Friday, February 17, 2017

Post-election: picking up the pieces

Okay, back to a general post-mortem: let’s focus on the election itself, starting with two quick dismissals.  This was not about working class pain, or racism.

Yeah, yeah, I hear your howls. And sure, maybe a third of Trump voters have some justified sense of grievance over jobs. Unemployment dropped dramatically under Obama and his near-record departing-popularity reflects this. But changes in the U.S. industrial landscape have resulted in fewer workers getting the high-class and highly-paid manufacturing billets their dads had. Sure, automation is far more to blame than outsourcing, and Republican oligarchs did far more to outsource than democrats. Still, there’s real pain there. Clinton should have addressed it better…

…and yet, less than a third of Trump voters were even remotely in that category. The rest are doing fine, economically. Many of them even know, grudgingly, that Democrats manage the economy better than Republicans do. Always.

No, their rage was cultural and psychological, not economic.

The same holds for racism. Yes, sure, it plays a role! And I hate it. And we need to fight it. And sure, maybe a third of Trump voters are affected by that poison. And many of the rest suffer from the new version -- lazy racism -- that has replaced much of the overt kind. White people who sit back, envision the scores of black and latino personalities they like, and the biracial couples they enjoy on TV, and conclude that means racism doesn’t apply to them. It gives them excuse to shrug and declare “racism is dead!” With the real, underlying complaint: “stop nagging me!”
        
Look, I accept all of that and again declare that we must fight it, as we fought, earlier, more overt forms of this disease. And we need to accelerate the trend that already began under Obama, of bringing manufacturing home. But let’s be clear… neither of these explanations for Trumpism correlate with all Trump voters.

I believe I know a better correlation. One that has an almost 100% overlap. But let’s hear from some others, first.

== Psychological theories – starting with Good vs evil ==

Why Rural America Voted for Trump: Robert Leonard, a New York Times reporter who grew up in rural Iowa offers perspective on the cultural divide between red and blue counties in the United States: 

Political analysts have talked about how ignorance, racism, sexism, nationalism, Islamophobia, economic disenfranchisement and the decline of the middle class contributed to the popularity of Mr. Trump in rural America. But this misses the deeper cultural factors that shape the thinking of the conservatives who live here.”

This piece is flawed, missing several crucial aspects of “culture war,” such as the growling resentment that’s been spurred against all professions of knowledge. But some of the narratives that confederates tell each other do go back a long way, even to pre Civil War times, and we need to listen – in order to refute.

He quotes one Baptist minister: “The difference between Republicans and Democrats is that Republicans believe people are fundamentally bad, while Democrats see people as fundamentally good,” said Mr. Watts, who was in the area to campaign for Senator Rand Paul. “We are born bad,” he said and added that children did not need to be taught to behave badly — they are born knowing how to do that. We teach them how to be good,” he said. “We become good by being reborn — born again.” He continued: “Democrats believe that we are born good, that we create God, not that he created us. If we are our own God, as the Democrats say, then we need to look at something else to blame when things go wrong — not us.”

This drivel is an example of the many narratives that are used, to justify a hate that boils and overwhelms any attempt at negotiation or conversation.  Nor are facts - such as pragmatic outcomes - able to penetrate. If we subtract outliers like Utah and Detroit and Chicago, name a metric of moral and healthy living that is not worse in Red America, from teen sex, STD and pregnancy rates to obesity, dropouts, divorce and domestic violence, gambling and so on. Name... one... exception. Other than abortion which is a disagreement over fundamentals. See also: Strangers in their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, by Arlie Russell Hochschild.

The NYT report implies that vast sums of money flow from red to blue America, when in fact it is largely the other way around. Indeed, as my family watches Bryan Cranston’s riveting depiction of LBJ, in “All The Way,” I am reminded of images from the America I knew, back when Trumpists claim America was great, when the South and Appalachia were synonymous with grinding, hillbilly poverty. Images that should embarrass those now screaming that “government never does any good.”

No, the source of Red America’s trauma runs deeper. 

What hurts is the annual brain drain. The fact that every June, at the local high school - the center of all life in rural towns - the brightest kids weep and hug and swear to keep in touch… then scoot as fast as they can to the universities and bright cities that thereupon, at a deep, psychic level, become associated with blandishment and the stealing of hope. The stealing of your children. But we’ll get back to that

Another claim is that the problem is generational. If only America could return to the 1950s again. The romantic personality is always drawn to wistful homesickness for a past that never was. See How nostalgia for white Christian America drove so many Americans to vote for Trump by Sarah Pulliam Bailey in The Washington Post. 

These romantic yearnings for a fabled fifties are insidious and it is vital to answer them. You’ll make little progress by talking about the racism and sexism of that period, not when some of these folks yearn for an era when everyone knew his or her place.  What you can do is tear to shreds their every assertion, as I did in my posting: Was 1957 America Better Than Today? 

Even better, point out that the Greatest Generation of that era voted for high taxes on the rich, joined strong unions, and adored, above all living humans, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

== The power of metaphor: dad vs. mom ==

Earlier I mentioned the brilliant master of language, George Lakoff, who tried to tell the Clinton campaign they were combatting Trump in all the wrong ways. 

The Clinton campaign decided that the best way to defeat Trump was to use his own words against him. So they showed these clips of Trump saying outrageous things. Now what Trump was doing in those clips was saying out loud things that upset liberals, and that’s exactly what his followers liked about him. So of course they were showing what actually was helping Trump with his supporters.

“I tried to convince people in the Clinton campaign — early on, I wrote a piece called “Understanding Trump,” in March 2016, and it was sent to everybody in the Clinton campaign. Everybody at the PAC, for example, got a copy of it. It didn’t matter; they were doing what they were told to do.” says Lakoff.

Lakoff continues: “All progressives and liberals have a moral worldview, what I described as the nurturant-parent worldview. (But despite his many anti hispanic statements,) many Latinos voted for Trump. Why? Because “strict father” morality is big in Latino culture. The campaign was not looking at values. They were looking at demographics, and they missed the role of values.”  

Lakoff urged liberals to sell the notion that the “father” such voters need is the one composed of our common will, in fairly negotiated government, not a strongman caudillo, like Bush or Trump.  It is more abstract, but it could be sold, if Democrats would only try.  That would mean actually standing up for science and journalism and all the other knowledge professions. And yes, even the civil service.

Another psychological factor should be obvious, from the core character trait of the man these folks elected president. Pride is indeed key, and it takes a weird form, in Red America. Watch some of the riffs of the "Redneck Comedy Tour"… later re-named “Blue Collar Comedy Tour.” Seriously, rent some of the videos, in order to better understand. The humor is excellent! Endearingly self-effacing and self-mocking... only…

Only, after a while you realize, with a shiver, that all the self effacing jokes amount to a form of bragging. There's an implication, underlying every jest about good-ol' boy dumbness, that their fervidly passionate simplicity is more genuine, and "real," and vastly preferable over being a smartass college boy.

Indeed, I assert that this is what won Trump the election.  And I’ll explain next time.

== We coulda used a bit more Luther, or rather Lyndon ==

While we’re thinking about the most under-rated president of the 20th Century... for those of you needing solace: watch Bryan Cranston's spectacular portrayal of LBJ in "All The Way." If he doesn't get an Oscar, there's no justice.

For decades I have fumed that no one would tell the story of Lyndon Johnson and all he did for our nation, refuting pathetically vile depictions by the likes of Oliver Stone. LBJ's loyalty to JFK's dreams was carried out with dispatch, passion -- and yes the ruthless political cunning this film so accurately showed. If you are shuddering over today's transition, imagine the majority of parallel worlds without the combination of JFK's assassination and LBJ's relentless push, where the 1964 Civil Rights Bill and the '65 Voting Rights Act did not happen. The flames that would have consumed us, as our souls would likely have deserved.

Sure, there are red states where those rights are undermined by foul tricks, like gerrymandering. Indeed, we could certainly have done even better. But the playing field shifted, because of Johnson, to a better and more fair nation. And but for Vietnam, he would have crushed Nixon in '68 and we'd all have been the wiser for it.

Oh, is there an award for casting? Seriously, I never saw an array of actors who so looked like their historical counterparts! I recognized Humphrey, Dirksen, McNamara, Hoover and so on, at first sight, and the Martin Luther King role (played by Anthony Mackie) was perfection! Alas, this is all the movie that Hubert Humphrey will ever get. But most of us don't get movies. 

== Is that pertinent to today? ==

Maureen Dowd interviews Peter Thiel: "When I remark that President Obama had eight years without any ethical shadiness, Mr. Thiel flips it, nothing: “But there’s a point where no corruption can be a bad thing. It can mean that things are too boring.”  

Want irony? I kinda agree. I do wish Barack Obama had been slightly more like LBJ, with just a tad better instincts for the jugular and political knife fighting. His relentless attempts to negotiate with a cult whose central code — the Hastert Rule — was and remains to never, ever negotiate with Democrats, even for the good of the nation, seemed foolish and kinda pathetic after a while…

…though endearing, as the Democrats provided us with two 8-year presidencies that saw not a single administration high official convicted or even indicted for malfeasance of office. Dig that.  not one. Only the first and second times that happened in U.S. history.

