling for Monty Python revolution proves as much, imho. That said, neoclassical economics is even less helpful.

Quite apart from the impulses of sociopathic or philanthropic financiers — are they the same or different people? — the official doctrine of economic analysis, in which framework public policy must be drawn, has been remarkably unhelpful in developing a common understanding of what needs to be done, imho.

Ridiculing the anachronism of Marxism is a pastime, but what are to do with neoclassical economics? Even if I believed that world leaders ceremonially signing agreements were willing to act in (corrupt) principle, there is still the small matter of technocratic palsy among the economists. I mean, did you read the 5th IPCC summary? Responding will cost growth.

But, not to worry, we will be able to extract carbon at scale real soon and reverse overshoot.

The optimistic reply seems to reject the need for an overarching framework of ideas to give context and orientation: apparently, solar electricity will keep getting cheaper — here is a price per kWh — problem solved. Which problem? . . .?

What I do get explicitly from Marxism which is mostly only implicit in neoclassical economics is that increasing inequality is bad news for managing resource limits and externalities. The demands of the masses can be crammed down, but at a cost to social discipline as well as poverty. The power of the rich to marshal resources to mitigate the effects and externalize and socialise costs will exacerbate the main drivers.

150

bruce wilder 09.29.16 at 6:56 pm

F. Foundling @ 148

I don’t see it raised very often, but the West had made a deal with Qaddafi re: nukes. His signing on to that deal proved to be a key aspect of his undoing.
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/02/world/middleeast/02arms.html

This kind of expedience, heedless of strategy, precedent or consequence, is now a standard part of American foreign policy. The U.S. concocts a R2P rationale suited to the moment, without respect to either the truth or a deliberate appreciation of goals and consequences. I cannot help but think it is part of the same uncritical, self-righteous amoralism that attaches the U.S. to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia as allies.

151

Suzanne 09.29.16 at 8:25 pm

@50: She’s been reaching out, in her diligent if not necessarily inspired way, to younger voters all along. Fat lot of good it’s done her.

Dukakis was a decent man, whatever his failings as a pol, and also the victim of one of the filthier campaigns waged in recent history.

152

Rich Puchalsky 09.29.16 at 8:35 pm

Suzanne: “She’s been reaching out, in her diligent if not necessarily inspired way, to younger voters all along. Fat lot of good it’s done her.”

Those stupid young people .. they don’t know what’s good for them. Just because a higher percentage of them are voting for HRC than the percentage of any other age group doesn’t mean that they can’t be talked down to as if they are supposed to do better.

153

Kiwanda 09.29.16 at 9:03 pm

Bruce Wilder: “But, not to worry, we will be able to extract carbon at scale real soon and reverse overshoot.”

Not that I’ve heard; do you know different?

“The optimistic reply seems to reject the need for an overarching framework of ideas to give context and orientation: apparently, solar electricity will keep getting cheaper — here is a price per kWh — problem solved. Which problem? . . .?”

The problem is global warming, of course. Not solved, but reduced in its course. And, human suffering.

If using renewable energy sources is cheaper than using other sources, that makes such use a good deal more likely to happen. (I think that’s true regardless of neoclassical vs. Marxist analysis, dominance of fossil fuel elites vs. financial, belief in integration as a measure of wealth, or overarching framework of ideas.) So, cost matters.

It helps that renewable energy (wind and PV solar) also creates jobs, removes uncertainty about future energy costs, and reduces pollution, water consumption, and dependence on foreign energy sources. These additional benefits make it even more attractive, and likely to grow. Plus, again, yes, global warming. But cost matters.

154

Will G-R 09.29.16 at 9:10 pm

TM @ 136, granted that Trump’s shadow-puppet show of fascism is designed to appeal to voters who most likely would support a real fascist if one was available, the Hitler analogy is absurdly sloppy. Hitler had his own independent party organization autonomous from the mainline center-right and conservative nationalist parties, built up through more than a decade of explicit party coordination of armed political paramilitary activity before getting anywhere near the chancellor’s office. (The beginning of which was arguably in 1919, when the loosely organized militia prececessors of the SA were summoned by the postwar socdem government to help massacre communist revolutionaries, but go ahead and blame Stalin for the left’s lumping together liberalism and fascism if it makes you feel better.) As far as the transition to one-party dictatorship, much more important than the anything about Hitler’s initial cabinet and legislature was that the SA and SS were given de facto free rein to act with the authority of official state police, from which point the legal prohibition of opposition parties was a mere formality.

Unless you put too much stock in a sparse WordPress site and a few independent press releases from March touting something called the “Lion Guard” or “Bikers for Trump”, there’s zero sign Trump has any interest in organizing anything remotely like that, and the campaign institutions he has that aren’t explicit organs of the GOP establishment are no different from the ideological Potemkin villages that get erected around every major-party presidential candidate every four years before being torn down and rebuilt around the next one. An actual President Trump would act as a creature of the institutional GOP establishment every bit as much as, say, Ronald Reagan; my analogy in an earlier thread was the technocratic aptitude of early-Alzheimer’s Reagan and the public persona of Rob Ford backed by the Congress of Newt Gingrich. Which ultimately portends an actual governing agenda that would differ from Mitt Romney’s by degrees and not kind, which in turn would differ from Hillary Clinton’s by degrees and not kind — any of which would move the US economy in a similar direction, toward the conditions for genuine fascism, albeit at different speeds in different areas. Seeing the things Trump is saying spoken out loud by someone in his position is terrifying no matter who raises their right hand on January 20, 2017, but in terms of anything that would actually be enacted into law between January 21, 2017 and January 20, 2021/2025, the rhetoric about walls and entry bans and whatnot is smoke and mirrors.

155

bruce wilder 09.29.16 at 9:32 pm

So, cost matters.

Indeed, it does. But, what does “cost” mean? That is a deep question. What “cost” means depends on context: neoclassical vs. Marxist analysis, dominance of fossil fuel elites vs. financial, belief in integration as a measure of wealth, and overarching framework of ideas therefore matter a great deal.

Fatuous rhetoric about how renewable energy “creates jobs” et cetera is so much pious rubbish without analytic grounding.

It is old by now in internet years, but Tom Murphy’s piece bears reading again:
http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2012/04/economist-meets-physicist/

I think the low prices being quoted for renewables is great news — but it is not confronting the limits on gross substitution or the ubiquity of entropy or the implications of an overcrowded planet.

156

Kiwanda 09.29.16 at 10:10 pm

me: “So, cost matters.”

Bruce Wilder: “Indeed, it does. But, what does “cost” mean?”

Well, I would find it very natural to factor into the cost the impact on global warming, medical costs due to pollution after resource use, medical and fishing and tourism costs due to pollution during resource extraction, the cost of military postures and actions to maintain access to distant reserves, the cost of waste disposal, the cost of uncertainty regarding future prices, and so on. Probably you would too, under your particular overarching framework of ideas. Current subsidies imply the incorporation of such costs, to some degree, although poorly. Future governmental actions could do better in the incorporation of such costs. But what matters most now is the decision of the people empowered now to make purchase decisions now. That’s where the 2.5cents/kWh comes in.

“Creating jobs” may be fatuous, under the correct overarching framework of ideas, but when it comes to persuading midwestern Republican politicians to support wind power, it’s likely as important as land-use fees or lower electric costs to attract business. Granted, the heat death of the universe implies its ultimate unimportance.

157

Suzanne 09.29.16 at 10:11 pm

@152: Oh, I don’t know. Compared to, for example, some of the very unpleasant epithets directed at Gloria Steinem by members of the younger set following an out-of-context quote for which she apologized, I think that was rather gentle.

In fact, I was thinking less of younger voters in general, particularly those who are planning to vote, than some of the poutier ones on the web.

Even so, it is irksome to read things along the lines of “Clinton needs to reach out to younger people” without any acknowledgment that she has been doing that with all evidence of sincerity – of course she’d like younger people, and especially but not exclusively younger women, to be for her, and not just for practical political reasons.

158

Anarcissie 09.29.16 at 10:51 pm

Howard Frant 09.29.16 at 4:21 am @ 130:
‘… She is somewhat interventionist militarily. Of course, people aren’t content just to say that, they have to say that she is a “war criminal” (sorry, could I have some specifics on this?)….’

I was giving this a rest, but since you ask, it is my duty to comply with your request.

First, we need to determine what a war criminal is. I go by the standards of the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials, in whose charter we read (Article 6):

The following acts, or any of them, are crimes coming within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal for which there shall be individual responsibility:
(a) CRIMES AGAINST PEACE: namely, planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances, or participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the foregoing….

I think this is a pretty good definition of a war crime, although if you disagree I will be glad to argue in its favor.

By the standards of the Nuremberg trials, then, the aggressive, unjustified invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003 were unquestionably war crimes. A just government would have put Bush, Cheney, Rice, Powell, and so forth on trial. One might note that the Nuremberg trials, the crime was taken seriously enough to earn condemnation to death by hanging.

Clinton’s connection to this crime was, of course, at least her vote in 2002 to enable it, which made her an accomplice. Her subsequent excuse was ‘bad intelligence’, but given her position as a US senator, her connections, her powers, her fame, and her undoubted wits, it is almost impossible to believe that she believed Bush’s pack of lies. It seems much more likely that her calculus was as follows: ‘If the war goes “badly”, it’ll be on Bush. If it goes “well”, we Democrats will have been in on it. Win-win.’ However, one must concede that if she were brought to trial, she might be able to plead monumental ignorance and incompetence. Of course there will be no such trial, so everyone confronted by the question must answer it for her- or himself with whatever means may be at hand. To me the evidence seems pretty conclusive.

159

kidneystones 09.29.16 at 11:05 pm

Returning to the OP, there’s a clear sense among ‘experts’ that sounding smart and well-informed in the debates is going to translate into victory at the polls.

I’ve asserted (above) that Trump doesn’t need to ‘win’ any of the debates. He’s won just by being on the same stage with the only other remaining candidate. He wins the election simply by remaining on the stage with the only other remaining candidate.

Why? Because the debates and the run-up to the vote long ceased to be anything other than theater/carnival and a real-life reality TV show. As Van Jones astutely observed months ago, Trump ‘enter’ politics, but rather recognized that what experts like to call the electoral selection process is something else entirely.

What would be an asset in the ‘political’ world of experts, is a liability in the world of carnival. Thus, Trump’s larger than life persona, orange hair, and over-the-top bombast are the costume and language of a world where ‘respectable’ bankers run riot, arms manufacturers help undermine nation states, and the poor bleed and die in the street to the amusement, or indifference, of an audience addicted, or inured, to pain and suffering.

Trump is the guy in the bright, yellow suit, matching over-sized cowboy hat, and enormous oversize gloves towering on stilts over crowds of gyrating revelers and weeping mothers and orphans to a chorus of fireworks exploding in red-silver-blue against an indigo sky.

His opponent arrives with her coterie of hangers-on and masters dressed in formal suits without masks, or any clue that in the fun-house Ubu and the irrational rule.

160

Kiwanda 09.29.16 at 11:16 pm

Feb 5, 2016:

STEINEM: [overlapping] No, but…it doesn’t…I mean, first of all, women get more radical as we get older because we experience—
MAHER: [overlapping] Women get more radical? That’s interesting.
STEINEM: [overlapping] Yeah, it’s the opposite – it’s the opposite of—
MAHER: [overlapping] Is that—
STEINEM: [overlapping]—I don’t mean to over-generalize. I’m sure that you’re getting more radical, but—
MAHER: [overlapping] No, no!
STEINEM: [overlapping]—but men tend to get more—
MAHER: [overlapping] Right.
STEINEM: [overlapping]—conservative, because they gain power as they age.
MAHER: Right.
STEINEM: And women get more radical because they lose power as they age.
MAHER: Wow, isn’t that something?
STEINEM: So, it’s…it’s kind of not fair to measure most women by the standard of most men, because they’re going to get more activist as they grow older. And, when you’re young, you’re thinking, you know, where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie. Or, you know…
MAHER: Ooh. Now, if I said that…
STEINEM: [overlapping] No, no, you can say it.
MAHER: [overlapping] “Yeah, they’re for Bernie because that’s where the boys are.”
STEINEM: [overlapping] No, no, but—
MAHER: [overlapping] You’d – you’d swat me. Come on.
STEINEM: [overlapping]—it’s not…no, I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t.
MAHER: [overlapping] Good.
STEINEM: [overlapping] Because – because the boys are saying whether…no, I mean, hello? What do you…how well do you know me? Okay. [she laughs]
MAHER: Okay. Not that well. I’d love to know you better, but…
STEINEM: But, also – also…
MAHER: [he laughs]
STEINEM: That one went right by me. I didn’t really

Steinem on Facebook, Feb 7:

In a case of talk-show Interruptus, I misspoke on the Bill Maher show recently, and apologize for what’s been misinterpreted as implying young women aren’t serious in their politics. What I had just said on the same show was the opposite: young women are active, mad as hell about what’s happening to them, graduating in debt, but averaging a million dollars less over their lifetimes to pay it back. Whether they gravitate to Bernie or Hillary, young women are activist and feminist in greater numbers than ever before.

161

Collin Street 09.29.16 at 11:30 pm

It’s probably not a stalemate even then. I suppose it’s possible, but hard to believe even Republicans would refuse to confirm a nominee to the USSC indefinitely.

Think of it as a test of your analytical frameworks. Mine suggests pretty strongly that they’ll try.

162

Rich Puchalsky 09.30.16 at 12:03 am

Those damned kids should get off of Gloria Steinem’s lawn.

As for HRC, she reached out to Kissenger, and she reached out to youth. What more could she do for heaven’s sake. It’s not like there’s any content involved that makes a politician get the support of Kissenger but not the support of as many left-leaning youth as someone would like — it’s all a matter of reaching out.

163

Layman 09.30.16 at 12:33 am

“Her subsequent excuse was ‘bad intelligence’, but given her position as a US senator, her connections, her powers, her fame, and her undoubted wits, it is almost impossible to believe that she believed Bush’s pack of lies.”

I think your post begins to unravel here. That’s quite a judicial standard! “Your honor, the accused is guilty, not on the basis of evidence, but because I simply can’t believe her.”

164

Layman 09.30.16 at 12:37 am

“Think of it as a test of your analytical frameworks. Mine suggests pretty strongly that they’ll try.”

I guess I don’t know what ‘try’ means. If it means ‘try’ but not ‘succeed’, then you’re agreeing with me. But if they have a majority, I don’t really see how they fail other than deciding not to succeed. What else stops them?

165

LFC 09.30.16 at 12:54 am

It appears that Kissinger and Schultz are not endorsing either Clinton or Trump.

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/top-ex-gop-officials-shultz-kissinger-mull-clinton-endorsement-article-1.2775645

166

Anarcissie 09.30.16 at 1:31 am

Layman 09.30.16 at 12:33 am @ 163 —
I already covered that. Because a proper trial can’t be held, people must make up their minds individually. The preponderance of the available evidence does not (in my opinion) point to ignorance and incompetence, but connivance. However, in a real trial Clinton might conceivably be able to make such a case for herself. It does not seem like much of a compliment to say so.

167

Collin Street 09.30.16 at 1:37 am

But people say things for reasons.

Sure, Clinton’s a bad candidate. This is accepted. People can’t be speaking about Clinton’s flaws as a candidate to communicate Clinton’s flaws as a candidate, because this has already been well communicated.

… so, what are they doing it for?

168

Faustusnotes 09.30.16 at 2:15 am

Did Bruce Wilder do the hand waved “don’t worry, technology will solve it after the revolution” move on global warming?

Besides being laughable, this implies Bruce thinks global revolution will come real soon. What’s your strategy Bruce?

169

Layman 09.30.16 at 2:38 am

“Because a proper trial can’t be held, people must make up their minds individually.”

Which is another way of saying that it is not a fact, and that you acknowledge it isn’t a fact, and that rather undermines your entire response.

170

merian 09.30.16 at 3:00 am

This thread has evoked for me a notion that didn’t occur to me earlier. I’ve been wondering why the US election 2016 and Trump related threads here on CT turn into more of a mess than usual, and uncharacteristically not an enlightening mess at all. This one (a bit better than the previous ones, no doubt because of how Corey Robin framed the post; or maybe because people get exhausted) has led my thoughts down the following path:

Substantial emotional engagement is evidenced by strongly held positions, Manichaean judgements, monocausal explanation, and a lack of generosity in response to dissenting statements. So what does this tell us about what CT commenters are ideologically beholden to? Well, we can expect that most (trolls set aside) have a commitment to values of the left and left-leaning analysis of topics of the day, say (off the top of my head), formulating alternatives to the “soft” neoliberal “third” way type politics and policies, or analyzing how an ecological and (more) egalitarian economic order could be built, on the level of the country, a region, whatever. Maybe revive a form of democratic socialism. OK. Let us call these goals and values (A).

I very much share such (A) goals and their intelligent discussion is what attracts me to this worthy blog. But I’m finding it’s not the whole of what I, personally, am beholden to in politics. I’m also beholden to stuff I share with people even a good way into the political right. Some people at least. Respect of the institutions (whatever they may be in the country under question — here for example the office of the president); good government[1]; pluralism[2]; non-discrimination and opposition to white supremacy; even wibbly-wobbly stuff like recognition of shared humanity and recognition for honest, if in many ways misguided, service, or expertise; respectful disagreement; opponents that advance my thinking. So let’s call these items collectively (B).

So when I see someone I share (A) with, in the last days of September of 2016, with the situation being what it is, analyzing Clinton and Trump through a lens that makes what they stand for more comparable, that highlights the ways in which Clinton, undoubtedly a heir of the very soft neoliberal camp, offends those who are beholden to (A), then I must assume that the people who do this are less than I am beholden to (B).

Because to me, to borrow the words of Emily Bazelon on a podcast a while ago, Clinton at this moment is fighting the fight of her life to save us from the madman. And (back to my own words) even though I may share every harsh thing that Corey Robin say about her (not quite, but it’s close), but for fighting this figh, she has, until November 8 my limitless admiration and support. Because I am beholden to that (B) stuff too.

Frankly, I couldn’t say better than Lee Arnold does above why, of course, she isn’t offering a baring of her deepest and most cutting-edge economical thought in these TV debates. Has this ever happened before anyway? In a debate where the top two absolute imperatives for her are a) to answer any possible question with a slick and confident answer that has no word even a hair out of place in a way that could be attacked by any potential constituency and b) to be in total control of her smile, posture, feet, breathing, hair, voice pitch and any other physical function that human beings have. Yeah, me, too would like to press her on trade, and concrete suggestions to help those in the non-deplorable basket of Trump supporters. I even hope she may say something in the other debates — her line about how not just police, but all (white?) people have to deal with implicit bias was quite welcome on that topic, which is possibly easier for her. Sure I do. But I don’t give a rat’s fuck if she doesn’t as long as she wins this. We can take our pitchforks to her door as soon as this farce is over. There’ll be ample time.

Or else of course commenters may disagree that the perspective of a Trump presidency is so dire. We could go into that. But from where I sit, there’s a house fire that has already engulfed a whole block, and we’re all some small helpers of the fire fighting effort. Sitting down in the middle of the soot-covered street to discuss one’s disagreement with the objectionable management style of the fire department leadership might conceivably wait until the emergency is dealt with, doesn’t it?

[1] There have been cases where I preferred a moderate conservative mayor whose overall job performance looked good to me to a candidate whose ideology was be closer to mine, but whose antecedents convinced me that their lack of relevant skills would have made them a worse caretaker of my town.
[2] That is, even if I was convinced that my political ideology is right, and even if the-party-of-my-eco-lefty-ideology was ruling the country, I’d STILL would like there to be an opposition. Wouldn’t it be nice if the current soft neoliberal center-left was the right-wing opposition?

171

Will G-R 09.30.16 at 3:40 am

Rich @ 162, I couldn’t resist

Well I had a dream the other night,
You were at the White House in the war room in a chair
Wearin’ a US flag lapel pin
Navy pantsuit and murder in your stare

And you said hey, this is where I wanna sit
And change a regime someday
You were goin’ to the UN
But you kinda lost your way

You say now I got all these drones
And nobody to celebrate ’em!
So some campaign manager
Put you in touch with the man upstairs

And he said Hillary,
You’ve got no business bein’ all frustrated!
You gotta twist
You gotta twist
You gotta twist

You gotta reach out
And pick the kids up!
You gotta reach out
And pick the kids up!

Carry them in your hand
Weed no longer banned
Then we’ll bomb Iran!

Also, you should read the recent Emmett Rensin piece in Newsweek if you haven’t already.

172

Howard Frant 09.30.16 at 3:44 am

Layman@140

We seem to be getting further into confusion. I have no idea what point you think I was making. Here it is, and it’s really not big:

Many people attribute the rise of Trump to the Democrats’ (say, starting with Bill Clinton) abandoning working people by abandoning that old-time paleoliberal religion. In fact, though, the electorate had abandoned that o.t.p.r. long before. The last representative of it was Mondale, and he was crushed. No one since has lost as badly as he did.

OK?

F. Foundling

I have no idea, really, who’s who in Syria these days. But the whole thing started out as a peaceful uprising. Granted, it was predominantly Sunni, but there wasn’t a big sectarian thing. Our refusal to get involved may have seemed justifiable at the time, but it left a big vacuum that was filled by the crazies. By the way, referring to “our allies” doing things without specifying Saudi Arabia and Turkey (?) is I think deceptive– it sort ofr implies that they are acting on our behalf and in our interests, which they’re not.

173

Layman 09.30.16 at 4:09 am

“Many people attribute the rise of Trump to the Democrats’ (say, starting with Bill Clinton) abandoning working people by abandoning that old-time paleoliberal religion. In fact, though, the electorate had abandoned that o.t.p.r. long before. The last representative of it was Mondale, and he was crushed. No one since has lost as badly as he did.”

1) Dukakis. 2) Absence of liberal candidates since. 3) Pendulum. 4) White workers. &tc.

174

F. Foundling 09.30.16 at 4:51 am

>the West had made a deal with Qaddafi re: nukes. His signing on to that deal proved to be a key aspect of his undoing.

Good point; to quote Rory Bremner as Ahmadinejad:

What a schmuck!

>The U.S. concocts a R2P rationale suited to the moment, without respect to either the truth or a deliberate appreciation of goals and consequences.

Well, I don’t know about the consequences; it doesn’t seem so bad in terms of imperial strategy. Why should one ever miss an opportunity to eliminate a relatively stable regime with a tendency to disobey the US? At best, it will be replaced by a more US-friendly regime; at worst, the result will be chaos and a failed state, which couldn’t actively counteract US strategy in the region either.

175

F. Foundling 09.30.16 at 5:07 am

Howard Frant @ 172
If the US didn’t want its allies to arm rebels, it might as well have told them not to arm rebels. Assad is Iran’s guy, Iran is a US enemy, the Saudis and Turkey are US allies, the burden of proof is on anyone who assumes that the US does *not* want the Saudis and Turkey to fight Assad.

Merian @ 170
This strikes me as an extremely long-winded way of saying ‘Shut up and stop thinking until 8 November’. The only statements permissible until then are variations of ‘Long live Hillary!’ and ‘Down with Trump!’ If Hillary’s campaign really couldn’t handle people expressing their thoughts freely in blog comments, it would be a lost cause anyway. Also, whoever agrees with most of the criticisms of Hillary from the left made here will be certain to tolerate Trump even less.

176

js. 09.30.16 at 5:21 am

merian’s comment is excellent. I think I’m happy that I’ve read no other comments. You all have changed my mind already quite a bit (a feeling I’m not used to).

177

F. Foundling 09.30.16 at 5:21 am

And BTW, your reading of that Persephone scene was quite untenable.

178

merian 09.30.16 at 5:22 am

F. Foundling: Oh, bullshit. Nonsense and bullshit. Apparently I wasn’t long-winded enough because you appear to have missed my blue-eyed paean to the enlightenment values and pluralism. I have no desire or calling to tell anyone to shut up.[1] What I did — and it’s undoubtedly why it took longer than your demeaning paraphrase — is to write down the ethical case for my personal judgement about the kind of arguments I’m seeing flying around, to my chagrin. My judgement engages no one but myself.

(I do wonder where people learn reading comprehension these days.)

[1] For starters, it would be the pinnacle or rudeness on someone else’s blog.

179

Howard Frant 09.30.16 at 5:24 am

Layman

“1) Dukakis. 2) Absence of liberal candidates since. 3) Pendulum. 4) White workers. &tc.”

1. I skipped over Dukakis because I wasn’t sure how to classify him; I think he was a sort of proto-New Democrat, who sold himself as a cool technocrat. He didn’t lose as badly as Mondale did. Fits what I said.

2. Well, right. Effect, not cause. But there were certainly liberal candidates in the 1992 primaries. Even before the Mondale debacle, there hadn’t been a winning candidate since 1964, except for a Southerner who was the most conservative Democrat in the field.

3. Not sure how that matters. The tide, to change metaphors, rolled out and left the Democrats high and dry. They weren’t coaxed away by the siren song of neoliberalism while the workers cried “Come back!” As many seem to believe.

4. Not getting your point here. Yes, blacks continued to vote for the Democrats. But that wasn’t much consolation.

180

F. Foundling 09.30.16 at 5:35 am

AFAICS, what you’ve said is that until 8 November, one *shouldn’t* ‘highlight the ways in which Clinton offends those who are beholden to [left-wing positions]’ and one *shouldn’t* ‘discuss [one’s] disagreement with the objectionable management style’. In other words, one should hold one’s tongue lest some confused undecided soul should read one’s blog comment and decide to stay at home on the 8th (or something).

181

F. Foundling 09.30.16 at 5:38 am

Sorry, the above (180) was a response to Merian @178. Time for me to bow out.

182

merian 09.30.16 at 5:50 am

F. Foundling: The central message of my comment was of the form of an if-then statement. One from which follow a few things, including that one can right now be in unqualified support of Clinton while at the same time sharing the criticism of her overall position[1] on economics; or on war. It is true that an ethical judgment follows, too. But since when is saying “in my book, given this set of value, the ethical thing to do is that” equivalent to shouting around orders? Heck, if you disagree, why not engage with the argument? I mean, the reason I write it down here is for people to rub their own mind against it and make me smarter, after all.

And given you mentioned fragility (of the Clinton campaign, which really I have no idea might possibly come into it) it does strike me as ironic that you are apparently too fragile to hear someone expressing an ethical judgement that goes against your preferred actions, if that’s what they are.

[1] Actually, at this stage mostly assumed position, but that’s a different problem.

183

Faustusnotes 09.30.16 at 5:50 am

You don’t have to shut up foundling but there are more than a few people hereabouts who could stand to improve their judgment of clinton to the level they might appply to any other issue of the day that bothers leftists. That would include a) not suddenly becoming a mindless dupe for junk peddled by the right like the Clinton foundation bullshit, b) analyzing trump from a standard leftist perspective rather than grading him on a curve so that, for example, the fact that he lies a lot can be adduced as evidence he might be considering single payer healthcare, c) recognizing the real threat he poses and not falling back on lame “everyone’s a neoliberal so it doesn’t matter who wins” junk, d) taking clintons policy statements seriously instead of repeatedly claiming (and apparently believing) without evidence that all of it is a lie, even that she doesn’t want to win the senate because she doesn’t want to enact any law the GOP doesn’t like, e) ditching the “both sides do it” madness, f) accepting that doing good before the revolution is a worthy goal and not something to sneer at or actively sabotage g) at least try to understand climate change.

It’s like all rational discourse has been suspended by a large bloc here, and I think merian has nicely summarized why.

184

Collin Street 09.30.16 at 6:20 am

one *shouldn’t* ‘highlight the ways in which Clinton offends those who are beholden to [left-wing positions]’

Not so much “shouldn’t” as “physically can’t”. Everyone is fully aware of the ways. You’re not highlighting them any more; they cannot be highlighted any more. Throw another fifteen carbon-arc lamps on them and it won’t make any difference: they’re as highlighted as they can possibly be already.

So no you are not “highlighting the ways etc” them. You are, instead, “droning on and on incessantly about the ways etc”. I think you should stop: not because what you’re saying shouldn’t be said, but because it’s already been said as damned well as it needs to be said and now people should start saying other things.

Just. Shut. The Fuck. Up. About Clinton. Stop trying to “highlight” things we’re perfectly fucking cognisant of, please. Yes. We get it. Now can you move on.

185

merian 09.30.16 at 6:26 am

Thanks, Faustusnotes. That’s a great list, I think, of stuff I’d like to see (or not see). Thanks, js, too.

As a tangential note, even though I’m not a fan of Slate’s “Trumpcast” format, I very much enjoyed the last episode’s interview with the historian Nell Irvin Painter. I wish the elements of analysis she lays out were more widely known and accepted. Knowledgeable, not whiny, nuanced. (And a lot better than her somewhat staged “Historians against Trump” video.) The episode is here. Jump to 6:12 for the start of the interview and skip the nonsense and ads at the beginning.

186

TM 09.30.16 at 7:46 am

Faustusnotes 09.30.16 at 5:50 am 183 wins the thread.

187

kidneystones 09.30.16 at 11:23 am

Matt Bai channels Joe Biden ‘Monday Morning Quarterback’

Matt Bai, like many of the why don’t Donald and Hillary take my advice ‘experts’ explains how Hillary ‘blew it’ when Donald served up his ‘Not paying taxes makes me smart’ by failing to give teh Donald a good ‘talking to’ about how to be a better billionaire.

Like Bai knows.

I suppose what bothers me most about all the experts on both sides is that nobody who hasn’t run for this job can possibly understand the pressures and the strain of performing live before 84 million people, a percentile of whom are going to parse every sentence, flinch, sigh, sniffle, glance, and inflection and then run the ‘offending’ segment over and over again.

That’s why ‘powering through’ an illness that renders one prone to fainting is an extremely bad idea for someone hospitalized for brain injuries.

I supported HRC in 2007 and even then her flaws were hard to miss. But I saw her as more experienced, capable, and brighter than her future boss. Her judgment is, after her tenure in government, appalling to the point of disqualification. But she evidently did a fair to good job of delivering her message. I think she’ll lose because she can’t change.

Hillary certainly knows a lot more about billionaires and CEOs than Matt Bai. Now, maybe Matt Bai’s imaginary CEO’s like paying taxes. I somehow doubt it. Certainly firms like Apple and Google which are generally lining-up to support Hillary are doing everything they can to avoid paying taxes.

