Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Moving Targets

Every time we start looking at "Why did Democrats lose?' stories, we have to account for the fact that their policies are generally more popular and Clinton won a shit-ton more votes. Trump's share of the popular vote is roughly the same as Michael Dukakis's.

The other liability the Democrats labor under - and this is perhaps the biggest issue - is that creating policies is harder than attacking them.  Criticism is so much easier than governing.

And there is no better example of this than Obamacare.  As Jon Chait has cataloged for the past seven years, the GOP has been launching attacks against Obamacare that are factually untrue.  When that criticism is proven to be untrue, they simply repeat a slightly different criticism or create an entirely new one.  They constantly create a series of moving targets that are not contingent on ever being right in prior occasions.

In debating Trump with my father - and he's a NeverTrump guy - he has said, why judge him before he does anything.  But the point of judging him before he does things, is to test your hypotheses against future performance.  I believe a trade war with Mexico and China will create massive inflation in consumer goods, while leading to job losses in the short run.  Supply chains will be ruined; markets will be disrupted.  But I'm willing to test that hypothesis against whatever does happen.

Now, Trump being Trump, maybe he never engages in those trade wars, but it does seem to be the one issue he cares about.  Plus, I can predict that the GOP Congress will punch a massive hole in the debt with extraordinarily regressive tax cuts.  Again, if - for the first time ever - supply side economics really does create enough growth to bridge the gaps created by tax cuts, then I will stand corrected.

What I won't do is engage in the constant moving targets exercise that Republicans do constantly.  If the trade war doesn't create inflation in consumer goods, I won't shift my criticism to being that the trade war empowered China.  To be clear, I think the trade war will empower China, and that is another criticism.  But I will own my mistakes when they occur.

That puts me, and other Democrats, at a structural disadvantage in the political arena.  And given the rank ignorance of the body politic, that's an issue.  Trump will tout numbers that are false or misleading and our stupid media will pass those along, saying "opinions differ on whether these numbers are false."

But being the party of grown-ups and being the party of proper governance comes with a burden.  The question is how we transfer that weakness into a strength working within a system that doesn't care about truth.

Any suggestions?

Friday, December 30, 2016

Tovarisch!

There might not be a better example of how sharp the partisan divide is than watching Republicans basically excuse Russian interference in our elections, because it helped them win.  Also, Glenn Greenwald is a tool.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Listen To What They Say

My father keeps telling me not to judge Trump until he actually does something.  So that when he says he wants to start a nuclear arms race, I should just chill until he actually DOES start a nuclear arms race.  I mean, it would sort of be too late at that point, but he does have a point, in that Trump says a lot of shit, and who knows what any of it means.

Of course, when Presidents speak, the whole world listens.  Trump is so impulsive and so amateurish in his policy vision that the rest of the world will have a hard time figuring out what the hell he really means and what is bullshit.  I think Trump thinks that's the point.  But once Iran has a nuclear weapon or China launches an attack on Taiwan, it's kind of too late.  Again.

So right now, just listen to what the GOP Congress is saying.  They are normal politicians, and they will try and do what they say they want to do.

And what they want to do is chilling as shit.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Today In Federalism Making Things Not Suck

John Kasich (Party of Lincoln-OH) has vetoed a law that would have gutted state regulations that create cleaner energy.  Kasich is not a moderate in any objective meaning of the word.  But he is also not a fabulist, living in an imaginary world where global warming doesn't exist and the future can be averted if we just hold our breath until we turn blue.

I'm telling you, people, 2018 needs to be about winning as many governorships as possible.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Seriously?

Trump wants to build more nuclear weapons? Not improve what we have, but simply build more?

Why the fuck would that make any sense...Oh, right...Trump.

Anyway, here's a good take on why this is stupid.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

We Told You That You Were Being Lied To

When snooty coastal elites pointed out that Trump was lying to the rubes Real Muricans, it was pointed out that we just "didn't get" what Trump was really saying.  "Take him seriously, not literally" is "literally" nonsensical.

