The Political Theory of Trumpism

by Corey Robin on October 12, 2017

The magazine n+1 is running an excerpt from the second edition of The Reactionary Mind, which comes out next week but is available for purchase now. The n+1 piece is titled “The Triumph of the Shill: The political theory of Trumpism.” It’s my most considered reflection on what Trumpism represents, based on a close reading of The Art of the Deal (yes, I know he didn’t write it, but it’s far more revelatory of the man and what he thinks than even its ghostwriter realized) and some of his other writings and speeches, as well as the record of Trump’s first six months in office.

Here are some excerpts from the excerpt, but I hope you’ll buy the book, too. It’s got a lot of new material, particularly about the economic ideas of the right. And a long, long chapter on Trump and Trumpism.

IN THE ART OF THE DEAL, Donald Trump tells us — twice — that he doesn’t do lunch. By the end of the first hundred pages, he’s gone out to lunch three times. Trump claims that he doesn’t take architecture critics seriously. On the next page, he admits, “I’m not going to kid you: it’s also nice to get good reviews.” Trump says the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania is “the place to go” to become a great entrepreneur. In the next paragraph, he states that a Wharton degree “doesn’t prove very much.”

Inconsistency has long been Trump’s style. But while his critics seize on that inconsistency as a unique liability, yet another difference between him and his respectable predecessors on the right, a happy avowal of contradiction has been a feature of the conservative tradition since the beginning. Originally, that avowal assumed a tonier form,…

The consonance between Trump’s inconsistency and the right’s embrace of contradiction raises a deeper question: Is Trump really a conservative? For many of his critics, on the left and the right, the answer is no. Trump’s racism, irregularity, and populism, and the ambient violence that trails his entourage, are seen as symptoms of a novel disease on the right, a sign that Trump has broken with the traditions and beliefs that once nourished the movement. Yet while the racism of the Trumpist right is nastier than that of its most recent predecessors, it is certainly not nastier or more violent than the movement’s battle against civil rights in the 1960s and ’70s, in the courts, legislatures, and streets. The weaponization of racism and nativism under Trump intensifies a well-established tradition on the right, as studies of American conservatism from the 1920s through the Tea Party have shown. Likewise, the erratic nature of Trump’s White House, the freewheeling disregard of norms and rules, reflects a long-standing conservative animus to the customary and the conventional, as do Trump’s jabs against the establishment. There are important innovations in Trump’s populist appeals, but populism has been a critical element of the right from its inception.

In other words, conservatives have breached norms, flouted decorum, assailed elites, and shattered orthodoxy throughout the ages. Still, Trump does represent something new.

Yet there is an unexpected sigh of emptiness, even boredom, at the end of Trump’s celebration of economic combat: “If you ask me exactly what the deals I’m about to describe all add up to in the end, I’m not sure I have a very good answer.” In fact, he has no answer at all. He says hopefully, “I’ve had a very good time making them,” and wonders wistfully, “If it can’t be fun, what’s the point?” But the quest for fun is all he has to offer — a dispiriting narrowness that Max Weber anticipated more than a century ago when he wrote that “in the United States, the pursuit of wealth, stripped of its religious and ethical meaning, tends to become associated with purely mundane passions, which often actually give it the character of sport.” Ronald Reagan could marvel, “You know, there really is something magic about the marketplace when it’s free to operate. As the song says, ‘This could be the start of something big.’” But there is no magic in Trump’s market. Everything — save those buttery leather pants — is a bore.

That admission affords Trump considerable freedom to say things about the moral emptiness of the market that no credible aspirant to the Oval Office from the right could.

This is what makes Trump’s economic philosophy, such as it is, so peculiar and of its moment. An older generation of economic Darwinists, from William Graham Sumner to Ayn Rand, believed without reservation in the secular miracle of the market. It wasn’t just the contest that was glorious; the outcome was, too. That conviction burned in them like a holy fire. Trump, by contrast, subscribes and unsubscribes to that vision. The market is a moment of truth — and an eternity of lies. It reveals; it hides. It is everything; it is nothing. Rand grounded her vision of capitalism in A is A; Trump grounds his in A is not A.

TRUMP IS BY NO MEANS the first man of the right to reach that conclusion about capitalism, though he may be the first President to do so, at least since Teddy Roosevelt. A great many neoconservatives found themselves stranded on the same beach after the end of the cold war, as had many conservatives before that. But they always found a redeeming vision in the state. Not the welfare state or the “nanny state,” but the State of high politics, national greatness, imperial leadership, and war; the state of Churchill and Bismarck. Given the menace of Trump’s rhetoric, his fetish for pomp and love of grandeur, this state, too, would seem the natural terminus of his predilections. As his adviser Steve Bannon has said, “A country’s more than an economy. We’re a civic society.” Yet on closer inspection, Trump’s vision of the state looks less like the State than the deals he’s not sure add up to much.


Again, read the whole excerpt here, and then buy the book!

I’ll be doing a bunch of interviews about the book, including one with our very own Henry, so keep an eye out at my blog for more information on that.

{ 197 comments }

1

Carol 10.12.17 at 2:59 am

https://youtu.be/LCRZZC-DH7M

So he keeps on prancing across the stage, an idiot full of sound and fury, signifying nothing

2

Alan White 10.12.17 at 3:11 am

What a wonderful satire of Trumpism. Brilliant post.

3

Tabasco 10.12.17 at 4:38 am

“It wasn’t just the contest that was glorious; the outcome was, too.”

Was this supposed to be written the other way around?

4

kidneystones 10.12.17 at 4:45 am

Congratulations Corey! I gave the excerpt a good skim. Thank you for the generous offering. I’ve one question:

“Trump is a window onto the dissolution of the conservative whole, a whole that can allow itself to collapse because it has achieved so much.”

You made this argument about the conservative whole before Trump came to power, did you not? I apologize if I missed a specific connection in the piece.

I’m not convinced Trump is a conservative and neither are many self-styled conservatives. But I think a great many of your observations are extremely sharp.

5

Dr. Hilarius 10.12.17 at 4:54 am

Trumpism’s inconsistency. lack of coherence and cult of personality brings to mind Juan Peron and Evita.

6

nastywoman 10.12.17 at 6:10 am

I completely disagree as Trump is NOT a cannibal!

7

Gareth Wilson 10.12.17 at 6:15 am

“If you ask me exactly what the deals I’m about to describe all add up to in the end, I’m not sure I have a very good answer.”

Master at two-and-twenty, and married at twenty-three —
Ten thousand men on the pay-roll, and forty freighters at sea
Fifty years between’em, and every year of it fight,
And now I’m Sir Anthony Gloster, dying, a baronite:
For I lunched with his Royal ‘Ighness — what was it the papers had?
“Not the least of our merchant-princes.” Dickie, that’s me, your dad!
– Rudyard Kipling, the “Mary Gloster”

8

b9n10nt 10.12.17 at 7:59 am

I agree, of course, that Trump’s bullying persona is a delight to the authoritarian peasantry. Interesting that you begin by noticing Trump’s earlier delight in contradiction. What Trump has in common here with earlier reactionaries is clear: public, unapologetic contradiction (& obscurity) is a display of power: contradictions and multiple interpretations are resolved by “which is to be master -that is all”, to quote the Egg.

Anyway, what is missing from this analysis is liberal capitalism as an independent force to which both the left and right react to. As this force dissolves communal bonds and erects a society of individuals and markets in its place, authoritarian reactionaries and egalitarian revolutionaries alike attempt to resolve -in opposite directions- the status anxieties thus created.

There was and is no settled victory for the right. Or rather, each rightist victory reminds authoritarians of their impotence: the marriage between the peasantry and their master can never be consummated so long as liberal capitalism continues to deny the possibility of communal stasis. Only a settled nobility can perform their majestic tyranny on behalf of a settled peasantry to the resolution of status anxiety. (The left is even weaker: at its strongest it merely has the opportunity to frame liberal capitalist revolutions as its own.)

The current weakness of reactionaries isn’t primarily a result of their former ascent. Rather, it’s a built-in fact of liberal capitalism. All the more necessary, then, for symbolic displays of Alpha-ness.

I think this political typology is more accurate. For example, post-60’s increasing racial segregation and inequality is a side effect of (liberal) capitalist development: it is neither a cause for concern among elite white liberals nor a cause for rejoyce among the right. The right needs itself to be the agent of oppression rather than the happenstance beneficiaries of a privelege gained through historical circumstance. “Law and order”, “voter fraud”, immigration, patriarchy…these are the issues which arrouse the reactionary mind because they are performances of oppression, not merely observed. The whole point of the show is to demonstrate who the alpha is. Inexorable faceless social developments won’t do.

9

TM 10.12.17 at 8:13 am

“The consonance between Trump’s inconsistency and the right’s embrace of contradiction raises a deeper question: Is Trump really a conservative?”

I’m sorry but you have to have lived under a rock to ask a question like that. Trump is the 21st century incarnation of fascism. There is nothing conservative about anything he or the GOP stand for. (Do you think historical fascists were consistent in their ideology?)

10

Mario 10.12.17 at 9:07 am

Trumpism is what you get when you have ostensibly (id est, you dominate the discussion) won the argument, but the other side just doesn’t want to accept the outcome. Many Trump voters think he is the only thing keeping them from being wiped out culturally. Just watch at how desperately they cling to him.

11

Howard Frant 10.12.17 at 11:51 am

Please learn the difference between “flaunt” and “flout.”

12

Adam Roberts 10.12.17 at 12:42 pm

Your ‘surfaces’ point is very well made. In fact, I wonder if this (weirdly enough, very postmodern) point isn’t the core truth about Trump. He doesn’t care how things are (so, lying is nothing at all to him: he genuinely doesn’t see the problem); he cares about how things look. Think how angry he gets when unflattering images of him are published in the news: he thinks so long as he looks Presidential he is Presidential, and that’s all there is to it. He’s pure surface. His only identity is what his mirror says to him. He has no core identity and its incomprehensible to him that anybody else has.

Although, having said that, I’d have to concede that it’s not actually postmodernism, since Trump’s flatness doesn’t float entirely free of signification, since what he thinks looks good is egregiously ideoligically determined. What he thinks ‘looks good’ is (a) monstrously kitsch and (b) racist and sexist. In Trump’s view Obama didn’t present a Presidential surface, or face, to the world; ergo he not only wasn’t Presidential, he wasn’t even American. Hillary can’t be President, because she doesn’t look like a President, since everybody knows a President looks like an old white guy in a suit. America is the flag in a weirdly literal way for Trump, and many of his supporters; which is to say, America isn’t anything ‘behind’ that flat surface (anything like, say, freedom of speech, if you’re Black and a professional footballer; or welcoming the world’s huddled masses). America just is that surface pattern, and everything else is making sure you, personally, feel good.

As has been said many times on this site and its comments threads, Trump is only a symptom: millions think in exactly the same way. The current Weinstein scandal seems to me to index this. Why don’t Republicans feel any shame, or sense of hypocrisy, energetically condemning Weinstein for exactly the things Trump literally admitted on tape he did? We might say this is just Tribalism, it’s only bad when the other side do it. But I think there’s something more: Trump is,or at least when he was younger was, handsome and Aryan. Weinstein is ugly and Jewish. Given that disparity in appearance how can we possible equate their behaviours? (Obviously I say so not in mitigation of Weinstein: he should be in jail. I say so in an attempt at cultural pre-diagnosis. Of course in reality it goes without saying that to someone raped or harrassed, it matters not a jot whether the rapist was handsome or not).

13

Corey Robin 10.12.17 at 1:06 pm

Howard Frant at 11: That was a mix-up generated in the editing of the piece that has since been fixed. That said, if you look up “flaunt” in the dictionary, you’ll see that the second definition is “to treat contemptuously,” which means that “flaunting decorum” is perfectly acceptable as a usage. Speaking of treating contemptuously, if you can’t comment without being a presumptuous know-it-all—who happens, in this instance, to have the added distinction of being wrong—please stay away from my comments threads. There are simple and polite ways to correct people: i.e., “I think you might have meant flout, not flaunt.”

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/flaunt

14

alfredlordbleep 10.12.17 at 1:55 pm

Frant and I are conservative language users (Maybe in few, if any, other respects :-))

P. S. He may have got up on the wrong side of the bed.

https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/flaunt

Flaunt and flout may sound similar but they have different meanings. Flaunt means ‘display ostentatiously’, as in visitors who liked to flaunt their wealth, while flout means ‘openly disregard a rule or convention’, as in new recruits growing their hair and flouting convention. It is a common error, recorded since around the 1940s, to use flaunt when flout is intended, as in the young woman had been flaunting the rules and regulations. In the Oxford English Corpus the second and third commonest objects of flaunt, after wealth, are law and rules

15

kidneystones 10.12.17 at 2:19 pm

@12 The desire to make Trump anti-Semitic, and a fascist is a lot easier than recognizing he’s a talented media manipulator devoid and any real convictions. The idea that 60 million Americans voted to elect a man who secretly wants to end elections is absurd on every level. He doesn’t need to end elections, because elections are the ultimate ratings game. He brags endlessly that he beat all the professional politicians as a neophyte.

He looks certain at this point to thread the needle for 2020 at the expense of both Republicans and Democrats. He may very well simplify the tax code and get rather more done in his second year in office. His first year has and will be devoted to pure survival – defending his corner and maintaining his base. Trump supporters, myself included, are anti-politician, and unsympathetic to faction and ideology, which is part of the reason I really do question Corey’s efforts to make Trump part of a conservative movement.

When folks assert that Trump is all about surfaces, they say that as if it’s a bad thing. The republican base supporting Trump, we have clearly learned, maintains no fidelity to the theologies expounded at the NRO and the AEI. Trump’s inability to think about challenges in ways approved of by his critics confounds experts precisely because he’s so effective. I can’t believe he has less heft and gravitas than the light-bulb salesman Americans elected twice. He is simply the right guy with the right message for a specific time and place. He may morph into evil personified and I get the sense at times that some of his critics are keen to see just that.

Every time Hillary Clinton opens her mouth to utter another blatant falsehood, I feel better about the results of 2016. There is, as Corey notes, an emptiness at the heart of the conservative movement. The same can be said of liberals who are, if anything, in even greater disarray than conservatives. The great society experiments yield, in 2016, appalling failure rates among America’s African-American youth to follow decades of failure as the African-American family unit dis-integrates. Liberals are all out of answers, as are theological conservatives. Perhaps the reality is that ordinary Americans, and others across the globe, are actually far less polarized than the pundits tell us.

We might very well go down some ugly path to war and disaster, but is seems to me just as likely that life will actually go on much as it has, only with fewer wars and slightly more charity towards each other. Cause just yammering about the blah-blah-blah is getting mighty old.

16

William Timberman 10.12.17 at 3:28 pm

Since last November we’ve had what seems like an endless stream of heroic attempts to dissect and explain the Trump phenomenon, and us none the wiser for having suffered through them all. If we must read any more of them — and who isn’t up for a little horror over the morning coffee — It’s nice to see a little wit mixed in with the pearl-clutching. Well done, Corey.

I’d be hard pressed to count up all the hundreds of hours I’ve spent sitting on hard chairs listening to braying assholes simply because they had me by the paycheck. In every such case it was the display, not the content, that was the real message. The preening, the insensitivity, the fatuousness, the performance of relative importances are what I was intended to remember, and what in fact I have remembered. When it comes to that sort of forceable mental imprinting, there’s little discernible difference between, say, Steve Ballmer, and the Donald himself. The anger is different, of course, but as you’ve said, that’s more a symptom of impending failure than of recognizable triumph.

And so it goes. Road rage, internet trollery, walking into traffic or into walls while tweeting, the clamor, the urgency, etc. In the darkest of our prophecies, the ignorant, self-important swine we’ve put in the White House actually does nuke North Korea, and we all die. It doesn’t help much to reflect that this wasn’t really the destination we had in mind when we began our journey.

17

nastywoman 10.12.17 at 4:06 pm

So sorry but I HAVE to respond to @15
” The idea that 60 million Americans voted to elect a man who secretly wants to end elections is absurd on every level.”

Yes it is!! –
As we all know that 60 million Americans voted to elect a F… Moron and F…face von Clownstick to destroy the US ”gubernment” –

And so he does!
-(and very ”talented” as you wrote)

18

alfredlordbleep 10.12.17 at 4:07 pm

Kiddiestories@15
He may very well simplify the tax code. . .

Absurd refrain, the party standard happy talk for huuuuge tax cuts for plutocracy.

There’s more, but I have to eat my supper.

19

nastywoman 10.12.17 at 4:10 pm

AND – as I forgot -(sorry again) –

WE the people have a lot of humor!!

20

b9n10nt 10.12.17 at 4:42 pm

kidneystones:

Trump voters are anti-faction? Post-ideology? Beyond R & D?

Like yourself? Who then goes on to claim that Great Society programs yield Black “failure rates” and “family unit” disintegration?

Untenable and self-refuting. How would you explain the empirical data on the ’16 election, seeing as it suggests that Trump voters were simply Republicans and not some novel assemblage of demographics? And are you possibly unaware that the whole “Great Society entrenched Black poverty” claim is a standard “factional” talking point?

By the way, your post follows an often-observed formula I’ve observed for how White America talk about race:

Step 1) Racism was a thing but race hustlers and victimologists won’t acknowledge that we fixed all that (“Liberals are all out of answers”)

Step 2) What is it with those Black people, anyway? (“failure rates among African American youth”)

White America imaginatively “gerrymanders” social dysfunction into communities of color and implicitly exonerates itself.

21

Glen Tomkins 10.12.17 at 4:59 pm

Trump has dementia with behavioral disturbance. That book he didn’t write so many years ago didn’t have any relation to what he thought even at that time. You really can’t derive anything from paying attention to the content of what he says and does now, or what his ghostwriter wrote back then.

You may have perfectly valid, insightful points to make about our politics, you may have reached those insights contemplating the trump and all his works. But those insights are no more based on Trump content than what springs to mind staring at an inkblot, or trying to impose order on random REM sleep brain activity has on the “content” of dreams or inkblots. Those things are random. Any pattern you see in them reflects order you have imposed, not something actually there in the content of something that is actually without content. Both the Rorschach and the interpretation of dreams have a certain validity at reaching the truth, but the point of such methods is what they tell us about ourselves that we cannot admit other than by projecting onto a random blot of ink on paper or random neuronal firing in a brain during REM sleep.

Trump is an effing moron. His success itself tells us that we have let our politics get pretty effing moronic. Maybe the best we can do figuring out what is wrong with our patient, the US electorate, is Rorschach and dream analysis, so I’m not criticizing content. But this is a method that has quite a bit of madness to it, so don’t expect to convince anyone except folks who already are thinking the same things about Trump and US politics that we are. People who actually need convincing aren’t going to look at the same inkblot and see what you and I see, at all.

Personally, I’m sticking with pushing the idea that Trump has dementia with behavioral disturbance, and that’s it, no embellishments, no attempt to link that with public policy content. There is a chance that even people who need convincing, people other than the choir here at CT, will be able to accept that, that Trump is demented. Not only might that result in Trump’s stubby little fingers being removed from the nuclear button — by itself a clear personal security plus for every inhabitant of the globe — maybe at least some of these people who need convincing will have a flash of insight about how they came to support putting someone with obvious dementia with behavioral disturbance in the WH.

The difference in methods is a question of emphasis to be sure. We want the people who need convincing to have that moment of gestalt, but also to have the right gestalt, to begin to see the world in a more reasonable way than the way that led them finally to support putting a person with dementia in the WH. There is the prospect that if the idea that Trump has dementia with behavioral disturbance prevails, all that happens is that Pence, the R cabinet, and R Congress get Trump out of the WH and into custodial care, but these Rs keep on doing their damage. They will conclude that Trump is just the latest politician to have failed conservatism, and not that conservatism failed, predictably and inevitably.

There is that prospect, so pumping the idea that conservatism itself is pathologic, that it. and not Trump, has failed, is hardly an obviously wrong strategy. I just don’t see it convincing anybody who needs convincing. I prefer to rely on the inherent soundness of our content compared to theirs. We don’t really need to sell that content, including the critique of conservatism, because it sells itself. We do need to get the demented guy away from the nuclear button, and the people who need convincing seem to be coming around to the accepting the idea that he’s demented, because that is something they can accept without a clear and present danger to their world view. My hope is that acceptance of what they did putting a person they now have to accept as demented into the WH might shock enough of them into looking at the world afresh that just maybe we can have somewhat saner public policy for a while.