Hillary’s mistake, imho, is listening to bad advice. Somebody told her, obviously, that destroying Libya would be a ‘win’ for the US, and perhaps a way to put weapons into the hands of US backed Syrian rebels, who it turns out are a lot like the ISIS types who Hillary helped in Libya.

In the case of the debate, she stuck to her script and did what she did because however bad she may be, she’s the one standing on stage in front of 84 million people with Trump and nobody else.

Yes, she needs better advice. But not from political jock-sniffers like Bai.

188

Rich Puchalsky 09.30.16 at 11:49 am

merian: “Respect of the institutions (whatever they may be in the country under question — here for example the office of the president); good government[1]; pluralism[2]; non-discrimination and opposition to white supremacy; even wibbly-wobbly stuff like recognition of shared humanity and recognition for honest, if in many ways misguided, service, or expertise; respectful disagreement; opponents that advance my thinking. So let’s call these items collectively (B).”

Your comment was condescending, although I accept that you didn’t intend it to be. The entire frame of the people pitching lesser evilism is that by supporting the group of values you label (A), the people doing so must be less beholden to those values that you label (B). When you include things like opposition to white supremacy and recognition for shared humanity and opponents that advance one’s thinking in (B), it becomes a straightforward insult. (As an anarchist, I won’t argue with the “respect for institutions” part.)

Perhaps the advocates for unqualified support of HRC up until the election should realize that people who criticize HRC in this way often have a coherent political point of view that existed before, during, and will exist after this election. If you think that this point of view involves less support for (B) above, then you don’t understand it. Starting off with an insult is not really the best way to increase your understanding, if that’s what you want to do.

189

Lee A. Arnold 09.30.16 at 11:58 am

Will G-R #154: “the Hitler analogy is absurdly sloppy… …actual President Trump would act as a creature of the institutional GOP establishment… …an actual governing agenda that would differ from…Hillary Clinton’s by degrees and not kind… …which would move the US economy in a similar direction, toward the conditions for genuine fascism, albeit at different speeds in different areas…”

This is eerily reminiscent of the KPD’s opinion that equated Weimar with the Nazis.

I won’t bother to read all of that old literature, but I would bet that a wan hope for the moderations of the “institutional establishment” are in there somewhere. (And look! at the gentle care! with which the GOP regards the spirit of the Constitution!)

Quotation: “I think that the old thing: ‘about the only thing you can learn about history is that you can’t learn from history’, is probably true. And this illusion that you get, that you are much more sophisticated, and that it can never happen that way again, may be true, but the thing you don’t realize is that it will happen a different way!” — Stanley Kubrick

An eternally good book to help us think outside our bubbles of theories and emotions, think outside our “coherent” political points of view, is by William Sheridan Allen: The Nazi Seizure of Power: The Experience of a Single German Town, 1922-1945.

In other news, NYTimes, 3 hours ago: “Duterte, Citing Hitler, Says He Wants to Kill 3 Million Addicts”

190

Faustusnotes 09.30.16 at 12:20 pm

Rich , will has shown pretty conclusively that the critics of Clinton may have a political position but it is not coherent. And in saying supporters of Clinton decalue merian’s B, you have already fallen for almost all the bad pets of my list a-f.

And so the circus continues.

191

Lee A. Arnold 09.30.16 at 12:35 pm

Faustusnotes, I think your big mistake is to suppose that “coherence” and “rational discourse” were ever much in evidence among the nattering nabobs of negativism in their tattered and doddering dotage. Men were agnewstics ever, one foot on sea and one on shore, to one thing constant never.

192

Lee A. Arnold 09.30.16 at 12:38 pm

And, in other snoozy news, the “fact-checker” Glenn Kessler at the WaPo says that Hillary’s claim that the “Bush tax cuts played ‘a large part’ in sparking 2008 recession” is wrong.

Kessler is wrong. As follows:

Bailing out the stock marketers with the Bush tax cuts

so they could throw the money into mortgage derivatives in the “search for yield”

at the same time as you increase inequality with the Bush tax cuts

so that more lower-quintile homebuyers use their bubbling house equity

to pump up the GDP by consumption spending in a wealth effect —

is a MAJOR proximate cause of the 2007-8 crash and recession.

The underlying cause is different: probably “secular stagnation” due to longer-term 1. increasing inequality, 2. surplus upper-quintile savings + financialization of the economy, 3. ever-cheaper IT putting downward pressure on business investment requirements, 4. international trade without domestic compensation to labor, 5. technological unemployment.

193

Rich Puchalsky 09.30.16 at 12:39 pm

faustusnotes: “And in saying supporters of Clinton decalue merian’s B”

Which I didn’t write: learn to read. And by the way, your bit about how voting for Jill Stein indicates that the Stein voter must not like the thought of old women nagging them remains the stupidest thing I’ve read here in months, and anyone who indicates approval of your comments automatically falls down a few steps in my respect for them.

Will G-R’s position is highly consistent: in my opinion, too consistent. If you think it’s inconsistent, then you don’t share its assumptions, and have no ability or interest in understanding what those assumptions are. In which case please stop commenting because your contributions are a waste of time.

194

TM 09.30.16 at 12:44 pm

RP, mind the froth at your mouth.

195

Rich Puchalsky 09.30.16 at 12:52 pm

TM, for instance, posts almost exclusively one-line, contentless insults. It’s no surprise that he thinks that your comments are insightful.

Ever since RMB finally got himself banned I’ve been wondering whether his fellow travelers would show any sign of self awareness. Evidently not.

196

Anarcissie 09.30.16 at 1:07 pm

Layman 09.30.16 at 2:38 am @ 169:
‘“Because a proper trial can’t be held, people must make up their minds individually.”
Which is another way of saying that it is not a fact, and that you acknowledge it isn’t a fact, and that rather undermines your entire response.’

I think you are mistaken. If you believe in any sort of objective universe, then there are facts which are hidden — in fact, given our lack of omniscience, most of them. Nevertheless we must proceed in the world in some way, so we — some of us, anyway — try to establish an idea of the facts through the best evidence available, rational procedures, intuition, and so on. Some people believe that the question of whether Clinton is a war criminal is important. There is a reasonable argument in favor of the proposition, which Howard Frant wanted to know, or pretended to want to know. I have given it.

Do you really want to go on with this? It does not make your favored candidate look good, and in any case, most of the people reading and writing here evidently don’t really care that much one way or the other.

197

Layman 09.30.16 at 1:20 pm

“There is a reasonable argument in favor of the proposition…”

If there is, it isn’t the one you presented, which is, in effect, that she cast a vote, for non-criminal reasons she claims, but which you don’t believe.

“Do you really want to go on with this?”

Sure, why not? If you have better things to do, go do them.

198

Anarcissie 09.30.16 at 2:04 pm

Layman 09.30.16 at 1:20 pm @ 197 —
If the war was a criminal act, then voting for the war, by making the voter an accomplice, was also a criminal act. Believable ignorance, incompetence, or other personal defects might mitigate, but would not exonerate.

I asked about ‘going on with this’ because at least one participant seemed to feel that the cataloguing of Clinton’s flaws had become superfluous. Some people might regard war criminality as a flaw, so perhaps we are offending as we persist.

199

Rich Puchalsky 09.30.16 at 2:08 pm

Look, here’s some homework for the people who find the whole thing to be a mysterious mystery. Please do this before you ask more questions about the views of people who think otherwise.

1. If you think that the election is close (I don’t), then why is it close? Specifically, why is it that Trump, who appears to in every way be a terrifically bad candidate, can be doing as well as he is?

The answers generally break down into the categories of: a) Trump is really a good candidate, b) HRC is a bad candidate, c) the electorate is a bad electorate for not supporting HRC, d) structural factors. Please decide which, in general, you think it is, or make your own category.

2. Answers to 2) will depend on answers to 1), but does long term thinking have any place in the short term election? Specifically, let’s say that we all agree that white supremacy is bad. Which factors that are currently supposed to be making the election close will go away after the election?

200

bruce wilder 09.30.16 at 2:22 pm

Faustusnotes: Did Bruce Wilder do the hand waved “don’t worry, technology will solve it after the revolution” move on global warming?

No.

201

TM 09.30.16 at 2:35 pm

Rich: In 188 you called a comment “condescending” merely because you disagree with its content, because disagreeing with you means questioning your righteousness which is condescending. In 199 you propose “some homework” to those who disagree with you, because those who don’t share your opinion can’t have reasons for having different views, the only explanation is that they are uninformed and lack your superior insight.

195: That you think posting easily verified factual falsehoods a worthwhile use of your time speaks for itself. You do in most of your recent comments convey the vivid image of someone with froth at his mouth.

202

Will G-R 09.30.16 at 2:45 pm

Lee, call me crazy but I find the idea incredibly disturbing that Nazi Germany was something other than natural development of the tensions and contradictions of Weimar Germany. If anything this way of whitewashing perceived national decline by attributing it to some hostile outside force is more than a little similar to the Nazis’ own ideological fairy tale, except instead of Jews as the foreign intruder disturbing a cultural/political/economic national system that would otherwise be totally fine and harmonious in perpetuity, it’s the Nazis themselves. And ditto for Trump: when establishment types trip over themselves to denounce Trump as alien to the normal functioning of US politics, casting him and his constituency’s bigotry as something other than a logical product of the spiraling inequality they’ve been nurturing in the US economy for decades and the racist nationalist crap they’ve been nurturing in the US political psyche for decades if not centuries, this is exactly what allows them to simultaneously trip over themselves to celebrate the glorious decorum and civility of, say, the Michelle/Dubya hug. (Which, in a breathtaking gymnastics display, somehow doesn’t preclude many of these same people continuing to denounce Ralph Nader for allegedly giving us Dubya in the first place!) We’re in the baptism scene from The Godfather, where it’s no accident that Michael renouncing Satan and all his works and all his pomps is the dialogue cue for the murders.

203

Layman 09.30.16 at 2:54 pm

Anarcissie: “If the war was a criminal act, then voting for the war, by making the voter an accomplice, was also a criminal act.”

Look, I personally believe it was wrong to vote for the authorization, and that it was a political calculation, but I wonder if you’ve actually read the resolution? It is consistent with the claim that some people make, that they assumed that Bush would act in concert with the UN, because the resolution says he would act in concert with themUN. The resolution was passed in October, the Bush admin went to the UN in November, but failed to get a clear authorization from the UN for the war.

You brought up Nuremberg. How many people were prosecuted at Nuremberg for the crime of having voted for the Enabling Law of 1933, which granted dictatorial powers and led directly to everything that followed. None, right? Doesn’t that undermine your case?

204

Yan 09.30.16 at 3:43 pm

“they assumed that Bush would act in concert with the UN, because the resolution says he would act in concert with themUN.”

Wait, so the defense is that Clinton was a naive moron? I don’t believe it.

205

Rich Puchalsky 09.30.16 at 3:43 pm

Will G-R: “Also, you should read the recent Emmett Rensin piece in Newsweek if you haven’t already.”

It’s pretty good. The basic problem seems to be the difficulty inherent in dissolving the people and electing another, as Brecht wrote.

This isn’t some kind of hard to understand sectarian Marxist analysis — anyone can read Duncan Black, who wrote the same thing. Young people in the U.S. are in fact voting for HRC at a higher percentage than the percentage of those in any other age group. But this never causes older people to question what’s wrong with their generation. No, it’s the young people’s fault for not having even greater turnout for HRC: they must work harder. And their real disagreements with HRC’s policy have to be dismissed as not morally serious and misguided.

206

LFC 09.30.16 at 3:44 pm

@Will G-R

I am skeptical of the view that development X (be it the rise of the Nazis or any other event) is the “natural,” “logical” outcome of a particular situation Y. This sort of view downplays or eliminates contingency and the possibility that Y could have produced, with a few (not necessarily major) changes in decisions or behavior, not X but something else.

The notion that what happened “had to happen” is too deterministic for my taste. This is certainly not to absolve “the establishment” of all blame for Trump, but I think you’re painting an overly deterministic (or teleological) picture.

I’m open to making some exceptions: for example, there’s a reasonable argument that after the election of 1860 (or perhaps earlier) a civil war in the U.S. was in some sense inevitable or ‘the logical outcome’, and there is a historiographical tradition that does just that. But even there it’s not an open-and-shut case.

207

Layman 09.30.16 at 3:57 pm

Yan: “Wait, so the defense is that Clinton was a naive moron? I don’t believe it.”

Yes, we’ve covered that ground already.

208

Will G-R 09.30.16 at 4:01 pm

Also, holy Jesus there’s some pretty furious self-congratulatory circlejerking going on among the liberals here over pablum like merian’s 170 or faustusnotes’ 183. What actual argument is merian putting forward to support the premise that “non-discrimination”, “opposition to white supremacy”, and “recognition of shared humanity” are somehow inseparable from “respect of the institutions” and “recognition for honest if in many ways misguided service or expertise”? Garbage in, garbage out. What actual argument is faustusnotes putting forward to support the premise that criticism of the Clinton Foundation’s influence-peddling is “junk peddled by the right” and “bullshit”, or that “taking [a candidate’s] policy statements seriously” means treating them as reflecting the candidate’s deepest heart-of-heart convictions as opposed to their immediate political interests? Garbage in, garbage out.

If I was more of an idealist, I’d attribute left-liberal social democracy’s ever-accelerating slide toward irrelevance in the real world to its proponents’ ever more strident refusal to seriously engage with leftist critiques in the realm of ideas. But alas, my unquestionable dogmatic faith in diamat doctrine demands that the attribution should go the other way around.

209

Anarcissie 09.30.16 at 4:01 pm

Layman 09.30.16 at 2:54 pm @ 203 —
I brought up the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials because I believe the charter of the trials gives a reasonable definition of one kind of war crime. (If you disagree, you are of course welcome to suggest another, or propose that there is no such thing, etc.) Exactly who the Nuremberg tribunals chose to prosecute and who to pass over is not relevant. If the war against Iraq in 2003 was a crime, then assisting Bush and company in bringing it about, especially from a position of prestige and power as a US senator, was also a crime.

210

Yan 09.30.16 at 4:05 pm

“Yes, we’ve covered that ground already.”

So what’s the point in @203? It’s not a criminal act to support a resolution you know is a bullshit pretext for criminal action?

211

Layman 09.30.16 at 4:12 pm

“If the war against Iraq in 2003 was a crime, then assisting Bush and company in bringing it about, especially from a position of prestige and power as a US senator, was also a crime.”

Similarly, if the actions of the German dictator were crimes, assisting him by voting to give him dictatorial powers was also a crime, and every single person who did that is a war criminal. Yet no one was tried for that crime, so perhaps there’s something wrong with the way you’re trying to use the law? Perhaps the difficulty has something to do with the idea that to be culpable for a crime, you have to have reasonably believed a crime would result, which then brings up the difficulty of proving what someone believed at the time they acted. So by all means fault her for the vote – I do, I do! – but calling her a war criminal, on the basis of the vote, is just hyperbole.

212

merian 09.30.16 at 4:12 pm

Rich Puchalski @188: We’re in a thread where every third comment drips of condescension and you call me condescending (“without intending to be” whatever that’s supposed to mean) while quoting a paragraph in which I poke fun at myself. That’s a little strong, isn’t it?

And then you seem to imply that the “advocates for unqualified support” can’t have a politically coherent position (huh? no?) while those (all of those? really? look around…) who criticize HRC have such a position — something I recognized. The bit about (A) and pitchforks.

I’m also not an advocate of lesser-evilism at least not as it’s usually understood.

Look, my comment wasn’t to get anyone to stop criticizing HRC. Go ahead, criticize – it’s not going to harm her what you write on the internetz. (Or help her when I put a comment on CT. I’m not self-delusional.) What it does, what the whole situation does is that it makes CT go to hell in a handbasket. I said it right in my first paragraph that that’s what I’m interested in.

213

Rich Puchalsky 09.30.16 at 4:12 pm

Will G-R: “What actual argument is faustusnotes putting forward to support the premise that criticism of the Clinton Foundation’s influence-peddling is “junk peddled by the right” and “bullshit””

I’ll just do my boilerplate recommendation at this point: people who want a more in-depth description of this might read Thomas Frank’s _Listen, Liberal_. I basically don’t agree with his analysis, such as it is (blog post here), but it describes these problems and the author is thought within the U.S. to be “on the left”.

214

Layman 09.30.16 at 4:17 pm

Yan: “So what’s the point in @203?”

That you can’t offer any evidence of intent, and your incredulity isn’t evidence. You want to make a vote for the resolution a crime which can be prosecuted, despite the fact that the resolution doesn’t actually require any crime to be committed at all, because you believe the voter understood the secret meaning of the resolution. Good luck with that.

215

Will G-R 09.30.16 at 4:18 pm

LFC, if we have to rehash all the standard men-make-their-own-history-but-they-do-not-make-it-as-they-please stuff we can do it, but it would be a bit (ahem) farcical for me to try to reinvent the wheel instead of starting from the source.

216

Layman 09.30.16 at 4:21 pm

Will G-R: ‘What actual argument is faustusnotes putting forward to support the premise that criticism of the Clinton Foundation’s influence-peddling is “junk peddled by the right” and “bullshit”…’

Well, since there’s no evidence that influence was actually peddled – no pay-resulting-in-play at all! – and since the idea that there was is being pushed, absent that evidence, by the right-wing fever swamps, how much argument is needed to connect the dots?

217

Rich Puchalsky 09.30.16 at 4:23 pm

merian: “And then you seem to imply that the “advocates for unqualified support” can’t have a politically coherent position”

No, that’s not what I meant. Writing that “people who criticize HRC in this way often have a coherent political point of view that existed before, during, and will exist after this election” does not imply that people do not criticize HRC in the way can’t have a politically coherent position.

As for the rest, you wrote:
“So when I see someone I share (A) with, in the last days of September of 2016, with the situation being what it is, analyzing Clinton and Trump through a lens that makes what they stand for more comparable, that highlights the ways in which Clinton, undoubtedly a heir of the very soft neoliberal camp, offends those who are beholden to (A), then I must assume that the people who do this are less than I am beholden to (B).

Because to me, to borrow the words of Emily Bazelon on a podcast a while ago, Clinton at this moment is fighting the fight of her life to save us from the madman. And (back to my own words) even though I may share every harsh thing that Corey Robin say about her (not quite, but it’s close), but for fighting this figh, she has, until November 8 my limitless admiration and support. Because I am beholden to that (B) stuff too.”

So you were making fun of yourself when you wrote that people who support A in this way must be less beholden to B? And that support of HRC is implied by being beholden to that (B) stuff too? If you intended to make fun of that conclusion, then that’s fine.

Because let’s remember that (B) includes “non-discrimination and opposition to white supremacy; even wibbly-wobbly stuff like recognition of shared humanity and recognition for honest, if in many ways misguided, service, or expertise; respectful disagreement; opponents that advance my thinking.” I would call someone who doubts the commitment to these of someone who holds to A, or someone who thinks that holding to B morally requires support of HRC, a dipshit. So if you agree with that than we agree.

218

Suzanne 09.30.16 at 4:25 pm

@160: This is wandering even further off topic, for which I apologize to all since I brought the matter up, but here is what Steinem said prior to the part of the transcript that you quoted:

MAHER: That’s great. So…there are people, among them, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who have said that the younger generation of women are very complacent about Roe v. Wade, that they weren’t around before. And, they don’t have an appreciation. Do you think that’s right?

STEINEM: You know, I don’t think so. I mean, I find the young women very, very activist and they’re way, way more feminist, you know, than we – I mean, we were like 12 crazy ladies in the beginning. You know, now, it’s the majority.

But, I – I do think that gratitude never radicalized anybody.

MAHER: Right.

STEINEM: You know, I mean, I did not say, “Thank you for the vote.” I got mad on the basis of what was happening to me. And I think that that’s true of young women, too. So, they’re mad as hell because they’re graduating in debt, and they’re going to earn a million dollars less over their lifetime to pay it back. You know, they’re mad about what’s happening to them.

Steinem’s other point – about women becoming radicalized as they get older as they realize the extent to which the deck is stacked against them — is perfectly valid.

For all of the foregoing she was called some really, really nasty things, the kind of epithets that only get aimed at aging women, not a demographic traditionally valued much in this culture. That’s what I was talking about.

219

faustusnotes 09.30.16 at 5:15 pm

Still peddling right wing junk about the clinton foundation, Will?

There’s no point in going over this ground again and again. Will and Bruce Wilder don’t understand global warming, can’t conceive of the scale of the problem. Rich is just running around beating his chest talking about how no one is as left wing as him (he’s an anarchist, don’t you know!) Anarcissie thinks that Clinton is a war criminal, for random internet-based definitions of war and criminal. All of them just think we should all quit all political activity and wait for the revolution, though should anyone say they should just pipe down a bit for a month, they’ll get up in arms about how the liberals are telling them to shut up again. Not to mention that none of them seem to have a clue that “liberal” is being used in a meaningless way for us non-americans (hey Rich, why would I read a book called “listen liberal” or whatever, when I’m not a “liberal” because that word is a stupid useless content-free word that applies to a tiny slice of your country and no one else’s?)

Meanwhile, as we all are expected to shut up and let the revolution come, none of these anarchists and “Marxians” (not Marxists! oh no! Dirty word there, people might notice its tattered history) have a clue about how they’re going to get to their much vaunted revolution, and how they’re going to fix the climate when we do. But in the meantime we “liberals” are the naive ones for thinking we might actually be able to do something to make the problem better while we wait for that imminent revolution.

Also, still humourless. Gee, CT has been a real blast this past month …

220

Rich Puchalsky 09.30.16 at 5:27 pm

Why would faustusnotes want to read a book about American liberalism just because that’s what we’re discussing? After all, he’s not a liberal. He’s never seen any evidence of claims about the Clinton Foundation that aren’t right-wing garbage because, after all, he doesn’t read books directed to liberals or about liberals.

Look, it’s not really a judgement about individuals when I write that faustusnotes’ rhetoric is stupid, and that people who approve of it are themselves stupid. It’s not “har har you’re voting for Jill Stein so you must not like old women nagging you” and then if you don’t laugh you’re humorless. Jill Sein is actually, definitionally, an old woman, or at least if HRC is then Jill Stein is also. (Jill Stein is three years younger than HRC, so maybe that makes a world of difference.) It’s just ignorance of the American scene coupled with malice.

221

Lee A. Arnold 09.30.16 at 5:37 pm

Will G-R #202: “call me crazy but I find the idea incredibly disturbing that Nazi Germany was something other than natural development of the tensions and contradictions of Weimar Germany.”

What’s disturbing is that you appear to think that the next fascism, & its next leader, must fall into the same exact mold. It is NOT “alien to the normal functioning of politics”, as you write. It is always there, hidden. About 15-20% of a country’s population seems always ready for it, and if conditions get bad enough, they can always find a new way.

222

Will G-R 09.30.16 at 5:49 pm

Layman, just as Lee’s rejection of any logical Weimar-Nazi continuity struck me as a bizarre premise on its face, it also strikes me as bizarre to assume that between two possibilities — either donors to the Clinton Foundation expected to receive something in return, albeit potentially a thing as intangible and indirect as “influence” or “access”, or they did not — our baseline assumption should be the latter. In any case, The Intercept has been an excellent source on cases of likely influence-peddling, and Nathan Robinson also recently wrote up a good summary of some of the abiding issues with what the Foundation represents.

Faustusnotes is welcome to own such anti-intellectual positions as that any criticism along those lines is categorically “right-wing junk”, that Keynesian social democracy is exempt from the term “liberalism”, and that rejecting hackneyed reactionary “triggered” jokes at the expense of PTSD sufferers makes one humorless. And y’all other liberals are welcome to keep treating that kind of tripe as profound “thread-winning” insight, if that’s what you’re into. But in that case go back to Facebook links or DailyKos or Democratic Underground or wherever else it is you people spawn your hivemind, and leave what’s supposed to be a space for serious discussion to those who are interested in having it.

223

Will G-R 09.30.16 at 6:27 pm

Lee, there seems to be a misunderstanding, this is exactly the point I was making: that centrist liberal establishment types are interpreting fascism in general and Trump’s facsimile of it in particular as alien to the normal functioning of capitalist politics, when in fact it’s deeply intertwined in the history of liberalism, and even today is essential to the modern two-party archetype of liberals-vaguely-pretending-to-be-socialists versus liberals-vaguely-pretending-to-be-fascists. You’re also right about the ever-latent potential for outright fascism in liberal political space, but what leftists try to do is answer the question of why this is the case and try to create a political space where it wouldn’t be (see the Sakai and Cope books I recommended in an earlier thread) as opposed to treating it as an immutable fact of nature. And you’re also right that it would be silly to believe that history must always repeat itself in precise detail (part of Marx’s basic point in the 18th Brumaire, after all) which doesn’t however change the silliness of believing that Donald John Trump himself is remotely interested in dissolving liberal civil society and constructing a one-party dictatorship.

224

Trader Joe 09.30.16 at 6:29 pm

Trump popularity parable

Guy goes into a casino, sits down at the roulette table and puts a few chips on black. Last time he was there he mostly bet on red and didn’t do too good, went home broke in fact, so it was time for change.

He sat there and sat there, spin after spin, bet on black, bet on black, bet on black. Time after time, the house swept the chips. It was an amazing run for the house, it must be nice to be the house, but it can’t keep up. Bet on black, bet on black, bet on black some more. Cleaned, cleaned, cleaned.

After 8 years of this, the guy notices a new casino open up across the street. He figure what the hell, can’t be any worse. Heads across the street with the remainder of his belongings, sits down at the wheel and bets on red.

Lesson: Its not the casino, its not the wheel, its not the color bet upon, its just folks looking for a chance to win when the odds always favor the house. Trying to explain it by reference to other factors fails to understand why the player plays.

225

merian 09.30.16 at 6:30 pm

Rich Puchalsky @217 [briefly, b/c I’m off to a meeting in 5 min]:

If you didn’t mean to imply that why bring out the contrast at all? Maybe being condescending without meaning to is something you should turn the light onto yourself about. In any event, while I don’t see much evidence in this thread that the criticism of HRC comes (mostly or completely) from people with a coherent left-wing position that’s free from personal animus and bias, I pretty much started from mentioning that I myself subscribe to such a position myself.

No, I was poking fun at myself by using words like “wibbly-wobbly” to describe some of the ill-assorted bits that go into that basket B (and no, Will G-M, by no means inseparable from each other). For a committed lefty, it would to me be absolutely unsurprising to privilege (A) over (B). You may call anyone who suggests this will happen a dipshit (I think you mean me….), but it’s been happening all the time before. In the 68’s movement, they thought they could fix sexism later, and sent the female activists out for sandwiches and coffee. Supporting (B) isn’t sexy. (B) includes stuff that keeps the status-quo what it is. It’s the un-radical part.

When I say that my investigation into my own motives revealed that the reason why my emotional engagement right now is on the side of supporting HRC is my equal commitment to (B), I acknowledge that it implies a question, if not a judgement along the lines you are reading out of it — “What does it imply if someone committed to (B) advocates against HRC at this particular point in time?” I suggested one way of looking at it. There are sure to be others. Just to call me offensive is a little weak.

Now of course your own way out of the bind seems to be that you don’t actually think that the election is close. Fair enough, but you also don’t seem to acknowledge how your attitudes would look like if the election was actually close. The closeness or not is something reasonable people can disagree about.

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Rich Puchalsky 09.30.16 at 6:53 pm

merian: “In the 68’s movement, they thought they could fix sexism later, and sent the female activists out for sandwiches and coffee. “

It’s not 1968, obviously. You’re communicating with people living now, and you’re suggesting that people on the left living now are not really committed to “non-discrimination and opposition to white supremacy”. And it would be absolutely unsurprising to you that people on the left privilege (A) over that. OK, so you apparently don’t know that you’ve insulted people, and you’re wondering why people take it as an insult.

But look at your assumptions: if you value the basket of values called B, you must vote HRC. Why? Because if you don’t vote HRC, you must not value the basket of values called B. Only HRC can protest us from Trump in the short term. OK. Now I really think that you should do the homework I mentioned up at #199 — and yes, when I called it homework I was being condescending, and I knew I was being condescending. What if the four-yearly support for people like HRC is not decreasing white supremacy, but increasing it? Why is Trump supposedly close to winning? Could it be that clueless people who every four years say that they must vote for HRC or some other neoliberal are actually causing what they think they are working against?

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Layman 09.30.16 at 7:37 pm

Will G-R: “In any case, The Intercept has been an excellent source on cases of likely influence-peddling…”

Indeed, the Intercept is an excellent example of the species, as it presents in its summary no evidence of actual influence peddling at all, links to no sources who actually allege influence peddling or offer evidence of it, and ignores that those linked sources in every case state clearly that they found no such evidence.

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bruce wilder 09.30.16 at 7:52 pm

RP @ 199

1.) I do not think the election is “close” — I think the pseudo-probabilities assigned by 538 to give Clinton ~60% chance of winning are not representative of Clinton’s chances, but are statistically representative of the state of partisan politics and related divisions in the country. If 538 is on to something, it may be that the ability of elite manipulations to get an electoral result is eroding, but I think not fast enough for Trump given his negatives.

I guess my views are in the structural factors category. The vast majority of people do not pay much attention to politics and do not understand much when they do. So, most people will vote the Party label supplemented by vague, emotion-laden impulses, and this includes most people who do pay some attention and have committed to a political identity. The most persuadable voters can be the least knowledgeable and the least committed. This makes the mass electorate eminently manageable and politics an exclusively elite province. The rise of the plutocracy and the decline of social affiliation has exacerbated the tendency of politics to become exclusively responsive to the prejudices and interests of the (financialized) rich and the new class of creatives and professionals and managers that serve the globalizing plutocracy.

The numerical majority are neglected by politics, and actual victims of its economics. We are in this moment in a period of economic stability, but still it is unsatisfactory. It is not a recession, when fear is acute, but people are unhappy about declining wages, etc. The sense of rapid technological change and an ominous future fills the popular imagination. Most people are unhappy with elites and elite performance, in one respect or another, bubbling up into their consciousness in ways that may or may not make contact with what they think of as politics. It might be a sense that something is wrong, if elites cannot manage the “war on terror” or it might be a rising cable bill or poor cell phone service. It might be a shabby airport or a bank being fined or police shooting someone unnecessarily.

