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

Trump and the Art of the Strongman

Trump has now taken a number of firms to task, over Twitter, about moving jobs to Mexico. While there’s some disagreement, it seems that some critics have backed down.

“I know from talking to business people that no major firm wants to be a subject of a Trump tweet,” says Gary Hufbauer, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. He says companies realize Trump controls the Justice Department, the Defense Department, the IRS, the Treasury and regulatory agencies, and “the amount of control that intersects with what companies are doing is enormous.”

This is, first, an implicit rebuke to all the Presidents who did nothing, and to all the fools who said they could only do nothing.

But, it is also about the art of getting powerful people to bend to your will.

The classic method is to pick out someone, someone powerful, and break them. Humiliate them, destroy them, and do it publicly. Make them grovel.

You make an example of someone. In almost every case, and certainly in Trump’s case, were the powerful to band together, they could easily take you down. You must make sure they don’t do that.

So you make an example of someone, and then you treat others kindly.

“You can have tax cuts and beautiful labor law cuts and a privatizing stimulus, but in exchange I need you to keep jobs in America and bring some back.”

That’s the deal.

The problem is that many CEOs and billionaires will want to take all the goodies, and still move jobs overseas. Normally, in fact, that’s what has happened: Tax cuts were given, and the savings were used to accelerate offshoring and outsourcing and to do massive stock buy-backs to enrich executives.

So Trump is putting companies on notice that this won’t be tolerated, and I believe to really drive the lesson home, he will need to break someone.

Be very clear, this is easy to do. The President is fantastically powerful. Unleash the FBI, NSA, DOJ, and IRS on any major firm, and you will find offenses. Moreover, in almost every case, they will include criminal offenses–if you allow them to be.

Then, you charge executives with crimes rather than immunizing them with fines, and you tie them up in court for years. If they lose, you throw them into a maximum security prisons, and you let bad things happen to them.

Even before this sequence is through, people will get the message.

Presidents have chosen NOT to do this, even in cases of rampant corruption and criminality (Obama being the worst offender by far, with his wholesale immunization of fraud and racketeering in the financial industry).

But you don’t have to play the game that way, and I’m guessing Trump won’t. And that’s why executives are bowing, because they’re scared he will break someone to demonstrate his power, and they don’t want to be the executives he hauls out of the crowd, to whom he has his goons deliver a beat-down.

This is nasty pool, but I wouldn’t weep for whoever becomes the example. They’ll almost certainly have it coming. The injustice won’t be in what happens to them, but in the fact that all the others will be let-off so long as they kow-tow.

We’ll talk more about this principle, with regards to the Federal Reserve and the intelligence community, for now, watch for it.

(Trump gets his second term if he delivers enough for his base. This is existential for his administration.)

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Cyclical vs. End-Time Thinking


Rule of Men, Not Law


  1. Tom

    Like I said before, Trump knows who gave him the White House and it wasn’t the rich, it was the Blue Collars who told him straight out they want their jobs back and the Oligarchs fucked up till they do so.

    Trump is delivering by bitchslapping everyone in Corporate America. Forcing Ford to toe the line means 4,900 Jobs will be ultimately created. 700 workers in the Ford Plant and 7 additional workers who sell services to those Ford Employees and gets a circular thermodynamic flow of energy going that will bring people back to the cities.

    Bannon and Kushner are egging him on as well. So all good. If the Banks start getting fucked as well by Trump, all the better.

    And Trump has yet to take office.

  2. And the media continues to honk that all of this is meaningless because “it was only 800 jobs” or that he “bribed the employer to keep the jobs here,” etc. As Tom points out, he is making changes in the behavior of major corporations before he even takes office, but the media and the opposition he beat (same thing actually) are desperate to convince us that it means nothing.

  3. Fox Blew

    I think you hit the nail on the head, Ian…whether you like Trump or not, he is practicing the use of the Bully Pulpit. And this highlights the inaction of previous (and current) Presidents. It harkens back to JFK – and RFK – taking on U.S. Steel. Would it be safe to say that we haven’t had a President since Kennedy who has taken on corporations like Trump appears to be doing?

