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

Open Thread

Use the comments of this post to discuss topics unrelated to recent posts.


Is California a Third World State?


Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – November 3, 2019



    A little local Sacramento, CA commentary aligned with Ian\’s posts…

  2. Eric Anderson

    Good stuff Mark. What’s your @ ?

  3. Ian Welsh

    Good piece Mark.

  4. StewartM

    Been reading Ian, but no chance to post the past several weeks.

    But I saw in the news last night that two of the candidates the Dem Establishment supposedly preferred to win, and for whom Biden’s campaign was supposedly merely some ‘stalking horse’ to prepare for–Beto and Harris–have either dropped out outright (Beto) or the campaign is in desperation mode (Harris; shutting down in New Hampshire).

    Me, I never understood the logic of those who argued this. When there are only a handful of somewhat ‘leftist’ candidates–Sanders, Gabbard, Warren–versus almost two dozen centrist neoliberal Dem wannabes, the latter can’t help but to split up the vote between them. Biden could be and was never a ‘stalking horse’ for Beto, Harris, or Mayor Pete to use as a boost. Quite the contrary, his entry (because of his name recognition) is *killing* their chances. If the Dem establishment had really wanted any of these to be the next Obama, they would have told Biden to ‘STAY OUT’.

  5. edmondo

    Who needs Republicans? We have corrupt Democrats. I can’t wait to see the turnout for “Nothing is going to Change”Biden next November.

    “Speaker Nancy Pelosi is issuing a pointed message to Democrats running for president in 2020: Those liberal ideas that fire up the party’s base are a big loser when it comes to beating President Trump,” Politico reports.

    “Proposals pushed by Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders like Medicare for All and a wealth tax play well in liberal enclaves like her own district in San Francisco but won’t sell in the Midwestern states that sent Trump to the White House in 2016, she said.”

  6. Forty-seven percent (47%) of the country is functionally illiterate, by definition cannot read and follow the directions necessary to properly fill out a standardized employment application. There it is: my poll test, my literacy test … if you can read and follow the directions necessary to properly fill out a job application, you can vote. If not, no. No vote. Stupid people should not vote.

  7. ven

    The trouble is Ten Bears, “clever” people have been running the country and the corporations – and see where that has got us. Functionally illiterate serfs is where they want the population to be.

  8. bruce wilder

    I never understood the logic

    the logic of Biden’s candidacy was that he blocked Sanders from accumulating numbers and “momentum”.

    a big part of the Democrat’s general election and even primary election vote pays no attention to politics until three weeks max before they are asked to show up and vote. And, even then they understand very little of what is being said. The corporate political Media obscure what candidates represent with narratives chosen for their click-bait potential and for their compatibility with the prejudices of billionaire owners of Media outlets and key corporate business executives. a lot of coverage in commercial political media, in to sound-bites and 30-second spots, is so-called horse-race coverage that encourages low-information voters to “go with a winner” without even trying to understand the kind of policy the candidate advocates.

    the trick, from an establishment perspective is to get to that three week window, with the outcome still in doubt and the mindspace filled with noise. Sanders and Warren have name recognition and Sanders has core support among activists who do pay a lot of attention to politics, some of whom are influential. As long as Sanders remains an also-ran, the Media do not have to cover his “issues” much and they are not obligated by the traditional conventions of horse-race coverage to acknowledge his popularity or “momentum” — in other words, they do not have to recruit “go with a winner” voters for him.

    as it is, I think if you look carefully, you would see the corporate Media has a thumb on the scale — CNN, that epitome of corporate news media — has often slighted Sanders in its traditional torrent of horse-race coverage, and other outlets follow similar practices. the NY Times reporter on the Sanders beat has significant ties to the financial sector and pans Sanders regularly as “struggling” to “reach” this group or that in a narrative of a failing campaign.

    all of this depends on Sanders not taking an early lead and building on it. other would-be “centrist” candidates have to test market their “narrative” and by implication, hypocrisies and calculated betrayals of the public interest, as if they were a new soap or processed food, and having refined their “appeal” in Iowa and New Hampshire and, possibly, South Carolina (and this coming year, possibly California), get close enough to Sanders and Warren to be “credible” or to “score an upset” even if by “upset” is meant a third or fourth place finish that “beats expectations”.

