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2016 In Retrospect

2017 January 3
tags: ,
by Ian Welsh
the-new-yorker-who-is-donald-trump

There seems to be a general belief that 2016 was a particularly bad year. Part of that is the twin political events of Brexit and Trump, and part of it seems to be that a number of particularly beloved celebrities died.

But unless you were in a few specific places, like parts of Syria, and certainly if you were in most of the developed world, your odds of having something bad happen to you were about the same as they had been in 2015.

Certainly Brexit and Trump are both, potentially, earthquakes, though their severity remains to be seen, and I regard both as consequences of decisions that were made over a period of decades.

What made them seem so severe, I think, is that they were, to the liberal classes, surprises. In both cases, polls indicated they wouldn’t happen; and it was conventional wisdom among certain groups that both events were absurd.  Trump, in particular, was treated as a grotesque joke when he announced his candidacy, and right up to the last moment, almost literally, icons such as 538 and the New York Times insisted he was almost certain not to win.

When he did, an entire world view went away.

Because they thought it had been impossible for Trump to win. He was a joke, according to that world view, and those who held it have seized, in particular, on “Russia did it!” It was a deus-ex-machina, because their world model simply cannot accept that it happened.

And, in both cases (Brexit and Trump), there is a great deal of shaming and othering of those who voted the “wrong” way. They are castigated as stupid and immoral, people who are too dumb to vote in their self interests, to understand how the world works, motivated almost entirely by racism.

Bad people.

So many liberals in America and Britain now believe they live in countries where half the voting population are evil, stupid racists and that those people are now in charge.

Oh, and the big, bad Russians are also responsible.

While some are willing to admit that perhaps, just perhaps, the policies that even they voted for and/or supported (under Blair, Clinton, Obama, and the EU) might have something to do with all of this, the metaphysics of most essentially boils down to the notion that bad people (Russia, racists) combined with stupid people, are destroying our world.

Because they can see little responsibility for themselves (either in past policy or in the specifics of the campaigns (Clinton’s was notably incompetent)), they have eviscerated their sense of their own power, and thus their ability to create change.

Responsibility and power are exactly equal to each other. You have exactly as much power as you have responsibility, any mismatch is a denial of reality, and if society abets you in denying that reality, as it often does, by giving you more credit or less blame than you deserve, it does not change either your responsibility or power.

It is also true that an accurate perception of blame enables correct action. When Clinton and her team completely fumbled their campaign, not removing them from all positions of power indicates a willingness to tolerate failure again and again. Indeed, after Clinton, the presumptive front-runner, was defeated by Obama in 2008, perhaps the realization should have dawned on us/her that she and hers were incompetent and that she should not be the presumptive candidate. She started with a vast advantage and lost it.

Meanwhile, in the eight years Obama has led the Democratic party, vast losses have occurred in State Houses and Congress.

As for policies which have lead to vast numbers of Britons and Americans being willing to vote for Brexit and Trump; well, I have written on those subjects more than enough.

Liberals and centrists, as a group, deny responsibility, and thus deny agency. They refuse to put the locus of responsibility in those areas over which they have control. Instead, they blame forces over which they have no control (Russia) or over which they have less control (the current racism that is ex-nihilo, completely unrelated to the policies they have championed for decades).

It is not the crisis, as such, that predicts the future, it is the response. I was able to accurately predict the shape of America and Europe’s economy because I saw the response to the crisis in ’09. The day the outlines of Obama’s stimulus were announced (he’d already fumbled the bailouts, by bailing out the rich rather than ordinary people), I wrote that American jobs and wages would not recover for 20 years. Eight years later, that’s still looking accurate. (The unemployment rate is not what matters here, the jobs/population ratio is.)

So, seeing the liberal response to 2016’s political crises, it is clear that, at least so far, liberals have not learned the necessary lessons. Thus, trends will continue in the wrong direction. Locating the problems as beyond their control, liberals have self-emasculated.

There is still time for that to change, and perhaps it will. So far, however…well…

Happy 2017.


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61 Responses leave one →
  1. V. Arnold permalink
    January 3, 2017

    “Our comforting conviction that the world makes sense rests on a secure foundation: our almost unlimited ability to ignore our ignorance.” – Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow

    Seems about right to me; gotta barf bag handy?

  2. Willy permalink
    January 3, 2017

    If they’re not bad or stupid, should we call them desperate? (And of course I’m not talking about the incorrigible zombie cult base, who wouldn’t know “bottom” if it hit them.) If somebody wants to start a chant amongst the liberals and centrists, I might join in. And well before everybody’s chanting “Lock him up!”

  3. realitychecker permalink
    January 3, 2017

    Invest in THIMK stickers.

  4. bruce wilder permalink
    January 3, 2017

    The post-election performance of some liberals has been remarkable.

    Those who might be willing to consider the possibility that the fault may lie with the performance of liberals in office and as opinion leaders are a decided minority.

    The new term, “virtue signaling”, is getting a lot of application.

    The automatic eye-rolling at absolutely everything Trump says or does shows a complete incapacity of critical judgment and the criticisms that project onto Trump policies, practices and tendencies that Obama, Clinton and other Democrats have been guilty of for a decade show a lack of conviction.

  5. Tiago permalink
    January 3, 2017

    Liberals will be liberals

  6. Ché Pasa permalink
    January 3, 2017

    I’m so old, I remember when “gridlock” was the preferable outcome on the assumption that Herself would win the election in a walk. “Gridlock” would supposedly prevent her from enacting her neoliberal program that would continue the economic exploitation and destruction of the Rabble for the benefit of the already too righteous and rich, and it might even interfere with her warmongering and corruption, who could know? At least things would not move too fast or without loud and cantankerous opposition in Congress. So that was a good thing in and of itself.

    I pointed out at the time that “gridlock” would be unlikely to interfere at all with any of the neoliberal or neoconservative programs that both parties have long endorsed and enacted. Those things that needed to be done would be done in a bipartisan manner, just as they have been done under Obama and were done under Bush and Clinton. “Gridlock” would only stymie those things that weren’t necessary to the program, just as has been the case for the last several decades.