  4. gnokgnoh

    I think you are attributing much more hope and change to Trump’s view of reality than he deserves. The art of the deal is the art of perception. He is a showman. Our perception of his arm-twisting of decisions that were already baked into Ford’s plans hides the back room deals he is making with taxpayer money. The deal was exposed in the Carrier example. His deals are always about money and about someone else paying for the costs. Prosecution is messy and requires some transparency. He does not mind messy, he despises transparency.

    We will get more jobs. We will pay for them. The oligarchy will hugely benefit. Perhaps that is the role of a strongman. Hope and change indeed.

  5. Peter

    Trump is displaying the art of the deal which includes PR, carrots and the threat of the stick. It would be unwise and unproductive to destroy anyone in this process. You don’t create or retain jobs by disrupting or destroying companies and even Trump’s %35 levy only penalizes profits from offshored production.

    There are people who would revel at the sight of Trump behaving like a strongman/ authoritarian because it would validate their warped views but he has no need to behave badly with industry leaders such as Ford and UT joining his movement.

    I think this may be a true The Mountain Coming to Muhammad moment.

    Trump may have to be more assertive and use his power more with the republicans in congress because they need to be directed and kept focused but his single tweet brought them to heel on the ethics committee question. Even that directive was couched in friendly, cooperative and common sense language.

    Watching the Clintonites try to develop and sell false narratives about what Trump has and will do is becoming painful because it is so cheap and bile filled. I suppose some underemployed historian in the future could gather this trash up and make a book or two from it but I doubt anyone would want to read them.

  6. gnokgnoh


    It’s simply healthy skepticism. We should all be that way, all the time, with all of our political leaders.

  7. Arthur

    It makes one realize what Obama could have accomplished had he really wanted to.

  8. Ché Pasa

    It’s basic gangsterism. You understand that. So do those you see as “bending to his will.”

    There is a lot of show business in it, of course, and there is some reality, but not a lot. After all, Trump is one of a club of gangsters now set to run things without the mediation of professional buffers.

    The club will set and enforce its own rules, and those rules are not set up to protect and provide for the Rabble.

    Those who don’t know how it works will find out soon enough.

    The question is, will they continue to celebrate? Ask those who have already been through the wringer.

  9. gnokgnoh

    How about the tax cuts that will create jobs? See this article, Corporations Prepare to Gorge on Tax Cuts. This was tried before in 2005 by GW and did not work.

  10. Peter


    There was nothing healthy coming out of Clintonites about Trump before or after the election it’s all bile. lies and projection.

    The burnt offering you refer to at the Intercept is another easily dissected deceptive fable. The tax deal for overseas holdings will produce $200,000,000,000 in new taxes for the government and the new tax rate for all business is part of Trump’s jobs promotion plan. This is the carrot needed to entice corporations to not only keep jobs here, such as Ford and UT just agreed to do a huge change in corporate reality, but to begin the costly process of returning jobs to the homeland. Now that two titans of industry have bought into Trump’s plan there may not be a need for the stick there is an example for other corporations to follow.

    I’ll support real critical analysis of anything Trump plans to do, there has been some on his import/export tax proposals, but most of what we see is petty loser whining and fact less diversion.

    After eight years of incompetent and corrupt mismanagement in DC it may be too much for many people to digest when real leadership begins even before taking office. It’s especially infuriating to the Clintonites and Barry supporters because Trump is making it look so easy.

  11. BlizzardOfOz

    Ian, you wrote a few times that economic solutions were available that were win-win respecting the 1st and 3rd worlds. Is that still true, or has that ship sailed as of now?

  12. Ian Welsh


    oh sure, we could still do win/win policies. From a certain perspective, not hard at all.


  13. Tom W Harris

    Back in mid-2015 Macy’s stopped selling Trump merchandise in response to his anti-Mexican hate speech. Trump fired back with a call for a Macy’s boycott, and their sales and their stock took a yuge hit. This week they laid off 10,000 workers. That’s a lot more jobs than he “saved.”

    His supporters are celebrating the news. It seems some jobs don’t count.