    i am not a big follower of “issue” polling, but i would tend to think most Democratic voters want a contradiction-in-terms, a soothing centrist who “brings us together” and preserves the status quo but also brings about a fundamental and near-revolutionary re-structuring of politics and economics. revolutionary change is frightening, no matter how acute the pain of the deteriorating status quo, and most people struggle to imagine a politics that isn’t 90% b.s. and symbolic gestures to make “the tribe” feel good about “us v them”. it is a confused electorate at best, and one that cleaves along age/generational lines — younger people on the whole in greater pain and less anxious about change, but also less likely to vote for anyone.

    one thing about Biden is that he represents many of the policies that dug the hole the U.S. is in. his avuncular political persona and association with an image of Obama the Good is about all that he has going for him and even that persona is visibly deteriorating due to his age-related infirmities. on policy, he’s an historic horror show of championing free trade, banksters, punitive bankruptcy laws, debt peonage and perpetual war. not that many of those three-week voters have much capacity for understanding the politics of policy or the corporate political news Media much capacity for communicating it.

    and, another thing about Biden is that Biden has proven in previous outings that he is a terrible candidate, almost certain to self-destruct before the voting begins in earnest. so, Biden seems like someone who will not frighten off anyone aiming for the putative “center” — no professional political operative takes the Biden candidacy’s ability to stay the distance seriously. anyone advising Buttigieg, or Harris or Beto, is going to assure their candidates and donors that Biden will fade on schedule and in the meantime, they need to spend their time and money building their “brand” in Iowa and New Hampshire, where the three-week window stretches out and comes early (and South Carolina and California) so they are ready when “the curtain comes down” so to speak. Harris and Beto have failed, but Buttigieg surprises a bit and Warren is guarding her right-flank with surprising effectiveness in an effort to be that contradiction-in-terms the Democratic electorate seems to want — the reasonable centrist cum revolutionary who will “fight for us” but won’t fight too loudly or change much.

  9. bruce wilder

    yeah, Ten Bears, most of my friends and acquaintances are credentialed enough that I have to believe they can read quite well, but their political IQ’s are often barely above that of a box of rocks. these are people who were sure Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11 back in the day, and are sure Russia is why Trump beat Hillary Clinton. They can spell, “emolument” but they do not see how it might apply to the Clinton Foundation as well as it does to Saudi diplomats paying rack rates at a Trump hotel. and they are sure Obama “saved us” from a second Great Depression, but do not care that six banks dominate the banking sector, or cannot “do the math” on the consequences of that outcome. mostly, their contempt for Trump seems more about their own virtue compared to the “racists” they imagine form the core of Trump’s support than about, say, Betsy DeVos’s effort to destroy public education or really anything of real policy consequence.

  10. Hugh

    I agree with StewartM. Candidates like Beto and Harris spent their moment in the sun waffling, not standing for anything, and generally turning voters off. Their candidacies didn’t catch fire because they spent so much of their time pouring water over them. Biden entered because the conservative Establishment Democratic offerings were so weak. His biggest assets were his ties to Obama and his name recognition. Those are already beginning to flag. I am struck by how much Trump and Biden resemble each other: Two old white men with mild to moderate dementia who have been on the public scene way too long. Both represent the interests of the rich. The differences are mostly atmospheric. Trump does his right wing nativist and racist schtick for the rubes while Biden flogs both his pseudo-workingman and professional Establishment credentials.

    In jobs news, the October report is out.

    Seasonally unadjusted, October marks the beginning of the end of the year holiday jobs build. In October, the private sector added 556,000 jobs (which is in range but unspectacular). The January to October growth for 2019 is 741,000 less than my benchmark year 2014 (4.009 million vs 4.750 million). Net 2019 job creation (Jan-Oct jobs growth minus the previous Dec-Jan jobs drop off) is 868,000 fewer than in 2014 (1.578 million vs 3.446 million).

    Total nonfarm jobs (private and public sectors combined) increased 947,000 in October (low in range). 2019 January-October growth is 711,000 fewer than in 2014 (4.667 million vs 5.378 million). And net job creation 815,000 fewer than in 2014 (1.759 million vs 2.574 million).

    The take-home remains the same that by pretty much any measure, 2019 remains the worst year for jobs in the last six years. I do not see anything changing that between now and the end of the year.

    edmondo, Pelosi is a rich conservative Establishment politician. They are always telling us how we can’t have nice things and how the smart move for Democrats is to be more like Republicans. This last especially hypocritic and self-serving seeing as a candidate like Bernie Sanders is precisely the kind of guy with a populist message that appeals to independents and cuts into Trump’s base.

