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

How US Presidential Politics Guarantees Inevitable Decline

The Course of Empire by Thomas Cole

The Course of Empire by Thomas Cole

It is a cliche, but true, that American elections, especially Presidential elections, are lesser-evil contests.

Both candidates are bad. Both candidates will reign over continued decline. Both candidates will kill a lot of people whose deaths will not make America or the world safer or more prosperous.

Every US Presidential election of my life, with the possible exception of 1968 and 1972, when I was four years old, has been between two candidates who, objectively, could be expected to do things which would cause American decline. (And in both 1968 and 1972, the bad candidate won.)

Somewhat coincidentally, 1968 is the earliest year from which you can date American decline; 1968 is when white working class wages peak. It’s not until 1980 that one can say, “Ok, America has chosen decline,” however, because how to fix the problems of the late 60s and the 70s is the question of that time.

Since 1972, every election has been between people who would have been (or will be) bad Presidents. Every single one.

You cannot be led by bad leaders for 44 years and expect anything but bad results.

Various attempts have been made to end the “nothing but bad candidates problem.” All of them have failed.

Each failure is another rail pounded into the railway to Hell America is building.

You must fix this problem, of nothing but bad leaders, or you can go nowhere good. And even if you elect the “lesser evil,” you are just going to Hell a little slower.

Fix your politics, or wind up in Hell.

It is that simple, and I am not saying “Hell” idly.

(The saddest thing is that as flawed as he was, I’d take Nixon in a heartbeat over any President from Reagan on. Yes, including Clinton and Obama. It isn’t even close.)

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Trump/Clinton Debate Open Thread


Obama’s Department of Justice’s Prime Job Is to Immunize Rich Wrongdoers


  1. V. Arnold

    (The saddest thing is that as flawed as he was, I’d take Nixon in a heartbeat over any President from Reagan on. Yes, including Clinton and Obama. It isn’t even close.)

    I voted for Nixon. It was my anti-war vote.
    I quit voting in the very late 90’s because I realized it was a fraud, a cruel joke.
    Obviously the U.S. is in serious decline; the wounded beast is most dangerous.
    When one listens to the Putin-Lavrov team juxtaposed with the Obama-Kerry-Powers team; it is impossibe not to see the utter hubris and diplomatic incompetence exhibited by the U.S..

  2. V. Arnold

    My bad, I forgot to include Maria Zakharova on the Putin-Lavrov team.

  3. The reality is that the United States has a bad habit of electing mediocrities to be President, regardless of the century. Or do you seriously consider Calvin Coolidge and Millard Fillmore to be paragons of Presidential virtue? What has changed in recent times has been the repercussions of having a mediocre President. As society has become increasingly complex the requirements of government have increased, but we’re still stuck with the same system for selecting Presidents that was put into place when the population of the entire United States was less than the population of Manhattan.

    It is arguable, in fact, that the entire notion of having an executive elected at large rather than elected from within the legislature (i.e. parliamentary government) has resulted in an ossified system that cannot grow to meet the demands upon it. The mathematical requirement of 50%+1 to elect a President means that the system mathematically converges upon two parties that are coalitions of what would be minor parties in a parliamentary system, and furthermore, that these minor “parties” have less voice than they would have in a parliamentary system where they can topple a government by bolting from a coalition government. Fewer voices means less ability to change and adapt.

    Not that parliamentary systems have been performing particularly well recently either. See: the entire cock-up that is British politics right now. Or the continual mess that is Israeli politics, where their adoption of a proportional representation system means that fringe parties are even more empowered than in a normal parliamentary system to the point where the lunatics basically can get anything they demand upon penalty of toppling the government if they don’t get it. It may be that post-industrial society has achieved a level of complexity that overwhelms the ability of any currently known form of government to cope with it. What is quite clear, however, is that even within this range of possible forms of government, the current American system is uniquely prone to complete lockup and thus complete inability to cope with the challenges we face.

  4. Hugh

    Lesser evilism is a con. It does not slow the march of evil. It removes all impediments to it. With lesser evilism, there are no bright lines that can not be crossed. There are no pitched battles that must be fought. No one in our political classes need fear that they will leave any of their blood on the floor. There is only pragmatism. Evil advances, and they obligingly retreat.

    And why not? If evil wins, they win. It is only we who lose.

    One of my main contentions is that people do not know their own history. American history is more mythology than history. Problems of inequality and its institutionalization in government go back to the Founding of the Republic. Neoliberalism, the ideology of our kleptocratic ruling class, does not find its roots in Wilsonian liberalism. It is a carbon copy of it: elitist, pro-corporate, pro-interventionist, paternalistic, and virulently anti-populist. FDR ran as a liberal and only became a New Dealer for four years from 1932 to 1936. He stayed a New Dealer only long enough to ensure the survival of capitalism. Once this was done he did not hesitate to plunge the country back into the depression in 1937 it had just left in 1936 and keep it there for another 4 years. I personally date the rise of the current kleptocracy back to the late 1970’s under Carter and Volcker, although Ian is correct that measures like the income shares of the bottom 80% peaked in 1968. So we can quibble about when exactly the process began, but it certainly began somewhere between 1968 and 1978 with roots going deep in the nation’s real history, not the fake one taught in schools.

    While I think that Carter was a terrible President and the foundations of kleptocracy were laid in his Administration, I see Reagan as the first of the succession of empty suit Republican and sockpuppet Democratic Presidents we have had since. I would go further and say we need to keep in mind that kleptocracy did not come about just because we have had a string of bad to awful Presidents or a terminally failed political class. The ascendancy of kleptocracy with its ruling class of the rich was the result of a thorough-going betrayal by our elites in general: the politicians, the judiciary, the bureaucrats, the media, and academia.

  5. Some Guy

    The U.S. is the clearest case and the furthest gone, but it is the same everywhere in the West, and the same as it was many times previously throughout history – the forces in motion go far deeper than U.S. presidential politics.

  6. Hairhead

    I am 59, and as a politically-aware Canadian (consciousness first raised by the assassination of MLK and the sight of tanks on the streets of American cities), have been watching US and Canadian politics for over forty years.

    I agree with Ian that Nixon, despite being a paranoid, bigoted, vengeful creep with little regard for the law, was an extremely intelligent individual who actually did some good things (EPA, Clean Air Act) in office, and who, if he were US President right now would not be doing near the amount of evil of the current and anticipated officeholders.

    Lesser evil is still evil; at some point the abused spouse, despite the real threats of further abuse and temporary harsh and painful dislocations in life, ends the relationship.

  7. Ché Pasa

    +1 for the Thomas Cole illustration c. 1836

    From Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage:

    There is the moral of all human tales;
    ‘Tis but the same rehearsal of the past.
    First freedom and then Glory – when that fails,
    Wealth, vice, corruption – barbarism at last.
    And History, with all her volumes vast,
    Hath but one page…

    This current hell-ride was announced on November 22, 1963.

  8. different clue


    The history of civilization is the story of man’s effort to live like the social insects. But man is a pack animal, like the wolf, and is designed to live in small packs. The politics of the small pack govern the society of the social insect fairly poorly.

  9. Synoia

    Cycle of rise and decay. Well documented in Cannibals and Kings under the discussion of River Valley cultures.

  10. Admire, exult, despise, laugh, weep, — for here
    There is such matter for all feeling: — Man!
    Thou pendulum betwixt a smile and tear,
    Ages and realms are crowded in this span,
    This mountain, whose obliterated plan
    The pyramid of empires pinnacled,
    Of Glory’s gewgaws shining in the van
    Till the sun’s rays with added flame were fill’d!
    Where are its golden roofs? where those who dared to build?

  11. Carla

    I think that systemic problems are more central to our situation than specific individuals, and suggest that a little 118-page book, “National Security and Double Government” by Michael J. Glennon, explains quite a bit about this.

  12. Tom W Harris

    Now I’m stocking shirts in the Wal-Mart store
    Just like the ones we made before
    ‘cept this one came from Singapore
    I guess we can’t make it here anymore

  13. capelin

    hairhead wrote: “I agree with Ian that Nixon, despite being a paranoid, bigoted, vengeful creep with little regard for the law, was an extremely intelligent individual who actually did some good things (EPA, Clean Air Act) in office, and who, if he were US President right now would not be doing near the amount of evil of the current and anticipated officeholders.”

    tell that to the carpet-bombed cambodians.

  14. V. Arnold

    October 3, 2016

    You make a good point, but:
    Don’t forget Lao; they got the worst of it.
    I’ve been there; the Lao people are amazing and very proud to have gotten rid of the French and Usians.

  15. >tell that to the carpet-bombed cambodians.

    They did have a choice.

  16. Hairhead

    capelin: Nixon is dead, but the guy who got him to carpet-bomb, Henry Fucking Kissinger, is still alive, and is a “close, personal advisor” to Hilary Clinton. And I think that Hilary Clinton has even less compunction about collateral damage than Nixon.

  17. Karl Kolchack

    One quibble–it is a bit much to say Carter was a “bad” president. Ineffective, yes. Was responsible for the Carter Doctrine, no doubt. But Carter tried to warn Americans that their were limits, and that they could not have their cake and eat it as well. He also pushed the most humane foreign policy of any president since Kennedy, schizophrenic about The Shaw as it might have been.