That utter proof of honesty, combined with the utter fruitlessness of a 24 year, half-billion dollar endless search for something to pin on the Clintons, ought to affect any rational mind, especially in comparison to the endless lists of calumnies and crimes committed by both Bush regimes and (even before entering office) by the Trump Administration.

Oh, but the cult is immune to facts or irony. 

Here’s a test: any GOP lurkers out there, can you name one of the apocalyptic predictions about president Obama that came true? That even got broached or proposed by him? DHS internment camps? UN black helicopters? Swarms of henchmen confiscating guns? Forced abortions?

What none? Zero? And there's no embarrassment over there? None at all?

This is culture war. And the Confederacy is ahead. But Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory….

-->

96 comments:

raito said...

The converse of Redneck Comedy is some of the routines of Maria Bamford. For example, she does one where she (successful comedian, on TV, and such) runs into her teen-age nemesis at Target. She's reduced to the same indecisive person she was when young, being belittled by this person from her past. The punchline? Her nemesis says, "Push Debit or Credit". There's others, but in her case she's bragging about success, not the lack of it, but in an upside-down manner.

Re: No scandal is a bad thing.

This morning, I did get to hear the right side of the Fri. morning political political discussion actually complain about something in the Prez's manner of doing things. He doesn't like that we get to hear who may be brought up for hearings prior to appointments. He would like it if we were just given fait accompli. In other words, his problem with Trump's administration is that it's too transparent.

On the other hand (and our host will love this one), the other side may be using the good Doctor's challenge procedure. 'There's leftist fake news all over!" "Really? Give me an example." (none forthcoming from the guest, of course, except from one caller who mentioned the Gulf of Tonkin incident and WMDs).

Sojka's Call said...

this explanation is too long for most people to digest and also takes quite a bit of knowledge about integral theory to understand completely, but, it is the most encompassing I have read so far........... http://integral-life-home.s3.amazonaws.com/Trump%20and%20a%20Post-Truth%20World.pdf

Also, a discussion of sorts has gone on regarding this idea on my blog.. http://sojkascall.blogspot.com/2017/02/why-trump-is-president.html

Bottom line is that most people want an easy explanation and some(one) or group to blame which isn't going to explain how Trump is prez. The short summary is that the majority of progressives got mean, nasty, judgmental and hateful of the right. The right and some of the middle got sick of PC being shoved down their throats. And, Trump was there to capitalize, I believe unconsciously, to his own benefit. From a societal view, Trump is a course correction until the progressives can come up with a more inclusive strategy. The whole "deplorables" blunder was particularly emblematic of the societal rift and inevitable to manifest in the campaign.

David Brin said...

Sojka is a good example of how Foxoid narratives can contain a grain of truth, then tip over into crazy town.

It certainly is true that the far left has hurt America by pounding average folk with guilt trips. "Stop nagging me!" is the plaint that underlies everything in the confederacy. Why do fundie Christians support a man who is the diametric opposite to Jesus, in all ways and clearly will harm their interests? Because he hates the same "elites" they hate!Lakoff warned Hillary: "The more he galls smartypants types, the more they like him."

But to call that the fault of the "smartypants elites..." all the scientists, journalists, doctors, law professionals teachers... is crap. Unadulterated pure hogwash.

This culture war is pure evil -- those who would restore feudalism vs all of the clades in American life who w=know stuff, do stuff, use facts, invent and who made this country rich.

Yes, the "social rift" is there. It is called the American Civil War. And we are in phase 8.

http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2014/09/phases-of-american-civil-war.html

And while it has faults, the Union is the best hope of humankind. And the Confederacy has always been insane,

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Dr Brin

I still believe that the Donald's election WAS about "Working Class Pain" - today people are awaking to the realization that
(1) - I will never be as well off as my parents
(2) - Probably worse - My kids will never be as well off as I am

It has taken nearly 40 years for the Reagan/Thatcher revolution to -
(1) have that effect and (2) to have that effect percolate into the general consciousness - the "everybody knows" -
WARNING - it still has NOT penetrated 100% - There are still more people who are going to realize that they have been shafted over the next few years

This is like violent crime - it stopped rising and started dropping over 20 years ago - but the reality of the drop has still not penetrated the "everybody knows"

These people have been shafted and they are feeling the pain

Now who shafted them? - Reagan/Thatcher
BUT what happened after that? - Blair/Clinton went along with and "normalized" that shafting

The US (and UK) working class got shafted by "daddy" and "mum" said - that's OK it will all be better for you

Obama continued the same policies - at least he used some lube -

The US/UK working class can see that not only are they not going to be as well off as their parents but their own children are not going to be as well off as they are - this is horribly horribly disheartening -

That is why they lobbed the Trump Grenade

When we try to fix this we are going to run right into the delay in understanding the change - Small fixes - that may actually work - are simply not going to cut it - because they won't be seen to be big enough

We need something like the "New Deal" I suggest a UBI - or we may be going towards bloody revolution

Hans said...

I'll concede the point that Robert Leonard is correct about the reasons rural Americans voted for Trump. The voters are wrong though, on pretty much everything he brings up in the editorial. If they want their bright kids to stay home, *they* need to provide that motivation. No one else (least of all me) can fix that for them.

I don't know how to talk about anything but the weather with the irrational. And sometimes not even that.

Treebeard said...

"The Union is the best hope of humankind ", "6000 years of feudal darkness", "civilization was worthless until a cult of weird European philosophers redeemed it", "the superior folk leave red peasant communities every year, har har", etc.

Did you ever think that this kind of arrogance might be insane, and has a lot to do with why you have so much trouble convincing people that you are humanity's saviors? If our saviors are this arrogant and delusional, maybe they should just go to hell instead?

Duncan: EXACTLY. People could see that things weren't getting better, Hillary promised more of the same, so they took a gamble on someone promising to change course. This isn't rocket science; eventually maybe even your army of PhD's with the best credentials will figure out what my hillbilly uncle already knows.

David Brin said...

First let me congratulate Treebeard! Apparently several top Trumpists, including Steve Saruman Bannon, are full members of your cult! No waffling or partway excuses, he has cited retro feudalist philosophers and openly praised the return to the caves n' castles movement.

As for the rest of the ent's screed, it is, of course, diametrically opposite to any sense of reality. No other elites ever ALLOWED the sons and daughters of the peasantry to rise out of serfdom. We welcome them annually and they become us. And we celebrate those who do research, or teach, or explore, or invent, or start companies.

Hey dope, ever notice that the standards by which you judge our enlightenment as bad... that you implicitly accept our new standards? To put us down, you must assert that we behave just like the fascist-pervert-loony-cruel lords and priests of the past! Every attack of yours implicitly praises our values, in calling that shit wrong!

Oh, but then there's the simple fact that you lie. Or are utterly hallucinatory. We DON'T behave as you describe. No, that's a mirror you screech at.

But enjoy your moment. If the confederacy wins, darkness falls. But the Union will. And as LIncoln advised, we'll be gentle. We always are.

(Well, except Sherman. Ponder him.)

Zepp Jamieson said...

Let's not forget that quite a few voters are crazier than outhouse rats (to Bawdlerise a favoured phrase of Stephen King's). Example follows.
From my Weasel Listserv:

"You learn something every day on the Internets. Today I was informed by
some Florida wack-a-doodle that her minister preaches that Donald Trump
has been chosen by Gawd to continue the Good Christian work of a former
Christian president, Andrew Jackson. And, she was serious.

When I asked how a whisky drinking, fornicating, duel fighting, land
scamming, king of genocide was a good Christian role model she replied
that those factors were "moot" because he killed the 2nd Bank of the U.S.

When I pressed her on why that made him a good Christian she told me to
"read up on history and I would find out." I decided a discussion on the
disadvantages of a central bank on land speculation based on
inflationary monetary policy was probably going to be a bit of a stretch
on her part so I asked her how much money that minister had taken from
her. She then ordered me off of Twitter.

Praise be Lawd Jackson."

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Guys
on Quora somebody called Alex Wong said something interesting

Basically, left leaning policies are probably supported by 50–60% of the population but only 20–30% would vote for candidates that remotely support those policies.

If you said universal healthcare, most Americans would reject it. If you packaged some sort of bureaucratic reduction in health industry bill, which was actually just universal healthcare then you probably have a majority support it. It's similar to asking Americans if they want lifetime caps, preexisting conditions and other such mechanisms versus whether you want the ACA.

So there's a weird disconnect in the American public where left policies are disliked unless repackaged as right policies.

That you have to present things in a very right oriented way in order for Americans to feel “safe” about them.

LarryHart said...