  11. Hugh

    I also agree with bruce. The Constitution has two emoluments clauses. The domestic emoluments refers only to the President and is found in Article II, Section 1, Clause 7. Article II describes the Executive.

    The foreign emoluments occurs in Article I and refers to any public official in government:
    Article 1, Section 9, Clause 8. “No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince or foreign State.” It’s pretty clear that while Hillary was a Senator and then Secretary of State, the Clintons were making book off their “charitable” foundation.

    The kind of corruption we see with the Clintons, the Bidens, the Obamas is endemic among our ruling classes in both parties. There is a patina of legality surrounding what is otherwise a corrupt enterprise or exercise of influence. The Clintons are noteworthy because they did this kind of corruption on a bigger scale. Trump corruption dispenses with the kabuki of legality. It is old-fashioned Tammany Hall shakedowns. It is the same kind of corruption that Mitch McConnell practises when he has his wife the Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao funnel money for projects to his political cronies in Kentucky.

  12. highrpm

    biden remains in the race until the old guard choose otherwise.

  13. George

    Noam Chomsky
    And notice that the wrecking ball in the White House just doesn’t give a damn. He’s having fun. He’s serving his rich constituency. So what the hell, let’s destroy the world. And it’s not that they don’t know it. Some months ago, maybe a year ago by now, one of the Trump bureaucracies the National Transportation Administration came out with what I think is the most astonishing document in the entire history of the human species. It got almost no attention. It was a long 500-page environmental assessment in which they tried to determine what the environment would be like at the end of the century. And they concluded, by the end of the century, temperatures will have risen seven degrees Fahrenheit, that’s about twice the level that scientists regard as feasible for organized human life. The World Bank describes it as cataclysmic. So what’s their conclusion? Conclusion is we should have no more constraints on automotive emissions. The reasoning is very solid. We’re going off the cliff anyway. So why not have fun? Has anything like that ever appeared in human history? There’s nothing like it.

  14. Eric Anderson

    I’m interested to hear everyone’s thoughts on the polling. It may just be me stuck in my bias bubble, but Bernie seems by far to have the most support out there if you look at the rallies, online activism, and ground game. Conversely, he never cracks the top in the “polls,” and there seems to be plenty of evidence, as well, that the polls consistently skew toward “registered democrats.” However, independents are the biggest voting bloc. And independents seem to skew toward Bernie. I know the primary is really only concerned with the registered voters.

    My take: Bernie is going to hammer it when the voting actually begins, but the MSM is doing everything in its power to turn voters away. Granted, this is the general Bernie base narrative.

    Y’all think it’s true?

  15. scruff

    @Eric: I get the feeling that your take is correct, but I don’t think it matters if it’s false. I assess Bernie to be the closest thing there is to a potentially good outcome in this race; he’s not good enough to save the world from the problems it’s facing, but the trend he’s heading is at least pointed in a better direction. And perhaps the best thing about it is that even if he gets plane-crashed by the Deep State, he can provide a martyrdom storyline for those who will survive him who still want to move things the right direction. I think we should work to make his win happen, and not be too emotionally dependent upon that actually happening. If you tie your motivation to his survival and success, that just makes you vulnerable to being made irrelevant.

  16. Herman

    @Eric Anderson,

    I think you have it right, that the issue is that primary voters are more partisan. I always thought that Sanders would have a tougher time in the Democratic primary than in the general election where more independents will be coming out to vote. Bernie’s best chance for winning the primary is tapping into unhappiness with the Democratic establishment the same way that Trump did with the GOP.

    But this brings up the question of whether or not Democrats are as unhappy with their establishment as Republicans were in 2016 and I don’t know the answer to that question. We will have to see. In the case of the Republicans, I think the Trump revolt was the product of a disconnect between upscale country club Republicans (the GOP establishment) and the GOP electoral base which is looking more and more working class.

    In the case of the Democrats, my guess is that the Sanders rebellion will come from younger, less affluent and (contrary to the Bernie Bro meme) more diverse sections of the Democratic base. The key will be turnout since those demographics often have lower turnout than older, wealthier and whiter demographics.