    And the guy who beat him was a fucking monster whose hubris really set the decline in motion.

  18. Re: Nixon,

    What is the argument that he’s better than Clinton / Obama? What could it possibly be?

    Just as bad, sure. Worse, maybe. Better?

    Any good his presidency accomplished was the result of political calculation in an entirely different context from today: huge majorities of pre-DLC’d liberals in Congress, an energized and popularly bipartisan environmental movement, etc. One example: establishment of EPA was to politically undercut Ed Muskie. Straightforward political calculus.

    Against that the scope, institutional damage, and sheer scale of death of his crimes is incalculable.

    What’s the argument he’s better than Clinton / Obama?

  19. Ché Pasa

    I won’t in any way make excuses for Nixon. He was a criminal, a gangster, and a mass murderer on a scale we had not seen since Korea. He was unapologetic to his dying day — despite his admission of errors.

    He was instrumental in the passage of some progressive legislation, but he also originated the Imperial Presidency. Revenge for driving him from office was a prime motivator for criminal actions by Rumsfeld and Cheney.

    No, Clinton is not worse than Nixon.

  20. V. Arnold

    No, Clinton is not worse than Nixon.

    But as bad as…

  21. Some Guy

    “No, Clinton is not worse than Nixon.”

    Come on now, give her a chance, she’s not even president yet.

  22. Ché Pasa

    Perhaps she aspires to Nixonian levels of Badness, but she ain’t there yet.

    For his part, he will forever reside in his own circle of Hell.

  23. S Brennan

    Nixon did evil things, but the didn’t start/escalate Viet Nam; he was just clueless on how to end it on less than humiliating terms…clueless. Hillary sought to start a war with a peaceful and prosperous nation so that her donors could profit, it’s in the emails, that is a PROVABLE war crime. The fact that Hillary accomplished the war using racists Jihadies who then went on to commit genocide against all the negro* blooded people in Libya was also known to Hillary, she is the worst racist to run for US President in my lifetime. No other President, in my time, supported the murdering of approximately 20,000 black people.

    The man who ended the Viet Nam agony was named Jerry Ford who the nation regarded as a buffoon, in spite of his being House minority leader for 9 terms. LBJ resented Ford and thought him dumber than a bag of rocks because he was straight laced and wouldn’t get involved in the corruption/[horse-trading] that was LBJ’s stock & trade.

    Ford, like Carter had the misfortune to take over the economy in the post Viet Nam years and he paid dearly for being in the wrong chair when the deluge came.

    Anybody who does any reading on the man will see he was anything, but stupid, wrong perhaps, but not stupid…I will add, he was an outstanding man in his accomplishments and integrity.**

    Had I not voted for Carter in 1976; and had Ford won in 1976, Reagan; and more importantly his staff would not have attained the Presidency and much of our bad history would have been avoided. From that lesson I learned to not see the choice in terms of who would be better for 4 years or 8, or the lessor of two evils, but for who they might prevent from taking office.

    Ford respected the US Constitution, thought war wasteful and was a FDRist, albeit like all Republicans of the time, a tightfisted minimalist on government spending who had moral and physical courage to do what the thought was right. I regret my vote in 1976, the media played me for a sap.

    *some there since Roman times, others since the cessation of Libya’s participation in the still active Muslim slave trade


  24. DMC

    Nixon had Chile as an unforced abomination, something he was completely responsible for. Clinton has Honduras. Obama pretty much has Honduras as well as half-assing his way into Libya and Syria. Those of us old enough to remember recall that the one thing Nixon had going for him that no one since has had is overwhelming competence. He played the Great Game and he played it bloody well. He knew what he wanted and how to get it and had the audacity to actually do so. We got some of the best legislation of the century and some of the the most important liberalizing federal agencies like the EPA. None of which is to say he was a “good” person in any moral dimension, save that he governed well. None of his successors can say that. Even St. Jimmy governed well to the right of congressional Dems and was the first deficit hawk.

  25. Hugh

    Carter appointed Volcker to head the Fed in 1979. Volcker’s high interest rate policy brought inflation under control, but with him began the Fed’s use of interest rates to suppress real wages of American workers. Volcker’s high Fed rate policy was itself made possible by the 1980 Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act which repealed usury limits on what banks could charge in interest. We still see the effects of this law in pay day lenders and credit card rates.

    Carter also signed into law important anti-union legislation, such as the 1978 Airline Deregulation Act deregulating the airlines, the
    1978 Civil Service Reform Act set up the Federal Labor Relations Authority to oversee collective bargaining with federal workers (It was this entity which Reagan used to decertify the air traffic controller union Patco in 1981), and the Motor Carrier Act of 1980 which deregulated trucking.

    As for Ford, isn’t he the guy who pardoned Nixon, a critical victory in the establishment of the doctrine of Presidential impunity and still one of the clearest examples of our two-tiered justice system?

  26. mc

    We always hear about the deregulation under Carter but never the greater regulation in other areas. We also always hear about how anti-union he was against labor leaders who had by and large turned into giant assholes by the late \’70s, including throwing major support to Nixon and the hippie-punchers. It\’s why PATCO was such an easy, unsympathetic target for Reagan. Carter had many things to point fingers at (assist the Shah?, wtf?; listen to Brzezinski?, wtf?), but what his critics never demonstrate is that any of the former or later presidents or any of his opponents at the time, including sainted Teddy, had or would have had any better clue about what to do with that mess that was the late 1970s. It\’s just become conventional wisdom to say certain things about him, with all the illusion and cognitive errors that come with the problems of conventional wisdom. As the years ahead play out, as convention wisdom suffers its usual fate, it\’s likely that he and Nixon will get better and better play from interpreters of what is, what was, and what could have happened.

  27. S Brennan

    Volcker is also the man most singularly responsible for inflating the price of housing rent/ownership. Volcker abused his office with his artificially high interest rates to undermine labor, in the process, he stopped housing from being built just as peak demand from the baby was ALREADY inflating the sector and he knew he was INFLATING an asset class.

    As you point out, Carter was the 1st right wing neoliberal, not Reagan, which is why I have repeatedly used 1978 as my start point for the decline of the lower 80 percentile in my comments and not 1981 as indoctrinated “liberals” do.

    I’d like to point out Nixon wasn’t taken down by the left as some would have it and many clueless “liberals” believe, he was taken down by savage right-wing extremists who felt betrayed. As for Ford’s pardon of Nixon, it had no effect, indeed, incarcerating him would have turned him into a martyr after creating an effing mess that served no useful purpose.

  28. capelin

    “>tell that to the carpet-bombed cambodians.

    They did have a choice.”


  29. If you need me to spell it out for you, then you’re not worth conversing with.

  30. Lisa

    “Educated women, it appears, are defecting in droves from the GOP, and the numbers are stark. White men without a college degree prefer Trump over Clinton by a 31-point margin, and he leads among college-educated white men by 11 points. White women without a college degree? Trump wins them, too—by a margin of 17 points, 49 to 32. None of that is surprising: Those numbers are roughly equivalent to Mitt Romney’s advantages in 2012.
    But Trump is losing educated white women to Hillary Clinton by a staggering 30 points, 57 to 27 percent, according to Monmouth, and other polls have shown similar numbers.”

    The price of going all ‘Ted Cruz’….

  31. Peter*


    What these numbers tell us is that higher education is a horrible waste for some people as it leads them to be susceptible to cult like identity politics and PC groupthink. If they had developed any real analytical skills while being educated they might reject the Red Queen along with Trump but then they might not be invited to the next Leisure Class get together in the Hamptons.

  32. Lisa

    “higher education is a horrible waste for some people”…oh yes why educate women after all, what a waste of a good pair of tits and a womb, eh? Typical male…

    Despite the similarities there are now clear divisions between Trump and Clinton on women’s and LGBTI rights and inflicting ‘christian’ dominialisim (and white male supremacy) on US society.

    His strategy of going all ‘Ted Cruz’ was about the only way he could lose the election…. and he did it. I am amazed because Cruz was about the only candidate even more unelectable than Clinton was.

    When will these people learn that even in the US the ‘christian’ right are only a minority and given that their policies are so explicitly anti women they won’t get elected these days where there is a reasonable proportion of educated women…despite the wet dreams of so many men of women getting ‘put back in their place’ again.

    Sure a majority of uneducated white women are voting for Trump but that is only because they have been conditioned to think misogyny is ‘normal’ and don’t realise that his policies will absolutely hammer them and they are letting their racism, homophobia and transphobia rule them.

    With even a moderate amount of education it doesn’t take much to realise what a misogynistic hell hole Trump will make for women in the US, maybe not quite as bad as Saudi Arabia but they will try their best to get there.
    These people hate women and see them as little more than tits, a bunch of holes and a womb…. typical male homosocials (look it up).

    So if you vote only on your own personal interests any woman voting for Trump is an idiot since he has sold his soul to the ‘christian’ right. What a fool.

    All he had to do was stay small ‘l’ liberal or even small ‘c” conservative on social issues, pump out his anti-TPP (etc), anti-war, pro American jobs message and he would have romped it in.
    And to top it off he has threatened the LGBTI community with extinction, especially trans people …and we know how to fight… that alone lost him the young vote…

    I could have ran my dog against HRC and won, to lose against her shows rare skills…..