    Enter Trump in the White House, and suddenly “gridlock” is no longer an option. Suddenly, whatever he and the congressional Republicans want is not only on the table, whatever they come up with and can enact — to continue the neoLibCon program at an accelerated rate or make war on domestic dissent or an ever changing cast of enemies overseas, exploit the Rabble, or even (horrors) control the internet — is just fine, and any failure to stop it is entirely due to liberals’ (however you want to define them but it essentially means Democrats, the other neoLibCon party) failure to learn their lesson.

    Nothing else.

    You may have noticed that most of those liberals in office or among the ruling clique long ago made their peace with the outcome of the election; they almost immediately yielded and pledged their fealty and loyal opposition. The hundreds of thousands spontaneously in the streets protesting the outcome were dismissed by both ruling teams as irrelevant. The recounts that Jill Stein undertook were denounced by both teams of the ruling clique, and she was personally smeared as a con artist — when she fulfilled every bit of her promise to press the recounts as far as possible. It was a corrupt judiciary that interfered and stopped the counts where recounts were possible and it was incredible laws and unverifyable machines that made recounting impossible in many jurisdictions. Yet she’s the con artist.

    No, Trump is the con artist and he’s the one who should be opposed because he’s the one slated to take office on January 20, not Clinton. The Rs in Congress and state houses across the land are the ones who should be opposed because they are the ones slated to enact even more horrifying and destructive laws and policies, not the Dems.

    The Dems (and “liberals”) are not going to save the situation, and no amount of denunciation and condemnation of them is going to change that.

    If you really want change for the better, it has to come from outside institutional politics.

    That’s where positive change can and will happen — if it happens.

  7. gnokgnoh permalink
    January 3, 2017

    @Ché Pasa
    The irony is that the Rabble will not be terribly bothered by all of the measures enacted by a unified Congress/Presidency. If the better jobs do not materialize, and they will not for many reasons, at least we don’t have a politician in the White House. There will be entertainment. On the Congressional side, we’re even getting the Office of Congressional Ethics shut down…even before Jan 20! If we don’t know about the theft, then we will not care so much.

    100% on your post.

  8. V. Arnold permalink
    January 3, 2017

    Ché Pasa
    January 3, 2017
    If you really want change for the better, it has to come from outside institutional politics.
    That’s where positive change can and will happen — if it happens.

    Hugh’s been banging on about the same thing, as have I, but; to no avail.
    The U.S. is lost; the sooner that is realized, the sooner there can be people who can think outside of conventional processes.
    I’m done. Done I say; let the young bucks give it a go; but, don’t hold your breath; the U.S. is lost…
    There just aren’t any genuine leaders anywhere to be seen or heard; but, beware the rhetoric of smooth talking snake oil salesmen like Obama, Trump, Clinton, or Sanders.
    Galoots all, galoots as far as the eye can see…

  9. realitychecker permalink
    January 3, 2017

    Lefty snowflakes seem to be totally committed to the belief that they can magically change this hopelessly corrupt and ruthlessly murderous corporate oligarchy without taking any real risks or doing any real damage.

    They seem to think that the oligarchy cares about their musings and mewlings amongst themselves on social media.

    They think the real world is like Hollywood, and all that’s needed are some cool special effects.

    They think the meek shall inherit the earth, but it is a virtual certainty that the meek shall inherit nothing but a hopeless future where they will be treated like livestock.

    They are betraying their children with their passivity.

  10. Pelham permalink
    January 3, 2017

    In addition, the plight of the middle and working classes is routinely and grossly understated in mainstream analyses of these events.

    While pundits correctly note that wages have “stagnated” or failed to grow over the past however many years, they fail to note that the cost of increasingly oppressive essentials — principally healthcare and education as imposed by their cartel industries — eat up an ever larger share of those stagnant wages.

    The effect, then, is not a stasis in living standards but rather a steep decline as households have an ever diminishing amount of wealth to allocate to other purposes. And making matters even worse, what we actually get for our increased spending on education and healthcare shrinks as well. The medical/insurance industrial complex succeeds only in delivering declining longevity rates, and the education complex funnels our deeply indebted young into ever narrower and crappier jobs and careers.

  11. V. Arnold permalink
    January 3, 2017

    Pelham
    January 3, 2017

    With all due respect; only a moron would not be aware of the things you said.
    I got my first SS check for 2017 today; a whopping, fucking $3USD per month increase; wow!
    If, I was stupid enough to still live in the U.S., I’d probably take my .44 and put a bullet in my brain saying fuck-all…
    But, because I don’t live in the U.S.; it doesn’t fucking matter! Bite me RC; there I go again…
    SS is being gutted and you fuckers aren’t smart enough to get it!
    The best goddamned social care program ever created and YOU allow it to be destroyed.
    So, just continue to STFU and go gentile into that bloody night!!!

  12. realitychecker permalink
    January 3, 2017

    @ V. Arnold

    I won’t bite you, good sir. You make some good points, and I only chide you occasionally. 🙂

  13. V. Arnold permalink
    January 3, 2017

    realitychecker
    January 3, 2017

    Okay, fair enough. And thanks for the positive comment.
    I’m in a mood for epic rants; chained CPI; Russian election hacking; “moderate rebels”; Obama anything; and just the general MSM/CCM bullshit propaganda storm aimed squarely at the U.S. public; uneducated fools they be…

  14. nihil obstet permalink
    January 3, 2017

    The electoral campaign was so righteous that the liberal classes seem to be planning to give the country another chance — I’m seeing righteous calls to resist everything Trump does, every nomination, every policy, because Trump is so evil. I want to ask, “You saw how well Trump demonization worked, right?” There’s apparently still no concept of focusing on particular policies to improve life for most people.

    I have read Josh Marshall relatively infrequently since his support of the Iraq invasion, but I give him major credit for his campaign in 2005 against Bush’s plans to cut Social Security, in which he urged readers to call their congress critturs and report back their response. By publicizing their answers on this hugely popular program, he influenced the death of the plans. That’s the kind of thing that should be happening — keep hitting individual politicians on unpopular votes. Instead, we keep getting vague “He’s so awful” stuff that’s easy and useless.

  15. Tomonthebeach permalink
    January 3, 2017

    I think there is mounting evidence of the validity of Ian’s remarks. I am seeing more articles calling for the Left to dig in their heels and oppose the Right as they begin their march to eradicate all vestiges of progressivism. Given the overwhelming control of all things political by the Right (okay, except Chicago – yet), this is a mouse-that-roared sort of scenario. Such a strategy will only continue to erode political support.

