That’s another draft post gone

by John Holbo on August 16, 2017

Christ. I keep trying to write posts about Trump. He keeps digging down below the level of the post I was prepared to write. Not for the first time this year do I wish I were a heighten the contradictions guy. Credit where due: the National Review Corner crew are exceeding my expectations in the spine department. I figured it would be wall-to-wall whaddaboutism but they are pretty much calling Trump out. Paul Ryan, on the other hand, sounds like a death-eater afraid to say his name (having not really expected his return).

Not so little ambiguity that it becomes, y’know, clear who we mean. Mitch McConnell is even more studious in skirting around the, erm, subject – and this was days ago:

Trump: “What about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt right?”

Christ. What about the alt-center? I blame the alt-center. I’m looking at you, Mark Lilla. I’m kidding. This isn’t Lilla’s fault. But it doesn’t sound like he has a lot to say.



John Holbo 08.16.17 at 6:22 am

Grammar is going to hell. Ryan and McConnell have lost their subjects and Hugh Hewitt is going on about how the problem is ‘moments’.

“I agree with you,” Hewitt said. “That’s why I would prefer him to have staffers like Peggy Noonan and Michael Gerson who understand moments and who can provide him with texts and prompts as President Reagan had around him. To come up with great moments of rhetoric, as President Obama had. You need people like that to raise your game on moments of great importance and the president does not have them.”


John Holbo 08.16.17 at 6:26 am

But the proper Shakespeare text for the Alabama run-off is clear enough:

“More strange than true.” Shakespeare likes ‘more strange’. And that’s Alabama all over.


bad Jim 08.16.17 at 8:34 am

The alt-center is the heart of American politics. It is the 3/5 rule, the Missouri Compromise, the elections of John Quincy Adams, Rutherford B. Hayes, Benjamin Harrison, George W. Bush and someone else. High Broderism. Gergengrumbling. Whatta yagonnado. It is the reverence of all historical symbols, no matter what their message.


Maria 08.16.17 at 9:16 am

Ha! I’ve been trying for monthsto write something about what it feels like to be an immigrant in Brexit Britain, but it keeps on getting worse (Labour threw us under the bus as “cheap labour” to be gotten rid of just a few weeks ago). At this point I’d rather emigrate again than come up with something thoughtful/heartfelt/blah blah blah to say about it all.


casmilus 08.16.17 at 9:29 am

“Christ. I keep trying to write posts about Trump. He keeps digging down below the level of the post I was prepared to write.”

I expect today’s Onion has a piece that’s essentially “Liberal Commentator’s View Of Trump Consistently Better Than Actual Trump” or similar.


tonycpsu 08.16.17 at 2:46 pm

Jeez, can we not with the “alt-center” / “alt-left” stuff? Spencer and his Nazi followers popularized the alt-right label, so it’s fair to use the label they’ve chosen for themselves. Conversely, I’m unaware of any significant use of “alt-left” or “alt-center” as a term of self-identification. I mean, fuck Ryan Lilla and his awful arguments, but if you’re a liberal using “alt-left” to attack leftists or a leftist using “alt-center” to attack liberals, you’re just contributing to the circular firing squad and adding nothing of value to the conversation.


Chet Murthy 08.16.17 at 3:44 pm

tonycpsu @ 6 : I think both John and bad Jim are using “alt-center” to designate not “liberals”, but a certain kind of centrist who most definitely is NOT a liberal. The tells being “Lilla” and “reverence of all historical symbols”. They like to call themselves liberals (Mickey Kaus) but they sure aren’t. And they get all sorts of praise from Fox News and other RWNJ organs, by being house liberals and such.

Also note that Commander Bone Spurs used “alt-left” — John did not.


Doug K 08.16.17 at 4:13 pm

Maria, “At this point I’d rather emigrate again than come up with something thoughtful/heartfelt/blah blah blah to say about it all.”
that’s kinda the way I’m feeling about being an immigrant in the USA.. I have friends at church who voted for Trump, which is to say, voted to have me deported. It doesn’t seem to bother them either. My wife, talking to an old lady Trump enthusiast, “Em, I’m an immigrant, I won’t support Trump” response “but I like you !”
Unfortunately there isn’t anywhere to go..


Stephen Calhoun 08.16.17 at 4:15 pm

Senator Portman’s representative in the Cleveland office just told me the following, in response to the question “Does Senator Portman have an opinion on President Trump’s fitness for office”:

“Senator Portman understands he is not qualified to assess President Trump’s mental health, and, he has not made any statement about the President’s possible removal.”


PatinIowa 08.16.17 at 4:55 pm

Just read Lilla, and the first thing that comes to mind is what he thinks of Lyndon Johnson’s signing of the Civil Rights Act, knowing that the Dixiecrats would flee in droves to the Republicans.

Was that a mistake? Should Johnson have adopted the position of the liberals addressed by MLK Jr. in “Letter from Birmingham Jail”?



Michael Connolly 08.16.17 at 5:37 pm

The Atlantic has an article in the current issue titled “The Rise of the Violent Left.” Because both sides. I’m going to cancel my subscription.

This morally and intellectually bankrupt both-siderism is part of the centuries old project to whitewash the American Right. In 1983 or thereabouts I was doing some contract textbook proofing for Houghton Miflin, checking the contents of textbooks against the Texas state standards. (Because Texas and money.) A low point was the (high school) business survey text which had three chapters devoted to personal finance, including an entire chapter on insurance products – and exactly one chapter on human resources and labor relations, which contained a couple of paragraphs on labor history. After couple of sentences about working conditions, wages and union organizing, the summary sentence “There was even violence.” And that was the end. No details. No mention of massacres of striking workers. Or the total lack of massacres of tycoons and managers by striking workers. Feh.