  33. Badtux permalink
    October 3, 2016
    – – The reality is that the United States has a bad habit of electing mediocrities to be President, regardless of the century. Or do you seriously consider Calvin Coolidge and Millard Fillmore to be paragons of Presidential virtue?
    – –

    While I agree that Coolidge and Fillmore were underwhelming Presidents, these two do not support the (correct) argument that that we elect marginally qualified Presidents.

    It is important to recognize that neither Fillmore nor Coolidge were ever elected President. Both were serving Vice Presidents when their respective Presidents (Taylor and Harding) died in office.

    Both Fillmore (lost nomination) and Coolidge (did not run at end of term) left office after their partial & unelected presidential terms ended.

  34. Tom W Harris

    If you need me to spell it out for you, then you’re not worth conversing with.

    Neither are you, Stirling. Victim-blaming is so 1942.

  35. Lisa

    Oh and just to debunk the fantasy that Trump would somehow stop the upcoming war with Russia…not a chance. Sure he might not be as hawkish as Clinton (who is) but he wouldn’t be able to get control of all the agencies and Pentagon who are determined to have war.

    They would just do it anyway and he hasn’t the organisation and pool of people to do a big clear out and replace them with some who are sane. Sanders did and could have changed things but Trump hasn’t the ability or the resources…see how quickly he got co-opted by the insane religious right.

    Think he is going to stand up to all the neo-cons in the US establishment? Not a chance.
    Think he is going to stand up to all the neo-liberals on economic matters? Not chance either.

    Just look at the far more competent Obama, he lost control of the military, CIA, etc now.

    So people might as well vote on their own self interests and hope the nukes don’t fly.

  36. Lisa

    “Donald Trump pledges to sign anti-LGBT law to permit religious discrimination”

    “In a statement, Trump confirmed he would sign the so-called First Amendment Defence Act, which bans the government from taking any “action against a person, wholly or partially on the basis that such person believes or acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognised as the union of one man and one woman, or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.””

    And you can add in heaps of anti-women stuff as well on health, contraception and abortion, sexist trash talk, heck misogynist trash talk, the usual homosocial male ‘slut’ talk.

    Yep the white blokes want to go back to the ‘good old days’ where women knew their place and got a good smack on the face if they were ‘uppity’… as did the ‘niggahs’ and the ‘pooftahs’…way, way too late for that…

    As I said if he can’t stand up to the nut job ‘religious’ right, there is no hope of him doing that to the neo-cons and neo-liberals…he’d be signing the TPP and ordering a ‘no fly’ zone in Syria within a month of being in power….

    Oh well maybe the next US populist that comes up will learn these lessons ..if anyone is still alive that is.

  37. Lisa

    Just to show the ‘good old days; are well over, women are just not going to put up with this crap any longer:

    “Poland’s abortion ban proposal near collapse after mass protests”

  38. capelin

    “>tell that to the carpet-bombed cambodians.

    They did have a choice.”

    uh, perhaps you mean choice like clinton vs trump?

    and with that segue back onto topic, i think a couple factors that play into “who’s worse” are that death tech has gotten deathier, and also more target-able, and, more importantly, the rise of the internet has made secret direct mass murder more difficult.

    when we opposed the ’91 invasion and devastation of iraq, we did so in the context of near-total media control, both of the atrocities being committed and also of the extent of the opposition to the war. there was no internet. information tricked in to those who cared from travellers and fact finders, and friends phoning from other cities.

    estimates of the iraqi casualties from that invasion are around 100k, i believe. and then, what, 1,000k from the subsequent sanctions.

    contrast that with the post-internet 2003 re-invasion, where direct iraqi casualties are estimated at ~10-15k.

    so now the killings and manipulations are more nuanced and pr’d. drones and proxy forces, black budgets and false flags, domestic surveillance and homeland insecurity laws.

    the beat goes on.

  39. ProNewerDeal

    Ian, I recall you mentioned you may write an editorial post here on “not voting for either HClinton nor Trump”. You may consider writing it ASAP; IIRC ~40% of the vote this time is projected to be early voting (in person or mail ballot), which has already started in several states.

    I am in a safe state, I’ll vote for Dr. Jill Stein. If I were in a swing state, it would be a tough decision. This is a bizarre election, in that there are smart Social Democratic-type, Sanders primary voters, concluding all 3 of the possible options for swing state voting: Stein, HClinton as Lesser Evil (LE), & even a few Trump as LE.

    This editorial makes a decent case for HClitnon LE voting

  40. different clue

    @Stirling Newberry,

    I am not Capelin, but I, too, had never till now heard of this “choice” which you say the Canbodians had.

    I am reminded of a story that Kurt Vonnegut once wrote about Nobel Prizewinning physicist Irving Langmuir. Paraphrasing as best as I can, Vonnegut reports that Langmuir said something like: ” If you cannot explain what you are doing to a reasonably bright 14-year-old, you are a charlatan.” I rather suspect that goes for “what you know” as well as “what you are doing”.

    I like to think I am as bright as the average reasonably bright 14-year-old. So . . . can you tell me about the “choice” you say Cambodia “had”? Or are you a charlatan?

  41. Tom

    Ford’s biggest sin as President was pardoning Nixon when he should have let the criminal charges go forth and Nixon get his day in court to answer for Watergate.

    By not doing that, Ford set in motion a terrible precedent that has made Presidents immune to the law.

  42. fuckstirlingnewberry

    Stirling Newberry is a charlatan. He needs to eat a dick, quickly!

  43. The ur- problem with the Democratic party in its abstract, is that human beings contain a larger swathe of violence then is really called for by a modern, and certainly postmodern, Democratic state. Europe has had a not so gentle reminder of this, and has given its government tools to virtually annihilate such impulses as become present – this is also true of Japan.

    It however is not true of the two main powers on the globe – the United States and China.

    How it relates specifically to Clinton and Obama, is that once inside the I-495 Beltway, they hear a great deal of the people who are rich, or hope to be rich, or expect to leave the military and become rich – by means of the military. and once inside that bubble, the only thing that they are reliably going to do – is keep the military funded. now at some point in time, the United States will not be a major power, and once about a generation passes by, we will settle down to a normal contemporary democratic state. until then we have this agglomeration where even the peaceable party is in fact a party of war.

    The key problem is that everything goes through the presidency, and the only things that the presidency will allow our the most vicious impulses of international state – and a few good impulses from the regions of race and political – so long as they do not interfere with the military state. That is why half our budget is spent on military things, when it does not have to be. Clinton is a warmonger, and we get to see this in her actions, but she is also a great deal nicer than most Democrats in being a peacemaker – but that will not be shown until she gets into the top job. Basically, she is a redux of Johnson – and their are plenty of places for her to get her war on, as she tries to rebalance the older set of elder women – which she is indeed quite devoted to.

    she is not the best president, by a long shot, and she has disadvantages that will preventer from being merely good. but in a bad lot of presidential material, she was the second of them – Bernie easily beating her in this regard, but no one else who had a chance ( because that is basic Lessing and others did not have a chance) was any better. One can understand crying someone better – but that is not going to happen as long as the baby boom is in charge.

  44. Jeff Wegerson

    “>tell that to the carpet-bombed cambodians.

    They did have a choice.”

    We are still puzzled by this pair of cryptic sentences of yours. Now since your mind is still wont to play tricks on you perhaps you meant to say something else. By that I mean take these examples from your most recent post:

    ” military. and “,” funded. now “, “state. until”, “she is not”, “good. but “” – Dropped capitals after a period.

    “…allow our the…” You meant “are” there instead of “our”.

    “One can understand crying someone better -…” Awkward construction. Maybe missing a “for.”

    Yes I am picking nits and we all make fast typing mistakes and substitute words. But then for you to dismiss a reasonably polite call for clarification so cavalierly was not polite.

    In my humble opinion.

  45. wendy davis

    @ ProNewerDeal Oh, my; how like the alleged ‘decent case’ Rebecca Solnit made addressing the Rancid Left:

    ‘The Rain on Our Parade; A Letter to My Dismal Allies’.

    Me, I’m votin’ for the Red: Ajamu Baraka, after considering not voting the top line at all. Christ, what if all the putative left luminaries decided to announce they were votin’ Green? ‘Oh, only narcissists not vote for Clinton’, says Angela Davis, Chomsky has other reasons.

    The Ovian Queen’s been given her marchin’ orders courtesy of the Military/Intel & Security States/deep state/and…Henry Kissinger, lol. OTOH, Trump’s a no-nothing blowhard. Will he have access to actual power? Hard to imagine.

  46. Hugh

    This is an election between Boss Tweedledum and Boss Tweedledee. Both are 1%ers. Both have used the system to make themselves rich to the tune of billions: Trump in real estate with his litigations, bankruptcies, and likely graft; Clinton in “public” service with speaking fees/bribes and the influence peddling, pay-to-play, family piggybank of the Clinton Foundation. The chief difference is that Trump who started rich has mainly been a buyer of favors and special treatment while the nouveau riche Clintons have been sellers of such. Of course, it can and has been argued that everything that both Trump and the Clintons have done is legal, or if not, the same as, since nobody is going to prosecute them for any of it.

