The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Dems Take the House: What It Means

Nancy Pelosi

Ok, this is good news–


back in 2006, the Democrats took the House under an unpopular Republican President.

The Democratic leader was, as today, Nancy Pelosi.

She did very very little.

Some things did not get passed that would have if Republicans held the House. She did not go after Bush or try to block him in any significant way.

This is what, I expect, she will do this time. This is who she is and what she believes in. She has already said she will not go after Republicans the way they went after Democrats.

So, good news, but please don’t expect very much. Pelosi is a centrist, leading a centrist party, who finds Trump’s policies distasteful, but finds vigorous opposition even more distasteful. She does not believe in fighting right-wingers.

Unrequited good news: The re-enfranchisement of Florida felons. That will likely put Florida solidly Dem in the next election.

(Also, in popular vote terms, this was a wave election, but gerrymandering and the “great sort” mean the seats don’t translate.)

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The Mid-Terms


In Flanders Field, by John McRae


  1. Herman


    I think you are probably right but I will play devil’s advocate for a moment and say that this time might be different from 2006 for a number of reasons.

    First, there seems to be a lot more anger at Trump than at George W. Bush. As bad as Bush was he had a kind of folksy charm and was considered a “normal” president. He even had a little bit of remaining “war president” shine from 9/11 although that was clearly declining. Trump on the other hand is seen as a freakish boor and a potential dictator. His supporters are viewed as irredeemable fascists and not just greedy conservatives or backward religious voters. Public rhetoric seems more heated now than in 2006. People seem angrier and more stressed out. Social media has definitely enhanced the anger and radicalization factor.

    Second, we are living in a post-Great Recession world and even though the economy has improved for ordinary people since the crash I think the fundamentals of the economy are weaker now than in 2006. Household debt is at an all-time high. New jobs are often unstable. Most of the new jobs created in the recovery are low-paying. Young people are saddled with atrocious amounts of student debt. Many people never really recovered from the Great Recession and there is likely a large pool of hidden unemployed people who are not counted in the official employment figures. I think we are likely to see a recession in the near future and this time the fallout could be worse because the fundamentals of our economy are weaker.

    Third, social factors are much worse now than in 2006. Drug abuse and overdose deaths are up. Suicide rates are up. Alcoholism is up. Depression, anxiety and other mental health problems are up. Homelessness is up. Climate change is bearing down on us. In some areas crime and violence have gotten worse. Mass shootings are more common. The country is in worse shape now than in 2006.

    All of these factors might push the Democrats to do more to oppose Trump and the Republicans this time around. I don’t think it will happen but I think it is possible because the problems of this country continue to mount and I don’t think we can just go back to 2000s-style neoliberalism. The Democrats will probably try but it might not work this time.

  2. NR

    Pelosi is a problem, I agree, but she is definitely not the only problem. The Democratic House majority will be dependent on 10-15 members from conservative-leaning districts, and the party leadership has shown in the past that they either can’t or won’t enforce discipline over those members. My expectations are pretty low for this House to do anything.

  3. different clue

    It is unfortunate that so many Clintobamaform Democrats have won House elections. There are many names for them, but I will suggest the name “Catfood Democrat”. They believe in destroying Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid just like the Clintons and Obama believe in destroying these programs . . . so that the revenue streams can all be privatised and Wall Streetified.

    They will conspire with the House Republicans and the McConnell Senate to achieve the Grand Catfood Bargain which President Obama conspired his hardest to achieve against Social Security. If one of those Clintonite Sh*tobamacrats had been running in my district, I would have voted against it one way or another.

    Pelosi remains the same economic treasonist against America she has always been. She will try to support more Free Trade Treason Agreements. She will lead the effort to undercut Trump’s fitful sabotage of the International Free Trade Conspiracy. She supported NAFTA, MFN for China, and WTO membership “for” America. She will support TTP 2.0, TTIP, and every other Free Trade Treason agreement which anyone proposes.

    I was hoping we would have begun a purification process against the Catfood Clintonites and begun disinfecting the Democratic Party down to a core of old legacy Social Security Democrats and new rising SanderSocial Democrats. I was hoping for the rise of a “Left Gingrich” Democratic Minority in the House which would use Gingrich methods against the Republican Majority. But it is not to be.

    I think the Democrats will betray Lower Class Majority America so comprehensively that Trump will win his next election by a Nixon-in-72 landslide

    By the way, these same Democrats are the anti-Russianitic racist anti-Russianites who blame Putin for spoiling Hillary’s coronation. They will definitely raise the pre-war and cold-war tension with Russia.

    This Catfood Clintonite victory is a tragedy for Lower Class America and a disaster for what little is left of world peace.

  4. Plenue

    I look forward to the Dems using their newfound power to boldly and resolutely…continue to approve Trump’s judicial nominees and give him all the surveillance powers and military funding he asks for.


    The idea that Trump is a fascist is dumb, cynical propaganda deployed by the Democrats as a ploy to get votes. None of the party leaders actually believes it. Many voters might, but the Dems have an impressive record of not paying the slightest attention to what their constituents want.

  5. @Plenue
    The Democrats control the House, which has nothing to do with approving judicial nominees. That would be the Senate, which is still controlled by the Republicans.

    One thing that will be different than the aftermath of 2006 is that this House will paralyze the nation’s governance with useless and divisive “investigations” into practically everything. Included will be a resurrection of the Kavanaugh debacle which, even if it managed to convict him of high school “sexual misconduct,” would not remove him from the bench.

  6. On the other hand, Maxine Waters will now be chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

  7. Bill, if the agenda of the party which dominates the legislature is fascist, I’ll take obstructionism.

  8. Plenue

    @Bill H

    Yes, I’m aware. My point is that the Democrats have an extremely poor record of actually #resisting, even when it cost them nothing (and they didn’t run the risk of actually achieving anything). I don’t expect things to much different now, only just how complicit they are will become more apparent now that they have some ability to really onstruct.

    I expect they’ll go after his taxes, if only to have something new to replace Russiagate, and they’ll do some token blocking on lesser issues here and there. But I fully expect when the time comes for Trump to invade his first country, or something equally horrific, the Dems in Congress will either support him, or else say and do nothing of substance when he runs around them and does it with Executive Power.

  9. While I would have welcomed a Republican victory, such a victory would probably have reinforced Trump’s accommodation to the Republican side of the swamp. Now he will have to accommodate himself more to the Democratic side of the swamp. This might be a good thing in some areas, such as with healthcare, but I’m mostly dubious. Both sides of the swamp serve the plutocrats, first and foremost (see Gilens and Page).

    Trump lacks vision, he has a low political IQ, he says a lot of stupid, alienating stuff, and trusted swamp creatures, especially of the Republican side, too much. Insofar as this election was a referendum on Trump, Trump basically got what he deserved. The country consists of more people than the rabid fan base that show up at his rallies, to hear basically the same speech that Candidate Trump kept repeating in 2016, and then kept repeating as President.

    I think Trump HAS to get some of this, now. However, I’m skeptical that Trump will adjust radically enough to become anywhere near the sort of transformative figure he might of been. His rabid fanbase – who are as clueless as Trump is about expanding his base by fighting for a more populist agenda – are of no help. I expect them to put most all blame on Democrats and the media, perhaps a little bit of blame on Trump, and not blame themselves, at all. After all, didn’t they cheer ever louder at Trump rallies?

    It’d be much healthier for them to channel Shakespeare:

    “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
    But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”

  10. Things are gonna’ get uglier before they get pretty.

  11. Hugh

    The Democrats don’t stand for anything and are willing to fight for even less. Well they will fight for the rich but that’s about it. They won’t fight for you or me.

    All you need to know about Nancy Pelosi is encapsulated in her infamous 2007 dismissal of critics of her failure to seriously oppose the Iraq war: “We are leaders, they are advocates.” Pelosi embodies the contempt that Democratic officeholders have for their base. And at 78, she epitomizes the geriatric nature of the party. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t care that she is 78. I care that her ideas are 78.

    I think the Democratically controlled House will tie the Administration in knots by investigating the hell out of it. Trump is a crook and has been a not terribly clever crook all his life. And the class of people he attracts and has filled his Administration with are crooks too. Hard as it is to believe, even dumber than him. So it will be a target rich environment. And Trump-wise there will be a lot of Russian connections because he has been money laundering money from Russian oligarchs through his properties for years.

    Our country, and the world, have real problems, existential level problems. What I don’t get is why so many people tie their hopes to, and believe in Trump or Pelosi, the Republicans or the Democrats, when far from solving these problems they, if anything, are only making them worse.

  12. Hugh

    I caught a few minutes of MSNBC’s Morning Joe this morning. It was about all I could stomach. They were all in their full-on Establishment mode. Joe Scarborough was lambasting “bloggers on the left” who think the Senate should be abolished. Well, it should be. It is, like our Constitution, our courts, our gerrymandered House, the Electoral College, and massive voter suppression highly anti-democratic.

    It is important to remember that the majority of the US population live in just nine states. That is just over half the country is represented by 18 Senators while something under half has 82. Or to look at it another way, the 26 states with the lowest population, comprising a Senate majority of 52, contain only 17.8% of the US population. This is nuts and resembles the rotten boroughs that plagued the British Parliament into the 19th century. There can be no pretense of equal representation in the face of such electoral inequalities.

    The primary goal of the Democrats was to take back the House, and they did this. But they effectively threw a lot of other close races by only “discovering” and challenging voter suppression techniques that have been going on for years in the final days before the election and in once again doing so little to GOTV.

  13. Hugh

    Not one but two comments in moderation. I’m on a roll.

  14. Tom

    Republican Dennis Hof won his race for a Nevada House Seat despite being dead for a month.