  14. darms

    I guess it all depends on which reality trump voters choose to believe, either ‘Trmp-o-vision’ or their own lyin’ eyes. I’m going w/Krugman on this one –

  15. bruce wilder

    First Fake News and now Fake Policy.

    Could Paul Krugman be a greater ass?

  16. Ian Welsh

    Yes Tom. When you choose rule of men, not law, that’s what happens.

  17. Peter

    @Tom WH

    Another desperate Clintonite pointing a crooked finger at Trump Tower while screaming nonsense. Macys and the whole brick and mortar retail sector is in decline and it has nothing to do with Trump or some imagined boycott.

  18. BlizzardOfOz

    The fact of the Western nations’ trade deficits seems very pregnant to me, and no one ever seems to mention it. (Republicans will mention “the debt” or “the deficit” but always with reference to the domestic issues of government spending and taxes.)

    Didn’t England fight the Opium Wars so that they could import tea from China without becoming indebted to them? Nowhere until the 20th century was it asserted (a general theme) that trade imbalances somehow don’t matter. Yet now, what? The claim is that being a trillion-dollar net importer is fine, because it will be balanced out by China buying up your critical infrastructure? This insanity seems to rest on the assumption that nations don’t have critical interests, because they don’t really exist except as administrative zones.

    The abolition of politics by economics is shown most starkly in the 2008 Wall Street bailouts, universally and stridently opposed by the population, yet passed easily by the politicians under advisement from the finance oracles. Maybe this was the upshot of another “economic necessity”, Nixon pulling the plug on the international system in ’71, which was never replaced with a new system (why?). At some point, politics is going to re-assert itself — maybe Trump will be the vehicle.

    Of course, politics means war by other means, or maybe just plain war. Then we get to see how united or divided the USA is in fact (or who even has the will to fight). Can a divided nation of 400 million people withstand a cold conflict with Russia, a true nation united 90% behind its head of state (or even China, another true state)? This is surely part of the CIA’s freak-out regarding the Russians. Trump’s support base is a nation-within-the-nation and will surely rally around its standard bearer, when he faces adversity pushing through his agenda. What about the rest?

  19. dude

    Right now, we are seeing a few corporations getting lectured by Trump and then kissing The Godfather’s ring. He has done nothing more than embarrass them and they have done nothing more than provide a sufficient token response. Trump has not made an example of anyone yet. They are still dancing around, testing each other. What has been conceded to Trump thusfar is well within their means and contingencies. I agree that the contrast with Obama’s and Hillary’s style of “dealing” with corporate America is striking, but it is also hypocritical. If Trump thinks jobs should be brought to America, then he should be building more Trump Hotels and Golf Courses and Restaurants in American cities, not Indonesia or Shanghai. You want to bring jobs home–no matter how insubstantial or transient– if you, Trump, want corporations to do the “right” think by American workers, bring your brick-n-mortar to every city in every state.

  20. Bill Hicks

    I hope Jeff Bezos is the one who gets taken to the woodshed. Bad enough to have inflicted Amazon on the world, but now he’s turned the Washington ComPost into the corporate liberals’ McCarthyite journal.

  21. Webstir

    Hi Ian. You end your post by stating:

    “Trump gets his second term if he delivers enough for his base. This is existential for his administration.”

    Do you think he can deliver using tactics like this in the face factors that cannot be politically determined? As you, Archdruid, Kunstler, and other point out, in the era of “tight oil” we will never see the kind of growth necessary to create a significant upsurge in manufacturing jobs. China can get away with it because of their continued use of coal — but as you’ve said, we’re never going back there.

    But this isn’t the only factor constraining job growth in the areas that matter to Trump’s base. Finacialization will continue to take it’s cut. The fed will continue to take it’s cut. That over 60% of the population in this county really, actually, support the clean air and water act will take it’s cut. My point is, I just don’t see strong-arming being nearly enough. We’ll look back in four years and see Trump’s record as nothing more than another neoliberal plutocrat who was on the take.

    Like you said in your “Who to Trust” post — What are his motivations? Answer: More money for Trump, and to a lesser extent, schaudenfreud. Trump loves shaudenfreud. Until the proletariat realize they been duped into believing in a one man revolution will save them, and then, correspondingly begin to organize around the Corbin and Bernie types — we’re screwed.

