Overton Thoughts

by John Holbo on June 28, 2017

Sorry to be off the grid for a few weeks, loyal readers. Family stuff. Not fun family stuff, mind you, the hard stuff. But we’re ok. Good healthcare is important, kids. Make sure your country offers it!

Belle told you what music she’s listening to. I’m listening to nothing but Randy Newman (by choice) and Pokemon-themed stuff (because my 6-year old nephew really likes it while I’m driving him to school and camp and swimming. He seems so happy.)

So, naturally, I’m thinking thoughts about the state of the Republic.

  1. Trump’s omni-incompetence is his semi-saving grace. Lots of people have noticed this.

  2. It’s alarming he’s as popular as he is, given 1. His numbers are low. But still. Partly this is a function of heightened partisanship generally. Even so.

  3. Trump seems like a weird mix of un-replicable and nigh invincible. It’s impossible to imagine a Democrat getting away with this level of incompetence. It’s not so easy to imagine mini-Trump Republican copycats pulling off the same trick. All the same, there’s this THING he has tapped into, and it’s not even such an obviously right-vs-left thing. How is this possible? How can there be a stable source of political power that only one idiot can harness – who doesn’t even seem interested in politics? What do we actually think of that?

A couple years ago I wrote a pretty good post, if I do say so myself, in which I noted an asymmetry between left and right-wing rhetoric in US politics. Left-wing rhetoric seems like a smooth bell curve. There aren’t that many Democrats who are almost-Republicans, but there’s a big hump of ’moderate’ liberal Democrats, which then tails off into more progressive -> radical positions and expressions. But on the right, the weird thing is that there is – or was, when I wrote – a heavy cluster on the fine line between the ‘conservative’ things every Republican wanted to be heard saying, and the crazy things no Republican could afford to be heard saying because such things are agreed to be evil and/or stupid. (‘Legitimate rape’ stuff.) There is – or was – a whisker’s difference between orthodoxy and anathema, which meant conservative pols were frequently screwing it up.

Looking back, what this analysis should have suggested – although I didn’t take my own hint – is that someone could just bust through all that with enough shamelessness and will: just say the unsayable. Obviously there was pent-up demand for the mainstreaming of thoughts – or attitudes – beyond the pale of polite discourse. To some degree it was mainstream media-enforced norms doing the tamping down. The media cuts conservatives who step over that line, even though it coddles those who can toe it tolerably. A lot of right-wing resentment of ‘bias’ is really animated by this rather arbitrary line-drawing between ‘acceptable’ and ‘unacceptable’ right-wing opinions that aren’t that far apart.

Well, Trump busted through and loosed the id monster – as many have noted.

It seems to me, logically, that you can’t have that much latent power out there, waiting to be harnessed, and only one idiot can do it. It seems to me that Trump isn’t secretly a genius, whatever some may say. So I figure others are going to get the hang of the Trump trick. I wonder whether the Gillespie/Stewart primary won’t be looked back on as a kind of canary in a coal mine. The first election in which a mini-Trump made a stronger than expected showing, even though he lost. What do you think?

{ 155 comments }

1

Gabriel 06.28.17 at 10:03 pm

I tend to think Trump is best understood as a kind of cultural retrenchment; every victory in four decades of identity politics changed the surrounding mass culture a little and those in the vanguard a little more, leaving a small but growing gap between the cultural vanguard and the surrounding society. Finally enough of a gap was present that someone was able to ride economic malaise and cultural backlash to victory.

Trump’s ‘incompetence’ isn’t a bug, it’s a feature, signalling as it does his outsider nature, both outside ‘Washington’ and outside ‘The Ivory Tower’.

2

Tamara Piety 06.29.17 at 12:07 am

I think this is right but what it represents is the triumph of PR culture. In my book, Brandishing the First Amendment, I raised a concern about how there are a lot of professionals in the PR/marketing, and now political world, who don’t believe that there is any problem beyond people’s perception of a problem; so they think the problem is not acid rain, it is that people think acid rain is a problem. Change the perception and there is no problem.

Except, of course, there is real stuff in the world. Between the hard edge of empirical facts like gravity, which exists whether the majority “believe in it” or not, and those things that are real precisely because we all believe in them and act like they are a thing, but if we all simultaneously stopped believing in them (money, for example), they would stop being a real thing, there is a world of stuff mushy middle. It seems to me that what is happening in this world of branding and opinion management, is that the line has moved rather dramatically on which stuff we used to think that there was some reality against which you could test representations (vaccines are a good idea) and that which was just “opinion” or a an unverifiable belief “chocolate ice cream is the ‘the best'” or “god exists.” It appears that guys like Frank Luntz have unleashed the powers of perception management, that you really *can* pee on someone’s leg and convince them that it is raining, at least for long enough to do real damage, because the real world feedback loop that would undermine that impression is so slow, so susceptible to interpretation, wishful thinking, denial, motivated reasoning, etc. that it can take a very long time for people to wake up and make the right casual connections for their miseries. It is not like trying to take a walk out of a 3rd story window. Try that ans you will discover pretty quickly that gravity is not just a good idea, it’s a law, a really, real law. But global warming is not that direct. Health care is not that direct. Things can go horribly wrong, STILL, even though Republicans control both houses, the executive and have a majority on the Supreme Court and there are some people who will manage to to believe that their health care problems really are still a problem attributable to Obama, even if the Republicans manage to get rid of the ACA. It is astonishing that this “cut taxes/trickle down” routine still has ANY credibility, with anyone at all. Yet it does. It seems like things will have to get much worse before some of his loyal supporters will blame the right people. And maybe they never will. For example, there is this vague sense that money in politics is a bad thing and many voters are demanding that Democratic candidates show their bona fides by giving up funding, failing to understand that the problem is the law, that until the law changes, any candidate who completely eschewed big donors, all “cooperation” with industry, will never get elected and never accomplish even half-hearted things. The ACA is partly the mess it is because of the need to get the insurance and health care providers on board and “a seat at the table.” Of course, once they are in the room, at the table, they deal themselves in and ordinary voters are out. Voters are asking for the wrong sort of purity tests which is actually likely to make things worse, not better.

The feedback loop may be a whole generation or two, or three. It seems to me that we are being forced to relive the things which those of my generation probably thought were well-settled lessons of the Gilded Age, that laissez-faire, unchecked by any sort of regulation or limit, and unrestrained meddling of capital in politics, gives rise to monumental corruption and lays waste to people’s health and safety. There was a reason our forefathers and mother enacted the Pure Food and Drug laws, truth in labeling, securities rules, workplace safety rules. But we seem to have “forgotten” all that and appear to be hurtling back to the 19th century at full speed ahead. It is truly frightening.

What we are seeing here is just how much reality matters and it appears that sadly the answer is, “not much” or at least not yet. Trump is, as you say, omni-incompetent (his greatest strength is as a marketer and even there he can’t help stepping on his own message with his tweets; if he really was a genius we would be in even more trouble), no matter how many (or how few) think otherwise. Public opinion no more makes him competent than gravity is dependent on public assent. It is just a fact that he doesn’t know what he is doing.

But it is scary that he might learn. And it is disheartening how little that incompetence means. I think what we are seeing though is that facts DO matter some of the time, about some things, to some people. And not all the PR people in the world can smooth over some of Trump’s knowledge gap. The burning question though is whether a commitment to knowledge and facts and a shared value system about what the lines are, can be reestablished before he and his cronies and his organized crime family blow us up. If he were to leave office tomorrow he has already done so much damage to the polity by showing others just how much you can get away with in some quarters and still get elected. I very much fear someone will come along who does know more about actual governance, who is smoother, more decorous, but just as unprincipled. I don’t think Pence is that person because I don’t think he has enough initiative. But Paul Ryan? It is scary. And it so shouldn’t be this way. Were it not for the various Constitutional compromises and advantages for majority white, southern, conservative districts, voter suppression this would not have worked. This election really was a sort of slow motion coup d’etat. It remains to be seen whether various democratic institutions like Congress and the press will work, and work fast enough, to right the ship of state before it crashes on the rocks. I sure hope so. I have never been more worried that they aren’t up to the task.

3

Alan White 06.29.17 at 1:12 am

Here’s a letter I published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel just today, trying to express my astonishment at what has come to pass for political norms in the US:

Novel approach
There is been much ado about celebrities’ indiscretions regarding President Donald Trump, with some implying less than best wishes for his health. But what must not be forgotten is that Trump as candidate bragged– and bragged is the correct term–that he could shoot someone in Times Square and not lose one vote (“Depp’s comments latest in celebrities suggesting violence against Trump” June 24).
And apparently he didn’t lose many votes for making that First Amendment-protected brag.
It feels as if we are living in a Kurt Vonnegut novel.

I will note the editor replaced my original reference to Trump–“the “President””–with what’s in the first line. I for one will never call him that.

Gabriel’s analysis above gets the large-scale themes right it seems to me. It can only fall apart for Trump’s base when it starts hitting them in their pockets, which is as far as their aspirations reach.

May I offer my condolences and sympathy for you and your family’s recent misfortunes, whatever they may be.

4

Raven Onthill 06.29.17 at 2:03 am

I think you are right. Now, at the state level this is old news. But it seems only now to be part of national politics. And the people who do this know they have crossed a line, know that if decency returns they will be anathema. And so they press on. The next line will be killing, or maybe the horrific withdrawal of health care from millions will be that that line.

Tamara Piety@2: I write fairly often about messaging but it seems to me that what I have written is off John’s topic, so I won’t be reproducing them here. In any event here’s two old articles, writing about it in the context of both parties: 2010 and 2011.

5

ScottA 06.29.17 at 3:14 am

A different sort of cynical insight, which runs in tandem with much of what Tamara Piety (@2) says:

Lots of people are disaffected from politics, and believe (with some good basis) that their interests are not likely to be the main concern of any politician. Consequently, the main value national politicians can provide to them is entertainment. Does he/she provide enough drama, yuks, righteous outrage, and conversation fodder to make the whole charade interesting? Do they validate me and my team and piss off our enemies? Or, on the contrary, does he/she make chewing glass preferable to watching them on TV for another minute? Trump does not entertain me, but I have no doubt that a lot of people find him and his antics as good a political show as they have seen in a long time. In at least this one respect, he gives a lot of people exactly what they want, and since that’s more than the nothing they typically expect, they’re happy — especially when those they believe look on them with disdain are visibly unhappy on exactly the same grounds. And as John Holbo suggests, Trump’s willingness to shatter the conventional bullshit pieties has its own endearing, entertaining quality. Even though the replacement bullshit isn’t an objective improvement, at least it is actually audacious, in a way that very little political-speak is.

(And unfair and stupid as this turned out to be, I am pretty sure that both Gore and H. Clinton lost more than a few votes simply because watching/listening to them was really no one’s idea of a good time.)

6

derrida derider 06.29.17 at 3:37 am

Na, Trump’s election was just a product of a crap electoral system and an opposing candidate who didn’t understand it. The primary system encourages hyper-partisanism, and the electoral college system encourages appeals to some minority interests and ignoring of others, depending on their geographic distribution. I don’t think Trump discovered any new political constituency, and I don’t think any Republican is sanctioned for saying plumb crazy things.

That’s especially so if the plumb craziness is mixed with a handful of obvious truths that for varying reasons Very Serious People will not say (there are always such unspoken truths in any political culture). But they have to be obvious truths so they cannot be characterised as plumb crazy.

7

William Berry 06.29.17 at 5:32 am

@Tamara:

You rule (I wish).

8

SusanC 06.29.17 at 8:09 am

I think you’re correct – the right does cluster in the edge of the unsayabke.

There’s leftist opinions that are unsayable, of course. If you advocate armed revolution, people will fear you’re serious and patiently explain to you why (a) this is a terrible idea; (b) you’re an idiot; while having a word out of your earshot to their counterintelligence people that (c) you might be an undercover police agent who is being paid to cause trouble, because nobody says anything that stupid unless they’re being paid to say it. But this isn’t a majority opinion. The curve falls to “hardly anyone believes that” before it reaches “unsayable”‘.

Context matters, possibly. In Blairite Labour, maybe even the Corbyn style of leftism was unsayable, until Corbyn said it.

P.S. I can think of at least one exception on the left: Israel. We’re not going to talk about that, right?

9

Mario 06.29.17 at 8:18 am

I’m with Gabriel (@1) here. The gap is really deep right now, and those on the enlightened side of the gap have made it clear that they will not tolerate any departure from their orthodoxy. And that everybody that does not agree with them is basically of a lower moral fabric, and not deserving of anything. Trump just rode the backlash wave, and his incompetence actually nearly made him lose. Had he been less crazy, he would have absolutely crushed Clinton.

Although, obviously, you need to be pretty crazy to begin with to take up the task he took up. And then seeing it through.

10

bruce wilder 06.29.17 at 9:23 am

When so many in the Media are engaged in the ridiculous pursuit of Russiagate, it is hard to get a clear view of the man. It seems like a case could be made that he is screwing up royally in the Middle East with Qatar, Syria, and Afghanistan, but how can such a case be made when the established opposition will not deviate from the same idiot support for pointless perpetual war and the Deep State?

11

Sancho 06.29.17 at 9:26 am

Trump beat a field of less-crazy Trumps to become nominee. His authenticity and incompetence are interdependent, and there’s unlikely to be any future Republican candidate that has the same DGAF appeal, but is also somehow a canny legislator who understands the political process.

He’s basically a ransom note sent to Washington by uneducated white people: give our privilege back, or democracy gets a bullet.

12

Faustusnotes 06.29.17 at 10:36 am

It’s possible trumps election was just bad luck – a consequence of a variation in turnout in low turnout states that swing. No message, no lesson …

13

SusanC 06.29.17 at 11:54 am

I have a possible theory about “crowding the edge”. If your party is split into two reasonably sized factions, one of which believes in some variant of X while the other thinks X is really stupid, you’ll get edge crowding by the folks who actually believe some variant of X and are going as far as they can in saying it/dog whistling it without having the people who think X is stupid telling them to shut up.

14

Donald 06.29.17 at 12:58 pm

Israel is an obvious example of a subject many people on the left avoid talking about honestly. I could go on an extended rant, but instead will switch to Yemen. Mainstream liberals in the US were silent about the fact that the Obama Administration ( as well as the British government) was lying about Saudi war crimes, because if the officials were truthful they would be confessing to war crimes themselves. So the storyline was that the Saudis were just incompetent at targeting. Here is John Kirby from last fall earnestly explaining why bombing in Yemen and Aleppo are completely different.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Sv7p1RBOOXM

There is more honesty about Yemen now, because Trump is taking a bad policy and making it worse.

I think on the further left and also on the libertarian right a clever politician could tap into a desire for some Overton window breaking about our interventionist foreign policy. Unfortunately the Rand Paul types are pretty disgusting on most domestic issues, but they could cause some trouble in their own party. Some of the columnists ( though fortunately not my favorite one Dan Larison) over at the American Conservative thought Trump was serious when he criticized our stupid Mideast interventions. That was delusional, but it showed some desire on the right to talk about things the mainstream in both parties prefer to ignore. I saw claims over there that some of Trump’s appeal to voters was that he sounded like an anti- interventionist ( when he wasn’t calling for the theft of Iraqi oil and more and bigger war crimes.)

Here is liberal icon Rachel Maddow giving a summary of the war in Yemen last fall without mentioning the bombing of civilians by our allies or starving children or the bombing of the funeral that killed over 100 civilians a few days before. That was the point where the Obama people felt pressured to slap the Saudis on the wrist, but Maddow, knowing her audience, scrupulously ignores everything about the war that would make Obama look bad.

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow/watch/iran-warships-raise-stakes-for-us-near-yemen-785684035597

15

reason 06.29.17 at 2:30 pm

Tamara Piety
“But it is scary that he might learn. “

Na – he is 70 years old and my daughters both knew more than he does now when they were in primary school.

16

Glen Tomkins 06.29.17 at 3:29 pm

Dog Whistles and Messaging

The problem with the idea that Trump succeeds by finally just saying outright all the ugly id-stuff that is sweet music to the ears of the nativists and bigots in the electorate, is that he won those swing states that gave him the victory by getting votes from people who had voted for Obama, twice in most cases. It’s not that he got a higher percentage of the wingnuts than a conventional R, or that they turned out in higher numbers. He did better with at least one sizable segment of swing voters.

This success of outright bigotry with swing voters upends conventional US politics. The conventional wisdom is that you have well-known policy positions that keep your side’s base happy, but you say speak in ways designed to not alienate swing voters by not being too forthrightly for or against things that might appeal either way to them.

The Rs have succeeded since Nixon by using the more aggressive, dog whistling, form of this dance. They do something like run the Willie Horton ad, that bigots recognize very clearly as an appeal to racism, but in which the racism is framed as concern that the D candidate isn’t strict enough with criminals to protect innocent people from them. The idea is that you can’t openly appeal to white supremacy sentiment, you have to couch it as being tough on crime, or fiscally austere, or you’ll lose the suburbs. The racists understand you’re referring to the “fact” that blacks are mostly criminals and live off welfare. They can hear those frequencies in your dog whistle. But in the lower frequencies that swing voters can hear, you’re not being racist, you’re concerned about crime and the deficit.