For a long time, the two Parties represented the masses differently. The Democrats gathered the cultural outsiders and the economic underclass, while the Republicans took on the mainstream WASP core and the middle class establishment as well as big business. But, things have been changing and I do not think either Party represents any mass constituency. There are vestiges, in the Republican ability to marshal evangelicals or the Democrats to turn out blacks, but that is a statement about the capacity to manipulate, not about representing interests.

We have two intensely unpopular candidates, neither of whom is credible as an advocate for the common interest or elite competence and integrity. A lot of people will vote against one or the other. A few will vote against both. And, a great many — maybe more than any of the above — will not vote at all.

The glue of trust and legitimacy that held party leaders to their popular constituencies and made elections so eminently predictable is failing. Not so fast that I think Clinton will fail of election, though I keep my eye on the observations of a few who think otherwise.

In the meantime, campaigns have to campaign and so the tools of manipulation and propaganda are trotted out and hot buttons are pressed and pressed hard.

In a healthy democratic politics, politicians pursuing office bring about rotation in office. The loyal opposition criticise and develop alternatives to the current line of policy. When a line of policy fails, the opposition are all over it, leveraging that failure as an opportunity to gain office by championing some alternative. That pendulum swings freely.

That has not been happening. The pendulum has not swung. The Parties have settled into a partisan stalemate and rotation in key offices of state has been arrested and failed policy has been continued and extended without alteration.

Careful observers have wondered why the neoliberalism that produced the GFC was not discredited. Why the neocons that promoted the Iraq War are still dominating the fp discussion. Why so many leaders of the surveillance state have continued in office from Bush thru Obama. Ditto for the Fed. Ditto for the Media punditry, for that matter.

I think elite politics does not depend on the voters. Politicians compete to deliver voters to the donor class in a sense, but policy performance in relation to common interests does not matter. This is partly about how plutocratic interests have been melded with the interests of the executive class and the managerial class by financialization, so there are no elite divisions that might lead an elite faction to seek mass support against another elite faction. It is also about the decline of social affiliation in the society at large. No one belongs to an organisation, so there are very few mass platforms that could support any challenge from below, even from the middle-class. No strong unions, churches, etc.

The dynamics of Clinton’s campaign have been remarkable. Clearly, Trump has been a welcome gift and she has been running hard on not being Trump. If the Clinton Foundation is rotten, never mind the Trump Foundation is a bigger scam. If Bill skimmed millions from a for-profit school, never mind Trump U is a bigger scam. If Clinton is a war monger, never mind Trump is crazy in his bellicose bluster. If Clinton is a servant to the plutocracy, never mind, Trump is a billionaire and a cheat. It goes on and on, this lesser evil calculus absolves Clinton of a multitude of sins.

Trump, for his part, has to be one of the most cringe-worthy candidates ever. He will apparently say anything to get audience response. And, sometimes he says something –seemingly random — that reminds people of what adaptive change might look like. Like maybe we should not be nurturing WWIII in Ukraine. ISIS is a product of failed U.S. policy. When he says the system is fixed and corrupt, he should know. The Democrats are so busy crying, “racism” they do not have to deal with the elite competence and integrity issues buried in anger about immigration and terrorism and trade policy. The challenge to the integrity of elections cannot be met as both Parties have been promoting concerns in an increasingly cynical fashion since 2000.

It is mildly interesting to see what other people, people who have enlisted their psyches in the election, do with the major issues, which are not being discussed as we focus on just how terrifying is Trump. I do not know why anyone would use CT to campaign, so I presume what is written here is meant to be reflective thinking.

The absence of mechanism and agency bugs me. I do not see the case for the Iraq War vote making Clinton a war criminal, but I see how hyperbole substitutes for shouting at the deaf. GWB made the worst fp blunder imaginable: morally wrong, incompetently managed, unimaginably costly in blood, honor and treasure. And, yet the political system cannot reject it. Neither Obama nor Clinton turns away in any but the most nominal terms. Clinton promises an “intelligence surge”! Because Bush’s surge in Iraq was so successful and Obama’s surge in Afganistan confirmed its wisdom?

I feel much the same applies to economics. Inequality has no authors. I harp on Obama’s failure to prosecute banksters because of my irrational hatred for Obama, apparently.

To me, Clinton seems to be insistent on persisting in failing policy, in economics and in foreign policy. That the “better” pilot seems determined to crash the plane is not an argument for substituting a pilot that does not know how to fly. Noticing is an argument for detaching from anything that involves pretending that the “better” pilot is trustworthy.

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Rich Puchalsky 09.30.16 at 8:14 pm

BW: “Most people are unhappy with elites and elite performance, in one respect or another, bubbling up into their consciousness in ways that may or may not make contact with what they think of as politics.”

Most people have some sense that bad economics leads to a weak state, which can lead to fascism. But the racism that appears as part of this process is apparently supposed to just appear because people are racists. People absolutely refuse to understand that running the economy for elites leads to racism, because racism is supposed to be a personal moral failing or at best a subcultural trait, and not a (bad) response to anything.

I’ll address the rest of this comment later. But a lot of the irrational hatred, “personal animus and bias” stuff is the same old thing: if someone thinks that the best response is to vote for HRC, they are being rational and moral, while if someone thinks that the best response is not to vote for HRC, they are suffering from personal animus and bias. It’s completely disconnected from any kind of long-term political critique that takes in U.S. Democratic politics since the 1970s if not earlier.

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Will G-R 09.30.16 at 8:23 pm

Layman, if corruption was universally accompanied by neon flashing letters reading “CORRUPTION”, surely we’d all be better off. As it is, except in cases where corrupt individuals are stupid enough to inadvertently incriminate themselves and/or duplicitous enough to deliberately incriminate each other, we’re forced to settle for the less-than-indictment-worthy idea that the potential conflicts of interest between large donations to a politician and favorable political decisions for the donor are by definition less than kosher. I find it impossible to believe that you and other liberals insisting on this deliberate obtuseness toward what we know about the Clintons’ behavior would be doing so for politicians you didn’t already consider yourselves categorically obliged to defend.

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Layman 09.30.16 at 8:26 pm

“But the racism that appears as part of this process is apparently supposed to just appear because people are racists.”

It could be that some people believe the racists have always been there, being racists, because of some bizarre ideas they have about the world. Or it could be that they believe the racists have always been there, being racists, because of their actual experience of the matter. If you’ve managed to live a life which doesn’t cause you to believe a lot of people are racists, you’re damned lucky. But if you want to keep your illusions, probably you should stay out of Alabama (…and Mississippi, and Lousiana, and Texas, and Oklahoma,…).

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Layman 09.30.16 at 8:33 pm

Will G-R: ‘Layman, if corruption was universally accompanied by neon flashing letters reading “CORRUPTION”, surely we’d all be better off.’

Start with the Boeing example, and describe for me the corruption. I doubt you’ll even try, because it becomes absurd as soon as you ask yourself why a Secretary of State might lobby a foreign government to buy products made in America by an American company, and the obvious answer occurs to you.

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efcdons 09.30.16 at 8:56 pm

Layman @231

I’m voting for Clinton. I’m going to be poll watching as a member of Victory Counsel for Clinton.

In regards to all of the “scandals” that have found nothing concrete to show Clinton is “corrupt”. The issue isn’t just the actions Clinton took or didn’t take due to payments or gifts (which again, it seems like she never actually did anything untoward), it’s the “appearance of corruption” and the effect it has on our democracy.

The dissent in Citizens United was clear the appearance of corruption is an important concern, compelling enough to allow the government to regulate a fundamental right (free speech). And the appearance of corruption the dissenting justices were concerned about was (supposedly) independent expenditures on behalf of a candidate. This isn’t a new doctrine. Buckley v. Valeo also held preventing the appearance of corruption to be a compelling government interest.

If spending money on behalf of a candidate, i.e. not actually giving them any money, can create an appearance of corruption, shouldn’t directly giving a candidate money also have the potential to create an appearance of corruption?

So concerns about the pay Clinton received for her speeches, for example, seem to be perfectly legitimate under that framework. The secrecy only magnifies the appearance of corruption.

There is obviously a difference between payments for services rendered and paying for commercials on someone’s behalf and contributing to a charity.

But conceptually the idea of how do a politician’s actions impact our belief in the fairness of our democratic system is common to all of these scenarios.

If any place was a “safe space” to hash out these issues it should be here at CT.

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JimV 09.30.16 at 9:04 pm

The only thing in Bruce Wilder’s comments I disagree with is the sense I get from them that HRC is irremediably evil and cannot possibly learn from her mistakes. I don’t quite get that impression, as I did from Nixon and do from Trump. I may be wrong but I still have hope.

I am planning to quote BW in my reply to her letters asking for my support. I hope that’s okay since they come from a semi-public source. The message will be that she can convert me from a lackluster to an enthusiastic support by either agreeing with BW and vowing to change (re interventionism), or somehow convincing me of the wisdom of her foreign policy on Syria with new information.

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Rich Puchalsky 09.30.16 at 9:24 pm

JimV: “the sense I get from them that HRC is irremediably evil”

The incessant personalization of everything really becomes tiring. If you think that neoliberalism exists as a tendency and that HRC is committed to it as a political framework, that’s supposed to mean that she’s “irremediably evil”?

You see the same thing for every issue now. Why do terrorists exist? Because they are evil is the stock answer. If you think that they are reacting (badly) to historical events, then you must not think that they are evil, which means that you are evil. If you do describe their activities as being horrific, which they are, then you must be claiming that they *are* irremediably evil, which naturally means that we have to kill them and their families too. So whatever position you take on terrorism pretty much comes down to you are either an apologist for terrorists or you are a right-thinking killer of terrorists.

Similarly, if you think that terrorists are reliably produced by certain kinds of events, that must mean that you think that terrorists never existed before these events occurred. There can never be more of it or less of it, it’s a universal, and asking why we’re seeing more of it can not have any connection to recent events because it existed before.

It’s tiresome.

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Layman 09.30.16 at 9:31 pm

efcdons @ 232

I generally agree with your post and have said before that she either has terrible judgment about appearances or she just doesn’t give a damn about them – my guess is the latter. She is not a good candidate in the sense that she doesn’t handle the appearances issue well, isn’t a great campaigner or speaker, is prone to entirely unnecessary and damaging gaffes, and so on. I don’t like her as a candidate and I’m not thrilled about her political positions either. I think it is unseemly to collect large paychecks for no work from evil banks while contemplating a run for the Presidency, and it is political malpractice to do so without ever coming up with a way to explain it when the question is inevitably asked.

Having said that, there is at the same time no credible case to be made that money paid to the Clinton Foundation resulted in benefits gained illicitly from the government, or that any money paid to the foundation ended up personally benefiting the Clintons. Every story that alleges some kind of impropriety ends up actually reporting that they found none. The Boeing example linked to by Will G-R is typical.

Here is the scandal: 1) As Secretary of State, Hillary lobbied a foreign government to buy their planes from Boeing. 2) Later, Boeing contributed $2 million in funding to the US government for the US pavilion at the World’s Fair. 3) Boeing also gave money to the Clinton Foundation to be used (as I recall) for Haiti relief.

Looking at these:

1) The lobbying is the implied quo in the quid pro quo. Yet lobbying foreign governments to buy American products is part of the job description, and no reasonable person would say that Clinton would not have done that lobbying absent some secret agreement for the moneys.

2) The money for the government is presented as the quid, with the absurd contention that Clinton gained political prestige of some kind by securing the donation. Yet Boeing wasn’t even the biggest contributor, and no one can articulate a theory of what she actually gained.

3) The money for Haiti is similarly presented as the quid, but suffers the same problem. How does Hillary Clinton gain by a secret deal to do what she would do anyway, in return for money she doesn’t get anyway? It’s absurd.

Finally, the source of this riveting story of corruption themselves report that they found no evidence of any connection of any kind between the payments by Boeing and the lobbying by Clinton, and that it is perfectly normal for a Secretary of State to help US companies sell their products abroad.

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Will G-R 09.30.16 at 9:44 pm

Layman: “describe for me the corruption”

A political official makes a policy decision that results in a large amount of profit for a company. A short time later, the company contributes a large amount of cash to a private foundation directed by the political official. Now I’ve described for you the corruption. Would you like me to describe for you the corruption some more? I can describe for you the corruption all night long!

Seriously, you’re not arguing that Clinton isn’t corrupt, you’re arguing that Clinton is corrupt and corruption is the normal state of affairs for a public official at Clinton’s level. To which my response is, that’s correct! (You also neglected to mention the State Department setting aside ethics guidelines that would have otherwise forbidden Boeing’s World’s Fair donation, but that’s not even important — just because corruption is within the law, within the rules, or even within the totally malleable “ethics guidelines” doesn’t make it something other than corruption.)

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LFC 09.30.16 at 10:54 pm

Will G-R @215
Actually I think it’s best to have this discussion in another context, rather than this thread. I think there are enough nightmares weighing on the brains of the living here as it is.

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Anarcissie 10.01.16 at 1:28 am

bruce wilder 09.30.16 at 7:52 pm @ 227:
‘I do not see the case for the Iraq War vote making Clinton a war criminal, but I see how hyperbole substitutes for shouting at the deaf.’

Well, if you change the meaning of war criminal or accomplice, but otherwise it’s not hyperbole. Does it matter? I think it’s been pointed out, possibly by you in fact, that there is practically no one operating at a high policy level in the US government (and many others) who is not a war criminal in the same sense, or at least who is not ready to become one should it prove advantageous to themselves, their connection, or their class. If Clinton and Trump were abducted by the Uranian ant men tonight, we would just get another pair operating on the same principles, although we might hope they could be somewhat more decorous about it. We basically have a whole class of people, at the top of the social order, who seem devoid of a moral sense — a problem which the upcoming election isn’t going to touch, much less solve. I don’t blame Clinton for this — she is just following orders.

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js. 10.01.16 at 1:39 am

This is a good article. Very good, in fact. The kind of thing a sane left might care about. In other words, the kind of thing the majority of CT commenters won’t give a fuck about. (And no, I’m not actually reading your comments, so don’t bother to reply.)

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Val 10.01.16 at 2:03 am

Layman @ 350

Just to add to your response about racism*, I’d add that your country (like mine) was formally and officially racist until quite recent times, historically. So there is of course a large legacy of racism that political candidates can draw on, even if it’s covert (which a lot of it isn’t anyway, as you point out).

The dispute seems to be:
Does economic anxiety make it worse, in which case both Democratic and Republicans are to blame because both have supported policies that increased inequality? Or
Is the racism that Trump draws on related to the anxiety of white people, particularly men, about losing their privileged position in society?

It doesn’t have to be all one or the other (and neither has to be the whole answer) but the evidence about who supports Trump seems to suggest it’s more the latter, doesn’t it?

*(I think there is something that merits a response in the original comment from Rich Puchalsky, but I won’t respond directly to him – or Bruce wilder – any more because I know I will get personally abused by them if I do, or ‘ignored’ in a way that is, as bruce wilder has already stated, ‘I’m ignoring you because you’re so stupid and inferior and everyone else hates you too’, while of course stating that they are supporters of feminism, as long as it’s the right kind of feminism, of which they are better judges than me.)

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Faustusnotes 10.01.16 at 2:03 am

Rich, for about the 88th time, us policy matters to people overseas, and we comment on your stupid ignorant politics because the fate of the world hangs on it. That means we look at this bullshit you spout – about how the Clinton foundation is corrupt or she doesn’t want to win the senate – with incredulity and disbelief, and no from the outside we don’t need to care about debates about whether we’re liberal or not because this isn’t a nuanced electoral situation where we need to be convinced about which side of your corrupt and ruined system is better for the planet. It’s an electoral situation where one party rep is an unhinged lunatic who thinks climate change is a Chinese hoax, and who spouts lies every time he opens his mouth. Lies that supposedly intelligent leftists here believe, withiut evidence. Lies that supposedly intelligent people here repeat over and over, never providing evidence of any kind. It’s as if we have a bunch of leftists here getting all their news on the election from world near daily and RT. This isn’t about liberal vs “Marxian” or who is a foolish tool of the neoliberal order – it’s about basic rules of evidence, understanding what’s in front of your face, and understanding the difference between right wing crap and reality. I don’t need your lectures on how you’re really an anarchist so get off my law to see what’s going on here: a bunch of old Marxists don’t want mainstream leftist measures to succeed because you want a revolution. This shtick is as old as Lenin, it’s wrong, it’s cruel and it’s stupid. Especially since you don’t have any idea about how you’re going to get your revolution and what you’re going to do when you get there.

You contribute nothing to society by standing athwart CT yelling “get off my lawn, liberal!” Ideally you’ll achieve nothing either but there is always a risk that you might convince someone, somewhere, not to vote killary, by infesting otherwise intelligent websites with your lies and conspiracy theories. And for those of us outside the us that would be a real disaster. There are 7 billion of us and 330 million of you so can you please just shut up until November, so we can start to make progress on fixing the planet?

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Lupita 10.01.16 at 2:16 am

A comment on js.’ link to which he will not bother to reply:

Appointees in the embassies and consulates can sneak in 10-year-olds from Honduras. By your vote—or decision not to vote—you will decide the fates of all of those who could be saved by these little acts of mercy.

This stinks of the white man’s burden. I would much rather a Zapata, a Che, a Sub, and may the Virgin of Guadalupe have mercy on us.

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js. 10.01.16 at 3:10 am

RMB

RNB. FTR.

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Howard Frant 10.01.16 at 9:29 am

Will G-R

Gotta say, Layman makes a lot more sense on this one. What was the policy decision? To lobby for an American company that’s a big exporter and employs 100,000 or so Americans, and competes fiercely with a European company. What was the inducement? Contributions to a charity from which neither she nor her family receive any benefit. Can we conceive of her *not* making the same decision absent the inducement? I can’t, which makes “decision” not a very good word for it. If Obama knew about it, do you think he’s approve or disapprove? If you want to go Full Bern and start talking about the ExIm Bank, we can do that, but let’s not. This is nothing like corruption.

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Howard Frant 10.01.16 at 9:40 am

Lupita

You read that whole article and *that’s* what you got out of it?

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Rich Puchalsky 10.01.16 at 11:06 am

BW: “And, sometimes he says something –seemingly random — that reminds people of what adaptive change might look like.”

I think that this is pretty much John Emerson’s territory. He wrote a lot about populism and how the Democratic Party not only rejected populism but successfully redefined the whole legacy of populism as racist. This is easy to do because if you go back in time for half a century or a century, everything is racist in America — look at merian’s “the left was sexist in 1968, so of course it always is” bit above. Jonah Goldberg tried to do this kind of thing with his Liberal Fascism book but of course overplayed it with comical effect.

So for the moment let’s ignore the bit about liberalism vs neoliberalism. What happened is populist elements were pushed out and technocratic ones pushed in, as being a whole lot more responsive to both the wealthy elite and to the new class of what Thomas Frank calls the 10%. And part of this was a new version of the past is which populism became racism, and in which any new populist demand was dismissed as racist and therefore the Democratic Party was immunized against it.

So there can’t really be a left populism any more. There can’t really be a right-wing one either because the GOP is run by con men and doesn’t actually do anything with the populist tropes that it uses to raise money — Trump is only the latest example of this. The interests of the people can only be represented by the voices of the 10%, and when problems don’t affect the 10%, they don’t exist.

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kidneystones 10.01.16 at 11:43 am

Here’s your non-Trump supporting academic examination of Hillary’s role in selling violent regime change to other Democrats:

File under stuff not to be discussed until it’s too late to avert more of Hillary’s wars:

http://bloggingheads.tv/videos/43967

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kidneystones 10.01.16 at 12:16 pm

From the linked discussion at 23:51 – Obama is amenable to working with Putin to target ISIL forces in Syria (like Trump). Unlike Hillary, Obama has learned that violent regime change is a bad idea, and violent regime change with no workable alternative government at hand is an especially bad idea.

But Trump insulted a gold-star mother, so everybody is just going to have accept 8 more years of Cheney in a red pant suit.

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stevenjohnson 10.01.16 at 12:49 pm

So far from learning regime change is a bad policy, Obama has openly attacked the Syrian army in support of an IS offensive. As of now, his minions are threatening total non-cooperation, which include notifying the Russians of air missions or acknowledging Russian notification. Which of course is implicitly a threat of more supposed accidents. A concerted propaganda campaign to save IS in east Aleppo and salvage the war against Assad is reaching a crescendo. The only way you can claim this isn’t regime change is by pretending that partitioning a country doesn’t somehow mean regime change. Or possibly that the real meaning of “regime change” is “murder the designated target.”

The pretense that Clinton is somehow uniquely evil in foreign policy is not left, because it apologizes for Obama and his policies. It is a posture exactly parallel to the pretense that Trump’s professed policies are uniquely different from the Republican Party’s, as well as a considerable portion of the Democratic Party’s. The thing about Trump is that his real precedent is Richard Nixon. The notion that Nixon’s impeachment was some sort of bizarre, pointless exercise which apparently deprived us of the stalwart liberal who gave us the EPA, all of us are Keynesians, etc. is reactionary BS, but it is implicit in the defense of Trump as merely more of the same.

The thing is, the left position on the US is that it is the number one country needing regime change. This is not the position of any one at CT or its regular commentariat. Nor is it the position of Bernie Sanders or Jill Stein or Gary Johnson. Any goal of getting rid of excess population so the world can be gloriously bucolic as of yore isn’t left, either, by the way.

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kidneystones 10.01.16 at 1:11 pm

@249 Watch the video. It’s actually illuminating.

I don’t agree with everything in the discussion. The discussion runs 62 minutes, or so. The context is important. For those hungry for anti-Trump points, go to the final 15 minutes.

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Layman 10.01.16 at 1:38 pm

“So far from learning regime change is a bad policy, Obama has openly attacked the Syrian army in support of an IS offensive. As of now, his minions are threatening total non-cooperation, which include notifying the Russians of air missions or acknowledging Russian notification. Which of course is implicitly a threat of more supposed accidents.”

Good grief, you’re insane.

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Ronan(rf) 10.01.16 at 1:49 pm

“The point isn’t to reargue about how fascist Trump is or is not. The point is that the same kind of arguments – if Trump wins he couldn’t really do that much and couldn’t really be a lot worse than any other president – …Meditate a bit about history and look at all the failed predictions and losing bets that smart observers have made, and for heaven’s sake get out of your bubble.”

You have to make an argument in the specific historical, institutional, and political context he exists. Arguments to Hitler are facile and pointless. Trump could indeed be an existential threat to the republic, or he could just be a particularly bad republican. To argue the first you have to actually make a convincing case why, not just handwave about “history” and people living in bubbles, or what not.

“Not to mention that none of them seem to have a clue that “liberal” is being used in a meaningless way for us non-americans “

Youre talking about American politics to a group of (primarily) Americans so you use local terminology. This isn’t particularly difficult. I’m not an American but think I’ve a clear enough idea what people mean by “liberal” in this context.

“Respect of the institutions (whatever they may be in the country under question — here for example the office of the president); good government[1]; pluralism[2]; non-discrimination ..”

I agree with most of this comment, and have made similar points before, but then again I am a “liberal” (ie believe in “good governance”, incremental change, pluralism, and the political system providing a space for competing interests/values etc). But (1) as a liberal I think.this naturally leads to a scepticism of all identity politics, including populism, and (2) an even deeper scepticism of claims about a coming social and political crisis,ie the trumpapocalypse.
Pluralism is good, and the liberal recognition of a society of competing values and interests is a fine insight, but this doesn’t get disregarded once it dawns on you that a significant part of the population are have pretty abysmal political preferences. You trust in the system, trust in your political values, and try not to freak out.

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Faustusnotes 10.01.16 at 2:17 pm

Ronan, I didn’t use the word liberal. It’s called a liberal, repeatedly, by Americans who can’t seem to understand that their language does not apply outside of their weird conservative bubbles. If I had a labeled would be something along the lines of a social democrat. Your “liberals” wouldn’t even make it into the right of Australian politics because you’re too conservative and too individualistic.

It’s really disappointing that the American left is carrying the responsibility of preventing disaster coming to the who,e world and you don’t even understand how the rest of the worlds politics works, even in the broadest of brush strokes. Do you think you can even understand what we’re trying (desperately, increasingly) to tell you if you don’t even understand the most basic aspects of our political frameworks?

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Faustusnotes 10.01.16 at 2:17 pm

It’s =I was

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Ronan(rf) 10.01.16 at 2:27 pm

I am not an American . You said it’s being used in a *meaningless* way for “us” non Americans. I am saying it’s not meaningless, just definitionally slightly different. I don’t find it particularly difficult to comprehend.

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Rich Puchalsky 10.01.16 at 2:37 pm

Ronan(rf): “the trumpapocalypse”

Here’s how it goes in the U.S.: when the Democratic Party is in power, they can supposedly do nothing. GOP obstructionism supposedly is all-powerful. When the GOP is in power, supposedly they can do everything, and dictatorship is just around the corner. And this is never, ever generalized into a drive to restrain the elements of the system that e.g. let the President really do unrestrained things in certain areas. All of the people frightened out of their wits about Trump were eager to support whatever humanitarian war a Democratic President declared and to defend Obama’s deportation policy via executive order. That’s why what always gets brought up is the Supreme Court. The stupidest, least responsive political appointment ever, which handily removes all political responsibility.

And every four years, any long term critique is derided. It’s always my God, we have to stop whoever the GOP candidate is, and anyone not willing to do drop everything and do that is a racist. The predictable consequence of this is more racists, but hey, that’s not important I guess.

And every four years, it’s always “But we’ll push people to the left after the election”. And of course this never happens, and the people saying this never actually do anything to make it happen. The whole thing is an exercise for the professional class and its effect is to keep their class interest the only respectable politics that can exist.

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JimV 10.01.16 at 2:41 pm

j.s – good article, thanks for the link.

As I have admitted somewhere at this site previously, I was one of those mentioned in the article who sat out the 1968 election between Humphrey and Nixon, despite feeling that Humphrey was the better of two bad choices, and yes, I lived to regret it and have voted in every election since.

RP – much as I appreciate the reply and will try to learn something from it, it is probably too late for me to learn how to stop having and expressing the feelings I have, and I tend to agree with Damasio that personal emotions play a central role in social cognition and decision-making.

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Rich Puchalsky 10.01.16 at 2:57 pm

JimV: “personal emotions play a central role in social cognition and decision-making”

…ok? I don’t think I was denying that. But if you can’t see things from someone else’s point of view even when they explain it, I don’t think that this is because you are a captive of your emotions, I think that you’re just lacking in empathy.

Try applying the same logic, or emotion-driven response, or whatever you want to call it to an issue on the other side of the left/right tribalism. I suggested terrorism instead of racism. If someone says that they want to figure out why people become terrorists and seems to think that they have actual reasons for doing so, does that make them terrorist supporters? If they say that maybe we should listen to grievances and try to fix problems that lead to terrorism, are they being soft on terrorism, which has to be crushed and defeated? Or, on the other hand, if someone describes with horror and anger the actions of a terrorist leader, does that mean that they have a personal bias against that terrorist leader?

All of the above is a staple of what passes for thought here. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen “Why are racists so prominent in this election?” turned into “You only care about white workers.” Sure, emotions, whatever, but at the end of the day we’re supposed to be having an intelligent conversation.

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stevenjohnson 10.01.16 at 3:19 pm

Layman @251 “Good grief, you’re insane.” Too pithy to improve on, but now it’s appropriate. Reality is not constituted from the agreed upon facts. The US has always been an indirect sponsor of Islamic State, even as it conducts some military attacks upon it. The incident at Deir Ezzor just brings it out into the open.

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Faustusnotes 10.01.16 at 3:21 pm

I comprehend the American meaning Ronan but when Americans try to accuse non American critics of American politics of doing so from a “liberal” political perspective they’re obviously wrong, since we aren’t American and so unlikely to be liberal. It’s just another example of the many category errors, empty buzzwords and shallow analyses that characterize this “radical” critique of us electoral politics.

And now in addition to will’s content free accusations about the Clinton foundation, which is basically just mindlessly reciting trump propaganda, we have Steven Johnson suggesting Obama is actively helping ISIS. In the same thread that someone else is saying Clinton doesn’t want to win the senate or the house becuase she doesn’t want to enact any policy that the GOP disagrees with.

Really, some commenters on this thread need to take a long, hard look at themselves.

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Anarcissie 10.01.16 at 3:39 pm

JimV 10.01.16 at 2:41 pm @ 257:
‘I was one of those mentioned in the article who sat out the 1968 election between Humphrey and Nixon, despite feeling that Humphrey was the better of two bad choices, and yes, I lived to regret it and have voted in every election since.’

What difference do you think that made? This is not a rhetorical question. Your vote would not have changed the outcome of the election. As an example of a different approach: In that election, recognizing the improbability that my single vote was extremely unlikely to select the victor, I voted for (and did a little leafleting) for a protest candidate because I wanted to indicate my opposition to the War in Vietnam, which voting for Humphrey obviously would not have accomplished. In some cases, protest votes do seem to have some effect; for example, David McReynolds ran against Democratic Party regular Leonard Farbstein, a supporter of the war, in 1968 as the candidate of the Peace and Freedom Party and got enough votes to encourage people to believe that dissidence was abroad in the land and Farbstein could be defeated. And so in 1970, Bella Abzug ran against him in the Democratic primary and won. Needless to say, doom in the general election was predicted, but Abzug won anyway.

Curiously for a person of anarchistical prejudices, I’ve generally enjoyed voting, especially for fringe candidates who exemplify what I believe in (sort of). I don’t think one could get that out of hold-your-nose voting, and no one has showed me that the latter makes any difference to outcomes. But people must get something out of it, or they wouldn’t do it. I’m curious to know what it is.

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Ronan(rf) 10.01.16 at 4:04 pm

” The whole thing is an exercise for the professional class and its effect is to keep their class interest the only respectable politics that can exist.”

