Trump and tribalism

by John Quiggin on May 23, 2016

Watching the rapid consolidation of the Republican Party around the candidacy of Donald Trump, I’ve tried to make sense of this in terms of the “three party system” analysis I presented a few months ago. I saw the Republicans as the “hard neoliberal” party relying on the votes of (white Christian) tribalists and making symbolic gestures in their direction, but largely ignoring them, particularly if their interests came into conflict with those of big business.

What’s become clear since then, I think, is that the Republican Party apparatus (politicians and party officials) is more tribalist than this analysis suggested. Faced with the prospect of electing their hated tribal enemy, Hillary Clinton, as President, the vast majority look like backing Trump (some, but not all of them, holding their nose as they do so).

From a hard neoliberal viewpoint, this makes no sense. Clinton’s Democratic Leadership Council background is that of the stereotypical soft neoliberal. Her candidacy is the best chance of maintaining the long-running alternation in office between the hard and soft variants of neoliberalism. Admittedly, she will be pulled to the left by the general shift exemplified by the Sanders insurgency, but she is unlikely to do anything that would fundamentally undermine capitalism. By contrast, a Trump takeover of the Republican Party would be a disaster for neoliberalism (which does *not* mean it would be good for the left). That would be the inevitable result of a Trump victory. Even a creditable defeat, which would be blamed on the old establishment, could leave the tribalists in control of the organization.

The only groups where the #NeverTrump analysis seems to hold sway are the business donor class and the remnants of the rightwing intelligentsia (hard to believe they were carrying all before them only 20 years ago). The donors obviously have no interest in throwing money at someone like Trump. As for the intelligentsia, even if they were willing to embrace Trump, it’s obvious he has no use for any but the most total hacks, and not even many of those.

{ 475 comments }

1

Placeholder 05.23.16 at 8:52 am

This is an idealist-essentialist critique of what the Republican party Actually Believes. The client’s lawyer knows it is not his job to ‘believe’ anything except what his client needs him to believe right now.

The GOP was the party of universal absorption into big business when big business had the enough money to do that and what’s the harm in a little liberalism that the elite class frequently believes for itself spreading around? At the point of an existential crisis in the capitalist system, resort to the vulgarest nationalism and maybe even throw the people the odd bone of ‘free stuff’ to ensure the survival of the system as a whole.

2

BenK 05.23.16 at 10:23 am

It isn’t clear what is so difficult to understand. You have the framework in some sense right. People who have been convincingly disrespected over the past 10 years or so are very unhappy; people who have insulated themselves from disrespect, either by some sort of membership in the intellectual class or by the purchase of respect, are much less so. Trump alone seems willing and able to shrug off the sneers, mockery, outrage, and accusations of the disrespectful to stand with the disrespected. The disrespectful and abusive have no way to actively disrupt Trump’s support except through additional scorn, creating a feedback loop that strengthens the support. They certainly can’t turn around and suddenly offer authentic respect… Hillary just looks silly apologizing to coal miners for trumpeting how she will destroy them to a man, for example.

3

Lee A. Arnold 05.23.16 at 10:23 am

John Quiggin: “a Trump takeover of the Republican Party would be a disaster for neoliberalism”

Why?

4

engels 05.23.16 at 11:06 am

the split is between pro-establishment and anti-establishment

Yes that’s how I used to see things when I was 15 years old too

5

bruce wilder 05.23.16 at 11:14 am

What will trouble Republican politicians in the main is whether Trump will have any effect downballot. They don’t want his candidacy to turn into a sweep that loses the House or State legislatures or Governorships. Holding one’s nose and prayer seem the only reasonable plays for them.

Meanwhile, Sanders lost. Hillary Clinton, with all the diplomatic skill she learned bombing Libya, will not “move left” anymore suckers, thank you very much. She will not court the Sanders-or-bust set, she will court out-of-office Republicans disaffected by Trump in the hope of risk reduction, but will do little or nothing for the Democratic Party downballot. The Democrats will win a bare majority of the Senate in November, but fall well short in the House and in the States.

Obama, after the election, will push thru his right-wing Supreme Court choice and his TPP trade treaty — neoliberalism marches on, unbowed and unbroken.

The crisis of political legitimacy revealed by Sanders and Trump, as well as the electoral and, especially, legislative impotence of those so-called movements will have been fully demonstrated — their mark on American politics will be a further depression of political participation.

Clinton, with no support from the liberal Democratic base which is legislatively impotent anyway and with no support from Republican mainstream conservatives who are her soulmates, will not be able to govern effectively. Economic crisis and foreign crises will demonstrate the debility dramatically. Democratic leadership efforts to alienate young Sanders voters will be wildly successful; the courting of pro-business conservatives and the related donor-base by the grifter-Dems in charge of the Democratic Party apparatus, less so.

6

kidneystones 05.23.16 at 11:48 am

Several points. I see no evidence anywhere suggesting those clustering around Trump are any less or more tribal than those clustering around other political figures in any country. If this year has taught us anything it’s that voters are behaving in ways that frighten and surprise establishment elites in government, media, and international business.

The people who appear to know least about Republican voters are self-appointed high priests of conservatism, better understood as grifters, who pump out quackery to justify shaking down the rubes and exploiting the weak.

Wall St., Big-Pharma, and international sweat-shop owners, such as Apple do what they always do – pay to play and, as such, have already poured 50 million into the coffers of the Clintons, betting sensibly that the fix was in. Others just as happily funneled millions to Bush and the other non-Trump candidates. Both Sanders and Trump have the elites running scared.

It’s far too early to write Sanders off. I’ve seen a number of Sanders is better against Trump pieces recently and there’s always the outside chance that in a contested convention a clown like Biden might show up to ‘unify’ a party that’s far more deeply fractured than the Republicans. In short: anything might happen. It will absolutely be a change election – but how that change materializes, if real change occurs are very clearly still unknowns.

I’d prefer Sanders, but can live with Trump. No HRC under any circumstances no matter what, at this point. Had Cruz won the Republican nomination, she’d be the better choice.

But anyone who manages to alienate Bill Kristol, Robert Kagan, the ne0-cons, the Bushes, and the NRO must be doing something right.

7

bruce wilder 05.23.16 at 12:16 pm

Franco is still dead and there is still no alternative.

Neither Sanders nor Trump were ever vital, viable alternatives; as phenomena, they showed a popular level of discontent, an appetite for change, but they also showed how limited, almost formless that demand was, in the sense of being backed by new personnel.

The Republican Party managed a generational shift when Obama came in, but the Dems are doing theirs now. Clinton will get elected, but with the least Party and independent support ever. This is the end of the line for a type of Dem Presidential politics.

And, it is the end of the line for old-line political media, too. Fox News has a terrible demo. Morning Joe has no audience. Trump’s most important contribution to date may be his demonstration that the gotcha Wurlitzer can no longer take a candidate out the way, say, Howard Dean was thrown out.

Endings are beginnings, almost by definition, but American politics is putting a lot more effort into the ending part at the moment. This is a politics of demolition.

8

engels 05.23.16 at 12:27 pm

It’s far too early to write Sanders

The lack of serious interest in Sanders on this blog (posters and most commenters included) and has been thoroughly depressing.

9

kidneystones 05.23.16 at 12:31 pm

@7 You’re right about a lot of stuff, so it’s surprising to see you make quite so many contestable claims in the same comment. It’s not the end of the line for ‘old-time political media.’ That change started occurring a decade or so ago and has, in a sense, been a constant process driven principally by technologies. And the change extends far beyond politics. What may be new is an increasing fragmentation of audiences as virtual communities and environments appear.

JQ is entirely right about tribalism in so far as the these environments are concerned. There was an article, btw, on the 50-cent community in China who receive a bounty for every pro-government comment they post on the internet. Print media has never, imsnho, been so important – a good newspaper provides conflicting-contrasting news and opinion on the same page, rather than news tailored to preferences by algorithm.

The times are indeed interesting. But I wouldn’t rule out positive change just yet. I think many would prefer bespoke to robot-produced goods. People have forgotten the meaning of the first part of the word ‘manufacture.’ I’m sure some will welcome a reminder. I enjoy working with my hands, at least some of the time. Many will want to make time and space for real life, rather than virtual reality. We just need to get used to the idea again.

10

bianca steele 05.23.16 at 12:35 pm

Bruce is right that this is probably the end of something: the Republican coalition and the left as we’ve known it (whatever that is). The Democratic coalition ended a couple-few decades ago and we haven’t got a replacement yet.

Neoliberalism doesn’t exist except on the editorial pages of national publications and in academic departments. Democratic politicians appear neoliberal because they care more about those places and their ideas and make some effort not to be embarrassed by not knowing about it. Republican pundits claim “seriousness” as a “conservative” value and try to persuade themselves and their donors that they care about ideas, but they would be crushed if they ventured too far from the keyboard among those who are supposedly “their kind”. Everyone thinks, simultaneously, that the Democrats have enjoyed hegemony since WWII, and that you need to be a Republican not to be a silly revolutionary. And somehow there’s a magic set of levers and gears that will compel the existing parties to generate correct utilitarian policies.

11

Anarcissie 05.23.16 at 2:14 pm

I read somewhere that Trump and Clinton were now polling about even. If so, I don’t think anyone can assume that Clinton will win. Indeed, given their relative skills as office-seeking politicians, as recently demonstrated, probability seems to lie in the other direction.

12

jake the antisoshul soshulist 05.23.16 at 2:20 pm

I have come to think that this may be an unusually anti-establishment election cycle.
If the Democratic Party’s primary season had been as fractured as the Republican Party’s, we would be seeing a Sanders vs. Trump general election. The Republican establishment was divided among several contenders. Cruz and Trump were running as insurgents, but Cruz could only go so far, because he knew he would need the establisment to have a chance to win the general election. Trump felt he had no such restraint. By the time that
Cruz was the last non-Trump standing, it was too late for the establishment to pull him
through. Now they are forced to fall behind Trump or face the almost certainty of HRC.
If there had not been a dominant establishment Democrat (HRC) and instead there were several semi viable contenders, Sanders would have likely built a big lead going into the convention. The Democratic establishment has a fail-safe in the superdelegates, but if Sanders had a large enough plurality, they made have felt the need to fall in behind him to prevent a Trumpidency.
@Biance Steele #9. What do you call what we have if not neo-liberalism?

13

Chuck Karish 05.23.16 at 2:23 pm

The scorecard I’use to tell the players:

Hard neoliberal: Unleash The Market and watch it do its magic!

Soft neoliberal: The Market is our engine of success, but it needs some guidance to make sure it does the right things and government needs to address some needs that The Market misses.

Tribalist: Politicians are all liars. The Establishment is my enemy. Anyone who is against The Establishment must be on my side.

14

bianca steele 05.23.16 at 2:31 pm

jake,

I was going to add something about “what we have”–I was talking, though, about what people believe, which I think is what JQ was talking about. I don’t think many people who have to live with “neoliberalism (as what we have)” believe “neoliberalism (as a more or less consistent set of beliefs).” Maybe, at most, bits and pieces of parts of it, and not other parts.

We have something that could be called neoliberalism (or a lot of other things), sure. I don’t know why that matters.

15

RNB 05.23.16 at 2:40 pm

If you run a global supply chain, or are Google caught up in the European courts, or Boeing or Hollywood trying to make global scales, or a military leader trying to work with Gulf elites in striking a terrorist network or Latin American police in the interdiction of drugs, Trump is a pain in the ass. His jingoism poisons the waters.

But Wall Street may like Trump’s pledge to repeal Dodd-Frank. A lot of business is domestic and may like his promise to end socialized medicine. Of course Trump is just a lot overall better on taxes for the wealthy. He’s mending fences. The FT survey which showed business opposition to Trump had a really small sample size.

He may be a disaster for an ill-defined neoliberalism, but he may still get a lot of support from businesses and the wealthy.

Meanwhile Hillary Clinton’s may nominate Thomas Perez as VP. Her commitment to neoliberalism may not be as hard as the OP suggests.

16

RNB 05.23.16 at 2:44 pm

Let’s not forget how much of Trump’s craziness is just normal Republican politics. Cruz and the rest already brought the US to the brink of default. Trump’s threat to restructure debt through a kind of bankruptcy is just Republican politics at this point. They were already upsetting the normal flow of neoliberalism. He may have created the birther movement but the Republicans ran with it to make the President illegitimate so that they did not have to compromise with him, making him an ineffective president. The noncooperation on the budge and Court appointments was all justified by not treating the President as legitimate, i.e. as if he were a Muslim socialist interloper. Trump is just a normal Republican in this way.

17

bianca steele 05.23.16 at 2:50 pm

RNB @ 14

The problem, for sensible people, is that a bunch of people seem to think the problem is a political version of what Paul Krugman calls “the confidence fairies.” They seem to think that the problem is we have the wrong kind of government, the wrong kind of people in power, etc., and thus the economy and stuff is falling apart. Therefore, they propose pushing the government farther to the right and making religion more important.

Some left neoliberals (maybe what the OP means by “soft neoliberals”) misread this argument. They see the argument that “you have to listen to people (who are naturally mostly on the right, because the right is conservative, and conservative means history and tradition, and most people live in places where things don’t change much and where they don’t have much access to the media world where things change faster),” and they read, “we can stay in power if we give a little more voice to traditional voices, and in fact we ought to recognize that a lot of truth comes from traditional voices, maybe that most or all voices are traditional.” But this isn’t going to get them what they want.

18

bianca steele 05.23.16 at 3:10 pm

me @ 15

Obviously Marx helps you out there a little bit, but unfortunately it’s the part of Marx (where some of the people are on the right but some, namely those closest to bad capitalism, are on the left) that no one but left-liberal me seems interested in, for some reason. Instead the popular part seems to be the part that says everything associated with capitalism, and everything capitalism introduced, except machinery and efficiency-thinking, is bad, and the people (being conservative and numerous) can take over the machinery and the computers and run them on conservative principles and everything will be happy and nice.

19

RNB 05.23.16 at 3:20 pm

@15. Not following. If neoliberalism means austerity politics and rejection of Keynesian aggregate demand management, Clinton who will issue new govt debt for a whole host of problems is not neoliberal. Congress may stymie her, but she’s not an austerity candidate. Trump is much more likely to be the austerity candidate despite populist appeals about social security.

20

Marc 05.23.16 at 3:24 pm

We’ll have a much better idea about the shape of the race when the parallel consolidation on the Democratic side has occurred. I think that prospects for Trump are poor, with rich backers refusing to write him checks; he actually doesn’t appear to either have the money or the inclination to truly self-fund.

Why aren’t politicians refusing to back a catastrophic candidate? The basic problem is that Republican voters prefer Trump and they have a well-documented record of ditching politicians in primaries when they cross the primary voters.

I actually hope that Trump is crushed and drags the party down, in large part because it will make the utterly untenable nature of the current situation clear. My biggest fear is that Clinton is a sufficiently poor candidate that she may not be able to capitalize on what should be a huge opportunity.

21

RNB 05.23.16 at 3:29 pm

I am not sure Clinton is a poor candidate but what any woman candidate will look like after the Republicans run negative ads for a couple of years. Not long ago Clinton had a high favorability rating. She is liked when she is not running to be Chief Commander (sexism is part of her negative rating); and the manufactured scandals about the emails and Benghazi did her great damage. The Republican machine will swift boat any candidate they are worried about. Presently they are not worried about Sanders and want him to do maximum damage to Clinton.

22

bianca steele 05.23.16 at 3:36 pm

RNB,

I assume JQ means “soft neoliberal” to mean something like “willing to consider Keynesian demand policies, not an austerity politician.” The force of “neoliberal” is, economically speaking, “not committed to a Tobin tax,” “not committed to destroying the power of the financial industry,” etc. (Though if a Tobin tax were widely enough accepted by mainstream economists, a soft neoliberal would probably consider it, and then would be attacked from the left again, quite reasonably, after the tax had passed.)

“Neoliberal” also seems to be a measure of her personality. She gets along with people who make high salaries. She isn’t someone who’s always questioning the status quo. She puts pragmatics ahead of “values” an awful lot of the time.

Where Trump seems to be an old-fashioned strongman who moves people (or, actually, claims to move people) by the strength of his will and self-assurance. He can’t justify what he says in a way that’s consistent with neoliberalism (as an idea). But he seems to thrive in the world as it is, and he moves in that same economic atmosphere of rich, generally successful Americans–and, although maybe he’s not as “inside” in as many ways as he claims, he is “inside” that world in a way the Clintons never were and never will be.

Whereas Sanders and Stein (I think) live in the country and only do activities that can be justified morally. So they’re obviously opposed to “the status quo,” living in the (neoliberal) world only uncomfortably, in a way establishment candidates can’t claim.

23

RNB 05.23.16 at 3:41 pm

If neoliberalism meant Bill Clinton kowtowing to the offing bond markets by austerity politics, it’s possible that Hillary Clinton will kowtow to a bond market that is now pleading with the US govt to issue new debt. I mean even Larry Summers reads the bond markets as demanding a lot more US Treasuries. Again I have no idea what we mean by the terms neoliberal in either its soft or hard versions.

24

Yankee 05.23.16 at 3:45 pm

The hot weather sure do bring out the skeeters.

25

Lupita 05.23.16 at 3:51 pm

@Marc

I actually hope that Trump is crushed and drags the party down, in large part because it will make the utterly untenable nature of the current situation clear.

I don’t agree that it follows that, by crushing Trump, his positions will be regarded as untenable, that is, that by defeating Trump, Trumpism will be defeated. The anti-neoliberal movement is just beginning in the West and will gain momentum with each financial crisis, privatization, bank failure, Ponzi scheme, new emission of debt, terrorist attack, invasion, and refugee crisis.

Trump is just a manifestation of the problem, not the problem itself, which is global.

26

NG 05.23.16 at 3:57 pm

Why would a Trump presidency be a disaster for neoliberals? Maybe he isn’t a “hard neoliberal”, but I guess he’s at least a soft one. If Republicans like his policies on non-economic issues, it’s not obvious why they should prefer Clinton to Trump.

27

Rich Puchalsky 05.23.16 at 3:58 pm

JQ links to a post explaining what he means, complete with definitions, in the first paragraph of the OP. Of course it’s more fun to keep asking him what he means, I guess.

I predict that business donors will line up for Trump (although there is more than one type of important business donor as I went through in comments here recently), that Sanders voters will fall in line for HRC, and that everyone will in the end take their assigned places in the system.

28

Lupita 05.23.16 at 4:07 pm

@NG

Why would a Trump presidency be a disaster for neoliberals?

His positions on continued mass immigration and trade treaties, if implemented, would have a devastating effect on GDP growth and the global financial system would certainly implode and, with it, Western hegemony.

29

Lupita 05.23.16 at 4:10 pm

Weakening NATO wouldn’t help either, since military force is vital in keeping the system in place.

30

Marc 05.23.16 at 4:16 pm

@20: By a poor candidate I mean one in the classical sense, namely that she just isn’t very charismatic. She’s frankly admitted that this is true, by the way. She steps over her own applause lines in speeches, rattles off long dull laundry lists, and comes across as evasive even when she hasn’t done anything wrong (e.g. on the emails). She has trouble connecting with voters in general because of these traits as much as because of her long history of negative attacks from Republicans. She also doesn’t have very strong political instincts, as witnessed by things like the Iraq War vote and her performance in the 2008 primary season. And the tendency to brush all critiques of her off as “because she’s woman” doesn’t convince anyone who is not already in her corner, quite apart from whether or not it’s true.

I’ve always viewed her as being very much in the Democratic party mainstream on economic issues and more liberal on social issues. She would only appear to be conservative relative to people who are quite far to the left in the US political spectrum (which, to be fair, would include most people here). She does appear to be pretty hawkish on foreign policy, unfortunately, and doesn’t appear to have learned much from Iraq except the need to use more soldiers and more force.

31

Rich Puchalsky 05.23.16 at 4:21 pm

Lupita: “His positions on continued mass immigration and trade treaties, if implemented”

But really, they won’t be. I mean, they could, but it’s very unlikely. I realize that you’re not living in the U.S., but I think you’re taking some of the posturing going on on all sides at face value.

Look at what happens in the U.S. when a Democratic President takes office, even complete with Democratic control of the House and Senate. Somehow they are still nearly powerless, or that is what they tell their supporters. The U.S. government supposedly has all sorts of places at which you need a legislative supermajority or a powerful mass movement or control of the Supreme Court to actually make important changes. This is in part true, but mostly it’s true that this is a convenient excuse for not doing what elites don’t want done.

So let’s assume that Trump gets into office. Does he suddenly get dictatorial powers? No. All of the same impediments are there for him as for any other President. He can’t actually abrogate trade treaties. He can act as Congress’ agent in trade negotiations, but that’s it. The President also can not really change things with immigration sufficiently to have it have a macroeconomic effect, although millions of people can be made more miserable.

The people who want everyone to believe that Trump in office would become a superfascist capable of getting dictatorial powers have a clear motive in trying to get people to believe this, but I see no sign that it’s actually true.

32

milx 05.23.16 at 4:30 pm

I disagree about Hillary’s hawkishness. I think she did learn from Iraq and that she would be extremely reticent to open up a large scale boots-on-the-ground invasion (carefully distinguishing this from what she is likely to inherit from Obama – small scale boots-on-the-ground operations in Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, etc). She would be an interventionist and I would expect her to continue drone strikes in aforementioned countries (and I guess Pakistan now) and if NATO asked the US to participate in toppling a genocidal dictator I think she’d participate. But notably this would be no different from President Obama’s level of hawkishness (the ‘deadly consequences’ of her suggested no fly zone in Syria are imo a bit hysterical) and I suspect not notably different from a theoretical President Sanders foreign policy. If anything, I imagine she has the wherewithal to make unpopular w/ the military choices whereas Sanders seems likely to pull an LBJ and sign off on whatever the generals put in front of him so he could concentrate on domestic. Most importantly, the parts of the left that believe President Trump would be less bellicose & less disastrous in foreign affairs than Hillary are totally psychotic. I would anticipate new wars with President Trump, and pray that he doesn’t decide this is an excellent time to use those nuclear codes and see what we can shake loose.

33

bianca steele 05.23.16 at 4:30 pm

So let’s assume that Trump gets into office.

If Trump gets into office, all bets are off. Maybe the Secret Service, or whoever, tells him what’s what? How does that work? Most likely, he makes personal calls to world leaders and tries to pressure people like the president of Mexico into a “deal.” He tries to pressure the Speaker into a deal, etc. Probably he wastes a lot of time ignoring the usual levers of power and being ignored by domestic politicians. I don’t know what happens then. Are there people, somewhere, who are going to listen to him, the way a CEO expects everyone to listen to him? (I once worked at a place where some of the people were somewhat naive, and someone once suggested I could get an extension on my academic work if the CEO of the company called up the Dean and explained things to him. That’s how I figure Trump imagines things.)

34

RNB 05.23.16 at 4:36 pm

JQ links to an earlier post as RP helpfully reminds: “the central theme is the inevitability and desirability of a globalised capitalism, dominated by the financial sector. The difference between the two versions turns essentially on whether this requires destruction of the welfare state or merely “reform”, along the lines undertaken by the Clinton Administration.”
But it’s Trump who wants to repeal Dodd-Frank, so he’s the neo-liberal here. And there are people on the left who think that Sanders’ breaking up the banks is actually neo-liberal in form and will do little to solve the problems of shadow banking and derivatives and that Clinton’s regulations will do more to regulate the banks than even Sanders would, much less Trump.
So that leaves globalization. Well everyone is flailing away here. We’re not going back from global supply chains. People can beat up the poorest of immigrants and they thump their chests about currency manipulation. But the tribalists will not reverse global capitalism.
So I think there is an argument that Trump even by this limited definition of neo-liberalism (see David Kotz for an alternative definition) would turn out to be more neo-liberal than Clinton would.

35

RNB 05.23.16 at 4:39 pm

@31 I no longer feel alone here. milx makes the points better than I do.

36

Rich Puchalsky 05.23.16 at 5:02 pm

NAFTA is unusual since it has special withdrawal language in it, but in general, this is an untested area of politics in that no one is entirely sure what happens if the President says “Trade Agreement X no longer applies” and Congress says “Oh yes it does” or possibly even “We can’t vote to say that it doesn’t apply because we’ve been blocked procedurally.” No is entirely sure what happens because, as far as I know, this has never happened. If elites actually don’t like it, there’s sure a lot that could happen within normal American political routines.

Presidents have in recent terms been doing more and more by executive order because they can. They can because no one cares to use the levers of power against them. If elites wanted to use these levers, they are still there.

37

Dipper 05.23.16 at 5:09 pm

As a Brit its none of my business who the US elects. However the big risk for the rest of the world (apart from mad person with finger on the button) is disengagement from the rest of the world by an isolationist US president. That will be bad news for the US and everyone else. Once the responsible adult is out of the room, the children will start to fight amongst themselves. Quite which one of the two (likely) candidates is the responsible adult is another question.

38

Glen Tomkins 05.23.16 at 5:14 pm

I certainly would not claim that ideology and the public policy dictated by ideology is irrelevant to US politics today. But I think that the dominant force in both US parties is institutional inertia, and that’s how you understand this cycle’s events.

Of course the Rs are consolidating around Trump. After a scare caused by the prospect that this serial discarder of their dog whistles was going to run away with their nomination, the fears of the conventional Rs have been almost completely allayed. The entire reason for being of the R establishment’s office-holder wing and its media wing is the supposed need for dog whistles, that the various fears and hatreds the party uses to win elections need to be expressed to get the base to the polls, but the expression has to be done very artfully, so as not to scare off moderate voters. Not just any amateur can do this, it takes art. Well, that whole pleasant arrangement was threatened by Trump, who just expressed the most extreme racism openly, and then failed to be slapped down by the R electorate.

Having secured the nomination through this disintermediation of the dog-whistlers, Trump’s success at that then posed this dilemma for conventional Rs. Either their entire approach to politics was right, and their candidate, however successful at securing the R nomination with the R electorate, would go down in flames when he played his shtick to the general electorate; or their entire approach to politics was obsolete, and just openly owning all the prejudice and nativism they had long used to win elections was all an R candidate needed. No need for the art of dog-whistling. Thus, no need for conventional R office-holders or media figures.

But now, in precisely the time frame expected, just after securing the nomination, Trump has changed course. The course change is not the traditional move to the ideological center, rather, it’s a shift towards the conventional approach to winning a general election. He’s announced that he will take money from the usual suspect donors. He thereby is basically renouncing his former radical method of being heard by just saying things he means, and accepted conventional messaging, which is the avoidance of saying what you mean. He’s had his people walk back the most radical of his proposals, the wall and the deportation of 11 million, and with an explanation, that’s everything he’s said has been sort of symbolic, that can cover everything he’s ever said. Trump has, at least for now, unless this is just a head fake, reverted to conventional methods of winning the general election, and thereby removed the threat to conventional Rs. Of course they’re falling in line. Ideology has nothing to do with any of it, at least not for the professionals among them.

The Sanders-Clinton divide is similar, but much less stark. Sanders has leaned towards saying radical things, but his entire career as a basically predictable and conventional D politician argues against any worry on the part of professional Ds that he will disintermediate them. They still pretty solidly back Clinton, but Sanders has never really been ahead in the horse race, so there has been much less reason for them to abandon the more conventional Clinton, even if their underlying preference is not nearly so strong as conventional Rs had against the apparently actually radical Trump. It would not have nearly so traumatic for them to switch to Sanders, had the D electorate chosen him instead of the more conventional Clinton.

39

alfredlordbleep 05.23.16 at 5:20 pm

Rich at 4:21 pm (“@30”)

You touch on the key point, and why we know journalism doesn’t work in this country.

To counteract as much as possible the personalities-before-policy operation of politics:
Everyday some entry of a truth table should consider what presidential powers are for the leading issues (affecting “the people” and “their rulers”). Namely how a president can act given the make-up of (various, future, possible) other branches of government. Particularly illustrate with executive orders (which have come to the fore with Obama’s second term). . . And end with a note of Bush-Cheney’s stacking the top of civil service at the end of their terms with the vicious persistence of memory.

40

Lupita 05.23.16 at 5:40 pm

@Rich Puchalsky

So let’s assume that Trump gets into office. Does he suddenly get dictatorial powers? No.

A president, Trump in this case, has considerable power in blocking, or simply not negotiating, new trade agreements. Since the system is predicated on continued growth and expansion, this alone could break the system. The same goes for the continued strengthening and expansion of NATO. Add to that Brexit, nationalist parties all over Europe, Russia, China, and imponderables such as natural and human disasters and, while Trump may not be The One, he could easily play a decisive part in bringing about the implosion of a system that is already teetering on its own.

41

bruce wilder 05.23.16 at 5:44 pm

RP @ 36

Constitutionally, the American office of the President is a weird chimera of 1.) a constitutional monarch functioning as a ceremonial head of state while department heads and Congress critters take care of real policy in committee, and 2.) a Roman Dictator, clothed in immense power, doing expediently whatever needs to be done to get the country thru a crisis and articulating sweeping rationalizations, which are then enacted over and over in policy.

Long before the present era, Presidents did some remarkable things. George Washington was able to establish a number of precedents that became part of the unwritten small-c constitution. Jefferson bought one-third of a continent for peanuts. Polk conquered another third. Lincoln did sweeping things by proclamation, including the oft-noted Emancipation Proclamation but also less oft-noted policies like instituting a blockade of Southern ports and, for a time, imposing martial law and spending large sums without Congressional appropriation. He exiled a sitting, opposition Congressmen to Canada at one point — something Obama might wish he could do.

Congress eventually ratified Lincoln’s actions mostly, but that’s how politics works in dictator mode. What would be a series of hurdles in routine mode become a series of confirming ratifications of radical change in dictator mode. (Even where Lincoln was found out-of-bounds, as in the case of declaring martial law, things got changed in his direction — Congress has since delegated the power to declare martial law to Presidents.)

FDR, as was discussed on CT in regard to a couple of recent Rauchway posts, took the country off the gold standard and (arguably defaulted on gold bonds). By Presidential edict, he closed all the banks and prohibited citizens from even owning monetary gold. Again, the blockades of Congressional and Court checks became a series of confirmatory ratifications and reinforcements of radical change.

I think Presidents are able to do more by executive order in part because we have come to understand the Presidency as the country’s CEO. In 1787, the only models of executive authority was monarchy and military generalship. Periodically, successful generals got the office, but the idea of the successful businessman as a model and the President as a business boss is only as recent as the emergence of multinational business corporations. Herbert Hoover was probably the first President to claim the office on the strength of his reputation as an efficiency-oriented executive and technocrat. It is not an experiment we have repeated much, but the idea that the President is the boss has become increasingly influential. (It is largely a false idea. Most of us have no experience anywhere near the C-suites and probably underestimate the extent to which those roles require the skills of a politician combined with the instinct to avoid interfering with the machine as long as it seems to be working.)

The other reasons the President relies more on executive orders has to do with the way responsible power has been draining out of Congress. Back in the day, Congressmen gained some degrees of freedom from being at the nexus of political conflict among opposing interests. If you were on the Banking committees, the big city investment banks would come to you; then the local banks, then the savings and loans, then the insurance companies, then the stock brokers, then the local chamber of commerce, then some do-gooder reform groups, and they would all press their conflicting agendas and desiderata — the key word being, “conflicting”. That doesn’t happen anymore. Congress critters are spokesmodels. Lobbyists commanding vast sums and deep staffs dictate legislation and their important clients have been winnowed by corporate homogenization and simple reduction of numbers. Universal banks unite insurance companies, brokerage, investment banking, commercial banking and probably fund that do-gooder reform group at least intermittently as well; and six or so dominate the banking sector.

42

Lupita 05.23.16 at 5:50 pm

@ Dipper

the big risk for the rest of the world (apart from mad person with finger on the button) is disengagement from the rest of the world by an isolationist US president. That will be bad news for the US and everyone else. Once the responsible adult is out of the room, the children will start to fight amongst themselves

Civilized people no longer invoke the white man’s burden (Half devil and half child) to justify empire. Nowadays, we talk about growth, econometrics, confidence in markets, and independent central banks. Other popular dog whistles would be responsibility to protect, humanitarian aid, freedom and democracy. Please keep up with the times!

43

alfredlordbleep 05.23.16 at 5:54 pm

bruce wilder “@42”

“2.) a Roman Dictator, . . . ”

Reminder: the Roman Republic’s constitutional dictator (no oxymoron) was a very interesting and superior (temporary) office. Defended by Machiavelli (Discourses) and in very marked contrast, for example, to Reagan’s secret war contrary to Boland amendment.

44

milx 05.23.16 at 5:58 pm

There are two prospective empires that have already demonstrated a desire to increase their footprint (in the South China Sea and Crimea respectively). Withdrawing from NATO and our Pacific alliances would likely elicit more such behavior unless we have decided that eg Putin is not as ambitious as advertised and has no designs on, say, Ukraine, Georgia, other former Eastern Europe bloc states.

45

bruce wilder 05.23.16 at 6:04 pm

alfredlordbleep @ 44

Yeah, that Sulla was a grand fellow.

46

Marc 05.23.16 at 6:05 pm

Back to the alleged topic of the OP: The Republican establishment is falling in line behind Trump because that’s what the primary voters want, and they will defeat any candidate in the next primary if they argue otherwise. Cowardice explains a lot of politics, and this relatively simple explanation is easier than elaborate theories of neoliberalism.

47

bruce wilder 05.23.16 at 6:07 pm

milx @ 45

Of course, we should strive to put ourselves into WWIII against Russia and China by being as aggressive as possible in asserting ourselves on their immediate peripheries in as bellicose a fashion as possible. What could go wrong?

48

milx 05.23.16 at 6:12 pm

Luckily we have options that fall between extreme bellicosity and isolationism. Anyway the most important question that your snark slides is whether it’s better to invite those aggressions and then try to figure out how to deal with them or keep the current mostly successful structures in place and cut down on those events from the get-go. Or just wish Poland good luck and get busy building walls on our borders.

49

Placeholder 05.23.16 at 6:27 pm

@38
You are Neera Tanden and I claim my five dollars: https://twitter.com/neeratanden/status/374251840323334144
You to call you country a child on the world stage that needs the smack of firm Empire to grow up. One of those ‘patriots’ the Tories keep telling me about.

@45 And the Iraq war was what, a bad acid trip? Is it not imperialism if you screw up that badly?

50

Lupita 05.23.16 at 6:28 pm

Luckily we have options that fall between extreme bellicosity and isolationism.

The imperial “we”, it never fails.

51

milx 05.23.16 at 6:30 pm

The Iraq War was certainly an epic disaster that may have attempted to extend the Empire’s power but ended up crippling it. I don’t know what that has to do with this though – Trump’s withdrawal from NATO and Pacific alliances will have numerous consequences that the Iraq War will pale beside. It’s not a coincidence that he’s suggesting Japan get their own nukes. He wants them to handle their own protection and if that leads to proliferation, more war, etc, so be it. The iniquities of the US under GWB (or even Obama) do not tell us anything about a world where countries learn the wrong lesson from the Budapest Memorandum.

52

lemmy caution 05.23.16 at 6:35 pm

there is also the supreme court. I am sure that works the same way for repubs as dems. “just support the nominee or else”

53

RNB 05.23.16 at 6:36 pm

Still would like to JQ’s argument defended. JQ defines neo-liberalism as “globalised capitalism, dominated by the financial sector”, but then says that Trump is not neoliberal though he would repeal Dodd-Frank and appoint Carl Icahn as Secretary of Treasury (since Icahn’s name is the only one he mentions, Icahn may also serve as USTR and Chair of the Federal Reserve as well).