    He would be the third person to win a race despite being dead.

  15. Will

    A very bad outcome.

    The status quo Democrats can now stifle any populist inklings and claim a mandate for doing so. And they can add some congressional investigations to get the idiotic “Russia! Russia! Russia!” chant restarted for another couple years.

    The status quo Republicans can point to losses and try to strongarm out the populist portions of Trump’s agenda. And we can look forward to scores of prominent “serious people” on tv and radio telling us all how very bad he is and pointing to the very reasons that Trump won in these outposts of civilization that they still don’t understand at all.

    In other words this election is an excuse to change nothing of substance. Gads…

  16. In the Land of Farmers

    I woke up this morning and I was still poor, disabled, and unable to find a healthy place to live.

    What does it mean that hope is as hollow as fear?
    Hope and fear are both phantoms
    that arise from thinking of the self.
    When we don’t see the self as self,
    what do we have to fear?

    See the world as your self.
    Have faith in the way things are.
    Love the world as your self;
    then you can care for all things.

    -Dao De Ching

  17. Heliopause

    The Ds will be unable to advance any positive agenda so we can expect some votes that are for show (e.g. $15 minimum wage that will go nowhere), hearings, and major wrangling over budgetary issues. The Rs won’t be able to do quite so many stupid and destructive things, that’s the best takeaway.

    One thing I’m curious to see is if Trump decides to bomb somewhere in the next two years and whether the House will attempt to do anything about it. Congress has never shown a spine in the past in this regard but there is such animus against Trump that maybe this time they will.

    The Rs will actually increase their Senate majority, which presumably means there will be less drama in getting reactionary appointees through, so that’s the good news from their perspective.

  18. Willy

    If even Idaho, Nebraska and Utah voted to expand Medicaid, maybe Pelosi can figure out what the people want. If even Kansas had reversed their failed theoretical tax horseshit, maybe Pelosi can figure out what the people want. What the people want, is for somebody to fight for things proven to work, and against things proven to fail.

  19. rangoon78

    As Hugh pointed out: “The U.S. Senate was designed to over-represent small states, but only recently has that bias been a Republican advantage. During the mid-20th century, the GOP regularly elected senators from large states such as California, Illinois, and New York. But during the past half-century, as a result of the GOP’s dominance of small states and loss of big states, the party has consistently held a higher share of Senate seats than the share of American citizens who vote for its candidates.”

  20. jo6pac

    nancy p. will led by following the same old plan. nancy p. is repug light.

    same as it ever was

  21. Will

    Willy : “If even Idaho, Nebraska and Utah voted to expand Medicaid, maybe Pelosi can figure out what the people want….”

    Keep the faith brother, but I have my doubts.

    joe6pac: “…..nancy p. is repug light.”

    Hmmm. I’ve been hearing the terms repug light and RINO (and the like) for a long time. A long, long, long, long, long….. long time. Joe I’ve got a question: At what point do you just say “That is who the (insert the word Democratic or Republican here) Party is. Unfortunately that does not agree with the citizenry of the nation.”

    I would offer that this would explain a lot. The fact that both parties routinely thwart the will of the average US citizen on a whole lot of issues in order to maintain their ~ahem~ shall we say economically strategic position.


  22. ponderer

    I’m afraid you are wrong on this one Ian. No I don’t think Pelosi is going to do anything different. It will be the same disinterested cruelty as always. The progressives didn’t do very well which will embolden the Catfood Democrats (love this new label) to close ranks. That’s bad for progressives, but not anything new. The danger is that Russia, Russia, Russia! is the only thing the establishment knows how to do to get rid of Trump in 2020. We are in for a witch hunt, its the only thing the Dems can do without irritating their (monnied) base, while still appealing to their voters.

    Now that we move on to 2020, with the Dem’s one trick pony stoking more and more anti-Russia sentiment. Trump only has two ways to combat that politically. Pick a fight with someone else, like Iran, and punish Russia even above and beyond current levels. Note, this isn’t a bad outcome for Trump politically, its a god send really, 2 more years of false, unsubstantiated accusations will only get the Republicans out to vote. They put him in the role he loves to be in, and I would go so far as to say, guarantee’s a Trump win in 2020. Americans like a divided government. With Congress already divided, there’s less reason to remove Trump.

    The danger so many seem to be missing is that there isn’t a rational alternative for Trump to distance himself from Russia. He either acquiesces to more provocations (via NATO or in Syria) against Russia or he starts a war with Iran. Ian just wrote an post on what a disaster that would be and on how Trump has not (can not have) even a small semblance of being pro Russian. That was yesterday, what about after the next independent prosecutor? So what is the other option for Trump? I only see one outcome of Pelosi back in charge of Congress and that is War. It won’t even be the kind of unjust, aggressive war she needs to vote for which she has shown she has no problem doing. Who is going to walk this down, deescalate the strained relationships between nations we’ve stupidly ratcheted up so that the MIC can boost the economy? The fact our POTUS “sells” weapons to other countries and have for some time should have made people think a little harder about where we are.

    If everyone in D.C. benefits from increasing conflicts with little personal risk, and great political benefits what do you expect to happen? The Russians have already, repeatedly said they are preparing for War because they think we are preparing for A War (and we probably are). Like Iraq and Afghanistan we’ll tut tut the massive loss of life, but not enough to stop supporting our favorite political party. We’ll complain about the environment, taxes, the politics of the clueless Others, whether deplorable or liberals. Right up to the point where it taps our front door. War with Iran or Russia is going to stop all that though. It’s going to knock on your front door unlike we’ve seen in generations and we’re going to find out first hand why War is so terrible.

    There is a huge disconnect between the (mostly western) public and the effects of their decisions. Bad choices often hurt us personally but there is a big difference between choosing the wrong set of politics and losing some income, liberties, etc over a period of years or decades and having a mob break down your door to rape and kill your family. Our accumulation of Hubris and entitlement was always going to end some time, I just hoped I’d be long gone.

  23. Willy

    So we’re not being represented very well by those we vote for (the Pelosis are among the wealthiest of congressional families). She seems to hold a few progressive positions, seemingly, but also not enough fight against swamp creatures. By design? Who knows.

    For the time being, it seems easier to go around these so-called elected leaders, the way they did in Idaho, Nebraska and Utah, for at least some things.

  24. Hugh

    Putin is a dictator who Khashoggis his opponents on a regular basis. The oligarchs he protects and promotes have looted Russia to such an extent that Putin can not afford to spend on his military and do the domestic spending he needs to do and has put off too long. The situation is made worse by the sanctions Putin’s belligerence have cost the Russian economy. This puts him in a bind and limits his options.

    A couple of things to keep in mind are that the US military and the US economy dwarf those of Russia. This remains true even with all our problems and our stupendously bad leadership. So in the great scheme of things it is more important for Russia to get long with us than it is for us to get along with Putin.

    Putin has consistently chosen policies which isolate Russia. We need to understand that this is not a bug but a feature. And it is not just about nationalism. Nationalism is a sub-text. Keeping Russia isolated, especially from the West, is a cornerstone of his dictatorship. It creates a bogeyman he can lay his failures off on, but even more importantly it makes him the indispensable man, the one person who can rule and keep Russia together.

    While this is good for Putin personally, there is an incredible downside for Russia. What happens if Putin gets in a helicopter or his personal jet and it crashes, he falls off a horse, or strokes out? There is no second act, no plan B. Russia destabilizes and in a big way. All the divisions that Putin could paper over re-assert themselves. All the fantasies about re-establishing a new Russian Empire evaporate. For us but also the Chinese, it creates problems with how to deal with a failing state with lots of nukes. While this will create concerns, it will likely not be existential. For the Russians themselves however it will be devastating. Just some things to keep in mind.

  25. Hugh

    Trump’s populism is fake. Populists don’t give two trillion dollar tax cuts to the rich and the corporations they own. They don’t kowtow to the whited sepulchres of the religious right. They don’t nominate reactionary judges who will defend the wealth of the few against the rights of the many. They won’t posture and then allow North Korea to go ahead and build more nukes and better rockets that can hit American cities. They don’t blather about walls instead of going after employers who hire illegal immigrants. And they don’t go around with majority negative approval ratings.

  26. Plenue


    This is your mind on MSNBC.

  27. Willy

    I”m starting to think that these people, regardless of colors, stripes, pet policies, rerun rallies or controversial tweets, will always protect the core business, oligarchic neoliberalism. Maybe that’s the point of all the noise they make. Distract the wee folks.

    And now Sessions fired. An act of a political genius, or of a toddler-brained buffoon? I’m betting on the latter. What’s he up to now?

  28. Willy


    So populists give two trillion dollar tax cuts to the rich and the corporations they own? They kowtow to the whited sepulchres of the religious right? They nominate reactionary judges who will defend the wealth of the few against the rights of the many? They posture and then allow rogue nations to go ahead and build more nukes and better rockets that can hit American cities? They blather about walls instead of going after employers who hire illegal immigrants? And they go around with majority negative approval ratings?

    Apparently my dictionary is broken

  29. Tom W Harris

    Never fear! Steny Hoyer’s here to take Nancy’s place:

    Just shoot me now.

  30. Plenue


    I was referring to the rant about Putin and his ‘imperialism’.

  31. Plenue

    Though on the issue of Trump, yes, his populism is fake. Transparently so. And the reason he’s able to get away with it is because the Democrats have even less to offer on that front. In fact it’s clear they’re completely opposed to even the slightest form of genuine, left-wing economic populism that would completely pull the rug out from under Trump.

    Saying Trump and the GOP are horrible isn’t saying much of anything. We all already know that. The answer isn’t do just blindly vote blue. Going that route you just get more gentile, slightly less repugnant Republicans. The wars and growing wealth inequality and stagnant wages and shit healthcare and looting banks etc etc etc, still keep happening.