  17. Tom

    I don’t know what is sadder. The fact Sean Spicer can’t dance or the fact he turned Dancing with the Stars into carefully crafted political warfare for Trump to practice rolling out his base and mobilizing it to vote in what is essentially a massive trolling operation.

    Then again, you got to hand it to Trump, he wears his moral bankruptcy on his sleeve and openly admits he has the US Military blatantly stealing Syria’s oil…

    Well… Yeah…

  18. Hugh

    States with closed primaries may diminish Sanders’ clout because they exclude independents.

  19. bruce wilder

    A lot of people have trouble conceiving of who the core Republican voter is: he (and the Republican vote does skew a bit male) is someone who had some college but may not have completed a degree and has done well economically — a manager or owner in a small or medium-size enterprise, so in the upper half of the income distribution. But, if he and his family is doing OK, his community or region may not be, and that distresses him, and may add to his sense of vulnerability, that the country in which he is member is not taking care of its own. (and his own business is not prospering because the economy in general is not doing well). His viewpoint on economics is not sophisticated and he suspects complicated arguments; he thinks libruls are stupid for denying reality on issues like immigration. He has worked hard and feels he has earned what he has, and resents what he is sure others are getting by defrauding welfare programs. It might seem a contradiction, but he is basically an egalitarian who thinks everyone who is a member in good standing of the community should be able to get help. But, he does not believe in handouts. He does not understand how people cannot understand how raising the minimum wage is going to mean some people will not work at all because they are not worth it, cannot contribute enough. Debt is scary and requires discipline to pay off and taxes are a burden.

    For the “typical” Republican voter, “climate change” is alarmism from the usual suspects with an agenda of taking away what he has earned and enjoys: his big house possibly in the ex-urbs, his SUV, and even his evangelical Christian community.

    That voter is vulnerable to demagogues from the right, who promise order and discipline and taking care of the club and its members.

    The politics of the Democratic establishment is all about taking a slice of the Republican demographic — typified by an older woman living in suburb economically secure and who did finish college — without touching that broader core Republican voter who feels embattled. And, without disturbing non-voters who might lean to either Party.

  20. Eric Anderson

    scruff: aww come on! He’s already fighting headwinds — don’t jinx him!

    “the Trump revolt was the product of a disconnect between upscale country club Republicans (the GOP establishment) and the GOP electoral base which is looking more and more working class.” That, is a damn good question that I’ve yet to hear be explicitly raised. I think I’ll ask the twitterverse.

    Hugh: Or, they’ll just plain sabotage him with superdelegates even if he wins the popular vote like they did last go round. I don’t know if you’ve seen this video, but it’s important:

    And it makes me want to kick a centrist in the crotch.

  21. Eric Anderson

    I think you nail a lot of that. And I think you should also read this:

    It tracks with a lot of what you’re saying.

  22. bruce wilder

    @ Eric Anderson

    I don\’t nail all of it, by any means, because I really do not share their worldview or life experience and I tend to \”translate\” what they think into my own meta framework — the meta analysis aspect means I am necessarily somewhat condescending, viewing it from outside and \”above\”.

    I was reacting to Herman characterizing the Republican electoral base as increasingly \”working class\”, which I think is a misunderstanding. Class is involved, but the core of the Republican electoral base has been \”male, above-average income, some college, ex-urban or far-suburb\” for some time. That \”some college\” is key — these are not the genteel rentiers who belong to private country clubs, nor have they benefitted much from \”liberal education\”; there\’s a lot of class resentment up and down that comes with \”some college\” and a degree of ambition and economic success. These were the people that George W Bush, with his dry drunk \”lets go cut brush on the ranch\” political persona, counted among the 24% who never stopped supporting him despite his string of failures.

    A lot of politics — particularly the partisan identity and division aspect — is not about economic interest as much as it is about ambivalence, existential point-of-view, self-esteem, belonging, security, shame and, yes, resentment.

    Ambivalence is something we all feel inside us, but politics let\’s us project it out onto others, partly resolving the conflict and indecision we would otherwise feel. And, in a functional politics, \”in committee\” as it were, we stitch it all back together again as a society into policy made up of hopefully reasonable compromises, durable commitments and common ideals.

    I think leaders and followers are always different: Trump is not his base. And, there\’s no consumer sovereignty in politics unless the consumers in question are politically organized enough to be minimally \”conscious\” and to act in concert; even the billionaires get taken by professional political operatives.