This has succeeded so well that the Ds have responded, for half a century now, with their own, defensive, insincerity. We decry the racism inherent in the Willie Horton ad to keep our base happy. But our side is 110% for being tough on crime, and our legislators vote for every bill that sends more blacks to jail, and keeps them there forever. We decry Hispanophobia, and are careful to always call the people our votes leave in the status of illegal aliens, as the “undocumented”, because we care. But we also 110% for “securing our borders”. Our legislators vote to fund ICE as it persecutes the undocumented, and we never, even when we have the trifecta, vote to decriminalize the 11 million illegal aliens. That would be “amnesty”, and we’re not going to be caught dead being for amnesty.

Aggressive Rs dog whistle to appear less stupid and inhuman than they really are. Ds and moderate Rs message to appear more stupid and inhuman than we really are. Both moves are pretty disgusting, but I have to give the Ds the prize in this particular diving contest.

Now the aggressive Rs have moved on. With Trump they have just thrown away the dog whistle. The reaction that conventional wisdom expected, that Clinton relied on to beat Trump, was that swing voters would abandon the Rs and our side would win handily. That didn’t happen. It’s now clear that the conventional wisdom about the efficacy of dog whistling and messaging was a fable that sophisticated people told themselves to avoid some ugly realities. Unsophisticated voters have always been able to hear all the frequencies of appeals like the Willie Horton ad. Racism simply isn’t radioactive in America. The dog whistle was always something designed to preserve the feelings of the sophisticated, not the vulgar masses.

The unsophisticated also recognize messaging for what it is, BS tap-dancing. We don’t fool any of them. I may shoot the next D politician who mouths the words “secure our borders”. I don’t know anyone stupid enough to not see that if you believe our borders need to be secured against the undocumented, you actually agree with Trump that they’re rapists and murderers. Why not vote for someone willing to say what everyone seems to believe?

Trump is indeed incompetent at doing the job he was elected to do, at public policy. But what we tend to unthinkingly lump in with that actual incompetence — his non-stop gaffathon public statements — is the source of his political strength. This demented person, who has apparently lost the ability to recognize the truth even if it hit him over the head with a lead pipe, and so spouts an unending stream of outrageous untruths, has attained an unparalleled reputation for truth-telling with Rs and swing voters precisely because he avoids messaging. He says whatever is on his id. Ds, “moderate” Rs, even aggressive Rs, all practice messaging, they all calculate what they say to minimize the offense they will give to anybody who votes. Not Trump. He calls ’em like he sees ’em. He’s too demented to have any filter left.

I won’t try to predict how it will end. Maybe some at least half-way competent public policy people will tame Trump to the point that they can use the political appeal provided by his dementia to get away with implementing their policy agenda. Maybe no one will ever be able to control Trump enough to stop the current chaos, and it will become clear to the R base and his swing voters that he is just demented. At that point, either Trump and Trumpism will have had its 15 minutes, he’ll go down the memory hole and we move on the next public spectacle in the usual peaceable fashion, or he refuses to go quietly and we have some adventuristic end to this farce.

I know how I want it to end. The Ds stop messaging. We come out for blanket amnesty for the “undocumented”, for national health insurance, for open class warfare against the owners, for reducing every state that keeps nullifying laws on its books to territorial status. Okay, the whole program may be too much at once. But just come out for any one of these things, or any other one public policy you may think worthy. The important thing is to scrupulously avoid messaging, to avoid softening or trimming in the vain attempt to fool people who are better at spotting BS than we are because they have lived their whole lives eating the dust of sophisticated people like us spouting BS. I have to agree with Trump on this, that it’s just sad to think we can get them to vote for us by the pretense that we don’t actually disagree with whatever vulgar prejudice we project onto them.

That plan, just saying what you think, is, of course, terribly unrealistic. It’s demented of me to even imagine it to be possible. But while Trump and I may be the Last Honest Men in politics because we’re both demented, at least I have dementia without behavioral disturbance. I’ve never run for public office.

17

Continental 06.29.17 at 3:37 pm

Will American liberals ever take seriously the possibility that there is a large (say 20 to 30 percent) share of Americans who actually support fascist ideology and politics (sensu Paxton)? Of course they can’t win elections on their own but neither could the historical fascists in the 20th century.

18

Marc 06.29.17 at 3:47 pm

I’d interpret Trump differently. There is an enormous mismatch between the priorities of the Republican donor class and those of the median Republican voter. He was able to take advantage of that to secure the nomination, and a combination of intense partisanship and related weaknesses on the Democratic side put him over the top. A politician without his personal flaws could have cruised to a landslide win, and I’d be very worried by that prospect (Trumpism with the edges sanded off, so to speak.)

Something that people haven’t mentioned here is the absolute flood of campaign spending, and how it comes from a very small group of donors. This has distorted politics in all sorts of ways. In the past, candidates who fell behind would drop out because they’d lose the ability to fund their campaign. Now, all you need is one billionaire – and that’s why we saw so many candidates lingering in the GOP presidential primaries well after their overall support cratered. But this comes with a price: all of the candidates being forced to adopt functionally identical platforms appealing to a small group.

The problem is that the things the billionaires like aren’t the priorities of the working class voters who have migrated to the Republican party – they don’t actually care about tax cuts for the rich, for instance, and they like Social Security. The disconnect is particularly big on immigration (big business likes it – keeps costs low.) Trump could tap a large audience, and he could use his celebrity as an advantage too.

In terms of breaking boundaries, if you think of Trump as a reality TV participant his behavior becomes almost normal. There being outrageous is part of the act, so to speak. If people respected politicians and the political process they’d draw a bright line between the two, and undignified things would be the political kiss of death. But they don’t, at all, and Trump was also remarkably cunning about drawing negative reactions that ended up helping him.

I bring this up because there is a pretty important difference between this approach and one that basically treats the opposition as a bad monolith – which is pretty much what’s implied by the claim that a large fraction of the people on the other side are feral.

19

nastywoman 06.29.17 at 3:52 pm

– today Von Clownstick tweeted:
‘I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came…to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!’

– and I wrote to the NYT that it is all ‘their fault’ -(and the fault of Crooked Timber) that we didn’t report from the facts from beginning – that Trump really has bad breath and very sweaty feet AND that he …(I worded that fact very politely) that he has a lot of ‘gas’ and makes terrible smelly stinks – and if the NYT -(and you guys?) only would have reported these facts from the beginning he never would have gotten ‘erected’ – as NO American votes for anybody who has bad breath and smelly feet!

That’s a fact!!

20

politicalfootball 06.29.17 at 4:08 pm

It seems to me that Trump isn’t secretly a genius, whatever some may say. So I figure others are going to get the hang of the Trump trick.

I agree, but I’d frame this somewhat differently. Our political ecosystem creates people like Trump in the same way that natural selection is a creative process. Everything that was not-Trump got killed off.

Corey Stewart and his ilk were always out there, but the ecology of our political system didn’t used to allow them to prosper and reproduce.

The key evolutionary advantage for folks like Trump is that they have more tools to work with. Trump can say absolutely anything without being held to account by his political party or the media. Traditional politicians are limited by integrity or shame.

21

nastywoman 06.29.17 at 4:13 pm

@2
‘I have never been more worried…’

and I have never been more ‘not’ worried -(as more of a ‘European’ than an ‘American’) as Trump has definitely save a lot of Europeans from their worst instincts and America right now get’s a wonderful (speedy) education about how NOT to be ‘Trumpish’ or ‘Trumplike’ and for centuries American parents will be able to tell their children:

If you don’t behave ‘Trump will come and eat your Ice-cream’.

22

John Holbo 06.29.17 at 4:42 pm

Sorry that comment are being moderated a bit slowly. I’m only intermittently on the internet for the time being. I do appreciate the contributions.

23

nastywoman 06.29.17 at 4:43 pm

– and as my ‘serious’ comments await moderation let’s try a joke:

‘Trump was elected because he is so yuuugely omni-demented and omni-incompetent – in the spirit of every 4chaner – who since years dreams about having such an obvious ‘demented’ US President – AND in the spirit of a commenter like ‘Mario’ who on another thread wrote:
‘If my assesment is correct, warning of chaos if Trump won was counterproductive: “Chaos? Sounds good to me. Set the damn thing on fire!!”

So it still might counterproductive to warn about Trumps ‘omni-incompetence’ if the decisive ‘will’ of the people is to have the utmost ‘omni-incompetent President’ in order to ‘set the whole damn thing on fire.

In other words – what WE might to do is talk about him and with him the way he talks to us or/and praise the awesome competence of this wise leader -(just the way his cabinet did) –
or perhaps we never might get rid of him -(or his fellow F…faces)

24

Yankee 06.29.17 at 5:02 pm

Trump is not a sudden apparition, he’s the inevitable product of that bright line (a created thing!!!) that many people have become convinced they must stay on the uphill side of … belonging to a group is MUCH more important than being “right” (whatever that means). It’s what makes us _us_. I guess you could say that T possesses a purity to his non-wonkiness that McConnell can only aspire to. Management consultants know, Craftsmen don’t get to be CEO. I wouldn’t call it a “trick” people could adopt, tho. Having as I do this absurd faith in the future of human nature.

… I don’t think the line has gotten less bright, it’s just that fashion moves on. Complaining about zoot suits is so libtardy.

25

Kalkaino 06.29.17 at 5:21 pm

Trump is just the logical extension of Nixon’s Southern Strategy, Reagan’s States’ Rights speech in MS, Willie Horton, W’s entitled-white-redneck-peckerwood act/Cheney’s ‘Go fuck yourself,’ etc. The GOP has been a fascist (this is to say racist-kleptocratic) outfit for a long time, it’s just that now their enthusiasts have worked up to the pure, uncut stuff, which they mainline from Fox News, hate radio, Breitbart and similar. Maybe if 20 years ago the feckless left had come up with some real counter to Fox, Rush, et al. the planet might have had a chance. But no, they were too busy clutching their pearls — and throwing unions under the bus. All that’s left now is to wait for the “Tall Trees Moment,” when Trump decides that it’s time for the NRA and other Bundyites to save him from due process with aggregated 2nd Amendment Rights. Everybody knows it’s coming, and that’s the real reason he gets away with “murder.”

http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/news/a56018/nra-recruitment-video/

26

bruce wilder 06.29.17 at 5:51 pm

Traditional politicians are limited by integrity or shame.

rofl

27

Donald 06.29.17 at 6:16 pm

“Will American liberals ever take seriously the possibility that there is a large (say 20 to 30 percent) share of Americans who actually support fascist ideology and politics (sensu Paxton”

I thought most people on the left take that for granted.

28

Donald 06.29.17 at 6:25 pm

I should add that people on the right commonly say it is the left which is fascist. Here is an example–the comments below the article show the attitude in its purest form.

http://thefederalist.com/2017/06/29/why-we-want-to-kill-each-other-over-politics/#disqus_thread

29

politicalfootball 06.29.17 at 8:57 pm

I was rather surprised by this bit of self-awareness from Brett Stephens, who illustrates my point @20 by explicitly equating integrity with weakness:

Institutions with a conscience have a tendency to be weak. They set standards to which they are bound to fall short, and publicly hold themselves to account.

Preserving — even cultivating — a capacity for shame, they are easily shamed. The shameless, having none, are only too glad to participate in the shaming.

That’s why it was a mistake of CNN to let the three journalists — veteran reporter Thomas Frank and editors Lex Ha[r]ris and Eric Lichtblau — responsible for the Scaramucci story go. The political success of Trump’s assault on the press depends on his conflation of mistakes with dishonesty, of fallibility with fakery.

Assuming no dishonesties were involved in CNN’s actions, cashiering the journalists does less to uphold the network’s reputation for probity than it does to advance Trump’s work.

30

Stephen 06.29.17 at 9:10 pm

Donald: people more towards the centre commonly say that both extreme left and extreme right share very unpleasant qualities that are what the left call fascist.

31

Lee A. Arnold 06.29.17 at 9:23 pm

Well it’s a good question whether more Trumps are on the way! Trumps have existed since the beginning of time. Pathological narcissists with short attention span. Sociopaths who will run right over you if you get in their way. In need of an MDMA counseling session, followed by a lifepath of meditation.

This particular Trump is unlikely to bring back lots of well-paying jobs, so his voters are going to be even more angry and resentful in the future. However, there are alleviating factors in the economy: The boomers are retiring from the labor force and dying off, reducing the potential unemployment rate — and also, growth in the standard-of-living can decelerate for a long long time without any knucklehead noticing, unless they travel abroad. So maybe the economic anxiety will fizzle out, who knows.

I don’t think that The People are more polarized than they ever used to be. But what is different now is that one-way broadcast media no longer drives the national narrative, & no longer winnows out the wingers. On social media, the nuts can find others who are nuttily like-minded. And anynut can make a video, and thus inflame the emotions McLuhanlike further. What is surfacing, what we are relearning, is that most people, on both right and left, proceed by their emotions and muster the facts to fit into their emotional narratives, and this becomes tribal through herd-instinct and shared cognitive biases.

Trump? A terrible role model for kids. Grabs pussy, makes racist comments, gets elected. All the kids noticed, so don’t bother lecturing them about morals.

Has few policies of his own, changes his story all the time, blames everything on others. Chafes and explodes at what the news reporters and commentators say, as if their criticisms are preventing him from getting shit done. What a childish idiot.

Getting deeper into wars in Syria and Afghanistan, no discernible strategy. Giving the long-term lead to China in economics and technology, no understanding of multilateral trade and the sources of future innovation. Close to a nuclear exchange on the Korean peninsula, no corps of diplomats to jawbone it away.

By the way!! A PROPER foreign policy is: Jawboning people for the next 100 years until they fatigue, the conditions change, they stop trying to kill each other. What is so hard to understand about this, for Christ’s sake?

A commercial real estate debt-restructuring, tax break & bankruptcy artist. Now promoter of his own businesses from inside the Oval Office. Couldn’t get business loans from U.S. banks any more, turned to Saudi princes & Russian oligarchs. Now it looks like he’s repaying those favors. His election speeches made statements that appear to have been coordinated with Russian wikileaking. Now the Senate Intelligence Committee strongly suspects it.

An opportunist who inserted himself into the Republican Party in the 2nd decade of their epochal division into the “conservative remnant” VS. the “firebrand public-choice cynical Koch libertarians” who want to destroy the gov’t, punish the poor, exclude the Other.

Thank God for Obama. Maybe he couldn’t get a single payer or public option past Joe Lieberman & the pusillanimous posse, but Obama decided anyway to push toward universal healthcare — and in the future make the GOP choke on the question of whether they would take care away from the poor, in order to give tax cuts to the rich. Obama (and Pelosi & Harry Reid) made sure that it would be put in the starkest terms possible.

Good show! Now everybody is watching, courtesy of social media. No matter what the Republicans do, the future is heading into a clearcut case for curtailing cut-throat capitalism. Almost everybody is sick to death of this crap/

32

Mario 06.29.17 at 9:42 pm

John, rereading your post, I realize that what you are worried about is that, since Trump is unlikely to be a real(tm) magician, his trick will work for other people. And that given the massive power that that trick unleashes, it is unlikely that nobody will try it successfully.

I think that’s all true, although I think too that you need to be made of a special material to invoke the magic. Not everybody musters the green nadgers needed to pull it off.

Part of what made the line-not-to-be-crossed so fragile was that it was used as a means of excerting power. The definition of what was allowed to be said was used to shape discussion, and thus it lost its legitimacy. And once breached, well, it was breached, and it all felt like a huge liberation to those whose concerns had been redefined as not worthy of discussion for moral reasons.

Consider immigration (link goes to The Atlantic).

I sometimes wonder if there aren’t more fundamental issues of human nature in play, because most of the behavior by Trump that is labelled ‘incompetence’ seems to be mostly about propriety. And that doesn’t work if most of the public finds your standard of propriety asphyxiating and unrealistic (c.f. “she has a beautiful smile”).

33

Continental 06.29.17 at 10:17 pm

Donald 27: many “people on the left” have spent much of the last eight months devising rationalizations of Trump voters as just underprivileged working class people who were “abandoned” by liberals and therefore had no choice but to vote for a fascist. I see little evidence that the fascist threat is finally being taken seriously by US liberals and leftists. And as long as they don’t take it seriously, fascism can win and is winning.

34

kidneystones 06.29.17 at 11:21 pm

If I boldly claimed that HRC would win, I might insert an ‘My predictive powers are suspect on the topic of Trump are suspect at best. I’ve yet to complete any serious forensic inquiry into why I might have decided to believe in unicorns, so I’ve no clear idea whether this was a one-off error, or a predictable consequence of deeply-rooted biases, so take everything I write on the topic of Trump with a dump truck full of salt.’ But mine is, once again, clearly the minority view.