Waiting for Godot 08.16.17 at 5:42 pm

“Alt” now has precise meaning in political conversation and eliminates any space for “center” because at this moment in history there is no middle there is only “alt” and anti-fascist.


b9n10nt 08.16.17 at 6:06 pm

Shorter Lilla:

Stop trying to create a sense of belonging in our society by cutivating your identities (“identity politics”) . Everyone join me in cultivating my identity (“the American project”).

It’s collective action problems all the way down.


Yankee 08.16.17 at 6:12 pm

alt-whatnot makes me think of, back in the day when the net was flat.


Lee A. Arnold 08.16.17 at 6:13 pm

It can be clarifying to analytically separate the two very different problems that he has. He has a political strategy problem and a personal psychological problem. The strategy was to win the election by cobbling together white separatists and disaffected workers, because the first thing he had to do was to find enough voters to run against his own party. Unfortunately the white separatists now think he supports them and this is going to embolden them further. And if you are willing to court racists to gain your ends, them you are a racist too. His psychological problem is that he is insecure, a weak bully, a narcissist with low attention span, and he thinks he can run a government by simply decreeing policy or else signing it, when it is brought to him as a fait accompli, and then claiming the credit. This last part is frustrated because the Republican Party is breaking up over the necessity of expanding the welfare state to ensure healthcare to all, vs. giving tax cuts to the wealthiest people in the world. We could also add a third problem which is that he may be either a crook or a dupe of the Russian mob, and now some of the best investigators in the country are going to find out. Overall, there may be no statues erected to this guy.


Anarcissie 08.16.17 at 6:59 pm

PatinIowa 08.16.17 at 4:55 pm @ 10 —
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was not Identity politics in the contemporary sense.


bruce wilder 08.16.17 at 7:36 pm

We are trapped.

By our economic dependency on the means of increasing inequality.


novakant 08.16.17 at 8:35 pm


David Y 08.16.17 at 9:11 pm

In the Vox interview, Lilla says, “The Republican Party now controls both governorships and statehouses in 24 states. If they win two more, they can call a constitutional convention. This is serious stuff.”

This must have been misedited, or Lilla misspoke. It takes 2/3 of state legislatures to call a constitutional convention, not 1/2. Governors are not involved per Article V. The Republicans do, however, control 32 state legislatures, so in that sense he’s correct to say they only need two more states to call a convention.

Article V

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.


Belle Waring 08.16.17 at 9:36 pm

I’m going back to playing Animal Crossing on my 3DS.


Alan White 08.16.17 at 10:27 pm

While Trump’s utter incompetence and lack of any qualification for the Oval Office is breathtaking and dangerous, I actually fear a Pence Presidency a lot, lot more.


MrArt 08.16.17 at 10:55 pm

Did Trump just coin the phrase alt-left? Seems appropriate: something that doesn’t actually exist, but fits perfectly into his narrative.

Please someone tell me his ludicrous (and completely predicable from before the election) behaviour is damaging him in the polls. Please.


mary s 08.16.17 at 11:20 pm

@tonycpsu: I am pretty sure that the reference to the alt-center was a joke. It made me laugh.


anymouse 08.16.17 at 11:53 pm

Belle Waring,

The Stone Sky is available today. It is one click away.


Helen 08.17.17 at 12:32 am

“@tonycpsu: I am pretty sure that the reference to the alt-center was a joke. It made me laugh.”


Also, “Alt-Left” is just Trump’s pathetic fifth-grader attempt to smear opponents of his base. “I know you are, but what am I?”


Steve 08.17.17 at 2:04 am

Re Comment 15.. There’s a hilarious post on Fivethirtyeight where various pundits try to make sense of Trump in terms of conventional electoral strategy. Eventually it just ends up as ‘he’s crazy’. It (almost) makes me feel sorry for all the journos who have spent years figuring out how triangulation might work only to be faced by someone who seems to make no political calculations – there really aren’t that many neo-Nszi voters- but seems highly successful (in the narrow sense of winning an election).


Raven 08.17.17 at 2:22 am

Lee A. Arnold @ 15: “Overall, there may be no statues erected to this guy.”

Just like there may be no public buildings or other sites named after the crook who arranged to have foreign hostiles hold American hostages longer in order to aid his own political career, and routed some of their payments (for the US weapons he sent them) to his own party’s campaign funds, making the whole enterprise a giant embezzlement/money-laundering operation. Oh, wait, no, the beneficiaries took good care of his reputation. No doubt “this guy’s” lackeys will, too. Either now, or (as with erecting the Confederate statues) years later when objections cool.


Hidari 08.17.17 at 6:21 am


Here’s an article that might interest you.

‘The health crisis afflicting working-class Americans recalls similar symptoms in Russia following the collapse of communism…On Thursday March 23, Case and Deaton released an update to their 2015 study[i] that showed a significant increase in mortality among middle aged white men and women — an increase concentrated amongst lower income, working class Americans.[ii] Case and Deaton trace the proximate causes of death driving this increase to suicide, drug and alcohol poisoning, and chronic liver diseases and cirrhosis. Measures of self-assessed health status they examined in surveys over 2011-2013 compared to 1997-1999 also show increased reports of pain and psychological distress.

While some questions have been raised about the differential impacts of gender[iii] and urbanization in these statistics,[iv] the overall numbers remain dramatic. Case and Deaton estimate that the upturn in mortality rates in the US is starkly divergent from other developed countries, and accounts for 96,000 deaths that could have been avoided between 1996 and 2013. Their latest work delves deeper into the underlying causes of this decline. “Deaths of Despair” — by suicide, drug overdose or alcohol abuse — cannot be completely explained simply by stagnant or declining incomes. Income profiles for middle aged blacks and Hispanics look similar, without a corresponding rise in mortality. Rather, the authors posit, it can be traced to a “cumulative disadvantage over life”, where declining labor market opportunities have led to declining outcomes not just in the labor market but also in health, marriage, and child rearing. In other words, the stress accompanying the shock of downward mobility is likely driving this health crisis….