  22. Webstir


    If you think there is any love for Trump here, simply because there is no love for the neoliberal wing of the Dems — you sir, are sadly mistaken, and will be taken to the intellectual woodshed.

  23. Tom W Harris

    I’m not a Clintonite, Petey baby, so stuff yer lies back where they came from.

  24. Hugh

    I agree with gnokgnoh. The Trump supporters on this thread are reality-challenged. Anything good happens, their man is responsible for it. Anything bad happens, it either didn’t happen or isn’t his fault. Trump probably does want to return manufacturing jobs to the US, but all his positions and all his personnel choices indicate he wants those jobs to pay crap wages and no benefits. This is not the art of the deal. It is the art of the con. Personally, I think Bill Clinton was much better at it. 23 million jobs were created during his 8 years even as wealth inequality increased faster under him than when Ronald Reagan was President.

    I keep saying that character is destiny. It doesn’t seem to sink in. Trump is 70 years old. He has had no “Road to Damascus” moment. He has been a pirate all his life. He’s still a pirate. For every dollar that comes to some American schmo, a thousand or a million will go to the rich and the corps. I think he can run his act for two to three years before all but his most deadend supporters are sick to death of him. But for now, we will just have to endure the cognitive dissonance until reality hits them over the head enough times with a two-by-four.

  25. David

    Fox Blew,

    I too was thinking of the example of JFK taking on
    US Steel. Here is a short video of JFK’s speech and US Steel’s response:

    Note that JFK sounds at least as strident as Trump.

  26. Peter


    I was momentarily worried by your petulant challenge but then I saw you were a believer in a Hogwarts wizard and a Clintonite sheepdog so that worry turned quickly to laughter.

    I recently bought a 3.5lb single-bit Michigan so I’m ready to process any wormy wood you might pitch from your shed, it might make useable kindling.

  27. Hugh

    BTW the jobs report covering December 2016 came out today. It shows that 668,000 fewer jobs, seasonally unadjusted, were created in the private sector in 2016 compared with 2015. 857,000 fewer than 2014. Now as I have often said, I expect next month yearly revisions and such to reduce these deficits, but they are far too large to eliminate entirely. The take home is that private sector job creation in 2016 will significantly underperform 2015 and even more so 2014. And 2014 was only an OK year for job growth.

    Seasonally unadjusted for the lower 80% of workers, wages grew December-December at a measly 1.9% rate, or barely beating inflation.

    Also the growth in full time workers (35 hours or more/week) January to December in 2016 from the Household survey (seasonally unadjusted) was a million off from 2015 and nearly 1.5 million off from 2014.

    Imperfect as these numbers often are, they do depict a reality very different than that hawked in Washington and in the media. They both explain how a Donald Trump could get elected and the extreme unlikelihood of him doing anything substantial about them.

  28. Webstir

    A list of “Peter’s” greatest hits so far …

    * “Trump is displaying the art of the deal … “
    * “I think this may be a true The Mountain Coming to Muhammad moment.”
    * “Trump may have to be more assertive and use his power more.”
    * “Trump is making it look so easy.”
    * “returning jobs to the homeland.”
    * “pointing a crooked finger at Trump Tower”

    As I mentioned in my comment above:
    “Until the proletariat realize they been duped into believing in ‘a one man revolution will save them,’ and then, correspondingly begin to organize around the Corbin and Bernie types — we’re screwed.

    Peter seems like a guy looking for a one man revolution. SAD!

    Seig heil pal, seig heil …

  29. Tom


    Bernie failed to fight back and took it up the ass from Hillary. Trump fought back and bitchslapped his opponents into the ground.

    Bernie is not a leader and never was. Since Bernie failed, we got Trump for good or ill.

  30. Lisa

    “Obama being the worst offender by far, with his wholesale immunization of fraud and racketeering in the financial industry”…yep, which is why he got the job.

    But it will take:
    (1) Changes to tax laws
    (2) Enforcement of existing laws.
    (3) Adding new (or maybe justy nrining back old) laws.
    (5) Jailing a lot of people

    To really change things.