I largely agree with this, (and just so it doesnt seem like I’m ‘scapegoating’ some other part of the population, id pretty much put myself in this class, at least in terms of political preferences, cultural and social capital etc)
I’d extend this a bit aswell. The interesting thing is how often this (my, I guess) class claims itself to be apolitical, or at least above the fray (you see this in my comment above) The response from other groups to this pose is that the reason they (we) can adopt this position is because we’re the privileged, socially, economically, culturally, who see their preferences and identities represented by mainstream politics. I think this has some truth to it, if also overdone.
Bur the interesting thing is that post Brexit etc what you now see is this class (the cosmopolitan class) begin to lose ground politically, and basically reverting to the politiking they claimed to dislike in others. The most obvious example of this is the idea that ‘we dont have to deal with racists.’ Well….perhaps you do. You have to deal with political reality, this is one of the main tenets of incremental liberal dogma. This is what is often said to minority factions within the broad left coalition, that your preferences arent shared within the population so get over it. If it turns out (and Im not saying this is the case, but if) that that the people the left draws on for support no longer support large parts of the cosmopolitan perspective (which I share) then that’s life.

Another pretty depressing turn has been how fragile the cosmopolitan classes commitment to pluralism is. The closest parallel I can draw to all this freaking out is this whole ‘islamification of Europe’ nonsense. In that case, a lot of self described liberals expressed shock that large parts of the Muslim pop held deeply reactionary political and social views, and that this posed an existential threat to liberal democracy. What was actually the case is that anyone who paid minimal attention to the subject would have known that significant parts of these communities had limited and contingent commitments to liberalism, but that at the macro level this really wasnt much of a problem.

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F. Foundling 10.01.16 at 4:08 pm

merian @ 182

>including that one can right now be in unqualified support of Clinton while at the same time sharing the criticism of her overall position

This makes no sense. ‘Sharing a criticism’ is a qualification, i.e. qualified support. Ditto for ‘limitless admiration and support’; if you share the criticism, then that is a limit on your adimiration and support.

>But since when is saying “in my book, given this set of value, the ethical thing to do is that” equivalent to shouting around orders?

This is a difference of style only. Saying ‘one ought to do X’ and ‘do X!’ are one and the same (outside of the military, possible parent-child interactions and suchlike). Each one of us humans that has a ‘book’ (a set of values), inevitably also believes that ‘his book’ is the right book, and whenever we are proclaiming our opinion that X is ethical behaviour and Y is unethical, we are also calling for other people to do X and not Y, or else we will consider them to be unethical. And, as RP has pointed out, your suggestion that anyone here who says something negative of Clinton until the election does not share your ‘book’, or set of values, or is ‘less beholden’ to your value set B, is by no means innocuous. In essence, you’re accusing such a person of being soft on what Trump represents, including white supremacism.

>Heck, if you disagree, why not engage with the argument?

I’ve already engaged with this sort of argument here, and I also think the reasons to oppose it are or should be self-evident. But OK, here goes. I believe that people should express their opinions freely and honestly, and not temporarily suspend them until an election has passed. I believe dishonesty and self-censhorship do more harm than good. I also think that the less criticism of action X there is now, the easier it will be for action X to be repeated. Lesser-evil voting is one thing; (temporary) self-censorship and self-brainwashing is another.

>you are apparently too fragile to hear someone expressing an ethical judgement that goes against your preferred actions

I’m OK with hearing you expressing your ethical judgement, and I am, in my turn, expresing my (strong) disagreement with it.

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merian 10.01.16 at 4:37 pm

Rich Puchalsky, @246

merian’s “the left was sexist in 1968, so of course it always is” bit above

WTF. I never said nor implied any conclusion about today. I said that patterns I see today are easy to find in the past, such as 1968, and the pattern isn’t sexism, but privileging specifically left-wing political goals over more widely shared values of inclusiveness and behaviour. The 1968 example isn’t even particularly good.

And you complain about me being insulting?!

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merian 10.01.16 at 4:48 pm

F. Foundling @263:

This makes no sense. ‘Sharing a criticism’ is a qualification, i.e. qualified support. Ditto for ‘limitless admiration and support’; if you share the criticism, then that is a limit on your adimiration and support.

Maybe that’s how you function. I don’t.

I have unqualified loyalty and support for my spouse. At the same time, I know she is a flawed human being, as we all are. There may be a threshold effect, where a particular act or attitude erodes my emotional attitude — and for HRC, there’s a simple expiration date — but until we reach a threshold, my support doesn’t waver like the needle of a scientific instrument as a function of day-to-day interactions.

And, as RP has pointed out, your suggestion that anyone here who says something negative of Clinton until the election does not share your ‘book’, or set of values, or is ‘less beholden’ to your value set B, is by no means innocuous.

I “suggested” that for my own personal way of thinking about it. I’m not expecting this particular path to apply to everyone. But this being a left-wing blog, I’d expect there to be some who are more attached to (A) (the specifically left-wing values) than (B) (the way more problematic values of a pluralist democracy). Where else would I find people like this? All I said is that I believe this to be a contributing factor to (ok, I probably claimed it’s the reason for) the unusually unenlightening nature of discussions here about the current US presidential election.

If you think I’m on the wrong path, why not say “No, THIS is how I square this circle,” instead of blustering how I’m all offensive and dare to insult you.

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bruce wilder 10.01.16 at 4:53 pm

Finding patterns in the past is particularly effortless if you refuse to know anything much about the past on its own terms.

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Lupita 10.01.16 at 4:53 pm

The way I see democracy, is not as a system to select the best, or even a good, president, but as a system to legitimize a government and avoid violent conflict. That is all voters do: de-legitimize the option of political assassinations and coups as a means of gaining power. This is what I see wrong with the argument for voting for Clinton and then going for the pitchforks. Once she wins, she is the legitimate leader. There will be no pitchforks after the fact.

However, Americans are not only choosing their president, but also the world’s Caesar, which is perhaps why so many regard American elections as momentous events. What I find most significant about the arguments surrounding this election, is the very primitive political notion that 5% of the world’s population legitimately determine the fate of all, which is just a notch above selecting leaders by primogeniture.

Just as murderous egomaniacs did much to de-ligitimize notions of the divine rights of kings, perhaps many fear that Trump will do the same to the current system of global governance and the West, with the US as its center, will be one step closer to losing the mandate of heaven.

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bruce wilder 10.01.16 at 5:02 pm

Some of us think Trump is there to frighten the horses and legitimize Clinton.

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bruce wilder 10.01.16 at 5:05 pm

Apparently this strategy is working.

Now if we can get Faustusnotes to use fahrenheit, it is all good and world domination continues.

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Lupita 10.01.16 at 5:56 pm

Come to think of it, if one supports the continuation of US supremacy (it’s better than Chinese supremacy, Putin is evil, Islamists are out to get us, imagine all those tiny acts of mercy), Clinton is the obvious choice. She has the pedigree and gravitas, experience overseeing invasions and assassinations, and even, if you squint, reminds you of Elizabeth given their preference for monochromatic costumes, whereas Trump is your typical ugly American. Definitely not good for empire. Hail, Caesar!

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bruce wilder 10.01.16 at 5:59 pm

That’s the spirit, Lupita.

You know the English let the Irish vote in their elections; maybe, in a few years, we could give the vote to Mexicans. Wouldn’t that be fun? And, you can show us how to stage a revolution, . . . maybe handle the catering.

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merian 10.01.16 at 6:09 pm

And re: Rich Puchalsky, various:

I was indeed disinclined to comment on your “homework” in #199 because of the patronizing tone, recognizing that any answer would be long-winded and take more than the time to eat brakfast. But maybe it will get us a step further, so here are my answers:

1. No, Trump is an abysmal candidate. No, HRC isn’t a particularly bad candidate: about as good as Obama, with some pluses and minuses; better than any R on offer since I followed US elections; better than her husband; better than most people I ever got to vote into office; about as good as anyone realistically on offer this time around (Sanders had some large pluses over her, and some large minuses). No, blaming the electorate is about as useful as a teacher blaming students — the electorate is what it is; sure, I can wish that electorate were more educated on civics and history, and had gone through schooling that made students write essays to weigh hard questions of social and economic policy, but it seems that even in relatively egalitarian countries with a high level of education, the electorate isn’t inoculated against the temptation to vote for strong-man slogans, however hateful and empty.

So what “structural factors”, or other factors? I think in part it’s close because too many people have lost the expectation that politics (or even government) is doing anything good (despite, it has to be said, opportunities for finding evidence of the contrary in their own lives: this is a hard problem of social psychology that I don’t have a solution for); in part — a second factor that is like the first reminiscent of Brexit — because white people with low education have lost personal connection to the class of people that governs them[1]; in part because money, advertising, and the sophistication level of marketing have made this into a horse race, where the candidate who looks to be ahead gets handicapped (i.e., there are feedback loops that narrow down results — I believe data shows that political elections have become narrower, but I’m not a specialist); in part because conservative voters seem to be more disciplined than left-wing ones, as Trump must look to a garden-variety conservative at least as bad (to put it mildly) as Clinton looks to a garden-variety pinko. I’m sure I could come up with more.

2. Well, yes, in principle both long-term and short-term thinking factor into electoral decisions. The short-term part is: every day that Trump is a viable candidate on the air waves, incrementally white supremacy will be normalized, people tempted by racist attitudes (maybe they lost their job while a black or Native colleague was kept on) will be pushed further into them. Another guy will put a lighter to a woman’s hijab. Another militia will form and solidify the social cohesion of the extreme right. And then there’s the mid-term — or what do you call the 4 years that Trump might get to govern, plus the aftermath of bad policies enacted? Depending on the actual candidates at play, I have during my life come down on different sides of that. In 2002, in the German Bundestag elections, I didn’t vote for Schroeder’s SPD (because I just can’t vote for Schroeder, pretty much for similar reasons that turn the left off HRC, except that HRC is smarter and cares more about the common employee and citizen), knowing that they probably would lose and that the outcome would either be a Merkel-right wing government with the liberal-democrat FDP (center-right), or maybe a grand coalition (Merkel + Schroeder), which happened. But Merkel being a relatively moderate conservative in constant conflict with the most pro-market and with the racist right-wing of her party, made this choice a calculated downside. Not that the SPD came out of it renewed. Unfortunately.

Thing is, though, right now this is what it looks like for me:
– Trump win: short-term outlook abysmal (violence on streets, people losing friends…), long-term outlook deeply dire
– HRC win: short-term outlook actually a marked improvement, with some mop-up aftermath; long-term outlook: limping along, with at least a new opportunity to turn things around.

In #256 you write:

And every four years, any long term critique is derided. It’s always my God, we have to stop whoever the GOP candidate is, and anyone not willing to do drop everything and do that is a racist. The predictable consequence of this is more racists, but hey, that’s not important I guess.

And every four years, it’s always “But we’ll push people to the left after the election”. And of course this never happens, and the people saying this never actually do anything to make it happen.

I agree that this is at the heart of it. It infuriates me. This behavior of the Democratic establishment (like every one of the neoliberal left parties I listed above) is detestable, irresponsible, and falls woefully short of what would be needed to serve justice & equity, and for that matter deal with the impact that humans have on each other and their environment. It is, as you rightly say, a factory of racists. There are structural factors in this, too, of course. You’d at the minimum a very very large number of politicians that are willing to (and are going to) risk their career until something changes.

I don’t know either what to do about it, other than slowly knitting together the good people I find in my immediate environment. You’re right to write about that, and I appreciate you doing it, here or on your blog. It is unclear to me, however, how opposition to Clinton at this juncture is particularly useful. I guess you are getting yourself heard, though not necessarily understood (including by me — remember you responded to me, while my initial comment was in no way based on anything you wrote before), and certainly disliked (not by me, though the “dipshit” was a bit harsh).

[1] For the parallel processes in Europe, I blame the respective center-left parties more than the center-right parties for this and the first point. But in the US, the rampaging destructive behaviour of the Republicans (and at the same time the achievements of the Democrats to connect people from ethnic and racial minorities with power) make me feel the opposite. Which is odd because the Democrats are further to the right than the French Socialists, the German SDP, or Labour in the UK. Well, used to be… looking right now, this may not be the case any longer.

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Rich Puchalsky 10.01.16 at 6:22 pm

merian: ” It is unclear to me, however, how opposition to Clinton at this juncture is particularly useful.”

It’s not, I think, which is why I’m not particularly opposing Clinton. On the contrary, I’ve sort of tepidly said that Clinton does appear to be the lesser evil, so if people want to vote that way, OK.

But the purpose of writing here insofar as it has any purpose is to write what we think is true. What I think is going to happen is that HRC is going to win, and then she’s going to have a lot of people killed in foreign wars. I can understand voting for the lesser evil war criminal when all of the choices are war criminals or probable future war criminals. But celebrating this as “Finally a woman is becoming President!” or telling people “You’re only opposing HRC because you’re sexist!” is revolting and disgusting. And telling people that we have to vote HRC in because Trump is so, so much worse is kind of devaluing the lives of all of people who are predictably going to die because of this choice. It’s all right if it’s being done on the basis of global warming, where there is a clear difference (maybe), but it should be done in the clear consciousness that in choosing someone who is more likely to ineffectually address this problem you are helping to condemn people to death.

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Rich Puchalsky 10.01.16 at 7:11 pm

To continue my answer, if you come down to “structural factors” as the basic type of explanation — as I strongly suspected you would — then you’re kind of explicitly bringing in your mental model of how long-term politics works as part of your idea of why anyone should do anything. And then no answer can be a simple answer, because people’s mental models differ. If you agree that the neoliberal parties are “a factory of racists” then it isn’t even certain that Trump is worse in terms of racism. I think that Trump is worse, but I’m aware that a whole lot of people who I respect think that continuing the system is worse or that the difference is likely to be negligible because their assumptions are different.

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merian 10.01.16 at 7:42 pm

Oh, they’re both factories of racists, and Trump’s has a much higher short-term throughput and specialises in radicalising and legitimising the existing crop.

Around 1998 I got involved with GLBT activist groups in France, with an interest in legal issues. The big topics were family and divorce, and binational couples, in which a non-EU partner was threatened with deportation. Then a civil partnership bill (PACS) unexpectedly reappeared on the parliamentary agenda, mostly because the newly ruling Socialists considered it as a nice little project with left-wing appeal that didn’t force them to actually give deep support to GLBT equal rights. The various activist groups needed to figure out what our attitude should be — say thank you? ask for improvements? (which ones?) ask for full equal rights? something entirely different? So we met up (at the PC headquarters :) ). A very venerable lesbian feminist group eloquently argued against asking for marriage, with the arguments you’re probably familiar with. And ideologically, I was in agreement, and furthermore had a lot of respect of the work these women had been doing for years, both practical and through participating in public debate. But I looked at the binational couples I hung out with every week, and realized that asking for anything but full equality would mean letting them down. Equality is a strong argument. Piecemeal improvement to the thicket of immigration regulation isn’t.

I still think it’s odd that years of GLBT activism and subversive sexuality ended up (in the US) with the right to get married and join the military. But that larger goal is one for a much larger time scale, I believe. (And personally, of course, I’m married now too.)

And as the success of Sanders (and Corbyn), as well as widespread attitudes within D voters show, replacing neoliberal ideologies on the left looks like a much more feasible thing than subverting gender relations in the way we imagined.

Of course you’ve set up the question so that any thinking person would have to reject a)-c). How is a “bad electorate” not a structural factor, too?

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F. Foundling 10.01.16 at 7:51 pm

merian @ 265

>I have unqualified loyalty and support for my spouse. At the same time, I know she is a flawed human being, as we all are.

I don’t think that comparing support for a candidate to support for a spouse is helpful. When you say that a candidate is flawed or state how s/he is flawed, that *is* a qualification of your support. And saying that you know X is flawed (in such and such a way), but you consider it a matter of principle not to say that you know that X is flawed (in such and such a way) doesn’t make sense either – because you’ve just said it! As for your spouse, I don’t want to meddle in your private family matters, but if she, too, has a habit of orchestrating regime change in Latin America and the Middle East in her sparetime, I strongly urge you to tell her to stop it right *now*. *Afterwards*, you can give her ‘unqualified’ spousal support and affection to help her get through the post-Kissingerist abstinence.

>All I said is that I believe this to be a contributing factor to (ok, I probably claimed it’s the reason for) the unusually

unenlightening nature of discussions here about the current US presidential election. If you think I’m on the wrong path, why not say “No, THIS is how I square this circle,”

If you mean explaining why the discussions are unusually unenlightening, I’m not at all sure that I share your impression that they are so; I think important issues are raised in them (for instance, I’ve definitely got the impression that US FP comes under scrutiny far more than it ever does outside of election season). If you mean explaining why you encounter people who voice their criticism of Clinton that you claim to share – well, yes, it seems likely that they: 1. don’t share your approval of self-censorship; 2. possibly, as you yourself have suggested, care more about the subject of their criticism than you do. In general, mutual accusations of being soft on neoliberalism and interventionism and of being soft on xenophobia and stupidity are nothing new here. On the other hand, implying that anyone who even *speaks* against interventionism is thereby guilty of being soft on xenophobia (of all things; consider the irony), while not unheard of either, is still a bit above the usual level of nonsense.

>instead of blustering how I’m all offensive and dare to insult you.

Please, I have never said I was ‘offended’. When you imply that if, say, people are talking about Libya, it must be because they don’t mind racism all that much (hidden joke; hint: Tawergha), I’m not offended, I just happen to find your position remarkably incorrect and harmful.

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merian 10.01.16 at 7:52 pm

As for the previous comment, in 2008 I kept telling my starry-eyed friends that Obama wasn’t walking on water. Still, I am and was thrilled about the first black US president.

Clinton, well, I expect my emotional reaction will be one of joy. Much more than for Merkel (though I couldn’t help feeling a warm pang about that Bundeskanzlerin thing), and I have none for Thatcher and May.

Sexism is complicated, and I’m sure that a lot of the visceral rejection of Clinton (in the general population, not specifically, and probably a lot more than among left-wing citizens) is related to sexism. That’s not insulting. Arguments have been made. Similarly, I think that some of it, and a good bit of the rise in racism and militias is due to Obama. Not his fault, of course, but the fault of white people freaking out. (I linked to Nell Painter’s interview above.) Similar thing.

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F. Foundling 10.01.16 at 7:56 pm

Collin Street @ 184

>You’re not highlighting them any more; they cannot be highlighted any more. … Just. Shut. The Fuck. Up. About Clinton.

Stop trying to “highlight” things we’re perfectly fucking cognisant of, please.

Actually, no, a lot of things are regularly being explicitly or implicitly denied all the time by the Clinton-boosting side here. I only bother to repeat things I’ve said in comments before because there is always someone to deny them again.

Lupita @242
>Appointees in the embassies and consulates can sneak in 10-year-olds from Honduras.

And they think it’s a good idea to mention *Honduras* of all places in this context! It’s obvious that things haven’t been highlighted enough at all.

js. and others have accused the opponents of lesser-evil voting here of not caring enough about minorities (Muslims in particular) and women, and about merian’s ‘value set B’ in general. Now, I haven’t seen any especially good reason to reject lesser-evil voting in principle (in particular, I don’t buy the ‘we should do nothing good before the revolution’ position). Therefore, as I have repeatedly stated, I do consider lesser-evil voting to be appropriate in this election in particular. However, as for those who have ‘unqualified support’ and ‘limitless admiration’ for Clinton, I think it’s only fair to voice my impression that they just don’t care enough about foreign lives and in particular about minorities and women abroad, or other traditional leftist causes (see Honduras; please, do google it if necessary), and to merian’s ‘value set A’. The same applies to those who, like js., back in February, when HRC’s FP ‘exploits’ were being discussed, displayed what I can only describe as smug indifference to the issue and stated that they would ‘vote for her in the primary, and happy-ish’. If you’re not just voting for her, but are ‘happy-ish’ about it, then you probably just don’t care about (Muslim) lives outside the US quite as much as you care about (Muslim) lives inside the US. I won’t be responding anymore on this subject here, as I have neither the time nor the desire to participate in a flame war.

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Layman 10.01.16 at 9:33 pm

“Some of us think Trump is there to frighten the horses and legitimize Clinton.”

…and put there by the Bavarian Illuminati.

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Rich Puchalsky 10.01.16 at 9:49 pm

Going back a bit–

merian: “But this being a left-wing blog, I’d expect there to be some who are more attached to (A) (the specifically left-wing values) than (B) (the way more problematic values of a pluralist democracy). “

People can expect whatever they like, but I think that this is a weird expectation. (B) includes some things without which I can’t understand how the left makes sense in any way, such as “recognition of shared humanity”, and some things that are specifically required in order to have any real interest in commenting here, such as “opponents that advance my thinking”. You may think that being on the left involves valuing (A) more than (B), and I can conceive of this being true for some people, but it is not true for any major part of the left that I’m familiar with. I don’t like the attempt to interpellate me with this odd set of values.

Will G-R referred to this above, in addition to F. Foundling, with the remark that while leftists really may characteristically come down as lacking respect for existing institutions, this doesn’t translate into the rest of package (B).

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merian 10.01.16 at 10:14 pm

F. Foundling (#276): I was tempted to respond with “Whatever you think,” but one point needs clarification: I don’t advocate self-censorship. If you believe that your intellectual efforts are best spent measuring Clinton against an ideal non-existent completely revamped (and much preferable) US foreign policy or against the ideal paragon of anti-neoliberal left-wing renewal, that’s exactly what you should do. What I wrote was starting from the observation that at this moment in time, I , who is usually quite up for either of these, have no desire to engage in it at all, and the reason is that for the moment, whatever is written about Clinton cannot escape the use as an argument for or against her bid against Trump.

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merian 10.01.16 at 10:16 pm

Richard Puchalsky, #280. It wasn’t meant as a pick-and-choose. My (admittedly not well thought-out criterion) for inclusion in (B) was “stuff that can conceivably be shared with a conservative”, not “stuff that could conceivably be important from a left-wing perspective”. The intersection of the sets is non-empty.

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kidneystones 10.01.16 at 10:48 pm

@ 278 There’s nothing quite so amusing as advocates of free speech ‘commanding’ the comments section of somebody else’s blog and then issuing permissions to comment, or instructions to how and what to post. (fn, rich, colin, TM in one form, or another)

Merian is quite right that in the artificially and arbitrarily limited universe of a one-time choice between just two options, everything written can be seen as pro/con against one or the other if everything that is written has only one meaning and will be read and understood by all as having the same meaning.

The fact is that a great many people inside the US and outside the US may well lack any/much understanding of the decision-making processes that led up to Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria, not to mention America’s long history with Iran, and America’s support of Evil Axis bad guy number 1 Saddam Hussein. The dynamics are complex even for those familiar with the basic topography.

The rhetorical parallels leading up to the Iraq invasions and the presidential elections are striking and easy to identify. Facts don’t matter, the urgency and severity of the threat demands uniform action, and the enemy is a once in an eon threat of epic proportion to the physical and moral existence of the known universe.

The potential threats both candidates pose are real. Those advocating Hillary as the better, safer choice cannot offer any reliable assurances that she will be able, or willing, to pursue policies that increase the well-being and security of any but the already affluent and secure.

Hillary’s long and unhappy history of war-mongering has not, imho, received anything like the media scrutiny it deserves, and won’t until she’s correctly identified in the minds of most as an advocate of ‘liberal interventionism’/violent regime change and on an equal footing of imbecility and irresponsibility in the minds of the public as Bush, Cheney, and Blair.

When the busts of Hillary, Bush, Blair, and Cheney form a Mt. Rushmore of savage stupidity for all to see and all school children studying the early 21st-century American-UK wars recognize the monument as such, that task of ‘highlighting’ her role in this enormously costly and damaging humanitarian and political disaster will be at least part way done.

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Rich Puchalsky 10.01.16 at 10:49 pm

“stuff that can conceivably be shared with a conservative”

I’m nitpicking more and more, but this is one of those topics that once I’ve gone to the trouble of reading it… Package (A) is:

“formulating alternatives to the “soft” neoliberal “third” way type politics and policies, or analyzing how an ecological and (more) egalitarian economic order could be built, on the level of the country, a region, whatever. Maybe revive a form of democratic socialism. OK. Let us call these goals and values (A).”

Conservatives had better share some of these values with the left, or we’re in trouble. Not democratic socialism: that was a historical stage of the left (thus “revive”) and identified with it. But if conservatives are not merely defined as boogeypeople, then they also don’t like “soft” neoliberal politics and policies, and it’s a deformation of American conservatism (what JQ refers to as tribalism) that they aren’t interested in an ecological order. I’ve often written before that it’s kind of strange and historically path-dependent that environmentalism ended up as a specifically left issue. It didn’t start as one, in the U.S.

That leaves egalitarianism, and there is general agreement that the left is supposed to be more egalitarian and the right more hierarchical. At least officially. But going back to the Bakunin / Marx split, this has always been contested on the left.

At any rate I still don’t understand how this is supposed to lead to any particular conclusion about support of HRC.

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kidneystones 10.01.16 at 10:54 pm

For Merian and others: a timely post from Matt Welch at Reason on Gary Johnson via the o’l perfessor who sees the coverage of Hillary and Trump as you.

https://pjmedia.com/instapundit/245272/

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ezra abrams 10.01.16 at 11:41 pm

inconvenient facts
we are no longer a nation of manufacturing jobs; people work in service and healthcare and education and
Trump dominated the first 30 minutes
Corey, do you know that everything he said is idiotic ? or worse (rule 1 krugman is always right, rule 2, if you have doubts reread #

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ezra abrams 10.01.16 at 11:44 pm

in regard to the election, I would ask each CT reader this question
imagine Carol, 29 years old, two young kids, she dropped out of high school when her man got her pregnant; he left after the second one
Carol is really, really struggling to put food on the table
the question: will her life be easier or harder if trump or clinton is elected
for me, a no brainer; clinton will try to fund planned parenthood, chip, SNAP etc; trump won’t
so before you diss hillary or go 3rd party, i suggest you find Carol and look her in the eye, and say hey, if your SNAP gets cut cause i didn’t support hillary, suckit up and think of what a statement i made !!!

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Ronan(rf) 10.02.16 at 12:00 am

“This chapter focuses on the impact of globalization on voter preferences. To do so, we consider the labor market consequences of trade, foreign direct investment, and immigration, which have had immediate effects on voters in advanced capitalist democracies. The globalization of production and the international flow of labor generate gains and losses in ways that cut both along and across traditional class cleavages, especially when such globalization has uneven sectoral effects. To identify who benefits and who loses from globalization, scholars have investigated effects on the basis of skills, industries, and occupation. More recent research has developed increasingly complex models that take into account differences in the productivity of firms, in the skill and cultural profiles of domestic and migrant labor, and in economic conditions across and within countries. The first part of this chapter provides an overview of this literature. In the second part we re-examine the role of class. Though the scholarship we review paints an increasingly complex picture of globalization’s distributional consequences and its ensuing effects on preferences, we contend that class still remains significant in ordering preferences: Low-skill workers have often been identified as the group most likely to voice its discontent about economic liberalization and cultural opening. This finding is in line with skill-based economic models that predict that low-skill workers in high-skill economies should suffer most from globalization. As we will illustrate, however, it can also be consistent with accounts that focus on the sectoral and occupational threats posed by the global flow of goods and labor. By examining exposure to trade, FDI, and immigration together, we show that low-skill workers in advanced industrialized democracies cannot easily escape the labor market pressures that globalization generates. Those low-skill workers who are relatively sheltered from the threats associated with outsourcing and trade are most vulnerable to competition arising from immigration, and vice versa. Further, the labor market pressures experienced by low-skilled workers occur alongside and are inseparable from exposure to cultural diversity. More than their high-skill counterparts, low-skilled workers experience economic and cultural threats jointly.”

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2497406

“Does globalization affect the demand-side of politics, and if so, how? This paper builds on new developments in trade theory to argue that globalization matters, but that its effects on individuals’ perceptions of labor market risk and policy preferences are more heterogenous than previous research has acknowledged. Globalization exposure increases risk perceptions and demands for social protection among low-skilled individuals, but decreases them among high-skilled individuals. This conditional effect is observationally distinct from classic trade models as well as arguments that deindustrialization or ideology predominantly drive such perceptions and preferences. Analyzing cross-national survey data from 16 European countries and focusing both on trade and offshoring, the empirical analyses support the prediction that exposure to globalization affects high- and low-skilled individuals differently, leading to variation in labor market risk perceptions and policy preferences.”

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/political-science-research-and-methods/article/globalization-and-the-demand-side-of-politics-how-globalization-shapes-labor-market-risk-perceptions-and-policy-preferences/6D7D71FF89412EB106A67C33646F9CFB

Nothing to see here though. It’s all about racism and status decline dontchaknow

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Ronan(rf) 10.02.16 at 12:03 am

All about uneducated white supremacists. Nothing else to see here. So say the empiricists above.

“To many, the transformation of West European party systems since the 1970s and 1980s was seen as evidence that the era of cleavage based politics was over. The rise of identity politics was interpreted not only as a result of the waning of the traditional class and religious cleavages, but as evidence for a new era in which political preferences de-coupled from social structure began to shape voting behavior. It was assumed that voters were “beginning to choose” parties for their policy propositions, the quality of their personnel, or based on their value preferences. The more recent successes of the extreme populist right once again were taken to indicate that anti-establishment populist mobilization was cutting across class alignments. From this point of view, the by now well-established finding that the working class is over-represented in the extreme populist right’s electorate came unexpected. While a host of hypotheses have been advanced to explain the propensity of parts of the working class to support the extreme right, the phenomenon still awaits a theoretical explanation and a systematic empirical test of the rivaling theses. In this chapter, we review the explanations that have been put forward and test whether economic grievances or cultural world-views are better in explaining the phenomenon. Both are related to the processes of modernization and globalization, which have a cultural, as well as an economic component. We argue that the changing nature of conflicts in West European party systems is crucial in explaining the shift of the manual working class to the extreme right. “

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/263491955_The_populist_right_the_working_class_and_the_changing_face_of_class_politics

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kidneystones 10.02.16 at 12:18 am

Right on cue: Farage the ‘failure’ will be supporting Trump in the near future.

WTF can Nigel teach Trump?

Hint — http://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/716666/Theresa-May-Brexit-Brussels-begins-article-50-laws-UK

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js. 10.02.16 at 1:01 am

293

js. 10.02.16 at 1:02 am

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Ronan(rf) 10.02.16 at 1:06 am

I thought you were only reading Merian’s comments’ js ; ) (Good to see you getting involved though, frustrating though it might be!)