    We can’t trust anything that either of them says. With Clinton, lying is as natural as breathing, and happens about as often. Trump is erratic to the point of incoherence. While both are hard core pro-business, anti-labor, and bad for us, Clinton is preferred by the rich and elites who make up the Establishment. She is very much a crook, a warmonger, and a grifter, but none of these is antithetical to either the Establishment or their version of the status quo. She is one of them and they support her. Trump is, of course, one of them too, but he is too erratic and narcissistic to be a promoter of their interests, and his whiff of populism although mostly fictitious and anti-foreign in nature is enough to make him anathema to Establishment conservatives and liberals alike.

    The take home here is that both Clinton and Trump are poison to the lower 80% of the population. The narratives about who would be a better President only have resonance among the rich and elites, in who would best serve their interests. For the rest of us, it is kayfabe and noise.

  47. nihil obstet

    @ ProNewerDeal

    This election is just like every other one since at least 1968. Here’s Doug Henwood from 2012 that could be written today with the names of the candidates changed:

  48. Hugh

    Two unrelated points. September is an end of summer month. In seasonally unadjusted terms, this means that the private sector loses 450,000+ to 500,000+ jobs in September. September is also a back to school month so you have about the same number of jobs reappearing in the public sector as school begins. The result is September is usually a weak month overall for jobs, and a bad one for the private sector.

    The reason we can not afford to test the dubious proposition of restoring normality by waiting for the Boomer generation to die out is that, as I have written before, we have until about 2030 to have programs up and running dealing with overpopulation, global warming, and resource and habitat loss. That’s 14 years. To plan and get such large programs going could easily take 7-10 years, and to be able to even begin working on them we need to need to change our society’s current power structure. That’s not going to happen under a kleptocratic Clinton or Trump Administration. Waiting until 2020 to act puts us on the tightest of tight timelines with no margin for error. Wait beyond 2020 and the window is closed. Waiting for Boomers to die off is not an option.

  49. We can wait, it is just go to be ugly. But the baby boom would not want it any other way. Enjoy the trip down the River Styx.

  50. Lisa

    Sigh, the consensus here is that the US election is being decided only on the issues that white, educated older males are interested in and that all the many other parts of society, like women, young people or LGBTI people don’t matter…minor insignificant issues.

    The trouble is they don’t agree and their issues are just as important to them as your issues are to you….and there are more of them (along with their supporters) than there are of you lot. Moreover they are organised and long used and bloodied in political lobbying .. and they are fighting for their lives, which tends to be a motivator. It may not matter to anyone here that a Trump Govt would eliminate all trans people or end abortion, but it sure as heck matters to us.

    It is not that we don’t understand or care about other issues that you all worry about (in fact we care deeply about them, unlike the reverse), it is just that we know we can do little about them, but can affect those important issues that directly impact us (for some like trans people it is literally life or death). It is called focus, which is why we have had successes…something all those other ‘activists’ in other areas cannot claim (total failures in fact). The Archdruid made that very same point in an article a bit back.

    I said Trump’s embracement of the religious right was a massive strategic mistake that would lose him the election, one of the few ways he could lose, because (a) it would piss off many women and LGBTI people and their supporters, (b) motivate them (holding their noses) to get up and vote for HRC, rather than staying at home or voting for Stein.

    Here is some proof:

    “Inside Planned Parenthood’s $30 Million Ground War to Stop Trump-Pence
    How an army of thousands could tip the balance in as many as half-a-dozen swing states”

    “”Donald Trump wants to overturn Roe, and appoint Supreme Court justices who will do that. He has said that he would like to punish women who have abortions. And he’s picked, as vice presidential candidate, Mike Pence – a man who has made it his life’s mission to do exactly those things,” she says. “We are taking that very seriously.””

    “The Planned Parenthood campaign is active now in six swing states – Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Planned Parenthood tells Rolling Stone that the ground campaign is ramping up to 800 paid staff and 3,500 volunteers, focused on door-to-door outreach to targeted swing voters.

    These are prominently middle-aged suburban women, but also include many men for whom a candidate’s opposition to basic reproductive health care access is a dealbreaker.”

    Read that last part again.

    “The size of the Planned Parenthood door-to-door army is extraordinary. Though not an apples-to-apples comparison – because hundreds of Clinton-supporting field staff are paid by the Democratic Party – consider that the Clinton campaign itself counted fewer than 800 people on payroll in its September FEC filing. “We are running the largest persuasion canvas in the country on the independent side, to give you a sense of scale,” says Schifeling.”

    Trump could have avoided all that quite easily, by simply staying (as he started) small ‘l’ liberal or even small ‘c’ conservative on such issues. But by cementing his religious right support (and picking Pence) he self created this opposition. Hopefully the next populist that comes along won’t make the same mistake.

  51. Hugh

    I wanted to correct something I said yesterday. The contribution of those returning to jobs in education in September is larger than I said. While the private sector did decrease by 457,000 in September (seasonally unadjusted), overall nonfarm jobs increased by 527,000 because of nearly a million jobs returning because of the start of the school year.

    The subject of numbers is an excellent segue into addressing Stirling’s belief that we can wait out the Boomer generation. The universe does not care about our timetables. We cannot drive a car a quarter of a tank past empty to get to the next gas station. When the gas is gone, the car stops. The engine does not care that if we could just could get an extra hundred miles everything would be OK. When Wile E. Coyote runs twenty feet beyond the cliff, even he can’t wait until a bridge is built out to him. He falls, and so will we, if we wait.

  52. Hugh

    Lisa, we get the lesser evil argument you are making for Clinton. She’s bad, but OMG, Trump. We have heard it a thousand times. We get too the appeal to standard Democratic identity politics. As I have written, neither Trump nor Clinton can be believed on almost anything they say. Trump, like Clinton, has a long history of throwing people under the bus as soon as he thinks he no longer has a use for them. He made the phrase “You’re fired!” famous doing it.

    On the subject of Roe v. Wade, many conservatives decided that it could NOT be directly overturned and so they adopted a strategy of killing it with a thousand cuts, or so weaken it that a direct reversal of it would become possible. Now Pence is still old school in his opposition to Roe, but Tim Kaine is very much a practitioner of the new assault on it. He says he “supports” Roe even as he has done everything he can to limit it out of existence for most women. Some might see some kind of a lesser evilist distinction that could be made between the two. I don’t. If any distinction could be made, the more apt would be that of the more effective evil of Kaine and the Democrats.

  53. Lisa


    This is not a ‘ lesser evil’ is pure evil if you are a woman or LGBTI. There is nothing ‘lesser’ about it, they have stated that abortion will be gone (and no doubt contraception as well) and LGBTI people will lose all discrimination protections… and as for US trans people they are totally gone as they will be driven from society.

    Now that doesn’t matter to you personally so you can split hairs about it, but it sure as heck matters to us…. That’s the difference, this is an existential threat to us, to you a ‘detail’ to argue about.

    And that’s why you don’t get it when you analyse the election and the associated politics.

  54. Hugh

    So anyone who doesn’t support Hillary Clinton doesn’t get it? Well all right then. I’m glad we cleared that up. Does Brock pay you by the word or the comment?

  55. capelin

    @hugh. i think lisa’s comments here over the years make it clear that her motivations are from a place of consideration, passion, and legitimate fear. to hear trump say “yes, i think there should be some form of punishment for women who undergo abortions” instils fear in _my heart, and, well, i’m not ever going to ever be one of those women.

    what it would be like to be a woman, of colour, trans, or really anyone visibly or actively outside the norm in america right now, looking at the next few years…

    @lisa. stumping for 95% evil vs “total” evil is about lesser-evilism, full stop. you. are. deluding. yourself. if. you. can’t. grasp. that.

    this cycle of progressive people and progressive resources being co-opted by lesser-evil candidates plying identity politics ( look, i’m black! look, i’m a woman! look, i represent every-man!) _always leads to blacks, women, common people, the environment, and everything else we care about getting fucked up even worse than the last round, with no buildup of any viable alternative.

    thus the thread title. pinkwashing is real.

    think of all the energy that got co-opted to elect obama. think of the 800 pph hires out there now stumping for ms. 95% evil. and next time? rinse and repeat.

    how many paid staffers do the greens have federally in the u.s.? 20? 50?

    sure, vote strategically if you must. life and survival sometimes calls for repulsive but pragmatic choices. but lift not a finger organizing, supporting, apologizing, or justifying these murderous overlords.

    at least then you can honestly look in the mirror, and say you tried. or maybe, just maybe, you helped built something better, and didn’t let your mind and lifeblood get co-opted.

  56. Lisq

    Look I have long posted here my detestation of HRC and the US neo-con, neo-liberal establishment. That Trump if he had half a brain could easily win if he stayed in the middle on social issues, hammered on about trade pacts, was anti-war and pro US jobs (etc). Romp it in.

    Hated by both the GOP and Dem establishment his only threats were (a) Sanders being the Dem candidate who would win hands down or (b) self destructing.
    He chose (b).

    Worse by totally caving to the religious right he showed he’d cave just as much to the neo-cons and neo-liberals if he got into power and hence be no different to HRC on economic and foreign affairs issues.

    But that caving has cost him the election because it mobilised opposition to him from left and liberal areas that (a) didn’t like or trust Clinton, (b) hate neo-liberals and neo-cons (c) would probably not vote at all or vote Stein.