Politicians always try to do what they say they will do on the campaign trail, but Trump isn't a politician.  He's a con artist.  So, we have yet another example of Trump's mendacity on display.  He's not going to "drain the swamp" he's going to stock it with water moccasins and pythons.  He's going to take away health care from tens of millions of Americans and throw the insurance markets into turmoil.

And while Trump is not a politician, he has appointed a few to key posts, and they are working to end Medicare as we know it, funnel even more wealth to the 1% and dismantle the regulations that keep our products, workplaces and environment healthy and safe.

Oh, and he is SOOOO starting a trade war with China that will prompt a global recession.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Dumpster Fire

My feeling is that Trump will prompt a global recession, primarily because he believes people like these idiots.

Dubya Bush was profoundly incurious about a lot of things.  That led him to make shoddy decisions.

He's fucking Einstein compared to Trump.

Repeat After Me

The Republicans don't give a shit about deficits.

The Big Lie at the heart of modern "conservatism" is that they give a rat's ass about deficit spending.

They don't want to spend public funds on the bottom 75% of society.  Full stop.  That's it.

They want to give more money to the top 1%, with enough scraps to the top 25% that they can win elections when they combine it with appeals to white nationalism.

The Republicans don't give a shit about deficits.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Today In Counterfactuals

Scott Lemieux examines the argument of whether Sanders could have won.  Since the "Hamilton Electors" gambit went down, pretty much all Democrats have left is to refight the 2016 primary I guess.

I don't think Sanders would have won.  Clinton ran well with POC, but she didn't run well enough.  Sanders would have done worse, I think.  I also think the opposition research on Sanders was full to overflowing.

The argument for Sanders is that Trump won on "economic anxiety" and therefore a social democrat could have neutralized that argument.  I find that very unpersuasive.  Trump won because of status anxiety, not economic anxiety.  Economics is part of it, but the entirety of status anxiety has to do with race and geography as much as it has to do with economics.  Economics aren't unimportant, but given the number of Trump voters who are surprised that Trump and the GOP are about to take away their health insurance, I don't think speaking to the Trumpenproletariat's sense of economic unease would have solved anything.

Lemieux brings in Biden, and that's an interesting case.  Biden has a couple of things going for him that Clinton and Sanders didn't.  Over Clinton, he wouldn't have the "unlikable" label hung on him, he's a fine speaker, he's tied very closely to Obama, which would help with POC.  Over Sanders, he's not quite as wild eyed, he's built bridges to communities across the US and he projects as a fighter and not just an angry old crank.

Given how close it was, I think Biden would have won.  He's appealingly authentic enough to the WWC voters to blunt just enough of Trump's appeal.

Clinton...Sanders...Biden...whoever you feel would have been the best candidate, that's kind of irrelevant, since you can never prove a counterfactual.  The one thing that seems painfully clear from the Democrat's history with the White House is this: Do NOT nominate a technocrat.  Dukakis, Gore, Kerry, Hillary...that won't do it.

Nominate someone who can bring the heat as well as the light.

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Wages Of Wrongness

Donald Trump and Paul Ryan are both engaged in pushing forward an agenda that has proven to be spectacularly wrong.  Trump's elevation of economic crank Larry Kudlow is a great example of this, as Chait catalogs.

This is why, at every opportunity, Democrats have to tie Trump with chains to the GOP.  Their policies are bad.  They will make things bad.  Because they lack the restraints that even Dubya operated under, I expect they will make things bad more quickly than he did.

If that happens, Digby's Law will be invoked: conservatism never fails, it can only be failed.  As soon as Trump drives the economy into the ditch and starts a few unnecessary wars and crisis, it will be pointed out that he was really a Democrat all along.

Democrats can't let that happen.  This is the same crap the right has been shoveling onto us for decades.  It is destroying the economic fabric of our country.

They have to own it.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Manchester-By-The-Sea

Last night, I saw one of the best movies I've seen in a year full of great movies: Manchester By The Sea.  As I described it to a friend, a great eulogy makes you laugh and cry in equal measures and the movie was a lovely eulogy for a man who is still alive.

This morning, I rummaged around to read reviews on the film, which was mostly very well received.  However, there were more than a few reviewers who discussed the movie in terms of race, especially the Sad White Person genre (which I didn't know existed).  There were talks about privilege, which I found baffling, because the movie deals with a freaking janitor suffering from depression so deep it touches the earth's core.