    I do not perceive a way to buffer new legislation that will likely harm those living in relative economic poverty. Although people continue to express hopefulness that the first American Reich will turn out great, there is very little evidence that the Right is headed in a constructive direction that will benefit anybody but the 1% who comprise the new Cabinet at 1600.

    It does make me far more sympathetic to the Germans of 1933. I feel like I am living in a similar context that helps answer my question of how could the Nazi’s have happened.

  16. XFR permalink
    January 3, 2017

    The new term, “virtue signaling”, is getting a lot of application.

    That one particularly annoys me. Is the word “pretension” just not pretentious enough for people to use anymore?

    And for a while now there’ve been no more watersheds, only “tipping points”.

    It reminds me of Scientology jargon. Elaborate and profound sounding phrases that refer to basically mundane stuff.

  17. XFR permalink
    January 3, 2017

    The recounts that Jill Stein undertook were denounced by both teams of the ruling clique, and she was personally smeared as a con artist — when she fulfilled every bit of her promise to press the recounts as far as possible.

    Well, she did claim to believe that Trump was the lesser evil of the two main contenders. Though I suppose one might be charitable and presume she was just that staunchly committed to ensuring the integrity of the process…if one didn’t look too hard at the sort of things that went on during her primary contest Anderson in 2012.

  18. XFR permalink
    January 3, 2017

    “…contest with Anderson…”

  19. XFR permalink
    January 3, 2017

    It does make me far more sympathetic to the Germans of 1933. I feel like I am living in a similar context that helps answer my question of how could the Nazi’s have happened.

    You’ve been living in a similar context since 2002.

    Bit late to get bent out of shape about it now.

  20. StewartM permalink
    January 3, 2017

    As I have said, I hold little hope that Trump will be good in most ways–I expect him to be worse, and I think he will betray the people who voted for him.

    The important issue to me is what constitutes the anti-Trump coalition. All this hue and cry about “Russia!” “Electoral College!” “Interference in US elections!” is just a distraction by the Clintonistas and Obamacrats to divert attention from their own disastrous policies which has led to the Democrats becoming a minority party at nearly all levels of government. It is an attempt to make certain that the Democrats *don’t* become a working-class party but remains a faux people’s party servicing a constituency of upwardly-mobile professionals playing tokenist identity politics and serving a corporate-friendly agenda.

    As bad as I think Trump will be, the country can survive him. What’s not survivable is if the opposition to Trump continues in the mold of the “New Democrats”, whose job is to essentially normalize the bad behaviors of previous Republican Presidents. (Clinton made Reagan the “new normal” and Obama made Dubya the “new normal”). There is no hope for the US unless the current leadership of what passes for “liberalism” is kicked to the curb.

    Sad to say, right now I don’t see that happening, so the rot will continue. V. Arnold is probably right, the US is lost for the foreseeable future.

    (As an aside, last night the MSNBC talking heads were using Nixon’s now-proven interference in the 1968 Vietnam peace talks as a tactic to win the election as a analogue to Trump saying Putin was smart (WTF??).

    What came to mind to me immediately was…’So if someone had hacked Nixon’s communications back in 1968, and exposed all his wrongdoing and interference before the election, and even if it was a foreign power that hacked it and had disclosed it all, then wouldn’t that have been a GOOD THING??’

    I’m sure if someone had brought that point up the answer would have been….crickets…)

  21. Fox Blew permalink
    January 3, 2017

    I have to admit that I am a bit stunned by the opposition towards Keith Ellison by some of the heavyweights in the Democratic party. Maybe I’m naïve (in fact, I’m sure I am) but I don’t understand why Ellison is facing the kind of pushback that he is. Is this an example that can be used to buttress Ian’s point or is there something else at play? Colour me confused.

  22. Willy permalink
    January 3, 2017

    “They are betraying their children with their passivity.”

    I’m out there every day dealing with common subsistence worker bees. They have an energy, but it’s being wasted on anxiety and depression and on little diversionary entertainments off hours. I’d program, market and sell a video game called “Max Damage: Mr. Potter” but I’m not very good at any of those things. Better ideas?

  23. Willy permalink
    January 3, 2017

    Ellison has only ever sounded the thoughtful, reasonable, virtuous… man to me. Sadly, he’d be too easily tarred as a Sharia monkey by the powers that be.

  24. January 3, 2017

    The word is “dread” – not how things are but how things are going to be. Brexit and Trump are not things that have been, but how things are going to be. But remember, he first has pull all of his tricks first.

  25. Peter permalink
    January 3, 2017

    @Stewart

    I think the NSA had the information/recordings on Nixon’s outreach to the South Vietnamese and even Johnson was informed but there was no real deal or quid pro quo to expose. It would have been embarrassing because of protocol but the South Vietnamese had no intention of joining the peace talks. The tapes that if released could have changed history were the ones of Johnson deciding to start the all out Vietnam War where he admits he knows it is unwinnable but goes ahead for political gain in the ’64 election.

    The Vietnamese along with everyone else knew that the hastily convened talks and bombing pause were Johnson’s October Surprise to help elect Humphrey. We can’t know what he would have done but he was no Peace candidate.

    The Clintonites and their stooges are desperate to find anything to pile on their straw Putin/Trump delusions but the only thing about the ’68 election that matches today is the electoral college vote numbers. It was a different time with California a solid Red state and Texan a solid Blue one.

  26. bruce wilder permalink
    January 3, 2017

    I am nodding along to many of the comments — Ché Pasa, V. Arnold, realitychecker, Pelham et alia. StewartM did a better job than I could of saying some things I would have said, so I won’t try to compete.

    XFR: “pretension” has quite different connotations from “virtue signalling”. Pretension is an individual use of affectation to impress. “Virtue signaling” is the expression or promotion of viewpoints that are especially valued within a social group. Although this is lost on most people who use the phrase, the term “virtue signalling” was coined with the intention, I believe, to invoke some insights from signalling theory in evolutionary anthropology about how social groups are formed and hold together. As such, virtue signalling is something of a term of art for the way the identity politics of loser liberals works.