  32. Tom

    And Sessions is now fired. Russiagate will now have the plug pulled.

  33. different clue

    On the bright side, three Catfood Democrat Senators lost their re-election bids. So the Democratic Party is just that little bit less polluted.

    Thank God for small bright sides.

  34. Bill Hicks

    This is great news for Trump since he largely governs on the domestic side via Executive Order anyway. But now he’ll get to point to an aging, elitist, out-of-touch liberal politician (remind you of anybody?) and claim that everything that goes wrong is because she is thwarting him.

    But don’t take my word for it, Trump himself was musing about how he’d like to see Pelosi back as Speaker. He knows a political gift when he sees one.

  35. Hugh

    I agree with different clue. Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota, Joe Donnelly in Indiana, and Claire McCaskill in Missouri lost. Bill Nelson in Florida probably lost. Jon Tester in Montana and Joe Manchin in West Virginia won. Angus King in Maine also won. All of these are essentially Trump Democrats, except King who is independent but caucuses with the Democrats. So I guess he would be a Trump independent. They are all a waste of skin. But they are indicative of the Democratic party’s preference to run the most conservative candidate possible even when in many of these states a Bernie Sanders type candidate probably would have won. Even if these guys had all won and the Democrats had taken control of the Senate, they would have sabotaged any progressive agenda, and the Democratic party leadership would cheerfully have let them.

    Last night I talked to a die hard Trump supporter. It gave me a headache. This is someone who is being screwed over by Trump as much as anyone. To say that his world view is incoherent and fact free would be charitable. The thing that is scary about him is that Trump doesn’t have to lie to him. He can screw this guy over with impunity. He could even tell this guy he was screwing him over and this guy would invent explanations and defenses to excuse Trump and blame Obama or even Clinton (Bill or Hillary). He is a Trump dream. He self-propagandizes.

    This guy is white, working class, and getting older. I couldn’t help thinking what goes around, comes around. Our political system is highly undemocratic. The Republicans are increasingly older, more rural, and beneficiaries/exploiters of this lack of democracy, but the demographics really are against them. And they have seriously pissed off a lot of people. So when the demographics start kicking in, and we can already see them coming in places like Georgia, Florida, and Texas, they won’t manifest as a tilt but as tipping points. As gerrymandering and voter suppression are reversed, as urban areas even in rural states increase, the ways that a minority party and a minority group (rural white males) have managed to retain disproportionate political power will be stripped away, and there will be no recovery from that. Rather than build an alliance with the current and coming majority, they have done their utmost to disenfranchise it. In the near future, that majority won’t need them, they will have gained nothing from Trump and the Republicans, and they won’t just be feeling isolated and marginalized, they will be isolated and marginalized. What goes around comes around.

  36. Mallam

    Complete denial to say a “Bernie Sanders” type would win in those states. How are people still in denial about this crap? These people are propagandized by non-stop hate radio and state television in Fox News. They are literally the worst people in the world. What unites them all is hatred of people who aren’t like them, cultural resentment, and grievance politics against blacks, immigrants, gays, and a desire that women be chattel. You aren’t going to win them back: they like what Trump has done to them, they enjoy it, because they get to feel culturally superior and see a boot stomping on the faces of people they hate. They like to be lied to because those lies piss off the people they hate.

    You want to win them back in order to pass “New Deal” style programs? Ok: abandon the current Democratic coalition and run racist candidates in Republican primaries who want to deport/kill/maim immigrants and gays. They’ll vote for you en masse and won’t give a shit if you support tax cuts for billionaires or if you want to put those billonaires’ heads on spikes, so long as they get to participate in ritualized hatred of people they hate.

  37. Mallam

    I’m also glad to see people are happy for Republican dominance in the Senate because the “moderates lost” and therefore Social Security and Medicare are safe, as if they would have agreed to pass such cuts (they wouldn’t). Good luck, we are going to need it, particularly when the the courts begin to rule Social Security and Medicare, minimum wage and child labor laws, and environmental laws unconstitutional. But you get to feel good for your purity. Just another flip side of the Trump coalition: ritualized hatred of people you hate in the minority. Except we don’t have counter-majoritarian institutions to prop you up like the rural white racists.

  38. bruce wilder

    The wars and growing wealth inequality and stagnant wages and shit healthcare and looting banks etc etc etc, still keep happening.


    I tend to think almost all voters are like Hugh’s maddeningly obdurate “die-hard Trump” supporter. Heck, I think Hugh is like the guy who gave him a headache. People pick up political opinions from the stream of plutocrat-approved babble that floats thru the various layers of political discourse, from teevee to social media to spam and repeat some.

    American politics, as has been shown in careful work by political scientists, is remarkably unresponsive in matters of policy substance to mass views or interests. Oh sure, there is an outrage culture that thrives on Trump tweets among many other feedstocks, but mostly voting is meaningless and pointless as far as control of governance is concerned. People vote at random: the vote is all noise and no signal, because voters are not voting to hold accountable politicians for policy. Most people do not know from policy. People are voting — if they vote at all, and large numbers only cheerlead the boob tube or ignore politics altogether — in response to manipulation and in response to heavy filters placed on available information and ideas.

    The sneaking awareness that we are being manipulated feeds a degree of paranoia, but also a cognitive weariness that manifests as ignorance and a dulled sense that anything matters, combined with a diffuse pessimism.

    I suppose I come to these observations from a point of deep alienation from politics that follows on from a near-lifetime of partisan cheerleading (for Democrats in my case).

    For a long time, I specialized in the incisive wake-up call style of meme. I like to think people can come to reason their way to agreement on a few basic points and subsequently act in concert. Corruption scandals in politics rest on the expectation that people generally will tend to agree that certain instances of ruthless conduct or negligence for personal and private gain are reprehensible. The reaction to corruption scandals is an instance of how representative democracy governs the governors. There is some basic, vestigial form of control at work in the concerted reaction of the public to a scandal. But, it is also something that can manipulated or dulled by apathy. Lots of Democrats have trouble seeing Hillary Clinton as corrupt and irresponsible, though she has been both and rather openly so. The same people who see Hillary as “normal” want an explanation for the anthropological curiosity of support for Trump: what are those people thinking?

    Well, they are not thinking. None of us are.

    We are scarcely participating in politics at all, at least not as actors. We are, at best, re-actors. The manipulated. The un-organized.

    I look at Nancy Pelosi and I see her age. She has been doing this for a long time without much in the way of an effective challenge from below, and there was no challenge this time either. Top-down works. But more than that, this is a politics of spokesmodel politicians who do not seek power for a base of constituents, but just a well-paid role in the pageant. Pelosi will not do much because politicians are not trying to be powerful, they are seeking to be instruments of the powerful (the powerful are not the voting public in this system).

  39. ponderer

    Hugh’s Trump Supporter sounds like every Obama, Clinton, Bush, and Reagan supporter I’ve talked to. Pretty much any partisan who has been sold on the Red or Blue team dynamic doesn’t care what their candidates do, or what the facts are. As soon as some one identifies with a political party, reason and decency go out the window.

    Why in the world would a mass murdering psychopath save your Social Security? Obama had a kill list, but we were told it was all part of his 11th dimensional chess strategy. Now he’s collecting on his work for Wall Street and Middle Eastern Despots, there’s, surprisingly, no talking about how all that worked out for us. But Trump isn’t a real populist! So what, none of them are populists! The same people that “see through.” Trump were head over heals not two years ago for someone who decided that murdering American’s without trial, based on mere suspicions was a good idea. He set the precedent, now its Trumps to use (ok it started with Clinton but its not like assassination is new, we just have better tools).

    Do you really think that’s the Party (corporate party) a reasonable individual would want in charge of environmental law, child labor, medicare, and social security? There isn’t a decent person who will be persuaded to support one group of lieing, murdering asshole’s over another group of lieing, murdering assholes. Decent people don’t support lieing, murdering assholes no matter the color of their tie.

    Make no mistake, its the partisans of both parties who got us into this mess by not holding to account their own politicians even the base standards of decency. Those arguments no longer hold any water. That’s why more people are independent than identify with a political party. How about proving to the world just what great guys and gals your tribe is, THEN, complaining when we don’t fall in line.

  40. Willy

    Partisanship is a necessary evil. People hardwired for it have formed the ‘ballast’ of human societies throughout human history. If it wasn’t so we’d be more like cats.

    I disagree that all partisans are blind tribalists devoid of reason. Most people really do project whatever has worked for them personally, out onto the rest of the world. But it’s less than half of all people who are incapable of insight into why they do what they do. That would mean that most of this wacky crew
    are faking it.

    For most commenters here, our free-thinking Korean counterparts are the ones in the back with the Joe Bauers expressions on their faces.

    Most politicians (outside of the humanist or martyr flavors) don’t like our kind. Like Kim Jong-whatever, many of our own democratically-elected or appointed political elites were once former dictators of some sort. Every corporation is some form of dictatorship, and many other orgs as well. Dictators usually get there because they know how to get there and not because they deserve to get there. Trump should be a classic poster boy for this sort of thing. Dictators want to be able to manipulate enough of the masses into tribal groupthink that a critical mass tipping point is created whereby the rest have to fall into line to avoid punishment of some kind by the former.

    It sucks but that’s the way it is. Discussions about this system, or fine tuning that system, have to take into account not only the Iron Law of Oligarchy, but that a large chunk of the population is driven to try and survive best by kissing Dear Leader ass, and doesn’t know it. We may be very hard to reason with them. It’s up to the Joe Bauers among us to figure out how to reverse-influence this dynamic without winding up in some form of gulag, be it shunning by our own tribe or a real gulag.