Does withdrawing from NAFTA or shouting about currency manipulation make him such a threat to global capitalism that his commitment to Icahn’s friends still can’t qualify him aa a neoliberal? Things seem a lot less clear cut than JQ is saying.

54

milx 05.23.16 at 6:37 pm

Scenario A: President Trump. We withdraw from NATO. Putin gets hot for Georgia and invades. Republicans go insane, generals tell Trump we mean business, Trump doesn’t need to be convinced and calls for a nuclear strike on South Ossetia to scare Putin off.

Scenario B: President Clinton. We do not withdraw from NATO. Putin continues his more slow-moving annexation, Democratic party does not call for an outrageous response, and we end up with what we pretty much have now with slow Putin encroachment and no hot war.

To look at these and say, well actually the US is an Empire and the Iraq War was evil therefore fuck the Democrats vote Trump for nukes is some kind of accelerationism but more the kind that leads to a cockroach society than communism.

55

Lee A. Arnold 05.23.16 at 6:57 pm

Taegan Goddard links to an interesting discussion of the new NBC/WSJ poll , which shows that Clinton’s lead over Trump has shrunk to three points. That was to be expected, as the Republicans close ranks. Here is what is interesting:

Only 66% of Democratic primary voters who support Sanders are preferring Clinton in a matchup against Trump.

This means that 33% of Sanders voters, which is roughly 6% of ALL voters, may be up for grabs (although some of them will close ranks with the Democratic nominee anyway).

Thus the discontented Sanders voters can give the Democrats a commanding lead in November, and this may decide the election.

Hillary may move a little to the left, to try to capture them, and so will Trump move left, to try to prevent this.

Sanders has already won a concession from the Democrats: he is getting to pick some of the people on the party platform committee.

P.S. Note that most simple opinion polls are likely to be more misleading than ever. This is because so many people have cancelled their land lines in favor of cell phones. It is illegal to robo-dial them, and most people don’t answer non-ID’d calls.

56

Lupita 05.23.16 at 6:59 pm

The iniquities of the US under GWB (or even Obama) do not tell us anything about a world where countries learn the wrong lesson from the Budapest Memorandum.

The lesson is that the US has lost its mojo and a multi-polar world is on its way.

vote Trump for nukes

Dios mío…

57

RNB 05.23.16 at 6:59 pm

What’s unreasonable in imagining the Republicans going insane if Putin invades Georgia and a totally overwhelmed Trump threatening nuclear retaliation to win the favor of his rattled Party? The only question here is just how crazy enough people have had to be to put Trump this close to the American Presidency.

58

RNB 05.23.16 at 7:00 pm

What’s unreasonable in imagining the Republicans going insane if Putin invades Georgia and a totally overwhelmed Trump threatening nuclear retaliation to win the favor of his rattled Party? The only question here is just how crazy enough people have had to be to put Trump this close to the American Presidency.

59

Lee A. Arnold 05.23.16 at 7:06 pm

45 minutes ago, headline on Wash Post front page:

“Sanders taps pro-Palestinian activist for platform committee”

That’s one of four appointments he gets to a 12(?)-member committee.

60

Lee A. Arnold 05.23.16 at 7:18 pm

I think that it may be time for a new New Deal. That’s a New Square(d) Deal.

Why? Because the accelerating rates of both 1. material innovation and 2. ownership inequality are likely to continue, due to the application of proprietary infotech to production and distribution (e.g. automated assembly and artificial intelligence).

The infotech era brings two new questions:

a.) Where can labor move next, to be useful, and to get ahead in the marketplace? Roughly 200 years ago, agriculture gave way to cities & factories, in ways both geographic and occupational. The current hope is that people might move again, from factory industrialization into careers that are more purely intellectual, yet still economically productive.

But infotech itself rather defeats that. Infotech (particularly AI) promises to obviate most of the human input into the ratiocinative processes of production and distribution — within ANY economic sector — right after a creative idea for a marketable good or service has arisen. Combined with material automation, it solves many more problems automatically. “Ratiocinative” as opposed to purely “creative”. In other words, once any person has a creative idea, the getting-to-market will be increasingly easy.

So, can 7 billion people each have a creative idea that all the others want? The standard economics’ response to this is that they will still find work opportunities, creatively, at the many links in the long chains of production and distribution. But, wait — infotech eliminates these opportunities, too. Even medicine and healthcare now promise to find awesome cures, and to become far less labor-intensive in the near future.

b.) The other question arising from infotech is also important. Some of the recent “productivity-increase” of infotech appears to be in Social Media, outside of economic production and distribution. This brings in a fundamental psychological question about our reasons for living. Our work efforts — beyond food, clothing, shelter, child-rearing, security, etc. — have always been to increase social intercourse. Now, we are replete with the means. Indeed our cognitive budgets are finally fully saturated.

Thus, infotech is accomplishing two things at once: removing the POSSIBILITIES for mass participation in the economic process, and simultaneously, reducing the NEEDS to participate in the economic process — by reducing the need to make the money to find the time to be social animals.

Therefore, the needs of all people, and the wants of all but a tiny percentage of people, will be satisfiable with ever-reducing labor input.

Then the question arises, why do new policy proposals still impose the false psychology of scarcity, via the artificial scarcity of money?

The answers appear to be at least two:
i.) We are afraid that people will be “lazy”.
ii.) There are a few significant scarcities remaining, notably desirable real estate — and a small percentage of the population retains the Trumpian psychology of lust for those scarcities, and vanity to prance upon a stage for ego status.

I think the way out of this is to take a middle path that is comprehensive and comprehensible.

Provide the necessities of life: guaranteed income, universal healthcare, free schooling, retirement security, etc. Without individual debt financing. Do NOT do much more than this; avoid enablement of “laziness”.

Indeed, we should look particularly to New-Dealish programs within which individuals can find local excellence: arts, sports, parks, music, festivals, etc.

Whether this is to be accomplished by upper-incomes taxation or by money-printing, may be a less important question. Insofar as all countries in the world are going to force themselves into these arrangements, the deciding factor may be avoiding arbitrage of interest rates.

Then, see where our social psychology goes.

I think that if we don’t do something like this, then imposing the psychology of artificial scarcity will become the same sort of “social engineering” which the capitalists decried of the communists.

61

Placeholder 05.23.16 at 7:19 pm

Lee, the problem is the Sanders vote base seems very heterogeneous. To riff of Ze K @4

“Yep, Bernie won by 24 points among Democrats in WV who want the next president to be “more conservative” than Obama… he won by an even bigger margin among the smaller group of Democrats (28%) who want the next president to be “more liberal” than Obama. Clinton won by a wide margin among the 26% of WV Democrats who wanted the next president to “continue Obama’s policies.”

If the open primary-winning Berners are anti-incumbent and then they may tilt against the ‘incumbent’ democrats anyway while the caucus-winning Sandernistas have probably been partisan democrats for some time.

@RNB 56: This is what I’m saying. In an unprecedented time of anti-capitalist anti-establishment anger Trump represents a few left-field concessions to save the system overall. That in turn is why half the press will rally round him and run a tight race with Clinton. There may be no way to gain a fair share of Berners if they are just ant-incumbent.

To address JQ’s concern, he opposes the neoliberal explanation by referring to how rare #NeverTrump -ers are. I think this can be explained by systemic crisis instead of his substition of ‘tribalism’ even if I agree with his ‘folder of evidence’, my $0.02.

62

root_e 05.23.16 at 7:20 pm

Your analytical framework cannot explain empirical reality so you are at a loss. But the problem is the whole “neoliberal” line of analysis is ridiculous nonsense. The most obvious problem is that the motor of the Republican party is RACISM and it has been since Nixon’s Southern strategy. Once you admit that, Trump’s effectiveness is explained as a powerful showman dropping the clumsy euphemisms of the old respectable Republicans and going for the visceral pleasures of raw racism and authority.

The left’s sad effort to explain Trump success in terms of trade theories is tragic. Hillary Clinton supports action to stop global warming, civil rights, reducing economic inequality, rights for women, and not torturing people, but she’s unacceptable to the “left” which clings to its simplistic neoliberalism line and will probably keep clinging to it while Blackwater starts disappearing people if they are successful in tripping up the hated Democrats.

63

LFC 05.23.16 at 7:21 pm

Re some discussion of Marx upthread — worth recalling that Marx was both unsparing critic of capitalism and, on some points, singer of capitalism’s praises. (Cf. The Communist Manifesto: capitalism “has accomplished wonders far surpassing Egyptian pyramids, Roman aqueducts, and Gothic cathedrals” etc.)

64

Dipper 05.23.16 at 7:22 pm

@ Lupita – 43.

Many apologies. I was thinking for a moment that Richard Overy’s Origins of the Second World War ,which basically says Germany embarked on its wars because it thought an isolationist USA would not intervene, might still have some relevance to the modern day. Thank you for pointing out to me that the world moves to new rules and the old ones are redundant.

65

LFC 05.23.16 at 7:25 pm

I will now wait for my comment @67 to be misinterpreted — actually not, as have to do something else.

66

root_e 05.23.16 at 7:28 pm

#67

Parts of the Manifesto read like a Tom Friedman article.

67

Andrew Smith 05.23.16 at 7:29 pm

I think the most important thing about Trump to many Republicans is that he will sign nearly every law, or maybe every law, that a Republican Congress brings to him. He may do some other things as an executive they don’t like, but they will take some major legislative victories in exchange for that.

68

LFC 05.23.16 at 7:31 pm

Parts of the Manifesto read like a Tom Friedman article.

Never heard it put quite that way before, but yes…

69

RNB 05.23.16 at 7:36 pm

Of course Marx was an apologist for capitalism. He was bankrolled by one of the wealthiest capitalists of his time, Fred Engels. Engels threw a radical a bone here and there as a way of making him feel alright with the company he inherited. But Marx knew not to make his benefactor feel too guilty about being a capitalist, so Marx insisted that he would not treat capitalists in moral terms but as personifications of capitalist social relations whose historic mission was to lay unwittingly the material foundations without which a new form of society would not be possible. To do this Marx had to be able to show that the reproduction of capitalism on an expanding scale was possible and that it was capable of generating equilibrium growth, which is what he did in Volume 2. Rosa Luxemburg smelled a rat; Marx seems to have shown that capitalism is not only possible but also capable of dynamic growth. Then there are no limits to capital. Marx is an apologist for capital, she worried.
By the way, this is a joke that perhaps only I find funny.

70

RNB 05.23.16 at 7:38 pm

Read Schumpeter on the Communist Manifesto. It’s in his collected essays. Schumpeter rightly says that no bourgeois apologist wrote as great a paean to capitalism as Marx did. Not John Stuart Mill, not Jevons, no one.

71

root_e 05.23.16 at 7:45 pm

Not just a paen to capitalism, but to the imperial mission of waking the torpid dark skinned natives from their squalid barbarian coma. It’s a brilliant bit of writing, but it expresses much of what’s always been wrong with Marxian leftism. One part that is striking is the claim that capitalism demolished the chinese walls of those oriental laggards, not with artillery, but with the efficiency of production. This was written between the two opium wars!

72

RNB 05.23.16 at 7:49 pm

Ah Marx’s Tribune writings on India which according to Heinz Lubasz may have been a veiled critique of Carey. But Marx’ s views on India go through an evolution so that by the end he understands the whole imperial system as a bleeding with a vengeance. Now on to that dubious theory the Asiatic mode production, the cul-de-sac into which Asia putatively got itself caught after having made the first historical steps out tribal-hunter society.

73

RNB 05.23.16 at 7:50 pm

Marx is scathing about the opium wars in Part Eight of Capital, volume 1. Are we off topic yet?

74

TM 05.23.16 at 7:57 pm

Lupita 41: “blocking, or simply not negotiating, new trade agreements” is not going to break the economic system. But thanks for making the argument of the neoliberals.

I also would like to know on what account Trump could be seen as a danger to neoliberalism. Yes, he employs anti-trade rhetoric (which, as we are reminded, Obama did also in 2008 albeit in much more measured language), but what else in his “platform” is a danger to neoliberalism? I don’t know whether it’s necessarily wrong but I would like an argument rather than a load of unsubstantiated claims.

75

Lupita 05.23.16 at 7:58 pm

The only question here is just how crazy enough people have had to be to put Trump this close to the American Presidency.

There is also the question of how crazy the world has to be to accept continued American hegemony when its political parties are fragmenting, inexperienced insurgents are surging in the polls, its political pundits are at a loss to explain it all, and its pollsters are apologizing for missing the whole phenomenon.

76

Lupita 05.23.16 at 8:26 pm

@TM

“blocking, or simply not negotiating, new trade agreements” is not going to break the economic system. But thanks for making the argument of the neoliberals.

Of course blocking a new trade agreement will not bring the whole system down, I said that something like this in the context of everything else that is happening, ie, a possible Brexit, nationalist parties coming to power in Europe, the Greek crisis, growing debt in the West, growing inequality in the world, the infotech revolution Lee A. Arnold @64 wrote about, climate change, demographic transition, opposition from Russia, China, and most of the world, plus imponderables, may be one more factor in bringing down a global system that is already showing clear signs of decomposition.

77

bruce wilder 05.23.16 at 8:37 pm

Lee A. Arnold @ 64

The original New Deal was implemented in a world in which resources were still abundant.

We live a world of overpopulation, facing resource limits and watching ecological collapse and you want to do away with the concept of “scarcity”.

hmmm

78

Lee A. Arnold 05.23.16 at 8:47 pm

Placeholder #65, Yes, it is not likely that Clinton can pick up all of Sanders’ voters. But it will likely be a small number of holdouts.

West Virginia appears to be an outlier in the huge percentage of primary voters for Sanders who intend to vote for Trump in the general. I haven’t read much evidence of this beyond WV, where a majority of the Dems just do not like Obama, in particular because coal policy is going against them.

Nationwide, however,aren’t most of the Democrats who remain discontented with Clinton, concerned more about her policies and her “trustworthiness” (this latter concern being largely the result of two decades of Fox News falsely maligning her), than about she being an insider? (I think that “incumbent” is the wrong word, here.) These appear to be the main reasons given in the exit polls, for example.

I guess the question is really, What proportion of the 33% of Sanders voters (outside of WV) who don’t want Clinton now, will turn to accept Sanders’ coming endorsement of her?

79

Lee A. Arnold 05.23.16 at 8:56 pm

Bruce Wilder #80: “We live a world of overpopulation, facing resource limits and watching ecological collapse and you want to do away with the concept of “scarcity”.”

You are going 180 degrees in the wrong direction. We can preserve wildlife areas, get to renewable energy sources and develop materials science for materials substitution.

What we need less of, is people saying that it cannot be done.

First, that is complete nonsense.

And second, it just gives ammunition to the neoliberal elite’s accusation that the environmentalists want everybody to go back to the stone age.

80

casssander 05.23.16 at 9:08 pm

@ JOHN QUIGGIN

> Clinton’s Democratic Leadership Council background is that of the stereotypical soft neoliberal.

Except Clinton has been outright condemning many of the neo-liberal things that her husband did. Now, you can claim that she’ll tack back that direction once in office, but she’s not running as the triangulator her husband was.

@RNB

>But Wall Street may like Trump’s pledge to repeal Dodd-Frank.

Only if they trust him.

>A lot of business is domestic and may like his promise to end socialized medicine.

why on earth would they care?

@MILX

>I disagree about Hillary’s hawkishness.

there’s not a single conflict of the last 25 years she didn’t support. She even rattled sabers over Georgia along with John McCain.

>I think she did learn from Iraq and that she would be extremely reticent to open up a large scale boots-on-the-ground invasion (carefully distinguishing this from what she is likely to inherit from Obama – small scale boots-on-the-ground operations in Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, etc).

Because the lack of boots on the ground has been such a success in those places? Her reluctance is precisely the problem with her foreign policy instincts. If you’re going to fight a war, you don’t want to half-ass it. Clinton is quick to get the US involved in situations, but is incredibly stingy with about hte means she wants to provide to accomplish US objectives. And that works fine, as long as everything goes according to plan. When things don’t go according to plan, it results in either disaster(libya), creeping incrementalism (Syria), or embarrassing failure (Somalia). And the world being what it is, things don’t go according to plan more often than not. Worse, the more important the objective in question is to the enemy, the more likely they are to either figure out this minimalism and respond accordingly (something I think putin did in crimea) or simply call our bet and raise the stakes.

On a less philosophical level, one of the biggest hurdles the US Government faces is the limits on the time and attention of senior leadership. For good or ill, the US has global responsibilities and commitments, and there are only 24 hours a day. On virtually every issue the US is involved in, the local leadership will care more, have more time, and devote more effort to the problem than US leadership will. To take syria as an example, the leaders of the Turks, iraqis, iranians, etc. know more about the issue than the US president will, spend more time on it than he will, and care more about it. Aggressive minimalism makes this problem worse. It multiplies american commitments and increases the size of those commitments in a way that minimizes the time and attention leadership will devote to them.

There’s no better example of how this happens than Libya. Hillary’s summation of “we came, we saw, he died” perfectly sums up her attitude towards the effort. A bombing campaign that the US didn’t even officially lead (unofficially, of course, we were indispensable) removed gaddafi, prevented a massacre, and put a bunch of “freedom loving” rebels in charge of the country. The sole casualty was a british airman slain not by libyan air defenses but italian traffic. We celebrated victory, and assumed that libya was solved forever. Of course it wasn’t, and I won’t take the time here to elucidate how things have continually gotten worse. I will simply point out that the low level of american investment meant that this decline has been continually ignored.

US policy should be based around a strategy of overcommitment. We should carefully choose where we decide to invest time and attention. When we do commit (or, 9 time out of 10, where we decide to increase our commitment) we should commit much more effort than strictly necessary, for a couple reasons. First, it increases the odds of success. There is a story told of planning the invasion of grenada that might not be true but illustrates the point well. At the end of the planning brief, Reagan says “everything looks good, just send twice as many troops.” When asked why he said “because if you’d sent 12 helicopters instead of 6, Jimmy Carter would still be president.” the US’ greatest advantage over all rivals is its massively greater resources. We should take advantage of this as much as possible. Second, and this is perhaps more important, overcommitment so forces a highly distractible political system to pay more attention to the issue in question. Churchill once quipped that all he needed to ensure the defense of europe was “one american soldier, preferably dead.”

81

bruce wilder 05.23.16 at 9:17 pm

Lee A Arnold @ 81

A better question is, how much will (Democratic-leaning) turnout be depressed?

A lot of people really do not either or both Trump and Clinton. (unnecessary disclosure: I dislike both.)

In 2008, most Clinton supporters reconciled themselves to Obama. And, the racist diehards were offset in the general by the enthusiasm of the anti-racists. I fully expect most Sanders supporters to reconcile themselves to Clinton’s candidacy even though Clinton and some of her most prominent supporters may not manage to be quite as gracious as Obama was. I don’t credit much cross-over to Trump, unless he changes his messaging strategy — which he might. But, I do wonder where Democratic turnout in total is going to come from. Obama was surfing on a pro-Democratic wave election. Clinton is surfing on mass disillusion, much of it focused on perceptions of her own corrupt prevarications.

I note that the Kochs are talking about pouring some serious money into the Libertarian Party, which seems to me like an electoral insurance policy purchased for Clinton.

82

RNB 05.23.16 at 9:50 pm

I am trying to figure out why if Sanders is the sole leftist opponent of neoliberalism in the US election Clinton is the one to have invited a labor organizer Paul Booth to write the Democratic Party platform. From what I am seeing in the Washington Post article Sanders did not use his power to invite a labor activist.

83

LFC 05.23.16 at 10:21 pm

RNB @72
But Marx knew not to make his benefactor feel too guilty about being a capitalist, so Marx insisted that he would not treat capitalists in moral terms but as personifications of capitalist social relations whose historic mission was to lay unwittingly the material foundations without which a new form of society would not be possible.

I think this is the first time I have seen the suggestion that Marx’s approach here was motivated by his desire not to make Engels “feel too guilty about being a capitalist”.

I read some of (certainly not all of) Sperber’s fairly recent Karl Marx: A Nineteenth-Century Life and while I wdn’t want to use it as a sole source esp. on some of Marx’s ideas, Sperber does rather convincingly portray Marx and Engels as having a close relationship and at times a sort of us-two-against-the-whole-world mentality. Their private correspondence is quite full of ridicule etc heaped on opponents (of all ideological hues) and Sperber, iirc, suggests that this is one way the bond was cemented. Engels even, iirc, took responsibility for Marx’s illegitimate child so as to help ensure the preservation of Marx’s marriage. They did have some disagreements, among other things over money. However, and not to get too deep into psychologizing, it seems the Marx-Engels connection was sufficiently close, and from sufficiently early on, that Marx did not have to tread on eggshells, or shape his theories, to ensure that Engels did “not feel too guilty about being a capitalist.” So I do not really find this suggestion very persuasive. I also want to be somewhat tentative, however, and if you can cite me a good source supporting this argument I will be interested.

84

root_e 05.23.16 at 10:38 pm

Clinton is to the left of Sanders except in terms of yelling.

85

RNB 05.23.16 at 11:00 pm

@85 LFC, it was just an elaborate joke about how Marx was really an unconscious tool of the capitalist class or even a syncophant. I think the joke may be unique to me. Enjoy it…or not. What I loved about Sperber’s biography was the reminder how a rather unknown German political economic text was important to a young Marx as early as 1844 in his Paris Manuscripts. Those sections of the 1844 mss that show the influence did not make their way into Tucker’s hatchet job on them.

86

RNB 05.23.16 at 11:07 pm

Sperber persuasively shows the influence of Wilhelm Schulz on the development of Marx’s critique of political economy. Not the place here to get into a discussion of Sperber’s attempt to read Marx as a nineteenth century thinking about problems that the nineteenth century was already leaving behind; plus we could talk about Sperber’s dismissiveness towards Marx’s theory of value and crisis theory in the form of a falling rate of profit.

87

LFC 05.23.16 at 11:10 pm

it was just an elaborate joke

ok, I didn’t realize the entire comment was a joke, even though you used the word “joke” at the end. my mistake.

88

RNB 05.23.16 at 11:18 pm

The one who means it seriously that Marx really should be read as an apologist for global capitalism, it advancing the global productive forces and all, is Meghnad Desai, The Revenge of Marx. The book does have a lot of thought-provoking material about the mess that Marx left his crisis theory is, the battles in the Second International, the meaning of Hayekian economics and the troubles of the Keynesian project (and here he sounds like an ordinary right-winger).

89

Lord 05.23.16 at 11:28 pm

No candidate rules by themselves. Who will Trump, if not exactly rely on then resort to, if not those self same hacks? He doesn’t have his own party wing in the form of other officials. Lots of room to tinker around the edges, block the most objectionable ideas, and shape the rest. At the same time, Trump could appeal to Dems to counterbalance recalcitrant Reps, but only with sufficient policy overlap.

90

engels 05.23.16 at 11:31 pm

Umm have I been blocked from the entire site as a consequence of Bordeaugate? If this wasn’t intentional, could somebody please remove the block?

91

engels 05.23.16 at 11:33 pm

Okay it’s been removed (but previous comments vanished – never mind).

92

engels 05.23.16 at 11:45 pm

Of course Marx was an apologist for capitalism.

Yes indeed! Eg.:

This sphere that we are deserting, within whose boundaries the sale and purchase of labour-power goes on, is in fact a very Eden of the innate rights of man. There alone rule Freedom, Equality, Property and Bentham. Freedom, because both buyer and seller of a commodity, say of labour-power, are constrained only by their own free will. They contract as free agents, and the agreement they come to, is but the form in which they give legal expression to their common will. Equality, because each enters into relation with the other, as with a simple owner of commodities, and they exchange equivalent for equivalent. Property, because each disposes only of what is his own. And Bentham, because each looks only to himself. The only force that brings them together and puts them in relation with each other, is the selfishness, the gain and the private interests of each. Each looks to himself only, and no one troubles himself about the rest, and just because they do so, do they all, in accordance with the pre-established harmony of things, or under the auspices of an all-shrewd providence, work together to their mutual advantage, for the common weal and in the interest of all.

93

Chris G 05.24.16 at 12:54 am

> What’s become clear since then, I think, is that the Republican Party apparatus (politicians and party officials) is more tribalist than this analysis suggested….

Several months ago Matt Taibbi wrote:
“The way you build a truly vicious nationalist movement is to wed a relatively small core of belligerent idiots to a much larger group of opportunists and spineless fellow travelers whose primary function is to turn a blind eye to things. We may not have that many outright Nazis in America, but we have plenty of cowards and bootlickers, and once those fleshy dominoes start tumbling into the Trump camp, the game is up.”

Tribalism certainly accounts for some of the willingness to coalesce around Trump but don’t underestimate the significance of opportunism, cowardice, and the willingness to lick boots.

94

RNB 05.24.16 at 4:38 am

Kevin Drum and Paul Krugman did not seem very surprised by these findings reported in the NYT. I think root-e here too would not be surprised, but I was.

Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels write today that Sanders supporters don’t actually support his left social democratic politics:

“In a survey conducted for the American National Election Studies in late January, supporters of Mr. Sanders…were less likely than Mrs. Clinton’s supporters to favor concrete policies that Mr. Sanders has offered…including a higher minimum wage, increasing government spending on health care and an expansion of government services financed by higher taxes.

….Mr. Sanders has drawn enthusiastic support from young people, a common pattern for outsider candidates. But here, too…the generational difference in ideology seems not to have translated into more liberal positions on concrete policy issues — even on the specific issues championed by Mr. Sanders. For example, young Democrats were less likely than older Democrats to support increased government funding of health care, substantially less likely to favor a higher minimum wage and less likely to support expanding government services. Their distinctive liberalism is mostly a matter of adopting campaign labels, not policy preferences.”

95

Suzanne 05.24.16 at 4:46 am

@88: Clinton is already being as gracious as possible in spite of Sanders’ latest provocations. Of course, her 2008 campaign also had its bad moments (“uncounted votes,” now, really) during its death spiral, but she was a good deal closer to the goal than Sanders is. Once the reality of defeat sank in, she came around handsomely. It’s still possible to hope that Sanders will do the same. If he rallies his supporters to the nominee and gets them in line as Clinton did hers, all should be well. But, as Howard Dean noted recently, the attitude of the candidate does a lot to set the tone. Reachout from Clinton’s camp will only do so much.

96

Chris G 05.24.16 at 10:28 am

@101 (RNB) wrote “Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels write today that Sanders supporters don’t actually support his left social democratic politics.”

Interestingly, while the rest of their column is thoroughly linked they provide no sources to support the claims made in the paragraphs you quoted. (I spot-checked some of the results at their “Exit Polls” link and found nothing re specific policy preferences of respondents.) Perhaps the lack of references was just sloppiness on their part and not an attempt to pass off misleading statements but it sure strikes me as odd.

97

Anarcissie 05.24.16 at 11:21 am

Chris G 05.24.16 at 10:28 am @ 103 —
Their findings don’t seem that unlikely to me. Those I know to have actively favored Sanders have objected not to specific policies or proposals of Clinton’s (which can all easily be changed after the nomination or election has been secured) but to her connections, to imperial warmongering and the plutocracy primarily, which seem to be long-term and sincere.

98

Chris G 05.24.16 at 11:43 am

Anarcissie @ 104: Their statements may well be true. What bugs me is that they’re implying their conclusion are data-based when they present no evidence that they are. Gut feeling about what’s true can be accurate but it’s not appropriate to present gut feelings as data-based conclusions. Again, perhaps they have the data and just declined to share the source. That happens, but the combination of their vague language and lack of references for key point leaves me with the feeling they’re trying to pick my pocket.

99

root_e 05.24.16 at 12:44 pm

#104
Actually, many of the people who hate Hillary Clinton do so on the basis of their belief that the Democratic Party favors black people and immigrants.

Amazing that people continue to hold onto the theory that voters who like Trump (as 1 or 2) are deeply offended by plutocracy.

100

root_e 05.24.16 at 12:52 pm

It’s also interesting how HRC’s association with Goldwater, DLC, crime bill, and Iraq War (not to mention Flag Burning etc) are so prominent in some people’s minds while e.g. her volunteering for MocGovern, long long time work with CDF, CHIP, women’s rights, child mortality, etc. work is apparently as invisible as most of the Obama Administration’s record to the left.

101

Nick 05.24.16 at 3:01 pm

Chris G @ 103

They did actually provide a source – “a survey conducted for the American National Election Studies in late January”.

Here are the questions:

http://www.electionstudies.org/studypages/anes_pilot_2016/anes_pilot_2016_CodebookUserGuide.pdf

The data can be downloaded from here:

http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/icpsrweb/ICPSR/studies/36390#datasetsSection

Minimum wage
1 Raised
2 Kept the same
3 Lowered
4 Eliminated

Favor an increase/decrease in government spending to help people pay for health
1 Increase a great deal
2 Increase moderately
3 Increase a little
4 No change
5 Decrease a little
6 Decrease moderately
7 Decrease a great deal

SELECT AVG(minwage), AVG(healthspend)
FROM study
WHERE
demcand = 1 — responder prefers Clinton
AND pidlean = 2 — responder leans Democrat

— minimum wage = 1.49
— healthcare = 2.62

SELECT AVG(minwage), AVG(healthspend)
FROM study
WHERE
demcand = 3 — responder prefers Sanders
AND pidlean = 2 — responder leans Democrat

— minimum wage = 1.08
— healthcare = 1.97

More detailed evidence casts further doubt on the notion that support for Mr. Sanders reflects a shift to the left in the policy preferences of Democrats […] However, they were less likely than Mrs. Clinton’s supporters to favor concrete policies that Mr. Sanders has offered as remedies for these ills, including a higher minimum wage, increasing government spending on health care and an expansion of government services financed by higher taxes.

I call bullshit.

102

Brett Dunbar 05.24.16 at 3:02 pm

Lupita @83

It is quite incorrect to say that global inequality is rising as that has actually been falling. Paradoxically in country inequality has mostly risen at the same time.

The explanation is that poor people in poor countries have gained faster than rich people in rich countries. Rich people in poor countries have gained even more but are still a lot poorer than poor people in rich countries.

103

RNB 05.24.16 at 3:27 pm

@109 good point Brett Dunbar. Not quite Simpson’s Paradox: How can inequality be rising within each nation but falling overall at the global level?

104

RNB 05.24.16 at 3:28 pm

@108 Thanks Nick.

105

TM 05.24.16 at 3:39 pm

108: Holy sh*t.

106: “Amazing that people continue to hold onto the theory that voters who like Trump (as 1 or 2) are deeply offended by plutocracy.”

Seconded.

106

engels 05.24.16 at 4:13 pm

‘pissed off with the government’, which, translated from Prole, amounts to the same thing as being “deeply offended by plutocracy

No it doesn’t, that’s nuts (leaving aside how patronising it is)

107

RNB 05.24.16 at 4:29 pm

@108 do the results change if you don’t specify for “leaning Democrat” and just specify support for Sanders or Clinton? Do you then get the surprising results that Achen and Bartels reported? They also said that young voters are not leaning more left on policy issues.

108

RNB 05.24.16 at 4:33 pm

That is, since there are probably more Sanders supporters who are independents and don’t lean Democratic and may well not be more liberal on policy, you may have skewed the results by restricting Sanders supporters to only those who also lean Democrat. I would not be so quick to call bullshit out on them.

109

L2P 05.24.16 at 6:00 pm

“I saw the Republicans as the “hard neoliberal” party relying on the votes of (white Christian) tribalists and making symbolic gestures in their direction, but largely ignoring them, particularly if their interests came into conflict with those of big business.”

There’s a decent argument that at this point the Republican party stands for lower taxes, empowering traditional white power structures, and not much else. All the culture wars stuff, the welfare state stuff, the socialism stuff, the free trade stuff, that’s all relatively inconsequential. If so, then backing Trump makes perfect sense: he’s not raising taxes on anybody, and he’s all about whiteness.

110

Lowhim 05.24.16 at 6:28 pm

@46 Using updated words does make it sound better. But in the end, people will use whatever words work to get what they want.

111

Marc 05.24.16 at 7:54 pm

@101: There has been a lot of wankery involving primary election polls in the US. Sanders draws his support from multiple groups. There is a group motivated by animosity to Clinton, strong in regions like Appalachia. Many are actually relatively conservative. There are young quite liberal voters, who are the core of his support. And then there are a range of other groups.

When you poll these people, filtered as well by state to state election law variations, you can “discover” that Sanders supporters aren’t very liberal, or that they’re really Republicans, or whatever else. Ditto for Trump supporters. Sanders and Trump supporters are roughly half of their respective parties, so it’s hardly surprising that their demographics and opinions look an awful lot like those of the parties that they’re drawn from.

When their support bases were smaller they looked very different from the mainstream of their parties, again unsurprising. And yet we’re getting all of these contrarian “hot takes” from people with more big data than sense.

112

root_e 05.24.16 at 9:40 pm

#113

Nope. Hating immigrants and black people is not the same as being deeply offended by plutocracy. People supporting a billionaire who is openly racist and advocates cutting taxes on the rich are not offended by plutocracy, no matter how weak their vocabulary.
This is obvious. The mystery is why US leftists cling so bitterly to their illusions about the populist groundswell that doesn’t exist.

113

Anarcissie 05.24.16 at 11:59 pm

root_e 05.24.16 at 9:40 pm @ 120 —
Possibly the electorate is less binary than you think.

114

Nick 05.25.16 at 1:45 am

RNB @ 115: “@108 do the results change if you don’t specify for “leaning Democrat” and just specify support for Sanders or Clinton?”

If we include everybody else as well, which is Republican “supporters” of Clinton and Sanders + people who answered “Neither” to which party they lean towards, it comes out as:

Clinton – minwage: 1.31, healthcare: 2.44
Sanders – minwage: 1.34, healthcare: 2.56

Which is a marginal difference at best. Two things to note however:

1) I requoted at the end of @108 so we’re clear on what Achen and Bartels stated in their article:

“More detailed evidence casts further doubt on the notion that support for Mr. Sanders reflects a shift to the left in the policy preferences of Democrats […]”

Earlier, they also stated: “Thus many analysts have argued that Mr. Sanders’s surprising support signals a momentous shift to the left among Democrats. But wishing does not make it so.”

2) In any case, the results still show “Sanders supporters” across the board favor a raise to the minimum wage, and an increase in government spending on health.

So they are wrong in any case.

115

RNB 05.25.16 at 2:02 am

Nope, Nick. The article was about the nature of Sanders’ supporters, and they are not more progressive than Clinton’s! So much for the radical Sanders’ insurgency. It does seem that your typical Sanders supporters is a disgruntled white male who is not more progressive in terms of policy than the Democratic Party’s standard-bearer who is so despised here as a soft neo-liberal. Perhaps Sanders has trolled his own supporters by choosing to represent him at the Convention a black socialist theologian, a black Muslim Congressman, a Native American activist and an Arab American pollster.

116

Nick 05.25.16 at 2:34 am

RNB: “Nope, Nick. The article was about the nature of Sanders’ supporters, and they are not more progressive than Clinton’s!”

Nope. The claims I’ve addressed above referred very specifically to the “policy preferences of Democrats”.

The results show the opposite of what the authors claim.

As to the broader premise of the article: “Do Sanders Supporters Favor His Policies?”

The answer is a resounding yes.

117

RNB 05.25.16 at 2:42 am

Ok the policy preferences of those voting for the Democrat Sanders are not to the left of those who vote for the Democrat Clinton. And no Sanders supporters do not seem, by and large, drawn to him because his policy proposals are to the left of Clinton’s. And please do not expect me in a good mood with what the Thunder are doing to the Warriors.