    I have done my share of railing against neoliberalism, argued with commenters who insist that \”neoliberalism\” is a meaningless term, and, yet, I am uncomfortable with the rhetoric of the piece from NC that you linked to, precisely because it accepts the frame of philosophic \”political identity\”. I am not saying that the piece is without insight.

    What I wish is that the essay had been less \”horizontal\”. Neoliberalism is an elite dialectic, generating a rhetoric of seriousness among the political classes which they then use to lecture and \’splain to the rest of us, the political followers. Neoliberalism is not a singular doctrine, nor is it something an ordinary person would \”believe in\”. Right or left, anything that opposes neoliberalism is necessarily rebellious or insurrectionist, because the neoliberals will cast any opposition as rebellion \”against reality\”. Frustration from below with \”there is no alternative\” breeds anger and a desire to just break the system and a suspicion that the political elite will not serve any one but themselves. Neoliberalism has become \”us v them\”, but very importantly, \”us\” down here against \”them\” up there. Because neoliberalism has become the shared ideology (with its own built-in right and left — that\’s the dialectic!) of a dominant and oppressive and exploiting class.

    They are out to get us, with their b.s. And the b.s. becomes another enemy target.

    I am suspicious of the tendency to hope that a transformation of consciousness will take over and free us all of our ideological illusions and selfishness, doing away with (the need for) social and political hierarchy and making every one just agree to be nice and woke and all that. Then, we will be ready for Monty Python socialism (\”now for something completely different\”).

    We are never going to root out ambivalence from human consciousness. Politics is a chance to project it out onto society and to resolve it as just but practical and universal (but carefully qualified) rules. But, that means grappling with very real problems. The necessity of political hierarchy in the organization of the political economy is deeply problematic. We don\’t solve it by idealistically wishing it would go away. We solve political problems by creative and persistent political argument and struggle, by agreeing to disagree on a lot of stuff when we realize it does not matter, and agreeing on stuff that does matter but for a variety of different and sometimes opposing reasons.

    Just as one example, Medicare-4-All is sometimes pushed by people with the rhetorical battle-cry that \”health care should be a human right\”. Some people, in human ambivalence, are going to push back on that sentiment. Some people are going to ask, \”how are we going to pay for it?\” or \”who will decide what care I can have and how?\” — not insensible questions I think. Some people are going to wonder, if health care is \”a right\” how people who may be motivated to hypochondria are going to be handled by the administration of a health care system.

    The left neoliberals will substitute \”access to health care\” for actual health care and try to set up an opposition to right-wing neoliberals who want \”market solutions\” and \”skin in the game\” (like your skin isn\’t already in the game!). Health care and health insurance are ways that a lot of people in the upper classes make money exploiting the working classes, and neoliberalism is a dialectic of justification and obfuscation.

    So, in my view, neoliberalism is part of the problem, in that it contributes to interferring with the ability of the body politic to debate sensible arrangements that resolve genuine and problematic ambivalence. It fills the space where there should be rational planning with rube goldberg wonky policy contraptions. And, because the neoliberals act like you could persuade them (you can\’t — they are all liars), you tend to start whittling a way at the subtleties of your own arguments. I see Lambert Strether of NC doing that and I think it unfortunate; he likes MMT because he thinks of it as a ticket to bypass \”how are you going to pay for it?\” Absolutely \”free\” at the point of service requires some solution to the problem of Jevonian demand for service, and hopefully one that does not ask too much of triage. I am not saying a political advocate has to have detailed solutions; I am saying a political advocate ought to be ready to acknowledge problems as opportunities for productive compromise with people who come with a differing perspective. Someone might favor M4All because it is likely to be cheaper and more efficient and not care all that much about the idealistic rhetoric of \”human rights\”.

  23. different clue

    @Ten Bears,

    How many of today’s illiterate are stupid as against how many were immunized against reading by being taught to hate reading in school? As part of America’s War On Education, including the War On Reading?

    Rudolf Flesch wrote a book about the War On Reading many decades ago, called Why Johnny Can’t Read.

    So if we give everyone your suggested literacy test, we won’t be testing for stupidity. We will be testing for people who were successfully immunized against reading by America’s War On Reading.

    If we really want to find the stupid people in order to stop them from voting, we need a better test. I would suggest showing them two photographs: a juvenile female Philadelphia vireo and a juvenile female Tennessee warbler. Smart people will know the difference and stupid people won’t. Because if you can’t tell a Philadelphia vireo from a Tennessee warbler, you are clearly stupid and have no business voting.