    When a social group is functioning as a team, working together as a team to actually achieve some common end, “virtue signalling” has no place. Individual energies go into actually doing things that further achieving the goals of the team and individuals belonging to the team support the team by actually doing the work of the team. “Virtue signalling” is pure self-promotion within the context of a social group that is no longer doing anything; it only makes sense when the ostensible goals of the social group are foreclosed and actually doing something toward a team goal is no longer an option. There’s personal status enhancement available, but the group’s material success in competition with other groups is no longer in play.

    The Urban Dictionary defines “virtue signalling” as: “saying you love or hate something to show off what a virtuous person you are, instead of actually trying to fix the problem”. The “instead . . .” is a critically important part of the connotation. And, the other very useful part is that even though “virtual signalling” eschews teamwork, it nevertheless is intrinsically connected with and reinforces the idea of being a member of a particular social group as a personal status enhancement — hence the useful tie to “identity politics”.

    Anyway, that was unnecessarily long-winded and not all that sharp. I apologize for my lack of eloquence.

    The term is getting a lot of pushback recently, to the effect that it doesn’t mean anything. Very similar to the campaign to make “neoliberal” meaningless. I guess we are not supposed to talk about anything but Russian bears hacking our email.

  27. bruce wilder permalink
    January 3, 2017

    Stirling S Newberry: “. . . not how things are but how things are going to be. Brexit and Trump are not things that have been, but how things are going to be. “

    Yes. And, as such, we are free to forget the actual past and invoke whatever counterfactual pleases or titillates.

    I spoke to a casual acquaintance at an office where I was making a post-Holiday courtesy call this afternoon and we made the usual grunting sounds about the prospect of Trump. He’s a Stanford Ph.D. in physics, if I recall correctly, though past retirement age and not engaged any longer with anything intellectually challenging. A Korean War Marine veteran, for what that’s worth. And, he said, “I hope we don’t get in a war.”

    I mean I get that Trump’s unstable belligerence is a common meme. Okay, whatever. But, do we get to forget that we’ve been at war continuously for more than a dozen years?

  28. White Buffalo Calf Woman permalink
    January 3, 2017

    In my mind, in 2016, the hundredth monkey syndrome took over and the monkeys started to wake up and see the truth. The internet and social media helped a lot toward that. Notice the sudden activity toward censorship?

    Still, I laugh.

  29. bruce wilder permalink
    January 3, 2017

    Stay Woke, monkeys! Stay Woke!

  30. Hugh permalink
    January 3, 2017

    I think the story of the 2016 US Presidential election is that Clinton fooled more of the rubes overall, but Trump fooled almost as many and more in the places he needed to. So he won. The rubes lost, but we were going to lose either way. Except for fulfilling our role as validating stooges, we were, and are, irrelevant. The Clintons may be gone, maybe. But the Democratic party Establishment remains filled with Clintonistas. The party lost this election, and this election cycle, but so what? The Democratic Establishment is still firmly in place. The noxious Pelosi will still be Minority Leader in the House and the toxic Schumer will have the same role in the Senate. The new buzz word is “resistance” and “resisting” Trump will be great for fundraising because Trump and the Republicans are sure to be a disaster. And so in two or four or six or eight years, the country will be so sick of them that they will vote for any Democrat with a pulse over them. If you look at it from this perspective, and this is the perspective of the Democratic Establishment, it has zero incentive to reform and/or become responsive to anyone: you know, like voters, its base, or independents.

    Trump’s winning the Republican nomination should have exposed the complete bankruptcy of the Republican party, but it really didn’t. His beating Clinton in the election should have done the same for the Democratic party, but it really didn’t do that either. The fact is that both party Establishments remain intact and are already looking at how best to exploit a Trump Presidency –in other words, it is already back to business as usual on both sides of the aisle.

  31. Hugh permalink
    January 3, 2017

    Also the December jobs report should be out this Friday. As I have been saying for months, 2016 is shaping up as worse in job creation than 2015 which was worse than 2014. The report that comes out in February will have a lot of big revisions to the Establishment data, but even so, the above trend should still hold true. (Note: I look at seasonally unadjusted data.)

    I still need to get hold of Establishment data on full time vs part time work, but from what I have seen from the Household survey, there does seem to be a case for a majority of jobs net from the November 2007 peak being part time, about an 8 to 3 ratio. And as Pelham pointed out above, with real expenditures like healthcare increasing faster than real wage growth, the bottom 80% are falling further behind and their quality of life deteriorating.

  32. Peter permalink
    January 4, 2017

    Something more interesting than applying the Golden Rule to the snowflakes happened today in DC. The republicans were quietly trying to eliminate the independent ethics committee that has been circling them like vultures for the last eight years until Trump got word of this plan. He set down his delicious Habana and fired off a quick tweet from his Florida stronghold telling them that was a bad idea and they came to heel immediately, unanimously like a good team should. Instead of bickering over this move endlessly with the Clintonites they are free to address the important agendas Trump is calling for. This also leaves the Clintonites empty mouthed with no juicy bone of contention to gnaw on and drag through their media for weeks.

    This may be Trumps version of the Golden Rule. He can’t get close and friendly with these vicious Clintonites but he can at least save them from overstimulation that pushes them to foaming at the mouth.

  33. Charlie Dozen permalink
    January 4, 2017

    “and right up to the last moment, almost literally, icons such as 538 and the New York Times insisted he was almost certain not to win.”

    That’s not correct. 538 put his chances at 28 or 29%, and NYT put them at 15%.

  34. Lisa permalink
    January 4, 2017

    The problem Ian is that “So, seeing the liberal response to 2016’s political crises, it is clear that, at least so far, liberals have not learned the necessary lessons.” is totally correct, but the reason why are important.

    Rather than call the ‘liberals’ (which causes all sorts of confusion, as here in Australia the Liberal party is the conservative one). call them ‘centarists’…except they are not.

    One by one, starting in New Zealand under the Langey Govt, the ‘left’ (though mostly centarist though) parties fell to the ‘neo-liberal’ economic model. In Australia it was the Hawke/Keating Labor Govt. In the US Clinton, the UK Bliar (deliberate).

    Deregulation , labour market reform (translated ending unions and driving down wages), de-industrialisation, rentier and financial capitalism…and all the rest. Most also signed up to the ‘neo-conservative’ aggressive foreign affair models (endless wars).