118

Anarcissie 05.25.16 at 3:05 am

RNB 05.25.16 at 2:42 am @ 125 —
I think what Sanders fans are probably looking at are not policy proposals, which are cheap and easily discarded, but connections. Clinton is: Goldman Sachs, the Democratic Party machine, the house warmongers. Perhaps the configuration of the Medical Industry (especially its insurance system) and its enormous handle do not completely escape their notice. If Sanders says ‘Single Payer’ he’ll seriously try to make it happen (they think) however quixotic the effort. If Clinton says ‘Single Payer’ it will somehow not happen, another abominable Lieberman will conveniently step out of the wings, and the great leader will be distracted elsewhere, etc. You might call this kind of thinking a form of tribalism, a consciousness about kinship and loyalty — so I am not completely OT here.

119

Nick 05.25.16 at 3:32 am

RNB @ 125: “Ok the policy preferences of those voting for [who say they prefer] the Democrat Sanders are not to the left of those who vote for [say they prefer] the Democrat Clinton.”

The survey question had nothing to do with voting intentions. Nearly four times as many Republicans stated they *prefer* Sanders to Clinton. That doesn’t imply in the slightest that they’re planning to vote for him, or even that they “support” him.

https://today.yougov.com/news/2014/11/10/hillary-clinton-narrowly-preferred/

“Republicans overwhelmingly prefer Clinton to the President.”

Opposition party supporters consistently and overwhelmingly prefer *anyone else* to the actual President/presumptive nominee.

120

RNB 05.25.16 at 3:55 am

Well thanks for clarifying the survey questions, and I think you are right that Sanders’ “progressive scores” may have been brought down by those who said they preferred him to Clinton but would not actually become a supporter.

Still the independents and cross-over voters which has been crucial to his success are coming from this group that does not lean Democratic and they are most probably far to his right in terms of policy, and are not attracted to his campaign due to his having the more progressive policy proposals than Clinton is proposing.

They seem to be typically disgruntled white males who are far from the left on crucial policy questions.

So overall this survey gives us reason to believe that the Sanders campaign does not seem to represent overall an active social democratic insurgency to the left of Clinton’s supporters, though there are doubtless those who support Sanders out of a commitment to an activist social democracy beyond the traditional Democratic Party. It’s just not what only or even mostly attracts people to the Sanders campaign.

121

RNB 05.25.16 at 4:10 am

But Nick I must say that due to your careful attention to the survey questions you have opened up the possibility that the subset of the independents and Republicans who would actually vote for Sanders over Clinton in the primaries and the Republican in the general are well to the left of the independents and Republicans who merely prefer Sanders over Clinton.
If true it’s possible that Sanders supporters are still more progressive than Clinton’s supporters, but I am still surprised by what seems most possible: overall Sanders’ supporters are at the very least probably not more progressive in policy preferences than Clinton’s supporters. Moreover, there is quite possibly a real polarization within the Sanders movements with many of the independents who voted for him and who comprise 20-40% of the electorate in many of the primaries being probably quite a bit to the right of his and Clinton’s Democratic leaning supporters.
I agree that the survey data do not allow us to resolve this. But I am skeptical that the Sanders’ campaign actually does represent a new and stronger active social democratic movement in the US.

122

RNB 05.25.16 at 4:15 am

For example, there could be those who are not Democratic leaning and are not particularly progressive in terms of policy preferences that vote for Sanders just due to the trade issue; or as Anarcisse suggests simply because they don’t like special interest money even though they are not particularly progressive in terms of policy. For example, they could simply not wanted to have the banks bailed out (a really irresponsible vote by Sanders in my opinion) but don’t support higher wages or socialized medicine.

123

Nick 05.25.16 at 6:56 am

RNB @ 128: “They seem to be typically disgruntled white males who are far from the left on crucial policy questions.”

White male respondents: 20% Clinton, 33% Sanders
White female respondents: 22% Clinton, 33% Sanders

White male Democrat leaning respondents: 22% Clinton, 56% Sanders
White female Democrat leaning respondents: 26% Clinton, 59% Sanders

White male non-Democrat leaning respondents: 19% Clinton, 30% Sanders
White female non-Democrat leaning respondents: 21% Clinton, 31% Sanders

Non-white male respondents: Clinton 52%, Sanders 23%
Non-white female respondents: Clinton 51%, Sanders 20%

All male respondents: Clinton 28%, Sanders 30%
All female respondents: Clinton 30%, Sanders 30%

All respondents: Clinton 29%, Sanders 30%

In other words, there appears to be a racial component to people’s Democratic preferences, which I think has been pretty well established.

The Bernie Bros ‘sexist component’ you’re espousing on the other hand appears to be largely imaginary.

124

RNB 05.25.16 at 7:15 am

The Bernie Bros phenomenon is largely understood to be a white male thing, so it already includes a racial component. Now these survey results suggest that it may just be a white thing. But did you really get white women leaning Democratic favoring Sanders over Clinton by that margin? I doubt that that’s right.

At any rate, do note that I did not explain support for Sanders in terms of racism or sexism but in terms of the issues I mentioned @130 which is perfectly compatible with these Sanders supporters not being particularly or relatively progressive on a whole host of so-called social democratic issues.

125

Alex K--- 05.25.16 at 7:33 am

@RNB (#77): “Read Schumpeter on the Communist Manifesto.”

I’ve read that – it was good to have Schumpeter confirm what was obvious to me on the first reading of the Manifesto. Marx’s praise of early capitalism is not a glitch or a concession to Engels. It’s at the very core of his view of history.

Capitalism was progressive when it did away with feudalism: “the feudal relations of property became no longer compatible with the already developed productive forces; they became so many fetters.” But as it matures, it gets undermined by the productive forces it has conjured and becomes regressive: “[t]he productive forces at the disposal of society no longer tend to further the development of the conditions of bourgeois property; on the contrary, they have become too powerful for these conditions, by which they are fettered…”

The implication is that no society can avoid capitalism because there is no social formation (that Marx was aware of) that allows for a similar degree of development of productive forces.

126

Brett Dunbar 05.25.16 at 9:29 am

Marx had some interesting ideas about the development of societies up to early capitalism, where he could look at concrete examples of the systems he was discussing. What he didn’t have was any basis for his utopian speculation about a post capitalist system.

It turned out that the industrial working class in the UK at the time was an exceptional peak, technology made manufacturing much less labour intensive and services became overwhelmingly the main employer in rich countries. So as his speculation was based on a large revolutionary industrial working class it just didn’t correspond with the way economies developed.

Capitalism combined with democracy proved pretty good at incorporating people into the system and providing scope for making any change that has sufficient support.

It isn’t perfect, nothing is it is however better than any of the other economic systems we have tried.

127

Nick 05.25.16 at 12:11 pm

RNB @ 133, yep. Those were the correct figures according to the poll.

Bear in mind out of a total of 1200 people sampled, there were only 48 white male Democrat leaning voters, and 42 white female Democrat leaning voters…

I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about its margins of error in that context, and how any system of “weighting” applied could hope to more accurately extrapolate from 42 people to many, many millions…

But hey, I’m not the one making condescending, grandiose assertions in a national broadsheet about “what we call folk theory”, based on its results ;)

I think it’s reasonable to give 40% of Democrat voters a bit more credit than that.

128

Anarcissie 05.25.16 at 2:18 pm

RNB 05.25.16 at 3:55 am@ 128:
‘So overall this survey gives us reason to believe that the Sanders campaign does not seem to represent overall an active social democratic insurgency to the left of Clinton’s supporters…’

However, according to what I read and personally observe, most people do not vote on the basis of reasoned analysis of candidates’ policy proposals, characters, or records, nor are they easy to fully characterize across a spectrum-like space of Right versus Left. More important influences on voting are tribalism-identity-kinship (whether the candidate is like them or favors people like them), tradition, habit, immediate material self-interest and perceptions of mutual obligation likely to satisfy those interests, attractiveness of image, and the like. Some of these influences and attachments are likely to be in conflict with others, and having to choose between them can break the voter loose to consider what was formerly unthinkable. In 2008, enough people were broken loose from ‘the President must be an old White man’ to elect Obama, a sort of revolutionary act even if the person elected was in reality cautious, conservative, and well-connected with the established order. Some residue of that energy resulted in a lot of people voting for a ‘socialist’ this year. I don’t think that energy is just going to disappear — but it is not necessarily a leftist energy. If it is blocked in one place — say, some area of politics we fancifully call ‘the Left’ — I think it will flow elsewhere.

In which case one might not want to fling around terms like ‘fascist’ too freely just yet. We may be need them for their original meaning.

129

RNB 05.25.16 at 3:13 pm

@136 Achen and Bartel’s folk theory of democracy is certainly not based on this survey but the book that they wrote on it. Which I have not read; it’s what they link to in the New York Times piece. They see this survey as further confirmation of their theory of voting behavior.

130

engels 05.25.16 at 3:28 pm

#137 is a good comment

131

Layman 05.25.16 at 3:48 pm

‘In 2008, enough people were broken loose from ‘the President must be an old White man’ to elect Obama, a sort of revolutionary act even if the person elected was in reality cautious, conservative, and well-connected with the established order. ‘

Another way to see it is to grant that enough Democrats were broken loose to select the least cautious, conservative, well-connected candidate as their nominee; and enough overall voters were broken loose to elect the least cautious, conservative, and well-connected candidate on offer in the general election. Voters, after all, are choosing from a menu.

Also, too: If Obama in 2008 was ‘well-connected’, who in politics is not well-connected?

132

Suzanne 05.25.16 at 5:58 pm

137 & 140: I’m not entirely clear on how we’re defining “well-connected” in this context, but Obama was certainly well-connected enough to enlist a number of high-profile Democratic bundlers in his cause early on. One of the earliest, a former bagman, I mean fundraiser, for Bill Bradley, was eventually rewarded with the ambassadorship to Japan. Obama’s campaign liked to trumpet the number of his small donors, which was impressive, but he proved equally proficient at attracting big money (by Democratic standards).

Obama’s evident cautiousness and cool, “conservative” manner were probably key to his ability to reassure doubtful voters. Unlike many African-American men raised on the mainland, like for example his former pastor and patron Jeremiah Wright, Obama had no angry edge. Had his affect been angrier, louder, or hotter, he would likely have scared people. His policies were not far from Clinton’s and he was no crazy lefty. (Neither, of course, is Sanders.)

The financial crisis of September was probably what really cooked McCain’s goose and made voters realize that, whatever reservations they might have about Obama, it was time for a change from Republican rule.

@132: The Bernie Bros ‘sexist component’ you’re espousing on the other hand appears to be largely imaginary.

Not if you were paying any attention. Myself, I don’t judge a candidate by his or her most unpleasant supporters as long as the candidate does not encourage such attitudes, but there were websites who had to tell their commenters to cut it out.

133

Nick 05.26.16 at 1:19 am

Suzanne, I was referring to ‘average Sanders supporters’. I was writing in response to this from RNB:

“It does seem that your typical Sanders supporters is a disgruntled white male”

I’m not denying there’s rude and aggressive people on the internet, many of them white and male, some of them Sanders supporters, which is why wrote “largely”. As you say, they are unpleasant extremes. They’re not typical.

RNB: “They see this survey as further confirmation of their theory of voting behavior”

I know. They asserted a phenomenon has occurred which supports their theory. They used the poll results as the basis for those assertions. What they should have done was take those poll numbers with a large dose of salt, as they are problematic. Instead, they got carried away with confirming their own theory.

134

RNB 05.26.16 at 1:38 am

The survey data are not definitive, but they point in the direction of Sanders supporters not being to the left overall of Clinton’s on social democratic issues and the reason for this being the large number of independents attracted to him due to–and I guess here on the basis of what Sanders himself has most loudly emphasized– his positions on trade and the bailouts, not the policy issues of higher minimum wages, government involvement in health care, paid leave, early childhood education, reproductive rights, even free public college, etc.

It surely seems that given how left Sanders’ Democratic-leaning supporters are, the reason why his supporters are overall not more left is that he is attracting a lot of disgruntled white men who are not particularly progressive on actual policy issues.

At the very least, we in fact do not have the data to conclude, as many supporters of Sanders here believe, that his surprising success is the result of breakthrough levels of support for social democracy.

135

root_e 05.26.16 at 1:49 am

It appears the the US left’s desperation to champion white male workers at the expense of “identity politics” has not let up at all since Marx’s buddy Sorge was telling women and black workers to shut up.

136

Nick 05.26.16 at 2:03 am

RNB @ 143: “The survey data are not definitive, but they point in the direction of Sanders supporters not being to the left overall of Clinton’s on social democratic issues”

See 108. The survey data most definitely points in the direction of Sanders supporters being to the left overall of Clinton’s on social democratic issues.

For every 100 Democrat leaning Sanders supporters surveyed, 92 of them believed the minimum wage should be raised, 8 of them believed it should stay the same. Quite literally *none of them* in the entire survey believed it should be lowered or scrapped.

For every 100 Democrat leaning Clinton supporters surveyed, 68 of them believed the minimum wage should be raised, 20 believed it should stay the same, 5 believed it should be lowered, and 5 believed it should be scrapped.

The survey data does not say what you want it to say.

137

RNB 05.26.16 at 2:08 am

Yes but a huge chunk of people who have voted for Sanders–independents have been between 20-40% in some primaries–do not identify as Democratic-leaning but independent. That is what you did in your very first post–restrict Sanders supports only to those who identify as Democratic-leaning; and this is why I said from the outset that you are just defining the problem away.

138

Nick 05.26.16 at 2:10 am

RNB, sorry I should have read your entire comment, not just the first sentence…

139

Layman 05.26.16 at 2:37 am

“…but Obama was certainly well-connected enough to enlist a number of high-profile Democratic bundlers in his cause early on…”

Maybe, but in the primary, he defeated a far-better-connected Clinton; and in the general election, he defeated a far-better-connected McCain. In both cases, voters chose the lesser-connected candidate.

140

Nick 05.26.16 at 3:45 am

Free-trade agreements

1 Favor a great deal
2 Favor moderately
3 Favor a little
4 Neither favor nor oppose
5 Oppose a little
6 Oppose moderately
7 Oppose a great deal

Clinton 39% support, 45% neutral, 12% oppose
Sanders 22% support, 48% neutral, 27% oppose

Those are the figures for *independents* who lean neither Democrat nor Republican.

So ~15% more independents who prefer Sanders oppose free-trade agreements, compared to independents who prefer Clinton, and vice versa.

If independents make up 20-40% of Sanders vote, then 15% of independents represents 3-6% of his total vote – not 20-40%.

“this is why I said from the outset that you are just defining the problem away.”

With respect, RNB, you are just exaggerating it.

141

RNB 05.26.16 at 4:23 am

Yes then you add to that how much more opposed Sanders’ Democratic leaning supporters are to free trade agreements than are Clinton’s supporters, and it becomes clear that much of Sanders support is not due to his social democratic agenda but rather his anti-trade positions (with hyper-nationalist threats not to trade with poor countries at all–see Ezra Klein column) and his opposition to the bank bailouts (which is more a libertarian position than a social democratic one of nationalization).

Many of these Sanders supporters may well vote for Trump because Clinton cannot credibly threaten to stop trading with poor countries (good for her) and to let the financial system collapse to cut off our nose to spite our face. But Trump can credibly promise these terrible things.

So yeah Clinton may lose with people shouting here and on twitter and elsewhere about how she does not deserve our support as a soft neoliberal sellout compared to the true leftist Sanders.

142

Nick 05.26.16 at 4:41 am

RNB: Yes then you add to that how much more opposed Sanders’ Democratic leaning supporters are to free trade agreements than are Clinton’s supporters […]

Why would you do that? We’ve already established that Sanders’ Democrat leaning supporters are well to the left of Clinton’s Democrat leaning supporters. They are not the ones you can accuse of ‘not being socially democratic enough’.

FWIW though:

Clinton 44% support, 31% neutral, 21% oppose
Sanders 39% support, 23% neutral, 34% oppose

So, say 13% * 60-80% (percentage of his total vote who are Democrat leaning) + our 3-6% for independents

= 8-10% + 3-6%

= 11-16% of his total supporters

RNB: […] it becomes clear that much of Sanders support is not due to his social democratic agenda but rather his anti-trade positions

Once again, the data just does not say what you want it to say.

143

RNB 05.26.16 at 4:56 am

16% of Sanders’ supporters being more anti-trade than Clinton is not insignificant! It suggests quite a bit about the nature of his campaign.

Also Sanders is winning, say, 80% of the independent vote which we have to assume is far to the right of Democratic leaning supporters; otherwise Sanders overall support would not be to the right of Clinton’s, given how left leaning his Democratic inclined supporters are. His independents must be pulling him right.

We know that some of them are being drawn to Sanders, not Clinton, due to his anti-trade position. It’s also reasonable to guess that the independents are being pulled to him due to opposition to the financial bailouts. The survey data leave unexplained most of what it is drawing these independents who are on the right in regards to social democratic policy to Sanders.

But other than anti-trade and anti-bailout positions what do we have? We have the issues of personal integrity and sexism.

But Achen and Bartels’ point then stands–to a great extent your typical Sanders supporter is a disgruntled white man not particularly left in terms of social democratic policy.

144

Nick 05.26.16 at 5:57 am

“16% of Sanders’ supporters being more anti-trade than Clinton is not insignificant! It suggests quite a bit about the nature of his campaign.”

16% is miles away from “typical” – and can you explain why it is you think they’re all men? Do women not have views on free-trade agreements?

145

bruce wilder 05.26.16 at 4:12 pm

Layman @ 140: Voters, after all, are choosing from a menu.

In a better world, we would pay more skeptical and cynical attention to the goals and motivations of those who are composing and publishing the menu, recognizing that the “choices” made by the voters are, at best, merely late-stage legitimizing. For someone somewhere lesser evilism is a feature not a bug and something worth paying for.

Instead, we are treated to the hysterical herding of the sheep. Clinton is redeemed, it seems by Trump’s buffoonery. Nothing to see here. Move along.

By the time RNB and its ilk finishes there will not be a verifiable fact related to Clinton left alive anywhere on the internets.

146

Rich Puchalsky 05.26.16 at 4:28 pm

I’ve seen this kind of interaction with Nick before, because I was in Nick’s position in another recent thread. No amount of facts or of running SQL against a publicly available dataset is going to prevail against a simple obfuscate, deny, and repeat strategy. If the thread is run out for long enough then clueless people will start to say “Why are you arguing about this, Nick?” “Why is it important?” “You’re taking up so much of the thread with these computer programs or whatever.” And if Nick consistently did this here it’d be an opportunity for every sore grudge holder who ever disagreed with Nick in the past to jump in too.

147

RNB 05.26.16 at 4:42 pm

Actually what Nick’s careful work has shown us is that we do not know overall how social democratic the policy preferences of Sanders’ supporters are. We do have reason to suspect on the basis of this survey that overall they are not to the left of Clinton’s, but I grant that we do not know. Nick seems to have concluded that there is no significant difference, which to me is a surprising finding in itself. Given how Achen and Bartels summarized the data, something may strongly be pulling Sanders’ overall social democratic score to right given that his Democratic leaning supporters are far to the left on social democratic issues, as Nick has helpfully shown. If this is true, then I am guessing that a disgruntled white male who is not particularly progressive on social democratic policies may be much more typical of Sanders’ supporters, if not the modal Sanders’ voter. This seems to be what Achen and Bartels concluded. Nick has shown that we really can’t conclude that from this survey, but the evidence does not make this an unreasonable guess.

148

RNB 05.26.16 at 4:53 pm

What Nick’s careful work has shown is that Sanders’ supporters may not be slightly to the right of Clinton’s if those independents who prefer him to Clinton are very atypical of the independents who would actually vote for him. But a lot of independents do vote for him, and it is reasonable to suppose that on social democratic policy issues they tend to be more right than Democratic leaning voters. And so they are likely going to bring his social democratic scores to the right, perhaps even more right than Clinton’s supporters. This is why Achen and Bartels raises the question of whether overall Sanders’ supporters or voters agree with him on policy.

149

Robespierre 05.26.16 at 4:59 pm

Would it matter, though, once he and the Democrats won?

150

Layman 05.26.16 at 5:13 pm

RNB: “Yes but a huge chunk of people who have voted for Sanders–independents have been between 20-40% in some primaries–do not identify as Democratic-leaning but independent.”

This doesn’t mean what you think it means. Most people who identify as independent, it turns out, are consistently voting in the same direction; which is to say, they’re as reliably partisan as those who identify with one party or another.

http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/sanders-isnt-doing-well-with-true-independents/

151

Layman 05.26.16 at 5:17 pm

bruce wilder: “Clinton is redeemed, it seems by Trump’s buffoonery.”

Not for me. But it is possible, as I’m sure you know, to both know that the game is rigged, and still prefer one of the rigged outcomes to the other.

152

bruce wilder 05.26.16 at 5:45 pm

The reality underlying the statistics is that most people do not have a sophisticated enough understanding of politics or policy to have anything that should be dignified by the label of a political philosophy or program package, such as “socialism”.

People get their politics from slogans and thirty-second spots and from the shallow depths of their own psychological attitudes, which attitudes are a chaotic, largely unexamined mess. From a social science distance, sure, you can sometimes make out the vague outlines of socio-economic class and racism and economic geography. In this election, you can make a case for a big generational divide related as much to the internet revolution as the economic plight experienced and supposedly shared by the young.

The hypotheses offered are part of conducting and organizing the competing campaigns. If you can come up with a convincing explanation for why people support Clinton, Trump or Sanders, you can use it to herd people, either by identifying the like-minded or on a principle of repulsion to herd the “opposite” groups. If Trump’s support is racist, then the economic discontent can be discounted. If Trump’s support is “working class” (as if there’s a working class!) then the economic discontent has a certain implied character. If Trump’s support takes Trump “seriously” then their psychology is “mysterious” as is the stubborn refusal of the “poor” to vote their economic interests in Hillary Clinton, who has always thought of the interests of the children.

The big picture takeaway is not the supposed contours of voter identification by income or race or sex, but that in a country ruled by and for an ineffectively opposed oligarchic kleptocracy, politics as a public display must be confusing and polarizing — a divisive distraction that motivates those who pay attention into irrelevant motion and demotivates the rest from paying attention.

Politics as a democratic ritual must be largely irrelevant with regard to the main tendencies of policy. In regard to the main tendency of policy and even in regard to the cast of characters in key posts in the state apparatus, there must be no alternative. So, there can be no reversal, no change of course.

Any actual public policy designed to have positive net effects will involve sufficient elements of paradox and subtlety that it will require more than 30 seconds to understand the pluses and minuses, the costs and benefits. To get mass public support for good policy requires getting people to commit themselves long enough to pay attention and get over that minimal threshold, past which they can effectively distinguish, say, Trump from Sanders as more than a protest vote against a system that is fu and bs.

But, there isn’t enough in the way of genuine mass-membership political organization where people could pay attention for more than 30 seconds or form a persistent commitment.

Both the Right and the neoliberal “left” will use the attention-deficit to subvert decent policy. The Right will push simplistic nonsense — flat tax proposals and “guns don’t kill people” and so — and both the Right and the neoliberal “left” will attach good intentions to monstrous policy. Meanwhile, almost no one will understand what TPP is.

153

bruce wilder 05.26.16 at 6:04 pm

Layman @ 161: . . . it is possible, as I’m sure you know, to both know that the game is rigged, and still prefer one of the rigged outcomes to the other.

That’s how the rigging is designed to work.

If you feel you must go along, I’m fine with that choice, though I, personally, choose not to go along. What I object to is the moral hectoring and the reality distortion field that some (RNB apparently, or my personal favorite object for one-minute hate, Scott Lemieux) committed to going along insist must envelop all political discussion and observation.

One can feel that the right thing to do is to hold one’s nose and vote for the lesser-evil-du-jour. I get that. Still stinks, though. Holding your nose doesn’t change that or reverse it or anything really. So, let’s not pretend otherwise.

154

Rich Puchalsky 05.26.16 at 6:20 pm

BW: “What I object to is the moral hectoring and the reality distortion field that some (RNB apparently, or my personal favorite object for one-minute hate, Scott Lemieux) committed to going along insist must envelop all political discussion and observation.”

One of these days I’m just going to put some comments and posts by the people mentioned above into a time-delay archive during the primary and quote them again a couple of weeks before the general. “Vote for Hillary you scum!” I never do it because I just can’t bring myself to care enough, but it would be amusing.

Scott Lemieux got his whole site told off by Glenn Greenwald, which is an achievement that should stand among his lifetime accomplishments. When political dissidents stood against governmental surveillance, the “left” bravely rushed in to defend the status quo.

155

RNB 05.26.16 at 7:01 pm

@160 Yes that data may lead us away from Achen and Bartels’ conclusion. But it does not show that Sanders’ independent supporters have social democratic policy preferences close to the preferences of his Democratic leaning supporters, only that they define themselves as liberal, which could mean a whole lot of things. Could you find the questions which were used to determine ideological preferences? Just looked it over quickly, and I could not.

156

J-D 05.27.16 at 1:19 am

bruce wilder @164

‘One can feel that the right thing to do is to hold one’s nose and vote for the lesser-evil-du-jour. I get that. Still stinks, though. Holding your nose doesn’t change that or reverse it or anything really. So, let’s not pretend otherwise.’

There is one thing that nose-holding does — it makes people feel better. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing. You’re right, though, that we shouldn’t pretend that it helps to change the system or to produce better options in the future.

In the same way, making a public declaration about not voting at all can make people feel better, but we shouldn’t pretend that it helps to change the system or to produce better options in the future.

157

bruce wilder 05.27.16 at 1:46 am

J-D @ 167

Your mother wears Army boots.

158

Layman 05.27.16 at 2:03 am

“What I object to is the moral hectoring…”

Yes, me too.

“Holding your nose doesn’t change that or reverse it or anything really.”

1) What J-D said.

2) On the other hand, refusing to play – avoiding the smell – enables the greater evil. That’s not nothing. Ask some Iraqis.

159

Chris G 05.27.16 at 2:48 am

Ze K @ 154:

I will not be joining Mr. Swanson. Mr. Swanson believes it’s important to send a message. That doesn’t interest me.

Politics is how we decide who gets to do what to whom. Actions (or inaction) need to be considered against alternatives. Someone new is going to President come January 2017. If Trump gets elected then it will all-out war on everything I care about. Under a Clinton administration it’ll just be periodic shelling of most things I care about. That is not an insignificant difference. I don’t look forward to a Clinton administration but I believe that it will be easier to move things forward under a Clinton administration than under a Trump regime so I have no qualms about casting a tactical vote for Clinton if she’s the nominee.

160

bruce wilder 05.27.16 at 3:12 am

. . . refusing to play – avoiding the smell – enables the greater evil.

Couldn’t stop yourself, could you?

Is it your part in enabling evil or the opportunity to blame me for something I had nothing to do with that constitutes the greater temptation?

Ask some Iraqis. [Yemenis, Pakistanis, Afghans, Libyans, Syrians . . . ]

About Bush or Obama?

161

Rich Puchalsky 05.27.16 at 3:24 am

I’m doing a valuable public service by refusing to vote. Since I’m not voting, and since stopping Trump is all-important and my vote is meaningful, then you are bound by your own premises to turn out another vote to replace mine. Better get going.

Oh, you don’t want to do it? Wow, I guess that what was really important in the fight against evil suddenly became too much trouble. If you don’t do it, Trump will win! In fact you should turn out two votes since BW may not vote either. Or Trump will win!

I love public service. Now do what I say, and if you don’t, think about the Iraqis.

162

Howard Frant 05.27.16 at 4:08 am

Bianca Steele@24

If it seems confusing, it’s because the entire concept of “neoliberal” is incoherent. It conflates two terms. 1. an American one, in which “liberal” meant what it means in American politics and “neo-” meant new and improved (as in “neo-conservative”), and 2. a British one, in which “liberal” meant pro-free-market and “neo-” meant revived (as in “neoclassical” or “neo-Nazi”). People have struggling since then to explain how these two terms, invented by different people in different places to describe different things, are really two variants of the same thing, a left or soft one and a right or hard one. But this is actually just a confusion of words. It’s mainly useful for invective (as when Sen. Boxer was called a “neolib bitch” at the recent Nevada convention).

163

Nick 05.27.16 at 4:40 am

Thanks Rich :) Trolling trolls (no offence RNB) is somewhat painstaking, and has the consequence of makes things doubly boring for everyone else. If I had more time I’d persist, but I don’t.

164

J-D 05.27.16 at 5:16 am

bruce wilder @168

It’s been nearly three years since she was buried, so I imagine her remains are past the point where they can keep footwear on.

165

RNB 05.27.16 at 6:06 am

@174 If you ever do find evidence that Sanders’s supporters as a whole (and not just the Democratic leaning ones you selected for) do have policy preferences to the left of Clinton’s supporters and that Achen and Bartels are wrong to have said that the evidence points in the direction of Sanders’ supporters being to the right of Clinton’s on social democratic policy preferences, please do share it.

166

Layman 05.27.16 at 11:38 am

bruce wilder: “About Bush or Obama?”

Either one. If you think Obama was the greater evil vs McCain, or Romney, I hope you voted for them. It’s not my impression that you do think that.

167

Rich Puchalsky 05.27.16 at 11:51 am

Howard Frant: “If it seems confusing, it’s because the entire concept of “neoliberal” is incoherent. It conflates two terms. 1. an American one, in which “liberal” meant what it means in American politics and “neo-” meant new and improved (as in “neo-conservative”), and 2. a British one […]”

Last time, people provided you with references, and you’re still pretending to not understand. So this time I’ll just flatly say that you’re ignorant and parochial about this matter and you really should educate yourself before continuing to opine about this.

Here, with two seconds Google, are a couple of papers about neoliberalism in China.

GLOBALIZATION AND THE TRANSITION FROM NEOLIBERAL CAPITALISM TO STATE DEVELOPMENTALISM IN CHINA

Rethinking neoliberal processes in case of China

Note where they’re from. Most of the world actually treats “neoliberalism” as a well known, fairly well defined term, and is not really concerned with the preliminary history of its local use in the U.S. and Britain. By insisting that it’s not meaningful in the way that it is internationally meaningful, you’re not demonstrating that it’s incoherent: you’re demonstrating that your understanding of it is incoherent.

168

Lee A. Arnold 05.27.16 at 12:22 pm

If people who refused to vote, also refused to offer their opinions, it would make more sense.

169

Anarcissie 05.27.16 at 1:24 pm

Lee A. Arnold 05.27.16 at 12:22 pm @ 178 —
If voting is so constrained as to make it impossible to offer one’s opinion by voting, that is all the more reason to blab publicly. However, most US presidential elections I’ve participated in had a number of minor party candidates who might be more acceptable to the dissident, and their votes would publicly register preferences which would have exactly the same effect on the outcome of the election that a vote for a major party candidate would, while more faithfully reflecting their dissidence.

170

Lee A. Arnold 05.27.16 at 5:51 pm

“all the more reason to blab publicly.”

If you are 12 years old, maybe. Otherwise, one-half the eligible voters (or thereabouts) in the US don’t vote. Many more than that, tell each other constantly that there really is no choice. So, what don’t we already know?

We don’t already know that somebody is discontent? Duh?!

If your candidate is Sanders, well then, he got enough votes to have significant input into his party’s platform. So, if Clinton wins the Presidency, then she has to acknowledge that his planks should be put into policy. Why? Because some of her voters came out in Novmeber, to vote for his planks. If she doesn’t do that, well then, something else has to happen in the future. So what.

Permanent lines aren’t drawn at an election. If your person loses, that isn’t the end of the game.

But this idea that mature adults, with the ability to write in language, are taking their marbles and going home because their ideal candidate didn’t run, or didn’t win, and that they are telling us something new or worth hearing, is infantile, fatuous, boring.

171

RNB 05.27.16 at 6:37 pm

For example, a Sanders supporter like this may not be on the social democratic left; also a supporter like this suggests that Trumpism is not tribalism but perhaps something Walter Benjamin would have understood–an impulse to turn destruction into an image of which one can be a spectator, even if that destruction would yield the spectator’s suffering .

From the http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/28/us/politics/bernie-sanders-hillary-clinton-fbi.html:
‘Not everyone at Mr. Sanders’s rallies is dreading a Trump victory, however.

Victor Vizcarra, 48, of Los Angeles, said he would much prefer Mr. Trump to Mrs. Clinton. Though he said he disagreed with some of Mr. Trump’s policies, Mr. Vizcarra said he had watched “The Apprentice” and expected that a Trump presidency would be more exciting than a “boring” Clinton administration.

“A dark side of me wants to see what happens if Trump is in,” said Mr. Vizcarra, who works in information technology. “There is going to be some kind of change, and even if it’s like a Nazi-type change. People are so drama-filled. They want to see stuff like that happen. It’s like reality TV. You don’t want to just see everybody be happy with each other. You want to see someone fighting somebody.”’

172

root_e 05.27.16 at 6:47 pm

“If you feel you must go along, I’m fine with that choice, though I, personally, choose not to go along.”

Not going along means exactly what?

“The big demonstrations in London and Washington against the US attack on Iraq a few years ago offer an exemplary case of this strange symbiotic relationship between power and resistance. Their paradoxical outcome was that both sides were satisfied. The protesters saved their beautiful souls: they made it clear that they don’t agree with the government’s policy on Iraq. Those in power calmly accepted it, even profited from it: not only did the protests in no way prevent the already-made decision to attack Iraq; they also served to legitimise it.” – Zizek

173

Anarcissie 05.27.16 at 11:28 pm

Lee A. Arnold 05.27.16 at 5:51 pm @ 180 —
Blabbing could be the prologue to more substantial forms of action, inspired and organized by blab. Demonstrations or, if like Žižek @ 182, one considers demonstrations to assist what they are against — think of Vietnam or Civil Rights — something even more substantial which I won’t go into here (although I would be curious to know what Mr. Ž would recommend).

If it’s ‘immature’ to reject a choice between one person who seems to be a war criminal and another who says he wants to be one, I guess I’m never going to grow up. Is having some basic moral sense of things really immature, though? I mean, I really don’t approve of killing people for political advantage or business success. Couldn’t that be a sign of prissy old age as well?

RNB 05.27.16 at 6:37 pm @ 181 — I was talking with a woman yesterday evening who says she is going to vote for Trump, and that seemed to be what she was getting at. She could have quoted Mario Savio: ‘There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part. You can’t even passively take part! And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop.’ She’s pretty old for fighting in the streets, too.

174

J-D 05.27.16 at 11:44 pm

If the secret police kick down people’s doors in the middle of the night and drag them away for torture and indefinite incommunicado detention, it’s not boring. There is nothing whatever to be said in defence of the conduct of people who want to vote for something interesting to happen, so long as they do not themselves become the victims. People who actually are eager to become the victims of dramatic pain themselves should investigate the possibility of making commercial arrangements for that purpose without trying to involve the rest of us who have different tastes.

175

Layman 05.28.16 at 12:13 am

“If it’s ‘immature’ to reject a choice between one person who seems to be a war criminal and another who says he wants to be one, I guess I’m never going to grow up.”

Rejecting the choice sounds great! Unfortunately, you can’t actually reject the choice. You’ll end up with one or another even if you opt out of the decision-making process.

176

Layman 05.28.16 at 12:15 am

RNB: “For example, a Sanders supporter like this may not be on the social democratic left.”

It was predictable that, having lost the argument based on the data, you’d start throwing up anecdotes.