    Now we can see that Trump would be no different to HRC on nearly all issues except on women and LGBTI people. Those said women, LGBTI and all their supporters are now going full on to make sure Trump doesn’t get in, because he REALLY is worse than Clinton on those issues. His appalling sexism, heck outright misogyny just adds to that.

    To those here who are white middle class males our issues are so secondary to you it is not funny and some want Trump get in to piss on said establishment elites…the fact that we all get thumped (in trans people’s case we get eliminated from society) means nothing to you. ‘So what’ is what I hear.

    We who are involved in all this are just as knowing about HRC’s many faults, in fact many being so close to coalface even more so, many are burning in anger at what was done to Sanders. But..we have a crisis now and we cannot afford to let Trump in. So reluctantly, very much so in many cases, all people like that are now motivated and getting out there against Trump and that will turn the election. Worse for him, a lot of his constituency amongst the long done in poor and working class males are not socially conservative and are very disturbed about all this, many have wives and daughters and the attacks on women appall them…ditto many have LGBTI kids.

    This is not identity politics (except what is forced on us as we are being attacked just on our identity), it is not being politically correct, or being those all so hated ‘SJWs’…it is sheer survival. Something we will have to ensure without a lot of white middle class male support …’as usual’ as we say, but the days of ‘taking one for the team’ and our issues being ignored while others get pushed forward first are long dead and gone.

    Capelin: I have posted here several times about why, bit by bit, LGBTI people are getting successes while other ‘progressives’ fail at every turn.. one of the reasons is by NOT getting co-opted and being very strategic in what we do. The Archdruid did a whole article on this, one of the very few to really ‘get it’ which no others seem to be capable off due to their own sexism, homophobia and transphobia.

    We have lots of stories about how we have tried to create political alliances with other progressive groups and been knocked back by them, them going on to failure we onto success.
    Take an example, the US mainstream feminist elites are all white and middle/upper class who have nothing in common with 90% of women and have been totally co-opted…which is why US non elite women have been going backwards in every way (even with maternal deaths no less). But new groups and alliances are forming now with a lot of LGBTI support to counter that, as per that PP article.

    Don’t tell us we have been co-opted when just about every progressive group around in the US has been …except LGBTI people.

  57. Lisa

    And this is how you lose an election.

    “This was a tipping point for me. It made me feel physically sick.

    It brought back all the memories from times when I have felt abused and powerless in the face of this entitlement.

    Like in my early 20s, on the way to the gym, when a group of teenage boys ran past and one did exactly what Trump believes he can do to women with impunity: he grabbed me by the crotch. Then he laughed with his mates and ran off as I stood like a statue, stunned into passivity.

    In Rome, on a packed bus, a man rubbed himself against me as I tried to squeeze my body away from his assault. There was nothing I could do.

    As a teenager I repeatedly said no when a boy I had kissed pinned me to the cold steps of a tenement flat, his hands everywhere, He only stopped when I cried and yelled out for my friends. Then he called me a “cock tease”.

    At gigs, I have felt unwanted advances in the crush of the crowd, knowing it wasn’t right, but still unsure how to confront the faceless threat.

    Every woman has stories like this. If you don’t believe me, ask them. We have dealt with it for as long as we can remember. And it starts from the same place: from dismissing the objectification of women as “locker room banter” or just “harmless fun”.

    It starts with the “bro code” bullshit that legitimises sexual violence against women and teaches boys that they are entitled to do what they want with the female body.

    We have to call it out. And not just women. We need men to stand up and not accept this from the blokes around them. Whether it’s your mate, the guy next to you in the pub, or the potential next leader of the free world, say something, do something. That’s the only way things will change.”

    And: “Thank you Old White Man for speaking on behalf of women, telling us what we will and won’t mind.”

    I’m doing this as a political education exercise.

  58. Lisa

    The Archdruid being very perceptive on why the LGBTI movement had managed to clock up successes, which he compared to the total failure of the climate change movement. he identified some key factors and I added a few as well.

    1. Piggybacking
    One of the things that set the campaign for same-sex marriage rights apart from other movements for social change, in turn, is that it refused to fall for piggybacking.

    2 The Partisan Trap
    Both US parties have perfected the art of reducing once-independent movements for social change into captive constituencies, which keep on working to elect candidates for one or the other party, while getting essentially nothing in return.
    The campaign for same-sex marriage rights managed to break out of that trap despite the strenuous efforts of both parties to keep it in its assigned place.

    3. Purity Politics
    The creation of a movement that included Republican as well as Democratic gays, lesbians, and sympathetic straight people also violated another commandment of contemporary left-wing activism, which is that movements for social change must exclude everyone who fails any of a battery of tests of ideological purity. It’s been pointed out, and truly, that the Right looks for allies to attract while the Left looks for heretics to expel; this is one of the reasons that for the last forty years, the Right has been so much more successful than the Left.

    4 Pandering to the Privileged
    A great many soi-disant radicals have thus ended up trotting meekly along after the privileged classes, begging for scraps from the tables of the affluent rather than risking so much as a raised eyebrow of disapproval from them.

    The movement for same-sex marriage rights had a great advantage here, in that the policy changes it wanted to put in place were just as advantageous for wage-earning same-sex couples in Bowling Green and Omaha as for salary-class same-sex couples in Seattle and Boston

    I added:
    1) We police ‘sell outs’
    (2) The mitochondrial of the movement is the large number of local groups, plugged into their communities.
    (3) Having our own media.
    (4) Passion. These are our lives we are fighting for.
    (5) Volume. We didn’t let the haters run unopposed.
    (6) Playing the ‘long game’. Despite tactical set backs (and there were many) we keep on track.
    (7) Marginalise the bigots. Eventually they marginalise themselves.
    (8) Unity. Despite our diversity we know with 100% certainty that there is a large and powerful minority that want us all dead.
    (9) The intangible, the opposition is motivated by hate, we are not, we fight for positive things. So (using Boyd’s model) we have the Moral high ground, we know we are fighting for good things. Which in the end are very simple, just that we are treated like everyone else so we can have reasonable lives.

  59. Ian Welsh

    Gays plan hardball. I wrote about this repeatedly.

    They cut Obama off his goddamn money, and they mocked him and his wife to their face, publicly. It really isn’t complicated. They stayed on focus and played hardball.

    I’d be careful, though, Lisa. I’m not sure that a lot of gays aren’t willing to throw trans people of the bus.

  60. Hugh

    You can not build a society on identity politics, full stop. It’s a great tool of class war though, keeping us rubes at each other’s throats. Lesser evilism is another. It is what got us where we are now. How has that worked out for you? But rather than rejecting it, too many keep buying into it, that they are being responsible and sensible, even wise, for drinking poison out of a slightly less dirty glass. Well, you keep telling yourselves that and know that those in power love you. You are a grifter’s paradise and a guarantee of their job security.

  61. ks


    I mostly agree with you and it’s amazing to see the Identity Politics slur still being thrown around to dismiss and denigrate the concerns of other, always other, people. That fact those concerns are labeled Identity Politics while the concerns of others are not should be a clue that’s it a propaganda tool but apparently, our smarter than thou crowd here has a gigantic blind spot when it comes to it.

    You see “Yeah but…class warfare” only applies to your concerns. Identity politics only applies to your concerns. You are to eternally ignore your concerns and/or sit comfortably in the back of the bus until the smarter than thou crowd decides it’s the appropriate time for you to fight for them and you can do so only so long as your advocacy doesn’t distract from their bigger and more important ideas/plans/etc.

    I mean you’ve been told to that you can’t build a society on identity politics except apparently ones like here in the US which was built and explicitly (financially, legally, socially, etc.) put one identity above all all others for most of its history and it still lingers on today. I mean you have people here lamenting that (paraphrasing) “future generations are going to rue the supposed throwing away of their birthrights!”

    With that said, I agree with Ian in that’s it’s not complicated why the LGBT rights movement has had some good success lately and I think to compare it to the relative lack of success regarding the efforts around climate change is a bit misplaced.

  62. Hugh

    The Democratic party is the party of the status quo nowadays even more so than the Republicans. And identity politics is their bread and butter. So even though progressives can see that identity politics and change are antithetical, they nevertheless dutifully line up and salute it. And they wonder why no one takes them seriously and they remain so marginal.

    Most of the advances in gay rights, for example, began at the state level, and then at both the state and federal level, in the courts. The Executive and Legislative branches have mostly played catch up and bowing to the inevitable. Indeed their strategy at most appears to have been embracing a latter day version of “separate but equal.” But OMG, Trump. Whatever.

  63. nihil obstet

    Don’t confuse identity politics with efforts for equality and inclusion. Significant inequality is bad and would still be bad if the race, gender, and ethnicity of the top 1% exactly replicated the population as a whole. Identity politics is built on the idea that changing the makeup of the power structure will automatically help others in the same category — the poor black child is helped just by having a black president; the woman facing sexual abuse is helped if we have a woman president. We do live in a propaganda state, and symbols are important. However, symbolism has limited effect; during the black president’s administration, the wealth and income gaps between blacks and whites widened.

    Addressing concerns that apply to everyone — like workplace rights, wages, adequate health care, and the like — is not simply selfishness on the part of the dominant category of persons. To the extent that you think it is, yes, you are singing the accompaniment to the elites’ happy dance.