    They were, just a little bit by the way, more receptive to social reforms such as (here in Australia) Aboriginal reforms, women’s reproductive rights, or LGBTI rights…but far less than most think. They bowed under tremendous pressure to let some things through and fought hard against many others. Because of Labor party Catholic opposition it took until 2012 to allow RU-486 here. And F**l transgender and intersex rights here*.

    The traditional ‘Right wing’ parties moved ever further to the right on economic and social issues, mostly because the so called ‘left’ parties had stolen their thunder and implemented everything they have always wanted economically.

    So in every measurable sense our societies have moved to being more right wing. Hence the disasterous (and long predicted) GFC and the response to that (bail out the banks and the rich).

    I was not joking about the ‘Clinton’ Democrat model of creating a new coalition of right wing Dems and ‘moderate’ Republicans to create a universal; and (in their eyes) an unending ‘ centarist’ party, dedicated to neo-liberal economics and neo-conservative foreign affairs ( = endless wars). It was a long documented drive for them in the US as it was elsewhere.

    So instead of the normal, as espoused by some here, that our societies have become more ‘left’ when in reality our decision making elites have become ever more right wing and religious dominated and a proportion of our populations have followed due to endless propaganda (funded by guess who).

    *Here in so called ‘liberal’ Australia, trans kids have to go to court to be allowed things like HRT at 16…….but the recent ruling on an intersex kid was that clitorecdomy of a baby, and further vaginoplasty surgery to make them look porn star ‘normal’, then sterlisation at 5….. was ok and didn’t need anything but the parents to agree. Most other countries do the same while going all ‘I am against genital mutilisatiion”..except they are not, follow the money.

    Oh it is free of course…when trans people have to pay, with no insurance or Govt help, the total costs by themselves for life saving surgery.

  35. Tom permalink
    January 4, 2017

    Ford just got bitchslapped by Trump and has cancelled its decision to build a factory in Mexico and instead will build one in the US and create 700 high paying jobs for Americans in Michigan and likely will spur more growth.

    GM is also getting slapped as well.

    Trump knows who he owes his victory to and he will deliver it appears.

  36. V. Arnold permalink
    January 4, 2017

    Tom
    January 4, 2017

    Give me a fuckin break; Trump hasn’t even been sworn in and you’re trying to lead a non-existent parade.
    Ford and GM are in deep shit; sales are way down; and rollbacks are implemented to save money needed for operations.
    2016 was abysmal and 2017 looks to be worse.
    Sixteen days are a lifetime in this environment. Anything is possible; we’ll see…

  37. wendy davis permalink
    January 4, 2017

    @ hugh: perhaps you know this org; http://bit.ly/2gPhS0u

    shadowstats alt unemployment stats only allows a peek w/o a subscription. (i’m avoiding the url to not trigger Ian’s moderation thingie.

    @ ian: your second paragraph knocked me off my pins, but i guess ‘something bad happening’ or not is in the eye of the beholder/recipients.

    @ ché pasa: what stein did in her quest was to promote the idiocy that russia in fact DID hack the election. pffffft on her.

  38. Ché Pasa permalink
    January 4, 2017

    These accusations about what Jill Stein did or didn’t do years ago or her supposed purpose wrt to the aborted recounts border on just the sort of desperation we’ve seen over and over to scapegoat someone for something that’s gone wrong with our political and electoral system for many years.

    What she said she would do with regard to the recounts is what she did: take them as far as she legally could and money permitted. She filed for recounts as she said she would, she pursued them as she said she would, and she took them as far as she could in each case.

    Her recount campaign showed conclusively — for those who weren’t already convinced — that it is impossible to verify the vote in those states due to ridiculous laws that make it impossible, corrupt courts that interfere to make it impossible, refusal by elections officials to undertake appropriate recount actions and make it impossible, and in Pennsylvania especially, due to the continued use of unverifiable voting machines that make it impossible. In other words, what the recount campaign showed was that once again, the election outcome must be taken on faith — because there is no way on earth to ensure it was on the up and up and was an accurate reflection of the will of the voters.

    Or rather the will of those who were permitted to vote and to have their votes counted.

    As for promoting the Russian Thing, FFS. The main candidates were both promoting the “rigged election” and “foreign interference” memes, and Jill used them as part of her argument for engaging in the recounts. Or did you miss that somehow? It was their own insistent claims that provided one of the bases for doing recounts in the first place.

    Sorry, the aborted recounts showed there’s no way to tell whether the claims of the main candidates were correct or not. We can’t say for certain whether the votes were jiggered by foreign or domestic interests because we can’t verify the vote or the integrity of the voting machines. Can’t. Be. Done.

    Continuing to trash Stein for what is an international embarrassment called our “elections” makes no sense and is yet another distraction from the real problems that constantly go uncorrected or get worse.

  39. Peter permalink
    January 4, 2017

    @Tom

    This is very big news and Ford not moving jobs to Mexico opens the way for other companies to follow their example.

    I don’t think this should be viewed as bitchslapping although there was the use of public exposure and pressure. The culture of offshoring is what has to be eliminated and these large companies along with the bankers must readjust their policies to make that happen. Prioritizing keeping jobs here is a win-win plan that will have long lasting benefits.

  40. Shh permalink
    January 4, 2017

    apropos of nothing, in February 2012 I considered starting a blog. My first post was going to be a call to exercise the duty expressed in the Declaration of Independence to overthrow a government that usurped the rights of Man. Accordingly, I compiled a contemporary list of grievances to justify such an imprudent course of action.

    I found that draft this morning and it seems just as relevant to the election of Trump as it did to the condemnation of Obama it was intended to be. Here then, if anyone cares, is a partial list of grievances against the illegitimate US Government, circa 2012:

    The Executive branch, through the agencies of the U.S. Treasury, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Attorney General’s Office has usurped established law to pilfer the wealth of the nation to the enrichment of the few. Amongst these grievances: The US Attorney’s Mortgage Settlement, TARP and other “bailouts” provided to financial entities during the financial crisis beginning in 2008, lax enforcement of laws and regulations, corrupt industry oversight, and a regressive tax system.

    The Federal Government has waged war against its citizens in the guise of a drug war which has disenfranchised the legitimate voting interests of a significant number of persons, a disproportionate number of whom are of African American or Hispanic descent resulting in the manifest and endemic deprivation of their inalienable rights.