    I appreciate the “Century of the Self” recommendation. Does anybody have a recommendation for how to anti-influence Dear Leader lies without winding up in some form of gulag? It would involve herding those who need to move in herds.

  41. ponderer


    Respectfully, partisanship is not a Necessary Evil. According to Gallop 41% of people identify as Independents which is greater than those who identify as either Democrats or Republicans. Logically, if 41% of people can survive without being part of either political party, then partisanship cannot be necessary.

    “I disagree that all partisans are blind tribalists devoid of reason. Most people really do project whatever has worked for them personally, out onto the rest of the world.”
    Projecting what has worked for you personally onto the world is not reasonable. My personal finances do nothing to prepare me for the intricacies of a Brexit for instance. I’d agree with you that humans do simplify things, often too much, to easier hold the idea in their heads. That doesn’t make it necessary nor desirable. Some issues can’t be solved that way. It’s like using your bathwater to forecast global climate change on deep sea streams.
    If we define tribalist as someone who identifies strongly with a particular group, and blind as irrational then blind tribalists, irrational adherence to a particular group is exactly what partisans are.
    In the case of the Koreans crying for a dictator is not irrational (necessary for survival), neither is a political party apparatchik kowtowing to special interests that will benefit them monetarily. Those guys aren’t actually partisans, they are actors of various degree’s performing for their self interests. It’s the people voting for Democrats or Republicans, based on party lines, without getting anything in return and never holding anyone to account that are the problem.

  42. Willy

    Respectfully, partisanship is not a Necessary Evil.

    Partisanship (or tribalism) was necessary for the success of the human species (or as others may see it, that species domination of the planet). The problem is, we’re still stuck with that hardwiring, but in vastly varying degrees. It’s easier for some people to break free from their natures with a little introspection, than it is for others in spite of lots of external nurturing. (tabla rasa psychology makes no sense to me)

    Logically, if 41% of people can survive without being part of either political party, then partisanship cannot be necessary.

    The polls I’m seeing, about health care, climate change, neoliberalism, and other important issues seem to reflect that people are increasingly becoming more rational (as I see rationality). And maybe communal thinking is making a comeback. It would be nice if a new third tribe, a ‘more rational tribe’, could outvote the blind-faith SJWs and the blind-faith authoritarians for more rational best-fit populist solutions.

    Projecting what has worked for you personally onto the world is not reasonable.

    Anybody believing that most people are always reasonable need to get out more. My evangelical in-law (a physician) talks Jesus, but walks Ayn Rand / neocon. My dock worker in-law talks libertarian, but walks well-paid union member. What works for them is what they get out of their immediate respective tribes, and not their extended tribes of AMA or ILWU. Makes no sense to me either. I believe you are talking about reasonable people who can see bigger pictures than those two can. I attempted to explain their psychology in my first comment.

    It’s the people voting for Democrats or Republicans, based on party lines, without getting anything in return and never holding anyone to account that are the problem.

    Represent.Us is good. The hard part is getting partisans to watch simple 6 minute videos
    and having that little experience make a dent in their tribalism.

    Personally, I’d have no problem with a loyal opposition, as long as they made honest attempts at seeing my point of view, with ‘best fit’ solution being the primary goal.

  43. Plenue


    Since the polling shows that things like Medicare for All have majority public support, yeah, I expect Sander’s type candidates would do well, provided the Democratic Party would actually give them support and not fight them every step of the way.

    Of course, since you completely refuse to engage with the idea that people voted for Trump based on economics, the notion people would vote for a left candidate on the same thing is like water off a duck’s back to you.

    Also, fear-mongering about how Republicans want to destroy Social Security and Medicare is rather undermined by the fact that both Bill Clinton and Obama attempted to privatize SS via deals with the GOP. And Obama actively sabotaged even a public option in the ACA, to say nothing of Medicare for All, which ObamaCare was intended to cockblock.

  44. Hugh

    The die hard Trump supporter I was talking with doesn’t believe in climate change either. But our talk was instructive. I don’t know how many news stories I’ve seen where people who have been screwed over by Trump say they are being hurt by what he is doing (farmers in his trade wars, workers whose jobs were shipped to Mexico, hurricane victims, etc.) say they still support him. I never really understood the dynamic until I talked with this guy. They don’t care that they are being lied to. They don’t care that they are being betrayed. It all gets re-arranged to fit into their narrative. What I learned is that there are some people who can’t be reached.

    I believe that we are in a pre-revolutionary period. From a revolutionary perspective, it is important to know that such people exist and in significant numbers. These are people who will side with their oppressors. It’s the kind of thing you want to know in a revolution and its aftermath.

    I wanted to say I agree with Mallam. This guy would not support a Bernie Sanders candidate. But some Trump supporters would. Add these to some independents, urbanites, Democrats, and minorities and you have a viable Sanders coalition even in a deep red Trump state.

    I agree with ponderer and bruce wilder, despite the ad hominem. Trump die hards are not the only ones beyond reach. The difference is that the Trump die hards are beyond reach globally. Progressives, Democrats, independents are reachable on most economic and social issues. They tend to go off the reservation when it comes to foreign affairs. And as pointed out with certain people like Hillary and Obama.

  45. Did no one watch Nancy Pelosi at the press conference yesterday? That performance should have set off major alarm bells. She repeatedly drifted into silence in the middle of a sentence, paused with a blank stare into the camera, then resumed with an “Oh, yes” once she recaptured the thread of what she was talking about. Except that a couple of times she resumed with a different topic than she had started the sentence with.

  46. NR

    That Pelosi speech was the weirdest thing I’ve seen since the last Trump speech I watched.

  47. Willy

    Hugh, others, is that Represent.Us video any good?

    Would it be a worthwhile experiment to have our nutball friends/family watch that Represent.Us video and then discuss their reactions?

  48. different clue

    . . . ( Uh oh – somebody needs a hug. And some milk and a warm blanket).

  49. Plenue


    “Let’s hear it more for preexisting medical conditions!”

    I very much suspect there is something literally wrong with Nancy Pelosi’s brain. Dementia or something.

  50. Willy

    She’s only 78. They were wheeling ole Strom into the Capitol long after he even knew where the hell he was. Hopefully the handlers who get to her first will be progressives.

  51. bruce wilder

    Pelosi is 78.

    Bernie is 77.

    Steny Hoyer is 79.

    Joe Biden will be 76 in a couple weeks.

    Donald is 72, Hillary 71.

    This really is not “normal”.

    National leadership requires physical energy and a degree of intellectual acuity that is simply not available to people over 70. Over 60 in most people.

    A healthy politics is performed by people in their forties and fifties.

  52. Herman

    On the age thing, I don’t think it matters that much. Just to give one example, Konrad Adenauer was 73 when he became chancellor of West Germany in 1949 and remained chancellor until he was 87 and yet he presided over the German economic miracle and that country’s transition to democracy.

    Age is not the issue here. Instead, it is a combination of underlying structural factors, ideology, bad decisions and a number of destabilizing events (for example 9/11 and the Great Recession) that have brought us to this point.

    Trust me, there are plenty of terrible youngsters who will be filling up political offices soon. There are some positive signs that younger Americans have better politics than older Americans but on the other hand they said the same thing about the Baby Boomers. Generational change alone won’t save us.

  53. S Brennan

    Hugh’s “Trump voter” sounds suspiciously similar to Thomas Friedman’s fictional cab driver…

    Cab Driver: “is war with Iran a good idea..yeah..sure mister…that’d be the perfect fix for our nation crumbling infrastructure…oh yeah..that’ll be thirty bucks…you can quote me on that”

    Thomas Friedman: “Thanks buddy, I always appreciate putting words into somebody’s mouth so I won’t sound like I pulled it out of my posterior….here’s few extra for the trouble”

  54. nihil obstet

    On age — there are a few individuals who can be sharp and energetic into late old age, but they are few. They’re outliers. It indicates a serious problem when a significant proportion of the leadership is old.

  55. Mallam

    Hugh: agreed there are some who are reachable. They’re not ALL lost, but it depends on the state. When Manchin retires, West Virginia is gone from the Senate unless you run Theodore Bilbo. Montana can be reached, but it requires a specific type of candidate like Jon Tester. The current governor there would likely win in 2022. But those really rural states with no anchor of urban/suburban areas are gone. Ohio is a red state and it ain’t coming back if Sherrod Brown leaves (who is NOT moderate but still got destroyed in rural areas) because it’s dying and the cities and suburbs can not overcome rural turnout that swamps at 75-25% with 50% turnout. Kansas might be reachable because it’s been governed by far right ideologues who have destroyed the state, but any change wouldn’t be permanent and voters have short memories. Michigan hopefully can start trending back after it passed a massive voting rights referendum which automatically registers voters. Pennsylvania looks strongest, but again, the rural areas are trending the wrong way — it has Philly and Pittsburgh with lots of suburbs to anchor it. Missouri can be won if you run a candidate like Jason Kander, but it’s trending away. Indiana I don’t think is sprinting red like some places, but it’s not hopeful. Wisconsin BARELY got rid of Scott Walker, and after he destroyed their university system and unions will need to be rebuilt. The reason Texas and Georgia are trending Democratic is because they are growing and have a lot of college educated people.

    The best chances for winning any of these rural areas back is establishing satellite colleges and universities to revitalize dying rural areas and bring in some commerce. Spend money on rural electrification and broadband, build hospitals and schools. Ideally, you’d also want a lot of immigration to help their economic situation, but that’s what’s causing them to vote Republican. Hard to thread that needle. But it can’t be done with “economic populism, kill the rich” like idiots here want. You will lose and lose badly, completely turning off suburban voters you now need to counter the racist rural areas. It’s a balancing act and you can’t take any part of the coalition for granted or it falls apart to a racist demagogue who has no shame.