The success of Trump is an historical anomaly – the rich and powerful usually win. That the richest people in America – Bezos, Zuckerberg, the Kochs, et al are funding the ‘resistance’ speaks volumes. The system is not collapsing, predatory capitalism will thrive, and individual rights and privacies will continue to diminish. Protectionists may throw up a roadblock, or two, and may in the end succeed in reclaiming some autonomy for the middle and lower classes. But the forces arrayed against such change are massive, deeply-entrenched, committed, and extremely well-funded.

Very sorry to hear of family troubles, John.

35

Doctor Memory 06.30.17 at 1:58 am

I think that you got it pretty well, ah, Dead Right back in 2003. In fact I think you got it so right then that I’ve been thinking about that article a lot, and forcing some people to re-read it.

Donald Trump is the Irritable Gesture school of conservative thought made flesh. He finally and fully severed the (never particularly strong) link between the Irritable Gesture and whatever dregs and fig leaves of “serious” conservative thought remained: the gesture, the supreme irritation, is now the point of the whole exercise. “Sad!”

36

J-D 06.30.17 at 5:21 am

Mario
Peter Beinart writes, in the article you linked to, that people like Peter Beinart are under pressure to refrain from saying or writing the kind of things that Peter Beinart himself writes in that very article. He doesn’t, however, make any reference to himself being under that kind of pressure; nor does he give any explanation of why he should be an exception. So there’s something important missing from the story he’s telling, which makes it hard to evaluate.

37

nastywoman 06.30.17 at 6:57 am

@33
‘many “people on the left” have spent much of the last eight months devising rationalizations of Trump voters as just underprivileged working class people who were “abandoned” by liberals and therefore had no choice but to vote for a fascist.’

– as somebody who has this theory that – indeed – working class people were abandoned in the US by ‘the Right’ – and just some ‘liberals’ – and in consequence very confused workers in the Rust Belt voted for somebody who pretended to be ‘on their side’ -(being NOT a ‘politician’ !) – I don’t believe that ‘they had no choice but to vote for a fascist.

I believe that they had no choice but to vote NOT for ‘a politician’ – as they didn’t trust any ‘politician’ -(or the type of ‘political discussions’ we seem to enjoy?) anymore.
And I know that because I once had the duty to interview a lot of the workers in the so called rust belt and nearly all of them were so ‘sad’… so sad – that they were willing -(like Mario) to ‘set the whole damn thing on fire’.
And if you told them: ‘That might be a bit… like shooting yourself in your own foot’ many of them reacted just like a ‘Twittering Trump’ and then you just had to give them a hug…

38

nastywoman 06.30.17 at 7:59 am

and from @34
very, very funny:
‘The success of Trump is an historical anomaly – the rich and powerful usually win.’

– As a rich and powerful won (Von Clownstick) – who pretented -(that is true!) – that he wasn’t rich and powerful…

39

Collin Street 06.30.17 at 9:31 am

Well it’s a good question whether more Trumps are on the way! Trumps have existed since the beginning of time. Pathological narcissists with short attention span. Sociopaths who will run right over you if you get in their way. In need of an MDMA counseling session, followed by a lifepath of meditation.

I’m starting to form some crystalisation of an idea that fascism is, like, a cellular-slime-mould of the overprivileged and undeserving: when the environment becomes threatening to them, when people start to ask questions like, “why do we put up with this shit”, the dispersed arseholes start to aggregate into a headless, thoughtless monstrosity with no motivation or cognition beyond its own reflexive survival.

40

J-D 06.30.17 at 9:34 am

Doctor Memory

I think that you got it pretty well, ah, Dead Right back in 2003. In fact I think you got it so right then that I’ve been thinking about that article a lot, and forcing some people to re-read it.

Then you probably want to put in a link that works?

41

reason 06.30.17 at 10:01 am

Mario,
“because most of the behavior by Trump that is labelled ‘incompetence’ seems to be mostly about propriety”

No is ISN’T – it is about subject matter ignorance and tactical stupidity and indiscipline. Incompetence is what makes him less effective.

42

Lee A. Arnold 06.30.17 at 11:27 am

Tamara Piety #2,

I share your concerns. It seems like an overwhelming set of conditions:

(a) The end of one-way broadcast media that once provided a national narrative and weeded-out some of the worst falsehoods, for about 100 years — and had made the “information consumers” passive, and quite unready for

(b) the rise of internet and social media, which has leveled the information providers suddenly, but allows extremists to flourish more easily, and returns us to the “yellow journalism” days of the 19th Century.

Then there is the nature of the information, itself:

(c) The complexity of the real world is growing, especially in political & environmental dangers — with two further effects: it is hard to wrap your mind around it all, and therefore, many people search for simplistic, emotional, and monocausal solutions.

(d) The system of capitalism is putting itself out-of-business (as many in the 19th Century foresaw) by being so successful as to provide its goods to satiation, while shedding itself of labor. But people still need the money, under the peculiar system of financing, to buy the goods — and people still maintain the quasi-religious (and quite modern) belief that money and property ownership define self-worth (a.k.a. the “Protestant ethic”), and further, that we must maintain the fear of the lack-of-money, in order to make people productive and creative.

PR practitioners themselves are also subjected to these same conditions, and so we are being further ill-advised and misled.

So now, someone with the skimpiest set of catchphrases wins the Presidency. A snake-oil salesman, a swamp-property seller, who found a slim advantage in the vast political disarray.

If things get bad enough, a Constitutional convention, which some of the plutocratic loonies are striving for, might erase the check-and-balances which are holding this particular guy in stasis.

The plutos really don’t like Trump al(though he may get them some tax cuts), but they may be very happy if the next swamp-drainer can run the whole show. I agree with you, it is worrisome.

43

Continental 06.30.17 at 12:08 pm

38 [Trump] “pretented -(that is true!) – that he wasn’t rich and powerful…”

Really? To the contrary, he bragged about his wealth, claiming it proved his qualification for the presidency. He relished in bragging how he was so rich and powerful he could game the system, bribe politicians, get away with paying no taxes, and even kill somebody in open daylight with impunity. And his supporters loved all of it, just lapped it up. I’m convinced hardly any of them would have voted for him had he not been rich and powerful. His whole candidacy was built on his plutocratic appeal.

44

nastywoman 06.30.17 at 12:22 pm

– but as it now ALL comes down to a battle between Mika Brzezinski and the US President I had to change from: ”Not being worried”
to –
“I’m really worried.” -(like Mrs. Brzezinski)

So I’m also really ”worried” about our (beloved) ”President”?
Is he really ”not well.”
AND will Mika ”win”?

AND is it true ”that the man is not mentally equipped to continue watching ‘Morning Joe’??!
OR ”should he really exclusively watch “Fox & Friends.”

These are the questions my homeland HAS to solve – and perhaps we just have to do one of these ‘Family Interventions’ -(my family did with aunt Assunta in 1982?)

45

soullite 06.30.17 at 12:29 pm

You people can keep trying to convince yourself otherwise, but it comes down to two things:

Experts don’t appear to have any actual expertise; they appear to be conmen and astrologers hired by rich people to lie to us. This goes for every economist, every journalist, every teacher…not just the big ‘experts’, but the little ones. Free Trade was a lie. The recovery was a lie. ‘They broke no laws!’ is obviously a lie; if the Attorney General got clever, he’d have found something to hang those bankers on.

The second is, Obama was a terrible President who only cared about appearances and processes, and not at all about results. He let most of the country rot–if any of you left your enclaves and drove across this country (not fly, not take a train, no busses; just drive all the way across it) you’d see that the dead and dying communities outnumber the thriving ones 2-to-1. And you had no answers to that. You pretended like you shouldn’t even try. Trump said ‘Let’s Make America Great Again!’ and your idiotic rejoiner–which I’m sure would have worked great when you were kids and the country was doing better–was ‘What, isn’t America Great already’?

You didn’t lose because of some untapped racism or a hatred of the other. The most prominent blamers of a demographic group for america’s troubles has got to, at this point, be mainstream liberals blaming White Men (most of whom are broke and powerless) for all of america’s problems. No, the problem is that you seem like clueless technocrats in a time when nobody trusts technocrats.

46

Lee A. Arnold 06.30.17 at 12:31 pm

Kidneystones #34: “If I boldly claimed that HRC would win, I might insert an ‘My predictive powers are suspect on the topic of Trump are suspect at best…'”

Speaking for myself, I wrote here probably 4 or 5 times under the assumption that Trump might win, starting back in August 2016, right after the GOP convention. As soon as Trump won the Republican nomination, most political insiders who were writing on the web assumed anything was possible. I am not one of those, but this was a risk-free observation, you don’t need to be prescient: The U.S. electorate is closely 50/50 tribal, the RNC & DNC will always go all out for their candidates, and Presidential contests have usually been tight in the last decades. Jeez, even Hillary said it would be a close election.

47

Donald 06.30.17 at 1:14 pm

Continental–

I don’t see the contradiction in people empathizing with a subset of poor Trump voters and seeing Trump as an authoritarian. I know some affluent Trump supporters and have no empathy for their political choices. The entire Republican Party should be burned to the ground as far as I am concerned, though I have a soft spot for the libertarian element when they criticize our stupid wars and drug policies. But people like Rand Paul balance their admirable stance on, say, Yemen, with horrible stances on most other things.

48

Glen Tomkins 06.30.17 at 4:24 pm

Insofar as Trump won because voters sick of messaging and dog whistles were attracted to what they perceive as his anti-messaging plain speaking, it is not going to be easy to reproduce that success. These people haven’t turned on him yet because so far what we perceive as part of his overall incompetence — his intemperate rage tweets, etc. — is exactly why they voted for him. He’s not afraid to say what he thinks, however politically incorrect.

But these people do expect him to produce results. They aren’t attracted to the outrageous things Trump says for the content (many of them voted for Obama, twice), but because they give hope that, finally, we have a politician willing to break out of the paralyzing stasis that US politics has degenerated into. You have to have glasnost before you can have perestroika.

But Trump is going to have to start delivering on the hope that the presumed thinking outside the box that is behind this iconoclastic speech, means that he will soon be delivering dramatic results. The idea is that the US has tied itself in Gordian knots with all this PC speech and PC thinking, and that’s why things aren’t going well. In every field, all that has to happen to make dramatic progress flow, is to cut the knots and start asserting America’s interests, to start getting the US the better deals it deserves and could have gotten if only the conventional politicians had asserted our might. Instead they let themselves be tied up in knots of PC thinking, and conceded too much in bad deals with our competitors and rivals.

This is nonsense of course. There are no dramatic and easy wins to be had, well, short of the program I outlined above at #16, which is exactly the opposite content to any perestroika Trump and his party would want. And even if there were dramatic wins that perhaps a competent person leading Trump’s party might be able to achieve, Trump is not that competent person.

It is perhaps not too late for some competent Mayor of the Palace to emerge in the Trump administration or their Congressional leadership who could get something done. But this person would still not have any dramatic wins he or she could engineer to keep the hope in Trump alive, except perhaps foreign adventures using US military might to create a tributary American Empire, or some such exotica. Such a “Dare to be great, America!” scheme could be made to work, but I can’t say I see anyone busting to make it work.

What seems more likely is that Trump will not prove governable, not by any eminence grise who has a grand scheme to make Trumpism a continuing success by getting some dramatic wins, and not even by such a person or group willing to settle for merely ordinary, modest and incremental achievements in office. He’s got dementia with behavioral disturbance.

Even if the latter possibility comes to pass, and competent handlers get control of Trump and steer his administration down a consensus R path, in the model of the Reagan administration, the people who voted for him in the hope that he would deliver perestroika are going to turn on him. Modest achievements won’t do it, and especially because they will only be gained if Trump very obviously accepts the role of the roi fainéant to this competent Mayor of the Palace.

Trumpism is going to be discredited for a generation or more by the eventual but inevitable failure of Trump to achieve anything but chaos. Okay, inevitable unless he goes full Fourth Reich. But that, even if it works short term, ends in a bigger disaster, and Trumpism is discredited for centuries instead.

49

Continental 06.30.17 at 5:21 pm

Donald 47, how does empathy change your evaluation of the motives of Trump voters?

Glen 48: “But these people do expect him to produce results. They aren’t attracted to the outrageous things Trump says for the content (many of them voted for Obama, twice), but because they give hope that, finally, we have a politician willing to break out of the paralyzing stasis that US politics has degenerated into.”

The evidence doesn’t support this. Trump is still highly popular among his base, despite his total failure to deliver any economic benefits to them, and even despite the fact – which by now is well known – that his actual policies are likely to hurt the demographics that supported him especially hard. There’s now a whole journalistic genre where reporters go to Trumpland to ask the natives what they think about Trumpcare etc., and the response is invariably that people who are going to lose their healthcare etc. still stand by their man. They really do care about the content of those outrageous things that Trump said: The hatred for liberals, the misogyny, the racism, the contempt for science and knowledge and competence – it’s important to them. It’s what motivates them. To think otherwise is delusional.

[Why the moderation re 06.30.17 at 12:08 pm?]

50

Continental 06.30.17 at 5:58 pm

Also Glen 16: “But our side is 110% for being tough on crime, and our legislators vote for every bill that sends more blacks to jail, and keeps them there forever.”

This is the leftist version of the old “both sides do it” narrative. I’m tired of it. Fact is that Trump is undoing evey one of Obama’s steps in the right direction, fact is that Trump’s successful law and order rhetoric killed the best chance at justice reform in decades (https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/17/us/politics/senate-dysfunction-blocks-bipartisan-criminal-justice-overhaul.html).

“we never, even when we have the trifecta, vote to decriminalize the 11 million illegal aliens”

Obama tried to shield millions of undocumented immigrants by executive order and was overturned. And what do you mean “when we have the trifecta”? The US electoral system prevents even the dream of a truly progressive trifecta. Even in the best case scenario, no reform can pass Comgress without support from Senators from conservative states. Ultimately it’s American voters who block the kinds of reforms we’d like to see. That Dem lawmakers are reluctant to appear soft on crime or pro-“amnesty” is because they know they WILL lose the next election if they do. Even the most progressive politician can’t make that fact go away.

51

nastywoman 06.30.17 at 5:58 pm

@44
‘if any of you left your enclaves and drove across this country (not fly, not take a train, no busses; just drive all the way across it)’ – you’d see that the dead and dying communities outnumber the thriving ones 2-to-1.’

Seeing them – I never thought that is a good enough reason to vote for an incompetent idiot? – as – if you mean by ‘you’ Americas Liberals the ‘sad’ part -(for you?) might be that most of Americas Liberals still live very happily in a lot of ‘thriving’ communities on the two coasts and what you might call ‘You’ – didn’t actually ‘lose’ at all.

The tragedy -(for anybody who has a lot of… let’s call it: ‘sympathy’ for Americas workers) is – that THEY – the dying communities – by supposedly ‘winning’ – and erecting Trump – might be (again) the losers – in a dimension a President like Obama prevented for 8 years?

52

Glen Tomkins 06.30.17 at 6:01 pm

soullite,

I agree with you that Obama was a bad president, and the Ds have systematically failed to be better than awful.

But however bad things are, they can always be made worse. And no reasonable person would have imagined, just because Trump was willing to say outrageous out-of-the box things, that meant he was going to be some Huey Long once elected, a politician who was going to right all the wrongs by overturning the conventional political order that serves only the privileged.

It doesn’t take any fancy expertise, just common sense, to see that Trump is demented. Your common man oppressed by technocratic centrists had the responsibility to pay attention and see that Trump belonged in custodial care, not the White House, before voting to make him the most powerful man in the known universe.

We have to work with what we’re given. We have to trust experts outside our field of expertise because we cannot be experts in everything. Yes, experts can be wrong, and yes, they can give advice out of self-interest rather then your interest, so you need to take their advice with a grain of salt. But you really, really need to not let your frustration with the complicated question of what expert advice to take make you turn to panaceas and miracle cures and the quacks who offer them.

Our two parties are like competing schools of medicine back in the days when there really wasn’t much difference between medicine and astrology. I always vote for the Ds, not because I have much respect for their “expertise” at running the world, but because you need a majority to get anything done, and the other school of political medicine is clearly and consistently even worse. There hasn’t been an election I’ve ever voted in where I didn’t have to settle for the lesser of two evils. Trump was clearly, from the point of view of anyone who bothered to pay any attention at all, the greater of two evils, not just for technocrats, but for middle America.

53

Mario 06.30.17 at 9:29 pm

It doesn’t take any fancy expertise, just common sense, to see that Trump is demented.