  64. capelin

    lisa wrote:
    “This is not a ‘ lesser evil’ is pure evil if you are a woman or LGBTI. There is nothing ‘lesser’ about it,…”

    this is how your described the situation.

    ks wrote:
    “I mostly agree with you and it’s amazing to see the Identity Politics slur still being thrown around to dismiss and denigrate the concerns of other, always other, people. That fact those concerns are labeled Identity Politics while the concerns of others are not should be a clue that’s it a propaganda tool but apparently, our smarter than thou crowd here has a gigantic blind spot when it comes to it.”

    speaking of slurs being thrown around.

    identity politics works. obama was useful for attracting people of colour, but also attracting “liberal” whites, women, and youths. they got their 8 years out of that brand, it’s expired now, on to the perky experienced woman brand.

    i’m not dis-ing anyone who looks like these brands, i’m dissing the use of these brands, and the ease with which people fall for it. if you don’t, well, great. lots of people do.

  65. ks

    It’s almost hilarious. So, the idea that a black kid wanting a black potus or a women wanting a woman potus is evil identity politics but the system that was explicitly set up to, and has in fact , overwhelmingly benefited one identity group is “just the way things are” I suppose. It’s real funny how it’s all of a sudden “just symbolism” or a “distraction from the real issues” when people other than the usual suspects get their hands on the steering wheel of the empire.

    Trump is nakedly running an identity politics campaign targeting the “angry while male” demographic while Hillary is certainly targeting women but only the latter is the dreaded identity politics but not the former. Right. I knew some of you had a blind spot but I didn’t realize how fixed it is. You still don’t realize that “identity politics” has been part and parcel of US history and that this recent labeling of only the particular concerns of minorities, women, etc. as identity politics is just a newish propaganda tool designed to dismiss those concerns and maintain the status quo.

    Just how gullible are some of you? Don’t answer that as most of you fell for Bernie’s sheepdogging AND are rationalizing Trump’s loud and obvious con.

    Also, stop with the weak dodges as none of what I’m saying is in support of Hillary and the “addressing the concerns that apply to everyone” line is silly as you can do that and help address the injustice others face in their daily lives. It’s not a zero sum game or mutually exclusive matters. I’m sure say BLM activists would love to have a panel discussion on workplaces rights or minimum wages and I’m sure they’ll get back to you once cops stop killing black people under highly dubious circumstances. In the meantime, while you’re comfortably waiting please feel free to dismiss their concerns as distractions, lecture them about how to protest and assert that they are practicing identity politics because most of them likely voted for Obama. That should be helpful.

  66. Hugh

    OK, one more go round. Identity politics is different from issue-related politics. Various groups have legitimate issues which they wanted addressed. Identity politics is not about that.

    Identity politics is about a candidate or party treating certain groups as commodities defined not by the issues they are interested in but on the basis of their identity. Obama did nothing for African-Americans while in office, this despite the fact that African-Americans were the group that proportionally lost the most wealth in the 2007 housing bust and 2008 meltdown and still suffered from the effects of discrimination both past and present. So Obama’s appeal to them, as one of them, as an African-American, was one of identity politics. The same goes for Hillary Clinton’s appeal to women. She has done remarkably little for women in her political career for them. Her life has had little or nothing in common with the vast majority of women in this country. She has not led on any major issue, but her position remains that women should vote for her because she is a woman. This too is identity, not issue, politics.

    If we look at the groups Democrats are targeting this election: women, African-Americans, Hispanics, and LGBT, it quickly becomes apparent that issues with specific and substantial responses to them play virtually no role in their appeal. This is identity politics writ large.

    You may hate Donald Trump but his support among “angry” white males is issue, not identity, based. He is not appealing to them as a white male. Nor is he even targeting them as a specific group. They support him because he is anti-immigration and anti-free trade.

    One of the things that progressives really need and substantially lack is clarity. They will pillory the wingnut right for running down insane rabbit holes, and then they will turn around and run down their own equally insane ones. They will castigate Trump for his obvious misogyny and racism and then go through all kinds of verbal gymnastics to explain away the Democrats’ cynical use of identity politics. It is an exercise which is, at the same time, transparent and unconvincing. If progressives wish to be something other than marginal, they should stop engaging in activities which trash their credibility and doom them to marginality.

  67. ks

    “You may hate Donald Trump but his support among “angry” white males is issue, not identity, based. He is not appealing to them as a white male. Nor is he even targeting them as a specific group. They support him because he is anti-immigration and anti-free trade.”

    Goodness…Oh for the love of….just stop. Of course Trump is appealing to them based on their identity as angry white males and targeting them as a specific group. The alt-right types know it, the Brietbart types know it hell even David Duke knows it and they have flocked to his campaign. They get it and know that Trump’s largely incoherent anti-immigration and anti-trade stances are ruses and merely cover. As if things like Birtherism and the attacking the judge who’s overseeing a key lawsuit against him based on his heritage and the juvenile Miss Universe nonsense and so on and on have anything to do with “anti-immigration and anti-free trade”.

    It’s remarkable that they get it and have responded unapologetically and accordingly but somehow smarter than thou folks make excuses for it and play the both sides game. I don’t hate Trump but as a native NYCer, I’m well aware of his act. He’s been a talking out of both sides of his mouth blustering fool and conman for decades.

  68. Hugh

    Progressives when they play fast and loose with categories, ideas, and tactics, and then go all high and mighty on the right for engaging in the same deceitful anticks, when they cast aspersions on and belittle groups, as with “angry” white males, name calling they would never tolerate to describe their own favored groups, and when they can’t or won’t tell the difference between identity and issue politics are plain and simply being dishonest. And as I said before, they doom progressivism to remain marginal.

    Let me be clear. I will not vote for any Democrat or any Republican. To do so is validate a corrupt system. Progressives really need to get over themselves. They think they are so much better and smarter than everyone because they only fall for 90% of the cant and propaganda they are fed and not the 100% they think everyone else does. Progressives should be using this election as a learning experience on what is real in our political system and what isn’t, what has substance and what doesn’t, and how to better organize and reach out to all groups, and in doing all this come up with a unifying vision for the society Americans want. But they aren’t. They are falling back into their usual and failed patterns, and wondering why nothing changes.

  69. nihil obstet


    “the ‘addressing the concerns that apply to everyone’ line is silly as you can do that and help address the injustice others face in their daily lives.”

    You’ll have to explain why my line is silly. It is, as you mention here but seem to rail against in the rest of your comment, possible to address both broad-based concerns and the injustice that others exclusively face in their daily lives. Many people are part of both Black Lives Matter and Fight for 15. They aren’t waiting until cops quit killing black people to address also the injustice of low wages.

    As for your statement, “please feel free to dismiss their concerns as distractions, lecture them about how to protest and assert that they are practicing identity politics because most of them likely voted for Obama. That should be helpful.” No, I don’t do that. The people I work with on political issues don’t do that. If the people you know do that, you should find a different crowd to hang around with. That’s part of the all-you-groups-fight-over-issues-of-respect-and-dissing that the elites love. It keeps us from looking at issues of real power. It is precisely identity politics.

  70. realitychecker

    @ ks

    “the “addressing the concerns that apply to everyone” line is silly as you can do that and help address the injustice others face in their daily lives. It’s not a zero sum game or mutually exclusive matters”

    Firstly, I’ve been seeing your comments for years, here and at FDL, and you NEVER comment from anyplace but your little victimhood window, almost always just about race, but sometimes in support of what you perceive to be your fellow victims–that is identity politics and nothing else.

    The proof is in your above-quoted comment, which is pure bullshit. As a lawyer, my prime concerns are about civil liberties, rule of law, and accountability, i.e.. issues that affect ALL of us citizens.

    Under Obama, you got to0 big to jail banks (and other corporations, as POLICY); lost habeus corpus; got constantly increased surveillance; continuation of the entire Bush police state regimen (including all those kooky US Attorneys Bush appointed after firing ALL the previous ones en masse); massive increases and diversifications of war activities; and the regularization of free speech zones which are actual cages. Those are the things that destroy all of our freedoms.

    Yet, no protests have been heard about ANY of that from the blacks, gays, and women who perceived Obama to be on their side because of their identities. Least of all from YOU!!!!!

    So, no, we can’t do it all. Or, at least, we WON’T. We only do one or two things at a time in this country. Limited attention span, and all that. So, we must sometimes choose whether to fight for the most basic freedoms for ALL OF US, or settle for getting this or that smaller squeaky wheel greased. Your particular squeaky wheel has been greased enough for the time being. How about the freedoms being taken away from people like me and the majority, as well as you? Not worth getting upset about?

    Why should we in the mainstream give a damn anymore about your “concerns” and “feelings,” why should we defer our concerns and, instead, support you, when you and other identity politics afficionados so obviously DO NOT GIVE A DAMN about our mutual liberty issues, even while overall freedom is disappearing? (Or even give a damn about your own freedoms/issues, whenever they diverge from your sacred, specifically tribal, issues?)

    Your place in this universe, sir, since you are obviously still searching for it, is to help populate the circular firing squad that has always been the left side of the political spectrum. And you know what? OUR MASTERS LOVE YOU FOR IT!!!!!