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js. 10.02.16 at 1:18 am

The thing is, it’s not that hard to be critical of the neoliberal aspects of the Democratic party while staying clear-eyed about what’s at stake in this election (and any motherfucker that wants to come at me with “every four years” bullshit better have some quotes ready—I commented extensively on 2012 election threads on here, go and find me saying similar things four years ago). Rich Yeselson (nominally of these parts, perhaps understandably keeping a safe distance these days), Rick Perlstein, Thomas Geoghegan, etc., are doing this quite well right now. CT commenters are evidently bigger fans of Glenn Reynolds and Rich Lowry (work it out for yourselves).

Oh also, Angela Davis, neoliberal sellout.

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ZM 10.02.16 at 1:34 am

There is another piece in The Washington Post a profile of a Trump supporter from Western Pennsylvania here:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/finally-someone-who-thinks-like-me/2016/10/01/c9b6f334-7f68-11e6-9070-5c4905bf40dc_story.html

She has PTSD and was badly sexually harassed at work and the appeals judge found against her, and she reads lots of conspiracy websites that have misinformation and lies, and then she finds what has happened in her town and the lack of civic pride and economic problems really difficult, and sees Trump as someone who speaks for someone like her and believes misinformation and lies about Obama and Hilary Clinton since she doesn’t trust them.

I am kind of surprised at the amount of misinformation and deceptive claims that have formed her views. I don’t think we have so much of this in Australia to be honest.

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js. 10.02.16 at 1:35 am

Ronan, you’ve found me out! No but seriously, I disagree with you almost entirely (I think?), but I also think you add genuine value to these discussions. Unlike some other people I can think of.

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Ronan(rf) 10.02.16 at 1:45 am

I actually don’t really think it’s mostly economic (though I do think it’s part of it)but primarily cultural, value based and political. I think the economic arguments might offer more insight into how these political views became salient and dominant. But immigration and changes (and declining trust) in the political party system are probably the important factors, I think. we’d probably be closer to agreement in cooler circumstances, I think.

299

ZM 10.02.16 at 2:17 am

Rod Dreher is saying he might not vote at all this election, since even though he doesn’t want to vote for Hilary Clinton as a conservative he doesn’t trust Donald Trump to be President:

“Hillary will be very bad for people like me (social conservatives, I mean). It is impossible to believe that Trump would be anything but very, very bad for the country, and the world — a country and a world in which social conservatives also live.

Look, you know how pessimistic I am in general. I expect things to be pretty rotten for America over the next four years, no matter who is elected. The difference is that they will either go bad in predictable ways, ways that we can prepare for, or they will go bad in ways that nobody can foresee, because Trump is so chaotic. A predictable misery, a misery that can be contained, is the lesser of two evils. Besides, I used to think people who called Trump an “existential threat” to the Republic were being hyperbolic. I don’t think so anymore.”

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/

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LFC 10.02.16 at 2:36 am

stevenjohnson @250

A while ago I was sent a link to a piece on Syria and Iraq by an author (nationality unclear, but Middle Eastern) with experience in the region writing under the pen name ‘Cyrus Malik’ (the piece, plus a sequel that I haven’t read yet, appeared at the site called War on the Rocks).

The piece, a couple of months old at this pt, challenged a lot of the Western/US conventional wisdom about the nature of the conflicts, the supposed sectarian fault lines, etc. But not even ‘Cyrus Malik’, while v. critical of aspects of U.S. policy, maintained that the Obama policy in Syria over the past year has been one of ‘regime change’. Whatever the policy’s been exactly, it hasn’t been that — certainly not as that phrase has come to be used.

(P.S. Caught a snippet on the NewsHour about Kerry saying on the sidelines of the UNGA mtg that he favored a more robust U.S. mil. role in Syria, but that he had lost that argument in the admin’s councils.)

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merian 10.02.16 at 3:03 am

Re: Ronan. Dunno. Economic anxiety, increased expressions of white supremacy, globalization (and automation & other structural economic shifts), and rejection of elites / government / the political class (take your pick) are to me all sides of the same, well, not coin but tetrahedral die. We won’t ever get these Trumpian or Brexitoid or neo-nationalist, or populist right-wing movements down if we don’t clearly admit that economic policies, including those from the soft neoliberal left, have created losers, and formulate solutions. We also won’t solve them as long as white people freak out in the numbers they do about not being in a minority, not being automatically privileged, and seeing cultural change that originates from either outside the borders or previously stigmatised races.

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kidneystones 10.02.16 at 3:22 am

@ 300 “Assad Must Go” http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-34385354

28 September 2015 “Obama tells the UN Assad must go.”

18 August 2011 “Assad Must Go Obama Says” (Wapo) (no links to follow to avoid moderation)

1 August 2012 “Obama Authorizes Secret US Support for Syrian Rebels” (Reuters)

Obama, as Stevenjohnson notes, has not entirely surrendered his dream of forcing ‘democracy’ on Syria. There is abundant evidence, however, the US and a number of other nations have been arming Syrian rebels (ISIL and Al Quaida) since 2011, at least.

The result of Obama and Hillary’s love of violent regime change has been an increase in the suffering of millions in North Africa and the Middle East, the collapse of basic services such as fresh water and hospitals, and a new flood of refugees seeking to escape the beneficence of Hillary Clinton and her boss.

All this after the ‘lessons’ of Iraq and Afghanistan.

If you are supporting Hillary you are supporting violent regime change in the Middle East and the love of violence of Bush and Cheney, not too mention drone strikes, the surveillance state.

That’s who you are.

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ZM 10.02.16 at 3:36 am

kidneystones,

But at the moment there is no regime in Syria at all. They have had civil war for about 5 years now, and their cities are in ruins and people are fleeing to Europe and elsewhere, and their is no end to the conflict in sight.

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merian 10.02.16 at 3:57 am

kidneystones #302

If you are supporting Hillary …

As opposed to supporting whom, exactly?

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kidneystones 10.02.16 at 3:58 am

ZM@ 303. The linked dialogue above explores the role Hillary and Obama, in particular, played in providing the arms and support to a rebellion that Assad, like Gaddafi, could have ended years ago.

Like Gaddafi, Assad is not being attacked by moderate democrats keen to legalize gay marriage, but rather Sunni militias deeply sympathetic to ISIL and Al Quaida, or those forces operating in Syria and western Iraq.

You’re right to point out that the only result of US support of ISIL related Sunnis has been the prolonging of the civil war and the promulgation of the delusion that violent-regime change brings peace and security. Yes, five years of US arms, threats, and intimidation has destroyed Syria, in much the same was as the Hillary promoted war in Libya destroyed that regime.

The pro-Hillary-Obama media is extremely reluctant in the run-up to the election to point out explicitly what a spectacular FP failure the US has created for itself right now, with Russian jets flying over Aleppo and Assad about to finally humiliate the insurgents and all those like Hillary and Obama who encouraged the bloodshed.

The Obama-Hillary policy has been a five-year bloodbath and there’s no sign Hillary wants to do anything but press for a no-fly zone over Syria in order for the US to continue to funnel more death and destruction into the already devastated moonscape.

It ain’t like anyone she knows is dying over there. Syrians can’t vote in November.

The attitude of her supporters seems be: fuck it – Syria is on the other side of the world, so what’s the big deal?

Mitt Romney tied the family dog to the roof of his car. What about that?

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kidneystones 10.02.16 at 4:05 am

@ 305 Hi Merian. Go tell your students that you’re supporting the candidate who voted for the Iraq invasion (biggest mistake in modern US history), persuaded plenty of other Democrats and ordinary Americans to suspend their judgment and do the same. And who also played an instrumental role in destroying Libya, promotes violent regime-change in Syria and enjoys the support of all the same neocon warmongers who’ve made the US into a pariah state. Play the ‘We came, we saw, he died – ha-ha-ha” Hillary CBS video for them.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-01-07/we-came-we-saw-he-died-%E2%80%93-revisiting-incredible-disaster-libya

Then explain to them that Hillary is the better candidate.

See what happens.

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Omega Centauri 10.02.16 at 4:07 am

I think Syrian regime-change has evolved. It used to be because the Likud considered the regime to be an enemy, and the usual coldwar alignment. More recently the computation that has made himself so unacceptable with much of his population, that no real peace will be possible as long as he heads the government. So we are presented with really bad choices (or maybe I should say possibilities, since we have little hope of influencing the outcome):

(1) Rebels win -or even just manage to partition off a large chunk of the country, but are dominated by ISIS, or the likes of AlQaeda.

(2) Assad prevails, but millions of his former countrymen decide that the uncertainties of life as a refugee are preferable to the uncertainties of staying (or returning), and Europe’s political systems may not be able to withstand the strain and succumb to rightwing ultra-nationalism.

So even if we had the capability to substantially affect the resolution, the choices are horribly bad.

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Omega Centauri 10.02.16 at 4:10 am

That should have been Assad has made himself so unacceptable….

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js. 10.02.16 at 4:12 am

Ronan @298 — I think it’s pretty much about social hierarchy, not just race but also patriarchy. How people can manage to reconcile themselves to the loss of social position (I put it this way because I don’t think anyone else, on the outside, can get them to do it), or how they reconcile in ways that are not incredibly socially disruptive (if not straight up violent), I have no idea. I literally cannot think of any suitable historical examples, far as I can see they all involve war, massive social dislocation, etc. Holy shit, that’s even more bleak than I realized.

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merian 10.02.16 at 4:13 am

Rich Puchalsky #285:

Conservatives had better share some of these values [= set (A)] with the left, or we’re in trouble

I meant democratic socialism in the sense of what Bernie Sanders stands for, not as a historical notion. My short-hand distinction between what passes for left at the moment and the conservative side as far as neoliberalism is concerned is to associate the former with the “soft” version and the latter with the “hard” version. Which is not entirely fair: there are some moderate conservatives who lean towards the “soft” side, or historically have been. The tea party and other small-goverment folks seem to have been driving them to extinction, though. Conversely, some people in the D camp are moving way into “hard” territory. Aren’t several of the decision-makers involved in the Mylan farce married to Democratic elected politicians? (OK, I’m just presuming they also vote on the D side, which of course may be incorrect. Mixed marriages do after all exist.)

Egalitarianism? That’s not even a majority attitude among current left-wing people. I’m looking at those who send their kids to private schools when perfectly fine public options exist, resist desegregation, subscribe nonsense about education being a competition, etc.

This leaves ecology, and that one’s interesting. I’m seeing a lot of cooperation on the local level across political divides about ecological topics especially in places where tourism or sustainable agriculture / fisheries are among the economic drivers. And everyone wants clean air and safe water. (But then there are other places where fights couldn’t be more bitter, and the lines between conservation and development pretty much go along party lines or even along a line that splits the soft left in two.) Certainly the topic can bring people together — there isn’t really a party registration associated with being a birder or running a water treatment system. As a matter of political ideology, though, I don’t think right-wing ecology has many legs to go on. It was tried in France and fizzled out. In Germany there was some debate during my youth whether conservation attitudes are necessarily something left-wing. (Indeed, there’s one case of a conservative-Green coalition to rule a German Land.) Overall, though, you need to be at least to some degree critical of capitalism to mount a coherent ecological political theory, I think.

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js. 10.02.16 at 4:18 am

Just to be clear, I don’t think the historical point is dispositive. This is a point I would stress a lot. Tho I do think… well, anyway.

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kidneystones 10.02.16 at 4:23 am

@307 ‘Rebels win’ When ISIL Al Quaid hold the guns in the ‘rebel’ controlled territory, there is no ‘win.’

There’s no question among the experts (that I’ve read) that the five-year conflict driven and funded by Hillary Clinton, Obama, and their good pals makes the next five years in Syria far worse than anything that occurred prior to 2011, when Hillary and Obama decided to ‘fix’ things.

That’s why Hillary and her gang of neocon geniuses must be stopped.

These fuckers aren’t done and her own record confirms she continues to support violent regime change and is going to continue killing whomever they like, including civilians (collateral damage) until there are simply no more target populations to devastate.

She’s Dick Cheney in a red pant suit. Merian is a fan!

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merian 10.02.16 at 4:33 am

kidneystones #306:

I mostly teach a few groups of intro to geoscience for non-science majors this semester. So we aren’t going to have partisan political discussions. We deal with earthquake magnitudes and seismic prospecting and finding the depth of a glacier and reading topographic maps, and fight with logarithms and Pythagoras’s theorem’s practical applications.

I have no idea who my students are voting for. (Hey, many are young, and at their age I still followed the family tradition of voting Christian-Socialist CSU, meaning Bavarian conservative, nothing socialist about them). Well, the one I drove to the #NODPL rally probably isn’t going to go for Trump. Also, they told me about their relative who works for the Lt. Gov., who’s a Democrat. In one group, a third are Alaska Native, and overall a lot grew up in Alaska. They are pretty much seeing climate change happening during their life time. Some are military kids: who knows what’s in their head. Some are into natural hazard management. One of them is really opening their mind at the moment: they told me how they’d like to get take their three siblings on their first museum visit, maybe in Kodiak (the wonderful Alutiiq Museum). The siblings are between 7 and 12.

Do I wish they’d pay more attention to the role of the US in the world? SURE! But I also recognize that their schooling barely prepared them for domestic, let alone foreign policy matters.

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Omega Centauri 10.02.16 at 4:40 am

I don’t see HRC as a prime mover in either Iraq or Libya. In the first case Iraq was a neocon/Bush project, and they were threatening to extract a terrible price from anyone who used their position to block their ambitions. Libya was primarily a Arab-league cum French-British project. Not supporting it could have potentially damaged our relationship with key allies France and Britain. Of course Libya was a slippery slope, once started it soon became obvious there was no solution where Qaddafi survived and the Libyan people wouldn’t end up paying dearly. Not that her
acquiescence in either case demonstrated either good long term judgement or courage, but it also
doesn’t demonstrate that she was a principle architect of either project.

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js. 10.02.16 at 5:03 am

There is one (prima facie) good objection to what I said above. Basically, a Colin Crouch/Peter Mair style argument (which is all very Europe focused of course, but still). I’ll think more about this.

I’m just arguing with myself here, so again don’t fucking respond to me. Tho Ronan can respond to me. Some others too.

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kidneystones 10.02.16 at 5:15 am

314@ “I don’t see HRC as a prime mover in either Iraq, or Libya.”

That’s probably a great comfort to the grifters keen to see her elected. The facts, however, suggest otherwise. Dealing first with Libya and Syria, Hillary Clinton served as the US Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013, which makes her at least one of the prime architects of US foreign policy, and certainly the most important administration official after Obama responsible for foreign policy. Facts which place the burden of proof regarding her involvement in US foreign policy formation and execution squarely on you.

HRC’s involvement in Iraq is less well-understood, and that’s likely no accident either, given the mileage democrats have generated out of pinning the entire bi-partisan debacle on Bush and Cheney. From the linked dialogue above featuring Robert Wright and Max Abrahms (Northeastern) http://bloggingheads.tv/videos/43967?in=01:10&out=12:21

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JimV 10.02.16 at 5:28 am

Anarcissie 10.01.16 at 3:39 @262 asked me “I don’t think one could get that out of hold-your-nose voting [enjoyment], and no one has showed me that the latter makes any difference to outcomes. But people must get something out of it, or they wouldn’t do it. I’m curious to know what it is.”

On the very off-chance that this will satisfy your curiosity:

a) The idea behind a representative democracy, as I understand it, is that citizens have a duty to inform themselves about the candidates and vote for whomever will do the most good/least bad. It may not be satisfying or enjoyable, but neither are lots of things that I should do. Nor would society founder if I didn’t do them, as one individual, but it seems to me that a good ethical principle is, don’t do something which if everyone did it, would make society founder. Stealing, not paying your taxes, littering, not voting, … (This may sound corny or sarcastic, but I’m doing the best I can.)

b) If there were a great 3rd-party candidate to vote for, fine, vote for them. I have done so once in my life. I don’t see one in the coming election. In general, 3rd-party candidates in the USA are like dogs who chase cars: they wouldn’t know what to do with them if they caught them.

c) And frankly, there is this much positive benefit: Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush are not my fault! I voted for better candidates. And I do wish I could say that about Nixon in his first term.

And to RP: I am sorry if I mischaracterized BW as implying that HRC is evil, although I did say it was an impression I got, and I am aware that my impressions are not always the case. If that was not what your complaint was about, then I am also sorry but all of your comment went whoosh! way over my head.

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Lee A. Arnold 10.02.16 at 10:42 am

The claim that Syrian groups in opposition to Assad were, and are, all sympathetic to ISIS is not only false (and a libel upon them), it is stupidly dangerous. ISIS wasn’t even in the picture when more moderate groups claiming to support democracy began their opposition to him and were severely treated to war crimes by his regime. It is certainly true now, however, that if the moderates were to overthrow Assad, the new go’vt would be crushed, in turn, by ISIS which wants a pan-Syrian-Iraq caliphate. There are now at least 11 or 12 actors involved in this disaster. The charge that the US started it all is not only a lie, it is stupidly dangerous. (–This has been a news flash report brought to you by the makers of Reality Soap, “hoping you will all take a shower, Real soon!” Now, let’s return to the unreal conversation, already in progress…)

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Ronan(rf) 10.02.16 at 10:48 am

Merian, I don’t have time to reply in any detail at the minute, but I agree it’s difficult to disentangle all these causes. Your argument is definitely very plausible. My problem with some of the stronger economic arguments is that I think values, cultural and identity can have their own importance independently of economic and political contexts. Put it like this, you need the political movement to express your identity based (good or bad) grievance, and economic decline can exacerbate the grievances or help create the circumstances where they become more salient, but they don’t explain it fully. The racism, nativism, xenophobia is still endogenous to your value system, just generally latent. (If you get what I mean. I think that’s on overly complicated/pretentious way of saying something quite simple, but I can’t elaborate at the minute)

Js, yeah I don’t know how far the mair argument goes ‘re the US (don’t know as in actually don’t know), and I do think the status decline argument has some merit. (*perhaps* particularly re trump)
This book is working it’s way up my reading list

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/is-white-rage-driving-our-racial-divide/2016/06/22/fbeec9fc-22a8-11e6-aa84-42391ba52c91_story.html?utm_term=.87a96206cef3

(So hopefully it can get at some of my confusion )

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Peter T 10.02.16 at 10:49 am

As a side note, it’s obvious that there are at least three separate US policies active in Syria. The Defense Dept supports the largely Kurdish YPG against ISIS, the CIA works with Gulf backers to support the Free Syrian Army – an amalgam of mostly ineffective “moderate” rebels and effective, but murderous, Islamists affiliated to al-Qaeda, and State hovers around making noises about Assad, variously placating and irritating the Turks and dickering with the Russians.

Whatever the merits of their individual stances, there is no reason to suppose that either Obama or Hillary can exert more than loose control over this mess.

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Lee A. Arnold 10.02.16 at 10:55 am

In fact the morons instead should thank god that Barry & Hillary kept US ground troops out of this mess. And if you think Donny-boy doesn’t have blood on the menu, listen closely to his statements. Trump is going to bomb the shit out of everybody. (News flash update)

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Lee A. Arnold 10.02.16 at 11:18 am

Back to Michael Dukakis parallels:

Note that Hillary Clinton Willie-Hortoned Donald Trump by using Alicia Machado.

(And to my mind, the male pigs of the world thoroughly deserved it.)

Trump’s been machadoed!

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Rich Puchalsky 10.02.16 at 11:22 am

In the U.S., at least, perceived threats to social status obviously have something to do with it. I’ve been writing here for years about the question “What makes large parts of the white working class vote for the GOP?” and my main answer is that people who are a step up from the bottom will do a lot to preserve their sense that they have someone to look down on, which racism functions socially to preserve. Social wages of whiteness, etc. Since you can’t really do much about educating people out of racism that hasn’t already been done, maybe you can do something about the “step up from the bottom” part by making society less precarious.

But whenever people here wrote something like this around the election, they were told that they only wrote this because they were white, that they only cared about white people, and that they supported white supremacy. That is the intellectual heritage that the HRC supporters here will leave behind. It’s tremendously stupid and they’ve added nothing.

merian: “Overall, though, you need to be at least to some degree critical of capitalism to mount a coherent ecological political theory, I think.”

Believe it or not, many strands of conservatism are / were critical of capitalism. If you view conservatism as wanting to preserve or reinstate a kind of aristocracy, it’s pretty easy to see why. Aristocracies like hereditary lands, preserving them, etc. Conservatism has been captured by pro-capitalists for, again, historically path-dependent reasons.

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stevenjohnson 10.02.16 at 12:59 pm

LFC @300 It is unclear to me how a change from an independent secular national state in Syria to a patchwork of sectarian statelets wholly dependent upon foreign support is anything but a regime change. Unless of course, the phrase “regime change” merely means the murder of a designated leader and his replacement by someone acceptable to the regime changers.

@306 “And (Clinton) also played an instrumental role in destroying Libya…”
@316 “Hillary Clinton served as the US Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013, which makes her at least one of the prime architects of US foreign policy…”

It was NATO which attacked Libya. The prime “architects” were well known, namely, Cameron and Sarkozy. The US role in this matter was conducted largely through NATO, the CIA and international diplomacy. In the US, relations with Cameron and Sarkozy would be conducted largely by either Obama personally, with other diplomatic duties taken up by the UN ambassador Samantha Power, a figure that has always been in an ambiguous relationship with the Secretary of State. CIA of course, as more or less the President’s Praetorian Guard over humanity at large, is no more under the Secretary of State than the Pentagon.

It seems to have been forgotten that the democratic rebels were lynching black Africans within days of their glorious uprising. Barack Obama is too tan for the Klan, thus it was advisable for a loyal servant to provide an excuse for a half-Kenyan man to support the mass murder of darker skinned people. Enter that dutiful public servant, able to suffer undeserved ignominy in service to her country. (She repeated the performance in the Benghazi affair, where she loyally excused the murder of Stevens as a religious mob, instead of a falling out with his jihadi employees.)

Lee A. Arnold is sort of correct there was once a genuine democratic Syrian opposition, largely inspired by the economic liberalization (neoliberalization according to many CTers,) in the face of the stresses of the world economic downturn and the prolonged Syrian droughts. Nonetheless there was from almost the very beginning an organized Islamist element that relied on violence, and refused to negotiate any reforms whatsoever, despite the Assad government’s attempt to do so. Whether he was sincere is moot.

Arnold’s other point that Trump’s professed plans are not for peace but victory is correct. Whether he has any real ideas how to achieve this other than firing generals until he gets a winner is anybody’s guess. Like Nixon, Trump has a secret plan.

Peter T @320 “As a side note, it’s obvious that there are at least three separate US policies active in Syria…Whatever the merits of their individual stances, there is no reason to suppose that either Obama or Hillary can exert more than loose control over this mess.” Skipping over the question of how obvious it is to CT and its regular commentariat that the military has a semi-independent policy, the idea of Presidential leadership does sort of include a vague notion that the President sets the policy, not the generals. The facts being otherwise show how the US is a deeply militaristic polity. I would add the CIA is very much the President’s army. State is more or less, Other, on the multiple choice exam. Trump’s hint he would fire generals til he finds a winner suggests he more or less agrees that the military is an independent enterprise in the political market (which is what US governance seems to be modeled on.)

The recent leak that Clinton is against nuclear armed cruise missiles and isn’t committed to Obama’s trillion dollar nuclear weapons upgrade appears to suggest she’s not quite on board with plans for general war. (Yes, the purpose of this program is to prepare for general nuclear war, or at minimum, plausible threat of imminent general nuclear war.) It is unclear whether this was leaked to make her look good to the public, or to discredit her with the military’s higher ups. (It is likely dissident military played a role in the leak, either way.)

The fact that these kinds of issues are ignored in favor of twaddle about Clinton Foundation, emails and the actions of the Secretary State, an office whose relevance has been dubious for decades, says much about the level of democratic discourse.

Rich Puchalsky, the primary reason so many white workers vote Republican is because they are voting values, which are religious, not policies. Even more to the point, the notion that voting is like a market transaction (a very liberal idea) founders on the fact…I firmly believe!…most ordinary people don’t vote interests, they vote the national good. It’s the rich and their favored employees who vote their interests. As to the religious bigotry, well, once it was necessary to say or write “racial bigotry,” because everyone knew bigotry to be an expression of religious belief. Today, the very notion of religious bigotry is more or less forbidden as some sort of expression of anti-religious fanaticism.

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Rich Puchalsky 10.02.16 at 2:48 pm

“the primary reason so many white workers vote Republican is because they are voting values, which are religious”

And those values just kind of appear, I guess, just as racism appears for no reason. Jesus Christ the putative exemplar for Christianity is supposed to have said a lot about the poor, the meek, and so on but weirdly enough those aren’t the religious values that people vote for, they vote for other values. I think that explanation doesn’t say anything useful, just as “the national good” is an empty signifier since it can be interpreted in thousands of different ways and generally what people do is vote and then rationalize it as being for some version of the national good.

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Omega Centauri 10.02.16 at 3:23 pm

I think one of those “values” is disgust at what they see as lazy people getting help they don’t deserve. I think this is largely a misreading of what people who are obtaining welfare or disability are actually doing. They see a guy who gets disability doing some piecework on the side, and think he is simply gaming the system, whereas most likely he has a partial disability which means he can only work in fits and starts, but couldn’t hold down a regular job because his condition requires the ability to take long recovery periods. This resentment, which is carefully cultivated by the right seems to be a strong motivator.

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Anarcissie 10.02.16 at 4:32 pm

I understand the idea of voting being an ethical duty. However, this proposition seems to assume that it is possible for the election or referendum in which one votes to be more or less ethical. Suppose, however, one is given a choice between two criminals, or one’s choices are overseen and filtered by criminal powers? I’m not talking about ordinary corruption here, but wholesale murder and other massive depredations. Doesn’t participating in such an election help legitimate the election and the people who set it up?

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LFC 10.02.16 at 4:41 pm

k’stones @302/312
The result of Obama and Hillary’s love of violent regime change has been an increase in the suffering of millions in North Africa and the Middle East, the collapse of basic services such as fresh water and hospitals

1) Interesting you don’t mention that Assad’s air force, the Syrian air force, has been bombing hospitals (not as in “oops, a stray bomb mistakenly fell on a hospital”) but as in *targeting* hospitals.

2) Though I don’t follow all this w minute attention, I’m aware of no persuasive evidence that the Obama admin’s policies were a major factor in causing the Syrian civil war to begin. Whether the Obama admin’s policies (somewhat confused as they are, see Peter T above) have contributed to its prolongation is a separate question. Obama’s occasional statements that “Assad must go” do not amount to a policy of regime change as I understand that phrase; S. Johnson disagrees. We aren’t going to resolve this here.

p.s. The Syrian government, based on brief recent remarks by one of its high officials, seems to think that the U.S. govt can bring the civil war to an end (i.e., ensure the anti-Assad forces’ defeat) by ending its support for them. Not clear to me that that is the case (assuming, for the sake of argument, that it’s desirable now to end the war on any terms for humanitarian reasons, or assuming, again for the sake of argument, that an Assad ‘victory’ is the best outcome, which is, at a minimum, debatable). Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf countries, despite their relationship to the U.S., are states that conduct their own foreign policies, not helpless puppets of Washington, and there is no apparent reason, afaict, that they could not continue their support of the anti-Assad forces for a while.

And anyone who has been paying even very casual attention to the situation must be aware that parts of Syria are in ruins and at this point it’s hard for a non-expert to see, even if Assad ‘won’ militarily, how the country could go back to its pre-civil-war condition.

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Rich Puchalsky 10.02.16 at 5:00 pm

Omega Centauri: “I think one of those “values” is disgust at what they see as lazy people getting help they don’t deserve.”

The Protestant Ethic notwithstanding, there is no religion I’m aware of that says that poor people are lazy and getting help they don’t deserve, so why don’t we just call this a cultural value. Cultural values tend to have obvious relationships to what Marxists of yore called modes of production. (I have no idea what Marxists think these days. Generally it doesn’t seem to have any relationship to what Marx talked about, so I have no idea why they want to keep the name.) As any number of people have pointed out, this cultural value sort of served a purpose at one time but with contemporary productivity it no longer does.

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LFC 10.02.16 at 5:00 pm

@s. johnson

The recent leak that Clinton is against nuclear armed cruise missiles and isn’t committed to Obama’s trillion dollar nuclear weapons upgrade appears to suggest she’s not quite on board with plans for general war. (Yes, the purpose of this program is to prepare for general nuclear war, or at minimum, plausible threat of imminent general nuclear war.) It is unclear whether this was leaked to make her look good to the public, or to discredit her with the military’s higher ups. (It is likely dissident military played a role in the leak, either way.)

I had not heard about this (perhaps an indication of how closely or not I’m following the election news). If HRC is indeed has some doubts about the wisdom of nuclear ‘modernization’, that’s all to the good. Mainstream Democratic-leaning think tanks, at least one that I’m aware of, have questioned the modernization necessity and expense, e.g. in a report co-authored by Lawrence Korb, a former Reagan admin defense official.

Will refrain from further comment except to say that I disagree w the notion that the pt of nuclear ‘modernization’ is to make plausible the threat of “imminent general nuclear war.” If U.S. military planners took hallucinogenic drugs and went nuts, they could “plausibly” threaten “imminent general nuclear war” right now with the US nuclear arsenal as currently configured. They don’t need to upgrade the weapons to do that. The program is prob more the result of rigid, unimaginative thinking at top levels of Pentagon and influence of outside companies (e.g. Boeing etc) that work on the upgrades.

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stevenjohnson 10.02.16 at 7:10 pm

One aspect of the upgrade is about improving the feasibility of using tactical nukes.

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bruce wilder 10.02.16 at 7:49 pm

Anarcissie @ 239: We basically have a whole class of people, at the top of the social order, who seem devoid of a moral sense — a problem which the upcoming election isn’t going to touch, much less solve. I don’t blame Clinton for this . . .

JimV @ 317: I am sorry if I mischaracterized BW as implying that HRC is evil, . . .

Peter T @ 320: Whatever the merits of their individual stances, there is no reason to suppose that either Obama or Hillary can exert more than loose control over this mess [the multi-sided regional civil war engulfing Syria and northern Iraq]

stevenjohnson @ 324: The recent leak that Clinton is against nuclear armed cruise missiles and isn’t committed to Obama’s trillion dollar nuclear weapons upgrade appears to suggest she’s not quite on board with plans for general war.