22

LFC 10.12.17 at 5:03 pm

kidneystones @15
That Trump lacks much knowledge of public policy was clear during the campaign, and since being inaugurated he has remained uninterested in and ignorant of (sometimes amazingly so) the details of policy. One wonders if he even reads the exec orders he has been signing. Your support of someone so manifestly unsuited to be president, by virtue of his vast ignorance if nothing else, was puzzling during the campaign and remains so. Btw, what “great society experiments” are you talking about? Have you heard of the ’96 welfare ‘reform’ law?

23

LFC 10.12.17 at 5:10 pm

p.s. In terms of ignorant presidents in recent memory, Reagan and G.W. Bush come close to Trump, but Trump outdoes them. (Though in a competition on that score between Reagan and Trump, it might be close to a tie.)

24

Collin Street 10.12.17 at 8:29 pm

Personally, I’m sticking with pushing the idea that Trump has dementia with behavioral disturbance, and that’s it, no embellishments, no attempt to link that with public policy content.

It does, though. Trump — I have long argued all right-wingers, but it’s obvious with Trump — is plainly empathy/theory-of-mind impaired, and that means the “randomness” is going to be systemically biased:
+ towards approaches that attribute too much agency to others
+ towards approaches that neglect systemic effects
+ towards approaches that neglect second-order effects
+ towards approaches that treat members of classes as

So. The solution to gun violence is more guns: neglecting second-order effects. The solution to poverty is for the unemployed to get more work at higher wages: too much agency. The solution to sexism and racism is to ignore race in your personal dealings: ignoring systemic effects. Autism — but not IIUC sociopathy — also involves stereotype thinking, where every member of a class is assumed/presumed/demanded-to-be typical of its class: the impact this might have on personal sexism and racism is fairly straightforward.

These are all related to empathy impairment because understanding the non-erroneous approach involves understanding how the circumstances others find themselves in shapes the options open to them.

[see also the Brexit negotiations, and the handling of the Catalan constitutional crisis from Rajoy. Also the greece debt crisis and the actions of the german finance minister at the time; meetings until dawn for days in a row are a product of irrational intransigence, not calm discussion. And if Cicero with his “also I think carthage should be destroyed” didn’t have autism I’ll eat my conjectural hat.]

25

Matt 10.12.17 at 9:53 pm

William Timberman at 16 said:

When it comes to that sort of forceable mental imprinting, there’s little discernible difference between, say, Steve Ballmer, and the Donald himself.

Well, maybe, but I have a hard time imagining Trump taking the time (and resources) to do something like this

26

nastywoman 10.12.17 at 10:25 pm

and @24
”[see also the Brexit negotiations, and the handling of the Catalan constitutional crisis from Rajoy. Also the greece debt crisis and the actions of the german finance minister at the time”

No let’s NOT ”see” that AS – what does the bible say:
”You should NOT dare to classify or compare Trump with some are any – as when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without any comparison to the Orang Orang Utan!

27

William Timberman 10.12.17 at 10:45 pm

Matt @ 25 (10.12.17 at 9:53 pm)

Some are better than their public personas, some are not. I’m prepared to believe that Hitler actually did treat dogs and children with a certain tenderness. It’s hard to tell, though, when it’s their public personas that have you at their mercy. Structural assholery, rather than personal assholery? Yeah, why not?

28

Mario 10.12.17 at 11:00 pm

Collin Street:

It does, though. Trump — I have long argued all right-wingers, but it’s obvious with Trump — is plainly empathy/theory-of-mind impaired, […]

Your theory does not fit the available data. Trump got elected. Trump trampled over his own party before trampling over the Democrats. All the time under heavy fire from basically all of the media. It’s impossible to have such an effective campaign, and to perform in such a way in debates (unprepared!) and other venues, where he basically made a killing, without having a damn. good. theory of mind. It’s a theory with different goal than the ones you like, but a powerful theory of mind it must be, certainly!

Remember that he also kept a large team running in a very effective way. He may be a monster, but an idiot he is not!

So. The solution to gun violence is more guns: neglecting second-order effects.

That’s a complete misunderstanding of the thrust of the argument. The argument is there so that guns don’t get outlawed. Plain and simple. I mean – do you understand that? They are not trying to solve gun violence. They are trying to solve a different problem, and for some reason they managed to confuse you. Also: did they manage to confuse gun owners?

Who’s got the better theory of whose mind?

The solution to poverty is for the unemployed to get more work at higher wages: too much agency.

Again, the argument is not there to ‘solve’ poverty.

The solution to sexism and racism is to ignore race in your personal dealings: ignoring systemic effects.

Again, the argument is there so that – ah, what is it?

You mention autism. I would like to mention autism, too. But I don’t seem to find an elegant way to do it.

29

Whirrlaway 10.12.17 at 11:52 pm

I read TAOTD shortly after Trump announced and it convinced me that he was way more dangerous than generally credited at that time, and explained a lot that came after. He may well have been crazy like an ethically challenged fox then, but Howard Stern said at the time this job was going to take a toll on him. No relevant tools including for personal maintenance.

In the link, I couldn’t untangle the usage of ‘conservative’, ‘right’, and ‘Republican’ which I don’t see as interchangeable. … and this
the freewheeling disregard of norms and rules, reflects a long-standing conservative animus to the customary and the conventional
pretty well fractures the ordinary idea of conserving things. I guess Rush and the boys have stolen the word fair and square but still.

30

b9n10nt 10.12.17 at 11:57 pm

A sociopath can be very good at reading and manipulating others. Having a theory of mind is quite distinct from having empathy, and having empathy is quite distinct from using it pervasively to guide personal/social/political life.

RE: campaigning, I’ve seen no evidence that he was particularly effective. & the media did far more to enable his campaign vs. Hillary than not. (EMAILS!!! But also, the media is structurally complicit in producing a mass politics that misleads, distracts, and disempowers citizens -while entertaining us, to be sure.)

31

Scott P. 10.13.17 at 12:44 am

And if Cicero with his “also I think carthage should be destroyed” didn’t have autism I’ll eat my conjectural hat.

Cato the Elder.

32

Tom 10.13.17 at 1:41 am

As far as I can tell, your claim so far (in this and other posts) is that Trump should be seen first of all as a conservative: those who see him as a radical break from US conservatism have an idealized version of what the GOP and the right have actually been throughout their history.* I tend to agree with this (e.g. the GOP has been very racist since many decades) but with two important qualifications that I have never seen you make:

a) Trump has defended an isolationist foreign policy, attacking Nafta, Nato, the WTO etc. Given his erratic behavior, he has not followed through on this (yet?) but the departure with the previous mainstream consensus is radical. The mainstream left and right, at least since two decades, had been very much internationalist.

b) During the campaign Trump has defended some form of social welfare state and more government intervention in the economy: e.g. his defense of Social Security, or even maternity leave, and his support for infrastructure. I do not think he really cares about this stuff and so he is probably not going to follow through. Given his general cluelessness, he is also captured by the various randians who populate the GOP ranks. But, differently from many politicians on the right, in primis the randians, Trump has some sense for what people want. And in the campaign he said it, possibly opening up the field for future Keynesians republicans.

*You hedge this view a bit in this post, by considering Trump’s view of the market.

33

Corey Robin 10.13.17 at 2:06 am

Tom 32: I don’t know what you mean by I “hedge this view a bit.” In the n+1 piece, I consider it at length. I argue that in many of the respects that people think of Trump as a break, he’s fairly continuous. There is however one respect in which he has made an innovation, and that is with respect to his view of the market. There’s no hedge there in the piece. It’s pretty straightforward. As for his isolationism: In my book, I argue that there is no intrinsic view on the right with respect to international politics; as I say there, “Some [conservatives] are localists, others nationalists, and still others internationalists. Some, like Burke, are all three at the same time.” On the whole, however, Trump has pretty much followed Republican consensus positions while in office. The consistent pattern there has been to revert to the Republican mean.

Whirrlaway: I understand that that view of conservatism breaks with customary accounts. It comes from my book, The Reactionary Mind, from which this piece on Trump is an excerpt. I defend in the book why I think my view is right. We’ve debated that view on this blog for years and years. Some are persuaded; others, not.

34

LFC 10.13.17 at 2:22 am

Collin Street thinks that conservatism is some kind of organic affliction, that conservatives all have something wrong with their brain chemistry or biology, that they are all cognitively abnormal. This is absurd.

It’s also very anti-historical. Inasmuch as conservatism is, among other things, a defense of hierarchy, it can (and did, at one time) appeal to millennia of precedent. Were the believers in the divine right of monarchs mentally abnormal? Were those who believed (and continue to believe) that employers have a right to exploit their workers mentally ill? Were, to take an even starker example, proponents of slavery psychologically impaired? If so, how to account for the fact that slavery was close to universal among human societies until fairly recently in the history of the species? Were the vast majority of humans all psychologically impaired until some date of enlightenment (pick your date or century)?

Something can be deeply wrong, i.e. immoral, without being the product of a cognitive abnormality, and people can commit evil acts and hold evil beliefs without being mentally or psychologically impaired. To attribute all retrograde political acts and beliefs to an individual’s deficient “theory of mind” (whatever that means exactly) is sociologically naive, psychologically untenable, and historically invalid.

35

Tom 10.13.17 at 2:30 am

Corey @33: thanks for the answers. I had read only the CT post, and some of your previous posts, here and at your website, but I had not read the n+1 piece. Now I see that in the n+1 piece you say “Yet Trump’s critique of plutocracy, defense of entitlements, and articulated sense of the market’s wounds were among the more noteworthy innovations of his campaign”, which I agree with.

36

kidneystones 10.13.17 at 2:33 am

Believing one has the power to read minds belongs in the realm of quackery, and if internalized with real conviction can be grounds for sectioning. I have no problem with Trump equals Hitler in the realm of internet banter, but if one truly believes that 60 million believe we no longer need elections, why do we go to such lengths to conceal our ‘secret’ agenda. Declaring for Trump invites accusations of racism, authoritarianism, etc. all of which we wear with considerable good humor, for the most part.

The great society solutions which I long supported and still do, in some respects, have failed the people who need them most. Here’s a story that Trump Hitler and Melania’s dress pushed right out of the national press.
http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/06/05/75-of-black-california-boys-dont-meet-state-reading-standards/

A million years, long, long ago BT (Before Trump), the NYT published stories such as this:
– The NYT on October, 11th, 1969 “Imagine, if you can, what your life would be like if you could not read, or if your reading skill were so meager as to limit you to the simplest of writings, and if for you the door to the whole world of knowledge and inspiration available through the printed word had never opened.”

Or this: “In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunities of an education.  Such an opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right that must be made available on equal terms.”
–  Chief Justice Earl Warren, Brown v. Board of Education (1954

The failure of great society programs to meet the educational needs of minorities has become a feature of the liberal landscape, a deep aching scream of anguish as deafening as a thundering waterfall, or roaring freight train, and one we have become so inured to that the deadly cycle of minority illiteracy and the misery that goes with it passes without comment. None.No comment on the 2016 illiteracy rates in California, America’s most populous state in the national press, nothing in the NYT or Wapo, nothing in TNR, the Nation, Salon, the American Prospect, NPR, PBS, not a frigging peep from any of the media outlets that once believed minority literacy mattered.

http://www.theroot.com/report-75-percent-of-black-boys-in-calif-don-t-meet-1795743180 “The most recent round of testing in the state of California has revealed a disturbing statistic: Three out of 4 black boys failed to meet the reading and writing requirements, and more than half of them scored in the lowest category on the English portion of the test.” That’s about it.

One of the reasons I was confident that Trump would pull it out was the indifference displayed here to commentary from African-American Democrats, such as Van Jones, who warned that life for African Americans under Obama and the Democrats wasn’t quite as rosy as the national press (see above) and the DNC would have us believe. Jones warned specifically that Michigan and the other blue wall rust belt states were especially vulnerable. Were I playing the same sort of games some here do, I’d accuse those who mocked and ignored Jones of racism. The reaction then mirror the comments on this thread, suggesting that some/many in CT community have learned nothing from 2016.

The great society programs aren’t working, African-American youth is in crisis, 3 out of 4 African-American males in California of high school age can’t read, or write. And that ongoing catastrophe doesn’t merit a mention in the NYT, or even the ‘left-wing’ press, because many here and elsewhere are more concerned, frankly, with bombast, 21st century phrenology, and Melania’s heels.

37

Glen Tomkins 10.13.17 at 5:26 am

Collin Street,

However accurate and insightful your take on Trump and the Rs/conservatives — that they suffer from the same pathology, and exactly what that pathology is — might be, it suffers from the same objections I make to what CR is doing. Any conservative who is not, like Trump, clinically demented, is going to slough off any points you make about his or her pathology in comparing their movement with Trump, by the simple step of attributing all of Trump’s pathology to the dementia, not to any pathology inherent in conservatism. They already have their defenses up on this point, and Trump provides the weakest point of attack possible. Conservatism cannot fail, it can only be failed, as Trump has failed it by being so obviously and highly imperfect, demented, leader of the cause. Trump, in his dementia, works with a defective theory of everything, so he’s a bad example if you’re trying to make a point about any particular cognitive failing.

Monsters breed in the sleep of reason, so Trump, whose reason seems to have gone into a coma some time ago, provides an embarrassment of riches in terms of monstrous thought. You could find in his rage tweets, his sawed-off Nuremberg Rally speeches, his Art of the Deal, so many different patterns of pathology, all valid insights, all really there, but no one of them controlling, because there is nothing left in control in that mind.

In that, Trump actually does reflect a wider reality, but not conservatism. He is the embodiment in human form of Plato’s idea of the pure, end-stage democracy from the Republic, rule by a demos that has seen all sources of order refuted, and so refuses any subordination to any sort of consistent rule, in favor of following a different lead every day. That’s why he won despite being an effing moron, because he captures the spirit of an electorate that is heartily sick of all the false and insincere models of order it has been offered by politicians too calculating to stand by any of the pieties they merely posture at. People have figured out that our politics has us all at the bottom of that cave where all the images that are paraded before us are just so many shadows of mostly unreal things. Trump says, “Away with all that PC claptrap! Overturn all the idols! They’re all just shadows of unreal things.” This isn’t a conservative message. It’s not any sort of message. Trump isn’t consonant with conservatism, not with any more consistency than he rings any other bell available. He’ll be ringing some other bell tomorrow.

Trump himself is too disorganized to be the tyrant who is the next stage this pure democracy leads to, but he is perhaps its forerunner, its voice crying in the wilderness — for more wildness. Someone with a better work ethic and without the dementia is needed to be the tyrant who completes the work. Either that work is completed and we move on to tyranny, or we go back to the more genial and forgiving anarchy we are used to.

38

b9n10nt 10.13.17 at 6:03 am

kidneystones @36.

Here is your argument as I understand it:

a) Liberals have abandoned the issue of black education and are proposing no solutions except a reflexive, spineless defense of The Great Society.

b) ???

c) Therefore I support Trump.

Can I play?

a) None of the liberal institutions are calling out the EPA’s failure to remove carcinogens from the environment. (Here we feign resentment that a single aspect of American governance fails to conclusively solve a systemic, complex problem that’s literally never been solved anywhere.)

b) Trump and the Republicans aren’t liberal instutions.

c). I vote for Trump. (Here we whitewash and ignore any documented evidence of a candidate’s positions.)

You know who else cares about Black people, perhaps even as much as Trump and the Republicans? Yeah, me neither. I don’t know and I can’t imagine where I’d look… it’s a real stumper. But I’m sure when i find them, they’ll be preoccupied with an urban agenda that starts and ends with “give law enforcement the support and deference it deserves” and “liberals stay away from our communities with your welfare state paternalism”.

Again, if you don’t like Trumpists being associated with White Supremacy and authoritarianism, you have every opportunity to make an argument on their behalf that is intellectually coherent and willing to acknowledge what the imagined victims of 60’s liberals have to say about their own lives.

Or you can continue to make frankly bizarre claims about Trumps “effectiveness” and gesture towards nonexistent novel solutions to racial inequality while demonstrating absolutely zero engagement with the people who live in and represent Black communities.

To chose the second approach and be able to gaslight those who see your choice as a (subtle, to be sure) manifestation of White identity politics…well, that’s what Privilege looks like.

39

Layman 10.13.17 at 6:15 am

LFC: “Were the believers in the divine right of monarchs mentally abnormal? Were those who believed (and continue to believe) that employers have a right to exploit their workers mentally ill? Were, to take an even starker example, proponents of slavery psychologically impaired? If so, how to account for the fact that slavery was close to universal among human societies until fairly recently in the history of the species? Were the vast majority of humans all psychologically impaired until some date of enlightenment (pick your date or century)?”

Why can’t the answer to all these questions be ‘yes’?

Not all people in slaveholding societies held slaves. Not all people in slaveholding societies throughout history had a say in the affairs of government which made slaveholding legal. Were the slave holders, themselves, psychologically impaired? Well, fuck yes, they were. Is it even a serious question?

Mario: “It’s impossible to have such an effective campaign, and to perform in such a way in debates (unprepared!) and other venues, where he basically made a killing, without having a damn. good. theory of mind.”

This sounds great, until you recall that the campaign itself was nothing but a publicity stunt at the start, which all of Trump’s forays into politics have been; and no one on the campaign (including Trump) ever believed he would actually win, not even on Election Day; and that there’s no evidence that the victory was orchestrated by any kind of plan, being instead an unhappy accident. As to ‘making a killing’, you’re ignorant. Trump went broke over and over again in the casino business, for fuck’s sake. He’s a terrible business man, reduced eventually to perpetrating fraudulent schemes on stupid poor people and laundering Russian oligarch money

kidneystones: “The failure of great society programs…”

Great Society programs have failed for the same reason that Obamacare will likely fail: Because they were made to fail by the opposition. Schools are still segregated, only not by law, but instead by institutional racism in economic practices, employment practices, housing practices and the social views of the wealthy and the white majority. White privilege is a powerful weapon. And your obvious glee over Trump and his depredations does you little credit.

40

nastywoman 10.13.17 at 6:18 am

@
”Declaring for Trump invites accusations of racism, authoritarianism, etc. all of which we wear with considerable good humor, for the most part.”

That’s good – as we will need a lot more ”good humor” after Trump has finished what he was elected for -(destroying the US ”gubernment”) – and as we now all have proof that he is ”at war” with the American people – or let’s say there aren’t any ”American People” he isn’t at war with -(so glad you mentioned ”any child”) – let me predict ”we the people” ultimately will win this war – we just had to get ”the Orange” out of our system!

41

b9n10nt 10.13.17 at 6:45 am

Kidneystones models one attempt to work for the empowerment of poor urban black youth. We could call it the recycle-neoconservative-tropes method of social activism.

Here’s another way to go about it

Or, given that…

The consensus of social scientists, he noted, is that socioeconomic and racial integration is one of the best things communities can do for young people to help them succeed in school and in the workforce

It’s just a shame that no one’s working on these issues

Guess we gotta vote Trump!

42

MFB 10.13.17 at 6:50 am

One fairly obvious point — in response to your original post, not the article itself — is surely that the general consensus which united conservatives and liberals, that neoliberal economics works, that war against weak countries can be waged on the cheap, and that the local working class will always eat whatever excrement is put on their plates, has started to break down.

The alternatives seem to be to change the consensus, or spread bullshit that the consensus is OK but just needs to be tweaked a bit. Trump is a right-wing bullshitter, Clinton is a liberal bullshitter; there’s nothing really new about that (much the same sort of thing happened with those who continued to support the consensus during the Great Depression).

43

nastywoman 10.13.17 at 6:52 am

AND I’m so… optimistic – or nearly… enthusiastic as wherever I went in the last weeks -London – Iceland – Montecito – the Manuela Restaurant in the LA Arts district – Atlanta -The Globe Theatre – Blenheim Palace – The Book of Mormon Musical – everywhere ALL people right away unite – when the issue of F…face von Clownstick or the ”Orange Menace” comes up and I never had a more wonderful flight from Atlanta to Stuttgart – when whole row of seats – with people from all over the world shared their… common feelings for ‘the F… Moron” in the most empathetic way – and there was even a young ”Catalan” dude – who agreed with another ”Spanish” man that nothing – NADA – not even what was happening in Barcelona was – or is as… “Ay la leche” as the ”Orange Menace” – and that might be the real ‘Political Theory of Trumpism’ to unite ”the people” all over the world in a new and wonderful -(and very humorous) way?

44

TM 10.13.17 at 7:25 am

Ever since Trump started campaigning, we have seen two prevailing tendencies (on the left, center left and also center right): underestimating his capability, and underestimating his dangerousness. Most debate on CT has been abysmal on both counts. Corey Robin has from the beginning been a proponent of trivializing the threat posed by Trump in the White House and it seems he has learned nothing, even after we have seen Nazi marches carried out openly in American cities with Trump’s support, leading to the murder of an antifascist in broad daylight. I won’t bore you with an enumeration of all the other appalling things Trump has done in his short time in office, y’all know them very well. Maybe this game of “how conservative is Trump” you insist on playing is just whistling in the dark, in any case it’s political and intellectual bankruptcy disguised as witty analysis.