    The Federal Government has created incentives to corporations to invest in nations outside the borders of the United States to the detriment of the general welfare and entreated with foreign nations to create unfair labor advantages with treaty partners the effect of which is to suppress economic growth, lower wages, impede the rights of the workers to organize and create an artificial caste system.

    The Congress of these United States in collaboration with the Executive branch has exceeded their authority in enacting into law the National Defense Appropriations Act of 2011 wherein the writ of habeas corpus and the right to due process have been unlawfully usurped.

    The Federal Government has systematically sought to subvert State sovereignty by enforcing attachments to transfer payments of Federal income taxes which compel States to modify or enact statutes in order to gain eligibility for grants and other funding.

    The Supreme Court of these United States has acted with deliberation and intent against the interests of the People by adjudicating that corporations be accorded the same rights as People under the law without attaching unto them the incumbent obligations of citizenry.

    The Federal Government has been corrupted by the undue and exaggerated influence of corporations and moneyed interests and Congress by sublimating its representational authority to serve these narrow interests above the legitimate interests of the People has abrogated its legitimacy. Amongst these grievances are open contracts to provide an unspecified number of detention centers in the country, the use of no-bid closed contracts with Halliburton during the Iraq war being a clear conflict of interests with the sitting Vice President having been an executive of that entity, the deliberation and setting of regulations favorable to industry by agencies staffed by and providing staff to the entities which they are charged with providing oversight (e.g. automotive, extractive, commodity, pharmaceutical, medical, engineered foods, biotechnical, communication and utilities, amongst others).

    The Executive branch has taken upon itself Powers reserved to the Congress. Amongst them; the power to declare war, the power to entreat commerce with Foreign Nations, the power to make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces

    The Presidents of the United States have failed to abide by the constraints of their office as provided for in the Constitution. Amongst these grievances: Acting to treaty with Foreign Nations without consent of Congress, expenditure of resources to persecute migrant workers under guise of border security thereby depriving them of their inalienable rights, directing federal Agencies to collect information on classes of person without suspicion of wrong doing.

    The 41st through 43rd Presidents of the United States have willfully contravened the oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution.

    post script. Now do you understand why Trump is President elect?

  41. wendy davis permalink
    January 4, 2017

    @ ChéPasa: from my vantage point, neither i nor others are trying to ‘scapegoat’ stein as per your charges. sure, it would have been great to see her recount effort as altruistic, and by way of ‘improving democracy’. i voted for her. well, in all fairness, i voted for ajamu baraka (her third choice, no less, for Veep), who had tried to talk her out of the recount effort. but what i would have asked of her is to have given democracy a try in her own Green Party, which she clearly hadn’t. now one might want to see this as insider-bickering cum sausage-making, but i think it goes to the core of what the party was meant to have stood for.

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/11/28/the-stein-campaign-and-the-fight-for-green-party-independence/

    boatloads of prominent Greens signed a letter circulated by margaret flowers distancing themselves from the effort, noting that it seemed she was carrying water for the duopoly candidates, expressly the dems, iirc. (i think it was at consortium news) but how long have we known about the rubbish that voting machines bring to elections?

    i’ll put her petition to the WI EC in another comment, but srsly? she’s buying into the kinda/sorta truth from DHS and DNI about ‘who hacked the emails’ (with the subtext of: ‘which lost the election for clinton, handed it to Mr. T’)?

    i’ll stick the pdf in another comment so as not to trip this into moderation. i am glad at least to see baraka publishing again at BAR; he’s been silent since then…until now.

  42. wendy davis permalink
    January 4, 2017

    @ Ché Pasa: the WI petition: http://elections.wi.gov/sites/default/files/news/wisconsin_recount_petition_of_jill_stein_00268242_12391.pdf

    i gotta scoot; i’ve been borrowing mr. wd’s laptop for ten days, and the part i ordered came yesterday and fixed mine, and i’m waaay behind in my reading and whatnot. my best to you and miz ché.

  43. different clue permalink
    January 4, 2017

    @Fox Blew,

    The DemParty Leaders are Clintonite Shitobamacrats. They feel that Ellison is not a reliable Clintonite Shitobamacrat. They want a reliable Clintonite Shitobamacrat to be DNC Chair.

  44. atcooper permalink
    January 4, 2017

    Yes, the anti Semitic smear in an attempt to discredit Ellison was illuminating. Nothing new, I know, but I sure hope some Dem partisans are turned and radicalized because of it.

  45. Ché Pasa permalink
    January 4, 2017

    In other words, Jill Stein, by doing what she said she would do with regard to the recounts did a bad, bad thing. Got it.

    Look, I understand people have legitimate issues with Jill and the Greens — I have plenty of my own — but continuing to smear her over the recounts doesn’t acknowledge what the efforts conclusively showed: that it is impossible to verify the vote in this country, particularly in the states in question. We do not know and we cannot know whether the tally accurately reflects the votes that were allowed to be cast and counted.

    Smearing her does nothing to solve the electoral problems.

    Of course, that’s just one of a boatload of political/electoral issues this country refuses to face, and as far as I can tell, it’s one of many that cannot be solved through the political process. It can, however, be made worse. Just watch.

  46. Willy permalink
    January 4, 2017

    It’s a bit of a challenge to play the winners game without turning ‘establishment’. Not sure how I’d sell the concept of the neocons / neolibs being played as useful plutocrat tools, to the everyday disenfranchised voter. Start by looking like a Hollywood protagonist superman?

  47. atcooper permalink
    January 4, 2017

    The Occupy movement’s one percent rhetoric speaks in plainer language many of the points being made here. From what I can tell in my day to day, it’s working even if it’s too slow to my tastes

  48. Hugh permalink
    January 4, 2017

    Wendy, if I remember correctly, shadowstats just pumps up the unemployment rate by removing a change made back in the Bill Clinton Administration. There is no methodology behind the shadowstats number, just we’ll add x percent back to the rate now and forever.

    Once you let go of both the Democrats and Republicans, it is a lot easier to see that you can’t be a progressive and a member of the Establishment at the same time. What you can say about figures like Sanders and Ellison is that they have some reformist tendencies and use some progressive rhetoric, but both are part and parcel of the Establishment. It just goes to how anti-populist and elitist the Democratic party is that after a disastrous, and easily avoidable, electoral defeat, its hierarchy remains in place and overwhelmingly hostile to even the merest whiff of reform.