I understand that discussions of white privilege are precisely about people like the one's in the film, who don't have to add racial anxiety to the otherwise shitty conditions in their life.  But while I agree that discussions of white privilege are important, blanket accusations of "privilege" make no sense in the context of many WWC.  In fact, all they do is engender the sort of backlash that creates Trump.

This is at the heart of the identity politics/economic populism debate that is currently roiling the Democrats and the Left.  In some ways, this is just another form of weird preferences of the Left for moralism over coalition building.

Anyway, it's a helluva movie.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Anti-Democrats

The GOP is engaged in incredibly scummy behavior in NC.  Look, I understand that "politics ain't beanbag."  The one thing that disturbs me is the outright assault on the fundamental principle of "one person, one vote."  My guess is that Clinton lost NC because of GOP voter suppression.  Maybe not, but it was close enough.

As we enter Trumpistan, and we see an economic collapse from terrible policies, plus a war, the GOP will need to rely on assaults on democracy in order to stay in power.

This will get worse.

(Although it looks like there is a plan to fight back.)

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Normalizing Trumpism

Again, to support the "by any means necessary" Hamilton Electors gambit, I offer this chart.  It shows, powerfully, the effect of Trumpism multiplied by increasingly high partisanship.

Agree To Disagree

I'm normally a fan of Jon Chait's writing, but I think he's 100% wrong on the issue of the "Hamilton Electors."

Chait says we shouldn't be gaming the EC to deny Trump the presidency.  If this isn't the moment for the electors to engage in a critical examination of the results, then there is LITERALLY NO PURPOSE TO THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE.  If electors are simply ciphers for the state-by-state popular vote, then why have human electors at all?  If we take Hamilton's word for it, one of the purposes of the EC was to deny the presidency to people exactly like Trump.

Secondly, if the Hamilton Electors gambit pays off and tosses the election to the House, that would allow the Republicans to really and truly own the trainwreck of whatever comes next.  Let's say it goes to the House, with each state getting an equal vote.  Republicans enjoy control of 32 of the state delegations.  Democrats control 17 with one delegation split 1-1.  In other words, let's say 40 Trump electors defect to John Kasich.  That would send the election to the House, where they would have to choose between Trump, Clinton and Kasich.  If they choose Trump, they truly own everything that comes next.  If they choose Kasich, they not only own the Randian dystopia of Republican shitty policies, but they also own the anger of the Trumpenproletariat.

Win-win.  (In fact, arguably the worst result for the Democrats would be the GOP throwing the election to Clinton, and creating a four year run of a lame duck.)

Finally, Chait says that the Democrats should eschew "gimmicks" in order to practice normal opposition politics.  He notes, as I do, that Trump is likely to be VERY unpopular, and he notes, as I do, that Democrats need to start building towards 2018 and 2020 today.  But planning for 2018 and 2020 does not have to come at the exclusion of the Hamilton Electors gambit.  You can do both.  You should do both.

While I agree that the Democrats should hone their strategy as an opposition party, they should not count on usual methods working.  Trump has managed a Chait put it to "suborn his followers into facially absurd lies."  The rampant abuse of the notion of objective truth is the hallmark of Trumpism.  Four years of a Trump regency would further exacerbate what is already the most chilling political fact about the American political system: one of it's two major parties is factually illiterate.  Given the level of polarization, four years of Trump will simply create a cohesive mass of tens of millions of Americans who will believe what Trump says, even if you can prove it to be factually ridiculous.

Trump or Kasich will pursue an agenda that is deeply harmful to American civil rights and liberties, voting rights, economic opportunity and equality and America's role in the world.  That's GOING TO HAPPEN.

But Trump represents a threat to the very idea of objective reality that Kasich simply doesn't.

That makes the Hamilton Elector gambit worth the effort.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Common Clay Of The New West

You know...Morons.

When you read that piece - and you should - you need to really dig deeper into the reasons why the WWC continually votes against their economic interests.