45

Hidari 10.13.17 at 8:38 am

46

Layman 10.13.17 at 10:13 am

I think it’s quite hard to argue that Trump isn’t trying to govern as a conservative / reactionary. The Republicans argued that Obama was a radical, that his policies were socialism, that he was sympathetic to terrorists, that he surrendered to the demands of
Iran, North Korea, etc, that he governed as a dictator. Trump’s entire agenda seems to be informed by little more than reversing everything Obama. Attempts to reverse or destroy the ACA? Check. Repudiation of the Iran deal specifically and reasoned diplomacy generally? Check. Doubling down on endless war on terror and militarism? Check. Reversing attempts restrain police excesses? Check. Repudiation of diplomacy with North Korea? Check. Reversing Obama’s tax increases on the wealthy? Check. Is there anything he’s done, or tried to do, that can’t be viewed as a violent reaction to the Obama presidency?

47

Fake Dave 10.13.17 at 10:31 am

This excerpt seems to take a fairly dim view of the left and what it’s had to offer in recent years, and I can’t say I really disagree, but I think Corey is underestimating the extent to which a leftist resurgence is already underway. I still think 2008 was a turning point, not because Obama himself really represented a new view of American liberalism (frankly, I think a hypothetical Gore or Kerry administration would have been extremely similar to what we got from Obama), but because the energy people invested in Obama’s vision of America has never really dissipated. I think liberals are liberals in large part because they prefer futurism to nostalgia, so it shouldn’t have been surprising that the candidate of “hope and change” beat a candidate whose political persona is frozen in the mid-90s.

When Obama failed to embody the forward-looking ideals he campaigned on, some people checked out, but you can trace clear lines of mass disillusionment and radicalization from 2008 to Occupy and BLM to the Sanders campaign. The question was never if there was an appetite for real leftism in the American electorate (Clinton and Trump’s unconvincing plagiarism of Sanders talking points are telling here, I think), but whether the Democratic party, mired as it’s been in institutional rot and complacency, would ever tolerate true economic leftism when the “social liberalism” of identity and representation seemed to work well enough and was so much less threatening to the moneyed interests that financed the party’s rightward swing.

For decades, the left wing of the Democratic party has been cajoled into voting for “liberal” candidates that resemble nothing so much as the old aristocratic Whigs who used to discuss ways to help the less fortunate over claret and cigars down at the gentlemen’s club. We put up with it because we were told that was the only way to keep Republican robber barons from reinstating white male supremacy, criminalizing poverty, and declaring war on human decency. Trump was the embodiment of that venal reactionary bogeyman and Clinton was supposed to be the bullwark of reason and common sense — the “electable” candidate — that kept the far right at bay. George W. Bush was a decent-seeming guy whose dad was president. Losing to him was tolerable if frustrating, but Clinton losing feels like a broken promise, like the deal with the devil we made back in ’92 is now null and void and it’s time for something new. I don’t think there’s any going back to the neocon/neolib era and I think even a lot of moderate Republicans (who used to rely on friendly financiers like Romney to keep the rabid right on-leash) are beginning to realize it. After all, what’s the point of selling out if it doesn’t buy you anything?

48

Jerry Vinokurov 10.13.17 at 10:36 am

I’m super glad that CT provides a forum for people like kidneystones to come peddle their racist shit about how the problem is that the Great Society somehow destroyed African-American families. Surely it’s not the inadequate resources devoted to the task nor the persistence of centuries of de jure and de facto discrimination that is responsible! No, it’s the bad liberals who thought that poor people would be made better off if they had more money.

Trump supporters disgust me in general, but ks is revolting in all particulars. It’s amazing to me that he’s tolerated here.

49

MFB 10.13.17 at 10:42 am

I think on the whole Layman is right. Of course, those are more or less defining features of Republicanism. Since Trump got elected by appealing to a rather different set of policies to the ones characteristic of contemporary Republicanism (though obviously xenophobia and to some extent racial bigotry resonate there), one can speculate on whether he was lying to the electorate in order to get elected (again, not extraordinary) or whether he has been brought under the control of the Republican orthodoxy. Possibly it’s a bit of both.

In which case there is no such thing as “Trumpism”, and hence nothing to theorise. I suspect that this is the case for a lot of political actors. Although “Stalinism” was represented as a doctrine, it was really a series of ducks and dives performed by a political actor whose main aim was to hang on to power.

50

Jerry Vinokurov 10.13.17 at 10:44 am

In that, Trump actually does reflect a wider reality, but not conservatism.

Conservatism is the wider reality. Trump was made possible by decades of conservatives laying the groundwork to make him happen; everything of value that could be undermined, they undermined, and now the few of them who have some dim awareness of what they’ve wrought are outraged! sir! at the impropriety of it all. They’d much prefer the robotic ghoulishness of a Paul Ryan, grimly dismantling what little remains of our welfare state while speaking in a clipped monotone. Trump is just so gauche, but he’s taking them to the promised land. None of these utterly contemptible garbage people is against anything of Trump’s substance, or they wouldn’t be conservatives in the first place, and few things rankle me so much as the lavish attention heaped on so-called conservative “apostates” like David Frum. All of these people should be in sackcloth and ashes, begging for absolution in the streets, and until they are, I don’t want to hear from them.

51

kidneystones 10.13.17 at 11:33 am

@38 Actually, yours is a very poor restatement of my position.

First, nobody has to do anything, including vote for any specific candidate.

The range of options available to minorities has been constrained in large part not by Republicans as you assert, but by teachers’ unions and their partners in confusion – the Democratic party. You have the gall to demand that African-Americans wait for the human race to somehow eliminate racism before they can get a decent education?

Charter schools provide real alternatives to families unable to simply pick-up and move to a school district that offers your fantasy-land solution of ‘just move to a better school.’ The same dynamic – poverty prevents integration. African-American families that can afford to move to areas with good schools are at the upper end of the African-American income spectrum and therefore the least likely to have children in crisis. The poor, single-mothers, and those relying entirely on the state do not have that luxury.

And to hear you and Layman tell it, the best solution is just to leave well enough alone. In the magical reality of the Democratic party life will be wonderful. If only those evil Republicans would just stop oppressing minorities teen pregnancies would drop, fathers would stick around, young people would make better decisions and avoid jail. You sound as loopy as the religious cranks declaring that if we all just read the bible and went to church – problems solved!

In short, America would be a paradise if only Republicans did not exist. Giving cash to people to stay home is a bad idea, white people providing solutions for black problems is a bad idea. I don’t have a solution for African-American families, and the stats out of California, Atlanta, Detroit, and elsewhere suggest few pointy-heads do either. So, absent any fantastic master-plan solution, I’m all for allowing black families to make their own decisions about the education of their own children. Charter schools are the only realistic, workable option available to the poor. Yet, a few people on this thread would evidently deny the poor even that right and instead punish children in order to play ‘teachers’ unions good, Betsy Devos and charter schools bad.’

“We came, we saw, he died – ha-ha-ha” is not president, and African-Americans are no longer chained to the ineffective policies of the Democratic party and teachers unions. The neo-cons are out Bill Kristol, Max Boot and company are sworn enemies of the administration. Democratic party neocons like HRC can longer launch democracy-building projects in the middle east. Long may this continue.

And let the dogs bark.

52

Collin Street 10.13.17 at 12:15 pm

@b9n10nt 10.12.17 at 11:57 pm

A sociopath can be very good at reading and manipulating others. Having a theory of mind is quite distinct from having empathy, and having empathy is quite distinct from using it pervasively to guide personal/social/political life.

There’s a few simple… tricks, is the only word that works, I think, that you can do without needing any insight into how people work. Stuff like being silent and letting people run their mouth out, or being vague so that you can redefine what you meant post-facto and claiming success, or the gish-gallop technique or a few other rhetorical tricks that can be used to confuse/blindside people in various ways.

Power-sales techniques and what-have-you.

“Tricks”, because if they work they work by mechanical rule-following and if people know enough to recognise them they don’t work at all. You don’t need particular insight to use any of these, you just need an audience that doesn’t recognise them and isn’t told about them. A lot of the communication ones, in particular, rely on abuse of normal discourse structures/pragmatics, which means that they’re actually things that people with autism-spectrum conditions — that severely disrupt normal pragmatic structures — might stumble into by, literally, accident.

With a drive to succeed and a handful of these tricks you can — with luck, and we only hear about the successes: there’s an old technique for building a reputation that starts by sending out 1024 letters that A will happen, and another 1024 saying the exact opposite — build a small fortune. But if you run into more-experienced players who can recognise the tricks you’re using, then you’re not going to succeed against them, and it might go badly for you. Or they might give you a half-million in fuck-off money just to get you out of their way, and you’d probably think yourself awesome for getting it.

53

LFC 10.13.17 at 12:32 pm

Layman @39

I don’t find it especially useful to attribute or reduce widespread social/historical phenomena to individual peculiarities. One could get into an arcane debate about methodological individualism but I don’t want to do that.

My mention of slavery was prompted partly by the fact that I’ve been reading O. Patterson’s Freedom, though as yet I haven’t gotten v. far into it. But I suspect, though I could be wrong, that if you look at the standard works on slavery, the question of whether slaveholders were psychologically impaired is not all that much addressed.

I’m rather tired of reading C. Street’s comments that conservatives are “autistic.” I don’t find it a useful approach and btw I also think it’s insulting to people who actually are autistic or are on the autism spectrum. This has been pointed out to Street often before but he continues to comment in this vein.

Corey R. in The Reactionary Mind (the orig. ed.) writes that conservatism is rooted not in a “simple defense of one’s own place and privileges” (though personally I think that is an element of it) but in “a genuine conviction that a world thus emancipated [i.e., without hierarchy and entrenched privilege] will be ugly, brutish, base, and dull.” (p.16) Conservatism “is an idea-driven praxis” (17) that “begins from a position of principle — that some are fit, and thus ought, to rule others — and then recalibrates that principle in light of a democratic challenge from below.” (18)

So there’s a choice to be made here. One can maintain — as Collin Street does and as you (Layman) apparently do — that conservatism is a psychological impairment; or one can maintain — as Corey does and as I tend to do — that conservatism is a set of ideas — ideas that are wrong but that are not rooted in or reducible to mental illness or cognitive impairment.

Possibly if I decided to seriously read, say, Burke I would come to the conclusion that he was “autistic” (though I think it’s unlikely I would reach that conclusion). But since I haven’t read a lot of Burke I need to decide, provisionally, whether to go with the view that e.g. Reflections on the Revolution in France is a manifestation of “autism” or whether to go with the view that it’s a statement and elaboration of the author’s political convictions. Provisionally, I’m going with the latter.

54

Jerry Vinokurov 10.13.17 at 12:40 pm

You heard it here in the CT comments, folks. It’s the teachers’ unions who are the root of all evil, the ones who are keeping black students “chained”, the ones who invented redlining and enforced school segregation, the ones that blew up the already-inadequate safety net, the ones who pass laws to restrict access to reproductive rights and to continually underfund minority schools. The teachers’ unions did all that, sure, and I’m the queen of England.

It takes a real special kind of rotten intellect and soul to look at the devastation that the conservative movement has wreaked upon this country and to conclude that the blame then lies on the teachers. At least this nicely puts the lie to the bizarre idea that Trump is some sort of upender of the normal order which ks has repeatedly tried to sell people on before and after the election. Trump is the normal order! This is the natural and predictable culmination of the conservative project, and if that project exhibits weakness at the moment of its greatest triumph, as Corey has argued, that’s only because when you lay bare the naked class viciousness and the unadulterated racial animus that underlies it, even some of the people that were willing to sign on to it when it was just all fun and games begin having second thoughts.

55

Collin Street 10.13.17 at 1:21 pm

But since I haven’t read a lot of Burke I need to decide, provisionally, whether to go with the view that e.g. Reflections on the Revolution in France is a manifestation of “autism” or whether to go with the view that it’s a statement and elaboration of the author’s political convictions.

I can’t exactly see how the two descriptions you’ve provided are incompatible; can you explain why you feel you need to decide, why do you feel that they can’t both be true?

56

kidneystones 10.13.17 at 1:22 pm

@54 The teachers’ unions, for the most part, have persistently opposed charter schools. That is their position and that is the problem. As teachers’ unions tend to at least espouse left-wing positions, you’ll need to provide some clear evidence that confirms that is conservatives in general, and republicans in particular, who are making it more difficult for the poor to gain access to charter schools. As I detailed earlier, the illiteracy of African-American youth in California in 2016 doesn’t merit an inch of copy in a single major ‘left’ leaning publication, or organ of the Democratic party. African-American voters are expected to show up at the polls on command and as Van Jones and others pointed out, the DNC and Hillary did far too little that the concerns of the African-American community mattered as much to a woman who would travel anywhere and talk to anyone if the price is right. That’s the Democratic party today, and that’s the Democratic press. Are the Republicans every bit as appalling and hypocritical? Absolutely, and perhaps more so. Calling 60 million Trump voters racist and/or fascist might feel good, but as Mark Lilla sensibly observes, identity politics is Reagan’s trickle-down economics for liberals, self-delusion for folks out of answers. The ‘solutions’ for poor, black families in crisis on this thread illustrate clearly why so many black voters in Michigan and elsewhere stayed home. Folks without work, safe schools, and much hope want solutions – not ‘this study says’ or ‘but, Republicans.’
America’s cities are under Democratic control, for the most part, and the studies, the plans, and the programs, and the teachers’ unions haven’t got the job done, unless creating a cycle of failure and illiteracy qualifies as some form of progress, or success.

Donald Trump is president because the Democratic party abandoned the poorest, white and black, not because 60 million Americans are actually fascists.

If Democrats can’t provide solutions for ordinary people at the state, local and national level the party is going to continue to keep losing elections.

57

nastywoman 10.13.17 at 1:27 pm

@48
”Trump supporters disgust me in general, but ks is revolting in all particulars. It’s amazing to me that he’s tolerated here.”

BE-cause he is the only one who in a wonderful simplistic and very straightforward way tells the truth – like:

”In short, America would be a paradise if only Republicans did not exist.”!

58

Layman 10.13.17 at 2:43 pm

kidneystones: “Calling 60 million Trump voters racist and/or fascist might feel good, but as Mark Lilla sensibly observes, identity politics is Reagan’s trickle-down economics for liberals, self-delusion for folks out of answers.”

This is prefect. Lilla foolishly writes as if identity politics were invented in 2008, and kidneystones applauds. Why compare modern identity politics to Reagan’s trickle-down economics when you can instead compare them to Reagan’s own identity politics, you young buck?

59

kidneystones 10.13.17 at 2:47 pm

Hi Corey, Thanks for the opportunity to comment. This will be my last for a while. You’ve got a sharp eye. LFC offers some sensible remarks as do others.

@57 is a very illuminating comment and is, itself, very straightforward – a vision of a perfect America free of dissent. I’m very grateful.

@48 Thanks for the uplifting vision of hope.

ciao

60

John Quiggin 10.13.17 at 3:14 pm

“if one truly believes that 60 million believe we no longer need elections, why do we go to such lengths to conceal our ‘secret’ agenda.”

You don’t. In fact you (more precisely, a majority of Republicans and Republican leaners) say they would support postponing the 2020 elections to stop voter fraud if Trump proposed it.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/08/10/in-a-new-poll-half-of-republicans-say-they-would-support-postponing-the-2020-election-if-trump-proposed-it/?utm_term=.cafdfbb7b356

61

JRLRC 10.13.17 at 4:15 pm

“Both Left and Right concurred in the very shallow notion that National Socialism was merely a version of Conservatism”. Orwell in his review of “Mein Kampf”.

62

b9n10nt 10.13.17 at 4:20 pm

kidneystones: Your arguments are so poorly made!

Yes, desegregating schools (by class and race) is increasingly one liberal-left popular idea. I did not claim it was a sufficient or even a necessary condition for equality. I only offer it as an example that actual Black people overwhelmingly pursue solutions that do not include “destroy the Democratic Party establishment by voting for Trump” and “raise awareness about the [supposed] failure of the Great Society.” What do you make of the fact? No pause? No humility? It’s too gratifying being the White guy with Answers?

No, rather than listen and respond intelligently, you criticize school desegregation as the ONLY locus of liberal-left activism. That’s would be a particularly easy-to-spot non sequitor were you interested in contributing to reasoned debate. Rather, your passion for educating poor black folks doesn’t make it past your desire to misstate my argument and get a zinger in on the internet.

What do you call it when a college professor is self-satisfied with glaring non-sequitors and passionately simplistic denunciations? Privilege. The privilege of walking to 3rd base between innings and standing there like you’ve hit a triple.

But please, go on….What’s the next installment of hot-takes I read in Marty Peretz’s rag 30 years ago?

Or, rather, could you demonstrate some of the work you’ve done around understanding the charter school movement: What do you make of the scholarly findings around the Milwaukee “experiment”? What is your understanding of the argument against charter schools as a solution and your response? Use all that passion and intelligence to help us move forward, eh.

But also, listen. Listen to what the supposed victims have to say for themselves. In the spirit of democracy and respect for your equals, charitably listen.

63

Layman 10.13.17 at 4:30 pm

Collin Street: “I can’t exactly see how the two descriptions you’ve provided are incompatible; can you explain why you feel you need to decide, why do you feel that they can’t both be true?”

Seconding this. Of course conservative views are ‘convictions’ or ‘ideas’, but so are lots of things you’d agree are manifestations of aberration.

64

steven t johnson 10.13.17 at 4:30 pm

On the general notion of crazy, there are crazy people, and there are crazy ideas.
Racism is a crazy idea, but racism serves a social function/dysfunction in a contradictory society. Therefore it can be instrumentally rational for an individual to accede to the conventional ideology, crazy as it is, because the systemic consequences are not visited upon them personally.

Trump is a break because an owner who wants to break with small d democratic politics has weaseled in, thanks to the idiocy of the Founding Fathers. So far as continuity with other Republicans is concerned, there is an extremely tiny range of acceptable policies, period. Obama had a lot of continuity with Republicans, too.

65

Jerry Vinokurov 10.13.17 at 4:36 pm

Ah, there it is, the good shit, the barely-warmed-over Manhattan Institute talking points that the conservative lie machine has been pushing for ages. It’s the sort of completely insane projection that falls apart at the most cursory examination, to wit: the entire notion of destroying a public, universal service like secondary (and post-secondary, in many cases) education in order to hand the system over to unscrupulous profiteers is [extremely Zizek voice]PURE NEOLIBERALISM[/extremely Zizek voice]. It is exactly the kind of short-sighted maneuver that Democrats have been pulling for decades now, trying to get “moderate” Republicans in the suburbs to vote for them, and its only effect has been to undermine the concept of public education entirely. Some of the most vigorous advocates of charter schools and union-busting have been Democrats, for fuck’s sake! A nonexhaustive list: Joel Klein, Arne Duncan, Rahm Emmanuel, and these are just the first three I could think of off the top of my head; I guarantee that I could find you an list as long as your arm if I tried. Top Democratic donors such as those from Silicon Valley and Wall Street are gung-ho about charter schools and other similar scams like “online education.” In the meantime, the actual research shows that at best, charter schools are a wash in terms of performance and at worst they are basically a fraud perpetrated upon both taxpayers and students in order to shovel money to people like DeVos.

What we have, and what Trumpism is merely one symptom of, is a massive crisis in public governance. In large part, the people who are responsible for said governance brought it on themselves. On the right-wing side, a propaganda machine has existed since the 1950s to sell people various poisonous ideas (regulation is bad! the “free market” is good!) dressed up, in the best of times, in quasi-academic language, and in the worst of times as just plain racism. The retreat from public services that took place in the South once those services would have to be integrated is a great tell; wealthy Virginians literally closed the entire state’s public school system rather than have to attend school with black children. On the center-left, the entire New Democrat generation drank the idiot Kool-Aid that demanded we turn over anything and everything to market forces but! with a slightly more advanced degree of wokeness. Meanwhile, in Chicago, the CTU, under a predominantly black and Latino leadership, has been at the forefront (PDF) of fighting privatization and the attendant segregation that follows it, demanding resources from the austerity-mad Emmanuel administration so they can actually do their jobs. Said fight, I should add, taking place with the support of the predominantly African-American communities that are currently being brutalized by Rahm, so maybe if you care about black agency as much as you claim you do (hahahaha) you might take that into account.