    Re the Trump parade, Trump wants to replace the departing SEC head Mary Jo White, Obama’s in the bag for Wall Street corporate lawyer pick, with Jay Clayton, an even more in the bag for Wall Street corporate lawyer. Trump wants to deregulate Wall Street even more, this despite Wall Street and the banks blowing up the financial system back in 2008 (Clayton, of course, helped negotiate their (Goldman’s, in particular) bailouts and his wife works at Goldman, so no conflicts, nope, no sirree /s) and the fact that the too big to fail are even bigger, more interconnected, and with, if anything, dicier exposures. As the saying goes, follow the money, and in Trump’s case, it keeps going back to the worst of the worst on Wall Street, almost all with ties to the great vampire squid itself. What I am seeing is not so much a parade as whistling past the graveyard because as we all know, Goldman Sachs which shafts its own clients and treats them like muppets really has the interests of ordinary Americans at heart. Well, it would anyway if A) it could distinguish between ordinary Americans and what Goldman execs crap out their ass and B) it had a heart, instead of a mouth full of suckers and an insatiable hunger.

  49. Willy permalink
    January 4, 2017

    @atcooper,

    Agree with the slow progress thing. Still, back in the day W’s wartime approvals did most surely and steadily drop his entire term. It’s interesting watching cult documentaries, especially the aha moments when they realized it was all crap.

    Seems ‘proving you’re right’ is almost directly opposite to ‘playing to win’. If integrity’s been your lifestyle it can be hard to grasp the different skill set, with one requiring integrity and the other taking advantage of it.

  50. wendy davis permalink
    January 4, 2017

    @ Ché Pasa: i hadn’t meant to piss you off on purpose, but i ‘get it’, i did. i thought maybe you hadn’t known those things, and they might have provided a bit of illumination.

    @ Hugh: thanks for explaining shadowstats in that context. ‘defeated but employable, given up’ was some part of it, irrc.

    for the charade: yes, when i got back online yesterday and read my emails ad newsletters, checked in w/ a couple librul sites for the zeitgeist, i was once again struck by the intersection of putin derangement syndrome and trump derangement syndrome. which are the neo-fascists again? oh, the tools O and the Ds have left him! (i won’t list them all, cuz you know them). but this piece at wsws sorta tells the dem accommodation story; big surprise, eh?

    http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/01/04/cong-j04.html

    and this one showed their collective hypocrisy even more:
    http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/01/03/cong-j03.html

    but i loved old souprpuss hedges’ opening paragraph in his newest polemic at truthdig:

    ““The final stages of capitalism, Karl Marx predicted, would be marked by global capital being unable to expand and generate profits at former levels. Capitalists would begin to consume the government along with the physical and social structures that sustained them. Democracy, social welfare, electoral participation, the common good and investment in public transportation, roads, bridges, utilities, industry, education, ecosystem protection and health care would be sacrificed to feed the mania for short-term profit. These assaults would destroy the host. This is the stage of late capitalism that Donald Trump represents.”

    er…aren’t we there already? as in: yeah, Mr. T might run the tble at the casino, but wasn’t it already over but the shouting?

    yeah, this might get put into moderation, but i need to get offline. sorry for any typos; needs must.

  51. atcooper permalink
    January 4, 2017

    @willy,

    That’s a hell of an insight, the proving you’re right vs playing to win. I’ve found faith is about the only thing that keeps me trying for integrity.

    Regarding your comments about Bush, and his falling support, part of the problem is we’ve moved into the secret wars part of the war in the Middle East. Or moved into another phase of secret wars depending on how you define the start and end of the war. The parallels with Vietnam are astonishing.

    I’ve been seeding the notion in other lefty circles that a way to wedge the Repubs on war mongering is to mention bringing back the draft. If we’re going to wage war, everyone must have skin in the game. Otherwise you get the calloused disregard we see from the professional classes.

    This would work, I have no doubt. It may be the Democratic types are too far gone to hear me. They can’t seem to see there are allies for a more humane international policy on the right. They are suffering too much from little man syndrome to even consider that wars with no real objectives and no public support are destroying the country.

    I’ve been fantasizing about splitting the Republicans since Trump started gaining traction, and now my hope is the Democratic Party destroys itself so there’s room again on the left.

  52. Shh permalink
    January 4, 2017

    @atcooper

    I’ve been thinking the Republicans did split with the tea party fragmenting the former alliance of factions that had been spiraling into chaos under the influence of the fundamentalist right. There’s been a lot of fractious tension in that conglomerate for years, but they know how to tow the line…or did. They’re now beginning to split on AIPAC and ALEC, so that’s something to hope for.

  53. Peter permalink
    January 4, 2017

    @WD

    While knotheads such as Hedges and others are ranting nonsense Glenn Greenwald is under attack for not bowing to the authority of the surveillance state or its quislings. He is now being singled out and branded as traitor for not being a true believer.

    Glenn is in the unusual position of having one powerful public figure on his side, Donald Trump, who today was referring to Julian Assange as a reliable intelligence source taking another shot at the Clintonite CIA’s liars.

  54. Willy permalink
    January 5, 2017

    @atcooper

    Having “skin in the game” seems to reach people more quickly and deeply than other ways. The greatest generation felt enough economic and wartime pain to where most wound up with a real need to avoid that stuff thereafter. Our current generation has lived relatively pain free and seem less sensitive that way. Yeah they saw 9-11 on TV, but did they ever leave a dust bowl to go storm some exploding beach overseas? Easy conditions probably makes coddled snowflakes soft targets for those kinds of manipulation. Of course the current situation won’t last the way things are going. Human plasticity in action I guess. Best way to turn a neocon into a pacifist: send em to war.

    These current Republicans – I like splitting wood, mostly because I know where to hit it. Maybe it’s getting easier with these wingnuts now that they don’t quite know which way to point their (what’s it called…) tribal signalling.

  55. atcooper permalink
    January 5, 2017

    Yes, exactly. A warrior’s job is to destroy the need for his job. It really is that simple. If folks are peddling perpetual war, I’m no friend to them. Shit, Rome had a hell of time once they started in on the merc thing.

    The done war is so cowardly I cannot even see straight regarding it.