First of all, as this fine fellow pointed out, they don't necessarily define their interests in economic terms.  You hear echoes of it in the interviews about wanting Trump "to shake things up."  You also hear, repeatedly, incredulity that the GOP would be so cruel and callous as to wrench away health insurance from tens of millions of Americans.  Simultaneously, you hear carping about the unwieldiness and expense of ACA.  But as much as they bitch about it, they need it.

Usually, the conventional wisdom that says politicians lie about their plans is wrong.  Politicians almost always try to accomplish what they say they want to do.  In fact, that's exactly what GOP House members are doing when they talk about cutting Social Security benefits, ending Medicare as we know it and, yes, repealing Obamacare.

This is the wages of cynicism, sure as the voters who pulled the lever for Jill Stein.  These voters assumed that Trump wouldn't do what Trump said he would do.

And it will kill some of them.

So, they aren't voting against their economic interests.  They are voting FOR their ethnic and racial interests.  They are placing a primacy on their whiteness and ruralness over their economic well being.  Hey, I get why a rich guy voted for Trump out of the cynical understanding he would get more money from tax cuts.  Sickens me, but I get it.

What we have seen from WWC voters - especially in the South, and what is rural Pennsylvania but Pennsyltucky - is a repeated denial of their economic interests in preference for their racial interests.

But, yes, let's talk about how Clinton had a messaging problem.

Funny, Not Funny


The Anti-Government

Eugene Robinson makes an interesting point: Trump is not assembling a government, but an anti-government.  People with no relevant experience in either government or the agencies they purport to lead.  The good news is that Rick Perry might finally remember the name of the Energy Department.  Ooops!

Business leaders have a single goal: maximize shareholder value.  It gets beaten in to the them in business school.  That is exactly not the goal of a cabinet secretary, whose job is to bring the best policy results to the greatest number of people.

This will be the most corrupt and incompetent administration in our republic's history.  The difference is that the federal government didn't have enough power in Grant or Harding's day to make it dangerous and there was considerably less money to steal.

But by all means, let's discuss Hillary's emails and how both sides blah blah blah.

Monday, December 12, 2016

This Is Important

So read it.

I Have Yale Law On My Side

Heather Gerken, a law professor at Yale, has taken up my call for progressive federalism.  To be fair, since she's a fancy pants grad school prof, she takes it in other more interesting directions.  Her argument is about policy and how federalism can shape policy.

That's a critical part of my thinking, too, but I also want to cast this as a political strategy.  Gerken mentions spillovers, which is how one state's actions affect other states.  These can be negative - like when one state stops regulating gun purchases and the neighboring state is suddenly awash in guns - but it can also be positive.

California is currently progressive America's best hope.  It has an extraordinary market share of the economy.  If it could combine with New York and Illinois, it could basically shape important aspects of our economy, from fuel efficiency standards to consumer financial protections.  The GDP of those states is around $4.6B.  That's roughly the same GDP from those three states as the GDP of all the states Trump carried except North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas.  And North Carolina and Pennsylvania have Democratic governors.

All I would add to the debate is the idea that blue states need to work together on certain issues.  New England and New York could get together and set a new minimum wage.  The Pacific coast states could set common energy standards.

But it has to be public, because the most important elections of 2018 might very well be the governors' races.  Democrats need to start party building at the state level.  Winning governor's mansions in Florida, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio and Wisconsin should be just as important as playing defense in the Senate in a rough electoral map.

This will require three things.

First, it will require an aligned federalism that brings blue states into cooperation with each other to create progressive policies that improve the lives of their citizens and creates a blueprint for other state level candidates to run on.

Second, it will require finding good candidates at the state level who can win those gubernatorial races. No more goddamned Martha Coakleys.

Third, and perhaps most difficult, is getting a DC-bound Democratic party to see the benefit of expending resources on these governor's races when they will be playing defense in the Senate.

Now, if Trumpism is as disastrous as I think it will be, then you can do both.

But the time to start doing both is now.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

WTF Are We Supposed To Do With These Assholes?

There is literally nothing that exists as truth to these sons of bitches.

An Amplification

Here is what is so terrifying about the Russian involvement in this year's election: the GOP will basically defend it because it brings them into power.