177

RNB 05.28.16 at 12:46 am

Layman
Can I see the data that shows that Sanders’ supporters are to the social democratic left of Clinton’s supporters on policy issues? The data that we have now shows that those who prefer Sanders to Clinton are actually to the right in terms of policy preferences of those who prefer Clinton over Sanders.

What Nick pointed out is that some of those who prefer Sanders over Clinton may not actually vote for him in a nomination or general election race. But he has no data that shows that voters likely to vote for Sanders rather than Clinton or who did for vote for Sanders over Clinton are generally more left on policy preferences than those likely to vote for Clinton or who did vote for Clinton.

The only way Nick could make it seem that Sanders’ supporters have more left policy preferences was by restricting his supporters to only those who claim to lean Democratic. That is, he doctored the data as I pointed out. But you can believe him over Achen and Bartels–your choice.

Your point about Sanders’ independent supporters being more ideologically left than Clinton’s was already spoken to by Achen and Bartels but you seem to have missed it. They said that youth score more ideologically left than older voters but in fact their policy preferences are to the right of older voters! Read the NYT piece yourself.

I am going with Achen and Bartel’s interpretation of the data over yours and Nick’s unless either of you has something better. And so far you don’t.

178

Lee A. Arnold 05.28.16 at 1:11 am

RNB #187: “The data that we have now shows that those who prefer Sanders to Clinton are actually to the right in terms of policy preferences of those who prefer Clinton over Sanders.”

What are the numbers?

179

kidneystones 05.28.16 at 1:12 am

If I haven’t watched, read or listened to a great deal of what Bernie Sanders has actually says, I’m ignorant – willfully ignorant of Sanders’ positions on a great many subjects. Reporting is not reliable. Here’s the PBS coverage http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/donald-trump-feels-the-heat-from-protesters-and-elizabeth-warren/ of the Trump Anaheim rally. I grew up with PBS. Rather than neutral thoughtful reporting showing more than one side of an issue we get Gwen Ifill lobbing softballs to the President, rather than pressing on issues of concern to the American public. Bad enough, but then we discovered that Ifill was at the same time crafting a hagiography deifying her subject. Ifill is so far from a neutral observer as to render all the normal necessary questions about pay for play/access almost irrelevant. Doubtless, she’d craft the hagiography for free.

The press on the right is worse. Who can forget Jeff Gannon? Many clearly have. http://www.vanityfair.com/style/2005/06/gannongate200506

One schill for Hillary here insists upon evidence-based discussion only with one breath, and then accuses all those who attend the rally of a rival of belonging to the Klan. No evidence is required for the partisan hack pressing her/his case. Nor is the hack ever likely to be moved by fact, or fair play. Because there’s really no discussion taking place. Certainly not a discussion about issues, or a discussion based on facts.

Instead we are all subjected to an endless stream of ‘explanations’ how candidate A really bears no responsibility for any of his/her policies and actions, was really telling the truth when the evidence and a recent IG support explicitly states the opposite.

There’s little point in expecting accuracy in the press, or expecting reasoned informed discussion from those who refuse to learn anything about anything that might upset their biases or worldviews. They learn nothing and forget nothing. I’m certain that we could find a video of HRC directing Carville to go forth and destroy Monica Lewinsky, and we’d still have RNB declaring, ‘yeah, but Trump made a woman wear a bathing suit. What about that?’

180

RNB 05.28.16 at 1:19 am

Nick very helpfully gave the #s at 122. I shall say again that I am surprised by this and would not be surprised if a better survey gave us a different result. But it’s the data on policy preferences that we have now. Again one problem may be that our sense of Sanders’ supporters is being determined by those who support him here, and the very leftist social democratic policy preferences here may not be widely shared among Sanders’ supporters (in fact as I pointed out it would seem that Sanders’ supporters are polarized with some being very left and some being pretty conservative, leading to averages slightly to the right of Clinton’s supporters). Again I am surprised by this. I would be happy to revise this conclusion but I don’t see how Nick or layman have given us any empirical reason to reject what Achen and Bartels wrote.

181

RNB 05.28.16 at 1:22 am

@189 There is a lot of data on the racial prejudices and resentments of Trump supporters! Again kidneystones I encourage you to continue to talk about HRC on her husband’s infidelity and Trump on the “Trump Girl” whom he dated.

182

kidneystones 05.28.16 at 1:25 am

Sanders supporters are disgruntled, white males who may belong in the Klan, even if they’re unaware of their prejudices. True!

Sciency proves it!

183

RNB 05.28.16 at 1:28 am

No but the Sanders campaign may well have attracted a lot of disgruntled white men or white people who are not particularly or relatively left on social democratic policy issues. Given that Sanders’ independents are ideologically quite liberal, I would seriously doubt however that they have anything of the racial animosity, racial resentment and xenophobia of Trump supporters.

184

Lee A. Arnold 05.28.16 at 1:43 am

RNB #190: “policy preferences here may not be widely shared among Sanders’ supporters”

I rather doubt that anyone who supports a candidate who wants free healthcare & schooling can be characterized as “very conservative”. It is more likely the case that, as always, most people don’t pay much attention to policy details and tend to support candidates for personality and group loyalty reasons. Achen and Bartels are not the first people to have argued this; political science studies of it go back decades. However, the inference that because of this, Sanders supporters will therefore abandon Clinton and vote for Trump is unwarranted.

185

kidneystones 05.28.16 at 1:53 am

Not one shred of evidence is necessary when we’re talking about the Klan-loving Trump supporters. My belly-button link proves it.

And, as usual, you’re using prevarications as well as flat out lies to ‘make your case’. You’re on record here declaring that a Trump rally is no different from a Klan rally.

Not on the basis of evidence, mind you. But because in your narrow, narrow-minded circle, accusations of racism and xenophobia end discussions of uncomfortable topics – such as the corporate screwing of American workers via Bill Clinton, NAFTA, and Dem Inc – embodied by Obama and your favorite Wall St. tool HRC.

You’re going to accuse every single voter who votes for Trump to be ignorant, fearful, xenophobic, racist, sexist, and misogynistic, irrespective of the facts. You already have with your Trump rally=Klan rally claims.

You’re simply too dishonest to concede here openly here and now that you’ve already dressed every Sanders’ supporter and independent who votes for Trump in the same sheets. You’re simply waiting for Bernie to exit before making the claim.

That’s what my belly-button lint (and the immense volume of your HRC is holy and pure and must be defended at all costs posts) tells me.

What are you going to do when HRC’s dishonesty propels Trump to the WH?

Sanders is far and away the best candidate. Trump knows it, and that’s why he just backed out of debating Bernie.

186

LFC 05.28.16 at 2:12 am

casssander @87
Her [HRC’s] reluctance is precisely the problem with her foreign policy instincts. If you’re going to fight a war, you don’t want to half-ass it.

This comment and casssander’s subsequent remarks on ‘overcommitment’ seem to be part of the “find a crappy small country and throw it vs the wall” school of US foreign policy thinking.

The problem in Libya was not the commitment of insufficient force, which is what casssander implies, but rather the decision to help in the overthrow of Gaddafi w/o sufficient understanding of or planning for what would come after in what was going to be a divided country and polity. Here some kind of multilateral ‘stability’ or peacekeeping force might have been appropriate, esp if forces from the African Union cd have been included. Was this thought about? I don’t know. But I don’t think cassssander’s approach and prescriptions are very helpful.

187

J-D 05.28.16 at 3:05 am

kidneystones @195

‘What are you going to do when HRC’s dishonesty propels Trump to the WH?’

What are you going to do if Clinton is elected President?

188

kidneystones 05.28.16 at 3:25 am

197 I stated clearly the last time you asked me a ‘question’ that I’m not at all interested in your empty vessel verbosity. That stands. I’ve yet to see you engage in any good faith discussions on any topic with anyone.

You’re still full of shit.

Have a nice day. Really.

189

root_e 05.28.16 at 3:38 am

“You’re going to accuse every single voter who votes for Trump to be ignorant, fearful, xenophobic, racist, sexist, and misogynistic, irrespective of the facts. You already have with your Trump rally=Klan rally claims”

Not all racial epithet screaming Trump supporters, then. Great.

190

RNB 05.28.16 at 3:52 am

Yes, I would suspect quite a bit of prejudice in a Sanders supporter who refused to vote for Clinton to stop Trump from ascending to the White House, though there is an ultra leftist here and there who may want Trump in to engender the street fighting that they think necessary for the revolution only by means of which certain pressing problems can be solved.

I also question the sanity of those who will vote for Trump so we can have an exciting reality show shot from the White House.

If Sanders was coming to my home state of California with a commanding 3 million vote lead and a huge lead in pledged delegates, I would suspect a Clinton supporter who said s/he would not vote for Sanders in the general of, first, red-baiting and, second, of anti-Semitism.

191

Sebastian H 05.28.16 at 3:52 am

“Can I see the data that shows that Sanders’ supporters are to the social democratic left of Clinton’s supporters on policy issues? The data that we have now shows that those who prefer Sanders to Clinton are actually to the right in terms of policy preferences of those who prefer Clinton over Sanders.”

It’s an argumentative two step. Direct articulated policy differences aren’t the reasons why people like/vote for most politicians or dislike/don’t vote for them. Policy wonks shouldn’t believe their own press. This is doubly true for primaries. Realizing that, the statistic is important only because it is reducible to numbers. Clinton doesn’t seem trustworthy? “People who vote for Sanders like the policies she mouths” is non-responsive to that concern.

192

J-D 05.28.16 at 4:00 am

kidneystones @198

So I see you’ve got no answer to my question.

193

RNB 05.28.16 at 4:03 am

Yes, I grant that people don’t think Clinton is trustworthy. But from the fact checks I have seen in the newspapers she does not distort the truth more than Sanders. Did she lie about Benghazi? No. Was she any more duplicitous–saying one thing to a foreign politician in his face, and another thing to another foreign diplomat or to her confidants on what she wanted to be a private channel–than any Secty of State ever has been? No, there is no evidence of that. Or is she taking more flak because she is a woman? Probably. Did her private server lead to any security breaches? No. Was she lying that Sanders sponsored a Senate Resolution that gave support to what the Security Council would authorize in Libya? No, she was not lying.
I see no evidence that Hillary Clinton is any more untrustworthy, loose with the facts or duplicitous than other people who have held similar positions. Compare her to Colin Powell who manufactured evidence for the massive occupation of Iraq. She comes across as a terribly honest Secretary of State.

194

kidneystones 05.28.16 at 4:06 am

199 This isn’t going to work this year. We’ve been through this movie too many times and my guess is that you’ve no idea what people are yelling at Trump rallies.

Let me put it this way – every time one of you clowns claims that your belly-button lint has opened up a line of insight into the hearts and minds of people you assiduously avoid, another dozen independents ignore you and become willing, at least, to listen to other arguments.

You very clearly have convinced yourself that the tens of thousands of Klan members and fellow-travelers who attend Trump rallies spend their time their chanting and screaming racial epithets. Yes?

Why aren’t there hundreds and hundreds of videos online of Trump supporters actually, you know, doing what you believe they do? Is it because you believe that people like you RNB aren’t looking hard enough? Do think that Jeb Bush, Karl Rove, the DNC, HRC, and the Obama WH, not to mention media matters, Yglesias, and TPM believe that nobody should be looking at hundreds, or better yet, thousands of Trump supporters screaming racial epithets?

So, when independents go online looking for these racial epithet screaming Trump supporters you describe (who wouldn’t want to see un-sheeted Klan people?) they encounter instead raucous politically incorrect theater of the Bill Maher variety.

Go find us some links featuring clear footage of hundreds and thousands of racial epithet screaming Trump supporters. Should be easy, right?

And because you can’t, you invalidate the legitimate criticism that could and should be made against Trump – (because you’re too fucking lazy to do the work of refuting his crackpot economic arguments).

The politics of fear and defamation you deploy are going to fail against a candidate who’s ready to bring every well-documented Dem hypocrisy to the fore. HRC is a deeply-flawed candidate who’s lamentable track record of lying, bad judgment, regime-change, indifference to the poor, and sucking up to Wall St. is going to send Trump into the WH.

The GOP establishment convinced themselves that 65,000 attack ads and a couple of hundred million spent would destroy Trump. You’re evidently every bit as dense. The NYT shot themselves in the face by digging up stories of Trump and bathing suits, effectively making Trump into a feminist advocate for equal pay at the same time as Bill was banging women Clinton insiders later called ‘slutty’ and ‘nutty.’

Van Jones and others have already warned that African-Americans are tired of being lied to by Dems and that in this climate, with an anti-establishment Dem turning established wisdom upside down, Dems can no longer expect fear and defamation alone to get them over.

This is a change election. Some Sanders supporters and many independents are going to vote for change even if the candidate is named Trump. Arguing that the only reason people reject HRC and choose Trump is because they are racist, misogynistic, or both isn’t going to convince workers who want to work that Trump represents a threat.

Make America Great again sounds pretty good to those Dems and Republicans have taken for granted and ignored for decades. Like it or not.

195

kidneystones 05.28.16 at 4:45 am

Warren to the rescue? Josh Marshall is panicking – demanding that HRC choose Elizabeth Warren for VP to give the candidate of corruption the veneer of credibility. Warren enjoys substantial respect among white liberal academic dummies. Warren, whose career is based on the now well-debunked claim that she’s a native American. Rather than own up to her fictions, Warren took the high road and blamed her own family for lying to her. Fair enough, but Warren refused at the time and still refuses (I just checked) to meet with Cherokee nation representatives. As is so often the case, claiming to be a native American doesn’t actually mean being comfortable in the presence of, you know, real native Americans. My guess is that sooner or later Trump’s mockery are going to force Warren to actually, you know, spend time with Native Americans before November this year.

Here’s a good summary of how Trump is exploiting Warren’s hypocrisy to the delight of so many http://legalinsurrection.com/2016/03/elizabeth-warrens-cherokee-problem-is-back/

Sanders can defeat Trump once HRC puts the American people before her own ambition and quits the race. Then Trump will have to debate him.

196

RNB 05.28.16 at 5:34 am

So kidneystones are you encouraging my family–an Indo-American, a black woman and their two daughters–to show up to a Trump rally even if there is some chance that the eleven-year-old will freak out if the crowd chants “Build the Wall” or applauds when the ban on Muslims, the celebration of the dropping of atomic weapons, and the joussaince of torture are discussed. Can you guarantee our safety? Or do you think it would be a good idea for our girls to hear a Presidential candidate introduce his own daughter as “hot”? You can take your creepy self to the rallies and join with your creepy friends; we will be assiduously avoiding you, as you put it.

197

kidneystones 05.28.16 at 5:47 am

@207. As with all things, I suggest you get some information, watch a few rallies and determine for yourself whether the rally is safe. If you plan to listen, I’d say you’d all be safe. If you plan to protest, best leave the kids at home. However, at this point you’re hiding behind your kids, so I’ve no idea how plan to exploit them.

I’d bet money, btw, that you’d be much safer inside the building than out. Should you and your family dare to enter a Trump rally in California, or Chicago, you’ll be exposed to bottle and rock-tossing protesters on your way in and out who will accuse you, your wife, and your kids of being race-traitors.

So, there’s that.

198

RNB 05.28.16 at 5:51 am

Yup people who would likely beat up a eleven year old responding to a call to ban Muslims. Of course we would not take her. Minorities would stop us from going in because they would fear our getting beaten up by someone talking about carrying out people on stretchers in the good old days. Seriously kidneystones you are a creep.

199

RNB 05.28.16 at 5:53 am

Get as many last words in as you want.

200

kidneystones 05.28.16 at 6:03 am

@ 209 Calling people you disagree with you racist, xenophobes, misogynist, etc, etc, etc is a poor substitute for dialogue. But we’ve already established that you’ve no interest in dialogue. You defend a candidate who would be branded a war-criminal should she be running as a Republican.

You’re ability to ignore and downplay a record of lies and criminality on the part of Wall St.’s candidate and instead level accusations of fantasy-people wanting to beat an 11-year old child is delusional, at best, and truly disturbing at worst.

Where are your videos of racial epithet chanting Trump supporters? Why aren’t there several channels of anti-Trump websites running this hate-speech?

Hiding behind your own children, and then claiming to be concerned about an 11-year old you’ve never met is as cynical as claiming all people who go to Trump rallies belong in the Klan.

You’re not stupid, but you are dishonest and malevolent. I sincerely hope you understand you’re defending state terrorism, drone strikes, regime-change, globalization, and increasing the disparity between the rich and poor.

Call me all the names you like, but please try to get your head out of your ass.

201

kidneystones 05.28.16 at 6:07 am

RNB Leaving so soon, homie? If you’re leaving please do the unthinkable and try watching watching a few Trump rallies.

Count the number of times you hear people chanting racist epithets.

Let us know, please. You won’t, we all know. And not because you expect to find a bumper crop of evidence to support your slurs.

202

J-D 05.28.16 at 6:15 am

kidneystones @211

Accusing everybody who disagrees with you of inappropriate use of terms such as ‘racist’, ‘xenophobe’, and ‘misogynist’, even when they didn’t actually use those terms, is a poor substitute for dialogue.

203

RNB 05.28.16 at 6:53 am

What is wrong with you, kidneystones? Calling for a ban on Muslims, calling illegal immigrants rapists and murders, calling for criminal penalties on women who have had abortions, never apologizing for calling for the death penalty on people who were exonerated of the crime, wanting protestors to this racist and sexist provocation to be carried away on a stretcher, wanting to torture people for the sheer joy of it –that is all hateful speech. Anyone who apologizes for it, or joins a rally for this guy after all he has said, is a creep. There is no reasoning with Trump supporters. They will be decisively and humiliatingly defeated in electoral terms. No one is going to try to turn them; they are hopeless. You are hopeless. You have no idea what non-violent electoral energy will be released against him by minorities. Keep on talking. This little lily-white Crooked Timber community has no idea what is about to happen in the general election. Keep on talking with your loser friends here, kidneystones. Given the level of non-violent protest that Trump will engender, the country will become ungovernable before the election. And by the way defending Clinton over Trump does not mean defending her against unions, black lives matter protests, welfare and educational equity activists and peace activists.

204

Shylock Homeslice 05.28.16 at 6:56 am

Ze K, wasn’t that some hair metal band?

205

kidneystones 05.28.16 at 7:04 am

Back so soon? How many videos did you find? None?

You got nothing. You’re a lazy-ass excuse for an advocate who pulls slurs out of his ass as a substitute for argumentation. You want to know why Trump will be the next president?

Go look in the mirror and ask yourself if you’d accept one percent of the bs argumentation you spew here from your own students. Had Dems done anything but take voters for granted over the last 8 years, there would be no need for a Sanders.. Now there is.

Globalization is killing American jobs, as Henry’s timely clopening post confirms. The Dem establishment has no solutions for American workers and is quite willing to cynically dispense with American interests to keep their faces in the trough. Get it?

Trump himself observes that if American workers and American citizens were being treated fairly by both political parties, he’d be speaking to empty rooms, or be back making money in one of his towers. Sanders is the unlikely, uninvited champion who has emerged as a real force for change, without Trump’s jingoistic dog whistles.

Only you and the rest of the suck-ups and self-interested stand between Sanders and the nomination. It’s time for you to step aside or see Trump in the WH.

Have a nice day.

206

Shylock Homeslice 05.28.16 at 7:38 am

Here’s a fun google tip: type in the phrase “for Trump” (with quotation marks), and a high proportion of your results will consist of actual Trump supporters. Now add your racist expletive of choice and the result will be… well, and extremely large quantity of extremely nasty stuff. As you’d expect.

Kidneystones is gonna kidneystones, of course, but still.

207

Lee A. Arnold 05.28.16 at 10:23 am

More faulty intellectual baggage entrained by emotional inferences, from the usual cast of commenters.

Meanwhile the current trend line is that Clinton wins in November by 3-4 points. It looks a little bit like the 2012 election.

208

root_e 05.28.16 at 5:49 pm

Jeez, Kidneystones, you really know how to make a persuasive argument.

#219

“American liberalism, an ideology that sees itself as modern and therefore superior and the one true way”

Straight out of the right-wing focus group tested slogan book.

Here’s my idea: Not torturing people is morally superior to torturing them and people who try to muddy the difference are evil.

209

RNB 05.28.16 at 6:22 pm

@218 Lee Arnold, however informed you think you are, you seem to have very little clue as to how people not like you experience life in this country. But that does not stop you from passing judgment on my intellectual baggage. Kidneystones recommends out of evil intent or ignorance even greater than yours that my wife and I should spend some time at Trump rallies to get to know the candidate. I pointed out that was an insane and dangerous idea and remind you, no matter how good you think your inferential and reasoning skills are, that you are completely ignorant of how terrifying and terrible that would be for me and my family to do.

210

J-D 05.28.16 at 11:13 pm

Ze K @219

Every ideology sees itself as superior and the one true way. It probably wouldn’t be right to say that they all see themselves as modern and therefore superior and the one true way; some see themselves as traditional and therefore superior and the one true way.

211

J-D 05.29.16 at 7:20 am

Ze K @225

‘The difference is that traditionalists don’t see their own set of traditions as the one that every other culture must follow (that is: as superior and universal). ‘

Some of them do.

‘The superiority of the traditionalist ideology is, imo, in that they advocate freedom, equality, and self-determination of all cultures. ‘

Liberalism advocates freedom, equality, and self-determination of all cultures.

‘Another thing is that liberalism is currently the only ideology that sees itself superior and universal and controls an overwhelmingly superior military force with massive amount of nuclear weapons (and keeps building more and more of them). ‘

The United States controls an overwhelmingly superior military force with massive amount of nuclear weapons; liberalism doesn’t.

212

J-D 05.29.16 at 8:00 am

Ze K @227

Traditionalists have a much longer, broader, and deeper record of unleashing violence than liberals do.

213

TM 05.29.16 at 8:27 am

“The difference is that traditionalists don’t see their own set of traditions as the one that every other culture must follow (that is: as superior and universal). The superiority of the traditionalist ideology is, imo, in that they advocate freedom, equality, and self-determination of all cultures.”

It would be fun if you could give us a few examples, or maybe even just a single example of a “traditionalist ideology” that “advocates freedom, equality, and self-determination of all cultures”.

214

ZM 05.29.16 at 8:43 am

TM,
“It would be fun if you could give us a few examples, or maybe even just a single example of a “traditionalist ideology” that “advocates freedom, equality, and self-determination of all cultures””

From Yarra Healing in Melbourne:

“In November 1998 the National Catholic Education Commission (NCEC) launched a statement entitled Educating for Justice, Truth and Reconciliation: A New Partnership with Indigenous Peoples of Australia.

The Commission articulated a vision for Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples of Australia.

We call upon the Church – her people, her leaders and her children, to listen with new ears, to see with new eyes, what always was and what always will be – to be awakened to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders lifeways, cultures and spiritualities.”

From the Archdiocese of Melbourne Ecumenical and Interfaith Commission

“Under the mandate of the Archbishop, the Ecumenical and Interfaith Commission serves the Archdiocese and our partners in dialogue by promoting ecumenism and interfaith relations in the Archdiocese of Melbourne.

In Interfaith relations, we implement the decisions of the Archbishop and the teaching and directives of the Second Vatican Council on interfaith dialogue; maintain relations through the Commission with the Australian Bishops’ Conference Committee on Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations, and with the Commission of the Holy See for Religious Relations with the Jews and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue
foster a spirituality which welcomes and appreciates what is positive in others as a gift from God; provide a high level of support and advice, service and information to the Archdiocese assist and encourage Melbourne Catholics in interfaith dialogue by offering workshops and seminars for interfaith formation; initiate local interfaith dialogues and conversations in Melbourne ; network with other interfaith groups and organisations working in Melbourne ; promote joint witness to the importance of religious faith in society

VISION STATEMENT

“The unity of all divided humanity is the will of God. For this reason he sent his Son, so that by dying and rising for us he might bestow on us the Spirit of love.” (John Paul II, Ut Unum Sint §6)
Since “the restoration of unity among all Christians is one of the principal concerns of the Second Vatican Council” (UR §1), this is therefore also the ecumenical vision of our Commission.

Furthermore, urged on by the Second Vatican Council, it is our vision that in Interfaith relations the Commission may “through dialogue and collaboration with the followers of other religions, carried out with prudence and love and in witness to the Christian faith and life, …recognize, preserve and promote the good things, spiritual and moral, as well as the socio-cultural values found among these people”. (cf. Nostra Aetate §2)”

http://www.yarrahealing.catholic.edu.au/vision-process/index.cfm?loadref=2
http://www.cam.org.au/eic/About-Us/Mission-and-Vision

215

J-D 05.29.16 at 8:50 am

Ze K @229

Pilger writes ‘A third of the members of the United Nations have felt Washington’s boot, overturning governments, subverting democracy, imposing blockades and boycotts. Most of the presidents responsible have been liberal – Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Clinton, Obama.’

He can’t count. Six out of twelve is not ‘most’.

216

kidneystones 05.29.16 at 8:50 am

@223. Please do not put words into my mouth.

Very few people would hide behind their children. You clearly see them as pawns in some sense. Please leave them out of any interaction you have with me.

After watching countless Trump rallies I’d say that virtually nobody has anything to fear inside the arena, including the people standing up to hurl profanities at the candidate. Outside, it’s a different question as we witnessed in San Diego.

Again, I challenge you to watch some Trump rallies (not attend) and count the punches thrown inside the rally and the racial epithets screamed.

The rock and bottle throwers are outside screaming ‘uncle Tom’ and other choice phrases at attendees. Kind of messes with the narrative, doesn’t it. Explain that to your kids.

217

J-D 05.29.16 at 9:05 am

Ze K @231

‘Traditionalism in general does that, that’s its premise: that people on the other side of the world are perfectly entitled to live in accordance with their own culture and traditions. ‘

That kind of traditionalism in general is not the traditional ideology of any people in particular.

218

J-D 05.29.16 at 9:06 am

ZM @232

Those principles do not represent the traditional ideology of the Catholic Church.

219

Robespierre 05.29.16 at 9:10 am

Is Catholicism supposed to be an example of these non supremacist, non universalist traditionalisms?
It’s so wrongheaded it’s funny.

Not to mention, contemporary Catholicism has been temporarily, partally tamed. You don’t want to see Catholicism out of captivity.

As for Ze K, there are a number of problems with this approach. 1st, while live and let die might seem so gracious of you, proposing everyone leave everybody else alone – after you’ve grabbed hold of most of the world’s riches – deserves a punch to the face. 2nd, you attribute to liberalism, or universalism, the cause for aggressive foreign policy, when it’s merely the current ideological cover, and not the only current one, xenophobia and tough posturing being at least as important, certainly in the mind of your fellow Putin worshippers. 3rd, there is plenty of local and internal oppression that goes on entirely independently of what “liberalism” wants – though I understand a traditionalist like yourself might feel himself entitled to ignore it as long as it’s far away, and 4th, linked to 2nd, I’m sure you won’t have to stretch your memory or imagination to realise that in the feveresh dreams of nationalists, others will never just “leave them alone in peace”. There will always be some foreign menace or internal weakness or decay or treason, ready to bring about the downfall of the tribe, unless you strike first. Actual conditions will be mangled as required to fit the preexisting fear.

220

Lee A. Arnold 05.29.16 at 10:39 am

RNB #223: “you seem to have very little clue as to how people not like you experience life in this country. But that does not stop you from passing judgment on my intellectual baggage.”

Sorry, not directed at you. I think that your comments are right on the mark (except for putting too much weight on the assumption that voters choose candidates for their policy positions. Not even true independents do much of that). I think that Trump is a big danger to foreign relations, domestic programs, and domestic tranquility.

221

TM 05.29.16 at 10:47 am

“‘Traditionalism in general does that”

I don’t know what ‘Traditionalism in general” is supposed to be – shouldn’t there be as many traditionalisms as there are different traditions? But what do you think of Wahabism or Hindu nationalism? Do they count as traditionalist, or are they somehow expressions of modernist universalism? Are they liberal, even?

And doesn’t John Quincy Adams stand in the tradition of liberalism? Your whole argument is based on an abuse of terminology.

222

J-D 05.29.16 at 11:36 am

Ze K @238

‘Fine, forget ‘traditionalism’ then, that’s not the point, what’s in the name. See this:
https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/jqadams.htm , and call it whatever you like.’

What if I like to call it American liberalism?

Ze K @242

‘All I was saying is that an ideology doesn’t have to be universalist. It could be based on respect for diversity of world’s ideologies and political cultures. If ‘traditionalism’ doesn’t fit, you’re welcome to suggest any other label.’

Didn’t you notice that suggest another label — once again, ‘liberalism’ — is exactly what TM just did?

223

ZM 05.29.16 at 1:00 pm

” If ‘traditionalism’ doesn’t fit, you’re welcome to suggest any other label.”

In Australia we say multiculturalism, or there is pluralism as well…

It is probably a bit different as we are a migrant country, and you are from a former USSR country I think, as here there are lots of different cultures side by side, which is different from your idea of you saying that traditionalism says it doesn’t matter what people on the opposite side of the world do, since where you live is maybe more ethnically mono-cultural.

224

JimV 05.29.16 at 2:37 pm

Multiculturalism and pluralism are bad words, according to many Republicans here in the USA, used in name-calling by people like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity (and probably Donald Trump, now). As is liberalism, which associates itself with those words (here). It came as a slight shock and disappointment to me to learn at CT that elsewhere in the world liberalism seems to have a different meaning, as I like to think of myself as a liberal. Long before Limbaugh there was a TV personality, Morton Downey Jr., whose stock in trade was calling us “pablum-puking liberals”. (I welcomed his hatred.)

No one I’ve ever met or read about, of any ideology, is perfect (certainly not me), but most are not quite as bad as they are painted by their ideological enemies. It seems to me (naturally) that in the case of USA “liberals”, the difference between painting and reality is extreme.

225

root_e 05.29.16 at 3:02 pm

Pilger’s argument is duplicitous. The world is full of bellicose nation states and gross injustice, but according to him it’s all due to US liberals.

“Clinton declared that America had a “national interest” in these Asian waters. The Philippines and Vietnam were encouraged and bribed to pursue their claims and old enmities against China. ”

Right. Without US interference, China, Phillipines, and Vietnam would all live peaceably, without enmity, their “old” quarrels forgotten.

“Clinton, the “women’s candidate”, leaves a trail of bloody coups: in Honduras, in Libya (plus the murder of the Libyan president) and Ukraine. The latter is now a CIA theme park swarming with Nazis and the frontline of a beckoning war with Russia. It was through Ukraine – literally, borderland — that Hitler’s Nazis invaded the Soviet Union, which lost 27 million people. ”

And then it becomes clear that the Guardian is simply publishing Putin’s views. The peaceable champion of human rights, himself.

226

steven johnson 05.29.16 at 3:08 pm

Separate is never equal.

Separate is never equal.

Separate is never equal.

What I tell you three times is true.

No political theory is valid that denies this. In my judgment, facts garnered from the widest perspectives of history and natural science conclusively demonstrate that every claim for the superiority/inferiority of one group of people against another is flawed, not least because of the difficulty of defining the group. Inevitably time refutes them all. Thus any political theory that rests on the claim a separate group is superior/inferior is false, ideological in the pejorative sense.

227

Anarcissie 05.29.16 at 3:15 pm

root_e 05.28.16 at 5:49 pm @ 222:
‘… Here’s my idea: Not torturing people is morally superior to torturing them and people who try to muddy the difference are evil.’

Now, that is a curious judgement, given your fondness for candidate Clinton. Clinton has supported several wars ‘of choice’, most famously Iraq 2002. In modern war torture — both deliberately exact and coincidental — along with the murder of noncombatants, terror, mutilation, starvation, epidemic disease, and so on — are certain and of course were observed in Iraq on a scale involving hundreds of thousands of people. Can you clarify how the moral distinction is not being muddied here? If Trump is evil for advocating torture, isn’t Clinton evil for actually voting for it?

Thus far I’ve noticed a remarkable and studied amorality about this sort of question. I’m glad to see someone is willing to take it up.

228

RNB 05.29.16 at 3:30 pm

@234 I think it’s ridiculous that it would not be safe to bring my colored children to a political rally and we would not. Consider Trump attacking and whipping up hatred against Judge born in the Midwest as a Mexican (growing up, many people thought I was Latino). Trump jumps to the conclusion that a Judge’s ethnicity is the reason for an unfavorable ruling in the Trump University case and he’s thereby stoking blind deepened ethnic hatred in the crowd. He is making his crowd feel at war with people they think are Mexicans. He does not have to use a racial epithet against the Judge to make his already hateful and seething crowd even more hateful and seething and create a dangerous environment for a minority there who may do more than groan about one of his bombastic statements.
At any rate, minorities are not going to take this lying down. If the racist Republican electorate who are so ensconsed in their lily-white worlds goes through with this nomination that they have no understanding of what minorities think of Trump, they will face a non-violent backlash that will make this country ungovernable. Romney and McCain who went as far as challenging the prejudice of Republicans against Obama did not create the visceral reaction that Trump will.

229

TM 05.29.16 at 3:36 pm

242, 244, 245: David Hilbert suggested that it shouldn’t matter whether one referred to tables and beer mugs instead of points and lines (“One must be able to say at all times–instead of points, straight lines, and planes–tables, chairs, and beer mugs” – actually, as is often the case, there is no direct evidence for the quote) but with the understanding that one has to use consistent terminology. I am often reminded of this when I read another incoherent invective against “liberalism” on CT.

As a little reminder, we have recently been treated with the claim (quoted apporvingly by Henry) that liberals and leftwingers lack the “ideological vocabulary” to grasp the “concept of individual liberty and freedom from arbitrary legal authority” (https://crookedtimber.org/2016/05/26/vindictive-billionaires/#comment-675812)

Now we are told that pluralism, multiculturalism, equality, and self-determination are “traditionalist” concepts that stand in opposition to liberalism. What’s next? “War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength”.

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root_e 05.29.16 at 3:40 pm

“Now, that is a curious judgement, given your fondness for candidate Clinton. Clinton has supported several wars ‘of choice’, most famously Iraq 2002. In modern war torture — both deliberately exact and coincidental — along with the murder of noncombatants, terror, mutilation, starvation, epidemic disease, and so on — are certain and of course were observed in Iraq on a scale involving hundreds of thousands of people. ”

That argument style is called “sleight of hand”. Clinton indeed has supported several wars of choice – in fact, she has a terrible record on foreign policy. However, she opposes torture while, as you note, George W. Bush engaged in it and as I note every Republican candidate effusively and enthusiastically endorses torture. The difference between a candidate for office who condemns torture and one who vows to expand its use is meaningful to me and the use of dishonest rhetorical tricks to muddy the difference is morally repugnant.

By the way, “modern war” definitely kills many civilians, if by “modern” you mean “post-hunter-gatherer”.

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Anarcissie 05.29.16 at 3:56 pm

root_e 05.29.16 at 3:40 pm @ 251:

All right, suppose I am in Iraq and an American weapon, ultimately directed by the President of the United States, blows my leg off. As I am lying around waiting to die, in considerable pain — torture — will it make a difference to me whether that president ‘endorses’ or ‘opposes’ torture? I would think if I cared at all, I might be more offended by the apparent cynicism of the latter. I think the sleight-of-hand here is not in my questions but in the rhetoric of the people whose behavior I am questioning.

