A self-identified socialist won 22 states.
He did FAR, FAR better than any left-wing candidate has in years. Yes, he lost, but he showed very clearly that the country IS changing.
He won super-majorities of young people.
The model under which I have been operating for some time, following Stirling Newberry, is that the US doesn’t have a real chance at change until 20-24, because older cohorts need to die and younger cohorts need to replace them.
I am uninterested in “convincing” most people who voted for Clinton of anything. They are not reachable. To reach them, a candidate like Bernie would have to compromise himself so far that he couldn’t do the right things upon getting into office.
This is not the 2000s or 90s. This is not the age of compromise. The fruits of neoliberalism, neoconservatism, and oligarchy are being reaped; the youngsters have now grown up and never known a good economy. Many barely remember a time when the US wasn’t at war.
Clinton or Trump will have their time. There will be another socialist candidate and another, whether called that or not. Odds are that either fascism or socialism will win the US. The conditions in the US make that most likely.
As for Clinton supporters, they won. That is reasonable. Most Democrats did want Clinton. More Republicans did want Trump–and most Independents (now the most left-leaning group in America) wanted Sanders.
The Democrats are the conservative party right now. They are about the status quo: Keep neo-liberaling, keep bombing and invading brown people’s countries, keep shoveling money to the rich.
Republicans under Trump are the right-wing populist party.
Clinton supporters were not Sanders to win, because Sanders could not be Sanders and win them.
Most of the worst catastrophes are already locked in. Acidification of the oceans, loss of essentially all fish stocks, far worse climate change than the current consensus models, and the rise of fascism, men-on-horseback, and radical leftists.
The time to cut that stuff of was the 2000s. Obama was the last chance, and Obama chose to bail out oligarchs.
So now we play it out. But Bernie has been a hopeful sign, a sign that the youngs have had enough. Whether they will stay that way, we will see. But I think they will, because they have little choice: They are not the children of prosperity like the Boomers–their backs are against the wall. They win, or their lives are garbage. Those are the stakes for them.
So we wait, and we see. But Bernie lost in a genuinely hopeful way, showing that a socialist is now viable in the US and that young people are massively against the status quo.
If Clinton becomes President she will kill and impoverish a lot more people than Sanders would have.
If Trump becomes President, well, Sanders was more likely to win a general election against him.
Bernie might be flawed, but he was significantly better than Clinton on almost every axis than Clinton.
If you are one of Clinton’s retainers, she will take care of you. ‘Grats.
If you are in the top 3 percent of the population, you should do well under her policies.
Everyone else will do badly under her policies, or no better than they would have under Bernie.
As for brown people overseas, well, no one who voted for Clinton actually gives a shit about whether they live, die, or suffer.
The EU is a trash fire. To see what the EU is about, you have only to see what they did to Greece, and what they are doing to the rest of the south.
Insane austerity policies have wrecked economies for no good reason other than a failed ideology and a deep-seated desire to give more money to the already-rich.
The EU may have been created to prevent a future European war, but the austerity policies it is pushing are fueling the rise of Catalonian independence, and of both the far left and the far (a.k.a. fascist) right. Now, I’m ok with the far left, in the European context, because so far all it has meant is Corbyn: A 1960s-style liberal, updated with social concerns.
The rise of the far right is rather more worrisome, however, since these lads tend to be nativists–not more than one step from neo-fascists and often less than that.
Austerity creates economic despair, and economic despair creates the breeding grounds for movements like fascism.
When I was about ten or so, I said to my father, who had grown up in the Great Depression, that I saw very little racism in Vancouver.
“Just wait till times are bad, “he said,” you’ll see plenty of racism then.”
Again, the EU is a trash fire. It started off liberal, in the best sense, and there is still plenty of good it does, but it is currently creating the conditions for a great deal of political violence and even war.
So, does that mean that Brits should vote leave?
Not necessarily. Depends on your pain tolerance.
While the EU is a trash fire, Britain isn’t in the Euro, which is the worst part about the EU. If Corbyn was Prime Minister, I’d say leave. Leave now!
But he isn’t. What the Conservatives will do under Cameron or Boris Johnson (or whomever, there are no “good” options for the next leader if Cameron steps down), is truly horrible. Even worse than what they are already doing.