  71. Lisa

    KS: “Trump is appealing to them based on their identity as angry white males and targeting them as a specific group”

    Yes I half agree that was the winning strategy for him at first, but note he stuck to addressing their economic issues like off shoring, trade pacts, unrestricted immigration, low wages and all the rest while, at first, being moderate on social issues ..a winning formula if he had stuck to it.

    Those while males were finally waking up to how much they have been dudded by right wing ‘identity politics’, that their ‘psychological wage’ from feeling (and being endlessly told they were) superior to non-white, LGBTI people, women and the rest didn’t pay the bills, it was a rare awakening for some of them.

    People (and I note some rather silly comments here) forget the biggest pushers of ‘identity politics’ have always been the right (and especially the so called ‘christian’ right), pushing white male superiority to those poor and working class men, all while picking their pockets. The ‘niggahs’, ‘hoes’, ‘sluts’, ‘trannies’, ‘pooftahs’, ‘dole bludgers’ being kept down made them feel all warm and fuzzy inside, which kept them going for 40+ years while they were under endless economic attack.

    Trump blew that by then moving right back to the good old right wing, ’christian’, ‘male supremacy’, ‘white supremacy’ ‘identity politics’ GOP script of the last decades The religious right loved it as did the so called ‘alt right’, but it destroyed any chance of a general reach out to a larger constituency.

    People do tend to forget not all those poor/working class white males are racist or religious or even conservative. The polls showed that with Sanders, his very left wing (by US standards) message reached right out to so many of those men.

  72. Lisa

    realitychecker(?): “Firstly, I’ve been seeing your comments for years, here and at FDL, and you NEVER comment from anyplace but your little victimhood window, almost always just about race, but sometimes in support of what you perceive to be your fellow victims–that is identity politics and nothing else.”

    That is the voice of privilege talking … though of course you don’t see that as such.

    I’m part of the LBBTI community and do some activism on behalf of that.
    We are a small part of the population, long attacked, vilified, been 2nd class legally, economically many are at the absolute bottom of the heap, hated by many, often attacked and even murdered. Politicians lining up and shouting out all the time how they will eliminate us. Not something you will ever experience.

    We have to look after ourselves, because you lot won’t. Our issues are literally life and death to us.. your issues about your levels of comfort or discomfort. So we tend to be a bit more motivated.

    And we get a bit pissed off when we get lectured to about ‘why don’t we do something about X’…right.

    What about the vast majority, like yourself, who created all the problems in the first place and who could fix it if they got off their fat arses?

    Don’t see you out there fighting for our lives, we have to do that ourselves .. and then you have the gall to criticise us because we won’t go and fix the issues you care so much about and do nothing about????

    And as for that ‘more important things first’ nonsense .. remember the ‘life or death’ bit, and if we waited for you lot to do something for us we’d might get a (small) bone thrown our way maybe in the next millennium or two…

    You know what we hear when people say that? This: ”Go and die you perverts, but before you do it can you fix climate change, the economy, economic inequality, war and the environment for us first”…..

  73. ks


    Oh shut up with your usual nonsense of trying to “categorize” my comments as a dumb way of trying to dismiss them. Who cares where you claim to have seen me before and what I decide to comment on has nothing to do with anything. That rhetorical attack device is as pathetic as your continued delusional ranting about identity politics.

    Your comment about Obama reminds me of when that old closet case crook Ed Koch was finally turned out of the Mayor’s office in NYC. Election after election after election black voters gave him a super majority of their votes but finally along came the black Manhattan borough president Dinkins to run against him and he got the super majority of black votes, and the majority of votes in general, as he won the primary election against Koch. The old crook was outraged and accused blacks of “block voting” (they didn’t call it identity politics back then) which of course was a hollow whine as he sure didn’t mind when they “block voted” in his favor.

    But all this Obama talk is a deflection as nobody here supports Obama and I knew he was a fraud long before you even knew he existed.

    I previously asked how gullible were some of you but now I can see that was the wrong question. It’s not gullibility so much as it is a deep seated denial. How on earth can you rationally accuse others of “identity politics” when, as I said before, this country was explicitly set up to benefit/target/whatever one identity (white males) over all others and has generally done so for most of its history? It’s absurd to slur the blacks who voted for Obama and the women who will vote for Hillary but give the white guys who will vote for Trump a pass because you know they are really concerned about “economic insecurities” (wink, wink). Ridiculous.

  74. ks


    Re your response to my comment: Yes, well said especially the important clarification regarding rightwing “identity politics” that too many here refuse to see. About Trump, perhaps but, he never had the discipline to stay on message and his current gambit seems to be to go down in flames spectacularly and monetize his followers later probably via a “Trump TV/media” sort of brand. With Ailes and Bannon on board, he could out Fox Fox TV. The timing is right too as Glen Beck, Rush and even Fox are either fading or starting to do so.

    Re your response to realitychecker: The self centered arrogance is astounding. It would be hard to name a “more important things first…” issue that minorities, women, LGBTI, etc. haven’t been actively involved in. Somehow the people like him/her who can’t even get a majority population of straight white folks to join the cause but yet refuse to call them out for fear of offending them (oh noes, can’t have that!) have no problem “punching down” and deriding, insulting minorities, women, LGBTI, etc. who have been their allies but also have the nerve to attend to the issues that are often immediate life and death issues for them.

    A conversation between Eric Garner and a realitychecker type would have gone as follows:

    Eric Garner – I can’t breathe!

    realitychecker – Well yes, climate change is a problem.

    Eric Garner – I can’t breathe!

    realitychecker – Well yes, if there was a decent living wage you wouldn’t have needed to sell cigarettes on the corner.

    Eric Garner – I can’t breathe!

    realitychecker – Well yes, but remember police lives matter too so we wouldn’t want to offend the white working class by making too much of a fuss about it.

    Eric Garner – I can’t breathe!

    realitychecker – Well yes, you’ve told me that already several times. Give it a rest will ya!? After all, there are more important things we have to deal with first.

  75. Lisa

    Ks: Yep “this country was explicitly set up to benefit/target/whatever one identity (white males) ”

    Add ‘white, heterosexual, nominally ‘christian’ males.

  76. Lisa

    Ks: Well said. I will shamelessly steal that ‘Garner’ bit and recycle it elsewhere….sums it up beautifully.

    For such a large dominant majority they are so sensitive to anyone even questioning them .. reminds of all those anti-LGBTI people who seem to think that heterosexuality is so fragile that if someone sees or even hears about someone who is gay or trans they will immediately turn themselves…. “got to keep those pooftahs down and in the closet because if we don’t we will all become pooftahs” sort of thing (yes people actually say that, unreal) .

  77. NRG

    The left is playing identity politics but the right isn’t. Anyone who disagrees is being paid by David Brock? Have I got it so far, Hugh?

    How much is Putin paying you per word? See how much fun accusations of bad faith and guilt by association are?

  78. realitychecker

    @ ks
    @ Lisa

    You two should get a room. You could make beautiful mewling together.

    Neither of your identity groups would ever have gotten off the floor without the support of people like me, and both groups have always had my support. ALL THE WAY.

    So, how very charming it is to see now how comfortable you both are to stereotype me based on “white”and use that stereotype to launch a bunch of completely inaccurate speculations. I guess that must be part of the “victim privilege.”

    When people like me supported your groups, it was because we looked beyond our own selfish concerns, and had a community-based ethic. What I see is that you have a selfish identity tunnel vision that is so absolute that you mock the idea of ever thinking in terms of an overall community concern. Even when the concern is about the rule of law and civil liberties in general. Even when those are the very things that provide the fundamental societal infrastructure that allows your identity groups to even talk openly about things like justice and inequality. You both appear to find it more profitable to be the victms demanding justice from the community, than to defend the interests of the community itself.

    ks, I refer to your history at FDL to let you know that I have seen you foaming-at-the-mouth batshit crazy over Trayvon, where you called me a racist for pointing out that it is legal to shoot anyone who is on top of you and banging your head on concrete, period.

    And Lisa, any time I see your name, I am pretty sure the letters LGBT will be prominently featured in the following comment. (Now, the “I” is added; I must be horrible for not knowing what that denotes lol.)

    Thought experiment: The trial evidence clearly showed that Trayvon left the safety of his father’s house to double back and beat up Zimmerman because he thought Zimmerman might be gay. How does that affect your beautiful budding partnership?

    I’ll go get the popcorn.

  79. Hugh

    NRG, the essence of identity politics is to garner a group’s support and votes based on how that group defines itself without offering them anything substantial. The only groups Clinton is offering anything substantial to are Wall Street, the banks, the rich, and the defense industry. These are interest groups, not identity groups. Both she and the Democrats have nothing on offer for the middle class, women, African-Americans, Hispanics, and LGBT. Indeed they have records of working against the interests of all these groups. So their appeal to these groups is based purely on identity, not interests, not issues. Trump has used the identity political approach with only one group, evangelicals. With white males and the not college educated, he has run an issue/interest based campaign.