Duncan Cairncross:

he US/UK working class can see that not only are they not going to be as well off as their parents but their own children are not going to be as well off as they are - this is horribly horribly disheartening -

That is why they lobbed the Trump Grenade

When we try to fix this we are going to run right into the delay in understanding the change - Small fixes - that may actually work - are simply not going to cut it - because they won't be seen to be big enough

We need something like the "New Deal" I suggest a UBI - or we may be going towards bloody revolution


Throwing the Trump Grenade (and a Republican congress along with it) insures that a "New Deal" solution will never happen. I hope the grenade throwers are satisfied with that, because someone might as well be.

LarryHart said...

Treebeard:

This isn't rocket science; eventually maybe even your army of PhD's with the best credentials will figure out what my hillbilly uncle already knows


Your hillbilly uncle is misguided. Things don't get better when the Republicans that he votes for obstruct everything. So to solve that problem, he "shakes things up" by electing more Republicans. When Trump's corporate buddies despoil your uncle's air and water, I suppose his dying words will be "That'll show 'em!"


LarryHart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

When I asked how a whisky drinking, fornicating, duel fighting, land
scamming, king of genocide was a good Christian role model


If only dueling was still a thing.

But seriously, Christinists don't think of Trump as an exemplar of their religion. They think of him as their soldier. As long as he wins battles on their behalf, it doesn't matter whether he himself is one of them.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Larry
I agree - but just keep on going and turn slowly to the left won't hack it anymore

The Trump grenade was intended to blow up both parties

Robert said...

I may be wrong.

The cynic in me is looking forward to the crash of the American economy as Trump and the Republicans completely fuck things up. I see it as the means by which people will wake up and realize Republicans are bad for the nation... and that maybe then Libertarians could replace Republicans (and while Libertarians have some fucking stupid ideas, some of their concepts are desperately needed in governance these days, especially the civil liberties).

But now I've realized something. If the economy crash and burns and Republicans suffer horribly but Democrats are also suffering? Then these Republican voters will say "good!" because THEY GOT REVENGE ON BLUE AMERICA. They don't care how badly the United States is fucked up. They will dance and laugh and love every moment of this nation burning because "them damn Democrats are finally getting what they've got coming."

It doesn't matter how much Republican billionaires profit off of their misery. So long as Democrats and Democratic allies suffer? They will glorify in it and love every moment of it. And then the moment another Democrat gets in power? They will lay all of their woe and all of their suffering on that Democrat's feet and blame them rather than the Republicans they put in power.

Fuck them.

It may be time to admit the North lost the Civil War. We need to round up all the Republicans, put them in their own country, with decent infrastructure and the like, build a fucking wall around them, and let them rot.

Fortunately, I still see Impeachment starting within the first 100 days. Already six of the people Trump put in the White House were kicked out for failing FBI questionnaires. And he plans on putting them elsewhere in government instead. The Trump Administration is such a pile of steaming rancid shit that it will be the worse Presidency ever seen. Ever.

I just hope that once evicted, Trump actually leaves office. Because if he is removed but refuses to budge and calls Congress illegitimate? Well... is it a coup if the military removes an impeached and evicted President who refuses to leave and who calls up on militias to defend him?

Because I honestly don't think the military will back Trump over Congress.

Rob H.

Robert said...

As for Universal Health Care... it's a bad idea. But there is merit in adopting one aspect of it and it is something health insurance companies would gleefully accept.

Universal coverage of physical examinations, blood tests, dental cleanings, and fillings.

If everyone is able to get a physical exam free of charge and can get their teeth cleaned free of charge and don't have to worry about copays or the like... these services will be used.

More importantly, by providing this service, it allows preventive medicine to take hold. Also, given the importance of the teeth for health... ensuring free dental cleanings from a very young age through retirement means people may very well HAVE teeth that last their lifetime. The more we learn, the more important dental health is becoming.

Insurance companies don't give a damn about physicals. If they could get away with not paying for them, they'd gleefully go for that. And young people would gladly accept just going for catastrophic insurance to save money.

Rob H.

David Brin said...

Impeachment still seems unlikely this year. But I allow for the following at odds:

1 - an attempted Reichstag Fire/Tonkin Bay incitement will go well for the plotters, especially if the Iranian mullahs are complicit, because a luke warm US-Iran War would suit them). -- 10%

2 - an attempted Reichstag Fire/Tonkin Bay incitement will go very badly for the plotters - e.g. Eric (Blackwater) Price, because the professionals in the IC and military do protect us from monster. - 20%

Note: the Navy should TODAY get some of those non-lethal sonic or microwave bowel -melters onto their ships in the Persian Gulf! To play havoc non lethally with the mullahs' speedboat dolts, playing chicken with our destroyers and when DT shouts "shoot on sight!"

Note that #2 is the only case where I see rapid impeachment.

2a Ryan tricks the dems into doing most of the work and we all lose big.
2b Dems tell Ryan to clean up his own mess

3 - McCain, Murkowski, Collins, Portman, Graham... gather the guts to declare: "The Republican Party has left me... and the planet... and they create a new party. Odds SHOULD be 30%. Chickenshit cowards make it 3%.

4 - Pence invokes the 25th Amendment and joins the cabinet declaring President incompetent. DT promptly sends a declaration "No I am Not." And the messages pour across Ryan's desk like badminton because tyhe 25th is stupidly written. And we find out if Alito, Roberts and Gorsuch are Americans. - 20%

4a - Pence stays loyal... because DT has pictures of him with a goat. Note DT's cabinet of horrors might do this.

Enough. I could offer other scenarios.... but enough

matthew said...

The army and air force will be loyal to Trump in the event of an impeachment. The Navy will be loyal to the Union. The Marines will tear themselves apart over who is America.

Tony Fisk said...

@deuxglass to return to the last thread, you could go with Alfred's suggestion of Caledonia as a name for the new sub-continent (maybe Nessie has a timeshare?)

To stoke your sense of adventure, Swift placed Lilliput not that far away: Kangaroo Island, in South Australia?

Interesting that such significant features are still found hiding in plain sight. I hear that yet *another* new organ has just been discovered (to be fair, this one's a bit distributed along the intestines.)

Midboss57 said...

Brin's analysis of the election is greatly flawed because one cannot make a post mortem of an electoral loss by focusing just on those who voted for the other side and why they did so, you need to also remember those you who did not vote.

And that is where you will find the working class pain. Those people had hope Obama, with his talk of change, would reverse the problems they consider important, mainly economic justice and fighting the power of corporations and banks. But, while Obama can be credited for progress on some fronts, in this front he was just SSDD. Sure, unemployment was reduced under his watch, but the vast majority of jobs created were Uber or Starbucks like jobs with poor pay, conditions and stability. He brought quantity but not quality. Patience has run out and people now wanted change, no more excuses. What the democrats offered was a candidate slightly worse than Obama in every way from a progressive point of view. Stuck in between the status quo they had learned to hate and disaster, a lot of them just gave up politics altogether since, as the tag line for Alien vs Predator goes: Whichever one wins, we lose. The only hope the democrat party have, along with all European non extreme right parties, is to finally acknowledge and address that pain and rally those that have given up on politics.

Another point that needs reminding is that while Obama's regime did not do anything blatantly illegal, they have done some actions that progressive voters (aka those the democrats are supposed to represent) find highly objectionable:
- The bank bailouts
- Whistle-blower hunting
- Reinforcement of the national security state
- Drone strikes
- Trade Agreements
Yes, the republicans would have done far worse in those regards, but "not as bad as" does not mean good, a lesson every politician needs to have forced into their head until they learn it.

LarryHart said...

Duncan Cairncross:

I agree - but just keep on going and turn slowly to the left won't hack it anymore

The Trump grenade was intended to blow up both parties


I agree, but it didn't work. Or it only worked in the sense that "turning the Republican Party over to its most radical, right-wing elements and giving them unfettered power" counts as "blowing up".

Rob H:

Because I honestly don't think the military will back Trump over Congress.


The problem is that Congress doesn't seem inclined to back the Constitution over Trump.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

Fortunately, I still see Impeachment starting within the first 100 days.


Which tea leaves are you looking at? Because impeachment requires Congress to do it, which begins with Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. And every statement I see out of those guys sounds like they're standing behind President Snow and concentrating on repealing the New Deal.


The Trump Administration is such a pile of steaming rancid shit that it will be the worse Presidency ever seen. Ever.


The viewers of FOX News aren't seeing it that way. In their universe, His Illegitimacy has already saved millions of jobs, sent the stock market to new heights, and would have saved us from terrorism if not for a "really bad" decision by so-called judges.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

2a Ryan tricks the dems into doing most of the work and we all lose big.
2b Dems tell Ryan to clean up his own mess



Will someone who expects the Democrats to take the blame please explain how the Republican majorities in both houses can appear as if they weren't complicit in impeachment? If Trump supporters are as powerful and as vengeful as the Republicans fear (and why else would it matter who gets "blamed" for impeachment?) then impeachment might be what really "blows up both parties", as Duncan put it. Because I don't see how those angry Trumpists remain loyal Republicans after the Speaker allows impeachment to proceed and significant numbers of Republicans in both houses vote for it. Even in the Senate, almost 1/5 of the "aye" votes would have to be Republican. Bannon and Miller aren't going to notice?