As for the doomsayers: No, the world will not end if Britain leaves the EU. The fact that economists and pundits are screaming in unison that it will means nothing. Economists are trained seals who say what they are supposed to say. Most of them have been wrong about everything of significance related to the economy for their entire professional lives; why should we believe them now?
It’s all a trash fire. Of course, the people who benefit from the status quo want the status quo to continue and continue to trend the way it has been (which hasn’t been good for most ordinary Britons).
That doesn’t mean you should vote to leave. It doesn’t mean you should vote stay. It means they aren’t credible. What they say should not be listened to as anything but people squealing for the world to stay favorable to them.
If you leave the EU now, things will be worse than staying, not because of economic apocalypse but because the EU does have a fair number of good regulations and laws by which Conservatives will no longer be bound.
If you stay, and someone like Corbyn gets into power, he will be handicapped by the EU in the opposite direction.
International institutions in the age of neoliberalism exist mainly to further neo-liberal policies. This is true of the IMF, the World Bank, the WTO, and yes, it is true of the EU.
It’s all a trash fire, because, post-Bretton Woods, it was all changed or designed to be a trash fire (this is especially true of the Euro, which at least Britain dodged). Its purpose is to impoverish developed world workers and transfer money to the rich. I judge its purpose based on its results.
Vote as you will, but understand what is actually at stake.
- Despite warnings of regulators and experts, water departments in at least 33 cities used testing methods over the past decade that could underestimate lead found in drinking water.
- Officials in two major cities – Philadelphia and Chicago – asked employees to test water safety in their own homes.
- Two states – Michigan and New Hampshire – advised water departments to give themselves extra time to complete tests so that if lead contamination exceeded federal limits, officials could re-sample and remove results with high lead levels.
- Some cities denied knowledge of the locations of lead pipes, failed to sample the required number of homes with lead plumbing or refused to release lead pipe maps, claiming it was a security risk.
Straight up cheating was not uncommon:
At least 33 cities across 17 US states have used water testing “cheats” that potentially conceal dangerous levels of lead, a Guardian investigation launched in the wake of the toxic water crisis in Flint, Michigan, has found.
Of these cities, 21 used the same water testing methods that prompted criminal charges against three government employees in Flint over their role in one of the worst public health disasters in US history.
Lead poisoning is not a minor health problem. It can chop 20 points off someone’s IQ.
Straight up, this indicates cover-your-assdom from the highest to lowest levels, including regulators. No regulator worth its salt, who is doing their job, could have missed entire States and large cities cheating, because any regulator worth its salt does its own audits and testing. Only a fool believes the results handed to them by internal testing and audits. I’ve been on the internal side of regulation (in the life insurance industry) and companies cannot be trusted. Period.
Once you start concealing, you have to keep concealing. Because if something like lead contamination comes to light, figuring out where it is and why will include figuring out how long the water has been contaminated, how long you should have known about it, and how long you’ve been concealing it.
In many of these cities I’ll bet the concealment has been going on for decades, handed down from generation to generation of bureaucrat. Someone, when it was first discovered, didn’t want to go public and didn’t want to fix it, and from that point, the bureaucracy was locked in to their decision to keep cheating.
This doesn’t mean bureaucracies can’t run such systems; they were created in spite of the great objections of private industry, who also opposed municipal sewage for all they were worth. But it does mean you need to stay on top of it, and be willing to pay and be scrupulously honest about issues which matter.
I hope that those who have covered up are charged, and in cities where this has been going on for a long time, I hope investigators look back as far as necessary to charge those who covered up in the past.
This is a crucial point: Those who see Trump as “honest” do so because they think openly voicing bigotry is honesty https://t.co/De9yMjWOyp
— Jeet Heer (@HeerJeet) June 1, 2016
Right. Now, Bill Clinton, whom some call the “first Black President” signed a crime bill based on the myth of teen (black) superpredators, which included three strikes laws and a huge amount of money for local policing and prisons.
That crime bill was emulated and led directly and indirectly to huge incarceration of blacks, massive-over policing of black communities, and the destruction of black families.