    This kind of analysis is not hard. It only becomes so when people’s vision becomes clouded by their ongoing attachment to one of the parties, in the case of this thread, the Democratic party. What is interesting in this election cycle is that only two candidates, Trump and Sanders, did not run primarily identity based campaigns, both were populists, or tapped into the populist vein, and Sanders was and Trump is being run out of town on a rail by the Establishment. The real way to view this election is as a battle between populism and the Establishment, and the lengths and the number of components the Establishment has mobilized to ensure its victory. Trump is an ugly human being, but it would not have mattered if he were Saint Francis of Assisi. The Establishment would have gone after him until it had destroyed him and his candidacy. And in favor of what? A completely corrupt, warmongering grifter, but still a member in good standing of their club. And they are counting on the rubes to be rubes, and that they will vote for a candidate who will work against their interests every damn day she is in office, because if you’re black you vote Democrat and if you are female, you vote for the female, and if you are progressive, you clutch your pearls and vote for the lesser of two evils. And the country will continue to go to hell, and you will continue to blame everyone but yourselves that it is.

  80. realitychecker

    @ Hugh

    Not that you need my affirmation, but after many years, I just want to thank you for being you. I sometimes need you to remind me by example that not everybody has completely lost their minds. Some still know how to do a competent analysis.


  81. Lisa

    realitychecker: The ‘I’ stands for intersex, the worst treated group of all. In virtually every country in the world when a child is born with ambiguous genitals (or even just not ‘prefect’ looking) a gender is picked for them and extensive surgery preformed to make them that, sometimes with repeated surgery over many years.

    All without the child’s consent whatsoever.

    No waiting until they get older and seeing how their gender identity forms (usually between 3-6) and letting them choose one gender or another ..or neither if they wish.

    Naturally they get it wrong and young boys are made into girls and vice versa and then they suffer gender dysphoria like transgender people do and have to fight to try and get it reversed to become their true gender.

    They also do thing like trim the clitoris if it is seen to be ‘too big’ not caring about future affects on sensitivity (who cares about women’s sexuality after all).
    It is the west’s equivalent of FGM, female gender mutilation surgery

    It is cruel, unnecessary (what is so wrong with waiting some years?), it is a desperate urge to fit someone into the gender binary whether they like it or not. It has left a trail of broken people with wrecked lives.

    Note that you could have found this out in a few seconds with google…which shows your total lack of care about LGBTI people.

  82. Robert

    My political consciousness awoke with the 1960 election. It was blown on 11-22-63. One thing I’ve learned is that looking in the rear view mirror at ‘history’ is not the same as living through it. Nixon was my generation’s trump. Make no mistake about it. We knew he was in bed with the mob, we knew 2 years before the press announced it that the u.s. had been bombing Laos and Cambodia. We were not surprised by Watergate or the plumbers because we knew about nixon’s involvement with the house committee on un-American activities and support from the texas right-wing- we knew about Hoover- christ I was interviewed by the fbi after a protest on campus and they knew everything about everyone. Army intelligence and fib’s were everywhere. And, lest you fail to recall, there was the fucking draft and the beloved lottery. nixon was not okay, he was very, very bad because he was smart and trump is maybe crafty.

  83. realitychecker

    @ Lisa

    Thanks for telling me what the “I” stands for; FYI, before I typed my last comment, I asked my lady what it meant, and she did not have any idea, although for 22 years she has been a CDC specialist in the areas of adolescent sexual health and education and AIDS/STD prevention, and would automatically and ferociously attack anyone who spoke against your group. SO, according to you, I guess she doesn’t give a damn about LGBT issues, either.

    Can’t you see that your tunnel vision is so acute that it’s hard for people to see things your way, and also hard for you to accurately understand where others are coming from? For example, I would support your position on every single thing you referenced here, and always have, EXCEPT that I would never elevate your concerns, which affect so few percentage-wise, to be the paramount issue for a country of 1/3 billion people who are in the final stage of losing their democracy. It seems to me that your victim mentality prevents you from having any decent sense of proportionality vis a vis the larger community. And that’s a shame, because you obviously have a decent brain.

    The rule of law, along with the things that flow from it, i,e, civil liberties, accountability, consent of the governed, allows all of us to have a sense of security and the ability to aspire to our various personal goals. It is the one essential ingredient. And Hillary represents its absolute antithesis. That’s where my focus will be until this election is over.

  84. realitychecker

    @ Lisa

    Let me just add that the vast majority of clitoral mutilations take place in the Muslim countries that Hillary can’t say anything bad about. I think they are all atrocities.

    But she is the pro-woman candidate? Touching a pussy (or just talking about one) is worse than cutting off a piece of it? How do you do the math on that incongruity?

    My head spins from the stupidity of where we are now. We can’t survive with this level of stupidity.

  85. Lisa

    realitychecker: What is it about ‘power to act’ that people don’t get. Or that the old argument ‘that is so much worse over there, so what we do is not that bad so we don’t need to do anything about it’.

    There is only so much we can do (and it will take time) about FGM in other countries ..but we can stop genital mutilation of intersex babies right now in our countries. Tomorrow, with a stroke of a pen.

    The facts about FGM elsewhere doesn’t change that one little bit. We have ‘power to act’ right here and now in our own places.

    I’ve heard these types of arguments all my life, they are all ones to basically ‘do nothing’… “perfection is the enemy of the practical”.
    “Oh yes we will fix your (trivial) issue when we fix climate change, poverty, soil erosion ..the heat death of the universe…”.

    As for LGBTI, Google it… I get:
    LGBT – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    In Australia, the Commonwealth Government uses the initials ‘LGBTI’ to refer collectively to people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and/or intersex.
    National LGBTI Health Alliance
    Our work with LGBTI communities – Beyondblue
    Recognising and addressing the mental health needs of the LGBTI
    …. and all the rest.

    Amazing the number of people who haven’t heard of Google. It is a search engine, type in something and it will search the internet for it, like type in ‘LGBTI’ and press enter (or mouse click of course).
    Then type in ‘intersex’…

  86. realitychecker

    @ Lisa

    Hey Lisa, guess what? I’ve had a whole bunch of very difficult issues thrust upon me in my life that you probably don’t know OR CARE A DAMN about.

    Get over yourself–your pet issues do not have to be the most important issues for those of us who don’t experience your issues. Learn to have a sense of proportionality, why don’t you?

    Clarification: My lady, the sex education specialist, would want everybody to know that she did guess that “I” meant “intersex” when I queried her about it; she just didn’t seem to me to be sure of herself when she said it.

    Yes, Lisa, we all know what Google is–how many important things do you think exist that you don’t know anything about but never Googled because they just didn’t trigger a “need to know” impulse in you?

    Might I suggest the small numbers of intersex mutilations you focus on are at least an attempt to do right by the child, BUT the many genital mutilations in the Muslim world are intended to remove any chance of sexual gratification, clearly not a friendly thing to do.

    How do pro-women advocates call Hillary a womens champion when she is silent on this and so relentlessly and uncritically pro-Muslim in her policy positions?

    The problem with pro-identity activists like yourself is you have no sense of proportion or perspective, but simply demand that the whole world make your top concern into their top concern. What makes you so special? Why is it OK for you to ignore my top concern, the rule of law, which affects each and every one of us?

  87. nihil obstet

    Forgive me if I’m misunderstanding the positions being pushed here. I think the basic question is “How do we best focus our efforts for a better world?” And my best attempt at an answer is that we should form broad coalitions that seek both to improve most people’s access to dignity and to include the previously and current excluded in that world. Without the coalitions, we’re left as small groups that can be easily set against each other and defeated.

    I’m hearing from Lisa and ks that this answer is symptomatic of a smug and disdainful privilege. They judge me as at best silly and more likely unjust, clinging to my privilege at their expense. I don’t understand how they are arguing I should focus my efforts. Is everyone to be despised who does not focus primary efforts on justice for the LGBTI in the western developed world? I’m a member of Amnesty International, a real white-bread group I guess. I regularly write letters for human rights abuses around the world. I tend to focus on women’s and labor rights, but I have written a number of letters for homosexuals persecuted primarily in Muslim countries. I’ll do virtually any such case in Saudi Arabia on the theory that countries dependent on the USA are more likely to be influenced by letters from the USA.

    Lisa now points out that efforts for FGM abroad are not the issue, because there’s only so much we can do and it will take time. If I don’t devote myself to LGBTI in western developed countries, Lisa says I am treating her injustice as trivial, while she understands that there’s only so much we can do and that means not devoting herself to FGM issues abroad. I think an FGM person abroad can regard Lisa in the same way she regards us, someone who enjoys privilege they do not have and is comfortable with that. Meanwhile, am I displaying privilege by dilettanting in something like Amnesty International?

    LGBTIs, blacks, Native Americans, American Muslims, hispanics, women — all these and more lack the degree of privilege that white heterosexual religious men have. This is not right. However, when members of each group insist that everyone must prioritize their group’s issues or be guilty of supporting privilege, it comes across as a victim contest that only the elites are going to win.

    You should devote your efforts to the problem that you experience, understand, and are passionate about, but I suggest that it’s defeating to include in those efforts, condemnation of everyone else.

  88. realitycheckers

    @ nihil obstet

    Bravo. You said it much more gracefully than I did in my last response to Lisa which Ian, in his finite wisdom, chose to delete. 😉

  89. realitycheckers

    ON EDIT: Ian has not deleted my comment, but is holding it in moderation for quite a while . . .

    The microinvalidation is in the eye of the beholder lol ???

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