I disagree. I don’t think he’s demented. He’s just not conforming to your standards of propriety in a fairly crass way, and I think many people are unable to see the difference. So he (e.g.) flirts with a reporter while talking to the Taoiseach, and that’s so far off accepted norms (note the passive voice! – accepted by whom?) that – well. If he usually followed these norms accepted by whomsoever and suddenly didn’t, then you might have a case. But it’s quite different from when Yeltzin was high on vodka. That was a clear case.

The fact is that to a lot of people, the man just comes across as refreshingly human in comparison to, say, Hillary Clinton. Really. This is the, perhaps absurd, reality on the ground.

Your common man oppressed by technocratic centrists had the responsibility to pay attention and see that Trump belonged in custodial care, not the White House, before voting to make him the most powerful man in the known universe.

They had the right to vote for whomever they pleased, for whatever reason that fancied them. That’s what free elections mean.

54

Layman 06.30.17 at 9:50 pm

“There hasn’t been an election I’ve ever voted in where I didn’t have to settle for the lesser of two evils.”

Has there ever been any other kind of election? Has any voter in history actually pulled the lever for any candidate while being in total accord both with said candidate’s avowed aspirations and predictable actions?

55

kidneystones 06.30.17 at 10:22 pm

@ 45 In Lee A. Arnold’s version of the 2016 election practically everyone from Tom Hanks to all the ‘experts’ publicly predicted a close race that Trump could very well win. The NYT on election night declared the race 50-50, not 98-2. Commenter after commenter reminded the CT community the race was 50-50. Holbo and Corey were not vilified for allowing in OPs that Clinton might lose. Twas a happy time buoyed by tolerance, good will, and a desire to hear from all sides. Nobody was accused of racism, or fascism for supporting the Republican candidate and we have since entered a period of happy reconciliation in which the losing side, including the press, has accepted the will of the voters. The losing candidate affirms whenever she can that the sitting president won fair and square and never asserts that his campaign colluded with a foreign government to steal the election.

I had no idea you only offered opinions on the outcome of the election 4 or 5 times.

Who knew?

56

kidneystones 06.30.17 at 10:58 pm

I do strongly believe, however, that many recognized the transparent dishonesty of HRC and the fact that many voters were looking for something more than ‘My turn, now’ in a candidate. Rather than look at the facts (Trump’s Obama-like ability to beat the field in the primaries), the fearful allowed themselves to be hooked on Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric, much as some are now.

As for Trump’s ‘chaotic and ineffective’ performance as POTUS, the same holds true. Trump-haters evidently believe that Republican voters focus on Trump’s tweets, rather than Trump’s already impressive record – such as placing one conservative justice on the Supreme Court with another likely to follow. Scrapping the TPPP, approving Keystone, withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord all count among Trump’s victories and go into the win column for Republican voters.

The stock market may well crash, but currently teachers’ pension funds invested in the market have grown at a dramatic rate in the first six months of the administration. I don’t believe Trump will accomplish very much of what he promised but the media and others have set the bar so impossibly low (agent of a foreign power-Putin stooge) that perceptions of success in many key areas are assured among large segments of the public, with concrete material evidence such as an improved stock market to buttress Trump’s 2020 chances.

Given that Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric did not disqualify him during the Republican primaries and did not disqualify him during the general election, the oh-so-wise are left to declare that Trump’s tweets will disqualify him from serving as president – with a mountain of recent evidence suggesting the exact opposite is true. Few here understand, predicted, or recognize Trump’s appeal and so transform his supporters into bigots, racists, imbeciles, and fascists. As such, Trump critics are uniquely unqualified to predict what the Trump future holds, at least until they can establish and move past their own confirmation biases. Such a transformation may never occur.

Unless this changes, Trump’s re-election in 2020 looks highly likely.

57

Collin Street 06.30.17 at 11:13 pm

It doesn’t take any fancy expertise, just common sense, to see that Trump is demented.

An awful lot of people simply don’t know what “demented” looks like. I mean, sure, they recognise that Trump’s behaviour isn’t normal->typical, but that it’s not normal->actually-abnormal/symptomatic… that’s a connection that needs education and learning. And without that, you can see all the signs that are there but you won’t know what they signal.

58

bob mcmanus 07.01.17 at 1:31 am

Well, Trump busted through and loosed the id monster – as many have noted.

Except the critters from the id are like global, showing up all over everwhere.

The key to 2016 showed up in April, when the Internet overwhelming voted to name the new British exploration vessel…Boaty McBoatface. I saw that and thought we are so ficked. Eijanaika, we were in a pre-revolutionary condition. Still comin’ on, with a metallic taste and some speedy effects.

“Boaty McBoatface” needs to be coherently incorporated into our political analysis. Ain’t so racist. Not a cry for economic relief. Not even partisan. Not even goal directed, it is absurdity for its own sake, jouissance of breaking out of subject positions. A mob, not a crowd. It will not be quieted with pablum or policy.

Let this slow motion riot intensify.

59

Doctor Memory 07.01.17 at 1:40 am

J-D sheesh, no clue what happened there. The link was supposed to go to: http://examinedlife.typepad.com/johnbelle/2003/11/dead_right.html

60

Collin Street 07.01.17 at 1:42 am

@MarioHe’s just not conforming to your standards of propriety in a fairly crass way, and I think many people are unable to see the difference.

Err, no. We can cancel out most of the impact of our interpretations and preferences on our assessment by seeing how effective people are at achieving what they want. “What they want” is obviously our interpretation, but the scientific evidence we have strongly suggests that we can get a fair idea.

And so. We compare-and-contrast “what they want” from “what they get”, eliminating most — not all, but the vast majority — of the impact of our own preferences. And we can evaluate people on their own terms, and when we do this… Trump performs poorly, as do the republican anti-obamacare crowd, as do the Brexit Brigade in the UK, as do the hard-right members of the liberal party in australia.

“Demented” is appropriate. Our judgement of a person’s ability to achieve their ends can be usefully distinguished from our judgement of those ends.

[see also, the application of this to you. You want to persuade us that right-wingers are rational, no? But you do so badly, because you write things that are untrue, casting doubt about the reliability of your knowledge and interpretations.]

61

Glen Tomkins 07.01.17 at 2:09 am

Collin Street,

Loss of executive function isn’t subtle, and doesn’t require technical expertise to spot. Blowing the alibi you got your lawyers to concoct for you over firing Comey by telling a reporter, with the cameras rolling, the actual reason you fired Comey, isn’t the action of somebody who is just dim. Firing Comey, obviously against all competent advice, wasn’t the act of someone who is just dim, or narcissistic. Maybe he is dim and narcissistic, but people who have those qualities keep them under control when the practical stakes are high enough. If you can’t do that you’ve lost executive function. Had Trump not been able to control his narcissism in the 90s when his casino business went bust, his business would not have survived. But he was able to find competent counsel then, and was willing to take their advice, however deflating a business model that left him with compared to being a casino mogul wheeler-dealer. Now he can’t even keep an alibi straight.

There are other indicators that admittedly might take some expert knowledge. His vocabulary is diminished and his syntax is fractured compared to videos of him 10 or 20 years ago. Maybe that takes an expert to make a diagnosis. Inability to keep the thread on something basic and obviously vital to his staying on in the WH, like not blowing his alibi, that’s not subtle and doesn’t require an expert.

Admittedly, we have the best evidence for the period after he became president. And, admittedly, it is sort of a Republican thing lately to favor candidates who talk like the angry drunk at the end of the bar who won’t shut up. Early on in the campaign, when I had only seen snippets of his rallies and the R debates, I just assumed his irrationality was play-acting the part of the angry common man, etc., etc. — the standard Republican pose lately. That theory didn’t survive my first extended view of him, the first 20 minutes of his first debate with Clinton. There simply was no pattern to his idiocy, nothing to suggest, or even allow, the theory that this was either a sincere expression of resentment, or was just some act, a consciously projected persona of resentment. He really was and is demented. There are still acts playing in all three rings, but the circus master has departed the tent. None of the activity meshes. It is obviously not directed anymore by any intact executive function.

62

nastywoman 07.01.17 at 5:29 am

53 –
”The fact is that to a lot of people, the man just comes across as refreshingly human in comparison to, say, Hillary Clinton.”

”Unless this changes, Trump’s re-election in 2020 looks highly likely.”
– 56

Well – that would be just another ‘amazing’ outcome of democracy ‘Made in USA’ –
In-it?
and so the American people will get again what they want – ‘refreshingly human’? – and one has to absolutely love them for such a ‘refreshingly human’ expression of ‘democracy’ – where out of the midst of them – the utmost ‘refreshingly human’ get’s… erected.

-(and there might be hope – that in 2020 – there are no comments here anymore about the erection of 2o16 and Hilary Clinton?)

63

J-D 07.01.17 at 5:36 am

soullite
It is important to recognise that experts are often wrong — indeed, it’s folly not to recognise this; but to suppose, on that basis, that non-experts are more likely to be correct than experts is also folly. ‘Always believe the expert’ is a bad answer to the question ‘Who should I believe?’, but ‘Always disbelieve the expert; believe the non-expert instead’ is a much worse one.

… Obama was a terrible President who only cared about appearances and processes, and not at all about results. He let most of the country rot–if any of you left your enclaves and drove across this country (not fly, not take a train, no busses; just drive all the way across it) you’d see that the dead and dying communities outnumber the thriving ones 2-to-1. And you had no answers to that. You pretended like you shouldn’t even try. Trump said ‘Let’s Make America Great Again!’ and your idiotic rejoiner–which I’m sure would have worked great when you were kids and the country was doing better–was ‘What, isn’t America Great already’?

Why do you suppose that everybody here lives in one of the enclaves you’re referring to? Several of us don’t live in the US at all; I don’t know where most commenters live, American or otherwise, so it could easily be that several of the American ones live outside the enclaves. Of course, you don’t identify the ‘enclaves’ you’re referring to, so if we all told you where we lived, you could retroactively declare all those places to be ‘enclaves’, but that would not be an honest way of arguing. This could all easily be part of a strategy (not necessarily a conscious one) to find excuses to dismiss commentary here without engaging with its substance. For example, nobody here wrote that America is great already, but that seems to have had no effect on your decision to refer to it as an idiotic rejoinder; you insist that Obama was a terrible President as if people here had suggested that he was a good President, which nobody did.

Also, the existence of dead-and-dying communities provides no justification for voting for Trump, or for any other Republican; the Republicans are not going to bring those communities back to life. If people voted for Trump because that’s what they thought he was going to do, they were duped.

The most prominent blamers of a demographic group for america’s troubles has got to, at this point, be mainstream liberals blaming White Men (most of whom are broke and powerless) for all of america’s problems.

No mainstream liberal has blamed White Men for all of America’s problems, but repeating that gross distortion can provide an another excuse for failing to come to grips with what the people who disagree with you do actually say.

64

nastywoman 07.01.17 at 5:55 am

– and about 48 –
”The idea is that the US has tied itself in Gordian knots with all this PC speech and PC thinking, and that’s why things aren’t going well.”

That’s why the US is changing it – and the ‘refreshingly human’ speech and thinking of Trump might become the new ‘Political Correctness’ – and at my last visit to the homeland there already – everywhere were the signs of this ‘transformation’ as more than a few -(mostly older dudes) – told me that they don’t want to have a ‘filter’ NO more’ and/or – how liberating it is to operate without ‘a filter’ – and as I understand this concept very well -(from what I heard from our family intervention – from 1982 – concerning aunt Assunta) –
she afterwards took up knitting again -(and it helped her a lot) –
So perhaps there is also hope for our ‘Dear Leader’ – if he takes on some other hobby than Golfing?

65

None 07.01.17 at 7:05 am

soullite@45 – “Experts don’t appear to have any actual expertise; they appear to be conmen and astrologers hired by rich people to lie to us.”

Heh, the cult of the “common man” vs the expert. All this belligerence cannot hide the naked truth that Trumpism (and brexit) is drenched in the self-pity, rage & envy of the left behind at the more ambitious and more capable. And in racism too.

BTW – how’s Trumpcare working out for you ? Thanks in advance for the tax cut.

66

b9n10nt 07.01.17 at 7:29 am

Social enlightenment recedes
before gathering networks
of production and distribution.

The search for political community
is persistent,
ill-defined.

Rancorous.

As we fence ourselves off
in networks of communication,

Forever deciding nothing.

Must we seek those
who will speak our name
when the contracts are written

And then retreat before
a Force we have yet
to see?

67

nastywoman 07.01.17 at 7:39 am

– and about this prediction thing – where in the US everybody is so proud if she or he predicts when who will when – have an e…lection – that is much more difficult than in Europe where so called ‘politics’ are far less emotional and it is easy to predict (for example) that the French or the Germany won’t erect a crazy Man-Baby as their ‘Leader’ –
(and not even ‘Fascists’) anymore – and so commenters like Kidneystones or Mario couldn’t be more right – In the US you need to be a lot more… how did kidney stones word it? : ‘refreshingly human’ – to predict the outcome of the next erection.

And as Kidneystones and Mario pointed US to the facts that in the US -(concerning ‘erections’) we always might face rather a ‘human’ than a ‘political’ problem – let me quote two of the greatest philosophers and poets I know.

1. Gerry Lopez
“It’s A Cakewalk, When You Know How.”
and
2. the great Phil Edwards:
“The Best Surfer Out There Is The One Having The Most Fun.”
And for anybody who surf’s a lot -(‘waves’ and not only the Intertubes) – the fact that ‘politics’ or ‘political discourse’ is very low in (American) intercourse – while at the same time there never was much PC -(as little as in my comments) – in any surfers mind – perhaps Trump -(and Kidneystones and Mario) – should take on ‘surfing’ to finally get fully ‘stoked’?

as one of our heroes Gerry Lopez said:
“It’s A Cakewalk, When You Know How.”

or the great Phil Edwards:
“The Best Surfer Out There Is The One Having The Most Fun.”

68

reason 07.01.17 at 8:37 am

“No mainstream liberal has blamed White Men for all of America’s problems, but repeating that gross distortion can provide an another excuse for failing to come to grips with what the people who disagree with you do actually say.”

I disagree with that to some extent. They are to blame. They vote GOP.

69

reason 07.01.17 at 8:40 am

P.S. I am sick of tired of the problems that the reduction of all of politics to “the President” makes. It is long past time that a few Americans (apart from the clear exception of Matthew Yglesias https://www.vox.com/2015/3/2/8120063/american-democracy-doomed ) started to call for America to get rid of the elected monarchy and have a proper democracy.

70

reason 07.01.17 at 8:56 am

P.P.S. I am also sick and tired (not just sick of being tired of ) having to point out these obvious things.

71

Collin Street 07.01.17 at 9:07 am

So perhaps there is also hope for our ‘Dear Leader’ – if he takes on some other hobby than Golfing?

My dad points out that golfing is a market that’s likely on a long-term and sustained down trend; golf courses have all the same problematic aspects as coal mines.

72

Continental 07.01.17 at 11:11 am

“if any of you left your enclaves and drove across this country (not fly, not take a train, no busses; just drive all the way across it)”?

Have you ever been in a big city? What do you know about poverty, and deep poverty, about the housing market, the state of schools, in say Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago, Washington DC? Not to mention Detroit or Flint. All these places where people vote 80- 95% Democratic. Do you have any f***ing idea what real life is in those parts of America where Trump isn’t popular? I have lived in Arkansas and Philadelphia. It is true that most people in either place know next to nothing about the other place. What is not true is that the one is privileged and the other neglected. True is that rural and urban America are facing different problems. It doesn’t take a genius to recognize that. True is also that urban America has been systematically underinvested in for decades, and that rural America is politically way overrepresented to the point that state legislatures are systematically withholding funds from the big cities on which the state’s economy depend, systematically starving their tranit systems and their schools. My experiencei n Philly has been that the republican reps from rural areas do this out of pure malice, pure hatred for the urban liberals. There is no rational reason since they are really sawing off the branch they are sitting on. Even NYC, though more affluent than most cities, is in that predicament.

I have never heard urban Americans express the kind of hatred for rural America that is routinely expressed towards them (by politicians like Sarah Palin for example).

73

Continental 07.01.17 at 11:15 am

I also never ever heard of an urban politician who suggested that rural Americans don’t deserve emergency help when hit by a natural disaster, yet large numbers of Republicans (e.g. from AR, TX) voted against emergency help after Hurricane Sandy. Please acknowledge reality once in a while and leave us alone with your fairy tale version of America.

74

Faustusnotes 07.01.17 at 12:35 pm

Regarding “coming across as more human than Clinton ” – in the 1980s jimmy savile was a much loved tv show host. He was also a paedophile and a bully. Watch any interview with him now, if you’re the age that we’re children when he was a much loved children’s show host, and his creepiness and weirdness is inescapable. But to our parents generation he was just great, a fine upstanding guy. Our parents generation is also the generation that overwhelmingly voted for brexit, trump and May.

That generation are fucked up. Sure, every generation has people who love bullies and creeps, but for that generation those kinds of people have somehow been normalized. We just have to wait for that generation to stop voting – or mobilize a much larger proportion of the subsequent generations. Because that generation are going to take us all to hell if they get a chance.