  31. “The President is fantastically powerful. Unleash the FBI, NSA, DOJ, and IRS on any major firm, and you will find offenses”

    Have no problem with someone using these people to go after the really big wealthy crooks rather than some small time individual. One of Obama’s biggest failures was when he failed to do this after being elected.

  32. realitychecker

    Reality bites.

  33. gnokgnoh

    I’m fascinated with the comparison to Kennedy taking on U.S. Steel. Ian identified a number of three-letter agencies, including the FBI and NSA, that Trump will have at his disposal. In addition, he quoted WBUR news that identified the defense department. The very core definition of a strongman is someone willing to use force. We all seem to agree on strongman being an accurate descriptor for our new president. Ché goes further and uses gangster, the equivalent for which is mob boss. Peter did not seem to mind…he didn’t call Ché a Clintonite, in response. That seems to be the sum total of his brain-function.

    Trump’s strategy, at least what he has said, is that job creation will come through 1) tax cuts (high earnings income, corporate, capital gains, and repatriation of off-shore earnings), 2) public infrastructure – apparently through privatization, and 3) tariffs on foreign goods. What are the enforcement tools at Trump’s disposal? Will he try and arm twist through legislation, or are we simply to suffer tweets for the next four years? If so, does he also have Congress at his disposal to force the hand of domestic companies through legislation?

    The first leg of the triad, bubkus, in terms of jobs. That’s the gravy, the frosting on the cake, zero opposition in Congress or from his corporate buddies. Legislation passed very, very quickly. The second leg of the triad above is harder, because it’s messier. But, he won’t need force, if he actually goes ahead…leaving the details up to Congress. It will be devastating in the long run; but, in the short run, will produce lots of terrific jockeying for the sweet, privatizing revenues, private school vouchers and private toll roads, writ large. Fun and lots of job destruction and creation, although the actual outcome will swing the balances quite radically to the haves, not the have-nots, with the have-nots subsidizing private infrastructure and working for private sector entities with zero job security and subsidence income. This is a complicated gambit and will take some time to play out, but little force needed.

    The third leg of the triad is probably the hardest, because the entire manufacturing and supply chain (raw materials) is set up overseas. It will get the most tweets and the least legislative action, in part because there will be ferocious corporate (quiet) opposition. He has over $1 billion in private debt, mostly overseas. His creditors will also be pushing back. I also don’t think he gives a rat’s ass about jobs, other than the menial workers that keep his hotels clean and being loved by them. If he did, triad legs 1 and 2 would not exist. He’s not stupid. He will likely kill TPP, but not TISA or TTIP, but that’s just show. TPP was dying, anyway. Frankly, I don’t think Trump intends to use or needs to use force. He is as good at playing the media and the ratings as anyone. It will continue. His style is very exact.

    The rub is in foreign policy and the military, combined with the intelligence agencies. It’s where Kennedy met his Waterloo.

  34. Webstir

    Did I say Bernie? No, I didn’t did I. Here’s what I said: “organize around the Corbin and Bernie types.” “Types,” Tom. In other words, true progressives rather than neoliberal sell-out DNC types. I’m thinking Van Jones fits the mold.

  35. Peter


    We don’t use one hundred year old Bolsheviki terms to describe Amerikans. The closest we get to using commie terms is Working Class and it appears many of them voted for Trump. I don’t think they were seeking a revolution just someone to actually represent them and Trump has stated he will represent everyone. This is in comparison to Obama, the Red Queen and even Sanders who were practiced at disparaging or abandoning whole segments of the population.

    I think Trump is trying to save capitalism from itself not unlike what FDR ended up doing, putting people back to work in skilled well paying jobs to avoid the social upheaval that neoliberalism and austerity bring. This is the necessary transition to prepare for a future of very low or no growth.

    The snowflake revolutionaries and their armchair vanguards are at best an annoyance and won’t be taking any wealthy people’s money to disperse to the masses. We have to rely on the reality based notion of allowing people to work and earn a decent living is the best outcome we can hope for.

  36. realitychecker

    @ Webstir

    “In other words, true progressives rather than neoliberal sell-out DNC types. I’m thinking Van Jones fits the mold.”