  56. Mallam

    Republican candidates are being punished for Trump’s sexism

    New data shows above that in 2018 — just like 2016 — there was a strong correlation for being racist and voting Republican (a correlation that was not pronounced in 2008 or 2012). However, therewasn’t as much of a correlation with “sexism” and voting Republicans in Congress in 2016 (there was one for presidential vote). In 2018, that’s changing. In other words, Trump is making the Republicans more like him. Deny the facts all you want, but this is reality: racism correlated with voting Republican in 2016 and 2018. Now sexism correlated as well.

  57. Willy

    Trump is making the Republicans more like him.

    Not all of them course, but this offers some proof of what Hugh’s talking about. The more “principled” conservatives, such as Will, Mueller, Kristol, Steele… wind up discarded by the loyal base, even vilified. You’d almost think they view all of this as being like a fantasy politics game or something. Well, except for that part with all the blind faith reasoners in their ranks. Maybe fan pol games should include Jesus.

  58. Mallam

    They still have some feet in reality because they don’t watch Fox all day and they’re educated/exposed to actually existing liberals/lefts. But political partisanship being what it is, expect them to get more “liberal” in their political positions. Trump is pushing the country as a whole to be more open to immigration, but the rural areas who love him are running in the opposite direction and will soon start fielding literal Nazis and white nationalists (some like Corey Stewart in Virginia are already being fielded, but they can’t win in a state like VA). It’s definitely a realignment period, and like Gramsci wrote of the fascist periods before, “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.”

  59. Will

    “They are literally the worst people in the world….”

    I can’t think of a reason in the world why rural voters would vote for someone who thumbs their nose at people like you. Can you?


  60. Mallam

    Trump thumbs his nose at them every fucking day and they love it. No one has more contempt for them than him. But he hates the people they hate, and they love him for it.

  61. Ché Pasa

    It’s looking more and more like the Democratic wave/tsunami was real this time around, and it would be even yuuuuger if it weren’t for gerrymandering, voter suppression, counting anomalies and all sorts of systemic issues that bedevil US elections. We do not have free and fair (and verifiable) elections in this country and never really have had. They are designed to be jiggered, to favor wealth and privilege, to ensure that the Rabble never rise far enough to rule on their own account.

    The Dems may be sclerotic, but the Rs need to have their plug pulled, as they’ve been on life-support long enough (Thanks Obama! who literally revived an all but dead R party in 2009 and subsequently).

    We, the Rabble, should not see the D party as the hope and home of a leftist/progressive future –because it’s not and it won’t be, Nancy Pelosi running the House or not. No, the D party is conservative, always has been (why do you think it was the Slavery Party back in the day?) and will remain so till the end of time, “Democratic Socialists” in their midst or no.

    They will most often favor wealth and privilege over you’n’me, no matter what. Sometimes that can work out OK for the Lower Orders, but often it will not. The Party will fret very little or not at all over it.

    What they have long sought to do is establish some sort of rational order that can/will endure through thick and thin (cf: the Roosevelt era) and ultimately allow for — if not provide — a better future for most people. The way they have gone about it lately has been counterproductive, however, by basically enabling a crabbed, exclusive club to rule, dominated by Rs (many of whom became Ds of convenience) who see the “better” future in the narrowest terms possible.

    You can call it neo-liberalism but what it’s meant on the ground is “complexification” of everything to the point of exasperation. Complexity with no perceivable benefit for most people, and for too many, it’s complexity for the sake of eliminating benefits, reducing living standards and trapping the Lower Orders in permanent debt and despair.

    The complexity of the ACA is a prime example, but complexity runs through practically everything we are expected or forced to live with today. Dems have been prime movers in that direction, and to hear Nancy yap about the future, hey, it’s just going to get worse.

    On the other hand, the R vision of the future is extinction, pure and simple.

    The voters chose complexity over that, at least where they had a choice and their votes were counted.

    If we really want something better than this, we need to think beyond the current parties and systems.

  62. Willy

    Speaking about complexity, I remember a cartoon which had bib-overall union leaders frowning at pin stripe intellectuals telling them to “Just trust us, trickle down works”. Sometimes things really are what they seem. Sometimes complex rationalizations, intellectualizations, dogmaticizations… are employed because the stuff being pushed just plain doesn’t work.

    It’s not hard to understand why there’s a rural conservative – urban liberal divide. It’s not hard to understand why the divide intensifies with increasing economic and cultural stresses. But supporting obviously corrupt assholes in power not caring if they solve problems, let alone abide by rule of law, is beyond me. That kind of leadership doesn’t work. In a better world racist MAGAs would be locked into a cage fight with weeping Stalin babushkas, for the amusement of those wishing to actually solve serious global problems as well as they can be solved.

    Political dogma doesn’t work. Placing hope into revolutionaries who wind up making everybody wear their underwear on the outside doesn’t work. Pray as we might, God never ever shows up in some meaningful way (not that there’s anything wrong with that). So that doesn’t work.

    My advice is that we keep it simple stupid, and put more ‘faith’ into things that work or have worked in the past. That would mean supporting (and keeping honest) institutions like science, academia, and most groups humanitarian. What else is there?

  63. Herman

    Voting should be seen as only one tool in your political toolbox. Voting matters but it is not everything and should be seen as strategic, not something you put your heart and soul into. That is why the “lesser of two evils” argument makes a certain amount of sense when you only have two realistic options. Think of it as a form of self-defense and as a way to buy time to develop your own forces.

    The only way we will get out of this mess is if ordinary working people build their own institutions outside of the control of big plutocratic donors, elite professional class do-gooders and the two major political parties. There was a time when the United States was covered with civic organizations. They didn’t always uphold humanistic values (see the KKK and other nativist/racist organizations) but these institutions did provide vehicles for ordinary Americans to put pressure on the elite class.

    As Robert Putnam and others have noted, American civic life has largely collapsed. The American population is atomized and powerless. We increasing limit our activism to occasional protests and posting on social media. This is not enough. In order to have power working people need to rebuild a culture of solidarity and organizational power. Unfortunately, I am not sure if modern Americans are capable of self-organization. We are much more individualistic now and I don’t think many Americans have the right attitude or values to develop countervailing institutions.

  64. Plenue


    Really? Because it looks to me like Trump is actually doing stuff for those people you claim he thumbs his nose at constantly.

  65. different clue

    I would note that Mallam doubles down on his Nazi Racist Deplorables theory. I would also note that Mallam carefully dodges my-and-others’ mention of the fact that the difference-making margin of victory for Trump came from two-time-Obama-voting people in Wisconsin and Michigan as well as the negative-default margin of victory reverse-conferred upon Trump by virtue of numbers of black citizens who had voted for Obama, seen themselves betrayed economically, and decided ” been there, done that, no more” when promised more-of-the-same by Clinton.

    The DemParty Leadership is devoted to the theory of the “Obama Coalition” of ethnic and gender Identy Groups who will default-award victory to the Democrats by growing their populati0ns more and more and more. It is Mallam’s devotion to this theory of how to proceed which makes me think that he/she is a Clintonite Obamazoid.

    Here is a prediction from a Naked Capitalism commenter who predicts what the NeoLiberal wing of the DemParty will do based on this theory.

    Livius Drusus
    November 10, 2018 at 8:50 am
    Re: The 2018 Map Looked A Lot Like 2012 … And That Got Me Thinking About 2020.

    The Rust Belt will definitely be the most important region in 2020 and it is the best route to victory for the Democrats as Silver points out. This is good news for left-populists because it means that their issues will be front and center in 2020. Democrats will have to deal with the trade issue, for example, if they hope to beat Trump in 2020. Bernie Sanders is clearly the best candidate to win in 2020 because he would likely beat Trump in the Rust Belt states.

    The neoliberals in the party are big on the Sunbelt strategy become it reflects the “demography is destiny” theory and their preference for well-educated, professional-class voters who are congregating in Sunbelt cities to work in fields like research and development. Unions are also much weaker in the Sunbelt. The region is pretty much a neoliberal dreamland. It reflects the upstairs-downstairs nature of modern center-left politics represented by a coalition of impoverished minority groups and affluent professional-class liberals.

    The 2020 Democratic primary could be the big showdown between two visions of progressive politics. One a cross-racial alliance of working-class people represented by the Sanders wing of the party and the other the kind of upstairs-downstairs coalition that most neoliberals want. I expect 2020 to be an extremely contentious primary, maybe even more contentious than 2016 since the factions have hardened considerably since then.

    * * * * * * * * * *

    Social Justice Poseurs will continue to undermine and obstruct SanderSocial Democrats in favor of their own Identy WokeWashing politics. We will see how that plays out.

    And we WILL see, too. Because the DemParty Leadership remains devoted to Identy Group WokeWashing as a cover under which to advance by stealth their Catfood Agenda against our survival benefits as now exist, let alone attempting any genuine New Deal Restoration.

  66. Forecasting Intelligence

    Greer’s is forecasting a likely Trump victory in 2020 because the Democrats are the party of the “resistance” and the status quo, whilst Trump’s Republicans are the party of meaningful economic and political change.

    That change includes trade tariffs to bring back jobs to the heartlands, deregulating the regulatory state and so allowing small to medium businesses to thrive and enforcing immigration laws (and restricting the numbers of illegal migrants coming into America).

    All of the above policy measures away from the neoliberal status quo is leading to a boom in the Rust Belt and paving the way for a likely Trump victory in 2020.

    The sooner the Democrats, and people on this forum, get that, the better.