A study by Shannon Monnat at Penn State found that Trump did particularly well in counties with the highest drug, alcohol and suicide mortality rates. She finds that “Even when using statistical models that include 14 demographic, economic, social, and health care factors, the drug, alcohol and suicide mortality rate remains a significant and positive predictor of Trump overperformance nationally.”’


b9n10nt 08.17.17 at 6:30 am

Steve @26 and Lee A. Arnold @15

Trump can be a very useful foil to mainstream republicans. What I read into Sessions’ denunciation of white power groups is a nod to his class: “it’s the right kind of Southern Gentleman that should represent the national interest”, “here again is why the rabble must not govern”. This is a winning play at home as well as on the national stage. Republican Congresspersons can increase their stature in relation to Trump.

Trump in the near future might make business leaders and wealthy suburban voters more reliant on Congressional Republicans to wrest policy from the executive’s hands, to keep the US from appearing irredeemably racist, and to make sure that The Generals protect America. So key Republican donors and voters are motivated.

Trump keeps the lower class rabble happy and the upper class base engaged and motivated. It will continue to be a golden age of Republican-style decadence.

While the cat (of Democratic turnout) is away, the mice (of Republicans flying their various freak flags) will play.


Lee A. Arnold 08.17.17 at 12:05 pm

I am just thinking tactically. Against the racism? Take to the streets, get the statues into a museum. Against the possible criminality? Not much to do until we see what Mueller finds. On the economic issues? The course ahead is complicated.

The economic issues are more complicated politically, because the US is in a long post-crisis expansion that looks a tiny bit better every day. Trump’s political strategy (for surely he had one) is to amorally get power and then to get jobs for the workforce, or else to lie about the results if necessary. (For one of many examples, Trump is touting the million new jobs in the last 6 months even though this is part of the economic expansion, and in fact it’s a slowdown from the number of jobs created in the last 6 months under Obama. Also a large portion of the new jobs are in healthcare due to the expansion of coverage under Obamacare; another large portion of the jobs are very low wage, etc.) But almost all politicians make these claims, and this sort of seeming success is a hard thing to fight politically.

Bannon wants the Democrats to use up their time in fighting racism while Trump starts a trade war with China, which will re-energize the blue-collars in Trump’s favor, even though 1) new domestic factories will be mostly automated; 2) the standard-of-living may decline long-term, relative to other countries; and 3) much sooner than that, financial capital will start to flee the US for sunnier shores that are getting a higher ROI from the China Belt and Road initiative. That means US interest rates will skyrocket. And that, in turn, will work into the GOP’s plans to shrink Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, healthcare — the Welfare State — as they are falsely claimed to become more costly.

Thus the Democrats are still in their pre-existing pickle, until they make a full-throated pitch for a Single Payer State that guarantees everybody’s access to all lifeline goods and services, regardless of job status. More immediately, the infrastructure debate will be upon us, and the choices to pay for that are 1) more public debt, 2) raising taxes on the richest, or 3) privatizing new roads and bridges (Trump’s choice). Here the Democrats could regain the support of the Obama-to-Trump voters by arguing simply and loudly against choices 1 and 3.


Raven 08.17.17 at 12:25 pm

This Associated Press reference piece defines how the AP will carefully use the term “alt-right” (in quotes, perhaps even the qualification ‘so-called’, and with definition/explanation) — and of the term “alt-left” it has but this to say:

“Similarly, ‘alt-left’ has recently been coined by some to describe far-left factions. Like ‘alt-right,’ avoid using unless in a quotation and always include a definition.”


Faustusnotes 08.17.17 at 1:23 pm

Hidari, have you seen Andrew Gelman’s blog posts on the case and deaton study? It appears that their findings can be explained by demographics, and when properly standardized there is no increase in mortality rates in non white hispanics, and a slight increase in blacks. I don’t remember the details now but I suggest you check gelman ‘s blog. Also describing deaths due to drug and alcohol use as deaths of despair is a terrible misunderstanding of how drug addiction works. There’s much more to the epidemic than tht and it needs a more nuanced discussion than the economists are giving it.

My suspicion is that the increased rates of opiate addiction reflect real underlying health care needs that were not being handled by americas health care system, and that in the absence of care for the underlying cause poorer Americans and ex labourers used opioids to manage pain, but because they didn’t have proper medical care they were at risk of dying. I suspect Obamacare helped to fix that but the real reason for the easy access to drugs was changed to prescription pricesade in the bush era, and maybe also bush era deregulation of drug markets (the opioid epidemic has been trending up since 2010). When you view the epidemic as a 10 year epidemic the idea that it is connected with trump voting becomes a little unsustainable. Why didn’t these people vote trump in 2012? I think it just reflects aging in rural areas that is not properly handled in the models because economists don’t understand epidemiology. I will further go out on a limb and guess that the new study linked above used linear regression on logged crude rates, which means a) it can’t properly handle aging and b) all counties with zero deaths were excluded. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet though but I would advise against trusting anything economists do on health.


faustusnotes 08.17.17 at 3:33 pm

Okay I looked at the “deaths of despair” thing now and it has huge problems:

1. it assesses overperformance relative to Romney, which is a bad measure because probability differences are not linear (a 10% overperformance from 85 to 95% is very different to a 10% overperformance from 50 to 60%)
2. It uses crude mortality rates which is a terrible idea because in developed countries higher crude mortality always means more old people, or more poor people – this applies even for deaths occurring in middle age (e.g. suicide) because aging occurs across all age groups, and a small shift in average age always leads to a small increase in mortality
3. It doesn’t take into account absolute population size at all
4. It doesn’t adjust for turnout
5. It doesn’t account in any way for age, or rural vs. urban
6. It includes suicide, which in the US is strongly correlated with gun ownership, and gun ownership is a very strong marker of Trump voting
7. There is no multiple regression for these conflicting factors
8. Ecological fallacy up the wazoo

Talking about the Trump vote without considering the age of voters is just a waste of breath.
I really wish economists would stay out of anything to do with health.