    Van Jones? VAN FUCKING JONES!!!!!!!! He is your idea of a true progressive type?

    Nobody here will ever take you seriously again. Not ever.

    What a dupe.

  37. Webstir


    Show me some facts rather than exclamation points. He was solidly in Bernie’s camp, and understands which way the wind blows. He was a solid supporter of the Occupy movement. He’s solidly pro-labor and environment. I’m dying to hear who you think will be viable in 2020. What don’t you understand about charisma and politics?

    Let’s look back to say Eisenhower:
    In every case the more charismatic candidate won (maybe wit the exception of Dukakis but that was simple Reagan momentum and a mess of campaign).

    It’s called pragmatism.

    And btw, people tend not to take those that post in all caps and exclamation points seriously. Ever. Especially when they append zero facts to their unhinged ranting … ya rube.

  38. Webstir


    1) As to my proletariat comment: It’s said that the ability to recognize irony is a sign of intelligence. You failed.

    2) That you believe anything that comes out of Trump’s mouth tends to support my previous assertion (See #1 above).

    3) That you still believe it after reading Ian’s post on “Groups Only a Fool Trusts” is absolute confirmation.

    4) That you are having a hard time putting together coherent sentences indicates you are drunk.

  39. realitychecker

    @ Webstir

    FYI, my caps lock key got hit accidentally, as often happens, which led to all those caps you are so disturbed about, and I was not willing to re-type the sentence. Sorry to have aroused your schoolmarm side.

    As to substance, Van Jones is where edgy movements go to be co-opted. As with Occupy. As with Black Lives Matter. That is what Van Jones does. That is all he does.

    That you don’t know that says a lot about you. Nothing good, though.

  40. Webstir

    So, you lie to save face. Well done. I think that’s probably the only thing that “often happens” … which says even less about you.

    And by the “edgy movement” quip, you must mean like Bernie before he began to seek political office. And while yes, Bernie paid his dues in different offices for decades before he made his run, in today’s climate it would seem that that is more a liability than a strength.

    Still waiting to hear about your viable progressive. Put up or shut up, amigo.

  41. realitychecker

    @ Webstirrer

    LOL, my FYI was mistakenly referring to a different comment I typed today. I MISTAKENLY assumed you must have meant that one , or else your umbrage at a FEW CAPITALIZED STROKES WOULD HAVE SEEMED RIDICULOUS, (Ha, hit the caps lock key again. Suffer, bitch.) 🙂

    To substance: Van Jones is just another slick, well-dressed, articulate political hustler. He is the creature of Obama and the DLC. Period. If you like him, then so are you.

    I won’t invest energy in discussing any potential Democrat candidate for 2020, because I know from listening to all you out-of-the-woodwork trolls that Trump will destroy the planet before this year ends. And you guys are never wrong. Never ever.

    Re your remarks to Peter, above, you mock him for allegedly wanting a ‘one man revolution,’ how many men do you envision will be involved in the revolution that would get more respect from you?

    It seems to me that you want no revolution at all, but rather more lesser-evilism. If you are still looking to the electoral system to fix everything, then you are welcome to your Van Jones fantasies, but be sure to bring plenty of Vaseline with you to the voting booth.

  42. Webstir


    Now you’re just being a troll. While it seems you have plenty of energy to lie and troll, you have none to edit or respond with substance? Powerhouse intellectual combination you’ve got going for you there, amigo.

    But to the little substance that you do provide: You said, “ … how many men do you envision will be involved in the revolution that would get more respect from you? It seems to me that you want no revolution at all, but rather more lesser-evilism.” To which I’d already responded earlier in the thread when I said “Until the proletariat realize they been duped into believing in ‘a one man revolution will save them,’ and then, correspondingly begin to organize around the Corbin and Bernie types — we’re screwed.” Pretty clear statement. And what about the proletariat “organizing” says I’d like to see the electoral college solve all our problems? I think you know our positions are substantially similar in that regard, but again, you’re trolling.