  67. Ché Pasa

    A “boom in the rust belt”?? Ha ha. Dream on. What’s happening is a worsening of structural conditions, not an improvement. Instead of a repudiation of neoliberalism, there’s been an acceleration toward the economic and political goals of a tiny elite whose interests never have and never will align with those of the discarded and dispossessed.

  68. Willy

    There’s a Doomsday Clock. There could be a Liars Tally or a Kleptocrat Pie Chart… something with some street cred behind it like Atomic Scientists.

  69. Billikin

    First, the Blue Wave is real. It is not a large as some may have prophesied or hoped, in no small part because Trump made a successful pushback against it, upping his approval rating very quickly. (The president’s approval rating matters in mid-term elections.) Nonetheless, the Democrats flipped at least 35 House seats more than the Republicans flipped, a record since Watergate, and produced a number of close calls.

    The pendulum of US politics, which began a swing from Left to Right some four decades ago, has begun to swing the other way. Maybe the swing back began around 2012, maybe in 2017. The swing may be comprised in small flips, but the overall swing is more gradual. It is likely to pass through the center instead of leaping over it. Pelosi is right-center, maybe the Democratic Party is now left-center, I can’t say.

    Perhaps a right-center House is more of a threat to Trump than one that is more to the left. A more left-leaning House would give Trump more to push back against. A centrist House that emphasizes law and order and aims to undermine Trump, starting with his cabinet and former cabinet members, may be more successful against him than one that launches a frontal assault. Trump has made Washington more of a swamp instead of draining it. Independents may compare an unhinged rightist Trump with a reasonable centrist Democratic Party and opt for the latter in 2020.

    Trump is not a fascist, merely a fascist admirer who slept with Mein Kampf on his bedside table, and kowtows to dictators. He is perhaps close to Mussolini, but Mussolini was a better politician. Trump certainly understands the fascist cult of loyalty to the leader and has adopted the Nazi tactic of frequent rallies of the faithful. He has also adopted the dictatorial tactic of attacking the free press.

  70. bruce wilder

    @ Billikin and others

    Is the Blue Wave “real”? Of course, but the split in the Democratic Party is real, too.

    The Democratic Party establishment doubled down in this election on its strategy of courting the suburbs, creating an urban and coastal coalition based on funding from the financial sector, ideological leadership from the professional and technical classes (the 9.9%) and the capacity of so-called identity politics to motivate minority voting blocs. There is no room in the structural logic of this coalition (a coalition of money plus votes) for a politics or policy agenda of economic populism to aid what we used to call the “working class”. To please the donor base and the class of professionals and technicals who make up their thought leaders, they have to limit themselves to issues of symbolic importance to the identitarian electoral blocs and talk in left-neoliberal or left-neocon cant that keeps people ignorant of what their politics is about. Their ideological narratives have to “other” the working classes that they can no longer serve or care about, because they cannot do policy that would help those people or even acknowledge responsibility for their plight. They have to protect the policies of globalization and financialization that drive the economies of the coastal cities (at the expense of the de-industrializing Rust Belt and much of rural America). The Democrats, as led by this established coalition, has a difficult needle to thread in its competition with the Republicans, though the deep commitment of the Republican establishment to plutocracy and its reliance for voters on religious conservatives and vote suppression make the Democratic strategy a plausible winner at the polls.

  71. bruce wilder

    Aligning one’s self with the Democratic Party as it exists, or aligning one’s self with the Party as we might wish it to be while not acknowledging what it is, requires an otherwise decent person to make themselves blind to the political reality. This is what ideology does, I suppose: it expresses a an otherwise reprehensible class interest while keeping those self-interested motives hidden from our moral sense behind socially-validated rationalizations and narratives. Being an expression of class interest, we do get support from others for socially-constructed “views” of this kind. The unwisdom of crowds?

    There is a lot of pressure from the political news media and the journalism of opinion to adopt ideological narratives of our current politics that make little to no sense. Disturbingly, many of these senseless narratives are being fed to people who make up the self-identified centre-left.

    The Russia, Russia, Russia narrative of a Watergate Redux was always a transparent (well, I thought it was transparent) attempt to gin up teevee ratings without talking about the substantive reasons Clinton lost the election in states where status quo policy on trade and financialization have done so much damage, or the details of Clinton’s deliberate circumvention of campaign finance laws that did so much damage to the Democratic Party as an institution, et cetera. The narrative of unreacheable deplorable racists, beyond all reason, serves a similar purpose of psychological projection and deflection.

    The American news media is concentrated in a system of advertising-support and corporate networks that place very heavy filters on what any of us see and hear in the way of news reporting and opinion. And, as Herman observed above, we don’t have the bottom-up social networks that might give social support for resisting the flow.

    If anything, it may be getting worse. Facebook and Twitter are using such right-wing stalwarts as the Atlantic Council and the Weekly Standard as fact checkers and gatekeepers on authenticity.

    I, personally, do not find Trump fascinating, so I am a bit detached from the addictive nature of Trump news. I actually do not find him much more repulsive than I often found George W. Bush or Barack Obama in his smugly superior lying and rhetorical vacuousness. But, the tendentious narratives built around support for Obama (e.g. 11-dimensional chess, Republicans made him do it, etc) never seemed to me as reckless and irresponsible and ignorant of precedent and norms as the narratives built around hostility to Trump. Bill Maher the other day affected outrage that Trump congratulated Putin on his re-election and complained that Trump met Putin in secret. (me: and this is different from past practice how?) Maybe that’s our end-of-empire era when no one seems to have any perspective on how things work or what is going wrong, because so much of the establishment is feeding off their interest in monopolizing control so as to profit from the going-wrong part. E.g. perpetual war, financialization of everything.

    Still, I am actually shocked on the now rare occasions I see CNN just how unrelentingly hostile they are to Trump.

    Some powerful faction of corporate America really, really hates Trump. I understand why I hate Trump, but I am not sure I quite grasp why they hate him. They don’t hate Trump because he fails to deliver for the formerly working “working class” with immigration reform or trade war. That is an aspect of American politics and realignment that I would really like to understand better. Not being a corporate apparatchik or plutocrat myself, I cannot investigate by introspection.

    I am wondering if other commenters here have any insight??? I know the current line is that journalists are under attack because journalists are professionals and Trump is a fascist, but, here in reality, what is going on on the actual CNN? The reality where CNN that barely has any journalistic standards beyond avoiding libel suits.

  72. different clue


    The Catfood Democrats did their best to make it a Blue Dog Wave. They will try their best to keep the wave Blue-Dog going forward.

    The Catfood Democrats will remain the most vicious and anti-principled enemies that the SanderSocial Democrat wannabes will face going forward. They will deploy every form of Identy-Group WokeWash dogwhistling they can to suppress every SanderSocial Democrat who tries to raise his/her head in a primary challenge.

  73. Hugh

    Trump lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million to one of the worse Democratic candidates in history. Since then he has pissed off a lot more people a lot, including a fair number of Republicans. A majority of Americans have a negative view of him. So the one thing we should stop talking about is Trump’s “popularity”. The only way he won the first time was due to the highly rigged, anti-democratic nature of our political process, and again against a dreadful candidate. The chief argument for Trump winning a second term is, however, that. That as improbable as it was the first time, in a political environment as corrupt and decayed as ours, it might happen again.

    As for farm subsidies to soften the effects of Trump’s unthought through trade wars, it was an election year ploy. It’s a one off and won’t replace the markets American farmers are afraid of losing permanently.

  74. different clue

    @NR and Plenue,

    I watched that Pelosi press-speech. I sat through all 38 minutes of it. I got the feeling that even though she dropped ( and then picked back up) a thread or three here and there, and she slipped and stumbled ( and then recovered) now and then, she struck me as being mentally mostly-all-there mostly all-the-time mostly.

    So what made her speech so overall-disatisfying? I got the sense that she was gripped by Total Fear. Of what? Of being “not liked” by the Storm Trumpers. Her whole affect silently screamed “please don’t hit me”. It seemed to me that that repressed and contained abject fear is what made her hesitant and tentative and begging and cringing for forgiveness-in-advance of the House daring to fulfill some small jot and tittle of its Constitutional Function if it is driven into a corner where it has no other choice.

  75. different clue

    And yes, I now begin to think there “may” be a House Impeachment against Trump. Why? Because Trump the Troll will keep trolling and baiting and insulting and waving his “Richard” in Congress’s face to the extent that Congress will be driven to attempt an Andrew Johnson impeachment against Trashy Trump. Which will of course lose in the Senate.

    And he will run on that failed Impeachment in 2020. ” Behold! You see how the Enemies-of-the-People RRRRRA-dical PeLOsi Democrats tried to topple my Administration. Show them how much you hate them by showing them how much you love America by giving me a Nixon Landslide in All Fifty States!”

    Yes, if the Trumpster can get the House Democrats to Impeach him, they will discover that they have him . . . right where he wants them.

  76. Plenue


    Liberals aren’t the Left. The Democrats have made it abundantly clear just how hostile they are to progressive candidates and ideas. Any success the Dems are having is entirely because of how comically evil the GOP is.

  77. Plenue


    Yes, it was a ploy. one that he will use again in 2020. And one that undermines the meme that dumb rural racists are only voting because of racism. No, they’re voting for the guy giving them money.

    @different clue

    Pelosi already said months ago that impeachment was off the table: It’s fun to watch liberals smear other people as ‘low information voters’ while they themselves parrot memes that that the Dem leadership have already explicitly said won’t happen.

    As for her speech, seriously? She lurched from one bland cliche (our values, land of the free, etc) to the next, while of course expressing the need for ‘bipartisanship’ (so much for the threat of fascism; now we’re right back to the usual West Wing principled cooperation nonsense).