  24. S Brennan

    “their [“liberals”] contempt for Trump seems more about their own virtue compared to the “racists” they imagine form the core of Trump’s support than about, say…anything of real policy consequence.” – Bruce Wilder

    And as Bruce stated; “liberals” support for Obama, his; illegal wars, bailouts for the rich, entrenchment of a Stasi al was more about “liberals” own “public virtue” than any deeply held values.

    The villain in this piece is today’s “liberals”; they are a sad, pathetic shadow of those liberals who brought down the “guilded age” and ended Jim Crow. Today’s “liberals”, have reestablished another “guilded age” and seek to establish a class based Jim Crow. Yesterdays, mostly dead, liberals would spit on today’s “liberals”.

  25. Hugh

    S Brennan, I see today’s neoliberals as the come back of Wilsonian liberalism. Much of the push for limits on weekly hours and child labor came out of broad social movements of which Wilsonian liberals were only a part. But as Plessy v. Ferguson showed, they had no problem with segregation. And of course Wilson is infamous for his Red Scare raids which were essentially a liberal war on labor and the working class social movements which underpinned it. So while liberals of that era might condescend to curb certain excesses of their class, they were unalterably opposed to seeing their power decrease and that of the lower classes increase.

    Much of what people call liberalism today refers not back to Wilson but the New Deal. However, the New Deal was really about liberalism in retreat and embracing socialist programs as needed to survive. These programs brought the country out of depression by 1936 and it was FDR’s ditching many of them that plunged the country back into depression until the military Keynesianism of the WWII took it out again. As for the Civil Rights movement, most of that was home grown out of the African-American community and backed by white social activists coming out of New Deal and socialist backgrounds. Even LBJ who got the 1967 Civil Rights Act through Congress for all his faults came from a New Deal, not a liberal background.

    I think New Dealers past and present would and should spit on today’s neoliberals. The old style Wilsonian liberals, on the other hand, would feel right at home.

  26. realitychecker

    Many good comments above that contain significant portions of the truth IMO (especially, as usual, by the especially perceptive bruce wilder), but I must say I have been amazed at the comparative lack of recognition over a long period of time of the factor of political correctness itself as an explanation for solid Trump support among the ‘regular’ people.

    For your consideration: Every one of our powerful social manipulators, i.e., marketers of all stripes, all the PR people (“PR is what you turn to when the truth won’t do”), lawyers, politicians, writers, etc., gain and maintain their power and fortunes by relying on the linguistic powers that attach to the skillful deployment of just the right word. (I’ve also noticed that many of the less-exalted also seem to have a very good command of the use of linguistic power techniques when it suits their position to employ them, but stubbornly remain unpersuaded if the same tactics are sought to be deployed against their position. ‘Tis a puzzlement lol.)

    Words are the vehicles that must bear the burden of carrying our complex rational thoughts. The power to choose or prohibit which words will be used in a conversation brings with it a lot of power to frame, and therefore also to limit, the pathways of thought that will be contained or explored within that conversation.

    Political correctness has always been primarily about trying to dictate which words are and are not acceptable for regular people to use. Think about it for a moment.

    It seems obvious to me that, for people who don’t have the luxury of ‘dancing through life’ but rather have existences that require near-constant attention to the necessary tasks they can never- quite-keep-up-with, that one of the few, and therefore one of the most precious, expressions of personal power available to them is the freedom to say ‘whatever the hell they please!’ (Indeed, even for those surviving remnants of the old liberals cited by S. Brennan above, we who consolidated our own political power by pushing the virtues of free speech, and by extension, all forms of freedom of expression, and also we who believed that good people must even “fight to the death for your right to say” even offensive things, the value of that freedom was as universally recognized as it is being universally devalued by the wannabe good lefties of this decade. Censorship seems to be an evil resented by all those against whom is is deployed, but never resented by those who employ it; go figure.)

    Every good idea needs some pruning back when it has been taken too far, and political correctness has had a good long run with not much resistance, especially as aided by the mass communications and technological enhancements of this young century. Too far? I submit that that would be an easy argument to make.

    But the even easier argument is that the relentless PC revolution has seriously infringed on the freedom of the ‘lesser folks’ to say whatever the hell they please, and therefore also makes them feel the oppression of being told how they have to think. And they don’t like having their only real freedom taken away from them.