LarryHart said...

Midboss57:

And that is where you will find the working class pain. Those people had hope Obama, with his talk of change, would reverse the problems they consider important, mainly economic justice and fighting the power of corporations and banks.
...
Patience has run out and people now wanted change, no more excuses. What the democrats offered was a candidate slightly worse than Obama in every way from a progressive point of view. Stuck in between the status quo they had learned to hate and disaster, a lot of them just gave up politics altogether since, as the tag line for Alien vs Predator goes: Whichever one wins, we lose.


Too many of "these people" handed over Congress and the states to Republicans in 2010. And then they're disappointed that Obama didn't save them on his own? I understand that people aren't always rational, but I'm asking what else could have been done that would have kept them engaged enough to outvote the right-wing extremists? Because getting people disgusted with politics so that they drop out is the right-wing strategy, and apparently a winning one.

Note that if Republicans were like Democrats, they would have dropped out of politics in 1964 instead of slowly taking over the country. Voters who "now wanted change, no more excuses" should take a very hard lesson.


Another point that needs reminding is that while Obama's regime did not do anything blatantly illegal, they have done some actions that progressive voters (aka those the democrats are supposed to represent) find highly objectionable:
- The bank bailouts


The rest of your itemized list makes sense, but the bank bailouts were on Bush's watch. The House of Representatives (in 2008) initially opposed the bailouts, but then their arms were twisted and they changed their minds.

Yes, the republicans would have done far worse in those regards, but "not as bad as" does not mean good, a lesson every politician needs to have forced into their head until they learn it.


On this we agree, but I also see a failing of democracy to work here. Voters, in turn, have to stop thinking of elections as a sporting event in which the best candidate is rewarded with a triumph, and start putting into office the candidates who will best serve their (voters') interests.




LarryHart said...

Toward the end of "Conspirata", this book is getting harder and harder to read in light of today's headlines:


It sounded legitimate when put that way--governing through the people: What could be fairer?--but really "the people" were the mob, controlled by Vatinus, and any who opposed what Caesar wanted were quickly silenced. Rome had become a dictatorship in all but name, and most respectable Senators were appalled, but with Pompey and Crassus supporting Caesar, few dared speak out against him.

Robert said...

Republicans care about one thing. Staying in power.

Trump is losing public opinion polls and is at this point among the least popular president in the first 100 days of office. And quite a few Republican politicians are keeping an eye on those polls. I mean, seriously, even the Shrug was more popular and there were quite a few people upset that he "stole" the Presidency from Gore.

The kicker will be when Republican voters start abandoning him. Because even if the Republican Party stays in power because of those voters... they could see quite a few Primary challenges. It doesn't matter if Republicans hold the House and Senate if all of the Republicans in charge are brand new and not vetted by the PTB.

And what will be the instrument of Trump's demise? A stock market crash. The Trump Bubble has already leveled off. Retail sales are already lower than they had been as people start squirreling away money because of uncertainty. Soon, businesses will start laying off. And then you'll see a correction in the stock market... and when Trump fails to effectively cope with it or blames it on the Democrats and the media to make him look bad?

That's when the rails will start coming loose. Republican billionaires will sell off their stocks first to maximize profits, watch as smaller investors get hosed, and invest in "safe" things such as gold. As stock prices drop people will be let go left and right and I'm not sure Republicans could manage to unite with Democrats to do a bailout... and even if they did, Trump might very well veto it.

Which reminds me. I need to sell off my stocks.

Rob H.

Tim H. said...

I'm sure some blame could be spared for the MSM's largely botched attempts at fairness, which gave the impression that imperfect email security was somehow equivalent to Trump's impressive skeleton collection. Might be more constructive to think about ways to blunt resurgent fascism.

LarryHart said...

more from the last sections of Robert Harris's "Conspirata" :


I thought to myself, Does he realize what he is doing? and I risked a glance at Cicero. He barely seemed conscious of where he was--oblivious to the court, to his audience, to me, to political calculation: he was intent only on getting out his words.

"These men made Catilina what he was. He would have been nothing without them. They gave him their votes, their money, their assistance, and their protection. They spoke up for him in the Senate and in the law courts and in the popular assemblies. They shielded him and they nurtured him and they even supplied him with the weapons he needed to slaughter the government," (Here my notes record more loud exclamations from the audience.) "Until this moment, gentlemen, I did not realize the extent to which there were two conspiracies I had to fight. There was the conspiracy which I destroyed, and then there was the conspiracy behind that conspiracy--and that inner one prospers still. Look around you, Romans, and you can see how it prospers! Rule by secret conclave and by terror in the streets. Rule by illegal methods and by bribery on a massive scale--dear gods, you accuse Hybrida of corruption? He is as guileless and as helpless as a baby by comparison with Caesar and his friends!


Jumper said...

What exactly are the "organic compounds" seen on Ceres?
"It was the signature of a class of organic molecules that have methyl and methylene groups. These are basically chemical chunks of carbon and hydrogen atoms grouped together, such as CH3 and CH2. Dawn couldn't tell exactly which molecules were down on Ceres, but they're likely to be tar-like minerals such as kerite or asphaltite."
from Popular Mechanics
http://www.popularmechanics.com/space/solar-system/news/a25235/ceres-organics/

kerite?
https://www.mindat.org/min-39631.html

David Brin said...

The elephant in the room. No one points out that the Great Negotiator has not once offered to negotiate with his foes (now a majority of the nation and nearly all the fact-using professions). Seriously, will no one proclaim this? "You haven't called a meeting with anyone except sycophants!"

Matthew, yes the Navy is the most loyal. But I think you misjudge the Army. The Air Force is infiltrated by fundie horrors and we do not know to what degree. I fret about the Reserves and Guard. They were destroyed by Bushes and rebuilt by dems. But the nature of those who want to be weekend warriors tends to be proudly ignorant of that fact. Of course the Army is central. I cannot predict. Only say the top officer corps *contains* a lot of grownups.

Get the novel TEARS OF ABRAHAM.

MIDBOSS57: One question. Did YOU stay home? If so, then you aren’t just raising some reasonable leftist points. You are admitting that you let those relatively minor points drive you to outright betraying us all.

If you did strive for the Union - while grumbling over these things - then fine. Good points… from a leftist perspective. Though blaming Obama for the obstructive Congress and its stunning blockage of the Infrastructure Bill seems off.

LarryHart Ryan would tell the dems “You provide 200 votes to impeach. We’ll provide 25 defectors.”

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

LarryHart Ryan would tell the dems “You provide 200 votes to impeach. We’ll provide 25 defectors.”


I get the scenario. I'm questioning whether it would be possible to present that to Trump supporters that the majority in both houses of congress weren't willingly complicit in impeachment--that they resisted it but were overwhelmed by the minority party. I'm saying the Trumpists will feel betrayed by Republicans no matter what the split in the vote is.

You present the R's best case in the House, that all (what is it, 198?) Democrats vote for impeachment and "only" 30 or so "mavericks" from the most tightly-disciplined congressional caucus in history voted with the Dems and couldn't be constrained by their own party leadership. The Senate will look even worse from the Trumpists' perspective. At least 19 of the Republican Senators (that's over a third of them) would have to vote for conviction even if every one of the Democrats and Dem-independents did. Such complicity would not escape notice of the alt-right Hitler Youth, not with Bannon and Miller sitting right there.

LarryHart said...

Ok, I can't keep reading this into the record without transcribing the entire book. So just one more chillingly appropriate quote from Cicero by way of the novel "Conspirata".

Here, he's talking about Caesar:


"Caesar is of a different category of man altogether. Pompey merely wants to rule the world. Caesar longs to smash it to pieces and remake it in his own image. And there's something else." He paused, searching for the words.

"What? He's cleverer than Pompey, I'll give him that."

"Oh, yes, yes of course, he's a hundred times cleverer. No, it's not that--it's more--I don't know--there's a kind of divine recklessness about him--a contempt, if you like, for the world itself--as if he thinks its all a joke. Anyway, this--whatever it is: this quality--it makes him hard to stop."

Sojka's Call said...

Dr Brin - you didn't delve far enough into the link to Ken Wilber's analysis which completely agrees with your statement " their rage was cultural and psychological, not economic.". He breaks down the different groups in the US by psychological development and whether they are egocentric, ethnocentric or world-centric and what are the main drivers for each group.

Further he looked into the mistakes made by the leading edge progressives and how that turned into rage for those operating at ego and ethnocentric mindsets. I am not advocating for any one group and trying to justify anything. This is trying to take a scientific look at our current culture and determine how Trump happened. And, most of all it tries to come up with how progressives/world-centrics and those on the leading edge can help see themselves in an inclusive way with their fellow eg/ethnocentric citizens instead of taking the far-right bait to name-call, judge, denigrate, etc all the contradictions progressives see in their far-right brothers and sisters.



matthew said...