    As a bonus, once the permanent war footing is gone, we might have a real shot at not importing the war home, aka the occasional police execution of a citizen, and the extensive, and paranoid surveillance state, etc.

  56. atcooper permalink
    January 5, 2017

    @shh

    I have to admit I have a huge blind spot regarding the tea party. The fundies, whom I know up close from having grown up around them, always struck me as the beards for the big money people, kinda like minority rights are for the Democratic Party.

    I’d originally hoped the Republicans would fold with the Dems taking their old slot with space for a new left party, but truth is, I’d take either. Wherever there’s a chance at strengthening labor.

    I’ve grown more flexiable, and much less partisan since Obama’s first term.

  57. Ché Pasa permalink
    January 5, 2017

    The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers… — Dick the Butcher, Henry VI, part II

    You can substitute politicians or oligarchs or their minions for Dick the Butcher’s lawyers, they all run together, don’t they? The point is that if a rebellion is to have any hope of success you have to choose the right targets.

    I agree with Ian that 2016 and its many freakish anomalies — political and otherwise — did not come out of a vacuum. It’s the culmination of a long cavalcade of actions and failures to act by the Rabble and Our Rulers.

    As Hugh says, we were given a shit sandwich to choose from this electoral cycle and bless their hearts, among those who were allowed to vote and had their votes counted (accurately or not) more voted against both major candidates than voted for either of them. That should be the significant take-away from last year’s election: the electorate preferred neither of them.

    Yet one half of the shit sandwich is slated to take office in a couple of weeks, and we’re told to accept it and celebrate. After all, the Clintons and the Bushes will be there with bells on. Yeesh.

    How about saying “No.”

    Those of us who are old enough have repeatedly been put through this sort of electoral nonsense, and too many of us have gone along with it as if there was nothing we could do about it. We’ve seen repeated examples of celebrity clowns elevated to high office including the presidency, as well as corrupt, divisive and deceptive political animals likewise elevated — sometimes literally without the consent of the governed — and though there are the usual grumblings about it, there has been a consistent acceptance of the unacceptable by enough of the Rabble for Our Rulers to maintain their grip on the rest of us. They believe sincerely there is nothing we can do that they need pay attention to. Now that one of their made-men is set to ascend and replace the mediation of the political class with direct rule by oligarchs — via tweet, ukase and diktat from the Winter Palace, apparently — there’s no longer any reason for them to pay any attention to us at all.

    We’re irrelevant to them.

    If now isn’t the time to say “No!” to this bullshit, when is it time?

    It has to start by delegitimizing authority, all authority. You can’t do that by raising up one half of the shit sandwich and calling it salvation. No. We’ve already passed the redemption phase with Obama, and it didn’t work out so well. You start in this case by delegitimizing the election itself, all up and down the line, Democrats and Republicans alike to tumbrels. You don’t do it by attacking messengers.

    The whole system is rotten to the core, and direct rule by clowns and oligarchs may seem to be the solution but it isn’t. It’s literally chaos for its own sake, with the hope among the ruling clique that somebody will come out ahead in the end. Whoever that may be, it won’t be us.

    We’ve been screwed for decades and we will continue to be screwed, harder and faster, until we say “no more,” and we act on it, stop going along with it. Stop defending it. Stop celebrating it.

    If not now, when?

  58. V. Arnold permalink
    January 5, 2017

    Ché Pasa
    January 5, 2017

    Impotent rant.
    Ask the question; what is the solution?
    IMO, there is no “viable” solution.
    The U.S. is lost, done, finished.
    Until that is understood; you’re fucked.
    Even if it is understood; you’re fucked.
    Leave, get out. Short of that, you’re fucked!
    End of story…

  59. Tom permalink
    January 5, 2017

    http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/04/politics/donald-trump-cia-intelligence-russia-assange/index.html

    The showdown is now about to start between Trump and the CIA.

    Popcorn for everyone.

  60. Some Guy permalink
    January 5, 2017

    It has certainly been striking how easily the establishment has found it – now that Trump has taken the Republican party out of its traditional role in the duopoly – to tell the Democratic wing what to say and what to talk about in order to take up the slack. It is as though 90% of the media, the twitter etc. are all just puppets for the blob.

    I write it like that and you say, ‘of course, what took you so long to figure it out’, and maybe that’s a fair response and certainly this has long been obviously true of the MSM, but I still think that a new level of blob control of the discussion has been forced out into the open by Trump here – with ‘left’ wing commenters almost unanimously falling in line to denounce Russia, praise the CIA, etc.

    A lot of commenters, Ian included it seems, put the Dem reaction down to not wanting to blame themselves for what happened and for sure that doesn’t hurt, but I suspect that if it was in the blob’s interests for them to blame themselves, they would. Most are not so much rationalizing as taking orders, although the fact the orders allow for rationalizing surely helps things along. Not that there is literally a group of people giving orders, just that the priorities are the deep state priorities, and the pundits just tag along. The effect in the short term is the same either way, but it’s useful to understand the motive force behind the outpouring of inanity we have seen since the election.

    The effect is similar to how Sanders threatening Clinton forced a number of Dem pundits (Krugman et al) to drop their masks and show their true face for a while.

    On a side note, on celebrities, I wonder when the celebrity mourners will figure out that due to the exponential growth in the number of celebrities over the past number of decades, and their subsequent aging, the growth rate in celebrity death is going to be astronomical for quite a while. On the one hand, I find their sad moaning about how the defining characteristic of an entire year of their own lives has been determined by the death of a few people they never met and know almost nothing about to be comical and entertaining. But on the other hand, it is already starting to get tedious and I assume it will get more so over time. Perhaps people will someday come to understand that their are a lot of celebrities and they don’t live forever, but I’m not holding my breath.

    But with celebrity worship, as with economic decline, as with political corruption, the train is on the track and rolling downhill with the force of a 1,000 fully loaded tank cars, at best we can hope to get a glimpse of where it is going and why and maybe take a few pennies off the tracks.

  61. different clue permalink
    January 5, 2017

    @Some Guy,

    I agree. There is more to the “Putin Diddit” then just a hundred million aggrieved and bereaved K(linton) K(oolaid) K(ult) members. They are the vast and seething herd of bellowing cattle. Who are the cowboys? Who is the Boss of the Outfit?

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