This point needs to be repeated, because it's critical to get beyond this bullshit false equivalency.  For every Bernie Bro or Steiniac who was saying that there isn't a dime's worth of difference between Republicans and Democrats?  You look like idiots.  Absolute simpering, drool-on-yourself idiots.

We have a great deal of evidence - both hard and circumstantial - that Russia wanted Trump to win and worked hard to make that happen.  When these allegations are made public, most of the GOP leadership responds by...attacking the CIA.  Really?

Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are basically willing to let a foreign power fuck about in our elections, because it gets them closer to funneling tax cuts to the richest 1% and deregulating Goldman Sachs and the petrochemical industries.

They literally are willing to see democracy undermined if it means getting their (unpopular) agenda across the president's desk.

Trump will be a terrible president.  He will likely - in no particular chronological order - crash the global trade networks, sparking a recession; start an unnecessary war; engage in unprecedented corruption and personal enrichment; undermine public discourse and unravel centuries of established political norms.

And when the bill comes due - providing there is an election worth having - it is incumbent that we don't allow the GOP to divorce themselves from this shitshow.

They own it, because they can't get beyond the zero-sum political discourse of "anything Democrats say must be the opposite of what we want."

Ugh.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

This Is Why We Are Pissed

In our upcoming New Year's congregation of several families, we have agreed to ban political discussions in order to maintain a sense of comity.  OK.  This came from one member of the group who apparently said, "You lost, get over it."

I think there are a fair number of Republicans who see it this way.  We had an election, the Republican won and now Democrats won't stop crying about it like little babies.

The problem with this thinking is that it fails to encompass how fundamentally radical this transformation could be if we DO stop protesting and fighting about it.

Russia interfered in our electoral process in order to elect a psychologically imbalanced neophyte.  Republicans - led by Mitch McConnell - stopped the intelligence agencies from publicizing this information prior to the election, because they wanted to win more than they gave a shit that we were electing a psychologically imbalanced neophyte.

Clinton won a substantial plurality of the popular vote.  Trump literally won on a technicality.  He is the least popular person ever to enter the White House, and that unpopularity is likely only to increase.

He has empowered a cabal of the most radical people to ever hold power in this country.  I'm saying that as a historian and I'm sorry/not sorry if it comes off as hyperbolic.  They want to - in no particular order - cut Social Security benefits to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy; privatize Medicare; toss 20-23 million people off their health insurance; roll back as much environmental protection as they possibly can; and of course, FSM only knows what they will do to race relations and immigrants.

Paul Ryan's fiscal plan is a nightmare of upwards redistribution of wealth - already the most pressing economic problem we face, and ironically the thing that "elected" Trump.

So the Trump administration can be summed up in the following ways:

- Of dubious electoral legitimacy, due to outside interference and a failure of the Electoral College.

- A magnification of the concentration of wealth in the 1%.

- An assault on the environment.

- An assault on non-whites.

- An assault on women.

This is why we can't "get over it" because we lost.  The Republican Party, over the course of the 21st century has become a radical outlier.  They have embraced an extremist agenda of plutocracy, anti-science and vote suppression.  This accelerated after Democrats took over the Congress in 2006 - prompted in part by the GOP efforts to privatize Social Security - and so there has always been a buffer between the radicals and the commonweal.

That's gone.  We lie naked and exposed to the worst impulses of the Tea Party and the Robber Barons.

My own estimation is that these policies are going to be a disaster.  Hopefully, they will be a disaster soon enough to flip at least one house of Congress in 2018.  But they will eventually be a disaster.

When that happens - and hopefully there will be enough of America left to salvage - it is incumbent to make sure that we understand the history of these years.  It's important that we understand the following.

Donald Trump is not going to screw us over and run us into a ravine.  The Republican Party is.  They are inseparable.

Friday, December 9, 2016

This Is A Good Idea

Let's move some governmental agencies to the Rust Belt.  Personally, I would add Montana and Wyoming to that list, because why the hell not.  If you were to move the National Geologic Survey and National Weather Service to Missoula, that would have a pretty nice effect on that state's education demographics.  Frankly, there needs to be a way to un-do the Big Sort.  You can't really coerce private enterprises to do so, but if you moved the National Health Service to Cleveland, you would really change aspects of that community for the betterment of all.