LFC @ 330: I disagree w the notion that the pt of nuclear ‘modernization’ is to make plausible the threat of “imminent general nuclear war.” If U.S. military planners took hallucinogenic drugs and went nuts, they could “plausibly” threaten “imminent general nuclear war” right now with the US nuclear arsenal as currently configured. They don’t need to upgrade the weapons to do that. The program is prob more the result of rigid, unimaginative thinking at top levels of Pentagon and influence of outside companies (e.g. Boeing etc) that work on the upgrades.

I don’t know if that seems like a somewhat random collection of precursors to assemble as preface to a comment. I was thinking of picking out a few upthread references to climate change and the response to it (or inadequacy thereof) as well.

I am a little disturbed by the idea of leaving the impression that I think Hillary Clinton is “evil”. What I think is that American politics in general is not generating realistic, adaptive governance.

I am using that bloodless phrase, “realistic, adaptive governance”, deliberately, to emphasize wanting to step outside the passions of the Presidential election. I think the Manichean narrative where Trump is The Most Horrible Candidate Evah and Everyone Must Line Up Behind Clinton as an Ethical Imperative of a High Order is part of the process of propaganda and manipulation that distorts popular discussion and understanding and helps to create a politics that cannot govern realistically and adaptively. This is not about me thinking Trump is anything but a horrible mess of a candidate who ought to be kept far from power.

I see Clinton as someone who is trapped inside the dynamics of this seriously deranged politics qua political process. I don’t see her as entirely blameless. Politicians like Obama and either Clinton, at the top of the political order, are masters (keeping in mind that there are many masters working to some extent in opposition to one another as rivals, allies, enemies and so on) of the process and create the process by the exercise of their mastery, as much as they are mastered by it. I see them as trapped by the process they have helped (more than a little opportunistically) to create, but trapped as Dr Frankenstein is by his Creature.

Clinton must struggle with the ethical contradictions of governance at the highest levels of leadership: she must, in the exercise of power in office and out, practice the political art of the possible in relation to crafting policy that will be “good” in the sense of passably effective and efficient — this may involve a high degree of foresightful wonkery or a lethally ruthless statesmanship, depending upon circumstances. Beside this business of making the great machinery of the state lumber forward, she must strive to appear “good”, like Machiavelli’s Prince, even while playing an amoral game of real politick, gathering and shepherding a complex coalition of allies, supporters, donors and cooperative enemies.

Machiavelli, when he was considering the Princely business of appearing “good”, was contending with the hypocrisies and impossible idealism of authoritarian Catholic morality. He barely connected with anything that we would recognize as democratic Public Opinion and could scarcely conceive of what Ivy Lee or Edward Bernays, let alone Fox News, Vox and the world wide web might do to politics.

We are trapped, just as Clinton is trapped, in the vast communication nightmare of surrealistic news and opinion washing in upon us in a tide that never ebbs. We are trapped by the politics of media “gotchas” and Kinsley Gaffes (A Kinsley gaffe occurs when a political gaffe reveals some truth that a politician did not intend to admit.)

I don’t think Clinton lacks a moral sense. What I think is that Clinton’s moral sense is exhausted calculating what to say or do within the parameters of media-synthesized conventional wisdom policed by people who are themselves exhausted trying to manage it. Matt Lauer’s interview with Clinton was notorious for the relentless and clueless questioning about the email server, although I, personally, was shocked when he asked her a question that seemed premised on the idea that veterans should be offended by admitting the Iraq War was a mistake.

I would think it is easy to see that the media circus is out of control, especially when a clown like Trump graduates from The Apprentice to the Republican nomination. YMMV, but I think this is a serious problem that goes beyond vividly imagined sepia-toned parodies of Trump’s candidacy as the second coming of Mussolini.

While we’re getting ourselves agitated over Trump’s racism or threats to bar Muslims from entry, apparently the Military-Industrial Complex, left on autopilot, is re-designing the nation’s nuclear arsenal to make the outbreak of nuclear war far more likely. And, the closest Clinton gets to a comment, campaign commitment or public discussion, let alone an exercise of power, is a PR “leak”!!!

The chaotic civil war in Syria and Iraq seems like another example where the U.S. is having a hard time “thinking” things thru realistically. Clinton offered up a sound-bite last year, saying that she favored imposing a “no-fly” zone, which was exposed as kind of crazy idea, given that the Russians as well as Assad’s government are the ones flying, not to mention the recent experience with a no-fly zone in Libya. One interpretation is she’s stupid and vicious as a badge of class honor, blissfully consistent with the bloodthirsty record of Madeleine Albright and Henry Kissinger. Unfortunately, that might be true, though I think if it is true, it is more likely a product of being caught up in the amoral bubble of political and media process that has enveloped the whole foreign policy establishment than any personal psychopathy. What’s most alarming to me is that we cannot count on personal character to put the brakes on that process, which is now the process of governance. I am writing now of the process of governance by public relations that was has been exposed a bit in profiles of the Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, Ben Rhodes.

In Syria, it has become almost comical, if you can overlook the bodies piling up, as the U.S. has sought a the mythical unicorn of Syrian Moderate Democrats whom the Pentagon or the CIA can advise, train and arm. This is foreign policy by PR narrative and it is insanely unrealistic. But, our politics is trapped in it, and, worse, policy is trapped in it. Layer after layer of b.s. have piled up obscuring U.S. interests and practical options. Recently, U.S. forces supporting the Turks have come dangerously close to blowing up U.S. forces supporting the Kurds. When you find yourself on opposing sides of a civil war like Charles I you may be in the process of losing your head. Some of the worst elements opposing Assad have been engaged in a transparent re-branding exercise aimed at garnering U.S. aid. And, U.S. diplomats and media face the high challenge of explaining why the U.S. supports Saudi Arabia in Yemen.

But, hey, Clinton will get Robert Kagan’s vote and a better tomorrow is only a Friedman unit away, so it is all good.

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merian 10.02.16 at 8:55 pm

Rich Puchalsky #323 and ff.

Believe it or not, …

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

… many strands of conservatism are / were critical of capitalism. If you view conservatism as wanting to preserve or reinstate a kind of aristocracy, it’s pretty easy to see why.

Current 21st century aristocracies appear to be based mostly on accumulation of wealth through industrialism or, more recently, success in the IT start-up microcosm. I can’t think of many examples of what you’re saying that would be relevant today other than a local land owner in rural England or so who may be behaving in the way I described (offering an overlap between left-wing eco-conservationist goals and his or her own conception of genteel stewardship of nature). Or maybe the odd party that sprang up in France around 2000 I think, called Chasse, Pêche, Nature et Traditions. They snagged a surprise surge in some European Parliament election before disappearing again. My guess is that most of their voters now follow Le Pen. (There also was a short-lived center-right ecologic movement led by Corinne Lepage, who started out as a Gaullist (and minister of the environment, well, after being an environmental lawyer), then tried to go alone for a moment, and then joined Bayrou’s centrists. This one, however, doesn’t offer any capitalism critique.)

The Protestant Ethic notwithstanding, there is no religion I’m aware of that says that poor people are lazy and getting help they don’t deserve, so why don’t we just call this a cultural value.

I don’t agree with stuffing the whole topic of the Prosperity Gospel under “Protestant Work Ethic”. There are other related avatars of Puritanism as well.

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Rich Puchalsky 10.02.16 at 9:04 pm

BW: “I am a little disturbed by the idea of leaving the impression that I think Hillary Clinton is “evil”. What I think is that American politics in general is not generating realistic, adaptive governance.”

The second can only be understood as the first. I regularly run into this kind of thing on CT.

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Lupita 10.02.16 at 9:18 pm

@ bruce wilder

I see them as trapped by the process they have helped (more than a little opportunistically) to create, but trapped as Dr Frankenstein is by his Creature.

Which means that the people need a pitchfork. Enter Trump.

The establishment’s opinion that Trump is unfit for the presidency does not serve its intended purpose, to save the Creature, any more than if Dr Frankenstein had voiced his opinion that the people’s pitchforks were too pointy and sturdy. I think even the elite is beginning to realize that the experiment failed.

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kidneystones 10.02.16 at 9:24 pm

@328 stevenjohnson and Peter T cover the details. As an outsider supportive of negotiated settlements in all cases, rather than unilateral military action and violent regime change, I’m interested principally in ensuring that partisan political preferences do not obscure the historical record. Bluntly put, dictators routinely abuse bomb their own civilians as the ‘need’ arises. Nor is the US the only state actor keen to profit in the broadest sense of the term from political division.

The UN was formed, in large part, to provide a forum/mechanism for peaceful conflict resolution. Each time state actors such as Russia, China, the US, France, and the UK either bypass the UN, or use the UN to sanction attacks by larger states on smaller states, the entire edifice becomes a little weaker.

Hillary is not the only individual with Libyan and Syrian blood on her hands. She’s simply the only individual directly involved in Iraq, Libya, and Syria running to the 45th president of the US.

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bruce wilder 10.02.16 at 9:54 pm

Rich Puchalsky @ 334

People are in information overload most of the time, and where politics are concerned, they really just want to know who to root for. They ask, “who is the good guy? who is the bad guy?” “Whose right?” “What should be done?” And, people like the opinions they have, whatever those opinions may be; they use their political opinions to feed their sense of self-esteem and social belonging, for better and for worse.

I have some friends, who are really into a particular sport as fans, not participants. One guy knows everything about baseball. It is fun to watch a game with him, because he knows when someone is about to try to steal a base and stuff like that and he can explain the manager’s strategy and has gossip about the players careers and personal lives. And, apparently, he has an encyclopedic knowledge of baseball history — appears to, anyway: what dramatic thing happened in game 3 of the 1967 World Series and so on and exactly why everyone hated Ty Cobb.

No one like that shows up at CT to talk politics. Maybe it is just as well. Sports guys can wield that knowledge and remain affable, but political guys tend to be arrogant and off-putting. But, I do think we could use more of that spirit sometimes.

I was thinking about what a brilliant innovation the Clinton Foundation is, how well it is designed to solve the problems of Machiavelli’s Prince. But, we would struggle to discuss it in those terms; the partisan contest means that the CF is either horribly corrupt or prosaically innocent. The pressure to evaluate it is so high, that seeing the functional details is hard. I’ve seen some articles that attempt to understand the CF as a means to the political ambitions of the Clintons, but they seldom grasp the awesome accomplishment it is in ways that also fully understand why enemies of the Clintons are keen to attack it and why it so reliably produces the neoliberal pablum that Thomas Franks despises. If we could imagine a Marx tackling the CF as a vehicle of class interest, that would be pretty interesting.

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merian 10.02.16 at 10:00 pm

[Misformated the HTML tags in the previous comment — you can figure it out.]

When it comes to foreign policy the reason I say little is that I consider myself intellectually under-resourced. I’ve written here before about how no war initiated by the US or NATO during my lifetime appears to have left behind a peaceful stable region, with the most (to me) salient exception being one that, unfortunately, may have influenced Hillary Clinton’s thinking, given that as the spouse of the then-commander-in-chief she was closer to it than most everyone. Much of what the more nuanced posts here say fits with, for example this NYT article on Libya and Clinton — which neither spares nor demonises her role.

It’s the wider role of the US that would need debate, and this debate isn’t happening. (I agree with Bruce Wilder’s “American politics in general is not generating realistic, adaptive governance”.) Debates about many aspects of domestic politics (taxation, government investment, education, health care, policing and inequality) are taking place. A citizen can find narratives that at least lead from one end of a problem to another, and evaluate them, leaving aside for the moment their often overly partisan and manipulative character. But for war? It’s all piecemeal, and judgements come out as lurid and unsubtle. Maybe not wrong, for many of them, but I resist the simple explanation that imperialism is just about individuals being evil.

How to get to even the beginning of a more substantive and wider debate, I don’t know. Because yes, right now in the US, where the notion of being the greatest democracy or country in existence is fed to kids with their breakfast cereal and even pre-teen team sports games are imbued with patriotic ritual, veterans will indeed feel slighted if you say that the Iran war was a mistake. Have any of you ever tried? And I understand why. Few want to be told by their bosses that the suffering their experienced or caused was, indeed, senseless, even if they know it in their hearts. In this context, I came across this piece in the New Yorker (or rather, the podcast interview with its author, which covers pretty much the same ground) this morning. I’m not posting it because it’s outspokenly pro-Clinton (which it is), but because of the theme of taking the moral weight of waging war seriously, and starting to appreciate it in its whole messy and painful complexity.

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RichardM 10.02.16 at 10:02 pm

> Omega Centauri: “I think one of those “values” is disgust at what they see as lazy people getting help they don’t deserve.”

Hence (Bill) Clinton’s welfare reforms, and the whole distinction between neoliberalism and older US liberalism (aka social democracy).

As (Hillary) Clinton illustrates, the people who were around then are generally not dead yet. If you are looking for the economic determinants of values expressed by Trump voters, anything that happened in the last 25 years should be excluded from the search as not simply having a possible causal connection.

Time’s inexorable arrow means that today’s voters are driven by the tax, welfare and crime situation in the 70/80s. Today’s facts will effect the voters of 2030 at the earliest.

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JimV 10.02.16 at 11:11 pm

Bruce Wilder: false impression corrected. Thank you.

A friend of mine at work, an excellent, very innovative and hard-working engineer, once said to me in a lunch-time casual conversation, “Why doesn’t the USA send out people to other countries to explain our form of government so they can copy it?” I looked at him in astonishment. That attitude seems to be taught by most of our schools and churches, starting at a young age.

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bruce wilder 10.03.16 at 12:38 am

Why doesn’t the USA send out people to other countries to explain our form of government?

Because no one here in the USA understands it?

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Peter T 10.03.16 at 2:46 am

@320: “Whatever the merits of their individual stances, there is no reason to suppose that either Obama or Hillary can exert more than loose control over this mess”

To clarify – the mess referred to is the US administration (although Syria/Iraq is also a mess amenable to no more than loose control).

I know from experience that even in the Australian federal bureaucracy, which is orders of magnitude tighter than the US counterpart, explicit government policy can be defied or ignored for considerable periods of time. And this where the legal constraints on the executive are minimal and there only 5-6 layers between the Prime Minister and the front line. My experience with US agencies is that defiance or ignorance was not only possible but routine.

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likbez 10.03.16 at 3:13 am

kidneystones,

Thank you for your insightful comments.
@336
“Hillary is not the only individual with Libyan and Syrian blood on her hands. She’s simply the only individual directly involved in Iraq, Libya, and Syria running to the 45th president of the US.”

Very true. The danger of Hillary is the danger of yet another neocon administration in power for the next four years. We probably need to think in term of Cheney and Rumsfeld, because this is the policies that Hillary will bring to the table.

But I think it is a mistake to view Syria regime change actions of US neocons in isolation from the same actions in Ukraine. Those are closely interconnected events.

And Nuland action in Ukraine for the installation of far right nationalist regime (and virtual occupation of the rest of Ukraine by Western Ukrainian nationalists) virtually guarantee economic and military alliance of China and Russia. Russia will not forget and will not forgive Nuland’s valiant efforts of installing far right nationalists in Kiev instead of corrupt Yanukovich regime, despite the fact that they were not very sympathetic to Yanukovich (and refused to play the card of “legitimate president in exile”, which they easily can making US position in Kiev untenable).

I think that experience with US neocons in Ukraine also makes Russia position on Syria quite different and less accommodating for the US neoliberal empire expansion projects.

IMHO with the level of dysfunction of Obama administration there is some level of threat of direct military confrontation in case one of three competing arms of US government overstep the boundaries. Quite possible in case of CIA and supported by them al Qaeda affiliated groups (which are mercilessly wiped out by Syrians army), probably less possible for Pentagon with their Kurds militia.

And I think that any direct confrontation in Syria will automatically lead to confrontation in Ukraine, were large part of Eastern regions might greet Russians as liberators.

If you add to China-Russia alliance cemented by events in Ukraine Pakistan, where anti-American feelings are also quite strong you can see the net result of Barack foreign policy efforts.

Actually I think that one on key ideas of Trump foreign policy agenda is to reverse this alliance and split Russia from China by treating it differently then Obama administration (bad cop, good cop approach).

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LFC 10.03.16 at 3:34 am

I’m starting to believe that there may be a Putin troll operation and that with the commenter Ze K gone, the operation has sent commenter likbez to the Crooked Timber plate as pinch-hitter. (Sorry for the baseball metaphor. Turning off computer now.)

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bruce wilder 10.03.16 at 5:32 am

Peter T @ 342:

I would not blame the bureaucracy before the leadership. The resistance from below is mild, even healthy. The palsy of the will may be more political than personal, being a matter of weak coalitions, but it originates at the top.

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ZM 10.03.16 at 7:17 am

likbez,

“IMHO with the level of dysfunction of Obama administration there is some level of threat of direct military confrontation in case one of three competing arms of US government overstep the boundaries. Quite possible in case of CIA and supported by them al Qaeda affiliated groups (which are mercilessly wiped out by Syrians army), probably less possible for Pentagon with their Kurds militia.
And I think that any direct confrontation in Syria will automatically lead to confrontation in Ukraine, were large part of Eastern regions might greet Russians as liberators.”

I don’t really understand Russian foreign policy at the moment.

I think the Obama foreign policy has been an improvement on the Bush government’s foreign policy, and Obama inherited a very bad situation if you look at him coming to the Presidency in 2008.

What does Russian foreign policy want now that the Cold War is over?

America power is on the decline with the rise of other countries, and Russian power is on the decline too. Both countries had a lot of power due to the Cold War after WWII ended and the lack of development in many countries, and Europe needing to rebuild so much after the war.

But why does Syria need to be a proxy war between America and Russia when the Cold War is over?

Someone from Afghanistan was telling me recently that in Afghanistan they consider they have had war ongoing for 50 years now, since they had the wars with Russia years ago, and then they have had the wars with America now, plus the country is riven by splits now after wars for so long.

The Middle East is going to need a lot of help to rebuild after these wars, they don’t need Russia and America fighting over power in the region.

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ZM 10.03.16 at 7:25 am

“Actually I think that one on key ideas of Trump foreign policy agenda is to reverse this alliance and split Russia from China by treating it differently then Obama administration (bad cop, good cop approach).”

Also, I live in Australia so we have more coverage of Asian politics, and Obama has been pretty good with China overall I think.

China got cross about the pivot to Asia, and gave The Philippines a very sharp warning in the official newspaper, and gave Australia a caution in the newspaper, since then its all gone reasonably well I think.

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Rich Puchalsky 10.03.16 at 12:51 pm

Ah, foreign policy. I think that LFC should consider that while some commenter may well be a Putin troll operation, the style is pretty much indistinguishable from strongly held local ethnic commitments, and LFC’s own writing sounds similarly weird and overcommitted to someone who doesn’t share LFC’s assumptions.

I’ll write some more about populism. One of the things that Lupita likes to point out is how strange it is that somehow Americans are the decider of military intervention everywhere (LFC again) and how American exceptionalism is part of our imperial setup. One of the things that people forget about populism is that it’s generally a revolt against that — Americans may like empire, but for the people who actually have to fight, very few of them really like being foot soldiers for empire. Left agitation in the early part of the 20th century and in the 60s was in large part anti-war agitation, and it was one of the main reasons why the government actually crushed left organizations. One of the main reasons why you can tell that HRC supporters are not really on the left in any important sense is the easy way that they switched from opposing Bush’s war to approving of Democratic “humanitarian” wars.

So why should we have to care about any of this foreign policy nonsense? What critical interest does any American have in Asia, Ukraine, etc.? The vast and lofty left sentiments that we are citizens of the world and that an injury to one is an injury to everyone — do these have any meaning outside of an imperial context?

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ZM 10.03.16 at 1:18 pm

Rich Puchalsky,

To be honest I think humanitarian interventions are sometimes necessary and warranted.

But I wish there was some sort of international protocol about it. The middle east wars are a big mess, and conflict just keeps increasing in the region.

I also don’t think this is good for America at home either.

Wars like this change the country at home not just the soldiers or the countries where the fighting is.

America needs to sort out its foreign policy now the Cold War is over, just like Russia does.

At the end of the Cold War I remember people thought there wouldn’t be anymore conflicts ever sort of, then there was the first Gulf War which had been in the pipelines earlier since the Australian former defence minister Kim Beazley wrote an article I read about how he got talked into supporting American intervention in the Middle East ages before hand, not realising what he was committing Australia to in the conversation.

But then there was Bosnia and Rwanda as well, and there are more conflicts.

The international community can’t just wash its hands of countries where they don’t have stability and peace and security, but the current way isn’t working very well.

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likbez 10.03.16 at 1:32 pm

ZM,

“I don’t really understand Russian foreign policy at the moment. “

Russian foreign policy IMHO is mostly reactive and defensive. It is directed mainly on preservation of (currently rapidly shrinking) Russia’s economic and political and cultural influence in xUSSR space.

Obama administration was very aggressive toward Russia and attempted to implement “regime change” in 2011-2012 to prevent Putin re-election (so called “White revolution” with McFaul as the key player and the network on NGO as the coordination / training / recruiting / propaganda centers). This attempt to stage a “color revolution” in Russia backfired making Russian political establishment more hostile to the USA. It also led to expulsion of several NGO from Russia. Later events in Ukraine led to deterioration of political standing of Russian neoliberals as a political force. They lost all the legitimacy among the population and now viewed by-and-large as US stooges.

The USA also try to play Islamic insurgence card via proxies and hurt economics of Russia via sanctions and low oil prices (which simultaneously decimated US own shale/LTO oil industry). Obama actually bragged about the latter.

My impression is that this is just a part of the more general plan of expansion of global neoliberal empire led by the USA, enforcing neoliberal globalization and crushing all opposing regimes (including “resource nationalists” like Russia ) that Obama administration is hell bent on (neocon vision of “Pax Americana”). Obama (or, more correctly, forces behind him) proved to be a staunch neoliberal (and neocon) on par with Bush II and Bill Clinton and he essentially continued Bush II “muscular” foreign policy.

Hillary as the Secretary of State was even more jingoistic neocon then Obama and has during her term in the office an outsize influence on the US foreign policy including the attempt to stage a “white revolution” in Russia in which State Department played an outsize role, essentially taking many functions formerly performed by CIA.

I think that Russia foreign policy can be understood as not always successful attempts to counter the attempts of the USA to subdue it and survive in the situation when then the major power using affiliated with it states tries to deny its sovereignty and wants to convert into vassal state (and Russia were the US vassal under Yeltsin regime), or, if possible, to dismember it into smaller and weaker states using the rising wave of nationalism in the regions.

It also tried to oppose the “encirclement” — the creation of the belt of hostile states around Russia with US or NATO forces/bases — Ukraine is just the most recent example of this policy. Missile defense bases in Rumania and Poland belong to the same script. Actually the US Department of Defense on those issues has its own outsize influence on the US foreign policy and works in close coordination with the State Department (alliance started under Bush II and forged under Hillary Clinton).

As Russophobia replaced anti-Semitism for the US elite so I see nothing good for Russia in this respect in the future.

So the rearmament attempts and the attempts to develop alternatives to Western strategic products and services (which at any time can be included under sanctions) as well as more deep political and military alliance with China might well be their only options.

But China has its own geopolitical aspirations in xUSSR region and wants to play a leading role in this alliance using Russia’s difficult situation for its own advantage.

So Russian situation is not enviable and might soon became worse, in Hilary is elected.

Moreover, Putin in not eternal, and at some point needs to leave his position and that, taking into account the amount of power he concentrated in his hands, might create the leadership vacuum that will be very dangerous taking into consideration the level of hostility of the USA. Coming to power of more nationalistically oriented politicians on the wave of anti-American sentiments produced by sanctions also can’t be excluded.

I am not a specialist in Russian affairs, so please take those considerations with a grain of salt.

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Rich Puchalsky 10.03.16 at 1:39 pm

ZM: “But I wish there was some sort of international protocol about it.”

There was supposed to be one — the whole apparatus of U.N. intervention. We’ve seen how that played out.

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Anarcissie 10.03.16 at 1:59 pm

Rich Puchalsky 10.03.16 at 12:51 pm @ 348:
‘So why should we have to care about any of this foreign policy nonsense? What critical interest does any American have in Asia, Ukraine, etc.? The vast and lofty left sentiments that we are citizens of the world and that an injury to one is an injury to everyone — do these have any meaning outside of an imperial context?’

The sentiments have certainly been a useful pretext for imperial interventions, going well beyond ‘interest’ to intimations of existential crisis, etc. I remember when, if we did not ‘help’ the Vietnamese by bombing them back into the Stone Age, bad people from there were going to invade California. So it was both to ‘our’ interest and theirs to kill millions of them. You see the same thinking in Syria, Libya, Iraq, Serbia, Panama, and the rest of the list.

But on the other side, at the business end of the stick:

Cet animal est très méchant;
Quand on l’attaque, il se défend.

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ZM 10.03.16 at 2:05 pm

likbez,

I am from Australia and we are a small country and not very powerful.

I don’t even understand though with the end of the Cold War what America or Russia even want.

I can understand why you need humanitarian interventions and things like that.

I understand the need for international cooperation on things like climate change, or refugees and things like that, and why one country would want to influence another country.

I understand countries want to trade with other countries, or want to have a good economy nationally so there isn’t unemployment or poverty.

But it doesn’t seem like America and Russia are doing anything apart from power games, now the Cold War is over.

Both countries have strategies for gaining power etc, but what for?

No one wants one country to rule the world as if its Lord Of The Rings, apart from totalitarian fantasists.

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Rich Puchalsky 10.03.16 at 2:14 pm

“No one wants one country to rule the world as if its Lord Of The Rings”

Oh, come on. I’d completely vote for Sauron. That all-seeing eye would spy out all foreign armies and spies, except for hobbits of course. Regretfully, in our own defense, we’d have to bomb all hobbit terrorist villages.

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ZM 10.03.16 at 2:28 pm

Well with technology there is the possibility of that, Australia is part of the Five Eyes alliance with the USA, which is where the english speaking countries all share intelligence, then there is a larger group that gets a bit less intelligence, and maybe others like an onion or something.

But its not really what anyone hardly wants as far as I can tell.

I had no idea there even was that much information collected by the government on people until the Snowdon whistleblower revelations about the NSA.

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Will G-R 10.03.16 at 2:34 pm

Rich @ 348: “I think that LFC should consider that while some commenter may well be a Putin troll operation, the style is pretty much indistinguishable from strongly held local ethnic commitments, and LFC’s own writing sounds similarly weird and overcommitted to someone who doesn’t share LFC’s assumptions.”

To me this is the wierdest and most hypocritical aspect of the whole “Putin stooge!” narrative, since part of the core ethos of US-aligned liberal discourse in settings like this is precisely a willingness and eagerness to voluntarily assume the role of stooge for whatever ruling-class figure one has decided to back. Look at the core message liberals here seem to be trumpeting: we may not like the faction of the ruling class embodied in someone like Hillary Clinton, but since we’ve decided to back this faction over another faction we consider worse, we’ll suspend our earnest search for truth and understanding so we can add our voices into the fight. (“We know Hillary is bad, but save it for after Trump!”) There’s probably a lot more that can be said about this, but at least as far as the non-ruling-class public is concerned, what Americans call “partisanship” in this Inside-Baseball sense can be read as a political analogue of the apocryphal Steinbeck line about temporarily embarrassed millionaires, absurdly overinflating the importance of their own little Machiavellian calculations to maintain a pathetically optimistic political self-image, not as the depoliticized and socially atomized ideological consumers they actually are, but as temporarily embarrassed technocratic insiders.

But the kicker re: Putin is that somehow, these same liberals can’t fathom the idea that ordinary Russians might be gripped by precisely the same kind of dynamic (“we know Putin is bad but save it for after Syria!”) especially when it comes to nationalist fervor stirred up by global military/economic power struggles. And to the extent that they see such people not as the Russian ideological equivalents of themselves but as literal agents of the Kremlin, precisely the way one might imagine all the Hillary defenders on this thread as COINTELPRO plants and/or paid Clinton campaign PR operatives, they’re able to see this obsequious defense of ruling-class power for the creepy authoritarian servility it is. One could call the double standards closed-minded or even xenophobic, but I’ll settle for just calling it bizarre.

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bruce wilder 10.03.16 at 2:51 pm

American foreign policy has long been the special province of deeply interested portions of the elite, which were allowed to use U.S. naval and military power without paying for it. Early in the 19th century, it was Yankee traders in China and South America paddling their boats in the British Empire’s wake. The Americans were there, junior partners and useful instruments of British foreign policy: Monroe Doctrine, founding Hong Kong, opening Japan and Korea, disciplining unruly or bankrupt Latin American states. The U.S. nearly matched the British in the race to build Dreadnoughts before the First World War, proclaimed the Open Door in China, neutralized the German Navy in Morocco and in the Venezuela Crisis, and finally settled the First World War.

Since the First World War, the U.S. has been the hegemon, sponsoring a world order on liberal principles in theory and making the world safe for an often rapacious commercial order in practice. Popular disinterest at home has preserved the tradition of hijacking the U.S. military for racketeering abroad, but the privatizing of the military-industrial complex has converted it from sideline into a reason for being: arms sales follow a Says Law that motivates perpetual war as a marketing tool.

ZM is ridiculously wrong about one thing: “No one wants one country to rule the world” I think there is actually quite a demand for exactly that. That the U.S. capacity to satisfy that demand is diminishing rapidly is creating a gathering world crisis.

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bruce wilder 10.03.16 at 3:25 pm

Will G-R: liberals can’t fathom the idea that ordinary Russians might be gripped by precisely the same kind of dynamic (“we know Putin is bad but save it for after Syria!”)

I’m not sure that’s the relevant analogue.

Americans seem to have some difficulty understanding just how competent Putin has been. Putin is a consummately gifted gambler, who has played a weak hand aggressively at home and abroad. He is popular in Russia, because he has been successful by being phenomenally good at his job — so good that any Russian who isn’t dead stupid is worried about what comes after.

Obama, the most gifted politician I’ve seen in my lifetime, has played his hand very conservatively. I rail against him, because I think he should have taken much bigger chances on a radical reform agenda, using the crisis he was gifted to take apart the oligarchies choking the American political economy. But, he chose not to play the game at that level of risk, and I think history will judge him to be weak because of the consequences, though he has not been politically weak and he has been remarkably successful in terms of his chosen agenda.