What Bill Clinton DID, which Hillary Clinton supported, was terrible for African Americans. Absolutely devastating.
Now, no question, Donald Trump is saying shit important people aren’t supposed to say. I despise racism, and Donald is saying a lot of racist shit.
But the Clintons did stuff that terribly hurt poor black communities. Now, maybe Bill loved blacks but just happened to accidentally fuck them sideways. That’s certainly possible. I don’t know the man’s soul. But his actions towards blacks were terrible.
I don’t know if honest racism is better, in the sense that it makes racism more socially acceptable. But it does have the simple virtue of being honest and getting it out. American politics has been driven by racism since, well, forever. But there is a hypocritical stream of racist action and rhetoric from Nixon that has never ended.
It was all dog-whistle. Say “welfare moms” and wink, and voters knew you were saying blacks. Welfare Reform was also about punishing blacks (poor whites just got caught in the crossfire).
America’s economic history since the end of the post-war era can be read in racial terms. Blacks came to the city, whites fled to the suburbs, and enough of them switched votes to Republicans (the Reagan Democrats) to elect Reagan, in order to keep their suburban home prices up.
This is all of a piece.
Racism is stupid. It is contemptible. But few politicians have done more harm to blacks than Clinton or Mario Cuomo, the great Liberal governor with his three strikes law.
So I’m not going to get super-worked up that Trump is honestly saying what many think, and the attitudes which “liberal” politicians acted upon.
Most of us, when we were young, were taught history as a series of events, with the names of important men and women attached. In effect, we were taught the “Great Man” theory of history, that history is the result of the actions of great individuals.
Do the great matter? Do they make a difference?
Sometimes, I think.
In some cases, a person we call great fills a role someone else would have filled, and does it no better than anyone else would have. Sometimes they fill a role someone else would have filled and perform it so well it makes a huge difference. And sometimes they wrench history about, in a role someone else would not have filled.
Let us start with a man who filled a role someone else would have, but did it brilliantly, and it mattered.
The Revolution almost inevitably ended with a dictator. I don’t think, given the sort of revolution France had, that could have been avoided.
That it was Napoleon, one of the greatest generals in history, mattered. He didn’t have to be a great general to get the job, he had to be in the right place at the right time. A competent general could have gotten the job.
Napoleon almost never lost a battle. Other French generals lost often. That mattered. Napoleon, wherever he went, changed everything: from ending the Holy Roman Empire, to shattering various other bonds of feudalism, Napoleon changed Europe far, far beyond France. A man who lost even a few more battles than Napoleon did, wouldn’t have.
Let us take two modern great men who, I think, changed little. Start with Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook. Someone was going to win the “social friends” space. For a while it looked like it would be MySpace, and there were contenders before Facebook. Indeed, Facebook is not dominant in every country in this space.
All Zuckerberg did was win a space someone would have won. The details are different, sure, but not enough to really matter to anyone. Having won it he has done nothing particularly different anyone else would have done in that space.
Though still worshipped as a genius, I think Bill Gates is in the same category. MS DOS (in which I was an expert) was little different from any other OS that IBM could have chosen at the time. Windows (like the Macintosh) is just Xerox Park tech, which if Gates had not been around, would have been stolen/co-opted by someone else (aka. Jobs).
Gates was very good at creating a near-monopoly for a couple decades, but other businessmen in the same situation might well have done the same thing. Perhaps they wouldn’t have, and he made a difference. If so, that difference was negative, it seems to me.
If something is inevitable, someone will do it. The specific individual Who does it only matters if they are extraordinary. If they are just very good at what they do, well, someone else very good could have stepped up and the difference would have been minor.
I suspect this applies to a lot of earlier “Lords of Industry.” Ford, for example.
In the “inevitable” but it mattered who it was category I’d slot, say, Genghis Khan. He wasn’t the only one trying to unify the Mongols, but his degree of success rested on his own particular genius, which, oddly, was mainly that he was an extraordinary judge of ability and character in other men and women. Temujin’s generals and administrators were extraordinary, and he made loyal followers out of people he had been enemies with. Similar to Shaka (but much more succesfully since he didn’t have to face 19th century weapons), he was also able to turn his society into an extraordinarily efficient war machine.