The Democratic party has not been nearly as good to the African-American community as the latter’s loyalty to the former (or, really, as basic justice) would seem to require, but the failure has not been “too much Great Society programs” or “too many unionized teachers.” That’s tendentious, ahistorical horseshit. The real failure has been the Democratic willingness to cast its most solid coalition partner again and again into a racist market system in which they have to fight uphill battles every step of the way. That Democrats are still a preferable alternative to the open eliminationism of Trump supporters is not particularly to their credit, not when entire Democratic administrations have failed to protect African-Americans from predatory lending or housing and workplace discrimination or being killed by police officers or even do so much as keep them from being forced to drink lead-tainted water.

Race is one the primary axes of American politics, and our reluctance to fund basic public goods cannot be understood without acknowledging this basic fact. Lots of white people, but especially the petit bourgeoisie that constitutes the core of Republican voters (who are, shock of shocks, also the core of Trump voters), would rather eat dirt if it means that a black person somewhere will have to eat shit, and unfortunately for all of us, the idiotic electoral system we inherited from the slavers played to their advantage in this electoral cycle. Now Trump is going to decertify the Iran deal so go take your “hurrrr neocons out” nonsense and shove it up your ass, because all the same fucking lunatics who want to turn the Middle East into glass are still in charge everywhere and a literally demented person holds the nuclear codes because showing the libs whatfor is the only ideal that white middle America is even capable of processing anymore.

66

Jerry Vinokurov 10.13.17 at 5:22 pm

=”https://www.bzzfd.cm/jhnhdsn/trmps-bldst-mv-tdy-wsnt-dcrtfyng-th-rn-dl?tm_trm=.pb5YRWbz#.svmyK02Lz” rl=”nfllw”>https://www.bzzfd.cm/jhnhdsn/trmps-bldst-mv-tdy-wsnt-dcrtfyng-th-rn-dl?tm_trm=.pb5YRWbz#.svmyK02Lz

h ys, th ncns hv bn xplld nd r wndrfl nnntrvntnst prsdnt s dfntly nt pttng s n cllsn crs wth wr!

[] Y fckng dnc.

67

TM 10.13.17 at 6:29 pm

JRLRC 61 Thanks for some historical perspective. Reading this thread makes me give up hope for the American Republic. Your leader misses no opportunity to exhibit contempt for democracy, contempt for the rule of law, contempt for international treaty obligations, contempt for the UN world order, contempt for diplomacy, contempt for truth, contempt for science, a guy who in real time threatens to start a nuclear world war (remember CR wrote a whole post dismissing the idea that Trump was reckless), and you people explain him away as just another conservative? Have you really no sense of history? Frankly you must be out of your minds.

68

b9n10nt 10.13.17 at 6:40 pm

So much appreciation for that, Jerry and (earlier) Layman. I’m more than willing to play at high theory on this blog and use pseudonomytry to give myself license, but as a suburban white dude it’s perhaps a little much for me to call out White privelege. So…I appreciate hearing other voices.

My read of ks on this blog over the years is that he gets classism, but fetishizes the concerns of the white working class and has made zero attempts to educate himself and familiarize himself with the concerns & perspectives of Black Americans.

ks, I’ll grant you Earl Warren and raise you

When W. E. B. Du Bois claims that slavery was “singularly disastrous for modern civilization” or James Baldwin claims that whites “have brought humanity to the edge of oblivion: because they think they are white,” the instinct is to cry exaggeration. But there really is no other way to read the presidency of Donald Trump. The first white president in American history is also the most dangerous president—and he is made more dangerous still by the fact that those charged with analyzing him cannot name his essential nature, because they too are implicated in it.

69

Corey Robin 10.13.17 at 6:41 pm

TM at 67: “remember CR wrote a whole post dismissing the idea that Trump was reckless)…”

I think you mean this post:

http://crookedtimber.org/2016/07/21/check-your-amnesia-dude-on-the-vox-generation-of-punditry/

Where I challenge the idea that “the pundits and experts were keen to establish” about “the absolutely unprecedented nature of Trump’s irresponsibility.”

And I go on to cite some of the following:

“Barry Goldwater said the US should consider using tactical nukes in Vietnam, which prompted one of the most famous campaign commercials of all time….Goldwater wanted to hand the decision to launch nukes over to field commanders.”

And that Reagan claimed “the United States had ‘no deterrent whatsoever’ against Soviet medium-range missiles targeting Europe, even though it had submarines with 400 nuclear warheads patrolling the Mediterranean and the Northeast Atlantic, not to mention the thousands of other warheads that could easily be rained down on the Soviets in a retaliatory strike;”

And much else.

So no dismissal of the idea that Trump is reckless; just a dismissal of the idea that his recklessness is unprecedented.

So here are the rules: You’re a guest. You’re going to accurately characterize my arguments. If you can’t, you’ll go away.

Jerry at 66: You’re not going to call people names.

And everyone else: I’m not going to sit here and monitor this thread for every comment. If you can’t keep it civil, I’ll just shut it down.

70

b9n10nt 10.13.17 at 6:50 pm

71

Jerry Vinokurov 10.13.17 at 6:51 pm

Since the link was disemvoweled along with my admittedly petty insult, please allow me to relink it again, if for no other purpose than to demonstrate that there’s absolutely no daylight whatsoever between “mainstream” Republicans and Trump when it comes to the lust for war: https://www.buzzfeed.com/johnhudson/trumps-boldest-move-today-wasnt-decertifying-the-iran-deal?utm_term=.pb5YARWbz#.svmyK02Lz

72

Lee A. Arnold 10.13.17 at 7:00 pm

“We have seen that the function of entrepreneurs is to reform or revolutionize the pattern of production by exploiting an invention or, more generally, an untried technological possibility for producing a new commodity or producing an old one in a new way, by opening up a new source of supply of materials or a new outlet for products, by reorganizing an industry and so on… This social function is already losing importance and is bound to lose it at an accelerating rate in the future even if the economic process itself of which entrepreneurship was the prime mover went on unabated. …economic progress tends to become depersonalized and automatized. (p.132)

“Of old, roughly up to and including the Napoleonic Wars, generalship meant leadership and success meant the personal success of the man in command who earned corresponding “profits” in terms of social prestige… This is no longer so. Rationalized and specialized office work will eventually blot out personality, the calculable result, the “vision.” The leading man no longer has the opportunity to fling himself into the fray. He is becoming just another office worker—and one who is not always difficult to replace. …in the last analysis the same social process—undermines the role and, along with the role, the social position of the capitalist entrepreneur. His role, though less glamorous than that of medieval warlords, great or small, also is or was just another form of individual leadership acting by virtue of personal force and personal responsibility for success… (p.133)

“…contrasting the figure of the industrialist or merchant with that of the medieval lord. The latter’s “profession” not only qualified him admirably for the defense of his own class interest—he was not only able to fight for it physically—but it also cast a halo around him and made of him a ruler of men… Of the industrialist and merchant the opposite is true. There is surely no trace of any mystic glamour about him which is what counts in the ruling of men. The stock exchange is a poor substitute for the Holy Grail. We have seen that the industrialist and merchant, as far as they are entrepreneurs, also fill a function of leadership. But economic leadership of this type does not readily expand, like the medieval lord’s military leadership, into the leadership of nations. On the contrary, the ledger and the cost calculation absorb and confine… He can only use rationalist and unheroic means to defend his position or to bend a nation to his will. He can impress by what people may expect from his economic performance, he can argue his case, he can promise to pay out money or threaten to withhold it, he can hire the treacherous services of a condottiere or politician or journalist. But that is all and all of it is greatly overrated as to its political value… the bourgeois class is ill equipped to face the problems, both domestic and international, that have normally to be faced by a country of any importance. (pp.137-8)

“…capitalist policies wrought destruction much beyond what was unavoidable. They attacked the artisan in reservations in which he could have survived for an indefinite time. They forced upon the peasant all the blessings of early liberalism—the free and unsheltered holding and all the individualist rope he needed in order to hang himself… In breaking down the pre-capitalist framework of society, capitalism thus broke not only barriers that impeded its progress but also flying buttresses that prevented its collapse. That process, impressive in its relentless necessity, was not merely a matter of removing institutional deadwood, but of removing partners of the capitalist stratum, symbiosis with whom was an essential element of the capitalist schema. Having discovered this fact which so many slogans obscure, we might well wonder whether it is quite correct to look upon capitalism as a social form sui generis or, in fact, as anything else but the last stage of the decomposition of what we have called feudalism.” (p.139)

Schumpeter, from Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, ch. 7

73

Howard Frant 10.13.17 at 7:29 pm

Corey Robin @13

Yes, I was irritated, but my goodness, isn’t that a little over-sensitive? I didn’t call you names, and I did say “please.” As for my being wrong, many dictionaries nowadays follow the rule, which I support in principle, of describing current usage even if it’s at variance with what the word has traditionally meant, i.e., even if it’s “wrong”. So by definition you can’t appeal to them as an authority. Personally, I’ve decided to go with the flow on “beg the question,” which never made much sense in its traditional meaning, but not on “flaunt” and “flout,” which describe nearly opposite things.

I am relieved to see, from your comments @69, that I’m not the only one who fails to meet your high standards of civility. If people fail to accuratelycharacterize your arguments, couldn’t it be because they have failed to understand them? Still their fault, of course, but not one they could correct unaided.

74

novakant 10.13.17 at 7:56 pm

Jerry’s link at @71 is very important:

nobody seems to notice that Trump has just designated the Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization – this is completely insane and incredibly dangerous.

75

Ben 10.13.17 at 8:05 pm

The terrorist designation linked by Jerry Vinokurov really is a big deal that’ll take awhile to play out along multiple economic, military and diplomatic fronts

https://www.law360.com/articles/908829/how-terror-group-label-for-irgc-could-impact-iran-deal

76

Lee A. Arnold 10.13.17 at 8:13 pm

Trump took two steps today that the right might come to hate. First, his moves on the ACA put all eyes on the GOP for the costs of health care. It is no longer Obamacare, it is Trumpcare. Or TrumpNoCare. Second, his moves on Iran look bad for U.S. military policy, not just diplomacy.

77

steven t johnson 10.13.17 at 8:50 pm

Jerry Vinokurov@71 writes “there’s absolutely no daylight whatsoever between ‘mainstream’ Republicans and Trump when it comes to the lust for war…”

This is overly optimistic in a way, yet overly pessimistic in another. For the first, there’s no daylight between Trump and “mainstream” Democrats when it comes to a lust for war.

For the second? It’s clear both parties would support Trump if he ordered a decapitation strike on North Korea, and it’s likely both parties would support Trump if it failed and turned into an all-out conflagration, no matter the fallout. But, the last president apt to such unilateral war-making was Richard Nixon, and he was impeached for also discarding the two-party deal (a no no on par with a Mexican President taking a second term.) Before the fact, however, there are straws in the wind about impeachment, from the Washington Post op-ed, columnists Rubin and Waldman, and “rumors” reported in Vanity Fair. Not a bright prospect, to be sure, no daylight at all?

The thing is, Trump is an owner who’s there because he’s finished with that political crap. At this point, we probably have to hope that some general has the spine to tell Trump no, the US army really is not a very good military force for anything that involves taking casualties, which means it is fairly useless for actually conquering anything, as opposed to laying waste in endless campaigns. But the spirit of West Point, the school of treason that produced many, many, many more fighters against America than the CPUSA ever did, still rules. I’m not very hopeful.

I recall a story that Nixon boasted that after he was finished, they’d never make things like they were again. That’s the political theory of Trumpism. Today, when people will seriously argue that Nixon was a liberal president, there is no ruling class appetite for democracy, old style or bourgeois or what have you.

b9n10nt @68 links to Ta-Nehisi Coates. Coates knows perfectly well that if the black voters had turned out in larger numbers, Clinton would have won the Electoral College as well. People trying to normalize Trump are not alone, Every single black voter who didn’t see any difference between Clinton and Trump agrees. Clinton tried to make the campaign about a symbolic endorsement of anti-racism and anti-sexism, as opposed to the deplorables. Millions of black voters proved they were having none of it. They stayed home.

78

Stephen 10.13.17 at 9:04 pm

OP: “conservatives have breached norms, flouted decorum, assailed elites, and shattered orthodoxy throughout the ages.” But is that not also exactly what anti-conservatives – progressives, revolutionaries – have done? Or is it the wrong sort of breaching, flouting, assailing, shattering when conservatives, not your friends, do it; but SOP when your friends do it?

Or are you maintaining that respectable norm-adhering, decorum-maintaining, elite-sustaining, deeply orthodox left-wingers have always been the vast majority of anti-conservatives?

On further thought: elite-sustaining, yes, maybe, if you regard the nomenklatura as elite. Orthodox also, for their own kind of orthodoxy.

None of this is intended to imply support for the remarkable Trump.

79

J-D 10.13.17 at 9:04 pm

80

b9n10nt 10.13.17 at 10:33 pm

stephen t johnson @77

I wouldn’t read low black turnout as “normalizing” Trump. I would read it as a more advanced case of a general disconnection from politics specifically and from communal concerns generally, along with it being the result of systemic disenfranchisement and disempowerment in. Apparently many of us have to be “inspired” (entertained?) into voting.

81

M Caswell 10.13.17 at 11:12 pm

“Personally, I’ve decided to go with the flow on “beg the question,” which never made much sense in its traditional meaning”

Oh, for shame!

82

Jake Gibson 10.14.17 at 12:40 am

Kidneystones provides no support for the claim that charter schools are any real solution. He also makes the ludicrous claim that the poorest somehow turned the election to Trump. Data indicates that the poorest vote Democratic when they do vote.

Surely no one here needs a history of the politicization of the religious right.
Primary factor segregation, secondary factors: school prayer, abortion (it began as something to rile up the troop, but took on a life if its own) LGBT rights ate just the latest
motivator.
DeVos is at the heart of the continuation of the first two.
Undermining teachers unions and profiteering from charter schools id
just a bonus.

83

LFC 10.14.17 at 2:27 am

Stephen @78

A cursory skim of the OP should have been enough to let you realize that CR in that sentence is not attaching any negative judgment to the norm-assailing, decorum-flouting, etc. It’s not a judgment but rather a description, offered in the context of an argument about Trump in relation to conservatism.

Of course progressives and leftists have also breached norms and flouted decorum, but that’s a complete non-sequitur. Has nothing to do w that sentence in the OP.

84

LFC 10.14.17 at 3:25 am

Collin Street @55

Yes, I suppose that a work of political thought might also in certain cases be a manifestation of a psychological abnormality. A few such works might be read usefully through that lens, but probably not most.

After several tries just now (i.e., typing stuff and deleting it), I’ve come to the conclusion that for the time being I probably can’t state my position any more persuasively than I already have. There is a longer discussion to be had about these particular questions, but I don’t think this thread is the place for it. So I’ll leave it at that.

85

LFC 10.14.17 at 3:27 am

p.s. I also had a brief reply to Stephen @78 but it seems to have been removed from the moderation queue. Never mind.

86

phenomenal cat 10.14.17 at 3:51 am

“I wouldn’t read low black turnout as “normalizing” Trump. I would read it as a more advanced case of a general disconnection from politics specifically and from communal concerns generally, along with it being the result of systemic disenfranchisement and disempowerment in. Apparently many of us have to be “inspired” (entertained?) into voting.” @80

This reading doesn’t contradict steven johnson’s @77. If anything, it reinforces his point and gives it a bit of explanatory depth. In fact, your reading can be plausibly applied to vast swathes of the American public. The dynamics that make this so are precisely what has normalized a creature like Trump tweet-shitting his way across the Rose Garden.

Coates is a good writer, but that’s about it. His analyses have no force and don’t amount to anything that could be construed as effective. It’s just distant seminar-room inflected high priest moralizing.

87

b9n10nt 10.14.17 at 5:12 am

Thanks phenomenal cat. I probably could have read stephen’s point less defensively.

Could you elaborate (or point towards literature that elaborates) your point about Coates?

88

nastywoman 10.14.17 at 7:08 am

and how… ”fascinating”? – Finally read the:
”Check Your Amnesia, Dude: On the Vox Generation of Punditry (Updated)” and the
WOW!! – 881 comments!
And there were this two comments –

Nr.1 by Mr.Robin
”Or put it this way: why the need to feel that this villain is the worst villain ever? Why not, shit, he’s pretty terrible, he can’t get elected.”

and Nr.2 by a commenter called ”Faustusnotes”:
”This thread is ridiculous. What is wrong with the American left that you can look on trump and see anything except a disaster? Yes, he is part of a trend, the result of thirty years of republican insanity, but he is clearly worse than anyone who came before him. Yes, bush invaded Iraq but what do you think trump will do if some terrorist blows up trump tower with a plane? Are you people completely stupid?!”

And when I was sitting in this plane flying from Atlanta to Stuttgart just a while ago that actually was the major question – coming from all around me – if they -(especially NOT Americans on the Left) have completely ”lost they mind” and there was an agreement -(which by the way seems to be VERY widely shared in the world?) that ”we have a ‘sitwation’ here and ”a F… face” – who is at the same time ”the worst villain ever” AND – the ultimate idiotic F… Moron.

And about ”foreign policy” – we all hope that he (ultimately) will unite the world -(against him) but NOT against ”America”.

89

novakant 10.14.17 at 7:15 am

The scary thing is that Clinton would have acted very similarly towards Iran and NK, in fact all the evidence suggests she might have been even more bellicose. So while the aspects of Trump that are genuinely unprecedented and scary as hell need to be pointed out and not waved away, the really scary thing is that US voters had the choice between two FP hawks who both display psychopathic tendencies – and the fact that Clinton voters were willing to not only defend her on this ferociously but turn it into an asset against the evil Republicans. That’s the real normalization.

90

Hidari 10.14.17 at 10:31 am

If anyone asks me (what’s that? No one did? Oh well, it’s a (relatively) free country)) Trump’s major innovations, apart from his desire to control the courts (which Corey has written about passim) is the more or less unprecedented freedom he has given the military to, essentially, do what they want.

‘Perhaps no president in recent memory has so empowered the military—and disempowered himself—as Donald Trump. Whereas Barack Obama famously “signed off” on nearly every drone target, Trump has taken a deliberately hands-off approach. While he claimed on the campaign trail to “know more” than U.S. generals, since taking office the commander in chief has mostly relinquished responsibility for matters of war, preferring to shout suggestions from the sideline on Twitter. He has given the U.S. military the authority to set its own troop levels in Afghanistan and the Pentagon the flexibility to set troop levels in Iraq and Syria, although he has reportedly tired of this position of late, blaming his secretary of defense for “losing” in Afghanistan. The result has been a sometimes weaker-than-usual chain of command: when Trump announced on Twitter that transgender people would be barred from serving in “any capacity” in the United States military, with no clarification from the White House, the Defense Department effectively chose to ignore the order, pending more information.’

Needless to say, the liberals have been more or less openly in favour of this.* They haven’t (on the whole) paused to reflect that Trump, awful though he is, has at least some form of democratic legitimacy whereas The Generals have none, and that a democratically elected President giving the military what amounts to de jure (as opposed to de facto, which was always the case) control over American foreign policy is an extraordinary innovation, and represents a serious weakening of the United States’ democratic traditions, such as they are.

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/08/donald-trump-military-white-supremacism-response

* cf for example this doozy: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/donald-trump-afghanistan-speech-military-troops-taliban-isis-president-military-coup-a7906741.html

91

nastywoman 10.14.17 at 10:38 am

@88
”…Clinton…”

Who is this ”Clinton” person and why is somebody here writing about somebody called ”Clinton”?

I have evidence AND it is A FACT that this post IS about a F… Moron called ”Trump”?

92

nastywoman 10.14.17 at 10:48 am

Oh wait?

Somebody (”American”) just told me – that some of our fellow Americans –
(NOT only on the Left) – are now really ashamed that they always were bringing up this ”Clinton” person – instead of TOTALLY and ABSOLUTELY focusing on NOT having a F… Moron erected?

93

John Quiggin 10.14.17 at 11:17 am

I had a go at “begging the question” nearly a decade ago.

http://johnquiggin.com/2008/11/23/print-pixels-and-prescriptivism/

I think it’s best avoided altogether. If you want it for the “wrong” meaning, just say “raise the question” and avoid being thought ignorant. If you want it for the traditional meaning, use “circular argument” or “assuming the conclusion”. If that isn’t precise enough (which probably means you are talking to people with a training in logic), go all the way to petition principii.