    And yes, politics is incremental. As I said before, if I’m anything I’m a pragmatist. History teaches that revolutions that occur over night are doomed to be replaced by system that’s even worse. Therefore, my position is that when you get down to brass tacks Van Jones to me appears to be one of the only young, charismatic, “Bernie and Corbin types” around which the proletariat can begin to organize. I say this not because I expect someone like him to pull off a “one man revolution, but because again, history teaches us that mass movements need leaders to galvanize the cause. Ghandi ring a bell? MLK? Occupy, while doing short-term good, was doomed to fail in the long run for lack of said leadership.

    Now, the question is whether Trump is a leader who is seeking to galvanize a cause for the rule of law over men, or whether he is seeking only the rule of himself for personal gain? I think we both know the answer.

    In conclusion, stop being so rude. It’s apparent from some of your other comments (such as the MERS issue) that you’re an intelligent person with something to contribute. However, you’re cheeky little quips undermine your credibility. And FYI, I came over from NakedCapitalism about the same time you did.

  43. realitychecker

    @ Webstir

    If you think I would bother to “lie” to you, about anything, then there is really no point in us having any further dialogue, is there?

    The other people here know me and know what I am about. You, in contrast, have just showed up and started acting like an arrogant troll from the get-go.

    Good luck.

  44. realitychecker

    @ Webstir

    You might want to look at the fifth comment in Ian’s following post. If you then have enough class to apologize for calling me a liar, we might be able to engage on a reasonable basis.

  45. Webstir


    Fair enough. Upon seeing the evidence I can entertain the notion that it was an honest mistake, and therefore, I apologize for calling you a liar.

    And yes, I’ll admit, I can come off as arrogant with those whom I disagree sometimes. My wife, in fact, just got after me this morning for it. I’m not blind to seeing the signs written in the tea leaves. I’ll do my best to tone down the snark.

  46. realitychecker

    @ Webstir

    Thank you, I appreciate that, and will be pleased to start over without rancor. You’re not the only one who has occasionally had too-sharp elbows, and I have promised Ian to try and be more polite. 🙂

    Having now read some of your comments here, I see we are much closer in our views than I had realized. Our main areas of disagreement seem to be, first, about Van Jones’ character, and second, about whether the electoral process holds any hope, and when and how a revolution might be needed and possible.

    I’m afraid we will never be able to agree about Van Jones. I’ve had him on my radar for a long time now, and can only see him as a fixer for the neoliberal Democrats. He is well-suited for that purpose, but that is his purpose, IMO.

    I am also beyond convincing that the Establishment’s election process can bring about the needed changes to avoid a future where regular folks will be treated like livestock.

    I supported Bernie as an outsider, then I supported Trump as the only remaining outsider, a status attested to by the universal opposition of every single Establishment actor. I only hope he will shake things up, which would be a good start compared to where we are now. If he betrays like Obama did, maybe it will bring people closer to the anger required to fight.

    Revolution would seem to me to be the only real hope, but I see no sign that the American public has the stomach to fight. If they did, given our modern surveillance environment, only ugly, spontaneous, de-centralized guerrilla tactics would have any hope of being effective, and I see nobody showing any awareness or pragmatism on that score.

  47. Tomonthebeach

    All Swords cut both ways.

  48. realitychecker

    @ Tomonthebeach

    The Zen is strong in this one.

    I guess we won’t use swords, then.

  49. Webstir

    Ok, I concede on the Van Jones point altogether. It struck me this morning that I was being blind to a rule of thumb which has long guided my leftist thoughts: Never trust an Ivy League’er. In fact, I think said standard for judging politicians should be the touchstone for the left regarding elections at every level. Ian should have included them on his list of “Groups Only A Fool Trusts” post because their motivations will always be to benefit their own little “league.”

  50. realitychecker

    @ Webstir

    This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. 🙂

    Seriously, it takes a lot of intellectual integrity to make a concession like that, so rare on the Internet, and I admire you for it. You will find me equally willing to make such concessions if and when I find myself on the wrong side of the available evidence, as sometimes happens despite my best efforts.

    The most important thing is to remain true to the goal of being accurate, IMO. Only when we see the data accurately can we expect our marvelous thinking abilities to do us any good.

    I happily anticipate good future interactions with you.

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