So who came out of nowhere and changed the world? Who forged a position which wouldn’t have existed otherwise, then did something extraordinary with it?
I find it hard to think of anyone. In the intellectual sphere, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, for example, came out of a specific time and place where philosophers and teachers were very highly valued because they taught people how to argue. (Read Plato’s dialogues and tell me, for all his sneering at “sophists” he is not an amazing debater.)
Perhaps one can make a case for Newton, but Leibniz created calculus almost at the same time. Were the rest of his discoveries made much sooner than they otherwise would have been?
Or perhaps the great religious figures? Buddha, Christ, Confucius. Does a Buddha have to happen? Certainly the circumstances are there for one in the newly urbanized cities of northern India with their loss of faith in the old Vedic religion. Indeed, modern Hinduism really comes out of that period as well, for all they claim the Vedas they have little in common with that religion.
Someone would have done what Buddha did, but I think a strong argument exists that how well he did it, and how he did it matters.
So, what do my readers think? Who would you nominate as coming out of nowhere and changing the world? Who is the great one who did not fill a slot someone would have filled?
I have re-read John Ralston Saul’s Voltaire’s Bastards. But because I haven’t read it since it first came out in the early 90s, it was more like reading it for the first time.
For those who haven’t read it, Saul basically says that reason (rationality) has become un-moored from common sense, democracy, and purpose.
I think purpose is probably the core of the argument. Organizations, including government, parliaments, and so on, have become rational and forgotten the purpose of their existence.
Saul eviscerates the military—slow, ponderous, capable of winning only with overwhelming force, and usually not even then. Full of rational mediocrities and controlled by staff officers who squash any field officer capable of initiative or of winning battles without vast waste of men and material.
He eviscerates the arms trade–weapons sold for less than it costs to make them, non-capital goods that make up the largest manufacturing sector in the world, and completely irrational from the point-of-view of both the economy (guns being the paradigmatic drain on the economy) and from winning wars; selling weapons to everyone and their mother means your enemies know their weaknesses, something you should be trying to avoid.
He eviscerates the take-over of of cabinets and parliaments by the bureaucracy on one hand and the Prime Minister or President’s private advisors. “He who controls the briefing books controls the decisions,” and “…perhaps Ministers’ primary responsibility should be to decide on policy, not take prime responsibility for running a department they don’t and can’t run. That job is for bureaucrats.” (paraphrased).
He goes on to eviscerate economic management by bureaucrats, and the decline of capitalism, to note that every major improvement in human welfare (like, oh, sewage control) was opposed by the majority of owners. He eviscerates the confusion of actual capitalists with managers, rentiers, financiers, and landlords (despised by traditional capitalists).
On and on it rolls.
This is a fairly old book now. The examples are drawn from the 60s, 70s, and 80s. It is interesting that Saul states even then that the western world is in a concealed depression, and notes precisely when things went wrong (68-72).
It’s also somewhat infuriating. For a number of years, I found it difficult to read contemporary books on economics and politics because they would make me angry. I had echoes of that feeling reading Voltaire’s Bastards–I am, after all, old enough to remember, say, Reagan and what a disaster he was.
But I think the prime takeaway is really about purpose. Rationalization and reason do not provide purpose. They are tools to enact purposes decided other ways. When they become masters, they become about process. So we declare that corporations exist only to make a profit, which is deranged. We forget that armies exist to win wars (and deter wars from even happening), not to fumble around. We treat military officers as bureaucrats, which they cannot be if they are to win wars, because bureaucrats are shitty field officers (yes, yes, logistics, but those people should not be in charge).
Rationalization removes purpose. The economy exists to provide for the needs of people. Corporations were created to do things that increase the public good, making a profit is necessary but is not their purpose. Parliaments exists to debate policy, which they pretty much never do and cabinets are the prime policy making instrument, exactly because they are elected.
Saul’s evisceration of rational experts runs against the grain of our age, but is convincing. He notes how well rational bureaucracy did work, but notes how it has decayed and been corrupted. The “experts” have become corrupt, incompetent, or both. Yes, the economy has been fucked since the early 70s, and no, we haven’t fixed it. Incompetent? Corrupt?