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RNB 05.29.16 at 4:03 pm

@251 I welcome the debate about US foreign policy that Stephen F. Cohen (as quoted in the John Pilger piece above) is raising. But one question I have is that when Cohen tries to deescalate the rhetoric against Putin by pointing to the role he played in having Assad destroy his chemical weapons and the role Putin played in the deal with Iran to cease their nuclear weapons ambition, he leaves unanswered for me the question whether Putin would have played these roles unless NATO was in a position to threaten or induce him into doing these things. Again though I think Cohen is right to say that we should have a debate about US foreign policy towards Russia. Cohen thinks Obama has put NATO on a warpath with Russia and that Clinton would follow this foreign policy. Cohen praises Trump for raising questions about US foreign policy in regards to Russia.

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root_e 05.29.16 at 4:39 pm

“All right, suppose I am in Iraq and an American weapon, ultimately directed by the President of the United States, blows my leg off. As I am lying around waiting to die, in considerable pain — torture — will it make a difference to me whether that president ‘endorses’ or ‘opposes’ torture? ”

Pain and torture are not synonyms. Suppose you are a parent of a child who is being raped to death in Abu Ghraib by employees of the United States government. Does it make a difference to you that the US President has created a torture empire, or do you think that all neoliberal imperialism is the same and that getting your leg blown off by “collateral damage” would be just as bad?

There is no just choice here. There is no selection of a policy that does not produce horror (even if the US had not invaded, Amnesty International Reports make the character of the Hussien regime appallingly clear.). Clinton’s vote for Bush’s war was unforgivable. But the story is not over and things could easily get worse. A lot worse.

234

Lupita 05.29.16 at 6:27 pm

Being against torture means bringing torturers, covert assassins, and extraordinary renditioners to justice, that is, Bush, Obama, and their cabinets. Anything else is electoral rhetoric.

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root_e 05.29.16 at 6:32 pm

“Being against torture means bringing torturers, covert assassins, and extraordinary renditioners to justice, that is, Bush, Obama, and their cabinets. Anything else is electoral rhetoric.”

Actually, being against torture is being against torture. Obscuring the difference between being against torture and being enthusiastic about torture is, at best, morally stupid.

By the way, that “Bush=Gore” slogan really worked out for the people of Iraq, not that the self-righteous naderites paid any price.

236

RNB 05.29.16 at 6:38 pm

Trump may not be able to put John Yoo in charge because he is, on record, as opposed to rectal feeding.

237

root_e 05.29.16 at 6:54 pm

No. Being against torture involves prohibiting security agencies from torturing people. Being for torture involves permitting or even requiring. What the fuck is so hard about that?

238

Lupita 05.29.16 at 7:05 pm

But the torture already happened. We are not just talking about future possibilities here. The law has been repeatedly broken and there has been no justice. As long as Bush and Obama are not brought to justice, it means that torture will continue. A candidate saying s/he is against torture while turning the blind eye to the torture and covert assassinations and renditions that have already taken place, means that torture will continue.

239

Lupita 05.29.16 at 7:15 pm

Placing torturers on trial would be like putting imperialism on trial, which is why no candidate has called for it. The candidates, the parties, the US electorate, and the West at large are pro Western hegemony, which is why we are discussing torture on CT as if it were a hypothetical situation instead of already having the culprits sitting in jail in disgrace.

240

root_e 05.29.16 at 8:29 pm

“But the torture already happened. ”

What do you think? They ran out of electrical clamps and sadists? It happened, it’s over, nothing like that can happen again or worse? Forgive me, but that seems insane.

““Being against torture means bringing torturers, covert assassins, and extraordinary renditioners to justice, that is, Bush, Obama, and their cabinets. Anything else is electoral rhetoric.”

I keep imagining someone in some hellhole, perhaps in a Navy Brig, feeling the icepick in the eyeball and thinking: “Stopping this without show trials would have just been electoral rhetoric.”

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root_e 05.29.16 at 8:38 pm

“As long as Bush and Obama are not brought to justice, it means that torture will continue. ”

Because Bush, who proclaimed torture official policy and whose agents set up black sites around the world is the same as Obama who proclaimed it illegal and shut down the CIA rendition and torture programs.

Actually, according to Amnesty, US torture stopped. But I’m sure you have some feelings.

242

Sebastian H 05.29.16 at 9:19 pm

We should remember that the practice of extraordinary rendition–sending someone to be tortured outside of the US, began under Clinton.

243

Lupita 05.29.16 at 9:21 pm

I do not have to imagine tortured people, I have actually met some, men and women, brothers and sisters of those who died, a father who revealed, under torture, the whereabouts of his son who was then killed. By the way, I would also like to see Kissinger on trial for his participation in Operación Cóndor. Why are you so against justice for crimes commited by Western heads of state and their cabinet members? Do you think it would diminish the legitimacy of Western hegemony and its chances of continuing for a while longer?

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J-D 05.29.16 at 9:32 pm

root_e @246

The Pilger piece was not published by the Guardian.

245

Rich Puchalsky 05.29.16 at 9:55 pm

root_e: “But I’m sure you have some feelings.”

Gross.

Here’s what Amnesty International actually says, by the way. Strangely enough it’s the same as what Lupita is saying. Here’s something else Amnesty said.

246

J-D 05.29.16 at 9:55 pm

Anarcissie @252

‘All right, suppose I am in Iraq and an American weapon, ultimately directed by the President of the United States, blows my leg off. As I am lying around waiting to die, in considerable pain — torture — will it make a difference to me whether that president ‘endorses’ or ‘opposes’ torture?’

That’s not a difficult question to answer: the answer is, obviously, ‘No, it would make no difference to you’.

Now, here’s another question: Does it make any difference to anybody whether the US President authorises torture or forbids torture?

Lupita @255

‘Being against torture means bringing torturers, covert assassins, and extraordinary renditioners to justice, that is, Bush, Obama, and their cabinets. Anything else is electoral rhetoric.’

And here’s another question: suppose I’m being held in US detention and I’m being tortured; and suppose the torture stops because the US President has given orders for it to stop. In that situation, would I conclude that the halting of the torture was only electoral rhetoric because nobody had been put on trial?

247

J-D 05.29.16 at 10:10 pm

Rich Puchalsky @268

Amnesty International says, justly, that people who have committed crimes should be treated as criminals.

Amnesty International also says, justly, that the US should close its detention centre at Guantanamo Bay.

But, note, Amnesty International does not say that closure of Guantanamo Bay without criminal trials would be only electoral rhetoric.

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Lupita 05.29.16 at 10:11 pm

@root_e

Pinochet was indicted and charged, he died before sentencing. Argentina’s last dictator together with 16 others have been sentenced. Why is this system of justice inferior to a candidate saying she does not believe in torture and letting bygones be bygones? I find it very suspicious that you are so against torture, imagining the morbid details of the tools used and what goes through the victim’s mind while being tortured, and yet, the only logical outcome you see is blanket amnesty. Do you really think that the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo were wrong in demanding justice for decades while your amnesty plan for Westeners is unquestionably superior?

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Layman 05.29.16 at 10:16 pm

“All right, suppose I am in Iraq and an American weapon, ultimately directed by the President of the United States, blows my leg off. As I am lying around waiting to die, in considerable pain — torture — will it make a difference to me whether that president ‘endorses’ or ‘opposes’ torture?”

Surely this question doesn’t go far enough. Suppose you’re run over by a drunk driver, who is in turn driving a car made in America? As you lie there waiting to die, in considerable pain – torture! – will it make a difference to you whether the American President ‘endorses’ or ‘opposes’ torture?

(Or, you know, it could be that ‘torture’ has a specific meaning, one your own question seeks to muddle.)

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Rich Puchalsky 05.29.16 at 10:22 pm

J-D, saying that if something happens without criminal trials that that’s only electoral rhetoric is, itself, rhetoric. This is a blog and a comment thread and taking every use of rhetoric as making a literal claim is not very helpful.

What did Amnesty literally write? It wrote about requirements under international law:

“The U.S. government is required by international law to respect and ensure human rights, to thoroughly investigate every violation of those rights, and to bring perpetrators to justice, no matter their level of office or former level of office.
[…]
Accountability also requires that the United States provides redress to those individuals who have suffered abuses at the hands of the US government, including those unlawfully detained, unlawfully rendered to torture, and those tortured and abused in US custody. The Obama administration continues to rely on the same legal formulas as the Bush administration to block civil suits brought against those responsible for those abuses.”

That is more than saying that “people who have committed crimes should be treated as criminals” in some rhetorical sense. It’s talking about requirements of international law.

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Layman 05.29.16 at 10:41 pm

For my part, I certainly concur with the criticism of Obama for not seeking to prosecute those in the Bush administration who ordered torture or provided spurious legal cover for it, as well as those who actually carried out those orders. It is a singular and consequential failure on the part of Obama – it has the effect of making torture in practice a question of policy rather than a matter of law. It’s black comedy that the Republicans want to impeach Obama but don’t have the integrity to take up this issue, where they actually have grounds for impeachment.

That said, there’s a difference between ‘ordering torture’ and ‘ordering no torture’, and it’s foolish to pretend there isn’t.

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Rich Puchalsky 05.29.16 at 11:03 pm

Layman: “it has the effect of making torture in practice a question of policy rather than a matter of law.”

Which is exactly why Obama’s declaration that “America does not torture” is itself only rhetorical. If it’s a policy that he’s instituting, it’s a policy that can just be reversed under the next President.

Meanwhile, did Obama really “order no torture”? Not really. It also didn’t really repudiate extraordinary rendition.

253

Layman 05.29.16 at 11:10 pm

‘Meanwhile, did Obama really “order no torture”?’

This bit brings to mind the thread on trolling. Never mind that we agree on the failure of Obama to uphold the law, let’s continue to pretend that there’s no difference on torture between Obama (or Clinton) and Bush (or Trump), despite how silly a proposition that is.

254

Rich Puchalsky 05.29.16 at 11:15 pm

You made a rhetorical claim, I disproved it with a citation. That’s “trolling” or “silly” I guess. I notice that the other people here who like to talk about how obviously right their feelings about what is silly and what isn’t are have cited nothing.

255

Lupita 05.29.16 at 11:22 pm

The argument that amnesty for Western torturers is the way to go because of what Western bloggers in pyjamas image are the thoughts that go through a person who is being tortured (I would rather the torture were ordered stopped right now than see torturers on trial) are idiotic. People being tortuered would rather be dead. They would rather never been born. They would rather reveal their son’s hidding place so that he can be tortured to death.

256

kidneystones 05.29.16 at 11:35 pm

Star Spangled 2016 – as I predicted, patriotism is in. The new star-spangled Coke can declaims: “I’m proud to be an American!” and is part of a sea-change in advertising and branding.

Proud to be an American, again fits better for many, I suppose. However, for a whole nother group of Tribalists, including many here, No American has any business feeling proud about anything, which is going to make things complicated.

Corey has a good post re: CUNY. The rot, however, is intellectual imho much more than it has to do with broken windows. All Americans, surely, have much to be proud about, even slave owners. Yes, slave owners are a key part of the American myth and Americans proudly celebrate slave owners such as Franklin, Jefferson, and Washington, not to mention a host of others.

And whilst British readers are sneering and sniffing at the hypocrisy, they can explain, perhaps, why Elizabeth I is celebrated rather than being roundly condemned and her image erased from all national institutions because of her role as founder of the British Trans-Atlantic slave trade.

Jon Stewart stepped in it with his “Harry Truman was a war-criminal” comment, which he quickly withdrew. Judged by today’s standards some of Truman’s actions would be considered war crimes. Another Dem president interred American citizens and deprives them of their constitutional rights on the basis of ethnicity.

Patriotism probably offends many here. But wrapping oneself in the flag has proven a highly successful formula for winning support, and as the Coca-Cola is betting, selling product.

Being proud of one’s country, one’s family, and one’s heritage is back in vogue. My guess is that people are either going to get onside, or be swept away by a resurgence of national pride in the coming years.

Here’s the longish link
http://adage.com/article/cmo-strategy/coke-joins-patriotic-branding-boom-flag/304186/?utm_source=daily_email&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_campaign=adage&ttl=1464996909

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Layman 05.30.16 at 12:03 am

“You made a rhetorical claim, I disproved it with a citation.”

Only in your mind. You’ll have to do more if you want to convince me.

The Bush administration ordered detainee treatment which was in violation of then-existing US law. The Obama administration halted that treatment, if in fact it was still occurring. These are facts. If you want to dispute them, then point out which such illegal detainee treatment is still in practice under the Obama administration.

258

RNB 05.30.16 at 12:07 am

@275 But your citations do not provide evidence for the thesis that the human rights situation did not improve under Obama compared to the Bush administration. It’s silly to boast that you provide evidence and citations without clarifying the thesis for which they are support. For example, you cite on piece that says a new manual allows for some forms of punishment that still violate the Geneva Conventions. That seems to true, but does not provide evidence for said thesis. You also link a piece that Obama intends to carry out extraordinary renditions without the use of torture, so that piece does not provide evidence for said thesis; on the contrary. So how could layman not think s/he is being trolled?

259

RNB 05.30.16 at 12:08 am

OK good see that layman responded while I was writing last reply.

260

Rich Puchalsky 05.30.16 at 12:39 am

Layman: “If you want to dispute them, then point out which such illegal detainee treatment is still in practice under the Obama administration.”

Did I ever claim that Obama’s continuing use of torture was illegal under U.S. law? No, I didn’t. I wonder what I did claim? It’s so hard to figure that out! The thread is so long.

Did I ever claim that there was no difference between Obama’s approved methods of torture and Bush’s? No, I didn’t. I wonder what I did claim? It’s so hard to figure that out! Etc.

I wonder what you claimed? Its so hard to figure that out! The thread’s so long.

261

J-D 05.30.16 at 12:51 am

Rich Puchalsky @273

I wish I had your ability to distinguish the rhetorical from the literal.

I mean that literally, not rhetorically. I do have difficulty distinguishing them, and it can be awkward.

But now that you’ve raised the point, it does make me wonder how helpful the introduction of rhetoric into this kind of discussion is. It seems to me that the use of rhetoric often has the effect of obscuring literal meaning, and it’s not clear to me how that’s helpful.

262

Layman 05.30.16 at 12:54 am

“I wonder what you claimed?”

Yes, this is why I said you were trolling.

263

J-D 05.30.16 at 12:58 am

Lupita @278

I have not seen anybody here argue in favour of amnesty for Western torturers. For myself, to be explicit, I am not in favour of amnesty for Western (or any other) torturers, and do not consider it to be ‘the way to go’.

264

Rich Puchalsky 05.30.16 at 1:02 am

Well, you can say whatever you like. But your comments are increasingly stupid and uninteresting.

Here’s the relevant part of what you wrote:
“That said, there’s a difference between ‘ordering torture’ and ‘ordering no torture’, and it’s foolish to pretend there isn’t.”

I replied:
“Meanwhile, did Obama really “order no torture”? Not really. It also didn’t really repudiate extraordinary rendition.”

In other words, the difference that you claimed was between “ordering torture” and “ordering no torture” was actually between “ordering torture” and “ordering different and probably lesser forms of torture”. Although with extraordinary rendition, as should be obvious to anyone who actually reads the cites, there really is no policy difference — both the Bush and Obama administration sought and received assurances that the people who they shipped off would not be tortured, and both sets of reassurances are valueless.

But that’s “trolling”. You’re a jerk.

265

root_e 05.30.16 at 1:12 am

” If it’s a policy that he’s instituting, it’s a policy that can just be reversed under the next President. ”

Which is why we should take a principled stand on letting the pro-torture faction regain the Presidency. Of course. Genius.

“Meanwhile, did Obama really “order no torture”? Not really. ”

A colossal level of dishonesty in that remark.

266

Layman 05.30.16 at 1:15 am

“But your comments are increasingly stupid and uninteresting.”

Then, by all means, feel free to ignore them.

267

Rich Puchalsky 05.30.16 at 1:20 am

root_e: “A colossal level of dishonesty in that remark.”

You’re the one who starting making claims about what Amnesty International said. It’s too bad that those claims can’t be backed up. If someone disagrees with my remark, they can read the citation that it links to and decide for themselves what it says.

268

Anarcissie 05.30.16 at 1:46 am

Layman 05.29.16 at 10:16 pm @ 272:
‘Surely this question doesn’t go far enough. Suppose you’re run over by a drunk driver, who is in turn driving a car made in America? As you lie there waiting to die, in considerable pain – torture! – will it make a difference to you whether the American President ‘endorses’ or ‘opposes’ torture? (Or, you know, it could be that ‘torture’ has a specific meaning, one your own question seeks to muddle.)’

I’m not muddling anything. Torture, exact and coincidental, is an inevitable concomitant of at least modern war, as are extensive murder of noncombatants, terror, and the other things I mentioned previously. Saying that one is ‘against torture’ means nothing unless you do something to prevent it, like at least trying to stop the war in the first place. If you think you can have wars of any size without torture, you need to study what happens to people under conditions of combat.

The essence of torture is the same as the essence of aggressive war in general: it’s not caring what happens to people who get in your way, and destroying them. I don’t think there is all that great a difference between those who celebrate it and those who weasel about it.

269

root_e 05.30.16 at 2:21 am

” In your first days in office, you unequivocally rejected torture by signing Executive Order 13491 on lawful interrogations.”
https://www.amnestyusa.org/pdfs/LetterPresidentObama_Torture_June2016.pdf

270

root_e 05.30.16 at 2:23 am

“Torture, exact and coincidental, is an inevitable concomitant of at least modern war”

Torture is a word with a defined meaning.

271

Rich Puchalsky 05.30.16 at 2:41 am

” In your first days in office, you unequivocally rejected torture by signing Executive Order 13491 on lawful interrogations.”

That letter praises a rhetorical commitment in order to ask for further rhetorical commitments, among other things. The actuality is more complicated. E.O. 13491 calls for use of the Army Field Manual, the same manual that one of my earlier links criticizes in its revised form.

I wonder what I wrote about rhetorical commitments? I didn’t deny that Obama made one. I wrote this:
“Which is exactly why Obama’s declaration that “America does not torture” is itself only rhetorical. If it’s a policy that he’s instituting, it’s a policy that can just be reversed under the next President.”

272

Val 05.30.16 at 4:09 am

Wasn’t quite sure where best to post this but in view of the many arguments that commenters (particularly US commenters) have about the affordable care scheme on CT, I though an editorial in the latest Lancet might be of interest: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: 5 year review (Volume 387, No. 10034, p2164, 28 May 2016)

Here is the Lancet summary for those interested:

“The USA can proudly claim the most technologically advanced health-care capabilities in the world. Yet the lack of universal health insurance means that expertise is not translated into better health outcomes at a population level, and that out-of-pocket expenses are a common cause of impoverishment. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 aimed to address the above shortcomings by increasing the availability of insurance for quality health care. The effectiveness of the Act is shown by estimates released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on May 17, in which the proportion of people in the USA without health insurance in 2015 was 9·1%. This is the first time that the number of uninsured, which stood at 16% in 2010, has fallen below 10%.

Behind this great achievement are an additional 20 million insured people across all demographic groups. Importantly, uptake has been strong in disenfranchised populations. Among people living below the federal poverty line, 17·2% were uninsured, compared with 29·5% in 2010. Likewise, the proportion of uninsured Hispanic or Latino people decreased from 31·9% to 20·8%. Particularly welcome is the finding that more than 95% of children under the age of 17 years now have some form of insurance cover. But gains have been patchy, with greater improvement in states that chose to expand Medicaid than in those those [sic] that did not.

Despite slow accrual, imperfect mechanisms, and an emphasis on numbers, rather than quality, the ACA has nonetheless reduced health disparity in the USA over the past 5 years. It has also increased use of preventive services, which points to better health outcomes for individuals and improved economic performance for the country as a result. This feat should surely arouse pride for what has been accomplished and strengthen efforts until all individuals in the USA have affordable, equitable, health insurance. The November elections will test the country’s resolve to do this and will determine whether access to good health care is part of the American dream or the American fantasy.”

My brief comment on this bit:
The USA can proudly claim the most technologically advanced health-care capabilities in the world. Yet the lack of universal health insurance means that expertise is not translated into better health outcomes at a population level

Given that the causes of health or ill-health generally lie outside the health care sector, one would not necessarily expect technologically advanced systems to translate directly into better health outcomes, though they can help. Better health outcomes also strongly relate to social and economic conditions (the Social Determinants of Health) particularly inequality. The discussion of “preventive measures” seems similarly somewhat limited and uses some common neoliberal assumptions about the importance of a healthy population for the reified ‘economy’. Other than that it seems like a reasonable statement – suggesting it’s by no means perfect but still an advance on what the US had before.

273

J-D 05.30.16 at 6:19 am

Ze K @296

Whether a person is tortured or not tortured may seem like only a distraction to you, but I bet it doesn’t seem that way to the person being tortured.

274

J-D 05.30.16 at 8:08 am

Ze K @298

Torture is a structural phenomenon, and the suffering of its victims is not hypothetical.

275

Collin Street 05.30.16 at 8:53 am

> Bringing up hypothetical individuals

See, this is the problem right here. If we’re talking about future action, then, yes, the people-being-tortured are hypothetical but then, so are the ones being robbed/exploited/ruined; if we’re talking about past outcomes, then the people being robbed/exploited/ruined are no longer hypothetical, but then neither are the people being tortured.

There’s no circumstance where “people Ze K doesn’t care about -> hypothetical, people Ze K does care about -> not hypothetical”; there’s no circumstance — no possible circumstance — where the hypotheticality of some people but not others is a real effect, where arguments can be usefully judged and weighted according to whether they’re about real people or hypothetical ones. In all cases, everyone, all people involved and under discussion, are either equally hypothetical or equally real.

This is pretty typical for the man, and I’m reasonably sure that most of you could find examples of the same thing in most of his posts. The grammar is well-formed, but the relationship between the words used and the concepts is kind of shaky. Ze K does not realise that words refer to things. He sees only the words; he can’t see through them to the things underneath, and does not realise that other people can see through the words to the things [which is also where you get that frequent complaint you hear from him, “putting words into his mouth”; it’s not fair to look at things instead of words, it’s cheating to do something he can’t.]

So… what’s to be done about it? Arguing with him is basically futile: his words are such that his conclusion is the only reasonable conclusion, and attempts to get past his [essentially question-begging] definitions, to link concepts that he refers to by different words or to distinguish between concepts that he joins together, will be rejected with incomprehension. That pretty much makes education futile, except on his terms, and if his terms were acceptable there wouldn’t be a problem.

276

TM 05.30.16 at 9:54 am

The argument that torture isn’t such a big deal in the grand scheme of things as long as so many people die of drone strikes or bombs and so on at least requires some serious reflection from liberals and imho the back-and-forth in this thread has been rather unsatisfactory from both sides. However, in the context of debating Trump and the presidential election, if you wish to argue that Trump’s foreign policy would be less barbaric than Clinton’s, you’d have to provide some evidence for that. Isn’t it likely that the candidate who advocates torture is the more reckless, aggressive and barbaric overall?

277

J-D 05.30.16 at 10:24 am

Ze K @301

It would probably make your meaning a good deal clearer to me if you could give some examples of the kinds of things that you categorise as structural phenomena, or if you could explain why you think it’s important to distinguish between phenomena which are structural and phenomena which aren’t (or, even better, both).

‘Torture, no torture, this is just a distraction…’
‘Bringing up hypothetical individuals and their sufferings is a distraction,’

A distraction from what? and why do you feel that it’s important to refer to its being a distraction?

278

Layman 05.30.16 at 10:32 am

Anarcissie @ 291: “If you think you can have wars of any size without torture, you need to study what happens to people under conditions of combat.”

Yet it is not the case that every participant in a war is/was also a torturer, at least not for any reasonable definition of the word. So, one may prosecute one’s role in war and still oppose and deplore torture. You may not make any moral distinction between the soldier or general or political leader who advocates and employs torture, and the one who opposes and deplores it, but I do.

279

Layman 05.30.16 at 10:36 am

Ze K: “For me personally, my (feeble) hope is that Mr Trump, should he win, might be (1) less subservient to the neocon establishment, and (2) more isolationist (as American populists tend to be).”

On what is this hope based? Certainly not his ‘take their oil’ rhetoric.

280

kidneystones 05.30.16 at 10:55 am

The best evidence that Trump wants nothing to do with Democratic and Republican Neoconservatives and that Hillary Clinton does is the fact that Max Boo, and Robert Kagan are laboring tirelessly to defeat Trump and elect Hillary.

As usual, we have a partial quote – ‘if they’re going to go into Iraq/Libya at least take their oil.

When Kagan, Boot, and Kristol start supporting Trump, that’s when there’s cause for alarm on that front. There are still plenty of ways for Trump to step in it. Anyone sincerely interested in keeping the Neoconservatives out of the WH need to line up behind Bernie, now, or face the unhappy prospect of pulling the lever for Trump.

I mean, if keeping the Neoconservatives out of the WH really matters. I suspect that partisan blinders and rationalization will allow a great many here to help make Max Boot’s preferred candidate the next war president.

People do understand that, I hope. O has already set a new record for US presidents. The nation has been at war for his entire presidency and the people who voted for him thought they were getting the guy who closed Gitmo. Rubes.

Elect Hillary and get endless war. No wonder Kagan and Boot are cheering for her!

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Igor Belanov 05.30.16 at 10:56 am

The cartoonist David Low said that ‘I have never met anyone who wasn’t against war. Even Hitler and Mussolini were, according to themselves.’

I think the same applies with torture. Very few people, especially in the ‘liberal democracies’, advocate its use. But it’s amazing how often it can be defended in the name of ‘security’, particularly by those who tend to project their foreign policy on a broad scale. I tend to agree with Anarcissie. If you’re fighting an aggressive war, or one where you depend on demonising your enemies for domestic approval, then the abuse of human rights in some form is only a very short step to take.

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Layman 05.30.16 at 11:18 am

kidneystones: “As usual, we have a partial quote…”

Van Susteren asked Trump what he would do if he was president, considering it has been some two months since Obama said Libyan despot Moammar Gadhafi must go.

“I would go in and take the oil — I would just go in and take the oil,” Trump replied. “We don’t know who the rebels are, we hear they come from Iran, we hear they’re influenced by Iran or al-Qaida, and, frankly I would go in, I would take the oil — and stop this baby stuff.

Breaking News at Newsmax.com http://www.newsmax.com/TheWire/donaldtrump-karlrove-gop-birther/2011/04/22/id/393742/#ixzz4A8YEMITE
Urgent: Rate Obama on His Job Performance. Vote Here Now!

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kidneystones 05.30.16 at 11:31 am

@ 309 So…what you’re objecting to is the delay? That’s it? Really? Anyway, the substance stands. If America is going to go in, then taking other people’s shit is part of the deal. It’s not a bad policy. Certainly better than going into Iraq, so that Iran and a bunch of whack jobs can split Iraq’s oil.

I’m personally terrified that Boot and Kagan are working so hard to defeat Trump and get Hillary into the WH. As I’ve said repeatedly, I’m not remotely scared by what Trump says. I’m scared because some people here ignore the fact that Kagan and Boot see a kindred spirit in HRC, and are equally willing to elect put her closer to power after she’s proven beyond any doubt that she lacks the basic ability to learn from her own mistakes, and those of others.

The burden of proof lies squarely on those arguing that the murderer has magically decided to stop killing people so we should hand her all the guns, so that a ‘rodeo clown’ doesn’t get them.

I’d rather give them to the clown. At least he’s had a job.

284

Layman 05.30.16 at 11:51 am

“But it’s amazing how often it can be defended in the name of ‘security’, particularly by those who tend to project their foreign policy on a broad scale.”

Some people defend it, some don’t. It matters who does which.

285

Rich Puchalsky 05.30.16 at 12:01 pm

TM: “However, in the context of debating Trump and the presidential election, if you wish to argue that Trump’s foreign policy would be less barbaric than Clinton’s,”

But I don’t see who is arguing that. I’ve seen “more isolationist”, “more likely to bring the system down”, and “more likely to keep neocons out” to paraphrase (badly) what other people have written.

Speaking for myself, what I object to is the idea that in order to support HRC people now need to aggressively polish up her record and claim that her administration will not involve killing thousands or hundreds of thousands of people through military means, as our best guess from her prior record indicates that it will. That involves all sorts of outright falsifications of history, such as claiming that Amnesty International said that torture stopped under Obama.

286

Layman 05.30.16 at 12:11 pm

@ Rich P, to play your silly game,

No one is arguing “…that in order to support HRC people now need to aggressively polish up her record…”

and no one is “…claiming that Amnesty International said that torture stopped under Obama.”

Are you sure you like this game?

287

Rich Puchalsky 05.30.16 at 12:26 pm

#264: “Actually, according to Amnesty, US torture stopped. “

288

Layman 05.30.16 at 12:34 pm

Yes, Rich, that’s the silly game you’re playing. Someone highlights that Amnesty explicitly recognized Obama’s action to reject the Bush torture regime, and backs it up with a citation to that of effect, and you quibble over the language they used to describe it.

289

root_e 05.30.16 at 1:27 pm

This is why I have concluded that the only actual principle underlying “leftism” as currently practiced in the USA is that it is always important to facilitate Republican/Right hold on power.

290

Anarcissie 05.30.16 at 1:51 pm

root_e 05.30.16 at 1:27 pm @ 316:
‘This is why I have concluded that the only actual principle underlying “leftism” as currently practiced in the USA is that it is always important to facilitate Republican/Right hold on power.’

I disagree — I don’t think actual leftists have any significant near-term influence on US politics one way or the other — but, anyway, what practices would you suggest as a substitute?

291

Rich Puchalsky 05.30.16 at 2:54 pm

No, root_e did not “[highlight] that Amnesty explicitly recognized Obama’s action to reject the Bush torture regime”. root_e claimed that torture stopped under Obama. The two are obviously not the same. And if you’re someone who is actually campaigning to stop torture, not to elect a politician, then the difference between the two is a very important difference.

Also note that root_e did this in this context of making fun of Lupita for “having feelings” about this subject because of people she has known who were tortured — the kind of thing that shows that root_e is a disgusting, horrible person if that matters — and cited Amnesty as giving the real truth, when actually Amnesty was saying pretty much the same thing that Lupita was about people who claim to oppose torture but don’t take the hard political steps needed to actually stop it.

Lastly we’re told that actually opposing torture no matter who is in office is facilitating the Republican / Right hold on power, when we’re not being told that being careful about these claims is silly quibbling. You people really suck in every way.

292

Anarcissie 05.30.16 at 3:15 pm

Layman 05.30.16 at 10:32 am @ 305 —
Maybe you should watch The Battle of Algiers again. You especially want the part where Colonel Mathieu, responding to some journalists complaining about torture and other atrocities, gives an elegant little speech which ends, ‘Therefore, to be precise, I would now like to ask you a question: Should France remain in Algeria? If you answer “yes,” then you must accept all the necessary consequences.’ Mathieu is of course a composite, but not an inaccurate one. The movie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-7j4WVTgWc ; the script: http://www.imsdb.com/scripts/Battle-of-Algiers,-The.html

One of the things that disturbs me about this subject is that so many people do not seem to take military operations seriously, including especially certain candidates for high office who might actually — indeed, who have — set them in motion.

293

root_e 05.30.16 at 3:27 pm

I’m struck by the relentless pessimism and commitment to powerlessness combined with an insistence that any gains are illusory. Don’t be taken in: after an 8 hour day law, workers will still be exploited by capitalism, public education will leave education in the hands of the oppressive state, the bus boycott won’t even dent racism, ending the war in Vietnam won’t change the nature of US imperialism, Obamacare is nothing like health care as a basic human right, ending a massive program of rendition and torture still leaves a world awash in blood …. etc. etc. It’s a program of quietism and complicity dressed up as defiance. And it’s indicative that in this “discussion”, open advocacy of Trumpian racism draws less indignation than advocacy of the Democratic Party that passed the civil rights bills. And no alternative is offered beyond despair and sneering.

294

bruce wilder 05.30.16 at 3:39 pm

Layman @ 311: Some people defend it, some don’t.

Remind me again which are you?

295

Anarcissie 05.30.16 at 3:55 pm

root_e 05.30.16 at 3:27 pm @ 321 — Yes, and I’m familiar with all that and much besides. But what I asked you was what practices you would recommend as a substitute.

296

Rich Puchalsky 05.30.16 at 4:00 pm

root_e: “I’m struck by the relentless pessimism and commitment to powerlessness combined with an insistence that any gains are illusory.”

root_e seems to have just grabbed a sentence out of the end of the Amnesty letter that root_e cited without reading it. Here. I’ll quote from that letter at length:

“Your strong affirmation of the prohibition of torture is crucial because this country is at an inflection point. We are witnessing a dangerous shift in U.S. public discourse on torture, even compared to the previous decade. Whereas, under the administration of former president George W. Bush, top U.S. officials claimed to reject torture as morally abhorrent (even while ordering and encouraging it), some public figures now openly celebrate torture. In a perverse effort to win public approval, they trivialize the horror and inhumanity of torture and signal they would support a return to its systematic use.”

“Poll results, while limited by multiple factors, suggest an alarming increase in U.S. approval of torture. In March 2016, a Reuters poll reported that nearly two-thirds of Americans surveyed believed torture can be justified to extract information from “suspected terrorists.” In contrast, in 2007, a Pew poll showed that only about forty percent of Americans surveyed believed torture could be justified to get key information. According to the same polls, while in 2007 a majority of 54 percent said torture was never or rarely justifiable, in 2016 only fifteen percent of those polled said it should never be used.”

“This current situation underscores that, since you took office, proponents of torture have in some ways succeeded in rewriting recent history. In late 2014, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a summary of its report on torture that included graphic, disturbing details of abuse. This should have led to a national moment of reckoning, and in some ways it did. Yet, instead of responding with regret and reflection, former administration officials touted their role in the CIA torture program as proof of their commitment to protecting U.S. security. Now, a new generation of public figures is doing the same: they promote torture in an effort to prove their national security bona fides. They are priming the U.S. public for a return to systematic torture in the name of national security.”

Pessimism, commitment to powerlessness, insistence that gains are illusory, etc. Note that the letter mentions something happening “in late 2014”. Gee, do you think Amnesty is blaming Trump for that? “Since you took office”. Hmm. No, it’s not annoying at all for people to cite Amnesty as showing that they are right while misrepresenting what Amnesty actually says.

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root_e 05.30.16 at 4:07 pm

#353

Well, for me, supporting Democrats has been good practice. But I think any positive program – anything with a mix of achievable concrete goals and longer term would be a good change from “we’re fucked and you’re a shill and/or sucker if you think otherwise.”

298

root_e 05.30.16 at 4:16 pm

Of course what “Mathieu” said was dangerous bullshit on the order of Scalia citing 24.

299

RNB 05.30.16 at 4:21 pm

@321. root-e writes: ‘And it’s indicative that in this “discussion”, open advocacy of Trumpian racism draws less indignation than advocacy of the Democratic Party that passed the civil rights bills.’
!!!Bingo!!!

300

bruce wilder 05.30.16 at 4:23 pm

root_e @ 321: open advocacy of Trumpian racism draws less indignation than advocacy of the Democratic Party that passed the civil rights bills

that Democratic Party — the one that passed landmark Civil Rights legislation –disappeared a generation ago

a commitment to telling the truth — something you apparently need additional practice to master — does lead in the present moment to an acknowledgement of powerlessness in a political system that is unresponsive to common interests and highly manipulative of mass sentiments

the stubborn insistence on the importance of difference that rests on credulousness in defiance of experience, of endorsing the “lesser evil” of pious and legalistic claims abjuring torture, which are given no force in law, practice or policy — this is quietism . . . and I think my soul prefers an honest despair

meanwhile, in other news, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who never identified a torturer or a bankster who he thought should be punished for the damage they did, says fugitive leaker Edward Snowden performed a “public service” but still deserves to be punished

but, by all means, the absolutely most important thing is to shut up and vote for more of the same

301

RNB 05.30.16 at 4:25 pm

Do you really think Rich Puchalsky cares about the people whose human rights have been abused? He insisted here that a long discussion he was apparently having about Clinton’s actions in Libya had been a discussion about her actions in Syria. Those “others” an indistinguishable mass for him to make points here about how cynical Democrats are an absolute horror as he experiences them.