Yes And No

The argument that Trump can be popular by divorcing himself from his own policies is an...interesting one.  Presidents get blamed for everything.  They get blamed for the weather.

The Trump Two Step is legitimately a thing.  Trump is adept at changing the subject from poor policy decisions by doing or saying something outrageous.  When a truly troubling story comes out, he quickly does something like insult the cast of Hamilton or pick a fight with some average citizen.  And the press - like the freaking morons that they are - follow the shiny object of the latest Tweet and lose the thread of what's really important.

However...Trump's policies are objectively bad ones.  He might get a short term bounce out of some of them, but they are mostly crappy and unpopular ideas.  If Paul Ryan tries to privatize Medicare or Tom Price shuts down ACA or there is massive fraud in the infrastructure projects or there is an oil spill that the EPA ignores...that will accrue to the President.

Also, some of the ideas that Trump really does seem to care about - notably trade - are also objectively bad ideas.  Rumors of a 45% tariff on Chinese goods?  That's a colossally bad idea. Same with withdrawing from NAFTA.  If tens of thousands of people start losing their jobs AND the price of many consumer goods goes up, then Trump won't be able to distract the masses with a Twitter fight with Lady Gaga.

Increasingly though, the key to surviving Trump is allowing him to pick these trade fights, while opposing rollbacks of important programs domestically, then reaping an electoral harvest in 2018 that will allow them to investigate what is sure to be massive levels of corruption.

Two things to remember about this election.  First, Democrats won a bunch more votes.  Second, Trump voters are fickle and likely to stay home or flip back to Democrats if they feel betrayed.  This isn't the hardcore Teanderthals I'm talking about, but those counties that went from being 60-40 Romney to 80-20 Trump.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Collapse Of Norms And Competence

This story is both nothing and everything.  Trump wants his "employees" to sign non-disclosure agreements.  What he fundamentally fails to understand is that the federal government employees do not work for him.  They work for the Federal government.

Trump, like most civic illiterates, has no idea how the government really works and has no idea that the President is not an emperor.  He cannot expect the standards that he applied in the private sector will apply in the governmental sector.

The problem is that currently there is no branch of government willing to hold him accountable for violating laws and norms.  The GOP has long been "an insurgent outlier" - in the words of Norm Ornstein - when it comes to violating rules and norms.  So if we are expecting the House or Senate to rein him in, we are bound to be disappointed.

Obviously, the minority party has a role to play and theoretically journalism can expose issues.

Those are pretty weak reeds to lean on.

The Democrats have never been especially adept at opposition.  They fundamentally want to govern, not obstruct.  They have to learn to obstruct.

As for journalism, there is a growing consensus that much of Trump's victory was accomplished by a feckless, conflict-driven media that led to relentlessly negative coverage of Hillary Clinton, especially in the final weeks, with Comey's bullshit interference and the need to express "fairness and balance" by equating Clinton's run of the mill bureaucratic fouls with Trump's egregious behavior.

In some ways, I can see Trump not even running again in 2020, if we make him miserable enough.

Let's get to work.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Holy Crap

Allen West might be the craziest person in modern politics.  I wouldn't put him in charge of the Department of Redundancy Department.  I bet Trump makes him Secretary of State.

Help Us, Ivanka-Wan Kenobi; You're Our Only Hope

A lot of people are understandably dubious about Al Gore's meeting with Donald Trump.  As always with Trump, you have to be careful not to fall for the optics and focus instead on the actual steps being taken.  Just about every single policy decision that Trump has embraced would be disastrous for the environment.

But I think Martin Longman is right.  You take the shots available to you.  Trump will be president.  It is possible the only thing that can keep him sane are his children and we all agree that Ivanka is the "smart one."  If I were an interest group advocate, I would be working Ivanka as a resource to try and moderate her father's knee jerk contrarianism.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Damn Straight

Josh Marshall is correct that Democrats and liberals can't fall into our reflexive political contortionist posture.  We have absolutely zero reason to bend over backwards for the "New Normal."  Trump is a con man and a kleptocrat, and I anticipate that this will be the most corrupt administration in US history.