Doc, I'm worried about the Army because, of the ~10 active Army folks I know, 3 are full-on Oathkeeper-types (one, in the Reserves, is super-duper stoked to be Trump's deportation force. Also one of my sources for the earlier comments regarding ANTIFA and terrorist status), and another 4 are fire-breathing end times fundamentalists. I know one tanker who is a moderate. The odds just do not look good to me. Even the Hispanics I know that are serving in the Army are very, very conservative. I think some of the officer corps would be loyal to the Union, but not the enlisted men.

Donzel, still wading through your link on democracies and warfare. I agree more with your summation of their arguments than with the original source material you gave, though. Like you, I agree that the defining of "democracy" has a great effect on the statistics. Thanks again for the new-to-me ideas.

Troutwaxer said...

Just a couple comments. First, I don't think anyone cared about the bank bailouts. It was the lack of prosecuted bankers that mattered. (Plus the massive corruption revealed by the lack of prosecuted bankers.)

Just for the sake of contrast, remember the Savings and Loan Crisis, when that horrible toady of business, the corrupt and feebleminded Ronald Reagan and his puppet-master, the first George Bush, were confronted with a massive criminal banking enterprise... and they together convicted 1100 bankers?

But the Republican son of that same George Bush, plus his Democratic successor Obama, between them prosecuted zero bankers. If you think in terms of how corrupt we've become, the difference thirty years makes is astonishing!

Second, anyone who's interested in why Obama lost might also look up Cambridge Analytica. Here's a hint; some guy named Bannon sits on their board!

Troutwaxer said...

Sorry, I meant anyone who's interested in why Clinton lost, look up Cambridge Analytica, etc.

matthew said...

Cell phone mesh networks over a Weather app. Not available in the US, but in Asia, Africa and South America.

http://www.theverge.com/2017/2/17/14647028/ibm-weather-company-emergency-alerts-mesh-networks

Now that the app exists, let's all find out 1) why is isn't here? 2) how much noise we can all make demanding it here.

Aussies, anyone want to try this out and report back? Not sure how you'd do a trial, but I want a review!

DANIELBLOOM said...

David, post-election, there is still, as always, an important role for climate-themed novels and movies like "Earth" and "The Postman" to play in American and world culture. In case you missed it, a new ongoing feature about climate change novels worldwide has been launched by NYC lit critic Amy Brady -- PhD from UMass -- at the Chicago Review of Books, an online literary magazine.




''Burning Worlds'' is the name of her new monthly column (named after JG Ballard's novel from the 1960s) examining trends in climate change fiction in SF and CF.
In her first piece, she spoke with me about some reading suggestions.

Next month, in March, Amy will publish a much-anticipated interview with Kim Stanley Robinson about his forthcoming climate-themed novel, ''New York 2140,'' set in a partially-submerged Manhattan in 2140.

https://chireviewofbooks.com/2017/02/15/whats-new-at-the-chirb/


“Burning Worlds” is dedicated to examining important trends in climate change fiction. Her column made its debut this month in February 2017 and will continue for at least a year. More at:

https://chireviewofbooks.com/2017/02/08/the-man-who-coined-cli-fi-has-some-reading-suggestions-for-you/

Arizsun Ahola said...

Dr Brin,

The elephant in the room. No one points out that the Great Negotiator has not once offered to negotiate with his foes

Problem is that the "Great Negotiator" isn't. He thinks that a negotiation is a zero sum game where somebody wins and somebody loses. He doesn't understand that there can be two winners, or two losers.

David Brin said...

Arizsun yes. But these hypocrisies should be used. A mountain of facts won't work on confederates as well as an accusation theyu fear most... of cowardice.

Anonymous said...

What planet is this idiot on?

Anonymous said...

David Brin said
MIDBOSS57: One question. Did YOU stay home? If so, then you aren’t just raising some reasonable leftist points. You are admitting that you let those relatively minor points drive you to outright betraying us all.

If you did strive for the Union - while grumbling over these things - then fine. Good points… from a leftist perspective. Though blaming Obama for the obstructive Congress and its stunning blockage of the Infrastructure Bill seems off.


I'm franco-british, so there's not much I could do here, sorry. All I can do from the other end of the pond is watch and perform the grand tradition of my country that is of making fun of things. For the record, I voted against Brexit despite the Remain campaign being appallingly bad. The reason my opinion of the Democrat campaign is so vitriolic is because all the mistakes the Democrats made, the Remain side made here first. Brexit should have been a warning shot but no one listened.

At least, the french presidentials are looking more promising. The old guard is out of action and we actually have some selection on the menu. What is this strange sensation... I think it might be hope.

Marino said...

The Left candidates won't survive the first turn, and if you get an analogue of Bernie or bust people, they'll pave the way to Ms. Le Pen (God forbid!)

LarryHart said...

Mario:

and if you get an analogue of Bernie or bust people, they'll pave the way to Ms. Le Pen (God forbid!)


I was gonna say...here in the US, every indication (to the extent that we get any indications at all about foreign politics) seems to be that Le Pen will win. I've got my appropriate "Hamilton" line all queued up:

France is following us to revolution,
There is no more status quo.
But the sun comes up, and the world still spins.


Is there good reason not to expect this?


Marino said...

At the runoff usually voters from both Left and moderate Right would vote against the far Right candidate

LarryHart said...

@Marino,

Thanks, but this past year has made me awfully cynical about "usually". Unprecedented is becoming the new normal.

Deuxglass said...

Tony Fisk,

Sorry to get back to you late but I have been skipping the political stuff here lately. Outrage has depleted the dopamine in my brain so much that it no longer fun to rant at those who don’t mirror exactly the sacred universal views that I hold.

Caledonia is another name for Scotland and it is already taken. Using it would create confusion with European geological features as well as pissing off the Scots with is something I really advise against. We could call it New Caledonia but then France would claim it as territorial waters so that is out. A long hidden continent should have its own mysterious and poetic name because after all it fooled us till now so there must be something special about it. I proposed Lemuria or Mu because I like the names and what they represent to the mystical spirit. Science is great but a little magic adds spice to life. The discovery of a hidden continent brings up some interesting possibilities. What else hasn’t been discovered yet? Maybe Pellucidar will be next.

Back to politics. I think a good way of testing the abilities of AI would be to have one write a political argument that would change people’s beliefs. It could be on a specific proposition all the way as to why one should not support Trump. It would be a test of AI’s overall ability and is much harder than winning at one game or the other. If it could convince then that would be a milestone.

Anonymous said...

So swiftly the return to the very same main meal after an empty palete cleanser! Gerrymandering with a side of ever-meddling plutocrats (plus feudalism plus cult: bingo!!) and some Brin-patented tunnel vision re Hilary. She lost. Her flaws were extremely well known. Pity the Democrats were blind to them...but isn't the energy-independent America (snort! giggle!) supposed to be rocketing off to the stars? Now there's some crazy town.

David Brin said...

Gigglepus is fact free as always

Deuxglass said...

Who is Gigglepus????

dennisd said...

@Deuxglass
Gigglepus = Cowardly complaining cynic
Gigglepus = Anonymous troll

Deuxglass said...

Interesting. I have never heard that term before but I am very little active in forums in general so I guess I missed it. Is it used in spoken conversations or only in forums? Thanks.

Jumper said...

I wish we had a President as good as Obama. And I'm a big supporter. But some of his economic numbers are from crash bounce. Almost any President would have seen rapid recovery. He gets credit for not wallowing the country in further depression. Austerity Republicans worsened it, and it's still happening now. But the markets show very strong progress since '12.

.................................
Anonymous giggler is just spraying spittle, now. Rabies?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnzHtm1jhL4

Troutwaxer said...

@ Anonymous

For the record, I voted against Brexit despite the Remain campaign being appallingly bad.

Anyone who's interested in why Brexit won should also look up Cambridge Analytica, which has a guy named "Bannon" as a board member.

Anyone who wants to know why ________ or ____________ will lose in 2018, or why ____________ will lose in 2020 might also look up Cambridge Analytica. And so on.

Deuxglass said...

Dr. George Church of Harvard is making a pseudo-mammoth and wants to populate tundra areas with them. I like the idea and wonder where would be the best place to put Mammoth Park. He claims that it would lower the temperature of the tundra by 20 degrees.

http://www.nbcnews.com/mach/science/scientist-aims-resurrect-woolly-mammoth-surprising-reason-n718616

LarryHart said...

Jumper:

I wish we had a President as good as Obama. And I'm a big supporter. But some of his economic numbers are from crash bounce. Almost any President would have seen rapid recovery.


Sure, but from 6,000 to 20,000? From 100s of thousands of jobs lost per month to the same amount gained? Unemployment down from...was it 12% or 10%?...to below 5% (and whatever one thinks of "real unemployment", the apples-to-apples numbers did move in one consistent direction)? Yes, any president would have looked better than Bush in 2008, but the economic recovery over the past 8 years is truly remarkable, more so because congress did everything they could to impede it, from not spending on infrastructure to focusing on deficit reduction at exactly the wrong time (when a Great Recession required spending and borrowing was essentially free).