    Also, yes, I’m totally sure the woman worth 100 million smackers is scared. I could actually somewhat see why someone unfamiliar with her would think she was scared of something. But the incoherent, shaky voice style is how she *always* speaks.

  78. different clue


    If its how she always speaks, then it would have to get even worse before we could say we see signs of genuine brain-decay dementia.

    I agree that Pelosi and the Housebroken Dems would rather not Impeach. My suspicion is just lately that Trump will try DARing and FORCing them to Impeach He thrives on screamy drama and that would be a screamy drama.

  79. Herman

    @bruce wilder,

    Elite hatred against Trump is based on the fact that Trump is a populist and has brought certain aspects of the globalization/neoliberal consensus under fire. Even if one finds Trump’s brand of populism to be mostly hot air Trump does oppose the neoliberal consensus on trade and immigration. Trump is seen as part of the populist wave sweeping the West that has the potential to upset the neoliberal applecart.

    Elite opposition to populism is not just limited to right-wing populists like Trump or Matteo Salvini in Italy. Elite opposition also extends to left-wing populists like Bernie Sanders. During the 2016 Democratic primary the mainstream media was mostly opposed to Bernie Sanders. The media implied that Bernie’s supporters were mostly sexist, white male dudes hence the infamous “Bernie Bro” meme. The media also argued that Sanders’ opposition to free trade agreements made him an enemy of the world’s poor which also slyly implies that he is a racist.

    See Dean Baker’s critique of that line of argument:

    If Bernie Sanders runs for president again in 2020 I expect not only Fox News and Breitbart to oppose him but also CNN, MSNBC, Vox, the New York Times, The Washington Post and pretty much the rest of the MSM. The wealthy do not want any populist to upset the neoliberal applecart whether they are coming from the right (Trump) or the left (Sanders).

  80. Herman

    I would also like to add that in addition to the Bernie Bro meme and the racist “hates the global poor” meme I expect Bernie Sanders to get the #MeToo treatment in 2020 if he runs for president. I will be shocked if the establishment Dems don’t try that strategy. Maybe my tinfoil hat is on too tight but I fully expect the MSM to “discover” that Sanders supposedly groped some woman in 1977 or something and that will be used to knock him out of the race and discredit his movement.

    Also, Bernie’s statement against open borders, calling it a Koch Brothers proposal, will also be used against him. Even though Bernie’s immigration stance is based on economics it WILL be construed as racist in 2020 if he runs again. Because a good chunk of the modern left supports open borders this could potentially split the left in 2020 opening the way for a neoliberal Democrat to win the primary. Just some things to think about before the next election.

  81. Plenue


    MSM will absolutely smear Sanders (when they don’t just outright ignore him), just like they did last time

    However, I don’t know what impact this will have. People increasingly don’t pay any attention to mainstream sources, especially young people. In 2016 Sanders had to be cheated out of the primary, and to this day is still consistently the most popular national level political in the United States. The media is to a large extent an insular bubble. In can lie and scream all it wants, but that will have zero effect on people who simply ignore it altogether.

  82. Billikin

    Bruce Wilder: “the split in the Democratic Party is real”

    Mallam: “Trump is making the Republicans more like him.”

    Hugh: Trump “has pissed off a lot more people a lot, including a fair number of Republicans.”

    The Republicans as a group may be becoming more like Trump, but isn’t that because he is driving out Republicans who are less like him? Cruz is now in the Trump camp, but I doubt if Cruz has changed any. Graham has become a Trump lap dog, but I suspect that is from opportunism, not a change of heart. The Democratic Party may split, but the Republican Party has already begun to splinter. Will we see a reprise of the pre-civil war demise of the Whig Party, with a split in the Democratic Party? The odds are against it, I think, but it would be interesting to observe.

    Trump is a faux populist, and the Republican Party is not really going to embrace populism in anything except rhetoric. Nativism and Racism are old ploys to attract and mollify populist voters, but they remain unpopular views. Trump’s only ideology is Trump. His celebrity is not enough to carry the day. Trump demands loyalty, but he screws even his loyal allies, he screws everybody in the end. Perhaps enough people will come to realize that to defeat him in 2020. That’s likely, I think. If the Republican Party has truly become the Trumpian Party by then, his demise could be theirs.

  83. Plenue

    You can’t fight something, even a bad something, with nothing. Which is exactly what the Dems have. Who are they gonna run? Biden? Kamala Harris? I think after eights years of being backstabbed by Obama there is nowhere near the appetite among the public for Obama-in-a-dress that the DNC might imagine there is.

    The thing with Trump is that in two (or six) years he’ll be gone. But what comes after him? Because the populist genie isn’t going to go back into the bottle. Sooner or later someone else is going to be the smart version of Trump; they will capitalize on populism and actually do something with it.

  84. Billikin

    Do the Democrats have to fight Trump to win in 2020? Trump is fracturing the Republican Party, all on his own, attacking Republicans who do not kiss his —errrr— ring. It is quite possible that the Democrats will only have to watch the self destruction. You know those polls that pit generic candidates against each other? A generic Republican, currently, would do better than Trump. In 2016 we had two polarizing candidates compete against each other, Crooked Hillary and Bullshit Trump. Versus a generic Democrat in 2020 Trump would not stand a chance. Currently, Biden is close to a generic Democrat. He has the advantage of being pro-working class, and comes across as passionate about it. He could capture the votes of working class people who have seen Trump screw them over. (Not that I think that the Democrats will run Biden. ;))

  85. bruce wilder


    I wish the Sanderistas could and would take over the Democratic Party, but I acknowledge that they have not so far. Establishment Democrats are the establishment for sufficient reasons: they have a “business model” that works and allows politicians to survive. It is not a business model that allows politics to do many of the things I think ought to be done. It is perverse in many ways, encouraging expectations that problems will be solved while working against such solutions. But, it may more realistic than I am usually willing to concede. When I see how unrestrained news coverage of Trump is on, say, CNN I cannot help but think any populist from the left would face enormous pressure. Ian has commented on how unfair and unprincipled news coverage of Corbyn has been, even from the BBC and the Guardian.

    The economic dissatisfaction that gives rise to the possibility of populist revolt is not going away because producing that economic dissatisfaction is very profitable for some. I am not sure that actually ameliorating that economic dissatisfaction can be made profitable enough for people who count, profitable enough that anything actually gets done.

  86. Plenue

    @bruce wilder

    “I am not sure that actually ameliorating that economic dissatisfaction can be made profitable enough for people who count, profitable enough that anything actually gets done.”

    I think ultimately the question for our leaders will be “How ‘profitable’ is it for your head to continue residing on your shoulders?”.

  87. bruce wilder

    @ Plenue

    I admit I tend to think the politics of the guillotine is looking good, but is it looking likely?

  88. Herman


    It seems that Trump is very popular with the Republican base which now includes many working-class whites and rural voters. This is the big change in the Republican Party. The GOP is becoming more working-class and rural. I don’t think any Republican alive today could beat Trump in a primary. How this might change the Republican Party is an interesting question.

    I think many Trump Republicans want to make the GOP more like a European right-populist party that runs on immigration restriction, opposition to globalization and support for social conservatism and law and order at home. There are many Republicans who oppose parts of this plan, especially on the globalization front, but I don’t think they are popular with the more working-class and rural elements of the GOP coalition. I don’t think populism, whether right-wing or left-wing, is going anywhere. Populism is here to stay.

  89. NR

    The statements “racism was not responsible for Trump’s victory” and “racism was solely responsible for Trump’s victory” are both equally untrue.

  90. Billikin

    @ Herman

    Trump is very popular with regular Republicans. Furthermore, he has begun to forge at least temporary alliances with Republican Senators by campaigning for them. Some of them may have needed his help. It is very unlikely that the Senate will convict Trump if he is impeached. So far the Republican leadership has used Trump to further their ends.

    But Trump is attacking those Republican politicians who do not kowtow to him. Meanwhile, Trump has just pissed off a lot of veterans by not showing them the respect they are due. He will lose the votes of some of them. Trump is driving Republicans out of the party. He demands loyalty which he does not return. It is a real question whether the Republican Party will survive Trump. (I think it will, but who knows?)

    I also think that populism will survive in the US and Europe. Globalization has harmed not only the working class in developed economies, but also the middle class. That state of affairs is politically unsustainable. The best chance for the elites is to divide the rest of their citizenry against each other. Trump is doing that, while people call him populist.

  91. Hugh

    Agree with many of the thoughts above. The Democrats stand for nothing. Pelosi is the walking, talking epitome of this. Schumer is not far behind. Trump is the example of being for something, even something bad, is better? OK, more effective than standing for nothing at all, a lesson the Democrats haven’t or have refused to learn.

    Trump is a faux populist. Real populists don’t give the rich and corporations a $2 trillion tax cut, when they already have all the money. They don’t slash regulations that limit the power of corporations or protect the environment from them. They don’t talk about idiot walls. They penalize corps that hire illegals. And when disaster strikes, they don’t leave people twisting in the wind like T

  92. Hugh

    Oops, my comment posted to soon. I was going to say: And when disaster strikes, they don’t leave people twisting in the wind like Trump with Puerto Rico, or blaming the victims after every mass shooting, and most recently the fires in California.

  93. Ché Pasa

    One of our friends here in New Mexico (Trump voter, of course) comes from a mass shooting/fire area of California (Thousand Oaks) and she’s shocked at the horror of what she’s been witnessing on the TeeVee from her former home town. She says she doesn’t share Trump’s ridiculous victim-blaming about it all, but her plan is to carry a gun at all times now because, well, you never know when you might need it, OK? Her nephew, after all, frequented the Borderline Bar and Grill, and if he’d had a gun on him that night, pow, he might have taken out the killer before too many others died. Right? And the fires, you know, you’ve got to protect your own property, and if you’ve got to evacuate, you’ve got to make sure you’re protected when you do. You might have to pass through sketchy areas, and you might have to fend off panicking neighbors. You never know.