94

rogergathmann 10.14.17 at 12:43 pm

I don’t believe that conservatives or Trumpkins suffer, for the most part, from some empathy disorder. But I do think that there is a difference in the way distance is interpreted. There’s a famous essay by Carlos Ginzburg, Killing a Chinese Mandarin: The Moral Implications of Distance, in which he explores the background to a famous scene in Pere Goriot – the one in which Vautrin proposes a sort of colonialist koan to Rastignac. http://elplandehiram.org/documentos/JoustingNYC/Mandarin_Distance.pdf Ginzburg In brief form, the question Vautrin poses is: if you could gain a fortune just by wishing the death (a wish that would be effective) of a Chinese mandarin half way around the world, would you do it? The point is that distance – and the way we make distances, geographically, ethnically, economically, sexually, etc. – has a global effect on our moral sentiments. I would say that the distance making in the Trumpian era of conservatism is going back to an earlier form of it, at least in the U.S., which last became this virulent after WWI. Interestingly, the symbol that Trump wrapped his campaign around is the “wall”, this mythical distance fixer that would forever separate white “authentic” America from Mexico (the brown mixed America, I guess).
It isn’t as if liberal culture doesn’t deal in distance as well. When HRC (and I voted for her, in spite of this) ran as a vaguely feminist politician, she never spoke at all about why, then, she would have ended her days in the state department signing off on appallingly large arm sales to the Saudis. Imagine a politician in the 80s running as a civil rights candidate and at the same time offering major support for the Apartheid South African state. But I think this was another case of distance – both geographical and cultural – that simply excluded Saudi women from the moral consideration that one would give American women.
I’m not sure anybody is a master of the moral distances we exist among. I’m not. So I am not saying I understand how to counter distance effects. I’m just saying that they have to be read into the narrative of our political ideologies in order to understand them.

95

Layman 10.14.17 at 1:34 pm

novakant: “The scary thing is that Clinton would have acted very similarly towards Iran and NK, in fact all the evidence suggests she might have been even more bellicose.”

The scary thing is that nothing, and I mean nothing, will dissuade you from this line of rhetoric. It’s a great scam; no matter what bad things Trump does, you need only claim that Clinton would have done the same or probably done even worse. Because the whole thing is basically a fantasy, nothing will disprove it.

96

Layman 10.14.17 at 1:39 pm

I mean, anyone who thinks that a President Hillary Clinton, presented with the arguments of her entire cabinet, the intelligence community, and the Joint Chiefs to the effect that Iran was complying with the agreement; and told the same thing by every other signatory to the agreement; would have declined to certify compliance and instead invited Congress to blow up the agreement, is just talking nonsense.

97

bruce wilder 10.14.17 at 2:36 pm

JQ @60, J-D @ 79

I wonder if that qualifies as push-polling?

Is asking the question propaganda?

This is a legitimacy crisis. It is not as if Clinton partisans did not call Trump’s electoral legitimacy into question. Half the country think Russian “meddling” determined the result, when it is not clear any “meddling” happened.

nastywoman

Yes, Americans have lost their collective mind, politically.

I know several elderly people (not much more elderly than me, truth to tell) who consume anti-Trump screeds from Seth Meyers or Rachel Maddow on a daily basis. It is entertainment I suppose, but it does not inform them or improve their critical thinking skills. One, a transplanted Englishman, described Maddow to me the other day as “erudite”.

The relentless flood tide of propaganda in American politics makes it exceedingly hard to talk with any American realistically about what is going on, because so much of what is going is exists not as objective and verified facts, but as shared, tendentious narratives. The actual Trump seems to me to be a bit of a personal mess and an authoritarian in the same mode as the blowhards who hang out at the barbershop; the Trump constructed by, say, Maddow’s televised narratives is something else, something more imagined than real. The imagined Trump has to be bigger, to be fitted with cheap hyperbole.

An essential element of the propaganda narrative is the “distance” to the other. The “base of Trump supporters” is a prop. Wondering what “they” could be thinking but not waiting for an answer before launching scorn and ridicule on the way to slander is a method.

98

Layman 10.14.17 at 2:48 pm

bruce wilder: “The actual Trump seems to me to be a bit of a personal mess and an authoritarian in the same mode as the blowhards who hang out at the barbershop; the Trump constructed by, say, Maddow’s televised narratives is something else, something more imagined than real.”

Why not illustrate this point with some examples? Which Trump narrative is the imagined one, and how is it different than the real one?

99

novakant 10.14.17 at 3:24 pm

No Layman, there is plenty of irrefutable evidence that Clinton is a militarist who strongly believes in force and the threat of force, especially when it comes to the ME – and this plays just fine with the Democratic party establishment, actually it’s a necessity considering the donor base. Clinton’s stance towards Iran and the nuclear deal is a matter of record. Next time don’t nominate a warmonger who voted for the Iraq war if you want to prevent someone like Trump – and hey, maybe young people will trust you again.

100

Layman 10.14.17 at 4:16 pm

novakant: “…that Clinton is a militarist who strongly believes in force and the threat of force…”

See what I mean? You’re like a broken record.

“Clinton’s stance towards Iran and the nuclear deal is a matter of record.”

Indeed, it is.

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/10/us/politics/hillary-clinton-backs-iran-nuclear-deal.html

I mean, there are literally dozens of media stories quoting Clinton endorsing the deal. They even accused her of trying to take credit for it.

101

novakant 10.14.17 at 4:37 pm

So Layman, you believe Clinton is not a militarist, not a hawk who strongly believes in force?

If I’m repeating myself I apologise, but I believe my statement is objectively correct and there are plenty of articles in such crazy lefty rags as the NyTimes, New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly or FP Magazine to prove it.

As for Iran and the nuclear deal in particular, maybe you should read your own link for starters and then we can get into the nitty gritty of Clinton’s maneuvering over the past decade.

102

bruce wilder 10.14.17 at 5:50 pm

There is no “real” Trump narrative; narratives are imagined stories, constructed according to principles of dramatic art to create meaning and morality. With effort, it is possible to anchor a narrative to facts, and to do so by methods that limit violence to the objectivity of facts. Whether a well-anchored narrative is persuasive may be important to such enterprises as the operation of law or even the progress of science.

In politics, the absence of the restraints imposed by institutions of law or science (which often fail their purposes even in those domains) invite the practice of dark arts of propaganda and mass manipulation. Our famously free press (spoken sarcastically) is thought to provide a check; fact-check columns proliferate at times, but mostly prove how weak an instrument of the public interest, a Media run by massive corporations and financially dependent on corporate business advertising is.

A common practice now is to lead with counterfactuals: narratives in which the place of facts is taken by theory and theory’s constructions. “Because the whole thing is basically a fantasy, nothing will disprove it.”

Last week’s New Yorker has a profile of Rachel Maddow.
https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/10/09/rachel-maddow-trumps-tv-nemesis
Janet Malcolm is full of praise for Maddow. For what she identifies, correctly, as entertainment. She does not comment on whether political comment as entertainment makes for a healthy politics. I think not.

My political theory of Trumpism is that this is what conservative politics unchecked, unopposed and not responsible to any mass constituency produces. Trump says anything. But, it has been twenty years since anyone in politics has been held to account for anything said, except for “gotcha” moments of mostly fake outrage. Not that we would have a gotcha moment for Bush’s war crimes. But that is my point. Holding Clinton up as a standard of normalcy in politics runs into exactly this same problem: she talks in the political code words, takes no responsibility for policy consequences and shows every sign of greed and irresponsibility, but the counterfactual of her normalcy is still set forward, with no awareness that it is a groundless narrative. This is not a point about Clinton or Trump, but it is a point about a political process that produces a lot of stupid and Trump is a bonus.

103

LFC 10.14.17 at 6:19 pm

b. wilder @97
it is not clear any “meddling” happened

It’s abundantly clear that meddling happened, though whether it influenced the result is a different question.

104

Stephen 10.14.17 at 7:10 pm

LFC@83: what the OP wrote was “In other words, conservatives have breached norms, flouted decorum, assailed elites, and shattered orthodoxy throughout the ages. Still, Trump does represent something new”. If that had been accompanied by a statement to the effect that “of course, anti-conservatives have very often done exactly the same throughout the ages” followed by ” so we can’t complain when conservatives also do it, if we were right to do so so are they”, then my reaction would have been very different. It wasn’t, was it?

That Trump is doing something new, I agree. Something I don’t like at all. Do I have to stress that?

As for CR’s original reference to “the weaponization of racism and nativism under Trump”, well, I’m not happy about that either. Weaponization, in a strict sense, refers to converting civilian technology, like nuclear power, into weapons including nstruments of mass destruction. With regard to Trump’s policies, is there a term that goes beyond hyper-hyperbole?

In a looser sense, it means inciting people to take up and use lethal weapons in pursuit of a cause. I have had the misfortune to see that happen. Is Trump doing it?

105

alfredlordbleep 10.14.17 at 8:38 pm

The recrudescent discussion of deploying the 25th amendment to depose Chump teases some. If this isn’t too coarse before a meal: an article up on NYmag concludes that in a madman emergency the *real* hope is that underlings disobey.

Much as Hitler’s general refused to burn Paris. Presumably.

106

J-D 10.14.17 at 9:16 pm

Stephen
The original context for mentioning breaching of norms, shattering of orthodoxy, and so on, was an analysis something like the following.

Some people (or so it is being alleged) say that Trump is different from past conservatives in that he engages in this kind of behaviour. This might be a valid point if past conservatives had not engaged in that kind of behaviour. But past conservatives did engage in that kind of behaviour. So Trump is like other conservatives in that respect, although he may differ from them in others.

Structurally, it’s like this:

‘A is unlike Bs, because A is X.’
‘No, Bs are also X, so that does not make A unlike Bs.’

In the context of that analysis and that discussion, it is irrelevant whether Cs are also X, since no comparison with Cs is being implied.
If the original point had been to use description X to suggest a negative evalution of A and other Bs, it might have been relevant to object that description X also applies to Cs. But that wasn’t the original point. More specifically, if the original point had been that the behaviour of Trump and other conservatives justified a negative evaluation of them, then it might have been relevant to object with a reference to the similar behaviour of their political opponents. But that was not the original point. The original reference to breaching of norms, shattering of orthodoxy, and so on, was not for evaluative purposes (no suggestion was made that shattering orthodoxy is a bad thing, or that it is a good thing), but to discuss whether it was a point of similarity or a point of difference between Trump and other conservatives. Reference to the behaviour of their political opponents is irrelevant in that context. I think I’m starting to repeat myself.

107

nastywoman 10.14.17 at 10:08 pm

@102
”Trump says anything”.

You might be up to something – to the real ”Political Theory of Trumpism” – while everybody else -(including our host) – might have a far too limited idea about ”the Political Theory of Trumpism”?

It HAS to be ”Anything” or better said any singly stupid, sick and silly idea in the head of a F… Moron. And there is so much sufficient proof for that – that I’m really wondering why of all people ”academics” didn’t come out with this conclusion in the first place?

Take me for example – I’m a pretty stupid person who hardly can write or read and I right away had Trump down to his last liddle… ”anything”.

It’s like when I last week went to this Party and there was this really old and ugly dude -(just like F…face von Clownstick or Weinstein) – and he looked at me in this way that he would say or do ”anything” just to get into my pants – and that’s Trumps ”Political Policy”
and anything else is just finding a way to get into somebody elses pants…

108

nastywoman 10.14.17 at 10:30 pm

AND isn’t it awesome on how much better ”Hollywood” deals with ”the Political Theory of Trumpism”?

”The academy threw such a ”Political Theory” -(okay – ”finally”) OUT!
These ”artists” don’t want to have ”anything” to do anymore with such ”anything” while in ”the world of entertainment” – Washington still ”Anything” is doing ”anything” IT wants.

So if you go on this ”book trip” could you do all of US the favor and tell the people that your wasn’t written with the blood which came out of your eyes…
or somewhere else?
It was written with the mind of ”a man of academia” whose fault it isn’t – that he can’t identify or let’s better say the ”Real Political Theory of Trumpism” because only women can smell the ”rancid anything of dirty old F…faces” a mile away – If you know what I mean.

And as you mentioned ”If you can’t keep it civil”… perhaps we shouldn’t have – from the beginning with these ”Anything-Dudes”? and we just should have kicked them in the… you know what?

109

steven t johnson 10.14.17 at 11:00 pm

Trump apologetics cross the finish line when they turn into attacks on Clinton.

Jacobinrag.com has a straw in the wind, aiming for the arrest of Bill Clinton.

110

J-D 10.15.17 at 12:07 am

bruce wilder

JQ @60, J-D @ 79

I wonder if that qualifies as push-polling?

Is asking the question propaganda?

I’m not sure how much you read of the articles I linked to (personally I skimmed a bit). The first three seemed to be straight descriptive repetitions. The fourth suggested some good reasons to doubt the poll’s findings, or at least to doubt the straightforward on-the-face interpretation (it does tend to confirm, the author argues, that many Trump supporters are very deeply committed, but that’s not the same thing). The fifth argued that it was a bad thing that the poll was conducted and a bad thing that it was reported: if there was a serious suggestion that the 2020 election be postponed, the author contends, it would be important to find out what people thought about that, but since there is no such serious suggestion, the author contends, it’s mischievous to introduce the speculation into general discussion as if it was a serious suggestion. I didn’t notice the words ‘push-polling’ or ‘propaganda’, but they did suggest it was clickbait (they didn’t use the word ‘clickbait’, but they referred directly to the encouragement to click). Useful correctives to the original report, I thought, worth considering even by those who don’t fully accept the arguments. Personally, my answer to you is ‘Yes, after reading the GQ article I do feel this was push-polling, or at least something very like it, although I suppose I might revise that conclusion given more information about the investigators’ intentions.’

On another point, I’m a little confused about the relationship between the comment ‘The actual Trump seems to me to be a bit of a personal mess and an authoritarian in the same mode as the blowhards who hang out at the barbershop; the Trump constructed by, say, Maddow’s televised narratives is something else, something more imagined than real’ and the comment ‘There is no “real” Trump narrative; narratives are imagined stories, constructed according to principles of dramatic art to create meaning and morality’. What does it mean to suggest that there is an actual Trump, about whom factual assertions can be made, and that these can be contrasted with narratives which are more imagined than real, but also that there is no real Trump narrative? Is a distinction being made between ‘actual’ and ‘real’? If the statement ‘The actual Trump seems to be a bit of a personal mess and an authoritarian in the same mode as the blowhards who hang out at the barbershop’ does not count as a real Trump narrative, why not?

111

bruce wilder 10.15.17 at 2:49 am

J-D @ 110

I was not intending to distinguish actual from real, if that was a question. I was intending to distinguish objectively factual statements or descriptive observation from arguments taking the form of narratives, particularly projective or counterfactual narratives that seem distant from or untethered in the main from verifiable fact.

I think it is possible to make value judgments closely related to factual observation, without projecting a narrative into the future or into an alternate reality.

Whether my statements characterizing Trump constitute a narrative or rely on narrative to justify value judgments is a fine point I do not see the point in arguing at this time. I would not defend my observations and judgment as constituting the one “true story”.

112

Layman 10.15.17 at 4:04 am

novakant: “So Layman, you believe Clinton is not a militarist, not a hawk who strongly believes in force?”

So novakant, have you abandoned this claim?
“The scary thing is that Clinton would have acted very similarly towards Iran and NK, in fact all the evidence suggests she might have been even more bellicose.”

113

kidneystones 10.15.17 at 6:17 am

@97 This is very good. For those interested in how we’re learning less about each other and the world we share, here’s a timely piece by informed sources from the Atlantic: https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2017/10/what-facebook-did/542502/

“Eli Pariser’s The Filter Bubble… became the most widely cited distillation of the effects Facebook and other internet platforms could have on public discourse. Pariser began the book research when he noticed conservative people, whom he’d befriended on the platform despite his left-leaning politics, had disappeared from his News Feed. “I was still clicking my progressive friends’ links more than my conservative friends’— and links to the latest Lady Gaga videos more than either,” he wrote. ‘So no conservative links for me.’
Through the book, he traces the many potential problems that the ‘personalization’ of media might bring. Most germane to this discussion, he raised the point that if every one of the billion News Feeds is different, how can anyone understand what other people are seeing and responding to? ‘The most serious political problem posed by filter bubbles is that they make it increasingly difficult to have a public argument.’…”

I think everyone here agrees we have problems to address. If the solutions I supported most of my life were working in places such as California, I wouldn’t feel the need for radical change. Had the Democratic candidate not supported the Iraq war, alongside Biden, McCain et al, and then ‘learned’ her lesson by violent regime-change in Libya (described by Obama as a ‘shit-show’), and then embarked upon program of cash collection from the powerful and secrecy towards her coronation, I might have wavered back towards the Dems. Bernie would have drawn me like a magnet. But given the choice between the devil I know and the one I don’t I choose the latter. Trump may yet screw things up and people are free to disagree about his skills and solutions.

It’s pretty easy today to forget that both Bill and Hillary attended Trump’s (most recent) wedding. Their daughter Chelsea is/was a good friend of Ivanka Trump (a convert to Judaism) and her husband. The criticism of bedrock conservatives repeatedly loudly and publicly even today, is that Trump is more of a Democrat than a conservative.

I stand by my belief that Trump built a public persona as a race-baiting, loudmouth buffoon that carried him straight into the WH despite a fervent, well-funded bi-partisan effort to unseat him from the time he declared up right to the present. Studying the buffoon tells us practically nothing about the individual. He’s ordinary, capable, ambitious, avaricious, and mired in the world of the senses rather than the mind. There are worse traits and places to be.

114

kidneystones 10.15.17 at 6:31 am

Just re-read the longish article linked above. Corey, it’s a must read, especially for those in your field and for anyone interested in how information is being manufactured, filtered, distributed, and internalized.

Hint: we don’t know whattf others are reading and thinking, and won’t be finding out anytime soon.

115

J-D 10.15.17 at 7:04 am

bruce wilder
It seems to me, then, that the question Layman was trying to ask you in a recent comment could be re-expressed approximately as follows:
‘Can you explain how the construction of Trump construct in an (illustrative example) imagined narrative differs from an objective description of Trump?’

Even if that’s not in fact a question that Layman was interested in, I would still be interested in seeing your response to it.

116

Collin Street 10.15.17 at 7:13 am

One of the things I’ve noticed/worked out is that… a person who asks questions rather than making statements… well, they have nothing to say, do they? I mean, obviously: asking a question doesn’t actually act to increase the availability of knowledge, only statements do that.

Asking questions helps you, but not anybody else, really. A certain degree of selfishness is needed to make full use of what’s around you… but if _all_ you’re doing is asking questions there’s no payoff to others in going to the effort of answering them. If the only reward for answering a question is getting asked another question…

117

novakant 10.15.17 at 7:29 am

No Layman, why should I ? There’s no logic to your “question” at all. Clinton being a militarist, a hawk who strongly believes in the use of force is the basis for my hypothesis. But my more important point is that the general consensus in the US has shifted so much towards an imperialist and bellicose foreign policy that Clinton could be passed of as a reasonable, level-headed and trusted old hand.

Again, please clarify what think of Clinton’s FP stance, especially with regard to the ME.

118

nastywoman 10.15.17 at 11:24 am

and as I wrote already – we need @113

”I think everyone here agrees we have problems to address.”

”given the choice between the devil I know and the one I don’t”

”a race-baiting, loudmouth buffoon”

”Studying the buffoon tells us practically nothing”

and so ”the problem to be addressed” has become how to get rid of the buffoon in the fastest way?

Could we make him the new CEO of the ex-Weinstein company?

119

Layman 10.15.17 at 11:42 am

J-D: “Even if that’s not in fact a question that Layman was interested in…”

That is in fact the question I intended. I got the response that I expected; bruce can’t really point to any widespread media fantasy about Trump, he just likes to say that there is one.

novakant: “Again, please clarify what think of Clinton’s FP stance, especially with regard to the ME.”

Generally, I think it’s pretty bad. But I also recognize that Clinton is, if nothing else, a believer in and supporter of the institutions which govern the international order. Only a fool could both understand her record AND believe that under the current circumstances she’d refuse to certify Iranian compliance and invite Congress to blow up the deal unilaterally.

120

Layman 10.15.17 at 11:46 am

novakant: “No Layman, why should I ?”

Because it’s foolish. Trivially foolish because it is no better than a guess; and substantially foolish because it’s a guess that entirely ignores the nature of the person in question. But of course you won’t retreat from it; saying it is an expression of support for your tribe, and you can’t recant it for that reason. Go ahead, surprise me. Admit that it was silly hyperbole.

121

Layman 10.15.17 at 11:47 am

Collin Street: “Asking questions helps you, but not anybody else, really.”

Really?

122

Layman 10.15.17 at 11:50 am

kidneystones: “Their daughter Chelsea is/was a good friend of Ivanka Trump (a convert to Judaism) and her husband.”

Collin Street will accuse me of asking meaningless questions, but here goes:

What on earth is the purpose or meaning of the parenthetical clause in the sentence above?