I get that the recovery didn't lift all boats, and I reluctantly understand small-town and rural working people thinking Obama hadn't served them well. But I honestly don't understand why Wall Street hated President Obama so vocally, as they prospered in his years as never before.

LarryHart said...

@Troutwaxer,

If you are correct about Cambridge Analytica, then it certainly doesn't matter whether the Democrats ran Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden. The ads targeted at keeping Democrats home from the polls would simply have been different ads (Biden calling candidate Obama "articulate" instead of Hillary discussing "super-predators", or Bernie calling himself a socialist juxtaposed with images of Stalin and Pol Pot and mass graves).

As someone who can't imagine voting for a Republican because of a web ad, I'm distressed at the multitudes of people who apparently can be swayed to do so. During the Bush years, when American democracy appeared to be threatened, at least the rest of the civilized world seemed poised to carry on the experiment. Now, we appear to be on the brink of the worldwide collapse of the Enlightenment. I grieve for my lost optimism of 1998 or so when a secure life and comfortable retirement seemed possible. Since then, my hope for the future has degraded down through "I hope my death isn't too unbearably long and painful," and is currently circling the drain around "I only hope the perpetrators of our demise die as horribly as the rest of us."

dennisd said...

@Deuglass
My gigglepus definition was a joke that fell flat. Was referencing the snark in Anonymous's comment.

David Brin said...

It was meant to be "Gigglepuss." But when I saw "gigglepus" I decided is was more apropos....

Obama's tepid but steady growth would have been better had Congress passed a stimulating Infrastructure bill, paid for by lessened Supply Side voodoo tax cuts on the rich. Replacing low-veliocity SSV never-ever worked "stimulus" with Keynsian high velocity and hi multiplier stimulation.

Ryan & co. KNEW it would work and hence they treasonously allowed our bridges and roads etc to decay, rather than let Obama take credit for a big /rapid rise. Hence they are diametricaly the enemies of the dumb white-male confeds who voted for them.

Tim H. said...

Something interesting for crafters of alternate American history, Andrew Jackson is said to have regretted not having John C. Calhoun hung for treason:
http://www.bradford-delong.com/2017/02/sidney-blumenthal-john-c-calhoun-on-his-deathbed-andrew-jackson-reflecting-on-the-dramatic-episodes-of-his-presi.html

There's at least a possibility that much trouble might've been avoided, and conservatism somewhat healthier.

TCB said...

The Curious World of Donald Trump's Private Russian Connections. Great article! Parts read like Dr. Brin wrote it.

"Russia’s 1992 “voucher privatization” program permitted a tiny elite of former state-owned company managers and party apparatchiks to acquire control over a vast number of public enterprises, often with the help of outright mobsters. A majority of Gazprom, the state energy company that controlled a third of the world’s gas reserves, was sold for $230 million; Russia’s entire national electric grid was privatized for $630 million; ZIL, Russia’s largest auto company, went for about $4 million; ports, ships, oil, iron and steel, aluminum, much of the high-tech arms and airlines industries, the world’s largest diamond mines, and most of Russia’s banking system also went for a song.

In 1994–96, under the infamous “loans-for-shares” program, Russia privatized 150 state-owned companies for just $12 billion, most of which was loaned to a handful of well-connected buyers by the state—and indirectly by the World Bank and the IMF."

...

"neither Trump nor Putin is an “uncaused cause.” They are not evil twins, exactly, but they are both byproducts of the same neoliberal policy scams that were peddled to Russia’s struggling new democracy."

...

"Donald Trump has also literally spent decades cultivating senior relationships of all kinds with Russia and the FSU. And public and private senior Russian figures of all kinds have likewise spent decades cultivating him, not only as a business partner, but as a “useful idiot.”"

Very long and detailed article that names some names we really haven't heard much about yet.

Paul451 said...

LarryHart said...
"I get the scenario. I'm questioning whether it would be possible to present that to Trump supporters that the majority in both houses of congress weren't willingly complicit in impeachment--that they resisted it but were overwhelmed by the minority party. I'm saying the Trumpists will feel betrayed by Republicans no matter what the split in the vote is."

If the Murdoch/Koch faction of the Republican Party supports the impeachment, then it means the Fox News and majority of tabloid newspapers will carry the line that Democrats (and Bannon and Miller) undermined Trump. If the Mercer faction also decide that Trump has become a liability, then the alt-right/Breitbart news will also carry the Party line.

Remember, we're talking about a group that believed Obama constantly abused his Presidential authority, when he exercised it less than any recent President. That was unaware of how destructive Congress was under the Republicans. That believes the crime rate is the highest in 47 years. Numbers don't matter.

In fact, to David, no I don't think Ryan will offer some obvious tricky deal to Dems, offering a token minimum number of Republicans against a Democrat full court.

On the contrary, if Republicans think an impeachment is necessary, Ryan will offer a near unanimous number of Republicans against a similar rank of Democrats, in the name of "bipartisanship" and "national unity". And that's the trick that Democrats will fall for. Because they think the numbers -- the truth -- are what matters, and stupidly they think it will matter to Republican voters. It won't. The Republican news machine will still turn it into the Democrats' fault, and it won't matter how many times the Dems say "but the Republicans voted for it as well". Even if you can hold down an individual Trump supporter long enough to get them to admit that the Republicans also voted for impeachment, that will just be handwaved as "Both sides are as bad", and having wriggled away, they'll go back to voting for Republicans.

Smart Dems would say "A pox on both their houses", sit in on the hearings but abstain on the final vote. But they aren't smart and they'll take Ryan's offer as a sign that sanity has returned, instead of an example of how sanity cannot exist.

And the whole time they'll think they've been so awfully clever getting Ryan to agree to have a matching Republican vote for impeachment.

LarryHart said...

@Paul451,

Ok, that's the best explanation I've seen yet of how Republicans could avoid the blame for impeachment. But if we're really that far gone--if Republican voters will continue to support Republicans no matter how often Republicans betray them, then we might as well retire to raise fish and prepare for death, because he republic has nothing for us anyway.

Your post suggests an alternate doomsday strategy, though. The Senate cannot reach the 67% threshold for conviction without Democrats. Rather than abstain, Democrats could threaten to vote en masse against impeachment, forcing the Republicans to keep owning Trump unless they offer significant concessions.

Mind you, that only works once congressional Republicans decide they need to be rid of this troublesome president. So far, I see no indication that that is happening.

LarryHart said...

BTW, to my fellow Americans, Happy Not-My-President's Day, or So-Called-President's Day, or Unpresdient's Day.

Robert said...

Other Robert -
I suspect a very early impeachment is still quite possible, though, interestingly, it may actually be easier to get 2/3 of the Senate on board than 1/2 of the House. A lot of Republican Senators are interested in foreign policy, and also fierce Russophobes (like Yours Truly). Trump was impeachable on Emoluments Clause at 12:01 PM, January 20, but it looks like that isn't taking. There's a good shot at Espionage (Treason's out because we're not - and shouldn't be - in a declared war with Russia). I was also delighted to see some of the demonstrators in front of Mar El Lago, instead of the usual Lefty stuff, carrying signs saying "KGB Spy Trump!" Love it!

David -
I think the Air Force will go along because Pence is a Messenger From God. The other services actually read the Constitution.

Larry Hart -
Thanks for Conspirata. Now on my library list. One very important difference between Caesar and Trump is Caesar's blinding intelligence. I also don't think Caesar destroyed the Republic - that would have been the goons who killed the Gracchi, or, at the very latest, Marius and Sulla. On a more basic level, republics can't handle empire. Only an Empire can run an empire. That's why it's vital to keep Pax Americana from turning into a real empire. Getting back to Caesar, he started to bury, not kill, the Republic, was interrupted, and had to let his grandnephew Octavian finish the job. So I don't think Trump is Caesar; I also think that Caesar could just as easily come in on the Union side.

Finally, "On The Media" on NPR raised an interesting idea. If a bad president (i.e. Trump - make that "terrible") is overthrown by the American Deep State, it means they can overthrow a good president. Is there a Deep State here? Are they in the process of overthrowing Trump because he attacked them directly?


Bob Pfeiffer.

Robert said...

Larry Hart,
As far as I'm concerned, it's George Washington' Birthday, period. And it's really on Wednesday.

Robert said...

100 Days

Former Republican Appeals Court Judge Mark Painter has added his voice to the pro-impeachment crowd and has "offered to help Congressional Republicans write Trump's articles of impeachment."

This whole "bipartisanship" aspect has me cold. Because Democrats are idiotic enough to fall for it. They would work together with Republicans to evict Trump and then immediately in the name of bipartisanship accept all of the Republican positions of power and stop blocking stuff. And likely approve the replacement to Scalia without any real outcry except from the more vocal members of the Senate. And then start dismantling Obamacare and everything else in the name of bipartisanship and "getting along" with Republicans.

And they'd cut their throats in doing so.

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

Robert (Bob Pfeiffer) :

Larry Hart -
Thanks for Conspirata. Now on my library list.