75

nastywoman 07.01.17 at 1:21 pm

– or what did Macron just say in Strasbourg:

‘L’Europe est l’histoire de femmes et d’hommes qui ont eu le courage de s’élever contre les haines. Elle nous rassemble aujourd’hui.’

Could be tried in the US too?

76

J-D 07.01.17 at 1:30 pm

Glen Tomkins

I always vote for the Ds, not because I have much respect for their “expertise” at running the world, but because you need a majority to get anything done, and the other school of political medicine is clearly and consistently even worse. There hasn’t been an election I’ve ever voted in where I didn’t have to settle for the lesser of two evils.

Layman

Has there ever been any other kind of election? Has any voter in history actually pulled the lever for any candidate while being in total accord both with said candidate’s avowed aspirations and predictable actions?

A vote is a chess move, not a love letter. Evil doesn’t come into it, and neither does total accord. Chess players look to select the superior moves and to reject the inferior moves. The inferior moves aren’t evil, just inferior; and the superior moves are only that, not embodiments of deepest identity and aspirations. I’ve never voted for a candidate or a party I considered evil; I’ve never voted against one I considered evil, either. Evil is a strong word, and light use of it obfuscates.

77

bruce wilder 07.01.17 at 3:56 pm

bob mcmanus @ 58: I had to look up Eijanaika, but, yes. pre-revolutionary times.

in the discussion elsewhere on the French Revolution, I wanted to bring up the Affair of the Diamond Necklace, that strange episode that illustrated (I was going to write, “pre-figured” but there was nothing “pre” about it; it had already happened) the loss of legitimacy and which the young Talleyrand recognized perspicaciously at the time as the beginning of the end. But, yes, Boaty McBoatface is both apt and far more familiar to many.

Collin wants to diagnose Trump as if this farce is the lunacy of an individual and not the madness of crowds. Donald @ 14 has a great illustration: Rachel Maddow isn’t personally crazy in a psychiatric sense (what she is is rich, which ought to be warning enough to the rest of us that she doesn’t really care what she’s saying, ka-ching), but her media persona is so detached from journalistic integrity (a contradiction in terms for many prominent pundits and “personalities” for at least a generation) and any fixed relation to objective reality in the promotion of narratives that she’s leading people to a political madness as bizarre in its way as Teh Donald’s Tweets™. If Mika milks her feud half as effectively as Megyn Kelly did, who knows how rich she can become, or how demented her audience.

In the Affair of the Diamond Necklace, it didn’t matter what Marie Antoinette said or what was done in terms of legal proceedings, what mattered was what thoughts filtered dream-like thru the public mind, thru the thoughts of the crowd and those ideas were at the same time untethered to any rational appreciation of actual facts and yet perceptive of the general regime rot. It was a mood. (Akin perhaps to the sometimes festive, sometimes bewildered, sometimes bloody popular mood that accompanied the Meiji Restoration, a supremely radical shift rallied by strangely reactionary slogans.)

I don’t think Donald Trump is clinically crazy or any more incompetent than the bankster-owned war monger who spent $1.4 billion (saw that figure in a headline, no idea how that total was totalled) losing to him. (Note to Collin: anyone who can get himself elected seems pretty effective in purely selfish terms to me; ymmv, of course.) But, in the Affaire de la Comey, I think “we” might be driving him crazy. The idea that Trump is “obstructing justice” must seem to Trump to be akin to schizophrenia in others: people talking to voices only they hear about things that never happened. I have little sympathy for the Birther-in-Chief — live by the sword, die by the sword; Trump did as much as anyone to create a political discourse where facts, integrity and considered judgment do not matter. Let the Monster kill Frankenstein. But, it does seem the rest of us are not going to escape the consequences as the remnants of the political Media discard the last constraints of fact-based journalism to chase a “scandal”. Watergate was itself at least a half-farce; Whitewater was Watergate history repeating as d0uble-farce; what, then, is this threepeat? (I want to throw up when I hear the hack, Robert Mueller, touted as respected, etc.)

Probably not a good idea for any 70 year old to take up the Office of the Presidency with no previous experience of office, established political alliances, etc. It is not like any 70- year-old is a quick learner or an energetic marathoner. Reagan was demented even before he was demented, but he had long experience in office and several layers of a long-established Presidential Party around him — an orchestra that could play his or their favorite tunes even when the nominal conductor had left the podium or could no longer keep time. People like Edwin Meece and Caspar Weinberger were highly effective and skilled as institutional, bureaucratic actors (– Meece went on to a little appreciated or noted, but highly effective career undermining liberal academia, but that’s another story). Trump has Jared as mini-me and Steve Bannon — that’s not a psychiatric condition; it is a crisis in personnel, but it might be indistinguishable in practice. Besieged by a Media completely willing to take its narrative scripts willy nilly from Unnamed Officials, Clintonistas who should retire but won’t, deep state spooks and who knows who else, and the NY Times thinking copy editors are now redundant to the manufacture of consent, they surely have little idea of how to move the levers of the machine available to those in the driver’s seat they occupy, and they are not likely to learn in this noisy chaos where everything they do begets a seemingly bizarre reaction from the elite establishment and bewildered non-reaction from a distant and numb non-elite that cannot process the overload of fake news from all directions.

78

engels 07.01.17 at 5:39 pm

Somewhat OT but I was interested to see this Bloomberg piece yesterday on (sections of) CT’s BAE Emmanuel Macron;
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-06-29/the-french-president-is-spending-his-summer-fighting-unions

79

Mario 07.01.17 at 9:40 pm

My recent glimpse into the Man’s twitter feed seems to suggest that he’s not quite done yet with going medieval on this Overton thing. On the other hand, he seems to be pursuing quite a few ‘presidential’ activities unrelated to fighting with media celebrities over absurdities.

I think I’ve seen his behavior used before for practical effect by Chavez (completely different person and political reality of course). At regular intervals, he seems to have felt that it was time to mess things up and say something outrageous to keep the press and opposition in a fit. Maybe it’s the same strategy, maybe it is really just the character of some people. I’ve heard Berlusconi did similar things (Erdogan? I know to little of that man). In any case, it works. Since the opposition never gets to be presidential (by not having that president position) they end up being the ones looking like all they do is talk trash. And, unwittingly, they keep insulting people who voted for him and like his policies, which, whatever the merits, is just really bad as a marketing strategy.

One’s mileage is bound to vary on how thought out or good etc his actions are but he doesn’t look, to me at least, mentally paralyzed or confused. Incidentally, I bet his crackdown on illegal immigration is going to be quite popular. The marketing aspect of that is impeccable (the naming, the framing), something I fear gets lost on most folks who do not have to do with marketing regularly. I bet he did the marketing concept mostly by himself.

I wonder how the Democrats will find a candidate with the formidable level of stamina and skill needed to face such a political Godzilla. And how they will avoid appointing someone incapable of that but that ticks the right identity boxes instead. Incidentally, I really hope they get their act together.

80

F. Foundling 07.01.17 at 10:22 pm

@63
>but to suppose … that non-experts are more likely to be correct than experts is also folly.

Non-experts are more likely to be correct than experts *when it is in the interest of experts to be incorrect* (as recognised, at least, by 52). 52 nevertheless concludes that people should continue to trust experts, just ‘with a grain of salt’, and that one shouldn’t let one’s frustration make one turn to non-experts. Sorry, but this is a ball in the experts’ court. Whether the public will trust the experts will depend on whether the experts earn that trust.

81

nastywoman 07.02.17 at 3:51 am

– while beautiful bad breath – smelly feet Trump tweeted finally that ‘Crazy Joe Scarborough and dumb as a rock Mika are not bad people’ – while he told Veterans that they are not – while he is ‘erected’ reminded me that once – when we were at Mar a Lago and my dad was in the restroom reliving himself and Trump showed up next besides him – and Trump asked him: How much -(probably ‘money’) – do you got and the only thing my dad could answer was:
‘I like to discuss politics instead – on a very high level’!

82

J-D 07.02.17 at 11:50 am

reason
Are you a mainstream liberal?

83

J-D 07.02.17 at 11:58 am

F. Foundling

Non-experts are more likely to be correct than experts *when it is in the interest of experts to be incorrect*

I suppose it may sometimes be in the interest of experts to be incorrect; I suppose it may also sometimes be in the interest of non-experts to be incorrect. To suppose that this is more likely to happen to experts than to non-experts is another folly.

Sorry, but this is a ball in the experts’ court. Whether the public will trust the experts will depend on whether the experts earn that trust.

To prefer reposing trust in non-experts who have not earned that trust to reposing trust in experts who have not earned that trust is yet another folly.

84

Layman 07.02.17 at 12:24 pm

J-D: “Evil is a strong word, and light use of it obfuscates.”

If trying to fund a massive tax cut for rich people by eliminating health care for poor people – while lying to those poor people about the impact of your scheme – isn’t evil, then what is? Is killing the poor people for money not sufficient? Must one also eat them?

85

Glen Tomkins 07.03.17 at 12:20 am

J-D,

Sorry, but evil is not too strong a word to apply to people who start wars, or continue them, unnecessarily.

86

Glen Tomkins 07.03.17 at 12:38 am

bob mcmanus @58,

All the voters hear from conventional politicians in both major US parties is messaging, BS that no one believes, not even those who mouth the slogans. Our system may not come to as dramatic an end as that of the Soviet Union, because theirs was always more idealistic, and the constant BS was more of an affront from a system that claimed to be based on Marx. Our system is based on the thought of PT Barnum, and it’s not so great a stretch to have con-men in charge, or wasn’t such a stretch in PT Barnum’s time. But ours is a circus that has in recent generations taken on directing the largest military in the world on a permanent wartime footing, and getting health care to millions. It’s not really a show anymore that people can tolerate indefinitely being run like a circus. Maybe for now it’s just cynicism and joking back at a joke system with Boaty McBoatface, but the mood could turn quickly if the clowns in charge clown up health care too much, or get us into an even stupider, bigger war.

87

J-D 07.03.17 at 1:12 am

Layman
Glen Tomkins
I am less concerned about the use of the word ‘evil’ to describe specific actions or choices than I am about the use of the word ‘evil’ to describe specific people or groups of people; I am ready to accept a freer use of the word in contexts where it’s clearly not attributed as a quality of specific people or groups of people.

88

John Quiggin 07.03.17 at 1:57 am

A big problem in discussions of this kind is that there are three groups of Trump voters.

(a) Republicans (including R-voting “independents”) who preferred Trump to any other Republican (about 40 per cent of his voters)
(b) Republicans who didn’t prefer Trump but voted for him anyway (about 50 per cent of his voters)
(c) People who didn’t vote for Romney, but switched to Trump (< 10 per cent) The OP, I'd say is mainly about group (a), which turns out to be much larger than expected. A lot of the rebuttals are about group (c). It's also worth mentioning the mirror image of (c), "decent" Republicans who switched to Clinton because they were horrified by Trump. Clinton's whole campaign was pitched at this group, which turned out to be so small as to be negligible.

89

nastywoman 07.03.17 at 4:16 am

@88
‘A big problem in discussions of this kind is that there are three groups of Trump voters.’

This problem will be solved – when the group of voters who doesn’t vote anymore for established ‘Parties’ -(like in France) – or established ‘politicians’ -(like in the US?) -becomes the major group.

90

nastywoman 07.03.17 at 4:32 am

– and I forgot –
It’s what Continental said @43 – as long as the American people believe a dude – who ‘brags about his wealth, claiming it proved his qualification for the presidency – and vote for him when he ‘relished in bragging how he was so rich and powerful he could game the system, bribe politicians, get away with paying no taxes, and even kill somebody in open daylight with impunity – and his supporters ‘love all of it, just lapped it up’ –
and I’m also –
‘convinced hardly any of them would have voted for him had he not been rich and powerful and his whole candidacy was built on his plutocratic appeal’ –
and still he had them sooo confused -(like kidneystones) – that they believed he is NOT one of the ‘richies’ – not AS ‘rich and powerful as THE Washington Establishment –
BUT – another ‘loser’ – just like any ‘lost worker’ in the rust belt.

Now that was – ‘the problem’.

91

bruce wilder 07.03.17 at 5:32 am

I do not think JQ’s “mirror image of (c), “decent” Republicans who switched to Clinton because they were horrified by Trump” were negligible in number — if they had been, even the Clinton campaign would have noticed since they were deliberately targeting this group with their array of quantitative tools. The problem for the Clinton campaign seems more plausibly to have been that they lost more voters to apathy than they gained by this targeting.

The problem, generally, with this discussion is a tendency to wrongly attribute a general crisis of legitimacy for the political system and political class to the bright and shiny idiosyncrasies of Trump. The OP posits that Trump has learned a stupid human trick and only glances sideways at the degeneration of the political system, as if that degeneration is lodged narrowly and almost particularly in the system’s vulnerability to this conman’s peculiar talent.

It would make more sense, it seems to me, to look less at the electorate’s affections for a candidate as a person and more at their various loss of faith in and/or desire to see a broken political system disrupted.

The Republican Party has been a coalition for chaos for a generation, using the dramas of government shutdown, debt ceiling crises and general obstruction to practically define their brand. Trump fit right in. Different parts of the Republican Party see breaking the system in vastly different terms and with wholly different expectations, but Trump’s stream of consciousness incoherence functioned as a unifying device, allowing the electoral coalition albeit not the Party establishment to move forward without divisive internal confrontations on terms and expectations. (Of course, the old-line Republican establishment, of Bush or Romney, has absolutely no genuine interest in breaking the system, duh.)

The Democratic Party has been in denial about the brokenness of the political system, and has projected whatever degree of brokenness has to be acknowledged onto the Republican Party’s tactics and agenda of demolition. A lot of people who more or less identify with the Democrats have continued in denial and projection, including especially the Democratic establishment — imagining amid the ruins of their Party apparatus and the loss of voter confidence in their brand that the system is not broken. They cannot see the caustic effect of the systematic class betrayal that has the defined the Democratic Party since Bill Clinton’s Presidency and has become increasingly clear in outline and shared experience since. The Democratic Party has been structured around selling out their voters to moneyed interests for campaign financing and the personal enrichment of politicians and political operatives, promising their voters to retard the Republican assault on the legacies of an earlier, now obsolete Democratic Party, but promising their donors to deliver demolition on schedule packaged as reform, without the bother of effective rebellion or resistance.

The OP ignores the betrayal that defines the Democratic Party, positing a smooth bell curve of progressive opinion ranging from centrist-moderate to radical, without the internal rancor and the cynical lack of all conviction among the dominant portion of the political class. The rhetoric is all normal on the Democratic side, usual cant, nothing to see, move along please.

That Hillary Clinton would want to target JQ’s “mirror image of (c)” should not be surprising. In vulgar terms, this target was well-educated, well-off white Republican suburban women of a certain age — Hillary’s own identity demographic and socio-economic class. That is a small number of voters, though hardly negligible. If you think you can pick them up at the margin, they are numerous enough to be decisive. What is weird is that Clinton thought getting the votes of people like herself would substitute for changing her mind, substitute for changing her candidacy adaptively to address the concerns of large blocs of Democratic voters. She was losing Democratic voters to apathy and anger, not to Trump per se, though of course Trump made himself a kind of avatar for anger.

It is a mystery, unless you are clued into the betrayal that defines Democratic politics, unless you understand that a candidate that raises more than a billion dollars from mostly big money donors has to pay attention to the anxieties and prejudices of the donors and then has to channel that billion dollars thru the hands of an army of operatives and a corporate media industry with some sensitivity to the concerns and calculations of these professional manufacturers of consent. The candidate has to speak in code and cant. You have to tell a lot of people they cannot have nice things. Of course, you do not have to tell white Republican suburban women of a certain age they can’t have nice things (and heaven help you if you tried), but it is a special kind of crazy to suppose that saying you cannot have an end to pointless war, you cannot have $15/hr (cf “I earned my $100,000/hr and it is silly to suppose I could be bought.”), you cannot have college without debt peonage, you cannot have affordable single-payer, your good jobs are never coming back and so on to vastly larger groups and counting on no erosion of loyalty or enthusiasm. You can give the usual b.s. a try, pretend you are no longer supporting rapacious free trade agreements or announce an infrastructure plan that entails no increase in infrastructure spending — that kind of thing. You can argue that it is realistic to suppose that the political system cannot and will not deliver the goods for most people, since the goods have been promised to the donors and the structures of interest the donors and the dominant Media represent. Trump is not going to deliver the goods to the mass of people either. Did I mention the system is broken?

I watch the playing out of Russiagate in a Media mired in Putin Derangement Syndrome and Trump does not seem especially incompetent or insensitive to norms. It is a general condition across the board in the Media, the most visible part of the political class. Trump is not all that exceptional, unfortunately.