Both Americans and Russians, I think, are inclined to see their roles in the world as more benign than they are. The Americans, though, have better PR and a lot of people abroad still want to believe. No one believes the Russians are a benign force, especially in Russia’s Near Abroad.

The scary thing is that Americans have been propagandized into thinking Clinton is competent, that she will be the adult in the room, the experienced leader who will take the call at 3 am (and not tweet out some link to a porn tape).

In fact, Clinton has shown a number of indications that she is not competent at all, that she is, unlike Obama, going to unleash the U.S. foreign policy establishment and military-industrial complex in all its decadent schizophrenia without any governor or restraint at all.

That Clinton is so cavalier about making Putin the scapegoat for her email problems is an early indication that she doesn’t know what she is doing.

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Rich Puchalsky 10.03.16 at 3:26 pm

I know that it’s a digression, but I really should write some more about hobbits. The one thing that would shake my convictions as an anarchist would be a political leader who promises to wipe out their barbaric “mathom culture”.

First of all, they never can get ahead economically because of this premodern habit of putting their economic surplus into items that they pass around aimlessly. And the way they waste food — has anyone seen the depravity of their so-called wedding parties? I know that drones are a harsh remedy, but really.

And of course the feminist case for bombing hobbits is as strong as it ever was. Has anyone even heard of a female hobbit? Of course you haven’t, because they keep them in those primitive holes, and they only appear in brief cameos when the hobbits have to conceal their unadmitted homosocial orientation. Strong hobbit women will be much better off if we kill the men keeping them down as well as some of their children.

And lastly, genocide. Are their even any members of other racial groups living in the Shire? Where did they all go? Hobbit society is deeply racist, and those holes are dumping groups for bodies as well as potential storehouses for chemical weapons. I know that some people say that we shouldn’t bomb them, but that’s only because those people can’t even imagine what it’s like not to have the privilege that they do.

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Rich Puchalsky 10.03.16 at 3:33 pm

Looking back over my last comment, I don’t want it to seem as if we plan to bomb hobbit society and then not build it back up. We should help them economically develop their society afterwards, paint some schools and build some mills and so on.

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Will G-R 10.03.16 at 3:44 pm

Book-Saruman did nothing wrong! Vote for book-Saruman! You don’t want four years of Sauron in the Oval Office, do you?

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likbez 10.03.16 at 3:48 pm

Bruce,

@ 358
“ZM is ridiculously wrong about one thing: “No one wants one country to rule the world” I think there is actually quite a demand for exactly that. That the U.S. capacity to satisfy that demand is diminishing rapidly is creating a gathering world crisis.”

This line of thinking is very close to Professor Bacevich concept of “New American Militarism”. See for example his book “Washington Rules” (2010). A good synopsis by Mark K. Jensen can be found at https://www.scribd.com/document/38192715/Bacevich-Washington-Rules-2010-Synopsis

=== quote ===

Ch. 1: The Advent of Semiwar.

As president, Barack Obama’s efforts to change the U.S.’s exercise of power “have seldom risen above the cosmetic”(20). He made clear he subscribes to the “catechism of American statecraft,” viz. that 1) the world must be organized, 2)only the U.S. can do it, 3) this includes dictating principles, and 4) not to accept this is to be a rogue or a recalcitrant (20-21).

It follows that the U.S. need not conform to the norms it sets for others and that it should maintain a worldwide network of bases (22-23).

Imagine if China acted in a comparable manner (23-25). The extraordinary American military posture in the world (25-27). To call this into question puts one beyond the pale(27). James Forrestal called this a permanent condition of semiwar, requiring high levels of military spending(27-28).

American citizens are not supposed to concern themselves with it (29-30). As to how this came about, the “standard story line” presents as the result of the decisions of a “succession of presidential administrations,” though this conceals as much as it reveals (30-32).

Eisenhower’s 1961 Farewell Address on the “military-industrial complex” was a rare exception (32-34). More important than presidents were Allen Dulles [1893-1969] and Curtis Lemay [1906-1990] (34-36).

Bacevich attributes the vision for an American-dominated post-World War II world with the CIA playing an active role to the patrician Dulles (36-43). The development of the U.S. military into a force capable of dominating the world, especially in the area of strategic weapons, he attributes to the hard-bitten Curtis LeMay, organizer of the StrategicAir Command (SAC) (43-52). Dulles and LeMay shared devotion to country, ruthlessness, a certain recklessness (52-55). They exploited American anxieties and insecurities in yin (Dulles’s CIA) yang(LeMay’s SAC) fashion, leaving the mainstay of American military power, the U.S. Army, in a relatively weak position(55-58).

Ch. 2: Illusions of Flexibility and Control

Kennedy kept Dulles and LeMay to signal continuity, but there was a behind-the-scenes struggle led by Gen. Maxwell Taylor to reassert the role of the U.S. Army by expanding and modernizing conventional forces that was “simultaneously masked by, and captured in, the phrase flexible response ” (60; 59-63).
This agenda purported to aim at “resisting aggression” but really created new options for limited aggressive warfare by the U.S. (63-66).
McNamara engaged in a struggle with LeMay to control U.S. policy on nuclear weapons, but he embraced the need for redundancy based on a land-sea-air attack “triad” and LeMay et al. “got most of what they wanted” (66-72).
In the aftermath of the Bay of Pigs, Kennedy instituted the morally and legally “indefensible” Operation Mongoose,” in effect, a program of state-sponsored terrorism” against Cuba (80; 72-82 [but Bacevich is silent on its wilder elements, like Operation Northwoods]).

U.S. recklessness caused the Cuban Missile Crisis, and to his credit Kennedy acknowledged this (albeit privately) and “suspended the tradition” in defusing the crisis (82-87).

Bacevich rejects as a romantic delusion the view that in the aftermath of this crisis Kennedy turned against the military-industrial complex and the incipient Vietnam war and shows no interest in Kennedy’s assassination itself (87-92).

He sees a parallel between escalation in Vietnam and post-9/11 aggression as “fought to sustain the Washington consensus” (107; 92-107).

Ch. 3: The Credo Restored.

William Fulbright’s The Arrogance of Power (1966) urged a rethinking of the Washington rules (109-15). A radicalized David Shoup, a Medal of Honor winner and former commandant of the MarineCorps, argued in “The New American Militarism” (Atlantic, April 1969) that the U.S. had become “a militaristic and aggressive nation” (120; 115-21). The 1960s Zeitgeist shift made LeMay “an embarrassment, mocked and vilified rather than venerated,” which showed that the Washington rules had incurred serious damage in Vietnam; the Army was in dire shape (122; 121-27).

Yet astonishingly, in the subsequent decade the “sacred trinity” (cf. 11-15) was “fully restored” (127). As in post-1918 Germany, élites looked for scapegoats and worked to reverse “the war’s apparent verdict” (128). The Council on Foreign Relations 1976 volume entitled The Vietnam Legacy: The War, American Society, and the Future of American Foreign Policy is an expression of élite consensus that the Vietnam war was insignificant, an anomaly (129-34).

By 1980, Democrats and Republicans were again on the same page (134-36).Reagan’s election “sealed the triumph of Vietnam revisionism” (136; 136-38). And the end of the Cold War posed no challenge to the Washington rules, as Madeleine Albright’s pretentious arrogance exemplifies (138-45).

… … …

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stevenjohnson 10.03.16 at 3:55 pm

“In fact, Clinton has shown a number of indications that she is not competent at all, that she is, unlike Obama, going to unleash the U.S. foreign policy establishment and military-industrial complex in all its decadent schizophrenia without any governor or restraint at all.”

Backing away from openly bombing the Syrian government when the English PM couldn’t get the vote from Parliament is not restraint. Signing a booby trapped pact with the Iranian government which will not end sanctions is not restraint. Endorsing the Indian attack on Pakistan is not restraint. Endorsing the Saudi invasion of Yemen is not restraint. A trillion dollar upgrade of nuclear weapons is not restraint. Supporting IS all the time and bombing it some time is not restraint.

The raving chorus of criticism of Clinton’s foreign policy on ostensibly leftist grounds that falsifies the current state of affairs is viciously reactionary, especially when indissolubly mixed with openly reactionary criticisms. The falsification of what exactly is different about Trump’s candidacy is also part and parcel. It’s all very like the fake leftists who said defeating the Scottish referendum wasn’t an endorsement of English imperialism, then pretended to act surprised when the rightward surge they helped to build led to a racist campaign for Brexit.

Putin is weak. He sacrificed a struggle against fascism in Ukraine for a naval base, rather than call on popular support. Then he doubled down on another naval base in Syria, despite having no idea how to reach a solution. He can’t cope with the economic warfare the US is waging, he only tries to use simple repression of the population at large and an elaborate combination of select repression and appeasement of the oligarchs he ultimately serves. Putin is popular I think largely because he appears to be the human face of capitalism. He’s falsely sold himself as the corrective to Yeltsin, when in truth he is just the normalization of Yeltsinism. Yetltsin did the dirty work of attacking the people of Russia in the name of capitalist restoration. Now, Putin is just business as usual.

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Will G-R 10.03.16 at 4:06 pm

Bruce, I meant “bad” in a good/evil sense, not a competent/incompetent sense. Clinton partisans may be fairly unanimous in waxing rhapsodic about her competence, but plenty of them are willing to cop to her position as a defender of an ultimately evil form of ruling-class power, they simply think it shouldn’t be talked about (see Collin Street @ 184 for an exemplary specimen). It’s the insidious ideology of the Uncle Sam poster, where a slightly-less-evil form of ruling-class power needs you not just to passively submit to its dictates but to actively defend its position against its slightly-more-evil ideological enemies, even at the expense of your own independent moral compass and political thought. The point of this facade isn’t what the lemming-like hordes of Clinton defenders (or Putin defenders, if they’re Russian) are actually accomplishing, which is essentially nothing; the point is what they’re not accomplishing, which is any meaningfully subversive reflection about how ruling-class power works in general and how the governed classes might effectively counter it.

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bruce wilder 10.03.16 at 5:33 pm

Will G-R @ 364

I am with you completely on that much.

366

bruce wilder 10.03.16 at 5:58 pm

stevenjohnson @ 363: Putin is weak.

Russia is weak; Putin calculates.

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bruce wilder 10.03.16 at 6:00 pm

likbez @ 362

Thanks. I like Bacevich’s take.

368

bruce wilder 10.03.16 at 6:01 pm

I don’t think there’s any question that the U.S. has to take action on the Hobbit threat.

369

bruce wilder 10.03.16 at 6:12 pm

If you need an eloquent summary of how the dysfunction of the American political system has become manifest in a foreign policy of perpetual and costly failure.

370

Rich Puchalsky 10.03.16 at 7:31 pm

Will G-R: “The point of this facade isn’t what the lemming-like hordes of Clinton defenders (or Putin defenders, if they’re Russian) are actually accomplishing, which is essentially nothing; the point is what they’re not accomplishing, which is any meaningfully subversive reflection about how ruling-class power works in general and how the governed classes might effectively counter it.”

Not quite right, I think. First of all, for all extents and purposes they *are* the governing class, and they aren’t simply failing to be subversive, they are defending their class interest. I know that this will cue any number of remarks about how someone is a college professor and isn’t governing anything — as if someone in corporate upper management somewhere is really governing anything either — but what holds the neoliberal order in place is that it serves the interests of the managerial class, which includes professionals and other symbolic-manipulation people as its lower tier.

Second, I’m not sure about the merits of the whole Manufacturing Consent line of critique, but defending elite opinion as the only respectable opinion sort of is accomplishing something. Sure, individual votes are meaningless, and any one person’s contribution negligible. But there is a recurring trope of people wondering whether someone is a paid troll because people are actually paid — whether by David Brooks or by Putin — to do exactly this kind of thing. And they are paid to do it because it works, or at any rate people think that it works. Even better if people do it on a volunteer basis.

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Rich Puchalsky 10.03.16 at 7:52 pm

A side note: there was some conversation above about the interests of an aristocracy, which of course prompted the idea that the aristocracy is long gone. But meritocracy is a kind of aristocracy. Look at how much effort people put into ensuring that their children are high-status, degreed, good job holders just like themselves, and how successful that generally is. I’ll quote wiki: “One study […] found that of nine developed countries, the United States and United Kingdom had the lowest intergenerational vertical social mobility with about half of the advantages of having a parent with a high income passed on to the next generation.” That’s not perfect, but it’s getting better.

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AcademicLurker 10.03.16 at 8:16 pm

Rich@371:

The disinheritance of the Sackville-Bagginses is a clear example of how the elite classes maintain their hegemony in The Shire. Yet another reason why humanitarian bombing may be the only sensible solution to the hobbit question.

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Will G-R 10.03.16 at 9:33 pm

You’re right, Rich: to the extent that the people parroting this line are professional-class hangers-on of the global financial elite and neoliberalism serves their class interests (at least until academic/media sinecures are next in line for outsourcing), their aversion to subversive radical politics makes perfect sense as a simple matter of vested interest. But I like to think of my point as less Chomskian and more Žižekian, in that while Chomsky’s manufactured consent is presented as a simple way to cover other people’s interests with ideological mystification, Žižek’s fetishism (like Marx’s before him) is presented as a way for people to cover their own interests by imagining their mystification as itself a demystification. It’s not that professional-class liberals don’t realize the truth that they should be fighting against oppression — they do realize this, but it’s false realization concealing from them the deeper truth that they’re actually fighting for oppression.

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Peter T 10.03.16 at 11:44 pm

Adam Tooze in “1916” traces US hegemony back to that year, when the US elite realised that, first, the UK and France owed them so much that they could not afford an allied defeat, second that UK and French war orders (paid for by those loans) were vital to US industry and industrial profits and third, that, as the banker and munition supplier, they now had the leverage in negotiations over the shape of the post-war world. Fourteen Points, Dawes Plan and the rest follow on.

Trouble is, once you start on running the world, you have to keep going. There’s always some pesky hobbits somewhere making trouble, and Saruman eying your empire.

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stevenjohnson 10.04.16 at 12:16 am

Is Tooze’s “1916” known in the US as “The Deluge?”

Putin is a weak calculator. As near as I can tell, it’s because he can’t face reality, that his beloved capitalist Russia is a loser. And even more, that world capitalism is an innately crisis ridden system that blows up when profits are threatened, as eventually they always are. And that the US hegemony won’t conveniently implode a la Lupita, won’t chicken out, won’t reform, won’t play nice and couldn’t go away even if it wanted to. It’s like Xi imagining capitalist restoration will generate a vast middle class that will keep him in power as China grows up and up. But capitalism today restricts growth to the profitable, which means it will fail him just as badly as it does Putin.

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Peter T 10.04.16 at 12:27 am

Is Tooze’s “1916” known in the US as “The Deluge?”

Yes

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LFC 10.04.16 at 1:21 am

just ran across this, for those who might be interested: Obama pres memorandum directing formation of interagency working group on ‘natl sec. implications of climate change’

http://go.wilsoncenter.org/AC0904MV008VFEL00D0z0zU

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LFC 10.04.16 at 2:29 am

stevenjohnson @363 refers to the Indian attack on Pakistan and is critical of what he says is US endorsement of the action.

These were “surgical strikes,” in India’s phrase, across the Line of Control in Kashmir aimed at bases of various groups whose presence Pakistan seems either to tolerate or actively support, and is further described by NYT as being “in retaliation for two attacks this month on Indian positions, including one that killed 19 Indian soldiers.” The Obama admin response was to say that Pakistan shd get a handle on these groups that are operating from its territory. S. Rice apparently called her Indian counterpart; I’m not sure what’s so bad about that. The NYT piece quotes an Indian analyst as saying Modi has decided that this sort of action will not risk escalation, and since there apparently hasn’t been any (Pakistan’s response seems to be to deny that the strikes actually occurred), he wd seem to have been right in this case.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/30/world/asia/kashmir-india-pakistan.html?_r=0

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LFC 10.04.16 at 2:41 am

Afaict, neither HRC nor Trump has said much of anything about the worldwide network of U.S. bases. HRC doesn’t talk about (this aspect of) the U.S. global military footprint, and while Trump rambles on about making S Korea and Japan shoulder more (or all) of their own security (and ponders aloud whether it might be a good idea for both to acquire their own nuclear weapons), I haven’t heard him address the issue of bases: a question is whether Trump even knows that the base network exists.

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kidneystones 10.04.16 at 4:44 am

Whatever one thinks of Mitt Romney, he turned out to be a whole lot closer to right on Russia than ‘the 1980’s called and want their foreign policy back.’

Who, really, could have imagined that US ‘benevolent’ bombings would place Russian and US troops in close proximity once again, and that another Clinton would be play an instrumental role in this real-life game of chicken.

There does, indeed, seem to be little doubt that what happens in Syria will have consequences elsewhere in the Russian sphere where US and Russian interests collide.

I especially like stevensjohnson’s @363 and AcademicLurker’s @372.

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kidneystones 10.04.16 at 4:48 am

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Soru 10.04.16 at 11:21 am

Are the people joking about intervention in the Shire missing tha part of the books (cut from the film) where that happens?

Following a shift in geopolitics, a band of Gondorian mercenaries and tobacco smugglers with Elvish weapons overthrow a tradition of wizard-based government dating back millenia.

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Rich Puchalsky 10.04.16 at 11:29 am

Soru: “Are the people joking about intervention in the Shire missing tha part of the books (cut from the film) where that happens?”

me: “We should help them economically develop their society afterwards, paint some schools and *build some mills* and so on.”

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soru 10.04.16 at 12:01 pm

You seem to be confused; surely Saruman the White, who did the mill-building, was the legitimate ruler, with a clear mandate from the Council of Five? The Book of Westmarch talks of a White Wizard as the guardian of the Shire as far back as the First Age.

The narrative that there was a ‘spontaneous people’s uprising’ against him ignores the clear links between the ringleaders and Valinorian agents. Orcs and wizards have always ruled the Shire; the idea that hobbits could somehow ‘govern themselves’ is pure fantasy.

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ZM 10.04.16 at 12:10 pm

I don’t see how America could even govern the Hobbit Shire, when you can’t even manage standardised P-12 education in all of America consistently.

How can the Federal government of America hope to be in control of the whole world like Bruce Wilder suggests if you can’t even manage P-12 education and healthcare?

America doesn’t even have the federal government governing the whole country as much as the federal government in Australia governs all the Australian States.

You would take over the world, then set up Charter schools everywhere or something, and decentralise things.

What would even be the point of America taking over the world, when you decentralise everything?

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LFC 10.04.16 at 12:44 pm

Likbez @362 quotes a synopsis of the opening of a Bacevich bk:

As president, Barack Obama’s efforts to change the U.S.’s exercise of power “have seldom risen above the cosmetic”(20). He made clear he subscribes to the “catechism of American statecraft,” viz. that 1) the world must be organized, 2)only the U.S. can do it, 3) this includes dictating principles, and 4) not to accept this is to be a rogue or a recalcitrant (20-21).

At this level of generality, this is not that helpful. What does “the world must be organized” mean? What does “dictating principles” mean? And as far as “dictating principles” goes, some of the basic principles that “organize” the world are not dictated but are ones that virtually all countries/governments accept.

No one but the Indian government decides whether to launch ‘surgical strikes’ across the border w Pakistan. No other country dictates or controls the Indian government’s foreign policy. No one tells the Indian govt how much money to spend on arms purchases. And one cd substitute lot of other countries’ names in the previous sentences.

Powerful countries exercise influence over less-powerful ones, but the less powerful ones also have ways of exercising influence. And more powerful ones can decline to exercise real influence for political and other reasons. (E.g. the US govt has almost never conditioned, in any serious way, its mil. support of Israel, a big new package of which was just announced, on changes in Israeli policy on the I/P conflict.)

Btw if I were going to choose a bk on the US global posture to read during the election season, it wd prob be Posen’s Restraint rather than one of Bacevich’s. (Not that either has any esp. immediate relevance to what the 2 major candidates are saying, or not saying.)

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LFC 10.04.16 at 12:48 pm

R Puchalsky @348
One of the things that Lupita likes to point out is how strange it is that somehow Americans are the decider of military intervention everywhere (LFC again) and how American exceptionalism is part of our imperial setup.

I don’t know why the parenthetical reference to me is in that sentence, since I have never maintained, suggested, or even hinted that the US should be “the decider of military intervention everywhere.”

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LFC 10.04.16 at 12:50 pm

p.s. I’m also not a big fan of “American exceptionalism,” and if I wanted to take the time I could find comments of mine on previous CT threads in which I have said exactly that.

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Will G-R 10.04.16 at 1:41 pm

In all seriousness, Tolkien was a consummate reactionary and LotR is an allegorical defense of racism and imperialism on many levels — everything from the noble white monarch rallying “men of the West” to stand against the dark hordes of the East and South, to the depiction of preindustrial peasant life as an idyllic paradise disturbed not by Western nobles themselves but by the malign influence of Eastern/Southern foreigners, to details as small as the relationship between Frodo and Sam modeled on an ideal Victorian-era relationship between a lower-aristocratic British army officer and his commoner manservant. (Juxtapose the imagery this video at the timestamp side by side with this one.) As people of the left, we shouldn’t bring that particular story into our discourse as an allegory without this point being made explicitly at least once.

That said, when considering our doctrines on liberty, it’s clear that we may leave out of consideration those backward states of hobbit society in which the race itself may be considered as in its nonage. The early difficulties in the way of spontaneous progress are so great, that there is seldom any choice of means for overcoming them; and a ruler full of the spirit of improvement is warranted in the use of any expedients that will attain an end, perhaps otherwise unattainable. Despotism is a legitimate mode of government in dealing with hobbits, provided the end be their improvement, and the means justified by actually effecting that end. Liberty, as a principle, has no application to any state of things anterior to the time when hobbitkind have become capable of being improved by free and equal discussion. Until then, there is nothing for them but implicit obedience to a Sharkey or a Wormtongue, if they are so fortunate as to find one.

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stevenjohnson 10.04.16 at 1:42 pm

There’s nothing strange about the US deciding all those things. The US won WWII, and Yeltsin/Putin/the oligarchy/restorationist intelligentsia finished off the only other power with a claim to have won. What’s strange is the presumption that the verdicts of WWII will be reversed peacefully. That borders on downright crazy.

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William Timberman 10.04.16 at 1:50 pm

stevenjohnson @ 390

Given the alternatives, downright crazy, defined as you define it, doesn’t seem such a bad place to hang one’s hat. Unless one is Lupita, of course, who knows much better than we that there is no guaranteed safe haven for the well-meaning as long as they remain powerless. Scriptoria hidden in rural cave systems aren’t the option they once were.

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ZM 10.04.16 at 1:53 pm

The US didn’t win WW2, Germany and the Axis powers lost WW2.

The US didn’t get a big empire like German or Japan wanted, it just ended up with about 1/3 of the world being US allies during the Cold War, with the others being Russian allies or non aligned Third World countries.

England had a big empire before WW2, America didn’t even take it over, England just gave everyone independence.

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Anarcissie 10.04.16 at 2:56 pm

LFC 10.04.16 at 12:44 pm @ 386 —
You (and some others here) might want to read or recall Dean Acheson’s Present at the Creation to see where Bacevich’s catechism comes from.

ZM 10.04.16 at 1:53 pm —
In 1945, the US was basically the last man standing, with 50% of the world’s functioning industrial capacity, a monopoly on nuclear weapons, and a homeland virtually untouched by the wars. The leadership wisely declined to support any attempt to restore the British, French, Dutch, Belgian etc. empires because they had a new model in mind. Thus these empires had to be wound down and dissolved, and so they were.

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Will G-R 10.04.16 at 3:24 pm

Exactly, Anarcisse, and the new model was for exploited nations to be prostitutes instead of wives.

(I linked to that clip in an earlier thread but I just have to get out some admiration at Pontecorvo’s achievement here — literally the very scene after Brando’s character describes workers’ independence from slavery as a masquerade to allow for more convenient exploitation with no long-term obligations, he’s pitching national independence from direct foreign rule to the white Queimadan elites as if the purpose wasn’t to achieve precisely such a relationship on a national scale, with Britain as the master. And as a kicker, the racialized/gendered example he uses to illustrate the point underscores perfectly how racism and sexism ultimately persist because of their utility to capitalism and imperialism.)

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stevenjohnson 10.04.16 at 3:50 pm

Will G-R @389 Currently finishing Domenico Losurdo’s Liberalism: A Counter-history. Not quite sure why he didn’t just say that liberalism, like democracy in general, is a particular form of class rule, both domestically and abroad. But it lays out the tensions you talk about.

As to Lord of the Rings, the reactionary aspects are certainly there. The thing is, hobbits are anti-heroic. Full throated defenses demand conquering heroes. The emotional impact of the book really does depend upon the reader’s empathy with their fear, their need to be saved. On the other hand, even a vociferous critic like Michael Moorcock is totally into heroes who are heroic because they trample tedious morality underfoot, and who need no saving because they are winners. Even their damnation is gloriously cool. (Moorcock is an “anarchist” type, so maybe it’s unfair to others to compare to someone loopy/backward on principle.) Despite all the talk about the many, many imitations of Tolkien, this non-heroic aspect is almost never copied. It’s only the superificialities, elves, dragons, kings, etc. that they’re talking about. And there’s a reason the movies borrowed so liberally from Robert E. Howard when writing Strider/Aragorn/Elessar.

That said, I still fanwank that Sam and Frodo experimented together when they were young, and Sam was working for squire Bilbo who was going to set him up with a farm down the road.

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Anarcissie 10.04.16 at 4:15 pm

Will G-R 10.04.16 at 3:24 pm @ 394 —
The analogy between wives (in purdah, though) and prostitutes in business on the street it apt. The latter would have a certain freedom of life and action, like slaves or serfs being tuned loose to become the proles of a social order. They would still be subordinated to masters, but it would be harder for them to identify and act against their masters.

But as to racism and sexism, these mostly inhibit production and consumption, so, given its fetishization of production, capitalism should war against them. As Uncle Karl notes in the Manifesto, ‘Constant revolutionizing of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air….’ In short, capitalism destroys all culture and relations that it encounters and replaces them with its own culture and set of relations. The irrationalities of racial and sexual peculiarity and segregation are replaced by an atomized, degendered, deracinated, atomized population who relate to each other through money, markets, employment, consumption patterns. Or they did. Now that employment and production are in decline, something else may be happening.

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bruce wilder 10.04.16 at 4:36 pm

. . . as to racism and sexism, these mostly inhibit production and consumption, so, given its fetishization of production, capitalism should war against them. . . .

I’m not seeing the logic of why capitalism should war against racism and sexism as a general proposition. For a lengthy stage in the accumulation of capital, anything that segregates mass population from resources aids that accumulation and must be as likely an instrument as any aiding accumulation and concentration of capital.

If there’s something marvelous in the politics of capitalism, it is the mastery of that political jiu jitsu that permits capitalism to use racism and sexism as a means to its ends in one era and anti-racism and anti-sexism as a further means to its ends in a later era.

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Rich Puchalsky 10.04.16 at 4:50 pm

Ever since at least Moorcock, every vaguely leftist critic / SF writer has condemned Tolkien, followed by others who complicate that and find something of value, and so on in a never-ending cycle. At this point you read Tolkien for the same reason that even non-Christians once read the King James Bible: because his major works are like or not central to contemporary culture.

(The history of how geek culture became mainstream culture and how it still insists on its subcultural status even as it’s much more popular and catered to than anything else bears a striking similarity to how professionals think that they are part of the governed classes even as societal institutions are run by them and set up to favor them.)

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LFC 10.04.16 at 4:51 pm

@Anarcissie
The [U.S.] leadership wisely declined to support any attempt to restore the British, French, Dutch, Belgian etc. empires because they had a new model in mind. Thus these empires had to be wound down and dissolved, and so they were.

British and French decolonization(s) were different in that France fought two protracted wars (Indochina and Algeria) in an effort to hang on to its colonies, and in the former war (Indochina) France did so with US financial support (so much for your argument about the US dictating all outcomes). Britain, by contrast, left most (though not all — e.g. Kenya) of its colonies relatively peacefully.

Self-determination and national independence were powerful ideas, and many Western politicians, at least in certain countries, recognized that the “winds of change,” in Macmillan’s words, were blowing, and that they had best try to adjust and accommodate them.

A quote from R.H. Jackson, “The Weight of Ideas in Decolonization”[*]:

Something besides declining military power or economic disinterest on the part of the imperial powers was involved in decolonization — certainly British decolonization. The cabinet and colonial papers on which this judgment is based make reference not to any fundamental alteration in Britain’s military posture or economic interests but rather to “the large body of opinion in this country, in Africa, and internationally,” which by the late 1940s was already demanding “more rapid political, economic and social development” and by 1960 would accept nothing less than complete decolonization…. [There was] a fundamental shift of normative ideas and a corresponding change of mind on the part of most sovereign governments and the public opinion influencing them concerning the right to sovereign statehood.

[*] In Judith Goldstein and R.O. Keohane, eds., Ideas and Foreign Policy (1993), pp. 128-29.

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Ogden Wernstrom 10.04.16 at 5:11 pm

@389, Will G-R 10.04.16 at 1:41 pm:

In all seriousness, Tolkien was a consummate reactionary and LotR is an allegorical defense of racism and imperialism on many levels…

Once the US establishes American-Style Democracy in The Shire, a new timeline begins. First, the ethnic cleansing and establishment of enclaves for the survivors. After about a hundred years they’ll have to end slavery. About fifty years after that, they’ll have to let women vote.

Apologies to Vonnegut.

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Guy Harris 10.04.16 at 5:28 pm

The Lord of the Rings is history written by the winners.

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Anarcissie 10.04.16 at 5:30 pm

bruce wilder 10.04.16 at 4:36 pm @ 397 —
It seems to me capitalists mostly accept what they find and try to exploit it as it is. But capitalism — the interaction of capitalists with the proles and others and the non-human environment — has certain tendencies, and in them, the poor segregated Black sharecropper in Georgia living with 18th-century technology is less useful than the less poor, less segregated factory worker in Chicago living with — and making and buying — early 20th-century technology. So capitalism operated to destroy the racial caste system of Georgia, not as a moral cause, but because it impeded production-consumption. (Conceded, by maintaining a class system, as it must, capitalism continues to excite or regenerate racism, sexism, and other tribalisms.)