302

RNB 05.30.16 at 4:28 pm

“but, by all means, the absolutely most important thing is to shut up and vote for more of the same”

Wilder, your voting for Clinton to defeat Trump does not mean that you have shut up about how powerless the Democrats make you feel.

303

root_e 05.30.16 at 4:32 pm

“that Democratic Party — the one that passed landmark Civil Rights legislation –disappeared a generation ago ”

Talk about tired and grossly false slogans!

The big change in the Democratic Party since the Civil Rights bills were passed is that the Dixiecrats left the Party as did, eventually, racist “Reagan Democrats” and the party has become the multi-racial progressive force it is today.

Note that the US “left” has spent 20 years complaining that “identity politics” has made the Democrats sacrifice protecting the privileges of a certain group of white workers to all this icky wimmins and minorities stuff.

As for your pompous blather about telling the truth – get a mirror.

304

bruce wilder 05.30.16 at 4:36 pm

RNB: Do you really think Rich Puchalsky cares about the people whose human rights have been abused?

I know you don’t care.

RNB: Wilder, your voting for Clinton to defeat Trump does not mean that you have shut up about how powerless the Democrats make you feel.

I am not going to vote for Clinton. (Or, Trump.)

I also am not going to comment relentlessly and tendentiously.

305

bruce wilder 05.30.16 at 4:42 pm

the party has become the multi-racial progressive force it is today

That would be the progressive force for wimmin whose chairman champions states rights protections for payday lenders

306

RNB 05.30.16 at 5:02 pm

DWS has lost the power that a Chair has recently had to choose who writes the Party platform. The comment about ‘wimmin’ is gratuitous and revealing.

307

Anarcissie 05.30.16 at 5:28 pm

root_e 05.30.16 at 4:07 pm @ 325 —
‘Well, for me, supporting Democrats has been good practice. But I think any positive program – anything with a mix of achievable concrete goals and longer term would be a good change from “we’re fucked and you’re a shill and/or sucker if you think otherwise.”’

We anti-war, anti-imperialism types have not done too well with the Democrats, from Kennedy & Johnson’s act in Vietnam to Senator Clinton’s act in 2002 and so on. Not too good of a suggestion, I’m afraid. Most of the positive things leftists can do are domestic and local and are not very relevant to my question.

@ 326 — I’m old enough to have spoken extensively with several combat veterans of World War 2, as well as Korea and Vietnam, and of course I’ve read what is allowed to permeate through the media. One gets in a war to impose one’s will, or more likely the will of one’s masters, on other people, who for some reason do not wish to submit. They way this is done is by either killing them or injuring them so they can’t fight any more, terrifying them, locking them up in jails and camps, and by breaking their stuff and starving them. Torture is one of the techniques. Some torture is performed to elicit information, but a lot is designed to terrorize the victims and witnesses, and some is just for fun. Indeed, some is purposeless — it just happens. That’s how you win a war. 24 is propaganda, but ‘Mathieu’ is on the money. That is what Democrat H.R. Clinton voted for in 2002 and has advocated elsewhere, along with many others of her party and ostensible political coloration, not as a last resort, not as a dire emergency, but as a policy option in pursuit of ‘interests’.

This is basic stuff, and I’m surprised I apparently have to describe it.

308

root_e 05.30.16 at 5:29 pm

“That would be the progressive force for wimmin whose chairman champions states rights protections for payday lenders”

Raymond Williams: To be truly radical is to make hope possible rather than despair convincing.

Well, at least I can credit you with absurdly unconvincing arguments for despair.

309

RNB 05.30.16 at 5:57 pm

Cool Bruce Wilder tells me I don’t care about human rights, but he won’t vote for Clinton to defeat Trump who has proposed deporting over 12 million people many of whom have long-standing connections of family and work in the US. Such a deep commitment to human rights that he can’t be bothered to cast a ballot with so much at stake!

310

Igor Belanov 05.30.16 at 7:38 pm

@336

“Raymond Williams: To be truly radical is to make hope possible rather than despair convincing.”

I don’t think Raymond Williams thought ‘making hope possible’ required people to put all their faith in Harold Wilson.

311

RNB 05.30.16 at 7:53 pm

Maybe we should consider Paul Gilroy’s concerns about the cultural conservatism that Raymond Williams and Enoch Powell shared? I don’t say this to endorse Gilroy’s criticism, as I have not thought it through and I am close to a scholar of Indian and Caribbean literature who tends to think Williams gets a bad rap here. But it seems an important moment in political theory/cultural studies.

312

Igor Belanov 05.30.16 at 8:04 pm

@339

At a certain level the likes of C.L.R. James were ‘culturally conservative’, but in some circumstances demanding that the standards and ethos of late-19th century public schools be extended to all is extremely radical politically.

313

root_e 05.30.16 at 8:39 pm

This is basic stuff, and I’m surprised I apparently have to describe it.

Assertion is not description.

314

root_e 05.30.16 at 8:45 pm

“I don’t think Raymond Williams thought ‘making hope possible’ required people to put all their faith in Harold Wilson.”

Has anyone suggested putting all faith in Harold Wilson or Hillary Clinton?

I’m sure Raymond Williams didn’t put all his faith in Winston Churchill, yet he enlisted in Churchills army to fight Hitler. That’s because he was a grownup who didn’t think sulking when the choices are suboptimal was a sensible path.

315

Anarcissie 05.30.16 at 9:08 pm

So Trump equals Hitler. I guess it’s a wrap.

316

The Temporary Name 05.30.16 at 9:12 pm

That’s because he was a grownup who didn’t think sulking when the choices are suboptimal was a sensible path.

Nevertheless, as a politician you want everyone voting for you, even the childish. Woe to Hillary, who does not apply honey to the soother.

317

Layman 05.30.16 at 9:40 pm

bruce wilder: “I also am not going to comment relentlessly and tendentiously.”

Remind me again which one of those you chose?

318

Layman 05.30.16 at 10:00 pm

“Lastly we’re told that actually opposing torture no matter who is in office is facilitating the Republican / Right hold on power, when we’re not being told that being careful about these claims is silly quibbling. You people really suck in every way.”

Poor Rich! Life can be hard for an arrogant prig! Perhaps it would help to acknowledge that some choices we’re offered are better than others, without being at the same time perfect; and that when people agree with you on the principle, it’s poor tactics to shit on them for not measuring up entirely to your exacting standards; and that if you want to spend your energy on uncharitable reading, you should expect that people won’t have much charity for your own scribblings.

319

root_e 05.30.16 at 11:07 pm

Now I know that a fictional character in a 60 year old tendentious propaganda film is the ultimate authority.

320

root_e 05.30.16 at 11:40 pm

“So Trump equals Hitler. I guess it’s a wrap.”

How do you distinguish Hitler from Churchill or FDR? They all prosecuted “modern war”, which according to you necessarily involves torture. All of them had internment camps. All had secret police and vast armies and killed masses of civilians from the skies. All the same, eh?

321

J-D 05.31.16 at 1:22 am

kidneystones @307

Wikipedia has a list of people who have endorsed Donald Trump’s campaign for President. Some people would consider many of the names on that list to be cause for alarm.

322

J-D 05.31.16 at 1:31 am

Ze K @318

In your hypothetical example, where you’re hypothetically a contract killer, you should be thinking about whether that’s a good occupation to be in. It would seem, hypothetically, important to know why the hypothetical version of you who has taken up that occupation has done so and is not abandoning it. In the hypothetical scenario, it seems massively unlikely to me that the reason you are not reflecting on the merits (or lack of them) of your choice of occupation is that you are being distracted from it by your hypothetical associates disagreeing with you about methods of hypothetical body disposal.

Similarly, I agree that it would be a good thing if the US reconsidered the merits of its whole approach to foreign policy; but the reason this is not happening is not because people are being distracted from the issue by arguments about torture.

Also, it’s rude to barge into an existing discussion to announce that the participants are wrong to be discussing their topic because it’s not as important as the topic you propose for discussion, and it’s still rude even if your topic definitely is more important.

323

Lee A. Arnold 05.31.16 at 1:44 am

Torture is being ended not only because it is immoral but also because it is dangerous: it often results in bad information, false confessions, and wrongful convictions. Obama has been instrumental in this, and formed the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group which is a big program of learning and training about how to get information without coercion. Nice new article on its use in civilian police work, here:
http://www.wired.com/2016/05/how-to-interrogate-suspects

324

J-D 05.31.16 at 2:02 am

Anarcissie @320

The choice faced by France was not a choice between two courses of action, one of which was likely to be followed by atrocities while the other was unlikely to be followed by atrocities. The choice was between two courses of action, both of which were likely to be followed by atrocities. As a matter of fact, what happened was that first France tried to retain control of Algeria, and atrocities followed, and then France ceased trying to retain control of Algeria, and atrocities followed.

If you argue that France should never have tried to retain control of Algeria and should have renounced control as soon as violence began there, I am inclined to agree with you. However, if you base your argument on the contention that any choice which is followed by atrocities must be wrong, I think that line of reasoning is dubious.

325

J-D 05.31.16 at 2:05 am

bruce wilder @328

We are going to get more of the same whether we vote for it or not, and whether we shut up or not; but it is not correct to say that what the people of the US (and of the world) will experience as the result of the election of a Republican President will not be significantly different from what the people of the US (and of the world) will experience as the result of the election of a Democratic President.

326

Anarcissie 05.31.16 at 3:46 am

J-D 05.31.16 at 2:02 am @ 352 —
‘Mathieu’ was speaking in a context where some of his countrymen, believing that France was a rational and civilized country, had taken exception to the methods used to suppress the revolt in Algeria. In his succinct, elegant little speech (scene 133 in the script) he points out that almost everyone in France, including the Left, had supported the war, and that the war had certain consequences. However, he could have been speaking to Americans, except that the French just wanted to control Algeria, the Americans (most of them, apparently) want to control the world, and seem to care a lot less about being rational and civilized.

I vainly dragged in ‘Mathieu’ because Layman @ 305 said there was a way of conducting a war without the use of torture. This is part of a system of delusions that help perpetuate the violent sociopathy of our great leaders, which I hope you will not require me to expand upon.

327

J-D 05.31.16 at 4:24 am

Anarcissie @335

‘We anti-war, anti-imperialism types have not done too well with the Democrats’

True; but it is equally true that anti-war, anti-imperialism types have done no better with the Republicans; and it is not true that there will be no significant difference between the experience of people of the US (and of the world) under a Republican President for the next four years and their experience under a Democratic President

‘One gets in a war to impose one’s will, or more likely the will of one’s masters, on other people, who for some reason do not wish to submit. They way this is done is by either killing them or injuring them so they can’t fight any more, terrifying them, locking them up in jails and camps, and by breaking their stuff and starving them.’

This is also true, but it’s a truth at a high level of abstraction. If you abstract away enough details, you can perceive any war as a situation where the wills of the two sides conflict and each is using violence to get its own way. Doing that, however, can leave out details which can be important. For example, there are examples of history of wars of pure aggression, where the will of one side, the aggressors, is to subjugate their opponents, seize their territory and property, and subject them to the continuing rule of the aggressors; while the will of the other side is to prevent this from happening and to retain their territory, their property, and their independence. Not all wars are like this, but some are; and although your abstract model formally applies to both sides even in such a war, that doesn’t justify evaluating the conduct of both sides equally.

Anarcissie @354

There is no valid general conclusion that anybody who has endorsed the idea of a war being prosecuted cannot legitimately object to anything that is done in the course of prosecuting that war, Even if it should happen to be true that a spercific conclusion along those lines is justified by the specific circumstances of the Algerian War, that would not be enough to establish the general conclusion.

It is true that terrible things happen in war and that terrible deeds are perpetrated, usually if not always by both sides (regardless of how much or how little justification either side has for engaging in war in the first place). However, it is not true that no restraint of conduct is ever observed in war; therefore, it can at least sometimes be justifiable to endorse the prosecution of a particular war but to advocate for restraint in its conduct.

328

root_e 05.31.16 at 5:01 am

Matheiu’s speech has all the persuasive force one might expect of a glib excuse presented by a fictional character in a horrible propaganda movie, but I confess to being unpersuaded still.

329

js. 05.31.16 at 6:02 am

OK look, I’m basically checking myself out of the interminable election debates, but if you’re calling Battle of Algiers a “horrible propaganda movie” you’re asking for a fucking fight.

330

root_e 05.31.16 at 6:27 am

I’m not a Ennio Morricone fan, sue me.

It’s actually a good film as cinema, but lame history. Too romantic.

—The army resorted to torture on a systematic scale to extract information that included the ‘disappearance’ of some 3,024 prisoners. Yet, there is no doubt that this repression strengthened support for the FLN. Out of the Casbah’s total population of 80,000, between thirty and forty per cent of its active male population was arrested at one stage or another, and in truth this had always been part of the FLN’s strategy. In pulling the trigger and letting the French react, it was unleashing a process of violence that would force the Algerian population full-square behind the FLN. — https://www.opendemocracy.net/martin-evans/battle-of-algiers-historical-truth-and-filmic-representation

Perhaps Matheiu was – gasp – wrong!

331

J-D 05.31.16 at 7:07 am

Ze K @359

Your so-called observation is of something that isn’t there.

Yes, I’m aware that I’m not obliged to read or respond to your comments (be they humble or not), so no useful purpose is served by your reminding me of this fact.

332

J-D 05.31.16 at 11:46 am

Ze K @361

Would it have been better if I had written ‘Your opinion weighed and found wanting’?

333

TM 05.31.16 at 2:23 pm

(:rolleyes)

334

J-D 05.31.16 at 11:52 pm

Ze K @363

Your intriguingly cryptic reference to peculiarities of my online persona causes me to reflect that I will never have your kind of online persona — but that’s a good thing, isn’t it? nobody would want more than one.

335

Anarcissie 06.01.16 at 12:41 am

J-D 05.31.16 at 4:24 am @ 355:
‘There is no valid general conclusion that anybody who has endorsed the idea of a war being prosecuted cannot legitimately object to anything that is done in the course of prosecuting that war.’

If they endorsed a war and then objected to the means necessary to carry on a war, or inevitably concomitant with a war, then they are either scarily ignorant or advanced hypocrites. One would probably hope that one’s great leaders were among the latter, in which case one would have the reassurance of standard politician weaselry.

Yes, if war is imposed upon one community by another, it does not have much choice about being in a war: the war, and all that goes with it, has already started. This does not seem relevant to the current discussion.

Comparing Trump to Clinton, it seems to me both are very likely to start or seriously exacerbate at least one war. I don’t see a realistic way of comparing the probabilities.

336

J-D 06.01.16 at 1:45 am

Anarcissie @366

Firstly, there are many things that have been done in the course of prosecuting wars which have not been necessary to carry on the war and which have not been inevitable concomitants of war. To take a specific example, the internment of Japanese Americans during the Second World War was neither necessary to carry on the war nor an inevitable concomitant of war. To endorse the US prosecution of the Second World War and yet to object to the internment of Japanese Americans was (or would have been) neither naïve nor hypocritical. A little more generally, the use of nuclear weapons is in the same category.

Secondly, there are more general categories of negative consequences which cannot be eliminated from warfare but which it is sometimes feasible to reduce. Very generally, this is true of all kinds of death, injury, and damage. Generals make plans which they know are certain to result in some fatalities among their own troops, yet (if they’re any good at their job) they aim to minimise the number, and this is, again, neither naïve nor hypocritical. It is also neither neither naïve nor hypocritical to seek to minimise non-combatant casualties (although it isn’t always done, and not everybody would agree that minimising non-combatant casualties is more important than minimising combatant casualties). More specifically, there are rules which either prohibit or restrict particular kinds of conduct in war. Breaches of this kind of rule are a typical part of the charges in war crimes trials. Where there are rules, it is always to be expected that there will be breaches of rules. Yet this does not mean that it is naïve or hypocritical to make rules, to give instructions for compliance, to attempt to enforce them, or to seek to minimise breaches.

I don’t know how you arrive at your conclusion that both Trump and Clinton are very likely to start or seriously exacerbate at least one war. If you could explain that it might suggest some basis for comparing the probabilities. However, even if it were somehow demonstrated that those specific probabilities are equal, that would not be sufficient to establish the more general conclusion that there will be no significant difference between the experience of people of the US (and of the world) under a Republican President for the next four years and their experience under a Democratic President.

337

J-D 06.01.16 at 9:46 am

Ze K @368

We’re not on a trajectory, which makes prediction much harder than you suppose.

338

root_e 06.01.16 at 12:57 pm

“Hmm. How about this: a continuation of the current trajectory (i.e. Clinton) leads, predictably, to a global disaster, while any attempt to break the trajectory (e.g. Trump) is stochastic in nature.”

As noted before: the only way to find a logical cohesion in the US “left” is to recognize that the organizing principle is “Republicans/Right should be in power”.

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steven johnson 06.01.16 at 2:30 pm

Ze K@368 “How about this: a continuation of the current trajectory (i.e. Clinton) leads, predictably, to a global disaster, while any attempt to break the trajectory (e.g. Trump) is stochastic in nature.”

If you took yourself seriously, wouldn’t you at some point say what the trajectory led to? The pivot to Asia suggests the final goal is regime change in China, which is to say, war. Trump’s China bashing doesn’t offer any prospect at all his accession will mean change in policy for the US deep state. China’s proposed New Silk Road is a road to nowhere (reflecting delusions about the long term viability of imperialism in the leadership,) but the very attempt will not only conflict with the current regime of world chaos for fun and profit. It will also conflict with Trump’s alleged campaign to re-industrialize the once great America. (If there’s any stochastic miracles in the offing, it is more likely to be the amazing discovery that Hilary was just going along to get to the top…and she was planning to really change things all along once she was in charge. But, unlike you, I say, there are no miracles.)

There is also of course the goal of regime change in Russia, which would also suggest a strong possibility of war. But Putin has already committed to negotiations, no matter what. In Ukraine he has accepted a fascist regime with the trivial military advantages of Crimea and the buffer zone in Lugansk and Donetsk. In Syria he has already terminated his serious intervention on the mere promise of negotiations he knows are insincere. Putin is nobody. He’ll be lucky to die of old age in prison. Of course Trump is willing to negotiate with someone who’s already put himself at a disadvantage. Since war is not the likely trajectory here, so much for the take a chance on Trump argument.

J-D@369 “We’re not on a trajectory…” No, none of the candidates, not Trump, not Clinton and not Sanders will address the trajectory. That’s because they have no problem with it. But that doesn’t mean courses of action will magically end in no change.

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Anarcissie 06.01.16 at 2:46 pm

J-D 06.01.16 at 1:45 am @ 367 —
Yes, wars sometimes have to be fought. Yes, some of the unpleasant aspects of a war (‘shock and awe’) might be reduced, if anybody wanted to reduce them. These assertions don’t change the fact that warfare inevitably brings about murder, mutilation, terror, torture, gross destruction of livelihood and infrastructure, disease, famine, degradation, etc. etc. etc. and for this reason a moral, rational person would struggle mightily to avoid starting a war, not start one or support starting one for no good reason other than political advancement — and then crow about it. Right?

‘I don’t know how you arrive at your conclusion that both Trump and Clinton are very likely to start or seriously exacerbate at least one war. If you could explain that it might suggest some basis for comparing the probabilities.’

We already know about Clinton’s record and connections. Clearly, a vote for Clinton is a vote to start a war or ramp up one of those currently running. In the case of Trump, we have no record and a set of contradictory statements and associations. Voting for Trump might seem to be like flipping a coin. But Trump’s style of bullying and blustering, if continued in presidential office, will encounter far tougher people than weaselly American politicians and real estate moguls, people who may not ‘make a deal’ but tell him to put up or shut up, like the leaders of China, Russia, Iran, Syria, and several other states and groups. In this context ‘put up’ means play war, and play war often means actually go to war, with the consequences I have so tediously and uselessly described already. A Trump victory is also likely to set aside the cool thuggery of our present leadership with some sort of stupid febrile nationalism, tempting to exploit, difficult to manage.

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Anarcissie 06.01.16 at 4:35 pm

Ze K 06.01.16 at 3:18 pm @ 373 —
I seem to recall that in 2000, Gore was supposed to be the interventionist and Bush the isolationist.

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milx 06.01.16 at 4:55 pm

I think the idea that Trump would be an isolationist, or start fewer wars than HRC, is wishful thinking. If your primary concern is anti-imperialism then I understand the need for fantasy in light of your choices but we all have to face reality at some point; he is a bellicose buffoon with a hair-trigger temper. It is hard for me to understand how anyone could look at his disposition and conclude otherwise. The only silver lining of a Trump presidency is that the American public will learn a whole lot more geography.

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bruce wilder 06.01.16 at 5:19 pm

I think Trump is a con man. I do not imagine that you can draw conclusions about policy from stage persona. A populist isolationism may well be bombastic without actually dropping bombs, just as a Clinton anti-terror policy can blow things up with the best of intentions. (She has always been for the children.)

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milx 06.01.16 at 5:20 pm

First of all I don’t think much stock should be put in the opinions of neoconservative leaders. Second of all, I’m not sure which neocons specifically you’re referring to. The last I checked they did not express any warmth towards Hillary. Bill Kristol for example said that Hillary would “be a dutiful chaperone of further American decline.” Cheney says he’ll vote for Trump. Kagan says he’ll vote for Hillary but in the context of an article where he doesn’t mention foreign policy at all and instead condemns the Republican party for bigotry + know-nothingness at home. Which I think leads naturally into point three which is that smart projection of American power is inconsistent with the kind of thoughtless, uneducated lashing out that I would anticipate from Trump. This is a nuanced point but important enough to pay attention I think: you can be a neoconservative and not be in favor of the candidate destined to start the most wars. That is because you are not just a blind warmonger but someone who believes might can be used to push American interests. Smart foreign policy takes precedence over bellicosity.

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steven johnson 06.01.16 at 5:25 pm

Ze K@374 Putin flinched at the mere possibility of fighting Turkey in Syria. He was of course rewarded by the Turkish ally Azerbaijan attacking his official ally Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh. There’s no perceptible trajectory towards war with Russia because there’s no reason to think Russia will fight back.

That’s partly because Putin’s capitalist Russia has nothing to offer its people, much less anyone else, to justify the sacrifices of resistance. He immediately sacrificed his last best hope, even by the rather fuzzy standards of realpolitik, by immediately acknowledging the fascist regime in Ukraine. His intervention in Syria has won nothing substantive, except to prove to the Syrian loyalists they have no allies against the Turks. Turkey is highly unstable and its regime could easily deceive itself that invasion of Syria will solve its problems. Is it really believable that Damascus will stand against Turkish ground troops when they know Putin, their alleged best ally, has already broken?

No doubt that’s partly because he likes fascists more than he likes antifascists. After all, they are likely to move into opposition at the first feasible opportunity. But every indication is that he really believes that imperialism can be reformed into a world of sovereign powers cooperating in amity, because economic forces can peacefully undo the verdicts of WWII. Soviet Russia won that war, not capitalist Russia. Putin’s Russian state is a capitalist restorationist regime whose greatest enemy is the mass of the people of the Russian Federation, just as it was under his master Yeltsin.

And Putin long ago wrote off the other hot spot. Putin is already pretending the threat to peace is the north, when it is the unstable southern regime that poses the threat. Some of the Chinese leaders will inevitably wake up. But they’ll remember Russia is not their ally in any meaningful sense of the word. Russia + China versus the US is a dicey enough proposition. Russia alone is too absurd for words. Putin has misjudged terribly in thinking some economic agreements substitute for a genuine alliance. Money doesn’t rule China the way it rules Russia. (It seems Xi personally would like capitalism to work well enough that he can rule with the support of all the middle class people getting rich on the stock market, but capitalism isn’t cooperating with him. “Hitch your wagon to a falling star!” Fail.)

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milx 06.01.16 at 5:26 pm

Just look at Trump’s constituency. There is zero concern for foreign lives. These people who want to deport millions of people are the same people who hate the Iran deal and want to drop bombs all over the Middle East. More war is one of the few Republican tenants that the base agrees upon. I don’t believe that the entire party has suddenly converted to a policy of careful restraint or smart isolationism. The moment there’s an opportunity they will be braying for foreign blood. Say what you will about Hillary, the Democratic base is at least split on the question and she will not face the same single-minded push to war that POTUS Trump would.

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milx 06.01.16 at 5:44 pm

I’m familiar with this bit of conventional wisdom; I am pushing back on it. I already mentioned Kristol and Cheney as two notable neocons who are not supporting Hillary (and the latter of whom is actually supporting Trump). If you read the National Review or Commentary or WaPost Op-Eds you will find that none of the usual suspects are enthusiastic about Hillary and most of them do not plan to support her. Here I’m talking about figures like Podhoretz, Tobin, Jennifer Rubin, and Jonah Goldberg. For every Max Boot or Kagan you can find I can find a dozen neocons who have said that they will not vote for Hillary. Many of them have said that they will support Trump. There’s a lot of bullshit about trying to make Trump’s platform palatable but here’s a news story a lot of the anti-imperialists seemed to miss that might make a difference to their pov: Trump Says Israel Should ‘Keep Moving Forward’ Building Illegal Settlements —
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-israel-settlements_us_572a03ede4b096e9f08fc693 — sounds like a real darling of the left.

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milx 06.01.16 at 6:01 pm

(I kinda secretly suspect that a lot of leftist cautious approval of Trump’s foreign policy has to do w/ a fantasy about his Israel policy. Much like the white supremacist right they have taken his claims of supposedly neutrality to mean that he would stick it to the Jews, and ignored statements to the contrary (like above about the settlements, or in his AIPAC speech). Any amount of new US entanglements may be justified as long as he shames Bibi. I think this is confusion, though, predicated on wishful thinking – Trump will get along great with Bibi much as he’ll get along great with Putin. They’re all of a type.) (Sorry if this does not describe you – I admit that this is a very tendentious argument based mostly on my gut feeling and maybe half a dozen conversations with hardcore Israel critics who seem to surprisingly approve of Trump up until I show them that he’s more pro-settlements than even that she-devil Hillary.)

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Layman 06.01.16 at 6:07 pm

@ Ze K, if a desire to invade other countries in order to seize their natural resources counts as a challenge to the Washington conventional wisdom that America must dominate the globe, then what foreign policy view would not?

@milx, before I spent too much time trying to analyze leftist cautious approval of Trump’s foreign policy, I would first want to find some.

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Anarcissie 06.01.16 at 6:51 pm

Ze K 06.01.16 at 4:51 pm
‘That was before the neocons seized control of the government…’

If we’re talking about war, imperialism, foreign affairs in general, interest in leading or dominating the world goes back at least to Wilson, and actual practice began not later than the World War 2 era. There’s not much neo in the con. Like the plutocracy, it’s politically and culturally institutionalized, another ‘vampire squid’ which will be very difficult to get rid of. This consideration adds to my doubt that Trump will be less warlike than Clinton, because trillions of dollars, great estates, and the very highest seats and tools of power are at stake, and a mere president is not going to be allowed to turn over the table from which so many feast. It seems obvious that whoever tries to do so will almost certainly be neutralized or removed.

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bruce wilder 06.01.16 at 7:28 pm

milx @ 385

Clinton is pro-Netanyahoo, pro-AIPAC, pro-settlement. Arguing that Clinton is somehow less pro-settlement than Trump, because Trump’s rhetoric is cruder and less coherent, less consistent than Clinton’s calculated pronouncements is magnifying a stylistic difference into an unwarranted contradiction of who and what Clinton is.

I understand wanting to find some glimmer of hope in this election. Whether that is trying to remake your view of Clinton in a near-sighted focus on differences in rhetoric or trying to see some rational policy purpose in the fog of Trump’s demagogic stream of consciousness, it is a delusional impulse.

Somebody spoke of “trajectory” and I think that is an apt metaphor for the institutional context, where the global order is breaking down even as kleptocratic elites tighten their grip. The past has imparted great momentum to a system that is moving rapidly forward even as it is falling unimpeded and unguided to ground.

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Rich Puchalsky 06.01.16 at 8:09 pm

I don’t see any way to rationally predict which candidate will cause more deaths due to war. HRC has a worse record (since Trump has none); Trump has worse rhetoric. HRC is more predictable, but she’s predictably bad.

As I’ve written elsewhere in these threads HRC is better from a left point of view because Presidents are constrained to some extent by their bases, and the Democratic base is further to the left in America than the GOP base. That really has nothing to do with who HRC or Trump are as individuals. If we have to consider their individual impact on policy, HRC is better if only because she’s not a global warming denier, Trump is, and that’s the most important problem we have right now. But this really comes down to the coalition/base again.

The focus on individual voting is meaningless. No individual vote matters, and the people who pretend that it does matter are just looking for cheap moral indignation. Here’s that link again.

I really do hope that the anonymous pro-HRC people here are paid professional trolls for David Brock, because the alternative is that they are a liability to the cause that they profess to support in a way that adds yet another annoyance to their already annoying qualities.

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The Temporary Name 06.01.16 at 9:18 pm

The focus on individual voting is meaningless.

And yet get-out-the-vote efforts are meaningful.

Look at the margins in the primaries and they’re pretty small. Sanders had a really good shot at it.

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bruce wilder 06.01.16 at 10:15 pm

RP: No individual vote matters, and the people who pretend that it does matter are just looking for cheap moral indignation.

There is a legitimizing function too, where people are herded into identifying tribally with one half of a dichotomy by the two-party system*. The “cheap moral indignation” is just a means to an end — an emotionally resonant moral handle to pull. That’s related to controlling mass behaviors, including but hardly limited to voting. I like the “herding” metaphor not just for its pejorative flavor, but because the cowboys cannot really control the movement of the herd with precise assurance in all circumstances and they are always stuck by serial autocorrelation in starting from wherever the herd is at the beginning of this particular cattle drive.

On the global warming front, HRC’s base (herd) is starting from a better place, but it is certainly possible to argue that Trump is better positioned to act, if he chooses to, as Nixon was in a better position to go to China. That’s the kind of argument that makes these kinds of projections such existential black holes. And, no I am not fantasizing that Trump will have an epiphany — what I do recognize is that Trump is not particularly attached to anything that he says. That’s part of what makes him an effective con man and demagogue; it frees him to say things that people respond to.

My working hypothesis is that Clinton will win the general election rather easily, because Trump, who can barely garner the support of a plurality of one Party will not be able to shed the animosities he generated saying provocative and offensive things to attract Republican support and because the buffoonish aspects of his self-presentation will seem too risky for many voters.

But, I am willing to entertain the possibility that Clinton really is the terrible candidate she appears to be and that of the two of them, Trump’s . . . flexibility . . . will mean that he is better able to “pivot” as they say. My working hypothesis was reinforced in 2012 by the evidence that Obama could run a low-risk campaign on small margins — among the smallest winning popular vote margins ever in a Presidential election. That was a remarkable tribute to campaign technologies of manipulation; of course, Romney was a suspiciously well-suited opponent. But, Obama has skills and self-discipline, both personal and organizational, that Clinton seems to lack. My working hypothesis is that Trump is an even worse general election candidate than Romney, so Clinton does not have nearly the challenge Obama faced, but maybe I’m wrong.

Clinton could win, but be so damaged by Trump’s power to ridicule and her own campaign’s ham-handed efforts to corral Sanders’ supporters that her effectiveness as President will be less than zero. The voting could matter less than the other, cultural effects of campaign tactics on political tribal identifications, legitimacy, participation, expectations and so on, in determining the ultimate “outcome” of the election in terms of how the country is governed and the U.S. makes its way on the global stage. And, again, projecting consequences runs into one of those existential blackholes.

* Too much to go into in a comment, but strictly speaking, two-party systems tend to produce not a two-way division, but a three-way division that is resolved by excluding or subordinating one part from political power. At the moment, in U.S. politics, that means what we here at CT laughably call “the left” are subordinated to the conservative neoliberal politics of Clinton.

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bruce wilder 06.01.16 at 10:28 pm

The focus on individual voting is meaningless.

And yet get-out-the-vote efforts are meaningful.

If competing campaigns so perfectly neutralize each other’s efforts in pursuit of the legendary median voter, then it all comes down to GOTV. But, then don’t competing GOTV efforts just neutralize each other as well? Then, what matters strategically is the tending of communities with reliable partisan identification ready to be stampeded in a timely way. A classic instance was the way GWB’s campaign used terror alerts to get him past the post in 2004.

First, we make the herd, then we stampede the herd.

An interesting question to me would be an analysis of variance. To what extent, can national campaign really “target” the handful of states where the electoral division is close enough for GOTV to matter? Some of the herding is definitely national in scope, breeding geographical resentments. I just wonder to what extent it is necessary to mobilize sentiment indiscriminately — to try to convince (marginal) California voters that their support for Clinton matters, when Clinton winning the State by a large margin is a certainty?

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The Temporary Name 06.01.16 at 10:32 pm

Clinton could win, but be so damaged by Trump’s power to ridicule and her own campaign’s ham-handed efforts to corral Sanders’ supporters

I’d keep in mind that the blowhards in the Sanders camp will likely have as much effect on the general election as the blowhards in the Clinton camp did when they were upended by Obama. That is, none. What’s to be hoped is that they have an effect on the platform.

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awy 06.01.16 at 10:33 pm

this reflexive need to blame the clinton campaign for the behavior of sanders people is hilarious.

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The Temporary Name 06.01.16 at 10:36 pm

If competing campaigns so perfectly neutralize each other’s efforts in pursuit of the legendary median voter, then it all comes down to GOTV. But, then don’t competing GOTV efforts just neutralize each other as well?

Why would they? Voter participation sucks.

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The Temporary Name 06.01.16 at 10:39 pm

Why would they? Voter participation sucks.

By which I mean a better GOTV effort is, uh, better. The Romney camp, for instance, relied on shit data and just did worse as a result.

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Rich Puchalsky 06.01.16 at 11:38 pm

The Temporary Name: “And yet get-out-the-vote efforts are meaningful.”

If you look at the linked post in #390 at “Here’s that link again,” that’s pretty much what it says.

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The Temporary Name 06.01.16 at 11:43 pm

If you look at the linked post in #390 at “Here’s that link again,” that’s pretty much what it says.

I present to you an imaginary cookie.

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bruce wilder 06.02.16 at 12:07 am

BW: “Clinton could win, but . . . be . . . damaged by . . . her own campaign’s ham-handed efforts to corral Sanders’ supporters . . .[in] her effectiveness as President

TN: I’d keep in mind that the blowhards in the Sanders camp will likely have as much effect on the general election as the blowhards in the Clinton camp did when they were upended by Obama.

awy: this reflexive need to blame the clinton campaign for the behavior of sanders people is hilarious.

It is the Clinton campaign’s job to get Sanders’ supporters to vote for her in the general election and to be inclined to support her Presidency after. Expressing hostility and condescension toward Sanders’ supporters is not a wise course. How Sanders’ supporters behave should never be an issue, since they have no power; everything they do should be greeted with understanding, forgiveness and love, sweet love by the Clinton people — anything else is political malpractice.