John R Garrett 08.17.17 at 3:49 pm

Lee Arnold @30: violent agreement. The core issues remain in our hands: what must we on the left do (not what will Trump do). Are we finally ready to speak truth: single payer, high taxes on great wealth, jobs via public expenditure for infrastructure, end the wars.


Hidari 08.17.17 at 4:39 pm

Here’s the most up to date opinion polls I could find about the American Democrats.


Hidari 08.17.17 at 4:55 pm

Here’s opinion poll data about Trump’s comments. 67% of Republicans approve of Trump’s response.


patiniowa 08.17.17 at 6:00 pm

Anarcissie at #16

“The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was not Identity politics in the contemporary sense.”

I’m pretty sure that’s what Lilla would say. If it’s not a tautology, I don’t agree.

The central hub of the argument about identity politics is whether or not non-whites and women and queers and others are pursuing interests that differ from those of white liberals think are universal and compelling. One way to respond to that is to say that historically, when liberals have pursued those interests, marginalized groups get–not so mysteriously–left out.

If take a central leftish value to be something like “Let’s work together to give everybody a secure economic basis on which to build meaningful lives,” it seems to me to make sense to insist that this time we ought to include domestic and agricultural workers, especially Latinos and African-Americans, unlike when we did social security. And so on.

There’s an empirical point here. For a very long time, when white liberals have accomplished their goals without rigorously considering identities, they have left marginalized people out. That’s unsustainable in a party and a country which is increasing composed of those marginalized people.

Ta-nehisi Coates is good on this, in my opinion.


nastywoman 08.18.17 at 4:36 am

and this:
“I would want to punch a Nazi in the nose, too,” Maria Stephan, a program director at the United States Institute of Peace, told me. “But there’s a difference between a therapeutic and strategic response.”The problem, she said, is that violence is simply bad strategy.

Violence directed at white nationalists only fuels their narrative of victimhood — of a hounded, soon-to-be-minority who can’t exercise their rights to free speech without getting pummeled. It also probably helps them recruit. And more broadly, if violence against minorities is what you find repugnant in neo-Nazi rhetoric, then “you are using the very force you’re trying to overcome,” Michael Nagler, the founder of the Peace and Conflict Studies program at the University of California, Berkeley, told me.

Most important perhaps, violence is just not as effective as nonviolence. In their 2011 book, “Why Civil Resistance Works,” Dr. Stephan and Erica Chenoweth examined how struggles are won. They found that in over 320 conflicts between 1900 and 2006, nonviolent resistance was more than twice as effective as violent resistance in achieving change. And nonviolent struggles were resolved much sooner than violent ones.”


TM 08.18.17 at 8:57 am

I can only hope that American liberals finally start taking fascism seriously. And stop deluding themselves. Trump is a fascist – not just a cynical opportunist pandering to fascists, but a fascist at heart – and there is a considerable fascist movement in the US that forms his base and through the GOP exerts real power. And there is no reason whatsoever to believe that “it can’t happen here”.

Oh and about that leftist fraction of the sanctimonious rhetoric – does it finally dawn on you that, surprise surprise, the “lesser evil” *is* preferable to the grater evil after all?


Hidari 08.18.17 at 9:09 am

There’s quite a good article in, all of places, the BBC, about Trump/Bannon’s thinking about this.

‘Donald Trump, in a series of tweets, bashed his Republican opponents and the media and defended Confederate Civil War monuments – the cause for which white supremacists and neo-Nazis marched last weekend.
The president appears to be forcing exactly the kind of fight with progressive groups that Mr Bannon, in his interview, said he welcomed.
“The longer they talk about identity politics, I got ’em,” Mr Bannon said. “I want them to talk about racism every day. If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats.”…

A recent Marist poll shows that a majority of Americans support (62%) allowing “statues honouring the leaders of the Confederacy” to “remain as historical symbols”….

While Americans overwhelming reject racism and white supremacists, a debate over weather-worn statues cuts much more in Mr Trump’s favour….

(in other words) ‘ if th(e) debate …means Democrats abandon bread-and-butter economic issues, Mr Bannon’s side will welcome the exchange…

Mr Trump railed against change – a return to when America was “great”. And the statue debate, as he’s constructing it, snugly fits that theme.’.


TM 08.18.17 at 9:49 am

novakant: Corbyn’s position is shocking.

1) The remedy for dumping wages is strong labor protections, minimum wages and controls to make sure that employers cannot undercut local wages and conditions. See below (*)
2) The problem of British workers is not the EU but the unwillingness of the UK government to use its power to protect workers.
3) Restricting legal immigration will be counterproductive because illegal or precarious immigrants (those whose immigration status depends on their employer) are more vulnerable and easier to exploit. They can’t afford to complain about abusive wages or conditions. Free movement within the EU actually improves the protection of all workers. Depending of course on the political will of the *national* government to do the protecting.

Corbyn should have called out the Tories and the business establishment as culprits for deteriorating working conditions, not immigrants, he should build a platform based on strengthening labor protections and raising minimum wages (*), and expose the right-wing anti-EU camp, who oppose such measures, as anti-worker.

(*) A model for what the left should aim for is Switzerland, a non-member free movement country. When free movement was ratified, unions and the left demanded and won a package of accompanying measures against wage and social dumping that vastly strengthened government oversight over labor conditions and gave it the power to impose minimum wages. The nativists who favor restricting immigration adamantly oppose these kinds of measures (surprise surprise). Employers and business-oriented conservatives also obviously oppose them but have accepted them as the price of admission to the EU single market, which the business community considers essential. The unions support free movement plus accompanying measures because they argue that immigrants with guaranteed rights rather than precarious status are less likely to be pressed into illegality and are better able to defend against abuse (“weniger Schwarzarbeit und prekäre Stellen in Tieflohnbranchen, mehr gut qualifizierte ausländische Arbeitskräfte mit besseren Möglichkeiten, sich gegen Druck- und Missbrauchsversuche zu wehren. Die Instrumente der Flankierenden gegen Lohndumping verbesserten die Lohnsituation”).