If you're going to read that book, you might as well read the whole trilogy. The three books are "Imperium", "Conspirata", and "Dictator". The last one just came out a year or so ago.

As to Washington's Birthday, maybe it's just me in Illinois, but "President's Day" was originally just a way of combining Lincoln's and Washington's birthdays into one holiday instead of two. I never heard it referring to all presidents until the school play in The Simpsons ("And don't forget to purchase some orange drink for the long ride home.")

LarryHart said...

Robert (again):


One very important difference between Caesar and Trump is Caesar's blinding intelligence. I also don't think Caesar destroyed the Republic


I didn't think of Trump as an analogue to Caesar. If anyone in the novel reminded me of Trump, it was Clodius. But really, it wasn't so much that any one character reminded me of Trump as that the way that mob rule and bribery supplanted democracy seemed torn from today's headlines.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

This whole "bipartisanship" aspect has me cold. Because Democrats are idiotic enough to fall for it. They would work together with Republicans to evict Trump and then immediately in the name of bipartisanship accept all of the Republican positions of power and stop blocking stuff. And likely approve the replacement to Scalia without any real outcry except from the more vocal members of the Senate. And then start dismantling Obamacare and everything else in the name of bipartisanship and "getting along" with Republicans.


I know you were correct in predicting a Trump victory. I give you enough street cred for that that I find it hard to bet against you. But I don't see why Democrats would do any of the things you predict above other than help impeach Trump. Approving a new Scalia would defeat the entire purpose of having tried to win last November.

The only thing I can imagine Democrats playing nice on is going easier on approving Pence's cabinet. Which makes sense, because although he might fill it with social conservatives, he won't fill it with Nazis and agents of hostile foreign powers.

fizz said...

In the spirit of remembering people of the good news still happening everywhere:
http://www.cracked.com/photoplasty_2386_29-pieces-good-news-that-got-choked-out-by-trump-stories/

Robert said...

Larry,

My Dad's from Illinois, and was in the Navy when I was a kid, so Illinois is as close to a home state as I have. So I agree about Lincoln. As for the rest... Though if we have to have dynasts in the White House, I'd go for an Adams - they're still around. I would have loved to have the Supreme Court pick one in 2000.

Thanks for pointing out the trilogy. Speaking of trilogies I read The Two Towers first, believe it or not.


Bob Pfeiffer.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

My Dad's from Illinois, and was in the Navy when I was a kid,


Great Lakes naval base? If so, then my dad was there too, albeit a loooooooong time ago.

Tony Fisk said...

@Larry. I think the Merriam Webster twitter feed saved the day in a succinct manner when it pointed out where the apostrophe in "Presidents' Day" is meant to go.

Smurphs said...

Bob Pfeiffer:

I read The Two Towers first also. A camp counselor read The Hobbit to us kids at bed time, I was 8 at the time. Loved it so much I bought the first Tolkien I found in the Scholastic Book Flyer. My very first book purchase. It wasn't until a year or two later that I was able to read the first book, since Tolkien was certainly not carried in our school library in the mid-60's.

So, basically, I was very confused for a year. Some would say I still am. ;)

Robert said...

Larry,

My Dad was in Great Lakes on VJ Day. Then, in '46, he found out it was easier to get into Annapolis than the Electronics school. The rest is history - such as going to a German elementary school. (me, not Dad).


Bob Pfeiffer.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

My Dad was in Great Lakes on VJ Day


Oh, I would have guessed you were talking more recently. My dad was there in the mid-to-late 1950s.

Alfred Differ said...

I have a niece at Great Lakes right now. L-tech. Now my brother gets to wear a Navy Dad shirt. 8)

LarryHart said...

Is it true that those politically-correct liberals at CPAC refused to allow Milo Yiannopoulos his sacred first amendment rights to speak?

TCB said...

I gather it's because Milo was defending pedophiles. That was a bridge too far for CPAC.

Funny thing, though... my disapproval of pedos is mild compared to my incandescent disgust at the people who call themselves conservatives. See, I don't worry that the pedophiles are going to blow up the whole fucking world. Those conservatives, though... they will take the food right out of children's mouths and napalm them for money. That's right, they're objectively worse than pedophiles. Really.

David Brin said...

Hey guys... Ilithi Dragon was posted near there, too.

LarryHart said...

@TCB,

I also find it amusing that that is where conservatives draw the line. Probably because it hits too close to home.

But more to the point, I express schadenfreude at a conservative group finding themselves required to practice politically-correct censorship. Sure, they can argue that there's a good reason in this one unique case, but the fact is that when they slam liberals for PC censorship, they don't care at all about the particular mitigating circumstances. The fact that they have their own reasons should clue them in that sometimes other people have their own reasons too, but it never does.

Just as Rush Limbaugh being outed as a drug abuser doesn't soften his stance on other drug abusers.

They have no shame and no empathy. One probably causes the other.

Jumper said...

So basically Trump is a longtime money launderer for the Russian mob.

Paul451 said...

LarryHart,
"But I don't see why Democrats would do any of the things you predict above..."

...

"The only thing I can imagine Democrats playing nice on is going easier on approving Pence's cabinet. Which makes sense, because although he might fill it with social conservatives, he won't fill it with Nazis and agents of hostile foreign powers."

Bam.

----

"if Republican voters will continue to support Republicans no matter how often Republicans betray them, then we might as well retire to raise fish and prepare for death, because he republic has nothing for us anyway."

This is an example of the difference between cynicism and fatalism. When people complain about voters being "cynical", they really mean "fatalistic". People should be more cynical about politics.

In this case, the issue isn't rusted-on Republican voters, it's swing voters. That's why I get so pissed off with Dem-apologists going on and on about racism or "rural culture". It doesn't matter why the people in Lynchnigger, Alabama voted for Trump. What matters is why the people who previously voted for the clever black liberal from Chicago (twice), then turned around and voted for Trump. Unless you understand them, you understand nothing useful.

(The people who took over the Republican Party are enormously cynical, not fatalistic.)

Paul451 said...

LarryHart,
"Your post suggests an alternate doomsday strategy, though. The Senate cannot reach the 67% threshold for conviction without Democrats. Rather than abstain, Democrats could threaten to vote en masse against impeachment"

Absolutely not. From that moment they would own everything that Trump does, and everything he's done. And again, their reasoning for the tactic is irrelevant: "Democrats vote to defend Trump".

Note that this is not just amongst Trump supporters, but amongst the Democrat base, especially the angry left. Abstaining is better. It is "clever" enough to not offend the angry lefty base, you have to think about it too much to become irrationally emotional (and hence immune to counter-explanations).

Abstaining leads to "But I don't understand this, why didn't they just vote against Trump?" which is open to the more informed members of their community explaining it, which leads to "Wait... are my guys competent? Cool."

OTOH, voting to protect Trump leads to "OMFG! THEY HAVE BETRAYED US - AGAIN!!!11!" which is completely immune to correction, even when it comes from within their own tribe.

There's no upside is supporting impeachment. (There'll inevitably be enough Dems who will vote to impeach, even if the official Party-line is to abstain.)

Democrats should take part in the hearings, however, and make sure they are present in necessary numbers at all stages. Make sure it gets to vote, but abstain during the final vote.

But their constant line to witnesses and to the Republicans should be, "How is this something we didn't know before the election?" He's a tool of Russia? Knew that back when you supported him. He's a tool of white supremacists? Knew that back when you supported him. He's corrupt? Knew that back when you supported him. A thief, a sexual abuser? Knew that back when you supported him. Doesn't obey (or respect or understand) the constitution? Knew that back when you supported him. Dangerous for the country? Knew that back when you supported him.

Also, "bipartisan" removal of Trump pretty much requires them to support Pence, which will result in much of Trump's actions being enshrined into established practice. Keeping Trump until the election makes it easier to get rid of everything that Trump did.

Cynically speaking.

Paul451 said...

We were supposed to move on, but it's not that sort of thread.

LarryHart said...

@Paul451,

I don't see an "onward". Anyway, if you want to keep discussing politics here, let's do it.

Point taken about Democrats not owning the onus of keeping Trump around.

What happens if Democrats abstain in the Senate? Does there still have to be 67 votes to convict, or is two-thirds of the actual votes enough?

I like your strategy of hammering home to Republicans who turn on Trump, "What about this information didn't we know back then?" One problem I see is that many of the characteristics you list are actually things they like about him. He's a white supremacist (or at least governs as one)? That's not a problem (for them). The problem is that he does it in such a clumsy, ham-fisted way that he gives white supremacy a bad name. Like Hitler did. Doesn't obey the Constitution? The Constitution is meant to constrain uppity Democrats, not good, strong Republican authority figures. It was the same with W. While outright pussy-grabbing might be a bit much for Christianists, they like the general idea of degrading women and showing them their place. Again, the problem they have with Trump isn't misogyny, but the fact that he gives misogyny a bad name. He does it poorly.

You didn't mention "building the wall", but his supporters don't seem to care whether he builds a wall or not, as long as he keeps talking about one.