Don't reason with this fraud, fight him.  And this is where the great mass of angry activists can make a real difference.  Not with Trump, but with our elected Democrats who have a reflexive ability to try and wrap themselves around what they think are our institutions.

Those institutions are rubble.  Get used to it.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Cause And Consequence

That will be the name of the Jane Austen novel about the Trump Era.

Josh Marshall has a very good analysis of Trump's Taiwan call.  He notes that every once in a while, we should challenge closely held shibboleths of our foreign policy.  I would suggest that re-examining the closeness of our relationship with Israel every one in a while would be a good thing.

What is instructive about Trump is that he neglects the consequences of pretty much everything he does.  For the most part, throughout his life he has glided over responsibility for his mistakes.  Wealth is funny that way.  It will be interesting to see how much he can change at age 70, as the world makes it clear to him that he's fucking up.

Again, as Marshall notes, Trump is surrounded by a very hawkish group of advisers.  And he himself is largely ignorant of things.  I confess that I myself was ignorant of the elaborate kabuki that surrounds communications between the US and Taiwan.  I am not however ignorant of the tensions in this three way relationship.

Trump has already introduced friction into our relationship with China...excuse me, Jina...with his trade-based economic nationalism.  Now he's made a yuge blunder, and given his nature will likely double-down.  Maybe we poke our noses further into the chaos of the South China Sea disputes.

For years, I have been telling students that the US and China will not go to war, because we are too intricately bound to each other via trade and other contacts.  This is the whole point of the Bretton Woods trade liberalism program.  You don't shoot your customers.

Trump's ignorance, belligerence and impulsivity throws all that up for grabs.  So, for the first time, I will have to say that perhaps we will go to war with China.  Simply because of who sits in the White House.

Marshall makes an interesting connection between the Cheney-Hawks wing of the GOP and the collapse of the Agreed Framework that controlled North Korea's nuclear program.  Clinton had put in place a framework that kept PRK from getting nukes, in return for some modest economic benefits. Cheney and Stephen Yates - Trump's new China advisor - scuttled that and, surprise!, North Korea proceeded to get a nuclear weapon.

Anyone want to bet that we will scuttle the Iranian nuclear deal?  Anyone want to bet Iran gets a nuke?  Anyone want to bet Saudi Arabia follows suit?

Institutions function, because we don't pay any attention to them most of the time.  They are like traffic laws.  We can bitch about having to stop at a stop sign at 12:40 AM, but I think we'd notice if suddenly all traffic laws went away, and not in a good way.

I put the odds of America getting in a shooting conflict over the next four years at 40-60 in favor.

They won't be able to help themselves, and it worked for Dubya.  I doubt it will have the same impact for Trump in a post-Iraq world.

But I've been very wrong about this man and this country so far.

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Moral Is: Don't Nominate HRC Again

Jon Chait does the best post-mortem yet of the election.

His takedown of Bernie Sanders is important to read, too.  I would quibble that we may come to see James Comey's actions as decisive, but it's clear that Clinton's liabilities were what allowed that to BE decisive.

This is a key 'graph:
The most unpopular nominee in the recorded history of polling managed to very, very narrowly beat the second-most-unpopular nominee in the recorded history of polling in handful of swing states, while losing the national vote by 2 percent. Because of this, Democrats can escape their nominating disaster. Republicans can’t. None of us can, course — a fact that is very bad for the country, but also good for the opposing party.

Here is the genesis of my new word: Trumpenfreude (n), A state of taking pleasure in the failures of your national government because it proves you were right about an overgrown racist Oompa Loompa becoming chief magistrate.

His conclusion is particularly apt:
The party that needs to search its soul about whether it has the capacity to govern competently is not the one out of power. And what should concern Democrats is not whether they’ll get back in power but what will be left of the country when they do.

And that's the downside of Trumpenfreude.  I firmly believe that - if we have free and fair elections - Trump loses in 2020.  Perhaps in epic fashion.  But he could so damage the country that digging out from his mess could be beyond the powers of any one party.

America has had a nice run as a "hyperpower," but those days are likely over.

Make American Mediocre Again.