Position of the trade union federation (de or fr)

Accompanying measures against wage and social dumping (de fr it en)


TM 08.18.17 at 9:51 am


Katsue 08.18.17 at 12:22 pm


No, Trump didn’t invent the “alt-left” insult. It was, if I recall correctly, popularised by Hillary supporters. Reference below:


Raven 08.19.17 at 4:04 am

Katsue @ 43: As far as I’m concerned, the only appropriate referent for “alt-left” are the (actually) “alt-right” supporters e.g. trolls pretending to be leftists:
Meet the GOPers Trolling Hillary From the Left
Paid Commenters Hired By Fox News To Spread Right Wing Talking Points Across The Net
BUSTED: Trump-loving comment trolls pose as Sanders and Clinton supporters to divide Democrats
Russian internet trolls were being hired to pose as pro-Trump Americans – Business Insider
The Russian troll army that helped swing the election for Trump
Donald Trump Supporters Boost Bernie Sanders in West Virginia (“In fact, 39 percent of Sanders voters said they would vote for Trump over Sanders in the fall.”)


Hidari 08.19.17 at 9:51 am

Oooooh well Bannon’s gone….although some people had predicted that this might happen for some time (the idea that Trump was Bannon’s puppet was always ludicrous).

The Guardian had the interesting snippet that ‘when word of his (i.e. Bannon’s) downfall came on Friday, cheers erupted on the floor of the New York stock exchange.’ (indicating, of course, cui bono, and who are the real puppet masters….Rupert Murdoch, according to the Guardian, was also instrumental in forcing him out). A de facto pro-war rag like the Guardian doesn’t of course discuss it, but one might infer that this might strengthen whatever remains of the neoconservative cabal in the Republican elite which, if true, is not a good thing.


b9n10nt 08.20.17 at 4:09 am

Lee A. Arnold @30, John R. Garrett @34

But something fundamentally more…

Single payer, public infrastructure, and some semblance of public discipling of the oligarchy is a necessary first step, but to what?

Freedom has merely become mass distraction and entertainment. I say the new word for the 21st is “community” as in…the individual freedoms that we aspire to wither on the vine unless they can prosper in the soil of loved ones, familiars, and enemies. Everywhere in the U.S., citizens have struggled to create and maintain community and connection against the desiccating heat of market relations. We now pledge to support 3 principles to strengthen and broaden our vision of freedom:

1. A cradle to grave safety net for all citizens regardless of market outcome.

2. Community development: yes to Walkable mixed-income urbanism and shared common spaces. yes to diverse markets, no to large private oligopolies in all but priveleged industries (infrastructure, high tech).

3. Broad support for experimention with and research about diverse communities in the U.S.

Ahhhh space to dream….thx CT


RD 08.20.17 at 4:36 am



nastywoman 08.20.17 at 5:54 am

”A de facto pro-war rag like the Guardian doesn’t of course discuss it,”

Which reminded me how much I hate any linguistic maneuvers constructing kind of a pro-Bannon narrative by telling stories of ‘cheers erupting on the floor of the New York stock exchange.’ -(because GOD-thankfully the idiot is gone)- and silly Breitbart Internet Lingo about ‘real puppet masters’…. especially if by chance -(or accident?) such ‘a puppet master’ came out on the side of the ‘good guys’ – by condemning Neo Nazi and thusly horrible – absolutely HORRIBLE Alt-Righters like Bannon.


nastywoman 08.20.17 at 6:55 am

But isn’t that the real tragedy that we -(‘progressives’ – ‘liberals’ – ‘socialists’ – whatever we would like to call US) – helped to make von Clownstick possible – by ‘bickering’ with each other – instead of just working together like some ‘Swiss’ -(see TM @41) – to make it impossible that very, very sad and unhappy US workers out of a lot of frustration that US Companies – Politicians and Economists just can’t come up with constructive and helpful solutions to problems the people blame on a more open-minded and ‘globalized world’ – or that we are not even able to just copy some already well working health care systems – or just copy from other countries what ‘Fascistic F…faces’ NOT to erect?


Hidari 08.20.17 at 9:51 am

‘Stephen Bannon may have been a political adviser to President Donald Trump, but his firing Friday could have an impact on U.S. foreign policy from Europe to the Middle East and Asia.

Bannon’s exit clears an obstacle for backers of an active U.S. foreign policy in line with recent presidencies — and is a resounding win for Bannon’s internal rival, national security adviser H.R. McMaster….

In the immediate term, foreign policy insiders agreed, Bannon’s departure also could increase the chances of a U.S. troop increase in Afghanistan—a plan championed by McMaster but strongly opposed by Bannon, who managed to draw out debate on the issue with direct appeals to Trump.

More generally, it will remove an internal brake on U.S. military action abroad. Bannon has argued against greater U.S. intervention in Iraq and Syria and was among the few White House officials to oppose President Donald Trump’s early-April missile strike in Syria….

“Bannon’s departure probably means a return to normalcy, where the State and Defense Departments will have greater influence on foreign policy,” Abrams said.’


Maria 08.20.17 at 12:18 pm

@Doug – yes, I’ve had the “But we don’t mean YOU” a fair few times. Or “It won’t affect the Irish”. a) it will, by the death of a thousand cuts, and b) thanks but I don’t feel like chucking the Poles under the bus so you’ll feel better about how you voted.


nastywoman 08.20.17 at 1:29 pm

but the most tragic figures under US – are probably Americans who vote for horrible and disgusting F…faces because they think they are this kind of (peaceful) ‘non interventionists – and (still) desperately trying to keep up the illusion – in order NOT having to join the chorus in Dogpatch in honor of all the Jubilation T. Cornpones…


Pavel A 08.20.17 at 2:08 pm


It’s not all bad. Bannon was pushing to completely privatize the conflict in Afghanistan by turning all operations over to Blackwater PMC. With Bannon exiting the stage, that plan is basically dead. If you think soldiers with training and a chain of command are good at committing war crimes, wait until you’re just dealing with paid mercs:


Pavel A 08.20.17 at 2:22 pm


“Violence directed at white nationalists only fuels their narrative of victimhood — of a hounded, soon-to-be-minority who can’t exercise their rights to free speech without getting pummeled. It also probably helps them recruit.”