92

b9n10nt 07.03.17 at 7:31 am

Weird but possible:

-America’s breakup with itself (experienced after losing the shared experience of network television) has emotionally harmed the body politic suffienctly to allow for Trump as a hedonic protest vote among a crucial “moderate”/apolitical voting segment.

-Trump has for a long time very privately explored ways to get fired that do not become personally embarrassing (from his perspective). He or a confidant has set it up on two fronts (Russia, self-dealing from the executive in business) where he might “honorably” step aside in a way that preserves a veneer of virility: international corruption will do nicely.

-Political attachment theory would become a study based on bio-social microfoundations establishing that settled status (unless your a teen-young adult) and vertically integrated personal relationships with the range of status levels that hold stakes in communal decisions (….exhale) are two strong predictors of human thriving: health indicators, mental especially. The theory would inspire a progressive focus on political-economic localism and experimental communities (as it already has, in some sense) as well as anti-opt-out-solicitation legislation (anti advertising and campaigning, which has been a dirty hippy thing for 40 years?).

93

reason 07.03.17 at 7:44 am

J-D @82
I have no idea what that question means, or why you are asking me.

I’m actually have some off mainstream ideas that I hold strongly, but I like to simply describe myself as temperamentally egalitarian, and so I look for policies that promote a more egalitarian world.

My number 1 policy prescription is a UBI (which I would prefer was called a national dividend), number 2 is the need for more infrastructure investment and 3. a higher priority given to sustainability.

Does that clear things up?

94

Continental 07.03.17 at 8:23 am

JQ 88 makes a good point. A lot of attention has been directed at group c), Obama voters who switched to Trump, but they are a small group. Moreover, counter to JQ, the group of Romney voters who switched to Clinton must have been about the same size as the opposite. I explained this in detail on another thread. Romney lost the popular vote by 5 million votes and Trump by 3 million. The 2 million difference is mostly explained by Obama voters who stayed home (including a significant number of African-Americans, although their turnout still matched or exceeded any pre-Obama turnout) and the third party vote (Green Party + 1 million). There is no way numerically that vote-switching can have made a big difference (except as an artifact of s screwed up electoral system that values some votes more than others). As to the number of vote-switchers, I haven’t seen any plausible evidence for the larger estimates (6-9 million), in particular I have yet to see an analysis that takes into account all flows (non-voter to voter, party X to party Y).

reason 68, 69: I think you are saying that voters have responsibility for the choices they make, and that we should stop insisting that voters are never to blame, only politicians. I totally agree and have been making the same point.

However, the habit of generalizing about whole demographic groups and speaking as if “white men” or “the baby boomer generation” (cf. 74) or “the Midwest” where monolithic entities is pernicious and irrational. One can blame GOP voters for voting GOP, but one can’t rationally blame a demographic group for anything. This style of discourse should be beneath progressives.

95

nastywoman 07.03.17 at 10:15 am

@91
‘Trump is not all that exceptional, unfortunately.’

Absolutely! –
Nearly every American probably knows such a ‘dude’ – or even has such an example of something – how was IT characterized here?:
‘Refreshingly human’ –
in her or his family.

But I always wonder – and especially if I read Mr. Wilders analysis – what such an ‘refreshingly human’ tude has to do with ‘politics’ or ‘policies’ or – ‘any ‘tendency to wrongly attribute a general crisis of legitimacy for the political system and political class to… anything?

The accident – irony – joke -(or whatever you want to call it?)- that something ‘refreshingly human’ got erected as – of all ‘things’ – ‘US President’ – shouldn’t be a good enough reason to fill such ‘refreshingly humans’ with all this (sophisticated?) – sociopolitical content.

It’s like if Mr. Wilders would write such… (thorough) – ‘analysis’ -(if I may call it like that?) – about all of my ‘refreshingly human’… stuff?

And why don’t you do that – as I can promise that I’m a real ‘blond’.
-(and my friend tells me – that I’m at least a 9 – in words ‘a nine’!)

96

kidneystones 07.03.17 at 10:23 am

The OP is a conversation starter, not a well-sourced analysis. Bruce W. at 91 is largely correct in my view. Re: the magical mirror Republican voters discussion might make more sense if the third party bleed-off is factored in. Republicans disgusted with Trump did, in fact, have somewhere other than Clinton park their votes. The 260, ooo votes for Stein and Johnson are might have been evenly distributed, or might not. The losses by HRC were marginal in all the big states HRC lost to Trump – Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

Trump didn’t win this election, Democrats threw it away. The principal problem was the coronation, the corruption, and the candidate. The lack of an effective economic message was almost as important. Obama’s hubris and narcissism didn’t help. His ego-driven decision to cozy up to Castro with no quid pro quo for the Cuban community energized and alienated Cubans ready to stay home or vote Dem in Florida. The notion that African-American voters in Detroit (and Florida, and…) would turn out in numbers to protect his ‘legacy’ and vote for the white woman they hardly knew was always suspect at best.

Not visiting Wisconsin after the convention required a special stupidity and vanity. Underestimating the enthusiasm for Trump in the sticks was fatal. Bruce nails it as far as the masquerade. Plenty of ‘core’ Democratic voters – middle-class educated white folks want more, not less, and Trump looked the better bet. The Democrats stand for nothing other than Trump, Romney, McCain, are evil.

Not sure how much longer that’s going to ‘work.’

97

reason 07.03.17 at 10:26 am

Continental – just to point out I am a white male (although not American) and yes you are right about inappropriate collectives. But white males are the only very large group for which a substantial majority voted for Trump, so a large subset of them are THE PROBLEM. But identifying the problem and identifying the solution are two different things.

98

steven t johnson 07.03.17 at 12:40 pm

There’s a comment above about the Democratic Party betrayal since Clinton’s presidency.
The Democratic Party definitively turned right, in the sense of repudiating the New Deal, under Carter.

All discussion of Trump’s victory that forgets Trump didn’t win is conceptually false, therefore futile.

This country is ruled by a tiny stratum of enormously rich men. Politically they have to work through agents, just as they have managers for their businesses. Because of their incessant rivalry and lack of support their political system has devolved into an elective quasi-monarchy. It doesn’t matter in one sense whether Trump is competent, any more than it mattered whether Reagan was competent, or whether a Nicholas II or Louis XVI were competent. The system requires a head, he’s it.

99

Glen Tomkins 07.03.17 at 2:36 pm

J-D,

I said I have always had to vote for the “lesser of two evils”, which is pretty much exactly what you say you don’t object to, characterizing a choice as a bad one, rather than characterizing a person or group as servants of the Devil.

100

F. Foundling 07.03.17 at 4:34 pm

J-D @83

OK, I’ll refine the wording of my first sentence to ‘non-experts are more likely to be correct than experts when it is in the interest of experts to be incorrect *more than it is in the interest of non-experts to be incorrect*’. Such situations can and do occur. When a group of people is systematically paid to be wrong, they become even more likely to be wrong than any random human or group of humans. Similarly, and indeed consequently, situations can and do occur where an individual or group, e.g. experts, deservedly loses people’s trust so that the level of trust becomes equal to or lower than the average trust in a random unknown human, including a non-expert.

101

nastywoman 07.03.17 at 4:35 pm

@96
”Trump didn’t win this election, Democrats threw it away.”

And I absolutely love this argument – as it drives Von Clownstick completely bonkers – that he actually didn’t ‘win’ – neither the majority vote – nor the Presidency.

He just by accident… stumbled over it – OR! – a better theory:
God finally wanted to punish US -(and him) with 4 years of ridicule and the worlds roaring disgust and unlimited laughter?

102

bruce wilder 07.03.17 at 7:30 pm

steven t johnson @ 98

I don’t know what it means to assert that Trump was elected but didn’t win the election.

But, yes, the U.S. is effectively a plutocratic oligarchy in practice, though not form. A lot of ill-conceived electoral analysis focuses on the form, while forgetting the reality of practice. I don’t see Trump as some kind of revealed preference for which we should diagnose or blame the character of voters, individually or as dubious statistical clusters; late in a long game, they were presented with a pre-printed menu featuring rotten meat, not a gourmet tasting.

Commenters like me do polemics mostly, but there are good quality academic studies that confirm what ought to be blindingly obvious: the American political system as a whole — including Congress and state legislatures as well as major political Media — has become almost exclusively responsive to the very rich and large business corporations. And, there isn’t much to oppose them from below.* It seems to me that a number of commenters here are unaccountably in denial that this is reality and while most people from self-interest as well as principle ought to be disgusted and alarmed by this state of politics, many are strangely cynical and accepting, or, as I say, in denial of one sort or another. I include the OP.

In terms of political philosophy, I am basically a liberal. I don’t believe in having an “ideal” standard of politics, a guiding notion of utopia; I believe in messy and never finished. It seems to me that the interests of the bosses are against the workers, the few rich against the many poor or merely middle-class. This opposition is naturally perennial, inherent in cooperation in a hierarchically organized political economy (and, no, we are not going to abolish hierarchy any time soon). A healthy democracy balances the numbers of the many against the ease with which a few who already command resources can organize against the many. By creating a complex institutional machinery of government dependent on popular electoral support, organizing a faction or more broadly a socio-economic class, small and homogenous enough to be stable and persistent to dominate all the institutions at once should be nearly impossible, and so contending factions are reduced to more-or-less rational argument and deliberation to coordinate political action to control the state and govern the political economy. That’s the liberal theory: keep the game of political conflict, argument and compromise going, with rational deliberation and controversy as the lubricant that keeps the machinery from seizing up. Even if the governing elite is an elite, keep it a divided elite contending among themselves, and occasionally they have to appeal for mass support, and that may be enough to introduce rational deliberation and the possibility of progressive reform adaptive to circumstances.

So, as far as “incessant rivalry” among giant corporations and the super rich is concerned, I’d say a big problem is that there is so little of it behind the slight buzz of media white noise. The top management of big American corporations, their venture capitalist social clubs and their networked coteries of consultants and lobbyists have become a singularly self-conscious, certainly globalized social and economic class, strangely homogenous ideologically in their embrace of the neoliberal hydra; they make the 19th century French haute bourgeoisie look like populist non-conformists.

A government that solves problems only for a small oligarchy of enormously rich people and the c-suite executives of giant business corporations doesn’t want rational deliberation on policy ends or means. Their politicians are meant to be spokesmodels only, stars in an alternative show business. Public political discourse isn’t about choosing, it is about devising and exercising the means of manipulation. Policy becomes arbitrary and corrupt and after a while its only apology is authoritarian.

That’s what is wrong with Nicholas II or Louis XVI or Donald Trump as Monarch: the government and political system they preside over more than run, deprived of the lubricant of rational deliberation over means and ends, becomes increasingly sclerotic and stupid. Policy can be hijacked or “farmed” by a well-placed lobbyist or crony or just left inert in the face of mounting crisis by the inability to mobilize the political will to overcome vested and reactionary interests, while the legitimacy of the system erodes with every repeated demonstration of its increasing incompetence. No one in power says, “hmm maybe enormously expensive perpetual war is a bad idea”; or, “maybe immunity for banksters in a core sector of economy prone to fraud and predation is not the way to go.” They are in power only as long as they don’t question the parasitic interests behind perpetual war and endemic financial corruption.

That’s where the U.S. is after a long thirty-year journey on this path. Republican Movement Conservatism has its Federalist Society, business corporations have their ALEC, while the Obama-Clinton Democratic establishment evolved into a parasite lacking the functional organs for an independent existence, trying to achieve for its own survival complementary symbiosis with Republicans who regard them as a noxious pest afflicting Hollywood on the Potomac.

Sure, Trump’s Twitter stream is alarming. Almost every Twitter stream is alarming: 143 characters and a picture is not thinking, people! Hillary Clinton’s excuses for electoral failure — not just falling short personally but leaving the whole Party in ruins — are bizarre, too. Rachel Maddow is bizarre also (see @ 14). The Media’s passionate pursuit of the Russiagate nothingburger in violation of every remaining journalistic norm is bizarre. Trump isn’t causing the crisis of legitimacy and it is hardly limited to him. If Clinton had chanced into office, we’d still be having a crisis of legitimacy as Republicans use her notoriously bad judgment to gin up the Daughters of Whitewater and Benghazi and Email and talking the Clinton Foundation instead of the emolument of paying hotel rack rates, because she was horrible and incompetent, too; she’d be trying to find a reason to intervene in Syria or Ukraine (because that’s what the Blob or the Deep State [choose your clever label] unaccountably and inexplicably wants) and offering to waive States wanting to privatize of Medicaid and appointing reactionaries to the Supreme Court allegedly to satisfy a Republican Senate majority she conspicuously did nothing to displace in an election in which she spent over $1 billion.

*What is missing — any credible vehicle for popular dissatisfaction or even rational concern for the general welfare and national interest to register in governance — is critical. The rich we will always have with us in politics; that we don’t have the poor or merely middle-class or a disinterested (or even differently interested) elite faction to voice more than a squeak of ineffectual protest is a problem — the problem in my humble opinion. (And, yes, Sanders was great as proof of concept for some possibility, but also evidence for how limited still is the possibility at this moment, how close to stillborn.) There has to be pushback, and a lot of it from below (the middle even if not the bottom, or the local instead of exclusively the center) to get a politics of balanced judgment and rational adaptation to circumstance, let alone progressive reform. It isn’t just that we no longer have labor unions; we don’t have local newspapers or much in the way of a local chamber of commerce. We don’t have small business to rail against big business. Much of the academic or intellectual left is off doing cultural criticism of language and semiotics, leaving us to the tender mercies of thought leaders like the New York Times’ Thomas Friedman or Nicholas Kristof who can neither write well nor think, and don’t really care because celebrity makes them rich. And don’t get me started on the virtue signalling of Cory Booker.

That was a pretty good rant if i do say so myself; strike a blow for liberty and independency! wherever you are this American holiday.

(i’m off for a few days and probably won’t be able to answer, should i have an incisive critic; sorry. also, i admit i don’t understand anything nastywoman says; can anyone translate? should i care?)

103

J-D 07.03.17 at 9:47 pm

reason

J-D @82
I have no idea what that question means, or why you are asking me.

I can see that, so let’s review!

soullite wrote (in a comment which you can find above):

The most prominent blamers of a demographic group for america’s troubles has got to, at this point, be mainstream liberals blaming White Men (most of whom are broke and powerless) for all of america’s problems.

I responded (in a comment which you can also find above):

No mainstream liberal has blamed White Men for all of America’s problems

So, at that stage, there was a point at issue between me and soullite, namely, the extent, if any, to which mainstream liberals are blaming White Men for all of America’s problems. My position, in opposition to soullite’s, is that no mainstream liberals are blaming White Men for all of America’s problems.

It was at that stage that you contributed to the exchange.

Now, if you are a mainstream liberal, then it is possible that you are an example of a mainstream liberal who blames White Men for all of America’s problems, thereby proving that my position is wrong. However, if you are not a mainstream liberal, then, by definition, you cannot be an example of a mainstream liberal who blames White Men for all of America’s problems. If you are a mainstream liberal, then you might be a counter-example to the statement I made; but if you are not, then you can’t be. And that is why I asked you whether you were a mainstream liberal. I hope that clarifies the position.

104

J-D 07.03.17 at 11:58 pm

Glen Tomkins
Maybe I have misunderstood, but if you describe voting for the Democrats over the Republicans as ‘voting for the lesser of two evils’, it seems to me that you are saying that the Republicans are evil and that the Democrats are evil.

105

hix 07.04.17 at 12:02 am

Trump is really hard to grasph from the outside. I cant even interpret properly how much he is overstepping US social norms with any particular action.

106

J-D 07.04.17 at 1:42 am

F. Foundling
If there are people who have an interest in being incorrect, it is reasonable have less confidence in their being correct than in people who have no such interest, but there’s no relationship with expertise. I stand by my earlier assertion that it is folly to suppose that experts are more likely than non-experts to have an interest in being incorrect.

When a group of people is systematically paid to be wrong, they become even more likely to be wrong than any random human or group of humans.

That’s plausible; but experts as a group are not systematically paid to be wrong.

107

b9n10nt 07.04.17 at 4:32 am

I think when we say “moderate Republican” or “liberal democrat” there’s a widespread association with autonomy and professional competency. It’s like we’re saying “this distribution manager from suburban Houston has deliberated and concluded that…” or “this physical therapist from Akron has deliberated and concluded that…”. Citizens -who choose as parents and choose as economic agents and choose in interpersonal relationships- get the halo effect of “autonomous adult” for their political participation.

No! We (as a populace) are all reduced to children by our (scant) practice of politics. We naturally fail to truly absorb how fundamentally superficial our Democracy is qua democracy.

Thatcher’s “there is no society” has become more a relevant prophesy than it ever was as a description at the time. Trump is only the latest indication that a Public hardly exists, or that it exists in increasingly an attenuated form.

108

nastywoman 07.04.17 at 5:59 am

@102
(sorry. also, i admit i don’t understand anything nastywoman says; can anyone translate? should i care?)