    And I thought this is probably the mindset we’re inevitably headed toward. All against all, fight it out to the death. Everyone have at it and let the survivors — if there are any — rule the wreckage.

    Most everyone around here is armed with various weapons and some ostentatiously open-carry so as to demonstrate their self-protective instincts, bless their hearts. So far, there’s little need, but that can change and might in an instant.

    All you need is the catalyst — which could come at any moment from any direction.

    A nation on edge and riven with fear and festering animosity. Much of it driven by media and politicians, but some is inherent in the conditions we face daily. Very few and very little serve as counterweights.

  94. Willy

    They say the wild west was tamed by the arrival of the women. Not the whores, but the kind who wanted families the men would help care for. There’ll be a lot more women in DC. Hopefully they wont be whores.

  95. Plenue


    The Democratic ‘alternative’ set Puerto Rico up for the disaster with the PROMESA coup, does effectively nothing after every mass shooting, and is actively counter-productive on the issue of fighting the climate change that is partially driving all these forest fires.


    Looking to identity politics isn’t going to save us. Gina Haspel and Hillary Clinton are women, after all.

  96. Hugh

    Plenue, it doesn’t mean that Trump “the populist” couldn’t have acted differently. It would have been the perfect opportunity to do so. Instead Trump is talking about reducing monies going to Puerto Rico below previous levels. And that Democrats bad as they are would have done more for Puerto Rico post Maria is a no brainer.

    Ché Pasa, not a Californian, but dim memory of a stay there, that whole corridor from Simi down through Thousand Oaks to Malibu is rich or well-to-do and very safe. Nature-wise, a lot of it is the same old story of too many people building the wrong kind of houses in the wrong areas. Fire is part of the ecosystem, but this is all exacerbated by climate change. A lot of the Southwest is going to burn up, not just California. Handguns are not going to have any impact on that but increase the paranoia. Even where I live, examples of everyday paranoia seem to be increasing.

  97. different clue


    In general, and without giving anything away to hostile lurkers, where in more-or-less general do you live; sorta-kinda basically speaking?

    Are the people who are paranoiding out in your area paranoiding about things that could possibly happen? Or about things which are near-impoosible at best?

  98. Hugh

    Red state, Blue city.

  99. different clue


    Would the paranoia be from Blue City people afraid of the Red State Country crowd coming to town and doing an Interahamwe Hutucaust on the people of Blue City?

    Or would it be something else?

  100. different clue

    Just in case Mallam is still reading this thread, here is a comment from today’s Naked Capitalism
    about the Democratic Senators who lost their re-election bids. Why they deserved to lose and why exactly the right Democrats got deleted from the Senate. Here is the copy-pasted comment . . .

    November 12, 2018 at 7:40 pm
    The bank friendly Dems who voted to deregulate the banks with the Crapo bill didn’t fair well in the midterms. Hillary’s association with bank deregulation will weigh down any future run. Bank friendliness is more a liability than asset for Dem candidates now. Hillary is still seen as the bankers’ darling, imo.

    The “Crapo bill,” a bank deregulation measure co-authored by Senate Banking Committee chair Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, and several centrist Democrats, passed Congress this spring with the help of 17 members of the Senate Democratic Caucus and 33 House Democrats.

    In the 10 states where Donald Trump won in 2016 and a Democratic senator stood for re-election this year, the three who opposed the Crapo bill all won a greater share of votes in their states than the seven who voted for it. Senators voting “no” averaged 54.7 percent of the vote and won by 10 percentage points, while the “yes” votes averaged 48.1 percent and lost by 1.5 points. The only Republican who lost, Dean Heller of Nevada, also voted for the Crapo bill, and fell by 5 points to Jacky Rosen, who voted against the legislation in the House.

    The Crapo bill rolled back a number of elements of the Dodd-Frank Act, including, in particular, stiffer regulations on banks that have between $50 billion and $250 billion in assets.

    * * * * * * * * *

    Purge and burn, baby. Purge and burn.

  101. Hugh

    Dodd-Frank was mostly an empty shell. The toxic derivatives and financial instruments that took out the financial system in 2008 weren’t banned. Glass-Steagall was not re-introduced. The bill kicked most of the substance to the regulatory process where it could be gamed by industry insiders. It says a lot that even this weak tea was too much for the financial sector and that said conservative Democrats duly lined up to kill most of what little was there.

    Re paranoia, it’s not political. It’s more in the air. The way strangers act around each other. In the past, people would just “Hi” and move along. Now there is more looking at each other with suspicion.

  102. different clue


    I didn’t view Dodd-Frank as an empty shell. I viewed it as a Velvet Nerf Hammer. Somewhat like Sarbanes-Oxley ( “SarbOx”). It was mostly empty, but not quite all-the-way empty. The Bankster-Industrial Complex found that they could not quite game away some of the little content it had. That is why they went to Congress for their Crapo-tastic bill to drain out that unwanted content by Law. Because they could not quite nullify it by Gaming.

    “Restore Glass Steagall” should be a stated goal of the SanderSocial Democrats. Actually, a targeted Straight-Up Repeal of certain key Anti-NewDeal Laws should be a stated goal. The easiest way to restore Glass Steagall without letting the Catfood Coalition sabotage the “restoration” from within would be to just plain straight-up rePEAL the law which cancelled Glass-Steagall. The New Regulations erected on a foundation of No More Glass Steagall would be self-cancelling. If the regulators failed to treat them that way, they would have to be forced to do so. The pre-existing regulations would be re-instated.

    This could be done for Law after Law after Law. You have to clean out weeds before you can re-grow the garden.

  103. Tom W Harris

    Antitrust law would be even easier to bring back. It’s still on the books, it just has been mostly not enforced, thanks to Raygun and all his successors.

  104. Billikin

    Anti-trust legislation has been in effect, gutted by arguments by Bork and Posner that monopolies are OK if they don’t raise prices. That is based upon bad economics, not to mention bad law. Apple is a good counter-example, as is MicroSoft. Bork is gone, and Posner has recanted some of his previous views. But their arguments have swayed a lot of Federal judges.

  105. Thanks to Hugh for the “Catfood Coalition” moniker. I have worn out “Basket of Deplorables”

  106. Hugh

    It was different clue who brought up Catfood Democrats. I think Catfood came originally from firedoglake and referred to Obama’s Catfood Commission (Simpson-Bowles) attempt to slash Social Security.

    Monopolies = worse products/services usually at higher prices. I agree with Billikin. There are riffs on this, such as poor product (Google), poor customer protection (Facebook), or massive subsidy seeking (Amazon).

    Also BLS real wage data came out for October, for the lower 82% of workers (production and nonsupervisory personnel), seasonally adjusted, average weekly earnings have increased 0.5% in the past year. This is a very mediocre number.

  107. bruce wilder

    Econ 101 is at its weakest when contrasting “monopoly” with “perfect competition” and the oversimplification serves to mislead. As Billiken said, Posner and Bork and others in the conservative law and economics movement did devastate antitrust with a critique, though that critique was broader and more sophisticated than the point about price Billiken cites. The economic theory previously used by the FTC and the Justice Department to administer antitrust policy was ill-conceived and a soft target for the conservatives to attack.

    The left needs an economic theory, but does not have one, does not even have an interest in one, save for an antiquarian interest in Marxism.

    What is needed is an interest in the economics of administrative management and control and the relation of control to economic structure and legal ownership.

    The problems that Glass Steagall addressed, it addressed in a context in which G-S complemented a range of other laws (eg 1956 Bank Holding Company Act) to structure the financial sector into, yes, smaller firms but also firms with a narrow focus and strategic interests in conflict with other firms. Savings and loans (aka savings banks or thrifts) were in conflict with commercial banks and stock brokers and life insurance and so on, and geographical restrictions further limited the size and scope of some categories. A variety of other specialized firms, some government sponsored, like Fannie Mae, made the ecology of many small and disparate firms work efficiently.

    This kind of elaborate structuring of an economic sector is very foreign to the Econ 101 reasoning that underlies neoliberalism. You cannot get there by simply railing against monopoly conceived of as a “single-seller” (the textbook definition). Centralizing strategic control of disparate business types (or a whole ecology of commerce as in Amazon) is a game scarcely conceivable within the structures of mainstream economics. But that kind strategic control play is at the core of Media and Banking today and has everything to do with how those sectors behave and perform. And how they dominate politics! (Back in the days of G-S a Congress critter could play the banks off against the insurance companies against the credit unions, with many representing purely local constituencies. Now the lobbyists come from universal bank holding companies global in scope and the purely local bank or thrift is nearly extinct.)

    A new wave of antitrust reform will have to address the law of property ownership, and particularly the creation and registration of corporations. The kind of seemy underside of politics and economics revealed in the Panama Papers and similar scandals is not yet being addressed even in theory.

  108. different clue


    Thank you for the personal recognition-of-attribution. I was prepared to say nothing out of gratitude that “Catfood Democrats” and/or “Catfood Coalition” might begin to enter the language and that my leaping up to say “No! I!! invented that” might slow or taint the process.

    “Catfood” is a good modifier and adjective for this whole cluster of bad actors. If indeed “Catfood Democrats” and “Catfood Coalition” might be technically ascribable to me, I hereby CopyLeft those two phrases. Come one, come all . . . and let anyone use them who wishes. Perhaps they might really take off and become widely available verbal napalm to spray upon the Clintonites, Obamazoids, Pelosians and HoyerRats who poison the political future.

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