Hey you know what else fuels their narrative of victimhood? Literally everything! Video games have women who aren’t just titninjas and fap objects? Suppressing male sexuality! Anime removes gratuitous panty shots from underage girls? Censorship! Affirmative action and immigration? White genocide! Interracial marriages? Race traitors! Welfare? Helping the lesser races commit white genocide! Seriously, the entire Nazi identity is one of whinging victimhood. The suggestion that violence against Nazis is a significant part of that narrative, when literally any social and cultural action that doesn’t serve white men’s needs is interpreted as victimizing them, is silly.

“And more broadly, if violence against minorities is what you find repugnant in neo-Nazi rhetoric, then “you are using the very force you’re trying to overcome,” ”

No. What we are trying to deal with is Karl Popper’s Paradox of Tolerance. Being tolerant of the intolerant is an existential threat to the tolerant. Attempting to debate those who are not interested in debate, or to attempt to reach a consensus with those whose motive is extermination is a dead end.

“They found that in over 320 conflicts between 1900 and 2006, nonviolent resistance was more than twice as effective as violent resistance in achieving change.”

Not all conflicts are the same. Most conflicts are about power sharing or political representation, where non-violent resistance really does work. It would be interesting to see how many instances of genocide and extermination were stopped by non-violent resistance. My guess is very few.

Fianlly, here is a touching story of a clergy person in C’ville changing their mind about Antifa:


nastywoman 08.20.17 at 3:28 pm

– as I have family in charlottesville I knew about –
‘a member of clergy in charlottesville, committed to pacifism, describes the moment he changed his mind on antifa’ – and I thought:
How similar to any good American committed to pacifism – changing her or his mind about the so called ‘freedom of speech’?

Like – finally deciding to adopting European laws against hate speech – where ‘innocent lives’ are defended by the law –
without any need for any ‘violence’ whatsoever.
And the law is like ‘our fathers in WW2 who defend US from the Fascists and the Nazis.


Hidari 08.20.17 at 5:22 pm

@53 Yes I am not in the slightest bit implying that Bannon is a nice or good guy.

There’s a good interview with Max Blumenthal here:

about the possible implications of Bannon’s sacking (mainly bad).


TM 08.21.17 at 7:44 am

Hidari 40:

“if th(e) debate …means Democrats abandon bread-and-butter economic issues, Mr Bannon’s side will welcome the exchange…”

A naive observer might think that it’s the Right who are making a fuss about those confederate monuments, to the point of staging armed marches and murdering anti-racist protesters. But in your parallel universe, the Left shouldn’t express outrage at Nazi terror because that merely distracts from “bread-and-butter economic issues”, just as BLM should never have protested police violence because that merely distracts from the far more important plight of white male workers.

Now what exactly is it that Steve Bannon and the extreme Right have done to help American workers put butter on their bread, while supporting what is probably the most plutocratic administration in US history?


Hidari 08.21.17 at 6:26 pm

I don’t even know if people are still following this thread, but there’s a good piece at Jacobin about where we are now, vis a vis the CEO revolt.

‘Trump also took office lacking a key ingredient of a powerful presidency: he didn’t have the backing of the big corporations and banks that hold decisive economic and political power in the US.

After his inauguration, he set out to build that base. He named several representatives of big capital to high cabinet positions (although only two of them came from major institutions of big business: ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson and Goldman Sachs president Gary Cohn). In a bid to reach further into the ranks of big capital, he set up two business advisory councils: the Strategy and Policy Forum, whose remit was economic policy as a whole, and the American Manufacturing Council, which advised on policies specifically affecting manufacturing.

These two bodies represented a key means for Trump to anchor his presidency in the capitalist class. The Strategy and Policy Forum boasted officials from big finance (Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan) and from major nonfinancial corporations (Boeing, GE, General Motors, IBM, PepsiCo, Walmart). The twenty-eight-member Manufacturing Council contained a cross-section of American manufacturing including consumer products, capital goods, aircraft producers, military contractors, high tech, and pharmaceuticals, as well as two token trade union representatives and someone from the joint business-labor Alliance for American Manufacturing. The two councils held highly publicized meetings with Trump when they were founded (although they hadn’t met since).


Trump had his work cut out for him in trying to build bridges to big business. Since the presidential campaign, the heads of giant corporations and banks hung back from their usual enthusiastic support for GOP candidates, wary of Trump’s agenda Trump. And with good reason. For one, Trump’s call for high tariffs and other protectionist measures threatens almost all of big business, from retailers dependent on imported consumer goods to manufacturing companies whose inputs come from abroad. Export-heavy sectors would face retaliatory tariffs if the US erects trade barriers. And most of big business is tied into the globalized economy.

Second, Trump’s anti-immigrant measures rankle broad sections of American big business. Agribusiness and hospitality sectors need low-wage immigrant labor, while high-tech sectors rely on highly skilled workers from abroad. Third, Trump’s penchant for going after individual companies — in an attempt to dictate their investment decisions — runs counter to big capital’s desire for maximum freedom to choose where to invest….

Trump’s behavior on foreign policy is also a probable source of concern. Big capital needs the US to maintain its dominant presence on the world stage, and Trump’s actions threaten to undermine that hegemony by repelling long-time US allies…

His post-election shift on domestic economic policy, toward neoliberal policies of deregulation and calls for business tax cuts, aimed at buying that acquiescence, as well as mollifying the hardcore neoliberals in Congress….