Why not both?
This is a cry for purpose, for prudence, and for real democracy where elected officials (and not just two or three ministers, plus their staff) make actual decisions. It is a scream for a change in the role of ordinary citizens, for an end to secrecy, for treating citizens like adults (as opposed to infantalizing them).
It is an evisceration of the idea that reason by itself works. Reason is a tool, only one among many. It is not useful in all places and times, and it cannot provide purpose, ethics, or morality.
Reading this book made me angry in a very personal way, because I grew up and was educated by the remains of the last generation who believed in purpose: The organization had a job and that job was to do something. This extended even to mundane crap like insurance, the old timers believed in careful actuarial work and underwriting because they believed the company had a duty to be able to pay out benefits to people who were in trouble–someone whose breadwinner had died, who would be in poverty if the company failed.
Purpose. Government should see to it that its citizens are healthy, prosperous, and ethical. Militaries exist to win wars quickly and decisively. Parliaments are to debate what society should do. Bureaucracies exist to carry out those decisions. Capitalists? Their role is to produce more capital, which is not money, but real productive capacity.
Voltaire’s Bastards isn’t a short book, and while Saul is erudite, it isn’t a very pleasant book to read.
But it’s a book worth reading.
Guest Post by Hugh
Hillary Clinton doesn’t just make mistakes, she makes big mistakes, the kind that cost a lot of other people their lives and leave ruin and chaos in her wake. She doubles down on them and persists in them long after virtually everyone else has come to realize that they were mistakes. And then she repeats them.
Clinton voted for the Iraq War. During the next 12 years, her principal criticism of the war was not that it was a mistake but that she could do it better. This is another defining characteristic of the Clinton way of doing things. She doesn’t recognize that mistakes are to be avoided. Her argument, and it is a really strange one, is that she, because of her RECORD and EXPERIENCE, can do these mistakes BETTER. Just contemplate for a moment the sheer cluelessness of someone who thinks it is a plus to argue that they make better mistakes.
And it wasn’t just that. During those 12 years, she angrily attacked, derided, and arrogantly dismissed those who did not agree with the war, you know, the people who got it right. Finally, in June 2014, 12 years (OK, 11 years and 8 months) after her vote for the Iraq AUMF in October 2002, she revised her position on the war in typically legalistic Clintonesque fashion. She did so in a in a well controlled venue, a book with the wildly inappropriate title Hard Choices (since the hard choice was opposing the war) where she couldn’t be cross-examined and for which she got a multi-million dollar advance. With the Clintons, it is always about the benjamins.
Anyway, here is her non-explanatory explanation and non-apology apology:
I thought I had acted in good faith and made the best decision I could with the information I had. And I wasn’t alone in getting it wrong. But I still got it wrong. Plain and simple.
This is like an engineer designing a plane that keeps crashing killing all on board. After years of denying that there was any problem, she comes out and says that her calculations were correct but the numbers she was given were wrong. Oh, and lots of other people made the same mistake.
What Clinton’s statement overlooks, of course, is that that plenty of people pointed out the dangers which she chose to ignore. Instead she slammed and belittled those who tried to avert the Iraq disaster. Nor is there anything about why it took her 12 years to even partially understand the nature of her screw up or long after virtually every other being on the planet with a pulse. Only grifters like the Clintons would then take this monumental, impossibly bad example of self-serving, poor judgment and seek to spin it into the gold cloth of “foreign policy experience” or even more ludicrously a Hard Choice.
What her statement on the Iraq War does illustrate, however, is another Clinton tactic. Issue a statement (in legalese) on one of her many bad decisions and then move on as if the issue has forever been answered and is now irrevocably closed.
I have gone on at some length on this one subject, but have only scratched the surface of just how bad Hillary Clinton is. You can find similar examples with Libya, Syria, the TPP, and the Keystone pipeline, to name a few. Beyond these, there is Hillary Clinton and the abuse of power with her email server. There is the corrupt Hillary Clinton with her speeches to Wall Street and the Clinton Global Initiative. There is the blatantly lying in your face Hillary Clinton paid for by Wall Street who tells the rubes she’s going to fight for them, that she is going to create jobs for them. There is the “I’m so experienced” Hillary Clinton who’s solution to the economy is to turn it over to her grifter husband Bill.