    To me, this is very obvious stuff. What I cannot figure out, quite honestly, is how this consideration always seems to get completely left out of all these detailed discussions I witness of “why the hell do they support Trump?”

    And I wonder, how do the modern PC warriors define “freedom”? Or is that very concept already consigned to the memory hole?

  27. StewartM


    The essential impact of Biden entering the race was that neither Harris nor Booker could make much of a dent into Biden’s African-American support (a consequence, of his being Obama’s VP; apparently that counts for more with older AAs than his support for the crime bill or his being pals with Strom Thurmond; Republicans aren’t the only party with tribalism and low-information voters). With Beto out, Harris’s campaign tottering, and neither Booker nor Castro gaining much traction, the only other non-Biden centrist Dem alternative is Mayor Pete—who does the least well with African-American voters, particularly older ones, polls show.

    So if Biden’s campaign crashes and burns, because he’s a terrible campaigner and “misspeaks” as much as Trump or Reagan–all possible, as I think you would agree–then there will be no heir ‘centrist’ Dem heir apparent who appeals to these voters left standing save Mayor Pete who is not likely to pick up these voters. They might have to choose between Sanders and Warren, neither of whom are agreeable to those who want to maintain the Clintonista/Obamacrat ‘legacy’.

    All this I maintain was predictable. Biden was never any stalking horse for anyone; he was in it for himself for the same reasons HRC was in the running–it was ‘her time’, she ‘deserved’ it because of her resume and length of service (and foolish arrogance). The best chance for the ‘centrist’ Dems to maintain control was to keep Biden out (and a good many of the other centrist wannabes) so that someone like Harris might catch fire.


    As for your musings about the Republican electorate, might one suggest your picture is not too far removed from the typical supporter of fascism in the 1920s and 30s? Read–someone who is not at the bottom runs of the economy or society, but fears for maintaining their ‘respectable’ status and falling into the ranks of the destitute–despite grumbling against the upper crust, ultimately believes in the goodness and rightness of their social order?

    Another example of this would be poor yeoman Southern whites in the antebellum South, who own no slaves and resented and grumbled about the planter class, but who *wanted* to own slaves and be planters themselves, and moreover (being closer to the origins of slavery than we) knew that the very reason that they had some modicum of freedom and status was that slaves had displaced them from the very bottom rung of Southern society, and if there were no black slaves out picking cotton in the fields it was going to be *them*.

  28. bruce wilder

    @ StewartM

    “The essential impact of Biden entering the race was that neither Harris nor Booker could make much of a dent into Biden’s African-American support . . .”

    Well, they did not make much of a dent in the event as we now know, but I don’t think it was at all obvious when Biden was induced to run that they would not be able to do so. If anything, I think the expectation among political operatives was that either Harris or Booker invest spend time and money from Hamptons and corporate business donors into building an electoral following in the African-American community and deprive Sanders and Warren of whatever purchase they might have on the essential Democratic Party constituency. Biden was buying Harris and Booker time to build their respective “brands” and name recognition, time during which Sanders and Warren were held down or back or whatever metaphor.

    Maybe there’s a logical inconsistency in thinking that Biden preventing Warren or Sanders from building the dreaded “momentum” somehow does not prevent Harris or Booker in the same way, but I think the reasoning was that their personal charisma combined with carefully cultivated social identification with African-Americans as a minority group would enable the trick. And, besides Harris and Booker would also be blocking Sanders and Warren from hooking up not with the block of low-information voters, per se, who won’t decide until three weeks out, so much as the influencer activists who are looking for early endorsement opportunities to co-promote themselves with presumably attractive and charismatic national figures. What does a Sanders or Warren have to compete with that? Policy? pshaw! the Instagram selfie with the beautiful people is what America wants, amirite?

    re: the roots of fascism

    I do see the resemblance. There is a very real risk of inducing political pathology when political followers are frightened and then herded together and segregated in one political grouping by demagogues, isolated from other political viewpoints and psychologies, by the negligence of leftists or liberal centrists.

    The left and the center has to compete with demagogues to organize the working classes. Disdain and abandonment is not likely to have good outcomes. Just sayin’

    @ Hugh

    Wilson is a complicated personality, combining high idealism with a deep authoritarian streak. He did come out of the faction once known as Bourbon Democrats who had fielded a “National Democratic” gold-standard candidate against Bryan in 1896, but Wilson was a genuine champion of the authority of the government to regulate the economy in pursuit of the general welfare at a time when such authority and purpose was actively disputed.