Trump rendered the service of winning the White House for the Republicans. But now he’s an albatross around their necks. A President Pence — a normal extreme neoliberal politician — must be a far more appealing prospect to congressional Republicans. It’s likely that the main thing holding them back is their fear of Trump’s still-strong support among GOP voters. Yet if a significant part of big business moves beyond disassociation from Trump to a quiet endorsement of his removal, we might see a President Pence before 2020 rolls around.’

Much of the corporate media is of course covertly angling for a Pence Presidency (under the guise of of ‘impeaching’ Trump or demonstrating he is ‘unfit for office’ or whatever), and of course the ‘liberal’ intelligentsia will go along with that. What is currently saving Trump, I would imagine, is the current news on the job front and the currently booming stock market. Republicans, I would imagine, will withhold their fire until closer to the next elections, to see whether Trump might cost congress men (sic) their cushy mostly gerrymandered ‘jobs’.


Raven 08.22.17 at 3:09 am

Hidari @ 58: “A President Pence — a normal extreme neoliberal politician…” — *koff* *koff* *koff*…

Jan. 26, 2016: A new study from Visit Indy — Indianapolis’s convention and tourism organization — found that Indiana lost at least $60 million in revenue after lawmakers there passed the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which gave businesses the greenlight to discriminate against LGBT people on religious grounds.
     Though reaction was swift — and negative — after Republican governor Mike Pence signed the RFRA legislation last year, it wasn’t clear how financially damning the law was. The new study shows the clear ramifications, with 12 out-of-state groups saying the RFRA law convinced them to move their business elsewhere. Numerous businesses, from Angie’s List to American Airlines, condemned the discriminatory law, with Apple’s out CEO penning an op-ed in the Washington Post blasting Pence’s decision to sign the bill.
     “The evidence of the disastrous consequences from Gov. Pence’s discriminatory RFRA flight last year is undeniable,” JoDee Winterhof, the senior vice president for policy and political affairs at the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement.

If what Pence did was supposed to be an example of “neoliberalism” (defined as “a modified form of liberalism tending to favor free-market capitalism”), then he sure used it to shoot himself in the foot, because not only was it “illiberal” in the non-“neo” sense, it drove a lot of free-market capitalists away from his state.

Of course, most people call him ultraconservative, Religious-Right, Dominionist, and he has repeatedly declared himself “a Christian first, a Conservative second and a Republican in that order.”


faustusnotes 08.22.17 at 4:38 am


there’s a good piece at Jacobin

No there isn’t. There never is, and that article is a case in point.


TM 08.22.17 at 7:11 am

As I said: the most plutocratic administration in US history, but the “anti-capitalists” at Jacobin haven’t even noticed.

“post-election shift on domestic economic policy, toward neoliberal policies of deregulation and calls for business tax cuts” – really? They haven’t noticed that deregulation and tax cuts for the rich have been Trump’s agenda all the time? That’s what you get when, after years of rooting against “neoliberalism”, you forget that capitalism can do without the liberalism if needed. Historically illiterate social romantics.


TM 08.22.17 at 7:50 am

Krugman: His [Trump’s] agenda, such as it is, amounts to reverse Robin Hood with extra racism — the conventional Republican strategy of taking from struggling families to give to the rich, while distracting lower-income whites by attacking Those People, with the only difference being just how blatantly he plays the race card.

Anybody who failed to notice this until now can’t be taken seriously.
But of course, Krugman is a neoliberal.


Hidari 08.22.17 at 7:57 am

For all those sneering at Jacobin, perhaps you should email Professor John Quiggin, CT blogger, who regularly writes there?

After all he hasn’t seemed to have noticed what a terrible magazine it is. However, I’m sure if you bring it to his intention, he will immediately cease scribbling for such an unseemly rag and return to writing for more respectable journals, such as those good upstanding liberal magazines which spent almost the entirely of 2016 demonstrating their political perspicacity by informing us that Trump would never be President.


Matt 08.22.17 at 11:11 am

Given that the most recent of those was over a year ago now, Hidari, and most were 2-4 years ago, I’m not sure how strong a rebuttal that is. My impression is that the real rot at that place has come out more and more recently.


John Quiggin 08.22.17 at 11:30 am

I’m not going to defend everything in Jacobin. But I don’t see why everyone is so upset about the article in question. It’s true that Trump is a plutocrat, but it’s also true that his protectionism and nativism makes him unappealing to much of the business class, and that they would much prefer Pence.


Faustusnotes 08.22.17 at 11:51 am

Bullshit. The true representatives of neoliberalism (neoliberalism the thing, not neoliberalism the slur deployed by angry berniebros) are the GOP and they are sticking by trump. Business won’t abandon trump until he fails to deliver the tax cut they want, or if he crashes the economy by refusing to raise he debt ceiling over the wall. Watch thenpathetic GOP reps refuse to say they don’t support him after they decried his racism. They’re cheap racist scum who will sell us all down the river for a tax cut. This advisory council stuff is easy PR. We will know business has abandoned trump when their cock sockets in the GOP abandon him and not before.

Which they won’t, because of a phenomenon the jacobin piece gets completely wrong in the last paragraph. Trump remains more popular than the GOP because of his racism and at this point they all know their primary – and in many cases general election – hopes depend on trumps fascist base mobilizing for them. If that changes watch them throw him under the bus faster than you can exclaim “what a pack of slimy fuckknuckles “. Until then they’re locked in, and the only people opposing him are people who don’t depend on him for votes (Murkowski) or who are too old and vengeful to give a fuck (McCain). When Jacobin can’t even get that right they don’t have much to say.

Oh, and how’s that dove trump working out for you berniebros? After years of saying the Afghan war was a waste of blood and treasure, as soon as he gets hold of the levers of power he expands it. What a real non interventionist you found to carry your economic nationalist hopes in the White House!


TM 08.22.17 at 3:02 pm

PS: Ask yourself why Trump’s famously “working class”, “populist” base stands by an administration that behaves thusly:

“Louise Linton, the labels-loving wife of Steven Mnuchin, replied condescendingly to an Instagram poster about her lifestyle and belittled the woman, Jenni Miller, a mother of three from Portland, Ore., for having less money than she does.”