You shouldn’t -(care) – as I have a very hard time to understand myself what I’m saying -(not unlike Von Clownstick) – but about the translation – and as you brought up ‘gourmet tasting’ – I see Trump as THE… ‘cook’ – you could blame his voters for making me eat the rotten meat he is serving.

109

Continental 07.04.17 at 6:08 am

I love it how wilder expends his considerable intellectual energy in abstract rants about broken political systems where all choices are equally disgusting without even once mentioning the specifics of the Trump administation, which is demonstrably the most corrupt, the most plutocratic administration in generaions at least and which aims to achieve what might be the biggest redistribution of wealth from the lower classes to the hyper-rich in history. Which aspires no less than the destruction of the regulatory state to free big business from any and all restrictions. None of that matters to wilder, for whom Obamacare is just as rotten as Trumpcare. Expanding health care to 20 million low income Americans or taking it away, where’s the difference? It’s all capitalism (which is true).

Wilder has his own collaboration with the Trump campaign, his personal contribution to the demonization of Hillary Clinton, to justify. Honi soit qui mal y pense.

110

F. Foundling 07.04.17 at 6:16 am

@ bruce wilder

>also, i admit i don’t understand anything nastywoman says; can anyone translate? should i care?

I think I’ve figured out where I’ve encountered the style before:

“Heads, heads – take care of your heads”, cried the loquacious stranger as they came out under the low archway which in those days formed the entrance to the coachyard. “Terrible place – dangerous work – other day – five children – mother – tall lady, eating sandwiches – forgot the arch – crash – knock – children look round – mother’s head off – sandwich in her hand – no mouth to put it in – head of family off – shocking, shocking. Looking at Whitehall Sir, – fine place – little window – somebody else’s head off there, eh, Sir? – he didn’t keep a sharp look-out either – eh, sir, eh?”

111

nastywoman 07.04.17 at 6:16 am

– AND about all these elaborate and long excuses of the election of Trump – we have to read here – occasionally –

There is no excuse for erecting something like ‘Trump’ – and there never will (not even Hillary Clinton)

112

someofparts 07.04.17 at 9:18 am

One of the privileges some Trump voters would like back would be the right to elect progressive leaders without having our votes hacked or those leaders jailed if we do manage to overwhelm voter suppression strategies with our numbers. Voters in Georgia elected Roy Barnes who was leading the nation in legislating against predatory lending. But Rove hacked our vote and gave us the venal Perdue dynasty instead. In Alabama they ran a kangaroo trial to jail Don Siegelman, a Democratic governor they could not defeat even in rigged elections. Obama never pardoned him either.

I thoroughly agree that Trump is a nightmare, but I can’t agree that he was unforeseen or an inexplicable departure from what has been building up to him.

I also suspect that it will limit anyone’s ability to understand the sources of Trump’s popularity if we are content to suppose that it is only fueled by the resentment of a demographic of Archie Bunkers. That explains some of it, but it leaves out more than it covers. What about the women who voted for Trump? Do they long for a return to the good old days before birth control and equal access to education and good jobs?

113

Layman 07.04.17 at 12:20 pm

F Foundling: “OK, I’ll refine the wording of my first sentence to ‘non-experts are more likely to be correct than experts when it is in the interest of experts to be incorrect *more than it is in the interest of non-experts to be incorrect*.”

That doesn’t really work. Non-experts often don’t know what’s in their best interest, that’s why they’re non-experts. If a doctor tells you you need a stent, for which you must pay said doctor, which is more harmful: The doctor’s self-interest in being paid, or your own self-interest in not paying? It’s possible you don’t actually need the stent, but only the doctor knows for sure. The same argument applies to whether you ought to pay higher retirement taxes, or purchase health insurance, etc.

114

Continental 07.04.17 at 12:43 pm

“One of the privileges some Trump voters would like back would be the right to elect progressive leaders”

Very interesting news from that parallel universe known at Lefttrumpia. Are your enjoying your Science Fiction cartoons?

[John Holbo is there a reason for keeping my stuff in moderation longer?]

115

Petter Sjölund 07.04.17 at 12:50 pm

In this example, the doctor is an expert on medicine, but not on how to judge if people are trustworthy, or on whether the medicine profession tends to recommend unnecessary but profitable-for-the-doctor procedures. The prudent thing for the patient is not to blindly accept the doctor’s authority, but to try and educate themselves, ask around online, read up on the procedure, and then make an informed decision whether to have the stent or not.

Another thing is that a general practitioner really isn’t an expert on any particular field, and these days it really isn’t uncommon for the patient to know more about their medical condition than the doctor does, much to the chagrin of the doctor.

116

Lee A. Arnold 07.04.17 at 1:05 pm

Glen Tompkins #48: “Trump is going to have to start delivering on the hope…”
Continental #49: “The evidence doesn’t support this. Trump is still highly popular among his base…”

I agree with Glen Tompkins here. Some of Trump’s supporters have put him on a very short leash, and if he doesn’t produce soon, he’s toast.

Their hopes could be dashed on the division within the GOP, which has been a long time coming and which Trump is not a part of. He inserted himself into it. The silliness of Trump just illustrates their dilemma more.

This may be a big reason why Trump is still blaming things on the media. He cannot find another excuse. (This is a weak defense, inextensible beyond his most gullible.)

As I wrote here last August, a month after the GOP convention, “I still think the GOP is splitting in half, unless Trump wins, and then maybe the Dems will split up first, while the plutocrats make new in-country deals to avoid much damage to their portfolios during the thrashes of faux-protectionism.”

I would amend this to, “The plutocrats will get their tax cuts and get that money out of the U.S.”

117

steven t johnson 07.04.17 at 1:25 pm

I don’t think I’ve seen any analysis of the failings of the people that led to Trump’s election that didn’t choose one of two paths. First, most popular, is explaining the particular badness of the people, or uniquely bad portion of the people, that led to them actually liking Trump. The problem here is that the majority of the people (or plurality for those sticklers who suddenly discovered that not everybody votes,) voted for…Clinton. Trump’s election by a minority of the votes is due to the Electoral College, a crank political arrangement that has caused controversies and crises from the very beginning. (Consider the condemnation of Hamilton for his intrigues to ensure Washington got more votes than John Adams, which mightily annoyed His Rotundity.)

Or, second, less popular, is the notion that Trump isn’t really the choice of voters, but the vote against. Instead, Trump voting was an expression of Clinton’s failure, morally, politically, economically, socially, genitally. Perhaps the larger part view the rejection of Clinton as an outburst of some kind of irrationality. Given that crazy=evil in religion, which means popular culture, this causes superficial similarities to the first option. I think that’s why in the end people who start off thinking they are agreed find they aren’t really. As people try to diagnose the particular cause of the hysteria, they find the crazy=evil moralism disquieting, if only because it is so pessimistic about a cure. Trumpists, open or concealed, of course find the rejection of Clinton to be perfectly rational, and essentially moral.

The problem of course with blaming it all on Clinton, either for not managing the mob properly, or for being despicable in her own right, was that she won the vote. If Clinton stands for the ultimate evil, then the substantial plurality of the people endorsed evil. And frankly, the notion that winning the vote is a sign of incompetence is kind of deranged. The only way that makes the slightest sense is an unspoken assumption that OF COURSE THE CONSTITUTION IS OKAY.

If you want to talk about Trump and Trumpism, you should still be talking about how Trump won the nomination.

One aside, on “experts.” J-D@106 commented with breath taking optimism”That’s plausible; but experts as a group are not systematically paid to be wrong.” I submit any seminary as a conclusive counter-example.

118

nastywoman 07.04.17 at 1:26 pm

@109
‘I think I’ve figured out where I’ve encountered the style before’

How flattering – but ‘warum in die Ferne -(or into the past) -schweifen wenn das Gute liegt so nah?! as I definitely try to show the style of our great new leader – the beautiful – always winning Donald Trump!

And there is a very important reason for that – as you need to speak ‘Trump’ in order to be understood by ‘Trump’!

119

Faustusnotes 07.04.17 at 1:57 pm

I said many moons ago that nastywoman is channeling Emily Dickinson, and incomprehensible. But I was censored for questioning her style. Yet wilder and foundling get to have a whole conversation about it. This isn’t the first time that I’ve noticed the resident brocialists getting a different moderation treatment to the rest of us. Could it be crooked timber has become a sheltered workshop for beardy old dudes who can’t define neoliberalism? If so then I guess it’s a microcosm of the American left! But it used to be more engaging before the threads came to be dominated by a couple of brocialists, their id in the form of kidneystones, and nastywoman. On threads like this I think I’m only reading one comment on 4 that isn’t a tedious vague screed (wilder), knowing response to same in a kind of circlejerk (foundling, street), incomprehensible hyphenated gibberish with multiple quote marks like Emily Dickinson writing a marvel comic (nastywoman) and insulting sneering trash (kidneystones).

Things were so much better in the old days!

120

Faustusnotes 07.04.17 at 2:02 pm

And what is this junk?

One of the privileges some Trump voters would like back would be the right to elect progressive leaders without having our votes hacked

Trump lied about every single one of his policies and the Russians literally hacked the voting machines, along with his policy platform. One of the republican candidates physically assaulted a journalist and wasn’t jailed. Yet you want a leader who won’t get hacked or jailed? You have been thoroughly and completely played by the republicans but you blame the democrats. How can anyone be this naive?

121

engels 07.04.17 at 2:59 pm

“It doesn’t matter in one sense whether Trump is competent, any more than it mattered whether Reagan was competent, or whether a Nicholas II or Louis XVI were competent”

I feel like Nicholas II and Louis XVI’s incompetence kind of did matter (ymmv)

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Glen Tomkins 07.04.17 at 3:24 pm

J-D,

English is an amazingly flexible language. You can actually say that a given person is “evil” without meaning that that person works for the devil, is Absolute Evil, or any such implication that, yes, is a bad idea to be putting out there. The wonder is, that you can use words that might, at some extreme be taken in very unfortunate ways, and still everybody will take them in the context presented rather than as that unfortunate extreme. Well, everybody except the occasional person who has taken on the thankless task of policing the English language. Even if your efforts at policing the use of the word “evil” were far more successful than they are at all likely to be, I don’t see the point of that enterprise.

123

F. Foundling 07.04.17 at 4:02 pm

@ 112
>Non-experts often don’t know what’s in their best interest, that’s why they’re non-experts.

And experts often lie about what is in someone else’s best interest (not to mention often being incompetent as well). We’re going in circles here. The ignorance of a non-expert *can* be exceeded by the self-interested mendaciousness of an expert – there is no natural law that precludes that. If the experts are motivated enough, the frequency with which they lie may even exceed the frequency with which a non-expert trying to figure things out on their own will be wrong. During most of recorded history, ‘experts’ in theology and political theory have unanimously supported oppressive systems as just and inevitable and falsehoods as truth.

>It’s possible you don’t actually need the stent, but only the doctor knows for sure.

Ah – an excellent example! That’s exactly why you must always, unless the stakes are very low, consult *several* doctors who *don’t* have a self-interest in the final decision, because they know that *they* won’t be the ones to be paid for the procedure and preferably don’t even know that another diagnosis has been made, or at least don’t have any connection with the colleague who has made it. Similarly, a doctor may try to make you undergo a dangerous and temporarily debilitating procedure in his own clinic when the problem could actually be fixed with a much safer and milder procedure at another cheaper clinic. A doctor may try to hospitalise you for a completely safe condition that you would recover from on the next day. These are all real-world examples from my own life and the life of people I know. In these cases, the doctors’ venality is decisive, but the self-interest doesn’t even have to be of pecuinary nature. For instance, many doctors will use powerful all-purpose antibiotica to solve an issue fast and without bothering to diagnose it, because they simply have no personal interest in preventing the long-term increase of antibiotic resistance in the patient and in the population in general. I suppose that this may depend to some extent on the place where you live, but in general, one needs to be very, very much on one’s guard whenever one is dealing with doctors, and one has to consider carefully all accessible information, including an individual doctor’s character and track record. Just trusting them blindly is an extremely bad idea.

>If a doctor tells you you need a stent, for which you must pay said doctor, which is more harmful: The doctor’s self-interest in being paid, or your own self-interest in not paying?

You also have a self-interest in surviving and thus in figuring out the best decision, taking all evidence into account; to point out the obvious, *you* are the person with the greatest interest in your own good, not the doctor. What you present is a false dichtomy, since there are many other options besides absolute trust in and reliance on doctors/experts and complete ignoring of doctors/experts; you can consult more doctors, assess the extent to which they may be motivated by their self-interest to make a certain statement, access medical literature, ask acquaintances about their experience and so on. But yes, *if* the integrity of a particular doctor – or the average integrity of accessible representatives of the medical profession in general – is known to have sunk so low that they systematically lie about such things, the situation *might* reach a point where you are, indeed, better off not believing them by default. If/when that happens, the responsibility for such a development lies with the doctors, not with the patients.

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bruce wilder 07.04.17 at 4:58 pm

It’s possible you don’t actually need the stent, but only the doctor knows for sure.

The doctor does not know. Assuming good faith (and there have been clear cut cases of surgeons running Medicare mills with considerable disregard for patients or medical necessity as it is commonly understood), she is likely to be applying probabilities drawn from the statistical analysis of variance in some combination of studies done by others as controlled trials of “treatments” or population experience surveys. Committees meet, make up conditional rules derived from argued interpretation of some body of such studies, and the internist, surgeon or other doctor or nurse applies her expertise to the task of clinical application of the rules to the case. It is an open question where the greatest information gaps exist: in the pseudo-scientific formality of the research designs, the not-so-subtle distortions imposed to allow the use of simplified linear statistical models as the lens to look at decidedly non-linear, complex biological processes, the attempt at generalization into rules in the emergent social command-and-control of the hierarchy of committee and physician, the severe time constraints placed on doctor-patient interaction, observation and diagnosis, or the reliance on a “battery of tests” which vary greatly in specificity and quality, and subject to dubious interpretive judgment conditional on guesses about the biological processes and conditions that are producing “results”. The actual practice of medicine occurs in a fog.

The actual history of medicine is littered with elaborate theories of disease and practice that were globally wrong and the actual practice is a detailed string of individual error, even within the ambit of current consensus opinion. Idiopathic deaths in hospitals in the U.S. runs into the many tens of thousands every year and those are the ones those making the errors recognize as errors.

And, you are arguing over the appropriateness of social deference.

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J-D 07.04.17 at 10:29 pm

Glen Tomkins

… I don’t see the point …

You’re expressing my opinion; I’m expressing my opinion. I am not under the illusion that people cannot use language loosely; I am not under the illusion that people do not use language loosely; I am not under the illusion that my voicing my opinion will prevent people from using language loosely. Sometimes I use language loosely myself. In this particular instance, I consider one particular loose use of language to be unwise, and I find no reason in any of the foregoing to refrain from expressing that opinion.

The wonder is, that you can use words that might, at some extreme be taken in very unfortunate ways, and still everybody will take them in the context presented rather than as that unfortunate extreme.

Your confidence in people’s ability to communicate clearly exceeds what is justified by the facts.

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Layman 07.04.17 at 11:25 pm

F Foundling: “What you present is a false dichtomy, since there are many other options besides absolute trust in and reliance on doctors/experts and complete ignoring of doctors/experts…”

Yes, exactly. So, when you wrote:

“…non-experts are more likely to be correct than experts when it is in the interest of experts to be incorrect *more than it is in the interest of non-experts to be incorrect…”

…you were ignoring that there was more than one expert who could be consulted, more options as it were, and instead creating a sort of, I don’t know…a false dichotomy, can we say?…suggesting that there was a generalized group of experts all of whom were corrupt, not distinguishable into discrete individuals who could be consulted independently, and against whom the advice of non-experts was better, as it was guided by their own self-interest, which self-interest is apparently a single monolithic thing, not a collection of competing greater and lesser imperatives, which must be balanced against each other. So we agree, then, that my example was helpful in dispelling that nonsense?

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Layman 07.04.17 at 11:29 pm

bruce wilder: “…there have been clear cut cases of surgeons running Medicare mills with considerable disregard for patients or medical necessity…”

There have! Also bank robbers, some of whom actually worked for the bank! Also lying unqualified teachers! Cops who sell drugs!

I mean, good grief.

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J-D 07.05.17 at 1:10 am

F. Foundling
Yes, often it will be a good idea to consult more than one person with medical expertise (or whatever other expertise is relevant to the issue at hand). But to prefer the opinion of somebody who lacks expertise on the sole ground of lacking expertise — that would be folly. Unfortunately it’s not unheard-of folly. There are indeed cases of calamity following reliance on the opinion of experts on medical questions, but there are also cases of calamity following reliance on the opinion of non-experts — quacks — on medical questions.

And experts often lie about what is in someone else’s best interest (not to mention often being incompetent as well).