For redemption, there must be both the awareness of error and the desire to atone. Both of these acts are totally alien to Hillary Clinton, and Bill too, for that matter. They are grifters. And the first rule of the con is never to admit the con. The second is to take the money and run. It is in the con, not redemption, that you really see what makes the Clintons tick.
So, some years ago, Gawker outed Peter Thiel as gay. To the best of my knowledge, there was no public interest case to be made: Thiel was not funding anti-gay initiatives or some such.
They also published Hulk Hogan’s sex tape and did various other scummy things.
Thiel, being a billionaire, decided to take them out. What he did was put together a team of lawyers, and find cases against Gawker to fund.
There has been a lot of hand-wringing over this. The argument is that Thiel is using his money to destroy a media outlet (and jobs!) and that this is a bad thing, because any billionaire could do the same thing to any outlet.
I have little time for this argument.
The American legal system is only for the rich, when it comes to civil law. One of the plaintiffs against Gawker is a multi-millionaire, and he still couldn’t afford the suit on his own.
What Thiel is doing is making it possible for people who have a good case that the law has been broken, and they have been harmed, to actually use the legal system.
The argument these people are making is that those who aren’t rich shouldn’t be able to avail themselves of the legal system.
Gawker can afford lawyers. If Thiel wasn’t backing these plaintiffs, many of them would have to settle for smaller, out-of-court settlements, and, in the case of the guy who who refused insurance money, justice against Gawker. The plaintiffs would not have gotten their day in the court, because they are poor, and Gawker can outspend them.
Gawker is losing these cases not just because Thiel is funding them, but because they were in the wrong. They did something illegal, and in this case, something which should be illegal.
Hulk Hogan’s sex tape was “public interest”?
So, no, I have little sympathy here. Don’t do what Gawker did. And stop with the hysteria.
The real story here, so far as I’m concerned, is that the civil law system in the US only works if you have the sort of money a billionaire has.
The problem isn’t that Thiel is making it work for a few people; the problem is it only works for a few people.
One of the great problems of political life is the question of whether politicians and senior bureaucrats can change. Can they learn from their experiences? Can they become more ethical?
We know pretty well that becoming a powerful politician can destroy a person’s ethical moorings: They wind up doing things that, as a private citizen without power, they considered abominable.
Apologists for a current government always call this becoming “practical,” but I’ll posit that this is rarely so, except in personal terms–the principled politician is generally taken care of quite well for giving up his or her principles. (You can see this in John Kerry’s career, if you care.)
The more important question is: Can a politician with bad judgement and terrible ethics learn?
For example,suppose you were in favor of the Iraq war. Can you be trusted if you say, “It was a mistake?” If you were in favor of Welfare Reform (which hurt the weakest and least powerful people in America terribly), same.
The simple answer is that a politician must prove they have learned through their actions.
Hillary Clinton is not credible saying she’s learned from the Iraq fiasco, because she was also for Libya. She didn’t learn the practical lesson (destroying a regime is easy, not having the country become a failed state is hard); nor did she learn the ethical lesson (don’t attack countries who haven’t attacked you).
Clinton is not credible, because her actions have not changed. She’d be for the next Iraq in a heartbeat and find reasons to justify such an action. Her rhetoric against Russia and Putin might as well be from the Cold War and is a great threat to world peace (and survival).
But the lesson here is larger: Don’t pay attention to what politicians say, pay attention to what they do. Look at their record. If they want to say they’ve changed, you need something concrete to prove that.
And if you’re looking for someone who you know you can trust, look for them to have taken hits for their beliefs. Sherrod Brown came into the House a left-wing champion, but when he ran for the Senate he voted for torture because he felt he needed to in order to win.
Not trustworthy. Does not actually believe in what they say when the chips are down.
Some compromises are necessary in legislative careers, no question. But there are lines a person of integrity won’t cross. Those lines differ by belief system, but if someone crosses the lines of your belief system, they aren’t one of your people. They aren’t a leader of your ideological faction, whatever that is.