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bruce wilder 06.02.16 at 12:26 am

The Temporary Name @ 398

A vulture capitalist tax dodger from a cult despised by his own Party’s evangelical base and with no ties to his own Party’s deep South reactionary redoubt, Romney may well have been the only one in his campaign who ever thought he might have a chance, if even he did.

Romney’s whole campaign was a forlorn hope. GOTV in such circumstances makes no difference, which was my point. There may well be strategic circumstances where it is the tactical key, but the 2012 Presidential election sure wasn’t one of them.

By its very nature, GOTV is only likely to be relevant to the electoral outcome locally and when the difference is very small. So, in a Presidential campaign, there’s naturally going to be a tension between blanket efforts and targeted efforts, with GOTV, I would think, tied to the latter.

Republicans in Florida and Ohio and elsewhere have demonstrated that voter suppression is cheaper and more effective, but that, too, is a state and local matter.

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root_e 06.02.16 at 12:47 am

“I seem to recall that in 2000, Gore was supposed to be the interventionist and Bush the isolationist.”

Only the “left” Nader apologists made that claim.

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root_e 06.02.16 at 12:50 am

“The focus on individual voting is meaningless. No individual vote matters, and the people who pretend that it does matter are just looking for cheap moral indignation.”

Which is why the right has spent so much money on voter suppression. The “left” quest to leave right wing power unchallenged, continues.

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Rich Puchalsky 06.02.16 at 1:33 am

root_e: “Which is why the right has spent so much money on voter suppression.”

Yes, voter suppression is all about individual voting. There’s this one person, and the GOP plots out how to suppress that person’s vote. It’s not at all something that affects a whole class of people, enough of them to make a difference.

You can’t read, can’t think, can’t argue, can’t do much of anything apparently.

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root_e 06.02.16 at 1:54 am

Weird how statistics works, Rich.

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Anarcissie 06.02.16 at 2:29 am

bruce wilder 06.02.16 at 12:07 am @ 401:
‘It is the Clinton campaign’s job to get Sanders’ supporters to vote for her in the general election and to be inclined to support her Presidency after.’

From what I’ve been reading lately, the Clinton campaign’s current concept of its job is to identify Sanders and his supporters as the reason they’re going to lose in November. Now, I realize that all that is available to me is outer-darkness pundit puffballery, but there is a lot of that stuff around and it might have some vague connection with reality. In that case no effort need be made to draw in the aforesaid supporters or their heresiarch.

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Rich Puchalsky 06.02.16 at 2:31 am

The Temporary Name: “I’d keep in mind that the blowhards in the Sanders camp will likely have as much effect on the general election as the blowhards in the Clinton camp did when they were upended by Obama. That is, none. What’s to be hoped is that they have an effect on the platform.”

I don’t see why their effect if any on the platform is at all meaningful. Platforms aren’t binding and politicians routinely ignore them once in office. What’s meaningful about a platform is what the controlling apparatus puts into it: that may give a clue to their actual thinking or that of the main candidate, or at least a clue to what they imagine that people want them to appear to think. Dissident planks put into a platform are going to be ignored and mean nothing.

And “blowhards in the Sanders camp” aren’t the issue. I expect just about everyone who is sufficiently involved in politics to be expressing loud opinions at this stage to end up being herded into support for HRC or Trump along traditional tribal lesser-evil lines. The issue, for the Democrats, is the huge pool of younger people who don’t vote very steadily. Are they going to turn out or not?

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The Temporary Name 06.02.16 at 2:59 am

Romney’s whole campaign was a forlorn hope.

I think so and thought so at the time, given that he was the only one in a field of clowns who were barely sane. Then this year happened!

In any case, the popular vote was won by six million on voter turnout of 54.9% of lazy-ass voters.

I don’t think it’s realistic that your GOTV effort could put an extra six million votes into play, but it seems to be an age of miracles.

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The Temporary Name 06.02.16 at 3:02 am

“only one who was even presentable” I meant to say.

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The Temporary Name 06.02.16 at 3:27 am

And “blowhards in the Sanders camp” aren’t the issue.

Yes, I think they’re an outsized Thing On The Internet, like libertarians, and with less clout. Most people who voted for Sanders in primaries aren’t weirdos like us who hash all this crap out endlessly, and they’ve moved on and will vote for the Democrat against the obviously more odious Trump.

On the platform, though, that stuff is supposed to represent votes. Cynical politicians (and maybe the fantasy good politician, wherever that person might be) want those votes and might actually cater to the constituencies the platform represents.

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J-D 06.02.16 at 5:50 am

Anarcissie @372
‘Yes, some of the unpleasant aspects of a war (‘shock and awe’) might be reduced, if anybody wanted to reduce them.’

That’s something that is, not merely something that might be. Some people do sometimes attempt to reduce some of the unpleasant aspects of a war, and sometimes they succeed. Such efforts should not be dismissed as being invariably either naïve or hypocritical, not even when they come from people who have endorsed the prosecution of a particular war.

See, I agree with you that war invariably brings horrors of suffering and death. I think it’s a slight overstatement of your case to suggest that war inevitably brings about ‘murder, mutilation, terror, torture, gross destruction of livelihood and infrastructure, disease, famine, degradation, etc. etc. etc.’ because it’s not literally true that every single war has been characterised by all of those things, but it’s generally true that war brings vastly increased likelihoods of all those things and that it’s foolish to think you can embark on a war with confidence that those things can be completely prevented. I also agree that it’s extremely common for advocates of a war to advance disingenuous arguments in its favour and also for many to accept those arguments naïvely. Any decent sensible person should always treat any argument in favour of war with massive caution because of the high likelihood that it’s based on major miscalculations or outright lies or both and because of the certainty, as a consideration on the other side, of the horrible suffering that comes with war. But you seemed to be going beyond that to argue that once you’ve embarked on war you might as well give up on any attempts to mitigate its horrors, and that conclusion, if you do really and literally mean it, goes further than is justified.

‘We already know about Clinton’s record and connections. Clearly, a vote for Clinton is a vote to start a war or ramp up one of those currently running.’

That’s not clear to me. Which wars did Clinton start?

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J-D 06.02.16 at 6:10 am

steven johnson (@371) quotes me and responds, as follows:

‘J-D@369 “We’re not on a trajectory…” No, none of the candidates, not Trump, not Clinton and not Sanders will address the trajectory’

No, the reason no candidate will ‘address’ (whatever that means) the alleged trajectory is that there is no trajectory.

In the same comment, steven johnson quotes and respond to Ze K as follows:

‘Ze K@368 “How about this: a continuation of the current trajectory (i.e. Clinton) leads, predictably, to a global disaster, while any attempt to break the trajectory (e.g. Trump) is stochastic in nature.”

‘If you took yourself seriously, wouldn’t you at some point say what the trajectory led to?’

If either of you took what you’re writing seriously, wouldn’t you chart the series of points on this alleged trajectory?

bruce wilder @389
‘The past has imparted great momentum to a system that is moving rapidly forward even as it is falling unimpeded and unguided to ground.’

If that’s an apt metaphor for the current state of the world, it’s an equally apt metaphor for every period in human history; it tells us nothing specific to the present.

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bruce wilder 06.02.16 at 6:48 am

J-D @ 412, 413:

I remember reading Paul Kennedy’s The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers in the late 1980’s and thinking the U.S. might well avoid some of the problems of self-deluded imperial overreach he identified. Ha!

I know you don’t understand. That doesn’t make stupid an argument.

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Anarcissie 06.02.16 at 2:23 pm

J-D 06.02.16 at 5:50 am @ 412 —
I tried — vainly, I see — to avoid quibbles about marginal cases, like the US invasion of Grenada, by mentioning size and duration. Large, serious wars like the invasion of Iraq in 2002 are inevitably going to result in numerous atrocities, as I said. Choosing to embark on such a war, other than in last-resort extremity, is freely choosing to commit those atrocities. That is why the charter of the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials defined starting a war as a war crime independent of the particular, specific atrocities committed. Voluntarily supporting those who do such things is making oneself an accomplice. If someone in your neighborhood went around killing, mutilating, torturing, terrorizing, robbing, raping, and looting other people, you would probably think something ought to be done to restrain them. But if they do their thing in Washington, D.C., or some hapless foreign country, many of my fellow citizens seem to think they should be celebrated and elected.

H. R. Clinton did not start any wars I know about because she did not have the power. However, she has been an enthusiastic and sometimes crucial supporter of those that came along in recent decades. It seems very likely, then, that given the power, she will start new ones, or expand existing ones. Why not?

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The Temporary Name 06.02.16 at 2:39 pm

However, she has been an enthusiastic and sometimes crucial supporter

To which war was Hillary Clinton crucial?

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Anarcissie 06.02.16 at 3:10 pm

The Temporary Name 06.02.16 at 2:39 pm @ 417 —
I don’t believe Bush II could have gotten Iraq 2003 started without getting a lot of important Democrats on board. Clinton was one of those people. She was also said to have strongly pushed Libya 2011. (Conceded, the story appeared in The New York Times, but a lot of people seem to believe it.)

Do I really have to recite these items? I thought they were common knowledge. Or do you think they are fables?

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Rich Puchalsky 06.02.16 at 3:13 pm

I don’t know about “crucial”, but HRC:
* urged Bill Clinton to bomb Serbia;
* said during her 2008 Presidential campaign that her Senatorial vote to invade Iraq wasn’t a mistake, and wanted to keep troops there past 2011;
* backed an escalation of the Afghanistan War, still wants to leave troops there;
* at the State Dept., helped to support drone strikes;
* backed intervention in Libya: “we came, we saw, he died”: still thinks intervention there was “smart power at its best”;
* urged Obama to arm Syrian rebels and called for air strikes and special forces.

Did I miss any? Was there any war during the time period during which she was influential that she didn’t support?

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RNB 06.02.16 at 3:24 pm

What Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders did support was the sanctions on Iraq after the first war; neither reckoned with the human costs on the Iraqi people. Sanders voted for the first Iraq Regime Change Act, and Clinton clearly warned Bush not to misuse the authority the Senate gave him to go to War. If I had to guess, I would guess that HRC as President would not have made the decision to occupy Iraq but continued the murderous sanctions that her husband imposed and that had bipartisan support.

Bernie Sanders who supported the bombing in Serbia as had the Clintons sponsored a Senate resolution that expressed support for what the Security Council had and would authorize in Libya. Trump called for bombing in Libya too.

Where perhaps Clinton was different is in the military support she wanted to provide the Free Syrian Army through a no-fly zone. Obama ruled against this. This was not a call for troops on the ground. But it is where Clinton seemed more hawkish than Obama and probably Sanders, and it is here where she could be challenged. Mind you, it is a challenge she would most happily accept, given what she perceives as the consequences of having left Assad in power. It has been a distraction to focus on Libya as where her foreign policy proved more hawkish than Sander’s or Trump’s. It wasn’t in this case. But her preference for supporting the Free Syrian army does seem to distinguish her as more hawkish. For reasons I do not understand Sanders never made this an issue in the nomination race.

Perhaps except in the case of Afghanistan, Clinton has ruled out putting a lot of troops on the ground except for a few hundred advisers. Sanders seems to have the same position on Afghanistan as Clinton; at least he has done nothing to distinguish himself here. He too supports the drone warfare that Obama has carried out against the Taliban.

Trump has called for seizing the oil in Iraq after a bombing campaign. As Col. Mansoor has pointed out that oil is in southern Iraq where ISIS does not have a strong hold. Trump’s plan would be a declaration of war on the Iraqi people.

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bruce wilder 06.02.16 at 3:27 pm

As Senator and Secretary of State, she had some power, which she used to support the war in Afganistan, the invasion of Iraq and the bombing campaign in Libya. Additionally, as Secretary of State, she supported the military coup in Honduras in 2009, which has contributed to that region’s descent into murderous poverty. She supported the U.S. policy of hostility to the Assad regime in Syria and the overthrow of Ukraine’s government. Since leaving office, she was notably aggressive in her declarations regarding Obama’s deal with Iran, which she seemed to support grudgingly and with significant reservations. She has been outspoken in her support of Israel’s Netanyahu.

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RNB 06.02.16 at 3:33 pm

She was opposed to the surge in Iraq as a Senator, and worked with Gates to withdraw troops from Iraq. She did not recognize the coup in Honduras such because she made the calculation that the sanctions she would be duty-bound to put in place would be worse for the Honduran people. It seems however that she just did not want to bothered with the problem given the challenges in Iraq and Afghanistan and turned a blind eye to what had happened in Honduras. She has been hostile to the Assad regime, more hostile than Obama. And she will argue that Obama was not hostile enough, though the opportunity for supporting the Free Syrian Army has now disappeared. And it’s not clear what she proposes to do in Syria today. Her main foreign policy adviser is the person who seems to have done most of the heavy lifting in the Iran deal, Jake Sullivan.

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bruce wilder 06.02.16 at 3:35 pm

If she gets Jake Sullivan, she gets Victoria Nuland, too.

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RNB 06.02.16 at 3:54 pm

My biggest concern is that Clinton will be willing to willing fight a proxy war for US allies Saudi Arabia and Israel, such as the one against Assad, without such military action being in the interest of the Syrians or Americans.

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RNB 06.02.16 at 4:27 pm

@425 Not going with Stockman on anything. But Stephen F. Cohen has been critical of NATO expansion, and is challenging Clinton’s likely foreign policy here. Will read more from him, Stockman not.

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The Temporary Name 06.02.16 at 4:31 pm

Anarcissie 06.02.16 at 3:10 pm
Do I really have to recite these items?

Yes, because you haven’t made a case that she was crucial to any of it. Nor has anyone else of course. I’m happy to be on board with fearing her foreign policy – I fear it! – but bullshit doesn’t help.

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engels 06.02.16 at 4:49 pm

Iana political scientist but this seems to me to be a pretty persuasive debunking of the Aachen and Bartels:

…Achen and Bartels’s numbers come from a January 2016 survey conducted for the American National Elections Studies. It contains some of the most detailed information we have on the political views of different primary candidates’ supporters. But as the political scientists Christopher Hare and Robert Lupton have pointed out, there’s one major problem with the ANES survey: it asked respondents to choose a Democratic candidate “regardless of whether you will vote in the Democratic primary this year.” As a result of the open-ended wording, a large proportion of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents appear to weigh in: about 40 percent of them selected a favorite Democratic candidate. Many of these Republicans and Republican leaners (very similar groups of people) chose Bernie Sanders. Some of them, no doubt, were sincere. After all, Sanders has consistently eclipsed Hillary Clinton in general election polls. But it’s doubtful that more than a handful of these Republican respondents — like the 50 percent of Democrats who picked a favorite GOP candidate — expressed anything like a meaningful political commitment. If we want to truly understand where Sanders voters stand within the broader Democratic electorate, it makes little sense to use a survey sample that is fully one quarter Republican.

Interestingly, when we remove these GOP respondents from the pool, the sharpest differences between Sanders and Clinton supporters occur not on economic policy but on questions involving gender and race. And for all the online chatter about sexist “Bernie Bros,” the ANES data offer little evidence that Sanders voters embrace him out of a desire to buttress their male identity. Sanders backers, for instance, were more likely to strongly endorse requiring employers to pay men and women equally for the same work. They were also much more assertive in their support for mandatory paid parental leave…

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Anarcissie 06.02.16 at 4:58 pm

The Temporary Name 06.02.16 at 4:31 pm @ 427 —
Well, of course, all politics is ‘bullshit’ in that mathematical proofs about it are not available to us, but it seems we have to deal with it anyway. Obviously, anything I say about cruciality is merely an opinion, and you know what they say about opinions.

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The Temporary Name 06.02.16 at 5:05 pm

Anarcissie, if you want to cop to just bullshitting that’s fine, but we already have Ze K.

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engels 06.02.16 at 5:15 pm

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RNB 06.02.16 at 5:28 pm

Well yes it is better to exclude Republican voters than include only Democratic-leaning ones as Nick did here and I vociferously challenged. But once the Republicans are taken out from the survey (and this works to Sanders favor because he is probably attracting more Republicans who won’t vote for Trump than Clinton is; there is some cross-over vote), the differences between the two camps seems “detectable” but not very big at all. But thanks engels for these pieces, and I’ll read them tonight.

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RNB 06.02.16 at 5:50 pm

I would think that one of the reasons Sanders does better than Clinton in head-to-head polls with Trump is that he is attracting more Republican cross-over votes who thinks he sounds like he wants to cut off trade with poor countries, is more conservative on immigration, and wants to let a reckless financial sector go bankrupt. I don’t consider these progressive positions, but others may disagree. So I think it distorts things to completely exclude those Republican leaners who would vote for him over Clinton; some of them would vote for him over Trump too, and probably already have.

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RNB 06.02.16 at 5:58 pm

The thermometer rating Sanders has among Republicans is really high compared to Clinton’s. I think 3x higher, right?; does not seem wise to exclude all Republican leaners as potential voters for Sanders. And they bring their baggage with them. Maybe what we should do is discount the Republicans who prefer him to Clinton. Say only 10-20% of them would vote for Sanders and belong in his camp. Or whatever the crossover vote data makes reasonable but totally excluding them does not seem to make sense.

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bruce wilder 06.02.16 at 6:14 pm

. . . you haven’t made a case that she was crucial to any of it.

Was anyone crucial to any of it?

You can lose all sense of the pattern, if you move in closely enough to see the dots in a newspaper photo. There are literally tens of thousands of people involved in making U.S. foreign policy in Congress, in the military, in various “think tanks” and lobbying groups, at State, Defense and the Intelligence agencies, at New York investment banks and corporate headquarters. The scale of the thing is something we do not have adequate language or literary templates for, which is why some of us use labels like neoliberal and neocon. But, then, we get called out for the use of labels or the pedantry, say, of recalling the role of the Project for a New American Century in gestating the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq when someone else wants to explain that it wasn’t about oil, it was about the younger Bush’s Oedipal issues or some other fatuous thesis.

So, yeah, Hillary Clinton has been only a face in a very large crowd of mostly faceless people and if she has sometimes made an effort to place herself near the front of the moving mass, it is more a mark of her ambition for a leadership role than that she was ever conducting the orchestra let alone orchestrating the symphony.

I once made my way thru the Senate speech where she explained her Iraq War vote before casting it, and she said a lot of sensible things and articulated reasons for caution; a cynic would say she was apparently hedging her bet. Like most politicians, I suppose, she hedges her bets — no surprise there. She wasn’t the crucial vote on Iraq and she knew that, and she may well have feared that if the Iraq reconstruction had gone well, a history of opposition to a successful and popular program would cast a dark shadow on her aspirations. George H. W. Bush’s brief period of popular acclaim must have been a vivid memory. It didn’t turn out that way, of course, which suggests both her policy and political judgment was poor. She now admits she made a mistake, but isn’t too clear on the nature of that mistake; her enthusiasm for Libya suggests her judgment has not improved with experience.

I embraced the metaphor, “trajectory”, above. Behind that metaphor is the sense that policy emerges from politics with tens and hundreds of thousands of hands coordinated into a kind of machine that moves forward doing what it does. How people near the top of the governing mechanisms, in the White House, the Departments, in the communities of policy entrepreneurs and political operatives understand their options and the consequences of their interventions in the working of the machinery can be crucial, but the machinery will mostly move of its own accord on established patterns of thought and habits of operational doctrine.

The more sophisticated critiques of U.S. foreign policy are usually focused on the inertia of the machine, its habits and structure and design, not the particular wilful acts of its civilian political leadership — though, of course, those interact. Both the dramatic gestures from the top and the doctrines and habits of the machine interact most critically with an understanding of how political societies work, since ultimately the interventions depend for strategic effect on the dynamics of the societies they disrupt.

George W Bush and his Administration was rightly criticized, in my opinion, for lying their way into the Iraq invasion, for absurdly inadequate planning for the aftermath and reconstruction, for rampant corruption in reconstruction efforts, for abusing the system of military reserves and the use of private military contractors to supply personnel, and so on. Hillary Clinton has had ample opportunity to articulate detailed criticisms and distance herself from this kind of malfeasance, to propose military reforms and so on. She has done very little that I can see, beyond sound-bite statements: “It was a mistake.” and the like. She opposed to GWB’s Surge, but then conceded that “it worked” and was part of Obama’s decision to repeat that pseudo-strategy in Afganistan, ramping up the American death toll.

I am not personally a fan of laissez faire in economics or foreign policy, though embracing some principle of non-intervention is a common response of people who are rightly and correctly dismayed by the complexity of political societies or the complexity of the massive U.S. military and international corporate economic system, which becomes the instrument of intervention.

The U.S. foreign policy establishment showed its moral bankruptcy in the 1980s and 1990s in the evolving doctrine of imposing international economic sanctions. Clinton has been tagged by Madeleine Albright affirming the cost-benefits of Iraq sanctions that killed hundreds of thousands during her husband’s administration. The palsy of the U.S. military and intelligence establishments, which equip, train, and advise on autopilot and repeatedly to no good effect is apparent; Clinton has only to take notice publicly, but she doesn’t. It is as much these sins of omission as finding her fingerprints on a particular pistol that lead me to think she does not intend to try to do things much differently, despite the grudging concession of particular mistakes.

The U.S. is in its 15th year in Afghanistan and has been nearly that long in Iraq and now pretends to have withdrawn from both those benighted countries while continuing massive military operations. If Clinton is promising to deviate from this pattern of draining away American prestige and resources in futile, costly and destructive interventions, I am sorry I have missed it.

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steven johnson 06.02.16 at 6:15 pm

J-D@413 commits to the notion that the “Pivot to Asia” means nothing. US diplomatic efforts to enlist the Philippines and Vietnam in fake controversy over islands means nothing either. Sending warships and aircraft on provocative missions means nothing. The recent military exercises practicing on interdicting the Malacca Straits (as to Chinese freight) means nothing. Covert support for jihadis, including Uighurs, means nothing. Propaganda assaults on China for unsubstantiated cyberattacks means nothing. Etc. etc. It is J-D’s contention there is “no trajectory” is the claim there is no pattern and that even if there were, unchecked it wouldn’t lead to fatal consequences. Plainly it is wise to conclude it is J-D who means nothing.

For others, no doubt, the notion Sanders has no serious issues with a long term series of policy decisions that threaten war is the contentious claim. Nonetheless, barring the evidence from telepathy, absence of campaign controversy means agreement.

Further despite the talk about billionaires’ rule, in practice the US power elite includes not just Wall Street, nor just those politicians who extort campaign contributions and speaking fees from hard working rich people. (You did not really think that the Clintons got speaking fees because the rich people really valued what they had to say, did you? Part of the animus against “politicians” is the way they parley popular votes into power over their betters, like Trump or whomever.) The real government, the deep state to borrow a phrase from countries where power can’t afford the best PR, in the US is also composed of the military/police/intelligence/security apparatus. Sanders has no problem with them either.

The military by the way has a problem with the Clintons, even more than Obama. Since being an insider would include being in well with that crowd, it’s HRC who’s the outsider. Even in political terms the Clintons have been outsiders. Chicago is a big money town and its sale people (aka politicians) are a serious part of the system in a way that sales people (politicians) from two bit markets like Arkansas aren’t. It was no accident that practically the first political crisis in the Clinton administration was over gays in the military. Channel surfing, I saw some nasty little sniper shit whining about the Clintons making military personnel wear civvies in the White House.

And HRC is in no better odor with the intelligence apparatus. Consider the fake scandal over Benghazi. The attack was almost certainly by jihadis falling out with their US sponsors, something Clinton loyally denied by attributing the attack to a spontaneous riot. Or consider the fake scandal over the email. Everybody in government who got an email from her office got a tag line that plainly indicated it wasn’t from a government server. And everyone who sent an email sent it to a non-governmental URL. It’s almost certain it wasn’t a problem when she was Secretary of State because the point was to keep certain things secret. It would be naive to think it was just her personal dirty laundry, because that server would have been a problem then, not now. But then she was keeping government dirty laundry away from FOIA. The intelligence services have hung her out to dry, dirty politics at its worst.

Clinton won re-election but it is highly unlikely that he would have won without Ross Perot’s candidacy. How this marks an insider to the manor born is a mystery to me, and everybody else. He was of course impeached promptly, HRC’s likely fate, just as a reminder of his insider status I suppose?

Sanders has a long established record as toothless. It is possible the Democratic Party will end up nominating this man, thinking he is destined to fail, and discredit what tiny fragments of leftism are left in this country. After all, Trump isn’t really about isolationism, protectionism, re-industrialization, not even about tribalism. Trump is about the owners kicking aside those politicians who come begging for money, money, money, or taxing, taxing, taxing for nobodies without money, and tearing up all this democracy shit for once and for all. Nixon wanted too, but the rulers weren’t quite ready. Judging from the love for Trump? They are.

Further, even though Sanders doesn’t like Wall Street financiers, the deep state also includes the media. Trump of course is the insider here. But Sanders has no problem with the blatant support the media has given Trump via free publicity.

Ze K @415 I’m not wishing Putin was bolder. He believes in capitalism. A bolder imperialist chieftain is no gift to humanity. For the sake of the Russian people I wish he would try pursuing collective security at least. But the link you provided is quite clear that Putin fancies he is restoring Russia’s place in the world, not fighting a long campaign for his nation’s survival as a unified state. Worse, the moderation in the article I think is no moderation at all. Russian capitalism doesn’t give Putin the means for his (self)aggrandizing daydreams.

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The Temporary Name 06.02.16 at 6:22 pm

Was anyone crucial to any of it?

Well yeah.

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bruce wilder 06.02.16 at 6:45 pm

Here’s the another thing about “trajectory”:

A long view will recognize that the international order, political and economic, put in place after WWII and modified by Nixon, Carter and Reagan, is breaking down with the decline of American capacity for economic and military hegemony vis a vis an emerging multi-polar world. It is time to rethink the goals and frameworks for the global order, to respond to the playing out of “free trade” for example, or the deterioration of military interventions into a perpetual war on terror as mistakes that need to be corrected. The problems of global resources limits, mass migration and the need for economic constraints to preserve the natural world and prevent runaway climate change are looming as imperative challenges.

Incremental “free trade” reforms have a history that goes back to the creation of the Bretton Woods system during WWII and the later creation of GATT and the U.S. positioning itself as a consumer market of first resort for the export-led development of Western Europe and East Asia. Obama is pushing TPP and its European equivalent under the aegis of “free trade” though they institute a regime of global domination by business corporations. Clinton was for these agreements as Secretary of State, but is now nominally against them, just as she once favored NAFTA, but changed her mind in time to win the Ohio primary in 2008.

The financialization of the U.S. economy and decline of manufacturing facilitated by late-stage “free trade” agreements has become a major problem. The stubborn refusal of the Republican and Democratic party establishments to acknowledge or respond to popular discontent is an important factor driving support for Trump (and Sanders, too, I suppose).

But, RNB tells me that “free trade” and preserving our criminally corrupt financial system are progressive causes that lead sensible people to support Clinton, so it must be so. I am sure it will all work out well.

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bruce wilder 06.02.16 at 6:50 pm

Q: Was anyone crucial to any of it?

TNN: Well yeah.

Then, let’s hang ’em.

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The Temporary Name 06.02.16 at 6:56 pm

Who is the sainted president who doesn’t deserve the noose? Maybe it’ll be Trump!

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milx 06.02.16 at 7:57 pm

“My biggest concern is that Clinton will be willing to willing fight a proxy war for US allies Saudi Arabia and Israel, such as the one against Assad, without such military action being in the interest of the Syrians or Americans.”

If it makes you feel better I think neither the Israelis or the Saudis want the US to fight a proxy war for them in Syria because the status quo is their ideal circumstance (Hezbollah, Assad and Iran all bleeding resources and manpower with no end in sight) and US involvement could only hasten the end of the war.

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The Temporary Name 06.02.16 at 8:50 pm

I don’t wanna stay at your party
I don’t wanna talk with your friends
I don’t wanna vote for your president
I just wanna be your tugboat captain

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JeffreyG 06.02.16 at 9:46 pm

Clinton, alongside Robert Gates, played a key role in the “boxing in” of Obama during the 2009 debate on troop deployment into Afghanistan (the so called ‘surge’). Her hawkishness on this decision is noted in the (sparse) academic literature on this as being out of character for a Secretary of State.

See:

‘Obama’s Surge: A Bureaucratic Politics Analysis of the Decision to Order a Troop Surge in the Afghanistan War’ – Kevin Marsh; 2014

also-

How Obama Came to Plan for ‘Surge’ in Afghanistan
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/06/world/asia/06reconstruct.html
[With Mr. Biden leading the skeptics, Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Gates and Admiral Mullen increasingly aligned behind a more robust force. Mrs. Clinton wanted to make sure she was a formidable player in the process.

“There was no consensus yet on troop numbers, however, so Mr. Obama called a smaller group of advisers together on Oct. 26 to finally press Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Gates. Mrs. Clinton made it clear that she was comfortable with General McChrystal’s request for 40,000 troops or something close to it; Mr. Gates also favored a big force.
Mr. Obama was leery.”]

In addition, when Obama is contemplating drawing-down that same surge (in 2011), he notably excludes not just the generals from the decision making, but also largely excludes Clinton and Gates. By my reading, this is strong evidence for the contention that HRC exerted significant pressure on Obama in the initial decision, to the point that he would exclude her from much of the decision making process in the future.

Charting Obama’s Journey to a Shift on Afghanistan
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/20/us/obamas-journey-to-reshape-afghanistan-war.html

[“By early 2011, Mr. Obama had seen enough. He told his staff to arrange a speedy, orderly exit from Afghanistan. This time there would be no announced national security meetings, no debates with the generals. ” …
“Even Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton were left out until the final six weeks.”]

We all know that HRC is a hawk – arguably among the most hawkish of our current crop of Democratic politicians. Yet the eagerness with which certain liberals jump to defend that hawkishness is nearly as disconcerting as her foreign policy record itself (note: hyperbole). The whole argument for #teamBlue is that the left will be better positioned to pressure a Dem president rather than a Republican one. But if the majority of her base is so willing to forget and/or apologize for HRC’s past errors, this whole argument collapses. (If you want to make a point about pragmatism, it helps if one is not so obviously tribal about it).

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The Temporary Name 06.02.16 at 9:57 pm

Jeffrey, I think that’s a fine case for cruciality. Beats Anarcissie. Point taken.

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JeffreyG 06.02.16 at 10:00 pm

HRC has sold herself on the campaign trail as a continuation of Obama’s policies, but behind closed doors as Sec. of State, her most consistent ally in Obama’s cabinet was Robert Gates, a republican Defense Secretary. The two of them frequently clashed with Obama, and even more often with Biden, on issues of foreign affairs. At times, HRC was even more hawkish than Gates himself, as in the case of Libya, and (arguably) with respect to Syria as well.

http://cnsnews.com/news/article/susan-jones/ex-defense-secretary-gates-hillary-clinton-more-hawkish-president-obama

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RNB 06.03.16 at 3:17 pm

Obama was committed to redeploying from Iraq to Afghanistan. He ran on this. the only way Clinton was more hawkish on this was that she thought for strategic purposes a withdrawal date should not be explicitly announced, and she agreed to 10 or 20K more troops for this short period that the military asked for. But if we are going to have this discussion, we should discuss why the US military should not be supporting the Afghani forces against the ISI-backed Taliban. Obama sent 10K troops back in this year, and of course has continued drone attacks. Sanders has supported this. I don’t see case for Clinton being more hawkish here.

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RNB 06.03.16 at 3:20 pm

When excluding Republican voters, Sanders supporters seem to think more than Clinton supporters that it’s harder to climb the economic ladder. Compared to when? Eight years ago? How can one say that there is less economic opportunity now than there was before the Obama Administration?

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Anarcissie 06.03.16 at 3:55 pm

RNB 06.03.16 at 3:17 pm @ 447:
‘But if we are going to have this discussion, we should discuss why the US military should not be supporting the Afghani forces against the ISI-backed Taliban.’

Yes, an excellent question. More generally, why are ‘we’ in Afghanistan, as well as so many other places? But maybe yet even more off-topic (‘Trump and tribalism’) than Clinton II’s particular hawkishness. (Tribal Trump has said that the invasion of Afghanistan both was, and was not, a mistake, and that the troops should stay, or maybe not — a higher form of logic it’s difficult to argue with. Or the Tomb of Empires working its magic.)

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Layman 06.03.16 at 3:55 pm

“How can one say that there is less economic opportunity now than there was before the Obama Administration?”

How could one say otherwise? Economic opportunity has been declining since the Reagan revolution. It’s a decades-long trend, in which income and wealth are transferred to the top, at the expense of everyone else, as a result globalization and to a great extent by design. The structural and political drivers cannot be halted without, well, a revolutionary change in income redistribution. Whatever else you think of Obama – and I think on balance he has been a good-to-great President given the context in which he’s served – he has not delivered that revolution.

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bruce wilder 06.03.16 at 4:11 pm

If we are going to have this discussion, and not have it reduced to yet another silly round of lesser evil comparisons, we need to ask, how and why did the U.S. come to be committed to perpetual, unwinnable war in multiple places?

I do not care to discern the degree of Clinton’s “hawkishness”. That is a silly label mindless pundits use.

I would like to know if she recognizes and appreciates the extent to which U.S. policy created conditions as they now exist. The U.S. has been spending amounts in Afganistan, year after year, that amount to a very large fraction of Afganistan’s total GDP. The U.S. war effort there is the whole friggin’ economy. U.S. military aid to Pakistan finances and equips ISI. The U.S. has allied with Saudi Arabia, not even looking the other way as that country financed the most reactionary Islamic movements. Very little about what the U.S. has been doing in the Mideast has made a lick of sense in 15 years. It pretty obviously “isn’t working” — to use that favorite phrase of know-nothing pragmatism that the very serious people like to affect.

I do not know what to trust in insider accounts. A couple weeks ago the New York Times magazine had an insider account that pulled back the curtain on Obama foreign policy to reveal a thoroughly cynical PR effort that operates by means of rapidly crafted fictions. That was kind of scary, and according to the article it frightened its main practitioner that it was necessary to run such an operation to manipulate the foreign policy establishment into letting the Administration do half-way sensible things. This wasn’t propaganda to manipulate the broad American people so much as propaganda to manipulate the soi disant experts. Hall of mirrors on a ship of fools.

We need a revolution in foreign policy to even begin to think rationally.

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Rich Puchalsky 06.03.16 at 4:21 pm

BW: “Very little about what the U.S. has been doing in the Mideast has made a lick of sense in 15 years. ”

It makes sense as destabilization. If you assumed that the goal of U.S. policy was to destroy civil society in the Middle East so that no power there could resist resource extraction and raise prices a la the oil shock of the 70s, then everything kind of follows, including getting the Saudis to assist in their own way and making sure that their monarchy is beholden to the only force that can keep a ruling monarchy in existence these days. Alternatively it’s all one giant mess of imperial overreach and foolishness that isn’t so foolish because millions of people have died. I don’t think it’s really important to distinguish between one of these cases and the other because they pretty much work out the same. Pakistan and Afghanistan fit in either case.

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RNB 06.03.16 at 5:15 pm

@450 You do remember what the unemployment rate was when Obama assumed office? Layman, I don’t understand how anyone can say that it has become more difficult to climb the economic ladder over the last years. But here is one of the few questions on which there seems to be a significant difference among Sanders’ and Clinton’s supporters (excluding the ones who lean Republican). And I don’t see the Sanders’ sentiment here as clearly more social democratic Those who think things have improved may simply believe that government intervention has made a difference and may in fact be expressing greater confidence in social democratic programs than those who are too nihilistic to believe in social democracy.