Sometimes, yes, but ‘often’? Certainly not more often than non-experts, which is the practical point at issue here.

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Continental 07.05.17 at 8:12 am

119: “This isn’t the first time that I’ve noticed the resident brocialists getting a different moderation treatment to the rest of us. Could it be crooked timber has become a sheltered workshop for beardy old dudes who can’t define neoliberalism? If so then I guess it’s a microcosm of the American left! But it used to be more engaging before the threads came to be dominated by a couple of brocialists, their id in the form of kidneystones, and nastywoman.”

Thanks Faustusnotes! +1

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nastywoman 07.05.17 at 10:57 am

@119
‘This isn’t the first time that I’ve noticed the resident brocialists getting a different moderation treatment to the rest of us.’

Me too – but I always thought that you were one of the resident ‘brocialists’ – even I completely agreed – that the other resident ‘brocialists’ had a very funny -(and subjective) way of defining ‘Neolib’ – and about putting ‘incomprehensible hyphenated gibberish with multiple quote marks like Emily Dickinson writing a marvel comic’ – on kind of the same level as the excited ‘Trumping’ of kidneystones is really… disturbing?

Which finally could remind US all what this thread is all about –

‘Overton Thoughts’
Check!
‘The state of the Republic.’
Check!
‘Trump’s omni-incompetence’
Check!

And that ME and 119 are trolls and urgently should be relegated forever to moderation!

131

Continental 07.05.17 at 3:20 pm

I was just made to understand that criticism of nationalism is no longer welcome on Crooked Timber. Go over to the Overton thread and see for yourself (no 42). I’ll take the hint and stay away. I’m missing exactly nothing I would regret. Thanks folks.

And how right Faustusnotes was with his point about moderation standards.

132

Cranky Observer 07.05.17 at 5:01 pm

= = = Sometimes, yes, but ‘often’? Certainly not more often than non-experts, which is the practical point at issue here.= = =

I’m generally in agreement with you J-D but OTOH consider the case of professional economists and the minimum wage: it is well documented that there is a “you’ll never work in this town again” prohibition across the entire profession in the US against honestly discussing empirical results of raising the minimum wage, because those results are positive for ordinary workers and the funding class doesn’t want that known.

133

Layman 07.05.17 at 5:28 pm

Faustusnotes: “Trump lied about every single one of his policies and the Russians literally hacked the voting machines, along with his policy platform.”

Setting aside the question of who ‘the Russians’ are, they did not literally hack voting machines. It appears to be the case that they gained access to voter registration roles – with which one could of course do much damage! – but there is no evidence that they hacked either actual voting machines or systems that tallied votes.

134

engels 07.05.17 at 9:06 pm

to prefer the opinion of somebody who lacks expertise on the sole ground of lacking expertise — that would be folly

Why do we use juries and not judges or senior lawyers to determine guilt?

135

J-D 07.05.17 at 10:20 pm

steven t johnson

One aside, on “experts.” J-D@106 commented with breath taking optimism”That’s plausible; but experts as a group are not systematically paid to be wrong.” I submit any seminary as a conclusive counter-example.

At the most, any one seminary, or even all seminaries taken together, might demonstrate that some groups of experts are paid to be wrong; not that experts as a group are paid to be wrong. ‘Some groups of experts’ and ‘experts as a group’ are not the same thing.

136

J-D 07.06.17 at 2:00 am

Cranky Observer
What you describe as well documented may in fact be well documented, although I am unfamiliar with this documentation; but even if conclusively established it would not be sufficient, by itself, even to demonstrate that economists are wrong (about questions within their area of expertise) more often than non- economists, let alone to demonstrate that experts in general are wrong more often than non-experts. (What might be demonstrated, if you’re right, is that economists have been paid to evade the truth about one particular subset of economic questions, which if demonstrated would be an excellent reason to doubt what they say on those particular questions.)

engels

Why do we use juries and not judges or senior lawyers to determine guilt?

It is not true in all cases that we use juries and not judges to determine guilt; but, that aside, your question is a good one, and I’d like to know the answer to it myself; unfortunately, I don’t. In the context of the present discussion, however, it is probably relevant to point out that judges and lawyers are experts on the law, and that this does not seem to be the same thing as being experts on guilt.

137

F. Foundling 07.06.17 at 3:05 am

J-D @ 128

>>And experts often lie about what is in someone else’s best interest (not to mention often being incompetent as well).

>Sometimes, yes, but ‘often’?

Yes, often.

> Certainly not more often than non-experts, which is the practical point at issue here.

It *can* come to happen more often, at least as far as the lying is conerned, with the appropriate incentives.

>But to prefer the opinion of somebody who lacks expertise on the sole ground of lacking expertise — that would be folly.

But it’s not the *sole* ground. I don’t think anyone, ever, has said that *all* experts in *all* times and places are *always* to be trusted less than non-experts. All along, you have been arguing with a very implausible and abstract strawman of your own construction.

J-D @ 135

>At the most, any one seminary, or even all seminaries taken together, might demonstrate that some groups of experts are paid to be wrong; not that experts as a group are paid to be wrong. ‘Some groups of experts’ and ‘experts as a group’ are not the same thing.

Same strawman. Of course people have been talking about various *specific* groups of experts, namely experts in *specific* fields (especially ones dealing with certain politically, ideologically and economically crucial issues).

Layman @ 126

>suggesting that there was a generalized group of experts all of whom were corrupt, not distinguishable into discrete individuals who could be consulted independently, and against whom the advice of non-experts was better… So we agree, then, that my example was helpful in dispelling that nonsense?

No. The problem, which I’ve already alluded to, is that in some cases it can be really difficult or practically impossible to find an expert whose self-interest does not dictate asserting (and perhaps believing) falsehoods. As I’ve already mentioned – sometimes, within a *certain* group of experts in a certain field and/or region (and note that expertise is a gradient concept), ‘corruption’ (including self-deception) does become so predominant that, on average, people outside of that group may become more, or at least no less trustworthy than those inside it, and public trust in the group declines accordingly. This is less likely to happen with experts advising individuals in practical matters such as doctors than with experts guiding public policy, because the first are more directly answerable to those they advise at least to some extent, whereas the second, while ostensibly ‘advising’ the public or its representatives, easily become mouthpieces for special interests or for the ideology of the ruling elite. Now, I’m sure that there remain many other interesting ways to misread or ignore various parts of what I’ve been saying in my comments so far, but I’ve really had enough of this exercise, so I’ll beg to be excused.

138

F. Foundling 07.06.17 at 3:22 am

Re Faustusnotes @119 and Continental @129: “This isn’t the first time that I’ve noticed the resident brocialists getting a different moderation treatment to the rest of us. Could it be crooked timber has become a sheltered workshop for beardy old dudes who can’t define neoliberalism? If so then I guess it’s a microcosm of the American left! But it used to be more engaging before the threads came to be dominated by a couple of brocialists, their id in the form of kidneystones, and nastywoman.”

Hilarious. Almost every categorisation, generalisation and assertion here is comedy gold – but the best thing is the overall picture, where poor little economic-moderates/centrists-cum-identity-radicals are incredibly oppressed, marginalised, victimised and unrepresented on CT and in the American left in general, whereas Mr Wilder and yours truly rule CT and the left half of the political spectrum of the Land of the Free with an iron fist.

Re nastywoman, you are only saying that she is incomprehensible because she is a woman, you nasty brocialist! You just can’t conceal your hatred of strong women who make good points, can you? She is so far from being incomprehensible that even I’ve got that she is essentially in your camp, just as Collin Street is. It’s not my fault that there are so many of you mainstream liberals that you even manage to quarrel with each other over your different commenting styles.

That’s enough chatting and dominating CT, now it’s back to wielding my totalitarian patriarchal power over America as a whole by swinging my mighty brocialist Marxist-cowboy beard all over the country, from the Atlantic to the Pacific and back again. Ciao!

139

Faustusnotes 07.06.17 at 3:35 am

Vaccine denialism from the anti-expert brocialists (who are already down playing climate change) to start in 3…2…1…

140

J-D 07.06.17 at 3:52 am

F. Foundling

… All along, you have been arguing with a very implausible and abstract strawman of your own construction.

Same strawman. …

I have reviewed the discussion in order to figure out what’s going on here.

My first comment on this subject was in response to a comment from soullite, which you can find above. So it seems to me there are two possibilities:
1. you would defend soullite’s position against my criticisms, possibly by suggesting that my criticisms are misconceived because I have misinterpreted soullite’s position;
2. you agree with me in rejecting soullite’s position.
Or can you find a third possibility?

141

nastywoman 07.06.17 at 9:35 am

@138
‘It’s not my fault that there are so many of you mainstream liberals that you even manage to quarrel with each other over your different commenting styles.’

Well – thank you – it’s about the first time I was called (indirectly) a ‘mainstream liberal’ – but as it shouldn’t be always about ME – it could be really worrisome for the ‘Overton Window’ – as it get’s so often and abruptly moved around here – that sooner or later Trump will be ‘just like Obama’ – or perhaps even ‘Jesus Christ’?
-(in the eyes of some very confused Americans)

And that’s the thing – the fact that somebody might stick with some ‘official’ definition from some dictionaries – doesn’t make somebody ‘mainstream’ and about your -(and Bruce?) – type of ‘Marxist-cowboy beard’ – I think that is so… and hopefully I’m allowed to say that here?
That is sooo… ‘cute’? –
– that I never understood… talking about ‘Trump’ and ‘Overton’ – where this tolerance of such irritating ‘Non-Marxism’ -(especially in Bruce’s case) comes from?

142

engels 07.06.17 at 9:37 am

When your poster boy for the vast brocialist conspiracy that has infiltrated CT is a commenter called ‘nastywoman’ it may be time you took a holiday

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Faustusnotes 07.06.17 at 10:12 am

Engels, it’s very clear from my comment that I don’t consider nastywoman to be a brocialist. But it’s an interesting point you raise! It does indeed appear that the battle lines have been drawn between two distinct demographic groups. The brocialists are primarily British and American men, while those lined up against them are more likely to be women , colonial, or living outside the Anglo sphere. It’s interesting the direction in which the moderation bias falls … but just to note, since it will surely be raised – i didn’t raise the identity of the cliques involved, you did.

144

kidneystones 07.06.17 at 10:22 am

I think the OP is great and entirely on-topic. Trump did indeed offer two blatantly contradictory positions on many occasions, misrepresent his past remarks, lie, race-bait, and thumb his nose at nay-sayers, prigs, and pearl-clutchers of all stripes all the way across the finish line. Winning!

And people marvel at his popularity, and call him incompetent? I normally find little reason to remark on nastywoman’s comments and hope I won’t compound any perceived insult by offering a word of support. Like Bruce, I struggle at times to get her gist, but believe she has points to make.

Were I desirous of a place in the choir, I’d start singing from the hymn book. Had lunch with a (lefty) German colleague who identified his favorite teacher in high school as a conservative who loved debate and encouraged his students: left and right to go at hammer and tongs on the issues of the day. What a useless tool, no?

Had there been a fingernail more debate here and elsewhere, the 2016 outcome might have been very different. The local speech police did all they could to enforce right-think and right-speech, but the moderators were enlightened enough to resist demands for ideological purity.

Long may this continue.

145

steven t johnson 07.06.17 at 10:26 am

J-D@135 “>At the most, any one seminary, or even all seminaries taken together, might demonstrate that some groups of experts are paid to be wrong; not that experts as a group are paid to be wrong. ‘Some groups of experts’ and ‘experts as a group’ are not the same thing.”

I was tempted to respond that in this context, “experts as a group” is not a thing. Experts properly are those with an expertise, which makes them a particular (‘some’) group of experts. That ‘experts as a group’ is, as already said, a strawman, hastily made and inserted into the argument. I suppose technically you could call it a straw scapegoat, that suffers logical defeat for another ideas sins against reason, leaving the flesh and blood sinner to go and sin…

Then it occurred to me that here ‘experts as a group,’ are the enlightened intelligentsia, intellectuals, the sage, the wise, the true philosophers. That this is about the unwashed, the rabble, the common man fighting class war. Or at least status war, but some people really think white working class means uneducated (lower division college courses and associate degrees don’t count!)

146

kidneystones 07.06.17 at 11:35 am

Hi John, Hope this passes muster – https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2017/07/06/best_of_pro-trump_online_grassroots_declares_meme_jihad_on_cnn.html

I know you can take a joke, and I’m pretty sure most other folks can, too. What many here don’t understand is that team Trump is laughing out loud at critics, especially in the media.

What’s the lesson? The Trump troll-monster relies absolutely on media over-reaction to maximize reach and to energize a base that might otherwise be wondering…”Where exactly are all those jobs he kept promising.”

You know my comments well enough to know when I’m being insulting, and I’m certainly not trying to be. In any event, despite taking a three-month absence from January, I never left the minds of at least one observer. I don’t think I’ve gloated (much) in 2017, but I feel no need to apologize for being right, especially after being called every name under the sun for the better part of a year by the noble and magnanimous. I’d be grateful if you allow this final comment for a bit.

Feel free to delete all further for the next 3 months. You won’t need to, of course, cause I got the discipline. Just want to add a huzzah to my communications students who produced a bumper crop of stellar projects that my colleagues deem peerless. One attempted to appropriate the students’ work. True! Best of luck to the family.

147

Katsue 07.06.17 at 1:51 pm

@142

I don’t think Faustusnotes is suggesting that nastywoman is a brocialist. He said that “brocialists” in this thread are being moderated differently from the way he was moderated in another thread. I’m not in a position to judge what happened, of course, but Faustusnotes may wish to consider whether that thread may have been moderated by a person other than John Holbo.

I have no idea who he’s saying is downplaying climate change, but climate change is definitely an example of a field where there are “experts” who are paid by oil companies to be wrong, and who are afforded a respectful hearing in the media despite the fact that the overwhelming consensus of climate scientists is against them.

148

Orange Watch 07.06.17 at 7:18 pm

engels

If you take a holiday, the brocialists win.

149

J-D 07.06.17 at 10:33 pm

steven t johnson
My first comment on this subject was in response to a comment from soullite, which you can find above. So it seems to me there are two possibilities:
1. you would defend soullite’s position against my criticisms, possibly by suggesting that my criticisms are misconceived because I have misinterpreted soullite’s position;
2. you agree with me in rejecting soullite’s position.
Or can you find a third possibility?

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Faustusnotes 07.06.17 at 11:14 pm

Katsue, there are no “experts” paid by oil companies to be wrong on global warming. Those people aren’t experts, they’re people from other fields who don’t know a single thing about climate science.

151

Katsue 07.07.17 at 12:20 pm

@150

The fact that they are not experts doesn’t mean they’re not “experts”.

152

Faustusnotes 07.08.17 at 12:49 am

Le sigh.

153

CDT 07.08.17 at 11:52 pm

@J-D regarding juries:
Where juries are required or allowed, their assignment is to resolve disputed facts, like whether that was OJ’s footprint or what the parties thought an ambiguous clause in a contract to mean. Their charge is not To decide what the law is. Their presumed competence is in weighing the reliability of conflicting evidence, like, who is lying? They are given instructions by the judge (i,.e., an expert) on what the law is. The judge also decides what evidence the jury is allowed to hear — generally that which is relevant, material, and not more prejudicial than probative.

Why we have juries is in part a result of the Sixth Amendment, which requires a jury for serious federal crimes. That right to a jury applies in the state courts via the Fourteenth Amndment, albeit in slightly less robust manner.

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J-D 07.09.17 at 10:53 pm

CDT

The meaning of ‘we’ is at least partly indexical. If you pose the question ‘Why do we have juries?’, then ‘Because of the Sixth Amendment and because of the Fourteenth Amendment’ is one of the appropriate answers. But when I pose the question ‘Why do we have juries?’, it is not an applicable answer.

Moreover (and the indexicality helps to point this up), even where ‘Because of the Sixth Amendment’ is an applicable answer, it doesn’t answer the reframed question ‘Why do we [or should I say ‘you’?] have the Sixth Amendment requirement for juries?’

The official theoretical model is, I know, and you correctly point out, that a judge is the trier of law and a jury the trier of fact. This observation naturally complements my own earlier observations: on questions of law, the opinion of a judge, who is supposed to be an expert, is supposed to be preferred to the opinion of a jury,supposed to be non-expert; on questions of fact, where the opinion of a jury is supposed to be preferred to the opinion of a judge, the judge is not supposed to be more expert than the jury. Questinos about the relationship between experience and the official theoretical model remain.

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CDT 07.10.17 at 3:28 am

@J-D:
This may not answer your question either, but the English and American systems adopted a right to a jury for reasons entirely unrelated to expertise. Inserting a jury of peers into the process was a hedge against oppression by the sovereign (star chambers and the like). Indeed, it is common for the guilty in criminal cases and for civil litigants with a weaker case to prefer a jury over a judge precisely because the jury might be easier to confuse in the interest of obtaining an undeserved result.

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