    The Progressive Movement was very much an elite and upper-class undertaking, but one with a lot of institution building. The Democratic Party had a deep populist streak. Wilson had the opportunity to institute the estate tax and an income tax — I think the top income rate reached over 70% under Wilson. He was ruthless in suppressing anti-war political groupings — most notably the IWW “wobblies” — but industrial wages rose very rapidly during the period of his planned war economy. And, earlier in his Administration, before he convinced himself of the necessity of war, his Secretary of State was the pacific William Jennings Bryan.

    Wilson was a Southerner by birth and upbringing, with even stronger ties to the South than his great rival, Theodore Roosevelt. Both men contributed to the political status of African-Americans falling to a nadir. As always in politics, there were mixed messages and cross-currents and Wilson, perhaps oddly and in desperation, attracted some African-American support.

    FDR served in Wilson’s Administration and greatly admired Wilson. To a very great extent the New Deal and the Internationalism of FDR’s administration was built on correcting the perceived mistakes of Wilson’s.

  29. Peter

    RC, brilliant take-down of the PC culture that prevailed until Trump freed the regular folk and anyone else who can still think. Hopefully we have seen the end of our Maoist cultural revolution and its linguistic warping of the truth.

  30. realitychecker

    Thanks for the approval, Peter, but I don’t think the word “brilliant” applies, since my intent was not to ‘takedown’ something so obvious, but rather to pose an honest inquiry as to why the side I want to be sympathetic toward cannot seem to see or care about how the PC fervor might have been in dire need of some sensible re-calibration that was not going to be provided by any of the usual duopoly suspects.

    Denial, repression, and projection have never been my favorite defense mechanisms.

  31. Peter

    RC, you are talking to a wall if you think your cultural Marxist comrades are interested in honesty, this is about power and control.
    You might listen to some Jordan Peterson lectures on this topic to better understand the sinister nature of the ideological/demonic possessed side you want to be sympathetic towards.
    I recall your interest in discussing armed resistance and that topic did come up on the largest site on youtube Louder with Crowder. This is a conservative site that doesn’t advocate violence but does advocate the, we will not comply, stand, armed if necessary, against the gun confiscation mob if they take power.

  32. realitychecker

    @ Peter

    Yeah, I advocated for considering violent resistance, i.e., by urging folks to read the Declaration of Independence or discuss, on an academic level, when and whether revolution might be justified, back when it still had a chance to work (starting in the 70’s, actually lol). But fifteen years ago, it terrified lefties at FDL to see even a discreet hint of such thinking; too interested in achieving some mainstream respectability lol; now that it is waaaaay too late, everybody is talking tough. And so it goes.

    I’m not ashamed to have had life-long sympathy and support for social justice concerns, but I am not an ideologue in any direction. I just support what seems to make sense, and refuse to go along with things that are clearly against logic, or are way out of balance. Like PC culture was pre-Trump.

  33. Peter

    RC, did you watch any of Peterson’s or Crowde’s vids? The social justice the Left uses is more related to Mao’s cultural revolution just as is PC and we know what kind of justice that produced. I believe what you are supporting is the classical Liberal idea of respect for the individual that is the base concept of western civilization. Marxists detest that idea and categorize people by what group or groups they belong to for use in identity politics, The ‘belong to’ idea is why we see so much group think where the individual is suppressed and secondary to the group or more accurately to those who control the group.
    The Left’s use of violence today has nothing to do with the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution it seeks to bring the tyranny of the group/mob to the individual. We see this clearly in the tactics of Antifa.

  34. Mike Barry

    As well as those of the alt right.

  35. Peter

    Mike, the last alt-right convention attracted about 200 people and no sane conservative or libertarian will have anything to do with these people exactly because they use identity politics just as the mass of the Left does.

  36. realitychecker

    @ Peter

    Th modern PC/social justice warriors are nothing like the classic liberals you reference; SJWs took some admirable intentions and pushed them well into the realm of the absurd, thus requiring some pushback from the likes of me. I have always thought of myself as a humanistic libertarian, a la John Stuart Mill plus the right to end one’s own life. Maximize individual freedom and critical thinking, and I am on your side.

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