123

steven t johnson 10.15.17 at 12:17 pm

It seems to me that you might illustrate the difference between a regular pol like Obama from a Trump by comparing their use of executive orders and appointments. An example is the way Obama set up the Dreamers. The point was not to truly reform immigration on a principled basis but to compromise difficulties, to keep the peace so to speak. Trump orders a travel ban to cause frenzy.

Another example: Obama set up exemptions in ACA that allowed Republican governors to sabotage the program in their states (opting out of parts,) It’s bad for the program, but it makes for partisan cooperation. Trump uses executive power to sabotage health care on a national level, and causing a crisis in partisan relationships (including the Republican Party) is a goal too.

Another example: Obama makes a nuclear deal with Iran with a complex series of excuses for unilateral disavowal, like the requirement to certify that Trump just denied. Again, this is a compromise with partisans. (Some would argue it was just a meaningless compromise, I would say Obama seriously meant to allow a way to restore sanctions when the diplomacy was right, but either way, the point was to compromise.) Trump not only avails himself of the excuses without regard to diplomacy, he uses executive power to declare the Revolutionary Guards terrorists. He’s deliberately increasing international tensions, unilaterally.

I can’t agree with the Corey Robins or kidneystones who see so much continuity in Trump’s politics.

124

Layman 10.15.17 at 12:42 pm

steven t johnson: “Obama set up exemptions in ACA that allowed Republican governors to sabotage the program in their states (opting out of parts…”

Not disputing your broader premise, but this part is wrong. The ACA as written did not permit Republican governors to opt out of the Medicaid expansion. That particular bit of legislation was written by Chief Justice John Roberts; and it has to be said that virtually everyone was surprised when Roberts and his cronies in the Court quite suddenly found that the Federal government could not create a new program and compel states to execute it if doing so would cost the states 10% of the cost of the program.

125

Donald Johnson 10.15.17 at 1:07 pm

I don’t think Clinton would have cancelled the Iran agreement because it leaves the US exposed as the one clearly breaking its word, annoying its allies. I think she would have found cleverer ways to be bellicose. For instance, her supporter Michael Morell told Charlie Rose we should be covertly killing Iranians and Russians in Syria so that they would know we did it. He didn’t spell it out, but by saying “covert” he meant we would deny it publicly. Clinton also wanted protected zones for refugees, which in practice would mean massive air strikes and ground forces and in a sanctuary for rebels to use as they strike at the Syrians and Russians and Iranians and Hezbollah.

126

Donald Johnson 10.15.17 at 1:11 pm

Before someone objects to irrelevant Clinton bashing, there is a larger point. Trump is awful and I favor removing him via the 25th Amendment because I think he might start a war with N Korea. But a great many of Trump’s opponents are opposed to him because he is an incompetent boob and not because they oppose American warmongering. They favor it, but don’t trust Trump to do it correctly.

127

kidneystones 10.15.17 at 1:29 pm

@122 I’m going to respectfully leave that for you to figure out on your own. I’ll close all further communication with you by suggesting that your aggressive and uniformly uncharitable reading of the remarks of others may complicate your understanding of relatively simple statements.

@123 I enjoy your comments very much, generally. And 123 is entirely fair.

I find very little in Trump’s first term that is remarkable, or revolutionary. He seems to understand that he can’t go to war with a Republican party he’s ostensibly supposed to lead. Corey and others are correct, I believe, in asserting that Trump is fundamentally uninterested in governing, and entirely wrapped up in frequent external validations. I’ll add that he thrives on conflict and perhaps instinctively knows how and when to rally his base. I’ve certainly seen him switch gears/targets during rallies when he senses he’s losing the crowd.

Unlike you, and probably many others, I don’t take anything any politician says seriously, especially Trump. Actions, rather than words, matter far more. Trump might like to get credit for a decapitation strike on NK and I think you nailed it when you noted that such a strike would win him bi-partisan support. He’s more interested, imho, in getting credit for a golden economic age however fanciful that notion may be.

Overall, I still defer to Scott Adams and look forward to his new book (any day)
“Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don’t Matter.” By all means buy Corey’s Book, but keep Adams in the back of your mind for light reading.

Trump may well blow us all up, but I’ve been told that could happen pretty much every day since I can recall. What I can say, re: Kim, is that I was here in Japan when Bill Clinton started looking seriously at removing Kim and all the Americans I knew here were crapping themselves. Can’t see it happening simply because nobody wants to see downtown Seoul and Tokyo vaporized, one of which is a near-certainty, and that’s if the conflict remains contained. The 1 percent in China, the US, Korea, Russia, and Japan aren’t about to let anybody risk a regional conflagration.

And that really is it for me.

128

Layman 10.15.17 at 2:55 pm

Donald Johnson: “For instance, her supporter Michael Morell told Charlie Rose we should be covertly killing Iranians and Russians in Syria so that they would know we did it.”

This is quite a bizarre construction. Suppose I followed the model, saying “Donald Johnson’s supporter Joe Blogs thinks we should be drowning baby kittens.” Would that be a good reason to infer that you wanted to drown baby kittens?

129

Layman 10.15.17 at 3:02 pm

kidneystones: “I’m going to respectfully leave that for you to figure out on your own.”

Well, that’s not a good idea. It’s a simple, fair question, and your unwillingness to answer it leaves one to believe the worst.

130

bruce wilder 10.15.17 at 3:16 pm

J-D @ 115

I do not have in my possession the one true narrative of Trump. Scott Adams predicted the media’s narrative arc would eventually go to, “Trump is effective, but we don’t like it.” I am there already. I think his Administration has been scarily effective on a broad agenda. And, I do not like it.

Layman @ 115: “bruce can’t really point to any widespread media fantasy about Trump, he just likes to say that there is one.”

I wish there was only one. I wish there was anything else! You only have to turn on CNN or MSNBC or read the Washington Post to be inundated with media fantasies about Trump.

There is the on-going Russiagate script. There was the now fading Trump-is-Hitler theme. There is the Trump is crazy / senile and all is chaos in the White House script. Those are just over-arching concepts though — you really have to see the relentless tendentious interpretation of every tiny detail of what he says and does to appreciate the craziness. Trump can mispronounce a word and Seth Meyers will turn it into a ten minute segment. I visited a sick friend during a G-20? Summit a while back and was treated to several hours of mindless speculation on MSNBC on the meaning of where Trump stood in the photo and what the lapel pins were about. If you can spare a few brain cells, watch Washington Week in Review on PBS: confident recitations of empty spin.

131

Donald Johnson 10.15.17 at 4:03 pm

Michael Morrell is a former CI A director and I saw speculation that he was a likely member of a Clinton Administration. About the same time that he appeared on Charlie Rose he had also published an op ed endorsing Clinton for President.

But you also ignored my other points. Clinton favored a safe zone in Syria, which is tantamount to an invasion of Syria and armed conflict with their government and its allies. And Clinton herself was and is representative of a large number of Very Serious People who thought Obama had botched Syria by not intervening on a large enough scale. There is a big constituency for more vigorous action against Syria, Iran, Hezbollah, and Russia. ( There is also a constituency for more intervention in the Ukraine.). Clinton was clearly part of that. She also told AIPAC that we needed to take our relationship with Israel to the next level, and the only comment I recall reading about her regarding Yemen was about Iranian intervention, but to be honest I would need to look that up to be sure.
Clinton pushed for the Libyan intervention.

Again, she is irrelevant now, but she was part of the group who wanted yet more American military intervention in the Middle East. That group is still around. Your response was to avoid all my points and to pretend Morrell is just some random supporter.

132

Donald Johnson 10.15.17 at 4:06 pm

I keep misspelling his name. Morell. Forgot to mention he was working for a Clinton aide.

http://gawker.com/i-ran-the-c-i-a-now-i-work-for-a-longtime-clinton-ally-1784871887

133

Donald Johnson 10.15.17 at 4:12 pm

Last comment of the day. But I googled and found something I didn’t know. Morell was one of her advisors last fall and said we should be stopping and boarding Iranian ships to prevent them from sending weapons to the Houthis.

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/10/clinton-adviser-lets-attack-iran-to-aid-saudis-in-yemen.html

Jake Sullivan is also portrayed as something of an anti Iran militarist.

And again, Clinton is irrelevant now, I think. But these other people are still around.

134

engels 10.15.17 at 4:22 pm

Asking questions helps you, but not anybody else, really.

How so?

135

b9n10nt 10.15.17 at 4:43 pm

ks @127

Unlike you, and probably many others, I don’t take anything any politician says seriously, especially Trump.

How did we get to a world that includes systemic discrimination against Black job applicants, for instance? It can’t be analyzed without attending to a history of speech and written communication.

In a microcosm, this can be seen on a personal level. Many of us grew up believing that “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me”. Direct experience in fact seems to reveal the opposite. What hurts more, your wife accidentally closing the door on your finger or your wife seeming to denigrate you in your presence among friends? It’s not like the offended husband can say of her wife, “Well, she passed the salt wen I asked her to, so my hurt feelings from her words must be entirely a result of my own psychology.”

Marginalized, low-status peoples do not have the luxury of saying that a politician’s words don’t matter. If we are in solidarity with all Americans, we can not say that Trump’s race-baiting does’t matter. And to claim it’s irrelevant is to take sides for White privelege against the solidarity we all must wake up to if we claim to have the nation’s, and not just our own, interests at heart.

136

Layman 10.15.17 at 5:56 pm

Donald Johnson: “But you also ignored my other points.”

I didn’t even ignore them. They’re irrelevant to what I said, which is that no reasonable person can believe that Clinton would have refused to certify Iran’s compliance with the agreement under the current circumstances.

137

Collin Street 10.15.17 at 7:46 pm

Asking questions is “selfish” because if the person being asked can straightforwardly answer your question then obviously being asked the question doesn’t get anything from it.

In general “give me information” benefits the questioner, not – straightforwardly – the questionee. There’s some second-order efgects wrt clarifying thought that I’m ignoring, mostly for rhetorical effect but also because they really don’t come into play when the questions are stupid enough.

138

nastywoman 10.15.17 at 8:30 pm

@
”Unlike you, and probably many others, I don’t take anything any politician says seriously, especially Trump.”

Hey!! me too –
I only take seriously what A… holes say – as when a… holes says something they nearly all the time do what they say -(no second thoughts or anything like that) – so AGAIN I have to agree with the kidney man 110 percent.

(sorry guys!!)

139

phenomenal cat 10.15.17 at 8:55 pm

b9n10nt @87–

The Coates point was an aside really. The Black Agenda Report website and Adolph Reed offer critical perspectives on his work and are worth pondering. I’ve got my own bones to pick with Coates but I’ll leave that for now as it is somewhat OT.

I will say I believe he is celebrated in part b/c his work fundamentally challenges nothing and demands nothing in real material terms–but produces real frisson in the atomized realm of morality as private consumer choice.

140

Orange Watch 10.15.17 at 9:30 pm

Collin Street@116:
The Socratic Method would like to have a word with you.

Layman@136:
Layman@95 would like to have a word with you. Though if your response to your earlier self is that you only implied a broader claim while leaving yourself wiggle room to point out that you never quite stated it, I suspect none of us would particularly like to have a word with you.

141

faustusnotes 10.16.17 at 1:55 am

This thread is as depressing as ever, but I just want to jump in and correct this piece of fantasism by Steven T Johnson:

Obama set up exemptions in ACA that allowed Republican governors to sabotage the program in their states (opting out of parts,) It’s bad for the program, but it makes for partisan cooperation.

As Layman observes, Obama didn’t do this and he didn’t do it by executive order. The legislation that the Dem congress (NOT Obama) passed forced all states to implement the program in full; the Republicans through the Heritage Foundation spent a long period of time looking for people willing to mount a court challenge to this; and after they finally found someone the supreme court rewrote this part of the law; and then some Republican states opted out of some parts of the law in accordance with the supreme court’s rewrite.

No part of any of this had anything to do with Obama’s intention or action, but somehow Steven t johnson has come to believe that this was all Obama’s unique personal contribution to this law. So here we have an ostensibly left wing person commenting on an academic blog who has absolutely no idea of how a signature left wing law was written, passed or amended, who blames all of its failings on one person, and has fully absorbed a depiction of the law that is dishonest, that elides right-wing efforts to destroy the law, and was probably pushed around among left wing critics of Clinton by a Russian Facebook operative.

There’s a lot of talk about what the left needs to do to make itself more effective in America but right here is a good example of what you really need to do: learn to understand how your own damn policies work, and have some basic respect for your own politicians.

142

b9n10nt 10.16.17 at 2:19 am

phenomenal cat @139

Thanks.

143

J-D 10.16.17 at 2:24 am

bruce wilder

I do not have in my possession the one true narrative of Trump.

I did not ask you for the one true narrative of Trump, as I already comprehended that you reject the notion that there is one true narrative. So you have not answered the question I did ask but have instead answered a question that I consciously avoided asking.

What I was asking, and am still asking, was ‘Can you explain how the construction of Trump in an (illustrative example) imagined narrative differs from an objective description of Trump?’ For example, I can select this from the recent comment of yours that I am currently responding to: ‘There is the Trump is crazy / senile and all is chaos in the White House script.’ How (would you say) is that different from an objective description?

144

steven t johnson 10.16.17 at 3:29 am

faustusnotes@141 rewrites Layman’s correction on the Supreme Court allowing states to refuse to expand MedicAid, rather than Obama by executive order. Layman was right on the MedicAid expansion, but that wasn’t the only thing I was thinking of, which is why I didn’t simply write “MedicAid expansion” in the first place. Delaying the requirement for the insurance plans to cover contraception, sterilization and abortion, for one. And delaying requirements for employers to report health insurance costs to employees, for another. And eliminating caps on deductibles for small businesses (though on review I see he was cooperating with Congress on that one.)

The review by the way I found here: http://galen.org/2016/changes-to-obamacare-so-far/ This is dated January 28, 2016. Galen Institute notes that the list was republished at National Review Online. Surely this is non-Russian a source enough to satisfy faustusnotes. Of the seventy changes listed, sixty seven are by the administration alone or by Congress and the President.

Although I can’t get Facebook at all, thus have been saved from dastardly Russian operatives despite myself, it is sadly obvious that my memory has been contaminated with right-wing charges about Obama’s unilateral changes. I know perfectly well that you can’t trust conservatives but false impressions are hard to dislodge.
“The GOP says Obama’s decision to postpone implementing the “employer mandate” stomps all over the Constitution.” (This from Atlantic in 2013, which I didn’t read then. https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/07/delaying-parts-of-obamacare-blatantly-illegal-or-routine-adjustment/277873/)

Nor did I read this, from the New England Journal of Medicine: “As the Obama administration has over the past several months postponed implementation of various parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the President’s political opponents have charged that his decisions are ‘blatantly illegal,’ that his administration is acting “as though it were not bound by law,” and that his decisions ‘raise grave concerns about [his] understanding’ that, unlike medieval British monarchs, American presidents have under our Constitution a ‘duty, not a discretionary power’ to ‘take care that the laws be faithfully executed.’1 Indeed, the House of Representatives has enacted, on a party-line vote, H.R. 4138, the ‘Enforce the Law Act,’ purporting to create jurisdiction in the federal courts to allow a house of Congress to sue to force the President to enforce requirements of a federal law. “(https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/07/delaying-parts-of-obamacare-blatantly-illegal-or-routine-adjustment/277873/)

So, yes, a right-wing talking point lodged in my brain and led me to incorrectly attribute one of the many changes in ACA to Obama when, as Layman said, it was the Supreme Court. The babble about Russian Facebook operatives is a much bigger mistake than forgetting that the Republicans were lying about how Obama was doing everything unilaterally, I think. But then, I would think so, wouldn’t I?

The funny part is that I can’t get on Facebook. (My email address is pre-empted, so I can’t sign up.) And, shamelessly, I still think that list of changes bears out Obama’s willingness to compromise, whereas Trump doesn’t just want to roll back the New Deal, Trump wants to go back to the Gilded Age and a renewed Lochner era.

There is a larger point. Despite having made a mistake, I still think that no health insurance plan that leaves such a large role for private insurance companies, that leaves pharmaceutical companies with barely regulated monopolies, that is so much like a law compelling people to buy liability insurance for their cars can possibly be construed as left-wing, in any but a special CT sense.

In that special CT sense, where the Left begins with mainstream Democrats during the Eisenhower administration, with the ADA and Adlai Stevenson and the ACLU after it got read of Gurley Flynn, market production (aka production for profit) is prerequisite to human freedom, and just needs tweaking. In the CT world, totalitarianism is a thing, not propaganda. By these lights I am not a leftist at all, because I fall off the planet.

145

Layman 10.16.17 at 3:35 am

Orange Watch @ 140, one can believe that Clinton is bad on some points without believing or saying ridiculous things like “she’s as bad or worse than Trump!” This is particularly true on things like ‘is a threat to international treaties and institutions’, but to be clear I can’t think of any issue where Clinton is as bad or worse than Trump. Can you?

146

J-D 10.16.17 at 4:38 am

Layman

kidneystones: “I’m going to respectfully leave that for you to figure out on your own.”

Well, that’s not a good idea. It’s a simple, fair question, and your unwillingness to answer it leaves one to believe the worst.

‘I’m going to leave that for you to figure out on on your own’ would have been obviously true; so obviously, in fact, that there would have been no point in making the statement except deliberate rudeness.
‘I’m going to respectfully leave that for you to figure out on your own’ is equally rude; and equally obviously a lie. As in Yes Minister, this is a context where explicit mention of respect is a coded indicator of the exact opposite.

147

Collin Street 10.16.17 at 6:01 am

Socratic method is bullshit for anything except tracjing basic metacognition – which these days people learn in primary school – or as part of a mental-health therapy program. There’s no cause to use socratic tools unless you’re an early-childhood educator or a therapist.

(Because it chiefly relies on negative feedback, and negative feedback – “not that” – is beaten in paucity-of-communication literally only by saying nothing at all. To actually _communicate_ anything socratically you need to indvidually negate every other possibility: literally any other approavh is faster)

148

Orange Watch 10.16.17 at 7:26 am

Layman@145:

To take the first one that rises to mind, which is also relevant to the points you implicitly challenge while that you never address them: it’s been about a month since I completed my Reserves contract, and prior to the election I took a long, hard look at both candidates’ foreign policy stances with that recently-passed date in mind. Based on the information available at the time, I concluded that while neither presidency was likely to result in a foreseeable major military action during their first year that could prevent my scheduled return to civilian life, a Clinton presidency was much more likely to do so. As I expect you had no skin in the game, you may have had little reason to look closely at what Clinton said about her military ambitions if it conflicted with your desire to support her over a generally noxious opponent, but she actively and consistently called for foreign policy that would sharply increase the risk of large-scale international conflict. Trump was (and is) merely reckless and unpredictable. Under Clinton, foreign adventurism was a question of when, even if it would have been politely shrouded in multilateral niceties. Trump was and is a large, threatening “if”.

So yeah. There’s a point (relevant to the topic you’re ostensibly not addressing) where Clinton was at the time clearly worse than Trump: predictability of military adventurism. On this point Trump was an unpleasant gamble, while Clinton was an unpleasant sure thing. If you didn’t (or don’t) feel any particular need to take her seriously or at her word, you can and will object to that characterization and make revisionist arguments that severe and extremely dangerous escalation could never have occurred under a Clinton presidency, but you shoot your credibility in the head.

149

bruce wilder 10.16.17 at 7:40 am

J-D ‘Can you explain how the construction of Trump in an (illustrative example) imagined narrative differs from an objective description of Trump?’

Here is a quote from a Vox article dated Oct 13: “. . . obviously, there’s Donald Trump, who has dispensed with one democratic norm after another. He’s fired an FBI director in order to undercut an investigation into his campaign’s possible collusion with Moscow . . .”

The article is not about Trump. Sean Illing, the author, is using Trump as an illustration. Or, rather he is using a narrative about Trump where Trump colluded with the Russian state to win election by foul means. If you accept the donnée of Trump’s collusion with Russia, then it follows that Trump fired Comey in what practically amounts to obstruction of justice. And, a considerable volume of reporting has supported that narrative. One set of reports had Comey fired right after he made a budget request to fund an expanded investigation. A dossier put together by a British spy implied that Trump was being blackmailed by Russians. A meeting of arranged by one of Trump’s sons with a Russian lawyer was supposedly baited with an offer of dirt on Clinton and this meeting has been interpreted as confirming the Trump campaign’s willingness to collude. There has been a lot of speculation in the Media in support of this narrative is my point. At the time Comey was fired, there was a great volume of speculation centered on what Trump said in his letter dismissing Comey, calling into question the claim by Trump that Comey had assured Trump on three occasions that Trump himself was not under investigation. In support of the narrative that Trump had obstructed justice, Comey’s character and positive reputation were touted by some journalists.