I'm afraid that the only way Trump voters will realize they made a horrible mistake--that "This sophont is dangerous!"--is if he actually does something that threatens their lives or their way of life. Not just in theory, but in actual practice. So something much, MUCH worse than Katrina would have to happen before they abandon their guy.

LarryHart said...

Paul451:

"if Republican voters will continue to support Republicans no matter how often Republicans betray them, then we might as well retire to raise fish and prepare for death, because he republic has nothing for us anyway."

This is an example of the difference between cynicism and fatalism. When people complain about voters being "cynical", they really mean "fatalistic". People should be more cynical about politics.


I meant that we might as well not live as if we expect the republic to provide us any benefit or security. I did not mean that we should refrain from politics, especially locally. I've gone the opposite way--I used to be one of those voters who only cared about presidential years, but that changed with the Clinton impeachment in 1998. I also never used to vote in primaries (because I didn't consider myself a party insider), but now I see how much of the real work gets done at that level.

LarryHart said...

CPAC vs Milo is a good example that exposes the real values of the right. They don't necessarily like the guy, but as long as he makes liberals squirm, they're all for his First Amendment rights. When he makes them squirm, that's a different matter. Triggering liberals is good sport, but triggering Republicans is bad form. The former is a brave stand against Political Correctness, while the latter is simply understood.

Catfish N. Cod said...

@LarryHart: You're basically correct. He has to do something that visibly and directly harms Americans -- including at least some Red Americans. Then, and only then, will they start agreeing that he is incompetent. As long as he is perceived as only harming Blue Americans and foreigners -- who cares? He's just the agent of Confederate revenge.

And it's not that the Constitution is meant to constrain Democrats. It's that the Constitution is meant to constrain POOR PEOPLE. The Constitution was written by upper classes who were terrified of direct full-participation franchise, which is part of why they detested Andrew Jackson so much. They were appalled at the "Levellers" in London (as socialists were called then; socialism hadn't been philosophized yet). The "bread and circuses" meme has been the strong argument by aristocrats for all time: that the people, given a choice, will merely loot the rich, spend foolishly, and destroy the wealth and economy. In other words, only the rich are capable of managing wealth.

There was some merit to this idea prior to the invention of the printing press: education cost too much. In the age of the 'Net, this is ridiculous. It is simply an elaboration of the idea that humans are NOT capable of managing their own affairs, that the Enlightenment is a lie and that the rich are actually better than the rest of us, by virtue of their wealth management skills.

No.

LarryHart said...

Catfish N. Cod:

And it's not that the Constitution is meant to constrain Democrats. It's that the Constitution is meant to constrain POOR PEOPLE.


It wasn't meant to be taken lit'rally. It refers to any representatives of the working class.

:)

CP said...

part 1:

Trump's great strength was his ability to manipulate the news cycle and social media (largely on an emotional level)--"filling the available space," ad nauseam, with his mostly false charges. Also, he demonstrated a knack for seeing and exploiting his opponent's weaknesses. And, his very unconventionality became a strength in the current climate. Finally, he made a masterful (if factually nonsensical) closing argument ("How could they have examined 650,000 e-mails in nine days. The system has obliviously failed. Now, it's up to you to enact justice through your votes..."). That is, after Comey teed it up for him with his second letter clearing Hillary. Arguably, that accounted for the extra 2% change in the last 48 hours when it was too late to be reflected in the poles.

Hillery's great strength was in policy/experience. But, in response to decades of largely unwarranted attacks, she'd developed the reflex of saying as little as possible whenever challenged. She knew from experience that anything she did say would be distorted and used against her. And, she was highly frustrated with the double standards she'd had to deal with. But, that left her with the catch 22 of appearing evasive and defensive. It also increased her vulnerability to the "elitist" meme. Then, she was unavoidably linked to the status quo of the previous administration in a climate where an impatient public wanted change. There was little that she could have done to alter those fundamentals. But, she could have gone a long way toward mitigating the damage with different tactics. Instead, she underestimated Trump (I think she couldn't quite believe that anyone would actually vote for him...)and ran a thoroughly conventional campaign. That decision (with Comey's and Putin's help) probably cost her the election. A few things she could have done differently:

CP said...

part 2

She needed a complementary rather than reinforcing vice president. She couldn't go to Bernie since he also had too much political baggage. So, her best option would probably have been Elizabeth Warren. With Warren, she would have had greater success holding the left. And, stylistically Warren was strong in those areas where she was weak and vice-versa. Cain was a more comfortable "governing" choice but his strengths and weaknesses were largely the same as hers. So, he offered little "offsetting" value to the ticket.

True or not, she should have avoided the "basket of deplorables" remark and anything else that appeared condescending. That sort of thing seldom works with voters. Also, Cain came across as smug and condescending during the vice presidential debate. That allowed Pence to win it on tone/emotion even though he lost it on facts.

When faced with a relentlessly negative and counterfactual campaign it's essential to respond. What Hillery didn't understand (like most politicians) is that it's not essential to respond in kind. When both sides go strongly negative it becomes easy for viewers to decide that "they're both just as bad" and stay home. Instead, she should have largely or completely avoided dirrectly negative adds and run a campaign that was relentlessly positive and factual--"filling the space" with the opposite of Trump's message, impugning his integrity obliquely (rather than directly), inviting the viewer to collaborate with her in "fact checking" him by using referrals to trusted third-party sites (instead of her own) and benefiting from subconscious association with positive events (such as the Olympics). She should have used a limited number of "standard scripts" (just her, sitting at a desk, without fancy production values) and run them, ad nauseum, as a signature of her campaign. And, she should have avoided mentioning his charges and counterfactuals explicitly. There've been several studies demonstrating that doing so tends to backfire. For example:

"I'm sure you've heard what my opponent has said about my tax policy. I'd like a moment of your time to explain what my tax policy actually is...concise, strictly factual explanation... Thank you for listening and be sure to vote"

"I'm sure you've heard my opponent's statements on global warming. I'd like a moment of your time to explain what the facts actually are...concise, strictly factual explanation and referral to third party sites...Thank you for listening and be sure to vote"

"I'm sure you've heard my opponent's comments on the unemployment rate. This is what the rate actually is...referral to third party sites... That's not perfect, but the trend is positive and, with your help, I'll do my best to make it even better if elected. Thank you for listening and be sure to vote"

Various positive biography pieces...

etc.

These adds/YouTube videos should have been "plug and play" so new versions could be run off and deployed in a matter of hours in response to changes in Trump's statements.

If she'd used that approach I think it would have altered the tone and structure of the campaign sufficiently to make her far less vulnerable to Comey's and Putin's machinations.

Anyway, just for future consideration... ;-)

CP said...

Addendum:

By the way, I think it's questionable that Bernie would have done any better. The Republicans largely ignored him during the primary in hopes his challenge would weaken Hillery. If he'd won he would have been attacked for his age, for his religion, for being "insufficiently devout", for his "New England values" for his decades as an "avowed socialist", for his overly optimistic economic assumptions... As unfair as it might be, in the Republican adds he would have been portrayed as a senile, Jewish, atheist, communist, who couldn't keep his numbers straight was out of touch with the values of "real Americans" and who would raise everyone's taxes while spending the money on "those other people who don't deserve it"... Then, is it credible to think he could have done better than Hillery in the debates? That was one part of the campaign that she handled well. Meanwhile, Trump had little trouble dealing with his male opponents during the primary debates...

Yes, he might have won. But, it wouldn't have been easy and wouldn't have been by anything like the margins of the early poles.

As for Biden, he was even more strongly linked to the status quo and current administration. And, he would likely also have had trouble dealing with Trump in the debates and countering his unorthodox campaign...

Anyway, enough venting...

Paul Revile said...

You might want to read Seymour Hersch writing in the London review of books. (Remember him? He was the first journalist with the spine to report on the My Lai massacre.)

https://www.lrb.co.uk/v35/n24/seymour-m-hersh/whose-sarin

https://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n08/seymour-m-hersh/the-red-line-and-the-rat-line

There he demonstrates that Obama's Democrats represented business as usual for America. He provides ample evidence (backed up by those awkward Podesta emails, the ones you have all received extreme aversion therapy toward)that not only was the American state intimately involved in creating the charnel house of Libya, an absolute catastrophe for the values you claim to represent, but that exactly the same methodology was used to destroy Syria.

Remember folks, general Wesley Clarke warned you in 2007 that this would be the case. Of course, don't think about them as destroyed cultures, infrastructure and masses of people, think about them as Assad and Gaddafi, the foreign policy equivalent of the identity politics which allowed Trump to happen.

Standing outside of the "team sports," binary, zero sum model of American politics which Dr Brin can not seem to escape, and having noted how it works, it is impossible to fall for his propaganda again.

After all he's desperately hoping to convince himself, often by projecting his own flaws upon the object of his criticism. It never seems to occur to him to objectively view the evidence. When it comes to American projection of power, his powers of critical analysis fail. Whereever America meets the rest of the world, it is always exempt from the enlightenment values he professes.

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