Can you see the pitchfork crowds descending on Washington yet? Me neither. And don’t say Mnuchin and his wife are outliers. Not only is the administration full of plutocrats like them; more importantly Linton’s attitude exactly mirrors Trump’s own, and his base loves him not despite but because of it. That’s what I mean when I accuse Jacobin of social romanticism. Trump’s movement is not, as they really seem to believe, an uprising against economic injustice. Their resentment is not directed at the rich and powerful. How could it with a leader like Trump?


Raven 08.22.17 at 5:54 pm

TM @ 67: “Not only is the administration full of plutocrats like them….”

Trump: ‘I just don’t want a poor person’ running the economy

So, somebody said, ‘Why did you appoint a rich person to be in charge of the economy?’ … I said, ‘because that’s the kind of thinking we want.’ I mean, you know, really. Because they’re representing the country. They don’t want the money. They’re representing the country and they had to give up a lot to take these jobs. They gave up a lot. And you get the president — this is the president of Goldman Sachs. Smart. Having him represent us. He went from massive paydays to peanuts, to little tiny — I’m waiting for them to accuse him of wanting that little amount of money. They wanted that. But these are people that are great, brilliant business minds. And that’s what we need, that’s what we have so the world doesn’t take. … We can’t have the world taking advantage of us anymore. And I love all people, rich or poor. But in those particular positions, I just don’t want a poor person. Does that make sense? Does that make sense? If you insist, I’ll do it. But I like it better this way, right?


Raven 08.22.17 at 6:03 pm

John Quiggin @ 65: “… they would much prefer Pence.”

… who, so far, has consistently said he “stands by the President” on every single issue, whether economic or political, right down to the back-and-forth positioning about Charlottesville protesters/counter-protesters.


TM 08.22.17 at 8:30 pm

PPS: As I pointed out on the other thread, Bannon’s declared goal is the destruction of the regulatory state. It’s amazing how underapprecited this fact is because that is precisely the area where the Trump administration has been most successful.


nastywoman 08.22.17 at 8:56 pm

– a few remarks –
firstly @66
Yes – ‘they’ -(the GOPG) are sticking by trump. Business won’t abandon trump until he fails to deliver the tax cut they want and when Jacobin can’t even get that right they don’t have much to say.
BUT as a (female) angry ‘Berniebro’ myself – I think trump is working out for US exactly as I thought – as the typical ‘militaristic’ F…face -(loving himself some ‘generals’.

And @67
Trump’s movement never was – as even some few poor mislead commenters on a pretty smart blog like Crooked Timber seemed to have believed, an uprising against economic injustice. And I’m just taking about the operators of trumps movement here and not the confused voters in the rust belt. ‘Their resentment is not directed at the rich and powerful. How could it with a leader like Trump?’
BUT Krugman indeed might be a classic neoliberal if the essence of the definition of ‘neoliberal’ is his pretty oldfashioned support of freedom for markets.

and then @63 who wrote:
”such as those good upstanding liberal magazines which spent almost the entirely of 2016 demonstrating their political perspicacity by informing us that Trump would never be President.”
No they didn’t ”demonstrate their political perspicacity by informing us that Trump would never be President.”
They couldn’t believe – like any sane human on this planet – that such a ”F…face” could be erected anywhere – and the fact that he was elected should make anybody who believed that he could be elected a real… let’s say ‘unpleasant person’?
-(and not the other way around)

And all of the above might read like a bunch of crazy contradictions – but that’s how it seems to be – nowadays: All of it ‘a big fat lump of contradictions’ – getting prioritized in the most confusing – but always radical egocentric ways.

And that’s the hilarious fun of it –



J-D 08.23.17 at 2:23 am

John Quiggin

I’m not going to defend everything in Jacobin. But I don’t see why everyone is so upset about the article in question.

The conclusion is a huge unjustified leap, a work of fantasy (although I wouldn’t say that upsets me).


Hidari 08.23.17 at 4:35 pm


J-D 08.24.17 at 1:12 am

That’s interesting as an example of somebody sneering at people for sneering at people.


Collin Street 08.24.17 at 2:52 am

Eh: fascists are “economically anxious” because they’re useless twats. With no talent to sell you’re reliant on monetising your position in the social hierarchy for enough rent to live on: social changes threaten that.

(specifically, I think they lack marketable talent because of impairments to their ability to respond to the desires of others, but even if you disagree with my big-picture conclusions the first paragraph remains true.)


Collin Street 08.24.17 at 2:55 am

But seriously, the biggest supporters of fascism are the small business owners who run small businesses because they haven’t been able to make their businesses grow. This is a precarious posution but it’s not actually all that low-status… in general, I guess, precariosity requires that you’ve got enough height to fall.


Faustusnotes 08.24.17 at 4:32 am

Oh come on hidari, that’s ridiculous. He same economic pressures are affecting young men across the rich world but where are the Japanese fascists, the Aussie fascists, the British fascists? And please don’t tell me that America with its camp football culture that valorizes cotton wool warriors is somehow more violent than genocidal Australia or knife crime Britain. Furthermore if the theory is true a lot of those fascists would, as layman observes, be adjunct professors. Wanna have a guess at how many of that crowd are ?

No this is a uniquely American problem arising from americas unique history. Racism is a mora decision and the hyper racism and klanism on display in America now is a uniquely American problem. That the American far left seems uniquely unable to analyze. I wonder why?


Collin Street 08.24.17 at 7:02 am

Btw: a generous social welfare system means being a talentless arsehole with no social skills is no huge impairnent to your ability to survive as a valued member of society -> less economic anxiety. But (people of the type I’ve described) rather notoriously have difficulty with allowing for counterveiling second-order effects, so the path “if everyone has welfare available to them society will change to make my life outcomes more accepted” isn’t really a conclusion people on the hard right will find easy to come to.

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