But, despite the tremendous volume of journalistic speculation structured around this narrative of collusion, there are no confirmed and unambiguous facts to support it. So, Illing must qualify his use of the narrative as an example of bad behavior with the insertion of the weasel words, “possible collusion”.

In a better world than the one we are living in, responsible journalists are careful and judicious in both verifying facts and grounding the narratives they use with facts. The facts that can be ascertained and verified become constraints on the story, on the choice of narrative. That does not necessarily happen. Sometimes, journalists go with a “good story” that resonates with readers and attracts clicks or viewers. And, they construe such facts as there are in ways that support the chosen narrative without exercising judgment or attempting verification. The story — the choice of narrative script — becomes a constraint on the facts and their interpretation.

I think the balance of available factual evidence suggests pretty strongly that Trump did not collude with the Russian state to defeat Clinton. An honest and balanced “objective” description of factors affecting the electoral outcome and Trump’s conduct do not support the idea that there was collusion or even that the Russians did much of anything to affect the election beyond openly funding a cable news channel. The dossier peddled by the British ex-spy was pretty ridiculous on its face. The Comey budget request was a pure invention. Responsible journalists would have attempted to verify details in the dossier or reported on how absurd many parts of it were. Journalists assessing Comey’s character might have taken a more critical perspective.

If the factual basis for “possible collusion” is taken away, the obstruction of justice charge evaporates. Trump becomes a President who does not want to be dogged by a groundless investigation, fishing for a blue dress until it finds one. Trump the President finds he does not want to have the hack, Comey hanging out. Useful when he was tripping up his opponent, not so attractive as a companion.

Trump viewed plainly is still a fairly alarming figure to have in a powerful office, but a narrative of traitorous collusion with a national enemy, titillating as it may be as news entertainment, is not descriptively accurate given the available evidence and appropriately balanced methods of evaluating that evidence. (During the campaign, Trump called on Russia to disclose the emails Clinton claimed to have deleted. I suppose one could take that as a joke or a call for collusion with Boris and Natasha. I think joke is the better, more natural interpretation.)

150

TM 10.16.17 at 8:04 am

CR 69: I certainly didn’t mean to misrepresent Corey Robin’s argument. He claimed that there was nothing remarkable about Trump’s foreign policy recklessness. Now we are not yet a year into his presidency and Trump has openly threatened a foreign country with nuclear annihilation and started to blow up the Iran deal which was internationally agreed on and signed by the US. My critique of CR’s consistent tendency to trivialize the Trumpian threat stands. In less than a year, Trump has exceeded our worst expectations and has already done what might be irreparable damage both domestically and internationally. We don’t know what else he will do but we won’t be able to counter the threat by whistling in the dark and convincing ourselves that things won’t get really bad. Some political figures and movements are really worse, more dangerous, more evil, than others. To pretend otherwise to me is reckless and irresponsible, and inexplicable from somebody who studies right wing movements.

151

TM 10.16.17 at 8:17 am

novakant 89: “The scary thing is that Clinton would have acted very similarly towards Iran and NK, in fact all the evidence suggests she might have been even more bellicose.”

What is this, are we back in the “Hillary eats babies” line of argument? There is absolutely no reason to believe that Clinton would have acted “very similarly”, there is absolutely no evidence that “she might have been even more bellicose”, in fact all the evidence points to the opposite. This is character assassination and beyond malicious. Have you learned nothing?

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/355476-clinton-disavowing-iran-deal-will-open-the-door-to-nuclear

152

nastywoman 10.16.17 at 9:33 am

and @
“she’s as bad or worse than Trump!”

when I was around 4 years old an even more stupid kid then I am in Kindergarten accused me of being bad or worse than any ”Deutscher” because the kid had found out that I had an American mom -(who even couldn’t really speak ”Deutsch”) and I was very much hurt by that statement and probably never got over it – and then there is this issue right now with this… may I say ”Pig”? who is currently getting compared to Trump and his ”Political Theory” and so I wonder if the ”Comparison Specialists” on CT could do us all a yuuuge favor -(as hardly any American can remember anymore who this ‘Clinton person’ was) – to compare ”the Political Theory” of the Pig to the Political Theory of Trumpism – as such comparison might be really enlightening for ALL of us -(even the dudes) –

And so I’m waiting –
and who could be better to start with an extensive ”expertise” as a commenter called ”Orange Watch”?

153

faustusnotes 10.16.17 at 11:21 am

Steven t johnson, that website you linked to with a list of administrative changes to Obamacare is very dishonest. Most of the changes listed are rules and guidelines made pursuant to the act, that is the legislation required them to be made. Some are deferrals of temporary orders made until the final guidelines could be put in place, some are additional measures to cover disruptions to the implementation timetable due to the supreme court cases, some are double-counting and some are efforts to resolve conflicts in activity between departments. Almost none of them have anything to do with Obama and almost none of them have anything to do with fixing the ACA. Most of them have nothing to do with executive orders.

You also in your original comment said that Obama made these administrative changes (that he didn’t make) to achieve “bipartisan cooperation”, but this is obviously and trivially false – the ACA was passed on party lines and none of the post-ACA “changes” you identified needed to go through congress – so what bipartisan cooperation was Obama seeking or gaining? It’s all just empty fluff. We do know that the ACA was diluted in an attempt to achieve partisan cooperation because the Blue Dog democrats refused to consider single payer, a public option or anything else that had even a whiff of handouts about it. These Blue Dog democrats represented Trump-friendly states, of course, and they opposed these things out of fear of their own electorates. But it has long been established on this site that inquiring as to why the residents of Trump-friendly states are especially reactionary in their view of welfare is forbidden, since it implies that working class people are not perfect, that we need to understand that democrats are beholden to their base and not just their “neoliberal” donors, and it might even involve talking about race. We can’t indulge our dreams of revolution if we have to admit that the working class don’t want one, now can we?

You might also want to note that many very successful UHC systems force people to buy insurance – Singapore, Japan, China, and a couple of European systems are examples that spring to mind. Of course running things through general taxation is also forcing people to buy insurance, just in a different way. If you think that this kind of mandate is bad, you are probably right that you are not a leftist – which might explain why you believe the lies you’re being told by the National Review Online, or cite for your support an article in the Atlantic that gets its information from Breitbart, the Wall Street Journal, and the Cato Institute.

So again, pay attention to how policy is made, what the policy is meant to do, and what the limits of your political representatives’ possibilities are before you bitch about what they didn’t achieve, or present patently false information as evidence of anything about the political goals and stratagems of a president.

154

faustusnotes 10.16.17 at 11:25 am

I’ll just add that this is a hilarious misrepresentation by Obama’s critics on the left (I guess I should put that in scare quotes). If the “neoliberal”, “identity politics”-fixated, transgender-loving left coast democrats of the big cities had got their way, America would have a public option and/or single payer, and a much fairer distribution of taxes. But Obama had to compromise with the red-blooded, white working class-loving, “real issues” democrats who are much loved by the white working class whisperers and “real industrial policy” red-blooded old school leftists in the press, Jacobin and hereabouts, and it was because of his compromise with those people who are supposedly focused on “real issues” like economic policy that America has the half-arsed health policy it does. But on CT we have to constantly put up with the old left whining that all those woke hipsters and chicks who love Hilary are the real reason we didn’t get single payer.

And you wonder why your politics has gone to shit.

155

nastywoman 10.16.17 at 11:48 am

and if anybody (here) takes the comparison of ”the Political Theory” of the Pig to the Political Theory of Trumpism as a joke.

It isn’t.

As firstly and for all the Political Theory of Trumpism is the classical ”Predator Political Policy” – as defined:

”PEDATOR” –
A person or group that robs, victimizes, or exploits others for gain.

156

TM 10.16.17 at 11:52 am

68: “My read of ks on this blog over the years is that he gets classism, but fetishizes the concerns of the white working class”

Sure, that’s why he supports the leader who wants to take away their health care and abolish the inheritance tax. Why do we take such obvious nonsense seriously?

Or how about this quote from CR (re 35): “Trump’s critique of plutocracy, defense of entitlements, and articulated sense of the market’s wounds” etc. This is an administration of the plutocracy, for the plutocracy, by the plutocracy. Its major domestic political projects are deregulation (finance as well as fossil fuels and just about any polluting industry), taking away health insurance from millions of Americans, and massively cutting taxes for the plutocracy and the upper class. And people seriously credit Trump of the golden toilet seat with a critique of the plutocracy? And this now counts as political science? Wow. What is amazing is that CTers suffer this folly so sheepishly.

157

Donald Johnson 10.16.17 at 12:01 pm

You did it again, layman. I refuted what you said to me even if you take it in the narrowest possible way. You objected to my reference to Morell’s statement, implying that he was just some random Clinton supporter using some silly argument about. “ Donald Johnson supporter” who drowns kittens. I showed that this argument was wrong and Morell was one of Clinton’s advisors. If you want to stick to issues, then stick to them and don’t make silly arguments and get them wrong.

The larger point is that in Washington the fight between Trump and many ( obviously not all) of his critics is a fight between two groups of militarists.. It would be good if people acknowledged this. In a way it is three groups of militarists,, since Trump’s personal incoherence makes him a group unto himself. But on Iran there is an important disagreement between those who want to dump the nuclear agreement and those who want to adhere to it, but are otherwise hardliners who badly want more confrontation.

On your main point, when you aren’t trivializing mine, yes, Trump is worse than Clinton because he is not only an arrogant militarist (a trait he shares with Clinton and many others), but ignorant and irrational.

158

Jerry Vinokurov 10.16.17 at 1:22 pm

My critique of CR’s consistent tendency to trivialize the Trumpian threat stands.

I think your critique stems from a misreading of what Corey is actually saying. That Trump is continuous with the recent (and not-so-recent) history of the Republican party is not a “trivialization.” If anything, it’s actually a lot more horrifying than thinking that Trump is a sui generis phenomenon; in the latter case, you can hope that business-as-usual will resume once he’s gone, but in the former, the problem is business as usual.

159

Layman 10.16.17 at 1:32 pm

@ Orange Watch:

1) I’m a veteran, a former infantry squad leader, from a military family. My son is too old now for military service, but I have three nephews on active duty. Enough skin in the game for you? Can we dispense with that sort of horseshit?

2) I’m not asking you to explain your pre-election calculus; I don’t agree with your conclusions then, but it’s fair to say we knew less of Trump then than we do now. I’m asking you to give examples where Clinton is clearly worse than Trump given our actual experience of Trump, now. Should I understand that you still think Trump is a safer bet when it comes to military (mis)adventurism? I don’t just mean Iran or North
Korea; who knows, maybe she’d green-light combat operations in Niger or something?

@ Donald Johnson

If Clinton is bad, you should be able to use her words to show she’s bad. That you’re spending your time quoting other people to indict her makes it clear you can’t produce the same kind of quotes from her. I don’t care if Morell is Clinton’s secret love child, he isn’t Clinton; and his proposals on TV can’t reasonably be attributed to her without some actual evidence that she is behind them or agrees with them.

Also, too: I’ve said I think she’s bad on militarism. I’m not interested in, and don’t, defend the other side of that argument. I just don’t have any patience for the sort of nonsense that wants to paint her as an eater of babies. She’s a bog-standard, mainstream adherent of the global diplomatic, economic and military order. That’s not good, but it ain’t Satan either.

160

Layman 10.16.17 at 1:44 pm

bruce wilder: “But, despite the tremendous volume of journalistic speculation structured around this narrative of collusion, there are no confirmed and unambiguous facts to support it.”

Unambiguous facts:

1) There is an FBI investigation.
2) The investigation is focused on members of Trump’s campaign; and on evidence of Russian interference in the election: and on evidence of contacts between the campaign and the Russian government.
3) Trump fired the FBI director.
4) Trump openly attributed the firing to his displeasure with the investigation and his desire that it end.

1 & 2 are not in dispute. 3 is not in dispute, and is further a violation of democratic norms. 4 is not in dispute, and is evidence of intent to obstruct. Put another way, Sean Illing appears to be reporting facts.

161

TM 10.16.17 at 1:55 pm

DJ 157: “The larger point is that in Washington the fight between Trump and many ( obviously not all) of his critics is a fight between two groups of militarists. It would be good if people acknowledged this.”

It would also be good if people, especially of the “both sides do it”-crowd, acknowledged that militarism is hugely popular in America, especially among the so-called White Working Class (much less so among the “left coast democrats of the big cities”, thanks faustusnotes 154), and that any politician who seriously challenged that militarism would have no chance to be elected. One could then perhaps start talking about why this is the case and what to do about it. This doesn’t mean I’m willing to concede your claim. Trump is far more militaristic than either Obama or Clinton and and at this point – given Trump effectively threatening war against both Iran and North Korea – anybody who claims otherwise is on a fantasy trip fueled by hatred for Clinton or by right wing propaganda, or both.

162

faustusnotes 10.16.17 at 2:29 pm

Donald Johnson, where is your evidence that Morell was a security adviser to Clinton? His wikipedia entry doesn’t mention it, and this article in foreign policy says she only had two staff on foreign policy, but a network of hundreds of people advising those two, and doesn’t mention him. Do you think he was one of those hundreds, and if so do you think maybe the number of people in the network might water down his importance just a little? None of his personal websites or those connected to his corporate or university employment suggests that he was her national security advisor. None of the articles about his resignation from Kennedy School of Government mentions it (they all say he was ex-CIA deputy). Could it be that this is simple fabrication?

163

nastywoman 10.16.17 at 2:57 pm

@
What is amazing is that CTers suffer this folly so sheepishly.

I don’t and I’m (kind of) hopeful we could turn ”this thing” around.
At least into a much less confused Anti-A…hole way?

164

nastywoman 10.16.17 at 3:31 pm

AND about all these theories about ”the Political Theory of Trumpism” – the one which (still) makes the most sense is – that ”Trumpism” is ”mit Absicht” (on purpose) – an effort to put a completely demented A…hole in charge – as Bannon one of the ”Vordenker” of this theory AND some commenters here – stated – to ”burn the whole thing down” –

And I have to give it to them – BE-fore at least some in Europe caught on to this ”war” – the F…faces and A…holes – were tremendously successful – at least in our homeland – America!

165

Hidari 10.16.17 at 4:25 pm

It seems deeply weird to accuse Trump of being a military ‘adventurist’ when (as the article I linked to above showed) he has in fact been one of the most ‘hands off’ Presidents, as far as foreign policy goes, in recent years. It’s certainly true his tweets are reckless, but of course, he wrote a book called ‘The Art of the Deal’. In Trump’s mind these are just negotiating positions, or the equivalent of the threats that boxers give each other before a fight. As Corey points out, when he discusses confrontation with foreign powers, it’s invariably in terms of business, not of war (disregarding the tweets). *

It’s noticeable that in one of the few cases in recent months when he actually has followed up his bellicose words with bellicose actions, it was leaked that this was because pressure was put on him by his Generals who now (apparently) wield the real power (Afghanistan).

It should never be forgotten that the person who actually brought the world the closest it has even been to Armageddon was liberal hero President Kennedy (‘I still remember where I was in the early ‘sixties when President Kennedy tried to kill me’: Christopher Hitchens), closely followed by Conservative idol Reagan (Operation Able Archer), although Lyndon Johnson’s bellicosity in Vietnam nearly brought about a (presumably) nuclear confrontation with China and Eisenhower nearly did the same vis a vis Korea.

Nixon of course actually ordered a nuclear strike while drunk.

http://www.businessinsider.com/drunk-richard-nixon-nuke-north-korea-2017-1?IR=T

*Trump has consistently said that he opposes the Iran deal because he feels he can get a better deal: he has not stated or indicated at any point that he actually wants a war with Iran.

166

bruce wilder 10.16.17 at 4:59 pm

Layman, small differences between Clinton and Trump do not dominate Clinton’s very large political defects. You had an argument for relentlessly focusing on differences to the exclusion of appreciating the whole reality, maybe, when there was a choice on an upcoming ballot. Now, we live in the shadow of Clinton’s defects: her defects gave us Trump. And, those defects are not so much the qualities of an individual person — Clinton or Trump — as they are the persistent institutional personalities of large political factions and institutional actors: the Democratic Party establishment, the Deep State intelligence agencies and military-industrial complex, the Foreign Policy Blob, the corporate Media, et cetera.

Bullying others in comments over such fine points as whether Clinton would have respected certain forms of the Iran nuclear deal is not contributing much to the discussion. We can see that Trump is hostile to that agreement and is cynically manipulating the forms in ways likely to make the agreement come apart. What relevance a counterfactual projection of Clinton’s behavior might have is not clear; asserting that acceptance of such a counterfactual as “true” should be a dispositive criteria for rationality borders on the bizarre.

The relevant fact is not some putative small differences between Trump and Clinton (and the factions and interests and institutionalized views she sought to represent as a fully paid-up member of the Foreign Policy Blob), but the near-absence in American politics of a countervailing force to the consensus of views and interests promoting a palsied, nearly mindless imperial aggression. Morell’s views are relevant to showing just how extreme and reckless is this “center” that Clinton represented, and understanding how and why the “center” is not doing much to restrain the Trump. Some powerful forces cultivated by the Democratic establishment have always been hostile to Iran, supportive of Saudi Arabia and so on.

TM, the idea that CR is minimizing Trump seems bizarre to me. If anyone understands the incoherent viciousness of conservatism as the impulse to dominate in a hierarchical polity, it is our gracious host. Trump is expressing conservative ideas and impulses that have always been there. He is not new. That bit of narrative hyperbole — that Trump is different from all those nice responsible conservatives of the past — is a dangerous deception. What is different in our political moment is the collapse of effective opposition from the left and centre-left. Trump is so scary because so little stands in his way, so little compels him (or the various factions enjoying the power associated with the authority of office under his aegis, including the practical military junta at the core of his Administration) to moderate his policies, let alone his rhetoric.

167

nastywoman 10.16.17 at 5:31 pm

AND actually – as I’m posting from Germany – do you guys know – that once upon a time there was a group of pretty sophisticated German ”Cynics” who said: ”Let’s put the fascistic A…hole in power” – as he will keep all these other ”fascistic A…holes” under control – and as WE -(the sophisticated Cynics) control him…

What can go wrong?!

168

Suzanne 10.16.17 at 5:52 pm

@154: We didn’t get a public option for several reasons. One of them was that the Obamaite experts didn’t put up a real fight for it because they didn’t think that one would ultimately be needed under the new health care coverage landscape created by the ACA. Obama and the Democratic congressional leadership on the issue took single-payer out of the discussion before it could even be discussed, something that Max Baucus later conceded was a mistake.

169

Lee A. Arnold 10.16.17 at 5:53 pm

Bruce Wilder #166: “The relevant fact is not some putative small differences between Trump and Clinton… but the near-absence in American politics of a countervailing force to the consensus of views and interests…”

Cart before horse. If such a countervailing force appeared, the voters wouldn’t vote for him or her. Bernie (e.g.) was rejected, not for want of trying. The relevant fact is widespread voter ignorance of the underlying causes of the issues, and the lack of any plan to get to a better world, save for incrementalism, which is often led astray. If the voters knew what they wanted, the countervailing force would appear.

170

LFC 10.16.17 at 6:08 pm

@Hidari

Lyndon Johnson’s bellicosity in Vietnam nearly brought about a (presumably) nuclear confrontation with China

Actually, one of the LBJ’s top priorities was to avoid, if at all possible, bringing China directly into the Vietnam War (as opposed to supplying N Vietnam w arms and some reserve soldiers for security duty at home so that the maximum number of NVA’s own soldiers cd be freed for combat — which China did).

LBJ’s fear of, and concern to avoid, direct Chinese intervention is one of the factors explaining why he chose the particular escalation options he did, for instance a ‘graduated’ bombing campaign starting in c. March 1965 as opposed to an all-out immediate bombing of e.g. all the North’s major oil storage facilities etc. (that came later, but not at first). LBJ never allowed U.S. forces to cross the Cambodian (or Laotian) border, unlike Nixon, and he never acceded to his advisor Rostow’s rec. for a ground invasion of the North. Fear of direct Chinese intervention was very likely a factor in all these decisions.

I’m certainly not defending LBJ’s Vietnam policy, but it is well documented that his concern about Chinese intervention played a role throughout. There is no evidence of which I’m aware that the U.S. and China came close to a *direct* confrontation, nuclear or conventional, during the Vietnam War, certainly not in the LBJ period. If you have well-sourced evidence to the contrary, I would be interested in the cite.

171

nastywoman 10.16.17 at 6:22 pm

@166
”her defects gave us Trump.”