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The Temporary Name 06.03.16 at 5:17 pm

Layman, I don’t understand how anyone can say that it has become more difficult to climb the economic ladder over the last years.

The cost of education is one such difficulty.

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RNB 06.03.16 at 5:17 pm

Neither the WaPo nor Jacobin piece breaks down the survey results in terms of positions on immigration.

414

RNB 06.03.16 at 5:20 pm

The possibility of having a job after you finish your education should be another consideration. And there are a lot more people in the labor market than beginning college, so overall people should find that things have improved over the last 8 years. To say otherwise I think expresses a certain level of nihilism or disgruntlement, not active support for social democracy. Achen and Bartels may be right about a significant portion of Sanders’s supporters.

415

The Temporary Name 06.03.16 at 5:21 pm

Employment is not the same as climbing the economic ladder.

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Layman 06.03.16 at 5:36 pm

RNB: “Layman, I don’t understand how anyone can say that it has become more difficult to climb the economic ladder over the last years.”

There’s a lot of information available about declining or stagnant upward economic mobility. This is Wikipedia, but it will link you to a lot of material. e.g. studies by Pew, etc.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socio-economic_mobility_in_the_United_States

The key findings seem to be that what matters most is the income of one’s parents, and that children of lower-income parents do not themselves escape from low-income status with anything like the frequency with which they did up until the 70s.

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RNB 06.03.16 at 5:48 pm

OK yes there seems to be less economic mobility over the last forty years. But I doubt that all the people asked had such a secular perspective in mind. And if you don’t see how Obama’s administration has made things better than they otherwise would have been and were–that is, how things are not as bad as they were–then you may well not be a robust supporter of govt intervention but someone who is disgruntled and nihilistic. That is what Achen and Bartels said the Sanders campaign had attracted to a greater extent than people have realized.

Now it turns out that in terms of the minimum wage and govt involvement in health care and paid parental leave the Sanders and Clinton’s camps are hardly distinguishable. They both favor such policies, so there is a lot of social democratic support in the Sanders campaign. But not a lot more than in Clinton’s camp.

I am guessing that there is a difference on immigration which matches the one on trade; but as I have said here several times I think Clinton is the progressive here, not Sanders who has threatened to cut off trade with poor countries altogether.

But again in terms of Achen and Bartels’ argument this belief that things have not improved at all may be an indication of nihilism in the Sanders’ camp, not a commitment to incremental reform through social democratic policies. I would guess that Clinton’s supporters identify more with Obama taking the economy off the brink of a Greater Depression.

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bruce wilder 06.03.16 at 5:49 pm

Rich Puchalsky @ 452: It makes sense as destabilization.

What? You don’t realize that it wasn’t about the oil? It was the younger Bush’s oedipal complex! C’mon everyone knows it’s a Clash of Civilizations! Didn’t you get your program, where the differences between Shia and Sunni going back hundreds of years are pedantically explained? They hate us for our freedoms! And, Bill Cosby re-runs on satellite teevee. William Safire said Saddam Hussein was in league with Al Qaeda and there was smoking gun evidence that he was behind 9/11. Also, WMD!

And, we will win and freedom will prevail, if we just find the will to stay the course. We just need to find the moderate good guys and advise, train and equip the hell out of them. It worked with the mujahadeen — look how they drove the Soviets out and Afghanistan in the dark ages, all in less than a decade. These are proven techniques. Now enhanced with satellite imagery.

And bomb! We need to drop lots and lots of freedom bombs! “NATO aircraft dropped only about 1,000 bombs in Afghanistan in 2015, very few against the Taliban. That was a fivefold reduction from the war’s peak level of activity. So far, 2016 looks similar, with 300 bombs dropped in the first three months. These figures stand in contrast to what we are doing in Iraq and Syria. According to Pentagon data, we dropped 6,000 bombs there in 2014, almost 30,000 in 2015, and almost 7,000 in the first three months of this year.” Statistical proof of the efficacy of air power from a former CIA director convicted for disclosing classified information to his mistress — could there be a more trustworthy source for such an argument than the architect of the wildly successful Surge™ ?

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The Temporary Name 06.03.16 at 5:50 pm

And if you don’t see how Obama’s administration has made things better than they otherwise would have been and were

I think people can see that and still note the decline in their fortunes. I think Obama himself spoke about that a few days ago.

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bruce wilder 06.03.16 at 6:00 pm

Rich Puchalsky @ 452: It makes sense as destabilization.

It makes sense in an “as if” kind of way, where we can see the outlines of someone’s purposes emerging from the chaos and dust clouds of rationalizations if we stare hard enough. And, that pattern may identify the corrupt machinations of some participants in policy-making, to the extent that the structures of policy-making give corrupt machinations sufficient scope.

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Rich Puchalsky 06.03.16 at 6:09 pm

BW: “It makes sense in an “as if” kind of way”

It’s a difficult explanation to take too seriously because it immediately leads to Grand Conspiracy Theory accusations. But it’s worth noting that some influential players and courtiers really did have destabilization as more or less their openly stated policy. It was generally supposed to be destabilization followed by reconstruction, so you can put the failure of the reconstruction part down to either incompetence or hidden policy depending on which you like.

Given that destabilization has always been the *result* of this kind of intervention, I really do sincerely hope that the remaining “humanitarians” are completely corrupt and have been paid off. I’ve always found cackling evil to be more reassuring than the level of stupidity that it would take to still actually believe in this against all evidence.

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The Temporary Name 06.03.16 at 6:20 pm

I’ve always found cackling evil to be more reassuring than the level of stupidity that it would take to still actually believe in this against all evidence.

There’s consistency in it.

I tend to believe in the stupidity of the efforts, and consequently live in fear.

423

bruce wilder 06.03.16 at 6:28 pm

RNB: . . . if you don’t see how Obama’s administration has made things better than they otherwise would have been and were–that is, how things are not as bad as they were–then you may well . . . be . . . disgruntled and nihilistic.

or, just a recent college graduate, perhaps?

Obama’s policies have arguably not made things better for a lot of people. I just saw a report that life expectancy apparently has fallen in the last reporting period, according to preliminary estimates. That’s a very broad measure of welfare and it is going in the wrong direction.

Wages for recent college graduates are stagnant or falling — especially sharply for women. And, it is a complete mystery why young women support Sanders over Clinton.

Almost all the gains from the Obama recovery have been funnelled to the 1% and that result was a predictable consequence of the policies he adopted. The parasitical financial sector is stronger than ever and Obama is pushing more of the globalization and financialization that devastated manufacturing and middle-class savings and home ownership. But, hey, people just don’t appreciate all that he has done for them!

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bruce wilder 06.03.16 at 6:35 pm

I for one am heartened that the Payday Loan Industry, a sector with a proven record of growth, has a seat at the table governing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. And, that the Chairperson of the Democratic Party is doing all she can to ensure that the States like Florida, where payday lending is especially important, are able to protect their local industry.

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steven johnson 06.03.16 at 6:43 pm

Ze K@438 “This is 2016: Everyone believes in capitalism.”

Wishful thinking doesn’t make it true.

More to the point here, capitalism doesn’t believe in Vladimir Putin. Russia hasn’t got the military manufacturing base to sustain an interventionist policy. It doesn’t even really have the manufacturing base to sustain intervention into world finance nor to buffet itself against financial assaults. Its only real assets, oil and natural gas, depends on a “market” that is more or less set by the Saudis…which is to say, ultimately by US military power. The remnant prestige from the USSR won’t keep China as an ally because not even the Chinese leadership will fail to notice that Putin is only playing for a better deal…which they, not he, are in a much better position to make. (If the US was still capable of making deals. To buy someone out you have to have the capital.)

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engels 06.03.16 at 6:53 pm

This is 2016: Everyone believes in capitalism

Millennials have a higher opinion of socialism than of capitalism

427

Rich Puchalsky 06.03.16 at 7:04 pm

BW: “or, just a recent college graduate, perhaps?”

It’s probably worth recalling that during Obama’s term we did have a mass protest movement largely led by recent college graduates without jobs. It was demolished by police repression. Why aren’t they grateful, etc., etc.

428

Yan 06.03.16 at 7:16 pm

I hereby award Temporary Name @443 one Twinkie in gratitude for reminding me to dig out the old Galaxie 500 records.

Why’s everybody actin’ funny?
Why’s everybody look so strange?
Why’s everybody look so nasty?
What do I want with all these things?

429

Layman 06.03.16 at 7:46 pm

RNB: “OK yes there seems to be less economic mobility over the last forty years. But I doubt that all the people asked had such a secular perspective in mind.”

I don’t know why a secular perspective matters. They look at their situation, and they ask themselves “…is there any way I can see to break out of this cycle of part-time minimum-wage jobs, like my parents and grandparents did…?”, and for many of them, the answer is ‘no’. Why would they think ‘yes’, just because there’s another minimum-wage part-time job suddenly available to them?

RNB: “And if you don’t see how Obama’s administration has made things better than they otherwise would have been and were–that is, how things are not as bad as they were–then you may well not be a robust supporter of govt intervention but someone who is disgruntled and nihilistic.”

Brains are complicated things! You know, it is actually possible to think both “things are better under Obama than they would have been under McCainRomney”, and “things really suck, and Obama hasn’t made them not suck.” In fact, it seems the obvious thing to think, because it’s true.

430

The Temporary Name 06.03.16 at 8:23 pm

431

root_e 06.03.16 at 8:33 pm

“I do not know what to trust in insider accounts. A couple weeks ago the New York Times magazine had an insider account that pulled back the curtain on Obama foreign policy to reveal a thoroughly cynical PR effort that operates by means of rapidly crafted fictions. That was kind of scary, and according to the article it frightened its main practitioner that it was necessary to run such an operation to manipulate the foreign policy establishment into letting the Administration do half-way sensible things. ”

It was an article by a vociferous opponent of the Iran peace agreement attempting to show that the agreement had been sold to an unsuspecting public (that presumably really would support another war) by unscrupulous Obamanaughts. And you were taken in. Odd how cable news driven our Left Wing Savants turn out to be.

#467 ” for one am heartened that the Payday Loan Industry, a sector with a proven record of growth, has a seat at the table governing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. And, that the Chairperson of the Democratic Party is doing all she can to ensure that the States like Florida, where payday lending is especially important, are able to protect their local industry.”

Good point. Before the evil neoliberal Obama Democrats created the CFPB with the toothless Dodd-Frank bill things were, no doubt, much better. And even though CFPB is actually cracking down on abusive loans, none of that matters because we can use “has a seat at the table” as if it meant something and exhibited expertise.

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RNB 06.03.16 at 8:58 pm

We have Sanders supporters saying at seemingly 2x the rate than Clinton’s supporters (but not a majority of them) that it’s a great deal *harder* to move up economically. No doubt, it’s very hard to move up economically, but is it getting harder? It would seem that there is a lot more opportunity in the economy for people in general than there was eight years ago. At any rate, other than this, where is the big difference between Sanders’ and Clinton’s supporters other than on the trade issue and perhaps immigration as well? Both camps overwhelmingly favor higher min wages, more govt spending on health care and paid parental leave. Sanders’ supporters are not significantly more left on policy issues than Clinton’s (and may even be to the right if we figure out a way to include those Republican leaning independents who have and would vote for him); so Achen and Bartels’ point still has validity: people are not preferring candidates primarily on policy issues but symbolism and identity.

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bruce wilder 06.03.16 at 9:00 pm

root_e

I don’t think English syntax operates quite the way you think it does. Your every assertion seems to self-contradict.

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root_e 06.03.16 at 9:10 pm

#477
Obviously you are familiar with sarcasm, but perhaps you only get it when it’s ponderous.

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bruce wilder 06.03.16 at 9:32 pm

RNB @ 476

In some respects, I expect you are right: Clinton and Sanders supporters, at least, in their self-descriptions, would present as having similar political leanings and desiderata.

I cannot speak to polling data, but at the level of media and blogospheric discourse, where I see the fault line separating iconic voices like Paul Krugman, Paul Starr or Ezra Klein — all pro-Clinton — from the rest of us is in the combination of personal complacency and pseudo-left self-presentation. (Maybe, this pseudo-left self-presentation is what root_e has been going on about — it is quite common and does have the effect of confirming and reinforcing right-wing power.) What I mean by pseudo-left is that they favor a leftish pose from which to critique the status quo, but at base they are happy with what the system has done for them personally and want whatever reforms and reformers move forward to preserve and strengthen the system, not to mention their own privileged place in it.

I expect Sanders supporters (and Trump supporters) are more open to seeing the system break down, at least in part. They are willing to see the system de-stabilized. Or, if not actually willing to see instability, then oblivious to the implication of instability. Some of that may be not having much to lose (which correlates with being young and poor, for what that’s worth in interpreting polling demo).

Sanders himself has taken the growth gambit, promising that the reforms he proposes could relieve some of the pressure on the lower orders by generating overall growth in the economy, so that these reforms do not reduce to a zero-sum game. I think that’s naive, but it does serve to hide the down-side implications of his or any “revolution”.

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Layman 06.03.16 at 9:55 pm

RNB: “It would seem that there is a lot more opportunity in the economy for people in general than there was eight years ago.”

You keep saying this, but I don’t really know why you keep saying it. Point to the things which make you say it, please.

437

Layman 06.03.16 at 10:01 pm

@RNB, here’s a chart of the labor force participation rate, which I hope will cause you to question your notion that job prospects are better now than they were 8 years ago…

https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/CIVPART

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bruce wilder 06.03.16 at 10:27 pm

I cannot speak for RNB, but I see a lot of construction where I live in LA, where rent takes a higher percent of median household income than almost anywhere. So, opportunity and oppression side by side — wonder if there might be a relationship?

439

Cranky Observer 06.04.16 at 12:01 am

= = = t would seem that there is a lot more opportunity in the economy for people in general than there was eight years ago. = = =

8 years ago would be… 2008. When the US economy was in the process of crashing [1] into a Lesser Depression, easily the worst economic disaster in the Nation’s history other than the Great Depression and giving the latter a run for the prize. Any ‘percent change’ comparison to 2008 will look good for the 2016 statistic and whoever is assigned the credit for it.

[1] I was in the plumbing products industry in the winter of 2007-2008; the economy had already crashed as would later be revealed by the retrospective housing statistics and the evidence was there in our lack of stocking sales orders for the first half of 2008 but we didn’t recognize it at the time (nor did anyone else)

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kidneystones 06.04.16 at 12:04 am

“Let them eat confetti!”

Worst jobs report in years. 450 k stop even looking for work with an appalling labor participation rate and his majesty from the ivory tower pronounces ‘it would seem’ the poor have every reason to be grateful.

Genius timing and fact-free spewing.

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/jun/03/jobs-report-us-election-economy-donald-trump-hillary-clinton

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kidneystones 06.04.16 at 1:04 am

HRC will not be the nominee?

A few interesting data points with Bernie equal or ahead in California. Trump allows Bernie Supporter to stay and protest inside Trump rally. Why? Because Trump bonds with Bernie in denouncing DNC Clinton trade policies. Naked appeal to Bernie supporters. possible telling. Speaking of which Yves Smith has a piece in Politico http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/06/wall-street-2016-donald-trump-hillary-clinton-213931

Vox deputy editor calls for riots at Trump rallies, gets fired! Just kidding. Of course not, he’s just temporarily suspended. HRC gives a foreign-policy speech, spends entire time reading focus group talking points from teleprompter.

Jobs report utterly transforms landscape – feeding into Trump narrative of Dem indifference to the real world. Ditto HRC trumpeting her own ‘record’ on foreign policy. What HRC calls victories most normal people regard as dismal failures – Libya, Iraq, etc.

My guess is that the brighter minds in the DNC are scrambling to rehab Biden, of find some alternative candidate to parachute in should the FBI file criminal charges over HRC’s email. What happens when/if HRC’s numbers drop to the low 40s?

Trump is now explicitly calling for HRC to go to jail.

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RNB 06.04.16 at 1:14 am

@481 Layman, I think that is an important data point, but so far I think this is more convincing
http://noahpinionblog.blogspot.com/2016/02/yes-cyclicalists-really-won-bet.html

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Rich Puchalsky 06.04.16 at 2:04 am

BW: “I think that’s naive, but it does serve to hide the down-side implications of his or any “revolution”.”

I’m not particularly interested in Sanders unless it looks like he’s going to win. There seems to be an assumption that “Sanders voters” lionize him as a hero, that they think his policies are all great, that HRC can be immunized against any bad policies that Sanders shares, etc. I haven’t seen that. If HRC is the lesser evil, then Sanders is the lesser good. He is / was better than any other politician on offer, but he doesn’t represent some kind of model for the left.

Why doesn’t he? Not because of any increasingly irrelevant difference between democratic socialism and other forms of socialism, but because he isn’t a movement builder. The future for the left in the U.S., if there is any future for it except as an appendage to neoliberalism, is in taking one of the two major-party slots. That requires sustained organization and as far as I know Sanders has really never been interested in that. It pretty much requires splitting the Democratic Party as the GOP becomes more and more unable to win nationally.

444

Layman 06.04.16 at 4:07 am

@RNB, according to your data point, things are still worse than they were 8 years ago.

445

RNB 06.04.16 at 5:11 am

@488 The unemployment rate is down, down; jobs are being added, not lost; wages are up. Are things good? By no means. But have the opportunities for economic mobility fallen over the last eight years? No. The reduction in the workforce rate seems to be mostly due to the beginnings of the retirement of the baby boomers–did you actually read the piece to which I linked? At any rate, it seems that you are reading the workforce participation rate the same way Trump did–as an indication that the unemployment rate in the US is like 40%.

446

RNB 06.04.16 at 5:27 am

Of course to say that things have improved on the employment front is not to say that the economy rests on a stable foundation. And it may well be true that the effect of the lesser depression was to make some people drop out of labor market altogether, so that the unemployment rate is higher than official statistics make out. It is still lower than it was in 2009-2010. The official unemployment rate has been falling, and there has been enough tightness for some very modest wage gains, even in the last job reports. Trump of course wants everyone to believe that things are going to hell in a hand basket. But it simply is not true; it has not been getting tougher to get ahead in America in recent years. It remains tough of course.

447

Layman 06.04.16 at 11:54 am

“The reduction in the workforce rate seems to be mostly due to the beginnings of the retirement of the baby boomers–did you actually read the piece to which I linked?”

Yes, I read it. The problem is, even if you consider only workforce participation for the prime working age group – excluding those retiring – workforce participation among that group is STILL below where it was 8 years ago. The chart is right there in the piece you linked, ‘did you actually read the piece’?

http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS12300060

I’m still waiting for you to point to the evidence that convinces you that economic opportunity is better than it was 8 years ago. What is it? It’s not the unemployment rate, which ignores those who’ve given up. It’s not the labor force participation rate – even if you exclude those over 55 (which is crazy anyway, given that social security doesn’t kick in until age 65 or higher, what do you imagine those 60-year-olds are doing, playing golf?), the labor force participation rate is lower than it was 8 years ago.

448

Layman 06.04.16 at 12:02 pm

RNB: “At any rate, it seems that you are reading the workforce participation rate the same way Trump did–as an indication that the unemployment rate in the US is like 40%.”

You should stop trying to read people’s minds, imputing things to them they haven’t said. If I thought the unemployment rate was 40%, I’d say so.

449

RNB 06.04.16 at 3:10 pm

There has been a sharp improvement since 2010! Things are not getting harder. They have been improving. The question I have been raising here is how people characterize the Obama years.

Drawing on a racist reaction to Obama, Trump wants to present the Obama years as a period in which it is getting much harder to climb the economic ladder when the opposite is true since Obama assumed office; and it may be that a good number of Sanders’ supporters have this false understanding.

Any social democrat worth her salt would want people to realize that things have been getting a lot better due to government intervention and would not want to lose this narrative, for without it, it becomes difficult to argue that even more social democratic intervention would improve things even more.

450

RNB 06.04.16 at 3:13 pm

No sharp improvement? Things have been getting harder? Who believes these things? Who wants people to believe these things about the Obama years?

http://noahpinionblog.blogspot.com/2016/02/yes-cyclicalists-really-won-bet.html

451

RNB 06.04.16 at 3:15 pm

452

Anarcissie 06.04.16 at 3:52 pm

RNB 06.04.16 at 3:13 pm @ 495 —
It’s only anecdotal, and may be a result of the kind of company I keep, or just the vagaries of fashion, but I don’t think I know more than a very few people who think that things have improved in the last ten or twenty years. Moreover there is a good deal of gloom and cynicism among the young about their life prospects. If you have to ask ‘Who believes these things?’ I recommend asking around, especially across the usual caste boundaries. Also I recommend trusting daily life before statistics, at least until you know exactly how the statistics and the underlying data were generated, selected, and filtered.

453

RNB 06.04.16 at 4:04 pm

This is Tocqueville’s rising expectations. As things improve and opportunities improve people’s desires rise even faster, creating a sense of frustration rather than satisfaction with improvement. Hillary Clinton is being attacked for viewing the situation in all it complexity by recognizing the improvements and validating the rising expectations at the same time. The insurgents Trump and Sanders tend to short shrift the improvements.

454

Layman 06.04.16 at 5:44 pm

@RNB, indeed, your link at 496 show that things are worse now than in 2008.

You argue that they’re improving, and that workforce participation is down in part because of demographics, e.g. the retirement of boomers. Unfortunately, it seems to be the case that the only cohort for whom participation rates are rising is those at 55+. Labor force participation is not rising for the young, and not rising for people in their thirties or forties.

http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2016/03/update-labor-force-participation.html

455

Layman 06.04.16 at 5:45 pm

So, RNB, again, can you point to the evidence which convinced you that economic opportunity has improved?

456

RNB 06.04.16 at 6:21 pm

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/05/your-money/workers-wages-rebound-while-wall-street-squirms.html
The LFPR data you are using does not account for people going to school which of course Sanders is encouraging and more Social Security disability income checks allowing people to leave the job market.

457

Layman 06.04.16 at 6:42 pm

@ RNB, from your link:

“Mr. Bevins cautioned that the real-wage improvement last year was at least partly because of unusually low inflation, and not entirely because of monetary wage increases.”

So, not so much with the wage increases.

RNB: “The LFPR data you are using does not account for people going to school which of course Sanders is encouraging and more Social Security disability income checks allowing people to leave the job market.”

First thing, that data does not show that the lower participation rate is because of people retiring – we can agree on that, right? Older people are staying in the workforce, or returning to it, probably because they are not experiencing improved economic opportunity.

Second, which people are going to school? The participation rate is declining for every age group under 55! You can’t believe that’s because 40-something parents are quitting their jobs in order to go to school.

Third, it may be a good thing that people can stop working and take a meager disability pension, but can we agree that those people who do are likely not experiencing increased economic opportunity?

Again, who is experiencing increased economic opportunity, in your view, and what data can you point to to support that view?

458

bruce wilder 06.04.16 at 6:52 pm

RNB @ 498

I think you are discounting excessively the extent to which the benefits of recovery have been concentrated and so large swathes of the population have a more negative experience and also the extent to which recovery has simply returned the country to the brittle stagnation of the Bush years. It has been more than 15 years since a majority thought the country was “on the right track” for any sustained period.

That the economy is doing relatively well does shape the character of the dissenting campaigns, but not in a Tocqueville rising expectations way — not that that actually happened in pre-revolutionary France. In historical France, things actually were not getting better; the economy at the tail end of secular growth in international trade that had brought great wealth to a few cities was stagnating, held down by a failure to improve agricultural productivity; long-standing problems festered without any prospect of resolution — Paris was threatened with famine and the state was increasingly feeble, hopelessly understaffed and quick to take recourse to expedients. The absolute monarch was unable to sustain any reform or reformer; the state’s finances were crumbling even as the parasitic tax farmers were building a fantastically elaborate wall to imprison all of Paris as their hostages and the legitimacy of the state was under constant attack from various factions of the Right, jealous of privileges everyone else deeply resented.

There are some dubious analogues in the economic position of the U.S., though it would be easy to exaggerate their intensity. We are far from famine in the U.S., even if large parts of the world are on the precipice. The recent decline in life expectancy is an indication that not all boats are rising. Employment recovered more fully for the old than the young, and as I noted above wages for both the less “skilled” and for recent college graduates — most notably for women — have been declining thru the recovery.

Both Parties have been collaborating in upward redistribution of income for thirty or forty years, and the political system has been demonstrably unresponsive to the interests or concerns of any but the rich and very rich. The income gains of the rich have been the by-products of globalization and financialization of the economy, which followed from the policies of economic de-regulation begun in the Carter and Reagan years. The cash thrown off from dismantling the New Deal and from throttling public investment in infrastructure and education has gone to the top and been “reinvested” in debts and a class of peons in place of what was once the middle class to pay debt service.

Financially this scheme of controlled demolition and neglect of the country’s economic structures ran out of road in 2007 and the politicians have been struggling to preserve the gains of the rich without crashing the system. Policy interest rates were reduced to near-zero and stealth cash flows have been funneled into the financial sector to work off toxic debt and keep asset values inflated. Proposals to increase infrastructure spending or relieve debt burdens have been largely frustrated. The health care sector — one of the few that is growing and provides secure, well-paid employment for blue-collar workers — was shored up with an insurance reform that tries to preserve for-profit insurance.

All three — Clinton, Sanders & Trump — are selling lies, as politicians always must, I suppose, because there’s no way forward that doesn’t screw some group, no sensible reform that will not provoke fierce opposition. Sanders cleverly chose to bumpersticker some policy options that directly address the immediate experience of groups that have and are suffering economically: increase the minimum wage, free college, increase infrastructure spending, etc. And, he promises the positive-sum game of economic growth could pay for these goodies. A lot of billionaires would have to become millionaires to make his program and its logical extensions possible, and he does attack the billionaire class. But, I don’t think he’s likely to highlight how the efficiency of single-payer health care would devastate the bloated health care sector, or how a shrinking financial sector would have to eliminate good-paying jobs.

Clinton is the preservationist in this election and as the sole preservationist, she will get support from the ideological establishments of both Parties. Her program is cautious incrementalism economically and the continued strategy-free aggression of Imperial Collapse abroad. Neither policy has much chance in the long-run, but how far away is the long-run comeuppance I couldn’t say.

I think the vast majority of people have more of a pessimistic instinct regarding the long-term prospects of the country than any understanding. Most people are very short-sighted; they will vote the price of gas, disregarding everything they have heard about global warming. That the economic recovery has advanced as far as it has and the economy appears fairly stable just means that no bright shiny objects or immediate dire fears will dominate the dissatisfaction many people feel about their long-term prospects. There’s still no fora where people — membership organizations or media — where people could deepen their understanding enough that a politician could propose more than a bumpersticker and not immediately lose their interest.

Obama has been lately advocating increases in Social Security benefits and changes in labor law overtime rules — very concrete responses to very real economic problems and responses no doubt calculated to burnish the Democratic brand.

But, deeper problems — global resource limits, climate change and a collapsing ocean ecology — these may require a great deal more mass political education than the current configuration of American politics can sustain. And, the alternative is that the rich, under neoliberal aegis, will fashion a response to their own satisfaction — not likely to be pretty.

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RNB 06.04.16 at 7:01 pm

First it was important to correct for retirement given the data *you* initially posted.

Second, we should be cautious about the modest wage gains, but they are still there even with the last weak job reports. The labor market is tight enough that workers were able to take advantage of falling prices to secure real wage gains independently of nominal wage gains they were able to win. So things are not getting worse.

Third, the labor share of income is not falling; on the contrary. A piece evidence for some tightening in the labor market that Summers reported in the NYT and you ignored. Again not getting worse.

Fourth, against the evidence of sharply declining unemployment and modest wage gains and rising labor share of income, you helpfully give us data of LFPR, but you are not correcting for rising college attendance and the humane improvement that more people with serious disabilities are not being forced to work.

The totality of the evidence is against the thesis that things are getting worse. But of course not against the thesis that things are not improving quickly enough.

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Layman 06.04.16 at 7:07 pm

RNB: “…you helpfully give us data of LFPR, but you are not correcting for rising college attendance and the humane improvement that more people with serious disabilities are not being forced to work.”

Show me that correction, by age group, please. You’re clearly convinced by it, so you must know what percentage of decline in participation for each age group can be attributed to school or disability.

Also, can we agree that labor participation rates among those 55+ are increasing, not declining; thus that the overall decline can’t be attributed to natural retirement…?

461

RNB 06.04.16 at 7:13 pm

Return to the LFPR later. At any rate, it would be more accurate to say that there have been some modest improvements and there could have been and can be even more; and that the modest improvements rest on an unstable foundation, e.g. perhaps declining commodity prices due to weak global demand and the tail wagging the dog in the form of unsustainable inflated asset prices via wealth effects stimulating the real economy. Also profit expectations could change quickly.

But the meme that things are getting worse just plays into the Republican handbook of discrediting a reviled black President to discredit government intervention. To her credit, HRC alone has pushed back against this Republican talking point.

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Layman 06.04.16 at 7:23 pm

“But the meme that things are getting worse just plays into the Republican handbook of discrediting a reviled black President to discredit government intervention.”

I’m most decidedly not a Republican, not seeking to discredit Obama, don’t revile him, rather admire him greatly, and am an ardent supporter of more government intervention when it comes to addressing economic wellbeing, inequality, opportunity. Yet it should not be necessary to deny the facts in order to make one’s case for more progressive policies.

“To her credit, HRC alone has pushed back against this Republican talking point.”

This is hardly down to courage or altruism. History suggests that her election prospects rest, to a great extent, on the public perception of the state of the economy, and she surely knows this.

463

William Berry 06.04.16 at 7:37 pm

Usage pedantry alert: if offended by which, stop reading here!

“Swa[h]th” (plural “swaths”) is a noun.

“Swa[y]the” (with I, they) and “swathes” (he, she, it) are verbs.

464

William Berry 06.04.16 at 7:39 pm

Also, too: Agree with BW and Layman.

As you were.

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steven johnson 06.04.16 at 8:06 pm

My immense admiration of Lavoisier the scientist is immensely shocked at Lavoisier the tax farmer who planned the prison wall around Paris. Thankfully we have the assurance of all judicious minds that Lavoisier’s execution was due solely to the mindlessness of revolution.

In politics, “middle class,” whether jobs or whatnot, is no more a real thing than “small business” is. If it means anything, it means a household where the wife doesn’t have to work, that can still afford a home, vacation, health care, possibly even education for the kids. And they finish up with retirement when they want, and an estate. If anything, this is a diminution of what “middle class” once meant, which meant someone with a more or less guaranteed income (from a business, land or profession) sufficient to distinguish them from mere working folk, even if it didn’t enable them to mingle with the nobles on equal terms. By that definition, “middle class” today would be mere millionaires who don’t rate with the billionaires…but are far above those families whose sires die more or less broke.

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bruce wilder 06.04.16 at 9:26 pm

Swath and swathe have a somewhat confused orthography, because two different words have fused together.

Swath can mean the path cut by a scythe. Swath can also denote a bandage. Apparently, the two different meaning reflect two etymologies, swath in the first sense descending from a word for track or trace and in the second sense from a word for wrap or bind.

Swath, in the sense of a bandage, follows the same orthographic template as cloth, clothe, clothes, where the verb ends in e and the plural nouns, cloths and clothes have evolved distinct meanings. This orthographic template has affected the word in its two distinct meanings. Where the sense is “bandage”, the verb claims the e to distinguish itself from the noun. Where the sense is a path or area and there is no related verb, the noun claims the e, in order to distinguish meaning: that is, the ending e helps to indicate that the noun refers to a path, not a bandage.

I used the word in a figurative sense for a large part or trace thru some greatly varied whole, a sense that derives presumably from denoting a path cut by a scythe. Convention calls for spelling this noun, swathe or swathes.

I hope this clears up any confusion as to who has greater mastery of the pedant’s art.

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William Berry 06.04.16 at 11:13 pm

@BW: You are partly right in that “swath” can be pluralized as “swathes”, although that is considered an alternative usage.

“Convention calls for spelling this noun, swathe or swathes.” A relatively uncommon and alternative usage does not a convention make.

You are also correct in clearing up confusion as to the mastery of the pedant’s art, as you have managed to produce a masterful example of the master pedants’s most common error: the etymological fallacy.

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William Berry 06.04.16 at 11:22 pm

pedants’s s should be pedant’s, obviously.

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kidneystones 06.04.16 at 11:30 pm

@ 512 You had ‘courage’ to malign me as a ‘crypto-fascist’ on another thread long after CR explicitly instructed participants not to engage in off-topic personal engagements. As someone who supports Sanders, has belonged to a number of unions and been involved with work actions and union organizing, and who has helped elect one socialist government I do not make a practice of indulging cowards and pedants.

Provide evidence for your unfounded slur, or crawl back under your rock.

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bruce wilder 06.04.16 at 11:50 pm

pedants’s s should be pedant’s, obviously.

It’s like Highlander: there can be only one. Obviously. ;-)

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William Berry 06.05.16 at 12:28 am

@kidneystones:

“Provide evidence for your unfounded slur.”

Review your own commentary. At least fifty per-cent of what you write provides all the evidence one needs.

Your pose (because no-one is really that bitter, right?) of two-bit cynicism and contrarianism wore thin long ago.

And, really, if you don’t indulge cowards and pedants, how do you manage to live with yourself?

Anyhow, go ahead and s***-bomb the CT threads. You have really found your metier.

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Collin Street 06.05.16 at 12:30 am

> Provide evidence for your unfounded slur, or crawl back under your rock.

Not the place for this, but, look.

See that “unfounded”? Means you’ve made up your mind about the possibility of the slur’s not being unfounded. If you didn’t know either way, if you were open to being convinced, you wouldn’t think of the slur as being “unfounded” [you’d think of it as being maybe founded or maybe not], so you wouldn’t call the slur “unfounded”. So your mind’s made up. We can tell, even if you haven’t told us; if you thought differently you’d act differently.

But you’re asking for evidence, right? If you were aware that your mind was made up, asking for evidence would be timewasting, so you’d either not bother asking [polite good faith] or try and conceal that your mind is made up [and you wouldn’t be saying “unfounded”, because that gives the game away]. But you’re not doing either; proof-by-contradiction, you must not know.

So. We now know that your mind is made up on the topic — that you’re not going to be entertaining the evidence presented — and also that you don’t even know this yourself.

We now know something about you that you haven’t explicitly told us and which you weren’t even aware of. In one sentence!

Now, I don’t necessarily agree with WB’s categorisation of you as a fascist. But it’s important to realise that people can, legitimately and genuinely, work out all sorts of stuff about you that you don’t realise you’ve told them and often don’t realise is true. And that “I don’t agree with this conclusion about myself” is far from dispositive: we know things about you that you don’t.

And I’ve said all this before. I’m doing this to try and help you, but it doesn’t seem to be helping. Perhaps you’re beyond help.

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Anarcissie 06.05.16 at 1:22 am

RNB 06.04.16 at 4:04 pm
‘Hillary Clinton is being attacked for viewing the situation in all it complexity by recognizing the improvements and validating the rising expectations at the same time.

Qu’ils mangent de la brioche, then?

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RNB 06.05.16 at 1:28 am

Sure right. That’s what Hillary Clinton is saying.

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Anarcissie 06.05.16 at 3:42 am

Well, my anecdote had people saying they felt bad about their condition or prospects. And then you say, in effect, Hillary Clinton, being capable of viewing situations in all their complexity, i.e. being smarter than they are about their own lives and business, says they’re actually better off — what they think doesn’t matter. So how is that different, except for being longer and less snappy?

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