LFC 10.04.16 at 4:51 pm @ 399 —
As I said, or should have said, in the new model the center (the American state) was not to control other countries directly on the Roman model, but through integration and control of their economies and, to some extent, elite culture. Perhaps that is the Athenian model. That applied not only to the former colonies but to the former metropoles as well. They became generally satellites, but were allowed a certain amount of wandering from the true path, usually to their great disadvantage. Also, the execution of the new model was not perfect; a consistent approach to Indochina would have been to accept a Yugoslavian solution, but apparently some of the ruling class were too phobic about Communism to allow this to happen, so the US had to take over the wars there to keep them going. The same leadership was fine with independence for Algeria because the Algerians weren’t Communists.

I think the main idea operating on the British Empire was that they didn’t have the money to keep it going.

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bruce wilder 10.04.16 at 5:33 pm

Before the U.S. fully entered the war, FDR made the allies agree to the Atlantic Charter, which severely prejudiced claims of colonial domination in principle.

Britain had financed its war efforts by borrowing so extensively from India in particular that independence was practically the only way forward.

In French theory, Algeria was an integral part of metropolitan France. The French never did give up its domination of most other parts of francophone colonial West Africa, though the nominal terms of that domination changed a bit.

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bruce wilder 10.04.16 at 5:44 pm

The same leadership was fine with independence for Algeria because the Algerians weren’t Communists.

It also mattered a great deal that the core demanding French domination of Algeria was a widely despised reactionary rump of a piece with Vichy, the anti-dreyfusards and monarchism. DeGaulle’s brilliance in excising that festering lump of reaction from French politics cannot be exaggerated.

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bruce wilder 10.04.16 at 6:01 pm

Anarcissie @ 402

It seems like a prescription for ‘just-so’ stories all the way down — yet another reason I prefer not to use “capitalism” in explanations as either a social force or, worse, a locus of reified agency.

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Marc 10.04.16 at 6:07 pm

@389: The genius of literature is that it is what readers make of it, and LOTR is rich enough that it can be read in many ways. One of many failings of a politicized approach to art is that you can end up fixated on filtering it through your own prejudices.

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Anarcissie 10.04.16 at 6:19 pm

bruce wilder 10.04.16 at 6:01 pm @ 405 —
If I have a sheet of dry paper and ignite it at one corner, a fire is likely to result which will burn across the paper until it runs out of paper. Now, that is just a chemical reaction separable into the behavior of molecules acting without awareness or central direction, but the fire does appear to be construable as a discrete thing with a kind of agency. In fact, among those who deal with burning houses, all kinds of agencies, behaviors, and even intentions are imputed to fires by firefighters, that is, people who actually deal with such situations, presumably because it helps them perceive, think, and act. (If not they might lose their lives.) If you invalidate this kind of seeing and thinking, you might be missing something. I see capitalism as a thing at least in that sense.

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LFC 10.04.16 at 6:24 pm

There was evidently some considerable tension between FDR and Churchill during WW2 about the future of the Br. Empire (see synopses of Wm Roger Louis, Imperialism at Bay), though I’m sure the historiography has multiple views of this, as it does on every other question where historians can find lots of evidence in the archives (not all of which will usually pt in the same direction).

No doubt there were multiple reasons the British relinquished their empire, but I tend to think decolonization is one instance where ‘ideational’ accounts have some force, as one element, at any rate, of the explanation.

Re Algeria as integral part of metropolitan France: Ian Lustick (Unsettled States, Disputed Lands) argues that while this was the official position of the govt (and in contrast to Indochina, where France sent only career soldiers, hundreds of thousands of conscripts were sent to Algeria), it did not match “the commonsensical image the French had of their country in the mid-1950s….”

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Will G-R 10.04.16 at 6:52 pm

Bruce @ 397, there’s no reason capitalism has to stop using racism and sexism in today’s era, even as it also uses anti-racism and anti-sexism. Sure, First-World liberal professionals’ personal commitment to anti-racism and anti-sexism is central to their own justification for continuing to uphold an economic system that elevates them above working-class racists and sexists. This doesn’t mean that racism and sexism can’t still serve the interests of capitalism, especially when it comes to enlisting a racially privileged global subsection of workers to serve as capitalism’s (both ideological and literal) foot soldiers, a process that leads inexorably to fascism. Deep down in places the liberals don’t talk about at parties, they want the fascists on that wall, they need the fascists on that wall, etc. etc.

Rich @ 398, your point about the parallels between the self-conceived victimhood of geeks in pop culture and liberal professionals in capitalism is absolutely intriguing. I hadn’t thought about it that way before but the analogy makes all kinds of sense, right down to the ways in which both groups frame their identities against some superficially hyperbellicose manifestation of the dominant ethos (“jocks”/”alphas”/”Chads” for the geeks, “hicks”/”rednecks”/”deplorables” for the yuppies) even as they embrace the underlying toxic ideologies they’ve been socialized to regard as sacred. Again with the Žižekian point about fetishism as involving a fake demystification to avert the trauma of confronting one’s still thoroughly mystified worldview.

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Val 10.04.16 at 7:03 pm

The (mainly) non-violent Indian independence movement was active for about 30 years before Britain finally granted independence to India. Certainly WW2, left wing politics in Britain and US anti-colonialism (for what that was worth) had something to do with why a lot of former colonies were granted independence in the post WW2 period, but there is a fair bit of ‘history from the top’ going on here.

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Will G-R 10.04.16 at 7:05 pm

Also, as far as French imperialism, we shouldn’t forget that the immediate impetus for the Fifth Republic was an attempt by army officers in Algeria to stage a fascist coup along the lines of the Franco regime’s origin in the armies occupying Spanish Morocco, or that the only real reason this coup didn’t result in full-blown fascism was because the chosen figurehead De Gaulle turned out not to be interested. (At which point they tried to oust De Gaulle and do it again, and when that failed they just tried to assassinate him outright: speaking of Pontecorvo, Day of the Jackal is a sequel to Battle of Algiers.)

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LFC 10.04.16 at 9:02 pm

Val @410
yes (though the Jackson quote above implicitly includes this, needed to be said explicitly).

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LFC 10.04.16 at 9:17 pm

R Puchalsky
(The history of how geek culture became mainstream culture and how it still insists on its subcultural status even as it’s much more popular and catered to than anything else bears a striking similarity to how professionals think that they are part of the governed classes even as societal institutions are run by them and set up to favor them.)

Is the legal system set up to favor the small-town lawyer in general practice, privileged compared to some of his/her neighbors perhaps but not compared to many other lawyers? Is the health-care system set up to favor doctors who have to spend time on paperwork that they would rather spend seeing patients? Is the academic system set up to favor the adjunct who teaches however many classes a semester on different campuses (for wages well below the other strata of academics)?

Re Will G-R: Your constant references to “liberals” as if they are all hideous, foul, disgusting, and evil, dripping in blood of the victims of global capitalism’s exploitative ways (do you have a smartphone by the way? [I don’t]; do you know who mined its ingredients?) is getting perhaps a bit, um, repetitive.

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Val 10.04.16 at 9:33 pm

LFC – yes I get a small amount of wry amusement from Will’s comments (in a funny/not really) way as I head off to my sessional teaching job.

I’d LOVE it if the university was a cooperative with no rank of income or privilege, and will continue to argue in favour of that form of organisation, but until the happy day the world recognises the wisdom of that view, I’ll keep working in the system I guess …

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likbez 10.04.16 at 10:22 pm

Re: Rich Puchalsky 10.03.16 at 7:52 pm.371

A side note: there was some conversation above about the interests of an aristocracy, which of course prompted the idea that the aristocracy is long gone. But meritocracy is a kind of aristocracy.

This is an interesting observation. BTW other aspect of the same is related to the “Iron law of oligarchy”. Also both aristocracy and meritocracy are just variants of oligarchy. The actual literal translation from the Greek is the “rule of the few”.

At the same time traditional aristocracy is not fixed either and always provided some “meritocratic” mechanisms for entering its ranks. Look, for example, at British system where prominent scientists always were awarded lordship. Similar mechanism was used in in many countries where low rank military officers, who displayed bravery and talent in battles were promoted to nobility and allowed to hold top military positions. Napoleonic France probably is one good example here.

Neoliberal elite like traditional aristocracy also enjoys the privilege of being above the law. And like in case of traditional aristocracy the democratic governance is limited to members of this particular strata. Only they can be views as political actors.

USSR nomenklatura is yet another example of the same. It was so close in spirit to neoliberal elite, that the transition in 1991 was almost seamless.

In other words vertical mobility, can’t be completely suppressed without system losing the social stability and that’s was true for classic aristocracy as well as modern neoliberal elite (actually vertical mobility is somewhat higher in European countries then in the USA; IMHO it is even higher in former Eastern block).

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likbez 10.05.16 at 1:25 am

LFC,
@413

Re Will G-R: Your constant references to “liberals” as if they are all hideous, foul, disgusting, and evil, dripping in blood of the victims of global capitalism’s exploitative ways (do you have a smartphone by the way? [I don’t]; do you know who mined its ingredients?) is getting perhaps a bit, um, repetitive.

If by liberals we would understand neoliberals, this might not be an overstatement. Neoliberals destroy the notion of social justice and pervert the notion of the “rule of the law”. See, for example, The Neo-Liberal State by Raymond Plant

…social justice is incompatible with the rule of law because its demands cannot be embodied in general and impartial rules; and rights have to be the rights to non-interference rather than understood in terms of claims to resources because rules against interference can be understood in general terms whereas rights to resources cannot. There is no such thing as a substantive common good for the state to pursue and for the law to embody and thus the political pursuit of something like social justice or a greater sense of solidarity and community lies outside the rule of law.
… … …
…But surely, it might be argued, a nomocratic state and its laws have to
acknowledge some set of goals. It cannot be impartial or indifferent to all goals.
Law cannot be pointless. It cannot be totally non-instrumental. It has to facilitate
the achievement of some goals. If this is recognized, it might be argued, it will
modify the sharpness of the distinction between a nomocratic and telocratic state,
between a civil association and an enterprise association.

The last paragraph essentially defines “neoliberal justice” which to me looks somewhat similar to the concept of “proletarian justice” (see Bukharin’s views https://www.marxists.org/archive/bukharin/works/1920/abc/09.htm; compare with Vyshinskii views http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1924-2/socialist-legality/socialist-legality-texts/vyshinskii-on-proletarian-justice/).

So Will G-R low opinion is not without merit.

IMHO for neoliberals social justice and the rule of law is applicable only to Untermensch. For Ubermensch (aka “creative class”) it undermines their individual freedom and thus they need to be above the law.

To ensure their freedom and cut “unnecessary and undesirable interference” of the society in their creative activities the role of the state should be limited to safeguarding the free market as the playground for their “creativity” (note “free” as in “free ride”, not “fair”).

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LFC 10.05.16 at 3:02 am

@likbez
That’s not what Will G-R means by “liberals.” I can’t go into this further right now, sorry.

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ZM 10.05.16 at 9:10 am

likbez,

“IMHO for neoliberals social justice and the rule of law is applicable only to Untermensch. For Ubermensch (aka “creative class”) it undermines their individual freedom and thus they need to be above the law.”

The Guardian Culture Section certainly takes this approach. They have known about musicians — mainly American — involved with a sadist creep stalking me for several years and don’t report on it plainly but write allusions in various reviews and interviews etc. I wrote to them telling them to report properly on it but they just continue to write puff pieces instead, even when I write letters to the editor saying the Politics Section doesn’t treat its work like this. At least I hope it doesn’t.

I reported these artists to then police since around Easter 2015 and the police refuse to investigate, even though I wrote to the Police Minister in my State in Austraila, who referred the matter to the Police Commissioner, who ordered the police to investigate, but they gave it to a Sgt who didn’t investigate at all, one of the singers called my local police station and spoke to the Sgt and lied to him, and the Sgt came away from the conversation thinking that his music was like the band Air Supply and told me people can write songs about whatever they like even though there are all sorts of laws pertaining to speech in the law in Australia, the USA, and the UK where most of the bands are located, and then when I said please contact the musicians Stephen Malkmus and CUNY Professor David Grubbs who indicated they will speak out about this circle of musicians and the sadist stalking me since 1998, the Sgt sat “don’t tell me how to run my investigation” then instead of running his own investigation he just closed the investigation completely.

The sadist seems to be connected to an organised crime family in Kentucky, the musician David Berman is the son of famous US right wing consultant Richard Berman, and another musician who was there from the start in 1998 when he met my 17 year old friend in Sydney where she was by herself, Bill Callahan, has said his parents worked for the NSA, but he lived in the UK in the 80s and there was hardly any internet for the NSA to spy on in the 80s apart from military internet, so its more likely they were in the UK working for another spying agency, probably the CIA, in the UK at the end of the Cold War.

All this information is in the public domain in interviews and songs, so I have not invaded anyone’s privacy like these singers stalking me have invaded my privacy over a period of 18 years since 1998. They also have information about me they only could get from spying on my computer with NSA tools.

The Guardian Culture Section just wrote allusions in reviews and interviews, and didn’t publish anything, and keeps publishing puff pieces on musicians like Nick Cave who have stalked me as part of a secret sado-masochistic sex ring in the entertainment industry.

Henry said he didn’t want me to mention it on his posts, but this is a Corey Robin post so maybe he won’t mind hopefully.

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ZM 10.05.16 at 9:48 am

The Australian musician Mick Harvey refers to this as well in a recent film clip which alludes to the movie Alphaville which is set in a totalitarian world.

But unless I missed the memo America, Australia, and the UK are not totalitarian countries and these are just corrupt entertainment industry people, a sadist connected to organised crime, and a singer who met my 17 year old friend in 1998 who is connected to American intelligence agencies — and they are just criminals breaking the law stalking me for 18 years.

Mick Harvey writes about it several times in his record Sketches From The Book Of The Dead, and also worked on the record Pop Crimes by another former Nick Cave collaborator Rowland S Howard which again has lyrics about musicians stalking me and asks if the sadist creep is “Stalin’s secret daughter”. The sadist has a totalitarian Russian thing going on as well as being a Neo-Nazi and racist against African Americans too — but
I am pretty sure this is connected to American intelligence agency work via Bill Callahan rather than the sadist being a KGB agent as well as connected to Kentucky organised crime though.

Nick Cave refers to it again and stalks me more on his latest record Skeleton Tree, including lyrics referring to the book 1984.

I am pretty sure this must connect to some sort of CIA covert cultural operation in the early 2000s after September 11 as homeland security.

There is all sorts of information about the CIA doing covert culture operations in America and Australia in the 50s and 60s and infiltrating the counter culture and things, but its all classified for years until they release dribs and drabs to the public decades afterwards.

I am going to get the FBI to get the the CIA to cooperate with the FBI about this, USA intelligence agencies can’t give information about me out so my life is ruined due to Bill Callahan’s 20 year revenge feud with Will Oldham and the sadist creep Italian-American Mafia Princess who didn’t want Will Oldham to break up with her — Australia is a long standing US ally!

They shouldn’t do this to a Russian citizen who goes and sees American bands either though, even though you aren’t a loyal US ally like Australia is.

And I wasn’t doing anything remotely against American interests, all I was doing in the key 2003-2006 period was studying history and art at university, working in hospitality and a deli at the Queen Victoria Market, and hoping to work for the department of foreign affairs or be a curator for a museum or gallery when I graduated.

Mick Harvey sings there was money changing hands, and that no one knew the score.

Organised crime aren’t usually interested in the cultural sector, that is pretty much only a CIA interest as far as I know.

I wrote to media in Australia, America, and the USA about this for months, to The Guardian for over a year, and none of them publish anything so far, or even contact me back for an interview about me being stalked by entertainment industry people and a sadist for 18 years.

I am putting all my hopes in Rupert Murdoch now, he is the only one with the courage to take on the corrupt entertainment industry in the USA I think. The NYT publish puff pieces too like The Guardian does and the Fairfax press in Australia. Maybe Morrie Schwartz newspapers in Australia might publish something. I think people in the Fairfax Culture Section knew about it too, from Helen Garner the writer mother of Alice Garner who was in the Xylouris Ensemble who played with The Dirty Three in the 90s.

I am very disappointed with the Culture Sections.

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Will G-R 10.05.16 at 1:48 pm

LFC, the point that there’s no ethical consumption under capitalism is a good one, repeated often but not often enough, even if in your case it comes in the stale clichéd context of “therefore First-World leftists need to shut up”. The point about repetition is particularly ironic, though, coming in the midst of yet another repetitive liberal circlejerk about Donald Trump blowing the Gabriel’s trumpet of a civilization-destroying neo-Nazi apocalypse.

421

Will G-R 10.05.16 at 2:10 pm

likbez: “USSR nomenklatura is yet another example of the same. It was so close in spirit to neoliberal elite, that the transition in 1991 was almost seamless.”

One doesn’t even have to compare different types of government to grasp this point, when in still-existing Communist Party regimes like the People’s Republic of China, the party cadres are the neoliberal capitalist elites, no political transition required at all. It’s George Orwell’s final ironic revenge on those who would conscript his Animal Farm into service as a procapitalist propaganda tract: they forget that the final lines aren’t just an indictment of the pigs (Communist nomenklatura) for being no better than the men (capitalists) but also of the men for being no better than the pigs.

422

likbez 10.05.16 at 2:23 pm

Will G-R,

@421

“It’s George Orwell’s final ironic revenge on those who would conscript his Animal Farm into service as a procapitalist propaganda tract: they forget that the final lines aren’t just an indictment of the pigs (Communist nomenklatura) for being no better than the men (capitalists) but also of the men for being no better than the pigs.”

An excellent point. Thank you.

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likbez 10.05.16 at 3:49 pm

@422

This point also extends to those who are so against soft neoliberal Putin (who brought Russia into WTO) vs. neoliberal Obama (with his TPP stance). Might well be another good application of the immortal final lines of the Animal Farm.

424

JimV 10.05.16 at 4:57 pm

I’m checking in just to confirm that I did some homework on the Syria-no-fly-zone issue which Bruce Wilder thought was a somewhat disqualifyingly dumb idea. This comment copied from a Reddit thread expresses my current opinion:

Respectfully, I think many people here have not listened to Clinton’s argument concerning a no-fly zone over Syria. In the first place, she has never advocated for the US unilaterally declaring a no-fly zone and enforcing it against any aircraft that might be encountered. She has explicitly explained that it is a bargaining tool to use in negotiations with Russia. It isn’t (as some seem to think) a call to war. It’s an act of diplomacy.

She has said she would call for the coalition – not the US – to consider a no-fly zone as a “device” in their negotiations. She calls the reality of it a “possible outcome.”

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow/watch/clinton-explains-support-for-no-fly-zone-550960707586

She has also said she wants Russia to be involved in enforcing it. From the New Hampshire Debate: “The no-fly zone, I would hope, would be also shared by Russia. If they will begin to turn their military attention away from going after the adversaries of Assad toward ISIS and put the Assad future on the political and diplomatic track, where it belongs.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2015/12/19/3rd-democratic-debate-transcript-annotated-who-said-what-and-what-it-meant/

425

ZM 10.06.16 at 11:28 am

Re: Hilary Clinton’s argument about a No-Fly Zone over Syria — the Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has said that the situation in Syria has broken down, and spoken about the possibility of enforcing an Arms Embargo:

“Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has said “all trust has broken down” between the United States and Russia over Syria, and described the bombing of the city of Aleppo by regime forces as an “unprecedented” atrocity.

On Syria, Ms Bishop painted perhaps the bleakest picture yet of the intractable conflict. She said “all options” had to be on the table, including an arms embargo in which the US and Russia withdrew military support for the rebels and regime respectively.

“I witnessed two meetings between the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, and US Secretary of State John Kerry,” she said. “Let me say that all trust has broken down. Neither side trusts the other side.”

She said the Russian-backed regime of Bashar al-Assad and the anti-government rebels – the more moderate of whom are being armed and helped by the US – both believed they could win militarily. As long as this was the case, “the killing and the war will continue”, she said.

“It is a humanitarian disaster on an unprecedented scale – nothing we’ve seen in our lifetime.”

She said any move by the US to start bombing Assad forces would spark an “all-out war”.”

http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/syrian-conflict-all-trust-broken-down-amid-unprecedented-atrocities-says-julie-bishop-20161002-grt4nl.html

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Lee A. Arnold 10.06.16 at 12:43 pm

Will G-R #420: “the point that there’s no ethical consumption under capitalism is a good one”

Then your comments are an unethical consumption of cognition-time!

But your quasi-religious absolutisms led you far astray, long before. Consider:

Will G-R #364: “‘bad’ in a good/evil sense… …Clinton partisans…are willing to cop to her position as a defender of an ultimately evil form of ruling-class power, [but] they simply think it shouldn’t be talked about (see Collin Street @184 for an exemplary specimen)… …a slightly-less-evil form of ruling-class power needs you not just to passively submit to its dictates but to actively defend its position against its slightly-more-evil ideological enemies, even at the expense of your own independent moral compass and political thought. …not accomplishing…any meaningfully subversive reflection…”

Hoo boy! I don’t wish to speak for poor Collin Street, but if #184 is your “exemplary specimen”, then you have fallen into the same quasi-religious emotionalism, buttressed by intellectual absolutism, that Bruce Wilder has.

You manage to combine the following:

1. a reification of neoliberal capitalism followed by apotheosizing it as the Satan in a manichaean schema of political economy;

2. the making of your bête noire-for-the-day (Hillary, Krugman, whomever) into one of Satan’s banner-bearing minions;

2. a supercilious psychological theory that ordinary people cannot have two different & opposing thoughts at the same time, or else they will mislead themselves from your true path;

3. a rather historicist view that what has happened in the past is a necessary prediction of the future;

4. a certitude that if people don’t wake up to your point of view and adopt your criticisms, then all is for nought; and

5. a sense of the importance of a US election that is even more extreme than that of Hillary’s supporters and as bad as Trump’s supporters — as if you believe that someone ELSE could make a radical change in the status quo (without which, again, all is for nought).

All together this amounts to insanity posing as measured and judicious thought. Nutty stuff. You have become another standard type of fundamentalist.

Indeed, as happens to absolutists, you are led into illogical confusions. You pointed out in #223 that Trump is enacting a “facsimile” of fascism, coming out of an extremist tendency that is inherent in the modern era. Facsimile means, exact copy.

Now however we are treated in #420 to your suggestion that pointing out how repetitive you are, is no different than repeatedly pointing out Trump’s call to totalitarianism:

Will G-R #420: “The point about repetition is particularly ironic, though, coming in the midst of yet another repetitive liberal circlejerk about Donald Trump blowing the Gabriel’s trumpet of a civilization-destroying neo-Nazi apocalypse.”

So therefore, both Trump and you are nuts, different kinds of nuts?

You may have misidentified the subject noun that “ironic” modifies, thus making a true irony (using the proper definition of ironic).

427

stevenjohnson 10.06.16 at 1:06 pm

likbez@415 “USSR nomenklatura is yet another example of the same. It was so close in spirit to neoliberal elite, that the transition in 1991 was almost seamless.” Yes, well, it is impossible for someone as limited as myself to comment on your spiritual knowledge. But on a more earthly plane, it is not so obvious that the oligarchs and their favored employees are (or were) drawn from the nomenklatura, that there was no change in personnel in the rulers of the new Russia. Gennady Zyuganov and his KPRF of course are the prime recruiting grounds for adminstration, and the favored home of Russian businessment. But, quite aside from the gaping seam of the attempted removal of Gorbachev in 1991, there are quite a few other seams. Yeltsin’s attack on parliament, for instance, strikes me as seamy indeed. But you may feel this sort of thing is just law enforcement. Your insistence that the old CP members never noticed a change, except they had official title, seems an extraordinary needing rather more support. A this point, it appears to be non-factual.

Will G-R @421 “One doesn’t even have to compare different types of government to grasp this point, when in still-existing Communist Party regimes like the People’s Republic of China, the party cadres are the neoliberal capitalist elites, no political transition required at all. It’s George Orwell’s final ironic revenge on those who would conscript his Animal Farm into service as a procapitalist propaganda tract: they forget that the final lines aren’t just an indictment of the pigs (Communist nomenklatura) for being no better than the men (capitalists) but also of the men for being no better than the pigs.”

Two issues arise. First, there are rather obvious transitional points even to reaching today’s regime in China. Although such events as the Ching Ming disturbances, the Democracy Wall protests, the slow motion journee at Tian An Men square may have formally failed their aims, there is little reason to doubt powerful effects. The coup that overthrew the so-called Gang of Four was however a huge and extremely obvious transition. Deng’s invasion of Vietnam to seal the opening to the US was notable as well.
Not so long ago, the current leadership purged Bo Xilai relying on testimony from people in admitted contact with foreign powers. How this sort of thing doesn’t count is a mystery to me.

What is not so mysterious is the belief that China is now a capitalist country with the essence of Communism, dictatorship as opposed to the glorious benefits of classless American-style democracy. It is to be expected that any admirer of Orwell would firmly believe, without a moment’s hesitation, that a capitalist economy can abolish the business cycle. I think that’s silly, but then, I’m not an admirer of Orwell.

Second, the final lines of Animal Farm are a prediction about the real world. The point about the men being no better than pigs is irrelevant. The point is that the pigs were men, i.e., the same as capitalist oppressors. Aside from being manifest nonsense, this prediction was of course falsified by history. Any notion that the late USSR was a totalitarian terror regime was nonsense. But even if it were, the execution of Beria, Zhukov’s coup against the so-called anti-party group, the removal of Khrushchev, the shenanigans of Gorbachev, give the lie to the notion that Stalinism was unchangeable. As for the notion that Soviet socialism was the same as capitalism? Only virulent anti-Communism could make such nonsense acceptable for a minute.

The final lines have to be read in context with early lines as well. In those lines, Orwell compares the horrors of the Great War to a farm getting run down. It takes a vile human being to do that.

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Will G-R 10.06.16 at 2:45 pm

Lee, if all you’re willing to do is compose minor variations on the theme of “you’re a fundamentalist! Marxism is a religion!”, you don’t seem ready to sit at the big-kids’ discussion table. I alluded to the idea of Marxist doctrine as dogmatic catechism in an ironic way back @ the second paragraph of #208, but the more serious point from that graf seems relevant here too.

Steven, you seem to be confused as to what point I was actually making, albeit understandably so because I wasn’t entirely clear (which is perhaps a natural outcome of spending too much time trying to get through to liberals). The point isn’t that literally no political events have taken place at all in the modern People’s Republic of China, it’s that the transition from state socialism to neoliberal capitalism didn’t require an outright abolition of centralized Party control the way it did in the former USSR. I entirely agree with you about the nonsensical contradictions of the typical Cold Warrior critique, especially when it comes to the USSR: in particular, the economic dynamism of Stalin’s time and the relatively dialed-down political repression after the Khrushchev thaw are typically minimalized in order to emphasize the brutality of the Stalin era and the post-Stalin economic stagnation, with no effort to coherently account for any real political or economic shifts within the formal framework of Soviet state socialism. I didn’t intend to make such a simpleminded critique, although again I can see how it might have come across that way.

And neither did I claim to be any great admirer of George Orwell; everything else about his political line aside, nobody who rats out fellow leftists to Red Scare witch-hunters can deserve too much esteem, especially when this involves outing people as gay in the UK in the 1940s. Still, to the extent that he was a leftist critic of actually existing socialisms and has been anachronistically beatified by liberal Cold Warriors as a critic of all socialist projects as inherently repressive, it’s hard to deny that liberals’ adoption of Animal Farm into their ideological canon has a certain poetic kick given that today’s most prominent remaining “actually existing socialists” are among the most ruthless and effective administrators of global imperial capitalism.

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Lee A. Arnold 10.06.16 at 5:19 pm

Will, Marx has nothing to do with your insistence upon absolute categories of thought.

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likbez 10.07.16 at 3:36 am

stevenjohnson,
@427
likbez@415 “ But on a more earthly plane, it is not so obvious that the oligarchs and their favored employees are (or were) drawn from the nomenklatura, that there was no change in personnel in the rulers of the new Russia.”

This is a topic way too complex for the posts like this one, but considerable part of new Russian neoliberal elite did came from nomenklatura. The most brutal, the most criminal oligarchs came from academia (Berezovsky) and Komsomol elite ( Khodarkovski, in Ukraine Turchinov — who actually was head of propaganda department of Komsomol )

Gennady Zyuganov and his KPRF of course are the prime recruiting grounds for adminstration, and the favored home of Russian businessment.

This is simply wrong. This is a statement, completely disconnected with reality.

But, quite aside from the gaping seam of the attempted removal of Gorbachev in 1991, there are quite a few other seams. Yeltsin’s attack on parliament, for instance, strikes me as seamy indeed.

You are mixing things that are on completely opposite sided of barricades.

Attempt to remove Gorbachov (which might well be initiated by Gorbachov himself, who became afraid that he went too far) was attempt by anti-neoliberal forces to stop and reverse neoliberalization of Russia. It failed because the train already left the station and neoliberal forces became quite strong in Russia.

Yeltsin’s attack on parliament was essentially a successful attempt to suppress forces that were against neoliberalization and plundering of Russia (as well as threats to personal power f Yeltsin as Pinochet style dictator). Kind of Russian variant of the Night of the Long Knives.

Your insistence that the old CP members never noticed a change, except they had official title, seems an extraordinary needing rather more support. A this point, it appears to be non-factual.

You completely misunderstood and misinterpreted my point. The essence was that certain substratas of Soviet nomenklatura ) mainly connected with KGB, Komsomol, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Trade, Academia ( and couple of other institutions) changed camps and become turncoats fighting tooth and nail for the establishing neoliberal regime in Russia by using “color revolution” mechanisms and relying on support and financing from the USA and other foreign powers (to the tune on one billion in cash) and then helping foreign powers to plunder Russia (which was favorite pastime of many members of Clinton criminal administration; for example Summers).

Kind of Russian variation of Chicago boys. Or like bunch of US Trotskyites which became neocons.

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Anarcissie 10.07.16 at 3:56 am

likbez 10.07.16 at 3:36 am @ 430:
‘… Summers….

This reminds me to yet once again mention How Harvard Lost Russia where Summers is a featured supporting character. Best read it now; copies of it seem to be evaporating from the Net for some reason. A crucial document.

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