And this idea – that somebody who is not able to win against a F… ing Moron – ”gives” us such a Moron is probably the most…. may I say ”sickening” idea of US Politics.

When and where-else in the world are ”the winners” giving by ”the losers”?
And when in (US) history was this silly nonsensical argument brought up the first time?

Did Reagans opponent -(who was it?) give US Reagan?
or was Bush given to US – by whom?
And if I’m at it – and into absurdity:
Are winning US Football teams are ”given” by the losers – and do US Bankers and the Stock Market ”win” because of some women in Arkansas?

And in any other (sane?) country – ”Presidents” are given the people – by the people voting in their majority ”for the best candidate”.

172

efcdons 10.16.17 at 6:31 pm

faustusnotes @154

Your attempt to tie “old school leftist” and politicians like Joe Lieberman, Max Baucus, Ben Nelson, and Mary Laindreu (the people who foreclosed the possibility of a public option) is, I don’t even know, ridiculous?

The “old school left” has hated those “Blue Dog” Democratic legislators forever. They were the kinds of politicians who were part of the centrist Clinton/DLC machine and joined in the fight against “old school leftist” policies. But sure, pragmatic compromise is good to achieve the best politically result. Except when it’s not. Very consistent.

Just unbelievable. It almost seems like a purposeful misreading of history to impugn your political enemies. Do you think the rest of us here who actually lived through the process of passing the ACA don’t remember 8 years ago?

173

Collin Street 10.16.17 at 8:30 pm

Now, we live in the shadow of Clinton’s defects: her defects gave us Trump.

Dormitive principle!

174

Mario 10.16.17 at 9:15 pm

@Layman

what I always find grotesque about the accusations of Russian meddling is the full ticket obliviousness to all the meddling the US used to perform in Russian elections, and in fact in many other elections worldwide. It’s quite a sorry sight to see people like you make a fuss about very minor activities (if there’s even evidence of any), without as much as a shred of self awareness.

Also, too: I’ve said I think she’s bad on militarism. I’m not interested in, and don’t, defend the other side of that argument. I just don’t have any patience for the sort of nonsense that wants to paint her as an eater of babies. She’s a bog-standard, mainstream adherent of the global diplomatic, economic and military order. That’s not good, but it ain’t Satan either.

The global diplomatic, economic and military order is downright evil and full-scale babyeating. Ask around in Yemen, Syria, Lybia, etc. So yes, she has that Satan streak. That that’s bog-standard and mainstream is horrific, but I grant you that’s the world we live in.

Note, BTW, that she was directly involved in at least some of these actions. She has, even now, more blood on her hands than Trump.

175

nastywoman 10.16.17 at 9:59 pm

– and I just can’t get over it – such:
”Trump is so scary because so little stands in his way, so little compels him”

Such… ”thinking” is as ”Alien” as blaming the kid who was mauled by a Pit Bull the other day – ”because so little stood in the Pit Bulls way and so little did ”compel him”.

What type of… person – what type of people can think like that?!

Is it being born and grown up – where? which makes you think like that?
Or is it old age which makes you think like that?

And what type of a ”Non Humanistic” world view is… that?

176

Donald Johnson 10.16.17 at 11:50 pm

Faustusnotes—

The evidence that Morell was one of Clinton’s advisors was in the link I provided, where it says Morell was one of Clinton’s advisors.

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/10/clinton-adviser-lets-attack-iran-to-aid-saudis-in-yemen.html

This is tiresome. I provide links and people demand the evidence that is in the links.

177

Donald Johnson 10.17.17 at 12:13 am

Layman, this is the third time your response is frustratingly beside the point and after this I am giving up, because you are just going to continue doing it. I didn’t just quote other people. I said Clinton supported intervention in Syria, that she supported the Libyan intervention and of course she voted for the Iraq War. She is also a standard AIPAC panderer. Do your own googling if you actually care about this rather than try to save face in some internet thread. It’s well known Clinton is a hawk.

My point was that yes, she is a bog standard militarist and one of the points I was making is that even if she is no longer relevant, the people who are militaristic in their attitudes still are. You are the one between the two of us who wants to make it mainly about Clinton, but since you brought up baby eating, that is you once again trivializing the consequences of bog standard US militarism.

Here is a link specifically on Clinton

http://fpif.org/hillary-clintons-support-iraq-war-no-fluke/

There are others, easily found, and I am not wasting further time on this.

178

Suzanne 10.17.17 at 12:35 am

@174: Trump has lifted the Obama Administration’s restraints on the military, resulting in a rapid rise in civilian casualties:

http://www.newsweek.com/trump-has-already-killed-more-civilians-obama-us-fight-against-isis-653564

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/21/us/politics/trump-drone-strikes-commando-raids-rules.html

As the Amnesty International spokesman points out in the NYT piece, the Obama
Administration’s constraints fell far short of what is needed.

On the home front, Trump is rescinding the Obama-era limits imposed on Pentagon handouts to cops:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/28/us/politics/trump-police-military-surplus-equipment.html

‘Police departments will now have access to military surplus equipment typically used in warfare, including grenade launchers, armored vehicles and bayonets, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on Monday, describing it as “lifesaving gear.”’

All of the foregoing actions could have been predicted during the campaign.

It is quite true that the U.S. has interfered in the elections of other nations, with disastrous consequences for many of those nations. Why this should tie hands now is not clear to me. Highly unlikely the Russians were engaged in righteous retribution for Mossadegh. I suspect some would be taking a less dismissive tone had, say, the Chinese interfered on behalf of Clinton the bloodthirsty.

179

Orange Watch 10.17.17 at 1:39 am

Layman@159:
Based on this and your prior comment, you’re asking for counterfactuals, because of course Clinton-the-non-President is not capable of being even as bad as let alone worse than Trump-the-President. However, based on your comments elsewhere in the thread, you’re dismissing any counterfactuals out of hand. Taken together, this is not a tack taken by someone who is interested in a serious dialogue, or really, any dialogue. Can we dispense with that sort of horseshit?

Either Clinton has no relevance at all, in which case you can forgo with the pedantic lectures about how she’s vastly superior in all ways to Trump (@95) and we can hopefully resume forgetting that she exists, or the comparison of a hypothetical Clinton presidency to the current administration has some value in the conversation even when someone other than you is making it (@96). Until and unless you’re willing and able to unravel the fundamental contradiction between these perfectly incompatible stances – which have infected every exchange you’ve made downthread of the them – there’s no point at all in trying to discuss this with you in any detail, and there’s certainly no reason for us to run and fetch answers for you in response to your ever-changing standards.

180

LFC 10.17.17 at 2:15 am

Suzanne @178

Trump has lifted the Obama Administration’s restraints on the military [in certain important respects], resulting in a rapid rise in civilian casualties

Yes. Glad someone made this point.

181

J-D 10.17.17 at 3:44 am

The relevant fact is not some putative small differences between Trump and Clinton (and the factions and interests and institutionalized views she sought to represent as a fully paid-up member of the Foreign Policy Blob), but the near-absence in American politics of a countervailing force to the consensus of views and interests promoting a palsied, nearly mindless imperial aggression.

I read that statement in bruce wilder’s comment and I began wondering what makes anything relevant to this discussion and, in particular, what could make any statement about Clinton relevant to this discussion and why Clinton is being referred to at all. I went back and checked, and was able to confirm that Corey Robin’s post makes no references to Clinton. I did begin to wonder whether I myself had been fooled into discussing Clinton in any comment, and was relieved to confirm that I hadn’t. I did find out which clown inserted the first derailing reference to Clinton in this discussion. Anybody who wants to find out that detail can do so just as easily as I did, so no spoilers from me, but I think anybody familiar with Crooked Timber discussions should find the answer unsurprising.

I also pay respect to nastywoman for this comment:

@88
”…Clinton…”

Who is this ”Clinton” person and why is somebody here writing about somebody called ”Clinton”?

I have evidence AND it is A FACT that this post IS about a F… Moron called ”Trump”?

I know I have previously made remarks about nastywoman’s comments being largely incomprehensible; but in this case the meaning is plenty clear, and right on the money.

182

Donald Johnson 10.17.17 at 4:13 am

I didn’t go back to see who first mentioned Clinton, but the point made by at least a few of us is that Clinton is only important at this point as a representative of a broad segment of the Beltway crowd that is constantly pushing for more military intervention, either directly or by proxy, and that some of the opposition to Trump doesn’t come from antiwar types, but from people who don’t trust him to warmonger in a competent way.

If people want a sane non- militaristic foreign policy it’s going to take more than just opposition to Trump. You are also going to have to oppose some of Trump’s opponents in both parties. The one time Trump received positive feedback and praise from many in the Beltway was when he bombed Syria.

183

J-D 10.17.17 at 5:20 am

Donald Johnson
Right or wrong, how is that comment supposed to be relevant to the topic of discussion?

184

nastywoman 10.17.17 at 5:25 am

– and there might be an excuse for this Mario-dude? – as he lives in Germany –
Right?
Probably even Berlin? –
– and there are still a lot of these old 68ger types there – who used to protest against some ”evil Americans” and then would have loved to move – or they actually moved to California – and joined some Hippie Colony – and after that didn’t work out as well as they thought they had to move back to Berlin -(or anyway else in Germany) now sitting around tables and telling everybody their ”Kriegserlebnisse” –
and for sure I’m just joking -(again!) – as these old German-(American?) dudes still dream about ”teh revolution” and write hilarious stuff like ”Satan streak” – and then have the nerve (too) to excuse – kind off – the worst F… Moron by seriously? stating ”he has less blood on his Hands” than… who…?

Dagobert Duck??!

185

Collin Street 10.17.17 at 5:55 am

Byzantine generals problem: a discussion cannot meaningfully survive active sabotage by more than a third of participants.

Which applies both to the discussion here and the topic as well.

186

bruce wilder 10.17.17 at 6:19 am

Lee A. Arnold @ 166

If XYZ does not exist, it doesn’t exist. If it does exist, it exists. I agree that in our present state of political disorganization among the broad mass, most people do not know much about constitutes a political issue. And, they don’t know what they want politically.

nastywoman @ 175

“Such… ”thinking” is as ”Alien” as blaming the kid who was mauled by a Pit Bull the other day – ”because so little stood in the Pit Bulls way and so little did ”compel him”.

“What type of… person – what type of people can think like that?!”

The kind of person who thinks dogs should be kept on a leash. The type of person who can think like that is highly intelligent, suave and debonair.

187

faustusnotes 10.17.17 at 6:44 am

Donald, I’m suggesting your link is wrong – you know, credible vs. non-credible sources. I gave evidence: his advisorship is not mentioned in his wikipedia profile, two corporate profiles about him, or the Clinton campaign’s announcement of its advisors.

This might seem like a minor beef but it’s painfully apparent that the Clinton haters hereabouts are ridiculously naive when it comes to information about Clinton’s wrong doing, and will use any fake news and right wing lies to bolster their case that she is uniquely horrible. At some point you’re going to have to recognize that your willingness to consistently be misled by any old dodgy rumour no matter how silly is perhaps a bad point, not a good point. Then maybe you’ll rethink your whole analysis. I’m here to point that out to you, and also to Obama haters like Steven t johnson up above. You can thank me when you have come to your senses, don’t worry, I can wait.

188

Layman 10.17.17 at 7:18 am

bruce wilder: “Now, we live in the shadow of Clinton’s defects: her defects gave us Trump.”

This is rather brilliant, meaning in effect that anything a President Clinton would have done is Clinton’s fault, and that anything a President Trump does is ALSO Clinton’s fault. Bravo!

Orange Watch: “Based on this and your prior comment, you’re asking for counterfactuals, because of course Clinton-the-non-President is not capable of being even as bad as let alone worse than Trump-the-President.”

This is lazy or evasive. You had expectations of both before the election, as you’ve said. You can recall your expectations of Trump and compare them with the actual Trump to judge that the actual one is worse, as you’ve said. Why can’t you recall your expectations of Clinton and compare them with the actual Trump?

Donald Johnson: “The evidence that Morell was one of Clinton’s advisors was in the link I provided…”

Nothing in that link says Morell was ever employed by either Clinton or the Clinton campaign. Though it calls him an advisor, it says he actually works for a Podesta think tank, and that he is one of many people Clinton ‘consulted’ with. If you’ve had a meeting with anyone from the campaign, you can call yourself an advisor to the campaign.

Donald Johnson: “…this is the third time your response is frustratingly beside the point…”

WTF is wrong with you? The point, my point, the only one I was trying to make, is that comments like this one, by novakant:

“The scary thing is that Clinton would have acted very similarly towards Iran and NK, in fact all the evidence suggests she might have been even more bellicose.”

…are absolute nonsense, and can only be uttered by people who ignore her entire record. This is not even intended as a defense of her record, just an appeal to incorporate reality into one’s rhetoric. Now that I’ve agreed with you that Clinton is a hawk, and now that we’re in wild agreement that regardless of that Trump is worse, can we move on?

Donald Johnson: “I didn’t go back to see who first mentioned Clinton.”

Yes, that’s damned obvious, isn’t it?

189

TM 10.17.17 at 7:52 am

Several commenters here on CT predicted during the campaign that Trump was going to be a break with neocon militarism. They are now exposed as gullible fools. Incredibly, they still continue pontificating here that it’s all the fault of Clinton. You know what, get stuffed. You were wrong and have learned nothing. You have no business lecturing the rest of us.

Donald Johnson, just in case you missed it, you lost the Morell/Clinton argument. Layman is entirely correct and you are wrong.

DJ 182: “If people want a sane non- militaristic foreign policy it’s going to take more than just opposition to Trump.” As an observation, this is as correct as it is trivial. I think everybody here is aware that opposition to Trump alone won’t bring us eternal peace. So what is the point of stating a banality? I suspect your intention is not to promote antimilitarism but to discredit the opposition to Trump. In 161, I pointed out that militarism has immense popular support. If people want a sane non-militaristic foreign policy it’s going to take more than just opposition to “Washington elites” or “the establishment” or the “Beltway crowd”. You’d have to take on the American people as well. It won’t be easy but you have to start somewhere, perhaps preventing trump from pushing the nuclear button would be a first step?

190

TM 10.17.17 at 8:26 am

Jerry 158: The observation that there is a great deal of continuity between Trump and the GOP mainstream is hardly a revolutionary breakthrough in political science. Somebody as centrist as Paul Krugman (sometimes maligned as a neoliberal traitor in these quarters) has pointed out many times that Trump’s economic policy priorities (see my 156) are a continuation of longstanding GOP desires. The disagreement seems to be whether it’s possible to hold two thoughts in one’s mind simultaneously – that Trump represents both continuity with and a dramatic worsening of the reactionary tendencies in place.

Once again I have to ask whether some people here have ever heard of this thing called history? Would you not agree that there was a great deal of continuity between Hitler and his predecessors? Antisemtisim, militarism and revanchism didn’t appear out of the blue in 1930s Germany. Anybody with minimum awareness of history knows this. And anybody with minimum awareness of history also knows that many contemporary observers (including the communists) understimated the threat of fascism because they saw it as just more of the same.

Let me propose a Godwin law corollary: Whenever an argument is made why Trump isn’t as dangerous as his critics claim (and that is explicitly the argument that CR and others here have made), and a similar argument could have been made about Hitler, then that argument is fallacious.

191

J-D 10.17.17 at 9:20 am

bruce wilder
There is a word for the kind of person who, on seeing a small child mauled by a pit bull, blames the child for not keeping the dog on a leash; but the word is not one of those you suggested.

192

Soru 10.17.17 at 9:53 am

The only political theory Trump ever needed was an update to the old LBJ anecdote.

Trump (tweeting): I fucked a pig

Aide: Is that true?

Trump: maybe, maybe not. I just want that bitch to spend time accusing me of it.

193

nastywoman 10.17.17 at 10:12 am

@186
”The kind of person who thinks dogs should be kept on a leash. The type of person who can think like that is highly intelligent, suave and debonair.”

So I’m ”highly intelligent, suave and debonair” as I think that dogs should be kept on a leash”?
And I kind of like your idea to keep the F… Moron on a leash – but I don’t know what the American people would think about it? -(besides the ones he already has ”mauled”)

They might blame you – and then you would have to tell them: It’s all this Clinton persons fault?

194

kidneystones 10.17.17 at 11:30 am

Why are people still talking about Clinton? In general, because Clinton won’t shut up. She’s as hungry for a microphone and the spotlight as the conservative in question. Which is ironic considering that her aversion to the press and the public as a candidate helped cost her the election. Now, she can’t stop talking. Bannon would willingly bankroll the book tour and undoubtedly wants her to remain in the spotlight through 2018. Indeed, Bannon is banking on making Hillary a key part of Trump’s re-election in 2020, as role she looks all too eager to fill. Chew on that as you gaze into the future.

Why are people talking about Hillary here, on a thread about Trump and conservatism? Because a plausible argument can be made that Hillary is more of conservative than Trump, at least in terms of neo-conservative politics. She has, after all, two neo-con wars under her belt already and enjoys good relations with all the really wrong people. Her avarice and willingness to tell tales are at least comparable to Trump’s. But perhaps the best reason Hillary belongs here is because many believe that had a less conservative Democrat than Hillary run (Bernie, for example), Dems would have won and Donald Trump would be yesterday’s news.

To get a sense of what the Democratic future looks like, here’s a very recent interview with Hillary which I think is illustrative of the level of disconnect between supporters (like me) who felt strongly enough about her candidacy in 2008 to endure accusations of racism from Obama supporters, yet turned from her to Trump by 2015, and those who still support her for reasons that make a great deal of sense (to them).

The interview with Hillary about Hillary runs 45 minutes on Australian TV with a transcript. Take away – Trump figures bigly and in the most unflattering terms, so much for graciousness in defeat. The Access Hollywood tape is discussed in great detail, as is Comey, and the Russians. The words Wall St; Goldman Sachs, Libya, and Syria are never mentioned. In Hillary-world Michigan, Wisconsin, and Bernie Sanders merit a mention each and only in a very specific context. We get David Duke, the Klu Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists; pizzas – and pure deflection when the discussion turns to Bill, Chelsea, gifts; and cash. In short, she hasn’t much of a good word to say about anyone.

Here’s a sampling for the still faithful.

“…Russians actually paid in rubles for running ads in ah Facebook and on Twitter making all kinds of accusations against me, working to suppress voters which is a really important part of the equation…” (suppress voters, or decrease turnout? The latter fits better, imho.)

Interviewer: “Is it, is it the case that you missed the fundamentally angry sentiment in the US last year against globalisation?

HILLARY CLINTON: I didn’t miss it…”

Interviewer: “Was it in some ways your links to big money politics that made it difficult for you to be the representative of that anger ?

HILLARY CLINTON: No, not at all! … You know, when I was in the primary, Bernie Sanders couldn’t explain his programs. I was the one who was saying here’s what we’re going to do to the banks…”

One mere mention of Wisconsin: “we know is that the false information was aimed at Wisconsin and Michigan and parts of Pennsylvania…”

And folks wonder how she lost.

http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/hillary-clinton:-the-interview/9055256

195

TM 10.17.17 at 11:51 am

kidney, why don’t you explain us how Trump’s sabotaging of the Iran agreement and his general militarism is evidence of the clean break with neocon militarism you kept fantasizing about during the campaign, instead of serving us more reheated off-topic BS?

196

nastywoman 10.17.17 at 12:28 pm

@194
We need you more and more with such valuable information:

”Bannon would willingly bankroll the book tour and undoubtedly wants her to remain in the spotlight through 2018.” Indeed, Bannon is banking on making Hillary a key part of Trump’s re-election in 2020, as role she looks all too eager to fill.”

Really?

A friend of mine -(also ”a proud ”Leninist”) – tried to get in contact with Mr. Bannon in order to help him to overthrow the US government but somehow Bannon wouldn’t take his call – and this friend of ours was very disappointed – but as you are… might I say ”on the inside of the revolution” could you help me to help this friend of ours – as he has this De Tomaso Mangusta from 1969 and he probably would let me drive ”the beast” if I would do him the favor that he can have -just a short chat with a fellow ”Leninist”?
-(you might know how much these dudes have the hots for each other)

And then you could come with me on the joyride – and doing it on a German Autobahn – going ”Voll Stoff”- I can promise – you would completely forget all about this Clinton person…

197

Corey Robin 10.17.17 at 12:30 pm

This thread has run its course. I had hoped we could have a serious discussion about Trump, free of the invective that so often pervades this topic. Instead, I find myself having to delete comments or prevent comments from coming out of moderation, and even so, the thread still descends into a version of the conversations you find on Reddit or other partisan blogs. My apologies to those of you who tried. Comments are now closed.

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